I’m a doer from way back. I like to be in motion, in action, achieving, creating, thinking – anything that doesn’t involve simply being. I do not like to sit with my thoughts – or worse, sit without my thoughts!
So I knew when I chose my word for the year that it was going to be a big challenge for me. You see being mindful says to me “slow down”, “focus”, “be still”. All of those things that don’t come naturally to me.
A few years ago when I was working in a particularly stressful job it was suggested to me that I try yoga as a form of relaxation. Big mistake. Far from making me a blissed out bubble yoga made me want to kill someone – just for something active to do! (For those who might be worried about my murderous intentions be assured I didn’t actually want to kill someone). Needless to say, yoga was not the form of relaxation for me at that time – no offence to all those yogis out there – I know it is an incredible form of exercise and support for so many. It just didn’t feel right for me.
And so I pushed on – I took up Pilates which I did, and do, find a great form of exercise for me. And it does help me to relax and recharge – but I know it is not enough. I know (as I tell my clients on an almost daily basis) that I need to be able to sit with what is happening for me and around me – just sit, and take it in – I just need to be. I need to be mindful.
But by god that is bloody hard!!
I have used my Smiling Mind app a few times this year – but I know I need to make that a daily practice if this mindfulness thing is ever going to become a part of me as opposed to just a passing phase. I am becoming more aware of mindfulness in my life and trying to capture moments and hold on them rather than just rushing through – especially when it comes to time with my daughter. I am using photography as a way of slowing down and taking notice of the little things (my photography skills are shit but I enjoy it!). In short, I am trying. But I know it will take time to move from being a doer to a be-er!
How about you? Do you struggle with just being? What are your strategies for slowing down?
I read this article on the weekend and it really resonated. So much so that I posted it to my personal Facebook page and spoke about how much I connected with it. A few people commented and liked the post – most seemed to be in agreement with my sentiment. A lot of my friends and family didn’t comment or like – and that’s ok, I kind of expected that. I know this is a sensitive, emotional and potentially confronting topic. But I guess what really made me want to share this article on my personal page was this line:
Remember the concept that launched The Real World (for those of us who remember when MTV played music videos) — “when people stop being polite and start getting real”? I’ve decided to get real, because I’m strong enough to be vulnerable. Who’s with me?
I’m with you Courtney. Being vulnerable is not my strong point – I like being in control and putting on a brave, strong face – ALL THE TIME! I found being a mum for the first time really put these personality traits of mine to the test – I felt vulnerable pretty much 24/7 and yet the messages I were receiving were “Sure, it’s tough, but isn’t it wonderful/glorious/amazing/incredible/the best time of your life?” Um – no! Don’t get me wrong – I love my Sweet Pea like the air I breathe, she is a core element of my life. This is not about her. It is about me and the fact that I was not created to enjoy or love the act of being a mum to a newborn. I barely survived that first year of my daughter’s life – and I don’t say that lightly. In the vein of “keeping it real” I remember one night when Sweet Pea was around 7 months old, she lay screaming in her cot where I had placed her after just attempting to rock and soothe her to sleep for what felt like the one hundredth time that day. I tried to block out the sound of her cries and screams with my own as I hurriedly looked on the computer to see if our health insurance covered an inpatient stay at a mental health facility. I was done. I felt wrecked beyond belief – this was not the best time of my life, it was the worst. Luckily for me I had amazing support from my partner and some beautiful friends and family. I made it thought that first year, mental health intact (barely!) and so did Sweet Pea who is now a gorgeous, feisty, funny and clever little two and a half year old.
One thing that might have helped me survive that first 12 months with a little more sanity would have been the feeling that it was ok for me to put up my hand and say “You know what, I love my baby but this gig is not for me”. I certainly did say that to a few trusted friends and my partner but it still felt like my dirty secret. So, in the hope that I can be of help to other new mums, and to support my own mothering journey, I’m putting my hand up to say I’ll be vulnerable. I’ll be honest and keep it real. No matter how scary that may be. How about you?