“Mommmmmmmyyyyy,” my three year old called to me to come into my bedroom. I was in a hurry, showering quickly, sighing as I put my hair up in a ponytail yet again, and worrying about getting out the door. In the first few seconds, I was annoyed she called me. But half way through her saying “mommy,” I heard it:
“This is it, Lisa,” a voice from within me said, “This is what matters. There’s delight in in her voice. Don’t crush it or hurry it. ”
“Mommy,” she said, as I walked out into the bedroom…exhaling, softening my shoulders, relaxing my body. The first thing I saw was her little face filled with love and delight.
“Did you know?” she started in a sing songish voice, “some times we hide pwesents for people we wuve and they have to find them!” She had made gifts and hid them while I was in the shower. “Now you have to go and find them!” Bubbling with anticipation, eyes fully on me, inviting me to join in her delight, she started to lead me to her hiding places for my “gifts.” One was on the altar next to a candle and a statue of a woman deep in prayer reminding me that I need to pause there more often. One tucked in my nightstand, on top of the box of notes I’ve kept from Brian over the years reminding me that we used to send love notes to each other all the time.
She tiptoed to the hiding spots and carefully, delightfully, gave my my gifts. They were wrapped in gently crumbled/folded stationary from my former position at Georgetown – with all my credentials and title.
Two plastic bracelets. “Your favorite color, mommy! Turquoise!”
Fairy stickers – her precious fairy stickers.
And a picture. “I drew this for you. See, mommy, it’s you and you are smiling” she said as she pointed to the picture, looked up at me, and back at the picture again, showing me how it so closely resembles me.
“Thank God I didn’t yell,” I thought, as I stood there once again on this holy ground. A three year old – my flesh and blood – full of generosity, full of tiny gifts filled with one desire: to delight my heart.
“Thank God she drew me smiling,” I thought next.
It has taken me many years to realize what small stuff you don’t have to sweat and what tiny stuff you focus on, linger in, and treasure. I mess up. I yell. I come down punitively instead of building up positively. I get super stressed and myopically focus on, harp on, and dwell on stuff that doesn’t really matter.
But this past year, I made time to really sit back and see our life. We decided to make some big changes based on what mattered most to us. And I realized something: I needed spaciousness – in mind, heart, day and schedule.
So I left my awesome, designed-for-me position at Georgetown University. I had tried to make it work — I analyzed, I got organized, I reorganized, I adjusted schedules, I listened to soothing podcasts in the car to try and make my commute more tolerable. I did everything humanly possible – for me, for our family. And then we faced the fact: it wasn’t working.
That’s when I surrendered to the truth within me that I could no longer deny. It was a huge risk. It was terrifying. But there comes a moment when you know what you have to do. So you do it.
And six months later? It was the best decision – for my own well-being and my family. Georgetown called and wanted me back – I reduced my hours so minimally that it is doable, nourishing, and I love what I do. I’m still amped up at times. I’m still getting that commute out of my nervous system. There are times I get overwhelmed and react.
But, dear friends, I tell you honestly – I have spaciousness. I have a clearer mind. I have the energy to really SEE my children and be present with them. I’ve started to ease up on myself – and that means easing up on my dear ones. We have created a nourishing spaciousness that enables me to let go of harping on the small stuff and embrace the tiny things that matter.
The truth is that when we are always amped up and stressed out, we live in a constant state of fight or flight, ready to explode, implode or numb out. Our attention is myopically focused on what’s wrong. The small messy stuff looks gigantic. We see the snow boots blocking the door, coats discarded and dropped on the floor, paint from art projects on the faucet knobs, clothes stained, rooms unorganized…and it makes us flip our lids. And the beautiful, quieter, delight-filled stuff…well, gets trashed, dismissed, hurried and overlooked.
I kept seeing it time and time again in my own life and in the lives of my clients, friends, and acquaintances. We hear it on the playground, on playdates, at dance class, on the sports field, and in the music lesson. All of us living with amped up nervous systems, hurrying, lonely, sweating the small stuff, and missing the tiny miraculous stuff.
This tells me how stressed and under resources we are, mamas, and how deeply we need to be nourished, renewed and replenished. When we are resourced, we make decisions with the executive functioning parts of our brains instead of constantly reacting from and getting amped up by our reptilian “dinosaur” brains. When we are resourced, we have abundance to offer instead of morsels of patience, presence, and kindness.
It’s time, mamas, to be nourished down into every cell in your body, on every level. And yes, it is possible. And it won’t come from trying harder or finding a “better way” to be “more organized.”
~ It comes from surrendering.
~ It comes from learning how to nourish yourself throughout the day. And doing it.
~ It comes from taking ownership over and responsibility for your mood, your “now,” your health, your future, your response, your history, your life.
~ It comes from naming what you need – to heal, to grieve, to have good friends in your life, to have a voice.
~ It comes from doing what has to be done, and often that means making some tough decisions.
And so when your daughter comes calling you – whether she is three or 13 – you can feel your feet on the earth, breathe into spaciousness, know instantly what matters most, and SEE your daughter…and the hidden gifts, the obvious gifts, the not-so-pretty-and-in-disguise gifts, and the beautiful gifts – and cherish them.
Dear friends, readers, and fellow compassionate, under-resourced mamas – I wasn’t planning on writing another post before the end of the year. And then my little honey gave me her tiny gift: her delight-filled presence. I knew I had to share. So I hope this posted inspires you, mama, soulful friend, to start 2014 out by nourishing YOU so you have the eyes, energy, heart, time, and presence to see the tiny gifts that matter – already here in your everyday life.
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December is a great time to take one of my courses. May I suggest “Your Word for the Year” – a 7-day online course designed to help you identify and live your word for the year.
And “Treating Yourself as a Beloved” – my 14-day online course filled with embodiment practices to nourish you – body and soul.