Mindfulness is something we all need to practice more in our daily activities. Personally, I love living in the moment of every experience of my day. I spent too many years living in survival mode and unable to appreciate the little things that make life amazing and magical.
Now, life finds me with an amazing husband, my wonderful children and step-children, a job I enjoy and a circle of friends who are the bomb.
Living in each moment and absorbing all the magic is truly a delight.
The sound of our children’s laughter, the sparkle in their eyes, the smell of homemade pizza, a moment to cuddle, the warmth of the sun, the first notes of a sound check, quiet moments of reflection on a new hiking trail, biting into a still warm chocolate chip cookie… saturate yourself in the simplicity and magic of every moment.
Not only is this great for your psychological wellbeing, many physical health benefits have been discovered as well. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure (I can attest to this), reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
My husband and I, from the day we met, love the simple moments of being together: story telling, cribbage playing, some local storm chasing, hikes along beautiful trails and at the end of the day, when our home has quieted, recapping our day and envisioning our tomorrow.
I would encourage us all to make more time to be mindful during our day to day activities. Far too often people are all about their work, building their business, scrolling Facebook or Pinterest and the say becomes a blur and their relationships become secondary. Personally, I set time aside to do social media or writing in order to optimize my time so I can focus on those people and moments in my life without other distractions. ❤
Sometimes we get tunnel vision. Our sites become set on the wrong targets.
A few months ago, my energies were on seeing the negative actions and energies that made their way into our, otherwise, very peaceful environment.
Where focus goes, there we will find ourselves. So, I made a shift.
People make choices. I can only be responsible for my own choices. Sometimes that is simply my reaction to their choices…
Once focus changed, life felt much lighter.
What do you want to spend your time, energies and focus?
I know what I choose.
I spent 4 absolutely glorious and magical days on 120 acres of the most beautiful and peaceful land around.
The minute you step out of your vehicle, you can feel your blood pressure drop and those burdens your weary shoulders carry fall to the ground. This little piece of “heaven” is a short drive from my home and worth every penny of gas money.
The best part of my weekend was in the being: being present, being together, being mindful, being unplugged.
My encouragement would be for you to find somewhere or something that allows you to do the same – wherever/whatever it is, just unplug and refresh.
Having been a mom at the tender age of 18, I have been a mom to many for more than half my life. When I was 22 years old, my, now, ex-husband brought four other children into my life. 22 years old and I was a mother to five children, and they are amazing children.
At ages 26 and 29, I had two more of my own biological children. Not even 30 years old and I was responsible for 7 human beings (2 of whom lived with their mom full time and visited us when they could).
I love being a mom. I don’t think there is anything quite so rewarding, exhausting and nerve-wracking as parenthood. It is truly an adventure with many peaks, valleys and plot twists and sometimes we get so busy and so caught up in our parenting role and in what society thinks that should be that we lose sight of who we are.
Here’s what happened along my journey. As a teen mom, my daughter and I had a great routine together. Her father and I were very young and very immature and he simply was not ready for the responsibility of being a parent. He was angry a lot, neglectful and began throwing terrible temper tantrums that caused potentially dangerous scenarios. I chose to remove myself and my daughter from that environment. He chose his own path. I do not begrudge him for his choices. I don’t understand them but that is his burden to bear.
In those years of single parenting, I still had my friends and still had a social life with them (at times some would say too much of one). My ex-husband came into my life, and, as I stated previously, I endured many years of abuse which included being unable to have any contact with my friends and very minimal contact with my family.
Soon I lost who I was…other than being a mom. My identity was allowed to be in a few certain things: the children, his church and a few hand picked people I was allowed to speak with. I had zero idea who I was and, once I found my strength and freedom from that scenario, I began a major rebuild and put myself on the path of rediscovery – using the activities I once loved as my starting point.
I read something very recently “Mother is a verb. It is something you do. Not just who you are”.
This resonated within me.
I have met so many women who lost themselves during the active years of motherhood and were completely beside themselves when their children moved on to their next stage and adventure of life.
Moms, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job not to lose ourselves in the process.
Make time to take time for yourself – whether it’s connecting with a friend/your spouse, going for a walk/yoga class/painting, or locking yourself in the bathroom with a bath bomb, a glass of wine, soft music and candlelight or getting your hands dirty digging in the garden…just do something for you, for you to enjoy… Hell, I’ve even happily gone to a movie on my own if no one was available to go with me.
Don’t lose yourself to your other relationships, friends. Our relationships should be an extension of us not a consumption of us.
Take some time in stillness to meditate and reflect on you and your needs. Motherhood (Fathers this can be directed at you as well) does not equal martyrdom.
Coming on 25 years ago this August, I lay in a hospital bed in the maternity ward. After complications during the end of my pregnancy, I was an 18 year old girl with a new baby who had just had an emergency C-section 2 days earlier. I was still under Doctor’s orders to be on bedrest when this tall, blond lady bound into our shared room with her giant (twice as big as my petite little gal) of a baby.
We spent our time visiting and became fast friends, then best friends and eventually sisters.
We lived through a lot together…a lot.
In a few short weeks, it will be 5 years since I opened my phone and saw that her son, my nephew, had been killed. I can still recall the feeling of my blood as it seemingly drained from my body. I walked out of my office at work in shock and told my coworkers. Many arms outstretched to comfort me. I stepped back.
“Don’t touch me! If you do, I will lose my shit and I have to go tell my daughter her longest and closest friend is gone.”
I got in my car and drove to her work, thoughts ringing loudly in my head. How do I tell her that just a few short days before her wedding she lost this important and irreplaceable treasure?
Five years later it is no easier to understand, to process or to accept.
Sixteen months ago I got a call my daughter was in labor with her first child. The moment I started my car “Still Breathing” by Green Day began to play and it played the entire (short) drive to the hospital. I cried the whole trip….ugly cried.
Today I jumped in my car and a sweet little reminder of my boy was on the radio, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”…Green Day…his favorite band…
I cried, all the way home. Hard cried. Head pounding, eyes swollen, “can’t I have a nap” cried.
Losing a child in your life is hard. My nephew was not sick; this wasn’t expected. He was simply gone. His mom described it best to me; it’s like “a sudden and unexpected amputation”. It truly is and we get to spend the rest of our lives relearning to do things (even simple every day things) without that huge part that has been amputated.
Everyone’s grief looks differently; everyone’s soul “heals” on it’s own terms. Please, don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re grieving wrong (don’t confuse that with choosing an unhealthy way to grieve) or taking too long.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to wrap myself in the sounds of his favorite band and enjoy some sweet memories and I will laugh and I will cry and I may even “ooglay” cry and that’s ok.
“‘Cause I’m still breathing
‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way away
‘Cause I’m still breathing
‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way away
My way to you” – Green Day “Still Breathing”
There are as many opinions on what the role of a step-parent should be doing (or not doing) as there are opinions of what parents should or should not be doing.
What is a step-parent to do?
You know there will be people who will protest your actions and investments as a step-parent no matter what you do. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and that is perfectly ok. These same people will more than likely overlook you as existing let alone as having a parental role in the children’s lives. Guess what? That’s ok as well.
Are you doing what is right and what is needed within your family dynamic? Are you, your spouse, your children (regardless of prefix) happy with the role you are playing in their lives? Those are the only valid opinions in this convoluted step/parenting web.
Before I even moved in with my husband, we sat down and discussed his expectations of me with his kids and my expectations of him with mine. “If you are part of my life, you are part of theirs, in full capacity of a parental role.” Luckily, we were completely on the same page.
We each agree that the other is not just there to be a buddy to the children, a live-in baby sitter or simply play a supporting role to the “parents ” while hiding in the shadows. We are parents and we shall act accordingly and unified. We have both played step-parenting roles before where the expectations of us were to behave just as we would toward, and for, our biological children. This is the desire we share for our family; there is no division or line drawn in the sand of who can do or say what to which children.
So, as a step-parent, what is your role? You need to ask 3 opinions to find that out and I would suggest having this discussion early enough in your relationship that you can see if you have conflicting opinions.
1. your own
2. your spouse’s
3. the children
Let the opinions of others simply be that. They have no weight nor merit in your life or circumstance. That is simply a weight they need to carry.
Love your life, parents. Enjoy your children. The nights are long but the years are short and soon this time with your children will be a faded memory.