August 25, 2015

For ME – Mindful Self Care

I have always been one of those “over achievers”. The ones who is never content with herself…well, ever. I’m always researching, learning, exploring, shifting, taking it all into focus in my mind’s eye – trying to be the best me I can be. And frankly,

It’s exhausting.
I’ve always gotten straight A’s and done extracurriculars – stay focused and think about the end-of-the-year-project in September and have it done the week it’s assigned.
My favorite section of a book store – Self Help.
My favorite websites – personality quizzes, tests, predictors, research, health, wellness, self-improvement.
Is this something we are taught or is it Engrained? Written somewhere on my DNA before I came Earthside? Is it because I’m a middle child-always looking for that middle ground-the perfect way to appease EVERYONE? Or is it because I never had the self esteem or self confidence I deserved (even when everyone else in my life cheered me on)? What makes some people QUESTION their existence while others simply OWN it?
Someone once asked me what I was doing to decompress / find joy / do for myself. With great enthusiasm and excitement I told her I started running. And she looked at me. And I scrunched my eyes and tilted my head to the side “what?” I was expecting a much more enthusiastic response to my new hobby. Getting the endorphins going. Upping my winter-blues-with exercise. Shaping my body. And she looked at me and said … “What are you doing for you…that doesn’t involve improving you?” In other words…what are you doing for fun? For ME? 
That day I was so put off, even offended by our dialogue. How could she not show more positivity and enthusiasm for my new-found desire to run? And the more it stirred, the more I realized she struck a chord. And usually when we get defensive it’s a deeper reflection of ourselves…there is something there. 
The more I sat with it the more I began to see her point. And it was a good one. And she was so right. I don’t do much of anything FOR ME. Or just FOR FUN. For the pure joy of doing it. Of loving it. Of living in it. 
Of course I want to be the BEST Me I can be. But even that seems to set me up for failure. 
By acknowledging that there is likely a “better” version of myself, does that mean that this current version isn’t enough? Good enough? Lean enough? Intelligent enough? Enough?
Subconsciously, my personality set me up to believe I wasn’t ever enough. That I constantly had to change. And while I appreciate the importance of stretching and growing … I’m also learning that me – right here – right now – is enough
I am enough.
That is so incredibly simple and powerful.
So simple yet sometimes, so difficult to say. Usually it’s followed by “you are too” or “except when..” Or “but…”
I am enough.
There. I said it. I am Enough.
Yes. Me. This girl, right here. 
I am enough. 
I am deserving. And worthy. And filled with love. And hope. And joy. And life.
Somewhere along my Mama-journey I lost sight of that. Of MY worth. Of my being Enough.
Every time I turn around there is an unmet need. A beckoning. A calling out. A void only I can fill.
And it’s beautiful and purposeful and amazing and yet, often so messy and difficult and chaotic. It’s messy beautiful.
I have lived my life for my family. For my children. I have grown three amazing little souls inside my womb and birthed them into this world. I have breastfed for almost eight years straight. I have been away overnight from them for only 2 nights. Ever. And it was when I only had one little one Earthside. I am a work at home. Stay at home. Homeschooling Mom. 
Yes, somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself. Through foggy, sleepless nights…scrapes…boo-boo-kisses….angel hugs….play dough….and bath times…word problems …times tables..I lost sight of me.
The oh so very important ME. 
Every thing I was doing was to improve. To better. To be a better parent. Be a better mom. Be a better spouse. A better friend. A better housekeeper. A better planner. A better business owner. A better teacher. A better student. A better driver. A better communicator. A better citizen. A better lover. A better neighbor. A better daughter. A better sister. 
Some days I forget to acknowledge all the better and the best that is already deep within. That glows right now.
I am enough.
And while I hope that the years ahead will lead me on a journey of even greater and deeper self discovery …. I will continue to remind myself of the journey I’ve already embarked. And I will show up for me. Because if I can’t count on myself, who can I count on? 
This year I have been actively (very actively) trying to see and acknowledge my own needs. To rediscover myself. Jessica. Not wife. Not Mom. Not business owner. But, me. My hopes, my dreams. What brings me joy. Because, somewhere along the journey I kind of got lost in the shuffle. 
It has been humbling. And envigorating. And exciting to date myself. To rediscover me. Over a cup of tea. Mug of hot chocolate. A random doodle or stargaze. In a minute quote find or thought drift. 
I am reminding myself that it’s okay to tell my two year old he needs to wait to nurse until after I’ve finished my (still-warm) meal. And it’s okay to tell my four year old to get her own milk (even if she spills it) or wait a few minutes for my help because I just sat down. 
The other day I was at the pool. The children were all swimming, having a wonderful time in the water without me. Content. I enjoyed watching them and sitting poolside, relaxing….when I realized  I wanted to get in the pool to swim too. But it wasn’t for them, this time, like it usually is. And it wasn’t to “burn off that extra s’more” or even because I “should”. It was because I wanted to. I genuininely wanted to get into the water and move my body and feel my limbs float and sink and swim. A sensation I was unfamiliar with in the chaos if my every day life but a sensation that I am trying to feel and interpret with greater ease. 
That was such an aha moment for me. The internal dialogue was different this time. It wasn’t about me not being enough if I didn’t do it. It wasn’t about getting the better beach body. Or being a good Mom. It was about me, finding the joy and excitement in swimming and allowing myself to do it.
I am enough.
I am worth it.
Apparently swimming brings me joy.
What brings you Joy?

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