It is so easy to go through an entire mat leave being caught up in the day to day. The surface level tasks of maternity leave. Goodness. There are SO many. You could create an infinite list of things to do every day, that you couldn’t possibly accomplish in 14-16 waking hours.
The routine is soothing on many days, but after the first few months of adjustment passed, I felt ready to dig a bit deeper beyond the surface of my everyday. To go deep.
I knew this was becoming a need, because I felt a tingle of frustration when somebody asked me surface level questions like how many hours my little girl slept the night before. Valid question, but surface conversations left me hanging, craving more, wanting more connection. I didn’t want my conversations to match the surface level tasks of each day.
I started listening to my mind, beyond the hum drum of to dos and other tasks of daily life. I realized there were some profound thoughts swimming just below the surface. But I had a baby brain. It was foggy. Each thought would fade away so quickly.
As I write this I see a snowflake coming down, and catching it. But as I try to take in the beautiful patterning, it melts away before I get an idea of the shape. Those deep thoughts in maternity leave are just as tricky.
Over the months I began to research, study and listen to others. I came across a common theme among “the greats” of various disciplines. They all talked about flow.
And I began to play with it.
And that was when it all made sense. You know those moments of realization where your entire world has shifted a bit? Like when you were a kid and finally solved a math equation and understood how to do it? Ah-hah.
Most often, the magical, deep thoughts would appear immediately after times of flow.
What is Flow?
Flow is a state of being where time disappears, where the thoughts cease to whir, where you lose yourself in the task at hand. It is a fascinating frontier of human psychology and research. Almost every incredible great philosopher, thinker, inventor, creative, entrepreneur. Every.Single.One of them talks about using the flow state to unlock the power of their specific talents. Here is a wonderful TED talk on the state.
Guess what? Maternity leave is very, very special because you’ve been given the gift of flow. by that sweet baby you have. Maybe you don’t even know it… .
Think about the last time you rocked your baby to sleep but got completely lost in their eyes, looking at the beautiful little rivers of light and starbust shapes in their retina, thinking that there is an entire universe in there.
Or do you remember their first days on earth? When they had that strange, oily film over those deep, dark newborn eyes?
Each time, you had beautiful deep thoughts as you got lost in those eyes and rocked that baby. You have the opportunity to go into flow every.single.day with these babies.
What a gift.
Other forms of flow:
My other flow state is also trail running. I am so with the present moment that my mind shuts down. I am just existing; just breathing in a rhythm going along with feet crunching in the soft snow. Totally unaware of everything and anyone. Runners call it the “zone” – it’s just another word for the flow state.
After each run, as I slow my pace down to a walk and enjoy the last 500m back to my house at a leisurely pace, it’s like a tap starts flowing. All sorts of ideas for projects, all sorts of topics I want to blog about, all sorts of creative ideas. The tricky part is these thoughts fade away as quickly as they arrive.
When your mind is “flowing” it’s like waking up from a dream.
The moment you get out of bed, those dreams fade away. Just like a snowflake you try to grasp them, and remember them. But alas.
I think there’s some magic in there.
These awe inspiring ideas and thoughts we have, that start flowing out of the deep recesses of our brain after being in the flow state. These thoughts we have that don’t even exist physically in any form… yet have the ability to change our physical life.
Enter the Journal
So I started capturing them. The thoughts, the images, the ideas, realizations. I carry a paperblank journal wherever I go, in my handbag with a pen that I love to use.
The ink flowing on the paper is deeply cathartic as I release that idea into the world by acknowledging it, and placing it in a journal for safekeeping.
What have been some of the things I captured after flow state?
~The first idea to become a fully certified ontological coach. It forever altered the way I live my life and fast tracked me to happiness.
~Ideas about how to launch my coaching business & the name for it
~The idea to start The Great Maternity Leave
~The entire mission statement for the Great Maternity Leave
~The rich imagery for a childrens’ book I am writing at the moment. After my flow state I record each now “idea” that come for the next page in the book.
~New jewellery designs for my Etsy store
The list goes on, and on.
I’ll confess, I’m addicted to journalling in itself. I love the process of buying beautiful journals, whose archival quality paper are a dream to write on.
Make it a Beautiful Ritual
Every time I start a new journal, I assign myself an evening once the kids are down and go to chapters or a stationary store. I get a hot drink and leisurely look through all of the journals and pens, and pick one of each. It takes me back to the thrill of stationary shopping at back-to-school time. Do you remember how much you loved doing that?
It’s important to remember to infuse enjoyable little things into our lives. Sometimes we don’t have much time to spare, or money to spare. This activity costs less than $25 and takes less than an hour. It is such a perfect treat on mat leave and is so enjoyable.
But What if Flow State is Too Much for Me to Take On Right Now?
Of course, flow is easier said than done. Because you’re not in flow if you’re thinking about it.
Sometimes you don’t have time to go into flow state for profound insight.
In this case, I say, get into the flow state during journalling.
On maternity leave, the baby fog is tricky, and that is why I am such a big fan of a particular journal made by Studio Oh! Called “Be Yourself; Everybody Else is Already Taken.”
This journal is a guided introspective journal.
It’s like having someone sitting there, asking you fascinating questions; about your life, your childhood, your philosophies, what makes you happiest – things that you never sit down and think about in day to day life.
In fact, in our selfless service to our babies and family, do you ever think, “I wish somebody would just ask me about my philosophies or ideas about x, I have so much to offer on this topic.”
I’ve often caught myself at dinners, dancing in surface level conversation about my maternity leave days, feeling a bit resentful, thinking “why aren’t you asking me deep questions? I do more than just look after these babies!” You see the crazy stuff I write about on this blog. It’s like a glimpse, a teeny tiny preview of my mind on a minute to minute basis.
It’s a pleasure to work through this particular journal. Finally! Being asked to think deeply, about our lives, our imaginations, the silly little things through out our lives that have made us happiest, our favourite childhood memories. Every page is beautifully illustrated as it asks a new question. Though it is a conversation had in silence, the craving to honour and dance with our own depth is fulfilled.
It sits beside my bed with a beautiful pen. And once in a while, I dig it out and turn to a page randomly. In the quiet hours before sleep, I dig into memories, peel back the layers and make connections between my childhood and who I’ve become today. What a beautiful activity as I create and shape my own childrens’ lives, as I decide what my gift to them will be in this earthly life.
In these days of selfless duty, service to others, and outward living, it is all the more important to have the opportunity to recharge; to turn inward, and fulfill our inherent need to go beyond the surface and access our own deep intelligence, creativity and problem solving.
Try it out sometime.