I do something called nature coaching where I use the natural world to help clients shift their mindset, physiological and psychological state. It’s fun and I never know what lesson nature will offer that day, so it is a practice I enter with curiosity and excitement. I’ve developed many of the techniques while out walking with my baby on each maternity leave, and I wanted to share one that has stuck with me. I find it very helpful when I experience the anxiety of the fourth trimester when my body is on high alert for everything(!)
This is a very calming and grounding mindful practice, and short nature-based meditation that you can do while walking that uses your senses instead of your breath.
This is perfect for the days when you are out with the baby in a stroller (and hopefully said baby is sleeping!) I also find this an effective technique when breath-based meditation is not available to me (I suffer from chest pain when I take deep breaths, as a result of an auto-immune disease called ankylosing spondylitis which causes interesting flare ups in unexpected places haha.)
This practice has the same benefits as breathing-based meditations and walking-based meditations, but it includes a sensory component (since you are out in beautiful nature.) The sensory component I actually adapted from some training that Navy SEALS do (!)
I explain in this youtube video! Enjoy, and try it out on your next stroller walk!
Welcome back from the long weekend, everybody!
A thought for you to meditate on today, as you go about your day.
Story telling versus story making.
Think about where you want to be in 5 years. Are there changes you want? I’m guessing the answer is YES.
So let me ask you this: Will that future version of yourself, living that future life, still be walking around telling the same stories about yourself? The world? The way things are going?
Will you get there if you keep telling all of those old stories, that keep you where you are today?
Or is it time to start writing some new ones? How can you shift a little bit of your day? Your thinking? The way you talk about yourself? What you commit to doing with a friend this week? Start writing some new sentences.
It’s your story. Take the plot where you want it to, but remember to pick up the pen first.
Trail running is amazing because it puts us into flow state, from which our greatest insights and ideas come. I love to coach in nature (I guess you could say I do “nature coaching” or “nature life coaching”) and for me, trail runs are like a ridiculous download from the deepest recesses of my mind.
Today I offer you a wonderful tool on how to leave your past in the past, and start moving towards your future mindfully.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what the heck happens to us on maternity leave. Why do we become so afraid of things that were simple daily functions before (unfolding the stroller for the first time? Going out in public with a baby for the first time?)
Seriously, where does all of this total internal doubt come from? Why is it so bad on maternity leave? Who is this fearful anxious person and where the hell did she come from?
It is a strange experience to have your first baby and consequently have the shell of comfort and security cracked wide open.
EVERYTHING is new and NOTHING is comfortable in the fourth trimester.
It’s only when you look back at photos of newborn baby two years later that actually ‘enjoy’ your baby and have warm fuzzy memories. And when you realize that you finally feel good about your mat leave a year afterwards, you’re like geez, what was I so worried about?
I’ll tell you right now, it’s not you, it’s your brain. It is designed to worry and keep you safe and alive, not happy and growing.
I have come to believe (now that I’ve done it three times) that this initial torment of maternity leave and new motherhood is A GIFT. It teaches us to overcome our own brain and our own biological instincts.
It will take me a few paragraphs to lay this idea out, so bear with me.
We don’t like to push the edges of our comfort zones. This is exactly why personal training as an industry exists. Trainers push us harder than we would go. It is a very small % of the population who push themselves beyond their comfort zone in the gym. Usually, those people are professionals.
Having a baby is like having a personal trainer who pushes all of your comfort zones – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
In addition to having all of our boundaries pushed, we get a bit messed up as well, because our day becomes one of many “human doing” tasks. Amongst all of the “doing” and “laundry” and “diapers” we retreat inside ourselves. On maternity leave, our own internal chatter becomes a loud roar. There’s so much to do on the outside during maternity leave. But there is SO MUCH MORE going on in the inside. Massive love, massive fear, massive engagement, massive suffering, massive doubt, massive confidence. It’s so confusing.
The fourth trimester is a time of contrasts.
There is rich growth + reflection + introspection.
There is also a hell of a lot of doubt, negative internal talk and fear.
Why? The brain and biology of a new mom screaming is a very anxious voice that is pointing out danger EVERYWHERE. You can’t blame your brain. It is collaborating with your hormones and nervous system to keep you and your baby alive and your hormones well tell you EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS. Your brain’s priority in the fourth trimester is not your happiness. It is staying alive.
This is what your brain says to you in the fourth trimester:
“F your sleep, you hear that baby crying? YES. I’m sending you panic hormones right now so that you hear every sound and snuffle, and you will definitely wake up to crying. F your sleep.”
Your brain knows you won’t die with no sleep. So it won’t let you. See? Your brain is entirely unconcerned with your happiness, your wellbeing or any of that. It’s concerned with keeping you and babykins alive. Basic needs.
So how do we manage this?
How do we prevent ourselves from spiralling down into a deep place of self doubt, isolation, anxiety and fear?
How do we make mat leave about growth and expansion rather than isolation and contraction?
I really care about this topic because I contracted on the first, and somewhat on the second mat leave, and began to expand on the second and third mat leaves.
There are so many things to share with you but today, I want to share on Flow State. It is a very specific, very intentional practice that SHUTS DOWN the parts of your brain that are concerned with doubt, self talk, anxiety, etc. We have enough moments in our day where we worry and contract. Let’s carve out some space in our internal worlds to trust and expand, and that starts with activities that put us in flow state.
If you’d like to dive into the science of flow state (they’ve literally scanned the brains of people in flow state) activities that get you in flow and how you can start doing it today, just click onto the next article.
If you read this article and thought YES, YES and YES this is me! Then take the next step. Learn about the science of flow state and start practising it in your life. This is your first chance to practice growth and expansion on mat leave. If you don’t click on the article, then you are staying where you are and staying comfortable. 🙂 That is okay too, sometimes we need to hold the boat steady, stop it from rocking. But once it’s stopped rocking and we are ready to go somewhere, we need to put the sails back up.
(oh and sorry I HAD to use the Moana boat as an analogy. I’m a parent of a 4 year old girl and Moana is AWESOME. And the song lyrics are weirdly approprio for this article.)
You know that time… at the end of the day, when you are totally tapped out with your kids. Or, perhaps, when you are coming home from work a bit drained, and feeling entirely unprepared to step into “Mom?” with little people full of sparkles and light and energy, when that’s hardly what you are full of? Yeah, me too.
It’s always hard resetting our energy, our body language, our mindset and attitude. Collectively we can call these our “disposition.” You can see dispositions in your partner too. When they come home from work, are they still in work mode? Do they step right into family mode? or somewhere in between? The shift is hard, and it takes a lot of awareness. At work I am paid to come up with ideas, be creative and be deep in thought and research whilst sitting still (mind body and emotional states are different).
At home, I am most effective as a fully present, playful, yet grounded mother.
I’m a scientific person and I like evidence, so when I heard about breathing exercises, I liked the scientific evidence that it downregulates our nervous system and rushing mind, but it didn’t quite land. What I need is to connect the dots in my own life. I need to practice something myself and see for myself the benefits.
Years ago, I discovered a very quick and easy technique that I do literally every time I step into different roles or environments. I’m a visual person so I like rich visuals – so once again I have engaged with my terrible water colour painting skills to help “paint” a visual of this exercise.
I originally learnt this exercise from a Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine and to make it connect for me, I adapted the application and visual how my brain works.
You may think at first that that world is very different from the maternity leave world, but it is not at all. For example, we are all humans, we are all working with 60,000 thoughts a day, how to not engage with all of them and stay focused on the clear priorities, values and results we want. Some of the most useful things I have acquired from people like Mark, are super relevant in my own life. I absolutely loved his book The Way of the Seal and most of the practices from that book, I have adapted to my own Commander Mom life, haha.
So, I present to you, a very quick adaptation of Commander Divine’s Box Breathing Method that is very, very useful and relevant to our life as mothers.
Kicking the iPhone addiction is about cultivating a greater awareness and also greater intentionality with phone usage. I run several businesses on my iPhone alone, and I love social media, so I am as guilty as anyone else for spending too much time on this little box of fun. Honest to goodness, I started getting numbness in my little fingers from holding the phone with them. That’s always a pretty good sign, isn’t it?
One of the foundations of my work as a coach, is helping people change their actions. I don’t tell people to do something differently, I simply help them shift their perspective. When you see something differently, you find it easier to take different actions.
It is fun seeking out and trying on different mindsets and perspectives, and in the hunt for new ways to see things, we find ones that stick, and DO permanently shift our view. Today I wanted to offer what helped shift my view on my iPhone. Though I still have to use it alot, I am more intentional with it, and am very guilty of “forgetting it” or “not having it on me” which is code for I happily left it at home to hang with my family.
So here’s a picture I wanted to share with you today. Feel free to pin it, share it if you feel it may help someone else regain control over the phone. The difference between iPhone as a useful tool and iPhone as a harmful tool is whether we are an active, strategic and intentional user (and aware of such use) – or – a passive user and unaware of the extent of our use.
The iPhone can be an amazing tool for inspiration, motivation, connection and enhancing the lifestyle you have. Or it can go the opposite way and cause you to miss out on the life in front of you, because your face is in your phone.
It can also be like any other addictive tool. A short, quick hit of pleasurable dopamine (a like or a comment) or an escapist moment, to depart from the pain of reality in the present.
Remember, it’s always your choice.
YOU use the iPhone, it does not use you.
Ask yourself why you use it. Are you using IT to augment and design your own reality? Or is IT using you as you try to escape your own reality?
Powerful questions. I think we all catch ourselves in different places along this spectrum. The key is to be aware of WHEN our iPhone usage escalates and WHY it does. Always remember to use it for the right reasons, as I speak to today’s instagram post of the above image. Just click on the image to check it out.
My husband and I are always game for a challenge, and last month when my car was stolen, we saw it as a fun opportunity to try and get by with one car for a month. We enjoy challenges like this. It definitely has been interesting and challenged us in many ways, most notably logistically. You become an expert at logistics when you have 5 people going in 5 directions and one car between all of you, and you’re trying to get back into work after a year’s mat leave and you’re both kind of spontaneous people. But I digress. That’s another blog post entirely.
The reason I mentioned this though, is because it provides a bit of background for why I have had so much time for meditation lately: I’ve been taking an hour-long train ride to work and am back on the meditation train (pun intended.)
Each time I get on the train, I excitedly open my favourite app, Insight. I first downloaded the Insight meditation app last year and it was the third app I tried after Headspace, which I still love and use for my kids, and Calm, which I didn’t love. Calm just didn’t catch on for me.
I enjoy the fun of hunting for and saving new meditations with different voices, approaches, topics and lengths. Insight is like the facebook of meditation where you can follow people, and do meditations based on how much time you have, topics or even styles. You can follow people, or save individual meditations. I have a stash of meditations saved in my bookmark folder, and I choose them based on what I need.
Lately I’ve needed to ground myself and simply feel peaceful amidst a ton of chaos in external life. In July I returned to work after a year on mat leave, had my car stolen, been diagnosed with a disease and had a major surgery. So, it’s not surprising I’ve felt the need to pause. What marked a major change for me in July, after years of meditating, is my first thought when I considered what I needed was – yes – meditation. This is a shift.
I have moved from I should do meditation (and then remember here and there) to I am craving meditation (and make it a daily practice)
I’ve been practicing (and exploring) meditation on and off since 2013 when I had my first baby and attended a mama meditation workshop. From there, I was hooked, though I should have known it would be my jam way back in my hot yoga days, when I LIVED for savasana and spent the hour looking forward to that divine rest at the end 😉
As I shift into a daily practice that is now a habit that I crave, there’s a few things I’ve realized. So I bring to you, the things I have learnt from five years of practicing meditation.
-You have to find the style. I am picky about voices. I hate bells and “unexpected sounds” in meditation. I like deeper voices. In the early stages, find what seems to resonate with you and soothe you. We all resonate with different energies and that includes the energy that a voice projects, or the sound waves in a meditation recording.
-There are many styles of meditation: Music or sound-based (like crystal bowls) walking meditation, nature meditation, guided meditation, mantra meditation, breathing meditation, even swimming meditation. As you go down the meditation road, you have no choice but to try them all on for size, find out what you like and don’t like and take note of the ones that seem to get you into a pretty deep state. I discovered 2 years into the process, that I loved guided meditations. These seem to be my jam. I loved savasana back in my hot yoga days but found the silence too long for my untrained brain. I still find long silences hard.
-It does get easier to get into a deep meditative brain state with practice, but you have to use it or lose it. If I have meditated consistently (daily) for a good week, I’ll get into a deeper state faster. If I haven’t done it in a while, it will actually take 2 or 3 separate meditation sessions to ‘get back’ to that zoned out state.
-Meditation opens up your intuition and creative brain. In times of regular meditative practice I find myself much more creative, full of good ideas and able to think outside of the box. There’s extensive neuroscience that supports this theory. If you want a super interesting googling session, type “meditation “flow state” “creativity” “intuition” in that little google box and prepare to be fascinated (and probably up reading until 1am.)
-It is very (we are talking profoundly) true that meditation enhances your ability to take a gentle approach to all of the events in your life, and it cultivates a kinder, gentler, quieter version of self-talk. Meditation cultivates your ability to pause, take a step back, notice what is happening and be able to practice peace and non-attachment. You find that you begin to treat yourself kindly and gently, as you do the events around you.
Meditation cultivates your outside observer, or spiritual side. The eternal part of your soul that is watching the human experience unfolding before you (that is your life as you know it) with a knowing smile. This is one of the main reasons I am so thankful that I discovered meditation. It has been an amazing tool in tough times. It has been a key in mental resilience and my eternal positivity. It has let me handle some wild rides in this adventure called life. I’ve used it a lot in the last little few years, particularly the most profound moments.
I did one in 2016, before saying goodbye to my father in law who was on life support in the ICU. It helped me say goodbye with peace and love, without attaching myself to the human drama going on around me that was not of my own. I was able to think and act with clarity and honour my emotions in the days following, without attaching to them or judging them.
I also went into meditation the night my mum passed away in hospice in 2013. In that state, I was able to feel the moment her soul departed and sat up, waiting for the nurse to enter to let us know. I’ll always see that as a special gift and one of the profound moments that led me deeper into exploring meditation and the spiritual side of things. If you engage with the meditation journey, and stick with it, you will have a few profound moments. These will be the proof that your mind wants. These will also be the truth that your soul has always known (that your brain may have ignored for a while.)
-Meditation has been the best tool for helping me ‘reset’ when I shift into a different environment or role. Meditating on the train this past week has helped me leave my work behind, re-ground, become peaceful and set a blank slate for the next part of my day: Returning home a present and mindful parent for the kids (and not preparing dinner in a panicky get-it-down rush.) I do some of these exercises with coaching clients, particularly if they walk into the room with their energy and emotions from earlier events in the day. Together we clear the space, the energy and their minds before engaging in coaching.
-Meditation before bed has helped with my nightmares. I’ve always had an extremely creative imagination which makes for some absolutely wild nighttime dreams, many of which have been quite scary. I go through phases of nightmares, especially when I feel my mental health backsliding a bit or my healthy lifestyle habits slipping. Meditation seems to help before bed and prevent the wild and wacky nightmares. I can’t explain why, but once again, I’m sure a bunch of googling and scientific research will reveal that!
If you’ve been fascinated by it, honestly give it a go. You can’ t just lie on the floor and meditate with kids running around, so some tips from this mama to other mamas:
Sneak it in when you are putting your kids down, try the headspace app or a children’s meditation but go along with it as well as you lie by your kids. you’re doing a great thing for them too!
Get over worrying about other people. If you do it at work, you’ll be somewhere with your eyes closed, and someone will look at you while you have your eyes closed. Don’t worry about it. It’s increasingly commonplace. Remember that 15 minute break you never take? Yes… you know where I am going with that.
Take 10 minutes in on your commute before you “enter” the next stage of your day. Or, even the next role in your day, ie: from employee, to mom. From mom, to wife. From awake, to asleep. It’s a really nice way to transition. Meditation doesn’t just “clean the slate” of your mind and thinking patterns, it truly does reset your body, your posture and the energy you bring to your next interaction.
The next time you can’t sleep or have a toss and turn night, take 10 minutes and do one, I strongly recommend “bone deep sleep” (link below.)
To get you started, here are a few of my favourite guided meditations on the Insight app, as well as a link to the Mindful Kids youtube channel which has the most AMAZING relaxing music for the kids. We have two favourite videos from this channel which I’ve screen shotted for you (click on the picture and it will take you there.)
Insight App – My Current Favourites:
Youtube: My Current Music Favourites / Kids Favourites
This one in the evening or quiet time, the imagery is lovely to play on our tv in the background.
This one for bed time (it relaxes all of us, not just the kids!)
Image: Stock Image, Colourbox.
This image right below, is of the Hoover Dam. An engineering marvel bordering Arizona and Nevada. It is a powerful visual for today’s post. Hold it in your mind, it will make sense in a few minutes.
Its concrete base is more than 600 ft thick. Why? The Hoover Dam holds back 45,000 lb of water pressure per square foot. Behind this massive concrete wall lies 247 square miles of water. That water is carefully controlled and flows through the dam. A tiny, restricted flow of water generates enough energy in the plant’s turbines, to power the lives of 1.3 million people for a year.
Side note: If you have attempted to keep bath water in the bath with a toddler, you will have an appreciation for the scale of this dam and water pressure, because with a toddler bath, you (the parent) with 5 or 6 feet of body, are trying to withstand approximately 100 gallons of water. lol. Anyways…
The water’s potential energy held behind that wall, is staggering. It is there, bound up, waiting to be let through that dam. The water that gets through, explodes with energy, transferring to kinetic energy, and eventually into electric energy for hundreds of thousands of homes.
If you remember back to your high school classes in physics, (assuming you actually attended those classes – I can’t say I did) you may remember the first law of thermodynamics, the Law of Conservation of Energy: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.
I think about this all the time with parenthood – we all witness a huge range of energies & emotional states that children move through. They are incredibly dynamic. Toddler kinetic energy (racing down the hall) can flash over to emotional energy in a heart beat! They will pick up any energy in the room like a sponge. Even your baby does. Trying to put your baby down quickly and easily when you are agitated and restless? Yeah, good luck with that…
So, back to my point with energy only transfers. The human body experiences many forms of energy. Kinetic energy, chemical energy, thermal energy and electrical energy are all examples. Energy is flowing within us and through us. It leaves us, and comes to us. It is a constant interplay between us and our environments.We’re in one giant circle of energy exchange.
Though we haven’t gotten a good handle on it yet, there are other forms of energy flowing in our body, too. This energy is described in Eastern Medicine as Qi, but in the west we don’t really have a proper name for it yet other than the very loosey goosey description of someone’s “vibe.”
We have good days and bad days, on days and off days. We feel the vibes of other people and we can’t help but raise to their level, or sink to their level, depending on where they are. When our babies or children are in a different energy state from us, we are left trying to stay grounded while helping them move through their various states of being.
If you are super fascinated by energy states of children, I truly recommend Carol Tuttle’s book which describes different energy dispositions and how to work with them in children. It has been hugely influential in my life and parenting.
Here we, are trying our best to manage our children’s energy and how we react to it, thinking we are the knowledgeable ones… BUT… children have something very, very important to teach us. Children live in the present moment, and healthily process emotions. They let themselves experience everything in full technicolour. Then, as quickly as an emotion arrives, it passes. Maybe 5 minutes later, maybe 2 weeks later. It moves on.
Granted, we don’t want to go into full toddler style technicolour ranges of emotion and energy. We are adults and self-regulation is important in environments like oh, say, our jobs? Extended family dinners?
BUT you know what we adults do? We repress our emotions and deny them. We are like the wall of the hoover dam, except we are not 600+ feet thick concrete. We’re made of tissue, and bone, and organic materials that are constantly shifting and changing. I fully believe whatever emotions are being held back, the pressure of those is felt in our bodily structures.
We swallow emotions down and instead of letting them go through us and out of us. We push them deep into our subconscious and consequently, into our bodies. They eventually show up, becuase energy changes state. Perhaps bad dreams, or unconscious behaviours, or even chronic pain and illness.
In my own healing journey toward vitality and away from chronic pain and depressive symptoms and nightmares, I’ve come to understand that many of my own emotions have been repressed over the years, for various reasons. From family, social and cultural pressure to have a stiff upper lip, to simply needing to get sh*t done in crisis situations and saving the emotions for later.
And here, is the main point of this article. It turns out that having small children can be one of the most liberating things for your body, mind, spirit and soul, because they get our emotions back into free-flow mode.
Full disclosure, pre-kids, I used to see being emotional and crying as a trait of weakness and extremely undesirable. If I went to a movie with a friend or family, I’d inwardly roll my eyes if they were sobbing, and judge them – yet I’d be picking at my lip or fighting my own battle not to cry, staring at the back of people’s heads and trying to disconnect from the movie.
I took pride in being logical, un-emotional, stoic, etc. I was simply modelling what I saw around me. And you know what, for a long time it did truly serve me. Locking down and getting stuff done and facing challenges was something I had to do for almost all of my teens and twenties. It’s what I had to do then, and I honour it. That’s why we keep beliefs around, right? At some point they were useful.
In 2013 I took care of my mum with stage IV lung cancer and I was pregnant at the same time. It was an honour to be in that role. I was locked down, efficient, stoic as F**** while so many people around me fell apart from grief. I am careful not to judge it as a good thing or a bad thing – I have no regrets about how I handled my cancer caregiver role, however, keeping things on lock down did catch up with me, because those beliefs became more deeply embedded and my emotional range deeply decreased.
When old beliefs begin impacting your current quality of life, it is time to say:
“you know what? You served me once upon a time but you are not serving me anymore. In fact, you are keeping me from moving forward and getting where I want to go in my life. It is time for you to go!”
After the ultimate application of my ability to remain stoic and unemotional, I was thrown into motherhood, where my old beliefs about repressing emotion began to really backfire. When my daughter was 3 months old, I was struggling to feel anything. Joy, happiness, connection. I realized that I had to get things flowing again, and feel something. I began counseling, reading, keeping a dream journal and some deep somatic work.
In order to let the good stuff flow, I learnt that I had to let the sad stuff flow, too. The earliest hints of this were in my dreams which were really quite tortured and tragic. Emotion was showing up in my dreams and my chronic pain was intense.
From 2013 to 2018 I embarked on a journey to create non-self-judgemental space in my life let my emotions flow. It was terrifying. It was really hard, too.
I believe that for any “logical” person, letting yourself finally connect with your emotional states and acknowledge that you are an emotional being, is the ultimate act of courage. Nobody wants to feel the hard stuff. It’s why people get addicted to things. We want to avoid it. But in order to get to the other side (happiness and the good feels) you have to be brave enough to go through the hard feels.
One of the practices I took on, was to cry in public. This was one of the most intense forms of self-regulation and repression that I used to do as a child and it was one of my most stubbornly held beliefs. I knew this was a stubborn belief, because the thought of crying in public or around friends instantly made me recoil.
It was a hugely difficult practice at first to let myself cry publicly, but after some months of work, I did it! One of the first times I was able to truly let myself be and allow emotions to flow, was on an overnight flight to London Heathrow with my daughter who was 6 months old at that point. The moment that plane flew over the twinkling Calgary skyline, I lost it. My mum and I had so many special memories of flying on that exact Air Canada flight back over to the UK to see our family (and when she lived there, me flying out to see her.) I was tired, and snuggling a baby and just feeling very, very lonely at that point of my life. I let myself sob. It let it out, and let it go. When people asked if I was okay, I said “not really.” I opened up. That first time crying in front of a plane of concerned strangers was huge, and slowly I was able to do it in scarier situations – in front of my husband and friends.
I would have NEVER done that pre-baby. Not. In. A. Million. Years. Honestly, not even for $1000. Even 5 years later after tons of work, I find it hard to be emotional. I don’t think you can just simply decide to let deeply held beliefs go. It’s a journey and you will move forward and sometimes backward.
Rewinding back to 2013. Once I had let myself experience tears, there was plenty of room for the good stuff. Over the next five years, I was able to truly access joy again. The water pressure against the dam released as I let some water (emotions) through the turbines.
By letting water flow through the dam’s power plant and turbines, energy is created. I found that analogy so true to my own life. By letting emotions finally flow through, the trickle of water became a huge flow. That emotional energy hit the turbines and converted to a different form. The energy of growth, happiness and engagement. It released more energy to continue working toward the life I wanted, and more energy to access the good emotions.
I can also say that it (has) helped relieve some of my chronic pain, though this has been something that has really come along in the last year (2017-2018)
I truly think that when you have emotional pressure pushing against that wall (by the way that concrete wall is your own fear of emotions and “lockdown” mode) some of that pressure has to transfer to parts of your body. Headaches, back pain, maybe inflammation and illness or a bad digestive system? Depends on you.
Energy is neither created nor destroyed, simply transferred elsewhere in different forms, right?
In 2018 as I write this with far more emotional range, a gentler, kinder and more accepting attitude toward emotion, I can say that my pain is less, in all senses of the word. I am more willing and able to express myself, embrace vulnerability and with those things has come a beautiful life, greater happiness and the confidence and faith to embrace highest visions for the life of myself and my family. I am a better friend, wife, mother for being gentle not only with others in their emotional times, but also myself, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world.
I hope the dam visual lands with you, and that perhaps this causes some reflection on your own emotions, energy management, and the gift that your children have given you.
My oldest two children are 4 and 3 now, and this summer has been a blast in terms of communication. My three-year old’s language exploded in May (after about 2 months of shitty sleep patterns! ah hah! Mystery solved!) and he is now a chatty little guy, stringing sentences together.
They are listening and soaking up everything around them like a sponge. They are practicing all of these new words, in new combinations, with new inflections in their voices. Words are being placed together into sentences, like their lego blocks into towers.
Do you remember taking language classes as a kid, and once you had the hang of a sentence you’d learn a slang word or a new word to put in to add some ‘style?’ But when you added that slang word, you kind of felt odd and waited to see how it landed with other people?
I think it’s the same for toddlers, they add in newly acquired words, look around and wait to see if it has landed with someone. Then, their little brains either file away for use again, or they discard it if it comes with shock and horror on part of the parents (like the first time my little man dropped an F-bomb.)
It got me reflecting on our own speech.
When we experience a thought in our mind that we want to put out there, it’s an interesting process.
We have a thought. In six hundred miliseconds, we push air through our vocal chord, and shape with our mouths, in the process giving life and existence to that thought. Researchers were only able to track this process for the first time in 2009.
(Don’t even get me started on what a ‘thought’ is, lol that keeps me up at night.)
It is very true that we “speak” things into existence. Noone knows what we are thinking about, until we decide that it is worth bring from the brain, through the vocal chords and into our mouth where our anatomy forms consonants and vowels.
There are specific things we can do with speech:
We can ask for something (request) “hey could you do me a favour?”
We can offer something “I’d like to have you over next week.”
We can promise something ” I will run that race with you.”
We can declare something “today I am going to show up and crush it!”
We can judge something “She is too stressed.”
We can describe something “She has a frown on her face.”
I love to listen to people conversing – at coffee shops, book stores, or even on transit. It’s fun to start noticing which of the above speech acts they use.
You’d be so surprised how unconscious people are of their speech patterns, yet, it reveals so much about them.
The same goes for your own children, what kind of speech acts above do they use?
Asks: “Can you get me the purple cup please?”
Just kidding, my toddlers use declarations instead of requests: “I WANT THE PURPLE CUP.”
Descriptions: “Mommy your legs are spiky!” (usually in a public place with many witnesses ;0) )
Just as we have streams of consciousness (thinking,) we have streams of speech. It is cool to watch the stream of speech coming out of someone.
Do they make declarations? “This is a beautiful day and I am going to enjoy it!”
Do they live in judgement? “She should have done this, and she should have done that and look at that dress and no, I didn’t like that lunch, it was too spicy, and it was busy there, and ugh, it’s just so hot out today. Do you think this is too much (waving at their clothing) ” – by the way, this sentence is longer for a reason. Judging is a real bad habit for us humans.
You can also start to discern whether someone speaks from a place of expansion, openness and positivity? Or – unpleasantly – closed, negative, and fixed.
So here is my question for you:
When someone has just given you air time by asking you about your summer, or day,
When someone has said, “I want to listen to you.”
What do you return with? What is your habit of speech? What is worth putting out there into the world out of all those conversations floating up there in your mind?
It is estimated we think about 40,000 thoughts a day. Which ones are worth taking out, pushing through the vocal chords, and forming in the mouth, to share with another human being?
Because what you speak, you speak into existence.
Your future isn’t here yet, but it arrives when you speak about it and make it real.
So with that airtime – Are you going to speak of other people and gossip? Is other people what you are going to focus your air-time on? Are you going to speak about everything you enjoy and are looking forward to this summer? Are you going to speak into existence “oh nothing is new?”
Words are sacred.
Can we gain awareness – a pause – a sacred moment – before our thoughts make their way to our vocal chords?
Perhaps by practicing that pause, we can light up the areas of the brain + the speech pathways – that prefer growth, expansion, optimism and hope.
Perhaps those newly expanded areas will reflect in our speech patterns.
What do we want to speak into existence as we make offers, promises, requests or declarations?
So the next time someone asks “how has your summer been?” “Anything coming up?” – take that pause.
Where do you want your life to go? Declare it.