Slow Down

“Life itself is the best (and the only) timekeeper.” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru

The fall equinox is not only a welcome sign that cooler temperatures are ahead of us along the coast of Virginia, but it also marks an astronomical turning point of the seasons. Fall is here. Scientifically speaking, on the equinox, the orbital plane of the equator is geometrically aligned with the center of the sun. Neither the north or south hemisphere is tilted away from or towards the sun. On the equinox our world is perfectly balanced. 

As we move forward, we will experience more darkness than daylight. Our days will get cooler. While our days are rapidly losing light, my body is begging for a slow down. I’ve resisted it, I’ve ignored it, but it keeps finding me. My heart is whispering slow down.

Fall Equinox Sunset
By nature I am someone who tends to trip over my own feet. I have an idea or a thought, and I plow forwarded before I can complete my own sentence. I’m half way out the door before plans are ever finalized. I have a goal, and I’ve created a plan of attack before I can digest what it means. I figure things out as I go.

When I started my new job at Eastern Virginia Medical School, everyone asked how it was going. The only response I could give was Good. It’s really making me slow down. And that is exactly what this job has done. It has slowed down my brain. It’s made me more intentional. It has made me find satisfaction in small details. It has provided a perfect balance for my natural tendencies to move fast. It has provided me a natural equinox

As my brain has started to slow down, it has also started to unwind. I’ve felt myself become more relax, less stressed, and less overwhelmed.

While my heart has been whispering slow down, my desire to run faster has been fueling me. I’ve kept running a priority as work and school began. I’ve run sub 7 pace on speed workouts, tempo runs are getting faster, but I haven’t been satisfied. I’ve wanted more. My long runs have suffered, and they haven’t been as fulfilling. I’ve analyzed it from every perspective. Is it summer? Is it ego? Is it the running plateau I’ve been on for months (maybe years)? Is it not running PRs? Why don’t my speeds workouts translate to race day or distance?

For all the time I’ve spent thinking about and analyzing my long runs, my heart keeps whispering slow down. Maybe this isn’t my season to race. Maybe this isn’t my season for distance. I don’t know the answer to why I’m not satisfied, but I do know I won’t find the answer until I listen.

I don’t run to set personal bests. I don’t run to be fast. I don’t run to win. I run to be my personal best and that has nothing to do with pace or speed. I run to win at life and that has nothing to do with distance.

Yesterday, on the day our world was geometrically aligned with sun, I headed to a group tempo run, and I took a detour. I headed to the gym first because in that moment that is where I wanted to be. I rowed and threw slam balls and did pull ups instead of starting a tempo run with my team. When I finished my work out, I chased the team down the boardwalk. I ran some easy solo miles while the sunset. I stopped half way to stand along the shoreline. After days of rain and flooding, the sun peaked out before it set as a reminder that nothing ever remains the same.

Hitting Pause
There is a season for everything in life. Right now my season is about slowing down, unwinding, and enjoying the small details. I’m not sure how that translates to running, but I do know the only way to find out is to listen to the whispers of my heart that have never steered me wrong. I’m slowing down and that isn’t defined by pace or distance in the exact same way that personal satisfaction and personal bests are not defined by pace or distance. Life itself is the best timekeeper, and my bests are defined by living. Right now my living exists in the quiet, simple details that can only be enjoyed by slowing down.

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ~Sylvia Plath

 

The Magic of 9

This morning as I got dressed for work, I placed something new around my neck for the first time in years. Today I am wearing a new mala. I knew when the timing was right, I’d hit the purchase button on the Tiny Devotions website.


My current mala is meant for rooting. Every day when I wear that necklace around my neck, I set my intention. I set the intention that I will root myself so deeply in my life that nothing can knock me off my feet. I’ll root myself in my family, my friends, and my community. As a girl whose heart loves to wander, my roots have become my stability. They’ve kept me nourished. They’ve been my breath.

This year has been a year of transformation for me. It all started with my leap of faith. It continue through my hot, heavy and stuck summer. It’s delivered me here to this place of peace and possibility.

From my roots, I’m learning to rise and release. A mala for both was delivered to my doorstep last night.

Rise – Imagine your potential is a seed, you would plant that seed in well nourished soil, you would water it daily, you would make sure it faces the sun, you would keep it away from the elements, you would give that seed every possible opportunity to grow strong roots.

From root to rise, feel strong, remember you are capable and let your potential shine.

My leap of faith showed me just how capable I am of rising.

Release – Breathe. Soften. Open. Release your worries. Stimulate your inner desire for knowledge, create space for what inspires you, let go of fear + connect with your higher self to gain a clear vision of your true path. Look to the moon’s phases as your guide, trust in your spirit to let go of what no longer serves you.

My downward spiral this summer has showed me how much I have to learn about releasing.

Today I placed the rise mala around my neck, and I set a brand new intention. Today I’d stand taller. I’d have confidence in my roots. I’d remain aware of my strength. In celebration of my new mala, I sent a photo to the friends who have showed me my strength through the entire year.

And then the magic unfolded. Again I am reminded of the magic of connection – connections that were made possible because of the roots I’ve created.

Today is September 9, 2016.  9/9/2016. 9-9-9.

My mala is 108 beads. 9.

Tomorrow I am the 9 minute mile pacer for a 9 mile run. 9. 9.

From a numerology perspective, the number 9 is the most humanitarian number. It has its place in both history and religion. It’s a number of patience and mediation. It represents the inspiration and perfection of ideas. It’s a symbol of the creation and the life as a rhythm and development. The number nine is found hidden in so much of life: nine lives, nine months of gestation.

The 9 is like the 6 upside down, a symbol of her offering sympathy and compassion to everyone; a reservoir of giving with a generous downward spout.

Where have I been all summer? Stuck in my own downward spiral doing all the work I need to do to walk into this new chapter of my life.

The number 9 is a symbol of birth and new life. Today on 9.9.2016(9), I have 108(9) new beads around my neck. Tonight I plan on drinking a Magic Hat #9 with my husband. Tomorrow I will run 9 miles with my 9 minute group and the best community I’ve ever know.

My roots are nourished. It’s time to rise and release.

 

Living the Layers: Opening

In the moments when I felt myself sliding downward this summer, I continuously asked myself over and over again: What do you need? 

What do you need to get out of bed?

What do you need to engage with your family?

What do YOU need? 

Some days the answer was simple. I needed to live my layers. I needed to run. I needed the gym. I needed to move or make a healthy dinner.

Other days the simple answer was complicated. I need to feel alive.

In my downward spiral of hot, heavy and stuck, I felt every ounce of the self imposed armor I have built around my self. I was trapped within myself.

When do you feel free? 

One moment always comes rushing back. It’s not my wedding day or the day I gave birth to my children. It isn’t traveling through the Sacred Valley in Peru or floating down the river in Thailand. It is one very small moment. The moment that always floods my memory is more a feeling than a memory.

In the middle of the night in the middle of the streets of Austin, Texas in the middle of a music festival surrounded by my Nashville family, I ran. For whatever reason, we all collectively decided to race to the stop sign. It was a full out sprint to see who would win. When we had all completely the task at hand, I remember laughter filling my body. I felt free.

There are very few moments in my life when I haven’t been aware of myself. There are very few moments where I’ve trusted, where I’ve let go, where I released my control and my fears. I’ve been collecting these moments my whole life: the trail run with the gentle breeze when I opened my arms up to connect with the trees, submerging my body in the cold waters of a waterfall in Utah after fear kept me paralyzed on the side of the cliff, swing competitions with Cole in the neighborhood park. I remember every single one of the moments, but I remember the feeling the most.

I share so much of myself freely with those around me and yet I guard myself from myself. I hold myself back. Within me is a hand that is always resisting.

This summer I gave in.

“But the soul wants you to go beneath. It leads downward. It says, ‘Don’t ignore the signs. Follow your longing down. Go beneath the surface of your troubled mind, your bad moods, your repetitive mistakes. Go beneath the surface questions to even deeper questions.’ The soul asks questions like these: ‘What is that weight that holds you back? What inside of you is saying no! Are you willing to look at yourself? To take responsibility for your own life? Are you willing to let something die, in order for something new to arise? What must die! What wants to live?’ The soul tells you to root around in the dark stuff for the deeper questions, and to let those questions lead you from darkness to the light.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open

This morning I woke up to grey skies, the promise of a restorative run on Saturday through tropical storm rain and winds, and one lingering question.

Why don’t I allow myself to be enough?

I know the answer is deeply rooted in my past, in my personality, and in fear I carry with me. I know why. This summer I allowed myself to stay in that space to feel all that I had been avoiding.

#trainjanda

 

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” ~Rumi

Perhaps for the very first time I am not trying to fill the void left behind by the absence of the hot, heavy and stuck summer. I’m leaving myself open. As a breath I’ve been holding on to for my entire life takes form and gains strength within my own body, I’m consciously avoiding old habits and behaviors. This time I don’t want to hold myself back. I want to stand in my own skin and know that today I am enough. I’m done collecting moments of being alive. I am ready to live alive.

Those moments of feeling alive, they all have something in common. Movement and Nature. They are my secret ingredients for living my life.

I’m figuring this out the only way I know how – by racing to the stop sign.

Thank you Josh for the weekly motivation

New Breath

“What lesson did my soul want to learn? I liked this question. It was new. Right then and there I felt it pointing me in a different direction. I felt it leading me up toward the light.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

A few weeks ago, in the middle of my hot, heavy and stuck season, I was supposed to go for a long run. I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee and the farmers market. When my alarm went off, I felt stuck in bed. I cancelled my plans. Later that day, I was supposed to go to a family pool party. I sent the boys ahead without me. I simply couldn’t process any more that day.

Not everyone can understand what it feels like to feel every emotion so intensely. Not everyone feels every nerve ending in their body when life becomes too much. Everyone doesn’t feel hot, heavy and stuck, but some people do. Scattered through my life and around the world are people who have also felt like I have felt all summer.

At first I thought it was just me. Something must be wrong with me. My entire life I’ve struggle to avoid feeling this. Then I’ve struggled to identify this. If I could label it, I could overcome it. Am I depressed? Do I have anxiety? Am I crazy? I’ve googled “seasonal depression in summer” a million times.

My entire life I’ve bottled it up, and I held on to it. I let myself venture through this space alone.

During this season of hot, heavy and stuck, my body finally resisted. I was done fighting it. Maybe I needed to finally feel it. Maybe I needed to spend a day in bed when feeling became too much. Maybe I need to finally be okay with feeling it. Because words are how I process life, I need to share it.

That day I cancelled plans with my friend, I also told her the truth. I wasn’t cancelling because my alarm didn’t go off or because Chet wasn’t behaving. I was cancelling because I’ve hit a rough patch. I was cancelling because lately I’ve been so stuck in my own head that I’m physically stuck in bed. This was the moment the world started to feel less heavy. Her response back to me took weight off my paralyzed body. She said the magical words we all need to hear. She said Oh I so understand. I’ve been there too. And then she talked to me. She showed me that no matter how we or the world defines this feeling, scattered throughout my world and the entire world, others have also felt hot, heavy, and stuck.

In that same conversation, my friend recommended a book: Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser.

Every day this week, I’ve spent my lunch break sitting outside by the river reading this book. I’ve kept my highlighter close as the words on the page having me nodding along in agreement.

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“It’s time for you to answer the call of your soul…It’s calling, but you’re too scared to listen. You think you know what’s important, but you don’t. You think it’s important to keep things safe; but that’s neither here or there. What’s important in this life is to learn the soul lessons.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

This week I’ve felt a new breath forming inside of me. I’ve physically felt it pushing against my chest as it takes form and grows into what it needs to become. Feeling once again calm, light and free, I took a step backwards. I started looking for a reason for this new feeling. I tried to define it. Was it the cooler temperatures? Was it the book? Maybe it was empathy from a friend. And then I stopped.

If I’ve learned something in this season, I’ve learned that life isn’t meant to be defined or understood. It’s meant to be lived. It’s meant to be felt. This is the lesson my soul is trying to learn.

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“Rumi tells us that that moment when we accept what troubles we’ve been given, the door will open. Sounds easy, sounds attractive, but it is difficult, and most of us pound on the door to freedom and happiness with every manipulative play save the one that actually works. If you’re interested in opening the door to the heavens, start with the door to your own secret self. See what happens when you offer to another a glimpse of who you really are. Start slowly. Without getting dramatic, share the simple dignity of yourself in each moment – your triumphs and your failures, your satisfaction and your sorrows. Face your embarrassment at being human, and you’ll uncover a deep well of passion and compassion. It’s a great power, your Open Secret. When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet to put down his burden of hiding, and then you can both walk through the open door.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

This summer I’ve felt hot, heavy and stuck. I feel this way nearly every summer, but this summer I gave myself permission to feel it. This summer I shared it.

Summer is my season of hibernation. It is my season to sink and restore. It’s my season to allow myself the space to feel so growth can happen. I can’t tell you what is on the other side. I’m not there yet. Right now I’m in a moment of new breath forming. Right now I’m going to enjoy this moment of possibility.

 

Living the Layers: Stuck

I made a promise to myself. In this new chapter, I’d learn to Live the Layers. I’d remember what makes me feel alive. I’d embrace the change. I wouldn’t allow myself to shrink or hide. I wouldn’t strip myself of all the layers I love when life felt overwhelming or like it was too much.

I’ve held on to this philosophy. This is a huge win for me because if you ask my husband, he will quickly tell you I’m the first to “sink the ship”. When life gets tough, I have a habit of adding water to my sinking ship. If it’s going to sink, I might as well help it.

From day one at my new job, I fell into my new routine. I held on to my running. I held on to nutrition. I held on to family time. When asked How’s it going?, I struggled to respond. It has just felt easy. It’s felt right. My new job and my new team fit perfectly in my life.

But I’ve been stuck.

It’s not the new job or my running. It’s not what I eat or how I spend my free time. It’s me. I’m stuck.

I’ve got the details figured out, but I’m stuck in my own head and in my own emotions. It is me that has become too much. It’s my thoughts and my feelings that I want to desperately turn off. How many times this summer have I wanted to scream why do I feel everything so intensely? How many times this summer have I finished (or given up) a run wishing I’d find my mental game again. How many times this summer have I laid in bed feeling my ship sinking desperately trying to not add water to my downward spiral? I’ve lost count.

Last night was the kickoff of for Thursday night tempo runs for the fall training season. It was hot. I felt heavy. My head and heart were consumed by feelings. My run didn’t go as planned. My head didn’t win the mental battle.

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This is summer. Every single summer, this rings true for running and for my life. When it’s hot, I become heavy.

This is where I’m at – hot, heavy and stuck – desperately waiting for the season to change.

While I wait, I keep revisiting that promise I made to myself. I will keep living my layers. I will keep showing up. I will keep running. I will keep nourishing my body. I will not shrink. I will not hide. I can’t because the moment that I do, I’ve given up on myself, on my dreams, and on my potential.

I keep repeating my mantra: I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful.

It is not easy. There I days it would be so easy to sink my own ship. There are days I want to quit fighting myself. There are days I want to just give in because not caring, not dreaming, and not striving seems so much easier than digging deep for my own internal strength.

But that isn’t who I am. For better or for worse, this is who I am. This is how I’m wired. I am a dreamer. I feel things sometimes too intensely. Right now I feel hot, heavy and stuck, but I know if I keeping striving the feeling that is waiting for me is flight. 

Some how I forgot how to use my wings this summer. I’ve been consumed by feeling hot, heavy and stuck. 

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Working on getting there

Living the Layers: Approaching Change

In one week, I am going back to work. After taking my time to find the right team, the right role, and the right environment for both my family and myself, a few weeks ago I accepted a job offer from Eastern Virginia Medical School for the role of Donor Relations Specialist. Everything feels right. 

As any type of change approaches, I can started to feel shaky in my footing. I worry about loosing myself, my passions, and my priorities as something new is introduced to my life. Change brings growing pains. Change brings discomfort.

 “The ego says ‘I shouldn’t have to suffer,’ and that thought makes you suffer more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

When I read this quote for the first time, I immediately thought of my running. This is what I try to accomplish every time I attach a race bib to my shirt. Can I transcend the suffering? 

To grow into my potential, I know I need to push through discomfort. I need to stay rooted in myself to find success at the finish line. 

Running and life always mirror each other. This quote doesn’t just apply to racing. It applies to living. 

As my family drove home today from an amazing little getaway, the realization that I’m going back to work in one week hit me. The familiar feeling of nerves and anxiety surfaced. Familiar habits presented themselves. 

My brain works in compartments. It often times feels like my mind and my emotions are a dresser – each dresser drawer careful containing one aspect of my life: mother, wife, employee, runner, athlete, writer, and friend. If more than one dresser drawer is pulled out, the world can feel overwhelming. I panic. I scramble to find order and control. In one week, I’ll be pulling out the employee drawer. 

I have a lot to learn. I have a lot to absorb. A lot of my time and energy will be given to defining this new role in my life. My natural tendency is to neglect the other aspects of my life – to keep the other drawers neatly tucked away until I organize the employee drawer. 

This tendency makes me feel safe. It helps me feel like I’m in control. But it leaves me unfilled. It leaves my life off balance. 

The truth is I need to say yes to suffering so I can transcend it. 

During our car ride home, I messaged back and forth with my good friend Heidi. Our brains are wired the same way, so I know she always understands what I’m trying to say. How do we embrace the suffering? How do we transcend? 

Maybe, just maybe, the trick is to let it get crazy. Maybe, just maybe, I need to embrace the crazy. Maybe, just maybe, the crazy isn’t really crazy at all. The crazy is everything I love. The crazy is what defines me. The crazy is the pieces of living that I love. 

What do I need in my daily life to be the best version of me? With my roots firmly in place what do I need to layer in to help me transcend life. 

my roots and my layers

On a daily basis, I need to commit to my roots. Then I need to add layers.
Right now I need to focus on my roots and living the layers. 

In many ways this is what I (we) have always done. From the beginning of this blog, Heidi and I have tackled 40 day goals together. We have set annual intentions. Living the layers is just another evolution of what has always helped me live my life. 

in Gettysburg

It may feel chaotic. It may hurt. But by pushing through, by embrace the discomfort of change, I’ll arrive at my finish line knowing I transcended this new beginning. Every day I will know I’m striving to be the best version of myself. 

Today, you have the opportunity to transcend from a disempowered mindset of existence to an empowered reality of purpose-driven living. Today is a new day that has been handed to you for shaping. You have the tools, now get out there and create a masterpiece.” ~Steve Maraboli

Standing on the Shoreline

Shortly after the sun rose, the boys made their way up the stairs to enjoy breakfast with an ocean view. Beach play immediately followed. As our caravan of kids made their way to the crashing waves, one kid was left behind. 


Four is hard. Four is no longer a baby, but it isn’t quite a child. 

In the pack of four kids, Chet is the only one who can’t swim. He is the only one was left on the shoreline watching waves as the other three kids caught waves. 

Four is hard. 

The first three days on the beach, the waves were aggressive. The shore break churned up the sand. Chet wasn’t ready to make his way past the crashing waves, but he wanted to be included in the fun. 

Four is hard. 

Digging holes and chasing crabs kept him happy for a moment, but his eyes kept gazing to the ocean. He wanted to be with the big kids. 

Four is hard. 

Some mornings we made our way back to the beach house. Some mornings we watched the waves from the deck while eating goldfish. 

On the third day, I asked his brother to pause for a moment before swimming out into the ocean. Maybe he could spend a few minutes with Chet jumping waves before he caught waves of his own. This changed the rest of the day on the beach. Chet didn’t feel left out or alone. 

On the forth day When Chet woke up, he said he was ready to go home. He didn’t want to go to the beach. He didn’t want to stand on the shore line for another day. But the current had changed. The waves were gentle. The water was glassy. When he realized he could surf too, his eyes revealed his happiness. It was his chance to be one of the kids. 


As I watched my boys play during our beach vacation, I couldn’t help but wonder. How many times are we all the four year old stuck on the shore? How many times do we need someone to stand beside us because we aren’t ready just yet to catch our own wave? How many times do we miss the perfect wave because the days before left us disappointed? 

If parenting is teaching me one thing over and over again, it is that being stuck in the middle is one of the hardest places to be. 

Four is hard. 

The middle is hard. 

Whether we are stuck on the middle of the mountain or on the shore line, the lesson is the same. To truly live life, you have to embrace the messy middle. Beginning may be the hardest step and the finish line may be the moment of shining success, but the middle holds the magic. The middle takes work. The middle takes commitment. The middle produces results. 

“The middle is messy, but it is also where the magic happens. ~Brene Brown

Parenting these two vastly different and equally awe-inspiring boys of mine is a continuous test of the middle. 

Exploring my life, constantly reaching for my potential, is a continuous test of the middle. 

Four days with my boys and our dear friends in the Outer Banks was the perfect reminder of the lessons my heart needs while living in the middle. This chapter of my life is closing. In 18 days I will enter a new chapter. I will begin a new career. I will ask my family to join me in this journey. 

We will find ourselves in the middle, and we will know that we are living. Some days we may watch the waves crash  along the shore, but some times we get the chance to ride the wave. No matter what, we have to keep showing up while standing besides each other while looking for the perfect conditions. 

Guilt or Gratitude

By now we have all got used to the stories of hate and violence that fill the nightly news and our newsfeed. 

It’s heartbreaking. It’s unsettling. 

As I watched the news last night, I saw the video of an innocent man being shot by a police officer. I had been avoiding this video because I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to feel it. Then I heard the voice of a young girl telling her mom it was going to be okay. Tears openly fell down my face. 

Could it be me? Could I be the woman in the car? Could that be my husband and my child? 

I turned off the news to head to dinner with two of my favorite guys. Taking advantage of a rare night with just Christian and Cole, we had dinner on the water and stayed up until midnight playing monopoly. 

But it could have been me in the car. It could have been my husband and my child. 

It wasn’t me. I’ve experienced hate. I’ve been victimized. But it has never touched my children. How lucky am I that on a 100 degree day I can sit by the water with the breeze keeping me cool while I sip on a summer drink. 


I started to feel guilty. Should I be endulging in such silly things when people are grieving? 

I have a choice to make. I can choose guilt or I can choose gratitude. The magnitude of the tiny moment isn’t lost on me. 

This morning more hate filled the news. Police officers lost their lives. Their wives and their children are grieving. 

My biggest concern right now is can I run faster at my next race. This feels trivial. This feels self endulgant. 

Again I can choose guilt or I can choose gratitude. 

In moments of strength, in moments of grace, I can choose gratitude. I can choose to continue to grow. Running faster at my next race has nothing to do with running faster. It has everything to do with exploring my potential as a human. It is about overcoming pain and pushing through discomfort. It’s about conquering doubt and self-hate. 

It’s the complete opposite of self-endulgant. It’s living. 

One day it could be me. One day tragedy can show up on my door. 

We all need something that roots us to our world. We all need something that shows us our strength and our potential. For me it’s running. It’s raising boys to be compassionate loving men. It’s enjoying dinner as a family. It’s playing monopoly. It’s running my next race. 

Today I’m choosing gratitude over guilt. I’m choosing to feel alive. 

But I’m not settling. I’ve had enough of the hate and the fear and the violence. My heart is searching for a way to ensure everyone can also make the same choice to feel alive. Where can I lend my voice? Where can I give my heart? What can I do to bring about change? This is an answer I can’t seem to find. 

My Gift from the Sea 

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” ~Anne Morrow Lindenberg

How many times can I return to the same book? Every summer Gifts from the Sea calls my name.  Some summer I read the entire thing. Some summers I read a chapter or two. Every summer I read it. 

This summer has been special. This summer I am home with my boys. I’ve been the beach Mrs. Lindenberg so gracefully describes. I’ve lied empty, open and choiceless. The sea hasn’t left me disappointed yet. 

I’ve received so many gifts from the sea, and not one of the gifts has been tangible. 

I’ve been gifted time -time for myself, time for my family. 

I’ve been gifted strength – physical strength and emotional strength. 

In this moment of pause, I’ve had time to process one of the deepest scars of my life. 

I’ve gained a clear vision of what I want and what I’m willing to welcome into my life. 

While I cherish all the gifts I’ve been given, the greatest gift is one I’m giving myself. I’m letting myself off the hook. Mom-guilt is something I’ve always carried. 

If I didn’t work, my house would be less cluttered. Our home would feel less stressful. 

If I didn’t work, Chet would have a better bedtime routine. 

If I didn’t work, I could shower Cole with the one on one attention he craves. 

If I didn’t work, I’d have more of myself to give to my marriage. 

If I didn’t work…

The list was endless. 

During this moment of pause, I’ve realized that none of that changes based on my employment status. 

Working or not, I’m the exact same mom. Working or not, I’m the exact same wife. Working or not, I am exactly me. 

Perhaps the greatest gift is knowing that being a working mom or a stay at home mom doesn’t change who I am. What influences my ability to give to everything I love is how well I take care of myself. Boundaries are important. Environment is important. As I begin to transition back to being a working mom, I now know how important it is for me to continue to hold on to the gifts I’ve been given. 

Taking time to care for myself is important. Taking time to care for my family always happens. 

My journey to continually find my strength is one I cherish. I’m holding on to it tightly. 

Healing is a process. 

Having a deep sense of what I’m willing to give myself to will always guide me to where I belong. 

And the mom guilt, it’s no longer welcome. It’s the one thing that holds me back. My boys are loved. My home is my refuge. 

“I want first of all… to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact–to borrow from the language of the saints–to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.” ~Anne Morrow Lindenbergh 

Soon this new chapter will begin. As I begin to navigate this new space, the best gift I can give to other is to take care of myself. 

This next chapter is going to be a good one. It is my gift from the sea.