Self-Sabotage Part II: Life Without A Plan

In our last post, I rattled on about The Art of Self-Sabotage, and how to (perhaps) begin becoming an intentional mom.

I wrote about this because of my personal relationship with living unintentionally.

I’ll start by sharing a bit of my uber-unintentional path, to paint a picture of what that might look like.

Life Without A Plan

When I started my work with mothers several years ago, I truly had no attachment to a greater goal. I just knew – at my very core – that I needed to work with this particular segment of society and our world (more specifically, with you). This path was more than unexpected. Having grown up without the desire for children myself, I never saw this coming. But here I am, a mother madly in love with her motherhood. And here I am sharing God’s Word, His goodness, and what I believe the Universe has in store for each of us on our mothering paths if we can only find the greatest good within. The good He has made.

But it hasn’t been a dreamy, ease-filled process. In fact, it’s been a walk-through-the-trenches-at-midnight sort of ride. I’ve had multiple businesses – from a yoga studio to direct sales distribution – and went into none of it with any sort of plan.

(Opening my coaching practice has been different, and I’m thankful to press pause on unintentional living, indefinitely!)

Are you walking your experience of motherhood, career, fitness, spiritually, personal development, finances – really any significant area of your life – without a plan, too?

Coachable

You might be without a plan, but this doesn’t mean that you’re failing life. I want to ask you a very important question today – and I only ask for your honesty in return. (I know only honesty. It’s big. But do it. You’ll thank me for it later, I promise.)

Even if you are living life without intent, are you still coachable?

Laura Probert, MPT writes in her Huffpost article, “Being coachable is one of life’s most important skills and attitudes, whether or not you’re an athlete. If you’re any kind of person who wishes to grow, learn, improve, excel or peak perform, you should care about whether or not you’re coachable. In other words, being coachable relates to a happy, productive life. It means you’re ready to do what it takes to change, transform, improve or excel, whatever that means for you and your situation.”

Let’s Reflect

Personally, this paragraph brought up some reflection – and led me to ask a few questions of our tribe! Take some time on your own to dig into these, and see what responses you come up with. It might just take your unintentionality and turn it upside down!

  • What does being “coachable” mean to you?
  • What has your experience been (thus far) of growing and developing into the person that God has created you to be? and
  • What would you like your future experience to be like?

A Deeper Dive

For those on a Spirit-led path, grab some time in Jeremiah 29. One of the most reflective verses for those of us fearing the shift from unintentional to intentional (the act of creating a plan and therefore a life we design) is verse 11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Your future isn’t determined just by you. Let these words stay with you, as you gather all the tools and resources necessary to begin your transition to co-creating your path, your plan, and your Universe. Small shifts for your greatest good will create greater good in all. I can promise you that.

Until we meet again, may you be surrounded by So Much Love (Yours, Mine, & His) on this path.

xox

Jennifer

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

To my precious Wild,

I love you. Happy fourth anniversary of our first big hurdle together. I know we’ll have many, many more challenges because of the way your precious body works. I also know we’ll have many, many more wins because of the unshakeable faith that I have in our Heavenly Father.

To my friends,

Today I want to share a snippit of our adventure with Bliss. And how it was absolutely wild from the get go!

Four years ago today I was 32 weeks and 1 day pregnant with my second miracle baby. On March 13, 2013 I found myself sitting in a room full of health care providers and experts in maternal well-being. The theme of our time together? Preventing and supporting maternal mental health for those experiencing premature birth (and birth loss). I left that conference with a strange tightness in my chest. It was the same tightness that I felt while carrying my son… but I can only recognize that years later. In that moment, I just didn’t feel “right.”

I returned to my office, and sat down at my desk. After a few minutes, I asked a colleague if she would bring me to the hospital. Was it a heart attack?

I don’t remember much about the 24-48 hours that followed (I think that’s a protective boundary my sweet mind has gifted me), but I do remember two things: 1. the moment that my blood pressure crashed due to a medication meant to stop my contractions (No heart attack here! Just preterm labor. Again.), and 2. when I heard the words BED REST.

Millions and millions of women have no idea what it’s like to be on bedrest twice. But thousands of us do. Is it worth it for a healthy baby? YES. Is it pure torture while you’re on that particular path? Oh, friend. You can’t even imagine.

There I was, a mother with severe perinatal anxiety being put on modified bedrest (at home, Praise Jesus!) for 22 hours a day, every day. A mother still recovering from postpartum depression who now had limited contact with her two-year old son – let alone any other human being for weeks and weeks on end. (The second half was a product of living in the sticks back then.)

I will never, ever complain about those five long, medicated, darkest of dark weeks where I wept every day and pretended to be fine. Those weeks gave me a beautiful child of full health born on (wait for it…) her DUE DATE. We both proved our fight. (Thank you Bliss for teaching me how to be bold and brave then, just as you do now.)

My friend, the story doesn’t end with a healthy baby. It begins there. I’m reflecting on that right now because so very many women don’t experience this gift. Nothing can prepare you for all the feelings you learn about as you hold your first healthy baby. Nothing can prepare you for the joy you’ll experience. And nothing can prepare you for the longing and sadness that might rise up, too. When I gave birth to this baby, I realized how very disconnected I had been from my first…

Regrets? I have none. But I do have so much empathy for the woman I was. The woman who didn’t know what motherhood could be – who had no idea that she could fall madly in love with a child at first sight. Oh, how I fell in love with my Bliss at first sight!

In our short time together, Bliss has taught me gratitude. She has taught me big, scary love. She has taught me patience and kindness and loving-awareness and simplicity and balance. Bliss has taught me connection and reconnection and bravery and that it’s okay to not text back right away (life doesn’t stop) and that you can actually give birth to one of your very best friends… And we’ve only been together 4 years.

It feels simultaneously absurd and authentic to write this… but I can’t wait for the next four and the next four and the next forty. A mother’s job isn’t to raise her young and walk away – but to counsel the next generation in her wisdom as she grows old. This season is just the beginning of something beautiful. Today, I get to walk alongside moms who have experienced chunks of life that have look like my chunks. But there will come a tomorrow when I will get to walk alongside my Bliss, teach her what she has unknowingly taught me.

xox

Mama J.

 

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” -Proverbs 31:26-31

Why I Went Back to Facebook

Dear Mama,

For almost a week, I walked away from Facebook. If I’m completely honest, that was in part due to the upcoming election and the negativity that I found vomited all over my newsfeed day after day after day. {Still, I’m human.} Gone were the sweet pictures of new babies and old friends and crock pot recipes and family vacations. And I felt my excitement for the social media platform in general dwindle. Over the last three years, Facebook has been my space. It’s where I have connected with my yoga students off of the yoga mat – and it’s where I have stayed in touch with our team around the world! I was shouting it’s praises for building community. I loved Facebook.

And then I didn’t anymore. Yet, I still went back.

I went back after I spent some time in prayer over my hiatus. Five minutes here and there. An entire boat ride with the grandparents. A walk through Walmart, during which I’m sure I got looks as my mouth moved in silence. {That’s just how I pray, y’all.} Prayer about our family, our business, our sensory wild child and miracle mild one. Prayer over church and community and government. Praise over God’s goodness in every gap he’s filled. I still didn’t have the answer to whether I should be on Facebook, though. Then I wrecked my car, Wild in the back seat, and reality hit as I journaled. That reality is simple: we can’t run away from what isn’t working, if we’ve been called to fix it.

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It was risky business posting this. I’m not in love with how I look – but giving testimony where it’s due means showing messy, not perfect.

This thought or prompting, brought me to the moment many, many years ago when I gave up. I sat on my knees in a damp, stinky basement – and I prayed to be released from life. I was in a rough relationship, my best friend had just announced her affair, and I had decided to confront someone close to me about long time abuse. All of that isn’t what is important from this memory, though. What’s important is what I heard, which is this: “You are here to make other people happy.” Boom. Calling named. Now, back to why I can’t leave Facebook…

I can’t leave Facebook because I wasn’t called to watch change happen. I was and am called to make change happen. To be the change, as Mr. Gandhi said. And as I gave thanks in my journal for walking away from a pretty good {not good} accident, I realized that no one knew I had walked away with minor, minor injuries – and that my baby girl had none. Not a single one. If no one knows your testimony, it’s kind of like it never happened. It happened. And to give glory where glory is due – to over 2,000 Facebook family, friends, and business partners – isn’t optional. It is necessary.

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At least it is for me. So, going forward – I’m back on Facebook. Will I take breaks here and there? Absolutely! It’s good for the soul. But I won’t leave until it is no longer a space where more love and light and laughter is needed. Project Change All The Lives has only just begun, because love can break through.

When love broke thru

You found me in the darkness

Wanderin’ thru the desert

I was a hopeless fool

Now I’m hopelessly devoted

My chains are broken

And it all began with You

When love broke thru

And it all began with You

When love broke thru

– When Love Broke Through, Toby Mac

Until we meet again – may love break through.

xox

Mama J.

Seek Not – Why I Gave Up Control

Dear Wild,

Seek not control, for it won’t be given.

Seek not, sweet baby girl. It’s one of the only things that I can truly say that I have learned in mothering a sensory child (you). After what felt like (or actually was) over six weeks with few breaks from the wildness, we’ve hit our longest streak of calm in the last two years. (If you consider bite wounds on your brother’s nose calm. And after many of our other adventures, I certainly do.) This calm will potentially be disrupted by the multi-sensory, emotional experience of being reunited with family in a few short days – but alas, we have seen you my wild child. We have seen you. The you that lies far beneath the squirming and anxiety attacks and sensory meltdowns and obsessive compulsive cleaning and tidying tendancies. And you are beautiful, Wild.

Let me clear the air and tell you mother to daughter that you have always been beautiful. The rolling over within 24 hours of birth? Beautiful. The wide eyed (insane-looking) smiles you gave at just three weeks old? Beautiful. The 24/7 demand to nurse for 10 months? Beautiful. The asphalt-stained face after your first public meltdown? Beautiful. The way you scream with excitement? Beautiful. The confused and dazed look that overcomes your sweet face on a challenging day? Beautiful. You are always beautiful.

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There is nothing like watching your child thrive in a social experience. You absolutely amazing me, Wild. Your fight to be the best version of you continues to push me to be the best version of me!

Do you know what else is beautiful?

Handing over the reigns. Letting go of what you can’t control. I’ve been in awe this past week of who you are and who you are becoming. Yet, these last few days I’ve been waiting in fear – forgetting to breathe – because barring a miracle, this will not last. Oh, but imagine if it did?! I have to remind myself to hope for it, still. That while we treat you and work to prevent challenges, I can still pray for your complete recovery. And I can still know that God is God and that if it’s not his plan, then that’s okay too.

Motherhood is one of the few places where I’ve ever felt so in control, yet so out of it. Wild, I’ve been gifted you and your brother and I have worked so very hard to be a better version of me – for you. A place where I felt in control. Yet, without God’s great hand that lifted me out of a troubled stretch with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders combined with an epic autoimmune crash, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Seek not control, sweet girl, seek not… for it won’t be given. And it’s truly not worth your time. What is worth your time? Enjoying seven mostly-awesome days with a child that you wanted more than anything else in this entire world.

Until my fingers meet these keys again, you are the most precious gift little one.

Love,
Mama J.

 

I’m Not Doing the Dishes and Mama, Neither Should You

Dear Husband,

I keep imagining that one day, I will wake up and be like you. Stable. You can have a “full” day and not have a physical-emotional-intellectual set back that rocks you to the core of your soul. You can look at a pile of dishes and not worry that if you spend extra time cleaning them today, you might not have the energy to exercise later. And really, it’s the exercise that makes you (me) come back to life. The dishes… well, they’re dishes. And perhaps, just maybe, if they had a pattern it might stir my soul a little more than it does today. But as of 0900 on the first day of fall 2016, dishes do not stir my soul. But, hitting the mat does.

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I am thankful for a good, good Father who shows us through his actions that we are all good enough. Even though sometimes my good enough doesn’t feel good enough.

So, I want to apologize in advance – to my rock, and my more stable half – that the dishes can peace out. Just like the laundry did. I’ll get to it when I can get to it. But my mat, honey… I promise you, I will make room for that. Because then I’m a better version of me for you and for our mild and wild babies. I am worthy of self care. I am so worthy of it.

If there’s another mama out there reading this – so are you.

{insert picture of me rolling out my mat with a big, huge, happy smile}

Peace & Love,

Your Wifey

 

The 27 Day Crash

For those of you who are new to my blog, my take is that everything in life is a conversation. Some of those conversations we’ll have face to face, and some will be played out through pen and paper and clicking keys – because it’s just too hard to have this talk any other way.

Dear Mama,

You may be well or unwell or stable or… wait, are any of us really stable? Anyway, we need to be real with each other. I’ll start: There were 9 glorious months of well. And then an epic crash. Epic. As in, I put on my war gear and went into battle for 27 days. You can learn a lot in that amount of time. And by day 25, I was ready to visit my therapist… I needed to talk it out. Fortunate or unfortunate, I forgot that I needed to talk it out and life looked bleak on day 26 and 27. But there would be light (dear friend, there is always light).

After the 27 day crash of 2016 – I’ve found myself back where I started. On my knees. Chronic fatigue is real. And I spend hours of each month (because I usually have 1-2 challenging days each month), researching the why. I feel fortunate to not be Job, yet in these moments I “get” why I feel so compelled to use his story (The Book of Job) for the book I’ve started to write. I might even add some of this to my book. If you are living or have lived in the state of unwell or well, I’m going to remind you that BOTH are impermanent. I heard it ever so clearly as I prayer-walked this morning. Don’t grow roots here. With Chronic Fatigue, with postpartum depression or anxiety, with ANY pain story, you don’t just recover from it. But you aren’t allowed to wade in the mud forever either.

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My sweet mama friend. I encourage you to live your life to the maximum amount of “stable” you can, and then you give yourself grace for being human. You are human. So am I. Praise God for that, my dear. I don’t want that kind of responsibility – and I doubt you do either!

If you haven’t Chronic Fatigued, then I’m going to break this down for you. I wrote this recently on my personal facebook page, where I live out some advocacy on “atypical motherhood” with like hearts…

Most folks assume chronic fatigue means you’re just tired. When reading or responding to a text message from someone you ADORE feels exhausting, there’s something wrong. I’m not just tired. Physiologically, my systems don’t keep up with normal life. Most likely they’re fighting an invisible long gone virus. The worst fights are when a real virus or infection comes along though. It’s all out war. The World Health Organization has considered that CF should be renamed SEID: systemic exertion intolerance disease. Link those words together and you’ll get a glimpse into my world. My systems (all of them) get overused in any way, and I will crash. My body and mind will become uncomfortably slow. Read that again! I’m not slow. I am actually absurdly smart. A geek if you must!! But our conversations probably won’t be remembered or make sense when I’m in a crash. Sometimes I even slur my words. And my emotions? It’s not a good place.

I’ll end here. Sometimes, I’m not in a good place, but STILL God. Is. Good. And so is THIS adventure. It’s one where I get to learn from suffering and pain, and share what I’ve learned. I get to sit with others who have been on the pain path and I still get to experience long time periods of being pain free. I get to move with others who want to work it all out. (So thankful for the gift of movement – especially after 27 days of 5 minutes here and there.)

Ask me anything. You shouldn’t go this alone. We don’t have to go this alone. Bend; breathe; and let your soul be restored.

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15 NIV

Love,
Mama J.

Priorities

Dear Mama,

Today, I’m writing to the mother who cares for everyone else. I know you. I know you well, because I’ve been you. And in case you’re in the midst of scrubbing endless dishes, and floors, and bottoms… and no one has said this yet to you today, let it be said: You matter. Your wellness matters. And as you’ll hear me say thousands of times going forward on this blog, Well Women Rule The World. Period. You can’t be unwell and live the life that you are meant to live. It’s just not possible! But what is possible is listening to your body, your mind, and your spirit so that you can become the best version of yourself.

Yes, it is possible.

I know this because I lived it and I presently still live it. And to be honest, for the first time in my short and long 31 years, if assessing my personal wellness was a job… y’all, I might just get a raise this year! After countless hours and days – and a counted 10 + weeks – in physical therapy learning everything possible about my 47 percent-able body in 2015, I identify my wellness as a Top Three priority every single day. If you know me just a little bit by now, you know some of this… I have chronic autoimmune disharmonies; I have a special child (my sensory processing disorder miracle) with therapies; I have a second miracle a few years older than Ms. Bliss with sports; I am married; I am a sole income provider and a work-at-home mother; I am beginning to write; I travel often; and I advocate for women in motherhood. And still, I put my being well as a priority. Why? Because none of that gets the attention that it needs, if I don’t get the attention that need.

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My number one priority is my being well, because she needs the best version of her mother – not just some days, but on as many as I can wrangle! It feels good to break the generational chain of self-imposed guilt and lack.

If you have read this far into my post, you are either thinking that 1) I am the master of all trades and have it all figured out, or 2) you have realized that I have nothing figured out – except for Top Three. About a two years ago, I read an article that quoted Jim Collins in saying, “If you have any more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” And it was like a lightening bolt went through my body as those words made their impact, and suddenly, I got it! I have zero priorities when I’m focusing on everything: (cue drum roll… wait for it… wait for it) nothing – yes I said nothing – gets done as intended or as well.

Being a sensory mom, I’m going to now bring us face-to-face, mama. I’m going to put one hand on either cheek, with your permission. And I am going to ask you to look at me. You are in the midst of a battleground, friend. But the battle has truly already been won. You are worthy and you are loved and you are whole. You need to be your number one priority, because you value yourself. You know that others depend on you, and without being the best version of you, you can’t be there for them. Not fully.

This leads me to re-read the words that I have given myself and my son – both chronic quitters when the going gets tough: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7. You are fighting the good fight. You are finishing the race. And the foundation of it all rests on your faith – because you have already taken action.

I’m ending today with a reflection: What action – beyond reading this – do you need to do to make yourself a priority – a Top Three? Is is a support system? Is it quiet time alone?? There have been many tools in my tool box throughout the years: from self-help books to humor; from church to therapists; from journaling to community… yoga classes to personal practice… painting, drawing, retreats… each has played a significant role. Stripped down bare, what will it takes for you to draw out the perfect child within that is hugely, wholly, and unconditionally loved? Find her. Find her because she will make a far greater impact than you ever could.

Coming from someone who has found her, and knows her… whatever lengths it takes, it is worth it.

Love,
still a child, always His child, an imperfectly perfect Mama J.

We’re better together.

 

Divine Reality

Every so often, you dream and dream and dream… and then that dream becomes your reality. That is what the last two years have looked like. I have prayed over advocating for maternal well-being for quite some time. When my husband officially retired from full time employment in September, I knew that it was time to make that dream a reality. But I had no idea what that would look like! Then I had a flashback to my retirement from yoga studio ownership…

I love that we get to work from home. I love that I get to support an online and on-ground ministry of self-love. And I love that I can love on mama’s in my community now too – I am going to begin leading postpartum pop up yoga + support right in our town!

Six years in, I am so very sure that it takes a village of support for moms to thrive. Today, because of my non-job, I get to be on the side of “correcting culture” with movement as medicine while erasing the stigma’s attached to dis-ease (mental health). I get to set an example of living life as a successfully healing postpartum wife and mother.

P.S. I will always say healing and not healed. Because this is the journey of a lifetime. One that I know has changed me for the better in ways that I never expected. Cheers to making the most of every challenge we encounter.

Peace & Love, friends!

Jennifer

Success

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” –Mark Caine

(I will NOT be held captive.)

Do you ever have times where your mind just rambles off into a direction that you never expected? This afternoon was one of those moments, as I watched Postpartum Progress’ video on their climb next weekend. To think about who I was then and who I am now… it is completely surreal.

I remember being absolutely numb at the birth of our sweet boy. I never told a soul, but instead I lived in darkness for quite a while. Almost 5 years later, there are only tiny scars – memories – left as a reminder of where I’ve been. I still wish that I had spoken out – but I thought that the anxiety which consumed me (through both pregnancies) would make others think differently of me. My pride won, for sure. I am a really positive person, and I needed to maintain that image. But two complicated pregnancies, a history of body image and autoimmune challenges, plus one year of a super sick baby crushed my “happiest human” perspective.

(I will NOT be held captive.)

I don’t know when the healing began – but I know that some time around when we decided to move to Arizona – around the same time that I started this business – that I began to notice a greater freedom in my spirit… Maybe it was January, when I claimed this as “The Year of Fearless Health.” (In all honesty, my mind was on the physical side… but emotional and spiritual growth has tagged along. I was just aiming to heal my autoimmune – big enough goal, right??)

I love that God has plans that we don’t even know about yet. I am glad to be in a space to honor this. Finally.

(I will NOT be held captive.)

Anyhow, for those who didn’t know about the above, I was held captive. But, now I am free. And freedom, is MY definition of success. Freedom is my why. It’s why I teach, why I advocate, why I self-care… it’s why I coach and mentor and pray. Because we all need to be free. We all need to find it in ourselves to pause and to truly become alive.

We need to not be captive, to anything. We are made for so much more. I hope you agree.

Not By Accident

Have you ever wondered what has happened in the moments that you felt most alone? I think that I figured it out today. And by me saying that “I” figured it out, I mean that I have been listening to the voice that isn’t mine. When we lean on ourselves, we aren’t truly leaning on ourselves. Even when we are most alone, we are being carried.

It’s pretty amazing.

There is no end to that love. We are always being carried. We are also always being called. But do we listen? I find myself preoccupied with filling my mind. (I am a huge geek.) I get overly involved with mastering the movements of my body. (I want to heal.) But what if this adventure isn’t just about me finding fearless health – and bringing others to it – but finding a fearlessness and fierceness for life in general. What if this adventure isn’t about change, but peace.

We are put on our journey’s with intention. His and ours. Growing the life that we want means acceptance and pause… no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Here’s to the continuing transformation for our family and yours in 2015. We have only just begun… and it is not by accident.

Embracing a pause,

Jennifer