Last week I shared my anxiety over taking my four children on a Memorial Day Weekend trip.  Yes, the Christian Yoga Instructor experiences anxiety and considers it a sign that something needs to change.  It's not the trip itself that was burdening me, it was the imbalance with my personal time.  Being with my kids requires a lot of energy and attentiveness and "too much quality time" feels burdensome.  I spend a lot of time wearing the mom hat and I love my children dearly, unfortunately the role and responsibilities of mom have started eating at me to the point where spending time with my little blessings is seen through the scope of obligation.  Some obligations are a joy, say a job you love or giving a tithe or donation; my children had moved into the obligation category of taxes or cleaning the garage.   Listening to my instincts and own advice, I postponed the trip and took some time of solitude away to discover how I could change my perspective and enjoy being with my kids again. 

After sitting in solitude for hours, hidden away in the beautiful public Indiana Arts Museum Gardens, I heard nothing.  Unfortunately there are no mountains or deserts in Indiana (usual Biblical locations where God reveals something profound) and I was hungry so I decided to pack up and get dinner.  Enjoying my Mediterranean cuisine at a patio table for one on a beautiful sunny evening with low humidity (rare in Indiana), it hit me! I need to see my children through the scope of opportunity, not obligation.

We value long term relationships.  When a couple has been married for any length of time, we celebrate.  The longer the relationship, the bigger the party. Weddings celebrate an anticipated life-long union.  Our closest and longest relationships are those that lend us opportunity for the most spiritual growth.  They really do cut to the heart and shape our soul.  Completely expecting all of my children to outlive me, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to spend the rest of my life with all four of them!  They may live at different proximities from me and hold varying philosophies from me, however, they will continue to lend me opportunity the most opportunity for my spiritual growth.  And let's just say I have LOTS of opportunities! 

Realistically, I know my perspective of obligation doesn't change overnight. Taking time to meditate on the opportunities my children bring to my life is essential.  Certainly this will help me become more grateful and graceful with them! In the interterm and on the practical side of life, I decided to get a babysitter one afternoon a week this summer to allot me time and space to think.  I don't have to be the do-it-all-yourself-perfect-mom.  Having this arrangement and time to hear God's direction, I can honestly say I am now looking forward to taking our postponed trip this weekend.

With four children, a job, business, husband, house and plethora of roles, I am a plagued with "have-to-syndrome".  Despite the "have to" syndrome, I am fortunately able to juggle my responsibilities and activities through my Christian Yoga and Meditation practice.

My daughter was blessed with three brothers and is in desperate need of organized female comaraderie, so when her Brownie Troop leader quit and the moms were willing to share the responsibility, I naturally felt I "have to" help.  The meetings involve some prep time and often include a lot of prepubescent silliness which compels me to "have to" settle them down and redirect their attention.  With much budding testosterone in my home, I  "have to" settle kids down on a daily if not hourly basis.  Around the house I "have to" cook dinner, clean the kitchen and make progress on the never ending laundry.  I "have to" spend time with my family and get sufficient sleep.  I "have to" get up at 5:15 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays to teach that 6:30 AM Yoga class.  I "have to" write my blog, though note there wasn't Wednesday Morning Mantra Manna last week because I was in "have to" mode fixing mywebsite that crashed! The most dangerous "have to"s in my life are more elusive:  I "have to" succeed, I "have to" win, I "have to" be [insert something impossible and  irrational, analogous to perfect].

My "Have-to" syndrome can lead to the inability to prioritize the "have to"s and somehow I am simultaneously going in multiple directions which inevitably leads nowhere at all!  The cure is solitude.  Solitude requires space to do absolutely nothing.  Solitude isn't as effective in my own environment as it is elsewhere because there is always something I "have to" on my turf.  If Jesus needed 40 days away in desert, I at least need a few hours or days every once in a while right?  Following God's example in Genesis, if I should allot one-seventh of life without "have to"...wouldn't life be wonderful!   "Have to" takes on many forms, even noble and sacred.  Solitude does not include "have to," which can initially seem wasteful, boring or terrifying altogether.  At it's core, solitude opens up the soul.  Solitude has yielded the stillness needed to settle muddied waters in my "have to" plagued life--I see more clearly.  I know, and may you know by taking some space and moments to do absolutely nothing in solitude.