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.

Confession of a YOGATHEA® Mom:  I am procrastinating making arrangements for our upcoming family Memorial Day Weekend trip because the thought of the whole thing is exhausting to me. 

There's still 4 days left to make arrangements right? We are bound to get awesome accommodations from a last minute cancellation...right.   The truth is that I'm more anxious about how to manage my 4 children, all day, everyday at home for 2 months this summer.  This really shouldn't be the case, since there was a time not so long ago that I had all 4 kids home with me all day, everyday, as the older two were home-schooled.  After an hour of reflection in yoga, knowing my perspective is causing discontent in my life, I finally fessed up to a couple of veteran moms; they completely understood.  The truth is these trips are becoming easier as we are out of the stroller and diaper stage, everyone dons their own seatbelt and mostly minds their own business in a book or electronic gadget.  Thank God for DVD players in the van!  Better yet, my two oldest will be especially helpful with the laundry because they know I won't leave until it's done.

Following my own advice, I took some time to express gratitude for this little vacation and the extra time I will have with my children this summer.  Gratitude is a virtue and cultivating it requires formal expression.  Whether writing a thank you note, expressing verbal gratitude, offering prayers of thanksgiving or keeping a personal list, formal expression of gratitude helps us to experience richer, more gratifying days in life.  This past New Year a friend of mine gave me a crafted "faith jar".   The purpose of this jar is as I came across issues that challenge my faith or bring me exhaustion (like planning a summer home with 4 kids) I am to write these down and throw them in the jar.  The notes in the jar are little prayers of surrender that I can commence 2014 reading, seeing what God has done.  The use of this practice creates room in my heart for gratitude as I literally let go of my worries into the jar.   I must confess, again, that it is only May and my 16oz Pinterest-esque jar is getting full, though my heart is more clear.  Remembering the positives and taking the time to formally express gratitude for them is my secret to having a great day, everyday.  

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. 

This past week I finished "The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" by Brene' Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.   Next week we will send our oldest son back to public school after homeschooling him for 18 months.  I really thought I was supposed to be Super-Christian-Mom and help my over-active child sit still and concentrate for academics while speaking to churches and selling Christian Yoga And Meditation products during my "free" time.

Here's who I really am: I'm a gym rat with spandex, supplex or other "ex" fabrics assuming a significant portion of my wardrobe; I fart while teaching Christian Yoga; I think Jeff Foxworthy is hilarious because his jokes remind me of my family and friends; I have deeper spiritual experiences during Christian Yoga and Meditation than I do singing in church, and I relate to the working moms more so than with the stay-at-home moms. 

 

Did I mention I'm really competitive? 

Doesn't much fit the Christian supposed to be list.  Fortunately Jesus used socio-religious renegades to spread His gospel like the ancient redneck Apostle Peter (a fisherman) and the alleged former psycho Mary Magdalene (woman healed of 7 demons).  Jesus embraces me so I'll embrace me too.  

 

Perhaps I'll teach my son Christian Yoga and Meditation to help him sit still and concentrate in his studies.  Or maybe his activeness will help him change the world for his generation...  Dr. Brown, thank you for your insights and encouragement and if you comment on my blog I will be glad to send you a complimentary digital copy of my currently out of stock Guided Meditation CD, "Let Be and Be Still and Know" to help you deal with the larger college boys who can't sit still in your classes!