What if you could?

What if you could?

It was cold.

It was early.

If you’d asked me twelve months ago if I thought I could do this, I would have laughed.

NO. WAY.

As we walked, our breath froze in the air before us. (Did I mention it was cold?)

Yet there I was striding along all geared up, trusty pup and kind friend ambling alongside. My heart was racing as my bladder nudged me for one more trip to the loo. Maybe I should find a tissue in case my nose started running…

Then it was time.

Yesterday was a big day. I did something I was convinced I couldn’t do. And I felt like Wonder Woman because I NAILED IT. WE nailed it.

For the first time in 15 years I laced up my trainers and ran 5km. All the way to the end. And I didn’t die from the exertion.

You may be a runner, so 5km may be a warm-up to you, in which case I salute you deeply. But in these parts running 5km without stopping or dying or even complaining is a B-I-G deal! I’m so tickled that I may stay this shade of pink for a while.

I won’t lie: it’s been a heck of a journey to get here. The actual running wasn’t the toughest part. Want to know what was? Getting over, around and through my own mental crap about what I could and should and couldn’t do.

A brief sampling of the (completely bogus) reasons I couldn’t run anymore (like I had briefly done in my 20s):

  • My husband was away a lot, so I couldn’t train when the girls were at home;
  • I had to cook dinner;
  • I should be working;
  • The house was a mess: I should clean up the boxes that had been there for years;
  • I was too out of shape;
  • My heart rate went too high;
  • Any time I had to exercise should be spent in the gym, where I was paying for a membership;
  • My asthma might kick up again; and mostly this…
  • I was so ashamed of being SO out of shape.

Last November something clicked, and I downloaded the Couch to 5K app. It’s supposed to get you running 5km in nine weeks. HA!! In my world of excuses and busy-ness and occasional illness it took a year of on-again, off-again running to get there.

But yesterday did it. I busted through a whole bunch of nasty mental barriers about what’s possible. And I can’t wait to do it again with my friend next Saturday when we join tens of thousands of people to run for the sheer joy of it.

What do you think is impossible? Why do you think that? What are those nasty mental gremlins telling you about your abilities and power? What if they were wrong?

I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments box below and let’s slay those mental gremlins.

Here’s to you lacing up (or whatever floats your boat) and DOING the things you dream of.

It really does feel amazing.

The beauty of cracking open

The beauty of cracking open

She looked up from the page, blinking away unexpected tears.

There it was.

The moment.

The cracking open.

Naomi* had just caught a glimpse of herself and it took her breath away.

You see, Naomi pours her soul into raising her twins. She does everything to keep her family healthy, happy and fulfilled. She juggles work and home and relationships and duty. She navigates social expectations, cultural norms and all the unspoken (and spoken) “shoulds.”

She pours every iota of her mental, physical and emotional energy into her family, slotting in the rest whenever she can. To the outside world it looks like she’s ok.

Hell, Naomi looks like Super Woman.

Except inside? In her real being? She’s exhausted.

And in that moment, gazing at the sketch she’d made of her family, she realised she’d left out the most important person of all: herself.

It happens every time. Whenever exquisite, intelligent, motivated mamas meet and share vulnerably from the heart, they realise that somewhere along their mothering journey they’ve lost themselves.

Back to Naomi. That day I’d asked her and a group of mamas to place themselves, each of their children, their partner, work, parents, friends, pets and hobbies on a page covered by a big bull’s-eye. The aim was to see what was in the centre of their lives and – most importantly – where they placed themselves.

Without fail, they were somewhere outside the middle. Usually WAY outside the middle. And Naomi, like the other mamas around her, was stunned to realise just how far down her priority list she – and her needs – had fallen.

When the tears come (and they do for all of us), they offer sweet release. Recognition that something precious is being neglected and a deep knowing that it’s not right.

That to survive (never mind thrive) we must unapologetically reclaim time and space for our wants, needs, dreams and desires. Not instead of our family’s needs, dreams and desires, but alongside them.

It’s vital that we get a piece of the pie too. Not just the crumbs at the bottom of the plate when everyone’s been served, or the last bite little Jana didn’t finish (that we eat even though she has a giant cold and it’s full of germs).

A big, juicy, delicious piece of the pie. Guilt-free, comment-free and with no strings attached.

That cracking open moment is so important. It clears the way for reclaiming yourself as a whole woman and gently shifts family dynamics to a healthier space. Because you’re starting to deeply, lovingly care for yourself.

Want to give it a try? Here’s one thing you can do to start the process of (gently) cracking open:

  1. On a blank piece of paper, draw four or five concentric circles.
  2. Then place your kids, partner, job, parents, siblings, friends, pets, hobbies and self on the circular map (no editing or judging yourself.)
  3. Close your eyes, put down your pen and take a deep breath.
  4. Look at where you placed each person or aspect of your life. How do you feel about that? Where do you rank? Do you want any of that to change?
  5. Finally, write one tiny thing that you will do to bring yourself closer to the middle, and tell me in the comments below. If you don’t want to share publicly, email me at anne@thecenteredmamaproject.com to chat about it! I’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to go deeper with me as your guide you can book a one-hour “Nurture Session and we’ll spend an hour talking about YOU and one situation you’d like to shift in your life. You’ll walk away with straight-forward steps you can start to take to get things moving in the right direction.

If you’d like to uncover even more and are craving being seen as the whole, beautiful person you are, book a “See You Session in which I’ll get to know you and your beautiful inner world. After our 90-minute call I’ll send you a written portrait of the gorgeous woman I see, as well as personalised affirmations you can repeat for yourself and a guide to creating easy rituals to support your transformation.

I’d love to guide you through the magic of cracking open. Get in touch if you’d like to chat. And in the meantime, have a beautiful day.

PS: If you liked this blog post, please comment below or write to me via email here. I’d love to hear from you!

PPS: If you’re wondering about the image… I am too!! I wanted to include the most amazing image of the most breathtaking art that says ALL of this in one glorious sculpture, but I’m still waiting for the artist’s ok. In the meantime, you can see it here. It’s called Expansion, and you can see her here. Meanwhile, enjoy this gorgeous locally-made delicious heart-bread. We all need nourishing, right? MamaFuel at its best. 

*names and identifying details have been changed

What you do (or don’t) matters

What you do (or don’t) matters

We’ve all heard it a million times: put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.

Blah, blah, blah. Right? Well, hang on… 

We keep hearing it because it’s TRUE. This morning I was reminded of why.

Last night I went out.
On a school night.
To a pub. WOOP!!

This is super rare for two reasons:
1. I live in Geneva, where a babysitter can cost anywhere from $15 – $25 per hour (roughly the same in Swiss francs). So I think long and hard before going out as we have no family around to look after the girls because all outings have a financial impact.

2. I’m solo-mumming right now so there’s no backup to get the small humans up and moving in the morning. Sleep is at a premium.

I went to meet two friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time.We watched a local improv troupe called The Renegade Saints, and I laughed until I cried. I had SO MUCH FUN. It was brilliant. I filled up my cup and took loving care of myself by imbibing mirth and joy. All was going well until this point. 

BUT then I shot myself in the foot (metaphorically of course). When I got home I mindlessly turned to FB and Instagram (erm… hello addiction) and then chatted a little with my husband who’d been on various planes for nearly 24 hours and still had miles to go before he slept. By the time my brain and body screamed loud enough for me to hear, it was 1:00. In the morning.

(see point 2 above for why this is a very, very bad thing)

This is where my choices started affecting others. I slept through my alarms, woke the girls super late, *cheerfully* announced they’d be eating breakfast IN THE CAR and would go to school without brushing their teeth (wheee!!!) and raced us all through lunch and other prep.

Miraculously we were only three minutes late for school – but about 15 minutes later than we like to be – and we had no accidents along the way. I don’t yet know whether there will be a consequence for their late arrival for a second time this week.

But I DO know this: my not sleeping enough and not taking good, loving care of myself had the following ripple effects on the people around me. There are probably a few more that I don’t know about yet but for starters:

  • the girls had almost no time to get ready this morning
  • they had to eat in the car and couldn’t brush their teeth (look away, dentist friends)
  • their day started off a little stressed
  • the dog didn’t get fed until much later than usual
  • at least one class probably had to wait for one of my small humans so they could go to their race training
  • the person I was supposed to meet for a regular appointment suddenly had an unexpected free hour (maybe a good thing, maybe not)
  • the lovely cleaner who keeps our house from descending into chaos had to rearrange her whole routine so I could nap in the morning
  • I didn’t get any of the work done that I had planned, thus falling behind in work a little more

None of these are life-changing. I get it. But if I keep not taking better care of myself and these become everyday realities, they could become life-changing. Which I definitely don’t want.

There was a time not so long ago when I would have beaten myself up about this and pushed through.
But not this morning.
This morning I was curious.
This morning there was a lot of “hmmm, ok…” as I noticed my behaviours and choices.

And then I chose kindness. I chose to cancel my appointment despite what the person I was meeting may have thought (still niggling at me). I chose to have a nap despite the mind monkeys telling me I should tough it out. I chose to postpone my morning run until a day when I feel less destroyed.

At no point did I berate myself. But I made myself this promise: I WILL make different choices. Choices that feel better in my body, heart, mind and family.

Starting right now.

Things like: less phone time. Less social media (challenging because social media is how I run my business). More sleep. More movement. More grounding. And I’ll keep having fun, but balancing it with rest and nourishment.

Even though I know in my heart, brain and bones that taking care of myself is GOOD for everyone around me, sometimes I need a reminder of what happens when I don’t: other people in my life are negatively affected. And that’s not ok with me.

They don’t deserve to suffer in ways big or small, and neither do I.

So here’s to smarter choices, with love.