How to Relax

In case you had forgotten (LOL!), Mother’s Day is this weekend!

Are you finding yourself a little frazzled, trying to line up gifts and brunch for your mom, grandma, aunts and other special moms? Well, our friends at Great Day St. Louis asked the Expert, our very own Zen Mommy for tips on how to relax as a busy mom. And if she can do it with four kids (two newborns), YOU can do it too, mommies!

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Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 8: Finding Quiet

On Sunday evening, I was full of hate. Spit and vinegar as my “co-parent” likes to say. Yeah, a few frustrating exchanges with said “co-parent” still manage to do that to me. But as I drove to the dance, I willed myself to let go of all the crap. No luck.

I kept turning the scenario round and round in my head, trying to find some silver lining to it all. Where was the bright side? C’mon, Pollyana? What could I be thankful for? What lesson was I learning from this situation? What secondary benefit was I getting from hanging on to it; or continuing to create it?!

Not working. I just kept getting angrier and angrier!

So I got to my destination and strapped on my shoes, knowing full well that my head was everywhere but where I was. Tal walked over. I was silently praying he wouldn’t ask me — because I was tango disaster waiting to happen. I almost laughed out loud because just a few days ago, Mimi was praising me for being so grounded. Ha!

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Practical Mommy’s Impractical Art Project

Step 7: NOW

So my friend Scott the Writer says that all thoughts are connected — because the brain is one giant self-organizing system. Perhaps my self-organizing brain picked out Coyote Blue at the bookstore last week for a reason unapparent to me. I am fully aware, however that I underlined this passage on page 97 because of my preoccupation with balance!

And then it came to him. This was just a different kind of coyote blue — trying to look into the future too far was ruining his balance. He had to focus on right now and eventually he would learn what he needed to know when the future got to him.

And this is why I love the mindfulness that is Argentine tango. Just like Zen Master Thich Naht Hanh teaches (and apparently “Zen Master” Christopher Moore), there is only now.

If I anticipate the next step, I mess up the one I’m trying to do. If I obsess about the last one, I’ll also miss the lead for the current one. There is only now. [Read more…]

How to Stop and Breathe

Just back from an “intermission,” a much needed break from work and my regular routine. It felt richly luxurious to have spent four days and three nights in a cabin by a river with just me and my two dogs and my 40 million thoughts. 🙂

I was on a conscious quest to regain my equilibrium, having sensed that I had become precariously off-center as of late. My back will attest to that!

Serendipitously, I brought along Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds on a recommendation from a very balanced friend. Maisel points out that our habitual shallow breathing (generally 2-3 seconds in duration) is a defense against knowing our own thoughts: [Read more…]

How to Find Mommy Quiet Time Through Yoga

yogaA woman must love and care for herself before she can successfully love and care for her family. Through the practice of yoga, women can devote a small portion of their day to developing a healthy body, peaceful mind and joyful spirit. The practice of yoga not only releases stress, tension, and anxiety but it helps bring focus and calmness into the mind.

The mind is astonishingly powerful. Yoga helps harness this power through meditation and focus on the breath, relieving negative, incessant thinking—something many of us do often and without awareness. Regular practice creates calmness, harmony and a positive outlook. When the body and mind are happy and healthy, we are less distracted and have more energy to connect on a deeper level to what some may call the soul or spirit. We can be truly present in our lives. [Read more…]

How to Give… and Receive

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted one word… a thought or mantra that I could use to guide my days. I would make a giant painting to hang on my wall so that it would be the first thing I saw every morning. I chose “GIVE.” You see the results of my efforts here.

Zen Mommy, remember how I asked you about picture hangers?!

After much contemplation, I realized that it was the wrong word! Giving may be my gift but it is in fact… receiving that is my lesson! The tension between the two is ubiquitous, for mommies and daddies alike! Using only ONE, without the other is imprudent especially for me, since I already have a tendency to give too much (see the infamous turkey story). [Read more…]

How to Do What You Love

There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. Human beings come into this world to do a particular work. That work is their purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you forget everything else and not this, there’s nothing to worry about. If you remember everything else and forget your true work, then you will have done nothing with your life.

– Rumi

Yikes! That’s a lot of pressure. But how does one find out what that life purpose is and if you are in fact, on the right path? I don’t know that there is ONE WAY with which people discover their life purpose. For a few lucky ones, it’s something they’ve always known. Do you know someone who, as a child always wanted to work with animals and then grew up to be vet? I knew someone in high school who wanted to be a doctor, specifically a cancer specialist working at Sloan-Kettering in New York. Sure enough, he did. I was always envious of his unwavering certainly.

But if your purpose isn’t saving people or animals, is it still worth doing? If your purpose is just doing something you love, is that gift enough to validate pursuing the dream? I am soooo incredibly lucky to know a few good women who think so. Jen, Tyler, Sharon and Ann respectively own Angelina Accoutrements, Periwinkle Bloom, Secret Leaves Paperworks, and String Buzz. (click the links for more images of their beautiful wares and/or listen to great music, all born of love!) [Read more…]

How to Find Balance for Life

If someone’s got a simple answer to the above I wanna know! I don’t propose to have the answer either, but I sure do a lot of thinking about it. As a mother of two, wife, business owner, best friend, daughter, neighbor, big sister, little sister, and Aunt, balance is one of the most important, if not at times elusive, things in my life. I think of it as not a place I expect to “get to” so much as a way I can choose to travel along the way. To say this in other words, I don’t expect to “get balanced” so much as I enjoy “feeling balanced”. Does this make sense?

What brought up these deep thoughts you ask??!! Today, cleaning out my home office (in a search of finding some much needed home office balance) I came upon my journal from New Years Eve, 2005. To give you some perspective, my youngest daughter Morgan was 2 years old and Reilly was five.

Here’s my journal entry from that day; the thing that led me to write to you on finding balance today:

Dec 31st, 2005

“…I told Shawn (that’s my husband) that lately I’ve felt like I was living inside a pressure cooker. We’ve all been sick this past week, bringing the cooker to a boil. I’ve been living out of the “get it done” side of me, the part that wants to work it out, figure it out, get it right…manage it. I think of this as the Yang side of me. I’m tired of getting things done.

There is something about the words BE STILL that call me. I am tired. I want to lie down and just be. I want to slow down my words, tell my tongue to just HOLD IT. I want to feel the action of inaction. I think of this as the Yin side of me. To be, to receive, to allow. Where have you been Yin??!! Boy, have I been neglecting you…”

In my jounal, I then made a list of things I wanted to give up in my life and things I wanted to embrace in my life. I was preparing for the New Year no doubt. This flowed right into a “Need To Do” list and an attempt to put all these “needs” into my week in an orderly fashion. I had a little weekly calender all charted out and everything, M-F, 6am – 9pm. I’m laughing now as I look at this because I remember what happened near the end of this little New Years preparation exercise. I ran out of time slots. My week did not hold enough time to fit all the things I had on my NEED to DO list.

Take A Look At Your Life

These words alone are telling. Life was not a “get to” for me at this point in time. It was more like a “need” to. I didn’t feel like I had much control over my life. If I did, the list might have read “Want to Do” or “ My Important Things List”. This may sound trite, but it’s really important because words can tell us a lot about how we are feeling, especially when we can’t admit to ourselves let alone other people how we are feeling. Looking back, that was exactly how I was feeling. NEED TO DO.

Today, life is full. I still wear alot of hats. But when I look at my week, my “Want To” list is a little longer and my “Need To” list a little shorter. (Of course my kids are three years older which helps. Let’s not kid ourselves here.) Today, I don’t expect to HAVE balance nor do I chase after balance. I am aware of balance. I think about it. I admire it. And it sure is nice when I feel it.

What Do Your Lists Look Like?

Look at your life. Make some lists. What looks like a “need” or “have to” in your life? Can you shift any of them to fall under “want to” or “important things” instead? All the needs and have to’s in life won’t go away (like last week when I HAD to get all our papers in order to get our new car tags…) but many of them will. Doing laundry is now happily on my important things list…as well as my husbands. Did I mention this last little tip? You can take things off your list and put them on other people’s lists. Aughhh yes! Balance…isn’t it a lovely thing?

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers life coaching as Zen Mommy Coach.