Monday, September 11, 2017

GUILT, FREEDOM, SPACE, DREAMS, AND LIFELINES



This morning, my two bigs went to school (first day of kindergarten, woo hoo!).   I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to feel right now.  I saw moms get teary as they waved goodbye to their little kindergarteners getting swallowed up by that great big school building.  I think maybe that's how I'll feel when the last one goes to school.  Maybe not.  I feel celebratory today.  I raised three kiddos capable of doing part of life without me by their side.  I feel thankful that we have such an amazing elementary school.  I feel relief at having some breathing room.  I feel hope at resurfacing pieces of myself that haven't had space for a long time.

And today also marked the first day I dropped Pippa at an at home day care for a few hours.  As a stay-at-home mom, I would have never done this with my older two kids.  I think I felt like I needed to be with them constantly and that I didn't have the right (self permission?) (confidence?) to leave them in someone else's care when I could be home with them.  

But here's what I want you to know.  Today feels a little weird, but today feels good.  I'm nervous about all my tiny humans out there in the big world, but I'm also celebrating in my heart.  This motherhood thing, it's hard work.  It's beautiful and powerful and fulfilling in a lot of ways, but it's the most challenging thing I've ever done in my whole life.   After 8 years of being a full time, stay-at home mom, I'm ready for a little break.  I know I've done my job, and though there have definitely been days that I would never want to re-live and moments I wish I could re-do, I know I've done my job well.   

I have carried around a lot of guilt as a mother.  Not the "you should potty train this way" or "let them cry it out" or "only feed them organic, paleo, from scratch foods".  Those things are definitely guilt inducing as well, but that's not what I'm talking about.  I feel a lot of guilt because, while I am very certain I am supposed to be at home and the primary caregiver for my children, I am not totally fulfilled by that.  The world tells me I should be and that, if I'm not, then the message I hear is, "Something is wrong with you."

About 4 years ago, I realized that I lived motherhood with a one foot in and one foot out mentality.  I had always been so afraid that I would be consumed by motherhood and that I would lose my own identity outside of that.  I wasn't necessarily doing anything to create an identity outside of my kids, but I stuck one foot on the other side of the line out of fear and planted myself firmly in this middle ground.

As I wrestled with my own insecurities and restlessness, I decided to try jumping in with both feet and really committing to this motherhood gig.  All in.  A year later, instead of feeling better about everything, I felt more restless than ever before.  And more guilty.

I deeply love my kids.  I don't regret having them.  They are the loves of my life.  I don't regret staying home with them.  I have felt passionately that I want and need to be here and have never felt like my calling was to go back to work full time.  

I do, however, regret not listening to my heart.  

I regret that I knew that I wasn't thriving and I wasn't at my best and that something was missing for me and not doing anything about it.  I definitely wanted to.  There were lots of tears and lots of exhaustion and even bits of rage, but I think the hardest part for me was that I didn't know what I was supposed to do.   I didn't have a "career" to go back to part time or a skill set to really work from home.

I didn't want to just have a job, I wanted to do meaningful work.  I wanted to be creative and have an outlet of some sort that would be fulfilling to me, but it's really hard to give yourself permission to do that when you know it's not paying anything and in fact, you are actually paying to do it because child care isn't cheap, am I right?

But I know I'm supposed to do more.  I'm created to do more, and even though I'm not exactly sure what that is, I feel it deep in my bones.  Being a mom is one of my favorite things in the world, but it is not all for me.  

I had a really clear image in my head a few years ago.  It was a hot air balloon with the burner blazing full force.  The balloon was so full of hot air it was ready to burst, and it was trying so hard to fly.  But it's ropes were still tethered to the ground.  It strained against these ropes and could not break free.  It could only go as far as the ropes would allow.    

I understood that the hot air balloon is me.  Trying to fly.  Trying to move beyond the life I'm in. The ropes are my kids, my husband, my home.   I felt so bound by them.  So limited in a lot of ways.  I felt angry and bitter and resentful.  

Friends, I have no idea what I'm doing right now, but I do know that I'm going to spend some hours filling my tank every week.  I'm letting go of any guilt of my two year old spending some time at day care while I'm at home.  I'm going to allow myself time and space to create some things, write some things, paint some things, move some things and see what happens.  I'm going to figure out what meaningful work looks and feels like to me.  I'm going to deem it a success if not one person gets anything out of it other than me.  Because if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  

If you are feeling stuck, I understand.  If you are feeling tied down,  I understand.  If you feel held back,  I understand. If you are feeling guilty for your feelings,  I understand.  If you feel like you don't fit the mold and something is off, I understand.

May you give yourself freedom and space and permission to do some things you love if for no other reason than it makes you happy.  

We are not martyrs here.  We are women with dreams and loves and ideas AND kids.  I used to think those things were mutually exclusive.  They are not.  

The more that I'm doing this, the more my perspective shifts.  I'm still that hot air balloon, and I still want to fly.  But those ropes, maybe they aren't working against me.  Maybe they are anchors, securing me to a safe place while allowing me to fly high and see things from different viewpoint. Maybe they fill me up and show me more and more the truth and the good and surprising things about myself.  

Maybe they are actually lifelines.  




*I sent this song to my husband the weekend of the retreat.  He was my biggest encourager and support when I totally stepped out of my comfort zone to do this thing.  I'm reminded of it as I type these words today.  Maybe it'll resonate with you too...

Click here to listen →  Anchor by Mindy Gledhill










Thursday, July 20, 2017

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FEARLESS WARRIOR



A man just sat down next to me in the coffee shop.  I didn't notice him at first, not until his body odor reached my nostrils.  I sat up straighter and eventually stole a sideways glance at him.  His hair, matted; his clothes, dirty.  In front of him sits a steaming shot of espresso.  At $2.15, it's the cheapest thing Starbucks sells.  

I am in this moment acutely aware of the privileged life I lead.  That I'm paying $80 for a babysitter right now, plus another $5 for the overpriced coffee in front of me, so that I can type words on a screen that may or may not be important to anyone besides myself.  

It seems he's come here to charge his phone.  

I have come here to charge my heart, but instead have wallowed here at my circular table and down internet trails. I have questioned my value, ability, and direction in the span of a few hours and written zero words on a page because when you question your value, ability, and direction there's not much to write.  

He's leaving now.  He shuffle/limped to the trash/recycle/compost area and took a moment to decide where to deposit his cup.  I'm surprised by this for some reason.  A beige trench coat is draped over one arm as he exits the building on this summer day. I wonder how he got here in life.  I have no idea where he will go next.  I wonder if he knows.

The truth is, though, that I have no idea where I'm going either.  I have every single thing I could ever need, a beautiful family, a lovely home, and yet my heart feels homeless sometimes.  I don't really know what I'm doing in life.  Does anyone?  Do you?  

I'm inspired by people who seem to know who they are.  They are confident in what makes them unique and live fully into that.  They build businesses and lives out of the sheer fabric of themselves, and it's motivating and paralyzing at the same time.  

What if my fabric is not worth sewing?  

I'm learning, however, that this war with myself is bigger than me.  It's something that every person faces in time.  But it often feels like a pretty lonely and misunderstood place.  It's a place that not many of us are brave enough to talk about, but we all experience.  

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the life we want to live.  What stands between the two is fear, doubt, resistance.  

Stephen Pressfield writes in The War of Art, "Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work...Resistance is always lying and always full of shit."  

Amen to that.  

The other thing he said that has been pushing me forward right now is this, "Resistance will unfailingly point to true North - meaning that call or action it most wants us to stop doing. We can use this.  We can use it as a compass.  We can navigate by resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others."  

When we question and doubt, the misunderstanding people in our lives might think, "We are here again?" with an internal eye roll.  But this resistance is an unrelenting force. It is a battle that must be fought every single day in order to win the war.  Each morning brings new resistance and new fear that must be slain.

If you feel this resistance and want to give up, I beg of you to press on.  If you are asking yourself, "Who am I?  Am I really a writer or artist or good mother or strong businesswoman?" chances are you already are.  Those with total confidence are the counterfeits among us.   The real ones are scared to death.  

You have no idea how much peace that gives me.  I've been scared to death my whole life of the things I'm trying to do.  I always thought there was something wrong with me; I think other people did too.   The truth is though, that I'm fighting a unrelenting battle on this earth to live into the life that I'm supposed to, and I always will be.  

I feel compelled to say today that if you are afraid, unsure, unravelling, or paralyzed, I get it. I get you. I am unfortunately a master of self-sabotage, and have committed treason on myself more times than I can count. 

There is no such thing as a fearless warrior.  What matters most, though, is not living without fear; it's facing the fear with trembling hands and punching it in the face.  

This place of fear.  This place where you are stuck is not the end.  It is the middle.   

There is no way out, only through.  

The middle is hard, y'all.  The middle is where we give up.  The middle feels like treading water, and we can't see the distant shore.  But the middle is the place of transformation...it's the whole point.  It's where we decide to sink or swim, to make life a daring adventure or numb ourselves right out.  

Please don't stop in the middle.  We are meant to experience the middle like a butterfly is meant to experience the struggle of emerging from it's chrysalis.  Without the struggle, it can't fly.  Neither can you.  

If you've been waiting, comparing, and making excuses, stop.  Stop waiting.  Stop comparing.  Stop making excuses.  Just go and do that thing.  Even if it's hard.  Even if you're scared.  Everything you want lies on the other side of your fear.  And believe me, I'm preaching to the choir here.  

It takes intense heat to refine precious metal, intense pressure to make a diamond, intense irritation to create a pearl.  Our transformation is no different.  

I'd rather be the diamond than the lump of coal.  You?




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

WEEKEND|REFRESH WORDS


It's now been a month and a half since our glorious Weekend Refresh Retreat.  I've wanted to write about it so many times, but I haven't quite known what to say.  I think I needed some time and the perspective that comes with that, but still am just having a hard to even put into words the experience of the weekend.

We laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank, we learned, we reflected, we stand-up paddle boarded, we shared beds and bathrooms and space and life.  It felt kind of sacred.

I think as I started planning the retreat, I realized how much of a need there is for women in this season of life to have some space carved out for them.  We are weary and usually taking care of everyone except ourselves.  A traditional conference, though away from kids and life, doesn't really allow the space for decompression and reflection and rest.  I wanted to create that space for these women, and allow them to simply show up and receive.  I wanted them to be surrounded by beauty, support, and encouragement.  

I could literally feel people exhale over the weekend.  Looking back over the photos, eyes got brighter, smiles got bigger, people sat closer together.  A sense of aliveness and clarity just swept through everyone.

While I still struggle with putting my own words to the retreat, I thought maybe the women's words would be a truer description.  These are from an anonymous survey I sent out post-retreat, and quite frankly blew me away.


I loved connecting with so many different women.  I loved the smaller size of it, how we were able to meld together so wonderfully and deepen relationships.  I loved how honest and open all the women were - what an amazing group of strong women that gathered! 

I loved the workshop + time to reflect.  It really really really helped me understand myself in a way that gave me strength and courage I so desperately needed right now.  And I feel like the quiet time and strength has lasted...I'm still able to come to a place of knowing that I can and will succeed through my daily challenges.
 

This was exactly what I wanted...a retreat with Christian women that was more intimate, more vulnerable, easier to make solid new relationships and build on the old ones, more fun and less scheduled, but still left me with my bucket and my toolbox filled.  
 

Just an overwhelming feeling of gratitude!  You wouldn't believe me if I told you how many people I have raved about this to or how many conversations have continued about core values, taking time to rest, etc.  It was truly life-giving and felt like a true gift.


When I asked the women to describe the retreat in one word, here's what they said:
Valuable 
Amazing 
Centering 
Refreshing 
Life-Giving


If, at the beginning of all the planning, I had written out my hopes for the retreat, these would have been my words.  Verbatim.  What started as a tiny little thought, grew into this amazing thing that impacted these women for the better.  I am so humbled and thankful every time I think about it.  It was so worth it.  



Friday, July 7, 2017

WEEKEND|REFRESH RETREAT IN PHOTOS



They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I don't think I could ever adequately describe to you the beauty in this weekend.  The location, the house, the women inside and out.  

So, let's do a photo walk through of the retreat.   These photos have all been culled from women on the retreat.  Thanks so much for sharing these, ladies!  


FRIDAY

The women started arriving around 7pm on Friday night.  Upon arrival they were handed a blackberry fizz cocktail and sent to the patio to decompress from whatever they left behind...a million logistics of childcare and work and husbands and crazy lives.  


I had the most fun creating some special touches for the women's rooms.  It was such a joy to put together.  




My dear friend, Kelsie, planned, prepped, and cooked ALL the food for the retreat, and it was nothing short of AMAZING.  I could not have done it without her! 


We had 16 women (included myself) on the retreat.  Some women only knew one other person, some knew a bunch, but all of them rolled in gracefully ready to embrace each other and the weekend. 

Taking this photo was probably the most surreal thing for me.  This vision was actually reality.





SATURDAY

We started Saturday morning off with a devotional about identity through transition.  (A post on that is coming soon.)  Prior to the retreat, I had asked the women what they were struggling with, and this idea of "Who am I now...?" came up from so many people.  

My sister-in-law, Jaclyn, led an incredible workshop about our Core Values.  Again, something I plan to post on soon with some materials from the retreat.  And afterwards, everyone had an hour of silence/self-reflection time that afterwards.

Sometimes in our whirlwind of daily life, we get out of the habit of taking time to really reflect inwards with ourselves.  We are so busy and moving from place to place and thing to thing all the time and that becomes the norm.  Having an hour to sit and journal and think is a rarity, and I heard from many people that this was their favorite part of the retreat.


We might have had carnitas tacos with margaritas for lunch.   I told you we ate well!  And then everyone had free time until dinner that night.  

I loved how everyone felt comfortable to do their own thing.  Some women kayaked and stand-up paddle boarded, some hung out by the pool, some took a nap in the sun, some went for a run, some put their headphones in and read a book, some spent more time journaling in quiet.  It was a pretty sweet sight.  


 

Saturday night, we had a big dinner party which was so much fun!!  Kelsie treated us with prosciutto wrapped asparagus, roasted grape and olive crostini, a delicious salad, and sweet potato gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce.   Yum-O!   We also got to celebrate a birthday that day with a scrumptious chocolate cake.  Here's Kelsie working her magic in the kitchen.  




There were apparently some shenanigans on the porch over appetizers the involved red lipstick.  I love how happy and relaxed everyone looks, and I love that red lipstick makes women feel bold and a bit daring. 








Yep.  We fit 16 women around one table!  Can I say again how amazing this house is??



SUNDAY

Sunday morning arrived, and a few brave souls got up early and hiked Saddleback Trail.  




We wrapped up our time together that morning with women sharing some things that came out of our core values workshop and reflection time the day before.  It was so cool to hear their ideas and their aha moments and their hearts in it all.  Each one of these women is a beautiful soul through and through.  


Sadly, our time did have to come to a close.  I'm just honestly so very thankful for this time.  It was such a privilege to share time and space with each one of these women.  They were willing, brave, vulnerable, thoughtful, honest, fun, loving, and utterly breathtaking.


Hopefully, Weekend Refresh 2018 will be on the books soon!!  








Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WEEKEND|REFRESH RETREAT - MAY 19-21, 2017

You know that retreat we talked about a forever ago??  Well, it's exactly one month away!

I had such an overwhelming response of women expressing interest in the retreat, that I decided to give dibs on registration to those people.  And well, the whole she-bang booked up in a matter of hours.  It was fast and furious, and a sign to me that there is a desperate need for this type of thing.

I so wish I could include every single person who wants to go, but the house is only so big.  If you would like to add yourself to the waitlist in case anyone drops last minute, please fill out the form below.  And if you're not necessarily interest in this one, but this is something you'd like to do in the future if (when?) I do another one of these, go ahead and sign up on the waitlist and write that in the notes section.  That'll help me gauge interest in planning for another one.  


My hope is that this is a weekend that balances the need to be filled up, but also poured out.  A restful place for the weary mom just needing a break, the busy woman who hasn't had any time to reflect and process, the girl who desperately needs some love, a glass of wine, and Jesus all meshed into one weekend.  I can't wait to report back how it all went!

The waitlist registration form and more details for the retreat can be found below if you are interested.  


xoxo,
Amy




May 19-21, 2017
Entiat, WA
$160.00



DATES and TIMES
The retreat will officially kick off on Friday, May 19th at 7pm and come to a close on Sunday, May 21 at 11am.

LOCATION

Y'all.  THIS is where we will be staying...
I'm not kidding.  And this is the reason why we HAD to move the retreat from March to May! Average temperatures in Entiat in May are mid-seventies, so we can definitely take advantage of the pool and lakefront amenities!

The house has 4 bedrooms (one of which with an additional loft with a queen bed), as well as a bunk room with 6 twin bunkbeds, and 3 and a half bathrooms.  Depending on numbers, we will figure out sleeping arrangements.

It's absolutely beautiful!  You can check out more photos of the house HERE.

The owner has been extremely generous with us so that we can keep costs as low as possible.


COST
The total cost for the retreat is $160.  That includes a two night stay at this gorgeous house, as well as food for the weekend - 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 big, glorious dinner party - and all the amazing stuff we are going to do!

Cancellations (with a full refund) must be made at least 2 weeks prior to the retreat (by May 5 at the latest). 


And if cost feels prohibitive to you, but you really want to come, please email me at tinyuprisings@gmail.com.  We may be able to provide a subsidized cost or scholarship for you.

JOIN ME
The retreat is now full!  Please fill out the form above to be added to the waitlist.  Waitlisted people will be added in the order that they were received if spots become available. 





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