Wholeness Instead of Balance

“Wholeness” has been on my heart a lot lately. Maybe because there are pumpkin spice donuts being advertised everywhere I go, and donuts have holes which makes me think of how the words “hole” and “whole” are homonyms (Wow, I’m nerding out hard on this one—sorry guys!) but maybe also because it’s being divinely thrown at me from so many directions. 

Wholeness: 

1. the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity 

2. The state of being unbroken or undamaged

(New Oxford American Dictionary)

  If we look at the second part of the definition, wholeness is defined as “the state of being unbroken or undamaged.” Well, Mr. Webster, I disagree profoundly. I believe the best state of “wholeness” comes from a great deal of breakage and damage. I think we should stick to the first part of the definition. Can you all just humor me while we delve into this concept of wholeness?

  Sometimes wholeness is used interchangeably with the term “balance,” but I want to explain a key difference. People often say they are “striving for balance.” We hear it all the time. It’s one of those terms that has taken on significant new meaning in the social media realm:

 “I am seeking balance.” 

“I am eating kale and chocolate because ‘balance.’” 

“I am a mom doing all the things I can because I have ‘balance’ in my life.” 

  You get the idea. We talk about achieving some sort of equality on some arbitrary scale that is perfectly level because we are stacking chips on either side to procure some delicate symbiosis. 

  The problem is, a scale has only two sides. So in my opinion, balance is very limiting. As far as I can see, most of us are more than two-sided; For example, I am more than “mom” and “wife.”

  But many of us are living on a scale that gives only two options: 

  1. Who I need to be to prove something to myself
  2. Who I need to be to prove something to others 

  When you are constantly living your life trying to prove something to anyone, you are going to get rundown. Youc63aeab9b90b33611dc8d1317e18aebd won’t be living your life in a way that has personal meaning. You’re living your life by someone else’s standards of idealism. Resentment is usually next, followed by anger at the ones for whom you do the things. Now you’re not any good to anyone because you are bitter toward the ones who have inspired this ideal of balance which was never yours to begin with! 

  And who is putting this pressure on us to achieve these goals, anyway? I mean, I never met a woman who could work an eight hour day, have herself and her kids trendily-dressed and coifed, be on multiple committees at school, workout for an hour a day, volunteer a few hours a week, have an impeccably decorated, clean and organized home, and top it all off with a homemade dinner every night. To quote Pride and Prejudice, “I never saw such a woman. Surely she would be a fearsome thing to behold.” 

  What’s funny is, I see people trying to have you believe this ALL THE TIME. I used to be one of them! I didn’t even realize what I was doing. We have some warped notion that these are the things that make us whole; At some point we started to believe this weird appearance of “balance” is what will make us happy and whole. 

   I can tell you from experience, dear friend, if you are on this road yourself, you’re going to derail. This insta-perfect life you’re aiming for is not real. Even the Queen of Domestic Perfection herself, Joanna Gaines, admits she has a dangerously cluttered attic. Quirky-cute Kristen Bell is very outspoken about her struggles with anxiety. No one’s life is in “balance.” It’s an illusion if they’re trying to have you believe that. 

  So please, you beautiful being, stop trying to be everything perfect by someone else’s standards. “Balance” is unrealistic. What we can be aiming for is wholeness.

  Wholeness is achievable. Wholeness is personalized. It’s a pie chart that is segmented by the things that matter to you, most likely discovered by failing at achieving what doesn’t matter to you. The things that break you apart if you’re trying to chase after them are not meant to be yours. 

  My wholeness will look completely different from yours and that’s okay. My Daily Must-Dos include but are not limited to: writing every day, a five-minute snuggle with my messy-haired daughter first thing in the morning, coffee with a little too much creamer in it, designing workouts for people who are trying to get their bodies in the shape that makes them feel strong, and last but most important, prayer. I have to have time every day to quiet my heart and hear what God has to say to me. And no I don’t care if those things aren’t included on some influencer’s instagram account. This is where I draw my wholeness from. I have learned that when God is my source, I don’t get mad at myself if I didn’t meal-plan this week. I don’t beat myself up if I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning. I am not having my family professionally photographed this year and hallelujah—that is so freeing! The small things don’t rattle me like they used to. 

  Our sense of worth, our wholeness comes from within. It comes from that quiet place in our heart that doesn’t sound like anyone else’s. We might really admire what we see in pictures on social media. But take into account that this is someone else’s version of whole. It doesn’t need to be yours. 

 Take a minute to be still and ask yourself what will bring you peace and contentment today. Do it without your phone in your hand. Do it without considering what external pressures are making you feel. Carve out that time for you this week. Recharge your own batteries and seek wholeness, not perfection. 

Sharing is Caring: Lessons from Luke

“Isn’t it difficult to write about yourself so vulnerably?” 

“What is the point about being so vocal about your mental issues?”  

  To answer to the first of those questions, yes, it’s very difficult. It is scary to open up your heart to others. But I will continue to do it because I see the good it can do. I want to share this little story with you. I want to show you the power of opening up and showing people how you deal with your imperfections.

  My kids started attending a new school this week. It has been something we’ve been mulling over for a while, but this was the right thing for our family to do. Last week before school started, we met with the social worker at the new school to go over Luke’s accommodation plan. She had his file open and ready and already knew a little bit about his difficulty with anxiety. She was very familiar with the struggles of anxiety disorder and told Luke about a sensory room that they have available for students who need a minute to gather themselves or remove themselves from excessive stimulation. Luke was actually holding back a smile hearing that. I could tell he was pleasantly surprised that other kids at the school deal with this.

  “What other coping techniques did Luke’s therapist give to him to help him with his anxiety?” She asked me.

  Luke piped up out of nowhere. “I can kill the worry bully,” he said softly.

  “The worry bully?” She asked smiling at him. “I’ve never heard of that. Can you tell me about it?”

  “Yeah. He’s the voice in my head that tells me lies and makes me worry. He is the one telling me I’m not good at stuff and he makes me think people are looking at me and he just makes me scared sometimes. So I can yell at him in my head and take him out and I can destroy him however I need to.”

  “I love this!” She said.

  “Luke, tell her how you’ve killed him before. That’s funny,” I said loving him to bite-sized pieces in this moment.

  A slow smile spread across his face. “I have thrown him into the fire or into ceiling fans. At school, I flushed him down toilets before. My mom even lets me say swear words to him if I’m alone.”

  She laughed. “This is so great! I am going to use this for my other students! Would that be ok with you Luke?” She asked. He looked at the floor bashfully and nodded.

  She left the room to go make a few copies of his paperwork. I looked over at him and smirked. 

  “Only swear words if you’re totally alone, right?”

  “Yeah,” he said, dimples popping. “Mom?”

  “Yeah, buddy.”

  “Do you think that maybe because I told her about the worry bully it might help other kids with their anxiety.”

  “Absolutely! That’s why I’m so proud of you! Do you see? When you open up about it and don’t lock it all inside, you can help other people overcome the same things you struggle with but are getting stronger at.”

 “I like knowing that,” Luke said shyly.

This is why I write about how I deal with anxiety in my children and in myself. Someone needs to be reminded that they are not a victim of their thoughts and fears. Someone needs to hear that they have power in life, maybe not in the circumstances, but in the ways they react to them. Please take a lesson from my sweet boy. Sharing your heart with someone may help in ways you’d never suspect. It’s like a bottle of wine. It doesn’t do much good bottled up, the best way to enjoy it is to share it with friends.

“Sharing how you feel and what’s real for you may be scary…But every time you hold back your truth, you make fear more important than love. This is why the depth of your availability to love will be mirrored in your ability to be honest. It’s really as simple as that.” —Mark Groves  

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Noah 5th grade, Grace 1st grade, Luke 4th grade

 

  

Meditation: My New Keurig

Meditation. The word alone used to make me think of paint drying or watching golf on t.v. But, wow, how wrong I was. I recommend it because even ten minutes of deep focus in meditation can bring you hours of peace.

  I’m reeeeally new to it, but I’m already noticing the soothing stillness that can come from it when I am able to dive in. Like anything worth doing and becoming good at, it requires patience and practice. I can see why so many people use meditation as a way of centering themselves every day and cannot function properly without that time. 

  In the past, when I’d attempt meditating, I’d start to doze off. I would get so relaxed, I would want to lie down and nap. That’s too relaxed. But you also don’t want to be so consciously aware that you are buzzing from one thought to the next. That’s just thinking. Solid meditation happens when you’re in this state between active thinking and sliding into sleep. We Americans don’t exist in that mental plane very often. Our culture is very task-oriented. Thoughts, words and actions are a means to an end and there is no time to waste! Even our constitution tells us we should be in “pursuit of happiness.” But happiness is right here and right now. We just need to learn how to tap into it.

  It is very counterintuitive for us to allow ourselves to live in a few minutes of simply existing. That’s really all basic meditation aims to do. Your focus in the beginning is your breathing, that air flowing in and out of your body that keeps you alive. So I want to share with you a quick tutorial on what works for me getting into that state of calm.

  The best meditation I’ve done is in a comfortable seated position. I like cross-legged on the floor or ground outside. I sit up straight so I am rooted to the ground and imagine my spine is taking root in it like a plug in an electrical outlet. I am pulling energy from the earth around me, solid and constant. 

  Next I close my eyes and begin to deepen my breathing. Deep, purposeful breaths that flow completely in and out. I attach my thoughts to that air. I won’t think of anything else while I’m in this state. I focus on how grateful I am for my breath. Then I begin to send it to each area of my body.

I aim my breath at my base of my spine, thankful for my existence. 

Then I move up a little and aim my breath at my low belly, sending thoughts of gratitude for emotions and feelings.

Next, I send breath to my mid-belly and set intentions of thankfulness of purpose and wisdom I’ve learned and have yet to acquire.

From there, I push my breath toward my heart-center, gratitude for my ability to heal, show kindness, and to love.

These next few breaths are from my chest toward my throat, I even let these ones escape from my lips. I am expelling any negativity from my throat and inviting good energy in. I ask God to give me words to be used for good, to strengthen my voice to empower.

The next breaths are aimed at the space between my eyes, my intuition, my imagination. I am grateful for creativity and the ability to be alive and aware.

Last, I send breath to the top of my head, my brain and here I become grateful for understanding and enlightenment, for my ability to recognize divinity in my life, that God is present with me and I exist as a spiritual being. 

You might think this next thing sounds crazy, but sometimes I hum or chant  as I breathe. If I hold one steady note for each breath, it helps me to focus on the breathing and keeps me just awake enough to continue and not slide into too relaxed of a state. It drowns out the thoughts I have and I can focus better. It’s actually really cool because soon you don’t even hear your own voice. It’s just a disembodied sound from somewhere far away in your consciousness. You don’t even recognize it after a minute or two. My best meditations have actually included chants. And now is a great time to try it since the kids are heading back to school soon. They won’t be around to poke their head into your room and give you weird judgy looks. Or better yet, you could even try it with them!

  And it’s better than coffee in the morning! I promise, once you learn to lean into it, you will open your eyes afterward and feel refreshed and peaceful. You will head into your day with a positive mindset and it will take great effort to rattle you.

  So there you go, a crash course in meditation. It’s so powerful if you can make time for it for even ten minutes a day. I’d love to hear what you think if you are able to try it or if you’ve been doing it for a while, how it has helped you. IMG_0098