“When we pause, allow a gap and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly, we slow down, look out, and there’s the world.” – Pema Chödrön
The end of my maternity leave is drawing near. Reflecting on this has evoked many emotions and thoughts on life transitions and how we spend our time. As anxiety about this reality crept in, I paused and settled into myself. For the first time in a while. I felt peace. I felt quiet. I felt expansiveness. It felt good. And all it took was a moment…
This moment of pause could have been filled with other “things”. With my son at his day camp and my daughter asleep, I could have stuffed my feelings of overwhelm and anxiety with social media, TikToks and tweets. I could have picked up my book, cleaned, exercised, watched some comedy (more on that later). I could have called a friend.
After taking that moment to pause and connect with myself, I chose to pick up my journal and watercolors. And those activities, consciously chosen, nourished me. My choice to quiet the noise and settle into my body reminded me of the power of self-reflection. I was reminded how when we pause and reflect on our values, we can more easily choose activities that give us that feeling of congruency and authenticity (which drive well-being).
As a parent, maximizing my bits of kid-free time has been essential since choosing more nourishing activities helps me to become more present. I've written previously about presence and believe it’s the secret sauce in parenting, love and life. As of late, my daughter has been re-teaching me the power of presence. Almost five months earthside, she regularly seeks my gaze and radiates pure joy when our eyes lock. Its intoxicating. And it takes a whole lot of emotional energy to truly be there with her.
To be a truly present parent your cup needs to be full. We need to practice self-care, consciously choosing activities that nourish us. Activities that recharge our emotional batteries. And practice self-compassion when we don’t. We need to ask for help and model to our children what self-care looks like.
But man that’s a tall order….just like my long list of maternity leave goals. Am I the only new Mom who thinks I am can deliver a baby, nourish my family, rebuild my body, redecorate my home, and receive the Nobel Peace Prize in five months off work?
And yet when I start work again my list of goals will still be there. Deliberations on how to best spend my time will persist. Yes, my time will become more scarce. But as I experienced in my recent moment of pause and presence, when we take time to go inward how we choose to spend our time may change. We may seek those activities that truly nourish us. That tick the self-care box. Activities that bring us more joy and refill our cup. And with that refilled cup, we can be present in where we’re at in life as it is. Right now, this moment.
Hello and welcome! My name is Andrea Notch Mayzeles. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, Mom, and Master of Public Health dedicated to the path of well-being. As a wellness professional I am committed to continued learning and am here to share research, recipes and musings on health, psychology, personal development, and parenting. I hope you enjoy!