Acknowledging and honoring your limits
After my four year old son’s shower this evening, my husband took over. I felt fatigued and was ready to lie down for a break. Honoring my limits is so important and though I only had a few minutes, I knew I needed to take advantage of this time for the rest. I walked into the bedroom and left the door slightly ajar in case of any calls for help.
With a grateful heart, I plopped down on the bed. I took a slow, full breath and briefly closed my eyes. I let myself feel and start to sift out the being busy energy within my cells. High-alert mom mode is something that I can’t turn off some days, but acknowledging it’s there helps it to quiet. There is always the possibility of the “mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy” call but for now, I’m confident Dad can handle it.
I noticed the transition from busy to still and took another mindful breath, feeling the cool air of the inhale pass through both nostrils. I paused and proceeded to notice the exhale and the warmth of the air through my nose. I settled in. There was silence. I took another mindful breath as my body surrendered to the comfort of the bed.
The guilt of not being “super mom”
As I settled deeper, on the brink of relaxation, urgency came in. Guilt for resting and for not being “super mom” came in. I watched. I allowed. I returned to my breath. I let it be. And let it be okay that I took these moments of grace to rest.
With my next slow breath, I scanned my body for tension. There was tension around my eyes and it was as though I was forcing them shut. I lifted my eyebrows and raised my eyelids to dispel the tension. Now with eyes open, a new challenge emerged. Immediately, my open eyes darted toward the left and gazed upon the clean mountain of wrinkled towels I threw on the bed earlier.
And at that moment, it was as though I could hear the towels calling to me.
I could hear the blue towel say, “what do you think you’re doing?! We’re pretty wrinkled and we need to be folded and put away.”
Then the grey ones chimed in, “Now’s the time to fold us and get it done. You’ll feel better with us folded and put away.”
The dish towels were next: “Why are you just lying there?!” they snidely remarked. “Get up! There’s just too much to do!”
I took another breath.
I knew I had only a few more minutes to myself before the toddler show began again. I closed my eyes. I needed this “nothing” time. Most days, life is so full from one moment to the next.
This quiet time is so precious—it’s my yoga
I grounded in my body and in my breath, tuning my awareness to now but the urge to fold the towels kept creeping in. And then it expanded to an urge to get stuff done and grew into to my to-do list. I felt it. I watched the list form in my mind. I witnessed the busy, the need to rush and the need to push myself beyond my limits—the need to fill every moment. The desire to check off the list and get up to be busy again. So I breathed with it. And quietly said “no.”
I didn’t shout it from the roof tops or say it to anyone’s face.
But, in that moment, between the frantic desire and negative thoughts, I firmly stated within myself that I would not fold those towels now. I chose rest. I chose those few minutes of quiet to myself and said “no.”
I said “no” to the get stuff done urge.
I said “no” to the to-do list.
I said “no” to the busy, rush and push.
I said “no” to the desire to check off the to-do list so I feel more productive.
Evolution in my relationships
This has been a practice—not just in my relationship to myself, but an important evolution in my relationships with others.
Before I felt comfortable saying “no” to family, friends or clients, I needed practice. I needed to learn how to say “no” within myself. I needed to make peace with that choice too. Then love that I made that choice. And let there be space for that choice. I needed to give myself the option of that choice. I taught myself that I deserved to make that choice and voice that need. I taught myself that I was worthy of saying “no” when I needed to. Those “noes” were always right for me and it didn’t matter if it was right for anyone else, because my needs matter too.
So I began to feel empowered by my choices, understanding what a quiet “no” could do
I felt confident saying “no” to doing the dishes so I could go play trains and cars with my son.
I said “no” to overbooking my schedule so I could feel less rushed.
I said “no” to late work nights so I could rest and heal my body.
I said “no” to rushing and pushing too hard so I could slow down and breathe in the rain, watch the clouds pass and feel the warmth of the sun on my face.
I said “no” to worry and fear so I could reclaim my stolen moments.
I said “no” to draining conversations with energy vampires to improve my mood.
And before I knew it, I found more confidence and comfort when I needed to say “no.”
Saying “no” let me say “yes” to things that mattered
“Yes” to more time with my family, which is often fleeting.
“Yes” to time for play.
“Yes” to time to read and discover.
“Yes” to being creative.
“Yes” for a day with no plans.
“Yes” for being silly.
And “yes” to rainy pajama days with no agenda.
My “noes” and “yeses” became so empowering, I soon realized how precious my time really is. My time became a valuable currency. I looked closely at how I spent it, with whom I spent it, the thoughts I gave my attention to, the emotions I felt and what I wanted out of life. And most importantly, how I wanted to spend my precious days as a human.
Beautiful shifts occurred within me once my “noes” and “yeses” mattered.
The mountain of laundry will have to wait.
For now, I’ve got to breathe into my grateful heart before it’s too late and the quiet moments are gone.
And for me, that’s wonderfully and perfectly okay.