Living inPASSION Series: What happened to your inner child?

I love my Fridays. I truly do.

Every Friday I am lucky enough to lead a mama group at the Athens Pregnancy Center in Athens, Ga. I cannot wait for 10am to roll around, nor do I want 11:30 am to creep up on me as well. Often enough, we stay together way past the allotted time.

I love these women. In turn, they’ve accepted me. I hope they know that they truly belong there; exactly as they are, because of who they are. In my mind, they are perfect. In my eyes, I’d change nothing about them, only what they themselves want to change in honor of progress and living on another level.

I believe in them.

And I believe in you as well. Otherwise, I would not be writing, spending my time, a precious resource, more precious than gold.

I would be deeply honored if you would stay close to me as I unpack the inPASSION Series over the coming months. They correspond very closely to the material in my Living inPASSION Series of workshops based on my ‘An Everyday Mama Finds a Passionate Life’ book. True story. My story.

You won’t be alone on this journey, our mama group will be right alongside you, spurring you on.

Today was the first day of this introspective material.

But before I get into that, let me tell you how great our mamas are. Sing a few praises.

We welcome every new woman with open arms. No judgement. Just love. Kind advice. Hugs. Prayers.

We tear up together. Laugh together. Dream together.

We share our stories knowing that we will certainly be heard. That someone is on our side.

We check up on our individual progress. We give a bit of our heart each time we come together.IMG_5372

A community of belonging.

I just want to honor them.

Now that I’ve satisfied my desire to brag, let’s move onto the material that may be relevant to you; the material we embarked upon today. These will be slight steps, so as not to overwhelm anyone, but to give everyone enough time to digest and alter their course in life or continue on stronger than ever before.

Our step one, a very important step, is to tap into our authentic selves. We cannot access the passionate side of life if we don’t know who we are, don’t know our inner voice and/or dreams.

The positive news are that you can definitely find the answers to all the three questions. You don’t even need to know the complete answer, but be willing to learn, to access life on another level. As soon as you start being open and willing, things will start to shift for you.

To help you tap into your authentic self, I’ve designed a few exercises that grow into each other and over time you will understand why they’ve been arranged in the order you are about to receive them and the reason behind every question.

To the best of your ability, with every ounce of honesty, please answer the following questions:

  1. What did you enjoy doing as a child?
  2. What do you enjoy doing now?

Think of activities, things, etc., that made/make you happy.

Take all the time in the world. Don’t rush it. This is not a sprint.

As cliché as it sounds, life is definitely a marathon.

Now that you’ve got those answers down, look back to see if you notice a discrepancy between then and now. Are these answers in stark contrast to each other? Are you surprised that the answers are relatively the same? Have you added on some items as you’ve matured?

By now, you are probably eager to find out why these answers are relevant and why I’ve placed so much importance on them.

Here is why:

I may not be an expert in many things, but in this area, I’ve developed a sixth sense.

The individuals that were successful enough to transition their childhood likes/wants/desires into their adulthood, prioritizing them, including them, and nurturing their inner child in that manner, tend to be the happiest. Especially the ones that were able to hold onto their inner child authenticity AND added on a few mature likes/wants/desires as well. But those are the cherries on top.

If you are in stark contrast to what you used to enjoy to what you enjoy now, it is time to evaluate.

The inner child is still there. Perhaps hidden behind the cares of the world, screen time, and easy fast-food entertainment, but still there, nevertheless. Eager to run around in nature, listen to music, draw, sing, paint, write, explore, express, be silly, be creative, be joyous, willing to connect, willing to try again and again. Fearless. Free. Fun.

If you don’t remember what it is like to be a child, look at the children around you.

If that is not an option, I triple dare you to take on the homework assignment I’ve given to my dear ladies: GO OUT THERE AND HAVE SOME FUN!!!

Remember the word FUN? Children place so much emphasis on that word. Why? Fun allows us to forget about rigidity and to live in the moment, flexible, feeling, free to explore facets of ourselves that can only bloom within that space of possibility.

For all the type A people, don’t overthink this. Smiling at yourself in the mirror can be a great start. Why? Because you may start laughing! You never know where a bit of laughter may take you. Dangerous! (Haha!)

Perhaps looking at yourself in the mirror is something we all must do. No judgement. Just love. Create a space of safety in which the child will be free to peek out, and then perhaps, emerge!

So what happened to your inner child? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps something. What I do know for a fact is that you’ve still got it. As long as you live and breathe…

 

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If I made you think just a little bit and you haven’t been put off by it, but in fact, liked it, please come back soon and check up on this series.

You just never know what is waiting for you on the other side of the Door of Possibilities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Basics: Your Home, A Safe Haven

We speak of refugees as if they are so far away, in a different land, somewhere exotic, with a plight that is uncommon, untouched by so many around us, far removed from our everyday reality. In fact, that is not true.

Many of our family and friends are floundering around, searching far and wide for refuge, a place where they may rest their souls and replenish their spirit. Wind down their bodies after a long day.

You may be wondering why I seem to be ignoring the obvious; where is their home? Why am I not mentioning their home? Don’t we all, for the most part, have a place we can call our own?

We don’t.

Let’s start at the beginning. Remember your childhood? I hope it was a good one, filled with memories you long to relive, with a warm home and parents, warmer still. As for me, I’d rather stay in the present.

When you got home from school, did you feel a sigh of relief as you crossed the threshold of your household? Did you think, great, now I can be me! This is a place where I am accepted and loved unconditionally. I don’t have to pretend. I don’t have to act. I don’t have to hide. I can simply, live… and thrive… Did you feel that fuzzy feeling? I hope you did. Most children don’t.

We are taught that we aren’t enough, that we must be someone else to be accepted and appreciated… to belong. We must be fast enough. Quick enough. Pretty enough. Compared to Billy next door and Susan on the other side of the street.

And off we go through life, lacking something, constantly searching and questing for that beautiful feeling of belonging. Discredited within our own authenticity.

How about now? As an adult, do you feel that your home is a place of rest, your day’s destination where you know you can completely let go and abandon yourself to yourself, knowing full well that you are accepted and allowed to be you?

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Writing in bed with my favorite water bottle, drinking hot, rose petal tea. 

If not, WHERE do you find your haven? Are you filling that longing with something else? Are you ignoring the fact that not all is well with your soul, that some things must be set right in your life?

And if you are a parent, WHAT are you doing to MAKE SURE that your children can be liberated from the constraints of the world when they are home? Is it a priority for you to make them the delight of your eye, no matter what? Do they feel wanted? Do they feel they belong?

Let’s not repeat the patterns of the past, veiled in drudgery and lack of understanding.

The human race has time and time again proved that we can survive anything, but must we? We can be strong and carry on and put up a brave face, but should we?

Why can’t we just allow ourselves to express this basic need to belong to someone that values us, where we can be safe to express ourselves, even our silliest, most stupid sides? Why don’t we reciprocate and do the same for the ones that are closest to us?

So often we hide from the ones we love. Fear is a mighty opposition. Fear of a broken heart, misunderstanding, being laughed at.

What are we doing today to make our dwellings, homes where mothers and fathers rest in each other’s embrace, whispering their dreams one to another, with children laughing and playing, chatting, expressing themselves, strengthening their voices, all in a safe space, cocooned within the freedom of love?

How do we protect the boundaries of our havens; places of heaven on Earth? What rules must be put in place to make sure that the world’s intrusions do not permeate your home?

Perhaps a cell phone rule may be a great way to start. Perhaps a ban on video games? Cut down on TV time? Coming home on time?

It is time to start interacting with your husbands, wives, children, pets. Time to cook up a storm. Plant a garden. Kick that dusty ball around. Dance within the halls of your home.

Life is beautiful, together. Life is meaningful, together. Life is filled with abundance that can fill many voids, if we are within a group where we belong.

I am not calling you to fit in within this group. NO. Belong. Stand out. Be truly you. The pretty and the ugly. All of that, held together with love in a place you call home. A place where your heart can rest and confide. Your body may sleep well. Your dreams are the treasured possessions within the walls. Your home, a mighty fortress against the world.

It isn’t hard to thrive in life when you have a place where you can seek shelter, replenish and restore.

Please, seek first to fix your foundations, and then, whatever you do, will be firmly rooted, not swept away by the sea of life.

I call upon the husbands and wives, parents, grandparents, in some cases, even children; the authorities of their respective households, to be LIGHTHOUSES for the ones around you, the ones that matter most. Do not allow them to be lost in the darkness of the void that will never be satisfied, a void created by the world to distract us from what really matters most; LOVE.

Love your homes, respect them and look after them, as a sign of love for the inhabitants.

In all things, do your best.

It is never too late to start a new day. Never too early to put in the effort.

If you want something extraordinary, don’t fool yourself into thinking that your ordinary effort will be enough. If you want something new, don’t keep doing the same old, same old way.

I pray that you may hear the call to do something a bit differently today… tomorrow.

Whatever your dreams may be… it is easier to get them done, where you belong; together.

Back to Basics: Good Food, a Lifestyle

Open up a magazine. Pick up a health book. Diet book. Watch a documentary. Everyone has an opinion of what is Good Food.

IMG_5117Whatever worked for some is now touted as the next best thing. A must do for you, too. Better jump on this quick or you are missing out on something that has the ability to transform your mind, body and life.

Couldn’t be further from the truth.

And so we keep jumping on the next craze and then the craze after that one… Our bodies crying out for a consistency or just some relative peace. They want us to feel comfortable within them just like we do. And yet, we listen to an external force, bathing in an external pool of knowledge, completely ignoring our own. Ignoring the voice inside us that knows exactly what is right for us.

Let’s go back to basics of how this relates to your life. To your health and mind’s wealth.

Whatever is good for me, is not necessarily the right choice for you. We are all made differently. With different likes and hormonal signatures. What leaves me full of energy may leave you heavy and depleted… or too light, without any staying power to keep you through the day.

It is easy to judge others based on the diet we are following at the moment. Self-righteousness is never pretty. And yet, somehow we seem to inundate our every sphere of existence with the same illness that plagues religion. Creating a barrier, a separating force between each other. Instead of coming together in love, a force of unity and empowernment, construction, not destruction.

Why not, instead, try something unusual in this day and age? Why not, every one of us, try a lifestyle of eating where we eat what’s good for US? For the individual, and feel great about it?

Many will be worried at this moment, frightened to be set afloat on this boundary-less journey, so let me devise some parameters for you.  We all know specific guideliness such as too much sugar is bad. Processed foods are not the prime choice. Chemicals in our food tend to affect our own body chemistry as well. Let’s not be a slave to those suckers.

Choose a set of truths you are comfortable with and go with that framework for now, feeling free to adjust them later.

We all know that butter came back as that wild card, having been renegaded to the terrorist of our health, now is fondly accepted as a comfort to our body, and a stabilizing rock, for some, to their mental health.

Just because someone said that it is bad, doesn’t mean it truly is. The only true constant in science, which they prove with a frantic consistency, is that science is never sure of anything. Every few minutes something is proved right and then, look around the corner, yep, disproved yet again. Crazy.

So what are you to do? Press into your body and mind. Get to know those very close companions of yours. Ask yourself before putting anything into your body, is this good for me? Will I feel strong, capable, healthy, empowered, creative, etc., after I consume this item? Will it add to my life or will it take it away?

For us Christians, it is easy. Time to make a close acquaintance with the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Inquire of the Spirit, and pray to God to know and learn what works for you and what would bring life and abundance to your personal experience. Soon enough, you will be best friends!

As for me, I am done with living a structured dietary life.

If I feel like skipping breakfast, I will.

If I feel like eating a smoothie for dinner, I will.

If I feel like fasting on water or juice, I will.

Who are you to judge me? Are you the authority on my life? Nope.

I have more wisdom in what’s right for me than any of the leading bodies of knowledge put together. I do learn from them and accept ideas that work for me, but I have the final say.

The problems that arise are caused by your own disconnect from who you are and what you need and then having the necessary follow-through. Don’t ever blame others. You are not a victim.

I will eat fruit and not be afraid of the sugar. I will eat carbs, but only the carbs that are good for me. I will enjoy fats, but only the fats that are friends, not foe. I will be disciplined, but on occassion, I will indulge with a full heart.

God loves the feasts, does He not? Who am I to say anything contrary to that great institution?

This is a brand new year for, perhaps, a brand new you, a brand new life. You have the power to be in control more than you will ever realize.

Take back your power. Take back your life.

 

Back to Basics: LOVE

Of all the needs that there are in this beautiful world, the most basic need is LOVE. I know that many will fight me on this one, citing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but I don’t care to adhere to the old when there is a need to create the new. A new perspective. A new classification. There is a new breed of people on the horizon. Change is coming. I can feel it.

Love moves us. Fuels us. Drives us. Love gives us life. You may have read the studies and experiments undertaken with infants, newborns, where they’ve come to the conclusion that a baby not only needs food, clothes and shelter, the greatest component of their thriving and holding onto life is love. Babies in orphanages have died from not being loved enough. Held enough. They were fed and diapered but left alone.

Be honest with yourself.

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My baby girl in my arms, sweetest feeling in the world

 

What motivated most of your actions in life? Was it love? The quest for love? The lack of it thereof?

You cannot thrive without love. At the very least, you must find ways to show love to your very own self. Parents, who should’ve included expressing love amidst their list of duty bound must-do’s, somewhere along with “feed you, clothe you, shelter you”, for many of us have failed to include that most beautiful familial ingredient. If they missed the mark, don’t procreate this misstep in your very own family. Even if that family is just a family of one: YOU.

Learn to love yourself. Fight for that right. Take small steps in the right direction.

But I am not here just to speak my mind about self-love. We all know, especially mothers, that living life is, at the core, an act of service. We serve many. May we do so with every bit of honor, nobility, respect and kindness that we employ within our arsenal of emotional achievements.

Every human being deserves LOVE. Every human being. Yes, I hate to admit it. Even the most vile as well. I am not sure I have grown to that level yet, but Jesus willing, I will be able to surpass this human weakness. I am not being esoteric. I am just calling you to step outside of yourself.

 

We need all the hands we can get on deck, people. This ship needs her crew. Your participation in the destiny of this planet cannot be  an occasional favor you bestow on holidays. It must be your lifestyle. A lifestyle of LOVE. Huge, Messy, Uncomfortable, Beautiful and Raw Love.

You get the picture.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving

November marks the hustle and bustle that will continue until the New Year, with Thanksgiving Day being the precursor to family dinners, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. From now until 2018, you will most likely be baking, cleaning, and prepping for company. I can safely say that most moms find the holidays to be overwhelming and some even meet these moments with anxiety and dread.

There are always those guests that will judge how clean your house is, how organized the dinner table is, down to how neatly the napkins are folded. You can never please everyone. So don’t fret, this holiday season should be about joy, fun, and quality time with your family and friends. And the sooner you can get a plan into action the better. This way you will have time to take a breather before the doorbell rings.

Steps to a Successful Thanksgiving Dinner:IMG_5163

1. Start with the entrance. Add a seasonal wreath or words of inspiration to your front door. It’s the first thing your family and friends will see upon arrival. They will realize that you mean business when it comes to Thanksgiving and having a good time!

2. Pick a theme. Once you’ve settled on a theme, not only will it be easier to write up the menu, but you will also know which direction to take with the decorations. Will it be a classy and elegant evening? Or will it be a kid friendly evening full of holiday cheer and decor? In other words, will you be bringing out the cornucopia and the Indian headdresses or candles and your finest china?

3. Arrange the table. Incorporating seasonal color into the napkins, the place mats, chair covers, and dinnerware is key. A break from the everyday colors is a welcome sight and brings a festive mood to the meal. Play around with various shades and hues of orange, red, brown, yellow, and green.

4. Set the mood with seasonal elements. There are flowers and plants that are particular to autumn, such as marigolds, dahlias, and chrysanthemums. Fill the vases with your favorite fall flower. Acorns, miniature pumpkins and ornamental Indian corn, along with autumnal foliage make great centerpieces as well as fantastic additions to table runners.

5. Engage the sense of smell. The best way is to have something yummy baking in the oven as the guests arrive. But if not, strategically placed candles or scent diffusers throughout the home can do the trick. Apple cider, pumpkin spice, or cranberries are just a few scent suggestions.

6. Dim the lights. Dimming the lights creates an ambience of greater intimacy and togetherness. If your lights do not have a dimming function, simply changing your light bulb to a lower wattage will work.

7. Make it cozy. With the cooler temperatures, if you have a fireplace, take advantage of the unifying element that it will bring into any room. Bring out the fluffy throws and plaid blankets! It will be a perfect place for guests to gather and socialize. Often times it is the great conversations we have that make the gathering more enjoyable and memorable.

I hope you have found this article both helpful and enjoyable. May you all have a fantastic time with your families and loved ones!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Capability In Movement Is A Choice

As mothers, parents, we are always moving. We sit, stand, walk, run (sprint?), lift, carry, etc., ALL DAY LONG. To say we are not physically active would be absurd, we are constantly active. This ebbs and flows with the season of life and age of our children, but in the baby/toddler years… it is definitely true. We are movers. As such, we often don’t 1) give ourselves credit for any activity or capability we have and focus instead on how we look or feel about ourselves, and 2) we often don’t pay attention to the incorrect or inefficient ways in which we move that may be leading to back pain/neck pain/shoulder tightness/hip discomfort/etc. For now I am going to skip over that first one, we will dig deeper into that in another post. Back to number 2, so you have mommy pains? Well, you did grow a baby with your body. Then you brought that baby into the world, in whatever fashion got you both safely to the other side. CONGRATS!!! If you don’t already view that as training for and competing in an IronMan Triathlon, consider this your permission to do so. Let NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE, attempt to tell you otherwise. Now, unless you did continue being very active and engaged with physical activity that promoted strength, stability, and (safe) mobility… you are probably experiencing some physical changes in capability and function. This is completely normal, it is your body’s new normal. It should not be viewed as a problem, but a lesson. Get to know this new magnificent body, embrace the strengths and weaknesses. See the capability that remains, and the possibility for what more can be achieved.

Ok, we have addressed the fact that things may be different for you physically, now how do we get you back to a place of physical capability that you WANT to be at? In the beginning days it’s not about that, sleep, eating, and bonding with baby are all you should be focused on. That beautiful, strong, soft and comfortable mommy body is exactly what that amazing baby of yours needs. Love it. Take care of it. Don’t diet, eat real foods. Don’t fret about numbers on a scale, go for relaxing walks with that new bundle and your spouse/family member/best friend. Pay attention to any little kinks that may arise. Get a massage, stretch, move. Explore any new movements you find yourself doing. Do you gaze lovingly down at that new little nursling while you feed him/her? Every parent does. Is your neck stiff? Try a few neck rotations, don’t stay in one position for too long, lean back in that recliner to allow you to look more to the side and less down. How is that back holding up from all that carrying? Do you have a carrier? If not, consider getting one that evenly distributes your child’s weight across your shoulders and back… we lived in an Ergo Sport (I am very short, it’s the only one that fit), and a ring sling. How about lifting? This one is tricky. When they are little we often scoop them up to bring them close. But as babies get bigger we tend to use our hands more. Do you lower your center of gravity and lift closer to you? Do you find yourself using your arms more than your legs? Do you already have “mommy thumb”? Do your hands and wrists ache/throb? The video (Mom Lifts) is an example of this movement, the right and wrong version. Watch how my wrist moves more when I stay upright, versus lowering my body and using my legs… those big, strong muscles we all have… to lift those heavier growing loads. Is lowering difficult because your hips are tight? Do you find yourself limited by lacking ankle mobility? These are all areas you can easily work on at home with just a few minutes a day of movement.

That’s it. Capability is a choice. Your choice. We all start with it, and we can choose to grow or remain stagnant. You already chose to grow in a big way, you chose to become a parent. Even if you did not physically grow your child, you grew your ability to love and care for another human. You sacrifice sleep and time to care for this little human. We make these choices every day. It is time we choose to grow our physical capability. It is time we choose to be healthy, to be active, to be ready for whatever those fast-moving children throw our ways. Because, I don’t know about you, but I hope to be chasing after my grandkids one day. I am willing to bet that you are too.

**Over the next few weeks I will begin posting clips of tips and movements to address other areas of movement often needing work. If you’re not sure you are getting them, or would like more direction, send me a message. **

Jessica Groves-Chapman

~ Superwoman-in-training

 

I AM Enough

I am enough as I prepare breakfast. I am enough when I walk down the street as my toddler pedals her tricycle. I am enough when I cannot finish my exercise video because my child woke up early from her nap, crying…21740253_10154882175241592_1576482248775389202_n

I am enough as I prepare lunch. I am enough as I do the cleaning.

I am enough when I read to my child a book or two or more or less… or play with her on the playground.

I am enough as I prepare dinner, put my child to bed and struggle to fit in a day of friendship with my husband in a few hours before we fall asleep, ready to repeat another day.

I am enough. In between the routine and priceless moments of my day, I carve out time for my dreams, minutes at a time, sometimes, if I’m lucky, an hour.

I AM Enough. I will not settle for less, if possible, will settle only for more. I am priceless just because I AM an expression of God, worthy of love and admiration.

Everything I do, I do with a spirit of excellence, and then I release the outcome.

I don’t need to struggle to prove to anyone how fabulous I am, that I am a great mother.

I am perfect in my child’s eyes, because I love her with all of my heart. I promise to try each day, for her, to be the mother she believes I am.

I am beautiful. I don’t need to prove that to my husband. 21730826_10154882175301592_3331134872047301379_nI am lovable, for my hands have touched every corner of my house and his life with affection, respect and admiration. I don’t need to be someone else as I open up, vulnerable, ready to give and receive and learn together.

WE are enough.

I don’t need to prove to my father or mother or sister or brother, neither friend nor foe or anyone in between, that I am worthy. I have no shame in sharing my essence for I am human, but I move closer and closer each day to Godliness because I accept myself and others for who they truly are: worthy and lovable, naturally and powerfully.

I don’t need to perform each day to fit in. I’d rather belong.

I’d rather belong to someone or a group that will accept me for who I am. I don’t need to hide.21764934_10154882175276592_2041052553088426751_n.jpg

I am healed in the truth of love and acceptance, as I give love and acceptance to others.

Every mama out there, you are already a queen, a warrior…

I look at all the women and think, “ Where did we miss the mark? Where and why did we forget about who we truly are? Why are we withholding love from ourselves?”

By withholding love from ourselves, we cannot help but withhold love from others.

Love will set us free. Love will redeem us, heal us and set us apart and up above.

So I chose to LOVE myself and YOU, because I AM Enough.

I do this easily because I don’t have to compete, hide or hurt because I am different.

I celebrate myself and in this way, I can celebrate YOU!

Everything we do, let’s do it well. Don’t compare yourself to others. Leave the outcome to God.

Surrender yourself to peace.

WE are ENOUGH.

 

~Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence

An Everyday Mama Who Found a Passionate Life