This morning I did not wake up my best self. I was sluggish and slow, riddled with impatience and frustration. Audrey too was having a particularly challenging morning, waking up super early and bouncing around on the ever changing emotions that come with being two. Needless to say, neither of us were really handling it all that well, and neither of us were getting what we needed.
There are two parts to what happened next. Number one, my beautifully insightful husband recognized this, I'm fairly certain, well before I did. He generously offered to take Audrey and go on an adventure into the city with her today so that I could have space. If you have ever taken a toddler, on a 45 minute subway ride, into the hustle and bustle of New York City, then you know that truly, generous, is the right word. I resisted him at first. I came up with all the reasons why it wasn't necessary, the first one being the infamous "I'm fine" proclamation. How did it come to be that just being fine , by the way, is the acceptable standard? I then hopped onto the mama guilt train and let myself ride into the place of counting all of the minutes I will not be with her moving forward this week, creating so much anxiety around the idea that if I miss out on the next four hours, I will be failing as her mama since I should be soaking up every last minute that I am able to be with her. This is a new one for me, as I just began working again and am no longer around for every single waking (and non waking) moment of my daughter's life. I love being back in the action of fulfilling my personal mission and work, but I am also still very much finding that balance of fulfilling my desire to be "mostly home" with my child while she is still so young.
The truth is, I knew that if I was given this time and space, I was going to have to do something with it. I was going to have to get my shit together and recalibrate. I knew that I would have no excuse not to meditate, or practice or write. I was resisting being with myself because I knew that I had some work to do. Now I know that this is not a serious struggle that I am talking about here. I know so many people would jump at the chance to have this time available in their day, even for just one day. Let me check my privilege in this moment and fully own up to that. However, whether you work forty-hours a week have eight children and very little time for yourself, I'm fairly certain that in some way, somehow you are still giving up even the tiniest of space in your life that could be just for you, to settle for "just being fine". For me, the biggest recognition here is that not only was I resisting taking some time and space for myself, but I was actively holding on to my poor mood and attitude because I simply didn't want to let it go. Not only that, but I was doing so at the expense of my family and the time we were already sharing together. Thankfully I have learned that Carl Jung was right when he said what we resist, persists and that is the second part, I took my space.
I didn't know if I needed a nap or a mediation so I did both in the form of yoga nidra. I opened up my journal afterwards and began to write, and now here I am adding this new post. In a few moments I am going to go treat myself to lunch, catch up on some work for my mentorship program, get on my yoga mat and then head into the city to teach my classes this evening. Washed away is the mama guilt and the bar being set at "fine" for how I move forward in this day. I didn't just give up the resistance, I gave myself over to it and found resolve. Thinking back to this morning and to my daughter, I realize that its not just two year olds who struggle with bouncing around on ever changing emotional currants. It just begins at that age. If I am ever going to be able to help her navigate those moments in her life, I first have to be able and willing to do it for myself. Although, thats the other thing about two year olds, they seem hell bent on getting exactly what they need, when they need it no matter what...
I have left New York City three different times. The first time, I was fighting it thinking that I might actually fall off the edge of the earth by doing so. The second time I thought it was for good. I cried and cried and cried as I walked down Central Park West thinking that the next time I was there I would be "just a tourist". The third time was a complete unknown. At that point I had experienced the first two and knew enough not to commit in any direction since life is just funny like that. I was also seven months pregnant and knew that by the time we had to make the choice, life was already going to look and feel very different.
There were so many times while we were on the road that the thought of coming back to New York was out of the question. We were experiencing so many new places and cities and with each one I looked at it from the perspective of whether or not I could live there. I also had a serious flirtation turned love affair once again with California. I love California. The entire state, which I know is sacrilegious because either you love So Cal or Nor Cal but definitely not both if you're a real Californian. I love both, so I am not. I did spend countless hours however imagining what life would be like if we moved there, hiking the mountains, standing on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and living our best carefree, yoga-centered, politically liberal California life. I haven't fully ruled that life out by the way. There is still a part of me that deeply longs to spend large amounts of time there (universe are you listening?), but we knew that it wasn't the right time right now. The reason that I kept telling myself that New York was the least desirable, was because I know how hard it can be to live here. I know that New York requires a very certain energy just to maintain. I know that it asks a lot of its inhabitants and requires serious compromise when it comes to living both in the how and where. If you want to be close and have a short commute you pay more for less space. If you want have space you sacrifice more time spent getting going to and from home. Its expensive and smelly and noisy and you share your space with everyone including the walls, floors and ceilings of your apartment. And yet...
My husband and I have been together for what is almost sixteen years now. We basically met when we were children, seriously we were both still teenagers. I could go on and on about the ins and outs, ups and downs of our relationship and why we have been able to stay together for so long. In a way, none of those details matter. What I continue to realize through the ever changing and evolving course of our relationship and marriage is that we continue to choose each other and commit over and over again to each other, as the people we are now not who we were back when. Since we have known each other for almost half of our lifetimes, we have been witness to each other's evolution into our own "humanhood". I can say with certainty that the person I knew so well and intimately ten years ago, is not exactly the same as the one I wake up to now. I'm also certain he would say the same thing about me. There are qualities that still exist, will always exist and are a huge reason why I love him. They are at the foundation of who we are and always will be. What is the most appealing to me is that while knowing that those qualities I love continue to exist there is a constant discovery of all the ways he puts those characteristics to use. With every new moment, new milestone, new challenge and difficulty that arises for us both personally, professionally, individually and as a family, we watch as the other makes choices. We then choose how we either compliment that choice (and sometimes not) with our own choices, but at the end of the day, we re-commit to making it all work in the very best ways that we know how and to thrive and shine together.
I know that the metaphor of comparing New York City to a relationship with another person has been done time and time again. I know its been a very long time since I have dated a person other than my husband. The other day I was thinking about how for this to hold true, that means that these past two years I have spent my time, energy and efforts serial dating. Every week there has been a new city, new experiences, new offerings and new energy. Often times there was a real connection and had time allowed we could have seen where things led. There were also a few occasions where it was very apparent this was going no where and lets just smile and nod to get through our time together. In a way, this way of living was so easy. The beginning of any relationship is filled with excitement at just the mere prospect of possibility. The hard part is when all of that wears off and you are left with the raw reality of those qualities that lie beneath the surface. Thats when you choose to commit or get out. That's where the real work happens.
If I'm going to hold true to this metaphor a bit longer (bear with me) New York and I have a long term on again off again relationship. I look at what is required to make it work and I take a big deep breath, knowing full well I have to put in the time and effort that is required. I also know though that once I show up in that way, ready to work and to focus while equally ready to just be in the process, I get a huge return. And thankfully, just like my relationship, New York is so incredibly forgiving and unconditional. When I have needed the space to take time to grow, it says go. And when I'm ready to return to it with a better understanding of myself it welcomes me back without question or thought. I like to believe that it too grows with me. Just like the incredible human being whom I have chosen to spend my life with has.
I think that we either choose to use the pieces of our life, people, and circumstances to either teach us or overtake us. To empower us or victimize us. Here I am three weeks in to my third return to the city I love to love, and often times struggle with. I have full knowledge of how hard it is to make life work here, and yet I choose to recommit to this beautiful old place in new ways. I have a feeling, big things are in store...
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.