10 March 2015

No Time, Worn Out, Feeling Stuck


I'm writing today for the mothers and fathers who have young children and are completely worn out. The husbands and wives who work until late at night and have no time for each other. The families who are at their wits end with trying to keep everything together.

My heart goes out to you greatly.

I was having a conversation with my dear sister in Brooklyn (she sometimes feels in that category with three young children) and I just wanted to share something we talked about which seemed to resonate with her.

I told her that in a circumstance or lifestyle that is not ideal, you really only have two options that can help to relieve you:

1. You can learn to ACCEPT your circumstance as it is. 

This takes a ton, a TON of internal work. It may even turn into your life's work. Because acceptance is real only if you really are able to feel peace in the moment. It's only real if you no longer feel a horrible resistance or resentment towards your situation. It's only real if your situation no longer nags at you every moment of the day. Acceptance is real when you can say - I know this situation is not changing anytime soon - or ever - and I will choose to react to this in a better way. I will choose to make the most of what I've got. I will use my limited energy to find ways to have gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, or love instead of resisting what is happening.

Being able to do this is one of the most powerful things I know of. Once I started actively trying to accept my life - that's when things changed. I've actively worked to accept over a decade of infertility, the end of a marriage, and many other losses on many levels. Recently I was working on accepting the circumstances I shared about our blog. I feel so confident that if you can come to a place of acceptance for things you cannot change, you can be FREE of the chronic pain, the stings in your heart, and the feelings of despair.

There is another option, in some cases. You can...

2. CHANGE your circumstance. 
To really change things, it may take a LOT of time. Sometimes you don't even know how to change things and you feel stuck, so you have to get crazy creative to find a solution. And almost always, any change requires HUGE sacrifices because to meet one priority, you often have to sacrifice another super duper important priority! Ah, it can be so hard! We're talking stuff like taking a leap of faith. Deciding you will move forward with or possibly end a relationship. Choosing a different job/career or simply trying hard to find a career, period. Saying no (or yes) to commitments huge and small. Moving to a different city or country. Possibly downgrading or upgrading your house or car. Getting a nanny. Or letting your nanny go. Postponing or quickening your schooling or your career. Moving closer to or away from family. Hiring a housekeeper. Starting a baby-sitting coop. Canceling classes or activities - or signing up for a class. Having a family member or intern or student move in with you temporarily. Working from home or getting a work space. It is seriously nuts trying to figure this all out and make life improvements! Especially because we usually want it all fixed NOWAnd well, that takes us back to acceptance. If we can tap into acceptance while our changes are in motion, life can be better than ever.  :)

If you'd like to share, are you currently working on either accepting a circumstance or changing a circumstance? It's always uniting to hear what people are going through. Somehow there is a beautiful sisterhood (& brotherhood) present when you know you're not alone. 

P.S. After reading this post, Danny said it reminded him of the beautiful Serenity Prayer that is used in AA meetings. It truly would seem that a great portion of life is about drifting between these two options, and learning when to favor one or the other.  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

-----

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24 comments:

  1. I'm trying to change a number of circumstances right now and finding peace and acceptance is hard. I love this reminder and the prayer at the end. I feel like I'm often torn between accepting and working hard to see change. It's hard to know what's right. I'm looking for opportunities that will allow change but when those opportunities take their sweet time, do I move on? Do I accept that it won't happen or is that a lack of faith? Any advice? My current desire is to secure work from home so that I can continue to be home with my daughter while still meeting financial obligations. I'm working hard and applying and searching for opportunities and at times I feel peace that SOMETHING will come, but to not know for sure definitely creates that resistance you mentioned.

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    1. Oh, Sharlee - the wait is so hard. I know that resistance so well - the anxiousness - feeling like you don't yet know what the future will be, yet wanting things to improve or to become clear. I would say to not give up! A little tip: Work on defining more clearly what it is that you want specifically. Instead of thinking in general terms like, "I'd love to work from home" - think of your deepest desires and dreams and passions as a person. If you could share your deepest gifts and passions with the world, what would you do if there were no obstacles. Think of the thing that would bring the GREATEST joy and meaning to your life and therefore to other's lives. If you could serve the world in a way that would truly be meaningful to you in every way - what would that be? Then - let THAT be your focus instead of just thinking of a way to make end's meet. I think when we get in tune with the flow of our own true nature -and our deepest desires - that is when opportunities tend to come. Because we are fully of excitement and passion. The energy is different. And that is exuded to and felt by others. And we notice more opportunities than we would have otherwise. And things begin to happen! Sometimes getting this clarity for ourselves takes time! We often have to dig DEEP and give up other "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" and "I could never do that" and "people will think I'm dumb" and "I have nothing to offer the world" and "I'm too scared to take a leap" and "There is no way I could do this" etc. There is a LOT to overcome in order to say THIS - THIS is what I truly want and I'm going to claim it and go for it. But once we get there, the magic starts to happen. Also, Danny and I took Marie Forleo's B-School this last year and I cannot recommend it enough for someone wanting to work from home. It's for people wanting to have an online business. She only does B-School once a year and it just started this week. So in the meantime, go to her website and watch her weekly MarieTV. REALLY great inspiration for starting a business and tapping into your goals and dreams. Hang in there! Keep going! And know that once you get clear on things, they WILL happen whether it is sooner or later. XOXO

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  2. My oldest daughter is 5 years old, and I have spent her whole life miserable because I have to be a working mom. My husband's income isn't reliable, and mine is. So I work all day, come home and do what I really love: tend to my family & home. I have spent these last years envious of every stay at home mom friend, belittling their stresses compared to my own, and believing I knew better than God what my life should look like. Last month at church my pastor explained that the thing about envious people is they don't just want what you have, they want you to feel guilty for having it. Furthermore they think they know better than God what is right for them. It was like the hand of God poked me in the chest. I never realized how I wanted my SAHM friends to feel guilty, how bitter I made myself sound and look and how foolish I'd acted for so long. I suddenly saw how grateful I should be and have since become. Grateful for a job which allows me to have holidays and summer with my daughters, grateful for the steady income, grateful for the opportunity to help the lives of people beyond just my family. I accepted that God has me teaching Home Economics to express the homemaking skills I possess, but be paid to do it. And though I miss my girls all day, my parents & MIL care for them when I'm at work and I know they make priceless memories together. I've accepted God knew best, and I am grateful for the blessings He gives me each day.

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    1. Sonia. This is incredible! I love, love, love hearing stories like this. It's amazing how much just a small change in perspective can affect our LIFE. Beautiful. Much love, M

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  3. Brilliant! So inspirational too...

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  4. Mara, thank you, this post really resonated with me. I got divorced several years ago (not entirely my choice) and I realized that so much of the pain I was feeling was because I was resisting the change. Because I couldn't change someone else's mind, my only choice was to accept his decision. Once I began to focus solely on my new future, and not what could have been done or said or changed, my healing truly began. Sometimes our only choice is to fully accept our circumstances, and allow ourselves to be at peace despite them. Thank you again for such a great post.

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    1. This comment made me take a deep breath. I know that feeling. wow. And I LOVE what you shared about acceptance - and how that is when things began to change. So incredible.

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  5. Oh Mara, you just reached out and hugged my heart today. Thank you. I needed this. My husband and I are just at that breaking point, something has to give or change, and we are trying to figure that out, while keeping our heads above water. I have a few minutes before I need to go to work and I thought, I need some inspiration, and I thought of your blog--and here you are speaking to exactly what I'm going through. Thank you for being so in tune. Both of these options are HARD. I think what I'm dealing with right now is just mustering up the courage to attempt either. But at my core is a sense of hope. Somehow, somehow, it will all work out.
    xo, Zina

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    1. OK, friend, ALL THE BEST. If it helps - remember that we're all in this life together. My guess is just about everyone is working on something huge. Remember that as we carry forward, things to DO pass, things DO get worked out, things DO become clear, things DO get better. Trust that. XO

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  6. Thank you, Mara (and Danny); I so needed to hear your message of acceptance today. I am fighting such resentment & resistance that my body is revolting against me. I'm not sure how to accept my circumstances, and it makes me so angry to try, but I am trying.

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    1. Oh, dear Emily. I think just writing what you did is HUGE. Just even knowing that you are resisting something is seriously the first step to making a change. And holy smokes, even when you are totally aware that you are resisting, it can still be soooo SO SO hard to move on from it and to make peace with it. But the minute we decide to go to the other side, things can change very quickly actually. Hang in there. And continue listening to your body! Our bodies are our most valued teachers. They will quickly tell us if something isn't right and if we need to work on something internally. Much love, M

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    2. Hi Emily. You are amazing for trying. I hope you're also finding the space to take a break from trying and just be. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break, a real compassionate break, if only to recharge and get back to the hard personal work. I don't know if this is helpful, but I thought of this. Tomorrow I'm starting a mindfulness-based stress reduction course, and while I'm skeptical that this will get me closer to where I want to be, I'm open to it.

      I started doing this kind of meditation a few months ago, for only fifteen minutes a day, and even that little effort helps me, physically, mentally, emotionally. There's a lot of resources online for learning to work with or through personal challenges, be it accepting or changing things. Here's the one I'm talking about: http://www.mindfulnesscds.com/

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    3. Sandra - thank you so much for sharing this info about mindfulness and meditation. This is such a worthwhile thing to think about and incorporate. Thank you for sending this reminder to us all - as it's so hard to fit these practices into the day!

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  7. Oh gosh, this has been my life motto the last couple years. When my daughter was born, I was blown away by how hard it was to become a SAHM. I thought it would come naturally, and it didn't! I was so depressed for years and I felt like I needed things to change, but I had no. idea. how. I think I waited for a miracle for a long time, and then I just started working, because honestly, it was killing me. I felt so dead inside. It was my final, desperate option to fight for change.
    I learned to accept that I did not want to be a full-time SAHM. That was so difficult for me because of cultural conditioning. But I went out on a limb and applied to grad school so I could become a teacher. That was HUGE for me. And while I was applying, I took one class at the community college. It was so scary starting grad school-- I had no idea how I was going to figure it all out. Childcare, homework, housework, other relationships, etc. Somehow I'm making it work!
    The other thing I learned was that I wasn't taking care of myself. I started carving time out just for me. This is something you guys talk so much about! I worked harder to spend time with friends (and no kids). I gave myself permission to leave my kids with my husband, friends, or babysitters more often even so I could just go to Target alone. And returning to school has been a huge way for me to nurture my soul and mind.
    I am working on acceptance every day still. I feel a lot of guilt for actively pursuing a full-time career. But I try to accept that I am different from most of the women I know and grew up around, and it's ok. And I also have to accept that, being in grad school, having little kids, and some other more personal issues with my husband, my life is absolute chaos. I have to accept that I am slowly working through things and that change is slow and difficult-- often hard to see.

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  8. My husband and I recently took a little road trip and during a rare and quiet hour in our car when all 3 kids slept, we talked about this exact thing. I expressed my feelings of frustrstion at my inability to act in my life rather than just be acted upon. Being a SAHM with 3 young kids and another on the way is beginning to feel more overwhelming then i care to admit. Like literally some days I feel like I'm drowning and instead of thriving in life I'm just trying to survive it. I don't want to feel this way and it makes me feel guilty to have feelings of lost identity because of my kids. I always thought I would adore being a mom to lots of kids, and I've found it to be far from that most days (how aweful and selfish that sounds). I find moments when I'm inspired to change or to learn acceptance, but I've never actually been able to put that into action. I don't know if it is pure laziness from my already exhausted self or if I simply can't find the steps or tools to actually start to change. Im blessed to have an extremely caring and optimistic husband who really listens to me and helps to balance out my short comings. But I realize I need to do the work for myself, I just honestly don't know how when I'm already overwhelmed with just the day to day needs of my family.

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    1. Meagan, I just want you to know you're not alone. I'm a mother of 3 small kids and I've been experiencing depression off and on for the last 2 1/2 years. Even when I'm not feeling particularly depressed, I still get completely overwhelmed and exhausted. "Over worked and under paid" is what I tell my husband. My husband is wonderful. My kids are great. It's just extremely demanding work to stay home with your kids every single day and never do anything else. I've felt a loss of identity, too.

      I don't have the perfect solution, but I can tell you some things that have helped me. I have a "Mom's night off" once a week where I leave my kids with my husband and I do whatever renews me. I've started to take better care of my body (so hard with little kids, but worth it!) so that I can feel like it's at the top of it's game to complete the work I do each day. And I let myself dream for the future and take hold of the decisions I CAN make. Like how many kids to have, when to have them, and what I might pursue when they are all in school.

      I feel you!

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    2. Both these comments are great, and really underscore just how difficult it can be to do when we are in the thick of it all.

      Since we don't have kids, my mind goes to the similar but opposite circumstance - the fact that not having kids and all the energy you can put into trying to have kids can just as easily leave you exhausted, depressed, discouraged, etc.

      I find that though difficult circumstances are as different and varying as their are people, the tools to approach them and find peace are often always the same.

      The place to start, in my opinion, is Identity. It is needed for the individual who laments a "lost identity" because of the overwhelming aspect of kids. It is needed for the former professional who now chooses to stay at home to care for kids and has a "lost identity" related to work. It is needed for the infertile couple who have a "lost identity" of parent.

      I'd write it out more carefully here, but since Mara wrote about it recently I'll just link to it - http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/2015/02/tapping-into-your-truest-identity.html

      In other posts Mara has written about how powerful it was to release an identity that was incapable of being fulfilled (one that was based on external factors), and embrace an identity that could be intact and pursued no matter what was going on. The identity she pursued was becoming a woman full of love and connected to God. This was something that could be pursued in any circumstance, and in response to any person.

      We all need to take a good look at the things we seek validation from (our identities). Whether it is the ability to be a parent, or if you are one, to be a good parent...whether it is to have a career and make money, or to be recognized or valued by your spouse, kids, parents, colleagues, friends, etc.....it all comes down seeking validation from the outside-in. It all comes down to identity. Most of our identities are built of sand, they get washed away by the rising and falling tides of life.

      Each of us needs to figure out how to tap into something more solid, stable, secure. Something that is not effected by changing circumstance and behaviors.

      I realize this is all theory until it is experienced. And I admit that while in some areas of my life it is now easy to not base my worth on these external things, there are other areas where I just haven't grown enough to be able to consistently apply the same tools that worked in the other areas.

      But the tools do work, every time I apply them. It always begins with Identity, with understanding what external aspect was I looking to get wholeness from that was never capable of giving it to me. In what ways was I looking for fulfillment from the outside-in? And how can I return to cultivating worth from the inside-out.

      It can be very hard work, especially when the identity is such a crucial part of life. It was hard work when my first wife left after confessing infidelity. But the work was worth it. It taught me how to move from theory and belief into experience and reality.

      I do hope that you both, and anyone else out there, figure out how to do that. Start with Identity, and go from there.

      Good luck!

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    3. Thank you both Jodi and Danny. It is definitely a comfort to be reminded that everyone feels these feelings sometimes. That's one of the big struggles for me is the feeling of guilt that I'm the only person who struggles doing the thing I most looked forward to doing in my life. Start with identity! Thank you Mara and Danny for your inspiring posts!

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    4. Meagan, thanks for sharing this. I think as mothers we are sometimes given the message that we have to feel amazing about our role as a mother and our children at all times and then, because that's just not realistic, we feel shame when we don't feel amazing and instead feel overwhelmed and frustrated and tired. So I think its so powerful for moms to read things like your comment because we can all relate. One thing that has helped me tremendously is to recognize that when I feel overwhelmed with my stay at home mom life with my 4 kids that I am feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with the situation not my children. Doesn't mean I don't love them or want them in my life (although sometimes I do joke about selling them on Craigslist) it just means that the circumstances are really, really hard sometimes. Thinking of it that way has helped me put aside those feeling of guilt and thinking maybe I'm not a good mom because this feels so hard.

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  9. As it so often happens with this blog, this post is so well timed to something currently going on with my life! Amazing how that works. I'm currently struggling with making the decision between accepting a relationship with a man I love very much and whom I thought I would spend the rest of my life with (and after dating and having different relationships for the past 17 years, this is not a decision I came to lightly) or choosing to change my circumstance and end the relationship and say goodbye to someone I love very much.

    I'm having a hard time understanding the line between what is OK to accept and/or work to accept and what is NOT OK to accept and/or work to accept. I don't want my boundaries and standards to be blinded by love but I also don't feel ready to walk away, but truthfully, am unsure if I will ever "feel ready" to walk away.

    Something Danny said above in the comments really resonated with me - there are certain things/circumstances I am quite able to implement the principles and strategies I've read about here and there are certain things/circumstances I have not been able to implement them in, and love and/or matters of the heart is the one place I struggle the very most. I suppose there is comfort in knowing that others struggle with it to, even though I wouldn't wish this type of struggle on anyone!

    Thank you so much for what you do - you both inspire me to always always try to do better. With so much gratitude - Sarah

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      I am going through the exact same situation (5 years in) - I'm also not certain where to accept and not accept and implementing this in certain areas and not others.

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    2. Hi Aubrey!

      It's a difficult thing isn't it? Deciding where that line lies. Part of me thinks the struggle will last forever. And part of me thinks the more I try and implement these strategies in my life, the clearer the line will be become (even in the most difficult areas for me, surrounding matters of love/romance/) I wish you the best!

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  10. I too feel too busy with four kids (ages 1-14) to even think about what it is I want or where I'm going. Busy all day with a toddler and busy until my bedtime with older kids who stay up late.... I'm choosing to accept my circumstances - I signed up for this marathon on a treadmill and I'm not giving up.

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    1. Jessica, you inspire me!!! I think every single person reading (myself included) is trying to do something huge - whatever it is in our own lives. We can't give up! Thank you for that reminder!!

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