Category: Identity

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Oh hello there again, Shit I don’t want to deal with
How’d you find me?
I’ve been hiding from you
Secretly.

I don’t have time for this
It’s early and there’s so much to do
I turn my head and feel a ping of realization
I have it all backwards here

Those things I have to do
Are not my lessons
They are the distraction
From the work

Right here, in the messy fears and tears of those plugged into me
Is the “to do”
The entire freaking list
Is screaming at me
They need me

I breathe and switch gears
How could I have nearly missed this chance again
The chance to show up
The opportunity to change the day

These are the moments I prepare so attentively for
Through mantras and silence and yoga
And they come and then I trip, with disappointment in my heart
But not this time

It wasn’t perfect
But I tried
Grateful for the opportunity
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little bit stronger

 

 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

A September Like No Other

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A September Like No Other

Holy smokes, what an emotional roller coaster.
Just left Meadow’s preschool meeting – she starts tomorrow.
Don’t be alarmed if she doesn’t speak to you, I say.
Last week my little man marched off to kindergarten.
The excitement, the fears, the new world opens; it suddenly appears.

Time has switched all up on me.
No morning quiet, where is my meditation?
Packing lunch, walking to the bus, breakfast chats.
Days are choppy, different, busy, slow, busy, slow.
I hurry then wait, then hurry, then I wait.

I love preparing the lunch containers, the meals.
I love after school chats and getting the scoop on all that went down that day.
There’s so much joy to be found in the small things like these.

I see the road next to school and as I drive along I realize this: for the next eight years I will be parking, waiting and looping around there for the elementary school pickup.
And I love it. This job of being the mom, the container to both hold it all and serve as a launch pad is again a paradox.
The beauty and the letting go all tangled up.
They are ours but not to keep, just to snuggle & let soar.

Happy September,

xo, Marjorie Sarah

 

 

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

The Woman I Hope To Be

Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

The Woman I Hope To Be

Listening to a snippet of something on NPR yesterday, I heard someone speak of the experience of your older self visiting you. “Wow,” I thought. I know exactly when that has happened to me – both times – yet I never had those words to succinctly describe the experience to myself.

Every day I wake, I have the option to choose my actions, choose my words, choose the food and the information I nourish myself (or deplete myself) with. Each day I can decide – what’s it gonna be today? Do I have the courage, the wisdom, the determination to fuel up or will I choose some form of food disguised as nourishment and some gossip disguised as conversation? The answer varies.

When I see women in their 60s, 70s & 80s who have beautiful gray hair, their eyes have evidence of frequent daily smiles and their yoga clothes tell the story of their lifetime dedication to their practice, I see who I hope to be.

The women who fondly smile at my children and next at me as they gently tell me how it felt like only yesterday that they were where I now find myself. The women who have made decades of wise food choices and have eliminated toxic self-talk and spent time attentively nurturing relationships they value most – these women are who I strive to be.

Not too long ago, it may have seemed more likely that I’d grow up to be more like the Long Island Medium* than a natural loving soapmaker.

I am neither, yet I will always be both. Labels can be limiting because we are all the sum of so many pieces of ourselves.

The future selves that have payed me visits and shared stories of life, love and loss left me feeling aware that no label or outward symbol, whether it be eyeliner or an organic cotton tee from Whole Foods, really matter in crafting how important the inner landscape of love is in defining your life as the woman you were, are and hope to be.

xo,
Marjorie Sarah

*The amount of hairspray and makeup I used to use is alarming. Thankfully, that has ended. CVS & Sephora surely suffered losses for many consecutive quarters. I hope they are doing well again.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Now What? On Choosing Authentic Self-Expression

Identity Inspiration

Now What? On Choosing Authentic Self-Expression

I remember vividly the emotions I felt in the wake of graduating from college. I used to dutifully do my work to come home often feeling totally empty. I was on the edge of my seat wondering when the awesome feeling of “I did it, I’m HERE, WORLD!” would hit me. Sometimes I waited for this feeling on my porch drinking beer. Or I waited for it while I watched Lost. I waited for it while I bounced around like a ping pong ball doing all the things that everyone asked me to do – the things I thought I should be doing.

The more I read peoples stories, have conversations and just look around, I see that many of us share this feeling of now what? at some point in life. For some, it permeates our whole life. For others it seems to come and go.

For me, the shift came with the transition to parenthood while finding my voice through therapy concurrently. I became aware of how automated most of my decisions had been up to that point in my life and my awareness grew as I learned to follow my curiosity in every aspect of life.

Authentic self-expression can help us make choices again and again that are in alignment with our top strengths. And that is what I understand the core of Positive Psychology to be.

You can take the character survey here for free to help you identify your top 5 strengths. Once you have them, use that information to generate opportunities for exercising those strengths daily as a foundation to leading an authentic life – one that is true to you and not the automated shuffle of everyone else that we can easily get stuck in like ants in honey.

For more on this, here’s a brief article on fostering authentic self-expression as a parent, teacher or supportive human.

My top 5 Strengths from the survey are: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Love of Learning, Love, Humor & Curiosity.

Go get yours! And let them make you smile and look inside of yourself. Share yours if you feel inclined. If not, you might record them in a notebook and ponder ways to cultivate activities that are in alignment with them.

Be well,

Marjorie

 

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

A Game Changer

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A Game Changer

Every once in a while, you meet someone or read something that touches you so deeply that it literally changes your life.

In the summer of 2012, when I was only a mother for about 6 months, I was walking through Suburban Station in Philadelphia as I had every day for years. Breastpump and work bag in hand, I hurried to my platform but out of the corner of my eye a magazine cover pulled me immediately towards it. The cover is the one you see above. You may have seen it, read it or read about it. It started a large conversation.

Written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a top woman in government at that time, this op-ed article shook me to the core – in a good way. Her main message was that the infrastructure of “work” in America is incompatible at times with a woman’s need/desire/want to be available to her family while still maintaining a serious and escalating career.

Anne-Marie found that by the time her sons were in their teen years, she needed to be with them more and stepped down from a major career role to switch gears back to academia to be more available and closer to home. She lived in Princeton, but only on the weekends. At that time, Slaughter was commuting to Washington, D.C. Monday through Friday and was with her family on the weekends only.

Okay, so that is completely unlike most of our lives, I know. Her message wasn’t even to leave the workforce altogether and be with you children, but somehow that planted the seed for me that it was OK for me to do so. And that has become one of the most OK moves I’ve ever made.

Shocked by the desire to be a stay at home parent, I literally didn’t recognize the emotion at first. The incessant pull to move away from a career that I had been working towards and in the direction of my life at home felt alien to me. A life of singing and dancing, pajamas and walks in the park. Literally. Let’s remember this was a day when I had one child and I was so elated to be home that every single day felt like vacation. Like all honeymoons, that wore off, and I write about that love its evolution here and here. Nonetheless, I still love my life at home parenting with all the new challenges it presents to me each season.

So when I saw this smart, career driven woman identify a flaw in the system and see that it is literally at odds (yet possible) to have a career and a growing family, I felt connected to her. Even though our lives could not be more different, even though she was not telling me to go and be with my family and throw my career to the wind. I saw a deeper message in her story which was one I’ve chosen to live by – you have to follow your heart and do what feels right for your family and your inner compass.

I’d like to clarify that I see having a career and a growing family as an amazing choice for many women, just that it was not for me when my children were babies. I could not handle the mental challenge, the constant switching of roles between work and home. I felt constantly interrupted and that broke me down. I literally fell apart inside. I was physically ill all the time. I also still feel like a piece of me is a failure because of this. Why couldn’t I just make it work like so many others? Why couldn’t I hold it together?

I admire the women that can handle the juggle and I know that is a weakness of mine. But I’ve chosen to turn it into a strength by making my life at home as rich and fulfilling as I choose. And now that my kids are growing and they are both older than 3, I’m starting to feel the pull to be away a bit more. So I’m turning towards developing a work life that makes me feel alive and lets me create. Creative small business is where I’ve found a new home in the work world and although it’s light years different than a political career in Washington, D.C., the work makes me come alive.

Were it not for Slaughter and this piece, I’m not sure I’d have come to the realization that it was time for me to leave the paid workforce for some years, find my center at home, refuel and move on in the new direction I find myself.

Grad School Dropout

Community Creating Creative Small Business Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration

Grad School Dropout

When I worked in Membership Services for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, I was surprised by the part of that role that I found to be the most interesting, which was interacting with the small business owners. I think about it and didn’t realize that I was so attracted to their work and their stories because they were small business owners.

The thing about meeting an entrepreneur that is absolutely my favorite is learning the story behind what they are doing. A real and interesting story that someone can share with me. Those conversations are so juicy. When I worked in the Membership Services role, I met with owners and creators of all sorts – restaurants, tour companies, event planners and shop owners. It was the couple that started their unique walking tour, City Food Tours, that made me smile with their passion and excitement when they talked about what they were up to. Or the college kids that started a free Philadelphia walking tour because they just loved it. I remember meeting owners in their welcoming tiny restaurants sitting and asking each of them the story of how it all began. That’s all I was ever interested in…how’d you birth this idea and give it life? What was your motivation? How is it going?

Those are my favorite memories of a career path that is now far in my rear view. I even remember writing my “Tourism” college papers on peoples’ motivation to travel. I always want to know the story.

So as I continue to grow a small business while nurturing a growing family, I think back to all those stories that I’ve collected and learn so much from them. Johnathan Fields likened being an entrepreneur to a spiritual journey and it resonated with me because all that is unnecessary must fall away to create space for what needs to grow in both business and life. They both feel like solo trips, where we find and connect with like-minded people, but ultimately I feel that we are all alone, together.

I used to think I needed a business degree to have a business. I’m a grad school dropout who felt a heck of a lot better about it after listening to this episode of freakonomics radio. There were pieces of grad school that I LOVED and the 1/2 of an MBA (which for the record = no MBA, but still) that I have has served me well because I met one particular professor who blasted a whole area of the universe wide open for me that I didn’t even know existed.

So my story of my little startup is still forming, and evolving and changing every day. Like everyone’s. But basically, I was really, really lost and then I stood still, and then I found this activity that makes me really happy and I turned it into a “thing” with the encouragement and support of some amazing people I get to surround myself with pretty often. Things have been rocky lately and last night I called my mom crying. It’s frustrating when you invest your time and energy in things that are supposed to make you stress less…and you still get stress. And then someone shows you love and you remember, yet again, where the path is. It’s a funny thing how everything comes to be.

 

Just for fun, here is some excellent advice, whether or not you consider yourself a “Young writer.” Warning, these words are amazing.

 

Yoga Made Me Write This Poem

Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Yoga Made Me Write This Poem

Post yoga red wine bliss
Where is Sean, where are the kids?
Dinner is done, still on the stove
Listening to the latest John Mayer downloads.

The deeper we go
The higher we climb
Am I losing
Or finding my mind?

You see the path unfold
“It will,”
We’re told
But to see it, feels shocking, still.

What am I afraid of?
Nothing really
I know
Sounds silly

Well, wait, I’ve lied
Wrapping my head around certain things
I’ve tried
It’s tricky and sticky and it really stings.

A magnetic force field for love & goodness
Spins out of control
Did I ask for all of this?
Is that all?

Be careful what you wish for
It will come true and you will be you
Happiness holds mystery and love at it’s core
Keep your truth, never the score.

Book Club! Chasing Slow

Books Community Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

Book Club! Chasing Slow

Three women, three yogis, three friends – that’s how it started, our book club. We are all so different yet so the same and that is the recipe for great conversation, good fun and the most exciting start to our book club!

The “club” consists of Kate, the hiking/cereal/yoga loving beauty who is my husband’s birthday twin. The similarities between these birthday twins are uncanny, and I love to spot them! Kate is a go-getter and bride-to-be with whom I can (and have) talked for hours on end about everything under the sun and moon and it is one of my favorite activities.

Beth is the brunette beauty who the universe called to be my friend. It wasn’t spooky at all the Halloween that she answered the door to a house my little goblins were trick-or-treating at. It was exciting! Mainly because I’d known Beth from my professional days commuting on the train. We had been friendly from seeing each other daily but when I met her again, it was such a pleasant surprise. Her and her husband came over for dinner soon after and the rest is history. Oh and she’s a celebrity on Ireland. I swear!

We are all at different stages in our life – Kate on the brink of marriage, Beth just coming out of the newlywed season and I am knee deep in motherhood. They keep me young and teach me all the trendy things that I don’t even know exist, although I don’t think I’ve admitted just how out of the loop I am to them. hehe.

Onto the book selection. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner could not have been a better choice. It’s a read about life, identity, insecurities, motherhood and self – topics that are so dear to me and that I think and write about often. I’ve been moved to tears many times throughout the book, because I can relate to her stories and because they are just oh so beautiful.

We talked for 3 glorious hours about our pick, using the “Conversation Starters for Self Discovery, Courage and Truth” that the Chasing Slow team sent us as a thank you to pre-ordering the book! I know, SO COOL! We learned more about each other, and I think even about ourselves, as we thought through our answers and sipped kombucha, wine, beer and snacked on broccoli and cookies. I KNOW!

Erin articulates parts of motherhood that are so universal yet so hard to put words to at times. I can taste the experiences she talks about. I’ve had the same thoughts, visions and realizations. The same struggles of where do the kids end and where do I begin? The same wondering of who am I without a job? The same anxieties. The same journey in search of  so many things to be halted in the middle with tears in my eyes and on my hands wondering where the heck I am going and why.

The same but different. Because this is Erin’s story. Her bravery in telling it so true and raw is so inspirational and refreshing. Her peek into feelings of online life and work are rare. I find it hard to find honesty in the over-staged online world that I love so much and here in these pages, you find it. The most amazing thing to me is that Erin doesn’t throw up her hands and close her online accounts because they are superficial at times or part of the race to perfection. She continues to work and find balance and truth and brings her true self to the game. That is the best part and the hardest part.

How do we show up now that we know the rules? Now that we know you can look perfect in an instagram photo or facebook post…”Look how much fun I’m having!” Now that we know this, how do we balance it with truth in our everyday interactions? For me, I try to post real things – like messes and feelings – along with staged beauty, because sometimes you really do need a filter to make the picture look pretty right? Or do you?

 

 

Transformation in Progress

Creating Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Spiritual Exploration

Transformation in Progress

Tomorrow is the big day. The day I register my baby for kindergarten. So many emotions.

When Brady was born, I shifted everything, as we parents do, and I shed all the skins that I wore and all the roles I thought I “should” be. A transformation that has shook me to my core. One that I thought was complete several times over, but I’m coming to find is a marathon journey that I am still on.

I’d love to carry a sign or wear a name tag that reads: Transformation in Progress. Wouldn’t you? Aren’t we all transforming every minute?

Now my days of caring for a precious baby are spent caring for a growing child and toddler. Soon those days will grow longer as Brady spends his days in a school desk and I’ll find a slower day with just me and little Meadow. Then she will slowly peel away for preschool – our first real separation. Ever. Much more on that in the coming years.

I’ve shed all those skins and roles since transitioning to motherhood and now I’m left with who I know I’m called to be. The real work of continuing to show up now that all the masks are removed lies ahead. I intend to follow my heart, my true creative nature to learn and share and create. It’s exciting yet unknown.