I don’t want to be Superwoman.
I used to take it as a compliment when people told me I was “Superwoman”. I took it to mean that I must be doing something right to be able to manage to do everything I was doing. And yes, it felt good to hear that people were impressed by the amount of stuff I was able to accomplish while raising 5 kids.
I’ve grown older. I’ve gotten more tired. I’ve also gained some life experience and have slowly realized that not everything in our lives is of equal importance and there is no way we can do everything we want at the same time.
In case it’s not obvious, Superwoman is fiction. (Also, let’s put aside that the Superwoman character is actually a villain as opposed to a hero. For sake of this post we’ll just assume that when someone calls you Superwoman they mean Superman in a female body.) And even the fictitious Superwoman pays a heavy price. Between having to hide her real identity and not letting the people closest to her know who she really is, to time and time again having to drop everything on a moment’s notice and run off to save the world. Not to mention the burden of having the world’s problems on her shoulders.
It’s tiring putting up a facade. It’s tiring putting everyone else’s needs before your own. It’s tiring feeling that you alone are responsible for so many important things.
In general, women have a problem that is not as common among men: we don’t know how to ask for help. We’re queens of helping others but we have a problem reaching out for help when we need it, at least until things are really bad and we’re completely falling apart. (And more often than not we are then angry that those closest to us didn’t instinctively know to offer help before we asked for it.) Women have more of a problem delegating tasks even within our families, because, once again, that’s asking for help. And even when we ask for help and receive it, we feel we have to return the help in the future.
I don’t want to be Superwoman. I don’t have the superpowers that would make it possible for me to continue adding more and more things into my daily routine and to continue to do all of them at the same level without dropping something else.
I also believe that the Superwoman mentality harms women. People who aren’t managing to do as much as a “Superwoman” feel bad and inadequate when they compare themselves to women who at least on the outside seem to be getting so much done so well. Our daughters also suffer when we try to do too many things all on our own. Kids learn from what we do, not what we say. By putting up the facade of Superwomen we are teaching our daughters to set unrealistic goals for themselves.
I don’t want to be Superwoman. I don’t want to have unrealistic expectations for what I can reasonably expect to accomplish. I want to learn how to prioritize and how to ask for help. The biggest difficulty is that I just don’t know how to let go of the guilt that comes with not living up to the unrealistic expectations I set for myself.
Are you a Superwoman? A recovering Superwoman? Any tips?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Susie Newday in Israel.
Photo credit: Anne Marthe Widvey / Flickr.
World Moms Network and the Heartfulness Institute have partnered to bring forth a series of online monthly webinar workshops for women called GLOW which stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’. This helps women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation from the comfort of their homes or workplace. The aim is to help women integrate meditation into their daily lives to achieve a more peaceful and balanced life, and a better environment. Each webinar will also feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, and are influencers and change makers.
Taking Time for Ourselves:
Today’s women take on multiple roles, in the family, and in the society. And to fulfill all these myriad responsibilities which a woman takes on, she needs more and more of time, energy and giving-of-her to it. Her role as a nurturer is predominant in today’s society, more than ever.
Taking Time for Ourselves
While meeting all these external demands, women need their inner strength to steady the mind, and calm the senses. None of the world cultures or education explicitly teaches a person how to go within, take time to nourish the soul, and feed the spirit.
The poet, Mary Sarton said, “women need open time, with no obligations except toward the inner world and what is going on there”.
Only in these serene moments of prayer and meditation can we balance the pace, competition, and rigors of today’s modern world. As women, more than anything we need to find that beautiful space within ourselves, and bask in those moments of bliss and peace, to come back to this world to play our own balancing act, and while at it, try to retain that pristine condition.
Lorraine McLoughlin, Ireland
Lorraine is a Project Archivist living and working in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently working at the National Gallery of Ireland on a collection relating to the study of seventeenth century Italian baroque painting. Previous projects include work for the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s National Theatre), the cataloguing of medical paintings in collaboration with the Wellcome Institute, and a stint as a senior manager in Ireland’s largest law firm. She has her own Archive Management Company and is constantly broadening her experience by taking up varied and interesting projects. Prior to obtaining a Masters in Archive Management, her academic background was in Fine Art, Cultural Anthropology and Spanish.
Due to the nature of her work, Lorraine has moved around a lot. As a result, she found that she needed to find a practice that would help her feel grounded. Heartfulness meditation has helped her in retaining a sense of stability and confidence. Lorraine began practising Heartfulness meditation just under two years ago. During the webinar, she is going to speak about the importance of making time for meditation, and how it benefits women, and those around us, to turn our attention from the external to the internal.
The hosts for this webinar are our very own #WorldMom, Purnima Ramakrishnan, from Chennai, India and Judith Nelson from Scotland.
For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Who Should Attend:
All women, across the world! Please share this webinar workshop link – goo.gl/fh1bRY with all the wonderful women you know, and let us help women become change agents of peace, harmony, joy and love.
Registration is free, but seats are limited, so please hurry with your registration.
Please like and share the Social Media – Facebook Page – Heartfulness for Women for periodic updates and resources for women.
I ask my one year old son: “Who is Wesley?” His eyes brighten up as he remembers this question, and he happily and proudly answers “I”. He seems happy and proud because he knows our reaction to his showings of intelligence; not because he really understands that he is … himself.
That seems to be the question that many of us have, isn’t it? Who am I? What am I doing here? What am I doing in life?
Through the years, my life has made for a very interesting journey. I have learned, unlearned, thought that I unlearned, and have forgotten some things I thought were really important aspects of the type of life I wanted for myself, and my family. I have survived and I have lived, and I continue to be amazed at how much there is to understand about our experience in this physical realm. During my formative years I was raised within a religious structure, and I won’t name it only because I don’t want to provide a filter with which to read this article. Also, my ideas are just that: mine, and not a representation of any religion or belief system.
After conversations with people young and old, from here and there, and after experiencing energies that I couldn’t really explain within the context of religion, I have slowly come to believe in God a little differently. Maybe I should say it’s very differently because now I consider the possibility of God being she, and not he; or God being ____ and not anything we even understand. And that is way different than the solidified He that we often use in our speech.
On this part of my journey, which I should say started in 2009, I have become more aware of myself as a part of the universe. This has manifested most dramatically in my painting, and the connected-ness I feel whenever I let myself tune in to all that surrounds me.
If you have the opportunity to watch the movie, The Last Mimzy, I suggest that you do if for nothing else, just to see one scene: A little girl puts her hand in this space that is controlled by a force that is from out of this world *(literally). When she does this, her hand separates into millions of particles. It is absolutely beautiful and astonishing. When I saw this it made me think of a thought I once had. That scene was exactly what I was thinking – that creation exists as star matter gathered in different ways, to have different functions, but we (as in everything that exists) are all the same thing. Seeing that movie put into visual what I had in my mind.
So, where am I going with this? It is this – since 2009 I have allowed myself to be curious about life and creation, and to find the connection among God-based answers, soul-based answers, mind (consciousness)-based answers, and scientific answers. By doing so I have been able to experience the world differently. Some things have made me wonder if I am making things up. Could I have felt the presence of ancestors watching my husband and I when we were only friends? Could I have felt that good an energy when I put finger to canvas and painted an abstract, but soulful picture? Could I have dreamed of a place I had never visited, but upon describing it to a friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years and whom I just reconnected with a few months prior to the dream, she would finish describing the place of which I dreamed, and knew exactly where it was? Could I have climbed a mountain successfully by talking to all the elements, acknowledging their power along that of the mountain, and asking them to let me experience a safe climb? Was it coincidence that the climb was as peaceful and safe as it was?
I have had so many experiences that if you don’t believe in universal inter-connectivity, then it will just sound like craziness.
In 2009 I was not meditating. I thought about starting doing so for years, but never have. Now that I have started I understand it is not something I should force, and am content with the fact that I never did force it; it must have not been a part of my journey at that time. I started meditating only a few months ago and it has improved my life considerably.
Early this year I considered taking anti-depressants. It had been a battle to even acknowledge that I might actually need help chemically, and that went along with battling whatever the things were that I felt so badly about. I won’t go into details, but I will say that my children are awesome. They are being children perfectly. My husband is my friend, my love, my silent rock and I love him to the ends of the multiverse (forget the moon & back. I’m just loving him beyond infinity). So it wasn’t about any of that. It was that I would start feeling down and would start spiraling. I would watch the spiral and knew I didn’t want to go down in it, but it was so hard to stay out of it. I would watch canvas and paint. I’d just pass it sometimes like it wasn’t there. I’d look at my camera and not want to take photos. I’d not want to write any poetry, and would make myself focus on the many blessings, so I could write a blog post or two. However, making myself see these blessings, and actually acknowledging them are two different things, to me.
I noticed that when I meditated more and more, that more and more I would feel better.
I would believe that I could be a part of the art community. Why not? Why not I? Who was I anyways? Wasn’t I someone whose work could be displayed somewhere?
Meditation helped me (here comes a cliché) get centered. Cliché or not, it is absolutely true.
I decided to meditate instead of the anti-depressants and I have done so since February.
I don’t always feel great, and don’t expect that that is how it works. I think we learn from feeling down and from being jubilant. I do, however, see the difference in myself, and hear it in what my children say about how they feel about mommy (completely out of the blue “I love my mommy” “My mommy is nice” statements to random people).
Meditation inspires me to be happily alive. Not only does it inspire my creativity by unlocking … artist’s block (like writer’s block), but it also helps me so that I am not taken by life’s little trials.
I see it this way: small trials can be ignored, but sometimes this is done in a way that is like unto filling an hourglass with grains of sand. Each grain is a small trial. Then, before you know it, the hourglass has passed the last grain and you can’t take it anymore… you react, upset about too many things to remember, but you didn’t truly processed them so they piled up and filled you up in a negative way. Through meditation, I feel like I am learning to really regard small trials as just that. There is still an hourglass, as habits are hard to break, but it isn’t getting as many grains of sand in it.
I will share that since beginning meditation I have exhibited my photography at a local event once; I have painted new pieces and exhibited them in two cities in a neighboring State; I am working on a two-country anthropology project to bring children closer to one another, and it will exhibit in the next few months at a local museum or gallery; and I will participate in a really funky (good) art exhibit that fills a tunnel up with colorful chalk designs.
To say that I am feeling better and better about myself is an understatement. I sincerely believe that meditation is helping me tap into my subconscious and bring out my potential so that it can transform from potential, to actualized and tangible reality.
The last thing I would like to say to you, is that if you do decide to give meditation a try, to keep a journal about your experiences. Do this faithfully. When you look back at your journal in six months, or one year or more, I think you will be surprised by your journey. A journal will solidify the fact that you have made your life better by forming the habit of meditation and making it an integral part of your lifestyle.
This Friday, October 7th, at 9:30 AM EST, join me by registering here for a chat and a Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation session, as part of the GLOW webinar series.
If you have questions for me, send them to email@example.com. Judith and Purnima, our very own in-house #Heartfulness Trainers are hosting me for this webinar, and I shall be chatting with them, and with you.
Keynote Speaker, #WorldMom Sophia
Sophia Neghesti-Johnson is a photographer, painter, and a pencil artist. She is a children’s book writer with her main focus being educating the reader on the tribes of Tanzania. Sophia uses her photography to fund girls’ education, and is currently pursuing her higher education goals as well. Sophia is mother to three children. She has an amazing & astute teenage girl, a clever &sassy three year old girl, and a sweet & musical boy who is almost two years of age. She tries to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good person to others and herself. Sophia has been practicing Heartfulness Meditation for about 8 months now. In her spare time she loves to go for a hike or a jog: it’s like meditation on the go in the midst of creation in motion. Sophia writes on her blog at ThinkSayBe.wordpress.com, and also contributes to WorldMomsNetwork.com
GLOW Webinar Series – Inspiration through Meditation – this week with …!
#WorldMoms Sophia, Purnima, Judith
World Moms Network has teamed up with the Heartfulness Institute as a media partner for their upcoming meditation conferences in the United States. As part of this partnership, World Moms Blog will feature a meditation related post each week through the end of June. This week, World Moms Senior Editor, Kyla P’an, sat down (virtually) with Heartfulness trainer, Tonia Anne, to have a deeper conversation about meditation. Here’s what Tonia had to say about her journey:
Tonia is a terrific example of a World Mom: she is half-Irish, half-French, her husband is Indian and they live across the river from the Melting Pot of America, New York City. She is raising two children, ages seven and four, and has been practicing meditation for more than twenty years. Talking with Tonia is a little like listening to classical music, it’s melodic and soothing. She’s delightfully at peace and put together but she says her life hasn’t always been so.
“In my early-twenties, life seemed quite confusing. I was a sensitive young adult quite lacking in self-assurance. I was studying and working in the professional theatre and life felt complicated. In this context, my mom, who had started practicing meditation a few years earlier, encouraged me also to try meditation.”
When Tonia’s mom put her in touch with a Heartfulness trainer, Tonia was surprised to discover how easy it was to get started; all she had to do was meet with a trainer for 30-minutes each day for three consecutive days to learn how to do this heart-centered meditation. After the three sessions, Tonia knew how to meditate on her own. The trainer encouraged her to join weekly group meditation sessions, which she did. There was a lot of support.
But Tonia didn’t become a regular meditator overnight. Just as acquiring any new skill, it took practice. “I didn’t do it every day at first but I did find myself looking forward to the good feeling I got from meditating, so I found ways to fit it in,” she reflects.
“Heartfulness meditation is so utterly simple. There is nothing complicated about it. You connect with your heart, rest your awareness there, the ongoing thoughts recede into the background. You are still; and at the same time you are receptive to your heart, which enables you to capture its guidance. Progressively there’s a growing sense of clarity and peacefulness,” says Tonia.
“It feels like the most natural thing to do, like following an inner compass. Like bringing yourself back to yourself.”
To hear Tonia describe meditation makes you realize, perhaps anyone can do this successfully. She’s convinced they can. Meditation, after all, is tuning into a quality of being rather than making something happen.
To help non-practitioners better understand what happens with thoughts, Tonia provides a simple, visual image:
“Picture a river with a bridge over it. Crossing the bridge are lots of little cars. These cars are your thoughts and rather than focusing your attention on any one of the cars (thoughts), you can step back and notice that the river flows nonetheless. At any given moment you can choose where to direct your attention, here we rest our attention on a single point in the heart.”
“We work well with patterns and routines,” she adds. “If you create a place for your meditation (a comfortable chair, a room, a specific spot on the floor), and set a regular time each day to practice, be it 10, 20 or 30 minutes, then soon enough, it becomes a routine.”
Twenty years in, Tonia now meditates every day. Her practice starts when she naturally wakes up before 6 a.m., “before everyone else in my house gets up; before the hustle and bustle of the day; before the e-mails and schedules, when the mind is calmer.” This is the time she takes for herself and she does it by settling into a designated chair in her family room for a thirty to sixty-minute session. She says it makes her feel centered and gives her poise. It sets the tone for her day, and the whole family seems to benefit.
“We are constantly being solicited, especially as moms. We are constantly nurturing and attending to others’ needs. Meditation is my time to be nurtured. Setting aside time for myself in a deep way, where I am connecting with my deepest longing, helps me find balance and deal better,” says Tonia.
When asked how she decided to make meditation such an integral part of her life, Tonia’s answer was simple and beautiful:
“As a child I would wonder in awe at life, at this life that had been given and that I was in, and have a sense that there must be something to make of it…a sense of a diffuse dream. Meditation is like remembering the dream and living more on purpose.”
To learn more about the Heartfulness Institute and their upcoming US conferences, please visit their website: www.heartfulness.org
A life coach (LC) once told me it is important to be selfish sometimes. She had to explain what she meant because for as long as I could remember, the word ‘selfish’ was synonymous with not caring about anyone other than yourself. Well, LC was one of the sweetest people I have met, yet she did not strike me as one who would accept being pushed around, or would accept becoming a doormat. Usually, really sweet people are considered people on whom you can ‘get over’, right?
When I had this conversation with her I was already mother to by firstborn. However, I did not come to really contemplate the meaning of being selfish while being a mother, until after having my second child.
What LC was conveying to me is that although I am a mother, I am a person. Separate from all the titles I gather in life I have myself and I have to take care of self. You’ve probably heard it or read it somewhere…’If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else’. I have heard people reference it to when an aircraft loses oxygen and you are to put an oxygen mask on yourself before helping someone else, even your own child, put on her mask. Still, the word ‘selfish’ isn’t used here, even though it may be more concise and cost less to print. I do understand why: it just doesn’t sound good.
Nonetheless, being selfish (to an extent) is necessary for sanity, self-esteem, creativity, and a dynamic life.
I don’t know about other mothers, but I tend to analyze a lot. It used to be that before I left the house (children and husband in it), I would think of all I could do to make sure everything for the kids was where it was supposed to be so my husband could easily find it. It was as if the time I was going to be away had to be excused in my own mind, and that I was negatively selfish for not being there to care for them myself. I know this is absurd because we are both their parents and my husband hasn’t indicated, in any way, that he thinks or feels any of the things I am explaining here.
I realized I was hindering my own self from taking a break. From clocking out from my Stay At Home career. From taking care of me. From figuring out how to take care of me beyond taking a shower and maybe putting on some make up.
So about a month and a half ago my husband and I had a conversation. We acknowledged that we both feel the difference in our lives from how it was pre two small children and a teenager, to post two small children and a teenager. We agreed that we both need time to be ourselves individually and together. At the end of that conversation it was decided that I was going to begin taking scheduled ‘Me Time’.
The first time I had no clue what to do with myself. I was happy to leave the house and go do something. I didn’t want to waste my time. I didn’t want to do something as mundane as go window-shopping or take a nap in my car…like I have done a few times in the past. Then I realized I could do anything I wanted and I would be doing it by myself!
When I returned home I felt energized and didn’t feel like I needed to clock out again for a while. The second time I felt kind of guilty, leaving everyone again, so as it was already hard to schedule something with holiday travel, I just let that one go. Today was my third scheduled Me Time and I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was going to take my selfish self to the forest and hike! Yes, I was going to take a hike!
My hike was phenomenal. It was something I needed more than I thought. I wished for my husband and my children to be with me. I kept envisioning them there, but I knew I needed to be by myself. I needed to not worry about what they might need… if they are hungry, thirsty, or need a diaper change. Or if the 15-month old had eaten a crayon or is putting his finger in his mouth and maybe is now interested in sticking it in an electrical socket.
That’s the thing, you know? Being a Stay at Home Parent means that as long as your children are awake, you have to be aware while you’re cooking or cleaning, or doing whatever else you may need to do, Additionally, you have to be present for the myriad learning moments young humans have. I personally think that is tiring. I feel like I am wrong for feeling this way. That, as a parent, but more so as a mother, I should want to be with my children all the time and I should only get a tiny bit tired just as any human would from being awake and doing regular things.
To continue, my hike was what I needed. I focused on thinking of nothing. I took deep breaths as I walked briskly onward in the chilly air. Every time I thought to meditate I would first repeat a prayer I know, and then somehow ended up seeing Purnima Ramakrishnan’s face as if she was leading a meditation session. It was so strange and SO funny! Then I kept thinking about how I should have asked if there are wild animals to be concerned about on the trails. Black bears and cougars would have to just let me have my Me Time, you know?
After the hike I watched a R-rated movie (The Big Short) and ate a cookie.
I got home to two little babes wanting to be tickled and wanting to use me as an obstacle they had to demolish. It was a lot of fun and I knew I was better for them since I went and had some time with my own self.
Do you take time to do things on your own? Do you ever feel like you could be better for your children? When you do take time away, are there specific things you do that bring you back to center? What do you think about the word ‘selfish’?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia. You can find her blogging at Think Say Be and on twitter @ThinkSayBeSNJ.
Photo credits to the author.
In less than a week, I am going to travel to South Africa to see assorted friends and family members. I will escape the dreary November weather and get an extra month of summer in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I will spend lazy days with my mom and my brother, hang out with the woman who has been my best friend since we were ten, and meet someone who, until now, has been my friend in the online world only.
It will be fantastic. I haven’t seen the folks “back home” for almost four years, and as small as the world has become thanks to the wonders of technology, there’s just nothing quite like being in the same room as a parent, a sibling, a friend. In any case, I am desperate for the break. Events of the summer have well and truly hammered me, and I am exhausted. I have worked myself into a state of near-collapse, and I am looking forward to just stopping.
There’s just one thing. I am not taking my husband or kids with me. I recognize that this month away will be good not only for me, but for the kids from a life-learning perspective. But the thought that I will kiss my family goodbye and then turn and walk away from them makes my heart twist.
I haven’t even started packing yet, and already I am tearing up as I think of them going to bed on the night of my departure without their goodnight kiss from Mommy.
The thing is, I am not used to going anywhere without my husband and kids. Although I have been to South Africa by myself twice since the kids were born, both trips were prompted by deaths in the family. This is the first time I am going away by myself for an extended period, for the sole purpose of having fun. No one has died. I do not have to attend a funeral or pick up ashes from a crematorium. I don’t have to visit a lawyer to hear a will read, or deal with the bizarre amount of admin generated by the death of a family member.
Like most moms, I have succeeded in turning the concept of guilt into an art form. I feel guilty when I sneak out of the house for a quick solo trip to the convenience store, never mind getting onto a plane to travel to the other side of the world. But for the sake of my own sanity, I have had to put a lid on the guilt – otherwise I wouldn’t even get as far as the boarding gate.
I have to constantly remind myself that the boys will be OK – and I know they will be. I have been preparing them for my departure without making too big a deal of it. I have promised them that I will bring them a really cool gift from Africa. I am making a countdown calendar for my autism boy. Teachers at both of their schools have promised to look out for them and make extra allowances for them. We have started planning fun activities to do together after I get back.
It is not lost on me that I am fortunate to have such a supportive husband. I don’t feel that I need his permission for this trip, but I do know that many moms wanting to undertake a similar venture would face resistance, or even downright refusal.
My husband wants me to go, and he wants me to have a good time. I suspect that he and the kids are looking forward to spending some “boy time” together.
There will be a tricky moment at the airport when I will have to fight the urge to cry in public. After my husband and children have said their goodbyes and left, I will have to duck into a stall in the washroom to let some tears flow. And then I will board the plane and fly to South Africa to spend time in the land of my birth, with loved ones I haven’t seen for a long time.
When I come back to my adopted country, the Canada I am so proud to be a citizen of, I will be refreshed and rested, ready to take on real life, and excited to be in the warm embrace of my husband and sons.
Would your family be supportive of you taking a long trip without them? What strategies have you used to help your kids, both before and during your travel?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Canada. Photo credit to the author.