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Unkink the Hose

I woke up the other morning to a storm raging. A swirl of chaos and frustration as my son was in the midst of an intense melt down. If you’ve never witnessed a child with autism’s melt downs, imagine a typical child’s tantrum, and then multiply it by about five. By 8am that morning, I’d been through three melt downs with him. I was exhausted, and I had reached a tipping point… I often talk about the emotional guidance scale -  when you’re feeling low, you can slowly work your way back up to joy and gratitude taking one step at a time. But, when you’re on the bottom wrung, when you’re at the lowest of lows, you don’t want to hear any high level perspectives or advice – it feels completely unattainable and irrelevant. In that moment, you just need to know what to do to stop slipping before you completely fall off into the abyss. Before you break irreparably. In that moment I simply asked myself, 'what is the one right thing to do next?' When you’re in the thick of something, strategizing for the future or even planning for the next few hours can feel impossible. The only thing you need to figure out, is what is the one thing you can do next that feels the best for you right now? I searched myself, asking what I needed – just the one thing to do next to feel a little better. Ironically, the best thing for me to do right then, felt like just feeling it. So I did… I cried, I whaled, I allowed myself to feel all the feelings I try to protect myself from on a regular basis. I sat with the depths of my pain, the frustration, the helplessness, the hopelessness, the fear, the failure, the feelings of being lost, confused, angry at God, angry at myself, and even wondered if life is worth living. Sometimes just sitting in the awful pain is the next right thing to do. I’m sure you’ve been there too – you’ve faced a moment when you surrender your strength, and just let it all out. Eventually, after some time passes, you’ve cried to the point of exhaustion. You run out of tears, there’s no more words, nothing left buried – it’s all come out. The sense of emptiness, of stillness actually brings some solace – its done. You’ve faced it all, you’ve felt it all, and now you’re empty. There’s a pause here before the ‘picking yourself up by your bootstraps’ moment. Before the peeling oneself off the bathroom floor there’s a moment of pause, of emptiness, of nothingness – just breathing, just being. Not broken, not whole, just alive. The only sound is breath, the only sensation is breath, the only thought is “breathe.” It’s a beautiful, holy space. A renewal. A baptism. An initiation back into life. For as long as it takes, we sit in this stillness. Absorbing the peace of the storm’s passing. Honoring the journey of the warrior and preparing to take the next step forward. For several days after this moment I operated at one speed: one step at a time. On an hourly basis I ask myself, ‘what's just the next right thing to do?’ And you know what? I feel more nourished, calm, and true to myself than I have in months. When I start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or sad – I simply stop what I’m doing, take a deep breath, and check in with myself, “what is the one next right thing for me to do?” The answer is always clear and simple: Drink a glass of water, take a shower, put on some music, get the boys dressed, blow bubbles, sit down, say a prayer, send that email, call mom, go for a walk, stretch, make the boys laugh, cry, make some tea, light a candle, return that phone call, play the piano, sing, tell the children you love them. As I’ve written about before, it takes incredible strength to be gentle with ourselves. It takes strength to resist the temptation and the pressure to do 100 things at once and 1,000 things in a day. It takes courage to say No or Not Right Now. It takes devotion to oneself to slow down, to simplify, and to resist the pressure of doing everything for everyone else without asking yourself what YOU need. This week I encourage you to join me in this approach to living through the lens of nourishing yourself. When you start to feel the sensation of chaos, frustration, anger, disappointment, fear, sadness, or overwhelm – stop for a moment. Instead of numbing or ignoring it, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “what is the one right thing for me to do next?” Make it a practice, a holy moment for you to guide yourself, and do it often throughout each day. Notice how you feel. Notice the change you feel in your relationship with yourself. Notice how much stronger you feel as you live more gently, and as you handle yourself with care. You do so much for so many, make yourself one of those people you are dedicated to serve, to nourish, and to love. You’ll be so glad you did.Wishing you a beautiful day, and a wonderful week.  With love and gratitude,  Robin 

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©2019 by Robin Angela Baglietto