Career or Family: What is worth the risk?

When was the last time you found yourself at a crossroads?

Lately, I’ve been feeling the urge to go back to work more fully, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the flexibility and balance of my current life, for I enjoy spending quality time with my boys.

Parents – do any of you feel this way? And for those who have a already chosen a path – whether to stay at home fully, or to go back to work fully, or to balance work and family life, what advice can you give?

I’m standing at a crossroad, and I feel I must choose a path. But it’s risky. Even the root of the word “decide” means “to cut off”. In the past, whenever I chose one road, the universe has supported me in my decision by manifesting various opportunities and resources. However, it also forced me to forfeit everything else that I would have found on the other road.

I remember making the choice to leave my corporate marketing job so I can have more of a work/life balance, do work that I love to do/work that is meaningful and purposeful to me, and raise a family & spend time with the people I love most.

Still, I asked myself: Am I comfortable giving up my financial independence? What if something happens to my husband? Could I go back to corporate life once my kids are in school? Would I want to go back? And – wait – am I even ready to be a mom?!?! (I can barely keep my plants alive.)

Financial security. Career progress. My sense of independence. ALL AT RISK. Not to mention I was afraid of motherhood. To be responsible for another life? To be the most influential force of another’s future? Me?!

There is also the risk of being undervalued and under appreciated. Let’s be honest – how many times do moms get asked the dreaded question: What did you do all day?

If I were to report all of the roles that moms play during the day, I would have a long list for you, including: nurse, short order cook, janitor, coach, referee, logistics & operations manager, photographer, and many more. Salary.com estimates that the title “mom” would earn over $162,500 in 2018 for all the jobs she actually does. And you’re worth way more than that, mom! Your love is priceless. (End rant.)

Being a mom is enough, in fact, more than enough. No one can ever place a value on who you are and what you do.

There are risks for parents working full-time. 56% of working parents say that juggling careers and parenting is difficult, and 41% of the working mothers say that being a parent has made it difficult to advance professionally.

When I say “mothers”, I mean those who have taken the motherly/caregiving role. (We are equal opportunity here!) My gay mommy/daddy friends negotiate amongst themselves who and when they share childcare responsibilities, or they agree who is to be the primary caregiver and the primary breadwinner of the family.

There is the risk of being judged by others for choosing to prioritize a fulfilling career over family, the risk of leaving children in someone else’s care, there is the feeling of guilt from missing the milestones or precious moments of childhood, missing the bonding from the daily mom life made up of ordinary-yet-meaningful moments. There is risk of not being absent when a child needs physical or emotional support. There is risk of exhaustion and burnout, especially for those who want a full-time career and a full-time parenting life. One article reports that in the attempt “to do everything well”, some feel “like they excelled at none of it”. There is risk of plateauing or turning down a high-powered career (that they worked so hard for) to be full-time moms. “How can I find a job that gives me growth but not be pushed over the edge by it?”

“It doesn’t matter if you stay at home or return to work after your children are born. Either way, there is risk involved, and that becoming a parent is risky, no matter what choices you make along the way. There are always financial risk, safety risk, and risk to the heart; they just look different for different people.” – Jenny

A friend of mine has found happiness and balance working as a full-time mom and arranging her life so that she can spend limited but intense quality time with her children whenever she has time. She moved to an apartment 10 minutes away from her older child’s school so that she can drop him off and be fully engaged time with him during that 10 minute walk. She also works from an office nearby his school. She happens to be the boss, so If it’s a slow day and she can afford a break, she can take 30 minutes and grab a snack with her son, and then head back to work. She has two children and has full-time help, and she knows that working full-time is the right decision for herself and her family. “When I have the weekends and those precious 2 hours after work and before bedtime, my husband – who also works full-time – and I cherish every minute of quality time with our kids.” She appreciates these moments and knows she’s the best mom she can be because of it.

There are also risk for those who decide to stay and work at home. There is judgment that it’s not “real work” (if you’re working for yourself). There is risk that you “fail” by your own expectations. There is the risk of constantly trying to balance your attention between work and family, never consistently giving 100% focus to either.

“Those who cannot commit, those who cannot say ‘no’, are doomed to everlasting conflict. They may sit for a lifetime at the crossroads, dithering. Krishna nails this principle: ‘Those who follow this path, resolving deep within themselves to see Me alone, attain singleness of purpose. For those who lack resolution, the decisions of life are many-branched and endless.’ ” – Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life

”Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it!?” – Úrsula, The Little Mermaid

When at a crossroad I ask myself: am I choosing from a place of fear, or am I choosing from a place of love? What is the best intention for myself and those around me? What is worth the risk? And what would make me happy? Then move forward with courage.

Have you taken a big risk? What have you learned from the risks you have taken?

This post is in collaboration with #TheRefinedCollective Series. Be sure and check out:
Kat, The Refined Woman // http://www.therefinedwoman.com/the-refined-collective-risk

Scarcity: What’s Worthy of your Time?

Scarcity: having limited resources to fill unlimited desires.

We only have 24 hours in a day, so we have to make choices and trade offs between the things we NEED to do and the things we’d LIKE to do.

Some of us have only an hour or two or even less time to squeeze in the activities that nourish our soul and make us feel alive – working out, connecting with like minded individuals, or anything that lights us up.

Does anyone else feel that way?

The juggle is real.

In her book, I Know How She Does It, Laura Vanderkam offers a tool to review your life in one week, hour by hour. When I did the exercise myself, I found that I could use alternative methods to accomplish what I wanted in shorter periods of time, multitask (for some tasks, at least), or I simply cut out certain activities altogether. Most importantly, I was able to allot (albeit smaller amounts of) time for the activities that I value most, those things that make me feel happy and fulfilled, and be present for those things that are 1000% worthy of my time. …at least at some point within a week.

I still have 24 hrs/day, 168 hrs/week, but how I spend it now enables me to feel abundance.

Whether you work full time, part time, or stay at home, I’m curious – how do you spend your time so that you feel fulfilled? Can you share your favorite time-saving strategies?

6 Experiences to Spark Your Child’s Sense of Magic & Wonder

Magic is in the air! As a child, I loved to observe – in awe and wonder – all things that seemed magical: shooting stars, sunsets, fireflies, and rainbows. Even though I felt small, I felt connected to a bigger world that I wanted to explore fully. So I was absolutely thrilled to see several exhibits which I could take my kids to experience magic and wonder this Fall!

“The sense of wonder is the ability to be present to the world and be touched by that world.” – Karin Arndt, Ph.D.

For those who have children or an inner child that seeks magic and wonder, here are 6 magical experiences to explore in NYC:

1/ Harry Potter: A History of Magic

What: Visitors enter the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and get a look at old manuscripts and a variety of wonder-full objects (think magical rings, a “unicorn’s” horn, and good luck charms & jewels) from the British Library and New York Historical Society. For younger children, there are some interactive games, including a cauldron where they can make their own potions, a magical crystal ball, and a tarot card table to read their past, present, and future! If they are very observant, they may even see a unicorn pass by one of the windows.

When: Exhibit currently open October 5, 2018 – January 27, 2019

Where: Upper West Side, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

Buy Tickets: Adults $21, kids 5-13 years old $6, children 4 and under FREE

Tips: Book tickets online (it’s a timed entry!) for a weekday afternoon, except Mondays. Mondays & Weekends until December seem to be blocked/sold out/limited.

Both Arjun, 5 years old, and Aarav, 3, had a blast making a potion against bad dreams. Can you guess what’s in it?

We learned that magical rings have inscriptions that read the same from either direction (left to right AND right to left)… just like the words, “mom” and “dad”. We also saw that the oldest atlas of night sky, a paper scroll made in China, almost three thousand years old, showed that the movement of stars reflected the actions of the emperor and his court; a solar eclipse eg could be a sign of a forthcoming coup.

As we were about to leave, Aarav gently placed his head on my shoulder about to fall asleep, then something caught his eye: a unicorn passing by one of the “windows”. Now you see it….

2/ Trolls, the Experience

What: You are invited to Poppy’s Best Day Ever celebration! You follow the rainbow path to experience all the fun, including getting your troll hair & face makeover, making music, playing an interactive high five game, dancing with the trolls in 3D!

When: Exhibit currently open

Where: Midtown West, 218 West 57th st, 10019

Buy Tickets: $25, adults & kids 2-12 years old

Tips: Buy tickets online (it’s a timed entry!), foldable strollers are ok!

3/ Museum of Illusions

What: A fun, very interactive exhibit filled with rooms of optical illusions, an anti-gravity room, mirages, and more! This exhibit is great for kids to run around and explore

When: Exhibit currently open

Where: Meatpacking, 77 Eight Avenue, New York, NY, 10014

Buy Tickets: $19, kids 6-13 years old $15, kids under 6 are FREE

Tips: It’s better to leave the stroller at home, for you have to walk up steps to get in and there’s no stroller parking. Walk-ins are fine; exploration & curiosity are highly encouraged!

4/ New York Magic Lab

What: This place is fun for taking photos! For kids, there’s a ball pit, a slide and dance floor. For grownups, there are magic shows on weekends at 8pm.

When: September 28 – October 28, 2018

Where: Meatpacking, 344 West 14th Street, 10014

Buy Tickets: $26 adults, $21 kids under 3 years old

Tips: It’s better to leave the stroller at home; again, there’s no stroller parking. Walk-ins are fine. Bring your playfulness!

5/ Color Factory

What: Color Factory is a collaborative interactive exhibit in celebration of color and creativity that connects you to the colorful moments around New York and in your own daily life.

When: August 20 – November 30

Where: SOHO, 251 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013

Buy Tickets: $38, kids 2 years old & under are FREE

Tips: Buy tickets online, leave the stroller at home.

6/ Mickey The True Original Exhibition

What: Mickey’s exhibition is a celebration and exploration of his influence on art and pop culture.

When: November 8, 2018 – February 10, 2019

Where: Meatpacking District, 60 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

Buy Tickets: $38, children 3 years old and under are FREE

Tips: Again, book tickets online (it’s a timed entry!) for any day except Monday; Mondays are closed.

Rachel Carson writes: “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe- inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last through life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

Enjoy your pursuit of magic and you may find that it is, indeed, a wonder-full world.

Rise in Love: How we speak to our children becomes their inner voice

Love is unconditional, according to the Bhagavad Gita. So why do many of us look outside of ourselves for love? We seek recognition from higher authority or demand attention from people we are about. We think this is love, and we are often disappointed.

This behavior got me thinking – did we not learn how to love ourselves?

I look to my own childhood experiences and recall plenty of loving-without-expectations moments. But there were also plenty of give-and-take moments. “If you do this, I’ll give you that” (implicitly saying, “On this condition, I will reward you the love and recognition I think you deserve.”) This is what I learned, so of course, I found myself doing the same thing. “I planned for us to go to the carousel but only after you put away your toys.”

It only seems natural to negotiate. After all, it’s a daily stress for us parents to get our kids to “follow the rules” and behave in ways that are appropriate and acceptable to us and society.

So how do we show unconditional love and affection while setting and enforcing structure and boundaries for our children’s well-being as well as our own? Tips and strategies are welcome!!! Please share your experiences – good, bad, ugly, funny. All are accepted and welcome. Let’s co-create!

In the book, The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Brandon wrote, “There is…no factor more decisive in (a man’s) psychological development and motivation – than the estimate he passes on himself… The nature of his self-evaluation has profound effects in a man’s thinking process, emotions, desires, values, and goals. It is the single most significant key to his behavior.”

So how can we teach our children to appropriately see themselves as worthy of love? How can we foster a positive and realistic self-image?

One method I’ve found useful is descriptive praise (instead of evaluating). From the book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish suggest we:

1/ Describe what we see. “Aarav, I see your books placed neatly on the bookshelf.”

2/Describe how we feel. “Arjun, it feels good to spend time in this tidy room.”

3/ Sum up our children’s praiseworthy behavior with a word. “Boys – you ate all of your carrots, peas, chicken, and rice! That’s what I call healthy.”

I’ve found that it also works as encouragement in their moments of struggle. When my older son got frustrated with a task a couple of days ago, I said, “I see this is challenging for you. It can be really tricky. Try it this way. Or that way. I know you can do it; you work hard and you persevere.” The next time he met an obstacle (after whining for a second), he furrowed his eyebrows in determination and worked until he completed his task, victoriously exclaiming, “I did it! I persevered!”

I don’t believe in perfect parenting or perfect people. I believe in humanity, good intentions, and right action – at least more times than not. Mistakes are inevitable in parenting, but every time we fall, we can offer that up to the universe and rise again, in love.

5 Ways the Practice of Handstands is Like the Practice of Parenting

Have you ever gone on a journey, with lots of ups and downs, that doesn’t seem to end? I have – and continue to do so each day. I find handstands similar to parenting – both practices are seemingly simple and straightforward, yet completely elusive at times. The more I practice handstands, the more I experience the parallels to parenting.

Here are 5 similarities:

1/ It brings out our inner child.

What fun it is to be on your hands and upside down! Can you remember a time when you did handstands & cartwheels in recess or at the park? I tap into these old memories and experience the same happy feelings when I play with my boys at the playground, practice yoga together, or create a workout that will wear them (and me) out!

It can also bring out our inner child’s greatest fear – no, not ghosts underneath the bed, not monsters lurking outside the door. No. It’s losing our own cool and bringing out the inner Toon Tasmanian devil in moments of frustration and lower vibration. I’ve learned to treat handstands and parenting as a practice, a process, and a journey. Here, we can face our fears with courage, do our best, and let go of results.

2/ We have to show up every day.

It’s all fun and easy when everything is going well, but when it’s not, it becomes more challenging to get up and go.

We may encounter various forms of obstacles, but we need to be consistent and intelligently modify as we need to (self-care, folks!).

The human body can be tired, injured, pregnant, or just not feeling it; the parenting can be exhausting, overwhelming, and just not fun at times.

I found that taking care of our physical and emotional health is required. Let’s do what we can, enlist help when we need it, and take care of our body, so we can take care of those we love most. But let’s keep going. Let’s show up. Every. Single. Day.

“If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”

3/ I am in constant search for the balance between being strong and being soft.

With handstands, power comes from strength and stability in the body as well as the softness, gentleness of moving, especially when correcting yourself. (What a challenge, huh? Parents – we can be so hard on ourselves!)

In parenting, I search for a balance between creating a strong foundation & structure (i.e. rules!) and leaving room for kids to play inside those rules, allowing them to be creative and collaborative, particularly when facing behavioral challenges. I find I have to be strong in my principles but gentle in speech and actions. When it comes discipline, I look for the balance between being a friend and teacher/manager – what is called “authoritative” parenting.

4/ Both require a shift in perspective.

Both practices have turned my world upside down and have enabled me to see challenges as opportunities for growth while discovering hidden talents. The demands of both have made me review life and priorities, and have forced me to let go of things that are unrealistic or that no longer have a place in my life.

5/ The journey of handstands and parenting both require a whole lot of practice, love, and patience.

Sometimes the process can feel like a mystery. And that’s when I remember a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Patience, love, and practice…and all is coming.

How to Keep Calm When Your Toddler Throws a Tantrum

Freedom: when you go away for a weekend without your kids! Just kidding. But kind of true.

I adore my two little boys, but life with a 3 and a 5 year old can be emotionally exhausting at times. As a parent, I get attached to how they feel and I react to that. When they giggle, I am filled with joy and want to tickle them and make them laugh even more. When they fight with each other, I feel hurt and frustrated. When they purposely act naughty (by dumping all the Legos onto the floor or throwing all the pillows off the couch) to get my attention, I feel emotions heighten inside my heart. And they feel it, too. They seem to know exactly how to bring out feelings I can typically keep at bay.

Freedom comes from being detached, not reacting to their antics, and sometimes, not doing anything at all. I often want to “fix” a situation, make things “fair” for each kid – give each of them the same number of toys, the same amount of mommy-time, have them take turns equally, etc. to make them happy. But in doing so, I lose my peace of mind. Some times, one of them needs my attention more than the other. And other times, vice versa.

The greatest freedom I’ve learned was to let the kids learn for themselves, to let them be. Some lessons cannot be taught; they need to be experienced… even if it means withstanding the storms of whining, crying, and/or throwing themselves on the floor every once in a while.

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it is our job to share our calm and not join their chaos. ” – L.R. Knost

So how do we keep calm in the midst of their tantrums?

When emotions become difficult to handle, we can harness the breath and the mind to surf the wave of emotions until we reach tranquil shores. The mind and the breath are powerful tools, and they are intelligently connected. When you can control the breath, you can control the mind. Prana – life force energy- is carried by breath, so when we can move breath through our bodies in a systematic way, we can regain energy as well.

Stephen Cope, author of Yoga for Emotional Flow, offers a technique he calls “Riding the Wave” to face strong emotions when we are overwhelmed in the moment.

1/ Breathe.

Bring awareness to nostrils and breathe down to the navel. Bring the palms of your hands to navel and breathe as if your breath could touch the palms of your hands. Notice how your breathing brings your awareness away from the mind and into the body.

Take 8 breaths – slow, steady, even. In and out like waves. Tune into your body’s natural rhythm, your pace.

2/ Relax.

Notice any areas of tension in the body. Where is energy trapped? Is it in your hips? Solar plexus? Chest? Throat? Eyebrows?

Systematically bring awareness and breath to those areas.


Breath into tightness.

Imagine water flowing through the rocks in your body.

3/ Feel.

Can you feel energetic shift? Does energy flow throughout your body now? What felt dense is now soft, impenetrable now penetrable.

Can you describe the sensations with tangible words? Are they sharp, dense, hot, large? Are they moving? Do they have colors? Textures?

4/ Watch.

Watch what happen to the sensations. Let your inner witness focus on the “what” instead of the “why” of the issue.

There’s nothing to do, nothing to fix.

“Power is the ability to be and let be.” – Aristotle

Let go of mind, focus on energy.

5/ Allow.

Let go of any urge to control; surrender to the experience. Notice the freedom from doing anything. Notice the energy to move through your body.

Allow yourself to fully experience feelings and bear the depth, breadth, and reality of the present moment. Accept all feelings without judgement. Imagine you’re laying on a surf board in the ocean and let the tranquil water carry you to the shore.

With this practice we can become skilled surfers who can ride the waves of emotions from separation to union – of the senses, the body, and the human heart.

How do I teach my children how to calm themselves? By breathing, of course! One tool I use is a toy Hoberman Sphere to demonstrate how the chest expands when they breathe in and how it contacts when they breathe out. After a few times of doing this exercise with them, they learned how breathe deeply when they feel nervous or upset about something.

He knocked over your tower accidentally? Breathe. He took the toy you were playing with? Breathe. We ran out of your favorite cheese bread snack? Breathe. Daddy ate all the Nutella again? Breathe.

Freedom: when kids can calm themselves and work things out without us having to intervene.

This post is in collaboration with #TheRefinedCollective Series. Be sure to read what FREEDOM means to my sisters:

Kat, The Refined Woman // http://www.therefinedwoman.com/the-refined-collective-freedom/
Brynn Watkins // http://beingelliott.com/beingelliottblog/2018/7/24/true-freedom
Sarah Shreves // http://www.sarahshreves.com/blog/2018/7/25/freedom-faith
Jess Koehler // https://jesskoehlerphoto.com/Blog/1/caption

5 Tools to Find Yourself Again When Shift Happens

Everyone has gone through something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the person they were. For me, this identity shift came through motherhood. It turned my world upside down and left me feeling alien in my body.

The Bad News: Life felt like it had slowed down to a standstill, even though I always felt busy with tedious chores and daily routines, with life revolving around food shopping, preparing food, feeding, getting kids to nap, changing diapers, taking out the trash, cleaning, and doing endless amounts of laundry every.single.day. not necessarily in this order.

I missed doing work that was fulfilling, with the satisfaction of a job well done. I missed the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted and with whom I wanted. (Can I just get a workout with my husband without having to hire a babysitter? Or get drinks with my girlfriends without having an 8pm curfew?) And I really, really miss getting a full night’s rest.

The Good News: “The soul is unborn and immortal. Death is but a change of clothing. The self within the body cannot be cut by weapons, burned by fire, drenched by water, withered by wind. You are eternal, unbreakable, and ever the same.” – Bhagavad Gita

The essence of who we are never changes. It’s just buried somewhere under a mountain of laundry. We may have to search deep for it, but we can reclaim a part of our “old self” while embracing the “new”.

5 Tools to Find Yourself Again When Shift Happens

  1. Workout. Whether it be yoga, dance, spin, HIIT, boxing, whatever movement you do brings awareness to who you are NOW. It offers the benefits of a strong, healthy body and it channels excess energy in a positive way.
  2. Make “Me” Time. Spend quality time with yourself, doing activities you love to do, or take on a new hobby. Read, take a long uninterrupted hot bath, listen to music, do whatever fills your cup. Meditate; it decreases stress and cultivates a grounded, peaceful mind. It also allows you to rediscover you at your own pace.
  3. Spend quality time with your SO. Bringing a +1 or +2 or (God Bless You) 3+ mini me’s to the party at your house means having less time to spend with your significant other. For many, this relationship gets de-prioritized when the family expands. Reconnecting with your SO can help to bring back that part of your “old self”. This can be as simple as grabbing a coffee or taking a walk together.
  4. Reconnect with Friends. Or make new ones! “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” Friends are a great way for you to see which values and interests you’ve kept and which ones you’ve outgrown.
  5. Rest. Raise your hand if you are a nicer, more patient, more compassionate human being when you get more than 4 hours of sleep. ’Nuff said.

I think it’s also important to drop all expectations of yourself to be a perfect anything, whether that be a mom, significant other, employee/boss, etc. to allow for new possibilities to open. Respect the process of transformation and the grace the present moment has to offer. Perhaps focus on one area of your life at a time – your body, your career, or your relationships, and when you feel like the “new you” in that new role called motherhood, with your new circumstances, then focus on the next area of life. Keep calm, be patient, and allow for the shift to happen. Find humor when you can.

In the meantime, I enjoy the cuddles and tickle fights, and the eagerness just to spend quality time together, reading books, and kicking the soccer ball at the park with the kiddos. I am amazed to see that they actually, truly listen when they ask original questions, or surprise me with facts they know, and when they show me the latest yoga pose they learned. (Just this morning, Aarav asked “Mommy, can I show you some yoga?” And proceeded to do Sun Salutations.)

The essence of who we are never changes. It seems like it does because life changes, and we take on different roles at different stages of our lives, to meet life where it meets us. But the soul is and will always be what it has been. We have a hard time putting labels on who we are because the pure soul is all and none of these roles. By practicing some of the tools mentioned above, we may be able to keep calm while moving through one stage of life into the next.

3 Ways to (Re)Focus When Life Throws You Off Your Game

The following is a loosely translated excerpt from the Mahābhārata (an ancient Indian epic), which illustrates the concept of FOCUS. The warrior prince Arjuna was known as the greatest archer of all time. It is said that once Arjuna focuses on a target, he always hits it.

Drona Archarya was the greatest teacher in archery who ever lived. Following him as a group of students were Arjuna, Ashwathama, Yudhistar and a couple of others. Among them, Arjuna excelled in archery. One day other students openly criticized Drona for favoritism towards Arjuna, telling him they too were not less skillful in archery.

“Tomorrow, there will be an archery competition to find out the best archer,” Drona replied. The next day Drona hung a wooden bird on a tree far from them. “See that wooden bird perched on the tree ahead of us? Aim at its eye,” he said.

He calls the first student – Yudhistar. Yudhistar plucked an arrow from the quiver, placed it on the bow, and pulled the string. “What do you see?” Drona asked. “I see the sun, the clouds, the trees,” Yudhistar replied as he released the string. The arrow shot forward and landed yards away from the tree.

Another student – Ashwathama took his position. He plucked an arrow from his quiver, placed it on the bow, and pulled the string. “What do you see?” Drona asked. “I see the bird, its legs, the twigs on the branch in which the bird sits, the small mango behind the bird, the leaves surrounding the bird, a small worm on the branch that approaches the bird.” The surrounding crowd is amazed. Other students could barely see the bird and nobody else had the eyesight to spot so many small details that Ashwathama so casually spotted. As he released the string, the arrow shot forward and landed near the roots of the tree. Similarly the rest tried but none succeed.

Finally it was Arjuna’s turn. He plucked an arrow from his quiver, placed it on the bow, and pulled the string. Following is the conversation between Drona and Arjuna emphasizing on how focussed Arjuna was:

Drona: “What do you see?”
Arjuna: “I see the eye of the bird”
Drona: “Do you see the tree?”
Arjuna: “No”
Drona: “Do you see the branch?”
Arjuna: “No”
Drona: “Do you see the bird?”
Arjuna: “No”
Drona: “Then what else do you see, Arjuna?”
Arjuna: “Nothing. I see only the round black eye of the bird.”

As Arjuna released the string, the arrow shot forward with a swoosh. It pierced the center of the eye of the wooden bird.

Whoever said we must aim for the eye of the bird with focused, single-minded, all-absorbed determination must not have had two small children running circles around him.

If I had to re-write the story of Drona Archana and Arjuna from the Mahābhārata, with Arjuna as a mom, what would that look like?

Mama archer aims cooly, steadily at the wooden toy bird perched on a tree in the back yard. “Kids, focus and aim for the eye. But remember, this is a toy, not a real bird. We love and care for living animals.”

Wanting mama archer’s attention, her boys pull at her clothes and cry, “Mama, mama!!” just as she shoots a Nerf arrow.

On the other side of the fence, they hear a voice from an unsuspecting neighbor, “Ow!!! What the… !?!?”

Mama archer turns to her children, “See what happens when you get distracted?”

As a mom, finding focus in every day life can be a bit of a challenge. There are so many things that can pull us in different directions: children, relationships, work, household chores, and every day responsibilities.

When we divert our energy into 10 different tasks, it’s easy to get de-railed from pursuing our purpose. If we each had a bow and spread the energy of the bow among 10 arrows, they each would shoot about 20 feet in different directions. But if we focused all the energy of the bow to one arrow, it might shoot 100 feet and hit the target.

Well, easier said than done, right?

A number of things can present themselves as obstacles, such as unexpected distractions, a lack of control, or even a lack of understanding. At times, I feel like there are too many unexpected distractions that need urgent attention. Anyone else with me?

3 Ways to (Re)focus When Life Throws You Off Your Game

1. Clarify your intention.

If your purpose seems to be overwhelming and takes you to many different directions, make it more manageable, single-pointed. This all comes down to what do you value most. (Achievement? Connection? Balance?)

If you focus on work, relationships or family life may suffer. If you focus on relationships or family, you may not achieve as much in your career. If you try to have both career and family, your health may deteriorate. There’s no such thing as “having it all”, at least not all at the same time.

Decide what is worthy of your attention because you have limited time, resources, and energy. (You are human, after all.) Let competing ideas exist, but stay focused on what means most to you.

2. Commit to actions that support your intention.

This means saying YES to some things and NO to others. For example, each night I prioritize the top 3 tasks that need to be accomplished the next day, without negotiation. When I wake up the next morning, I know to focus on the 3 most important things first, then work through the rest of my list. If other things that don’t support my intention come up throughout the day, I have to say “no” to stay on track.

3. Go with the flow.

Do your best, work to serve the highest purpose for yourself AND for the service of those around you at the present moment, and let go of results. At times, this may require having faith and accepting a new norm.

Timing is everything – what is “right” for right now may not be “right” 5 years from now. Decide what’s right for NOW. You are always one decision away from a totally different life. The timing of life offers us a chance to reinvent ourselves every few years.

For those of us who left the workforce to have children and plan to return to work in the future …. I try to believe that what’s meant for us will be there for us.

Any great accomplishment we have ever made happened because we committed to it, never giving up, even if circumstances were difficult.

So what can I say, Warriors!? Courageously aim your arrow in the direction which is right for you. Those who have fulfilled lives have learned to gather their energy, focus it, and let the arrow fly!

This post is in collaboration with #TheRefinedCollective Series. Be sure to check out my sisters’ stories as to how they stay focused!

Kat, The Refined Woman // https://wp.me/p5CU3K-1nY
Brynn Watkins // http://beingelliott.com/beingelliottblog/2018/4/8/focus
Yvette Jain // https://www.yvettejain.com/blog-entries/2018/4/7/focus
Corie Clark // https://corieclark.com/staying-focused-in-the-chaos/
Jackie Viramontez // http://www.jackieviramontez.com/focus/
Lauren Scruggs // https://laurenscruggskennedy.com/2018/03/the-art-of-focus/

*From Avani Mehta (http://www.avani-mehta.com/2008/06/13/do-you-have-arjuna-like-focus/)

9 Yoga Poses to Keep Calm

This blog was written in collaboration with Rachel Epstein from ROMIO and originally published on the Romio website.

This week we sat down with Romio Fitness Expert, Yvette Jain. This inspiring warrior mom of two can handle it all but not without the help of mediation and yoga.

Who is a warrior mom you ask? Yvette describes a warrior mom as:

“Every mom, dad, parent, caregiver doing his or her best to live a purposeful and fulfilling life while managing every day chaos. She’s raising children, and therefore the future; her life is to lead by message and example. The question I ask myself is, ‘What legacy do I want to leave behind?’ I want what many parents want – to show their kids the value of hard work, the importance of quality family time, and creative thinking to achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. She takes care of her family, and importantly, herself. She lives a healthy lifestyle – working out, being mindful, creating a positive like-minded community for herself and her family.”

As a mother of two Yvette stressed to us all the amazing benefits of practicing yoga and meditation, not only for body but also for mind. She shared with us 9 poses that you can do each day and why they are beneficial.

1.Seated Meditation

Take this pose as your first and last activity of everyday. This pose allows you to reconnect with your body and mind before or after a hectic day. Yvette is demonstrating in Lotus pose, but it can also be done simply with crossed legs.

2. Plank

Remember when you had abs? Doing a plank for a minute a day will help you get back to that pre-baby bod, and who doesn’t want that!

3. Extended Side Angle

This pose is for the warrior moms who carry their children on their hip for a majority of the day. This will stretch out the QL (Quadratus Lumborum muscle – the side of your abdomen wall.)

4. Tree Pose

This pose is great for grounding yourself physically and mentally, Yvette says. “Often, moms (and most adults!) are constantly in their heads thinking about a lot of different things. This pose allows us to get centered. You ground down through your standing foot, rise up through your sternum, and press your palms together. You can also press your foot into your standing thigh for more stability.”

5. Half Pigeon

This pose will stretch out those hips and glutes after standing all day. The forward fold also offers an opportunity to be calm and introspective.

6. One Legged Forward Bend

Taking this pose will release the tension you have built up in your hamstrings from standing and running around all day. You can add in a torso twist for an added stretch for your QL.

7. Supine Twist

This pose will help lengthen, relax and realign your spine.

8. Supported Butterfly (with Blocks)

This pose requires two blocks, one vertically placed at the base of your head and the other block horizontally placed below your shoulder blades. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes (although you may never want to get up!) This position is great for opening up your chest and shoulder muscles, especially for breast feeding moms who are frequently hunched over.

9. Headstand

“First and second time parents undergo a major life transformation in which their world is turned upside down. They often find themselves in new circumstances – many of which are beyond their control. While they may not have the power to change those circumstances, they do have the power to change their minds. Headstand is a great practice to be able to see life from a different perspective” says Yvette.

Remember to #KeepCalmWarriorMom