On the first day of this New Year the hope of renewal is in the air. The hope that with the beginning of a new calendar year a fresh start is available, a fresh perspective is ours and the potential for experiencing joy is brand new again.
This year one of my intentions is to write more. Several people whom I adore have encouraged me to do so, and my desire is to publish a blog post once a week throughout 2019. So, for those who do not know me I wanted to start with introductions.
I am a 50-year-old single mom of two, a 22-year-old daughter finishing up her senior year in college with a degree in Energy Commerce and a 16-year-old son, finishing up his junior year in high school. We live on a 15-acre private ranch north of Austin, Texas, a place we have called home since 1999. We have four dogs, five chickens and six horses of our own, and 10 horses that live on our ranch that we take care of for other people.
Currently I am the owner and operations director for the ranch and I co-facilitate workshops on mindfulness, coach individuals and participate in equine assisted psychotherapy. Our lovely horse herd graciously allows us to partner with them to help humans heal. The work that is done here at this peaceful and beautiful ranch is to bring about life change in the community and the way we do that is through reconnecting people to themselves and others through mindfulness.
Now I wasn’t always someone who practiced mindfulness. In fact, I would characterize myself as an energizer bunny most of my life. I was that student in high school that was a member of several clubs, the band and made good grades. I was in several contests with the dream of becoming governor of the great state of Texas, after of course running my own company! I held down multiple jobs through my time in college, and graduated in 1991 with a degree in Marketing. My career started in Houston in the world of retail, dealing with multi-million-dollar departments, buying clothes off the vendor racks in Las Vegas and New York and designing clothes for a department store chain headquartered in Dallas. I had your typical 20 something lifestyle with a convertible, parties and trips to fun places.
Then in 1995 I unexpectedly became pregnant with my daughter. Now normally this is a joyous occasion, and it was for my husband and I. However, at the 18-week mark, I suddenly went into pre-term labor. A stay in the hospital and then I, of course, returned to work. A day later I was put on complete bed rest and my world was turned upside down. My career-driven mind was set aside by my body and the life of my daughter in an instant became my only priority.
And so began my journey of having to look for something to keep me sane. My world was my bedroom, unable to take showers, walk to the kitchen or even sit up to eat, or I would experience contractions and have a nurse calling me, alerted from the band I had to wear around my belly to let the medical team know to have me drink more water or take more medication.
My doctor’s advice rang in my ears, “Just take it a day at a time.” She set short term goals for me. “Kelly, if you can make it to 24 weeks, we have viability”. “If you can make it to 28 weeks, we have a shorter stay in NICU.” “If you can make it to 32 weeks, we have better developed lungs.” And so I laid there, fighting the demon of fear and helplessness. And you know what, I finally surrendered. I surrendered to my own frailty. I surrendered to the fact I did not actually have any control over the outcome, only the moment, and that I was not alone in this battle.
I was raised in the Episcopal church, but we did not really practice daily spirituality of any kind. It was a rote religious thing my family did, attending church every Sunday, singing in the choir, attending church dinners and joining the youth group. I heard the Sunday school stories of Noah, Moses, Jonah and Jesus, but it really was not anything I considered relational or anything I ever looked to for comfort or strength. But lying there in that bed for months, desperately trying to keep my daughter alive and bringing her into this world as strong as possible, I realized there was something else. I felt the presence of God. And at that moment I realized that I was not alone and that I could ask for help, and so I did. At 38 weeks my sweet daughter was born, healthy and happy, with not one night in NICU and no issues. Five months in bed on my left side, completely helpless to do anything but stay calm, stay positive and obediently follow the doctor’s orders. It was a new chapter in my life at age 28.
And so, began my journey of mindfulness, because you see, mindfulness at its root is living in the moment and experiencing what is actually happening, engaging in the current situation with those in your midst and allowing your body, mind and spirit to be alive. I did not know at the time that spending moments lying in bed feeling her kick, and then watching my daughter learn to roll over, crawl, laugh and walk was mindfulness but now I do.
This blog is written because mindfulness has changed my life. I hope you will continue to read my story, so that it can help inspire you to stick to it. I have had many tragedies and triumphs, mistakes and memories, hardship and joy.
I want to help you transform by the renewing of your mind, to help you feel refreshed and believe in a future of hope and faith in the plans laid out. Mindfulness will remove the mask and peel away the layers the world and other people have caused in order to gain clarity, intuition and confidence in your true self. Everything you need you already have. I can just help you put it all together!
This week find time every morning as you are getting ready for your day to close your eyes for 1 whole minute, with no radio or television, and listen to your breath. If thoughts begin to creep in, gently brush them aside and return to your breath. During this minute picture your favorite place in the world. Hold onto that mental image, breathe and then go on with your normal day.
Mindfulness masters, your assignment is to open up your mind to hear the still small voice. Journal the words that bubble up and explore the connection between our sense of self within our mind and within our heart.