Recently, I found myself in this place that you may recognize. I had three full-time gigs: my day job, my mom job, and my “other duties as assigned” job. I was always busy, volunteering for everything that was thrown my way, and frankly, doing it all really poorly. I was suddenly unable to find any calm among my personal chaos.
While I was “everything’s fine, nothing to see here” on the surface, I felt like I was dying on the inside. Besides completely over-filling my life plate, I was struggling with a raging case of depression that I couldn’t quite understand. I was miserable and knew I needed to make changes, but I truly didn’t know where to begin.
I heard about this place called Campowerment several years ago from my friend Oprah. She featured an article about it in O Magazine, and I cut it out, put it in a drawer and thought “man… I need this place in my life.”
Five years later, after a particularly trying year, I pulled Campowerment up in my brain and thought “man…. I really, really need this place in my life.” One of my ongoing challenges as a Mom is taking time for myself and finding my calm. I always work to ensure that my husband and sons are taken care of, but often that leaves little for me. There’s always something that feels more pressing, and this year was no exception. I finally decided to do something nice for ME, so I nominated myself for a scholarship to Campowerment, through the nonprofit Give Her Camp. I was amazed and quite thrilled to be heading off to camp in the Pocono Mountains.
Camp?? But I’m 40…
Campowerment is no ordinary camp. It takes place in a summer camp setting, but it’s filled with grown women- experts from all kinds of backgrounds, and the most un-camp-like food ever. Sessions cover everything from spin classes to sex toys to meditation and everything in-between. Our first night included a panel on getting un-stuck, which really spoke to what I was feeling. I felt like I was constantly moving, but always stuck in the same place.
At camp you can do as much or as little as you want and go as shallow or deep as you like. With a goal of working to get out from under some soul-sucking issues, I went all-in on the deep parts. I cried. A lot. But every time I did, there was a fellow camper there, supporting me in this journey. Strangers, uniting as women.
So often as women, we get caught up in our forever busy worlds and forget to find our calm.
Momaging our kids, working in or outside of the home… we are so great at the practice of placing everyone else’s oxygen mask that we forget our own. It’s time to take the time to put on our own life-saving masks and take a deep breath.
For me, this was a weekend at Campowerment. While I had the opportunity to be immersed in this space, I also learned that there are so many small tools that I can implement to help create the shift I need to find my peace. In fact, I spent my weekend at camp quite literally cracking open, and it was only once I got home that the sun started shining in.
I’m going to take a gamble that there are some of you out there who could benefit from some tiny things that produce super soul shifts, so I’ll share some of what I learned in my journey to find my calm:
- Feel the ground beneath your feet. Take your shoes off and stick those feet in the grass. Connecting with the earth for just a few moments can have a pretty profound & calming effect.
- Be present. This one is so hard for me. I’m constantly fast forwarding to the future or rewinding to re-hash my past. (Spoiler alert: these things will get you nowhere other than spinning inside of your own brain). To be present and live in the moment is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
- F.L.Y. First. Love. Yourself. This goes back to my oxygen comment above. Whatever is keeping you stuck, you have to address it first and take your own breath before you can help anyone else breathe. And if you are a Mom, this is the most amazing thing you can do for your children. I believe this with my entire being.
- Remind yourself to breathe. In every yoga class I’ve been to, I’m reminded to breathe. Life is no different. If I find myself in a moment of anxiety, I always realize that the first thing I need to do is start to breathe again.
- Say no. I’ve stepped back, politely declined invitations, and asked for help. It’s OK to step away. It’s OK to say no.
- Change takes time. Keep calm and give yourself grace.
- Find your tribe. Whatever it looks like- an online group, a community Mom’s club, or a bunch of crazy ladies lip-syncing at summer camp. It takes a village.