Episode 56 – Stress, Anxiety, and Accepting the Present Moment
Listen to this episode here!
How can we practice being present in the here and now when the moment we are in is particularly challenging? In today’s episode Rachel talks about her latest travels to Europe and how parents should receive awards at the end of long travels with babies. She shares everything that went wrong and how, even with the best intentions, she lost her cool and spent almost two whole days overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. She talks about the power of making peace with the moment and how accepting the here and now can completely transform your life.
[001:29] Hi, and welcome to From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. I am talking to you right now from beautiful Costa del Sol in Espana. I am in south of Spain right now. I’m just … I wish I could kind of paint you a word picture of the view I’m looking at right now. I’m overlooking the valley of a really beautiful part of the Spain called Nueva Andalucía which is 20 minutes outside of Marbella, close to Malaga, so the very, very south of Spain.
[002:00] I’m overlooking the valley, there’s a beautiful mountain over to my left, the Mediterranean Sea, it’s just beautiful dark blue, right in front of me. The sun is setting. It just, it feels so beautiful. If I get really quiet, I think you might be able to hear birds in the background … (laugh) I don’t know if you can hear that. It’s like a symphony of birds outside my window. I can’t believe I’m here! I literally almost cannot believe that I’m here. If you have been listening to this podcast, you know that I have been dreading this trip. I’ve never traveled with a one year old toddler before, and the last travels that we had with the baby, she was a baby. She was six months old. Or maybe less. Yeah, she was six months old, it was seven months ago. So a very, very different child. And that last trip we had was awful. And when I say awful, I mean awful awful. If you don’t believe me, there is a podcast episode called “The Flight From Hell,” and anytime you ever hear a parent say, “We had the worst flight,” you can go, “Mmm, you know what? Yoga Girl had a worse flight. You should listen to that podcast episode,” because I have yet to meet a person to top this story. It was just literally the absolute worst.
[003:22] I’m a little bit traumatized and a little bit terrified of traveling since then, and that’s why we decided to just cut down on it completely and not be so crazy. We haven’t traveled for seven whole months, which is a really long time. It’s the longest time I’ve been in one place since, I don’t know, since I was 18 or 19 maybe. A decade. It’s pretty wild that we’ve been in one place for so long.
[003:45] It’s also pretty amazing to be in one place and to set roots. At least coming from someone like me who’s just I spent the bigger part of my life traveling the world and going from place to place and kind of exploring different countries, and changing relationships and making new friends. It’s been a little whirlwind of a decade that I’ve had. So being just in one spot, for me, has been a really, really healing thing.
[004:08] And now, you know, taking this trip, we’re going to be in Europe now for two and a half months, almost three months. So it’s a really big trip. We’re beginning here in south of Spain for something I can finally reveal, because this … I’m recording this, it’s Wednesday, and this podcast, as usual, will be out on a Friday. And tomorrow, Thursday, my best friend in the whole world, Olivia, her bachelorette begins here in Marbella tomorrow. We’ve been planning this for a really, really long time. I’m her maid of honor, and all of her bridesmaids, we planned this kind of crazy trip. It’s kind of sort of crazy to go to Spain for a bachelorette, we are realizing now. It was a really grand, super fun idea to come here because the wedding is taking place in France, a lot of people have flown into south of Europe anyway to be here for the wedding, which is just in two weeks. Daniella and Olivia and me, so two of my oldest friends, we used to go to Marbella, to Spain, all the time when we were really young, when we were young teenagers, because my Dad lives here half of the year. He’s here right now, he lives here about six months out of the year. So we would go visit him anytime we could, and we would do all sorts of insane things, like get wasted, drunk with people we didn’t know, and dance on the bar, and just be all around crazy, the way 15 and 16 year olds are.
[005:33] So, coming back now as mothers and as adults and experiencing what’s pretty much, like, not a lot has changed. Okay, some things of course have changed, but I was just down in this kind of harbor area where we used to party all the time, and it looks the same. It’s like I’m in a time warp. I’m walking there with my stroller and I’m like, “Oh my god, I think I was in like a miniskirt on that bar with someone pouring tequila down my throat at some point?” Like, I had some really intense party weeks here when I was young. We would go here every single summer, every holiday, sometimes long weekends. So we have a lot of memories here. And coming back for a bachelorette, it’s just a really fun idea. And she has no clue. I hope she has no clue … I don’t know. I mean, maybe she’s outsmarted us. We’ve left little hints for other things, and we’ve made her do some really silly challenges. Yeah, we’ll see what happens. But tomorrow we’re going to be 12 girls who are going to do the bachelorette here for over four days, and tomorrow a big group of the girls fly in, and we rented a little house here, and I’m going to be away from the baby for three days, or for four days, for this shred, and we have all sorts of fun things planned. Like, we have a spa day and we’re going to go out on a boat and eat paella and hike a mountain and do all of these fun Spanish things, which is really, really exciting. So that’s actually why we are in Spain right now. A lot of people have asked, “How come you’re in Spain? Are you on vacation?” So yeah, it’s a semi-vacation, but mostly we’ve chosen to be here because of the bachelorette.
[007:06] My dad is here, which is very interesting. Whenever, in social media, I show pictures of his kids, of his sister and my brother, people get really confused because my dad is … he’s going to turn 54 this year, and he has a little girl who is almost 15 months, and he has a boy that’s turning 3 soon. So yeah, he basically has a girl the same age as Lea Luna … who I can hear in the monitor right now! Okay, I’m alone in this house … (laugh) Maybe you couldn’t hear the birdsong, but I’m pretty sure you can hear this monitor. I’m alone in this house right now. We rented a little house here really close by, close to my dad, and I sort of kicked Dennis out of the house to go get some food so I could record the podcast, but I’m alone with baby. So if the baby cries, you know exactly who it is!
[007:53] Speaking of baby, okay, this is … I feel like we need to talk about this. People never told me anything about traveling with children. When people, you know, before I was pregnant, before I entered parenthood and motherhood and this whole new phase in life, I never, not once, considered traveling with a child, with a baby, as a challenge. It wasn’t part of my list of challenges that I thought I would have to overcome or learn about. You know, of course I knew giving birth would be really hard, and I didn’t know if breastfeeding would be challenging or not, because I have some friends it came really easy to them and some friends who really struggle. Then I immediately went into, like, okay, well you’d be worried if something would happen to your baby. Then I was thinking about things like bullying, what do you know if they’re in school if someone is mean to them, and how do you handle that sort of stuff? I’ve had these thoughts in my head of, okay, what would be my challenges as a mom in hard moments? But traveling just was not on that list, at all.
[008:57] I think I’ve figured out why. (laugh) Okay, parents out there, correct me if I’m wrong, but the horror of traveling with a child is just so immense that I would never talk about this with a person who doesn’t have a kid, because it would fully deter them from ever wanting to have children. I don’t know, I feel like, to me, traveling with her … and I’m not even joking, it’s harder than giving birth. I swear to God, traveling with her is harder than giving birth. It’s just, it’s so frustratingly stressful and painfully difficult that I don’t really want to talk about it with anybody. I just want to package it away and put a little label on it that says, “Things we’ve been through that we don’t talk about,” and put it in a box, and then not look at it again until, inevitably, we have our next trip. Because this shit is fucking horrifying. Oh my god.
[009:55] I sort of wish I had a little bit of heads up from people. When I’ve asked other people, “What is it like to travel with a baby?” In the beginning, she was really little and they said … our first trip she was two months, two and a half months, we flew Aruba to Sweden, which is a really big trip. It’s like a 20 something hour trip as a whole. And people just said, “Oh, you know, she’s so tiny, it’s going to be really, really easy. She just wants to sleep and eat and nothing else. So, you know, you’ll maybe have like a poop explosion would be the worst thing that happens, then you just clean the baby up, you know, because of pressure or whatever. So, we were all excited for this trip and knew we were going to have this baby, because she never really cried, she’s been a very happy baby all along. So we just thought, “Okay, we have this little … the plane is dark and there’s this kind of white noise created by planes.” I feel like, for some people at least, it’s easy to sleep on planes. Whenever the plane takes off, my husband passes out, and he can literally sleep … like, he can fall asleep as we depart, as the plane lifts off the ground, and then he’ll wake up as we touch the ground again. It doesn’t really matter how many hours are in between. If it’s a ten hour flight, like the flight we take Aruba to Amsterdam, or if it’s a two hour flight going to Florida or something, he just sleeps.
[011:05] Me, on the other hand, I cannot sleep on the plane, like, no matter what. Really, really, really. Even in the best of circumstances, like see I’m traveling business class and I can lie all the way down, flat like a bed, and they have a sleep mask and I have lavender oil with me, and I have little herbal supplements that I take to help relax and to help you sleep. Maybe I have a glass of wine. I do everything I can to wind down, and then I have a little pillow. It’s like this perfect circumstance that very rarely happens when you travel. But say even on those moments, because I have had those moments where everything is just perfect for sleep, I still cannot go to sleep. I just … I just can’t. Maybe I’ll doze off for thirty minutes or something, but I’m just not a sleeper. Same for trains or boats or traveling by car or bus. I can’t sleep anywhere. I’m not one of those easy to sleep people. But I was thinking, because the baby is a baby, that would be really easy for her, and everybody told, “Oh, you’re so lucky you’re traveling at this age, because it’s the best age to travel.”
[012:07] So, we were very optimistic, boarded our plane with our tiny little baby. We had eight or nine spare outfits for her in case we had a poop thing happen or whatever. We board the plane and she literally went berserk. Like, she lost her goddamn mind, immediately! It was like, we boarded this plane, and she looked around, sort of … She could barely hold her head up. She was tiny. She was like, “What the fuck is this?” Like, a metal tube going in the air, you know, like the moment we boarded the plane, she just objected and started crying. And she cried pretty much the whole trip. We could not get her to fall asleep. She would barely eat, she wouldn’t calm down. It was like, just the mere idea of being on a plane or being trapped in the space just made her totally nuts. It was awful. Of course, the more she cried, and I was in the beginning really nervous about other people on the plane and disturbing them and all of this stuff, and then I think 45 minutes in I was like, “Fuck all of you guys! If you don’t have a screaming baby in your arms, you’re good.” Like, anyone who looks down or gives a stink eye to a parent with a crying baby or a challenging moment with a baby on a plane, there’s a special place in hell for each of those people, I swear to god. And I had a few of those, like, on those first flights that we ever had, where someone would look at me and kind of roll their eyes, and like, “Oh my god can you shut your baby up,” you know? No one said it to me directly, but I could just kind of tell, it’s like, yeah … because you’re boarding a plane, you want to sleep at night, and there’s a crying baby. Of course, it’s not fun for anyone. But if it’s hard for you to relax, because someone else has a crying baby on the plane, can you just put yourself in the shoes of the parent?! I mean, the stress is like … just talking about this now, I can kind of feel like, my body, I feel icky like I don’t even want to think about it because it’s so awful.
[013:57] Anyway, after that first flight we made it to Sweden, we had a lot of months in Sweden, I think three months in Sweden, and then we were traveling back. We went back and forth I think four times, or four of those long hauls we had. And each time, because she got a little older, people would tell us, “Okay, well, the next one will be even easier,” because then she was like four months. And the next one was even more awful. And then they said, “Well the next one will be easier because she’s six months.” At six months she kind of gets more things and you can communicate with her a little easier. I tell you, I’m not even kidding you, each flight we’ve had with this little angel has been worth than the one before. That’s just what it is. She’s been on 18 flights, no 19 with this one. 19 flights, they have all been hell. They have all been so fucked up, I can’t even tell you. One of them, which was the second to last big haul across the Atlantic included major diarrhea poop explosions from both her and the dog, Ringo. So, if you haven’t heard that podcast episode, feel free to just click pause right now and just venture back to “The Flight From Hell.” It’s the highest rated podcast I have, which I think is just so hilarious, because so many of my podcast episodes, you know, I talk about deep stuff, and I talk about overcoming adversity or spirituality or making peace with the past or self-love. I have these big, serious topics. And then I have this one podcast that’s just about poop, and everybody loves it. It’s the highest rated podcast, the highest downloaded podcast of all the podcasts. (laugh) And I think because it’s frickin’ hilarious. Now I can tell the story just laugh. I couldn’t tell the story and laugh now, because now I’m traumatized by this last flight we had. But normally I can tell that story and laugh, because it’s like too ridiculous to even be true, but yeah, it’s all true.
[015:47] Anyway, we didn’t fly, we had all of those horrible flights, we didn’t fly with her, travel with her anywhere for seven months. We even had a little trip, Dennis went to do an Ironman two weeks ago, and it’s just a two hour flight to Florida, and it would have been really nice just to go there and root on Dennis for this race, and we could have had a little mini vacation, but just the idea of putting her on a plane for two hours, I was like, “Nothing is … it’s just not worthy it. We’ll stay home, we’ll prepare for this big flight we have going to Spain.”
[016:15] Now people told us, “Okay, well now she’s 13 months. It’s a different challenge. She’s not going to cry all night like she did when she was tiny little baby, but you know she’s never still, so she’s going to want to run up and down the plane and you’re going to have to chase her and all of this stuff, but just entertain her. Bring in an iPad and stock it up with a bunch of stuff, and bring new toys that she hasn’t seen before, and bring this and snacks …” We got so much advice. I managed to book a seat that had extra leg space because I really wasn’t able to figure out, like, they gave you a bassinette, like a little bassinette thing for a baby, but it’s only up until six months or something, or ten kilos, or whatever. Then after that you still, like, you’re not required to have a seat for the baby until the baby is two. So there’s that, like, one year gap where your baby doesn’t have his or her own seat, but also cannot lie in the bassinette. So it’s like, “Where the hell does the baby sleep?” I couldn’t figure it out! I’m going to hold her for ten hours and just hope that that works out? What the hell am I going to do? I just didn’t know. People were telling me, “You can bring a car seat and bye an extra seat on the plane,” and I’m like, “We can’t afford that. That’s insane. I’m dreading just her turning two, how are we going to afford to fly anywhere?” Just a third seat, it’s crazy. People with more kids, how do you afford to travel? Like, that shit is insane. So no, I’m already dreading that, like, “No, we can’t afford that.”
[017:41] But, you know, so I decided, “Okay, I’m going to make a tent area for her on the floor in the corner,” so I bought a bunch of extra blankets. I brought a roll of duct tape (laugh) like a crazy person. Dennis was scared we were going to be stopped in customs because he’s like, “Duct tape is like what you use to like … as a terrorist to take over the plane.” I’m like, “What do they think I’m going to do with duct tape? Use it as a weapon? No.” Anyway, no one stopped me, I brought duct tape. And I kind of had this idea because she’s such a good sleeper now, she sleeps 12 or 13 hours. On the clock, same shit, everyday, she sleeps seven to seven, pretty much. Seven to seven or seven to seven-thirty. Like, that’s her time. And she sleeps the whole night through.
[018:24] I thought, okay, because the plane was the perfect time, we were departing around six. I thought, “Okay, well we’ll get on the plane, we’ll make this cozy area, we’ll do our whole sleep routine where she eats her oatmeal and then we put on our PJs, and then we sing and we read and then she should get tired, and then we bounce her a little bit, and then we put her to bed.” Yeah, that just did not happen. Even a tiny little bit. There was a moment where we thought, “Okay, maybe this is going to work out,” where she got really tired and you could kind of tell. But the same thing happened as when she was really tiny. It’s like, we board the plane and she looked around, and then she looked at me like, “What the hell kind of bull shit is this? I did not sign up for this! What is this, where am I? Where’s outside?” She just does not want to be in the plane. And we stopped briefly in Bonaire to refuel or something, and they opened the doors. She literally, like, kept running up to the door and tried to claw her way out to freedom. Like, she just saw the sky outside, just wanted to leave, the whole time. Like, no. She hates it so much!
[019:32] Then she fell asleep, like, briefly right after dinner. Like, briefly. Then I thought, “Okay, well wait. Maybe she’ll sleep for the night now, and then we’ll have a whole night, and then I can maybe try and get some sleep,” and all of this stuff. We managed to put her in this little area on the floor that we made. The thing is, like, I don’t know who is in charge of building these plans, and I understand probably like 90% of plane architecture or plane design is safety and all of that bull shit, yeah, I get that. But did no one ever consider the fact that there’s, like, babies that are going to want to sleep on the plane? Why are there fluorescent lights, like, in your face the whole time?! Why isn’t there an option where you can kind of section off the bright, horrible lighting and just chose, like, “Okay, hey, I have a 13 month old that just fell asleep. I don’t want to have, like, a flashlight in her face!” If she wakes up a little bit she goes like, “What the hell? Why is it so bright? What’s all this stuff?” You know? I feel like there should be an easy fix there. I don’t know. I want to invent, like, a little device where you can just kind of block your own seating area in, like a little tent, you know? There must be some smart engineer person … Oh here she is. Oh baby. Okay, I will be right back.
[022:14] Okay, so there must be some sort of, like, smart engineer person out there who can just invent a train tent for families traveling with young children, you know? Like, even just a little tent for just one seat, or for like a little corner on the floor that you could just kind of zip up somehow. Anybody listening, I would love to support this idea. If you make it happen I’ll, you know, free marketing through social media if you invent this thing for me. I swear. My mom was like, “You should bring like a cardboard box so that when she falls asleep on the floor you can cover her face with it, but she can still breathe, so it’s not like a blanket in her face, so that when the lights are on and all of that stuff, it stays dark for her.” And I was like, “Okay, that sounds insane. I’m not going to travel with a giant cardboard box.” Then I was on that plane, and she’s lying there on the floor, but the lights are so bright, and she doesn’t sleep well in daytime lighting and all of this stuff. And these lights are just insane. And I was just staring at her, I’m like, “Oh my god, she’s just going to … The moment she just flutters her eyes a little bit, it’s over.” And yeah, of course that’s exactly what happened. And she woke up, but then she was like one sleep cycle into a night’s sleep, so she didn’t wake up like, “Oh, hey, what’s up you guys?” She woke up screaming like she was dying. Like screaming torture. And was so sad, so tired, overtired by then, because it’s already like two hours past her normal bedtime, and that moment was like the beginning of … we had nine hours to go on this flight. And she didn’t mellow out once. We had nine hours left, and she basically went between crying, just completely crying … She was in full on despair. She was so distraught of the whole situation. Her eyes were red, she’s rubbing her eyes, she’s just trying to sleep, trying to sleep. She couldn’t put herself to sleep.
[024:11] So she went over that hump of just tiredness, you know, they become so tired that it’s impossible for them to drop into sleep, and she spent the entire night awake, crying, sad. Then she got really hyper and in the middle of the night, like, four in the morning, she just stood up and started clapping her hands and looked around the cabin, like, laughing, you know? Like hysterical laughing. And it wasn’t funny, it was so fucking sad. It was horrible and awful. At one point Dennis was like, “Okay, I’m going to just strap her in to my seatbelt. She’s crying anyway. Just like hold her down and let her cry until she just surrenders, because this shit is not working.” So, he did that, and that was horrible, horrible horrible. I saw people in the cabin kind of look around and like what are we doing to this poor baby. Then finally she like … she just gave up I guess. But she still didn’t fall asleep. She just kind of laid on his lap, holding her little lovie, just staring out into nothing. It was so fucking horrible. Then, of course, thirty minutes before we’re about to land, yeah, she falls asleep. (laugh) And then, you know by then she’s been up forever and it’s just everything is forked, and no. No no. It was so intense and so bad. Everything was horrible.
[025:35] Then we get to Amsterdam and it was just, yeah, it just went from bad to worse to a little bit worse, and then we had five hours in Amsterdam, and then we had another three hour flight to get to Spain, and then an hour drive to get to where we were going. We were like two thirds of the way, but we still had a really long way to go. So by the time we arrived and we actually made it to the house, both Dennis and I were like shaking. It’s like our nerves are like completely shot. No matter what you do, you just can’t relax. Has anybody had that feeling of just you’re so wired and tired, and I had been up for, I don’t even know, thirty something crazy hours. It’s not just being awake. Like, if I was alone on a flight and I was just awake and couldn’t sleep, that would be different. But just awake with this high strung tension and stress, and then my heart is breaking for her because I know she’s suffering. She just wants to sleep, but she can’t, so she’s suffering. I can’t explain to her, like, honey I’m sorry we’re traveling … She doesn’t understand, like, we’re going to see grandpa and grandma and Olivia and Patrick and Hunter, and like, you know, family and friends. There was a point in this. Or there was turbulence at one point, and she had to be in the seat, but she’s kicking and screaming, I can’t explain to her, like she doesn’t understand, if there’s turbulence we have to sit down.
[026:52] So I’m really longing for her to be like, I don’t know, a year or two older. I don’t know, how old are people when they understand that sort of stuff? I’m thinking, like, three at least? Probably not a year from now. Maybe two years from now, where I can simply explain things to her, hopefully. I’m kind of longing for that time. But I just decided, until then, we’re not fucking going anywhere. I kid you not, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. No matter the trip, no matter the destination or the amazing adventure or whatever, occasion, that awaits us, those 24 hours of just complete madness and anxiety, it’s not worth it. It’s not. It’s just, it’s absolutely not.
[027:36] There was one point during the flight where just me and Dennis are just like looking at each other like, “Oh my god, it’s everything we hoped it wouldn’t be and worse.” It was so horrible. Then he looked at me, he’s like, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” And I was thinking, like, “We never travel again.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m thinking what you’re thinking.” And he’s like, “Okay, so, vasectomy?” (laugh) Meaning like no other babies. This is it. It ends here. No more. I was just kind of like, “Yeah, I would be fine with that. I don’t think we’re going to do this again.” The thought of doing this with two children?! Imagine having that, like, two month old, that tiny baby, and then a toddler? Like, oh my god. My mind just fucking explodes.
[028:21] This is the thing though. I feel like people get recognized for amazing feats all the time. You know, if you do something amazing, you know, people win the Nobel Prize for different reasons, people climb Mount Everest, like Dennis, he runs like an Ironman for whatever. People get a lot of praise and applause and are seen in society as these amazing people for overcoming things or for accomplishing things. Why is there no award for mothers and fathers on red-eye flights with toddlers? Seriously, for people that do this and that do this more than once, or that do this and don’t have a complete fucking meltdown, like, I fully understand. I do a lot of yoga, I meditate, I work on myself, I’m super into personal development. I live with my own shit, I’m very aware of my own faults, I do a lot of work, and I like to believe that I’m a fairly conscious person. I can just imagine if I was in a bad place in my life, like if shit was going down or I was about to lose my job, or if I was sick, or whatever, if I just wasn’t in a good place, there is no fucking way I could manage a flight like that. It’s just not possible. I completely understand parents who just snap, who fully, fully snap. And I remember before motherhood, I had a few moments where I saw a parent do something that I thought was completely inappropriate, like I saw a mother once snap at her child and like just lost it and kind of yelled at her baby in the grocery store, and I remember telling whoever it was, like, “Oh my god, did you see that mother abuse her child? She snapped at her baby!” Are you kidding me?! I fully … okay, first that’s horrible, I’m not saying you should go snap at your kids, but it’s completely understandable. Like, you don’t know what everybody else is going through. No one knows the battles that everybody else fights. So, of course, I could in my 21 year old self be like, “Oh my god, when I’m a mom I’m going to be peaceful all the time and I’m going to communicate with my child, and I’m not going to say no, I’m not going to snap.” … There is a limit to what a human being can manage. I kid you not. I have full understanding, full support for every single parent out there. We’re all just trying our fucking best, I swear.
[030:45] I had asked through social media for some advice from other parents, like what do I do for this long flight with a toddler who is really active? A bunch of people wrote me, like, “Benadryl. Melatonin.” You know? There’s over the counter medication you can give your baby, for them to mellow out before the flight.” I was like, “Dennis! People are telling me to drug the baby!” He was like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Well, like, Benadryl, it’s allergy medication, but it makes you all, like, drowsy and tired and stuff.” He’s like, “What? That sounds kind of insane.” Dude, if I would have had some Benadryl mid-flight, oh my god. (laugh) It’s kind of like before giving birth, how I was like, “Oh, no no no, I would never want an epidural, I would never want medication, I want it to be all natural and all Zen, and I’m going to meditate my baby out,” and then hour 22 I’m like, “WHERE IS THE FUCKING EPIDURAL? Someone give me a C-Section! Someone cut this baby out! I don’t want to do this anymore!” (laugh) You know? You don’t know what lengths you’ll go to just for peace, or for a moment of relief until you’re in the eye of the storm. It’s just what it is.
[032:04] It’s really easy to be holier than thou and to have all of these ideas and judgments toward other parents, and kind of, “I’m going to do it this way because this is the better way and the right way, blah blah blah.” No! You know what? Sometimes, especially as parents, we’re just trying to fucking survive the moment. I don’t know, I’m so humbled by this, I think that’s just kind of the consensus of all of this. I’m so humbled by parenthood. I’m humbled by the fact that people do this every day. I don’t know, I feel like … and I also understand now why another thing I said before having the baby, it’s like, “Well I don’t want to be one of those parents where you lose touch with the friends you had before who don’t have babies. You know, we really have to work really hard to stay as close as we were with our friends before and the friends that don’t have kids, and of course it’s going to all be the same.” Like, when you fight these types of battles, and this is just the reality of what your life is, it’s really hard to connect to other levels of problems. I don’t know. And I feel kind of like a bitch saying this. All of my friends listening, it’s not like I don’t care about your problems if you don’t have babies, it’s just when I’m in that moment of being really tired because she’s not sleeping, or she’s sick, or I’m worried, or shit is going down or I’m on trip like this, or whatever, and then I’ll have a single friend who is like, “Oh, you know, that guy didn’t call me back.” And I’m like, “Tell me about your life problems. Please, please, please tell me about how hard it is that that cute guy you met at the coffee place hasn’t called you in one day. (laugh) Let me tell you this story of how I flew to Spain!” But, of course, it’s completely impossible to have that conversation, and you can’t diminish someone else’s problems just because, you know … But I’m realizing now there’s a reason why people with kids gravitate, friendship-wise, towards other people with kids, because it’s just a whole different perspective. It’s just, yeah. A
[033:58] People said, “I wish I didn’t take for granted what life was before children,” all of that. I don’t feel that way. I feel like I did a pretty good job enjoying life and all of this. The weird thing is that no matter how hard the hard moments are, like, I can’t even say like, “Oh it’s all worth it.” It’s worth it times a billion. I wouldn’t even trade it for anything, that’s the thing. I love her so fucking much. She gives me so much joy and purpose and meaning. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I cannot imagine my life without her. And that’s also a concept that’s really hard to explain. I tried to have this explained to me before Lea Luna was born, and I just couldn’t get it, and now it’s like, hey, I can actually go through these things, I can do hard things, I can record a podcast with baby crying in the background. Oh, she’s so jet lagged! I will be right back, again.
[036:53] We can do hard things. I mean, I would do this over and over, again and again. I will do this over and over, again and again. That’s how great the love is. So, it’s just, yeah. It’s kind of mind-blowing to me that this is just what parenthood is. I don’t know if we should speak more about it or less about it, because I don’t want anyone out there who don’t have children yet to feel like oh my god I could never do that. So yeah, it’s kind of wild.
[037:25] But when we finally arrived, you know, we had a challenging time settling in, and in the end I ended up sleeping with the baby in bed, which we haven’t done in a really long time, because she loves her space and she loves to sleep in her own room. She slept on top of me for like 14 hours. We had the longest, best night’s sleep ever. Then it was noon, we woke up, it took the whole next day of being here, you know, we went to get groceries and oriented ourselves a little bit. It’s a beautiful house here that we’re renting. I saw my dad and family and stuff. And also interesting, which is like super weird, because the last two podcasts that I’ve recorded have both been about pain, with very different outcomes. The first one, two weeks ago, was about that I’m kind of surrendering to the idea that I have a lot of upper back and neck pain, and I’m going to let it be and let it be here. And then the podcast last week was like, “Enough if enough! I’m not going to live this way. It is what it is, but it shouldn’t be this way!” So, I kind of, you know, took matters into my own hands. Which I should have done a really long time ago and decided that it’s not normal for me to have this sort of back pain again and again. Actually, through that I got a lot of clarity.
[038:33] Lara Heimann, who was my guest on last week’s show, she figured out that I actually had something totally out of alignment in my thoracic spine, my upper mid-back. She did kind of a major, very soft, but a major adjustment of my spine, T1 and T2, and since then I’ve felt remarkably different. I’m kind of … I don’t know, I’m almost like, “Oh my god, what if all of this pain came from this one accident I had eight years ago, and something has been out of whack for that long. Is that possible, and that’s why this pain comes again and again and again?” So I’m kind of like, maybe that was that. But then also I have this amazing naprapath, I don’t know, if you’re in the U.S., you don’t know what what naprapath, it’s like the school of naprapathy, it’s not naturopath, but it’s something different. It’s like functional movement combined with little bits of acupuncture and chiro. I don’t know, I should have my naprapath show us on the show, actually, to talk a little bit more about this. But I decided that he’s going to come to Spain, and I’m going to spend eight days with him here, and he’s going to overhaul, basically, my body. That’s what I decided. And I decided that in the midst of pain. So a very crazy decision, because we’re here for this vacation with the baby and Dennis and I, and then I’m inviting this guy to come for an intensive, like, boot camp to heal me, or to help support my healing and my movement and my alignment.
[040:02] Then I forgot about that, so then he’s here and he’s like, “Okay, okay, we have the first session this and that time,” and I was like, “Oh my god, okay.” And it’s six hours a day. (laugh) Okay, we should stop and digest that. I have, for eight days straight, six hours a day, I’m working with him. Meaning that we’re in training. It’s training and it’s movements and it’s stretches and it’s also, like, adjustments. Miofascial work and massage, it’s all of this stuff combined into one, for six hours a day. How crazy am I to say, “Yeah, that’ll be no problem with a baby and a husband and a life and a business.” So we had our first session, and it was three hours. I felt so good after that, and I took a shower and I put on a dress. And randomly, because it was Dennis’ birthday today … We landed and the next day it was my dad’s girlfriend’s birthday, so they had a really since long reservation at this beautiful restaurant here. It’s a two star restaurant, they have two Michelin stars. I had never been to a restaurant that has two stars, I don’t think so anyway. They just asked, “Oh, do you want to come? We could book two more seats because they had some available.” And we’re like, “Okay,” like totally random. We decided to go and I had 15 minutes or 30 minutes to myself where I was on the balcony and I sat down and the sun was setting, and I took a breath, after this whole trip, after all of these weeks of pain, like that’s also very intense, to wake up every morning and then all day be in pain, and then go to bed and be in pain, and then have that again and again. Almost two months I’ve had in pain. And these past couple of days have been the first days where I hadn’t felt that way, where I’ve felt freer in my body and I’ve felt kind of, you know, here.
[041:47] So I sat down and I’m looking at this view, the same view that I’m looking at right now, and I’d been here for a whole day, and I hadn’t really digested that, wait, like, look at this place! Look at this valley! Look at these … everywhere, there’s flowers, right outside our door there’s a lime tree and orange tree and a lemon tree, just bursting with fruit. We’re in Spain! I was on the couch, looking out at the sea, and I took a breath, and as I exhale I can almost feel how my soul dropped back into my body. … Little angel baby! I would apologize for this, but I’m not going to, because this is what it is. I will be right back.
[044:25] So this is one of the more challenging podcasts I’ve ever recorded, interestingly enough. But that’s okay! It is what it is. What I was saying was I had that moment of, you know, after all of that time, like it was almost 48 hours after I’d started even … started traveling. I sat down and I could feel myself arriving back. I could feel my soul kind of drop back into my body. I took this breath, and with the breath was like, “Oh my god, where have I been?” Because that’s always the epiphany that comes along with coming back to the present moment. When we arrive back here, now, it always comes along with this understanding of, “I was just somewhere else,” right? Do you guys get that as well? With me it’s specifically tangible right after those moments of extreme challenge, right? After being completely full of anxiety or stressed or panic or whatever, a trip like this which was just for so long, all of that, and then I dropped back and I can kind of look around, and then I see everything is rosy and beautiful, and the whole day I hadn’t even appreciated that fact that I was in Spain, because I was still riding on this wavelength of just kind of panic and stress, right? It took me all day to even settle back. And it required three hours of moving my body. Three hours of just being with my body and breathing, and really listening to what Jonas is telling me to do, and it’s all new movement to me, so it’s just way out of my comfort zone, and all of this. And sitting down and then looking at the sky and realizing, like, “Oh my god. Here I am.” Like Ram Dass says, “Here we all are.”
[046:07] Just that moment for me came with the realization of, okay, where the hell have I been for the past 40-something hours? I haven’t been here, at all. So I look back at this trip, and even in those moments of just, you know … because there were breaks in of all of the panic and all of the intense screaming and crying and all of this stuff. There were pauses in between. There were moments were, like, you know, she watched a little bit of the Lion King. She had 40 minutes when she slept at the beginning of the plane. There were moments that were kind of okay in the midst of this nightmare, but even in those moments I was completely unable to feel grateful for them. Or to be like, “Okay, if I was just here and now, I would be in a moment of peace, because right now everything is peaceful. Maybe five minutes ago it was total panic and insanity, but now the baby is sleeping, and who knows? She might sleep for ten hours. She might wake up in 30 seconds. There’s no way for me to know that. But if I live in the idea of, “Oh my god, she’s going to wake up, she’s going to wake up, oh my god, can everybody shut the fuck up?! Can they turn the goddamn lights off in this horrid plane?!” Like, I was stressing about all of those things, anticipating all of those things that might go wrong, in which she might wake up again, and then we start all over, right? That was giving me so much anxiety in those moments as well. When truth is, you know, if I’m here now, if I’m actually present and I’m in my body and not in the mind worrying about what’s next or the stress of what was before, then everything would feel okay, really. Especially in those moments of calm Even in the moments of total craziness. When the baby is … She had several moments where she’s screaming so loud with such, yeah, like she’s screaming out of suffering, and I’m looking at her eyes and they’re just bloodshot, and she’s kind of looking at me for help. She’s just suffering. Even in those horrible moments, if I’m here right now, not in my mind with this idea of like, “Oh my god I’m traumatizing my child,” because that’s what I’m thinking, right? I’m like, “Why are we on this stupid fucking trip?” And I’m going over every reason in my mind of why we shouldn’t be here. We could have been home in our bathtub right now, in our perfect house, where everything is quiet, and we have routine, and she sleeps great. She’s so happy, and we’re dragging her here, for what?
[048:27] Even big things, like, okay my best friend is marrying Dennis’ best friend. It’s a pretty big occasion. Like, ginormous occasion. It’s a big deal. Even then, in that moment, I’m like, “This is not worth it. None of it is worth it. I’m sorry. This is just, why are we here? None of it matters. None of it is worth this.” Then I started thinking about, like, it’s going to get worse and worse, and I know we have so many hours left to go. So just the idea of like, “Oh my god, it’s so bad right now, and it’s just an hour in, and we have like 22 hours to go of this fucking trip.” You know? Of course it intensifies the stress of the moment. Instead of it just being like, “Okay, what’s happening right now? We’re on a plane, okay, I’m here, my body is here, I’m holding my baby, she’s safe, I’m safe. She’s really upset. She can’t sleep. That’s just the reality right now.” If I don’t attach anything more to it than what it actually is, then it isn’t all that bad. Yeah, it still sucks to hold a shrieking, screaming baby on a tiny airplane, of course it sucks. It’s always going to suck.
[049:25] But I think by not being there and being able to be really present in that challenging space, I’m actually making it a lot worse, right? And also, probably, she can sense that I am stressed and I am panicking, and I’m starting to get really frantic of, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, how are we going to calm her down? How are we going to get her to sleep?” And worst case scenario, like, it kind of happened! (laugh) Like, I was thinking, worst case, okay, she doesn’t sleep for the whole 24 hour trip, and she screams the whole way, and she’s just totally panicked, and we’re exhausted, and it’s horrible, and yeah, all of that happened, and I was able to sit after that and come back to my body and just feel totally grateful to be here. Like, even at the end of that, everything is okay. The fact of the matter is, it’s all okay, when I’m here. And you can apply that, I mean at least that idea, that mindset or that view of the idea of looking at life in that way, you can apply it really challenging stuff too. Because, I mean, in the big scheme of things that I have gone through that are like really horrible, a 24 hour really really bad flight with my baby, it’s not going to be what I remember on my last days of this earth. It’s not what I look back and is like, oh my god I overcame. You know? I’ve been through death, a lot of death and grief, I lost my best friend, our dog passed away, I have a mom who struggles with depression and suicide. I lost really good friends of mine. Family member with cancer. I’ve been through that was really bad. Actual life stuff that totally, totally, totally was horrible. So comparing that, like yeah, best friend died. That was shit. That flight I took to Spain to go to a bachelorette party? (laugh) Really? Do those two things compare? In the moment they sort of do, because it is like moving through this horrible, painful thing, and it’s really hard to get any sense of perspective there, when you’re in that total panic. But if you’re able to at least begin the practice of applying this idea of presence in the challenging stuff, maybe you can apply it on the really heavy things as well.
[051:40] And this is something that I was really deep in practice in whenever I was going through those heavy moments of actual heartache, right? People would tell me, “It’s all for a reason.” Isn’t that the shittiest thing to hear? Anyone who has lost a loved one, like, “It’s all for a reason.” If you’re in that moment of total despair, it’s like, “What do you mean it’s for a fucking reason?! My best friend died and you say it’s purposeful? Are you saying she was supposed to die?” It’s a really, really hard thing to grasp. Especially when you’re in that moment of total pain. But if, even in that space, if I was able to just be there, and I had a lot of those moments where actually the pain was so overwhelming and the despair was just at such a high degree that I couldn’t take it, I couldn’t live with it … That was the feeling, it’s just I can’t bear another second of this pain. I can’t take it anymore. I sort of had this surrendering happen. It wasn’t a conscious thing where like, “Okay, I’m going to surrender now and I’m going to just allow all of this to be the way it is.” It sort of happened on its own, because I think the degree of pain was that big that I had no other choice. I was like, I can’t continue to live with this big thought that I had that was in my head again and again and again was that I don’t want her to be dead. Right? That was my … I kept thinking of scenarios that just, no matter how I would twist and turn it, it would never be that way. I wished I would have called her five minutes before she got out of the car, and then maybe something would have been different. Or I should have texted her later, the last text I sent … I had all of these things that I was going over and over, if I would have done X, Y, Z, maybe she would still be alive. I just wanted her to be alive. And of course, it’s not possible. She died, she was dead. You can bang your head against the wall again and again with the same longing of something, if it’s not possible it’s not possible. No matter how badly I want it, it’s not going to change.
[053:37] So I had one of those moments where I was just like, “Oh my god, she’s dead. I have to surrender to this. There’s no possible other scenario than just accepting.” I can fight it, and fighting it actually brings more pain. Okay, a different degree of pain, but sort of how being on the plane with a shrieking, screaming baby, not accepting the situation, wishing I was somewhere else, wishing I hadn’t gone on this trip, or thinking of, “I shouldn’t be here, we shouldn’t have done this, we should be home in our bathtub.” The idea of should, that it should be different, it makes everything so much worse. It makes everything so so so so much worse. So when I had that moment of surrendering when my friend died, actually, it changed everything. The pain was, of course, still there. It’s still overwhelming, but I was able to be more present with myself in that pain.
[054:28] The feeling I had yesterday when I just sat on the couch outside and I saw the sky and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m here.” I had so many of those moments, but also in that intense pain, where I would just kind of almost like I step back and then I saw life for what it was. Life, what it was, okay it’s life without my best friend, but there’s still beauty here. I’m still breathing. I can feel my heart right now. I can feel my own inhale, my own exhale. There’s life pulsating through my body. I could look up and there was the moon and just be blown away by, like, “Oh my god, there’s the moon. It’s right there. It’s unbelievable how gorgeous this moon is, and it’s right there hanging over my head this whole time, and I didn’t see it. You know? Those moments of clarity or those moments of acceptance, of a little bit of peace in the midst of challenge, they all came when I accepted everything for what it was.
[055:21] Then I would go back into this mindset and these thoughts of, “It shouldn’t be this way, why did this happen, and how could I have changed it?” Then pain and mind stuff would come back again. But if you can learn to practice this stuff in those moments, oh my god, I think it will completely change all of our lives. Because at the end of the day, what if that’s why the universe provides us with stuff like this? And I’m making a big leap here from a horrible flight with a toddler and losing someone you love. Of course it’s a big leap, two different scenarios, but somehow that anxiety and that pain and that longing to escape the present moment, it’s very similar, right? It’s very similar. What if the universe is constantly providing us with these challenges, with these moments where everything is just so fucking hard, for us to practice this again and again and again? How can I, in this struggle, be reminded of the fact that I’m still here, my heart still beats, and not escape my body. Not escape the moment and drop into mind and drop into worry and anxiety and regret, what if I can just be here now, even in that pain?
[056:35] If we learn to do that, or we learn to take little leaps into the present moment and challenge, imagine what that would be like when everything is actually going really well? Just imagine, you know? How much time do we waste, in a regular day when everything is fine and we don’t really have any big problems, but the mind will find reasons why nothing is working all the time. I’ll have, objectively, really good days at home where the whole day my mind can be just completely occupied with that one thing that an employee of ours told me that was really rude or disrespectful. Something like that. I had something like that happen, and then all day I’m like attached to this, like, “Oh my god, this thing that that person told me that was so awful and so rude, and why would she say that?” All day. And at the end of the day I realize, wait, how much time did I spend today going over and over and over in my head this thing someone said? You know? Who cares! In the big scheme of stuff, who cares? Where have I been all day? I’ve been stuck in this mindset of, like, someone disrespected me. My ego is bruised. And because of that I was so attached to that thing that I missed out on all of these things that happened today, you know? It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining all day, I have my baby around, she smiles all the time, my husband is here asking for my attention, and I’m not present there because I was stuck with this story that happened that tomorrow, already, I had completely forgotten about it and never thought of again.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining all day, I have my baby around, she smiles all the time, my husband is here asking for my attention, and I’m not present there because I was stuck with this story that happened that tomorrow, already, I had completely forgotten about it and never thought of again.
[058:04] So how much do we do that to ourselves over and over again even when things are going fairly smooth? The mind will always look for reasons to tell you that right now is not good enough, right? You can look around right now, wherever you are in your life, listening to this podcast, listening to these words, and your mind will tell you a hundred things that should be different. Things that you should be improving on, things that could be a little bit better. Ways that you could be a better person, or more good looking, or more successful. Reasons why people in your surroundings should act different or they should be different toward you, or your relationship should be better and people should be kinder and more accepting and not act this and that way, and not talk shit, and they should respect you, blah blah blah. It’s never ending. It absolutely is never, never, never ending.
[058:48] Ultimately, I think maybe we only have one choice. Maybe this choice is just live life in that mindset, where you’re absorbed in thought, which always will mean that you’re absorbed in drama all the time. You know? That’s one way, and you might find little moments of peace in the in between, but it’s going to be like endless strings of drama all the time. It might be superficial drama, like yeah, someone said something disrespectful to you. It might be really deep drama, like someone dies. But it’s drama, and how we attach to those things in our minds makes all the difference as to how we feel in that moment, and how our life plays out.
[059:29] The other option that you have is to do your best to be here now. In that moment, when someone disrespects you at work, to be like, “Okay. How does that feel for me in my body, right now? Where does it resonate? Where does it sit? Does it have to overhaul my entire day and do I have to attach all of this judgment and negativity and labels, or should have an should not have? Can I just be here now and just accept, okay, someone said something. Right. I can accept it. I can confront them, or I can let it go.” Those are basically the options that you have. But you don’t have to make it take over your entire day and kind of change your mindset for the worse for the whole day just because someone said something. You can choose to come back and be here now, and then be here now, and then be here now. Every time you come back to that, “Oh, I’m here now,” realize what brought you out of the moment in the first place, and acknowledge that, and then go back and be here now, again and again and again.
[060:23] This practice, at least for me, because I’m very very deepen this practice in my day to day, really, in my calm day-to-day life at home, and in between stuff like when I’m with the baby and everything is great and she’s joyful and I’m so immersed, here now, and then maybe my phone rings and something happens at work, and I’m like (sigh) and then I’m pulled out of it, and then there’s a little something going on, and then I see her smiling at me, then I’m back again, you know? And then it’s also like, “Where did I go just now? I was all the way over there.” And then I’m back.
[060:55] Or, you know, I’m trying to be really conscious about my self care practice. If I’m taking a bath or I’m on my yoga mat, or I’m meditating, or I’m on the couch cuddling with my husband, can I do that and be here now? Can I do that and actually relax, and actually surrender to what the moment is? Because even in those perfect moments, there’s going to be reasons for you to pull somewhere else and to go into something else, or stress, or to pick up your phone and dive into whatever drama of the day is happening on social media. There’s always something. So to be here now, be here not. And this practice, it’s just it’s given me this undercurrent of peace and everything. This pain that I’ve felt over the past weeks has also been … it’s been like an added layer to that. Because of course it’s really challenging and really tiring to be in physical pain. But it’s been like another dimension of … I felt like I’d been really able to surrender into the pain and to be like, “Okay, I’m in pain. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to ruin my entire life because I wake up in the morning and I have physical pain. I could still have a really good day. I could still be here. I can still move my body. I can still be grateful for all of the things I have that work. I don’t have to let this physical pain take over everything.
[062:05] After having lived, I feel like, a lot of months in this way, with this undercurrent of peace, for me to be completely yanked out of that for two days, for like 40 something hours, with this flight, and not at all … I was really looking back at the whole trip that we had here, I don’t think I had a single moment where I just closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was so hard for me. This whole trip was so hard. And I know a reason it was so hard is because I wasn’t there. I just lived in this stress. I was just on the vibration of stress, the whole time. And I just, I wasn’t able. If I would have been able to drop into peace, hell yes, I would have dropped into peace. But I don’t think I even had that consciousness of like, “Hey, what’s going on right now? How can I come back home?” It didn’t even occur to me until I sat down on the couch last night, here. So it’s just a really big eye-opening thing of … I don’t want to live that way! I really don’t want to live that way. So my options are either do I orchestrate my life in a way that allows for more peace, so meaning less travel, less big things, less crazy stuff? Or, do I practice more being in peace in those moments of struggle?
[063:25] And I’m actually thinking that it’s a merge of the two, you know? I could, like, lock myself in my house and try to create this cushioned life and just practice peace in a peaceful environment. I don’t think it’s going to help me grow all that much. It’s important to do that, and then we practice it when things were good, because it sets us up for success when things were not. But I think it’s actually … it’s really a merge of both. Allowing the current of life to take you on these high highs and low lows, and go with it, you know? Immerse yourself in the challenging stuff too. Go into the stress when it’s there, and then come back, right? It’s that, and then also setting ourselves up for success. Making sure that we have a good a balance between work and play and that we rest and we take care of ourselves and that we practice self care, and all of these things merged into one.
[064:14] Also, when things don’t go our way and we have this insane thing, you know, two days happen like I have, not attach to that either, and just be like, “Okay, that was, and now I’m here.” So I let that go. (deep breath) Isn’t it beautiful, life? This constant learning, learning, learning, learning, learning, learning, learning. I feel really grateful that I am presented with so many ways to learn, right? So many new ways. If there’s one thing that has taught me … two things that have taught me the most about life, it’s death and parenthood. Really, really, really. It’s birth and life, death and birth, all wrapped into one. So it’s these two big contrasts, and somehow we make our space, we life right in the middle of the two.
[065:02] If you are going through something right now that is challenging, whether it’s on this very deep level of despair and grief and intense pain, or if it’s, yeah, like normal day-to-day parenthood stuff, or if it’s like work challenges. Wherever you are on the spectrum of challenge, be here now. Be here in this. Really, sit down and just acknowledge the space you’re in, and try to be present in the challenge and see, what’s the learning, right? How can I make this a practice? A practice of returning and coming back home again and again and again, and not let my mind take me so far into drama that I completely lose sight of why I’m here, and of the learning that’s taking place, right here, right now. Because if you’re going through something, it means you’re going somewhere, right? Isn’t that the most beautiful thing?
[065:51] Thank you so much for tuning in with me today. As always, I’m so grateful to share with you every single week. I will see you next Friday!
[End of Episode]
Fully – fully.com/yogagirl
Felix Gray – felixgrayglasses.com/yogagirl
Audible – audible.com/yogagirl
Four Sigmatic – foursigmatic.com/yogagirl