One Cup of "Peace and Quiet To-Go" Please

Many years ago my step-dad built a cabin in the woods on a cliff overlooking the water.  Driving down the dirt road you could only hear the tires on the gravel and the wind rustling through the trees.  Anyone who slept there would claim it as the best night of sleep and would sleep in later than normal. The silence of the woods had the most amazing calming effect, boosting everyone’s spirit.

When I lived in Tokyo, I would take a train to the country on my days off, escaping the noise, pollution and people.  Seeing the green trees would transport me to a place of calm, an awareness of how stressed I was living in a crowded city miles and miles away from my native Pacific Northwest.

This morning a mom offered to take my son, and the two boys I watch every Thursday for a couple of hours.  She drove off with a car full of five boys, leaving me with a new plan.  I would absorb the silence, fill my cup with self-care, instead of emptying my cup with housework.  The house is unusually quiet and I feel myself settling into this gift, aware of how much I need silence.

Sometimes all we need to re-charge is a cup of silence.  We may not be able to drive to the woods, hop on a train to the country or send our children away, but we may get five minutes to sit in silence.  Let me re-phrase, we may get the opportunity to create five minutes of silence.  I could have ignored the gift and filled this time with stuff that doesn’t replenish my soul.

What would happen if you turned off the radio, I-pod, television, telephone ringer and just sat in the silence?

Would you feel guilty?  Want to quickly fill that void with noise?

You may very well have difficulty embracing the silence at first.  You may feel completely weird and uncomfortable.  On the flip side you may eat it up and be transformed to a state of calm.

You won’t know until you try now will you?

by J.G. McGlothern

Holding Out Your Cup

In yoga the other day the instructor said to us as we lay on our backs in the resting pose, Now just receive…lots of benefits from this resting place.  They make it sound so simple, so natural.  Just receive.

Instead of just receiving we as parents, women, human beings fix, control, analyze, doubt, agonize over, get all guilty and make it oh so complicated.

When was the last time you received a compliment without going into a long excuse or explanation instead of just saying thank you?

I see these little gifts as moments of opportunity for a free re-fill.

When my husband says, You look good or a friend says, I like that idea I am going to practice simply saying thank you and receiving the benefits of being acknowledged and appreciated.

When was the last time you received the gift of time and filled it with busyness?

I also see these moments of opportunity, a time to hold out your cup for a free re-fill.

When my kids are sleeping, like now, I am going to seize the moment and exercise, write, breathe, rest and reap the benefits, standing strong with a full cup.

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

SHOULDs don’t usually fill ones cup. I will be as bold to say, If you think you SHOULD do it and your heart is not in it then it ain’t fillin’ your cup sista.

I learned something last week that was life giving. I learned that if you decide to do something in consolation, meaning when you are in a good place and decide to back out of it when you are in desolation, meaning not in a good mind set you ain’t doin’ anyone any favors.

Last Saturday during my hot yoga class I vowed to myself to come back on Sunday. It was going to be my church. I was having a great session, noticing the benefits, my body, mind and spirit singing and connected, that I wanted to come back on Sunday.

Well, on Sunday, home with the family, having a wonderful quiet morning, bonding not rushing off to church I felt like I SHOULD stay home. We were gelling as a family. I felt guilty about leaving them to go to yoga. I felt guilty about my decision to take care of my soul, my body, myself.

After polling the family…they were cool with me leaving, so I went. And backing out of the driveway, I remembered what I read a few days earlier, When you are in desolation, don’t go back on decisions you made in consolation. In other words, never back out of something you decide to do when you are in a good place just because in the moment you are in a bad place.

I was so grateful I stuck to my guns, instead of staying home with the family because I felt I SHOULD. We had a great rest of the day together when I returned. I was able to be more present for them because I had filled my cup spiritually and physically.

That's Not What I Ordered

Many of us know intuitively what we need to refill our empty cup: a run around the lake, a weekend without children, to watch a favorite TV show uninterrupted, a pedicure, lunch with a friend, Sunday worship.

I am in the middle of a throat virus. I am tired, low in energy and need 800 mg of ibuprofen to swallow without wanting to cry. Although I may think I need lunch with a friend, a weekend away, or a run around the lake to fill my cup, my body has another plan. Rest, liquids, moving slowly. Honey, lemon and quiet contemplation.

For over a month doctors and physical therapists are working with me to figure out my ankle issues. Shooting pain up my leg that I didn’t ask for. I don’t want to do my stretches and wear the brace…I want to go for a run around the lake.

We have all been there. That place of impatience wanting our present condition to be over with. Well, sister it is your gift to give yourself permission to not do and to just be. Yes, you didn’t ask for it but baby you needed it. So there.

The Cup by J.G. McGlothern

What is this cup I speak of anyways? I have been using the expression, “My cup is empty or full” or “Damn, My cup needs filling: for some time now. Many of us use the expression. This idea, this expression has moved me to starting a business around it and now a new blog. So what is THE CUP?

For me, my cup is my soul. My essence. My being. My source. When I don’t tend to the cup or I have used up all the good in it, I am drained, bitter, angry, confused, hungry … empty.

Since becoming a parent it has taken me awhile to figure out what fills my cup. My needs have definitely changed since my kids were wee little ones. When our first child, my sweet bird daughter was a baby, caring for her filled my cup. Watching her every move filled me to overflowing. Now that our children are 8 and 5 ½ my needs have shifted along with theirs, often pulling us apart.

So that the gap doesn’t get too wide to reach across I need to care for my cup, nurture it, love it just as much as I love and care for our children.

My cup holds my heart, my passions, my yearnings, that still small voice. And when I am too drained or busy to tend to my cup the whole family falls apart.

Nothing makes me sadder than to hear a friend say they feel too guilty to do something for them self. Too tired to follow their heart, too busy to listen to the voice inside. That is when we need to take a breath, a deep long breath and ask the question how can I get a re-fill?

I am learning it doesn’t take much to refuel your soul. And it is different for everyone. I need a walk, a few moments of silence, some music, to read something that spins my brain waves or a connection with a friend. Others need a workout at the gym, to volunteer, a bubble bath, or a drive to Starbucks.

Our needs can change but I know for sure even if we don’t define it as such we all need to regularly fill our cup, emotionally or spiritually, mentally and physically.

Silence, Now What Do I Do? By J.G. McGlothern

When given time alone with only the sound of your breath, it can be staggering, scary, down right unreal to a parent.

On my first Mom Retreat this past January the women attending were given three hours of silence. “What can I do?,” one woman asked. “Anything,” I told her, “but take care of others, this time is about taking care of you.”

I instructed the women to go for a walk, take a run, take a nap, paint with water colors, make clay beads, write, stare out at the Puget Sound, read a book. Some women were scared by that amount of time unscheduled, all for them. But the others were excited and thought three hours wasn’t nearly enough time.

We initated the moment with a rock. I had gathered rocks from the beach and scattered them on our center table. One woman at a time chose a rock and handed it to a woman in the circle saying. “May this silence, fill your cup.” When we all had our rocks in hand or stuffed in our pocket we dispersed to find our silence.

Having been on a silent retreat before I was excited for the time. The first thing I was going to do was take a nap. But I couldn’t nap, my mind was going in a hundred directions, so I got up and made clay beads. Unhappy with my creative endeavor, I went for a walk on the beach. There on the beach, my dad showed up. He does that sometimes since he died over seven years ago. As the sun came out I was washed with the warmth of sunshine and filled with gratitude for the opportunity to hold this Mom Retreat.

Back in circle, when we broke silence every one shared about their experience. All valued the time no matter what they did; paint, write, run, sit, play.

After sharing our experience we were ready for champagne, a toast to our new found appreciation for silence. With full cups, we clinked our full glasses. Who can’t drink to that?

Calgon Take Me Away by J.G. McGlothern

As parents it is easy to run on empty without realizing we need a re-fill. The purpose of my Mom Retreats is to provide space for moms to get away from their demands and leave the guilt at home.

I am happy to report my first Mom’s Retreat – Refill Your Cup – in January, was a huge success. Five women attended, affirming my intended goal – hold space for mothers to “Refill Their Cups”. We stayed on Vashon Island in a rustic, roomy home, swept away by the views of Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound.

I hired two cooks, so the women didn’t have to cook a meal or wash a dish. The agenda was set to provide sharing time in our small group, silent time, play, and reflection. We met in Circle a few times to carry on conversations about “refilling our cup”, silence, journaling and meditation. I led the women in two short meditations using Thomas Keatings Contemplative Prayer as a guide.

We were women of different faith practices, different experiences of God and sitting in Cirlce we were more than moms. We were women connecting with our Divine within.

I will be holding another retreat this spring and this new blog site will report about future retreats as well as provide a cup or two of weekly wisdom.

All moms deserve a re-fill, ideally before they run on empty.