My postpartum clients always inspire me. They are hardworking, compassionate, intelligent, and intuitive women. They want to do the best they can in their role as a mother, but also desperately crave those treasured moments alone so they can simply be themselves or squeeze in a quick moment of exercise, rest, or companionship with a friend or spouse. They bring to me their courage, trust, and vulnerability, and they share their guilt, frustrations, and sometimes even resentments. They feel overwhelmed by the day to day rigors that demand their attention. Their bodies feel foreign to them. Their minds a little fuzzy. They sacrifice their own needs on a daily basis to provide for others around them (sometimes even strangers). They admit that life still doesn’t feel right even though they have blessings to be grateful for…yet they get through each day by the skin of their teeth…
I just want you to know that you don’t have to succumb to scraping the bottom of the barrel every day just to make it through. You already have the answers in order to create small changes that can make life easier. My job as an integrative women’s health coach is to help you discover them. You’d be surprised to discover that when you begin to craft more time and space into your days simply by practicing boundary-setting and allowing self-empowerment…you begin to express your needs unapologetically and suddenly you feel a little lighter. You begin to implement (with support from me and others in your tribe) specific, unique, & individual behavioral changes that suddenly correlate to reduced pain, improved energy, more balanced hormones, and a more pliable nervous system (translation: it’s amazing what a few extra spare moments of rest, connection, play, joy, nourishment, and/or changed perspective does for one’s body and mind).
So, for you postpartum moms who are feeling stuck and constantly on a hamster wheel… it doesn’t have to be that way. You hold the answers and you have support to help you get over those bumps and humps of fear, uncertainty, and what-ifs (all you have to do is ask – no biggie right?).
Every single woman’s story and journey are different (and might I add, each one is important).
Here’s how the hamster wheel showed up for me as a young woman in my personal story (and how I got out of the hamster wheel):
I was feeling stuck in my beloved physical therapy profession, of which I poured TONS of time/energy/MONEY/education/heart/soul into. In trying to keep up with the rigors of the medical system and everyone’s needs & wants (impossible BTW), I experienced cycles of burn out (duh go figure), creating some serious values conflicts and feelings of guilt >>> “I really like what I do and who I serve, what’s wrong with this picture…what’s wrong with ME?!. I guess this is just how it is…” I felt stuck (and questioned: WTF do I do about this? This is not sustainable.). I was really craving, in a desperate way, balance/ease/recovery/joy (for me, at this juncture of my life, it meant: honoring my own body’s natural rhythms vs constantly stifling them, having my own consistent exercise/movement routine to keep me sane and happy, spending QT with my family, and spending time surrounded by plants/nature without the constant buzz of modern day life screaming at me). I was in full recognition mode that I had gotten stuck in the hamster wheel of modern life. Strive but never arrive. Achieve. Accomplish. Earn. Go hard or go home.
I finally asked for help and pursued the route of a health coaching process (thank GAWD). In working through the health coaching process, of which I am forever grateful for, I found my root causes (or rather, confirmed my suspicions and then finally took action) of my fatigue and general disenchantment with life…and made decisions…and stuck with them:
- I reduced my work hours (which was the hardest part – shedding my false security to my income & constant ‘Doing’ within a wonderful PT clinic with wonderful clients)
- I was guided in how to have hard conversations and speak to my own needs (no one teaches you this in school)
- I established better boundaries (fyi: NO one is forcing YOU to say YES to anything)
- I created space to devote more time to my own budding postpartum health coaching practice that ignited the joy inside of me that I was craving (ie, my introverted self finally was spending more time creating, crafting, writing, AND supporting & connecting with other women who, truth be told, make this world turn – you go mamas!)
I am a forever fan of the profession of physical therapy and my work as a practicing pelvic floor PT in a Pilates-based clinic. All I needed was to make just a few changes to really make it pop for me, and really make it fit who I was as a human BEING.
We’re asked when we’re young…what do you want to be when you grow up? Never mind that. It’s nice to have direction, but doesn’t the answer change as time goes on? Doesn’t the answer change as the seasons of life progress and as priorities shift? A different question is…HOW do you want to be when you grow up? What you’re doing is one thing, but how you’re BEING is fully another. You don’t have to succumb to the life that others impress upon you. You don’t have to DO everything. You don’t have to say YES to everything just to fill the space. Nor do you have to succumb to any pain, fatigue, and general feelings of ick day in and day out. Ask for support, discover the power of what’s already within your reach, and the world is your oyster. (full disclaimer: this process isn’t easy…and it can dredge up lots of emotion…but life is way more fun living on the other side…)
Life doesn’t have to suck. 🙂
Cheers to all of you mamas out there,
Kelsea Cannon, PT, DPT, PRPC, WHC