How I learned to serve the world in serving myself

Carrie Lee
Posted March 9, 2017 from United States

He used to come home interrogating me on my level of mom-productivity, like a boss coming down from his top-floor suite to check on my numbers. I really, really wanted to give him a spreadsheet of what I’d done all day, the minutes I’d spent feeding, rocking, holding the baby.

My husband and I had grown up in a left-brain world and my life even as a stay-at-home mother was still framed within a script of knowns. Plus, I was schooled to follow the rules, and my good girl role had transferred to being a good woman, a good mother and wife. So while my husband spent his days chasing quotas, I spent mine confused and awed by a new life that would not quantify, and most definitely would not follow rules. Atthe day’s end of doing housework and simply being with my daughter, I couldn’t collect absolutes, and I began to question my contribution: did it even exist? Do I even exist within this thing I call my life?

Combine my terror of these questions with an extreme lack of sleep and you get something that looks like a breakdown: an identity in flames despite its fireproof attire, an ache that doesn’t belong at the breakfast table with the banana pancakes. It was an epic juncture in my life as my suffering so tenderly and so harshly asked me, “will I save myself or won’t I?”

I wanted to save myself and I was scared to face failure, of being considered selfish, and mostly I was scared of never being truly, fully me.

My traditional approach turned on its head, and so instead of trying to comprehend and control my feelings, I simply showed up for them. I sat with them without trying to fix them (not easy for a solution-izing mind). Carving out a time and space to spend with myself, to care for and to love myself, I realized my true nature is to live connected to my inmost sense of self, and to attune my life to its wisdom. How a life built around my more masculine mindset iscontrary to who I am.

Using poetry and paradox, nature, new conversation and writing as tools, and sharing space with wise women, my trust and patience deepened within the spaciousness growing inside of me. I devoted myself to routines of daily journaling, contemplating, meditating, or at the very least, putting my feet on the ground and taking a conscious breath.And somehow, I cannot tell you how exactly, taking nearly imperceptible steps moved me grand canyons from where I once was.

I can look back and see how serving myself was serving my family and the world in the greatest way possible.

Still, though, even today many years later, I can diminish the inner work. I will forget how priceless and precious this work of the heart is for me and for everyone around me. And I constantly come back to remembering.

I cannot talk about equality in the world, about equal pay and equal rights for women, if I cannot find equality right here within myself. If I cannot recognize how nurturing myself and my connection to Life (God, Spirit, whatever term you choose) guides and informs my life and work, how will I ever value the unpaid work as equal to paid work? How will I ever accelerate change in the world if I’m using the old masculine dominated ways, if I’m not guided from and speaking from my heart?

I cannot care for the world if I am not caring for myself. I know that for sure.

Our work toward equal human rights for women globally begins right here in our homes, in our hearts...with the rising up of our caring for ourselves with caring for others, of our inner being-ness with our out-in-the-world doing-ness, of our hearts with our minds. I once had to convince myself that the work of the family was powerful, but now I feel it, I know it in my bones- I am a vessel for creative change as I build a potent force of love here. No spreadsheet needed;at day's end,I know what I’ve done- I have contributed to building a new paradigm, a new social framework based in love and equality.

This story was submitted in response to Self-Care.

Comments 9

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Jill Langhus
Mar 10, 2017
Mar 10, 2017

Hi Carrie. Thanks for sharing your story. What do you attribute to your transformation? Whatever it was, I'm glad you found it:-) I agree. Well said.

Carrie Lee
Mar 13, 2017
Mar 13, 2017

Thank you! I attribute cultivating my inner life through journaling, contemplating and being still to my transformation. From the outside, it looks like doing "nothing" (similar to meditation). Pretty funny that doing nothing can change everything! :) 

Thanks again for the encouragement,

Carrie

Jill Langhus
Mar 14, 2017
Mar 14, 2017

You're welcome. It just sounds like you're embracing your feminine and not forcing any longer; living in the flow. Something a lot of us need to learn, including myself. I always feel like I'm not doing enough:-)

WorldCare
Mar 11, 2017
Mar 11, 2017

Dear Carrie, it is so interesting to read your thoughts on your "conversion". Even here in the U.S. in 2017 we can be mired in the work world or its values - - the quantitative! It is impressive to see how you wrestled with this concept and called on your natural strengths for nurturing. Your use of journaling and meditation are wonderful resources. I'm so glad you found a road to healing and growth. Thank you for this story. I wish you continued progress and mostly, happiness!

Carrie Lee
Mar 13, 2017
Mar 13, 2017

I deeply appreciate your encouragement and kind words. Thank you for reading my story and for taking the time to comment! 

Warmly,

Carrie

WorldCare
Mar 13, 2017
Mar 13, 2017

You're welcome Carrie. I've had my own kind of struggles in my long lifetime (it's called "being human"!), so I admire you for facing yours, and finding ways to a better path. Best to you. WorldCare

Rahmana Karuna
Mar 15, 2017
Mar 15, 2017

Carrie Lee,

yes, identifying our feelings and coming from a place of the heart. yep. very nicely written story of your transformation. almost like a step one two three for other women to take ahold and go for it. wonderful inspiration.

Carrie Lee
Mar 16, 2017
Mar 16, 2017

Rahmana, thank you for the encouragement! I hope that by sharing this story, other women will be inspired to nurture their own inner power. Being a midwife, you must know all about women finding their inner power!  

Hugs,

Carrie

Rahmana Karuna
Mar 16, 2017
Mar 16, 2017

oya, Carrie, one would think so, sure wish i knew how to easily and quickly show/teach/inspire folks how to find that immeasurable inner strength and power. blessings,