Featured Storyteller

US: How Doing 'Nothing' Can Change Everything

Carrie Lee
Posted March 21, 2017 from United States

As a stay-at-home mom, Carrie felt pressure to prove herself to the world. Nurturing her inner life became her survival strategy.

Our work toward equal human rights for women globally begins right here in our homes, in our hearts.

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 my husband a spreadsheet of what I’d done all day, the minutes I’d spent feeding, rocking, holding the baby.

While my husband spent his days chasing quotas, I spent mine confused and awed by a new life that would not be quantified, and most definitely would not follow rules. Yet, my life as a stay-at-home mother was framed within a script of knowns. I had been schooled to follow the rules, and my good girl role had transferred to being a good woman, mother, and wife.

At the day’s end after doing housework and simply being with my daughter, I couldn’t collect absolutes. 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 but I was scared to face failure, of being considered selfish. Mostly I was scared of never being truly, fully me.

I had grown up in a world that celebrated masculine ideals like the ability to focus and fix, even when it comes to one’s feelings. This mindset had ignored my more creative and receptive ways of being. So I turned my traditional approach on its head.

Instead of comprehending and controlling 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.

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

Giving to myself, I had more to give to others and I felt more alive in my skin. I felt a part of a great creative process, which had no rules, no attachment to a certain outcome. Our lifestyle began to mirror this strong inner life, and my husband joined me in quitting the race toward solutions and quotas.

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. It begins with connecting our inner being-ness with our out-in-the-world doing-ness, and 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.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share,and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller!Learn more.

Comments 22

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Immaculate Amoit
Mar 22, 2017
Mar 22, 2017

Wow, Carrie this is such a powerful piece of writing it is true that we can not care for the world if we can't take care of ourselves. The earlier we realize this as women the better for us .Thank you for sharing this story

Warmest

Carrie Lee
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Hi Immah, 

Thank you for your words! And thank you for sharing your understanding...When we care for ourselves we are caring for the world! 

Hugs,

Carrie

Dr Rejoice
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Great Story Carrie. Thanks for sharing 

Carrie Lee
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Thank YOU for the comment! I appreciate it!

IAmBeautiful
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Great story and very nice words. It all begins at home. ask a deleted girl child and sister made stateless. All the best to you and your lovely daughter.

Carrie Lee
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Yes, it all begins at home! Thank you for your encouragement and understanding!

chilla
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Interesting! You made it so simple. We are the bedrock of the society. If we don't get it right at home, we loose it all in the society. 

Am beginning to appreciate my efforts at home

Carrie Lee
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

So happy to hear that! We are the bedrock of society, it starts in the home! 

Wendy Stebbins
Mar 23, 2017
Mar 23, 2017

Hi Carrie,

I so loved your story. I could feel the "tug" all women feel in this situation. I can relate to everything you said and feel. I had 4 little children and chose to stay home for several years,but felt the "need" to be "someone on my own" so eventually went back to college when the kids were in school but felt "guilt" bigtime when I wasn't home and felt like I should be doing something of importance for me also when I was home. I think women, no matter the situation, feel the tug that you illustrate and describe so clearly. Thank you for normalizing all of this for thousands of women who want and need to hear you.

Carrie Lee
Mar 26, 2017
Mar 26, 2017

Hi Wendy, 

I so appreciate your comment. It means so much to hear that we are not alone! My mom too went to college when I was young, and my sister and I had the time of our lives living on a college campus. It always seems to be that the highest decision for one turns into the best decision for the others around you :) 

Warmly,

Carrie

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Mar 24, 2017
Mar 24, 2017

Wow Carrie

Thanks for sharing. It's true that we need to work on our inner selves so we can change the world. Thank you for sharing. Stay blessed my dear sister

Carrie Lee
Mar 26, 2017
Mar 26, 2017

Hi Anita,

Thank you!

In sisterhood and working on our inner selves to change the world! 

Carrie

Ese Ajuyah
Apr 02, 2017
Apr 02, 2017

Hello Carrie,

What profound truths! Reminds me of a presentation I developed for someone recently on the need for a woman to fill her cup first before she can fill others. You spelt it out in such clear and simple words. Women tend to fall here. We take so much time giving to others and forget about our selves.

Thank you for reminding us to always give first to ourselves preparing us to give better to others.

Cheers

Ese

Carrie Lee
Apr 18, 2017
Apr 18, 2017

Thank you Ese! So many women do tend to fall here. And we each learn in our own ways the importance of filling our cup first. 

Hugs,

Carrie

Oma
Apr 04, 2017
Apr 04, 2017

This is good. You cannot care for others without  caring for yourself.  Good you are on your feet again. 

Carrie Lee
Apr 18, 2017
Apr 18, 2017

Thank you Oma! 

Kika Katchunga
Apr 10, 2017
Apr 10, 2017

WOW !!!!!!!, the story is so inspiring, you had been talking about the most important thing before taking care of the world it will start abort by ourselves. If at least all women can read this story and take its advice into consideration and put it into practice in a minute to might turn the world into paradise. Thank you very much for sharing it

Carrie Lee
Apr 18, 2017
Apr 18, 2017

Sylvie, Thank you! I believe what you say, that the love contained in the family has the power to transform humanity.. Yes! 

Thank you,

Carrie

Anne Dupont
Apr 11, 2017
Apr 11, 2017

Beautiful, Carrie!  Creating space and love for yourself creates the space and love for others.  When you model it, others can do it, too! You've asked yourself some deep questions and found the answer in creating that "white space" for yourself.  It is powerful and I love that you shared your story.  Keep up the wonderful mindfulness that you have brought to you/your family's life.

With gratitude,

Anne

Carrie Lee
Apr 18, 2017
Apr 18, 2017

Hi Anne, 

Thank you for this wonderful piece of encouragement! 

All the best to you,

Carrie

mangalavrita
Apr 21, 2017
Apr 21, 2017

This is a great one and so inspiring one too...waiting to read more !!! :)

Magali Varela
May 15, 2017
May 15, 2017

Hi! It was amazing reading your article. Being a stay at home mom is something amazing but also it is really hard work. What job is more important than raise your children to be honest, good, loving people?. I think your words are great encouragement for all those stay at home moms that are not told they are doing the most important job in the world.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Love, Maggie