Growing Together: Growth from Hands Free Mama

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The first time I read Rachel’s words at Hands Free Mama, I was hooked. And I’ve been back, every week, to read her words and internalize her lessons.

Rachel began a journey in her life, and well documented on her site, to go ‘hands-free’ – that is to disconnect from all distractions and really just live in the moment. She does it in a million little – and awe-inspiringly big – ways. Her’s is often the last blog I read for the day because as soon as I’m done, all I want to do is close my computer, put away my phone, and dive into the here and now with my family. Rachel’s post last week about how she still jumps in to play with her children, even though they now happily play on their own, inspired several long coloring sessions with my daughter this week. And oh the conversations my girl and I have had over coloring books and markers and the memories we’ll have for years, just because I sat down next to her and jumped in.

If you don’t know Rachel, read her lovely words below and then head on over to Hands Free Mama and join the revolution.

~~~~~

Growth.

In the old days growth would have meant a completed list of tangible achievements.

It would have meant a grand checking off of a long, impressive list.

It would have meant having something to “show for it” and perhaps moving up in the world.

But not anymore. Things are different now. Thank God, things are different now.

Growth.

On this journey, growth is in the letting go. It’s the peace that calms my heart. It’s the contentedness that steadies my shaky soul.  ‘Growth’ doesn’t look the way I imagined it would look. But it feels better than I ever dreamed.

I began my “Hands Free” journey in an effort to let go of the daily distractions that were preventing me from living a present and gratitude-filled life. But in the process of quieting down these external sources of distraction, I discovered there was another type of distraction wreaking havoc on my life. And this type of distraction prevents me from grasping what really matters as much as a buzzing phone and an over-scheduled agenda. Internal distraction, specifically that inner critic that pushes unrealistic standards and distorted comparisons, has the potential to ruin a beautiful life.
And I should know.

The pursuit of perfection and pressure to “do it all” almost took my beautiful life.

But today I am here to tell you, this isn’t the way it has to end.

This is my story…

The other day, I decided to remove a sentence from one story I was working on and place it in another. But when I hit ‘paste,’ the sentence I thought would appear, did not appear.

What showed up was a sentence I had written so late the evening before that I barely remembered writing it. And I am still not certain how this editing “mistake” occurred.

But throughout this life-changing journey, there are providential signs that indicate I am on the right path; I knew this was one of those signs.

The words that appeared before me read: It is not too late to start over.

It was definitely not the sentence I had intended to place in that particular story, but I knew I could not delete it for I am simply the messenger on this “Hands Free journey.” And I am certain this particular message is meant to be shared:

Regardless of the standards you have set for yourself, regardless of what people have come to expect of you, regardless of how you think you are “supposed” to live your life, it is not too late to start over.

You see, I started over two years ago.

At the height of my bulging social calendar, at the height of my glowing reputation for getting things accomplished, at the height of my ability to “do it all,” I let go.

At the height of my perfectly orchestrated life, I offered myself a do-over.

I confronted that debilitating monster that has the power to sabotage the precious moments that make life worth living. I looked Perfection in the eye and declared that I would no longer be subjected to its unachievable standards and merciless criticism. Perfection would not be welcome on my “Hands Free” journey.

I began telling the drill sergeant inside my head that homemade breakfast rolls for out-of-town guests is a thing of the past, organized closets and kitchen drawers will happen when my children are grown, flourishing flower beds can be admired in the garden department of Home Depot, but not in my yard.

These tasks are not important right now when my daughters need me and want me to be present in their lives.

I told my harsh inner critic to pick on someone else because I would no longer be bullied for the bulge above my c-section scar or the permanent lines around my eyes, for these flaws are lasting reminders of the inconceivable joy I have been given on this earth.

These imperfections are not what define me or give me value as a human being.

I decided once and for all that I would no longer be everything to everyone. In order to be joyfully fulfilled, I must choose to place my energies in what (and who) means everything to me.

Growth.

It’s in the letting go. It’s the peace that calms my heart. It’s the contentedness that steadies my shaky soul.  ‘Growth’ doesn’t look the way I imagined it would look. But it feels better than I ever dreamed.

Though, I must tell you,

My house is not what it used to be.

My social calendar is not what it used to be.

My filing system is not what it used to be.

My daily agenda is not what it used to be.

My gold star supermom status is not what it used to be.

I am not what I used to be.

I am now living life with open eyes, an open heart, and open hands. And I never want to go back to the way it used to be.

Growth.

There are some things you simply cannot grasp if you’re holding on to something else.

In order to grasp what matters, you must let go of what doesn’t.

~~~~~

Rachel’s mission is to provide individuals with the inspiration, motivation, and tools to let go of daily distractions so they can grasp the moments in life that matter. Join her on her journey to a more meaningful life at www.handsfreemama.com and by visiting “The Hands Free Revolution” on Facebook.

8 Comments

  1. {Melinda} I sent the Perfectionist Parasite packing about four or five years ago. Let go of my “image,” quit trying to earn God’s love or anyone else’s. It wasn’t an overnight process. Sometimes I went back to old thinking patterns. But when I look back to where I WAS and where I AM now, God has brought me a long way.

    Love this post. Love your mission. Keep going girl!
    Mothering From Scratch recently posted..delivering christmas starts next week!My Profile

    • Thank you, Melinda! I love your term “perfectionist parasite”–how true is that? It does suck the life and joy right out of you, doesn’t it? And I so agree that these old patterns of thinking are hard to break. I do slip once in awhile, but then I feel empty, stressed, and depressed and I know that I must once again, “LET GO.” I really appreciate your kind words of support and encouragement!

  2. Hi Rachel, I’m very happy you’re featured here today! I completely identified with so much of what you said. I’m a “doing” addict. I like to think I function “best” when I’m practically drowning. The thing is, I love everything that I do–childbirth educator, doula, photographer, stay home mama of four, blogger…so what’s to cut out? I remind myself to pull back frequently. then life fills up again. Repeat. Repeat. Your blog post reminders will be a welcomed new read in my life. Thanks for this!
    sarah @sundayspill recently posted..The Way You Dip A French FryMy Profile

    • Thank you for sharing, Sarah! I understand what you mean about being involved in a many things because it is a blessing to have so many gifts and passions! I love that you periodically assess and pull back when needed. That is very wise. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight!

  3. I hopped over here to say hi to Tricia from her post on Shell’s blog today, and i scrolled down, and read this post, and my breath was taken away. I NEEDED to read this today. not that my house has EVER been organized, or my social calendar planned out, or any of that stuff. But that it’s ok to let go, and unplug and live in the gratitude of every moment. My “baby” (who will be four soon!), the youngest of my four daughters, has a medical condition that will very likely shorten her life. Her care every day is exhausting and overwhelming and leaves me feeling like i have no energy to deal with the rest of my daughters/life/the house (my husband travels throughout the week every week so its just the mommy show around here). But oh how i needed the reminder to just stop, and slow down, and be in the moment, frustrating and tiring and sad as some of those moments may be. Because there’s also many amazing moments in my days. and all of my girls are beautiful. and all of them are growing up far too fast before my eyes. Thank you for your words. They touched my heart today.

  4. After my daughter went away to college, I really grasped how fast time with my kiddos flies by! I have a middle schooler at home now and I really try to complete my tasks early so that when he arrives home, I am present. Thanks for the beautiful post and reminder! :) Stopping by from SITS!
    Paula @ Simply Sandwich recently posted..Time To Celebrate!My Profile

  5. Pingback: Notice The Good | Hands Free Mama

  6. I’ve been struggling with a decision on whether to continue to restrict my 29 month old’s nursing to three times a day or allow more freedom, and if so, how much. (I also have a five month old, so fear of feeling touched-out all the time is a major factor in this decision). Thank you for the reminder to take other people and their impressions of me out of the equation! This should just be about finding a balance between her/my needs/wants.
    Liz recently posted..An Atheist with Two ChurchesMy Profile

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