present mama interview series
Family Constellations Therapist, Systemic Coach, and Mama of 2!
YOU’RE SOMEONE WHO RADIATES LOVE AND POSITIVITY - HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY? HOW DID YOU START LEADING A MORE POSITIVE, SPIRITUALLY ALIGNED LIFE?
I’ve dipped in and out of being this way but I’ve mostly always been like this. I’ve definitely had darker nights of the soul where I’ll go through periods of time where I’m doubting myself, doubting everything, and it’s kind of hard to feel positive. But never for long. I always come back to myself. I learned early on because my mom was very spiritual. She was very interested in the things we’re interested in now back when she was 40. She used to take me to hear Dr. Wayne Dyer. I read the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay when I was 13. My mom never let me dwell on things. She always said, “If it’s a negative, let’s turn it into a positive. What do you want?” She was very into Abraham Hicks. She was there from the inception of the movement of mindfulness. Not a lot of people will understand this so she wouldn’t really talk about it. I have always gravitated towards this because I learned early.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE A PRESENT MAMA?
It means to be in the moment. I’ve been studying Florence Shinn who teaches about the power of your words and how your words are your wand. A beautiful thing she affirms is that when you’re feeling crazy, stand still and know the power within. Sometimes we’re so quick to react. Someone pisses you off and you want to shoot them a text. I’ve been there. Your kid tells you something that happened at school that upsets you and you want to call the teacher. There are just so many things that happen that trigger you. I try to teach myself to stand still and know the power within. Take it all in and be present with whatever is coming your way - a kid who’s sick or won’t go to bed. Whatever it is stand still in that moment because that’s where the power comes in. If you react, then everything falls apart. As your kids get bigger, they come to you with issues that you remember happened to you not that long ago-- a teacher being unfair or an issue with a friend. These things push your buttons. You have to learn how to be in the moment. Our kids need us. If we fall apart, they have no one to drive the boat. We have to be there for them and model that “we got this.” In the same way if you were on an airplane you don’t want the pilot to be rattled by turbulence.
YOU HAVE 2 KIDS AND YOU RUN YOUR OWN COACHING BUSINESS - HOW DO YOU FIND BALANCE?
I really do admire other moms who leave for work in the morning and don’t come home until late at night. I’m blessed that I can have freedom in my work and to be able to have created that for myself. I know there are so many moms out there that struggle with this who don’t know how to balance it all. For me, it’s become intentional to be balanced. Every day, take whatever is presented to you and do your best at whatever it is that you’re doing. Things will fall into place. I’ve seen it. People will help you. Trust that you’ll be supported. Moms will show up to help you out. Make it your solid intention that everything will work out and everything will get the attention that it needs.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TOOLS FOR FINDING MORE CALM IN THE CHAOS?
I really love the affirmation “Stand still and know the power within.” I also rely on meditation. I carry headphones with me wherever I go. I plug in no matter what I need to do. There are so many meditations on YouTube that are fantastic for re-grounding you. I breathe. I just take deep breaths. My friends have noticed that I do this. They’ll say, “Oh my god you’re doing it.” I’ll just stop mid-conversation and take a deep breathe to reconnect. Or I’ll lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes. One of my tools is texting some of my friends who are really grounded. I’ll let them know what’s happening, ask them to remind me that everything will be okay, and to send me some calm energy. It works like a charm. Then I feel like I’m doing something. I’m releasing it.
WHAT DOES “SELF-CARE” LOOK LIKE IN YOUR LIFE AND HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOU?
What it means for me is that I’m always constantly working to evolve my level of self-care. There are non-negotiables that I do every day like setting my intentions for the day. I find the time to meditate for at least 5-10 minutes and exercise every day. Even if it’s stretching! These are some of the non-negotiables that I have and they keep switching around. Just recently I became a certified Reiki master which was a whole experience of self-care for me because I wanted to be able to evolve my practice. There is a book I really love called Dear Universe which has 200 mini-affirmations about manifesting. I go through and read each prayer out loud. It takes only 10 minutes but I’ve added that to my routine. I’m constantly paying attention to giving myself what I need because I’m worth it.
YOU’RE HAVING A ROUGH DAY - EXHAUSTED, ARGUING WITH YOUR HUSBAND, NOTHING IS GOING RIGHT. WHAT DO YOU DO TO RE-SET?
Sometimes in those moments of chaos there come such gifts. I’ll say to myself, “This all must be happening for a reason so I welcome the gift of whatever this tough situation may bring.” I take that moment and then it’s become such a muscle in my brain to use my tools to re-set. I’ll go in the bathroom for a minute and call or text one of my friends to help me out. I take a few deep breaths. And if I don’t do any of those but instead flip my lid or act in a way that will make me not so proud of myself later, I let it go and then later on forgive myself.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR HANDLING MOM GUILT?
Guilt is such a useless, wasted emotion. Whenever someone presents to me in a guilty moment I say, “Let’s move out of this energy.” I forgive myself. I let go. I apologize. I might say to my kids, “Yeah I was impatient with you yesterday. I didn’t give you the attention that you were needing in that moment. I apologize. I’ll do better next time.” Just sincere and authentic. Everyone is doing the best they can, especially the moms who are taking the time to read this. Know that you have good intentions. If you feel guilty, that means you are a good mom and that you truly care. Trust that your kids are getting what they need. They chose you for a reason. You can also shift your perspective. If you’re not around as much, you’re giving them the opportunity to practice being more independent and self-sufficient. I was raised by a working mom who worked 9-5pm every day. She had a store that was very busy all the time. I sometimes had to take cabs to a playdate or arrange my own playdates and I was okay. It taught me how to be very efficient in my own life.
YOU DO AN INCREDIBLE JOB TEACHING AND SHARING YOUR PRACTICE WITH YOUR CHILDREN. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THAT?
My kids see that I am dedicated to being self-aware because I have had a spiritual practice since they were babies. I talk to them about meditation and healing just as I would talk to them about anything else. I teach them to take responsibility for their own emotions. We talk openly about our feelings, we practice forgiveness, we look within. Most importantly I never push or preach. I try to lead by example through my own practice. I have dreams of holding family meditations because I know how transformative that could be. I try to work within my children’s lives and make spirituality practical and accessible in the same way that I coach others. Lately I've been really into using essential oils. They are a great way to bring wellness into your home for both you and the kids.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO THE MAMA OUT THERE WHO WANTS TO BE MORE PRESENT AND MINDFUL BUT HAS NO IDEA WHERE TO BEGIN?
I would begin with an affirmation everyday, “I’m ready to be guided to know what I need to know to expand and transform” or “I want to be more present, how do I do that?” Say it out loud and allow the universe to guide you towards the right books and people who need to come into your life. I also believe in a dedicated practice. One thing I’ve done consistently for years is I journal every morning. I write my intentions for the day and on the page before I write down a couple of notes of things that happened the previous day. I read a quote from the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles every day. It’s part of my morning routine. I don’t leave the house before I do it. I also bought The Five-Minute Journal which gives you an affirmation every day. My kids know, if you see mommy writing in the morning, don’t bother her. Ha! They know they’re going to be late to school if I don’t get this done. It’s about making a commitment to yourself. In the same way you make a commitment to get healthier, you would devote yourself to a daily routine of greens, vegetables, exercising, drinking water. If you are committed to being more present and living a more authentic life then you have to commit to something every day.
Want to learn more about this Present Mama? Check out her website MACHAEINBENDER.COM