So, I stood stone sober in a winery on Wednesday and spoke to 88 women about “anything”.
Being asked to publicly speak is daunting. It ranks number 5 in current stats on what we fear the most. And being asked to speak about “anything” is about as useful as being asked to speak about “nothing”. So I searched into myself for ideas that might not only be helpful for these 88 women outside to hear – but maybe for within me to hear as well.
I was introduced mid-desert as, amongst other things, a dreamer. It made them all smile which made me feel like I’d won. I opened with a gag, which I’m told makes people want to listen to you more, and then asked my audience of oestrogen –
What does a mindful modern woman look like?
I had been asking myself this question a lot lately. Not only to prepare for this public talk in the winery, but to prepare myself for each day I rise out of bed. What it means to be mindful. How it looks to be modern.
And how it feels to be all that as a woman.
I asked the brains trust in my world – that being my small ones. I threw it into conversation casually on Wednesday morning in the kitchen. Despite waking at 5, I was still wearing dishwashing gloves at 8. I was already 10 minutes late for work when I asked them, what does it mean to be mindful? And what does a mindful woman look like?
When really I suppose, I was asking if they were ever seeing me.
“A woman who cleans”, smart-arsed my eldest wise one.
– Well, if you washed your own fucking breakfast bowl…..-
“A woman who makes good choices”, answered my middle red.
Arhhh, the force is strong with this wild child of mine…..-
“A woman who is brave”, threw in my youngest lad
And for a moment I was still because he took my breath away……-
I stood in the kitchen looking at the simple honesty of my small ones. Staring at the future of my world. 2 strong little scorpion women and 1 sensitive libran lad – shaping their ideas and mirroring their dreams around our breakfast table each morning. I thought about recent times when I’d been asked, “how are you?” and in my urgent approach to life had answered a robotic lie with no meaning. That I hadn’t admitted that I was tired. Or that sometimes I was stressed, or busy, or sad. That in trying to live out all the roles I was told I could play, I had forgotten to take some time to be mindful. That in martyrdom I had sometimes painted myself as a victim. And that sometimes, I had forgotten how to be me.
Think slow flow vinyasa, balance and yoga nidra.
The concept of mindfulness is kind of a buzz word at the moment. They are initiating strategies involving the philosophy and practices in our schools, in our hospitals and in our jails to name a few. I walked into a secondary school open day last year and it was like I’d walked into a yoga teacher training course. With words like “compassion”, “empathy” and “respect” across the walls, the world is now asking us to watch ourselves and our ideas to ensure we are reminded of our connection to each other and to feel ourselves as part of a greater whole.
There is a modern concept known as “busy women’s syndrome”, or BWS. Interesting marketing in that there is also a business franchise selling alcohol – the great self-medication – with the very same acronym. Multi-tasking modern women being everything for everyone to the detriment of being true to themselves. Busy women running on a steady diet of caffeine and adrenaline by day, chardonnay and citrus twists by night. Living with unspoken words and unseen dreams. Speaking with mechanical answers and meaningless lies. Allowing the shallow shadows of our hopes to drain down the sink with the dregs our families unfinished breakfast.
Mindfulness is the intelligent awareness of the habits of yourselves. The practice gives jugglers like me an embodied ground from which to move from. So when I’m frustrated, the words I speak can stay clean. So when I’m confused, I can go within to make the right choices. So when I’m scared, I can lay down my sword and in doing so be brave. Mindfulness is the antidote to exhaustion and depression. It is the way we can create calmer and creative spaces in our lives. Mindfulness gives me the opportunity to come home to myself.
And recognise who I see when I get there.
On Wednesday night, half an hour before I was due in the winery to give my mid-desert talk, my eldest wise one pulled me aside from the dishes in our kitchen sink. She told me that a mindful modern woman “works hard and nourishes her family”. It was her way of telling me that she saw me and that she loved me. That she appreciated my incessant cleaning and though she sometimes didn’t understand, she respected my choices. Receiving this from her, a mindful young woman of the next generation, made everything draining down the kitchen sink worthwhile.
Her love being nourishment for my Self.