Education & Play Grow Holistic Health Self-Care

Project: Thrive Mama

woman in field at sunset
Written by Jessika Firmage

I became a mother in my twenties. It seems like only a blink of an eye and here I stand solidly in midlife.  That old saying “the days are long but the years are short,” certainly rings true. My children, however, are right in the most magical heart of childhood – out of baby-land and not yet to puberty. Life is absolutely a blast; the world is still new to their eyes, full of wonder and thrill. They are lit upby everything around them; I see sparks in their eyes.

In stark contrast to what our children are experiencing, the routine of care- taking for a young family can begin to lull us to sleep if we aren’t mindful. A few years ago it became clear to me that I was craving an internal feeling that I could recall, but let slip through my fingers. I was craving the tingles of my brain being fully turned on by life’s potential, the awe in the big and small wonders of life. That New Year’s Eve I chose ‘vitality’ as my guiding word for the year ahead. I was seeking to reclaim my liveliness, energy, vivacity, buoyancy, pep, verve, vim, zest and sparkle in this one precious life.

Not surprisingly, regaining this vitality I was craving was quite a bit morechallenging than the simple selection of the word, and the painted words I hung on my refrigerator as a reminder.  Turns out, our subconscious mind is hardwired to support us in surviving, not thriving.  The subconscious mind is all about keeping us alive, it only cares that what we have been doing in the days and years prior did not kill us and therefore must be the safe way to keep living. Our subconscious mind could actually care less if we are miserable and being lulled to sleep by our very routines. Changing habits and patterns is risky business.

And so in our conscious effort to thrive, a battle is waged.

One step forward, two steps back– but the desire to model thriving for my children was my beacon. I want my children to thrive, now, and in adulthood. I want them to have an internal road map to living their best life and it’s my job to model that for them. I also want to enjoy this precious and fleeting time of parenting my young children to my maximum potential.

I want the zest and verve and vitality to run and jump and play hide-and-go-seek with them, to swim, and camp, and stargaze all summer long.

I want that for you as well.

Through years of working with parents as a conscious parenting guide, I know that our best mothering is done when we are thriving women. I know now what the ingredients to my personal Thrive Recipe are, but keeping them in stock at all times is a whole other story. While experimenting with different daily rhythms and such, I came across an idea presented by Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.

This ‘Big Rocks’ idea goes like this: you have a container in front of you and proceed to fill it up fist-sized rocks. It appears full until you pull out a jar of pebbles and begin to dump them in. The pebbles find their way into the nooks and crannies between the rocks. From there you proceed to dump in a jar of sand, and to your amazement you see that the particles of sand find their way into the tiny open spaces between the pebbles and the rocks. Now, here’s the fun part, if you take the same size container and you begin to fill it in reverse order, staring with the sand first, you will see that the big rocks don’t have space to fit in the container.

In my life the big rocks are the activities that build a solid foundation for me to grow on, such as time for connecting with my children, tending the health of my body and mind, stewarding the land for a healthy home, creativity, and personal development. These are the things that help me to thrive today, but also tomorrow. Using the ‘Big Rocks’ analogy has helped us to reprioritize our days with joy. We now enjoy tending to our ‘big rocks’ first thing in the morn- ing while we are fresh and before the container of our day has been filled by the sand of social media or the pebbles of errands and chores.

To help my children grasp this idea, we did a demonstration of the big rocks filling the container first, and then the reverse with the sand and pebbles filling the container first. We went about collecting some rocks and as we identified the big rocks for each one of us, we painted the rocks with words like, body, mind, spirit, learning, and creating. Each day we identify our big rocks for the day and put those into the container first.

Finding the joy in putting our ingredients for thriving first in the day has given us all clarity around why it’s so important that we take ourselves, and even the dog, for a walk before any screens are turned on, or why we choose a healthy breakfast and fifteen minutes of meditation before opening the mail and starting the laundry. We are building a foundation that will support us to grow on: putting the big rocks first. Summer- time is the perfect season to mix it up, boost your vitality, and enjoy the long days and warmer weather. I invite you to join us. What are your big rocks? Go ahead – thrive, Mama!

About the author

Jessika Firmage