I will never forget the first time I met Rachel. It was at my first or second Taos writing retreat. She had enrolled the two days before! She sat in the opening circle with her arms over her chest, foot tap tap tapping. No smile. I inwardly sighed – I had to deal with a week of this? By the end of the week, Rachel was standing up, arms overhead, proclaiming, “I am a writer!”
I’m proud to now call Rachel a dear friend, to have coached her through writing two books, becoming a coach to new moms, and most importantly, becoming ever more fully herself. Her newest book is New Mom, New Woman – Creating your Smart Motherhood Plan and Life after ‘I Do!’ and it’s just fantastic. Please visit her at www.rachelegan.com
Thanks, Rachel, for being so tenacious, so brave, and such a great path blazer for other moms.
My husband and I have four children – each a year apart. Today they are 27, 26, 25 & 24 years old. But I still remember, like it was yesterday, one of the worst nights during the early years of our marriage. At this point, we had three children: Jim was two, Emily – one, and Rachel – a colicky 2 month old.
Rachel screamed and cried from the moment she was born. One night I simply could not take her crying anymore and had reached a breaking point. It was 9 o’clock at night. I handed our screaming infant to my husband and said, “That’s it, I am going home.” He handed her back to me and said, “You are home!” I handed her back to him and said, “Well then I am going to sleep up on the third floor!” (We had a spare bedroom up there.)
That night, I cried myself to sleep. I remember thinking – “What in the hell have I gotten myself into?”
I woke up hours later disoriented, yet feeling better than I had in quite some time. I looked around not quite sure where I was and noticed it was 3AM. I started remembering the night before. I realized I probably felt so good because I had actually slept 6 straight uninterrupted hours! Then I heard it – faint at first, but getting clearer and stronger the more I woke up. I sat straight up in bed and said out loud – “Oh my God, SHE IS STILL CRYING. I have to warn them!”
At that moment, I am not exactly sure who I wanted to warn, but I believe it must have been women who had not yet gotten themselves into my current situation. I wanted to make sure they knew how relentless this marriage and baby thing can be. At the time, I did not understand it was a draining and chaotic phase that would pass.
What I did understand, however, was the need to somehow get a grip of myself. It was 3AM. I had slept 6 hours – felt pretty good – so I headed out and found an all-night coffee spot. This became my new life changing ritual. The time eventually became closer to 5AM, but each morning I would jump out of bed – and head out baby less for some glorious quiet-time-coffee. Sometimes I would get my quiet-time-coffee to go and sit by the lake and watch the sun rise. Sometimes I would write in my journal. Most times I would sit and sip… just sit and sip my yummy coffee in the yummy quiet.
This quiet-time-coffee allowed peace to slip back into the beginning of my day. I started relaxing a bit more each day. I started to dream again. I started seeing that there were actually ways I could organize my life that would calm me down and offer me great relief and a lot more fun. I started writing down specific ways to help new moms – the ones I had wanted to warn that terrible night. These ways to help Moms eventually turned into a couple of books and a transition program for new parents.
My kids are all grown now and living on their own, yet I continue to cherish my early morning quiet-time-coffee; maybe because it is nothing more than being with the undemanding quiet with no expectations from myself. My only expectation at that moment is in the coffee and it very seldom lets me down. As I sit and sip and enjoy the moment, I more easily think about things that please me or inspire me. I can see my blessings and quickly tap into gratitude rather than overwhelm. It all seems more manageable before the rest of the world wakes up.
My precious quiet-time-coffee continues to connect me to my dreams in a very natural and gentle way. And it is interesting because many of my dreams and ambitions still seem to be connected to new moms.
My colicky baby – Rachel – now a beautiful self-supporting woman – recently worked for Operation Smile – a program that corrects cleft palates for children in 3rd World countries. Her stories of Moms traveling for days from their village to help their baby smile touch my soul. As I sit and sip my quiet-time-coffee, I find myself wondering if maybe I could go help those moms….
Rachel started her writing career and helping moms at my Taos retreat. And while Taos is sold out (it happened in an hour, I had no idea it would be so popular!) I am going to offer a four-day small group writing love camp in the Bay Area January 25th-28th with the wonderful Laurie Wagner. Think: lots of dedicated writing time (no internet / fridge / let me just clean the cat box distractions) + one-on-one coaching + productivity insights + small group very safe brainstorming. Want an invite? Hit reply and tell us what project you would want to work on. Limited to 16 people.