When I was 22, I had it all figured out. I would teach for a few years, marry my college boyfriend, get my PhD and have my first child by 30, and become a school principal. Well, I did teach for a few years, and I did marry my college boyfriend, and I did start on my PhD… and by 30 I had left grad school, gotten divorced, and—in my own mind—gone totally off track in my life. Over the next six years, I twisted myself in knots trying to make unhealthy relationship after unhealthy relationship work, as I desperately tried to get back to the plan I thought I was supposed to be following.
During those very difficult years, yoga and mindfulness became bigger and bigger parts of my life. It’s like they were tapping me on the shoulder when I was deepest in the throes of self-recrimination, saying gently, “Um, Rachel, you do realize there’s another way, don’t you?” And, over time, I did. Attending yoga classes with a couple of great teachers led to me teaching yoga to my middle school students; starting a daily meditation practice increased my awareness of thoughts and feelings and gave me space to respond rather than react to them; journaling and therapy and prayer allowed me to see the parts of myself I was resisting and begin to open to previously unimagined possibilities in my life; a yoga retreat opened the door to healing from a hurtful relationship and planted the seeds of the work that I most wanted to do. A few months shy of 36, I started my 200 hour yoga teacher training, and finally—and painfully—made peace with myself for not yet being a mother and no longer being a wife.
Mindfulness practices—yoga asana, meditation, self-study, journaling, gratitude, intention-setting, prayer—were crucial to helping me find my way to that place of acceptance of what was actually happening in my life. They also helped me find my way through the completely unexpected journey that happened next, which was meeting the love of my life and becoming pregnant with our beautiful son, born almost exactly one year after my first day of yoga teacher training. As Joe and I have gone through the multiple transitions from our lives before meeting, to our lives as partners and parents, all in a very short time, mindfulness practices are at the core of our life as a family.
All of these experiences have led me to create The Parents’ Place. Wherever you are in your life, whatever is going on in your family, you have a place here, and we have good work to do. See you soon.
All photography by Joseph Linhart.