I should have been happy. I should have been enjoying our time together as a family. But I wasn’t.
I had slept miserably the previous night at the Pigeon Point Hostel, my period had started unexpectedly that morning on our three-day trip, and I was frustrated with the WiFi at the hostel, which was exceptionally slow. I had started working at 5:30 that morning on the Touch Blue Sky newsletter, which was supposed to drop the next day, but the super slow WiFi meant I spent three hours on what should have taken me less than one – and I still wasn’t done.
But here we were. On a family trip. Together in the sunshine.
In the past, I would have tried to guilt myself into a forced, false happiness.
Instead, I recognized my mood for what it was: temporary, understandable, and not an indication I was a bad wife and mom, just a grumpy one.
I remembered a calming technique neuropsychologist Rick Hansen recommended in his book Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom and began to shift my breathing into evenly spaced inhalations and exhalations.
As we walked along the bluff above the Pacific Ocean, I counted my breaths, eight counts in, eight counts out, in and out, again and again.
All of my pissy-ness, I allowed.
All of my tiredness, I allowed.
All of my irritation at the boys as they kicked and threw bark from the pathway at each other, I allowed.
All of my frustration at the hostel’s WiFi and at myself for poor planning, I allowed.
There was nothing I needed to change. All of it, I allowed.
Eight counts in, eight counts out.
After a few minutes, I felt kindness and compassion for my tired, achy, stressed self, and more acceptance of my frustration, irritation, and exhaustion.
And, in this soft moment, my heavy mood lifted like coastal fog.