‘It’s okay, Mommy, just breeaathe.’ My toddler was mirroring my emotions. I knew we were onto something.’: Mom creates ‘peaceful habits’ during pandemic, ‘Focus on what matters most’

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“Do you ever have a moment of reflection that washes over you, like a wave of gratitude and awe? Sometimes the unexpected challenges, perceived setbacks, and heartbreaks experienced stir up our patterns and shake our soul awake… inspiring (and sometimes kicking us headfirst into) the pursuit of our true calling. As a work-from-home entrepreneur and mother of an intensely active toddler, this past year has been a turbulent one, with more shifts and changes than I ever could have imagined. Like many others, my plans for the year were shifted dramatically when the pandemic began. A year ago, I never could have expected the growth and opportunity that came along with these changes.

I began 2020 by providing hands-on healing services of massage therapy and energy healing to a select few clients and leading in-person workshops and classes to help empaths and the highly sensitive to understand their gifts and abilities. When working, our busy two-year-old got to spend time with her favorite babysitters, a couple of local college students who were a wonderful extension of my mothering. My husband worked at an automotive repair shop in the next town over and was growing increasingly frustrated with his long hours and lack of motivation surrounding him. While I sometimes felt overwhelmed and wished we had more family time together, we had much to be thankful for. This was a good life.

Then the pandemic hit.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

Hands-on healing sessions were put on hold indefinitely and in-person workshops, classes, and events all canceled. My livelihood was postponed indefinitely, and I was at home with our daughter. Without our typical excursions to the library, youth art center and pavilion, or playdates… stress and anxiety levels grew. It was still too chilly in Iowa to spend significant time outdoors, but we knew spring weather was on the horizon. Meanwhile, I decided it was time to start on the project held at the back of my mind as something I’d do someday. I began compiling all of the understanding I’d gained from my own life and the incredible experiences of my clients and write the book begging to be written! After all, if I couldn’t help others heal through my hands or gatherings, I may as well do so with the written word. I excitedly began this new undertaking, fully aware there would be no monetary support from it for quite some time… if ever!

My husband came home early on a Friday afternoon, which was unusual with the long hours and late evenings he’d been working. We excitedly rushed to the door, thankful for some unexpected family time only to find him with an odd, confused stare. ‘I think I was just fired…’ he said.

‘You think? What does that mean?!?’ I was equally confused as he recounted the event in which his employer had handed him his paycheck and casually dismissed his hard-working employee without explanation, clarity, or even conversation. ‘You’ve given him so much of your life for the last 5 years! You’ve been the one to stay late and come early, taking on extra projects outside of your job just to help out! How could he do so with such disrespect and lack of explanation?’

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

At first, I was furious and terrified. How were we going to make ends meet? We hardly had any savings to speak of and were still paying off a few debts. And nobody was hiring, as the pandemic had just begun! Taking a deep breath, I searched my mind for solutions. ‘I could take extra clients and we could reverse roles for a bit… oh wait… I can’t even do that right now!’ I thought. My services were deemed ‘non-essential.’ We looked at each other and miraculously felt a wave of relief flood over us both as we smiled. This job had been slowly killing him, taking every ounce of his energy and stomping out his spirit.

He was often anxious, with a negative outlook and it seemed to dawn on us at the same time while this would be a whole new challenge filled with uncertainty… we were also both FREE. Free to create a life together that was shaped by our priorities and passion, a life in which our child would see more of her father than just a quick goodnight or 10 minutes during lunchtime. This would be hard, but we could do it.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

As he began working side jobs here and there and figuring out how he could get his own automotive repair business up and running, I often felt as though I was drowning. We were barely able to pay our expenses and I felt helpless without the ability to contribute. Our highly intuitive, strong-willed, and perceptive toddler was mirroring my emotions, putting us in an overwhelming cycle of frequent tantrums and short tempers. Her sleep habits were worse than infancy, and it often felt like more than I could handle. I knew I needed to up my self-care game at home, or I was going to lose it! I had previously deepened my practice of yoga and studied meditation, receiving my meditation teaching certification and helping my clients recognize the immense benefits of developing these practices of movement and meditation.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

I then realized I held all the tools to help her (and us) within myself… but at the tender young age of 2, could she understand? Only one way to find out and I discovered the answer was a resounding, ‘YES!’ She had been joining me on the yoga mat since she was a baby, but how could we build upon this? Introducing simple meditation concepts, making time for joyful movement stories, and creating music together all helped to deepen her emotional awareness and sense of self. She also helped me to slow down and be present in the beautiful moments surrounding us, such as the simple joys of splashing in a puddle or the magnificent colors of a sunset.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

As I began to see a noticeable improvement in her behavior and sleep habits, as well as my own mindset and emotional state, I became increasingly aware we were not the only ones experiencing these challenges and seeking greater peace! Parents, teachers, and caregivers were all presented with similar obstacles and though it often felt like it, I was definitely not alone!

Children (and their grown-ups) experience big feelings, often without the tools to understand, explore, or express them! Through exploring the power of meditation, movement, and music with emotional awareness sprinkled throughout, we’ve been able to improve our behaviors, further our personal growth, and strengthen our family relationship together. I knew we were onto something when her adorable little self told me, ‘It’s okay, Mommy, just breathe… just breeeaaaathe,’ when she noticed me getting frustrated. Now 3, she is able to identify and explain her emotions, telling me she is ‘sad and fwustwated’ instead of throwing lengthy tantrums.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

I felt called to help others who were feeling this sense of overwhelm and exhaustion. It was time to share the discoveries we’d made, and the Peaceful Empowerment Project was born! Through simple meditations, easy-to-follow movement, and uplifting music, we are supporting and inspiring children and their grown-ups to create peaceful habits that will benefit them for a lifetime.

There were plenty of meditation programs or yoga classes available for adults, and even many made accessible through virtual meetups and gatherings. But often mothers (and fathers) hesitate to take part, for fear their children will interrupt or distract them. Instead, let’s invite them to join us and create a more peaceful 2021 TOGETHER.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

Our past year was littered with challenges and setbacks, and I’m sure yours had its fair share as well. Here’s a recap of some of our biggest plot twists turned opportunities:

Hubby lost his job… only to open his own business and has grown exponentially as a person through his journey of becoming a business owner.

I was unable to hold my scheduled workshops and events… leading to the writing and release of my first published book, ‘Empaths at the Edge!’

I couldn’t go on a book tour… so I began mentoring empaths in the Cedar Valley and virtually, which led to supporting women through powerful, transformational growth.

Marriage felt as though it was hanging on by a thread. Instead of cutting that thread, we committed to positive growth together and feel more unified than ever.

Less hands-on healing opportunity due to the pandemic… resulted in virtual healing sessions with women from around the world.

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

Instead of library and art center activities, play-dates, and mom meetups, I was home with a busy, demanding, and intensely active toddler. This led to exploring movement and meditation more deeply with Hallie, creating beautiful memories together, and the birth of the Peaceful Empowerment Project.

By focusing on what matters most, sharing love and peace with one another while empowering the next generation to live lives full of kindness and empathy, we will always come out stronger on the other side. As I reflect upon the year behind and set intentions for the year to come, I’m truly amazed at the Divine grace and support shown to us at every turn. How can your challenges and obstacles become the discovery of your greatest growth and opportunity in greeting a more peacefully empowered life?”

Courtesy of Ashley Kay Andy

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Kay Andy from Cedar Falls, IA. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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