Mar 2016

What do you need to flourish?

After I had Annabelle my life was (obviously) all about her.  I was in survival mode, just sleeping when I could, keeping the business going, trying to still be a good mother to Marshall and maybe having a conversation or two with Jonathan;). After a few months I started to crave getting out of survival mode and into thriving mode.

But I just couldn’t get there.  The days just spiraled by either feeling painfully slow, boring and hard or so fast I couldn’t grab onto anything.

Whenever I’m struggling to transition my life to another place and I just can’t seem to make the leap, I take some space.  I pumped my brains out, left Jonathan in charge and took off to one of my favorite spas for the day.

As I was sitting there looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge, I opened my journal and asked my inner wise self, what do I need to flourish?  I was unattached to the answer and had no idea what was going to come through.

My wise woman wrote about needing nature, movement, more dates, art, downtime and more massages.

Then I asked the critical question, “How do I make that happen?”.

Stop pumping, she wrote back to me.

I was surprised.  I felt pretty committed to giving Annabelle exclusively breastmilk for at least six months.  And although I didn’t like to pump, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.  But when I thought about it, in order to have the freedom I desired, I was pumping all the time, sometimes three times a day to keep up a supply so Annabelle could be bottle fed.  This was taking up almost an hour and a half of free time a day!  

It was one of those decisions that felt like breaking a promise and putting myself before my daughter.  It also felt like I should be able to make this simple thing work.  But I started to imagine what my life would look like without pumping and it felt gooooood.  In my fantasy I had time to move my body, time to sink into my relationship after the kids went to sleep, brain space freed up from no longer stressing out about if there’s enough breastmilk.  It was clear that this one change would make me a much happier woman and better mother overall.

It forced me to question my values as a parent, what kind of mother I want to be and gave my inner perfectionist a run for her money.  But I let it go, and everything shifted.  The level of ease and flexibility I felt not taking the time to pump and supplementing with formula was seriously life changing, and everyone noticed, especially Jonathan who was grateful to have Happy Sarah back.  

Now, the point of this is not to tell you how to take care of your baby, no no no no, every woman has the right to do whatever she wants.  My point is that there may be one simple thing in your life that is throwing everything else off balance.  And shifting that thing may be a small loss for a HUGE gain.  

Take some time today to consider what that is.  Maybe you want to take some space this weekend and do some journalling.  Just start with:

Dear Wise Self,

What do I need to flourish?

How can I make that happen?

You’ll probably be surprised by what she writes back.  

In the comments I’d love to know if you’ve had a similar experience?  And once you take time to do this I would love to know what that one thing is for you.


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  • Alissa

    I am not sure is the answer! I really have no idea what I need to flourish… Cause I am not right now. I have been in survival mode for almost a year (divorce, two small children, a move back north home to Boston, dealing with lawyers, and crazy ex husbands, trying to start a business) I don’t really know what makes me flourish in this new phase of MY Life. Yoga has been amazing gift to me and therapy and reconnecting with my nearest and dearest friends has been life changing….

    • Those are all things that are helping you get to where you should be. I know you’re going through a lot right now and I know it isn’t easy, but think about what areas you feel are big energy leaks for you and if there’s a way to help minimize that. I hope that helps and I’m keeping you in my thoughts as you navigate through this.

  • Nelly Eisenhower

    I love this post. Not because of your decisions or the content (which is great btw) but because it took a great act of courage to open up in such a way. I am going to try this activity this weekend and see what happens. Love to you!

  • OMG, I just made this same choice a couple weeks ago. I just could.not. do the breastfeeding anymore for my 8 month old. If felt like I SHOULD be able to keep this up, WHY CANT I? But I couldnt. Simple fact. And I have been sooooo much more myself since making that decision. Freeing up time and more importantly energy which is ultimately making me a better parent all around. oxox Nicole

  • mary

    About a month ago, I was in a non-committed relationship with a man that started out great but ended up being very unhealthy for me. I had a hard time letting the 3 month relationship go. I knew he couldn’t give me a real relationship but it was still hard. After finally accepting the obvious, I realized I was being needy. I took the space to figure out what I really needed for MYSELF. I decided to travel out of town to get away and gain balance. I could have decided I couldn’t afford it or made excuses but I made the decision to do something healthy instead of sitting around binge eating all weekend. It was a great weekend getaway with shopping, resting, and spending time in nature with hiking about 5 miles. This relationship had to give and I have been able to turn it into a positive experience where I am “flourishing” in peace and quiet which my soul had been craving. I also have been mediating for about 3 weeks. I have been reading books which helps me feel centered. And taking walks and lifting weights which I really enjoy. I hung on to the relationship for fear of loneliness but I have actually gained so much in the process because I committed to my happiness. LOVE your work!

    • Mary this is so beautiful. I’m so glad that you’ve discovered what feeds your soul and that you’re focusing on your happiness and going after it. xo

  • Monique

    Hi Sarah, I made a decision like this two years ago, when we decided to forgo the homeschooling program we were using to do it ourselves instead. Got the scary, “There could be holes in his education!” from some but others could see how both my son and I were going to flourish from having more time to do the things WE felt were important for his education. He was able to finish writing a 67,000-word middle grade novel and it’s in the hands of an agent. He also has had the time to play violin in two youth orchestras and was just awarded branch honors for an adjudication. It was one of those “Do I know what I’m doing?” kinda decisions but deep inside it felt right…and a feeling of, “I HAVE to do this to keep my sanity!” Oh, I was unable to breastfeed enough for my son to thrive, so the choice on that one was made for me (problem with milk ducts). He got about three-quarters of his calories from supplementing. And he’s never visited the doctor for anything besides a wellness appointment. If you find formula is a digestive issue for Annabelle, try goat’s milk. That’s what we used and it’s easier to digest than cow’s milk or soy. Good luck with everything and I really enjoy your posts!

    • Hi Monique. Your son is a very impressive young man. Wishing you both the best and so much success! Thank you so much for connecting.

  • Breastfeeding was so much harder than I thought it would be! With my first, felt so guilty for weaning at 4 months due to severe thrush, despite the pain that my son and I were both experiencing as a result. Now, I know it was the best decision!

    My bigger point to make is that I love your question: “What do I need to flourish?” Deceptively simple, but cuts to the heart of life. I so want to get my journal out and dig into this!

    • Keep me posted on how the journaling goes Joanne. I’d love to hear what comes up for you if you are open to sharing.

  • I breastfed both my older two kids effortlessly so imagine my surprise and concern when my youngest wasn’t able to latch on. She was losing weight, I was becoming uncomfortable and the poor kid just couldn’t do it. She was struggling, I was struggling and feeling so incredibly guilty ….but I finally let go of the struggle and went to formula. All three of my kids are now grown – and it didn’t make one whit of a difference. They all did well in school, suffered no health problems and are all 3 incredibly independent, well-adjusted adults. Don’t let guilt or others guilting you make your decisions for you.

  • Meredith

    Thank you for posting this. I have a 10-month old baby that I am breastfeeding and I also work. I have been struggling with pumping to keep up with what baby needs while I work. I did not work with my first baby so I was home and nursed him without missing a beat until he was 2. So I feel like I owe it to this baby to do the same. But things are not the same. I work now and the pumping is making me miserable. I only have 9 weeks to go to make it to a whole year, but I’m just so over it. I remind myself that there are no medals in the end for never giving your babies formula or doing what you need to do so YOU can be happy. I don’t know if I will keep with it or not, but just reading this makes me know I am not alone. Thank you.

    • Hi Meredith. You’re definitely not alone. Sit with things and weigh your options and see what’s feeling best for you. Big hugs!

  • Kaytea

    Thank you Sarah for this great blog. I always appreciate how you often speak out and it seems like your timing is just perfect. While I”m not a mom yet but am getting close to that phase of my life. I’m also in transition mode. I love how open you are with yourself and your life and I’m constantly delighted with your “curve balls” you throw into the mix. Like this surprise curve ball, not breastfeeding. It’s so great to hear women being open to the unexpected, trying something they never thought they would or could be open to do/try. Thank you for sharing and I will definitely use these starter questions in a journal session. Soon! I’ve been surprised that in my transition phase, it’s been leading me to take a break from the non-profit that I love but just need a shift in my work environment. Thank you!

    • Hi Kaytea!

      I’m so glad this post resonated with you and has you feeling inspired. Keep me posted on how things are going.

  • Natalie

    Wow. So much yes!!! I had the same exact experience. So nice to have it put in spiritual perspective! Thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Natalie. I’m so glad this resonated with you so much and that this perspective helps. Thank you for connecting.

  • Kristen

    Good for you! Yes, breastfeeding is wonderful, but ultimately, your family needs a healthy and happy you most of all. We moms beat ourselves up way too much in pursuit of perfection when all we ever really need is just to be good enough. A teacher once told me that self care is an act of service; we can only give our best selves to the world when we aren’t so tapped out and depleted that we have nothing left to give. Enjoy your massages!

    • Thank you Kristen. I completely agree with everything you and your teacher have said here. xo

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