In our old office, whenever I needed to pump, I would have to clear everyone—staff, artists, interns— out of our one room office. Having to request this mass exodus, and calling attention to my milk laden breasts every three hours was far from ideal. When we moved into our new office building, I asked the facilities manager if there was somewhere private that I could pump during the day. She gave me the keys to the “Health Realization Training Room.” She explained that this was the office of the Health Realization outreach worker, who was never there, since she was always doing health and wellness outreach in the community.
A small luxury in the middle of the day. Privacy. Alone in a room. A moment to take a breath.
Then a few weeks ago I bumped into the Health Realization outreach worker. I told her that I used her office to pump. Wise, calm, centered. These are the words that came to my mind when I met her. “Doesn’t that room have great energy?” she said.
I had never thought about it before, but yes, it had a good energy.
Last week I was a wreck. Everything seemed to be conspiring to undermine me. My mind wouldn’t stop racing. I wasn’t sleeping. Spinning thinking – this is what my mother used to call it. Round and round we go:
What if I don’t get another job? What if they cut the state budget and Dave loses his job? Is Ellis healthy? My body aches, I need to go to yoga, I don’t have time for yoga., I miss my mom, How is my brother really doing?, We haven’t properly mopped the floors in weeks, Is Ellis eating enough? What if I don't get another job?
My anxiety levels were soaring.
Then, on Thursday, when I went to the Health Realization room to pump, I found this chart that diagrammed a busy mind and a calm mind. There are always photocopied handouts lying around the office, but this chart was dead in the middle of the table, in front of the chair that I sit in to pump. As if it were waiting for me.
Health realization, it explained on the back, is the theory that our thinking creates our reality. If we change our thinking, we change our reality. If we learn how to calm down our thinking, we have access to the health that is within us all (“innate health”).
I have never heard of “health realization” but I am familiar with these concepts. This theory was very important to my mother and her practice of psychology—she used it with her clients and in her own life. I never knew the technical term for this body of thought.
My mother took every chance she could to remind me that I could change my thinking, and therefore change my world. Still, I needed it charted out and placed in front of me in the Health Realization room. My mother finds me in all sorts of places.
Remember the things your mother told you: Still your mind. Real-ize your power. Make your own real.
I took the busy vs. calm mind chart to my therapist, like you take a picture of a haircut from a magazine to your hair dresser.
Here, this one, I want this mind, I said. The calm one. The one that gives me access to my creativity. That helps me see innocence and opportunity, rather than dysfunction and obstacles. This one.
Ok, she said.
Start by breathing.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.