Seven months ago I gave birth to my first child, a baby girl named Metta Mae. She arrived naturally and on her own terms. The experience of giving birth was an exercise in complete surrender. I had to give in to the process completely, and instead of resisting contractions with fear I allowed each wave to take me over. While the birth was happening to me, I was also participating in it by being in tune and aware. It was a yoga practice. It was a metaphor for how to live life. Fully present, in the flow – both in surrender and engaged.

Metta arrived ten days early and so I entered my three-month maternity leave unexpectedly. I swear Metta knew I could no longer handle the stress of my job! I had been at on Core Staff in the Omega Institute Development department for almost four years. In the days leading up to Metta’s birth I was completely overwhelmed with the stress of preparing for the leave. For months leading up to my birth I had migraines, stomach pain, trouble sleeping, and was really noticing the effects of stress on my body. I didn’t want to hold on to the job anymore but I was afraid to let go.

The day before I went in to labor I was on Omega’s campus at the Mindfulness & Education Conference, ensuring that photos were taken of scholarship recipients—a wonderful experience and opportunity to welcome teachers from all over the United States to attend that program free of charge. It was a balmy but beautiful August day and when my duties at the event were complete I decided to treat myself to a massage.

While I waited on a sunny porch outside a small cabin for the massage therapist, a woman I knew vaguely as a teacher of ecstatic hula hooping was also in line for a massage. She reached out her hand, touched my shoulder and said, “honey, I bet if I push you just a little bit you will break down.” She was right. At her touch my eyes welled with tears. I was at full capacity working full time and teaching yoga through my pregnancy. I had taught my final yoga class before maternity leave just two days before to a packed and sweaty room of more than 50 Bard College students at the very beginning of a new semester.

Metta granted me reprieve by arriving less than 48 hour later. The hormonal roller coaster of the first week of motherhood left me dizzy with emotion, crying on the bedroom floor, and overall crazy. I found the first week of breastfeeding more painful and difficult than giving birth with no drugs had been! Slowly though, I regained stability and with it a came a new grounded clarity.

I felt immense relief from the stress of my job while I was on maternity leave, but I was also empty without the sense of purpose that a full time career had provided. When three months ended I was eager to get back to work—but once I was back at my desk something had changed.

It was a change within my soul, a reminder that my self worth was not woven in to my success at fundraising, or ability to meet deadlines and create mutually beneficial relationships for Omega. While Omega’s mission still resonated with my heart, my work no longer did. One day I was working from home and felt a strong irritation and negative energy sweep over me because of some email—some common, stressful work situation.

I looked down at Metta and something snapped.

I asked myself, what kind of role model do I want to be for her? Do I want her to have a mother who is negative, stressed, and powerless—or do I want to show her that YES it is possible to go for your dreams and steer your inner navigation toward creating an ideal life for yourself? The answer was so invigorating and clear and this time I chose not to ignore it. The next step on my journey had arrived right along with my new baby girl.