My friend Andrea is an artist and mother of 4. She recently mentioned something that gave me an acute “I sure wish I’d thought of that” moment. So I asked her to share her insights with all of us Mama’s Comfort Campers, as a part of the Mama’s Comfort Camp first anniversary blogging festival. I’m thrilled that she agreed.

Andrea Stern blogs about her art at, sells her creations at her Etsy shop. I just love her artwork. She shares her life on as Twitter  as annaline_39.

Before I pass the mic on to Andrea, I’d like to invite you to join us for the Mama’s Comfort Camp Twitter Party on Sunday March 1o at 8:30pm eastern. We will be talking about judgement free motherhood and celebrating a year of our safe haven for moms from around the world. Please join the conversation by using the hashtag #mamascomfort.
And if you are a mother of kids of any age, please join us, and whether you are a mother or not, we’d love it if you could “like” and share our facebook page which is the gateway to joining the group.

Passing the mic to Andrea:


Like many of my friends, I have been choosing a Word of the Year to help me set my intention for the year and serve as a touchstone for the choices I make during the year. This year, the word that resonated with me was the word Power. This word would encompass the direction I wanted to take myself, physically, mentally and with my artwork.

One method I chose to help myself feel more powerful was to pick back up with my yoga practice. I have been using several yoga videos, and the body part I noticed that these practices focused on a lot was the shoulders.

As I felt myself growing stronger, I also became more aware of how much tension I have been holding in my shoulders. One day, while journaling, I wrote the word “shoulders”. Then, in one of those weird epiphanies that seem to happen when I need them, I saw the word in a different way, and drew a slash between the “d” and the “e”. “Should/ers”. “Should/ers”.

No wonder my shoulders have been so tight! They are carrying all of the “shoulds” that I have internalized as a woman and a mother, including:
I “should” always offer made from scratch healthful meals to my children.
I “should” always have a spotless home.
I “should” always be available for them, even when they have grown and are making their own lives.
I “should” put off pursuing my passion until they are all grown up and move out.
And so on.
Just writing that word that way helped me to become more aware of when I was holding my shoulders to my ears, and of the thoughts that were happening when I’d notice this pattern. I would consciously relax the muscles and let my shoulders drop, even if for a second, and I started feeling better.
Then last week, my daughter found a TED talk, by Amy Cuddy, and sent it to me. In it, Ms. Cuddy talked about how we project our power, or our powerlessness, through our body language. Guess how we project powerlessness?
Yes, by hunching our shoulders in!
Ms. Cuddy also talks about the body language that projects power, and cites studies that show how standing in a position of power can release testosterone and reduce cortisol. By standing in one of the positions she shows for a mere two minutes, it is possible to change one’s confidence levels, and how you project yourself to others. She states that it could even change the course of your life.

You can watch this video right here:

Sometimes all the “shoulds” of being a mother can really overwhelm us. But with a little self compassion and awareness of how we are carrying our bodies, we can reclaim some of our power. Try letting go of some of those “shoulds” for a few minutes, and watch yourself shine.

I just love Andre’s insights, and adore that they are served coupled with a physical movement to embody them with.
Thank you so much, Andrea.

As a parting gift, here is one of Andrea’s beautiful drawings:
Click on the image to be taken to her etsy shop to see more. 

Imaginary Beads III 

So, how about you? How are you your Shoul/ders today?
Do share your thoughts in the comments. Much love.

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2 Responses to Shoulders

  1. I carry so much tension in my shoulders too. As I read this, I began to relax my shoulders. This resonated with me today. Thank you for sharing your story.

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