Contemplative Motherhood Podcast

Sharing our Noticings: Wrapping Up Season 1

August 08, 2021 Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple Season 1 Episode 12
Sharing our Noticings: Wrapping Up Season 1
Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
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Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
Sharing our Noticings: Wrapping Up Season 1
Aug 08, 2021 Season 1 Episode 12
Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple

In the last episode of Season 1, Erin and Chelsea discuss what they have individually noticed about Season 1 and the topics presented. They dive deeper into the effect their kids have on their spiritual lives, why saying No was such a difficult episode for both of them, and saying goodbye to mom guilt. Erin, who recently went on a retreat, talks about her experience and what she discovered about the contemplative lifestyle that made her change her outlook. Nothing is left on the table in this episode.

To keep in touch with them please email them at

Look out for details of Season 2!

Show Notes Transcript

In the last episode of Season 1, Erin and Chelsea discuss what they have individually noticed about Season 1 and the topics presented. They dive deeper into the effect their kids have on their spiritual lives, why saying No was such a difficult episode for both of them, and saying goodbye to mom guilt. Erin, who recently went on a retreat, talks about her experience and what she discovered about the contemplative lifestyle that made her change her outlook. Nothing is left on the table in this episode.

To keep in touch with them please email them at

Look out for details of Season 2!

Chelsea Whipple  0:04  

You are listening to the contemplative motherhood podcast, my name is Chelsea, I'm a teacher, practitioner, spiritual director and pilgrim. 

Erin Thomas  0:12  

And I'm Erin, a creative homeschool educator, counselor, and spiritual seeker, listen in as we dive deeper into the contemplative lifestyle, through hearing about each of our lives.

Chelsea Whipple  0:24  

You'll hear our triumphs failures, practices and mistakes as we journey together. You might even hear a kid or two in the background.

Erin Thomas  0:34  

So grab some coffee, Tea, curl up and take off your shoes. You are welcome here. Now let's get started.

Chelsea Whipple  0:45  

Welcome everyone to our final episode of season one of the contemplative motherhood podcast. I am your co-host Chelsea Whipple and I'm here of course with the most beautiful Erin Thomas,

Erin Thomas  1:00  

oh my word. Your so sweet, thank you for it. Make a mother feel a little less frumpy today.

Chelsea Whipple  1:07  

You don't look frumpy if you're watching us on YouTube right now. So, as we embark on our final episode of season one Erin and I have had lots of discussion of how could we kind of I think we even use the metaphor like landing the plane, even though I think we're gonna feel like we're still flying high. I don't know if I ever really want to land. But how could we collectively come together and put everything you know inner weave all of the different episodes of season one into kind of in an ending formation. So this is our best, 

Erin Thomas  1:53  

our best efforts, 

Chelsea Whipple  1:54  

best effort on doing this. And so we're going to just share some thoughts that we've individually or collectively noticed, since we first began this season. 

Chelsea Whipple  2:05  

And I'm going to jump right in and start us off. So one thing I noticed that was interweaved in probably the majority of our episodes, you know, all of our episodes we talked about our kids and our relationships to our kids. And one thing I noticed, and even talked about Erin will jump in with her examples is that my kids surprised me continuously when I'm in their presence. I mean, it is never a dull day in the Whipple household. For various reasons, we all, you know, just today for example, we had a singing competition. And so that in itself obviously surprises me. But they really are the ones that are offer glimpses of the Divine, more than anything else I connect with. It could just be a word or hear a moment, I could catch a glimpse of their eyes, anything like that that just all the sudden I can feel that Divine Presence. And I am truly fascinated by their nature. I mean, they just all kids just have this newness to life about them just figuring out the world around them, you know conversations and questions that they asked me and I have to think how age appropriate Do I answer this question. You know and so I'm always surprised by the things that they say, and really their inventive personalities like if we want to talk about what is sacred in our life day to day. That's one of them. I mean, the fact that we don't have the old days, and even the dull days where it just seems like everything goes on as planned and nothing out of the ordinary happens. There's always something creative that pops in and I love just absolutely noticing that with them. It's, you know, each day them waking up, and I get the pleasure of watching them firsthand really come into their own being, and how that relates to everything around them in their own different distinct personalities in their likes and dislikes that changes on a daily basis, even if they decided they liked each other that day, it's just them finding their footing in this world. And I compare it. It's truly like watching a butterfly. Every day, slowly rise out of its cocoon. I mean my kids have so much to teach me and I love it. And what about you.

Erin Thomas  4:45  

I love that, I think, you know that's one of the, just the easiest things to notice for me is, in a similar fashion, I think, I've noticed that wonder, in general, is so inherent and my children. So built into their being that they teach me to ask questions, even difficult questions that could even change the way I view the world. They're innocent promptings to inquire, just out of sheer curiosity about life, inspire me to be a curious wonderfilled spiritual seeker, you know, I also have two very animated children. Again, it is not a dull home here either, as I'm sure it's true for many. My children are very charismatic individuals, and I used that term. Almost like their little cartoon characters. Um, but I have one in particular that has, both of them do, but one in particular that has a fascination with nature, and what I really equated to. This process is that he's filled with wonder nature, and he'll ask questions that I don't know the answer to but inspire me to seek out the answers and you know things like I had never thought about why a particular insect has certain features, or why each bird has its own call those type of questions right, your kids always ask you really hard questions that you have or don't. I think it just

Erin Thomas  6:42  

in evitablly leads them to know the divine. and how they connect with the Divine. Also, the sacred of more than just. So, I'm inspired by their wonder. Yeah. Anything else Chels, this is interesting. I want to know have there been any challenges for you this season for you.

Chelsea Whipple  7:07  

Yeah. You know if I would say, what episode made the most impact or what's still sitting with me, what am I resonating or resisting with, you know the episode we did on saying no, I am still like processing this episode. And, um, you know, And again, like I admitted in the episode, even now, talking about it, and going processing through that, you know, with you, Erin. I still struggle with saying no to things I intentionally care about, you know, meaning that I'm involved in certain activities that fulfill my heart. They operate out of that heart center that we talked about, but even those activities are overwhelming at times. And you know what I did not realize until after the episode

Chelsea Whipple  8:02  

that it wasn't just the ego that can say yes too much. You know another lesson I'm learning is to be intentional with my time and I think that's important when it comes to what we decide to spend our energy on. I had this one week after the episode where it seemed deadline loomed everywhere I looked, you know, I did not feel intentional, but that I was just trying to survive. And I wondered, you know, how did I get myself into this. After we just had this discussion of saying no like I thought I was doing a good. I understand, but it was like when it came to the surface I realized like, no, no, no, no, no, I'm not doing too good at this, you know, and it was asking myself, Okay, I just talked about saying no to not being overwhelmed, to be really in the daily presence and just be and not do, You know what do I need to drop? And I went to my spiritual director, you know, really baffled about how I got myself into this situation. And then I had to laugh at myself. Because, you know, one I just don't think we laugh at ourselves enough like I had to laugh that I got myself into this. And, you know, that kind of ease some tension in here I was teaching others to say no and somehow I found myself in this mess. And I excused it as saying that everything I was doing was intentional. It said, you know my heart center gave me joy. It was energy inducing all those beautiful steps that we talked about, but I missed one thing that I found out later that we didn't really spend much time on. And that was about the intentionality of time is that's another step. You know, if we want if we talk about being contemplatives and being intentional and being aware, you know kind of the those key words, is that I was not intentional about the time I was spending. I was dedicating too much time to these things without being intentional in my daily walk, you know, without stopping to think is purposeful today. I know it has to be done and I've got a deadline to get some things done that. There are, that are on my heart But is it necessary for today. And then, it was as if the intentionality of these acts, turned into those set of tasks that I had to be checked off that I really didn't want to be that type of person anymore. In that episode really taught me a lot. That how noticing what we said yes to it can turn into too much, and start to take away from ourselves. So looking at every day. Just that day, not what's ahead but as intentional time with the Spirit. It's sometimes I do too much that day. Sometimes I'm good at being. But it's really given me a deeper insight into the importance of a Sabbath day. And if you're not familiar with the Sabbath day. It's that day of rest, and it can be a certain day most of the time that would be Saturdays, or it can just be any, any time you want to take the first day of intentionality of being one with no task before us. None of those yes's that are heart centered for you, but really just being present that day, I think that's really important, and I've really had to try to learn to kind of evolve into that. And that's gonna take a while. We're gonna see how well I do at it.

Erin Thomas  12:06  

We'll check back.

Chelsea Whipple  12:08  

Yeah, but I, for me it's that intentionality of time that I need to be aware of. 

Erin Thomas  12:16  


Erin Thomas  12:18  

I love that Chelsea I, I agree with you and I think we've even talked about this that that was probably the episode that I needed to hear, more than any other episode and also was sort of internalizing a message for myself. I found, sort of the same deal as you is, there are several things that are very close to my heart, and things that I'm very passionate about and feel very inclined to do prompted to do. And inevitably, that also has that sort of balancing act of struggling with saying no to things that I know I can and can complete, but realizing that there's also a prioritization, that has to happen. And, you know, just like you, I found that I can if I love something, I can create to dos from things that I love to keep me busy. That's not, you know, to me, I was always one of those people that can create work even if there's not work. I don't know how that happens, just inherent personality characteristic but. And so, again, same with you I have also learned to embrace the mindset of this habit to. And for me, it looking like a rhythm in my life as well. One of the words that I like to use in my life is margin. Do I have margin in for unstructured time, being present with my family, being present in my relationships, have I created margin in my children's lives, partnering with them and creating margin that I'm not over scheduling them, and leaving time for unstructured play, and reading to them and things that will connect us in our relationship, leaving some unscheduled time on the weekends with a focus on just family relationships. I tend to be one of those people that I can get on social media and find 45 events that are happening that weekend that look really fun. And I'll say that COVID definitely shifted that a bit, but we do like to be outdoors and so, you know, but it doesn't always have to be some sort of structured activity that I have planned. In order for us to engage in deepening our relationships. Creating margin for quiet time, and I know we'll get into this in a little bit but solitude is not my super big strength as a social being. But I have to say one of the things that has resonated with me that you shared a little bit about is that Sabbath has felt like an increasing desire to be a rhythm of active rest. And what I mean by that is it's not just that I am not doing anything per se, that's on my list, but that I'm actually carving time for relationships. And that reminder. And that level of accountability to creating that margin has changed my life, my health. Definitely, and the quality of relationships that I have, because if there's no margin to dialogue if there's no margin to have conversation, or sit next to each other on the couch and talk or meet a friend for coffee. Then I have to ask myself in genuinely what is the quality of that relationship, and that is how margin has been a wonderful tool, going on a little bit. 

Erin Thomas  16:37  

This is again one of our bigger challenges, that was pretty traumatic throughout our season we touch on, mom guilt. And I just feel like that's a universal language,

Chelsea Whipple  16:53  

can we make that a bad word,

Erin Thomas  16:55  

it should be. I really do. You know, I mean, Mom shaming mom guilt, these things are just universally should be like outlawed, I don't know. But, you know, I feel like if we're honest with ourselves, mom guilt is one of those things that's a continual uphill battle, right, that doesn't, doesn't necessarily go away every day that it's present. Even as a spiritual seeker. So even within the confines of the desire to quote unquote lay off our societal expectations in different contexts. That the world lays on us as mothers, there's sort of an element of understanding that, You know, we sort of feel like we never may be completely void of knowing that guilt can lurk around the corner. At some point, right. But as a contemplative mother. I, it's important for me to be intentional. Right, not to notice it. And that's why we say no to things today. As a contemplative mother I can still see to be present enough to see it coming to recognize the mom guilt and to refuse to let it immerse me in a plethora of unrealistic expectations. We are absolutely not powerless in a culture of expectation and consumption. 

Erin Thomas  18:24  

We are 100% fully able to decide and be present with the Divine and in our family's lives and not have everything around us dictated in the sense of, you know, we decide where our time goes, we decide where we put our emotional energy and honing these notices skills have really allow us to move forward without the fear, just without the fear of measuring up, we can just go throughout why being the mom that we are, and not having that lurking fear of not measuring up feeling guilty about something, Chels, I would love to hear a little bit about your experience with Mom guilt, is this something that you struggle with, I'm assuming. 

Chelsea Whipple  19:17  

Oh yeah, I mean like, as an admitted people pleaser. That's really ever present. It wasn't, you know, honestly before being contemplative, I always knew I was a people pleaser, but it was just part of who I was. Now I noticed when I am doing that, mom guilt is weighs heavily on me, it can cause anxiety. Just because you know I can feel guilty about dozens of things today about not spending enough time with my kids, maybe not disciplining them correctly, not appearing well in public or my kids are kind of out of control, 

Erin Thomas  20:05  


Chelsea Whipple  20:05  

the public's eyes are on me, you name it. I have felt it. I feel it all the time.

Chelsea Whipple  20:14  

Like you, Erinn. I notice it so much more. And when you notice things, you can start to name them, Like what, why am I feeling anxious. You know, I went to a art show with my kids I'm laughing because why would you bring three boys to an art show. And they just, you know, they don't know how to sit on a couch, they don't know how to not run in open spaces, they don't know the level tone of their voice, and I just full anxiety of just like, oh my gosh, I was so afraid they're going to break things, you know, how are people perceiving them those kinds of things, but I just remember looking around with these kind eyes looking back at my kids. And just realizing like, I'm bringing this mom guilt on me. And that's, you know, and that was just a noticing for me personally, you know, so when I noticed mom guilt when it pops up. I really just, it helps so much to be present to it. Where's this guilt coming from? Is it because I'm trying to please others, is it because I don't feel good enough or you know whatever whatever is your thing that I have and I have accepted all my insecurities, to me it's just, again, it's part of who I am. 

Erin Thomas  21:38  


Chelsea Whipple  21:39  

It allows me to name it. And half the time when I name it I have to laugh. If you haven't noticed that I like to laugh at myself,

Erin Thomas  21:46  

Its good, its a good personality trait right.

Chelsea Whipple  21:49  

Like really, why am I feeling guilty over this, you know it, and is it me feeling guilty, is someone else trying to make me feel guilty like where's the emotions coming from that. And, but I will say sometimes it has something to teach me, you know, absolutely. And I think that's important too because especially if I feel guilty about not spending enough time with my kids. That can be something that's true, that, you know what you haven't. You haven't spent enough time, and I love your talk earlier about unstructured time with that because that's so true. You know, if, if this starts popping up usually that's telling me something like I need to spend some time with them, either one on one, individually or as a family. Do something spontaneous or something adventurous something, you know that they want. So, there is lessons in that. Oops, sorry. 

Erin Thomas  22:44  

I love it, background music. 

Chelsea Whipple  22:47  

Just realized my phone is not on mute.

Chelsea Whipple  22:50  

All right, um, you know, and sometimes mom guilts just a good lesson of letting go. I for one, you know, I'm ready to let go of the guilt and expectations that we put on ourselves. You know I feel like Elsa, you know, let it go, 

Erin Thomas  23:09  

my daughter loves that one. 

Chelsea Whipple  23:11  

I know, like that should be a theme sometimes with people, is we've taken on too much or we're feeling guilty or expectations are too high, just let it go, take a deep breath and let it go. 

Chelsea Whipple  23:24  

And so Erin just to pivot back to you. You recently went on a retreat by yourself. And I got an amazing message from you that really made me think, and you described how you were taken aback really thinking that you needed to or desired or I know you're going to get deeper into this but having this mountaintop spiritual experience. And, you know that you were expecting to have or wanting to have, but then realize something that is so important to be in a contemplative please dive us deeper. Tell us what you experienced or what you realized, 

Erin Thomas  24:08  

so I can share a little bit about this you know I've been trying to get a highly recommended if you are able to do a retreat at some point in time, I went into this with sort of the preface that this is going to be a time of solitude and silence. That was something that I really felt like I needed, I needed to at least try. And so I went to a beautiful retreat center, Wesley garden retreat center it's just outside of Savannah, you've ever been to Savannah, beautiful city. Don't come in July or August, just kidding. But you know it's that rack right next to the river, surrounded by marsh land. Just this lush coastal beauty intercoastal waterways, everywhere you look. It was about a million degrees. So I don't think I did as much outside, as I thought that I was going to actually the heat index for the weekend was 116. So that was just insane. But it did give me more time to sit and that silence, indoors. 

Erin Thomas  25:22  

Anyway, I remember so funny because I remember calling you. And I think I was rambling, because I was so nervous. And I remember telling you I was just so nervous about the silence and solitude, it actually gave me anxiety, to think about being alone and quiet. And I think a lot of us have that especially if you're a mom, you're just used to doing and being busy a lot. I'm also a super social person so I love being round of talking to people. I love hearing stories so the idea of being alone and quiet, was actually really scary. But as I reflected a little bit about why I was having this anxiety right if we can notice that we're having it and then we can name it. As you said, Chels, and I realized that what I was struggling with, was that I thought there was an expectation from whoever that I needed to have this spiritual experience that maybe that's what had happened in the past and in situations like this and so I needed to go into that and have the same type of experience that there needed to be weeping and inner healing and I don't know, I just, it was a whole dramatic scene in my head. 

Erin Thomas  26:43  

But I remember you said to me that day Chels. Erin, I want you to go into this experience with no other expectations. Just don't go in with expectations don't make rules for yourself, you know, meet with a divine, experience nature, do things that you enjoy that make you feel connected to divine but lay aside your rules and expectation, and that was really really difficult to do. I realized that I like to make my own expectations, and more times often than not, I don't need them, but this changed my mindset, and that was the most, or the largest takeaway from experiences that I realized that, oftentimes, even as moms, we may do this right. I don't know if you know it's just me but we go into a spiritual practice, or a retreat, or a certain thing where there's we've placed an expectation on ourselves, that I am supposed to be and have a plus b spiritual experience. And what I realize is that this contemplative lifestyle has changed the way in which I view my everyday connection with the Divine and I actually want to read a little bit of what I wrote on an Instagram photo that I took while I was there. 

Erin Thomas  28:19  

I made a lot of rules for myself in this solitude retreat this weekend. I am excellent at setting unrealistic expectations, and planning out tasks, I can't complete. coping. So here's a few examples. I wasn't going to post or read anything online. I wasn't going to talk to anyone. I was going to spend hours and prayer and silence and meditation, of course, as usual, the divine made it clear to me that is unsurpassable mystery and bounty has to go beyond my idea of a tied up with a perfect bow box of life, and scheduling. So this morning I decided to get up to watch the sunrise over the Moon River and if you guys know me, this is a miracle. Right.

Erin Thomas  29:10  

And, honestly, I'm a night owl, and I was afraid that I wouldn't wake up at 5am, which is very unlikely. I woke up without an alarm. I tracked through the dark. Through the Nautical twilight across from the beautiful home where I was staying, and I felt a peace wash over me and I felt fully present with God, and watch the glory of the Divine submerge the river with golden colors like into second oil like myrhh. a little to my right, there was a peak Q on an Egret. As he watched me drink my tea from a travel cup perched on a blanket on top of a picnic table. I watched as the bird gaze at the water just like I did with an acknowledgment of the sacred that morning light brings on each new day. And Egret knew, just like I did, that this was and always will be a divine moment of mercy, in the sunrise. Every single morning. So I cupped that moment with my hand, the engagement with the Egret the divine secret of beauty of the sunrise, and I put it in the hidden pocket of my heart center. I realized as I tucked away the memory, gazing fondly at the photo later in the day, that when you witness glory like that, you can't make rules about how and when to share it, or try and contain it in a small time stamped box or photo. It has to be shared with the world. And so here I am writing again, more and more each day I realized that just like the sunrise colors, pour out into the open water, the words in my mind are heart photos of everyday stories and memories and moments, given from the Divine, as a gift. And we can't put rules on. And I share that with sort of just the knowledge that there is in reality this contemplative lifestyle has given. And I know, Chelsea you want to share a little bit about this but has given a level of freedom in my spiritual life and it's a freedom that I desire for others to experience, as well as a mom, and as a spiritual being. This is just my everyday awakening, my everyday life now is just genuinely filled with meeting with a divine and normal yet extraordinary moments. And along the way, we get the gift of inviting our children into this journey, and connecting with them and showing them the little steps, about how to do that, invite the divine into their everyday lives. And so, Chels I know I know you feel similarly because we have this conversation on the phone but can you give me. Just give us an insight, a little bit into how that applies for you how this insight into the everyday presence of the Divine looks like in your life.

Chelsea Whipple  32:28  

Yeah, Erin, just to kind of flow with with what you said and comparing the expectations of what certain things are supposed to look like you know how is your daily walk supposed to look like, you know, the solitude time stuff like that. And you know what I've realized, getting away from the expectations, and just feeling a continual flow of the presence. It is there whenever I noticed, or recall, or ask that it's here and it's feels so joyful, like such a connection to something deeper, and feeling connected with other people and kind of just walking this path of eternal presence, that I don't have to get away to find. Right. But it exists in my daily life, it's just ever present, it is here whenever I stopped to notice. And, yeah, that is truly extraordinary.

Erin Thomas  33:57  

I love that my friend, I think, is in that the quintessential snapshot of the motherhood lifestyle. So if anything this season, if you share any sort of pivotal message or we hope that you have a takeaway from anything that we rambled on about. We hope you take that and so leading into our practice is just that. We want to invite you to take a snapshot of an extraordinary moment. That actually looks very ordinary in nature. Allow yourself to embrace the spirit of wonder. Make note of your noticing for the week, and cup it into your hands, or the pockets of your heart vision. Maybe it means writing it down, it may mean that you share it with your Anam Cara, which is the Celtic word for soul friends, and I use for Chelsea, and it's been used for so long. Maybe it's sharing it with a friend, or maybe it means taking a photograph. In my particular instance that I've shared that's what I did, I enjoyed taking the photograph of that. But maybe it's just that you take a snapshot with your heart, and then tuck it away. Keep a memory of what it meant to experience the divine in an extraordinary way in your everyday life

Chelsea Whipple  35:31  

That is a good ending practice for us. Our quote is from James Finley from his book The contemplative heart. "We ask how is it possible to live a contemplative way of life In the midst of today's world? In response, we are invited back into the intimate domain of our own experience of traveling along a path of everyday life, in which everything appears to be nothing more than it appears to be, when suddenly without warning. The ground beneath our feet is mystery. Without warning, we find ourselves falling into the abyss of a star strewn sky or barn, finding our heart and impaled by child's laughter or the unexpected appearance of the beloveds face. What is so extraordinary about such moments, is that nothing beyond the ordinary is present. It's just the starlit sky, a child at play", someone you love.

Erin Thomas  36:44  

I love that. One of my favorite books. So friends, it has been quite a season, and we are wrapping up season one, Chelsea, I am so thankful to have been here with you this season, and I say we don't let it end. This is just the pause button, and we would love to hear from you. We would love to hear about this, what this season has done and your life, feedback, and we just generally want to thank you for being here in this space with us, as contemplatives. So we will see you soon.

Erin Thomas  37:33  

Thank you for Joining us today on the contemplative motherhood podcast with us your host, Erin Thomas and Chelsea Whipple

Chelsea Whipple  37:41  

To get regular updates on our podcast, your new episode drops interact with us about past and future episodes and find our show notes, make sure to go to our, to our website,

Erin Thomas  37:55  

As always, we appreciate your support of this podcast and then helping us share our journey with others. So if you enjoy today's podcast, make sure to subscribe, rate and leave us a review. This helps us to cross paths with other pilgrim mamas across the board. So until next time.

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