Friday, November 30, 2018

Self-Care November


Can you believe it's almost December?? I know I can't! If you follow me along on Instagram, you know that during the month of November I made it a goal to practice self-care every day of this month. Some days it was as small as just doing a 10 minute meditation or a face mask before bed, and other days it was spending a few hours alone in Starbucks or getting a pedicure. I made an effort to try some brand new things, as well as include a wide variety of things for myself - in both time and cost! (PLEASE check out my original post on IG for a little more of my thoughts back at the beginning of the month!) As someone who is an extrovert 90% of the time, I enjoy and feel filled by social events and connecting with friends - I NEED that! But only occasionally do I actually consider that "self-care". Sometimes it can be.

As I am searching for my "new identity" as a mom and a human (and have started to include therapy again in that journey) my therapist encouraged me during a session to really try to make self-care a priority. Following the session, I made an effort to keep self-care at the front of my mind as much as I could. After waking up one day and realizing that I had made it 9 WHOLE days in a row (starting Nov. 1) doing ONE thing for myself each day - I felt super motivated to continue and made it an actual goal to take it a step further and practice self care every single day during the entire month of November.

Here's my takeaway: IT. WAS. AWESOME. 

So there's the obvious: doing something for yourself clearly sounds good. Buh-duh. But the consistency I believe is what made it so awesome. Doing something (anything!) consistently removed the pressure for perfection. In the past, self-care happened for me so rarely that I would build the experience up in my head SO much. There was too much weight placed on ONE certain experience or that ONE pedicure or that ONE splurge or whatever it was. When it's not happening regularly, and when you don't know when you'll get another chance for yourself again, it actually makes it really hard to enjoy those times when you DO have an opportunity for self-care.

(I also want to add that I never felt like it was a burden or a chore trying to come up with something to do each day, but that part was actually really fun! Even my husband got into it and was super supportive. He would ask me what I wanted to do or encourage me to do something like take a bath or do a v-steam or go out of the house alone for a bit.)

I don't think you have to practice self-care every single day for an extended period of time to reap the benefits of it. (Do I think it's an awesome idea and everyone SHOULD try it? Absolutely!) And there IS something to be said for "forcing" yourself to practice self-care THAT frequently, as it opens up a lot of opportunities to try new things and get creative! BUT what I have learned is that consistency trumps frequency. I personally believe that when it comes to self-care it should be something that is practiced regularly. Whether it's every single day or just every Tuesday - when you know what to expect or know when time for yourself is coming again (and it's already on the horizon) it's okay if the experience/pedicure/coffee/meal is not 110% perfect. There is so much to be said for the stability and peace that I felt when I was making it happen regularly.

I feel happier. I feel like I matter more. My mental well-being IS a priority! Even if other people feel this way or tell you these things, it's difficult. to convince yourself of this. That's the hardest thing. I HOPE my little project has INSPIRED you to make yourself a priority. Not in a selfish way but in a "living a full life"kind of way. And if you're a mom (or a friend or sister or partner or whoever!) you can't pour into others if you yourself are empty. I can't fill my children if I have nothing to give. Wouldn't it be nice to actually FEEL that fulfillment? I still have a ways to go but this month of self-care has been a huge stepping stone for my personal journey to...wherever I'm going.

Here's a little list of what I did each day. (If you want MORE or want some visuals refer back to my Instagram and click on my "self-care" highlight! It's way more fun that way!!)

November 1: Went to a yoga class
November 2: Listened to a meditation on my phone before getting out of bed for the day
November 3: Took a bath (including candles, music and a book)
November 4: Vaginal steam with candles and calming music playing
November 5: Picked up some coffee, took the kids to the playground and listened to a podcast while I pushed Cami in the stroller and walked back and forth next to the jungle gym
November 6: Went to Starbucks alone after hubby got home from work to read/listen to a podcast/journal/write a blog post
November 7: Ate dinner on the couch with headphones in while hubby took care of feeding the kids at the table
November 8: Had a coffee date with a church friend/mentor
November 9: Laid in bed while the kids napped and played on my phone/checked social media/enjoyed the silence :)
November 10: Went to bed early and got 8 hours of sleep!
November 11: V-steam followed by a quiet bath
November 12: Woke up, put on a meditation and went back to sleep for 30 minutes
November 13: Spent the evening alone at Starbucks after therapy was cancelled
November 14: Laid in bed and read a book while Heidi was at school, Cami was napping and Wells got some iPad time
November 15: Mani/pedi followed by boxed brownie mix with some Andes mint chips thrown in
November 16: Rubbed my Eden's Garden "Anxiety Ease" essential oil on my wrist and laid down in bed while the kids napped. I put on a meditation and listened while I fell asleep.
November 17: Ran a half marathon (self-care was just making sure basic needs were met!)
November 18: Got my very first facial ever at a place I've been meaning to try for a while
November 19: Bought myself some new clothes while spending the day out of town with my sister! (Lots of alone time listening to music and podcasts in the car during the 2.5 hour drive to and from!)
November 20: Extra long mid-day v-steam with meditation while the kids napped
November 21: Put a few drops of essential oil on my wrists and laid down to rest. Not quite enough time to nap but still used the time to enjoy the quiet
November 22: 
November 23: Face mask before bed
November 24: Tried an "Aqua Massage" for the first time!
November 25: My birthday!
November 26: Quick 10 minute meditation
November 27: Therapy session (plus listened to a podcast in the car to and from the session)
November 28: Hair mask
November 29: Coffee and alone time at Starbucks while hubby handles bathtime/bedtime at home
November 30: V-steam followed by Mom's Night Out with friends

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Who Am I? My Identity Crisis

This is officially the longest I have ever gone without being pregnant or breastfeeding since I conceived my first baby back in 2013. It's so nuts to think about! My last "body break" before that was in 2015 and that was 9 weeks long. So that's 5 years total of pregnancy/breastfeeding with a single 9 week break in there. That's a looooot of years of growing or feeding another human with my body (and sometimes at the same time)! It's pretty strange having my body all to myself right now after these last 5 years!

I've always heard/read things that talk about women losing their identities when they become mothers. I feel like for the first time in my motherhood journey I'm experiencing this "identity crisis" I've heard so much about. (It also doesn't help that our family has been in SUCH an extreme transitional phase for quite some time now and I'm not sure when that will end.) It's just crazy that it took THREE babies for me to feel this way.

I don't really feel like this "losing my identity" was something that I faced after the births of my first and second. My transition into becoming a mother and figuring out "who I was" was relatively easy overall. I hadn't worked since very early in my first pregnancy so I think that helped a lot too, as I was already used to being at home most of the time. Of course there were SOME things that were hard and I did have to re-learn how to be a person and do normal day-to-day things like go to the grocery store, but overall my IDENTITY was not that different I just added the title of  "mom" to the pot. Then along came Wells. Roughly 5 days after he was born I felt like I had always had 2 children. Life marched on. Our routines didn't really change that much. Everything happening in my life was essentially unchanged so there was hardly any adjustment period at all, going from 1 to 2 kids. I was still me. (Not to mention, my supernatural birth experience with Wells only strengthened an already deep and fierce connection I felt with pregnancy, birth and motherhood. In many ways, I felt even MORE "me" than before I gave birth to Wells.)

But finding out you're pregnant when your (second) baby is still very much a baby...whew! In MOST ways I really feel like I went from having 1 child to very suddenly having 3. By the time Wells wasn't actually a tiny baby anymore I already had another one. (18 months still mostly qualifies as "baby" in my book!) I had barely adjusted to having two toddlers/kids by the time the third showed up. And really, if we're being honest going from 0 to 1 to 2 to 3 kids in less than 3.5 years... that's kind of already a lot! It's hard for me to put into words just how much more change has occurred, and just how little I have in my life to define "who I am" right now. I essentially went from having 1 baby with a solid group of mom friends that I was deeply connected to, a church community, a bible study I was apart of specifically for mothers of littles, lots of friends, a social life and still having time to focus on myself... to suddenly having 3 babies and none of the things I just listed. We currently have no physical community, no church, no Bible studies, no other activities or things that we are involved in... that's insane. Who the heck am I??

Additionally, SO much of my identity and who I AM is wrapped up in pregnancy and birth and postpartum and breastfeeding. There's a big part of me that wants to run back to all of those things right now because that's literally all I know (see first paragraph). I feel MOST myself when I'm pregnant. (Is that crazy? Perhaps it is but not to me.) I want to feel like ME again, but I also know that this time of figuring out who I am is so needed (not to mention giving my body a chance to chill out for a bit is also necessary). I don't really feel like a "me" exists outside of pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding/postpartum. I need to be none of those things for a while (or at least longer than just a few weeks/months anyway...) so I can figure out who "me" is away from that. Or perhaps "in addition to", because those parts of my life will always be apart of me.

Now that my baby is 1 year old (and the postpartum depression fog has lifted) I'm left to try to figure out what the heck I'm doing here. There is a BIG "pause button" that's been pressed on what feels like everything in our lives right now. My whole life is one big pause. We're waiting on a new house, a new community, a new church... all of these things can't/probably won't happen for at least another 6 months. I feel stuck. My identity as a Christian has also been a struggle lately, as I question so much of my faith and God through this season. The only thing I really know at this point is that I know I'm supposed to be a mom and I know I'm supposed to be here at home raising my babies. Both of these are extremely big-picture thoughts and not quite so helpful during the day-to-day chaos, making it easy to lose sight even of those roles.

After taking a while off from therapy, I've started back with regular sessions to get some help with figuring out who I am/who I am supposed to be (and also to start laying the groundwork for preparing for another baby however near or far off in the future that might be). I am also focusing a LOT on taking care of myself and figuring out what self-care REALLY looks like. During the month of November, I'm making it my goal to practice self-care every day. Sometimes it's as simple as 20 minutes of meditation or a 30 minute bath alone and other days its going to a yoga class of spending the evening alone at Starbucks. Of the many benefits of self-care, I hope that by spending some time doing this for myself I can start to feel more of a sense of self

Since I am by nature a Type-A "do-er", there is a huge part of me that is hoping I can just read a book or join a group or club or something and just magically feel like I am myself again. But I know a lot of this is just about allowing this process to play out by giving it a lot of time and even more patience. Easier said than done.

Thank you for sharing this space with me :).

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Little Update

Hi there!

It's been a long time. Things have been very quiet over here this year (at least as far as this blog goes)! I just haven't been in a season where blogging was a priority. And I'm okay with that. I have in fact been very at peace with it happening that way and was really happy to just take some time off, indefinitely. I've continued sharing about my life (not that it's particularly riveting) on my personal Instagram, but blogging just sounded like too much effort (/time/energy/thought/etc.). Something that I'm learning about my life as a mom of a thousand kids (okay jk it's currently "only" 3) is that sometimes things just get put on the back burner. Sometimes it's intentional and sometimes it's not. BUT that doesn't actually mean I'm quitting them forever. Or even quitting them “until my kids are older”. "Not today" doesn't mean "never again". I've temporarily stopped selling burp cloths on my Etsy shop. I just felt like in this season that wasn't something I wanted on my plate. However, I'm not saying I'm done with that forever, or even a long time. It's weird but also insanely peaceful feeling released from so many of those things. I'm just in a place now where I can say "I'll do that when I feel like it".

Anyway, blogging is something that I love to do. Mostly as more of a journal for myself. But also because I think being open and honest (yes even in online/social media world) can really help us feel less alone in this world. I truly believe that social media gets a really bad rap, unnecessarily. Sure there are things about it that can be unhealthy, but I have really enjoyed the connections and community that I have found through Instagram and blogging. I really think it is what you make it. You have the ability to choose that for yourself. (And shout out to those women out there who make my social media feeds super authentic!)

SO. All of that being said. I think I'm coming back to a place where I would like to start documenting a little more, sharing a little more. I've also been struggling with my identity and I hope maybe this will give me a little direction. It's also an amazing excuse to get away for a bit and just be in my own head - something you don't really get to do much of when you are at home with lots of littles.

It seriously took me a year and a half of HELL (see here and here if you'd like a little taste) before I realized "Ooooooh this is a SEASON. THIS is what people mean when they say they went through a 'hard season'". It was really strange, that moment. I can't believe it took me that long to come to that realization! In a way, that brought me some comfort, because it gave me hope that life won't always feel this "off" or hard/weird/isolating. But becoming aware of this season we are in... didn't change the fact that we are still in it and we don't really know for how long. I'm still hopeful that greener pastures are ahead, however far off they may be.

We've made some big changes in our lives. We've come a long way but still have a long way to go. After these last 2 years, I needed a change. A BIG change. (At one point, we were actually looking at potentially moving our family to Montreal. So insane.) We were looking to do something drastic, clearly. We ended up not going THAT extreme, but we decided to build a new home in a new community. We sold our house, put our stuff into a POD, and moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. What a HUGE weight off of our shoulders that was - leaving that house forever. To say I needed a change of scenery after what we've been through would be an understatement. There was just so much baggage associated with that house and it hadn’t been what I wanted it to be for a long time. I like our new little temporary home. I like where it is and what it is. I'm using this time to focus on myself and find peace. I've been training for some half marathons, focusing on self-care and exploring what that means, making new friends, and dreaming about what the future holds for our family. There's still some hard parts, and I have to figure out just who it is that I am now but I'll get into that another time.

I want to keep this little update semi-short and sweet, so I'll cut myself off here for now. I'm really looking forward to sharing some more little thoughts and updates from this season that we are in and also a few things (pregnancy-birth related) that I've learned from my experiences in this season so far. (And maybe I'll even get to some of these drafts that I've had sitting here for years and years.)

Thank you for sharing this space with me. I am grateful for you :).

Our new (temporary) home. This blue front door is especially meaningful to us :).