Life Lessons from A Mogul-Mom-and Maid

For the past 20+ years, I’ve had a successful business in women’s health psychology. Two years before that, I became a mom and had no idea what it would be like to combine work and motherhood. The maid part has always suffered, although I was the main “cook” in my home especially when my daughters were young. From my journey as a mogul, mom and maid, here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  You can’t “have it all” at once. At different times in my life, one of these roles has required more of my time and attention. My 25 year-old still reminds me how I missed her first “double-digit” birthday to attend a professional workshop out-of-town. Similarly, I turned down opportunities to promote my professional life because I wanted time with my children and family. As my children reached their tweens, I made certain to be home after school the days I wasn’t in my office to stay connected with them. Now, I have two twenty-something daughters who are caring, successful young women who are making their own mark on the world.

2.  You can “have it all” sequentially. Since my children are almost launched, I have more time to devote to my business and service activities. Even with older children, I’ve learned that parenting never ends, but the concentrated time you spend and the energy it takes eases some. I still make certain to make time to talk when they call or be available when they need me, but I have more time for close friends, personal interests and my marriage. My “maid” part is happily de-cluttering our home because as I get older, I discover less need for stuff and more for simplicity.

3.  Being “successful” is in the eye of the beholder. Earlier in my life as a mom and mogul, I wanted success to be all about me and how well I was doing at seamlessly combining motherhood and business woman. Of course, I wasn’t (no one can) but that was my goal. I also wanted more of everything, money-power-status-stuff. Everywhere it seemed, I saw other women scaling career heights never before imagined and they had children and families too. Then I realized that their families and personal lives were suffering (back to lesson #1-You can’t have it all), and instead of reaching for the stars, re-evaluated my definition of success.

4.  Success changes at each life stage. While as a younger woman, I defined success primarily by what I’d achieved in my career and professional life, my feeling successful has much more to do with my role as a mom and person. Nothing is more important to me than raising my children to be caring, responsible, honest human beings who act with integrity and compassion. Likewise, it’s continuing to ask myself what I can do today to make the world a better and more loving place to live in. These are my current measures of success.

What are yours?

Many thanks to Liz O’Donnell for hosting this Mogul, Mom & Maid Blog Carnival. Please check out her new book at http://www.mogulmommaid.com or visit her blog at http://www.helloladies.com.

I Can Juggle 3 Chainsaws and a Bowling Ball! How About You?

M3Carnivalsimple

I’m happy to be participating in the Mogul, Mom and Maid Blog Carnival! To read other articles, visit Hello Ladies.

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For the last four or five decades, women have taken on more roles in society. We can work outside the home in fields other than secretarial and nursing. There are female CEOs and upper managers, doctors, lawyers and sanitation workers. All of this is well and good, but it gave birth to the whole issue of “juggling” in our lives. Can we be excellent women, wives/partners, mothers, employees/bosses and homemakers all at the same time? Of course, this gives rise to a bigger question: why do we feel the need to strive to “master” this juggling act?

I’ll be honest here; I’m a bit of a rogue. I haven’t watched a news program in over ten years or a full commercial in over two. I don’t vote (no need to comment on this; I’ve heard the lecture hundreds of times) and I dislike organized religion. Basically, anything that society tells me I need to have, think or do, I usually do the opposite (with the exception of watching Breaking Bad and The Blacklist [recorded on DVR so I can skip the commercials], if I’m to strive for full disclosure). However, there was a time not so long ago when I was totally into the circus routine.

I experienced severe postpartum depression and panic disorder after my daughter was born. I had always been pretty “Type A” and a baby just blew away any predictability, structure and routine that I had for myself. It was a dark time, but I got better with treatment. I went straight back to the routine: I got up at 5:00am to get ready for work, get the baby up, fed and dressed. I’d drop her off at day care and then drive to the gym. I’d work out for an hour, shower, dress, and put make-up on and get to work by 8:00am. I’d work until 5 or 5:30pm, drive home, pick up the baby, make dinner, tidy up the house (unless it was Thursday; on Thursday I cleaned the entire house because I didn’t want to give up a weekend day to do it) and swap out baby care with my husband until I fell into bed, exhausted, somewhere between 10 and 11:00pm. I did this every day for over a year.

I think back on that time now and wonder how the heck I did it. I don’t feel particularly proud of that juggling act; it’s more like a feeling of disbelief. Not only how did I do it, but why? Now that I am older and have gotten in touch with my genuine self, that time in my life seems so shallow. In an attempt to please everyone, I was basically committing slow suicide by adrenaline. I was irritable all the time! Yet, the idea of “having it all” continuously played over and over in my head, and I believed I was doing it.

What I was doing was living for everyone else except me. Young children do need fairly constant attention, but I found that annoying. As a result, I didn’t really enjoy being a mother. I have mourned that time and have let it go, but that was really tough to accept. My daughter is a teenager now, but we’re pretty close. Thankfully, my lack of enthusiasm didn’t prevent her from loving her mommy anyway. I guess I was good enough.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and if I could do it all over again, I would make some changes. For all of you young mothers out there trying to conquer the world, here’s some advice from a seasoned one. Please don’t make the same mistakes I made!

  • Excellence isn’t perfection. If you’re doing the best you can at the time, even if your best sucks, then you’re achieving excellence.
  • Take care of yourself first. Believe it or not, the housework, dishes, etc. will be there tomorrow (unless you have an awesome partner or a maid).
  • A cluttered house is indicative that children live there. It’s okay.
  • If at all possible, find meaningful work in an area that you’re passionate about. Whether that means volunteering or outside employment, make sure that you love what you’re doing.
  • Quit comparing yourself to other women. You’ll always lose. Plus, many women are great actors and are thinking that you’re more awesome than they are!
  • Stop caring what other people think. You’ll never catch up to those “Joneses” because they do not exist. If someone doesn’t approve of what you’re wearing, how you act or how dirty your house is, then they don’t need to be in your life.
  • Be honest with yourself. If you are resentful toward your kids or your spouse, work through it with a professional. It not only hurts your relationships, but it slowly erodes your self-esteem.

Of course, all this is easier said than done. However, I am living proof that it is achievable. It took time, honesty about myself, accepting some unpleasant facts about my childhood and rebuilding my esteem to fit my genuine self. There are so many wonderful Life Coaches and therapists out there that would be honored to help you find insight into your life!

Personal growth is a life-long process. However, it is very nice to be content with this phase of my life. It is my wish that you find your peace, realize how important you are, and jump off of that merry-go-round if you’re on it. You’re already excellent, my friend!

Little Girls, Get up! Get Up and Eat!

I’m reposting this wonderful prose from Momastery. View the original article HERE. — Stacey

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“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because the world needs more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

I went to school for Tish’s conference this morning. All is well enough. She’s doing fine- especially in her own estimation. As we were waiting in the hall, I saw [some] art work on the wall. Tish explained that the assignment was to write about their biggest, boldest dream.

You guys- I only had time to get three pictures, but over and over- again and again and again- I read: “My dream is for my family to be happy.”

Tish’s  poster wasn’t done yet. I asked what her dream was and she said: “To be Taylor Swift and for my mommy to be happy.” Oh, I said. Then she added: “Everyone at my table wrote ‘I want my mommy to be happy!’” Oh, I said again.

You guys. They want us to be happy.

They’re not saying: My dream is for my mom to be perfect. Or my dream is for my mom to be thinner or better looking. Or cooler. Or have more friends. Or have better things. Or to have had a prettier past. Or have a cleaner, bigger, nicer house. Or be richer. Or be divorced or reunited. Or work less or more or outside the home or inside the home or part time or what-have-you. None of that.

Just: My dream is for my family and my mommy to be happy.

Holy crap, you guys. We’ve got to get our joy back. We think it’s love to allow our roles –mother, wife, volunteer, career woman – to consume us like a fire until we can’t even be seen anymore – but that’s not love. I think our kids want to really see us. They want us to leave a part of ourselves unconsumed so they can see us. I think our kids want to see us come alive sometimes. Our kids never asked for martyrs.  It is not love to allow yourself – your spirit – to be buried and then fade away.

At first- these thoughts stressed me out this morning because I am passionate and I am kind and sometimes I’m ecstatic and I can usually find gratitude but I’m not “happy.” I’m intense and up and down and I get depressed and anxious and my anxiety makes me hard to be around sometimes. Because I’m impatient and snappy. I snap at people I love all the time and that makes me feel bad about myself. I want to be zen. I am so not zen. Whatever zen is- I’m the opposite of it.

But you know what- none of those papers said that, “My dream is for my mom to stop snapping.” None said, “I wish my mom would stop being so anxious and just relax and be more like Jesus or Buddha.” Their dreams were less about us in relationship to THEM and more about what they really want for US. As PEOPLE. They want us to be happy. Because they love US. And because they know, likely, that they are supposed to learn how to be happy during this beautiful life from us. And so if we’re slugging our way through life without joy- they are probably thinking- deep down– if she can’t pull some joy out of life- how will I?

And so those posters served as some SMELLING SALTS for me this morning. They woke me up. And I thought: WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY? What is one thing that I could do today that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ROLES I PLAY and just FEEDS MY SOUL?

Because that’s important. It is important to feed my body, mind and soul every day. If we are going to ask for our daily bread- we’ve got to take the time to receive it and eat it. God provides –but we’ve got to slow down long enough to TASTE AND SEE. And we cannot say that our list of things to do is too long to slow down and feed ourselves. Because there are URGENT things and there are IMPORTANT things – and no matter how much URGENT there is – we must fit a few TRULY IMPORTANT things into our day or the URGENT things will consume us every day forever and ever ’till we die. We feed ourselves or we die. It’s inconvenient- especially in a culture that worships productivity and efficiency and busyness for busyness’ sake- but it’s THE TRUTH. We eat or we die.

WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE? WHO ARE YOU BENEATH ALL OF YOUR ROLES? HOW DO YOU FEED YOURSELF?

Listen. This is a thing. We are going to figure this out together. If joy is so far out of reach that you don’t even remember what the word means- let’s talk about getting to a doctor. That’s step one. If you can’t remember how to feed yourself but you remember what joy is: BE STILL. YOU HAVE TO GET STILL BEFORE YOU CAN REALLY GET UP. GOD MADE EVERYTHING WONDERFUL AND CREATIVE AND BEAUTIFUL OUT OF NOTHINGNESS- STILLNESS AND GOD STILL DOES. So find some quiet. 10 – 5 minutes a day. Try this- Travis sent it to us last night:

1) Prepare to pray the Psalm in 5 consecutively diminishing sentences.
2) Either aloud or quietly to yourself, say the words, “Be still and know that I am God”
3) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still and know that I am.”
4) After a couple deep breaths, pray “Be still and know.”
5) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still.”
6) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be.”
7) When ready, pray, “Amen.”

AH! 12 years old. That’s when it happens. That’s when we start looking to find our joy in other’s expectations and boys and magazines and cigarettes and food and we start getting buried. Go back. Before you were 12. What did you love?

MY FRIEND: YOU ARE NOT DEAD. YOU ARE JUST ASLEEP. YOU JUST NEED TO GET UP AND EAT.

LITTLE GIRL, GET UP!

GET UP AND EAT!!!!

Hope and Help for the Holidays

The holidays have arrived with fun-filled and stress-filled times sandwiched together, not unlike raising children, work, marriage and other life pursuits. So, here are some recommendations to make the holidays calmer and happier.

First, have realistic expectations of yourself.  Many of us feel disappointed because our “fairytale images” don’t materialize. Instead, focus on feeling good from the inside out.  Build a fire and roast marshmallows, shop with a friend, or take a long walk in the woods.  Meditate, workout, read, or  listen to music.  Take time to feed your soul.

Second, have realistic expectations of others.  No one’s family or friends are perfect, and the holidays won’t change this.  Since we can’t change them, we need to rely on ourselves to gather what’s positive and let go of the negative.  Experiment with creating new family traditions that don’t stir up bad memories.  If a situation becomes too negative, leave.

In need of some immediate stress relief? Then click here to view Dr. Sanford’s 5-minute mindful breathing and 15-minute body scan relaxation on YouTube.  After all, peace and love is the true meaning of the season and it starts from within.

Finally, if you’re looking for a gift for a pregnant or new or veteran mom,  preview our books on motherhood and self-care at our revamped livingselfcare.com site. While you’re there, let us know what you think of our “new look.”

Thanks for belonging to our self-care community. We wish each of you all the best at the holidays and throughout the year!

A Gift Resides in Every Moment

Whether we are experiencing joy or adversity, each moment affords us an opportunity for growth if we are willing to learn from it. In life, our most challenging moments are often the ones we learn the most from.

When I was in my third year of graduate school, I failed my qualifying exams for my Ph.D. miserably, flunking 5 of the 8 questions. Returning to school the next semester, I didn’t know if I’d be staying or leaving after the completion of my Masters. After much deliberation, I’d resolved to do what I could to stay in graduate school even though I had panic attacks each time I walked up the stairs to our second floor classrooms. I felt totally lost and alone.

But like many of us, my story doesn’t end there. When I went back to school, I learned what I needed to know to make things different. Even more, I discovered an inner strength and resilience I hadn’t fully realized until then. An unexpected and most welcome gift.

In Stacey’s last post, she talked about mindfulness and how that’s helped her weather life’s ups and downs. Mindfulness is defined as paying attention to the present moment on purpose without judgement. In mindfulness practice which includes meditation, we learn to value each moment for what it brings us. Whether joyful or challenging, it always provides the opportunity for us to grow into the fullest potential of who we are.

As Rafiki says to Simba in The Lion King, “Oh, yes. The past can hurt but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”

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What will you choose? Namaste.

This post was inspired by Day 6 of Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge which we encourage you to join at https://chopracentermeditation.com/challenge.

Women, Hormones and Mood

Did you know that women experience twice as much depression as men? Would that be because we’re more sensitive? I think not. The explanation which best fits is that we are more affected by hormonal shifts which influence our brain chemistry, particulary around times when our lives change dramatically-like pregnancy and post-postpartum.

In fact, 1 in 8 women will experience a clinical episode of depression or anxiety during pregnancy, postpartum and menopause, which is greater than the occurence of most health conditions. So, why aren’t women being routinely screened for mood and anxiety conditions? How can health conditions which have such a profound impact on moms, babies and families continue to be ignored? How many more stories like Miriam Carey’s will unfold ?

To end such needless suffering and tragedies, we must come forward and share our stories to support each other in getting the help we need and deserve. We must be prepared to educate our health providers and make it clear that we expect to be cared for-body, mind, heart and soul. We must challenge our own biases about anxiety and depression, and accept them as “health conditions” just like heart disease or diabetes.

Ghandi said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.”

Now, it’s up to each of us to do our part to reduce the stigma and shame associated with mental health conditions. In Miriam’s memory and for the sake of safeguarding the health of moms and babies, WE MUST.

Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body

By Kim Wolterman
By Kim Wolterman

If you’re anything like I am, you spend a lot of time in your head-thinking, imagining, obsessing, over-analyzing, etc. What I continue to learn, lately, is that to have greater peace of mind, I need to get back in my body and feel what’s going on there.

As I’m sitting on my porch responding to friends via e-mail, I can smell the hickory chips of our smoker burning in the backyard. I breathe deeply and savor the aroma. I look up from my keyboard and soak in the plush greenery across the road. I hear the birds chirping-so many different sounds and melodies. I feel the wind brushing my cheek. It’s a sensory buffet.

I’m back in my body and out of my mind. Living, breathing, sensing, feeling. It doesn’t last long until thoughts return. I “note” them and let them go lovingly, returning my attention to my senses and my body. Inhaling the moment one breath at a time, again and again.

To help you practice staying in your body and getting out of your head, click on this link to my mindfulness video, the body scan relaxation-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km42VBea9oc. Try it and let me know what you think.

Until next time remember, “Life is a journey. Stress less. Live better.”