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

family-happy-1

“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!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We here at Living Self-Care would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving! This year has been full of changes for us, and I think I can speak for Diane when I say we are very grateful for each and every one of them.

When things happen, they’re just things. We are responsible for what we label them (good or bad). It’s hard to imagine something like a cancer diagnosis being something GOOD, but I have also heard from several survivors and current cancer patients that their diagnosis and journey has ultimately changed them for the better.

It’s easy to be thankful for the obviously positive things in life, but most of the time, the negative (or what we label as “bad”) presents a learning opportunity. The trick is to be open minded and try to look at the situation outside of your usual way of thinking. There’s usually the proverbial “silver lining” to be found, and I truly believe there is no such thing as failure, only lessons.

This year, as challenging as the change has been, I am so thankful that my mother moved in with us. We don’t have to worry about each other long distance anymore. And though we bump heads often, I am so thankful that we are learning how to relate to each other again (in a much more healthy manner this time).

As you go about your Thanksgiving traditions, remember that there are so many things to be grateful for – even the things that you may have categorized as “awful.” Have a safe and happy one!!

All of our love,

Diane Sanford and Stacey Glaesmann

How Much is Your Decal Giving Away?

In the past few years, it seems to have become fashionable to advertise your children’s activities or your family structure on the back window of your vehicle. It’s all in good fun, and parents as well as kids feel proud to display their achievements. But exactly how much information are you really giving out to strangers?

 

From the decal above, we can figure out that there are 2 parents, 3 boys and 2 dogs. It appears as if this family enjoys surfing and boogie-boarding. That’s pretty vague isn’t it? But what happens when you use a more specific decal?

 

Now we know there’s a boy named Bobby who plays baseball in jersey # 18. If you live in a big city, this still leaves a lot of questions as to who “Bobby” might be. If you live in a small town, this may tell you exactly who Bobby is! And believe it or not, decals get even more specific than this!

I was behind a mani-van that had a sticker on the back that advertised a Cub Scout Pack, gave the Pack number and the name of the child! All I would have to do is a minimal amount of research on the Internet to find out where and when this pack meets, show up and ask for the child whose name I saw on the back of the van. If I were to really conduct this kind of experiment, I would hand the child a letter, telling his or her parents how I found the child, how easy it was to do and to encourage a little more anonymity in public.

I wish I could say it’s a completely safe world out there, but we all know that I’d be lying. Taking care of yourself and your family often times means using your common sense and critical thinking skills instead of following the pack blindly. There are many decals that don’t give away much information, but if you have one that might, please remove it and spread the word to others. We want all of our readers to be safe and happy!

Web Therapy: New Options for New Moms

If any of you have seen Web Therapy starring Lisa Kudrow on Showtime, then you know that this type of interaction is possible (though we hope no counselor is as awful as Kudrow’s character). Therapy is indeed coming into the 21st Century, with resources available to folks that may have had none before.

Regroup Therapy is one such example of how resources are reaching out to new moms instead of them having to research, coordinate and get to a therapist’s office. Regroup offers both group and individual sessions from the comfort of your own home or office. Each group and session is led by a licensed mental health professional with extensive training in the field of perinatal mood disorders. Clients just need a computer with a web cam, a microphone and head phones or earbuds, which most modern machines come equipped with.

This service is useful in many situations. Folks who live far away from any resources, moms who may be just too depressed to get to an appointment, new moms who want a group experience where no groups are available, and even moms who like the less personal interaction with a therapist on the computer screen can all benefit from Regroup’s services.

I am proud to be a part of Regroup, and ask that you spread the word to anyone who may benefit from a service like this. Please take a look at our website and stay tuned for exciting new things to come! Therapy can be a very vital part of self-care, and with Regroup, it can be much easier, too!

 

Regroup: We Bring the Support to You

Kids Need Self-Care, Too

One of my daughter’s best friends is Chinese. Her parents came to the U.S. before she was born, so she is an American citizen. Her mother, on the other hand, is holding on tight to the Chinese culture. This causes heavy distress for Jane* as she tries to make Mom happy while fitting in with her friends. I call this phenomenon, which happens more than you would think, Cultural Gap. Jane is falling right into it.

As I watch how things go in Jane’s household, I realize just how high her mother’s expectations are for her. If she makes an 89 on a paper or test, she gets sent to a tutor. She is expected to excel in all areas, and is taking an art class taught by a famous Chinese artist. As you can imagine, Jane is quite miserable sometimes, and she and her mom butt heads constantly.

In this case, the main player is culture. Jane and her mom are having a tough time navigating between Chinese and American cultures. Yet, I see plenty of American children going through similar experiences, being held to impossible expectations and being punished for a “B”. Just look around on the Internet and you’ll find all kinds of studies about how kids these days are more stressed than ever.

Our readers with kids in school, have you noticed if your child or children are extra stressed? Have you evaluated your expectations? Have you spoken to your child about how he/she is feeling? As parents, we sometimes get so focused on external achievements, like grades and extracurriculars, that we overlook the consequences they can have on our offspring.

One thing that my family does to lower stress is limit our 13 year-old daughter’s extracurriculars to 2 activities. We also went from the “you must take all Pre-AP [advanced placement] classes” to “take whatever classes you can handle.” Our daughter has a special situation. As the child of 2 anxious parents, she has developed OCD. So it is especially important to us to help her manage her stress, and knowing that our expectations are meetable definitely helps.

If you have dealt with, or are currently dealing with, a stressed-out child, what advice would you give to other parents as to how to help manage the stress?

*Name changed to protect privacy

A Not-So-Secret Anxiety Remedy

I was in session yesterday with a young lady who has been dealing with anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for most of her life. I’ve been working with her for quite a while, and we’ve tried all kinds of coping mechanisms. In her session, she told me that she thinks she has found THE coping tool that has significantly reduced her symptoms. She had been discouraged after trying progressive muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, thought monitoring/stopping, visualization and a few others. So when she said this, I got excited! What was her favored remedy? Present moment awareness!

Diane and I have written about mindfulness and present moment awareness in the past, and we both agree that this technique is one of the basics of self-care. While it’s true that not all coping tools will work for everyone, this particular exercise, when made habitual, can change lives.

My client is dealing with financial problems, and found herself worked into a panic regularly, wondering how she was going to get enough money to pay her bills. Using present moment awareness, she has been able to tell herself, “The bills are not due today. Right now, all is well. I’ll deal with it when the time comes.” This usually brings her anxiety down and sometimes wipes it completely out!

Of course, some things do require planning ahead, and paying bills can be one of them. My client told me yesterday that she had 2 “out of the blue” opportunities to make extra money, and that would take care of her August bills! She’s now working on maintaining mindfulness, but also having faith that God/The Universe will provide for her, as long as she expects Him/it to.

She said she felt strange when practicing these new thoughts, because her old thought patterns were so negative. It made sense to her that we tend to get what we expect to get out of life. So, if she expects obstacles and depression, that’s what she gets. After getting some “proof” that positive and mindful thoughts DO have a real effect in her life, she’s finding renewed enthusiasm to keep it up!