A Life Cleanse

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lifecleanse

With the New Year upon us I wanted to share a life-changing experience I had this year I have been calling my life cleanse.  Sort of like a dietary cleanse, but for your life. And you can eat! Bonus!

Many times the New Year is filled with all sorts of aspirations, goals and packed with things we want to do more of. But there are some years where it is okay, in fact it is downright liberating, to make it a goal to do less. You heard it here first mamas.

My life cleanse 

My life cleanse was not voluntary or planned, but happened as a result of my mom’s cancer diagnosis in August. When my mom was first diagnosed, I didn’t know how I was going to make it through. Our family is so close. So close. I went into survival mode because I wanted to be there for every step of this journey with her. To do this, I knew instinctively I had to clear out every obligation in my life to make the time to deal with what was ahead of us, and at that point I had no idea.

Without even truly thinking about it, I cancelled every single obligation off of my calendar with the exception of the basic things I needed to do to take care of my own family and carry on “life as normal” for my girls while also allowing me the time to be able to help my parents. Everything.

I turned down three newly signed blog contracts, emailed our PTA and told them I couldn’t do my position I had just signed up for, let the classroom volunteer list pass by me at Back-to-School night without signing up, and canceled every upcoming event, meeting, and work appointment not absolutely necessary.

After I did this, I had the time when my girls were at school to do the calls, research and attend the appointments I needed to get her on the best path of treatment. The time I got to spend with my parents and sister going to all the appointments and coming together to figure this out as a family is something I am so incredibly grateful for.

The Re-Entry: Breathe. Then Listen 

Once she was in treatment, we were on a path to getting her well, and the initial flurry of research and appointments and opinions and 2nd opinions was over. The tornado that had blown into our lives had passed through, of course leaving wreckage in its wake, but once she was in treatment, the dust somewhat settled.

breathe

With my calendar cleared out, for the first time in I can’t remember how long, I found myself, having time to slow down and breathe.

Then I listened.

When you stop for awhile from the everyday frazzle fest, you give yourself the chance to listen to your life in a new way.  Mamas, our lives are talking to us – we just have to take the time to listen!

I paid attention to the things I was really missing  as a result of my life cleanse, and had new clarity of the things in my life that are truly important to me.

I started adding things one by one back into my calendar, but with a deliberateness I never had before.  If I was going to add something back in, it was something I really wanted, not a “pile it on because I am already too overwhelmed to stop and say no”, way.

Feeling frazzled? Give a life cleanse a try. 

As a result of my life cleanse, I realized I was holding myself captive by a million obligations that had accumulated over the years.  And there were so many things I could cut out to free up the space to breathe. It’s okay to slow down. It’s healthy to slow down.

If you are feeling at the end of your rope, give it a try, even for a week or two. Cancel everything not deemed essential and give yourself permission to do less for a period of time and listen to how you feel. It might just be life-changing for you too.

A little bit of lemonade.

Our family was delivered a big ol’ truck full of lemons this year.  But even in the most heinous of situations, there is always, always something positive that can make a little lemonade.

My life cleanse was a little bit of lemonade. I took my life of running 100mph down to 30 and it feels SO GOOD.  In fact, my New Years resolution this year is to stay at 30 and really, consciously take the time to continue listening.

Happy New Years! May 2016 be full of less for you and your families!

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Halftime

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I was on Facebook yesterday and saw a friend’s post of her baby girl’s nursery, her first baby, who is due any day now.  It took me back to early June, 9 years ago, when I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first baby girl.

This baby turns 9 today.

Our-Sweetheart
I read this post titled, To My Daughter, At Halftime, not too long ago and it hit me right in the heart because I could relate so much. Today I have a daughter at the halftime of her childhood.

I needed Kleenex. Not because I’m sad she’s getting older, or growing up too fast, but because I am so proud of the person she is becoming and 

Growing more into the person she was born to be.

When she was born I believed it was my role to shape her into the person I thought she would be. Or should be.

Now granted, there has been a whole lot of parenting done the past 9 years, but the essence of WHO she is, in her soul, was the way she came out of the womb.

This realization has been one of my most profound lessons of parenthood.

It would have been a lot easier if I realized from the get go.

She was not an easy baby. 

SO FUSSY. So, so, so fussy.  She wouldn’t let me put her down.

She wanted to be walked around, looking at things.  She would get bored easily. I would put her in the exersaucer to try to get dinner going, but then after 30 seconds she would start fussing until I came to relieve her of the exersaucer torture.

I thought I was doing something wrong as a mom. Why was she so fussy?  I wanted to make her HAPPY.  Isn’t that our goal as a mom – to make our children happy? To me I was failing because she was so fussy.

I would visit with friends who had mellow babies and marvel at how they appeared to be content.

Emma was the opposite of content. I used to describe her as “unsatisfied,”

She just wanted MORE.

But now as a 9-year-old I love this quality in her. I love her quest for knowledge. I love how she asks endless questions. I love her energy. I love her movement.  She’s a little gymnast, so she’s on her head half the time in handstands. It’s a joy to watch her.

She was this same person when she was a baby, but stuck without words or able to move on her own. 

No wonder she was fussy.

She was also a challenging toddler and young girl. Strong-willed was an understatement. She is very black and white – knows what she wants and is relentless in getting it.

She wore the same pair of pink Crocs for her entire 2-year-old year. I have a picture of her in her beautiful Christmas dress in dirty light pink Crocs. No amount of bargaining, tricking or convincing would change the fact that she was NOT going to wear another pair of shoes.

pinkcrocs

Photo credit: Erin Palos

This relentless conviction used to frustrate me to NO end.  WHY couldn’t she just put on another darn pair of shoes? WHY did she make things so difficult?

She likely wondered the same thing about me.  

No wonder she was fussy.

But now I love that quality in her.  She has a very strong sense of right and wrong and uses that same unwavering conviction to navigate good choices.

I love that she will be a woman who knows what she wants in life – and she will get it.

After an emotionally charged doctor’s visit for her two-year-old well check where she very clearly expressed her unhappiness with the appointment, my pediatrician looked at me with wide eyes and  told me, you really have a spirited child, and wrote down a book for me to get, “How to Raise a Spirited Child“.

I looked up the title, and the description was A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic. Yep. That pretty much summed her up. Then and now.

Raising a spirited little one can be draining.  I was tired for many years raising my spirited child. 

But at 9-years-old I appreciate her spirit more than words can express.

I love her intensity. Her passion for life, learning and her sport. I love her sensitivity and kind heart. I love her perceptiveness and how she doesn’t miss a beat. I love talking with her about her perceptions and observations. I love her persistence. If she sets a goal, she achieves it. I love her boundless energy.

As a new mom I wish I would have known then what I know now.

Knowing my Emma today would have made SO much more sense when she was a baby. I would have looked at her and said, “Of course. I get you.”

I wouldn’t have fought it so much or thought something was wrong. I would have realized she is who she is, and those same qualities that made her a challenging baby and young child are the same qualities that make her who she is, which is a pretty spectacular little girl.

When I told my friend on Facebook, you have the the best day of your life to look forward to, when thinking about it, that’s  not completely true. The experience of watching your child grow into the person they are only gets better and better and better.

Today I celebrate the fact we are at halftime, because I feel the best is still yet to come.

halftime

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Granola Babies’ Herbal Bar

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Awhile back, Giselle, the owner of Granola Babies natural parenting store went to place an order for dried Chamomile and while shopping for other herbs online, thought, “wouldn’t it be great to have a place where you could go learn about herbs, smell them, try them, and learn more about their medicinal uses?”  And thus was the beginning of Granola Babies’ Herbal Bar!

Their organic herbs are available per ounce and are stocked with medicinal herbs commonly used during pregnancy and motherhood.  Some of their herbs they offer and uses include:

Chamomile Flowers: Chamomile is known to relax nerves, reduce inflammation, clear toxins and promote tissue repair. Chamomile is relaxing for both children and adults, and can also be used for pink eye (do not take if you are allergic to ragweed.)

Blessed Thistle: Blessed Thistle infusions have been used for centuries to increase milk supply in nursing mothers. Blessed Thistle is also used to treat digestive ailments.

Nettles: Nettle leaf boosts immune system and can be used as well for skin irritations. It’s also used for hair and the scalp to promote hair growth, hair thickness and can prevent dandruff.

Raspberry Leaf: Raspberry Leaf tea is used to treat canker sores, cold sores and gingivitis in people of all ages, and anemia, leg cramps, diarrhea, and morning sickness in pregnant women, and as a uterine relaxant.

These are just a few of their herbs, click here for the entire list and their uses.

The herbs are $2 each per ounce.  You can learn more and try them in store as well as  purchase them through Granola Babies online.

Do you use herbs as natural remedies?  Please share your tips / experiences in the comments below!

[Important: Not all herbs are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Check with your medical professional before use.]

Disclosure: Granola Babies is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor.

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Five Years Ago

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Five years ago tomorrow, on June 11th, I became a mother.

Five years ago today, on June 10th, I had a really bad backache and was one super crabby pregnant lady. I was 37 weeks 2 days pregnant with a c-section scheduled for June 20th.  When we were at my doctor’s appointment at 36 weeks and confirmed the baby was breech, we went ahead and scheduled the c-section because the position she was in (footling) meant there was little to no chance of moving her.

Seeing that I was going to have a scheduled c/s I sort of thought we would get to pick her birth date. I thought I could ponder the wonder of the different numbers together and pick my favorite and most convenient. By the time I walked out of the room, I was informed that we were scheduled for 6/20 at 8am.

June 20th is my husband’s birthday, so I was sort of taken back about scheduling it for that day.  But there was no choice and no options.  So much for my planning.  We had a birth date!

And speaking of planning, being the Type A personality I am, after that appointment I thought I should probably think about getting my hospital bag packed just in case.   Having a scheduled date all of a sudden made it feel real.

So on that Saturday, June 10th, I thought, today will be the day I pack my bag and get ready. I made my husband take me to CVS to get lip balm as that was one thing on my list I didn’t have.  I read all the books and was on all the websites and every single hospital checklist said I had to pack lip balm.

I remember we got into a little disagreement about making an extra stop that day for lip balm because I already had various old chapsticks at home, but I was pregnant and irrational and convinced him I needed a BRAND NEW one for the hospital.

Being the smart man he was, he took his waddling crabby wife to CVS to get the darn lip balm.

When we got home, I went upstairs to pack, but felt so achy and tired, I actually laid down on the bed and ended up falling asleep.  Given this was to be our first baby, it was a time when I could take a nap at will.

So the bag didn’t get packed that day.  But I thought I still had 10 days to do it.  We went to a birthday party that night and I was glad to have a distraction to take my mind off my misery.   When we got home I remember just whining and complaining to my husband, trying to get him to UNDERSTAND just how terrible I felt. I am sure my husband thought, “Oh GEESH, do I have another 10 days of this?!”

Nope!

I woke up in the middle of the night that night and my water had broke.  Obviously broke.  I remember shaking with nerves and excitement and crawling on my hands and knees to get to my dresser to try to get dressed as my husband called our doctor.

I had a flashback of a bad video I saw in a birthing class about someone standing up after their water had broke and the umbilical cord falling out, so I was terrified and wanted to stay on all fours just in case.  I did not want my baby falling out in my bedroom.

As I was on the floor I thought, “June 11th is her birthday. June 11th.   June 11th. I get to meet her today on June 11th.”

My second thought was, “MY BAG ISN’T PACKED!!!!!

And as I have learned over these past five years, just like an unpacked bag or a chosen birth date, there are endless things in motherhood you don’t expect or can’t “Type A” plan for, so going to the hospital without an officially packed bag was just a sign of what was to come!  And it turns out I really didn’t need the lip balm after all.

So my baby turns five tomorrow.

That picture makes me smile because I remember just staring at her in a daze in the hospital.  I was in awe, totally clueless.  No idea what I was doing.

But, she was mine. She was ours.  I was someone’s mom. Her mom. I stared at her features for hours.  I was in awe of how much she looked like her dad.  Still does.  I remember the first time I looked in her eyes.  Again, pure awe. Our souls were connected, always will be.

Five years is sort of a significant number to me.  Just think of the times you are asked, “what’s your five year plan?”  Or, “where do you see yourself five years from now?”

Looking back five years and thinking about where I am today, I don’t think I could have had the slightest inkling of just how much I would learn and how our lives would be changed forever.

She has been the source of tremendous joy and shown me a love that I didn’t know existed. She has challenged me and pushed me as a person. She makes me want to be a better person.

I still stare at her face in awe. Every day she is looking more like a little girl. I am noticing more mature features.  The “baby face” is slowly fading away.   When she was dancing with her dad in the “Daddy Daughter Dance” at her first dance recital last weekend, I thought, my God at the rate these past five years have gone before we know it she will be dancing with him at her wedding.  Not to go there, but really. And again, I smiled at how much she looks like her dad.

So, happy birthday to my little five-year-old Emma!  And happy weekend to everyone!

After the dance recital June 2011. Kudos to my husband for learning a whole routine to “Hero” by Enrique Inglesis.  Now that is daddy dedication! Hee hee… xoxo

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