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The Power of Acceptance

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Last Wednesday night I attended my first prenatal yoga class in several weeks. The instructor prompted us to set an intention for our practice and the word that popped directly into my mind was “acceptance”. Since I left the class, the word and the word meaning has been bobbing around in my mind. What is it I need to accept?

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What is Self-acceptance?

The Merriam-Webster definition of self-acceptance is  the act or state of accepting oneself : the act or state of understanding and recognizing one’s own abilities and limitations”.  

The definition is pretty straight-forward; however, implementing acceptance can be the problem. Pregnancy is such a vulnerable time. In a way, it is almost an out-of-body experience. Hormonal shifts, sleep disruption, and physical discomforts all play a role in this and I often give myself a hard time when I am not functioning at optimal levels.

I tend to have an “I can do it all mentality”, and the reality is that I can’t and I don’t have to. That is what makes a family, a family. All hands need to be on deck to keep things running. Slowing my mind down and changing the way I talk to myself is how I have been able to implement self-acceptance.

Being aware of both my strengths and weaknesses, understanding my talents and capabilities and being satisfied with myself despite having a slower day or making mistakes along the way.

Writing Your Story

Yoga is always a good practice and reminder of what is going on in my mind. Ruminating on my intention and practicing self-acceptance brings me back to a lesson I have learned many times. A key thread in the Yoga Sutras is ahimsa– or non-violence to others and self. In each moment you’re either practicing self-acceptance—or you’re judging yourself.— Linda Arnold

When I am telling myself I am not a good enough wife, mom, entrepreneur, or writer I am being violent to myself. I am actually putting a lot of negativity in my mind rather than fruitful, accepting thoughts. When the negative, violent dialog enters, I take a breath and do something that feels positive or productive.

Taking a moment to journal and write a positive, opposite thought from what I am feeling is another helpful tip. I do this frequently, it is almost writing MY truth because the negativity is just a lie I am telling myself to discourage healthy self-esteem.

Wednesday is upon us again, and this week my mind feels a little less cluttered and down. I know I will leave my practice with another piece of my personal puzzle and I look forward to finding out what I need to reveal to myself.

 

 

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Integrating the Mama

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In my path of personal development, gaining control of my mind and emotions is always at the top of my list. Since becoming pregnant with this little girl, my commitment to ridding myself of some intense thoughts/emotions that I have been carrying is at the top of my list. I have mentioned in some past blogs that I grew up in a severely abusive/addictive household, which forced me to grow up quickly.

I took on the adult role at a young age but held on to the scared, sad girl piece of myself well into adulthood.  Why is this pregnancy sparking some motivation? With each kid, I can see where I have grown and where I need to grow, so adding another life (and a female) that is dependent on me and my strength as a woman really puts things into a different perspective.

My childhood experience was severe. I watched my mother battle her pains, and lose to drugs and alcohol. I intensely craved her love, stability, and support and I know that the mother/daughter experience I craved is gone– but I do have the ability to be whole, complete, and present-centered for my children.

 

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Carrying Childhood Wounds into Adulthood

The broken, fragment, little girl piece of myself caused me to seek out codependent relationships and friendships. Being in this type of relationship was all I knew, and what I felt was “normal”. Somewhere along my path, at age 35, I “got it”. I woke up, realized where I was at, what I had been choosing, and how my physical and mental health was affected by these types of relationships and choices.

After I made the “break” from my old life, I quickly moved into a good space. Things changed very fast. New town, new marriage, a new baby, and on and on. The funny thing about it was that I had this new life and really wrestled with the fact that it was “real”. I feared that I was repeating old patterns, that it was all going to disappear just as it unfolded for me. My entire pregnancy with Ezra was plagued with fear that he would have to endure the same pain that Keenan and I did, that surely things were not as good as they seemed.

My poor husband has had to endure interrogation, judgment, and moodiness all based on my fears. My oldest and I have butted heads. He lived with me in the pain, watched the transformation and has had to gain trust along the way.  I have struggled with finishing projects, pursuing my passions, and just living in the present moment from those old wounds. Three years later, and old thoughts have the power to ruin a whole entire day.

 

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All of Life is But A Transformation

The past is the past. This is something that is sometimes difficult to accept. Making a decision and commitment to myself has been where my relaxation and “change” is coming from during this next phase of life. When I live by the old images or stories I forget where I am committed to going. The life that I am creating for myself and my family and the impact that my change can have on our entire society.

My exercise during this pregnancy is to recognize when I am headed into the constrictive space of recreating pain (in my mind). I lose valuable time during those moments, and the toxic thoughts can actually create tension and physical toxicity which is not an ideal environment for a growing baby (or the children who have to live with a negative vibe).

Over the years, I have used many techniques to change my patterning. During this phase, work and exercise are the most effective. Putting all of the mental energy that I would put into a negative thought stream is now going into something constructive or productive. Fulfilling a goal, finishing a project, truly doing and sharing my passions.

Just like I hate wearing uncomfortable clothes, I hate carrying around uncomfortable thoughts– so the choice is mine. Do I choose to continue carrying pain, or change into those comfortable yoga pants and get it done?!

 

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” Dean Jackson

 

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Living Simply

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The older I get, the more I am strive for simplicity. Since 2015, we have moved several times, and each time we have shed a lot of “things”, however it seems that as quickly as we shed possessions we accumulate something to replace the space. I recently read an article and saved the quote “The interiors of our homes reflect the mind’s interior. They tell our story and reveal who we are.”

Beyond the interior of my home, I am becoming more streamlined in running my business, parenting, meal-prepping, and even self-care. Keeping things simple reduces stress and maintains a sense of fun and light-heartedness. I have overwhelmed myself many times by “cluttering” my minds interior. Over-thinking what to eat, what to blog, what to wear, what to do with my business, how to parent. Seriously, I could overwhelm you in a paragraph by showing you how I can clog my mind, lol.

Keeping it simple in family life has been the top priority. At the end of 2017, our family “hit rock bottom” so to speak, we were feeling very unsuccessful as parents, our diets were a wreck, and our business was stuck. We had to wake up and take inventory of what was going on that kept us in this loop. Two self-employed people dancing circles around each other with little productivity was NOT working!

I have found having a daily rhythm and structure are what keeps our family most harmonious and afloat. Both of my kids, a teen and a toddler, thrive with predictability. As a family, we are working on identifying what we value, and what the vision is for our family life. Some things we have identified as values are time for focused work, time outdoors, positive communication, and healthy meals. So, then we take these values and note if our actions line up with what we’ve identified. Were we practicing what we were preaching?

With these values in mind, we have a large white board where we plan our lives in 2 week intervals. We  create an outline for our days, our required activities, our food plans, etc. The structure is loose on some days, and others, of course, busier. I am also becoming more structured with including time for self-care, journaling, and reflective time. This is our way of intentional living. We have found that structuring our days and weeks creates effective productivity, and allows more space and time for what we consider fun, all the while keeping our eyes on the ball.

The other benefit of having structure is that there is less time and space in my mind for negativity. It is amazing to me how well my kids have responded. The toddler is structured with naps and meals, the teen has an outline of how the day looks and knows our expectations for pulling his weight, and I spend less time diffusing problems and wasting time and energy on things that are not in alignment with our ultimate vision and value set. I have two books I have referenced for inspiration, Steady Days by Jamie C. Martin and Living Simply with Children by Marie Sherlock. Both of which have helped with some strategies for keeping our lives intentional.

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Spring Clean(s)ing

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This week is Spring Break for my son. I live in Florida so the Spring Break celebrations are in full swing, our town is booming! For me, Spring is a time for purging and cleansing. My closet was tackled yesterday, and as I was working on the dreaded closet I remembered that I have been pursuing my diet change for about a month. A cleansing of sorts.

During this month, I have recognized several things about autoimmune diet changes. Lists and suggestions are just that, suggestions. Every body is different, and learning what will heal your body is a matter of trial and error. Within 5 days of the diet switch, Ezra’s labs began trending upward. I will be interested to see how he improves at his next visit. I have been reflecting on the healing of my physical chaos. For my work, we have a FaceBook group where I often post live videos. Occasionally, they will pop up in my feed and I can catch a glimpse or hear my voice from the past, and I can see and hear how off kilter my body truly was.

Anxiety has always been my “diagnosis”. Toward the middle of my pregnancy it was out of control and postpartum I went through many swings. Since removing many foods from my diet, I am learning that foods are often the trigger to my anxiety. For years I searched for answers to the anxiety and panic. I would often feel very jumpy, agitated, racing heart/thoughts, shallow breath, and many other uncomfortable feelings. Until I removed offending foods from my diet, I would have never realized the effect they had on my body. Now, I am very aware of the dis-integration that can occur from eating  certain foods.

Previously, I would awaken jumpy and anxious each morning and sometimes it would take until lunch to calm my inner environment. Now, I am recognizing that the way I interact with certain foods is what causes this feeling. One of my biggest culprits are tree nuts, or nut flours. Especially almond flour. I have made a few treats with these ingredients or I will snack on nuts in the evening before bed. When I do this, I wake up the next morning with the same shakiness.  When these items are eliminated, I wake up with a clear mind and balanced body.

Sugar substitutes, even natural ones also cause this response. My body almost immediately has a fight-or- flight reaction. My muscles will tense in my head, neck and shoulders and often I will have a dull headache. When I eat the foods made with alternative sugars, I  do not feel satiated and will almost immediately go into the mindless eating. All of this occurs just from the taste of sweet, regardless of where the sweetness is sourced from. My body and mind are now having to work together. I am working to make food choices that will feed the good bacteria in my gut so that I can rid the bad. Often, food cravings are linked to the “bad guys” in the gut asking for more “food” to keep them going. Having an awareness that this is whats going on physiologically makes the changes/choices easier. I’m not saying it IS easy. As I run around town doing my errands, driving through Starbucks or Chick-Fil-A are sometimes my biggest fantasies.

When I am having those meltdown moments and am contemplating giving up all my work for convenience or a moment of pleasure, all I have to remember is how I felt for most of last year. A quick mental inventory of the panic/anxiety, shakiness, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain will often clear the cobwebs and remind me of why I chose this path. I know it is probably a weird comparison, however thinking of my nice clean closet, rid of all the clutter and accumulation of the year (s) was my thought this morning. When you have an environment that is tidy, it is easier to notice when something is misplaced and impeding the flow of the space.