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Mama-Nesting: Tidying Up to Clean out the Mental Junk

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No. I am not referencing Marie Kondo in this post! I am nearly out of my second trimester, it seems time is flying these days. I generally feel ready for Mira’s arrival and I am not stressing about preparations. I haven’t even read a pregnancy book. The weekly growth reminders from my app are all I need.

It is kind of weird to be in this space. Naturally I am a planner, but somehow this pregnancy is letting me go with the flow more than I ever have in my life. I mentioned in a previous post the personal work that is required of me at this time. I wanted to expand on those thoughts a little more.

Identifying the Clutter

When I wrote Integrating the Mama, I identified the types of thoughts that have negatively occupied my mind. This is the first step in healing any type of wound. Identify the problem, know how you react, what the mind does when you think those thoughts, and consiously change your behavior.

Just as you walk through your home (my Marie Kondo insight) and feel if your things spark joy, you do the same with your thoughts. Thoughts are things, and holding on to negativity will create a negative outcome in life. So, if a thought doesn’t spark joy– release it, change it, get rid of it!

Catch 22

Yes, it is easy to say stop thinking “bad” thoughts. Actually doing it is something else. We are creatures of habit. We have been told many things that are not always in alignment with our true nature, and we’ve started to believe it. We have maybe been abused or endured a trauma that has left its mark. Maybe feelings and thoughts around those events creep back in more than we care to admit.

It all becomes a habit. The emotions we are “comfortably uncomfortable” with are easier to dwell on than the joy we can create. Trust me, I speak from experience.

I think the definition of my habitual attitude is “brooder”. Merriam-Webster defines that as someone who worries about everything, lol. I will brood about something that happened 10 years ago and feel nothing will ever be “right” when everything within my grasp IS right. You see quite a catch-22.

Owner/Victim Choice

A few years ago I was pointed to this audio by Steve Chandler. It is totally worth your 30 minutes to listen! He outlines two very different outlooks on life, the choice of being a victim or an owner of life. I was a victim, who had a glimpse of ownership. An owner is someone who sees life as a gift and uses life as an energy source to create what they want for themselves. A victim is someone who is lackluster, feels that life is unfair or a burden.

I was raised by victims. My main influences were people who were defined by their negative circumstances and often blamed their problems on those circumstances. A very common thought in my family was that something bad happened 10, 20, or even more years ago, so today is doomed. This is why my childhood was riddled with addiction.

My parents and grandparents fell victim to their emotional pains, so they would reach for a substance or choose an action to numb those negative feelings. They could not name the thought, claim it, and tame it. I had (and yes, it still sometimes reappears) tendencies to lean toward some of those thought patterns.

Becoming an owner is to recognize it and know that I have complete and total control of how I think and feel. Each and every day it is my choice to wake up and choose to be happy. I believe life is a gift and there is beauty all around, so my to-do list each and every day is how am I going to recognize this beauty and express it to the world around me?

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Weed and Seed

There are many techniques for changing our mental habits. To truly tidy-up the mind you have to make a commitment to yourself to make a mental change.

To begin my “weeding” process I take an inventory of things that I engage with that are either fulfilling or draining. What am I listening to? Who am I spending time with? What am I watching on tv or engaging with on social media? Being aware of what is nourshing points you in the direction of what you need to do more of.

Consciously program in all that’s GOOD. I do this by listening to something inspiring in the morning and reading something positive as I end the day.  I do not spend a lot of time reading rants on the internet or diving too deeply into politics.

Spend time in nature. This is another big one for my well-being. Connecting with nature and taking in the beauty allows my mind to relax and feel expansive rather than constricted. Too many days without doing this exercise can really change my mood, and not for the better.

Surround yourself with a tribe of good people! Just a short coffee break with a friend or a playdate with a wonderful mama is a great way to nourish and keep yourself uplifted. It is easy, especially as a mom of young children, to stay inside and sweep up crumbs. Take time to nourish yourself and your relationships!

These are the tips I use to keep myself in a positive mindset, and something that I am making a habit of during these last months of pregnancy. I am keeping the garden that is my mind clear of the weeds, and planting plenty of good seeds that I can nourish and grow as I move into this next phase of life.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Maintaining a Healthy Body Image During Pregnancy

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Body image is something I struggle with during pregnancy. Especially during the first and third trimesters. I am in the stage right now where I definitely look like I’ve packed on a few. However, not quite a baby. You know the stage where maternity clothes aren’t quite right but regular jeans are not comfortable?

This time around, it hit me rather hard. With our new dietary habits, I reached a weight I have not seen since my 20’s. I was feeling good about my body, and new pregnancy hormones swiftly added the bloat and emotions right on top of it!

Watching the numbers on the scale increase 5 lbs in just a few short weeks is always a bit perplexing. The scientific part of it is sensible and I’m very happy my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. The psychological aspect can still trigger some negative self-talk.

My husband is such a wise champ. He always has words of wisdom to help me gain control of my hormonal rollercoaster. His advice was to enjoy every second of this pregnancy and to be grateful that my body knows what to do to support the growth of our daughter.

I write affirmations on sticky notes and place on my bathroom mirror. This is to remind me of the “truth” as I look in the mirror. I have also been finding some transitional wardrobe pieces that make me feel comfortable and look presentable and continuing to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine helps alleviate the negative self-talk I tend to do.

I may never be a photogenic pregnant woman who documents every week. I can be a pregnant woman comfortable in my skin as I stay present and enjoy these short few months of pregnancy.

I have complete confidence that my body is working as it should”.

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Backwards With Time

 

avett-brothers-2390713_640The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands. The lyrics and title of the song Backwards With Time have been floating through my head most of the day. Backwards With Time. Am I losing my mind, or am I going backwards with time?  This verse is what I want to focus on for a moment in my writing.

Goals, decisions, choices. I think about these things a lot. Why would we ever feel like we are losing our minds or going backwards in time?  Why would someone work hard to achieve something then let all they have worked for go away? I know I have been guilty of this. An example is losing 25 pounds, managing it keep the weight off for a year and gain it all back in a matter of months. My answer is complacency. We get tired of working hard, or feel we “deserve” things to keep working on its own without the same effort. For me, I am learning to make lifestyle changes permanent. Changing bad habits– making true change, and keeping up with my vision of what true health and wellness is. I refuse to settle for only feeling “okay”. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I have had a lot of bad habits in my life. One thing I have learned is that once you know better, it feels way worse to “backslide”. Yesterday when I sat down with my Avett Brother’s playlist I was in one of those moments where bad habits were lurking in my mind. I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and questioned some advice I was given (that I knew I needed to take). My first response was to react in anger (which for me is the cover emotion for absolutely every other emotion), then the thought of devouring a box of cookies felt like a good choice.

My mind was searching for something to soothe or procrastinate the actions I knew I needed to take for my ultimate wellness. Why, oh why is suffering such an “easy” choice? Stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something different– thinking a new thought and doing it, even if it feels uncomfortable often leads to personal growth that we can not even fathom. Lifestyle change, permanent change requires tapping into an internal strength and commitment to the light at the end of the tunnel that we may only get a glimpse of on occasion. Strengthening our focus, staying attuned to that glimpse makes the day to day actions toward whatever it is at the end of the tunnel feel less elusive. The key is to get out of complacency, pushing against resistance and catapulting up and out of the funk that sometimes feels like we may be losing our minds or going backwards in time.

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Freedom

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My husband and I just returned from our annual Young Living International Grand Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. The theme this year was “Freedom” and a word I have held closely to my heart for about 5 years. The word freedom has had many meanings for me over the years, each time triggering something I wanted to be free of. There is a little humor in this post though, not the serious soul-searching quest for freedom post.

While I was at convention, in a building that was hosting over 30,000 people, I lost my phone. Not once, but twice. I have been attached to a mobile device for nearly 20 years. Both times my phone was misplaced, I had just applied the essential oil blend “Freedom”, so I found it quite funny that my sense of “connectivity” was lost. It was actually, quite freeing. Since being married to my husband we have had many conversations about when it is appropriate to be tethered to our devices, and when it is not.

Lately, I have been more aware of the hold my device has had on me. For quite awhile, I argued that I was using it for “work”, which in reality, I was using it as an escape from work. I would scroll through social media looking for inspiration and I would lose more time than I care to admit “scrolling” as my husband likes to call it. Being free of my phone for those few hours brought awareness to how often I look at my phone to see if I have notifications, or look at the time. When it was lost I was surprised and how calm I was about it. I did not freak out, and knew it would find its way back into my possession. Or if it didn’t, I would be okay. I also was forced to make conversation with people when asking for the time. I used my “freedom” wisely and spent one whole evening in my hotel room journaling and reading words printed on paper!

Technology definitely has its perks, however the ability to use it responsibly is my ultimate goal. I have often picked up my phone first thing in the morning, saw something unpleasant and my mood was impacted for a good portion of the day. I have had Facebook dictate what memories I need to revisit, and sometimes the memories maybe weren’t so pleasant.  Social media can pull our strings. Artificial intelligence fits us into a perfect algorithm that knows how to get us to buy or how to make us feel so that we keep coming back for more.

Human connection is important, and I have found that actually spending time with people and talking to them either face-to-face or on the phone can alleviate a lot of the misinterpretation that occurs via text or posting on social media. It also frees up a lot of time, conversations that can span a day can be done within minutes with a sense of connectivity and clarity that can be more gratifying in terms of connection. Losing my phone gave me a moment of quiet and a knowing that I could connect to the world around me and be present, safe and able to navigate without technology. This is also something I want to model for my teen before the age of the iPhone catches up with him.