abuse | emotional wellness

Finding the Strength to Heal from Abuse

By on February 24, 2021

I have been thinking about vulnerability. I’m coming up on the 3 year anniversary of this blog. My intent has been to share a slice of life and finding joy in the motherhood journey.

Lately, I have been lacking inspiration and direction. Today I realized the reason. I’ve touched on my story a few times here and there, but I haven’t really shared the nitty-gritty. The nitty-gritty of how to leave a lifetime of abuse behind and create a positive life of love and healing. This growth is what has created the space to be able to fully experience “joyful motherhood”.

In the past, I have shared the “end result” rather than the baby-steps it took to get to this place of healing. My work now is to share the how-to. This is the vulnerable piece for me. The information came to me in several forms all at once. It was like I hit a place in life and the universe said here, it’s your time. Go do it. Go break the cycle.

I started taking steps– I found the personal development avenues I required to start changing my thoughts, I found someone who was willing to support me and empower me through the change. It was not (and is not) always easy. Luckily, I’m strong willed or determined and my support system knows how get me to activate the right muscles to get it done, lol. I am also dedicated to use my story and my success to help others who need and want it.

Trauma Cycles

The truth is, I have only been free of abuse for 6 years. Abuse is so clouding, I didn’t even recognize I was *still* living in an abusive situation in adulthood because it felt better than my childhood. Denial at its best. I was the master of thinking “if I do this, then our situation will change”. I failed to recognize I needed to love myself enough to completely remove myself from abuse and never turn back. The saying is true, “we repeat what we don’t repair”. This is unfortunate as a mother, because we have the luxury of passing it on to our children.

Abuse leaves nasty scars. It took about 3 years after removing myself from abuse to feel calm and grounded in my new reality. Abuse affects us physically, mentally and spiritually. It damages our self-image, our self-worth, our ability to have healthy relationships, our ability to trust life, trust people, to be fully present and on and on. It causes us to suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma responses, etc. etc.

This is the piece I feel is so truly unfair, and the piece I am passionate about. The scars DO NOT have to dictate our outcome or our level of success (meaning happiness). Life does not have to be a struggle. Yes, we will be faced with struggles. However, overall healing is possible and we can stop the cycles of abuse if we truly want it.

The Mind is a Tool

I had two thoughts I held on to throughout my childhood. #1 was that I was going through this to help others and #2 I deserved more and would have a healthy family as an adult. I had a very clear image of what my “normal” family would look like. Little did I know, that the power of focus on these two thoughts would be my saving grace.

I survived sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, living in extreme drug addiction, and many other labels. I have survived PTSD, disassociation, and have learned to live fully in my body so that I can truly enjoy life.

The details of how to leave, how to pay for it, and how to live beyond survival unfolded. I have been able to keep my son relatively sane and I feel there has been massive healing for him too, so that hopefully he doesn’t have to carry the scars into adulthood.

I’m saddened every day when I think about abuse statistics and the reality of the drug situation in our country. I felt alone when I was young, and now recognize that a huge percentage of the world falls into these statistics. All forms of abuse damages our psyche and creates the baggage that we carry.

Over the next phase of this blog, I will start sharing the ways I learned to manage my mind, pull from my inner strength, love myself, and change my story. If you or someone you know has suffered abuse in any form, please invite them to this page so they can receive this information.

Continue Reading

yoga

How to Reflect & Bring Peace to Your Daily Life

By on July 13, 2020

In my life, I work to bring my yoga practice into my daily life. As I have said in my bio, I found yoga poses 10 years ago. Since then I have wanted to learn more about the philosophy and the other 7 limbs of practice as outlined in the Yoga Sutras.

I have a few things I do daily that has really improved my mental well-being. I have a consistent meditation practice, I use affirmations, and I reflect to help balance out my daily experiences.

What is Reflection?

Reflection is a self-analysis and it is a wonderful tool to add to your bedtime routine. Use the analysis to remember the events of your day and take note of any repeating patterns. note repeating patterns of emotional ups and downs, my cycles of procrastination and activity, and the kinds of people I keep encountering. This practice is a great tool and can be done either mentally or on paper.

How to Practice Reflection

Before going to bed at night, find a comfortable place where you can sit up straight and alert. It is fine to sit in a chair, or comfortably on the floor. I have a bolster and blanket in my bedroom.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and remember back to the beginning of your day. Visualize all of the activities, events, or encounters you had during the entire day; see it all step-by-step as your day progressed. As the memory of your day unfolds, take note of emotional periods. Note them down and recognize if they were negative emotions or positive emotions.

During the period of recollection, find one moment in your day that felt very beautiful. Hold the feeling of that moment in your mind and then send that feeling back out to the moment, person, or situation. Then send that feeling back to yourself, allowing it to bless your own body and mind. Then take the feeling and visualize sending it out into the entire world.

The next step is to choose the moment that was most negative or irritating. Try to reflect on it from a different perspective, see it through a different lens. Try to see it through a lens that is logical and rational. Then send loving thoughts to that person or situation.

Reflecting with a different perspective is sometimes difficult. Many times the mind wants to rebel or resist seeing the situation differently. We often want to argue our side of things or only see it from our personal perspective. I like to diffuse an emotionally balancing essential oil or apply one to help combat the resistance. Some good choices are Surrender, Release, Clarity, Valor, Present Time, or even Frankincense (there are so many to choose from and I typically just grab what is convenient and close or that I am intuitively drawn to).

The Benefits of Reflection

The benefit of this practice is that you will become aware of emotional patterning and will be able to clear and balance them and feel a stronger sense of peace and freedom.

Practicing this daily makes it easier to let go of thoughts more easily in the moment. You will be able to notice when a habitual thought pattern starts nagging you. Just having awareness and seeing things from a different lens can assist in releasing negative emotions before they take over and steal precious moments of your day.

I know that I have often lost a lot of my day solely due to emotional discord. Being able to shift my perspective and emotional state allows me to use the energy I would lose on healthier alternatives.`

Continue Reading

emotional wellness | integration

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

By on February 7, 2019

blackbird-nest-2206124_640

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?

rake-2915742_640

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

diet | recipes

Simplifying Dietary Changes

By on January 17, 2019

The Struggle is Real

The holidays are over and I am still having trouble getting back on track with my diet. These are the thoughts that have been floating around in my mind:

Carbs taste good, I’m pregnant, just one more day, it’s just “social” eating, one more treat, I’m tired of cooking, cleaning, planning, purchasing.

There ya have it. All excuses to not be my best self. Have you ever had that dialogue floating around in your mind?

I KNOW changing my diet changed my life. I found a healthy, stable weight, my periods returned like healthy clockwork, my son’s medical issue resolved, my feelings of anxiety released, and countless other benefits.

Why, oh why are bad habits so hard to break? Why is convenience more important than health?

Last night, I really had to give myself a reality check. I’m going to deliver a baby in just a few short months, and I do not want a repeat of my last birth experience. Plus, I want my body to bounce back so that I’m not telling another story of postpartum depression or healing difficulties.

Three Tips to Simplify

Simplifying the diet is key. I’ve had to adapt so that I’m not cooking and cleaning all day, or having to run all over the state finding appropriate ingredients.

How have I simplified?

1. Shopping in bulk and mail order has been #1. I found a local source for high quality meat, and place a big order about every 2 months.

Our Costco membership has also been amazing and saves quite a bit of money. We can find compliant cheeses, vegetables, grain-free products in bulk, nice cooking oils, avocado oil mayo, almond flour, compliant salad dressings and several other staples. Scheduling this every 4-6 weeks keeps our pantry stocked and minimizes our trips to run out for just an item or two.

Amazon Prime or Thrive Market are excellent sources to find items that aren’t as accessible in the mainstream market. For me, I would have to drive an hour to a grocery store or health food store that carries compliant baking items.

2. Meal planning is also important. I used to be able to replace a meal with a protein shake to lighten my cooking load. Being pregnant has required that I eat 3 meals and only use shakes for protein rich snacks. Have you ever tried planning 21 meals a week? Its laborious.

Batch cooking and freezing is a good method to lighten the load or just having a plan for dinner by 10 am tends to work for me. Unthawing meat, knowing what veggies need prepped and just general timeline can make the task easier.

Cooking enough food to have leftovers for lunch is also a time saver, or cooking a bigger batch of a favorite that can be eaten over the course of several days for lunch.

3. Instant Pot

I have had my instant pot for about a year and wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. It is not something I use daily but it works wonders to cook a good, healthy, nutritious meal very quickly. I love it for soups and stews or to cook a perhaps frozen chicken very quickly to use for multiple meals.

These are just my tips and tricks that help me stay focused and on task with what I’m putting in my body. I am going to share one of my favorite lunch, batch cooking recipes. I make enough for several days and serve on a bed of greens with a few Simple Mills grain-free crackers. It’s both healthy and satisfying.

Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad

2 lb. pasture raised chicken breasts

3 stalks of celery, diced

lemon juice

4 Tbs chopped, fresh tarragon

avocado oil mayo (Chosen Foods brand, I buy at Costco)

handful of dried, unsweetened cranberries

1. Drizzle chicken breasts with avocado oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 min.

2. Cool and dice chicken breasts.

3. Add diced celery, tarragon, salt, pepper, and enough mayo to coat thoroughly. Approximately 1/2-3/4 c. Mix well. Add 1-2 Tbs. lemon juice and cranberries and mix again.

4. Chill and serve.

Continue Reading

diet | health research | success

Mind over Mama-Brain

By on November 13, 2018

Untitled design-16

I have to admit, I went quite a bit off the wagon with my health habits during the first few weeks of knowing I’m pregnant. Something clicked inside of me that wanted comfort, I did not want to cook, and I was emotional. Like I mentioned in my previous post– I had the “what the hell are we thinkings?” going on for several weeks. I am not a good pregnant person. I worry, I obsess, I become a ball of anxious stress. That is; until I get the all clear from the doctor that the pregnancy looks viable and is on track. As soon as we had our first ultrasound and I heard the heartbeat, my anxiety levels bottomed out.

Also, planning with my doctor to manage my risk of preeclampsia alleviated a lot of my stress. My doctor praised me for my diet and body changes over the course of this year, so I regained hope and had to revisit my relationship with the lectin-free diet. Why is the lectin-free diet such an important factor? My entire physiology changed after getting in a groove with my diet. Anxiety and postpartum depression ceased, I lost over 20 pounds, and the shape of my body changed. I have lost weight many times, but never actually lost the puffiness in my upper abdomen and actually been able to keep it off. My hormones regulated, I stopped having digestive issues, and my moods stabilized. As you can see, I received many benefits from these dietary changes.

I felt off the rails for a bit– eating what I wanted, eating emotionally, and feeling I deserved the junk because I was carrying a baby. My logical mind knows much better. I know that it is a slippery slope moving from something that obviously works very well (and probably a key factor as to why we conceived so easily) to something that was known to cause many issues! I had to readjust my mind and diligence to keep myself on the program. Being pregnant, working, raising 2 other children and being a wife is a lot of work. Healthy eating is also a lot of work, and a lot of money. However it is something that will prevent many problems down the road, so the investment of time and money is worth it.

To be successful with a plan I have to find my belief. I research, study, make plans, do a lot of trial and error. Once the parameters were established and I figured out the websites to visit, cookbooks to use, and where to buy the food I was set. We rotate a few of our favorites and occasionally try something new. When I think of something I am choosing to do for health and wellness, or habit changing I always put my kids first. What am I modeling for them? My choices are often reflected in their behavior and attitudes. We have proven time and time again that if my teen overeats sugar or carbs, his attitude is much worse. If I am choosing a fast food meal over a nourishing meal of protein and vegetables and allowing my toddler to have those tastes, his tastes will develop around what he is fed. And now I am the keeper and incubator of another wee one, and this baby’s well-being is also going to be determined by my choices.

When I take a step in the wrong direction, it just takes some strength of mind to dust myself off and get back on track. Remembering the pain of the past often makes it easier to face the discomfort of a green smoothie over Chick-Fil-A. The “pleasure” I receive from eating something that does not nourish my body is not worth the damage it does. I can take this lesson and apply it to many aspects of my life. How often am I reaching for something that feels pleasurable that ultimately does not line up with my goals? Am I talking to and about others in a constructive manner? Am I spending my money wisely? Am I working my business effectively? You get the idea. Keeping on track will make things feel much better in the long run.

Continue Reading