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Finding the Strength to Heal from Abuse

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.

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Using Breath to De-stress

This week, I started a 21-day self-care challenge in my Facebook group. One of the challenges this week was to stop 3 times a day to take 5 deep breaths. Life begins with our first breath and ends at our last. Breathing is a fairly unconscious action. It is often taken for granted until our breathing is impaired.

Mind/body connection

Every system in our body relies on oxygen. Physically oxygen moves to our bloodstream via the lungs. Anxiety or stress causes a racing mind and breathing to be short, rapid, and shallow. Every thought is linked to a breath.

Thinking one thing while your body is doing another is an example of “dis-integration”. Meaning, not living in the present moment or in unity. An easy way to start living in the present is by improving the quality of your breathing.

Mindfully taking slow, steady, gentle, and deep breaths will calm and relax your mind, reduce tension and anxiety, and improve concentration. Breathwork is a way to control emotions and fears, the mind will be less agitated so we can work and communicate from balanced thoughts.

Long slow deep breaths fill the lower spaces of the lungs. Most of us only use 1/3 of our lung capacity, so as breath quality improves carbon dioxide and impurities will begin to detox.

Checking in with myself

My breath is how I check in on myself to check on my emotional state. I used to feel anxious and shaky nearly all of the time, so learning how much power is in the breath was a game-changer. I can release anxiety or emotional discord relatively quickly when I tune in to my breathing quality.

On days where I’m having difficulty slowing breath or my mind, I can add an essential oil or a mantra to my practice to find balance much quicker. I know we are living in stressful times and I want to share all that I know for staying calm.

Recently I started a new Facebook group, the intention is to create a positive community of support for moms. I will share tips to stay uplifted, find time for self-care, family balance, and more as the community evolves. Please feel free to send me a join request if this feels like something you would benefit from.

When the breath wanders, the mind also is unsteady…Hatha Yoga Pradipika

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The Household Healer

“Our children are our garden. They absorb our stress, just as they absorb our peace. They absorb our negativity, just as they absorb our joy. We have the power to control what they absorb, but first, we must tend to ourselves.”⁠⠀
—Rachel Macy Stafford

My blogging has taken the back burner. The climate of the world has been tough for me to address in writing so I have been educating myself and truly examining and strengthening my core.

I just want to share a little bit about my parenting philosophy and why I share the things I share. In our home, we lean away from mainstream thought when it comes to healing and I value my role in our family as our healer. So, we do lots of things like essential oils, tinctures, foods, supplements, lotions, and potions, and emotional wellness.

A family touchpoint for wellness is to make sure we are tending to our physical, spiritual and emotional bodies. This keeps us strong as we are faced with challenges, triumphs. We have to adjust, adapt, and acclimatize as life comes at us.

My most important work as a mother is to stay emotionally strong and balanced. Yes, I have weak moments and yes, I make mistakes. So I try really damn hard to own it and make a change as quickly as possible so that I am one of the peaceful leaders of our pack.

On the broader scale, I have really internalized how important family wellness is for all of humanity. For a while, I felt helpless, and like our society is crumbling (and it may be) but what can I control? I can control myself (thoughts) and what I allow to infiltrate my kids. I think the healing of the world begins at home and I am ready to take those steps every day.

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3 Tips for Surviving the Sleep Deprivation of Parenthood

I’m going to admit something. Before having my third child, I never truly understood what it meant to be exhausted. Of course, I’ve been tired. I’ve had sleepless nights, but nothing that couldn’t be restored with a couple of good nights rest.

I am blessed with 2 boys that are amazing sleepers. Mira, on the other hand is not going to follow the pattern of her brothers. We’ve had Ezra on a 7pm-7am schedule with a 2-3 hour nap for ages. Mira is 6 1/2 months old now and still waking 2-4 times per night, and her naps are essentially catnaps. We’ve moved her out of our room, she’s in her own crib. We’ve coslept, we’ve let her fuss it out. The fact is, she isn’t biologically wired to sleep all night.

That being said, Ezra now wakes at 5:15 am like a wonderful little alarm clock. No matter what his bedtime, no matter what our bedtime, he bounds out of bed ready to go. We are coming to the point of acceptance that we are in our season of sleep deprivation.

Some days, I don’t realize how tired I am until the kids are in bed and Gus and I take time to connect and watch something on our Britbox subscription. Sometimes it takes us 3 days to finish one episode because one of us is nodding off. Oh, the saga of parenthood.

I have had to find some solutions and relief (because a nap doesn’t happen) to get me through the day so I can still function without binging on coffee. I do enjoy a morning cup of coffee, but I like to leave it as a morning ritual, not a vice for mental clarity.

Lifting the Fog

  1. Vitamin D3– this is a powerhouse hormone in our body. There are many studies showing how a large portion of the population are vitamin d deficient. This is one of the first things I take in the morning along with my probiotic and multivitamin. I need to take it anyway since I’m breastfeeding. What it does physiologically is help the mitochondria which are “the power houses” of our cells to work efficiently.
  2. Hydration– something as simple as water is an amazing tool. Dehydration slows us down, causes us to feel stronger brain fog, and actually causes us to retain fluids. I try to consume 3-4 quarts per day, and it truly does help reduce fatigue.
  3. Opt outside– There’s an old Scandinavian saying “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”– so by implementing this phrase, getting outdoors every day can be a priority. Luckily, we live in Florida where there truly is rarely bad weather so opting outdoors is always possible. Fresh air and sunshine do wonders for the mood (and vitamin D levels). I pack up the kids in their stroller and walk around the neighborhood– it’s a quick 15 min walk but typically causes them to chill out or fall asleep and energizes me. A win-win.

These are my simplest tricks. The first tools in my toolbox that I gravitate toward when I’m feeling rundown. I have many other tools for boosting energy and clearing the brain-fog that often hits my husband and I these days. What do you do to get through the sleep deprived days?

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Taking a Pause: The Art of Convalescence

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Cough, cough, sniff, sniff. Those are the sounds that have been traveling through our house the past few days. I have had 2 kids down with a virus, Ezra taking the brunt of it. He has entered preschool a few hours a week this year, and it seems each Friday he comes home with something. This time, the illness truly got my attention and required me to switch my mindset a bit. Recently my focus has been on what to do to care for my sick child when the importance was truly just caring for my sick child.

I’m a great caregiver, in theory. I will calmly make sure all of the logistics are taken care of, however, truly taking time to notice intuitively what my kids needed was missing. My mind fluctuated on everyone’s basic needs, the work I needed to do, and our recent sleep deprivation. Immediately, I went into “fix” mode with them. Fix the symptoms… you know, we have things to do!

I had a little ah-ha when the only thing that could console Ezra was me. I took the time to observe him, both physically and intuitively. What I realized at that moment was that he truly needed time to convalesce. Historically, this was something that was a standard for illnesses. We live in a society now where suppressing symptoms and getting back to “real life” is marketed heavily. We have “quick fixes” for everything. Yes, I believe in being comfortable and will not forgo medical care when necessary. But truly, just riding it out (even if it takes weeks) is often what we really require.

When our bodies are down, and especially when a child is ill, it is important to give space and time to truly heal. Symptoms may subside, but moving back into a hurried pace can keep the immune system weak and allow other illnesses to creep in easily. I have noticed with my kids that very often following a virus, they will have a physical or developmental leap.

The prescription I find the most helpful when we have sick kiddos is quiet time, less stimulation, and TLC. The definition of vitality is the state of being strong and active; energy. The power giving continuance of life, present in all living things. Overstimulation robs children of their vital energy. The very nature of screen time is vitality depleting, so that is something I am very cautious about allowing during illness. If I do allow screen time, we watch very gentle, calming shows. However, quiet play, books, mama cuddles, eucalyptus baths, etc are what I gravitate toward.

For me to nurture and tune into a time of convalescence, I had to release the expectations I have of myself and others and truly invite in a sense of stillness. The slower pace is necessary so the kids can replenish their vitality and do their inner work to heal. These moments are a great time to reevaluate our family rhythm and see what is serving us well and what needs adjusting so that we can all live together harmoniously and with minimal chaos.

The funny thing is, that when I spent a different kind of time with the kids I realized I was way off the mark in recognizing their needs. Ezra needed mama time, Mira needed me to loosen the reigns, and Keenan was squared away (he’s taken a lot of my brainpower lately). Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow and find new awarenesses for sure!