Self Care

Self Care Mondays #11: Rebel!

September brings about this freshness and renewal for personal growth. With children returning to school we are reminded of the goals we want to achieve and start organizing ourselves to strive towards them.

This can be a great thing… unless you have a tendency towards perfection. If you’re anything like me writing down lists and making big plans gives you a “high” that is most often followed by a “low” when you realize you’ll never get it all done. We set our expectations high and we place so many hopes on that sense of accomplishment that can never come because its just impossible to achieve.

I’ll never plan every meal a week ahead of time or make dinner every night. My husband does way more of the cooking than I and yet I find myself each Sunday convincing myself that I’ll take on the meals because I “should.” Why am I trying so hard to strive to be something that I’m just naturally not?

So I’ve decided this week I’m going to do the exact opposite of setting my sights high and choosing to strive towards perfect stay at home motherhood or at least the societal expectation I put upon myself.

In short- I’m going to rebel.

Self Care Mondays #11- Rebel On, Mamas

 

 

Rebelling is something we often relate to our teenage years. We may look back at ourselves and roll our eyes at the ways we rebelled now but in that moment the rebellion was essential to our development. Rebelling is a key way to affirm your identity and assert your values whether or not they are part of the establishment. It’s a way of saying, “I’m making these choices for me and not for what I feel society expects.” It’s liberating, it’s freeing, it’s so damn important.

In a way being a mom sometimes feels like those junior high days where you feel you have to do so much to fit in. Only instead  of liking N’Sync and wearing Doc Martens its  feeding your children organic vegetables and knowing everything there is to know about the latest parenting book. Societal expectations and attitudes prey upon the vulnerable, those that are insecure about who they are and that quite perfectly sums up how I’ve felt the past 2 years. Well mamas, its time for a rebellion.

To be honest my actions might not change that much in my rebellion. I set my sights high to cook each week and then they usually don’t pan out anyways. I make cook no more or less than I usually do. However, its my attitude towards how much I cook that will change. I’m not cooking because I feel I should. I’ll cook because  I want to. Now I may cook because there’s a tasty recipe I’ve found or because I want my son to eat more veggies or because I want to do something nice to my husband. But I refuse to cook because I feel that it somehow makes me a better mom in the eyes of society. That attitude I will firmly rebel against.

I’ll take more time for myself this week and ask for it clearly. I’m rebelling against the expectation that moms must be martyrs.

I’ll go with the flow and stop feeling disappointed if I don’t have a firm schedule for my 2 year old. I’m rebelling against the expectation that moms must be in control at all times.

I’ll communicate with my son the way that feels loving and naturally to me. I won’t obsess over saying “good job”too much or worry that anytime I get short with him I’ve done permanent and irreversible damage to his self esteem (I will however, apologize to him). I’m rebelling against the expectation that there is only one right way to parent.

Again, I may go about my week in a similar fashion as always but the way I perceive these actions will change. Instead of rebelling against my sense of self I’m going to rebel against the societal attitudes that I’ve let seep into my life.

So find some small ways to rebel this week. Start to follow your choices and actions based on what you truly want and feels is best regardless of the attitudes out there that say otherwise. Rebel on mamas.

 

 

 

Self Care

Self-Care Mondays #1o: Let Time Be on Your Side

(I apologize for my absence lately! Between heading back to the US for a visit with family and getting Mentoring 4 Moms started things have  been busy!)

Self-Care Mondays #10- Let Time Be On Your Side

This week my husband and I got some disappointing news. It wasn’t anything very serious but I was pretty upset initially. I didn’t want to be around anyone or talk about it. I was angry, upset, sad, and anxious. I felt like taking it out on others and got myself pretty worked up. But then I decided to take a step back and remember that time has so much power. I knew deep down that time would help me cope with these emotions, see the situation from different perspectives, and heal in my own way. Wanting to hold onto those feelings would only lead me to more frustration. I decided to focus on other things and come back to the situation later when I felt more in control. In a couple days I started seeing things from a different perspective and feel much better about our situation now.

In the moment we can feel so overwhelmed with various emotions- anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration. It leads to us to want to act impulsively- by yelling, taking it out on others, acting before thinking things through. But if we can remember that time will help us and that giving ourselves time to ride the roller coaster or emotions or ride the wave of those strong feelings we can remember that eventually the wave will die down, the roller coaster will come back down and we can be more settled and in control of how we think and respond to situation. Unfortunately we can’t run away from a wave or get off the roller coaster before it goes over that hill….we just have to wait it out.

Take time with your feelings and model this for your children as well. One tool I often would tell parents to use when they felt that initial anger with their children is to tell their child “I’m feeling pretty upset right now. I need some time to calm down. When I am calm we can talk about this and figure out what’s next.” In that message you are also communicating to your child that we should allow ourselves time to deal with feelings before reacting to them, an essential life skill for childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

When you feel the wave come crashing down upon you find a mantra that’s helpful like “this will pass” or “time will heal.” Take a deep breath and let it flow.That’s the great thin about feelings- they don’t last forever.

So next time you’re overwhelmed with a feeling decide to ride the wave and wait it out. Let time do it’s thing and help you heal. When the wave dies down you can then figure out what to do next because you’ve got the control back.

 

 

 

Self Care

Self-Care Mondays #9: Enjoy the Sound of Silence

I’ve always been a person with a mind that races at a million miles a minute. It’s hard for me to stop the plethora of ideas and worries and to-do list items from popping into my mind that motivate me to take immediate action and do something. I put pressure on myself to do something all the time. The thoughts continue to race all the way up to me closing my eyes and I realize that I never get to experience the quiet mind.

 

Self-Care Mondays 9- Enjoy the Sound of Silence

 

And even if you’re not like me we live lives that are full of input. Requests from our children, noise from TV and cell phones, information from articles and Facebook groups, opinions of our families and friends, demands from our daily to-do lists and jobs. Everything’s coming in and if we never have time to sit and sort it out in the silence we can easily feel defeated and overwhelmed.

Silence is not something to always be filled but our society and culture seems to make us believe that. Many people I meet say they feel awkward when there is silence in a conversation. I utilized silence in my therapy sessions with clients often. If they became uncomfortable I encouraged them to take a deep breath and sit with their thoughts before continuing or before I would have my reply. It’s perfectly okay to say to anyone in your life, “Do you mind if it’s quiet for a second, I need some time to think.” This is a profound tool you can use with your children when it comes to discipline. Often if we feel pressure to make a decision and act in the moment we don’t have time to organize our thoughts and feelings and can act rashly or in ways we didn’t intend to.

Silence in itself can be a gift. It’s a gift that is full of time to sit with our thoughts, be with them, and sort through them without having to get up and do something. But we have to do to the work to first create the opportunity for it and then let it be.

So for this post I let myself sit in silence for 5 minutes. Initially I tried to work on mindfulness techniques which I will elaborate on in next week’s post but found myself just wanting to focus on being comfortable with the silence and stillness instead of focusing on my thoughts. You have to be comfortable with the silence and the stillness before you can work on how to really be mindful and meditate. I let myself organize my thoughts and sit with ideas. The one thing I wouldn’t allow myself to do it get up and take action. I had to wait and sit still until those 5 minutes were over. For people like me, this is really really hard. But I was able to form a better action plan for the day, take some time to be gentle with myself about previous judgments, and be inspired for the remainder of the day. I sorted with all that input and feel that things are filed away where they should and I can truly focus on the moment.

So try sitting in silence for 5 minutes each day. Take notice of your thoughts and instincts within those 5 minutes. What did you learn about yourself and your thoughts that you may have not if you were doing something else?

 

 

Self Care

Self-Care Mondays #8: Hey Mama-What Do You Stand For?

I remember in college having a sign I hung in my room that said, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” I was a passionate girl in college and in many ways I still am. I was ready to fight for what I thought was right and attended various protests for issues I believe in throughout my 4 years there.

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I’m not sure that moms who don’t stand for something will fall for anything but I do think that if a mom loses touch with her values it’s very easy to fall for our negative thoughts and judgements we place on ourselves. Our personal values are what keep us grounded and focus. They are the platform that keeps us standing on our own two feet and when we lose touch with them things can get shaky.

Personal values come from many places: our upbringing, our environments, our culture, our relationships, past experiences, and our own unique personalities. They are our compasses to help direct our decisions and behaviors. Sometimes when we feel lost or having difficulties we can fall back on our values to guide us. When we feel disheartned about our direction in life our values can be the light at the end of the tunnel. When we feel discouraged by our choices or the way things are going we can again rely on our values to center and ground us.

Reflect on your values inside and outside of motherhood. If you need some examples here is a list:

Fun                             Wealth                     Achievement                  Education                  Faith

Creativity                 Fairness                  Compassion                     Generosity                Adventure

Family                       Community            Health                                Loyalty                     Love

Empathy                  Discipline                 Honesty                           Hard Work             Happiness

Freedom                 Practicality               Exploration                     Patriotism              Balance

Simplicity               Success                    Growth                               Security                 Leadership

Independence          Grace                      Intelligence                        Beauty                   Service

 

For  your self-care exercise this week write down your top 10 values and then circle your top 3. Ask yourself these questions:

How are you living by your values? In what ways is it difficult to stick to these values?

How do you show your children and close family and friends that these values are important to you?

Do you make decisions everyday based on these values? Do you allow values of less importance take over? Which ones?

Write down 2 things you can do this week to show your commitment to these values.

So mama, what do you stand for? What are you about as a person, woman, and mom? If a value is mportant to you then try to find ways this week to make it priority. Let this be your roadmap to your decisions inside and outside of motherhood. Stand on that platform of strength and proud of who you are and what you’re about. You’ll be a guiding light for yourself and your children.

Self Care

Self-Care Mondays #7: Making Authentic Connections

I’m a true believer that connecting with one another is a central part of our purpose. Being able to relate to others and show support can build a strong and inspirational web to help keep each other confident and empowered .

Self Care Mondays #7- Making Authentic Connections

 

 

 

Making an authentic connection means we are reaching out to another person by presenting our genuine self through sharing thoughts, feelings, or opinions or making attempts to relate to them and open up ourselves for engagement.

How many times are we responding to others or our children without looking them in the eye? How many times do we say, “Good job!” or “That’s nice!” without truly stopping what we are doing to really look at our child in the eye and look at what they want to show us.  It is hard for us to slow down and truly take in those moments when we have our minds on something else. But its not just about showing our children respect and considering, we can also find healing in those truly authentic moments if we slow down enough to take advantage of them. This is not me saying, “Slow down moms and pay attention to your kids!” as much as what I am truly trying to say which is, “Look mom! Here’s an opportunity to show care and consideration for yourself and your child at the same time! Slow down and be present because your child will feel good and you will too.”

We can be in relationship with one another but not necessarily feel connected. Even as a mom I have felt disconnected from my son when I let my insecurities take over and rob me of my self-confidence. But I have found the moments I cherish the most about motherhood aren’t when I am necessarily doing something for my son but just listening to him and being present with him.

Take some time to slow down today and just be fully present with someone. Instead of focusing on what you can do for them or how they may be perceiving you just be fully present by listening to them and being authentic in your responses. Eye contact and touch can go a long way. Asking simple questions like “How are you feeling?” or “What are you thinking about?” open up the conversation. Silence can even be healing too. Sometimes we make beautiful connections without saying anything at all. Be present, be you, and be healed by the power of connection.

Self Care

Self-Care Mondays #6: Self Gratitude

I’ve recently started a ritual for myself at night time. In order to avoid getting stuck in my thought “ruts” of thinking about everything I need to get done tomorrow or beating myself up for the mistakes I made today I take 2 minutes to write down something I was grateful for in the day just before I fall asleep. I write 3 sentences tops. It’s a great way to journal and record your history without the pressure of going in depth but also a great way to end your day on a positive note. But what I also make sure is that I include a sentence about something about just me for which I am grateful.

Self Care Mondays Self-Gratitude

 

So how is being grateful self-care?

Gratitude is the act of appreciating what we have and actually finding it to be enough. We may not have much compared to others but gratitude says, this is enough for me.

Brene Brown’s work tells us that we live in a culture that believes in scarcity. Scarcity means that a lack of resources exist or there is simply not enough for our wellbeing. When we apply that to the overall attitude of our lives we start to feel that nothing is ever enough and thus feel constantly dissatisfied. But because nothing is ever enough we back ourselves into a corner when we keep searching for more. It becomes an pointless effort when we search for more to fulfill our happiness, satisfaction, or self-esteem. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brown states, “For me the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I’m enough. My kids are enough.” As mothers we may choose to ignore the our nurturing strengths like affection or providing emotional support that we provide our children and focus only on the fact that we couldn’t supply enough breastmilk, time, money, attention, etc. When we feel we have enough and are enough we start to feel satisfied, happy, and confident in ourselves.

Lots of times when we think of what we are grateful for it is the external world, our family and friends, our resources, something that happened to us, or something we received.. There seems to be a notion in gratitude thinking at times that relays that we were bestowed with something happening to us which can, at times, take away from the fact that we deserve it or earned it. I believe that we should also show gratitude for the internal world that is ourselves and that both concepts can truly co-exist. You can be grateful for work ethic and sense of dedication that resulted in a reward and also grateful that you were given the opportunity. I’d like to challenge you to write down things you are grateful about that are results of what is within you. And I’d like you to remind yourself that because of your gratitude, you are enough.

So sure, write down the things you were grateful for that happened today or the thing that your child did that amazed you. But leave one sentence in there just for you.

“I’m grateful that I have the patience to let my son explore things even when I feel the need to control.” ”

“I’m grateful that I have a caring spirit and reached out to a friend in need today.”

“I’m grateful that I have a good work ethic and provide an example to my children about hard work and achieving your goals.”

What you are saying in those sentences is “I am grateful for me.”

That is self-love. That is self-care.

Self Care

Self-Care Mondays #5: Music As Therapy

I want to be clear in this post that I am not a music therapist nor do I have background in music therapy. What I am describing in this post is not considered clinical music therapy. I have utilized music much in my practice for therapeutic purposes but it is important to know that music therapists use music as therapy (versus in therapy) and have a diverse array of interventions for engage clients in musical activities that are therapeutic. For more information about music therapy you can visit  www.musictherapy.org

Self-Care Mondays #5- Music as Therapy and My List of Therapeutic Songs

When I worked with adolescents music was a lifeline to getting to share their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes lyrics to a song can describe how we feel even better than we can articulate ourselves. When I posed questions to my clients such as “Create a soundtrack to your life,” or “Choose a song that best represents you” songs immediately came to their mind and we could use it as a starting point to uncover their thoughts and feelings.

We all have songs that have deep meaning in our lives whether it was a song that played at a special event or a song that takes us back to period in our lives. Music reminds us of a feeling, a time, a person, or a place. When we apply meaning to music we channel a part of ourselves when we listen to it that can provide therapeutic benefits such as recalling memories, expressing thoughts or feelings, or connecting

I find it helpful to have several healing songs in my playlist that I can play when I am struggling with different emotions. For days where I feel sad or run down I like to play “Breathe Me” by Sia. For me this song is cathartic and a helps me release my emotions not only because of the lyrics but also because of the music itself, the song even without the singing conveys strong emotions. When I listen to it I let myself sit with my feelings and be sad or lonely. When the song finishes I feel a sense of closure and an ability to start to move on from my mood and take action. That is when I when I search for songs that are more upbeat and empowering.

Here are some songs from my therapeutic playlist to play when you need to release sadness, need empowerment and hope, and some songs about parenting and motherhood that can be healing as well and remind you of how amazing it is to be a parent.

Sadness/Despair

Breathe Me- Sia

She Used to Be Mine- Sara Bareilles

Invisible-Skylar Grey

After All- Dar Williams

Pavement Cracks- Annie Lennox

Summer, Highland Falls- Billy Joel

Clare De Lune- Claude DeBussy

Empowerment/Hope

Change Gonna Come- Otis Redding

Dog Days Are Over- Florence and the Machine

That I would Be Good-Alanis Morrisette

Float On- Modest Mouse

Fix You Up- Tegan and Sara

Brave- Sara Bareilles

I’ve Got A Name- Jim Croce

I Am Mine- Pearl Jam

Can’t Keep It In- Cat Stevens

The Pretender- Foo Fighters

Fix You-Coldplay

Motherhood/Parenting

The Things We’ve Handed Down- Marc Cohn

Slow Down- Nichole Nordeman

The Best Day of My Life- American Authors (reminds me of the day my son was born)

Blessed-Elton John

Danny’s Song- Kenny Loggins

Baby Mine- Bette Midler

Love of My Life- Carly Simon

Watch Them Grow-Zach Gill

Although I’m not a Country music fan myself I also recommend the song Turn on the Lights by Wade Bowen which is a beautiful song written about the singer’s wife’s struggle with postpartum depression.

So I hope you can find some songs that you connect with this week and make them readily available to you. When you have a moment to yourself listen to them and allow yourself to be washed over with the emotions the music conveys. Let the emotions out, reflect on how you relate to it, and allow the music to heal you.

What are some songs that you find therapeutic?