Are Priorities Holding You Back from the Life You Want?

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There was a time when I was very hard on myself for not living up to my own ideal of what motherhood should look like.

After years of infertility treatments, I finally got what I thought was my dream job: I was a stay-at-home mama! I kept up with my ideal almost obsessively. From cloth diapers and homemade play doh to long, media free afternoons of unstructured playtime, I had it all mapped out. And for a while, it worked. Sure, I lived for nap-time when I wasn’t needed so much and could tend to my own needs (a shower, please!). But eventually, about a year into the parenting gig, I realized I needed MORE.

I started a business when my daughter was just 20 months old. Writing a business plan, signing a lease, and ordering inventory with a toddler in tow was no easy feat! And I was still trying to hold myself to my previous standards. The ones I was able to achieve when I wasn’t starting a business.

It’s true what they say: you can have it all, but you can’t have it all at the same time.

I quickly realized that things would have to change; the way we were doing things just wasn’t sustainable. And I was being so hard on myself, giving to my business, my employees, my child, my partner, my friends. There was nothing left of me.

And then I had a second child and things got harder.

My priorities, the things that were supposed to drive the life I wanted, needed a major overhaul.

The days became so full I couldn’t keep up with washing poopy diapers. I was so tired that the thought of making dinner brought me to tears. There was no space in my mind for any more needs from anyone, let alone the needs of this ideal motherhood I wanted to have.

Because I couldn’t change the needs of my kids — they’re still quite small and their needs are totally age appropriate — I realized I had to change MY needs. My priorities had to shift into accomplishing what was truly important to me. I had to let go of unnecessary projects and busywork at the shop. I needed to stop fixating on all the things I used to enjoy that no longer served my day to day reality.

Sure, I used to make play clay; you can buy that. I used to use cloth diapers, but I chose more time reading with my kids over washing diapers. I had to let those things go because not living up to unrealistic expectations (my own) was breaking me down. I examined all of the things I felt I “should” be doing to decide which really mattered to me.

These days I choose to spend time on the things that resonate now. Baking. Practicing yoga. Picking up my kids from school each day. Focusing on the parts of work that make the biggest difference to my business and that light me up.  And if I want to make some play dough, I will because I want to, not because I feel like I should!

What are you doing because you feel like you should? Even if the should grew out of your own values and desires once? What are you doing because you once loved it that isn’t serving you right now? What, if you really stopped to think about it, is most important to do in your day?

Before you reflexively say “It’s all important,” let yourself admit what really resonates with you. It’s OK to stop doing something that was an important part of your life if it isn’t serving you right now. Priorities aren’t static. By taking time to re-examine them when things aren’t working, we can move closer to the life we really want to live.

What can you let go of? What can you embrace to move toward the bold life you dream of?

When you’re in the thick of things, it can be hard to see where you can make change. Sometimes the “shoulds” are so ingrained we think they are “musts.” That’s where I come in. I can help you get past your own blocks to dare to live the life you dream of (even if you hide that dream from yourself). It starts with clarity.

Learn more about Clarity Sessions and book yours today.

Thoughts on self-care & why I eat standing up

Thoughts on self-care & why I eat standing up

Thoughts on self-care & why I eat standing up

Some days it feels like the needs of my children are incessant. From the moment my eyelids open into the 5am darkness to the moment their little bodies succumb to sleep, they NEED.

They need love, snuggles, attention, comfort, and reassurance. They also need pancakes cut up just so, a cup of juice -no, I SAID WATER!, poopy bottoms wiped and then balanced on the “big” potty. They need latex gloves put on both hands and fire truck ladders extended. They need me to listen and offer feedback. They need me to basically bear witness and be available to assist them every second we’re together.

Which, in some ways is totally fine. That’s parenting, and meeting their needs is my job.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times where I hide in the bathroom pretending to poop for 10 minutes so I can take an Instagram break. Or that I don’t join them at the table because the second my ass hits the chair someone needs me to get something or wants out of their chair.

Occasionally, on the really tough days, I sit them at the table facing the tv while they eat.

I eat standing up in the kitchen, in plain view but far enough away to not trigger the Need button. I hunch over the plate scooping forkfuls of leftovers into my mouth while scrolling through Facebook, eager to accept my Mother of the Year award.  But I am okay with it, because on some days, this is one of the only peaceful moments I get. Some days, this is what self-care looks like for me.

Motherhood is made up of these messy moments, times where we’re doing the best we can. And as much as my kids need of me, I need me too.

What does self-care even mean, anyway?!

To me, self-care means practicing self-love. It means connecting with my self in a space that is free of outside distractions, and treating myself super well.

When I say self-care, I’m not talking about a full on day at the spa (although that would be amazing!).  I’m talking about finding small pockets of time to be alone with yourself and your thoughts. Time to focus on the habits that bring you a feeling of calm, healthfulness, and strength.  Sometimes that looks like eating standing up while your kids watch tv so you can catch your breath.

I can hear some of you thinking:

“That’s all well and good, but isn’t that a little selfish?”

“Self-care is totally indulgent.”

“Easy for you to say!”

“I don’t deserve it.”

Whew.  I hear you. In fact, I’ve said all of those things to myself!  But I would never ever say them to a friend. So, why are we so judgmental with ourselves?  Why don’t we deserve to treat ourselves well?

Listen to me when I say this: You cannot afford not to practice self-care.

Still not sure?  What if you replaced the word “self” with “health”?

Health-care isn’t selfish or indulgent or unnecessary.

This subtle shift in perspective really opened my mind to possibilities. Because healthcare isn’t selfish, it’s necessary!  I have to take care of myself to be around for my family and my business.

If you thought of self-care as a form of health care, what would it look like for you?


Over the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing a bit of my journey back to me. I’ll be exploring heath, self-care, parenting and making changes in my business.

I hope you’ll join me and share some of your thoughts along the way. Thank you for being here.

The Bliss {and Blisters} of Nursing a Toddler

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My son and I are breaking up.

Our breastfeeding relationship of 21 months is coming to an end.  This is something that seems to have happened gradually and then all of a sudden. Which means I feel both relieved and devastated at the same time.

We’ve been winding down for a couple of months now. I decided when he was about 18 months that we’d move into the “don’t offer/don’t refuse” phase of nursing. We naturally transitioned into an easy rhythm of nursing at bedtime and in the mornings, and occasionally during the day.

We fell into this easy rhythm, and it worked for a while.

And then he stopped asking as much. Or when he did ask to nurse, it would often be fitful and distracted.

Things are getting more and more physically uncomfortable when nursing my toddler. From finding a way to fit his long, energetic body onto my lap and into my arms, to his distracted nursing style.

As difficult as nursing a toddler can sometimes be, there are moments of pure bliss.

At bedtime, I ask him if he wants “num nums”, and a quick smile breaks across his round face. “Num num nums!” he agrees, ambling over to where I sit in the glider rocker. He quickly scrambles up onto my lap along with his soft red and blue blanket and a lovey so putrid and fragrant it has secretly earned the name Stinky Tofu.  He has a specific place for each of these things in our nursing setup: Blankie goes between his knees and up onto his stomach. Stinky Tofu gets draped over his shoulder and is purposefully clutched in one hand. His right arm shoots out between us, searching for the space between the side of my body and the chair. He likes to tuck it there, and it feels like he’s giving me a sweet little side hug.

Finally, we are ready to nurse.

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In the early days, breastfeeding was difficult for us. It had been long enough since my daughter nursed that I felt uncertain about how to hold his not-so-little head and how to help him latch on. His bottom lip seemed to be permanently sucked in under his upper jaw, making a wide open latch near impossible.

We spent what felt like hours working through the learning process together. My shoulders and wrists ached from holding him close for hours on ends. My skin was hot and tight under the pressure of all the new milk. And my poor nipples felt like they were permanently chapped.

But one day, it all clicked. His squirmy little newborn body found its place in my arms, the place where everything just worked. We fit together in only the way we could, filling in each other’s gaps and squishing together in an intimate embrace. His little noises, snuffly breathing and eager, regular swallows and sighs, became the soundtrack to my evenings and nights. It became a time I longed for, even when I was staggeringly tired or hotly frustrated or completely touched out. That moment we found our two selves melding into one and sighing into a familiar rhythm.

We fit together in only the way we could, filling in each other’s gaps and squishing together in an intimate embrace.

Now, as I feel the days of our breastfeeding winding down, and the frequency of those peaceful moments is less frequent, I cherish them all the more. Daily it seems I feel the hot sting of tears coming to my eyes when I watch him nurse. If I close my eyes and let my mind go quiet, it’s almost as if he’s a tiny newborn again.

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Two is still so little – hell, he’s not even really two yet, but I’m rounding up, trying to brace myself for the emotional blow when he does turn two.  He’s still so little in this big world, and yet he’s changing so very quickly.

At 21 months he is an incredibly active, sparkly-eyed little guy. He walks, jumps, runs, and climbs on everything. He is talking up a storm, and seems to be adding new words every single day. He likes to zoom toy trucks, buses, and tractors on any stationary surface. And the boy can eat.

On Halloween he went trick or treating for the first time. He walked up to the doors behind his big sister and confidently thrust his little fist into bowl after bowl of candy, choosing his favorite thing. Even though he didn’t really know what candy is, he quickly got into the routine of walking from house to house, anticipating the swift opening of a new door and the promise of a colorful treat.

In those moments I can see both the little boy he is becoming, and the baby he once was. That night he went to sleep without nursing, the stain of chocolate around his little lips.

I know that he’s doing everything he should be doing at this age, and more! And yet.The end of our nursing relationship signifies the ending of his babyhood. The thought of him not being this small forever makes my heart ache. I know how quickly these moments will pass, and I want to hold on so tightly.

We waiting so long and went through so much to have our kids. At this point we know there will not be any more babies. This is one of the reasons I want to hold on to these last nursing moments as long as possible.

Like so many moments in motherhood, this one is filled with complex and contradictory emotions.

At the end of a busy day, the nursing ritual is a touchstone for us. It’s a moment that all is still and quiet in the world, and we connect in such an intimate way. As this part of our journey winds down, I find myself knowing that we’ll find new touchstones and moments to connect. And I’m not going to lie: I am more than a little excited to have my boobs back.  Yet the idea of being finished breastfeeding is also a difficult one to wrap my head around.

How did your breastfeeding journey wrap up?  Any suggestions for new evening routines?


 

7 Months Later

Peaceful Baby turns a mature 7 months old today.

I love my daughter so wholly it’s shocking.  Her bright eyes and easy smile fill my heart to capacity, making me laugh and enabling me to see the world from a new perspective.

But there’s another side to all of that: being a parent is hard.

Motherhood is so much more complicated, challenging, rewarding, exhausting, and loving than I ever imagined.

When I was pregnant there was no shortage of comments from people about how life would never be the same. You  know the ones: enjoy ____ now because after you have the baby, forget about it.  I knew my life was about to change in unimagineable ways, and I felt up to the task.  The day to day challenges were expected: sleep interruptions, feeding, changing diapers, struggling to keep up with laundry, housework, trying to maintain a social life, or even a reasonably put together appearance.  But what I wasn’t prepared for was the realization that becoming a mother didn’t complete me as a person.

Take a moment. Breathe.  I had to.

Through all those months and years of struggling to conceive, I held firm to the belief that once I held this little being in my arms I would be awash in a sea of contentment and love.  Don’t get me wrong, I felt those things and more.  But once life with baby settled into a routine and I was able to see clearly again, I realized that it’s more complicated than that.

Who is satisfied by just one facet of their lives?  Are you solely contented by your career/family/spouse/art?  I think if we look honestly at ourselves, we can see that we are multifaceted and have needs that can only be filled with a rich variety of interests.  I was shocked to discover that having a baby didn’t complete me.  I still struggled with the same issues and concerns about my life as I had before becoming a mom.  This was upsetting, challenging, and painful, but after some thought, I realized it’s also okay.

I am a mother. I love my daughter.  But I am also a dynamic person who needs to find room in my life to explore and create, without the guilt that seems to be an inherent part of motherhood for many women.  Taking the time out of my day to knit, read, meet up with a friend, or even take a long shower doesn’t mean taking time away from my baby.  This time I create for myself within the day allows me to refill that little creative battery within me, and when fully charged I am a much more patient, engaged parent.

So, 7 months into this motherhood gig these are my thoughts.  Life will always be a work in progress, and I know that as quickly as PB changes and grows, so will my identity as a mama and as a woman.