A Love Letter to Yourself... Part Two

 
Love Letter Part Two
 

Did you sit down after reading last month’s post, all ready to write your love letter, and have a total brain fart ending up with no idea where to start?  This month in The Self-Care Series I'm going to give you some questions that are sure to jump-start your letter and get your self-love mojo running.

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Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are enough and you do enough. Your kids are happy and thriving because of you.

In your dark self-destructive moments, repeat this to yourself.

Lots of love and a nap,

Jess

 
 

A Love Letter to Yourself

 
write a love letter to yourself
 

Let's get a little deep and talk about how we treat ourselves. 

My family and I were on a long car ride, on our way to Monterey for the weekend. I was reading Danielle LaPorte's "White Hot Truth". Ya know, just trying to feed my soul while my kids were quiet. I came across this paragraph...

Underneath so much of our self-helping can be a lot of self-loathing. We create new obsessions to replace our old addictions. Of course a green smoothie is an immensely more nutritious choice than a soda pop. Exercise and meditation have far more enjoyable side effects than antidepressants. Practicing lovingkindness is perpetually awesome. But often, certainly more than we admit to ourselves, we’re stuck in a self-help Groundhog Day. “I’m not good enough yet, but I’ll get better. I’m getting better at bettering myself. Am I better yet?” And repeat.

What’s behind the compulsive drive to improve?... It seeps in from every photoshopped image telling you that you should be thinner, curvier (but only in the right places), whiter, browner, perfectly coiffed, and perpetually positive as you balance you workout time, your thriving career, and feed your well-behaved children non-genetically modified food - and if you’re not making time for all those things, well, you must not want it bad enough.
— Danielle LaPorte in "White Hot Truth"

I screamed, "Yes!!!"… scaring the crap out of my husband. As I read on I came to this question... 

Can you imagine not craving to be different than you are right now?"

It took my breath away because I couldn't. It was a heartbreaking thought, but I just couldn't imagine being content with being today's me. There was an endless list of "things wrong with me" floating around and I couldn't imagine how it would feel to be "fixed". 

I haven't "made it", yet, I'm not generous enough, I don't have enough patience, I haven't lost the 20 pounds I gained since the wedding, my pores are too big, my cellulite is out of control, I have serious Daddy issues, and I’m addicted to praise… probably because of those Daddy issues. 

We all want to improve. No one is perfect and life is all about growth. But those Ugh, I'm so sick of myself thoughts are so destructive! They take up residence in your brain and leave you constantly searching for the better you.

I have this amazing friend. I call her my Muse because after a Skype call with her my inspiration is at an all time crazy beautiful high and I have this inescapable itch to create. After confessing some of my inner judgey demons, she told me to write a love letter to myself. I was hesitant at first, but it really was a genius idea.

The first piece of the self-acceptance puzzle is to break the cycle of self-hate by taking a moment to recognize how freaking awesome you are. 

It would be great if we could be our own biggest cheerleader, but more often we act as our own worst critic. As my lovely friend put it…

We’re all guilty of spending so much of our time doubting ourselves, being critical of ourselves, thinking of all the things we did wrong. We are so harsh with ourselves and yet we turn around and are loving and nurturing and supportive for other people in our lives. Why then are we not more gentle with ourselves?

You won’t reach all of your goals today, or tomorrow, or in a year. So instead of dwelling in the “not done” let’s party where your best assets live. Sit in a quiet place, with a pen and paper, and write a love letter to yourself. Be an outsider peeking into your life and write what you love about yourself.

Criticism and negativity don’t belong here… only love and compassion.

Lots of love and a nap,

Jess

 

PS. If you want to dive deeper into the Self-Love pool, my spiritual crush, Danielle LaPorte, is speaking with 30 others at The Self-Acceptance Summit on Sept 11, 2017. You can register for the live broadcast at no cost HERE.

Your Hands...

Let’s kick off The Self-Care Series with a quick and relaxing routine to ease you into the idea of taking care of yourself. Look at your hands. Are they cracked and peeling with rough patches you didn’t even realize were there? Mom life is taxing and your hands take a beating. It may be time to show them some love. 

This routine may seem trivial, but spending 5 minutes pampering your hands can make a significant difference in how you feel, physically and emotionally. Imagine what could be born from 5 minutes of sitting quietly to focus on you.

My hands have seen better days. After working a long week as a nurse my hands are left peeling, red and irritated, burning every time I wash them.  The harsh cleansers and drying antibacterial foam in my hospital really take a toll. And a break in the skin is a portal for infection, so this self-care routine has a number of health benefits.

My personal advice is to schedule this short self-care routine when your kids are asleep or at school, so that you give yourself undivided, uninterrupted time and attention.

Let’s get started!

 
Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap
 

Step 1: Cleanse hands with Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile soap. I love this stuff and I use it for everything from face to fabric! It’s a gentle cleanser using only organic vegan ingredients, and is great for everyday use, but especially important when you have irritated skin. It cleanses the skin without drying it out, and the lavender essential oil helps to calm the irritation. Lavender oil has also been used to induce sleep and help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, so this packs a mean punch for Moms. I use this foaming dispenser because this liquid love is magic, and a little goes a long way!

 
shea moisture hibiscus hand scrub
 

Step 2: Scrub the dead skin away with Shea Moisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Hand & Body Scrub. This sugar scrub gently exfoliates while the Vitamin E and shea butter soothes dryness and acts as a barrier preventing further damage. Songyi Mushrooms will take care of those dark dry patches on your knuckles by evening your skin tone. Work the scrub into your palms, back of hands, and between fingers. Rinse to reveal smooth, soft, and hydrated paws.

 
CND solaroil
 

Step 3: Apply a small drop of cuticle oil to the bed of each nail and work into cuticles. I use Solar Oil. It's made with Jojoba oil and Vitamin E and will build stronger, healthier nails with repeated use. I also use this in the morning before heading out the door... Annie likes to help. :)

 
origins hand treatment
 

Step 4: Rub a dime sized amount of Origins Rejuvenating Hand treatment all over hands (and maybe on your elbows if you have a tad extra). Rose of Jericho, Trehalose, and Sea Haricots hydrate, while Ancient Oceanic Flora and Scutellaria Extract repair UV damage and even out skin tone. It's the perfect end to this routine. It's like dotting your i's and crossing your t's.

Step 5: Sit down with your feet up, a cup of hot tea, and a good book. Who am I kidding?! I have trashy TV to watch!

Sending you lots of love, and a nap. 

 

This is not a sponsored post, but does include affiliate links.

Your Summer Calendar

Children don't need more things. The best toys a child can have is a parent who gets down on the floor and plays with them.
- Bruce Perry

Yes, I know I talked about taking more time for you in our last post, but today we are talking about family time. Not time with just your kids... I know you have a ton of that.  I mean time as a family, getting off the couch, getting active, and getting dirty.

I have decided to make a conscious effort to spend more time as a family this summer. 

Normally, I work every other weekend... whine, groan. And on evening shift… whine, groan. We don't have much time together as the four of us. In fact we only have 4 full days a month.  That's it!! It's criminal really. There are even times I go 5 days without seeing my husband awake. This year I decided to turn those 4 measly days into 8 by using vacation on my working weekends.  YAY!! If you're a weekend/holiday worker you know how big this is. You get screwed, especially in the summer. You miss barbecues, weddings, and all the family time that makes you smile.

I needed to take full advantage of this time, so here's our plan.

For us, summer planning usually means having conversations here and there with the hubby about what we would like to do, but we don't usually do anything. This year I took some advice from the little voice in my head (don’t act like you don’t know which one I’m talking about) and put our plans on a schedule... it's set in stone, with wiggle room, of course. We have toddlers and they don't comply with schedules, rules, or anything else that would make life easier.

We have a saying in the nursing profession, "If it's not charted, it wasn't done." Scheduling activities, actually putting pen to paper, has much the same affect... well, at least for me, but you may not be a part of the Anal Annie Club.  If you are, you know the pleasure of crossing off tasks on to do lists, labeling mason jars in your pantry, and having all of your pictures labeled by month and year.  Not that I do any of these things... wink wink. If you're not a Type A person, join us... see if the shoe fits. 

Schedule a family meeting with your kids, and plan your summer.

My Annie is at that age where she wants to be involved in everything, especially decision making. So when I told her we were going to sit down and plan our summer trips and activities, she pulled up a chair and even supplied her own pen to help fill out the calendar. Don't worry... 

I've made a handy dandy Summer Calendar just for you! You're welcome! You can download it here.

 
2016 Summer Calendar
 

This is what we wrote on our Summer Calendar...

  • The days I work.
  • Doctor’s and dentist appointments.
  • Birthdays, holidays, and any other special event.
  • Trips to our family cabin. This is our favorite summer activity, so it gets high priority.
  • When Joseph and I would be out of town. The girls will have a sleepover at Grandma's... to which Annie screamed, "Yeah!!! I'm so excited! Best day EVER!"
  • Annie's last and first day of preschool. 
  • When we start sowing seeds indoors. We are pretty passionate about our veggie garden, so we like to plan for success. We’ll get more into gardening with your kids on another post.
 
Summer Activities
 

Need some help filling up your calendar?

  • Talk to friends and family about what they like to do with their kids... free and paid activities. I get a lot of ideas from friends at work who also struggle with an awkward work schedule.
  • Check out your local Park and Rec program. They have great programs and events for kids of all ages!
  • Have a picnic in your backyard, or at a local park. This is a big one in my family! My kids are easily entertained, so a simple blanket on the grass is equal to a grand outing to an exotic place.  Big win for Momma!
  • Get away with your kids. We visit our family cabin in Oroville at least a couple times a summer. No TV, no cell phone reception, and lots of board games. The kids (and dog) play outside all day! By 7 they are exhausted, and Hubby and I can relax listening to the sounds of the mountains.
  • Go to your local lake/river, and have some fun in the sun... bathed in sunscreen, of course.
  • Visit your local Farmer's market. Fun and you get some grocery shopping done at the same time. Multitasking is a Mom's best friend.
  • Go see a movie. When it gets above 110 degrees out here, we hide indoors. Pack some yummy treats, and the kids will hopefully be entertained for an hour and a half. A drive in movie would be a great idea too!
  • Go to a splash park. They are usually safer than a water park, which is way too overwhelming for me. You could achieve the same effect by turning on the sprinklers at your house, but who wants to run up your own water bill? Although it's a good option in a pinch.
  • Bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Quick and easy in a pinch, and pretty much a daily occurrence around our house.
  • Search Pinterest!! You know you've already done it...
  • Drop them off at their Grandparent's house and escape to the Bahamas... that probably won't happen, but a girl can dream. I guess it really wouldn’t comply with the whole “family time” concept, though, would it?
 
Pool games
 

By the way, this genius flotation device can be found at Costco... because everything awesome can usually be found at Costco.

Comment below with your summer plans and how you'll use your Summer Calendar... I'm always looking for new ideas to entertain my kids, and I have a feeling you are to.

Savor the sun, the rain is right around the corner.

Sending you lots of love, and a nap.

When Motherhood Isn’t Enough

God gave those little children to you, Mama -- to you.
No one else can mother them like you can.
You may have your work cut out for you, 
but you're the one cut out to accomplish it.

-Erin Odom

You have beautiful babies at home, and they are everything. You might have even fought to have them, like I did, enduring month after month of painful treatments, side effects from fertility meds, and every heartbreak of a negative pregnancy test. 

But now you finally have your baby, and it has been such a beautiful experience watching her grow. Watching his personalities develop, and her curiosities expand, has been awe-inspiring. Guess what? 

It's ok to want more. 

I hid my depression for a long time. I didn't know what caused it, I didn't know how to fix it, and I thought one day it would magically disappear. Not only did it not go away, but it affected my job as a wife, mother, and friend. I lost myself in motherhood. My entire life consisted of taking care of babies and running a household. Oh, and a day job - well, actually an evening job, which made for a LONG day.

I was exhausted and unfulfilled, and I felt so ashamed. 

I fought to have my kids. We went through 2 years of infertility, a miscarriage, and finally welcomed our sweet Annie. I thought all my other needs would go away. I thought all I needed was her... just to be her mom. I thought it would be easy... well, not easy, but I took care of babies for a living for God's sake!! Taking care of one baby should've been a cinch, right? WRONG!!

I was not prepared to be a Mom.

Sure, I knew how to take care of her, but I wasn't ready for how much she needed me, and I really wasn't ready for how much I was giving up. I'm not talking about Girl's Night Out, or impromptu trips to Vegas... going out really didn't interest me. The complete loss of "Me Time" was so hard. Sitting quietly and crocheting a blanket for a friend, running errands without having to rush back to breastfeed, taking a shower before 5pm...

I didn't talk to anyone about how much I was struggling. 

I was terrified of being judged, and being labeled a bad mother. That fear crippled me, and deep down I really thought I was a bad mother for not sacrificing everything for Ann, for wanting time away from her, and for not being happy. 

I didn't realize these feelings were all normal pains of motherhood...  I wasn't alone.

When was the last time you sat down with a close friend and talked honestly about motherhood? I'm not talking about joking about how your kid pooped in the tub. I'm talking about being really honest about how you're coping and sharing your deepest thoughts (the ones you're terrified to say out loud). 

If it's been awhile since you had a heart-to-heart with a friend, schedule a coffee date now! Without your kids in tow, of course. Side note: A close friend will listen, but a close friend with kids can truly relate. You two are sisters in arms, battling the same fears and you can learn so much from each other. The main lesson?

You are not alone so don't suffer in silence!

Most moms are plagued with the same guilt and shame, and yet they are still awesome moms. You can have deep fears, fight to keep up with your kid's demands, and still be a great mom. The key is to be honest about how you're feeling, share them, and be gentle with yourself above all else. Self-deprecating thoughts have no place here! They only foster more negativity, and no forward movement!

So where do we go from here? 

Now that you know nearly every parents experiences overwhelm, how are you going to lessen these feelings (because, let's be honest, they'll never go away)? How do you create more happiness in your life? The answers lies in the blog posts to come. Every couple weeks I will give you tools to help combat parenthood stress and find what YOU want from your life. I will share my own very honest stories, and what has helped me get through some difficult times.  I will also provide you with opportunities to truly bond with your kids (and partner).  I'm a mini Martha Stewart at heart, with a love of quilting, crafting, and cooking, and I will share how all of my projects help me bond with my girls. If crafting isn't your style, let's find something else you love that you can share with your family. 

Are you a preemie parent?

I've got you covered!  I'm a NICU nurse with over 10 years of experience and I've got tons of advice!  I've worked with hundreds of family and would love to add you to that list! I run an online shop, and most of my products are tweaked so they will work for any baby... whether they are in or out of the NICU.  We have adorable custom crib bedding that is completely adjustable! These fitted sheets fit your crib mattress at home, and any shape/size mattress in the NICU. Our NICU journals just launched last month and they are my pride a joy!! I hope you'll visit our shop and take a look around!

My goal is to be your safe place.

I want you to stop comparing yourself to unrealistic parenting "role models"... they all lose it behind closed doors, stop judging yourself, and enjoy being a wife and mother. There is so much joy to be had and I want to help you find it. Every couple weeks I want you to grab a cup of coffee (or tea!), visit me here, and chat. Don't censor yourself, don't worry what other people will think about what you say, just tell me what's going on.

If you don't want to miss a thing, sign up for our newsletter on the sidebar!

I'll send you a short and sweet note when the new blog post is up. You may get a couple more here and there when I have something special to tell you, or if I feel like I need to reach out and offer a little love and encouragement. When you read an email from me I want you to feel inspired to find joy in her life, motivated to bond with her family, and supported by me and the community we build here. 

Here's your chance! Comment below and tell me what you're struggling with? How do you cope? Tell me your biggest challenge, and your greatest triumph. If you don't feel comfortable sharing in the comment section, email me.

Sending you lots of love, and a nap.