DO IT FOR YOU!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Here we are, embarking on another new year full of opportunities for adventure.

ADVENTURE

Adventure, like life, is different for everyone. One person’s adventure could be to finish high school and move on to a new adventure in college. Another person’s adventure could be to run a marathon. Another person’s adventure could be to start a new business. Yet another person’s adventure could be to make it through chemotherapy and into remission. Each of these adventures has a “big” goal in the end but in order to be truly successful you have to meet “little” goals along the way. You can’t finish high school if you don’t focus on mastering each individual class along the way. In addition to mastering these classes you have to meet the goal of discerning what it is you want to do in college and now meet the goals or prerequisites the college has to enter a specific program. There is also the requirement of money to go to college; maybe a job will help you meet this requirement, looking into loans or scholarships, then meeting the requirements for these things. My point here is that each “big” goal can be broken down into steps to achieve “little” goals along the way.

UNIQUE & THE SAME

Every person is different with unique goals in life. One thing remains true across all of these different adventures and goals. In order to succeed you have to put yourself first! You have to be your own number one priority. Some people feel that putting yourself first is in some way selfish. That was something I had to “unlearn.”  Being of service to others is beautiful and can be as rewarding for you as it is for the person you are helping. BUT, if you don’t make your own self your number one priority, then you won’t have enough left TO be of service to others.

PUT YOU FIRST

This concept is so simple, yet is easily pushed aside when life gets busy. Whether pushed aside for children, a spouse or significant other, parents/family, work, friends, etc, you can’t truly be of service to anyone else unless you care for yourself first.

Having children is a prime example of when this often happens. Whether you are taking care of a new little baby, a toddler, an adolescent or a teenager, they all need love, nurturing, guidance and support. These acts in and of themselves are necessary and bring joy to you and to the child. However, if you lose sight of keeping yourself as a priority, this becomes a daunting chore at times. 

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

We are at the beginning of a new year and this is when many new year resolutions are made. I personally think this concept is beautiful; a time to examine your life and discern what needs and wants take priority in your life. The problem for many is that these resolutions are sometimes made without a realistic plan and without kindness and caring at the core. This may lead to “failed” resolutions and a sense of failure overall. 

LOVE, KINDNESS, RESPECT

We should treat ourselves with at least as much love, kindness and respect as we show other people in our lives. We tend to get frustrated with ourselves for so many things in life: weight loss, exercise, an injury that occurs from overtraining, or a business prospect that doesn’t play out the way we had hoped. Imagine these things happened to your best friend, spouse or child. If they came to you with their frustration you would most likely listen and offer support, guidance and encouragement. We can, and should, allow ourselves the same love and care.

Consider making a commitment to YOU this year with kindness and compassion at the forefront of any goals you may want to achieve. Take time for self care! 

BODY

Change your perspective on exercise & movement. It is a great feeling when you get that endorphin release from a great workout, but not everyday has to be a strenuous workout to be great or to achieve your goal. Consider making a “little” goal to move your body EVERY DAY! This may be a walk around the block or another day with the sun shining on your face, you feel motivated to walk farther. Or one day it is a walk with a friend and you feel like you could walk forever, just enjoying their company. From there you can always make your plan for incorporating yoga or weight training or running or any other type of exercise that you enjoy. This creates a habit over time for you to simply move your body EVERY DAY! Carving out that time, whether it ends up being 10 minutes or 2 hours, creates a space in your day dedicated to you and your body. Meeting these “little” goals makes it possible for you to achieve the “bigger” goal of weight loss or a race of some sort.

MIND

Another great daily goal is setting aside time to create or to learn. This, again, can be just 10-15 minutes every day to read or doodle or write or paint or even to clean up a flower bed in your yard. You are worth that 10-15 minutes everyday and often once you get started, you will find that you want to “gift” yourself even more time. This habit can be helpful to achieve your larger goals of finishing a book, or writing a book, completing a course or finishing any type of project you can imagine.

SPIRIT

The third area that is vital for overall well being is giving yourself time for spiritual self care. Exercise seems to be one of the most popular goals for setting this time of year, but nurturing your spirit is equally as important. Give yourself time to meditate, pray, journal, write morning pages or anything else that allows you to go inside yourself. You are definitely worth claiming that 10-15 minutes each day for you to just be with you. You will be amazed at how meeting these “little” goals will positively impact your entire life and your overall wellbeing.

NURTURING WITH NUTRIENTS – PERSPECTIVE WITH KINDNESS

Of course nurturing your body with life giving nutrients is so important to provide you with energy to devote to the care of you. Making huge dietary changes can be rewarding and exciting, but sometimes adding a simple change each week, or every 2 weeks,  can be more sustainable. 

This is a great area to change your perspective on what you are putting in your body. Commit to focusing on putting only healthy nutritious food into your body. If you are tempted to put something in your body that you know is not healthy, examine the “why.” Is this food bringing you comfort? Is there another way you can comfort yourself without using that particular food? If you do decide to eat the comfort food anyway, acknowledge that you are not consuming it for its nutritious value but for comfort or for escape. Allow yourself to feel the comfort it provides and write it down in a journal. This can be very helpful in uncovering other ways you can nurture and comfort yourself. These eating habits could have been instilled from childhood or maybe something you incorporated knowingly or unknowingly later in life. You can look back at these journal entries every week or every month and see if you notice a pattern; it may allow you to take a deeper look at how you can self soothe and love yourself in other ways; going for a quick walk, calling a friend, sitting or lying in meditation, letting yourself feel the emotion that is coming up and cry or laugh or let it out in some way, rather than soothing the feeling with food. This can be a learning experience rather than a reason to be frustrated and upset with yourself.

For example, week one you decide to cut out gluten and focus on all of the other delicious food you are able to enjoy. Week 2 you cut out dairy and explore recipes that are new and exciting and teach you new ways to prepare food for yourself and your family. Week 3 you make a commitment to cut out sugar, and so on. When done with love and compassion at the core, this can be a wonderful way to instill lifelong changes to your diet without focusing on the deprivation. Maybe there is a time that you find yourself wanting a particular food, maybe it is to have some french fries when you are out for dinner with a friend. You could choose to order a salad or sauteed vegetables instead, knowing this is a healthier choice, or you could choose to order the fries on occasion, knowing they are not nourishing your body. Notice if they make you truly happy and if they cause any immediate or delayed effects on your body. If they make you happy, then enjoy them knowing they are bringing you happiness and comfort in the moment. They are not nurturing your body but perhaps they are nurturing your spirit. Let go of any guilt. If the guilt persists, explore why this is the case. Next time you have that choice you may just choose differently.

CHOOSE YOU

Choose you! Make yourself your number one priority this year; nurture your body, mind and spirit and enjoy everything life has to offer you.

Happy New Year!!!


PARENTING: GAINING CONTROL & LETTING GO

NO INSTRUCTION MANUAL

Parenting brings with it with many joys and many challenges. If only our children came with an instruction manual; maybe this would make navigating this parenting journey a little easier.

CONTROL IS COMFORT

What a beautiful experience to find out you are pregnant, and maybe sometimes this news comes as a bit of a shock and you need a little time to process the information. Then you feel the need to gain control over the situation. Control gives us a sense of security, false security most of the time, but that sense of security brings comfort.

LETTING GO IS UNCOMFORTABLE

Life has a way of teaching us that God is in charge and when we allow Him to do His work, life flows easily. The difficulty that most of us have with this is that letting go of our perceived control is unsettling and takes away our feeling of comfort.

RESPONSIBILITY AND FEAR

When that new little baby is placed into your arms for the first time it is breath taking! Joy and fear all rolled into one big beautiful emotion. You have to take control and do what is best for this beautiful tiny human being. It is your responsibility to nourish this baby, keep her safe, keep her comfortable and make her feel loved. Of Course! You’ve got this! And then you take this beautiful baby home and she cries. You feed her, yet she still cries. You change her diaper, but she is still crying. You put her into her crib to sleep, but the crying doesn’t stop. You cuddle and rock her and finally, the crying fades away and she falls asleep.

FEELING OUT OF CONTROL

Control begins to feel out of reach. Parenting is a mixture of trial and success and trial and error. You turn to family and friends who have experience. You turn to books and experts for advice. Some of this helps and some of the concepts just seem foreign. You seek to gain back control the situation. You want to keep this precious little baby nourished, comfortable, safe and feeling loved.

TURNING TO OTHERS TO GAIN CONTROL

Did you read all of the books? The books on making baby food, on the best foods to feed your baby and when, on helping your baby sleep, on how to interact with your baby and help them learn. Most of these books are read BEFORE baby arrives. This adds to your sense of control. It is a good feeling to have this knowledge and feel like you can do this.

LOVE IS REAL, CONTROL IS ILLUSION

Once my baby arrived, my breath was taken away and I was fiercely in love. I knew at that moment I would do anything to help this precious little child in any way possible. I also quickly learned that this control I thought I had was a bit of an illusion.

KNOWLEDGEABLE BUT STILL UNPREPARED

With all of the knowledge I had learned from those books, and from talking to family and friends, I was nowhere near prepared for raising this child. Breastfeeding was hard. How could this be? I looked forward to breastfeeding my baby and pictured it being a beautiful experience. I sought out the advice of my mom, my aunts, my friends, and my new lactation consultant. I drank water like I was supposed to. I practiced relaxation before breastfeeding in hopes of better results. I took the recommended supplements and added the recommended nutrition. I pumped my breast milk and fed it to my baby with a tiny syringe. This went on for a few months. She was losing weight and the pediatrician was testing for metabolic syndrome and looking for anything else that would explain her failure to thrive. I was simply not making enough milk, it was that simple. I chalked it up as failure number one on my parenting journey. I needed to get back on track and gain control once again. I needed to keep my baby safe and find nourishment for her. I moved forward and found a formula that she tolerated; and began to let go of the guilt I was experiencing around not being successful at breastfeeding.

LETTING GO IS INEVITABLE

There were many of these trials throughout the years with raising my two children. There were times when I knew best, or at least I thought I did, until another lesson was learned. I implemented lessons I grew up with as a child. I made my daughter finish her dinner before being allowed to leave the table or getting dessert, until she threw up on her plate, enter pivot number two. I still provided healthy choices to my children but began to relinquish control over how much they would have to eat.

CHOICES AND SELF-ACCOUNTABILITY

I would encourage each of the girls to try new activities. I wanted to provide them with as many experiences as I could. I would always tell them it was their choice but once they committed to doing something they had to see it through. Then came the extreme heat in August, one year, when they were playing softball. They were scolding me from the outfield for making them play this horrible sport in this heat. This criticism I took in and processed. I stopped pushing as hard to get them to make the choice I wanted. I would offer the choices and simply remind them of their experience from the previous year. The accountability of their choices began to shift to them.

TRUST AND LETTING GO

Fast forward to the tween and teenage years, which we are just wrapping up. They developed new friendships. Of course I was thrilled that they were making new friends but I didn’t know the parents or anything about these new friends. They would introduce me to boyfriends, “God, please help me navigate this new experience” was (and is) my daily prayer. “Trust and relinquish control,” has become my mantra. It is a daily navigation of control and letting go.

LOVE HELPS YOU LET GO

Then my oldest daughter was off to college. I was thrilled to see her happy and realized she needed to experience the joy and the trials in her own life, but I still craved the control to protect her. When I tried to exert control, we could not get along and this broke my heart. I have realized that I would rather trust and relinquish control than to control and risk damaging our relationship. My youngest will be off on her next journey soon and hopefully these valuable lessons will assist me to help her have an easier transition to this next step of life. I love these girls with all my being and I want to see them thrive.

FINDING BALANCE

As I reflect on my (almost) 20 years as a mom, I can now see the common theme of “taking control” and “letting go.” As parents, we have to choose to take responsibility for the precious human beings entrusted to us. This is the noble reason we seek to gain control over any and every situation that presents itself. As life ebbs and flows, we are shown when to let go of that control, when we resist letting go, the turmoil begins and we are forced to let go or suffer the consequences.

TRUST

I have only realized this in hindsight, the way many of the important lessons of life are realized. Sometimes I did a great job of letting go and allowing my girls their autonomy. Other times, I resisted letting go of my control and have had to navigate the consequences. The irony of it is that I resisted even more, as the girls got older. Shouldn’t the lesson get easier as you gain experience? Maybe this was because the responsibilities and the consequences grew, as they got older. I didn’t want to see them fail and have to face these consequences. It’s hard to trust that I did a good job teaching them right from wrong, teaching them empathy and kindness, teaching them responsibility and accountability. This is where I remind myself to lean on and trust God. I have been given the privilege of raising two beautiful human beings and I jumped in and embraced this journey of motherhood with the whole of my being. I have learned many lessons and I am still learning. Now, I have to let go and trust these girls to make their own choices and to accept their own consequences. I will be there for them to lend a hand, to offer a comforting hug or to help in any way I am able, when I am needed.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Children are not given to us to keep or to control. They are entrusted to us to love and to teach. We all crave love, to give love and to be loved unconditionally. Life is a journey, full of lessons. Strive to love and learn and to be better than yesterday.