Monday, October 24, 2016

Accepting All of Me

Being a mother has been a very eye opening experience for me. Not necessarily because of my kids and what being a mother actually entails, although that is part of it, but more seeing myself and all of my flaws right there in front of me. I see my flaws in how I react to difficult time with the kids. I see my flaws with two little mini me's running around doing and saying everything I do. And then, I see my flaws in things I don't do. I am one to preach "love yourself exactly as you are", "God gives us free, unmerited grace, and so we should do that too", and all the lip service of loving oneself in spite of our defects of character. Let's do a whole yoga class dedicated to accepting ourselves, let's read a thousand books about self love and what that means, learn to love others as you love yourself, but when faced with the reality of myself, whew, it's super hard to actually accept that. 

When I talk about defects of character, I'm talking about that really ugly side of yourself that you don't want to show to anyone. I'm talking about the stuff that really causes shame and embarrassment.  In all honesty, I can't even give examples because the parts I'm seeing in myself, I ain't telling you!!! THAT'S the part of you that you're supposed to love, forgive, and accept. Wow, is that a tall order. I think the challenge I have when trying to love myself is the idea that forgiving and loving that part of myself somehow excuses it. If I don't shame, scold, punish myself for my shortcomings, then will they stop? Will I change? How will I be better? I have no answer for that question. I'm still trying to figure that part out myself. I think there is a fine line between loving all of me and permitting myself to be an asshole. So, what do I do? 

What do I do?

Maybe the answer is I do both. I accept and love myself and all of my flaws, even those super embarrassing, I will never tell the average reader flaws. And then maybe I also try to change. Maybe I love myself knowing that I am human and I am imperfect but I also do THINGS to make myself better. I wake up each day and say, you know what, yesterday was super terrible, I yelled too much at my kids, I ate too many hershey's kisses, I punched that guy in the face (insert horrible behavior), but today, I'm going to try to do better. 

Things to make myself better:

1. Prayer and Meditation - listen, this is going to look differently for everyone. I'm not here to help you find your spiritual path, you have to find that for yourself. I CAN tell you in a general way that by getting quiet daily and asking for guidance is going to be the first step in being better at anything. This week has been terrible for me in terms of some behaviors I don't like as a parent and you know what I haven't done in two weeks? I haven't done my morning prayer and meditation. 

2. Find an activity that makes you happy - for me it's yoga, it's photography, and it's meeting with other moms. It's helping people too. It's investing in myself in whatever way that means; a pedicure, a massage, a local coffee shop coffee, some blush, whatever 

3. A cleansing of your wounds - I think it's very beneficial to write out your life story, everything you remember, and then telling it to a trusted person. Then, burn that sucker and let it all go. When we hold things in, it gets distorted and ugly and warps into this monster with all kinds of ancillary wounds so the only way to control the beast is to get it out. For whatever reason, words in my head sound so different than words coming out of my mouth. 

4. Read - reading self help books is really good for the soul. Reading fiction books are too, but every once in a while, throw in some good old Marianne Williamson, Brene Brown, Max Strom, Melody Beattie. Just do it. 

5. Travel - Seeing other places really keeps me open minded and humble. Watching what others do and how they do it shows us that our way is not the only way. And that's a good thing because when we all appreciate our differences and work together, the world becomes magical

I really wish I was perfect, or at least, my defects were a little less defect-y, ya' know? Since they're not, I have to practice what I preach and actually do the work. Like Kino MacGregor (my favorite yoga teacher) says, "remain humble, do the work, and don't covet the results". 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

5 Tips for Self Care for the New Mom

I feel like I can breathe again now that Alex is walking. Don't get me wrong, it still feels really hard at times, especially when both of the kids are hanging off of my neck, crying because they want me all to themselves, BUT for whatever reason, the first year feels so heavy to me. I'm not sure if I feel less fear, less inadequate, less committed, less whatever, but once that first year ends, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I am finally free to start taking care of me.

My biggest challenge as a mother has been finding time for myself, and I know that I've blogged about that many times before. First, I really am not a fan of asking for help. I have family in town but would rather not burden them. I have yet to hire a babysitter and I realize that people use them all the time, I have been hesitant for many reasons. Second, there are so many things I want to do like go to yoga, read, write, learn to paint, take pictures, etc and yet, when I get the time to do something, my mind goes blank. I can't remember what it is I want to do and so I just don't. Weird, I know, but it's my reality. Third, dare I say that I probably don't always feel worthy. I'm not sure why I take on this martyr role in life where I must be suffering in order to be worthy, but I do struggle with allowing myself the time for pleasure. Even before kids, I was always struggling with what I should or shouldn't be eating, what I should or shouldn't be doing in the gym, what I should or shouldn't be doing as a volunteer, ugh... Is that a woman thing? I say that because I feel like so many women are always afraid of allowing themselves pleasure. Where did we learn that being happy was a sin?

You know what happens though? I end up being a mean mom. I lose patience easily, I yell, I walk around the house like a grumpy person, so am I really doing my kids any good? That's why I've been trying to do more things and now that Alex is older, I feel a little better about it doing them. I've been going to a regular yoga class. I've been running again. I've been reading more. I even painted my nails the other day. I have begun to feel like the old me. I'm still breastfeeding, but it's not his only source of nutrition so I can take a little longer at the grocery store (when I don't have them). Whew.

Having said all of that, I thought I'd give a little advice to any new moms on how to take care of yourself, even when your baby is new.

1. Take a bubble bath

Obviously, you'll need your husband/mom/mother in law or nap time to do this. Something about touch is really soothing and you can add some lavender to help calm yourself as well. You could even do this after getting baby to bed.

2. Drink some coffee and read the paper or a book. 

Again, this is probably going to be a nap time thing. The good news about little babies is they sleep a lot. The bad news, they do it in short intervals. Plan this out so that you can get everything going right  away and take every single sleepy minute of it.

3. Prayer, journaling, meditation

No matter your religious affiliation, you can sit down, read an uplifting meditation book, write down your thoughts about it, and take 5 minutes of silence to do that, be silent. This is one of those things that won't have immediate results but will benefit more from doing it every day. Some meditation books I suggest are:

Jesus Calling
52 Weeks of Conscious Contact
Daily Meditations for Practicing The Course In Miracles
Peace a Day at a Time
A Woman's Spirit

4. 10 minute yoga sequence

Yoga Download is a great source for free 20 minute yoga sequences. Or you could simply do a couple of Sun Salutations.

5. Go for a walk

Put that baby in a stroller and walk outside. Connecting with nature is calming and it also helps root you in the present moment.

Do any of you experience moms have any other suggestions?