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?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Yoga Sequence for March 2016

One of the things I have struggled with since having Alex is finding a way to get in some daily self care. It's super important for me to do something to refresh and re-energize because dealing with a strong willed child like Ellie and having a newborn wears me down quickly. I recently won a yoga mat from Wendie at PantryDr (you should totally follow her because she's awesome) and for whatever reason, even though I have 2 very nice yoga mats already, it's inspired me to get back to a practice. That practice is probably going to be about 15 minutes a day, total, for now. That's just where I am in life. I have a lot of mom friends though, and I thought maybe I could blog a little practice that we could all work on weekly. Since I'm not able to teach any yoga right now, I can at least help guide anyone who can't get to their own class.

Beginning Warm Up

5 minutes of yogic breathing - Max Strom talks about this a lot so start every practice with this. If this is all you get done that day, it's 100 times better than any other movement you can do

(also, you should read a Life Worth Breathing if you get a chance - not in this practice but just a side note)

5 rounds of cat/cow
downward facing dog for 3 breathes, bicycle your heels to stretch out calves
repeat this 3 times

from table top position, place your right foot in between your hands and push your hips forward to stretch your hip flexors (don't raise your arms for this, just place them on your knee or on the floor, keeping your chest open)
step back into down dog and hold for 3 breathes
return to table top and then do the opposite leg
repeat so that you complete twice on each leg

come to a standing position
do 3 rounds of Sun Salutation A

Sit in a yogi squat for 5 breathes

sit in a Lotus position, half lotus, or sukhasana
twist to the right
twist to the left

finish your practice with breath work and at least 5 minutes of meditation

Let me know your thoughts!!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016


One of the things I've noticed in the past couple of months is that Ellie has become more defiant and I have been yelling a lot more. I hate when I get like that and I know that's not really the relationship that I want with my children.

Parenting is hard. It's really hard. My children have been my biggest teachers in terms of me healing any old wounds that still linger around inside. Ellie is a little reflection of myself as a child and she has many, MANY characteristics that I have. I often find myself getting mad at her and reacting to her "misbehaving" with the same behavior. If she's losing her temper quickly and overreacting to a situation, I lose my temper and overreact. I know that the things that trigger us the most in others is what needs healing within ourselves, and wow is that even more true with our children. I have been feeling that my temper has been getting out of hand and so I started to read this book by Dr Laura Markham. I know about her through her newsletter, blog and Facebook page so I already try to do some of the things she suggests. 

The interesting thing is the entire first chapter is focused on exactly what I said above. When something our children doing is triggering us, it's a need for healing within ourselves. We must figure out what that is, and fix it. The other thing it says is that self care is a must. I think that is my first issue. I suffer from trying to be the perfect mom that is always there for my kids and in reality, I am doing myself and my kids an injustice. I am realizing that I am super tired and I need a break every now and again. I also realize that much of me getting mad at Ellie is fear of what others think and fear. I have fear that she won't fit in (my own issue), fear that she'll be lazy (what others think), fear that she'll be out of control (my own issue), and really, I could go on. When I let go all of that stuff that I've created in my head and just focus on being present, I can respond with love, in a calm manner. It doesn't mean that Ellie is going to start acting perfectly, because she's a toddler, but it means that hopefully, I can be more patient and loving with my guidance. It's also, hopefully, a lot of work upfront so that I can keep a strong connection through those teenage years when she's going to want to rebel. 

I don't know if it's a southern thing or a generational thing, but I feel like we parents are expected to get those kids to "shape up" without any thoughts of the lasting effects on them. We're supposed to teach them about tough love and how to mind. You see all of these articles about how this next generation of kids growing up are lazy, worthless, blah blah blah. After being a head hunter for more than 9 years, I encountered all KINDS of people, and let me tell you, laziness is not specific to this generation. I know in my head and heart that I do not believe in that type of parenting, but ya know, when Ellie is throwing a tantrum in public, that fear rears it's ugly head, the doubt that maybe I'm wrong and all those people are right. It's scary. More than anything, I want her to be a loving, kind, generous, respectful, hardworking adult who's curious about life and not afraid to take risks. I don't actually know if the path I'm taking as a parent is what's going to lead her in that direction, but I have hope. And it's different. It's different than what our culture believes is right. So it's even scarier because not only do I have my own doubts as a parent, I have the doubts of everyone around me, judging me, telling me that what I'm doing is wrong and I need to get that gal into shape. (No one actually says that to me, but it's in Facebook memes, articles, comment sections). Luckily, I've never been afraid to be different and I have books that guide me and make me feel good about my choices. 

It's hard being a parent. It's the biggest challenge I've ever had to face because I can't run away when the going gets tough. And I want to be perfect at it because I don't want to screw my children up. But, I'm human and I'm not perfect. My kids each too much sugar, they have too much screen time, I yell too much, all of that. I do think that I'm doing some things right though, and I think that in the end, I just have to keep trying to do better and be better. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

52 Week Photo Challenge and Update

I've been feeling the tug to blog over here again recently. I haven't been on here for a LONG time because I have been focused on kids and really, trying to figure out what it is that I even want to do. I've decided to start a business, E and A Style, as well as a fashion blog to help promote that business. You should follow me!!

That blog is focused solely on fashion, beauty, and home and I have been wanting to just write about my experience as a mom, show some of y photography as I learn, etc. I'm participating in a 52 week photo challenge with Clickin Moms and it's been fun. I'm meeting new people (online anyway) and learning more about photography which has been a nice creative outlet for me as I"m deep in the throws of motherhood.

Finding the Light

This week, the prompt was "Finding the Light". I chose this photo for a couple of reasons. One is that you can see how the light is hitting her on the side of the face, lighting her up. I love to take photos where there is a sharp contrast in light and then converting it to black and white. I think it's interesting to show the variations between the two colors and display a lot of tones using only that palette. The second reason is that I feel like Ellie has been a light for me. Before her, I really struggled with purpose and meaning in my life. I felt as though I had become stagnant in a number of areas, mainly because I was comfortable where I was and too afraid to make a change. After Ellie, my priorities were challenged and I have been forced to slow down. She has challenged me to look at who I am and make changes that I otherwise wouldn't make. It's actually been a somewhat painful process and it's still painful, not because she is bad, but because my own defects of character have become QUITE APPARENT. There is really no hiding from my lack of patience, my quickness to anger, my discomfort with being uncomfortable, my fight or flight response. I am like a grown up toddler. But I don't want to screw her and Alex up, so here I am, learning to be better and learning to love myself in the process too.

I think I really love black and white photography because I used to be a black and white person. I believed there was right, and there was wrong, and there were no exceptions. It was either this way or that way. I've come to realize through motherhood that the gray area is so huge and that the solution can actually be a lot of things. This has been clear to me in many situations in my life and motherhood has been no exception. As always, I'm the different mom who has to do things the hard way, but I feel strongly in the choices I make for Ellie even when they seem crazy to everyone else. She's a challenge, and I think she needs to be nurtured in a way that is different than others. I may be wrong, but I have to go with my intuition and while that is scary because I could be completely wrong, it's just what I feel like I need to do. I'm grateful for the gray area because that's where I need to live.

p.s. if you want to see the first 6 weeks, follow me on Instagram