A tribute to preschool wisdom

My family recently relocated with the military (more on that adventure here if you missed it) which means all of our young children went through the sometimes scary and always eventful process of beginning new schools and making new friends in a new place.

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Recently, while driving through our new town to my youngest son’s new preschool, I asked him to tell me a bit about his new friends in class. We discussed his peers in the true little-boy fashion I have come to know and love, which includes standard points like their names, what activities they do together, but also (and more importantly) what superheroes they like, what ninja moves they can do, and the fantastical tales they share about pirates, dinosaurs, outer space, and legos (all of which I’m certain I still don’t completely understand).IMG_6534

But what I found most interesting was his response when I asked him about one boy in particular that he mentioned playing with a lot, even garnering him with his “best buddy” status (which this kid doesn’t throw around lightly, believe. you. me.). Being the nosy mother I apparently am, I asked him what the little boy looked like. Not because it matters at all really, but because for some reason I wanted to see if I could find my son’s new “best buddy” in the class picture, or spot him on the story carpet at drop off. I don’t really know why, I think I was just excited that my little guy had a new friend more than anything else (and I tend to inherently want to know everything about everything our kids do. Sorry in advance to their girlfriends/boyfriends.)  So, I asked our son “what does your new best buddy look like?” and I really wasn’t ready for the preschool wisdom he was about to drop on me.

“I don’t know” he said.  “When I play with him, I look at him, but I just see a buddy. I don’t matter about the other stuff”

His simple, perfect answer hit me right in the chest and actually choked me up. Maybe it was because I was a little sleep deprived from being up with our 1.5-year-old the prior night, but mostly I think it was because he was so. right. on. And I… wasn’t. Because he was telling me, Mom, I don’t care about what he looks like in the way you are asking. All I see is my friend. And just like that, my little preschooler put me back in my place. Does it matter what his friend looks like? No, it doesn’t. Does it matter if I know what his friend looks like? No, it doesn’t. I don’t need to exert one ounce of my potential parental judgment into a classroom friendship that is making him happy.

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As adults, we tend to place so much emphasis on what we look like. In fact, I would even wager to say that we miss out on potential friendships because we can’t get past all of the things we “see” when we look at someone. Clothes, hair, color, shape, size, occupation… to name a few. Just think what we might see if we all looked at each other with a non-judgmental preschool heart. Past the physical qualities that so often define us to focus instead on our commonalities and shared experiences. Like being a mother or a father, a son or a daughter, a person looking for happiness, a person that likes dogs, sports, cooking, (or of course what ninja moves we can do, if only we could be as cool as our kids) or WHATEVER. What if we could “just see a buddy” in the people we meet? I for one, am going to try harder…

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So thank you, to my son for opening my eyes. And thank you, to his friend for playing with the new kid. May they enjoy many days of Batman, shark-hunting, and ninja-kicks together. And may we all bring a little preschool wisdom into our day.

 

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3 inspiringly resilient military children, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe & wine explorer.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

 

A Modern Day Village: The Birth Worker’s Inspiration

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I recently had a conversation with a client who is about to be a first time Grandmother. As I listened to her speak about her worries about her daughter’s upcoming birth, her struggles during pregnancies with depression and Hyperemesis Gravidarium, I was completely struck by the feeling of isolation that she was describing in her daughter. She is the only one of her friends pregnant, and although she does have a Fiance, he is  not operating on the helpful wavelength that she needs.

Immediately, my head swirled with questions to find out more.

“Who did this new soon-to-be-mama have to ask questions to other than the doctor she sees once a month?

Why is no one there for her other than her mother? Is the doctor leading her to support groups, mothering circles, moms with prenatal or postpartum depression? What will she do when she actually HAS the baby? If she’s struggling with depression now, who will watch out for the signs/symptoms of it in the postpartum months? Who will help this woman!!!!!!!??????”

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A little voice in my heart spoke up right then.

You, silly. You’re a birth doula. You have all she needs. Help her.

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Almost moved to tears, the words fell out of my mouth reflexively. “I remember those feelings all too well in both of my pregnancies,” I said sympathetically. “It sounds like she could use a birth and postpartum doula.”

The only difference between this mama and me when I was going through those same terrible feelings while pregnant was, I wasn’t actually alone. I had my doula there one phone call away at any moment. I had the cohesion of care between my amazing midwives, my doulas, myself, and my team. I had created my village.

After explaining what a doula is and does to her, (if you still want to know what that is, reference my Demystifying Doulas post here) it occurred to me that in some cases, women have no idea of the need for a village.

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Photo Cred Doulamatch.net

Back in the day, we lived in literal villages that would commune together for the birth of a new village member, and either call the midwife or have one on hand. 9 times out of 10, the birthing mother had a sister, mother, friend, neighbor, SOMEONE, with her until the midwife could arrive to her. Thus, the doula is born. Even female elephants know the importance of gathering around to form an impenetrable barrier of support for the birthing mother. I frickin’ love elephants.

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While modern-day women and birthing communities are certainly bringing doulas back, there is still too large a proportion of women who go unsupported during the pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum process. Why, you ask? Mostly because, they do not know we exist. It is the lack of conversation, or the lack of clarity on our exact role, that I sadly have to believe is one of the main reasons that birth has the potential to be such a traumatic experience for some women.  Having the guidance of your doula to shepherd you into the parenting life with grace, provide you with materials to support you every step of the way, can provide you with your lifeline if when you need it.

A glorious benefit in making the choice to hire a doula is that he/she may in turn lead you to your permanent, modern village.

Truth is, the years of preconception, pregnancy, transitioning to becoming a mother of one, two, three, multiples, etc., can come with many mixed emotions. No matter what your situation turns out to be when you find out you are pregnant, the feeling of isolation can be sudden and agonizing. When hiring a doula, you’re not only receiving the personal care of a hands-on teammate in your birthing journey, you are also DSC01327choosing an expert in community, local resources, birth education, knowledge of primary care givers specific work, and access to birth related evidence, articles, and, yes, even a postpartum sounding board. The doula will, in essence, be your trail guide for navigating the rough and unknown waters of this new chapter.

It is time, now, that we stop isolating ourselves as mothers. Let’s remind our world that we have been supporting each other proudly and strongly for…well…since the dawn of humankind. We do not need to do it alone. It may feel too daunting a task going to these mothering circles full of strangers, organizing birth class dinners at your house, or even seeing a therapist to get the necessary prescriptions to aid you. What if, in lieu of uncertainty of the support you need, you could Call. Your. Doula.

We can support this adventure every step of the way. We are here, so that you can be here and present through the whole process.

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Now that I have you convinced of the awesomeness of unconditional education and no-judgement support during your birthing years, let me illuminate the steps necessary to finding your perfect doula.

  1. Ask a friend: Ask around for a connection or connect with the doulas in your area by using the ultimate doula search engine: Doula Match  
  2. Interview a few: Find the right candidate by sitting in the energy of several different people.  Remember, you are hiring for a job, so the right fit is important. Birth is a vulnerable experience, so pick someone who will make you feel completely safe, who makes you feel confident, and someone by whom you and your birth partner feel empowered.
  3. Ask all the questions: Make sure you understand their vision of care, fees, and schedule and those align with what you had in mind for your birth vision. After all, it is your birth, the team you hire should complement it in every way with encouragement and advice that makes you feel informed. Do you want a doula just for prenatal education and birth? Do you know you’ll need postpartum care? Do you even know what that means? Does this person have the resources for all of that?
  4. Contract: You should always enter into a contract with your doula. That way there is an expectation of care that is agreed upon by all parties. This agreement is key, as mentioned above, it will be the catalyst for your new life as a mother.
  5. Get excited: Your doula should help you feel connected to birth classes, books, and other materials to prepare you for your upcoming experiences and all outcomes!

We all need the help. It is up to us to choose, in this modern world, just what our helping hand will look like. Most of us consider this calling a service to womankind alike. I am here to let you know it’s out there. I am writing to speak aloud that we are everywhere. We are your friends, neighbors, sisters, mothers, co-workers and colleagues, gym members, professionals, and tradeswomen.nature.jpg

We are your village, and we are here for you.

Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, energy worker and mom of 2 in Virginia.

 

Zen As A Mother: Kristy’s Simple Guide to Creating Your At Home Zen Space

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Oh, there you are!

Now that school is back in session, I have found gratitude in some straight up sol-i-tude. Know what I’m sayin’? Rather than spending this time binge watching “This is Us” (no judgement if that is how you relax) or adding on work hours that would leave me depleted when the kids got home, I’ve decided to dedicate this time where I am transitioning in so many ways to starting each day with some zen time.

This has always been a hard concept for me, because my house has never felt…well….zen-able. I have struggled with the ability to turn off my anxiety in order to sit peacefully without the checklist of things that I have to get done before I turn my “mom” back on. I realize now, that that notion is no longer working for me.

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So, I put on my Namaste big girl pants and tackled a space in my house that has been many things. A guest room, a Massage Room, the room where I kept all my LulaRoe clothing inventory (yes I did do that for a time) and now, I have transformed it into a loving and welcoming environment for all those family members who wish to find peace with meditation.

SOOOOOOO, without further Ado, I give you my guide to making your seemingly impossible chaotic space….zenified.

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  1. Find a subtle corner: It doesn’t have to be an elaborate room or even a huge space, if you feel at peace in a corner of your bathroom with Cindy Lauper blaring, do that.
  2. Declutter your space; Declutter your mind: Make sure you vacuum, sweep, remove any trash or clutter items, so that energy can flow nicely and there are less distractions in your space. In the Ultimate Beginners Guide to Feng Shui, (Feng Shui being an ancient Chinese version of creating harmony in your living or working space) “In a clear and organized space, energy can flow freely and feelings of guilt and unrest might vanish too.” I know that clutter makes me feel irritated and judegmental of myself and my surroundings, and disorganization of my space adds to my anxiety and scatter-brained moments. So, clear answer is a clear space leads to a clear mind.
  3. Meaningful Decorating: For me, it is super important to feel inspired by the art that surrounds me. Whether it invokes a sense of peace, a pleasant memory, or makes me feel cloaked in the guidance of a loved one who has passed, each piece in my zen space has meaning. My personal space has some living energy in the plants that remind me of divine guidance and the readiness of life to bloom at any moment.
  4. Sacred clearing: Not only do we declutter our space of “things”, we must also declutter our space of energy. If you haven’t heard of smudgingimg_0031 with sacred sage before, now is the time to jump on that train. It can be a smudge stick, or it can come in spray form, but the idea is the same. According to Jane Alexander in her article Smudging, “It [smudging] is the equivalent of spiritual spring cleaning.” There is a ton of information out there about the origins of this practice, but for our purposes here, I will explain my intentions. Sacred sage, for me, allows any energy that will influence my mediation practice to be cleared. I believe the smoke from burning the smudge stick will attach to the energies. So, I fill the room, open all the windows, and blow the energy out to the earth. This way, I am clear of any influences or energies that are not my own.
  5. Sound Elements: Sound therapy is always a plus for keeping energy flowing and clear as it is moving through your space. In this amazing book, How to Heal with Singing Bowls, Suren Shrethsa explains that “clients have experienced a wide array of benefits from deep stress relief and relaxation, to a reduction in chronic pain.” One can also use music of all kinds, guided meditation tapes, or water elements such as this fountain for the sound therapy as well.
  6. Get Cozy: In my zen space, I use a sham pillow that’s cushy and cozy to sit on. You, however, may choose to lay, sit in a meditation chair, stand, or even do yoga. The choice is yours, just get comfy so your body can fully relax.
  7. Set up your Altar: There are a million ways to set up your altar space. Setting up an altar with statues, figures, photos, intention candles, or relics that pay homage to your higher power, can help ground your reflections and connect you to that source you find most comforting. It does not have to be about an organized religion, but just think about what makes you feel unconditional love, and place your reminders on your altar. Mine has a heart that reminds me of the sacred union between my heart and the universe, and a mantra that reminds me to light my soul’s fire and be fearless in that. I also love to remember that the world is full of magic, so I am inspired by peacock feathers and a fairy next to my orchid.
  8. Protect your space: believe it or not, it’s super easy to be effected by the energy of others while creating sacred space for you. If your kids are at home, or your neighbors are cutting the grass, their influential distractions can take their toll. I like to put up special mirrors, called Bagua mirrors that deflect negative energies and keep them from entering your space and on the other side, keep positive vibes in. Rad, right?
  9. Time for zen. Now, it’s up to you. Go forth, my loves, and get your zen on, whatever that means to you.

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, energy worker and mom of 2 in Virginia.

Strong Women Series: Introducing Dr. Sara Smith Wellness.

We all hopefully have someone in our life that inspires us regularly. That inspiration can lead to anything. Slowing down and focusing, reaching out, emboldening dreams, or recognizing the need for change.
In this series, we at Real As a M*ther hope to lift these strongly and fiercely motivated women up by featuring them specifically on our blog. Today, I am delighted and honored to call to the world’s attention to my friend, Dr. Sara Smith. 
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I met this caring and soulful practitioner back in the day when we worked together at a chiropractic clinic. In that year of commiserating about life and work, we discovered that we have a bond that goes beyond the workplace. We share a common love of mind-body work and spiritual empowerment. I observed her actively seeking positivity which I find truly admirable – especially in this modern world of so much negativity.  I have since found her insight to be invaluable in the many seasons of my life since.
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So, enough about our relationship! Let me gush, now, about her expertise and experience.

She is a Certified Wellness & Life Coach with a professional background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (PT) and Certified Yoga Instructor. She is a working mother of two, and a super badass wife to her husband and a prominent member of her community in the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

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Professionally, with her “multifaceted knowledge base, intensely caring attitude, intuition, and light touch of humor she guides her clients to find simple solutions to their most stressful and seemingly habitual problems so they can finally move forward with confidence and ease.” She is described as having “a gift to help her clients reconnect with their own core confidence so that they can tap into their innate wisdom, courage, and strength to find balance amidst very demanding professional and/or parental obligations.”

In her PT practice, Sara focused her studies in women/men’s pelvic health as well as chronic pain management. She has found that when we are not connected physically and mentally to our pelvis and core, when we lack physical strength and healthy “core” habits, we also tend to falter emotionally and spiritually. Woah – that’s deep. Literally. Her beautifully designed programs and gentle intuition remove the layers of resistance to help uncover those core weaknesses and transform them into core confidence and strength. True healing from the inside out.
She has lead numerous mind, body, and spirit conscious workshops. She combines these modalities in ways that create EASY habit change.  In these retreats, Sara mentions that she has been witness to “sacred sharing amongst other women that creates a level of profound awakening and healing and atunement to the people they are around.”
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When I asked her what her general energy was around starting healing retreats, she said “I want people to know that the frustrations they’ve had, the real life anger, anxiety sadness, the BIG EMOTIONS that make us feel ‘less than’…. within those things… it’s ok. And those can be very helpful to us.” Her upcoming retreat this November, for example, is focused around a blend of acknowledging the REAL emotions we feel as women, and the dreams and “crazy” yearnings that keep tapping us on the shoulder that we feel we need to push away cause it isn’t “practical”. This is a safe place to release the energetic gunk that holds us back.
It can be a quiet, sacred place to hear and deeply KNOW the next step to creating an action plan. This is for women, like me, who are hardwired to help others..so much they seem to keep putting themselves on the back burner BUT they know, truly know, something must change. I can show them how, and I am so honored to do so. A sacred small group has specifically been chosen in order to generate great power of group healing.
Ummmmmmmm, Sign a sister up! And thats exactly what I did after interviewing her. I am so excited to get my rejuvenation on.
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I have to say that one of the inspirations for featuring Sara today is my experience with her being her birth doula.  I had the honor of being with her for the birth of her eldest son, who has since been diagnosed with a very severe form of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Her strength showed through from those first moments and through each hurdle along that path since. She has become an active advocate for her son, and has been celebrating the milestones along with him in his speech development journey.  If you are not familiar with Apraxia, here is some information about it.
Sara’s blog is dedicated to the emotions that come with being surprised with a special needs child in the family.
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It has rocked so much of our life and through education, awareness, and love, I hope to teach other adults and children that unforeseen differences can be the greatest gifts.
Right on, Sara. Right the freak on.  In a world of differences, it is my hope today that we can find a commonality in pursuing self reflection, and the gratitude with finding peace within our personal growth.
Please give it up for Sara Smith, personal life coach to this blogger, and general badass mama, lover of healing, and one amazing woman.
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Thank you for showing the world your insides, so that we all may have a better perspective on life.
I love you, girl
—Kristy and the Real As a M*ther crew.
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Welcome to Real

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In the beginning

Once upon a time (circa 2000), in a faraway land (Maryland), four young ladies found their soulmates in high school. No, not dudes. Best friends who balance each other in the best way and support each other through (literal and figurative) thick and thin.

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Fast forward 18 years…  We are now a doctor, a lawyer, a doula, and a financial planner deep in the weeds of young motherhood who learned to laugh together, cry together, learn together, and support each other through this season of life via one (in our humble opinion) very real, very wise, and brilliantly entertaining text chain, which is the foundation of much of this blog’s content.

We decided one day, on a whim, to start sharing our collective experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – with other people out there. The core value: keeping it #real with advice on parenthood, health, home, style, money and just whatever else comes up. LockersToLittles was that flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants adventure and wow, that was somethin’ else!

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That blog life

The last 3 months have been a profound learning experience. We’ve laughed our buns off, cried in frustration and all 4 of us have learned more about ourselves than any of us thought possible. And most importantly, we discovered that there are other people out there who want to share our experience – you!! Wow! Our feedback and followers have blown us away with their support, ideas, and general awesomeness over and over.

We are taking that feedback and blasting off into a whole new level of the blogosphere peeps! You spoke and we have listened are are ready to serve.

To Infinity and Beyond

We are here to help others grow into the best version of themselves, and in the process are working to do the same. The best workouts for moms with no time? We gotcha. Best way to save for retirement no matter what age you start? You bet! Kids won’t eat vegetables? Coming to the rescue! Wondering what’s up with eating brie in pregnancy? #answeredthat. Just want to commiserate about this season in life being hard AF sometimes??? Oh yeah. Between the 4 of us we’ve had a whole lot of life happen and if it hasn’t happened to us, trust us, we know a guy.

People! The sky is the limit. Or is it?

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So if you haven’t visited with us before, then WELCOME. To all our returning followers, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. You’ve been with us this far and we cannot wait to share what we have in store with you.

To reach our much desired goals, we need YOU! Please enjoy and visit or lightly stalk us on our various social media outlets. Got a topic you want covered? Give us a comment, girl! Share your experiences, this is #momtribe and #parentlife and we’re all in this together. Oh, and share! ALLLLLLLL the sharing!

Welcome to REAL AS A M*THER!

xo, Annie, Christiana, Kristy and Margo

 

Dear Mom, I see you.

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My mom and my son.

Mom,

Gush-y-ness is almost bursting out of me just when I phonetically begin to say the word. The smile of endearment that presides every time you enter my thoughts, blows the whistle on the teenager you once knew, who would protest your protection and tell you to “go away”. The one who knew better than you, and the one who stubbornly and willfully “went my own way” in times you wanted me to go yours because you knew I’d benefit from your wisdom. The confident lioness of young womanhood who played all the sports, had the lifelong friends she’d always wanted, and the family that was nuclear.

That smile has a second agenda. It also reveals the broken, battered, unappreciated, rattled, and worn-too- thin woman that currently calls herself a young mother of young children. Ok, maybe not so young at 34, but young-ish. A woman drowning in her responsibilities, not gracefully, and making ultimate mistakes that may or may not be founded in anything but simple selfishness. The one who is struggling and cautiously pacing through learning the necessary lessons in respect, gratitude, positive parenting, and overall happiness from the foundation of family, unconditional love, loyalty, and respect that you have given me.

The one who has the uncanny ability to forget who she is, guilt herself, and throw away remembering the DAILY good she performs in order to feel the almost masochistic weight of the “it wasn’t good enough.”

The one who is now referring to herself in the third person, because maybe that part of me, isn’t really real.

Scratch that. she IS real. And she is enough. And she is beaming with pride to call herself your daughter.

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That I can open my arms to that part of me, is because of you. You love unconditionally and accept all of me at a capacity that I am so profoundly lucky to know. I see you.

I am writing to you, about you, so you can see who you are in my eyes. I write of my brokenness so you can KNOW that you had every part in creating the strength in me to see the imperfection, and tackle it. To fall onto that foundation that you’ve so preciously and delicately worked with me to build.


4151_683495597259_329027_nI write to you to show you that you are my way-shower, my example of what defines grace and sacrifice. But who also personifies a silent power that I never knew existed until I became a mother. I see you.

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I often hear people refer to you as “angelic”. Your heart is both understanding and practically constructive in the same breath. It is peacemaking, authentic, and wise. It is all shades of happiness, and dynamically persistent in the acceptance of all with which you are facing.

People always say, “What until you have kids.” And they are right. I could never understand what blessings could lie behind the characteristic of beautiful patience. I have always watched, in awe, your ability to quiet your mind, and open your mouth to reveal the most perfectly and divinely guided words. A shining example of outwardly expressed love. I see you.

You’ve walked with me through all of my trials and tribulations. First, through childhood, through shyness and tom-boyhood. Always holding me close, and letting the leash out little perfect inch by little perfect inch. You supported me through adolescence, finding the most subtle and gentle ways to nurture me into this new body, and to tell me that I needed to actually shower every once in a while.

Drove me, every day, to school (piano, basketball, lacrosse, dance, music, variety show practice, games, tournaments, etc)from the country, just so I would get to have the experiences I deserved. These were the memories for which you sacrificed your mornings and afternoons. Hell, your whole weekend sometimes. I never once saw the wear of that sacrifice of time on your face. I saw a woman who, without a shadow of a doubt, would always be there for me. Whose pride for her kids, for her life, for her part in the decision to give us this opportunity to have the world more open to us, overshadowed what I know now was ultimately painstakingly sacrificially beautiful.  I see you.

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Who was it that yelled to (not at) me to please take care of myself after surgery, and not overdo it? I saw it then as trying to control me. I see it now for it’s pleading love. The resonance of experienced nursing knowledge in your voice that I had a future in front of me. I had college sports at my feet, and not to ruin my chance to have that opportunity.

I see your sleepless nights of worry through college. Your courage to let me go. A brave mother who let me make my mistakes to learn to truly live. Mistakes in love, in education, and in life.

You walked with me in the journey through Massage School. Learning a new passion for energy work and discovering that you’re pretty badass at trusting your intuition. You showed me that I have an outlet for my human angst in prayer and meditation. And most importantly, in God.

It was you that introduced me to the concept of soul family so that I never have to feel alone, so long as I have a moment to reach out to them. You’ve only grown stronger in that ever since, making spiritual and soul connections that feed you, and build you stronger. Making your faith a priority among a lot of things. Not just a faith in Spirit. A faith in yourself, your family, and your son and daughter. I see you.

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And you did all this through the debilitation of your own pain. You never ever left my side as a mother. Even when the worries of your body’s betrayal left you emotionally weathered and physically exhausted, you never left our side. Not once. I so see you. This was the greatest lesson I ever could learn about the breadths of self that had been undiscoverable to me until my blinders were removed. You courageously walked down an aisle with stairs one gracefully and smiling step at a time, to watch me marry the man that reminds me so much of you and your strength. You didn’t even flinch. You were in so much pain but I never saw it. Sweet sacrifice. I see you. You were so amazing that day, and added everything to the happiness and whimsicality of it.

You gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever been given the day you told me that you, too, have been broken. Someone who seems to me to be the portrait of perfection. To know that you felt anything but that, in body and mind, and came out of the other side not only stronger and more sure of who you are, but also posturing towards happiness, was everything to me. You shared that you came out with a bigger capacity for compassion for others. If actions speak louder than words, then your day to day must be pretty loud, Mom.

Somedays, I feel as though I am that little girl who cried on the bus in first grade, homesick for my mother and my bed. Homesick for her soft hand stroking my head and back. Homesick in this big and scary world for what would make me feel whole, safe, and loved. But then, I remember you. I remember that I don’t care if you hate the photos I am posting, I want to share with the world the person who reminds me of all that I can be capable. Of the qualities that are within me, ready to be utilized at any moment.

I see you, Mom. You were are there, so vividly and immediately, in the moment that I became a mother myself; honoring my strength and wistfully studying your grandson in your arms. It was that day that I knew that I had always had the person I want to be in front of me. It is now that I finally know, I have that person IN me, as well. I am a part of you, as you are of me. I can be enough. I am enough as a mother, because I have been learning its embodiment from birth. My vision is loaded with images of what it looks like to be a mother, memories that create feelings of just what exactly that word means to me. What you, mean to me.

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I wish I knew then what I know now. As I try to stay above water in a world that seems judgemental and impossibly navigated as a mother of two, every bump and bruise I receive that sends me running back to “home”. That place I wish to run now lies within me. It is the part of me that is you. That is brave, silent and patient, strong yet gentle. Angelic, warm and inviting. Open and divine with ambitiously positive and fervent nurturance. Glowingly proudly with a heroic view of the world she has helped build, and hardworking to adjust to its ebbs and flows. You are timelessly beautiful. Breathtakingly loving, and kind just on time. That is who I see. Both in you and now, in the mirror. This bond of sisterhood, of soul connection, runs deep within us.

My proudest moment of my life will be the day I can say,

“My God, I am becoming my mother.” with a grin of resilience, fortitude, and pride in my co-creation, as I cannot think of anything better to be in this whole world.

Because I am your daughter, I see you alive in me.

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Yours with benevolence,

Your daughter.  Kristy

Kristy, Au Naturale: “The Road to Serenity is Ahead” No Judgement Journaling

*Explicit language warning 😀 in this post…

IMG_9854I don’t feel like I am alone in this when I say that I have the best of intentions when it comes to making the time to write in my journal  all my journals. Mustering the courage to write my truth has always seemed too daunting a task. Faced with a blank page and SO MANY FEELINGS?

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so many journals, so little time

But… where do I start? What do I say? Somehow, my therapy via written word always finds a way of brushing itself aside with “I don’t have the time right now. Maybe later” and “Its 2:38 am, I should sleep. Ok, now its 3:02, 3:15, I’ll totally fall asleep because I’m so tired.”

Or, the all time most frequent anti-journaling monster…..distraction.

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Why should I journal anyways?? Before I got myself on the journaling wagon, I read a bunch of information about the benefits of journaling in PsychCentral.com articles, books and even Huffington post. Why bother? Here’s a few reasons:

  1. Writing can be an impressive way of challenging the mind to find words that otherwise may not be used in your everyday speech. Thus, expanding your vocabulary and your brainpower. (higher IQ levels for the win)
  2. Writing can also help boost your memory by actively beckoning the mind to remember events or ideas and then recalling them to the present.
  3. Bringing you into a state of mindfulness, journaling can create a level of self-awareness of just how deeply an issue, situation, or an emotion is felt. It helps you truthfully live in these experiences, so that you may be able to relate more appropriately to others.  Empathizing can be a powerful tool in emotional development. Being in the present moment, as well, can help to subdue the gravity of worries of the past, or the fiery pangs of the anxious ones to come. In essence, it’s helping you figure out your sh*&, so you can learn handy tools in dealing with your well-being going forward, and stop lamenting the worries of yesterday. (see what I did there?? I never use “lamenting” when I’m speaking to people. BRAIN BOOST POINTS)
  4. Others benefits, according to the PsychCentral.com article, can be related to problem solving, clarity of thoughts and feelings that can help you to know yourself better, and improving your interpersonal relationship communication.
  5. Sleep!!

So I touched on sleep above. Err, lack of sleep, rather.  Has anyone had those glorious nights where your kids are happily nuzzled cozy in their beds and sleeping all night, yet YOU can’t sleep because your mind is running around anazlying and worrying about everything and anything?

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The process of journaling has also been found to decrease the stressors that typically affect one’s ability to rest peacefully through the healing power of RELEASE. Dr. James Pennebaker authors a book titled, Writing to Heal, in which he expresses the true art of unblocking emotional barriers and traumas. We can give them a voice to be heard, understood, and therefore not over analyzed in our minds. He explains that writing exercises can

leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world, and the ability to accept that life can be good–even when it is sometimes bad.

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I know all this and yet…. Think of an excuse, and I’ve said it to myself to avoid journaling my thoughts and emotions that cause me stress and at their worst, keep me from sleeping. Truth is, if I just took five minutes out of my day to write that “thing” that is sucking my awareness into it down on paper, the huge monstrosity of looped thought may just exit my brain altogether. And hopefully, for good.

Here is the kicker: Journaling is also an awesome lesson in self-discipline. And with self-discipline, practice makes perfect.

I’ve admittedly been highly unsuccessful at keeping up with any journal.  It wasn’t that “I sucked at journaling” self judgey much? I just felt so overwhelmed with it, that I never even began to try. Frustration would set in before any therapeutic benefit could be reached.  The answer was that I hadn’t yet been connected to a journal that fit my personality/emotional needs.

It was through a gift from a dear friend that changed my perspective on that feeling. Suddenly, I was given a daily theme, a dated logbook with meditations, and small practical guidance to look within myself.  I found the points above were key factors in my adherence to writing behaviors. Helpful and simple tools, like this one below, are very powerful.

So, going through these insightful motions of jotting down my physical, emotional, and psychological thoughts for that day and relating them to an intention was my Aha! moment. I loved it, and looked forward to the time in bed right before I fell asleep when I could journal.

So, to Recap what we have learned:

  1. Keeping a journal is a healthy and awesome way to release emotional blockages and enhance your super smartness (which you already have a level of that for reading our blog;))
  2. You’ll need to find a journal that excites you, enticing you to make the time to use it as the tool it can be.
  3. Start slow. Pick a theme or an emotion to narrow in on in order to really understand it.
  4. Write quickly, without judgement, and in a space that can feel private and safe.
  5. Enjoy the process of opening up to yourself. You might be surprised at how in tune you become with your inner workings.

I’ll use my current theme as an example.  It is related to one of my favorite books, the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck The title speaks for itself. Buy it. Read it. Live it. You will thank me.

The Journal, also a gift, called “Zen as F*CK” A Journal For Practicing The Mindful Art of Not Giving A SH*T”, has me laughing like an awesomely carefree mad scientist and I am 514B7Y42PML._AC_US218_LOVING it. Each page can take less than 20 minutes. I find myself smiling when I am done, accomplished in my mindfulness task for that day.

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One of the factors that I never found in my research about writing therapy, was the amazing affect it has had on my hopefulness. In the last 2-3 months since beginning this practice, albeit not daily but almost, I am slowly rediscovering who I was always meant to be. I am finding a woman who knows how to be confident in feeling happy, kind, warm, and balanced. Oh, and hilarious. Definitely hilarious. (if you can’t laugh at yourself, right?) And to think, it wasn’t that I found any old journal and started writing.  This all started to happened because,

          a journal helped me find my way back to me.

-Psssst, and I totally dig this new me. She’s kinda awesome.

I hope you take this time to rediscover you through the art of writing. Because chances are, you’re freaking incredible. Have an amazing voyage!

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, mom of 2 and homesteader in Virginia.