Sexy as a M*ther

There’s a new sexy in town friends, and I would argue, it’s even better than before. It’s mom-sexy. We may not have the bouncy bounty of hair and bikini top filling of yesteryear, but we have some new moves that can light the 🔥🔥🔥 of romance like none other. (Literally. Because no one who’s not a mom would do this stuff…)

Wardrobe

Those young folks are all rocking flowy, low-cut tanks and dresses that show a hint of side or underboob here and there. The sexy implication being a nipple could be exposed at any moment. Enter: nursing tanks. This garment has the significant advantage of being able to actually whip out a titty in 1 second flat. Hey-yo!!!!

Shock Value

Sure Victoria would have you think your partner wants you in lacy little get ups 365 days a year. Let me tell ya, when all they’ve seen you in for months is spit-up stained sweats and then you slip on a real nighty? Firecrackers!!!

Naughty Naughty

Remember those teenage trysts making out when you knew your parents might walk in and bust you any minute -so hot, right? Well, as a parent, you get to turn the tables! You never know when a kid might wake up with a need for an escort to the bathroom and discover you and your partner “practicing stretching” or “having a tickle fight” 😳

Exploration

Another level of kink factor is available for all you cosleepers. Kid is in your bed so that’s off limits (at least I hope, because, wow! Boundaries, people). Hello, laundry room! Or take it to the bathroom counter. Nothing makes for creative sexcapades like having a literal cockblocker in your bed.

You said it!

New Turn Ons

Totally aging myself here, but… Remember when Devin Sawa’s bowl cut was the hottest thing (or were you a JTT gal?)? And then a few years later, it was boy band moves, then Abercrombie store dudes in barely-not-showing-pubic-hair-low cut shorts? What turns you on changes with time. And let me tell ya, once you’re a parent, there is basically nothing sexier than your partner going above and beyond with home & childcare.

Tell Me What You Want

What you really really want…. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really Really want. Because I’m a mom. And ain’t nobody got time for that Oh-let’s-pretend-this-is-fun-because-I’m-too-shy-to-be-honest sh*t. We know what works (hopefully!!) and we know how to get it and THAT, my friends is sexy.

Pregnant Sex

Ok, this one is transient, but can be ahhhhhmazing!! Increased blood flow? Yes please! Embracing your new curves? Oh yeah! Those pregnant boobs? 🙌🏻🙌🏻! If comfort allows, this can be one of the biggest perks of gestation. Get. After. It. There is a big ol’ dry spell (literally, so dry down there) coming up after baby. Store up some good times to last you through!

As always, keepin it Real

Real Talk

In all honesty though, it can be hard to feel like your former sexy self as a mom. Your body is different. It might feel better, it might feel squishier, it might feel completely foreign – no matter what, it changes. You may not have time for basic self care, much less a “beauty routine”. But instead of beating ourselves up about it and missing out on the fun, why not embrace it?! Your body can LITERALLY grow human beings. It’s miraculous. This is a special season in life and won’t last forever. Get out there and have a spicy Valentine’s Day, mamas! I, for one, think you’re SMOKIN!!! 😘

Dr. Annie is newly a mom of 3, a family doctor and finding new ways to be sexy all the time 😜

 

 

Strong Women Series: Tackling Addiction with Compassion

Every day, millions of lives are touched by the disease of addiction. Whether personally, or through the eyes of family members or dear friends, many of us have watched and hoped while those we love fight their battle with addiction. According to the Surgeon General’s 2016 report, Facing Addiction in America, one in seven Americans will experience a problem with alcohol or drug abuse in their lifetimes, approximately 20 million Americans have current substance use disorders, and 78 Americans are dying from overdose every day.  Addiction knows no boundaries, and touches all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses, from celebrity to poverty.

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Introducing Mary Page Shinholser

It is through this lens, that I am proud to introduce an amazing woman that I most definitely look up to, despite being almost 9 years older than her.  I first came to know Mary Page Shinholser through Crossfit, about a year ago, and found the more I got to know her, the more I admired her. I had only heard bits and pieces of her story, but I always found her energy positive and relatable.

One of the many reasons Mary Page is a hero to me is because she clearly answered a call from the universe to help, and teaches from her own personal experiences with addiction and empowers people to reclaim their world from its clutches.  Another is that she follows this call inexhaustibly, never failing to touch people and remind them that they are NOT ALONE. Ever.

In her words…

Here is Mary Page Shinholser’s story, in her own words:

Hello blog world! I’m here to tell you a little about me, what I do in the addiction and recovery field, and why it matters.

My experience in this world is long and personal. I have lost count of the funerals I have been to of those who have overdosed or had an addiction-related death. Some of the most amazing people in my life are in recovery. My father, step mother, three uncles, both grandfathers, a few good friends, two cousins, and a former boyfriend all are in recovery from Substance Use Disorders (SUD). They are kind, hard working, and compassionate people that as a child, I looked forward to spending the evenings with, either at Narcotics Anonymous meetings after school in a basement church, at cookouts, campouts, or holiday parties. I used to write some of my parent’s friends letters while they were in jail.  

MP and Dad
Me and my Father

I was always proud of the world I grew up in. I had a fantastic childhood. I vividly remember my very first drug talk at the age of seven, and my first drug test. Drug tests were kept on top of our fridge, and my first one was administered at the age of 12. I knew no different, in fact I was shocked to find out that most other kids didn’t grow up the way I did.

The first time I experienced the stigma attached to the disease of addiction (yes, disease, I’ll touch on that a bit later), was in middle school. I wanted to have a sleep over and my friend’s parents wouldn’t let her come over to my house because, she said “my mom said no because your dad is a drug addict.” I didn’t understand, and my little broken heart said “my dad is NOT a drug addict. He’s in NA, he is clean, and has been clean since before I was born! HE WORKED THE STEPS!” I was distraught. I cried, a lot. I guess that is where the educator in me was first born. 

Fast forward 15 years. I’m teaching 8th grade civics and economics and loving it. When I was told by the county that I wouldn’t have a job the following school year, I was absolutely crushed. Here I was, finally loving what I do and I was damn good at it. I had a 94% SOL passing rate, (do you know how hard that is to achieve with middle schoolers obsessed with Instagram and Fortnite?) I was coaching Track and Field, and I was making a difference. 

Throughout this period in my life, the opioid epidemic was at an all time high, and it really pissed me off. I heard this little voice in the back of my head saying, “Mary Page. DO. SOMETHING.” Well, the universe heard me. Soon after that, I had a recruiter reach out to me on LinkedIn and asked me, “Have you ever thought about teaching people about addiction and recovery?”

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Me with my Dad and Stepmom

“Well, Hell YEAH!” I thought, and a few interviews later, I received an offer that I just could not refuse. I landed a Community Relations role with a treatment center that truly is on a mission to provide the best high-level treatment and care in the field. #winningforeveryone

My job is to travel around the state of Virginia, let people know who I am, who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I get to talk to people in probation and parole, inmates, counselors, doctors, lawyers, politicians, school counselors, and beyond. I not only get to teach people about treatment, but I also get to give people hope. I get to tell people they’re not alone. I get to give people a first, second, third, or fourth chance at a better life. Most importantly, however, I get to educate people into getting the right treatment options for them. And if we are not right for them, I point them in the direction of the best fit for their recovery.

What is SUD?

SUD is categorized and defined as a disorder and mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association and is listed in the most recent version of the DSM-5. There are three subclassifications (mild, moderate, and severe) that fall into four major categories: impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria.

Brain
Photo Credit The Recovery Research Institute

Addiction is not a one size fits all disease. There is no single treatment that works for everyone who walks through our doors. There is no chemotherapy, blood transfusion, surgery, or transplant that can cure it. It is pure hard work. Tackling recovery, whether it’s your first time or your twentieth, is majorly hard. It is emotional and it is raw.

In a way, I have found my purpose in life through this new role I am in. I want to educate people not only on addiction, but also on mental illness in general. There are so many diseases and disorders out there that people know nothing about, but cast judgement upon it, which makes it so much harder for people to reach out and get the help they need. If I can reach one small group of people, or even just one person, and let them know, “Hey, I see you. I will help you. I love you, and you are not nor will you ever be alone. I will fight with you and I will fight for you,” then I can sleep soundly at night.  

I want to end this post with two things. First, if you or anyone you know are struggling or even showing small signs of SUD, reach out and ask for help. It is out there and it is closer than you think. Second, be kind and be compassionate.

The human race has mastered the art of covering things up with a smile. You never know when you’ll be faced with SUD head on, but I can guarantee you this; this community is strong, this community is welcoming, and this community is filled with fighters.

I will say it again, so you can hear it. You are Not Alone.

Feeling Inspired?

Big thanks to Mary Page for telling her inspiring story! For more resources and further reading on SUD and addiction, check out the Surgeon General’s full report on Addiction in America, or this fantastic TED talk by Johann Hari. And please, pay your knowledge and compassion forward. Share the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website and free confidential helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) with those you love. The SAMHSA offers 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Let’s commit to saying it loud, together: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Stay tuned, because Mary Page has an awesome Podcast launching later this month entitled “Ment”. It will primarily focus on mental and behavioral health issues that fly under the radar. People who have suffered from these disorders will be given a platform to share their stories, how they reached a point to seek recovery, and how their recovery is thriving. The hope behind this new endeavor for Mary Page is to pay recovery forward. To allow people to know that you are “Ment” to be right where you are in your journey.  You can look for more updates as they come on our Real As A Mother social media sites.

 

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Kristy is a birth doula, massage therapist, homesteader, mother of two, and supporter of strong women in Virginia.

 

 

How to Spoil A New Mama

The transition from expecting, to being a new mom of a babe outside the womb is one of the absolute craziest life changes a human can experience. One day, you’re the object of everyone’s attention, being helped and fawned over by friends and strangers alike. The next thing you know, BAM! All the attention is on the new little miracle and you’re left in the shadows with your deflated-balloon belly and under-eye bags for days.

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As mamas to a collective 10 little people, we are often asked about the best things to bring, give, or do for a new mother.  Assuming that family and friends have already set the new mama up with the basic necessities to survive those first couple months (registry items, meals, diapers, etc.), we’ve listed here a few ways to go one step beyond and make that new mom feel not just like she’s surviving but that she’s spoiled and loved as much as the adorable little being she just birthed. Here are some of our favorite recommendations for new mamas, from mamas who have beentheredonethat.

The Spa Treatment

New moms obviously won’t likely get to go TO an actual spa while they’re on the feed-change-rock rollercoaster of newborn life. Here are a few easy gifts to make her feel pampered in the same way.

Good Dry Shampoo

Showers can be few and far between.  Let alone showers long enough to wash one’s hair. Help a mother out by getting her one of these top dry shampoos to fake it:

R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo, 6.3 oz.
R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo 4.0 oz Pack of 2
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day

 

 

Excellent Lip Balm

When you’re trying to keep hydrated for two, your lips get chapped like no other. Treat a mama to one of these:

it Cosmetics je ne sais quoi Color Awakening Balm in ‘your perfect pink’ starts out clear but changes to the perfect rosy tint to complement you once it’s on. And Smith’s Rosebud salve is a classic, but the tin can be hard to open one-handed, go with the tube trio!

Moisturizer

Same goes for skin! A non-toxic, yummy smelling lotion or body oil can make you feel refreshed even if you just used a baby wipe to towel off a massive spit up in lieu of showering. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse can be used on every outside part of your body – face, hair, and body – making it super easy to slap some on when you’re jumping out of your 2 minute shower when your baby’s crying, and smells like you just went to Paris and spent the day in a fancy boutique. (A girl can dream…)

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At Home Facial

Help mama look a *little* less tired than she is with one of these easy treatments – all wearable while walking around bouncing a fussy babe:

Sheet masks! Go simple with a variety pack from Target or deluxe from Sephora – no matter what, these pamper and then can be tossed in the trash. For the inevitable under-eye (ahem, Prada) bags, Nerium hydrogels and eye serum – we’ve talked about this wonder duo before. No need to beat a dead horse but if you want to knock out some serious undereye bags in 20 minutes flat, this is how to do it!

Aromatherapy

A well-placed candle or diffuser has the power to make a room feel clean and fresh even when it’s nothing close to that.  (Because, well, did we mention the feed-change-rock rollercoaster?) Here are some faves:

 

The Baies Dyptique candle makes any space smell as fresh as a garden, even when you are feeling anything but fresh, and the Noodle and Boo diffuser is subtle enough for the nursery, and sweet enough to make you forget about your toddler’s crusty mac and cheese plate in the sink.

Bebe Luxe

Having a few luxury baby items can also brighten the most mundane baby care moments and new mamas may not want to spend the money on these, admittedly nonessential but oh-so-nice-to-have, items.

Monogrammed Burp Cloths

Burp cloths literally become part of your wardrobe as a new mom. Why not make them cute?! Personalized cloths make for a lovely gift, and one that keeps on giving for years – we’ve been known to wipe toddler faces, noses, and just about everything else with these pretty little things. After all, if you’re going to be covered in baby (toddler, and child) puke, why not feel monogrammedly-fabulous about it?! Exactly.

monogram cloth
This thing has been trashed and washed about 14,000 times and is still looking fab.

 

If you have the skill set to make these yourself – you win. If you (like us) don’t, there are fortunately a variety of styles available from a number of sellers on Etsy. We purchased ours from a lovely shop called The Letter Garden.

The Fancy Baby Lotion

Babies, especially newborn babies, smell amazing. Their sweet fuzzy heads and little toes… Oh! Too. Much. Sweetness.

babychair
Photo credit: Deanna Casey Photography

However, babies have their share of smelly moments too. (If the phrase “baby blowout” means nothing to you, take our word for it.) Here are some of our favorite, fancy,  “sweet-baby-smell” lotions that are safe and wonderful for newborn skin and effective enough for a new mom’s chapped hands (you wash your hands A LOT with a new baby).

 

Noodle and Boo Super Soft Lotion is the sweetest smelling, and most effective baby lotion we know of! It’s darling packaging doesn’t hurt either. We also love the California Baby line. The everyday lotion, overtired and cranky, and calendula cream are both also divine.

Beyond Sustenance

Meal Trains are a Godsend for getting dinner (and hopefully leftovers for lunch!) taken care of. You can register for, and set up a Meal Train on their website, here. However, new mamas also need yummy, nutrient dense snacks in the early days of recovery from birth and nursing. (And often end up balancing a sleeping baby in their arms in search of an easy to grab snack!) Here are a few ideas.

person carrying a baby

Energy Bites

These are like a healthy nutrient packed version of cake balls. Easy to grab and wolf down even with a crying baby in one arm. Mix ingredients together, basic recipe amounts below, there are endless possible combinations, chill for 30 minutes then roll into balls and coat in final ingredient. We love chocolate-coconut and cashew-butter-cran-raspberry!

  • 3/4 C organic old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C nut butter of choice
  • 1/2 -1 C chocolate chips, craisins, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, crumbled freeze dried berries or whatever else sounds good
  • 2 TBS sweetener: honey, maple syrup, agave or whatever you fancy
  • Coating: peanut butter powder, shredded coconut, pulverized freeze dried fruit, hot chocolate mix…

cookies on square white ceramic plate

Lactation cookies

Yes you could get store-bought versions of these, and no, they probably won’t triple her milk supply. However, letting a new mom indulge in homemade cookies and imagine they’re healthy is what a real friend does! This recipe is from Genius kitchen.

Accessories

Unless you’re a celebrity, the new-mom uniform is stretchy pants, nursing tank, messy bun, all day, errryday. However, it’s amazing what a little accessoried “flare” can do to make a girl feel more human. (And fake an actual outfit with minimal wardrobe changes. #score)

Sweaters and Wraps

Mama can toss one of these over a legging/nursing top “mom-suit” and suddenly, voila! You’ve got yourself an outfit!

 

Earrings

A stylish drop earring can make that messy-bun look like its purpose is to show off some ear flare instead of disguising the spit-up in momma’s ponytail. (Not that we’ve ever done that before…)

 

We love the casual look of the leather  Zia earrings from Magnolia Market, and the Aragon hammered drop earring from Kendra Scott for maximum versatility and style.

Fancy Hair Ties

Uplevel that pony or mom-bun with one of these. Bonus – nursing mommas can also use them as cute bracelets to remember which side she last nursed the baby on! Win win!

 

 

Happy shopping mom-friends and congratulations on being the favorite person of the lucky new mom in your life!

This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products we recommend. We may receive a small contribution from your use of the links, but the recommendations are all our own and unsolicited.

018 (1 of 1)The Real As A M*ther crew, mamas to 10 littles; a doctor, lawyer, doula, and financial planner; and happy spoilers of Dr. Annie, a glam new momma to her brand new baby boy.

I Am Not a Part-Time Parent

I cannot believe we still have to have this conversation, but here we are. Someone recently made a comment to me that it must be nice to be a “part-time parent” because I, like my husband, work outside of the home in an office during the week.

I was pretty surprised at the comment. “Part-time parent?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said, “You basically only have a few hours a day with your kids and on the weekends. That sounds pretty part-time to me.”

eye roll

Once I was able to convince myself not to hurl myself at this person, I decided to put pen to paper on a few thoughts, juuuuuust in case anyone reading this has had the same misconceptions about what it can mean to be a working mother.

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1. When I work during the day to help earn income for my home – to help pay the mortgage, lights, car payment, insurance, etc, I am being a parent.

2. When I stay late to try to close that deal or finish that project, so I can try to earn some extra income to save more for college for my kids, for example, I am being a parent.person holding pink piggy coin bank

3. When I show my kids that a woman can be equal to men with regard to financially supporting a family, I am being a parent.

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4. When I rearrange my day and client meetings to care for a sick child, take them to an appointment, or join for a field trip, I am being a parent.

5. When I do an entire presentation to a group of potential investors with baby spit-up down my shirt, covered by a suit jacket, without missing a beat, I am being a parent.  (BTW, this did happen, and I always felt like Michelle in One Fine Day with the dinosaur shirt on…)

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6. When I stay up late to study so I can propel my career forward with the dream of creating an even better life for my kids, I am being a parent.

7. When I get home in the evening, exhausted from a particularly trying day, and I help my kids with homework, clean up the dinner my husband kindly made, give the kids a bath and tuck them into bed with a kiss, I am being a parent.

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8. When on the weekends, I attempt to catch up on some piles of laundry and cleaning I couldn’t tackle during the week, I am being a parent. Yes, my house might not be perfect, but that’s not my priority right now. We all prioritize things differently, it’s what makes us uniquely ….you guess it…..parents.

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9. When I work on my laptop for a few hours on a Sunday to catch up because I had to pick up my kid from school because he was sick earlier in the week, I am being a parent.

10. When I take some time to go to the gym so I can set an example for my kids to prioritize their physical health, taking them with me to show them safe and effective examples of doing so, I am being a parent.

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Dear mamas, none of you are less of a parent if you work inside the home, work outside of the home, have a nanny, don’t have a nanny, or sit in a bubble bath in your spare time.

I am a parent 100% of the time, regardless of whether I am physically present with my children or not. No one can convince me anything about my parenting is “part-time” so don’t let anyone make you believe it either!

Also, let’s take this opportunity to remind each other to stop spending time with people who don’t feed your positivity. You know who they are. They are the women who smile to your face but are threatened by your happiness or success. They are the ones who will talk snidely about the fact that your house isn’t as clean as theirs or that you gained a couple more pounds than last year. These “Frenemies” have no place in my life and I hope you make a conscious decision to remove them from yours!! (See Discovering and Coping with Energy Vampires). In the words of Sophia A. Nelson:

Be a  woman other women can trust. Have the courage to tell another woman directly when she has offended, hurt, or disappointed you. Successful women have a tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Not haters. Not backstabbers or women who whisper behind their back. Be a woman who lifts other women.

People who truly love you will understand that your shining light never dims their own. They won’t call attention to your faults or your struggles. They won’t be jealous of your happiness and try to ruin it. They will highlight your strengths and your triumphs. Those are your people. And those people know there is nothing part-time about love.

Love,

Margo

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Margo is the silly lady in the blue dress, a full time mom of two, supporter of other parents and financial advisor.

 

Discovering and Coping With the Energy Vampires In Your Life

Do you ever find yourself wondering, watching through exhausted eyes as the kids get back on the bus after winter break, why the holidays left you so unimaginably drained? The more I think about it, stories of heightened stress around the end of the year holiday festivities have my thoughts pointed in a singular direction. Overwhelming. Amounts. Of. People.

Photo Credit The Carson J Spencer Foundation blog

Whether it is travel, being around family, or the financial pressures we place on ourselves, it seems after that shiny disco ball rings in the New Year, a collective sigh of relief audibly guides us back to our sense of normalcy. Does anyone else ever find themselves asking… “why?”

After all, we can mostly push the proverbial pause button on school, morning routines, and after school/work activities for a bit. We’ve spent time at home, in our pajamas, sipping coffee and smiling at each other while the kids relished in the magic of the season, right?

Oh wait…I forgot.

 

building christmas tree indoors mall

There were school parties; work parties; friend parties; shopping in crowds; returning gifts; family to see, cook for and entertain; traffic; neighbors; gaggles of children…must I go on?

The point is, during this time of year we are almost forced to be around people that we may not see throughout the year. Sometimes this is a great thing and we are filled up with warm fuzzies, but other times we leave a situation feeling drained, overwhelmed, angry, depressed, anxious, threatened, and just down right OVER IT.

If this is you, my friend, then you have yourself what I have become accustomed to calling, an “Energy Vampire.” 

Photo Credit headinablender.com

The easiest way I can describe this is in terms of positive and negative. A positive person is in tune, energetic, with a light that flows outward. A negative person’s energy is blocked from the source, so their energy is dense, almost like a black hole, within themselves. The blockage does not allow the energy to replenish, so in order for them to be filled, they have to seek the energy of others.

These individuals may creep up on you, engaging you in a conversation that leaves you feeling empty.  They may not even realize that this is what they are doing to you! They just know that they can dump their emotional “stuff” into your bucket and feel better, regardless of how it leaves you feeling.

No matter what you do, how you try to steer conversation or the direction of the friendship, this one person always finds a way to latch onto you and send you energy revolving in an orbit of negativity around them.

woman and man sitting on brown wooden bench

Most of these individuals are emotionally and energetically immature, so they lack any sort of empathy to recognize the social cues one might give them that they are being too draining.  They also may not care even if you socially cued them right upside their head, because they derive energy from other individuals, and they don’t know how to stop themselves from doing it.

I can’t stop them for you; however, I’m gonna give you some garlic-laced energy ammunition to protect yourself.  Just in case your cat-like reflexes kick in and make you situationally aware when people are waiting for an opportunity to jump into your bubble, I am going to give you some positive tools to use when your emotional capacity is plentiful and you want to be of help.

Photo Cred Joyful31.com

1. Know Your Personal Boundaries

In order to ward off an “energy vampire attack”, we have to be aware of our own personal struggles, mood, and headspace.  “Energy vampires” tend to feed on the weak. The higher your energetic capacity is, the less likely your energy will be drained. Daily, self-centering practices such as meditation, and self reflection are helpful keys to prepare yourself when you have to interact with these types of people. If you know your cups are low, avoid them at all costs.

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2. Roll Deep When You Can

If you can avoid one-on-one time with an energy-draining individual, then do. Interacting with negative people is almost always easier in group situations.  Dealing with them in groups not only sways the attention from being directly on you, but often makes the individual less likely to engage in immature behavior. Supportive friends and family are always great allies in these situations.

3. Make a Clean Break

Sometimes, the best way to deal with “Energy Vampires” is to recognize them for what they are and simply keep your distance. Maybe for a short term, maybe for a long term, or maybe until they, or you, are in a better place to communicate with each other. But sometimes you just need to make a clean break. It is important to ask ourselves

“what value is this person/these people actually adding to my life?”

If you are spending way more time solving their problems, listening without reciprocation, coming to their rescue, or worst yet, taking the fall for them when sh*t hits the fanthen it behooves you have to take serious inventory as to what this person is adding to your life. This is not to say that we don’t stand by old friends when sh*t hits the fan. On the contrary.

This is where the old pros and cons lists comes in handy. It sounds silly, but, I absolve you of any guilt-ridden feelings in performing this task.   You need your energy for the things you love, giving it away to those who won’t hold it dear is not something vital to your happiness. End. Of. Story.

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4. Be Direct

If your kindness kicks in and you want to lend a hand, try and keep your conversations direct. Instead of saying things like “tell me about it,” ask them directly “what can I do to help you?” This can ring very deeply in their empty well, and help them feel listened to and appreciate you on a different level.

For example, as a sleep deprived young mother my energetic cups were often very low and easily sucked into others’ negative inner turmoil. Hindsight is certainly 20/20 as I look back and see that if I could have found the energy at that time to simply ask directly what I could do to help with these individuals’ problems, we may have been able to work together to forge a constructive way to work out our differences, and we would have all been better off. And I could have saved myself a lot of energy-draining days.

5. Have a Self-Care Plan

If interaction with your “vampire(s)” is inevitable (for example with a coworker one cubicle over, or family member that seems to always “drop in“), have a routine for self-care in place for after you are around them (to remember your awesomeness, of course).  Maybe it’s a hot shower to rid yourself of their energy, or doing something nice for yourself or someone your care for – it all comes back to doing things that make you smile and re-fill your energetic “cups.” Whatever it is, tell your partner that you will need to have that time to fill back up immediately after the interaction is over. Your relationship with yourself and with all parties concerned will be better for it.

Photo Credit The Country Workshop

Setting boundaries, remembering who you are, listening to your own needs, engaging in direct conversation, practicing self care, and making a clean break when necessary, are the key components I have found successful in protecting oneself from those who feed off of your energy. I hope these tools help you to recognize who the “Energy Vampires” are in your life (OR if you are one to someone else!) and  go more confidently into situations with your own potential “Energy Vampires” and allow you to more deftly navigate them so that you aren’t left with an empty tank.

Now, go forth and be awesome!

004-1-of-1Kristy is a mother of two, Massage Therapist, and proponent of total body healing in Virginia.

PostPartum Rage Is A Real Thing.

A couple of weeks ago, an article came across my newsfeed that stopped me dead in my tracks. We have discussed postpartum depression and anxiety here on the blog to help normalize the conversations about those two particular, and VERY prevalent, states of motherhood. But, what about those of us who have had both of those things manifest differently? What about those of us that cannot pinpoint what it is that we are feeling, leaving us confused, feeling isolated, and abnormal? What if our symptoms are not only sadness, stress, or anxiety? (as if that isn’t enough…sheesh)

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Photo Credit to Actify Neurotherapies

Commonly known symptoms of PPD and PPA are mentioned above, but with one caveat. The Anger/Rage category that is seemingly brushed over for the other symptoms listed here. My own postpartum manic anxiety turned into something I had never even knew existed until a couple of weeks ago…….it was FULL. BLOWN. RAGE.

Have you ever just been having a normal conversation, and something triggers you and you have this overwhelming anger that makes your ears turn bright red, your blood boil, and before you know it, your whole family is crying because you’ve screamed for the last five minutes without knowing what you’ve said or even why?

Have you found yourself trying like hell to not throw something across the room when the toilet seat is peed on and you forget to check before you sit, and end up throwing said object anyway?

I have.

Hi, my name is Kristy, and I am just realizing that I have suffered from PostPartum Rage for 7 years.

People don’t often talk about this ugly symptom of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, because it describes a state of mind that is downright hard to talk about. To watch someone from the outside go through such uncontrollable anger must just look wrong. We have images within us that create this patient, loving, and kind image of a person that we hope to be as mothers.  I know that was my intention upon having children.  However, the “inner monster” that would come out of me during moments where I could not control my environmental triggers had other plans. It would create a panic that would lead to confusion, then frustration. Then, the trigger event happens and then boom….pop goes the mommy.

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Photo Credit New Scientist

I try to think back on all the times that I could feel my friends and family’s eyes on me, as I was triggered by the kids, dog, losing my keys or cell phone, or whatever. It was almost as if, in an instant, I would watch myself from outside my body. Normalcy would give way to rage, rage ended always in guilt, and all throughout this cycle, my inner voice is begging me,

200“Stop it this ISN’T a big deal! Breathe. Just please Breath.”

 

After my episode was over, I would go immediately into the depression cycle over the way I had “behaved” because I should have control over it. I would be so embarrassed for my family, that I’d regularly cry by myself or with my husband for significant periods of time over the next day or so. I’d then chalk it up to a bad day, pick myself up, and tell myself I’d never let it happen again.

But it always did.

The things is, I could not control it. It had its raging claws stuck in my brain, puppeteering me through episodes that could last seemingly for hours.

Thanks to Carolyn Wagner and her post on Motherly on a particularly bad day, I read what seem like a perfect description for what my postpartum symptoms were. I could never solidly say I was depressed or anxious all the time, but one thing I could always rely on, was having an anger button with a hair trigger.

When broken down though, Wagner explains it most perfectly by saying,

“In overwhelmed,  guilt 

I mean, Ding friggin’ ding. In one paragraph, I was given the gift I had always needed…… to feel UNDERSTOOD.

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She goes on to say that it “  

But how can this be? I am a strong woman. I have a support system. I have a great life, with GREAT kids. BUT, none of my friends or family had ever mentioned this type of symptom before. I hadn’t really even seen it as a doula!  I allowed that feeling of abnormality assist in isolating my rage, as I saw myself separate from my peers.  This is what created room for false perception to take over within me. AKA, self- judgement.

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After I peeled myself off the floor in a fit of tears, I immediately shared it on social media with Carolyn’s words still echoing in my head. The feedback was almost instant.

I really am not alone.

This symptom doesn’t go unnoticed, but it does seemingly get brushed under the rug in conversation. I believe it is more taboo because it is ugly, uncomfortable, and well……..angry.  Until now, I had felt that I had part monster inside of me. I even called it “Monster Mommy” while

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Photo from Readers Digest

apologizing to my family after calming down from an episode. Since I have been gifted a jumping off point towards being more informed about Postpartum Rage, I can now start creating awareness of its episodes within myself and with my support system. With this mindful awareness, I can understand what sets me off at it’s core, and avoid getting myself into those situations.

 

In cases where triggers are unavoidable, I have enlisted the help of my husband. As per the article, I would track when and what would set me off. We came up with a code phrase, “you are spinning” to alert my brain to what is about to happen. And, I dare say, it has been a powerful helper. We worked together to find one that wouldn’t cause the trigger to go off more immediately such as “calm down” or “you’re getting upset”   <shutter….jaw clench……okay just breath>

No matter what it is you do, there are a few things I want you to know:

  1. It’s okay. And it is okay to talk about it.  Please know that others need to know that this is a SYMPTOM, which means it can be treated.  You can ask your care provider to help you through this time. But please, have a true discussion about it.
  2. There is help. If you are a partner, friend, or family member of someone and you read this, please know that your partner doesn’t want to have this symptom anymore than you or your kids want her to. So don’t be afraid to ask whoever you can for help with it.
  3. You are loved. Self care is extremely important as parents. So, I am letting you know that  shifting into a self-care routine is vital to managing this. Your loved ones will thank your newfound self-care awareness when you learn how to tell when you need a break before you explode.
  4. A recurring theme of mine is that you’re never alone. Ever. And this is no exception.

                              ….It takes a village.

 

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Kristy is a doula, self-care advocate, struggle-bus rider, and mom of 2 in Virginia

 

Public Places, Crowded Spaces

I used to be really, really laid back.  I was so laid back, in fact, that many of my friends would comment about how much they loved having me around in large groups because I was so “go with the flow.”  When we were making plans, and everyone was trying to make a decision, I would often say, “I’m cool with whatever!”  And I meant it.  This wasn’t one of those, “I’m cool with whatever but then will be miserable with the decision.”  I legit would be happy anywhere with anyone and without complaint.

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Then, I had children.  Many people warned me about the ways we change after we make some miniature versions of ourselves.  For the most part, however, for me at least, they were all false.  I’m mostly the same person I was before kids.  Sure, I am a little feistier than my previous self (mess with my kids and you’ll get to see that lovely side of me).  I am still totally fine with going with the flow when it comes to me and plans with my friends.  However, despite all of the ways in which I didn’t change, I managed to change in the one way no one warned me about when it comes to my kids: Anxiety in Crowded Spaces.

I legit worry about people stealing my children.  All.  Of.  The.  Time.  Before I head into the grocery store?  I look for the various exits to make sure I know where they are in case I need to make a run for it.  In Target?  I eye all of the well-meaning strangers and tell my kids to stay in the cart at all times.  Before heading to a theme park like Disney?  Oh, you don’t even want to know.

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This all came to a peak the day after Thanksgiving this year.  My dear friend had this great idea.  “Let’s go to the Children’s Museum!”  I thought this was awesome.  My kids were excited!  This was a place where you could touch and play with everything.  What could be better?  Right?  Right?!?!?

Y’all.  Everyone and their mothers were there.  I am not exaggerating.  There were so many people there that you could barely move without touching another person.  It was the first time I truly realized that new Mommy-Margo no longer is easy-going and go-with-the-flow in public, crowded places with my children.

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I could feel it happening.  I was getting hot.  I was tense and stressed any time I couldn’t see both of my children in the same spot while one was ducking under an exhibit or running around the corner to go up stairs to a slide.

I managed to hold it all in and not verbally fret over my children, save for the occasional, “Hey, Levi, please stay close to your sister!”  Just because I have turned into the worst-case-scenario lady doesn’t mean my children should suffer, right?

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So, since I am a solution-oriented person, I called my OBGYN.  I was like, “Is it possible for me to have post-partum anxiety STILL?!  Two years later?!?”  She then asked me a bunch of questions, including the most important one, which was, “Does this feeling keep you from doing activities like going to the store or going to the museum or the park with your kids?  Does this feeling keep you from sleeping or eating?”  The answer was a no.  “So,” she said, “what you are feeling is the normal fear we all parents have.  It’s due to the news, and the world, and life.  Having children means worrying about them, too.  If you feel like it’s impairing your ability to do normal things, though, you need to schedule a time to come in and see me.”

So sure, I might be that person who, in preparation for a trip to Disney will write my phone number in sharpie on my children’s arms, put a tracker on their body and dress them in bright colors down to their shoes.  But apparently, it’s ok and I’m not alone.

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(This is not my phone number, but… you get the idea!)

Is this all over the top?  Maybe.  Am I resourceful and prepared?  Hell yea.  I am a planner after all.

If you are having these feelings, remember to be honest with yourself.  If it’s causing problems in your life, there are lots of ways out there to deal with it, and lots of professionals ready, willing and able to help you.  The Postpartum Support International website has lots of great resources – and NO, there is no time-limit on when you are considered “postpartum”.

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And, most of all, remember – you aren’t alone.

 

Pathways picture #3Margo is a financial adviser and mom of 2 little ones in Maryland.