Self-Care

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Every once in awhile I take time to write on self-care. In this fast paced life, it is hard to slow down to take care of ourselves. Self-care is viewed as sloth, when in reality, it is the practice that helps us work harder and longer.

A few of my close friends and I were talking about self-care in terms of a gas tank. Motherhood can often leave our tanks on empty, so going out to get our hair done, or taking a zumba class helps to fill it. However, when our tanks are SO depleted, we need to fill them multiple times before we are ready for another road trip. Maybe a trip to the gym makes the tank go up one gas gauge, but going out for drinks later that night makes it go up another. We have to stack these moments and even set aside time for them DAILY in order to keep functioning within the endless road trip that is life and motherhood.

Last week, there were multiple events that had me “on call” with certain members of my family. I love them, and happy to give them the 24/7 care that they some times require, but it was time to fuel up. I painted my nails, made banana bread, put out some candles and bought myself my favorite flowers. Those are all tiny things that boost my mood and can make a big difference in my day. Later tonight, I am going to zumba with a friend, which is another way I invest in being a better mother. You don’t have to only chose one solitary thing that you are “allowed” to make yourself feel better; and it isn’t selfish to need multiple activities or social interactions before you start feeling like “yourself” again. It’s not selfishness, it is mental health care and mood nourishment. Do it, and it may even help you become more productive in other areas of your life.

originally posted on my column at mytrendingstories.com

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Continuing Celebrations

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After the holidays, most people talk about there being a slump. Well, in our family we have J’s birthday come at the end of January, then we will have Cora’s 1st birthday in February, a bit of a lull in March, Easter in April, and then we are going to go to California again in May (which is also Sophie’s birthday month!) Many exciting things will be happening for us this year, and I’m hoping to make 2017 a good one.

I wanted to brag about how we will be celebrating well into summer, but also I wanted to share my resolutions with you. Here they are:

  1. Be more aware of spending. I know this is a resolution for many people EVERY year, but this is the first time this resolution has made it to my list. With 2 kids and a mortgage, I need to make a better effort of limiting my spending.
  2. Move more. Notice how I DIDN’T say “go to the gym ___ times a week.” Nope. My resolution is just to move more. Whether that means playing at the park with my kids, taking them to the mall to walk around, or hopping on my stationary bike in the basement, I need to get my body moving!
  3. Eat healthier. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I say it every year. Seriously though? I’m addicted to sugar. Like, once I have it, I keep craving it and thinking bout it until I can eat some thing sweet again. I’m hoping the more I move my body, the more I will crave foods that can sustain energy and therefore keep me moving.
  4. Be nicer to myself. Last year I had a mean battle with depression and anxiety. A lot of the time, I was being way too hard on myself! I am so gentle, compassionate, and understanding with many of my friends, s why can’t I give myself that same courtesy?

What are your resolutions?

Postpartum Depression

I have debated on whether or not I publicly wanted to declare that I am suffering with postpartum depression, and have since decided that it would be more therapeutic and healing for me to write about it, then to put effort into concealing it.

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I have been on a long and exhausting journey, and I wish I could say I have reached my destination but the reality is, I am still on the road to recovery. I don’t know when I will feel comfortable writing about my experience from start to finish, but today I wanted to reveal my very first encounter with a psychiatrist when I first started treatment. This doctor was horrible, and I’m not just saying that because I am “ill” or because she told me things I didn’t want to hear; I’m saying that because she had no clue about postpartum depression and was less than qualified to do her job. To any woman who has attempted to get care and been treated this way, I am sorry. I am sorry that our system failed  you. I am sorry that you may have even given up seeking treatment because of a bad experience. I am sorry that mental health care professionals carry stigmas against their own patients. I know; I experienced it.

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I remember walking into her office, alone, afraid, and completely vulnerable. Her space was the epitome of a psyche ward: cold pale tile floors, white walls with various dents and scratches, and bright fluorescent lights that occasionally flickered.  As I explained my symptoms she interrupted me and in a very brash tone assumed “This is your first baby, huh?” I remember being taken aback that I would A) be interrupted just as I am bearing my soul and B) to have an assumption made about me by some one who had only known me for a total of 3 grand minutes. “No,” I replied, “This is my second child, which is why I didn’t expect–” Interrupting again, she just couldn’t hold back her surprise at being so painfully wrong. “Second child? That is very unusual. Are you sure you weren’t depressed with your first? It isn’t common to have depression with your second child and not your first.” And that’s when it hit me, I wasn’t going to receive a fair assessment and this doctor was going to do every thing possible, even imagine a history of depression in me, in order to make my illness fit her perception of what Postpartum Depression looks like.

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When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, she ended our appointment by asking me, “Do you want to have any more children?” I told her, “Yes, my husband and I would like to have a large family some day.” With a cold, domineering expression she said, “You may want to reconsider. I would probably stop having children in your situation.”

In a society where it is a CARDINAL SIN to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body, an incompetent doctor who had assessed me for only 20 minutes decided I should never procreate ever again. This was my first experience receiving psychiatric care for my postpartum depression. Perhaps to some it sounds dramatic, but I am completely serious when I say that the care I received was criminal. It amplified my symptoms of feeling like a failure, feeling guilty, feeling crazy

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I have since found a therapist who specializes in Postpartum Depression, who cried when I told her of this account. She is the one who made me feel human again. She is the one who gave me hope that I could get better and go on to be an amazing, wonderful, loving mother [to even MORE children, if I wish!]

If you are struggling with this horrible, awful illness I want you to know 3 things: You are not alone, it is NOT your fault, and with the appropriate care you can get better. For great resources and tools to help you find a specialist, visit http://www.postpartum.net/

Winding Down Summer

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Like a true Californian, I want all the perks of fall time without the weather becoming too much colder. We have some exiting things coming up like : a double date with our friends, an Ohio State football game, and apple picking. I’m looking forward to these events, though still wishing that the warm weather won’t be leaving us.

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Even though I have grown quite fond of the Buckeye state, it is hard for me to reconcile with the impending doom of winter. Earlier in the week, my mom sent me a picture of a shirt that said: “I bake because punching people is frowned upon.” I, of course, laughed… but then I thought a little deeper about it and my love for baking. When the weather changes, I really do go into baking mode, and you can find me in the kitchen almost every day working on a new treat. I always thought that it was because I liked to be by the warm oven while it is cooling off outside. Here is my new theory though, the kitchen is where my expertise in baking collides with irreconcilable mourning of summer.

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I don’t know how or when I will stop longing for sunshine. Of course, I am the one who made the decision to stay out here in Ohio, so there must have been a good reason for leaving California. But like most decisions, we forget why we make the changes we do. We choose to see the past through the most flattering of lenses. Even though I know this, the weather still tugs on my heart strings and makes me question where I live and why I can’t go back to the golden state. So, I bake. I measure, I read recipes, I focus… it is where what I don’t know collides with what I do know.

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My mind is clear when I am in the kitchen. I carefully read instructions, take care when using specific tools, and improve my technique when I can. Baking is some thing that, when you follow the instructions and do the best you can, you will always get a perfect result. In life, [or at least in my own life] the reaction is almost always opposite. You can try your best, do every thing “right” and things may still not work out. I can control the speed on my mixer, but what I can’t control is every element affecting my everyday life. And so, I bake…

Movin’ on Up

Some of you may have heard, J and I are house hunting! I now have an excuse for binge watching anything HGTV related! In all seriousness, we live in a more depressed area, and while the town itself is working on revitalization, the homeowners in the area haven’t been. Many of the homes, while beautifully built in the early 1900’s haven’t been updated since the 70’s [if you’re lucky] and have other damage, whether it be water, electrical, foundation, etc.

90% of the options in our price range are “fixer uppers” which has sent me straight to Pinterest. As much as I’d love to go totally modern in our new house, I have to try to be realistic with the furniture and things we already own. If we have to shell out money on re-wiring a house, then I can’t blow money on trendy furniture. Right now we have furniture in neutral colors such as brown and cream, but we also have darker jewel tones like emerald and sapphire blue chairs. Eventually, we can exchange those items, but for our first few years in a new house, we’ll have to work with them. Here are my current inspirations for our potential new home:

 

For the kitchen, I’m drawn to crisp white cabinets. As much as J had been trying to talk me out of it on account of our children and their filthy hands, we recently looked at a house with a newly renovated kitchen white white cabinetry and he couldn’t deny how nice it looked. One house we had our eye on also had granite counter tops [which is pretty rare for this area, but the previous owner was said to have been a doctor]. The granite is dark, which is another reason I’d lighten that kitchen up with white cabinets. If we were doing a remodel, I’d like to have lighter colored quartz counter tops with grey cabinets, but that would be a huge expense.

The bathrooms have to be the first thing we remodel. They have not been updated or had anything replaced since the 1950’s. Yes, that’s right, THE FIFTIES. Imagine pink and mint tile. Even in the other homes we’ve seen, the bathrooms usually have fixtures from the 70’s and 80’s. For a half bath, I’d do some thing clean and simple. like the picture above with the gorgeous mirrors and chocolate vanity. If we’re lucky enough to get a house with a master bathroom, I’d like it to have a little more personality, like a dip-dyed shower curtain.

The bedrooms I’d like to keep fairly plain and simple, only because I imagine us rearranging our future children in and out of various rooms. Maybe we need a nursery for 5 years, but then can it be a play room? A formal guest room? An office? We have girls right now, but can I transform the place for a boy with minimal effort? The color grey is surprisingly versatile.

For some reason I’m really drawn to having a navy blue dining room. I feel like it sets a more formal tone while still tying into the scheme of the rest of the house.

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As far as the family room goes, we have a lot of mismatched furniture, but I want to try and make that work for us. We have a matching couch and love seat, as well as coffee and end tables that are all a dark brown. That should be a solid foundation for the room that I can mix and match other quirky pieces with. As for paint, we have brown walls in our current house and I am tired of the brown-on-brown darkness it creates. I’d like to lighten up a living room with a light blue that ties into the rest of the house while balancing the other dark furniture. If I can find a cute navy rug [like the one pictured above] as a nod to the navy dining room, even better!

Maybe it’s too much blue, maybe these smaller updates are still more than we can afford… but I have to have some thing to look forward to and imagine in my mind as we look through all these houses. I’m trying not to get discouraged, as this whole process is really overwhelming for a first-time buyer, but keeping inspiration like this in the back of my mind helps to keep me feeling positive about the whole experience.

 

[all photos were found via Pinterest]