Thursday, December 2, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The test results are all in, and a diagnosis has been made. I’m afraid it’s not good news. Apparently, I have had this for many years and it’s gone unchecked, ignored, and brushed off as other issues. In fact, it appears that many of my health issues—eczema, depression, weight gain, digestive issues—are actually caused by this very same problem. It can lead to other problems too—heart attack, stroke, auto-immune disorders, memory loss, and others.
It is also very difficult to cure. There is no pill to take that will heal it. Treating this disease will take major changes physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I suffer from overwhelming stress. Telling you that is, sadly, very difficult. That’s because I don’t like being a burden to anyone, I don’t want anyone to know I’m not as tough as they think, and I am a perfectionist. I take on too much, I am a workaholic, and I enjoy taking care of other people to the neglect of taking care of myself. It’s not just the amount of stress I take on, I also do not respond well to stress. I withdraw, I obsess, and/or I get angry. Pretty much, if there is a bad way to respond—that’s what I do.
I’ve been told by several people that I am intimidating. Not that I’m threatening or mean, but I do seem strong and confident all the time. A woman spoke to me today, and she is one of the few people in my life who was unabashedly forward with me—not intimidated in the slightest. This was remarkable to me. I want to share with you some of the things she said to me.
If you’re perfect, why are you here?
This is going to stick in my head for a long time. She said, “If you’re perfect, than why are you here? You might as well be in heaven.” Wow. I know perfectionism isn’t right or God’s desire for me. I know in my heart that I was made perfect through Christ’s blood—HECK, I even told a friend that recently! I’ve got the words, read the scripture, and KNOW what’s good and right. Try telling my head to follow along though. (If you can’t tell, or didn’t know—I tend to be a bit stubborn & hard-headed.) Her point was to make me understand that I need to accept my own imperfection.
Leaders need to be real.
This woman also told me that people are more apt to follow when they know their leader is real. Let them see you cry from time to time, she said. It makes them feel they can relate to you, and they are more willing to follow someone that is real. This was a novel concept to me. This has never been the picture of leadership I’ve held in my mind. I don’t have to have it all together all the time, and people appreciate that.
Those are choices YOU made.
I’m such a hypocrite. I say this all the time to women I counsel. I often feel as if I don’t have a choice. My mind easily twists things to make me believe that I must or have to do this or that. I mean, if I don’t, who will? Even my GI doc said, those things will get done. To which I responded, Yes because I will get them all done. Yikes. I struggle with saying no. I am getting better, even my husband told me that today, but I still choose daily to take on as much as possible. I carry the load for all because it’s my nature to take care of everyone. Then when it’s overwhelming, I suffer physical pain.
I also choose to RESPOND the way that I do. This will be the most difficult thing to change. Even though I’m getting better at saying no, I’m horrible at responding well to stress. I typically shove it down or burst out—depending on the situation.
So, here’s where I show vulnerability *gulp* and ask for help. How do you choose to respond to stress? Let’s make a good, long list of ideas for me to try. Do you count to ten when the boss is screaming? Do you have a special prayer? Sip some tea? When the bills need paying, and the kids are fighting—what do you do? (Please, let’s also be realistic. I’m a working mom of two—though I’d love a good soak in the tub, it’s not going to happen on a daily or evenly weekly basis. Especially since our bathroom is still being repaired.) Let’s make it an experiment. I’ll give each idea a try every week, and then report back. While you come up with some ideas, I’m going to go do something that relaxes and stresses me at the same time—knit.
Friday, June 4, 2010
It breaks my heart to hear this mother perfectly innocent and naive about birth--who doesn't understand the difference between natural and vaginal birth. Why is it that we spend so much time deciding what color to paint the nursery, but seem to put seconds into understanding birth? Why is that okay with so many? Birth education is essential to our country's health and well-being. Understanding terms like natural and vaginal are only the beginning.
It's a delicate conversation to have with this mother. The last thing we as doulas want to do is alienate or make her feel unintelligent. I know I make mistakes as a mother daily, if not hourly, and the last thing I need is guilt or discouragement. Rather, I put my hand on her arm, and with a warm smile I invited her to drop-in on one of my childbirth classes. I ask her "Wouldn't it be great to not have all those wires going in your body?" Or, to go further, "How did you feel when you were induced?" Allowing her to come to understanding, and to her own decisions is vitally important. It's the first step in empowering her in the birth.
When we as mothers and fathers choose to educate ourselves on birth, we're becoming advocates for our children and ourselves. As doulas, it's our duty to ENCOURAGE parents to educate themselves--not just rely on the doula or medical professional.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I am a list-maker. I always have been. My parents recently stopped by with lists I made as a child. My husband found them humorous. Obviously, I haven’t changed much. Even when I was young my lists could stress me out. If I didn’t accomplish what I wrote, or if life didn’t go according to plan—I would be sincerely disappointed.
This year, I’ve started something new. Rather than making a daily to-do list, I make a Ta-Da! List. What's a Ta-Da! List, you ask? Well, it's the reverse of my to do's. It's everything I've accomplished today. I write them as I go about my day. I keep a magnetic pad on the fridge with a bright sharpie nearby. As I walk about the house working on projects, I add on another thing I’ve done. Both the small stuff, like helping my son find a missing toy (a daily adventure), and major jobs like scrubbing the toilets are celebrated as my ta-da’s.
Today’s Ta-Da! List:
Got the 2 year old dressed
Clipped the 2 year old’s finger nails
Went to work for 2 ½ hours
Lunch with husband
Read to & put both kids down for naps
Answered all pending e-mails
Worked on blog
…And the day isn’t over yet!
Do you have those extremely exhausting days that you feel that you never stopped working, and yet nothing seems to be done? Me too. My to-do list is never-ending and ever growing. It’s incredibly disheartening. My Ta-Da! List only lasts a day, but each day is full of ta-da’s. Which, gives me perspective, understanding, and grace when I can’t seem to understand why I couldn’t get more done off my to-do list. It’s also energizing! Seeing what I’ve already been able to do, gives me hope for the remainder of the day.
I haven’t abandoned my to-do list. I love crossing things off it too much to abandon it all together. However, my Ta-Da! List provides me affirmation and encouragement. Give it a try.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and that’s what this story is all about. Basically, it’s what I would teach myself—if I could go back in time. You see, two years ago I made the giant leap of faith to quit my well-paying, well-liked job to be home with my kids. It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions and finances, as well as coming to grips with a new identity.
I hope you’re not like me. I hope that you’ve stumbled across this blog well before making a similar leap. I hope that this will prepare you for the journey, but if you have already jumped head first into stay-at-home(ish) motherhood—there’s something here for you too.
#1 Start Living NOW Like You Will Then
If you’re a two-income household aiming to become a one-income household this is key. Start right now. If you don’t have a budget, make one now. However, use only one income. Write your budget, make your plans, figure out how to live NOW on what you will make then. Take what you currently make, and toss it into a savings account. You’re going to have to get tough and be creative. It’s going to take a lot of extra time while you get organized. Clip coupons, start meal planning, and find ways to tighten the spending now.
A wise friend once said to me that the US government should put a SAHM in charge of balancing the national budget. They’re the best at managing money—only spending what they have and no more.
#2 Find What Works For You
Understand quickly that the way your friends do things—manage their budget, raise their children, run their household—isn’t necessarily they way YOU should do your things. You are not them. Their kids are not your kids.
When I first came home I had no idea what to do. My identity for so long had been a working gal. Even after my first was born, I was still a head-strong working mom—and proud of it! Upon leaving my full-time corporate job I pumped friends for information on how to do this SAHM thing. I am a middle-child, perfectionist, trying-to-please everyone, A-type personality—and darn it, I wanted to get this right. It didn’t take long before I was feeling like a failure trying to live up to standards that didn’t exist, except for in my head.
It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but our family is finding ways of doing everything—schooling, budgeting, cleaning, working—that works for US. So, give yourself a bit of slack, as well as time for learning and growth. Don’t forget that there is an adjustment period too. You and your family will need a bit of time to adjust to mom being home.
#3 This Is A Job
Being home/the primary care-giver is more difficult than a typical full-time job. Your work hours are long. You are not financially compensated. Your clients demand much from you. Your outfits aren’t always as cute, and usually end up covered in either food or other stickiness. Getting out of bed will be just as difficult as before.
How you approach your day is key. You are now the COO of your household. You manage all household and family operations. Get up, showered, and dressed—preparing for a day of work just as before (except you’ll most likely be wearing yoga pants rather than a suit). Use your time just before bed to plan out your day. There are lots of great mom blogs out there that have easy, printable to-do lists and organization forms. Find what works for you. The key here is to take your SAHM job just as seriously as when you were working. If you’re a WAHM you’ve got double-duties. You’re wearing two hats, and will need to devise a way to have balance.
It is a hard job, but it's the best job you will ever have. Two years later, many trials later, I am so thankful we made this leap. Hopefully, with this information you'll be able to avoid many of the mistakes I made, making your leap a leap of joy.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
- Start 'em young.
- Be a good example to them.
- Don't keep junk food in the house. Make it a special occasion.
- Include them in the gardening and the cooking. You'll be shocked how this perks their interest in foods. (Don't give up. O could care less at age 2 about the peas in the garden, but at almost 5 he eats carrots if HE gets to chop them.) When they get older, they'll be part of the menu planning & grocery shopping.
- Make good choices when eating out.
- Avoid fried and processed at all costs.
- When you travel, have them try the local food. (Unless you're in the deep-fried south.) ;)
- Be honest. If it's spicy, tell them. If it's sweet, tell them. Talk about what you're eating--where it came from, how it got to their plates, etc. Make food interesting. Tell them about the vitamins and good things in their food, and how it effects their body. (I also like to tell them how hard candy gets stuck in their teeth and causes tooth decay. This back fires when I get caught eating sweets or junk food.)
- Create a monthly meal plan, seasonally based. Once you have a couple months down, you can just rotate various meals throughout the weeks in the season. Batch cooking & freezing will save you from last minute take out.
- Don't beat yourself up for not being "perfect." No one is perfect. Do your best, and try to have fun with your food. If it's your only focus, you're going to get stressed. I'm betting even the "experts" have ice cream for dinner from time to time. At least that's what I told myself when I had cookies for breakfast this morning.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The following is a testimonial from one of our most recent clients. Thanks, Alexa!
"Tamara’s knowledge, experience and compassion are incredible!
It was my dream to have a natural, drug-free childbirth with as few interventions as possible. But since this was my first pregnancy, I felt uncertainty and wonder about what might be achievable. Since my husband shared both my dream and the concerns about what labor and delivery would entail, we enlisted Tamara and the Nurtured Mother team as another source of support.
My husband and I benefitted greatly from the in-depth, personalized childbirth classes with Tamara and her partner, Kristin. Their recommended exercises, relaxation techniques and nutritional suggestions helped my body get a healthy jumpstart on dilation and effacement. Meanwhile Tamara’s partner, Billie, helped me achieve peace and relaxation with prenatal massage.
Then, when it came time for my labor and our daughter’s birth, Tamara was an indispensable asset who helped both me and my husband focus on our strengths as we used all of the resources available to us and within us—mentally, physically and spiritually.
We achieved our goal of a natural, drug-free childbirth with minimal interventions (the routine buff cap [no IV fluids or drugs pushed]), a fetal monitor for my child since meconium was present when my water broke and an episiotomy). Our daughter had very high Apgar scores, immediately bonded with Mom and Dad and took to breastfeeding like a pro. I have no doubt that our success and wellness has been impacted by the care Tamara and the Nurtured Mother doulas provided.
The team at Nurtured Mother has touched our lives. We will be working with Tamara, Kristin and Billie again when it comes time to have another child."
Saturday, January 9, 2010
- When we looked over our grocery list we realized it was going to be expensive. Our limited budget meant we needed to get creative. We cut a lot of the recipes we found online, and decided that we'd make beans, vegetables, and rice into an art form.
- One of our other goals for 2010 is still live more sustainably, eating local, in-season & from our own garden. Obviously, being that it's the middle of winter our garden isn't producing, and most vegetables and fruits at the store are being shipped from other places. This was disheartening for both of us, and we almost rescheduled the detox. I knew that if we rescheduled we may not ever really get moving on our goals. So, we did yet another revision of the list to somehow make it work--definitely had to make compromises on both sides (palatable detox recipes and finding foods that are more sustainable). I'm happy though that we're doing this now, not just for momentum's sake, but also to prepare us to eat what we can grow or get locally later this year.
- The kids aren't technically detoxing with us, but we want them to try the various new foods we're eating. The hummus was definitely not a hit with them. However, they are thrilled with the "simple" dinner we enjoyed. Eden gobbled up every bite and asked for more. I did include grilled chicken on their plates.
- Tiredness. Oy. As if I wasn't tired already. I can tell that I'm going to be zonked this week. By 8:30 p.m. I was falling asleep on the couch.