There is no such thing as a “Perfect Mother”

I’ll get it right out of the way right off the bat, there is no such thing as a perfect mother. What there is, is a society that communicates to mothers that that actually exists, and until we meet that measure, we are failures.

This isn’t a surprise to me. Every phase of my life as a female, I have been challenged by society in a way that’s unfair, demanding, and unrealistic. The pressure to be thin, successful, nurturing, strong but not too strong, a mother, a daughter, a sex object, hairless, odorless, beautiful, and the list goes on.

As a mother, society finds new ways to shed light on our imperfections. That ads that I am bombarded with cater to that. The BEST baby food, the $1500 strollers, the baby bassinets, the weight loss items, the programs, and forget about all the moms on my facebook who have joined multi-level marketing companies that prey on the vulnerability of moms and their new bodies. These weight loss programs that masquerade as empowerment, when in reality, they ask for lots of money, and to push your message to your facebook circle to the point of oblivion. Regardless of those individual moms’ intentions, it stops feeling genuine and reads as formulaic.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the bombardment of “wino” culture. The glasses that say “Mommy’s Juice,” and the normalization of drinking alcohol, as if that’s the only thing to make it through a day of parenting.

Look, I get it. A beer or two, or a glass of wine is so nice once in a while, but we should be okay with actually feeling feelings, too. It’s perfectly okay to have a rough day and a hard cry without self-medicating.  We aren’t any less of mothers if we don’t “keep it together.”

My measure for being a great mother is if I wake up each day and give it my all as a mother. My child’s needs are met, he is fed, loved, and mostly clean. My child has really rotten days, like today, where has screamed for 20 minutes for no apparent reason. I just held him. He writhed, he grabbed and ripped my hair, and I just sang and soothed him anyway. I am wearing the same “home” outfit as I was yesterday and I feel absolutely no shame. I am tired. My son was up all night and we were both up at 5:00am. I even let him watch Jim Henson’s Word Party on Netflix. I made it through. I did what I had to do, so for me, that is a win.

There’s a myth floating around that women can have it all. It’s just simply not true. There is too much expected of us, and at any given moment, something will have to be sacrificed. I have friends with high powered jobs, and every once in a while, those jobs take a back burner. Or their kids do. Their kids of course are cared for and loved whether it be a daycare, parent or nanny, but the truth is, we can’t do it all. There is no shame for that. Society isn’t set up in a way that women can. At least not yet. What we can do is celebrate our daily successes, marvel at our ability to do it, period, and how strong we are for constantly waking up each day, and doing the dang thing all over again.

So, today, I choose to celebrate myself as a mom, because I work my tail off. And I know, that each and every one of you do, too. So let’s rejoice on all the things we did accomplish today, rather than the things we didn’t. There is no such thing as a “perfect” mother. What there is are tons of moms, working day in and day out to make sure their littles are loved, cared for, and happy. And that to me, is the only acceptable definition for perfection that I’ll measure myself to.

 

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I am Going On a 30 Day “Buy Ban”

My husband and I have finally gotten the opportunity to move to our dream city, and we will be selling our house. Due to some naive first-time buying decisions, we probably will only break even on our house, and then lose all the money we put in it to get in in selling condition. That leads me to my decision to try a 30 day buy ban, where I seek to save money by not buying anything that isn’t absolutely essential. This means groceries, stuff for Shep (our 7 month old) and for the dogs.

I have noticed since being a SAHM, I end up scrolling on my phone more than I care to admit. Shep is captivating and wonderful, but sometimes it’s just nice to have a distraction that makes me feel more like an adult. Facebook has also recently gotten much more aggressive at Ad targeting me. Probably because they know everything, and know I am at home on my Facebook. And probably because I have responded to these ads with a purchase. Guilty! They get me with their macrame wall dressings, bohemian dresses, organic and fresh baby food, recycled bottle shoes, and it goes on. Anyway, my point is, I have become slightly less conscious of a consumer.

I used to pride myself on being a pretty conscious consumer but I have noticed that PayPal, Facebook and Amazon, have made it way too easy to make a purchase. Express check out, Buy Now, One Click… It’s way too easy! I realized that I have falled prey to having a thought and immediately looking it up on Amazon and quickly convincing myself that I need it. “It’s only $8.99 so it’s totally fine.” That’s when I bought Shep knee pads and then found out babies don’t even have knee caps so I totally don’t need knee pads. I returned them, for the record.

At least once a week there’s a brown and blue package in my driveway. It’s always something I deem a necessity, but I swear before Amazon I didn’t buy things this often. I start to question if the things that I need, I actually need.

Every month we save the maximum amount into my husband’s 401k and retirement accounts, but we otherwise, almost save nothing. If we ran into an emergency, we would have to use credit. We want to be in a place where that’s not the case, and there’s no reason that we can’t do that. I am hoping that this experience will help me return to my more conscious consumer roots and force me to think about purchases for longer than it takes to click, “Buy Now.”

 

My Birth Story

I went into my first pregnancy pretty unaware of what was to ahead of me. It wasn’t exactly planned, but I have a feeling no matter when we had a baby, it wouldn’t hit me until I was pregnant that there is so much that I didn’t know about pregnancy. I wasn’t even really sure exactly what happened during birth. Besides the movie version of birth which starts exactly the same way- woman is at her job, or dinner, or asleep, and all of the sudden has water flowing EVERYWHERE. She immediately goes to the hospital in whatever position she is in and gives birth hours later.

Turns out, that’s not what happens at all. Or at least, it wasn’t what happened for me.

I started reading lots of books on natural birthing and pregnancy. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was practically my blueprint for how I envisioned my birth. I knew that I wanted to attempt natural birth, and chose to do Hypnobabies. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a program you do either at-home or in class, I chose at-home. You practice different hypno-tracks to prepare you mentally for childbirth alongside childbirth education. The purpose is to use different language to reframe the experience, all positive, use hypnosis and to listen to affirmations track daily to see the experience as beautiful, pain-free and powerful.

I spent months doing this course. I felt empowered some days, and closer to the end annoyed as hell. The affirmation track had this cloyingly positive woman who would tell me endlessly how healthy my pregnancy was, and how much I “enjoyed” being pregnant. For the record, I didn’t. I didn’t hate it, but I become as huge as a house by the end and I was so swollen I had one pair of shoes I could wear. Everything was painful.

I went to appointments at a nurse-midwife clinic and somehow ended up at Maternal Fetal Specialists for the baby’s arrhythmia that ended up being benign. However, during these visits, they decided to tell me that because of that baby’s size I should continue to go because my baby at the rate of growth my baby was at he would eventually be considered dangerous to deliver- 5000g- 11lbs. At my last visit, a week before my “due” date, they told me the baby was measuring 10lbs, 15 ounces and at birth would be well above that “limit.” They called the OB that ran my nurse-midwife group, and recommended a primary C-section. I expected the doctor to say he disagreed, but my holistic doctor, said he agreed. I had chosen a very holistic nurse-midwife group and all of the sudden I was being confronted with the fact that a C-Section could be pushed on me before I even had a chance to birth. I went ahead and scheduled the C-section for the following Wednesday, and cried the rest of the day. And then I cried for crying because I didn’t want to stress out the baby. I texted my doula, unable to talk, and asked for non-medical advice.

In the end, I decided to try to birth my baby first. I figured I was in a hospital and if I needed a cesarean, then I would have at least tried. After all, ultrasounds are not accurate and even then many women have birthed extremely large babies.

I did opt for getting my membranes stripped. Luckily my midwives were on board with my plan, and my favorite, Beverly, was especially so. The next day after my membranes were stripped, 2am on a Thursday, I started feeling very intense contractions (hypnobabies taught us to say “waves”). These kept coming. I knew that it would be hours for them to be strong enough to go to a hospital, so I labored all day (once again, not hypnobabies proper language) before heading to the hospital around 8pm. My contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and right on top of each other.

When I got to the hospital, they told me I was only 3cm dilated, but 75% effaced. I was so disappointed. I had been dealing with contractions for 24 hours and in the last four or five they had gotten so intense. They told me I could be experiencing prodromal labor, and that my body was contracting but not doing the “work.” I was sent home after given a shot of morphine for “therapeutic sleep.” Well, that night was anything but therapeutic. I spent most of the evening in the shower moaning through each contraction. I was listening to my hypnobabies tracks with my headband headphones, but they were ceasing to do much except force me to try to focus with every fiber of my being.

At a certain point, I just could not listen to them anymore. I kept a positive mindset, so in that regard, hypnobabies remained helpful. I finally went back in early the next morning. It was pouring rain and I had to hobble my way in huge puddles of murky water. I pleaded my way to a room. I told them I couldn’t do this at home anymore and needed help. I was exhausted. I had hardly eaten a thing. Eight hours prior I think I managed to down a noodle miso soup from a cup I had gotten from Trader Joe’s. It probably had 100 calories. I was nauseous and felt so much intensity I could barely function, let alone, eat.

I realized when they said I had barely made any progress all night long, that I wasn’t able to do this for potentially another 24 hours. I couldn’t sleep, I could barely rest and I needed some relief. I asked for an epidural around 32 hours. The epidural was a dream come true. Rob and I both slept for four hours and it was possibly the greatest sleep of my life. When I woke, my nurse-midwife checked me and although she normally wouldn’t suggest breaking waters, she told me it was probably my best chance of things progressing at all. I had dilated to 5cm during my epidural sleep and my body was finally looking ready.

Water gushed everywhere. It was the strangest sensation I have ever felt. Well, besides a baby kicking me from the inside. From then on, it got excruciating. My hips felt agonizing. They were expanding at a rate that felt unnatural, although since it was happening, it had to have been. They started me on Pitocin, a very slow drip, but I felt every drip of it. I begged for another epidural and at this point, completely forgot anything hypnobabies prepared me to do. This was survival. I was begging every single person that came into the room, “PLEASE HELP ME” as if anyone could help me in that situation except myself.

The next epidural didn’t work. And the third didn’t either. I was pressing my pain killer button, and absolutely nothing worked. It was like throwing spoonfuls of water at a raging fire. The placebo effect of doing something seemed to at least distract me. Near the end, I swore I wasn’t able to do it. At 40 hours in, I was finally ready to push. I used a sheet held by my midwife to bear down. I pushed with everything in mine. I wasn’t afraid of tearing or pooping. I knew I had to give it everything in me.

My doula was starting to look nervous and suggested I push with everything in me. I knew then that the situation was turning dire. I had worked so hard to get to this point, and while I had no shame in receiving an emergency c-section, I had spent so many hours laboring and it was almost painful to think they were for nothing. In the moment, those were my only thoughts. In retrospect, those hours would never have been for “nothing” but it was my only resolve in that moment to move forward.

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As the baby came close to coming out, the doctor came in to do a vacuum assist. This was my last chance. I had three pushes before they would stop using it and wheel me into the OR. Rob looked to me and said, “Push like it means everything to you. This is it.” And in three pushes, Shepard came flying out of me. He had his head out the first push, and second he wriggled, and third he slipped right out. He knew exactly what to do. I sobbed and sobbed. I held this foreign yet so familiar child close to me and felt so whole. All the pain subsided entirely.

Shepard wasn’t 11lbs either, he was 21 1/4 inches and 9lbs 12 ounces. A large baby, but one I was able to birth. It wasn’t the “natural” drug-free birth I imagined, but it was the exact birth I needed to have to have my baby. Shepard is now 7 months, and I look at those beautiful birth photos and am so grateful for the experience I had. A healthy mother and a healthy baby is a beautiful and perfect birth, no matter what happens.

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How to Not Lose Yourself In Motherhood

One of the biggest struggles I have endured during my seven short months of motherhood is the looming fear that I am no longer myself. In some ways, that’s absolutely true. I am a mother now and what I prioritize, how I see myself in the mirror, and my entire perspective has shifted. However, I still have the same values, morals, goals, set of beliefs, and general interests.

The first few months are especially rough because your identity has become all about being a mother. You’re in the fourth trimester, ushering your baby into the world, and your baby needs you more now than they ever will. During this time it feels like you will never get dressed in a normal outfit again, and the person staring back at you in the mirror with bags under your eyes, barf on your shirt is almost unrecognizable. Your body is changing back… it’s honestly just a very extreme time. It’s important to remember this is temporary. Time is always going to be in short supply as a mother, but during this time, there is almost no supply of it.

In those months, I considered who I was, what my value was, and if my husband would still love me if my main job was being a booby and diaper-changing machine. And yes, he did love me still, and is in constant awe of me. He reminds me every day that being a mother is the hardest job in the world. I would agree, and add, that it’s the hardest and most important job in the world.

The title “mother” is a huge part of my identity now, but I have found a place for that amongst all the other things that I am. I am a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a certified yoga instructor, a writer, a blogger, a lover of the outdoors, an animal lover, and a good home cook.

I challenge you to ask yourself what makes you, well you. How do those things fit into your life now? Maybe it’s too soon to integrate every hobby or activity back into your life but maybe there are small ways to introduce them into your new life. I can’t go to a yoga studio yet, but I’ve developed a much stronger home practice. I even stretch and so positions around my baby while he’s doing his own form of yoga.

I don’t write as often as I’d like and the subject matter has changed, but I still write. It might not be groundbreaking fiction or prose that’s particularly inspiring, but I am writing and I am doing what every writer has to write about, what they know.

Maybe your identity is rooted in your career and you’re taking time off. It is ok to do that. Your job will still be there. You are still valuable and your experience as a mother will only enrich your career, no matter what it is! That’s the amazing thing about motherhood.

The take away: you are still you, just a more multifaceted you. Add another hyphen to you. You are awesome, you are valuable, and being a mother is so important and worthy of so much praise. So if you’re not going enough praise, praise yourself for doing this thing day (and night) in and out!

Being a Mom is Hard (Duh)

Ok, so I haven’t posted on here in almost the entire time I have had a child. I also haven’t filled out nearly enough of my baby’s babybook. I didn’t even get the kind where you have to decorate it yourself. It’s all laid out for you, all you have to do is write little blurbs, and post pictures of all the moments i.e. First Valentine’s Day- as if I bought an outfit for that one? For the record, he is wearing an off-white onesie with an onion on it that says “Cry Baby.” It was a hand-me-down and somehow back then I couldn’t tell that it was way too small so he resembles a sausage coming out of its casing.

My point is, I have one child and I am exhausted. They say that the first kid gets the best baby book. Well, at this point, my other children will be lucky to get photos. This is not in some quest to fear-monger around parenting. I got plenty of that when I was pregnant. It’s to just normalize the fact that life gets really hard when you have a baby, and if you are ever made to feel like you don’t have it together because your baby didn’t have a Valentine’s Day outfit, that’s garbage. None of us have it together. Not really at least. Even if your kid did manage to get that Valentine’s Day outfit (I DID get my son a Fourth of July outfit), it also doesn’t mean you have it together the picture perfect life. It just means you probably went to Target for some retail therapy and happened to pass by the baby aisle.

I used to look at my other friends with babies and say, “oh, well mine sleeps so much worse.” Or, “their baby is so easy.” But, FIRST OFF, comparison is an absolute THIEF, and second, it might be true, but it’s probably not. Or at least not in the way you think it is. Every one of my mom friends has their own set of struggles. One may have an “easy” baby (I mean, one that sleeps), but maybe their first child didn’t sleep a wink.  Or maybe they’re struggling with postpartum depression. There is so much to take apart, and in the end, it’s not productive to think you’re the only one struggling.

With all of that said, I really love being a mother. I really do. The really bad teething nights that end in my son wedged between me and my husband result in waking to a toothy-gummy smily combo looking up at us like a pure sun beam, closely resembling the sun in Teletubbies (FYI, that baby is also now a mom). My husband just gave me a break, and my son is spending the time away from me looking for me around every corner. He spots me and smiles ear to ear. My husband said, “things seem better.” I half smile. He says, “You’re not crying anymore.” I say, “That was two hours and a nap ago. My son needs me.” That and flipping the light switch on from his nap and seeing his face completely light up is enough to fill me back up.

We were at a brewery/pizza joint combo and ran into a dad and his three kids. I had mentioned jokingly, “some days I want a whole tribe, and then others I can almost be content with one. It gets easier, right?!” I said that looking so desperately for the “yes.” After all his adorable daughters were playing peacefully and his eldest son was throwing darts and making jokes and somehow not injuring himself or anyone else. He said, “It doesn’t. But you change. My wife and I aren’t the same people we used to be.” It was really wise. Granted, I am pretty sure this guy was a mega church youth group pastor and just had the ability to say these things with the right intonations and the right amount of sighing at the end that makes you truly believe it, but I had to in that moment. Because it already resonated with me. I looked at my husband, bopping around my son, trying to dissuade him from grabbing the last slice of our artisanal vegan pizza, and simultaneously appear to be engaged in the conversation. We had been passing him back and forth and still somehow managed to keep our cool. We were laughing, chatting, and truly enjoying ourselves. We have become the better parts of ourselves.

Your child has a way of doing that. You see this product of yourselves that is so truly a new entity. There is no ego, no pride, no damage. Just pure optimism, joy, and honesty. It encourages you to be present. That each moment means so much to a child and every moment with your child means so much to them. All those times you want to give up are completely erased when you realize how important you are to your child’s existence and for some reason, your God, or the Universe, has chosen you to guide them. And that, is the most special thing about being a parent.

Journey to Healing and Motherhood

I am nearing my birthing time. I am 34 weeks. I have spent so much time reflecting on this pregnancy. It’s taken a lot of work to truly accept myself. The growth that I’ve encountered is tremendous.

I started out nervous, afraid, slightly unstable and skeptical of my ability to do this.

Last year was arguably the worst year of my life. Past pains surfaced with no where left to go, and I had to deal with them. And unfortunately my way of dealing with them was to self-medicate. I drank too much, I developed a more serious cigarette smoking habit, and altogether was unable to cope. Rob and I had one of the most trying years of our relationship. I was resentful he wasn’t there for health issues that I experienced in the way I needed him to be. He was resentful that it didn’t seem like I was able to do anything. That when I did do things, I seemed scattered, weak, and barely being held together by loose, poorly sewn seams.

We chose to leave New York City partially because it was the best things for us, and the best things for my healing. The frenetic energy of the city paralleled with my inner turmoil was too much. My pain and anxiety was seeping into Rob’s life and the spiral of pain and anxiety didn’t seem to have a stopping point. We agreed something quieter, calmer, and new would help. In most cases, I don’t suggest people move to get a new start, but New York City is a different animal. After almost 10 years there, I had turned into something and someone I was not. I didn’t recognize the underweight, sallow-faced girl I saw reflected in the mirrors. I couldn’t eat, I slept only at the point of oblivion, and coped moment by moment.

Moving didn’t help right away. What it did was remove me from a place that had been a source of trauma. It was jarring. I was in a rented condo in an Atlanta suburb, alone, with no car, and no job. Rob was working and I was alone. That initial alone time was painful. The dissociation that I felt in New York was beginning to go away. I started seeing more glimpses of who I was. I searched daily for my identity. I grabbed any self-book I could find, and tapped into the one thing that felt healing- movement. Each day, I convinced myself, if I could move for 10 minutes, I would start to feel better. If I could go outside with my dog Bowie, soak in sun, I would feel better.

It wasn’t overnight, but it started to help. There was one day in particular that changed it all. I was hung over. I was upset. I was directionless. Purposeless. I wondered why I had all of these passions and desires, and this inner self that was so rich if all I was doing was sitting in this condo all day. I waited for someone to appear and provide me with answers. I was searching, but I wasn’t being proactive. I read one of my many self-help books I had ordered in a desperate attempt to pull myself out of the darkness. It should be noted, that I was also unable to see a counselor or any type due to a lack of insurance. I read The Four Agreements in one night and it changed my entire world.

I am not in the business of endorsing books, but this one truly changed the way I saw my situation. It was as if someone truly did provide me the answers, but not in the way that I expected. What it showed me was that the world, specifically the hell, that I had been living in, was totally up to me to recreate. Some people might say that’s an oversimplification of what was happening, but as someone who loves to create and has an endless desire for daydreaming, it was so viscerally life changing.

I knew in that moment I could change everything. I could let go all of the old me that burdened me with guilt, shame and embarrassment. That I could forgive myself and forgive others. That even though so many had pained and wronged me, that the person putting myself in the most amount of pain was myself. I was punishing myself daily for my past, for the things I had done to others, and others to me. Instantly, I shed all of it and felt true lightness.

From there, I signed up to do a Yoga Teacher Training program. Yoga had long been a lifeline for me. A true friend. Access to a peacefulness I couldn’t seem to access anyway else. I quit smoking cigarettes. I stopped drinking to excess. I started looking at Rob with clarity and forgiveness. I knew that he had done his best to be there for me. That it wasn’t his job to heal me. That healing had to come from within… From God, from my own given inner strength, but ultimately, it was up to me.

Nearing the end of my Yoga Teacher Training program I found out I was pregnant. After my health issues, one of which involved a miscarriage, felt incredibly healing. It was scary. I was not sure of my newfound positivity and stability and I wasn’t quite sure of Rob and my ability to parent a child. We had been engaged almost a year, but we had work to do still.

But we chose to embrace it. I chose to jump start my progress even more by becoming the best person I could be, this time, not just for me, but for this life growing in me. For the future of my family, for the future of all of us.

It’s remarkable what has happened in these months. I have a blog, I have an online shop, I have a Yoga Teacher Certification, and I am taking classes working towards a goal without being pregnant on this journey I would never be aware I had. Rob and I have a relationship, a marriage, founded with such deep joy, love and upmost respect. There is no resentment. We deeply appreciate the journey we have been on together and we are so grateful for the ability to have come through this and to have formed this incredible bond. That all the really, really hard work we have done and the persistence we have had in being present in this relationship and now marriage, was the most valuable investment we have both ever made.

I walked down the aisle this fall with my baby inside of me. This creation of life that will be brought into the world in such beautiful, renewing circumstances. I have no fear of the future because I know that ultimately anything I can feel, I can overcome. That my feelings are me, and therefore I can cope with them. I don’t give up, and it’s not because I am better than anyone, but because I truly found a way to convince myself to keep going. Of course, this won’t work for everyone, and I don’t prescribe my way out of darkness to others. I only speak my truth, my journey, and know that everyone has their own beautiful journey. The journey I had to endeavor was the one I had to, the one Rob had to, and the one our sweet angel had to.

At 34 weeks, it’s wild to think that these moments feel fleeting, and I feel so blessed to have experienced it all.

10 Things To Do Right Now To Reduce Anxiety

I am going to preface this by saying I am not a mental health counselor or psychological professional, just a person who has dealt with crippling anxiety her entire life and has only recently dealt with it. While these things are helpful for me and have proved to be amazing coping mechanisms, always reach out to a mental health professional during real crises.

I have read a LOT of self-help books in search for answers. Some of them have been helpful, others not. Here is a list of the things I have learned from these books and things I have troubleshooted to fit my life. You may have to do the same, but I hope that these are a good start.

Remember that all things must pass.

Anxiety has this way of making a small moment, or a day, seem like eternity. In our mind, our senses zoom in and it feels like we won’t ever recover. That’s anxiety’s way of gaining control, it grips us and we focus on the event so obsessively it truly does feel like it’s all there is. In these moments, I scoff at this notion because it seems meaningless in the moment, but then I force myself to recall a moment in time that I felt was the “worst thing” that ever happened to me. And sometimes those moments are big, and sometimes they’re small, but either way, I remember that I moved through those moments and each day became better than the next. Just like those moments, this moment too will be over. If there is an event coming up, I just remind myself that at this point tomorrow, or next week, this will be over. It helps my mind zoom out and gain some perspective.

Meditate. 

Okay, well any self-help book alludes to this concept. Quieting the mind and learning to gain more control of our thoughts is one of the best (free) tools we have to relieve anxiety. I will admit, starting out is tough, and the results aren’t always immediate. But, if you can stick it out for one week, and then two, the rewards will become evident. Start with five minutes a day, and build week by week. There are plenty of apps, my favorite of which is the Insight Timer which can be used to simply set a timer or use some of the guided meditations they have to get started and become acquainted with the practice of meditation.

Go outside. 

Maybe this is an obvious one too… But recently on an episode on Hidden Brain, a podcast on NPR, a researcher who studied the effects of green spaces on communities found that there were lower rates of gun violence and people we just generally, happier. They connected with those around them and felt an altogether deeper sense of community. For me, moving to somewhere with access to nature changed my life. This isn’t always an option and for city dwellers, there are still great options like parks to make use of. The researcher worked in the Boston area, and spoke of walking to her job with her eyes upward, looking at the trees and leaves and sky (obviously you should pay attention to where you’re walking) and trying to imagine herself “flying” through the sky. Stare at a leaf or a tree or a beautiful beam of sunlight and meditate on its beauty and the mastery of the Universe. After all, just like all animals, we thrive in a natural environment and being around nature- connecting with nature brings us back to our source. 

Write three journal pages. 

I do Morning Pages, an idea from The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron. The concept is for creatives to get out their morning anxieties and is used as a warm-up for the rest of the day’s practices. This can be applied to anyone though. Sometimes the first things that we have in our minds are chaotic, stressful, and simply burdensome. I find starting my day of dispelling al of this onto the page in some ways, empties my brain of a lot of the silly anxieties. I have aired them, I gave them a place to be, and in many ways, I put them to rest. 

Yoga.

This one you could probably see coming, but it’s just one of the most life-changing practices of my life and of the lives of many. Most yoga teachers have a story of how they entered yoga, and most started because they were seeking for enlightenment and for a place to release their anxiety and their muscle tension. I started yoga because I felt my constant anxiety kept me in my head. I became so detached from my physical body I would feel an estrangement and dissociation from myself when I looked in the mirror. I had always been a mover, a gymnast, dancer, and I found myself unable to move in my own body- accident prone and clumsy, a deep disconnect between my mind and body. Yoga helped me become one again with my body and focus on my breath, which like meditation, soothes our nervous system and calms the mind. There are so many classes on YouTube and you definitely don’t need to join a yoga studio to reap the benefits! Check out my post on how to start an at-home practice.

Gratitudes.

Sometimes it feels there is nothing going right in our lives and that there’s also nothing to be grateful for. When we sit for a moment and force ourselves to come up with gratitudes, we realize that while we may be facing troubles, our life still has so much richness in it. I find that while doing this one time has benefits, doing this daily truly brings our attention immediately to the positive and directs our thoughts to search for the beautiful things we have in our lives. I do this practice right after my Morning Pages.

Eat just one healthy thing. 

I find setting my day in motion by doing positive things for myself helps me keep up momentum for other things in my day. If I eat junk food, I set myself up for a downward spiral of eating Not Right and then before I know it I am set in motion for bad habits for the day. Sometimes we need a self-care day to watch our favorite shows, but other times, this can just feed anxiety, especially if we are doing these things to avoid doing other things in our lives that are necessary. I can safely say I am almost an ex-procrastinator, but I still know that feeling of not getting something done I know I need to get done, and that feelings gets worse the longer I put something off.

Read a book. 

Traveling somewhere else every time that we are anxious would be wonderful, but that’s not an option for everyone. My favorite escape and has been my go-to since a child is losing myself for a while in a good book. Fantasy, sci-fi, mystery- anything with a really gripping plot forces me out of my own thoughts.

Remember that nothing is personal and we can create each moment anew.

One of the best books that changed my life in one evening is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz. These concepts of realizing that nothing is personal and we can create each moment anew, are derived from two of his four agreements. The book discusses that anything a person does is out of their own creation of reality and has nothing to do with you. Second, that reality they create is the reality we all have the power to create, and the each moment is just a construct and we can create the construct of the life in which we want to live at any moment in time. This book will change your life. 

Affirmations.

Affirmations are a list of mantras that you say to yourself that help you enact them in your daily life. Some examples are, “I am a focused, determined person.” “I am able to conquer anything I want to in my life.” You can make these as specific as you want. Incorporate goals or anything in your life that you want to manifest. If we want to achieve something in our lives, we have to believe it. Sometimes believing it when we are in an anxious rut is hard to do, so we must say these things over and over again and they start to feel more true as they manifest in our daily lives. 

Photo by Jordan McDonald on Unsplash