You know, it's a strange thing losing my dad. He and my mom are the people I've known the longest in my life. 42 years. I never "met" him; he was just always there. But along the way, I did meet him.
And in the last few years, I met my dad again. I met an old man who's body was failing, who had lost his parents, his wife, a brother, a granddaughter, a nephew, and good friends, and who struggled deeply in his pain over these losses. Our conversations started to include thoughts about the afterlife and what he wanted me and my sister to do with his ashes.
I heard recently, “The reason no one knows how to talk decently about religion or politics, is because we tell people to never talk about religion or politics.”
The world has possibly lost the art of agreeing to disagree. Let’s remember: If I don’t agree with something you say, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you or that we can’t be friends anymore. People are different, and we all have different opinions. And that’s okay! Not only is it okay, but it’s what makes the world the beautifully diverse and rich place that it is! A difference of opinion should be embraced, not attacked.
One of the most divisive times we live through is the election year. Everyone has an opinion, and some people are a lot more aggressive about their opinion than others. It is important to remember that the main goals of any election year are to exercise your freedom to vote, vote your conscious, and allow other people to exercise their freedom too. Although the election process is far from flawless, it is one of the great freedoms we have in this country. Every person has a voice.
So, what do we do when those voices start getting out of hand? What do we do when all the talking heads start to create anxiety within us? What do we do when it seems even our friends and family are attacking each other over political beliefs?
Here are 5 tips for staying calm this election year.
1. Turn off the news and detox from social media. You’ve heard it said, “You are what you eat.” This is true for everything we consume. If you’re constantly consuming media that is toxic, you’re going to feel toxic.
2. Seek out honest sources – do your own research. This one is pretty difficult to do these days. It seems every time we turn on the TV or radio, we receive extreme, biased perspectives on current events. It is hard to find a truly neutral news source. If anything, please be aware that you are receiving only one side of the story. Once in a while, check out the other extreme news station just to see what the other side is saying. Maybe you’ll see something positive that you would have missed otherwise. And if you can’t find politically neutral news stations, go directly to the candidate and form your own opinions about them.
3. Practice good overall self-care. This is true all the time, not just in election years. Taking care of our physical and mental health is imperative to reducing anxiety.
4. Trust. Sometimes we just need to let it go.
5. Keep focused on the good things. Your life is filled with so many other beautiful things to focus on. Remember them. Don’t get so wrapped up in politics that you don’t remember the simple, beautiful things in your life.
Forgiveness is a tricky word. We often carry associations with the word forgiveness that turn the act of forgiving into something more painful than it needs to be. Let’s set the record straight on forgiveness by learning what forgiveness IS and what it IS NOT.
Forgiveness is NoT:
Now that we’ve discussed what forgiveness is not, let’s talk about what forgiveness really is and what it means.
As you can see, forgiveness is not really about the other person at all. It is about us, our own wellbeing, our ability to move forward and care for ourselves, and our step out of the victim mentality. It puts the control back into our hands. After all, we cannot change anyone else’s behavior. No one has that power. But we CAN change our own behavior, and forgiveness gives us a way to improve our own lives and move forward.
Now the hard part, HOW DO WE FORGIVE?
How to Forgive
Forgiveness sets you free. It gives you control over your life. It lets you breathe more easily and sleep better at night. It might be hard work, but in the end, it is SO worth it.
If you need assistance or guidance in letting go of a painful event from your past, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to partner with you in creating a life you love!
“My brain says some really mean things to me sometimes.” My friend told me this once, and I could totally relate.
How we talk to ourselves makes a big difference in the way we see ourselves in the world. According to an article on healthline.com, “Self-talk is your internal dialogue. It's influenced by your subconscious mind, and it reveals your thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas.”
If I’m constantly telling myself I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, etc., those messages will stifle my growth, lower my self-esteem, and lead to lower self confidence in my place in the world. Not to mention, what kind of message does it teach our kids? Sometimes they hear us say things like, “Ugh! I’m so fat!” Or “I can’t do anything right.” Muttering self-deprecating messages under our breath does not go unnoticed by our children and can lead to our children doing the same thing, therefore lowering their self-esteem and confidence.
What’s the solution?
Here’s my number one tip to start talking more nicely to yourself:
When you catch yourself saying something nasty to yourself, stop and ask yourself, “Would I talk to my kids this way?”
If you tell yourself you are a fat loser, think about saying that to your kid. How would your daughter feel if you told her she was a fat loser? Now think about saying this message over and over to your daughter. When she goes to get dressed but can’t fit into her clothes, you tell her you’re not buying her any more clothes until she loses weight. If she wants to go out for ice cream with her friends, you tell her she’s a fat slob who can’t control herself. If she wants to go to the beach, you tell her she can’t wear a bathing suit because she’s too fat and nobody wants to see her fat body on the beach. Your daughter would be crushed, devastated, and ashamed of herself. She would feel less and less confident over time. As she grew into adulthood, this message would be with her for the rest of her life.
Let’s think about another example. You tell yourself you aren’t smart enough and you never get anything right. Think about giving your son that message. When he wants to start a project, you tell him he’ll never finish anyway, so why bother. Or when he wants to interview for his first job, you say no one will hire him because everyone else is smarter and more talented than he is. Or when he makes a mistake, you annihilate him with your words because smart people should never make mistakes. Your son would lose confidence in himself and his abilities over time. He wouldn’t try new things. He would take the message of worthlessness into his adult years and it could affect his whole life.
Here’s my number one tip to start talking more nicely to yourself:
Now let’s get back to YOU. If you have someone (your brain) telling you critical, negative words all the time, of course you are not going to feel good about yourself. The longer the negative self-talk continues, the lower your self-esteem will get.
Some of us had parents that actually did say those things to us while we were growing up. Those messages are engraved in our brains. Most of our self-talk is derived from the messages we received from parents and society in our early childhood. But we are not children anymore. As adults, it is up to us to speak to ourselves in a way that is life affirming. We need to retrain ourselves and give ourselves positive messages instead. How do we do this?
Let’s look again at our examples. Let’s say you’ve told your daughter she is a fat cow that doesn’t deserve to dress nicely, have a treat, or go to the beach until she loses weight. Or you’ve said to your son that he is too dumb to start a project or get a job and that he’s an imbecile for making a mistake. How would you make things right with them? You’ve said these horrible things to yourself for years, maybe decades, so how do you make things right with YOU?
It is so important to treat ourselves with dignity and respect in the area of self-talk. Those with more positive self-talk are typically more optimistic and experience a greater level of happiness overall.
Please be nicer to yourself! We experience enough negativity in our society without bringing more of it on with our internal dialogue. You are a unique human being. Since the beginning of time, there has never been anyone alive on earth who is like you with your unique set of talents and characteristics. And there never will be. You are a special imprint on this planet at this exact moment. You are a jewel. Talk to yourself like it!
If you need help clearing old patterns and belief systems, I suggest doing some inner child work. Please contact me for more information and guidance for this process.
Depending on what month and day you were born, you have a corresponding zodiac sign that contributes to shaping your personality trait. Your sun sign, the zodiac sign typically associated with astrology, is the constellation that was behind the sun at the time of your birth.
While it is fun and useful to know and understand your own zodiac sign, it is also helpful to know and understand the astrological signs of those around you, especially your children. Keeping in mind your kids’ sun signs helps you to more effectively parent them in ways they will respond to best.
There are several factors that can assist you in understanding zodiac signs. Astrology is a very complex science that one can study for an entire lifetime. For the purpose of this study, the main points to get you started are listed below. First thing’s first, determine your child’s sun sign by visiting a free astrological chart generator site such as cafeastrology.com or astro.com.
The Four Elements
Each astrological sign has an associated element which helps describe the unique personality type of your child.
The 12 Signs of the Zodiac
Each astrological sign has its own set of characteristics and needs. Below you will find a brief overview for each. By working with your child’s sign and inherent tendencies and needs, you can parent them accordingly to help them feel accepted, valued, and appreciated in the world.
I remember the days when I was SO OVER being pregnant. I was about 35 weeks into my pregnancy and was so tired of being swollen and having insomnia and heartburn. I wanted to have my body back. I wanted to have comfortable sex again! I was so ready to meet my little baby and be done with the pregnancy.
I can tell you that at three weeks postpartum, I still have some of these same complaints! The nurse gave me too much IV fluid during delivery, so I have been even more swollen after pregnancy than during. Pregnancy insomnia? I’m happy if I get a solid three hours of sleep between nursing sessions each night. Heartburn has been replaced with constant abdominal cramping. Having my body back is still a dream, as my breasts are now feeding machines for this tiny human. And sex? It is still an elusive fantasy of some future date when the doctor says I’m in the clear, and when, somehow, I feel good enough to make love again.
My problem is that I’m always looking for the next thing. This has been a constant struggle in my life. I think the next thing will make me feel better than I do now. What I’ve learned in my decades on this planet is that the only thing we have is NOW, and if I’m not appreciating the NOW, I’m missing everything!
A life lived in the future, waiting for some future event, is a life that gets passed by.
So throughout the first month of being a new mom (again), I’ve learned some valuable tips in appreciating the NOW of mothering a newborn.
5 Tips to Fully Appreciate Your Newborn
1. Lower Your Expectations
There is no such thing as the perfect newborn photo session, perfect night of sleep, perfect outfit, perfect mothering, or perfect relationship with your partner. Expecting that your life should be a certain way, or that your body should look a certain way, or your baby should behave a certain way only sets you up for disappointment.
Now is the time to drastically lower your expectations. Sometimes, taking a shower is the best accomplishment of my day. My only expectation now is that it is going to take time for both me and my baby to adjust to this new life. In the meantime, it is my top priority to learn everything I can about my new baby.
2. Accept your Baby is Now your Master
This baby is learning how to do everything from scratch. Everything, and I mean everything from breathing to swallowing to feeling air on his skin, is new to him. He needs this time to acclimate to being outside the womb. And it needs to feel as safe as possible for him.
I needed to accept this by learning to work WITH my newborn’s schedule instead of forcing him into MY schedule. There will be a time to enforce my routine and rules, but the first month of this life is not that time. When he cries, it's because he is hungry or wet or just needs to be cuddled by his parents. If he cries now, it's for a reason. He is not old enough to know how to manipulate adults. That comes later!
3. Get Alone Time
Alone time is essential, even if it’s just an hour without baby while you make the bed, drop in a load of laundry, and shower. Or don't do anything at all but sleep. That's fine too!
We have to remember we were Women first, before we were Mothers. Our needs are just as important after the baby is born than they were before the baby is born. We may need to rearrange some things to make sure those needs are still being met.
Which leads me to the next point.
4. Let People Help
This one is super important. All the people who say, “Let me know if I can bring over dinner” – let them bring you dinner. The ones that offer to babysit “anytime” – take them up on it, and go on a date night with your partner. The ones that offer to come over to watch the baby, so you can sleep for a couple hours – YES!! They are offering because they want to help you and they REALLY want to spend time with your baby. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Also, if the baby's dad is in your life, let him help you too! One thing I've learned about dads (especially first time dads) is that they want to help but sometimes don't know how, or they feel inadequate. This is when we can become our partner's biggest cheerleader.
There have been times when I've had to get very specific with my partner about how to care for our newborn. Instead of saying, "Can you watch the baby for a while," I will say something like "Can you change the baby's diaper and then feed him a bottle? I am going to take a shower and will be busy for about 20 minutes." This gives him a structure and framework to work with, instead of leaving things ambiguous. Men do well with structure.
5. Enjoy It! – This time goes SO FAST! Learn to stay in the moment. It’s hard to not think about all the things you’re missing out on or all the things you need to do when you’re stuck to your rocking chair for the eighth time of the day with a baby on your boob. But really, try to enjoy and savor these little moments. They go so fast, and soon enough, they’ll be too big to hold, and you’ll be wondering when the heck your little baby grew up so fast. She grew up so fast while you were waiting for the next big thing, or while you were wishing he would hurry and go to sleep so you can clean the house.
Enjoy these tiny moments with your baby!
Bonus Tip - Take TONS of photos and videos. All those little baby expressions and sounds will be captured on video beautifully. You will treasure them later. My partner and I started a YouTube channel as a repository for our baby’s videos. It’s a private channel just for us and our families, and it lets us easily upload video right from our phones, so we have a long-term place to store our memories of this amazing time in our lives.
You’ve got this, Mama! It gets easier. I promise.
Self-care is the 'in' word lately. We’ve all heard how we need to be practicing self-care daily to keep us healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. No one denies the benefits of a great self-care routine, but how do we get started?
First, let’s knock out some misconceptions about self-care by talking about what self-care is NOT.
I think you get the idea.
Now, let’s talk about what self-care IS.
Self-care, or caring for oneself, is the practice of making yourself and your needs of equal importance and value to those around you. If your child deserves a warm bath every night before bed, so do you. If your husband deserves two hours alone at the gym three times a week, so do you. If your coworker deserves that week-long vacation, so do you.
Sometimes, what we need most is not a step-by-step plan on “How to do self-care”.
What we need most is that shift in thinking that allows us to realize we deserve it!
Now for the sake of time, let’s assume you DO realize you deserve great self-care and you’re ready to take action. Where do you begin?
5 Easy Steps to Get Started with Self-Care
1. Get enough sleep.
Arguably, this is the most important step by far. Studies have shown that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal. Those who consistently get fewer than 5-7 hours of sleep per night are 12% more likely to suffer from premature death. Those getting over 8-9 hours of sleep per night are 30% more likely to suffer from premature death!
7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for helping to:
How do you get more sleep? Try going to bed earlier by 5-10 minutes each night until you reach the desired sleep time. If you have small children, try to nap when they nap.
If you are having trouble sleeping, try the following:
Staying active, even moderately, has been shown to increase energy levels, boost health and immunity, and improve mood. Now, we’re not talking about spending endless hours in the gym every day. If that’s what you like to do, more power to you! But even a 30 minute walk every day, or most days, will garner you the same results in overall wellbeing.
The Mayo Clinic states that regular exercise can help you:
Moving is an essential part of your self-care routine. If you’re not into the gym, grab a friend and go for a walk around your neighborhood. Better yet, take the kids on a hike! Being out in nature has been proven to have its own set of benefits on health and mood.
3. Nourish yourself.
Nourishing your body with healthy foods is an important component to any self-care routine. Eating a variety of fresh, healthy foods (along with the occasional treat!) will keep you feeling good emotionally and physically.
Medical News Today gives the most important reasons to make sure we are nourishing ourselves with healthy food each day:
This doesn’t mean you have to become a vegan or vegetarian, or start up Paleo or Keto or any other fad diet out there. It could be as simple as adding in more veggies and fruit and decreasing your daily soda and candy intake. And by golly, keep eating that dish of ice cream every now and then! A little indulgence here and there is not the end of the world for your scale, and does wonders to make you feel less deprived and more free.
4. Take breaks to recharge.
Taking some time for yourself every day is critical to your mental health. This means doing something that you WANT to do just because you want to do it.
Different activities will appeal to different types of people. For instance, if you are an introvert, your daily breaks may look a lot different than if you are an extravert.
Recharging ideas for introverts:
Recharging ideas for extraverts:
If you don’t know if you are an introvert or an extravert, consider what kinds of activities energize you. If the introvert list above looks horribly boring and pointless, you are probably an extravert, meaning you like to recharge around other people. If the extravert list above looks daunting and like a lot of work, you are probably an introvert and prefer to recharge by yourself with no one else around.
Knowing this one thing about yourself can be a life changer!
5. Be grateful.
Being grateful means that we recognize good things in our lives and are thankful for them. If we keep an attitude of gratitude, and focus on good things in our lives instead of the problems in our lives, we will be much happier every day.
Gratitude is defined by Robert Emmons in two parts. The first part is about goodness. We recognize that there are good things in the world that we have received. The second part is the recognition that the source of those good things is outside ourselves through other people or through a higher power.
I’ve heard it said that the things we focus on get bigger. If we’re focused on our problems, they’ll get bigger. If we focus on the good in our lives, the good will get bigger. Practicing gratitude regularly keeps us focused on the good in our lives.
3 steps of gratitude:
After practicing these five steps of self-care, you will be amazed at how your life transforms! Sleep, exercise, healthy eating, taking mental breaks, and practicing gratitude all contribute to a healthy YOU – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
It’s never too late to start a new routine. If it looks overwhelming, start small. Add an apple to your lunch every day. Go for a short walk around your neighborhood after dinner this week. Pull out a scrap paper, and list all the things you’re thankful for.
This isn’t rocket science, but it does take some effort. The best part is that for a small investment in yourself each day, the payoff is HUGE! You, and those closest to you, will start seeing changes in your overall mood within days. And you may even start influencing those around you to take better care of themselves as well.
If you want an even deeper look into self-care, get my book Practical Soul Care today!
All the best!
I am a mom of three, marketing guru, and founding CEO of Moms Next Door, Inc., a nonprofit organization fulfilling basic family needs so mothers can prioritize their own self care. I hold a degree in psychology and have years of study in self-care, mental illness, addictions recovery, codependency, and spirituality. I invite you to come with me on this journey to guilt free self care. Every mother, every woman for that matter, needs a safe place to vent, to learn, to advance, and to be supported and lifted up. This blog and The Ascended Mom community was created to provide exactly that.