The Gift Of Friendship

life coach for postpartum depression

Friendship, at it’s core, is unconditional love. It’s loving with no judgement. In your best moments and in your worst. Someone to share life with. Friendship is a gift that we give to ourselves; when we open our heart to it. Friendship is a gift we give to others; when we show them that love and compassion with no boundaries.

I always knew that I wanted a big family. And when I say big, I mean big. Like 18 kids big. Or 20 kids big. I wanted all of that love, chaos, and connection.

Before I was a mom, it was so much easier to see the blessing of a big family. I oohed and aahed over all of the new babies at church, begging to hold them. One of my favorite things to do was to babysit. I thought it was the greatest to play with a handful of kids for several hours, and then get paid on top of it. Dream job. Whenever I needed work, I searched for something to do with kids. Daycare, nanny, babysitting.

Fast forward several years; I have four kids and I recently found out that I am expecting my fifth.

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She came over. Even though I had written and deleted many messages telling her to not. I’m too tired, one of the kids is sick.. the multiple excuses played through my head. How can I get out of this? But here she is, sitting on the couch. I’m in my well loved green armchair, hiding my face against my baby. The sobs rack my body, I feel as though my heart is being broken in two. I feel nauseous – is it words that need to be released from my body so violently? I am me, and yet I am not me. This part of me that I don’t want to acknowledge – it’s forcing its way out. It can’t continue to stay inside of me and consume my every thought.

She listens. I empty my heart to her, these darkest fears that hold me so tightly. I always wanted a big family, and this is what I have. My whole identity is wrapped in motherhood. In being a mom, but more than that to love being a mom. And now? Now what? This baby that is so small in my belly, this precious life that God has allowed me the responsibility of growing, and I don’t want it. My hands feel so full, my body not my own. I am tired of these years of not knowing who I am. Of not being me. The hormones seem so unpredictable and I can’t seem to find my way out of the storm. I feel as though I get a moment of peace, only for the next wind of pregnancy to topple me over again. Me, the real me, wants many children. And yet in this moment, what feels so real is that I’m not ready for another pregnancy. And I hate myself for feeling this way. For not happily accepting another gift from above.

She questions me. What feels harder right now, to miscarry or to be pregnant? I whisper be pregnant. I tell myself this is the wrong answer. And yet she continues why is that the wrong answer? Why do you need to be happy? Because! I want to shout. Because a good mom always wants another baby. A good mom loves all of her children, unconditionally.

And this is what it comes down to, does it not? These preconceived notions of what a good mom does or doesn’t do. How often we fall short of our own expectations; how often we can’t even see the expectations we have set for ourselves. They simply feel like fact.

She holds space. In this living room, with the kids chaos continuing around us, she holds space for me. Space for these ugly feelings that I have feared and held inside to be set free. For me to see that they are merely thoughts, they aren’t me. That even good moms don’t always feel like they can handle their lives. And in this space, I can breathe. They have loosened their hold on me, and I feel okay. I accept these emotions that are raging through me.

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It’s a gift that she gave me that day: unconditional love. She showed me what is possible when I simply accept rather than fight. To lean in rather than to resist. To open up instead of hold inside. To love rather than judge.

This is the gift of friendship.

The Difference Between Life Coaching and Therapy

life coach or therapy

Do you wonder what the difference is between coaching and therapy is? Are they the same thing? Do you get the same results from both? And more importantly, which one do I need?

For so long, I wondered what to do, where to start. I didn’t know which one was the ‘right’ one. This is such a common question, but it’s also something more than that; we will address that at the end.

First of all, therapy is past focused. It is digging deep to find the source of the pain. To heal past trauma. It’s finding the stories that you are holding onto, and finding the reasons why those stories were formed in the first place. If you’ve never told your story before, therapy is a great place to start the healing process. To speak and be heard.

Coaching is similar in the way that we find the stories your brain is holding on to. The difference is we don’t go back and relive the past. Instead, we work on how you are thinking about it today that is affecting your life. Coaching is more present and future focused. We believe that the past doesn’t need to determine your future. How freeing is that thought?

There are actually many flavors of both therapy and coaching. Each person has their own style, and you simply find one that suits your needs. Literally, pick one and start. It can feel scary, intimidating. You may worry that you will choose the wrong one. You may worry that the one you start to work with can’t give you what you need.

Do you see what your brain is doing here? Isn’t it so interesting how our brains are so sneaky? All of these thoughts are just thoughts. Completely optional. The wondering of Do I choose coaching, or do I need therapy? Is simply your brain causing confusion so it doesn’t have to make a decision. So that it doesn’t need to take a new step and face something that is unknown.

Believe me when I say that you can’t make a wrong choice, when you are taking steps to heal. If you choose coaching and therapy is what you need, you will be directed there. If the one you choose to work with isn’t a good fit, you will be referred somewhere else. You may not get everything you need in one place, but I am a firm believer in it all being a part of the healing process. And there never being a wrong decision.

The most important thing is to just take that first step.

Whichever one you choose is exactly the right one for you.

What Keeps Us Stuck

life coach postpartum depression

I’ve really been tossing this question over and over in my head. What keeps us stuck? What keeps us from changing? If you knew that help was available, and the life that you wanted was available, why wouldn’t you go for it?

Short answer: Our brain.

Long answer: All of the excuses that our brain feeds us that we believe, whether we realize they’re optional or not.

Our brain wants us to do what’s safe, what’s known, what’s easy – because that’s what our brain thrives on. It doesn’t want to try a new routine, because what if we fail? Or what if that reality is worse than the one that we’re currently living?

Our brain loves to give us all of these reasons to not try something new.

It will never work.

You’re not worth it.

That’s too scary.

Why even bother trying?

It’s never worked before.

It won’t work for you.

This actually isn’t so bad.

You’ll get better on your own.

Any of these resonate?

I’ve been going through some of the feedback from past clients, and I absolutely love reading their responses. Every single one of them has changed from their time spent working with me. Here are a few of my favorite things they said about it:

“I definitely encourage [trying] it! You only have one life and it’s worth investing in yourself/ future self – which is also investing in your children. It will help you see a way where you didn’t see one before.”

“It’s put new thoughts in my head. One example was the new thought that we came up with: My husband gets to be exactly who he is and I’ll love him anyway. I feel like I don’t need to wait for anything from him. That he can be and do what he wants and that’s the person I love. I appreciate him a whole lot more. It makes me a better wife and a better mom to our kids.”

“For me, it’s really hard to speak about deep things and to tell someone what and how I actually feel. It’s good that I did the six-week package because it’s made me feel more confident in myself and it’s helped me to be able to open up without feeling embarrassed or overthinking everything I’m going to say.”

“The biggest breakthrough I had is learning that my thoughts control my emotions. Changing my thoughts about a struggle I was having helped me not feel negative about it. I learned so much from every call!”

“Coaching is about recognising thoughts and thought patterns and learning to change the ones that aren’t serving you. Also learning about how the brain works so we can understand why we think a certain way. My biggest breakthrough was actually just a little shift that gave me more room in my every day life. I was struggling with what I thought was discontentment but learned that really it was guilt, and then with the help of you found an easy new thought to help me.”

The reason that I share these is because I want you to see the effect that coaching has in our lives. And the effect that it could have in your life too.

As moms, it’s so easy to take care of everyone else’s needs and forget about our own. We think we don’t have the time to work on our stuff every week, so we push it off and hope that we get better eventually. We think that we don’t have the money to invest in coaching or therapy, because that money is needed for our families. We don’t see the impact that investing this time or money would have on not only us, but on our families.

So I just want to leave you with this question: What impact would this kind of change have on you, your husband, and your children?

You can keep doing what you’re doing, and continue to live the same life that you’re living.

Or you can try something that you’ve never done before, and begin to live a life that you’ve never had before.

Coming from the other side of that leap of faith, I can tell you that it’s so much better than fighting that same struggle.

When you’re ready to take that leap of faith, you know where to find me.

And until then, I’m just sending a lot of love to you.

And I Won’t Give Up

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You guys.

Do you follow me on Instagram? If not, then you haven't been seeing my posts about postpartum depression.

All of the feelings that have been coming up as I post these? As I really go back and remember what it was like going through it? It has strengthened my reason for why I started this business in the first place. It has reminded me of my purpose.

As I have started this business and begun to let go of those patterns of doubt, fear, and worry - I'm not gonna lie. It's been more challenging than I thought. I have wondered if this is the right choice, I have wondered if it even matters. I have thought about how much easier it would actually be to just go back to my Candy Crush, chocolate eating days.

But as I have written specifically for those moms who are struggling with postpartum depression, those moms that are in the thick of it? It has reminded me why I'm doing this. Why I'm putting myself out there, why I'm going live even when I'm scared. Why I'm choosing to keep this on my plate when it might seem like I have enough on the go even without having a business.

I have dreams. Martin Luther King Jr worthy dreams. I have dreams where every single mom to be would know what to expect postpartum. Nothing can truly prepare you for your first experience of motherhood, and I think there is beauty in that too - growing, learning, experiencing all of the unknown. But what I dream of every mom knowing is what postpartum depression looks like. What postpartum anxiety looks like. How these thoughts are not them. I want every mom to see those thoughts for what they are, to know that they might show up, and to be prepared for them. To know what to do next. Who to reach out to.

Because too many moms are experiencing these things, and instead of sharing them we hide them. We shame ourselves. We think we are less than. We worry what others would think if they truly knew. We compare ourselves to others, sure that they are better moms than we are. We let this take over our lives. And it's time to stop.

When we face the depression, when we name it, the grip that it has on us loosens. We are able to see it for what it is. We are able to take the next step that we need to.

These posts on postpartum have also reminded me of how far I've come. You guys, I'm not kidding when I say that my life has changed. There was a day when I thought that the life I'm living now would never be mine. I thought it was impossible for me to be a happy mom. I truly believed that my kids would be better off without me. Think about that!

What if I had never started this work? What if I hadn't realized that my thoughts are optional, that there was hope, that I could do something about it? What would our lives be like right now? How much my kids would have missed out on, by not having me as their mom, as a healthy and loving mom? How much I would've missed out on. My heart aches to even think of this.

So yes, you will be hearing from me. And I hope you are sharing this with your friends. Not because I need more followers or more clients - I don't. What I need is for you to see your worth. I need you to see your value. I need you to see what you are missing out on by continuing to live how you are. I need you to see that you are capable of healing and that it's so much better than you can even imagine. And I need every single mom to hear this message.

Hear me on this. The life that feels impossible right now? It will be yours one day. But we will take it one step at a time.

How To Quit Smoking

life coach to quit smoking

Imagine waking up in the morning, taking a deep breath in all the way into your belly, and slowly letting it out again. No cough, no hitch in your chest.

Imagine going for a run, feeling the energy move through your body, your muscles begging you to go faster.

Imagine stepping outside with your long time friend – she lights up a smoke and that familiar smell wafts over you. You simply enjoy the smell and feel no desire to light up your own.

Imagine not having that guilt of being a smoker. Of having the confidence – I quit. That I don’t need to smoke in order to have a good time.

How much less stressed you will be when you’re not relying on something else so you can feel how you want to feel. You know it’s all inside you.

Seriously. I want you to imagine this. How would that feel? Do you believe it’s possible? How would that change your life?

I have a step by step process that I work with my clients on for quitting any bad habit, but I created this process for myself when I quit smoking.

1.       Decide you want to and why. What is your compelling reason for quitting? You need to be committed to this decision, and have a strong why behind it. Something to remind yourself of when those cravings hit.

2.       Identity: Who will you be without smoking? What will your life be like without it? Smoking is such a huge part of who you are, and when you quit smoking you need to create a new identity for yourself. Someone that you want to be.

3.       Brain work. This is the fun part. You get to learn all about why you are smoking and how to rewire your brain. The main concepts that I teach on are:

-          Buffering: A habit with a negative consequence that is used to avoid negative emotions.

-          Allowing discomfort: Our brain is wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy. When you change a habit, you are going against all three of those, so being willing to feel discomfort.

-          Processing urges: Your brain and body are wired to respond to triggers and urges with the action. As you quit, you need to allow that urge without responding to it. Which is different than fighting, resisting, or giving in to it.

4.       24 Hour Plan: Creating a plan ahead of time takes out the room for discussion. You know how many and when, and there’s no argument.

I’m telling you, this works.

Are you ready to become this person? Ready to quit for real?

Shoot me an email and let’s get your first call scheduled.

Six weeks from now, you could be done smoking. Forever.

You’ve seriously got this.

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I Am Not My Depression

gloria niemi life coach

When I say that I struggle with depression, I don’t want that to become my identity. I am not just a “depressed person” – there is so much more to me than the fact that I struggle with my mental health. It is a part of me, in the way that I am a mom of five kids; it is one area of my life, not all encompassing. I tell you this so that it may help you understand me a little more, so that you might know where I’m coming from. That you might be able to understand a part of the lens through which I view my world.

When the depression hits the hardest, and I feel hopeless. Dark. Bleak. It is so difficult to separate myself from my depression. We feel like one and the same – those dark thoughts are me and therefore what is the point? Then as I slowly free myself from the tight grip, I begin to separate the thoughts and emotions of depression from myself. I can pinpoint – That is me. That is how I feel. How I want to be. And that right there is not me – that is the depression talking.

With learning to separate comes a letting go of the shame. The shame of feeling inadequate. The shame of feeling like a bad mother. The shame of feeling like I am ruining my children. I am able to talk more openly about my experiences because the depression isn’t me.

I want to raise my children with love and compassion. I want to spend time with them on my lap, reading a book or simply sitting with nothing to do. There are times when I am so far inside of my own head, battling the depressive thoughts, that I’m not able to do this. When the depression takes all of my energy and there isn’t room for anything else besides my own suffering.

And that’s okay. I get to decide what I make that mean about me. I get to decide if struggling with depression means that my whole life is bad and will never be good; or I get to decide that sometimes I have depression and those days are what they are. The next day I will pick back up where I left off, still working towards being the kind of mom, wife, woman, friend that I want to be.

Those of you who have felt this, you know. You know the dark places that exist within us. But do you also know that we are more than our depression? That we are able to move through it, not just stay in that place?

I can’t truthfully say that I am glad for my experience of depression – it’s not easy to be grateful for the struggles in life. But what I can say is that there are things I am grateful for, because of my depression. Reaching these lows in motherhood has made me realize the importance of reaching out, of opening up about what we experience. It has taught me the importance of leaning on my husband, of sharing how I’m feeling. And friendships – we need those heart friends, who get us. Who will sit with us during our inner battle, but will also show us the way past it when we are ready to take that next step. It has taught me true compassion for others hardships. And of course it has shown me the beauty of not being trapped in an inner battle; those times when I feel like myself, how truly glorious they are.

When you are feeling at your worse, I want to remind you of these words:

You are more than your depression.

What Is It Like To Work With Me?

gloria niemi life coach

I love doing mini sessions.

My free 30-minute calls? They are so fun. It’s a chance for me to help as many people as possible, free of charge. To put out value into the world and to help someone in our short time together. They might choose to work with me; regardless of if they do or not, I love that they have taken one more step in getting better. How awesome it is to even find one shift in their thinking and for them to feel the effects of it in their life. I LOVE IT.

So, what do my free calls look like?

First of all, I get you to tell me all the goods. You tell me all of your thoughts about the issue in your life. We will find one or two of the most painful thoughts for you, and find a new thought for you to think that feels better.

Then I will get you to imagine your life without it. Do that now – imagine what your life would be like without this issue. How much lighter do you feel? Isn’t it amazing?

If I think that working with me would be a good fit for you, I will give you the details of how we can work together further. If one or both of us don’t feel like it’s the best step for you then that’s that. I don’t push myself on anyone, and it’s not a call to sell you on working with me. Instead, it’s a call to give you some leverage or a new perspective on the thing that you are struggling with. It’s a call to show you what coaching can do in your life.

It can be hard to imagine how much it changes you if you’ve never experienced it before.

I want to encourage you, yes you reading this, to come sign up for a free call with me and watch the ripple effect in your life.

When you choose to work with me for six weeks, magic happens. You are committing to yourself, choosing to take the steps to get better. Deciding that you are worth the effort, the time, the investment. It’s not a decision that we make lightly. It’s a commitment to who you are, and who you want to be.

Each call will have a similar layout as the mini session: we talk about what happened since last week and what you want to work on now. We work together to find out which thoughts are holding you back and what you need to do moving forward. By the end of our call, you have a clear direction of what to think and do.

Don’t underestimate the power of a focused coaching call. I’m telling you it’s magic.

Is Fear Holding You Back?

mom life coaching call

It can feel scary, overwhelming, to think of jumping on the phone with someone that you don’t know. Or of getting on the call with someone that you sort of know. To think of sharing with them the things that you are struggling with.

Are you letting these fears stop you from taking that first step? Did you know that the first step is the hardest? To admit that you are struggling and that you need help. It’s a matter of swallowing our pride. Of opening up and putting words to that darkness that is inside. It’s not an easy thing to do, but we can do hard things. The benefits of that single step far outweigh the discomfort of making it.

What else is holding you back?

Fear because you know me and it might be awkward? Fear because I am a stranger to you and it might be awkward?

Do you think that the thing you are struggling with is too big for a single phone call? Or do you think that it’s too trivial, that you should be over it by now?

Do you worry that if you make the free call then you will be obligated to buy from me? Or do you worry that you will want to work with me after one call, and the thought that scares you?

Is it the investment into your mental health? Do you think that it’s not worth it, that you don’t see a direct return on investment? Or does your spouse not see the value in this type of an investment?

Whatever fear that is holding you back from booking a call, know that this is simply your brain. Our brains are so sneaky. They want to keep us safe, to do what is known, and so they throw any excuse our way that they can. Our brain wants us to stay in the discomfort that we are feeling, not to try a new discomfort that is unknown. It thinks that the new situation’s discomfort might be even worse than where we are now, so it doesn’t want to risk it.

Just notice it. Notice what fears or worries or reasons that your brain is giving you to not take that step. Let those thoughts run their course. And then decide if you want to listen to your brain or not. Choose to stay where you are now, or choose a different path. But know that it is you that is making the decision. Whichever one you decide, know that it’s a conscious choice. Like your reasons for it, and have your own back as you move forward on that decision.

It’s completely in your hands.

Find me here if you are ready.

You’ve totally got this.

It's An Ice Cream Date

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The June sun is so bright in the sky. Hot on my forearm as I head north on the highway. The grass is bright green, the rolling hills meeting the horizon out in the distance. It’s so pretty that it almost takes my breath away. We are headed in search of some celebratory ice cream. What are we celebrating? Another step forward in my business – the work with me page is finally complete! A beautiful summer day. Being together.

We reach the ice cream shop, and everyone piles out of the van. I see an older couple sitting on the bench outside, counting heads as one after the next appears. It’s a cute old ice cream shop, with bright pink siding and a sign announcing the arrival of butter tarts in the window. Inside is a kid’s dream. The countless options of ice cream flavors – how do you ever just pick one? The rows of fudge, promising a perfectly creamy mouthful.

After we finally choose which is the flavor of the day, we sit outside in the sun with our sprinkle covered cones. I soak in this moment, just as I’m soaking in the sun’s rays. It’s just me and my five kids. Eating ice cream on a summer day. What more could I ask for?

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I have a flash back to several years ago, when Guin was three. I had three kids then, and Gus was only a few months old. It was also a beautiful spring day, not as hot as this one – the wind still had a bite to it. But it was sunny out and I decided it was a good day to have a picnic by the lake. So off we went to get some Chinese take out, and drove to the lake.

As I sat there with my kids and ate, I remember thinking “I’m at the stage where it’s more work than fun to do something like this.” Being adventurous and spontaneous has always been important to me, but at this stage of life it felt hard. I wanted to do fun things with the kids, but it wasn’t as enjoyable for me when we did. I couldn’t just sit in the moment and enjoy, there was food getting spilled, a baby to nurse, a toddler to run after halfway across the park. If we went to a new spot, there was the anxiety of where to park. Of where was the closest bathroom for the newly potty trained three-year-old. These things felt so big in the moment.

If this is you, know that nothing is wrong and it’s okay to feel this way. I’m not going to tell you to just wait, that it will get easier (even though it’s true). It’s not a fun way to live life, by waiting for it to get easier. But more than that, I want you to simply lower your standards. Want to do fun things with your kids? Do something small like going to the park down the road with a packed lunch. Want to enjoy being out with your kids? Go somewhere that you can actually relax and don’t need to be stressed about all the little things. And if lowering your standards looks like just staying at home, be okay with that too.

It’s possible to do fun things in that stage of littles, but also go easy on yourself.

You’re doing amazing.

And also, there will come a day that you enjoy being out with your kids. Just don’t miss out on the days that you have now, waiting for it to come.

At The End Of My Therapy Journey

therapy for mom

I’ve been seeing her for almost three months now, meeting every other week. That’s been about 6 sessions in total. Which means 6 hours of my life that have been focused solely on healing.

Do you know what a gift to myself that is?

That in this busy season of life - five kids, house renos, starting a business, Nic working on his dreams - I have taken the time to go to these sessions. To show myself that I matter, that I am willing to put the work in. Because I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now, still being stuck in the same patterns.

It’s easy to think that I should have this all figured out by now. But how grateful I am that I’m figuring it out now rather than waiting many more years. It can feel hard, like it’s too much effort to break the habits that I’ve formed and replace them with new ones. Even though I know it will be better once I do. My brain tells me Oh you’ll be fine. It’ll go away. You’re messed, but you’re probably not messed enough to go see a therapist. It’ll figure itself out with time.

It’s all lies.

And now that I have these months behind me of healing, I feel more sure than I did before. I’m realizing that there isn’t one big fix that needs to happen. No wave of a magical wand to make everything perfect again. Instead, it’s all of the little shifts. It’s literally taking a couple deep breaths when I feel my patience running thin. It’s sitting down at the beginning of a new month to think about what I want to focus on in the weeks to come. To reflect on what worked or not in the last month. To check in with myself and see how I am doing, instead of letting life just blur by in a whirl. It’s paying attention to what emotions I’m feeling, and allowing them to be. Paying attention to what emotion I am acting from - it matters.

Before therapy, I had started telling myself that I’m not broken, that I’m whole. But I didn’t really believe it. My brain would always add well, maybe.. but I don’t know. There’s probably something broken about you.. I can say that now I feel whole. I am still healing, still learning, still growing, but not from a place of brokenness and needing to be fixed. It’s from a place of love. I know that I am enough, because I am enough for myself.

The next time that I will probably see her is around six week postpartum with my next baby. (Because there’s another shift - I am going to take as many steps as I can to set myself up for success instead of failure.) It feels mostly exciting to be able to close that chapter and start a new one. I had a moment of - wait! I still need you! To tell me that I have value, that I can do this, that I’m not going crazy, to remind me of all the progress I’ve made. But I am ready. She was able to guide me back to the path I want to be on.

And now it’s me, just like it’s always been. It’s my job to keep choosing me.

How Life Coaching Has Changed My Life

life coaching changes you

Does this sound dramatic? Maybe.

Is it true? Yep.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had postpartum depression after my first baby was born. It didn’t look like I thought depression would look. I made it mean that I was a bad mom – I believed that my depression was me. I didn’t see it as a sign that I was struggling and needed to reach out for help, I saw it as a failure.

Since that first big collision with depression, my mind so easily falls back into that pattern. It can be the smallest thing that sets me off, and suddenly my brain is telling me “What kind of a mom are you? Maybe your kids really would be better off with someone else.” And down the spiral I go. Negative thought after negative thought, all piling on top of me, weighing me into the ground.

Sometimes I would be in this downward spiral for a month, sometimes a few days. Through these ups and downs I would wonder, “Am I depressed? Is this normal? Do I need help? Am I normal?” I didn’t know if everyone had bad days as bad as mine, or if there was something wrong with me.

What I’ve learned though, is that it doesn’t matter if I get the diagnosis of depression or not. What matters is how I live my life, and what I do with these depressive times. Do I allow myself to believe these negative thoughts about myself and my life, and then use that as evidence that I truly am not worthy? Or do I do my best to be aware of where my thoughts are headed, and if I’m not strong enough in that moment to redirect, do I love myself through it anyway?

The more I put this work into practice, the better I get at staying on top of my thoughts and emotions. My days now are much more aligned with who I truly am than they used to be. Coaching, and self coaching, has changed how I show up in my life. How I treat myself, my children, my husband, my friends, our home – everything. It has helped me to take all of the personal development concepts that I’ve learned and actually apply them. Applying them is where the magic happens.

I have often thought that if I had continued living the way I was, I would not be a happy, believing mom today. My faith is the most important thing to me, and when I believed my depression, I did not live how I want to.

So yes, coaching has truly changed my life. If something in my story resonates with you, let me show you how it can change yours.

A Blending Of Identities

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I head north on 395, window open. Soft music is playing in the background. Yiruma on piano, the kind that tugs at my heart strings and makes me want to cry every time. The kind that makes me think of sitting in my parents living room, listening to Travis play, with my heart aching at the thought of leaving again. It’s picture perfect here- the sky is blue, clouds are white, grass is green, the sun is shining so brightly. The mountains rise up in the distance. This view is so familiar, so like home.

Memories of driving these same roads ten years ago. Who was I then? A seventeen-year-old girl, trying to figure out her way in this world. Not knowing what the future would hold. Wanting to heal, to be whole. To explore and to live. To love and be loved. And yet these memories are now covered with a light layer of something. What is it? It almost makes the memories prettier than they were as they happened. The nostalgia of that time in my life. The freedom, the youth, the innocence. How beautiful it was!

Reality is that those were hard times too. It’s easy to forget how hard, as I look back now. My mind wants to coat them with this layer of happiness – to not focus on what wasn’t good then. And that’s okay. It’s so amazing to live in these memories for a week now, to feel that different life once again. And yet not be that same person – I can’t. My mind is constantly going eastward, to home. I think of my babies, and that familiar sensation of let down comes. How could I ever forget that I’m a mom now, that I am lucky enough to have these children to care for, that I have a husband who is waiting for me when I get home?

It’s not forgetting, but it’s a remembering. A blending. To live in these moments of the past as they come up; as a new scene, another spot triggers another memory. And taking these things from who I once was, bringing them into me again. Bringing this me back to Toronto, and breathing it into my life again. I am a mom, but I am not just a mom. I am still me, every version of me, combined together.

A Mother's Guilt

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The contrast in emotion. How is it possible to feel such extremes all at the same time?

Excitement for time away; time to myself, to be on my own schedule.

The ripping feeling as I say bye to them. It’s so important for each one to give me a hug, to make sure they say I love you, to hear the gospel.

Am I actually doing this? Am I actually taking this next step towards my dream? Who am I to think I can do this? Is this the right decision, the right choice not only for me but for our family? How will I survive a week without my baby? My breasts are already full, missing him. Ready to hold him close.

And yet of course I’m excited to go. So ready to go. To learn something new, to experience this training. Taking this next step toward my dream of creating my business. Of creating impact in the lives of one of the most important jobs, and so often undervalued by ourselves – motherhood.

The worry of will they be okay without me? To hope that they will be okay without me, but also that they will still need me in their lives after this, right?

***

I feel the tingling in my chest, a sure sign that 3000 miles east of me Sebs is ready to eat. I sit down to pump again, and my heart is aching. Why is he not here with me? I should be holding him in my arms as I nurse him, not just extracting the milk from my body with this machine. What did I do? What kind of a mom am I? How easy it is to immediately start questioning myself, doubting myself, beating myself up. What kind of a mom leaves their nursing baby for a week?

That guilt. That mom guilt. It loves to come sneaking up on us in whatever form it can. You’re not enough. You’re too much. You should be with them all the time. What kind of a mom are you? You’re ruining your kids. You should be better.

Does this guilt serve a purpose? Does it justify me in some way? If I’m away from my kids, and I feel guilty for not being with them, does that make me a ‘better’ mom than if I was simply enjoying my time away?

DOES THIS EVEN MAKE ANY LOGICAL SENSE?

And yet I’m here. And they are there. I refuse to squander this week, beating on myself or feeling guilty for having come. I am choosing to trust that this is happening at exactly the right time and in the right way for my life.

I know that soon I will be back with them again, back in the daily grind. And I will wonder why on earth I wasted even a single moment feeling guilty for being gone.

So I’m choosing to not feed that guilt while I’m here, and yes. I can’t wait to get back to my babies.

What Your Husband Really Wants

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Did you know that he is doing his best? He’s not perfect because it’s not possible to be perfect. He can’t read your mind. He can’t get it right every time. He can’t always remember what special event is going on, or to schedule that date night. But he is doing his best, and what he wants most? What your husband really wants? For you to be happy. Simple as that.

But he can’t make you happy. Only you can make you happy.

I thought that being married would make me happy. I thought that having kids would make me happy. I was happy before I got either of these, but I thought that the happiness I would have after would be different somehow. Fuller. Or truer in some way.

When I got married and became a mom and my happiness level didn’t change, I thought that something was wrong with me. I thought I was broken. Or that my relationship with Nic was broken. Something was wrong with my life since I wasn’t experiencing it how I thought I should be.

Turns out the only thing that was wrong with my life, was where I was putting my expectations. I can’t wait for someone else to make me happy. I can’t expect Nic or my kids to change their behaviors so that I can be happy. I need to decide that I am in control of my own emotions, no matter what goes on outside of my control.

And even after realizing this concept, how many times I find myself putting those expectations on everything but me! It’s such a worn habit in my brain, and it happens so automatically without me even realizing it. It doesn’t always show up in that exact thought, “If x happens, then I will be happy.” More often than not, it’s a subtle underlying feeling. An expectation that is there without me realizing it. It takes stepping back, becoming aware of the thoughts that are going through my brain, and then deciding to change it.

Your husband wants you to be happy and enjoy your life.

Do you?

Happy In My Everyday

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I look at pictures from Ireland, a small town in Australia, the coast of California, islands in Southeast Asia. I dream of traveling here and everywhere, finding myself along the way. I dream of being lost in moments, of big revelations about myself and the world around me. Everything would be mystical, magical, wondrous.

It’s so easy to dream about this and wish that I had taken those years to travel and find myself before getting married, before becoming a mom. I thought that I knew what marriage and motherhood was all about. I knew that this was how I wanted to spend the rest of my life: with my husband and twenty children by my side.

I’m now in the thick of it, having been pregnant or breastfeeding for the majority of seven and a half years. The fairytale-ness of being a mom has since lost its luster. It’s easy to feel tired of the monotony of it all; the diaper changes, laundry, house chores, kids that try my patience. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself, that I don’t have enough time for just me.

I believe that my life doesn’t have to be this way thought. I believe that it can be more than me being ready for bed time at five pm everyday. It won’t be all mystical and magical every step of the way, but I need to find those moments that are and savor them.

Instead of being frustrated about attempting to find myself in between wiping this boogie nose and that poopy bum, I need to revel in the fact that I am finding myself. Motherhood makes me be more, it doesn’t let me sit on the couch and do nothing all day. My kids need me, and I need me, to get back up and try again. To make my reality my new dream.

It’s okay to dream about other options, to be open to new possibilities. But I’m not going to let those stop me from seeing the magic of my everyday.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.               -Helen Keller

Why Self Care Is Important For Moms

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You know it’s important. You know you should be doing it. But how? What? Where? When? It’s been said a thousand times before, but I will say it again. Why is self care important for moms? Because we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of our families.

Yeah, you get that. It’s not something new. You understand it intellectually. But let me ask you a question – are you doing it? On the regular?

What would self care look like for you? What are the things that fill up your insides? What are the activities that bring you joy – true joy?

How important it is to bring these activities into our daily lives, merge them with our motherhood duties. The best kind of self care is what we do as much as we can every day. We create a life that we don’t need to escape from. We can handle and enjoy our life.

What does self care look like for me? It’s getting to my yoga class once a week. Some days it’s waking up early so I can start my day with quiet, other days it’s skipping my first alarm and letting myself sleep in until the kids need to be up. It’s taking the time to sit down and write in the morning, to get my thoughts in order before starting the day. It is listening to ourselves and what we need, and making those a priority.

Guilt can show up when we are taking time to ourselves to do something we enjoy. We might think that we should be doing something more productive, or worrying about how the kids are doing. But think about that feeling you get, after you did something that you LOVE. How full, refreshed, energized you are. And how do you show up as a mom after that? Compare that to how you are showing up when you never take a single moment to yourself.

When mom takes care of herself, the whole family benefits.

Trusting The Timing Of Your Life

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Trust in the timing of your life.

It’s easy to wonder what it would be like if things had gone differently. If we hadn’t gotten married young, maybe it wouldn’t have been so hard. If I hadn’t miscarried that baby, I wouldn’t be struggling right now. If I had gone here instead of there, maybe it would be different. If this hard time in my life had happened later, maybe I would’ve handled it better. How hard it can be to trust that everything happened at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way.

What if everything in your life happened exactly as it was supposed to?

Think about that.

All of your mistakes, your failures. All of your wrong choices; or what you view as wrong choices. Everything happened exactly as it should’ve. And do you know why it was supposed to go that way? Because it did.

Think about how much less suffering you will have in your mind, just by not fighting with reality. When we are constantly arguing in our mind with what we should’ve done, or would’ve done, if only we would’ve known, we are fighting a losing battle. There is no going back, there is no changing the past. It is what it is. Of course we know logically that we can’t go back, but yet our mind is still sitting there replaying all of the better options that we just. Should’ve. known!

I want you to bring up something from your past, big or small, that you wish you could change. Something that you think you could’ve made a better decision on. Or something that you think your life would be better now without. And as you think about this situation, ask yourself “What if this happened exactly as it was supposed to?”

No, I mean exactly as it should’ve. Regardless of whether you made a bad choice, or someone else made a bad choice – regardless of any negative outcome.

Really let this concept sink into your mind. Do you feel peace? Do you feel acceptance? How does your view of that situation change? Does your mind quiet down? Does it quit throwing all of the what ifs and if onlys at you?

Everything happens for a reason. We may not always know the reason. But trusting that it did brings so much peace with it. This way, we can quit fighting the losing battle of arguing with the past.

I was meant to be married young, so that Nic and I would grow together. I was meant to become a mom at 20, so that I would find myself in motherhood. Or maybe I will never know why things happened the way they did. I can trust though, that God has a plan for me and that He will take care of me as He leads me through this journey.

I can spend time wondering how my life would be different if things had gone another way. But God knows what I need and when I need it. It might not always be in the time that I want, or in the way I want it, but He knows better than me.

I can trust that this is a better life for me than anything else that might’ve happened.

 

Growing Up and Growing Old Together

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We were so young. Those rounder faces, the naïve love that is shining out of our eyes. Babies. We figured we knew what life was all about and what we needed. I love to look back at these pictures and remember those feelings – of excitement, joy, pure love.

I used to feel cheated – that nobody told me what married life would be like. I felt wronged that no one had taken off my rose colored glasses and told me that it wouldn’t be easy.

It wasn’t for them to teach me. This was something that I had to go through myself. It was something that I had to learn on the way.

But also, I now treasure how trusting I was. How I so blindly believed that God was leading me and us in the direction that He wanted us. And look at where that has brought us today – how could I go wrong in simply choosing to trust? In believing that whichever way my life may go, He is guiding us and knows what is best.

Nic and I will grow old together, but we also grew up together. Seven years of learning together about ourselves and what we want our life to look like. Seven years of learning new pieces of each other and ourselves. No matter what we go through in life, whatever issue may come in between us, I am strong in our love. I know that we can get through anything, because we are in this together.

How To Be a Happy Mom

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When I was first struggling with postpartum depression, I would google this over and over. How to be a happy mom. How do I be happy? I was hoping for a book, an article, something with a step by step guide that I could follow to just be happy. I thought it would be easier for me to climb out of the darkness with someone showing me the way.

What I found were many stories on endless forums of moms just accepting that they don’t like to be a mom. That they won’t ever want to be a mom. These of course aren’t very encouraging to read, but I also didn’t want to accept this fact. I knew that there had to be a way to enjoy being a mom more than I was.

I also found articles on learning to have fun again, of making sure that not all of your interactions with your kids were negative. To get down on the floor with them and play even for five minutes. Of taking time for yourself and doing whatever it is that fills you. Yes, I thought, this is what I need. But how??

I would start the day with great intentions of taking time to play with my kids, to cross items off my to do list while also setting aside time to paint or sew. Some days I accomplished some of these, but many days I found myself crawling into bed at night wondering where I failed. Why didn’t I have the energy, the motivation, the patience to do these things that I so wanted to do? I also knew that if I did them, I would feel better, so why wasn’t I doing them?

The problem my friend, was this: I was trying to change my habits, my actions, my behaviors, without changing my thoughts. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying that goes along these lines - “what you think becomes your actions. Your actions become your life.” But have you ever actually stopped and thought about that?

Our thoughts create our life.

Literally. What we think and believe shows up in our relationships, our houses, what we do and don’t do with our time – it shows up in everything. So, it’s as simple and as complicated as that: In order to be a happy mom, you need to change your thoughts. This is a list of a few “how to’s”:

1.       Create new thoughts to think that are in alignment with the life that you want to live. Now this isn’t just think positive all the time! This is becoming aware of which thoughts are creating results in your life that you don’t want, and finding a new thought that you believe to think instead.

2.       Accept the 50/50 rule for emotions. You will not be happy all of the time – not only is it not possible, but you actually wouldn’t want to be. About half the time you will feel good, and the other half you will feel not good. Being a human means feeling all of the feels. Some of them aren’t enjoyable, but guess what? It’s life.

3.       Quit beating yourself up when you aren’t happy. Quit feeling bad about feeling bad. Did you know that when you feel crappy, and then you feel crappy about feeling crappy, you feel even more crappy? Right? So if you feel bad, tell yourself that it’s okay to feel this way. The emotion will pass, you won’t stay there forever I promise.

4.       Take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s easy to think well if my husband did this then I would be happy or well if my kids just listened to me I would be happier. And yes I’m sure we all would be happier if our kids didn’t try our patience so much. But that’s not the point. The point is that no matter what is happening outside of your control, you are always responsible for your emotions.

5.       Know that it’s a work in progress. These are things that we need to work on every single day. This is a process that you will go through for the rest of your life. Oh, how many times I’ve wished that I could just wake up one day and have it all figured out, to be how I want. But there is no destination here, the journey is the destination. I don’t particularly like that saying, but it’s true. Quit waiting for the someday that everything will be exactly as you think it should be because that day won’t come. Instead just keep learning, and love yourself as you go.

This work of diving into my thoughts, of becoming aware of my thoughts, and of changing the thoughts that I’m thinking, has been challenging but so worth it. To work on taking out the ones that aren’t serving me in my life, and create the new thoughts that I want to think is literally life changing. It’s one thing to learn a new concept, and a whole other story to actually apply it in life.

This is the work that I want to do in the world. I want to help moms realize that their happiness, joy, contentment, whatever it is that they want to feel, is attainable through becoming aware of their thoughts. This is what I call a heart centered work. If this resonates with you, make sure to sign up on my email list to get notified of when my coaching program will be available. (The link wasn’t working for a while, so if you haven’t been getting any of my emails you will need to sign up again.)

Happiness is an inside job, truly an inside job.

Folding Laundry Was The Dream

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Growing up, I knew I would be a mom someday. I wanted my very own husband and my very own kids. When I babysat, I would dream about the day that I could do all of these things in my own house. One of my favorite things to do after I put the kids to sleep was to wash, dry and fold their laundry. I knew how happy this made the mom, but it was so fun to pretend that I was folding my own family’s clothes instead. My husband’s shirts next to cute tiny dresses and overalls. My super stylish tops next to baby blankets. I couldn’t wait for that moment!

Now that moment is here. I could be washing, drying and folding clothes all day long if I wanted to. But somewhere along the line, the dreaminess of that task faded. Now the stacks of clothes, both clean and dirty, sit in my laundry room. I ignore them until my husband wakes up for work and asks where some clean socks are, because he doesn’t have any in his drawer. I don’t sit there and lovingly fold every single piece of clothing like I used to. The only exception to this is when a new baby is due and I’m washing the newborn clothes- those are always exclaimed over, so tiny and so cute, with the incredulity that a fresh little body will soon be fitting into them! The everyday laundry however, is another story.

This is how many aspects of motherhood has been for me. I had my ideas of how I would be as a mom – that I would be happy, that I would read to them, that I would play games and snuggle all day long. How great I thought it would be to not have to go anywhere or do anything; just to be a mom. And not just a mom – to be a mom.

I think that these ideals that we have about how we should be are important. It’s important to look at them and use them as guidelines for how to show up in our days; how we want to be in order to feel like we’ve got this. But I also think it’s important to let some of them go. You thought that you would enjoy playing with your toddler more? It’s okay to admit that it gets kind of boring after five minutes; to do what you can right now, and to know that when she grows up there will be more to do together. Let go of the ones that hurt you, the ones that make you feel like you’re not a good enough mom.

Instead, focus on your strengths. The ways that you bring you to your children’s days. You may not be the mom that you thought you would or should be, but always remember this:

You are exactly the mom for your children, just as your children are exactly for you.