On Facebook? Follow along with daily posts that will remind us to stay connected to our gratitude this season.
I have a dear Aunt Sandy who lived on the opposite side of the country so we rarely saw each other, but we talked often. She was always my companion when I drove home from evening events with more than a 15-20 minute drive since she was 3 hours behind me. Book club evenings I would talk to her on my way and on my way home. Sometimes she had read the book we were discussing and often, I brought an extra insight to the gathering because of our conversations.
I consider Sandy one of the most humble and wise women I knew. As I speak to groups and individuals, I regularly share "nuggets" that she gave me. Insights that bring strength, Peace, acceptance and healthy growth. One group I speak to frequently calls them "sandyisms".
As the oldest sibling, she was given a lot of responsibility and felt significant pressure to meet the expectations of her parents (perceived or real). Drugs and alcohol consumed the pain and separation she felt in her early adult life....until it didn't and caused her more pain.
Sandy went on to find AA, an AA family and sobriety. Her walk in "the program" forced her to wrestle with God and herself in ways that littered her life with Truths that eventually were solid enough to stand on. Until they weren't...and pain and separation came again with mounting enormity. Her partner, Jer, and her parents both died. After 34 years of sobriety, Aunt Sandy began drinking again. After 2 years of sneaking and lying to her family (biological and AA), she got caught by a friend. That humble and wise woman wanted sobriety again...she confessed, brought her pain to light, let others into her story more fully, faced the facts and the realities of aging.
We talked more often. Her health challenges came a bit more frequently and she had an occasional fall that required friends to come by more often to help. We shared more frequently...especially regarding my mothers cancer and what stresses I was facing. She heard and understood me (also the oldest sibling). We seemed to share a language that nobody else spoke.
I can still hear her greeting me when I called her. She was giddy to connect when time permitted and totally trusted the timing so I never felt pressure to ring her. Yet, I wanted and needed to talk with her. As I shared the value of our time to me, she would assure me that I was never alone. That lesson was one I learned decades ago, but I (maybe like you too?) learn a lot of lessons again and again, rooting into them deeper and deeper.
Often as we hung up, she would tell me "Just pat your ass, honey. I'm always in your pocket."
In December 2017, I "heard" the whisper that if I wanted to see Sandy, I needed to plan a trip west. She and I talked about it and both were very excited to be in the same time zone, same space. In February the whisper said,"you really need to get the dates in place and buy your plane ticket". So we collaborated dates and I did go to Oregon to visit with Sandy in April 2018. The day after I landed back in Atlanta, she was hospitalized and made her transition less than a month later.
This picture was taken the morning I left. She and I talked while she was in the hospital and she chuckled at watching me splash in the puddles as I ran to my rental car parked in front of her little house. She had the best grin and giggled often.
I still talk to Sandy frequently and regularly pat my ass...I'm never alone.
For those of you who are facing grief this season, please connect to others. Share your stories and tell people about the gifts your loved ones gave you. As I shared after my mom passed, I saw the image of a wave coming to shore and returning yet some of the water seeped into the sand. She was the wave, fluid now. And me, the sand still in form. My mother and Sandy have returned to the greater whole, but have left themselves in me too. We are better people because of those who have poured themselves into us.
In a recent coaching session, my client spoke of a life-giving activity that she hadn't done much of since becoming a mother. Hearing her voice, It was clear that there was a void in her life and even some sadness about having given up something that was so important to her in the past.
Parenting requires so much sacrifice and can be as heart wrenching as it is fulfilling. So often, mothers tend to the health and happiness of their families, neglecting their own well-being. Most often, the neglect isn't intentional, it's simply the overwhelming need of her children. Many are also caring for parents, dedicated to their career and relationships with others. The weight can be is heavy and exhaustive. Anyone else find that sometimes it feels like too much?
For me, I packed my good paint brushes and expensive paints away when my kids were little and reverted to finger paints and those water color palettes that you can pick up at anywhere. You know the one that comes with its own plastic brush. I only painted with the kids for the longest time.
As we went on to discuss how she was able to fit the activity in before motherhood and her strategies for staying connected to it, images form in my mind. The word that came was "outlet". Her life-giving activity is an outlet...both a source of Power, connecting to herSelf and an overflow of the "too much" we all experience in this beautiful, demanding, and hard role of parenting.
Sometimes we need to prime the pump a bit, just stick a toe into the water to access the experience we crave.
I remember one mom saying "if I could just go away by herself for a week at the beach..." Her circumstances weren't going to allow that. (Whose does?) We talked through what she needed that a week at the beach would provide. Because the beach felt so unattainable, she neglected to even try to create a taste of it. That week, she took an hour at the river alone and began to meet her need.
Parenting is a life-long journey. Each season comes with it's own highs and lows, beautiful gifts and challenges.
What are your life-giving activities? Did / do you paint? Write? Draw? Dance? Roller skate? I encourage you to have your menu of options and ways to connect. Find what can relieve the "too much" and access some of the creative juice you need to make this life work. Maybe you're finger painting too.
One of the sweet reminders this holiday gives me; I have independent thought and freedom to choose.
Choice is so empowering. Choice changes trajectories. Choice can also be overwhelming.
As mothers, we are faced with so many overwhelming choices that carry weight with them. Our children’s foundations are rooted in how we conduct ourselves and what choices we make…not just for them, but maybe even more so for ourselves.
Have you experienced greater participation and cooperation when your kids have choice? When they’re smaller, the choices can be as simple as “Do you want to leave the park in 5 minutes or 6?” and the experience of empowered control makes a deposit of personal power, increasing self – confidence.
Too many moms I work with, at the beginning, are experiencing the overwhelm of such a full life and feel trapped. Confidence decreases, seeking confirmation from social media and “surface” only relationships leave an empty feeling that results in a motherhood experience that isn’t satisfying or gratifying. That is not okay.
Moms need to feel confident and competent to raise healthy, confident kids. Our emotions are contagious, and our kids are more influenced by our emotional states that anyone else. Today is a great day to CHOOSE to be independent from the messages of social media about the way you “should” behave, what you “should” think and “should” experience in this often challenging, but beautiful journey called Motherhood. I believe that you have an intuitive voice that can guide you toward your happiest and healthiest version of you. I hope today, and tomorrow, you choose to make choices congruent to what matters most in your heart.
If the picture of you as a healthy and happy mom isn’t very clear, please remember, you’re not alone and support is available.
At OptiMOM Coaching, there are 3 ways to engage:
You don’t have to experience isolation in motherhood. You have a resource to be safely witnessed in your walk toward health and happiness. At OptiMOM Coaching, I hold a vision of a well world and GRATEFUL that I have the independent thought to choose that in “my world”.
Far too often I hear mothers complain, feeling sad or frustrated that their people don't care or appreciate the value of the hard work they invest in caring for them.
From her entry for May 8th in Joan Borysenko's treasured book Pocketful of Miracles:
"The fifteenth-century Christian mystic Julian of Norwich is known for her deep appreciation of God as mother. In the text of her divine visions, called Showings, she said 'This fair and lovely word 'mother' is so sweet and so kind in itself that it cannot truly be said of anyone or to anyone except of Him and to Him who is the true Mother of life and of all things. To the property of motherhood being nature, love, wisdom and knowledge and this is God.' "
We are on holy ground, doing holy work and it is an honor, yes?
I hope we can be in our days with gratitude for the gift of motherhood, embracing the value of our work...without resent or frustration that others may not see the enormity of what we carry.
Treat yourself kindly today (and everyday); be reminded the "property of motherhood being nature, love, wisdom and knowledge and this is God". May you know more and more the blessings you're gifted.
Contribution by Jennifer McGregor. She is a pre-med student, who enjoys writing about health and medical topics and providing reliable health and medical resources for PublicHealthLibrary.org users.
Want to achieve your best life yet? Creating optimal vitality and energy starts with creating more positive changes in your physical and mental health. After all, your body and brain are what power all of those incredible endeavors, especially if you are a busy parent. So, make sure you are fueling them both with these simple health and wellness tips that can keep you strong, fit, and ready to take on the world around you.
Sign Yourself Up for a Team Sport
You may already know that participating in team sports can help boost kids’ self-esteem. What you may not realize, however, is that participating in a team sport can have major benefits for adults as well. When you play sports with a team, you are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, and you get those same self-esteem boosts. So, not only will you be getting a regular dose of health and vitality, but you will also be building positive social connections that can boost your overall health. No matter how introverted we may feel, human beings are wired for connection and depend on those connections to preserve brain and body functions that keep us healthy and strong. Before you sign up for a new sport, you may need to invest in some new sports gear, but really you will be investing in your health and wellness. Just be sure to read through reviews so you know you are spending your hard-earned money wisely and getting equipment that will offer the most benefit to you.
Research Your Healthcare Options
Signing up for a sport can improve your health, but you also need to make sure you are signed up for the right healthcare coverage. If you are an adult who is over the age of 65, or if you are nearing Medicare eligibility, that means you should take a closer look at the healthcare offerings that are available to you. Medicare plans and coverage change with each year, so you need to check often to see if you have coverage that fits your needs. For example, many Humana Medicare Advantage plans will provide you with additional benefits, like vision, dental, and fitness center benefits that can help you preserve all aspects of your health.
If you are not a senior or not eligible for Medicare, then you can still do your homework to determine what kind of insurance will be best for your needs. Take some time to really compare the levels of coverage offered by different plans and think about how those coverages, as well as deductibles, will impact your ability to access the essential health care you need.
Invest Your Time in More Self-Care
It can be easy to skip right over self-care, especially if you are a busy parent. However, mothers often benefit the most from self-care habits. You need to practice those daily rituals, whether it’s meal prepping for healthier eating or creating a calming routine to get better sleep. More self-care can even boost your immune system and protect you from serious illness caused by chronic stress. So, how can you fit more self-care in-between work meetings, playdates, and soccer practices? You can use a few smart self-care strategies to make taking care of yourself more of a priority. The most important of these steps is to recognize that your superpowers only extend so far. Mom or not, you are human at your core and need healthy habits to thrive. Plus, you set the example your kids will follow so make sure it’s a positive one. Make sure they know your worth, so they can grow to know their own as adults.
The most optimal version of you begins with the best habits for your health and well-being. By managing your mental health and taking control of your physical wellness, you are taking the crucial first-steps towards finding more purpose in your life. So, make more time to take care of yourself so you tackle all of the other challenges and experiences in your life.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
My new friend, Michelle Rusk, hosted a webinar series last month titled Rock Your Whole Health and I was privileged to be part of the team that supported mothers with resources.
Here’s what you’ll learn in my session:
-How to get back in touch with your intimate self
- Finding your picture of being your happiest and healthiest
- Why the biggest hurdle is self identification when you're taking the first step toward better health
- Emotional red flags to pay attention to
- How to live congruent to yourself and MUCH MORE!!!
I'm interested in your feedback. Please comment below about what you found helpful or thought provoking.
By clicking on the link below, you'll also see a coupon code for a free gift.
Please participate with the change you wish to see in YOUR part of the world.
Phew - what a year, yes?
Moms spin so many plates and go (grow) in so many directions that at the end of the year, there is a "thinning" of sorts. Much like our cervix has to thin in childbirth, the pains that bring us to the end of a year, also leave us ripe for new Life to be born.
This year was full of unexpected gains and losses for me (and many I've had the privilege to journey Life with). I suspect you too.
I wish for you to see and embrace the abundant gifts that remain and that you can envision 2019 being your happiest and healthiest YET.
Intentional living takes practice. Life's distractions and overwhelming demands can quickly detour us to our programming, allowing us to drift from the intentional, thoughtful responses we desire to experience. Too often, when I speak with mothers, the regret for having "lost it" on their kids is heartbreaking. The frustration experienced with children's behaviors is often more accurately stemming from frustration with their own lack of self control when it comes to healthy behaviors and emotions.
Having Grace for ourselves is a critical practice if we desire to extend it to others, especially our children, who know our "buttons" better than most. This season, notice your feelings...notice your face. Allow yourself a moment to take a deep breath, count your blessings, and smile.
Remember, your children and your cells are listening.
Your smile CHANGES the world around you and with any luck, brings a smile to someone else...and someone else...as the old saying goes, "smile and the world will smile with you."
May your joy only increase as you learn to tune in and CHOOSE your thoughts.
Widely known for her passion, dedication and commitment to supporting the expression of potential, Lisa is famous for inspiring patients, especially mothers. With nearly 3 decades of service in chiropractic, she easily communicates the value of wisdom within. Her experience has been used to create a safe, effective, and reflective coaching model for mothers without the judgement, comparison, and crippling overwhelm that often inhibits change for families. To learn more about Lisa's work and contact her, please poke around the website.
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"OptiMOM Expressions of ourselves"