One Foot in Front of the Other

July 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

This morning we got up extra early. I hadn’t slept well, and I didn’t really want to get up, but I did.

Every year for several years my husband and occasionally myself and other family members have run a race called the Freedom Run for the 4th of July. This was the first year that my oldest daughter had signed up for the 5k with her dad. My second-oldest daughter wanted to do the one-mile, so (several months ago) I agreed to do it with her.

But last night I was dreading it. Sleep is precious to me these days, and I wasn’t sure if I even had the strength to go that one mile. But I knew how excited my daughter was. And I knew I couldn’t let her down.

So I got up. And we got ready. And we went to the race.

We arrived just as the one-mile race was beginning, so we rushed to the start. And for a mile, I ran (very slowly) with my daughter out ahead of me, saying, “Come on, Mom. You can do it!” Over and over.

I couldn’t help thinking how fitting it was. It was hard, and I didn’t really want to do it, but it was the light and strength of my daughter that kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

Mental Health Update

May 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I wish I could tell you that I feel better than ever. I wish I could be a lighthouse all the time, radiating joy and love and hope to everyone around me. But I’m not gonna lie… this past month was rough. And this past week was rougher.

It’s hard not to wonder if the reason it was rough is because I weaned off my medication. In moments of desperation, I find myself thinking I made a mistake… that I shouldn’t have stopped taking it.

But in moments of clarity, I think… Well, you still had hard times even when you were taking the medication. The past couple of months were stressful with the crazy job-hunt and all the illness. You weren’t getting enough sleep. You weren’t getting out much. You weren’t meditating. You weren’t eating enough. You got depleted. Just give yourself a break while you catch up.

So I’ve had anxiety (and some depression) off and on this week. It has fluctuated. Some days were horrendous (that day when I cried to a whole bunch of people on the phone). Some days were so-so, and some were good, hallelujah.

Soothe Your Life with Magnesium

February 24, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I’ve been in love with magnesium for years. Several months ago I stumbled on a website where a lady mentioned a brand of magnesium oil I’d never heard of… Magnesoothe [now called Mg12], sourced from the Dead Sea. She said it was the most effective magnesium oil she had ever used, and she 10386777_946446232048628_8039968799941556132_nhad used several of the other brands available. That totally caught my interest. And I thought it couldn’t hurt to contact the company and see if they ever send samples for bloggers to review. It was perfect timing ’cause they had just discussed doing that very thing in a recent company meeting. A few days later I received my samples in the mail.

Before I get to my review of these products, I want to touch briefly on some of the benefits of using magnesium topically.

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety

January 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm

My whole world changed once I became acquainted with anxiety. I will never be the same person I was before. But I wouldn’t want to be either. I’m better for my battles. I know it.

72268768989948578_ElZL6iWa_f-225x300If you’re in the midst of your own battle with anxiety, I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I know the hell you’re experiencing. I know you fear that it’s never going to go away. Those fears tormented me day and night for a long time. I still struggle now and then, especially when I let life run me down physically and emotionally. But overall I’m lightyears better than I was when those first panic attacks hit me like a freight train in the spring of 2012. I pray with all my heart that you find healing as well. I have faith that you will. But if you find yourself having thoughts about ending your life, please seek help. You are worth saving. And there is no shame in accepting pharmaceutical help. Medication helped save my life.

On to the purpose of this post… I’ve learned some tricks over the past couple of years as I struggled  to manage my anxiety. I can’t promise these things will help you, but I can say they’ve helped me. This is not medical advice. I’m just sharing what worked for me. 

My Prescription for Happiness

October 9, 2013 at 12:32 am

About six months ago I wrote a post called “Becoming Whole Again” where I gave an update about my recovery from anxiety and depression. Yesterday I received a comment from Nicole on that post:

I am really interested in the new “prescription” to replace the drugs. What are the variety of spiritual and physical things you were encouraged to make habits in order to protect yourself from darkness and fear?

I’ve been thinking about sharing that prescription for awhile. So Nicole’s comment was the nudge I needed. I wrote this list in my journal on March 16, 2013. I feel it was a joint-effort between God and me, that we made the list together. At the time I wasn’t doing any of the things consistently and some not at all.

My daughter pretending to meditate

1) Go to bed by 10:00 p.m. and wake up early.
2) Meditate.
3) Read my scriptures.
4) Exercise.
5) Sing and play the piano.
6) Hold each child in my arms.
7) Have sex at least once a week.

Back in July I started meditating (kundalini yoga meditation) and singing every day. I haven’t missed a day since. I’m approaching 80 days. After I started this daily meditation practice, I felt so amazing that I cut my medication dose in half again. So now I’m down to 1/4 of my prescribed dose every other day. There were a few discouraging days while my body adjusted, but now that I’ve stabilized, the bad days are few and far between.

Lightbulb Moment

August 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

A week or two ago I had a little epiphany. Ever since, I’ve had that song stuck in my head… “I wear my sunglasses at night…” I’m a child of the 80’s. Actually, that’s the only line of the song I really know, so I’ve just had that one line repeating over and over in my head. Ha. What is that song even about?

Seriously though, if we’re going to wear sunglasses, we really should be wearing them at night (unless we’re driving, of course). And because of all of this pondering about light and sunglasses, I’m becoming convinced that every woman transferring in labor to a hospital should wear amber (blue-light blocking) eyeglasses. At least until she gets situated and comfortable and labor is continuing to progress.

Let me explain…

It might help if you read these posts first:

Natural Solutions for PMS

June 10, 2013 at 5:02 am

“Every month, not just once or twice a year, [the moon] retreats into darkness before returning to the her fullest brilliance. As a woman, I need a similar reprieve every month to access the most brilliant parts of myself, spiritually, physically and mentally.”  -Monna (Organic Mama Cafe)

962944104391438_a-4a2a3642_uDAZUw_pmFor several decades of a woman’s life, a magnificent monthly hormonal symphony occurs within her body. Each cycle demonstrates her body’s deep investment in the continuation of life. Sometimes that investment continues for nine months. Sometimes that potential for life passes away, and her body cradles that fallen egg in a brief embrace before letting it go to make way for new life again.

The aches and pains associated with menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman and over time. For me, the hardest part of my cycle is typically the few days before my period begins. If I’m going to have PMS, this is when it strikes. And there have been times in my life when it has struck with a vengeance. Over the years, I’ve found some natural remedies that seem to help. Based on my experience and research (this is not medical advice), here are my PMS tips:

Supplemental Support

May 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I was talking on the phone with a friend last night. She’s been experiencing some depression lately. One of the things we pinpointed that could have been contributing to her mood swings was nutrient deficiencies. She had left her stash of vitamins and supplements at a family member’s home while on a trip, so she hasn’t been taking them.

During my first three pregnancies I was pretty lax about taking prenatal vitamins. But after seven straight years of being pregnant and breastfeeding, my body was seriously depleted. I suffered from some depression during my fourth pregnancy, but once I began taking a whole-food prenatal vitamin, my depression disappeared. When my baby was about a year old, after getting lax again with taking vitamins, I began suffering from anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until I began taking my whole-food prenatals again (among other positive changes) that I felt my mind-body-spirit regaining balance.

Restoring Balance and Fertility

April 18, 2013 at 6:05 am

For a couple of decades, my menstrual cycle was like clockwork. Every 28 days without fail (except during pregnancy/breastfeeding). It didn’t really matter what I ate, how much I slept or exercised, or how much sunshine I frolicked in. My body just did its thing no matter how much I failed to take good care of it. But, alas, this body of mine ain’t what it used to be. Now that I’m in my thirties, my menstrual cycle is a lot more sensitive to environmental factors.

During last year’s drama, my cycle was cut short by a few days nearly every month. I thought it was just the stress. As I healed and gained weight, my cycle slowly returned to its 28-day norm.

When my period arrived two days early this week, I was a little confused. Wait a second, I thought… Didn’t my body heal from all of that craziness? Then I remembered that I had spent many nights last week staying up past 1:00 a.m. working on my new website and doing research. I’ve been extremely sleep-deprived. That reminded me how I spent months last summer experiencing medicine-induced insomnia. This was fortunately the only side effect I really noticed from my medication, but it was horrible. Maybe the sleep-deprivation had been a big contributing factor to my wacky menstrual cycles last year?

All of this got me wondering… is there a link between sleep and fertility? I started digging and found a whole lot of information I wanted to share. If you’re trying to get pregnant and you’re finding your cycles less than regular, here are some things that may bring your body back in balance.

Happy Sleep

March 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I’ve been fluctuating between severely-sleep-deprived and mildly-sleep-deprived for most of my life. Before having children, I had my own night-owl tendencies to blame. After having children, I wished I could go back in time and yell at my former self, “Sleep while you can!!!!!” I was utterly unprepared for the whiplash of new-parent sleep-loss. Honestly, I think last year’s craziness was partially just nine years of chronic sleep-deprivation pushing me to my breaking point. Sleep is so important, but its usually in short supply when you’re a mom, especially if you’ve chosen “night-time parenting” as your side-job.

I want you to get more sleep. I want your babies (small and large) to get more sleep. Here are some things you might want to try, if that’s what you want as well.

 

1) Music

I’ve been really interested in sound lately. I’m reading a book called Healing at the Speed of Sound: How What We Hear Transforms Our Brains and Lives. I love these words from the preface, “When we speak of being of ‘sound mind and body,’ we seldom realize that sound itself is the root of being. That sound itself is the route to acquire those things we want so much, a sound mind and body.” And these words from the introduction, “We may choose organic good at the supermarket and avoid inhaling others’ cigarette smoke, yet we rarely pay attention to the equally positive or negative health impacts of sound, the other thing we put in our bodies.” I am loving thinking about the concept of “sound nutrition.” Great stuff.

Must-(not)-haves for the first-time mom

March 5, 2013 at 1:43 am

“Most children’s shoes ought to come with a government health warning.”Tracy Byrne (podiatrist)

When I was pregnant for the first time, I was fresh out of college and my husband was starting graduate school. We answered phones after-hours as live-in caretakers in a mortuary (seriously) for four years so we didn’t have to pay rent while my husband finished his schooling. He worked in addition to his graduate school responsibilities, but we had very little money.

Not all families start out as low on funds as we did, but I know many of them do. The marketing targeted at first-time moms is overwhelming. Magazines, television, internet ads, and sometimes friends and family can fill our heads with so many “must-haves” for our babies. After 9+ years of motherhood, I think often of all the baby paraphernalia that seem so essential when you’re pregnant for the first time but really aren’t necessary at all. It’s astounding how much stuff you can accumulate once a baby joins the family. And when we had our first baby, space was at a minimum in our tiny apartment.

If you’re looking for ways to keep your stress levels at a minimum, simplify, and cut clutter and costs as you enter parenthood, here’s my personal list of items you may want to leave off your list.

1) Changing tables. We got by just fine with a towel (for leaks) on the floor or on our bed. My goal was always to not leave my bed for night-time feedings and diaper changes… none of this going to a changing table in the middle of the night thing. They may be nice to store all the diapers and wipes, but a nightstand, closet, or cupboard works just as well for that. I’d also include the entire “baby nursery” as unnecessary, but that could be a whole other blogpost in itself. ;-)

2) Baby lotion. We got bottles and bottles of the stuff for baby shower gifts as first-time parents. Most of them got re-gifted to other new parents… you know, let’s spread the useless wealth, right? Here’s the reality… babies have lusciously soft skin as it is, and baby lotion may actually be harmful. If you’d like something to use for baby massages or skin irritations, I’d recommend coconut oil or olive oil.

3) Pacifiers and bottles. I realize that these are life-savers (or absolutely essential) for many moms, but if you’re certain you want to breastfeed, you probably won’t need them. My babies simply wouldn’t take any size or shape of pacifier (except our pinkie fingers or my own real-life nipples). And they wouldn’t take bottles either. We wasted a lot of money trying different brands and styles in search of “the one.” In the end, it was just easier to breastfeed exclusively… and the good news was that we never had to break our children of their binkie or bottle addiction.

Deck the walls with birth and babies

January 4, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I mentioned on my facebook page that I recently turned our bedroom into a sort-of tribute to bellies, babies, birth, and life-giving. And people wanted pics!

I’ve been taking what we already had (with the addition of a few cheap Goodwill frames) to decorate with. So that means we finally hung up lots of things I’ve been planning to hang up for ages, including many of our birth and pregnancy photos (most of them taken by my talented doula friend, Cassie). And lots of trees, green things, life, love, and growth.

I think this is the first time we’ve ever really had stuff hanging in our bedroom. I really like how everything looks!

Now for the pics…

Relief

October 10, 2012 at 2:23 am

It has now been over a week since I have felt anxious or depressed. I think I finally feel confident that the worst is over. Crossing my fingers anyway.

It’s hard to know what made the difference, but I think all of the following are contributing factors…

1) My husband asked many of my family and friends to fast and pray for me the first Sunday in October. I’m deeply honored and grateful that so many participated and feel certain that their united faith pushed me into one of the best weeks I’ve had since June. Thank you so much.

2) I started meditating a week ago (too bad I keep missing days) thanks to my friend Felice’s prodding and meditation webinar.

3) I started re-taking a multi-vitamin that has helped me in the past (New Chapter Perfect Prenatal). I had run out of them a few months ago and had been trying several other brands in the meantime without finding one that “worked” (Rainbow Light, Mercola, etc.) Once I started taking this one again a little over a week ago, I felt almost normal within a few days. May I never run out again!

Four centimeters

May 15, 2012 at 12:25 am

For months I had been writing things like this in my journal…

“Right now I just feel so drained. I feel like I give and give and give until there’s nothing left.”

“I am exhausted. I want to sleep for two weeks. I so need a break.”

“I am so run down, so overwhelmed, so out of reserves. But what can I do except just keep swimming?”

“I need a break. Big time. So much.”

Little red flags were waving in front of my face for quite some time. And then Mama Birth posted this:

I think that selflessness and sacrifice are beautiful things- and I think they can purify us and teach us. But I also know now that a woman needs balance. . . . Babies need a mother who takes care of herself and the other people she loves and who herself is nurtured in her relationships.

And it was another little red flag, another messenger saying, “Girl, you need help. You need a break. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” (Thank you, Sarah). But, unfortunately, those little red flags just kept on waving, and I just kept on running myself into the ground. I could feel myself sliding into depression, and it scared me. I have been in that dark place before, and I did not want to visit it again. Looking back, I can say that the damage was already done. A body chronically depleted of sleep and sapped of vital nutrients through chronic stress is going to have a very difficult time functioning, let alone functioning cheerfully.

Call for help

April 25, 2012 at 3:23 am

Alright, friends… I’m going to get personal here.

I’m struggling. For the past six months, off and on, I’ve been battling with some physical and emotional trials, riding a crazy-making roller coaster. During some periods, I’ve been in what I would label as depression. I have good days, and I have bad days. On the good days I feel full of hope that things will get better. On the bad days I feel full of despair that I’ll ever feel totally myself again. Over the past week I have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other multiple times. Yesterday I was in despair. Today I was mostly OK.

I debated whether or not to disclose all of this to you. In this moment I decided that you’d want to know, you’d want to help, you’d want to lift me up in whatever way you could.

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