When Nursing Doesn’t Feel Natural

Let’s talk about breastfeeding. Everyone knows that nursing is healthy for both moms and babies. We’re told it provides nature’s perfect food for infants. Hell, even the formula labels tell us so. It’s believed to be the most natural thing in the world.

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Except when it’s not.

And for me, it wasn’t.

Before I get into the meat of this article, please let me say one thing. For those out there that nurse your babies for any amount of time and you enjoy it, it comes naturally to you, and you think any other choice is a bad one, this post isn’t for you. (Unless of course, you have the desire to hear another perspective. Then by all means, read on.)

This post is for all the moms out there that really struggle(d) with nursing. I’m going to share my nursing experience with all three of my kids, with nothing but the intention to help other struggling moms feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Because choosing to quit nursing, while the best choice for all concerned, was the hardest choice I’ve ever made as a mom.

It’s probably best that I start at the beginning…

My First Baby

To say I was blindsided by motherhood would be an understatement. I read all the books, took all the classes and was straight-up prepared for my amazing adventure as a kick-ass mom who made the best choices for her children. Andrew was born on April 7, 2009. I lost my mind somewhere around April 9, 2009.

I was ADAMANT that I would nurse my children. The pressure I felt to do it robbed me of my newborn experience. We both got thrush, he was extremely unsatisfied and colicky, and his latch wasn’t quite right so every time I nursed him, I was in pain. (This was after being seen by several lactation consultants.) It should also be noted that one of these consultants told me, while I was crying with pain, that all women can breastfeed and women should breastfeed. Wow…thanks for the boost of confidence, lady.

The worst of it was that I felt almost no bond at all with him. I nursed him for 7 weeks before my mom looked at me and told I me that I didn’t need to continue nursing. The day I quit nursing, the fog lifted, my heart lightened, and I started to enjoy being a mom.

Now, when people hear this, most of them say, “Oh, I’m so sorry you had all those troubles. I can understand why you quit.”

I used this experience to justify why I quit.

It seemed if I had significant physical troubles, people were somehow less critical of my decision and I felt like I had given if enough of a try.

Then Came Carter

With Carter, our second child, I again, planned to nurse. Carter was jaundiced and because ensuring he got enough nutrition was important to keep him healthy, I quit nursing the day we came home and just pumped my milk so I knew how much he was getting. When I was ready to quit pumping only after a few weeks, I didn’t have the guilt or shame I’d experienced with Andrew. I really didn’t struggle with the decision at all.

I was confident in my decision and never really looked back.

The Cherry on Top

With Miss Brynlee, I started having nursing anxiety before she even got here. I had never shared my experience with nursing publicly, and I hoped and prayed that with my third baby, I’d have a different story to tell. I hoped I’d be able to persevere through nursing and write an amazing post to encourage other moms to keep trying even if you had troubles with previous children.

I felt a bigger sense of responsibility this time because I write a blog that people read. Some of what I write about relates to parenting. Mommy bloggers do what’s best for their kids. And clearly, nursing is the best, and good moms do it.

As I’m sure you’re guessing by now, that’s not how it went down.

When I started nursing Brynlee in the hospital, I felt we were off to the best start I’d ever had with my kids. By day 4, my milk had rushed in and her latch wasn’t great, she had broken my nipple open and in the middle of the night when I tried to give her just an ounce of formula to settle her, because she just never seemed satisfied, it took me 20 minutes to get her to take a bottle. The panic I felt was palpable and I nearly lost my mind.

I knew right then and there that this wasn’t to work for me.

I’ve never had more shame, guilt or self-loathing about any other thing in my life as I have about the fact that I don’t want to nurse my kids.

The things I told myself that led to the shame…

I’m a smart woman. All the research points to nursing as the only option smart women make.

I’m not a quitter.

I’m not a wimp. I delivered all 3 of my babies without drugs. I should be able to handle a little boob pain.

I do things ‘right’ and the right thing to do is to nurse.

What kind of a mom am I that I’d choose something I know to be less healthy for my baby?

The things I felt that were hard to ignore…

Trapped. Broken. Tied down. Defective. Suffocated. Panicked. Frustrated. Chaotic. Unscheduled. Not bonded to my baby. Anxious. Resentful of my baby. Sad. Guilty. Shameful.

It seems as long as I had a good reason that nursing didn’t work, like getting thrush with Andrew, people were generally very understanding of my reason to quit nursing.

bottlesBut what about the woman who chooses from the start not to nurse? What about the woman who knows herself well enough that she chooses to quit because nursing actually impedes her ability to love being a mom? Is it wrong for a woman to choose an option that is easier for her because her sanity depends on it? Where is the support for that woman?

I am that woman.

I made the choice to quit nursing because I know it’s not what’s best for me and my baby. While all the studies out there indicate that breastfeeding is best and don’t get me wrong, I believe them, I wish someone somewhere would do a study of women who tried to nurse and struggled with emotional issues like I did.

If there were a way to actually measure the negative impact of a mom being so anxiety-ridden and nearly resentful of her baby while nursing, I think we’d find the results to be astonishing.

It only seems logical the energy of those negative feelings would affect your baby’s health.

I believe wholeheartedly, it does. At a minimum, it deeply affects the relationship between mother and baby, and that can’t be a good thing, regardless of the physiological nutrition of the food.

We aren’t talking enough about the fact that some women are not mentally or emotionally wired to nurse a baby. Physically, my milk came in and the pain I experienced (even the bleeding nipple) is normal and would have straightened out with time. Physical issues are the only reasons that people deem allowable when a woman decides not to nurse. (I’m not kidding. Read a forum or two online discussing the breast v. bottle debate. It’s ugly, judgmental stuff.)

I chose to quit nursing because to be successful at it, I’d have to practically become a different person. I’m very Type-A, I like order and predictability, and I like to accomplish things (even something as simple as doing laundry). Being at the whim of an infant and their on-demand feeding schedule doesn’t work for someone like me. It still feels gross to even write that line, but this is who I am. Having a baby doesn’t change everything about who we are, even though society would like us to believe it will.

The bottom line is this: there is no one ‘right’ way to be a mother. As women, we are all different and so are our babies. Anytime we declare there is only one ‘right’ way to do something as a parent, we are standing in judgment of others. Unless you are that other person, you really can’t tell them how to be.

We seem to get really hung up on the ‘hows’ of motherhood. How we feed them, how we discipline them, how to potty train them, how we play with them, etc., etc. And yes, those things are important. But if one way seems wrong or simply doesn’t work for you, try what does.

This is why we were given intuition. We need to listen to it and follow it. No book, online resource or other person can live your life for you, so the choices you make need to make sense for you and your individual situation.

No matter stage of mothering you’re in, it’s not the methods you choose that determine whether you’re a good mom. The important thing is that those choices are made in love. A balance of love for your child and love for yourself. That’s what makes you a great mother.

The entire journey of motherhood is a dance. A dance where we balance out what our children need with what feels right to us. Honoring yourself as a mom is never a wrong decision. After all, one day, isn’t it our hope that you little ones will honor themselves? We show them how by modeling it for them.

I now feed my baby with a bottle and I can look at her, talk to her, kiss her and snuggle her until she’s ready to eat again. And when she is ready to eat again, I feel no stress, no panic and no negative feelings about it. It feels like the most natural thing in the world.

For those of you that experienced bliss while nursing, I really do admire you. I think you’re an amazing mom and your babies are blessed to have you.

For those of you that tried nursing, hated it and stuck it out because you thought it was best for your baby, I’m proud of you. I think you’re an amazing mom and your babies are blessed to have you.

For those of you that didn’t want to nurse or quit early like I did, you aren’t broken, defective, selfish, or lazy. I think you’re an amazing mom and your babies are blessed to have you.

Let’s continue to honor each other even if our journeys look different.

I’d love to hear your feedback and your personal stories. I just ask that we keep the comments constructive. There’s enough pain around the subject as it is.

Motherhood should feel like a club where admission is not based on the individual choices we make but by the fact that we have the role to begin with.

Late Pregnancy Anxiety…

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One of the two pregnancy pics I’ve taken with this one. I was just past 36 weeks here.

Lately, I’ve been having some anxiety.

And just so I’m clear, right up-front…this isn’t a call for help. I support woman to live confident lives and frankly, we can’t be confident if we can’t talk about how we really feel.

My anxiety boils down to where I’m at with this third baby situation. Overall, here’s what I’m struggling with:

The Struggles

Delivery

One of the biggest disadvantages of small town living is that we don’t have a full service hospital. Now, don’t get me wrong, ours is good for where we live, but they stopped delivering babies right after I had my oldest. We doctor 85 miles away. If my water were to break at home, there’s a chance I will not make it to the hospital. My own doctor believes that based on how quickly I delivered my second. Now, there’s the option to head straight to the ER where I live, but I was visiting with a doctor from there yesterday, and she said, “No, get in the car and get as close to your hospital as you can.”

At my 38 week appointment yesterday, my own doctor said, “No. Stick with your plan. If your water breaks, get on the road.”

I mean, really?!? Holy shit. She went into all the things they are likely unprepared to do, like resuscitate a baby if necessary. She even said that immediate post-natal care for infants changes all the time and that nothing scares an ER staff more than a pregnant lady. Give them a lopped off limb and they’re good with it. Gushing amniotic fluid and a crowning head? Not so much.

I’m been plagued with dreams of delivering in the back of our car on the interstate. I can say that my husband will be a rockstar in the event this occurs. He’s rational and level-headed so he’ll be calming for me, but if it gets right down to it and he has to zip-tie the umbilical cord because I just popped out a kid (and yes, that’s actually his preferred product…you know over buying some string or something that sounds less farmer-like), I’m not sure what he’ll think. He may never look at me the same again.

My Support System

This is hands-down, unequivocally, the WORST time of year for me to have a baby. Most people already know this. It’s not news.

But this past week, I’ve been doing what I can to help my mom get ready for her seasonal pumpkin patch business. I have had a pretty consistent pit in my stomach since. It’s not like I’m the world’s greatest help to her, but I know what’s going on. We’re a team and even though she does more than 90% of the work to prepare, I feel like we’ve always been close to equals when the season actually hits. I’m good with people and managing the business part of it for her. Now, she’s relying on a lot of other people to make it happen and I’m just struggling.

Now for the quick pity party…at least we can backfill the schedule with other people for her. What about me and this new baby? My husband will be in the field and for the first full month, my mom will be completely indisposed.

There are a lot of people who will help me. I just have to reach out. But, I’m not good at that. I’m certainly going to have to get good at asking if I want to get through it.

Family Dynamic

The last area of stress overall just relates to how this baby will change our lives. We’ve got a pretty good thing going in our household right now and the idea of going back to no schedule and no sleep is seriously tripping me out.

Obviously, I’m getting closer to having this baby, so everyone wants to know if I’m excited. I hesitate nearly every time I’m asked. I mean, sure I am. But, I like order. And babies are chaos. What can I say? And this is one of those areas where you have to tread lightly. People don’t want to hear that you’re not 100% stoked. They want me to beam with pride and glow with anticipation. That glow is sweat. Anxiety-induced sweat.

The Lessons

Clearly, there are lessons hidden, and more often buried, in everything that happens in our lives.

In case you’ve forgotten, I do confess to be somewhat of a control freak, so not having a lot of influence over a situation is a difficult place for me to spend time. I guess you could say I’m outside my comfort zone. And I know that when I’m there, I’m being challenged to grow.

Maybe I’m tired of growing at this point. (I am physically, that’s for sure.)

At the end of the day, I know that I am loved by a God that believes I’m capable of handling all of this. He also is not-so-gently reminding me that I never was nor will I ever be, in control.

So, here’s how I’m actually coping and if you’re finding yourself in an ‘out-of-your-control’ situation in your life, I hope these ideas will help.

The Strategies

DC Golden Book

All the pearls of wisdom from DC’s books packaged in a handy little pocket-sized surprise. Highly recommend getting several and storing them in multiple places.

All of these strategies come straight from Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. His techniques can be applied to business or personal life and I use them religiously.

  • Live in ‘day-tight’ compartments

I basically only try to think about what’s right in front of me. At this juncture, all my stress lies ahead, it’s not so much about the past, but focusing on either robs you of today. It robs today of its beauty, fun and energy. You can’t be good at what you’re doing today if you’re fretting over past mistakes or thinking incessantly about what’s to come.

  • Use the following 3 step process:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”

  2. Prepare to accept the worst.

  3. Try to improve on the worst

This is a great technique. I’ve actually sat down and thought through this with each of the areas I’m struggling in. With delivery, the ultimate worst that could happen is that my baby or I wouldn’t live.

Now truly, there’s no reason to believe that will happen nor can I really accept it (at least right now), so barring that, the worst that could happen is that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital. I have accepted that as a possibility. And, we’ve got a decent contingency plan in place to cope. (And really…it would make for one hell of a story for you read about later, wouldn’t it?)

With the post-baby fears, the worst that could happen is that I’d have a very sick or colicky baby. This is a potential reality all new moms have to accept. The only way I can improve on this situation is to remember that my #1 job as the mother of a newborn is that baby. Yes, I have two other kids, but I’ll have to get good at offloading them to friends and other family if my baby is really struggling. It will be quite the ride, but we really are so loved and we’ll figure it all out.

  • Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries

This is another useful and rational principle. Basically, there are many ways that labor can start. While the chances are decent that my water could break at home, how likely is it that we won’t make it to the hospital? (There are not THAT many stories of women delivering babies on the side of the road.) The point of this principle is that we tend to get really focused on that worst case scenario, which is usually one of the unlikeliest outcomes. We end up exerting a lot of energy worrying and fretting about things that are likely to never pass.

It’s also a solid reminder that our thoughts carry energy. Thinking about only the worst case scenario all the time creates a whirlwind of negativity. Changing our thoughts to productive, positive thoughts is a challenge, but one worth pursuing.

  • Pray

Yep. Mr. Carnegie has this in his timeless book. It’s one of the pillars of my sanity at this point. God brought me to this place and He’ll carry me through it. (Oh and I know that I can’t put this all on God. I know how babies are made. A fun night away in Fargo is all it took and while it wasn’t planned or on my radar at all, it happened because we let it.)

Through prayer, I also ask to be reminded of the incredible blessings babies bring. The truth is, I’ve never been a good ‘newborn’ mom. I love it when they get to about 4 months. Rock throwing can commence at any time.

I seriously just never did that well with infants and don’t even start me on the topic of nursing. (I’m sure I’ll share the full scope of this once we’re in the throes again, but needless to say, it’s not pretty.)

So, I’m praying for strength. I’m praying for support. I’m praying for peace. I’m praying for confidence. I’m praying.

In the end, this will all be as it’s meant to be. I just have to roll with it. The other side contains blessings and further lessons that at this point, I can’t even comprehend.

There’s really nothing left to do but throw my hands in the air and enjoy the ride. As scary, uncertain and even thrilling as it might be.

What about you? What stuff are you struggling with? What’s keeping you up at night? Share your stories! We are all here to support one another and when we help each other, all our struggles seem less daunting.

Inspiring Confidence Series: Meet Sarah Thacker

I’m excited to debut a new series on How Mommy Got Her Groove Back. I believe the core essence of what I’m here to do is to inspire confidence in other women. Whether it’s confidence in mothering, confidence in your career, confidence in your body image or overall confidence in yourself, the goal is the same: in order to be confident, there is a fundamental need to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you want to be.

While I certainly have my own journey with this topic, this business has allowed me to meet SO many other women who are living confident lives in their own way. I want to showcase their stories. We all need inspiration. Here’s today’s dose:

A Chance Lunch Meeting

About three weeks ago, I was in Fergus Falls, MN, for a client engagement. I was with a colleague who had told me we’d be having lunch at a local cafe and going to a Noonday party. I had never before heard of Noonday, but she told me it was cute jewelry, which I love and she told me to bring my wallet, which I did, so naturally I was game!

Little did I know that I’d be so inspired by the story of the woman who was selling it and the story of where this jewelry came from.

Meet Sarah Thacker

When I first walked into the back room of this little cafe and my friend introduced me to Sarah, I immediately liked her. Now, for those who know me, I describe myself as a ‘three drinks into the night hugger even while stone sober’ meaning I don’t do well with personal space and often feel the need to hug people I meet immediately. While I didn’t hug her right then, I certainly felt compelled.

At first, I simply walked around, browsing the goods (and boy, are they GOOD!) but I then picked up a catalog and starting asking Sarah a few questions. I learned that she has five kiddos of her own, one of which was adopted from Haiti. Her passion for keeping families together was so evident that I became even more interested in the story of Noonday and how this business helped her fulfill that passion. Read Sarah’s story here.

About Noonday Collection

Noonday Collection is a business that has the mission to “create economic opportunity for the vulnerable”. They do that by partnering with real men and women in 10 countries around the world to source their jewelry and accessories. These local artisans handcraft every single piece and this work is allowing them to rise out of poverty and provide for their families. Just reading some of the stories of transformation and confidence these individuals are finding through this work is nothing short of incredible. I personally loved the stories of Grace and Sofiya and I urge you read up on the others here.

Beautiful Products

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The story of how these products came to be certainly is inspiring, but the model wouldn’t work if the pieces themselves weren’t beautiful. Here’s what I picked out that day…

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This bracelet, The Woven Wonders Cuff is simply beautiful. Each piece comes with it’s own tag that tells the story of where it was made, along with some background on the country. As you can see each piece is ‘made with love’.

 

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The Del Mar Necklace might be my new favorite piece of jewelry. It can be dressed up or down and the first time I wore it, many people complimented me on it. Each piece is handcrafted and the story of this craftsmanship is amazing. From hand dyeing fabrics to turning old artillery into a bracelet, the stories of how these items are made is also worth a look.

 

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And finally, here’s my new scarf: The Angelica Infinity Scarf. Should go perfectly with all my fall (and hopefully, smaller-sized!) attire.

In case you’re wondering, yes, by the time I left the cafe that day, I gave Sarah a big ol’ hug. I was just touched by the story, by the work and by the fact that all of us can participate in some small way.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do:

  1. Check out the amazing products that can be purchased through Noonday and consider buying them for yourself or as a gift. It’s about women supporting other women. We create the marketplace that allows these people to work.
  2. Find something that gets you this passionate! The reason I wanted to feature Sarah is that she intentionally stepped out to support something that matters to her. She’s bettering the world because of it, too.
  3. Tell me about other women who I can/should feature in this series. The stories I hear everyday are what make this work worthwhile, so bring ‘em on! I want to know who is changing the world and inspiring confidence in your life!

Time Marches On

Today, I sent my first son off to kindergarten.

He was excited.

I was anxious and unsure.

Along with all my unexpected feelings, I was painfully reminded of another of life’s certainties: Time marches on.

It’s so easy to lose ourselves in our roles; as moms, wives, sisters, friends, etc. We get completely wrapped in doing everything for everyone else and we forget that what we want/need does matter. We are SO much more than the combination of those roles.

For many of us, we feel that little pull. Call it a whisper. Call it an inkling. Call it a calling. We feel pulled to do more. Be different. Step out. Be bold.

But, we feel afraid. The status quo is easier. So, we keep delaying. We keep justifying that we’re too busy. We keep ourselves stuck where we are.

In this quick video (I’m a mess, so pardon me), I simply share how hard this reality hit home today.

How I spend my life and what choices I make are up to me. If I’m unhappy with something in my life, only I can change it. No more excuses. Time marches on.

And so it is with you. What changes do you need to make? And what on earth are you waiting for?

 

Communicate Your Highest Value

Be RealImagine a world where you…

Knew your value.

Understood what makes you ‘special’.

Could leverage that value to better communicate with the people you love and the people at work.

Would stop questioning why you can’t be ‘more like them’.

Wouldn’t life be easier in that world? Well, it’s not only possible, it’s attainable!

Conforming is What’s Expected Of Us

Fitting in is the goal for the majority of our early years.

When I think back on all the times I didn’t follow my gut or do what felt instinctively right, it’s downright alarming.

I’ve had several job experiences that showed me it’s safer to blend in than to stand out. In one sales position, I was actually told to sell more like a man and that would help me be successful. (Really…can you even imagine??) Whenever I started to shine with my true gifts, I was quickly reminded that ‘we don’t really do things that way around here’.

Most of the relationships I had prior to my husband were based on me trying to become what I thought they needed.

Even now, the guilt I feel at times over motherhood, is usually because I feel like my instincts aren’t ‘maternal’ enough and that I’m not approaching a particular situation the way most other moms would.

The truth is….conforming sucks. Conforming forces us to wear masks and robs us of real connection.

How About a New Way

What if, instead of trying to be like other people or conform to what other people do, we could learn to embrace our natural style and gifts?

It’s possible and it’s oh so easy…once you have the right information.

I recently discovered Sally Hogshead’s work about what makes brands and people fascinating. I bought her book How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination.

This book has provided me with a wealth of information about myself, the way I can best bring value to the world and most importantly, how I can use that information to show up for my family and my clients.

Based on years of research, Sally has discovered 7 different Advantages that allow people to add value in their own specific way.

“There isn’t one Advantage that’s better than the others. However, there are one or two that will be most effective and authentic for you. Tap into your particular Advantages, and you’ll become the most valuable you.” ~ Sally Hogshead

Sally describes the 7 Advantages as follows:

  • Power: You communicate with authority and confidence.

  • Passion: You build connections with warmth and enthusiasm.

  • Mystique: You impress with analytical skills and thoughtful communication.

  • Prestige: You earn respect by setting high standards.

  • Alert: You keep people and projects on track by managing the details.

  • Innovation: You push a company to innovate with your creative ideas.

  • Trust: You earn loyalty as a consistent and familiar presence

In this video, I share my personal results (which happen to be spot-on) and what I’ve come to learn from them. (Hint: my personal results make perfect sense of why I’ve struggled to work for other people and honestly, made me feel like maybe I’m not 100% batshit crazy)

At around the 4:00 minute mark, I share 3 key ways you can use your own Fascination Advantages to better communicate.

Want to Know Your Unique Style?

To find out how you add distinct value:

We’re all different. We all have our own set of natural abilities.

And when you communicate using your own unique advantages, you communicate with your voice. Your truth. This builds authentic relationships with other people and is the foundation for real connection.

As Dr. Seuss once said,“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, be yourself.

Find out how you add value and OWN it.

Want your own code to share with your friends, family and co-workers?

Join the Project Fascination here.

Most of us can think of a time when we didn’t fit in. Comment here or on Facebook and share your story! It’s nothing to be ashamed of…it proves you simply weren’t in the right place!

Lawn Spots, Marshmallows and the Art of Patience

Self Control and Delayed Gratificationdelayed gratification

Earlier this summer, a revelation struck me while I was out in my yard attempting to grow grass. Because the grass I was trying to grow was in spots all over (102 dog piss spots to be exact), it was quite the undertaking. I took this picture right after I mowed the first time after planting the grass seed. To protect the seed and keep it damp, we chose to mow around as many of them as we could while the grass took off. I laughed out loud as I thought about how this grass growing adventure is all about delayed gratification. I have no choice but to be patient, keep watering it, add more grass seed as necessary, and wait. Then wait some more. Pray for sun. Keep on watering. And wait. I also knew I’d have to deal with my lawn looking like this for some time as improvements weren’t going to happen overnight. In fact, I knew there would be progress occurring under the surface that might take weeks for me to see. I started pondering why I found this whole task so frustrating and then I remembered; I’m not a naturally patient person.

There are many sayings that glorify the idea of delayed gratification. “Patience is a virtue.” “Good things come to those who wait.” “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that I’m not the most patient person. When I decide I want something, I generally want it yesterday. Every time we’ve moved into a different house (and we’ve had 5 of them since we’ve been married), within a week of moving it, you’d think we’d lived there for years. I’m a typical impulse buyer because when I see something I want, I WANT it. This could largely explain my inability to clean up my diet. I see chocolate. I eat it.

You get the picture.

I am, however, a mother. I’ve potty-trained one kid and am in the midst of working with my second. I’ve tried to get my youngest son to stop biting. I attempted to nurse babies. I’ve taken pacifiers away. We’ve battled ear infections, fevers and teething. Motherhood has handed me a big ol’ pile of situations where it didn’t really matter what I wanted, I had to wait it out to see improvements.

There are things right now I’m dealing with that force me to exercise patience and self-control, even if it’s against my nature. I cut my hair short last year and I’m now growing it back out. Patience. I’m pregnant. I mean, really?!?! Patience. We’re trying to get our house ready for arrival of this child and my husband would much rather golf than tackle my amazing list. Patience. (Just for the record, he’s been pretty incredible lately. There. I gave him a genuine and heartfelt compliment. I even made it public.)

As I was out in my yard thinking about delayed gratification, I couldn’t help but think of the one area of my life though that continues to tap my patience meter: my professional life. And by professional life, I’m referring to my own businesses, not just How Mommy Got Her Groove Back but also my network marketing business. I want results. I want success. I want to help people. And I want it yesterday.

Here’s the good news: there is hope for me. And you too, if you struggle with exercising patience and self-control. We can actually learn how to stretch our ‘patience muscle’. With practice and focus, we can become better at both self-control and the intended result of delayed gratification.

To test my thoughts on this, I reenacted an experiment often referred to as the Marshmallow Experiment that was conducted by Stanford professor of psychology, Walter Mischel, in the late 1960s, early 1970s. The intent of the experiment was to test the self-control and patience of the test subjects along with their ability to delay gratification.

My test subjects were my kids, Andrew (5) and Carter (very nearly 3). In this experiment, you tell the subjects they have two choices. 1) When you leave the room, they can eat one marshmallow, which you leave on the table. OR 2) If they don’t eat the first one, when you return after a set amount of time, which in my case, was about 3 minutes, (in the original experiment they were gone for 15 minutes, but with Carter’s attention span, I doubt he still would have been at the table), they could have 2 marshmallows.

In the original Stanford experiment, they found that some kids naturally just gobbled up the first marshmallow without so much as a thought and others were able to exercise self-control and wait for the bigger reward. They then followed the journey of these children and discovered that those who were able to delay gratification did better overall in life, including achieving higher SAT scores. It’s true that one’s ability to exercise self-control, think beyond the moment and make good choices considering the long-term consequences is certainly helpful in life. It’s at the root of what allows us to reach goals, make smart choices, avoid temptations and stick to commitments.

(Note: I’m not a researcher so please don’t get yourself in a tizzy about how I didn’t choose the right variables, didn’t properly set up my controls, etc., etc. I did this simply to test my own preconceptions about patience and self-control. Plus, this video is funny. I mean really, I giggle each time I watch it.)

Watch the video below to see our experiment:

Here are my takeaways from this little experiment and what I think we can all learn as we’re pushing to achieve long-term goals.

Keep the larger goal in front of you.

In the video, you notice that I actually chose to leave both marshmallows on the table. Leaving it in their presence reminded them of what they were waiting for. At 2:36, you can hear Andrew say, “Oh, I really want one right now…” and he puts his head down on the table. Having BOTH marshmallows in front of him was the reminder that he could forgo eating the one in order to get two.

This is why I recommend a vision board. Get your goal in front of you so when you have a crappy day, you are visually reminded of the goal. It reminds you WHY you should choose delayed gratification, especially when you’re having a tough day and taking a shortcut starts to tempt you.

For me, it looks like this: I call someone I believe would be perfect for my business and they don’t see it or flat out reject what I say. People fail to show up to a meeting or a phone appointment. I get absolutely zero response on a blog post or some other work that I believe to be brilliant. I feel the fear of doing what I know I should do, so I make excuses or allow myself to be distracted by things that won’t bring me success. I start saying the following things to myself: “It would be easier to just quit.” “I wish I could just have a boss to tell me what to do next.” “I’m tired of people judging me for choosing this business.” “I’d rather watch TV than attend that event, watch that webinar, make that phone call, etc., etc.”

On days like this, I look to my vision board and I remind myself that this is just one moment. One day. The long-term goal is still there and is still worthy of pursuit. Basically, having the goal right there reminds me that this is MY goal. I have to take responsibility for it and my choices alone will dictate the outcome.

Who you surround yourself with DOES matter.

I am fully convinced that had little Carter been alone at that table, he would have snarfed up both marshmallows the second I exited the room. Throughout the video, Andrew reminded him what he’d miss out on if he ate the first one. THIS is the type of support we need around us. Someone to lovingly remind us that we’re about to do something that will derail the longer term plan. Someone to tell you the truth. Someone to encourage you. Big goals require big support.

Who is on your team? Who is your tribe? FIND THEM. You may need them at times when you’re feeling weak, uncertain or want to quit.

Get busy and you’ll forget what you’re missing out on.

I love the point in the video where the boys simply distract each other by being silly. In my business, I will find myself daydreaming about my vision, about that glorious day in the future when it all seems easy, business is great and I’m living my purpose. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m always living my purpose and when I take inspired action, my goals will come to fruition. When we simply ‘get busy’, we can often forget that we’re sacrificing anything in the short-term because inspired action feels good. And good feelings create flow. Getting busy is one of the easiest ways to thwart the negative thoughts that are standing between you and your goal.

Ensure you’re working in an environment where you trust people to do what they say they’ll do.

This idea is based on new research around the marshmallow experiment. A researcher named Celeste Kidd, a cognitive science graduate student at the University of Rochester, is the author of this new body of work. She suggests the way the kids respond is more about whether they inherently trust not just the adult that’s giving the directions, but adults in general. For example, children from backgrounds of neglect or abuse would most certainly eat the marshmallow and it ties little to their self-control.

This certainly makes sense to me and is a thought to be considered. In my network marketing business, I work for a company that I truly believe in. I believe that if I do what they show me to do, take action every day, that I’ll see the results I want to see. The environment is one that I trust.

It’s why more and more people are leaving typical jobs to pursue their own thing. There seems at times, to be little trust in management and the standard corporate structure. Companies can no longer promise that if you work 40 years at the same place, you’ll be rewarded. Those days are past.

So as you’re working toward your big goal and you feel like you’re making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains, be sure you’re working in an environment that warrants your patience.

I may always struggle a bit with patience, but while I think ‘ good things come to those who wait’, I more emphatically believe good things come to those who get clear on what they want, write a vision to get it and surround themselves with people who support those dreams. Whether it’s a business pursuit, becoming a healthier person or just all-around personal development, these goals/visions are a journey. And if you’re a mom, and you feel like you could use some guidance with this, check out Project You: Finding Yourself in the Chaos of Motherhood. It’s designed to help you get after those dreams by following a plan.

What about you? What are areas of your life where you’re not as patient as you need to be or struggle with a lack of self-control? As always, please tell me your thoughts by sharing in the comments section or on Facebook! I’ll be ‘patiently’ waiting to hear from you…

Lean Out

There’s More Than One Way to Lean

Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In” caused quite a ruckus when it was published in 2013. I’m not doing a review of that book here. You can find those anywhere on the internet. I do want to share my perspective, not so much on the book itself, but on another route that women can take to become successful and fulfill positions of leadership.

faviconI call it Leaning Out.

I believe Sheryl genuinely wants women all over the world to step into their power and she and I are in complete agreement on that. But as I read the book, I felt a bit of a defiance against it. Almost a defensiveness building up inside me that was unnerving at the time. Those feelings stem from the fact that I believe I’m perfectly capable of taking a leadership position within a company and I have. The reason I’m not still there has nothing to do with my feelings that I couldn’t be both a good mom and be a good leader. It had everything to do with the environment.

(Quick sidebar on the book: I really struggled with her view on the “partner” in your life. She claimed that in order to be a top leader, you’d need an equal partner at home. That may be perfectly true…if you’re in a corporate environment. But again, what does that mean for someone like me? I’m married to a farmer. He’s not even CLOSE to an equal partner on the homefront. I don’t believe that means I’m doomed in the leadership department unless I leave him. Which I seriously wasn’t planning on doing…at least not today.)

This past weekend, I caught a relatively new TEDtalk from the infamous Simon Sinek. His most popular TEDtalk on the topic of starting with why is not to be missed. Catch it here.

This new talk caught my attention for a few reasons: 1) I LOVE talking about leadership. It has nothing to do with titles and everything to do with influence. 2) He mentioned feelings. I often find that we are reticent to talk about feelings when discussing leadership and they are the key to awakening the capacity within people. 3) I am passionate about helping moms/women realize they can do whatever they want to do. Motherhood and work success are not mutually exclusive. It’s a both/and proposition, not an either/or. This talk reaffirmed some of the reasons I chose to ‘lean out’. While Sheryl Sandberg is encouraging women of America and beyond to lean in, I’m as much (and truthfully, if not more) in support of helping women lean out.

This TEDtalk reminded me of a children’s movie. (Happens all the time. After all, I’m a mom, right?!) It reminded me of Dreamworks “The Croods”. In the movie “The Croods”, the father, Grug, instills a belief in his family that anything new is bad. Curiosity is bad. And along with that belief, is the one that if they don’t follow the rules, they will inevitably die, so they leave their cave only to find food. They hide from the world.

thecroods

His wild and curious daughter, Eep, feels an internal struggle against this philosophy. She yearns to explore, live outside their cave and try new things.

Enter Guy. He shows their family throughout the movie that the world will continue to threaten their existence and their old ways of warding off these threats won’t continue to work. The world will change and they will have to adapt to survive.

Once they stop being so fearful and Grug starts leading his family based on trust and respect rather than fear, each of their natural gifts start to emerge. They begin to thrive instead of survive. My favorite line of the movie is from Eep, as she openly defies her father when he suggests they find another cave to live in, “That wasn’t living. That was just not dying.

OK, so stick with me here. This has EVERYTHING to do with leaning out.

I am Eep. Every leader I’ve ever worked for is Grug. We were a work unit. A team. A company. Whenever the leader’s plans or ideas, values or beliefs conflicted with mine, I felt a rebellion against it. I wanted to try new things, explore new paths and many times, I worked for people that wanted to do things ‘the way they’d always done it’.

I was being paid to do these jobs, even the work itself was fulfilling and dare I say it, I was good at it. I certainly wasn’t dying. But because I was limiting myself, hiding my gifts, not fulfilling my potential as a person and forgetting to pursue my dreams, I sure as hell wasn’t living either.

Success Requires a Tribe

Dangers are constant and they are not going away.familyfillcircle

We are not the Croods. While our literal existence may not be in danger, the uncertainty of the economy is a significant danger/threat for most people right now. Even the most ‘secure’ of jobs are being eliminated, layoffs are commonplace and restructuring is still the order of the day. Competition is a daily threat to businesses.

We cannot eliminate the threats. They are out of our control and they are scary. To ward off the threats, you become a part of a group. (Check out Grug’s Family Kill Circle on the right.)

If Done Right, Everyone Can Succeed (Not Just the Leader)

If you get the environment right, every single one of us has the capacity to do remarkable things, and more importantly, others have that capacity, too.

Simon Sinek opens this talk sharing that in times when he’s witnessed extreme acts of leadership, he always assumed they were better people. Just wired for service. That theory would suggest that there are there are two classifications of people. The haves and have-nots of success.

The truth is, we are ALL wired for success. Our success largely depends on the environment we chose to be a part of. It’s about the companies we join, the teams we’re a part of and the overall safety we feel in that group. This is where the choice to lean out becomes all the more enticing. Keep on reading…I’m getting there.

You Can’t Demand Trust

Trust and cooperation are feelings; Not instructions.

We can’t make people trust us. We can’t snap our fingers and demand cooperation. These feelings (and they ARE feelings) stem from a deep abiding belief that our leader and our co-workers have our backs. Calling your work group a tribe implies something more than just working together. It’s sharing, living, supporting, encouraging and ultimately, protecting one another. This doesn’t happen overnight or without effort, and this idea of a tribe is sorely missing from most work environments.

As the Leader, You Go First

The leader sets the tone.

As the leader of my home, I set the tone for how safe and secure my family feels. In a work group, the leader does the same. If as a leader, you have zero tolerance for mistakes, are quick to blame, or just flat out refuse to walk your own talk, you are giving people reason to mistrust you. Once they mistrust you, they start to mistrust each other and seek out support of others that feel as they do, creating factions and divisions among your organization.

People Thrive When They Can Be Themselves

If the conditions are wrong, we are forced to spend our own time and energy protecting ourselves from each other. When we feel safe inside our organization, we will naturally combine our talents and strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers and seize new opportunities…together.

This point simply reaffirms my choice to stop working for other people. There have been several times in my employment history it became clear to me that I couldn’t/shouldn’t trust the leadership. I became a different person when I had to start thinking hard about what I said, how I said it, who I could trust, who liked me, who didn’t, who had my team’s best intentions in mind, etc., etc. All of that spent energy on just mere survival does not create an environment where people can thrive.

But, on the flip side, when we feel safe, ‘people naturally combine their talents and strengths’. There is no need to force it. It happens organically. They work together, they appreciate one another and they accomplish BIG things. Do they still face threats? Sure. But they face them together, working as a group, instead of in divided factions or silos.

Catch the full TEDtalk here:

As women, we have more business choices today than ever before. If climbing the corporate ladder is your aim, more power to you, friend. If you’re working for a company (and I know they DO exist) where you have a safe, trusting environment that allows your gifts/talents to shine, that’s awesome. (Shameless plug: If you’re a leader of a company who wants this environment and doesn’t have it, we should connect. Through my work with Dale Carnegie Training, we provide solutions to culture challenges just like this.)

But, if you’re like me, and you have a deep drive to accomplish something more and you feel like it needs to be on your own terms, just know that there are options. You too, can lean out.

I am a blogger. I am an online business owner. I am a virtual franchise owner. I am also a contracted employee for a global company. I make choices about what I do, how I do it and with whom I do it. The most important thing is that all the work I do is now in alignment with who I am. I get to just be Rebecca. I love the people I work with and I get to choose who they are. We leverage each person’s strengths and as a team, are better for it.

Since starting this blog, I can’t tell you the number of women who have reached out and told me they feel this way. I welcome those phone calls and discussions. I want to help women realize you can be a great mom and still be a driven, bright, and successful business woman. And you can find a place where you get to be you. Authentically, genuinely, beautifully you. You just need to be in the right place with the right people. (Second shameless plug: Let’s chat. I’d be thrilled to discuss opportunities with you.)

There’s never been a better time to do it. If you feel like you’ve been dying to do something like this, just do it. Take the leap. Lean out.

What do you think? What freaks you out about leaning out? This topic is such a passion of mine. I want to dialogue about this. Comment here or jump on over to the Facebook page and let’s get to chatting about it.

Here’s to your groove, whichever way you may lean!

 

 

 

2, 4, 6, 8…Who do YOU Appreciate?

Join me in the Penny Challenge!

Who couldn’t use a little more kindness and genuine appreciation in their life?

I’d like to invite you to join me in doing the penny challenge. Here’s how it works: Put 5 pennies, marbles, paper clips, etc. in your pocket at the beginning of the day. Each time you share specific appreciation with someone, move one of the objects to the opposite pocket. By the end of the day, your goal is to move all of the objects to the opposite pocket. My personal goal is to do this challenge for 30 straight days. I was inspired to do this for several reasons.

penniesI believe we’re an appreciation challenged society.

We see things we like, admire and even value, but rarely do we open our mouths to give voice to it. The people in our lives are craving it. (Even if they claim they don’t need it.)

People want to be valued for who they are, not just what they do.

After I had a few days to cool down after my mom meltdown, I was able to articulate to my husband that I often feel like I’m just a sum of the roles I play, i.e. wife, cook, gardener, nanny, housekeeper, etc. I told him that since he could hire those jobs to be done by someone else entirely, it gives me no understanding of what he actually appreciates about me. I needed to know what it is about me specifically that makes him love/value/respect me. That’s exactly what other people in our lives deserve as well. So, articulate it.

Gratitude IS an attitude and one that needs practicing.

On most given days, there are many, many things to admire/appreciate. And yes, while you’re on the floor in a puddle, you may not see much, but on an average day, there’s gotta be something. This challenge reminds you to look for it. The physical presence of the pennies reminds you to be watching. If you find you’re not moving them, perhaps you’re focusing on what’s not working or what people are doing wrong. This clearly helps us stay out of judgement of others as well.

Appreciation allows for connection.

One of the hardest things about being a mom is the loneliness we all feel at times. Working in an office setting, this challenge should be relatively easy. You’re surrounded by people, whether they are co-workers, clients, vendors, suppliers, etc. Taking the time to honor someone for who they are is an instant means of connection with that person. For me, this simple act can combat the loneliness I feel working from home. This can help the stay-at-home mommies, too. You can give appreciation over Facebook, email or text, if you won’t physically see them. The point is that you’re on the lookout for the good. And I mean, really?? Our kids can’t be ALL bad, right? One or two of those pennies could be moved just for them.

I would love to hear what you think about this and if you’re doing the challenge, give me a shout on my Facebook page every now and then! I’ll occasionally post how I’m doing, too. Some unnamed quote has floated around Facebook and while I can’t attribute it to a specific person, I can and will share it: Kindness is free. Sprinkle that shit everywhere. :-) Happy sprinkling!

Why I’ve Been MIA

My Mom Meltdown and What it Taught Me About Shame

I haven’t posted a blog update in a couple of weeks, which isn’t typical for me. I blog to invite you into my life and heart. There are several reasons for this: 1. There’s a catharsis for me in writing. It cleanses me of my thoughts and since I work from home and don’t interact with people as much as I’d like, it gives me a way to connect with others. 2. I want to help people. I especially want to help moms. If something I write can make them feel just a little less batshit crazy, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. 3. We NEED each other. This motherhood road is far too treacherous to try and navigate alone. I learn something every day from the women who read this blog.

So, what does a person do when they don’t feel they have anything to offer? How do you put something on paper when you’re feeling so dark and down about your current situation that you can’t imagine sharing it with anyone else? Well, that’s what happened to me this past Saturday. I had a nuclear breakdown of epic proportions. The couple of weeks leading up to it and what happened that day are what I’m going to share today. The only purpose of this post is to remind you that shame only remains shame when it’s kept in the dark. So, bring on the light.

Spring is always a very difficult time for my family. My husband is a farmer and he sells seed. While I would never claim to understand what a military spouse or single mother have to contend with, I do believe that many of us have faced times when we had to be mom, dad, plumber, carpenter, cook, gardener, etc., etc., etc. How long this lasts isn’t the issue. It sucks even if it’s a day. My world becomes that every spring. This was the hardest spring on record since moving here with the exception of the year we had Andrew in the spring and I suffered postpartum depression.

I just didn’t feel like I could manage it all. Every day, I felt like I ran around taking care of the yard, making plans for the new baby room that needs to be built, just keeping my two boys alive and of course, working on my 3 businesses in the midst of it all. I like being busy, so it wasn’t really the work. It was that I had NO ONE to share it with. NO ONE to bounce ideas off of. NO ONE to just talk to. Working from home doesn’t allow me to physically see many people. And frankly, my kids don’t count. Sorry, they just don’t. With a lack of people to share the burden with, life starts to become really heavy. And truthfully, this isn’t anyone’s fault. The yuckier I felt, the more I started to feel myself retreating from the people that were there. It was last Saturday that the weight of it all nearly broke me.

lonelinessI woke up and it was raining. That was exciting! I knew I’d get time with Jeremiah to sit and visit with him about all the things I’d been thinking about and needed his input on. He was really tired so he slept late. I got this kids up, like I always do, got them breakfast and we played for a while. It was late in the morning when I finally went in to visit with him. Well, let’s just say it didn’t go well. He was annoyed that I was bombarding him with questions, which in turn, made me annoyed that he couldn’t see how desperately I needed to talk to him. All my pent-up feelings and let’s be honest, resentment, bubbled over and I started to cry. He looked at me and said, “There’s no reason to cry about this. Just quit fretting about this stuff.” Hmm…not exactly what a hormonal, emotionally spent mom needs to hear. I walked to our bathroom, closed the door, left the light off and bawled on the floor for a LONG time. As I laid there in a puddle of tears, snot, sweat, resentment, guilt, shame, fear and unworthiness, here are the thoughts that ran through my mind, in no particular order:

I don’t want to be a farmer’s wife anymore. I don’t want THIS life anymore. I can’t bring another baby into this world. This chaos. This mess. I obviously can’t handle what I’ve got. I take care of EVERYTHING around here. What the hell does he even value about me and how can he tell me to not cry and not fret? Is this all there is….really?? Why can’t I get my shit together? The other women I know in this community don’t have nervous breakdowns every spring, so what’s wrong with me? Why do I have to be so Type-A? Why can’t I just relax and let things slide a little? I bring a lot of this on myself by being such a perfectionist. I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I should be grateful. I have so much to be thankful for, why am I struggling to see it? I need to leave. Maybe I should just run, but where would I go? Where can I go? I need to talk to someone, but who I can trust with all of this? Who can I turn to that won’t judge me and tell me to suck it up. I wish I could have a drink. I understand why people drink and use drugs to numb the feelings. These feelings SUCK. Some f’ing role model I am. Why would people want to work with someone who doesn’t have it together? I’m a fraud. I’m trying to encourage and support other moms and look at me. I’m worse than a hot mess. How Mommy Got Her Groove Back, really, Rebecca? I’m 100% groove-less. I couldn’t see my groove if it smacked me in the forehead. I’m a pregnant, snotty, pile of crap on the floor. If people knew how screwed up I am, they’d never read another word I write or buy another minute of time with me. I am a FAILURE.

Pretty gross, right? I laid there thinking these things and I knew I had to talk to someone. The problem is the list of people I would trust with this kind of ugly is a short one. I went in and told Jeremiah that I was leaving. (I have to admit, I got a slight shot of satisfaction when he looked a bit terrified, because I said leaving like I wasn’t coming back.) I told him I just needed to go for a drive. He tried to get me to stay and I just pulled away and walked out. I called one of my friends from Fargo. I was bawling so hard that I could barely speak, but she listened, told me it was OK, told me I wasn’t alone and let me just ‘be’. It was exactly what I needed. I came back home and carried on.

Now that some time has passed, I have given a lot of thought to writing this post. I feel naked and vulnerable sharing my innermost thoughts. But, I know that true connection requires vulnerability. In fact, it demands it. So, I want to share the biggest takeaways I had from this past 6 weeks. I’m sharing them to remind you that no matter how much we grow as people, there will always be times when we just want to hide from the world. And that’s OK.

No one has their shit completely together.

We are human. We screw up. We feel. We feel really ugly, nasty thoughts. We have dark private moments that we swear we’ll take to the grave with us. Unfortunately, we also live in a world where putting on a good face and pretending everything is OK is the expected thing to do. We tell ourselves that to be fully accepted, we need to be smiling, happy-go-lucky women who only praise the blessings of motherhood. And this is the root of shame. It reminds me of the lyrics from Miranda Lambert’s song, “Run and hide your crazy and start acting like a lady. ‘Cuz I raised you better, gotta keep it together, even when you fall apart…” I know that was my family’s approach. Buck up. Be strong. Don’t dwell on it. When we force ourselves to keep it together, the shame, guilt and resentment we’re feeling threaten to overtake our lives. We can’t possibly move through that pain without facing it directly and sharing the weight with someone.

There is nothing that we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do.

The meltdown thought that nearly broke me is: I should be grateful. The problem with this should’ing all over ourselves is that we aren’t honoring our feelings when we deny them or attempt to not claim them. This becomes our guilt. There’s almost nothing worse than feeling bad about feeling bad. We HAVE to acknowledge and honor the feelings we have if we want to move through them. The best way to do that is to find a person who will let you feel it and not pass one ounce of judgment when you’re down in the pit.

You NEED a person. Who’s YOUR person?

You need at least one person in your life that you can be completely ugly in front of. The following are the biggest fears I had when trying to decide who I could share my darkness with:

  • Hearing the words, “Well, at least”….(insert other lesser situation here), i.e. “Well, at least you have a husband”, or “Well, at least you can have children”. All of these ‘at leasts’ can be taken to a ridiculous degree to where you should feel guilty about drinking bottled water because there are people on the planet that don’t have access to clean drinking water. Big picture? Yes. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. But in my own dark moments, the last thing I need is to be reminded that someone has it worse because it only adds to the darkness by piling on guilt.
  • Reading on her face that she couldn’t relate at all. Seeing that lack of understanding or empathy would shut me right back down.
  • That whoever I shared it with, especially if I shared it with someone right here in my town, would assume my marriage was on the rocks and rumors would start to spread that I wanted to divorce my husband. Now, in the end, does this really matter? No, it doesn’t, but the fact that the thought even entered my mind was enough for me to choose someone who didn’t live right here.
  • That the person would try to ‘fix’ me. You can’t fix a situation like that. You just need to listen. And perhaps offer a hug.

There are just a few of the things that I considered as I reviewed my short list of confidantes. You need to have someone. Everybody needs someone.

You are not a fraud.

You can be a fantastic PTA mom and a terrible cook at the same time. You can pride yourself on having a clean home and pay to have a housekeeper. You can stick to a rigid immunization schedule and still feed your kids chicken nuggets 4 times a week. I can be a personal/professional development coach and still have an epic breakdown in my bathroom. All at the same time. You know why? Because there is no one right way to be. As a mom. As a woman. As a human. We are supposed to be a big ol’ mess of contradictions. We were designed that way. We are saint and sinner. We are lover and fighter. Embracing these contradictions doesn’t make you or I a fraud. It makes us beautiful. Authentic. Relatable. Whole. Never, ever tell yourself you’re not worthy because of an apparent contradiction. Those of us that don’t seem to have them, are simply hiding them.

Refusal = Pain

In your darkest moments, pain is going to come whether you like it or not. Refusing to accept who you are or trying to resist what you feel, makes the pain almost unbearable. When we accept that life will not be rosy (and it won’t) and that our feelings won’t always be pleasant (and they won’t) and that we are just fine the way we are, Type-A perfectionists included, (and we are), life won’t seem quite as daunting. Whenever I have those thoughts of Why do I have to be this way?, I remind myself that this is just who I am. I am a feeler. And I mean, a BIG feeler. I couldn’t change that if I tried. I like order and I dislike chaos. Sometimes this serves me, sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re struggling with how you behave or the choices you makes, that’s a different story. We can be intentional about making changes towards doing better. But, it’s to important to accept your God-given being. He created you just the way you are to be just that. You. And, from my vantage point as a Christian, God believes I’m worth the price He paid for me. Who am I to disagree with Him?

The last takeaway I want to share is something I’ve shared in several ways and through several mediums, but I actually thought about her words while I was shaking on the floor last week. Brené Brown’s TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” has helped me through some yucky situations and truthfully, it gave me the courage to write this blog. Just set aside 20 minutes and watch it. There’s no way as a human being, you won’t find some comfort in it. Listen for the segment on selective numbing. That’s why we have to allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum. We can’t actually choose what to feel and what not to feel. Watch it below:

Secondly, I highly recommend her book. “The Gifts of Imperfection”. Clearly, I need a re-read but it’s one that really affirms the power of being you. And embracing the fact that none of us has it all together.

From my heart to yours, just know that I want to see you. The real, unkept, hot-mess you. Because who you are is beautiful, loveable and worthy of belonging. As always, comment here or share it with others. Let’s continue to shed some light on this stuff. It only remains shame when we keep it in the dark.

Things I’m Thinking About Now That I’m Having a Girl…

Having a Girl…

FinalRevealTo our utter delight and undeniable shock, we discovered last week at our 22 week ultrasound that we are in fact, having a baby GIRL!! Not only did I burst into tears of joy, gratitude and again, shock, but I took a moment to revel in the peace I felt knowing that God, of course, had a plan for our family and this little miss was meant to be a part of it.

While I’m completely thrilled with this discovery, I also started feeling some serious trepidation. This isn’t even just the typical “girls are sassier” and “they won’t even like you for a large chunk of their youth” kind of anxiety. This anxiety was of the serious nature that I spend time researching, coaching others towards, and basically, devoting my life to. The most important thing I want my baby girl to know is this: She is enough.

So, this got me to thinking. It’s always great when you have to put your money where your mouth is, right? With boys, I still believe my modeling sets the ultimate example for them, but truthfully, I always felt a little ‘off the hook’ because my husband will be the one they’ll more likely model themselves after. (Please note: this is in no way meant to diminish mine or any other mom’s role in the lives of our little dudes…this is just a fact in my home.)

I wanted to share the things that I currently struggle with and what changes I believe I’ll need to make in order to set the best example for her.

I don’t always love my outer appearance.

I’m going to have to quit with the “thunder thighs” talk and bitching that my boobs aren’t big enough. I’m going to have to start practicing the art of being thankful for what this body of mine has done for me. And learn to accept it as it is and consider it beautiful. Those little messages make for BIG impressions on little girls. The last thing I want is a 5 year old telling me she shouldn’t have a piece of chocolate because she’s watching her weight.

I’m entirely too hard on myself.

I find myself being so self-critical when I screw up. That’s right…the perfectionist gene is strong in me. I don’t want my little girl to not take risks for fear of looking stupid or “making a mistake”. As we all know, mistakes are the best way to learn. I want to show her the value in trying all sorts of new things while also realizing that it’s OK to not be awesome at everything.

I care way too much about what others think of me.

This has plagued me for most of my life and while I’m working through it, I feel compelled now that I’m carrying a daughter to keep those crappy feelings at bay. I can already hear myself saying, “What other people think of you is none of your business, honey.” Then, she’ll roll her eyes and tell me I’m lame.

I hate being thought of as bitchy, bossy, etc., etc…

And yet, I aim to be a confident woman and when women are, we are often misdiagnosed as those things and then some. Chances are, my little girl will have a fire in her spirit. I’d find it cosmically unlikely for her to be any other way. All the time I was growing up, these things were said about me and likely, they still are. I really am not sure how to teach a young woman to be OK with it, either. It doesn’t feel good to be labeled like that, but living a lesser life than you’re capable of surely doesn’t either. So, we’ll be bitchy together. And dramatic. And probably, a little bossy. But, the goal is to show her to be confident and proud of the choices she makes and the person she is.

I still feel like a “less than” woman at times.

Granted, none of us reaches a point when we’re done. And by done, I mean a finished and completed project. We will all keep learning and growing. I just have a long way to go towards self-compassion with my flaws. We all have them and we all struggle with the things we perceive to be our shortcomings. I still get stuck in comparison mode in which I think about how awesome other moms are and wish I could be more like them. This is one of the LAST things I want to pass on to my daughter. We’re only competing against the person we were yesterday. Again, we might be working through this one together.

I’m sure some of you are questioning what kind of psycho thinks about things like this when their baby is only 23 weeks old. And I guess, a psycho like me. My whole energy has shifted now that I know it’s a girl. And I will continue to take these things seriously as I will now be that little girl’s person.

For all you moms of girls out there, I’d love to hear if your energy shifted or your feeling of responsibility increased when you found out you were having a girl? All I know at this point is, our home will never be the same. And while yes, I have fears about screwing her up, we truly couldn’t be more excited about her arrival this September.