Finding my Truth on my Journey to Forty.

I am thirty-eight years old and recently I have been thinking a lot about my BIG 4-0! Yes, it is still over a year from now, but for some reason these thoughts are knocking on the door of my mind and my heart.  Maybe thats because I have a little extra time on my hands lately to sink into dreaming and thinking. Perhaps, its the transition I have been in with our big move that is propelling my yearning to want more. More quality experiences with my family, on the daily and extraordinarily. More confidence in my whole self. More quality time with those who are most important to me; that feeling of quality over quantity is so much more relevant and true the older I get.

These feelings are lurking there in my gut and they are gaining strength. The problem is that wanting to improve oneself and ones relationships can be scary and leave you vulnerable. More vulnerable than maybe I am ready to be.

Do you believe in kismet or divine intervention of sorts? Well, I do.

Generally speaking, I believe I am in tune with technology but I have never fully gotten on board with the “podcast”. Why? I have no sweet clue. Maybe it is because I prefer to read or watch than simply listen. None the less, this week a friend sent me a podcast that spoke to her deeply and she thought I needed to hear the messages as well. Man, oh man was she right! It was like she handed me the map to the treasure of what my heart and gut are telling me to find.

The podcast was Oprah’s two-part series with Brené Brown on Super Soul Sunday. I have since listened to it a number of times. I’ve been taking notes and each time I listen, I feel a more deep seeded connection to the information. So, first things first, if you have not yet listened, find it and listen. You WILL be moved and you WILL be inspired. You WILL have an A-Ha moment, or 27 of them.

The first of those moments for me, in my initial listen, was

“Vulnerability is the cornerstone of confidence”.

Self confidence for me has always been a struggle. I struggle with body confidence from weight issues and some physical scaring from acne as a teenager. I am also a compulsive “comparer”. I consistently have measured my own worth against the successes of others, rather than my own growth. I also second guess my value and the impact I have on those around me. Writing this here, for you all to see and read is terrifying. But I am owning my story and, let’s be honest, in North American culture we are so focused on perfectionism, it is no wonder that anyone experiences this type of negative self talk. That being said, I have been practicing positive self talk, improved self confidence consistently since the birth of my 7 year old daughter. I have two beautiful, brilliant little ladies, who I want to OWN their story, exude confidence and self respect. So who is best to teach them that? Me. I am not perfect, nor am I striving to be but I will practice vulnerability as a means to achieve confidence so they have a female role model, every single damn day, showing them the path to strength of mind, body and soul. It is my wish for them, to know confidence in their success and in their moments of defeat. It is my wish for myself to know the same and to travel that journey with them.

A kin to this A-Ha moment came another in Ms. Browns Parenting Manifesto which reads  “I want you {my children} to feel joy so together we will learn to be vulnerable”. POWERFUL! Why? Because to feel and know joy, one also as to know pain and gratitude. As a mom and as a woman, I always want to protect those I love the most from pain, but to really know Joy together, we have to walk the path of vulnerability through the moments of heartache and sadness, to find gratitude in the happy times. I have those family members and friends in my life who have walked with me through the saddest and darkest moments of my life. They held my hand, wiped my tears, cried with me and literally held me during the loss of my oldest daughter Addison. That journey that they took with me brought us to a deeper connectivity and now when we feel joy together, it is guttural, primal and true. I want my children to know that truth.

The next huge A-Ha moment for me was,

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of everything we are hungry for”.

Something else I am aware of, as I look at head to what I want to feel, own and have achieved at 40, are my professional achievements. I have worked most of my career with military families. I have worked with the children of these families, the youth and the spouses and parents of deployed active duty members. In all of this experience, I felt the most fulfilled when I was helping someone achieve a goal, see success or embrace their potential. I love the feeling of helping some one see their own gifts and to help them reveal their own worth.

For a very long time I have known I am gravitate towards counselling, life coaching and advocacy. I see this when I am drawn to help people reach their goals in weight loss; in conversations with friends seeking advice and support. I feel this when I am asked to share my story of infant loss. There is this pull, magnetic almost, when I observe a position or role someone has that inspires me. Being vulnerable to take this leap at almost 40 is definitely scary. Which is exactly why I feel if I am going to live authentically, in gratitude and vulnerability, I will face my fear and be brave and take a leap towards that for which I am hungry! {a blog cliffhanger…}.

Lastly, this podcast hit me with a full on O!M!G! moment. Are you ready for this? It is HUGE!

“Imperfections are NOT inadequacies;

they are reminders that we are all in this together”.

Sound the alarm!! DING DING DING!! We are all in this together! Instead of comparing our imperfections to others successes we need to look at the larger picture. We are all great at things and in other ares we struggle. NO ONE IS PERFECT. I have been saying this to my daughter for weeks now. She has been struggling in school in terms of the adjustment to a new country, a new curriculum, and in a new language as she moved from French Immersion to English. She wants to never have a wrong answer or sound “stupid”. And we have been working on ideas like, mistakes are how we learn and no one on this planet is perfect. Here’s the kicker, I have been saying this, out loud, to my children but not really walking in that truth. I shake my head in awe of the power this idea holds. If we could all just remember that we are all in this life together; human, feeling, succeeding, failing, loving, hurting, shameful, brave, loved, alone, beautiful, broken. We all exemplify ALL of these things at any given time on any given day. And before we go internally beating ourselves up for not meeting some mythical form of perfection, we should take comfort in knowing,  I am not alone. I can make mistakes and feel love, and love myself. I can  reach extreme success and feel love, and love myself. I can find gratitude in my imperfections as they can propel me to new goals, they will help me be vulnerable, to find and feel joy, and ultimately, my imperfections are ME. I whole heartedly believe that my imperfections are my truth. They play as important of a role in my story as my successes. 

I am moved to tears, by the simplicity and complexity of these A Ha moments I am living this week. Moreover, I am feeling a fire in my belly to stride towards 40 with self assurance and whole heartedness. I am going to follow a few dreams on my journey and see where they take me! I’m excited for one hell of a ride over the next 15 months, but I am more inspired by the gifts it will give me through the rest of my time here on this beautiful planet.

So thank you Brené Brown and Oprah for being famous and having a platform to reach people. Thank you to the beautiful person who sent me this podcast, for being my friend and sharing your journey with me. And thank you to all the loves of my life, my friends and family, who will continue to walk my journey with me, without fail. I am excited to see, feel and own my vulnerability and my story!

~M~

 

 

So, it’s okay to be a “Hot Mess” right?

This week has been challenging. So much so that I have three fantastic blog entires for which I have ideas and research on going. However, none of it felt authentic or on point with “me” right now.  I want to share with you my authentic self and, this week, I have been a bundle of anxiety, frustration, homesickness and the word that keeps coming to mind for me is, a hot mess.

When you search Google dictionary,  the definition of “hot mess” this is what you get:

Hot Mess
noun

US, informal
noun: hot mess; plural noun: hot messes
  1. a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered, especially one that is a source of peculiar fascination.
    “this outfit is definitely a hot mess”

Why am I a hot mess?? Well, one word, change. I like change and relish in a new adventure but somedays are hard. Transition is an intense beast of a thing to manage. The week started out, for me, wondering why I was so damn tired. Most nights I enjoyed like 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I was eating well and exercising, but Monday morning I was beyond lethargic and my attitude was heinous, to put it kindly. Instead of going to the gym, I dropped my girls at school, came home (in my gym clothes) and sat on the couch  with a stress headache and lets be honest, I through myself one heck of a pity party.  After a walk outside and a decent  day over all, I was feeling okay-ish.

Tuesday was a much better start. I got up and out the door for a 530am BodyPump Class, I worked on my blog and my website and enjoyed a Starbucks latte while I worked. I had on a seriously fun “mom style” outfit built for comfort and looking pulled together. The thing was I was still feeling “meh” on the inside. I wasn’t as emotional as the day before but I couldn’t shake the feeling of angst in the pit of my belly. My inner voice was telling me to be strong and that “California is awesome” so don’t feel sad. The only problem was my gut and my heart were screaming that they missed home. That I was feeling uncomfortable with the weight I had put on. I missed feeling confident and sure, I missed my family, friends, and my sense comfortability and normalcy. So, while I was looking more pulled together on the outside, it was just a mask of nice clothes and red lipstick.

Then came the pinnacle of “Hot Mess Week”. Wednesday, oh Wednesday. My emotions were nothing short of hostile and aggravated. I burst into tears cleaning up from breakfast, because my husband had been kind and chivalrous. I have a very patient husband. THANK GOODNESS. In the midst of my incomprehensible bout of tears, I was pouring out all these things I had been feeling but hadn’t expressed. The new role I have as a stay at home mom is still feeling foreign. I am feeling lost in a large city where no-one knows me. I’m feeling like I don’t know what my place is here, or who my new ‘tribe’ will be. I am a social person who is lacking in the ‘being social’ department. I miss my family. I miss the ease of knowing where everything is and where I belong. I miss my friends and I need to cry this out or I will burst!!
200
Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

Then came the deep breaths. The release of pent up vulnerability and fear. The pathway to realization that there have been A LOT of changes in my life in the past year but specifically in the past 5 months and I didn’t have to be ok everyday. I just HAD to be able to start managing my expectations of myself and admitting that it is hard. People here I moved to sunny California and think every day must be beaches, palm trees and fabulousness. The truth is,  it is those things. However, it is also just real life. Kids have to get out the door for school, I am driving three times a day as the mom mobile to and from the school for pick ups and drop offs. Its the reintegration of living with my husband full time after a year apart. Trying to navigate how the hell I will meet people and make friends in such a large place compared to where I am from all while I balance staying in touch with everyone I miss so dearly at home. I need to House needs to be cleaned, meals need to be made, i need to get to the gym, get the groceries, and day to day life must go on.

According to much of my research on “why am I feeling crazy” and “whats wrong with me?”, I found that I am in fact experiencing the common stages of transition. Before any major transition you of course feel nervous, excited, overwhelmed and hopeful. I feel like because I was in a comfortable place, I was able to roll with that part of the transition much more easily. I took the time to really enjoy the time I had with the people I loved and to squeeze in some important experiences and memories before I left. Do I wish I had more time, of course, but overall I was pleased with my “see you soon” strategy.

The second phase of transition can be much more complex, hence my “Hot Mess week”. According to the Bridges’ Transition Model (mindtools.com) this phase is defined as:

“Stage 2: The Neutral Zone

In this stage, people affected by the change are often confused, uncertain, and impatient. Depending on how well you’re managing the change, they may also experience a higher workload as they get used to new systems and new ways of working. Think of this phase as the bridge between the old and the new; in some ways, people will still be attached to the old, while they are also trying to adapt to the new.

Here, people might experience:

  • Resentment towards the change initiative.
  • Low morale and low productivity.
  • Anxiety about their role, status or identity.
  • Skepticism about the change initiative.

Despite these, this stage can also be one of great creativity, innovation, and renewal. This is a great time to encourage people to try new ways of thinking or working.

Ok, so turns out, I’m normal! Yay! In all seriousness though, I really needed to hear from somewhere, outside of my regular systems of support, that I was going to be okay. Anxiety runs in my family, so I am always keeping a pulse on my mental health. I work hard to ensure I stay on top of finding and utilizing coping skills that work for me. These findings allowed me to take a minute to say, its ok to be a “hot mess” for a minute. Especially, if it turns into a self educating, teachable moment that leads to self improvement and more positive self talk. “No self, you aren’t crazy, you’ve got a lot on your plate right now”. “Take your time with change, things will start to feel less intense soon”, “just breathe”.

Then came Thursday. Day started well and productive It helps when you can connect with friends and share a laugh (even via text).  It also helps that I took a BodyCombat kickboxing class that allowed me to have a physical release of these pent up emotions. Thursday had its own challenges, in the form of exhausted kids and their meltdowns. But I was in a better mindset to cope and handle those moments. As a parent, I also have to keep reminding myself that I am struggling with all this change, but so are my kids and my husband. We are all just trying to make it through the tough moments to find our new normal.

So here we are, and it’s Friday!!! Can I get an Amen?! We are all feeling the need to make the time to reset, recharge and unwind. When I got ready for the day, I put on a nice outfit and some red lipstick today, not to hide my inner feelings but because I feel like I can handle it! Just remember, today, and every day, is a fresh start. However, if your day started off not so fabulous, and you’re having a rough time right now, I’m here for you. I get it.

Here’s my bit of advice. Take care of you because no-one can pour from an empty cup, surround yourself with love and realize that some times you’re going to be a hot mess, and that is okay.

~M~

Lets talk about being “Super Mom”

I’m not sure about you guys, but the whole idea of being called a “SuperMom” really pisses me off.

Whoa, whoa, a bit of an aggressive lead in right? Not usually my style in life or in my writing, but I feel passionate about how, as women, we tend to place these ridiculous expectations on ourselves. And whats worse, we judge ourselves and OTHER women based on these outlandish ideals.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, here is another rant from a tired, bitter SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) but Imma stop you right there. This IS a rant in theory, but really I’m more looking to share my thoughts here so we can start to affect change. What I hope this “rant” does is get groups of girlfriends talking over a Pumpkin Spice Latte or a glass of Moscato about why they should be striving for balance as a mom (or partner, or woman, or person) instead of seeking “SuperMom” status.

Let me tell you a little about where this is coming from and that may shed more light on why I have such a strong opposition to being called “SuperMom”. First things first, I am a military spouse and spent much of the past year on my own with two children, working full time and parenting solo. No, not single parenting as my spouse did still have a role to play in my children lives as much as he could (and HUGE kudos to single parents around the world), but riding solo without my partner in crime for a year was, well challenging. That being said, I was not the first, nor the last to be placed in such a predicament, particularly in the world of military families.

Did I survive the year? Yes, of course I did! I got through the challenge and came out on the other side, likely a better version of myself because of the experience. But was is perfect? Hardly. Many of the days in the middle of said journey weren’t “super” at all. They were, “claw your way through the mountain of laundry, crying while you did the dishes, barely accomplish anything tangible at work, and missing skating lessons” kind of days. After days like that, I’d vow to wake up and try again, harder than the day before. I would put on  my blazer and my mascara, down a vat of coffee and start the day fresh. The kids would wake up groggily and move at a sloths pace to get dressed. I’d nag and moan and occasionally I’d eat breakfast too. Many days started with a blur of toothpaste faces and tears but, on good days, we’d have time for a cuddle then off we’d go. Another day, another fresh start.

Occasionally, a friend or colleague would say, “I don’t know how you do it all?!” or “Hey SuperMomma”, and it was always meant with the best and kindest of intentions. They didn’t see behind the scenes. They’d see the cute Facebook posts of a trip to the beach or my new outfit that I bought in an online shopping binge when I needed a bit of retail therapy. When someone called me “SuperMom” I felt like a fraud. I couldn’t swoop in with a cape and tights to be perfect every day, in every way. Nor did I have super powers to make the hurts go away, the tantrums to stop or the house to clean itself.

But there it was, the “SuperMom” expectation. It had been placed upon me and now I felt the need to keep it all together and keep my “status”.

I found myself telling myself I needed to DO more and BE more to be a good mom. More experiences, more treats, more time, more money, more, more, more. And just when I thought I was doing well, I’d see another mom post on social media. They’d be showcasing their Pinterest perfect new DIY project, children all smiles at a perfect playdate or looking trim and toned on a date with their spouse. I was comparing myself to everyone else’s highlight reel and not keeping in mind that most people don’t post their behind the scenes, outtakes or blooper reel online.

What did all this striving for status get me? It brought minimal and momentary instant gratification but over all, it lead to more frustration and exhaustion.

One night I found myself crying to my spouse via Skype about how I wasn’t good enough. and he looked at me and said “not good enough for who?”. That was a huge wake up call. Why had I let an simple compliment/ideal dictate my worth?

I had to take a step back and really think about what made the BEST moments in my day work. When did I feel my best? When were my children on their best behaviour? What makes us tick as a family? What makes my children feel loved and supported? What makes me feel successful? And every time the answer came back to quality time, love and being present. It wasn’t more activities and over scheduling. Nor was it more money, more things or being ‘perfect’.

It was time to stop feeling like I had to do things to show everyone ELSE I was a “SuperMom”. Being the mom my family needed me to be and moreover, the woman I wanted to be, had to be the priority. Part of being able to be THAT mom and woman meant lots of changes. Taking time for me, time for my spouse, MAKING time for cuddles and special moments together, being present for my children and really, putting outside ideals and expectations aside; those were the changes I needed to work toward.

So each day, I am striving to find the balance. Have I gotten to that point yet? Not quite. But, I am working on it…and it is work, every. single. day. So, take that last sip of your PSL or your bubbly, crisp Moscato, put away the Cape and tights, and look for the little things, each day, that lead you to finding balance and reaching your potential as the kind of woman you want to be.

Its a bird! Its a plane! No, its “Well-Rounded Mom seeking Balance in Life”!

 

~M~

***Title Photo from DearDarla.com***

What is “Momday” anyway?

I truly feel like moms around the globe can relate to having that “Momday” feeling.

In my parenting fantasies, “Momdays” were days filled with hugs and laughter from my beautiful little ladies. We’d be dressed like a walking GAP Ad while we frolicked at the park, toting our non GMO, sugar free, Organic, locally sourced picnic (complete with red gingham blanket).

Then, I actually had kids.

While some of those picture perfect days showed up here and there, I quickly realized that parenting is really freaking tough. I started unconsciously lending a negative connotation to my use of the made up vernacular, the same way some one moans and groans about it being Monday. You know what I am talking about!   That “ugh the awesome weekend is over and oh crap I have to jump back on the hamster wheel and do all the adulting” feeling that also usually marks the start of a diet or a blur of bussing kids to this sport and that school event. Not to mention finding time to find the perfect dress (as well as the appropriate Spanx) for this weekends event, volunteer for PTA, all the Zumba classes, Dentist appointments, vet appointments and, oh yay, a PAP test! “Momdays” were feeling more pitiful than picnic full.

Show of hands if you can relate!?!

Then it dawned on me. I was having coffee with my girlfriends and noticed that the BEST conversations we had were about how to keep each other motivated to be the best versions of ourselves while acknowledging, of course, that some days are crap. That parenting woes and feeling tired, frustrated, proud,  joyful and annoyed is all part of the parenting package. My friends would offer to watch my kids so I could go for a run to maintain or regain some mental sanity. They will pour ANOTHER cup of coffee and make me lunch, when I just couldn’t leave the playdate quite yet. They  listened to me celebrate the success of getting through soccer practice without a meltdown. They cooed appropriately over my outfit that took months of research for girls night. And they always tell me when I have food in my teeth. Every. Damn. Time.

This feeling of support and being surrounded be people who just “get it” is second to none as a mom, and as a woman.  These draggy “Momdays”, that we starting to feel rather awful, turned into the best motivation to seek support, laugh in the hard moments and celebrate the successes big and small. Momdays for me are now about trying to see things from all angles and figure out what to do next.

Does this mean my days are now perfect? Hell NO! I still cry over my six year olds tantrums, I yell when I lose my temper, I cheer the loudest at any event my kids do and I dole out the hugs when anyone has had one helluva day, even if I could use one too. But I AM motivated to start each day fresh and with the ideology that I will keep striving for my best ME.

So, bring on “Momday”, “Hump Day”, “Payday”, “Weigh-In Day”, “Race Day”, “I’m gonna lose my sh!t if this day doesn’t end soon Day”, “I did it” day or whatever other day comes your way and lets handle it like the rockstars we are!

 

~M~