There’s Nothing Wrong With You

In your life have you ever felt like there’s something wrong with you? Because, you know, there must be because why else would you be so sensitive ?

Maybe growing up no one validated your feelings. You’d say you felt sad and they’d say that you shouldn’t feel that way or maybe they just would tell you to be quiet. Maybe in your adult life you expressed some deep dark feelings in hope of some compassion and understanding and you were shot down by “oh well I’ve never felt that way” or “that’s just the way life is” . Or maybe you have been vulnerable about some challenges you’ve been having only to have someone lie and act like they have no challenges or worse judge you outright. (I recently told someone my kids were sick and instead of saying poor things or something of the like they said “why? Again?”) Or maybe when you talk about your feelings the ones you love are quick to tell you that you are overreacting or saying you should see things from the other persons point of view when really all you need is to be allowed to feel your feelings and naturally you will come around on your own.

What did this do to you? It made you feel ashamed. Ashamed to have feelings. Ashamed to have needs. Ashamed to be human. It made you feel different. It made you feel like there’s something wrong with you.

It also made you feel vulnerable and like you can’t trust anyone. And that it’s okay for others to mistreat you, because if your family, the people who are supposed to love and protect you, allow for you to be hurt, then it must be okay.

I’m here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. Anyone who’s ever made you feel that way was acting out of fear and not out of love. The loving thing to do is to have empathy and hear someone’s feelings and not make them feel wrong to have them. We can’t control how we feel but we can control what we do.

It’s not normal and healthy for someone to disregard your feelings, to put you down, to say you are too sensitive, to tell you to get over it. They are rolling over you like a bulldozer. The healthy interaction that needs to take place is both parties sharing feelings openly and listening intently to how each person feels in a nonjudgmental, non-accusatory way. Three books that can help with this are :


Why Are You So Worried and Stressed Out?

What is the cause of your stress/anxiety? Have you ever stopped to really think about it?

Conventional wisdom tells us to “take a break” or “relax” when we are feeling this way. This advice may be sound if the reason you are feeling this way is due to overworking .

But what if it’s not?

What if you are experiencing a lot of stress because of:

  1. Not eating regularly
  2. Not exercising
  3. Not sleeping enough
  4. Too much entertainment (and not enough time taking care of responsibilities)
  5. Procrastinating
  6. Not being able to let go of control
  7. Comparing yourself to others

These are some other things that can cause stress. So how can you get some peace? Focus on what you can do and let God do the rest!

You can :

  • Set a daily schedule with regular meal times and learn about what your nutritional needs are.
  • Be realistic and commit to trying to exercise everyday. Keep it simple, walking is enough. And don’t beat yourself if you miss a day. Just get back up and try again.
  • Give yourself a bed time and awake time. Try to stick to it but give yourself grace when life happens.
  • Make a list of which things your ideal day includes. Chances are it will have a lot of hard things like exercise and reading books and maintaining your environment and cooking healthy meals etc. and probably not include copious amounts of screen time (phone, T.V., games, etc) A.K.A. You are probably wasting a lot of time on these things. Some screen time isn’t bad- it can be good – but not when it gets excessive. It will zap your time and energy and you will feel like you wasted your day.
  • Read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It will help you stop procrastinating and do all the above things. I think more people suffer because of procrastination than because of working too hard. Just sayin’. The basic idea of the book is you count down “5,4,3,2,1” and you take physical action. It’s truly life-changing.
  • Aside from controlling the above things , a lot of life is out of your control and thank God. I’m so glad it’s not all up to me because I’d definitely screw it up! You gotta learn to let go & let God, people. Do what you can do and let God do what only He can do.
  • A priest at mass once gave this advice- stop comparing yourself to others, focus on your gifts and have gratitude for them and bless other people and build them up whenever you feel jealous and you are caught in the comparison trap. This will surely bring you some peace.

And on that note, may peace be with you!

Is French Parenting Better than American Parenting?

I love to learn about child-rearing practices in different cultures. Especially cultures where women get a super long maternity leave and extremely high-quality daycare. Yeah, I’m a total francophile. So when I found this book about French parenting, you better believe I was intrigued.

Image result for bringing up bebe

This book is well-written and has humor that any woman can relate to. Its about an American mother’s experience observing the common behaviors and patterns in French parenting. I especially loved the parts about sleep training, meal times, and learning to wait.

Some of the key takeaways are:

  1. French women do “the pause” to help their baby sleep all night, usually by 3 months.
  2. French women teach their babies to wait from the beginning.
  3. French babies eat what the family eats, and the baby just has to “taste” it.
  4. If the baby is happy and safe playing on his own, the French just let the baby “live his/her life.”
  5. The French are strict about bedtimes, T.V., and meal times, the rest of the time is unstructured. French children do not snack outside of the 4:30 pm snack time. From three months on, they eat (drink formula or breastfeed if they aren’t having solids yet) breakfast at 8 am, lunch at 12 pm, a snack at 4:30 pm and dinner before bedtime at 8 pm.

Buy it here on Amazon You can get it for less than $2 used (plus shipping). Trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s why:

  • It will give you permission to practice self-care.
  • It will give you and your baby adequate rest.
  • It will help teach your babies patience and independence.
  • It will help you teach your children self-discipline.
  • It will help you to create boundaries and set limits.

But Let’s Talk About Sleep Training

There are so many schools of thought on sleep training, and if the way you are doing it with your children is working for you, Amen sister, I’m so happy for you. But if you and/or your baby are tired and exhausted and co-sleeping is turning into more “co” than “sleep”, this is the book for you.

But sleep training isn’t easy. With my son, it was simpler but with my daughter, I struggled. She learned to sleep through the night easily enough by learning “the pause”, but falling asleep by herself was a different story. It was very difficult for her because she was stimulated  by my presence and didn’t know how to fall asleep on her own. It wasn’t until she was 8 months that I finally decided to let her cry-it-out which was very difficult but necessary for both her and I to receive adequate rest.

Did these ideas work for me?

For the most part, yes. I found this book while I was pregnant with my first and reread it when I had an about to be 15 month-old and a 2 month-old. I tried doing “the pause” with my eldest and he slept through the night by about 1 month old, and was sleeping for 10 hour stretches at night at about 2 months old. The same thing is happening with my youngest.

Does breastfeeding make a difference?

The way I fed the baby doesn’t seem to matter either – I formula fed the oldest and breastfed the youngest. While I do think many factors are at play, like how much your baby weighs etc, I do think the way you parent at night makes a difference.

The way “the pause” works : you “pause” when your baby makes a noise or cries in the night time – only for a few minutes, and you see if the baby was just waking up between sleep cycles. If the baby still cries after the pause, go ahead and feed the baby or change her diaper or do whatever you think she needs.

Aren’t newborns supposed to eat every 2-3 hours?

I think moms aren’t told enough that if the baby is eating well, wetting plenty of diapers, gaining weight and otherwise has no other health problems, it’s OKAY to let them sleep and stop waking them up to feed them every 2 hours. I asked my lactation consultant if I could let my baby sleep and that is what she told me. I think sometimes parents can inadvertently train their babies to wake up in the middle of the night. But , again, every situation is different, and every family has different needs and desires.  I think this technique is worth a try, though, if you want to get some more sleep yourself, and definitely seek help from a professional if you have concerns.

Wait, aren’t kids supposed to eat 6 times a day?

I am well aware of the ideas here in the United States about how many snacks toddlers are supposed to have, but I have tried to keep the same schedule outlined in this book, with meal times only 4 times a day. Not only has this taught my children patience and self-control, it has forced me to learn more self-control as well- because I have to set a good example, after all! My kids have done just fine without frequent snacking and they are hungrier for the healthiest meal of the day at our house – dinner.

The Allure of French Mothers

One thing I perceived about French mothers in the book was a lack of this sense of martyrdom and competition that I see in motherhood in the United States. These mothers don’t seem to lose their sense of self. They remain in touch with their other roles and interests in life. And they don’t neglect their husbands. They seem to have this elegant maturity, a natural balance, and acceptance of their role. They seem to have peace.

I was eclectic and funky before kids, why not still be me after kids?

 

And speaking of self-care and setting limits, here is a design I made.

So do I think French parenting is superior?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and no such thing as a perfect mom, I must say that what is outlined in this book has much wisdom to be gained from it.

Our Simple Fall Decor and a Playlist

Surprise, surprise, I love fall. I love pumpkin spice lattes, cooler weather, boots, and jackets. I love pumpkins, and autumn leaves , and the Anniversary Blend mugs at Starbucks. (Any current baristas reading this? Where is Anniversary blend this year? Or am I just early?)

Anyway, I love all things Fall and I love decorating but I also like to keep clutter minimal and I don’t like having to store a bunch of stuff and I don’t want to spend a ton of money. So what did I do? I improvised!

After watching some Fall decor videos on YouTube, I knew I wanted to make a leaf garland. I had twine but I needed leaves. So I took my kids out to the park one afternoon and they helped me collect leaves, it was a blast. I ended up making a little garland, and using other leaves here and there, and even pinned some around a picture. I also went to Dollar Tree and found four little pumpkins and a little owl. Here are some more photos:

And here is some music I have been listening to lately. I tend to listen to these songs each Fall; they tend to set the mood for me.

Do you have any Fall decorating ideas to share or special traditions with your family? Or any music you listen to each Fall? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t Wait for the Storm to Pass

Image result for storm art

Life is so hard, right? There’s always something, isn’t there? I think sometimes we can get stuck in a cycle of saying things like:

“I hate my job”
“I feel horrible”
“I don’t have any time”
“I have too much to do”
“I’ll be happy when..”
“I’ll start exercising when…”
“I can’t do that because…”

We may say all these things, and sometimes they might have some truth to them. And sometimes they are just excuses. What matters is that life is always going to be hard, we can count on that. We can count on there to always be a storm happening or on it’s way.

Recently, I was telling myself an excuse to keep myself from blogging. I’ve seen that many mom bloggers I follow have regular childcare help, whether it’s friends, neighbors, or family – a village, so to speak. I told myself “I can’t blog until I have regular babysitting in place.” The only trouble is, months would go by and I wouldn’t make any progress in finding a babysitter. And getting a regular babysitter would really stretch our budget. And family doesn’t live close-by. And friends are a big help, but they can’t come as regularly as I’d need. Are you getting the picture here? After watching a video of one of my favorite bloggers, The Daily Connoisseur, I was inspired to find a way to blog anyway because that’s what she does. She just writes before her kids get up and works when they go to bed. What a smart lady! Then there are even other people who manage to work on writing books, 15 minutes at a time!

So if life is always going to be hard, why do we spend our time complaining about it? What if we just started to find ways to “dance in the storm” so to speak. We have to remember, there’s much in life that we don’t have control over. But there is a lot we do have control over. No matter how sick you are, how poor you are, how tired you are, how stretched for time you are, how many responsibilities you have, there is something you can do to make your life just a little better, and to improve the lives of those around you.

happy, inspiring, and wishbone image

Let’s not compound the stress of life by thinking such negative thoughts. Why not practice gratitude? Take time to evaluate our schedule and delete the unnecessary and replace it with what we truly value? Practice contentment so we can be happy now , wherever we are? Just try to live the way you really want to live. Even if you only have 10 minutes to exercise, or read that book, or to talk to your mom who lives far away, etc. 10 minutes still counts. 10 minutes can change your life. (Just ask Maggieothevalley, author of the  10-Minute Quit.)   You can do this. You can take the next step. Eventually, with the right choices and actions, you’ll feel better and get closer to your dreams regardless of your circumstances.

Opera and Homemade Pizza

 

I am always looking for ways to save time and save money. This recipe for pizza dough is super simple and contains items I already have so it is "free."

But why go through all the trouble you ask? Frozen pizza is pretty cheap and then there is the MESS.

There's a few reasons why. Firstly, I can save money. Second, it's nice to work with my hands. Thirdly, there is nothing like homemade bread, and lastly, togetherness. You see, when I bake, I try to do it with my kids.

(And my dog. She might just jump on a chair and try to take a bite out of the dough. )

To save time, I double the recipe to use for later or even better, surprise someone else with some awesome dough!

I hummed this song while making it with my son. 

 

Here's how you make it:

Radical Hospitality

See the source image

I’m currently reading Haley Stewart’s new book, “The Grace of Enough”, and I was inspired by what she wrote about hospitality. We aren’t called to love people who look like us, and were raised like us. We are called to love everyone.

My in-laws are a wonderful example of this kind of radical hospitality. When they host Thanksgiving, they invite all kinds of people who may not have somewhere to go. They come from all backgrounds, income levels, and life circumstances. They welcome everyone.

Haley Stewart brings up a video about what hospitality used to look like, and here it is now (warning: there is some bad language in this video) :

You have to admit, what this guy says is so true!

These days you have to make plans 3 weeks before if you want to see someone. (If they ever answer your text. And they might cancel at last minute because of a better opportunity) And you can’t just ring the doorbell, you at least have to text first. The problem with that, though, is most people will just say no because they aren’t “ready”.

Guys, we don’t have to wait until we can afford a four course meal, a Pinterest-curated home, brand new furniture, and pristine cleanliness for someone to come over. Let’s be like Jennifer Fulwiler, who doesn’t worry to much about the state of her home because she know that it will prevent her from being open to hospitality, she just lights some candles, puts some music on and makes appetizers. Voila, it’s a party. lol

I’m not saying it isn’t nice to decorate, and have a clean and tidy place for people to come, but if you really struggle with those things, you don’t have to wait until you are Martha Stewart to welcome people into your home. Amen? Amen.

Now I really relate to the video I posted because I used to be the type who would hide and army crawl and look for a sword (Okay, fine. Maybe not that last part. ). You see, I’m an introvert and I can be very awkward in social situations, and I also have always been shy. I also have been insecure about not being “enough” and not having “enough” in order to have people over to my home. But this all has changed.

I started to invite people over when I had my first baby. I just wanted to share him with everyone I knew and God gave me a desire to have community. Am I where I need to be? No, but thank God I’m not where I used to be! I have a long way to go , to be more open to all the people in my life.

Let me emphasize, I don’t have a full set of matching dishes. I don’t have designer furniture. I don’t have  a gigantic home. But I have food to share, a place to gather, and love to bestow.  And I think most of us also can check those same boxes. And if some of you have even more abundance materially, I challenge you to share what you have with others. Open your home, share a meal. Otherwise, why have all that stuff? You may as well run a museum.

You may think, like I did, who would want to come to my house? It’s this, or it’s not that, etc. But I have to tell you through experience, it will all work out. No one has ever walked into my home and said “I can’t be here because it’s not fancy enough”. lol!

And I just have to say, of course there is a time to be prudent. Maybe you are going through a lot in your life and you can’t handle the stress of entertaining. Because it is a lot of work. But maybe you are like me, and this becomes the rule of your life instead of the exception. And I have a feeling most of us could probably stretch ourselves a little. Just a little. Jennifer Fulwiler says in one of her books that , and I paraphrase, life is a party, and the more the merrier, but if you are battling a rattlesnake infestation, now probably isn’t the time to have a BBQ – but this probably doesn’t happen as much as we think.

So invite someone over. Reach out to family, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, an acquaintance, an elderly person, a lonely person, your local priest, that single person you know, that one family with all those kids, that couple with no kids. They probably are waiting for you to. I think most of us would love more human connection, but don’t take the first step because we are afraid the other person will only oblige out of pity instead of genuinely wanting to be with us. Get over it, do it anyway. Invite them over. It really is okay to have grilled cheese, and an imperfect house, because hospitality is about loving your guest, not about receiving praise and approval (and likes on Facebook and Instagram.) You and your guest will be blessed by your hospitality. Yes, there will be a mess to clean up, but maybe that’s what being open to life is. Maybe that’s what loves looks like. A beautiful mess.

 

 

5 Clues For Uncovering Your Blue Flame

In Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book “One Beautiful Dream” she talks about having a blue flame. (Also this book may be the best book I’ve ever read. Just sayin’. Get.It..Now )

What is a blue flame? It’s something that you have such burning passion for that if it were a flame it would turn blue because it’s at such a high heat. For Jennifer , it’s writing. It is a gift or talent that energizes you but that also can bless others.

But what if you don’t know what your blue flame is? What if you feel like you have no talents? Or you can’t pinpoint a main talent among your many talents and interests? I have been confused in this way , but I’m discovering their may be clues to help you discover it:

  1. What causes you to straighten up in your chair because you are so excited to talk about it?
  2. What are you always researching/ reading about?
  3. What do people tend to notice about you?
  4. What do people ask you for advice about?
  5. What do you feel drawn to do whenever you have some uninterrupted time?

For me it boils down to self-discipline – especially time-management / routines which includes organization because being organized affects your mental state which will help you save time and implement your routines. I could talk for hours about routines. I could name 10+ books I’ve read on the subject. When I have free time I watch YouTube videos about it. People have noticed when they visit me my house looks well managed even though I have two highly active toddlers and that I am well dressed and have makeup on. I’m always analyzing how I could make things run smoother in my life to better serve others, take care of myself and my household. Self-discipline truly is essential for a life well-lived . A life lived with intention.

So what do you think your blue flame is? Do you have more than one? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Save a Soul

As people of faith, we can feel compelled to help people change – to save them, to convert them. The way we usual go about this is, we argue, try to convince, preach, coerce, nag, worry, etc.

But let me ask you something.

How’s that working out for you?

I think it my be time to try something new, you know, like LOVING them. Loving them because God loves them. Not because of their good behavior or something they did for you. Loving them unconditionally.

Just be a good friend.

What are the characteristics of a good friend? They can be found here:

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

You see that it doesn’t say “love is patient when so and so takes my advice” or “love keeps no record of wrongs except when it doesn’t feel up to it” etc.

The Catholic Church has some excellent, concrete things we can do to be Jesus to others:

I want to zero in on “admonish sinners”, because that doesn’t sound very nice, does it? Well that is because part of being a good friend is willing the best for another and may sometimes involve uncomfortable confrontation.

How to Be Your Own Superhero

We are the masters of our own happiness. We can’t depend on others to make us happy. We have to save ourselves, people, and be our own super heroes. We all need ways to improve our lives, make them easier and more streamlined and maybe even make us feel cherished like someone is serving us. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Make goals and make them specific.
  2. Track your goals.
  3. Prep your breakfast the night before.
  4. Set out your clothes the night before.
  5. Get a coffee pot that has a timer so your coffee is brewed when you get up.
  6. Each day write down 5 things you are proud of that you’ve accomplished.
  7. Tell yourself great job when you do something good; rewrite the broken record that always reminds you of all your failures.
  8. Admit that your life is hard, but do something about it.
  9. Don’t compare yourself with others, compliment others while having gratitude for what you have.
  10. When you have a meal, use fine china and have the table completely set and play classical music. Even if it’s just snack time with your two toddlers.
  11. Bathe in the evening.
  12. Plan your weekly meals.
  13. Automate recurring household and work tasks by creating routines. 
  14. Buy your groceries online and pick them up at the store or have them delivered.

You will see all these things take time and effort, but trust me, once you experience the results you won’t regret doing it! You will have saved yourself from a lot of unnecessary stress.