About Doña

Author Archive | Doña

How To Decide What To Let Go

In the last few months my guy has been away from home a lot and I’ve been flying solo with the kid and the house and all of our animals. I finished radiation therapy at the end of January and it has been a long slow road back to feeling like myself. My stamina is still very low, I have to sleep a lot and my memory is terrible. I simply can’t keep on top all the things that are involved in keeping a household running solo, but how do I figure out what to let go? It often feels like I’m running in circles and things are still falling down all around me. I have very little resilience still, so if one disruptive thing happens – a night of insomnia, a cold, a disaster of a day – I’m flattened and it takes a couple of days for me to get back on my feet.

All this to say I’ve had to let go of quite a few things in the last few months in order to keep moving forward. That can be really hard to sit with, because I want to do all the things! I want to be fully engaged in life, creative and productive and busy. But I just can’t.

what to let go 650

You might be in a really different place. Hopefully you are strong and energetic and not recovering from cancer treatment! But you may still be feeling that crush of wanting to do more than you can do, or having many things on your plate taking up your time and energy and resenting them.

That’s my tell, how I know I need to make a change. When I’m feeling that “I want, I want…” pull, but also that I have no space to do that think I want to do. I want to draw, but I’m running around all day and have no art supplies with me. I want to read a book, but don’t feel like I can afford to put the to do list down for a while. I want to feel deeply connected with someone but my partner and I haven’t talked in two days and I haven’t had a meaningful conversation with anyone over the age of six in a week.

That’s when I figure out what I need to let go of. And here is the secret to this process: You don’t need to figure out what to let go, you need to figure out what you want to keep.

A Four Step Guide to Determine What to Let Go

1. Make a list

What is most important to you right now? Be super selfish in this list, because this will tell you what you most crave. Leave off the things that are important to others but not to you, and everything you feel you should be doing but you are feeling resentment about. These are your top priorities.

2. Evaluate

Take a good hard look at the list and think about how you are spending your time. The first time I did this, I realized I was spending more than 50% of my waking hours doing things that were not on the list. Where is your time going? If your time is being spent on things not on your list, those are what to let go.

My first list had these things on it: Take care of me, take care of Bean, take care of the house. In that order. Instead I had been blogging, taking online classes (but failing to finish them), trying to clear out closets and my garage, thinking about volunteering in Bean’s classroom, and planning a big landscape project. None of those things fell into my top three priorities. No wonder I was feeling so exhausted and unhappy!

I made a second list, breaking down what each of my priorities meant to me. Taking care of me meant getting enough sleep, eating well, making something with my hands every day, and connecting with an adult every day. Taking care of Bean meant finding at least one hour of one on one time every day, keeping her bedtime consistent, and keeping her fed and healthy. Taking care of the house meant keeping it tidy, keeping all the animals alive, and keeping caught up on the bills and paperwork.

Remember that you don’t have to keep these priorities forever. You might need to do something drastic, but only do it for a little while. I knew I needed to get through the end of the school year and then I was going to need to re-evaluate based on my further-from-treatment energy level and our summer schedule. I wasn’t excited about letting go of blogging when I was just starting to focus on it again, but when I was honest with myself I knew it wasn’t the right time for me to return yet. I resented the time I was spending on it, and that wasn’t going to make me a good blogger.

When you are overwhelmed, resentful, tired, or just done with too many things, how do you decide which ones to let go? Click through for four steps to figure out what to let go today.

3. Make a plan

Take a look at your schedule and map out where you will put each of your priority activities. Put them early in the day, because if you leave them until last they may not happen. Put yourself first. You might want to make a little chart in your calendar if there are things you want to do every day so you can keep track of them.

Review the things that are completely out of alignment with your current priorities. What can you set aside for a while? What can you simply stop doing? What can you enlist someone else to take off your hands? What can you defer for a while and come back to later?

Take whatever steps you need to to divest yourself of things, including possibly having some hard conversations.

Decide how soon you want to review your priorities again. What’s going on in your life that might impact your time and energy? Pick a target date and mark it on your calendar.

4. Re-evaluate

This last step may feel like one you can skip, because hey, you got all lined up and everything is good now, right? Don’t skip it. Things change. You change, your environment changes, the needs of your kids and partner changes. Either on the date you decided to check in again, or whenever you start feeling out of alignment again, sit down and go back to step one. Do the whole process again.

Repeat the cycle as many times as you need to, which may be forever. Each time it will be a little easier to know what is a strong priority to you and for how long you might need to focus on it. It will get easier to say no to things that may never be priorities to you, even if someone else really wants you to do them. It will get easier to let go of things that you tried, but that are not a good fit or that take more energy or time than you are willing to give them.

Leave a comment below. What are your priorities right now?

Continue Reading · Comments { 0 }

Get Your Summer Bag Ready

We live in Santa Cruz. That means that any day the sun is shining, on our way to or from anywhere, my daughter may call from the backseat, “Can we go to the beach?” After the second or third time I declined because we didn’t have any of our beach gear with us, she said, “Mommy, we never get to go to the beach.” I felt awful. I mean, it is right there! So I solved the problem by putting together what I call our summer bag and keeping it in the trunk of my car. Ours is for beach trips, but a bag like this is great for any summer destination – the park, a hike, even the farmer’s market.

summerbag1

This has worked so well I wanted to tell you what I keep in our summer bag so you can make one, too.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Get Your Summer Bag Ready

First up, make sure you have a good bag. I use a large straw market bag my guy brought home as a souvenir from Madagascar (similar to this one), which stands up in the trunk of my car and is easy to carry. It is also big enough to hold extra clothes as they are shed. A lightweight backpack would also work really well.

This is what I put inside it:

Sun protection

First and foremost, a good sunblock, for any time we are going to be outside. I only use mineral sunblocks and choose the healthiest ones I can find. My favorite is the facial formulation from Green Goddess, but I hear good things about ThinkSport and Blue Lizard, too. Blue Lizard is made in Australia, and I trust Australians to know their sun protection!

I always have dry lips on hot days, and my favorite lip balm is the Cardamon Orange stick available from Grove Collective. It doesn’t have SPF in it, though, so if you want that, you might go for something like this organic one from Kiss My Face that is rated 30 SPF.

I always keep an extra pair of sunglasses for each of us in the summer bag (I buy cheap glasses at Target), and a squishable sun hat. I love the Sunday Afternoons hat I found last summer for my daughter because it covers the back of her neck even when she’s leaning over digging in the sand.

Clean up

For post-beach clean up, I keep a microfiber camping towel – small and very absorbent! – and a shaking bottle of talc-free powder. This stuff is magic for getting sand off of damp skin. I’ve heard that corn starch works for this too, but I haven’t tried it. The shaker bottle is key for applying it – you only need a little!

I also have a travel pack of wipes. Something is always sticky that shouldn’t be. I honestly don’t know how I lived without wipes in my pre-baby life!

Water and snack

Although I almost always have a bottle of water in the car, I keep an extra in the summer bag. I like Kleen Kanteen metal bottles and Ello glass bottles because both can get hot and not leach anything into the water. Just pick a lid style that won’t leak if it ends up upside down.

I also keep a small refillable bag of trail mix (just make sure it doesn’t have chocolate in it, which will melt in a hot car!) and a couple of Shine snack pouches. I’ve just discovered the Shine pouches – all fruit and veggies, no added sugar, and tasty for both my daughter and for me. I got a mixed flavor box at Costco for a bit less than I’ve seen them priced individually.

summerbag2

Bonus items

There are a few other items that come and go from the summer bag that you might want to consider, deepening on what kind of outing your family does.

Because are often going to the beach, but my daughter prefers the sand to the water, I have a small sand bucket and a couple of shovels. I’m considering upgrading to these sand toys that come in their own carry bag for this summer.

While she digs, I’m free to do something else. Sometimes I have a chair in the trunk of my car, which is awesome, and then I can read a book or otherwise entertain myself. A small coloring book and mini pens might be a good idea if you think you might find yourself with entertained kids and want to relax without a screen. These will do double duty for unexpected waits in restaurants or doctor’s office’s, too!

If you are looking for summer reading ideas, you can’t go wrong with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 summer reading guide. There’s something for everyone on that list!

Depending on where your family might be heading on a whim, you might want different entertainment, like a kite, a frisbee, or maybe good walking shoes.

With just a little preparation, you can be adventure-ready any time. And what is summer for if not for a little more, “Yes!” to requests for spontaneous adventure?

Continue Reading · Comments { 2 }

5 Mantras for Mamas

We all have those moments, right? Our child talks back, or hits someone (maybe us). We fumble our coffee cup and it crashes to the floor, spraying that precious liquid everywhere. The cat throws up in the middle of the kitchen and then we step in it. Our child whines, “I’m bored,” or “Can I watch TV?” for the 11 millionth time since breakfast.

In those moments, it is so easy to lose it. It is those moments that cause me to yell, stomp, make threats. Those are the ones that crack me.

But when I catch myself just before the cracking happens and use a mama mantra to center myself, I can unwind myself and make a better choice of response. One I won’t regret in the next instant.

Sometimes we all need a reset button. Use these mama mantras for when you are struggling with a situation and need to calm down and focus.

How do I do that? First, I take a breath. Taking a breath always helps. Second, I find a mantra that will take me out of the moment and into a calmer place. Once I’m in that calmer place, I can choose how I want to respond, not just respond without thinking.

What’s a mantra?

Originally from spiritual traditions, a mantra is a series of words or sounds intended to align the practitioner with the divine. The “Om” intoned at the beginning of a yoga class is a mantra. A repetition of the Lord’s Prayer or Ave Maria is a mantra. Chanting “Om Mani Padre Om” during meditation is a mantra.

As co-opted by the West, a mantra is a phrase intended to help you deal with a difficult situation. They are very useful to help you keep a positive attitude during an extended hard period, and also to shift you out of anger, fear, defense  – all those not-fun lizard brain defense responses to a critical moment – into a calmer, more sensible place.

A mama mantra is a phrase that will help you recover from those specific responses only our kids can trigger in us. No one knows our buttons like our kids. These mantras will help you through those pushed-button moments.

Mama Mantras

Here are 5 mama mantras I come back to when I need to shake myself out of a moment when I’m going to say or do something I may regret. They won’t help you clean up the coffee, but they will help you not yell at your kid.

Do what you can, let the rest go.

This is my go to in the morning before school and at bedtime. Or any time I just feel like there is not enough time or energy to be the perfect mother I always want to be (related: “Nobody is perfect.” is also a good one).

Love is almost always the answer.

This is the one I use when my child is throwing a fit. My instinct is to push her away, send her to her room, walk away. But that’s usually the last thing she needs. Your child may have a different personality, but mine almost always needs me to hold her in my arms and tell her I love her no matter what, even when she’s yelling at me. These words help me to calm down enough to open my arms to her.

What do I want her to remember?

Do I want my daughter to remember me yelling every morning before school? Do I want her to remember me saying no every time she asks to play? Do I want her to remember my phone between my face and hers? No, I don’t.  This mama mantra brings me back to my values, helps me make better choices, and get more creative about how to get her needs and mine both met.

You’ve got this.

This mama mantra is something my friend Liz says a lot. It is such a good one. Use it when that voice comes up saying, “I can’t do this!” Because mama, you can. You are strong enough, brave enough, tough enough. You might need to call in some help, or step away for a moment to gather yourself, but you’ve really got this.

Age cures everything.

This one comes from my friend Melissa’s mom. Use it when your child won’t eat anything that isn’t white. When he is in a sleep regression. When potty training feels like it will never ever happen. When she starts talking back and she’s only five. When you’ve tried everything to make bedtime easier and it just isn’t getting easier. Because if there’s anything consistent about parenting it is that everything changes. But that’s hard to remember when you are in the thick of a really snarly issue. These words will help. This stage won’t last forever.

If you like these mantras, check out the 100-day project I’m doing on Instagram right now. One Post-It note every day with a nurturing note for mamas. You can read all of them under the hashtag #100nurturingnotes.

Sometimes we all need a reset button. Use these mama mantras for when you are struggling with a situation and need to calm down and focus. :: nurturedmama.net

Print out the image above and post it where you’ll see it. Use one of these mama mantras to shift your head from exploding to resolving. Do you have other mantras that you find helpful? Leave a comment and tell us about them!

Continue Reading · Comments { 2 }

5 ways to restart a healthy habit

Things that are good for you aren’t always fun. Sometimes they take a bit of effort. The goal might be worthwhile, but the path there isn’t so enticing. So even when you start with the best of intentions, you might fall off the wagon and then it is really hard to get back on. I know it, I’ve been there. But I’ve learned some ways to make it so much easier to get back on that good habit and make it stick.

Healthy habits are hard to keep, but that doesn't mean you should  quit when you fail. 5 tips for restarting a healthy habit when you've slipped up.

Last year I worked with a nutritionist while I was going through chemo to keep my body as strong and resilient as possible. Early on, she suggested I stop eating sugar, to which I said something like, “Not likely.” But I did reduce how much I was eating, and then after surgery and a couple rounds of winter viruses (thank you preschool kids), I went for a couple of weeks without it and I couldn’t believe how different I felt. I slept better. I didn’t have blood sugar highs and lows, and no energy dip in the late afternoon. My joints stopped aching. I got over the next cold amazingly fast. After the first week or so, I even stopped craving it.

I was convinced, finally, that this was a habit I wanted to embrace. At the beginning of December last year I decided sugar was out of my diet. By January, I was eating it again. In February, I quit again, and except for a few days of lax attention and a few specific treats (a birthday cupcake and a piece of pie at my brother’s wedding), I’ve been clear of sugar for almost 4 months.
They say it takes 21 days to build a habit, and I’m well past the 21-day mark. But sugar is a hard one. It is everywhere, it tastes great, and it is in most of my favorite foods (hello cookies). But I’m determined this is a permanent change I want to make in my life, so I’m getting quite practiced at getting square with this habit again every time I slip up. I can’t eat one cupcake and then say, “Oh, well, I might as well have a cookie now, too.” I have to say, “Wow, that was yummy. But that was enough.” And then I have to actually stick to it.

How? Here are some tips that have helped me restart my no-sugar habit.

Release the shame

You are not a bad person because you didn’t keep to your goal. But we do tend to beat ourselves up in this situation. Is that helpful? No. Let go of your self-judgement and be kind to yourself. Healthy habits are hard, give yourself some grace.

Review the failure

What caused you to stop doing what you said you would do? Was this an unusual situation, or a challenge you are going to face on a regular basis? Were you trying to take on too much at once? In what ways can you support yourself better if you face this challenge again?

In my case, I had to get all the sweet snacks out of my house and make sure I had plenty of sugar-alternative sweeteners at home and in my bag when I’m out and about. I also found a few no-sugar sweet treats so when I’m craving something sweet there’s something I can eat that is guilt-free.

Healthy habits are hard to keep, but that doesn't mean you should  quit when you fail. 5 tips for restarting a healthy habit when you've slipped up.

Review your goal

Why do you want to adopt this habit? Is the goal still something you want? Is there a different path to it? Is this the right time for you to make this change? Do you need to start smaller? Get clear on what it is you hope to gain by making this change and keep your eyes on that prize. If you have any doubts, they will undermine your ability to keep to it when you face challenges.

Empower yourself

It is often easier to make a healthy change when we are doing it with others. Find a walking or running group, take a class with a friend, find an accountability buddy to check in with each day or week to help keep you on track. Your people want the best for you – if they see you’re are trying to do something to make your life and body healthier, they’ll be eager to support you!

Begin now

It is tempting when you’ve let a habit go for a while, to set a future date to begin again. “Well, I already ate one cookie, I might as well have another…” Don’t do that! In every moment, you have an opportunity to begin again. Don’t start tomorrow or next week, start right now.

But also, give yourself time. It does take a while to make a habit a part of your life. Use these steps to get back up if you get knocked down, and before you know it, that healthy habit will just be what you do. Won’t that feel good?

Healthy habits are hard to keep, but that doesn't mean you should  quit when you fail. 5 tips for restarting a healthy habit when you've slipped up.

Continue Reading · Comments { 1 }

Messy life management – 7 ways to cope

What have you done for yourself this week? Or is your messy life getting in the way?

Is it hard to even remember? Does the idea of doing something for yourself feel impossible? Laughable? Too selfish to even consider?

Is your life an overwhelming mess right now? Don't know what to do to dig out? Here are 7 things you can do - fast - to help you get back on top of that messy life. :: nurtured mama.net

 

I’ve had a week like that. Every time I turn around, it seems, I get a little more bad news. Some new complicated thing I need to manage. I can feel that I’m carrying all of my worries in the muscles of my shoulders and every time I move I hurt. And then that makes me worry about the link between stress and cancer reoccurrence. As if I need something else to worry about.

But it is weeks like this that I know how very important it is to take good care of myself. To do things that are just for me. They have to be tiny, mostly, but they have to be in there.

The week after I was diagnosed with cancer last year, I remember talking on the phone to a friend who asked, “What does your self-care look like right now?” I couldn’t think of anything, at first. And then I remembered that each morning for the last three days I had chosen to put the same tee-shirt back on. It was my favorite shirt. It was comfortable and looked good on me. And it saved me the energy of picking a new outfit. I told her that, sort of embarrassed to admit it, but she laughed and said, “That’s great self-care right there.”

Ever since I’ve had a different image of what self-care in the midst of really messy life might look like. I might not have time for a nap, or to get my nails done, or even meet a friend for coffee, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing things that take care of and feed me.

Is your life an overwhelming mess right now? Don't know what to do to dig out? Here are 7 things you can do - fast - to help you get back on top of that messy life. :: nurtured mama.net

Your self-care in the middle of a messy week might look like going to bed just 30 minutes earlier with a book to read. It might be noticing the way the light is shining in the restroom window and pausing to snap a picture (from the toilet – true story).

Or it might be something bigger. On Monday morning, I had a 90-minute massage at 9:30 in the morning – right after I dropped off my daughter at school. It felt huge and frivolous, but I felt better that day, and since, than I have felt in weeks.

And when I feel good, I manage my messy life better, I parent better, I communicate better with my partner, and I’m more likely to do other small, but kind, things for myself to keep myself feeling good.

Here are some other small self-care ideas, if your life is a hot mess right now:

  • Grab a handful of flowers when you are at the grocery store.
  • Choose the healthy snack or treat, so you get the “reward” feeling without the downside of feeling not-so-great or guilty afterwards.
  • Write yourself a love note or an affirmation on your bathroom mirror. Dry-erase markers are great for this.
  • Go for a photo walk, even if you just walk the perimeter of the school’s parking lot while you are already there, or around your neighborhood before going inside from your car.
  • Keep a book in your car or bag and instead of getting on Facebook or Pinterest while you have a few minutes to wait, read instead. Or load up the Kindle app on your phone with good stuff, so you don’t even have to remember the book.
  • Connect with a friend you trust – even if just by text or email – and if they ask you how you are, be honest. Let down your guard for a minute and let someone in. We need these connections, and they get so lost when we are in manage-the-mess mode.
  • Set up Unroll.me or just unsubscribe from all the emails you don’t need to read right now. Who needs to deal with a full inbox when so many other urgent things need your attention?

What will you do for yourself and your messy life today? Leave a comment and let me know.

Continue Reading · Comments { 3 }

One small moment of connection

When I want to connect with my child, one small moment can make all the difference. :: www.nurturedmama.netI want to remember that small moment last night when I rose above my frustration, exhaustion and distraction and said to her, “What will help? What will help you hear me? Because I’m feeling really frustrated right now.”

“You can say, ‘I love you, Stella,’” she said.

I know that won’t help the real problem, which is that it is the end of that hard year for our family, and I’ve been sick so much that I’ve lost some authority and she’s practicing being almost 5 by choosing to ignore me sometimes just to see what will happen. The real problem is that I’m tired and my attention is on healing and finding the threads of my life again. My attention is mostly not on the subtle nuances of parenting this small person who is learning to be independent. My attention is needed so many other places, so I’ve been letting it drift away from her until there’s a battle to fight, and then I come in stomping and laying down the law. I set consequences for failing to pick up the pink and green Legos from the living room floor at bedtime, or all of the tiny cut up pieces of paper strewn across the dining room table so we can sit down and have a meal as a family, because we missed so many meals together when I was laid up on the couch during chemo and this is important to me. I want our routines back and I’m going to enforce them.

Even though I don’t really think she has given me the answer I was looking for, I hear her in a way I haven’t been available to hear for a while. I hear, “I need you, Mommy. I need to feel connected with you.”

So I turn down the heat on the pan of salmon and I step over to where she stands with her back to me on her step stool, fiddling with a rubber band on the counter in front of her. I run my hand down her hair, growing so long. I lean in and kiss her temple. “I love you, Stella,” I whisper, and she curves her body a bit into mine.

“I love you, too, Mommy.”

“Now will you please clean off the table so we can eat?” She doesn’t turn or move quite yet, but I sense her smile. Something, some small thread, has been repaired between us. She’s softer, and so am I.

When I want to connect with my child, one small moment can make all the difference. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Continue Reading · Comments { 1 }

How To Get Through It: A brief guide for chemo patients

A brief guide for cancer patient on how to survive and thrive during chemo treatment. :: www.nurturedmama,net

Be brave. By which I mean feel terrified and resolve to move forward anyway.

Cancel your to do list.

Call in every favor, but not all at once.

Expect that it will be worse than you think. Know you will get through it anyway.

Get used to the discomfort of other people doing things you feel like you should be able to do yourself, but actually can’t do yourself right now.

Give yourself permission to be righteously furious. And then give yourself permission to speak that fury out loud (but don’t aim it at your immediate family).

Let yourself off all the hooks.

Get acupuncture. Often.

Get used to crying.

Conserve your energy for the things that matter most. Don’t let anyone else make that list for you.

Resign yourself to the many pharmaceutical medications all lined up in their little orange bottles.

Use marijuana medically and also when you just need a break from feeling everything.

Say thank you often to your significant other, or parent, or child, or whoever is carrying the brunt of your care.

Be really specific about helps you and what doesn’t.

Remember that every cycle is going to be a little different.

Get on YouTube and learn to wear a scarf from fabulously stylish women who have not actually lost their hair but wear scarves beautifully anyway.

Toss out all the toxic beauty products in your bathroom (which will be most of them), and while you’re at it toss the razor because you won’t need it for a while.

Buy a really good eyebrow pencil.

Give yourself permission to hate your doctors a little or a lot, but maybe not to their faces.

Remember to call the treatment “medicine” when talking to your doctors, even if you call it “torture” or “poison” when you talk to anyone else.

Buy your own examination gown.

Ignore all advice that has no meaning for you.

Eat what tastes good, plus a lot of kale.

Take a lot of naps.

Learn to knit – handwork is supposed to be a good antidote for chemo brain.

Use all the reminders in your calendar, because you will forget things.

Ignore the platitudes, even if they are well meant, that make you want to punch someone. Like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and “Everything in life happens for a purpose.” Fuck that.

Feel free to curse.

Escapism is awesome. Read all the books, watch all the movies, and dive right into all the social media. Unless it makes you feel bad, and then delete that shit right off your phone.

Find people who ask you how you are and really want to know, and then keep those people close to you.

On days you feel normal, don’t question it, just act like everything is normal while that feeling lasts.

Celebrate the small wins and also the end of each step of treatment.

Don’t research unusual symptoms and side effects or alternative treatments on the internet. Just don’t.

Give yourself a lot of credit. Chemo is fucking hard and anyone who hasn’t been through it doesn’t really understand how hard it is.

Let go of how life used to be and don’t worry too much yet about how it will be, after.

Remember there will be an after. This will not last forever.

But also don’t let this treatment be your whole life. Keep dreaming. Hold babies. Witness the powerful thrust of life that is fruiting trees bursting into bloom in the spring. Sit down and quietly watch the sun rise or set. Listen to moving water. Smell flowers and fresh air. Eat your food slowly so you really taste it, and savor good conversations.

Hold on tight to life. So tight.

Continue Reading · Comments { 1 }

Taking Stock in October

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

For more photos like these and the stories that go with them, join me on Instagram.

It has been a while since I’ve done one of these, so let’s catch up.

This post contains affiliate links.

  • Making: Small art in my journal and everything with yarn (I’ve had to put myself on a yarn-buying diet). Are you on Ravelry? Connect with me and check out my projects there.
  • Cooking: Pumpkin and banana bread.
  • Drinking: My new favorite drink: Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, made with soy milk.
  • Reading: So many books lately – I hit my goal of reading 40 books this year at the end of September! Recent favorites were Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande and The Sleep Walker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacobs. I’m halfway through Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert (loving it!) and up next is Rising Strong, by Brene Brown. Connect with me on Goodreads to see more of what I’m reading.
  • Wearing: I’m so ready for fall that I’m wearing too-warm clothes almost every day. My brown boots are out and my favorite Prairie Underground hoodie is always nearby.
  • Feeling: Strong and grounded. And so ready to be done with chemo. My last treatment (of 6) is today.
  • Needing: More sleep. Always more sleep.
  • Listening to: The Autumn Acoustic playlist on Spotify and the song Woman (Oh Mama) from Joy William’s new album Venus on repeat and loud.
  • Saying yes to right now: Paint on my fingers. Naps. Connecting with my daughter instead of raising my voice. Mostly, saying yes to life.
  • Saying no to right now: Clutter. I’m ever so slowly working through my house with Marie Kondo’s advice to only keep what brings me joy.
  • Thinking about: The next steps in my treatment plan: Surgery in November and then radiation for 6 weeks after that. And how to hold on to bits of holiday celebrations in the midst of treatment and recovery.
  • Worrying about: How radiation therapy is going to impact me.
  • Noticing: How much better and stronger I feel when I eat well. Which does not necessarily include pumpkin and banana bread.
  • Working toward: More connections with friends. More writing. More rest as I head into this winter.
  • Pinning: A lot of art journal and art inspiration images, and I’m starting to think about homemade holiday gifts, too. I’m also steadily adding to my The Cancer Year board.
  • Favorite thing Bean’s been doing: So much pretend play. Some days we are all a family of foxes, others we are selkies. She’s also been really into building things (mostly shelters for her animals) with Legos.
  • Least favorite thing Bean’s been doing: Talking to me like I’m her servant. There have been a lot of reminders to speak kindly and to say “please” around here lately.
  • Finding most nurturing: My Wild Writing class with Laurie Wagner. Every Wednesday morning I step out of my life for 90 minutes and let the words flow out like a river.
  • Dreaming about: A trip to Hawaii to sit on a lanai with a fruity drink when my treatment is all done this spring.
  • My favorite thing last month: When my friend came over and helped me declutter in my kitchen. I was so exhausted that night but every time I get something out of a neatly organized and not overstuffed cabinet I rejoice.
  • What I’m grateful for right now: Friends and family who have held us up through this ordeal of cancer treatment. There have been food deliveries, visits, plentiful playdates, care packages, cards, emails and phone calls. I feel so deeply loved and held by my community. So much gratitude I can’t even voice it all.

Want to play along? Copy my list and fill in your own answers or just pick a couple of categories that jump out at you. Post in the comments or share a link if you post it somewhere else. I want to hear what’s up with you, too!

You can find the rest of the Taking Stock posts here.

Continue Reading · Comments { 2 }

Hello From Outer Space – Keeping A Self Care Practice

How a daily self care practice might save you when big changes or grief hit in your life.

My friend Andrea shared a story on her blog last week titled, “One day you’re a dog, the next day your are in space.” It is about how sometimes your life pivots on a dime and you find yourself headed in a direction that that is unexpected and uncharted. Her story was about deciding to leave her marriage, and not being sure of that step until the second the words came out of her mouth.

My story is about a phone call I got at the end of April, when the doctor on the other end of the line said, “I’m sorry. The test results show that the biopsy is consistent with cancer.”

Boom. Outer space.

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with cancer or been close to someone who has, you’ll know that the next few weeks of my life quickly filled up with doctor’s appointments, tests, research, planning, and many many tears and bouts of anxiety. In many ways those weeks were the very hardest part of this journey so far. So much was unknown, so much was scary. I had to face my own mortality and decide how I was going to stand in that place and also move forward. And also how I was going to parent through the midst of this, and how I was going to continue to nurture my relationship with my man while renegotiating everything in our life as I relinquished so many of my day to day responsibilities and he became the main caretaker of me, our daughter, our pets, our home.

Everything I’ve learned while writing this blog came to bear, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been on this self care journey for so long. I have practice setting boundaries (one of which was walking away from this space for a while). I have practice asking for help and accepting it. I have practice at putting my needs first when I need to, and stepping back and taking a break from the hard stuff when I need perspective. I have learned how to filter other people’s advice and only take away what fits for me. I have learned how to go slow, listen to my heart, make decisions that are right for me in both the short term and the long view. I have learned these things because I’ve been practicing them in small ways every day for a few years. So when I needed them in a big way all of a sudden, there they were at my fingertips.

Even after I got through those first dizzying weeks and actually moved into my treatment plan, I kept using all that self-care knowledge. I used it when that first chemo cycle was so much harder than I expected. I used it when most of my hair fell out at the end of June. I used it when my daughter had eye surgery in July and I had to pull out all of my resources to be there for her when I had so little energy even for myself. And then I used it to recover again when I found myself so depleted. I use it over and over whenever my fears rise, my ability to cope falters, my guilt and frustration for being in this hard place sneak in the cracks and blindside me, over and over again.

I would not wish a cancer diagnosis on anyone. Nor would I wish the loss of a pregnancy, a hard birth, a challenging child, or heartache of any kind. But I see now how valuable these self care practices are. The day to day habits I write about here will help you cope, whether your challenge is the third spilled cup of milk before lunch or a string of words that send you to outer space for months.

Just keep practicing.

Continue Reading · Comments { 4 }

Beautiful Mother’s Day Gifts From Uncommon Goods

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

This week I’m teaming up with Uncommon Goods to share with you some fun Mother’s Day gift ideas.

I picked Uncommon Goods as a partner because I appreciate they way they do business. They feature unusual and often handmade products – over half of what they sell is handmade – and share stories of their designers and makers in both their catalogs and on their blog. I love seeing the real people who are making the things I’m buying and I always love a peek into a maker’s studio!

I also want to give them a high-five for their commitment to the environment and running a sustainable business. Uncommon Goods is a registered B-Corporation, which means they meet a stated and high standard on a range of progressive issues, including wage levels (their Brooklyn warehouse workers’ wages start at 50% higher than local minimum wage), environmental impact (a third of their products incorporate upcycled and recycled components) and giving back to the community (they donate $1 from each order to one of several non-profit organizations).

I also find their web site really easy to navigate and they have really well-curated gift collections.  You can see their Mother’s Day collection here and a wider collection of gifts for moms here.

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

They sent me two products to try. The first of them is a Flavor Infuser Water Bottle (see it here). This glass water bottle has a BPA-free plastic insert that holds fruit or herbs and a sealing lid so you can fill it and carry it with you without worrying about leaking (always an issue with my metal Klean Kanteen bottle!). I was really excited about this bottle because I need to be drinking more water and I love infused water. Spring time is a great time to explore infused water flavors, as so many fruits and herbs are hitting the market and my garden right now. I’ve tried lemon-basil and lemon-mint water, and today I’m drinking lemon-strawberry (my lemon tree was very productive this winter!). For tomorrow morning, I’ve cut up some lime leftover from a margarita and part of a peach that wasn’t quite ripe enough for my daughter’s taste.

Since I’ve been using this bottle I’m definitely drinking more water. I’m also talking about drinking water with everyone, because when it is all filled with fruit it is beautiful and everyone who sees it asks me about it! It fits perfectly in the cup holder in my car and because it seals well I can tuck it into my purse when my hands are full. My only real concern with this bottle is that I’m going to drop it and break it. I love the idea of drinking out of a glass container, but I’m kind of a klutz.

You can find this glass bottle here and a similar non-glass bottle here.

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

The second item I received is this lovely and delicate necklace (see it here). If you’ve been reading here long you’ve heard me talk about the mindfulness practice of being present in the moment, and this sweet little necklace is reminder of that practice for me. It is simple and understated – just my style. I love it. There are also matching earrings from the same artist (see them here). This set would be a lovely gift for a mama who needs a reminder to slow down and be present.

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Jewelry is a great Mom’s day gift all around, and there are several really lovely pieces in the Mother’s Day collection. I love the nesting birds design (here) and birth flower pendants (here). My favorite, though, is this modern locket design that can be customized with the birth stones of your children (see it here). So very sweet!

Maybe you are shopping for someone whose sensibilities are a little less delicate, though? Check out this hilarious and on-trend ampersand cheese and cracker board, and these salt rock tequila glasses. No matter who you are gifting, you are sure to find something wonderful for Mother’s Day with Uncommon Goods.

Which Uncommon Goods product would you most like to receive this Mother’s Day?

PS – if you want to support other businesses that support the same kinds of causes as Uncommon Goods, you can find a directory of other registered B-Corps here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Continue Reading · Comments { 0 }