Mourning Motherhood

Motherhood transformationMotherhood strips everything away. You leave humility behind in pregnancy and there’s no going back.

The person you are now is a thin shadow of who you thought you were. You may have spent a substantial amount of your adulthood figuring out your identity. That’s discarded when you become a parent. You’re forced to say goodbye to all the superficial things you thought comprised your core self. It’s a earth-shattering kind of thing that will change you in a good way forever.

There are the clothes you used to wear post-baby you will never ever wear again.

There are the jobs you won’t get because employers and clients can smell a sleep-deprived mother thousands of miles away.

There are the interests that used to define who you were, but you no longer have time for.

There are the friends that grow weary of hearing baby talk or rescheduling their lives to accommodate yours.

There are the beliefs you used to have: “I’ll never be that lenient/hard as a parent. I would never look that disheveled. I will never be that parent.”

But with everything that’s taken away from you-there is something that comes in its place.

Through the cracks of who you once were, there is a stronger, braver, more authentic you. When you are forced to leave behind the person you once were with all of her demands and expectations, you become a soft, vulnerable heart that suddenly understands the world’s ache.

Here’s what happens:

If you allow your children to change you, other people’s stuff won’t affect you in the same way. You will grow compassion for the mother that’s super slow in the grocery line. You won’t even wince when someone is rude. You will have saved your energy for the things that truly matter.

Because your time is so precious and valuable, you will willingly let go of friendships that don’t serve you. You will give up jobs you thought were necessary for your self-worth. You will want more for yourself the way you want the world for your children.

You may even grow forgiveness for your parents.

Children are our mirrors. They remind us that we are responsible for our own actions. They teach us that presence is the greatest present there is. They re-awaken the part of us that always knew that time is our most valuable resource.

If we see our own longings, frustrations and inner issues through their tantrums, cries and rebellions, we will be better changed for it. We are wounded children ourselves trying desperately to heal so we can become the parents we needed.

Children give us that second chance.

What I once thought was a sacrifice, I now realize was a blessing.

Yes there is a painful shedding and mourning of the old shell.

The person that arises aware that our children are here to teach us and not the other way around, will triumphant and so will the world.

Quick and Easy Organizing Tips

Whenever I’m pinching my fingers to close a stroller or frantically searching for a cover from one of the gazillion bottles my sons have, I secretly scorn the creator. Who would think of things that make a mom’s life harder?!

And that’s when I look for ways to make my life easier. Here are two things I discovered that I am happy to pass on to any mom who could use a little ease and convenience in her life.

  1. Multipurpose your trays. When trays were in, I bought three. Besides using them to sort papers, I found this to be a great kitchen organizer. Now all my miscellaneous doodads aren’t all splayed over the countertops.

Tray organizer

 

2. Finally organize those kid plates. I started collecting toddler dishes and kid plates up the wazoo. Then, I thought about how my life would be so much nicer if a domino of plates didn’t hit me in the eye every time a baby screamed for food. I originally bought this pot and lid organizer to file papers in the office. But it is candy for the eyes as a plate organizer.

Kitchen organizer solution

Do you have any tips that would help a fellow mom out? Share them here!

Autumn’s Inspiration

DSC01008-3I started this blog years ago with the intention of fueling my own undernourished spirit. Job after job of soul crushing work depleted me. This blog has been life giving and worth every ounce of time I put in it. It’s led to connections, jobs, and podcast interviews. But more importantly, it pushed me to stop living in the lines and start shaking things up a bit.

And then one kid came. Then, another. My freelance writing career took off. I began to live the dream instead of just dreaming about staring out my window typing on a Mac laptop like Carrie Bradshaw.

But somewhere along the way I started to sacrifice my dreams a little. I became the mom that I saw everywhere. The mom who put her kids first and everyone suffered as a result.

I saw author Wes Moore on Super Soul Sunday, which you can view here, this past weekend and was reminded of all the magical, mystical, whimsical dreams I had for myself. In this wise sentence, he stirred something in me:

“I knew it was incredibly risky to go out, but I think I had to make a very conscious decision that I would rather flirt with failure than never dance with my joy.”

How many of us live just getting by because we were taught that there was a single equation for happiness and any diversion would ruin us, put us on the streets, and shame us for life?

Maybe those impediments are placed so we can grow into the fierce people we were meant to become. But if we use it as excuses to stay small and safe, we’re wasting space in the world. We’re wasting the unique, quirky, beautifully messy life we were given. We were given it all for a reason. When we don’t use it to heal others, speak, write, create, we are wasting it all.

I don’t know what my next chapter holds. I know that I will continue to write, make an impact, and pursue what’s scary. I know that I won’t give up on my dreams. The rest is all up to faith.

People let’s spend our energies fueling our spirit and investing in our purpose. Let’s stop overworrying, overjudging and overgossiping! Use it instead to create what you’ve always wanted to do. Even if it’s not perfect right now. Even if it’s not the greatest thing in the world. Do it. Do it because you were meant to do more than live in the lines.

Five Secrets Fulfilled People Use Everyday

Fulfilled Book Cover

Feeling like you’re surviving not thriving? Author Dr. William Schiemann shares his secrets to fulfillment in this week’s guest post.

Are there real tricks to becoming fulfilled in life? You bet. My research and that of others suggests that there are key street-smart actions that those who are most fulfilled use every day. I interviewed over 100 successful people—some who were fulfilled and others who were not—to understand why success does not always bring about fulfillment. There was amazing convergence around several things that fulfilled people do. Here is the top five:

  1. Have strong values—and stick with them. Do your work environment, family and friends allow you to behave consistent with your values? Having to behave contrary with your values can be debilitating.
  2. Practice resilience. The ability to face adversity and bounce back. One part of resilience is having grit, a firmness of character, or as psychologist Angela Duckworth describes it based on her studies, the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It was a rare person who could pursue their long-term goals without setbacks in their lives—divorces, failed promotions, cancer, family members coming off the rails. Many people who I knew to be successful in their professional lives had many hidden stories of failures and bounce backs. They used a variety of approaches to get around those adversities that you can borrow in your own life, such as building a great support network of friends, or family that can support you as you plough through challenges. Those who had developed mentors found them particularly helpful. Some dug deep into their long-term vision or spirituality to help them overcome setbacks. We all have setbacks, it’s how you get up that makes the difference.
  3. Take risks. A really interesting finding in my research is the quantity of people who either took risks and vouched that those risks stretched them and enabled them to reach new heights, or those who regretted not taking more risks. It appears that wisdom brings with it perspective. What appeared to be huge risks to many when they were young, now seems insignificant in hindsight. Although hindsight is often 20-20, it would be too easy to dismiss this advice simply as sages looking through the rear view mirror. Instead, many felt so strongly about this that they have gone overboard in encouraging their children to take more risks. This is one of the most difficult lessons in the art of fulfillment, but you can help yourself by have a longer term vision, with many intermediate lighthouse goals along the way—stepping stones—that allow you to see the big picture. Imminent risks are often much less threatening when viewing the big picture. Another key is talking to those who have faced those risks before, often providing sage advice that allows one to reduce the fear and anxiety that comes with perceived risk.
  4. Find a good network. One of the most frequent pieces of advice among our sages was taking time to build networks. One out-of-work pharmaceutical executive told me that the only time he networks is when he is out of work, lamenting that he has not learned from past mistakes. It takes so much longer to reconnect with people and build trust, he shared. This is an increasing challenge to those who are overloaded at work today. Many interviewees commented that time pressures reduced their attendance at meetings outside work, limited hobby and family time, and reduced the time to simply keep up with friends and professional colleagues on Facebook or Linked-In. Most realized that having a good network is a key skill, particularly in the world we live in where networks and connections are increasing key to scoring the next great job, or finding a life partner or getting into the right school. If you are not building your network continuously, you are falling behind.
  5. Give back. An often forgotten element that brought fulfillment to many was giving back. Sharing your skills and experiences with others can bring an incredible sense of fulfillment when you see what it can do for others. I began volunteering for not-for-profits later in life and I can attest that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences. One group I encountered during my investigations was Rosie’s kids—a program to help inner city kids go ahead in life by teaching them stage skills—dancing and singings their hearts away. I first heard the backstory of so many of the disadvantaged kids—crack houses, abusive parent, abandoned, homeless—and then I saw these kids performing with huge smiles on their faces—and one child summed it up for me when I spoke with him at the end. He said that he was excited about his future—his chances. And with a tear in my eye, I realized that one of our greatest sources of fulfillment is enabled others to become fulfilled.

Take a moment to think about your own fulfillment. Do you have a vision, are you taking enough risks, have you built the networks to help you during difficult setbacks, and are you giving back to others more in need? Try it. I think you will find yourself more fulfilled.

William Schiemann HeadshotWilliam A. Schiemann, Ph.D. is CEO of Metrus Group. He is a thought leader in human resources, employee engagement, and fulfillment and author of Fulfilled! Critical Choices – Work, Home, Life, scheduled to be released October 1, 2016. For more information follow Dr. Schiemann on Twitter, @wschiemann and connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/wmschiemann.

 

The Call That Beckons You to Answer

FreedomThe truth doesn’t show itself in niceties.

It doesn’t come from pushing down, holding back, staying polite, but angry.

Honesty doesn’t derive from hiding away, pretending everything is all right.

It is a force that won’t be ignored

that will rattle, ruin and rot your insides

if not answered to be released.

The call is not to mold yourself into the other

The answer is to embrace the fear and stand in it courageously.

The real battle isn’t with the skeletons out there

The real fight is in you.

“Will you listen?” it asks.

Will you confront the real issue that makes you erupt in jealousy, resentment and fear?

Underneath all the Dolce & Gabbana, the Kate Spade and the LV,

do you love me?

will you see me?

do you know that you are enough?

Instead we wait for the questions to be answered from the outside

in promotions, accolades, Facebook fame, and relationships

But none can soothe the soul like the person staring back at us.

The only way then—

is the way-

Courageously walk through the tangled mess of shadows that represent our insecurities, doubt and ugliness-our dramatic personalities, our imperfect gait, our artistic insights, our sensitivities, our quirkiness.

They may not have loved it about you.

They may have tried to quell it in you.

But it is the ticket to your freedom so LET IT SCREAM, DANCE, AND FLY!

Release it.

Let it go.

Join us.

Be the one who is brave enough to fully live who you were born to be.

You deserve nothing less.

Surviving Airplane Travel With a Toddler and an Infant

Payton drawing

I’m fresh off of my ten day trip and wanted to share what helped ease the pain of traveling with two babies.

I scoured the internet for weeks before my vacation. I found information on air travel with a toddler and air travel with an infant, but none for both. Maybe because many parents would rather avoid traveling until their babies are older. But I’m glad I took a risk. It turned out way less scary than I imagined.

Prepping + low expectations + luck = pretty painless trip

While I’m no way close to being an expert, I did learn a few things that may help you tote your tots:

  1. Read Busy Toddler Happy Mom’s Traveling with Toddlers by Gayle Jervis and Kristen Jervis Cacka. This short travel book packs a punch. Mine is full of tabs and so valuable I packed in our already packed luggage. It’s not only helpful for traveling, but for those rare times when you go out to eat.
  2. Make “surprise” eggs. I don’t know about you, but my toddler loves watching those surprise eggs videos on youtube. I tried to mimic the action by filling eggs with things like play dough, capsules that turn into animals when you drop them in water, and jelly rings that light up. While I had to keep my 9-month old away from the tiny toys, he was pretty excited with the plastic eggs themselves.
  3. Pack new novelty books. Scratch n’ sniff books were a hit with my baby, toddler and me too.
  4. Wipeable workbooks. Who knew workbooks could be fun? The dry erase workbook that helps toddlers trace and draw was a lifesaver keeping my three-year-old busy for about an hour.
  5. Bring on the carseat. This is a secret tip shared by my flight attendant cousin. I believe it was the biggest reason for the ease of this trip compared with the hell ride we went on a few months earlier. He was so comfortable, he even fell asleep.
  6. Toddler safe scissors. Since I never gave my three-year-old scissors before, he was fascinated with using them to cut play dough.
  7. Build a fun bag. I read about how others mom created play kits out of makeup bags. Genius! Now why didn’t I think of that? Basically you fill these clear folders or binder pencil cases with things like antibacterial wipes, new toys, books, and snacks. This saved me a huge amount of time since it eliminated the need to dig through my carryon.
  8. BYOT(rash)B(ag). A flight attendant complimented me on this, but I have to give credit to one of the moms who wrote about it. The benefit of toting a trash bag? I didn’t have to wait for an attendant to take our cups, napkins, and everything else overflowing the seat pockets.
  9. Bring snacks they both can eat. Cheerios were a popular treat for both my kids.
  10. Dress your infant in socks. This is great for babies that are walking, standing or cruising. You can plop them on the ground and not worry about their feet getting dirty. Their hands? That’s another story.

Bonus tips:

  1. *Let them play on your phone or tablet. If all else fails, save those really tantalizing age appropriate iPad games for the trip. It’ll give you a little time to either entertain the baby, read (I actually got to do this!) or rest.
  2. *Prep them beforehand. For weeks before our trip, my toddler and I practiced our airplane voice. I told him that we had to be quiet on the airplane, other people would be on there and if he’s too loud he might get scolded by the flight attendant. Your child may not need a little warning, but doing so seemed to help mine.

The Things They Teach Us

Mom and child silhoutteIf anyone told you that one day you would endure hours of physical pain, mindless work and emotional struggle all with little hope of continuous sleep, you would think they were talking about imprisonment or self-torture. But many of choose this life when we become mothers. And surprisingly, we want to do it again, and again.

The reason?

We lose our ambition. We lose ourselves. We lose friends. We lose sleep. But there’s nothing like a child that can return you back to what’s truly important.

Love.

I don’t know of any other job as hard. I didn’t think I would one day grow up, spend a ton of money on school and more school, and end up being a mother. But now that I’m knee deep in it, I can see I was meant to do it.

My ultimate goal in life has always been inner growth. There’s nothing like a demanding toddler or a fussy baby that forces you to get real with yourself. You can’t hide behind a false sense of yourself or get away with whittling away with your time. For children, now is everything. In the process of breaking me open, they’ve changed me forever. These are the precious lessons they’ve taught me about what’s really important.

If you’re going to write, get to it.

Play is as necessary as breathing.

Don’t waste time and energy cajoling with un-joyful folk.

What you say matters, but what you do matters more.

Things are nice, but memories are everything.

Messing up is a daily necessity.

You don’t grow out of tantrums when you get older. It just looks cuter in kids than it does in adults.

It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s how you clean up afterwards.

Boys are dirty. Get over it already.

Life is more than what you’ve accomplished.

Rewarding moments rest in the most ordinary days.

One day soon your worst days will be the ones that had the greatest potential for growth and change.

Change is hard for everybody, kids included.

Babies and toddlers know what’s up every when they can’t say it.

If you want to teach your child kindness and empathy, teach yourself first.

Academics are not everything. There are many measures of success.

You can grow up poor, but feel rich with love.

You can mess up your kids in so many ways, but remember this. What they will remember most is whether they were loved.