What I Would Tell the Disheveled Mom With Her Screaming Kids

cry babyIf this were B.K. or before kids, I would try to avert my eyes and run. Mommy meltdowns and blood curdling screams from tantrumy kids made my skin crawl. It’s one of the reasons why I thought I would never have kids.

Fast-forward three years.

I’m running through Target like a contestant on Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games. Move people! I’ve got a hungry, crying baby. Next up-a flying toddler. My kid dives out of the shopping cart. Without warning. While I’m paying. I’m trying to figure out how to stop him from doing it again when he darts for the evil junk at the checkout aisle. There’s a growing line of people building behind me, a cranky two-year-old and a cashier that wants to strangle me. I had an amazing moment when I realized I’m that mom. I’m the mom with the snot soaked shirt. I’m the mom with suitcase under her eyes that’s yelling at her kids, that’s holding the line, that’s not in control.

I’m all those moms.

So here’s what I would tell you if you ever a) find yourself in this same predicament b) see a mom who is:

Take a deep breath. It’s all okay. You feel judged. You are probably are being judged. But those people don’t know how hard it is. They might be seeing you at your worst. They don’t know the hours you spent trying to calm a teething baby and a scared of the dark toddler. They don’t know how you soothed your son’s fears or kiss his owies away or spend hours trying to find the right recipe that he will actually eat. But none of that matters. The person you should be concerned with is you.

I’m taking a Self-Compassion course with Brene Brown and Kristin Neff. One of the things I learned is to put our hands over our heart or give ourselves a gentle hug. Secondly, tell yourself the following: “You’re struggling. This is hard. Everyone struggles. You’re not alone.”

This is what I would tell you.

You’re doing the best you can in a job impossible to be perfect at. You will have good days when you feel like you’re doing a pretty good job. Your child will look up at you and smile. You’ll feel like you got this parenting thing down. And you will have those horrendous days when the poop literally hits the fan. And that’s okay too. You messed up. Your child’s disappointed, scared or sad. You tried your best. You can try again.

I don’t think anyone leaves childhood unscathed. We’ve all got scars. They will have them too. Our job is to teach them that life isn’t perfect, but love is. Teach them you can love yourself even when you feel like a monster and you will have done an amazing job because we all mess up. We all say the wrong thing. We all hurt each other. The main thing is whether we can say to ourselves at the end of the day, “I loved my hardest. I lived the fullest. And I forgive myself for the moments that I didn’t measure up. I am both beautiful and messy. I love you. I love myself. We are all works in progress.”

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Using Art to Move Your Life

{Not all sharing is a good thing. An alley wall full of chewed up gum.}

I’m currently taking Brene Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection Life Class. That along with twice a day walks, listening to Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free Destiny meditation and cutting out refined and processed carbs has completely changed me inside and out. It’s slowly lessening the gap between who I am on the inside and the me I show the world.

One of the things that has specifically shifted is my intention of being authentic, expressing my true self and using artistic expression and creativity to push me forward. That sometimes means dragging a paintbrush across a canvas, decorating a room, or writing down a poem. Sometimes I share it here. Other times I hide it away in a book.

When do you share and when do you keep things to yourself?

In Brown’s class, she discusses what it means to be vulnerable. Sharing what we feel is vulnerable is one way we release shame. {Kind of like this poem I wrote here.} The difference with sharing too much and sharing enough depends on your ability to be okay regardless of the feedback.

The same thing may happen if you’re deciding whether to share something deeply personal with the world. Maybe it’s a dream, a secret, a trauma, an amazing accomplishment, a fear…Whatever it is feels terrifying to share. But secrets can eat you up from the inside. The only way to freedom is through reaching out. The key is to be very discriminative about who you choose to share what to.

I’ve made this mistake too many times in entrusting my precious thoughts, feelings and dreams to people who couldn’t hear it so they a) criticized it b) tore it apart c) told others about it. In the end, expressing my dreams felt dangerous and left me feeling wounded. What I learned in the process it that if I could use art and creativity to work my way through what felt hard and personally dealt with it, then I had the inner strength to share the work with those I loved, trusted and felt safe around. And that in return, felt wonderfully healing.

These days, social media makes sharing all too easy. When we’re pissed at a friend, a relative or a boss, it’s so easy to vent but so hard to take back what’s been sent.

Here’s my suggestion.

The next time you’re going through a rough situation. Put a pause on blogging, updating and tweeting to the world. Instead open up a journal, write down your thoughts or take a pen, crayons, pencils, paint and draw it in on a canvas. Then when you’re ready and not depending on what others have to say about it, share it with those who are near and dear to your heart.

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The Power of Creativity

{Queen Anne Lace Settee from Joss and Main via Pinterest}

{Baxton Studio chairs from Amazon.com}


{Boja pendant lamp from Ikea}

I’ve been in the process of buying our first home so forgive me if this platform has been sparse lately. But don’t forgive me for neglecting creativity.

Creativity is the undercurrent of this blog. It is the root of anything worth its beauty and within its process contains the very essence of life itself. It doesn’t matter if you’re uber creative and masterfully write, paint, or craft for a living. It matters only that you try.

Every person is creative. The need to make something out of nothing stems from a sacred place. We were all “created.” Anyone who has temporarily put down a paintbrush and taken up their computer instead has nostalgia for the first time they created something.

For you who sit and work and live and tend to your children, but do not tend to your own creative garden, this post is for you.

If you are harboring fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, discontent, boredom, lack of meaning in your life, you may be neglecting your creative self.

There have been many people I’ve met who are creatives at heart. They are dramatic and over-the-top, fun to be with, energetic, passionate. But the energy that could be spent on their creativity gets transformed into obsessively worrying, overworking, or an unhealthy focus/obsession on others.

Why would we miss the chance to paint or draw or be out in nature? We deem it unimportant. The older we are, the more we lose the voice that tells us this is important too.

I love what author and speaker Dr. Brené Brown says about creativity on her website and in her book The Gifts of Imperfection:

 “I’m not very creative” doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.

What have you given up as a result of neglecting your creativity?

Is it your life, your freedom, your sense of meaning, your self?

I’ve learned that when I choose to watch TV or internet surf instead of create, my personal and professional life takes a hit. The only way I can continue to grow, to feel purposeful, to feel grounded despite the chaos of daily life, is to partake in an act of creativity.

I vow to take up a creative task daily.

What will you start to create today?

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It’s Not Them. It’s You!

{image via The Urban Slant}

{image via The Urban Slant}

The hardest thing to do, which is also the most life-changing, is to take responsibility for your life. This means that you look at everything going on right now, not as evidence of bad luck or misfortune, but as the decisions that led you up to this point.

It is not about self-blame or self-pity. You may indulge in both for awhile. You may need to. But to truly grow as a person and be happy, you need to empower yourself. That takes seeing your life as it is not colored by someone’s bad choices, your parents’ mistakes or hard luck.

When it comes down to it, it’s so much easier to blame someone else than to understand, have compassion for, and be aware of what you did to yourself.

It was a hard look at my own life that made me realize this. It took years for me to wake up. I saw that the company I chose to surround myself with, the situations I put myself in and the life that I used to lead were the results of bad choices stemming from a low self-worth. It’s also hearing a quote by Theodore Roosevelt spoken aloud by author, professor and public speaker Brené Brown on Super Soul Sunday that made things sync for me.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

It’s not bad luck that led to moments of insecurity and self-doubt when it came to following my dreams. I realized that I chose people in my life who reinforced a long-held belief that I could not write, that I was not a good enough writer, and that I would never live the life of my dreams. I saw a trail of critics who validated what I was feeling internally. When I finally lifted myself out of the negativity, I saw that I was the one who was putting myself on the line, risking everything, and being vulnerable by following my dreams. The people I listened to were simply good at being on the sidelines, feeling courageous in their critiques.

I say this because you may be in the same boat as me. You might be struggling, working hard, dealing daily with people who don’t support your dreams. You will encounter this whenever you strive for a non-traditional life. Don’t make things harder on yourself by surrounding yourself with negative, non-supportive people.

Happiness and success come when your insides match your outsides. When you notice that the people you spend the most time with are loving, understanding and genuinely care about you, then you’ve done it! You’re on the road to the life you were meant to live.

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