Parenting · Uncategorized

From one mom of a Kindergartener to another

Dear mom of a Kindergartener,

Today felt extra hard. Going back to virtual school was anything but easy. The shift from online to in person, to a crazy winter storm here in Houston, TX, which lead to no school for a week and 2 days, to back to virtual school for the remainder of the week is well…confusing.

As parents, we often hear that kids thrive off of routine schedules and stability and while I would like to believe that all of this “up in the air” way of living lately is creating a super flexible and patient human in the making. I am just not sure.

As a mom I see confusion, I see frustration, I see struggle and I see tears.

(Theirs and mine…Not gonna lie).

Not that I need to go into details here, I know you feel my pain and I know you too are having an internal conflict regarding what the right choice is for your family.

You are emotionally and physically drained by 2 P.M. Our kids need our love and attention and they have some clever and fun ways of reaching for it. Between chugging your coffee as soon as your feet hit the kitchen, or forgetting about your coffee after the first sip because your toddler wakes up, and then again after you microwave it. Then discovering it hours later when you open your microwave to heat up a few chicken nuggets. Your old and cold coffee is staring you in the face only to remind you of why you are so exhausted!

So you make more and hope this time the outcome is better. Making breakfast, washing the dishes, wiping down the table, sweeping up the crumbs, making sure your kid is on the computer at the exact moment they need to be. Keeping them on task, making sure they are engaged in the lesson, trying to keep their siblings away from them and away from the walls with crayons. And facing the surprise of their computers needing to restart or finding out that the charger has in fact left the wall!

In these moments you can either freak the hell out and scream like your 3 year old toddler does, or find your inner Warrior Goddess and hold on tightly to that Grace you must to give yourself and your kids.

You mom, are extra grateful for teachers today, for schools and the great outdoors.

Today was hard, you are not alone. It will get better. It has to, right?

Love,

A mom of a Kindergartener

Christianity · Meditation

Christianity, Sacredness and Finding My Place

Meditation has become part of my day. I find it to be not only relaxing, but also so interesting. So many random thoughts fill my brain.

Today the topic was church. I am a Christian who does not attend church. I have attended church many times throughout my life, but not one single church has ever felt like home and when I think about going to a church, I feel uneasy.

Why? I have never asked myself this question before today.

Meditation brought my thoughts here though, so I dove in and am happy to report that I finally understand why that feeling of uneasiness exists.

To me, spirituality is sacred. It is intimate.

I do not read my bible in front of a crowd, I read it in my bed or on our couch. I do not pray in large crowds; I pray in my own quiet space.

I do not sing my heart out to Lauren Daigle in front of a large audience. I do that in my car or while cleaning the kitchen.

While I do love to sing, it is usually along side my brother and his guitar after drink number 2. Or clumsily hitting my guitar making up silly songs…alone.  

I have come to love Jesus though and I love reading and I love growing in all things good and nurturing to my mind, body, and soul.

I like the idea of growing within a church and connecting with others who are on a similar Journey. In my mind, this consist of a group of people meeting outside on a hill somewhere teaching, learning, listening, and growing together. This place does not exist, maybe I should meditate on why I wish it did.

I just find it exceedingly difficult to dive into a place so large and so distracting when what I am there for feels so sacred.

Also, there is trust. I do not give my heart to others easily; I am extremely cautious with my soul and what I choose to feed it. At least I try to be aware of that. So, if I subject my most intimate self to people whose intentions I do not know, I feel vulnerable and I do not find much comfort in vulnerability.

I would like to find comfort in a church, I think they have a lot of good to offer. I just cannot shake that uneasy feeling.

Am I alone in this? I Would love to hear others thoughts as well.

Health · Uncategorized

The War Against Oneself

Depression has a not so subtle way of ramming itself into ones mind and turning life as you once knew it into a humongous blur of chaos.

No one likes you. Those friends you thought you had feel sorry for, they don’t actually want to include you in things. You are not enough. You are worthless. You are a terrible mother. Everyone else has their shit figured out, why don’t you? They are much better off without you. You are too impulsive. You are stupid. You ruin everything good.

The intrusive thoughts that fill our brains while deep in the state of depression are incredibly difficult to fight. Who really wins when you are at war with yourself? You know you are surviving only to face another battle. When you are deep in the woods, it is hard to find the light. One has to dig deep to keep the fight going.

I have to keep in mind that I am a people pleaser and when I feel disliked or unwanted, I must disassociate myself from the opinions of others. Because truthfully, some may very well think that I am a terrible mom, that my rules aren’t good enough and they do everything better. Some may not like me but I have to be okay with that. I CANNOT please every single person and it is not worth killing myself in an effort to do so. I can’t allow the thoughts of others to make me feel small.

When I am in a dark head space I have to find a way out. I look to inspirational people like David Goggins and Rachel Hollis. These Authors have literally saved me from myself time and time again. Goggins is a total badass who will quickly remind you of how the choices you make directly effect who you are and who you aim to become. Both authors discuss the importance of surrounding yourself with people who inspire you. I aim to walk away from my friends feeling happiness and love and on a good day, inspiration too! If I feel small when I walk away from someone, are those really the people I should be trying so hard to please?

Today I am missing my people. I am missing my friends who I have shared my soul with for the past 2 decades. Maybe the effects of COVID and the lack of meeting up with these lovely humans is taking its toll. However, I know enough know that when I start to feel all the feels I need to talk or write and get it all out.

I am thankful for this blog because it gives me that outlet. It is not about promoting and advertising and networking. My blog aims to be about realness, discovery and healing in all of their forms. For me those forms involve running when my janky knee isn’t acting up, working out outdoors with a group, creating art and whole heartedly PLAYING with our children.

I am not much for New Years resolutions, I am more of a life goals type of gal. But this year I am trying something new so I guess you could say that is a New Years resolution. I am going into this year with the mantra of intent. I will be intentional about what I take in; such as reading, people, music, exercise, food, alcohol consumption, words, social media…you get the drift.

I am looking forward to this, I am looking forward to choosing joy for myself….it is about damn time.

diet · Health · inspriation · running · Uncategorized

From CLL Diagnoses to Half Ironman

Many of us struggle to drink enough water in our day. We know that it is an essential need for our bodies, and it is relatively simple; yet we struggle to do it.

Living our best life and being our best self sounds great. So great in fact, the hashtags are shared repeatedly on social media platforms around the globe.

However, motivation does not come easily and is often found during the hardest trials and tribulations of life.

My Father-in-Law John was diagnosed with CLL in March of 2019. Leukemia was the last thing he expected, we were all blindsided by the news of it. I want to take a moment to appreciate the journey that has stemmed from his diagnoses.

Not long after, during a family gathering John shared a bold goal with us. He had registered for a Half Ironman! The Ironman event was going to be in May 2020 in Florida. Amid training, he ran a half marathon at the Chevron Houston Marathon event in January 2020. We were there to cheer him on, and it was an inspirational moment for myself, husband and our son.

Then COVID-19 changed life as we know it and the Ironman event was postponed to November 2020.

I was devastated for John. Training is not easy; everyone would be an Ironman and it would not be nearly as special if it were easy. It takes a certain type of person to achieve this. It takes a certain type of person to desire this!

I am proud of my Father-in-Law for not giving up. He has continued to train and is looking forward to completing the Half Ironman challenge in November 2020.

The question that keeps popping up in my head it this.

When faced with a fear greater than you know how to handle, what would you choose? Would you choose to lay back and allow the part of yourself that you are able to manage become weaker because the fight it just too hard or would you choose to fight and make that part of yourself a Half Ironman?

Admiration is an understatement! I will be one of John’s biggest cheerleaders during this! This journey is powerful, and I am here for it.

Yes, COVID-19 is frightening, but so is CANCER. The combination is terrifying. However, people simply cannot forgo their greatest desires out of fear. None of us know when our clock will stop ticking, being able to choose how you want to live while you still can is a beautiful thing. I pray that the precautions taken at the event are enough to keep John safe. I hope he has one of the greatest days of his life and feels like the fighting champion that he is.

To support the fight against CLL, please consider donating to the CLL Society in honor of John A. Nelson.


“When the day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well hang on

Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes”

R.E.M.
Uncategorized

Creative Hats DIY

Today was an amazing day. Clare came over and did the most creative craft with our kiddos and friend. They made hats and got to design them. And the best part… the kids LOVED it! They are still rocking these adorable hats. This project is too cute not to share. Here is what you need to make fabulous hats!

1. Newspaper

2. Masking Tape

3. Paint

4. Small artificial farm animals, dinosaurs and bugs!

5. Pom poms and feathers

6. Glue

7. An imagination that can take this projects in many directions.

First, you layer newspaper to get the thickness you desire. Then you drape it over your childrens heads and tape it with masking tape to create the proper fit.

Next, you roll the newspaper to form your hat.

Then, you paint your hat and allow it to dry. And finally you glue on the decorations of your choice!

Ta-da! I present the finished design! Oh… and sticky mustaches were a nice addition.

Enjoy! And share your finished project, I would love to see your little ones creations!

Clare and Lily! Lily getting fitted for her hat.
Cute hat and ice cream face!
Uncategorized

Keeping It Real: A Hard Lesson in Setting Boundaries

I have always prided myself in “Keeping it real.”  

Admitting my faults, acknowledging that I am a constant work in progress and facing the truths head on.  From time to time I must stop to evaluate my life, process what is going on and sit down and think about what goals come next and why I want to achieve them.

To keep it real, I am going to talk about my experience in drawing nearly 100 Masked Heroes, if not more. For those who do not know, I started sketching frontlines workers at the beginning of this pandemic. What started out as something incredibly simple, thoughtful and with 100% pure intent, turned into to something bigger, powerful, and something that seemed to have a real purpose. I did not realize it during the time but soon I felt I was treading water.

At the start of it all, I drew my neighbor and my sister in law, it was very personal. I knew them, I knew how their lives were changing and I watched the change that COVID_19 had on their jobs and families. I wanted to do something to turn a negative into something positive. So, I put in hours of hard work and drew them in their PPE, in beautiful colors, focusing on the emotions in the only parts that their patients could see, their eyes.

Soon, the popularity of this gesture grew and strangers and friends of friends where reaching out from all over the US. I said yes to every request to draw someone because I wanted to do something nice and I wanted to bring joy…not disappointment.

I hired a babysitter to watch my 3 small children while I enclosed myself in a spare bedroom of my brother’s house to catch up. Hiring a sitter and/or sending our kids to preschool was not an option during that time. I left my art teaching career to stay home with them and we made huge financial cuts in order to do so.

I DESPERATELY wanted to catch up but time and number of hands were not on my side.

I was drawing every minute that I had, I would stay awake after the kids went to bed.

I felt more driven than ever, and as the time went on, I wanted to make a mark in history through this artistic journey. So, I set out to self-publish a book and with the help of Carla Foster, Andrea Trninic August and several other friends and family who offered support, we did it!

Frontline workers emotions overflowed through very heartfelt stories that were sent to me at all hours, the least I could do was lose a few hours of sleep, right? I was giving them a platform; I was creating something beautiful in such a devastating time. I could not stop, I was compelled.

What I did not realize at the time was that I was heading towards a burn out.

Sadly, my lack of boundaries has led me to this exhausting place. What did I decide to do in my burned-out state you ask? Sign up for a Marathon! You read that right…I am not joking,

That is an entirely different story and blog for another day.

However, the Marathon training has led me here today. To this blog, in this moment, talking to whoever needs to hear it. TAKE CARE OF YOU AND SET BOUNDERIES!

While on my 4-mile run this morning, I listened to Rachel Hollis’ new audiobook. She discussed an area of advice she received from her therapist about setting boundaries and it was brilliant. You should totally read her books.

It was an AHA! Moment for me. As much as I did not want to admit that I was still human with a need to find balance, I am forced to admit that now.

To those of you out there I agreed to draw and have not, please know that I had the best of intentions through this entire process. I am still working when I can but cannot give all of myself to this project like I had been doing in the beginning.

I must also love on my family, help my son with virtual Kindergarten and parent our 3-year-old and 22-month-old girls.

Art and running are beautiful and significant aspects of my life, but I must maintain a balance. For me, that means letting myself off the hook and understanding that I cannot do it all. I do not enjoy using that phrase, I do not like boundaries (again, another blog could be written about that) but I am learning the necessity of them in certain areas of life. I want to enjoy the journey! It is a lot like training for a marathon, you cannot speed ahead in the beginning of the race or you are sure to burn out or get injured. You must rely on your mental strength and understanding of self to slow down and pace yourself.

I LOVE being an artist, I love being able to paint and draw and I am excited about current and future jobs. My creativity is overflowing from the roots of my mind, body and soul.

This journey has taught me that I am more capable than I ever imagined. It has taught me that I CAN stay home to raise our kids and work by doing what I love the most. It has also taught me a very valuable lesson in how to balance.

To those who have supported this journey, thank you!

You helped drive me to leave a mark for others and myself. The incredible encounters with countless heroes that I have had has been nothing short of amazing.

The Masked Heroes that I got to know are so special and so beautiful, they deserve to feel that way and still deserve all the love and support we can offer to them.

Publishing a book is something I have dreamt of doing since the fourth grade. I never imagined that it would find me in this way. I learned so much during this process. I made mistakes, not every edit was caught but I am incredibly proud.

I am reminded of something that still holds true for who I am and who I hope to always be. I strive to “Keep it real” I do not strive for perfection.

Uncategorized

The Journey to my first self published book : Masked Heroes

Our son tuned 5 years old on March 12th. That was the last day of normalcy for our family. We had a birthday party for him and spent the day with our family and friends. Soon after, COVID-19 was making headlines and life changed.
I do not do well alone. Quarantine is not easy for me; I do not normally thrive in isolation.
I am social, and somehow being social has given me some sort of validation for life.
COVID-19 brought back a wave of emotion and memories tied to the post-partum period. Having felt like I had just climbed my way out of the depths of postpartum depression and was just starting to enjoy the light at the end of that tunnel, I could not fathom how we were going to mentally adjust to this. It felt like I was taking 100 steps backwards.
I had a choice to make. Crumble or find a way to make this good.
I turned to my art and I drew a portrait of a nurse on my sidewalk as a thank you to all the frontline workers. It was well received, and I felt the need and desire to do more.
I drew portraits for those I love dearly, working hard on the frontlines in unknown territory. I gifted them a portrait of themselves in their PPE to commemorate this time in their careers. Soon, many requests flooded my inbox and before I knew it I was spending multiple hours a day drawing what I call Superheroes.
In the beginning stages, it was extra hard to do this while parenting our children. They are used to being the center of my world and would hide my pencils or sneak some paint to create their own creations as I created mine. Over time, they got used to “mommy doing work for superheroes” and joined a long side me with coloring pages of their own or engaged in some self-play time.
One day, a former colleague messaged me and told me that I had my book.
It dawned on me that she was right. I have been trying to write and illustrate a book since 4th grade. Little did I know, it would take a pandemic for it to find me.
I am honored to share this book with you all. I poured so much of my heart and soul into it to honor these heroes and give their stories a platform. To remind people that art can change the world and bring joy in our darkest hours.
A portion of the sales of this book will be donated to the Brave of Heart Fund. It is a fund that provides for the families of frontline workers who lost their lives to COVID-19.

If you would like to read these compelling stories and support my artistic journey. My book is for sale on Book Baby, link included below. OnePageBookCoverImage

<a href="http://” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Masked Heroes

Health · Uncategorized

The Correlation between Physical Activity and Mental Health: The Mind Body Connection

Perspective is a complex thing. It changes with our personal gain of wisdom through growth and experience. The season in which I was most awakened and transformed spiritually, was during my first pregnancy. I feared the unknown journey that I was going into. The lack of control that I had over what my body was going through caused a tremendous amount of anxiety. During this time, I relied more on faith than I had ever needed to throughout my entire life.
My body was growing another human being who carried a soul within them, this was and is far beyond my own comprehension. This phenomenon awakened me; I began to know what it was like to believe in the unseen. I gained much more than a child during my first pregnancy, I gained faith.
This was a direct occurrence of a correlation between what was going on with my physical being and what was happening in my mind.
It has been nearly 5 years since the birth of our son. It was not an easy birth; it was quite terrifying in hindsight. However, the faith that was gained throughout my pregnancy caused me to remain calm during one of my most difficult times.
I have noticed a pattern with this throughout the years, and it has been on my mind a great deal in the past few days.
As a child I was very athletic. I was far from being the best athlete and am not claiming to be, that is not the point at all here. My point is that I had a physical outlet for most of life’s debacles starting at a very young age. Some might assume that I didn’t experience complicatedness or destruction in my youth, you’d be surprised. When life got tough, I didn’t have much time to dwell on those events. I was heading to softball, swim practice or cheer in my elementary years. When I had a hard day at school or at home during my pubescent years, I had a physical outlet during volleyball practice, track practice and after school tumbling.
I had never gone without a physical outlet in my entire life and for the most part, I had kept a pretty good head upon my shoulders.
During high school, a tidal wave of insecurities crept in and created a broken girl with a lack of ambition towards anything that I could be rejected from in front of a large crowd. I did not really lose interest in the things I had always loved; I became fearful of them. I feared I wasn’t good enough, so I quit before I could ever try and fail.
Looking back, I now know that I needed those physical outlets so much. It dawned on me that bleakness has taken over when I have allowed the physical outlets to escape me. I wish I had realized this correlation sooner, maybe I would have handled the difficult times with a little more grace.
I hope that I can convey the lessons learned and the wisdom gained to my own children. I hope they will find a physical activity of some sort to grasp onto in life. While creative expression is important and I believe in the therapy that is found throughout artistic expression, I think that the exercise one gets from a sport is different and should not be compared. Exercise promotes a chemical change in a persons brain by the release of endorphins. These endorphins create a change in one’s overall happiness and confidence.

These attributes are huge in the life of a teenager and often lost in their most useful years.

Thankfully, in fighting my own battles, I have found strength and confidence by getting back in touch with my athletic self. I encourage everyone to give a little exercise a try, it can improve your life drastically.

Uncategorized

She’s Just PMS-ing

I’m going to preach a little about something here today. Today I am going to discuss battles with depression; a subject which I feel strongly about. I going to discuss PMDD and what that might look like for some preteens, teens and women and I’m going to discuss just how much awareness of these disorders can change your life or someone you knows life for the better.

PMDD stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Many women experience some sort of emotional shift prior to their periods that is directly linked to the hormonal changes occurring in their bodies. PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. This syndrome causes actual physical changes in a women’s body such as bloating, fatigue, cramping and more. PMDD causes all of the above plus severe emotional responses such as depression, anxiety and fainting just to name a few. It is believed that the hormonal changes occurring in a women’s body at the time, cause a shift in the level of serotonin production in her brain. Serotonin controls a multitude of functions such as mood, pain tolerance, sleeping patterns and appetite. PMDD typically occurs a week or so before a women starts her period and can last a few days into it. In my experience, the day before your cycle and the first day of it are often the worse.

If you are suffering from this disorder, your entire life will be effected by it. The way you react towards everyday occurrences changes. The way you feel towards people changes. The way you feel that you are perceived by others changes. Your level of confidence changes and so on.  Depression often takes over and it becomes easy to sink into and incredibly difficult to swim out of. Its like trying to swim out of quicksand, you fight and fight for air but it just feels too hard and often you feel like giving up. Fighting depression is so hard, its lonely and you feel like you are in a constant state of heartbreak. Its hard to remind yourself of the good times waiting for you around the corner of this. It is hard to fight with the knowledge that once you win this battle, it isn’t over…you will most likely go through this again and have to continue fighting this battle .

That’s the thing about depression, those fighting the battle have to make the choice to fight everyday. 

Many preteens, teenagers and women go through this monthly. The sad thing is, they have no idea why. Many assume they are going crazy and some may be fortunate enough to have the care and funds to seek therapy.  Sadly, many lack the self awareness to be able to describe what is happening to them and are prescribed medications that are not meant to treat this form of depression. Hello drug epidemic in America. Even worse, many begin to self medicate.

I believe that it is incredibly important to educate our youth on these symptoms and  disorders. Both female and male. I have heard the phrase, “She must be PMSing” too often out of the mouths of teenage boys and some grown men. Let me remind you, I taught high school for 5 years.  I witnessed far too many young girls sobbing in the hallways and dealing with emotions and symptoms that they had zero understanding of.

As mothers, and women who have possibly gone through this ourselves, it is time to wake up and acknowledge the realness of what our bodies go through. Hormones are real, and real life pain and devastation can stem from them.

I can recall a manager that I used to work under going through a divorce. I remember her telling me that she couldn’t stand her husband and felt like she was no longer in love with him every month before her period would start. She became very unhappy and blamed her marriage for that. She noticed a pattern but I don’t think she understood it or sought help and sadly it did lead to her divorce. I don’t claim to have any medical knowledge beyond my own experiences but if this was linked to PMS or PMDD, how sad. How sad that she didn’t have the knowledge or courage to seek the help she needed. How sad that her life had to suffer in such a way.

I am thankful that I mentioned my symptoms to a Nurse Practitioner in my early 20’s who had enough experience to help me. After 5 plus years of battling this as a teenager and having no idea what was wrong with me, she offered so much clarity and resolution.

I also understand that there are many forms of depression. I am not claiming that all young girls and women who experience depression have PMS of PMDD. I am simply expressing that it should be looked at. I am suggesting that you keep a log for your teenagers or even yourself and note behaviors on a calendar and see if you notice a pattern. I am suggesting that you help them understand something about their own bodies that they may not know about.

I was thinking about the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington the other day. I was reflecting on the hollowness I was feeling and the hurt that felt debilitating at the time. I knew I was experiencing symptoms from PMDD and I knew this this is just something that I have to fight through. I know that life is amazing most of the time and that some days of the month are just harder than others. I thought about the countless songs written and sung by Chester that lifted me up and got me through some of the most challenging times in my life. It breaks my heart that he lost the fight against depression. It truly breaks my heart like no other to have someone you admire so much, someone who gets you through your own depression….lose the battle.

Depression does not have a face or a gender. It is a very real sickness that claims the lives of many. I wish I had an explanation for why young men experience this too. Maybe they have hormonal shifts that cause similar symptoms. I simply do not know those answers. But I do have a son who I want to protect. I lost someone I once loved to suicide and I lost a former male student of mine to suicide. It is very personal, and I would love to gain as much knowledge on the subject as possible.

So parents out there, please educate yourselves and give yourselves the very best shot at being able to help out the ones you love the most.

 

Uncategorized

Women Supporting Women

Women who support other women, you are amazing.

Women who encourage other women, your encouragement speaks volumes about your character.

Women who love another women’s children like their own, you are so special.

Women who support other women’s journey to good health even when that means babysitting, you are seriously a gift from God.

Women who create tribes for women to share, support and just be there for one another, you are truly spectacular.

If you are blessed to have women like these in your life, please let them know.

Because women who support women are everything to a woman who needs it.