Morning Musing

I know that I need to write more, but I’ve ignored the urge so much that when I sit down to finally do it, my mind goes blank. And then I allow myself to become distracted until I don’t have time to do any actual writing. Needless to say, the books I have floating around in my head are still unwritten. In fact, there’s quite a bit floating around up there in my dreams that I plan to get to… some day. (More than I care to admit, actually.)

But what about TODAY?

Most days, I’ll convince myself that I can’t. That I don’t have enough time, money, experience, clout… I’ll find ways to keep busy and justify my lack of progress. I’ll say I can do it tomorrow, that it’s not important enough for today, that something else needs my attention more – the kids, the house, the finances… you know, real life. Or I’ll once again fall victim to my triggers and lose hours out of my day as I process.

But the truth is, until I make writing a priority – it won’t be. Until I decide to stop letting those negative voices and excuses impede my success, they won’t. Until I accept that my needs are real, my dreams are important, and my desires are okay, I’ll never fully heal and enjoy my life.

So TODAY, I am going to do life different! Today I am going to tell myself that I CAN and I WILL. Today I am going to make time, earn money, gain experience, give attention. I’m going to allow myself to let go of my perfectionism and enjoy my day. Today, I am going to write.

Welcome to my Morning Musings! 

You Were Mine, Angel Baby

02.14.2015

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate Love. Oh, how I love Love.

How I love the simple sweetness of spoiling my children with forbidden chocolate donuts at breakfast. I love helping them trace and cut and paste red paper hearts covered in silver glitter that you know I will be finding everywhere for the next week. I love the gleam in their eyes as they turn clumps of cold dough into warm, gooey chocolate goodness. And, oh, how I love the joy in their giggles when I tickle and chase them as we play. Yet, today, amidst all the love, my heart is sad.

Today my heart grieves the loss of a life that wasn’t meant to be.

Just over 5 weeks ago we discovered we were expecting what would have been our fourth child. Excited at our news, I eagerly created this announcement and sent it to our family and closest friends.

Aren't they precious?

Aren’t they precious?

I knew it was against tradition to announce my pregnancy so early. In fact, with our first 3 children we didn’t let the world in on our secret until we were clear of the first trimester. But this time, somewhere deep inside me, I felt this urgency to share our happy news with our tribe immediately. I rationalized that the reason most people refrain from spilling the beans so early is “just in case” something were to go wrong with the pregnancy. The way I saw it, if something did go wrong, I would need as much support as I could get. Funny, how the universe works.

Last week, at my first ultrasound, I learned that something had in fact gone wrong. I was measuring at only 6 weeks when I should have been (according to my meticulous calculations) over 9 weeks along. And while my gestational sac was fully formed, it was missing a crucial component – an embryo.

When the ultrasound technician first shares this information with me, I’m confused. I tell her I don’t understand what she’s saying. I’m not pregnant? But I took a test and it was positive. My period is late and there have been other signs, too. Sure, my morning sickness has paled in comparison to the first three, but I’m still getting it. This just doesn’t make sense.

The tech glides the wand over my bare belly…top to bottom, side to side, spreading the warm goopy gel over my abdomen as she shows me an empty oval on the monitor. Nothing’s there. There’s no white blob on the screen. No flicker of a heartbeat that should have been there weeks ago. Nothing but a big empty black hole. I was pregnant, alright, but there was no baby.

As the realization of what this means hits me, a single tear runs down my face. “Don’t cry just yet, dear, perhaps your dates are just off,” the well-meaning technician assures me. I feel the heat flush over my face as she finishes my exam and wipes my tummy dry. My dates are not off, I think to myself as I feel myself grow numb. This baby had not been an accident. This pregnancy did not happen by chance. Together, my husband and I had discussed this baby and planned its conception and we were excited to complete our family. That’s how I knew we were expecting before I even missed a period or felt that familiar sourness in the pit of my stomach.

You see, ever since the birth of our third child, I have felt as though I’m missing a child. I know it sounds strange and it’s rather difficult to explain, but it’s a feeling I’ve had since the day I brought her home – that our family is not yet complete. I remember sitting at the kitchen table that first week and having to re-count how many kids were seated with me about 3 or 4 times. I kept feeling like I was short one child and even imagined I heard a fourth one crying in another room on more than one occasion. (Now, before you start questioning my sanity, I’m well aware that these hallucinations were purely figments of my mind and more likely than not, the result of sleep deprivation. After all, I did have a newborn and 2 other children under the age of 3!) So I confided my feelings in my husband and after considering our children’s present ages and our future life plans, we decided that now was the time to have our last baby. I watched the calendar, I charted my cycle and I even kept track of our love-making for a spell. That’s how I knew.

I knew that my dates were not wrong. I knew that when I returned to the doctor’s office the following week, the technician would not find anything new.

I knew that we were going to lose this baby.

I knew as I sat in that little waiting room, waiting for the ultrasound technician to give my doctor her report. I knew as nurses walking past stopped to hand me a tissue or try to offer their assistance. I knew as a doctor that was not my own pulled me aside, told me my results were “not promising” and advised me to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I knew as they scheduled my follow-up appointment and as they drew my blood to check my hormone levels. I knew I had to tell my husband; that he was going to be sad and disappointed. I knew there were others to tell after that, including my son whose face had lit with joy at the news of our impending new arrival. All of this, I knew, and so I wept.

I wept for days as I waited in suspense for my next ultrasound. My mind began to toy with me again and signs of postpartum began to show once more. I felt as though the impending miscarriage was my fault. That I caused it; that I could have prevented it. I felt like a failure for losing the life that was beginning to grow inside me. I felt as though I didn’t deserve another baby; that I was being punished for being a bad mother. I felt angry. Sad. Hopeless. Confused. Angry. “It’s not fair!” I pouted to myself. And the tears began to flood again.

{To be continued…}

A New View on Nutrition – Week 27

                A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I still don’t have a clue what foods I “should” be eating in order to be healthy. Yes, I know fruits and vegetables… but, to be honest, I don’t really like all that many. Yet, I insisted that I needed to change my diet in order to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Knowing that I need to eat healthy but not being sure exactly what “healthy” means for me, I thought about what I hope to achieve by changing my eating habits. I decided that what I really want to work on are all the symptoms that prompted me to begin this Holistic Challenge in the first place. So I began researching which foods and other natural methods are recommended for each of my particular complaints. I am hoping that combined with trying some other natural suggestions, changing my eating habits will begin to have a positive effect and relieve or ease the following symptoms:

            • Migraines
            • Anxiety/Depression
            • Acne
            • Unwanted hair growth
            • Stained teeth, unhealthy gums
            • Eczema and dry skin, frizzy hair
            • Stomach/GI issues (constipation, diarrhea, irregularity)
            • Anger/irritability/mood swings
            • Pregnancy symptoms – nausea, heartburn
            • Back pain
            • Fatigue, lack of energy
            • Poor appetite and sleep quality
            • Low libido
            • Low attention span

(Yes, I know we’re getting pretty personal here… but c’mon, we’re all human. And really, isn’t that the fun of an online journal anyway – talking about all the nitty gritty details of life with a certain degree of anonymity?)

I started by looking up which foods were best to consume for folks dealing with the above listed symptoms.

Chronic Headaches/Migraines

[  Water

Alternatives*: unsweetened herbal tea or decaf coffee and fat-free or 1% milk
Water rich foods: watermelon, berries, cucumber, melon, soups, oatmeal, tomatoes* and lettuce

[  Salmon

[  Eggs*

[  Olive and canola oils

[  Lean beef*

[  Whole grain fortified cereal

[  Mushrooms

[  Broccoli

[  Spinach

[  Sweet potatoes

[  White potatoes

[  Swiss chard

[  Fresh amaranth

[  Quinoa

[  Almonds*

[  Sunflower seeds, other seeds and legumes

[  Bananas*

[  Avocados

[  Dried apricots

[  Brown rice

[  Whole grains

[  Plain fat-free Greek yogurt*

[  Sesame seeds

*Conflicting opinions argue some foods, such as these, may actually trigger headaches instead of relieving them.

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Practice stress management and relaxation techniques

[  Get plenty of sleep

[  Exercise and stretch daily

[  Pay attention to your body’s alignment (while working, standing, sleeping, etc)

[  Explore manipulative therapies (chiropractor, acupuncture, Reiki, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, a personal trainer, etc)

[  Avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy, sugar and processed foods.

[  Stay hydrated.

Depression/Anxiety

[  Water

[  Whole grains & seaweed

[  Potatoes

[  Blueberries

[  Acai berries

[  Almonds

[  Pure dark chocolate

[  Maca root (powder)

[  Cheese

[  Peanut butter

[  Nuts

[  Sesame seeds  

[  Oats

[  Milk

[  Poultry

[  Bananas

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Herbal supplements such as kava and passionflower

[  Avoid processed foods, refined grain, sugar, caffeine and alcohol

[  Meditate

[  Exercise

Acne

[  Water

[  Salmon, mackerel and sardines

[  Walnuts, beans, flaxseed oil

[  Nuts

[  Avocado

[  Red grapes

[  Fennel

[  Artichoke

[  Brown rice

[  Garlic

[  Broccoli

[  Alfalfa sprouts

[  Green and herbal tea (burdock root, dandelion greens, milk thistle and red clover)

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Practice relaxation and stress management techniques

[  Stay hydrated

[  May need to avoid dairy

[  Supplement** with apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice

[  Green food supplements** (chlorophyll, spirulina and barley greens)

[  Tea tree or jojoba oil and/or oil cleansing

[  Baking soda, milk of magnesia, aloe applied to skin

[  Herbal steam facial

**Always consult with your health practitioner before using herbs and supplements. 

Unwanted hair growth (Hirsutism)

[  Black cohosh**

[  Saw palmetto**

[  Spearmint and green tea

[  Romaine lettuce

[  Onions

[  Tomatoes

[  Whole grains

[  Potatoes

[  Cinnamon

[  Crimini mushrooms

[  Apricots

[  Sunflower seeds

[  Licorice root

[  Wheat germ

[  Tuna

[  Barley

[  Skinless Chicken

**Always consult with your health practitioner before using herbs and supplements. 

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Plucking

[  Shaving

[  Body Sugaring (Natural Wax)

[  Threading

[  Avoid dairy

Stained teeth, unhealthy gums

[  Pineapples

[  Ginger

[  Carrots

[  Basil

[  Cheese

[  Sesame seeds

[  Skitaki mushrooms

[  Onions

[  Salmon

[  Broccoli

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Avoid coffee, tea & colas

Eczema and dry skin, frizzy hair

[  Salmon

[  Watercress

[  Apples

[  Sweet potatoes

[  Fish roe

[  Carrots

[  Turmeric

[  Red wine

[  Broccoli

[  Red grapes

[  Cherries

[  Citrus fruits

[  Raspberries

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Eliminate food allergens from your diet (can include dairy, corn, eggs, shellfish, wheat (gluten), citrus fruit & food additives and preservatives)

Stomach/GI issues (constipation, diarrhea, irregularity)

[  Water

[  Oat bran

[  Cabbage juice

[  Carrots

[  Lettuce

[  Pears

[  Yogurt

[  Fennel seeds

[  Flaxseed

[  Peppermint

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Eat smaller meals

[  Eat slowly

[  Exercise

[  Practice deep breathing & relaxation techniques

[  Take a hot bath or apply a heating pad or hot compress

[  Drink between meals instead of with them

With each new symptom I researched, I started to realize what this “holistic” journey actually is — an active and conscious process of changing each and every aspect of the way I live. This is more than changing what or how I eat, sleep and work out. It is developing an awareness of the self down to the very core. Physically, this means learning how my body works; it’s discovering what is lacking, where I am overindulging and how to use my strengths to my advantage. I am not any particular symptom; I am a whole person: a body, a mind and a spirit unified. This means there is no special food or fitness routine or relaxation technique that is going to help me with any individual symptom. No. Instead, I need to pay attention to what is going on with me as an entire being and then respond accordingly. Looking up these foods is great, but looking into why they are good for me is even better. I soon began to notice a link between the foods that were being recommended and their particular nutrients and vitamins. I also noted a pattern in the additional suggestions being mentioned for each symptom. Relaxation techniques, yoga and meditation, focusing on hobbies and positivity were all recommended. And one word in particular kept repeating in my search results: stress. While I recognized that I was picking up on a pattern, what I didn’t realize was that I was about to stumble upon a whole new part of my holistic journey…

DISCLAIMER: For informational purposes only. Always consult your health professional before making any lifestyle changes. 

Sources

And then Life Happens – Week 17

Time is absolutely flying past me. It seems as though we brought our baby girl home just a few weeks ago, when in fact she is 9 months old already! On top of our normally hectic days, our family has also been occupied with several ongoing projects around the house, including a garage sale that was a couple of years overdue. In addition, we have dealt with a plethora of life’s lemons, ranging from a family emergency that required an out-of-state trip, to botched vacation plans, to hosting out of town company for a week at the spur of the moment with time, space, and a budget that was already limited. And just when we thought our hands couldn’t possibly get any more full, we discovered we are (unexpectedly) expecting our third child this December.

{{{Insert anxiety/depression/panic attack/meltdown here.}}}

Even with the little bit of progress I had started making on this self-imposed journey of mine, the whirlwind of life’s challenges got to me. As much as I love my children and despite how much I craved, planned, hoped and dreamed of becoming a wife and mother, I never expected to have more than 1 or 2. The weight of the responsibility, the financial stress, the dramatic change to our current life plans, the stress of caring for another little person all day, everyday…Learning that I was pregnant again hit me so hard it plumb knocked the wind right out of me. I fell down into the ditch I have become accustomed to lying in when I let the world get the best of me. It’s the ditch I built as a little girl that I use to protect myself when I’m hurt or fearful. When I’m in the ditch, I’m numb – disconnected from most everything around me. I surround myself with fire to stop others from getting in, a fire fueled by my anger, rage and meanness. I let my sadness bury me. I become immobile, barely able to function. I feel hopeless and lose sight of everything I’ve overcome in my past and everything positive I use to see in my future. Until I stop fighting and start getting real.

Sometimes, when you dig into the dark corners of your soul you find things hidden there that you don’t want to see. Things that have been buried for years, pushed out of your consciousness, perhaps even locked away from your memories. It’s hard to imagine these things can have much of an influence on your present day life, but they do. I’m realizing now that in order to truly achieve the life I dream of, I need to face my dark corners head on instead of pretending they don’t exist.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I typically would see this fall off the horse as a failure. But I know that I am not a failure and that life is a journey and not a destination. I’m taking things day by day and giving myself credit where credit is due. I’m slowly pulling myself back out of the ditch, dusting myself off and putting one foot in front of the other. I’m shining light on my dark corners and learning to deal with what I find there. I know it’s going to continue to be difficult, but I also know that if I genuinely want a better life, it’s up to me to make it happen.  

How do you handle life’s lemons and keep the world from getting the best of you? 

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself. 

~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin

If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time. 

~Edith Wharton

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad. 

~Norm Papernick

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. 

~James Openheim

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at him.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.

An affirmation:
The healing power of God is working in me right now. Every day I get better and better in every way.

Complain and remain. Praise and be raised.

Challenges make life interesting. Overcoming them makes it meaningful.

– Joyce Meyer

From SpongeBob to Making Dreams

I’ve been a fan of SpongeBob for about 12 years now; yet, if anyone had ever asked me why I was so interested in the show, I would not have been able to give them an answer. Slapstick comedy is not one of my favorites. And I’ll admit I find myself rolling my eyes about as often as I find myself chuckling when I watch that yellow sea critter. Still, there’s something about this darn cartoon that keeps reeling me in. The other day while I kicked back in bed and watched an episode with my son, I figured out what the allure is for me. SpongeBob is my inner child.

This often annoyingly positive and bubbly character is bursting with a zest for life that I sometimes feel zip through my own veins. He is naive to the point that he has almost created his own indestructible little world where he and those he loves always pull through, no matter how crazy the situation. Isn’t that essentially what we all want… a place to call home where we feel safe and content, knowing our family is strong enough to handle anything?

Lately, I’ve been questioning how best to achieve our American Dream. I’m learning that the only way it’s going to happen is if we sit down and make it happen. It’s going to require developing a clear vision what we want, what really matters to us and what we would rather do without. Then we need to come up with a plan that will reach those goals. Finally, we need to make it happen and put that plan into action.

This seems simple enough, until I sat down and realized my vision is not as clear as I thought it was. I have an idea of what I would like to achieve out of life but sometimes it seems as though I have all the pieces to the puzzle but haven’t figured out how to fit them all together to make the pretty picture. Worse yet, the picture on the front of the box is so tiny that it’s really not much help.

Hence, American Dream Maker was born! This is a place where I can lay out all the pieces as I work on the next chapter of my life: being a wife, a mother, a productive American citizen. It’s a place to help that vision grow – a place to make my American Dream.