Thursday, May 24, 2018

Losing Your Identity in Motherhood

Before we had kids I was a wife, a teacher, and me.  I knew who I was, where I was, and where I was headed.  I also knew that one day, we wanted to grow our family. 


When you bring kids into the picture things change within you.  Maybe you don't notice it right away, but at some point, to some, it feels like we loose ourselves, our identity of who we are.  Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not.
When you have a clear perspective and knowledge of your purpose, gifts, strengths it helps.  But after so many sleepless nights, all the diaper changes, loads of laundry, and more it seems that all too often we just become so in so's mom.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I like being a mom.  It is what I wanted.  What I didn't realize was that for a period of time, I would loose sight of who I am.

We give and give until the day is done, often little to no time for ourselves.  At what point does filling up everyone around you begin to leave you drained?  You can't fill from an empty cup as the saying goes.  If you are always on empty, how can you continually fill everyone else?  Truthfully, you can't.  You do your best and just carry on.  But at some point you need to stop, slow down, and refuel.

It is through the filling up everyone else around and forgetting about yourself that we begin to loose some of who we are.  What are your passions?  What are you dreams?  What fuels you up?  What do you need?  Who are you as a person?

These are just some questions that have run through my mind over the years.  You see, I have always wondered what my strengths are, what are my hobbies, if I didn't teach what would I do, and the questions just keep going.  Rolling around in my mind.

I had lost my sense of me, who I was.  All to often, I would be the person that those around me wanted me to be (or I perceived they wanted).  Hiding me, placing a facade on.  And when becoming a mom, I began to wonder more who I was.  Why?  Because so many times I would start talking with other moms and they would introduce themselves as a (fill in the blank) mom: crunchy mom, helicopter mom, and the list goes on.  I began to compare myself, my parenting, where I was at to those around me.  Comparing my inside, to their outside while trying to find and build connections, friendships with others - for my kids and for myself.

Through it all I began to lay aside the things that really made me who I was and I missed doing.  Like photography, being creative, writing.  As time has gone by, I was beginning to realize that I was not the mom I wanted to be.  Too much yelling in the house, too much overwhelm trying to get to do lists done, too much trying to fill the schedule busy because I saw that worked for others, too much just hoping and waiting for the next nap time the next bedtime, too much loss (in my mind) of self worth and value.

As I began to feel less value, my impatience and frustration grew.  Always exhausted from keeping up with two kids and changing seasons in parenthood, lack of quality sleep, feeling like I had an every mounting to do list,  carrying the weight of my many emotions and those around me (especially my kids) I began to feel depleted in all areas of life.  And it started to show.

I knew something needed to change and it had to start with me.  So I decided to take an Abundant Mama Project course.  It had been on my bucket list since I started following Shawn through Facebook and her blog.  But I had always kept putting it off and finding excuses.  In February when I hit my breaking point of needing to change something, this course came back into mind.  At the time when I signed up, there was also a bonus trial couple of months in the Peace Circle that she created to continue the work from the Abundant Mama course.

Each day I was emailed that day's lesson and activity to work on.  I will admit, some days I didn't get the work done, but that was okay because at some point I would catch up and continue to work through it.  After completing it, the work continued in the Peace Circle where the year has an overall theme to it, as well as a monthly theme.  Abundant Mama had me digging in and opening up, but I knew that I needed to go deeper, open up more.  So I have been a part of Peace Circle for two months at this point.

Things have began to fall into place, I am more ease and flow in the day.  I can be more flexible and bendy.  I am taking who I am and incorporating it into my day to day, finding dreams, and still going on adventures.  I am able to refuel and help refuel those around me, especially my family.  I can teach and still be a mom.  I can do my writing, my photography, my creative projects and help my kids grow their passions to as they see me grown mine.  I can treat myself and my health as a priority, and keep the kids health a priority.  I can find a better balance in my day, so that I can help create a better balance and flow in our days.

Sure, I am still working on it.  Just like knowledge, we are never done learning.  But I also know I can take a solid step forward, knowing who I am and who I am is okay.

If you are interested in the Abundant Mama Project course, you can find out more about it here: https://www.abundantmama.com/abundant-mama-project/

Just know that it is home study now.  So, you get all the lessons at once to work through, instead of it being emailed to you daily.  It is still worth the investment in you.  Like it says, motherhood can be overwhelming.  But you can find a good solid footing to start where you are, move forward, and always have a spot to come back to if needed to reset.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Combining the Love of the Norht Shore With a Rock Collection



My kids love rocks. Rocks to climb on, rocks to hold, rocks to load, rocks to save, rocks to try to skip across the water.  Any size, color, shape.  It doesn't matter, they love rocks and our collection in the house keeps growing.

My oldest has random rocks he has collected on a shelf in his room that generally sit there.  But every now and then he pulls down his favorites to look at them or place in it's own spot in a different area of his room.  He has such a fascination for rocks.

My youngest has some he has collected.  One he calls his turtle rock because it reminds him of a turtle shell and a penguin because well, it is shaped like a penguin.  He generally picks up a rock and either plays with it outside or brings one into the house every now and then.

Both kids have jars from a trip last Summer of rocks they collected along Lake Huron.  I have rocks set out near the kitchen sink and in my room that were given as gifts to me from oldest.

On a recent trip to the North Shore we walked along one of the beaches in hopes of finding some neat rocks, maybe some sea glass, and just be closer to the water.  My oldest enjoyed looking at rocks, tossing them into the lake and trying his hand at creating his own rock stack.  He kept a few that he like most.  My youngest just picked some as he went along and filled a bag until I said enough, tossing rocks in the water, and touching the water.  I gathered some because they look unusual or like ones I hadn't seen before, and also looked for rocks to create a couple of dragonfly projects.

So now, we are left with a bunch of rocks.  Some smaller we have decided to polish up and see what happens.  But the bigger ones and the rest of the little, what to do?  We decided on the ones too small from the kids' collections to get a cool jar to hold them for in their rooms.  The bigger ones we used to make rock stacks.  Each kiddo has one and I have a couple too.

We placed the kids' rocks outside to see when we come and leave, mine are in our bathroom.  It is a fun way to connect the love of rocks, the North Shore, our memories from the trip, and our day to day.


It is a quick and easy project to put together too.  All I did was use hot glue to hold them together.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Seasons Change, I Changed, & Reminders From a 5 Year Old

So as February began to come to close I started realizing some things.

My attitude and mood most days was landing me promptly on my butt in the land of bitter and sour.  When my wake up started out there, it was hard to climb out of that.  Most days I was hovering near that close edge, that line of in-between.  The one where even the simplest thing could make thoughts and attitudes sway way to quickly. 

I have come to understand that I do not like all aspects that come with motherhood.  I do love my kids and what they bring to our family and my life.  But there are just some aspects I don't like.  I had been under the impression for too long that by not liking the aspects meant that I was not good a being a mom. 

I have been given this job, this job of of being a mom.  Just like with other areas of life, we like certain things and we dislike other things.  This is a part of who we are.  And just because we may not like a part of something of the bigger picture, doesn't mean a whole we love it any less.

I knew some things needed to change and those changes first had to start with me.  I tend to get too inside my head and loose sight of what is in front of me.  I tell myself something over and over, it becomes so real to me, but in the grand scheme of things, it is just not the case.

I am my own worse critic.  Truly, I am.  I see all the mistakes, failures, expectations not met, dreams fall flat, and so on.  Sometimes those things, well those things become my inner voice...good or bad, that is what seems to happen.  And then I compare me to what I see on the outside of others around me.

I have lost sight of me...Liz.  I have lost sight of Liz.  My purpose, my value, my worth.  Who I am, where I am supposed to, is it all enough, am I enough, what are my strengths (yes, I know there are weaknesses too, but I tend to focus all to much on those lately.). 

Most days I feel like I can't even put two thoughts together let along get two words into a conversation before something pulls my attention away.  I haven't gotten my fingers to the keys to write often.  I get ideas of what to write or post about, but by the time I can actually get to it, the moment has passed and it seems to late.  Even then, I sometimes still go back and try to play catch up on ideas and posts because it doesn't feel right to let them blow away in the wind.

I add on stress load after stress load onto myself.  And then it becomes that everything feels like a stress load.  Oh, and if I have to lay something down I feel so much guilt from it.

Add in the seemingly long Winter weather already and the need for green and warm breezes.

All these things have added up.  I knew it was time to take a step in a different direction and really begin to dig down deep.  Dig deep and begin to release.  Not an easy task sometimes.

But with the help of taking the Abundant Mama Program, I began to build a toolbox to help me work through all this and more.  The course was three weeks long.  I will tell you that it is just what I needed to help reset my direction, perspective, and it has given me so much more.

I am going to begin to share about it all, along with hopefully much more in other areas of life from creative projects, adventures, day to day life, and whatever else this new season brings.

My son helped me remember the other day that there are some things we are good at and some things we aren't.  We are always learning, no matter our age.  We need to keep trying and despite the hard things and the mistakes, we can still focus on the good parts too.

All this from a 5 year old.  Sometimes, we just need to have a long talk with a kiddo to be reminded of the important things. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ X


 Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • I will be honest, I was not able to come up with a place to visit that started with the letter X.  But maybe near you there is a fun adventure place waiting for you to try out.
Art
  • X-Ray
    • Trace your kiddo's arm and hand onto black paper
    • Glue on q tips on the fingers and wrist area
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ Y


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Yard~ go play outside in the yard.  I know, it sounds simple, but we are finally getting snow away and we can play more longer outside in the warm sun and not be in snow.
Art
  • Yellow Collage
    • My oldest's favorite color is yellow, so we collected yellow things and added them to a paper.
    • You could cut out a y letter shape and glue on to the letter
    • Or you could put the items in between two pieces of contact paper, squish it together, hang up in the window for a stain glass.
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ V


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Vacation!  I add this because even if it's a stay-cation, you can still create a mini vacation.  I also know that it's Spring Break time and people are traveling more.
    • Visit someplace new
Art
  • Volcano
    • Cut out brown bottom part of volcano from paper
    • Add lava colors out the top and down the sides...for added fun, use glue and add glitter or glitter glue
    • Using cotton balls blue above to look like cloud of smoke
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ W


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Walks ~ finally getting into more Spring like weather, so we are going on more walks again
Art
  • Watermelon
    • Using have a sheet of paper, draw outlines of a giant watermelon slice
    • Let the kiddos color it in, add seeds by cutting out seed shapes from black paper
You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Letter of the Week ~ F


Recognize upper and lower case letter
  • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
Activity
  • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
  • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
Adventure
  • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
    • Farm
    • Forests
    • Fort Building
Art
  • Flower Gardens
    • Give a blank piece of paper and have the kiddos draw a flower garden
    • Make flowers using coffee filters and using pipe cleaners for the stems
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.

    Thursday, April 5, 2018

    A Change, A Catalyst, A Step Forward

     
    7 years ago I found myself at a spot that I never thought I would be.  We wanted to start a family.  I found out just before Christmas 2010 that I was pregnant.  At the end of January we lost our daughter, 17 weeks into the pregnancy. 

    No sooner had we found out and started dreaming on being a family of three, names, nursery stuff, went maternity shopping with my mom, even received a few baby items at Christmas, found out we were due within one day of my brother and sister in law...we found no heart beat and the doctor told me our baby had expired.

    Those words, that day, will forever will be imprinted in my mind, in my heart.  So will the following Friday, my birthday.  For every birthday card I opened, I opened a sympathy card.  The next day, we had a service and burial for our daughter.

    I turned to writing.  Just in a journal, but it was my outlet, my way of trying to work through all that was happening.  From that came My Infant Loss.  A site I created filled with resources I found helpful throughout my journey and my writings on the blog part.

    From it all, Samantha has been a catalyst for many things.  Samantha's Dragonfly was created from it and has since been passed onto 100s of other people.  She taught me a lot about life, a lot about death, a lot about my husband, my marriage, friendship, and myself. 

    As time went by, I wrote less and less on the site.  Then, I got pregnant again and had our first son in 2013.  After that, I didn't go back to the site and moved my writings over to here, My Mama Side.  It seemed to a better fit for the direction my path was heading.

    Some of what I learned had gotten placed far back after having one son and even more so after having our second son.  After my second son I faced high anxiety and post-partum depression.  My doctor (not the one we had when we were pregnant with Samantha) said it was no wonder.  With all that we had been through with pregnancies, c-sections, being a mom of two little kiddos, and all the other twists and turns life sends your way, it all made sense to her.  She said it was okay.

    Even up until more recent, I haven't felt much myself.  The one I knew deep down.  Always hard on myself and it starting to rub off on those around me.  I was frustrated with myself and impatient, so I began to get impatient with those around me as well.  The constant louder volume led to more raised voices and yelling at times.  Any little trip up I felt I faced led me to eating my emotions and inner self negative talk, never feeling good enough. 

    I have tried many things since the Fall.  Attempting to take the things I make creatively and sell them, even creating websites and Facebook pages to go with them.  Starting a group on Facebook for other moms and us to build connections through meeting up a different places around the city.  Reading books on specific topics in relation to what I was thinking and feeling.  Trying to figure out other's perception of me to figure out myself better.  Spending money when I probably shouldn't have.  Stepping out and joining a focus group of a favorite author of mine.  Being a part of a book launch team.

    If I am to be honest....it all has flopped.  I closed down those businesses I tried to get going.  I closed down the mom's group on Facebook after repeatedly posting activities and meet ups only to find that it was just my kiddos and I that would show up.  The  books, while good, I can't remember a whole lot from them...partially because it would take me so long to read one and partially because it was only dealing with the surface of things.  I wasn't looking truly at what was right in front of me.  The focus group has been hit or miss, a great experience to go through and got to help create some cool things (like Flirt Alert).  But I realized that I didn't really have much value added into the group most of the time.  Oh, and the book launch?  Great book, but the only reason I am guessing that I was a part of that was because the more people on the team, the more the book would get out there and noticed.

    From it all, I learned I needed to work on my prayer and quiet time.  But it still wasn't enough.  I was in a spot, that I don't know how I got to, where most days I couldn't wait for bedtime to come, that I needed to be out of the house with the kids, all things led to battles and negative behaviors seemed to be growing as quickly as the yelling was increasing.  It felt like so much was just unraveling and I didn't know where to start or how to get things back to an overall peace.

    I realized that so much of it and the dynamics stemmed from me.  The lack of sleep, strong emotions, carrying my own load and the load of everyone around me, striving for the unrealistic perfect, bad eating habits, and an entirely too long Winter all added to the constant spiral I was in.

    But how do you get out?  I have been creating a mental bucket list.  Things I want to do, classes I want to take, places to visit, sights to see, etc.  Do you have a bucket list?  What is on yours?

    One of the things that has been on my bucket list for awhile and kept being put on the, well, someday list, was a class called "The Abundant Mama Project" by Shawn Fink.  I have started her book "Savoring Slow" and liked what I read, but have not actually managed to finish it yet.  I have followed her on her blog through email and Facebook.  Her class has been something I wanted to sign up for. 

    With all that I have had going on and through my mind, I decided that someday needed to happen sooner.  I signed up for the class at the end of February.  I am so glad that I have and going forward I will write more about it.  I would highly recommend signing up for it, but at the end of March, she retired the program.  But hopefully something is in the works so that going forward, the lessons are still accessible to other moms, in a different format. 

    I learned a lot about myself going through the class, remember some of the stuff I learned after we lost Samantha, and found me.  I found the me that I know, the one that deep down had gotten left behind, forgotten about, the one God made me to be.

    Through it all, things have changed and a newer perspective is emerging.  There is more peace within me and more peace around me.  No life isn't calm and sure there is stuff that still needs work, but things are changing and going more smoothly (usually).

    I mentioned that Samantha was a catalyst earlier.  While going through the Abundant Mama Project, I found this come back to me again.  You see, the My Infant Loss side of stuff was coming due for renewal.  I had some decisions to make about what direction to go with it and what direction I wanted to go in.  For nearly 5 years I had been renewing the site without thought, just because I felt I should.

    She is my daughter, always will be and I love her and nothing will change that.  A part of me had thought that by giving up the site I was giving up on her.  With a new perspective, I understand and realize that she is the reason for the site, the site is not her and letting go of the site doesn't mean I am letting go of her.  I can set the site down and take a step forward on this path using what I know from it, what I learned and give myself a firmer footing on the ground. 

    Laying down some of the load that I have been carrying has been a blessing beyond words and they are the stepping stones that make up my life.  Working through the Abundant Mama Project is the beginning of the work I needed to move forward, instead of treading water.  I am not sure where this will all lead,  and I do know there is more I need to continue to do, but I do feel a peacefulness within me that I haven't felt for a very, very long time.

    Friday, March 30, 2018

    Letter of the Week ~ L


    Recognize upper and lower case letter
    • Color sheet with the lower case letter on it (my oldest knows all the letters in their Capital form)
    Activity
    • Letter Hunt: Throughout the week search for the letter of the week
    • Word Hunt: How many words can you come up with that start with the letter of the week? What around you starts with the letter of the week?
    Adventure
    • Where can you go that starts with the letter of the week?
      • Library ~ so many to choose from, such a great resource, go for a story time or to just explore and maybe find some new books to read
    Art
    • Ladybugs
      • Using coffee filters color on them using washable markers.  You can do read, or think outside the box and make other colors or tie dyed.
      • Spritz with water until colors start to run.
      • Let dry and add details the black head, the line down the middle and black spots.  Add google eyes too if you have them for a little more fun.
    You can see more curriculum ideas on my post about our 2017/2018 curriculum by Clicking Here.