January Feelings – How Are You Doing?

Well January 2019 is rapidly coming to an end…let’s have a little check in shall we? How are those New Years Resolutions going for you? Have you kept them all? Broken any? Changed them completely?

January is a hard month (although some could argue that February/March can be harder). You are on a “high” of sorts for the first week or two. New Years has just happened we are full of “fresh start” this and “new beginnings” that, but then about halfway through Week 2 of January real life starts to hit. We start to struggle with the resolutions we have set, we struggle with the concept that while this is seems to be a New Year, not everything is miraculously perfect, we struggle with the bitter cold and gray that is the harsh months of winter.

Then about 3 weeks in is Blue Monday, one of the most depressing days of the year.

It’s tough, but it is something that we can work through. We can hold on to those good things, hold on to our dreams, passions, and somehow pull the strength to pull through. We can get back on track with our resolutions (if you’ve fallen off, which lets be honest, we’ve all fallen off a time or two). We can make it through.

It may seem silly, but January can be hard.

For me, this January has been an interesting one. I’ve definitely struggled a little bit, which was not something I was entirely expecting. We’ve spent the bulk of January on vacation visiting family. We dealt with a heartbreaking loss followed by two weeks of very little sunshine and now bitterly cold temperatures (as well as dealing with a vicious cold virus running around everyone in the house-including all the kids). We’ve been pretty much housebound for most of the time we’ve been here between the weather, temps, and sickness.

It’s been a unique kind of tough.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining about all of this. We are very blessed to be able to have this time to relax, be with family, and have a bit of a break. I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of time that I’ve gotten to see extended family (even with the extenuating circumstances), and enjoyed watching our boys play with all of their cousins. It’s been a fun time, but I’ve also missed the chances to get outside, feel the sun beat through the windows all day long (even though it would get really hot), and be able to run outside whenever we wanted to.

This is a very common theme throughout this month and from what I am seeing, with the winter kicking it into high gear across the globe, seems to be harder than previous winters.

So what can we do to combat these feelings?

I always start with some sort of physical movement. There are plenty of indoor physical activities that you can do, whether it be yoga, a quick light cardio, weights, or just getting up and walking around the house. Some sort of physical activity will do a wonder of good for your body and your mind.

The next thing that I like to focus on even more intently is what we are putting into our bodies. It is so easy to feed your emotions, to grab the quick snack, the unhealthy option, but so often that will make the problems worse. I always find my mind clearer and my mood brighter when I reach for some fruit instead of a candy bar. Hell, even choosing popcorn over chips might make a difference.

And finally, make sure that you are taking time to do one thing you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be long, doesn’t have to be something productive, but just one thing that you enjoy. Take 15 minutes everyday just for whatever that is. For me, it is writing. I find myself feeling better if I just take a chance to sit down and write everything out. I also really enjoy reading (although this is a given) and I make sure that I spend a decent amount of time every evening getting some reading done.

Do you have any tips for dealing with these feelings? Leave them below!

Friday Morning Cups

This picture may seem simple. May seem harmless. Just a book and a cup of tea. Nothing more to see, right? Wrong. Now I don’t expect you to infer what I am about to say, nobody could just from this picture. But that is why I’m saying it. That is why it’s just a simple picture, with a much more powerful caption. Often times this isn’t something that is spoken about beyond the “shtick” that many moms have started to claim. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be a dangerous line between what is normal and a funny “just a mom thing” and what is needing a little more attention

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Here sits my now cold cup of tea untouched along with my unopened book (that I started a night or two ago and haven’t touched since). If you know me, you know that either of these things being untouched is unheard of. Instead, I have been sitting here in my chair, staring out the window, utterly spent. Trying to recoup what little I have left.

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Motherhood is the most incredible gift that I have ever experienced but it is also a uniquely exhausting and trying time. It is a constant, overwhelming, role and there comes a time (for all of us), when we are just spent. When we have nothing left. When the simplest of things (like drinking a cup of tea or reading) can just sit for hours without being touched. We are not good at asking for help, we are not good at saying that we are overwhelmed, we just keep trying to hold everything together, while seemingly pulling our own selves apart. There is a level of exhaustion that is normal and then there is a level where you may need to talk to someone or need to ask for help.

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Don’t do what I did for a long time. Don’t try and hide how you’re feeling, or pretend like you’ve got it all together. Don’t always put yourself last. Every once in a while (preferably before you feel that last fraying string snap), tell someone. Reach out. Say I need a minute, 5 minutes, an hour (he’ll be ambitious and go for a couple hours if you can). You’ll be better for it. Your spouse will be better for it. Your children will be better for it.

Personal Development Book Challenge: Update 1

Good morning! You may remember at the beginning of last month, I posted about doing a Personal Development book challenge. I asked for recommendations and boy did yall give me some! You can see that original blog post HERE.

Today I am going to share the books that I picked out of the recommendations, as well as share my thoughts on the two that I have read so far.

The Books that I picked:

I picked a total of 5 as that is what I think is a reasonable amount to give me a jumping off spot. There were a couple that, to be honest, I had no interest in based on what I know or have read about them, but the few that I did pick I was excited about.

  1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  2. The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha
  3. Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini
  4. Boss Bitch by Nicole Lapin
  5. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

As of writing this first update, I have read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and I am halfway through The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. So far, I am finding that a lot of Personal Development books are about taking what you want to take from them and discarding everything else.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (the same person who wrote Eat, Pray, Love) is about not letting fear get in your way in the realm of creativity. I’m going to be honest, there were parts of this book that I rolled my eyes at. That is just on a personal level, but on the whole I actually did take some things away from the points she was making. The biggest take away being, to create as if no one is consuming. I have a major fear of failure (one that gets in the way of me accomplishing a lot of things I think I could) and while I try to practice the whole “Dance as if no one is watching” it was something to realize how much I wasn’t doing that. So, a good one for the challenge and a book that on the whole I think is good.

I’m currently (as of writing this) halfway through The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. I’m going to be brutally honest here, this book is a bit of a letdown. I’m applying the concept of take what you take, discard the rest and I’m not really taking much away from it. It’s a bit cold in reading it, a bit scientific. It vaguely reminds me of Quiet (however I loved that book), but not in a good way. So far it is listing quite a few studies and finding of things that I already know. I’m only halfway through, so we will see if it goes up from here. I think this one (and The Book of Awesome) may have been one of my tops from my list and so I think that is playing into my disappointment level as well.

So, that is my first update! I will try to update every couple books or so until I finish them. I may continue on here and there to talk about books that I am reading in future posts as well.

Round The Kettle Ep 4: Tackling Emotions

So, how you been?

I’m sat here in our bed (of all places, the one place I don’t like electronics or technology) typing this out. It’s like 10:30PM on a Friday night, but when inspiration strikes, you just kinda roll with it…or at least I do. Good thing this isn’t a podcast just yet or I’d be waking the house up with my voice.

The past couple of weeks have been good. Life decisions made (will share soon!). Plans for the rest of this year sorted. Holiday plans…on going. I’m a planner and with everything that is going on (and the large amount of things that we can’t solidly plan), the little things that I can schedule out (in some cases to the hour…) have been scheduled and I feel just much more calm with all of our changes.

I’ve been dealing with some behind the scenes life stuff over the past couple days. Really it’s been an ongoing situation, which changed a few months ago, but I’ve only just recognized behaviors the past couple days. It’s a funny thing because I’m good. I’m happy. I’m in a good headspace BUT (there’s that but…whys it gotta be there? Oy.) I’ve had this feeling in the back of my mind. A little jiggling in my gut (that’s not from those extra m&m’s I promise). Something telling me -hey Mia you need to acknowledge this.

For me the way these things go is like this:

Step1: there’s a feeling. Something in the back of my brain sending a gentle nudge of hey-this isn’t ok.

Step2: trying to figure out what the eff step 1 is referring to.

Step3: sorting through what I’ve figured out in step 2 and working through that internally. Before I even voice something I can guarantee I’ve over thought it ten ways to Sunday.

Step4: deciding whether this whole situation even needs a voice. Not every feeling or nudge I get needs to be talked about. Sometimes just acknowledging that hey I don’t feel right can be enough to then fix whatever it is.

Step5: putting my feelings into words if needed and ,again if needed, sharing that with others.

***now that I write it all out I feel neurotic just rereading it. I can assure you it’s not nearly as drawn out or over complicated as it sounds. Also, I really need to stop over analyzing and being my own psychology patient. Oy. ***

And here we are-step 5. I’m working on putting words to how I’ve been feeling/coping and trying to decide whether I really want to share that with others.

With all of that going on it’s got me thinking about how we can be so good, so happy, so at peace and then still have this little background noise going on. Is that possible? Are you still happy and good if you’ve got that little voice in the back of your mind? If you’ve still got something that is causing you…well whatever this is causing? OR is the need to always feel good and happy making us think that we can’t acknowledge when we aren’t good?

It’s weird because I do have so much to be happy about and that I am happy about. I’ve got so many blessings and I lead such a privileged life. I’ve got things happening and changes coming that so many would dream to have. AND I AM HAPPY.

But there is more to us as beings. More to our emotions and feelings and it can get…complicated to say the least. So, all this to say I do think it is possible to be happy and still have a struggle. I always say life has ups and downs (or highs and lows) and I think that it may be possible that when you are up that there are still downs without everything going down. If that makes sense…

As always, I’m probably just overthinking everything. For someone who preaches to be in the moment and just be present and let the feelings wash over you, I over analyze WAY TOO MUCH.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And of course, I want to know how you  have been? Talk to me in the comments below J

Real Talk : Time Management

Earlier in the month I said that you do not have to be a morning person to be successful, you just have to be good at Time Management. I stand by that statement and today we are going to jump into a brief (ish) rundown of Time Management. If you think, “Mia, the year is almost over, why are we just now talking about this?”. Well, a)it’s never a bad time to start something new, and b)if you are wanting to feel more organized or productive in the new year, this is the perfect time/place to start.

Time Management is not some crazy, complicated, scary concept. It is just simply knowing how best to use your time. Knowing when you work the best and how to use that knowledge to your advantage. You don’t have to go any further than that. In fact, I’ll bet that you already do some sort of time management already and don’t even realize it.

Do you know that you write best in the morning, therefore spending your morning responding to emails, writing posts, or writing in your journal? Do you know that your brain functions better in the afternoon/late evening, therefore spending your morning doing the more aimless tasks (cleaning, laundry, etc) and then concentrating on work related items in the morning? That’s basic Time Management. Not so complicated, huh?

Time Management can also be taken a step further by setting limits on things that you need to accomplish for the day. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds and it is actually what I do for my weekdays to ensure that I can accomplish everything that I want to throughout the day without feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or like I’m spinning my wheels and going no where.  I usually set a limit, for example respond to emails/write posts for an hour and a half mid morning. This allows me to have a set time limit, gives my brain a chance to focus on what I am doing, and I find that I get quite a bit done in this time period.

I’ll give a brief run down of what I do in a separate post (stay tuned!) but first I want to touch on the easiest, simplest form of this and how you can apply it to whatever you are doing, from being a stay at home mom to the workplace.

There are two key ingredients to Time Management, the first is what we’ve already talked about. Knowing when your brain functions the best. Morning or Afternoon, it doesn’t matter. If you know when you feel at your best, then you can work around everything else.

If you are someone who just works better in the afternoon, that is fine! You’ll simply want to adjust your task list to be a little afternoon heavier, focusing the items that will take the most of your attention to the afternoon, rather than the morning. If you are someone who is bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing in the morning, then you’ll want to put any tasks that will take a good amount of your focus to the morning.

The second key ingredient to Time Management is going to be your priorities. Knowing what is at the top of your list on each day is key to success. I’ve talked about Priorities HERE. Within those priorities, you’ll want to have a general idea of what is going to take the longest, what will be the hardest, and what will require the most of your attention and focus. You’ll want to look at your first ingredient, when you work best, and lay out your priorities for that time.

If you work a 9-5 job, in an office, you may not be able to re arrange things completely (for example if you are a Night Owl, that probably will not work with your job), but you can still apply the same principles to allow yourself the most success in getting everything done.

If you are a Stay at Home Parent, you can still apply the principles of Time Management to your every day tasks and chores. Spending your “most productive” hours starting any tasks that need handled and playing/being with your children.

For example, let’s say you have a to do list of 5 items, 3 of them involve your immediate attention (aka due today or tomorrow) and 2 will take a good amount of focus and time. Those 3 assignments are your priorities and the 2 that will take the most focus and time are the ones that you will want to do when you are at the height of your brain function.

Not so complicated huh? Time Management at it’s simplest is just laying out what you need to do, figuring out when you work best, and then implementing both of those items together.

The Personal Development/ Motivational Book Challenge

Alright, I’m going to admit this one very unpopular opinion…I’m not the biggest fan of “self help”/personal development or motivational books. Maybe I’ve only gotten duds, but they always feel just a bit off to me. I get the whole “ra ra get your life together” feeling, but in the same book it also will make almost excuses for everything else going on. I’m more of a swift kick in the ass kinda person (haha kidding…maybe). Sometimes all we need is a blunt approach, rather than a soft it’s ok, you can accomplish it all now doing it this way. IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE PERSON, SITUATION AND MINDSET.

With all of that being said, I feel like maybe I’ve just gotten a couple of duds of self help and motivational books. With the year coming to an end, and everyone doing some reflection and planning for next year, I figured now may be as good a time as any to re evaluate my thoughts on Self Help and Motivational Books.

Here’s what I want to do…a challenge of sorts for the next month-ish. Tell me in the comments below, in comments on my Social Media Post, in an email or direct message, whatever, what is a self help or motivational style book that has changed your life. That you really found meaningful, was chock full of knowledge, that just changed your outlook. I will make a deal to read 5 of the most commented books over the next month (or two depending on how long they take).

If I haven’t read it, I will add it to a short reading list and I’ll start reading the books that you’ve recommended! With each book read, I’ll make a blog post detailing the recommendation, what the book focuses on, and my thoughts about it. Help me find some motivational reading that will change my life!

Say Something. Tell Someone.

From the outside looking in, we were a happy family. How could we not be? All three of us, smiling cheery faces, eyes barely showing the cracks within us. And for a time we were happy. I’ll not deny that we had happy moments as a family. Moments that weren’t besieged with fear, with watching every step, every word.

From the outside looking in, you would NEVER have known what happened behind closed doors. You would never had known what fear the young girl was experiencing, what anger the mom was trying to control, or that dad was unaware for most of it.

That’s the thing about abuse. You don’t know. An abuser excels at hiding in public. A victim learns to shut up and become as little as possible. To not bring any attention upon themselves. Bruises can be hidden/written off/explained. You don’t truly know until someone says something. And a lot of times, when someone speaks up others don’t believe them. Especially in cases like mine, when we appeared to the world as a happy family.

But that’s one of the keys to healing, to moving forward. Say something. Tell someone. Speak up.

Living with abuse, or even living after the abuse has ended is like living with a constant weight. The weight of this enormous secret. Something that you’ve never talked about. It is a weight on your shoulders, a weight on your chest. It governs your every move, your every word, your every decision. Your every breathe is tainted by the weight of this secret. Even if you have left the situation where the abuse has occurred, your abuser still has power over you with this weight.

That’s the thing about abuse that no one really talks about. You leave, get out, walk away and it still follows you. It follows you mentally, emotionally, and physically. The weight of this secret is usually a big factor in the healing process, a big factor in all three of the ways abuse follows you.

Talking about it, telling someone, starts to lift that weight. It allows you to feel as if you can breathe again. You don’t have to tell the world, you don’t have to make any crazy public display, just tell one person. A friend, a stranger, a loved one. It doesn’t matter-just someone. Start lifting that weight off of your chest and start taking back control of yourself.

In fact, from my own experience, I had some folks who knew us as a family be shocked when I first spoke out. It was a surprise to some, not so much too others, but overall if I had never said anything no one would ever have known. I also knew though that I wanted to take back control. I wanted my voice back. I wanted to be “normal”.

While I’ll never be “normal”, I have become a person that I like again. I am no longer a shell, scared of the slightest thing. I’ve no longer got a weight on my shoulders/chest controlling everything. The first time I told someone that weight started to lift.

Talking about it, sharing my story, even just to one friend who already had an idea that something wasn’t right, allowed me to breathe a little easier. And slowly, ever so slowly because the healing process takes time, I started to take back control by talking and by writing.

I’ve faced some backlash, and I know others who have faced even more backlash than I have, but the freedom that we feel, the relief, that’s feeling of being able to breathe-that feels better than the backlash that comes. You may lose friends, you may face some backlash, BUT the freedom that you will get, the feeling of relief, the ability to breathe again without this weight. That is something amazing.