A Raw Moment In Motherhood

This isn’t “fed is best” or “breast is better”. This isn’t a Postpartum Depression post. I touch on both of those in this post, and they may be something I touch on in the future, but for now I just want to be open about what I experienced as a new mom in the hopes that sharing my story will help others who have been through this and also help me feel a bit of closure about it.

When we got pregnant with our first, I wanted to breast feed. There wasn’t even a thought or discussion of doing anything else. It was just a decision. Breastfeeding and then pumping a bit her and there for my husband to do a bottle or if I needed a break.

I was so sure about breastfeeding the thought that I would not physically be able to had never even crossed my mind. Our bodies are truly something incredible with the abilities that are built in when it comes to our children.  I had grown this little child from a small seed to a full baby (all 41 one weeks of my pregnancy) and I felt so strong in my own body and it’s capabilities.

We first started to see problems when he was about 2 weeks old. Our sweet easy going newborn became different. He just didn’t seem to “fill up” with a full belly. I would nurse him for what seemed like a long time, both sides, just for him to be hungry an hour or so later. It just seemed like we were struggling. I knew that part of this was part of a growth spurt (after hours of online searching) and tried to go with it for about a week.

At the tale end of 3 weeks old (on the cusp of 4 weeks), I decided offhand to go ahead and just try and pump and give him a bottle of pumped breastmilk. I was exhausted and somewhere deep down just knew that something wasn’t right. The moment I started pumping, I knew. It became even clearer after the first 2 or 3 pumping sessions. I should have been producing more. I knew that pumping wasn’t ideal for getting milk out (thank you google), but after going back and forth with breast and pumping, I also knew that there was no way he was getting much more the natural way either.

***Now, let me clarify something before everyone jumps in with comments. I tried EVERYTHING. I took every supplement, herb, tea, diet plan, anything that I read could even have a smidge of helping us out. I researched the hell out of breast feeding, pumping, power pumping, increasing supply, etc. You name it, I tried it. I’ll get into that in a minute, but we will just say I pushed beyond what I should have pushed to make this work. Again, this post is NOT ABOUT THAT.***

I cannot even begin to put into words the feeling that comes with the knowledge that your body is failing you at something. Something that you should be able to do, that is built into our bodies and you cannot do it. Very rarely am I at this loss for words and on this, this I have no words.

This alone feeling was different from the times I felt it before (with my abuse and trauma). There wasn’t anyone that I felt like I could talk to about it, that would really actually understand how I FELT rather than just say why don’t you do this, or this will help (which honestly doesn’t help when you have a woman on the verge of tears at every second), or the worst, this is obviously not working for you. I felt so so alone, like I was fighting a very solo battle.

***I did have a very strong support group in my husband and our family, but nothing can replace the feeling of having just ONE person say, “hey I’ve been there. I know how you feel”. ***

It was a never ending, physically and mentally painful experience. It is something no one prepares you for. Something no one even thinks to talk about. Something those going through it don’t know who they can talk to about it.

I pushed my body past its breaking point, in both a physical and mental state. I was doing everything I could to pump any bit that I could do, while simultaneously trying to balance my infant, work, home and myself. I beat myself up over and over wondering why. Why was my body letting me down. Why was this the one thing I could not do. I had seen all those posts of those moms who had breastfed so easily, you see them more than anything else, why was I struggling?

I finally switched over to formula for him at 3 months. I was broken. I felt like I was constantly fighting. Fighting my own body, fighting my own mind (hello Postpartum Depression), and I was tired. I felt like I had failed my child, failed my family, failed myself. It took me a full year to feel better. To know that even though I couldn’t do this one thing didn’t mean that I failed. It didn’t mean anything less for my children. Didn’t lessen me as a person or a mother.

And it doesn’t lessen you either. Motherhood is a beautiful time of trials (physically and mentally), of taking care of yourself and your new child, of blessings, of new adventures. No matter how we are doing this, what our bodies can do is incredible. What we can do is incredible. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you thought motherhood was going to be and embrace what it is. I wish I had done that earlier on in our first year of parenting.

 

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.

A Mother’s Take on Toddlerhood (While In The Thick of It)

As of writing this post, our boys are aged 2 months shy of 3 years old and 16 months. So, right smack in the middle of what Toddlerhood is. While each age comes with unique challenges, I think toddlerhood can sometimes get an especially bad rep. When you hear from other parents talking about their experience, I’ve heard toddler and teenage years can be some of the hardest years. Personally, I think toddlerhood is just very mis understood. Not in a bad way, it can be so hard for us to understand as it has been years since we went through it and we don’t remember it. I think this may have been one of the most important shifts in thinking when it comes to parenting.

***I’ve touched slightly on an outline of what I will be saying, which can be viewed HERE***

As parents when our kids are acting out, misbehaving, throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum, it is very easy to become flustered. Happens to the best of us, and it is completely normal to just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. AND sometimes that is the best thing to do. Sometimes that can be the key to diffusing whatever the situation is.  It can be easy to lose our patience as we ask for the toys to be picked up for the fourteenth time, or to not play with the food, or to not touch something. It can be so draining to feel like you are just repeating yourself with no action or apparent listening. I think this is why people say toddler hood is tough.

And it is.I am not disputing the fact that parenting one toddler, let alone two, or three is tough. It is draining. (Make sure that you take care of yourself during this time, otherwise everything I say after this point will not work)

BUT(gotta love those buts right?!)…

If we think it is hard on us as parents, think about how hard it is on our children. They are being thrust into a whole new level of mental development, they are growing physically, they are trying to figure out how to navigate the world that just seems to be getting bigger and scarier. They are trying to figure out what are boundary lines, what they can and can’t do. How to articulate their feelings, hell what they are feeling. They are working on developing better communication skills and most of the time are bursting with things to say, things to do, places to see, parents/grandparents/relatives/friends to remember. ALL AT THE AGE OF 2.

Can you blame them for getting frustrated with not being able to say something, or talk about something that they really want to tell you, but they just don’t have all the words? Can you blame them when all they want to do is find the toy that they hid from themselves in a game? Or try to put the train tracks together a certain way and it’s just not working?

Imagine feeling angry about something, not being able to understand first that you are feeling angry and then second how to tell someone what you are feeling angry about? That is frustrating. Then imagine, as you are getting frustrated and angry, you see your parent, loved one, person you look up to, start to get frustrated. It escalates quickly (and again, it happens to all of us from time to time, no doubt about it).

Our children get thrust into this world and it is our responsibility as parents to help them, to guide them, as they learn. We cannot do that if we don’t at least try to understand what they must be going through. What we see as well, he’s angry about x, y, or z, is not what they see. They just have all of these things building up inside with no way to let them out. We only know that because we’ve learned that as we’ve grown up.

So, before you talk about the terrible two’s or the threenagers, try and think about what your children are experiencing. Sure, parenting is hard work. It is tough and draining. BUT think about what it is like through your child’s eyes, without having all of the knowledge that we as parents (or adults) now have.

Time Management : My Daily Breakdown

I’ve been talking about Time Management for a couple of posts now and wanted to give an example of how I apply what I’ve been talking about to my own days/weeks/months. It may seem complicated, but it actually isn’t. I just treat most of my tasks as “jobs” that I have to complete everyday. I also do have a part time job that I work the same hours for everyday. I find that I need to have a bit of structure to my days as I work from home and so this is what I do.

To start with: I use a paper planner (insert gasp here). If you’ve been following along this past year, you will know that I am a pen and paper kinda girl and prefer to write things down. It’s a kink in my brain that I just remember and feel more organized when I can write something out. I personally use and love the Day Designer planner system. There is a spot for me to mark out my time during the day, along with a daily to do list, top three priority list, and a couple other little boxes. I’ve got the perfect amount of room. I’ve used the Flagship for 2018 and loved it, although I am thinking about getting a mini for 2019.

The first thing I do is write down my to do list. I color code everything based on what it is for. Each color represents something different, household chores, appts, blog, business, work, etc. I put EVERYTHING on my to do list. Not because I need reminded of it, not because I want to feel “busier” than I am, but simply for the satisfaction of having checked it off. I won’t forget to dust the Living room on Tuesday by any means, but I like to keep track of everything that I am doing. It’s also key when you are first trying to develop a habit, or get back into a habit. I will also mark down in the notes section when a package is supposed to be delivered as our post people don’t ring the doorbell when they deliver…we’ve had packages just sit in the rain all afternoon because of this.

The next thing I’ll do is block out my times every day. I may be a little crazy about my time, but my days are usually planned to a T. I work weekdays in the afternoon for my job, so my mornings are spent with my children, writing, doing household chores, at appointments, whatever else. I’ll notate if I have a blog post or video going up that day, what time it will be at, as well as any appointments. This gives me a pretty good sign of what my actual day is going to look like and helps me narrow down my top three.

The final step is determining what my “Top Three” are for the day. I don’t always do this, but if I’ve got a lot going on, and am not sure if I will realistically get to everything on my to do list, I”ll mark down what I think I need to prioritize. Some days my to-do list becomes a list of other things (such as future posts I want to do, different things to order), things that don’t need to necessarily need to be handled that day, but that I want to remember for a future day. So, having the Top 3 can focus my mind when I do get a chance to work on items.

Once those three steps are complete I’ll briefly look at my day again and mentally block times out to accomplish what I need to accomplish. For example, I typically write my blog posts mid morning (like 10ish), while drinking my second cup, so I’ll try and make sure any cleaning I need to do is done between breakfast and mid morning. Since I work all afternoon on weekdays, any top 3 items that are non work related have to be done before 1pm and I’ll take that into account (as I don’t necessarily write everyday).

Most days I am able to cross everything off my to do list by using this system and most days I feel really productive! Of course, there are days that it doesn’t happen. I am living life and some days we just chuck the to do list and play all morning instead or I’ll spend a morning reading. That is ok and because of my time management, I know that I can make up anything missed on another day.

How do you do your Time Management? Do you have any tips or tricks?

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.

Friday Morning Cups – A Super Important Motherhood One

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“Toddlers are not giving us a hard time, they are having a hard time”. Saw this quote a little while ago and it really just put me back in the right mindset. Figured I would share it as well as it may remind someone else of what toddlers go through. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it ISN’T hard to be a parent (it is at times and I will be the FIRST PERSON to acknowledge that, I actually just recently did), but I am going to try and say that sometimes we need to rethink our thought process when it comes to “terrible two’s”, “threenagers”, etc (which I totally do say those things, so I’m not perfect with this by any means.

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It’s hard for us to truly understand (as we as adults now possess the abilities our youngsters are learning), but imagine having all the feelings, feelings which you’ve never experienced before, learning all of these new things you’ve never known before, trying to understand the vastness and complexity of the world you live in, without having the words to express yourself. Without having the ability to truly make sense of what is going on around you. Sounds frustrating, right?

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So, when you are dealing with the 5th temper tantrum over your first morning cup, try to remember, they don’t understand. They are trying to learn about their world. Their rules. Their role. And it is up to us, as their parents to calmly riddle it out for them. To show them the way. To speak to them and help them understand. It is hard for them, just as it  can be draining for you. AND if you are feeling drained, say something. Take a little breather and do some self care. 

Real Talk: Crushing the End of 2018

We are officially in the last Quarter of the Year. 2018 is rapidly coming to an end and I know that for me, there are still quite a few things I want to accomplish and learn. I want to talk a little bit today about ending the year strong. To feel like we succeeded in making the best of another year of our lives. So, go grab your cup of something Magical and let’s talk about 2018 coming to an end.

The end of the year either brings two feelings, a “holy cow I feel like I haven’t done anything, where did the time go?” OR a “gosh I’ve done so much this year so far, how is it already coming to an end?”.

If you’re in the second category, way to go! You’ve been rocking the year and no matter what, you’ll end the year feeling accomplished. If you’re in the first category, never fear! You have almost certainly accomplished plenty this past year, and there is still time to do some more. Read on category 1, read on…

The first thing to look at is our New Year’s Resolutions (if you set them). I personally don’t set full on resolutions, rather some sort of big picture or overall intention for how I would like for this year to go. So, look at whatever goal, big picture mindset, word of the year, whatever, and see how you’ve been doing with that specific thing. Have you rocked it?

Second, in reviewing your goals for 2018, narrow down the ones that either haven’t been achieved, or that you feel like you could do better at. Did you want to eat healthier and then fell off the badwagon half way through the year? Did you want to read/write/exercise more and didn’t? There is NO SUCH THING as too late to start. You can still start one of those resolutions now and be successful. End 2018 on a strong note!

Third, and final, just start whatever it is that you want to accomplish! As I just said, it is NEVER too late to start. Start slow, maybe with an easier resolution and then build up. If you can cross one or two of those resolutions off, you can still feel like you’ve had a successful 2018. At the end of the day, you (and only you) can determine whether or not you’ve had a good year or not. What do you need to do to feel like you’ve had a good year?

For me personally, as this year is coming to an end I am trying to de clutter items that we don’t need, want, or use,, prepare myself and my family for our upcoming move (read about that excitement HERE), and knock out a couple more items on our Northern VA/Washington DC bucket list. I feel like I’ve done a lot this past year, but I know it wasn’t as much as I had hoped to do. I know that I definitely could have done more in some area’s and I am striving to work on those areas to still end this year strong.

How about you? Where do you fall on the two categories of 2018?

Sunday Evening Chat (aka supposed to be Friday Morning, but I missed it)

As moms (and parents in general), we’ve got some pressure.

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The pressure of raising a being who is entirely reliant on you. The first few years are like nothing else. A baby needing you 24/7, then a toddler demanding your sole attention at all waking hours. It seems like the days are never ending (even though they say the years are short-which they are).

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The pressure of putting on the “facade” of a “happy, beautiful mom with her happy beautiful children”. The pressure of constantly feeling “on” all the time.

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The pressure of a clean home, ready to greet visitors, friends and family alike, and then the pressure of feeding and hosting those visitors.

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The pressure of needing to do all the things for all the people all the time. Of constantly needing to feel like you are handling everything, taking care of everything and everyone. Making sure everyone is happy, healthy, and fed.

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Finally, the pressure not to complain. Not to talk about how hard it can be. To only share the good, the positive. To put a smile on and brush any problems or struggles under the rug. To talk about the problems is to be ungrateful, to be airing stuff that just shouldn’t be talked about. This is just what t is to have children and deal with it.

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Some of this pressure is just being a mom (the children are reliant on you after all and there are things that we have to do as mothers), some of this pressure just comes from who we are as a person. Some of this pressure comes from outside voices. Voices who judge us for who we are, what we do, how we handle ourselves and our family.

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All this pressure is bullshit and insane. But it’s there.

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How do we handle this pressure? How do we make sure we don’t bottle it up and let it take over bit by bit? How do we manage? How do we make sure that with all the pressure we don’t break?

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Sometimes it feels like we are balancing on a tightrope with plates and cups stacked up high on our head. One wrong step and everything comes tumbling, no crashing, down. How do you do it? How do I do it? How do any of us do it? I wonder because we all do it.

A Peak Into My Past

I have never shared this story publicly. I have never talked about this part of my past with anyone, outside of a couple of close friends and family. All of my healing has been done privately, in and out of therapy. Figuring out what works for me and how I would even begin to piece my life back together after the rug was pulled out from under me almost 16 years ago. I’ve finally reached a peaceful place in my life, partly due to finding love in someone else, partly finding the ability to love myself. The biggest part of my peace being the forgiveness I have given. 

Finding the peace within myself has allowed me to reach a point where I want to talk with and help others. When I first entered therapy I had sworn that once I had made my own peace, I would help others in any way that I could. I thought it would be something that I could do within a little bit of time and then I could get to helping others and speaking about this trauma that simply isn’t spoken about. Here I am 12 years later, only just now feeling like I can share this story. Only just now feeling that peace, that urge to share, and finally being comfortable enough to share. Finally at the point where I really feel like I can help others. Help them find their healing, help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. To be that person that I needed.

I’ll get into more of that at another time, but I want to give you my story. I want to publicly share the part of my past that I’ve never shared before. You may have read this already, if you read the linked article in Friday’s post, but I wanted to address it here. Directly on my blog. So, here we go…IMG_4702

I was emotionally abused for 10+ Years and physically abused everyday for 7 of those years (everyday for 5, off and on for 2) by a parent. The person who was supposed to be my guide, my champion, supposed to be everything, was instead my tormentor. I went through my childhood with the expectation of perfection placed on me (and criticized, put down, insulted if not) and my adolescent years with an unthinkable amount of fear. Child abuse is not just being scared, it is a traumatic event that changes everything. Everything about you, everything about your life, and everything about everyone you come into contact with. 

Before I even had the opportunity to have a voice, it was taken away from me. Before I could even understand what was truly right and wrong, what I wanted to be or do, what true happiness could be, I knew what fear was. Not just being scared of something, but true fear. True terror. In some ways I can’t put to words what I was feeling, but in other ways it is crystal clear. 

As I said to start this post, I have reached a good space. A space where I can handle the tough moments, when all of those emotions, fears, and moments come back. I feel like I am at that light at the end of the tunnel, when you know that the tunnel is coming to an end, but there is still a bit of darkness. It has been a long and tough road to get here, and it is a road that will continue for the rest of my life. I have also recognized that having gone through this, having worked through it, and having come out on the other side, I am a better person for that. I am a better wife, mom, a better person all together. 

I want to end this by saying that I will be starting to talk more about trauma, child abuse, and dealing with both of these factors a little more frequently on my blog. There will still be plenty of my usual happy go lucky content (as I am that happy go lucky, keep all things cosy, find the silver lining kinda girl), but I want to start sharing more of my story. I find that Childhood Trauma and Abuse is a topic that doesn’t seem to get enough attention (unless it is a major event) and it is something that is more common than we think. 

Friday Morning Cups

To anyone that’s reading this-this is important. Read on because I have a little story to share.

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This past week had a couple of rough spots. A couple of days where things just overloaded. Where my patience really stretched thin and things started falling through the cracks. My fuse seemingly disappeared and while there wasn’t any sort of breakdown or really bad moments, it was just a week that wore on me.

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Sunday morning I decided to take a little breather. To get out of the house by myself, go to a coffee shop and sit, read and re charge my batteries. I came back to the house feeling so much better. My attitude had shifted. No longer did I have a zero fuse, no longer did I find myself yelling or snapping. I got the to do list done in record time and all with a little smile on my face. I was a better wife and a better mom.

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Now my husband isn’t one to really comment on this type of thing BUT even HE noticed the shift. He told me “If 45 minutes to yourself is all it takes, so that everyday”. He got it. He saw the shift and it clicked.

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Everyone- that time for yourself is SO important. I talk about this so much because it makes a huge difference. That saying is true- you can’t pour from an empty cup.