Saturday, December 27, 2014

Yule 2014

Happy Winter Solstice.

I think Winter and Summer Solstice are my favorite holidays. These two days of the year I look forward to as a child anticipates Christmas or their birthday. To me,the Solstices are so magical. One heralds bringing the light and the other darkness. Both are necessary in the circle of life and creativity.

One of my favorite things is to host Yule with my women's circle. This year in particular felt most magical of all. So I'd thought I share with you a few glimpses into our celebration a couple of weeks ago.

Winter Solstice welcomes the light, the sun, returning as it is the longest night of the year and after this the days become longer and nights shorter. For me darkness is essential for the gestation of ideas and I as welcome the light I begin to birth them into existence. All through fall I have all kinds of thoughts and insights into stories I will then begin writing come January. I love the idea of bringing in the light. Last year this came into the form of my book. It was this time of year when I decided to share my journey with postpartum depression with the world. My idea came to fruition the following spring.

This year, all kinds of ideas and inspiration has come to me wish I will share with you more at the beginning of the year. And this year's Yule celebration was pure magic. Our high priestess, Amy, was kind enough to share a few pictures. Check out her Facebook page.

First we built our altar with Yule-themed objects. Note the holly and evergreen bough.

During our circle time we each shared our intentions for the following year and wrote them on little sticky notes which I taped to a Java log, our improvised Yule log. At the end of our circle time I took the log outside and burned it in a chiminea, since I don't have a real fireplace in my condo.

We finished the evening with a gift a exchange. Then before everyone left we made Magic Mists, using recipes from Tesa Whitehurst's Magical Housekeeping. This was so much fun! I felt like an alchemist creating beautiful aromas infused with crystals and essential oils.

I hope you enjoyed a little peek into my Winter Solstice. May the light always shine upon your path. Happy Holidays to you and your family. This will be my last post for 2014. I'll see you in 2015.


Monday, December 15, 2014

My Holiday Gift for You

Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

As the 2014 draws to a close, I look back at the year. 2014 has, without a doubt, been one of the best years of my life. First of all, I finally was able to get a grip of my depression and really start to enjoy being a mother. Second, I achieved one of my biggest goals- become a published author. Not only that I also wrote my first article for Rebelle Society. All of this brought so much joy and sense of accomplishment. Last week, however, I witnessed a dream come true.
New Renaissance Bookstore

My favorite bookstore in Portland, New Renaissance Bookshop, agreed to carry my book. Seeing my baby on the shelf was the best Christmas present EVER. They have three copies and I signed them. :) If you know a new mom who is struggling and could use a little encouragement, this would make a great little gift. Make sure you throw in some chocolate too *wink.*

And if your budget is a little tight this year, Urban Goddess Mama, is FREE on Kindle books until 12/19/14. This is your chance to read my story for FREE and share with your mama friends. Go forth and spread the holiday cheer.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Thank you so much for your support and love. See you in the New Year!


Monday, December 8, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-Care Chapter 12

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting. We did it folks. We made it through the whole book. Last chapter was about waking up your passion. Let's dive into chapter 12.

Chapter Overview: Creating an Extreme Self-care Emergency kit
What I got out of the chapter: Life happens. Kids teeth, have growing pains, get sick, and have rough days. Jobs can be stressful. Family can bring all kinds of drama. Having a Self-care Emergency Kit is extremely important to get you through those tough times that happen to everyone.

Saturday was one of them for me. I woke up in a crappy mood. All week my emotions had been spiraling downward. Part of the reason was I hadn’t had time to run, my newest endorphin-booster, and there had been other challenging things throughout the week that have thrown my mood off track. This morning, all I wanted was to crawl back in bed and forget the world. I put on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for Boo Creature, climbed back into bed, and threw the cover over my head. It took every ounce of energy and will power to get my ass out of bed after she watched 3 episodes and go running as my usual weekend routine goes. I took her to the park and ran around the playground as she played on the slides. My mood didn’t improve. 

When I got home Hubby woke up and took over after I told him what was going on. I took a sea salt bath while reading a good book. He cooked a late brunch for us and brought me a plate of pancakes and eggs while I bathed- something that made me feel like a queen. The delicious food, wonderful bath, and good book helped a little, but I was still pretty pissy. 

By now nap time had arrived. I lay down with my girl and we took a two hour nap. When I woke up in the afternoon, I felt a little better. We snuggled together and looked at pictures on my phone. A half hour later I felt even better. And I got up to write this post. 

I utilized at least three of the tools in my Self-care Emergency Kit.  Using the questions that Cheryl asks in chapter, I created the following kit and today I’m so happy I had it:
1.      Who can I turn to for support? My husband, my 2 best friends, and my goddess circle ladies.
2.      Who do I need to avoid? Certain family members, anyone who has intense energy.
3.      What does my body need? Yoga, swimming, sea salt bath, sleep, and time in nature.
4.      What responsibilities to I need to let go of to clear space? Writing, social gathering, and in extreme cases take time off work.
5.      What unhelpful coping strategies or activities do I need to avoid? Mindless TV watching, internet surfing, Facebook surfing, and playing Facebook games.
6.      What spiritual practice restores my faith and connection to Source? Yoga, meditation, and walking in nature (especially the beach).
7.      What do I need to feel comforted? I need space, food, and time to rest.
8.      How will I best express my feelings? Journaling and talking to a trusted friend.
9.      What object can I use as a talisman that will remind me to breath & relax? My heart-shaped rose quartz.
10.   What can I do when I need to take a break from the emotional stress? Read a good book, watch a funny movie, eat a Greek Salad with a glass of wine, and take a bath.

Thank you so much for reading this fantastic book with me throughout the year. I really enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned. Stayed tuned for an exciting announcement next week. 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Being Present

Happy Monday Readers!

About 2 weeks ago, I had a reading done by a very intuitive friend who I hadn't seen in years. At the time of the reading I had feelings of frustration, anxiety, restlessness, and indecision dancing inside me like a drunken frat party were I was the only one sober. My next book edits came in late due to a communication error which added to the stress. I couldn't focus on work or writing. When my family was together on the weekend, my mind was far away in another land and lifetime.

Therefore it wasn't a surprise when the first thing my friend said was I needed to be present and that until I focused my energy on living in the now, all the dreams and goals I'd been struggling towards would only be pushed out farther. As soon as she said this I thought, "duh." I'd written about this in both of my books and constantly talked about it, but somewhere along the way, I lost my step and fell back onto the endless treadmill of worry, constantly thinking about my next book, the next project to tackle at my day job, where I'm going to send Boo Creature to preschool next year, when are we going to relocate our family to our dream location, if I should go back to school and complete my bachelors degree, and the list goes on.

Because my mind was everywhere but here, I was missing some of life's precious moments- something I didn't want. This was my wake up call and I answered. Her words resonated with every cell of my body. She gave me many insights and ideas of ways to get my life back on track.

That night I vowed to take a step back, clear my calendar (including my mental one) of things that really weren't important and set my priorities straight: 1. My health (mind, body, & soul), 2. My family, 3. My job, and 4. My dreams and goals. Everything else comes after that.

I also vowed to let life flow and stop fighting the events that ruin my well thought out plans. A week ago the promise to myself came to the test. My plan for that Sunday was: sleep in, yoga, lunch & nap with Boo, go to Samhain goddess circle, and family evening time. The time change also took place that day as well and of course my darling little daughter didn't get the memo as she woke up at 5 am, new time. Hubby hadn't slept well and he wasn't feeling good, so I let him go back to bed. Suffice to say, I didn't get to go to yoga that morning which made me sad since I was really looking forward to the class. Boo was in a mood too so I ended up putting her down for an early nap and I joined her for a good two hour snooze.

When we woke up we had some unexpected out-of-town family stop by. The kids played together and they were having so much fun I didn't want to tell them I needed to leave and break up their good time. Plus I'd run out of energy by this point to fight. By the time they left it was long after the goddess circle had already started so I wasn't going to make it there either. My plans had been ruined. However at the day's end, I did get some great family time with hubby and Boo.

Even though my day didn't turn out the way I had wanted I didn't mind at all. Everything happened as it should. My spirit needed the good quality time with my daughter in the morning, my body needed the long nap, and my soul needed the family connection in the afternoon. And I realized this because I lived in the moment. Every time a plan changed, I went with the flow and didn't fight it. And I got to enjoy these darling moments.

As a result of being present in my life, I also came to the realization that the pressure I was putting on myself to get the next book out was causing me to not be present and all kinds of stress. After much soul-searching I decided to take a real break from the writing and focus on my priorities for the rest of the year. Urban Goddess Mama-to-Be release date has been pushed out to the Spring 2015 and my fiction writing has been paused until after the holidays. I feel really good about this decision.

Being present is changing my life in so many ways for the better, because today, this very moment, is all we really have.



PS. There's a great 21-day Meditation Challenge going on right now. Click here for more information.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-care Chapter 11

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will be focusing on one chapter a month and while I try to post the first Monday of the month, that doesn't always happen. Last chapter was about dealing with anger and speaking your truth. Let's dive into chapter 11.

Chapter overview: Waking up

What I got out of the chapter: "Many of us lose sight of the things that make us truly happy." The first line of the chapter couldn't be more true with motherhood. Once the baby arrives into our lives, everything we do is to make sure our child is cared for, loved, and protected. We bust our butts keeping the house running as smoothly as possible and we put ourselves last. Doing things for our own pleasure becomes something of antiquity and often times we lose sight ourselves. I cannot stress the importance of finding those pleasures in life. They feed the well so you can feed your family's well.

Treasure Hunt (looking for hints or objects that appeal to you). 
I know I completely lost myself after my daughter was born. The things I used to enjoy no longer interested me. I didn't know what I liked anymore. One of my deepest pleasures was getting lost in a good book. But I had hard time reading what I used to like (paranormal and fantasy). So after reading this chapter on discovering your hidden passion, I went to the Kindle store and looked for free or .99 cent books and downloaded different books that looked interesting. 

Once you find an object, do something.
Next time I had a good chunk of time to myself, I scanned my personal library and picked out a book that sounded good. It turned out to be Brenda Novak's When We Touch (A Whiskey Creek novella)I completely fell in love with her Whiskey Creek series and have been reading them in order as time allows.
My writing has changed because of this. The dark paranormal stories are still there, but right now I'm enjoying writing lighthearted contemporary romance, something I didn't expect I'd like. So what about you? What hidden passions are waiting to be discovered?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Here we go again...

Dear Readers,

It's been a LONG time since I've blogged about stuff. I've been behind on the Art of Extreme Self-care Read-a-long and other things. Sure, I can name a slew of excuses for my slacking like I work full time, a mommy to a very active toddler, and working on Urban Goddess Mama-to-be  (coming out next month). While these are very valid, they, unfortunately, are not the real reason I've been tardy with my blogging.

Most of you know my struggle with postpartum depression and how I've been able to conquer the challenges brought on by this debilitated disorder. Over the last few months I've done super well and was starting to feel like my normal self. I even started writing fiction again- something that hasn't happened for two years. Been sleeping real well, too. Besides the occasional down day that everyone experiences once in a while, I feel felt great.

Stone ledge by stone ledge, I was almost out of the dark well, when I slipped and fell right back into the waters below. But this time it was different.

Back in August, my OB advised me to stay on Zoloft at least until after I weaned my daughter and my hormones balanced out again. She said that I might have another bought of depression. Also my fibromyalgia started to flare up again, which I know brings on depression if I don't control the pain. So I visited my acupuncturist and also did some self-care.

A little over three weeks ago, my daughter nursed for the last time. She'd been slowly decreasing her request for "mama milk" over the last month. As liberating as weaning can be, I felt sad for loosing one of my favorite ways to connect with my daughter. Breastfeeding had been the single bond that made me feel like I'd done something right when I went through a very dark period last year.

A week ago, my shoulder started to hurt so bad that I couldn't sleep. I visited my acupuncturist again. Two days later I woke up to find that the black fog I'd fought had finally settled in. Again. I felt pissed. Everything my daughter did brought rage. And of course, she woke up in a bad mood too.

What made the situation worse was we were both at the beach with my goddess ladies staying in a gorgeous house in a perfect location. Yet here I was feeling like scum on the bottom of sewer worker's shoe. Most of the ladies were sleeping so I decided to take my daughter down to the beach because she was starting to throw a tantrum and I didn't want to wake anyone.

Things got worse once outside. She started to scream and very dark thoughts filled my head- the kind that I hadn't had in a long time. The imagines that played through my head scared the shit out of me, because I didn't trust myself not to act on them in the state I was in.

I quickly grabbed her and went back to the car. I figured she'd be safer in the car seat and if I drove around maybe she'd fall asleep and that would allow me to deal with my demons. After an hour of driving, sleep didn't seem to be on the menu. My back up plan when I get this way had always been my parents. They were an hour away and I thought about taking her there, but I needed to get back to the house to get her things.

When I returned, everyone was up. My girl went off to play with one of the other kids who came along as well. Pure exhaustion hit me like a tsunami. All I wanted was to crawl into bed and check out. The fatigue was so great I didn't even have enough energy to ask the other women to watch my girl for a couple of hours so I could sleep. I just crawled into bed and passed out.

Two hours later, my daughter came into my room and wanted to crawl in bed with me. This time when I woke up I felt more human. Bright sunlight flooded my room, warming my bed. We snuggled together, while she told me what she'd been doing with her new friends. Then she turned to me and said, "Mama sleepin'. Mama tired. I love you, Mama."

Tears filled my eyes as she threw her arms around my neck. "I love you too, baby," I whispered back. The ladies had fed her, changed her diaper, and made sure she was cared for so I could rest and care for myself.

The rest of the day turned out to be a magical day filled with crafts, play, drinks, food, and lots of laughter. As the day progressed, I thought about the dark place I had been in that morning and how quickly things had turned bad, yet they changed for the better just as quickly. Depression is nothing to mess with.

 I'm so thankful for my goddess ladies and the support they gave me when I needed it the most. I'm thankful for my OB who warned me this could happen and so I knew what was happening. But I also want to thank you, dear readers, for your support and understanding. You rock.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-care Chapter 10

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will be focusing on one chapter a month and while I try to post the first Monday of the month, that doesn't always happen. Last chapter was about getting a tune-up. Let's dive into chapter 10.

Chapter Overview: Anger

What I got out of it: This chapter is about speaking your truth and sticking up for yourself. When Boo Creature was about 1 1/2 months old I went out to a restaurant with my goddess ladies for lunch. The waitress kept doting over my daughter. At first I didn't mind. Who doesn't love a new baby? But then she started stroking her head while I was holding her and that make me feel very uneasy.

1. She was a complete stranger. 2. My daughter was still pretty small/newbornish. 3. She wreaked of tobacco smoke.

When our food arrived, my lady friends took turns holding Boo Creature so I could eat a meal in peace. I didn't mind them touching her because they were all dear friends and I knew them. Just as I took a huge bite out of my garden burger, the waitress showed up at our table again. This time when went over and kissed my baby's hand and head. I was stunned. Anger bubbled inside. How dare she take the liberty of kissing my baby? Didn't she know any baby etiquette? Even my friends were shocked. Next time she checked on us, the friend holding the baby turned away from her when she reached for the baby again. I took the baby back, the waitress tried again to touch Boo and I too turned away and out of her reach.

This incident happened long before I read The Art of Extreme Self-care. And I wished I'd spoken up the first time she touched my baby. Instead I froze and the anger didn't taste so good.

Here's the simple approach Cheryl talks about in the chapter to deal with situations like the one above:

1. Stop and Acknowledge what just happened. My girlfriends and I did notice the waitress touching her and we talked about it. I didn't stuff it in.

2. Take a deep break and state what's on your mind - with grace & love if possible. That's what I wish I would have done. At the time, I know I was too afraid I'd offend her by telling her not to touch my baby and she'd do something to our food.

3. Don't try to change the other person. I could have said something like, "I know you really like babies and want to show your affection, but she's pretty new. I would appreciate you refraining from touching her. Thank you."

4. Walk away. Stepping away to regroup is always a good thing.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-Care Chapter 9

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will be focusing on one chapter a month and while I try to post the first Monday of the month, that doesn't always happen. Last chapter was about protecting your sensitivity. Let's dive into chapter 9.

Chapter overview: Time for a tune-up.

What I got out of the chapter: Taking charge of your health. As a mom, it's so easy to up your health last as you focus on caring for your family, but being healthy is vital to being able to give the attention and care you family needs. Those routine dental cleaning appointments or annual exams get put on the back burner. Unless something is seriously wrong, a trip to the doctor's office is delayed. But not just medical things, stuff like getting a massage or pedicure and visiting the acupuncturist takes a back seat.

When I first read the chapter last year, I was going through one of the low points of my postpartum depression.

1. Taking charge of my health. I did this by reading up on postpartum depression and ways to combat it naturally. I wanted to know what type of medication would be safe while breastfeeding and the side effects. 

2. Listen to my body. I did a check in with my body. At the time my neck and shoulders were tight and painful as I had a flare up of fibromyaliga. There was a spot of psoriasis on the back of my scalp that needed looked at. I wasn't sleeping very well. And I was out of shape. My perineal area was still sore and I still had pretty bad pelvic pain.

That month I started pelvic physical therapy, scheduled regular visits with the acupuncturist and massage therapist, saw a dermatologist for the psoriasis, and talked to my doctor about what was safe to take that would help me sleep better while breastfeeding. I also started to exercise at the gym regularly. Between massage, acupuncture, exercise, and a natural supplements, I started to sleep better and feel better within a week.The tension in my neck and shoulders melted away.

3. Choosing Health Partners, not Parents. I want someone who I can work with in improving my health not just tell me what to do and expecting me follow their orders without question. I absolutely love my OB-Gyn, she is someone I feel very comfortable with and discussing very personal issues without feeling like she's judging me. My acupuncturist and massage therapist are the same. We are all partners in my health. We are equals.

4. Finding the right Emotional Support. This right here is what saved my veggie bacon during the worse periods of postpartum depression. I am so blessed to have a powerful group of women, my Spiral Wise sisters, who have been my rock through some of my darkest moments. I also have a couple of soul sisters who I know I can call any time of day or night and they'll be there for me.

5. Know what you need & when you need to know it. I'm so thankful that in this age of technology when I have a test done, I can log in to the patient portal and see my results, but I always ask when the results should be available, so I'm not constantly logging in to check.

Every six months I go through these 5 steps and take the appropriate actions to ensure that my health is optimal, because I want to be there for my daughter. A healthy mama means a healthy home. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

5 things I like about The Honest Company

Dear Readers,

*this post contains affiliate links for which I get paid a small percentage of sales*

9/20/14 UPDATE: Zulily sale is over, but you can still checkout The Honest Company and get a free trial by clicking the affiliate banner on the sidebar or click here Free Trial*

Zulily is having a sale for The Honest Company today. I can write an entire book of why I love this company, but here are my top 5 reasons:

1. Environmentally friendly. All their products are free of harsh-chemicals.

2. Quality. All of the products I've tried thus far are comparable to mainstream product quality. Laundry soap, dishwasher pods, shampoo, lotion, floor cleaner, window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dishwasher rinse, prenatal vitamins, DHA capsules, diaper cream, disposable diapers, disposable pull-ups, disposable wipes, and breath easy chest rub. The only product I've tried that I'm not a big fan of is their spray sun screen. It leaves a powdery white residue on everything, but still very effective. My daughter was out playing in the fountain downtown yesterday for two hours in midday sun without any redness.

3. Female-founded company. Jessica Alba started the company and funded most of the research in the products with her own money because she wanted to make a difference in this world. I love to support companies founded and run by women.

4. They give back. They help communities local and international.

5. Convenience. I love that I can set up a bundle order online and it will show up at my doorstep whenever I need the products to be here.

And they are affordable. Okay so that is six reasons. I first tried the Honest Company when they were on Zulily last time and completely fell in love with their products.

Give them a try and click on the link below.

The Honest Company Sale at zulily Love, Melania

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Things My Wild Toddler Has Said or Done Recently

The last two weeks have been part amusing, horrifying, and heart-warming- sometimes all three at the same time. Some of these things are so awesome I had to share. You might want to go use the restroom before we get started. Here we go:

1. While eating outside at one the sidewalk cafes in town: Boo Creature proceeds to wave and smile at every male human that walks by, including several homeless bums, while ignoring all the females. Hubby will be buying a shotgun soon.

2. When not at daycare, continues to mention a boy named "Cooper" from school. She's not even two years old!

3. "Mommy work" is the first thing she says when she wakes up and I'm, well, working in the office. And now she says this every time I'm not out in the living room/kitchen area with her or if I'm on the computer. Maybe mommy works to much?

4. Everything that Boo Creature eats must now be shared with Pooh, her favorite stuffed bear, including blackberries, bananas, yogurt, mac n' cheese, spaghetti, oatmeal, and well you get the point... any good stain-removing tips welcome.

5. She randomly yells "Mama!" with a tone of sheer excitement and runs over hugging my legs or any other body part she can wrap her arms around. Sometimes she adds, "I miss you." *reaches for tissues*

6. "I help" is her newest response when she sees me doing anything around the house. "Why yes, baby, you can help. Here's a mop and some floor cleaner. Knock yourself out. And while you're at it throw some laundry in the washer, fill up the kitty's water dish, and here's the toilet brush. Mama's going to make herself a lemon drop."

7. Her favorite nursery rhymes: "Tinkle, Tinkle" "Ashes, Ashes" "I Happy (If You're Happy and You Know it, in case you couldn't figure that one out) and "Bitty Spider"- all complete with hand gestures.

8. When asked what she'd like to eat for lunch, she opens the fridge, places one hand on hip, sighs dramatically, and says "Let's see." Theater lessons, anyone?

9. "I have belly-body," and points to her navel. Then she pulls up my shirt, inserts finger in my navel, and says "Mommy's belly-body." This has happened in public several times. Once she even attempted to pull up my dress to access "Mommy's belly-body." Because pulling down mommy's shirt and saying "Milk" at top volume wasn't enough.

10. Boo Creature has a discovered mommy's bras. The last night she grabbed one from the laundry basket, placed it on her chest, and proceeded to walk around the house saying "I want boobs." Me too sweetie, me too. Today she grabbed two of my bras and says "I have boobs." Did I mention she's not even two?

Boo Creature & "Mama's Shoes"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zulily Mountain Buggy - Nano Exclusive Sale and Giveaway!

Hello Dear Readers,

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

This is for all of you new parents out there! Zulily has just released the Mountain Buggy - Nano Travel System: a one-of-a-kind Stroller and Protect Infant Car Seat combination system that features the lightest car seat on the market and a stroller that folds ultra compact into a shoulder-strap bag, perfect for a family on the go! The best news — we can both win one! Here's how…

Starting today (8/19) through Thursday (8/21), you can enter the zulily Moutain Buggy - Nano Giveaway by sharing your favorite Nano color in the comments below.

zulily Mountain Buggy - Nano Giveaway!I'm entering the zulily travel system giveaway contest and if I win one, so can one of you!

A little about the Mountain Buggy - Nano:
• Includes the Protect Infant Car Seat one of the lightest on the market at 8.3 pounds
• Lifts out of its sturdy LATCH base without disturbing Baby and into the Nano easy-push 13.7 lb stroller
• The stroller folds ultra compact into a shoulder-strap bag to simplify travel for a family on the go
• Available for $349.99 with free shipping!


Good Luck everyone!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My breastfeeding story.

Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I figured now would be a great time to share my breastfeeding story.

Long before my daughter was born, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I wanted to breastfeed. I mean, really, free food for baby & burn calories at the same time? Sign me up! The day I was supposed to attend the breastfeeding class at the clinic, I went into labor so I missed it. I tried not to worry because, hey, women have been breastfeeding their babies for thousands of years so it's pretty much embedded into our DNA, right? Plus, I'd watched all those baby breast crawl videos on Youtube. I planned to have a natural delivery, preferably a water birth, and breastfeeding was only appropriate.
Unfortunately my labor & delivery did not go as planned (you can read the story here). So it became very important that I breastfeed my girl, because I wanted to make up for the bumpy start to our mommy/baby relationship. Had I not been as committed, I would have given up within the first month.
When she was born, they placed her on my chest. I watched with amazement as she slowly worked her way to my nipple. It worked. She latched on and started sucking hard. It hurt a little, but after what I went through giving birth to her, the pain seemed more like a light pinch compared to the punched-in-the-crotch-by-a-boxing-champion feeling that came as my epidural wore off.
Every two hours the nurses came in to make sure I was feeding her. I did. Around the clock, I was up trying to nurse her. The lactation specialists came in and checked to see how well she latched because with each feeding my nipples hurt more and more. Latching wasn't the issue. Once she got my nipple in her mouth she chomped down on it every time. It wasn't until the last day in the hospital (day 5) that we finally got her to not bite my nipple.
But the other problem was my milk hadn't come in. The lactation specialists set me up with a pump and after every feeding, I had to pump for fifteen minutes. (Sleep became a relic of the past.) While in the hospital they supplemented with breast bank milk, but as we were getting ready to check out I started to freak-out about what we would do once home. Lucky for me, a girlfriend gave me several bags of her frozen milk which was just enough to get us through until my milk arrived (day 7).
Every feeding session for the first couple of weeks was a traumatic event for both of us. I'd silently curse away as she suckled, many times she would fuss for reasons unknown. Most of the time I blamed myself because I was so tense and she could pick up on that. Or at least that's what I thought at the time.
Within two weeks of the birth we developed thrush. Not sure who got it first but I had it in my nipples and her poor mouth was covered with white patches. So now not only were my nipples bleeding and sore, they also hurt like a mother of Satan. Every time my daughter nursed I felt like someone inserted hypodermic needles into my breasts. My midwife prescribed some medicine for both of us. Now my every two hour feeding routine included, washing nipples with apple cider vinegar,  applying generous amounts of all purpose nipple cream, and changing breast pads. Oh, and pump. I still wasn't producing enough milk... I also drank truckloads of Kefir. The thrush cleared within a week.
I had many mama friends stop by and say, "yeah, the first couple of weeks hurt, but then you nipples get tough." Two, three, four weeks had already passed and I still had to use all purpose nipple cream to help with the pain. One mama however told me it took her at least eight weeks. That made me feel better. Especially since that's how long it took my nipples to finally "toughen up."
After that breastfeeding became the natural wonderful magical thing everyone keeps talking about. I watched my newborn grow for the first six months primarily on the milk my small B size boobs produced. How freaking amazing is that?
My daughter is almost 19 months now and is slowly weening herself, which makes me rather sad that our beautiful moments are coming to an end.  But I have a few selfies like this one that captured a half of a nanosecond of one of these moments.  Please share your breastfeeding story in the comments for others to read. Happy Breastfeeding Month!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-care Chapter 8

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will be focusing on one chapter a month and while I try to post the first Monday of the month, that doesn't always happen. Last chapter was about creating a soul-nurturing environment. Let's dive into chapter 8.

Chapter 8 overview: Protecting your sensitivity.

What I got out of the chapter: I've always been a sensitive person, but over the years I've grown pretty thick skin and then the Boo Creature arrived last year. Everything changed. One layer at a time her birth and the postpartum period stripped me of the defenses I had established through life circumstances. Never in my life did I feel more vulnerable than the first year of motherhood. And I was in a particularly fragile point in my life when I read this chapter.

Cheryl talks about how sensitivity isn't necessarily a bad thing and that we should embrace and protect it. As a mom, being sensitive allows me to anticipate the needs of my daughter and provide the necessary care she requires to grow. Cheryl gives 5 different ways to protect this gift.

1. Step into the Moment: Being present in the moment allows you the freedom to live. I tend to worry about the future or rehash the past, so being in the moment took lots of practice for me. Still does actually. Life is so much better and no matter how terrible the day goes, if I think in minutes rather than hours, I feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.

2. Turn Down the Noise: Sensitive people need quiet. I need quiet. I'm so much more productive at work in the morning before everyone arrives. When the house is quiet I feel regenerated and the creative juices start flowing. When I feel stressed and frustrated, I go up to the mountain and hike. The stillness of the woods calms my nerves. At the same time the roar of the ocean has the same tranquil affect on me too. I guess it's the electronic noise that gets me. One of the things I noticed is that if I wake up in the early morning and take 10 minutes for quiet meditation and yoga, I feel so much more grounded throughout the day because when challenges arise, I can always go back to the still place I established in the morning. At night I turn my cell phone ringer off and power down all the electronics (computer, TV, etc). This helps me slow down to prepare for sleep.

3. Stop the Violence: The older I get the less I enjoy violence on TV. I've never been able to handle violent news. A few years ago, I stopped watching the evening news, because I always went to bed depressed by all the terrible things happening in the world. People have asked me if not watching the news is like burying my head in the sand because we need to know what's happening in the world. If I need to know what's going on, I can look on the internet and read about it. The way news is presented through the media these days is so sensationalized to play with one's emotions. Even the weather is reported in such a dramatic fashion sometimes I stress out about the rain and I live in Portland where it rains. A lot. Now, I have a weather widget on my phone and computer desktop. For world news I'll listen to NPR or watch News Hour on PBS.

4. Limits on Toxic People: As a mom, my time is limited as is, so why would I want to spend the precious little free-time I have with people that bring me down or don't appreciate me as is? My circle of friends dwindled quite fast after baby arrived and surprisingly I was okay with that because I don't have time for drama. While I lost some friends, I gained new ones. Other moms came into my picture who have helped me so much on the road to recovery through postpartum depression. The people who understand what motherhood is like are those who have stayed close even though I don't get to see them as much as I would like. I'm extremely grateful for those friendships.

5. Managing Technology: Oh boy, the moment I went into the hospital to deliver my daughter, I turned my phone off and kept it off for several days. Those first few weeks, I rarely answered my phone or went online unless I needed to research something or order diapers. As my daughter has gotten older, I found myself on Facebook more often or checking my email frequently throughout the day--something I used to limit not long ago. Last month I realized I spent way too much time on the computer outside of the 40 hours a week for my day job (which most of those 40 is spent on a computer). When I reread this chapter, I knew I needed to change this unhealthy trend especially since my next book, Urban Goddess Mama-to-be, is only 1/2 written when the rough draft should have been finished by the end of July. That's when I made an announcement that I would be offline for a while so I could get my writing caught up. The last couple of weeks have been wonderful not having the pressure of social media demands. When I do finish the book and return online, I will put more effort into limiting my social media interaction.

So what about you? How do you protect your sensitivity?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-care Chapter 7

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will be focusing on one chapter a month and while I try to post the first Monday of the month, that doesn't always happen, like today... Last chapter was about the absolute no list. Let's dive into chapter 7. (Can you believe we're on chapter 7 already?)

Overview: Creating a soul-nurturing environment

What I got out of it: Well, let's just say this has been an on going issue in my house. First of all we live in a small 850 sqft condo with limited storage. Secondly, both my husband and I have lots of hobbies that require stuff. Thirdly, we expanded our household and I'm amazed how much stuff come with babies! These are not excuses, but challenges I encounter every day.

When I first read this chapter, I was going through a very low point during the postpartum period. Our neighbors had dropped off two ginormous bags of clothes and lots of baby gear fit for a girl since they were moving. Our closets were overflowing with baby stuff others had given us and every corner of the apartment was crammed with baby things like stroller, pack n' play, high chair, swing, car seats, etc... I didn't say no to anything anyone wanted to give me because I didn't know if I'd need the item or not.

Well, it turns out I didn't need half of the stuff I received. That's when I realized I needed to clean house. Bags and bags of baby stuff and maternity clothes went to a women's shelter near my house. What could be recycled got recycled and everything else into the garbage they went. I cleared out so much space and my mood actually improved. One of the biggest benefits to investing in a soul-nurturing space is the peace and lightness that fills the mind. Now I had room to create or just be. That's when I started writing Urban Goddess Mama.

Seven plus months later, I'm writing this blog post and take a look around my home. I'm going to be honest with you, things aren't looking as nice as I would like. Because I prefer to walk the talk, I  decided to do Cheryl's 4-step process with the living/dining/kitchen area:

1. Examine: Too much clutter on the counter, kitchen table, & bar between the living room & kitchen. Too many toys in Boo Creature's corner- makes for longer clean-up in the evening. Dirty windows, sill, and baseboards. Dried cat puke behind the cat tree.

2. Evaluate (what needs to be done): Boxes near the China hutch that need to be taken to recycling. Receipts on counter that need to be either recycled or filed in tax folder. Sort through toys & board books in Boo Creature's corner. Take recycling food containers off counter.

3. Eliminate: Took all the recycling out. Donated the toys and books Boo Creature no longer uses. Cleaned out food storage container cupboard and recycled all the containers or lids that I no longer used or are missing the counterpart. Cleaned windows, baseboards, & sills. Vacuumed cat tree and cleaned puke up. Recycled or filed receipts. Got rid of junk mail on kitchen table. Swept & mopped floors.

4. Enhance: Placed candle on clutter-free bar. Bought fresh organic fruit for the fruit basket on kitchen table. Saged the whole house.

The above process took less than 60 minutes (minus the donating toys & buying fruit part). As you can see, it doesn't take much time to transform your space into a soul-nurturing space that brings harmony and peace to your home.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Top 5 Depression-Busters

Okay, if you've read any of my posts or book, you already know about my battle with postpartum depression. In fact, I'm still fighting. The struggle is getting easier each day, but there are still days, sometimes weeks, when I feel like I'm at trudging through a sea of molasses. On these days, I turn to one or more of these 5 Super Depression Busters which I know will give me quick results.


1. Nap- This is my number one because I ALWAYS feel better after a nap, even a 15 minute cat wink. If I'm at work, I'll grab my black shawl and phone with a pair of headphones and lay down on the couch in the break room for my 30 minute lunch. I set my alarm for 25 minutes (so I have 5 minutes to "wake" up before jumping back into my work), put on my favorite relaxing album (Erik Wollo's Emotional Landscapes),
and cover my head with the shawl to create a warm dark space for me to rest in. I did this throughout my pregnancy and even now on the days I'm in the office I still use that same album and shawl when I need a quick snooze.
On my days off, I catch a nap with my daughter. The dishes, laundry, writing, and whatever else needs to be done can wait, especially when I'm feeling down and don't want to do any of those things anyways.

2. Bath- Whether I'm tired or wired, a bath seems to always get me into whatever mood desired; even a 10 minute hot soak will do the trick. I've even taken them while my daughter is up and I don't have any childcare. Essential oils and sea salts are the key. Lavender is my #1 go-to oil because of it's balancing properties. If I need to get going it will energize, while most of the time I need to relax the aroma will calm my nerves.

For an energizing bath, I'll add 5-10 drops of tangerine. For deep relaxation, 5-10 drops of camomile. Both in addition to the lavender. If I'm congested, 5-10 drops of eucalyptus will clear out my sinuses so I can breath the rest of the night.
For me bath time is my "me time," quiet time, and mediation time all in one. If I really want to get crazy, I'll light some candles and pour myself a glass of wine, but most of the time just having those 10-15 minutes to myself so I could find my center make the world of difference in my day.

3. Talk to a friend- I have at least 3 friends I know I can call any time and they will be there to listen to me. Sometimes just talking to someone seems to lighten my load or release the pressure I'm feeling. Of course, I'm not going to call my friends and burn them out with my problems every day- I have a wonderful therapist for that, but sometimes you just need to talk to someone who loves you and will listen without judgement. Two of these women are mothers and totally get it. I love that I have them in my corner rooting for me. The other one is will so be a mommy and I'm going to be there to return the favor. :)

4. Yoga- This is my favorite form of exercise. I do yoga stretches everyday, because if I don't, I'll be stiff and achy thanks to fibromyalgia. But if I'm really in a funk going to an hour yoga class at my gym works wonders on my body, mind, and spirit as the poses connect the three and help me find my center. Unfortunately I'm not able to always go to my class, so I improvise at home instead. Even 15 minutes of sun salutes give me the energy and calmness I need to get through my day.

5. Nature- Long before I got knocked up and had a baby, hiking in the mountains or taking a long
walk on the beach were my depression therapy. When I was nineteen I was diagnosed with seasonal affect disorder, a winter depression. I used to go to tanning beds in the cold months, until I go a job for a dermatologist...
When I moved to Portland the depression got worse, until one winter I said screw it to the rain and bought a good waterproof jacket. I hit the trails every week and guess what? That pretty much took care of the depression. Hiking in the rain gave me so much inspiration for my fiction novels and motivated me to write. There's something about connecting with Mother Nature that seems to energize, calm, and heal any emotional issues I may be dealing with at the time. Now that I'm a mom, spending time with the Mother is even more vital for my sanity. Like with the previous busters, I only need 15 minutes to feel the positive effects. Lucky for me I live in the Pacific Northwest where nature is right outside my front door.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Interview with Producers from When the Bough Breaks

Hello and Happy Monday. I have a great surprise for you to kick off the new week. Today I'm joined by Lindsay Gerszt and Tanya Newbould the producers of When the Bough Break- a documentary about postpartum depression.

I'm super excited about this film because I honestly believe that we should hear more women's stories of how they battled with postpartum depression. We are not alone and we can get through this difficult period in our life. There is always hope.

 As many of you know I released a short personal memoir last month sharing my story with PPD. Last year was a very tough one for me and hearing other mother's stories really helped me through those dark moments. That is why I am thrilled about this film and am so honored that Lindsay and Tanya allowed me to interview. So let's dive right in!

Me: Thanks so much for stopping by Urban Goddess Revealed. Tell us about When the Bough Breaks:

Tanya: "When The Bough Breaks" came about after I discovered I had suffered from PPD.  Brooke Shield's book "Down Came a The Rain" actually saved me as no doctor or therapist could vocalize what I was going through.  I then had the fortune of meeting Jamielyn Lippman, who filmed me for her documentary "Die Trying" about being an Actor.  We spoke of being mum's.  She hadn't suffered from PPD but was interested enough to partake in this journey with me to make a documentary.  We then interviewed Lindsay Gerszt, and realized she was a perfect fit in our puzzle. The three of us are now producing, with Jamielyn Lippman directing, and we are creating an important film to bring notability to this area of Motherhood that desperately needs attention.


Me: That is so great. This area definitely needs more attention. What inspired you to produce a documentary about postpartum depression?


Tanya: I wanted a child more than anything in the world, but at four months pregnant I found myself on the kitchen floor crying so hard there was drool coming out of my mouth.  I had no idea why, and so I began therapy.  The baby came, and I became depressed, badly.  I was not sleeping and I wanted to escape my life.  This made no sense.  I changed and became isolated.  My marriage was failing, and I had a hard time functioning. My OBGYN and therapist both wanted to out me on anti-depressants.  That didn't work for me.  I needed to understand why I was feeling this way.  I then read  "Down Came The Rain" by Brooke Shields.  For the first time I knew what was wrong with me.  I had PPD.  I overcame it with the help of natural supplements, no longer breast feeding, and going back to work.  I realized that many women suffer from this, and no one talks about it.  There needs to be light brought to this very important subject.

Lindsay: Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 women. The numbers are just going up.  Why are so many women and families suffering from this illness.  I look back at what I could have done differently after I had my son.  How could I have prepared better? I did not make sure I had an OBGYN that had experience with PPD. In fact, my doctor talked me into being induced as she was going away the day I was due. She did not warn me about the dangers of being induced. I also was not well during my sons first visit to the pediatrician after birth. The pediatrician, as wonderful as they were with my son, did not know how to deal with a mother who was clearly struggling.  What could they have done differently?  What resources could they have given me that may have helped. 

 The hardest part of having postpartum depression was the lack of understanding from my friends and family. Unless you go through it how can anyone really understand it?  The answer to this question is simple. Teach, tell your stories, do whatever you can to raise awareness!  Ask the questions that have gone unanswered.  Find a way to help others understand this epidemic.  Let them know they can help!  They can make a difference in our lives.  With understanding and without stigma women will be less afraid to tell their stories.  The more people this film reaches, the more awareness can be spread, the more lives can be saved.

Me: Yup, *nods* Describe your experience with postpartum depression.

Tanya: I was exhausted, sad, detached, I wanted to disappear.  I really believed my husband and child would've been better off without me.  My marriage was failing and we went to therapy.  I couldn't understand why I felt the way I did when so many moms were filled with joy.  The thought of even leaving the house or going for a walk was terrifying.  My friends left me alone thinking I needed to adjust to being a mom, when I was really sinking into a deep depression.  I also felt my husband was in a depression.  I had anxiety a lot, and I was terrified.  It was awful.

Lindsay: I had a strong feeling I would get PPD after the birth of my son six years ago. I had experienced severe depression and panic disorder when I was twenty years old in college. It was so bad that I had to leave school and stay in bed for half of a year until I got better, which was with the help of medication. 

I thought I had prepared for the worst when I got pregnant. I had a psychiatrist, who was watching me and my family was aware that PPD could happen. We also hired a night doula for three weeks after the baby was born so I could get sleep at night.

As prepared as we were nothing could have prepared me for the storm that came. Two days after I gave birth I went into a severe depression with OCD and anxiety.  Sadly my son also had severe reflux, which made it hard for him to eat, sleep or put a smile on his sweet face. For a mother who questioned everything, I didn't think I knew how to be a good mother for him. I had intrusive thoughts that told me I didn't know how to change the baby, feed the baby, hold the baby or be a good mother to my baby boy.  Because of my OCD, I had to have control over everything. This way of thinking is not good for relationships and many of mine suffered because of it.

When my son was seven weeks old, I changed doctors and found someone who was able to get me stable on a cocktail of medication.  The past six years has been a roller coaster of emotions. I have moments when I know I have a lot more work to do. One thing I have always had is hope. I have and will always fight to overcome PPD.  I find such joy in my son and look at him as a hero. 

Me: Anxiety is the one part of PPD that you don't hear much about nor the accompanying rage. PPD is such a roller coaster. My god, I remember feeling better when my daughter was nine months old and started sleeping through the night. I thought I had cleared the woods and then at right after her first birthday she started getting sick because she was in a daycare. Fussy sick baby, sleepless nights, stress, no support, and BAM I was back on my ass again.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. In conclusion what is the number one message of this film and when will it be complete?

Tanya: One in seven women are affected by PPD.  There is nothing to be ashamed of and we want to educate mothers, soon to be mothers, family, and the public that this is real, and there is help. When The Bough Breaks will be complete in early 2015. 

Me: Yay, I look forward to seeing it! Thanks again for the interview. For the rest of you out there here is a little preview of the film. Enjoy and have a wonderful week.