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.