Wellness

The Time for Gratitude

Every night before I put Massimo to bed, I ask him to tell me what he’s grateful for.  He usually says “Mama, Nana, Da, Buddy, Robin, etc.”  Sometimes he leaves out a couple of people but it is always the people who he finds most important in his life.  It is never a thing.  It is always the people who he is grateful for.

Having just wrapped up Halloween (which by the way was super fun with a two year old–I’ll have to blog about that later),  we are now preparing for Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday for so many reasons.  Importantly, it is the only holiday that Madison Ave has not quite figured out how to bastardize.  It is also the best holiday because it is one that forces us all to consider what we are grateful for–instead of what we need or want.

A gratitude practice is good way to cultivate happiness.  Many wellness experts suggest the use of gratitude journals.  I find them very helpful.  If I write down three things that I’m grateful for in the morning, I am better able to focus on my haves than my have nots that day.  Prayer is also a good way develop a gratitude practice.  Thanking God for your individual blessings is a another way to focus on what we have rather than what we perceive we are missing.

The past year and half of my life has been rather hard.  I suffered a major professional disappointment and am quite sure that I was wronged.  I then removed myself from that disappointing and unhealthy situation and ended up in an even more unhealthy environment.  Now, I’m in a happy and healthy environment–for which I am very grateful.  Although my current environment is not perfect, it could have been so much worse–I could be stuck in my last environment without an end in sight.

During this time of professional disappointment, my heart has overflowed with love for my little boy.  Every time I look at him I am reminded of just how lucky I am.   The stars aligned and God shined his grace right down on me the minute he decided to put this amazing child in my life.  Focusing on the blessings of joy and love has (mostly) provided me the sanity to cope with the choppy professional waters I’ve been swimming in.

I do have to admit that sometimes its very hard.  Sometimes I just feel like throwing my hands up in the air, crying, and giving up.  But I know that the stars will again align and God will again bestow his grace on me in a way that will make all of this struggle worth it.  In the meantime, I’m forever grateful for the people that I have in my life–particularly Massimo.  Even a two year old can tell you that people are much more important than things or status or power.

Love,

J

 

 

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Fertility · Wellness

The Stars Aligned

Tonight my mom picked Massimo up from daycare.  While she was there, she had a more personal conversation with one of his teachers than I had before.  To be fair, I don’t often see this particular teacher because she leaves before I get off work. Massimo loves this teacher very much.

According to my mom, the teacher had a long struggle with miscarriages–she had three.  Then her catch of a husband left her after he had gotten another lady pregnant.

My mom had told her about my journey and how I got Massimo–so that she would not lose hope.

That got me to thinking.  I’ve been so consumed by other perceived injustices in my life, that I have kind of lost sight of what’s really important and how lucky I really am.

One time in my life, the stars literally all aligned perfectly.  I went through a full IVF cycle.  Just one.  One viable embryo was fertilized.  Just one.  The first time.  It’s a good thing too because I would not have put myself through that again.  And after all of that, I had a healthy baby boy.

The month or two leading up to the procedure involved reducing my estrogen to basically nothing and then increasing it substantially.  The reduction allowed the docs to start from scratch.  And then they pumped me full of estrogen to stimulate as many follicles as possible.

On a daily basis, I had to give myself shots.  Every day or two, I had the opportunity to visit the doc for a blood test and ultrasound.

The follicles that were stimulated produced eggs that were then harvested in one procedure.  After that, the eggs were fertilized individually.  Then the best two seven- (or was it five?) day embryos were to be implanted.   After the requisite number of days, only one embryo remained–and I was told that it was a beautiful embryo  (its hard to know what to compare it to–particularly when you are heavily medicated).

I think that’s pretty lucky.  I was lucky for two reasons:  (1) there was one good embryo, and (2) there was only one good embryo (not two).  It was an amazing celestial alignment that there were not more embryos because the standard of care for the IVF study was to implant two embryos.   I was so so so scared I was going to get pregnant with twins.  I was scared anyway but the whole idea of bringing two humans into this world at one time was more than I could imagine.

Even more amazing, is that the implantation of the one good embryo was successful and that I had a healthy baby boy nine months later.

The emotional ups and downs and the amount of mental energy that entire process took was crazy.  Kudos to the women who have been through the process multiple times–sometimes with multiple disappointments.   The amount of emotional and mental resolve that must take is much more than I can imagine.

 

Love,

 

J

 

 

Parenting · Wellness

Are you happy Mommy? Are you happy?

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Remember to take care of yourself first.

There are very few things that have more impact on my child than my own emotional well-being.

Massimo often asks me if I’m happy.  I usually respond, “of course, baby you’re with me.”  He smiles.

The other day, I changed it up a bit.  He ran away from me in the parking lot at school.  It wasn’t a very busy parking lot–no one else was there. But that’s not really the point.  He ran away and pretended it was a game and he wouldn’t come back.  I’m sure that some parent somewhere would have just the antidote to that situation.  But I didn’t.  I chased him until I could grab his hand and then swiftly walked him back to my car.

I didn’t say a word to him.

As we reached the car, he said “are you happy mommy, are you happy?”  In the sweet little voice that only he has.

I didn’t respond.

I put him in his car seat.  I got into the driver side and started to drive away.

Again, “are you happy mommy?  are you happy?”

Finally, I said “No, I’m not happy.  You ran away from me in a parking lot and you did not come back.  You could have gotten hurt very bad.  And that would have made Mommy very sad.  So, no, Mommy is not happy right now.”

He promptly exploded into a terrible cry.  I didn’t have to chastise him.  I didn’t have to really do all that much except tell him that I wasn’t happy–and he was immediately upset.

Now, I’m not certain that he will change his behavior the next time.  He may.  He may not.  I don’t want to set my expectations all that high.

The point is though, that children–even two-year old self-absorbed ones–want their parents to be happy.  My child wants that so much–that when I tell him I’m not–he cries.

It is impossible to be happy all time.  Sometimes life gets in the way of happiness.  Sometimes we just have a bad day, or week, or month, or year.

But here’s the thing–I don’t think that happiness is a place.  It is more of a state of mind.  In order to get to that state of mind, I often employ a variety of techniques.

Here are my tried and true methods of finding a little place of happiness (in no particular order):

(1) A gratitude journal.  Sit down on a regular basis and write down three things that you are grateful for.  When I focus on the things I have to be grateful for, I become less focused on the things that I am unhappy about.  I employ this with Massimo every night–I ask him what he is grateful for.

(2)  Exercise.  It increases my endorphins and my sense of well-being.  It also helps quiet my mind.  I find yoga particularly helpful–an hour and half in a hot room will make me forget all of my troubles.  But any form of exercise will do.  Just find your flow.

(3) Pray.  I’m not the most religious person or “best” the Christian you will ever meet.  Of that much, I’m certain.  I’m also certain of God’s grace.   I see it everyday in my son and  I experience it in nature.

(4) Meditation.  According to a Zen proverb, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”  Meditation is amazing.  It gives me time to just sit still–time to release all of the negatives and just focus on the moment.  It may not work for you, if it doesn’t–just try siting still for five minutes–without interruption.

(5) Journaling.  I find if I write down what’s on my mind, it is easier for me to let it go.  If I can let it go, it no longer consumes me.

(6) Nature.  Being outside in nature has a calming effect.  It can be anywhere–somewhere fancy on an exotic trip.  Or at the local park.  Being outside in nature makes me realize that I’m part of a bigger universe–that any problems that I face are just hiccups along the way.

(7)  Reaching out to someone for help.  This can be a therapist or a friend.  It is just helpful to have someone else to talk about my worries with.   This is why social networks (not necessarily online social networks) are very important to single parents.

(8)  Cry.  If all else fails, I go for a drive and cry.  I cry big crocodile tears.  Or if I am feeling saucy I wait until Massimo is in bed, have a glass of wine and cry those same big crocodile tears.  Either way, when I’m done feeling sorry for myself, I pull up my big girl pants and move forward because I’ve got things to do.

I think it is even more critical to recognize that children are not the person to talk about your worries with.  Children rely on their parents to take care of them and their parents’ emotional well-being is important to them.  They do not need to know their parents’ problems or be their parents’ therapist.  They are children–and if there is one time that life should be all about rainbows and butterflies–it is childhood.

Of course, basics are important.  Sustenance.  A home.  Heat.  Food.  But once those basics are met, a parent’s own well-being seems to be the next most important thing.  If the parent’s emotional needs are met, they are better able to meet the needs–both emotional and physical– of their children.

If you have other methods, please share!  If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please like, comment and share.

Love,

 

J

 

Parenting · Wellness

Present Moment Awareness: Life with a Two Year Old & Technological Distractions

“Can you hold me mama?”

My sweet little boy said as I was putting him to sleep tonight.  My Massimo likes for me to put him to sleep in my bed.  I often look for distractions while I’m waiting for him to rest.  Sometimes, I also issue threats for him to stop squirming and lay still.

While I was waiting tonight (as is often the case), instead of cuddling with this moving little monster, I scrolled through my social media.  Tonight, he reminded me what was important.

“Of course I’ll hold you sweet baby.”

It isn’t only at bedtime that my darling has had to remind me to put away the distractions and focus on the present.

“No hello Mommy! No hello,” removing the gadget from my hand to make clear that it is  time for me to play.

Over the past week or so, Massimo went from a toddler who played by himself most of the time to nearly a preschooler starving for attention and a playmate.  This has been a huge shift for me.

Here’s why:  when he played by himself, I could do whatever I wanted while he was playing.  I could scroll through social media mindlessly.  I could watch television.  I could read a book.  I could do house work.  I could cook.

I could do all those things–yet– I would still be here if he needed.  And I’d feel like I was still spending time with him.  But I wasn’t really.  I was often somewhere else.

This past week, he actually has wanted me to play with him–which required me to focus on the present–not whatever distraction I’m was favoring at the time.

His favorite toy of the moment is a cash register and the food that he likes to sell to me. “What you want?  What you want?  What you want mommy?  What you want?”  He says repeatedly.

He probably would repeat himself anyway because that’s just what he does right now. But I find myself so distracted (mostly with social media) that he will ask me over and over until  I wake up and realize that this person who I made, the one who I adore, just wants actual interaction.  I usually do too.

Here’s to putting up that “hello” and focusing on what’s in front of me because nothing in that hello is half as entertaining or remotely as fulfilling as focusing on the present with Massimo.

Wellness

A Day to Myself!

The very next weekend after my friend’s baby shower two things happened: (1) I graduated from Yoga Teacher Training (Yay!), and (2) my Granny died (not so yay). I mentioned this because today of all days had a major technological disaster directly related to (2) while engaging in behavior I learned in (1).

Today is a holiday–Columbus day.  This holiday has been celebrated for as long as I can remember.  But everyone seems to have their panties in a bunch about American history lately, so there seems to be some sort of effort to remove it from our holiday calendar.  Nevertheless, today (for now) was still a holiday.  Not only was it a holiday but it was a holiday on which my little love was still in school.  Which means, I had the day to do WHATEVER I wanted.

What I wanted was to do everything all at once but nothing at all.  I wanted to go to the gym.  I wanted to cook something healthy for me to eat during the work week.  I wanted to start this blog (because its something that I’ve been meaning to do for the past five years but finally got up the nerve to do it).  I wanted to take a long bath, ALL BY MYSELF, and without an audience.  I wanted to meditate. I wanted to take a nap.  I maybe wanted to get a pedicure or a massage.   I wanted to do all of these things and do them all very well because TODAY was MY DAY….until it wasn’t anymore.

I started off pretty good.  Half-assed it at the gym.  Bought food from the grocery store, cooked it.  Took a bath (by myself).  And I started this blog.  I then sat down to mediate (which I started doing in (1)).  Inevitably, the phone rang.  And the answering machine picked up.  Fake Verizon left a fake message and the message went on and on and on.

Here I am trying to meditate…trying desperately to find my ZEN… but fake Verizon is leaving a five minute message on the answering machine, which I know will just lead to a perpetual beep beep beep.  AND when if my dad hears the message, he’ll call fake Verizon back and give the fake caller his credit card information.

Not wanting my parents to be the subject of identity theft, I get up from my meditation go into the living room and hit DELETE.  The answer machine in its computerized voice responds with “Delete OLD MESSAGES.”

I tried to do something–ANYTHING– to stop the machine from deleting old messages because that WAS NOT what I wanted.  I wanted to delete the fake Verizon message and then go right back to my mediation.  BUT NO.  The archaic VTECH answering device deleted all the messages EXCEPT fake Verizon’s, including the last message that my family had received from my Granny.

Granny’s voice was deleted.  Her sweet voice and her sweet Happy Anniversary! song.

I immediately went through several stages of grief:  Disbelief–it didn’t actually delete HER message did it? If I keep checking, I’ll hear her voice again right?!? Anger–what the literal F Verizon?  How is it possible that there is a fake Verizon calling from a phone number that registers as Verizon on the caller ID.  Despair–I cry my eyeballs out.  I’m so so so sad.  Bargaining–I will google it and find out how to recover deleted messages from that answering machine.  I will PAY to have the data recovered. . . . SOMEONE MUST be able to restore the message. Acceptance–I can’t recover it on my own.  I don’t know if a data recovery expert can even if I pay him a bazillion dollars.  We had good times and I’ll remember her.  I didn’t mean to delete it.  Accidents happen.  I will (try) NOT to beat myself up anymore over this.  I will (try) to accept that sometimes (often) I make mistakes.  I accept my complete and utter failure at all things technology (this doesn’t DEFINE me).  I will carry on.

And now I’ll go get my chatty kathy love bucket from daycare.  Farewell Mommy Day.

 

Love,

 

J