Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tips from the Zen RN: May Cause Miracles

I am starting a new series of resources that have been really helpful to me in search of the zen life. This book is at the top of my list.

I have had a really negative inner-voice for all that I can remember of my life. A REALLY negative inner-voice. If I were to be truly frank, I would say that the voice in my head is a raging bitch. She tends to criticize me in every way that she can.


A few years ago, I happened upon some podcasts of Gabby Bernstein's and fell instantly into adoration for her candor, kindness and optimism.

In the spring of 2013, I found myself deep in a depression and anxiety filled darkness. When I saw this book on the shelf at my library, I snapped it up and began the work the very same day. My life was completely changed in that forty days- no exaggeration.

Gabby Bernstein

The daily work(taking only a few minutes per day, preferably in the morning) truly transformed my inner critic into a more loving voice(hey, it's not complete magic- the bitch still rears her head but now I know how to turn my fear around). It took my anxiety from a 10 to a 2. Those changes alone were true miracles for me and I have now purchased the book for a multitude of friends, who reported similar dramatic change.

This book is now in my toolbox of tricks to make changes when life overwhelms me and I have read it three times now. Highly recommended if the voice of fear has taken over your mind on a daily basis.


What books have you read that have changed your life? I would love to hear from you!

Friday, August 21, 2015

School Supplies and Gratitude

The end of another summer break has come to pass.


I love having my children home on my days off and long to live the summer over again. (Just one more time, Universe? Please?) Alas, it is not to be.

So, with the end of the summer comes the inevitable back-to-school shopping. Summer's easy livin' shorts, tanks and flip-flops are replaced with school clothes one size up from last year as the kids have grown by leaps and bounds under the summer sun. Feet are crammed into new tennis shoes as the children look longingly at their flip flops, dirty and ragged from a summer of adventures.

And, then. The school supply shopping. Ugh. You know my frustration, don't you Mamas(and Daddies)?

back to school Lists which seem to grow every year.

Searching high and low for the one item that the teacher was very specific about(brand, type, color) and going to several different stores before -eureka!- you find it!

Dragging your children along so that they can buy the items that suit them best, but finding yourself frustrated one minute into the several hour shopping trip because no one wants to be there(including you).

Feeling as though you are scrounging out every last penny to make sure that they have everything they need.


It's frustrating, isn't it?

This year I found myself nearly in tears as I shopped with my three kids. We were in Target(ironically, my happy place) and were trying to get the majority of the supplies for my three children in one trip. Each child had a list that was a full page long. The school supply aisles were full of children and parents, several of whom were screaming at said children. I was trying my best to ensure that my kids were getting the right supplies and that they were able to pick out colors and such, when they could. I wanted this to be a FUN experience, a little boost for them to get back into the swing of school. However, we were all just flustered. After an hour and a half and tears from two of my three children, we determined that we had everything that we needed less the items that we would need to make a special trip to another store for.

The cart filled until it was literally heaping and things kept falling of the top and toppling to the floor. I dreaded pushing the cart to checkout. Just looking at the amount of supplies in the cart made my checkbook tremble. But, we pushed our heaping cart(ever so carefully, while occasionally picking up the boxes of crayons that kept sliding to the floor) to the check out and, as expected, I was a little shell-shocked at the amount. The amount was about what my family would pay for about 3 weeks of groceries. I handed over my debit card with a grimace and could feel my kids watching my reaction as I did so. This had not been the fun back-to-school outing that I had hoped for.

We packed up our bags and walked out to the car. As I was loading the many bags into my trunk, I noticed the family in the car next to ours. There was a Mom and her son getting into a rusted, older model car. She held onto one, single bag that appeared to be full of school supplies and he proudly paraded to the car bearing his new backpack on his little back. I could hear a snippet of their conversation. She was saying that they would buy just a few supplies per week until they had them all and trying to reassure him that it was okay if they didn't have them all on the first day- everything would work out. They made their way into their car(which took several tries to start) and drove off with their small bag of school supplies in tow. We sat, humbled, in our car which was full to the brim with the supplies of my three kiddos.

It was good to be humbled.  I deserved to be humbled, for I have so much to be grateful for:

I am grateful for being able to buy my children everything they need and some of what they want.

I am grateful for my children's education at a great district.

I am grateful for my children's teachers and know that they would never put an unnecessary item on that list.

I am grateful to have the money to donate for families that aren't lucky enough to have all that they need.

My children and I sat in the parking lot and talked about that gratitude for several minutes. The three crumbled supply lists in my hand that I had been cursing moments before had become lists of grace, a reminder of our own abundance- an abundance of finance and a great abundance of love.

So, in the midst of the blog articles and social media statuses that are damning the purchase of many school supplies for their children, I choose to be grateful.

I am grateful for my children's school supply lists and the abundance that they represent for my children. Abundance of education. Abundance of items that will help foster their growth this year. Abundance of love from their family and their teachers and school staff.

I am thankful for the start of a new school year, even as a mourn the end of summer with my littles. I will do all that I can to hold onto the gratitude as the blessings of fall roll in.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Motherhood and the End of Summer Sadness

I must admit that I love the lazy days of summer. On non-work days, the kids and I stumble out of bed when our bodies are ready to be roused and spend the day together, at home or off on an adventure somewhere. The pace of our lives becomes so relaxed and, spending nearly every waking minute together, we become even more familiar with each other and my heart sings with joy to get to learn a bit more about each of my children.

Then there are the final weeks of summer. I admit to a rising feeling of panic at the end of summer vacation. The first day of school means not only that our summer days together are over for this year, but also that each of my children are now a year older. Each year my children seem a little less my babies and a little more property of the world at large.

For years I didn’t talk about my end of summer feelings. My social media fills each year at this time with parents screaming out how ready they are for the summer to be over and their children to be in school again. I long wondered if I were alone in my feelings of sadness, if I were the only mother that clung to the last days of summer as if they were my life raft in a turbulent sea.

I know that there will be many blessings in the upcoming school year. I look forward to those moments of watching my children learn and grow. There will be many moments of joy.   

And, when school begins, I will bask in the knowledge of how lucky I am to have healthy, growing children that are a year older. I know as a pediatric nurse, that not all parents get to have that joy.

I will bask in the knowledge that my children are in a great school district and will thrive and learn under the tutelage of their teachers.

I will bask in the knowledge that I am lucky enough to work outside the home only a few days per week and have enjoyed many summer days with my children.

I will bask in the knowledge that my children will thrive under fall’s routine and find joy in the extracurricular activities that they will each choose.

There will be so many joys to come in the fall season. I know this.

But today and tomorrow and every day until that first day of school, I will allow myself a moment of mourning for these summer days of this year that will never come again. Never again will I hold my children in my arms at these ages. Never again will this summer come to pass. There are many wonderful days ahead, of that I am sure. My sadness of the passing of this summer does not mean that I believe the days ahead to be anything but wonderful. Yet, if given the choice, I just might choose to live in these days forever. A forever after of a mother with her young children immersed in the bliss of summer days.  If I tuck enough memories deep into my heart, maybe I can have just a bit of that forever after.

Back to school blues

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Night Anxiety


I love weekends. Especially lazy summer weekends spent soaking up the sun and enjoying time with my family.

I also love my job. I am grateful to be able to work as a pediatric nurse and to do so part-time and with no on-call hours.

Yet...Sunday nights, even starting as early as Sunday morning, I always get the same anxiety. I want another day, another week, another month of weekend days. I don't want to wake in the morning to face my work voicemail and e-mail full of crisis. I don't want to leave my kids with Grandma- I want to be home with them.

I don't usually speak much about my Sunday anxiety. I feel terribly guilty about it. After all, I am blessed to have a job at all- let alone one that I am passionate about and I am also lucky to work part-time and have a Mom and Mother-in-law who take turns taking care of my children. There are so many blessings. I know this. Yet, the anxiety- sometimes mild, sometimes sickeningly strong- persists.

Recently I tentatively broached the topic with some friends and co-workers and found that they also struggle with the Sunday Night Blues. It felt sadly freeing to know that I'm not alone.

I don't remember having these feelings before I had children, but I imagine that I sometimes did. I think what brought my anxiety to a whole new level was the myth of work/life balance for working Mamas. I call it a myth because it is- there is no possible way to balance both working a high-stress job and being a Mama, although we each do the very best that we can. So, I spend my weekends trying to conquer everything that couldn't get done during the work week- housework, errands, bill paying, etc. all while trying to pack in as much precious time with my children as I can. When Sunday evening comes, I am often exhausted and feeling every bit of a failure as a mother because it never seems to be enough and work is looming in the morning.

This Working Mama(and stay-at-home Mama) business is rough. Rougher than I could express verbally to someone who isn't deep inside the grind themselves.

However, I'm ready to turn the Sunday Night Blues on it's head. I'm going to do my damnedest to be the best nurse and the best Mama that I can be and I'm also going to do my damnedest to let go of the chorus of "not enoughs" that are always running through my head. These years, hard as they are, are quickly passing and I am tired of spending one night every week in misery. I am determined to push aside the worries as much as I can and be present with my ever-growing children. They deserve for me to be present with them and I deserve a break from worry and self-flagellation.

Beyond the worry and persistent "not enoughs" that run through my mind is an opportunity to tap into the present moment and mine every bit of gold out of the precious seconds of the here and now. I am ready.

Gratitute Mindfulness Present