Reflections

Letting Go {amidst the purls and the knits}

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I must confess…

Letting go has never been easy for me. I hold too tightly, keep myself from change.

But in knitting…

If you hold too tightly, if you don’t let go, then you will never make a stitch. You can’t make any kind of progress at all.

It’s a simple enough concept, but I keep coming back to it. When I started knitting, my kids were sick with the flu. My son got it first. He was so sick. Sick with a high fever every night until Advil calmed it down.

Holding tight to our babies-that’s what mamas do best. I’m not suggesting letting go in any sense. 

But for me, I had to let go of the fear. The worry of, “Will he be ok??”. I wasn’t in charge of his healing. I had to trust that my prayers of petition to God and my limited ministrations would get him through.

And he did. He got over the flu. In spite of my fears and the paranoia fed by constant news updates telling me how horrible the flu is for children. (Thanks NBC.)

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But back to knitting. I know I’ve been talking about knitting a lot. And that’s just because I’ve been doing a lot of it.

On vacation I knit square after square. It’s so grounding and therapeutic and easy to do while riding in the car, visiting with family. As a person who fidgets, knitting is bomb.

When I began learning how to knit, my work was a tangled mess. My stitches were loopy. I couldn’t figure out the direction of the needles. I would get nervous once I had formed thread on the needles, dreading letting go. Dreading the wrong stitch.

Isn’t that just how life is? We don’t want to mess up. So we hold on to things. We hold on and hold on, telling ourselves,”I can’t do that. I don’t want to fail. I don’t have what it takes”. 

But that’s wrong. I’m in the wrong for thinking that. I can’t is powerfully debilitating.

I can’t

It can cripple your life.

Your will.

Your desire to grow.

To be a stronger & better version of you. 

I’m not saying that who you are is not good enough. No, never. 

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What I mean is that you will fulfill whatever prophecy you proclaim for your life.

If it is “I can’t do that“, then you won’t.

If it is “I’m afraid to try“, then it will keep you from new experiences.

I say these things from experience. I say them because I’ve believed “I can’t” about things for far too long. Because I’ve allowed fear instead of a desire to be vulnerable and different and broken to pervade my life. To control me.

I’ve feared letting go.

And I can fear it no more.

It’s time for change.

Bring on spring.

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This poem is my own.

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Motherhood

Stinky, Poopy Diapers {and what they’ve taught me about being a mom}

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I really hate poopy diapers. Not always, mind, but much of the time.

It happens at inconvenient times. At least, inconvenient to me.

As if to prove this point my daughter, reeking of dirty diaper, sat down right next to me as I began this post.

So I got up to change her, as I always do. As must be done. As is my duty as a mother.

But let me ask you. As a mother, do you ever feel resentment when confronted with this? Frusteration? Feel inconvenienced?

Sometimes I forget that my daughter is not toliet-trained like her brother. And giving her the care she needs seems hard.

Maybe that’s the seasonal depression talking. It happens in the winter. I know I’m not the only one in that. I know that January is a hard month to be a mom. Fyi It’s often difficult to blog during this month. When its cold and when isolation and sickness bring challenges.

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But that is not the point of this post.

Awhile ago I started reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I fought with the idea of reading it. I knew reading would push me, change me. And I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

But finally, 10 chapters in I feel like I am getting somewhere. And I feel like I’m maybe beginning to learn.

Ok, but what’s that to do with poopy diapers?

“The ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations for our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.”

-from Desperate, Chapter 10 by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

One day after reading the bulk of chapter 10, I looked at my daughter who had decided to fill up her britches. I was im the middle of something, but instead of feeling inconvenienced I felt a mental shift. I found I could manage a smile instead of a frown.

This is not always the way of things. I am no Mary Poppins. Human I am, human I will remain. But that brief blip. That small, slight shift. I hope it will become more and more a part of me as I seek to treasure my children. Treasure not just the happy and the beautiful moments but also the difficult, the hard times.

Not because I’m some kind of higher-than-thou person. But because to learn to treasure my role as a mother I need to continually learn the art that is shining light where there is dark. A smile in the face of a challenge. Gladness of heart in the face of trying circumstances.

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Motherhood is balance. And I think what I’ve most struggled with is the idea that to be a good mom, I need to give up on taking care of me. Which is misplaced. I don’t have to give that up to be a good mom. It’s not my time or my self-care that needs to go but my negative thinking that damages my relationship with these sweet babies I love so much.

Perfect mom syndrome? Haha far from it! (A fly on the wall today would have seen something else entirely.) But I’m learning. One step at a time 🙂

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All photos are from Unsplash.

Books, Lessons In Literature

5 Things Meg March Taught Me About Being a Wife & Mother {from author Louisa May Alcott}

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Honestly speaking…I don’t like Meg. I love Alcott’s Little Women. But I’ve always had a fondness for Jo. She seems more likeable for her blunders and awkwardness. Meg is kindof…prim, proud and careful about everything. Perhaps being the eldest such things were ingrained in her mind.

But even though Meg is not my favorite I was in for a shock when I began part 2. When I read chapters 28 and 38 I thought, “My goodness. Our stories are remarkably alike.”

Join me as I thumbed through these much loved pages to find 5 common, yet unique pieces of advice that Louisa May Alcott has hidden within this most beloved novel.

5 Things Meg (March) Brooke Taught Me About Being a Wife and Mother

 

Cook What They Love

At the beginning of her marriage, Meg struggled with cooking. She made too much, or made too little and didn’t know quite what to make.

“She was too tired, sometimes even to smile, John grew dyspeptic after a course of dainty dishes and ungratefully demanded plain fare.”

Little Women, Chapter 28

It took Meg awhile to find what worked for her family and how much was just enough. She had to budget wisely.

 

On Saying “I’m sorry”.

One of my most favorite parts of Little Women is when Meg decides to can currants. She attempts to make currant jelly (with currants harvested from her own garden no less!) with disastrous results.

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Meg is distraught. And even more so when her husband comes home from work with a friend to stay to supper! Everything is a mess. Meg can’t understand why her husband John could think she could make supper in her sorry state. John doesn’t understand why his wife can’t just put forth a bit of effort and make them a small supper.

And then he appears to laugh at Meg for getting caught up in her failed jelly. This proves more than she can take and she declines to make supper.

Long story short, she remembers her mother’s words of advice and everything is made right when she makes up her mind that

“(She) will be the first to say, ‘Forgive me, John’.”

 

How To Live Within Your Means

It was Meg’s job to “keep the books”. She dutifully kept track of every penny she spent. Meg could be frugal when she had mind to be. But sometimes it got to her.

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Meg was often in the company of Sallie Moffat. She was a good friend but a rich one. Meg on the other hand was not rich and felt it. She was not envious but merely hated being pitied.

Because of this she bought “trifles” here and there until the trifles increased to the point of a length of not-so-trifling silk fabric.

It was $50 then. Hard to figure what that translates to today with inflation and whatnot. But apparently it was worth as much as a man’s new winter coat.

Because that’s exactly what her husband denied himself because of Meg’s frivolous purchase. In the end, Meg sets all things right. Sells the silk to Sallie, buys her man his coat. Peace restored and wisdom gleaned.

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The Babies and the Beloved

The question of affection is a common issue. One I have struggled with many a time. It can be so hard making sure everyone gets your time, your love.

Meg found this out too.

She made her twins, Demi and Daisy, her world. She didn’t cook (they hired an Irish lady for that) and she was always in the nursery. When the babies stopped teething, stopped needing her so much, then she turned to her husband.

But he was not there. He was at a friend’s house. An environment that was welcoming, friendly and most importantly not lonely.

John had not given up on his wife, he had waited 6 months for things to change. But because of Meg’s decision be a solo parent, she and John were drifting apart.

The solution? With Marmee’s advice, Meg was determined to 1) ask for her husband’s help with the kids 2) make time for John in the evenings and chat about his interests and 3) start going out more with John on dates!

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On Taking Care of Yourself & Accepting Help

How easy it is to not do these things. And how quickly it can destroy you. Self-care and the occasional help are vitally important as a mother. All people need this. We are not solo beings but creatures who need people. Need community, support and advice. We need each other.

Meg here relies a lot on her mother. She gives advice and is a seemingly bottomless pit of motherly wisdom. She reminds Meg that Hannah is ready and waiting to be a help with the kids.

I want to say, “Duh Meg of course you need help girl! You’ve got twin babies!” But I know it takes a lot of reminders for me to get it too.

Pockets of alone time, girl time, excercise time even grocery shopping time (haha); these are all times that are necessary for a good mom to become a healthier, stronger and even better one.

 

Conclusion

Meg is a good girl, really. She’s smart and gentle and giving. She still seems a bit too perfect to me but I loved looking at all the issues we have in common. I wonder if Alcott knew that 149 years later, people would still identify with and greatly adore her little book?

~Rachel

Reflections

Bravery in Motion: 10 Ways to Help Overcome a Panic Attack

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Here is a subject that is not easy for me to talk about. And yet I feel a super-strong pull to write about it.

To be transparent.

I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for 2 years. It came back with a vengeance fairly recently. I felt so defeated and broken. Alone. And scared. I realised I needed a game plan. Change. And a greater push back in the area of self-care.

I say “push-back” because that’s what it is. As a mom I literally have to push back against the heavy burden of day to day demands and carve out a bit of time for me.

I research. I claim time to be alone while others watch my children. I invest in me. I seek out wise counsel. I realise that mind, body, spirit and emotions are connected.

And I look at all the things that have helped me fight against the pull of an attack.

This is my list of things I have learned throughout the years. It is by no means a complete list. But I hope it can be a help to get you thinking about what best benefits you. You are not alone in your struggle, my friend.

 

10 Ways To Help Prevent a Panic Attack

 

1. Deep breaths.

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The simple act of focusing on your breaths and nothing more can have a calming effect. Oxygen flowing to your brain & body is a good thing 🙂

2. Focus on magnesium.

Add magnesium through diet. Many many Americans, myself included are deficient in magnesium. It helps so much to add more magnesium-rich foods. Ancient-minerals.com states that “Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.”

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Lately I love drinking nettle and chocolate mint tea and eating pumpkin seeds to up my magnesium. There are tons of foods to choose from…most nuts and seeds, black beans, bananas, avocados, brown rice. All good.

3. Cut that sugar.

Decrease or cut out sugar completely. This article is one among many that explains how a high fat and high sugar diet does not work in your favor. Sugar depletes magnesium and cutting it out, hard as it may be, will work in your favor and help decrease your anxiety. (Trust me I have a huge sweet tooth and this is hard for me too but it helps!)

4. Epsom salts.

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A good soak in the tub with 1-2 cups of Epsom salt (depending on your body weight) is very beneficial for mind and body. I purchsed the book Epsom Salt: Natural Remedies for Health, Beauty and Home, by Josephine Simon a few months ago and I have enjoyed learning more about this stuff.

Epsom salt soaks will relive aching muscles and will give your body a good dose of magnesium via absorption through your skin. Just don’t use soap as it interferes with this absorption.

5. Chanting (out loud or to yourself).

Chant a soothing short phrase and focus on it completely. Sometimes I choose a scripture and other times its just whatever helpful phrase comes to mind.

6. Carry a small object with you.

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I kept a lavender sachet in my pocket for awhile. Something that gives you comfort and peace. Things that engage one of your senses is good for diverting anxiety.

7. Herbs can help.

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This tea is very soothing. A bit on the strong side if seeped for too long. I also love Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea.

Camomile and lavender are well known for their soothing properties. Passion flower as a tea, supplement or tincture can also be helpful. I’ve also heard good things about valerian root capsules. Check with your doctor and do your research to find what works best for you.

8. Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy can work wonders. Again chamomile and lavender are great. I also love the Skin Restore synergy blend. Formerly called anti-scar stretch blend, it is a lavender and neroli combo from Plant Therapy.

I use it in my car diffuser or simply smell it straight from the bottle.

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Love this stuff.

There are tons of resources out there for essential oils to use for anxiety, calming and sleep. All of these categories will help with anxiety.

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For me, the best and most soothing essential oil has always been lavender 🙂

9. Get a pet.

Since we got a cat I have felt more calm & at ease. I love my kitty Stella. She gives me much joy.

Did you know that cats purr for different reasons? They purr when they are happy, but also purr to calm themselves or to help heal themselves. I can’t help but wonder if a cat’s purr can soothe and heal the human spirit as well.

10. Guard your thoughts.

An episode can sneak up on you so easily. 9/10 times I notice it happens when I let my thoughts totally run away with me.

I have to focus on what I am thinking about. Know when I am feeling overwhelmed and know how to put a halt to the anxious thoughts. It isn’t easy.

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But with focus and practice it can happen. Don’t discount what you are worrying about. Recognise it as a real issue but rationalise it. Sometimes I get to thinking that an issue is the most important thing in the world when its not. What is important is my health and balancing self-care with responsibilities.

~~~

I want to add that it is ok, completely ok to seek help. Go to counseling, take a perscription for awhile if your doctor agrees it is needed. Do not be afraid to seek care for yourself. You are not a failure if you need outside help to get you going. I know it can be so easy to feel defeated but you’re not alone. There is help & hope ❤

~Rachel

Books

Book Review: The Homemade Housewife

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Introduction

This e-book was written and published this May by Mrs. Kate Singh. Because I loved it and found it to be a valuable resource I wanted to post a review on my blog. I will share a summary, things I loved, a small critique, and little tidbits from my favorite chapters.

Summary

This book is a marvelous collection of thrifty tips and wholesome advice. The chapters cover topics like decorating, cleaning, self-care for the mama, urban farming, parenting resources, homeschooling and ideas for free fun.

About the Author

Kate Singh writes both motivational and fictional books to inspire and entertain. She currently resides in California with her family.

Visit the author’s blog here.

~*~      ~*~      ~*~       ~*~

Review

What I Loved…

The reasons I really enjoyed this e-book are similar to the reasons I loved 2 other books of Kate’s. (I read The Lazy and Cheap Housewife and The Funky and Frugal Housewife previously.) From the first, I saw that this book was relatable. Kate is honest about the fact that she is no Martha Stewart and doesn’t want to be. I breathed a sigh of relief. Me too.

I loved her encouraging tone that was coupled with her unique and fun style. I love things that have a different slant and this book definitely falls into that category.

But what I loved most? Her books are built around this tiny seed of an idea. This belief that I could live a full and happy life while practicing frugality. This intrigued me.

Not So Much…

I can only think of two areas for constructive criticism. They are minor things but I feel that 1) a bit less repetition and 2) a bit more organization would improve readability. The repetition increased the length of the book, which was 3,368 pages on my kindle. I loved the huge collection of all things thrifty but there was quite a bit to go through. The chapters and headings were good but sometimes there were parts that were hard to follow because of a change of topic.

My Favorite Chapters

My favorites were chapters 6 (care for the mama) and 8 (about gardening). But I also enjoyed parts of chapters 3 (food), 5 (cleaning), 9 (kids) and 10 (free fun). This book is a compilation of tips from all of Kate’s previous books so some things I had read already. But regardless of this and the fact that I’ve been practicing frugal living for 5+ years I still found quite a few new things to put into practice.

Chapter 6 is mostly about self care, which I found to be so relevant and helpful. Kate titled this chapter “Beauty for the Lady of the House and Ways to Avoid Burn Out”. There are many helpful ideas about exercise, primping, investment in hobbies, me-time breaks and ways to make homemaking easier.

I loved reading about boredom busters and ways to reduce burnout. There were ideas for staying emotionally and physically healthy and many ways to improve one’s image with little cash.

The part about self-love and pride went straight to my heart as I remembered that yes, I can still dress up and look nice even though I don’t go much of anywhere. This quote also spoke to me:

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All things gardening was covered in chapter 8. I found this particularly helpful as I had just planted my garden when I read this book in early June. I loved the tips about where to find free gardening supplies, re-growing plants and how to make compost without fancy equipment. I love gardening and saving money in this area makes me so happy. I’m learning how to get the most of my plants by dividing and regrowing them. It’s a lot of fun 🙂

And here are a few things I loved about chapters 3, 5, 9 and 10.

Chapter 3 is all about food and the kitchen. I made a mental note of the snacking tips, ways to make meals healthier and reminders of cheap and healthy ingredients. I was suprised to learn I could save money on cat food without compromising too much on quality.

Chapter 5 pertains to cleaning. It’s a challenge for me to make cleaning fun but Kate inspired me anew. I was (and am still) going through a decluttering process here at home. Kate had a lot to say about this and helped me to see it as an easier job instead of a never endingly difficult one.

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Chapter 9 reminded me of what kids really need for health and happiness. There is a lot in this chapter. Minimalist baby care and food, homeschooling help, fun kids activities, preschool ideas, help establishing a first aide kit, preventative care and ways to make birthday parties cheap and fun are all included here. Sometimes I forget how little kids really need. How much they love simple things. And how I’m killing it as a mother even though most of the time I don’t see it. 

Lastly, chapter 10 was full of great suggestions for places to go and have fun without spending much $. There were so many activities…some that we do now (like the library) and others that I hadn’t thought about in awhile (such as a picnic at the park). Some of these ideas are for the family and others are more geared towards just the mama.

Conclusion

This book is full of so much goodness. It was motivating and encouraging to read. An excellent resource for any homemaker practicing or seeking out ideas for frugal living 🙂

Check out The Homemade Housewife along with Kate’s other helpful books here. All of her books are $0.99, which I love!

~Rachel