My Mommy Moment

Today began a lot earlier than I thought it would. My toddler woke up to the sounds of my teacher husband getting ready for work. Teachers start their day pretty early. I should have walked straight to the french press, but got caught up in toddler breakfast, then the next thing and the next thing and then the next.

About two hours into our morning, I felt frustration as tightness in my chest and instinctively shouted at the top of my lungs. This scared my daughter, obviously, and suddenly I was back in the present, drowning in shame for losing my cool. It hit me: I had spent so much time regulating my daughter’s emotions that I neglected my own. So rather than stay in the house, battling it out all day, I decided we would go on an adventure. When I started backing my vehicle down the driveway, I had no idea where we were going to go, but I knew it needed to be outside and involve coffee.

After making a split second decision, we headed to Parkville, MO, to walk around downtown. Having only been to Parkville a handful of times, I wasn’t incredibly confident in my decision, but I knew there was a coffee shop and a playground.

We walked up and down the streets, learned a little about trains, met a few new people, and I got my glass of iced coffee. She held my hand as we walked along the sidewalk and she listened when I told her she needed to stay close. When we braved an antique shop, the only time she struggled to listen to me was when she saw a package of gum. She didn’t climb on any of the furniture or pick up any breakable items. She honored our family rule: use only one finger to touch.

By the end of our adventure, I knew that I’d made the right decision in getting us out of our home and in a new environment. I needed a change of scenery to help me regulate my own stress and internal, shame-filled, dialogue. I needed a cup of coffee to take a deep breath. I needed a space that allowed me to get centered again so that I could connect and parent in a meaningful and intentional way.

My reason for sharing my story is this: as parents we sometimes forget our own needs because of the needs of our children. As much as I’d like to think that doesn’t impact my ability to parent my daughter, sometimes it does. There are times when I can white-knuckle it to bedtime but some days I can’t. Taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of my children.

If you’ve experienced a parenting moment like this one: I HEAR YOU! Take some time to consider how you process your own emotions. Is it pretty easy for you to do manage your own anxiety in the moment or is it challenging? If you’d like more information on how to develop greater awareness around your own personal emotional landscape, I’ve written an article that may be helpful to you: Just Do the Dishes: Self-Awareness.

Was this piece impactful for you? Feel free to leave a comment! I welcome comments on my posts and encourage open, respectful and purposeful dialogue. I reserve the right to delete comments that insult, degrade, or shame other commenters.

Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash

Supplemental Material: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck”

Oftentimes therapy can be more effective when clients are intentional with reading supplemental material outside of the therapy session. In my clinical work, I often suggest books, movies, video clips, and music to my clients that support their personal work, challenges them to think differently, and help them feel known and not alone. The resources discussed here are used regularly in my work and are helpful for a variety of struggles. I do not receive any benefits for sharing this supplemental material on my blog.

Title of Material: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living the Good Life by Mark Manson

Type of Material: Self-Help Book on boundaries

How to Access it: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living the Good Life is available to purchase on Amazon as well as numerous book stores. I also suggest checking your local library for any of my resources.

Publisher’s Synopsis: “There are only so many things we can give a f*ck about, so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.”

How I learned about this resource: I was looking for a new resource to address having boundaries and was told about this book three times in one week by three different clinicians.

Why I suggest this resource: This book is honest, somewhat crass, and a good reminder to care deeply about things that matter to you, and create boundaries around or separation from those that don’t.

Who may benefit from this resource: Those who struggle setting boundaries in their life and find that they are prone to being pulled in different directions emotionally. Also, as someone who often finds herself battling with perfectionism, Manson reminds his readers that without struggle we do not grow and avoiding problems only create more problems. His willingness to say the hard things is refreshing.

If you’ve already read this book, what was impactful for you? I’d love to hear about it! If you want to share, please leave a comment below with your own experience. Remember to check the Terms and Conditions for guidelines on commenting.

Supplemental Material: “Daring Greatly”

Oftentimes therapy can be more effective when clients are intentional with reading supplemental material outside of the therapy session. In my clinical work, I often suggest books, movies, video clips, and music to my clients that support their personal work, challenges them to think differently, and help them feel known and not alone. The resources discussed here are used regularly in my work and are helpful for a variety of struggles. I do not receive any benefits for sharing this supplemental material on my blog.

Title of Material: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

Type of Material: Self-Help Book

How to Access it: Daring Greatly is available to purchase on Amazon as well as numerous book stores. I also suggest checking your local library for any of my resources.

Oftentimes therapy can be more effective when clients are intentional outside of the therapy session. In my work, I often suggest supplemental material to my clients that support their personal work, challenges them to think differently, and/or help them feel known and not alone. The resources discussed here are used regularly in my work and are helpful for a variety of struggles.

Publisher’s Synopsis: Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.

How I learned about this resource: During a particularly raw part of my own life, someone shared Brene Brown’s original TED Talk with me. Since that moment, I have been impacted by her work and the power of her words on numerous occasions.

Why I suggest this resource: Brene Brown’s work has been so impactful, I believe, because we needed to hear it.

Who may benefit from this resource: Anyone can benefit from reading her work.

Have you read this book? If so, feel free to share how it impacted you in the comments!

Together on the Journey

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

About six months into my relationship with my husband we went with his family to California to camp in Yosemite National Park. One afternoon he took me on what he described as a “pretty easy hike”. Prior to California, my definition of hiking was limited to the rolling hills in northern Minnesota, so a “pretty easy hike” in my book looked more like a leisurely stroll down Nicolette Mall in Minneapolis on a sunny June afternoon.

At the beginning of the hike there was a sign that stated the hike would be about three miles there and another three miles back. What I was not made aware of was the dramatic incline at the very end of the hike and it was ALL STEPS. About halfway up the staircase my legs started to buckle. My first major hike at a completely different altitude than I was used to and I was struggling. Hard. There were many times I looked at Kyle and said, “Nope. No further. I’m done.” He would smile, encourage me to take a seat, and wait with me until I seemed a little less exhausted. Then he would calmly ask me: “Do you want to keep going?” With his patience and encouragement, I made it significantly further than I thought I would at the beginning of the incline.

Truthfully, I don’t think I would have made it half as far on that hike by myself. I’m pretty sure I would have walked back down to the base the minute I felt the first side cramp: nope, not today muscles, not today. Can you picture it?

Throughout my life, I have observed in myself and others, that when the road gets rough, choosing to lean into trustworthy and meaningful relationships can be incredibly powerful. Hearing, “Yea, I’ve been there, too” or “I had no idea you were carrying so much. Thank you for telling me”, can bring some light back into a dark and hopeless place. We simply cannot do it alone.

I’m not going to say it isn’t scary though. What if Kyle wasn’t a patient person? Or was having an off day? What if he would have left me behind out of boredom and I’d gotten hurt? The “what ifs” can be staggering, filling us with fear that doing something challenging, risky, or hard with someone else might cause us more pain than if we’d done it alone. Yet, walking through life with those that love us well has the power to deepen those relationships beyond our wildest dreams and help us grow.

As a therapist, I have the honor to sit with clients at various places in their life. We talk, listen, laugh, and cry, knowing that being together on the journey gives significance to the pain and challenge. We wrestle with inner-dialogue and question lifelong beliefs about self and others together. We create new experiences and we write new narratives together. We work together because in relationship healing happens.

Who in your life would walk slowly with you up the side of a mountain only to turn around and head back down with the end in sight but not reached? Who would you want to join you on your journey, whatever the journey may look like? For me, those people look like a ragamuffin mix of friends, family and a therapist…or two. I often lean into each of those relationships for support, encouragement, and real, straightforward, honesty.

If you find yourself thinking, “Who in the world could be that for me?” I hope you know that is a really great question. For me, my journey of finding and developing these relationships began in a therapist’s office. He helped me see, with compassion, that I had the ability to influence the relationships I was in; my life is forever changed. If you’re asking yourself who could be that for you, think about the relationships in your life:

  • Can they sit with me without trying to fix my problems, change me, or exert their influence over me?
  • Are they someone who shows compassion and empathy in a variety of relationships and situations?
  • Do I trust them to protect my story and keep me safe?

If you feel like you want to develop that kind of support but aren’t sure how, therapy may be a helpful relationship for you. One way to locate a therapist in your area is through websites like Psychology Today and Good Therapy. You’re able to access numerous therapists based on your needs within a certain distance from your home. Thousands of therapist uses these site to provide easy access to their contact information. Another resource I refer clients to as they navigate and develop relationships is the book Safe People.

Was this post helpful or encouraging to you? If so, please leave a comment below. I encourage open, honest, and authentic dialogue and, therefore, reserve the right to remove any comments that demean, degrade, or insult other commenters as stated in my Privacy And Disclosures page.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash – while this picture is not of me and my partner, it is of the hike that we were on all those days ago – way before the stairs.