Month: May 2015

Don’t Worry, I’m Not Dead

Don’t Worry, I’m Not Dead

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been updating the blog much and have been a little late replying to comments. You may also have noticed a lack of activity on my Facebook page and for those of you who join us weekly for the Mommy Meetup Mondays blog hop, you may have wondered why it didn’t go live until 2 in the afternoon versus the stated start time of 8 AM.

Well, the good news is, there’s nothing dramatic going on that should cause anyone any concern. As I stated in my last post, things have been busy with the home buying process and all the other fun stuff that comes with being an adult.

There is also the little issue of not currently having internet access. With the move coming up, we’ve had to cut back unnecessary expenses, which meant getting rid of cable and internet for the time being. Which, of course, makes things like blogging a little difficult.

To be honest, it was extremely rough at first. Until I received a message telling me I’d used up nearly all of my phone’s data, I was supplementing my media needs with my cell. Once that safety net was gone, I felt a weird sense of mourning. As someone who rarely leaves the house, I suddenly felt trapped. There was no mindless TV watching to numb the nagging sense of loneliness. No blog posts to read. No way to publish my own blog posts. No Pandora to listen to while cooking dinner. No chatting with my online besties. I found myself wondering how I managed to stay sane before we had the internet.

Slowly, but surely, it came back to me.

I hooked up the record player and started putting on albums while I’m cleaning the house. I moved the boombox into the kitchen and dug up some old mix CDs to listen to while I cook. I started reading again. I’ve spent time playing my guitar everyday. I’ve drawn some pictures. I’ve watched DVDs that I’d long since forgotten I’d even owned. I’ve played more with my daughter. I’ve actually had to use my noggin and get creative to stay entertained.

While I can’t say there haven’t been a few times when I’ve missed being able to look up the answer to some ridiculous question in an instant, it’s been nice not to feel the pressure to keep up with all the social media nonsense. To just relax and enjoy my family and my life has been a wonderful experience.

Since I have to drive 30 minutes to get to my mother’s, I have had to contain on my blog-related work into the short bursts of time I can grab when I visit her. I find that it has forced me to focus more on my content, versus just publishing something. It has also forced me to use my time more wisely.

Before, I would spend a ridiculous amount of time on social media and call it “work”. Now, I have to make the most of my time and really prioritize. As much as I would like massive engagement and great promotion, content comes first in my book.

It is my hope that by the time I once again have unlimited access to the web that I will be able to use it more wisely. I don’t want to go back to the zombie-like version of myself, constantly glued to a screen. I want to enjoy my life and in turn, write beautiful posts based on those experiences.

So, bare with me while I work this out. I appreciate all of your support and hope that I can come back to this with a renewed sense of vigor!

10 Things I Do When I Should Be Writing

10 Things I Do When I Should Be Writing

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer.

Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. In all honesty, I’ve wanted to be a writer for longer than I can remember.

Among the boxes of family photos and newspaper clippings, you can find stories that my grandma jotted down for me while I dictated them to her, well before I even knew what a “writer” was. I’ve always had a million stories inside me, just dying to find themselves on paper.

I was the kid that got excited to write papers and book reports. When we’d have creative writing lessons in school, I always found it hard to stop at the maximum word limit. For many years, I was selected to attend the Young Writer’s Conference. I got in trouble for “writing notes” to friends in class, only to shock the teachers when the “note” was actually some story I was messing around with. I’d sit in my room and fill up every scrap of paper with one-off scenes and outlines. When I finally got a computer, all bets were off. Now I could write as much as I wanted and have it all in one place!

Of course, this didn’t stop me from writing when I should have been taking notes in class, or from jotting down ideas on receipt tape (or any other available scrap paper) at every job I held. Writing has always been more of a reflex for me. It’s something I have to do.

When I started this blog, I figured it would be a fantastic outlet for all the words that build up in my head over the course of the day. I thought it would be a good way to keep my skills sharp and to motivate me to work on other non-blog-related pieces. Never did I imagine a scenario where I’d find myself struggling to keep up with it.

It’s never a lack of ideas. I have lists upon lists of potential post ideas, to say nothing of the endless lists of story ideas.

No, the problem is a lack of concentration. I only get the urge to write when I should be doing something else. The reverse is also true. When I should be writing, I can usually be found doing one of the following things:

  1. Reorganizing my desk. I mean, you’ve got to have a clean and functional work space, right?
  2. Writing lists of things to write and their arbitrary deadlines. You must have a plan! You just must!
  3. Scrubbing all the walls of my house. Who can concentrate with all those fingerprints staring at them?
  4. Reading. For inspiration, obviously.
  5. Refreshing my Tumblr feed. Because I might miss a really great post that makes me think of high school.
  6. Pinning a bunch of recipes I’ll never make and projects I’ll never do. Pinterest is the devil.
  7. Checking Facebook. How else am I supposed to know what my friends and family are up to? Plus, other people’s drama could inspire a great story or post.
  8. Daydreaming about all the great interviews I’ll do on morning talk shows when I’m finally a best seller. You have to be prepared for these things.
  9.  Dancing around the house like an idiot while singing at the top of my lungs. You’ve got to stay in shape somehow
  10. Complaining that I don’t have enough time to write. Clearly, that is the problem, not my complete inability to stay on task or manage my time (thanks, ADD).

So, there you have it. If you’ve noticed a significant drop in the frequency of my posts lately, that should just about sum it up.

All kidding aside, life has been busy lately. We’re in the process of buying our first home, I’ve been trying to stay on track with my new fitness goals, and focus on some other projects…all while chasing a demanding toddler around.

Life can be incredibly hectic and things can get lost in the shuffle, but in the end you always find yourself coming back to what you love.

And what I love, is putting words on the page.

Homemade Hair Mask

Homemade Hair Mask

Before I became a mother, Sunday nights were “Spa Night”. With the help of some candles and incense, I’d transform my bathroom into an oasis. I’d put one of my many face masks, put some deep conditioner in my hair, and let it work it’s magic while I soaked in my lovely scented bath and read a good book with my favorite music playing in the background. After I was sufficiently pruny, I’d rinse off and slather on some luxurious lotions before painting my nails. It was my favorite part of the week and helped me feel ready to take on the days ahead.

As the proud parent of a two year old, I can’t remember the last time I had a true “Spa Night”. Whenever I’ve attempted to take a bath, it’s ended with my daughter in the tub with me. I’ve accepted that the days of pampering myself are long gone and have come to embrace the giggles that accompany our shared bath time.

That said, in my pursuit of more “me time”, I decided to attempt a mini-pampering session on my own while my daughter was watching “Frozen” for the millionth time. After reading a fantastic post about all natural treatments for your hair, I decided to whip up my own hair mask.

Instead of following one of the recipes in the original article, I sort of used it as I guide while I raided my kitchen for ingredients and came up with my own concoction.

What I did:

In a small bowl, I mixed together the following ingredients:

  • Half of a banana
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 egg yolk

It came out looking like this:

It smelled delicious and the texture was much more frothy and less goopy than I had anticipated, which was a major plus, in my book.

I worked it into my hair while it was still dry and let it sit for 20 minutes while I put on a face mask and painted my toes. Then, I rinsed it out and shampooed and conditioned like normal with my One N Only Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner.

How it worked:Before I did this treatment my hair was a frizzy mess that basically felt like straw.

Afterwords, my hair felt great! It’s a lot softer, a little shinier, and a lot less frizzy. What’s really amazing to me is that it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, which has been a problem with some of the deep conditioners that I’ve bought in the past.

What I’d do different next time:As with most things life, there were a few downsides to this treatment. There were little gobs of banana that were difficult to rinse out of my hair (although, it may have been easier without a two year old trying to shove me out from under the water). After I got out of the shower, I had to brush them out, so next time I will definitely be putting the mixture through the food processor instead of mashing it up with a fork.

I did find that it started drying on my hair, so I rinsed it out after 20 minutes, although I had intended to leave it on for 30. Not really a big deal, but next time I will probably cover my head with a shower cap after I apply it to help hold in some of the moisture.

The Final Verdict:I will definitely be doing this treatment again! 

Next time, however, I may request that Almost-Husband takes The Princess to the park first so that I can have some time to indulge in a relaxing spa break without the fear of my toddler having a meltdown because I wiped some boogers off of her face. Now that would be bliss!

I would love to hear how this treatment works for you! If you have any tips or tricks that could improve this mask I’d love to hear that, too! Just leave me a comment below!

The Truth About…My Yoga Pants

The Truth About…My Yoga Pants

Yoga pants.

Every mom has at least one pair. I’m fairly certain they’re issued for free at the hospital when you receive your baby. Or maybe my memory of the day is a little hazy, it’s hard to tell at this point.

What I do know, is that I have 4 pairs of yoga pants (and an ungodly amount of leggings) in my dresser. I also know that these are the only pants I really wear. Unless I’m going somewhere that requires me to look like a real person, I change from my “pajama” yoga pants, to my “nice” yoga pants and that’s as good as it gets.

I also know that my yoga pants have been used for yoga exactly once: for a morning yoga session at Beatlefest last year.

Sure, they were purchased for the sheer comfort of the elastic waistband and the fact that they are the only “acceptable” form of not getting dressed in the morning, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty when I take my morning walk to the store up the road. To passers-by, I probably look like I’m walking for fitness. The truth is, I just need a soda to start my day because caffeine.

Somewhere along the line, I told myself that since I’m already wearing work-out attire when I wake up in the morning, I’d get up and work out before changing into real clothes. Every night I tell myself that this will happen. Then I put it off. After I load the dishwasher, I’ll work out. After I get Almost-Husband’s coffee ready, I’ll work out. After I make lunch for The Princess, I’ll work out. After she goes to sleep, I’ll work out.

Day after day, I promise myself that I’ll take time for fitness “later”. I can come up with a million excuses to keep myself from spending a half-hour working up a sweat and building a healthier body. It’s a hard cycle to break.

There’s quite a few changes I would like to make in my life, and because I am who I am, I feel the need to make them all at once. It’s extremely difficult to silence that little voice in my head that believes it has to be all or nothing, but that is what I’m attempting to do right now. A complete overhaul of my existence isn’t going to happen in one day. In fact, taking on too much at once is often what causes things to backfire and keeps me exactly where I started.

So, I’m picking some smaller, more achievable goals with the hopes of building on those accomplishments and making new changes as I adapt to these new habits. Among these goals, is putting my yoga pants to use.

In order to accomplish this, I’m setting my alarm a half-hour earlier than normal. I’ve even entered into an arrangement with my mother to stay on track. Using my extra time in the morning, I am building a new routine. After taking some time to welcome the day, I will be launching into one of my many work-out DVDs that have been gathering dust for the last who-knows-how-long. I’ve decided to do a different one every day to help alleviate boredom, and I am keeping my daily walk to the store in place.

I know I’ve mentioned my fitness hopes before, but I never really had a concrete plan. This time, I feel pretty confident this time around. Time will tell, but look forward to the day when I finally have a worthy fitness update!

Wish me luck! If you have any tips for starting a new regimen or a plan that has worked well for you, please feel free to let me know in the comments!

The Mother Of All Mommy Problems

The Mother Of All Mommy Problems

It’s ten o’clock at night. Your little one is in bed, undoubtedly dreaming up new ways to drive you crazy in the morning, and you’ve done all the housework you can possibly handle. You breath a sigh of relief, smiling at the beautiful silence that surrounds you. You’re free. You can do whatever you want.

All day long you’ve dreamed of this moment. You can finally read that book, watch that TV show, work on your future best-selling novel. You’re free to pee without an audience. You can finally sit down for more than 5 minutes without hearing, “Mom, I need…”. You can take a break from all the yelling that motherhood brings with it.

Then it hits you. You’re free…but all you can think about is sleep. Sweet, beautiful, hopefully uninterrupted sleep.

A familiar ache takes shape in your heart. There’s no time to do any of those things. Not tonight. Not with this exhaustion settling deep in your bones.

Tomorrow’s to-do list is long, after all. There’s dishes to wash, laundry to do, meals to cook. There’s diapers to change, books to read, time-outs to give. You’ve got errands to run, you’ve got appointments to keep, and you really ought to squeeze in a shower somewhere.

Tomorrow will take a lot of strength. Just like every day before it, and every day to come. You need your rest. With a heavy sigh, you head to bed. Maybe you’ll breeze through that list. Maybe you’ll find a way to squeeze in some time for yourself.

Sound familiar?

Recently, I’ve been locked in a fierce battle with this exhaustion. After spending every waking minute of my day catering to the needs of others, I find myself unable to expend the energy necessary to take care of myself.

After a particularly rough day, I found myself thinking about the importance of self-care. By neglecting my own needs, I have put a considerable amount of strain on my family. It’s very easy for a mother to feel as though she must always put herself last, even if she knows better. From a young age we are taught that “good” mothers sacrifice everything for the well-being of her family. It’s an extremely hard lesson to unlearn.

When it comes to my own self-care, I often find myself in the trap of putting it off until “later”. Then, when “later” finally arrives, I don’t have anything left to give–even to myself. This is a bad enough habit on it’s own, but when you are someone who struggles with depression, it’s a double-whammy.

As I thought about this, I began to wonder what I could change about my daily routine to allow me some more time for myself. Obviously, the precious time after my daughter goes to bed would be better suited to more relaxed activities. Mediation, some TV time, reading…those things that require very little energy would be best saved for this time. But what about all those other things I long to do?

Since my daughter no longer takes naps during the day, finding time for me during daylight hours has been a struggle. Even when she’s happily playing on her own or engrossed in a movie, I find it hard to use that time for myself. That good ol’ mom guilt kicks in and I tell myself to wait until she’s asleep. I wouldn’t want to be ignoring her after all!

There is also the matter of not wanting to start something that I know will be interrupted. It’s like waiting for a bomb to go off…very hard to relax!

Both of these things are self-defeating excuses. Sure, it would be nice to have a few hours a day to myself to focus on my hobbies and interests, but that’s just not feasible. Instead of sitting around wishing things were different, I need to get my butt in gear and focus on what I can change.

That little voice telling me that I’m ignoring her by working on something that’s important to me? It’s a liar. If she’s content on her own, I have nothing to worry about. In fact, it means I’m doing a good job as a mother. She feels safe and secure enough to enjoy her budding independence without me hovering over her. I should totally be using this time for myself. Instead of puttering around the house hating the fact that I’m not writing or reading or what-have-you, I should be doing those things.

As for the interruptions, knowing that my daughter is excellent at entertaining herself, I’ve decided to block off some time each day specifically for her to play by herself. She’s old enough to understand boundaries and that during this time, mommy is only available for things like potty breaks, pull-up changes, boo-boos, those sorts of things. I’m not talking long stretches of time here, just a half hour, twice a day. Then I’m free to play whatever game she chooses!

There are some things I do for me that she can easily become a part of that for some reason I find myself putting off. She can play the tambourine while I play my guitar, for example. She can color beside me if I get the urge to draw. We can do manicures and pedicures together. It’s endless really.

I am also reinstating my “no housework after 7” rule. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I found myself catching up housework after my little one went to bed. Looking back, I was a lot happier when I had a quitting time. Once 7pm hits, housework is off limits.

These are just a few of the small changes I have decided to make. It’s going to take work to stick to it, but it will definitely be worth it. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life, it’s that balance is everything. As mother’s we cannot expect to feel fulfilled in our lives if we always put ourselves last. We cannot focus on caring for others when we feel empty.

I wholly expect a few setbacks as I work out the kinks in my life. Those setbacks are where we find growth. The road to happiness is full of twists and turns. Above all else, we must learn to enjoy the ride.

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Cape Town, South Africa