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Deepen Your Relationships

Healthy relationships take time, patience and a concerted effort, in order to develop properly.  Some relationships may feel seamless, while others may not.  Have you ever felt like giving up on important relationships, simply because you felt “stuck”?  I must say, I have fallen into this “stuck” feeling plenty of times.  Often, though, the lack of hope that many of us feel in our relationships can be attributed to lack of creativity in the relationship.  There have been relationships in my past, which have been damaged by misunderstanding, lack of communication and an inability to be creative.  I now hold myself responsible for overlooking the importance of nurturing some of my most valuable relationships.  During the times when I was supposed to consider the ways in which the other party needed to be loved, I chose to assume that the love I was giving was enough; unfortunately, such a narrow way of thinking caused valuable relationships to whither away.  Still, valuable lessons come from our most challenging experiences.  Here are five important relationships, which we can all take the time to nurture a little bit more:

Self
-Care for yourself, DAILY!  Whatever energizes you, makes you feel excited about life or helps you to connect with others, focus on doing more of that.  Self-care is the most valuable care we can give to anyone.  Developing a deeper bond with ourselves can be challenging for many. Start small and try not to overwhelm yourself.  Taking as little as ten minutes a day to breathe deeply can greatly benefit us all.  As soon as the weather permits, use nature’s greatness to tap into your self-care.  A daily walk can help you discover new ways to reenergize and focus on your personal care.

Spouse
-Our spouses need to know how much we still love and care for them. Without the verbal and physical expression of our love, sometimes, our spouses can feel left in the cold. Leaving a random love note for your spouse can keep the romance alive in a relationship. A love note is a short, simple and easy way to remind a loved one of how much you care for them. Grab a post-it note and tell your spouse you can’t wait to see them this evening. Remind them of how sexy they are. Whatever message you choose, this unexpected gesture of love can change the outcome of your spouse’s day.

Children
-Our children are born to feel connected to their parents. When this connection is broken, challenges in the parent/child relationship can occur. Scheduling ten to fifteen minutes of daily bonding time with your child can drastically improve this relationship. Play your favorite songs in the morning to get the positive energy flowing with your child. Parents can even schedule a few minutes of horseplay with their child, each morning or night. Children, no matter their age, love to see their parents act silly. Join in the fun and think of ways to bring the joy back in your relationship with your child(ren). For older children, what if you took the time, each day, to listen to your child’s thoughts without offering an opinion? Creating a happy and trusting environment for children deepens their connection to their parents.

-Parents
When was the last time you sent a hand written note to your parents, telling them how much they mean to you?  Mothers, especially, are soft and pink and enjoy the thoughtful things in life.  An unexpected love letter from his/her child will make any parent’s heart melt.  If letters aren’t your thing, can you plan a date night for you and your parent(s)? What if you had a blast from the past night?  Our parents have so many wonderful stories to tell us.  Allowing them to reminisce on past, enjoyable experiences not only keeps their spirits up, but telling stories with our elders helps to keep their minds sharp.

-Friends
-When was the last time you actually picked up the phone and called your close friends? Many of us having forgotten to use our phones for their most basic function.  Develop a habit of making your relationship with your friends feel thoughtful and cared about.  Even if you can’t call a friend as often as you would like, can you remember an important date or event, which would require you to call and congratulate them?  Whatever you choose, think of thoughtful and creative ways to make your friends feel appreciated.

-WorkPlace Relationships
Many of us spend precious moments at work, which takes away from our time with loved ones.  While there, why not make the best of our work experience?  Professional relationships do not have to feel daunting or forced.  Sometimes, a simple acknowledgement of our coworker’s efforts can go far.  When was the last time you thanked your coworker for contributing to a group project?  Can you leave a thank you note in their mailbox for carrying your load while you took leave?  Whatever the gesture, reminding our coworkers of their value in the company makes our work experience just a little bit more tolerable.

Maintaining a healthy connection with our spouse, our parents, our children and our careers can challenge us, from time to time.  Remembering that our connection to others gives great meaning to our lives can help keep us all on track.  Building connections with important people in our lives is beneficial and crucial to our long-term happiness.  If rebuilding stronger relationships with your loved ones is part of your self-care journey, give yourself permission to take this important step.  Determine which relationships energize you. Put a plan in place to keep this going.

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PostPartum Depression Can Build Connections

Postpartum Depression is tricky. It sends all kinds of mixed signals to the ones who love us most. It teaches family and friends to distance themselves from a woman in distress. Postpartum Depression helps strangers pick a part a mother’s actions, without understanding her needs. It teaches mothers that she is wrong for not connecting to her child at all times. On the surface, Postpartum Depression looks like anger, rage, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, confusion, smiles, sleep deprivation and more, all wrapped together. On the inside, it feels like “HELP. NOW. PLEASE!” Far too many new mothers receive these unwanted gifts, after bringing their children into the world. When treated, PostPartum Depression loses its power. It no longer strips families of their unity. PostPartum Depression does not have to take lives.

Like many women who bear children, I, too, experienced PostPartum Depression. After having my son, I was already prepared for the warning signs, though. I knew there was a possibility I would experience the emotional, after effects of childbirth. The stress of caring for a crying child while my own heart bled was hard. “Could I do this?”, I thought. “Could I care for a child, build my career from scratch, maintain a healthy relationship with my husband and thrive amongst friends and colleagues, while in my mid-thirties?” The answer was, YES! Pacing myself was key to my emotional success, so I learned.

There were days when I wanted to turn back the hands of time and “un-mommy” myself. I struggled. I needed help. I needed time. I needed space. I needed self-discovery. I needed reemergence of self. I needed self-care. I needed patience and understanding from others. I needed support. I tried to battle through, hoping my fervent efforts gave me the recognition I was craving; the recognition that proved to the world how much more I loved my son than I loved myself. Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? Aren’t mothers supposed to neglect their every need, in order to meet her child’s needs? Not this mother. Not anymore!

Postpartum Depression taught me:

It Does Not Just Go Away
In order to battle this ugly beast, mothers greatly benefit from remaining proactive and seeking treatment. Our role as a mother is the most valuable one many of us will ever take on. The impact of our actions can have lasting affects on our children; therefore, seeking treatment is key. Understanding that any form of depression requires us all to understand its purpose. While it does not always produce the results we desire, reminding ourselves to address our issues keeps us in a healthier mental state throughout each day.

Tell The Truth
PostPartum Depression loves liars; it feeds off of a parent’s dishonesty. PostPartum Depression wants you to surrender to the fear of being judged. It taunts you into believing that your story has no value. Give yourself permission to be free. Confide in someone who values your life’s experiences. Remember that what you are going through matters. Our children require us to get the help we need, so we can thoroughly service their needs.

Parents With PPD still love their children
No matter how many times I cried for seemingly no reason, no matter how many times I lashed out at my husband for misunderstanding my distress, no matter how many times I wished for a moment to breathe without my child being in my presence, I still knew I loved my son and would fight until the bitter end to protect him. My love for my son was the not in question. Remembering his worth constantly reminded me of my own, which is how our bond remains in tact.

Make My Needs A Priority
Luckily, I was waiting for PostPartum Depression to show up. I began making changes during the early part of my relationship with my son. I stopped doing it all. I started asking for help. I took more frequent breaks. I took the cape off and gave myself permission to be human. Remember to give yourself what you deserve, too, Parents. What hobbies interest you? When was the last time you wrote in your journal? Have you had a nap lately? Each time I gave myself a break, each time I napped, each time I reconnected with friends and family, each time I found time to be alone, I reconnected better than ever with my baby. Choosing to reconnect with myself allows me to find the patience and understanding needed to raise a child. I experience less emotional triggers when I choose not to get it all done at once. When I put myself at the top of my list of priorities, I experience an awakening in my personal relationships. My loved ones benefit greatly.

Forgive Myself Often
PostPartum Depression can make loving mothers feel like a failure. It can make a mother with the best of intentions feel as though she is unequipped for the job. PostPartum Depression can take mothers on a long, emotional rollercoaster ride. After you’ve had an emotional outburst, after you’ve distanced yourself from your child, after you’ve pushed everyone away, ask yourself for forgiveness. If you had it your way, PostPartum Depression wouldn’t exist. You’d be the perfect mother. Luckily, life forces us to use our challenges as tools for change. PostPartum Depression may be ugly. It can, however, teach women the importance of reconnecting with self, in order to connect with the ones they love most.

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Let it Go

Trying to get it all done can be one of the most honest, genuine, unrealistic and selfish acts we can commit against ourselves. The pressure of people pleasing, being successful, raising a family, being a good spouse and finding time for ourselves can overwhelm even the calmest of souls. Connections between parents and children get lost because of hectic schedules. Spouses find themselves bickering over who forgot to put the ketchup away. The dog won’t stop barking because he’s anxious as all hell. The kids won’t stop screaming their heads off, throwing their food or asking for your time. The house is a mess, too! Oh, and let’s not forget about the mounds of letters, emails, text messages and other chores you have to find time to complete.  Does it have to all get done? It can surely feel that way, sometimes. Wine, Anyone?

Why have we submitted to so many unrealistic expectations of ourselves? Many of us forget what relaxing or quiet time even feels like.  Like the rest of the world, I find myself sometimes feeling anxious and overwhelmed when trying to meet everyone’s needs. The thought of remaining calm through the chaos sometimes seems unrealistic. Then I examine the patterns of  my calm moments from the past and realize-nope; it’s me! I’m neglecting myself again.  Self-neglect is usually an unconscious choice we make when trying to help better the lives of others. The assumption  is usually that we must pour everything into everyone else’s cup before ever pouring into our own. Ultimately, this genuine, yet damaging behavior ends up leaving us feeling depleted and resentful; important relationships become strained.  Inner-peace becomes nonexistent.

I often wonder about the types of relationships children would engage in, if parents modeled more examples of self-care.  What would life look life if more people chose to make themselves happy, too?  I wonder what would happen if more love and affection were displayed at home? What if we let it all go sometimes?  If I want my child to benefit from my parenting style, what does he need? My son needs his parents at their best. He needs us both to feel as emotionally, mentally and spiritually connected to ourselves and each other as possible.   Taking care of myself allows me to connect more to son and my husband. Doing so allows me to examine my challenging behavior and make more informed decisions for my relationships, going forward. When I embrace my selfishness, I am ok with not getting it all done. I learn to respect my ability to take it all in, one moment at at time. Then I go out and treat myself.

Many of us serve others with the best of intentions.  Building strong and positive relationships with anyone must be led by love of self. Is it such a bad idea to just relax? Why not let the dishes pile up and go out for some family fun? Why does date night ALWAYS have to take a back seat? What if we could all live in a place where disruption had no choice but to flee? What if chaos and confusion felt more like distant cousins, rather than our better half? Nothing is outside of our reach. Finding happiness in our children, in our spouse, in our career or any other external force is limited. Our true happiness starts and ends with the choice of self-preservation.

 

 

No Entry!

With Donald Trump’s presidency in full swing, new courses of action for families have taken effect. Recently, Trump called for an Immigration Ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. His executive order was designed to temporarily prevent Muslim immigrants from entering the United States, while heightened security and vetting procedures are developed. The ban’s impact is being felt across the world by all ages, races and groups of people. The emotional impact is being felt in homes, at work, in schools and beyond. Memories of love and hope are being disrupted by fear, anxiety and anger. As people across the world take to the streets in protest over the ban, I ask myself: How will this immigration ban affect families, long-term? Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which parents can support their children during these confusing times.

1-START TALKING
While it is true that many of our young ones do not have the advanced language to express their understanding of the world’s changes, many are intuitively aware of the rising tensions in their country. By keeping the dialogue open, parents encourage their children to express their feelings, and to use their critical-thinking and language skills, too. While school provides our children with current events, their most impactful lessons begin at home. Our children do not expect us to have all of the answers, Parents. They simply want us to be vulnerable about our fears and concerns, while giving them permission to express theirs, too. Children entrust their caretakers with more, the more transparent the caretaker is. Parents! Can you open up the space for honest dialogue with your young ones?

2-APPRECIATE! APPRECIATE! APPRECIATE!
Taking precious moments for granted can cost us in the long-run. What will it take for you to create positive memories with your loved ones? Give yourself permission to focus on irreplaceable, sacred moments. Appreciate your loved ones more. Celebrate your good deeds and successes more. Ask that good woman to marry you. Cook your husband’s favorite meal when he least expects it. Thank your partner for taking out the trash and cleaning the bathroom. Say thank you to your mother for supporting your dreams. Repay your Father the loan he gave you ten years ago. Allow your children to eat ice-cream for breakfast, sometimes. Apologize to your sibling for the nasty fight the two of you got into. Start that business you’ve been dreaming of. Tell your daughter that her pink hair looks cool. Stay up late and tell stories. Let your son get messy with his friends, and smile. Thank your co-worker for being a supportive teammate. Whatever you do, give thanks and show appreciation for the special forces in our lives.

3-PRACTICE RESPECT AND TOLERANCE
Tolerance and respect for others must begin at home, through everyday practices. Parents! Can you encourage your children to ask questions about people, places and things, which they are unsure of? What if you choose to demonstrate tolerance and respect by celebrating the different characteristics of each family member? Can you highlight and honor your own differences in the presence of your children? Remind your children to respect and appreciate the things about themselves that they cannot change. Remind your precious offspring of the importance of seeing beauty in themselves; they are looking to you as a model for self-acceptance. The more they learn to accept themselves, the more our children learn to accept others for their differences. Empathy is a trait that will carry our children far into the future. Parents, what will it take for you to speak highly of your differences in front of your children?

4-HAVE MORE FUN
Need I say more?

5-COMMUNITY SERVICE BEGINS AT HOME
Getting our children involved at home gears them for helping others in the future. Our children have the ability to impact the world and create change; let them! Ask your children to choose a community service project which they would like to serve. Community service is a positive quality, which teaches young ones to become selfless and fearless leaders. The more our children learn to serve others, the more they will stretch themselves in the world. Give your child permission to grow by allowing them to explore projects which will bring them the most joy. Soon, our young ones will learn to open their minds to the needs of the entire world.

With time and practice, parents can help their children rise above the tensions in this country. All it takes is one leader at a time to create positive change. Parents, are you ready to take your positions?