HAPPINESS, MY TRUTH

Facing the Dark

04/26/2019

I’m struggling. I am really struggling.

I was on such a positive path for 6 months solid and wham, pow, thwart – I was knocked off course and have yet to get back on.

It seems like such an obvious thing to know, but at 38 I am finally learning that there are only so many balls I can juggle in the air at one time and keep them in motion.

When I was younger, it seemed that I could balance a lot more balls in the air at once.  But if I take a moment to analyze the situation, I come to realize that I simply had different balls I was juggling. For example – there were no kids or husband, I wasn’t focusing a good deal of time on nutrition, physical activity or sleep for that matter, and as those who knew me in my teens and twenties can attest to – I did not keep a clean room or house – so no true time spent there. Those are a lot of balls that I wasn’t worrying about adding into the mix.

But now things are changed and each one of those elements noted above are vital to me, which means there are only so many additional balls I can add before I drop them and find myself scrambling to pick them up.

In order to add another ball into the mix, either one has got to drop or I have to be juggling those balls for so long that it is an ingrained habit and then I can slowly add in a new ball with precision and care.

In reality, six months is not enough time for anything to be an ingrained habit and when I completed my 12 week workout program, my momentum stopped and the balls dropped.

I kept trying to get the balls back in the air, but truth be told I picked up a few extra balls along the way (and the flu) and I just couldn’t get going again.

Okay, analogy over, back to my current struggles.

From August to January I was so focused and committed to clean eating – with the help of the Whole 30 program for the first 3 months. I looked better than ever – felt better than ever – and believed that I had overcome my food demons. I had completed a 12 week workout program and thought I’d be hitting the summer season with confidence in my swimsuit for the first time since I was 10.  Ha.

Ha. Ha.

Nope.

Newton’s first law of motion certainly came to play in this situation. As a reminder to all, it states that “ An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Well, that unbalanced force was the flu – which put me at rest – and I have just not had it in me to create the force strong enough to get my momentum back.

One regretful choice I have made, which I need to just forgive myself and move on,  was allowing myself to have sugar again. This happened when I had the flu. After many days of barely eating and a raw throat – the only food that sounded even slightly appetizing was a hot fudge sundae with all the works. And so it was. But it unlocked the small sugar dragon I had locked up for the past 6 months.

At first it was okay, I wasn’t feeding the dragon too often, just a nibble here or there.  Perhaps eating at a restaurant that I know uses sugar in their sauce. But as of late the dragon has grown into a monstrous beast who demands cadbury eggs and syrupy pancakes.

In my mind I am justifying my decisions by telling myself “you only live once enjoy the sweet treats life has to offer”. But the reality is that the sugar makes me feel horrible both physically and mentally.

I know it’s not worth it because when I cut it out I actually felt amazing, but Newton’s law is back in action and feeding the dragon has been the motion that I allowed.

So now I have gained back half of the weight I lost and because I have not been able to successful restart the weight training program that I was engaged in from November through January, I’m noticing my body revert back into the shape it was prior to all my hard work.

This unlocks the negative self talk.

And there is just so much of it. My inner demons can taunt me and berate me like no other. And the negative self talk that tells me I am not good enough and that I will never be good enough.

It makes me feel weak and unable to make decisions that benefit me in the long term. The negative feelings leave me craving instant satisfaction and comfort – which I seek out in food or television. I feed into the weakness which only leaves me feeling more fragile and vulnerable to poor decisions.

I work to keep the voices away, using positive self talk, uplifting music and audiobooks, and distraction, but lately, it hasn’t been enough.

So I am clinging to faith to pull me out. Reminding myself of God’s love for me and that I was created perfect – so I don’t have to try to recreate perfection through my human eye – I just have to focus on being – and focus on God’s one request – to live a life of love.

To treat myself with love, which means to stop feeding the dragons and demons that are pulling me down and to start providing comfort to myself with true self love. And if I truly love myself than I will only engage in activities that strengthen me and feed myself food and thoughts that heal me rather than hurt me.

I believe that these states of struggle can be as temporary as I allow them to be, but it is hard to pull out of sometimes and I thought that if I shared here that it could be a two-fold benefit. First, offering some accountability on my side that I am committing to pulling myself out of this funk and working towards better self care.  

And also, I know I am not the only one who struggles like this. I believe that sharing helps normalize our personal battles and shatters the outward perception that we are in anyway even close to perfect in a human standard. And that at the end of the day, our imperfections are what make us so perfect. Because when we shine light on the darkest parts of ourselves, we realize that we are raw and beautiful regardless of what our perception is of our outsides. We are enough.

 

UPDATE:

I wrote this on Tuesday and did not feel the pull to post. Each day since I have spent more and more time offering love and grace to myself. This includes cutting out sugar again as well. I am happy to say that today (Friday) I am in a much better place. I also have noticed that the timing of writing this also aligned with my cycle – which I think is important to note as this is a time where extra self care is imperative.

Alright, as always, thanks for being a witness to my journey.

 

BEST SELF, LIFE CHANGES, MY TRUTH

The Continual Journey

04/12/2019

I have found myself again arrested in the progress of writing for this blog. It is not for lack of content, but rather the content does not feel aligned with where I am in the present moment.

I have taken the last two weeks off, partly due to travel and partly due to the feeling of misalignment.

The article I had planned to post was on a workout program I completed. I had taken pictures and everything, but just did not feel called to post about it. This is likely a result of my struggle to re-immerse myself back into the program after having completed the 12 weeks. I have had many false starts which leaves me feeling a little disingenuous to post about the program when I know I am struggling to get back into the grind. But the other reason is because on my continual journey to self awareness and improvement I realized again that the voice of this blog is becoming something other than me.

This idea of writing “articles” vs “blog posts”, worrying about having something worthwhile to say, fretting about the perfect pictures to compliment the writing, the desire to give meaningful gifts of wisdom to people who take the time to read the blog, and the pull to be an expert doling out advice all create undue stress. These pressures seem incongruent with the person I am working to be.

If I’m being honest with myself, I do not feel the call to be a professional blogger – making it my full time job to write valuable content for viewers and manage endorsements or sponsorships. At times this is a struggle because my sister – who IS a professional blogger – and mighty good at what she does (check out her blog HERE) makes a good income with her profession and it has taken her on many really exciting journeys around the world. I see her success and am inspired to follow.

I have to remember that this is in fact her full time job – it is not a hobby that brings in money – it is something that she has built over the last decade and has dedicated most days of her life to. And she loves it – or at least, she seems to. This appears to be her calling. She is thriving and that is tremendous, but trying to walk her path results in me stepping off course of my own.

I also do not feel called to be the expert. I am a lost soul – it is who I am today. Why do I feel like I have to have the answers? Why do I feel like I have to have it all figured out before I write? I don’t have it all figured out! Every day is a new challenge with new obstacles, and what I find “works” for one season may be totally disastrous for another season of my life. And so rather than trying to obtain this elusive balance, I am learning that it is all about embracing flexibility and learning to sway with the wind. Through my spiritual journey and my yoga practice, I am focusing on creating balance through surrender. My daily practice allows me to build strength, allowing for a firm foundation while also teaching me flexibility. Like the roots of a tree, my foundation is firm allowing me to sway in the wind and bend to every new obstacle that comes my way without breaking. Giving people the impression that I have anything figured out, is not the authentic me.

Right now I’m working to improve my daily habits – incorporating more of what adds to my vitality and removing that which hinders it through daily routines. Here are my main areas of focus for now:

  • Morning routine:
    • Waking up at 6 am daily
    • Drinking 16 oz of lemon water
    • Doing 30 min of yoga with my husband
  • Daily routine:
    • Journal writing and meditation
    • Spiritual Study
    • Graphic Design Coursework
    • Other obligations: volunteer and work projects
  • Night routine:
    • Unplugging one hour before bed
    • Spending quality time engaging in conversation with my husband
    • In bed and asleep between 9 pm and 10pm
  • General:
    • Unplugging and being present in the moment
    • Being present and engaged with my children and spouse (no phone!)
    • Doing things now instead of putting them off (i.e. dishes, laundry)
    • Creating breathing room by decreasing number of commitments and prioritizing
    • Focusing on positive self talk
    • Doing all things from a place of love

I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my values, goals and praying for guidance on how to continue on my journey and I feel like I am finally tuning into the answers.

I have started to say no to requests for my time and to cut out obligations that no longer make sense for me at this time – which has not been easy, as I do not like to let people down.

I have found a local church that speaks to my heart and makes me feel inspired to live my best life.

I have re-engaged in the spiritual tool: A Course in Miracles, which I started 3 years ago and then let sit untouched for years despite my yearning to complete it. I have started at the beginning yet again and I am carving out time daily to engage in the learning process.

I am writing regularly in a journal. Focusing on gratitude, goals, obstacles, and reflections.

I have enrolled into courses in the Adobe Suite and Graphic Design in order to work towards new skills that align with my current passions.

And I am surrendering. Taking things one day at a time trying to figure out what I can do now to be present, come from a place of love (for both myself and others), and having faith that with each day I get closer to the next unfolding opportunity for my life.

As I create more breathing room in my life I have noticed areas of overlap. So, instead of writing in a separate journal I am going to try out doing my journaling here. Perhaps only once per week, with the rest being in my hardbound notebook, but I am going to test out treating this blog as my open and active life journal. It may not be everyone’s desire to read what I am going through and it won’t necessarily come with beautiful pictures, but I believe we are all connected and more similar than we realize and if sharing my authentic story can help even one person live more authentically or more from a place of love, well then it was worth writing.

Thanks for your time. xo

P.S. The header image was taken to use with my BBG post, but I figured since the shirt (a gift from a dear friend) said “Progress Not Perfection” that it was quite fitting. Want to learn about the fitness program – click HERE
BEST SELF, HOME, MY TRUTH

Still Cleaning House // The Struggle is Real

03/21/2019

Today I am struggling. I mean, really struggling.

I am feeling tired, burned out, easily distracted, excessively hungry, overwhelmed and lost – to name just a few of the current feelings swirling in my body.

I am in full cognitive realization that so many of these feelings stem from many consecutive nights of poor sleep which has only been compounded by attending a late night event this past weekend. Topped by the fact that I can tell with certainty that my monthly womanly onus is rapidly approaching.   

But in this moment, I am struggling.

I have decided to write about these feelings today because I believe in authenticity, transparency, and honesty – and this is my truth. I am going to actively work out my feelings as I write now, and once I have posted I am going to go meditate and possibly take a nap. Because, well, I can – and self care is important.

For the last few years I have been working to focus on decluttering our house, organizing what we have, and working towards a more minimalistic household. As I sit in front of my computer and write this, I look in front of me, to my right, to my left, and then behind me and I have to laugh. Minimalistic – ha. Our house is full! Full of stuff everywhere! Books, papers, workout gear, pictures, plants, dog beds, children’s toys, drawings, paintings, magazines, clothes….stuff!  Everywhere – stuff. I am overwhelmed.

I know. I know. First world problems.  And not just first world – at the very least middle class first world problems.

And as I think about this in greater detail a wave of guilt washes over me.  

We don’t need this stuff. Where did it all come from? Gifts, purchases, hand me downs. And the joke is that we probably have less than most average American families, but it is still way too much, and I feel like I am drowning in the pile of stuff. Yet, I have such a hard time letting go of certain things.  

Now, mind you, I have read Marie Kondo’s book “Spark Joy” numerous times (and tons of other books on minimalism) and have gone through the process, eliminating bags and boxes of stuff from our home. In fact, I go to Goodwill on average once a month to do a run of 1-3 boxes of things we want to donate.  We keep a box in the closet at all times and as soon as something no longer sparks joy it goes in the box and off to Goodwill at the end of the month.

So how is it that I am still surrounded in so much? I mean, part of it is that I am not the only one living here – and with kids, there always seems to be things entering our home.

I also have a bad habit of checking out too many library books at one time! I seriously have 14 books checked out at the moment! WHAT?!? Seriously. You are probably thinking “That is ridiculous Jess!” because that is indeed what I am thinking when I admit it in writing. As a result, even though I don’t own the books I am still having to make space for them.  And I certainly cannot read 14 hard copy books within a 30 day period – I mean audiobooks sure – but I am not even a speed reader! So, what am I doing to myself, other than drowning my space in books, and making myself feel bad about not finishing them?

And then I have my own bookshelf of unread books! So what am I doing borrowing books?  Over the past few years I have let go of boxes and boxes of books that I was holding onto and currently only have about 30 books I own. This is a huge accomplishment because I easily owned more than 5xs that amount when I started and have acquired more along the way. I LOVE books. I mean, I really love them. I love the feel and the touch. I love the raw knowledge held inside or the adventure it will take me on. But, let me admit something else. I hardly ever read! If I get 10 minutes of quiet time a day to put a tangible book in my hand, I’d say that is generous. I am trying to carve out more time to do so, but that is the truth. However, audio books? Well, that’s my jam. I can easily go through a book a day and sometimes more. The problem comes in when the book I want to read doesn’t have an audio book version – then I check it out from the library and it sits on my desk glaring at me, making me feel overwhelmed – or I hold onto copies of books I eventually want to read, that I do in fact own.

I know I just need to let go and say goodbye, and perhaps repurchase the book at a point in my life where I can invest the time into reading it, and that is probably what I will end up doing, but that won’t happen until at least a few nights of good sleep.

Okay – self rant over, now onto what really broke me this morning.

My kids.

I have a great kids. I mean, truly fantastic, A+, amazing, loving, thoughtful, creative, brilliant kids.

But, they are kids – and they are MY kids – which means that cleanliness is not something that came built into their DNA.  In fact, I personally have to work daily on it, so is it fair of me to become so frustrated that they don’t have it down pat?

A lot of my organizing and reorganizing is with them in mind. The question I try to answer is how can I make cleaning the easiest for them? I have created bins that they can just throw their toys into – without any rhyme or reason – just a big bin to get the toys off the floor.  I spent a good majority of the day cleaning yesterday and getting rid of more stuff and making it even easier for the kids to keep their room clean, by removing their dressers and adding bins for their clothes. BUT NO. It seems that wherever they go, mess follows.

Have you ever heard the saying “Cleaning up after kids is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos” or “Cleaning up after kids is like shoveling snow during a snowstorm”? YES and YES!  

Well, this morning I lost it. I mean, I completely lost it. Because rather than getting dressed, toys were being played with and left out, and around the house, sleeping clothes were left abandoned around the family room, and neither kid was ready to walk out the door on time. And when I brought this up, the attitude ensued and mommy lost her cool. I yelled a bit and then dropped my tone into the serious I mean business tone that the kids love so much (not!). On the walk to school I discussed my overall expectations for them, disappointment in recent behavior and attitudes, and how I need it to change immediately. I forced hugs and I love you goodbyes at the school drop off despite us all being really frustrated with each other and came home to eat my feelings – hello almond butter.

And I feel awful, because even more than wanting to teach my kids how to clean up after themselves and stay organized, I want to teach them to treat people with love and kindness and not give into anger – and today I did not lead by example. Yes, I am human and we all break down and have our moments – but there were probably many things I could have done to prevent this.

On my walk home from school I called my husband in tears and we talked it out. He helped me identify several easy changes that I could make to help minimize the chance of finding myself in this position again.  

  1. He pointed out that although listening to my audiobooks while making dinner and cleaning the kitchen brings joy in those events – it also disconnects me from others around and keeps me from being present. WOW – so true! I’ll be hanging up the headphones other than if I am actively running or home alone doing chores.
  2. Second, I need more sleep. And he encouraged me to take a nap.  What a guy!
  3. Third, I need to lead by example.  Rather than spending the time to clean up after others, I need to simply focus on cleaning up after myself.  If I hang my jacket over a chair back rather than in my closet or on the coat hook, then I am in fact giving everyone permission to do so. I am far from perfect in my own behavior, I just don’t have a mom looking over me reminding me that I’m doing it wrong.
  4. Forgive myself and move on. That’s all we can do right? Move on and try not to repeat the mistake again.

I am glad the kids aren’t here for the moment and that I indeed have some time to meditate and take a nap today – because I need it. But, I am also longing for them to come home from school so that we can reconnect and explore as a family the best practices that we want to tackle for keeping our home clean and inviting for all of us. I could also use a hug.

Alright. Rant over. Thanks as always for going on this journey with me. I’d love to hear your own struggles with child rearing and housekeeping – plus any tips or tricks are always greatly appreciated! xo

BEST SELF, HELLO, MY TRUTH

In Front of the Camera

03/15/2019

Last week I had the opportunity to engage in a portrait session with a local photographer.  He had reached out to me via Instagram and asked if I was interested in a session to help him build his portfolio.

At first I was very skeptical thinking that this may be some sort of ploy, but after some due diligence to make sure that I was not corresponding with an individual with poor intent, I agreed.  I thought it would be a unique opportunity to get in front of the camera rather than behind it. Jon Meadows, the photographer and owner of High End Headshots here in DC, is wonderfully talented and he is currently working to expand his portfolio from headshots into high end portraits, geared towards women.

I found this to be somewhat ironic, because in what feels like a previous life in Florida I had specialized in both headshots and beauty portraits. I had always wanted the opportunity to get dolled up and have my portraits taken by someone else.  And now I had the chance!

We discussed outfits, time, location and once all was squared away all I had to do was show up! I made my way down to the studio via metro, completely anxious about being the subject of the photos. The majority of images I have of myself are self taken through a timer and tripod rather than another individual – or taken years ago by my dear friends who are also photographers.   

I got there and Jon was incredibly sweet. We talked about his career and family and he put me at ease regarding my total awkwardness behind the camera. It is ironic that once upon a time in my teens and early twenties I had hoped to have some sort of career in front of the camera – mainly through acting – and yet, here I was at 38 beyond awkward. I am awesome at posing others, but I could not for the life of me figure out what to do with my body, hands, or even my facial expression. The  look he was going for in the session was more serious or pensive rather than my normal toothy grin – so I found it a little more challenging. I tried to channel my inner most Tyra Banks and “smize”, but to be honest, when I peeked through the gallery I had myself in stitches over some of the images where I was trying to nail the look – total fail. Oh well – perhaps I need to get some practice under my belt.

Jon was patient with me however and guided me through the process, even allowing me to look at the images on his tethered laptop and adjust as needed. In the end he captured some really great images. The experience was one that I feel incredibly grateful for. It was a little humbling, but it left me with a handful of wonderful and priceless images that I would have otherwise never had.  It also has reminded me of how far I have come in regards to my own health and wellness journey – and still how far I have to go in regards to self confidence and continual self love.

It is odd, because often I feel a lot younger than I actually am and my confidence a lot lower than I let on to be – especially as I feel knee deep in the journey of self discovery – but yet, when I look at the images I see a woman, not a child –  and a confident woman at that. A mother, a wife, and overall a woman who is capable of what she puts her mind to. This session gave me so much more than pictures and I am forever thankful for that.

Without further ado, here are my portraits.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about Jon and his work, check out his website at https://highendheadshots.com.

ART, GETTING CREATIVE, POEMS

Poems of Motherhood

03/07/2019

I believe creativity needs to be stoked in all areas of life. So today, rather than an article or story, I share with you three poems that I wrote about motherhood. I hope you enjoy!

 

Time to Go

20 minute countdown

You announce to all.

Not a flinch from the children

As you make your call.

 

“Did you hear me?” you say

To your daughter and son.

They nod and continue

To play and have fun.

 

The seconds tick by

And turn into minutes.

You announce “15 to go

You’d better get with it”.

 

You leave the room

to get yourself dressed

And upon returning you see

That the kids are a mess.

 

No shoes are on,

No jackets in sight,

Every toy on the floor

You’re ready to fight.

 

But you keep your calm

And say “We’ve got to go!”

And they fire back

“Why didn’t you tell us so?”

 

Well there goes your temper,

You lose your cool.

You’d think today

Was the first day of school.

 

“We do this daily”

You say with a tone.

So they know you mean business,

You put down your phone.

 

“Every morning you get dressed

And ready by eight

So we can be out the door

Without running late…

 

You know the drill

You don’t need me to tell you

It has been the same routine

Since you were age two!”

 

The shouting continues

Everyone’s mad

And you think to yourself,

“Do they do this for dad?”

 

You continue to nag them

Until they’re ready to leave.

You make it to school

by the skin of your teeth.

 

You made it! Success!

You give kisses goodbye.

You take a deep breath

And let out a sigh.

 

You start heading home

Knowing this isn’t the end,

Tomorrow morning

It starts all over again.

 

Then your smile spreads wide

And the stress fades away.

Because you realize with joy

Tomorrow’s Saturday.

 

 

The Elusive Cup of Coffee

Oh coffee coffee

In the pot

How I wish I could drink you

When you were hot.

 

My cup of Joe

Sitting all day.

Let’s warm you up

In the microwave.

 

Yet you sit again

You are such a tease.

Can I just have you all

In one sitting please?

 

It’s the end of the day

I pour you out with sorrow.

Knowing full well I will

try again tomorrow.

 

Murphy’s Law

Have you met Murphy?

A good friend of mine.

A charlatan, trickster,

And stealer of time.

 

He’ll bait you and trap you

And get you to play.

His games always spin off

In the most inopportune way.

 

You see, he has created a law

Which is his all alone.

A law that affects you

Once you are grown.  

 

And if you’re a mom

You are surely in luck,

Because Murphy likes to play

With your offspring like such.

 

If you stay up too late

on a Friday night,

He’ll wake your child at dawn

With no nap in sight.

 

If you are running behind

For an appointment at noon,

He’ll instigate a tantrum

Before even leaving the room.

 

Meltdowns, spills, and blowouts

That rub you raw,

Are the tell tale signs

Of one “Murphy’s Law”.

 

So watch out for him

Because he is waiting for you,

When something is important

A game will ensue.  

 

 

Copyright © 2019 by Jessica Regan. All rights reserved. Poems and articles or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.

 

All poems are