New Tools in My Toolbox

These Are the Best Things I’ve Discovered to Help Me Live with More Intention, Precision and Vision in 2020.

Grandfather's Tools

 

It’s only February and I’m already exhausted in 2020.

I want more naps.  I need to cut back on my caffeine dependency.  And I needed to hire a life coach who works specifically with new moms to hep me get my life back on track after my first year in a postpartum fog.

There are certain things missing from my life that once gave me endless energy and laser sharp focus before baby.  I exercised a lot.  I was a runner, hiker, golfer, tennis player, and occasional yoga student.

Now-a-days, to maintain energy, I drink a lot of water and take supplements.  I chase after a toddler.  I consider the steps I take when grocery shopping to be an equivalent to the first mile a marathoner runs.  I take it one step at a time.  And I often break off a small piece of a 75+% dark chocolate bar stashed in my tea cup cabinet, an indulgence and medicine all wrapped into one bittersweet energy boost.

I found my life coach on one of my favorite sites – Motherly.  Her business is called Mother Nurture.   My intuition pushed me to write to MN owner, Katelyn Denning.  We each have a son born a couple weeks apart (January babes) and I just felt like this woman had the tools I needed to help me get my energy back, to help me focus and to help me get things done.

After just one session with Katelyn I already feel better!  I have hope.  I have vision.  And possibly a renewed sense of self appreciation needed to actually put my vision into action and fruition.

I’m learning all kinds of new things from a new mom lens.  I think [hope] it’s making me a better person.  I have found some short cuts and detours and little breaks of inspiration that keep me going and help me to stay focused and energized – tools that I either didn’t have or didn’t use in my toolbox until now.

I’m happy to share them here.

TIME TO USE A TIMER.
What a revelation!  My life coach gave me a few assignments to work on with the instruction to use a timer to keep me on track [and also to prevent me from not using my time wisely – getting distracted or lost in thought].  Having a timer made me accountable for my time!  Imagine that!  I now use a timer on my phone for all kinds of projects and assignments I’m working on, as well as other activities that can suck up time like using social media.  I’m saving time, reclaiming time and owning my time!

MAKE TIME FOR MEDITATION WHENEVER/WHEREVER YOU CAN.
Mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness.  It’s been one of the top buzz words for over a decade.  It’s been named “word of the year” off and on since 2014.  It’s even been considered by the New York Times as having a “muddied meaning” (April 2015).  Still you find mindfulness everywhere – on coffee mugs, water bottles, probably even on shampoo bottles.  There is something to the concept of quieting the mind in this day and age of mental noise and mindlessness.  Gurus lecture about it on podcasts and Tedtalks.  It promises something healing, revitalizing, and grounding.  Personally, I have never had much success at quieting the neurotic voice in my head!  In yoga classes I would be anxiously sorting through too many to do lists, re-hashing conversations, and trying not to forget things that aren’t on my to do lists.  I would try to meditate at home but then the cat would sit on me or I’d get the giggles.  Since I now have a baby in my home, I have found myself in these woozy, subconscious, thoughtless moments that I have come to love.  I’m talking about the quiet time when I’m nursing my son.  He often dozes off and I often space out.  I think of nothing.  I’m not asleep, but I’m not awake either.  I just am.  I am quiet and happy and at peace with this sweet babe nestled into me.  I never contemplated the quieted mind that came about with nursing as anything other than checking out from sleep deprivation and new-momness.  I allowed myself to be tired and to relax into this time.  There was nothing else to be done while I was nursing.  The function of feeding my child took over.  It’s a gift.  It is the consummate lesson of letting go and being present.  Nursing, for me, is meditation.  And in emptying my mind in these moments, I am able to be more mindful when I need to come back to whatever else is going on.

FINDING EXERCISE IN THE MOST UNCOMMON PLACES.
This kind of feels like cheating, but it’s not!  I have found ways to be present with my son while simultaneously exercising some much needed self-care.   I used to work out a lot.  I don’t work out at all anymore.  I know this is just part of my transition from pre-baby self to mama self.  So I’m being gentle and kind with myself.  Instead of running, I move around the house like a rabid racoon putting stuff away, cleaning up after my toddler eats, running up and down the basement stairs to do laundry, etc.  One of my favorite new mom exercises is setting myself into yoga positions while my son plays with his favorite non-plastic toys (shout out to Melissa & Doug and Hape!).  But, yeah, he has some classic plastic ones, too.  Anyway.  Back to me.  My favorite yoga position while also playing with my lil boy is… shavasana, or corpse pose.  Yup.  It still counts.

LIGHT CANDLES.
I was never really all that into candles in my pre-baby life.  But now I light up for all kinds of mom-sense nonsense.  Doesn’t matter.  It makes me feel better.  It even helps to energize me.  I love clean, sustainable, aromatherapy candles that smell like real things – not artificial chemical toxins.  Wellness candles are my jam.  I already wrote about my “Grounded” candle a couple posts back.  I light it up every time I need to feel my feet on the ground, to feel like I am still able to walk about without falling off the face of the earth – because, let me tell you, sometimes as a new mom I feel like I could fall off at any moment and drift off into a black hole.  So burning a fresh, clean candle that has grounding properties within it really, really helps.

PODCASTS & PLAYLISTS & BLOGS, OH MY!
Okay, it’s not water, or exercise or crack cocaine.  But I really do get energized by certain media material.  I’m a non-news junkie!  I love new mom and parenting podcasts.  Right now I’m listening to Mom and Dad Are Fighting on Slate.  I listen to a lot of moms talk about mom stuff on TED Talks.  I really like the suggested list of best TED Talks for mothers on fatherly.com.  Reading various parenting blogs has been a life saver – Scary Mommy is saved as one of my top favorites.  And I listen to a bunch of different playlists on YouTube.  I just got bored with Pandora.  Right now I’m listening to a Girl Power playlist with the likes of Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Lady Gaga.  You know the songs.  This Girl is a Firecracker on Fire, Good as Hell, and She was Born This Way!   Whatever.  This playlist gets me fired up.

BE BOLD & LEARN NEW TRICKS.
I’m not the most tech savvy person.  But I really want to learn how to do certain things.  Sometimes I can teach myself how to use a new app and I’m stunned at the results.  Proud of myself!  I wouldn’t say I have mastered Canva – but I make some pretty cool marketing posts for Instagram, in particular, using this creative app.  I love it.  I have a TikTok account but I still don’t get it.  I set up an app to manage my nanny’s payroll – Nanny Pay Advisor – and I feel like a real boss!  I discovered Otter and now record interviews and conversations I want to save and even transcribe!  This has been a revelation!  I will showcase my Otter skills in an upcoming post about breastfeeding after six months – so stay tuned!

This is just the beginning.  I’m learning how to be a better version of me, the new me, the new mom me.  And I’m starting to feel pretty good about myself again – more energized, more clear!

I’d love to hear how other moms are getting their groove back, evolving and getting re-energized!

 

 

The New Mama Re-Set: Managing the major life transition after baby

Tired woman sleeping on the table in the kitchen at breakfast. Trying to drink morning coffee

My therapist once told me there’s a difference between failure and fear of failure.

Before baby my professional life was challenging, yet rewarding.  But now with baby in tow, being a mompreneur of a wine brand feels like I’m a failure with a capital F.  I dropped the ball on my business for the entire first half of last year.   I just couldn’t…

By the fourth quarter  I was barely getting through my company’s wine grape harvest, let alone running the business operations.  It didn’t seem right bringing a baby to a wine production facility with busy forklifts, loud machinery,  CO2 and SO2 in the mix.  It was crazy difficult for me each day I arrived at the winery with my baby.  Even with my entourage of nanny, mother, and trusty hired cellar hand I was overwhelmed and anxious.

My anxiety ran the gamut from caring for my baby; [not] caring for myself; failing my child; failing by business; experiencing an identity crisis; not caring about my work anymore; contemplating a business shut down; and feeling exhausted, depleted and incapable of the work I accomplished before I was a mother.

I knew I needed to address these feelings.  I wanted to feel like I was in control again.  I wanted to feel like I got this!  I wanted to feel motivated, inspired and excited by my
work again.  I just didn’t know how to be me anymore.

So I leaned into a bunch of books and resources.  I literally had an Amazon Prime binge and Google overdose.  But here’s what I initially found in my search for the answers to my new mama problems:

Breathe Mama Breathe:  5 Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms by Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW

The Empowered Mama:  How to Reclaim Your Time and Yourself While Raising a Happy, Healthy Family by Lisa Druxman, Founder of Fit4Mom

Self-Care for Moms:  150+ Real Ways to Care for Yourself While Caring for Everyone Else by Sara Robinson, MA

Warrior Goddess Training:  Become the Woman You Are Meant to Be  by Heatherash Amara

Motherly.com

Parents Magazine, especially the Special Edition “Balancing Your Life:  Family. Career. Love. You.”

It seemed like a good start.  I pride myself in being able to reframe relatively easily.  And yet I wasn’t able to shake these feelings of inadequacy, exhaustion and anxiety.  I didn’t recognize my old badass self.  She was left behind in the delivery room – hiding from a traumatic birth.  The new me was barely getting by – a doe in headlights.

Everything I learned from my research to understand my new mama self came to the conclusion that I’m a different person now.  So, now what?

On one particularly dark wintry Pacific Northwest afternoon, just after my January birthday, I ran another Google Search about finding a life coach for new moms who work.  I came across a Motherly article entitled “If I had my way, every working mom would have a life coach” by Katelyn Denning, a regular contributor.

I cried my way through the article and followed a link to Katelyn’s website:  Mother Nurture.

“Don’t just survive motherhood.  Thrive.”

I decided it was time to commit to something bigger than a mini library of self help books for new mamas.  While I appreciated the books I selected and read – and they all helped me in some way or another – I just felt that I still couldn’t…

Until I picked up the phone with a professional.

After my initial phone consultation with Katelyn I knew that I had a real support person available to me who I would pay for three months to see me through this challenge.  This meant I would be accountable for doing the work my coach assigned.

It was time to shift from this major upset to a RESET.

I agree with Katelyn.  If I had my way, every working mom would have a life coach.

 

 

 

These Were A Few of My Favorite Things in 2019

My Top Ten Self Care Products That Got Me Through My First Year Postpartum

 

When I decided to write about my “top ten of anything” to wrap up 2019, it was very clear that my top ten would be related to the birth of my son.  His arrival dominated my year!

I have written extensively about my postpartum experience because I think it’s really important to be open, candid and honest about what really happens when you are recovering from having a baby.  While every woman has her own unique experience, there are many unspoken aspects of recovery that make the process challenging, both emotionally and physically.   More and more women are speaking up about those things.

Among the most important messages, advice and wisdom I received during this period of my life was to make time for self care.  It sounds easy enough.  It wasn’t!  Caring for a newborn and yourself at the same time is not easy at all.  Especially if you have more recovery needs than the average new mom.

I simplified.  Self care would sometimes be as simple as taking a shower and using products that made me feel like a queen.  I compiled a list of my favorite self care products that were especially nurturing and luxurious!  These products made a huge difference in my emotional recovery – not only are they healing to the body and soul, but these businesses share high ethical standards and use the most natural, clean ingredients available.

It’s the little things that really aren’t little at all.
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10

BEE LUCIA WELLNESS CANDLE
I brought home the “Grounded” wellness crystal-infused candle with labradorite crystals. I would light this candle any time I needed to get grounded.  Simple as that.  Its delicate but soothing scent is all about relaxation and getting centered and to create a meditative environment.  Each candle is crafted around a specific intention, made with toxin-free beeswax, organic coconut oil, therapeutic grade pure essential oils and natural crystals.  When you burn your Wellness Candle negative ions are emitted to bind to toxins and help remove them from the air.  I write about the benefits of negative ions all of the time!  You’re not just getting the benefits of aromatherapy – but negative ions, too!  Note:  negative ions are beneficial particles for the human body while positive ions are harmful; negative ions are found in highest concentrations in natural, clean air and are abundant in nature – especially around moving water like waterfalls, ocean surf, at the beach or after a storm and especially in mountains and forests.  Take this candle home and you can create a similar soothing environment!  A local family-owned Portland, Oregon company
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9

URBAN MOONSHINE CALM TUMMY BITTERS
I have long used bitters for digestive relief.  I studied holistic nutrition and have made recommendations for many clients to use natural herbal bitters to help soothe digestive diseases.  I discovered Urban Moonshine at Portland-based market New Seasons.  I love the Calm Tummy blend because it has a strong yet gentle balance of chamomile and ginger – perfect for pregnancy nausea and postpartum tummy aches.  Urban Moonshine has an incredible website with pages like an online classroom – super informative!  A woman-run company based out of Burlington, VT.

 

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8

SHEA MOISTURE GROUND COFFEE SCRUB
This is another product I found at a New Seasons store in the greater Portland area.  The nutritionist working in the personal care section highly suggested this product.  I explained that after having my baby my arms and legs were dry and a little bumpy.  I tried a few approaches, unsuccessfully.  This scrub healed my arms and legs, leaving me with soft, smooth skin like my baby!  I love the texture and fresh ground coffee smell – a natual wake- me-up with my morning shower.  I will say you need to rinse out your shower after using this product – it can get a little messy.  But, well worth a brief clean-up for such luxurious natural medicine!  Shea Moisture was founded by Sofi Tucker a woman who started selling shea nuts at the village market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. By age 19, the widowed mother of four was selling shea butter, African black soap and her homemade hair and skin preparations all over the countryside.  Her grandchildren run Shea Moisture, Sofi’s legacy.  This business has pioneered fair trade through Community Commerce at home and abroad.  A woman-founded fair trade company from Sierra Leone, Africa.

 

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7

PACHA SOAP CO.  SWEET HONEY ALMOND FROTH BOMB
I’ve never been into bubbles, froths or bombs in my bath.  I prefer basic epsom salt soaks – sometimes with a little milk and honey infusion for an added indulgence.  I received a Pacha Sweet Honey Almond Froth Bomb at my baby shower with some other self care items for new mamas.  I put the bath bomb on the shelf.  About the time my son was six months old, and I was done with the sitz baths, I decided to try the froth bomb.  It was a revelation!  The ultra luxe gold shimmer entices.  Once added to hot water, this lovely froth opened up all of my senses with its warm honey-almond fragrance.  The delicate froth turned the bathwater silky and didn’t leave residue on me (or my bath!).  Instead, the all- natural ingredients kissed my skin and gently softened my elbow, knees, heels.  I didn’t want to get out of the tub!  The ultimate self care!  Read about Pacha’s incredible mission on their website.  Pacha Soap Co is another global-conscious company spreading goodness through good causes.

 

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6

EVAN HEALY TULSI FACIAL TONIC HYDROSOUL
I get compliments on my skin all of the time.  I have been blessed with my grandmother’s excellent genetics.  But I still take great care of my skin.  I’m a little OCA (obsessive compulsive Advantage!) about it.  I use Evan Healy products for my morning and evening skin care regimen.  When I was diagnosed with celiac disease back in 2007 I became more mindful about not only what I was putting in my body, but what I was putting on my body.  I had to read labels for gluten ingredients, often hidden, like triticale, wheat germ, barley, and so on.  Once I began reading labels I quickly saw ingredients that I didn’t want to put on my skin.  I adopted the philosophy “if I can’t eat the ingredients then it won’t go on my skin.”  Your skin is your largest digestive organ – it absorbs everything you put on it, as well as other unseen things in the environment.  To lessen the toxic load, I decided I had control over what I would put on my skin.  Evan Healy’s products are fine to eat – not that you would, but, there are no harmful chemicals.  Her products align with my philosophy.  Just as I practice holistic nutrition, holistic skincare is nutrition, too. 

I love the Tulsi (Holy Basil) Facil Tonic HydroSoul.  I mean, I love all her products.  But, this was a standout for me in 2019.  It was especially restorative and therapeutic during my postpartum year.  Plus, it has an amazing spicy, sweet clove-like fragrance.  In Hindu tradition it’s believed that Tulsi is a goddess embodied in an herb and is revered as the holiest of all plants.  In the wisdom of Ayurveda, Tulsi exhibits anti-oxidant, purifying, awakening, grounding benefits to skin, respiratory passages and psyche.  This is more than a skincare product.   It is medicine.  Another great website to educate and inform.  A woman-run company based in California also involved in ethical projects as well as the American Family Farm Revival.

 

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5

WELEDA WILD ROSE PAMPERING BODY OIL
Weleda has long been a pioneer in natural products and even has its own certification for sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.  The mission is to create products that naturally work with your body’s own systems.  I only recently became a fan of rose oil or rose water.  This particular product is pure luxury.  I apply it from neck to toe as soon as I get out of the shower.  It has warming properties and just feels lovely.  I picked this out just at a time when I was going through some postpartum depression and I was going through the typical new mom identity crisis feelings.  This lifted my spirits.  Turns out, I learned in a healing Mayan abdominal massage treatment that I also needed work on my heart chakra, which is associated with balance, calmness and serenity.  Rose oil is associated with the heart chakra.  I was intuitively applying medicine.  Though global, Weleda still cultivates its own biodynamic gardens and work in fair trade agreements with small farmers and gardeners to source the best raw materials.

 

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4

WILD CARROT HERBALS WANDERLUST FOOT CREAM
My feet hurt a lot during my third trimester.  I had a bit of edema and my high arches were pushed nearly flat from the weight of my baby.  Even months after I gave birth to my son my feet hurt.  They sprang back to their normal high arches, which, I think exasperated the pain.  I just wanted my husband to squeeze my heels as hard as he could for relief.  My feet were also very dry from hormone changes and during harvest (I’m a winemaker) after being on them for grueling hours they’d often get wet and stay wrapped in damp socks for hours.  My feet needed some love.  I found this foot cream, thanks to the lovely new packaging.  It drew my attention!  I applied this indulgent cream immediately – the night of purchase, right before bedtime.  As the website promises – it’s perfect for slathering on weary feet, cracked heels and dry legs, and uses Oregon-grown peppermint oil to help revitalize the skin and restore the spirit.  It definitely softens and hydrates.  My feet felt completely renewed and restored.  A woman-owned company based in the beautiful Wallowas Mountains in Oregon.

 

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3

BADGER PREGNANT BELLY OIL
I started using this soothing belly oil during my third trimester.  I continued to soothe my healing tummy skin during my postpartum year.  It’s that rose scent again – but with vanilla.  Jojoba and coconut oils blend to make a super luxe, non-greasy oil that absorbs immediately and leaves a light scent.  Lovely!  Feels so good on stretching, stretched and stretch-marked skin.  A family-owned company with healing products, a healthy business and a mission to make a difference.

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2

KUU BOTANICALS GINGER & WILD ROSE INFUSED CASTOR OIL
Unfortunately, there isn’t a website available for this product.  I found it at a pregnancy and postpartum wellness center in Portland, Oregon.  This roll on castor oil was the perfect medicine for my c-section scar and scar tissue.  It can also be used for menstrual cramp relief.  It’s every bit soothing and warming with a delicate ginger and wild rose aroma.  A gentle application with the roller ball – and heat can be added like a traditional castor oil pack.  This product was ultra nurturing for me during my postpartum year. A local woman-owned Portland, Oregon company.

 

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1

EARTH MAMA ORGANICS PRODUCTS.  ALL OF THEM!
I am naming ALL of the Earth Mama Organics products as my number one self care products that got me through my first year postpartum.  I received many of these products as a baby shower gift – probably the most nurturing gift for my self care regimen.   Let’s face it – mama is often forgotten after baby comes along.  But Earth Mama Organics takes care of both baby and mama.  I could not have survived my immediate postpartum days and weeks without the herbal sitz bath, herbal perineal spray, skin and scar balm, nipple butter and milkmaid tea.  The diaper balm is by far the best we’ve tried – our baby has gone almost diaper rash free as a result of this balm.  I can’t praise this line of product enough!  The website is a wonderful resource for expecting moms to visit – with a “Birth Plan” category and other really useful information – I recommend all expecting mamas read the section on “Postpartum Lying-in Plan”, a practice we implemented that has made all the difference for both my recovery and my child’s comfort.  A local woman-owned Portland, Oregon company.