Mental Strength

Start A Gratitude Practice

What you pay attention to grows. Pay attention to your loveliness, your magnificent self. Begin now.
— Geneen Roth

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 1

Happy New Year!  It’s that time again...the feeling of a fresh start, new resolutions, and renewed hope.  It’s also the dead of winter, hooray!  Winter has its charms - a crisp, clean, sunny morning that sparkles with new snow after a storm, Starbucks’ Gingerbread (almond milk) lattes, skiing and sledding, and if you live with me - the Super Bowl, to name a few.  

Winter also comes with its challenges.  It can have a way of trying to spotlight sadness, insecurities and inconveniences.  But if we embrace this season and appreciate it for what it is meant to be, it can definitely work for us.

Winter is a natural time to go inward, slow down the pace, and take comfort. If we think of it as time for reflection and recharging, as Mother Nature intended, then we can use it to our advantage.

I hope you’ll accept my challenge to implement new self care habits as the New Year kicks off and we look ahead to the next few months of winter.  Every two weeks I’ll be issuing a new “challenge” to help keep your spirits and energy up, connect with and tune into yourself, and feel good.  You’ll have plenty of time over the course of two weeks to give each challenge a try and make it work for you!  

Start A Gratitude Practice

What can a gratitude practice do for you?  Daily reflection of what IS working for you in your life is a great tool for building emotional and mental strength.  So often we hear “focus on the positive” and “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  These are fantastic affirmations and small reminders - but how do you actually DO them, especially during a time when everything seems difficult and unfair, such as after a miscarriage, loss, or when battling infertility?

A gratitude practice is exactly how.  All it takes is writing down three things you are grateful for every day.  Try to find something new and different each day.  

Two suggestions for implementing this daily are:  

  1. You can start your day off with this little exercise by incorporating it into a morning routine.  Simply keep a notebook by your bedside and write down three things you’re grateful for that you’re looking forward to or that happened the day before.

  2. Before going to bed, write down three things you are grateful that happened during your day.

This seems so simple that it’s easy to question its impact but when done regularly, you will begin to feel more positive.  At the same time, what you give your attention to is what grows, so by giving positive energy to the things that you do want in your life, you will begin to attract more of those things to yourself.  Who doesn’t want that!?

Let’s start now!  Share something you are grateful for today in the comments below, and see if you can keep the momentum going as part of your daily routine over the next couple of weeks!  

Holiday Survival: The Perfect Answer to “When Are You Going To Have Kids?”

It’s Thanksgiving Week!  I hope you are looking forward to a little break from work, great food, good drinks and loving company.  But what if you’re not… exactly?  It is possible to look forward to spending time with family and friends and dread it at the same time.  If you’ve recently experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, ended a very much wanted pregnancy, or are having difficulty conceiving, the holidays can sometimes have a way of sparking loneliness, sadness and longing, despite our best efforts.

It can be painful to spend time among families with babies or to hear all about an old friend or family member’s pregnancy or birth.  And I know just how much you’re looking forward to getting the influx of holiday cards with pregnancy announcements or all those new, tiny humans’ faces looking back at you from the inside of a stocking or gift box under the Christmas tree.

Among the worst of triggers is the inevitable question from a well-meaning family member or old friend, “when are you going to have kids?” or “when are you guys going to have number two!?”  The thing is, those who have been out of the fertility game for years or whose journey was different than yours often do not realize how painful these simple questions can be - or how complex the truth really is.

So how do you get through the holidays without drinking a bottle of wine and crying yourself to sleep at night?  There are some tools to get you through:

1. PREPARE. People will ask. The cards will come.  It’s inevitable and uncontrollable.  What you can control is knowing these things are coming your way and deciding ahead of time how you’re going to deal with them, mentally and emotionally.

2. BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF. Is it painful?  Yes.  Do you wish things were different?  Wholeheartedly. And the best you can do is talk to and treat yourself as you would anyone else who was experiencing what you are.  Do not beat yourself up.  For every negative thought you have, make sure to think another one of love and acceptance towards yourself. 

3. TRY NOT TO COMPARE. Comparing your journey to someone else’s is the kiss of death. Notice when you find yourself comparing and distract your thoughts with again, self compassion.  Remind yourself that you deserve happiness just as much as anyone else, and while your path may be different, you will get there.

Photo by  sydney zentz  on  Unsplash

As the questions about your intent to have a baby come, you essentially have three options as to how to answer.  Options being the keyword here.  You are in control of and can choose how you want to react, what you want to share, and who you want to share with.  You can either be honest, lie, or throw a bit of a curve ball.  Let’s explore these options:

1. BE HONEST. This can take on whatever form you are comfortable with but you do have the option to share your truth, to whatever extent you want.  You can explain that you’ve actually recently experienced a loss or that you are in fact trying IVF.  Often times when this information is shared, you learn more about the person that you’re sharing with than you would expect.  Fertility issues are so incredibly common that it only takes one person to open up to get others to share what they’ve been through.  You could be that person.  Also, it can feel good to be open about such a big part of your life and not feel like you have to “fake it.”

2. LIE.  Yes, here is permission to lie - but there are stipulations.  You don’t have to share anything at all.  You can easily dodge the conversation with the wave of a hand, say “we’re not ready yet,” and ask a question of the person you’re speaking with that will turn the topic on to them.  If you choose to keep your journey personal, that is your right and completely understandable.  But - do it because it is your right and it is personal, and not because you feel embarrassed, are disappointed in yourself or where you’re at, or are worried others will be uncomfortable.  Here is where the self compassion comes in again.  You are doing the very best you can every day.  You are stronger than you know.  This is your story to own.  How others feel about it is their business.  What matters is doing and saying what will help you.

3. “WHEN (Life/God/the Universe) FEELS WE ARE READY.”  (Use whatever higher power speaks to you.)  

It’s out there, right?  Hear me out.  It’s deep enough to end the conversation with those who can’t understand it, and yet for those who can understand it, it says everything.  In one sentence, it sums up that you do want a baby.  In fact, if you had complete control you’d have one in your arms right now, but it isn’t nearly that simple.

I’ve actually tried this one a few times and I can attest that it does either shut down the conversation, or elicit a knowing and compassionate nod.  In that case, either not much else needs to be said or it leads to support and inspiration from some of the people you’d least expect.  

In the end, your journey is an incredibly personal one and you must do what you are most comfortable with.  However you prepare and decide to handle these tricky interactions - make sure that, above all else, it feels right for you and that you make your choice and go forward with confidence.   

What’s the most awkward question you’ve received and how did you handle it?  

Share your story below!

Three Secrets To Maintaining A Morning Routine

Mornings are undeniably the most challenging time of the day for many.  There is inevitably the inner battle that begins when the alarm goes off - why ever leave that warm, comfortable, safe place called bed?  Yet, studies have proven that the most productive, centered, and successful people are early to rise and make the most of this time by implementing some self-care, both mentally and physically.  

Having a morning routine can help establish your mindset for the day by grounding and centering you so you are ready for whatever the day brings. It can also help tremendously in beating the morning blues - those days you wake up feeling melancholy, which can be especially common when recovering a pregnancy loss or when you’re battling fertility issues.

The secrets to maintaining a morning routine are:

  1. Make the decision to implement and stick to a morning routine that works for you. Commit.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Above all else - Eliminate Thinking.
Photo by  Kinga Cichewicz  on  Unsplash

Finding a series of activities that meet your needs and doing them on autopilot daily is the best way to ensure that you will stick to the routine and get the most out of it.  

First, decide how you want to feel during and after your morning routine.  Do you need to ease into your day in a comforting and nourishing way? Or do you jump out of bed with energy, ready to go?  The idea is to start you off in the best way possible so you are armed and ready for whatever the day brings.

When I created my morning routine, my primary goal was to fit in a daily meditation practice.  My secondary goal was to incorporate a warm lemon water ritual to support my digestion, balance my pH, and give me a daily vitamin C boost.  

Years ago, after much trial and error, I established that I need to get my exercise done in the morning. Power yoga is my ideal form of regular physical activity. I had a loose routine - wake up, drink water, put on clothes, go to class. Shower, dress, commute.  Not bad, but rushed and lacking a couple of things I knew deep down I needed.

When I made the decision to implement a morning routine that involved as little thinking as possible,, I broke it down to six activities I felt would meet my personal needs.

After the alarm, just about every morning goes like this:

  1. Hydrate:  I drink the glass of water I put at my bedside each night.  Our bodies dehydrate overnight and it’s important to get hydration in right way.

  2. Make my bed: Because I feel calmer when things are visually in their place and it gets my body moving around.

  3. Warm water with lemon: I go downstairs, heat up water + a few shakes of turmeric on the stove, and squeeze half of a lemon into a mug. (I add the turmeric because it is an incredible anti-inflammatory tool as well as an immune booster.)

  4. Smoothie: While I wait for the water to heat, I make my husband and I a smoothie.  This involves me sleepily throwing a combination of handfuls of leafy greens, frozen fruit, and almond milk in a blender, pushing the “liquify” button, and pouring the result into travel cups that go in the refrigerator for us to grab & go on our way. Sometimes they are great.  Sometimes they taste weird.  Either way, they are mood boosting coffee alternatives and are a great way to get in servings of vegetables and fruit on the go for fiber and nutrients.  Fruit is also easiest to digest on an empty stomach.

  5. Meditate: My lemon water and I go back upstairs and I do a 5 - 10 minute meditation, usually using one of the many guided meditation apps available, such as Insight Timer, Calm, Simple Habit, Headspace, or the website Fragrantheart.com.

  6. Move: Go to a yoga or barre class or practice yoga at home.

This may seem like a lot but the first five activities require only 25 or so minutes more added to my morning.  I do not think much as I do any of it, in fact, I couldn’t if I wanted to because my brain doesn’t start working until about an hour and a half after I wake up.

Sleep is critical but 25 minutes of snoozing the alarm has never resulted in the calmness I feel when I stick to the routine.

The few things I do the night before are:

  • Occasionally think about the smoothie I want to make or look up recipes to get ideas.
  • Always, always, bring that glass of water to bed with me so I can hydrate upon waking up.
  • Sign up for the yoga or barre class to commit myself to going.

What would you like to start treating yourself to in the morning, before the world needs you?  

How can you implement it in a simple way that requires little to no thinking at all?

TV Series 'Nashville' Schools The Public On Miscarriage

Last week’s 'Nashville' episode was a tough one.  For the record, not very long ago they killed off the main character and now this - they’re in serious competition with 'This Is Us' and 'Grey’s Anatomy' for the show that makes you sob the hardest.

"It is perfectly OK to not be OK right now."

This beautifully written piece by Big Bang Theory's Melissa Rauch is extremely honest, relatable and inspiring account of her path to motherhood thus far which includes a heartbreaking miscarriage.

She touches upon all the major pain points from the shock and intense grief, the feelings of guilt and hormone rollercoaster, to the social awkwardness put on women today when it comes to reproducing, all in a very empowering way.

I encourage everyone to read it, whether you have experienced pregnancy loss or know someone who has. And if you have - please know you're not alone and have my support.

Thank you, Melissa. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Actress Melissa Rauch Announces Her Pregnancy and Reflects on the Heartache of Miscarriage

By Melissa Rauch, JULY 11, 2017 12:00 PM