Kids · Self Care

Self Care Momma, self care

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As a single person, I did so much better with self care. I worked hard, played hard and remembered to take time for me. It was not unusual for me to work all day, take a nap, work all night, then go out and dance. Actually, it was my norm…oh the energy of your 20’s!  In my early 30’s, I slowed down, but still managed self care, yoga, art classes, reading books, exercise. Life was good…I still was busy, but life was good.

Then I had children. Now I love being a Mom, please don’t get me wrong.  The reality is though, once my kids came along, my self care took a hit. Art classes were replaced with coloring books and doing kid focused art projects, fun but not as rewarding. Yoga was replaced with baby and me classes, reading was a luxury that I know longer had time for, unless it was that five minutes sitting on the commode…when I didn’t get interrupted. (Okay, you all know I did not read, because what Mom can go to the bathroom for five minutes and not get interrupted?) Exercise consisted of chasing a toddler while wearing an infant. I simply did not have time, or maybe didn’t make the time.  I was caught up in motherhood.

My kids are a bit older now, 5 and 9. I am making more time for me…I work out on occasion. I read more. I spend more time with me. I have registered for a lot on online classes, but seem to get distracted before finishing them. There are many days I long for more me time, and know that instead I need to be mom.  There are other days that I feel like, “Forget those kids, I need me time. ”  Then the Momma guilt kicks in. The thing is I often feel like there just isn’t enough time to do EVERYTHING I NEED to do, let alone everything I WANT to do…so how can I have me time?  Or that is how I thought. Then some shifts happened in my personal life, and I realized, I can’t afford not to take time out for me. You see, my lack of self care wasn’t just affecting me, it was affecting those that I loved. I was tired. Not like your normal tired. I was bone dry, exhausted, overwhelmed and tapped out.  I didn’t laugh as much, and I most certainly wasn’t fun to  be around.  Fairly frequently, I was grumpy, maybe down right, well you know.

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I began my self care slowly. I actually took days off  while the kids were in school, and slept. I began building my friendships again. I scheduled nights out, with the girls…and appreciated other women making me laugh and relating to the craziness that is motherhood.  I reconnected with my tribe. My husband and I went on dates, and became friends again. I started getting manicures and pedicures…and not beating myself up for time wasted.  I said “no” more.  What I realized, was that I became a better wife, a better mother, a better therapist, and a  better enterpreneur. I was a healthier person when I took care of myself first.  It continues to be a journey.  Sometimes, I say yes too much. Sometimes, I feel guilt for not being able to be there for someone. Sometimes,  I still long for my single days, where I just cared for me.  Sometimes, I hear other people say spend as much time with your kids as you can, they grow up fast and feel sad. I also try to remember that when I take time for me, I am taking time for them too.  In it all, I just try and find balance, and not let any one area get so far out of  line that I end up dropping all areas.  For you see, yes, I am a Mom  and a Wife and  a friend and a therapist and an entrepreneur and a school volunteer and (put your own “and” in here). However,  I am a person first.  A person with limited time and energy.  A person who loves being all those things so much, that she knows she has to pull in, to do all of those things well, some of the time. So Momma, let go of the guilt. Go do something for you, and remember, you are doing it for your kids….they need to see you making yourself a priority, so they learn how to make themselves a priority.

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Love and Healing,

Laura

Personal Relationships · Self Care

I am not perfect, I am a therapist

I had a friend say to me, “Oh my god, I am so glad to hear you lose it, it makes me feel better to know you are a therapist and sometimes lose your cool.”  Uhm, yes…I am human. I lose my mind, I curse, at times I do stupid stuff…this morning, half way through my morning, I realized I had my pants on backwards…they are yoga pants, do they really have a front and a back?  The thing is, when you are sitting on this side of the couch, it is easy to appear like you have it all together and you are perfect. Spend twenty minutes with me though, and you will know that is far from how I see myself.  Far from how I live my life.

I make mistakes. My kids drive me crazy. Sometimes, I yell and then have the Mommy guilt afterward. I forget to get my oil changed. I frequently lose my keys.  Occasionally, I want to leave it all behind and go sit drinking some kind of fru-fru drink in Bora Bora.  I am human. It is that humaneness that gives me compassion, kindness and understanding of my clients. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.  I have been on both sides of the couch, and well the therapist that just sits there, and does not show me their humanity, is not the one I want or need. I need to know that you are real…that you screw up. How do you expect me to be vulnerable with you, if I think that you are perfect? I hope that I can offer my clients the same. I hope that they can see my imperfections, and feel safe to be vulnerable…I mean that whole opening yourself up is hard enough…let alone to someone who can’t let you see them.

As I sit across the couch from you, there is no judgement. Why? Because I know you are learning. I know what if feels like to try to figure out your path, and to fall off of it. I screw up too.  I want those in my life to offer me the same kind of positive regard I try and offer my clients. There are going to be times I am off base, run late, or am just struggling. There are times when I have had an argument with a loved one, and while I try to check it at the door, and be fully present for you,  my thoughts may wander for a minute. I could try and hide it, but as my client, you will see I don’t hide my emotions well, and comment.  I will own it, and refocus. There will be other times, that I see and feel your pain so deeply, that I will tear up with you. My focus so on that you will think I have read your mind. You see, I am not perfect. I see it in you, and you see it in me.

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I often joke that perfection is like a unicorn, you can chase it all day, but even if you do catch it, it will end up being a goat. No one is perfect. However, I am perfectly imperfect. I own my imperfections.  I try and make them better. I try and make healthy choices, and sometimes I royally mess things up. However, I learn.  That is my gift to my clients. I learn and I am willing to share those experiences with you. I am willing to be real with you. In doing so, I create a safe place to witness your mistakes because I was fortunate enough to have someone along the line witness mine. They held me accountable with love, and now that I have done a good deal of healing, I can do the same for you. Hopefully, as we go through the process of healing, you are learning too.  You will fall down, you will feel guilt, but in being your authentic self, you allow someone else to see you, which opens the door to healing wounds.  That is the point of this whole exercise right? To learn, grow, change and find greater happiness? If we can embrace our humanity, and allow ourselves to love each other regardless…this thing we call life might just get a little easier.

Personal Relationships · Self Care

Your Just Not My type of Crazy

As a Mom of two, I frequently meet other Mommas, and hope there is a connection. I mean, there really should be a connection…our kids are the same age, they go to the same school/camp/club, our values are similar, we end up at the same events and are Facebook friends…yet when we talk, there isn’t a vibe. This used to happen when I was dating too, the guy seemed great, he was sweet, caring, we seemed to have similar values, yet he maybe didn’t get my quirky humor or couldn’t relate to those deeper things that mattered to me. Most of us have experienced this on some level. That whole feeling of on paper we are a perfect match, in reality…well, quite frankly it is easier talking to a wall.  Now I am friendly enough with these people, however, I often walk away confused…like, “huh, everything seemed right…what went wrong there?” On the other hand, I have met people that look so different from me, yet when we meet there is such a deep connection  that it feels like we are picking up a friendship that we left off just yesterday. (Maybe we are, past lives anyone?) It was like when we met, we were updating each other on our lives, and then returning to a friendship that had always been. I had a friend that used to call these people “Old Sames”. I love that.

So how come some people are the wall and others are the old sames? How can some feel so off, and others feel so right? What I have discovered is that they are just not my type of crazy. Over the years, I have discovered I don’t think like most people. I take those surveys on personality type and always fall in the 10 percent range….that means the reality is I don’t think like 90 percent of the population.  This means that even if everything looks like it should be a match, it won’t always be, because I am seeing things through odd color lenses. As a kid into my early 20’s, I always thought that there was something wrong with me. I mean, how could there be so many people out there that just seem so bizarre to me? However, as I have begun to embrace my difference…I realized that there is nothing wrong with me, it’s just my connection to others take a little more time to grow. When I do connect, those connections are usually long-term, deep and fulfilling in a way that makes it worth the wait.desperate-2057116_1920 (1)

So, why am I sharing this? Who cares? Well the reality is that all of us occasionally see through odd color lenses. All of us have met those people who seemed like they should be a good fit, yet the connection is not there. During times of transition, like  graduating college, getting married, becoming a mom, getting a divorce, going into a career, empty nesting, becoming the matriarch or patriarch in your family or retiring….you are redefining who you are, and what your role of in life is. When in motion, you may find it difficult to connect to your old sames. You are growing as a person, as a soul, and those around you may not fit into your particular crazy…especially if you are the first or last in your peer group to meet these milestones.  Often, when we are in a growth period, we want to meet others like us, that are experiencing similar things…yet because we are growing, we are not providing stable grounds to plant  or grow the gardens of friendship. During those growth periods, it is hard to find old sames. However, it is also time when you really crave finding those that are like you, and each perceived rejection or lack of fit can feel like an affirmation that you are odd and alone. The thing is, is that you are growing, and growth can be difficult and lonely…knowing that it doesn’t last forever, and knowing that your old sames are out there, and you will find them, just as soon as you are on stable grounds again can be comforting.

When I am not connecting, I try to remember that all things need room to grow and that   those I am supposed to be connecting with are also growing parallel. (I often visualize baby oaks in the forest, as a sprout they are so tiny, young and far apart. As they grow,  the space between them appears smaller and their branches begin to touch.) For example, I met this women in my birthing class, by all means, we had a lot in common, but did not really connect. Fast forward, 5 years, another child and the births of our individual businesses later, and we were old sames. We felt like we had known each other for years, even though we could not remember for months where we originally met.  When we finally made the connection, the question was “How did we take months of classes together, but not connect?”  Our crazy at the time did not match. We had to go through more experiences that helped us grow to a point where we could begin to discover the similarities of our paths.  The great thing now, is that months can go by, and while we may not  talk due to our busy lives, we know we can pick up the phone, and connect heart to heart, exactly where we left off.

As you continue to grow, your old sames will appear. Trust that if you  feel you are walking alone, that you are not truly alone…your old sames are walking the path next to you. They are just veiled by the fog of your own personal crazy. As the mists dissipates or their crazy begins to grow into yours, you will begin to reconnect with those that were there all the while.

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12 Things I have learned with my years of living with thyroid disease

At 17 years old, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My body, being the odd body it is, stayed true to form, and showed all the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, none of they signs of hypo.   My diagnosis came at at time when I thought I was invincible. Hearing that I would have to monitor and take a medication for the rest of my life felt like a life sentence. Doctors told me not to worry too much, it was manageable. You take a little pill every day, get blood work done every six months, it is fine, it’s really not a big deal. I guess as far as lifetime illnesses go, they were right, it was not a big deal. Except, well they lied. It is a big deal. There was so much they did not tell me, there is so much that I have learned on this 25 year journey they left out.

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The information I am sharing is from my years of experience. Hopefully, it can help you if you are on this journey.

  1. All kinds of medications interact with your thyroid meds. Read the labels. Shortly after being diagnosed, I was doing a long distance drive. I had a cold and stopped to take some cold medicine. To be exact, Tylenol cough and cold…that was my first experience with the interaction with thyroid and over the counter medications. Initially feeling slightly off progressed into my head tingling, literally feeling the hairs grow out the top of my head and very confused, I had to pull over…my cold had suddenly become an out-of-body experience. Reading the box closer, it said in very small print, may interact with thyroid medications.  It would have been nice to have this warning prior…yeah I know you are supposed to read the labels. However, being young, and thyroid disease being no big deal…I didn’t. I learned.
  2. Blood work is more often than once every 6 months, until you get your thyroid regulated. It is usually every 6-8 weeks until it falls within the “range” . Once you are in the range, doctors will go to once every 6 months, then once a year.
  3. Just because you are in “range” does not mean you will feel good. The range is broad, and some people feel better on the bottom end of the range, some on the top. Often times, medical doctors don’t ask how you are feeling, but they check your blood work, and if you are in the range, “you are good.” This isn’t true. Find a medical provider that will work with you, and ask how your body is feeling.
  4. The range has a spectrum that affects your mood. One end can be brain fog and depression, the other end, crisp thinking but high anxiety. This can happen within the range. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it could be your thyroid.
  5. You need to familiarize yourself with what the ranges…although range differences were recommended back in 2003, (referred to as new ranges) a lot of doctors, insurance plans, and labs use the there are old ranges. The old ranges give a much wider norm, so it can look normal but still be out of range for the new ranges.  Here is a great article on ranges: The TSH Normal Range: Why is there still a controversy?
  6. Thyroid symptoms often look like mental health disorders…Bi-Polar, ADD, depression, and anxiety all have similar symptoms to inappropriately regulated thyroid disease. If you have thyroid disease, before they medicate you for one of the other issues, make sure that your thyroid is properly managed, and that they have played with the range to see if you feel better on one end of the spectrum versus the other.  Many people are misdiagnosed with these disorders, only to find out the root cause is the thyroid. If you are working with a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, make sure they truly understand the impact thyroid disease and management has on mental health.
  7. Thyroid affects your fertility and your ability to carry a pregnancy. I had one doctor insist that I was in the “range” so I was fine. After two years of trying to get pregnant, I insisted on an endocrine specialist…my doctor acted like I was ridiculous. ” You are in range, and this is an easy thing to manage, it isn’t your thyroid. I am not doing it.” After a conflict  with me stating “if you don’t refer me out, I will be having a discussion with the board”, he referred me to a specialist. The specialist was dismayed after my first blood test “You were so hepped up on thyroid meds, there was no way you were getting pregnant.” It took me nine months to get into an acceptable range.  She told me I was where I needed to be at the end of September,  I found out I was pregnant in December.
  8. My experience was that my OB’s were better at managing my medications than my internist. They seem to get the importance of it. After having my first child, I asked my internist to keep me in the same range. He refused. When I asked the specialist to do the same, she did. Quality of life had a huge improvement.
  9. Your thyroid medication is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach, except if you are on a natural one, like nature-throid, which does not need the stomach acid to break through the coating. That being said, sometimes, breaking your dose in half and taking half in the morning and half in the afternoon can help with the mid-day lull.
  10. Sometimes, even when you are doing everything right, you still feel like crap. A lot of doctors, don’t look at the underlying causes of thyroid disease. For many it is a thing called adrenal fatigue, which means that your adrenals are off. No matter how regulated your are, if your adrenals are off, you are going to still feel awful. Finding a doctor that is also open and willing to discuss adrenal fatigue for me was imperative to getting better.
  11. Love yourself. Give yourself permission to be tired and self care…you have an autoimmune disease, it really is a big deal…allow yourself to rest.
  12. Lastly, trust you body. You know it better than any professional. If you are not feeling right, advocate for yourself. Don’t give up. It took me going through 5 doctors before I finally found one that was willing to listen. Once I found a practitioner that was willing to work with me, my health began to change. Hang in there!

Continue reading “12 Things I have learned with my years of living with thyroid disease”

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Finding Your Voice

Hidden deep in our soul, are the whispers of our truth. Spirit does not yell, it nudges, it hints, it guides, and encourages. As babies, as children, we are in tune with the voice of our soul. We know what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what makes us angry and we are able to express it. Infants scream for what they want, the world responds. Two year olds will defiantly yell “no” for things they do not like. They know how to express themselves. Children will say what they think and feel without fear. Ever see one of those kids that will just walk up to another person and say “Hey want to be friends?” Then the two go off to play whatever game it was? Early teenagers will often say what they think, even when they know they won’t like the consequences. We KNOW how to express ourselves coming into the world.
Then something happens. At some point during our childhood a shift happens. The shift happens a different times for each of us, but for almost all of us, it happens. After years of being told not to say this or that, to hush, to follow the rules, that this or that is rude, quit being disrespectful, that that dream is not realistic or you can’t do that and make a living… we shut down our inner voice. We tune it out. We ignore it. We silence it….or at least we attempt to. Many of us do this to adapt to the expectations of this world. We do it to please others. We do it because we are told that is the only way to make it in this world we live in. We do it because we buy the lie…the lie that in order to be happy, we have to silence the whispering of our conscience. Our soul is not so easily silenced though. It persists, it continues to whisper, it continues to nudge…and if we don’t listen, it creates a conflict in us. It creates anxiety, depression and a host of other issues.
Our soul continues to guide us. It speaks to us through our body….our bodies react to situations and energiesthat are both good and bad. If we pay attention,  our body will give us signals that tell us what is right for us, and what is wrong.  Take a moment, consider two equal choices, and really pay attention to your body…did one of the two choices make you feel heavier, more dense? Did one feel lighter?  Tuning into our bodies is one way to really begin to listen to our inner voice.

Another way our soul communicates is through dreams. Images flash before our eyes, sometimes sweet and lulling, other times haunting and jarring…both meant to either verify or help you question your path. Our dreams are symbols for our waking world, ways for us to incorporate our lives in a language our subconscious understands. Our inner reality then responds, sending images to help us.

As you go through your day, my challenge to you would be to really begin to listen your inner voice. To take time to hear the whispers, and notice the synchronicities.

Kids

Talking about sex with your kids

So a few weekends ago, my friend and I took  the kids to the Museum of Science and Industry. Now, I am all about educating children about their body parts, so I was super excited about the human body exhibit.  Seeing teen parents first hand, I am all about having your children know what sex is, long before they are contemplating having it. I was a sexual abuse counselor for a lot of years, so it is important to me that my kids know the proper name of genitalia.I know education is one of the best ways to help prevent sexual abuse. Give kids the proper name…a penis is not a ding dong, a weiner, a one eyed snake, it is a penis…empower your kids, give them the tools to be able to tell if someone touches them inappropriately. The best age to teach kids the name of their sex organs is the same time you teach them the name of their head, shoulders, knees and toes….make a couple of extra stops and teach breast, buttocks, penis, vulva and vagina.

The museum had a whole display on the developing fetus (awesome!)…the questions of how does the baby get in there were answered and discussed when I was pregnant with my second. We read the books when he was four and five about how the sperm and the ovum come together, and a baby is conceived. At age six, my son asked me a burning question “How does the sperm get in there Mom?”   My son “really needed to know”, like it was this universal puzzle and he just could not figure it out. So, true to form and in alignment with my belief that knowledge is power,  we had the sex conversation at six. He was informed that each child develops at their own pace, and that it is not his job to educate his peers, their parents needed to this. Amazingly, he followed this request.

The next display at the museum was on the developing body. Since I have boys, and one is nine, puberty is not far off,  we focused on the male body…how the scrotum drops, the penis extends, they get hair under their pits and in their pelvic area. I am standing there thinking “okay this is good…a natural way to bring up the conversation, I want him to be prepared.”  (This is that part of the story, where you feel like a good parent….) A girl came by, all the boys ran in a circle away from the video, and then came running back to gather the needed education. In proud Momma form, I stood by to answer questions, but allowed them to discover.

As my son and his friend ran ahead, while I helped my younger one with another exhibit,  I could see them watching a video. I sat down just in time to catch the tail end of the show. Thank goodness, I did. It gave me just enough to to gather my wits.

Now, I thought I was prepared. I thought okay, sex conversations are just touch ups from here on out.  He has the basics, so around age twelve, we can start having he conversations about condoms and birth control. However, I was not quite prepared for this trip to the museum. You see, my kids learned more science than industry. The barrage of questions started:

  • Mom, what is an STD? A sexually transmitted disease.
  • How can you get them? by having sex.
  • Does everyone get them? not everyone, but everyone can get them.
  • Can you get rid of them? some you can, others you cant. There are different levels. Explained the levels and types.
  • Do they hurt? some do. Some you don’t know you have.
  • Can they kill you? some can.
  • What is the best way to not get them? by not having sex, but you can prevent them by taking care of your body, and making sure you and your mate are clean when you decide to mate
  • Do You have an STD? (WHAT In The WORLD!) Well my love, that is a question you ask your mate, and since you and I are not going to mate, that is not a question you need the answer too. 

For days the questions came, just as they had when he first learned about sex, and he “had to know, how does the sperm get in there.”  I answered each question, just as I had then, in a honest, matter of fact tone…the boring tone that gave facts, not judgement. I answered the questions because he asked, and if kids ask, they are ready for the answers.  Too often, as parents, we think we know when the right time will be, but with sex talk, it is about letting your child take the lead. Allow the conversations to come up, answer honestly right from the start. Sex is a natural part of life, and when you treat it as such, your kids feel safe.  It is hard to have these conversations, it is.  I just believe, that if they can have these conversations with you, then they can have them with their future partner/s and not be embarrassed.

At the end of the week, my son said to me “Mom, you know, I think I am going to wait until I am thirty to have sex, it is just too dangerous.”  With my Momma pride about to burst, I thought:  I hope you make safe choices son,  I hope you do.

Love and Healing,

Laura

For more information on educating your kids about sex:

All About Kids Health

Mayo Clinic/Sex Ed

RAINN/Protecting Your child from Sexual Assault

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First Post

Frequently, during the course of the week, themes come up in my counseling sessions. It always amazes me when this phenomena happens. After all theses years, you would think I would have become used to it. I haven’t. At some point in the last couple of weeks, it dawned on me… I have been ignoring one of the first things that I learned about myself during my process of self discovery. You see, these synchronicities are whispers from my spiritual guides, inner voice, God, Goddess, angels’ (you choose). It is my higher power’s way of letting me know something. When repeat patterns happen, it is the Universe’s way of encouraging  me to move forward….to let me know it is time to take action.

Today my action is to share this blog. Hopefully, as it progresses, it will become a place of healing, a place of sharing, a place to enlighten others.

So, as you read my posts, the syncrhonicities,  along with my daily experiences of being a working mom of two,  a wife, a friend, a sister and a  therapist will be the inspiration for my posts. I hope to talk about issues that come up for all of us, issues that may not be easy to talk about, but that are real and are evidence of our humanity. Sometimes the posts will be really therapeutic in nature, and sometimes they will just be real talk. Either way, I hope you find value in them.

Love and healing,

Laura