Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Things I am Grateful for from 2013

When I was younger I used to tear a piece of notebook paper with frayed edges from my school notebook during my Christmas break. I would write down all of the things I was thankful for for that year. I haven't done this since the late 90's but thought of it recently. I decided to do it this year and hopefully do it from each year on! So here it goes:

  1. 34 months with our amazing girl. So far the 2's have been my favorite and I'm so excited to see what else comes!
  2. A stronger marriage
  3. Another year with our golden retriever
  4. Friends and Family
  5. Our daughter having two awesome sets of grandparents who love her and are a part of her life even though they are 9 hours and 14 hours away!
  6. Counseling
  7. Exercise
  8. Being able to afford the above two things
  9. A new adventure in a school nurse job
  10. Being able to quit my hospital job
  11. Being able to fix our broken motor mount, 02 sensor, struts, shocks, tires, and more on our cars without having to charge it - even though it sucked
  12. Being home when our hot water heater burst and also when it had a gas leak - things would have been so much worse had we not been home for both.
  13. Being debt free (again)
  14. Learning to stand up for myself more 
  15. Books 
  16. Obtaining my Childbirth Educator Certification
  17. Learning more about myself and steps to change the things I need to change
  18. New opportunities for family members and friends
  19. Realizing what I am good at doing (more to come on this in January)
  20. My husband getting recognition for his work
  21. Another year here on earth!

(I feel I am forgetting some but that is it for now! I might have to edit it and update later!)

What are some of the things you are thankful for this year?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Save the Children Disaster Report 2013

I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in June 2006. In all honesty, I have been more scared of storms in the past 6 years than I ever have been in my whole life. Nashville and the surrounding areas were battered with tornadoes just three months before I moved here. I had never heard a tornado siren before living here nor had I known how I would long for a storm shelter. 

Then in 2011, we had a 500 or 1000 year flood and it shut down the city. Friends couldn't get home from work for over a week. People lost their homes, their life's work. We had to be put on water restrictions because one of our water treatment plants were impacted huge by the flood. Schools were flooded and had to stay closed.

But disasters aren't just natural ones. They can be man made ones. Our schools now must be prepared for what to do if a shooting or other man-made disaster should happen. 

When they announced the Save the Children Diaster Report for 2013 was out, I was curious how Tennessee measured up. For once, it seems, we got a great report card!  Check out the pic below.

Click on the picture to find out how your state did!

Sad to say but in our house, we don't have a plan in place. This week was safety week at Abbey Grace's preschool. The day she had a firefighter come and talk with her school we figured we should have a plan of where to go to if the house ever caught on fire.

They say hind-sight is 20/20 and that is usually what it takes to learn what to do the next time around. But it shouldn't have to take it personally happening to us to get prepared and have a plan in place. Check out this plan and set up something for your family:

Check out your states report card and see how they measure up. If they don't measure up well, then contact your representatives. If they do, make sure the plan is being implemented.

I don't know the full details of my daughter's preschools plans but I am going to email them to find out.

And now being a school nurse, I am going to make sure our school is taking steps to be prepared and I am going to learn my role and speak up for what needs to be done.

I was in nursing school at the University of Louisiana at Monroe when Hurricane Katrina hit. I remember watching it on our news during class. Several classmates were from south Louisiana. The Gulf Coast was use to being warned about hurricanes but they usually turned before hitting directly. But as we watched it grow and grow and show no signs of turning and people chose to stay or were just then deciding to evacuate, it was too late. Obviously, Louisiana was not prepared in any way for that. While our nursing school made care packages to take to our Civic Center to pass out to the incredibly large number of people who came to our area, it was evident that no one in the state would remain unaffected by Katrina. Our little town was bursting at the seams and we were not prepared either. With all that said, this quote below still stuns me! I could not imagine going six months without my child! 

Does your family have a plan? And how does your state measure up?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Remembering Why I Started This...

It's been a year since I started this blog. I haven't been consistent at all. I lie to you and tell you I will write more frequently and then I don't. I have wonderful intentions. I constantly think of things I need to write about and even write them out in my head. But for some reason I never take the time to open my computer and actually do it.

When I started this blog, I was at a very weird place in my life. I wouldn't admit it to anyone at the time but I was in a very dark and scary place. The business I had started when my sweet daughter was just 9 months old had failed. I was just grasping the reality of it. She was also turning 18 months and time had flown by. It was by far the hardest year of our marriage: we both started a business our first year of becoming parents and he was also back out of tour so we were only seeing each other 2-4 days a week.

I was scared to sound weird or needy by saying I was in a dark place. I thought if I could just find an outlet, I could get better. I started writing and then would stop and start and stop. When I would finally complete something, I would think, "I should have done better." So this kept me from writing. I wanted to to be perfect not ok, I wanted awesome not average. But the truth is, I am new to writing. It takes time to develop these skills.

And it takes time to become a good mom, a good business woman, a good wife, a good parent. For some reason, I have no patience with the process.

At some point I'll share with you more about my dark place and how I got out and continue to dig out in bad times.

But today, I just wanted to actually write something. I started this blog because I realized last summer that every single decision I make affects the world. Maybe not in a profound way but it does affect it. And it hit my like a ton of bricks one night that what I teach my daughter and what she sees me do and what she hears me say will shape her whole life. And then she will go on to shape someone else's and the ripple affect is started.

Sometimes that just seems too much to bear to have that much influence so we want to ignore it but even it we try and deny it, the truth is that all of our decisions can make someone else's life better or worse.

We are all carrying the world on our hips as parents. It's easy to get overwhelmed (and boy do I get overwhelmed!) but we have to choose what is really important in those moments and focus on that.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Heartbreak Over a Binkie-Boo and a Parenting Break Through

Tonight is the 3rd night in a row that our sweet princess is sleeping without her pacifier or as we call it, her "Binkie-Boo."

Our daughter is almost 2 1/2 now and this pacifier habit has been hard to kick. I think people can give up meth easier than a toddler can give up a pacifier. A couple nights ago we couldn't find a binkie-boo that wasn't broken. She is getting her 2 year molars so she constantly chews on them. We told her that once they were all broken that was it and there would be no more. That night we looked under every cushion, pile of clothes, in her kitchen set, everywhere, and we couldn't find one.

I figured this opened up a great opportunity to end her love for them so I made a deal with her: Sleep without binkie-boo and you can get the Cinderella Dress for Bunny at Build-a-Bear. She loved this idea and we went to bed tear-free. She slept like a champ without it until 5am when she woke up crying for it. The tired mama I was grabbed her broken binkie-boo and let her have it.

The next morning she asked for it and I reminded her of our deal. She decided to sweeten the pot a little and changed it to this: "No Cinderella dress for Bunny mama. Cinderella dress for Abbey." Deal kiddo!  Plus, what mom doesn't want to see her little girl dressed up like a princess!

We got to the mall, went to the Disney store, played with everything in there and left with her Cinderall dress. As soon as we got in the car she started crying for her binkie-boo. Then we got home and it continued. She cried and screamed for almost 2 hours. It was the full body flailing, head banging on floor, kicking, screaming, meltdown. She wouldn't let us hold her or console her. The hubs, myself, and our golden retriever all laid on her bedroom floor with her the whole time until she finally cried herself to sleep.

She has had a pacifier since she was 2 months old. She has had this thing for almost her whole little life. And now it is gone. It's not like a fun toy or hobby she can't use any more. It was her soother, her safety net, her pacifier! My sweet little girl just had to give up one of her favorite things in the world. Her heart was breaking. And mine was too. It was my little girl's first heartache. Her first loss.

It would have been really easy to get fed up with her behavior, leave her alone to cry it out, yell at her, or a number of other things. (I'm sure someone is going to say we were wrong for letting her cry that long without giving it back to her.) But we were there with her and sang to her and tried to console her. Even though we couldn't get the screaming stopped, she knew that mommy and daddy were there for her during this incredibly sucky (or lack of sucking device) time in her life. But I learned some important things during this experience. I think these tips can be used for most things when it comes to toddlers.

So for parents of children with a strong attachment to their pacifiers, here are my tips:
Note: we aren't completely out of the woods yet but so far this is what I have learned and what has helped us.

  • Talk about why they don't need it and discuss giving it up before you do. 
    • Our talk started over a month ago and it didn't happen with the talk. But this at least gets the thought in their little heads.
  • Start helping them find alternative soothers. 
    • The past two nights we have sang lots of songs, we play with her hair, and I run my fingers lightly across her arms. All things she can do when she is alone and needs comfort. 
  • Make a deal with them.  
    • We offered the Cinderella dress for Bunny then she upped the deal the next morning. Be flexible but make sure you stick with whatever you tell them.
  • Don't do this when you are out of patience, having a bad week, exhausted, etc. 
    • Make sure you are in a good place emotionally. This will take a lot of patience. 
  • Put yourself in their shoes.
    • What would you hate to give up more than anything? How would it affect you? What would you do if couldn't have coffee, chocolate, carbs, wine, alone time, etc.? 
    • Think of all the years you have had to master self-control. Have you? Do you ever lash out or get upset over something? Remember, this is a 2 year old who is still learning and practicing.
  • Stay with them even if they don't want you to touch them or hold them. 
    • Think of when you were too upset for anyone to be able to console you. Doesn't it help just to know that someone is in the room in case you change your mind? Their little hearts are breaking over giving this up and they don't understand these emotions or know how to control them. They are being bad or acting up. They are simply just showing you how bad this sucks to give up their pacifier. Being present in the room with them is showing them you love them even if they don't want to be near you at the moment. 
Remember, they are still learning. They aren't a mini adult. They don't have the ability to sit quietly or blog about their loss. They just throw a fit. They aren't being bad or acting up. They are just feeling some extremely strong emotions and have to show them because they are still learning how to control them. (I should read this every day to keep me in check!)

She was playing on my computer the day we lost her binkie-boo. The last Binkie-Boo picture.

Our Princess!

What are ways you helped break the pacifier habit?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Save the Children's Food for Thought

If it wasn't there before, once you become a mom, a deep felt connection to the women of the world comes alive in you. You see other moms in a new light. You see a mom, whether in your neighborhood or around the world, and your heart hurts for her. You see the tears in her eyes as she holds a sick child or as she buries a child. You feel your heart strings tug and you hold your child closer, giving them a kiss and sending up a "Thank You" for your child being healthy in this moment. 

Save the Children is working to help save other moms from the pain and heartache of watching their child not develop  properly or worse, having to watch their child starve to death. In their new report, Food for Thought, they give all the facts of how devastating malnutrition is, especially in the first 1,000 days of a child's life. (This includes conception to the child's 2nd birthday). As devastating and heartbreaking malnutrition is, it is very possible to stop this problem. From educating farmer, parents, and leaders to increasing funding for food programs, deaths from malnutrition can be slowed and stopped. 

As an American mom in the middle class, I have never had to know the pains of unwanted hunger. I have never had to watch my child cry their self to sleep because they hadn't eaten all day and new their would be no breakfast tomorrow. For moms who are pregnant in developing countries, they have to choose what good is available for them, when some is available.  

What can you do to help the women and children of the world? You can always get involved with Save The Children. You can also contact your local government to let them know the issues important to you, advocacy is a huge underused tool. Another way you can make a difference in the world is to start at home. What do you mean, Samantha? I mean, we as moms who have the ability to feed our children healthy,  nutritious foods should. We should teach our children to enjoy and savor the delicious fact that we have the ability to feed them nutritious foods because their is a chance that someone near you is food insecure. (Read this post to learn more about food issues in the US as well.)

Here is one of my favorite meals to make that is full of nutrients to feed your children. I'm lucky that my daughter loves veggies so hopefully yours will like this too! In honor of the G8 Summit and all of the important things to come, here is a Gr8 recipe.

Yummy Veggie Fajitas

4 Bell Peppers (any color)
2 Onions
3 Carrots
2 Zucchini
1 Head of Broccoli
Fajita Seasoning

1. Rinse Veggies
2. Chop them up.
3. Heat oil in pan.
4. Sprinkle veggies with seasoning.
5. Simmer veggies until desired crunch or lack of. 
6. Serve with tortillas, cheese, and hot sauce, if desired. 

 Bonus: Save leftovers and make veggie quesadillas the next night!! 

To help you understand more of what is in the Save the Children report, please keep reading! 

You might remember my post about how breastfeeding can save lives which was based on another Save the Children report. This current report goes a step further in feeding children after or in addition to breastfeeding. If mom isn't getting the nutrients she needs while pregnant or while breastfeeding then everything is slowed down including brain development. 

Here are some facts showing how children without proper nutrition are affected: (from the Food for Thought Report)
  • 12.5% more likely to make writing mistakes
  • 7% more likely to make a math mistake
  • 19% less likely to read a simple sentence by age 8
  • 12% less likely to write a simple sentence
  • 13% less likely to be in the correct grade of school for their age
This report from Save the Children shows that only 0.3% of global development funds is spent on nutrition programs. 

Save the Children is urging the world's leaders to take this problem seriously and to see how we, the world, can make a positive impact on the rest of the world. Here is what they are urging our leader to do and I think it's pretty awesome!

This was taken directly from the Food for Thought report:

Donors and developing country governments must seize this historic opportunity and make the commitments needed to tackle malnutrition. They should:

  1. 1  Support and finance national plans to
    scale up nutrition. Announce commitments
    to develop, and provide technical and financial support to, the implementation of evidence-based, costed nutrition plans at the country level, in SUN-member and other high-burden countries.

  2. 2  Declare and meet interim impact targets by 2016 as part of the global goal to alleviate the burden of malnutrition in children by 2025. These must include stunting reduction targets, be aligned with the World Health Assembly nutrition targets and be based on country needs.18
  1. 3  Enhance nutrition-sensitivity of agriculture initiatives so food-based approaches can contribute more to improving nutritional status.
    –  Reform the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and include accountability mechanisms  with detailed public plans to achieve maternal and child nutrition impacts
    –  Adapt the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) to incentivise nutrition-sensitive approaches to agriculture.

  2. 4  Ensure nutrition is a core part of the
    G8 Accountability Report. Continue and enhance the nutrition chapter from the 2012 Accountability Report. Move towards comparable tracking of nutrition funding, outcomes and impacts with a mechanism for published annual updates on progress.

  3.  5 Recognise the importance of nutrition for cognitive and educational development, and ensure         that nutrition is integrated as a key component of early years’ programming, including in early childhood care and development programmes.

  4. 6 Integrate stimulation interventions into early years’ programmes, in order to mitigate the impacts of malnutrition on children’s cognitive development. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unconscious = NO!

This post has been brewing in my head since I first read the news story about the Steubenville Rape Case.  This story gets my blood pressure boiling. This morning I read a blog post by Jenny Rae Armstrong which references this news article by Dan Wetzel on Yahoo! Sports. And then I read this post by Shayne Moore who is co-author of Refuse to Do Nothing. After reading these, I realized I couldn't keep my opinions to myself any longer.

After talking with someone about this story, they asked why this was national news. I thought for a minute and maybe it is because the football team is famous, maybe. But maybe it is because it is time that this is finally brought to light. In that same conversation they said that it really shouldn't be news because "this happens all the time, girl-gets-drunk-boys-take-advantage, so this makes it not news worthy." REALLY!!! Because it happens all the time it isn't news worthy!!! This person went on to say that "they shouldn't be labeled rapist or sex-offenders because that places them in the same category as serial rapists, child pornography collectors/viewers, and more." I can see their point, but at the same time they were wrong, it was at least sexual assault which would place them in the sex offender category anyway. I also heard, "Well they were the same age or a year older so why should it be that bad?" ARE YOU F-ING SERIOUS????? If I was raped or received any unwanted sexual touching by another 29 year-old would that make it less bad???? 

I kept going over these comments and thoughts until my anger went to heartbreaking sadness. How in the world is it 2013 and we live in a world with more slaves than ever before, most of which are sex-slaves? How is it that people feel more sympathy for the young men who performed unwanted sexual acts on a 16 year-old girl who was passed out than for the young girl?

Oh that reminds me of another argument I heard, "Would it really affect her since it wasn't actual sex, but penetration with the fingers? It wasn't like she was really raped?" O-M-G!!!! Just stop right there! She was freaking unconscious and any, ANY, A-N-Y, touching, that is not wanted is WRONG!!! I don't care if it was a stripper, let alone a 16 year-old girl, NO ONE should be touched when they don't want to be and definitely not when they are unconscious. Unconscious = NO!

How have we come to this point that the other young men riding around in the car with them and watching this take place in the home, didn't think it was wrong? If it weren't for social media, the poor girl would have never known what really happened. She would have just felt that something happened but never have known for sure. With social media, not only did people "hear" about it at school but they read about it and they saw pictures of her. Social media takes rumors and gossip to a whole new level making it harder to deny something happened and making it harder for this young lady to recover.

In the news article above, it said she didn't know what to do when she found out, she didn't know if she should tell. Why? She was violated. Why should any girl or woman ever feel like they shouldn't tell when they have been touched when they didn't want to be or even know they were being touched inappropriately? How have we not gotten further than this? Why do girls and women still feel powerless when it comes to standing up for themselves and their own bodies? Why do boys and men feel they can touch us however and whenever they want?

Part of it is because they know the defense will dig up their entire past and drag this out as long as possible. The defense attorneys, others they know, exes, and so on will tell of why their past is tainted and they basically deserve this. People always feel sorry for the girl when she is completely innocent but when she has even the tiniest bit of a sexual past, she is made out to seem like she was "asking for it." It isn't just men saying this, it's women. We as a society have made the victims feel they are to blame. When in all reality they are truly victims who will live with these actions taken against them for the rest of their lives.

This is beyond sad. Is our world really raising boys like they are simply animals that wear clothes and have the ability to talk? Do our young men hear, "Here son, you have a penis and that gives you the right to do whatever you want in this world, including do whatever you want to girls without any repercussion. You are a boy and girls are just a whole to stick your things in?" If that isn't what we are telling them, then why do stories like this keep happening, not just here, but around the world?

Looking at my 2 year-old daughter, this scares the mess out of me. Kids are going to do stupid things, they are going to screw up. That's what humans do. But some mistakes and screw-ups should never happen. We have to teach our sons and daughters that they are responsible for their actions and that they need to stand up for anyone not being treated like a human. We need to teach our daughters (and sons) to come to us even when they aren't sure.

These boys ruined their own future. They won't have their football future they dreamed of, their high school diploma they dreamed of, or their freedom. They will have to live with the label of sex offender the rest of their lives because of one night of incredibly stupid decisions. It is sad that their lives are forever changed but what if they wouldn't have gotten caught, would they have kept doing this. This might have been the only time these young men ever did these things but one time is one too many.

The young women will have the live with the fact that she was violated and have to see all the people in her town who saw pictures or who even saw the acts taking place and didn't stand up for her. She will most likely have to go to counseling and these events could show up later in her life with intimacy issues. No matter what she was wearing, what she was drinking, or how she was acting, she did not deserve this. No woman ever deserves this!!

How have we come to a point in the world, especially in the US, where people will stand up for animal rights before they stand up for human rights? How have we come to a place where woman are still violated and made to feel like the bad person because of the events that lead up to the violation?

If you have children, especially a teen, take time to sit down with them today and talk with them about this. Don't assume they know this is wrong. Maybe they are as naive as the other young men and even women who testified in this case. Don't assume your daughters would know you would support them. Tell them.

To my daughter:

I know you are 2 years old and have no clue what anything I just typed says but I want to make sure you know that you ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a right to stand up for yourself. I don't care what you were wearing, what you were doing, who you were with...when you say no, or when you can't speak for yourself and someone touches you in anyway that is inappropriate, you come tell mommy and we will take the steps needed to make sure this doesn't ever happen again. I don't care if you are in the middle of the most heated make-out session ever where the only thing left is to have sex, if you change your mind and say no, and that boy/man doesn't listen and takes advantage of you, tell me or your daddy. You are not wrong. No means no. You have the right to change your mind at any moment. Your body is your body and no body else's, not even your husband's. And through all of it, please remember you are never alone. I hope and pray we never have to act on this but if the unthinkable ever happened, know you are forever and always loved and supported. 

Please talk to your kids, teenagers, even adult children, and let them know that they are no one's property! 

***Just before making this post go live, I was checking the spelling of Steubenville, and ran across this article on CBS News about a 15 year-old and 16 year-old girl being arrested after threatening to kill the victim. For those who pray, say a prayer for this girl. She has a long rode of recovery. And parents freaking talk to your kids and teach them right from wrong!!!! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family by Renee Peterson Trudeau

I applied to review Nurturing the Soul of Your Family - 10 Ways to Reconnect and Fine Peace in Everyday Life by Renee Peterson Trudeau. I was so delighted to find out I would get a free copy to review. Although I received a free copy of this book, I guarantee you it did not skew my thoughts and review of this book. With all that said, here is the review.

This book is for any parent who desires to have a better family life. If you are pregnant and looking for ways to develop your family and how to get started on the right path or have a been a parent for years but feel that what you are doing is not working, it is for you! 

Have you ever started reading a book and in the first page or two you realize, "Wow! I really need this book at this moment in my life!" That is what happened to me. As the mom of a toddler, who has become a stay at home/work at home mom and wife to a husband who travels, I long to make the time we have together meaningful. But most of the time it seems too hard to change. It's easy to stare at the television or computer to just space out and forget your troubles for a few minutes. But those few minutes often turn in to wasted hours. Now, don't get me wrong, I still like tv and my computer but I wish there was less of it in our lives. There has to be more to family time than that!

Trudeau shares stories from her family growing up, her relationship with her spouse, her son, her friends, and people she trusts, admires, and calls her teachers throughout her book. It makes the book more than a random self-help book with steps and to-do lists to improve your life. It becomes almost like a friend that you are sitting having coffee with, discussing your lives and how you want to make the most of the time you and your family are given together. Trudeau opens her heart and life to show you where she has been, what she has been through, what led her to her life now, and that we can all change and develop the family life we all long for, one baby step at a time. 

The chapters of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family include:

Chapter 1: The Transformative Power of Self-Care
Chapter 2: Peace Begins with Me: A journey to Wholeness
Chapter 3: People First, Things Second: The Digital Divide
Chapter 4: Nature: The Ultimate Antidepressant
Chapter 5: Returning to The River: Finding Spiritual Renewal
Chapter 6: Spending Time Together (Life You Mean It!)
Chapter 7: Defining, Celebrating, and Honoring Your Family Culture
Chapter 8: Do Less, Experience More
Chapter 9: Breaking Free: Making Hard Choices
Chapter 10: Building Your Support Network

Each chapter begins with a "Pause for Peace" where you take a moment and take a look inside to see what you need at that moment. Sometimes they include journaling activities, moments of thought, and other times it is taking a few deep breaths to settle yourself. She keeps it interesting in that every "Pause of Peace" is unique to that chapter and what you will be reading, thinking about, and discussing. 

During each chapter she gives you stories, ideas, reasons, and research to support what she suggests. At the end of each chapter she first encourages you to think about what is working. It gives you a chance to acknowledge those areas and things you are doing that are on the right path. Next she gives you a task (they can be as short as you want or you can stretch them out) to dive into the things discussed in the chapter, and then a journaling exercise at the end. Now don't be nervous about the journaling, they can also be as long or short as you like. And to top it off, she even gives those of you new to journaling tips on how to get started. You can still read this book without doing the journaling and other exercises discussed but you won't get the full benefits of the book. (And for that reason, I will be rereading it so I can dig in deeper.)

When I first started reading this book, I thought maybe the reason why this book spoke so much to me was because of where I currently am in my life. But the more I thought about it, so many of the people I know feel the same way I do right now and we are all at different stages in life. So I really think this book can be appropriate and useful for any family. So if you have children of any age, I highly recommend you order this book today!!

Here is a link to Renee Peterson Trudeau's website with links to buy the book at a discount!

And here is a direct link to Amazon:

Follow Renee Peterson Trudeau on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest to stay up to date on her work!

Below are the areas of the book that most personally touched me, along with a little "Thank You" to the author!

All of the chapters were wonderful and I enjoyed reading and thinking about the issues in all of them but the chapters that got me most were the first two which discussed self-care and also the chapter about "The Digital Divide." Obviously these are the areas I most need to work. The digital divide hit so close to home because I have been realizing I am very much addicted to Facebook. Not in a keep my blog site and business site updated but in a read-random-things-that-provide-no-extra-joy-or-quality-of-life kind of way. I am not saying Facebook is bad but when we put it ahead of our children or spouses it is. You have to control it like you do the way you don't eat the entire tub of ice cream. (That's also a challenge!)

The self-care chapters hit home because that is a constant battle for me. I always feel guilty when it comes to this area. I hear this little voice telling me I am selfish to need time for myself: If I take time away from my daughter, I am a bad mom. If I take time away from my husband, I am a bad wife. All of these are incorrect. I love this quote regarding self-care from the book by Renee Peterson Trudeau:
"Learning to attune and respond to your needs and desires -- practicing self-care -- impacts every aspect of your life. Nurturing yourself is not selfish -- it's essential to your survival and well-being."
The second chapter of the book is titled: Peace Begins with Me. How true is that! And if I am not taking care of myself, every single thing I touch suffers. My best friend once enlightened me of a major tendency I have and I realize not that not taking time for self-care heightens these abilities: To make mountains out of mole hills. 

Trudeau also says, "Often we have to break down in order to break through."
Little did she know that someone would be reading the book who had just had a break down. I'll get a whole post on this soon enough but last week I started therapy because I am just completely overwhelmed by life. I can't keep up with the normal "mom" things or "housewife" things much less my CPR business, childbirth educator certification, and occasionally working at the hospital. I feel like I am drowning. And go figure, once I decided to go to counseling, I immediately felt guilty because I would be spending money on me and not the family and I go alone so it's extra "selfish."

But now I get how wrong my thinking is/was! I can't be the mom, wife, friend, business owner, daughter, or sister that I know I have to capabilities to be if I don't look at what I personally need. And right now, getting to the bottom of the cause or issue that is making me feel out-of-control-overwhelmed is the very best thing I can do for everyone around me.

So Renee, thank you for your book. It has offered me words of encouragement in a dark hour and time in my life. At a time that I know I have everything to be happy about yet I am barely keeping my head out of the water. You book has challenged me in wonderful ways and helped me see that taking care of myself is not selfish or wrong, it is a must! My one word theme of the year is "Now" and your book fit perfectly because I need this now, not tomorrow or next year, but now! Self-care is needed now and every day for everyone!

I highly recommend this book to all the moms in my life!! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Q & A Introduction to Renee Trudeau, Author of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family

I just finished reading Nurturing the Soul of Your Family - 10 Ways to Reconnect and Fine Peace in Everyday Life by Renee Peterson Trudeau. I received a free copy to review and I fell in love with this book and it's message, I would have happily bought it! I wanted to make sure I really read the book in order to give you a good glimpse of it and that wasn't hard at all! I will be writing my review later tonight but I wanted to introduce you to the author, Renee Trudeau. This book really moved me and it came at an incredibly perfect time in my life. I'll share more later in my review. For now, enjoy this Q & A and get to know the incredible woman behind the book!

An Interview with Renee Peterson Trudeau
Author of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family

Many of your book’s supporters — Harville Hendrix, Jennifer Louden, Vicki Abeles — talk about the timeliness of this book, which you stress in the introduction. Why is this? 
Nurturing the Soul of Your Family was born from a movement I started in 2009 — inspired by my late father--called Live Inside Out. Live Inside Out challenges people to slow down and live more intentionally. More than ever, thousands of us are hitting the pause button and reflecting on what’s really important in life.  Due in large part to the economic recession, our worst since the Great Depression, we’re realizing our external environment can change on a dime: job gone, house gone, investments tanked. And when what we “thought” makes us happy, vanishes—where does that leave us?  
Men and women — particularly parents — are doing more soul searching than we have in the past. We’re ready for a new way of being. We want our lives, careers and relationships to have more meaning, to be more personally fulfilling. We want to feel more connected — to ourselves, to those we love and to humanity. We want to align our actions with our core values. And, we’re desperately looking for teachings and tools to help us find this balance. Not in a “this would be nice” kind of way, but in an “I’m sick and tired” of feeling bad and having my sense of happiness come from “out there.”  Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family helps readers pause, slow down, learn to nurture their inner life and live more intentionally so they’re driven by their internal values—as opposed to external or societal values. (Renee offers weekly insights on how to Live Inside Out on her global Live Inside Out Facebook community.)
You have worked with thousands of women at all life stages from around the globe for almost 14 years through your Personal Renewal Group program and workshops. What do they share are the biggest challenges they face? 
Many women (and men) share they feel overscheduled, overworked, like they’re always rushing and life has become a giant to-do list. Overuse and misuse of technology is making them feel disconnected and it’s hard to unplug and just “be.” Due to an extreme lack of self-care — they’re parenting from an “empty cup,” feeling exhausted, and are concerned that they’re losing the ability to find joy in daily family life. 
You seem very passionate about the topic of emotional well-being for families. What inspired the work you now do?   
My mom suffered from clinical depression and I grew up navigating a lot of chaos and uncertainty (part of this was due to coming from a family of nine). I never knew what to expect day-to-day and feelings of peace and harmony seemed fleeting and far between. My emotional well-being was entirely dependent on what was going on around me. I was never taught that it’s possible to experience inner peace even in the midst of disequilibrium. Nurturing the Soul of Your Family teaches parents an invaluable skill: to anchor within themselves and that they can experience happiness, harmony and well-being, even in the midst of mayhem.
Why are the rates of depression, antidepressant use and stress (in adults and children) at an all-time high? 
Most of us have bought into the mindset (whether we know it or not) that we’re self-improvement projects. These feelings of unworthiness, combined with unrealistic expectations about how “life” should be, can cause tremendous stress and anxiety in parents and in kids. We’re messy, raw, unpredictable, beautiful human beings who are constantly growing, stretching, expanding and evolving. Conscious parenting and family work can be some of the hardest there is.  Also, our culture’s over-emphasis on the “outer world,” while paying very little attention to our “inner world,” can be devastating. Dis-ease and depression often manifest when we’re no longer connected to our true selves. We need to work together to create a culture that advocates for the care and feeding of our hearts and souls, which is equally as important as caring for our bodies. 
Your book outlines ten paths to peace to help readers reconnect and experience more peace on a daily basis. What are they?
  • Tapping the transformative power of self-care: attune and respond to your needs and desires
  • Healing from the inside out: peace begins with me
  • Unplugging to plug in: remember, people first, things second
  • Unleashing the healing power of nature: the ultimate antidepressant
  • Making time for spiritual renewal: return to the river within
  • Loving the ones you’re with: spend time together (like you mean it!)
  • Defining, celebrating, and honoring your family culture: what do you stand for?
  • Slowing down: do less to experience more
  • Exploring a new way of being: make hard choices, break free, and do it different
  • Building your tribe: ask for and embrace help as you create your support network
If families were to just embrace three or four insights or strategies from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family that would make a big impact on their daily lives, what would they be? 
1. Be open to a new way of being: Be bold, do it different. Be willing to take the road less traveled. Open up to the possibility that there is another way of seeing and experiencing life and begin to imagine what that would look like for your family. 2. Be compassionate and loving with yourself: treat yourself as worthy of the same self-nurturing, acceptance, and tenderness that are afforded your children. 3. Invite in playfulness and curiosity as you begin your journey; 
awareness is the first step towards positive change. 4. Get support — smart people do. It makes everything easier. 
People’s desire for spiritual renewal seems to be growing. What have you observed about this as you travel and teach? 
I definitely think we’re experiencing a hunger for more sacredness, meaning and connection to something bigger than ourselves in our daily lives. I am passionate about teaching “everyday spirituality”—meaning how we connect to the Divine (whatever that means to you) in the midst of carpooling, homework and meetings. Ways of connecting to the Divine might be service to others, music, meditation or prayer, or for a huge number of us — nature. I think feeling a connection to the Divine as we work, parent and relate to one another, can have an enormous impact on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Spiritual renewal is as essential as eating or exercise — it gives our life purpose, fulfillment and helps us feel more connected to others and to our own true nature.
It seems your career took a radical turn when you moved from being a corporate communications director to the work you do today—teaching, speaking, writing and coaching on life balance. What inspired this shift
There were three “life defining” experiences. First, the loss of three family members from 1992-2000 really woke me up to the awareness that life is short and “the time is NOW!” Second, I had a life-changing experience in 1996 at Dachau — the German concentration camp — that really challenged me to reclaim my life, stop blaming others for what I didn’t like about my circumstances, and move into the driver’s seat (I write about this in Chapter 9). Last but not least, having my son Jonah in 2002, had a profound impact on me on every level and was the inspiration for the creation of the now global Personal Renewal Group program for women and my first book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal.  
Having coached thousands of men and women around coming into greater alignment with how they desire to live and work, what is needed for change to occur?  
Three things: Clarity and a vision for what they want (what does the life/career you desire look and feel like?), lots of self-compassion (making a life or career change is courageous work!) and taking deeply guided baby steps while getting lots of support (often we try to run before we’ve learned to crawl). Support could be from a friend, mentor, coach, a therapist, a minister or someone else.  Learning to ask for and receive help can take years of practice; it’s like strengthening a muscle. 

What’s the most important thing we should be teaching our kids right now around self-care and emotional health?  
As parents we spend a lot of time and energy around our kids’ cognitive and physical development, but we rarely focus on their emotional or spiritual health.  Conveying to our kids-through our actions that they not only deserve and have permission to nurture their hearts and souls, but that it’s their birthright to do so — could be one of the most important lessons we ever share. 
You’ve got a lot going on — two businesses, a new book, travel, a family—what do you do in your day-to-day life to stay grounded and at peace? 
I practice moment-to-moment self-care. This means I do my best to attune and respond to what I most need in the moment. Sometimes this is stopping work in the middle of the day for a 10-minute meditation, going to yoga or dance when it looks like I don’t have time to do this, having tea with a spiritual mentor, hiking out in nature, giving myself permission to say “no” to a new work project or social invitation or practicing “good is good enough.” I’m highly motivated to “feel good,” so I try and make choices that truly support the emotional well-being of myself and my family moment to moment.  
What is your greatest hope for families?  
My greatest hope is that this book will inspire parents to open to new ways of being. That it will help them find their center and move through chaos and uncertainty with renewed strength and ease; live in greater alignment with their values and what matters most; slow down, live more intentionally and know what's best for themselves and their family; and release old fears and learn to live more in the present moment . And most importantly, that it will help them see that their family members can be their greatest source of joy!
# # #

Renée Peterson Trudeau is the author of the new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. A sought after life balance coach/speaker and president of Career Strategists, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and numerous media outlets. On the faculty of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness, she leads life balance workshops and retreats for Fortune 500 companies and organizations worldwide. Thousands of women in ten countries are participating in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. http://www.reneetrudeau.com

March 1, 2013 •  Parenting/Personal Growth •  240 pages • Trade Paperback
Price: $15.95 • ISBN 978-1-60868-158-7

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day

Sadly, I just learned of International Women's Day a few years ago. I thought it was something new but it has been celebrated since the early 1900's.  

International Women's Day is a day to be thankful for all the brave women who have come and gone before me. To be thankful that they had the courage to stand up for their own rights and mine. It's a day to be thankful for parents who encouraged me to dream. It's a day to appreciate the beauty and wonder of all we are as women. It's a day to be thankful that my daughter's world will look so much differently than my great-great grandmothers. 

It is a day to remember that while we here in America still have battles to fight and win over issues, women in other countries are still yearning for the right for education and health care. They want to be able to choose who they marry. They want to be able to have a childhood instead of being a child-bride. They want to be able to stand up to their husband who is HIV positive yet still refuses to use a condom with her so she becomes infected. Girls want a chance to go to school and learn to read and write. Girls don't want to be sold into sex trafficking just so their family can afford to eat. Women want to be able to speak their mind and not have acid poured on their face. Women want to be able to get help after they are raped and have their raper prosecuted. Women want to be able to have their female babies and not have to abort them because they are the wrong gender for their country. 

International Women's Day is day of beauty, hope, encouragement and a reminder that while we have come so far, we still have far to go. A day to be thankful and a day to remember those who yearn for something to be thankful for. It's a day to educate ourselves and learn how we can help the women around the world.

Women are amazing. Women can create miracles. Physically, women can grow another living being inside of their own body. We can nourish it and then birth a baby from our own body. We can give that baby nourishment from our own body as soon as it is born. We a life givers. How amazing is that!

As Mao Zedong said, "Women hold up half the sky."

As a mom, I look at the world today and think how happy I am that we live here in America and so many things are instantly better for her just by where she was born. My daughter can be a doctor, nurse, mother, stay at home mom, president, judge, fire fighter, in the military...the possibilities are endless! We need to teach our daughters of the way things were here and they way they are now, here and around the world. 

We need to teach our daughters that the world is bigger than themselves, bigger than here and now, bigger than their current situation. It is bigger than her school, friends, boyfriends, prom dresses, American Idol, and Coach purses. We as moms and women, need to teach our daughters of what our ancestors fought for and won! And we need to teach them of what other girls and women, just like us, are lacking and dying from. We as women need to stick together and quite the bitter back biting and help one another when we see another woman down. 

It starts with us, you and me. We have to power to teach our daughters and the girls and women in our life that we hold the power in us to make this world a more beautiful place. We hold the power to be anything we want to be. We hold the power to change the world! 

So for my daughter and all the women in my life, take a moment today to look deep into your heart and find your passion and purpose. Maybe you won't realize it all today but start the search. Start the search for what you were born to do. We were all created for a purpose. Never short change yourself or the world because you think you can't. The bigger the passion and dreams you have, the hard you will have to work, the more help you might need. Remember to look to those who came before you for inspiration. Again, remember that no dream is too big or too small. If that is your passion, then live it to the fullest! If you make a difference in one persons life for good, you have influenced the world for the better! You are a woman, you are beautiful, you are powerful, and you were meant to change the world!! 

Here are some encouraging words from a few amazing women who have made the world a better place. Enjoy! And Happy International Women's Day! Be thankful and be prayerful for the women around the world in need of love and support and basic human rights!

"For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women." - Elizabeth Blackwell, first female physician in the United States

"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again." - Sojourner Truth, African-American abolitionist

"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.” 
"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone." - Audrey Hepburn, actress and philanthropist

"I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet." - Susan B. Anthony, American suffragette and advocate of women's rights

"The best protection any woman can have...is courage." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American abolitionist

"I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion." - Billie Jean King, female tennis champion who battled for equal pay

"Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live."- Mae C. Jemison, first African-American woman astronaut

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