Breaking the Cycle

Every morning, I wake to a little hand smacking me in the face, or pulling on my hair. My eyes open and I see that little face looking up at me as if she’s thinking, “finally you’re awake”. If I’m lucky, we’ve slept in until 7:30 in the morning. I often wake up filled with love and joy, although exhausted. I look at that face and the tiredness just doesn’t matter. But some days I wake up and I feel like I can’t do it today. I don’t have the energy. I just can’t handle chasing this little person around while she seemingly tries desperately to hurt herself. I can’t handle another meal time, with food thrown all over, only to clean her up entirely and do it all over again 2 hours later (especially when 2 hours feels like 30 minutes). I don’t have the energy to rock this big baby to sleep who is still not magically falling asleep on her own like I presume she should be at 10 months old. Now I’m questioning my parenting choices, and I’ve fallen into a cycle of anxious, negative thoughts. 

I’m still laying there in bed, running these scenarios through my head, while my daughter looks at me, pinching me, pulling strands of hair, climbing on me, and giggling about it all, when I think, “not today”. I’m not going to let myself fall into this cycle today. I’m not going to go straight for sitting on the couch and staring at my phone. And I’m definitely not going to fall into that negative thought pattern. Today, I’m breaking the cycle. 

So, I grab my daughter, change her diaper and change her out of her pajamas. I make my coffee and pour it into a to go cup and I strap her into the stroller. First thing this morning, we’re going for a walk to the beach, because we’re starting this day out strong and we’re breaking the cycle. 

I recently noticed that when I step outside of my day-to-day routines, it has a really positive effect on my mental health. I find this interesting because often so much emphasis is placed on forming healthy habits, which are important but its also important to remain aware of how you’re spending your free time, and how your habits and routines effect you. 

For me, stepping out of my day-to-day looks like getting up off the couch, looking at my phone less, and just getting out of the house. Sometimes as a mom, this just means going for a drive or a walk with my daughter. Even these simple small steps can have an impact. Before I was a mom, I would spend a lot of time alone in my apartment, studying (I was in nursing school at the time). Packing up my things and going to the library or a cafe instead was how I would break my cycle back then.

It’s kind of like getting stuck in your own bubble. Sometimes, if we’re doing the same thing all the time we forget about the world outside of our little bubble. There are extreme examples of this, where a person is just simply so hung up on their own problems that they’ve become oblivious to anything else. Then there are circumstances like my own, which simply involves hiding out inside for too long, feeling a bit isolated, and leading to anxious feelings. This concept will obviously look different, when applied to different people and their circumstances. 

Back to that morning I described at the beginning, I felt stressed the moment I woke up because I could feel how exhausted I was and I knew that I didn’t have a day of rest awaiting me. When I got out of the house and went for a walk, I really started to appreciate my life. I took a step back and realized that my life is really great. I’m not exactly sure why this happens, but I’ve noticed a pattern when I do these types of things. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m getting out of my comfort zone and doing something new and exciting. Or maybe it’s because getting out of the house reminds me that I may have my own issues and things but there is a whole world functioning outside of my home. There are billions of people, with their own lives happening outside of my little bubble. These types of thoughts remind me of how beautiful life is, how small I am on this giant planet, how my current problems/issues/stressors/whatever they are, they’re just a drop in the bucket. My little baby waking me up is the sweetest thing, although I’m exhausted and just want to sleep in. But one day she’ll be a teenager or even an adult and I will miss those little hands yanking my hair so much. So, I’m going to try to laugh more, be present, and embrace these moments for what they are, all the while being patient with myself because we all have bad days and that’s okay too. 

What does breaking the cycle look like for you? Whatever it may be, I encourage you to give it a try. Let me know in the comments how breaking your cycle has helped you! 


3 Strong Mantras

In certain situations, I feel the need to repeat a mantra to myself to stay in the right mindset. I’m going to go over three of my favorites and talk about how/why I came up with them.

  1. I am patient, I am calm.
  2. Just be here now, you can do this.
  3. I have no expectations because the future is unknown.

I am patient, I am calm.

I started repeating this one to myself one night when I was rocking my daughter to bed. It can be quite a trying process because it takes a long time for her to fall asleep, causing me to have to endure her fussing and often, she wakes up as soon as she’s laid down. So, I started to repeat this phrase to myself, while deep breathing because I figure the calmer I am, the more likely it is that she’ll feel calm and fall asleep.

Just be here now, you can do this.

This is my oldest mantra on the list and dates back to my long distance running days (feels like a past life). I repeat this phrase to myself while I’m out running, in an attempt to avoid constantly counting down to the end. This mantra honestly carried me through my marathon. Staying present helps me embrace the run for what it is and usually causes me to run even better. Hey, maybe this post will motivate me to get back into running!

I have no expectations, because the future is unknown.

I found myself worrying about the future recently. I was playing out different scenarios and feeling really anxious. Then I realized that the future is literally unknown. There is no way to predict what will happen and worrying is completely pointless. Also, the possibility of something terrible happening is just as likely as something wonderful happening. So, why not look forward to the future with excitement for the amazing things that are waiting for you, rather than worrying about hypothetical scenarios.

These are a couple of my favorite mantras, but I’m always open to new ones. Leave a comment with your favorite mantra, and how it helps you!

Simple Daily Steps to Boost the Immune System

I went about two years without getting sick at all, and now I’m feeling under the weather for the second time in the last 6 months. Dammit COVID! Really though, I could blame the pandemic but I think my own choices and habits are to blame as well. I’ve known for a while that I would need to start taking more action to maintain my health, once I started my career as a nurse. It’s funny how a job that centers around helping others feel better, causes a serious hit to the health of those who are providing the care. Just a few ways that the health of nurses is put in jeopardy: exposure to sick people, exposure to toxins (cytotoxic drugs, strong cleaning chemicals, hand sanitizer filled with chemicals), lack of fresh air which causes us to breathe recycled, toxin filled air for an entire 12 hour shift, and of course hardly anytime to eat lunch/drink water most days. Yikes. 

So, realizing that I’m sick again, along with the fact that I used to never get sick has me asking myself what more I can do to improve my health. I refuse to accept a life of feeling sick all the time, so I’m taking action! A few weeks ago, I posted about 4 wellness steps I’ve taken recently, but those were more focused on mental health. So, here are 4 more wellness steps, more focused on immune health that can easily be incorporated into a hectic schedule.

  1. More fresh air and outside time

Getting some outside time each day is a really simple way to improve your health. On the days that I work, it’ll be a little tougher since I spend 12 hours inside and rarely have the time to leave the floor, even for lunch. My plan is this: I’ll start driving home with the windows down and sitting outside on the porch for a few minutes when I get home. Also, I’ll try to start spending the majority of my days off outside, to make up for the lost time. 

  1. Consistency with vitamins/supplements

I take a couple of vitamins and supplements “daily”. I put that in quotes because I’m pretty inconsistent with it and kind of just take them when I remember. I’m going to start making sure to take them everyday. My daily vitamins include a probiotic, prenatal vitamin, and a dropper of elderberry syrup. I’ve linked my favorite prenatal vitamin, elderberry gummies, and probiotic in the “amazon” link!

  1. Exercise/sweat

When it comes to exercise, I’ve been slacking lately. It’s hard to find the time and energy to get moving. Back to my job being strenuous, I typically walk about 5 – 6 miles on the days that I work and that walk is more like a light jog because I’m constantly rushing around. So, when I get home I’m pretty worn out. Even so, it’s important to try to get moving outside of work a little bit each day because sweating is one of the best ways for me to detox my body from all of those toxins that I just mentioned! I don’t need to be running 10 miles a day, but a little movement and sweat will really benefit my health. So, i’m going to try to get moving daily, even if that just means doing 15 squats in the evening. 

  1. Stretching and deep breathing (preferably while outside)

Stretching is something that everyone can benefit from. Stretching can make you more flexible and less likely to injure yourself and it further helps with detoxifying the body. Add in some deep breathing and we’re in business, baby! Bonus points if you accomplish these while outside and getting fresh air.

So these are a few simple steps that I’m going to take to start improving my health. What daily steps do you take to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Let me know in the comments! 

Europe Reflections Part III: Lost in the Streets of Brussels

“Bon voyage, Mademoiselle,” chimed the Uber driver as we arrived at the Brussels airport, he had unknowingly just rescued me. It was 6AM and I’d be catching a flight to Sardinia in less than an hour. I felt an immense sense of relief because the journey to get to this airport had been a wild one.

Let me take you back to a couple of hours earlier. I had spent the night at a hotel located in the outskirts of Brussels. I booked this specific hotel because I knew it was near the airport, and they offered a free airport shuttle. This seemed like a flawless plan to make my super early flight to Sardinia. 

I woke up around 4AM, got dressed, grabbed my bag, and headed downstairs. I went to the hotel lobby desk and asked about the airport shuttle. The secretary gave me a curious look and asked if I had scheduled pick up by the airport shuttle. I returned the look with the same level of curiosity and responded with, “no, I thought it just showed up automatically”. She told me it was no big deal, she would call the shuttle and they would be here shortly. All I was to do was go outside and wait at the shuttle stop. 

I arrived at the shuttle stop and sat there patiently. I called my boyfriend to feel like I had some company. 

What appears to be an airport shuttle pulls up. I hoist my 4 liter backpack over my shoulder and climb on. I notice that there is only one other passenger, with very little baggage for someone who is heading to the airport. I found this peculiar. I’m chatting with my boyfriend who’s still on the phone when I get an odd feeling. I decide to look on Google maps and see if we’re getting close to the airport. Thank God for that international phone plan.

To my utter surprise, we were actually moving further and further away from the airport. 

I stand up and tell the bus driver I need to go to the Brussels airport. He repeats the word “no” along with “Brussels airport” a few times along with some French words and pulls off to the side of the road. He opens the bus door and points, and says more French words. He seems to be giving me directions, while also encouraging me to get off of the bus. At this point I have no idea what to do so I walk off the bus. 

Now I’m alone and stranded, at 4AM in the middle of a foreign city that right now isn’t looking too friendly or safe. Also, I’m 6 months pregnant. I’m beating myself up for endangering my unborn child. I’m reminding myself of all of the un-approving looks I got when I told people I would be embarking on a backpacking trip, alone and pregnant. “Haven’t you seen the movie Taken??”

I was honestly terrified. I went into fight or flight mode. I plugged the address of the airport into google maps and was directed to walk a mile to a train station. I thought, okay good, I’ll walk to the train station and figure it out from there. At least I’ll be somewhere indoor, well lit and filled with people. 

That one mile walk felt like a marathon. I was so on edge the whole time. I was clutching my pregnant belly and my heart jumped a little every time a car passed by. I was praying to God to keep us safe.

Finally I made it to the train station and that’s when I realized the train “station” wasn’t a train station at all. It was a train stop and it wasn’t indoor, well lit nor were there any people there. It was an outdoor train stop, that didn’t feel anymore safe than the streets I had been walking on for the last 30 minutes. I checked the train schedule that was posted and the next train wouldn’t be there for over an hour, there’s no way I could make my flight in that time and that would require me to sit here even longer, alone in the dark. No thank you. 

I was panicking when the most obvious idea hit me, Uber. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Well actually, I had thought of it before but I wasn’t sure if the town Brussels even used Uber, also I assumed that no Uber would be available at 4AM. Luckily for me, that assumption was false.

I requested an Uber and he was there in minutes. Two stray kittens scurried by and I started to play with them. They were an uplifting distraction, so I decided to take a picture. My Uber driver in shining armor arrived, and I was so shaken up that when he offered to put my backpack in the trunk I said no, and I clung onto it in my lap the whole car ride. Before I knew it I was safe at the Brussels airport. Indoor, well lit, and filled with people.

Read more of my Europe Reflections here!

The Only Constant is Change

I was reading a parenting book the other night when I came across a section where the author recommended that the reader never get too comfortable with their child’s current developmental stage, because they’ll quickly outgrow it. He followed with the sentence, “the only constant is change.” This short phrase caused me to ponder the changes I’ve witnessed in my young daughter, the changes I’ve dealt with recently, and the immense changes that we as a society have faced in the last few months. 

It’s been a heavy year for pretty much anyone; whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy after closing the doors of your business, watched a loved one take their last breath as they’re weaned from a ventilator, gotten tear gassed (or worse) whilst standing up for what you believe in, or been one of the many victims of police brutality, racial injustice, or systemic racism. Amid the black lives matter movement and the COVID pandemic, we as a society have seen death and illness. We’ve brought to the surface even more darkness in an effort to raise awareness about some heavy issues, issues that should have ended a long time ago but are happening right here, right now.  

2020 has brought on a shift in our society. Forced isolation has led to a mutual turning inward and an increase in mindfulness. Civil unrest has led to an increase in awareness as we take a step back and examine modern racism and some ways in which we’ve all participated in it. 

It’s pretty wild to think that virtually every human has been effected in some way by the COVID pandemic. Is there a single person anywhere on this Earth who has not in some way been affected by COVID? (Please if there is, comment and let me know, I’m curious!) As if the reality of millions of people dying wasn’t already scary, media outlets and government officials have reverberated this fear into our society. Changes have occurred and will continue to occur. I’m hopeful that our world will feel “normal” again soon, but even so, COVID has earned a place in our kid’s future history books because our society will never be the same after this. Honestly, will concerts ever happen again?

Our world has been shifting since the start of this pandemic and then on May 25, this shift took a turn when George Floyd was murdered. Protestors and demonstrators are still showing up, two months later. Many of whom endure tear gas and rubber bullet attacks from federal agents. This is scary, but it’s telling us that change is on the horizon. Change and fear often come together. We’re facing fears as a society. We’re having tough conversations, speaking up, standing up and we’re recognizing our own biases. It isn’t easy but it’s causing our society to grow and evolve. 

My world has changed immensely over the last year as I’ve experienced pregnancy, transitioned into motherhood, and began my career as a nurse. I’ve worked really hard to find a balance again. So, here’s how I’ve coped with change: I’ve tried to put a serious focus on self care, practiced more mindfulness, and more recently I’ve been praying more often. I’ve been asking God for the strength to be decisive, to be with me, and to lead me in the right direction. I’m reminding myself that every time I’ve faced a fear, I’ve grown. 

The COVID pandemic has shown us that change is inevitable. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown us that change is necessary – and given us some insight on how to promote change. Both have shown us that fear and change often accompany one another.  How do we find peace in an ever changing environment? We accept change, we stop resisting, and we trust that something wonderful is waiting for us on the other side. 

4 Wellness Steps I’ve Taken Recently

I’ve had a couple of really rough days recently. I’ve been waking up on my days off and instantly feel overwhelmed. It feels like there are so many things to do and I have so little time to do them. Not to mention, I’ve gotten poor sleep and I’m still drained from working the day before. Then, I feel guilty for not appreciating time off with my daughter and it turns into a complete cycle of negative thinking. My body and mind have been begging me to make some changes, so I did and for the first time in a really long time, I woke up feeling good today. Here are a few of the positive steps I’ve taken.

  1. Cold showers

I’ve noticed a lot of buzz about cold showers recently, and after watching the first episode of “The Goop Lab” on Netflix, I was inclined to give it a try. I decided I would commit to taking one cold shower everyday for a week. Today I’m on day four and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Taking cold showers just wakes me UP in so many ways. It causes me to breathe deeply and focus my mind. After getting out I feel so relieved and relaxed. On days that I work, I typically take one in the morning, but yesterday I skipped it since I slept in a little later than normal. Honestly, all day at work I was looking forward to taking one when I got home, and it felt so good to cleanse my mind after a mentally exhausting day.

2. Less alcohol

I recently realized that I was drinking a glass of wine every night. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, but I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to. It had become a habit to just pour a glass of wine at night and some nights I would pour it and realize I didn’t really want it but I’d just drink it anyways because it was infront of me. Finally, last night I got home from work and I did not drink any wine (I made this decision after getting out of my cold shower…coincidence?)

This morning, I woke up feeling better than I have in a long time. It’s funny how obvious it is that if you drink every night you’re not going to wake up feeling your best in the morning, but somehow I didn’t realize this until I broke the cycle. It’s also obvious that when you’re in an emotionally sensitive state, drinking alcohol (a depressant) probably won’t help much! So, I’m going to be more mindful about drinking, and make sure I really want to be drinking before I do so. Also, hot tea or golden mylk are pretty soothing at night and don’t come with a morning headache.

3. Reframed thinking

I’ve been at war with negative thought patterns since I got pregnant and had “pregnancy brain”. Something about having brain fog just made me less grounded. Still to this day, I’m working on getting back to the grounded state I was in before pregnancy. One way I’m working on this is by reframing my thinking. For example, when I notice myself thinking something negative (such as: “this is annoying/frustrating; I hate this; I’m overwhelmed”) I ask myself what is causing me to feel this way and whether these thoughts are true. I basically look at the source of the negative feeling. If the negative feeling is true, I accept the negative emotions and try not to resist them, but also try not to feed into them anymore than necessary so that they don’t continue to spiral. If the negative thought is false, then realizing this typically makes me feel better.

Example: I’m feeling overwhelmed because I have a lot on my plate, that’s true. I’m a mom and I work a physically and mentally exhausting full-time job. Often on my days off I have a list of tasks that I “need” to get done, on top of the fact that caring for my daughter takes up the majority of my time, on top of the fact that I rarely get restful sleep, on top of the fact that my job is draining. Woo I’m getting exhausted just typing this. Well, these are all facts. Yes, I do have a lot on my plate and that is OK. A lot of the things that “need” to get done aren’t really that big of a deal. I accept where I am in life. I love being a mom and quality time with my daughter is the most important thing. One thing I do need to do, is savor this time with her. Also, I’m much more productive when I take action to get things done, rather than spending my time worrying about those things.

4. C R E A T I V I T Y

I’ve recently started to channel my creative energy again and it has felt SO good. This blog is the result of this step and I am so grateful to be here! Losing out on “me” time in the early days of becoming a mom caused me to put creative hobbies on the back burner and even kind of forget about some of the things that I used to love doing. A few months ago, I started feeling like I needed to start creating something, anything. I started journaling and brainstorming. A couple Instagram posts with long captions were the beginnings of me putting myself out there as a writer. Amidst a conversation with my sister, I told her I had been thinking about starting a blog and she recommended that I just do it, just write something and post it and keep going. I took her advice and here we are! It’s easy to be fearful of the opinions of others; I’d be lying if I said I never felt that fear. But it also feels so liberating to just let it go and be who you are without worrying about what others think. I definitely recommend it!

Overall, all of these steps are simply the result of increased mindfulness. I’ve asked myself what I need, listened to my body and tried to honor it. I’m also staying patient and trusting the process because I know that no change happens overnight. It will take trial and error, and many ups and downs still lie ahead because I’m only human and that’s okay!


Europe Reflections Part II: Murisk, Ireland

Aside from the subtle sway of the grass and distant slow movements of the sheep and cows that gnaw on it, stillness surrounds us. We here a trickle of water as we look out over a small body of water. There’s a grass hill where the animals graze. I’ve never felt so at peace. I’m doing everything in my power to take in this scenery and stamp it in my memory. I never want to forget the stillness of this moment. My hand rests on my round belly. My head rests on his shoulder and tears steam slowly down my cheeks.

I had a panic attack a few minutes earlier. My anxiety levels had been climbing as we got further into our month in Europe. Walking around Westport – a little town nearby with shops, and pubs and restaurants – I kept feeling like everyone was staring at me. As my pregnant belly grows, I’d become more and more insecure about being the center of attention all of the time. We got back to the Airbnb and I lost it. Sobbing, hyperventilating, and no idea of why these emotions were coming out. The hormonal shifts of pregnancy were a tough thing for me to tolerate. 

He recommended we go for a walk. I left my phone behind, to unplug, clear my head. When we step outside, a look to the left shows Crough Patrick in the distance. We take a right, toward the water. We pass more sheep, more countryside, farmland, tractors, beautiful estates. Grass, grass, grass. Wildflowers. I picked a few flowers and pressed them between the pages of the many books I purchased a few days earlier at a bookshop in Galway.  Today, one of those flowers rests on my bed side table, to promote that stillness, that subtlety, that peace.  

We stopped walking once we reached the water. Sunlight reflects off the green grass, pastel shades fill the sky. So many colors, so many feelings at once. I hug him and we’re just still. Standing there, taking the scenery in, letting the anxiety out. For a brief moment, I wished I had my phone, to snap a photo. I decided to try to take in as much of that scenery as I could, in the hopes that I would never forget it. I hoped I could remember this feeling when I went into labor in three months. I wanted to go to this happy place when those contraction pains hit me. 

Change was on the horizon. I clawed my way out of that anxiety attack, and ended up here, taking in one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve witnessed in my life, shedding actual tears brought on by that beauty. Those really low places can lead you into a contrary place of stillness. Trust those low moments, stop resisting, and surrender; that stillness will find you if you let it. 

Does parenthood force us to settle?

My hair is a little crazy (most likely unwashed) and I haven’t got a bit of makeup on. Who knows if I’ve even washed my face yet. My child is on my hip. She’s looking off into the distance thinking about what she’ll crawl after next. I’m examining this photo and thinking about how this could definitely be looked at as a less than perfect selfie. If I would have taken this photo a couple of years ago, without the baby in it, it definitely would have been deleted. Actually, I probably would have known better than to even take it because who actually takes a selfie, knowing that they’ve just woken up and haven’t even put on makeup yet? Oh yeah, that’s right, a mom would take a selfie like that when her child, who usually hates bows, has got a bow on her head and she doesn’t seem to mind it. For whatever reason, you keep buying new bows and each day testing out whether she’ll tolerate them, only to pull it off immediately when she gets fussy. But not today. So now you’re looking at your front screen with a proud smirk on your face thinking, “look at how beautiful she is.” 

Since becoming a mom, my priorities have changed drastically. My tolerance for certain things has increased (the imperfect selfie, a cluttered home), while my tolerance for other things has decreased (unfulfilling friendships, boundaries being overstepped). Some people associate becoming a parent with making sacrifices and settling. In my experience, I have definitely made sacrifices but I’ve also taken some really positive actions. 

The first example I’ll use can definitely coincide with the term “settling”.I have always been extremely resistant to the idea of buying a house in my hometown. I’ve had the fear that if I buy a house here, I’ll never leave, and I’ll never step out of my comfort zone to see what else the world has to offer. I’ve realized a couple of things. First of all, buying a house here does not necessarily mean I’ll never leave. Rent is crazy expensive so we could always rent it out while we live elsewhere. It’s actually a really good investment that could give us the means to move in the future (think about that!). Next realization, family = home. Since my child has been on this earth, I’ve realized that she is my world. Anywhere that I am with my family, is home. So, I’m okay with the idea of moving across the country together but I’m also okay with staying where we are. I’m no longer worried only about what is in my best interest but also, my daughter’s and my family as a whole.

When I think about the term “settling” the idea of making excuses comes to mind. I often guilt trip myself for not being more involved in current events and failing to be aware of what’s going on in the world. I tend to make excuses such as, being too emotionally exhausted from being a mom to think about all the bad things going on in the world. Or, I don’t want to hear about child sex trafficking because that hurts me too much now that I have my own child. I’d rather not discuss politics and upset people because I’m too busy focusing on my child to have an in-depth debate with someone I barely know. 

Some might argue that these are valid excuses, but I think it’s an area where I need to step up and take more action. I’m realizing the importance of being involved, now more than ever. Certain current events are hard to think and talk about, especially when you have a baby, but it is so important to stay involved so that we can educate our children. As parents, we are given the power to impact the next generation and we need to use that power wisely. We need to raise more change makers and more advocates so that our society can continue on the positive trajectory that it’s so recently started on. I’m proud of where our society is headed, but we’ve still got a long way to go. In order to teach our children to form their own opinions, question everything, think critically, and never be afraid to speak up about what they believe in, we’ve got to do those things too! 

In the same way that some expectations have decreased, other expectations have increased. Ever since becoming pregnant, I started to question every relationship in my life. I was so emotional throughout pregnancy that I no longer had the energy to handle people who were emotionally draining and didn’t reciprocate the support that I offered them. I started to analyze whether people were true to me or whether we had just stuck together since we had known each other for a long time. Luckily, I’ve found that most of the people in my life still have a place there but I’m constantly on the lookout for any type of violation of my personal boundaries. I’m constantly defining those boundaries to myself and always speaking up if someone oversteps, even if that means hurting someone’s feelings (you have got to advocate for yourself, because no one will do it for you!) I also keep my guard way up when I make new friends. As much as I don’t like to make the excuse “I don’t have time,” a fake friendship really is something that nobody has time for. 

My next example also began during pregnancy and can be summed up in two words: emotional awareness. Becoming a mom might cause some to think about their own childhood and upbringing. This process can lead to uncovering some unresolved trauma. I’ve realized how important it is to discuss the thoughts that you try to push away from the surface, in order to find peace with those thoughts. If you never process your emotions then you will just pass those scars on to your children in some way, who may continue to pass them down for generations. By practicing emotional awareness, I am hoping I can promote a culture of openness in my family. I want to discuss things and face them directly, and always be open and honest with each other. 

It is pretty common knowledge that women are emotional following childbirth. A shift in hormones along with adjusting to a major life change can cause a lot of feelings to come to the surface. Processing these emotions can be tough. When I noticed that I wasn’t only out of the “fourth trimester” but I was 7 months into being a mom, yet I was still experiencing heavy emotions and drastic mood swings, I realized that there was still trauma there that needed to be addressed.

I took action in the form of journaling, meditation, exercise, and discussing these feelings with those around me. Often, these practices brought my pain closer to the surface, making them feel counterproductive. I would come back from a run crying, thinking to myself, “why do I feel worse?” I kept pushing forward, staying aware of my feelings and talking about the things that came up as they did. Finally, I feel somewhat healed, but I’m realizing that some of this trauma has rooted itself in me as a scar that I will live with forever, and that is OK. 
I want to set an example for my daughter. I think that if I practiced emotional awareness from a younger age, I could have avoided a lot of painful mistakes in my life. But that’s okay because those mistakes have made me who I am and led me to exactly where I am right now. I also want to teach my daughter that she will still make some mistakes too, because she is a human being and we can’t be perfect. I just want to make an example of myself, in the hopes that she can do better.

So, what does settling mean to you? Are you making sacrifices? And is that a bad thing? 
To me, settling means finding a place of comfort and staying there. So, by that definition, I don’t feel like I’ve “settled”. I do feel like my priorities have changed and that I’ve made some sacrifices. I’m striving to act in the way that best interests my family. I’m noticing the areas in my life where more action is needed and I’m giving myself recognition for the actions that I have taken since day 1 of being a mom. Also, I’m working hard at finding a balance (I may not be reading the New Yorker cover to cover in one sitting but when I get free time, looking into what’s happening in the world might be more beneficial than scrolling Instagram). And finally, no, sacrifice is not a bad thing. Sacrifice is an honor, just like being a mom is. 

Europe Reflections Part I: Trust the Process

I have a couple of small tattoos on my body. The majority of them serve only an aesthetic purpose rather than having a deeper meaning. The tiny moon on my inner arm reminds me of my sweet sister and the day we got matching tattoos together. The olive branch is, well, little more than an olive branch (I like olives, okay?!) The flower on my shoulder is there because, hibiscus flowers are something beautiful that I’ve noticed a lot throughout my life, due to being a native Floridian. But the little line of script on my back – also the first tattoo I ever got – holds the most sentiment.

“I will always love you” written in my father’s handwriting. It was the result of scanning an old birthday card, making a copy, and bringing it into a tattoo shop at the age of 19. That birthday card and tattoo, in addition to a few photographs, are some of the scarce memories I still hold of my father who passed away when I was 11 years old. Five years later, I’m walking into a tattoo shop with a new, meaningful line of script that will be engraved on my body, and today I’m sharing the story behind it.

Fidatti del processo

On June 30th, 2019, Ray and I were in Florence, Italy. The plan for the day was to go see the statue of David (you know, that famous naked guy). Unfortunately, the regular tickets to see the statue were completely booked. I thought to check Airbnb to see if there were any guided tours to see the statue. We ended up finding a tour, led by a man named Mario, a native Florentine with a passion for his home city, and the art and history that it holds. He was well versed in Michelangelo’s work and was determined to help us look at David and see so much more than just “that famous naked guy”.

Michelangelo’s David is located in the Accademia Gallery. When you first enter the large room there is a sort of walkway that leads to David. The walkway is bordered by a number of other sculptures made by Michelangelo. These sculptures appear unfinished. Mario pointed this out to us, asking, “what do you notice about the other sculptures?” The point that he really wanted to make was that Michelangelo’s motivation behind David was not about the result, but the process.

Mario told us that upon completing David, Michelangelo had been frustrated with the fact that people were so focused on the statue, they were missing the point. So, Michelangelo began creating sculptures and stopping midway through to show the artistic process. To show the art emerging from the marble, fighting its way out in a sense. Mario used a number of analogies to point out that in all parts of life, it is the process that matters, not the end result. It is during this sort of “in between” phase when the awakening occurs. He pointed to my pregnant belly (I was about 6 months along at this point) and said that the pregnant woman is a beautiful example of the creative process, “no longer one person, but not yet two.”

We were in Europe for another 10 days after this experience in Florence. When we returned to the states, I was definitely in an “in between” phase, to say the least. As Mario had so beautifully stated, I was no longer one person but not yet two either; I was patiently waiting for my daughter to arrive. I was also in between the stages of “nursing student” and “nurse”. I had passed my boards and was ready to work, but I was so far into my pregnancy that the idea of applying and interviewing for jobs sounded exhausting. I decided that I would continue waiting tables until I went into labor and then plan to start my career as a nurse after having my baby and taking a few months off with her. 

Dragging smelly bags of garbage out to the dumpster, dealing with annoying drunk people, filling up that disgusting mop bucket and sometimes leaving with barely any money for the day was a serious process that I needed to trust. It wasn’t easy. I saw all of my colleagues beginning their careers, and here I was, extremely pregnant and getting yelled at over burnt French fries. I was a nurse. I had worked my butt off for four years to get these credentials and here I was, filling up cups of tartar sauce for $5/hour. 

Mario’s words really spoke to me. On the tough days I would bring myself back and think about how every experience in life teaches you something. I knew I was growing through this process. I knew things would fall together. The day after I gave birth to my daughter, I got a phone call. I was literally still in the hospital, so I didn’t answer. It was the manager of a job that I had applied for a week or so prior. She wanted to interview me. I called her back and she told me to just call her when I was ready to work. And just like that, everything was falling together just the way I wanted it to. 

Today I am almost 7 months into my career, my daughter has grown so much and I’m in more of a rhythm as a mom. I am pretty much where I dreamed of being back then. I am comfortable at my job, I am confident working as a nurse, I am financially stable. But some days still, I don’t feel like I am exactly where I want to be. I was reflecting recently on Mario’s words when I had the realization that once again, I need to trust the process. This time last year, I would have loved to be where I am right now. I was dying to start my career. I was so nervous about being new at a job again, after having worked at the same restaurant for 7 years. I wanted to find that place of comfort. And today, I am there. Yet still, I am looking forward. I then realized that it had almost been exactly one year since I saw Michelangelo’s David and I couldn’t help but remember how moving of an experience it was. This led to the decision to make a tattoo appointment for June 30th, 2020 to get “fidati del processo” (italian for “trust the process”) tattooed on my wrist. 

These reflections have led me to ponder a couple of things: Are we always trusting a process or do we eventually reach a goal? Should I be more present and stop looking into the future? Or, is it good to look into the future so that we never settle and get too comfortable? Thinking back seems like a healthy way to put your life into perspective, but I also believe that focusing on the present moment is a great practice as well. Share your thoughts in the comments!