4 Simple Wellness Steps To Feel Better

I’ve had a couple of really rough days recently. I’ve been waking up on my days off and instantly feeling 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 wellness 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 milk 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, and if it 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. 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. 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. 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!

How are you taking care of your body today? Let me know in the comments!


“A Bump Abroad”

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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 entering into parenthood, 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 parenthood with making sacrifices and settling. In my experience, I have definitely made sacrifices but I’ve also taken some really positive actions. 

Settling in my hometown

This first example 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.

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!). 

My next realization is this: 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.

Using parenthood as an excuse to be out of touch with current events

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. 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. 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! 

Setting boundaries

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. 

Emotional awareness

The transition into parenthood 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 them.

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. 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.

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, 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. Lastly, no, sacrifice is not a bad thing. Sacrifice is an honor, just like being a mom is. 


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Europe Reflections Part I: Trust the Process

Fiume Arno, Florence, Italy

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 / Trust the process

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!

Visit Mario’s website here if you plan to be in Florence soon and are looking for an amazing guided experience.

“A Bump Abroad”

Pre-order now!

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble