A Season of Therapy

There’s a lot of things about motherhood we never talk about. I was surprised by the amount of “hard things” nobody told me before becoming a mom. We tend to wear these things like badges of honor. Like the newborn stage and toddlerhood defines us.

And for a while, it does.

We are Mom. We solve problems, wipe faces, clean up dishes and toys and cups and dirty clothes. We give hugs and kisses and rub backs and rock babies to sleep. We become everything to our littles.

But we don’t talk about how the season of littles is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. It’s all-consuming. And as much as I love my boy, sometimes I just want to be alone in a quiet room where nobody needs anything from me for several hours.

Enter therapy.

While my circumstances are unique, I decided I needed to speak to someone about all the things swirling around in my head. I had a nine month old at the time, and I was transitioning from breastfeeding to formula. I had no idea I was going to have my biggest hormone shifts since birth when I quit breastfeeding, but there I was in the thick of it. I was working full-time, mostly from home, but planning my transition back to the office.

And I simply couldn’t “hang in there” without help. My postpartum anxiety was at an all-time high. COVID was raging in our community. I just couldn’t get myself under control. I was miserable, and I knew I needed something to give me a push out of the funk I was in. To help me think through who I was and what I wanted.

So I made an appointment, filled out an informational form and went to meet my fate in therapy.

Why do we struggle so much to take steps to help ourselves? I kept thinking I would get over it or bounce back. But I just didn’t.

I sat down across from this stranger, my therapist, and told her things I had never told anyone. I told her my fears, my dreams, my insecurities, my hopes for the future, my past experiences. I told her everything.

It was liberating.

She helped me find freedom and acceptance in myself. She gave me language to help me understand what I was feeling. She helped me work through scenarios. She talked me through one of the toughest seasons of my life.

What if you gave yourself permission let go of your preconceived notions and tried therapy?

It could really help you figure some stuff out. If you go and you don’t have a great vibe with the first therapist you try, ask them for a referral. They won’t be offended. Good therapists want you to get help, even if it’s not from them.

If you are struggling or something feels off or you don’t feel quite like yourself as you settle into motherhood (or anytime), get yourself a therapist. I have a great one, and I gladly give out her information to anyone who asks or who I think would be open to hearing my story.

I still see mine twice a month. I look forward to going, even when it’s emotionally difficult to talk through hard things. It’s become a lifeline in my current season of motherhood, working full-time and trying to “do it all.”

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

In Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, she talks about this idea of stories we tell ourselves when we freak out. It’s like we don’t have all the info or the answers to our questions, so our brain fills in the blanks with whatever crazy, scary thing we can think of. Then, these stories usually spiral out of control, making us feel sick and terrible and anxious.

Yesterday, I had a moment where the story I told myself was one where I couldn’t take on a new project at work. It’s too big. I’m at capacity. I’m overwhelmed. I’m on the verge of burnout. I’m not ready. I’m whatever, whatever, whatever. The list went on and on until I realized I was spiraling out of control. I called my work mentor and asked him to talk me off the self-made ledge.

This got me thinking about all the things we tell ourselves as we go through our days, and how much power they can wield over us, if we aren’t careful in reeling our minds in.

Let me elaborate on other stories I’ve been telling myself lately.

This body should be “back to normal.” It’s been 17 months since you had that baby. Things should be back to the way they were.

Me to Myself

This story started creeping in as we prepared for our first family beach trip since we became a family of three. Why do we do this? It’s maddening. Like my body is the only thing about me that is interesting or beautiful or lovable. I hate this story so much. It’s such a power stealer. Just take the wind right out of your sails.

The weekends leading up to our beach trip I would try on my new “mom” bathing suits and judge my postpartum body in my new one pieces. I’d tell myself the story of how I was nowhere near my former size, nowhere near as “cute,” nowhere near as attractive as I was before I had my child. Then, I would take the swim suits off and do it all over again the next weekend.

You can’t have a successful career you love AND be the mom you want to be to your child.

Me to Myself

My company has gone through a lot of change in the last year, and more is coming. It’s coming so fast the story I tell myself is I can’t keep up. I can’t keep up with the pace of this change AND be the version of mom I want to be. I can’t achieve more at work AND be engaged at home. I can’t lead a team at work AND parent my child through toddlerhood. I can’t be the change-maker I want to be AND be home by 6 p.m. every night, make dinner, do bath time and tuck my son into bed.

Both things require so much mental, physical and emotional energy. And it’s impossible to give 100 percent to both work and parenting. And choosing what I give 100 percent to makes me feel miserable sometimes. Why can’t I do it all? Other working moms do.

These stories aren’t constantly on a loop in my head. They just show up sometimes when doubt creeps in or when my pants fit a little tighter than usual.

What happens when you change the story?

Here’s the the takeaway. The one thing I want you to carry with you from this whole thing.

The stories we tell ourselves are bullshit.

They come from a place of fear or shame or self-loathing. AND they aren’t true.

Nothing is wrong with my body. I can still have a career and strive for excellence and lead a team and change the world AND be a good, active, thoughtful mother to my son.

So let’s change the stories.

This body should be “back to normal.” is perfect like it is now. It’s been 17 months since you had that baby. Things should be back to are the way they are.

Me to Myself

I grew a person inside my body. She stretched and adapted and grew to bring the most perfect little boy into the world. That is a miracle. I am just as beautiful and lovable in this body I am in today. My body recovered from childbirth. She nursed a baby for nine months. She carried a baby for 9 months in the womb and now 17 months earth-side.

I recently started working out because I want to honor her. I want to be strong. I want my son to see me take care of myself. I want the mental health attributes of working out. I want to know I am doing all I can to keep her healthy since she did so much for me during pregnancy and postpartum.

You can’t can have a successful whatever type of career you love want AND be the mom you want to be to your child was meant to have.

Me to Myself

This notion that women can’t have careers and be a good mom is just totally ridiculous. Please don’t put us in a box where we can only have one or the other. You can be a full-time working mom. You can be a part-time working mom. You can have a side hustle. You can be at stay-at-home mom. You can go to all the field trips. You can be the classroom mom. You can be a homeschool mom. You can be a home-cooked meals mom. You can be a pick-up-dinner-after-work mom.

You are only defined by the limits you draw for yourself.

Let me say that again.

You are only defined by the limits you draw for yourself.

For me, those limits change daily. Depending on my mental capacity, my workload, my home responsibilities, what my spouse can do to help lighten the load at home and childcare, my mom who comes on the weekends to help with my son, my mother-in-law who keeps my son while I work.

Some days, I just “keep the lights on.” I don’t start anything new. I don’t take on big work projects. I make easy foods. I rest during naps. I lean on my team. I read and consume mindlessness. I go to bed early.

Other days, I go for it. I have capacity to take on more work projects. I blaze a new path. I clean my house or do dishes during naps. I read and consume challenging media. I stay up and enjoy another episode or one more page.

Most days, it’s a combination of the two. Keeping the lights on in some areas of life, while going for it in others.

The story I tell myself is that is ok to have both. It is ok to rest and strive. It’s ok to just be.

What stories do you tell yourself?

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

This is one Paleo dinner that doesn’t taste “granola” at all. It was so good we ate until our stomachs hurt.

The glorious part is I browned the hamburger meat several hours before I was ready to eat, and I threw all the ingredients for the sauce into the crockpot to cook for awhile so the flavors could get right. Plus, slow cooking the meat makes it extra tender.

I’ll admit it’s not the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but it makes up for it in warm, hearty flavors. Perfect for fall.

What you need:

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half
  • 1 jar of Whole30 compliant spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian Seasoning to taste

Sauté the ground beef with the onion in a hot skillet until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Move to slow cooker. Add in the sauce. (I used Thrive Market’s Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce.) Add a little Italian Seasoning, and more salt and pepper if you like. I cooked ours on low for about 4 hours, but you could also make this on the stovetop.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrap out the pulp and seeds. Season the inside of the squash halves with salt, pepper and a little avocado oil. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet cut side down, and roast for 40-45 minutes. When it is done, remove from the oven, and let cool for a few minutes. Flip the halves over and scrap the squash with a fork to make “noodles.”

Put the squash noodles in a bowl. Top with the spaghetti sauce. And enjoy.

It was warm and comforting. And like I said, we ate all of it. The good thing is the “noodles” didn’t make us sick. It’s the little things in life.

What are your favorite comfort dishes that just happen to be Paleo?

Show Me Your Friday Face

We made it to Freedom Day…also known as Friday. Woo whoo!

This week has been hard on me. Like crazy hard. My day job has been crazy. I’m working hard on my side hustle with Beautycounter after I get home. I feel like I need a mental break. But this too shall pass .

I’ve been switching my my eyeshadow every few days since I got the gorgeous Winter Jewels Palette from Beautycounter. But I’m gravitating to certain ones over and over again.

In the Winter Jewels Palette, I’m completely in love with the Rose Gold eyeshadow. I’m wearing only that and the Volumizing Mascara in the photo above.

But I recently got the Nude Eye Trio from the Holiday Collection. The nude cream eye shadow is to die for. It’s the color of my dreams. Neutral with a hint of gray. I hope they keep those two shades after the holidays are over.

If you haven’t checked out the Holiday Collection, I highly recommend that you do. Everything is so gorgeous. Perfect for stockings. I can make recommendations for the special people in your life. So let’s give the gift of clean beauty.

Anyway, I didn’t intend for this to be a Beautycounter post, but I’m just really loving everything they’ve got going right now.

Happiest of Fridays, friends!

Secret Ingredient Salmon Cakes

Someone I admire paid me the biggest compliment today.

On the Adventures to Wellness Facebook page, there was a lovely little comment on my Creamy Chicken and Zoodles post about finding a yummy gluten free, egg free, nut free, soy free recipe.

I love it when you guys comment and leave messages about making my recipes. So humbling.

These Salmon Cakes are extra tasty. And in keeping with the gluten free, egg free, nut free, soy free theme, I can’t wait to share it with you.

What’s the secret ingredient?

Pumpkin purée.

Pum

What you need:

  • Two cans pink salmon
  • 1/2 can organic pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • Dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drain the juice off the salmon, and put meat into a bowl. Flake with a fork. Stir in the pumpkin and coconut flour. Season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy.

It’s just that simple. The pumpkin purée acts as a binder like eggs, and it doesn’t alter the flavor of the cake. And if you have an allergy to eggs, you don’t have to worry over it with this dish.

I paired our Salmon Cakes with a combination of wilted turnip greens and Swiss chard. So tasty and full of Vitamin K.

What is one ingredient you use in everything?