Reminder On Why I Should Not Drink Caffeine…

When you wake up do you stumble to the pot of coffee?  Do you stagger to the refrigerator to grab a Coke?  Do you drink caffeine to get through your day?

80% of the population use caffeine on a regular basis.

I used to be part of the 80%.  I used to drink a lot of caffeine in the form of Diet Coke.  When I went out with my friends, I continued the caffeine love and had Vodka and Red Bull.  I constantly was buying Rooster Boosters during the day as that was my favorite energy drink.  I loved the way that caffeine made me feel.  I felt like I was on top of the world and could go anywhere and do anything.  I felt like I was the best and the brightest and could do no wrong.   I never realized that it wasn’t good for me until I had my massage instructor tell me that caffeine was a drug and if I couldn’t handle myself on it, then I shouldn’t take it.  He also made sure to point out that he thought I had some mental illnesses working behind the scenes and I specifically shouldn’t use caffeine.  At the time I was angry and thought he was stupid (this was before I decided to admit that I potentially did have some problems).  Looking back now, his comments took a while to sink in, but they were the catalyst toward me realizing that I did need some help!

Later down the road, I had a wonderful therapist, Lynn Wonders.  During our sessions, she, too mentioned that I probably should avoid caffeine.  Again, I wasn’t ready to hear it.  After all, I needed my caffeine to live my life.  It was very much a part of who I was.  I would drink several Diet Cokes in the morning and then go get my afternoon energy drink with my best friend at work.  I love the feeling caffeine gave me.

When I got pregnant last year, I gave up my beloved caffeine.  My midwife, would frown at me every time I mentioned having some.  I traded to Sprite.  I did that at 3 months pregnant.  When she got here, I intended to go back to drinking caffeine and I did so…until I learned that she is super sensitive to my caffeine intake and gets very fussy.  So I still have not been drinking caffeine for the most part.  I really think she has been saving me from myself.

Yesterday, I was super thirsty and didn’t want water.  I didn’t have any Gatorade (my new love since my daughter was born), so I grabbed a leftover coke from the fridge and drank it.  It was delicious.  Flash forward to a couple of hours later.  My mind is running 100 miles per hour and I can’t get anything blog-wise accomplished because I cannot focus on one thing at a time.  Also, it hasn’t been mentioned in this blog before, but I also have OCD.  My OCD manifests itself as compulsive skin picking.  Embarrassing to admit in writing and this is the first time I have admitted it.  So anywho, after my mind slows down and it is almost time for bed, I realize I have rubbed a large raw spot near my elbow.

It is then that it hits me and maybe I am slow or thick in the skull that I didn’t get it before.  All the advice to quit caffeine in my past.  Caffeine makes me more tense and anxious.  It doesn’t just give me energy.  Caffeine can make someone bipolar manic and over wound up.  Caffeine can also make someone with OCD more compulsive.  Caffeine also can make anger worse.  This is why I am supposed to leave this stuff alone.  In my journey for mindfulness, this is a very important realization.

If you have OCD, Bipolar or deal with anger, do you find that caffeine makes it worse?  Maybe, like myself you haven’t noticed a link but I challenge you to investigate any connection between caffeine and a worsening of your symptoms.  You might be surprised at what you find.

Next I have to look at sugar as I have been warned to get away from that too…but I just can’t fathom that right now!

Walking Slowly-AKA Meditative Walking

Let me begin by stating that I walk quickly.  I always walk quickly.  Usually when I walk, it is with purpose and my only focus while I walk is getting to where I need to go so I can do what needs to be done next.  In fact, when my oldest was little, I sometimes forgot that their little legs are so little that they take like four steps to our one.  You would see me rushing along and dragging a little one behind me.  Once I remembered, I would always slow down, but it always made me feel unproductive at a slower pace.

Since that time, I have learned about walking meditation by reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s works.  This weekend, my mother came into town.  She normally is a fast, no-nonsense walker like myself.  She recently had foot surgery and she has to move slower than usual.  We did some shopping while she was here and I would find myself rushing along and she would have to remind me that I needed to wait up.

Shopping with my mother over the weekend, forced me to think about my habit of always rushing around.  I miss the journey in my constant drive to get there.  When I noticed that I got ahead of my mother, I had to force myself to slow down.  I focused on the feeling of my feet hitting the ground, the feeling of my muscles contracting and relaxing, my breath going in and out (realizing that it was very shallow), the scenery around me, and the sound of our conversation and the conversations of the people around me.  I was truly there with my mother and two daughters.  Looking back now at the memory of that time over the weekend, the memory seems clearer than I am used to.  Usually when I look back a couple of days, I see just certain images and the rest is a blur.  I suspect that comes from me rushing around everywhere.  When you slow down you can take in more around you.

I am not perfect, and I caught my mother having to remind me more times than not to slow down.  But the whole experience got me to thinking about all the times, I relentlessly made those little feet scurry to keep up with me when my oldest was younger.  I intend to try to do better, by mindfully walking from place to place instead of hurrying everywhere. Lets see how much of our lives we can actually be present for by paying attention to where we are in the moment.

Will you practice mindful walking with me?  It doesn’t take much.  Just notice the sensation of your breath as you walk.  Notice the sensations in your body.  Notice the people around you.  Be present and in the here and now.  Let go of the thoughts about the past and future.

We can be more present for our families!

What’s the scoop on poop? Caution TMI

Whenever you start to think about cloth diapering you probably will start searching online and fall in love with all the cute prints, or the cute babies in the cute prints.  These same cute babies never have a spot of dirt on them or a hair out-of-place.  You get the warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach and can be insanely optimistic.  Those advertisements can make you feel that you, too, can be the perfect mommy cloth diaperer.  You move from optimism to exuberant excitement.  You can’t wait to cloth diaper!  You want the diapers and the baby here now!

Then a thought starts to creep into your consciousness.  It might have been there before but chances are you just skipped over it for the moment.  Now it is in the front and center as family, friends, your spouse etc tell you that you are crazy.  The doubt gets bigger as you ponder this question.

What to do with the poop?  The dreaded poop?  The one thing that makes most parents considering cloth stop dead in their tracks.  I know this is one of the number one questions parents hesitate on.  How do I know?  Well the other day I was giving a cloth diaper demonstration and I got through all the cool products and fun prints and a mom finally said, “This is all fine and wonderful but what do you do with the poop?.

Since I now fully appreciate the power behind this question, I will start all of my demonstrations with this question.  Plus talking about feces will really break the ice.   Since I have been practicing Elimination Communication (see earlier posts), I smugly thought I wouldn’t have the answers for parents worried about poop.  See my baby poops on the potty and that isn’t an issue for us anymore.

Well once I started feeding her food her poop consistency changed, she also started teething, rolling over and trying to crawl at the same time.  So we entered into a dreaded potty strike and I was left to figure out what to do with the peanut butter poop that was now all over her cloth diapers.

See when a baby is exclusively breastfed, poop is water soluble and can just be thrown into the diaper pail and into the wash without rinsing or anything else.  Once solids are introduced, solid particles have to be removed before the diaper can be washed.  Once solid food is introduced but milk is still the prime source of nutrients, poop becomes thicker and the consistency of peanut butter.  This can create a bit of a challenge with cloth diapers if you are not prepared.  Since I was practicing Elimination Communication, I was not prepared.  My first round of cleanup literally involved a spatula (now named the pootula) and the sink.  I also believe that there might have been some in my hair since I was then an unskilled pootula user!  Since most people do not want to be this involved there are other great options.

You could install a diaper sprayer to the back of your toilet, like the Bum Genius Diaper Sprayer.  Then you would just spray the poop off in the toilet and throw the diaper in the pail.  This makes poo cleanup very easy.

Another option would be the Bummis Flushable Liners.  They are very thin and lay inside of the diaper.  When your child poop you just lift out the liner and flush it away.  The liners are biodegradable and will break down in an average of 8 days in a sewage treatment facility and 20 days in a private septic.

So if you are worried about the poop and don’t want to grab a spatula and scrape poop off, then these might be wonderful options for you.  These will make poop less intimidating.  However, I have found that after time a mom can deal with a poopy diaper and then sit back down to finish the meal that was just interrupted without even hesitating.

How To Remain A Mindful Parent In The Face Of Stressful Times

R for the last few weeks has been very cranky.  As mentioned in a previous post, we have discovered that she has two new teeth poking through her bottom gums.  This morning she woke up with her first cold.  To say she is irritable would be putting it mildly.  She is cranky.  She wants you next to her 24/7 and if you try to slip away after nursing her to sleep, she gets awake and furious very quickly.  To get anything done, I have to wear her and be constantly moving.  Then after a long day of crying and fussiness, J comes home from school.  It sometimes takes us 2-3 hours to get through homework, because of focus issues.  By the end of homework, I can usually feel my blood start to boil, my patience wearing thin and my thoughts racing everywhere.

How to stay mindful when things around you are going crazy?

I always try to bring myself back to my breath.  I focus on the rise and fall of my breath and nothing else.  I might say a mantra to myself like, “It’s Okay.  You are not going crazy, it just feels that way,” or, “Just Breathe, they don’t mean to act like wild animals.”  There is something about the feeling of your breath going through your body that is wonderfully centering.

On days that I am completely losing it, Mommy has to have a time-out.  Now as crazy as this might seem, I literally will go have a mini meditation session in the bathroom.  And yes, usually I will sit on the toilet!  I will go sit in the bathroom for 10 minutes and just focus on my breathing.  When I emerge, I know my family can sense that I am calmer.  I am then able to go back to whatever it is that we were doing when I noticed I was getting caught up in the chaos.

So when you feel like you are slipping down the slippery slope of anger, go to the bathroom.  Breathe for a little bit.  Re-center.  Then move back into whatever the situation may be, peacefully and calmly.

Bathroom Meditation Mini Poem
When my phone just went floatin’
And appears to be broken
My children are joking,
Now I feel like I’m choking
When I’m losing my grip,
And feel I might slip
I rescue myself from the fall
And get away from it all
I found sanity for me
In the same place that I pee!

Teething, Amber Teething Necklace and Hylands Teething Tablets

I have been a slacker.  I haven’t posted in almost a month!  I apologize for that.

I have a teething 6 month old at this point!  We have one little tooth peeking through the gum line on the bottom!  It has been a long process getting there!

I was in the middle of post a day 2011 and still really intend to do that, I just might have to start from here.  Enough of the apologies!  I totally have to share what has gotten me through these few weeks of teething hilariousness.  We started to know that something was up when R started growling.  She growled like a little animal all day long and when she wasn’t growling, she was screaming!  One day, I finally decided to feel her gums to try to get to the bottom of what was causing her crazy animal noises.  Sure enough there were two tiny bumps in her gums!  One was rough and almost through.

Immediately I put on her Amber Teething necklace and hoped for the best.  Two very rough days afterward, I discovered that it didn’t seem to be helping.  Upon doing some research, I realized that the lighter the color and the more cloudy the amber “beads” the more succinic acid content in the necklace.  I bought me necklace just from the aspect of how cool it looked and it is a pattern of light, dark, darker beads so there isn’t that much succinic acid in this particular necklace.  The best ones to get are the butter colored ones.  I am placing and order in the next few days for a lighter necklace.  I know several of my mom friends state they have the butter colored necklaces and never had a teething problem with their little ones!

That brings me to the part about Hyland’s Teething Tablets.  I will go ahead and put it out there that Hyland’s has temporarily issued a voluntary recall for these tablets and they should be coming out in early spring sometime.  Which I absolutely cannot wait for.  Let me tell you about these teething tablets.  I was at a play group the other day with R.  She went into super fussy mode and was inconsolable.  One of the mommies in my group pulled out her bottle of Hyland’s Teething Tablets that she bought before the recall.  She handed me two tablets and I put them into R’s mouth.  It wasn’t 10 minutes later that I had a completely calm baby!  It was magical.  I am currently using the Hyland’s teething gel until the tablets come back out and that seems to work, but just not as fast.  I will be one of the first in line for the teething tablets!

Lessons from Rob and Big

I am watching Rob and Big th morning.  for those of you that don’t know what this is, it is a show about Rob Drydek.  I don’t know much about him, but he is a professional skater and the show follows him and his bodyguard, Big.  I am up early watching reruns of this show because now Rob is on his own in his show as Big had to leave to be a father.  For those of you who actually know me, it might come as a surprise that I love this show so much. It can be pretty vulgar in spots but his antics crack me up.  He is the eternal kid.  He is 32 in the episode I am currently watching but he plays and goofs off like a child.  In every episode, you can tell that he is having a blast.   I think I have so much fun watching it because of the fun they are having and the joy that radiates out of them.  They are always playing and coming up with new ways to have fun.  I always walk away from watching this show with a smile on my face.

This morning, while watching it, I tried to figure out why I love it so much and I think I finally figured it out:

First, this show is full of laughter.  Rob and Big are laughing the whole episode about something.  Both Rob and Big are not afraid to be goofy and play.  I read a statistic the other day that the average toddler laughs 400 times per day and the average adult laughs 15 times a day.  That is an astonishing difference.  I don’t even think that most days, I make it to 15 and that is a shame.  Laughter is good for our health but as an adult we don’t tend to find things to laugh about in our day.  This show reminds me that I want to find more to laugh about in my daily life.  I would like to be more childlike in that way.

Second, this show is full of people being true to who they are.  Rob is truly himself and doesn’t try to be anything else.  He is silly and goofy and that is what makes him unique.  He doesn’t filter what he says to appear to be someone else.  He doesn’t try to hide his uniqueness.  He uses it and it has made him famous.  When you are truly being yourself everything just flows.  I am working on a workbook right now that asked me how I am unique.  It took me forever to answer that question.  Like really, I put the workbook down and walked away for a week.  It is a shame that I should have to think that hard about it.  What that tells me is that I haven’t been living in alignment with who I am.  It tells me that I have been trying to cover up, filter or modify who and what I am for those around me.  The next question in the workbook was what makes me memorable.  It took me calling my mom to try to figure that out.  See, in my years of living I have lost sight of who and what I am.  That is moderately depressing.  As I am trying to dig my true self under the rubble, I am rediscovering parts of my self that I forgot were there.  If you know me, you know that I, too, can be pretty goofy.  I don’t let that goofy side of myself come out with anyone but my family and close friends because I try to please everyone around me.  I want everyone to like me and think that people will be annoyed when I am silly and that will make them not do business with me.  Well this business workbook that I am going through, tells me otherwise.  It tells me that the things that make me unique are what are going to help me in my business and become my personal brand.  This certainly has become true for Rob.  He does what makes him unique and he is prospering due to that. 

Third, because they are truly secure in who they are, they don’t hesitate to try things they might not be good at.  They aren’t afraid to fall, make an ass out of themselves or fail.  They just keep trying new things and testing their ideas.   When something doesn’t work, they keep trying until they find something to work.  And the best part is that they are having fun during their process.  They laugh when they fall or mess up.  They can find the humor in a failure (and it makes for great tv).  It amazes me to think that we lose sight of fun in the process.  I know, myself, I hesitate to try things that might make me seem ignorant, unsure or inexperienced.  I get embarrassed if I don’t know everything about a topic and have to look things up before proceeding.  I feel like I should know everything before I get started.  I now know that needing to know everything before moving is just another way to stay trapped and to stay in the same situation.  Grasping for all the knowledge and staying stuck until you feel like you know everything could lead to you being stuck in the same spot for years or life.  Being okay with allowing the process being imperfect, will allow you to keep moving and not get stuck. 

I am going to focus on staying true to myself, allowing myself to laugh, and allowing myself to be goofy in front of everyone, not just my family.  I am going to stop filtering myself so often.  I am going to continue to try to dig up all of who I am and allow myself to be that person.  What about you?  What can you do to laugh more?  What daily filters do you impose on yourself because you believe who you are isn’t good enough?  Who is the unique person inside yourself?  What can you do to get back in touch with that person?  Do you know that person well or have you lost sight of who that person is completely?

Let’s get back in touch with our true selves and see what worlds open up in front of us!  Let’s laugh along the way!

Will you join me?

How to find Meditation Time as a Parent

When my oldest daughter J, was four, I moved back with my mom so I could finish school.  During this time in my life, I was severely stressed and depressed.  I started seeing a wonderful therapist, who introduced me to meditation.  At that point, I didn’t know much about meditation and I thought it was something really complicated and hard to do.  I thought there would be all of these steps to proper meditation. 

I was surprised when she just had me simply follow my breath.  Just breathing in and out?  I could totally do that.  So I started practicing daily.  As I got better at keeping my mind still while meditating, I noticed a shift in my mood.  For almost a year I meditated daily and sometimes twice daily.  I eventually was able to get off antidepressants and meditating became a big part of my world. 

When I graduated from school and didn’t have 2 hours of downtime between work and school, life got busy and meditating got put away.  It has been a little over a year and a half since I graduated from massage school.  I had noticed that I was getting angry more often and being short-tempered with those around me.  I have been trying to get back on the wagon, but it is hard to find uninterrupted alone time when you have two children.  I can’t imagine doing it when you have more than that! 

I ran across an article yesterday that got me to thinking.  So what, I can’t always get alone in the quiet to meditate, I can make my whole day a meditation if I want. I can focus on my breathing, both the in and out breath while I focus on my family.  I can be present when demands are made of me.  I can breath while holding a smile.  I can be aware.  I can bring my attention back to my breathing when I realize my mind is running away with me.  When I feel angry and frustrated, I can breathe and focus on being compassionate.  Then my family will benefit directly from my practice. 

I tried this yesterday and right before I tucked my oldest daughter into bed, she said, “Mom you were really happy and laughing a lot today.” 

That made my heart smile.  I just tried to focus on my breathing and maintaining a smile and she noticed it.  I didn’t point out what I was doing or make a fuss about it, and she noticed a difference in me. 

What about you?  How can you incorporate whole-day meditation?  How do you think that your family will benefit?  I intend to keep testing it out and see what happens.  I believe that having meditation time by yourself is important to, but when you can’t get away, meditate with your family.