Working through the Mental Muck

Earth knows more about the inner workings of my heart and mind than anyone I have ever encountered.

In a way, this simple fact has created great gorges in my friendships, as I am not one to divulge information or troubles to others and thus inadvertently keep people at a distance. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told, “You’ve been a better friend to me than I have to you.”

I, in turn, try to explain why they may feel that way and it has less to do with their actions or inactions and more to do with my not confiding as friends are want to do.

I toil through issues, feelings, thoughts, and struggles as I use my hands, whether I am turning the soil in preparation for a herb garden, or in cutting fabric for a quilt. I generally think-work, where talking is not required and I can think whatever I need to think, be it kind and forgiving, or venomous and lashing and there is no harm in it and no need for apologies later.

When I feel sad, or pissed off, or otherwise unbalanced, I work my way through it, literally and figuratively. My work keeps me sane.

I come here sharing with you what I’ve learned so that perhaps you can learn from me (or in spite of me) a way that works for you. I’d never pretend to be a mental health expert and laugh at even the thought of that! Do not in any way quote me on anything I say regarding mental health.

I literally have no idea what I’m talking about.

All I know is I’ve learned to navigate my roller coaster emotions with my arms waving in the sky and a smile on my face and for that I’m grateful.

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A lot of it happened when I stopped thinking of myself as “broken.” I detest the notion of anyone regarding herself as broken. You may have gone through hell. Your father may have hurt you. Your family may desert you. You may have been beaten as a child, locked in a closet most of your life, abused by your spouse, or paralyzed from the neck down, but you are not broken unless you declare yourself as such.

And I believe that in declaring ourselves as broken, we further take upon ourselves the false notion that we are not enough, or worthy, or equal to the next person.

When we actually are.

Just as we are.

In all our perceived imperfections.

 


 

I can lift soil from one area of my yard and it is completely different from soil in another area of the yard. They look different, drain different, and even smell different. I could cry and complain about the soil differences, or I can accept what is there with an open heart and an open mind and get on with it. Instead of trying to force the same plants to grow in both areas and look exactly the same, I can allow them to support diverse plant life and love them for the aesthetic they provide. Sure, I’ll amend the soil. I’ll tend the plants, but there’s not need in trying to get both areas to be the same.

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Yet how often do we do that to ourselves? How often do we look at ourselves as “lacking,” while glorifying others?

We like to blame it on the highlight reel, but it’s actually us. We do it. We glorify others and place them on pedestals we build and then we compare ourselves to the lofty false assumptions we have of others we barely know…or even friends who we only know through coffee shop visits, play dates, or ladies’ nights out.

There’s no need for any of this. Like the various soils Earth provides, each of us comes with our own unique qualities. Some of us may need extra support, but that doesn’t mean we’re broken, anymore than hard clay is broken.

Broken-ness does not exist.

You are not broken.

You are whole, multi-faceted, and beautiful and fully capable of creating a beautiful life for yourself, if only you’d come to accept yourself just as you are, right at this moment.

You see, I’m fully aware of my anger at the moment. I accept it. I am angry. However, I’m also forgiving. I am loving. I am kind and generous. I am protective of my family, especially my children. However, I also have a lot of faith in the Divine and believe everything happens for a reason.

What do you know about yourself at this moment in time?

Take note and accept it. Say it out loud.

Let go of the worry that you’re somehow not enough.

Step out in faith.

And, if you have the ability to get your hands in the soil or to create something with your hands, get them busy doing something – creating something beautiful to help you move through the muck in your mind.

Be well, my friends,

Xx

Resa

Making Time

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Violets on a path in my garden

When I first started homeschooling my daughter, I used to think about the things I could be doing if she had gone to school. I thought of yoga, peaceful visits to coffee shops, or the bookstore, lunch with a friend, long runs or walks with my dog, sitting down to read without interruption, shopping alone and actually being able to try something on in a dressing room.

I could go on.

It’s possible to say that I held a little resentment for a while. I felt I was missing out on my imaginary other-life.

Eventually, I realized that if I were to continue to let my daughter learn at home, I had to make some changes in my mindset. Sure, choosing to homeschool involves some sacrifices, but of the things I thought I was missing out on, many I’d likely not do even if she were at school. If she went to school, I’d likely go to work, most likely going back to the school system, because that’s where my “expertise” and my skills are most useful.

When I thought of that and when I weighed out the pros and cons of sending her to school versus homeschooling her, I realized that it would be a much bigger sacrifice to lose that precious time with her. It would be a terrible sacrifice to gain a paycheck, or a few hours to myself and miss her laughter, miss seeing her face light up when something clicks, or she learns a new skill, or finishes a story all by her self.

Sometimes a shift in perspective is all we need to realize we are exactly where we need to be, doing exactly what we need to be doing.

I’ve let go of dreaming of my “other-life.” When I really thought of it, I realized what I have in real life is a far cry better than anything I could dream up while my daughter sat at a desk in school and longed for recess, or for the last bell to ring so she could go home.

Homeschooling my daughter has been the best decision I’ve made in a long time and no coffee, or book could change that.

Looking Back

I see parents complain about their children and the sad part is many of them are with their children less than half the day. Most see them in the morning when they’re rushing them out the door and they see them after school when they’re fighting over homework, then they eat, and get them ready for bed. I remember living that way with my sons.

If I had it to do over again, I’d have been a nanny at home and kept my sons home with me. I follow a young mom who does this and it works so well for her and I think, “Man, if only I’d have thought of that!”

How things could have been different for them and for me. I wonder how much more of their childhoods I’d remember if I had done that, because in all honesty, a lot of their childhood is a blur. Of course most of the memories are from summer, when we had the most time together. We can’t live like that though, looking back and wishing we had done things differently. Everything happens for a reason. Everything is exactly as it should be.

It is an illusion to think there could have been any other way.

It was fun raising boys. I enjoyed it so much, even down to the stitches, fights, canoes in the creek, and my oldest getting lost while out exploring the countryside with the dogs. I like to think that I still gave them freedoms outside of school that helped shape them into who they are today.

I hope.

That Said…

I have made some changes that have helped. I make time each day for what I love:

  • writing: for pay and for pleasure
  • reading: every single day, I read for at least 15 minutes
  • quilting: especially in fall and winter, but also on rainy days
  • gardening: when the weather permits
  • working out: every day I am active for at least 30 minutes

Making myself a priority has really helped me to better make space for my daughter’s education. I feel far more relaxed and open with her. I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything. The resentment is gone.

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I think many moms feel they should be constantly giving and giving to their children, to their spouses, to their friends, to their families, but we must also give to ourselves. I don’t mean on occasion, where you get a manicure once a month and that’s the only hour to yourself you have. I’m talking about daily.

Yes, daily.

If you have multiples, this will prove challenging and your list may be shorter than mine and that’s okay. Start with one thing and be sure to give time to that one thing every day.

Maybe you want time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the quiet. This may mean that you get that cup in the afternoon during your children’s nap time. Or, it may mean that you get up a little earlier than everyone else. Whatever you have to do to get it in, do it.

You will never regret making this time for yourself.

You are not selfish to give yourself this time.

You deserve it.

Xx

Resa

How Nature Teaches Me to be a Better Parent

I cannot believe March is nearly over. The year is one-fourth of the way over.

Time flies.

I’ve not written here much because my life has been filled with other things and I’m over-the-moon excited about them. Mainly, I’ve been busy working in the garden and loving every single second of it. I’ve also been spending most Saturdays watching my little grand daughter and that keeps Kat and me happily occupied!

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My sweet grand daughter

Is there a better teacher than Mother Earth herself? I honestly don’t think so. There, with the soil in hand, I am able to more clearly see things and hash out the struggles of the every day. Sometimes, I’ll see my error in a conversation or an argument and apologize to the person in question. Other times, I’ll see a new perspective in a situation and figure out a less intrusive way to deal with it. This is especially helpful as a mother of two grown sons. I want to support them without being pushy. Being outside in the garden really helps me to gain a clearer perspective.

My happiest days generally end with black soil under my fingernails and clinging to my shoes.

We received our apple trees yesterday morning. They’re taller than I expected and that thrilled me. I’ve still not finished getting the area ready for them and now we have rain, so I’ll have to wait a few more days before I can dig into the earth and remove more stumps, but that’s okay. The rain makes the soil easier to manage and gets the earthworms active. Kat is so excited to get them planted and I love how eager she is to help me in the garden.

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We also have blackberry bushes on the way and she loves blackberries. This sparked a chat about the ripeness of the fruits and veggies we get in the grocery store compared to the true ripeness of fruits and veggies from the garden. I told her as long as she’s patient, she’ll never get a sour blackberry. All she has to do is wait for them to ripen on the brambles and they’ll be super sweet every time.

It’s amazing, the lack of nutrients we receive from vegetables and fruits that we buy out of season, because they have to be harvested too early to survive the longer shipping times. If you have the opportunity to eat local fruits and veggies, do yourself a favor and take advantage of that!

I just ordered the final plants for the fire pit area and that makes me breathe a sigh of relief as well. Everything should be in the ground by the end of Spring and I can spend the summer actually enjoying the fruit of my labor and that’s what gardening really is about, right? This is why we create seating areas in the garden…otherwise, it’s just work, work, work and that’s no fun.

There is nothing I can’t stand more than trying to wear “busy” like it’s a badge of honor. Being “too busy” denotes a lack of boundaries and that’s just not healthy or admirable. Being joyfully employed, now that’s different and that’s something that really makes the Soul sing and while some may think I’m just being too picky about words, I’m not.

There truly is a difference. When one is “busy,” it’s questionable whether or not we are actually productive. When we are joyfully employed with something, productivity comes naturally.

Joy is the variable here and that’s based solely on perspective.

 


“Oh the barrenness of a busy life.”

 


 

As I’ve been working in the garden, I have been thinking about what I want to leave for my children. I don’t mean like inheritance, but the impression I want to leave on my family for them to carry on to future generations. Is it strange to think such things?

At any rate, I have been.

I’d like for my children to take from me:

  • a love of Nature and the desire to take responsibility for taking good care of Mother Earth, whether it’s in supporting a cause that helps the environment, or it’s in growing gardens or caring for animals.
  • a sense of protection over those they love. I’ve always got my children’s backs and always will.
  • a sense of adventure and the knowledge that they are perfectly capable of being and doing whatever they want in this life – the only limitations are the ones they put on themselves.
  • a sense of openness – to other ideas, to differences in opinions, and beliefs – but to never just take things at face value without first comparing it to what they know is true.

Have you thought about the things you hope your children will gain from being your children? What are the things you hope they take with them as they grow up, move out, and follow their own paths?

With that, Kat and I are off to sow clover seeds.

xoxo

Resa

Proactive or Reactive? Your Health Your Choice

I just finished my workout and can I just tell you how happy I am to be setting aside that time for myself? It’s not even about looking a certain way. It’s about feeling good. It’s about having strong arms and legs to get me through the day. It’s about having more energy. It’s about sleeping better at night. It’s about not punching people (joking, sort of) and yes, it’s about feeling good in my clothes.

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Never let anyone try to convince you that you shouldn’t focus on your physical body. While it’s not advisable to obsess about it or to consider it the only important thing about you, it’s perfectly okay to consider it important in your life.

Most of last year, I made up excuses as to why I “didn’t have time” to workout, but it was a bunch of bologna. The way I see it is this: if I was able to workout when my sons were little and I had a full college load and a full-time job, I definitely have the time to do it now. It isn’t about time and has never been about time. We all get the same twenty-four hours in a day.

It’s all about priorities.

Once we own that, we can grow. Otherwise, we can keep making up excuses why we can’t do whatever it is we claim we wish we had time for: reading to our children, working out, meal prepping, walking the dog, spending more time with family, reading, hanging out with friends, etc.

If it’s a priority, we make time for it. If it isn’t, we make excuses. It’s that simple.

I made a lot of excuses last year regarding my physical fitness and I’ve paid for them with aches and pains, but it’s okay. I’ve made it a priority now.

Can I let you in on a terrible secret?

I’ve also neglected my health in other ways. I have a high level of anxiety regarding dentists and have not been to a dentist in about ten years. I know. I’m sure you’re balking at that and I don’t blame you, but it’s the truth. I’m sharing this because almost all of those ten years, I focused on my physical health. I ate as healthfully as possible and I worked out regularly. To look at me, you’d have thought I was a pillar of health, but it wasn’t true.

I was neglecting my oral health. While I brushed and flossed religiously and used my white strips and such, I neglected the professional care I deserve to have.

Here’s another secret.

I’ve not been to a doctor in at least that amount of time, except when I was pregnant with my daughter who is now six. I’ve not been sick, so I figured I was fine. However, I do believe in preventive care and being proactive with our health. Maybe I really am fine, but I probably should have a check up. I take my little girl for well checks. Why not myself?

I’ll tell you why: because I didn’t consider my health a priority. I didn’t consider ME a priority.

Do you consider yourself a priority?

Mamas, you are so important. Your health is so vital to your well being and it’s important to your family.

I’m not saying we need to run to the doctor for every little thing, but it’s a great idea to have a doctor. I don’t even have a doctor! I filled out my new patient forms for the dentist and it asked for my family physician and I realized I have no one to list. As a matter of fact, the last family physician I actually went to was probably in 2004! I did go to urgent treatment once since then, but that doesn’t count as a doctor, really. So, I’ve not had a doctor in fifteen years. Apparently I’m not alone. According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, in my state of Kentucky, 13% of women report having no family doctor. In Nevada, 27% of women report having no family doctor. Ladies, we must make a change and start making our health a priority.

This year, I made the goal to focus on Health & Home and I’m working on it. As a matter of fact, my husband is too and we are focusing on it for our little daughter too. I hope that what we’re doing will be a good influence for our grown sons as well, so they will always try to keep their health and wellness at the top of the priority list. After all, their children need them to be healthy, inside and out.

Be Proactive

Go. Make a call to a physician if you can’t remember your last check up. Get that Pap smear you’ve been putting off. Get your teeth cleaned. If you’re without insurance, like I am, ask to set up a payment plan. Most doctors and all dentists will do this. You are important. If you can buy that Starbucks every day, you can set aside money to visit your doctor.

Here’s the long and short of it: in dealing with our health, we have the choice to be proactive or reactive and usually being reactive is far more expensive.

I’m saying all of this with love. It is not written to upset anyone. I’m writing it to remind you of your power. You have the power to take control of your life and to feel your personal best and you deserve to feel your very best every single day.

Xx

Resa

 

 

 

My New Favorite App for Documenting Learning

I love documenting what my little girl is doing each week. As a family that leans toward unschooling, we don’t keep a rigid schedule and we don’t follow a curriculum, so it’s really important to document what our daughter is learning just to be sure we’re following the laws of our state.

For a while I tried jotting notes on a legal pad and it worked great for about a month and then I’d leave it in another room and swear I’d jot things down later, but wouldn’t remember for months. I found myself more often using our kitchen calendar, because it was within easy reach and it was simple enough to quickly make note of what she did. What I didn’t like was not having room for reflection or details.

Neither of these methods enabled me to take pictures & I’ve always been a camera-happy gal..

Recently I discovered the Evernote app and it’s been absolutely wonderful! I’ve been telling everyone about it.

This app enabled me to make notebooks for each section of learning to easily organize everything I need.

My Notebooks Look LikeThis

  • Humans & the World: Past & present
  • The Natural World
  • Be creative!
  • Using & Understanding Numbers
  • Read Alouds
  • Independent Reading

From the Be Creative! Notebook

For each notebook, I can upload what she did, add details about it & upload a picture or document. The cool part is it’s on my phone, so it’s super accessible. I can also sync the information to other devices.

The Evernote app is available in the App Store and is free at the basic level, or $69.99/year. I currently have the basic level and will see how much space I utilize. Each month, storage resets, but I do like to upload images and documents, so time will tell if the 60MB they provide per month will suffice.

I strongly encourage you to give it a try. I’m not an app crazy sort of person, but I seriously love this app! It helps me to easily see what my daughter is doing each day and it’s helpful for daily documentation for state requirements.

Xx

Resa

String Painting

Happy first day of Spring to you!

The sun is shining and it’s to be nearly sixty degrees today. My daughter and I celebrated by reading springtime poems, and going outside to paint. My daughter has been artistic from birth, I’m telling you. I remember letting her go crazy with finger-paints before she could even walk well and apparently it stuck. She creates all day long. Even during her “free time,” she gets her tablet out to use an art app. As I type, she’s eating her lunch while painting with an art app her dad downloaded for her last night.

When her dad comes home from work, Kat can most often be found using his iPad Pro to create her own art. One of her favorite things to do is pull My Little Pony art from online and manipulate it to make her own custom ponies.

Her dad, who is a tattoo artist, sometimes learns from her how to use some of the tools. Our children are great resources for 21-century devices, because they were born with them. They are native users, so to speak and because of this, they are intrinsically motivated to use them and have an almost innate ability to navigate new programs with ease. It may come as no surprise then that when I need help with something on a device, my daughter is often the first person I ask to help me. No embarrassment here!

With the lovely weather we’re having, I wanted to get us outside for some creativity. While we’ve been outside working in the yard building our raised bed for the vegetables, I wanted a new art project for her. Sometimes I hit the mark. Sometimes I don’t. When you have a super creative kid it can be challenging to find art projects to hold her attention for long. I’m happy to say that today’s string painting project was a hit!


What You’ll Need

  • yarn – cut into 12-18″ lengths
  • paper – 2 sheets per art piece
  • small bowls or cups for paint
  • tempera paint
  • bowl filled with warm soapy water
  • towels for cleanup
  • heavy book to use as a weight

How To

  • Dip yarn into paint of your choice, being sure to cover the yarn with the paint.
  • Using two fingers, run them down the yarn to remove excess paint.
  • Lay string on paper in any design you wish, but leave a small bit of string hanging off the paper so you can pull it later.

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  • Place second piece of paper on top and place a heavy book on top to weigh it down.
  • Gently pull the string from between the two sheets of paper.
  • Remove weight and open the paper to reveal your design.

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My daughter enjoyed this project so much we ended up doing three of them. Her favorite is the one she’s holding that looks like a little girl with horns and pony tails. She asked if we could please do this project again soon and of course my answer was a resounding YES! It was quite cool to see what she came up with with each one.

If you try this with your children, please let us know! You can tag your pictures on Instagram with *Hashtag* amusingmother so we can see them!

xoxo

Resa

 

 

Managing Anxiety, Naturally

Do you ever feel super anxious, even when there seems to be nothing to feel anxious about?

I definitely have and in all honesty, I didn’t realize how anxious I was until I stopped my nightly wine habit.

I mean, I felt anxiety when I was in the car, but it made sense, because I had a bad accident on the interstate a few years ago that totaled my new Impala. Thankfully my daughter, our dog, and I were unharmed. That said, my mental well-being in the car certainly bore the brunt of it. My husband said I made him a nervous wreck (no pun intended) when he was driving because he could sense my tension. I actually found myself on the verge of tears a few times. It literally got that bad!

I began to go out less and less and made up excuses about why I canceled events or play dates. It sucked.

Once I quit drinking wine, my anxiety creeped up in ways that didn’t make sense. At night, my heart would race for no reason. I’d worry about things that happened weeks or even months ago. I had difficulty focusing on tasks. I’d wake up feeling irritable and anxious. I know a lot of this was due to my body and brain adjusting to not having wine, but it was driving me nuts!

So, I began using Copaiba and Frankincense Essential Oils every single morning. Now let me be clear, I’ve been using oils for almost twenty-five years, but mostly just for topical use and as ingredients for natural skincare products. About four years ago, I started using dōTERRA oils and fell in love with them. That said, I never dreamed they could help with anxiety. I was a total skeptic. I really believed the people taking about it were just trying to “sell me” on something and I hate to be “sold.”

I’ve never been so happy to be wrong!

Every single morning, I take a drop of Copaiba and a drop of Frankincense under my tongue. It’s been so helpful to me. When I don’t take them, I feel a significant difference. So, I keep them out in view in my kitchen so I never forget to take them.


How Does Copaiba Work?

First of all, you may hear that Copaiba is a “new” oil, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This oil has been used for about a century in Brazil.

Copaiba is a cannabinoid, but not the type that can get you high. It’s a cannabinoid that interacts with CB2 receptors found mostly in our gut. These receptors actually have an effect on our nervous systems without providing a psychoactive side effect. Copaiba helps to soothe the nerves by interacting with these CB2 receptors.

Is Copaiba Like CBD Oil?

CBD oil is another wonderful oil that should be in everyone’s natural remedies cabinet. I plan to add it to mine soon. It is also a great alternative to help ease anxiety.

The differences:

While CBD oil will not get you high, it does come from hemp, which is from the Cannabis plant and there could be trace amounts of THC in the bloodstream.

CBD oil can hold a higher price tag than Copaiba and you take more per day than you do Copaiba. Ex. 1 drop Copaiba vs. 3-5 drops CBD. That said, CBD oil comes in a variety of flavors and Copaiba is well, just Copaiba.

If internal use of oils isn’t your thing, Copaiba has the added benefit of being able to be used topically, by massaging on temples, the feet, and back of the neck), and also being diffused for aromatic use. CBD oil is intended solely for internal use.


What Are The Benefits of Frankincense Oil?

Frankincense is my all-time favorite oil. I’ve often even joked that it’s my boyfriend oil. When I need to feel grounded, I grab good ol’ Frankie boy. I’ve been using this oil daily for four years and I’ll continue using it for the rest of my life.

This is an oil that has been used for thousands of years. It was prized so much during Biblical times that the wise men brought it to Mary and Joseph when Jesus was born.

Rich in Alpha-pinene, Frankincense is calming to the nerves.

Frankincense is also excellent for supporting proper liver function as well. This is great because in Ayurvedic medicine, our emotions are seated in our livers. When we are stressed, our livers are stressed.

Frankincense is also excellent for supporting the immune system and the brain, it’s excellent for the skin as well.


I am happy to have found relief for my anxiety with the oils and my lifestyle change. I think it’s so important that we reflect on our habits and try to figure out ways to improve our lives naturally. That said, your doctor is a valuable resource. If you feel anxious often, talk to your doctor about it. She may be able to help you.

If you have questions about essential oils, I’m happy to help you. I won’t pretend to know everything, but I’ll share what I do know and I’m also happy to share samples. Just reach out!

Xx

Resa