All Posts By Heather Wells

New Moms & Poker — An Oddly Perfect Match

Needless to say, new moms face a ton of challenges (maybe in the past year more than ever). First and foremost, there are newborn care and physical recovery to consider. Then there’s adjusting to more time at home, and quite possibly juggling work commitments after some time has passed. On top of all of these challenges though, a feeling of social isolation can often be one of the main difficulties for a new mom (again, even more so in the past year!).

To some extent this is just part of the equation when you have a new baby. There’s going to be a different dynamic with friends and other social contacts, at least for a little while, and you’ll be spending the bulk of your time at home with the baby and anyone else in your family. At the same time though, it’s wise to find ways to level out a little bit, and mitigate isolation in small ways where you can.

Different women come up with different solutions, but one surprising option I want to talk about here is online gaming — and in particular, poker. It’s a game people get into for all kinds of reasons, and one that actually offers a number of intriguing benefits for new moms. For anyone who may have a new child (or may be having one soon) and who’s looking for a potential outlet for socializing or entertainment, I thought I’d cover a few of those benefits.

Image of poker chips and cards - The Single Mom Blog

The Chance to Take a Beat

The most straightforward benefit of a poker hobby to a new mom is that it almost demands that one take a beat. Poker requires concentration, and while that doesn’t mean your brain has to be on overdrive to play, it does mean that you can only really get into a game if you sort of turn off your attention for everything else (except your newborn in this case, of course). Taking a bit of time to simply zone in on something specific — 15 minutes, an hour, or whatever you can spare — can be downright therapeutic during this time in your life. And poker sort of makes it happen naturally.

Calming Influence

This point relates closely to the previous one. But it is worth noting that studies of stress and gaming have indicated that if you find the right game to “settle you down,” it can have a legitimate calming influence. Now, this is in a sense a good reason to try lots of games! You never know what may work for you, whether it be Tetris on your phone or a FIFA console game. Poker stands out as an option well worth trying though, because of the aforementioned tendency it has to get you to zone in. This invites that calming influence that some people find in certain games, and it can help you to de-stress from time to time.

Social Time

Taking a beat and de-stressing can mitigate the effects of isolation (and general fatigue) when you’re caring for a newborn. But poker can also provide a direct social outlet if you have friends who will join you! While you may not find it easy to host people or go out for a meal or a drink just yet, playing poker online with friends is actually a simple prospect. You can choose a site, set up a room, and simply enjoy some virtual time with the people you most enjoy. It may not be quite the same as in-person socializing, but it can certainly be a refreshing boost when most of your time is spent with your new baby.

A Boost in Wellness

In another post here, the importance of focusing on wellness over weight loss was stressed, and it’s something new mothers would do well to keep in mind. While many are understandably focused on physical shape and the desire to return to a pre-pregnancy state of some kind, a more general focus on wellness often winds up being healthier. This goes beyond diet and exercise and has to do with managing stress, mood, and the anxieties of isolation as well. And here too — because of the points made above — poker can be beneficial. To be clear, we aren’t suggesting there are tangible health benefits involved. But a bit of time zoning in on a game, de-stressing, and possibly socializing can contribute to an overall effort to maintain personal wellness.

I’ll note again that different games will work for different moms. AND as single moms I know that money can often be tight so please be sure to only spend what you can afford to lose on any hobby or past time. The real idea here is to find something you can concentrate on during quick breaks, and ideally make it a game you can enjoy with some friends online. But for all the reasons above, poker can be a genuine comfort to a new mom juggling so much responsibility and so little time for friends or self-care.

 

Choosing to Be Happy

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“You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy”

I recently saw a video on the America's Got Talent Facebook page that really spoke to me. A young woman who goes by Nightbirde sang a beautiful song she wrote called “It's Ok” and in her interview after she performed she said those words. 

” You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” 

Right before she sang she mentioned that she had been fighting cancer and still had cancer in her body at the time of her audition. Then later after the performance she revealed that she had less than 2% chance of survival. Less than 2%! I thought to myself ‘this girl has the best outlook on life‘ one that I wish I had realized so much sooner in my life.

For so many years I struggled, feeling like my life was always going to be hard. I allowed the hard times and stresses of being a single mother dictate my happiness. It took me quite a few years to really understand that my outlook on my life was contributing to my unhappiness. 

I was creating a self fulfilling prophecy for myself. Telling myself that life sucked or was too hard MADE it suck and too hard. I was not looking at any of the good things that I had in my life. Only focusing on the bad. I didn't realize at the time that was keeping me in a constant state of unhappiness.

I finally realized that I had the ability to CHOOSE happiness. That I could focus on the good things in my life instead of all the negative. Dwelling on the hard times or bad things that had happened in my past kept me stuck in the past. Not looking forward. As single moms that can happen to the best of us.

We all have different stories and circumstances that have led to us being single mothers. And YES being a single mom can definitely be hard at times but we don't have to let those hard times make us hard. It can be very easy to allow the pain, hurts and anger from our past keep us in an unhappy state. 

Choosing happiness means you choose to keep good and positive people in your life as opposed to emotional vampires or toxic people. After all, how can you be happy if everyone else around you is miserable OR if they are sucking away your happiness? 

Do you find yourself always getting involved with people who do not treat you well? Are you sticking with friends who are always bringing drama into your life? Those types of people will bring the wrong kind of energy into your life.

The energy we project is what we tend to attract. So if you want to have a happier life with happier more positive people in it then you will have to choose happiness. 

Deciding to be Happy - Be the energy you want to attract

Too often we also dwell on the things that didn't go well in our lives. Instead of realizing that maybe those things needed to happen for us to get where we need to be in life. Whether you believe it divine intervention from God or the Universe sometimes those bad things were the best things that could have happened to us.

I know that getting fired from my job 13 years ago seemed like the worst thing that could have happened to me at the time. BUT it led to me starting my own business and THAT has been the best thing that ever happened for me. It allowed me the freedom to be at home with my kids, become financially stable and live a better life. 

If you find yourself still thinking about or dwelling on a break up from years ago or an argument that you had with your ex last week…you are keeping yourself in an unhappy state. Choosing to be happy means that you make a distinct choice to not allow negativity to rule your life. 

This and other changes helped me finally break out of that funk of unhappiness that I had found myself stuck in for so long. When bad things do happen, yes it does effect me but nothing like it used to. I am no longer as short tempered, no longer allowing small things to get to me and overall am so much happier as well as less stressed!

Things may not always go the way I plan or want BUT …

I won't wait until life isn't hard anymore before I will be happy.

How to Stop Passing Our Emotional Trauma on to Our Children

Let's face it, we all have baggage. The crap that we carry around with us from one experience to the next. Old wounds, hurts, emotional trauma, pain, loss, resentment, fears… it all follows us. Most of us. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not we are probably putting some of that on our children.

I recently interviewed Kerri Hummingbird best selling author, Soul Guide and host of the Soul Nectar Show. Her recent book “Love Is Fierce: Healing the Mother Wound” talks about how for thousands of years, mothers have been disempowered, shamed, belittled, and abused. As a result, many mothers have developed victim mentalities which result in their being unable to love fully, neglecting their loved ones, and even competing with their children for control and attention. A woman with the Mother Wound will experience an intense struggle not to pass it on to her children.

We touched on some of the trauma that many mothers face in their lives and how those can effect their parenting. Most people usually think of trauma as a physical thing, but there is also emotional trauma that people face. I truly believe that is more common than physical trauma. Being hurt emotionally, lied to, betrayed… these all cause emotional trauma.

Too often we allow our past trauma to effect our present.

Passing Our Emotional Trauma To Our Kids - Living in Fear

Maybe you had a hard relationship with your mother and that has led you to change how you parent your child. Did you grow up seeing your mother treated poorly? Were you in a relationship where you were treated badly yourself? So many of these things end up boiling over into how we parent our children. If we don't work to heal those traumas from our past sometimes we unknowingly put them onto our kids.

For me, watching my son fight for his life after his father hurt him. That caused severe emotional trauma that has stuck with me for years and years. I have allowed this trauma to effect how I parent. I became hyper-vigilant or what most would call over protective. That over protectiveness caused me to have issues co-parenting with my daughter's father and also caused issues with my daughter.

Kerri talked in our interview about how she had to spend a lot of time working on herself. She did a lot of deep spiritual work to find who she was at her core. She spent time focusing on her past stories and how they had effected her. Realizing that she was allowing stories of who she thought she had to be control her. Constantly being told that everything was her fault – and believing it!

She discovered that she was always trying to fix things by doing what everyone else wanted. She was a people pleaser. The problem with being a people pleaser is that everyone else is happy but you are miserable. Have you ever gone against your better judgement just to make others happy? Ignored your intuition and just gone along to try to keep the peace?

What Message Are We Sending Our Kids?

The biggest question that Kerri asked herself was – what message am I sending my kids? By ignoring her own emotional traumas and issues she was not living a good example for her kids. She was passing down trauma. By not living her truth and who she really was she wasn't showing up authentically in her life. When we do this it shows our kids that they should be doing the same.

Are you living your life the way you want your kids to see? Do you show them a life where their mom is living in a victim mentality? Or are you showing up like the badass you truly are? When there is conflict do your children see you manage it or run from it? Have your past traumas caused you to live your life as a person that doesn't seem true to you?

We are always telling our children to be true to themselves, be who they are. But do we always model that behavior for them? There are so many different issues that we struggle with in our lives. There is no easy fix for these things or the traumas that we have experienced. That is why it is so important to do the hard work to address them and learn how to wipe them clean.

If we are able to do that we will be able to show up as the best versions of ourselves for our kids.

How Small Changes Can Create Lasting Results

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How can making small changes help you reach your goals? Well too often we set goals for ourselves that we never reach. We may start out with all the best intentions but somewhere along the way we fall off track. Maybe we set too big of a goal for ourselves. Or maybe we just quit. But why does that happen?

More often than not the goals we set for ourselves require us to make changes. Often they are pretty big changes. Losing weight, quitting smoking, organizing our homes – these all require us to make changes. We start out gung ho, guns blazing with all the motivation in the world. Then something happens.

Maybe a cheat day turns into a cheat week. Or we just have a quick smoke on a stressful day, then break down and buy a pack. Either way we give up on those goals because the changes we made were too extreme for us to maintain. Which is where continuous improvement and the power of tiny gains comes into play.

I recently started reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and it has changed my perspective on my goals. Or at least on how I am trying to meet my goals. I realized that if I wanted to really see any lasting changes in my life I needed to go about it differently. The goals that I want to meet are pretty big.

  • Lose another 35 pounds
  • Grow my business to $100,000 minimum per year
  • Create a brand around my blog and podcast
  • Buy a new home for my family
  • Go on a $10,000 spa retreat (this one I REALLY want)

Some of these goals may seem crazy and honestly they are a bit out there. But I always say, if you're gonna dream – dream big. And that is part of the problem – these dreams are BIG and they require big changes from me.

The easiest of these goals is obviously the weight loss but as we all know that is still a big challenge for many. But after I read James' book I realized that small changes could help me reach this goal AND all the others. I finally understood that I was coming at these goals all wrong for me.

Trying to dive into HUGE dietary changes worked for a little while but I wasn't maintaining them. Long term I have found that I can't do a strict keto diet. It doesn't work for me because I can't maintain it. So instead I make small changes every day. I replace something unhealthy with something healthier for me. I find a healthier replacement for the chips that I love to eat!

Instead of trying to go to the gym every single day I do 25 abdominal exercises every day for a week. Then I do 30 the next and 40 the week after that. Small changes that over time are leading up to long term LASTING results for me. Because I am building new habits and subtracting bad ones. I still go to the gym but on days that I don't I am not beating myself up for it.

This mindset change has really helpful for me because when I make a mistake or take a step backwards – it is also small. I don't feel like I have completely failed and so it is easier to go right back to those small changes. And those small steps backwards do not end up wiping out all the progress that I have made – so I am not as discouraged when it happens.

Success is a series of small wins. Small changes can lead to lasting progress.

The power of tiny gains and small changes is amazing when you really think about it. If you get one percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you're done. No you don't see those dramatic results right away but let's be real – how often do those results last? I know that I lost a lot of weight on the keto diet and it was great. It definitely worked. But I also gained weight back once I stopped following it. Because I had not established the good habits I needed to maintain the weight loss.

The power of making small changes that I can maintain long term is where I am finding success and I highly recommend it.

Focus On Wellness Not Weight Loss

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

Why am I focusing on wellness instead of weight loss? Let me give you a little back story. After quitting smoking several years ago, I added on some extra pounds. Like 50 of them. It didn't help that I was sitting all day working from home. I was not motivated to really do much of anything other than what was absolutely necessary. Not realizing at that time I was suffering from depression.

Over the years I have tried many times to lose the weight. Trying many different diets and fitness programs. Many of them worked very well. The Keto diet was great for helping me lose almost 30 pounds. However, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo surgery I stopped Keto.

And as expected some of the weight came back. Not all of it but some. I am now on a mission to lose the 30 pounds left that I want to drop. But I have been reluctant to jump right back onto the keto deep end again. I have been dipping my toe into the pool but not taking the plunge.

What is stopping me???

I spent several days trying to figure out why I wasn't just diving right back in since it was so successful for me last time. After a bit I realized that while the keto diet worked and I really didn't mind it…my weight loss wasn't the biggest thing I wanted to focus on. Wellness was.

It would be great if I lost the weight but would it help me feel better all around? The answer was no. Wellness was something that I needed to start focusing on. Because wellness is something that helps you feel better all around. Not just losing weight but feeling good inside and out. Weight loss alone wasn't going to achieve that for me.

Don't get me wrong it is definitely part of it – but it isn't all there is for me. After spending a year recovering from surgery after surgery I needed more for myself. I realized that there was a bigger need than just fitting into a smaller pair of jeans. I wanted to feel more content. To feel like I was paying attention to my wellbeing not just the numbers on a scale.

So I decided that I needed a more wholistic approach to my wellness. Not only would I be feeding myself more healthy foods I would also feed my soul. I know that sounds really cheesy but it is truly what I was lacking. There was this feeling at my core that something was missing for me. I had a small voice that was calling out for more out of my life.

Focusing on Wellness and Wellbeing

Making the decision to focus on wellness made me take a look at the bigger picture of my happiness. It wasn't just looking better that was going to make me happy. I needed to FEEL better all around. Simply changing my diet wouldn't do that. Here are some things that I added to my wellness routine that have had some amazing results for me:

Focus on Wellness Not Weight Loss Pin Image
  1. I added daily meditation to my routine to help my focus and mental state.
  2. A daily practice of gratitude
  3. Walking for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week
  4. Taking daily vitamins – I started using Persona vitamins to help with specific things I was struggling with
  5. Getting more sleep – going to bed earlier and using sleep meditations to help me fall asleep faster
  6. Making healthier dietary choices – eating less processed foods and almost no sugar
  7. Committing random acts of kindness – buying a strangers coffee, giving a $20 to the man on the corner who is down on his luck etc.
  8. Donating my time to local charities

There are so many little things that I have changed to help with my overall wellness. These little things have made me feel better all around. No I may not be losing weight really quickly but that is ok. Slow progress is often lasting progress. I would rather feel good all over and let that help me lose the weight that I need. The best part is that BECAUSE I feel good all around I am not beating myself up about the weight.

Making Bad Decisions Out of Desperation

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Have you ever made a bad decision because you thought you had no other options?

I read an article the other day about a young woman who was arrested and charged with child endangerment. Sadly, there are often stories like this but this one really caught my attention.

Shaina Bell, a 24 year old mother of three was arrested in Ohio after leaving her children alone in a motel room. She left them alone while she went to work at her job a Little Caesars. She wasn't out partying or hanging out with friends. She was working.

We hear stories all the time of bad parents who do awful things to their children. Stories of abuse or abandonment – but this isn't one of those. This woman was working and made what was likely a very hard decision.

I am not condoning leaving young children alone and unsupervised. Yes, that part was dangerous and not a good choice. BUT the point is that this young woman had to feel that it was her ONLY choice. She made a bad decision out of desperation. And I don't fully blame her for what she did.

Good People sometimes make bad decisions

Child care is the biggest expense that single mothers have.

As single mothers the largest expense that we typically struggle with is the cost of child care. When I was looking at going back to a regular office job it was going to cost me double the amount I paid in rent to put my kids in day care. I don't know many single parents that can afford that on their own.

Luckily I was able to figure out how to start working from home but I was lucky. Not everyone is able to do that. Not everyone knows how to do that. Some people have family or friends that can help them but not everyone. I imagine this young mother struggled with the thought of leaving her kids alone.

There are many people who are saying awful things about her because of the decision she made. Many of them have never been faced with a circumstance where they would need to make such a decision. They are lucky. As single mothers we often have to struggle with decisions like these.

Do we pay the light bill or the water bill and hope one or the other doesn't get turned off. If we pay this bill with a check will it float long enough before we get paid or will it bounce? How can I make ground beef and macaroni noodles last for a week?

Making bad decisions because we feel like we have no other choice…

Sometimes the decisions we have to make are harder than that. Sometimes we feel like we have to make bad decisions because we just don't have any other options. Like this young mother in Ohio. Also the mother who was in the news for leaving her kids in the car while she went in for a job interview. There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories like this.

Not having childcare is one of our biggest challenges. It is too expensive for single parents. Hell, it is too expensive for married couples! But if we don't have the money for day care we don't have a spouse we can lean on. We can't decide to stay home while the other person works to avoid child care costs.

So more often than not we end up on government assistance programs to help us with those expenses. Then we end up trapped in those programs that are supposed to help us. We also will often be demonized and stereotyped as leaches or drains on the economy.

So like Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego tweeted – we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. If we don't take government assistance or can't get it – how do we work if we can't get child care? Well, we likely end up making a bad decision that we know isn't great. BUT we feel like it is the only thing we can do.

Before I started my own business I was fired from several jobs because I wasn't able to make it in to work. A sitter would not show up or one of my kids was really sick. Not all jobs or bosses are understanding. Some will fire you on the spot just for calling in.

So what are we supposed to do?

If we know that we will likely lose our jobs if we call in but we don't have a sitter? We are faced with a difficult decision. If we lose our jobs how long will it be before we can find another? How will we pay our bills? Put food on the table? Especially right now in the midst of COVID – we are lucky to even HAVE the job we do.

So this young mother made a bad decision because she likely felt it was the only one she had. Too many of us know what that is like. Have you ever had to make a bad decision because you didn't have any other options?

*There is a silver lining to her story though. A GoFundMe account was started up to help her find a place to live so she didn't have to live in a motel anymore. And hopefully it will help her secure some child care for the next little while. I hope it is enough to put her family on the path to self sufficiency.

Be The Hero Of Your Own Story

Be the hero of your own story instead of waiting for someone to come and save you.

Why am I talking about being your own hero? Well, yesterday was Valentines Day. An arbitrary day that someone somewhere decided should be a romantic holiday. A day that often many single people dread. For single people, especially women, this day can sometimes be very hard.

Why is that though? It seems as though there is a stereotype that has prevailed over the years that if you are single on Valentines Day you should be sad. Or depressed. Simply because you don't have someone to buy you flowers or candy.

But we DO have someone who can buy us flowers and candy. We can buy them our damn selves.

‘But if I buy myself flowers that is just pathetic isn't it?'

Um, no. If you like flowers and they make you happy why wouldn't you buy some for yourself? Why would we let an antiquated stereotype keep us from doing something that makes us happy? Who decided that if we don't have a man that we are sad and helpless?

This is exactly why I say be the hero of your own story.

There is this picture that has been painted about single moms. That we are lonely, sad and looking for someone to come save us. To rescue us or make our lives better for us. Over the years I have had people think that of me – but sometimes we paint that picture of ourselves. We buy into the story.

Stop doing that!

I don't need someone to save me…

Several years ago I had an ex tell me that I was trying to trap him. That I was looking for a man to take care of me and my kids. Um – NO! I have never needed anyone to be my hero or come to my rescue. I save my damn self thank you very much!

Yes, there are many times I struggle. Months that seem like life is just trying to beat me down. But I always get back up. All by myself. I don't need a man to fix my life because I am my own hero. So are you!

Every single mother that I have met has had this same experience. Someone telling them that they are just looking for a man to step in and help them. A daddy for their kids or a man to bring in money to pay their bills. I'm sorry but I personally find that extremely insulting.

All the single mothers that I know are strong and proud women. We work hard to take care of our families all on our own. And we may be tired and worn down but that doesn't mean we are lazy. In fact we are powerful! More powerful than we often give ourselves credit for.

You are a super hero!

Be the Hero in Your Own Story: Celebrate Being Single - The Single Mom Blog

As a single mom you have so much more power than you know. You do the job of two people and sometimes even more than that. So why would you believe that you NEED anyone to save you? You are a freakin' rock star all by yourself.

You may WANT someone to be a part of your life. Someone to be there with you, to share your life. But you don't NEED them. That is something that a lot of people don't understand. In fact, you may be struggling with that yourself.

You may not feel like you are whole without a significant other. But you are. Being your own hero means that you KNOW that you are good all by yourself. That you can run your life just fine if you need to. And that if you want a man in your life it is not because you need them.

You don't need to be rescued or saved.

You buy yourself flowers if you want to. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

True Colors & Red Flags – Why It is Important Not To Ignore Them

Do you ignore people's red flags? Are you a fixer?

If someone shows you their true colors, don't try to repaint them.

This statement really hits home for me. I realized years ago, after my last relationship, that I am a fixer.

I think about people in terms of who they could be. Completely ignoring who they really are a lot of times. Looking past the red flags to only try to see the good things. I try to repaint them. Seeing the potential while ignoring the bad things about them.

I realized that I have done this in many of the relationships in my life. In my romantic relationships, friendships and even with family. There are glaring red flags telling me that things are not great. That a person is not good for me. That I should run, not walk, the other direction.

Red flags can show up in any kind of relationship

For example, my ex-best friend was doing drugs and ended up heavily addicted. Also a boyfriend who was an alcoholic and verbally abusive when drunk. Another boyfriend who was also an alcoholic and occasionally used drugs. I had them all and all of them were bad for me! But I stuck around, tried to see the good in them and completely ignored the red flags.

It took me years to fully realize that I was doing this. I realized that it also changed me having these people in my life. It put me into situations I should never have been in. It caused me emotional pain. I ended up in financial trouble because of some of these people. Guess what – not one of them cared how they had hurt me either.

I finally understood after years of pain and struggles that I needed to start paying attention to those red flags. I needed to stop trying to paint over people's true colors.

The Single Mom Blog - Red Flags. When someone shows you their true colors, don't try to repaint them.

What are some of the red flags to watch out for?

If you are a fixer too here are some red flags that you should be looking for in your relationships. If you notice any of these things in your partner, friends or even family members – start asking yourself if you are trying to fix them.

  • Do you find yourself always justifying their bad behavior? Are you always making excuses for the way they are acting? ‘He's just had a bad day that's why he is being so mean.' ‘ He had a really bad childhood, so he lashes out sometimes.' Yes every one can have a bad day and lash out – but if it happens often ask yourself if you are making excuses for them too often. Everyone has baggage and issues – BUT that doesn't mean you have to bear the brunt of it. This one is a huge red flag!
  • Do they not respect your boundaries? If you tell them no you don't want to do something, do they listen? Do they respect your wishes or are they constantly pushing past them? Often women will feel bullied by their own partners, friends or family members. This isn't ok and people who care about you shouldn't make you feel that way.
  • Do they have massive entitlement? Meaning they expect you to do more for them than they do for you. Would your friend expect you to come get them if they were stranded but can't be bothered if you are the one who needs help? Are you always their shoulder to cry on but are never there for you? A healthy relationship needs an equal amount of give and take.
  • Do they dismiss how you feel or put you down? When you try to talk to them about important issues do you get brushed aside all the time? Are they always making you feel like your feelings aren't important? Or worse do they say mean or hurtful things that make you feel small or insignificant? People who truly care about you won't always make you feel bad.

One of the most important things to remember is to listen to your gut. Your intuition will likely help you identify those red flags. You have probably heard your inner voice telling you these things before but you ignored them. Stop doing that. Stop trying to paint over people's true colors.

You will end up being happier in the long run because you will find people who are good for you. People who complement you and who don't need ‘fixing'.

How To Get Our Of Your Own Way

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Stopping Self Sabotage So You Can Meet Your Goals

Self sabotage – you may be asking yourself what does that mean? Have you ever heard the quote, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I know that may sound odd but quite often we can be our own worst enemy. We set goals for ourselves or decide to make changes in our lives – and then we get in our own damn way.

Think about it. You may want to blame life or your set of circumstances but if you are being honest with yourself – have you also been a factor? I am not trying to blame or shame with this post. However, real change has to come with some tough love sometimes. So ask yourself, “Have I gotten in my own dang way? Do I sometimes self sabotage?”

If you are being truly honest with yourself – you likely have a few times. That isn't to say that life can come kick your butt sometimes but we can do it to ourselves as well. But as they say, knowing is half the battle! So here are some tips to help you stop sabotaging yourself.

1. Let go of the past.

Mistakes from the past don’t mean that you’re doomed to failure in the future. The past should be used as educational material, not as a predictor of the future. Leave your past in the past and create the future you desire.

2. Avoid talking to yourself unless you’re going to say something nice.

Self love and self talk - are you sabotaging yourself? Self sabotage.

You spend too much time saying negative things to yourself. Eventually, you begin to believe them. Such negative input gives you an incorrect opinion of yourself and your capabilities. Ensure that your self-talk is supportive and positive.

3. Notice your habits that sabotage your success

Think about what you want to be successful at and notice your habits that stand in your way. For example, if you want to lose weight, but you eat a bag of chips every time you're stressed, that habit is sabotaging your success.

Make a list of all the habits that sabotage your success. Write down all the ways in which those habits inhibit your success. What is the cost of each of those habits? Being aware of the damage these habits cause can make it easier to change them.

4. Define your fear

Self sabotage - don't let your fear  keep you from success

All self-sabotage is rooted in fear. What exactly are you afraid of? Are you afraid of embarrassing yourself? Maybe you are afraid of finding out that you're not capable? Are you afraid of success? Are you afraid of how people will view you?

Understand the basic fear that is causing you to sabotage yourself. Unless you can either get over that fear or remove it, you'll continue to get in your own way.

5. Know your ceiling

Notice how far you can go before you begin sabotaging yourself. For example, perhaps you're stuck at a particular income level. What income level do you get stuck at? If you're trying to lose weight, at what point do you begin sabotaging yourself? We all have a ceiling for each part of our lives. Understand yours and seek to understand why.

6. Identify and change your beliefs

What are the beliefs that stand in your way? For example, do you believe that you're naturally a chubby person that can never get below a certain weight? Do you believe that you can never be a successful writer because you failed high school English?

Look at all of your beliefs related to the part of your life you want to be more successful in. Which of those beliefs are getting in your way?

7. Notice the people that get in your way

Sometimes, we allow people into our lives that don't really want the best for us. You'll find that few people are truly interested in seeing you live up to your full potential.

Avoid believing that it’s acceptable to allow someone to get in your way. If they choose to be an obstacle, consider removing them from your life.

The good news is that easier to control yourself than it is to control others or circumstances outside of yourself. Since you are the source of your challenges, you also have the power to eliminate them. Never underestimate how much you’re standing in your own way!




Can Your Life Change If You Change Your Thoughts?

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Can changing your thoughts actually help you change your life? I know it sounds overly simple and a bit corny… but what if it were true?

Have you ever heard the saying “If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always got”? Think about it, when you always follow the same recipe you get the same results. Your thoughts are like that as well.

How often have to told yourself that things are always going to be hard? Do you talk yourself out of things because ‘that could never happen‘. Have you given up on yourself before you even started something? Are you stuck in a pattern of negativity?

For years I told myself that because I was a single mother I was always going to struggle. That was simply going to be my lot in life. Money was always going to be tight, I was always going to be stressed out…things were just never going to get better.

I TOLD myself that so much that I made it true for myself. My thoughts effected my perspective and my perspective influenced my habits. My habits effected my life and how I felt about my life. It wasn't until I decided to change my thoughts that my life turned around.

Outer changes in your life are the result of changes in behavior.

Changes in our behavior are usually because of inner changes – changing our thoughts. When your thoughts change or your beliefs change then you behavior typically changes. For example:

Maybe you decide one day that you want to serve your community more. Get out of the house and do something fulfilling. You meet new people while volunteering, maybe you start dating a new person or possibly get a job that you otherwise would never have known about.

Sometimes the simple thought of doing something new can be enough to push our lives in a completely different direction. Simply changing your thoughts to believe that you can have something different or new.

Examine your current beliefs

Are your current thoughts or beliefs holding you back? Do you believe things that simply aren't true? Are you telling yourself stories that you have made up? Like when I told myself that because I am a single mother I have to struggle. Who says? Where is that rule written?

Our beliefs are like our software – yes I am a bit of a nerd so I am going to use computer terminology for a second..

If your software is telling you error error error or it is faulty then maybe you need to reboot or upgrade that software. You can't operate efficiently on broken software – so change your thoughts.

Are your thoughts and beliefs serving you? Are they helping you reach your goals or dreams – or do they hold you back? Do they keep you from even trying? Ask yourself this question…

If your good friend came to you with their dream or goal would you tell them that they couldn't do it? Would you crush their dream by telling them they weren't good enough, capable enough or qualified enough? No – I didn't think so.

Are you as aggressive with your goals as you are with your reasons behind why you can't reach them?

Inner changes will change your habits…

Once you change your thoughts you will start to change your habits. When you have decided that your goals are attainable you will start working more toward reaching them. Because you are no longer allowing yourself to talk yourself out of them.

For example, if you have changed your perspective on why you want to stop smoking…

I need to quit because my children need their mother around and healthy

– instead of –

I can't quit because my children stress me out and smoking is my only stress reliever

Change your thoughts and change your life - The Single Mom Blog

Then you may find yourself not even feeling that you need a cigarette the way you once thought you did. Or maybe you change your thoughts on why you want to lose weight – so you go to the gym or start taking walks.

When the things you do each day are altered, even if it is small at first – your results will be altered as well.

Envision the life you want to lead…

If you only focus on the life you have then you will always get more of the same. Take some time each day to think about the life you WANT. The goals that you have and what your life looks like when those have been met.

Don't dwell in things that are not the way you want them because it only brings you down. Be specific about the life you are creating for yourself. Have you bought your very own home? What does that house look like? Where is it?

What type of work are you doing? How does that work make you feel? Now that you have met your goals how do you feel?

When you do this enough this life should feel possible to you, it should feel normal and completely attainable. When you do this you will keep changing your habits to help you create this life. You have decided that you can accomplish this so you will no longer get in your own way.

Monitor your thinking…

This type of change takes work. If you are like me you have spent a really long time telling yourself you can't do things. You need to stay on top of your thoughts because negative thoughts will always bring negative results. Once you start telling yourself you can't do it you will start to believe it. You will give up.

How can you have a positive life and make positive changes for yourself if you are being negative? You can't. So every time you find yourself having a negative thought change it to a positive one. When things don't go exactly as you wanted them to just tell yourself “plot twist” and try to find a positive spin.

You are going to make mistakes, you will fall down sometimes – because we are human and that is life. The important thing is that you don't let those times stop you. If there is a lesson in the mistake, take that lesson and let it help you grow and keep moving forward.

This will be something that you have to work on all the time. Some days will be harder than others. It is an ongoing process but it is totally worth it because it can be life changing.

What Does It Take To Be a Good Mom?

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Recently I saw a meme posted on Facebook by a lovely woman named Amy Ahlers. (Seriously, if you don't know her you should totally check her out here). I have known her for years and she is truly one of the most loving women I know.

She posted this image when I really needed to hear what it was saying.

Want to be a good mom? What it takes to be a good mom is likely not what you think.

That last part is what REALLY resonated with me because lately I have been questioning whether or not I am a good mom. There have have been some pretty big changes in my home lately and I have been struggling.

Raising a Teenage Girl is HARD…

Raising a teenage daughter is so different than raising my boys was. There have been struggles and challenges that I never expected. Things that I simply wasn't prepared for.

To be perfectly honest, I feel completely ill equipped to raise a teenage girl. Growing up I was a tom boy and was never really a ‘girly' girl. I don't always do well with overly emotional responses. Really didn't even like boys until I got into high school. (I saw them as friends not ‘boyfriend' material).

Sometimes I worry that I don't always know how to relate to my daughter at this age. I don't always feel like I am equipped to give her good advice. I struggle to relate to her at times and because of that we have been arguing more lately. Which is yet another reason for me to feel like I am not a good mom.

I mean, shouldn't I just KNOW how to do this?

Recently she decided that she wanted to go from our week on week off schedule to living mostly with her dad. After a lot of discussion we agreed to make the change. This has been REALLY hard for me. Even though she feels that this is better for her right now, I don't fully agree.

However, I am willing to try this because more than anything I want her to be ok. I know that there are likely many different reasons for her wanting this change. Her father is a dynamically different parent than I am. I am more over protective and strict in many ways than he is. He doesn't ‘nag' her about her grades and getting her schoolwork done like I do – and other various things she listed off.

If I am being honest, I think that the core reason though is that she has craved a better relationship with her father. Her whole life she has been desperate for it and now he is able to provide that. So she wants as much of that as possible.

Trying not to take it personally…

When my daughter told me she wanted to live mostly at her dad's house I took it very hard. I took it personally. I was a bad mom. That had to be the reason, because if I was a good mom she wouldn't want to leave.

Beating myself up for days, running the emotional scale from devastated to hurt to angry with everything in between. I was mad at myself…upset with myself…feeling like I wasn't a good mom.

After a little bit of time I came to the realization that I didn't do anything wrong specifically. I was still being the parent I had always been but she was developing into her own person. She and I have to figure out how our relationship is going to change – because she is growing up.

I had to realize that none of this was personal. She wasn't punishing me. I wasn't a bad mom. We just were struggling. I needed to give myself some grace. Which brings me back to the meme…

One of the outcomes of her living mostly with her dad is that now he becomes the primary care giver. So after 13 years of doing all the scheduling, being the primary source of transportation and staying on top of her grades – I now pass the baton to him. All those responsibilities now fall on him to manage.

This means that my life is a lot different than it has been for the last 13 years. All this time I have scheduled my life around my children. Since my boys are technically adults now, for the past 3 years it has been mostly around her. Now, without her here as much, I am able to do the things I may have been neglecting.

It is ok to do things for ourselves…

Remembering that it is ok to do things for ourselves – it is hard sometimes. Sometimes that means setting new boundaries and saying ‘no' when you used to just say yes. It can be hard and uncomfortable sometimes. For 13 years I have been the ‘do it all' parent. I had to tell myself that it was ok for me now plan my life around NOT being that parent anymore.

It is ok for me to expect her dad and step-mother to now step into that role because that is what the primary care giver does. That is the role they have taken on and expecting them to do that is not mean or petty – that is just the reality of that role.

Now I am learning how to live in this new reality where my daughter isn't a primary part of it. I am working on remembering how to do things for myself that I need to. Things that help me be ok – even though nothing about this feels ok right now.

As moms we often struggle to do things that we need to do – or WANT to do for ourselves. We worry how it will look to others, or if it is the right decision for our family – even if it right for US. How often have to done something for yourself and then felt guilty afterward? Did you feel like you weren't being a good mom?

It is ok for us to do the things we need to do for our well being. You are still a good mother if you find fulfillment outside of being a mom. Doing things that make you happy without your kids doesn't make you a bad mom.

Want to go back to work? – Do it if you are able to.

Want to start painting? – Girl PAINT!

Do you need to take medication to help with depression? – Please DEFINITELY talk to your doctor and do that if you need to. There is NO reason to feel bad about that!

You were a person before you had children and it is ok to be something more than mom.

You were a person before you had children and it is ok to be something more than mom. It is ok to do what you need to do to be ok. You will still be a good mom even if you admit that you aren't actually Wonder Woman and need some help.

Ultimately my daughter wanted this change because she felt she needed this for her to be ok – and that is important.

Finding and doing the things I need to do to be ok with this change is important too.

Breast Cancer Journey Part 2 – My Double Mastectomy

If you have been following my blog and podcast you know that in November of 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After various appointments and tests my doctor told me that she recommended I get a mastectomy.

There are some things you don't think about until you're told they're going to be taken away.

I was diagnosed with DCIS which is basically cancer cells in the ducts of your breast. The area that had those cells was pretty substantial which is why my doc recommended the mastectomy. You see, I have never been what you would call ‘well endowed'. So simply having a lumpectomy wasn't really going to work.

It would have been disfiguring. So the mastectomy was a better option aesthetically because I could get reconstruction.

So then why would I choose a DOUBLE mastectomy? If I only had cancer in one breast why have both removed?

Female doctor delivering bad news, The Single Mom Blog - My Double Mastectomy

Why choose a DOUBLE mastectomy?

I will be honest with you, hearing that I had cancer was scary. Hearing that I should have a mastectomy was traumatic. At first.

As I mentioned before I was not a big chested girl. Think pointy pancakes more than melons. And I was totally fine with that. I never wore a bra, I didn't care that they weren't big. Honestly, they were more of a nuisance to me than anything else.

Until I was told that I would need to lose one. Then they became more for some reason. Hearing that I would need to have a mastectomy made me feel something I had never experienced.

I felt like I was losing something that made me a woman. It sounds ridiculous to me even as I type it out, but that is truly how I felt.

Then immediately after hearing that my doctor asked me about the possibility of having a double mastectomy.

WHAT?!?! You want to take both of them?!?!

I almost couldn't process that. I didn't understand why she would even ask me that!

Then she started talking with me about a lot of other options and the various things I could do if I didn't do a mastectomy. A lumpectomy (which would be disfiguring), radiation treatments which had their own side effects.

Female surgeon over patient. The Single Mom Blog - My Double Mastectomy

I would rather change the way I look than worry about dying.

Ultimately after hearing all of the options I did decide on the double mastectomy and reconstruction. I did so for several reasons:

  1. There was no guarantee that a lumpectomy would get all the cancer cells and I would possibly be in the same situation in the future.
  2. I didn't want to be disfigured. I know that my breasts weren't my pride and joy BUT I didn't want them to look any wonkier than they already did.
  3. If I only did one and got the reconstruction I wouldn't match. (They don't make implants in saggy ‘I've had three kids' pointy pancake size.)
  4.  And the BIGGEST reason – I didn't want to have to worry about doing this all over again on the other side in 6 month or a year or whenever.

As a single mom I need to have the best solution with the best possible outcome and the least amount of down time. Having a double mastectomy was that option.

If you're faced with having a mastectomy, don't think you're going to come back after a week or 2. It will kick your ass.

Please be sure to listen to the podcast where I go into more detail about the surgery and recovery because it is really too much to write here.

BUT I will tell you this – if you are faced with having a mastectomy make sure you prepare yourself. Not just for the physical aspects of it but the practical ones. For some reason I thought that I would be all better and back to normal after a couple weeks.

Told my clients and friends that it was no big deal and I would be back at it in no time. NO! This is major surgery, I am not sure why I thought it wasn't. It took me months to get back to even HALF speed. So give yourself some grace, make sure you have help and here are a few other tips to help you.

  1. Buy comfortable FRONT closing sports bras. Trust me you will want out of the grandma bras as soon as your doctor tells you that you can. I got these and loved them AND still use them.
  2. Before your surgery put anything you will be needing – dishes, clothes, toiletries etc at mid level. You won't be able to lift your arms for a while.
  3. Make sure you have body cleansing wipes and dry shampoo – you will not be able to shower for a while if you have drains put in. (PS. That first shower after you have been cleared to take one is GLORIOUS)
  4. Get a bunch of front button up shirts – I got a ton of them from good will in the men's section. Again, you won't be able to lift your arms to change your shirt so button ups will be a life saver.
  5. REST. It takes longer to heal if you don't rest and let your body do the work it needs.

Your body is putting in a lot of energy to heal. It doesn't seem like it, but when you start doing other things, it makes you really tired.

 

Also, remember that even though you had to go through this, the only thing you lost is the cancer.

You have not lost your womanhood. You are still feminine. You are still YOU!

And if you get reconstruction like I did, you may even end up with better boobs than when you started. I sure did.

Above all, remember that you are doing what you need to survive and keep living. Our bodies don't make us who we are. I lost cancer. Other than that, I haven't lost anything. I'm still me.

*This post may contain affiliate links to products or services that I recommend. I do receive compensation for products ordered, however that does not reflect the price you pay for the items.

Overcoming Overwhelm: Brain Dump and Prioritize

In our last podcast episode we spoke with Isitri Modak about ways to help you regroup when you are overwhelmed. If you haven't had a chance to listen to that episode you can find it here. In this podcast episode we will talk about how to prioritize.

How a brain dump and prioritization can help eliminate overwhelm:

In the last podcast episode we talked about how you can use your breathing to help calm yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Being able to take just a moment to breath can bring you back to a calmer state where you are able to function again.

Ok, that's great but how do we keep ourselves from ever getting to that overwhelmed state to begin with?

This is what we are covering in this episode. How can you prioritize your life in a way that helps you be less stressed and more productive?

Overwhelmed - Brain dump and prioritize

How can you prioritize to reduce your stress?

I know that I almost always feel like I have too much to do. EVERYTHING to do. I am sure there are days you feel like that too right?

Wouldn't it be nice if there were 5 of me to be able to get all of this stuff done? Well, unfortunately that just isn't possible. So how do you handle life when a million things need to be done?

You prioritize. I know it sounds over simplistic – BUT it truly can be a life saver. Now, when I say prioritize that doesn't mean just make a to do list and check stuff off. (Because I am sure you have all tried that and it doesn't always work). I know I have made plenty of lists that have never even gotten ONE thing checked off.

So when I say prioritize here is what I mean. Start with a brain dump – write out everything that you can think of that needs done. It doesn't matter how big or small, just write it down. By the way, I suggest doing this on paper not on any electronic device.

Why? Because when we are on our phones or computers it is WAY to easy to be distracted. I have often started working on something on my computer, stop for a moment to check my email – and then the next thing I know an hour has gone by.

Learn to Say No - Prioritize your life

Use the matrix to help you prioritize…

So – on paper – write down all your ‘to do' items. THEN you are going to prioritize them using the mindful matrix below.

In the podcast we break this down in more detail but the basic concept of this is:

  1. Go through your list and start prioritizing the items as urgent, non-urgent, important and not important
  2. Put them in the various boxes in the matrix
    1. The items that are urgent and important are your ‘to do' items – things that must get done and in a timely manner
    2. The items that are important but not urgent – you need to decide if they can wait until later or do they really need to be done at all
    3. Items that are urgent but not important – can you delegate those to someone else? Like your kids.
    4. Things that are not important and non-urgent – get rid of them. You don't need to do them..

We go over more examples of this in the podcast but here is a basic scenario. The dirty dishes are urgent because they need to be washed – but it is not important for YOU to necessarily be the one to do them. So can your kids take over that task from you?

Here is another example of prioritization:

You have been asked to volunteer to bake cookies for your child's school but you already have a lot on your plate. In the matrix where does that fall for you? Will the school be ok if you don't bake the cookies? How urgent and important to YOU is this task?

If it falls under non-urgent and non important – then you say no. And no is a complete sentence. You don't have to explain yourself or make excuses. You can simply say no, I am not able to do that this time.

Prioritizing isn't simply putting things down on a list to check off. It is also taking a moment to decide what is most important to you and what actually requires YOU to be the one to do it.

Remember, if you are overwhelmed and stressed out then you are no good to anyone. You will burn out eventually and you are too important for that to happen.

Try this method and see if it helps you start prioritizing the things in your life and helps you be more productive. And hopefully less stressed out!

** In the podcast ‘Ish' also mentions her upcoming event on October 5th-9th. This is a FREE virtual event for moms so if you would like to experience calmer and more productive days you can register here!**

*This post may contain affiliate links to products or services that I recommend. I do receive compensation for products ordered, however that does not reflect the price you pay for the items.

Overwhelmed? – This Quick Trick Can Help

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There are any number of things that can cause a mother to become overwhelmed. For a single mother there are even more! In this weeks podcast we cover the state of overwhelm and an easy way to help you get past it.

Isitri “Ish” Modak helps moms overcome overwhelm…

As single mothers it can often seem like we have a million things going on at once. Quite often I have found myself so overwhelmed that I am not even able to function. The feeling that I can't take even ONE. MORE. THING.

I remember a day when everything seemed to collapse on top of me at once and I sat down on the floor of the kitchen and bawled. My body felt like it was under attack. My brain couldn't process anything. I felt frozen.

Have you ever felt like that? Felt like you couldn't do even the smallest thing because you were so overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed woman on the floor of her room

Try this quick trick to help you reset

During our interview with “Ish” Modak we talk about a quick way that you can use when you become overwhelmed.

When you find yourself becoming overly stressed or unable to stop the thoughts running through your head this one trick can help. When you are overwhelmed, your body immediately goes into a fight or flight status. You may feel like you are under attack – at least that is how your brain may be interpreting it.

 

Listen to this weeks podcast above to hear the easy breathing technique that you use anytime you feel like you are overwhelmed.

Giving your body and brain a moment to stop and reset. It may seem simplistic but it REALLY DOES WORK.

Be sure to keep an eye out for part 2 of our interview where we discuss another way you can prevent overwhelm.

Also be sure to follow “Ish” on her social media platforms:

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mindfulworkingmom/?ref=share

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ishmodakmd

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ishmodak/

Racism & White Privilege

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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I have honestly been struggling to decide whether to write a post about the current events going on in this country. Mainly because I am not certain if anything I say could possibly be sufficient. I also worry that I may say the wrong thing. Racism is such a difficult subject and one that is so deeply personal for so many.

However, one of the quotes that has always stuck with me is one from Sir Edmund Burrows. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So I must speak my truth and I know I must speak up because silence helps feed the hate.

After yet another unarmed black man was killed by a police officer – blatantly murdered for all the world to see – our country is in crisis. Though if we are being honest, it has been in crisis for a long time. The racism so deeply embedded into our culture has started to slither its way back out from under the rocks it hid under. Though, I know for many it wasn’t hidden. It was never hidden.

Artists honor George Floyd - The Single Mom Blog - Racism

I used to think that racism was going away. That it was getting better. It had to be right? I mean, we had to be progressing as a society right? I know that there are still groups out there like the KKK and white supremacists – but they aren't that pervasive. Right?

I knew that there were still instances of racism in the world – but I never thought that it was still this bad. I saw things as hidden or subtle – because for ME, as a white person, they were. They aren't hidden and they aren't subtle to the people of color who have to deal with it every day.

Taking a hard look at myself…

Part of my process has been to look hard at myself and back through my life. Have I done or said things that were possibly racist – sadly, if I am being honest – yes. When I was kid and stupid – I told jokes that I think back on now and cringe. I said things back then that I know NOW I would never say.

And in this process, I have had to figure out why or where I would have even got the idea that these things were ok.

In retrospect, I know that I have had people in my family who had racist beliefs. I remember my grandfather having a HUGE issue with my mother dating and later marrying a black man. Even though he was himself married to a Japanese woman. Hypocrite much?

Apparently it was only black people that weren't ok for him. (As time went by he ended up loving my step-father which gives me hope that everyone can change.)

In fact, my grandmother (by marriage on my father’s side and a very “religious” woman) also had an issue with that marriage. She called my dad – my mother’s EX-HUSBAND – to express her ‘concern’ about my mom’s pending nuptials. Mind you, my parents had been divorced for 13 years at this point. She was worried about how my mother marrying a black man would affect me – and ‘what was he going to do about it’. To which my father responded, “Not a damn thing. She is happy and I am happy for her.” Then he hung up on her.

Clearly, I had some people in my life who influenced me without me really understanding that was how they felt. But I never thought it was blatant racism, I called it ignorance. I honestly thought that they were just old fashioned and only old people thought that way. That is just how THEY grew up – that is how I excused it.

Interracial wedding hands - The Single Mom Blog - Racism

Racism & hatred are taught – but so is love & acceptance…

Thankfully, I also had loving and accepting people in my life who helped guide me more that the others did. As I grew up and matured, I began to recognize how bigoted some members of my family really were. I believe that they helped me become a better person. Still I know that there is always more for me to do.

I also fully understand that I approach everything going on right now from a place of privilege that being white has afforded me. So, I can only try my best to understand and support those I know and love who are black and hurting right now. I can only try to take a good look at myself and recognize if and where I need to change and do better. To also be a voice among the many who need to stand up and say NO MORE.

My White Privilege…

I know that I will never be able to fully understand. I will not ever really know what it is like to be viewed as ‘less than’ by someone else simply because of my skin color. I won’t ever know what it is like to feel like I have to change my natural hair simply to ‘conform to company standards’. Never have I been asked to wear ‘less ethnic clothing or earrings’. I will not ever experience feeling that who I am naturally, in my own skin, simply is not accepted.

I will likely never be targeted or singled out because I look ‘suspicious’ in a fancy department store. Nor will I get pulled over because the officer thinks my car is too nice for me to be driving. Or get the police called on me for sitting in a Starbucks waiting for a friend. I will never fear for my life when an officer walks up to me.

I will never experience racism and the kind of hatred that so many black people do. I know that.

Black Lives Matter Sign - The Single Mom Blog - Racism

Black Lives Matter

I don’t like that this is how some people have to experience life. I can’t imagine it. But they do. Every day this is their reality and it is wrong.

I cannot imagine the deep level of pain that the black community must carry around. I know that right now that pain is manifesting in protests across the nation. I know that there are many people protesting peacefully but I also know that there is a powder keg out there. Anger, sadness, frustration, fear, rage … all rolled up and just waiting to explode. And in some cases, it has.

I am not here to defend looters or destruction of property. As a business owner I know how hard this is going to be on many of those small businesses. I know that many of them may not recover. I don’t believe that any of these protests should end in violence. But this is a volatile situation – and people are fed up. And they have a right to be. So, while I don’t condone or defend the rioting – I can understand why it is happening.

Change must happen, racism can not be allowed to endure – our country can’t stay fractured like this and survive. Too often I hear people say “All lives matter” when they hear someone say black lives matter. And yes, I personally believe all lives do matter – but unfortunately not everyone feels that way. Not everyone is treated like THEIR life matters. And that is the problem. That is what needs to change.

And until that happens, we can’t really say that all lives matter – because to some, they don’t.

So, my pledge is to do whatever is needed for me to do. I will cast my vote to remove those in power who are fanning the flames of inequality and racism. I will use my voice to advocate for change. I will call out racism when I see it. I will not be silent unless my silence is what is needed. I will ask questions and I will learn. I will be open to change. I will help when and where I can.

I will listen.

[One of the MOST important ways to bring about change is to VOTE! If you are not registered to vote, do so now! Your voice matters so make sure it is heard! Click here to register!)

Here are some other recent posts you may be interested in:

*This post may contain affiliate links to products or services that I recommend. I do receive compensation for products ordered, however that does not reflect the price you pay for the items.

My Breast Cancer Journey – Part 1

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I Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Yep, breast cancer – scary ass stuff and I decided that I wanted to share that journey with you. The main reason is to stress to you the importance of getting mammograms!!!!

If you have followed my blog and podcast for a while you know that I have not put up anything new for almost a year. There were several reasons for that:

  1. It became something that he who shall not be named started using against me. Using it as a dig, a way to try and insult me. As a way to try and manipulate me. I realize now that I allowed him to make me stop doing something I like to do. I won’t be doing that again.
  2. Life was – complicated to put it nicely. My beautiful daughter had a lot of emotional things happen in her life. So helping her pushed everything else to the back of the line.
  3. My business started really getting busy and that meant less time for the blog.
  4. And then in November of 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I have been slowly putting out some more generic content, nothing really personal about me. So I decided that it was time for me to write about it.

You should be getting regular mammograms now.

My doctor told me during my annual physical that I should be getting regular mammograms now that I am in my 40s. UGH!!!  So with a little bit of dread I scheduled myself for my first ever mammogram. I was definitely not looking forward to it. I have heard that it is painful or at least really uncomfortable.

And I am not what you would call ‘well endowed’, so there isn’t a lot to really work with in that area. BUT I went and it WAS uncomfortable but not nearly as bad as I had imagined. I left the appointment and really didn’t think any more about it – I certainly wasn’t thinking about cancer.

Several days later I got the call from the doctor saying that they would like for me to come back in. That there was an area in my right breast that they wanted to take a closer look at. They told me not to freak out that it was pretty common.

I freaked out anyway.

I couldn’t help it. I posted on Facebook about it and my friends and family all told me it wasn’t anything to worry about. Dense breast tissue. Spots on the images. There were a number of things they told me it could be. It calmed me down a little bit but I will admit I was still a little worried.

Worried woman on phone call - The Single Mom Blog - My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

I went to the next mammogram, which was MUCH more involved than the last. My poor boob was squished every which way and then some. They told me that they would be in touch in a few days to let me know the results. *At this point I do want to say that the woman who was with me for both mammograms was AWESOME! She was like that amazing aunt that you have who is fun and comforting… she put me at ease at a very scary time.

About 5 days later I got another call from the doctor’s office – they found some calcifications in my right breast. These little dots that showed up and can be possible indicators for cancer cells. So they told me that they wanted me to come in for a biopsy.

I have to have a biopsy??

OK – now I am definitely starting to freak out again. A BIOPSY!?!? I really don’t like the sound of that but I get it scheduled. Now, the biopsy was definitely not what I was expecting. It is a surgical procedure so it is in an operating room of a sort. You have to lay on a table with a hole in it for your breast to go through. It would have been comical if it wasn’t also so scary. (I’m not gonna lie, I still laughed about it – I couldn’t help it.)

Then after you lay down they squish your boob again like in the mammogram – so they can find the area again and take the cells. They also numb your breast so you don’t really feel the biopsy needle when they take it. BUT you DO feel the needle when they numb you. It honestly feels like they are trying to stab THROUGH your boob.

Breasts are super sensitive, with lots of nerves so the needle in there is OUCH! After the biopsy was taken they wrapped me up in an ace bandage and stuffed an ice pack in the area. The next few days that area was really tender I have to tell you. Getting small chunks of breast tissue taken out is no joke.

I waited again for a few days to get the results of the biopsy. Then on November 11th I got a call from a lovely woman named Susie. She introduced herself as my nurse navigator – then she told me that my biopsy came back showing cancer. I had DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. Which simply put, meant that I had cancer cells in my milk ducts.

My stomach dropped to the floor and I honestly didn’t hear or process what she said for the next few minutes. I had to ask her to repeat it. She told me that this type of cancer is what they call Stage Zero. It is non-invasive and was caught VERY early. Which was a good thing all things considered. It was the best worst news I could have gotten I guess.

DCIS - ductal carcinoma in situ - breast cancer image

Susie talked me through all the information and worked with me to get my next appointment scheduled. This appointment would be where I met the various doctors that I may need to be working with. She also told me that I would need an MRI as well so the doctors could get a better look at how much of an area was cancerous.

I was absolutely gutted by this news, I immediately called my dad to tell him. My dad has always been my rock and he helped talk me through it. He listened to me cry, talked with me about what the nurse had said and calmed me down. After speaking with him I was a little better – but now I had to go tell my kids.

How are my kids going to take this?

My kids took it pretty well, of course they were worried but knowing that it was caught early and wasn’t going to be life threatening – that helped them. Honestly, I knew that the word cancer was going to scare them. Hell, it scared me – but I tried to not let my kids see that. I told them that no matter what happened I was going to do whatever it took to make sure I was ok.

A few weeks later I had the MRI and then met with 3 different doctors – oncologist, surgeon, radiation. The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center was STELLAR in how they handled my case. Making sure I had the nurse navigator to help me make appointments. Ensuring that I met with all of my doctors in ONE appointment so I could get all my information at once. I can’t say enough about how fabulous they were.

They talked with me more about my diagnosis and what my options might be. I left that meeting feeling more stable because information is power to me. NOT knowing what to expect makes me come up with all kinds of awful scenarios. So it is better for me to have the most information possible.

A little while after that, my doctor got the results of my MRI and had me come in to give me my options. I had a section of cancer cells that was about 3 ½ inches long.  She let me know that having a lumpectomy would be an option BUT it would likely be very disfiguring. As I mentioned before – I do not have a LOT to work with in the boob area.

So her recommendation was for me to have a mastectomy.

A mastectomy?

Oh my god.

I couldn’t believe it. A mastectomy?!?! How was this possible? I thought it was Stage Zero!!!! How can I possibly be making this decision?

She told me to take some time and think about what I wanted to do and then let her know. I had a lot of thinking to do – so many different things to consider. I took a few days, talked with family and friends. Cried a lot, was angry a LOT but ultimately I had to think about what was going to be best for me and my kids.

So I decided to have the mastectomy.

I will tell you more about that decision and what the surgery and process was like in my next post.

7 Important Life Skills to Teach Your Children

Although your children can learn to read and write at school, there are many beneficial life skills that schools rarely provide. These are skills that all adults and children should have.

If you or anyone you know really struggles with life, odds are that there is a lack of expertise in one of these areas. That’s how important they are!

Teaching your children these skills will benefit them throughout their lives:

Asking questions. It may not seem that important but this is a very important life skill. If you can’t figure out something that’s important to you, you can save yourself a lot of grief by asking questions. I tell my kids all the time, if you don't know then ask. Whether they are asking me or someone else for information, I want them to feel empowered to ask.

  • There are no such thing as stupid questions. I also tell my kids this – I don't ever want to discourage them from asking a question if they don't know the answer.

Problem solving is an important skill…

7 Important Life Skills - Asking questions is an important skill

The ability to solve problems. Life is full of challenges. Figuring out how to be successful in school, navigating through a new job, making the basketball team: these are all common challenges we must solve. Life is less intimidating when you learn processes that help you conquer challenges, whatever they may be.

  • Avoid the temptation to solve your children’s challenges for them. Let them strive to figure solutions out on their own.

 

7 Important Life Skills to Teach Your Kids - Find what you are passionate about

Finding a passion. No one ever trained us to go out and find the things that really excite and motivate us. Most of us were taught that working and having a job stinks, so you’d better get used to it. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! Everyone should have something they are passionate about and if they are lucky they can even find a way to make money doing what they love.

Independence is very important…

Independence. Children need to be nurtured to become more and more independent as they grow up. Many adults need to learn to be more independent as well. Strive to increase your child’s independence a little bit at a time.

  • Giving your child additional responsibilities as they get older will help with this. Depending on their age they can start doing more and more things around the house – loading and unloading the dishwasher, doing their own laundry, mowing the lawn, cooking basic meals etc.

Being content when alone. Some children are incapable of spending even 15 minutes without the attention of others. As children grow up, they learn to attach to other things to find contentment. Buying silly things, the Internet, food, video games, and more can all become addictions in their own way to avoid being alone.

  • There is a great power in being able to amuse yourself. It makes life easier, with fewer destructive temptations.

 

Compassion. The ability to work well with others and control our own anger is directly tied to our ability to be compassionate toward others. Strive to be more compassionate in your everyday life and teach your children the same. Being compassionate is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your children.

Dealing with change. Change is one of the few constants in life. Those who can be flexible and deal with change effectively are much more successful and happier than those who can’t. Help your child to learn to deal with change and you’ll be doing them a huge favor.

Schools teach us many things but they don’t teach us everything. These necessary skills that aren’t taught in school can be more valuable than anything we learn during our formal education. Check yourself and your child for the presence of these skills. Your lives will be much better for it.

*This post may contain affiliate links to products or services that I recommend. I do receive compensation for products ordered, however that does not reflect the price you pay for the items.

5 Ways to Make Money Without Spending a Dime

Is money a constant cause of stress? Are you having trouble making ends meet? Do you worry about making it to your next paycheck? Many of us have those moments. It can be difficult to cope with a poor financial situation, especially for single mothers.

When someone lacks money, their choices are limited. It’s discouraging when there are things you want to do and you’re unable to afford to do them. There's a whole world to explore, but you need cash before you can start living life to the fullest.

Wouldn’t you love to learn how to make some extra money without spending it? It isn’t as difficult as it sounds!

Consider these ideas to bring in extra money without having to spend some to get started:

Create a service using one of your talents. Everyone's good at something. Most of us even have a talent that can be monetized. Talents like these can be turned into profitable services: writing, website design, public speaking, playing a musical instrument, humor, singing, and much more.

  • Compile a list of your talents and see if there's a demand for any of those skills.
5 Ways to Make Money, woman holding money at desk

Find hidden money in your own home…

Sell something online. There are thousands of websites which allow people to post classified ads for free.

  • Look through your basement or storage units and make a list of items that could be sold. You can create a small business selling second hand items for a profit. This process is called “product flipping.”

 

Compile a list of services and sell them as a package. How many times have you stumbled upon a pamphlet with a company offering a wide range of interesting services? It might be a good idea for you to combine different related services and sell them as one package.

  • For example, if you’re a good writer, you could offer a range of services like writing articles, editing, proofreading websites, creating resumes, or any other service that could capitalize on your writing skills.
  • You can make a lot of money like this and it's completely free. The internet is a great way to advertise your services.
5 Ways to Make Money - Make a list of services you can offer

Make money helping others…

Offer to babysit, housesit, or watch someone’s pets while they’re on vacation. There are plenty of people who need help with these tasks and they’re willing to pay well. Babysitting, housesitting, or watching someone’s pets are great gigs for those who have extra free time.

  • Consider creating a pamphlet offering these services. Leave them on local billboards or pass them out in your neighborhood. Remember to include a phone number!
  • Word of mouth marketing is one of the best ways to spread the word. If you do a good job, your clients will recommend you to their friends.

Teach. Everyone has knowledge that they can pass on to others. Figure out what you can teach and then find people who would pay to learn it. Teaching can be fun, rewarding, and profitable.

  • There are websites that allow members to create an online classroom and teach people a specific skill. These sites often allow teachers to charge their own rates.
  • Prepare a course on a topic that interests you and then teach it. If your students love it, they'll recommend it to others, and your business will boom.

As you can see, there are many ways to make money without having to spend it. All that’s required is a touch of creativity and a “go-getter” attitude. Mix those two with determination, and you have a recipe for success. Before long, you won’t have to keep worrying about how you’re going to pay the bills next month. Give it a shot!

*This post may contain affiliate links to products or services that I recommend. I do receive compensation for products ordered, however that does not reflect the price you pay for the items.

10 Ways to Relax That Require 10 Minutes or Less

While it would be nice to just take a long vacation or check out of work each day for a few hours, most of us have limited time and opportunities to relax. However, we usually do have 10 minutes here and there throughout the day.

Use these methods to relax in as little as 10 minutes:

1. Meditate. The benefits of meditating are many. It’s incredibly popular right now but has been around for thousands of years. Experts often claim that even just one minute of meditation per hour is enough to gain benefits. 

I use apps to meditate for at least 10 minutes every morning before I start my day. I find that I am more focused and relaxed throughout the day when I do.

2. Control your breath. Your breath is one of the few parts of your physiology you can control. Slower, deeper, breaths will help you to relax. Focus on the feeling of your breath passing through your mouth or nostrils. Count your breaths if you find that helps.

how to relax - meditation every day helps you relax and eliminate stress

Visualization can help you relax

3. Visualize a peaceful scene. Our moods follow our thoughts. Think about something pleasant, and you can expect to experience a more enjoyable mood. Visualization is a great way to relax as well as help you with goal setting and manifesting.

4. Spend time with your pet. Pets are a blessing. They require little and ask for even less. They’re always happy to see you. Cuddle up with your pet and notice how much better you feel. Your pet will love the extra attention, too. Don’t have a pet? Borrow a friend’s pet.

5. Talk to a friend. Call up a friend, or even better, have a face to face. A few minutes spent chatting with a trusted confidant can do wonders for your stress levels. You’ll also be maintaining your relationships. A quick coffee date to catch up or a call to share some laughs can help more than you may think.

6. Take a short walk. A long walk is even better, but if you only have 10 minutes, a short walk can help a lot if you’re feeling stressed. Pay close attention to your surroundings while you walk. It will keep your mind off your challenges for a few minutes.

how to relax - taking a walk, spending time with pets

Music can soothe the soul…

7. Listen to music. Music has an amazing ability to alter one’s mood. Think of a few songs that will put you in a mood you’d rather feel. Listen away! If you don’t happen to have those songs available at the moment, YouTube has just about every song available for free.

8. Chew gum. Sounds crazy I know! Chewing gum has been shown to be an effective reducer of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Many people like to blow bubbles, too. You can lower your stress and amuse yourself at the same time.

9. Sit outside in the sun. Relax for a few minutes on a nice day and enjoy the sun. The warmth on your body can be a great mood booster, and you’ll get a nice dose of vitamin D, too. Now that the weather is turning nicer I have gotten out my hammock and have been lying in it every day!

10. Write down everything that worries you. One way to be less stressed and anxious is to write down everything that’s bothering you. Get it out of your system and down on paper. By externalizing it, you’ll often find that things aren’t quite as bad as you thought.

I have a journal that I write in on a regular basis. It has helped me relax, work through my problems, vent when I am angry… it has been a  life saver some days!

If you’re regularly feeling stressed, it’s important to do something about it. Not only is it miserable to feel stressed all the time, but it’s terrible for your health.

If you want to relax, make time for it each day. Ten minutes can be enough to take the edge off your stress levels. Don’t allow 10 minutes to go to waste. Use them to relax!

*This post may contain affiliate links to products or services that I recommend. I do receive compensation for products ordered, however that does not reflect the price you pay for the items.

6 Easy Ways to Use More Healthy Green Vegetables in Your Cooking

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You know you should eat more green vegetables, but you may be tired of adding them to a salad each day. However, there are other options to use these healthy veggies while you cook or bake.

Consider these ways to include more green vegetables in your meals:

1. Vegetable pasta.

There are two different techniques to use vegetables in a pasta dish:

  • Cook regular pasta and simply add healthy vegetables to it. The most popular options include tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. You can use raw veggies or steam them. Another option is to sauté them in healthy oils.
  • Make your pasta noodles out of vegetables. A spiralizer can help you make thin strips out of zucchini or eggplant. You can also use this technique to make noodles out of sweet potatoes or carrots. Another option if you don’t have a spiralizer is to cut thin slices or strips with a knife.

2. Soups, sauces, and dressings.

Soups, sauces, and dressings can be used to hide healthy vegetables. This is a useful method for picky eaters or children who refuse to eat whole or raw veggies. You’ll need a blender or mixer to puree the veggies to hide them in sauces.

  • Consider the types of vegetables you can puree: tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and others.

3. Meatballs.

You can hide vegetables inside meatballs, too! This one is GREAT for my kids. I add them into the meatballs when I make spaghetti and they NEVER know. Whether you stick to a completely vegetarian recipe or use meat, you can add green, healthy vegetables to meatballs.

  • The key is to add them to the mix before cooking. You can puree the veggies, so they’re easier to mix. Once they’re cooked, it’s usually impossible to see or taste the veggies.

4. Vegetables as wraps and sandwich bases

If you’re trying to reduce carbohydrates or are simply tired of eating bread, you can switch to green vegetables as your base.

  • Use lettuce as a wrap for a different take on a burrito or taco.
  • Another option is to use a thick leaf of lettuce or kale instead of bread for a sandwich. You can stack your tomatoes, cheese, meat, and other items on top. Many restaurants will offer this as an option too if you are eating out – just ask your server.

5. Casseroles

Most casseroles tend to be bland concoctions of leftover rice, noodles, tuna, or other bits that haven’t been eaten. If your family dreads the leftovers you put in a casserole, add more green vegetables to kick the flavor up a notch.

  • Adding vegetables will not only make your casseroles look more pleasing with a variety of colors, but also have more flavor. You can use an assortment of veggies to make the casseroles bolder. Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you and your family!

6. Smoothies

If you hate the taste of green vegetables, smoothies also give you the option of hiding them amid other flavors. Mix veggies with fruits in your smoothies for a variety of tastes. This is by FAR my favorite option because I only taste the sweetness of the fruit and none of the veggies.

  • Kale, lettuce, spinach, and other green veggies go well with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and apples. The mixed results will be hard to distinguish, but the taste will be worth it. You can also add a little yogurt or nuts for protein or even a scoop of protein powder if you like.

 

Green vegetables have multiple health advantages ranging from fiber to vitamins. If you’re struggling to eat salads, consider using vegetables in new ways. Your health and taste buds will both benefit!