Thursday, December 4, 2014

Square One

Have you ever felt like just as you were starting to get everything under control, your world turned upside down? Like when you're building a block tower and someone walks by and knocks it over? Some of you know the things I've been facing this past year. 2014, I'm so sick of you! I want to share my experience but I've been avoiding the details because I don't want to do anything in bad taste. I feel like my experiences could benefit others if done in the right spirit. This is after all my "real-life blog". That's been my goal from the go against the grain and expose life for what it really is. Ugly, dirty, messy, hurtful, crazy, happy, beautiful...all at the same time! Maybe I could share in pieces...maybe I should write a book! Hahaha! I will share this much. Through God ALL things are possible. From potty training to earning a Ph.D. All things are possible through Him.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3 Ways to improve your self-esteem

I have purposefully avoided the self-esteem topic for several months now. It is such a ridiculous struggle that I get so sick of hearing about and dealing with. I am embarrassed to admit that I still fall into this shallow, self-pitying dilemma. Logically, I know all of the many reasons why I should love myself. The primary reason being that I am a daughter of God who deserves love, respect and to be nurtured...especially by me. I know that if I don't love myself first that two things will happen. First, I will not understand how anyone could love me so I will look for reasons to disprove any such evidence, therefore stifling and damaging vital relationships. I don't see the love that is being expressed and use that as further proof that I am undeserving of such a gift. 

The second issue that will arise if I don't love myself is that I will lose the ability to genuinely care for others. My lack of compassion for myself becomes projected onto other people. I'm quick to find fault, especially those I care about most. My children, my husband, my parents and siblings are constantly unable to fulfill my high expectations. They continually let me down, irritate me, hurt my feelings or annoy me. 

So, why does this problem still occur? I have come leaps and bounds from where I was as an insecure teenager, but at sensitive moments, such as pregnancy, those same waves of insecurity come flooding back. Because I often base my self-worth solely on my physical appearance, my confidence is deflated when unpleasant changes in my body occur. I think most women experience this to some degree, which is why I want to share my thoughts. Here are a few key points that have helped improve my self-esteem.

1.) Honest Self-evaluation

When I evaluate myself, honestly, I can find many beautiful and wonderful attributes. Yes, I make mistakes, but generally I am a good person. I am a caring wife and mother. I can share my talents, experiences, hope, creativity and compassion easily with others. When we look deep inside ourselves we can all find those innate characteristics that make us amazing people. It was recommended to me that I make a list of all the things I do well. When I couldn't think of anything else I had to ask someone close to me (such as a spouse or parent) what else I could add to the list. It was really amazing to see everything on paper that I did well. Even if it is something as simple as being punctual or making really yummy mint-lemonade. Beauty comes in many forms. 

2.) Forgive Yourself

When I forgive myself of my faults, my past and everyday shortcomings, I can move forward with a more positive perspective. There will always be the haters. There will always be those little voices in your head or in real life pointing out your imperfections. But rather than indulging those voices I have to make a conscious choice to ignore and even contest those accusations. I stop those comments or thoughts with a strong and calm, "no, that's not true. I'm really good person." As corny as it sounds, when self-forgiveness and positive self-talk become a habit it's hard to get caught up in shallow things like the number on the scale. 

3.) Stop Comparing

As a Christian I believe that envy and jealousy are sins. Yet, they are subtle and therefore creep in almost unnoticed on a daily basis. I look at other women's bodies, hair, clothes, make-up, house, car, the way her children are dressed, career, etc., etc....and I make a quick determination if I rank higher or lower than her. That split-second evaluation is deadly to my self-esteem! In these moments I'm either giving myself credit for something superficial or punishing myself for something that doesn't matter. This has been refereed to by mental health professionals as "self-plagiarism". Comparing ourselves to others is a completely inaccurate evaluation of self-worth. We will continually be disappointed in our findings.   

As I expressed earlier, we all go through phases of being self-confident and less-than-so. There is always growth to be made. Finding love for myself and understanding that as a human being my life has worth, is extremely powerful and liberating. It may seem so simple and basic to some, but for those of us who have lived without this belief, it means the difference between a life of happiness or misery.

You are beautiful!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mommy Confessions

I just realized that my toddler's "lunch" today consisted of random snacking throughout the hours of 10:30am and 3pm. The items consumed consisted of:

fried French toast
McDonald's fries
and Valentines M&M's

I would feel guilty, but I'm too lazy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Natural Birth vs. Epidural

In my delicate, hormonal, impregnated condition I'm finding it irresistible to not weigh in on every topic and issue that crosses my path. Obviously, one of the major ones in my realm is whether or not to use medical pain relief during labor.

Labor and delivery with an epidural 
With my first daughter, the labor was relatively normal. The hospital staff administered pitocin to speed up the labor. When I reached eight centimeters dilated I heard someone screaming hysterically in the middle of one of my contractions. As the contraction subsided I realized that I was the one screaming. I was completely detached from the situation. I felt out of control and was shaking uncontrollably and I was terrified like nothing else.

It was at this point that I chose to have the epidural. It took the anesthesiologist longer than normally to insert the catheter in between my vertebrae because my back was so tense. When the epidural was finally administered, the pain was relieved and I was completely dead weight from the waist down. Somehow, I was still able to control my abdominal muscles to push. I was able to focus and be present in the moment, but now I felt out of control in a different way.

Because of complications caused by the nurse, Saylor was rushed to the NICU (she broke the umbilical cord before clamping it, causing Saylor to loose blood quickly). Because I was immobilized by the epidural, I was unable to be with my daughter for two hours after I gave birth to her.

The hospital staff was unable to remove the epidural catheter from my back. It is made of rubbery, balloon like material and if they pulled to hard it could break, leaving part of it still in my back. In this case, it would require surgery to remove the rest of the catheter.  This problem delayed me even longer to be present with my newborn daughter. Eventually, a training anesthesiologist was able to remove the catheter 15 hours after the delivery.

Labor and delivery without an epidural
My labor with my second daughter Syliva, was much different. I labored at home for about two hours and would have labored longer, but my husband made the smart choice to go to the hospital. The contractions were right on top of each other and the pain was significantly more intense then I had remembered. By the time we reached the hospital I was fully dilated and it was too late for any pain relief. Sylvia was already crowning and the nurses were coaching me to try to avoid pushing. The doctor was not at the hospital yet and they wanted to wait for her. I didn't care who was or wasn't there at that point and shot Sylvia out like a cannon. The relief I felt after delivery was incredible. As much pain as I was feeling seconds before was equal to the elation and pleasure I felt after she was born. I felt a flood of adrenaline and natural instincts kicking in. Sylvia needed minor help through message to help stimulate breathing rhythm and then was placed in my arms. Minutes after giving birth she was latched onto my breast and feeding. Unlike, Saylor who struggled for three months to breastfed before being weened to a bottle. My recovery was phenomenal. I felt like I could get up and go immediately after giving birth. Between the recovery and bonding benefits, I would highly recommend all natural birth.

I realize that each woman is different and each situation is unique. If Syliva hadn't come so quickly I don't know if I would have been strong enough to resist the temptation of an epidural. I don't believe that an epidural in itself is harmful to the baby or mother. However, just like with my first experience, little things can go wrong that are less then ideal and can be avoided. I think that we should not label one method right or wrong. This is simply my experience thus far.

There is something so empowering about doing what other women have done for thousands of years. To allow my body to perform to its fullest capacity without any artificial impact. There is simply no other feeling or experience like it. As a Mormon, my thoughts were turned to my pioneer ancestors and the incredible trial that they endured of bearing children in unimaginable conditions. Natural birth gave me a glimpse into the issues they had face. The pain aside, I couldn't imagine the circumstances they had face in order bring their children into the world. Although I felt good enough to get up and walk out of the hospital, I didn't have to. These pioneer women on the other hand did. Because of their faith, the most likely took very little time to rest and recuperate before continuing their journey west. If that's not inspirational, then I don't know what is!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

All Natural Mint Lemonade

4-6 lemons
4 sprigs of fresh mint
20oz cold water
1/4c stevia

Yields 1-2 servings

I use a juicer to extract the lemon juice, but squeezing them by hand works just fine too. It just takes a little more work. Chop and add the mint and water. Add stevia (or other natural sweetener) and stir. The trick is adding more water or sweetener to your desired taste. I like a strong mint taste as well so I recommend lots of mint!

When I'm watching my weight I love this drink. Water gets boring and sometimes I want just a little more flavor. This is a easy way to get tons of flavor without sacrificing calories. This large mason jar has about five calories. Research has shown that one of the benefits of mint and lemon is weight control.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Name Game

   Now that we know baby number three is going to be a girl, I'm driving myself crazy trying to find a name that the Hubs and I can agree on. My very wise sister, Brittanie, doesn't reveal any of her possible choices until after the baby is born. I on the other hand bounce name ideas off anyone who will listen. Having the last name - Zoellner - is not the easiest to fit with darling little names either. I've chosen to have her middle name be Lynn, in honor of my mother-in-law, but beyond that I'm stumped. I want it to be something unique, classic and a little old-fashioned. Ideas are much appreciated! Here are a few of my faves, but like I mentioned, my husband and I are just not seeing eye to eye.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ketchup in her curls


In my last post I talked about "filling up my bucket". Well, thank goodness I have been because my girls continually test my patience. While caring for myself, my heart has become much lighter. It's easier to see that other people are in need too. I also see the humor in things more often and don't take myself so seriously. That country song, "you're gonna miss this" keeps playing in my head. Yes, there are toys scattered everywhere. Yes, there are unidentifiable sticky spots all over my floor. Yes, I've shared a twin bed with both my children multiple times this week. Yes, there are eyes drawing on Saylor's sheets because she likes to pretend to be "the ghost of Boise". Yes, there's frosting smeared across my mid-century couch. BUT, I know someday I'm going to miss this. I'm going to miss the days when farts are so funny and Saylor draws smiley faces on every finger tip. I'm going to miss wiping ketchup out of Sylvia's curls. I love that my house looks like a home. What a privilege it is to have children and to be here for them. I know too many women who have made severe mistakes and don't have the blessing of living with their children anymore. I could have easily been one of those women. I could have easily been another statistic. I know too many women who haven't had the opportunity for marriage or other women who face infertility or who have tragically lost a child. I honestly treasure every moment I have with these angels. They make me laugh, give my life meaning, challenge me to be better and fill my heart with joy.

So when life gets too serious or stressful or messy...I sing that little song........
"you're gonna miss this!"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Filling up my bucket

I suppose this is the time of year when we all reflect and recommit ourselves to our various causes. For me this began several weeks ago as I realized there were certain things in my conduct that were not in harmony with my beliefs. To be specific, my temper. As mothers we have a bucket. We give and give and give out of our bucket until pretty soon we have nothing left to give. If we don't refill our bucket then we break down, blow up and freak out. As I reached out to those people and resources that I knew could help me I recognized how empty my bucket has been. As soon as things would start to get sticky, I would blow up. Unfortunately, this most commonly occurred with my children or my husband.

  This bucket I'm talking about can be filled with a number of things. It's all those things that make up our health. Our bucket can be filled up with physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual stimuli. It's easy to get caught up in our role as a mother and put our needs last in the name of self-sacrifice. However, I'm realizing playing the martyr really does no one any good.  When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody I right?

  So this year, I'm putting away the mommy guilt and planning to keep my bucket full. My intellectual aspect is this blog. It allows me get all of the racing thoughts out and my wheels turning.  How are you planning to keep your bucket full in 2014?

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Thick and the Thin

It's difficult for me to express what is jumping inside me. My love for life has grown exponentially over the past several months. The confusion, depression, worry and fear that often hold me down has gradually been lifted. A combination of deepening faith and strengthened relationships has scooped me up and pushed me forward. As a family we continually struggle financially. Cassidy is in the last semester of school. He is finishing an Associates degree in communications while working part time in an energy analyses company. I work overnight shifts four times a week as a nursing assistant in senior care. In addition to church callings, children, housework, exercise and recovery, we are a busy family. Like most families we are just trying to make it through the day. Stress can easily become so overwhelming that I just want is to (and sometimes do) curl up into a little ball and cry. However, I am extremely blessed to have to the knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father. 
"I know my Father lives and loves me to. The spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true." 

I am continually humbled by the simple expressions of God's love in my daily life. Recently Sylvia was crying in the middle of the night. I couldn't soothe her. I held her on the couch, exhausted. I knew Saylor was awake too. I worried that she would start crying as well. Instead, I heard her delicate whisper as she prayed. She prayed for our family. She prayed for her baby sister. In her simple language she poured out her heart to her Heavenly Father to bless us. It was a tender moment that I will never forget. When I think my hard work may be in vain, something extraordinary happens.

I was touched by Cassidy's courage this week as he was away on a business trip. By nature my husband is very reserved. He is has a difficult time expressing personal elements of his life. Somehow, the topic of religion arose during the trip. Uncharacteristically, Cassidy shared why the gospel was important to him. He told his boss why he loved the church and why he wants to raise his family by its teachings. The following day, his boss approached him and commended him for his hard-work. He asked if he could really commit to being apart of the business. When Cassidy assured him that he intended on giving it his all he was offered a raise.

I know that the motivation and excitement that fuel me are not my doing. They can't be. When I get really honest with myself I find what needs to be cleared away. I see what isn't making me happy. I find that loving myself is crucial to my happiness and my ability to serve others. I want so badly to be loved and appreciated yet I'm unwilling to offer the same to anyone, including myself. Loving and praising my family, my co-workers, my neighbors, my ward and strangers lights me up. It dusts away my resentments, unrighteous judgments and insecurities. Simply put, "I'm trying to be like Jesus." Everything I need to know I can learn from him. Love, tolerance and forgiveness is everything.

In one of my dark times I opened up to Cassidy. I sobbed at the end of the bed and told him I didn't know if I loved him. I didn't know what love meant. I was afraid that I didn't understand what marriage is. He wisely replied, "who does?" He honestly expressed that he didn't know any of those things either. Since then my heart has been more open then ever before. Cass and I have walked some rough roads in our short marriage, but our life is now sweeter than it ever has been. We don't walk blindly, but rather with the faith that a marriage based on gospel principles and centered on Christ can overcome great challenges.

I'm learning to love myself on a daily basis. By doing this I'm ready to be loved and appreciate the way my husband expresses his feelings. I see more of my husband's successes and fewer of his faults. I'm amazed at his growth and see him as an equal. I admire him for his unique personality. I can forgive more easily. I can communicate more openly. I can be a better wife.

My testimony is growing. I know that Christ's church has been restored. I have no doubt in my mind. The semi-annual General Conference is taking place this weekend and can be found here.
At this meeting the prophet Thomas S. Monson and other leaders of the church will address the world. This is a special opportunity for anyone to learn more about the teachings of our Savior and to be uplifted and inspired. It is something I truly look forward too. I strongly encourage those who want to learn more about the Mormon church to watch.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More than Enduring

I'm the type of person that has to work 24/7 to keep a clear head. I can slip in to psycho mode real quick. I keep thinking of the saying that life is meant to enjoyed not just endured. I have to find some evidence of meaning and purpose every day or else I get lost in negativity. Yesterday at work I stepped outside for a minute around 8:30. It had cooled off from the 100 degree day and the evening light was simply romantic. I was humbled by the infinite sky above me. I could feel God's love for me, no matter how little I felt.

I looked into the eyes of my precious baby this morning and felt the same infinite love. These things have the potential to be over looked. I literally need to stop and smell the roses or all hope is lost. Happy Friday all!!