An Unexpected Reminder
I imagine you have probably watched (or at least heard about) The movie Encanto and while most people sing “We don’t talk about Bruno”, the song that stuck out to me the most was “Surface Pressure”, the song that the strong sister Luisa sings. Luisa has these big, strong muscles and holds onto so much for her family, physically and emotionally.
I am not going to lie, the first time I heard the song I had tears well up in my eyes. She mentions questioning her worth and value if she was not serving others, holding everything together and the “strong one”.
See, I am a therapist and I help people navigate boundaries and self-esteem every day. But, if I am being honest, I still struggle with getting my worth and value through serving others.
I sometimes say yes when I want or need to say no, I tolerate inappropriate behavior and I feel guilty when I do not measure up to what I *make up* people expect from me. I feel drained from meeting the needs and wants of others, yet not doing that for myself as an attempt to feel valued and seen.
Anyone else relate?
But what happens when we fail to set boundaries?
We feel drained from carrying other people’s problems, we get resentful for always being the “go to” person and feel unappreciated or taken for granted.
However, when we choose to make changes and embrace a life of boundaries, we have more fulfilled relationships, a cup that is overflowing instead of dry and are able to let go of resentment.
The big question is how do we set boundaries? I am so glad you asked ;)
First, in order to know where we need to set boundaries, we need to look at the pain points in our lives. Do we struggle with a certain friend, taking on too much or in our work life balance? Do we struggle with taking things too personally, feeling unappreciated or drained? Where ever our biggest headaches and stresses are in our life, those are the areas that we need to set some boundaries in the most.
When setting boundaries, it is important that we always come from a place of love and respect. We need to let the other person know that we care about them and the relationship and that is why we desire to improve the dynamics. When our heart is in the right place, it if often better received by the other person.
Next, we need to examine our goals and motivation for setting the boundaries. When setting boundaries, the goal should always be to protect ourselves, not to change or control anyone else.
Then, we need to be clear about our boundary and also have an action step we will take if the boundary continues to be violated.
Let’s compare a couple ways to communicate boundaries.
“You cannot yell at me” VS. “I am not going to engage in a conversation where there is yelling”.
The two are similar but there are some important distinctions between the two.
In both examples, I am addressing that yelling is not acceptable.
However, there are important differences. In the first example, I am attempting to control the other person and their behavior by telling them what they can or cannot do (which breaks the second step in boundary setting).
However, in the second example, I am sharing what I am willing and not willing to engage in. I am staying on my side of the street and sharing that I will not be in a conversation where there is yelling versus going on their side of the street and telling them how to behave.
Now, let’s take this a step farther. Let’s use the example above and let’s say the person continues to yell. Then I need to have an action step on what I am going to do if my boundary continues to be violated.
“I am not willing to engage in a conversation with yelling. If the yelling continues, I am going out of the room (hang up the phone, go for a drive etc.).”
This lets the other person know that we have set a boundary and are willing to take steps to protect ourselves.
Let’s go over another example.
A friend asks you to volunteer at an upcoming fundraiser but you know you already have too much on your plate.
“I am not able to help with the fundraiser but I am willing to donate $x for the event”. If she continues to ask or attempts to guilt trip you for not volunteering, you share the action step.
“I am not able to help with the fundraiser but am able to donate $x for the event. If you continue to ask me for help, I will stop answering the phone (returning you call, responding to your texts, walk away from the conversation etc.).”
Sometimes though, it will not be a boundary that you set with others but an internal boundary, a boundary that you set with yourself.
Maybe every time you have a conversation with a friend, you feel completely drained after because you feel the weight of carrying their burden and you need to learn to separate yourself where you can feel empathy without taking on their pain.
In this example, you may need to visualize your boundary. Perhaps it is a screen door where you can see what is going on with your friend and you are able to let some of it in but not all of it; you choose what you open the door for and what you don’t.
In learning to set those internal boundaries, you may need to use affirmations or positive self-talk to remind yourself that you are not responsible for the other person or their issues, your job is just to listen, problem solve etc.
Let’s explore another example.
You find out that a family member has said some negative things about you. Normally when you hear that someone has said something negative about you, it completely ruins your day and you are devastated or get really angry and want revenge.
However, with boundaries you are able to come from a place of curiosity. “Hmmm, isn’t it interesting that this person said this about me” BUT you do not let it in your screen door. You are able to separate yourself and protect yourself with the visual internal boundary and are no longer willing to carry the burden of others words.
This takes a lot of practice and self-talk but as that boundary muscle grows, it will become easier and easier.
Ditching the drain and overwhelm and embracing balance and peace is possible and is sooo worth it!
If you would like to learn more about setting boundaries, I have the perfect course for you. This course is packed with step-by-step videos for setting and maintaining boundaries in every area of your life.
And for being a follower, you can receive $100 off the course when you use the code EMAIL.
Guest Blogger Lakisha Buffington
Bio: I am a STORYTELLER by nature!! I love to share stories! In fact, I believe that when you share stories, you build stronger connections with the people you are talking to. It allows them to see "your true self" in all its glory and grind.
However outside of these superpowers, I am a loving wife, awesome mom, and dedicated caregiver in my daily life, but at night, lol, my innate prowess includes author, story-sharing coach, and communication strategist, owner of Unstuck Woman SELF Strategies, LLC, and creator of An UnStuck Woman movement.
“Liberation is when you know without a doubt that you belong to every place and no place at all. You are gracious about being a part of something, but you’re okay, standing alone too.”
- Dr. Brene Brown
I have always wanted to fit in. For nearly ninety percent (90%) of my life, I have wanted to be like the others; to belong; to be a part of something. I have this insatiable need sometimes to just feel seen; to be heard; to know that I am valued.
At a young age, I can remember sitting at my grandmother’s knee, and asking her, “why am I so different”? She smiled at me and as she reached over to kiss me on my forehead, she so sweetly said, “Peaches your different is your blessing”. For the first time, I remember thinking, Bigma may be wrong this time. I didn’t feel blessed. I felt cursed. In fact, I just felt “not enough”.
I won’t bore you with my childhood stories, today, lol, but I will share a bit of background. My mother was sixteen when she had me, and my dad, was seventeen. My maternal grandmother wanted to punish my mom and make her quit school and work. However, my paternal grandparents had other plans, and because my dad wasn’t stable enough to step up, they did. At six weeks old, I moved in with my Bigma Maggie (my best girl) and my Pawpaw Chester (the best man since sliced bread). They loved me, nurtured me, nourished my body, mind, and spirit with great family values, however unfortunately I was not excluded from the effects of having one presently absent parent in my life (my mom), and a plain ole absent parent (my dad).
So, I have ‘stuff” - generational, emotional, and environmental – that I have lived with most of my life. At the age of thirteen when I was having this conversation with my grandmother, I didn’t realize it then, but it was my 'stuff' that caused me to feel ill-fated. And believe me up until recently, it didn’t get any better for me.
Don’t get me wrong, despite my ‘stuff’, others would describe me as a corny, witty, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky kind of girl! All true! Nonetheless, my closest friends would also tell you that I’ve struggled emotionally and mentally most of my life living to be loved!
I learned at an early age how to create and where the masks that others wanted to see. I learned how to dim my own light to make others shine brighter, just so I could fit in. I learned early in life that black sheep do exist in family dynamics, and I was that girl!
And over the years, I became more and more isolated, angry, and bitter, but worst of all, I became desensitized to the things that triggered me, the discomfort it made me feel, and the pain that existed in the aftermath. My ‘stuff’ began to runneth over!
In 2017 my then 55-year-old mother was diagnosed with early-stage dementia. I remember feeling numb because I had so many unanswered questions. I started researching on my own. I needed more than it's perhaps genetic, "okay, where because there's no disclosed history that I know of". Well, perhaps it's environmental., the doctor said.
Knowing what I did about my mom's abusive past, I started looking at the correlation between trauma and dementia. What I found was that "your biography will become your biology. The more I researched and asked questions, the more I realized that at 55 years old, my mother's "stuff", her unprocessed trauma from childhood into adulthood was finally returning to haunt her. And that it was possibly triggered by the loss of her eldest brother.
We can only suppress our stuff for so long.
The more I sought to figure out my mom's situation, the more I realized our similarities.... and in 2019, I decided that I NEEDED to face my stuff too. I became passionate about being open to accepting HELP, learning how to HEAL, and excited about finding HOPE!! I started learning more about embracing my stories, repurposing the language of the past, and giving my pain a new purpose.
In 2021 I refocused my mission, reconnected to my purpose, and launched UnStuck Woman SELF Strategies, LLC with the purpose of supporting women around the world, empowering courage, confidence, forgiveness, and comfortability in becoming their version of an Unstuck Woman!
After nearly three years, I am proudly working towards creating the UnStuck Woman Imitative, a non-profit side to my business that will allow me to continue supporting women withfinding this UnStuck & Free space of SELF, but through mindful healing and story sharing.
“There is no greater agony than bearing the untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou
Over the past few years, I have learned to push through my fears, flaws, and imperfections, and Lord "handles" my triggers so much better than years before. I have learned to embrace my UnStuck SELF!
In truth, I designed the #UnStuckWoman movement as a way of leading and motivating myself first! I was a woman struggling with identifying mySELF. I was a woman unclear about who she was. I lacked the understanding and belief I needed to appreciate what I could do with my life. I lacked the trust in SELF - uncomfortable in my skin, afraid to be myself, and withholding permission to be bold in my strengths. I was living out of balance and out of alignment!
"First be a leader of yourself. Only then can you grow to become a leader of others". - Lakisha Mitchell-Buffington
I am a STORYTELLER by nature!! I love to share stories! It’s how I relate to others. It’s how I share my trials and triumphs. It’s how I heal. It's my therapy! You see, writing allows me to be completely and comfortably myself! I can laugh, joke, be corny, and be as off or on-key as I like. Writing provides me an outlet for help, healing, and for HOPE.
Writing provides "total freedom" for my SELF-identity! I get to freely talk about my stuff! You know the stuff that keeps us awake at night, that stresses the hairs out of our heads, the stuff that we worry other people will figure out about us - the generational, emotional, and environmental stuff that holds us hostage!
Through writing and story-sharing, I have developed the courage, confidence, and ability to forgive, and comfortably live purposely as my UnStuck & Free self.
This past January, I did a thing! It was an amazing thing! It was a healing thing. It was the best thing I could have done for myself, my family (especially my daughter), and for women that can resonate with me right now. I publicly shared the story of my seven-year-old self! I openly talked about my biography and bricks, in my 3rd published book, UnStuck & Free; A guided journal to Self-identity, growth, & transformation in women. And in that place of self, I felt freedom! I was able to talk about the seven challenges that I have faced as a woman trying to simply find herself; a woman who no longer felt a need to fit in; a woman who could care less about being like the others; a woman who was pushing through her ‘stuff’, unpacking it, one brick at a time. I felt free to become the woman who could finally live to be loving, rather than being loved. I was finally becoming Lakisha, my version of an #UnStuckWoman.
My journey has not been easy and yes, it's been lonely, and very challenging sometimes. However, it's also been the most liberating experience of my life! I belong to every place and absolutely no place at all because I belong to Lakisha!
“A woman that finds her identity finds herself.” - Lakisha Mitchell -Buffington
If you enjoyed this post from Lakisha Mitchell-Buffington, check out www.anunstuckwoman.com to learn more about her personal journey, as well as her grassroots business, UnStuck Woman SELF Strategies, LLC. To connect with Lakisha on a more personal aspect, make sure you’re following her @Lakisha Mitchell-Buffington (Storyteller) on Facebook, @AnUnStuckWoman on Instagram, and please join the conversations and connection in the An UnStuck Woman Facebook group.
Sarah de Orlando is an author, speaker, and the Chief-Hope-Giver of Sarah de Orlando Coaching. A season in Poland began a five-year journey to help her embrace her unique design beyond what she thought she “should” or “could” do as an engineer. In early 2021, she bravely left her structural engineering career to pursue her new calling full-time. Sarah’s passion is to coach women to discover and step into their God-sized dreams to impact others by sharing their stories. Sarah and her husband, Andrés, have one adorable daughter, “Bug.” You can find Sarah hiking through forests or beachcombing for sea glass in her downtime. Her debut memoir, Love Letters from Poland, was released in 2021. Connect with her on Instagram @sarahdeorlando and www.sarahdeorlando.com.
Wizzz!--out when Dad’s line before deftly landing near the pond’s alcove of pines. I sat straight like a rod in the middle of the canoe. The red-white bobber indicated no takers. “Dad, nothing is happening!” “Shhh, Bean. We have to be patient.”
Until I became a mother, I didn’t see why my father loved to take me fishing. Silence. Sure, he enjoyed the sport and pan-fried rainbow trout. But I’m on to his method that went something like, “Hey kids, let’s pile into a boat and see who can be the quietest as we wait out the morning for a bite.” (And leave your mom at home to rest.)
Reality hits home: rest seems impossible.
I once heard Thomas Edison liked to fish every morning. He never caught a thing because he didn’t use bait; fish and people left him alone for an hour to think. I too, crave white space to think uninterrupted from “Mami, I want a snack,” construction noise, phone notifications, social media feeds, and more. And those things are the external distractions. Forget about the mental to-do list, the reel of shame on repeat in my mind, and discouragement. I’m not beyond daily struggles, friend.
Maybe it’s just the season I’m in with a bright, talkative toddler that has me daydreaming of silent retreats. But I also think much deeper movements of culture drive it. Feeling pressured always to be on, reply to Facebook, Instagram, Marco Polo, emails, texts, and more. That doesn’t even touch the lovely Christmas and new years notes we received, and I haven’t acknowledged them from six months ago. I fear we might be on the “doesn’t get a card” list next year. Just pile on more pressure that I feel the need to respond to everyone with my undivided attention thoughtfully.
If only I could get on top of it all, I would feel peaceful and able to rest.
I can’t do it all!
You’re not meant to, my soul whispered.
In his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer warns against our dependence on our phones. Even if it’s turned off, but in the same room as us, it affects our “working memory and problem-solving skills.”1 I believe it. Phones interrupt my concentration and always beacon for one more thing to do before bed. It’s a constant reminder of to-dos, activities, invitations, and work piling up if I don’t just do that “one last thing.” But it’s never that last thing is it?
Before living in Poland in 2016, I lived a hurried, stressed life. I conditioned myself to believe it was the only way to get things done. In different seasons, compounding stressors like work, social life, church, and family needs collided and I’d melt down in tears. But in Poland, working abroad with two suitcases and a few coworker acquaintances, my schedule quickly opened up. It revealed how much I had depended on doing things to feel good about myself. By grace, instead of falling back into old ways, I chose a new rhythm. I decided to have work-free Sundays which included strolls in the park, podcasts, reading, and connecting with family back home. One full day of rest made me actaully excited for work on Mondays! This is possible for you too.
Do you relate with the overpacked schedule? Here are some ways you to evaluate if you need more rest from shorted list from The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.2 Do you struggle with:
An Invitation To Rest
What if doing less is the more I need? And it’s not just me. Culturally, the U.S. is more connected than ever with our devices. But there is a correlation to more burned out, less productivity, and greater mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Something has to slow down. But it takes discipline. It takes intentionality to accept the invitation your body, mind, and soul crave: rest.
Yes, you’re invited to rest.
Rest is a beautiful reset to our mind, body and spirit. It helps us have meaningful connections with others, ourselves, and our spirituality or faith. We come back to work refreshed, with more creativity and productivity than if we had just powered through. When our bodies slow down, our minds pick up speed in healthy ways with reflection. Cognitive neuroscientist, Caroline Leaf, in her book Switch On Your Brain, states that taking time to reflect increases our critical thinking skills, peace, and feelings related with happiness.3 In addition, taking time to slow down and notice your thoughtst helps us problem-solve. It gives us time to capture lies like “I can’t do this.” or “I screwed up again” sapping precious energy.
Having a slower, intentional pace of life is possible. It begins by noticing small ways you can incorporate rest into daily and weekly rhythms. Try some of these for the next 21 days, noticing how you feel and show up for others.
Life Balance: Myth or Manageable?
This weekend I was honored to be able to speak at a convention on life balance and since this week we were unable to have a guest blogger due to her personal issues, I figured I would share with you guys a snippet of what I discussed that day.
So, what comes to mind when you think of life balance?
Unrealistic? Fantasy? Possible but not probable?
Let me break it to you…
While it takes practice, balance is possible and doesn’t have to involve sacrificing what you love most.
But first we need to start at the foundation and define what life balance actually means. The notion that it means equal time is outdated and honestly, unrealistic for many. The best definition I have heard was from Christy Wright who defined it as “doing the right thing at the right time”.
What does that actually mean? Let’s dissect it.
First, we need to determine what the “right thing” means. The right thing means doing what is important at the time it is important because doing the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.
So, if we are at home with our family, the “right thing” is being present with them instead of distracted by work or our phones. If we are at work, that means the “right thing” is being focused on our work tasks and obligations.
Often, we struggle with being one place but having our mind consumed with another place.
I remember when my oldest was born and I went back to work full time. Most of the time that I was at work I was thinking about him but when I was with him, I was worrying about work. In reality, I was mentally never where my feet were and that made me miss out on important aspects of my life.
Essentially, the first step of balance is mentally being where your feet are.
Next, we need to assess where our feet need to be.
Let’s do a little exercise. Write down what your top three priorities in life are right now. Now, write down the top three areas where most of you time and attention are.
Do they line up? If not, then how can we make the two line up because in order to have balance, our time and attention needs to reflect what our priorities are.
The best way to do that? Set boundaries.
You know I LOVE talking about boundaries. Maybe that is why I created a whole course focused on boundaries ;). For those things that are not our priorities, we need to set boundaries to protect our time and attention. If you struggle with boundaries, you NEED this course.
Balance also involves maintaining self-care. We can’t pour from an empty cup and in order to do all the things, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves enough to be able to handle life. Self-care doesn’t mean just spa days, it also means going to yearly doctor’s appointments, having a clean house and taking time to nurture your soul. If you want more information about this, I have written a lot of posts about this topic so feel free to review them.
Let’s recap, in order to maintain balance we need to establish our priorities, set boundaries and practice self-care.
Easier said than done I know but once you get there, maintaining the balance will be much easier. Start small and gradually make changes. You can do it!
Hi friends! I am so excited to be doing a summer series of guest bloggers. I am so excited to have other women in the field pour into you based on their experiences, passions and expertise so enjoy the next couple months as we highlight our guests.
This week our guest is Martha Harder from Blue Haven Soapery!
Hi there folks!
Jocelyn asked if I would guest-post on her blog and I am absolutely thrilled to meet up with you here in Internet-land. Ready to share with you *hopefully* something you will find encouraging.
It’s always weird meeting someone new. Are they relatable or stuffy?
Do you *click* or does their weirdness resonate on a different wavelength than yours?
“We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” -Dr. Suess.
I think the above quote also relates to friends. Because weirdness is often necessary for good connections to be made. The realness factor.
I’m the kinda gal who likes to get all up in your business and ask questions like, “When was your last good bowel movement?” to someone who says they are feeling ‘off’.
I’m the one who looks at topics like abuse, betrayal and trauma and says, “We are looking this dead in the eye. We’re not messin around or skirting around this.”
I’m the kinda gal who sees things like pornography as needing to be addressed. If it’s such an issue and yet “Nobody struggles.” It’s awfully suspicious. And dead silent. I’m all for shouting its devastation to the mountaintops.
I want the light of day to shine into the cracks. Even the painful, tear and blood-crusted ones.
John 3:21 “But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
We crave the light and fear it at the same time.
Perhaps because we feel it’s easier to struggle in silence. There is the fear of the unknown to contend with. What may happen if I speak up??
Perhaps because we’ve *tried* to open up before and have been shot down by people we love.
Perhaps we are in need of looking for some new peoples. Peoples who will not only HEAR, but LISTEN.
I am ALL FOR having awkward conversations. Because those are often the ones we recoil from initiating but CRAVE so deeply…
If you are reading this and are struggling, please know you are NOT ALONE (ever.) God promises He will NEVER leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) That’s a pretty sure promise.
All that being said, today, I’d like to talk about postpartum depression.
First of all, hi.
My name is Martha.
I am the hopelessly flawed student of life.
I am wife to a real-live, old-fashioned cowboy (at least that’s how I see him in my mind. He’s really an organic farmer)
We have four earthly children and three born into the arms of Jesus.
I am the survivor of abuse. A student of Biblical Counseling. An advocate.
I’m a writer, a cooker of food, a gardener, preserver, fermenter, and listener (in training).
I am also a soap artist and business owner. That’s a fancy term for the fact that I make old fashioned soap with a classy new twist. I really just like to play with chemicals. And if they can be pretty, even better.
Nearly two years ago. (Remember that year?) The year that has become the equivalent of a ‘bad word’ that you speak in hushed tones. “Don’t say 2020 too loud. It might come back to bite you!!”
I was pregnant with our 4th earthly child. Her life was held in the balance due to some severe complications in my body as well as hers.
I had large ‘growths’ on my thyroid causing INSANE levels of dangerous-to-pregnancy hormones to be pumped out. If my levels had altered by two points, I would’ve needed intervention. Said intervention would’ve affected the baby. At one point it was looking very much like a choice between my life and the baby’s…
Then there was the babe I was fighting for…
“We can’t find a part of the baby’s heart.” My body weighed a million ton appointment after appointment that we couldn’t figure out what all we were looking at.
“She may be born purple. She may be stillborn. She may need surgery immediately after birth. She may not stop screaming.”
Every day I woke up wondering if I’d be able to ‘keep her’. Every night I went to bed hoping I’d stay awake all night with her kicks-a sign of life.
Every. Single. Day. Was. An. Intense. Battle.
Then, 9 months passed and boom! She was here! Horray and horrah! She’s here and we’re both still kicking!!
She’s alive, not purple, not screaming (more than normal, anyway), she doesn’t need immediate surgery…
The euphoria lasted about 48 hours or so…
Then reality sunk in.
We have 4 kids. A big house. A busy life. Coming off of an insanely turbulent pregnancy where every day was a battle of will and prayer. A gut-wrenching, throat-punch to despair every waking moment of every waking day for the better part of a year.
My nerves were shot. My body felt broken (which is normal for postpartum. You just overcame impossible obstacles with your body to bring life into the world).
It crept in slowly then all at once.
“I don’t want to get out of bed.”
Then it was, “I don’t want to make food anymore.”
Then it was, “Can we keep the drapes closed? I don’t want to see the light.”
Climbing the stairs to change the wash to the dryer felt too much. Looking at the pile of clean clothes that needed folding brought me to tears.
Seeing people happy brought me to tears. I didn’t want to talk on the phone. I didn’t get back to people who reached out to me. Not because I was busy. But because I was in despair and darkness.
I was slowly insulating and isolating myself, and I didn’t even realize it until my doctor looked into my eyes and asked me how I was.
“Martha. I’ve known you for 6 years. We’ve gotten to be friends during that time.”
I lost it. I unloaded how everything felt so heavy and I didn’t have any desire for ANYTHING anymore. It wasn’t just tiredness. It wasn’t even just sadness. It had crossed into the realm of terrifying.
She was leaving the country for a medical mission shortly after that, and I was scared silly of being without her during that low spot. I had never been so low after giving birth (and I’ve given birth a time or two).
She reassured me that these things were NORMAL. She encouraged me to reach out during the hardest times. She shone a light to my darkness. The darkness I had been in denial about. She told me that intervention was nothing to be ashamed of but that it was brave and took courage.
Now, depression is not something to scoff at. It isn’t all ‘in your head’. Many times there is a legitimate physical cause. If you are struggling, I strongly recommend seeking help from a competent professional. This is not a road to walk alone.
But I also recommend assembling a crew. A courage crew, if you will. Folks who perhaps have walked this road before and are on the other side. Someone who will not belittle you or your situation. Someone who will look at the scary WITH you and say with Samwise Gamgee, “I can’t carry it for you, Mr. Frodo, but I CAN carry you!!” And storm the fires of Mount Doom WITH you.
Life is intense. The battles we face are not light or petty. Sometimes there is real spiritual warfare occurring. Satan WANTS to destroy us. He is the father of lies and he feeds said lies to us as a steady diet.
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Sometimes there are real PHYSICAL battles being waged… Ones that require outside help.
There should be zero shame in seeking help. We are ALL human and there is no one who is immune to struggle and frailty. Anyone who derides someone for seeking help is in denial themselves. Denial that help is required to get through this thing called life.
Through my struggle, I realized I needed something productive to engage my mind as well as my hands.
I started binge watching soap-making videos on YouTube (shoutout to Royalty Soaps! You are the absolute best!)
I slowly began to feel different parts of my brain start to function healthily again. But it was a process of many months!! It definitely was not overnight.
Three days postpartum I wanted to give up on life.
When my baby celebrated her first birthday, I had learned how to make cold process soap competently, had started a business, and had learned to come out of my shell on so many levels.
All this to say, if you are struggling, your TODAY does not determine your ultimate destiny. You are WILDLY capable, my friend.
In fact, Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.“
Christ does the strengthening. We do the physical doing through His empowerment.
Some practical tips to try if you are in a rut or feel yourself slinking to unhealthy places of discouragement or depression:
*Remember. Remember who you are. Remember how God has led in the past. Remember He is the same God today as when those awesome things happened before. Remember you are loved. Remember you are wanted. Remember you are a human with limitations. Remember it’s ok (and healthy!!) to ask for help.
*Take a walk. Fresh air and exercise are proven winners to boost mood and overall health! You don’t need to go fast. Just go.
*Take inventory. When was the last time you had a shower? Are you drinking enough water? When was the last *GOOD* meal you had? How has your sleep been? Pinpointing a physical deficit can sometimes be super helpful! Sometimes we feel like giving up when really what we need most are food and rest.
*Check in!! Call a trusted friend. Text a counselor or ministry leader. Reaching outside of the confines of our own bubble can prove enormously beneficial!
*Take some time for triage. Like they do at the emergency room. Everyone’s needs seem pressing, but a severed limb is different than a slight cough. Some things need to be addressed NOW. Some can wait. Some can be completely thrown out the window! Constantly taking inventory on what is an actual NEED and what can be done away with.
This could also involve simplifying life for a time. I am a budget NERD. I am all for doing things yourself to save money. But your time and sanity are worth way more than the money devoted to some ease at a time of struggle, transition, or downright crisis.
Budget for things like:
-premade meals. You can purchase healthy ones from Costco. Pre-made salads with everything chopped and ready to go. Organic chicken nuggets or chicken strips for the kids. Frozen spring rolls that are easy to thaw and heat. Frozen hash browns for breakfast or even the premade breakfast sandwiches. Remember, this is for a time. Remind yourself (especially if you are one who does everything ‘from scratch’) that this is for a TIME. To help you while you adjust. Things WILL settle down.
-multiple laundry hampers (one for each bedroom so there is never one CRAZY overflowed basket but many smaller ones. It’s a mental thing. It works. At least for me )
-if any appliances are not working (particularly dishwasher or washer/dryer) PAY TO GET THEM FIXED. You don’t need to be doing everything by hand right now.
*Take people up on their offers to help. And don’t feel bad about it. Shame on anyone who offers who doesn’t mean it. If they ask, tell them what your biggest needs are. And LET THEM HELP. You know you would drop everything in a heartbeat to help them. Let them bless you.
*Grow something. Even if you think you have a ‘brown thumb’. Research something that is easy to grow, and go for it.
Walk slowly through a local greenhouse or garden store.
Take in the different sensory experiences.
What do you feel? Heat? Damp?
What do you smell? Soil?
What do you see? Color?
Is there a plant that is edible? Imagine it’s flavor…
Grounding yourself in and through nature is a helpful practice when you are struggling mentally/physically.
*Invest a few bucks into something like an essential oil diffuser and diffuse bright, cheerful things. Lime, peppermint, orange, or grapefruit are awesome options. It’s amazing how we connect scent to mood…
*Open the shades. Let the sunlight in. Vitamin D is so helpful in so many levels. Also-are you taking vitamins? *Should* you be taking them and have forgotten?? Maybe set an alarm on your phone to help you remember.
*Organize something small. You may not be able to conquer a whole room. So conquer a corner of it. Do you have a ‘chairdrobe’ (a chair that doubles as a dumping place for your clothing?) Pick it up! It is amazing what a boost it is having one sore spot tidied.
*Pray. Seek God.
*Listen to music. Uplifting music. Not Debbie Downer music. You don’t need to be brought lower. Gentle, classical music or hymns. They aren’t my only stream of audio, but I am always in awe how those two genres will instantly lower my blood pressure.
*Do something artistic. Don’t feel creative? Order a kit with instructions! There are amazing kits nowadays on painting, candle-making, wood-crafting, soap-making, you name it! They’ve got it. Having a creative outlet is a beautiful way to process struggle.
Thank you so much for joining me today for this lengthy heart-to-heart chat. You are not alone, my friend. Ever.
You can find me at Blue Haven Soapery on Facebook, sharing uplifting encouragement daily. Because my business was born out of discouragement and depression, my daily mission is to ENCOURAGE. Bring hope. Shine a light in the dark places of life.
“Courage, dear heart.” C.S. Lewis
Written by Martha Harder
FB: Blue Haven Soapery
That’s right, I am going to call you out on being your own worst enemy and biggest reason why you struggle.
Just remember, I am calling you out from a place of love (and from experience ;)).
I know you have heard it a thousand times but let this be your one thousandth and one time.
YOU CANNOT FUNCTION WELL WHEN YOUR BASIC NEEDS ARE NOT BEING MET.
Here is the thing, we can be a mental health guru but if we are not doing these three things, our mental health tools will not work as well.
Just like having a blender is great but if you don’t have power to get the blender going, it is kind of useless.
Similarly, if your car doesn’t have a battery, even if everything else is good, your car will not work without the battery.
So, let’s talk about the first one.
Adequate sleep is crucial for mental health. I am not talking about 8 crappy hours of sleep or 5 good hours, I am talking about quality sleep for a solid 7-9 hours.
If you struggle with sleep, I highly recommend starting a bedtime routine. It will help your body settle and know when it is time to sleep. You may want to listen to a nighttime meditation, do a short nighttime yoga stretch routine or maybe just relax in bed. You may want to try a chamomile tea or warm milk. Find what works to you and practice it DAILY.
I am no nutritionist but I do know that how we fuel our body has a huge impact on our mindset. If we eat like crap, we feel like crap. If we do not provide our body with the essentials to function well, it will not function well.
Now, please do not confuse eating well with dieting. Dieting involves rigidity and restriction. Eating well comes from a place of abundance and love for ourselves that we want to fuel it well so that it feels well. It comes from a place of enjoying yummy food that also has health benefits.
Lastly, if we are moving our bodies, every part of us feels better. Movement does not necessarily mean exercise, though it can. It can also mean stretching, walking, gardening or really anything where your body is moving with intention and purpose. There are some who intense physical activity may be most appropriate, for others that would stress their bodies too much and they need something less intense. Notice what is going on in your body and which type of movement feels best for you (and it may change over time).
I know these are basics and that we have talked about them before but I think this week we all needed this reminder, myself included.
If you need help with your mental health, don’t forget I am here to support you. I have two courses to help you on your healing journey. You can check them out here.
You are worth it!
In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to all the mamas, grandmas, aunties and other women who play a crucial role in children’s lives.
Moms really do set the tone of the house, the family and the environment. The saying “when mama ain’t happy, no one is happy” is true in many households.
I know that when I am stressed, overwhelmed and on edge, it has a ripple effect on everyone else in the house (including the dogs ;)).
In fact, I recently had this happened. I had just gotten home after being in the hospital with one of my boys for a few days, with no answers as to what was going on with his health issues and more questions and fears than ever.
I stepped into the kitchen and my house was a wreck. That was the breaking point for me. All of the stress, anxiety, fear and chaos from the last few days caught up to me and it leaked out everywhere.
Within minutes of being home, one of my other sons was acting out, one was crying and the other one was yelling for attention. I went into my office and cried. How was I going to be able to handle it all? I didn’t feel like I had anything left in me.
I finally regained my composure after chugging a Diet Coke (my dysfunctional comfort of choice) and taking a minute. I knew that my kids were feeding off of my energy and if I wanted any resemblance of peace and sanity in my home, it was up to me to make the shift.
So, I decided to say “screw it”. The house was going to stay a mess and instead, I was going to spend some intentional time with my two boys that I had been away from for the last few days and fill their cup and would worry about the rest later. I knew I couldn’t do it all at that moment and so I had to choose what was most important to me. And while the dishes in the sink and the piles of laundry on the floor needed to be tended to, my kids needed me more.
My attitude was going to set the tone for everyone in the house and I had to choose what was most important.
I love what Christy Wright says. She says “what is right, right now?”. Something may be the right thing to do but if the timing is not right, it is not the right thing to do. In life, in our homes, in our parenting, it is our job to evaluate our priorities and remember the most important role in our life, the role of motherhood.
So today as you go through your day, keep that in your mind. Remind yourself of your priorities in this season and the timing of your choices.
It won’t be like this forever.
If you are the grandma or the friend, the auntie or the cousin, you also play an important role. You get to support the mamas in your life in their role, be the confidant, the second pair of hands and the sanity saver. Raising children requires a village and you play a crucial role in that village. Don’t minimize your importance because you do matter.
If you are a mama, auntie, friend etc. and you want a way to nurture yourself and embrace your role more but are struggling with anxiety or boundaries, I have just the courses for you!
You can check out the boundaries course here or the anxiety course here.
You are worth it!
It Is A Big Deal
I had a birthday in February and it was a big day for me.
See, in my entire 33 years of life, I have NEVER dyed my hair. Not a highlight, lowlight or touch of color has ever been on my hair.
However, I finally needed to bite the bullet and color my hair because the grays were a little too evident (not knocking those with gray hair, I just wasn’t ready for that yet). So, I decided to do some subtle highlights to help blend the grays. It was such a big deal for me!
But guess what?!? No one noticed. Seriously, even my kids were like “It looks the same mom”. I really think my own mom would not have noticed if I hadn’t told her. My husband noticed but honestly I am not sure if he really did or just gave me the reaction he knew I wanted since he knew I was coloring it that day and it was a big deal to me.
I was expecting this big reaction from people because it was a big deal to me and honestly, I was a little disappointed that no one saw it.
The same happened when I bought a leopard print shrug. It was a BIG deal to me because usually I tend to wear pretty neutral clothing that does not stand out. I am not a fan of being the center of attention but I wanted to nudge myself out of my comfort zone and so I bought it.
What was a big deal to me was not to anyone else and I got sad. I started to feel silly for the things that were big to me.
And then I realized, it is still big to me and I need to celebrate that and not expect others to do the celebrating for me.
I got out of my comfort zone with my hair and my outfit and challenged myself in ways I have not before.
That change, while small to some, was big for me.
The same may be true for you.
Maybe saying your affirmations daily for a week or starting a morning routine are a big deal to you.
We don’t need others to affirm our growth or change for it to be big to us. We don’t need others to notice for what we are doing for it to be important. Even if no one notices your increased confidence or your sense of peace, it is still just as big of a deal!
NEVER downplay the progress you make because others don’t notice. It is just as important, even if no one else sees it.
You are working hard and your growth is important.
You are worth it!
If you have not already, check out the blog post about celebrating your wins here.
What I Learned From Pulling Weeds
I recently was pulling the weeds in my front yard and the weeds were so bad I couldn’t see my own feet. Seriously, check out the picture....
It was awful and overwhelming. I procrastinated tackling it for many weeks because the thought of all of the work that needed to be done completely crippled me. But, eventually the pain of seeing the weeds was too much and I finally began the arduous process.
As I started making progress, I could start to see my feet (and the rocks) better but it took a lot of freaking work to finally only see my feet and the rocks. I am not talking ten minutes, I mean hours and hours spread out over many weeks (the weeds were REALLY bad).
As I progressed, seeing parts of the yard clear of weeds motivated me to do more and more. I started to believe I could really clean my yard of the weeds.
When I was finally done, I was so relieved! My yard looked pretty again and I had accomplished a HUGE task that had been weighing on me.
As I was pulling the weeds, I was convicted about how often I get overwhelmed by what needs to get done that I end up doing nothing at all. I become paralyzed by the big picture instead of breaking it into little chunks.
In all honesty, this happened to me with more than the weeds recently. In the fall I had decided that I needed to create a course on anxiety. I saw so many women struggling with anxiety and wanted to provide them relief because they do not have to be crippled by their anxiety. There are tools that will help! But, the thought of creating a course felt so overwhelming. So…. I procrastinated and procrastinated. Then, after Christmas I decided I couldn’t put it off any more.
So, what did I do?
I broke into smaller tasks.
First, I gave myself a month to create a detailed outline so I knew what each module would look like. I also scheduled and filmed an amazing yoga video exclusively for the course (don’t worry, I am not in the video, a professional yoga instructor is).
The next month, I worked on the workbook (which is really thorough and I am so excited for you to see it!).
From there, I recorded the videos and got ready for launch day!
While it seemed overwhelming looking at the big picture, when I broke it into smaller steps, it wasn’t so overwhelming.
You can do the same thing too! What is something you have been procrastinating because it feels too overwhelming? Maybe it is decluttering your house, starting a new business or planning for a big event. Whatever it is, take a deep breath. You can do this.
First, create a deadline for the big picture to be completed.
Then work backwards. What needs to be done by the deadline? Break it up into small sections and assign a realistic timeframe for it to be done with each task building off of the last. Often, I find that people break apart what needs to be done but still have too big of chunks so you may need to break up each section into even smaller sections so it is easier to accomplish.
Before you know it, you will on your way to accomplishing your goal. You’ve got this!
If you are as excited as I am about my NEW course, The Courage To Confront Anxiety-A holistic guide to anxiety treatment, sign up here NOW!
This guide will break down anxiety treatment in small sections that are easy to digest so that you can ditch the anxiety and embrace peace.
You are worth it!
Anxiety sucks, I get it. I have suffered at times with my own anxiety and have also helped countless other people work through their anxiety. While everyone experiences anxiety differently, have different triggers and different ways their anxiety shows up, there are three main ways I see people contributing to their anxiety in unhelpful ways.
First, you have a chaotic environment. Gretchen Rubin has a book called Outer Order, Inner Calm (link here) and has done a ton of research on how your outer environment impacts your inner experiences. Even if you think you are clutter blind (love that term) and it doesn’t bother you, I am betting it does. When you are in chaos, it inevitably penetrates into inner turmoil. Just think about it, do you notice a difference when you walk into a clean house versus when you walk into a house that looks like it was just hit by a tornado? Yes! That is because your surroundings play a role in our feelings.
Just like outer chaos impacts your inner state, so does what you think about. Are you one of those people that doesn’t write things down because you think you will remember and then forget or can’t remember what you were supposed to remember? That aids in our anxiety in huge ways because we are anxious about forgetting something or are not adequately prepared with what we need when we do not remember. That is why the second way you are making your anxiety worse is through your mental clutter.
The third way you are making your anxiety worse is by trying to do it all by yourself. This could look many different ways. Maybe you are anxious at work because you don’t know how you are going to get everything done when if you asked for help, you wouldn’t be so anxious. Or maybe you are trying to take care of the house, the kids and pets all at the same time and if you just asked your spouse, a friend or family member for support you would be able to lower your anxiety because you would not be so overwhelmed.
The way I commonly see this play out is with therapy. People don’t reach out for help with their mental health for a variety of reasons but if they would, they would experience so much more peace.
That is why I created my new course The Courage To Confront Anxiety-A Holistic Guide To Anxiety Treatment. Maybe you aren’t ready to talk to someone but you know changes need to happen or maybe you are in therapy but want to focus on holistic care. This course will help you learn to minimize your anxiety and increase your peace.
If you want to learn more about the course, you can visit here.
If you aren’t ready, that is okay. Pay attention to these three ways you make your anxiety worse and start making changes so you are working for yourself instead of against yourself.
You are worth it!
Jocelyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and course creator who desires to help clients heal and grow into who God created them to be.
Providing holistic mental health
counseling to help you find healing
and live courageously.