Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back to School Balance

Have you seen the Back to School supplies lining the store shelves? If you have older kids, that probably fills you with relief as you imagine peaceful days in a clean house while your children learn and play on someone else's watch. My husband's favorite commercial of all time shows a father walking through STAPLES with children in tow, shopping for school supplies. The children are all frowns, but the father is grinning from ear to ear as he dances through the store while "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" plays in the background.


That's not my life. We have chosen to homeschool with the help of some fantastic part time support programs.  So when the school supplies show up in the stores, it's time for me to not only fill out registrations, but pay tuition as well as order books. It's time to choose a math program, make student planners, set up learning spaces in the house, and prepare myself for 9 months of strict schedule adherence. That's the easy part. The tricky part is figuring out how to deliver 4 children to their respective locations at 4 different schools on 4 different schedules. Then add in an early morning religion class and three afternoon choir rehearsals along with driving hours for two new drivers.  I looked more like this.




Are you feeling stressed yet? So was I. As a matter of fact, as I focused on my children's needs for the coming year, I had a full blown anxiety attack, something I haven't experienced in years. My wonderful husband noticed my distress and asked sweetly "Do you want me to rub some oils into your feet?" I love that man. He grabbed a bottle of Balance and began massaging a few drops into the bottoms of my feet and I immediately felt grounded. My heart rate slowed, the spinning in my head stopped, and I could think. Then something really cool happened. I received a text from a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy with this message

"Can you come rub oils into my feet? Last time you did, I felt almost human again."

I was supposed to be planning the year, making dinner, balancing the budget, and entertaining company all in the next two hours. I wasn't sure if I had it in me, but my husband had great insight. "You are feeling anxiety because you feel out of control, like you can't manage the school year. Serving someone is something you CAN do. It will make you feel better. Go. I will make the soup".

So I grabbed my oils and I went. And guess what? He was right. I felt a hundred times better. This experience confirmed to me again the importance of focusing on our own health and state of mind first. Do my children need a great education? Yes. Do they need dinner? Yes. Does the budget need to be balanced? Yes. But more than anything, I need to be balanced, so I can do all of those important things.  If you are feeling like the picture above, and you are new to doTERRA,  and you want to try a little Balance, send me a message and i'll get you a sample.

Want to go a little deeper? Join us for Chakra Balancing with Essential Oils this Thursday at 7pm in Meridian. RSVP for details.

Friday, July 25, 2014

WHY Heal mom First?

Here is a picture of me and my oldest daughter.. Perhaps you can see the resemblance. It is obvious that I have passed on huge amounts of genetic coding to her. She has my facial structure, my eyes, my build. She shares a preference for short hair and funky colors. She somehow inherited my habit of incessant hair twirling. She is fantastic at analyzing literature, public speaking and cooking as well. All characteristics which we share. So you can see that we pass on both physical and behavioral characteristics, good and bad.


If we accept the fact that we "pass down" these characteristics to our children, is it also reasonable to assume that we pass down predispositions for health or illness? Why does your doctor always want your family health history before he will see you? He understands that disease runs in families. So if you are looking to heal some health issue in the family you are raising, there's a good chance that the foundation for that issue was laid before that child was even born. Of primary concern is the health of the Mother. For instance, A child born to a  mother who was exposed to second hand smoke during her pregnancy is significantly more likely to develop asthma in their lifetime. What you may not have know, is that the child of that child, who was never personally exposed to second hand smoke, is also at increased risk for asthma.  So, if we want to create families that are physically healthy, the most important place to start is with the health of the mom. 

Now i'd like to talk about emotional health. As I have filled out numerous intake forms over the past 15 years, I have been shocked by one question they always ask-"What was the mother's attitude toward the pregnancy?" It seems like a very abstract question of little relevance over a decade later, doesn't it? Here is why it matters. What if I were incredibly stressed during my pregnancy because I was experiencing financial struggle, or I was working full time and felt a lot of guilt over that? Those emotions create chemical changes inside of my brain that in turn create physical changes in my body. The fetus forming inside of me is exposed to all of those chemicals (increased cortisol, decreased seratonin) and that child's brain forms differently because of that exposure. If I am totally hooked on root beer floats during a pregnancy and consume them with reckless abandon, the child I am carrying is at elevated risk for diabetes, low thyroid, and a host of other metabolic problems. My intent here is not to create guilt in mothers who had difficult pregnancies or whose children are (heaven forbid) already born. I simply want to establish that there is a logical basis for focusing on the health of mother before we look to her children. Fair enough?

Now stay with me as I bring this out of the abstract and into the raw truth.  I get a call from a mom who has a child who is creating a lot of discontent at home because he has some behaviors that she thinks are consistent with ADHD. He acts impulsively, has intense emotional outbursts, and can't seem to get his school work done to save his life. He annoys his siblings,  bullies the neighborhood kids, and makes his scout leaders cry. She wants to know what she should do to help him. I can give this mom a protocol that has been demonstrated many times over to help with the symptoms she has shared. They are scientifically proven to alter brain chemistry and improve behavior.  They also require buy-in from the child, some changes in diet, and consistent application. And where does the responsibility for all these things fall? You got it. On mom. On the tired, frustrated, discouraged, burnt out and sometimes angry mom. She has been trying her best to function on not enough sleep and no time to herself. These factors are surely making the child's symptoms worse as he picks up on her agitation and impatience. She struggles to provide consistency which he so desperately needs. She has nothing left to give, so how can I possibly ask her to give more? I can't. Not until I help her reach a place of balance and peace within herself. When she is well supported and her needs are being met, then, and only then, can we begin to address her son's problems, which likely look very different from a place where she is balanced and happy. So if you have a child who you desperately want to help, and you are consulting every specialist you can find to heal him. Do me a favor, help yourself first. He will thank you in the end.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Upside-Down Parenting

I had an interesting experience the other day. I was having a conversation with one of the children in my life, and the child was hurling what they perceived to be damaging and intensely hurtful insults my direction "YOU think that YOU are God's gift to this family. YOU think that YOU are more important than anyone else. YOU think that somehow what YOU need is more important than what anyone else needs. It doesn't matter what I want if it doesn't agree with what YOU want. It doesn't matter what I want to wear if it doesn't agree with what YOU think is okay. YOU are a FAILURE of a mother."

A short year ago, these statements would have sent me into emotional turmoil. I would have been sobbing hysterically by the time we reached home. But on this day, you know what I sad? "You are absolutely right. All except the last part. I'm not a failure. I'm a great mom." And I believed every word.

Does that sit okay with you? Do you understand why it is right that a mother's needs should come first? That my dress standards supersede the children's fashion whims? That we have salad for dinner and not pizza every night? It's because I AM God's gift to the family, and it is my divine calling to make decisions that will be for the best and highest good of every member of it. I am not advocating greed and selfishness. I am advocating that the proper order of family life be restored. But I didn't start out this way. I grew into it. Let's go back in time about fifteen years....

I was part of the attachment parenting movement that was really flourishing in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid 1990's. The phrase "attachment parenting" was coined by Dr William Sears, who advocated wearing babies in a sling, as close to the body as possible, to promote closeness and connection in infancy. He taught that everything a baby really needs comes from his mother. Milk from mother's breast, warmth in her arms, and love from her heart. I loved wearing and nursing my babies. Dr Sears was an amazing and well balanced advocate for families. 

From this beginning, however, came an outgrowth of more extreme views, which went from respecting and loving the child to an almost worship of the child. Instead of promoting a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship, there came a demand for Mother and Father to sacrifice all privacy, intimacy, routine, boundaries, preferences, and pre-conceived ideals in order to accommodate the uniqueness (whims) of the child.  Refraining from physical punishment wasn't enough-a child could be equally damaged by a  time out or even a strong "NO." Parents needed to respect the actions and words of the child as an expression of their individuality. Don't stifle creativity for cleanliness. Just let them flourish. This created an upside down world where the child became the leader of the house, and Mother and Father assumed the responsibility of creating an environment that "fit" the personality of the individual child. This worked okay until child #2 came along. Then #3 and #4,  and with four small people under the age of 6 running the house 24/7,  all hell broke loose. 

I had four beautiful, free spirited, happy children, but I was depressed, full of anxiety, overwhelmed, and overweight. I was doing all the right things according to all of those books- we were building forts, and reading books, and taking walks, and baking cookies, and playing in the sprinklers,  but I was not okay. I was taking numerous prescription drugs in an attempt to lift the dark cloud of depression and anxiety, but I was still a mess. I was staying up late to get a few hours of "me"time after the kids went to bed and self-medicating my feelings of emptiness with sugar cookies and Haagen Dazs Ice cream. I swear I had an honorary Phd in Child development from all of the books I had read in an effort to create the perfect childhood for my kids, but I myself was a mess. So what was was the solution? I had to decide that it was okay for me to focus a little time on myself. Okay to put the kids to bed early so I could spend time alone. Okay to take the kids to day care at the gym so I could exercise for an hour every morning. Okay to feed them broccoli when they demanded Macaroni and Cheese. Okay to put me first.

If you are struggling right now in the same place I found myself and wondering how to climb out of the pit of overwhelm and depression, I am so glad you are here. I hope you will find tools and knowledge that will allow you to take control of your own destiny and claim health and happiness for yourself, and consequently for those you love.

Here are a few recommendations for those suffering from depression who need help now:

If you are local, Click on my "classes" page and find a time that works for you. All of my classes this month focus on some aspect of emotional healing for moms.

If you are not local, or cannot make a class, message me. I would love to connect with you and help you find a natural solution that will work for you.

Jeneen

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mom's under Attack

 You've all seen them...the professional family pictures taken outside with beautiful smiling parents and model-worthy children in matching outfits. They look like this:


The people in this photo are probably really kind people. They are probably wonderful neighbors and friends, but what do you feel when you see that picture? Come on, be honest. Do you feel the slightest twinge of "Why can't my hair be that perfect?" or 'Why don't my kids look like that?" or "She probably has a clean house." or "If only I wore a size 4, I could look that cute." Or maybe you just think "What a happy family, she must be a great mom."

I want to talk today about families and mothers. I happen to believe that families are the most important institution in the universe. They are the place where we learn everything about life, love, work, play, and more. In modern psychology, it seems like the family you were raised in is either the key to your success or responsible for all of your failures. 

In Western Society, the traditional family is under attack...From both sides. 

"Both sides?", you may ask.

 Yes, both. 

On the one hand, we have those individuals who believe that the traditional family unit is a relic of the 1950's. They see the gender roles as biased and constrictive. They believe that stay at home mothers are leeches who don't contribute to the economic health of our society and who really just need to get a job. From my perspective, this is such a ludicrous belief that it doesn't even register on my radar.  

There is also a less visible and in my opinion equally damaging belief which states that mothers are the most powerful figures in society and that it is of utmost importance that they be well educated, fit and healthy, beautiful, organized, faithful, and basically perfect in every way. And if mother is perfect in every way, then it naturally follows that her children will be too. If she just teaches them correctly and manages her home well, they will be happy, successful, hard working, beautiful, and well behaved. And what if a child is less than perfect? The mother must find some way to fix them. A new discipline system, a better chore chart, a new hobby, a tutor, more homework "support", a restricted diet. Another book, another blog, another specialist, another drug. And somewhere behind closed doors, mother is crumbling. She is so busy fixing everyone else that she has lost herself. She has become a casualty of the exalted calling of motherhood.

I have been caught in this trap. Two years ago, I found myself completely disillusioned and wondering where I had gone wrong. Let me clarify, that my husband, my children, my home...They were all perfectly normal. Not perfect, but normal. From the outside everything looked fine...



but on the inside, I was crumbling. I have had some amazing guides on the path to wholeness. As part of my personal journey, I have had the opportunity to learn much and to work with other women who are experiencing the same feelings of confusion, overwhelm, and frustration. I have found some powerful tools and hope that they can be of use to you as I share them here. "Heal Mom First" is the outgrowth of my quest to find and reclaim myself; one moment, one day, one week at a time. I am passionate about healing families, but I now understand that the only way we will heal the family is if we Heal Mom First.