Quiet Moments for Introspection

Sometimes in our incredibly busy lives we must find ways to carve out time for introspection. Without these quiet moments to reflect and assess, how can we expect to achieve personal growth. While many will argue about how life changing technology has been for us as a society, it has also made it more difficult for us to feel comfortable with solitude.

Being more mindful, acknowledging our weaknesses, and giving ourselves permission to learn from our missteps, starts with a willingness to love ourselves. Most of us, as women, are incredibly hard on ourselves. We scrutinize, nit pick, and harp on ourselves, when we really should appreciate, own, and celebrate our strengths. Love yourself for who you are.

love yourself

When you look in the mirror, be proud of the woman staring back at you. Smile, pat yourself on the back, and remind yourself that, “you’ve got this!” Too often we undervalue our talents, strengths, and abilities. Embrace them wholeheartedly! I’ll borrow powerful words from a powerful woman who has inspired many with her beautiful prose. As per Maya Angelou, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

Fixating on our flaws, dwelling on the negative, and wallowing in self-pity rarely propels us forward. Our happiness comes from our own desire to persevere through the difficult times, high five ourselves when we overcome adversity, and offer gratitude for the beautiful moments that touch our lives. We are the author’s of our own story. Appreciate the importance of the pencil as you write, it allows you the opportunity to revise, edit, erase, and rewrite the negative parts of your story; infusing your rewrite with radiance, light, and positivity.

make it

We only have one chance at this life we live. Dream big, love fiercely, sprinkle in spontaneity, and celebrate your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down, ruffle some feathers every now and then, and give yourself permission to go off script from time to time. While structure and regimentation often play a critical role in overall success, we have to appreciate and even laugh at the flawed parts of ourselves that make us who we are. Find time to let go sometimes and take life as it comes!

dance in the rain

When we allow ourselves quiet moments in our busy lives to pause even for the briefest moments, we open our hearts and minds to personal insight, reflection, and honesty. There are countless ways to find solace in our solitude whether through prayer, mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, or quiet contemplation. Slow down and hit the pause button from time to time. You just might surprise yourself with what you discover!

every day

Be your best self and know that every day is a new opportunity for self-improvement, self-love, and self-acceptance.

 

The Beauty in Imperfections

Parenting is an intricate tapestry tied together with delicate stitches of many varying colors. As parents, we are called to guide our children to be their best selves. This task is one we do not take lightly. It requires infinite amounts of patience, immeasurable amounts of love, and unwavering support every step of the way.

Even with all of these tools in our back pocket, sometimes our children will misstep. These moments will test our wills and make us question our parenting abilities. For mothers in particular, this can prove to be a deeply personal struggle. The internal monologue in our heads can ring loud and often make us feel like we’re somehow letting our children down by not serving as a better model along the way.

But just like us, our children are human. Like us, they make mistakes of varying degrees each and every day. For our children, the takeaway at the end of the misstep is the most important part of the journey. An integral part of their personal growth comes from recognizing and accepting the error they made. With acceptance, they can put their best foot forward to make a more positive choice when they find themselves in a similar situation. Children, however, are not always quick learners. Their innate curiosity may guide them to push boundaries and test limits to see if the outcome or consequence will change.

Through it all, our role as parents should never waiver. We are there to love, support, model, and guide our children every step of the way. When they fail, we pick them up, dust them off, sprinkle in words of wisdom, and send them back out into the world to do it all over again.

Remember, Mama Bears, parenthood is a calling that comes with immense power and infinitesimal amounts of responsibility. There is no manual to consult for the answers to our lingering questions about raising amazing children. We can only ever take it one-day-at-a-time. Love fiercely, support deeply, and accept our own faults as parents. We are not perfect parents so we cannot expect to have perfect children. And if we look closely enough we will recognize how much beauty truly lies in life’s imperfections!

Unwavering, Unconditional, & Unfaltering

This week work proved to be incredibly challenging. On more than one occasion, I left work holding back tears that came pouring out as soon as I hit the freeway. Being a counselor, places difficult situations in your lap almost every day. In the course of a day, you are often pulled in numerous directions. It can be emotionally draining and oftentimes thankless work, but my heart guides me every step of the way.

As a mother, my heart broke this week for two students I have been working with all year. Motherhood is a gift, I am so incredibly blessed to have in my life. In sharing stories with my friends who are mothers, all of them share the same sentimentality. We love our children deeply, fiercely, and unconditionally. Motherhood is not always a cakewalk, but whether our children are fifteen months old or fifteen, our children need us to walk with them, accept them, respect them, and love them.

Maintaining confidentiality is an important part of my role as a counselor, so I cannot get into specifics as to why my heart goes out to these students. However I can encourage and motivate the mothers reading this to consider what I’m about to say so that their children alway feel love and supported.

Motherhood tests us each and every single day. Our children will make mistakes, but more importantly we will too. Forgiveness is such an important part of our role as mothers. First we must forgive ourselves for our shortcomings, and then we must forgive our children for theirs.

As our children get older, they will push boundaries more than we might like. They might frustrate us and at times anger us. Don’t lose heart, Mama Bears. Remember it’s part of the job description. We might be tempted to cast judgement in our times of anger. We might have a hard time holding our tongue. It will take incredible self-control, but we absolutely must be mindful of what we say to our children. We cannot take back what we say. Our words have great power and can create mistrust and great heartache for our children. We will not always agree with our children’s actions, decisions, or lifestyle choices. No matter what though, they are our children. We must remember every step of the way how our children deserve to feel safe, secure, and supported.

Our work as a mother requires unwavering patience, unconditional love, and unfaltering support. In infancy, while toddling, growing into childhood, and then blossoming into adolescence, our children need their mother’s love in its purest and truest form. My work with high school students has made that more evident than ever. Be that pillar of support and love they so desperately need even when they seem too big to need it anymore. They will forever be our babies, and our babies will always need their mamas!

mama

An Open Letter to Myself

Allowing ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable isn’t always easy. Tonight’s open letter to myself offers a candid and heartfelt message of self love and working through challenging moments in our life. It’s addressed to me, but I sincerely believe many of the women who read this post may see themselves in parts of this letter. Writing this for me proved to be incredibly cathartic. My hope is that in reading this letter, you too walk away recognizing how beautiful, accomplished, and amazing you are.

Dearest Heidi,

I know you set out every single day to be your very best self. There are times when you fall short of your expectations and no one is harder on you then when you let the thoughts in your head marinate. You often stew in those thoughts for far too long and carry them around until they feel burdensome and heavy.

Cut yourself some slack. You do so many wonderful things for your family, friends, colleagues, and students. You’re going to slip up sometimes. You’re going to walk into a bad day and it might take an extra glass of wine, an extra mile, or a long, hot bath to walk out of that bad day. But like every challenge you’ve ever met, you will get through it.

Like so many women who have come before you and like so many who will come after you, sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. Walk away from the challenge to regain your composure and work up the courage to start tackling it again. Don’t forget to lean on the people who love you and care about you. You look out for those you love and care about, and those beautiful people who you call friends are there to do the same when you need a little push, some extra reassurance, or a shoulder to cry on. At its core, that’s what friendship is for- lean into it, take the support when you need it, and return the favor when it’s your turn to catch them when they’re down!

You are an amazing woman, but you still need to remember that you are not a superhuman. Some days you will misstep. In your frustration, you might raise your voice when your children test your patience. Don’t lose heart. This doesn’t make you a bad mother. Motherhood will test you in ways you never knew imaginable. There will be days you want to pull your hair out, and there will be days where you wish the beautiful moments with your family didn’t ever have to end. Take it one day at a time. Soak it all up; the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.  As much as you want to do it all. Sometimes something has to give. If it means the dirty dishes stay in the sink overnight or the laundry stays in the dryer for a few extra days until you find the time to fold it, so be it. There will always be tomorrow until there isn’t. Fixating over every little to do is only going to weigh you down.

Love yourself inside and out. Do more of what makes you happy. Surround yourself with positive people. Dream big and work hard. Love fiercely and tell the people in your life who matter the most how much you love them. Give thanks and offer gratitude for your blessings. Respect others even when you may not see eye-to-eye with them. Be proud of who you are. Shower your loved ones with smiles, love, and simple acts of kindness. Cook often. Enjoy good wine with even better company! Kiss your children and your husband every single day.

Remember that every day is a blank slate. The opportunity to hit restart and do it all over again. Slow down enough to savor the little things before you blink and they’re gone. Do one thing for yourself every day- even if it’s just appreciating a sunset in solitude or savoring a cup of coffee before everyone else in the house is awake. Put your best foot forward every day, and get out there and do you!

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With love,

Mama Bear

Choose Kindness

Why do some women thrive on breaking other women down? It’s a question I’ve reflected on for most of my life, and nearly 35 years later I still feel quite perplexed by all of it.

mean girls

I can think of a handful of mean girls who thrived on unkindness in middle school and high school. I remember on more than one occasion pouring my heart out to my mother as tears rolled down my face about how unbearable it felt to face the cruelty of these mean spirited girls. I know I certainly hoped that after high school, girls would outgrow this phase and I wouldn’t have to lose sleep over their antics.

darling

Even into adulthood, I’ve faced my fair share of mean girls. They thrive on the drama of bringing others down. Oftentimes fueled by jealousy, they bring their toxicity, mean spiritedness, and general crappy disposition into the workplace and it lingers like a bad cold that just won’t go away.

stronger in the places

As a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, and a professional, I’m always taken aback by these types of women. Are they really so unhappy that they need to rain our parade of happiness? Why do they feel like they have a right to act this way and treat others so poorly?

woman

Even as a counselor, I don’t have all of the answers. There is undoubtedly a significant amount of insecurity, unhappiness, and anger they are enmeshed in. I work with high school girls who struggle with mean girls just like I did when I was in their shoes. It’s significantly worse now as a result of social media. So few people today filter their comments, think twice about how their words can cut someone else, or even seem to bat an eye when they take it too far.

i wish

I write this piece today for two separate but also distinctly important reasons. First and foremost, all women deserve to be respected and appreciated for who they are. Each of us has unique talents and gifts that we share with the world and someone else shouldn’t think it’s okay to step in and try to break someone down for being true to themselves. Most of my readers are women doing their very best every day to put their best foot forward and make a positive difference in the world. The last thing we should be trying to do is break down one of our own.

people can be mean 2

Secondly, encouraging and propagating negative behavior only stirs the pot more and makes mean girls and mean women for that matter continue to behave in this manner. It starts with each and every one of us. Stop giving them a platform. Stop giving them an audience. Stop letting them think it’s okay to break down other women in any other capacity. Our lives as women, wives, mothers, and friends should be about bringing out the best in ourselves and others. We don’t know what kinds of struggles and hardships another individual is carrying with them into work, Wal-Mart, or Wendy’s. It is not our place to judge, mistreat, or berate someone else.

collaborate

You might be wondering what prompted me to address this topic today? In truth, I’m quite frustrated by a mean spirited coworker who has been trying to break my own spirits. Her underhanded behavior has definitely gotten under my skin. However I refuse to let her ruffle my feathers enough to stoop down to her level. I will hold my head high, continue to pour myself passionately into my work as a counselor, and kill her with kindness. On my best days, I walk away from work completely unaffected by her behavior. On my worst days, I have a few choice words I use as I vent to my mom on the drive home.

be kind even to

Even in darkness, kindness makes the world a better place. Today, tomorrow, and the day after that, start throwing kindness around like it’s confetti. Put an end to encouraging the drama queens and mean girls of the world. Squelch out their voice with your kind words, explosive optimism, and beautiful smile.

here's to

 

In my Head

As a counselor, I spend a significant amount of energy encouraging others to approach life with optimism. Our heads and hearts benefit from positive thinking that builds us up and allows us to grow. When we allow negative thinking to permeate our thoughts, it clouds our perspective and ultimately brings us down.

a negative mind will never

But just like everyone else, I am human too. I think and feel deeply about the things I am most passionate about. When my personal emotions set it, oftentimes rational thinking is the first thing to fall apart at the seams.

if you realized

A situation at work today with a parent undoubtedly rattled my chains to the core. Behind closed doors, anger gave way to frustration which quickly gave way to tears. As a counselor, there is nothing I value more than my professional integrity and unconditional positive regard for the students, parents, and colleagues I work with. When someone tries to diminish my character or invalidate my intentions, I find it unsettling, degrading, and hurtful.

overthinking

Because this situation occurred at the very end of the day, I composed myself enough to open the door to my office and sneak out of the back entrance.   On my drive home, I hoped loud, upbeat music would allow my negative feelings to subside. In situations like this, however, the counselor in me goes right out the window. I fixate on the negative, let it marinate for far too long, and eventually find myself completely unable to avoid the thoughts in my head.

the mind is everything

Tonight even after my five mile run underneath a blanket of beautiful stars, I still couldn’t shake the negativity I was carrying. Because I still have to confront this issue again tomorrow, it’s highly unlikely the dust will settle overnight. Going against all of the guidance and insight I offer my students, I’m wallowing in negative thinking and letting it get the best of me.

your mind is a positive

It’s time to kick this pity party to the curve. This Mama Bear may be down, but she’s not broken. I will do my best to tuck away these negative feelings until tomorrow because quite frankly they’ve taken up enough of my afternoon and evening. Perhaps some meditation over the following quotes will help put things in perspective for me. “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s trouble, [but] it [certainly took] away today’s peace.” Here’s to a new day, the power of positive thinking, and the silver linings in life that bring radiance and light in those darker moments!