Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Bill and I used to put together puzzles during the winter months. When it was too cold to go outside and we were feeling unmotivated and bored we would often get one out, spread it all out on our dining room table, sip on a cup of hot cocoa, and get to work. Choosing landscapes of somesort, the coutryside, a lighthouse on the shore. We would start of course on the corners, to the edges, putting that frame together was a huge accomplishemet. Paramount to completing the rest. Its one thing that we actually work together well on.

those 500-1000 piece puzzes never got put together in one night. never.

We would go through spurts and it would take days, weeks. looking at the puzzle a little before work, get one piece in. a little before dinner, a few more. then after, maybe several if we were feeling ambitious. TIme flies when working on it too. it feels like 5 minutes, when it as 2 hours. Only your back starts screaming after leaning over for copious amounts of time.

We haven't done this in a while, and certainly not this year while a small piece could fall to the floor and Little Buddy will inevitably find it before we do and give a new home in his mouth. The pieces don't fit so well after being bombarded by drool.

However Bill has been working with me on another puzzle.

As a counselor, I am always trying to figure people out. People and problems are puzzles of sorts. It takes time to see a clear picture. Sorry, its just in my nature.

And recently there has been a timeline and persona in my early  years that I am trying to piece together, that I have never bothered to consider before. Bill was even surprised. But putting this puzzle together, and then talking to a particular source, non-judgementally, may significantly help my ability to understand, empathize and heal in an area with a large scar. Both figurativly and literally.

Age 2 was a bit of a complicated mess. And a mystery.

And there is at least one thing I must figure out.

And sadly, until the mystery, the puzzle is solved, or sorted through, and picture becomes more clear, I can't say a whole lot more. And I hate crypic messages. And realize that is kind of what I am putting out here.

All that to say, an engineer and a counselor are working togther to solve it (yes, you read that right, he is helping me with psychology!!! unreal, eh). And maybe this is where we work well togther. 2 completely different functional halves of a brain. Putting another puzzle together.

No hot cocoa.

But some good bonding time.

Monday, January 28, 2013


The more I come to peace with myself, the less I engage in war with others

Thursday, January 24, 2013

running in the cold

Its difficult to even place my hand on the icy golden doorknob. Much less turn it to the right  or push the door open.

"its too early" "Ben needs to be napping"  "Ben needs to be fed" "has Ben gotton enough playtime?" "do I have enough time to do this?"

I peek over at our electronic weather center sitting atop the pub table to check the oudoor running conditions. "whats the temperature?" "will it get ANY warmer?" "whats the wind speed and directon?" Then I look out the window to our treeline at the edge of our property to see if the trees are moving too much.

I  rumage around our house, traversing our stairs a few times, to see if I have all of my gear.
phone? check
headphones? check
neckwarmer? check
gloves? check
head band/ear covers? (I have very sensative ears you know...) check
the right pants? extra layers?

With all of my questions answers and all of the stars alighned, then, only then, do I even reach for the door.

I step tentively out onto the stoop. I feel the slightest of breeze and cold tingle on the tip of my nose. And consider turning around.

 "Do I really want to do this?" "Its  sooo cold!" " I have an elliptical and bike in the comparaively much warmer basement." There is no biting wind in my basement.

Somewhere in the middle of my time-wasting negative self-talk, a message appears on my Iphone. According to Facebook, my sister just fininshed her 6 mile training run 5 minutes ago and 3 and a half hours south.

Thats all the motivation I need. That last push over the edge. I have to be able to keep up with her- step for step. Its a sister thing.

I promptly flick my thumb over the screen to the "music" app and hit play. The scroll over to Runkeeper and select "Begin Workout".

Face to the wind and with a 15 second delay, I'm out. Running. Cold. Healthy. Moving.

 Out of excuses.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To all the clients and therapists before

I would officially like to apologize to my former therapist.
It's been several years. I saw one while in grad school. For 2 reasons. 1 was because you are encouraged to as a counseling student. And of course I want to do what all good little counselors do. And really as a therapist, I should understand what it is to be the client.
2. It was during my moms decline and I was having some serious difficulty with guilt and being overwhelmed and over scheduled

It was so helpful for me and I know I am better now because of her help. Thank you Kathy!

However in the midst of it, I know I was a rough client. I understood the process somewhat and tested her and personally felt ridiculous, like as a counselor in training, I should already know the answers. Knowing the process adds a whole different dynamic to the counseling relationship I was resistant. I had a wall. I made her do a lot of work. I still cane every week . And I wonder if she really knows how great she was. I did though send her thank you notes along the way and have since sent her an update email.

I think about this now, later in my practice. 100 plus clients later. The fun, the difficult, the self-aware and clueless ones along the way. I have learned a good deal from each one. Grown and been stretched.

Where was I along the continuum for her? What, if anything, did she learn from me?

To My former therapist and to all of my past current and future clients :

Thank You

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Goal 4: Relationships

My 4th realm of mindfulness is in relationships.

This is pretty broad but I am going to narrow it down to
1. spouse
2. friends
3. family

(Ben got his own mindfulnes post)

1. Spouse:
They always say that marriages strain the most after the birth of a baby. And I can see why/how. All of the attention goes into baby, whereas it used to go into each other. Date nights or the ability to just get up and go on an adventure togther is significantly limited. Your partner wants your attention, but someone else NEEDS it.
However I think that being the best parents we can be includes being the best team that we can be. And I want to be that and improve in that. How can I be mindful of my time and relationship with my husband. ( I am open for suggestions)
A few ideas: 
  • again, limit my screen/online time to after hours if possible
  • Just "be". Be together. enjoy. sit side by side on the couch.
  • be intentional in my interactions. say "hi, how was your day" when he gets home, make it a positive interaction vs "i had to___ " or "you didn't ____" or other negative nonsense
  • try and get out and do more everyday stuff together. shopping, errands. Maybe even "gasp" a date night. we have really sucked at date night type activities in the past almost year.
2. Friends:
One of last years goals was to make new friends. I have come to the realization that I am not a "lots of friends" type of a person. More quality than quantity. And I have been floundering and the quality part lately, which is why I have felt rather disconected and isolated. And I have learned that just "being a parent" is not enough to go on to meeting people and making friends.
I have a couple of people close by who I would like to be more intentional about strengthening those friendships. Talking, walking, listening, little outings. There have been a few outings in the past few weeks that have just been lovely.
I have also joined this MOPS group. Yes, parents, but also hopefully some common interests in spirituality. Lets hope so.

3. Family:
Now that I have an expanding family, I am beginning to value family more, in all of its insane glory. Family isn't perfect, but it is important. Roots, connectedness, shared stories, genetics, etc. I want Ben to be a part of that.
I very much want to be more intentional about connecting with family, having time, energy having Ben know his family and seeing them.
With my family its a lot of webcam calls, which are always weird for me, but I can deal with that. I mainly put the camera on Ben so they can watch his antics and I talk off screen. And sending pictures via phone or emails. I need to do that more. Family who are reading this, feel free to remind/harrass me to do so if I am slacking. I will continue to be mindful of reminding my younger sister that she needs to move north!
And just an hour and 20 north are lots of my in-laws and Bens aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. I need to take advantage of those resources more and visit. I want Ben to KNOW them and have good memories and connections. And well, I just like them.

A lot of this is will be me initiating and doing, verses wishing what everyone else would do in relationships. I cannot expect anyone else to mind read or assume. It will force me out of my comfort zone in making people feel like they are wanted/needed/important/liked, which I am not so good at. I usually like to have a wall of apathy so if it seems I don't care, then I can't get hurt.

And what do you think I tell my clients about this kind of thing?

Yes therapist, take your own advice!

Friday, January 18, 2013

5 ways to succeed in your resolutions

It seems that sometimes we set goals and resolutions for the New Year, and before we know it , we are "cheating" or "failing" and get overwhelmed and disappointed and give up. I know, I have before.

So how can we avoid it? How can we actually accomplish our goals/resolutions?

Here are a few ideas to help succeed:

1. Write them down:  Those who write goals and BE SPECIFIC with them, are more likely to reach their goals than those who just think them or even say them. It phyisically gets the idea out. There is research and numbers on how much more likley you are to succeed in them, but I am not going to pretend to remember what they are.

2. Accountability aka "Phone a Friend": its so much easier to reach goals with help and encouragement. I found it easier to lose my baby weight after a friend called me and sad "lets do this together and check in every so often"(which reminds me I have a call to make!) it also helped me to blog about it. Call someone to go run with you or (its easier when someone is waiting for you) or discuss the struggle of your goal of "not swearing" they may give you some great feedback and you build your relationship along the way.

3 Give yourself a break: every day is a new day. So you want to lose weight? And last night you splurged at Olive Garden with all the yummy breadsticks and a slice of tiramisu? Oh well!!!!! It tasted good! Today is a new day. You can only control here and now. Beating yourself up over yesterday is only going to assist in sabotaging your goal. Think positive! Tell yourself what you would tell a friend.

4. break it down. make them simple. sometimes we have these big goals and don't think about the steps. Make the small steps to get there a goal. i.e. you want to run a 5k? great. what do you need to do to get there? Make a January goal of reseraching and chosing a program and buying shoes. February try one run a week. March twice a week. April choose a race and up your time or milage. Take it one step at a time. by June you may be ready to run a race. And not only have you completed your 5k, but you have many small wins in the meantime. Just getting your foot out the door is a win!

5. Give yourself credit: when you reach your goal or hose small goals, reward yourself! how about a coffee or put it on facebook or get a massage. Or just tell yourself "good job". And believe it.

These are just a few.

What tips or ideas do you have? What has helped you reach your goals?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

chunky coffee

Its no secret, I like my coffee. And I like it a certain way. Skim milk and honey. Or sometimes agave. Weird? Maybe.  I am comfortable with that.

Every so often I will order it slightly different. Either I'm feeling like a treat and want a latte or am trying to find some reasonable substitute at the moment for a shop that doesn't have my sweetener of choice.

The latter was the case for my recent coffee debacle.

My friend and I took the kids to the zoo. It was 50 degrees in January.
What a better way to spend the unseasonabley warm day (especially since the ice sculpting we were going to see was cancelled due to the same warm weather). Afterwards we went to a small local lunch and coffee shop followed by a stop at my favortite baby store. We had a lot of fun.

This place has great soups and sandwiches and a huge drink selection. I ordered my coffee and when I realized they didn't have honey. or agave. I went for the next best thing...artificially flavored syrup of course. I wanted the peanut butter flavor since I have had their AWESOME peanut butter cup lattes  ( a bit too decadent for me this day).I've also ordered it at other coffee joints before. The lady at the counter appeared slightly confused by my request, but I thought nothing of it, she seemed to figure it out and I took my drink back to my seat.

I only took a sip or two for a while, as I tend to nurse my coffee for a few hours usually anyway. I noticed it didn't seem very sweet. Which was fine. I tend to oversweeten. I could use a little less today.

It wasn't until I got home and little buddy was sleeping that I took a sip out the the last 1/3 of my drink to the unpleasant surprise of a "chunk". I just swallowed a huge chunk of something from my COFFEE!! the last place I expect to find this.
I promptly spit it out. And try not to gag on my own vomit. And then dump the remaining contents of my trusty travel mug into the sink and find many many more chunks. Dis-gus-ting.

What the heck happened to my drink?

Upon further inspection I understood the problem.

My "peanut butter flavor" in my drink...was real peanut butter.

She put real peanut butter in my coffee. 


I may have to take a break from anyone else handling my coffee for a while. Perhaps this is my motivation to stop buying coffee for a while and just make it at home. Where it's safe. And I have milk and honey and agave. And peanut butter that stays where it belongs.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Goal 3: Spending

My third mindfulness goal in the series has to do with Spending. Mainly monetary spending.

In my house we are savers. No, my  spouse is a saver. And I follow along and benefit from his fiscal organization and budgeting skills.

And when we look over this years budget at the end of the year, when we look at earnings and spending, we wonder why in the world we are not able to save more? and then we look at our "miscilaneous" and "retail" categories and they are way out of whack.

Luckily when I do shop, I love to find good deals.  Like under $10 esp for clothes if possible. And designer goods for ridiculous prices. I have True religion jeans, and I will proudly tell you that I got a pair for 1/6th or so of the normal price. I love love love to buy clothes. And shoes. And baby stuff. And a cup of coffee. But all of this adds up. And if you can afford it, Jenna, you ask, what's the big deal?

I know in my heart of hearts that I like to buy things for a reason. There is some little void, emptiness, that gets momentarily filled when I can buy something or find that good deal. A mini-addiction if you will. And what am I missing that I am covering for?

And so, I am planning on being mindful of my spending. Where does my money go. What is happening when I want to go shop for things. What am I feeling, thinking.
And mostly, can I still be "happy" and not have that thing. (of course I can!)

I am planning on not purchasing anything I do not absolutely need until my birthday in March. "Need" is subjective, I know. And well, I love me some birthdays.

In the meantime, I have to stop and think, "do I need this" and "why do I want to buy this?"

And for now, I am reserving this for any retail purchases. I'm having a hard time not buying a coffee. Even with a Keurig at home. And maybe guilt will consume me and bleed into these purchases as well. And I may say that giftcards and points (such as my Amazon points) are ok seeing as i am not actually technically spending any budgety money. we'll see. (I did buy a weathershield for my stroller off of Amazon today, but consider it a necessity to help me reach "health" goal so I can run with Ben during the week.- this kind of logic I have to think through. and it works. all 12 days in)

So no clothes, shoes, new Ben baby clothes or toys(he has soo much, esp thank to Chrsitmas). Accessories. I have a crap load of book already waiting on my Kindle. No gadgets or kitcheny stuff.  Or anything else "retail" that is not necessary.

As for what happens after March, I am not going to pretend I can go the rest of 2013 without buying anything else. But 2.5 months is some good thinking time, me thinks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Goal #2: Health

My second mindfulnes goal is Health.

(this is how I want to feel)

Now, to be honest, I feel I am continually improving in this area.
Some days I feel like I do well here.
And some days I think I have a million miles to go.

Perhaps its the up and down that I need to be mindful of.

I do want to be more fit. I want to be able to continually keep up with my little buddy and maybe someday have us do different kinds of physical activity and sports together. So being fit will help me be a better parent in that respect. I also want to be fit to continue to feel better about myself and improve my "emotional/mental" health. I feel good after a work out.

One fitness goal is to complete a half marathon with my younger sister and I know I have blogged about this a lot lately. The accountability is good for me. Otherwise if no one knows, than it is usually easier for me to quit and fail in silence. I am far too prideful to quit or fail in public. I am not gunning for speed, just to build endurance and be able to complete the task.  April 27th. Look out.

Each week I am looking to build a little bit farther with my distance. To be relaxed and mindful and enjoy my run verses see it as a task. My runs will not be daily, in fact I will be lucky to get 2-3 per week, but when I do, they will be intentional. Enjoyable. thoughtful. This time can be very meditative for me if I let it. And not feel guilty about wherever little buddy is.

Its funny, while looking for a piece of running gear today I had a shop owner ask me if I was a "runner". It was an awkward question for me. I said "I run, but not well"

What is up with that? Why must I qualify it?

There is a thought proces at work here which I will delve into more with goal #5 , but emotioanl health is a huge part of this. My own emotioanl health and how I look at myself and and "health". Being ok with where I am currently at, "it is what it is", acceptance, not guilt, and moving ahead with that securly.

I also want to change this phrase I used to say, "I run so I can eat". It was true for me for sure. Cause this girl LOVES to eat. But can I just run to run. To be healthy. To do something for myself. To strengthen myself and incrase my fitness level.

I also have a tertiatry goal, no,  hope, of returning to my wedding weight.

And in a healthy way this time. I am about 10 pounds away, but am choosing not to obsess, but hope. Go with my myfitnesspal plan which has been working for me to get to pre-baby numbers. When I look at my wedding pictures I love what I looked like physically, but cringe at where I was emotionally. By my cousins wedding in July would be awesome.


Unless of course we somehow are blessed at some point in 2013 to get a head start on a sibling for Little Buddy. Ok with that as well. lol

Monday, January 7, 2013

Goal 1: With my son

Its the year of mindfulness for me.
My hope is that focusing on mindfulness will help this become a habit.

The first area I am focusing on in being mindful with my son.

Baby boy will be 11 months old next week. He is such a happy camper. I can honestly say that I am super blessed by him, his sweet-tempered-ness (did I just make that word up?). His lack of fussiness. His giggliness and curiosity. He has these funny little things that he does like, instead of looking at flshing lights and knobs on those musical toys, he likes to look and find where the sound is coming from. He also gives giant open-mouthed kisses. He is constantly observing his surroundings and puts everything in his mouth. This also makes him a very un-picky eater so far.

In being more mindful with this bundle of joy, I want to make each interaction count. I want to not only be physically present with him, but mentally and emotionally present with him.

Confession: ever since I got my Iphone, I have been addicted. Addicted. Seriously, I think I check it every 10-15 minutes to see what the newest facebook updates are or if I got a new email or am just bored and want to play *sigh* Goldminer or Words with Friends.

The thing is I do this so much in front of my son. He knows my phone and loves to look at it and play with it, presumably because thats what he sees me doing all of the time. I also spend a lot of time on the computer seeing as we keep a laptop in our living room where we sepend most of our time. (somewhat thankfully, we are having a screen issue and its unusable. therefore writing this from the desktop in another less convenient location)

(although I may not be able to stop myself from pulling out the camera on the phone for moments like these)

I do not want his earliest memories to be of watching momy looking at her phone, computer, tablet, tv etc, instead of looking googly-eyed at him. He is looking to me for approval, for praise for comfort, and how long am I making him wait while I finish doing this or that online. And when he looks at me, my attention is elsewhere. What message does that send him? This is going to be a challenge for this generation of parents. Being in the moment with our kids, which is sometimes boring, in this fast paced, instant gratification world.

So I want to decrease my screen time in front of my baby. Perhaps this means I will just be online less often. And so be it. Maybe my screen time now will be more deliberate and less wasteful, as it usually is, since I plan to limit it to nap time, bedtime, being a passenger in the car time (I have other issues that require me to look at anything other than the road when a passenger). And I know I will not be perfect at this. And really do not want it to be my spouse and I on a device at the same time instead of with him. One at a time maybe? It will be a challenge for us.

And increase my "present" time with my son. Give him the gift of undivided attention. And me the gift of being aware of my sons growth and achievements and development.
He needs more of this:

He is getting so big so fast. Just in the last few weeks he has moved from crawling, to crawling EVERYWHERE, to figuring out how to escape my barrcades, to crawling over people and objects, and chasing kitty, to pulling himself up to him knees and now to standing and up a stair. I do not want to miss these things while my head is turned the other way every time.

There are fewer greater gifts than that of "presence"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

a year of Mindfulness

I have decided that 2013 will have a theme for me.

After some thought and some thorough discussions about resolution with clients, friends, spouse, I have decided that I want my goals to be decidedly positive, with a theme.

So often our goals involve taking away, being less than. Quit smoking, eat less, spend less,  lose weight, etc. While these are all good goals, I want to focus on being more. Or building upon positives. Even though some may involve doing something less, or some things differently its with the ultimate goal of becoming more myself and becoming more mindful.

2013= being mindful.

Mindful to me, meaning, being more aware of whats happening in the moment. Enjoying/savoring/challenging/thinking through each interaction. Creating more meaning. Bill called it being deliberate.

How do I plan on doing this?
in a few main areas...

1. With my son.

2. Health : (running, work out, weight, etc)

3. spending

4. relationships (spouse/friends)

5. my own thoughts.

Each of these will get their own explanation and post.

Join me in the year of mindfulness.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012's goals. How'd we do?

Happy New Year!
And can I say that I thoroughly enjoyed 2012 with all of its glorious fun and challenges.

Per tradition I have been thinking a lot about "resolutions". How I did on mine last year. What ones I want for this year and if there is some kind of theme. I think my next several blog posts will have to do with resolutions and goals.

To start, I do want to look at last years goals. If you'd like a review, here they are: 2012 resolutions.

Here is my summary of what the goals were and how we made out...

1. Learn about parenting: wow. Well, I did manage one more class in 2012, which was infant cpr. And i did a lot of online research. Bill checked out some library books. Some over and over almost the entire year. He read them. I did not. lol. And parenting is really a learning as you go type of experience. There is so much to learn!! I have been lucky to have a few experienced people field my ridiculous questions along the way. Alana, Pat, April...  I still wish I could ask my mom a million questions. Here was Bill's repeated book check out:
Your Baby's Mind (Revised)

2. half marathon/fitness goal: well. lets be honest, I did not run anything clsoe to a half marathon this year. However I did run a 5k on an insanly hot day and finished. I did get back to my pre-baby weight and signed up for a half marathon with my sister for April of this year. We are running for a cause, so pleas feel free to sponsor us!! We are over 1/3 of the way to our fundraising goal!

3. Make more local friends: Well, I've made attempts. Lets say that. I went to this weekly new parents group at the hospital my son was born at, which I enjoyed, but only went a few times and then back to work. I work on the same day this class is. I tried this other group twice, where my son was the youngest, it was a little awkward. First meeting wa good. Second no one spoke to me. I tried. My social awkwardness and anxiety is starting to gain some momentum. I need to work on this. I did however succeed in making good friends with a neighbor down the street. During the nice weather we went for walks several times a week and she is so very good with my son and she is just nice and interesting and positive. So I consider that a win. I also went to a MOPS group at the end of December. I enjoyed it and plan on going back this month.
4. Cut back on spending: a little. I changed some of my habits for sure to more local, small businesses, farmers markets, made in the USA. At one point I didn't even enter Walmart for over a month, and its the closest anything to my house. However I also discovered Amazon (I know, a little late to the game) which proved so very convenient esp with a baby. I did start entering some giveaways with many wins by the end of the year, where I won enough to not have to actually purchase any of my son's Christmas gifts.
5. Finding more peace: I think this will need to be a continued goal for me. I gained some and lost some at the same time. You know that phrase, "having a child is like watching your heart walk around outside of your body" or something like that. Yikes, is that true. For me anyway. I want to protect him from everything, including my own carelesness at times. It can be very anxiety provoking. Social anxiety has increased for some reason. However I also am learning to be more comfortable with myself and my own decision making. I am also learning to not take things as personally. If someone goes a little batty or insults me, I can more easily chalk it up to their own issues and insecurities. Thus decreasing my own anger and baggage and likelyhood of inappropriate or defensive responses. One wish I have for my son is "Peace". I hope to help smooth out the path for him a little.
I am also finding my workouts to be more meditative. This is awesome.
As I look at how I did, some sucesses, some not much. I consider what I want for this year. And yes, we are 3 days in and i have not solidified my goals. Hubby and I were just discussing this the other day. What do we want for ourselves, for our son. How can we possibly make 2013 better than 2012? Or make ourselves better for 2014.
How did you do?