My breastfeeding journey continues

Hey there! I’m back. I’m hoping that I will be able to continue updating you on my motherhood journey. In honour of Black Breastfeeding Week I’ve decided to share my breastfeeding journey with you.

For those of you who don’t know I gave birth to my third born daughter two weeks ago. It’s been a journey but we are all doing well. I’m learning (again) to be flexible with myself and my family but it’s not easy. I like things a certain way and at times it just feels like everything is falling on me. All because if I don’t do it, it most likely will not get done in a time efficient manner that could’ve been invested in other projects and tasks that would greatly help me be a better mother and wife but alas here we are…transitioning.

One thing I am grateful that doesn’t need much transitioning however is breastfeeding. I am grateful that my daughter was able to latch within an hour of her birth. We got to do skin to skin and she was amazing. I’ve been feeding her on demand, which is whenever she wants to as opposed to every two hours like I did with my first born. That method almost drove me insane and borderline into postpartum depression.

Now I completely understand that most infants need to be reminded to wake up and drink that milk, especially when breastfeeding because they need to gain weight for starters. There’s tons of nutrients in that colostrum that they may not get again which is helpful to their survival. It also helps us mothers to get that milk production going. Of course, engorgement will follow and that’s annoying but it benefits us all. However, sometimes baby knows best. As long as you’re trying and doing your best, Mama you’re doing amazing.

All of my girls have been amazing feeders when it comes to the breast and absolutely hated formula or the bottle regardless of whether or not there was breastmilk in the bottle. I remember my first born and I going at it because I genuinely allowed those around me guilt me into believing that my daughter needed to be bottle fed. Also when you’re told that your babies are a problem because they refuse to drink from the bottle, it can trigger some guilt and shame as a mother. But now that I’ve got my third I’m grateful that I can have that bonding moment and appreciate it for what it is.

It is a bit harder this time around because I still have a four year old and a soon to be two year old who still want my attention. There are times when I can’t get to the baby right away. Sometimes I have to put a pause on the dinner preparation to feed the baby. Most of the time, I’m breastfeeding and acting as a referee between the older two. These ideas of being able to sit in a rocking chair having that bonding moment like I did with my firstborn are not happening. These are kinds of expectations I have to let go. For example, having peace and quiet while breastfeeding is not happening anymore. In fact it’s the opposite.

What has proven to be helpful when I breastfeeding is making sure that I have a bib around on the baby. It’s easy to clean up spit ups and regurgitation from the baby. Sometimes the occasional milk let down, especially during the engorgement period. A good nipple cream helped me so much when I nursed my first born. My nipples would crack and it would hurt so much. Speaking to a lactation consultant was crucial for me. It also gave me the confidence to keep trying again. Another important one is having a friend who’s done it before. They sometimes have the most invaluable advices. But most importantly, knowing that you’re not a failure for doing your best. At the end of the day fed is best. If breastfeeding isn’t for you and your little one that’s ok. Just do what’s best for the both of you.

I hope this has been useful and helpful. Below are a list of things I personally loved using while breastfeeding.

https://www.shopltk.com/explore/sandyesprit/posts/f87cdea7-0604-11ec-83a6-0242ac110003

Summer Skin Care Routine

Hey there! Thanks for checking out blog. I know that the stores have already started putting out the back to school and some may have already gotten ready for Fall, but summer is very much still happening. So I’m going to be showing my current skin care routine.

Since I’m pregnant there are certain items I’ve had to stay away from. Mainly, retinol. And I do love retinol. So I’ve really focused but my skin has adapted well. Check it out here.

How’s your summer skin care routine going?

My Pregnancy Body Image

When it comes to body image we’ve all had our ups and downs. As a teen, I was a late bloomer. The only thing that developed was my uterus and my height. Aside from that, I was a skinny, awkward, lanky flat chested girl. My hair never grew past my shoulders because back then I didn’t have the resources I have now. My mom waited way too long to get me first bra, mind you I don’t think it would’ve been filled with much. I outgrew clothes as quickly as I got them in my closet. My skin care routine was non existent and so my face was full of acne. My peers on the other hand, were blessed with curves, hair and make up. I was the ugly duckling in my crew.

When I got older and got my first job I was finally able to take some form of control over my appearance but it took years of learning to appreciate what was there. As a young woman, I was often told to cover up my non existent curves lest I be seen as the Jezebel and make the men fall in lust with my body. Those horny depraved minds lusted after anything with legs and it really had nothing to do with what I wore. I was tall, I was pretty without makeup and a friendly attitude to back it until you got on my bad side. Then well…you got the gist.

Unfortunately, due to the people around me and their “overprotective” counsels I developed a very strange idea of what my body looked like. I began to see what they saw and did my best to eliminate any source of sin. As a Christian, I made it my mission to look “modest”. I wore clothes that were way too big for me. It wasn’t uncommon to be told that my skirt was too short or my butt looked too big. For those of you who didn’t know me back then, I was a size 4. Yup a whole single digit, size 4.

Well, I got out of that toxic situation after ten years. But it took me awhile to reset my vision of my physical image and to fully come to love the creation that God made me to be. Once I fully embraced myself, I got pregnant. What should’ve been a beautiful experience became a nightmare from hell.

I literally thought I could love my body no matter its size and it turns out I didn’t. In fact, I’m currently going through my third pregnancy and I’m still fighting this rhetoric. I don’t feel beautiful. I don’t feel sexy and I don’t feel confident showing my body. I feel like that thirteen year old gawky and awkward teenager trying to get through my entire house without crashing into anything. I have no idea how wide I am and my body is so sore all the time. When I try to explain this to people all I hear “You’re not fat, you’re pregnant!” and the truth is I’m both. I am fat and I am pregnant. There’s nothing wrong with being fat, but there’s something wrong with me.

I know I’m not supposed to feel this. I know that my body is a machine that custom built for this and every life that I carry. But I have this belly that I can’t hide. These hips that just protrude out of my side. My butt jingles and I keep seeing pockets of fat deposits on my thighs. I wish it could be as simple as after the baby is born, I could lose the weight but the truth is. Losing weight postpartum is really hard.

When I had my second born, I actually gained weight postpartum. My mom actually commented on my weight and I felt so small. I am trying so hard to love my body for what it is and I can’t even comprehend what is happening or why it’s happening. I am breastfeeding and eating right and yet I can’t lose the weight. It took me 9 months to get this weight and to manage it, and here I am postpartum still feeling like an insecure teenager. I’m supposed to be over this. This body is the same body that carried these children. The same body, my babies cling to when they want to be comforted. This same body provides nurture, care and a haven of safety for my loved ones and yet all I see is the flaws, I have been told to hate.

I don’t know if this is body dysmorphia, but I know I don’t see an accurate picture of myself or maybe I do and that’s why I’m having such a hard time with this. I wish I could say that I love the way I look because the truth is I don’t. I am most comfortable showing my face and my hair because it still looks normal to me. I have a slight double chin but I can hide that with a contour stick. Everything else is just…ugh!

I wish I knew how to fix it. I don’t. I do hope that this sparks a conversation.

To you, who understands how I’m feeling you’re not alone. No matter how we feel, the truth is we are beautiful.

Vitamin C and SPF, Your Best Sun Defense

Hi there! I just want to start off by saying thank you so much for checking out my blog. You could be doing anything, anywhere but here you are with me and this brings me so much joy. Also, I have some affiliate links listed in this blog. If you so happen to want to try these items out and you purchase it from this blog you will be supporting me so that I can keep doing what I love.

With the warm weather around the corner, I know that we are looking to ditch our winter clothes and are ready to enjoy some much needed sunshine. At least, I know I am. I’m looking forward ditching my winter gear and breaking out my summer outfits. Of course, this means more of my skin will be showing and of course exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. This is why my skin needs the best sun defense it can get.

Sun protection should always be a part of our skin care, no matter the season. However, in my personal experience I tend to see the most damage in the summer, when the sun is out for longer periods of time and I’m outside for longer periods of time. When I don’t provide my skin with the best sun defense, I risk the chance of creating irreversible damage to my skin. We should always be ready and willing to slather on that SPF in the morning and be ready to put it on again throughout the day. Truth of the matter is that SPF breaks down over time. In the summer it breaks down faster due to sweat, water activities, etc. We do so much outdoor activities that the thin layer of sun protection we offer our skin isn’t enough to last all day, unless we re-apply.

Black don’t crack?

As a Black woman, I was often taught that the amount of melanin present in my skin was enough protection. Unfortunately, that is not true. As much as being Black and being a woman is a privilege and a superpower, it is not enough to protect me from UVA and UVB rays. The damage that these two ultraviolet rays do can often lead to life threatening damage if not sun protection is not enforced quickly. The good news is that it’s never too late to get started.

But how damaging are UVA and UVB?

First off, let me start off by that there are many different types of ultraviolet rays. However, the ones you’ll hear the most about are UVA and UVB. That’s because they are the most damaging to the skin. Keep in mind that the skin is the largest organ in our body. It is one of the primary defense to our survival. When it repeatedly gets hit with UVA and UVB rays, our skin continuously becomes exposed to free radicals that cause oxidative stress to our skin.

UVA rays are known for playing a major role in causing skin cancers. They are able to penetrate the skin much more deeply and play a role in forming wrinkles in our skin prematurely via photoaging. They cause damage to collagen, elastin and other dermal structures. There are about 500 times more UVA rays than UVB rays.

UVB tend to play a role in creating sunburn. They also play a big role in causing skin cancers, including the one that shows up as a black mole on the skin, malignant melanoma.

Vitamin C+ SPF = Power Couple

This is why antioxidants are so important when it comes to sun care protection. SPF is great for offering your skin sun protection, but to really boost it’s efficacy, you may want to add an antioxidant. A topical antioxidant, such as Vitamin C is great for neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise wreak havoc on your skin. Vitamin C is also good for brightening the skin by blocking the abnormal production of pigmentation to even the skin tone and fade dark spots.

Your skin is only as strong as you allow it to be. A good SPF should be able to block the sun’s rays but it’s not 100 percent effective. Pairing it with a good topical Vitamin C serum is a great way to ensure that your skin stays as youthful as you feel.

Not all vitamin C serums are the same. In fact there at least 10 different topical vitamin C serum. Some are water based and some are not. Also based on your skin type and how sensitive your skin is you may find that your skin will become irritated by some serums. This is why it’s important to do your research and to listen to your skin. If you’re skin is irritated or shows sign of tenderness you will want to stop using it and go for a water soluble based vitamin C serum. You may find that you’ll want to use L-ascorbic acid as it is the most ready to use when applied to the skin. However, if you find that this version of vitamin C is too harsh on your skin, then magnesium ascorbyl phosphate may be the better option.

You will want to put your serum on first, let it dry then follow up with your moisturizer and then your SPF. Always apply your SPF last, no matter what your favourite influencer says. It will do wonders on your skin and you can safely enjoy the sun while you are out and about.

Few Things To Remember

When it comes to sun protection, here are a few things you want to remember.

  1. Always wear your SPF, LAST.
  2. Always re-apply your SPF, especially if you are out in the sun.
  3. Your SPF, should last 20 days if applied correctly.
  4. You do not have to settle for an SPF with a white cast. Nobody wants to look casket ready
  5. A vitamin C serum will boost your SPF protection
  6. A vitamin C serum is great for protecting your skin.
  7. Listen to your skin.

I hope that this blog was helpful. Let me know in the comment section below.

My toddler won’t sleep…

It’s currently 4:07 am and my one year old has been fighting sleep since 3:30 pm. Smack dab in the middle my sleep is interrupted by the constant whimpering that slowly progress into full blow cry. As I’m hearing this I’m debating whether or not I should get out of bed. I know she’s ok, she’s never really been much a sleeper.

She’s good with laying down in her crib but the falling asleep stage had always been a struggle. Even now as she lays her head on my chest, she’s moving and squirming, making herself comfortable as my heart heartbeat serves as an internal lullaby and my growing fetus is currently kicking around.

Her eyes are open but her gaze is sleepy. She’s tired. We both know it. So I do what any Christian mother would do. I pray. I pray and I speak over my child. I command the angels to watch over her. I pray hoping for the miracle that my baby needs to sleep through the night. I pray in Jesus’ name and I wait. I hear nothing. I get up and I leave. Once I close the door the whimpering return and I’m left feeling more hopeless than when I went in. This isn’t the first time and yet here we are still faced with this predicament.

Should I pick her up? Should I bring her into my bed? Did she have a nightmare? Is this a night tremor? Maybe she napped too long. Or maybe not enough. Let’s go through Google on this. I’m already awake so I might. Lord knows I need answers. Once again, equipped with my smartphone in my hand, I use my external brain to find an answer that will help. I’m sure there there’s a mommy blog out there with the answers I need.

Sure enough there is. In fact, there’s plenty. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. Of course, the reasons of why this could be happening isn’t a clear cut diagnosis. Since toddlers lack the ability to accurately express themselves. To be honest, at 34 years of age I find myself at times unable to accurately express myself except through tears. So it makes sense that a child who’s been on this side of life for less than two years would also have this issue. It’s not her fault

The first thing that I notice is the need for patience and lots of it. All of this is normal and like most people, this too shall pass. I personally would hope that it could’ve passed months ago, but no. Once again, patience and grace is required for this challenge. This is not just her challenge, it’s ours. We both are tired and awake. We are both annoyed. We are both sleepy. Both of our sleep has been interrupted for some unknown reason. My otherwise happy toddler is now annoyed by this unforeseen grievance and is calling out for my help to navigate through this trying and at best find the solution to this.

Umm, I don’t know who lied to her but I don’t have the answers. At best I have Jesus and Google. All I can do is pray and assess. But here we are.

After debating the next best step I know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to bring into my bed. I don’t feel like wrestling a toddler tonight. My body has been through enough and is still going through it. I don’t want to be up all night either. I don’t want to hear crying. So I do what I believe is the next best thing. I pick her and lay her in my chest. A mother’s hug is always welcomed. I let my chest be her pillow and allow her to feel safe by my presence. I don’t know if I’m doing it right. But I know that her breathing has slowed down. Her body. I longer tense nor stressed. She’s sleeping peacefully.

It’s moments like these I’m reminded of what patience, grace and love can accomplish. In the moments that it took for me to write this blog post, my little one has fallen asleep. As I’m get ready to bring her back to her bed, I’m aware that this same kind patience shown to be me I must show to myself. Life is a series of transitions. Some are annoying and some are great. How we handle them makes us great.

My Toxic Money Relationship

I never thought I had a toxic relationship with money. In fact, I thought I was doing very well with my money. I was paying my bills for the most part. I was working and doing everything I thought I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t splurging. In fact, I always made an excuse as to why I couldn’t afford some of the things I saw my friends, who were making less money than me, afford. I thought I was living humbly and what a fraud that turned out to be.

When I think of my view of money there’s this acceptable amount that I’ve limited myself to. I’ve come to realize that there are certain childhood truths that I’ve come to believe and have been living off of them. Some of them have been told me and now deeply ingrained into my brain. Others, I’ve just translated into my own personal belief.

Old Truths

Some of these truths I believed and some of them I’m working on are:

  1. I lose more money than I make
  2. I’m not allowed to spend money on myself if there’s a cheaper alternative. Even if I like it.
  3. There’s not enough money for me.
  4. Everyone gets theirs first. I get mine last.
  5. I don’t deserve to live in luxury.

When it comes to money, for some it can be a taboo subject. You can either be great with it and love it or be terrible with it and hate it. Most of that comes from our childhood. As a child, I saw my mother struggle to make ends meet. She had three kids to clothe, feed and provide shelter for as well as for herself. I learned very early on that asking for things wasn’t always going to be met with acceptance. That resulted in me not wanting to ask for anything or feeling guilty for asking for anything. I often felt like a burden for liking things that were deemed expensive. It wasn’t long before I began looking at price tags before presenting a request to my mother. Anything I thought was too expensive, I would immediately put away and say I didn’t like it even though I wanted it for myself.

When did it start?

The foundation of my unhealthy perspective of money carried well over until now. Though I am glad to say that some things have changed. Luxury is no longer something I’m afraid to have for myself. Money doesn’t scare me anymore like it used to. I still get some anxiety when shopping for certain items especially when the price tag is higher than what I deem acceptable. The last time I splurged on myself I couldn’t even finish the purchase myself, I literally sent my husband in to make the purchase for me.

New Truths

I’m unlearning these practices in order to make room for the abundance that I’m believing and claiming for myself. In order to do that I must acknowledge these toxic traits. Once they are acknowledged I must be willing to do the work. Part of that work is to speak differently to myself when it comes to money. In fact, I must create new truths to override the ones that I’ve embedded into my financial genetic code. I have got to do some rewriting. But furthermore, I have to believe what I’m saying and be able to accept these truths for what they are.

For example:

  1. I make money in abundance so much so that my net worth will exceed my expenditures.
  2. A price tag does not determine how much I want or like an item.
  3. There’s ALWAYS enough money for me. ALWAYS!
  4. I am not exempt to receiving when it’s my time.
  5. Luxury is my birthright. I deserve to live in luxury.

Saying these statements out loud is the easy part, believing them is the hard part. I know this will take time but I’m confident that these little steps will allow me to live my life to its fullness. I’ve been working on this for a while and so far I’ve been able to successfully pay a student debt. I’ve still got more to do, but there’s no sense of dread anymore. I’m confident that tomorrow will look better than today.

Not bad for a girl who’s been homeless three times, huh?

Bittersweet Mother’s Day

This year is bittersweet. I live in Ontario where we seeming to be in a never ending lockdown. It’s taking a toll on me mentally and in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. I have exasperated all of my self care arsenal and after the bomb has gone off I’m left cleaning up my own mess.

Mother’s Day has been awkward for me. From the moment that I gave birth to my firstborn and now four years later, two kids later and three pregnancies later I find it really hard to celebrate. It’s like a birthday that everyone forgets about until the day off. The worst part is my birthday is often forgotten to begin with. Those who remember Mother’s Day are usually the ones old enough to do for themselves or to remind their father to do something for their mother. My kids are still very young. I should be the one reminding them of what today means to me but to be honest I don’t know what it means to do.

In the past, I’ve tried to celebrate Mother’s Day with my own mom and it wasn’t always received well. I remember when I was told, “If you loved me you would obey me. You would do your chores. That’s love.” That stayed with me. I knew that I could never measure up to that standard because everyday there was something I couldn’t do.

I guess it started from there. Now I’ve got my own and I wish it wasn’t so. I see mothers being celebrated by their husbands and children. Some are going away on trips and receiving lavish gifts. Meanwhile, I’m in the middle of potty training a very strong willed 20 month old and dealing with a four year old with enough sass to punch every nerve in my body. There’s a growing pile of laundry that needs to be addressed before I run out of sweat suits and underwear. There’s a stain in the kitchen floor that been bothering me for days. There’s feeling of missing out as I see mothers enjoying wine while I’ve got an unborn treating my uterus like a gymnasium.

I could say I’m tired but that would be understatement. In all honesty, I don’t know what I am anymore. Is it exhaustion? Is it tired? Is it depression? Is it failure? Is it heaviness? Sadness? Hormones? I don’t know.

If you’re in the same boat as me this post is for you. I see you. We’re carrying the mental and spiritual load of our loved ones so they can keep smiling and they feel loved. We want them to be remembered to feel validated at the cost of our existence. We want to give them an experience contrary to the experience that we are living. We are doing our best in a world that continues to tell us that we are coming up short. The nights are longs. The sleep is restless. We struggle to make sense of what is happening based on our past experiences. We want to show up and to serve our loved ones well. We’re seeking help without being a burden to those who love us and those we love. We want to be seen. We want to be validated. We want to live in every sense of the word without reservations.

This post is for you. You wake up everyday hoping that this is the day everything will fall into place. You hope that your past will be contradictory to your future. You wake up hoping to see your prayers answered without something bad happening alongside the good. You want to enjoy today because it’s precious. You hope today is different from yesterday.

This day is for you. There’s enough room for you this Mother’s Day. There’s enough room to laugh, to cry, to enjoy and to mourn. There’s enough room to seek help, to find peace and have rest. This Mother’s Day is for you too. It’s not exclusive for the Instagram mom who’s got it all together. This Mother’s Day is not exclusive to the rich and wealthy. It’s for the struggling, it’s for the fighters who are serving through the pain and tears. If you haven’t slept in years or maybe you do sleep soundly, this day is for you. If you’ve made some bad choices, this Mother’s Day is for you. If no one in your family remembers to celebrate you, this day is for you too. I celebrate you.

I celebrate me. It won’t look like what I post online. I don’t know if I’ll put on some make up. I’m sure I’ll be chasing my toddler around with the miniature potty trying to avoid as many spills as possible. Of course, unsuccessfully. I’ll be doing the laundry since it can’t be done by itself. I’ll be receiving kisses and hugs as a form of love. I know I’ll get lots of “Happy Mother’s Day!” from strangers and loved ones alike. This day won’t be memorable for me. But I see me. I see my work and I know my worth.

This day is for me too.

Show up And Serve

I woke up this morning and I was absolutely miserable. I mean, literally woke up ready to cry my eyes out. I didn’t get a chance to process my emotions as I was trying to understand how I could wake up from my sleep and still feel like I haven’t slept at all. Those are the worst kinds of sleep. Needless to say I was exhausted physically. As I was contemplating getting out of bed and justifying delaying my morning routine while everyone was still sleeping, I heard my youngest call out to her father. He was just about ready to go to work. Of course, I got up, got her and brought her to my bed. Sometimes, I can get her to lay down with me for a while, while I gather my thoughts together.

It wasn’t long before my husband came into the room and needed me to take care of something that needed my immediate attention. This is not the way I wanted to begin my morning. I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts. It was being taken from me, moment by moment. Piece by piece. With my head on my pillow, I placed my arm over my eyes, avoiding the emotional flood that was about to hit me. I knew it was coming. All the alarm bells were going off and I couldn’t evacuate.

Is there anything I could have done?

As I laid there, all I did was try to find the missing link. I needed to find the culprit. I knew it was me. I knew that I was stressed about things I couldn’t control. But, there’s this innate desire in me to fix all that is broken. My online presence was suffering and all I could do was see my shortcomings. Could I have done anything differently? I wasn’t making any money. All these prospects were drying up. I was becoming as irrelevant as I had believed myself to be. Maybe I had been over confident, I overshot my shot. I should have just done what always works, that is being afraid and running away.

Truth is, I don’t want to go back to the way things were. There’s nothing wrong with being working a 9-5 but it’s not for me. I can’t do it. I can’t work for someone else making enough money to pay half of bills. I can’t go back to spending my energy being someone other than me for majority of the time. I am not that person. I don’t want to be successfully broke. I don’t want to update my resume in hopes that some government worker is going to take pity on the fact that I’m a minority who is also bilingual. Mind you that hasn’t worked either.

What to do?

Someone commented on a post I made and what they said resonated with me.

“We don’t give up. We keep showing up and eventually things will get better.”

You know what? She’s right. I don’t know what will happen in a month or two. All I have is the last four months to go on. I know something’s got to change and it will. I know it won’t happen overnight and I still have a lot of learning. There are still some major life transitioning phases that I will have to navigate. I can only my best with what I have. My only hope is that it’s enough.

We need to be inspired effectually and effectively. You and I both know that this world is far from perfect. For years, we’ve been told what is and is not acceptable by people who have the funds to sell their message. We’ve bought their message and believe their story to only find out that it was a lie all along. This is not the kind of message I want my daughters to believe.

I started this to prove to myself that I have what it takes to be the woman that my children can be proud to call their mother. But most importantly, I need to prove to myself that I am not wasted potential. I am not just an influencer or that girl who used to be smart. I am not just a housewife that is dependent on her husband for a paycheck. I am not a poser on the ‘gram trying to get like and comments. I am more than that.

I am a living and breathing testimony that anything can happen if you’re willing to have faith and put in the work. I have seen domestic abuse first hand. I know what it’s like to be homeless. I know what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant. I know what it’s like to feel rejected, to be told that your feelings are invalid. I know to be knocked off a pedestal that was build for you by those who “believed” in you just to be knocked down and have your head hit the ground. The reason is I keep coming back is because I have a job to do.

I have to serve my community, near and far. I may not be remembered for my work but as long as my words inspire you to get up and keep fighting for your destiny then I have done my job. If you are able to relate to this and still choose to get up and keep going then I’m doing my job.

You are living breathing miracle. You have survived all the trauma and criticism you’ve faced. Your energy transcends your presence and continuously affect those you have encountered. Your smile is infectious and cause others to feel at peace. That is a blessing. Better yet, you are a blessing. You may not realize it but your time is coming. Whatever happens, show up and serve.

Spring Clean Your Circle

Hi there. Thank you so much for checking out my blog. Today, I will be doing things a little differently.

I believe that part of living my life has always included my faith in God. As a Christian woman who grew up in a Christian home, I have always been told to forgive and forget. I saw many loved ones get hurt over and over again following this advice. Some of them have been abused and traumatized and had it not been for the grace of God, I believe that I would be continuing the cycle of abuse. I am not a professional and I do believe in therapy. I believe that there are some things that prayer alone can’t fix. Especially when dealing when traumas that continuously interfere with your ability to enjoy YOUR life. I capitalized your because sometimes it’s easy for us to become so influenced by other people’s counsel (even though they mean well) that we lose our identity in other people’s validation. I urge you to seek professional counselling if you’re ready to change but find yourself unable to.

The other day, I was sitting in the living room by myself, (time alone is a gift from God, Himself!) watching the Baby-Sitters’ Club television series on Netflix. I used to read the books as a child and so watching this show brought back all the nostalgic feelings of my childhood. As I watching, I noticed that one of the characters, Kristy, was so annoying. When I was younger, I felt connected to her the most. We were exactly alike with similar familial circumstances. I could relate to her. But looking at her now, as an adult I realized something. She wasn’t assertive, she was mean. She needed to be in control all the time, regardless of who she hurt. She meant well, but her desire to control everything just left a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t until her character started freaking out about her absentee father that all the pieces fell together.

I was Kristy. I wasn’t a nice person and had a desire to control everything so I could control the outcome. That way I could avoid being hurt. I carried that way of living well into my adult years. I had developed a coping mechanism to avoid being hurt over and over again.

Once I got married to my husband and had my daughter, something clicked. Call it an epiphany, call it a revelation but something happened. I needed to change because I was not the same girl anymore. I didn’t want to be the same girl anymore. I was a mother who had to teach my daughter how to live a beautiful and fruitful life. But how do I that? I didn’t want her being like me. I wanted to be assertive, decisive and kind so she could take over the world without being selfish or mean. That’s when I had a conversation with myself, which is quite easy to do when you don’t have many friends to begin with. This mostly took place in the spring. That’s when I began spring cleaning my circle.

I started by loving me. I began to identify all the ways that I could love myself and affirm who I was as a human being. It’s important for my children to be loved by a parent who is full of love. I don’t need the validation of others to be amazing at being me. I need my daughters to feel the same way. I’m not perfect but I love myself the way I am.

Then I started showing up as the woman that I wanted my daughters to look up to. Like I said, I know I’m not perfect but that doesn’t mean I’m not worthy of improvement. Accidents happen and that’s ok.

I would say the key to my revolutionary spring cleaning was learning to set boundaries. There are comments that I hear from loved ones that I just let slide because, in all honesty, I don’t feel like censoring the elderly all the time. However, there are comments that I will censor. I will not tolerate comments that disrespect me or my family. I have the right to refuse and to remove negative and toxic speech from being spoken in my presence and the presence of my children. Words are very powerful and have a way to carry over well after the moment has passed. For years, I carried words spoken to me in my heart. These words were hurtful and manifested themselves into my life in a negative way. I will not be the access for this kind of behaviour for my girls. My hope is that they are led by example and they too, will set boundaries and develop a strong voice to advocate for themselves when I can’t.

Another part to setting boundaries, for me, was cutting off toxic family members. Some family members just happen to drift off and lose contact and that happens. Life happens and we all have our own families to care for. However, those that have continuously caused hurt to me personally without a change in behaviour, I no longer entertain. It is important to me that I stay healed. Forgiveness is hard enough the first time, but after a while it becomes debilitatingly oppressive. After living like that for years, I believe that the next course of action is to be free and to stay free. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s really hard. A lot of people don’t understand why I have chosen to go this route. But for the first time in my life, I’m advocating for myself. My voice is being heard. I don’t have to resort to controlling everything and, honestly, it feels good.

Whoever you are, if you find yourself just stuck and constantly feeling hurt, believe me it will get better. You have a voice and it matters. Speak up and get help. You may find yourself alone but it’s better to be alone and free.

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