Tag Archives: joy

No Fingers Left to Point

I started this poem during a time when I was still using excuses as my crutch.  I was still relying on the good ole’ “I am this way because…” phrase.   The truth is that it is often easier to blame others than to accept and take on the challenge of change. It is easier to point fingers when you fail than to accept it a pathway to change.  In life, we must be careful though because soon we can be left with no more fingers to point.

 

No Fingers Left to Point

Finger points, gun ready aim,
fire
the broken glass is first,
because even shattered windshields require
blame.

First finger points
to their childish quarrels
as words expel more
an eye for an eye,
can they even remember
what that stands for?

Second finger points
he makes me do it
the choice is never my own
a squirrel cannot survive the streets
on such an indecisive throne.

Third finger points and cries
the ability to shoot back
depends on what her lonely heart lends
to her cheating hand
anything for a friend.

Fourth finger points
their words make her starve
to hunger differently
it is not her own
nor that of the skeleton they not see.

Fifth finger points
they fill her cup
like everyone does to fit in
as she still keeps track,
what even matters?
what even counts?
in drunkenness, she thirsts
a new way to silence, the crying within.

Sixth finger points
plaid skirts to her knees
try it the right way,
until rolls it to the waist
her morals to the curb
caves for someone to love
no one to save me
as if, no one watches above.

Seventh finger points
to her white dress
how can she still cry
how can she still yearn for more,
as he promises to stay
and plays the violin
over her broken seams
no longer knows herself
no longer the recipient
of her own dreams.

Eighth finger points
they judge her before
a mother they can see
babies she wraps in love
nurturing this new version

Of me.

Ninth finger points
these shoes teach me to be, just that
as they tiptoe into the dance
my feeble legs fake that seductive strength
of who they cannot understand
still broken in form,
but somehow, I still stand.

Tenth finger fires
and no more remain
leaves me as a fingerless pawn,
in this fruitless game.
For all these fingers, they point back too,
aimless, blameless, responsible,
and for the first time,
I face imperfection’s true attack:
no one to blame,
no where to point,
no where to run,
to face the truth, fingerless,
exposed accusations leaves me alone,
to do just that –
finally sells me back the truth
that accepts and forgives them all,
as I hold myself
in the unclenching of a fist,
for ten fingers I now lack.

Finally I accept it all to breathe free
responsible solely for me
with no fingers left to point,
I finally face
that I wish I had all ten of them back.


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Freedom comes when we stop pointing fingers. It is then we can unfold our fists and soften our hearts to the life we deserve. Excuses are just that, excuses. They will never bring us to the more our lives are made for. Those excuses are crutches that steal so much more from us than they do from those we direct our anger, our sadness, our fingers to.

Freedom comes with patience and prayer.

Freedom comes from time used wisely instead of being wasted in the distractions, in the excuses.

Freedom comes from forgiveness.

It comes from letting go of the clenched fist and allowing the heart to beat freely again. Freedom comes from leaving all the excuses on the beach and getting into the living, healing waters, instead of waiting for someone else to save us.

That was a difficult message for me to hear because I didn’t want to hear it. It was easier to blame others for my battles and hardships than take the matters into my own hands. For the longest time I thought that it meant I needed to take on and carry all of that weight myself.

But that is never the case.

We are never meant to carry the burdens ourselves.

The resentment and excuses will never allow us to truly be free of anxiety, depression and pain.

But learning to let it go will.

So, please forgive me now for the mess. I’d rather walk proudly with the scars and with my fingers and arms ready to hug my loves, even if it means I may have to skip, jump or even limp over the clutter at times. But at least I have no more crutches laying around to trip me up too.


“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.””

‭‭John‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/jhn.5.6-8.niv


Get your mat and walk! Lay down the excuses no matter how long they have been stirring there, no matter how long you have been waiting. It’s your time to let go and live.

 

What We See

What do you see?

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Does it often seem like despite your efforts to do good, that the things you fail in…the one thing you forgot to do or just didn’t have enough time to do …is the one and only thing people notice. That your failure is the one and only thing people see.

I have felt this often throughout most of my life. The one time I forget to check to see if all twenty of Madison’s hair ties are in her backpack when I pick her up is the day her teachers also forgot to pack them… (She has an obsession with her bracelets aka hair ties). Or the one time I give the wrong show and tell, I’m reminded of where the weekly theme is posted.. Or even the one day our of the month I decide not to do laundry, everyone is asking for something from it.

It can seem as though no one sees or appreciates how I have made random stops at the store during a crazy day to buy more backup hair ties…Or usually have show and tells packed up and ready to go days in advance…Or how I have been doing laundry every day for years. And the reality is, we do so much each day that no one does see… that does go unnoticed.

For years, I found myself getting upset from these reactions of others, from what people saw or what failed to see. That was until I reflected on what I myself was focused on. What I was seeing and that was also when I learned to laugh… often at myself and “the irony” of life.

As a society, what are we focused on? It’s so easy to give into the negativity around us. It is everywhere!

The tantruming child…

the grumpy cashier …

the car honking obnoxiously to get out of their way …

the rude coworker who doesn’t say hi back or even acknowledge you in the hallway…

or even the deceitful family member who knows how to push your buttons…

That’s what I was seeing too. All the displeasing things that were happening around me… and everything that was not happening. How the garbage cans in the kitchen were overflowing again or how the empty paper towels liked to wait for me to replace them. However, in focusing on these parts of the day, I was blinding myself to what was being done.

All the times that the garbage was taken out …

the fact that I rarely brought those garbage cans to the curb…

all the times that the paper towels were put away for me when unpacking from the supermarket…

all the people who were saying good morning or smiling back…

the shoes in which those family members walk and why they hurt so badly…

the chaos most of us walk through each day that tends to zone in on the negativity thrown at us…

instead of the good.

Who has time for the positivity anyways?

There really is a lot of good all around us. But we must make the time to see it. It is our job to consciously choose what to focus on. It is our decision. No one can hold that power over us.

Sooo…

Let’s be conscious on seeing the good. Let’s ask that grumpy cashier how their day is or better yet give a compliment.

Let’s say hello first to everyone who walks by us in the hallway at work and don’t worry if they don’t say hi back. Learn to let it go!

Let’s call up that angry family member randomly just to say hi.

Let’s pray for peace for that road raging person in the car next to us when they flash us their “friendly finger.”

Let’s thank our spouse for something that always do.

Let’s see the good…and if we can’t see it, create it!

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We need to carefully decide what we zoom in on. There are a lot of perspectives to see from. It is not our job to transform the grumpy coworker or angrily shout back at the road raged driver. Instead, it is our job to stop the cycles around us and zoom in on the good.

See beneath the surface.

Pray for softened hearts.

Pray for communication barriers to be lifted and removed.

Pray to see the good in everyone.

We all have battles we are fighting all the time.

While we may not have been there exactly, we have all been somewhere similar struggling to stay afloat…

struggling to believe…

struggling to live.

Learning to keep your eyes open to those around you instead of closing them out, is how we truly begin to see each other and lift each other up. It’s how people start to see you too. Be the change you want to see. Let’s use eyes to support not to judge. Imagine what is possible if and when we work together and support one another. The possibilities are endless!

Soo yes, I promise I will try to see you past the layers of each chaotic day …

but right now behind this tower of laundry…

you may not see me.

 

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Who’s Watching

Eyes aboard all around
the shipwreck’s gossip
washes over the town
who nurses with breast
who goes straight to bottle
yet the tides all bring
currents that steal sleep
some train and others coddle
and still they all ask the question,
Who’s watching?

Minds coast to speed
the wreckage drama
blankets with greed
who pays more
who files away into the depth
of the sand’s debt that burns
fires upon their feet
some nap and others explore free
and still they all ask,
Who’s watching?

Charade of lies
sea marks it all lost
images gloss over cries
who labels it a spiritual hand
who coins it as religion
the island is huge
there is room for all to live
yet most find fault
in their way to stand
upon a deck
Where they still ask,
Who’s watching?

Ship ashore, crashes upon its shouts
the baby falls captive
to the deception of the sea
as her wounds are deeper
than the fear of falling
it washes upon that same beach
the chaos of waves causes tidal doubt
overwhelm her belief
that she is just that
more than enough
and who still stands by
their fingers all pointed out
who fails to watch now, who misses the boat –
when all she needs
is a smile to swim upon her sinking oar
“Good job Mama,”
as she asks them back –
Who’s still watching?

For what were you really looking for?


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Our Party Cake

Over the years, we have experimented with a lot of different types of recipes in order to find the best cake for our taste buds.   We use this recipe for birthday parties, play dates, or any kind of event or day that we need extra sweetness. This led to this beauty of a creation:

 

Peanut, dairy, egg and sesame free

But every bite more delicious 

for at home or any kind of party. 

 

Ingredients: 

2.5 cups of flour

1.5 cups of sugar

2 TBSP  baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 c + 1/8 c oil (we typically use coconut)

1 c milk (coconut or our preferred protein nut milk if tree allergies are not an issue)

2 TBSP vanilla extract

1 C organic, unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and oil in a bowl.
  3. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
  4. Pour batter into a greased cake pan or greased cupcake liners/  (use oil for greasing or a butter alternative like Earth’s Balance.
  5. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes or cake for 35 minutes.
  6. Test will a toothpick.
  7. Cool.
  8. Decorate as you wish!

 

We promise to not lick the spoon … but we can’t promise to not eat any before the party...

Two years later, we are still using the recipe. Just mixing it up a bit…

Can you tell we love Legos?!?!

Stay tuned for our favorite crumb cake … a classic everyone should have… no allergies attached!

And here’s a sneak peek…

One Curled Eyelash

Days escape to the young rants,

of words, of requests, of needs,

beats for these moments,

pushes aside own innate greed.

Dries hair, upon my lap she sits,

collects hair ties to borrow,

bruised knees cry for ice as he shouts,

hungry bellies demand, it is time to eat,

still my face finds make-up has no time to greet.

The washed up circles, crookedly sewn lines,

I’ll moisturize you again, dear face, when I find the time.

Showers of just a minute to disguise the sweat,

if only the razor and hands could embrace, like when they first met.

Hairy tops blanket one of my limbs, the other one bare,

the dress I’m wearing forgets to check I swear.

The morning race to actually match pants to shirt,

unbuttoned, does not even check, when I run to see who is hurt.

Those same pants decide to shrink, revealing is not my intention, despite what watching minds may think.

Lipstick kisses away to chubby cheeks, and those that need a change,

loving,

wrinkles dance near my tired eyes,

perfect imperfections outline a decade,

where tweezers are now so strange,

on stained piles of laundry, atop countless toys that do not clean themselves,

in their boxes drown away beneath, yawns and vows, tomorrow to try.

But still days escape, both she and he,

the days slowly coax years to fly.

So I must smile, battling the urge to wish away, these same minutes,

where the imprint of handprints and those of their feet leave beauty marks to be celebrated and worn

those that time flies by, in a flash, captures the beautifully torn edges

upon a heart that learns to enjoy that very flash.

So when you look at me, you’ll see it too,

Wrinkled lines of joy, under that

one,

still,

curled eyelash.


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24/7 Christmas

I’ve been a bit stuck on Christmas and the attitude, and yes, I know I have the wrong season, holiday, month… the wrong everything! But, there is just something so different about people and life in December. There’s just something so different about my kids.  (Maybe all the Santa bribes..) There’s just something so different about me.
There’s nothing better than giving a gift to a loved one and seeing their face light up. My son for example will make you want to keep giving him gifts with his innocent and honest, “Wow! Take a picture! I just love all my gifts. They are all my favorite!”
“Son of a nutcracker!” – He could make me broke saying stuff like that.
every setback is a setup for a comeback! (3)
My daughter is a different story with gifts… let’s just say… we are working on it 😬
But Christmas is so much more than just gifts, it’s really about joy. The joy we can all have. All.Year.Round.
So what happens to it for the other eleven months? Is it just stored away in our attics, saved for an extra special December of tinsel and lights? Or is it… that the craziness of life finds a way to try to erase the miracle … the spirit of Christmas that can exist every day?
According to James 1:2-3 –“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
And with that, Josh Baldwin went on to write …
“When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow tries to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won’t be shaken, I won’t be shaken …” – Josh Baldwin’s “ Stand in Your Love”
So the truth is just that. It is stated clearly. We are meant to have joy all year round. Joy is meant to live in our hearts, not for just a season.
Why can’t we capture that December energy and spread it out throughout the year?
The question is not …. why can’t we… it is…
How Can We?
  1. Random thank you notes/letters– Who doesn’t like receiving a random kind card or even a letter? Last year, I tried to find a way to do that each month by picking people over my life that I was thankful for, that maybe helped me through a challenging time, inspired or inspires me, or even those who I wanted to apology to for a time I was not proud of. Each month, I picked one person to send a letter to. I admit; it did it for the first six months and then after not hearing back from two in a row, I let discouragement tell me I was too busy. But, I am trying again this year. Deep dig .. find the teachers, family members, friends, people you lost touch with .. remind them how much they impacted your life. Remind them how special they are.
  2. Donate – Whether it is within your church or just a family in need or a food bank, giving changes lives. Last year, when visiting a former neighbor she mentioned that they had just had a huge party with way too much food.  (Sounds familiar – I’ve been there many times and it does not help that we are not leftover people.) Instead, of being wasteful, like I’ve been way too many times, she reached out to a local food bank to find out what and if they could donate the leftovers. Sure enough, they gratefully accepted.
  3. Kind notes-  Similar to number 1, they can be monthly, weekly, biweekly, daily or in the moment. Last year, students at my school in the group Start with Hello wrote thank you notes to every staff member from crossing guards to lunch staff to teachers to administrators. While the letters were short, they were sweet and heart felt, and most importantly, they created many smiles that day. Even one smile goes a long way. What about random post it notes for a loved one or even a stranger? During a school assembly last year, the speaker spoke about how he likes to visit Barnes and Nobles and put random positive post its in random pages of books there so that when they were each bought and eventually read, they would have the opportunity to encourage someone… he would more than likely never know. How cool!
  4. Lead or participate in a fundraiser– No matter how much you raise, it matters.  It makes a difference. So jump in! Join a race or go wherever your heart brings you.
  5. Show up and surprise a friend in need or even call people more – In a world where most people are usually in a rush, being pulled in ten or twenty different directions, make time for relationships. They are what matter. Texting is texting. Visiting or even an old-school phone call goes a long way to let someone know you care. And leave a message if they don’t pick up, and don’t be insulted if they don’t call back. Time doesn’t drag its feet for us, so let’s not forget what and who matters. 
  6. Random acts of kindness – Hold the elevator, hold the door, help someone pick up their bag of papers that just fell all over the floor, etc. The opportunities are everywhere every day. Let’s teach our kids, students and younger generations to do this too.   I always have to remind myself that their eyes are always watching and learning.   Model what you want to see.
  7. Pay it forward – I love hearing stories of people paying it forward.  My in-laws, some of the most generous people I have ever met, had their dinner paid for in this way a few months back.  While I can say that I may not have a large amount of funds right now, imagine what giving away a dollar a day for one month could do.  I just read about how Jimmie Allen, one of my favorite artists, who had once been homeless, started to carry around two dollars a day that he used to pay forward. How awesome of an idea is that? Carry a dollar a day that you can’t use on yourself and you can’t come home with.  Or make it a goal to pay for someone else one time this year even if it’s for their coffee.  I don’t drink coffee but I may go through a Dunkin Donuts drive through this year, just to do that.  Whatever it may be, paying it forward is something I plan to do this year.
  8. Volunteer – Join a church or reach out to your own church about opportunities. Volunteering can be done on so many levels within schools, communities, nursing homes, etc. I plan to find more ways to do this year. I am guessing once TJ is in kindergarten (in a few months) there will be even more chances.
  9. Make connections and listen – Due to my anxiety, for years this was difficult. Sure, I had friends and I think I was a good friend. However, truthfully, my own worries and fears often blocked out time that I would and could spend asking others about their own lives. Once I was able to do this, it was a breath of fresh air to hear people, and to listen in a way that was genuine. I still catch myself just being “routine” with my hellos and how are yous. Mainly because I am usually rushing around and not always as on time for things as I used to be. Always trying to fit everything in … Sigh! However, it is my goal to continue to be an open ear this year, and an open heart.
  10. A compliment a day keeps the negativity away– Give a compliment a day ! I love this one and started it back in January. My hope is to continue throughout the year. It’s free, easy, honest, and uplifting wrapped up in a simple sentence or word.
  11. Be kind to yourself – Self compassion, what is that anymore? It’s crazy how much we lose our old selves after kids or even without kids, throughout life.   That is… if we let that happen.   Everyone deserves happiness though and it starts within. Be kind to yourself. Do something for your own well being. Get your nails done, hair done, read a good book, go for a run, join a dance class, take an epsom salt bath with essential oils (One of my favorite calming activities before bed – I call them detox baths because they detox my body and mind!)Whatever it is…learn to love yourself!
I plan to work on several of these areas and ideas so that they become second nature to me. So while the Christmas tree has been in the attic for almost two months now, you can still find a wise man or donkey from the nativity set laying around somewhere because of the kids … and you’ll still find this picture on my phone … it’s one of my favorites…
It reminds me joy isn’t meant to be saved for one season.
It reminds me joy is all year round. 
It reminds me of my joy. 
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“I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.” – Buddy the Elf

 

The Comeback

The Comeback – January 2019
And we’re back!
Every setback is a setup for a comeback!.png
Stepping back…
When I stopped blogging over three years ago, I ended in a panic.
Here I was writing posts about remaining strong in faith in order to overcome fear; and there I was living what felt like a lie. Don’t get me wrong, I was genuine in my goal to not allow the anxieties of motherhood, food allergies, my miscarriage and life control me. My heart wanted so badly to help others through experiences similar to ours. However, I felt like a hypocrite because I myself was battling a war, invisible to most except those very close to me. I needed to help and heal myself in order to best guide my family. I needed healing in every sense of the word. I needed a break from researching, from reading articles, from adding more worry onto our already allergen and chemical aware plates and homes. I needed to find myself and allow myself the time to heal. I needed to admit that I was not okay, that I deserved more, and that there was more. I needed to do it for my husband, my son, my soon-to-be-daughter, my family and friends and most importantly, myself.
Reflecting back …
Having battled anxiety most of my life, I truly believed it was inevitable. The perfect setup. Since the age of five, anxiety was my middle name. (In fact, since I didn’t have an actual middle name given to me at birth, I used to joke to myself that this was indeed meant for me.) Anxiety was just my way,; it was part of my being and always would be … or so I thought. Luckily, I was very mistaken …
Then add into the mix:
-My 7.5 month old son had an anaphylactic reaction to his first taste of yogurt in the middle of a December snow storm where there were NO Epi-pens in the ambulance…
 
-We learned of his 20 more possible allergies at his follow-up appointment…
 
-His skin reactions, his daily breathing treatments, and his viral-induced asthma every time he got sick from age 1-2.5 after he had pneumonia…
 
-Then my best friend from high school experienced the loss of her son (a heart-breaking stillbirth at 35/36 weeks)…
 
-Then my own miscarriage…
The anxiety just continued to build on and on, like a mountain I had no business climbing, yet there was no other way to get down. I was stuck. I was functioning but depressed. I was functioning but anxious. All. The. Time. Looking back, was I even functioning? Was I even present? Was I even living?
Nothing brought me joy. It was a terrible cycle: I would fake it first, then I would get so frustrated with myself for being disingenuous that I would beat myself up even more. A vicious cycle. The whole time my heart had the right intentions. It knew what it wanted and needed. It wanted to inspire others, but inspiration starts within, and fear had tried to wipe me empty. I was a cry for help through broken smile.
Then, I got pregnant with my daughter. It was a difficult pregnancy in the sense that I was nauseous, exhausted and sleep deprived for most of it, nothing like with my son who had spoiled me. She kicked my butt and belly literally! Many told me that it made sense since “girls steal your beauty.” What I didn’t realize yet, it was quite different: she was starting to inspire me…
…to redefine my beauty.
She arrived on her due date naturally just like my son had. What are the chances?!?! (Wish my lottery skills were just as good.) Her birth was a blessing and still the questions stood, why was I not content? Why was I unhappy? I felt so beyond guilty. How could I be this terrible of a person? Of a mother?
I was not beaming with happiness and joy, but she was beautiful and everything I dreamed of. From the time we found I was pregnant, I knew she would have a fighter’s heart like her Mama much like Kip Moore’s song “ Hey Pretty Lady” reminded me. And she had beautiful hazel eyes that resembled her daddy’s baby blues bringing back to Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” I dreamed this dream years before. I dreamed this dream for years. I needed to remember just that, as she smiled back at me … “a fighter’s heart like her Mama”...
The fight back to reality…
Those months that followed my daughter’s birth I found a breast lump, had other OBGYN scares, became engorged for an entire month when she had already been nursing for eight months, … the list was endless and really all added up to one diagnosis in the end: post traumatic stress from my son’s anaphylactic reaction then mixed with a hormonal imbalance leading to … postpartum anxiety.
I couldn’t see it then. I was too caught up in feeling and even scarier, believing, that I was dying. I really thought I was dying. I did not want pity, sympathy nor attention; I wanted someone to save my life. I was in a crisis. I was terrified that I was going to abandon my children. That I wasn’t going to be who they needed. And I beat myself up for it every day and every night. Panic attacks became a normal nighttime routine. I felt so alone all the time but the most isolated times were when those around me, helpless in their own way, asked me to snap out of it. I knew they meant well. But how? If only a snap of the fingers could do such a thing.
Finally, when my daughter was 9 months old I stopped nursing, still exclusively pumping for another 1.5 months. This allowed her to take the bottle that she had refused for the first 9 months of her life when she much rather take the boob. I am Taurus and while I don’t follow signs very often, I do know and admit to how stubborn I am. I was very headstrong about wanting to make it to a year or more, like I did with my son. However, reality hurts when it hits you especially as you are trying to climb your way out of rock bottom. My kids needed me in a different way, much more than just my milk could provide.
Stubborn ways would not save me, but letting go would. So I did just that …
Getting my groove back …
The power of the mind is incredible. I vowed to change my thinking: I would overcome this. I needed a therapist to connect with, to deepen my faith and learn to rely on that faith. I knew deep down that this would be used for good, I just couldn’t see how yet but I knew …
Walk by faith, not sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7
After therapy for a few months and then even doing some sessions of EMDR light therapy, I had some eye opening experiences, a lot of healing, and even more forgiveness. As the ELA teacher in me would say, I also had some aha moments and lessons learned:
  1. Postpartum anxiety is real! How can it not be? Have you ever watched the news or googled searched something or even scrolled your Facebook news-feed to find only positive posts. I think not! I’ve learned Google was the devil for a Mama like me who spent much of her time being undated by negative judgments and news. What we all really need is someone to lift us up. So do just that, surround yourself with positive words. Click on a Bible app or put some positive affirmations on a notes page of your phone. Google search uplifting quotes so that when you go to search up something not-so-positive, you see the inspiration instead. Surround yourself with those who lift you up and cheer you on, not those who judge. It may mean eliminating or limiting social media or even some people. It’s difficult, but possible and worth it.
  2. You deserve happiness.. I deserve happiness. Everyone deserves happiness. Don’t let the lies of the world make you believe something else. Learn what makes you happy as an individual. Then, do what makes you happy. For me, it’s prayer, writing, poetry, being creative and running. It’s not selfish to know and make time for what brings you joy. Even if it does not involve your kids directly, it indirectly does in a greater way than you think. It’s easy to lose yourself in motherhood, and in life in general. So, recognize and embrace what makes you, you.
  3. Forgiveness is key. Or else you cannot fully move on from the past. I had some major resentment raging in me still and often pointed my fingers at others to temporarily let go of it. Cycles will be cycles if you do not forgive. Just think about it. It doesn’t always mean we have to tell the person we forgive them. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to, while other times it is necessary. Either way it is a conscious decision that heals the heart. It was one of the deepest releases and moments when I did just that. It made room for a whole lot more of love, joy and hope. It made room for peace.
  4. You are not alone. Even in a dark room breastfeeding your baby when everyone else seems to be have cocktails at a party or watching television, and you are worried about your milk production or if your daughter’s rash means food allergies like your son, you are never alone. Isolation can happen after a baby. Do not feel guilty. Reach out and build a support system. Like I suggested above, put positive sources of entertainment on your phone as you nurse like a Bible app, read positive news, journal, or write a poem. Sometimes, I would forget calculating how long she nursed and wouldn’t allow my phone near me. Instead, I would sing songs and just talk to my daughter. There are support systems for everything. Find other food allergy families, if you need support. Postpartum groups for breastfeeding are wonderful for so many reasons beyond nursing. Build that village and remember you are never in it alone. Ask for help… that makes you stronger than you think.
  5. Take care of yourself – even if it means taking the drug the doctors recommend or the yoga class you feel like you do not have time for. For those who know me, they would tell you I really try to take the natural, organic, GMO free route as much as possible. However, in hindsight, I should have taken the medication the doctors had prescribed for the postpartum anxiety. But I didn’t and while it took longer, I healed. Healing is possible for everyone.
Reflection back …
So often we label mental health has a weakness. We label food allergies as a weakness. We label asking for help as a weakness. We label, we label, we label. The problem is we label. I found new depths of strength and courage in those labels though. I found a way to stand confident in the fact that history will not repeat itself. But I had to forgive myself and a bunch of others before I had enough room to let amazing joy fill me up.
The reality is once you can learn acceptance in the now, no longer putting life on hold for the greener grass of tomorrow that may never come, that is when you start to live. That is when joy fills your heart. I never had real joy before now. I faked it and was full of shame because of it. But now I realize, through acceptance of myself, forgiveness of my past and that of others who may have left scars, I’m so much stronger than I’ve ever imagined I’d be.
My son, TJ started off with 21 food allergies and has outgrown all but 3 (dairy, eggs, peanuts) at his age of 4.5 now. My daughter Madison Grace has a kick-ass immune system and can’t have sesame or straight dairy milk. And don’t get me wrong, it sticks when we recently learned of her sesame allergy. It stinks when we attend birthday parties and TJ can’t eat the pizza or the cupcakes. However, we have our yummy alternatives and they are accepting of it. They are happy. Don’t get me wrong fear throws a lot at me still as it does for everyone. We all have our own battles but it’s more important to know the battles have all already been won. (John 16:33)
The difference now is I own my joy and it’s wrapped in my deep faith. Its home is in my heart and if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for anyone. Even in my lowest, I’ve never believed in the word impossible. Nothing is impossible with faith. Stand for something, or fall for everything.
And we smile back…
And now I can truly say I genuinely smile with my son who has been waiting the whole time for me to do just that, to let go, smile on… for we are truly learning to embrace the beauty and art of a messy house!
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