Thursday, August 8, 2013

The future of My Mama Mojo

I have been quiet..very very quiet.  I am a true introvert and tend to hibernate when I'm upset, going through major life changes or contemplating an important decision.  

During this hibernation-it was all three.  

You see, when I first started My Mama Mojo over 3 years ago I had a fire under my butt and pure passion in my heart.  I was bound and determined to create a new way of thinking for moms, a place for them to vent, get support and walk away with new empowering perspectives.   I was going to have phone clients from all over the world, run tons of local workshops and get into large corporations to help facilitate better work life balance strategies for moms through their EAP and HR teams.  

I had grandiose plans alright. 

Well... all of this happened, but on a MUCH smaller scale than what I had envisioned.  I did everything I knew to do to get this business going- even to a fault, and it just didn't happen. I thought this coaching business was going supply me with enough money that I could slide out of school counseling and become a full-time life and wellness coach- specializing in the Mamas overall well being and empowerment.  I have come to terms that it just isn't going to happen...

...or at least not the way I had initially thought.

At the same time I started to let go of my dream business coming to fruition, my part-time school counseling position unexpectedly went full time.  I was faced with the decision to hang on to the coaching that wasn't working out so well (and change schools, again) or accept the full time job and  get out of debt.  

I choose responsibility.  

I really do enjoy school counseling, and am especially fond of my current school, but hadn't planned to go back full time.  The decision has rocked my family, my coaching plans and my future. Although as I write this I fully embrace these changes (except now I have to wake up at 5:15 to get to the gym-not loving that!)  

In my heart, closing shop on My Mama Mojo just isn't an option.  

One of my greatest joys is when a new client finds me and breaths a sigh of relief that they aren't the only one out there struggling, and that they have found a safe (and fun) place to get support.  It is in these moments and during the coaching process, that I feel as though I have found my calling.  So... I can't let go of coaching completely and will still have a few evening coaching sessions available each week. I do however have to give up the newsletters, the active Facebook page, free talks and workshops for Mom's Groups and any time consuming advertising. This is my compromise.

 I just won't have the time because...

In addition to going back to work full time and having a little coaching on the side...big drum roll please.....I am going back to school!  I have taken 1 of the 3 classes I need to get my counseling license for private practice in Maryland.  Even though I have a MEd in counseling, I am not a licensed clinical counselor (yet). After the two remaining classes, I will have to sit for 2 exams and get 100 hours of supervision-then I can take insurance from clients! 

I have learned through this three year (highly emotional) process that I absolutely LOVE working with moms who are struggling in some area of their life. Whether that struggle is maternal guilt, marital difficulty, not enjoying motherhood, stress, lack of self-care, home organization, fitness, discipline issues, lack of job fulfilment, empty-nesters or they have completely lost themselves to motherhood (like I did)...I am here to help.  I truly believe my absolutely miserable several years of early motherhood was to prepare me for this very job.  It is what I am meant to do.

Happy moms make happy families and this is the basis and vision for what I do.  

And-I have always enjoyed working with youth in families as a school counselor for the past 15 years. So if I put my "two loves" together, I see my future counseling practice as working with youth, families, couples counseling (particularly adjusting to parenthood) -with a specialty in Postpartum Depression and anxiety.  It will be a slow process since I am working full time now (and oh yeah...I still have two young kids), but I hope to be completely done in 2 1/2 years.  

And did I mention...I can then accept insurance!!!!? Yippy!!!

So there it is...

  • I'm going back to work full-time as a school counselor
  • My Mama Mojo will exist on a very small scale with a few evening appointments
  • I'm going back to school so I can start a private practice (and accept insurance)!

Hibernation always works for me!

With love and gratitude to my newsletter subscribers, blog readers, FB  peeps, and most of all the many  amazing and inspirational clients I have met along the way.  You know where to find me if you need some some hand holding, a kick in the butt or someone to help untangle your destructive thoughts and routines.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yup, "they" were right!

I was never one to get emotional at my kids' milestones.  When breast feeding was complete I felt liberated, when my kids started walking, I was happy for their independence (and my aching back) and I remember at my first child's first birthday party my husband and I high fived each other in celebration that we survived-both the baby and our marriage!  When other parents were welting up at the bus stop as their 5 year olds boarded the bus to go off to elementary school, I was all smiles at the thought of what we had done in preparation for our kids to fly from the nest (and the joy of no more day care payments).  I love my kids, but I was not sentimental about letting each of the early stages go becuase these times were quite emotionally challenging for me!

My husband and I both knew we would love having older kids, but the baby/toddler stage just wasn't our thing.  I remember rushing through each milestone doing mental checks in my head knowing we were that much closer to having elementary age school children. I have never cued at a baby or had even a fleeting thought of having another child once I knew our family was complete in 2006.  I have looked back from time to time, not wishing to do it over again -because for me the experience was really quite hard. But I have wished that  I knew then what I know now...

All those annoying people who made it a point to tell me to enjoy it now becuase it goes so fast-were right! 

It was like the universe was amplifying these sentiments to me yesterday.  I was  paying keen  attention to the young families around me.  I'm sure I am surrounded by similar experiences all the time, but for some reason I was really attuned to moms and young kids during my daily errands. I saw a mom mouthing the words to 'Wheels on the Bus' as she drove along in her hot mama mini van in attempt to calm crying baby,  I chucked as I witnessed a 3 year old potty catastrophe in the gym locker room, and I felt for the mom who was dealing with a two year old twins tearing everything off the shelf at the grocery store while she was attempting to fill her cart.  All three of these women were taking these situations in stride-each with grace and/or humor.  These are the very things that used to send me over the edge when I was living it.  I would correct the situation as quickly as I could and hope for time to hurry up and get here so I could have older and more independent kids.  These are the very moments I now remember fondly as I look at other families in the trenches-but I didn't enjoy it AT ALL while I was there.

I wished I would have slowed down, had a laugh and enjoyed the moment for what it was.

I can't turn back the hands of time, and I won't tell you to "enjoy every moment" becuase that is soooo unrealistic-but I can take these lessons and experiences and apply them to today.  Yes, these little monsters are demanding, frustrating and all consuming-but they are also so damn cute for such a short period of time.  I hope if you are anything like I was, or just in a frustrated space right now, that this post will encourage you to slow down, enjoy most of the moments (even the difficult ones) and to have few regrets when your kids are older and don't depend on you so much.

And for me...I will keep these thoughts with me when I am reading my 6 year old son the same Star Wars book for the 162nd time, I step on a lego in the middle of the night, when both kids come home from school and explode their  shoes, back packs and half eaten lunches all over my house, or my 8 year old daughter is bargaining for just 2 more minutes of a back tickle when I just want her to go to sleep already!  I will remember that these experience will soon be a fond memory, so I will stay in the moment and enjoy! But most importantly, I won't wait for these experiences to be memories before I enjoy them.  I will appreciate them today.  In turn, I may be the one balling my eyes out at the 5th grade graduation ceramony in just a few short years!

 When these times are gone,  I will long for the days my kids wanted me around!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To tell or not to tell...

These last several days have been emotional for all of us.  It has been an extra stessor if your kids are elementary school age.  The worry and fret over what to tell them (if anything ) was weighing heavily on almost every parent I know.  This is a deeply personal decision and often based on your own child and their needs.  

I work as a counselor in an elementary school and have spent the last few days combing through "expert advice" and reflecting on my own personal experience in dealing with kids and crisis. Upon returning to school yesterday and fully braced with all of my "counselor tools" the only trend I saw of  the kids who were most traumatized were those who watched the news without much parental involvement or processing. If children knew, were comforted and had their questions answered-they were fine.  And for the most part, the ones who were sheltered remained that way.  No matter what you decided to do-shield completely, share a little or give details, the important aspect is that you are there for them, that you remain calm, comforting and are keeping your normal routines. 

I found a lot of valuable insight from my searching and reading, but this was the best article I have found on what to say/not say to your kids as well as how to teach self-talk and self regulation in times of stress.

I am thinking of all the parents who lost their children, although I still can't wrap my brain around it. I am thinking of mothers who were touched so deeply from this event because they have young troubled children of their own. I am thinking of mothers whose children have Aspergers and are feeling like they now have to defend their children from finger pointing and ignorance of the disability.  And I am thinking of all of you- and how this affects you personally-as I know we have all been deeply touched.

I am wishing that ALL MOTHERS will find some comfort and peace among this unthinkable tragedy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Are you feeling a little crazy?

Tis the feel crazy!  And out of balance, stressed and overwhelmed.  I have had almost all of my regular clients cancel their sessions in the last two weeks because the just can't manage one more thing to do (talk to me)!  If you are feeling like you are losing your mind right about now, you are not alone.  But, you can feel more in control.

This post will be short and sweet-I know you have a lot to do.

Out of town guests, shopping, wrapping, travel preparations, decorating, cleaning, entertaining, partying...partying and more partying.  Then we are trying to manage our sleep deprived-hyped up on sugar kids (and selves) from all the partying and late nights.  This-all on top of cold and flu season and work deadlines to crank out before the New Year.  Sound familiar?


Women are so damn hard on themselves.  Instead of enjoying the holiday season it is like a sprint to the finish-and instead of looking back fondly at the experience, we collapse.  We don't enjoy or even think about what the season means to us-we just go, go, go.  Do more, more, more.  Repeat. But the kicker is- in this process not only do we feel frazzled, but we get upset with ourselves for not feeling in control or fear we are going backwards in any progress that we have made to be organized, healthy and peaceful.

This is simply not true!

No matter how much progress you have made in whatever area of your life you are focused on right now-you are not going backwards.  The holidays are chaotic, that is why there are so many movies, cards and commercials making fun of what we do to ourselves during the months of November and December.  Some of this extra "stuff" is within your control, but some of it is not.

The best thing you can do right now is focus on eliminating stuff on the list that you really don't want to do (as I talk about here in a post from last year).  As well as give yourself permission to let go a little for the next couple of weeks with the things you can't control.  Be gentle with yourself.  You will get back on track after all the visitors have gone, the decorations are back in their bins and your cookies have all been eaten.  Mark it on your calender now-January 1, 2013-and pick up where you left your goals-along with the rest of the world.

I wish you lots of deep breaths,  a sense of humor and tons of love and warmth with those you care most about.

Happy Holidays Mamas from my family to yours!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Soccer season is O.V.E.R.

Can I tell you how darn happy I am to have my Saturdays and evenings back?  2 kids, 2 evening practices and 2 games on Saturdays...yup O.V.E.R.!  And did I mention, my husband coaches both teams?  I do enjoy watching them play (aside from my daughter's double header in the 42 degrees and hurricane scale gusts of wind).  But, I do NOT enjoy the time commitment.  I do NOT enjoy the nagging to find the game shirt, or to get the shin guards and cleats on.  And I NEVER enjoy rushing around from practice to practice-game to game. I could never be an Olympic mom-I can barely hang on to "soccer mom" status.

However, I know many families with multiple kids, and each kid has several activities-and it works for them.  These kids are entertained,  happy and thriving.  The parents enjoy participating and watching their kids learn and perform. The family is a well oiled machine of who needs to be where and when and which parent is going with what child for each day of the week.

I just can't be this mom.

My kids are not these kids.

My kids like the idea of most things, but do not yet have the passion and drive to carry out a season or an 8 week class of any sorts. It ends up being me who is nagging them to get ready and go.  They poke and whine about how they don't want to stop what they are doing.  I have questioned my sanity many times after paying hundreds of dollars for an activity only to drag my kids out to the car- crying that they don't want to go.  If given the choice they will always pick staying at home vs going to any organized activity.

And I have to admit, not much of it appeals to me either...rushing through homework, scrambling to get ready, eating in the car, and being a slave to my kids' schedules.  I love the evenings when we have nothing going on.  I take great joy in watching my kids run outside, play with the neighbors, cuddle with their dogs, build Legos or pretend they're in a rock band.  I like giving them the choice to help me cook dinner, being able to go for a long walk and doing homework at a normal speed instead of setting a timer.  The pace of having nothing to do other than enjoy each others' company feels really peaceful to me (unless they are bored and fighting of course)!

On the flip side, I do appreciate what sports, music lessons and the arts do for kids.  They increase self-esteem, teach self discipline and develop positive social skills.  Studies have proven that sports and music actually improve kids' performance in school.  So I get it, there are certainly benefits! For each family and each kid within a family- the magic number and type of activity is varied based on how well they manage time (homework, chores, etc) interest in the activity, and amount of down time that is needed.

We all need to find our happy balance within our family unit-whether that is no activity or something everyday of the week.

It is a good thing my husband is motivated about getting our kids involved.  It is he who encourages our kids to get try new things and takes the lead on organizing our activity schedule.  For our family, our deal is that each child must participate in one, but no more than two activities. Soccer is over, but this week starts music lessons....wish me luck!  If it was left up to me, all winter I would sit in front of the fire and play board games or build snowmen in our yard!

How do you create a balance that works for everyone in your home?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What do you NEED when things get rough?

So, this is my life right now.  The meds on the left are my son's and the meds on the right are my puppy's.  I believe I have earned an honorary medical degree for the amount of meds I have learned about and dispensed in the last 6 weeks.  My son has struggled with a sinus infection, bronchitis and on-going asthma.  My puppy has had three ear infections, a skin infection, a respiratory infection and sniffed a small lego which caused yellow snot to come out of his nose for 3 weeks straight.  And oh ...he just got neutered on Monday and a day later I called the vet to ask her if by chance she forgot to take one of his balls off because there it was...hanging there.  Apparently, she didn't  forget a testicle, but what we described was his scrotum filling up with blood.  So he's on watch until it gets absorbed into his body. Good times!

School has been missed, clients have been cancelled, I've been on the phone with doctors and insurance companies for up to 90 minutes at a time... and the work has piled up.  But perhaps most potentially crushing to my spirits and well being (besides watching them suffer of course) is the disrupted sleep I have encountered over the last several weeks tending to my sick child and puppy.

For me, sleep is one of my top priorities.  Without it I am unkind.

We all have that one thing we need when life gets hard that we need to keep us going. I've heard some people say they need their environment to be orderly to feel more in control, so they clean.  In times of stress one of my best friends always throws a party.  She loves being surrounded by friends and family.  Many of my clients ramp up the exercise to decrease their stress level.  Me?  Definitely sleep.  I don't care if I eat chips for dinner, don't exercise or have 51 loads of laundry.  As long as I have adequate sleep I can deal with the crisis at hand and still be pleasant about it.

During this current crisis I have eaten complete junk, exercised today for the first time in weeks and nobody in my house has a clean pair of underwear.  But I am sleeping as much as I possibly can.  I am still being kind and a good care taker to those who need me.  I am calm and balanced and know I can get through this with grace and humor.

How about you? What is your thing?  What do you need to do in order to get though difficult time..and still be kind, balanced and calm?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Are my expectations too high? What I learned about motherhood from my dog trainer!

"This is a great dog!"  Said the dog trainer I hired to save my sanity from my hyperactive, barking and destructive 7 month old Labradoodle.  "He is so calm and loving...and so trainable."  You really lucked out."

Uhhh...really? Are we talking about the same dog?  The one who barks incessantly? The one who drinks out of the toilet bowl? The one who body slams the front door when I go to get the mail? The one who eats my underwear, chews my kids' toys, and unravels every toilet paper roll in the house?  The one who destroyed my screened in porch in a matter of exactly 12 minutes?  The one who needs put under next week to get his nose scoped because we believe he snorted a lego? That dog?

Yes, he is one and the same. "He is just a puppy,"  She tells me.  Right, I forgot.

And then it struck me, people say the same thing about my kids.  Well, not the calm, loving and trainable part...but that they are great kids.  I often have the same reaction-Are you talking about MY kids?  I have the same conversation with my husband about 8 times a year.  It usually goes something like this:

Me: Are other kids this difficult?
Him:  Yes
Me: Do other parents struggle as much as us?
Him: Yes
Me: Our kids are so damn hard!
Him: Yes, they are strong willed kids.
Me: Are we doing something wrong?
Him: No, they are kids.  You expect too much.  You work in a school, you should know what is normal kid behavior is.
Me:  Pissed off that he didn't agree with me and walk away. He's right, I should know better.

But...when you are a mom and you have emotions tied to your own kids, AND they aren't behaving the way you want them to, these are normal questions.  I often have to remind myself that all kids say "no," ignore their parents, don't listen the first time, fight with their siblings, have meltdowns, need reminders to calm down, be quiet and have manners.  Few of them like baths, bedtimes or getting ready in the morning.  I never met a kid who behaved all of the time. They are all a pain in the ass-sometimes. That is why they call them kids, not adults. Come to think of it most adults I know need similar reminders from time to time too!  

So yes, I've decided that my expectations are too high.  That my kids behave like kids.  Yes, they ARE great kids, but they also can be a pain in the ass.  Just like every other kid I know!