Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Book Recommendation: Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott,



Hello, lovely readers!

Many of us are celebrating holidays this month and we do a lot of gift giving. One of my all time favorite gifts to receive is a good book! So, today, I am going to share a little gem of a book with you all: a wonderful book that has changed my life! No joke! I've recommended this book (and its whole series) to my friends and family. I don't master the lessons written about in this small, yet powerful, New York Best Seller, of course, but I do try to implement them every day as much as I can and that alone, like you read above, has changed my life! Keep reading and you'll learn why, specially as I mention my two favorite parts towards the end. 
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Birth Story and What I Wished I'd Known


For a while since I became an adult, and especially after I got pregnant, I heard so many stories of what labor was like. Some seemed like horror stories, others weren’t so bad. Yet, it was still so unimaginable to me what the whole experience could be like.

And then, last December (we 're talking 2018) I found out I was pregnant.

I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to experience pregnancy, labor and motherhood. It had been something I had always imagined and wanted for years. I had never tried and my husband and I were lucky to get pregnant very soon. Seeing those two little lines in the pregnancy test was the start of a new life. 

Fast forward to August 25th in the evening, I started feeling contractions. A stabbing pain that started in my lower back and moved forward to my pelvis. My doctor and several others had mentioned that I would know when they were contractions, and they were right! There was no mistaking them. 

I saw my doctor a few times before I was dilated enough to be hospitalized. On Monday night, I was admitted, thankfully, as the contractions were increasing in pain and consistency. After a few hours, my doctor came in to check me again but, to my surprise, I was still only dilated at 4 cm (of a total of 10). Hours passed, the pain got more and more intense and my plans for a “natural birth without an epidural” started to seem unrealistic. All the women in history that didn’t have that option for pain medication came to my mind and I felt a sudden and utter admiration for them all. And I also was sure they would have also gladly accepted the drugs if they did have the option! I was given medicine to induce more contractions to hopefully speed up the process.

After a few more hours, I was sure I was dilated enough to start pushing soon. But, when the doctor came to check me again, I had only dilated to 5 cm. I could not believe her when she told me… It had been hours, it was probably 6 am and the pain was so intense, horrible and exhausting, that I couldn’t bear to think I had to still wait a few more hours. I had been in labor for far over twenty four hours. The doctor couldn't really figure out why I was not dilating enough when my contractions were strong enough and told me we could either wait or go on to do a cesarean. 

Weeks prior I had designed my Birth Plan, where I had written that I wanted a natural birth, and only a cesarean if there was any danger. As soon as she told me we could do the surgery, though, my intended birth plan went out the window! I was extremely exhausted and in so much pain, that I said yes to surgery right away. Within a few minutes, I was in the surgery room and longing for the epidural that would take me out of my misery. Within seconds, it did. And I thanked science for that. 

My baby was born at 7:58 a.m. on August 27th. A big and healthy baby boy. 

I was very thankful to have had a healthy boy and to the doctors that assisted with the surgery and his birth. I had a realization that even some decades ago, women in my situation would have ended in a far worse situation than I did. Many women died during childbirth, and if I didn’t live in the era we do today, I would very likely have gone too… a lot of us that have had to have C sections would have. 


At seven months pregnant. 

And that is something I wished I’d realized before. Cesareans are often sought as the “worse case scenario”, when in reality, it’s just another better off scenario. All of us that have gone through one, should feel extremely grateful for having had the option and opportunity of one, which very likely saved both ours and our babies’ lives. I wished many of us all realized this and cesareans finally got the reinforcing fame that they deserve. 

On a more superficial note, something else I wished I’d known is that, the weeks following birth, I would still look around 5 months pregnant because of the swelling. Why doesn’t anyone talk about that? It is not cute, yet it is a reality. And something that should be talked about along with it is that it is OK. We just literally gave life, who cares if there are some physical consequences after that, especially if they are temporary! (The swelling usually goes away after a couple of months and you CAN get your figure back!). 

Another thing I wished I’d known is that, unlike I thought and we are all made to believe, I didn’t feel the happiest I would ever feel days after I gave birth, despite having just birthed the person you feel unconditional love towards. Yes, the baby blues are somewhat mentioned here and there and, thankfully, there is more awareness now, but not enough. There are SO many changes going on in your life, hormones going crazy, your wound hurts, you have a belly despite not having a baby inside anymore, you often don’t sleep at all, nipples hurt every time the baby latches on… it is not the best time. And you feel like crying for all of these things, because you love your baby so much, because you love your baby so much AND you still feel these things, and for no reason at all. And that is OK! I always wanted to be a mother and I still felt these things. I did because they are normal. And there are many more! Baby blues usually go away a few weeks after giving birth but there are so many women in which they perpetuate, sometimes becoming an actual depression. And that is OK. It is important, however, to get treatment. And there should be no shame in going through that. It is uncontrollable, just the way you wouldn’t judge someone getting cancer or any other illness. 

Something else I wished I’d known is that it WOULD get better. That hormones would adjust and so would I to my new life and not only things would be OK, but they would be better than ever. Because what they told me was true; every single pain and discomfort would be worth it. 

I hope this helps any of you that are going through pregnancy and/or early parenting. This stage in life has no price. The love you feel for your child truly is unconditional. Enjoy every minute of it, that’s what I’m trying to do every day.

Below is a picture of baby Luca a day after he was born and then of us two months later.






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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Why I Started a Minimalist Lifestyle

Hello, readers!

I am sure you have heard about the topic of today’s blog post somewhere because it is everywhere, it is trending. A lot of times, I am skeptical of many of the things the masses are following. But every now and then, I discover that there is good reason for the popularity. It happened with Harry Potter! And well, minimalism turned out like that too.



First of all, please don’t run. Minimalism doesn’t mean living in a tiny space, having only one or two outfits of clothing, being cheap, and not being able to enjoy the things in life because you can’t have them, buy them or indulge in them. It’s actually quite the contrary: a concept that invites you to get rid of all the things that don’t actually matter to enjoy the things that do. Therefore, helping you enjoy life more.


So, what is minimalism then? I’m going to have to quote The Minimalists for this one because they describe it so well:


"Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom."


I don’t remember the first time I heard about minimalism. But I do remember I used to think it was for people that wanted to live somewhere exotic, probably in a tree house, not own a home or car or clothes, etc., secluded from many of the things I knew brought joy to my life, like books. After all, books are things. And so is the kindle I really want to buy! However, I do remember the first time I figured that minimalism was not really what I thought it was (although if that’s the kind of life you want, it can help you get there). It was in Jennifer L. Scott’s book Lessons From Madame Chic, where she talks about having a capsule wardrobe and how clutter is so not chic. Not only had I the wrong idea about minimalism but now knew that it was attainable and that I wanted in because it sounded so freeing.


I really did have an epiphany. I looked around all the things I had around my apartment, all the clothes and all the shoes, old kitchen wear, useless objects that only took space, and I realized that all of it made me feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. And it felt so great that despite what our highly consumerist society constantly communicates, there was a different way of living. A better way of living.


Soon after I read the book I was getting married and moving to a different country. I took that chance to get rid of so much of my stuff. I won’t tell you it was easy. I struggled with not wanting to get rid of many things because “what if I need them later”? Then I realized I had told myself the same thing about that particular item for years, yet I had still not used it in years! I managed to donate most of my stuff and ended up with all I owned in three large home depot boxes and two suitcases. I know I could still have gone with less. But it was a good start, and it felt pretty great.


Today, around three years later, I have gotten a lot better about not mindlessly shopping for stuff, including my closet. I have a capsule wardrobe now! (A special post about the capsule wardrobe is coming soon). I’m not perfect, I still feel the pressure of consumerism sometimes but I it’s not significant anymore. It has been a learning process. I stopped for a period of time and came back to it and then stopped again. But now, I can truly say I have been implementing it mostly all of the time, constantly. I have a feeling I am getting somewhere. Breaking habits is not easy, and this lifestyle breaks through so much conditioning learned for years.

As a future mom, I have already been tempted to purchase SO MANY things for the arrival of our baby. Every time I log on to social media, I am bombarded by adds of so many different items and the reason I NEED to get them. As I future new mom, I have to admit many are tempting. But it has been easier than ever to say "no" and identify them as mostly marketing tactics. If I do need something, however, for the baby's safety, need or to make my life easier, I will get it. Don't get me wrong. I am not extreme! But for the most part, I've stuck to the basics and many of the things loving friends and family have been so generous to gift to us. It’ll be a journey, for sure! Again, I am no master. And, by the way, I do plan to take you along with me. ;)


Enough of me! Why should you start a minimalist lifestyle? Well, like I said, because it’s life changing. But, how can such a concept be so life changing? Let’s look at some of the benefits:

  • De-materializes yourself. First and foremost, it helps you see that we don’t need to have stuff to be happy. Yes, some things bring us joy and that is find. But not true fulfillment. You can detach from the concept the big corporations have instilled in our minds that we need things to be worthy, happy, successful, accepted, etc.  
  • Less stress. A lot of the stress in our lives is due to not having the things you think  we need. And a lot of the things we think we need are physical possessions. When you realize that you don’t actually need them to be happy, the pressure is off! You can still work towards things you want but no longer feel pressured to have them. And when you can see that, you realize that there is very little we actually need. 
  • Clears your mind. Anyone that has ever declutter their closet, a junk drawer, or any room or part of their house knows the freeing feeling it gives you. Living with less stuff automatically provides more peace.  
  • Extra money. When you make a conscious decision to own fewer things, you spend less! And you can use that extra money for something more valuable. Like an experience.  
  • Quality over quantity. When you do acquire things, you put more thought into it. No more mindless shopping. You end up with fewer things but ones you actually really like and enjoy having.  
  • More time. Having less stuff around the house will lead to having to pick up less stuff. Therefore, giving you more time to do things you like.  
  • Better for the environment. The less we consume, the less harm we will make to the environment. 

As you can see, a minimalist lifestyle is not just a current fad that is only meant for hippies (nothing against hippies). But it’s something attainable for us all and the way the world is right now, probably one of the greatest concepts to embrace for a healthy living, as its benefits are deeper than just dealing with the extra stuff we have around the house.

Don’t freak out. If you decide to embark on this lifestyle, you don’t have to get rid of all of your stuff all at once (although you could if you wanted to). Any habit takes time to engrave in our lives. You can take baby steps. For example, start with decluttering your closet. Get rid of and donate all those clothes you know you will not use anymore. Or start by decluttering the kitchen, all those junk drawers. And then, on another day, go into another room and declutter that room or a closet in that room. Next time you go to a mall, don't just buy anything for the only sake of buying.

This lifestyle is not for everyone and that is fine! But if this article sparked something in you, then maybe it is for you. And if so, I urge you to try it. There are many resources that can help you get into this lifestyle. All it takes a googling of "new to minimalism" or "how to start minimalism" and they will pop up! I'll leave links to some resources down below. And remember, every one has their path and you don't have to become extreme or follow every single thing they tell you to do on how to start. The point of minimalism is to make your life easier, not stress! So, like everything in life, do what is right for you, enjoy the journey and take as fast or slow as you'd like at your own pace.

How to start from The Minimalists

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Marie Kondo material

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

WHAT MINDFUL CLEANING DID FOR ME


Mindful Cleaning

Doing my bed, cleaning my bedroom, washing the dishes, helping to clean the bathroom, do my own laundry… These were all chores I had when I was growing up. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings to my mom asking me to start helping her clean. Can’t we just do something fun? Was all I could think, but I would still have to drag myself and finish my chores, hating every minute of it. Except when I finished and I looked around and saw what I had accomplished: spaces that were orderly and clean, the energy had shifted and it was nicer to be in them. So, was all the fuss and irritation over it even worth it?

Well, it doesn’t matter because I kept complaining. Even though my mom is not the one telling me to clean up now, as an adult, I know I have to do it. After all, I don’t like to live in filth. But throughout my younger years, and until recently, I would still find myself dreading to do the housework. I have a career and we live comfortable but, unless you have a high financial situation where you can pay personnel to do all the housework for you, no matter what you do, there is just no getting around to doing the cleaning, cooking and other housework. As mundane as they are, these are just tasks that have to get done. So, recently, I started asking myself, do I have to add to the unpleasantness of having to do chores by being irritated about it? And actually, I don’t have to do them. Honestly, I am the one that chooses to live in a decently clean environment everyday. My mom doesn’t live with me, it’s me who now chooses to do these things. So, technically, it is a choice!

I started to think, what if, instead of complaining that I have to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen after dinner, I try not complaining, play an audiobook while I do it, and try to make the process, if not enjoyable, a little bit less unpleasant? To my surprise, and I mean it, I was very surprised, after a little while, things changed…

It became a nightly routine I started looking forward to. Yes! Why? Well, it did take practice.

Whenever I noticed a negative-complaining thought arise in my mind when thinking that it was time to get up and clean, I would simply try to ignore it. At first, it was hard, I couldn’t do it. But after a few days, I could simply just let the thought pass by. And I could get right to playing the audiobook I was listening to at the moment, putting away leftover and washing the dishes. I was no longer rushing to get it over with, it actually relaxed me and got me in the right mindset, like my brain was learning this time meant rest was coming soon. Letting go of the resistance (and the audiobook, I must say) helped me be there completely and, to my surprise, I started to feel a little joy in it. Watching the water rinse the soap off dishes is actually relaxing! And after I was done and saw my kitchen clean, I felt very satisfied because it was clean and I didn’t suffered through the process!

I also apply this to other tasks like cleaning other parts of the house, folding and putting away the laundry, cleaning the bathroom and cooking. Even though the one I mostly find joy in is my nightly kitchen-cleaning routine because of the reasons I mentioned earlier, it still has helped me stop thinking about these tasks as something horrible that I must do.

No, I am not saying chores and housework are now my favorite things to do. But it’s something I have to do and probably will have to do for the rest of my life, that is, if I’m lucky enough to be an able body. No matter how much I complained, there was just no getting around it! So I did what I could to minimize my irritation about it and voila, things changed! I don’t suffer anymore because of it. I actively started watching the negative thoughts and trying to make it more enjoyable by adding something I enjoy to the activity, like an audiobook, (thank goodness for audiobooks!), music or even a YouTube video I’ve been meaning to watch.

Once I started actively changing my attitude about some of this housework, I started seeing other things too. During the first trimester of my pregnancy (on my fifth month now, yohoo!) I felt so sick and tired that it was extremely hard to even take a shower! Let alone, do some house cleaning. I clearly remember thinking: why would I complain about doing the chores when I can do the chores! So, when I entered my second trimester and started to feel better, is when this shift happened. I began practicing gratitude for being able to clean! I have a healthy able body that is capable of completing physical activities like these, how lucky am I? Also, how great is it that I choose to have a clean home. I should be proud of myself for wanting to live like that and, at the same time, provide it for my family. Truly! How many people that are not able, would love to have the chance that I have.



Now, all of that being said, please don’t think I am a clean freak, because I am SO not. I like to think that I have an interesting enough life that having an immaculate house is not the priority. But I enjoy hygiene and a clean space to be around. Like I said, I believe it has a nicer energy and that, in turn, influences other areas of your life.

And also, I am not saying that now I always enjoy my cleaning time because it’s not like that. I have days where I feel more tired and I just don’t feel like cleaning at all. On those days, I do give myself a break, maybe I will only do the dishes or maybe skip them all together and leave them for the next day! Like I said, I am not overly concerned. We all have some of those days and guess what? It’s ok.

I am not trying to sound like a housewife from the 50’s with this blog post. Trust me, that is not the point. The point is that, no matter if we think positively or negatively about it, most of us have to face house chores at one point of another, if not everyday of our lives. And really, for the most part, no one is forcing us to do them. If it’s something that we choose to do, why not try to modify the way we think about it? So many things in life affect us depending on the way we see them. This might just be one of them!

Take advantage of your five senses! What is one thing that you enjoy that mostly only requires hearing? Maybe you have a favore podcast, or playlists on your Spotify, audiobooks like me, maybe you can stream your favorite radio show? Feel the crumbs of food being cleaned from your countertops, the water fall on your hands, water is the blood of our planet! Smell the soap you’re using (not the bleach or other chemically-strong cleaners, please). Take pride in living in a decently clean home (you choose to what degree of cleanliness to take it!), and be all there.  

You have options, what’s most important is to give it a try and don’t give up on your first tries. Remember, old habits die hard. Train your mind to change the way it thinks about house chores and who knows, this simple change might just contribute to living a happier life!

Image by joe137 from Pixabay

Image by silviarita from Pixabay
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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Sisterhood Through Pregnancy


I am pregnant! 
Yes, and that's the reason why I hadn't posted in a while. The nausea and lack of energy for the first three months was brutal and overwhelming. I could barely survive doing the minimum! (Not complaining, it's just a fact!). I found out almost at the very beginning, I was around five weeks in. I have always wanted to be a mother and now, in my early thirties, life is granting me this amazing gift. I'm four months in and I still can't feel my baby move and I am so happy that sometimes it's still hard to believe that it is happening. I am now experiencing the usual "inexpiable feeling" of love and cannot believe it will only grow from now on. 

This post is not to talk about my baby, however, but something else that pregnancy has brought with it too. The connection I can feel with women. Not other pregnant women or mom friends around me, but in my community, in the country, in the whole world, and all the women that came before me, throughout history, and all the women that will come after me, in the future. 

When I knew I was pregnant, I went and downloaded a famous app for pregnancy and motherhood. I really wanted to see how my baby would grow as time went by when he was in my womb. This is my first pregnancy and well, I knew nothing about it and taking care of a baby. I wanted more information. I am a big reader and also looked for pregnancy books. After reading a lot of the articles in the app with basic information such as exercises and foods to avoid or that were safe/unsafe during pregnancy, name ideas, recommended items to purchase for the first couple of months, etc. I kind of didn't feel like reading any books about the subject. I definitely didn't think I knew everything there is to know about pregnancy and taking care of a baby and all the do's and don'ts (how would that even be possible!) But I felt confident that at least I knew the most important things to me at the time: following the recommendations for having a healthy pregnancy so that both me and the baby were safe and healthy. Also, I knew I could always contact my doctor if I had any questions or concerns. Being an active reader, I was very surprised I had no desire to read any books that would tell me how to prepare for childbirth, for caring for the baby the first few weeks, etc. I ended up not buying any pregnancy books! 

*Side note: I am currently reading a book that I knew I wanted to read ever since I saw it and before I was pregnant: Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. But it's more about parenting, specifically French parenting, than pregnancy. Also, I plan to read Connoiseur Kids, coming out this summer, by Jennifer L. Scott, one of my favorite authors, because I like her philosophy in many aspects of life and would love to hear her insight on, again, raising children, not necessarily pregnancy.*

I think a lot of you that may have kids know that pregnancy is also a time where you hear all kinds of (unsolicited) comments and advice. Well, it happened to me too and I'm prepared to keep hearing them for the rest of my pregnancy and probably all through parenting. And yes, of course I've had questions! This is a life-altering event that is happening to me for the first time. And I have consulted a couple of my friends that have been mothers, my mom, etc. Even after many kids, I'm pretty sure no one would know everything there is to know. 

But after the superficial questions and normal concerns, something had risen in me that I hadn't expected. Even though I had an enormous desire to be a mother, before I got pregnant I would think that during delivery I would freak and when the baby was born I would have no idea what to do next. But as the days go by and as I can see my belly grow, a confidence in me is also growing. I feel confident that I will know what to do when the time comes. That, with the help of my nurse and/or doctors, I will be able to get through giving birth when it happens. And the confidence that I will know what to do when I have the baby in my arms, how to carry him, how to change his diaper and what to do when he cries those first few times of his early life. I'm not saying I will know everything there is to know about babies and children, raising and taking care of them, but I trust myself in knowing the fundamentals. And I am very happy about that! 

Where did this confidence come from? I don't know exactly. But I trust that my body will know what to do when the time comes for birth by instinct. My body is making this baby all on its own without me having to think about it or tell it how. Of course it will know what to do to bring the baby into the world. I truly trust that I will know how to carry him and feed him and care for him by instinct. I am a woman, and we do this naturally, by instinct. All the women that came before me, throughout our history, have done it and I am sure it came from this same confidence and trust in their instinct. Otherwise, we wouldn't all be here. All the women that are now mothers and have given birth and are raising their children have this inner knowing deep inside. And all the women that will come after us will have it too. 

How wonderful it is to know that, in this way, all mothers in our past, in our present and in our future are all connected. And now, I will join this natural web of female wisdom. It is a pretty darn special feeling to have and I feel extremely grateful and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to experience it, it is truly a tremendously beautiful gift. May this reading bring you closer to that web of women in time that have been mothers and with those that will be mothers for all the years to come and build a sisterhood with those around you, in the present, that are mothers just like you.

Artwork by Claudia Tremblay

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)
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