Driving Stick

looking in rearview mirrir

Sometimes, life is like driving stick shift! If you’ve ever driven a manual transmission, you’re really going to grasp what I’m talking about here.

 

There are times in life when we seem to be coasting, enjoying the scenery and the ride. There are no potholes, speed bumps or uphill climbs. There isn’t a lot of effort required from us to get through each day. Life is good! It’s very good!

 

Then there are times when it’s not effortless at all. Especially when we are facing mountains. Occasionally, we must come to a stop in order to regroup and gather strength to continue on our journey. It’s in these times that we need to keep our foot on the brake to ensure that we don’t slide backwards and crash into what’s behind us. It’s not good for us to dwell on past drama.

 

When driving stick, you must keep your foot on the clutch and the brake when you come to a stop on an incline. When it’s time to go, you have to be ready to move forward by simultaneously taking your foot off the brake and give it gas as you release the clutch. If you don’t give it gas, you will slide backwards and possibly crash into what’s behind you. Even if you have a slow start, it’s important to just go. You can’t be afraid to give it some gas!

 

In life, it’s never wise to focus too long on your past mistakes and drama. Yes, we learn from it but we must keep moving forward because it does us no good to linger or go backwards and crash. It’s okay if you have to take it slow, just drive.

 

car-vehicle-measure-fast-large

 

 

Sometimes we have trouble getting started. We let fear paralyze us. This is why we need people in our lives to encourage us to step outside of our fear. It may even require a gentle push. That’s what good friends and family are for.

 

We all need people who will be there during the times we stall and have drama. But understand that not everyone wants to see you take off and go because they are drawn to the stall and the drama. It’s what they relate to. It’s where they are comfortable.

 

More importantly, we need friends who are willing to give us a push. People who have faith in us and genuinely want to see us fly!

 

If you need a little momentum and encouragement to get going, make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who really want to see you GO! It’s like popping the clutch. If you only hang out with those who want to sit in the car with you and talk about drama, you’ll remain stationary forever. You’ve got to have people who will give you a push and then sincerely celebrate your forward motion when you take off.

 

A Mother’s Love

A mother's love

 

 

We’ve just celebrated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. On these days we honor our parents and celebrate all that they have done for us. When we grow up and become parents ourselves, we truly begin to understand what that means and the depth of love that our parents have for us.

 

There is no other love like the love a parent feels for their child. At times it will incite us to do things that we may not otherwise consider doing. No matter how old our children get, they are forever on our hearts and we want the best for them. It is our instinct to protect and be there for them always.

 

I was pretty shy when I was younger. I didn’t often speak up for myself. Having children is the very thing that brought me out of my shell and gave me confidence. I realized soon after my children were born that it was my responsibility to speak for them and be their advocate. I had to take care of them. I knew that if I wasn’t going to speak up and make sure they were treated justly, nobody would. There may be times when it’s wise to remain silent in the face of injustice but when it involves our children, we are compelled to protect them.

 

As my kids grew up, there were times that I had to assert myself to ensure that they were treated fairly. It wasn’t something that was very comfortable for me but I took care of things when I needed to. You may get away with messing with me but if you were unfair or mean to one of my children then you better watch out! I faced teachers, other parents, doctors, and even other kids at times. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do but as a mom I had to. It was instinctual. I call it the “Mother Hen Syndrome”.

 

The thing is, my children are now adults but I still have that instinct to protect them from people who treat them unfairly. Of course they are more than capable of speaking up for themselves but it takes great self-discipline on my part to remain silent when I see an injustice towards one of my children. I don’t think this will ever go away, this feeling of wanting to call someone out who does them wrong. But I must allow them to speak for themselves. It’s part of growing up. Besides, at this point in their lives, they would be horrified if I actually did something!

 

Unfortunately, there are always going to be people that will be hateful or try to take advantage of others and very soon, my children will be the ones who will need to speak up for my future grandchildren. This cycle will continue. Of course, if they ever need help, the grandma hen is here and ready to take action.

 

Mom

REALLY BIG NEWS!

Grandma chalkboard

Yes, this news is really, really big! I mean it’s life changing. I am about to turn into one of those complete fools who can’t stop going on and on about how beautiful my grand-baby is. I am going to be a grandmother. So please bear with me as I post millions of baby pics on Facebook, Instagram and everywhere else imaginable. I have no doubt that at least in my eyes, it will be the most beautiful baby ever born.

 

I’ve told a few people about this grand event and I keep getting a similar question; what will the baby call me? I didn’t know that I get to decide this! When my first child was born he could say nana really well so we went with Nanny for the name of my mom, (his grandmother). It really had more to do with the fact that he liked bananas a lot and we took that name and ran with it. Now that I think about it, he probably wondered why he was supposed to call her that since she was clearly NOT a banana.

 

So I want to know, if you are a grandparent, what does your grandchild call you? I’m open to suggestions!

How to Lose the Mommy Tummy

new mom exercising

One of the most common things I hear from new mothers is the frustration they have with getting back into their pre-pregnancy shape.  There are times that the new mom can just focus on cleaning up her nutrition and starting an exercise program, but there also times that this isn’t enough.

Weight Gain vs Abdominal Separation

After giving birth to your precious bundle of joy, it’s not uncommon to struggle with getting rid of the mommy tummy. There should have been some weight gain during the pregnancy, and there is no reason to rush to losing any body fat that you gained initially during pregnancy. When a mom is breastfeeding, weight loss should not be as big of a priority as making sure the baby is getting the nutrients he/she needs. There is one condition that creates a lasting effect on your abdominal shape though, called Diastasis Recti, a fancy name for abdominal separation, and it is a bit more difficult to get rid of.

What is Diastasis Recti?

During pregnancy the rectus abdominus (muscles in the abdominals) can be stretched apart creating a gap between the muscles. It’s most likely to happen to women over 35, large (or multiple birth) babies, and/or multiple pregnancies. It’s the type of change that has a lasting impact on your body no matter how lean you get, but there are things you can do that make it better (or worse!).

Bad Exercises for Diastasis Recti

I know you want to hit the gym hard and start doing all of the crunches you see everyone else doing. It makes sense, right? Your abs don’t look right, so you need to work your abs harder to get the shape you want!  It’s not going to work in this case. Doing crunches that push out your abdominal wall will only make the problem worse over time. Avoid all types of exercises that push your abdominals up and create pressure on the separated area.

Good Exercises for Diastasis Recti

Focus on exercises that pull the abdominals down towards your spine.  This will all you to use your deeper core muscles to draw the abdominals in and reduce the space between the separation.  The exercises I love for this include:

Beginnerwoman seated abdominal

  • Seated Contraction – Sitting upright in a chair, try to pull the abdominals towards your spine. Hold it for 2 seconds at a time, and then return to a middle position. Make sure you don’t push out your abs in between. Eventually work your time up to a 10 second hold.  The more repetitions you do, the better. It’s an exercise you can do even while you watch television!
  • Floor Contraction – This is easier than the first exercise, but it’s still an excellent exercise to work on. Do the same exercise as above while laying on your back on the floor. Try to hold the contraction for 20-30 seconds instead of 2-10 seconds. To make it easier you can bend your knees, and to make it more challenging, straighten your legs and let them rest on the floor.

Intermediatewoman wall push up

  • Wall Pushup – Hold yourself in a pushup position on the wall while drawing the abdominal exercise in, like you did in the beginner exercises. Now you are fighting gravity more than before and your abdominals will work much harder.
  • Ball Bridge – Sit on a stability ball and roll forward until your head is resting comfortably on the ball. Your knees should be at 90 degrees and your torso will be flat, like a table. Now do the same hold/contraction that you did previously in the floor contraction exercise.

Advanced

  • Wall Squat – With your back against the wall, lower yourself until your legs are at a 90 degree angle. In this position, draw your abdominals in for 5 seconds and then woman wall squatslowly raise yourself back up. Start by doing this exercise 10 times, but work your way up to 20 repetitions.

With any medical condition, it’s always advisable to contact your physician first. These are very simple, progressive exercise that can be done for those with Diastasis Recti. The key is to build as much strength in the muscles that draw the abdominals in, as opposed to pushing the abs out.  I hope it’s helpful, and would welcome any questions you have.

Press On

Climbing to the mountaintop

The landscape of our life is full of mountains and valleys. We mature with every step we take along our journey and become wiser and stronger for it. We’re constantly improving and growing. When we stop doing that, our purpose here is complete.

 

When facing the valleys of life, it can be very seductive to just settle in and have a pity party. Many times people cave into the temptation and stay in that frame of mind for a while. They lie down and cry and keep crying until they’ve cried it out. For some, this can take years or even an entire lifetime.

 

I’ve found that while the mountains and valleys of life may shape us, they don’t have to personify us. Just because you’re in the valley, it doesn’t mean you have to set your focus there. Set your eyes on the mountaintop and just keep going. In fact, many times the greatest and cruelest milestones in life happen simultaneously. Some of the most poignant moments in my own life have come during times of strife and chaos. I think about the turmoil of my life several years ago when I was going through a divorce and my life, as I’d known it, was drastically changing. There were things happening with my children that were almost unbearable. Many times I wanted to just fall into the pit of self-pity, bitterness and despair. To be perfectly honest, the lure was incredibly strong and I did go there a time or two. I just didn’t stay there. I had a business to run and I quickly realized that nobody was going to do it for me. I had to press on. Failure wasn’t an option. When I look back at that time now, I realize that it was also a time of countless blessings. Amazing and beautiful changes were taking place. I’m now a much stronger and confident woman because of the strength it took to climb out of those valleys.

 

If we allow ourselves the luxury of getting stuck in a pity party, it takes our focus away from the amazing blessings we are receiving. Yes, there should be a time for grieving, but we can’t allow ourselves to settle there. If we do, we’ll never realize the blessings and changes that can take place. You can only see clearly into the valley once you have made your way out. Take a quick look back to adjust your perspective and then press on. You’ll see that from the mountaintop, the valley looks very small.

 

We get to choose where we set our eyes. What we continually focus on becomes magnified in our lives. Is it on the valley or the mountaintop? If we focus on the love, grace, mercy and blessings in life, we began to see them more clearly and the chaos and drama tends to diminish. It takes an effort to look for the good. Pain will fight to be recognized. But once you’re able to focus your eyes clearly on all that is right and good, your memories of the chaos will fade. Choose to remember the precious moments and stop dwelling on the bad. Look for what’s on that mountaintop and stop looking down into the valley. What your eyes are focused on is where your path will lead. Learn to appreciate and enjoy the journey. Feel joy with each step you are blessed with taking.

 

Time will keep passing. Your life will continue to go on. What are you doing with it? If you’re lying in the pit of despair, life will pass you by. Pick yourself up and start taking steps in the right direction. Recognize your blessings and be thankful.

 

“There are times when you can’t really see or even feel how sweet life can be. Hopefully its mountains will be higher than its valleys are deep. I know things that are broken can be fixed. Take the punch if you have to, hit the canvas and then get up again. Life is worth it.” ~ Queen Latifah