Posted in Baby, blogging, family, Health, life, Mom

Time Management for Mothers: How to include time for Self-Care?

To be very clear, this is not your traditional “how-to” post. I am looking for an answer, not providing one. This is a question that I am sending out into the void hoping for some insight. This concept is something I’m having a hard time getting my head around. I’m not trying to be a martyr. I’m not trying to convince myself or others of what a selfless mother I am. I simply can not figure out what it means and how to do it.

Is getting a haircut self-care? I think it might be. I haven’t one in almost a year. And I DESPERATELY need one. And when I go over the excuses in my head as to why, it really boils down to time. And perhaps a smidge of laziness.

Is going to the doctor considered self-care? Perhaps. If so, I have indulged in that twice this week. I put it off last week and my illness got worse. Why didn’t I go when I first started feeling under the weather? Nikola had been sick and it was inevitable that I was going to get it. As a mom, I think it may just be commonplace that your primary focus is “I’ll be fine. Let’s get baby healthy.” And now, here I am. sick with a virus that has wreaked havoc on my respiratory and digestive system the likes of which I have never seen or experienced. And due to the contagiousness of the virus my mother had to come and pick up Nikola and take him to her house for a couple of days. This is the first time I haven’t been with him overnight and it has been hard. Is having a “night off” from your baby in order to recuperate self-care?

A few months ago, I posted about some terrible migraines I was having. I received messages from friends with helpful tips and one in particular from an accomplished Yoga Therapist with an offer to come in for an appointment. It was so kind and generous of her to reach out. And I wanted to go. I wanted to make an appointment so badly. But I just couldn’t figure out how to move that appointment to the top of my priority list. For whatever reason.

Time management as a mother has got to be one of trickiest parts of the title. Am I willing to sacrifice time with my son on Saturday to go get a haircut, or to go get a massage, maybe go to the movies? There has been this meme floating around that says something like “Society expects women to mother like they don’t work and work like they’re not a mother.” I have a full-time job that I love. By the time I pick up Nikola at daycare and get home its 5:30pm. Nikola has imposed on himself a strict bedtime of 7:00pm. He just passes out, every night, at that time. So Monday through Friday, I get one and half hours with him. That ain’t a lot. I miss him all day long, and then I miss him when he goes to bed. So, when Saturday and Sunday come along, I just don’t want to NOT be with him. There have been so so many weeks where I’ve said “I’m going to go to the movies this weekend. Have some alone time.” but when the weekend rolls around, those plans have gone out the window. I no longer want to go.

Today, there is such an emphasis on self-care. The importance of it, and I believe it is important. This blog is my main source of it. And even then, I can’t find the time or energy to write a post. While I have 23 posts saved to my “draft” folder. The time and energy it takes to complete, edit and post seems daunting. Even impossible. So, how do you all do it? How do you make time for yourself? What kind of priority do you put on your own self-care? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

Posted in belief, Blog, Blogger, blogging, family, life, Thoughts, writing

Stephen King and I

Do you believe in signs?  That things happen for a reason?  And do you believe that every once in a while, the stars can align in such a way that the thought of it all just being a mere coincidence is more preposterous than believing that it was fate?  I do.

I’ve been writing posts for this blog for over two years.  How time flies.  I started this blog soon after a terrible accident my brother was in. One that could’ve had a much different outcome if those stars hadn’t aligned in just such a way.

On October 6th, 2016 my brother, an arborist, was working in a large field with a couple of other crew members.  His foreman had left to empty the dump truck and the other guy was operating the skidder just slightly out of eyesight due to a small hill. My brother, returning from a different task saw the chipper was loaded with brush and started it.  What he didn’t know was that the winch line hadn’t been wound back up before the brush had been set on top of it.  And when he started the machine, the line became untangled from the brush and wrapped around his legs pulling him into the mouth of the chipper.

  • First Star  – My brother was holding onto the emergency reverse lever when he started the machine.
  • Second Star – The sheer force of the line wrapping around him and pulling him was enough to break both femurs, causing extensive damage to his tissue, arteries, and nerves in both legs, just above the knee.   Somehow, not only did he not go unconscious but he managed to untangle the line, climb down from the chipper, and army crawl up the hill to flag down his co-worker on the skidder.
  • Third Star – He had spent some time in the fire service and had medical training. Even with everything going on, he remained calm. He knew that he needed to get his legs elevated so as to slow blood loss. He gave his co-worker clear direction as to what to do.  How and where to put pressure.  And he had his co-worker ask the 911 dispatcher for life-flight.
  • Fourth Star – They were working in a field in the middle of nowhere.  When the call came into the the EMS dispatch, the town paramedics were just around the corner.  They were returning from an earlier call instead of at the station 15 minutes away.
  • Fifth Star – The closest hospital was a small one in the town of Bridgeton. The ambulance had planned to meet Life Flight there.  But when they arrived, the helicopter was still about 10 minutes out. My brother needed blood badly, so they brought him inside. They knew that his injuries were more extensive than the hospital was equipped for, but something was better than nothing.  They wheeled him into a trauma bay and hauled out a special machine.  A while back they had received a grant to get it.  It was for rapid blood transfusions. My brother was the first person to use it. He received 107 units of blood that day.  And just for some perspective, the human body holds between 8-12 units or pints, of blood.  We were told that it could very well be a record.  Most blood given and survived.

As soon as he was fully conscious, people either came to check on him, or he went to meet the people who saved his life. My brother remembered bits and pieces of what happened but as we met the paramedics, firefighters, the life-flight team, the nurses, and doctors from both hospitals – each one added different pieces to puzzle.  A different star, if you will. All of the things that JJ couldn’t remember.  And everyone he met looked at him in astonishment.  Every single one made it clear that they weren’t sure how it was going to end when they left him.  And, inevitably, they all said something along the lines of: “If we hadn’t been around the corner” or “If we hadn’t have gotten that blood machine” and of course, “if you didn’t have your hand on that reverse bar”

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Just before the first anniversary of my brother’s accident I had determined that I wanted to shift the focus of my blog.  But I was worried.  I didn’t really know what I should write about, or if I should continue to write at all.  I really enjoyed it. The act of it and how I felt after each post, but I just didn’t know if what I was doing was good enough. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt.  But, I had written a post in the very beginning about how I didn’t want this blog to be something I quit. A hobby or project I give up on, like so so many that I had in the past.

I wanted to get better at writing before I threw in the towel.  And so, I googled “Best books on learning how to write”, and at the top of every list was “On Writing” by Stephen King.  I was hesitant.  I had never read one of his books.  I don’t care for the horror genre, but I downloaded the audio version and was immediately immersed.  It was witty and thoughtful.  I found myself sitting in the car for 15 minutes or more after I arrived wherever I was heading just to listen.

The book was coming to end and I had learned a lot.  But still was unsure of my blogging future.  I hadn’t posted anything in ages.  With 28 minutes left of the book, I pulled into my driveway.  And as I went to turn off the car I heard something that got my attention.  He was talking about an accident he was in. He was walking in Fryeburg, Maine and was hit by a car.  He was taken to Bridgeton hospital.  The same little hospital the ambulance had taken JJ to meet life-flight. I said “Huh”. Not too weird I guess. But he went on to say he was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center. I stared at the radio of my car skeptically. “So had JJ”, I thought.  And as he continued my eyes got wider and wider. When he arrived, his doctor was a man by the name of Dr. Brown.  That was my brother’s doctor. The first of many to perform surgery on JJ.  He’s had 26 in all.  And finally, Stephen King described his injuries, the accompanying surgeries and treatments during his recovery. Between the extensive fasciotomies and the external fixator used to put him back together, the same exact procedures done to my brother. It all left me shock.

Was this a sign? Stars aligning perhaps? I started to blog because of this incredible situation that happened. I needed an outlet; this was my therapy. And when I started doubting my ability and worrying what I was going to write about. When I had come to a possible impasse. I get this book as a last ditch effort to help me find a purpose for this blog and writing in general. And in the final moments of it, Stephen King himself, reiterates the very details surrounding why I started writing in the first place. It felt as if it had come full circle.

Now, I am a fatalist, for better or worse. But I do try to check in with the realist side of myself. To second guess the relevancy of the situation. But in the end, serendipity reigns. And whether this was in fact, stars aligning or if perhaps this turns out to be just a theory of convenience, we’ll never know. And I’m ok with that. So, for now, I’ll keep writing.

Posted in Baby, blogging, family, Mom, Pregnancy, Thoughts, writing

THE CRYING HANGOVER

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This is our view from Nikola’s room at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.  Our baby was admitted this past Thursday because of a mysterious fever, rash, fussiness combo.  Since becoming a mom I have googled everything under the sun related to babies, but this one was too scary.  Their initial concern was Bacterial Meningitis.  It takes 48 hours for the results from the spinal tap to come back. So while their concern is immediate, the results are not. It has been a long couple of days.  When he was born and in the NICU things were tough.  But at no point was he in pain.  This time, that hasn’t been the case.  So many tests, pokes, and prods.  It took more than six hours for the doctors to collect all of the different fluids they’d need.  Nikola cried most of that time.  And so did we.  The feeling you get when your child is in pain is just as indescribable as the amount of love you have for them. I had to prop myself up against a wall, the crying was uncontrollable. Hence, the crying hangover.  I haven’t had one since I had to leave the hospital without him when he was born.  And before that, it was my brother’s accident.  They are every bit as awful as the ones induced by alcohol.  Just a lot sadder.

But we got some great news a little while ago.  His Doctor came in and said that everything had come back negative.  They don’t know the exact cause of the fever but are considering it a viral infection most likely picked up at daycare.  Effing daycare.  We should be able to go home later today.

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A few people have asked lately if I was still blogging.  During the pregnancy I had terrible pregnancy brain, I could barely form sentences let alone put together a coherent blog post.  And since giving birth, well, I’ve been a little busy.

But more than either of those reasons I worried I didn’t have anything to say.  I thought that my experiences and opinions weren’t of value because I’m so new to the role of Mom.  But all of the research I’ve done for everything from best diaper bags to infant cognitive milestones has largely been based on a matter of opinion.  Even doctors opinions differ.    To our great frustration, I might add.  Just today we’ve been told that he’d be going home at 1 and then were told that it would be 6. An RN just came in 15 minutes ago and mentioned something about tomorrow.  Nothing has changed in Nikolas condition throughout the day, just the doctor at shift change.

So maybe my opinion on Dr. Brown’s bottles would be of value to someone.  Or maybe sharing our experience of having a baby in the NICU or even the experience we’re having now could help someone. Somewhere. At some point.

So, let’s try this again.  Back to Blogging.

 

 

Posted in Blog, Blogger, blogging, Featured, Inspirations, Thoughts, writing

Taking Writing Risks

I did something a little wacky.  I submitted an article for publication in Brevity Magazine.  Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know what is crazier: Submitting the article or telling you about all it.  The thought of both is making me a little queasy right now.

I submitted a short, non-fiction story.  And as I think back to when I first started this blog; I would have never had the courage to do something like this.  I barely have it now.  When it comes to writing, I am still in a constant state of anxious indecisiveness with every blog post. My “revision” counter for this one has capped out at 25.  Should I hit the publish button? Could I make it better? How do I make it better? Is it good enough? Am I good enough? 

Those questions combined leads to a bigger one.  Is the potential literary reward worth the risk of putting yourself out there?  That is a big gamble.  The idea of having something published is a huge, massive thing.  I don’t care if 5 or 50000 people read the magazine. That is the reward.  But, the risk of rejection?  This soon into my writing venture?  The thought of taking a chance and ending up with a bruised ego, and one that is already a bit blemished I might add, has me reeling. And worried I may have made a mistake.

While the graphic reads “How to”, it may be better read “How to???.”  I guess first things first, I should probably start by managing my expectations.  State my goal and get myself mentally prepared for the probable repudiation.  Now you see, here I feel like I should type something like “Oh, I’m not expecting much.  Maybe just some feedback”.  In fact I did type something similar to that.  I had to delete it. It wasn’t the truth. Obviously, I’m expecting something.  I would have never wasted my time or the $3.00 it cost to submit it if I wasn’t. But then again, perhaps “expecting” is the wrong word.  I think “hopeful” is more apt in this situation.  It’s better to be hopeful than expectant in most things.  I am expecting a response.  I am hopeful that it is one of acceptance and not of rejection. That’s my goal. Yes, that’s much better.

However this pans out, I really wanted to write about it.  This blog has made me think about things in ways I haven’t before. Never in my life have I set personal goals for myself or stepped so far out of my comfort zone.  I’ve never put myself in a position for open critique. Not like this anyway. And even if no one reads these posts. I like to think that it keeps me honest.  It keeps me aspiring to do something or be something more. Take risks. I really love what this has turned into. And if that’s all this ever is, just something I enjoying doing, then that’s ok. But I really hope that I never lose the desire to try for something bigger.

Goals:

Have my non-fiction short story published on in Brevity Magazine

WordPress Goals:

367 views for month of Sept – Current Sept Views: 225

200 WordPress followers by Dec, 31st – Current WordPress followers: 127

Posted in Blog, Blogger, blogging, writing

Finding a Place and Purpose For Your Blog. And How To Succeed Once You’ve Found It.

 

One question I’ve asked myself from the very beginning is “What is this blog going to be and what am I looking to get out of it?”  There’s only so many posts you can do about not knowing what to post, am I right?  It certainly seems to be a common theme amongst new bloggers.

There must be hundreds of thousands of posts, e-books, courses and probably other super cool types of media that I’ve never even heard of out there offering tips on blogging.  “How to grow your blog”. “How to get more followers on your blog”. “How to convert views to reader engagement on your blog.” But has anyone ever noticed that these “tips” are very much geared towards people who are selling something?  An e-course, e-book, or service?  I have nothing to sell.  That’s not what I’m here for, and neither, I suspect, are a majority of bloggers.  While some of these tips can easily transcend different niches, most of those are common knowledge.  Things like “post consistently” or “use proper tags and categories.”   I have read post after post that promised to help me and my blog grow, and unfortunately, I have yet to find my golden nugget of knowledge that will transform this blog into something more.

Here’s one of my issues:  When deciding on topics to blog about.  Do you rely solely on your passions or do you find yourself leaning towards a genre you know is heavily populated with followers?  For example: Two of the most preeminent niches for blogging is fashion/beauty and travel.  Those niches are filled with amazing blogs that have some of the best content and subscriber stats in the industry.  Sadly, for my, I am neither a trend setter or a jet setter.  I’m more of a couch setter.  As in, I’m gonna set on this couch and binge watch “This is us” all weekend so as to get mentally prepared for the upcoming second season.

As I have said many times at this point, I started this blog because I needed a creative outlet.  Parts of my life were in complete chaos, and I longed for a way to free up some valuable head space that was essential in me functioning as adult human.  As the days went by, and the posts published, lo and behold, this blog achieved just that.  And as I went along, my blog took its shape.  I was finding my niche.  In time, my posts became less and less about a traumatic event that occurred to a family member and they became about different aspects of family relationships, recipes, blogging, and life.  And while I have nothing to sell, I like to think that people may enjoy reading what I write regardless.

So, here’s my plan.  You’re welcome to follow along with me if you’d like.  I make no guarantees that this will help you and your blogging endeavors but it’s good to have a plan nonetheless.

Now that you know your niche, and even if you’re not quite there yet: Figure out what do you want to get out of this blog? What is your desired outcome?

This may very well be the most important thing of all.  But, you need to be honest with yourself.  If you say something like “nothing really, I just want it to be like a diary.” Then you have your answer. However, If that were the case, than presumably you would have your posts set to private, not public…  But that’s none of my business. Moral of the story is, if you’re not honest with yourself about your goals, you’ll never reach them.  Let’s say, you’re writing just to write.  Doesn’t matter to you if anyone reads it, likes or comments on it.  That’s fine, then base your goals with that in mind. But, I’d be willing to bet that once you see those stats moving, your blogging ambitions will change.  And it’s ok if they do.  Don’t be ashamed, or afraid of saying what you really want.  Do you want to write amazing content and become the next Jenny Lawson or Arriana Huffington? Who doesn’t!?!?  While those are some super lofty goals, whose to say you can’t achieve them?

Speaking of goals… Set some!

I’ve actually been putting this into play the last couple of months.  Go to your Stats and click on insights.  Those stats are what I base my goals on.

  • For the month of August, I had 2 short term goals
    • Reach 100 WordPress followers by the end of the month . I kid you not, I achieved that at about 11pm 2 nights ago.  I have 122 followers in total.
    •  Get more than 241 views this month in order to beat last months.  I surpased that goal by 46.
  • Long Term Goals –
    • Do at least 1 blog post every week for the rest of the year.
    • So, something I really love delving into is conversion rates.  This isn’t laid out for you in stats.  It’s an equation you can do on your own if you like analytics.  If you go under your blog post tab, it will show you all of your published posts, their number of views, likes and comments.  I measure how well a post did by dividing the number of views, by the number of likes.  For example, If my latest post has been viewed by 11 people so far and it received 5 WordPress likes, I consider that to be a pretty good conversion rate.  I could go on and on about these sorts of facts and figures, but I digress.  By the end of the year, I would like my view to like conversion rate to be 50% or better.
    • Try to get a total of 200 followers between WordPress, Email subscribers, and twitter.

As of right now, that’s my plan.  What’s yours? Any tips or insight to you’d to share?

 

 

Posted in Blog, Blogger, blogging, Uncategorized, writing

I’ve been nominated for The Versatile​ blogger award?!?!

Thank you to the wonderful gal over at Runaway Nuns and Leprechauns for the nomination of the Versatile Blogger Award.  I was shocked to read the post yesterday.  I’ve only been doing this for a short time, and it means so much.  Now, there are rules that apply to this award.  They are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers of your choice.
  4. Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination.

 

So here we here we go.  Seven Facts:

  1. My eye color changes depending on the weather.  I think this may be fairly common, but I’ve never heard anyone else I know mention it.
  2. I was a volunteer firefighter for several years.
  3. I think that mint flavor should only be in toothpaste or gum.  I don’t understand how people can mix it with chocolate.  Yuck,
  4. I’m pretty sure  I was blocked on Facebook by the kicker of the Cincinnati Bengals. I really love the Bengals and have a thing for kickers. Apparently, he didn’t appreciate my adoration.
  5. I really really despise making lists about myself.  But rules are rules.
  6. I would give just about anything to have a goat named Cheese
  7. I prefer lake swimming to ocean swimming.

 

And the nominees are….

 

  1. Weird Guy With A Dog
  2. Not A Grouch
  3. A Beautiful Disaster
  4. Stitch and Shizzle
  5. The Writers Desk
  6. In The Garden
  7. A Thousand Bits of Paper
  8. Official Blog Of Kristy Gherlone
  9. The Webb Homestead
  10. Cooking with a Wallflower

 

 

Posted in Blog, Blogger, blogging, Inspirations, Thoughts, writing

A Procrastinator’s​ Guide To Tackling The To-Do List: Blogging Edition

First, A little back story.

I thought of the title for this blog post out of the blue one day.  So I quickly opened my WordPress app and typed it in. I hit save, under the Drafts tab.  Making absolutely sure that I didn’t accidentally hit the publish button.  That is the worst!  Publishing something before it’s ready, aaarrgh. It’s awful!  Anyway, as I was double checking that I didn’t post it instead of saving it.  I got the idea for the super cute graphic.  I immediately clicked on my Word Swag app and created the image you see above. And I LOVE it.  In fact, I love it so much, that I’ve started laying the ground work for this to be a series.  And I am super excited!

As I started typing and formatting this post I found myself back spacing and rearranging sentences a lot.  I just couldn’t get the concept to flow the way I wanted it to.  And then I realized why…. I am a procrastinator.  Procrasntintor’s aren’t usually the ones who write about getting things done.  We also aren’t the type of people to be made an example of when referencing expeditious task completion.  Something weird to note, that this is only in my personal life.  Like getting an oil change, or canceling a subscription. Which reminds me, I never canceled my husbands Dollar Shave Club subscription.  Shit.

Professionally speaking, I couldn’t be more opposite.  I’m known to watch my inbox like a hawk.  Always at the ready for the next task.  For me, there is nothing better than being asked to do something, completing it and sending back a “Done!” email.  My work inbox is pristine.  As I left yesterday for a week’s vacation, I didn’t even have to scroll.  All emails were visible on one page.  That feeling, for me, is pure contentment.

So, how do I get this, and the subsequent series posts I’m planning, to translate from personal procrastinator to every day efficient?   There only seems to be one solution.  I am going to try to fix something, that for the last 33 years of my life, has been one of the most predominant personality traits I have.  I’m going to become “The Blogger Formally Known As A Procrastinator.” You guys, my husband is going to be so effing excited when he reads this.

We’re now at the point where you may be asking yourself “why would I take advice from a woman who admittedly, can barely make a list of “to-do’s” to do the to-do’s.?” And I think that is a very fair question. My answer is this:  This post is meant for the people like me.  The people to enjoy getting things done, but in their own, type B personality, kind of way.  The type of people who may appear disorganized, and lackadaisical to some. But in all actuality do, for the most part,  have their shit together.

The To-Do:  Writing a Blog Post

This blog has been an eye-opening experience.  If you have been with me since the beginning you may recall my post Surviving Succulents.  In it, I wrote about starting projects and not finishing them. And how this project, this blog, was going to be different.  And while I’ve only been at this for about 9 months, it is the longest I’ve ever stuck with something like this.  And I still love it like I did at the beginning.  I think that is one of the most important things for a procrastinator.  And my first blogging To-Do.  Blog about something you love.  Or something that challenges you, whether it be a specific topic or niche.  Maybe even daring to try a different style. Like poetry, short stories or nonfiction.  In my very limited experience, I’ve found that writing about something you love, or something that you have an interest in, comes a lot easier and therefore quicker than something you don’t.

That brings me to my next To-Do, well this is more of a to-don’t.  Don’t force it.  Readers will be able to tell.  One of the followers of my blog recently commented that “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.” And he is exactly right.  Just because you haven’t published a post in a while doesn’t mean that you’re failing or even that you’re procrastinating. Maybe you haven’t found the spark.  I’ve talked about the spark before.  It’s what I consider to be the moment you get an idea that you’re excited about.  When everything just comes rushing to you and you’re inspired. That spark can come at any time and even multiple times within a single post.  For example, I started this post on May 29th.  Almost 2 months ago.  And here I am just finishing it up.  I don’t know what it was about the last couple of days, but a majority of this post has only just been written in that time.  And that’s ok.  I didn’t want to write it to just to say that I posted something.  I wanted to write it to be good.  To be helpful.  Honestly, I don’t know if it will be either of those things, but fingers crossed.

And the last To-Do is to try to set aside time each day to work on your blog.  It doesn’t have to be hours, or at a set time every day.   Even if all you have is 15 minutes.  Go to your blog, under your drafts, and read what you’ve already written.  Add a sentence or two.  Rewrite a paragraph.  Touch up the graphic.  Do research on a topic you’re working on.  Whatever it may be, just DO something within your blog.  I guarantee the more you do that, the more quality content you’ll produce.

So that’s that.  My very first edition of “Turning To-Do’s into Ta-Da’s.”  Now, I am no expert on matters of blogging or most things really.  And while these tips are more common knowledge tidbits than insider secrets.  I hope they offer insight.  I hope this comes off as more of a pep talk than anything.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t worry about what others with think (this is still my biggest hurdle).  Because, from what I can tell, the bloggers who have the most followers aren’t necessarily the people who produce the most content.  And I think, by just doing these very basic things, you will greatly increase the chances of creating an amazing (Ta-Da!!!)  blog post.

 

 

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow