Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Life Lessons (page 1 of 5)

Don’t Be Ashamed to Share: Hysterectomy, Infertility and More

This contributed post is near and dear to my heart for several reasons. First, I 100 percent agree that it is still difficult for many women to open up about the subjects discussed below: hysterectomies, infertility, their bodies, etc. I  had a hysterectomy two years ago, and before I was blessed with Katie, I had to see a fertility specialist. I think this post below makes an important point that we need to talk to each other and not stay silent. 

Sometimes, as women, it is difficult to  discuss intimate issues. And to be honest, it’s easy to understand why. There still seem to be a lot of social expectations that force women to believe they should only act in a certain way or discuss certain topics in public. Although it is much better than it was even 20 years ago, this issue still exists. So, when for any reason, women find themselves having to handle intimate issues that most people don’t talk about, it’s easy to feel at a loss. The main problem with these issues is that they are generally surrounded by silence. As a result, if you’re struggling with any of these topics, you might feel as if you’re the only person dealing with it. You might feel like a failure when everyone else seems to be managing their lives without any trouble. Here’s the thing about intimate issues: You are not alone. This is what a lot of women need to hear:

There’s no shame; things can go wrong down there too

Sometimes, your body doesn’t perform as well as it should. While there is no embarrassment in discussing catching a cold, you should train your mind to perceive intimate issues in the same way. If you’re not ashamed of your cold, why should you be ashamed of experiencing pain while urinating or even while having sex? That’s precisely why there are specialists such as https://www.urologygeorgia.com/, to help you understand the problem and find a solution. Ultimately, you need to be assured that doctors support and respect you.

When there’s no other choice

What defines a woman? Depending on how you feel about your femininity, you might refer to reproductive organs, silhouette or even parental situation to explain what makes you feel like a woman. So, for a lot of women, the idea of having a hysterectomy can be devastating as they often wonder if they are still real women after the operation. But you only need to look at charities such as https://www.hysteriauk.co.uk/ to see that there is massive support around the issues. In fact, for many patients, talking and writing about their feelings can help to redefine the way they perceive themselves.

You struggle to get pregnant

As a woman, you’ll find that society expects you to have children. You might even be dreaming of having children. So, it can be devastating when you try to get pregnant without success. Many women feel so ashamed about it that they prefer not to address the issue in conversation. But don’t think that you’re the only one. There are many reasons why you might be struggling with pregnancy, from infertility to blocked Fallopian tubes. Talking to your doctor and friends can help you to find support and help.

You don’t want children

What if you don’t want to have children? As surprising as it might sound, a lot of women find themselves under fire for choosing not to have children. In reality, it is your own decision, and there is no need to feel guilty about it. You don’t owe the world a child, and more importantly, you are too valuable to let others decide your life. In the end, you’ll find that you can open up about your decision to those you trust.

The bottom line is that a lot of women feel isolated when it comes to their intimate choices and life. Don’t ever think you”re on your own. If you start talking, you’ll find that most women around you can sympathize with your problems, and you to theirs. Spread the word and help destroy the shameful isolation.

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Yes, You’re A Parent, But 10 Ways To Care For Yourself Too

(contributed post)

Being a parent can be tough, we all know that. And as much as you love your children, and as much as you wouldn’t trade this blessed job for anything else in the world, you’re still a human. As an adult, you really do have to be able to put them first, but also cover off your own needs too. Whether you are a single mom or not, this is essential. You know the saying about putting your life jacket on first before helping anyone else? Well, that comes into play a lot here. It’s great that you want to be a wonderful mother, and you want your children to be happy, but you also need to be happy too. And not only that, healthy as well.

If right now, you know that you’re not really doing enough to put your own needs first, then you may want to think about changing things. You’ve probably got yourself into a bit of a rhythm with how you care for your kids, and that’s okay. But if you know that you’re neglecting your own needs, then things need to change. Or worse, if you’re stressed out, tired, overworked, and just generally unhappy, then you really do need to take action. Of course, even if you are happy (or you think you’re happy enough) some of the ideas we’re about to walk through may apply to you too. So let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to start taking care of your own needs better.

Think About Your Future

First of all, you need to start thinking a little more about your future. And this is incredibly important. If you want to be able to be happy in life, you need to make sure that you’re on the right track. Yes, you’re a mom, but that’s not all you are. And when your kids grow up, you don’t want to feel like you missed out on doing something that you love. So plan your future and figure out what you can do today that’s going to get you to where you want to be in ten years time.

Give Yourself An Hour

When it comes to physically looking after yourself on a day to day basis, you just need to be able to give yourself an hour. There are lots of different ways to find time for yourself, no matter how busy you are. So shift your schedule and make sure that you get an hour each day to just be you, relax, and do something that you love, like take a bath or read.

Balance Your Work Life

Next up, you’re going to want to focus on finding a balance with your work. Now, this isn’t always easy, but you can’t just be an employee and a mom, and then go to sleep. You’ll be exhausted. So you have to have boundaries and be able to slot your work in with everything else. Don’t feel too pressured to keep on working when the kids are asleep, you need time for yourself too.

Create A Social Life

One of the main reasons you need to keep your work life balanced is because you need a social life too. And this is essential. Even if you’re a single mom – well, even more so! A rewarding social life is something that we all deserve and it doesn’t have to be impossible to find. When you build the right network around you, you’ll feel like you’re finally putting your needs first.

Pursue Your Passion

Next, you’re going to want to make sure that whatever you want to do in life, you make time for it. If you want to write or paint, then make sure that you accommodate more time for this in your life. Life is too short for you not to do the things you love, even as a busy mom!

Take Better Care Of Your Health

But at the same time, you also need to focus on your health. Because you are only human, and if you don’t take care of your body, it will show. So above all else, eat well and stay active. When you’re focusing on your health, you will always feel great too.

Take Action

Next, you need to make sure that you are taking control of any situation that you might be in right now. If you need to handle settlements or get compensation, speak to the right professional like Muth Law and take action. Now’s the time to do it. When you do, you’ll feel like you have so much more control over your own life.

Focus On Relationships

From here, you should also start to think about your relationships a little bit more. It’s important that you’re able to develop great parent-child relationships and not just be their mom. At the same time, you should want to think about strengthening the bond you have with others around you. It’s so important to be able to have good relationships with those around you if you want to be able to feel your best.

Do Something Just For You

At the same time, you have to ensure that you’re doing things just for yourself. Not because you feel like you should, not because someone else wants you to, but because you’re taking care of your own needs. Maybe you want to take a class or you want to start a course? Whatever it is, just make sure that you take the plunge.

Always Aim To Live Your Best Life

Finally, you should definitely make sure that you’re living well on your own terms too. Remember, this is your life. You won’t ever want to feel like you didn’t live it your own way. So look how you want to look, dress in a way that makes you feel confident, take care of your appearance and feel good about yourself. Make sure that you act in a way that makes you feel like yourself. Do the things that make you happy. Because you should never look back and regret the things that you didn’t do!

 

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Round-Up: Self-Care and Emotional Health Top 5 Articles

Self-care and emotional health are two very important topics to me. I recently saw this quote on a quote calendar I own:

“You must love and care for yourself because that’s when the best comes out.” ~ Tina Turner

So true, right? And as we all know, it is not always easy when you’re a parent, especially. So here is a round-up of the top 5 articles on my blog that have to do with self-care and emotional health. I chose this round-up thanks to everyone who took my poll on what topics readers would like me to focus on next. So here we go…

Life Is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe (This post is about surrounding yourself with people who make you better and how you can’t control others, but you can control your reaction!)

Parents: Taking Time For Yourself (This post is about a trip I took with my girlfriends and why it is important for all parents to fill their well.)

The Thing About Change and Not Giving Up (This post was inspired by a book I read about ways to NOT become unglued and making imperfect progress toward goals.)

5 Things I Learned About Living In 2016 (From “balance is key” to “parenting is hard and give yourself a break”, this post shares my personal experiences while trying to improve my emotional health.)

Make This the Year You Start Taking Care of Number One  (Three tips for taking care of yourself and why you should! )

 

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5 Things To Consider About Successful Adulting

(contributed post)

Being an adult is no simple feat. There is no magical equation which tells us how to behave as an adult for success, and many of us are going through our entire lives without completely figuring it out. However, there are some some simple tips to help you not get through adulthood and have some success.

Think money

Finance is not everyone’s favorite part of life, but it is an important thing to think about, and you need to make sure that you take the time to make better habits and cut your living costs if necessary. Think of refinancing your student loans with a company like refinancestudent.loan to make your payments more manageable, try making your energy bills lower with cost-cutting strategies, and save on your grocery bill with coupons and sales. Being financially stable can be the difference between happiness and stress.

Have an open mind

As you enter adulthood it is important to enter life as a blank slate. Be open to every opportunity in the world and don’t close yourself off to everything and everyone. If you want to have a great life as an adult you need to think about taking yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Be positive about all aspects of life and be ready to experience everything it has to offer you.

Follow your dreams

One important thing to remember as you reach adulthood is that you don’t abandon your dreams. It is incredibly crucial that you follow your goals and dreams in life and be happy living your own life. Follow every dream you have and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do it. Love your life and live it in a way which makes you happy to wake up every single morning.

Look after yourself

If you are going to be a successful adult, you need to look after your mental health. You cannot live a happy and successful life if you do not have a good state of mind. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and you need to take the time to pursue good mental habits. Take the time for yourself every once in a while, meditate, relax, and spend time with people you love. Allowing yourself to relax and refresh will help you to go on in life in a happier state.

Give up old grudges

When you are in high school and you have a bully or someone who you fall out with, it can take over your life and sit with you for years. You will start letting this experience get to you and define who you are, and this is not what should be happening. When you become an adult, it is important to be able to let these grudges go, move on with your life, and be happy again. Don’t let someone from your past influence your future, because they shouldn’t be able to. Move on, start fresh, and be happy with your new way of life.

 

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How Hard It Is To Be Still

Lately, more than one person has said to me: “You have trouble being still. You are never still.”

My initial reaction to this statement is always millions of unspoken thoughts of how impossible it is to be still. Try living my life and see if you can be still. As a single parent, I ask myself: when am I supposed to be still? Maybe you can relate. If you’re a parent, a working parent, a parent of multiple children, a caregiver for elderly parents, or any combination of these roles, you know how hard it is to be still. There is always a to-do list, and it is always impossibly long. You’re always being pulled in multiple directions, and sometimes, those directions are physically and mentally exhausting.

For me, I must add to the trouble of being still the desire to be involved in activities (I’ve always been a joiner), my fear of life being too short and missing out on anything, ambitious goals, and my avoidance of tough, emotional issues—and that equals being too busy, never being still, and feeling completely overwhelmed.

But it’s catching up to me. I’m exhausted. And my loved ones would not be telling me that it’s important to relax and be still if they didn’t see the negative effects of my current lifestyle.

This is a blog post that’s difficult to write because at this point, it has no ending. I’m not writing this because I have a magical answer for how to be still. I try to meditate. I say no to some requests for my time. I prioritize tasks. But this problem for me goes beyond that busy calendar–this problem is because I am uncomfortable with myself, and that is the root. How do I get comfortable spending time with this person underneath all the labels and responsibilities, tasks and to-do lists, flaws and quirks and joys, and be still with her?

If I can figure that out, then I think I can be still.  It’s similar to the saying: Being comfortable in your own skin. If you are constantly moving and exhausted, you don’t have to worry about any of that because you don’t have time for it.

How about you?  Are you still?

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Learning To Listen To My Gut

“Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.” ~Anonymous

Geez, if only I could easily follow this advice…but I’m in the process of learning it–maybe I’m at the very beginning of the lesson. I’m an infant at listening to my gut. My friends can tell you this. I overthink. I rationalize. I decide to give someone/something one more chance–despite what my gut says. Because…how could my gut be right? But I think 10 times out of 10, if I go back and look at a situation, I will remember a moment when I should have known that something was off. Has this happened to you? Have you had the old HINDSIGHT is 20/20 thing in your life? Listening to your gut doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say good-bye to someone or that you have to quit doing something, but it does mean that you have to address whatever gives you that uneasy feeling in  your gut. This is the key!

This is so true with dating! Even if you’re married now, at one point, you were dating. How many times did you go out with someone way longer than you should have when your gut was telling you that something wasn’t right? This doesn’t mean that there’s something terribly wrong with the person–he or she might be lovely or fine for someone else. But this experience does mean that this person wasn’t right for you or for your current situation, and your gut was warning you.

Recently, I had a situation where someone asked me out, but I couldn’t go that evening. At first, everything seemed fine. But then, a text message came from him that was not super nice–but you know text messages, they are infamous for sending the wrong signals because you can’t tell tone. A couple more messages were exchanged, and I still didn’t feel right about him; but by the end of the night, I had convinced myself that I was overreacting. Maybe I misread what he meant. Maybe I don’t know what that particular emoji actually meant. Maybe I was overthinking.

So, I turned to my trusty girlfriends, and as you know, the people I surround myself with are extremely important to me. I explained the situation to them, sent a screenshot of the few texts, and asked: What do you think?

Immediately, they came back with–that wasn’t very nice, and trust your gut. Move on. So I did. But why did I need that confirmation from others? Why didn’t I just trust my gut to begin with?

That is the big question, and one I am currently working on exploring. I wonder how many of us are good at this. How many of us go with our gut immediately and don’t stop and overthink? And I wonder how many of the people who are able to trust their gut right away have lives that are much less stressful and anxiety-ridden?

There are all kinds of opinions about this–some people think trusting your gut too much is irresponsible, while others swear by it. Some scientists have studied what happens to the body when people are faced with a choice and “go with their gut.”

But here’s what I am starting to realize–when I’m forcing myself to “get over” something someone has done or said, and this person has not truly apologized or shown any better behavior or concern, then I need to listen to my gut. Life is too short to spend it with people who make you feel uncomfortable and/or don’t respect you. 🙂 So if you see me, ask me…how is it going with listening to your gut?

How about you? Do you listen to your gut? When has it worked for you?

 

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What Is Your Body Trying To Tell You?

(contributed post)

We ignore what our bodies are telling us all of the time. We think that we’re invincible, and often convince ourselves that anything that might be wrong is just an issue that’s going to go away quicker than it started. But these are the things that we should be challenging, not ignoring. Our bodies are speaking volumes to us; all we have to do is make sure we listen. From the simple things like how our hair is growing, to the color of our skin, it all means something in terms of your health. So, here are a few things that you might have been ignoring that we really think you should not be. Here are just a few of them.

Your Eyes

Your eyes are one of the most important parts of your body; yet you may not think of them this way. For example, those with low vision tend to ignore the problem until it gets worse and worse, when a few simple treatments right away might be the better option. From glasses to a cataract surgery, there are plenty of things that can be done. Not doing anything puts a massive strain on your eyes, which will then lead to things, such as headaches, migraines, and even muscle strain. The pain you can get from all three of these is horrendous, so you’re best off being proactive if you notice a problem with your eyesight, such as blurry vision. However, it could be something much more serious than your sight deteriorating. It could be something such as a tumor growing in the brain or lifelong conditions, such as glaucoma.

Your Skin

We value our skin and the way it looks. Or at least we should do. Our skin can often become neglected–from not keeping it hydrated by drinking the right amount of water each day, to forgetting to take our makeup off before bed. But the signs our skin can show us can be a problem much more serious than a few spots breaking out. If you’re noticing that your skin is turning yellow, along with the inside of your eyes turning pale, you’re probably having an issue with your liver. Don’t jump to conclusions; it could be something so minor. But make sure you get it checked out right away. The same is true if you notice moles changing in size or shape or any spots on your skin. A dermatologist can do a body check and see if he or she thinks any more testing is necessary. 

Your Energy

We as humans are tired people. There are those that jump around and seem to have so much energy, but the majority of us just aren’t them. That’s because we’re not giving our bodies what it needs to be able to live a normal and happy life. To do so, you really need around 8-9 hours sleep minimum, 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, and to keep yourself hydrated with around 8 cups of water each day to make sure you’re feeling as fresh as possible.

What signs do you look for in your body?

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Treatment and Recovery Advice for Couples Affected by Addiction

Here is a guest post by Julie Morris, who is a life and career coach. Check her services out here

Discovering that your spouse is an addict may bring up overwhelming emotions of anger, betrayal and guilt that maybe you enabled or caused them to get addicted. You may wonder whether there is hope for recovery and how you can help your beloved to recover. Addiction recovery is possible, and a spouse plays a key role in their partner’s recovery.

Discovering addiction in a loved one

In most cases, a spouse discovers that their partner is addicted before their loved one accepts the addiction. It could be something you have suspected for weeks, months or even years.

Some signs of addiction include unexplained weight loss within a short period, loss of interest in appearance, unusual hyperactivity or lethargy, habitual lying, defensiveness and paranoia.  In the case of addiction to prescribed drugs, you may notice extra pill bottles in the garbage, or your partner may be taking more than the prescribed dosage of the particular drug. Unexplained financial issues may be an indicator of an addiction problem, as your partner may be using the money to purchase their drug of choice.

Opiate addiction among seniors

Prescription drug abuse among seniors has increased in the last decade, and is expected to  skyrocket in the coming one. Opioids are among the most abused prescription drugs among people in this age bracket. This can be attributed to the prevalence of chronic diseases among seniors who are put on pain management drugs such as opioids. If opioid administration is not well-monitored by a doctor, one may end up using them too frequently, eventually becoming dependent on them.

Opiate addiction among seniors can often go unnoticed, because in most cases, your spouse may already be exhibiting addiction-like symptoms such as nausea, drowsiness, and constricted pupils from their preexisting chronic illness. If you suspect opiate addiction in your spouse, it is important to speak to your spouse’s doctor about it. When left unattended, opiate addiction can worsen the existing chronic illness.

Helping a loved one get treatment

After discovering that your partner is an addict, the next step is intervention. However, you must proceed with caution. Choose an ideal time to bring up the issue, like a time when your partner’s mood is calm and your children are not present. Bring up the issue in a non-accusatory way.

Your spouse might deny their addiction or respond violently. In case your partner’s response is hostile, back away from the conversation and ensure you are safe. However, do not give up. Consider finding an interventionist who can lead the conversation to a peaceful resolution.

Consult with an addiction specialist to explore the treatment options available for the drug or substance your partner is using. Some common options include checking into a rehabilitation center, individual therapy, group therapy, support groups such as Alcoholic Anonymous, and codependency support.

Healing as a couple

When your spouse is addicted, you, too, are dealing with it. Therefore, a sustainable recovery approach is one that factors you in, especially during aftercare treatment. There are a number of treatments available for couples. These include general group therapy, addiction-focused couples’ therapy, family therapy and individual therapy.

You can integrate two or more therapies depending on what works best.  You and your spouse can incorporate separate individual therapy alongside couples’ sessions. If you have children, incorporate family therapy sessions too.

Attend peer support groups together or separately. Addiction can be isolating for both of you. When you join a support group, you realize that there are many other couples going through a similar situation. If you feel that your spouse’s addiction and recovery is taking a toll on you, it may be best to separate. Educate yourself about the various aspects of addiction treatment and recovery. Your research will help you better understand your partner’s recovery journey, and help you discover ways you can best support him or her.

Addiction undermines the foundation of a marriage. However, there is a chance that you can work together with your spouse to overcome the addiction and rebuild your marriage. The key is to find professional help, for each of you individually and together as a couple.

 

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Thoughts on Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness and Belonging in Our Families

My MOPS group chose Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown as our book club book this year. And amazingly, I have already finished it! (Book club meeting is not until May. YAY me! ) Most of you have probably heard of Brene Brown–her books are popular right now, and she writes with a very easy conversational style while still saying all kinds of important, life-changing, and thought-provoking things! On her website, she has a few discussion guides to go with the book, so in preparation for my MOPS discussion, I thought I would tackle a few of those questions here. So here we go…

As humans, we all want to feel like we belong, but we shouldn’t change our true selves to fit in, and that is hard. One place where we NEED to feel like we belong as our true selves is our families, but often, people don’t. So here’s a question on her guide: Not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. It has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth. Are we talking to one another about what it means to build a belonging family verses a “fitting-in” family?

 I can’t wait to talk to MOPS about this because I think this is crucial and difficult for parents. As parents, we want to see our children succeed. We want them to follow rules and do well in school. We also tend to sign them up for activities and events that we did as kids or that all the other kids are doing in their class. But are we listening to each one of our children? Are we taking into consideration individual likes and dislikes?

This is hard. I’m guilty of it myself. When Katie told me she wanted to do cheerleading, I was like: Ugh, really? But what about basketball? She told me no, so I signed her up for cheerleading in kindergarten. Once she was going to games and saw that some of her friends were also playing basketball, she decided she wanted to do that, too. So in first grade, I signed her up for both. Now, I’m so glad that I did not try to squash that part of her who wants to be a cheerleader because she gets SO MUCH JOY out of it. She smiles, she dances, she laughs, and it’s not easy. Remembering the moves and the dances and getting all those coordinated at age 7 takes a lot of practice!

I’m sure there are other ways I can work on building a belonging family–it’s a fine line between “here are the rules of society you must follow to be a good citizen” and “here is your individuality–be a free spirit if you want.” Any tips or stories you have to share on how you build a belonging family would be great!

Here is another thing she asks:

Are we modeling belonging to and believing in ourselves? Are our children seeing us take unpopular stands and are we talking honestly about how hard and scary that can be?

We currently live in a world where opinions are shared online more than ever before. You don’t have to share your stance on hot button issues on Facebook or Twitter if it doesn’t make you comfortable. But if someone comes in to your home and starts talking about gun control, do you kindly and compassionately share your own opinion or do you nod along with the person, even if you disagree completely? This is difficult, and it is something that divides families and breaks friendships all the time. But it’s important to model that even if you disagree with someone, the relationship does not have to end. You can kindly share what you feel or you can even say: Would you mind if we talked about something else for a while until we can settle down and discuss this calmly? After the person leaves your home, and I feel like this is the key, we can talk as a family about what happened and what worked and didn’t work in the situation.

What I love about Brene’s book, Braving the Wilderness, is that she tackles this very subject. We don’t have to get into a screaming match every time we disagree with someone. We don’t have to purge our Facebook friends because they are Republicans and we are Democrats. We can have real conversations with people to try and understand their viewpoint and kindly share ours, without relationships ending or hurting each other’s feelings. This is so important, especially in today’s world.

If you are looking for a book that will make you think about what it means to belong as  your true self, then this is a great book to pick up, full of real-life examples.

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18 Tips To Reduce Stress

Below you will see a really awesome infographic on reducing stress. Surely, if you are feeling stressed out, one of these tips is something you can do and is easy to fit into your life, so it doesn’t cause you more stress! I’ve posted other articles on reducing stress before, such as Stress Busting 101: How to Reduce It In Your Life and Parents: Taking Time For Yourself. If you need some stress busters, then check this out from Donna Norton at CustomWriting.org. My favorites are: 10, 12, and 16, although really, most of these resonate with me. How about you? Do you have any tried and true stress relief methods?


Infographic by Donna Norton Custom-Writing.Org

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