Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Physical Wellness, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Returning to Work from Maternity Leave and Depression at One Year Post Partum.

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Currently I’m working through a hard season.  I’m in a disease flare-up (severe exhaustion and pain) and a depressive episode.  The two intermingle and make it a very difficult time mentally, emotionally and physically. The gravitational pull is hard to overcome and this is where self-care checklists feel almost impossible to accomplish. You’re just in an entirely different head space, mood space, and body space where any one of the checklist items that used to make you feel good, that you logically know will help you, just don’t appeal enough to overcome the total lack of vitality.

I’m not writing this post to have a giant complaining session, because there’s an important point I want to make at the end when you’ve read through this.

First, that you are not alone, and second, that this kind of stuff is a great gift.  I know, that sounds ridiculous, but read on…

xo

 

I’ve been through both before, but this time it was compounded by driving myself into the ground at work. And truth be told, this round doesn’t feel straightforward to get out of. There is a deeper matter here of who am I and what does my soul need?

I think THIS is the million dollar question that we must ask ourselves, when we find ourselves in a state of dis-ease.  Not just disease (illness) but not at ease.  Unhappy. Dissatisfied.  Frustrated.

With my return to work, I came back to the same pace I had always gone at.  Except, this time I was ill, tired and also the mum of three kids.  I jumped straight back into my old habits . I just kept working bigger, better, harder, faster.  I stopped taking breaks, or self care, or anything.  I love what I do, I truly do and that’s why it was so easy to get back into that crazy unbalanced work mode.

But here’s the thing. My symptoms don’t discern between work I love and work I don’t love.

They discern between  I am taking care of my soul and I am not taking care of my soul. I beginning to suspect that disease + depression are so closely intertwined with whether we are on the right path for our souls at any given point in our life’s journey, or soul’s journey.  I believe they are a reliable indicator that we are ignoring our own intuition, and the body’s best way to yell at us to pay attention 🙂

I had returned to work in the summer fresh off my disease diagnosis, surgery, 3 kids under 5 and major passion for my side projects and full time work.  I was excited that I had negotiated to work 4 days a week for the first few months.

Then, it began to all fall apart.  First, I was feeling great so I came off of my SSRIs. I think that was not the wisest choice in hindsight.  If you are on anti-depressants, no matter how good you think you are feeling, do not come off of them in a major transition!

As I found myself back at a desk and in pain, I began to struggle with a level of exhaustion that I’ve never known.  It was so bad that I desparately sought out places to lie down on breaks, struggled to put my socks on (immobility) in the mornings, a few urgent care trips, and increasing panic at work with every additional meeting, or project in an already full schedule with people waiting weeks to get one of a few coaching slots. I have an hour commute each way, and each commute was filled with this horrible impending sense of dread – dread that work demands were far exceeding what I was capable of.  Doubts that I could keep up to others as a mother of three That I couldn’t handle my own life. Usually, this is a pretty good sign to buckle down and take care of oneself.  Except, I was so far in, I couldn’t even claw back the time for ANYTHING that fuelled my spirit. Nor was I motivated to.  Being outside in nature. A social life. Creative expression.  My happiest places couldn’t lure me back.  Mostly, I just wanted to lie still, sleep away the pain and exhaustion and shut my panicking mind down.

My days became – Just drive to work. Work like a madwoman (keeping up the standards of a worker without 3 kids.) Buy unhealthy snacks and a crazy amount of coffee to keep me going.  Drive home. Make dinner. Put the kids to bed. Pray for no-one to wake up. Go to bed at 9. Repeat.  This is the story of so, so many people out there. 

Nothing was keeping my soul afloat, and I could tell that was making the disease worse too. Yet, I couldn’t clamber out, because in my mind I would say to myself “ah, you’ll get through this just start going to the gym, get an extra nap, etc.” You know, the usual self-care checklist. But I literally couldn’t move past the exhaustion, pain and total lack of desire to do anything.  I ignored intuitive alarm bells.

And that friends, is depression.  You feel so utterly overwhelmed and exhausted that you want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. You don’t know where or how to begin, because nothing you knew before, seems to work this time (or it still does but you’re in a bleak place and totally unmotivated to do them, and the gravitational pull of the bed / rest is too intense to overcome.)

That is depression and auto immune disease intertwined.  And this, for any of you parents out there reading this,  is when you get your ass to your doctor, and a psychologist and be KINDER and more LOVING to yourself than you have ever been before. That is when you dig deep and listen to what your soul really needs.

It’s time to start listening closely to your intuition in the moments when your brain stops panicking and rushing.  The Universe has been sending you hints all along as to what is right for you, it’s just that you’ve been ignoring them.

So at this point, it is sending you MAJOR hint bombs that what you are doing is not ideal for you at this stage, place, moment in your life’s journey and that change is ahead.

Depression and disease can be one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive because on the edge of massive shifts for the better, is suffering.  Suffering prompts us to shift, to change, to grow, to listen to our intuition and get one step closer to who we really are.  Yes, it’s a shitty process, but it is one where pain overcomes fear.  Suffering forces you upward and forward and will not allow you to stay where you are.   There are always, always gifts and rewards from the hardest moments and that knowledge is never lost, even in tough times like these.

 

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Happiness, Technology, The Great Parental Leave Podcast

Thriving in Early Parenthood. The Great Parental Leave Podcast is Coming! Sneak Peak.

PODCAST

I believe that you can THRIVE in early parenthood, not just SURVIVE.

Truly.  I am passionate about this.

Back in my 20s, I didn’t want to be a parent.  EVER.  Why?  I found the overwhelming was that being a parent, was about losing your sanity, identity, free time and happiness.  In the media, in the grocery store, everywhere I saw people who were walking and talking this type of parenthood dialogue. I also saw a lot of unhappy parents. Frazzled, unhappy, short tempers and devoid of their own sense of identity.  I saw this happen to my mum who was a single parent at various stages, too.  Especially in my teen years (sorry, Mum!)

I became pregnant, and those voices amplified. Especially the voices from society and media that said, you’re not Carina anymore, you’re a MUM and just that. Even now, I find people calling me “Mum” when my name is Carina and lumping me into “Mummyhood” when all of us parents are so much more than that.  We are multi-faceted and multi-passionate. When I talk about my bucket list (this comes up in the podcast) and the ways in which I am thriving and loving life and continuing to grow personally, well-meaning people seem genuinely surprised that I am able to do this with 3 kids.

I decided to start this blog and now a podcast because I passionately believe that as a parent, you can continue on the path of rich personal growth and self-development. If anything, it is the best time.  Our children have arrived as the most amazing mirrors and teachers and we are all embarking on an accelerated growth path.  There is never a better time to do some personal development.

On the podcast I will be bringing some amazing guests to help you grow and evolve as a human being.  This is *NOT* a parenting podcast.  It is a personal growth podcast in the context of early parenthood, and it is designed to get you moving forward toward the lifestyle and future you want.  If anything, children helps us gain crystal clear vision on our values, opportunities for growth and the life we want to design.  Now, it’s time to take action.

Here is a sneak peek of the first episode.  I’ll continue to refine it technically (sound quality etc.) as we go along, bear with me, I’m still learning… but in the spirit of getting sh*t done, I present to you the first Great Parental Leave Podcast Episode, where I tell a fascinating story behind the blog and podcast.

In this podcast I talk about:

-What conversations with the dying in a hospice taught me

-Why well-meaning parenting advice made me not want to have kids

-How I turned my maternity leave around from surviving to thriving

-How a simple bucket list changed my life

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Have a listen, and leave me a comment.

 

What would you like to hear about on this podcast?  Who would you like me to bring on as a guest? THIS IS FOR YOU!  A sacred space where each week, you can listen to incredible guests and receive tools that will forever shift and improve your life.  Podcasts have profoundly changed my life and elevated my maternity leaves.  I hope this will serve you in the same way.

 

Xo,
Carina

Grounding, Happiness, The Projects

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Put your Children in Nature School in Calgary

I am bringing one of my deepest passions to the blog today, and gosh, it makes me so happy to talk about this and what it has given us!  So let’s get started!

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Every Saturday morning for two hours, we engage with nature through an “Urban wild program” put on by a researcher and Royal Rhodes Student here in our city, sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Federation through their “Family Nature Club” program which provides resources & insurance for families to set up their own nature clubs (how incredible is that?)
There are story times, free play, guided activities, nature based arts and crafts and educational components, with Alex’ wonderful ecologist/biologist knowledge.  Each week, we submit a journal with reflections upon our experiences as a family.  For example, this was my submission 2 weeks ago.
Finwood Eco Park,2828 Finwood Road, Fords, New JerseyOctober 11, 2018 at 8-00 to 10-00AMSign up now atwww.finwoodecopark.com.jpg
Each week, we explore the incredible parks and provincial park areas that are dotted across our city with different units and activities.  The mornings are a combination of free play & exploration, story time, an arts or crafts activity, and a biology / ecology learning component.  Today was learning about wetland invertebrates and wildlife, with nets for the children to catch animals to examine and identify.
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Growing up a “wildling” who spent her days in the forests of southwestern Britain, I knew that I wanted my legacy to be giving my children a love and appreciation of nature, and a sense it will always be a home for them.  In any type of upheaval in my life, I always go back to the forest, and walk among the trees, asking them for their stable and grounded energy.
Standing, watching my daughter romp in creeks, throw rocks and construct stick structures in muddy mole piles gives me nothing short of true joy.  But today, the gift was given to us, the parents – particularly as we walked down this path dappled with sunlight, that was lightly fragranced with wild roses and featured the singsong of busy bees buzzing away.
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Pulled away from the program for 2 weeks due to death in our family, we have been scrabbling to keep ourselves above a chaotic tide of emotions, the business and administration of death and critical illness, while trying to balance work and my husband’s intense training with the fire department. Not to mention, rearranging all of our childcare so we could both show up at our jobs.  (When it rains, it pours.)
We were feeling maxed out in all senses of the word when we came to the urban wild program on Saturday, squeezing it in before our fathers’ celebration of life.
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There was something in the air at Pearce Park in Calgary, those 2 hours we spent in the park, much like the pollen floating softly in the air, had a gentle, restorative energy.
Both of us walked at an easy pace, as the air we took into our lungs was let out with big sighs – silent to the bystander, but a full-body experience for us.
As we stood in the dappled shade, watching our daughter wading with a net, we were able – for just a moment – to let the outside world go and enter the delightful world of chubby toes wriggling in the water and little fingers picking up smooth pebbles.
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So today, the urban wild program gave us, the parents the biggest gift.  As we sat at home having a cup of tea afterwards, our tuckered little ones gently snoring, we realized that nature has an unparalleled power to reconnect us, to ground us,  and to steady us in the chaotic tides of life.

Our little Urban Wild Nature Club also introduced us to some wonderful nature-based books for children.  Each Saturday, I joined the kids on the picnic blanket, equally enthralled with these books, which I intend to add to my daughters’ library!

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(page from the book Noisy Bird Sing Along, link below!)

My daughter for weeks now has been able to respond to the chickadees singing in the trees, thanks to the one week we had a morning read *and sing* along with a bird themed nature club.

 

Below are links to two of the books from the program.  Please note, I get a very small commission if you decide to purchase either of these books – which means the Great Maternity Leave can continue to grow and offer more posts 🙂

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Intrigued?
Have a look at the children & nature network of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Is there a club in your area?  If not, perhaps start one.  For yourselves and a few family friends.  Nature is a gift & it is waiting for us, waiting to open its welcoming arms and take us home.
Here are some of my favourite resources that inspire me to get out with my family in YYC and surrounding mountains and reconnect with nature.
Facebook:
 Calgary Outdoor Families Group.
Family Fun Calgary
Bloggers:
 Karen Ung of Play Outside Guide
YYC LINKS:
Common Digs Forest School – Preschool & Kindergarten in the Great Outdoors
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