Self Compassion during Covid

So I don’t know about you but Covid and the Quarantine and mask wearing have all caused me to be more curious with myself and my internal processing of life, priorities, and how to stay strong and continue to move forward during a time when many are talking about what’s crumbling, what’s wrong, and what we can’t do and how life as we knew it before is over.


Couldn’t that be a good thing? If we have compassion towards what is actually happening within and around us, I think we can be hopeful for the future.  I don’t know about you but Covid has kind of evened the playing ground in one regard – it’ll touch any age, any race, any social status, any family, any country and therefore we have something blatantly in common that is being talked about almost daily even if you are avoiding the news and health is maybe being pushed to a priority over say maybe wealth?  I mean the mask is staring everyone in the face.  So what happens when we see the commonness in people we maybe thought we were so different from?…..human compassion grows if we allow it.  Gratitude for this life, for our breath, for our neighbor, and hopefully for our country/world.  Gratitude for different jobs that maybe didn’t receive much recognition before.  Recognition that we share the same space, breathe the same air, and right now are enduring a shift that is asking us to rebuild our roots and strengthen our foundation.

A lot of the tasks, places, and day -to -day hustle came to a halt.  And as my structure around me crumbled, I was reminded of what is soooo important, always has and always will – my inner world and my thought process.  Now is a perfect time to keep building on that.  Does it take work? Does it take looking at my pain? Does it involve some crying? Does it involve being vulnerable? Yes Yes and Yes and yet, it is also so very freeing.

As the structure around me has crumbled, new possibilities have also arose.  Can we continue to have compassion for our individual processes.  How different we are in that some are fighting for Disney to remain open whilst others are fighting for schools and some are fighting for social justice?  Yet – what are we all fighting for?  Acceptance of the now, perceived quality of life, and confidence for our ability to rise above and move forward.  Sounds like a worthy fight, if it starts within.

One of the things that has really helped me recently is taking this course through on Self Compassion for Educators.  Right now I am guessing there are a lot of parents and teachers probably struggling with finding time for their thoughts and themselves while caring for others.  Parenting has become a 24/7 job with the addition of teacher assistant/tech support while teaching has become a huge transition to teaching online that is foreign to some whilst the mental weight of going back to a population of people that are the largest germ spreaders known to man.  (And also the greatest love and light spreaders in my opinion).  Teachers also deal with the parents who for some, again their energy is frantic right now.  So how can self compassion help us who are in this together?

I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for about 10 years but this process I found added an element of human connection that lacks sometimes in the tech era.  It humanizes what we as individuals are feeling to our neighbor, to our community, to our country, and to our world.  It stops you from staring at one tree and broadens your perspective to see the entire forest and how deeply intertwined those roots are indeed.  The practice went like this.  You start by thinking of a negative emotion that you have had recently.  Maybe a feeling of being alone, isolated, sad, mad, frustrated, etc.  And you sit with that emotion trying not to listen to any voices that encourage you to push it away, move on, or not feel.  You feel it to the fullest.  You feel it’s physical presence in your body.  You can even do a body scan to pinpoint exactly where you feel it.  And then, this is the part I loved – you relate it to the human experience as not JUST YOU or something you did or something you deserve BUT instead as part of all of us and part of life.  And that when we continuously refuse to “go there” – we build walls.  Walls that we think are protecting us but in actuality are driving us further apart.  Walls that need to be broken down by self awareness, mindful communication, acceptance, and presence.

So please know whatever you are feeling during this time, the best way to the other side of it is through honoring it and honoring the ability that you have to work with it and to be here right now exactly as you are.  I think when we put a little humanness to it, a little understanding, we can remain mindful in what is the best way to go about moving forward.  Pick something that will nurture you in a sustainable manner rather than temporarily remove the pain.  Build your better self.  One step at a time.  One breath of compassion and gratitude at a time.  And maybe just maybe – we will look back at this struggle – as a pivotal step forward for all of us.  Things may seem like they are burning now, self destructing, etc – check inside – start there.

I can also say when I take the time to practice self compassion – it is so much harder to turn towards hate/blame with both myself and with other people. And even if I have a moment of discord or frustration – I know what I need to do to wash my heart clean, take a pause, and view that other  “side” or person as a person living in this same world maybe fighting some of the same battles but taking a different approach or having a slip up and that I can give myself and them space.  Stay true, stay humble, stay hungry, stay kind, stay connected.




This one is for the moms…..

This one is for the moms…..

Okay so motherhood was definitely the biggest life changer I received.  I thought cancer was and some people say it is easier to look back and think something was easier but you forget how hard it was during.  But to me, the plus side of cancer was in many ways – I got loved and taken care of.  I didn’t ask for it to happen and I sure wouldn’t want it to happen again but I received presents, was told to lie down, rest, eat well, and take care of me.  I received fluids to make sure I was hydrated and prayers from all over.  Now motherhood – well – to be honest – it is not always the most refreshing thankful job and I think I have raised Kira well.  Now when mommy is sad – yes she gives me love but the day to day is me providing love, nourishment, physical exercise, support, clean clothes, school supplies, play dates, etc etc etc.  Even my watching of Hart of Dixie or anything that fuels my fire is taken over by the Inbestigators.  So it is easy for me to lose me in the WE.  And yes, it is also the most purposeful and rewarding job I have ever had and a love like no other – don’t get me wrong.

But – sometimes a girl needs time to just take care of one peep.  Herself.  I probably should have realized I needed this (but atlas, live & learn) back when I got a speeding ticket in Switzerland and upon receiving/translating the letter, I realized I had two options.  One was to pay 600 francs and the other was to spend 3 nights in jail and I actually was intrigued by the second option.  I thought to myself, clean, free of clutter, minimalistic space all to myself while being fed possibly some delicious rosti covered in cheese made by all natural cows with a tie to the land and no need for lactaid here my friends – sounds like it could be good!  Maybe like a silent meditation? But I went the payment route and proceeded.

So when I had the blessing of 2 weeks to myself while Stan visited Oma in Colorado and Kira got some Omi’s time – I was excited.  I returned to the simplicity of taking care of one being and filling up my cup so that I could center myself, spend some time appreciating slowness and stillness, and mend some of the emotions I had stuffed in an effort to support my family.  And here is what I wrote about those amazing 2 weeks:

These past two weeks – I said yes to me in the kindest, most gentle way possible.  A way unknown to me, never taught and never programmed into my psyche.

I said yes to facing the tears and the fears that I have stuffed down in an effort to BE STRONG.  I said yes to eating a slice of pizza and a beer.  I said yes to finally staining the deck and when my tired limbs got too weary – I said yes to a break.  I said yes to laying on the couch and watching multiple episodes of queer eye in which I pretended they would come and help make me over.  I said yes to sitting with some of my pain and allowing my physical body to soften as it passed through and I reminded myself that I had it in me.  I said yes to wearing the blue dress to my Godson’s graduation even though my legs aren’t the size I may long for right now and who knows if they will be again.  I said yes to exploring the fear I have for this world right now and giving myself the reminder of faith – not wishing for an outcome yet honoring the process and wishing each individual, family, country, and community well as they evolve.  I said yes to every piece of me.
I have pondered why it is so easy for me to love others yet I need space and time to love myself, completely as I am, in this moment, not reaching but actual acceptance.
And I can honestly say it felt GOOD.  To settle into who I am at my core, to grieve the life of yesteryear, to pause at my intermission, to let go of guilt and shame, to own my mistakes, see my accomplishments, and awaken the pieces of me that dream.  To do simple things with so much gratitude, to feel peace, peace in saying yes to me.
So in conclusion – it is so easy as members of one family to become a little dependent on one party or one source of love.  But it is part of the most healthy relationships and family dynamics I believe for everyone to have some space completely as an individual again – as they were before they were part of something.  I was so pleased to welcome my family back, exchange stories on our adventures, and I hold that space that I had with such love.

A day of Adventur’ing

Okay so right before we went into corona quarantine,

I was talking about the transition into Spring during my yoga classes and how to  prep the body so one class I shared 15 things that Spring brings and one that I found interesting was actually a decrease in crime.  Apparently the sun has a positive effect on not only vitamin D levels, the corona virus, but also on people committing theft.  So I think we can all agree that nature is an amazing healer.  Also, this online learning thing – I truly hope it does not continue, especially for the younger ones.  It is completely foreign to Kira and she is done by around 10:30 am.  Now I have enjoyed some positives from it – I have more time in the morning to exercise or enjoy breakfast without having that school bus deadline, we can be more creative with breakfast, and I have actually seen her keyboard skills improve.  I also have gotten to actually see what Kira is learning and gotten to do some art with her.  But, she cannot stare at the screen for that long and today her and I were both itching to go out.  So we decided that even though it wasn’t the weekend and it was technically a “school day” – that it was time to go on an adventure.  She actually called in “adventuring” to make it into a verb.

This past Sunday I had googled the best parks near Easton, PA and I liked the name Ringing Rocks and it wasn’t too far – about a half hour – so we decided on going there.  And, we loved it.  So Kira and I went back today as we didn’t get to explore it quite as much as we had wanted because last time we brought the two little pups. So this time we walked them before and then left them at the house to chill.  Oh, and this time we brought a hammer.  We had no idea that beating a rock with a hammer was a thing.  But at Boulder Field in Ringing Rocks, PA – it is!  Some of the rocks make a thud and some make a ding – it all depends on their composition.   It kinda reminded me of the price is right and sticking a key into the ignition of a car hoping it turns it on and sometimes- you get a winner!

We started off going the same route we had gone – we visited boulder field and then went on to see the waterfall and then we got on the loop to see where it takes you.  We kept going and we kept hearing dinging which meant we were somewhere near boulder field again.  Boulder Field consists of exactly what its name is – a field of nothing but big boulders.  We ran into a lady who told us that these rocks were at one point under water with dinosaurs and then when the plates shifted – the water eventually went away – leaving these rocks.  This excited Ms. Kirabelles.  So we came to the opposite side of where we had entered boulder field and instead of walking back around we decided to cross it.  Now Kira was already hungry and telling me she was down to about 4% battery (she was making an analogy to my cell phone) so I was a bit apprehensive that this may not go so well but once she started climbing – she said she was getting energy back.  I was like – well keep on going then girlfriend.  Now sometimes yes it was a little “rocky” at points and sometimes I grabbed her hand or she encouraged me but we made it across and had a lot of fun in the process.  It also was way less crowded today. So before we left, we stared out at the sea of rocks we had crossed and both said we had had a good day adventuring.

On the drive home, we noticed a little farm stand store that was open and you could actually go inside so we did.  She had the prettiest flowers outside and inside we got some green beans, lettuce, Bobs Red Mill almond flour and flaxseed, and Kira picked out some sprinkles for her birthday cake that she has already started planning for in July.  The lady was super nice and we were able to chat normally, even with our masks on which was nice.  I realized how much I do miss random conversations with people at the grocery store or from class or that I run into during my “normal” daily life.  Kinda like my bus stop chat.

After the store, we thought we were headed home but then spotted a playground that didn’t look like it had yellow crime scene tape around it so we decided it was open!  Score Again! So Kira ran free and played while mommy sat and took a break enjoying a nice day outside.  There is something very refreshing about being outside in the midst of something so unknown.  I feel surrounded and protected by fresh air, trees, and the simple smiles of a 6 year old frolicking on a playground.  Something about that feels just right and well and hopeful for her future.  In something so serious, she hasn’t lost the child inside of her that doesn’t think so much, but lives completely in the moment.

Quarantine Snack Ideas for Kids

Have you ever written down how many times your child or children says “I’m hungry” in the course of a day?

I honestly sometimes feel like it can be as early as an hour after Ms. Kirabelle just finished a meal.  Now, sometimes I think this is actual hunger pains and other times I think it is boredom so I wanted to write down some tips to keeping the children healthy, engaged, and still in cue with their body’s signals and what they really mean.

Routine is very important from the time of birth to help teach them how to take care of themselves.  The first thing the pediatrician told me my job was, was to teach her morning and night in order to get her into the same routine as Stan & I.  In the morning you wake up and at night, you sleep and replenish.  I noticed early on anytime we went on vacation and “let go” of our routines and maybe ate a little more food out or went to bed a little later – this made for a vacation hangover when it was time to get back crackin’ and to school/work.   So the best thing to do is to maintain consistency with the working towards of breaks, rewards, vacation, and time to “let go”.  We have kept meal times and snack times to specific hours so as not to make the kitchen a 24/7 convenience store but a time of connection to food, our bodies, and one another.  A sacred time.  A wholesome time.  A slower time.

Another thing that helps is pre-planning healthy snacks that are on hand. I find it best to make a bunch on Sunday for the week ahead.  Below are some ideas that my family likes and that you can play around with.  I hope these find you WELL!

  • Cut up cucumber and tomato slices drizzled with olive oil and a little feta cheese.  These one is actually easy to prepare and doesn’t need to be batched and made.  And I love the green & red combo of color sprinkled with white
  • Fruit – all fruit and any fruit – great way to taste the rainbow, alternate seasonally, and even make happy faces with.  Positive relationships with food start young.
  •  Sliced veggies that work for your child – Kira likes peppers cut up
  • Seaweed snacks – high in iron, calcium, and magnesium, also good for fine motor skills
  • Plain bread cut up into shapes with peanut butter and goji berries ———————>
  • Plain yogurt mixed with fruit or sweetened a with little with honey
  • smoothies – Kira likes 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 avocado, nut milk of choice and cocoa powder – tastes like a choc milkshake
  • Nut Balls – here is where you can make these on Sunday and they are perfect for overall power and energy and you can even add in some things that are good for your child and they will never know- you will come to know how much of each.  I usually start with a half of a cup of nuts and remember that you want to eventually roll them into balls so this is the consistency of what you want to see.  If you ever need to “thicken or toughen them up” add some coconut flour or almond flour.  I wanted to share some we have made using things from the cupboards.  I find that as you experiment – your creative juices start flowing towards ideas.   Example ideas below:
    • walnuts, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon – blend and roll – cinnamon roll inspired
    • soaked cashews, lemon juice, salt, maple syrup, can add chia seeds (gives like a lemon poppyseed flavor)
    • peanut butter, oats, honey, salt, cinnamon
    • soaked cashews, coconut butter, maple syrup, salt, dip in melted coconut oil and then roll in shredded coconut
    • almonds, cocoa powder, little peanut butter, oats, dates, and maybe even mini choc chips
    • soaked macadamia nuts, oats, maple, and little sprinkles for color (funfetti birthday cake spin)


The Road to Motherhood

For the Moms tomorrow!  Not every road to becoming a mom is the same but I hope today as you look back on your road, you can celebrate the hope, courage, strength, and love that you pave everyday.  Happy Mother’s Day!!

Here is a love letter to my daughter that I wrote in my Friday night writes group led by Diana Vitantonio and I wanted to share.  Motherhood is one word but encompasses so many.  So to all those who “mother” may you reflect on your story or stories today and be proud of this work.   May this find you well.

A first time:

The first time I saw your eyes…..I had no idea what the windy road journey would entail to get me to you but one thing I was always sure of, was that I dreamed of you from the start.  I remember being around 11 and telling my mom that when I grew up I was going to have a girl so I could braid her hair and take her shopping.  I said even if I don’t get married, I will adopt a little girl.  I always had a plan B.

My life started down one narrow road and I never ventured off.  I went to college. I got a job.  I met a boy. I fell in love.  I walked down the aisle in a white dress and danced the night away with friends and family.  The next stop on this road was to have a baby but instead I got cancer.  I remember the fear when I asked the doc about my chances and my fertility.  I remember the tears – all of them.  And for a short time, I had to let go of you.  I had something bigger to fight for.  But I kept you in a certain piece of my being as if you were a teenie tiny little star in the sky that I caught a beautiful glimpse of now and again.  When I spent time in this space, anything was possible.  I began to notice that the more I let go, the more I lived.  And the more I lived, the more I felt whole.

A few years later, I took a test that confirmed that a life was growing inside of me.  Not only had I been blessed with a new life but now I was growing one.  I loved you and your home inside me better because of cancer and I am thankful for that, even though sometimes the fear is real as well.  I couldn’t help but think this was part of some larger plan by God or the powers above all along.

I talked to you ALL the time.  I read to you.  Some children’s stories and some articles out of Oprah magazine as well.  And my hand was never far from your being if I was at rest.  I knew the entire time that you were a girl except for three weeks your Daddy tried to convince me you were a boy but I quickly got back on the girl train.

And I’ll never forget that moment, that first sight, you were laid on my belly close to the exact spot of your first home and you looked up at me.  I will never forget this.  Your eyes looked wise despite your size and Kirabelle, you have taught me more about life and living WELL, than you will ever know.