MY BODY STORY

I was always a small girl. I weighed 98 lbs up until my freshman year of college when I gained the “freshman fifteen.” My god, I felt enormous. My whole life I had had nicknames like tiny, adorable, little girl, skinny mini, string bean, etc. The list goes on. My tiny frame felt like it held my identity and when the pounds began to pile on, I lost it. Then I had babies and I have to say, while being pregnant and a literal house for another human was magical…it was also awful. The number on the scale climbed higher than I had ever seen, but I was young and I had always been small, so I figured after I got these babies out, I would just shrink back down like I always had after eating big meals.

This was not the case. I had to WORK to get small. THE AUDACITY. I never in my life had to work for that. I had to work for money, friendships, relationships, and my mental health…but my body? Oh no no no, not happening. I was bitter about it.

My weight went up and down throughout the next few years.  At one of my heavier times, people started to comment about my weight. A family member even TOUCHED MY STOMACH and asked if I had any news to share. Another person made comments about how earlier in the year (when I was in a skinny period) I was the skinniest I had ever been and he loved that. I was 120 lbs. but I was only thin because I was too sad to eat. Too stressed to move. Too depressed to care. I was a bad mother, a bad friend and a sad person at this time in my life. I had nothing going on, nothing I was working toward, nothing to be proud of and I wasn’t taking care of myself…

BUT I WAS THIN.

Until those moments, I had never been called fat before. I had never had an outside source make comments on my body except to tell me how small I was. This was new territory and my head did not do well with it.

But then, I started to think about what caused this most recent weight gain. I stood and looked back at the time I was in and realized that I was chubby because was because I was happy…

The Club had just launched, the fundraising, the pins coming in, the women pouring out their hearts to me, telling me that my art helped them and made them feel brave and strong. I started working my ass off for those women. For you. FOR ME. What I did for you, you did for me times 10. For the first time in a long time I felt valued and worthy, like I was doing important work and most of all, I felt like I was swimming in love. I had love coming in from every side and I felt solid in it. This is when the weight started to pile on. I was busy, I was working hard at my craft, I was being a mom, I was being social, I was participating in events, I was taking my meds, I was celebrating success with dinner and drinks with friends, I felt like a person again…

BUT I WAS FAT.

HOW DARE I BE FAT? 

So, I wanted to change it. Duh right? Why wouldn’t I? All these months I was just fluffy and happy and how dare I, so I took these pictures to show a “before.” They didn’t have the desired effect though. 

LET ME EXPLAIN. 

A before photo is intended to stand as a snapshot of all the work you have to do, the problem areas of your body. You are expected to see them and feel gross and flawed and think to yourself, “Damn, how did I get so disgusting? I have got to do something.” Not me, bro. These photos motivated me to love myself.

I looked at these pics and thought “I look really cute and sweet and sexy in these” and a few years ago, I wouldn’t have said the same. I didn’t see these pics and instantly become appalled at my own body. I didn’t see them and feel ashamed. I saw them, and then I came here, and decided to share them with you.I have had people say they wish they were my size, at my smallest and at my biggest, and I always tell them “no, I like your size” because I do and so should you.

The first pic is me sucking in and posed.
The second one is all my squish leftover from having kids AND 2 C SECTIONS in 1 year. Literally guys November 3, 2009 I had one C-Section, November 15, 2010 I had another. Of course my flipping body was going to change.

All I am trying to convey here is that you are beautiful, exactly as you are because you are more than a body. Your body is of course beautiful in all is squishy, curvy greatness too, but you’re more than that. You are a beautiful brain with ideas and thoughts, a beautiful heart filled with love and feelings, a beautiful person with hope and perseverance and tenacity and moxie running through you. You are more than a number on a scale or another person’s opinion on your body.

Your body is allowed to be different than what society thinks and tells you is “beautiful.” It is still beautiful and freaking powerful too.

Take a step back like I did and look at all you have, all you’ve done, all you’ve still to do and you will see all of the things that make you an incredibly badass human. That makes the weight of your skin, organs, muscles and god forbid fat seem so small doesn’t it?

Advertisements

Mom Feels | Adjusting to Motherhood

“How did you manage not to lose yourself when you had your babies? How did you do it?”

My answer is complicated and multi faceted, but the TL;DR answer is… you do. You do lose yourself to a certain extent, but it is less of a loss and more of an exchange, really. 

Of course, I can say this now because I am not neck deep in diapers, burping cloths, nipple cream and sleepless nights. I have the gift of perspective now that I am nearly 8 years out. However, my journey into motherhood was so jarring and abrupt that it left an impression, and it only takes a moment of seriously thinking of those early days to conjure all of it up again along with every feeling attached to that season of life. 

My body was a squishy mess that I didn’t recognize when I looked in the mirror, my boobs constantly hurt and no longer belonged to me, I never slept, I hardly showered, post partum depression piled on top of my ever present regular depression, there was immense pressure – both external and internal- to be the perfect mother and wife and it was crushing me.

Let’s stop and talk about the depression thing for a minute. First of all, I cried constantly, so there’s that. One night, in a panic, I realized deep in my soul that I just could not do this. I. Could. Not. Do. It. So, I did super a rational thing…I called my friends and family and with the utmost sincerity, I tearfully asked them to adopt my children. I cried when they said no. Then, when I realized how insane that was, how much I loved my babies, how I would never let Courtney and Ashley adopt them…cried because of how horrible of a mother I was. Post partum was rough guys, not to mention, my friends dropped like flies once they realized that holding a crying baby wasn’t fun, let alone hanging out with the crying mom holding the crying baby. Yikes. So on top of everything else, I was extremely lonely. Like, cry-in-the-shower-clutching-your-knees-to-your-chest and asking-yourself-out-loud “why doesn’t anyone like me” -lonely.  As if i needed any more help finding reasons to cry at this point in my life. 

I remember these days like they were yesterday. Did I lose myself? Absolutely. Did I lose myself? Absolutely not. I was afraid that I would though, so you aren’t alone there. I was so afraid that I would never have friends again, that the place that I was at that moment was going to be the place I always was. I would never paint again, I would never go to school and get my degree, I would never get the time to fall in love with being a wife to my new husband, I would never get to put myself first ever again, and I would always smell like diaper cream. These were legitimate fears that circled in my head during the first years, if not longer. 

My kids are 8 and 9 now and if I could go back in time and sit next to the blubbering blob I once thought myself to be, I would be so kind to her. This is what I would tell her: 

Hey there sweet mama, I know your pain and I know it well. This phase ends and you come out the other side. Different than you were before, yes, but better in my opinion. You will paint again, you will fall in love and figure things out with being married, you will make a lot of mistakes but none of them make you a bad person or a bad mom. You will find times that you can put yourself first and restructure your priorities, find new hobbies and gain new, fantastic friendships that make all of this pain worth bearing. All of these sleepless nights end, their tiny feet grow big and smelly, your waist shrinks again, but even if it didn’t you are still gorgeous. You are, even if you don’t feel like it, gorgeous and powerful. You are way cooler of a person now. You learned and grew, you found humor in the heartaches, you found lessons in the loneliness. You know your worth now more than you ever have before, you know what you are capable of, you know what you bring to the table, and it is a feast. AND now you know how to swaddle a baby in less than 15 seconds. You became a stronger woman as most women do when they are faced with challenges. They did not defeat you, you found your way. Did you lose who you were? Yes, pieces of yourself stay behind, but you bring more forward with you as you continue to stay alive every day. It all evens out. The days are so long, but the years are short, and those babies won’t be in your arms forever. Try your best to enjoy where you are and do not worry about losing yourself, you will and you won’t. You will be amazing no matter what. 

I read somewhere once that you should prepare to be married to 6 different people in the span of a marriage. So, how many people will we all be and become in a lifetime? My advice there? Prepare for change. It is coming, it is always coming. It is not always pleasant, but you will see it through. I personally, cannot wait to meet the rest of the people I will become. Good or bad, I am excited to embrace her each time with a fresh excitement and a heart full of memories and pieces I may leave behind. Moving forward is a gift I am happy to receive. 

Also, in case you are wondering, I now smell like rose water.

Last but not least, my mama friend Autumn is selling a collaborative design (by me) in her shop Matriarch Handmade and if you’d like to buy one and help support two working mamas, DM her on Instagram or email me and let me know and I will get it going for you. See shirt below 🙂

When the Storm Hits

So as we all know, I have depression.
Hello, my name is Natalie, and I have depression.
tenor

Over the past 20 or so years, I have done serious work on myself and my depression.
From accepting it, understanding it, unlearning/relearning coping skills
to countless medication combinations, therapy, THE WORKS.
Along the way,
I discovered a few of my own ways to make my depression calm the heck down.

So without further ado,
here are my tips for when the depression hits:

  • Acknowledgement
    Despite the fact that “It’s fine” is my unofficial catch phrase, I have never gotten anywhere acting like I was fine when I was SO not fine. So own it, face it, say it out loud, talk to yourself in the mirror about it, write it down…something. Depression is there whether you want it to be or not, so acknowledging it is a very obvious but very important first step.
  • Redirect the Sadness
    Watching Grey’s is huge for me and my depression. Instead of wallowing in my own sad life, I wallow in theirs, and dear lord, theirs is horrific. That’s what you gotta do sometimes ok, you gotta take the sadness and throw it at something else. You take it and you throw it and you cry about it, because sometimes, you need to cry about SOMETHING that you can feel, experience and then turn off and walk away from. I cannot walk away from my depression, that jerk follows me everywhere, but I CAN walk away from season 8, episode 24. ::cue Snow Patrol:: If Grey’s doesn’t do it for you, try Beaches, Eternal Sunshine, My Girl, P.S. I Love You, Mona Lisa Smile, This is Us or just text me because I can hook you up with secondhand sadness ALL DAY LONG.
  • Take Your Meds (if applicable)
    In some of my more depressive states, the hopelessness can sometimes win and I will skip my meds. Because nothing matters right? Everything is shit, everything is doomed, and why even bother, right? WRONG take your meds. I am saying this to you, yes, but I am also screaming it to myself. TAKE YOUR MEDS.
  • Confide in Your Friends
    It is such a huge deal in your mental health journey to have support in place. Solid ground in the form of a friend. It can help so much to talk to a friend who gets it and if they get it, they can help support, motivate and love you through it. I recently had a talk with Kate about how difficult it has been for me to shower or straighten up my house, how the small things feel so huge these days, and instead of thinking I am gross or lazy, she pushed me. Lovingly, of course. She got me out of my house, she told me it was ok that I wasn’t bright and shiny, and that I was still worth a damn. After my weekend with her, I feel refreshed, loved, and deeply understood. I even showered AND cleaned my house. (see photo for proof) Friends are invaluable. (If you do not have a friend like this, email me. I will be that friend for you. We are in this together.)
  • Dance It Out
    This one may seem silly or pointless, but it can help, even if just momentarily. Everyone has that one song that when you hear it, you just have to move. Getting up and jumping around to some fun tunes can really lift the fog. It does not matter if you look silly, it does not matter if you dance badly. You gotta do it. Check out the hashtag #takefiveanddance on Instagram for some inspiration and click here for a playlist to inspire you to get your booty in motion!
  • Have a Cry
    It comes as no surprise I am sure that I advocate for crying. I am nothing if not on brand. Crying is an emotional palate cleanser. A reset button. It can be cathartic and a way to just purge your system of all the negative crap clogging it up. It isn’t always that simple, but sometimes it is and there is no shame in crying. Let it out.
  • Nuts
    NOT THAT KIND YALL GOOD GRIEF! Ok but for real, according to many sources I found on google… almonds, pecans and walnuts can really help. “Just an ounce a day can help improve both your physical and mental health. These nuts contain calcium, which can help offset hormonal imbalances in women as well as alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and impaired memory.” AW NUTS
  • Make Lists
    I find that it helps me to have a plan, even if the plan is small, even if I don’t completely stick to it, even if it is scattered …writing things down helps put things into perspective and makes it easier for my depressed brain to manage. Keep your expectations low, cut yourself some slack, and praise yourself for the things you manage to complete. Small steps forward are still steps forward.
  • Lean Into It
    Hear me out ok? I am not promoting wallowing. Maybe I am? I don’t know but I wear glasses, so I know everything. It is ok to feel sad. Depression is not your fault, it comes out of nowhere, and sometimes, the only way out is through. Lean into the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, give them names “I feel sad, I feel hopeless, I feel unworthy.” When I do this, it can help me to realize how irrational my thoughts are. When I say my negative thoughts out loud, I can immediately counter them with logical thoughts. Sometimes saying some of the thoughts out loud can make them seem so silly. I have done this exercise before and actually ended up laughing about it, calling my brain a jerk, and just moving on. I also like to yell, “I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE.” Come for the cute art, stay for the incredible advice.
  • Create
    Not everyone is Picasso or Mozart or Ansel Adams or Frida Kahlo, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try! It can really help to just get the bad feelings out in some creative way, and you may even end up with something great! Journaling, doodling, painting, DIYing are all great ways to get your mind off the sadness. Check out my Pinterest board for some craft ideas.
  • Brush Your Teeth, Drink Water, Paint your Nails, Take a Nap
    Sometimes the small things seem like big things, and consequently, that can make big things seem insurmountable. Let’s take 5 minutes to do something small, something for ourselves, something that is leading us in a more positive direction and then, let’s…
  • Celebrate Small Wins
    The fact that you are trying is something to be celebrated. Existing is hard, especially when it feels like the weight of the world and all its pressures are crushing you and your mind is a minefield out for blood and no one gets it and you are sinking. Anything you do to help yourself along – big or small – should go without praise. You are doing good, you are doing something, and that is everything.

But enough about me and my antics,
how do you combat your depression?
Tell us below in the comments! 

If You’re Like Me…

39970265_655214011525336_5728550516670070784_o

You can be living and thriving, doing well, feeling great… and one intrusive thought, “I am not good enough,” comes along and levels you.

You could be out, smiling and laughing, having a great time with good friends. Someone snaps a picture of you and when you see it,  you feel so disgusted with yourself that you fake being sick and go home and cry in the shower.

You have someone in your life, a partner, who cares for you, loves you, talks you through panic attacks, brings you food when you can’t leave the house, comes over and sits with you when you are afraid, reminds you to take your medicine and sees you through everything, but you constantly try to push them away by any means necessary.

You can be laying in bed, winding down from a busy day of existing, and your mind begins to wander…what if someone drove by right now and shot in my direction? What if a bullet came through my second floor bedroom wall and hit me in the head? What if I died before I even realized what happened? It is beyond irrational, but you get so stuck on this that you have to talk yourself out of sleeping on the floor,  you know, for safety.

You toss and turn all night. Nightmares play on a continuous loop. Worms fall out of your face,  you watch yourself die, you drown, snakes are everywhere… and you wake up, unable to eat all day because of how gross and real your dreams were.

You build up the courage to ask a friend to hang out and they tell you that they are busy, which is fine. This happens again and again. Again. Then again. And it is you, they aren’t busy, they just don’t want to hang out with YOU. So you recluse and isolate and cry in your room wondering why no one wants to be your friend.

You accidentally take your medicine on an empty stomach and spend the entire day feeling queasy and like your body is stuffed with cotton balls.

You come home after a long day to an empty house and you can almost feel the loneliness in your bones.

Your therapist tells you that you are hard to diagnose because you are so self aware and introspective and functional in your life.

You cycle through wanting to have sex, but hating people. Liking people but not wanting to be touched. Not wanting to have sex, but wanting a partner. Wanting sex but not wanting a partner. Wanting to have sex, but you are traumatized. Trauma makes your sexual interests odd, and leaves you feeling like a freak. Wanting sex, so you have a lot of it with no real connection. Wanting sex, but not wanting to be touched. Not wanting sex or anyone close to you. Thinking about intimacy and how you have no idea what it really looks like. Thinking about love and how you have no idea what that looks like.

You think about hurting yourself but you realize how much effort that would require and your laziness saves the day again.

You start to look at the list of things you have to get done this day, week, month and begin to panic, feeling like you are failing more and more every second of the day.

You want to visit your family but you  have to emotionally prepare yourself for days beforehand and then emotionally care for yourself for days afterward.

You start thinking of how this is your story and in your story you will never have a mother, you will never have a father. You have no one to call when you need help or guidance or support. You have no one who calls you to check on you and make sure you are getting enough sleep.

If you are like me, you are tired… but you are here. 

You are doing and trying your best. Maybe not all day, maybe not all the time, but you are and you keep trying. You wake up,  you struggle, you show up, you drink water, you take your medicine, you go to the doctor, you hug your children,  you let the world see you cry and then… you let them see you rise.

 

 

What I Mean When I Say “I Don’t Care What Other People Think of Me”

“You should hear the things people say about you.”

No, I shouldn’t, because it is really none of my concern. However, life doesn’t always agree, so inevitably, you will hear bits and pieces of negative feedback on who you are as a human being from time to time. That is just how it goes.  Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will say nice things when your name is brought up. You are the villain in some peoples’ stories, so plant your feet and lean in. It is just the way it is sometimes. Just because someone else has a negative opinion of you doesn’t mean that they are correct. Of course, I am talking about people talking just to talk. If your friends or people close to you have something to say that is tough love or constructive criticism, of course you’d want to pay attention and take that into account. This is more directed towards that oh so high school way of people just talk, talk, talking shit without actually saying a thing.

You know you better than anyone. You are the one doing work every day to be a better you than the day before. You know all your mistakes, your triumphs, your intentions, your mind and your heart, so do not let it shake you that someone else doesn’t like you. They don’t know you. Everyone else only gets fragmented views in not always so flattering light, You live inside of you,  you have to feel good about you. Once you do that, it really doesn’t matter how the world perceives you.

Of course still try to be a good person! I am not saying go out and punch old ladies and destroy property, etc. and then smile and be all, “IT’S OK GUYS, I’M A GREAT PERSON INSIDE MY HEAD!”

Just do your best ok, love yourself, and then you can proudly say,
“I don’t care what other people think of me.”

41533932_665269480519789_8297718426068058112_n
Feels Unisex Long Sleeve found here

 

Crybaby Bingo (free printables)

I have been wanting to do a Crybaby Bingo card for the longest time and I finally did it!!!

I think that this would be kind of fun to play at a meet up or something like that in the future, just to kind of have a fun way of opening up the floor to talk about some stuff that we’ve cried about, some serious and some not.

For now though, I’m gonna post it here in case any of you wanna play! If you do play, be sure and repost it and tag us @thecrybabyclub or #thecrybabyclub #crybabybingo so I can see!!!

 

What would your crybaby bingo square say?? 

Tell us in the comments! 

 

 

Take Care with Self Care

pinkfeelingssss

Self care is important whether you suffer from mental illness or not. Self care can be something as small as lighting your favourite candle or having a drink of water or as big as taking a solo road trip or buying a new pair of shoes. Personally, when I feel anxious or depressed, I find that distracting myself and trying to be productive can often ease the symptoms. This could be anything from re-reading my favourite books or sitting in bed to listen to my favourite playlist. Writing my thoughts and feelings down (even if nobody is going to read them) often helps me feel like they’re being lifted off my chest. Getting creative is helpful too. There are so many ways to cope. So many in fact, that sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming and difficult to know where to start!

Lucky for you, you have me, and I have CB and CB has this blog 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite forms of self care to help maintain mental wellness:

These are all ways of finding an activity that makes me feel at peace with myself and often makes me feel good about what I’ve accomplished. These activities are also great to do in groups, which is a perfect way of making new friends or reconnecting with old ones!

Sometimes, though, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Depression and anxiety affect my concentration and ability to sit still  long enough to complete one task. Sometimes even reading or watching a show/movie is nearly impossible. There’s also nothing wrong with letting yourself feel things and doing the gross part of self care like having a nap or letting yourself cry. On days like these I try to clean. When I first started therapy, my therapist told me that I should start with cleaning the mirror in my bedroom, and then as I’m already cleaning I’ll feel obligated to clean other things too. I understand that for a lot of people, myself included, these tasks can be difficult. Starting small can help, because small steps forward are still steps forward, and steps forward are something to be proud of and celebrated!

What are some ways you deal/practice self care?
Tell us in the comments!

 

love, Lucy xo

To keep up with Lucy, follow her on Instagram

Check In

IMG_2453.pngI have been seeing this sentiment floating around the internet lately and I am 100% here for it.

Check ins can be as simple as a, “hey, how are you doing?” It is a moment where we stop being selfish (because let’s face it, we all are) and realize others exist outside of us and they may need us. It is so easy to forget that everyone is dealing with their own problems, and sometimes a check in can make a world of difference for someone.

I do check ins with a lot of my people, my son being one of them. If I can tell he is having a tough time (or sometimes, even if he seem fine, because not everything manifests in a way I can sense) I ask him a few key questions to get him talking an help him learn to navigate his emotions through verbalizing them and hopefully, that will in turn help him become better at communicating in general. In my own experience, it is usually miscommunication that causes most misunderstandings and not the actual problems themselves, so here are a few ways you can talk to your friends about things they may never bring up on their own.

First off, go in with no expectations and remember that this is not about you, this is about your friend. You are checking in because you want to let your people know that you are there for them, that you see them, that you care, and that they can come to you. When I ask my son how he is, I am not doing it for mom points, I do it to be a present parent. So if you check in, and your friend doesn’t want to talk, that’s okay. Everyone deals in different ways, but the important thing is that you’ve let them know that should they ever need to talk, they can come to you.

Next, it is good to have some short questions that you can ask versus some long winded speech about how you care and want them to open up and stuff. Some people can feel pressured and then they will close up even more, and that is not good for anyone.
Here are some that I have found to be successful and not so overwhelming:

  • What is weighing heavy on your heart?
  • How have you been feeling?
  • On a scale from 1-10, where is your head right now? (this one works great for Jack and you can learn more about it and where I got the idea from here)
  • What can I do to help? or Is there anything I can do for you?

Those are just a couple that have worked for me and some of my people and they may not necessarily work for yours. I know if I went to my best friend and said, “what is weighing heavy on your heart today?” she would laugh, say WTF and call me a weirdo and dismiss the question. So knowing what would work for your buds is helpful too.

It should be natural. Don’t just bust up into the room and be like HEY I’VE NOTICED YOU’VE BEEN STRUGGLING LATELY AND I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHATS THE DEAL AND HOW I CAN HELP!!! Feel out the conversation, if it doesn’t make sense to check in right then, there will be other opportunities. Plus, some people are not good with face to face interactions about such sensitive stuff. So….

Texting is always good. It is a really low key way to show your support without it making people feel pressured. “Good morning, I hope you have a good day today. I have been thinking about you a lot, so I wanted to reach out and just let you know that you’re on  my mind. Let me know if you wanna get coffee or something soon, I’d love to spend some time with you.” It is kind of a preface to the check in. So many feelings come out over coffee, so an invite to hang out is a nice way to sort of set the scene so to speak? I don’t know about you but my friends are busy bees, so setting aside some time for each other is a non verbal way to let them know you’re there for them.

My last tip for you is to start the conversation. I know this from running CB, if you are open, communicative and transparent with your issues, it can open the floor for others to speak out too. I share a lot of things with my crybabies, and while of course, it is cathartic for me to get things off my chest, it also empowers me when the emails start coming in. Floods of stories come my way and they usually all include something along the lines of, “thank you for sharing your story with me, it makes me feel less alone and more inspired to share my own.” Recently I have had a lot of my IRL people come to me and tell me things they’re dealing with things that I would never have known if I hadn’t opened myself up and  shown them that they can talk to me, they can trust me, because I trust and talk to them. The power of community, communication and transparency cannot be overstated.

Everyone wants to feel that they belong, that they are seen and valued. Yes, it is lovely to joke, laugh, dance and play with your friends, but it is just as lovely and just as important to be vulnerable with them. Checking in is showing your friends that you are a soft place for them to land, should they need it.

Checking in reminds me of my favorite scene from The Labyrinth. With the journey over and the battle won, it was time for Sara to go back home. Her friends, however, showed up one last time and simply said, “should you need us” and she knew that she could call on them if she ever needed to again.

So check in with your friends, they may need you and not know it, or they do know and don’t know how to ask.

So in closing…
How are you feeling today?