It’s Okay to Speak Up, Really (Part 1)

Last Wednesday Susan from Working Moms Against Guilt posted about having difficult conversations with loved ones instead of an uncensored “snarkfest” brought on by repeatedly withdrawing from confrontation.  Sound familiar?  Most of my female friends and clients describe struggling with this because “nice girls” don’t make waves and depend on approval to feel good.

This week, I’m offering some guidelines for assertive not aggressive communication to help with this challenging practice.  Remember,  it’s important to be open and direct about both positive and negative emotions because love and praise often go unspoken too.

  1. Be assertive.  Speak openly, honestly and directly. Don’t be passive: beat around the bush, shut down, stop listening or withdraw.  Don’t be aggressive: yell, blame, belittle the other person or fight to be right.  Express yourself fully and listen openly to what the other has to say.
  2. State your thoughts and feelings openly, honestly, and clearly.  If you perceive the other person is not understanding what you are saying, try again.  Remain calm, centered and non-defensive.  Help them lower their guard so they can hear you fully and accurately.
  3. Be courteous and respectful.  Pay attention.  Stop doing other things (TV, computer, etc).  Make eye contact.  If you disagree with what they say or their perception of what you’ve said, let them know openly and directly but don’t attack them.  Give and expect respect.

These suggestions foster open, honest, assertive communication.  They set the tone for a win-win situation.  Practice with someone you trust first.  Next week, Part 2 of what to do.

Advice From a Reformed Conflict Avoider

I tend to avoid the hard stuff in relationships. If an issue is painful or difficult to address, I find a way around it. I don’t like conflict, and being the typical busy working mom, I can justify putting off “special talks” with loved ones because I don’t have time.

Sound familiar? If you’re a time-crunched, conflict avoider like me, take a moment and ask yourself, ” Is this really working?”   Because, it sure as hell wasn’t  for me.   I was so resentful of my husband’s lack of help around the house and with the kids, yet I didn’t want to discuss it (other than the offhand snarky comment). Too much risk of bringing up painful issues. Too hard to figure out workable solutions.

Until the day I thought I was going to lose it. Then came the break-down-bawling fest (me) and the deer-in-the-headlights, what-did-I-do? look (him). When we finally talked—putting all our cards on the table—we were able to address the underlying issues and find ways to deal with them. It also led to more such talks, solutions and frequent check-ins with each other. I can’t say our marriage is perfect, but things are much better between us now.

Real Mom Susan

Your most valued relationships deserve the time and energy to make things right. Give yourself and your loved one the gift of an open, honest discussion and  you’ll  both feel better.

Today’s author is Susan Wenner Jackson, cofounder of Working Moms Against Guilt. http://www.workingmomsagainstguilt.com/

Smell the Roses: They’re Always There

Many times I figure out what my New Year’s resolution is after the new year starts. That’s what happened this past week.  I woke up Wednesday night thinking, “Stop struggling.  Enjoy the good life you have.”  Don’t get carried away and think my life is perfect.  It isn’t.  Although Ann and I teach  self-care, we are equally challenged to make it part of our daily lives.

The New Year is about how to improve life and ourselves rather than savor what’s already working.  In fact, last week I talked about taking small steps to make change stick which still applies because it’s  challenging to “smell the roses” when facing the “daily grind” as one of my clients puts it.  When did we decide that life had to be difficult and stressful instead of satisfying and joyful?  How often do we hear each other say, “I’m so stressed.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”   It’s the mantra of modern life.

I’m listening to Deepak Chopra‘s Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You. He says that reconnecting with our soul’s inner guidance can make our lives easier.  Well, mine woke me up last week and I’m resolved to spend more time soaking up the sunshine and appreciating my blessings.  My family, friends, comfy home, writing with Ann, work I love , and the wonderful community of women whose lives have touched mine.  Each day is a gift.  Even in the darkest night, the stars shine.

New Year for a New You

There’s always the classic “Top 10” list for resolutions: 1. More time with
family and friends; 2. Fitness; 3. Tame the bulge; 4. Quit smoking; 5. Enjoy life more; 6. Quit drinking; 7. Get out of debt; 8. Learn  something new; 9. Help others; and lastly: 10. Get organized. What seems to be missing from this list? Self-care! Granted some of these “Top 10” touch on the concept of self-care, but what does it really mean to create a “new you” and stick with it all year round? What are you going to do to make sure you break your bad habits and take care of yourself more and really mean it?

Real woman Mollee Bauer of pregnancy.org

Last time I touched on how self-care should be a revolution. I still believe that whole-heartedly. Taking time out of your day to meditate, laugh a bit,  eat right, do for yourself first, even smile with yourself, is crucial to being a productive and happy woman. It’s a new year – a clean slate – let’s fill that slate with powerful and beneficial actions of self-care! Find a tip or two on this site! You won’t be sorry!

At  www.pregnancy.org, we’re in a similar business. We give women the tools to not only empower themselves, to feel safe and secure but also advice on how to take care of themselves, pamper themselves, and make certain they have the tools necessary to meet each daily  challenge.

Today’s guest author is  Mollee Bauer,  Founder & General Manager of www.pregnancy.org.

How to Make the Most of Your New Year’s Resolutions

Everyone starts the New Year’s with the best intentions.  Determined to make changes to improve their lives in significant ways.  And what happens?  Most of us fail miserably.  Instead of aiming for the moon, we need to undertake small, attainable goals.  Like practicing self-care 15 minutes a day (which many have remarked is difficult enough).

Breaking the change into smaller steps can  make it easier to achieve.  For example, if someone wants to lose 50 pounds this year, start with losing 1-2 pounds each week.  To do this, a person has to reduce their daily calorie intake by 500 calories each day or increase their activity to burn an extra 500 calories a day.  Doesn’t this sound less daunting?  By changing how we think about our goals, we can improve our motivation and persistence.

Likewise, it’s important to set our daily attention on what we want to do different.  When we get up in the morning, spend 5 minutes visualizing the desired change and let it be known that “Today I will make this happen.”  Once the intention is set, go about the day normally.  Remember,  life responds to what we put our attention and intention on.

Finally, if we get off track, don’t become self-critical.  Since what we think about expands, this only leads to feeling worse and diminishing motivation and persistence.  Instead, use this as a learning opportunity to re-evaluate what may need to be done and re-calibrate the next step.  Each moment affords  a new choice.  Success is only a step away.

No Time for Exercise? How Moms Are Making It

Today’s Real Mom Author, Becky from CafeMom

As a mom, I know first-hand that time for exercise is one of the hardest aspects of self-care. Between caring for our children, working, and keeping up with family, friends, and the house, moms find it’s close to impossible to find time to stay in shape. I’m often inspired by the moms in CafeMom’s Healthy Weight Loss group, who find unique ways to fit exercise into busy lives. These moms aren’t just sneaking off to the gym; they’re teaching their kids to make exercise part of their lives, too. We have moms doing Zumba in their living rooms with their kids, moms in our Running Moms group taking their kids out for a run in their jogging strollers, and moms using technology to support each other and keep each other motivated.

It’s clear to me that many moms on CafeMom are committed to more than just losing their baby bumps; they’re truly embracing exercise and healthy living because they know that being fit and active will make them better parents. Personally, I jog regularly with my son, take swimming classes with him at a local pool, and chase him on the playground. He’s an extremely active toddler and gives me a better workout than I could get at a gym!

CafeMom has great support groups for moms interested in weight loss or healthy lifestyles. Check out Healthy Moms and Healthy Weight Loss to learn more.
–Becky from CafeMom

Finding Your Happy Place

You just wrapped up your holiday festivities and this years’ “fun” has left you more stressed than ever.  It’s time to find your happy place.

Your happy place is the place you go when you need to rejuvenate.  It can be your bath tub or your favorite chair where you can escape with a good book.  And if your happy place is a beach in Aruba where you know you can’t literally go, escape there in your mind.  The point is you need to get to that happy place and you really should visit daily.  Some experts say taking just 15 minutes a day for YOU can make all the difference in the world in your outlook and your health.  Don’t think you have 15 minutes for you? Well, if you believe it’s simply not possible, you’ll be right. But imagine how sweet it would be if you were wrong on this one!

Think about all the things you consider important in life.  Shouldn’t you be on that list?  Where do you go to escape the stress of daily life? Tell me about it and inspire other moms to find their happy place, too.

Today’s guest author is Desiree Miller, mom of 4, who developed her motherhood expertise into a baby planning business, www.bottlestobritches.com.

As Ann and I said many times during the 21-day self-care challenge, 15 minutes  is a great start toward filling your emotional pitcher and making your  health and well-being a priority.  Go Desiree.