To the Stay At Home Mom, Find Your Passion

To the Stay At Home Mom, Find Your Passion

A few days ago, I  started thinking about other stay-at-home moms such as myself and the internal battles we all fight each day. So, I wanted to let you know my side of it all. As a stay-at-home mom I would have to admit sometimes staying home is not enough to make me feel fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love staying home and caring for my little ones. Whether you have just begun having kids or have a large family like mine, the reality is that motherhood is challenging. Parenthood, I’d say is the toughest job, but also the most rewarding – there is nothing in the world like it. So, if you’ve had a good cry in your bathroom or in your bedroom at the end of a tough day, I’m here to tell you, it’s OK! We’ve all been there mom! This full-time, no vacations, no sick days, no days off title can quickly get you feeling blue and anxious. We all have our ups and downs. As difficult as a mother’s job is, let alone a stay-at-home mom or a mom working from home, we all have the same struggles. How to balance it all? How to stay sane? How to keep it all together while remembering yourself? And at the end of the day comes the internal struggle, did I do a good enough job with the kids today, did I get enough work done today?

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As someone whom once upon a time worked in the corporate world in the Downtown Miami area, since leaving have felt the need of doing something for me – for myself. Yes, I’m a mom, but first and foremost I am a woman, that once had interests and hobbies. Whether you loved sewing, painting, writing, exercising, they were your hobbies to do. These thoughts come from a woman whom has somehow lost herself in her role as a mom and wife. Hence this blog I began a short time ago. While I’m still feeling like a little fish in a big pond with this, I couldn’t be more excited about this new endeavor. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with blogging, I just knew I wanted to write. I will tell you this, there’s a lot more work that goes into this than you may think. The behind the scenes is nothing short of a pretty mess. I have 6 littles, so most of my writing is done after bath time or bedtime. Just picture little feet running around, yelling behind you as you try to gather your thoughts! Difficult but possible – definitely possible!

Don’t get frightened, join the hustle that is working from home because your kids are still your number one priority. So, if you are trying to make it happen with a baby on your hip or trying to build an empire during your kids nap time, I’m with you, I get it! But, keep doing it, do what you need to do to get things DONE, to make things HAPPEN, get that phone call in the bathroom or closet, because lets be honest – it’s the only place we can talk with ZERO interruptions or when you’re praying to baby Jesus the U.P.S man doesn’t knock while you’re in the middle of something important. Not to mention trying to let everyone know that working from home is real WORK – maybe harder and no, you’re not flexible and no it’s not easy, not to mention trying to squeeze in some work while the kids are at home on Spring break, JESUS, yes, I know, I can relate.

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Nonetheless, find your passion mom, find what sparks joy in your heart, your interest, just find it! It’ll be hard work, not to mention you’ll be sleep deprived for a little while, but it’ll be worth it! You’ll find yourself again after having babies and it will get you so excited about life again. And know, hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, it’s not in vain. I would consider myself artistic and since creating this outlet, it has allowed me to express myself through writing – and as my psychologist put it so well, writing is free therapy! She and I are so amazed of how I’ve decided to go down this path – shocked is more like it, knowing how reserved and private I am when it comes to my life. However, this outlet has also allowed me to not only speak about my condition – which by the way 1 in 1,000 people have it! Insert shocked emoji here. But also spread awareness and allow myself to feel free to be honest and raw. I am so grateful to have finally taken the plunge on this after being on the fence for so many years. Yes, years! It’s slowly given me an opportunity to find myself again and go after dreams I thought weren’t possible. I’ve connected with companies I thought would never notice lil’ ole’ me and I have started to put my passion for art and design to use by creating merchandise. I’m working on getting Chiari Awareness and motherhood merchandise out there. I’m excited to share it all with you soon!

Finally, know it’s not cliché, you can really achieve anything you want, the only one holding you back, is you.

To every mom, the stay-at-home, the working stay-at-home, don’t give up – as the saying goes, “the days are long but the years are short,” know our little ones won’t be little for long. So, don’t be afraid to put yourself first every now and then – because when mom is happy, babies are happy.

Happy day friends.

-Ana

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Photo: Sebastien Gabriel

Easter Basket Favorites

Easter Basket Favorites

With Easter around the corner it can only mean Easter basket preparations are in full gear. We have begun preparing for our families Easter Egg Hunt where we include candy and a few small things such as small cars. It’s done Sunday afternoon, the day after we attend church and a day our little ones look forward to each year.

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So, in the spirit of this upcoming Easter, I wanted to share a few amazing finds!

1 –  2 – 

3  –     4  –  

5  –        6  –  

  7  –    8  –

9  –

 1 – Rose Gold Basket   2 – Gray Bunny

3 – Guess How Much I Love You Book

4 – Bunny Baby Girl Shoes

5 –  Bunny Toddler Girl Shoes 

6 –  Carrot Baby Rattle

7 – Glitter Headband

8 – Kids Bunny Thermos 

9 – Peter Rabbit Kids Plate

How amazing is this Rose Gold Basket ?!  Keep in mind, these will not be the one used for the Easter Egg Hunt – they use cartoon baskets we have recycled and re-use each year. As I prepare the baskets, I try to get things the kids not only need but will also enjoy receiving. You can also include things like pacifiers, hair bows for the girls, bubbles for the boys, Easter themed stickers and crayons – because you can never have enough of those, place some Easter Grass at the bottom of the basket and you’re done!

Happy Weekend!

-Ana

Chiari 1 Malformation and Mental Illness

Chiari 1 Malformation and Mental Illness

While many of doctors that claim to have experience in Arnold Chiari Malformation would still say, Chiari is more “in your head” than anything else or “Chiari doesn’t cause symptoms” –  no further treatments need to be done, I disagree. I still like to describe Chiari as an invisible illness because I look so normal to the person in front of me but even as it goes unseen, it doesn’t mean that the symptoms and pain are psychological. If your current doctor continues to tell you that, “you are OK,” do not hesitate in seeking a second opinion and starting from scratch, find a doctor that does have experience with ACM. I got a second, third and a forth until finally in my search for new doctors, it led me to a great neurosurgeon in my area. Although, I haven’t found any research linking Arnold Chiari Malformation and mental illness, my experience with the disorder has led me to believe that self advocacy and self care is essential. The need to mentally help yourself, is important. I realize that even after having had two surgeries due to Chiari 1 Malformation and Syringomyelia, the mental challenges that come after going through such a traumatic experience is one worth talking about.

Can you remember the day when men dressed in white coats – surgeons, came to your hospital bed side to inform you of your test results, followed by the procedures that you will soon have to endure? Because even after having Chiari decompression and Syringomyelia laminectomy, know that none of these surgeries are a cure, these surgeries are needed just to prevent permanent nerve damage. Also, these surgeries are not a guarantee that they will help alleviate any of the current symptoms. So, whether mental illness has a place in your life, in form of depression, anxiety, social anxiety, baby blues, postpartum depression, autism, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, substance abuse disorder, please know that you are not alone. Also, I encourage you to find your voice and find the courage to get help, professional help. Because like many things, mental illness has no one face, it does not discriminate and it can happen to anyone.

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So, if we’re going to go down this honesty path and I remain true to myself, besides you knowing these tidbits about me, know that aside from being a brain surgery survivor, I have been dealing with depression, social anxiety and agoraphobia since my decompression surgery. Which according to the Webster’s dictionary, agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, making it difficult for the person to leave their house. Please do not assume that I am cooped up in my home. It just means that it takes me a lot longer to mentally prepare myself to get out of my home and do things the “ordinary” person does so naturally. They include things like attend doctors appointments or go for a quick trip to the store. It can take days to mentally prepare myself to leave my house for a doctors appointment – at times at the end even canceling. These tasks are challenging for me, perhaps you are dealing with a different mental illness.

If you’re asking and wondering how I found all this out. Well, the turning point for me came in form of  a routine neurological visit that led my doctor to suggest I see a psychologist. Of course coming from a family where psychologists were ever mentioned, I immediately got defensive and declined. When the doctor – bless his heart, asked why, I quickly became defensive and said, I am not crazy. He then replied, “I am not crazy either and I see one, because after a 20 year marriage that came to an end, seeing a psychologist was a way I was able to cope.” This made me feel one, not crazy and two, open to the idea of seeing a psychologist. And as 2017, am now seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist, both of which work hand in hand to get me from feeling ill to feeling well. This is something hard to admit because society has placed a negative stigma towards psychology and mental health. It’s something that isn’t spoken about, it’s frowned upon and shamed. The last time I read on someone advocating on mental health was coming upon an article from singer, Demi Lovato. I think being silent on metal illness is so much worse than the topic itself. People build things up inside because they’re afraid, afraid of being embarrassed, humiliated, misunderstood or feeling the wrath that it would potentially bring. I want to embrace not only my new body that has produced six babies to which I proudly wear six scars. But also the scars left behind by Chiari. However, learning how to embrace and accept my new life after my Chiari 1 Malformation diagnosis has been challenging but also life changing. Chiari isn’t for the faint of heart. As part of my Chiari journey I want to feel free to find my voice and speak on how I work daily on my mental wellness. If you’re working on yours, never give up and if you haven’t started, know it’s never too late to start. I’m convinced this disorder is part of my life but definitely not who I am. Let me be the first to acknowledge that God continues to play a huge part in my journey to recovery – maybe not in the most ideal way because I am so flawed! My religion and spiritual beliefs have helped me in my recovery – I am Catholic. Spirituality helps in recovering from things like stress to mental illness. However, I do also believe that aside from my religion, medical help in the form of professional counseling and medicines also help. Mental illness is by no means anything to be ashamed of, seeking help in knowing how to manage it in the best way possible is important for your well being. The main goal is to lead a peaceful, meaningful life and to continue on the road to recovery, that is both spiritual and mental.

Also, know that it’s OK, it’ll all be OK, do not compare yourself to others, to other moms, dads, friends or co-workers, because to others we are either too much or not enough. And that’s OK too.

Happy day friends.

-Ana

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Photo: Pablo Gentile