Keeping the Peace, Life, Photography

Appreciating The Now

I can’t wait until this is over! How many times do we all say that every year or maybe every day??? We’re always looking to what could be and should be in our minds instead of being grateful for what is right this second, right now.

We’ve all been there. Maybe it was a job you were less than fond of. Maybe a relationship that went sour. It could have been pain or discomfort you were suffering. Sometimes it’s just a particular situation you were in that was a complete headache. Maybe it was the school year. There are so many things that we’ve all complained about, wished away and have prayed to end.

I’ve been majorly guilty of this one recently, wishing things and even people were different than they actually are. So much of our life is spent letting our thoughts about people or about life sadden or scare us. I’ve let my thoughts rule my head more times than I care to admit. That is basically where my anxiety came from. But peace can’t exist inside if you don’t accept what is and only worry about what could or should be.

I just finished reading Loving What Is a book by Byron Katie that teaches you how to do “The Work”. This basically entails turning your thoughts about things and people around and fixing what’s wrong in you and your thinking. This really helps you to see and accept reality without any judgement or anger, instead of letting fear take over because of how you are thinking about something.

You know how you sometimes read something that is right on time in your life? Thank you to my friend that suggested this book. I definitely believe God puts things and people in our paths and his timing is perfection. This book was exactly what I needed right now. When you’re going through a transition in life, it’s very easy to get scared and let your thoughts of who you should be and what you should be doing consume you instead of appreciating the moment you are in. My life and the people I’m surrounded by changed drastically in the last seven months. I’ve judged those people and myself. I’ve lost loved ones, changed jobs, questioned my path and purpose, and I’ve been stuck in fear, too afraid to move forward. The funny thing is that I’ve told myself many times over the years (without even realizing it) that fear will propel me into action. I convinced myself that if I wasn’t stressed or upset about something, I wouldn’t take action. I never realized that being at peace with what is would motivate me so much and liberate me at the same time. Peace is actually a catalyst, not stress! Who knew?
As Byron Katie says in her book “The truth sets us free, and freedom acts.” In embracing my reality I gave myself the confidence and the peace to take action.

When you come to the realization that it is what it is and not what you thought it was, it changes your perspective completely about everything. I’m still learning, but I hope to start applying this with my kids. Regularly I tell them they should clean up their room. What parent doesn’t?!?! Yes, they should learn that responsibility, but is telling them twenty times a day making them want to keep it clean or am I really telling them to do it because that’s what I like to do and what I want to see? I’m better off doing what I like to do and maybe they will see my example and pick up on it. Now I’m not saying our kids should be lazy and not have to do chores. On the contrary, I think it’s so important. But it’s also important that they desire to do better and be better on their own, without me hounding and forcing them. The reality is they like cleaning up, but they don’t love it. That’s their truth and they are perfectly at peace with that. Mine is that I love to organize and clean (sad but true). Living in our truth instead of our thoughts is freeing and when we’re free, we’re at peace.

If we are at peace within ourselves, we can help bring peace to others and our world. Sounds like a stretch probably, but that’s where it starts. It’s the power of one person and all it takes is to live in what is and not in your thoughts of what is. So much fear breeds in our thoughts and causes us to be angry, react negatively, and judge. We see it in our world today. There are so many that teach fear and use it to try and hurt others. But what we tell ourselves and create in our minds is doing damage too. We can all be good examples of and teachers of peace if we make peace with ourselves, make peace with our thoughts, and live inside that peace.

I’m in “The Work” now and I’m making progress. I’m living in the now and working with what is, without anger or judgement. I’m trying to appreciate and be at peace with where I am now whether that’s on my computer writing, on the phone making work calls, questioning my next path or sunning on the beach. Peace is a process, but leaning more toward it has motivated me to make some major changes, serve my purpose, and follow my dreams. Now is what really is and all we have. We must always be grateful for the season we’re in because it is all so temporary. This season is actually taking me on an exciting path and I can’t wait to see where it leads!

I’m thankful for this time and where I am in my life. Yesterday the school year ended and I could have easily started counting the days until school starts again (any mom that has lost their sanity between school years knows exactly what I mean). Instead, I’m soaking in my now with my family and I hope it’s the longest summer of my life! I’m opening myself up to opportunities to learn and grow. Doing the work everyday is choosing peace and I’m all for that. So right now…right now I’m going to go get started on an amazing summer with my kiddos and appreciate that. I hope you’ll appreciate your now too, wherever you’re at.

Keeping the Peace, Life, Photography

How a Decade of Mommying Made Me a Better Me

This year my first born turns ten years old! It’s hard to believe I’ve been a mom for that long now. Kids teach us a lot about themselves and a lot about parenting. Sometimes the lessons are about how parenting is the toughest role in the world, but the majority of the time they are about how rewarding it can be. One of the more surprising things being a mom of two kids has taught me is how to be a better me. Granted there is still plenty of room for growth. It’s definitely a sort of continuing education that never ends. But being a mom for almost 10 years, while challenging at times, has truly made me a better person in so many ways.

First and foremost, I definitely have way more patience. It may not seem like it some days, especially when I’ve had to raise my voice after repeating an instruction for the 10th time. But hey, that’s an improvement. I would have cracked after the third request in my early mommy days. Progress, right?

I’ve learned how to live more in the present and be more intentional with my time. Sometimes you just have to stop whatever you are doing and spend time with your littles while they are still little and still want to spend time with you. When you understand our time is short here, you don’t want to waste a moment.

Being a mom has made me so much more peaceful. Sure it has also driven me completely nuts at times and has brought my anxiety to a whole new level, but it’s because of the challenges we face as parents, and my two extraordinary children that I have found a better way to manage my stress and anxiety. Now I can live more in peace than in chaos.

My children have also taught me how beautiful I am as a person, inside and out. Sure I have my flaws and weaknesses, as we all do. In the past I would focus on those more instead of looking in the mirror and seeing a beautiful, unique child of God. When you realize you’ve helped to create and have given birth to two beautiful children by God’s grace, then you know that same love and grace is what made you. Watching your heart walking outside of your chest on a daily basis forces you to realize your own beauty and the love that created it. I know my kids are watching how I talk about myself. So I am as kind as I can be to me, so that when they realize the beauty they possess they will also be kind to themselves and others.

I never knew how tough I was until I became a mom. I seriously feel like Wonder Woman on some days when I think of how resilient I have been and what I’ve been able to accomplish. I think about the challenges we’ve faced and how I have become stronger because of them and I haven’t let them break me. Mommyhood definitely exercises all your muscles and helps you to grow a pretty thick skin. It can also turn a once doormat girl into quite the assertive lady.

Over these years of being a mom, I’ve also discovered a lot of the little, less important details about myself. For instance, I love to cook for my family and wish I could do more of it. I’m an avid reader when I can find the time. When the kids are reading, I have to pick up my book too. I really enjoy having privacy at times and just being with myself (I’m not saying I get this often, but I never knew how precious it would become). I like to play with home decor and design. I’ve become pretty darn crafty. I love both coffee and wine equally. I’m obsessed with photography. Peonies are my favorite flowers. I am passionate about writing. I’m pretty particular about where things go around the house (that’s all I will say about that). I have a pretty positive outlook on life.

I’ve also learned that I need to keep working on being more flexible, more uplifting, more grateful, even more patient, even more positive, more loving, and even more faithful. That’s in no particular order, but they are all equally important because I always need to be the example to these two little blessings that have taught me a lot of what I know.

I know I am blessed with a wonderful husband & two great kids that were put in my love and protection. I pray every day in thanks for that.

I know I can bend without breaking.

I know how to be a bucket filler and not a bucket dipper.

I know that we have so much to be grateful for, even the smallest things we someties take for granted.

I know that saying “hurry up” doesn’t need to be in my vocabulary.

I know I can get more from being sweet than being sour.

I know a positive mindset is key in every struggle.

I know there are never enough hugs, kisses and I love yous.

I know that I’m never alone, no matter the challenge.

But the most important things I have learned from my kids over these many years are that I have a purpose in this world. Part of what I was called to do is be a mom to these two gems. And by being a mom, I have discovered many other ways I am here to serve. I am called to support our autism community. I am called to share God’s love and be a beam of light to others. I am here to share our story in a way that it may help others. I am here to advocate for and educate on autism, anxiety, peace, safe and healthy self-care, and above all I’m here to love.

Because loving these little people unconditionally for a decade really gives you a small idea of how much we are each loved by our creator and our own parents. It has taught me that love conquers all and that we are here for one main love and be loved. I hope that I can teach these two beautiful souls about this part of their purpose so they can be even better adults some day too.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who continue to learn and grow along with their kids and who live a purpose full life every single day!

Much Love,
Darlene xo

Special thanks to Courtney Studios for capturing this wonderful moment between my kiddos and me. The best gift for a mom is always a piece of art centered around her family and Courtney always nails it!

Beauty, Keeping the Peace, Life, Photography, Shop

13 Ways Moms Can Retreat To Refresh

Ever feel like you just want to hit the refresh button on your life? I know sometimes things go awry and you just want a do-over. Mondays can be like that (especially coming off of spring break). Some weeks it can feel like you need a refresher every single day!

Retreating in recent years hasn’t always felt refreshing. It felt more like I was trying to escape my reality or find peace anywhere I could, since I could not find it here. I was feeling stressed all the time and needing a daily refresher that I thought I could only get from being away from home. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking things are better and more peaceful in a different place, in different shoes, and outside of our comfort zone. But the truth is the only place we can find peace is inside ourselves, no matter the location.

We all need to refresh sometimes and there’s nothing like getting away for a little bit and just decompressing. I don’t think anything can compare to a vacation away and out of your life’s little picture. It’s even better when it’s a getaway with no schedule, no specific plans, and no preconceived notions of what it will be like. We just came back from a week like that at the beach and I dare say it was practically perfect!

Most of us can likely get away for a day or two at least, even if it’s in our own backyard. But it’s not always affordable or practical for everyone. As moms, we are busy taking care of everyone else and rarely put ourselves first. We are in major need of regular breaks and we wait for the first opportunity we get as a family to escape instead of taking some time alone. But there are things we can do to retreat to refresh without breaking the bank or even leaving home. Here are 13 things that I enjoy when I need to take a break and get some me time:

1. Read a book. Escaping into a story can take your mind to a different place and away from whatever personal things might be weighing on it. Wild is the emotional journey of Cheryl Strayed, but also quite the adventure if you’re up for one.

2. Grab your favorite colored pencils, crayons or markers and draw or color. It’s very relaxing and really helps you focus on something else.

3. Light a candle and put on some jazz or classical music. Guaranteed to put you in a mellow mood. The Pure Candle is a staple at our house.

4. Run a diffuser with your favorite essential oils. Lavender and citrus are a couple of my favorite ones for relaxation and for a happy mood.

5. If you don’t already know how, learn to crochet or knit. It’s a very relaxing pastime. Don’t worry about how long it takes to complete the project. Just get to needles moving.

6. Draw a bath and soak in it. I love to use a great scrub to soften up my skin while I’m soaking. This sugar body scrub in Lemongrass from Beautycounter is by far my favorite. Plus it safe and free of any toxins and void of any of the 1500 plus ingredients, most of which have been banned in the US and EU. Make sure to have a glass of your favorite vino on hand. Peace of mind and wine…now that’s relaxing!

7. Make a photo book. If you’re into traditional scrapbooking, by all means, but you can get a lot of enjoyment from doing it digitally. Forever has a great software you can use to design beautiful books and store photos online. Going through the memories will take you to a place of peace and getting them off your phone or computer will be an extra relief.

8. Write a letter or journal. Snail mail and writing are not a lost art and getting your feelings down on paper is very liberating. Keeping a gratitude journal can also help to let go of stress and worries.

9. Give yourself a mini spa day. Do your nails, pamper your skin, and do a special treatment for your hair. Even doing a face mask a couple times a week and misting can relax and reinvigorate. Try this brightening mask, oil, and mist from Beautycounter, just in time for summer!

10. Practice mindfulness and meditation. It can really help you to detach from distractions and helps you to concentrate on being nothing more than still, you and your breathing. There are some great apps like Headspace that I love that will walk you through it. A positive mindset is always peaceful and the mind needs vacations too.

11. Get outdoors and take a walk in the park or take a hike to explore nature. Being outside in the fresh air can definitely give you peace and perspective.

12. Take at least 10 minutes a day to practice yoga. You don’t have to worry about doing all the harder poses that require a little more experience or signing up for Bikram. A few stretches and the basic poses are all you need to open up your breathing, elongate the body, and relax the tension. If you are a Peloton rider like me, try one of the Beyond the Ride Yoga Classes. They’re awesome and you don’t have to be a yogi to do them.

13. Get off of social media. Sure the whole world is on there these days, but disconnecting from the constant feeds and information overload can give you a much needed retreat from the busyness of the world. Even doing it for just a few days can help. You won’t miss anything. The only thing that you will be passing up is a little less chaos in your life.

There are a lot of ways to get yourself a little break without leaving town. Just make sure you take the time to be alone and feed your soul. Because we all need to hit that refresh button…and often.

Darlene xo