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Yes, You Should Have a Baby Sprinkle

Before I commence, I must fully disclose that I am an immigrant, sufficiently integrated into the American culture to pass for an American as long as I keep my mouth shut. The problem with opening my mouth is that my accent would betray my origins, but you’re not necessarily wrong to question the congruency of what I’d say with the American norms either.

So, what I mean to say, take what you read below with a grain of salt. Who am I to debate American traditions, anyway?

That being said…

I think you should have a baby sprinkle.

Yes You Should Have a Baby Sprinkle

I had a memorable baby shower. My five sisters-in-law organized an amazing afternoon get-together, perfect in all ways – from the theme they chose, to the decor pieces which they mostly hand-made, to the games they designed and facilitated, to the food and music we all enjoyed. It was not those things that made the afternoon unforgettable though, it was their intention and the effort they lovingly put into it that made my heart swell. Hubbyloo’s family were all present (unfortunately, my parents were only able to join us on Skype), and our closest friends, too. It was an afternoon filled with laughter and joy, we were excited to catch up with people dear to our hearts, and were really grateful to see people happy for us and just as anxious to see us a complete family.

It was a day dedicated to the three of us, a day set aside to celebrate the miracle I was tenderly growing inside of me.

We live in the world we live in, and celebrations of any kind tend to be costly affairs for participants. A baby shower seems to be designed as the main tool to gather the necessary items before the baby’s arrival. While I am so grateful for all the gifts we received, which did make the preparations for welcoming Copiloo into the world less painful, what I carry with me to this day, almost two years later, are the feelings I had throughout: the nervousness of entering a house full of people who traveled miles to join in our celebration; the joy seeing Hubbyloo so proud to be an expectant father; the limitless love for a ball of life growing inside of me while we were talking about his existence so far as an extension of my being, and imagining what he’ll be like – will he be lucky to get mommy’s looks and daddy’s smarts?; the love for my sisters-in-law who showed me that our baby and us were worth the effort of matching every little detail in the house to the party theme; being speechless when my mother-in-law gifted us an old blanket made by her mother in 1964; reading notes of well-wishes from people who would have loved to be present but were not able to.

It was a day we were showered with love, we were hugged and kissed and patted on our backs for the wonderful path we were on, we received tidbits of encouragement and advice, and some unnecessary (at the time), yet true warnings, we were honored for being on our way to joining the wonderful(ly exhausted) community of parents. Our unborn son was loved and welcomed by his extended family and friends; there is no doubt he could feel the positive energy, warmth and love surrounding him that afternoon.

Do you remember your baby shower? The good feelings, love and friendship you and your unborn child were surrounded with? There is no reason why your second, third or fourth pregnancy should not be honored the same way. Just because you were pregnant and gave birth once, or twice, or thrice, does not make your current pregnancy less of a miracle. It certainly does not make this pregnancy less of an effort, less strenuous or less exhausting. You are still creating life and that is reason enough to be celebrated. Plus, your second (third, fourth?) kid is not even born yet and you’re already putting him on the path to suffering from the Second Child Syndrome. Allow him to get his share of prenatal love from his family and friends, and allow those close to you to share their excitement and well-wishes with you and your partner.

If your concern is that a baby sprinkle may be in bad taste due to the material aspect of the celebration, make it a point that gifts are not required. I can assure you though that people will bring gifts. Even without a baby sprinkle, people will be sending you gifts. If you do not want to deal with unnecessary items, be diligent about creating and sharing your baby registry with things you do need.

Have you had a baby sprinkle? Would you have a baby sprinkle? How would you feel if you were invited to a baby sprinkle? Thanks for reading. It’s been delicious, right?

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The ONE Tip That Will End Procrastination

I am a professional time-waster. If there were such a profession, I would have made many of those 30-under-30 lists a long time ago. I’m constantly procrastinating, the way only expert procrastinators can. I have so much time on my hands, often I wonder if the clock is not somehow running slow. Just as often, I plan to check its batteries, but then… stuff gets in the way. I’ll do it as soon as I refresh my Facebook feed.  And tidy my desk. And look for that cable that I still haven’t found (I can’t remember what I needed it for, but I am sure it will come in handy one day). And take the measurements for the curtain in the nursery. For the fourth time. Although I don’t have any real intention of going to buy fabric any time soon. Oh, it’s time to pick up the kid from pre-school. I guess I’ll check the batteries tomorrow.

Did you see yourself in this paragraph? No?? Oh… yay for you! You can stop reading then. Read this instead.

The following tip is for those who, just like me, struggle with being focused on what needs to get done, who seem to not be able to start the necessary tasks, who are trying to find time (not seeing the forest for the trees here), who are having troubles becoming motivated enough to get the ball rolling, who have a natural talent for spending the same amount of time reciting all the cons of the project at hand, that would be required to get said project done.

After lots of research, some soul-searching and meditation exercises, and weekly checks paid to the order of my therapist, I was able to identify the one approach that will help to cure your procrastination:

1. Get off your ass and do what needs to be done.

Get off your ass and do what needs to be done.

Now, if this is too big of a concept for you to grasp (it definitely was for me), I will break it down in a few less challenging steps:

1.1. Eliminate time-sucking leeches and distractions from your routine. Do you really need to linger in bed for 15, 20, 30 more minutes after you woke up? No, you don’t really. Get up! Do you really need to refresh your Facebook feed every 10 minutes? How many of those Upworthy videos you watched today truly mattered? Stop complaining and looking for excuses why you shouldn’t do X, Y or Z now. The time you just spent whining about the horrific experience you’ll need to endure to get the work done could have been used to actually get the work done. Keeping in touch with friends is important – but how much of your phone conversation is real talk, and how much is just blabbering away? Put the phone down and get to work.

1.2. Just as I am breaking down this approach to ridding yourself of procrastination, you should break down your project into smaller tasks. Small, easily accomplishable tasks. Say you need to install your husband’s tie rack and hang his wrinkled ties. That sounds like a huge project, right? Well, look at it as a series of seven different projects: 1 – find the damned tie rack (it will be hard to stay focused as you will be exposed to a lot of tempting excuses to stop looking for the damned tie rack, but you will find the damned tie rack); 2 – identify the location where you’d install the tie rack (do not get distracted by the hangers that are facing the wrong way!); 3 – install batteries into the tie rack (no, just because you have the battery box in your hand, does not mean you need to replace the batteries in all the remote controls and computer mice); 4 – gather all the ties lying around the house (just the ties! leave the socks, shoes and random items hiding under the bed for tomorrow); 5 – iron the ties (if you love ironing as much as I do, this will be a crucial point in your journey, here you will have to prove all your might to stay committed to the path you are on and the success of this project); 6 – hang the ties; 7 – email your husband to brag about your accomplishment for the week.

 1.3. Start your day with a to-do list and prioritize your items. Again, be gentle on yourself and break down all your projects into tiny, easily doable tasks. What works for me is to start with the easiest items, those that require the least effort and time, then move on to the bigger, more demanding tasks. That’s because I like to get rid of the noise so I can focus on what is important (BUT, this could also be a form of procrastination disguised in an erroneous prioritization of to-dos), and also I am more about the quantity than quality (I am more satisfied and pleased when I check off four little items off the list than one big to-do). You may be the type who likes to tackle the big elephant first, then moved down to the little guys on your to-do list. Find what works for you, then stick to it.

1.4. Last but not least, identify the time of the day when you are most productive. Obviously, if you are not a morning person, try to schedule your to-dos for later in the day. Decreased productivity because of a poorly aligned internal clock in addition to your established procrastination tendencies – a definite recipe for failure. That is not always doable (I’ve always been a night owl, however it’s been a long time since I was able to spend the night hours doing productive stuff), but strive to find a balance in your life that will support you in being the productive and efficient person you can be.

So… Unless you’re one of those people who finds satisfaction and joy in listening to the troubles of mildly dysfunctional people… since you read this post all the way to here, my guess is that, at one point or another in your life, you have struggled with procrastination, right? Do you have any tips that have helped you easily tackle what needs to be done? Please, share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading. Oh, if you were wondering, I am still at Phase I of the tie rack hanging project. I cannot find the damned thing!

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{ Yoga Meditation } “I Am Enough.”

The words below do not belong to me. I wish they did, but I am not that much in touch with myself (or the Universe for that matter) to be able to form sentences these powerful. Not yet. I am trusting that by being surrounded with like-minded people, beautiful souls that do share my values and aspirations as to where we strive to arrive, I will reach a more elevated sense of who I am, what are the things that allow me to be and what are the things that get in the way of my simply being. Then, my body and mind connected with each other and the Universe, I will understand through my own being that I am enough. When such a revelation occurs, I will allow the thoughts to lay encouragingly on paper and I will share them with you.

Until that day comes, enjoy the beautiful yoga meditation below. If I were you, I would record myself reading it, then either lay on my back in Savasana, or find a comfortable seated pose, close my eyes, and listen as the words penetrate every cell of my body.

Your heart is like a garden.

A Reminder

As you move through this practice, notice the moments that bring forth a challenge; the fear that may arise, the active mind, the inhibition to shine. As they appear, thank them for giving you the opportunity to rise through and beyond. Thank them for the opportunity to make a choice to shine your light in those moments. As they greet you, thank them for your ability to make space for only that which enhances your beautiful light. Noticing how it feels in your body. Let the breath be your guide. Your home. Ujjayi; the victorious breath. Your power center. Your home. Lighting the way towards the sacred space within you.

Bring your palms together at your heart center, close your eyes and draw your chin into your chest, observing the Divine guiding light within you in gratitude.

Setting a collective intention, repeat in your mind after me.

I am enough.

Wherever I am in this very moment; this symphony of everything I am right now; I am perfectly and precisely enough.

In the face of challenges; the fear, the doubt that visit me; I am always enough and exactly where I need to be.

I am enough light.

I am enough love.

I am enough to shine my path as only I can and I am abundant enough that I radiate my golden light onto the world outside of me; because I am. Simply and majestically by acknowledging my light, letting go of what does not serve me and trusting that I am supported by the Universe.

I am enough.

I am enough.

I am enough.

I am enough.

By Jocelyn – Daily Intentions

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Teaching Yoga for the First Time (to Strangers)

The day came and went. I survived it.

Yoga baby

I had been nervous for about two days before the class in which I’d teach yoga for the first time. I would lay in bed at night imagining the worst possible scenarios, I would think about my mouth going dry, my voice shaking, my whole body sweating worse than if I was actually practicing. I would always try to push away the thought the moment would pop up, until the day of. When I had the brilliant idea of recording myself. This last sentence is imbibed in sarcasm. I tried to do my spiel, but I wasn’t able to find my words, on the rehearsal file I sound like a CD that’s been through a couple of rounds in the washing machine.

I said to myself: “It is what it is. It’s really a little too late to do anything about it.” All this talk in my head was happening a couple of hours before teaching yoga for the first time to strangers.

I managed to calm myself down. Even on the mat, waiting for my turn, I managed to keep my cool. (Unlike during the practice run a couple of weeks earlier.) The mantra on a loop in my head was “Either way, I am going to go up there and teach these people those poses. I may be terrible, I may be good, I may not even be judged. So what’s the point of allowing my heart rate to push through the roof?” I turned on my recording device and with confident steps I walked to the front of the class and started teaching.

While doing it, I knew it was bad. Five seconds into teaching and my mouth felt like I had just tried to swallow a spoonful of flour. I could swear I heard my voice breaking and my words mispronounced. There was no doubt I just messed up the right and left sides. Wow! I’m too slow on this sequence! Damn! I rushed them through this sequence, they had to skip an inhale to keep up. Ayayay!

Back on my mat, the little voice in my head said “I did it. And I did it good!” Can one be any more conflicted? If while doing it I was my worst judge, once it was all over, for reasons unknown, I was much more generous with the grades given to myself.

The 40 minutes left of the class after I concluded my part were the longest ever! I was so anxious to receive feedback and so curious to listen to myself.

Feedback time eventually came and it was all positive. Many encouragements to dial back on being uncomfortable talking to the class. Easy to say.

On my drive back home I listened to myself teach my students Tadasana and three sets of Classical Sun Salutations with a breakdown of Cobra pose. Let me tell you, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was. It’s really as if I was hearing a completely different person in my head while taking the class through the key points of alignment and breathing cues.

For your entertainment, below is the audio file. Grab a yoga mat and see if you can follow my instructions. Let me know how I did. :D

Namaste!

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Seven Reasons to Embrace Fall

They say it’s fall. Hard to believe, but indeed the calendar does not lie, we’re well into October now. I’ve only started liking fall over the past few years. Before that, having lived in countries with a four-season climate and a mini-country with one loooooong rainy season interrupted by three sunny summer days (yes, I am talking about the Netherlands), I hated fall. I’m pretty much black or white when it comes to weather: you’re either all clear-skied and hot sun-rayed, or you’re overcast but you make sure there’s snow coming down from those clouds.

Here I am now, California Dreamin’ in a little beach town surrounded by the evergreen palm trees. I find myself missing fall. If you’re struggling with tolerating this confused season, here are a bunch of reasons why you should embrace it and enjoy it.

#1. COLORS

What I miss the most are the colors. Summer is dandy and all, but, compared to autumn, it seems like a black and white production (granted the dual-color scheme is green and blue). Fall on the other hand, is like a ’70s disco color explosion. The beauty of nature, you know… even on its dying bed it takes the time to put on a show for us. The rusty greens, the maroons, the reds, the yellows and all the fiery hues and tones in between. The sweet rustle of leaves as the wind makes its way underneath them. The mesmerizing ripples across a lake that mirrors fleeting moments of a colorful paradise. If you are blessed to live in the middle of nature, or are close enough to pay a visit to a meadow, forest, mountain, enjoy the amazing display of changing colors.

Fall Colors

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Pietz

#2. RAIN

I feel a bit nostalgic reminiscing about those wet evenings when I’d drive down a busy street, hypnotized by the playful reflection of traffic and store lights on the blackened asphalt. Oh, and that peculiar smell of dust after rain (which is actually called petrichor1 – did you know that? Your tid-bit of trivia for today.). Mind you, all this nostalgic depiction is borderline fictional. I remember clearly, as it was yesterday, the dread I would feel on rainy days when I’d have to hop on my rusty bike, ride across a Frankenweenie-colored Amsterdam to get to school or work or to Cantinero for my zouk nights; the curses I’d offer the skies when my freshly blow-dried hair would frizz up the moment I touched the door knob of the front door. Those were the days. I miss ‘em. Nah! Just kiddin’!

Rain at night

Photo Credit: Canadian Bald Guy

#3. UGGS-APPROPRIATE TEMPS

This may sound like false pretense, but I miss that kind of weather that has me open the sweaters closet, and reach for my knee-high boots up on the top shoe rack. (They’re high up there as fine exhibition pieces, in remembrance of my past life.) I am not asking for a full-on three-month long fall, just a day or two when I could get my warm clothing fix. It would also help me to accept the UGGs madness out there, temps in high 60s F, rain or snow are the weather conditions that warrant one to wear wool boots. 80s F, clear sky and sunny, and you’re wearing a bikini top, shorts and wool boots? Dude…

#4. MORE TIME INDOORS, MORE STUFF DONE?

What are you to do on a rainy day once you’re done watching the rain wash your driveway, or flood your neighborhood if that’s what was in the cards for you? It’s time to get cranking on those long-forgotten projects, organize your house, declutter, catch up on your favorite show, read the stack of books on your nightstand. Have some of the friends that you’ve been ignoring over for coffee or a hot mug of red wine.

#5. FALL CUISINE

It’s impossible to miss all the pumpkins, squashes and melons at the market. Pick some up. Puree that butternut squash, sprinkle some nutmeg over it and serve the yummy soup to your family. It’s time to get the baking pans out – pumpkin pies, apple pies, whatever-your-craving pies. Dust the cans and jars and pickle some veggies and concoct some jams and marmalades. Care for some hot cocoa with cinnamon? I thought so…

#6. CHECK OFF LAST RESOLUTIONS OF LAST YEAR

While you’re busy decluttering, try to look for that list you made on January 1. It’s covered in doodles, balloons and fireworks, stars and hearts, and it has “My Resolutions for 2014″ at the top of the page, very likely in all caps and highlighted. If I were to guess, it’s well kept at the bottom of the deepest drawer in your house. Were you intending to be kinder and more loving towards your loved ones? Were you planning to cook regularly for your hard-working partner? Were you excited to start a new course, a new hobby, a new side job? Guess what? You’ve still got a few months to pull that off (and so do I…). Only fall could offer you this second chance to let your productive self shine.

#7. CHRISTMAS IS AROUND THE CORNER

Christmas and a dog

Catzeloo by Gran’ma and Gran’pa’s Christmas tree

I’m skipping Halloween altogether, although it is a fun holiday especially if you’ve got little monsters hiding in your house. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday and I cannot wait for December 1st to come. If it were up to me I’d put the Christmas tree up yesterday. And I’d take it down in March. Luckily, I have Hubbyloo to keep me in check. Two months ’till Christmas. How are we doing on the holiday cards? Have the family pictures been taken? Vacation plans made for December? If it’s a staycation, what will the kids do all those days? Plans to host a dinner or family get-together? What about gifts for family and friends?

Fall… We may have a love-hate relationship with you – can you blame us? – it wouldn’t hurt if we’d start seeing opportunities in all your shortcomings. Think cold, windy, rainy days, as favorable time to focus our energy on completing tasks that summer past got in the way of, also the perfect time to lean back, relax and look forward to the holiday season. Scrapbooking, anyone?

 

 

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrichor []
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Therapist Evaluation Form

You’ve finally made up your mind and are looking for a therapist? Good for you. For many, it takes years and years of pros and cons lists, of going back and forth between “I am a disaster, I need some help” and “I am awesome, look at me rocking my life!”

I wish therapists were like guardian angels, always there by your side, but visible, tangible and responsive. I wish I was born with one in tow. My life may have been much more boring – I mean, all the fun episodes courtesy of my craziness would be erased, but I would probably have made it to farther places had kookiness been kept under control.

Chocolate, Martini, Therapy

Unfortunately I had to come to the land of dreams, the United States of America, to finally bring mental help to the rescue. At least in California, everybody has a dog and a therapist, so it wasn’t long before I became fully socially integrated in this regard. There is and should be no shame in needing and seeking psychological counseling. You may need someone neutral to have a talk to about your marriage, your personal relationships and their effect on you, your personal struggles, your professional struggles. Go and find that person professionally trained to help you out of the rut you’re in.

So, there you are with a dozen sheets of paper in your hands. Names after names of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists your health insurer mailed you. What are you to do? Ini-mini-miny-mo? Pretty much. Unless you have a referral from a family or friend, you will have to go through the displeasing process of trial and error. Even with referrals, if your friend’s counselor was a perfect match for her, it doesn’t mean it will be for you.

Encouraged by my years of experience with testing and evaluating therapists, I put together a mini-list of assessment points for you to consider when grading the service you receive.

1. Is there a nice, smooth flow to the communication between you and your therapist? You do not want a therapist who likes to hear themselves talk. You do not want a therapist you does not talk at all. You are indeed there to do the talking, but make sure they are engaged throughout your ramblings (more often than not, you will be rambling) even if they show you that through mere nodding or “ahum”s. You do not want a therapist who does not talk, and who is okay with you not talking. You are not there to look out the window and count the pigeons landing on the window sill, you are not there to clean the scum under your nails, you are not there to nap. Been there, done that; the therapist told me he was giving me time to become comfortable enough to open up to him. I actually trusted him but five or six sessions later I realized that was crazy and fired him. He was not doing his job. Therapists should be asking questions, probing and digging until you do have things to say; after all, you are there for a reason.

2. Do you feel the communication is guided by the therapist and revolves around issues you deem less relevant, and have a hard time shifting focus? The therapist is there to guide you through the process of processing what you are going through, however you should be the one holding the reins as to which direction you’re headed. My first therapist’s first question each session was, more often than not, “How has your husband been?” Uhhmm… he’s been fine… I’m here to discuss… me…? This girl was having a front-row seat to my reality soap-opera; she was completely engrossed in the intricate plot my marriage had become at that point. I had troubles bringing the attention back to me, and discuss -my- non-relationship related issues. It is easy to lose your focus especially when pulled into a certain direction; don’t forget what you are there for, what your struggles are, and stay in control of the conversation. (Use your judgement: there will be situations when the therapist will need further information in order for them to get the whole picture, you should however be able to see the relevancy of their digression.)

3. Does your therapist take sides? Your therapist’s job is not to play referee, nor judge. Their job is to ask tough questions and guide you towards your own answers. If your therapist ever sounds like this: “Oh, my God!! Did he DO that? Men are a**holes!”, RUN! Yep, I did see this therapist, too. I was working hard on forgiving and forgetting an act of my Hubbyloo’s and she almost made it worse for me.

Make your pick off the list, figure out what your goals and expectations are, and go in there and have fun. Assisted self-discovery is awesome. Make sure your therapist is a fit though. I read this somewhere, they say that when it comes to the effectiveness of the therapy the credentials and techniques of a therapist do not matter as much as the quality of the relationship you have with them. Do not stop looking until you find the therapist that is right for you, the one with whom you feel most comfortable and safe, with whom conversation just flows. Give yourself two or three sessions with a new therapist, and if at the end of your session you feel better than when you went in you may have a winner!