Tag Archives: Life Changes

Reflections from a New Mom

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As a prenatal yoga teacher and birth doula (in training), recently I have been surrounded by the wisdom and joy of mothers. In honor of Mother’s Day, Mandala Reflections is happy to share one mom’s perspective on what it’s like being a mother and readjusting to life around a baby. Like many people who frequent Mandala Reflections, Amy is a person who lives life fully and holistically. As a school counselor, photographer, yogini, foodie, and garden enthusiast, Amy has many topics she could write about, but this time she wanted to talk about moms and motherhood. For more of Amy’s writing, do check out her blog, A Little September Love.

Happy Mother’s Day! This day has always held a special and bittersweet place in my heart. It not only reminds me of the mom that I miss every day, but it also reminds me of how truly blessed I am to have had lots of “mamas” in my life. Being pregnant the past year has made me especially grateful for the presence of these fabulous examples of mothers. As I continue to embark upon my own adventure as Finn’s mom, I am reminded daily of all the wisdom and love these ladies have shared with me!

It’s funny for me to think back to last Mother’s day…oh I so remember it. I was just coming to grips with the biggest surprise of my life; I was going to be a mom. We had breakfast at the Good Day Café, and I was desperately trying to conceal my morning sickness as I choked down some oatmeal (their fabulous eggs Benedict just wasn’t going to work that morning). I hid my Sea-bands and brushed off the “when are you going to put a car seat in the back of that thing?” comment, referring to the fact that we just traded our Jeep in for a shiny new station wagon. Little did Mamasa know that she was about to become a grandma.

I’d be lying if I said that I was thrilled when I found out about Finn. Thrilled is not the exact word I would use, more like shocked. And after taking 5 (yep count them) pregnancy tests, I shed some tears and grieved that my fabulous, newlywed life was about to totally change. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted to be a mom, however I thought that I would maybe be ready in like 5 years…oops. Apparently my husband, Barrett and I need a little refresher course in sex-ed. (But that’s another story.) So slowly, and I mean slowly–I warmed up to the idea of my soon-to-be motherhood, and by about mid-October, I was finally feeling excitement about my pending arrival. Finn was set to make his debut on Christmas day, and he sure did.

Life has been a whirlwind since then. I’m desperately trying to figure out balance and realigning my priorities. You see, having a baby changes everything…literally EVERYTHING! Finn’s presence has been a welcome kick in the ass, forcing me to really figure out what I want to do with my life. Figuring life out is an ongoing dialogue in my head, and as I continually explain to my sweet and thankfully, extremely understanding husband, the ideas just keep coming. I want to be a mama, a school counselor, a swim coach, a yoga teacher, a writer, a blogger, a photographer and in the meantime, I’d love to conquer the constant flow of laundry and actually finish a book that I start. Having a baby has continued to push my creative button and as much as I resist and try to suppress it in an effort to be practical, my urge to be creative is now stronger than ever! I believe this urge has something to do with realigning priorities and wanting to make sure that the time I spend away from Finn is spent on something that I’m extremely passionate about. So, where does that lead? Well, for now, I decided I am going to try to master the manual settings of my SLR camera this summer and take a few photography classes. I also hope to make a commitment to write a daily blog post–come and visit if you’d like. So at least for this moment, this is the path that life has me on. It is incredible to witness the changes that have happened within me and with my life over the past year, and yet it has been just as wonderful to see how I have stayed the same. But most of all, on this Mother’s Day, I am excited to say I am embracing my sweet surprise and welcoming the holiday celebration with joy and gratitude.

Amy, Finn, and Barrett

In closing I must say thank you, to Lisa for being the bravest step-mom I’ve ever known, to Nana for having a daughter named my mom, to all of my aunties, you have loved me like your own daughter, and to my mama friends, thank you for reminding me that even if we’re moms and life is a little different now we are still so much the same. Also, to Netty, you are the best doctor ever and an even better mom. And to the future mom’s in my life, what a wild and wonderful ride you’re in for some day, and most importantly I want to thank my angel of a mom, for teaching me everything in life that’s important. I hope that I’m making you proud doing what you did so well, loving my sweet baby while cramming 10 pounds of life into a 5 pound bag. My heart is so full this Mother’s Day!

Quick Tips to Improve Your Urinary Tract Health

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Did you know that the urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common type of infection in the body? Annually, approximately 8.1 million people visit the hospital for a UTI. Because of the anatomy of the body, women are more prone to developing these infections– their lifetime risk of experiencing a UTI is over 50%. While men can and certainly do suffer from UTIs, they are less common.

Because a UTI is an infection, part of prevention and management involves supporting the body’s immune system. While proper hygiene is part of the equation to urinary tract health, below are some quick tips on how diet and lifestyle changes can help fight off infection as well as support everyone’s urinary tract health.

Diet:

Watch water intake. Dehydration concentrates the urine and increases the chances of infection. Drink enough water each day to help remove bacteria from your bladder. If you do not like water, eat foods that have high water content, such as: leafy greens, melon, broccoli, carrots, yogurt, apples, grapefruits, celery, and tomatoes. For those suffering from kidney failure, as you know, you must be careful not to ingest too much water. Connect with your health care provider to determine the amount that’s best for you.

Eat blueberries, lingonberries, and cranberries. Blueberries, lingonberries, and cranberries contain antioxidants that have properties that prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Although scientists are having trouble finding consistent results, cranberries and cranberry juice are still a popular natural remedy for urinary tract prevention and treatment. So if you do not enjoy drinking water, try out some pure cranberry juice. It is tart, so feel free to use a natural sweetener to help with the taste.

Incorporate garlic into your cooking. Garlic helps boost the immune system and helps fight off infection (and vampires).

Avoid caffeine, if not, drink more water. Because caffeine is a diuretic, it promotes fluid loss, makes urine more concentrated, and increases the chance of infection.

Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol also dehydrates and reduces the function of the immune system. If you are partaking in alcoholic festivities, make sure to drink extra water.

Limit refined sugar and flour. Refined sugar and flour are hard to avoid in the modern diet, but they are responsible for the rise of degenerative disease and they suppress immune function.

Take a probiotic. A growing body of research finds that probiotics support the immune system as well as genital and urinary tract health. If you suffer from recurring UTIs a probiotic may be a good supplement for you.

Lifestyle: 

– Don’t hold it. When you need to go, go. The longer you hold urine in, the more bacteria will grow and impact your urinary tract and bladder.

Exercise. Exercise boosts your immune system, helps reduce stress and improves sleep, all of which benefit your general health.

Stop smoking. Smoking irritates the bladder and is connected to bladder cancer. What are you waiting for? Just quit.

For general information on urinary tract health and to read more about symptoms of a UTI, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website. For a more comprehensive list of preventative lifestyle measures and resources, check out the University of Maryland’s website.

The Obligatory New Year’s Resolution Post

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Despite my resistance now for a few days, a proper health and wellness blog cannot go without mentioning New Year’s Day and the birth of countless resolutions. A handful of these promises will be life-changing, while the rest will soon be forgotten as people fall back into living their familiar stories. This year marks another year I hope to wind up in the handful. I say, why not?

Truthfully, I used to think New Year’s was kind of a joke. It kind of is when you look at all of the failed attempts at resolutions. And for me, it really was just another day in another year of my life. Now, as I feel more inclined to live life fully each day and to live according to the seasons of the calendar year, I realize the powerful symbol the New Year brings to my consciousness, when I pay attention. The day ritualizes new beginnings in my life, and I get inspired by it. I hear other people embarking on their own journeys because of the New Year, and it makes me smile.

What my New Year’s ritual looks like is me sitting down in quiet reflection, jotting down thoughts about life and the world, but I also use this time to empty out. After I get all of the words on paper, I go through and think deeply about what I really want to accomplish. While my list of things I want to do, do, do, seems never-ending, I wonder about the bare necessities. I strip away my desires to the most necessary and truthful dreams I carry with me. I recognize that before I can move forward in making my dreams a reality, I must be honest and shed the parts of my life that no longer work. I let go of some of those ambitions (okay most), and I decipher which dreams are mine and which are my ego’s. It’s not always easy to tell, but I try to figure it out anyway.

I then practice letting go of even the dreams that I think are mine, and I practice focusing on clearing my mind. I repeat this process as often as necessary, and this reflection and discernment goes on for the rest of the year,  because circumstances change, the world changes and I change accordingly. I build and practice faith and “trust the process” as I let go.

To bring you outside of my whimsical, New Year’s reflection and back to reality, here is the succinct takeaway from my thoughts on New Year’s: Instead of viewing New Year’s as a time to add more to life, why not view it as a time to really simplify life? Let go of old habits, relationships, experiences and make room for new. You will find that learning to accept accompanies this letting go process, and I don’t know about you, but I think it feels really good to accept yourself and your life and strip away the non-essentials. You may just find joy at the bottom of your catch-all-drawer you’ve been meaning to clean.

Only 5 days into the New Year and letting go has already taken many shapes and forms that have made me feel great. With a new meal plan routine, I let go of foods that do not nourish me and that harm the environment. In addition to the health benefits, as a secondary result, this act of letting go actually now produces a financial plus (saving money) and an emotional benefit (I am cooking more and sharing meals with family, which makes me happy!)  Just today, I let go of 4 bags of old clothes that no longer fit me (you know those ones you keep just in case, well, I moved on). So far, letting go has been a fairly easy resolution for me. So far. I know it won’t always be that way, but I hope I can be open to the experience when it arises.

I also hope that you take a moment to honor the New Year and the surprises and teachings it may bring to your life. If you haven’t already, Mandala Reflections challenges you to really sit with yourself and think about your life. Maybe do art, write, practice yoga, dance, have a beer or do whatever inspires you to tap into your unconscious. Rediscover old dreams. Ask yourself where you feel well and where you feel unwell. Go to the discomfort. Ask yourself what you want to change about that uncomfortable place and most important, be honest. Recognize and discern if you are actually ready and willing to change. If you are not ready to change or you are a superstar, you won’t feel the urge to make a resolution, and that’s okay. Just listen and you will know what to do. Give yourself the chance to practice self-awareness in the New Year, and you will make the best decisions you can.