Moving Past Mommy Guilt

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

Last Sunday, Chris (my husband) and I had a cookout at our place. My mama wanted Nailah to spend the night with her and my daddy two nights in a row; however, I was a little hesitant. She’s spent the night with them a few times, but never more than one night. Anyway, Chris insisted that I let her stay because he said I needed a break. Which was true (don’t tell him lol).

Other than the two days a week she spends with her grandparents, Nailah’s pretty much with me 24/7. So yes, there are times I need a break because 1. It can be hard to get work done with her at home (at least when she’s awake); and 2. I don’t get a lot of sleep some nights because I’m still breastfeeding (working on weaning — if you have tips, let me know).

Even though I know I can use a break and I’m happy when I actually get one, I sometimes struggle with feeling guilty about needing/wanting that time. But what I’ve realized is that if I don’t give myself a break when I need to and if I don’t take time for myself, I can’t be the best mother because I’ll feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and stressed.

If you’re a fellow mama, I encourage you to take breaks when needed. Not only will they help you be a better mother, you’ll be more effective in the other areas of your life and you’ll feel more calm, fulfilled, and joyful.

Is it hard for you to take a breather from your kid(s), or do you take breaks? Let me know by leaving a comment.

#CalmTip: June 30, 2015

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

We often cause stress in our own lives by trying to make things how we think they should be instead of how they are. For the most part, you can’t control outside circumstances — you can only control you. You can’t control how much traffic there is or if there’s a long line at the grocery store, so don’t allow it to stress you out. Instead, live in the moment, and go with the flow.

10 Quotes to Remind You to Be More Mindful

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Mindfulness is the intentional yet gentle effort to be present with your experience in a nonjudgmental way. It means living in the moment and being right here, right now with a conscious, purposeful awareness of the present moment.

You’re not dwelling in the past nor focused on the future unless you’re doing so with mindful intention. However your experience is (or however you perceive it to be), you don’t judge it. Or, if you do judge it, you simply observe your thoughts with a friendly curiosity then release them.

Why be mindful?

  • Mindfulness reduces over-thinking, which causes stress, anxiety, and agitation and can lead to depression.
  • It lessens stress.
  • It promotes mental health.
  • Mindfulness helps with emotional reactivity. For example, it helps you not to lose your temper or speak before thinking.

Now that you know why you should begin living in the moment, here are a few quotes to inspire you to be more mindful in your daily life:

  1. “Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t). ~ James Baraz
  2. “Today, I choose awareness. I choose to be aware of the beauty of life and living. I choose to be aware of the simple pleasures in life. I choose awareness of joy, awareness of peace, and awareness of love.” – Iyanla Vanzant
  3. “The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead. – Majorie Pay Hinckley
  4. “Just slow down. Slow down your speech. Slow down your breathing. Slow down your walking. Slow down your eating. And let this slower, steadier pace perfume your mind. Just slow down…” – Doko
  5. “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously, they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people, to realize that your life is only ever now.” – Eckhart Tolle
  6. “You’re worried about how you’re going to feel at the end of your life? What about right now? Live. Right this minute. That’s where the joy is at.”  – Abigal Thomas
  7. “Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
  8. “Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you’re going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.” – Stephen Richards
  9. “Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom. You don’t have to be swept away by your feeling. You can respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.” – Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
  10. “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

How will you make mindfulness and living in the moment a priority in your life?

#CalmTip: June 23, 2015

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Journaling is a great way to decompress and get out of your head. Have trouble journaling? Write about how you feel and try to figure out why. Don’t worry about your grammar or spelling; just let it flow. Then, write about how you want to feel and what you can do to start feeling that way.

My Nighttime Routine

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

 

Last week, I wrote about creating a routine for when you get up in the morning. This week, I want to talk about how to create a routine before you go to bed.

Now, I have to admit, this is something I still struggle with. I think it’s because I work from home with a 1.5-year-old, so I do a lot of work-related tasks get done after Nailah goes to sleep, and most nights, by the time I shut things down, I’m too tired to do anything but read a little then fall asleep. But, I’m working on it because I know that it’s important to wind down before going to bed. One of the main reasons you should have a routine is so you can get as good a night’s rest as possible so you’ll be energized and ready for the next day.

With that being said, here’s what I try (or am going to start trying) to do before I go to sleep:

  • Stop working 30 minutes before I go to sleep. I’ve read that you should stop working an hour before bed. However, I’m not sure that will work for me at this time since while I’m working during the day, I’m also taking care of Nailah and the household. I do believe that there should be some period of time between when you stop working and when you go to sleep. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour is up to you.
  • Write my to-do list for the next day (I call it my intentions list). Doing this prepares me for the next morning since I’m not wondering what I need to do or just jumping from one task to the next with no direction.
  • Journal (I try to at least once a week). This one is on and off, but I’m working on trying to write in my journal at least once a week because it helps me process my thoughts, feelings, and emotions about what’s going on in my life. It’s cathartic.
  • Meditate. I try to do this for at least five minutes (10 is ideal).
  • Read affirmations and goals (and maybe visualize). For me (and lots of other people), nighttime is when my mind starts to wonder, I start overthinking, and sometimes, negative, fearful thoughts try to creep in. Reading my affirmations and goals and visualizing helps me to focus on something positive so I can fall asleep more easily and make sure something good is put into my subconscious mind.
  • Read a devotion (and maybe some of a book I’m reading). Another way for me to keep my mind on something positive.
  • Write in my gratitude journal. I write down at least five things I’m thankful for that happened during the day.
  • Pray. 

What do you do before going to be to help you keep your calm and get a good night’s sleep? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit | 123rf.com (Cathy Yeulet)

#CalmTip: June 16, 2015

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

If you have a hard time making time yourself and making your needs a priority, put it on your to-do list! That way, you’re more likely to actually do whatever you need to take care of you. “It” could be working out, meditating, reading a book for 15 minutes before bed, doing yoga, taking a bubble bath, etc.

Whatever you need to do to make sure you’re a priority, write it down, then do it!

 

Creating A Morning Routine That Works

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Do you start your day stressed, rushed, and overwhelmed? Maybe you need to create a morning ritual. It helps set the tone for a productive, calm, and overall more successful day.

I’ve found that when I do certain things right after I wake up, I feel a lot better during the day. Now, that’s not to say that everything goes perfectly and according to my plans, but when things do go off course, I handle them better because of some of the activities in my routine. I also feel more calm and ready for what the day will bring. I can definitely tell the difference in how I feel when I complete my routine and when I don’t.

Here’s what my morning routine looks like:

I usually wake up between 6 and 6:30 (I’ve always been an early riser), and I thank God for a new day. Then, I take Nailah (who’s usually still sleeping) with me to the kitchen so I can fix my breakfast: 2 whole grain waffles with peanut butter. I go back upstairs and sit in bed because, as I mentioned, Nailah is still sleeping most of the time. While I’m eating, I read a couple of devotions I have sent to my email, then read my affirmations, goals, and look at my Pinterest vision board (more on that in another post). I try to meditate before Nailah wakes up, but if I don’t get to, I wait until Chris (my husband) gets home, or I’ll wait until she takes a nap. That’s it. Simple, right?

You can, of course, create whatever routine works best for you, but a few things I suggest are:

  • Right when you wake up, feel excited and thankful for a new day (or at least try to).
  • Don’t pick up your phone and get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Meditate, if possible. If not, take a moment for a few deep breaths.
  • Read something inspirational, whether it’s part of a book, a blog post, a scripture, or a quote.
  • Read or recite affirmations so you set the tone for an amazing day.
  • Try to be consistent with it, no matter what. Admittedly, I have days when I don’t feel like doing my routine, but like I said earlier, my day just isn’t the same without it. But if you happen to skip something one day (or a few), don’t beat yourself up. Just get back to it the next morning.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

What does your morning routine consist of? Share below by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/Wavebreak Media LTD

Mantras for Meditation (and daily life)

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

When meditating, you can focus on your breath, the space between your thoughts, observe your thoughts, or you can focus on a word, or an affirmation/mantra.

A mantra is a “sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating.” (Merriam-Webster.com). And according to Chopra.com, the word mantra has two parts: man, the root of the Sanskrit word for mind; and tra, the root of the word instrument. So, “a mantra is therefore an instrument  of the mind, a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation.”

While there are several Sanskrit mantras you can use (like om, for example), I mainly like to use personal ones when I meditate, depending on what I need at the moment. Here are five I use that you can, too:

 

1, I am calm and centered. When I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed or if I need to focus, this is my go-to.

2. I am open to receive. This is for the times I want to create a feeling of abundance.

3. Breathe in courage, exhale fear. When I’m feeling anxious or a little fearful about something, I use this one.

4. Prosperity flows to me; prosperity flows through me. Another one for when I want to feel abundant.

5. The peace of God shines through me. This is another one I use for when I need more calm in my life.

Do you have another mantra you use when you meditate? Share below by leaving a comment!

12 Quotes to Inspire You to Meditate

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

Whether you’re a beginner practitioner of meditation or you’ve been doing it for many years, it can sometimes be hard to make the time to do so, especially when you have a lot going on in your life. Hopefully, these quotes will inspire you to begin or continue your meditation practice:

  1. “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass
  2. “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside you.” – Deepak Chopra
  3. “Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Herman Hesse
  4. “There is a presence, a silence, a stillness, which is here by itself. There is no doer of it, no creator of stillness. It is simply here in you, with you. It is the fragrance of your own self. There is nothing to do about this, it is naturally present. The fragrance of peace, this spaciousness, it is the fragrance of your own being.” – Mooji
  5. “Let your mind and soul be at ease. Don’t grasp and grab for the magic and miracles. When you reside in that place of stillness, the joy, miracles, and magic you’re seeking will find you.” – Melodie Beattie
  6. “Meditation, because some questions can’t be answered by Google.” – Unknown
  7. “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha 
  8. “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there — buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra
  9. “Meditation makes you innocent, it makes you childlike. In that state, miracles are possible. That state is pure magic. A great transformation happens — in innocence you transcend the mind, and to transcend the mind is to become the awakened one, the enlightened one.” – Osho
  10. “Prayer is when you talk to God, meditation is when God talks to you.” – Unknown
  11. “Meditation is not just for relaxation; its primary purpose is to develop the capacity to respond skillfully and gracefully to life’s difficulties as well as its joys.” – Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche
  12. “The more regularly you meditate and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting from a center of peace.” – J. Donald Walters