parenting · Uncategorized

Nobody warned me about this part of parenting

I’m going to start this off with the positive: my daughter, who is now six and in kindergarten, feels very comfortable talking to both of her parents about her feelings, her insecurities, and her proud moments. As a mom of a girl, that to me is a win, because I remember being the most sensitive kid in the 🌎, and I was well aware of it. I remember people telling me not to be so sensitive, often, and I guess it made it harder for me to deal with my feelings, because I did not think it was okay to be sensitive after a while. 

Now, I have a tiny human of my own who is just as sensitive as I was, and although I am so very grateful she comes to both of us for advice, it just reminds me that as much as I want to be her, mediator, protector, best friend, bully shielding device, etc. That I can’t always do so. 

She has a friend at school that she was playing so well with, she was so excited to have a new “best friend”. But that best friend is now ignoring her, telling her she doesn’t want her sitting next to her, and playing with her outside. My daughter used the words, “Mommy today she insulted me, and when I told her, she asked me what insulted meant.” I laughed on the inside, because I love that she can verbalize to others how they’re making her feel without being mean, but know that this is just the beginning of heartbreak for her. She continued and said “Mommy, what should I do? Should I give her bad looks back?” 

I said no. I know that won’t solve a thing. I told her to be nice to her, but instead, try sitting next to other friends she has made at lunch, because she is not the only friend in the class. She repeated what I told her to do, and this morning, as usual, played tag with her friends. When the little girl arrived, I said hello, I watched,her look at my daughter, and I said “Why don’t you go play tag with the girls?” 

Her response was ” I want to play with new friends, so I am looking around for good and bad kids.” Of course, I knew what she meant, that she didn’t want to play with my daughter, and she walked away. Oh God, I know this young girl is 6, but she has no idea the effect she can have on another human. I didn’t tell her to be nice to My daughter, I didn’t want to embarrass my kid. Instead, I reminded my girl to have a great day, be awesome, and have fun with her friends. 

This is just the beginning. I can’t meddle even if I want to. I can’t tell that little girl anything, because she needs to go through her own lessons in life. I need to continue to be present, know my daughter can trust me, and that it’s okay to be sensitive and also strong in your convictions.

If anything, the biggest lesson I can teach her is to be nice. Be nice even when others can’t be. Feel your feelings, and always know you can come to mom and dad. Now give me a tissue, because being a parent is the hardest job in the world. 

exercise · gratitude · Health and wellness · running · self-discipline

More than Magnets

These magnets aren’t just any magnets. They’re on my fridge for a reason, and they will stay there, because they serve a purpose, and will be a good lesson and story to tell both my son and daughter one day. These magnets were given to me by a student, when I was 8 months pregnant. 

A student that had a sordid history, had every bad hand dealt to her. A student who would do anything just to buy some toilet paper and cat food for her pet. 

The student was on the verge of homelessness, and people truly rallied around to help her and her family. She got some essentials, and when she came back, she handed me a present she had gotten for my unborn son. I couldn’t help but well up. After experiencing such turmoil, she chose to spend some of her money on my child?

I wanted to do more, at least within my boundaries that I could. I knew that she was just one of many in the Boston area that struggled financially due to circumstances that were beyond her control. 

The opportunity to serve and help others like this student came a few months later, when I was buying running gear. I heard about a charity called Family Aid Boston, and I inquired to learn more about them. They help families troubleshoot how they became homeless, offer preventative services with the support of social workers and case managers, and also have employment specialists help support those in need of a job. 

I believe that there are days I think I wish I had more money, a nicer house, and truly, deep down, I have everything I need. I have a husband who is always behind me, supporting every decision I make. I have a daughter who is the little girl I wished I was, with a vivid imagination and a sense of self. I have a son who only has to take one look at me, and my heart explodes.

I have it all. I have a house, two good cars, and food to nourish my family. 

There are so many out there that do not, that we see when driving through the city, and even more recently, some in the land of suburbia. 

I decided to literally put one foot in front of the other, and began running again. It is something I enjoy doing, without even focusing on distance and time. I wanted to couple this therapeutic exercise with a cause to help support those who definitely have much more to worry about than I do. How can we help? We often live such sheltered lives, complain about living dollar to dollar, but truly, there are so many that have nothing to sell, nothing to spare, nothing to give. 

I decided to do something outside of myself. I am officially running for those who can’t. Those who are lost. Those without hope and shelter. 

I am running the 2018 Boston Marathon for Family Aid Boston. For my students, for the underdog charity. For the strangers that can get the support they need. 

Please help joining me to support this worthy cause by visiting the link below!
This is the campaign for FamilyAid Boston (FamilyAid Boston ): https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/familyaidbostonboston2018/mariacameron1?utm_campaign

Fitness · gratitude · Health and wellness · motherhood · motivation · spiritual

Trying New Things Part 2: Let That Sh** GO

If you’re a parent, or caretaker, then you know you are a multi-tasker by nature. Day in and day out, we have at least ten plates spinning in the air, hoping none will fall and break.  I am a human being.  I make mistakes when parenting, when dealing with stressful situations, and more recently, I notice I have a hard time containing myself when I am feeling stressed. I do not want to be that mom who takes out her stress on her children, and luckily, self awareness kicked in and I knew I needed to do something.

All day long, I tell people how important it is make health and wellness a part of their life (not everything, because, ice cream) and here I am, burning that candle at both ends, with little to no flame left.

Enter Tara.  I thought I was going to help her with some wellness goals, but little did I know she was going to open my eyes to something I did not know I needed, and I am so grateful our paths connected once again.

I have known Tara for years.  We both worked with teenagers in residential programs, and both knew many of the same people, but I had not seen her for some time.  We began conversing again when I became a coach, and I started following her journey as a new yoga instructor.  Yoga has been something I have wanted to do more of, but I have yet to get to one of her classes (because children).  She recently shared that she was Reiki ceritifed, and I was intrigued. I knew Reiki had something to do with energy, but that was it.

I remember when my Nana was dying, we went down to Radiology together at the hospital, and there was a sign for Reiki. It expressed the healing powers Reiki offers in the advertisement. I glanced it over, and didn’t give it a second thought for another ten years.

I decided to message Tara inquiring about Reiki, because truthfully, my energy is OFF.  Lack of sleep, a 6 year old who is still adjusting to her new life as a big sister, a baby who loves to cry, and other outside factors have totally thrown me for a loop.  I have the most important job in the world right now, and that is to be their mother, and frankly, I was starting to feel like I SUCKED at this job.

I vowed to work on myself this year, and although I have made progress, it is more than just eating better and exercise. It is more than making dinner and folding laundry and cleaning my house. It is so much more than that.

My SPIRIT.  I need to take care of my spirit.

So, I made an appointment with Tara, not knowing what to expect.  I walked into her small studio, and put trust in her to help begin the healing process. Since giving birth, I have not rested, and I have been on the go, but I am okay with that. Unfortunately, I think my spirit has suffered (I shopped at Target and did 3 loads of laundry the day I came home from the hospital, because, hormones).

I thought about cancelling because I had an awful stomach ache and a head cold, but I went because I knew I needed it. I knew I would be making a mistake if I did not go.

When I stepped into her studio, I knew I had arrived at the right place. Quiet, welcoming, quaint. I could smell essential oils and hear calming music playing. Intuition told me this was going to help me.

Tara then explained she would place her hands on me, and hover over the seven chakras.  I honestly didn’t know a damn thing about the seven chakras, but was willing to learn.  Here is a quick crash course

  1. Root chakra — base of the spine — red
  2. Sacral chakra — just below the navel — orange
  3. Solar Plexus chakra — stomach area — yellow
  4. Heart chakra — center of the chest — green
  5. Throat chakra — base of the throat — blue
  6. Third Eye chakra — forehead, just above area between the eyes — indigo
  7. Crown chakra — top of the head — violet

Tara has this visual hanging in her studio

Tara was careful to guide me in my breathing to start, and to have me focus on my breathing throughout the duration on my session. When my mind wandered, I would try to focus back to my breathing.
Tara began to recite calming passages, and one thing really stuck.

She said “Let go of things that no longer serve her.” I didn’t say anything, but I know I have a laundry list, and was hoping this experience would surely help me let go of whatever negative energy was within me.

As the session progressed, she focused a lot on my stomach, my hips, And my shoulders. I have always felt like I carry most of my “burden” on my hips and my stomach has grown two children, so that made sense to me. Car seats, backpacks, briefcases, babies, groceries, strength training, stress, well those shoulders need a lot of love.
At the end of our time together, Tara recited a poem that I had heard only once before, and I just felt like it spoke to me more than anything has in such a LONG time.

The poem was, “She Let Go” by Reverend Safire Rose.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go……No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.”

I thought I would cry, but instead, I smiled. I felt like this was meant to be, like in a sense, it was a spiritual awakening. I have had spiritual awakenings before, but they were private, and inexplicable. I felt like that is what happens as humans. If we have the chance to have an awakening, it’s special, it’s personal, and it’s indescribable.

My stomach ache was gone. My headache was too. I felt calm, I felt rested. I spent the some time with Tara chatting about my experience and how I felt a great deal of energy around my hips, and it could be where I carry most of my stress, or may be an area where I need to work on more.

Tara recently started focusing on trying new things like me, as she fell in love with yoga, and became a teacher, and a Reiki practitioner. I know becoming a coach has opened my eyes to stepping outside of my comfort zone, and I am so grateful I spent the time with Tara, because I feel like I got exactly what I needed.

Reconnecting with old friends, learning from each other, and trying to “let go” of any negative energy is something I will continue to try to do. I only hope I stay in this path, because I am beginning to feel more purpose and gratitude for the direction my life has taken. Thank you Tara, as you have given me what I didn’t know I needed.

Try new things. You’ll be better for it.

gratitude · motherhood · powerlessness · sisters · spiritual

Soul Sisters ❤

18952760_10154954429312946_6138498202691572366_nIt surely has been a busy few weeks, which is why I haven’t written a post. I find writing has been therapeutic for me, even if I am the only person to read it!

My sister and I are truly night and day, and always have been. She was a tiny terror when we were kids, and I was a sweet and sensitive soul. The roles reversed into our teenage years, and she relinquished her crown to me, and I ran with that 👑.

As we got older, our interests aligned more, I believe we both matured, and learned to agree to disagree, as we are still quite different even today.

She is a fantastic aunt to my children, and loves them like her own. I have watched her build such a special relationship with my daughter over the last six years, and I believe that strengthened our bond even further.

One thing that was missing was a tiny niece or nephew of my own! I couldn’t wait to become an auntie! I waited and waited for my sister and her middle school sweetheart to have a baby, but then I decided I wasn’t going to wait any longer, and had another of my own!

Christmas morning 2017, I was seven months pregnant, and my sister came downstairs from her house and handed me a white gift bag. I burst into tears and started screaming. I knew what was in the bag, and I honestly didn’t even have to open it. I knew I was going to become an auntie, and I was overjoyed (I think I shook the house with my third trimester jumping).

My sister looked so beautiful throughout her pregnancy, and dealt with minor complications better than I would have expected. My nephew had a tiny tummy, so they needed to induce her. I was so excited to share all of these moments with her, and couldn’t wait to see her hold her little guy.

I waited and waited to get the call or picture message that he was here! I woke up in the middle of the night on August 3rd and woke my husband up. Instinctively, I knew the baby was okay, but my sister was not. Why haven’t they called me? I was nervous, and unfortunately my concerns were reality.

My sister had quite the ordeal after giving birth to my nephew, and to make a long story short, had to spend 6 days, then another two days, and then a 911 call and an ambulance ride to the ER since she gave birth to my sweet little nephew.

As a sibling, and an older one, I never had to think about the ‘what ifs’ with my sister. There was a time in my life where I didn’t take care of myself, and she had to worry about that with me, but it had never occurred to me what that might feel like.  Well, it is truthfully torturous.

I wanted to be there for her, protect her, fight for her, be her advocate.

As a big sis, my emotions were all over the place. My baby sister was experiencing a great deal of pain and worry, and every time she was sent home, she ended up right back in the hospital, away from her newborn baby. It tore me up inside. I hoped that the sound of my voice mimmicked hers a little to bring him some comfort.

I witnessed their instant connection and bond. As soon as she placed him on her chest, he was calm, and safe. Knowing she couldn’t be there for him was heartwrenching.

I knew this was another lesson, a lesson about gratitude, and being powerless.

I love my sister so very much. She is stronger than I am, and has shown such courage during some painful procedures and experiences over the last two weeks. She has also taught me to not take time with your littles for granted, as you never truly know what can happen.

I also felt so connected in a spiritual sense,  to my sister. I couldn’t feel her pain, but felt it in different ways that are inexplicable.

She is My flesh and blood, my best friend, and sometimes my sparring partner. I love her with all of my heart and although I am powerless over situations and outcomes of others quite often, I did the very best I could to be present for her and her new family. But it was not about what I did, it was about what she endured, and I’m proud to know her, and someday tell my nephew how strong his mommy is.
Love your sister, your brother, your cousin, love the ones you love so deeply today and everyday, please.

exercise · Fitness · Health and wellness · motivation · self-discipline

Stick it to Me 

A principle I have learned as an exhausted, busy mother of two is simple, but often hard for people to abide by. 

When you don’t feel like doing something, do it anyway.

I need to clean my house. I don’t feel like it. I need to exercise. I don’t feel like it. I need to go grocery shopping. I don’t feel like it.

I often don’t feel like it. My body has been through a lot, as I have experienced difficult times just like everyone else on Planet Earth. What separates me from others may be my perspective on how to handle situations, especially when I just don’t want to do something. 

As a special education teacher, I often used sticky notes to remind myself of tasks I needed to complete. I am quite disorganized, and if you’ve worked with me, then you can attest to that. 

When I decided to take control of my mental and physical health at home, I was scared and had no idea how I was going to get a workout in running on three hours of sleep. I just could not possibly do it, right? I started to make every excuse in the book, and then I decided to do something I knew worked, and out came the sticky notes. 

I had one at the top of my workout mat that said, “You’ll feel better when you’re done”. I had one on my bedroom dresser that said “Go kick some ass” and another on the refrigerator that said “Focus on your goals.”  It may sound simplistic, but this worked for me. I started to say to myself, in my head throughout the workout “I’ll feel better when I’m done.” I may have had to pause it 17 times, but I did it, and I did it everyday. 

I often have conversations with a very close friend who had recently started focusing more on overall health, and the friend said, “I am eating so much better. I lost 10 pounds, but I just can’t get out of bed in the morning. I am too tired and when I get home there’s not a chance I feel like working out.” 

I told my friend that regardless of how I feel in the morning, I know I need to do that one thing I don’t feel like doing, and made the suggestion of using the sticky notes. I got a text message the next morning that read “I did it!” and knew what my friend was referring to.

People say they lack motivation, but to be honest, there is no such thing as becoming motivated one day, and it’s simply that we don’t want to do something that is hard. When it comes to motivation, you need to act your way into feeling, as opposed to feeling your way into action. The action precedes the feeling, not visa versa. 

We hesistate. There are certain things we don’t hesitate about, like when we turn our car on in the morning, or when we take a shower, or getting the daily mail.

That’s easy. 

For myself, there is a constant barrage of negative inner dialogue that creates relentless self doubt. “That won’t work” “What will people think?” ….”That’s way too risky, and too much work” and “I don’t have the time.”

If you spoke to your friends the way you talk to yourself, you probably wouldn’t have any friends at all. 

So try this, try acting as opposed to thinking your way into action.  Make a mental sticky note. The next time you try to talk yourself out of something you don’t want to do, do it anyway, because that is the ONLY way to get the results you ultimately desire.

Just be. Just do.

“The cave you fear to enter is the treasure that you seek” – Joseph Campbell

Dairy free · Nursing

Who stole the 🍪 from the 🍪 jar?  Not me. 😭

In 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th (I think you get the picture) grade, I was referred to as “the cheese curl girl”. Not a title I enjoyed having, but I definitely owned it. I remember getting two bags of cheese curls when attending Greek School, and would devour them like nobody’s business.

Cheese. Cookies. Pizza. Ice cream. Cake. Love them all so much.

Fast forward to 2016. “Mrs. Cameron, you just got a call. There is cheese in the main office. You better run down and get some.”

It is crystal clear that people knew about my love affair with cheese.

Enter early May 2017. My newborn son wasn’t acting like himself, and I kept taking him to the doctor because instinctively, I knew it had to do with my diet. After three trips to the doctor, I got the call.

I was told he had an intolerance to cow’s milk protein, and I had a choice; I could continue eating dairy and have him suffer, I could cease breastfeeding, or I could cut all dairy out of my diet.

I cried like a baby and called my friend. What was I going to do? How could I ever go a day without all of my favorite things?!

After a reality check from my friend, it was clear to me that Day 1 needed to start the following morning. I made the decision to go dairy free. I am not a martyr, I just knew I didn’t want to give up that connection and the progress we had made, so I was willing to make changes to my diet. I was willing to go from all to nothing, or so I thought.

The first few days were challenging, but then I started to realize something. I was cooking from scratch (I don’t do that. Ever.) I was cooking meals my husband liked, by using fresh and whole foods.

I was not craving sugar like I once did. I decided to start a fitness program on Day 3 of my dairy free diet, and that helped to stregthen my nutrition.

Why may this apply to, well, anyone?

One. day. At. A. Time. Sounds cliche, but for me, it worked in the beginning until I no longer needed to say it to myself.

I often have people say , “I am not willing to give up my wine.”

“I don’t think I can go without my bagel sandwiches from Dunkin’s.”

I had a choice. Your choice may not be because of your son, but shouldn’t your choice be because, of you?

You are important. Giving yourself an ultimatum regarding health and wellness will never have an auspicious outcome.

Try this “For today, I will eat a balanced diet. Tomorrow I can have my chocolate.”

Try that for a few days, and I guarantee you the chocolate, or the wine will become less important to you, and your progress and results will outweigh anything you weren’t originally willing to give up.

One day I will have dairy again, but I learned I can go without certain things, and still eat delicious meals and enjoy my food. Sometimes the things you aren’t willing to give up can become the biggest teachable moments.

What I thought I would miss the most, I can live without. At least for now. For today.

exercise · Fitness · motherhood · roller skating

Trying New Things

It is very easy to stay in one’s comfort zone, as I have learned throughout my life. I have walked through self doubt and fear quite a bit in the recent months, with the start of giving birth to my second child, and to now, deciding to start my own blog. “Trying New Things” can be a bit intimidating, but once you hit that internal “green light” it can also be exhilarating.

A close friend invited me to roller skate, and I thought “Oh I will go, but there is no way I am going to skate. It has been years, and I am likely to break a bone.”

Once again, comfort zone kicked in, inner self doubt and fear on auto pilot 24/7. A voice I have tried to turn off for most of my life. I decided to turn that button off, and lace up. What was the worst that could happen, right?

What if I fall?

What if I embarrass myself?

What if I break a bone?

What if, What if, What if.

Well, I went in the rink, and started slowly, watching other people who were zipping by me, and watched their movements. After a few songs, I wasn’t afraid of falling anymore. I knew it was a possibility, but I also realized I was having fun with my friends and that “motion is emotion”. When we move our bodies, our minds connect, and it has such a positive impact on the soul.

By the end of the night, I was skating, laughing, and working up a sweat. I was surprised at myself. I had an epiphany.

This one event was very similar to how I started my fitness journey, and how I decided to publicly share this with my friends. It is why so many people avoid starting an exercise program, or eating better. For one reason and one reason only.

Fear.

I have had so many conversations with people, just like me. I have heard things like “Your workouts are a bit out of my league” or “I am just not good at eating healthy.” But have you tried?

I tried last night. I started off slow, just like I did with my fitness program. I modified, I watched others who knew what they were doing, and I emulated their movements. It took time. It took effort. It was not easy in the beginning, but I improved. I was gliding!

Trying New Things can be a bit scary at first, but throwing in the towel before a person has even considered lacing up is doing a disservice to one’s self. It may sound silly, but this was a breakthrough for me. A simple night out on skates. I can’t wait to take my daughter. I told her several times before that “Mommy isn’t good at it, so Daddy will take you”. How cool is it that I can be the one to show her now, just because I didn’t let fear get the best of me.

Try new things. Walk through fear. You’ll be so much better for it.