Champagne stemsThe holidays race by every year. Halloween to New Year’s Day is an ever-speeding blur. This time next week, decorations will be coming down, presents in their new permanent locations throughout the house. Jax will be asking when Santa’s coming back.

I’ll be working diligently to keep freshly made resolutions in the front of my mind, like I do every year. By March, they might be forgotten, if history is any indication of what to expect. Note to self: Scroll through last year’s posts to try to figure out what my 2013 resolutions were.

We had a wonderful holiday season, with lots of new memories made. My niece, who at 2 months old celebrated her first Christmas, was one of the highlights for my family. Jax in his tie was another; he was so proud to be dressed up, and he totally rocked it. I’m blogging from my new Chromebook, which is a highlight for me. I know already how this will affect my blogging–I will do more of it! It’s been incredibly inconvenient to blog at home for a myriad reasons. First and foremost of which is that our mac is upstairs, far away from the kitchen and most of the toys, making it difficult for me to be both Mom & Blogger if I’m solo parenting. Momming always wins, and the blog takes a hit.

With “Blog more” making the list of 2014 resolutions (as I suspect is the case for some of you as well), let me introduce the rest of my many goals for the year. From my “Positivity Notebook,” I present to you the whole ambitious list:

  • Try yoga again, with an open mind.
  • Attend 12-week balance class. Practice mindfulness.
  • Blog for Postpartum Progress, without fear.
  • [Secret goal redacted. Will confess later, when I am permitted to do so.]
  • Allow myself to be more transparent and vulnerable (in life and here on the blog).

There you have it. It’s going to be an awesome year, with great potential for personal growth. I’m really looking forward to 2014! Except for New Year’s Day, which I find to be the most depressing day of the entire year. But that’s a story for a whole other post…

 

photo by: dps

Update: Contest is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Raine. Your comment was randomly selected via Random.org as the winner! I’ll be in touch with you via email later today.

 

Wisdom journal from MintedHow cute is my new, custom journal from Minted?! I’m almost intimidated to write in it because it’s too adorable—how will my words compare?

In case you haven’t heard about Minted yet, let me explain who they are. Minted is a global community of independent graphic designers and an online store that prints and sells the best of their designs in the form of paper goods. Brides, Minted makes killer wedding invitations, too!

But my favorite products on their site are the journals, because you know I’m a written word junky. Few things excite me more than the clean, fresh first page of a brand new journal. So many possibilities for writing! Typically, I start out a new journal optimistically, writing about the joys of life, the things I appreciate, all the good times and happy memories. Slowly I can see my negative thoughts creeping in there toward the middle pages. Then I decide I need to buy a new journal to start over again once my writing turns to the dark side in the second half. It is rare I finish writing all the way to the final page! Therefore, I have a collection of unfinished journals and diaries that go back to age 8. But none of them are as cute as my Minted journal.

What I particularly love about Minted is that the journals are designed by independent artists, yet each one can be personalized by you.  I ordered and personalized this cutie. I’m considering holding off on writing in it until I’m done my Positivity Notebook and then using my Minted journal for Positivity, Part II.

What do you think I should use my new journal for?

Leave a comment telling me what you would use your shiny new Minted journal for, and your comment will serve as your entry to win the journal of your choice! For one additional entry, leave a second comment indicating which Minted journal is your favorite.

One winner will be selected one week from today, on Wednesday, June 12, and will be notified via email.

Disclaimer: I received no financial compensation for hosting this giveaway; However, I did receive one gorgeous, personalized Minted journal. The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

 

If you could see the posts sitting in my Drafts folder, you’d understand a little bit about the current state of my brain. It’s all over the place. And each time I sit down to blog, I end up saving the post as a draft because I feel it is rubbish. I assume that someday I’ll get back to it, but some of those drafted posts have been there for years.

I’ll give you a glimpse of a few of them. There’s the one about the Bored Jar, which I drafted in 2011! You could google it and find a thousand posts about this concept that are better written than what I would have published.

There’s the one about car shopping with a toddler in tow. That one primarily became a post about all the ways Jax made it a humorous adventure–he sobbed when I didn’t leave one dealership with the orange car he’d chosen for me, for example.

There’s the one about real women. You know the quotes you’ve probably seen a thousand times by now: “A real woman…” blah, blah, blah. I was fed up one day after spending far too much time on Pinterest and started to write a post compiling all the things a “real” woman is expected to be and do and think and say. But it was too depressing to publish.

There’s the one about how I never know the right thing to say in a situation, whereas my friends make it look effortless. I am lucky to have friends who comfort when comfort is needed, who dole out the hard truth when nobody else wants to, and so on. They are gifted with the necessary words and the knowledge to discern when to use them and when to keep quiet. Sometimes, this is intimidating. I find myself not saying anything because I can’t think of the perfect thing to say.

There’s the one about my decision to get a tattoo honoring my son. I drafted it before I took the plunge and got his first and middle name tattooed in my own handwriting. I suppose this one is the most likely to become a real post sometime soon. Stay tuned.

There’s the one all about Elliott Smith, who used to be my favorite singer of all time, but whom I rarely listen to anymore. I find his music–and his story–to be too depressing now. But if you’ve never heard of him, get on Spotify and listen to a few of his songs. They’re beautiful.

There’s the one about quitting therapy. I can’t finish that one because I’m back in therapy and I’m quite happy about it.

And there are a few more drafts sitting in there that may not ever become real posts. This is perplexing to me because I am in a blogging rut, feeling like I have nothing to say–kind of silly, given the 14 unfinished posts in my Drafts folder! Not to mention the sponsored posts I owe to a few places.

The words just aren’t flowing well these days.

What’s in your Drafts folder? Do you think you’ll ever finish those posts?

Even when you know your triggers and how to avoid them, sometimes they still getcha.

I got an email the other day presenting an opportunity to submit a piece of writing about my PPD experience to a parenting magazine with a vast circulation. Naturally, I am very excited by this chance to use my voice in a far-reaching arena. So I spent the weekend thinking about what I wanted to say about my personal experience. I re-read every blog post tagged with PPD, some of them multiple times. Early this morning, I finally drafted my story and then emailed it to a few trusted individuals with superb writing and/or editing skills. And then it hit me.

Reliving that time period was kind of brutal. I’ve relived it many times before, but I must not have had PMS on those days. It must not have been a gray, drizzly weekend. I must not have re-read those blog posts on days when my toddler was sobbing as I dropped him off at daycare and my car was giving me a hard time.There probably wasn’t a thousand other things on my mind at the time.

Today has been a challenge. I had to spend my lunchbreak shopping, focusing on Christmas gifts, just to get out of my own head for an hour after all that heavy stuff. I called a friend, also a PPD blogger selected for this same opportunity, and warned her not to embark on her draft unless she was in a certain mindset already. And we shared a few laughs until I felt lighter. Something about sequined headphones…

I hope I am one of the few bloggers whose story is ultimately selected to appear in print. I’ll keep you posted about that. But I am friends with some of the other bloggers selected, and let me just say this: I’ll be reading the issue with so much pride in what my friends are sharing about their experiences. I’m grateful for the chance to write mine down again, even though it was a little painful. It’s all part of growing, and like another friend texted me earlier today, “Don’t be sad. Look how far you’ve come.”

 

I began feeling pretty low mid-September. Therapy was helping, but I don’t go often enough–I could never go as often as I’d like, given how good I feel when I leave there. I needed something more, something I could carry with me throughout the hard days. I thought back to my early twenties when I was depressed, and I remembered this little leather journal I carried with me everywhere. I must have had a name for it, which I can’t recall now.

In it, I listed all the things that made me happy then (eventually the list exceeded 100). I listed things I want to do in my life. I scribbled song lyrics, quotes, and passages from books. I doodled with markers. That book went everywhere with me during those dark days. Opening it made me feel better, comforted. And, because I have always been a writer, it made me feel good to put pen to paper. Writing has always been my go-to tool for working through my emotions.

This past September, as the days grew shorter and colder and my mood changed with the weather, I decided to start another book. This time, I chose a cheap (but colorful) notebook from Target–less pressure to keep things pretty inside. I referred to it out loud one time as my “positivity notebook,” knowing my struggle to overcome my negativity and pessimism was causing, in part, my depressed mood. The name stuck, even though it isn’t very creative. But sometimes, simplicity is best.

I began writing in it within minutes of coming home from Target. Here is the first page:

Opening page of the positivity notebook

For a month, maybe slightly longer, I carried the notebook with me everywhere, and if I wasn’t feeling well enough to write things down, I’d simply flip through what I’d already written and find some solace there. There is nothing painful in the book, nothing that isn’t uplifting to me in some way. I haven’t written many of my own words inside, but rather I have relied primarily on things others have already shared. This is because I couldn’t trust myself to not write a page-long rant about whatever is bothering me, combined with my fear of someone reading my deepest thoughts.

This is part of a poem by my favorite poet, Frank O’Hara. I love it, so into the notebook it went!

By the end of October, I’d stopped carrying the notebook around with me because I was feeling much better, far less negative. I don’t know whether the positivity notebook should get all of the credit for that, but I feel that it helped me through a rough patch.

Lyrics to “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses, which I was listening to nonstop for a while there. Not exactly positive, but beautiful.

Now I toss the notebook in my purse when I start feeling heavy again or when I suspect the day might be hard for me. And sometimes I toss it in there just because it’s never a bad thing to carry a resource full of inspiring reminders about how life can be. Sometimes I just crave the positivity notebook.

This is part of an exercise I learned in therapy that I find soothing and helpful. I wrote it down as a reminder. Don’t you just love the word “unstuck?”

I think this weekend I will dig out that little leather journal from a decade ago and reflect on the things that made me happy back then.

Do you write down things that inspire or comfort you? Or do you use Pinterest (or something else) for this? I’d love to hear about your method!