Pregnancy Safe Teas

Tea has been a long time interest in my life. My mother would always drink herbal teas while I was growing up. I didn’t appreciate tea when I was younger, but I have become a tea enthusiast since I started college. My first fiancé was Taiwanese, and I loved going shopping in Asian food stores with him. I tried all the different teas I could find and consider myself an expert at that point. I was completely unaware that most if not all ethnic groups have different and wonderful types of tea they traditionally drink. 

Once I left college, I got a tea of the month subscription through Teavana from my ex-husband for my birthday. My tea-encyclopedia exploded past the basic jasmine, green, white, and oolong teas I found at the Asian food marts. Rooibos teas, fruit infusions, matcha, nutty/savory black teas, and many many more made their way into my life. There is almost an endless variety to be found and tried. 

Prior to finding out I was pregnant, my favorite teas were Zest tea for a caffeine kick and Yogi/Traditional Medicinal teas for a plethora of health benefit specific blends. 

Now that I am pregnant, however, I cannot enjoy these teas. So, I thought I would share a few teas that I have found to be pregnancy safe. The first tea I grabbed when we decided to try to get pregnant was this Raspberry leaf tea.

There was some confusion on my part as to what the health benefits of this tea are for pregnant women. I, like many other women, thought it was a tea to be drank to help induce labor. However, upon doing more research into this tea, I found that it does not induce labor at all. This tea actually helps strengthen the uterus and can help stabilize a woman’s menstrual flow. As such, I bought a big bag of organic Raspberry Leaf Tea right away. This tea is best drank paired with another, more flavorful, tea, but it can be drank by itself. If you are anything like me, though, and like to forget you are steeping tea, I will warn you that this tea can get quite bitter if left to over-steep. 

To replace my sleepy time tea with heavier hitting ingredients, I have opted for my local grocery stores organic brand of lavender/chamomile herbal tea. While searching for this tea, I ran across Celestial’s Tea Well – Gut Health tea. Normally, I drink detox teas and Traditional Medical’s Smooth Move tea to keep things flowing. So, I was excited to find this Gut Health tea as a pregnancy safe option to keeping my gut on track. Instead of herbal laxatives and detoxing agents, Celestial’s Tea Well – Gut Health tea offers prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber all wrapped up in a warm, creamy cinnamon oatmeal flavor that is both comforting and tummy friendly. 

I also grabbed a box of Bigelow Benefits Calm Stomach to pair with my Raspberry leaf tea. Calm Tummy tea is a good precaution for any nausea I might experience. I was very lucky with my son not to get any nausea unless I absentmindedly took my prenatal on an empty stomach. However, I know that every pregnancy is different. So, I figured I was better of safe than sorry. Plus, the tea tastes yummy whether I need it to settle my stomach or not. 

These are just a few teas that I am currently enjoying. As with most things during pregnancy, if you are unsure if it is safe to use, take, eat or drink; check with your doctor. I am not a medical professional and am only speaking from my experience. 

What teas do you enjoy? Are there any other pregnancy safe teas you recommend? 

Another Bun

I am going to have to spill the beans here, because I cannot keep such a monumental life change out of my writing. A week ago, we confirmed that I am pregnant! This will be my second child, my husband’s biological first child, and it’s a whole new ball game this time around. 
The first major difference of this pregnancy this far is the fact that I don’t have health insurance. Last year was the first year of my life I haven’t had health insurance through my employer, and this year will be no different. We signed up for a plan through the Market Place; however, I cannot pay the premium and start coverage until they have confirmation that my state plan has been terminated. So, I am sitting in this uncomfortable limbo waiting for paperwork before I can schedule an appointment with a doctor. It’s not an ideal place to be at the beginning of a pregnancy.
On the plus side, I have been alcohol and nicotine free since prior to becoming pregnant. I started taking a prenatal about a month before conceiving as well and have cut out all other medications, caffeine, and risky foods. It has only been five years since I was last pregnant, but I was surprised to realize how much I had forgotten already. 
No more medicinal teas. No more melatonin to help me sleep. No more eggs medium done or soft (unpasteurized) cheeses. No more energy drinks; even the “healthier” ones. No high intensity (high impact) exercise. No super hot baths (a necessity for surviving Chicago winters). 
It sounds terrible, and initially it is uncomfortable to not be able to reach for something in the medicine cabinet to fix all my problems. However, after a week of grumbles and growing pains, I am surprised with just how well, healthy, and pain free I can live without those things. Herbal teas, staying hydrated, meditation, heating pads, and Reiki seem to be keeping this formerly medicated momma pretty happy. How lovely is that? It makes me wonder how much time, money, and energy I have unnecessarily expended putting chemicals in my body. 
I will say, however, that I have yet to master sleeping well throughout the night without any form of chemical assistance. I have gone from hardcore prescription sleeping medications during college to medicinal tea with passion flower and melatonin supplements to help me fall and stay asleep. I am, somehow, able to fall asleep on my own relatively fast these days with the aid of SleepStories in the Calm app, but I am waking up several times a night and tossing and turning. This could be attributed to hormonal changes, but it is probably largely a transitional hiccup from no longer being on anti-depressants and sleep aids. I am also sure that it would be much worse if I was not exercising regularly. 
Regular exercise during the winter is more challenging this year than normal. Usually, I look in to a gym membership, but that is not a risk I want to take in this pandemic. So, I am left to lean back on my tried and true YouTube fitness channels to keep me on track. Thankfully, owning a home for the first time has given me the advantage of having a whole room to exercise in. Woohoo!
As with my first pregnancy, I anticipate a lot of research into healthy nutrition, exercise, and more, which I look forward to sharing with you along the way. So, stay tuned for lots of pregnancy tips and updates to come!!

Breaking Bad Habits and Building Better Ones

Habits, both good and bad, are hard to break. I have learned how to break bad habits and form new good habits effectively these past couple months. I have finally quit vaping and have incorporated yoga and meditation into my daily routine. Such a feat can seem overwhelming, but I actually found it to be relatively pain free. How can this be?

I have tried quitting smoking (when I smoked cigarettes) and vaping more times than I can count. Full disclosure, it is still a challenge even as I am writing this. Years of using nicotine rewires you brain to become very dependent upon it. Just thinking about vaping can illicit a powerful craving within me. The key to my successful cessation this time lies in what I did before quitting. Instead of setting out to rid my life of a toxic bad habit, like so many people have done for New Year’s resolutions, I decided to first ADD something into my life. I decided to actually give mediation a fair shot.

Dedicating time to a daily meditation routine, in addition to some exercise every day, gave me undeniable positive results. Let me say, I was not a “good” meditator initially. It’s hard for me to sit still for 20 minutes and almost impossible to quite the storm in my head. However, as with most things, time, practice, and dedication produced results. I found myself becoming more mindful in my day to day life. I was able to deal with stress differently and show myself compassion and appreciation for taking the time to do these thing every day. Now, my meditation and yoga/exercise habits are fully established. It is hard for me to “skip” a day, because I have turned it in to a positive habit in my life.

Now I was ready to break my old nemesis and cut ties with nicotine. The compounding benefits of meditation and exercise enable me to be mindful of cravings once I stopped; to label them as mere craving and let them go. During my journey into meditation, I read several books on mindfulness and Buddhist teachings. I am now able to observe my thoughts without getting to attached (most of the time), and find solace in the knowledge that I am not my thoughts and that everything changes.

There is something very empowering and comforting in being able to say to myself that “this is just a craving. It will pass. I am growing.” Also, knowing that the craving and discomfort of no longer vaping would pass was very helpful too. These are things I had hear before but never gave much confidence too. However, in a mindful lifestyle imbued with meditation and self appraisal, I have learned how my thoughts can be so very powerful and also very insignificant. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I’m not nearly as eloquent as a Buddhist monk.

What I can say, is that I have never regretted taking time to meditate. I always feel better to some degree after taking this time to slow down and at the very least I am never worse off for doing so. Exercise is another great mood boosting habit. If you are having a hard time breaking a bad habit, I would highly recommend by starting with adding good habits into your life first. Building these habits gave me an increased sense or self-worth and appreciation for the time and energy I spend doing things. It will help put into perspective the true nature of bad habits working against you.

I have started to pick new good habits to add to my life. These habits include: drinking water first thing in the morning, drinking tea before bead, and stopping eating food for the day after dinner. I enjoy the journey of adding new good habits into my life now, because I know that on the other side of the initial struggle to establish these things in my life is a level of satisfaction and reward that continues to pay off.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">What do you want to make a new habit in your life? Have you had similar success in breaking bad habits? What works (doesn't work) for you?What do you want to make a new habit in your life? Have you had similar success in breaking bad habits? What works (doesn’t work) for you?

Clarity in Shadows

I create my own dragons to slay out of small shadows I see in far away corners.

A moment of clarity, so late in this day. Keeps my eyes open, to ponder a new way.

I don’t know why clarity as to come this late, but I suppose it comes when it comes. Better late than never; they say. I have these precious moments, fleeting seconds when I realize that all my turmoil, mental anguish, emotional torture, everything; it’s all just me. I have spent countless hours scanning over my life trying to figure out how to situate things just right to make everything okay. I keep searching for that last puzzle piece to pull into place to make the picture complete. I search in vain in relationships, lifestyle changes, diet, nutrition, school, work, and other people. I berate myself for not being more healthy, for not being a better mother, daughter, and friend, for not being more open with my partner, and for not being where I should be in life; which is where again?

I know that I am capable of overcoming obstacles. I know that I can make better choices to eventually line up a future that I currently would find more acceptable. But what about now? I’m only in to month three of living in my new home with my partner, and son and I am scrambling to figure out where to live next. Nothing is wrong with where we live. It’s a nice home in a great location. It’s a bit of a financial burden for a full time-mother, part-time grad student, and part-time therapist/teacher. But there is nothing wrong with right now. Why can’t I just be happy in this moment?

This questions leads me down the rabbit hole. What is wrong with me? What can I do to make things better? Exercise, eat better, find a better job, buy a car, find better ways to spend time with my son and my partner. Maybe a picture or some home decor would make it feel more pleasant… Sure, none of those things would hurt, but I am still here, locked in this hellish nightmare of a mind. I am ultimately alone with my thoughts of self defeating contradictions. I should be more creative, but art supplies are expensive. I should spend more time with my son doing fun things, but I am about to start classes and will have even less time. We should make a date night, but it’s all but a miracle to get things lined up to just get to meetings. I should take a few minutes to meditate, but I’m already in bed and am physically tired. Every idea I come up with I immediately shoot down, and I hate it.

I hate how self-defeating I have become. I hate how closed off and completely torn up inside I feel. I have all these emotions and concerns and don’t voice any of them, because I have either labeled them not important enough to talk about or to much of a big deal that I don’t want to bother or upset anyone else with it. I’m not even giving myself a chance. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and I feel like I’m starting to live the same life over again. I do not want that life. I do not want that hell. I want out of my mind, right now.

I pray. I write. I read. I search for the thing that is going to give me what I need to live the way I want, and all I can reasonably conclude at this hour is that I am keeping myself down. Why?! Why for fucks-sake do I do this? Do I really hate myself that much? Do I really think so little of myself and my needs that I have to extinguish them the moment they crop up? Only I don’t really extinguish the flame, they all just simmer below the surface waiting for me to lose my sanity. Why do I put myself in this small, miserable, torturous little box? I think it’s because it is the only way I have learned how to survive.

I make it sound so dramatic, or perhaps that is just my inner bitch chiming in to diminish it. I have been in survival mode for so long, that even if there wasn’t a fight to be having, I was fighting none the less. I don’t know how to handle just being. I don’t know how to live a life based in today’s void of threat. I create my own dragons to slay out of small shadows I see in far away corners. All I know how to do is fight and hope that once the next monster is slain, the dust will settle to a happily every after. As illogical as I can see this for as I sit here describing it, I don’t know how to shake it. I don’t know how to relearn to live in a life of peace and possibility. I don’t know how to change.

 

A Loud Mind

Late night; In a fight. Thoughts holding tight; Don’t feel quite right.

This post will probably not be too cohesive. I can’t sleep and my mind is racing. On to of that, my stomach is under siege by something. So, here I sit with Morgan Freeman on in the background narrating some documentary on death, rituals and God.

Anxiety flourishes over New Year’s resolutions I haven’t started in time. It’s absurd, that I should even think there is a “time” in which to make changes. Yes, there is global momentum around this time of year, but change is always possible. Each day is a new opportunity. Exercise, eating healthy, meditation, mindfulness, and self care. They are always on my list, but never high enough to prioritize as I wish I did lying awake at night. I have been exercising more, and I do, in general, eat a mostly health diet. (Although, I certainly over indulge my Achilles heel; The Great Frozen Overlord; ice cream.)

I had some success with mindfulness and meditation yesterday. I set an intention for the day, via mantra, that I took a few minutes to visualize before crawling out of bed. The day seemed lighter, and my heart was happier. Today, I forgot and returned to the trudge of daily living. It is so hard to take the time, though it’s only a few minutes. Why is that? Perhaps it’s the same reason I’m lying awake right now. My mind chatters too much to focus. Contemplation swirls in mesmerizing patterns, and I lose time and desire to commit any more to quieting the madness. Still, I know I fare much better when I make the time. I need to take the action until it becomes second nature; habituated.

How do I slow this mind enough to turn off my autopilot? Writing is certainly one way I am able to at least slow the flow in my head. Thus, why I am writing right now. Exercise is another tool of the like, as I am focused on my body and usually the clock. Haha.

Meditation seems all but impossible right now. I like to think I am too busy and just have too much going on to slow down. But as I sit here reflecting on it, I am starting to realize that although I am very busy being a mom, student, therapist, partner, and soon teacher, a lot of the chatter is purely of my own making. I can’t count how many goals I set for myself each day, only to pick them off one by one to either completely dispose of or replace with a “better” one. It’s almost infuriating.

I should focus on this. No, maybe just focus on that. I’ve tried focusing on X and Y and Z before and it went nowhere. Focus efforts to A, B and C. But maybe refocus; again and again.  It’s exhausting and meanwhile I’m flying through my day, not present in the current moment, thinking about moments that haven’t or may never happen. Future tripping, someone once described it as. Mindfulness and meditation, I know, can help this. But I guess I just don’t know how to get started. I guess carving out a time and making a quiet space would be a good place to start. I am torn, as always, as to purchasing the Calm app to help guide mediation. I know it works well for me, but I always wind up not using it. I don’t prioritize it, and that needs to change.

All the while I am worried I am not a good enough mother or a good enough partner. I am job searching, getting ready to start grad school, anxious about purchasing a vehicle, wondering how I’ll pay rent in the next few months if I commit all my saving into a car. Pros and Cons, this or that, up or down or inside out? Who knows? Not I.

Whenever I’m Disturbed…

I am in uncharted territory again. I feel excited at the possibility of returning to school and pursuing a degree in something that will enable me to affect positive change in our world. Yet, I am completely irritated, and I don’t really know why. I can only surmise that changing my routine, focus, and the way I think to be more productive and driven has left me intolerant to old habits and ways of thinking. It seems counter intuitive. The more self understanding and focus I have, I would assume would instill further compassion and understanding of others. Instead, all I see are unhealthy thought patterns, time sinks, and bad habits that need to be quashed.

When I first wrote this blog, and WordPress.com’s lovely block editor ruined everything by deleting two thirds of it, I spent a bit of time venting about my mother’s entitled, childish behavior. I am not, however, going to retype all that as it is a huge waste of time and energy. That is who she is an I can’t expect anything different. She is stuck in her ways, and the chance of that changing or her doing any real personal development is slim. It is still extremely frusterating, but I will try not to linger on it too long.

Why am I so irritated? I guess I just want better lives for everyone I love, but know I can’t force-feed anything to anyone. This will be problematic as a social worker, and I will have to figure out a way to deal with the frustration. It’s almost infuriating once you start applying yourself and learning how easy it is to turn your life in a different direction. Perhaps this is just my experience. It may completely inapplicable in other regions of the world, but for most in people in the USA, a little focus, drive, and no BS attitude with yourself and things get clear real quick.

This is not to say anyone can be an astronaut or fairy princess. If you really want to be rich, there is a way. If you want to be healthier, there is a way. If you want to have a better relationship with yourself or another person, there is a way. It just takes an open mind to change and a willingness to apply yourself and sacrifice what you have to for the things you really want. This does not require sitting, doing nothing, doing the same things over and over, or living in self pity and denial. It takes action, breaking old useless habits, self restraint and self discipline. It only sounds hard. It is not any harder than being miserable with your life. The more you change, the easier changing other things becomes. Life is always changing. Either change with it or face the notion you have, in essence, accepted you life for what it is whether you realize it or not.

Here in lies my frustration. After lifting a blindfold off my eyes, I’m stuck looking around at everyone else with blindfolds on, wishing desperately I could rip them off. It’s something only that person can do for themselves. I have to accept this. So, instead of getting annoyed at other people, I am going to go back to focusing on improving my own life and eventually find a way in which to help others in a different way.

Ego be gone!

 

 

Work in Progress

So, on Monday I started writing a post about how overwhelmed I was with everything going on in my life. I was focusing on all the negative stuff. I got about three paragraphs in, wiping away tears, and decided writing about things wasn’t helping. Who wants to listen to me complain about my problems anyways? A novel idea hit me. Why don’t I just tell my partner I’m overwhelmed, directly, instead of indirectly pour out my feelings in a blog post?

From an analytical standpoint, reaching out and saying I need help seems like a common sense thing to do when I’m overwhelmed. That is not; however, how my mind works. For many years, be it from my mother or ex-husband, when I have reached out for help it was under the assumption of me “owing” or being indebted to that person. The scales of power shifted against my favor, and I thus tried to avoid it at all costs.

Prior to these past few years, I tried to make everything happen on my own. When things went wrong, I blamed someone else. When things went right, I thought, “see! I can do this all.” I prided myself on saying I put myself through college, and I did for two years at community college. But when scholarships and a student job didn’t cover rent and tuition at WIU, I relied on my father and my boyfriend at the time to help me pay for things.

I have always been a bit of an impatient opportunist. Once I graduated, I grabbed what I could from my apartment in Macomb, IL and never went back. I jumped from one unhealthy relationship into another; seeking greener grass and a brighter future. I pushed to get married, to buy a condo, to get a new car, and all of these things manifested. But I was not happy. I sought escape, comfort, and oblivion every day in a bottle, can or glass. Nothing made me happy, and I never asked for help.

So what is the point in saying all of this? Today, I am divorced, filing for bankruptcy, and moving back in with my mother, but I am happier than I have ever been. How is this possible? Well, I have an amazing partner working the program with me. I have learned to ask for help and not try to force everything to be how I want it. I don’t blame other people for EVERYTHING (most of the time,) and try to accept things as they are. Despite all the pain and misery of the last ten years of my life, I have the three most important things I care about; my sobriety, my partner, and my son. I have everything if I have these things. I don’t care about my car. Having to sell my condo is stressful, but doesn’t destroy my inner peace (for long.) Filing for bankruptcy I see as a new start.

The future is limitless, and I get to share it with the people I care about most. I may be broke as a joke right now, but I don’t feel poor. I am truly happy. It’s something I was never able to find on my own but am so very grateful to have today.