Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highs and Lows of 2009

This year had a lot of ups and downs.  In January, Obama was elected as President.  I watched the historic inauguration with goosebumps while I wrote a letter to my future biracial child.  She will never know a world where a black person wasn't President.  We had been trying to conceive for 4 months by then and I believed 2009 would be the year she arrived.

In April, Nourish. Create. Bloom. came to life.  It has been such a joy to write blog posts and read the comments from my readers.  Thank you loyal followers!  Your comments mean so much to me.

Later in April, I felt the most incredible joy when I got pregnant for the first time ever!  I'd been waiting for this moment for years and it was finally here!  It was especially wonderful because my sister, Marilee, got pregnant two weeks before me.   I was so excited to share this life experience with her just like we had planned when we were little girls. We were certain she was having a boy and I was having a girl. That day, I went out and bought What to Expect When You're Expecting and a gift book for my sister and her husband.  I also bought our child her first book ever; You Are My Wish Come True.   

In May, my joy ended.  After continued bleeding and uncertainty, my husband and I learned the baby was stuck in my fallopian tube.  The pregnancy couldn't progress without killing me in the process.  In the ER I received a shot that ended my first pregnancy.  Sadness enveloped me.  This blog became a way for me to voice my grief, find support, and contemplate hope.  

The rest of 2009 was an off-and-on-again struggle.  Tears came when I passed the baby section in Target.  A few weeks ago, when in Borders, I had move to another section when a baby's cry prompted me to cry myself.  

On December 16th, my sister had a beautiful and healthy baby boy.  During my sister's pregnancy I struggled with separating her joy from my loss.  The timing of our conceptions at first seemed perfect but turned out to be painful.  I was afraid that when I first met her son, I would burst into tears.  But when I held him, all I could think of was the miracle that he is.  In that moment, holding that little chirping bundle of joy, my own sadness left me.

My due date was to be December 31st.  But as it turns out, 2009 wasn't my year to become a mama.  And despite some devastating news from the doctor today, I still have a little hope that 2010 is the year my wish will come true.  

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kathianne's AJC Quote on Holiday Stress

Note: Unfortunately, the article printed on December 24th.  I was out of town for the holidays, so I had someone buy the paper on the 22nd (the day the article was supposed to be printed).  Since I couldn't track down an actual newspaper, I bought the archive copy, and cut and pasted my quotes here.  I know it doesn't look incredibly professional this way, but I'm just not going to stress about it.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
December 24, 2009
Section: Living
Edition: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Page: D1

Avoid holiday stress overload
Keeping perspective is key, experts say.
Take time for yourself during the season's crush of commitments.

Nedra Rhone, Staff

The holidays are generally a happy time of year, but they can also be a time of great stress. Social engagements, family visits, travel and high expectations can all bring on feelings of increased pressure. Some stress is, of course, good for you.

"It is important for us to have stress in our lives ... but when it is extended stress, it starts to wear on the body," said Kathianne Sellers Williams, wellness coach at Cafe Physique. "The average person does not manage stress at all, so the holidays can really emphasize how out of balance people are."

Add to that the climate of economic uncertainty and the scene is set for a meltdown. We asked some of Atlanta's top health and wellness experts to give a few tips for managing stress this season.

Williams, wellness coach, Cafe Physique

"What I've been seeing with my clients is they have increased stress because there is more to do. There are more demands on their time. A lot of people have a hard time saying no," Williams said. It is important for people to think about fitting nourishing activities or stress relievers into their daily life, she said. "In general, there are things you can do to manage your baseline stress. You can plan to do a yoga class or do some creative activities such as writing in a journal. It could be a ritual of sitting down and having a cup of tea while reading the paper," Williams said.

You also want to have a plan for breakthrough stress, Williams said, those unplanned moments that occur at work or while waiting in line at the post office. Practicing deep breathing or removing yourself from the situation to go get a cup of tea can make things better, she said.

Another important aspect of managing stress is getting adequate sleep. "Not getting enough sleep just compounds how anxious or stressed or depressed people feel," Williams said. Also make time to evaluate your values in life. "Look at a typical day and write down what you do all day and just look at it. Some people are shocked. They can't believe how much time they spend watching TV. The awareness phase is crucial. Then from there ask yourself the tough questions," she said.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Here are some holiday photos to get you in the spirit!

I took them At The Collective, the artists' cooperative 
where I sell my artwork.

Greg from Forrester's Greenhouse, did an amazing job with these decorations.

I love this glitter reindeer and vintage Santa!

Just one of the ornaments I made this year.
Each year I make a few (and break a few.)

...and Happy Hanuakkah.  
I hope your holiday season is filled with love and laughter!

Friday, December 11, 2009

7 Tips for Less Stress This Holiday Season

Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  She's writing an article on holiday stress and how to manage it.  I'll be sure to post the article when it comes out, but wanted to pass along my tips now since the print date isn't until 12/22/09.

I ask each of my wellness coaching clients how they manage stress.  Most give me a blank stare. But here's the reality:  if you don't have positive stress coping skills, you will always find some way to cope, and it might just be negative (for example: eating too much or too little, drinking alcohol, smoking, over-exercising, excessive shopping, or watching too much t.v.)

When the holidays hit- and there are holiday cards to send, extra food to make, presents to buy, too many social engagements, and more time spent with family- already stressed people are even more overwhelmed.  I encourage all my clients to incorporate nourishing rituals (stress relievers that fill your spirit and calm your mind) into their daily lives.  Nourishing rituals will lower your everyday stress levels and help you to feel balanced and centered.

Here are a 6 additional tips:

  • Use time waiting in line (at the post office, at the mall) to practice deep breathing.  Count slowly to four with each inhale and exhale.  And feel like a stress management star because you are feeling calm while all the other people in line are feeling agitated!
  • Break holiday traditions that seem out-dated.  Don't continue with traditions you dread.  Create new traditions that honor your current financial situation and current values.
  • Simplify your holiday meals and decorations.  Do what feels right for you.
  • Simplify your gift giving: Consider writing a love letter, a poem, a list of reasons why you love the person, or a list of your favorite memories together.  Make a handmade ornament or frame a favorite photo of the two of you together.  (My best friend and her husband only exchange ornaments each year for Christmas.  It's a low stress tradition but it's super meaningful each year when they decorate their tree.)
  • Say no.  It's okay to turn down invitations to social events.  Just say you have another obligation (which happens to be an obligation to your self-care.)
  • Write down your blessings.  I am always amazed at the healing (and calming) power of listing all the people, things, and events I'm thankful to have in my life.  Nothing can shift your energy like a gratitude list.
Best wishes for a happy and stress-less holiday season!

Addendum:  Click here for the article.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Back to Perky

I haven't been feeling like my usual perky self lately,
 so I've decided to post photos of things that make me happy.

Marching Bands

School Spirit!

Bright Batches of Color

Colored Pencils (and Adult Coloring Books!)

Art in Unexpected Places

& Time Spent in Big Cities

What makes you happy?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saved by a Pea

Last week I ran into a new friend who just started a business.  This former lawyer recently made a dramatic career change.  She's selling peas!  Not just any peas, but Peas for Prosperity.

I found the bit of history she shared fascinating and think you might too.  So here's a bit of nourishment for your mind:  

According to Southern tradition, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.  The tradition began during the Civil War, when General William T. Sherman and his troops marched from Atlanta to Savannah, destroying everything in their wake.  Everything EXCEPT the black-eyed peas.  

The troops believed that cattle, not people, were the only ones who ate black-eyed peas.  After the war, black-eyed peas were the main source of food in the South.  The peas saved thousands from starvation and gave the South a second chance.  Since New Year's Day of 1866, the peas still represent regrowth.

This month, Christy started Peas for Prosperity.  A dollar from each bag of black-eyed peas sold will be donated to charities dedicated to helping people who need a second chance in life.  Visit her website to read her candid and inspiring personal story.

Here I am, purchasing my bags of Peas for Prosperity.  I think they'll make unique and meaningful hostess gifts.  And, I hold the distinct honor of being Christy's first customer!

On a final note: black-eyed peas are nutrition all-stars!  They're high in fiber and protein, and also good sources of folic acid, iron, and phytonutrients.  The Peas for Prosperity website has recipes on how to incorporate black-eyed peas into your diet.