Emotional Symptoms are the Hardest Part

Ramble On

I’m almost six months pregnant and I can hardly believe it. The time has gone by so quickly so far and I never expected that it would feel this fast. Pregnancy has brought on many things I haven’t expected and luckily has also left some things out that I fully expected to happen. I didn’t really experience morning sickness in my first trimester, I haven’t experienced any crazy cravings or food aversions, and my weight gain has been fairly steady. Overall, on paper, I’d say I’ve had a fairly easy pregnancy so far. However, the one thing I did not expect, or I guess just never thought about, was the way that I would feel internally. I never thought about being pregnant in terms of emotions, other than wild mood swings of which I’ve only had a few. But, if I’m being honest with myself the thought process around being pregnant and the feelings that I’ve experienced have probably been the most difficult part. From imposter syndrome, to doubts, to anxiety, to body-image issues I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions that I’ve never even considered before, and that I don’t think many people feel comfortable talking about. So here I am, writing this down, so that someday I can look back or maybe I can share it with others so they know that they’re not the only one.

The parenthood anxiety is real. Thinking about being responsible for a little life and caring for a tiny human is a pretty terrifying experience. What if I’m not good at it? What if I fail? And biggest of all, what if I’m not capable of that gushing, unconditional, gooey love that every parent talks about? In the beginning of my pregnancy, everyone asked “are you excited?” and it was difficult because I didn’t know if I was. I mean sure, the thought of having a mini-me is great, but shouldn’t I be over the moon? Shouldn’t I be shedding happy tears at the thought of my daughter arriving into this world? I just wasn’t. And it still sort of makes me feel bad. People’s reactions make it even more awkward because I think they expect you to gush. They expect you to twirl in circles and tell them how bubbly and bouncing you feel about your new arrival. So you learn to sort of fake it, and I guess that sort of makes you feel happier about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not excited – I am – but I’m also nervous and anxious and a little bit terrified. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and not think too much about how I feel about it. She’s coming either way and my emotions ebb and flow like they never have before, so I’m learning to give myself a ton of grace and not get too caught up in people’s reactions to my emotive state. I’m not a super outwardly emotional person anyway. I’ve always been a bit more reserved, a bit more private, especially when it comes to the big emotions. So maybe I’m more excited than even I realize, or maybe I’m just excited in a different way.

The other question I’ve gotten, mostly from my mom, is “do you love her so much already?” to which I respond – “sure?” – which again, is not the great overly jovial response that people expect. What is wrong with me? Will I not be excited when she finally gets here? Will I be a terrible mother? If I can’t even be excited now, will I ever? So I’m trying to think of it in another way… I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve never had children or had a small human growing inside of my body. I’ve never known how it feels to be a parent loving a child. How would I know if I love her yet, I’ve never even met her. I mean, sure, I can feel her wiggling around in my abdomen sometimes, but I don’t know her, and how can I love someone I don’t know. I love the idea of her so far, and I think maybe right now that’s all I’m capable of. When she arrives, maybe I will gush and squeal and ooze with sappy, teary love, but maybe I won’t. Maybe my love will be fierce, and strong, and soft but also unyielding, maybe that’s just the type of parent that I’m destined to be. And maybe it goes back to just being more private about my emotions. Perhaps I’ll be that way as a parent too – more reserved, more quiet, more stoic. I can’t change who I am, but I also can’t predict the future. I’m learning to let go of control. Pregnancy has been the biggest exercise in letting go that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.

Letting go of expectations is another huge lesson I’m learning throughout my pregnancy. Specifically with body image and self love. When you see pregnancy ads, or pregnant people in movies or television you see this perfect baby bump on a normal sized body, but if you’re like me, and probably any other pregnant woman in existence you gain weight. Your body changes and not always in the cute perfect baby bump and giant boobs sort of way that you see on TV. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that every pregnancy is different. Every woman grows a bump at a different pace, everyone gains weight differently, everyone is different. In everyday situations it’s so easy to compare yourself to others especially nowadays with social media, but add 25+ pounds to your ever-growing frame and do a search for pregnant women on Instagram and you’ll find it’s SO much easier to scroll for hours and hours when you’re comparing baby bumps – at least that’s how it’s been for me. Is my bump big enough? Have I gained too much weight? Are my arms the same size they were 4 weeks ago? Why does her bump look more round? Why does my bump look different? Am I working out enough? Am I doing this wrong? ALL OF THIS WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY. You can’t have expectations. Expectations breed disappointment and the sooner we can let go and let our bodies be and LOVE the fact that they still carry us and our babies the happier we will be – at least that’s what I’m learning. I’m trying to pick something positive about my body to focus on every time I feel down on myself because it is amazing what my body is doing and it’s amazing that I could be shallow enough to not appreciate that for what it is. And, although it’s always easier said than done, I’m trying to make this a huge facet of my life right now. What’s helping me most is number one, to stop comparing – this does me no good pre-pregnancy and does even more harm pregnant. Number two, wearing cute clothes and making myself feel pretty every day – for me this is doing my makeup, moisturizing, self-tanner, pedicures, self-care. If I want to feel good about myself I need to do things that make me feel good. And finally number three, I’m taking it one day at a time.

At this point I probably sound like the biggest whiner in the entire world when it comes to my pregnancy, and if you’ve read this far I apologize for seeming that way. I truly am so grateful. Again, I think I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion that I’ve never felt and needed a place to spew the negative for just a moment. Writing this all down and being able to read back on it makes me realize how far I’m coming though. I’m learning so much about myself and I think that’s what surprises me most about my pregnancy experience. I’m surprised at my internal dialogue and the affect that is has on my well-being. I’m even more surprised at how the switch to positivity and self-love can really trigger better days and better moods and better thoughts. It’s amazing what our minds are capable of as well as our bodies. I never thought I would be pregnant. I never thought I would get to experience everything that I’m experiencing and I’m learning to be so grateful for the process. Learning to let go and let be and to be still is such a huge leap for me personally. And I can’t wait to be able to practice these same types of expectation-releasing and calm-breathing, self-loving vibes once my daughter is here. I really am, truly excited, I think perhaps I just need to give myself some time and some grace to process all off the emotional symptoms of pregnancy that not a whole lot of the baby books talk about.

You Don’t Have To Be a Vegan

Ramble On

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I guess haven’t had the time or focus to word vomit my thoughts onto the internet. It’s a topic that is close to my heart and has grown increasingly more important to me over the last year or so. I believe that diet is so important to having a healthy lifestyle and in being so a direct correlation to happiness and mental health as well. All of the information posted here is of my own opinion and from my own experience. I am in no way a health professional or a nutrition expert so please take this post with a grain of salt and do not look to me for life-altering changes. This is simply my take on my diet and how I choose to eat. Your life is your responsibly. With that said, let’s get into what has been brewing in my head and in my heart for so long.

I decided to stop eating most meats around 2014. I say most meats because I continued (and still occasionally) eat fish. The technical term for this type of diet is pescatarian. The choice to move to this type of diet I believe was mainly due to exposure to people in my life who were completely vegan. I saw how they ate and had many conversations with them about why they chose the diet they did. It got my wheels turning. I never really enjoyed eating meat. Sure, a steak now and then was okay, but it wasn’t something I craved, and I think cooking chicken was more of a habitual convenience than a diet choice. I was raised having and slaughtering livestock for food. The graphic images of this have stuck with me for life and was also another huge reason I stopped eating meat paired with my love for animals. Lastly, and I think the main reason I stopped, was due to all of the new information coming out about the meat industry. People were researching where our food was coming from and finding that it wasn’t as clean or maybe even as safe as we thought it was. All of this put together just clicked for me. I didn’t want to be a part of something that hurt animals, but I also didn’t want to jeopardize my own health by ingesting food that could be tainted with chemicals or bad juju.

Jumping forward to today, I guess I would still be considered pescatarian, as I occasionally eat fish. I say occasionally because most of the time now when I eat it is when there is no other solid protein source available (such as going out to eat or being invited to a friend’s house for dinner), or if we catch the fish ourselves while camping and eat it while on vacation. I have cut out most of the dairy in my diet, again, only eating occasionally or when there’s no other option. Alternatively, I purchase almond milk for cooking and consuming at home, as well as the wide variety of non-dairy cheeses available at pretty much any grocery store these days. I also still eat eggs, however I only purchase cage-free organic eggs and hope to have my own chickens soon to source eggs from (I plan on doing a more educational post on why I still eat eggs in the future). So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel like in order to get into the conversation I want to start, it’s better to know where I’m coming from. I don’t want to seem like I come from a place of judgement. And, I suppose, that’s really my reason for this entire post.

Let’s stop judging each other for what we eat, and let’s start encouraging each other to do better.

No, I am not vegan, but I do eat like a vegan as often as possible. Do I call myself a vegan? No. Do I call myself a vegetarian? No. Why do I need to call myself anything? I think the biggest problem with the whole vegan label is the idea that we have to limit ourselves right away (and limit everyone else) to actually make a difference. You have to start somewhere, and that’s okay. This is why I include my journey in the beginning of this post. I think it’s so important to show people that it can be a transition. And it doesn’t even have to be this extreme! I mean, it’s not really extreme at all, but it can be simplified even more. And I think this is important because people are naturally afraid of change. Change can be scary, so sometimes it’s easier to process when we start small. I think that putting these big over-arching labels on things makes the plant-based community feel hard to reach. And we need to make it more inclusive if we want to see real change. Let’s get into easy ways that you can creep into being more plant-based and start making changes that are easy to accept but also easy to grow from.

Meatless Mondays

The first and probably one of the most popular ways to become more plant-based is starting with Meatless Mondays. This is where you take one day out of the week to eat completely meat-free (and hopefully dairy-free too!). I think this is a great option for people who have never really considered eating vegetarian or vegan diets before. It’s a small step into a big world and makes for a great opportunity to research recipes, ingredients and different ways of cooking without throwing your whole life into a whirlwind. Still too much change? Start with plant-based dinners on Mondays. This way it’s only one meal once a week while still giving you a great opportunity to try new things and hopefully spark bigger changes.

Small Ingredient Swaps

Another great way to make small changes in your diet is to pick one specific item or ingredient that you could start living without. For example, instead of drinking or using cow milk you switch to almond milk. This is a small change that could grow into something larger in time but still make a small difference. It’s also a great opportunity to try new plant-based ingredients and give yourself a way to figure out what you like in case you decide to take a bigger plunge. Don’t care for almond milk? That’s fine. There’s also soy milk, cashew milk and oat milk to name a few. Another great and easy ingredient swap? Switching ground beef for plant-based crumbles. There are many different brands now that offer such a substitute and I find that most taste just as good, if not better than ground beef.

Plant-Based Meal Swaps

I think this is probably one of the most fun ways to try plant-based changes and a great way to get friends and family involved too. Take turns hosting dinner nights (or just swapping meals or recipes) and sharing your favorite plant-based recipes. I know that this has been huge in my circle with showing people that plant-based meals don’t have to be boring or only filled with vegetables (although those are my favorite *wink*). Have friends that already eat plant-based? Ask them about helping you find options and making changes! I’m sure they’d be happy to help you along or invite you to dinner to see what great and healthy meals you might be missing.

These are just a couple of the ways you can start making a difference. If you’re interested in hearing more, let me know in the comments below.

We don’t all have to be vegan right now. If we can all commit to starting somewhere and making small changes we can all start to make a difference.

MelissaRose

Final 2019 Resolutions Check-In

2019 Resolutions

With 2019 coming to a rapid close, it’s time for one last review of how my resolutions went throughout the year. Overall, I think I did fairly well and I am happy at how this blog held me accountable and helped me stick to my goals. It has also helped me shape new goals for 2020, which I will post in another couple days or so. And so, for 2019, here’s how things went…

Resolution #1: Keep Blogging. I kicked butt at this one. I posted more things, and tried more new things, than I think I ever have. Or maybe it just felt that way because I was documenting most of it haha. I continued to blog so much so that I actually still enjoy it… whaaaa. This makes me very excited for 2020 as I have some cool ideas in the works that I will be posting here, such as new tutorials, new recipes and a few other random thoughts that I will be putting into new sections here on Thistle + Rose Studios.

Resolution #2: Two Week Detox. Obviously, this was over a long, long time ago (the first two weeks of 2019), but has inspired me to complete a total month of sobriety (and no smoking) to begin 2020. I will be doing a Dry January and from that incorporating some fun projects and classes to keep myself occupied and motivated. Stay tuned for more posts on this, and let me know if you want to join in on the challenge!

Resolution #3: 2019 The Year of No New Things. I’ll admit, I was better at this one for the first six months of 2019 rather than the last half. But hey, I think I’ve still done pretty good. I think I can actually remember each new thing I’ve bought which means, to me anyway, that I haven’t bought that much. I also still pretty much feel like everything I bought was necessary to buy new, but maybe you can tell me if you agree. I bought a vacuum cleaner, a new hat from Nashville (which was actually a reward for making it 6 months without buying anything new), 2 pairs of shoes (one for casual and work needs the other for the gym – it can be really tough to find good shoes at the thrift store for specific purposes), a dining room table (which is probably my second favorite purchase next to my hat), and a couple of souvenirs while in Hawaii (I’ve never actually looked for thrift in Hawaii… might have to do that next time). Overall, I’d say I did pretty well. For 2020, I’d like to keep this idea alive, while also spending LESS time and money thrifting and allowing myself to buy things I need in the higher price ranges to get them at a higher level of quality. For example, new jeans are tough for me to find at the thrift store and I may need new jeans this year, so I might allow myself to spend $100+ on a nice new pair. All in all, I think this resolution is a good one to follow all year and every year. It’s further shown me the value of purchasing secondhand as well as showing me that I don’t need as much as I think I do.

Resolution #4: Sustainability Through Food. This resolution was another that was better at the first 6 months than the last. This is partly due to weather. I had a spring/summer garden but failed to put together a winter garden. Also, my spring summer garden did okay, but not great, I think mostly due to weird weather and late rains here in California. Overall though, I am proud of myself and I learned alot. I am looking forward to using this knowledge to start some seeds here within the next couple months. I am also proud of the progress I made with making food at home. Up until the holidays I was kicking butt at doing meal prep, making dinners at home and eating all of our leftovers. It saved us a ton of money but it also cut down on a TON of our food waste. I am also proud to say that I have learned many, many new things about preparing vegan food, and have posted many of my newfound recipes here. I was even able to create an entire vegan Thanksgiving meal from scratch. I hope to do an entire post on this in Fall 2020. I did not do as well as I had hoped at not having our groceries delivered, but I think I am ready to succumb to the convenience. Having a full-time job plus numerous side hustles and trying to cook all food at home while going to the gym and maintaining a social life is busy. So I think it’s okay that I have groceries delivered more often than not. It gives me time to worry about more important things and it’s only $5 which to me is worth the time I’m saving by not having to make a trip to the grocery store.

Resolution #5: Take Better Care of Your Body. This resolution overall has been challenging at times, but overall so good! I think the most difficult part is finding a balance between living a more healthy lifestyle versus trying to implement a completely new habit like going to the gym every day. I’ve learned that it’s okay to substitute a trip to the gym with a long walk outside, or to do a class at home on Youtube. As long as I am doing something active every day it doesn’t have to be the gym. I think this will come in especially handy in the first few months of January since the gym will most likely be jam-packed with new people trying to kickstart their resolutions. I am looking forward to finding more ways to be active outside versus inside and to involve my dogs more too since they love to be active with me. I’ve also started taking and selling supplements through Arbonne which have been making me feel great. The probiotics and dietary supplements have shown me the most results and have me feeling better than I have in a long time. I also enjoy using their protein shakes as a breakfast (and have been using them since November now) and find it a great alternative to not eating breakfast like I was doing before. I find myself with more energy throughout the day and I tend to sleep better too. If you’re interested in finding out more about these products, let me know or you can browse on shop on your own using this link here.

Overall, 2019 has been a great year of lessons and finding what’s important to me. With only one day of the year left, I am excited to build new goals and formulate new resolutions to further enrich and improve my life. I also look forward to continuing to maintain this blog and share my experiences. 2020 is only a day away, and the best is yet to come.

Ramble On // Being Grateful

Ramble On

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So I’m sitting here scrolling through Facebook (which I actually hate doing, and I have no idea why I get sucked into it – WHY?!) and I CONSTANTLY see people complaining. Whether it be passive aggressive complaining with the vague posts about how “someone” is feeling like they don’t matter because they aren’t getting enough attention (I wonder who that could be…) or just straight up “i hate my life” complaining. You would think this would give me one more reason to stay out of this life-suck of an app, but no. WHY does everyone feel the need to post these sentiments on their Facebook for the whole world to see?? That could actually be another post entirely, but what I always seem to ask myself is why are all these people so dang unhappy? Why do they have so much to complain about? And personally, I think it all goes back to one simple truth – You will NEVER find happiness until you learn to be grateful.