Monday, 28 September 2015

Not All Friendships Are Forever

Making new friends as an adult is a lot like dating. The first time you get together on your own you may go out for coffee. Then you exchange some texts. Maybe you have dinner or go see a movie. You chat about what you have in common and see if you "click". With a little luck, you've found someone who will be significant in your life. You slowly build your tribe.

So it's no surprise that ending a friendship as an adult also feels similar to leaving a relationship. You stop talking to each other, you disconnect on social media, you move on. You essentially "break up".


I can't pinpoint exactly the moment things went awry. There wasn't a big blowout or fight that ended it all. It just became clear that our values and interests weren't the same anymore. A tension was growing. I kept hoping that this shift in our fault lines would somehow blow over and things would go back to the way they were. This was a friend I had loved dearly for years. But things were not ok, and it was time to stop pretending that they were. Eventually, I made a clear decision to back away from the friendship.

It was very difficult. I worried that my family and other close friends would think I was giving up. I certainly didn't want our mutual friends to feel uncomfortable. However, I knew I had to do it in order to restore balance in my life.

There have been 2 or 3 times in my adult life I feel I've had to consciously end a friendship. It seems so juvenile to talk about doing this as an adult, yet it must be a sign of growth. That you're learning more about who you are and who you need in your life.



It's a lifelong quest for all of us. How do we surround ourselves with friends we love and who love us back? It takes time to grow friendships as we build confidence and trust. And when we find those few friends with whom we do "click", it's beautiful.

Sometimes things happen. Maybe it's one person's fault. Maybe it's not. If there's one constant in life, it's that it changes all the time.

We would never encourage anyone to stay in a romantic relationship that had become extremely negative, and we shouldn't stand for anything less with our friendships. A good friend is as essential as breathing. This we know for sure. In the same vein, a toxic friendship is damaging to our health.

Elizabeth Gilbert calls it surrendering. When you come to the end of your power. 

It's not easy to end a friendship. Messages are misunderstood; feelings inevitability get hurt. But I can say that afterwards, you will feel lighter and happier. I thought there was going to be this huge hole in my life, but I was wrong. Making this decision created room in my life. For my family. For old friends. For new friends. For me.

I'm sad for the way things turned out, and I try to look back and remember the good parts of our friendship instead of focusing on the end. But it's time to move on. Channel our inner Elsa and let it go.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 21 September 2015

Sex After Baby - Ten Things You Can Do Today to Get Your Mojo Back {Guest Post}


We're doing it. We're going to talk about sex after baby. Let me be the first to say that the infamous 6 week checkup post-baby doesn't mean a damn thing. I refuse to believe that I am the only one that preferred sleep to sex for a good, long while after we brought home our newborn from the hospital.

So, without feeling like you need to from 0 to 50 Shades of Grey, what's a mama (or papa) to do? To help us out, I've brought in an expert. I'm so excited to welcome my friend Kim and her sister, Amy,  from Red Tent Sisters. They've put together a list of 10 tips and 4 books to help you get your groove back when you've lost that lovin' feeling. Welcome, Kim and Amy!


Whether you’re navigating parenthood, suffering from the effects of hormonal birth control, or experiencing an unexplained libido mismatch with your partner, having a low sex drive can be frustrating at best and a relationship crusher at worst. Before you throw up your arms and turn to pharmacological solutions (with a whole host of their own side effects) consider implementing some of the natural solutions below.

1. Get the ball rolling. While we don’t want to suggest doing something you don’t want to, sometimes it can be helpful to just get started (as long as there’s no pressure to continue). You may find that after reading some erotica, listening to some sultry tunes, or making out with your partner that you’re in the mood to take it further. Or maybe not. That’s the key – to make sure it’s about staying in the moment rather than focusing on a particular end goal.

2. Make sure the sex you are having is pleasurable. It’s a lot easier to get excited about getting it on when you know it’ll be good for you. You may have heard about the statistic that 70% of women need some kind of clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. If you’re in that category, we highly recommend including activities like oral sex and manual stimulation, and/or using a vibe.

3. Get movin’ and groovin’. Exercise can do wonders for your mood (hello endorphins!). Activities like walking, yoga and pilates are especially helpful for boosting your libido because they increase blood flow to the pelvis. If you don’t currently have an exercise practice, we suggest starting small.  For instance, we do a series of stretches three times a day that only take about five minutes (they help pass the time while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil). Our office mates get a kick out of us turning the lunchroom into our own personal yoga studio ;)

4. Soak up some sun. Ever notice you feel friskier in the summer than the winter? There’s a reason for that - Vitamin D! Vitamin D is a pro-hormone (meaning it’s used to build hormones in our body) so a deficiency can cause a number of problems, including a lower sex drive. Researchers estimate that about 75% of us aren’t getting enough Vitamin D naturally, so to compensate we recommend taking a supplement.

5. Cook up some libido-boosting foods. Stuffing yourself with oysters won't magically supercharge your libido, but dietary changes can make a big difference. In general a whole foods diet that is low in sugar, alcohol and caffeine (which we should be doing anyway, right?) is the way to go. You'll also want to add a few foods to your diet that can help to balance your sex hormones. Get some inspiration with this free PDF of 5 libido boosting foods.

6. Catch some Zzzs. If you have trouble getting to sleep, you’re not alone. A survey found that 8.6 million Americans are taking sleeping pills (and the majority of those are women).  To help get a better night sleep naturally, we suggest ensuring your room is dark. Amy got blackout curtains and it made a huge difference, or you could try a sleep mask. More serious sleep difficulties are usually hormonally related and/or caused by nutrient deficiencies (like magnesium). Consult your health practitioner or for support if you suffer from chronic insomnia.

7. Unplug, literally. Your bed should be for sleeping (and getting it on!) not checking email. We suggest leaving phones and laptops outside the bedroom so that you can focus on your partner, not your cranky boss.

8. Send a sexy text to your sweetie (or get them to send one to you). When Kim coaches clients and friends on their sex lives she often uncovers a mismatch in expectations. One partner may have spent the day getting revved up thinking about sexy scenarios for when they get home, while the other may have been dreaming about spending the evening in sweats in front of the TV. So when they meet up, their "heads" are in pretty different places. One way to help get on the same page is to send fun texts during the day detailing what you’d like to do when you see each other. Not only will this help make sure you have the same vision for the night, but it also helps build anticipation and arousal.

9. Meditate. There’s no question that stress is a serious libido killer. It’s hard to get in the mood when your mind is focused on work, money, and your mile-long to-do list. Plus, stress impacts our hormones. If you only choose to implement one thing on this list, we highly recommend you make it stress management. Personally we’ve found meditation to be the most effective tool. If you don’t have a meditation practice and you’re looking for inspiration, check out the app Stop Breathe and Think.

10. Know your cycle. If you are menstruating, knowing your cycle is an important tool in understanding your libido. Many of Amy’s clients (and their partners) refer to the post-ovulatory phase of their cycle as the “drought season.” This phase of the cycle has naturally lowered testosterone and decreased lubrication. This means it can be less comfortable to have sex, and take longer to get aroused. By tracking your cycle you’ll have a better sense of how your libido naturally waxes and wanes, and you and your partner can plan accordingly. If you’re on hormonal birth control, you may want to consider ditching it, since a lot of research shows that hormonal contraception (ironically!) has a negative effect on libido.

BOOKS!




Here are some books that Kim recommends. I had no idea there were books specifically about sex for moms. That's totally new for me. Kim's favourite is the newly published Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski. Kim says, "Emily talks about the "dual control" of libido and how we all have an accelerator and brakes when it comes to our sex drive. Some of us have a more sensitive brake (things that turn us off) and some have a more sensitive accelerator (things that turn us on). Therefore, it's important to know whether you need to focus more on "turning the offs off" (body image, stress, etc.) or increasing the "ons" (sex toys, erotica, etc). It's incredibly well researched (you should see the list of references!) and yet also accessible so it doesn't feel like you're reading a textbook ;)"

That actually sounds super interesting to me, so I may check that one out. Here's the Chapters link to Come As You Are if you 're an Indigo fan like me!

Thank you so much Kim and Amy for sharing your expertise.
xo

PS - Kim and I are hoping to put together a Q & A type post next, so if you have any questions for her about this topic, or anything connected to sexual health, feel free to leave them in the comments below, or you can email me at asplendidmessylife@gmail.com or Kim at kim@redtentsisters.com. All of the questions will be anonymous.



Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.
Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Weekends are for Reading - New Fall Book Club on A Splendid Messy Life!

I have always had a love affair with reading. Remember those flimsy Scholastic book flyers from elementary school? When I saw the pile of those on the teacher's desk ready to be handed out, that was always my most favourite day. I would go home and circle all of the books I wanted to buy and negotiate with my parents which ones I was actually allowed to order. Lawrence Hill, Judy Blume, Nora Roberts, I love them all. I get butterflies just walking into Chapters.

I'm so excited to announce something new on the blog this fall. A book club! I love talking about books with my friends and family, and now we can talk about them together as well :) Reading is so amazing because it really is an escape. Even if you're reading non-fiction, it's time just for you. Just you, your favourite mug with some tea, and a book. Those moments aren't always easy to steal and create, but when you get them, they're delicious.


Earlier this week on Facebook, I took a poll of 4 different books to see what everyone would be interested in reading, and Mindy Kaling's new book Why Not Me? won by a landslide. It may not be the most conventional choice for a book club, but if that's what we're enthusiastic about, let's do it! I've already got my hands on a copy and can't wait to dive in. I loved her first book and am sure this one will be just as hilarious and honest.

We will be discussing the book here on the blog on Friday, October 16th. You don't need to be online at a certain time of day. Just come on over and check out the Why Not Me? Discussion Post and join in.





So, go grab a copy of Why Not Me? Buy it. Borrow it. Steal it from someone on the subway. (haha..don't really do that). I'm so excited about this, and I sincerely hope you join me reading something fun this fall.

xo
Jenn

Friday, 11 September 2015

Weekends are for Reading: Book Review of Inspector Dewey + A GIVEAWAY!

I could write a description of the book I'm reviewing this week, but I think it's better if you hear it right from the cat's mouth :)


My name is Dewey--Inspector Dewey.


I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but—miserable mullet!—would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

Inspector Dewey is a very adorable children's story. I really enjoyed the playful writing style, and I think the author did a wonderful job of creating "voices" for the cats in the story. While cat-lovers will undoubtedly love Inspector Dewey, I'd also say you don't need to be a cat-lover to love this book. This sweet story would be a wonderful addition to any child's library.

I also found it very interesting that this is somewhat based on a true story. The author, Kristen Heimerl, got the idea for Inspector Dewey after an encounter with an unexpected intruder. What a lovely way to turn a potentially terrifying situation into something so positive! Note - The book Inspector Dewey is not at all terrifying :)



The illustrator of Inspector Dewey is Irene Bofill. Her images are very charming and have a bit of a whimsical feeling. I really love that there is a clear colour theme for the book of blue, yellow, and white. Each page flows beautifully to the next.



Some of the vocabulary is probably a little better suited to school-aged children than toddlers, so I'm looking forward to reading this story more often when our little one is a bit bigger; however our three-year-old loved that there was cat named Lily in the story, because we also have a cat named Lily!

Overall, I think this is a really lovely children's book that would make a beautiful gift, especially for an animal-loving home.

And to make buying or gifting this book even sweeter, fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system. Learn more at www.threenorwegians.com

Inspector Dewey is available for purchase on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Barnes and Noble

Our Lily keeping watch after reading Inspector Dewey.
You can learn more about Inspector Dewey or find fun, free Inspector Dewey activities at his website. There are colouring pages, an Inspector Dewey Detective Kit, and more. You can also follow Inspector Dewey on his Facebook page.

Giveaway

iRead Book Tours and Kristen Heimerl have teamed up for a really amazing giveaway with over 15 different prizes!

Prizes: 
1) 1 of 10 copies of Inspector Dewey (open internationally)
2) 1 of 4 $20 Amazon gift cards (open internationally)
3) 5 books to be donated to the literacy non-profit, library, or school of your choice (USA only)
4) $100 payable for a vet visit for a family/pet in need (USA only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Raffelcopter widget isn't working, try this link and scroll down.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Mom Next Door Said "Freakin'" {Guest Post}

Today's post comes from Catherine at The UNperfect Family. I hope you love her post as much as I do. I have totally been that mom, the one envying the other moms on the street who seem to have it all together. The one in shock when someone things I have it all together. Catherine has a really wonderful story to share about exactly this.




I'm a young mom. I had my third child just after my 21st birthday. Because of my age, I tend to doubt my parenting abilities. I know I've made plenty of mistakes, and thanks to a combination of DNA and my inability to cope with normal situations, I'm fairly certain my children will need massive amounts of therapy later in life. But I do my best, I try to follow my heart and go with my instincts. Still, some days it just doesn't feel enough.

I see all these other moms who have it all together. Their children are well behaved, always nicely dressed, and their house is forever spotless. I gave up long ago trying to be that perfect mother, it's just not going to happen. But it doesn't stop me from wondering how they mange to do it. My neighbor is a prime example of this. She has twins about my oldest son's age, and an adorable 3 year old. They are so well behaved! The first week we moved here, the oldest boy came over and introduced himself, then asked if my son could come play. He had impeccable manners, and I just couldn't get over it. The 3 year old will play outside and never cross the invisible line of his property. They have several dogs and a busy lifestyle and their house is where all the neighborhood children seem to flock to. I watch in awe from my front porch as this mother handles it all so gracefully.

Why can't that be me?







So today, I sneaked out to the porch for a little quiet time. I could hear my children inside arguing, playing, doing anything but the chores they were assigned. I watched this mother across the street as she cleaned out her garage. She was purging everything in sight, the kids were helping, the dogs were quietly watching. I envied her. I have a hard time purging, and an even harder time getting my family to help. And I can't think of a single time my dog has ever sat outside, quietly observing the action.

Then it happened. She sent her son in for a marker as she continued to work. He came back several times asking where to look, what kind she wanted, why did he have to do it....he was sounding more and more like my own children. Clearly, she had enough of it.

"Just bring me a freakin marker!" she shouted from the driveway. My jaw hit the floor. This perfect mother whom I had admired from a distance for the past three years suddenly sounded just like me! She became frustrated at her child, and she lost it for a moment! It was the most glorious thing I'd ever witnessed!

Perhaps she wasn't the perfect mother I thought she was. Perhaps she was just like the rest of us, doing her best and occasionally losing it a bit. Perhaps I wasn't alone. Perhaps we are all battling this job of motherhood the only way we know how.

She went back to work, laughing with her children, none the wiser of my silent revelation across the street. But I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. The weight of all those perfect TV moms. The weight of a permanently clean house. The weight of perfect children.

I don't know about you, but I think my children are pretty darn perfect just the way they are. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if I dusted the ceiling fans or washed all the windows. What my children will remember is what we played together, how we laughed together, and the time spent cuddling together. I don't have to always have it together. My children are happy, healthy, well fed and cared for. And above all else, they are loved more than they will ever know.

So thank you, neighbor lady, for yelling "freakin" in a moment of weakness. It made my failures and moments of weakness seem so much more normal.

Do you ever feel like the worst mom ever? Do you envy those moms who have it all together? Could you possibly BE one of those moms? Or are you just another unperfect family like the rest of us? 

Catherine

Friday, 4 September 2015

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week



1. Having a really amazing camping trip with friends last weekend. It was the first time we slept in a tent as a family. S'mores, wine, campfires, and cute little boy faces made for a wonderful weekend.



2. Going back to work after summer break and seeing all of my co-workers again. Plus, planning for a really busy but fun upcoming school year!

3. Seeing the results of our family photo shoot. One of my favourites is above. We went with our favourite photographer to take some city-esque family photos over at the University of Toronto. So fun!

4. Taking Sebastian to his swim lesson. He loves swimming and his swimming lessons, so it's really fun to watch. And I get 20 minutes to read a bit in my book :)

5. Which brings me to....reading. I just can't seem to stop. I finished Summer Pleasures by Nora Roberts and have moved onto The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

6. This photo from Facebook.


7. The support of my blogging friends. The first real "negative thing" happened on my blog this week, and I was instantly supported by my fellow bloggers. People who I have never met in person sent me words of support and encouragement. I feel so grateful to be connected to them.

8. A happy mail day. Totally by surprise, a box of goodies arrived in the mail from Laurel Musical.  I Instagrammed it here. Included was a package of English Breakfast at Tiffany's Tea. And the tea is as delightful as its name.

9. Looking forward to a good run tomorrow morning!

10. An afternoon with mimosas and cupcakes celebrating a friend's birthday. Best way to begin a long weekend.

What was something that made you happy this week? Share it below! We could always use a little more happy stories in our day :)

xo
Jenn

This post is part of the 10 Things That Make Me Happy link up.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Long-Lasting Effects of Helicopter Parenting: An Infographic

You may remember that last month I wrote a post about helicopter parenting and mental health. Recently, Yellowbrick has created this comprehensive infographic that clearly lays out potential long-lasting effects from over-parenting our children. The Yellowbrick program specializes in the treatment of young adults dealing with psychological problems, so they know what they're talking about.

I want to share this infographic not to specifically knock down helicopter parents, but as a reminder that a key goal should be to build resilience and executive functioning in our children. We love our little ones, and it is completely understandable to want the best for them; however, we could be hindering their growth and development without even knowing it.

xo
Jenn


Helicopter Parenting and Its Long-Lasting Effects

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