Wednesday, March 21, 2018

HOW TO BE A GOOD MOM



Today when I picked my youngest up from her day care, she was looking out the window as I walked up the steps on the porch.  Her enormous smile and utter joy at seeing me nearly undid me.

I haven't felt like the greatest mom as of late.  I've been distracted by some things, been snappy and raising my voice far too often, been having too many take out nights, because I simply cannot get it together to make dinner.

I don't measure up to the ideal we mamas tend to compare ourselves with.  I don't make gourmet snacks.  Heck, it's all I can do to get dinner on the table most nights.  I don't have the perfect house, and you can bet that on any given day, there are three loads of laundry waiting to be folded and put away.   I don't play with my kids enough.  I don't know the best way to positively discipline my child or how best to handle the never-ending sibling fighting.  I don't want to spend every waking moment with my kids.  I don't always make them brush their teeth or care what they wear to school.  I don't have any of the answers and I certainly don't have it all together.

But mama, that smile told me everything I do.  I love that girl with my whole heart and to her I am the greatest person in the whole world.

Even when I got frustrated with her the other day when she refused with a capital R to get into her carseat.  Even when we are battling it out over the terrible twos (or forty-ones).  Even when she breaks my new chair.  Even when I feed her cheerios day after day for breakfast because we are in a rush.  Even when she makes me so mad that I see red.

To her, I am her stability and her safe place.  I am her comfort and her joy.  I am a good mom,  because I love her unconditionally, and she knows that and loves me back.

Mama, we beat ourselves up so much and feel like a failure way too often.  But that's on us, not them.

The ideal mom doesn't exist.

She is a conglomeration of many, many women we see and no one person can do all that she does and do it well.   Why in the world do we measure ourselves against a fictional being?  She's not real, and her ideal is completely unattainable.

Here's what I've started telling myself. That mom that makes homemade organic everything?  Maybe her house is a mess.  That mom with the gorgeously decorated and immaculate house?  Maybe she doesn't spend much face to face time with her kids.  That mom that is always taking her kids on adventures?  Maybe she goes through the drive-thru on her way home because she's too spent to make dinner.

I think that everyone just has to choose where they most want to spend their time and what they're most passionate about.  One is not more right than the other, but we just can't go around thinking that everyone else is perfect at it all.  That is a complete and total lie.

So mama, that little boy or girl doesn't care one iota where you grocery shop, if their room is Pinterest-worthy, or that you screw up sometimes and have to apologize. They don't care if your body bounced back after having a baby or if you are a size 4 or 24.  The dimples on your thighs don't mean anything to them, but they sure do notice the dimples on your cheeks when you smile at them.

We think we are failing them, and they think we hung the moon.  

There's quite a disparity there, don't you think?

I asked my 8 year old yesterday what makes her feel most loved, and I'm just going to go ahead and say that I think her answer is a pretty fail-proof list for your child to feel like you are a good mom:

  1. When you spend time with me, especially one-on-one.
  2. When you snuggle me in bed at night.
  3. When you read to me. 
Then I asked her if there was anything she'd want to change about my parenting.  She quietly said, "You yell a lot more than you used to."  Mic drop.   She's so right.  You know what makes me yell?  Unrealistic expectations of myself that then get transferred on to my kids.  I'm yelling because I feel like a failure and a fraud and them fighting or being late for school or making a mess while they build a fort in the living room feels like a confirmation to me and highlights the fact that I can't meet the expectations I place on myself of having perfect kids, perfect image, perfect home.

They don't want perfection, they just want more of us.  They want us to spend time with them and cheer them on in their first steps and comfort them in their first disappointments.  They want us to read a book and cuddle them a little longer.  They want to see joy on our faces when we see them first thing in the morning.

My guess is that you are probably doing all these things already, but just don't realize that what feels insignificant and simple impacts their world the most.  We are allowing our fear of getting it wrong to overshadow the amazing things we are doing right.

Mama, you are doing a good job.  You are loving with your whole heart and you are lighting up a little one's life.   You are doing your very best with what you have to raise them well.  You are giving your all.

Will you give yourself grace in all this?  Will you watch their face light up when they see you?  Will you notice that you are the one they come to when they've scraped a knee?  Will you recognize when they want to be picked up for the umpteenth time today it isn't to annoy you, it's because they feel best when they are close to you?  Will you let go of your unrealistic expectations of yourself?  Will you discover that you are the meaning of home to them?

Will you understand that the only viewpoint that matters in your worth and value as a mom is that of your child's?

What is the true measure of a mom?  The look of joy when they see you through the window. 

Today I felt like a good mom.  A really good mom.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

TINY UPRISINGS RETREAT INFO AND DETAILS 2018



Friends, the time has come!!!!

The Tiny Uprisings Retreat is back for another round.  Well, actually two!

The response was overwhelming last year, and it is so apparent that there is a clear need here for women to have a weekend like this.  So, I've decided to open both a spring and fall retreat this year, 16 spots in each.  They will essentially be the same retreat - same program, same place - just basically an opportunity for more women to get to come.   32 women instead of just 16?  Heck yeah! 

Women are constantly taking care of everyone in their lives and putting themselves in last place. That's just not good enough. You know how on an airplane, the flight attendant says to secure your oxygen mask first before helping someone else with theirs? Here's your oxygen mask, sister.

I'm carving out space for you that is so desperately needed, and taking all the legwork out of this for you.  All you have to do is show up.

This retreat is created simply to be a restful place for the weary mom just needing a break and a full night's sleep, the busy woman who hasn't had any time to reflect and process, the girl who desperately needs some love, a glass of wine, and Jesus all meshed into one weekend. It is created to be a place where you are served and lifted up, where you don't have to lift a finger, where beauty surrounds you, where you are celebrated and encouraged, and where you are given some time to learn and reflect and figure out how to apply those insights to your life.


I asked the women last year (in an anonymous survey) to describe the retreat in one word.  These were their responses: 

VALUABLE : AMAZING : CENTERING : REFRESHING : LIFE-GIVING


And here are some comments (also from the anonymous survey) from two of last years participants:
This was exactly what I wanted...a retreat with Christian women that was more intimate, more vulnerable, easier to make solid new relationships and build on the old ones, more fun and less scheduled, but still left me with my bucket and my toolbox filled. 
I loved the workshop + time to reflect. It really really really helped me understand myself in a way that gave me strength and courage I so desperately needed right now. And I feel like the quiet time and strength has lasted...
In case you are wondering what this actually looks like in real life, you can see pictures and read my post about last year's retreat HERE and a few more words from last year's participants HERE

If you need some of that in your life, sign up!!  

Registration for both sets of dates opens Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 at 9 pm Pacific.  

Just choose the dates that work best for you and click on that through the registration button at the bottom of this post starting at 9 pm on the 14th.  Things went down fast and furious last year (the event was totally booked in a matter of hours), so don't wait.  Get those kids in bed and get after it!   

I hope to see you there!
xoxo,
Amy

 



TINY UPRISINGS RETREAT
May 4-6, 2018 or September 28-30, 2018
Orondo, WA
$220.00


DATES and TIMES
The retreat will officially kick off on Friday at 7pm and come to a close on Sunday at 11am. 

LOCATION
Y'all.  THIS is where we will be staying.

We will be retreating to Orondo, WA, roughly 3 hours from Seattle but so worth the drive! Sunken Acres is absolutely beautiful. The house has 4 bedrooms (one of which has an additional loft with a queen bed), as well as a bunk room with 6 twin bunkbeds, and 3 and a half bathrooms. It boasts a warm swimming pool and is lakefront with amenities such as stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. There simply isn't a better place to be!

You can check out more photos of the house HERE.


COST
The total cost for the retreat is $220. 
That includes a two night stay at this gorgeous house, as well as food for the weekend - appetizer/snacks, drinks, 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 big glorious dinner party, all prepared for us by the amazing Kelsie Crozier.  You won't lift a finger here, I promise.  It also includes two morning sessions, a workshop, retreat take-home materials, and all the amazing stuff we are going to do!
Cancellations (with a full refund) must be made at least 30 days prior to the retreat. 
And if cost feels prohibitive to you, but you would really like to come, please email me at tinyuprisings@gmail.com BEFORE registration opens. I may be able to provide you with a discount code for a subsidized cost or scholarship.


SAMPLE SCHEDULE

FRIDAY EVENING
You will be welcomed with open arms, handed a yummy beverage, served heavy appetizers and dessert, and basically given the space to just exhale after arriving and leaving behind the craziness that probably ensued as you left your house. Once everyone arrives, we will have a group introduction session and opening encouragements for the weekend.

SATURDAY
We serve breakfast on a rolling basis, so whether you are an early bird or a late riser, breakfast is waiting for you. We start the day with a morning devotion/speaker, linking into a workshop. We value both social and solitary time at the retreat and provide space for quiet reflection time after the workshop, as well as encourage you to take it as needed. Lunch is served, and then after lunch, everyone has free time to do whatever they want - relax by the pool, continue reflection time, play on the lake, sleep in the sun, go for a run, read a book, etc. At 7 pm, we will come back together to a big, glorious dinner party with amazing food, drink, laughs, and conversation.

SUNDAY
Sunday morning again starts with a yummy breakfast and a short lesson followed by group discussion time based on yesterdays workshop and reflection time. We will finish up around 11 am and send you on your way hopefully feeling rested and empowered to dive back into life.



Here is last year's schedule for reference.  We may have a few tweaks this year, but the general flow of things will remain the same, and as always, I encourage each woman to make this retreat exactly what they need. 




JOIN ME

So, who's with me????   I have spots for 16 people for spring and 16 for fall.  It's first come, first served, so set an alarm or reminder for yourself and sign up as soon as registration goes live!  The link will not work prior to that time. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 9 pm Pacific  

The direct link to register is https://tinyuprisings.eventbrite.com.  I'll also post the link on Instagram (@amysteingard) and the Tiny Uprisings Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tinyuprisings/). 

Hope you can come!! 
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Thursday, December 14, 2017

HONORED TO HAVE MY WORDS SHARED...

Hello?   Is this thing still on??  

I popped on hear today to share some news with you and then realized my last post was way back in September!  Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere...life has just been full of other projects, sick kids, and prepping (way too intensely) for some speaking gigs.  Hi, my name is Amy and I'm an over-preparer! 🙋  

I'm so honored to tell you that I have a post published today over on www.ambersalhus.com about authenticity, fear, and what keeps us from following our dreams. 




This post was a labor of love for me, wrestling through the truth and preaching to myself as I wrote it.  Here's a little snippet...


Those things that we claim hold us back, that’s just life, and, frankly, life has wisdom of it’s own. Life and, most specifically, our imperfections are what makes us endlessly fascinating.  Kathryn Craft explains this better than I ever can, “[Life] dumps s— on you and stirs you up until your soil is fertile.  Accept the challenge and plant some seeds. This is how artists grow.” 
While I let my circumstances erroneously justify my lack of action, the common denominator here is me.
What really what holds me back is my own fear.  It’s that question of who am I to…? It’s feeling like a fraud and afraid of being exposed.  It’s feeling like I don’t know enough, have enough, or am enough.
Click HERE to read more...




Monday, September 11, 2017

GUILT, FREEDOM, SPACE, DREAMS, AND LIFELINES



This morning, my two bigs went to school (first day of kindergarten, woo hoo!).   I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to feel right now.  I saw moms get teary as they waved goodbye to their little kindergarteners getting swallowed up by that great big school building.  I think maybe that's how I'll feel when the last one goes to school.  Maybe not.  I feel celebratory today.  I raised three kiddos capable of doing part of life without me by their side.  I feel thankful that we have such an amazing elementary school.  I feel relief at having some breathing room.  I feel hope at resurfacing pieces of myself that haven't had space for a long time.

And today also marked the first day I dropped Pippa at an at home day care for a few hours.  As a stay-at-home mom, I would have never done this with my older two kids.  I think I felt like I needed to be with them constantly and that I didn't have the right (self permission?) (confidence?) to leave them in someone else's care when I could be home with them.  

But here's what I want you to know.  Today feels a little weird, but today feels good.  I'm nervous about all my tiny humans out there in the big world, but I'm also celebrating in my heart.  This motherhood thing, it's hard work.  It's beautiful and powerful and fulfilling in a lot of ways, but it's the most challenging thing I've ever done in my whole life.   After 8 years of being a full time, stay-at home mom, I'm ready for a little break.  I know I've done my job, and though there have definitely been days that I would never want to re-live and moments I wish I could re-do, I know I've done my job well.   

I have carried around a lot of guilt as a mother.  Not the "you should potty train this way" or "let them cry it out" or "only feed them organic, paleo, from scratch foods".  Those things are definitely guilt inducing as well, but that's not what I'm talking about.  I feel a lot of guilt because, while I am very certain I am supposed to be at home and the primary caregiver for my children, I am not totally fulfilled by that.  The world tells me I should be and that, if I'm not, then the message I hear is, "Something is wrong with you."

About 4 years ago, I realized that I lived motherhood with a one foot in and one foot out mentality.  I had always been so afraid that I would be consumed by motherhood and that I would lose my own identity outside of that.  I wasn't necessarily doing anything to create an identity outside of my kids, but I stuck one foot on the other side of the line out of fear and planted myself firmly in this middle ground.

As I wrestled with my own insecurities and restlessness, I decided to try jumping in with both feet and really committing to this motherhood gig.  All in.  A year later, instead of feeling better about everything, I felt more restless than ever before.  And more guilty.

I deeply love my kids.  I don't regret having them.  They are the loves of my life.  I don't regret staying home with them.  I have felt passionately that I want and need to be here and have never felt like my calling was to go back to work full time.  

I do, however, regret not listening to my heart.  

I regret that I knew that I wasn't thriving and I wasn't at my best and that something was missing for me and not doing anything about it.  I definitely wanted to.  There were lots of tears and lots of exhaustion and even bits of rage, but I think the hardest part for me was that I didn't know what I was supposed to do.   I didn't have a "career" to go back to part time or a skill set to really work from home.

I didn't want to just have a job, I wanted to do meaningful work.  I wanted to be creative and have an outlet of some sort that would be fulfilling to me, but it's really hard to give yourself permission to do that when you know it's not paying anything and in fact, you are actually paying to do it because child care isn't cheap, am I right?

But I know I'm supposed to do more.  I'm created to do more, and even though I'm not exactly sure what that is, I feel it deep in my bones.  Being a mom is one of my favorite things in the world, but it is not all for me.  

I had a really clear image in my head a few years ago.  It was a hot air balloon with the burner blazing full force.  The balloon was so full of hot air it was ready to burst, and it was trying so hard to fly.  But it's ropes were still tethered to the ground.  It strained against these ropes and could not break free.  It could only go as far as the ropes would allow.    

I understood that the hot air balloon is me.  Trying to fly.  Trying to move beyond the life I'm in. The ropes are my kids, my husband, my home.   I felt so bound by them.  So limited in a lot of ways.  I felt angry and bitter and resentful.  

Friends, I have no idea what I'm doing right now, but I do know that I'm going to spend some hours filling my tank every week.  I'm letting go of any guilt of my two year old spending some time at day care while I'm at home.  I'm going to allow myself time and space to create some things, write some things, paint some things, move some things and see what happens.  I'm going to figure out what meaningful work looks and feels like to me.  I'm going to deem it a success if not one person gets anything out of it other than me.  Because if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  

If you are feeling stuck, I understand.  If you are feeling tied down,  I understand.  If you feel held back,  I understand. If you are feeling guilty for your feelings,  I understand.  If you feel like you don't fit the mold and something is off, I understand.

May you give yourself freedom and space and permission to do some things you love if for no other reason than it makes you happy.  

We are not martyrs here.  We are women with dreams and loves and ideas AND kids.  I used to think those things were mutually exclusive.  They are not.  

The more that I'm doing this, the more my perspective shifts.  I'm still that hot air balloon, and I still want to fly.  But those ropes, maybe they aren't working against me.  Maybe they are anchors, securing me to a safe place while allowing me to fly high and see things from different viewpoint. Maybe they fill me up and show me more and more the truth and the good and surprising things about myself.  

Maybe they are actually lifelines.  




*I sent this song to my husband the weekend of the retreat.  He was my biggest encourager and support when I totally stepped out of my comfort zone to do this thing.  I'm reminded of it as I type these words today.  Maybe it'll resonate with you too...

Click here to listen →  Anchor by Mindy Gledhill










Thursday, July 20, 2017

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FEARLESS WARRIOR



A man just sat down next to me in the coffee shop.  I didn't notice him at first, not until his body odor reached my nostrils.  I sat up straighter and eventually stole a sideways glance at him.  His hair, matted; his clothes, dirty.  In front of him sits a steaming shot of espresso.  At $2.15, it's the cheapest thing Starbucks sells.  

I am in this moment acutely aware of the privileged life I lead.  That I'm paying $80 for a babysitter right now, plus another $5 for the overpriced coffee in front of me, so that I can type words on a screen that may or may not be important to anyone besides myself.  

It seems he's come here to charge his phone.  

I have come here to charge my heart, but instead have wallowed here at my circular table and down internet trails. I have questioned my value, ability, and direction in the span of a few hours and written zero words on a page because when you question your value, ability, and direction there's not much to write.  

He's leaving now.  He shuffle/limped to the trash/recycle/compost area and took a moment to decide where to deposit his cup.  I'm surprised by this for some reason.  A beige trench coat is draped over one arm as he exits the building on this summer day. I wonder how he got here in life.  I have no idea where he will go next.  I wonder if he knows.

The truth is, though, that I have no idea where I'm going either.  I have every single thing I could ever need, a beautiful family, a lovely home, and yet my heart feels homeless sometimes.  I don't really know what I'm doing in life.  Does anyone?  Do you?  

I'm inspired by people who seem to know who they are.  They are confident in what makes them unique and live fully into that.  They build businesses and lives out of the sheer fabric of themselves, and it's motivating and paralyzing at the same time.  

What if my fabric is not worth sewing?  

I'm learning, however, that this war with myself is bigger than me.  It's something that every person faces in time.  But it often feels like a pretty lonely and misunderstood place.  It's a place that not many of us are brave enough to talk about, but we all experience.  

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the life we want to live.  What stands between the two is fear, doubt, resistance.  

Stephen Pressfield writes in The War of Art, "Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work...Resistance is always lying and always full of shit."  

Amen to that.  

The other thing he said that has been pushing me forward right now is this, "Resistance will unfailingly point to true North - meaning that call or action it most wants us to stop doing. We can use this.  We can use it as a compass.  We can navigate by resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others."  

When we question and doubt, the misunderstanding people in our lives might think, "We are here again?" with an internal eye roll.  But this resistance is an unrelenting force. It is a battle that must be fought every single day in order to win the war.  Each morning brings new resistance and new fear that must be slain.

If you feel this resistance and want to give up, I beg of you to press on.  If you are asking yourself, "Who am I?  Am I really a writer or artist or good mother or strong businesswoman?" chances are you already are.  Those with total confidence are the counterfeits among us.   The real ones are scared to death.  

You have no idea how much peace that gives me.  I've been scared to death my whole life of the things I'm trying to do.  I always thought there was something wrong with me; I think other people did too.   The truth is though, that I'm fighting a unrelenting battle on this earth to live into the life that I'm supposed to, and I always will be.  

I feel compelled to say today that if you are afraid, unsure, unravelling, or paralyzed, I get it. I get you. I am unfortunately a master of self-sabotage, and have committed treason on myself more times than I can count. 

There is no such thing as a fearless warrior.  What matters most, though, is not living without fear; it's facing the fear with trembling hands and punching it in the face.  

This place of fear.  This place where you are stuck is not the end.  It is the middle.   

There is no way out, only through.  

The middle is hard, y'all.  The middle is where we give up.  The middle feels like treading water, and we can't see the distant shore.  But the middle is the place of transformation...it's the whole point.  It's where we decide to sink or swim, to make life a daring adventure or numb ourselves right out.  

Please don't stop in the middle.  We are meant to experience the middle like a butterfly is meant to experience the struggle of emerging from it's chrysalis.  Without the struggle, it can't fly.  Neither can you.  

If you've been waiting, comparing, and making excuses, stop.  Stop waiting.  Stop comparing.  Stop making excuses.  Just go and do that thing.  Even if it's hard.  Even if you're scared.  Everything you want lies on the other side of your fear.  And believe me, I'm preaching to the choir here.  

It takes intense heat to refine precious metal, intense pressure to make a diamond, intense irritation to create a pearl.  Our transformation is no different.  

I'd rather be the diamond than the lump of coal.  You?




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