Lifestyle & Blogging

Fostering a Love for the Environment

As a child of the late-80’s and 90’s, there was a huge push in my childhood to be conscious of how one’s actions impacted the environment. It was extremely formative to have Captain Planet, PSAs, and school lessons explaining the importance of the environment to me all the time.

I grew up hiking and going to outdoor classrooms where I was taught about leaving nature just as you saw it (or even cleaner), which is to say cleaning up after yourself and others on hikes. I learned to identify trees and bushes for their use in survival and the various diseases they endured due to a pest being introduced to the local environment.

My parents also taught me the importance of recycling, making my own toys, and appreciating nature (for my mother’s birthday every year we took a hike up a local mountain). As an adult, I have tried to maintain these good habits, but it hasn’t always been easy to be environmentally friendly all the time.

Confession of my Sins

I don’t believe in being preachy about anything on my blog, in fact, it’s extremely important to me that I present a balanced perspective on pretty much everything.

Discussion about the environment lends itself to moralizing and that’s not what I want, so this post is how we are attempting to foster a love for the environment, not that it must be done with each child. I recognize that we have certain advantages that makes this easier that may not be possible for everyone.

With that in mind, before I discuss all we do to teach Jai and try to foster a love of the environment, I am going to confess my personal sins in my non-environmentally friendly moments.

I will admit I have some bad habits when it comes to attempting to be environmentally friendly: we have a coffee-pod machine and we buy the pods that go with the machine instead of putting our own coffee in a reusable pod. I don’t use a reusable cup as much as I wish I did when I go out for coffee because it’s hard to take Jai out of the car at this point for a 2-minute trip.

I do toss things occasionally that probably could be recycled, but that’s because I get too busy to clean it up or deal with it in a proper manner. I also buy some things new out of convenience that I could probably purchase at a second-hand store.

I wanted to fess up to these sins because I am not able to be environmentally friendly 100% of the time. I am not someone who is capable of living a zero environmental footprint lifestyle. Rather, I want to show what an average person can do to be environmentally friendly with a toddler.

There’s only so much a person can do and the importance is doing what you can when you are able and not feeling guilty when you are not. What is important to me is that I raise Jai to be environmentally conscious so he will also be motivated to care for his patch of land when he’s old enough.

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Lifestyle & Blogging

In Memoriam

CW: Discussion of suicide, self-harm, and depression within this post. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please contact Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are in crisis, text CrisisTextLine to connect with a crisis counselor. You are not alone.


Yesterday, my heart broke. Someone I cared about took their own life.

It wasn’t a family member or anyone I personally knew, but my favorite fashion designer, Kate Spade. I hope a clearer picture of why she made this decision will come out as more information is made available, but it really hurts. I can’t even begin to imagine how her family feels in these first few days. For their sake, I hope they get some answers to help with the healing process.

It feels like 2016 all over again: the year where anyone famous I knew and loved died starting with Alan Rickman and ending with Carrie Fisher. While I grew up watching Carrie Fisher and listened to George Michael days before he died, they weren’t as pervasive in my day-to-day life like Kate Spade.

I was introduced to her designs over ten years ago, and while she had already sold her company at that point, it still carried her style and name. I was drawn to the simplicity and utility of her bags (you could spill coffee on one and easily wipe it off with no damage) and the color palette could go with almost any outfit. I also liked the relative affordability of her product; it’s still designer prices, but well within saving a paycheck or two for one of her bags.

I bought my first bag in 2009 and I still own it, pulling it out for the spring/summer seasons because of the pattern. It’s a timeless style which I love.

It was probably due to the company’s sale to Coach that caused her brand to explode into the wider market. Until that point, I had to go to her official store or outlet to purchase her products, but I started finding Kate Spade in higher-end department stores and the big online retailer much to my wishlist’s appreciation.

With greater accessibility, I was able to buy something for all aspects of my life: jewelry, watches, pens, pencils, cups, mugs, stationery, phone cases, and more. If you’ve met me, you know that I have something Kate Spade on my person at all times. My wishlist is filled with various everyday items I wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself, but would love to own. For Christmas every year, I make a trip to her physical store and pick one item for myself with my Christmas gift money.

Point is: I love Kate Spade stuff. Friends and family send me links to new items they see from her brand that they think I might like all the time.

When I learned about her death yesterday morning, I was shocked. I cried. I was surprised at my emotional reaction to the news. I felt a little silly to cry over a designer who hadn’t even owned the company the entire time I bought their stuff.

I realized that while she was no longer affiliated with the company, her name was and when I thought of her brand, I still associated it with her as a person. My connection to her was through her name and therefore when I appreciated a particular design, I appreciated her vision and creativity. Her name was synonymous with a style I loved, so she embodied that particular style for me.

Because I have so many things with her name on it, every day will have a reminder of her passing and the impact she had on my life. I will continue to appreciate the products created in her name, but it will be tinged with sadness at the loss and perhaps I will finally distance the product from the original designer.

I don’t intend to make this post about me or my personal struggles, but I do want to acknowledge that the nature of her death impacted me beyond appreciating her designs. It brings about a sadness, a reminder of how much work it is to live with depression and self-hatred every day.

I have discussed my own struggles with depression and self-harm, particularly how it relates to MS. I have reached very dark depths in my own depression, so to see someone I admire struggle and make a decision I have personally contemplated multiple times, it provokes a reaction within myself that scares me.

I have worked very hard to manage my depression, but I felt set back yesterday as I understood why she would make such a decision. I may not know her reasons, and we may never know them, but I understand the intent behind her decision to end her life. I had to work hard to pull myself back up and though I am not quite there yet, I am managing my feelings surrounding her death and what thoughts/feelings it provokes in me.

Each day is a fight for survival: survive your thoughts, survive your emotions, and survive your decisions. No amount of prescription drugs, therapy, or self-care can touch some of the darkest days – just existing through the darkness until it lifts gets you through. Some make it through and others cannot see when the darkness ends.

The darkness can end, but how that happens is different for everyone. What this means is there isn’t an easy solution or one-size-fits-all which can be particularly frustrating for those on the outside, watching a loved one struggle with depression. I wish I could offer words of advice or comfort as someone who struggles with depression, but what works for me will not work for everyone.

A person’s depression is so unique to them, their experience, and their perspective that it’s really hard to determine what the best thing to say/do for them is: comfort might work for one person, but it may be the worst thing to do for another.

The best I can offer is this silly mantra I came up with when dealing with my depression years ago: today is a bad day, but tomorrow will be less bad; next week will be less worse and next month will be a little better. I made sure to repeat it to myself throughout the day yesterday and even today as I still get choked up thinking about her death.

I do hope that if someone is struggling with depression, especially at such a level to contemplate taking their own life, that when they have a clear moment, no matter how small it may be, they will reach out to someone for help.

And for their sake, I hope they have someone who is sensitive and compassionate enough to listen and provide the help they need.

My thoughts go out to her husband, Andy, and daughter, Francis, at this time. May they eventually find peace and understanding surrounding their wife and mother’s death.

 

Lifestyle & Blogging

Out in the Wild

June is a month of celebrating fatherhood, the outdoors, and the environment here at MS//Mommy.

I will be showing some appreciation for fatherhood, specifically appreciating all the hard work Ash does as a father but also discussing some things that are near and dear to my heart: the environment and spending time outdoors.

Ash and I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible with raising Jai, but I know there are more things we can do as parents to minimize our footprint. I will be exploring those options and what we can do to help get Jai on board with conservation as he grows up.

Additionally, I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and loved every minute of it, so it is important that I foster that same love for Jai. Now that he’s old enough, I make sure to take him outside at least once a day, rain or shine (though we’re more apt to stay inside if it’s pouring & thundering). I wanted to spend a couple of posts discussing how we plan to nurture the love for the outdoors with Jai and get him to be outdoorsy like his mother.

I am rather excited for this month because it’s a bit different from what I’ve been blogging about recently and as such, it will get me out of my blogging comfort zone.


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Featured image credit: Arlene Farms Art 

Lifestyle & Blogging

Celebrating Motherhood: Month’s End

We’re at the end of Motherhood month and I am grateful for all the wonderful mothers who participated in my posts about getting pregnant, pregnancy, newborns, and toddlers. Reading their responses made me realized I know a lot of wonderful, strong, and amazing mothers. A lot of role models for me to look up to and ask questions from as I raise Jai.

I was also surprised at the emotional impact, for myself, in writing about my struggle to get pregnantJai’s birth story and my decision to extend Jai’s breastfeeding. I realized I have some unresolved concerns about the healthcare I received postpartum and I want to make other mothers-to-be aware of possible concerns or risks. Western care still has a long way to go in how it treats mothers.

Most importantly, this month reaffirmed for me the diversity in parenting styles. Everyone parents their little one differently and as long as the little one is safe, it doesn’t matter how different from my style of parenting it may be. I believe in being non-judgmental to other mothers’ approach because there may be something in their style that I hadn’t considered adding to my own.

I think it’s important to embrace other parents and listen to what lessons they might share rather than criticize what they do differently. I want to maintain this attitude and roll it over to all aspects of my life (and hopefully pass acceptance on to Jai).

I hope you all enjoyed reading these posts as much as I did writing them and that they were helpful or brought comfort in a time of need.

Happy June, everyone!


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Featured image credit: Arlene Farms Art 

 

Lifestyle & Blogging

The Struggle to Get Pregnant

Before launching into posts about motherhood, I wanted to spend a post discussing the struggle Ash and I went through to get pregnant. It wasn’t as difficult as it was for some couples, it took about six months from start to conception, but it was an emotionally turbulent six months filled with hope and a lot of disappointment.

I am merely sharing my experience, so please do not take any of my observations as advice or “how-to” when it comes to trying to conceive. Everyone’s story is different and uniquely personal to them.

Deciding to Start a Family

Growing up I never wanted to have kids.

I was of two minds on the subject: I didn’t want to contribute to possible overpopulation and I thought I would be a terrible mother. Back in high school, I did some research for a prepared speech on veganism and one of the sources I found talked about how having children was detrimental to the environment.

Super idealistic and driven to save the world at 16, I decided that I didn’t want to have kids to do my part. Looking back, this is a fantastic attitude to prevent having kids but easy to do when you don’t have a boyfriend.

This attitude stayed with me for a long time and I built upon it as I grew older: children limit your time, your resources, your ability to do anything fun. Children were a ball-and-chain and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I also hadn’t met anyone until Ash that I wanted to have children with so again, this was no major sacrifice on my part.

Ash was of a similar attitude when we first met. He didn’t want to have kids for much of the same reasons and so we settled on an agreement to not consider having children. At least for several years into our relationship and marriage.

Unfortunately for me, biology had other plans. I was in a stable relationship, income, house…we had the means to be parents and my body said it’s GO TIME.

As baby fever started to grow, Ash and I decided that we still weren’t ready to consider children just yet. This was before my diagnosis and I was in the middle of my graduate program.

So we adopted a third cat instead.

The little furbaby did his job for about three years, but when 2015 rolled around and I was two years into my diagnosis I reached a critical point: if I was to have children, it needed to be before I was 35. There was the potential that my MS would transition into SPMS by the time I was 40 and I wanted to have at least five years of quality time with any child.

Thus started the fun negotiations of “should we/shouldn’t we” with Ash.

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