Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Affirmations for Kids: The Good Night Game

Sometimes I feel goofy using affirmations.

Maybe you feel the same way?

But at the same time, it's easy to get caught in a loop in my own head and have a hard time breaking free. Especially when it comes to parenting.

My therapist recommended a new (to me) book called Growing Up Again (affiliate link) by Jean Illsley Clark and Connie Dawson. It has helped me SO much in so little time, not only in my own life but also as I learn to respond and nurture my kids. This book is GOLD and I'd love to talk about it in no less than 10,000 words, but I'll start small. 

One of my very favorite practical tools they offer in Growing Up Again is the Affirmations - positive phrases that "shore up" - that can be used for both adults and children. The authors' working definition of an Affirmation is "anything we say or do for others to let them know that we believe they are lovable and capable" (217).

Clarke and Dawson state:

"When we offer developmental affirmations to children, we offer powerful support that strengthens their ability to accomplish their developmental tasks successfully." (pg. 290)

Clarke and Dawson offer a quite a few different practical and helpful tips for working with affirmations, but I've been most interested in their Good Night Game and it is SO simple. 

The Good Night Game

Either copy and cut out, handwrite, or read straight from the book the affirmations that begin from Stage 1 all the way up to your child's specific developmental stage.

At bedtime, have each child pick three affirmations from a basket each night, and say these affirmations to the child as you tuck them into bed. Keep your affirmations in a basket that is easily accessible. As you repeat the affirmations to them while they are tucked snugly into bed, it's the last words they hear (hopefully! but with promises!) before they go to sleep.

An important note: "The affirmations we deliver MUST be sincere or they become crazy-making double-bind messages" (217, emphasis my own). So if you aren't completely comfortable speaking an affirmation and then letting your kids (or yourself!) live it out, then leave it out of the pile for now. 

Here are a few of my favorite affirmations for the different stages. Try them out for the Good Night Game, and pick up the book for yourself to get all of the affirmations for each life stage. 

Prenatal Stage (Becoming)

- I celebrate that you are alive
- We are connected and you are whole. 
- Your life is your own
- I love you just as you are

Stage 1, Birth to 6 months (Being)

- I'm glad you are alive. 
- You belong here.
- I love you and care for you willingly
- You can grow at your own pace

Stage 2, 6 months to 18 months (Doing)

- You can do things as many times as you need to. 
- You can be interested in everything 
- I like to watch you initiate and grow and learn
- I love you when you are active and when you are quiet. 

Stage 3, 18 months to 3 years (Thinking)

- I'm glad you are starting to think for yourself
- You can learn to think for yourself and I will think for myself 
- You can think and feel at the same time. 
- It's okay for you to be angry, and I won't let you hurt yourself or others

Stage 4, 3 years to 6 years (Identity and Power)

- You can explore who you are and find out who other people are. 
- You can be powerful and ask for help at the same time. 
- All of your feelings are okay with me. 
- I love who you are. 

Stage 5, 6 years to 12 years (Structure) 

- You can think before you say yes or no and learn from your mistakes
- You can learn when and how to disagree
- I love you even when we differ; I love growing with you
- You can learn the rules that help you live with others. 

Stage 6, 12 years to 19 years (Identity, Sexuality, and Separation) 

- You can know who you are and learn to practice skills for independence. 
- You can learn to use old skills in new ways
- I look forward to knowing you as an adult
- My love is always with you. I trust you to ask for my support. 

Stage 7, Adults (Interdependence)

- Your needs are important
- You can trust your inner wisdom
- You can be creative, competent, productive, and joyful. 
- You are lovable at every age. 
- Your love matures and expands

Stage 8, Toward Death (Integration)

- You can grow your whole life through. 
- You can share your wisdom in your way. 
- You are lovable just the way you are. 
- You deserve the support that you need. 

The authors offer more affirmation activities in the book, and the "ovals" that appropriate to the age you're working with are found in each different developmental section within the book. The ovals are tiny and not too pretty, so I took the ovals that pertained to my girls' age and printed them out on computer paper. Next step is to laminate them, if you want! I didn't have any lamination paper so I wrapped them in clear packing tape. Still, not so pretty, but a little better. I forgot to type in the developmental stage on the little slips so I went in with a sharpie after I taped them up and added the age stages on the back.

I'm hoping to put a little more time to beautify these cards because they'll be used for their entire childhood, and I've also had many friends asking about them! And these affirmations are for adults, too, so I'm going to experiment working with them as well. 

For adults, you use the affirmations starting from Prenatal stage on up. The book IS called Growing Up Again, so it is as much an adult guide as a parenting/child guide. No matter how amazing our parents were, they weren't perfect, and we all have gaps in our development. Every human receives uneven parenting in some way, because our parents are 100% human. This has been hard for me to accept as I walk my own parenting journey and it is a hard truth to accept - that we can't be perfect? Feels like a given, but we want the very best for our kids and it's part of my work to accept that I can't home-run their childhood like I want to. But, I can do my own work and do my best by them. Anyway...With compassion and attention, we can utilize the practices and skills in Growing Up Again to help fill in those holes.

I encourage you to try this exercise. It may feel funny at first, but "remember, experience is the architect of the brain." (pg 208)

Let me know how it goes!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Postpartum Support with Amla Plex (Enhanced Chavanprash) {Postpartum Health & Healing}

There's a funky new supplement that my Naturopath recommended to me as I try to repair my adrenals and support my body after the birth of my third child. It's called Amla Plex, and it's a blend of Amla fruit and other herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine.

My N.D. gave me a great explanation as to why I should try it, but honestly, I was in such a fog that I complete forgot WHY she recommended it. I did my own research to find out why, and I'm happy to share it with you to see if it's something you want to try to support your system.

(I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Always, always consult with your healthcare provider. If they haven't heard of Amla Plex, you can print out the resources here and take it in with you. There are potential side effects to using Amla and your doctor can help you discern if it's right for you. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article and product is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure and disease.)

What is Amla? 

Amla is native to India and is also known as Indian Gooseberry. It's incredibly rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, full of fiber, and a great all-around immune system support. Dr. Vrindi Devani refers to it as the "Ayurvedic Multivitamin."

Although this fruit has been used for thousands of years, scientists are only now starting to explore its benefits. All of the research presented here is preliminary and little has been "Proven." What HAS been confirmed is Amla's rich nutritional profile.

The site Superfoodly has put together the most comprehensive list of studies on Amla that I was able to find. A few facts of note:

  • The Amla berry tests higher on the ORAC test (antioxidant measurement) than acai and blueberries and 20x more vitamin C than oranges.
  • Amla also might be helpful in lowering inflammation in the body. Amla has cooling properties, and in Ayurvedic medicine, is classified as a cooling pitta herb. 
  • Also exciting was labwork that showed Amla extract "demonstrated antiviral activity against hepatitis B, influenze A strains, herpes simplex, and other viruses." Granted, these were lab simulations. The antiviral effects are untested on both humans and animals.
  • Research has also shown that Amla has potential positive cognitive effects, as well as improvement in blood sugar regulation and liver function. More exciting preliminary research has been done on Amla's effectiveness on treating different kinds of cancer, but it is very preliminary (as in, been done on animals.)

Amla for the Postpartum & Adrenal Support

The massive hormonal shift after birth, coupled with other prolonged stressors like sleep deprivation, can tax the adrenal glands and make it difficult for the body to come back into balance. If you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, Amla might be a supplement for you to consider. Amla is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body to support its own healing. I love this article from Delicious Obsessions, which dives into Amla's adaptogenic properties at more depth.

How do I use Amla and Enhanced Chavanprash? 

I take Amla in the form of Amla Plex (Enhanced Chavanprash, or Chyavanprash, or many other spellings). Classified as an ayurvedic jam, "prash" in Sanskrit refers to a specially prepared food. The main ingredient is Amla, and then there are 15+ additional herbs and fruits added, depending on the brand, along with ghee and a sweetener of sugar or honey.

The consistency of a Chavanprash with Amla is a little like apple butter. It's like a slightly spicier and complex apple butter with allspice, cinnamon, and clove. I was taking a little bit off the spoon but recently started adding a 1/2 teaspoon to my smoothies. Some people also like to spread it on toast or mix it in warm milk.

Side effects can occur if you use too much - like with most any herbs. Plants are powerful! The recommendation is no more than 1 to 2 teaspoons per day.

Personally, I use 1/2 teaspoon and have not worked up to more, and I've been using it for a while. My body is sensitive to all supplements and it feels the best to me to stay at 1/2 teaspoon. I naturally have blood sugar issues and low blood pressure, and I can feel when I've had too much. I may increase it during the winter months, but maybe not!

Again, plants are medicine! There are possible side effects to using Amla (it is a fruit, you might be allergic). Side effects may include: diarrhea or loose stools (from the high fiber), increased risk of bleeding (from the high vitamin C content), unwanted weight loss (too much acts as a diuretic), lowering of blood sugar and blood pressure. It has not been tested during pregnancy.

Amla might be a beneficial addition to your postpartum nutrition. Talk to your medical provider first, and with their approval, start out with 1/4 teaspoon and work up to 1-2 teaspoons per day.

I buy this Amla Plex Chavanprash from Amazon, but there's also this high-quality Chavanprash from Banyan Botanicals. 


Chyawanprash from Banyan Botanicals
The Really Big Deal about Chyavanprash
Adaptogenic Properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine
Amla Fruit profile from Superfoodly
Adaptogens: Herbs for Vitality  - Amla Fruit from Delicious Obsessions

Questions about Amla? Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Five Essential Oil Organizers {to help organize your life}

My essential oil bottles live in a wire basket from the Target $1 section...and then one on the window sill, one in the medicine cabinet, and a few in another old cosmetic bag from the clearance section of Old Navy. Sound familiar? The conversation, "where's such-and-such oil?" comes with the answer, "check the med cabinet, or the bathroom cupboard, or above the sink - oh, you know what? It's in my jacket pocket in the closet." Confusion and frustration ensue.

In a quest to be more organized, a new essential oil organizer is on my list. Some very creative individuals are creating super pretty and functional oil organizers, and I think I might - no, I know that I need (want) one.

This wooden storage case holds up to 59 bottles and comes with some bonuses, too. At only $29.99 plus free shipping, with almost all 5 star reviews, this is my top contender for at-home organization. If the budget allows, you could splurge for a $50 model with even more bells and whistles.

(photo from reviewer Gina Karol) 

This round organizer would be cute enough to leave out on the counter. It holds 37 of the 15mL or smaller bottles and is made of raw wood. The picture isn't very clear on the site, but the customer photos in the reviews are clearer so you can see what it looks like up close. 

Ugh, I love Liberty of London fabrics! Sew Grown makes these dainty, beautiful cases that fit 8 roller bottles. 

Hytek Gear essential oil case looks sturdy with nice neutral fabric. This would be better for longer travel, as it fits 30 bottles of multiple sizes. It's a great price, too. 

I love the design on the inside of this stained pine box. The reviews are high, and it can hold 69 bottles! Another option for at-home storage. There are a few smaller versions, too. 

BONUS!  This isn't just an essential oil organizer, it's also a diffuser case! Handmade by Baggage and Co., this pretty case comes with pockets for 8 oils on the inside AND the diffuser to boot! Everyone can use another diffuser, right?

Here are my top five. Which is your favorite? How do you organize your oils?

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