A calm came over me when I realized I was stressed, and I was able to put the chocolate down

stressed mom

I did something yesterday that I never do. I bought and ate a chocolate bar mid-day.

Really, this is something I don’t do. But yet I found myself on a Sunday afternoon, escaping the chaos at our house, at the store in our neighbourhood picking up coffee and buying a chocolate bar.

I snuck into our house, back into the chaos as Mike waited for the all-clear to head back to our basement, (which we are finishing), to continue working on it, while I made my way back to our living room, and plopped myself back into the midst of the laundry I had been folding, with a coffee in one hand and my chocolate bar concealed in a bag in the other.

I waited as kids zipped passed me, not noticing that I was packing heat, before I stole my first bite. I sat there for the next ten minutes, folding laundry, sipping coffee, eating chocolate, while ignoring fights, mess, too much screen time and the sound of drilling coming from our basement.

What is going on here? I had been stress eating more days than not. What was triggering this need for sugar and carbs?

Then it hit me… this whole finishing our basement project was seriously stressing me out. Not to mention that our twins have not napped in over a month.

Ohhhh I’m stressed, that’s the feeling I am having lately.

It’s kind of funny that it took me so long to realize that those two elements in my world have been causing me so much stress.

The basement, on one hand, was supposed to be done in September, but between contractors cancelling, Mike trying to find time here and there to hack away at it, and life in general, it’s been delayed. I am crossing my fingers at this point that it will be done for Christmas.

We’ve also been holding most of the kids toys hostage, (out of necessity, not intentionally), in a storage area in our basement, along with our seasonal bins of clothes, other than a few I rescued and am now co-habiting with upstairs.

The kids and I miss their dad, we miss the space down there, and we generally feel like life has been on pause. Add naps being over, and we are all going a little cooky.

Toddler's silly face

But when I was able to pinpoint why I’m stressed, and recognize that it was circumstantial and temporary, this calm washed over me.

Maybe I don’t have to gain five pounds while we finish our basement. Maybe I can plan better for the weekends, go take a bath, read a book, or fall down a Netflix rabbit hole while we are in this mini survival mode.

For me, it’s pinpointing that feeling that is making my heels drag that is half the battle. Once I know what it is, I can problem-solve, which for this “doer” is the best medicine.

Join us for our weekend and my confession about our lengthly basement renovation…

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Stress management and leading with love


This week was one filled with ups and downs, triumphs, and exciting new beginnings.

Last weekend we continued to struggle through our twins’ temper tantrums and hitting phase, which I can only conclude is them approaching the “trying threes.” Actually, as I sit here right now, it has dawned on me that they turn three next month! Where has the time gone?

But last weekend I started to realize that I was getting way too wrapped up in, and worked up with every tantrum, fight and frustrating behaviour. This, in turn had been taking a physical toll on me, with constant sore shoulders, migraines and extreme exhaustion. I was outputting way to much energy, when it wasn’t necessary.

So, what have I done about it? I am chilling out. I am taking deep breaths, ignoring, redirecting, and just trying to stay calm. Guess what? It’s actually working.

As the week progressed, although it had its peeks, I experienced some more difficult situations. After having a good cry, I regrouped and took the three steps it has taken me over thirty years to learn to do… which you can watch here:

But something really exciting happened this week… I hired a team member for Nesting Story and AmandaMuse and I hosted our Story Muse & Co. team for dinner, which was incredibly exciting and inspiring. Welcome to my week…

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Stopping The Stress Eating Cycle

Stopping the stress eating cycle 2From close to my weight-loss goal (left) through gaining seven pounds (center) to losing six pounds.

Truth time. After rocking my healthy lifestyle like a champ at the beginning of the summer, and being within arms reach of my goal weight, I sabotaged my weigh-loss success. Stress hit in the form of my daughter going through the fretful fours, being too busy and my twin toddlers, well, being toddlers. So, true to form, I stress ate. Me stressed

This is a photo of me stressed. So hot right?

I hid, and avoided blogging about my body after babies journey. It wasn’t like I was reaching for junk food, I was just eating, and eating, and eating to comfort myself. Unfortunately, I am just barely five-foot-two, so basically a hobbit, which means if I even smell a dessert, I gain two pounds.gained weightThat smile on my face is very fake. If you ever see that smile, you know I am fake smiling at you. 

I was starting to think I should write a blog post about how it is normal for your weight to fluctuate after having babies, which it is, but that felt like I was throwing in the towel.

So, a week ago, I looked around at our home that was full of sick kids (’tis the season) feeling stressed out of my gourd. I was about to reach for a tablespoon full of peanut butter (yes, that is my vice, my sister’s too, so I can’t be that weird) and I voice in my head said “step away from the peanut butter Joanna.” So I did.

You see, I have been stuck in a vicious cycle. Our stress dies down, I get on track with eating healthy and exercising and then BOOM! Normal family stress hits and I start saying to myself “you deserve this.” Then I feel horrible physically and emotionally and get twice as stressed as I really should.

After I walked away from the peanut butter I hopped on my blog for advice, something that I actually don’t do that often. I re-read a couple of my posts that I wrote when I was in a good-place and was immediately reminded that I too, deserve to take care of myself and I don’t always have to go down with the ship.

So, for the last week I have gone back to eating healthy, and exercising when I can, without over-thinking it. I have lost almost six pounds since making this decision.

Here is the hard part, keeping the momentum. So, I am going to blog every Wednesday about my wellness journey. I hope that this will help hold me accountable. I debated about calling it “weight-loss Wednesdays” but I want to be able to cover everything, including my struggles with anxiety.

Here is the best part, I am what some may call an over-sharer. In fact, there are times in conversations that Mike will shoot me a look and tap his nose, meaning “reel it in a bit with the details Joanna.” That is why blogging is such a perfect fit for me. I really don’t give AF.

So, I will share every gritty detail, every pound, every photo.

Want to join in on the conversation? I’d love to hear all about your journey in the comments below or on Facebook.

Stay tuned…

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9 Steps That Reduced My Anxiety And Helped Me Enjoy Parenting Again

Stopping anxietyHave you ever felt like the stress of parenting some days might actually break you? That the waves keep coming and you can’t seem to keep your head above water anymore? Recently, I felt like the stress of parenting, AND working from home, AND caring for myself, AND breathing life into all of the important relationships in my life were becoming too much.

In the past, I had been able to shake off the stress and move on from an epic temper tantrum from one of my kids or my day not going like I had planned. But over the past few months it was like my protective emotional armour had fallen off and every bit of daily stress would pile one on top of the other, until by the end of the day I had such a weight on my chest I could barely breathe.

I knew something had to change and I had to be very deliberate about how I was going to properly tackle this problem. I needed to get to the root of what was going on and find a long term solution…

1. I took a step back and looked at my life. I knew that the biggest thing that spun my world off of it’s axis was our daughter, Beau’s recent struggles with anxiety and some behaviour problems she was having. But despite how much I was trying to help her, things just weren’t improving. It wasn’t until I took a step back and looked at every aspect of my life and my family that I could see the bigger picture as to what was going on.

2. I listed everything that was stressful and not working. I went ahead and listed every source of stress I could think of. Beau’s anxiety (which was causing me to worry endlessly), me working too much, our childcare situations were creating problems, I was lonely, I was burnt out and I had not been taking care of myself. My husband Mike was a great sounding board. In fact he should get a medal for how much he listened to me so intently vent each evening while working through this crisis.

3. I identified what was in my power to change. This was something my own mother taught me while I was in college and was experiencing anxiety. She would say, “what on your list of stress is in your power to change, or take off your plate?” After repeating these words of wisdom to myself over and over again for at least a week, I started to take charge and make a plan of attack.

4. I got rid of anything that wasn’t good for our family. Although I knew that I had so much childcare (daycare for beau and a part-time nanny for our twins) in place so that I could keep taking on all of the work that kept coming my way and continue growing my business. But everyday Beau was leaving the house kicking and screaming not wanting to go to daycare. Although she had once raced out the door to because she couldn’t wait to go, at some point something had shifted. I decided to take Beau out and give her a break before she was to start kindergarten.

Another problem was that although our childcare situation once worked for our twins and myself, it wasn’t the best fit anymore. I made the decision to make a big change and find something that fit us better.

5. I scaled back and created balance. I thought long and hard about what projects and commitments really fit with myself and our family and which ones didn’t. I have learned to say no occasionally, and zero in on what was most important to me.

6. I got help. Mike and I finally made the decision to get help with Beau. We contacted our local support program for families and children who were struggling with behavioural and mental health issues. It only took one meeting with them and Mike and I to have our eyes opened. This quickly got us on the same parenting page and helped us understand what Beau was going through.

I also saw a counsellor. I talked (a lot) about how I was finding it hard to balance everything. As I sat there rambling, I kept solving my own problems. I realized that I needed to focus and create a routine for myself and stick to it.

7. I sleep trained myself. During the summer I had fallen off track with my early morning workout routine. I started staying up late and sleeping in. The kids were the ones waking me up and I was being thrown right into parenting. I have made the conscious effort to go to bed earlier and wake up early. WOW! This has probably made the biggest difference of all.

8. I gave more attention to the important relationships in my life. Whenever I get anxious I tend to shut people out. This then makes me more lonely which in turn, makes me more anxious. I forced myself to reach out and start getting together with other moms more. I also made the effort to get a babysitter occasionally so that Mike and I could get out on real dates. We have rediscovered our love for going out to the movies instead of constantly falling down the Netflix rabbit hole.

9. I gave myself a break. During my anxious couple of months I found myself worrying a ridiculous amount about deadlines, my weight and housework. I started to put things into perspective more, stop obsessing and just do.

I also started to carve more time out of my day to just veg and watch TV, read a magazine and do NOTHING!  I threw the guilt out the window and reminded myself that if I don’t do this I will burn out and be much less productive.