My purpose…is in the here and now.

What is your purpose…?

In many people including myself, this evokes thoughts and images of this big, significant “thing” that you are working towards and someday will reach (hopefully).

This is the thing you were born to do, and only when you figure out what it is and DO it, will you find real life fulfillment by what you do and will reach your full potential…

We are told by pastors and motivational speakers alike, that we all have a very specific purpose that we were born for. That we need to maximize our potential. And that it will be just a terrible shame if you do not reach your full potential or end up following your destined purpose. We are told that we just need to follow certain steps or do a vision board or read a book etc, to find out what it is (which in itself is a mystery for so many) and then to pursue IT.

We are told to not live a mediocre life – no because we were created for SO MUCH MORE! We are told to be proactive, live life to the full, pursue our dreams…

I have in the past felt very motivated and inspired after hearing or reading messages such as these. I would buy the book or buy a new journal – filled with fresh inspiration and drive to figure out what my purpose is and how I can go about reaching it.

But in the past couple of years it has just left me feeling miserable, burdened, confused and slightly disillusioned and disappointed at times. I don’t think its unusual to feel this way when you find yourself somewhere in your 30’s (or 40’s…any age really) in a career that you are not crazy about but it pays the bills…perhaps realise that your career choice wasnt the best….that you perhaps wasted some time along the way….missed some opportunities…. the list is endless. Some call this a quarter or midlife crises.

These messages left me feeling like the life I have lived and am living doesn’t measure up because I haven’t FOUND my big purpose in life. This often also goes hand in hand with comparison with certain people in your peer group who you perceive to have reached their potential and living their PURPOSE.

I started thinking about this…. especially after being a stay at home mom for a year and struggling to figure out some questions around this issue. I found myself during the past year fighting my current role as stay at home mom, feeling insignificant on some days, struggling with low self-esteem because I felt I could only talk about baby stuff…

I became sick of feeling like this…

But then…what does this all make of where I am – RIGHT NOW. I am a recent stay at home mom for the past 13 months. I resigned my job because my baby was of such a demanding nature that I couldn’t get to a point of leaving him in full-time care while I work. I have to add that I had the privilege of having the choice at the time which I know is not at all possible for all moms.

So back to where I am right now and this BIG PURPOSE/DESTINY people are bombarding us with.

My thoughts are this…I think you have several purposes throughout your lifetime. I have come to believe that your purpose is in the here and now.

Where I am right now is my purpose.

Although in the eyes of society being a stay at home mom is not a PURPOSE, this is my purpose now. It is not a second-rate waiting for my bigger purpose kind of thing. No – I have purpose and “in” my purpose for this season. I am not “missing out” or constantly wondering what my big purpose is that I will reach one day. I am not fighting my season that I am in by worrying and feeling miserable about unanswered questions about my next step, my career in years to come, what I am “working towards” etc. In this season, my life is smaller.

I will still try to make time to pursue things that I like doing like exercising, painting or reading. I might still consider furthering my studies in psychology, because I enjoy studying and am interested in psychology. But I choose to not be burdened anymore by trying to figure out what my big SINGLE purpose is in this life and feeling that I just seem to not be able to reach it.

I know many will disagree with me – but these are my thoughts and what has helped me live a more positive satisfying life in the now.

I hope this encourages you…

Lots of love

Helene xxx

Sugar, anxiety and insomnia…and other tips to get you to sleep better tonight!

I have always been able to switch off my bedside light and fall asleep within minutes. Even on my travels, often sleeping in youth hostels sharing rooms, it wasnt an issue for me. Ever.

When my son turned one a year ago, it changed. For his 1st year I slept well in between multiple night waking and breastfeeding sessions. Now he was starting to sleep better and all of a sudden this mommy couldnt fall asleep anymore…shock horror!

Is this a joke – no – it’s very real.  Some even call it “momsomnia” or postnatal insomnia.

When you suffer from insomnia, you either struggle to fall asleep or you wake up and then struggle to fall back to sleep again.

It’s one of those things that can quickly consume you as you start struggling night after night and experiencing the repercussions of not so much optimal functioning during the day.  You start almost dreading going to bed even though you are tired.  The “Tired but Wired” saying became quite real to me…

It’s a vicious cycle… Insomnia creates anxiety and this creates more insomnia. I experienced over the past year that if I have a better night, the anxiety almost immediately starts to decrease dramatically helping me to go into the better direction of sleep again.

So what can you do – the standard advice that you’ll get…

  1. Sleep hygiene
  2. Herbal aids
  3. Melatonin
  4. Sleeping tablets
  5. Antidepressants (more to treat the anxiety)

These are the things that has worked for me to a certain extent recently and over the past year:

  1.  You absolutely have to do the sleep hygiene thing i.e. NO screen time for at least an hour before bed time and keep lights fairly dimmed in the house if you can.  I also started to have a bed time routine – for me this was drinking either camomile tea / hot water with apple cider vinegar and a bit of honey / milk with quarter teaspoons of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.  And also reading a book until I feel I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.
  2. Consider cutting your caffeine.  I decreased it to one – two cups of coffee max all before 11am.
  3. Be careful of sugar as this can worsen anxiety symptoms and for me any form of sugar and even cocoa (dark chocolate) I found could increase my alertness and keep me awake.
  4. Alcohol – yes it helps to relax you – but I am not sure what it is – but I found this also didn’t help my sleep, so bye-bye drinks for now! (Insomnia is so tormenting that you will do ANYTHING to alleviate it).
  5. Melatonin didn’t work for me unfortunately, the herbal stuff also not, I wish it did as it’s not habit-forming.
  6. An anti-anxiety tablet and/or a sleeping tablet helped me at certain times to calm down at night and just re-set and get a night of good sleep – but it’s not for long-term use…
  7. Watch your mind… I found that the more I panicked when I couldn’t fall asleep the worse it all became.  I started meditating on Bible Scriptures about sleep, anxiety and fear which helped me a lot.  I also pray as part of my bed time routine.  And I watch out like a hawk for those evil thoughts that try to make me go into panic and fear mode.  I replace it with TRUE thoughts – Renewing my mind with God’s TRUTH.
  8. I have had to almost become quite relaxed about the whole thing – knowing through the grace of God that I WILL be ok the next day even if I didn’t sleep.  I had to make a point of tapping into the peace, joy and gratitude inside of me despite my lack of sleep and not feeling great the next day. Worshipping Him throughout became my Spiritual Weapon of choice.

This thing has become a lifestyle, spiritual and emotional journey for me.  Not something with a quick fix (believe me I tried all of that, spent a couple of R1000’s on doctors who couldnt really help although I am sure they wish they could.)

I really hope this helps someone out there…

Love Helene x x x

 

Mommies…let’s be real?

The other day as I was driving, an interview came up on the radio. The woman being interviewed has an incredible CV. She has a top post at a university, an online business and she is a mom of a 1 and 3-year-old…

At the start of the interview when she casually mentioned that yes she wears many hats and obviously wears them well…I switched off the radio.

I didn’t want to expose myself to another mommy claiming to the world that she indeed is a super woman…juggling many balls with grace…wearing all those hats with style.

I knew it would make me evaluate my own life as mommy again and end up making me feel somewhat like a underachiever of a mommy/juggler of life.

I am NOT criticizing her. All I am saying is this. Moms, let’s be honest, let’s be real? If you are one in a million and truly by some magic is able to be 100% mom, 100% entrepreneur, 100% full-time job mom…then wow you are truly gifted.

But if like me, you have realised that all your important decisions like for example whether to work or be a stay at home mom, comes at a cost.

The stay at home mom might feel the cost for her is giving up her career and her sanity on some days 😉

The working mom might feel the cost for her is not being able to spend as much time with her little one as she would like to.

Point is…lets be real about our choices we have to make, the consequences we have to individually deal with, the challenges and the joys we each face in our unique situations. That there is not a right or a wrong. Lets not judge one another for tough choices we have to make.

And lets not pretend. Why pretend? Do you feel to show vulnerability will make you come across as weak? Being vulnerable takes COURAGE and STRENGTH. And showing realness, honesty and being vulnerable is the only way that you can help another mom feel better.

Love Helene x x x

The toddler review: Playzone!

Playzone:  This is a big YES from Lucas (22 months) and mommy!

Yay for good coffee and a BIG yay for the nannies and amazing, clean, safe play area!

You pay R50 for the 1st hour and then R30 for every hour after that. Nice menu, I ordered a big coffee and plate of chips for Lucas.

I was almost a bit at a loss with all the sitting and watching I could do…will definitely use this place in the near future to get in 2 hours of studying (I started a course this month…).

 

I think for me I will need to come at quiet times to get the full benefit of a nanny dedicated to Lucas. We visited on a Monday late morning and the nanny mentioned that it is relatively quiet on most week days, not so much over the weekends 😉

A big thumbs up from us!

Love Helene x x x

Area for all kiddies but especially the not yet walking little ones 🙂

 

My sugar detox journal – confession time! What’s your WHY?

I never remember very clearly how it starts – it always seems a bit blurry.  

But then I find myself finishing an entire piece of the most delicious, moist carrot cake on a Sunday morning.  How did this happen…?  How is it possible to go from super motivated and focused, to stuffing my face with my all too familiar drug of choice – SUGAR?

I can tell you how it happens…

I will have an emotionally down day or moment –  and then I go to that familiar mind-set:

“Sugar will definitely help me to feel better, it will give me energy and that feel good factor that I desperately need (and feel I deserve) RIGHT NOW.”

Then I give in to a biscuit with my coffee, have one of my toddler’s sweet treats… and its like a slippery slope down hill (ok it’s not THAT bad, but you get what I am saying…).

Next thing I think to myself, well you have given in so you might as well have a couple of biscuits, or a piece or 2 milk tart (this was yesterday) and carrot cake…(today)…?

And the next thought…. Tomorrow is Monday and it’s basically the beginning of a new month… perhaps this time I will kick the habit and a few kg’s before summer…?

BUT I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE… And there’s no time for denial anymore – I am just too SICK of it.  Time to get REAL people!!!! O.k… I am trying really hard to motivate myself…

Human willpower (for most of us) just freaking fails us time and time again.  It’s the reason why new years resolutions are mostly a waste of time… and the: I will start on Monday… or next month or whatever…

So WHAT NOW???  I so desperately want to live healthier – and for me right now – this means cutting out the white stuff.  And the white floury stuff.

I heard a talk the other day… she said you need to 1st OF ALL – FIGURE OUT YOUR WHY.

Your WHY needs to be important enough to carry you through those familiar moments where you typically give in.

MY WHY?   I want to do what I can to not get sick.  I want to feel less achy, less moody, less tired and totally be there for my hubby and busy toddler.  And perhaps most of all right now – I am searching for a holistic, sustainable lifestyle cure for insomnia & anxiety.

What is you why?

Love Helene x x x

My top 9 toddler friendly places in and around Durbanville

Being a stay at home mommy to my 21 month old Lucas, part of the past 10 months or so since he could walk, was to find awesome places for us to go during his awake time.  Not too far away from home and a pleasure for me as well as for Lucas to go to…

Here are my top 9 toddler friendly places to go to – all of them are in and around Durbanville.

  1. Bon Amis:  This is one of my favourite spots on sunny mornings.  They have great coffee (very important) as well as an awesome and affordable kiddies menu (I normally get either their kiddies french toast or flapjacks for Lucas).  They have an on site nanny who can help to keep an eye over your little one – but not so much if there’s a couple of kids running around.  She mostly helps when you would like to go and look at the bunnies.  The play area has nice shade, lots of sand and jungle gyms, swings etc.

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    Bon Amis
  2. Meerendal wine estate:  We go here quite regularly – but I usually go there when hubby is with me.  The jungle gym is suitable more for the older toddler, so someone has to be with Lucas all the time.  The jumping caste over weekends he also loves, but once again its more suitable for the slightly older child.  You can’t really be on your own and try to have a leisurely cup of coffee as well – so hubby and I will take turns watching him when we go there.  I will order a plate of chips or a pastry when we are there for Lucas.
  3. Bash:  I love bash especially when Lucas was a little bit younger.  It is ideal for your little one who just starts to walk or even just pull himself up.  They have a cool play area/coffee shop so you can easily have your coffee and watch your little one.  They also have a full-time nanny there to keep an eye… Their menu isn’t that great and a little pricey – but there are some options for your toddler which is o.k.  Lucas always enjoys the play kitchen area and the small jungle gym.

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    Bash
  4. Chocolate coffee shop:  This is normally a quick stop for us.  I get to drink a great cup of coffee and Lucas loves their chips.  I have to keep an eye on him but he normally just likes to stroll around the outdoor kiddy area, pick up some stones, look at the flowers and the fountain or try to get into their kiddy castle.
  5. Spur Durbanville:  Great practical place to go on rainy days.  The play area is nice and clean and have lots to keep the little ones busy.  Awesome padded indoor jungle gym and a nanny most days who can also help to keep an eye.  The coffee isn’t my favourite but I like the cheap snack options for Lucas like the sweet potato chips!

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    Spur Durbanville
  6. Willowbridge shopping mall:  What a cool mall for toddlers!  Only on good weather days though… The jungle gyms need our supervision because Lucas likes to be daring :). So once again two adults are needed if you want to sit down and drink your coffee…  So hubby and I will take turns to watch Lucas (hubby normally knows I need my coffee, so he will watch Lucas more than I do ;).  There’s also a giant sand pit – just be aware of the harsh sun on sunny days.
  7. Stodals:  The only think that I don’t like about Stodals is the noise of the N1 right next to it.  The coffee is also ok but not amazing 🙂  The play area is very cool… Quite a few jungle gyms, lots of sand and a bonus is the walk through where they can look at some cool animals!!
  8. Evertsdal Opstal:  Yummy coffee and yummy food. They don’t have a kiddies menu so Lucas will have some chips and some of my food.  The outside play area is small but it’s nice with a jungle gym, some sand, two swings and lots of area to explore.  Choose a sunny day though…
  9. Playzone:  I havent been recently, but the small play area for crawling Lucas was nice… I need to go again to see how Lucas enjoys the many huge plastic indoor jungle gyms and many other thins.  I am sure he will love it, so this is on my to-do list…  The food and coffee are average so don’t go for that 😉

Places I have tried and not keen on going back to:

  1. Funky Frogs Tygervalley – very small play area and the coffee is really bad 😉 – So take your own coffee if you would like to go and sit.  But good for kids over 2 if you would like to go and shop and your toddler will let you leave him/her there.
  2. Bossa Nova Durbanville – horrible cold play area for toddlers.  Fine for older kids because there are many computers for games.
  3. Wimpy Durbanville – the play area is VERY small and only suitable (there’s a sign) for kids from 4 years old.

Love Helene x x x

 

 

My sugar detox journal…hidden sugars to watch out for!

I finished my 21 days of trying my best to go off sugar.

HiddenSugarInfographicAlthough I am happy with my progress,  I am not entirely happy with how the 21 days went.

Why?

  1.  I had about 4 “cheat” days
  2. I didn’t cut out ALL sugar (for example: Honey, fruit and certain refined carbs)
  3. I don’t think I experienced the FULL BENEFIT of really detoxing from sugar… And this is what I am after – really getting to that point of moving beyond the withdrawal and cravings and starting to experience all the benefits.  Like…. better and a more stable mood, better sleep, clarity of mind, more energy and some weight loss.

So… What I am going to try to do over the next 21 days is to:

  1. Consistently cut out all forms of sugar (Including honey, fruit and hidden sugar in snacks – see this cool picture to the left…)
  2. Lower my overall carb intake (Mostly for me:  Bread; rusks; wraps; rice; potatoes; pasta; pizza)
  3. Decrease my caffeine intake to 2 cups max per day – mostly to help with the anxiety and insomnia.
  4. Trying not to get too ravenous (this is when I make my poorest food choices) – so filling my tummy with good stuff whenever I am hungry.

Here is a great list of all those other names under which sugar hides in foods:

According to the USDA and other sources, alternative sugar ingredients or names to watch out for when reading labels include:

There also “healthier” sugars, including coconut palm sugar, honey and blackstrap molasses. Generally since these are far less processed (especially real, raw honey), they are OK in moderation but still a source of sugar to keep to small amounts.

So today is another day 1 for me… wish me luck!

Love Helene x x x

My sugar detox journal – this is hard!

I am currently on day 15 of my 21 DAY attempt to detox myself from sugar.

The first 10 days were relatively easy for me – I think it was due to my human will power doing fairly well initially…

 Then my old habits started to taunt me… Let me explain:

I am a stay at home mommy of 21 month old Lucas.  My GO TO for when I am feeling a bit tired/bored/lonely/emotional is mostly coffee and sugar if there is any form of sugar in the house.

So a couple of days ago I gave my little boy a biscuit.  He didn’t want it.  For a moment I was in a battle in my head, and then I just ate the cookie… And then I finished the whole bag (kiddies bag I have to add in my defense 😉 And then I had some fruit cake that I had in the house the previous day for my in-laws visiting.

That old – almost uncontrolled way of eating – took over for that moment…

Later that same day I went to the mall and considered stopping for a piece of cheese cake – because (my old way of thinking) I might as well cheat properly!  And I was feeling tired and like I “deserved” it (again an old habit of mine…).

I didn’t give in to the cheesecake which was an achievement for me.  So the next day I just  kept going where I left off.

So be aware of your old ways of thinking… For those sugary snacks in the house… And don’t beat yourself up if you slip up – just carry on the following day.

Weight loss? Not dramatic in any way – perhaps because I havent given up carbs too.  But I have probably lost almost 1 kg.

But it’s about more than weight for me – its about my health and knowing what sugar does to the brain and body…

After the 21 days…?  The other day I listened to a podcast of Dr Caroline Leaf and she said it takes 3 cycles of 21 days to really create new habits… So perhaps I will push myself a little longer… and even look at cutting out some other things like too much processed food/perhaps I will be a bit more strict with my carb intake.  I’ll decide when I get there…

For now…baby steps and just keep going moment by moment…

Skincare must haves for a busy mom

You can spend 100’s of Rands on make up and still be frustrated with the end result if your canvass (your skin) isn’t in a good condition. Some lucky individuals are blessed with a genetically beautiful flawless skin, but most of us need to put in some work – and a couple of good quality products.

Below are my steps to the essential skin care – focussing on ANTI-AGEING.

Your products can look a little different if you are working towards targeting a more specific skin care concern like adult acne or hyperpigmentation for example. Check out my blogs about acne and pigmentation.

I am also just looking at the ESSENTIALS today – there are quite a bit more that you can do at home like exfoliators and masks – but more about that in another blog 😉

So here are my top skincare must haves for a busy mom!

Essential Morning routine:

Step 1: CLEANSE PROPERLY

Gentle Foaming Cleanser from Theravine

Make sure you cleanse your skin every morning and every evening with a MILD cleanser suitable to your PREFERENCE (gel/foam/cream/oil/liquid water based cleanser etc) and SKIN TYPE (oily/dry/combination). I currently use the Gentle Foaming Cleanser from Theravine (Available at salons or get in touch with me) retails for R298.  I also quite like the Loreal cleanser: Pure Clay detox face wash. R88

What do I look for in a cleanser? Not expensive (it really doesn’t have to be); gentle yet effective and I prefer a foamy gel in comparison to a cream.

Step 2: USE AN ANTIOXIDANT as your serum for the day.  Antioxidants have antiageing benefits as well as being super important to fight harmful free radicals during the day.  I am currently using the brilliant Phloretin CF from Skinceuticals. Thanks to my friend who was generous to give this as my 40th birthday present!

Step 3: USE A GOOD MOISTURISER on your face and neck.  I currently enjoy the Nourishing and Firming Day cream from Theravine for the DAY and the amazing moisturizer from Lamelle, Dermaheal Cellular Repair Cream.

Optional extra: Use an eye cream – check out my blog about eye creams here.

Step 4: USE A GOOD QUALITY sunblock every single day – check out my blog about sunscreen here and here.  My personal favourite is Heliocare. – either the SPF50 Gel or the SPF Tinted (this replaces my foundation on most days now because it is so quick and easy!)  Check out my blog on make-up tips for a busy mom HERE.

 

Essential Evening routine:

Step 1: CLEANSE PROPERLY

I start by cleansing off my eye make up. I love this water based cleanser from Garnier – retails for R80. Bioderma also has one, but is more expensive – retails for R230. Then I cleanse as in the morning routine.

Optional extra: Tone if necessary (not essential), sometimes necessary if you wear a lot of make up to ensure your skin is squaky.clean! You want it to be clean for your evening serum/cream to penetrate.

Step 2: USE AN ANTI-AGEING SERUM

So this might look different than your morning serum.  At night it is a good idea to introduce anti-ageing ingredients like Vitamin A (MY FIRM FAVOURITE – it is one of the most well researched and proven anti-ageing ingredients!) or anti-ageing PEPTIDES or GROWTH FACTORS or even exfoliating ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids.  I currently use Retacnyl (on doctor prescription) but only one evening per week (Retinol is very active and the skin will initially peel upon starting usage).  On other nights I enjoy the Collagen M/P Serum from Matriskin for its amazing anti-ageing benefits due to anti-ageing peptides.

Option extra: Use an eye cream – check out my blog about eye creams here.

Step 3: USE A GOOD MOISTURISER – Same as morning routing.

Please feel free to email me your questions about your skin care routine!

Love Helene xxx

Eating healthy – why is it SO hard..?

Part 1: Why is it so hard?

I’ve decided to write about my struggle to consistently eat more healthy for two reasons.

Firstly, I believe there’s a reason the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry (most people struggle with this in some degree)…and secondly I am hoping that writing about this issue will help me to be more successful in my efforts…

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At the beginning of 2018 I very sincerely decided that this was the year that I was finally going to leave my nonsense in the past and be dedicated to a healthier diet once and for all.

I am turning 40 this year, and my thought pattern went something like this: If I can’t get it right now, I might as well give up/not try again.

I also became aware of the depressing fact that the past 20 years has been an on and off struggle with wanting to lose that LAST 5 – 10 kg’s by buying a new diet book/joining a diet club/increasing my gym efforts/becoming qualified as a nutritionist and personal trainer (yes I went that far) etc…

I love that saying which says that if you keep on doing the same thing and not getting the results you want, it is insanity… Well keeping on doing what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years when it comes to my eternal quest for health/weight loss/having a better body and health…. will just be insanity.

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So why of why is it so HARD?? Is human will power so weak? Why do some people get it right and others don’t..? I don’t have the perfect answer for this.

I think one of the things that is crucial for success is that it should matter ENOUGH to you to want to change.

You have to find that thing, that trigger deep down inside that you can pull out the moment you feel you deserve/need that pizza/doughnut/cake/chocolate etc. RIGHT now. At that moment, that thing (that reason for you to want it enough) should pull you through that moment.

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My baby boy is 18 months and for the past 18 months I have been riding the wave of excuses of I am a new mom, I am tired, I don’t have time, I am emotional, I am stressed, I feel alone… Well, my time for those excuses has expired. I realise that it is only ME that is holding myself back from feeling better about myself and my body.

I strongly believe that you have to be kind to yourself and love yourself first and foremost. So I am glad that I gave myself enough time to adjust to motherhood. But you have to get to a point where  you realise that making better choices concerning your eating habits – is LOVING yourself!

I have also realised that I have a pattern that is not working for me. I get very motivated by reading a new diet book and then ride that emotional wave of feeling super dedicated and converted for a while… And then the emotional excuses set in. And before I know it, I am back to my old habits. Other times I sincerely just don’t care enough.

So what is going to be different now… What is it going to take for me to make that permanent change…???

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For me… right now, I think it is to just start. To just take the next step tomorrow and then the day after that and the day after that. No emotional rollercoaster, just an almost unemotional, logical decision day-to-day.

And I have decided to blog about my journey – to somehow keep me accountable…

Let’s see…

Love Helene xxx