Author: Marjorie Sarah

That’s What I Got

Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

That’s What I Got

Two half-broken hairdryers
A dishwasher that won’t wash a dish
A diabetic, blind dog with diarrhea & fleas
That’s what I got.

Home cooked meals every night of the week
Silly screams
Neighbors that give me beer when I’ve finished my only one
That’s what I got.

Tons of paperwork
Homework
Voicemails to return
That’s what I got.

Hot water
Sacred space
Coffee & tea
That’s what I got.

Mosquitos
Messy clothes
Sticky tables
That’s what I got.

Warm blankets
A stocked pantry
Herbs & spices
That’s what I got.

A cold kitchen in an old house
A broken door
Many creaky floors
That’s what I got.

Love, snuggles, family, health
Big windows for sunshine
Books & candles that are mine
That’s what I got.

I’ll take it all.

 

Photo by Jeffrey Wegrzyn on Unsplash

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Oh hello there again, Shit I don’t want to deal with
How’d you find me?
I’ve been hiding from you
Secretly.

I don’t have time for this
It’s early and there’s so much to do
I turn my head and feel a ping of realization
I have it all backwards here

Those things I have to do
Are not my lessons
They are the distraction
From the work

Right here, in the messy fears and tears of those plugged into me
Is the “to do”
The entire freaking list
Is screaming at me
They need me

I breathe and switch gears
How could I have nearly missed this chance again
The chance to show up
The opportunity to change the day

These are the moments I prepare so attentively for
Through mantras and silence and yoga
And they come and then I trip, with disappointment in my heart
But not this time

It wasn’t perfect
But I tried
Grateful for the opportunity
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little bit stronger

 

 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

3 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mother & Other Breastfeeding Resources

Family Inspiration Motherhood

3 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mother & Other Breastfeeding Resources

Breastfeeding, like parenting, unexpectedly altered everything about me. I found it an avenue to dive into the topics of food, health, well being, parenting and attachment and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on a topic that has endless opportunities to learn about myself, my growing baby and my body.

My breastfeeding journey with each of my children was unique, but had many similarities. I found much support and direction from a group of smart, supportive women in my community (La Leche League of Montgomery County East). I also pulled from a variety of resources to collect tools and emotional support along a journey that shifted my view and reframed my perspective on mothering through breastfeeding.

My shadow at Wilder Park (outside Chicago), the birthplace of La Leche League. I had to find my way there and it was worth it.

 

Perhaps you are the partner of a breastfeeding mother or the grandparent of a breastfed baby and you find yourself in unusual territory. Here are 3 ways to show your support for the woman you love:

  1. Go get a glass of water and set it in front of a breastfeeding mother.

    Don’t ask if they want it, they NEED it and it will be much appreciated. There were many times when I’d sit down to nurse and the second Brady or Meadow latched on, an overwhelming sense of thirst took over me. A friend once suggested creating “water stations” around the house and just leaving water bottles where you frequently nursed. That is such good advice!

  2. Show interest in hunger cues and encourage feeding.

    There are signs that a newborn gives when they are hungry. Here’s a handy tool to interpret them. Learning to notice them is like having a conversation with the little baby in your life without words.

    I often felt worried that I was feeding my son too often. Once I realized how easily and efficiently breastmilk is digested, I understood that he wasn’t being a bugger when he was hungry just 30 minutes after a feeding, but that his body had efficiently processed his milk and was ready for some more! Our first pediatrician warned me not to be the pacifier and further warned against nursing for comfort. I was perplexed by that because I felt that was my job and the beauty in breastfeeding – I was providing food and drink along with comfort and security. I could not love this essay more – on the beauty of being a human pacifier.

  3. Provide a pillow and reading material. 

    It’s the little things, but these make a HUGE difference!

Because I had so many supportive mothers who had been where I was to help me on my breastfeeding journey, I choose to offer the same support in return serving as a La Leche League Leader for 2+ years. No matter if your goal is one week or 5 years, you may have many questions – from technical to emotional – and hopefully some of these resources at the bottom may offer guidance.

Resources

  • The most helpful book I found was The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. You can buy it through the local LLL group I mentioned above for $10.
  • Infant Risk Center – If you are taking a medication, say getting a cavity filled, or whatever, call them and they will talk to you about the latest research on whether or not to nurse the baby and how soon. I called multiple times and spoke to a real human.
  • United States Breastfeeding Committee – Leadership, advocacy and collaboration resource.
  • Embarrassed: Spoken Word by Holly McNish – a beautiful spoken word piece of her experience breastfeeding in public. It gives me chills every time.

And if you are passionate about supporting breastfeeding mothers – support them! Much of the research states that the community around a nursing mother is one of the most important tools to help her meet her personal goals.

Go to local meetings of whatever group makes sense to you and volunteer or host a gathering. La Leche League has annual local conferences that I attended and even co-led a session and those were very fulfilling and exciting learning opportunities.

Happy Breastfeeding!

xo,

Marjorie Sarah

 

Top Photo Credit: Pixabay 

 

A September Like No Other

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A September Like No Other

Holy smokes, what an emotional roller coaster.
Just left Meadow’s preschool meeting – she starts tomorrow.
Don’t be alarmed if she doesn’t speak to you, I say.
Last week my little man marched off to kindergarten.
The excitement, the fears, the new world opens; it suddenly appears.

Time has switched all up on me.
No morning quiet, where is my meditation?
Packing lunch, walking to the bus, breakfast chats.
Days are choppy, different, busy, slow, busy, slow.
I hurry then wait, then hurry, then I wait.

I love preparing the lunch containers, the meals.
I love after school chats and getting the scoop on all that went down that day.
There’s so much joy to be found in the small things like these.

I see the road next to school and as I drive along I realize this: for the next eight years I will be parking, waiting and looping around there for the elementary school pickup.
And I love it. This job of being the mom, the container to both hold it all and serve as a launch pad is again a paradox.
The beauty and the letting go all tangled up.
They are ours but not to keep, just to snuggle & let soar.

Happy September,

xo, Marjorie Sarah

 

 

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

Why I’m Growing A Handmade Business While Nurturing Growing Children

Inspiration

Why I’m Growing A Handmade Business While Nurturing Growing Children

I thrive on connection, it sustains me more than food and water. In the early days of parenting and being a stay-at-home mother I sought out heartfelt stories of  mothering – stories of the mama bear love along with the real challenges I was facing.

When I had challenges meeting the demands of midnight nursing and pumping at work, I binge read support articles from La Leche Leauge.

When I had a break down because 9-5 and parenting did not mix well for me, I found authors and bloggers who had been where I was and read their words.

When I feared my second birth would be late and a possible induction loomed, I googled success stories of natural births that started with induction. There were many and I was able to visualize the birth I’d been planning for.

So here I am, faced with another challenge of trying to grow a small, handmade business while nurturing a growing family. Every time I find out a business owner is a mother, I immediately hope they’ve written a post on EXACTLY. WHAT. TO. DO. Then I exhale, and remember my favorite life lesson: that you already have all the answers buried within you. Trust yourself, Marjorie Sarah. 

I’ve yet to find that post and, well, nothing is ever that neat and tidy anyway, right?

It’s time again to set the intention on perseverance and give my attention to those that lift me up, then float with the energy.

My struggle is that everything is everywhere. Every thought and everything is tucked into various corners of my living space and I’m just trying to scoop them all together into a pile so I can make something of it.

I have a new goal that I established with my healthcare coach: to journal as a tool to work toward acceptance of everyday chaos. I get a $100 incentive if I reach two goals. Why not???

We are all busy, we are all crazed. At least that’s what it feels like and that’s what most people seem to be telling me. But this chapter of my life where I’m home with two young kids and a diabetic dog, has me feeling exceptionally spread thin.  It also has given me the gift of perspective. I’m able to see my reactions and patterns that appear over and over again. I used to think certain things were hard because of my job at that particular point in time. Oh crap, I see now, that it was me. I have the same reactions to completely different problems. I’m once again in complete overwhelm – it’s not because I’m a college senior or an administrative assistant or a memeberhsip manager or a paralegal anymore. It’s because I get overwhelmed easily. Oh, well now we have that one squared away.

As my latest read in book club has showed me, this path is winding and just when it gets hardest and you want to fold, endure and proceed. This is me doing just that. I keep thinking I should fold up this business. I love every second of it, but if I’m home with my kids (which I also love), why not just be home with my kids? Don’t add a whole bunch of crazy by making tons of awesome soap and lip balm. : ) I can barely get the laundry folded – why take on a business?

Because I love it. That’s what I keep coming back to. No one said it would be easy.

I will continue to make and craft amid the noise, the mess and the chaos. #makersgonnamake

I hope another maker mother finds this article and feels connected to someone on a similar path.

Namaste,

Marjorie Sarah

 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

The Woman I Hope To Be

Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

The Woman I Hope To Be

Listening to a snippet of something on NPR yesterday, I heard someone speak of the experience of your older self visiting you. “Wow,” I thought. I know exactly when that has happened to me – both times – yet I never had those words to succinctly describe the experience to myself.

Every day I wake, I have the option to choose my actions, choose my words, choose the food and the information I nourish myself (or deplete myself) with. Each day I can decide – what’s it gonna be today? Do I have the courage, the wisdom, the determination to fuel up or will I choose some form of food disguised as nourishment and some gossip disguised as conversation? The answer varies.

When I see women in their 60s, 70s & 80s who have beautiful gray hair, their eyes have evidence of frequent daily smiles and their yoga clothes tell the story of their lifetime dedication to their practice, I see who I hope to be.

The women who fondly smile at my children and next at me as they gently tell me how it felt like only yesterday that they were where I now find myself. The women who have made decades of wise food choices and have eliminated toxic self-talk and spent time attentively nurturing relationships they value most – these women are who I strive to be.

Not too long ago, it may have seemed more likely that I’d grow up to be more like the Long Island Medium* than a natural loving soapmaker.

I am neither, yet I will always be both. Labels can be limiting because we are all the sum of so many pieces of ourselves.

The future selves that have payed me visits and shared stories of life, love and loss left me feeling aware that no label or outward symbol, whether it be eyeliner or an organic cotton tee from Whole Foods, really matter in crafting how important the inner landscape of love is in defining your life as the woman you were, are and hope to be.

xo,
Marjorie Sarah

*The amount of hairspray and makeup I used to use is alarming. Thankfully, that has ended. CVS & Sephora surely suffered losses for many consecutive quarters. I hope they are doing well again.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Creating Clean Beauty Care

Family Inspiration Self-care Simplicity

Creating Clean Beauty Care

It feels unavoidable, everywhere I see stories about the dangers of using beauty products that are full of known toxins and hormone disruptors. Perhaps that’s because I have an interest in that topic and seek it out – who knows? Regardless, I thought it might be worth sharing some good resources in this area in case you have it on your list of things to research. It’s actively been on my list for years and that’s essentially why I began making my own lip balm and soap. If I’m already doing the homework, might as well share my notes.

I choose not to use fragrances in my lip balm, soap and bath salts because I started making these products to avoid those very things. I prefer plant based scents that essential oils provide and clay for natural colorants.

Mother's Day Gift Set
Peace Gift Set

I enjoy making a lot of personal care and cleaning products for my family, some of them don’t work well but many of them are exactly what I needed and all I did was scrounge up a bunch of ingredients around my house that I already had. *Special note, I do not enjoy the actual cleaning part.     : )-

It helps if I remind myself that I don’t need the perfect mason jar bottle with a cute label to get the job done. An old spray bottle or random jar has more often than not been the trusty container. And it doesn’t need to be instagram worthy, it just needs to make my family healthier. (I save the mason jars for my bath salt orders!)

Some good resources on this topic include:

If you’re more of a listenerThe Living Experiment

This episode goes into good detail on parabens, phalates and SLS and why to avoid them.

If you’re more of an online researcherThe Environmental Working Group

This website has been a go-to for me for years. They have a feature in the app where you can scan a barcode of the product and, if they’ve researched it, the score and details come up. They also produce a worthwhile sunscreen guide that I use every summer for my family.

If you’re a book in hand typeThe Honest Life, The Natural Beauty Solution, and Pure Soapmaking, and Kinder Homes: 50 Ideas for Creative Living are on my bookshelf.

I hope some of the resources shared above are helpful to you. Please share your favorite resources on the topic if you have any goodies!

xo,
Marjorie

 

Now What? On Choosing Authentic Self-Expression

Identity Inspiration

Now What? On Choosing Authentic Self-Expression

I remember vividly the emotions I felt in the wake of graduating from college. I used to dutifully do my work to come home often feeling totally empty. I was on the edge of my seat wondering when the awesome feeling of “I did it, I’m HERE, WORLD!” would hit me. Sometimes I waited for this feeling on my porch drinking beer. Or I waited for it while I watched Lost. I waited for it while I bounced around like a ping pong ball doing all the things that everyone asked me to do – the things I thought I should be doing.

The more I read peoples stories, have conversations and just look around, I see that many of us share this feeling of now what? at some point in life. For some, it permeates our whole life. For others it seems to come and go.

For me, the shift came with the transition to parenthood while finding my voice through therapy concurrently. I became aware of how automated most of my decisions had been up to that point in my life and my awareness grew as I learned to follow my curiosity in every aspect of life.

Authentic self-expression can help us make choices again and again that are in alignment with our top strengths. And that is what I understand the core of Positive Psychology to be.

You can take the character survey here for free to help you identify your top 5 strengths. Once you have them, use that information to generate opportunities for exercising those strengths daily as a foundation to leading an authentic life – one that is true to you and not the automated shuffle of everyone else that we can easily get stuck in like ants in honey.

For more on this, here’s a brief article on fostering authentic self-expression as a parent, teacher or supportive human.

My top 5 Strengths from the survey are: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Love of Learning, Love, Humor & Curiosity.

Go get yours! And let them make you smile and look inside of yourself. Share yours if you feel inclined. If not, you might record them in a notebook and ponder ways to cultivate activities that are in alignment with them.

Be well,

Marjorie

 

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Herbal Joy

Creating Inspiration Simplicity

Herbal Joy

Last year for Mother’s Day, I asked for an indoor herb garden in the kitchen. Sean took the kids to ikea alone (a gift in and of itself) and gathered the pots and racks and then actually HUNG them on the wall for me. It took many hours, this gift I asked for and he did it with love and grace. It was the best.

We planted herbs and watched them sprout and we were all so giddy. Then I neglected them and they all died. The end.

Plants dying has been a theme in my life until this summer when I declared that would no longer be the case! It’s not unusual to see me leaving the library with gardening books…that never get read. This time, I found a great book on homesteading and their herb section was short and sweet. I was determined to grow and nurture herbs this summer. I feel really connected to small herb plants, they bring me so much joy whenever I am in their presence. I need them in my life and I realized no one can make them stay alive for me except for me.

Potted thyme

I took some notes from my homesteading book in the late winter so when spring rolled around, I’d be ready. Honestly, the only thing I took note of was the importance of having holes in the bottom of pots and I learned how to drill a hole in them on youtube because many of my ikea pots didn’t have holes already. I know, this is basic but was big for me.

I also learned about adding gravel to the bottom of the pots for extra drainage, before the dirt goes in. So I walked out back to my gravel patio, grabbed a few handfuls and threw it in the bottom of my basil pot – because for that one I was using an actual metal pot with no holes. I’m also blessed with daily encouragement from my beautiful green thumb neighbors, Lynn and Yvonne.

And then I just had to remember to water them.

Mint and Rosemary

That was all a few months ago and I’m happy to report all of my green babies are still alive and thriving! The original crew: Lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary and basil have brought me so many smiles in the past couple of months. I bought all of them except the basil, which I grew from seed (!!!), at the Meadowbrook farm.

I like to throw some thyme, basil and mint in my scrambled eggs. I use the thyme and rosemary for skillet chicken at least 2x a week. I’m loving herbal water – adding mint and/or basil to our water and letting it sit for a few hours or overnight, it’s so refreshing!

I haven’t used the lavender yet, but I touch it and talk to it all the time. Maybe that’s all I need it for, I don’t know yet. When the first purple flowers opened, I was so proud of myself.

Cute herb spoon

And to reward myself for doing so awesome, last month when I was selling my soaps at the Morris Arboretum, I bought these CUTEST little spoon signs from a fellow vendor and added them to my little beauties. These things honestly had me looking up hand-stamped jewelry machines because I want to make a million of them!!!

To further reward myself, I added two new herbs to the family: lemon verbena and roman chamomile. I chose lemon verbena to add to water and possibly make tea with and the roman chamomile is such a soothing smell, I had to have it.

Rosemary Herb sign spoon

I get a lot of inspiration from the nerdy farmwife, so maybe someday I’ll start making herbal infused waters/teas to use in my soap recipes, but for now the main focus is to remember to water the plants daily and sit next to them and enjoy them.

Some other awesome herbal resources that I found include: thyme herbal and avivia romm md.

What’s your favorite way to use fresh herbs?

Happy Summer!

xoxo

Marjorie Sarah

 

Mexico = Vacation

Adventures & Travel Inspiration Self-care

Mexico = Vacation

“Willing to relocate,” was a phrase I put at the bottom of my resume in English class when I was 16. My mom and sister thought it was hilarious, but I was not joking. I’ve always been a wanderer, and if it’s not in the physical sense, it’s through hearing other people’s stories of their travels, books and dreams. Sean, my partner in this life, has the same desire to wander, it’s something that we share and talk about often. We enjoy taking adventures together, just the two of us, and it has been a while.

Riviera Maya Resort
Walking to dinner!!!

I never imagined we’d be ready to go anywhere without the kids until we were finally ready. Three nights in Mexico (!!) alone! It was a bit surreal, so so fun and everything I’d dreamed it would be.

I wouldn’t say we traveled often before kids, but for a while we took some pretty great trips during our dating years and early marriage. I’d studied in Italy and Sean was later stationed in Italy and Germany with the Air Force so we got to spend some time abroad together. Then in the 6 months before I was pregnant with Brady, we got to travel to St. John for my best friend’s wedding and then we did a 2 week journey from London to Rome.

Then we had kids. : )

Riviera Maya Resort
Grand Princess Sunset Resort

I’m an advocate of traveling with kids if that’s what you want to do. And it has been what we have chosen some of the time. We’ve ventured to Portland, Oregon, the Jersey Shore, Charleston and the Hudson Valley. Nothing too wild, but just enough for us to satisfy our cravings to discover new land, food and people.

We both love to travel and really enjoy it together so to be able to take a mini adventure with just each other was a huge gift (thank you to Sean’s parents and my mom).

I truly enjoy travel research and poking around to find a location and a place to sleep that is unique and fits our tastes. I like to build trips for our family.  So when we decided that we may be ready to spend 3 nights away without the kids (I originally proposed 2 nights and Sean countered with, “If we say three you have a deal.”) I got to work searching any and all direct “islandy” flights from Philadelphia. Our tropical destination awaits!

But then reality set in and the prices of airfare were nowhere near in our price range. I searched and searched and used all my travel notes and favorite resources to no avail. I concluded the search and told Sean, “If we’re meant to go, the right trip will find us.”

Grand Sunset Princess Resort Beach Mexico
The beach!!!

I kid you not, that evening we were watching something on TV and a commercial for Apple Vacations came on. I don’t remember the specifics, but the ad was something about $550 per person for 3 or 4 nights in Cancun including airfare, lodging, food, airport transfers and taxes. We paused the TV and were like, “Huh? How can this be real???” Well, I opened up the vacation search again and after some quick emails with Apple Vacations we were booked and going to Riviera Maya for 3 night getaway!!!!

Our contact at Apple was amazing, the process was ridiculously easy, the price was great and the trip was outstanding.

We flew Frontier (no complaints, actually really enjoyed it because the plane was new and the crew was super friendly), we stayed at the Grand Princess Sunset Resort in Riviera Maya. It was picture perfect. I honestly didn’t expect to be wowed because of the price, but we totally were. The grounds were gorgeous, the rooms were clean and pleasant and the staff was great. For an all-inclusive, the food was good, never great, but that is what I expected.

If you are considering this resort, here are my notes. If not, skip this paragraph.

  • If you go with kids, there is a kid building with pool and cute little kid lounge chairs. They have push cars to borrow and other fun things. Kids are welcome everywhere but this area really caters to families. We checked it out for future reference. We also talked to families and they all loved it.
  • The Platinum rooms are closest to the beach and are an upgrade that we wanted but were not available. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s even necessary because our room category (Junior Suite Deluxe) was perfect as it included the extra restaurants.
  • There is a shuttle that takes you to Playa Del Carmen daily for $4 per person each way.
  • One night a week they bring in local merchants and have a market in the hotel square. It was so cool.
  • Don’t go to the steakhouse. We enjoyed the Mexican Restaurant and La Fleur.
  • They stock your fridge daily with plenty of bottled water (and beer).
  • At the pool bar, try the Alexander if you like Baileys, try the Mango Tango if you like rum.
  • Dance at the nightclub.

The first two days were rainy and it was still a party. We went swimming in the rain, drank at the pool bar (excellent people watching) and went dancing at the resort night club. The energy at the resort was awesome and everyone was so excited to be on vacation.

Nearly everything went right for us on the trip and it was so fun to just sit and talk with my best friend for hours uninterrupted.

Grand Sunset Princess Resort Mexico

Top photo credit: Pineapple Supply Co.