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Mala Stories: Jenna on Acceptance and Faith

The Mala Stories highlight women that use motherhood as a catalyst for personal growth, strength, and connection. Showing that Motherhood isn’t something that robs you of your time and identity, but rather is something that brings to the surface a deeper connection to yourself, your community and the universe. That motherhood can be a time when you shed your insecurities, and self-doubt to step fully into the woman you are meant to be.

Today, we are thrilled to have Jenna's second installment, a courageous and beautiful story about surprises, fears, and ultimately, finding peace and letting go.

Jenna is a mother of 5, a wife and a brilliant photographer of Hobbs Photography.

 

When the twins were six months, my doctor suggested birth control, and amongst the blur of sleepless nights, breastfeeding them both, plus the energetic older children I had... "Yes." Was my response. "Yes, I do."

The Copper IUD sounded good and just like that I was worry free and content with our family of six. We agreed four kids was a good balance. We agreed that after surviving the newborn stage of twins we were happy to be done with babies and it felt right with each baby item that left the house. We were complete. Happy. Ready for whatever was next...

The twins weren't quite two yet and it was ordinary days. My eldest at school while I got to stay at home and soak up all those amazing moments, days, years with the three littlest. I love these years, I wish they would last forever... I swear I didn't say that out loud.

During these usual days of motherhood and life, I began to feel tired, nauseous and I could describe it no better way than, I was pregnant. We joked and said I must have mono, or an iron deficiency because I was not pregnant, I could not be pregnant, I had an IUD and had for over a year. I went to my doctor who assured me I was not pregnant and sent me for some tests but Travis, my husband, insisted I take the test before he went out of town for a couple weeks. I remember saying, "Okay, but I am 99.4% sure that it's going to be negative." Imagine our surprise. Our shock. Our confusion. Our 0.6%.

After google, nervous laughter, wide eyes and Travis offering to drive the thirty minutes to town to buy another test, I learned that this is rare, but can happen. I learned that actually quite a few women have gotten pregnant with an IUD and it most cases have it removed and go on to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. So I went to the doctor expecting to do so. But it turned into an emergency ultrasound when the IUD couldn't be found. I ironically prayed it fell out and it had not migrated into my uterus. The latter was true.

At this point, I wanted facts. I am a science girl. I wanted numbers, facts and statistics in which to base my emotions. The chances of a miscarriage if I took it out, so deep in my uterus. The chance of having a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. The chance of miscarriage or preterm labour. I didn't get any facts, nor the doctor or OBGYN could give me any.  I was told it was rare. I was told that I could have the IUD taken out, but this would probably cause miscarriage or compromise my cervix, unable to carry a baby full term. A pregnancy we didn't really want in the first place. Or I could keep both the IUD and baby, and take the risk of a miscarriage or preterm labour. No percentages. No chances. Just a decision I had to make.

I was mad, upset, confused. I had to make a decision, about a baby I didn't ask for. About a baby I took precautions to not have.

I was a mother. A mother to four, well I saw it as five, I was pregnant. How could I say no? I was capable, and something, some small thing in my gut said I needed to let it be. I was most content in the fact to let whatever may happen - a miscarriage, preterm labour, or a healthy fifth child - happen, without my or anyone's interference. Let nature, fate, whatever it may be, happen. So this baby and this IUD I would keep.

I had to take on the heartache of deciding to have and want this baby, but also with the circumstance of possibly losing this baby. At the same time, I had to let go of my fears of adding another child, becoming a family of seven. Seven. Where would they all sleep? Would they fit in the minivan? How was I suppose to leave the house?

When I attended my first midwife appointment I discovered that one of my midwives, was an IUD baby, an IUD baby that shared a uterus a whole 40 weeks with a similar piece of metal to what I housed, I couldn't help but feel hopeful.

Each week passed by and the fear slowly turned to joy. I was constantly aware of what stage of development the baby was in, in case something happened. When I hit the thirty weeks, thirty two, thirty three, I was confident and most of my fears faded and were replaced with anticipation and joy for what life has brought us. I forget that it's even in there. The IUD. Now 38 weeks.

The experience has taught me so much. So much about life. About how we can try to plan, we can think we have things in our hands, but ultimately it is how we live, how we react to what life gives us. We are so small in this big beautiful thing called life. It has taught me value. To be thankful for everything I do have. For my babies. For my health. For my fertility, for my uterus, for my ability as a women. It has centered me. It has made me a stronger woman. I am a strong woman. A mom to five children. Five. How lucky. How very lucky I am.

 

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Top 5 Family Destinations To Connect With Nature

By the end of summer, we can all start to get restless, and hope for something to keep the kids entertained while not being overwhelmed. Sure fairs and theme parks are fun, but do our kids really get a sense of presence and peace from them? Probably not. I’ve put together a list of destinations in North America where you can connect with nature, your family, and create amazing memories for years to come.



Stand Tall

I didn’t think anything is cooler than trees when I was a kid. My grandparent’s had an amazing, huge tree in their backyard that we always climbed that made me feel like I was on top of the world.The kid in me would have been thrilled to visit some of the tallest trees in the world.

In Redwood National Park in California you can walk among the 2,000 year old trees that are 375 feet tall. There are hiking trails, biking trails, horseback riding and camping. Sleeping under the stars with the colossal trees sounds like a perfect way to end the day.

For more information, click here.

 

Can You Dig It?

The Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller is Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the science of palaeontology. Not only do they have the world’s largest number of dinosaurs on display, there is a lot of other great activities to do in and around the museum! Kids and adults will love this day of learning and discovery.

Drumheller is in the Alberta badlands, which offer amazing guided or solo hiking excursions. In the badlands you will also find hoodoos, canyons, ghost towns and a suspension bridge.

End the day at one of the many campsites, and enjoy the sun setting over the red rocks.

For more information on the Royal Tyrrell Museum, click here.

For information on exploring the badlands, click here.

 

Celebrate Canada!

Canada celebrated 150 years this year, and the Canadian National Parks are offering free admission for the year! Whether it’s a staycation, or a destination for your family, Canada is a beautiful country with an amazing landscape of the sea, mountains, and everything in between!

The Rocky Mountains are my backyard, so I’m a little partial to Banff National Park and the surrounding area. Start the day with one of the many incredible hikes for all ages and skill levels,  canoe on scenic Lake Louise, and stop to enjoy the breathtaking views of Morainne Lake (pictured) during an afternoon picnic. If you’re lucky you might even get to spot an elk, coyote, bear or a moose. End the night under the stars camping in one of the beautiful mountain campsites, or spend the night at a castle like Banff Springs hotel!

Wherever you stay, or whatever activities you decide to do, the kids will definitely be in awe of their surroundings.

 

For more information on all of Canada’s National Parks, click here.

 

Paradise Found

Of course Hawaii is going to be on this list...it’s cliche, yes. But have you experienced Hawaii before? If you have, then you now what I’m feeling.

Hawaii is truly one of the most magical places in the world. You feel it as soon as you get off the plane. Yes, there are beaches, and yes they are amazing. But there’s so much more to do in Hawaii, on all the islands.

Kauai is my favorite island because it’s very lush. It has Waimea canyon, which is a full day hike, kayak tours up the Wailua River which ends with a short hike to a hidden waterfall.

The Big Island has an active volcano you can tour, rainforests to explore, and desert areas.  Mauna Kea is the world’s tallest mountain, and you can take a tour to the top to watch the sunset and the most amazing star show you’ll ever see! What better way to reconnect with family and nature then seeing the universe unfold before your eyes?

All the islands offer fishing, snorkeling, hiking, camping, surfing...you name it. It has so much beauty everywhere you look, it takes your breath away.

For these and more adventures in Hawaii, click here.

 

Look In Your Own Backyard

Whether it’s your own backyard, a staycation, or a destination, immerse your soul in nature with your family. Explore, reconnect, ground yourself in the beauty that surrounds us.Those little day trips to places nearby can have an amazing effect on the being and create lifelong memories. Check out camping spots, day trips or new trails you haven’t explored yet!

 

We’d love to see where your family adventures this summer! Tag us on Instagram and Facebook!

 

 

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Using Mindful Accessories to be more present, patient and intentional with the ones you love.

What Is A Mala Breakthrough?

You’ve picked out your mala with care, you’ve worn it often and meditated with it frequently. You smell it’s sandalwood and use it to calm down or just relax. And then maybe one day it breaks. You are heartbroken. But a mala breaking can be an amazing thing.

A mala that has been broken is called a ‘Mala Breakthrough’. It is considered a sign of karmic progression and is something to be fully celebrated. Gemstones have a way of releasing you when they are no longer useful, and a broken mala can symbolize lessons learned and new beginnings. Your mala may have taken a lot of energy, and now it’s done its job.

After having a mala breakthrough it is recommended to sit and meditate on the original description and intentions of the mala and process any breakthroughs or progression.

 

If you feel you experienced a mala breakthrough you can have your mala beads restrung and keep them on your altar or mirror as a symbol of your progress, or you can scatter the beads throughout your home or garden in a ceremony to celebrate the breakthrough.

Sometimes accidents happen and malas get caught on clothing, babies pull on them, etc. If you feel that you have not yet had a breakthrough and you are still supported by the intention of the mala beads, continue to wear them after they have been restrung with a new intention that honors where you are now.

Have you experienced a mala breakthrough? Tell us your story on Facebook or Instagram, we would love to hear it!

 

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Using Mindful Accessories to be more present, patient and intentional with the ones you love.

My Motherhood: Kelly Howland

For the My Motherhood series, we ask different women the same series questions about mindfulness and motherhood to see what works for other women, but also to show how even though we may be different, we are all in this together.

Today we are featuring Kelly Howland, a mindful mama that enjoys slow living in the Midwest. She is a wife and mama of 3. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

What does your perfect day look like?

The smell of slow roasted coffee climbing the stairs to accompany streaks of light pouring over my bed from an opportunity to sleep in until I naturally awake.  Slow mornings of shuffling around the kitchen, local Michigan maple syrup over pancakes, and children who contentedly read books without arguing while I enjoy birds and my wind chimes on the front porch.  A nature walk with my children while my sons get to run and explore and I follow behind with my baby wrapped up in a sling. Conversations that have substance and deepens a friendship with someone who continually challenges me to evaluate and reach for my highest potential and dreams. Snuggles on the couch with my lover, shopping for groceries at the local farmer’s market, and successfully baking a homemade pie cuss-word free.

Do you have any daily rituals you use to center yourself?

The one thing that I can take anywhere with me is my breath.  It may seem cliche because everyone talks about breath work, but that is because the centering power of your own breath is of vital importance.  Between mothering three children, all age three and under, running my own business full time out of my home, and being the wife of an extrovert while I’m an introvert calls for a lot of necessity to keep my grounding and centering practice.  I try to be very mindful of my breath - to not let it get too shallow or too rapid, to not hold it or let it hiss through my teeth.  I also hum and sing old church hymns.  It brings back the familiarity of my childhood, the melodies are soothing, and there is something grounding about going back to old familiarities deeply rooted within your memories.  

How do you make time for the different facets of your life?

I have worked intentionally on this for the last year and two words that come to mind are “boundaries” and “choices.”  It’s important to remember with our jobs and responsibilities that there’s a difference between what we really must accomplish and what we perceive we must accomplish.  Often, we are the ones that put the most burdens and restraints upon our own schedules and we have much more freedom to lift those burdens with discernment over what we really need to do and our power to say “no.”

Something that has helped me is continually checking in with myself and evaluating the different parts of my life that matter to me - being a mom, a businesswoman, a friend, a lover etc - and I ask myself, “Is there an area that feels like it’s taking over my life and overwhelming me to the point where it’s no longer enjoyable? Is there an area of my life that I miss, that I long for, and feel like I haven’t nurtured in a while?” When I get my answers, I reevaluate my boundaries in what may be tipping the scales too far and I consciously make choices that allow me to invest in parts of my life that may be running dry.

Do you have any special family rituals?

We have a beautiful, thriving farmer’s market just a mile away that is open year round. My husband and I regularly take our children to the market to wander the booths and buy as many of our groceries as we can from the local farmers.  It’s a simple ritual that means a lot to me.  I want my children to grow up knowing the names and faces of the people who grew their food and remember being taught to say thank you to the farmers for their hard work.  It’s my hope that they learn to value the privilege of eating locally and take their own children to the farmers market someday too.  

What is the best advice you have ever given or received about motherhood?

I’m not sure that this is advice so much as it is a reassurance.  I went to a conference last year and heard Glennon Doyle speak and she said, “There is a big difference between loving your children and loving parenting your children.”  Those words both hit me profoundly while simultaneously lifted a self imposed burden that had been suffocating my heart.  Until that point, I was stuck in this self deprecating cycle of questioning both my love for my children and my sanity from constantly swinging back and forth between being enamored with love for my children one moment and then questioning why I ever had any the next.  My eyes were opened to the reality that there is a world of difference between loving my children for who they are as people in my life and having to grit my teeth through the difficult days of navigating tantrums, breaking up sibling fights, negotiating vegetable consumption, and surviving the Battle of Bedtime.  Not only am I allowed to not love these parts of my parenting responsibilities, not loving these scenarios has no bearing on the love I have for my actual children and who they are.  The freedom to compartmentalize these concepts and the freedom to admit I don’t always like being a parent gave me a lot more room to express and embrace my love for my children without the baggage of self doubt.

What is your favorite part of motherhood?

The twinkle in my children’s eye when they run up to me with pure excitement to show me a discovery or treasure that they’re proud of.  Wild blonde hair and dirty hands from exploring the world I put them in.  Little bodies accordioned up onto my lap and whispers of “I love you” before they finally fall asleep.

 

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Planning A Mother's Blessing

 

A Mother's Blessing is a wonderful alternative to a baby shower to celebrate a woman's rite of passage into motherhood.

Photo courtesy of Megan Boone

 

Respectfully inspired by a sacred Navajo ceremony, called a Blessingway, a Mother's Blessing is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the mama-to-be (and recurring mamas, too!) as the women in her life come together as her ‘village’ to show their support and love for her as she continues on this journey.

Since the Mother's Blessing is all about supporting the mother to be on her journey, ask her what would help support her the most at this phase in her journey, alongside a few of our favourite activities to include in her Mother Blessing.

Lift her up

Discussing positive, happy birth stories in a circle is one of the best ways to calm an anxious mama. She’s probably feeling a little lost and frightened, so hearing how other women got through it is a big help. 

She may also want to take this time to ask questions, or voice her concerns. Being around a positive group of strong women telling their birth stories is one of the most magical things you can experience.

You can also go around the circle and talk about the guest of honor, or tell your favorite story of her.

Make her feel beautiful

Pregnant women are truly the most gorgeous people, but not all women feel that way while pregnant. Maybe she feels too big, swollen, frumpy, etc. Making a flower wreath for her is a great option.

Photo courtesy of Megan Boone


I also love adorning her with henna (it’s a safe and medicinal natural dye) art on the belly. Call around to your local henna artists to see if they can do it, or even just use non toxic washable paints! The result is a stunning work of art that is truly unique and will leave her feeling beautiful and empowered.

Photo courtesy of Cat McAteer

 

Light the way

When you know she has gone into labor, light a candle in solidarity. You can blow it out once the baby has made it earth-side.

 

Cutting the cord

At the ceremony, pass around a ball of yarn for the guests to wrap around their wrists as many times as they would like, and they pass it to the next person. You can wish them joy, a swift, easy birth, etc. The idea is the network of these women being all together. The mama-to-be is the last one to wrap it and cut it. You then keep the yarn around your wrist until the baby has arrived.

 

Photo courtesy of Cat McAteer


Fill her cup

Write the mama stories or jokes and seal it in an envelope. These uplifting letters can be read during labor, breastfeeding late nights, or whenever she seems to be in a slump. It’s a wonderful reminder that we’re all in this together and that it truly does take a village.

Be with her in spirit

One of the rituals I adore most about the Mother Blessing  is having all the participants create a necklace for the mama to be to wear during childbirth. In fact, this ritual was actually the inspiration for the Mama Mala Kit.

All of the women in attendance add a few beads to the strand, infusing it with their love, well wishes and intentions for the mama to be and the baby. The mama then uses it as a focal point during labor where she can call upon the wonderful energy all of her sisters put into the piece.

The wonderful thing about the activities you do at the ceremony, is that they will help her as she continues on with her labor as well.

Today when women become pregnant there are lots of baby showers and gifts for the baby. It can be overwhelming and a bit nerve wracking.

At a Mother's Blessing, no gifts are brought, but bringing a ready made freezer meal is a great way to help her family after the baby has arrived.

With a Mother Blessing, it’s all about the mama and helping her get through her fears, building up her confidence and sharing positive, healing stories. Helping her become mentally and physically prepared for not only the birth, but what comes after.

 

Photo courtesy of Cat McAteer

 

We would love to see your Mother's Blessing photos! Tag us on Instagram or Facebook!



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HOW TO CHOOSE A MANTRA FOR YOUR MALA BEADS

 

Finding the best mantra for meditation can be as tricky as choosing the perfect mala.

Much like finding the perfect stones, your mantra should reflect what you need most at that time. Maybe it’s more strength, a sense of calm, or even just the desire to relax into the present moment.

A mantra is a word or phrase that you would repeat while meditating that helps you stay focused. To start, concentrate on what you are asking from the universe and what you’d like your intentions to be.

The mantra you choose should be focused on helping you to reach your goals for the future, but it is also important that it leave you feeling peaceful and fulfilled right now. Motherhood is a whirlwind, and meditation is such a valuable tool to help you stay calm and present in even the roughest moments.

Choosing one word to focus on is a great place to start if you are new to mantra meditation. The continuous repetition helps you to fall into your meditation with ease, and let go of all the background thoughts in your head. You can choose to just repeat the word itself, or to give it a bit more power, add the words I AM before your chosen word. Silently say “I am” with each inhale, and your chosen word on each exhale. Let the words soak into every cell in your body.

Many mantras contain the “Om” sound. Om is said to be the sound of all creation, and is a wonderful way to settle into your body. Take a deep breath, let your belly relax completely and exhale the “Aaaauuuuummmmm”. You should feel the sound reverberating from your pelvic floor upward through the crown of the head, filling the body with pulsating energy that simultaneously empowers and radiates tranquility.

Sat Nam (I Am Truth)

So Hum (I Am That, represents the interconnectedness of all living things)

Om Sat Chit Ananda (Sanskrit for Bliss)

 

 

The Gayatri Mantra is one of the most revered and ancient mantras today. While it is a little longer, it is a very cathartic mantra. It encourages us to be lead by the universe, as it is most divine. (Follow the link to a chant on youtube.)

 Om bhur buvah svah

Tat savitur varemyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

Dhiyo yonah prachodyat

 

Malas are made up of 108 +1 beads since it is said that our bodies contain 108 major physical and subtle energy channels that reach the heart chakra. By meditating with your mala beads and chanting or listening to  a mantra 108 times the energy from the mantra permeates both the physical and energetic body. The 109th bead, also called the ‘guru’ bead, signifies the beginning and end of your meditation practice. The larger guru bead holds the intention of your mala. End the meditation at the guru bead by giving thanks to the teachers that have helped you along your path, and setting or reaffirming your intentions.

If your day starts to get off track, hold onto your Mama Mala to soak up its peaceful energy and remember your intentions.

 

 

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Using Mindful Accessories to be more present, patient and intentional with the ones you love.

Easy Ways To Celebrate the Summer Solstice as a Family

The Summer Solstice is the perfect time to reflect on your intentions for the summer and take some time to celebrate the beauty the season has to offer. We celebrate the beginning of summer, and the light and joyful energy it brings.  

It is a time of celebrating the fullness of life and of taking the time to raise our energy to regenerate abundance and manifest our dreams.

Below are a few of our favorite ways to celebrate this magical day as a family.

Celebrate the end of the longest day with a bonfire

Summer means light and warmth, so what better way to honor that than with a bonfire! Get the kids involved by having them help gather supplies, and create a beautiful mandala around the fire pit. Once lit, dance around the fire, sing songs, and tell stories.

If you don't have a fire pit at home, check out a local park that does, or light a couple candles instead!

Plant Something Wonderful

Plant some flowers! This is a wonderful activity that can continue throughout the summer for you and the kids to enjoy. Pick out some seeds of your favorite flowers (or just super bright and colorful ones) and get growing! As the summer progresses, watch their progression as a family.

 

Adorn Yourself with Nature

Flower crowns are a fun, beautiful and fairy-like way to celebrate the beauty nature provides. Use often overlooked dandelions to make a sun crown, or choose some of the leaves and flowers already blooming nearby. 

An alternative to flower crowns is using a bit of vaseline and a small makeup brush to create temporary floral tattoos. Just pick the petals off your favorite blooms, flatten them in a book, and apply with a tiny bit of vaseline to seal them on your skin.

 

Simply Get Outside

Spending time outdoors by going on walks, to the lake, or to the park is one of the best ways to celebrate the season. Enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair and the smell of the flowers in bloom.

 We would love to hear how your family celebrates! Tag us on Instagram with your photos.

Want to learn more about how to stay in tune with the cycles of intention and reflection within nature? Download your free New Moon Ceremony PDF and Guided Meditation to keep moving forward after your Summer Solstice Celebration.

 

 

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Using Mindful Accessories to be more present, patient and intentional with the ones you love.

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