TOC MOM RETREAT GIVEAWAY

giveaway

Our friends at Extra Space Storage, a self-storage company that helps relieve stress during life transitions, believe that parents deserve a break and are excited to giveaway a FREE package for one lucky mom to the Surf & Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica, May 2 – 7, 2016! Here’s how to enter:

  1. Grab a tissue and WATCH the video below.
  2. Life is full of all kinds of transitions: marriage, having a baby, toddlers, teenagers, losing a job, finding a job, divorce, finishing college, moving, illness, recovery, etc. TELL US your story about how you grew through a transition in your life, how you made room for life, in the comments below. If you’re not already a member of Tropic of Candycorn, adding comments will create a member profile in our community.
  3. SHARE your comments and inspire others on Facebook and Instagram. REPOST the giveaway image or your own photo that captures your life transition triumph and include the hashtags #makeroomforlife and #tocmomretreat.
  4. FOLLOW Extra Space Storage on Instagram (click here) and Facebook (click here).
  5. FOLLOW Tropic of Candycorn on Instagram (click here) and Facebook (click here).

Thank you Extra Space Storage for participating in this retreat! We value companies that provide a great service to families, but we are especially grateful that you care about your clients and provide hope and security.

Extra Space Storage will select a winner with preference to mothers. If you are not a mom, but would like to nominate one, please include the name of the mother in the comments below and on Facebook and Instagram. Winner announced by Extra Space Storage on Saturday, April 2.

Rules and Conditions: Contest entry constitutes agreement to the rules and conditions. Giveaway participants must be 21 years or older and female. Submission content, including photos, may be used by Extra Space Storage for marketing purposes. Estimated trip value is $3,550 and includes an airfare voucher. Flights will need to be arranged independently. 

Comments

37 responses to “TOC MOM RETREAT GIVEAWAY

  1. says:

    SAMPLE ENTRY: I didn’t expect to find myself juggling homeschooling on top of my other work, home and family responsibilities. But here I am, homeschooling my third-grader. The thing you need to know about this boy is that he has a bewitching twinkle in his blue eyes that even draws strangers to him when we travel. He is bright and funny and at ease in the world. Until this year. This year, he started to wither and all the things about him that make him, well, him started to fade. He was extremely unhappy at our neighborhood school with a teacher who seemed to elicit more fear from him than learning. He was afraid to make a mistake; afraid to ask questions; afraid to learn. After working unsuccessfully with the school to find a solution, my husband and I realized this boy needed something drastic to jumpstart his faith in himself and his desire to learn. That’s when I un-enrolled him from public school and started homeschooling him. I was scared out of my mind — scared to let him down and scared to take on more to my already full plate. Our first day of homeschooling (picture below) consisted of some of the basic subjects, but it also involved listening to old British rock records on the player and acting out all of the similies and metaphors while my son wore a steampunk mask. When I tucked him in that night, for the first time in a months, he kissed me on the lips, and then thanked me for teaching him. We’ve been homeschooling for a month. Some days are magical, and some days are ordinary, but all of them are bringing us closer together and pushing us to grow.

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  2. Who knew that sending your baby to all-day kindergarten would be one of the biggest transitions of a mother’s life? Oh, everyone knows that?! For the past fourteen years, I have done everything with a little sidekick, or two… or three. I worked from home as my kids were little and needy. When my oldest child went to kindergarten, I was relieved to have one less kid for a few hours everyday. Everyone told me that I would cry on her first day of school. I think I was the only mother who jumped in the air and clicked her heels when the school bell rang. When my second child went to kindergarten, I patted him on the head and wished him good luck. When my third child went to kindergarten, I was admittedly a little verklempt, but relieved that he was so excited to start school with his older siblings. The next four years I spent with my baby during the day. He would help me with work and errands, he loved to aid me with chores, and was the greatest little sidekick that you ever did see. The day that he started kindergarten (all-day with a packed lunch, just like his brothers!), I walked home alone from the school and cried for an hour. My oldest was now in eighth grade and teased me that I never cried for her, because she wasn’t the golden child like the youngest seemed to be. But it was more than that. I cried for my former life. It was gone and I had to find out who I was as a mother and individual in this next phase of life: one without a permanent sidekick. Fourteen years I had a child with me at almost all times. Now it was just me all day. Alone with my thoughts, my work, my errands and chores. Nobody to talk to in the grocery store or driving in the car. No superhero movies playing in the background as I wrote on the computer or made meals. I was alone… for a huge chunk of time every weekday. This has not been an easy transition, and one I am still working on. I have had to do a lot of soul searching and meditating, trying to figure out who this Phase Two Mother and woman is. I have had to make room for new work, new relationships, and find fulfillment… alone. I have discovered that when I take care of my health and mind during these alone hours, that I am much more receptive to my chidlren’s needs once they get home from school. This transition has proven to be the most self-aware time of my life, with more stillness and more loneliness than I have ever experienced before. It is uncomfortable, to be sure, but I am confident that when summer break comes, I will look back and wish I could have a few more days… in peace and quiet all alone.

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  3. says:

    These days it seems that I am always in a state of transition!
    I have a high school freshman mustache grower, a 5th grade latency aged disorganized gorgeous hot mess , and a 2 year old hyperactive busy body tearing down all of my 41 year old defenses despite ample amounts of caffeine consumption. All my accounts are overdrawn today (I just paid taxes), as I type I have a Migraine. I have conflicting work meetings that are now interfering with my scheduled carpool pickup. It seems that through many of my small and immense life transitions, from experiencing job loss, financial crisis, full time work, part time work, no work, and life’s unexpected turns along the way there has been heartache, disappointment, frustration and lack of hope.

    However, through each transition, there has also come great lessons learned, opportunities to grow, connections that would have not been made otherwise, chances to take self care seriously, and much richer experiences to look back on–EVEN with fondness. It is these raw moments in life that have made me stronger as a woman, mother, and person.

    Would I make different decisions? Sure.
    Would I trade my transitional experiences? Never.
    These “opportunities” mean I’m alive! Human! Capable! Vulnerable! Imperfect! And that I’m definitely not alone.

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  4. says:

    After 34 years of single life, when I finally got married it was in some ways an easy transition, but as I look back a pretty major one. My husband is an attorney, and since the day we got married studying for the bar and then beginning to practice has been a major part of our lives. For better or worse the first job he landed had him doing family law (mostly divorce) which is not his preference. He is now with a new firm, but still doing family law. To put it bluntly, it has NOT been easy. He is stressed almost constantly. Juggling 40+ cases filled with people at their lowest and worst is not easy, especially since he is such a kind and sensitive person. He can’t do anything but the best work and cares enormously about the well-being of his clients. This means he often winds up doing more work than he is paid for and going above and beyond. I admire his kind heart and don’t really want him to grow a thicker skin, but I also get so sad seeing him working so hard with so little return. Financially the struggle is real between law school debt and me working on a small family business. As we have navigated this fairly rough transition together we have learned a lot. I feel like after almost three years of marriage I am finally getting it that love is not transactional. I don’t think I consciously, but I certainly treated it that way. What I mean is, for a long time I would show love to my husband, but at some level expect something in return. As my husband has struggled to barely keep his head above water I have found that loving him really means just giving love. I have found that if I have any sort of expectation about something in return that expectation adds one more weight to his load. As I have given just pure love for the sole sake of loving, I find that it provides a place of rest for him beyond anything else I could do. I have also discovered that when I have no expectations and just give love I’m much happier too. Despite the difficulties of this stage of life I feel peaceful, grounded, and hopeful for great things to come. While financially global travel is out of the question these days, I’m hopeful someday that will be a reality!

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  5. says:

    The youngest of my two children graduates from high school this June and the eldest begins his final year of college in the fall. This is by far the most challenging transition of my life! I’m facing my daughter moving away for school and my son moving away, possibly for good (although you never know these days). When our kids were little my husband and I would talk about what it would be like when these little humans were adults someday, but man, we (or I) did not realize someday would come so fast. One of the hardest things to comprehend is not being together all the time. We’re tight… we really, really actually like each other. We have done most things for the past 18+ years as a foursome. We have all kinds of inside jokes and a language of communication amongst ourselves that has baffled not just a few friends and acquaintances. I know those relationships won’t end, but I know they will change. It’s hard to know that something that’s pretty great is going to change. But, I have hope that the changes will be good ones and that sooner, rather than later, our family will expand when my kids choose partners to share their lives with and then possibly have children of their own. I’m choosing to embrace this transition, but I gotta say… the parenting of adult children is not for the faint of heart!

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  6. says:

    I am recently divorced single mom of 2 boys. I had to start working a full time job and move into an apartment so I can take care of my boys and work from home. I have learned that I can do hard things. I have anxiety and depression and my oldest son has ADHD, anxiety, and OCD. We go to therapy which helps alot, but we have never been able to take a trip more than 4 hours away and my boys have never been to the ocean. I don’t have alot of support, but I rely on my faith and my religion for strength. I want my boys to have a happy, healthy life and I know I need to take care of myself as well to make sure I am a good, strong mom. I would love a relaxing getaway, it would be amazing! Thank you for doing this contest!

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  7. We recently moved into a new home, away from family. Even though we had been married and living in our own home with our own little family, moving away (only 25 minutes…but I digress) caused a shift or a transition. We were in a sense bonded together as a little family unit because there were less outside distractions. My husband and I together decided to make a change and we started exercising and eating healthier. We have both lost about 50 pounds each which has completely changed our day to day life. We have energy and positivity. I am now starting to get to a place where I’m happy with myself. I’m confident. And I feel like making that change – getting it of our comfort zone of living next to our extended family – has allowed me to make the necessary changes to continue to push myself forward.

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  8. In 2013 my family struggled through the most challenging transition of our lives to date. We lost my mother to AML, a very fast acting leukaemia, one month from the day of her diagnosis. To say that her death was sudden and unexpected would be a gross understatement. Before we had fully understood her diagnosis, we were grappling with living without her. That transition challenged me as a daughter, a new mother, a fiancé, a newly graduated teacher and eldest sibling. I found myself overwhelmed by the responsibility I now faced. Through the hard days and dark times I found light in my daughter, in teaching young students with special needs, and mostly in finding a new connection to my own health. I had always erred on the side of unhealthy indulgence. My mother’s illness and untimely death at 51 taught me to reevaluate my health. I learned a new way of connecting to physical activity and eating for my health and life. I connected my health to being present for my new husband and my daughter. I connected my health to being capable of helping my father live a long and happy life, to being a responsible example to my siblings and to being a happier version of myself; as my mother would have wanted for me. Losing my mother was the most profound loss I have ever experienced. It was also a pivotal moment in the creation of a new and healthy me. It has made me more clear about my purpose in life.

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  9. says:

    When I became a mom, I lost myself in my kid’s life. But then I stared wanting my daughter to grow up to be strong and independent. So I realized: if I wanted her to be true to herself, I needed to model that behavior in my own life. That’s when I started painting. I’ve kept painting and trying to carve out a business for my portraits, not out of desperation, but because it is my dream. It is living out the truth that’s inside me. And it’s the best way I know of to model a healthy lifestyle for my kid as she grows up.

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  10. says:

    Over the past four and a half years, I’ve jumped into relationships because I didn’t want to be alone. I buried myself in work and told myself I was healing from the aftershock and pains of going through a divorce with a and starting a new life alone with a 3 year old when in reality I was running away from everything I needed to embrace. I thought I needed the attention as I attempted to recreate the structure, consistency, security and commitment I was accustomed to, but I was forgetting something really important—I didn’t need a man or a career for that, I needed to discover and cultivate all of those qualities within me before I looked for them in anyone or anything else. 4 1/2 years later, I’m happier than I’ve ever been and my relationship with my son is better than I could ever imagine!! I never set out to be a single parents… I did however have goals and ambitions to be the best mother in the world, and that has never changed!! My hands are full, life is crazy and busy, but my heart could nearly burst! I promise you I am the luckiest mom in the world ❤️

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  11. Today my son Auggie was shouting at me from the back of the mini (van.) It’s not the he was upset, he was simply concerned as to how many tomorrows there are until his next swimming lesson. He was having trouble hearing me over his big sister Harper in the seat next to him singing “Let me see you work, work, work, work, work.” A completely and totally age inappropriate song I know, but hey, I’ve got bigger fish to fry right and I turn down the other lyrics (at least that’s what I tell myself and the preacher man who happens to be my husband)…. anyways, the conversation went something like this; August: “Mom, can you turn down the music?” Me: “Yeah, what’s up Auggie?” August: “How many tomorrows until my next swimming lesson?” Harper: “Mom, can you turn up the music?” Me: “Hold on Harper. It’s in one week Auggie.” August: “So, it’s in one tomorrow?” Me: No, it’s in …. ” And so on and so forth. All the while his two year old brother Silas is screaming his new go to phrase “PLEASE MOVE.” I’ve tried to explain to him the irony in screaming “PLEASE MOVE” and the fact that the correct context to use it is not in our car but it seems lost on him. As I look in the rear view mirror completely distracted I see my sweet Rosie rocking one heck of a mullet and I realize I still haven’t finished her yarn twists and she’s been major business in the front and party in the back all week at Kindergarten. This is my life. It is full of interruptions, messes, dance parties, last minute errands, backyard exploration and a million trips to the potty. It is full of bandages, mommy mistakes and endless days of top knots and no makeup. It is full of learning, forgiveness, love and grace. Transitioning to the role of mother has been the greatest, most challenging, and most rewarding time of my life. The transition seems to not end but rather be an evolution of sorts. I chuckle as I write this because the unending part seems almost terrifying. It’s true though, there’s a rhythm to it. Life throws all sorts of obstacles at you as a mom. You jump over hurdles with coffee in hand and baby on back. I thank my lucky stars that when I fall I have four brave little ones who love me hard. My life is full. I’m so glad I made room for it 🙂

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  12. says:

    The doctor walked into our ultra sound room and said, “Her head, heart, spine and lungs look fine…but it’s the limbs. All of them…are deformed, misshapen or missing bones all together.” BOOM. With that one sentences our lives were changed forever. The journey and transition to becoming a special needs family is one that is similar for so many… it begins with blinding fear–fear for your child, your family, your future, for life itself and everything you thought you knew. This is not what we signed up for, I’m not that mom.–and it morphs and evolves into a love and acceptance so deep that not only do you scarcely remember a time without wheelchairs and therapy appointments, you embrace and even prefer this newer, more whole, more beautiful and complex understanding of humanity. Our family is so much more than a special needs family, our daughter is so much more than a person with special needs, but it’s also an important part of our and her identity…and it’s a beautiful part at that. I’ve learned that strength is found in vunerability and that every one of us is disabled in one way or another. And conversely, we ALL have abilities that others don’t have. I’ve learned that an ultrasound appointment is not the whole picture of who any one person is–for better or for worse every single human being is a gamble! Life and the human body are valuable and priceless beyond measure simply for existing. Regardless of our successes, failures, abilities, disabilities, strengths and weaknesses our value doesn’t change. While all my children opened up my heart in ways I never expected, this daughter in particular opened up an entirely new view on and understanding of humanity…a view I most certainly would have continued to live in ignorance about. Now when I think back to that ‘terrible day’ with the ‘terrible news’ I think, Oh…it was just her all along, and I smile.

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  13. We had our 4 perfect munchkins. 4 c-sections, 1 hernia and 2 boys and 2 girls later, we were “done”. My body simply couldn’t handle carrying or delivering any more babies. But why did we sometimes feel like we weren’t done? Why did we feel like we were missing someone? Why was I always baby hungry? Then one day we got a phone call, that as cliche as it sounds, changed our lives forever. There was a set of infant twins that were in desperate need of a new home. My husband and I didn’t even have to discuss it for more than 5 minutes. We knew immediately, that these babies were meant to be ours. Much to our relief, right from the get-go, the big 4 (ranging in age from 3-8) were smitten. They knew as well- these chubby little twins were always meant to be with us. Needless to say, the last few months have been full of changes for us. Suddenly and unexpectedly becoming parents to 6 kids 8 and under, moving to accommodate our new family size, deciding to homeschool, and most recently, my military hubby receiving deployment orders to Iraq. As I tried to wrap my head around all the changes and stressors that were going on, I desperately tried to keep things as normal as possible, in an effort to make all these transitions as smooth as I could for the kids. (and lets be honest, for my own sake as well) To keep anything that was in my control, the same as its always been. I wanted to continue to make from scratch all our meals and desserts. I wanted to decorate the house for all the different holidays, events and seasons. I wanted to plan elaborate parties for each birthday. I wanted to go to bed each night with the house spotless, telling myself that I just function better when the house is perfectly clean. I wanted our school room to be organized 100% of the time. I wanted to teach them all Spanish and guitar. As I struggled to keep my head above water, and frequently finding myself on the verge of tears, I would give myself little pep talks, “this is what’s best for the kids, just suck it up. Can you even imagine how much more stressed you would feel if the house was a wreck?”. Then one day as I was frantically trying to frost the homemade sugar cookies with homemade frosting to take to a church function, it hit me. The babies were pulling at my apron strings wanting me to hold them, the 8 year old was upset that the twins had just wrecked his Lego creation, the 6 year old was asking me how to spell “inconspicuous”, the 5 year old was wanting me to staple the book she made together, and the 3 year old was climbing on top of the counter trying to get his own fruit snacks from the cupboard because I wasn’t listening to him. I suddenly realized I was actually doing the exact opposite of what I was trying so hard to do! I was making our lives MORE stressful! The kids don’t care if they eat food that came from the freezer section at Costco. They don’t care if I buy balloons and streamers from the dollar store instead of making all the decorations by hand. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things if a baby doll is in the truck box, or the crayons are mixed with the markers. But it DOES matter that they have a happy mom who takes the time to play with them. A mom who instead of saying, “not right now honey” says, “I’d love to!” and lets the finger prints on the front door hang around a little while longer. A mom who makes them feel more important than the vacuum marks in the carpet. A mom who tells the crying, (very independent) 5 year old who just spilled milk all over the floor, that “its ok” instead of freaking out that the floor needs mopped again. A mom who stays calm and laughs when she finds one twin dipping toothbrushes in the toilet while the other is eating tissues from the trash can. (who then calls dad and tells him to pick up new toothbrushes on the way home from work, and to check if there is such a thing as baby proof trash cans) A mom who makes memories and has fun with her babies. There will be a time later on that I can keep my house in tip top shape. When I can make my own bread, and gourmet dishes with organic homegrown produce. When I can take months to plan the party of the century. But that time isn’t right now. Now is the time for making my kids feel adored and important. And honestly, I think I prefer it that way.

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  14. My family and I are right smack in middle of a pretty major transition and I’m still learning to make room for life. For the last 10 months I’ve been pouring so much of my time into a small business that I’ve started. I might be the one that makes, sells and markets my product but it’s definitely a family business in that it takes effort from every member of my family, children included.

    For the first few months I tried to hide it from my kids. Not because I was ashamed of anything but I didn’t want it to effect them negatively. I didn’t want them to notice I when I was gone. I thought it would be best if things seemed “normal.” I would wait until they went to bed to do as much of the work as I could. I didn’t want them to miss out on having their mom around. As the business started to require more and more time I realized that it would be ok for them to not have me around. Yes, it’s good for them to spend more time with their dad who works during the day, but more importantly to have them see me working hard at something; something that I started from nothing. It has been so empowering for me and I want them to be able to see that and to feel it themselves. It requires sacrifice from all of us to keep this little business going and growing. Some days are more of a challenge but life would be that way no matter what.

    About a month ago when this business started to feel like it was taking over my life (stuff for work in my kitchen, the pantry, the car and various other places throughout the house) I needed a change. I thought KonMari-ing my home would help but I realized that I needed to implement some serious discipline in other areas of my life. I needed to have better focus on work when I was working and more focus on home when I was home. I needed to be more present! I also decided that I needed to include some “me” time as well. I’ve taught yoga for 10 years so practicing on my own comes easily but often gets pushed aside. When I make the time for myself to practice yoga, read, go on a walk/jog I feel more productive at home and with work. I’m more happy and more happy with myself.

    We are amidst another pretty magical transition as well in that we’re out of the baby phase, done with diapers and are enjoying the flexibility to come and go much more easily. Travel and adventuring is a goal of ours and we hope to be able to do more of that as our family business grows. Up until now it just hasn’t been an option. We are hopeful and excited for our future and are proud of the things we’ve been able to make work in our lives.

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  15. says:

    May 29th, 2014, two days into summer break for my two oldest boys and almost 3 full months in our new city of residence, Casper, WY, I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work. At 7:22 am, I watched him through the front window as he rode his bicycle down the street and around the corner. Thirty two minutes later, I received a call from a nurse at the hospital that my husband had been in an accident and I needed to come down. She told me nothing else. Four hours later, I was on a medical flight bound for Denver with my husband fighting for his life. Thirty hours after the phone call from the nurse, my 39- year old active, healthy and amazing husband was pronounced brain dead.

    One week later, surrounded by friends and family, we buried my husband.

    Later, I would learn that a 34-year old man was celebrating his last night of probation for his second DUI by drinking…a lot. He got up the next morning to take a friend to work. His ‘friend’ would later testify in an affidavit that he had been scared for his life that morning while the man drove him to work. Shortly after dropping the friend off, the drunk driver hit my husband. His blood alcohol content was almost twice the legal limit.

    The last 22 months have been the hardest in my life. I never knew I could miss a person as much as I miss my husband! We have three boys together who are now 10, 5 and 3. They are so much like their dad and I am grateful for the joy they bring to my life. As a family, we struggle with the grief but we have also found ways to honor my husband and one of the best ways is to laugh and love each other. My own grief has always taken a back seat to the needs of my boys and a week at a mom retreat speaks to my soul, as a woman and a mom.

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  16. says:

    My theme for this year is “do it On Purpose” I just want to do a little bit each day and do it with my whole heart. I am mother to 7 children ages 9 months to 14 years. They are my life. Everyday I try to do or be or create for them. Lately thought I am humbled to say I have lost my momentum. So I really have tried to find my little bit to do on purpose even harder so i can keep going. Little lives are going on all around me and they don’t stop stop just because mama has a slump. So one of my on purpose moments recently was chosen as I reflected all my to do lists and thought “what do I want to do?” Of course I was having this thought process while nursing my baby. I looked down at her sweet face and there I thought “I pick this moment to do on purpose” and you know what it was sorta magical that moment. As soon as I decided that was my choice to do with purpose all my other thoughts faded to the back and I just enjoyed looking at her eat and breathe. everyday I am making room for life 7 little lives and 1 big one over here. I realize that I also need to make room for my life too. Reach in breathe deeper and create from my heart with real intent and DO IT ON PURPOSE!

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  17. says:

    As I sit here, trying to put into words my life transition, I realize that it actually began over ten years ago. My husband and I had been married for eight years when we decided it was time to start our family. Thinking this would happen easily soon became years of tryng to conceive. After what seemed like endless doctor appointments, painful infertility treatments, and a failed round of IVF, we decided to give adoption a try. Within one year, we were blessed with a beautiful blue-eyed, blond haired baby girl. Four years later, another bouncy baby boy was placed into our family. As parents, we all have an idealistic view of how life will be as we raise these incredible little people. I had visions of my daughter being a dancer, excelling in school, having a close-knit group of friends. I pictured my son being an athlete like his dad. What I didn’t foresee is that, biological or not, our children come with their own spirits, gifts, talents and struggles. This I have had to learn the hard way. At age four, we knew something was different about our daughter. She was extremely tempermental, had melt-downs over simple things, sensitive to touch and loud noises and couldn’t control her emotions. It was exhausting, frustrating and at times, I felt (and still feel) inadequate to be her mother. After many psychological evaluations, she was diagnosed with Sensory-processing disorder, anxiety and a learning disability. Life with this precious girl continues to be one transition after another. I am learning to accept my daughter as the incredible person she is. But at times, I wonder and worry about her future. I am tryng to accept this latest transition as she becomes older, trying to navigate life in school, with friends and with us. I crave affection from her but don’t get it. I try to help her understand and embrace her potential but am left unsure if it registers with her. While this has been the most difficult transition so far, I realize that life with her will be one transition after another. What I am learning is that I must find and create love and space for myself. Taking care of my body, my spirit and my mind. Realizing that I am doing the best that I can and that she is teaching me far than I could possibly teach her. My life may not be what I had dreamed of, but I wouldn’t trade this little family of mine for the world. I am learning to accept the fact that my life, and all of our lives, are built upon one transition after another. And while there are moments where I question my abilities and feel like I don’t have strength to handle one more melt-down, I realize how truly blessed I am to have this beautiful gift. This daughter that continues to mold me, change me and help me realize my own potential as a mother and a human being. Thank you, my sweet Mary.

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  18. says:

    I never expected to be 18, pregnant and alone. I was a recent high school graduate with no direction and an eating disorder. I was looking for love in all the wrong places when my life was turned into a sad country song. I agreed to take a pregnancy test along with a friend, to calm her nerves. this was one test I was hoping to fail. Fast forward 9 months to the hospital where I was holding a small baby boy for the last time. He was to be adopted by a loving family who had longed for this moment for years. This 7lb boy had changed my life forever. He healed my bulimia the minute I heard his heart beat, realizing even if I didn’t care about myself, he was counting on me. The healing didn’t stop there. Before him I felt worthless and alone but, he created a fire in me I hadn’t felt before. I was now starting the path to becoming the person I would want this boy to know and be proud of. He helped make room for life by realizing true happiness does not come from focusing on myself but from focusing on someone else. This helpless little baby was like the pebble thrown into a pond creating endless ripples of change.

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  19. says:

    I am a mother of 5 beautiful, amazing daughters. I became a mother nearly 10 years ago when I was 22. I was deliriously happy with our first born. I think I was a good mom. I gave everything I had, or so I thought. But when my first-born went to first grade (her first time to be in all-day school), I discovered I had been saving a small part of myself. I had 4 children at this point and motherhood was no longer easy, nor was it always fun. I was already feeling like a monster most of the time. But I saw my daughter, my delightful, curious, thinker-watcher daughter, lose the light behind her eyes in endless “sit-on-you-pockets” days at school and something had to be done. So I pulled her and her younger sister out of school and started homeschooling. It was this change that helped me discover myself as a mother. I cried tears of “no, I don’t want to do this!” I never planned or wanted to homeschool, but I knew in my gut it had to be done, and that is when I really chose motherhood. I was a mother all along and doing my best; feeding, clothing, hugging, providing opportunities, etc. etc. but I had saved a bit of my energy, my love, my devotion…a bit I didn’t even know I had and I chose then to give it, and give it all. It’s funny what choosing something, really choosing it does. Nothing huge changed (I mean it’s hugely challenging to have 5 children at home all day and be completely responsible for their education), but it was my heart and my attitude that changed the most. I found myself doing more than I thought I ever could, loving them more, enjoying all the little moments more—helping them and watching with wonder as they discover and learn, holding sleepy babies and chubby fingers until they (after an eternity) finally let go of their grip, all the little things I could appreciate more because I chose it. It’s my choice every day to make. I am a mother, not just because I have children, I am a mother because I choose to be.

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  20. Just before I was pregnant with Plum I distinctly remember feeling like life was pretty under control. I had a routine, a hand for each of the boys, and a small apartment I could wrap my arms around. Then in one year we had a baby, moved across the country, changed jobs, built our home, and I’ve felt out of control ever since. 😂😜

    I’m learning over and over to create space for the things that matter not by doing them all at once, but digging deep into one thing at a time. Working hard, playing hard, mothering intentionally, and forgiving myself for everything that falls through the cracks. Who needs control when you can have this kind of wonderful crazy?

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  21. Have you ever felt like your life is just out-of-whack? You remember what life felt like when you experienced joy more fully and a dark cloud seems to hang over you? the cloud presses on you.

    A few years back my husband and I found ourselves feeling this way. See, we needed to work on “us” emotionally and had both come with childhood trauma. So we worked, we regularly met with a therapist, and we fought for our own emotional health and our marriage. There are not very many other experiences in my life that have been so hard. There were so many days I wanted to give up.

    We entered this journey, and knew a better, happier life was possible. We are still working on us today. Though the journey has been a climb up a steep mountain I write you today to say that it is beautiful view. Through this journey I have come to find joy in life again, and by doing so I have pursued a career in illustration and creative services. And which each design, drawing, doodle, I feel. I forgot a while ago what “feeling” felt like. But I am healing.

    My husband in turn has quit his current job to finish school in pursuit of a more fulfilling workplace after providing for our family for the last ten years. Today is actually his last day of work. To prepare for this change, for the last handful of months I have steadily increased my work load. This has been a big transition for us, but we both can not say how exciting it is.

    Through these years, I also have learned that we can fight, and some days we give up. But we can enjoy the journey. I am enjoying my journey. Looking back, the lessons I’ve learned through this have taught me in ways I could have never imagined and that is invaluable. As I go along on my journey, the view becomes more and more grand.

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  22. About six years ago, right before I became pregnant with my first child Parker (now five)… I was working for a boutique PR agency, and extremely unhappy (crazy bosses, cubicle, no windows, lack of passion). My husband told me over and over to just quit… that life was worth more than sitting behind a desk miserable, day after day. He loved me and supported me and we could make things work.

    So one day, after a particularly exasperating exchange with said bosses… I stood up from my chair, walked back into their windowless cave, and I said I was leaving.

    I’ll never forget that drive home. It was like the first day of summer. I’d never felt better!

    Soon after, I became pregnant with Parker and my life as a mom began! I also decided that I would follow my true passion and (officially) become an Interior Designer (I’d been redecorating homes as a hobby for quite some time) and Creator on my own terms!

    My husband also owns his own business, so adding another entrepreneur to the family was both amazingly satisfying, but also oh-so challenging.

    When there are two parents who work for themselves, the work really never ends. There is no 9 to 5. You never quite clock out. And when you have kids (we now have Avery, age 2), you end up working on your “free” time, which in our case means from the hours of 9pm-1am.

    It also means that every cent you make usually goes back into the business, of course towards the kiddos, and hopefully to the new home we are so desperately trying to buy in an extremely expensive and competitive Los Angeles market (storage alert! 😉 by the end of the summer!

    Vacations aren’t paid for. In fact, there is no such thing as a PAID vacation. We make them happen, because we feel travel is an extremely important educational tool, and we wouldn’t have it any other way…

    … but a solo trip? That is out of the question!

    Is this important for the parent, though? Abso-f***ing-lutely (excuse my French!).

    I believe that even 24 hours alone can revitalize and renew the spirit, and in turn make you a better parent, lover, friend, and creator, and that we ALL deserve a moment away.

    Do I love my job as a manager of my husband’s business, bookkeeper, tax preparer, cook, cleaner, educator, launderer, interior designer, blogger, snuggler, lover, carpooler, activity manager, school researcher, hustler, cheerleader and magic maker? I wouldn’t trade it (them) in for anything…

    … but I would love a few days away with a few hours of extra sleep, a surf board, a yoga mat, a drink or two, and some amazing conversations with a group of inspirational women…

    … to stay inspired, to keep creating, and to tackle the next “title” that will ultimately be thrown my way! Because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  23. Three and a half years ago I was brought to my knees. With tears streaming down like waterfalls, with a lump the size of a baseball in my throat, and my heart both breaking and expanding all at the same time. I was told my newborn Matilda was most likely going to pass. My world was turned upside-down for the next 72 days. We didn’t know from day to day what life would hold, but we did know that we wanted to celebrate the time that we were given. One day on a subway ride to go shower and change into clean clothes at the Ronald McDonald house. I wanted to scream, to let everyone around me sitting so quietly that my daughter was dying, that my life was falling apart, that my arms were empty. And then, as I looked around, I realized that anyone in that subway car could be experiencing the same grief. We all have cloudy days, but it is what you do with those cloudy days that define who you are. I do my best everyday to give, live, and love as a mother, crafter, and donate life advocate. At six weeks old my daughter Matilda was given the gift of life and is now the most rambunctious and vibrant three year old. She is finally to the point where she is healthy and clear to be a “normal kid” and I would love this opportunity to reconnect with myself, to relax, and fuel my focus as I make waves for pediatric organ donation.

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  24. says:

    42 years ago I was born in a country with ‘hard’ borders, meaning traveling outside of my country was nearly impossible. As a young girl, while I didn’t care much about politics, I cared a great deal about the world behind those borders. Soaking up books, films and travel reports as much as I could, I dreamt of one day being able to see and explore the world. As a kid I believed that travel was a great privilege and one of the best ways to connect to the world and other people.

    As an adult, wife and mom of 2 wonderful kids I find myself examining my old beliefs. My husband loves to feel the piece and comfort of home. My kids are happy with very little as long as we are together and having fun … and still, I often fall a little sick with “Fernsucht” (the yearning of going somewhere new). I try to rally, I try to infect my family with the travel bug, yet I often feel selfish for wishing to go on a trip without them.

    And here is what I have learned thus far: My kids love me EVEN when I am exhausted and ‘mean’, but they thrive when they see me full of life and excitement. Getting out, seeing the world and spending time with friends allows me to be more patient, more loving and kind … full of life.

    So go Life. Go Costa Rica!!!

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  25. both my children were unplanned gifts, from a father who would be there, in sprint, from another city, to support us financially, but prefers to not take an active parenting role. fine. i knew that. what i didn’t know, when i decided my to submit myself to the unknown “motherhood” role is how hard it is to take care of yourself, when all you have is yourself, and how easy it is too lose who you are and used to be, and how incredibly hard it is to regain control of yourself, your self. my children are the sun and moon and stars to my teeny tiny planet. my world revolvs around them. right now, we are in nyc and their father is trying to put them to bed, quite unsuccessfully, as he has no experience, and i type as fast as i can. so. i have given these kids my self. and i owuldnt change anything. but i want to read a book. in a few days. from start to finish. i want to sleep a night through, i want to sit not he toilett and not have tiny hands try to wipe me or look at whats going on or unravel the paper down the stairs. i want to take a shower without projectiles and shoes being thrown into the bathtub. i want to eat breakfast without my darling lulu crying because i won’t make her hotdogs and chocolate or a cheese plate for breakfast. i don’t want to have to cut short what I’m doing because she is crying and needs a snuggle, which is what I’m going to do right now. because she is crying, and she is my heart and i want to do whatever it is that she needs– but right now, I’m in nyc and i want to drink a glass of champagne and look at the the view, and now I’m going to snuggle a tiny little bundle of love and i owuldnt change it for the world, but holy moly. just a book. but mamma calls and I’m going….

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    1. wine fuelled entry above… when you’re eating dinner and your daughter decides to whip off her clothes, hands on her hips and gallop all over the restaurant, you drink the wine much like you would have back in the day, before going out to the club, in other words, FAST- and leave, a tiny bit embarrassed but mostly super proud you 2 year old has enough confidence to nakedly gallop all over a restaurant on the upper east side- and also got cut off form the most important part, which is that my heart explodes with love every single moment for these two. they drive me bonkers and sometimes i can’t wait to get away from them, and then i drop them off and I’m sad because i miss them- no one tells you that your new motherhood world will be an explosion of rainbows and that your old dry clean only world was shades of grey… i also wanted to thank you, because i fell asleep in the kids bed last night, but with a grateful heart, and woke up with one of those hearts that is so full of love for these tiny humans i had to have a quick cry to lighten the load of love for them i was carrying- if that makes sense- my eldest is 5, so young still, but i can see the changes in him, the edges are appearing of the man he will likely become, and I’m so proud- though the days are S.O. L.O.N.G. i can now see the years are short, and while struggle to wake in the mornings, because I’ve been kicked in the head and tummy all night, when my son decides to sleep alone, i wake up in the mornings sad– so thank you for helping me to remember how much i love these guys, so much so i am going to have a quick cry and then more coffee!!

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  26. i have not figured out how to post a picture but my daughter is calling mamma so I’m hoping its not required…

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    1. says:

      Not at all required.

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  27. Life always seems to flow from one thing to the next in the most intriguing ways, like a domino chain. Sometimes transitions make the dominos run faster or topple with more force, and sometimes there are four rows going at once. Starting when I was 19, I went through a series of losing people in my life. From a classmate to a best friend, then a teacher, a relative, I even lost both of my beloved cats within that year. Then, the final blow was when my father was killed by a drunk driver.
    15 years later, i can see how so many things spiral out from this last event.
    For months I was upset when someone would say, “see you later!” I didn’t know if I would see them later, I had so too much uncertainty for the future. In time though, I began to see past my heartache, and began to enjoy every minute that life gives us, every adventure and experience.
    In the most palpable way possible, i decided to make a shift in my life priorities. Inspired by my father’s dream of traveling, I decided I wouldn’t pass up opportunities to travel…instead i’d jump at them. I set aside a separate savings account just for travel money and then i learned to stretch small amounts so i could see big places. At first it was small trips, to Ecuador and Canada. Then it was to chase family birth sights in the Czech Republic. When I was 25, I saved, planned, sold my car, put my things in storage, broke up with my boyfriend and traveled solo around the world!
    A year later, I returned and felt unsettled. Through my transition back to life in Los Angeles, I repeatedly attempted to move from the west coast to the east coast, but it just never felt right to move. Soon I found out why! I decided instead of looking to leave, I’d dig in deep and find a house to rent, no more apartment life for me. On moving day, many friends came to help, including one I didn’t really know. We worked all day to clear out my storage unit into the new home. By the end of the day, I was very intrigued by the one guy that i hardly knew. It turns out that he was intrigued by, “the girl that would have limited edition Star Wars toys and paintings in her storage.” Well, I’m a toy designer, but he didn’t know that. Little did he know that a year later, he’d be moving those same boxes into our first apartment as a married couple. Since then, we have welcomed two little boys into our family so far and taken as many adventures as we can find a way to pull off!
    Finding my husband has truly given me so much hope and love that I have been missing since losing my father.

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  28. I’m a mamma of six beautiful children whos ages span the range from 14 to 18 months. And yes I am busy and yes my hands are full. In those early years as a mom I was completely overwhelmed and though I certainly lost myself in the thick of things I was also living my dream of being a mother. I could not have anticipated how hard it would be or how amazing! I love to sing and music is a big part of my life. However, when my oldest was small he would scream and cover his ears to get me to stop singing. I was devastated and lost hope for a while in my dream of having a musical family. As my children grew and I brought in new souls to love, some difficult trials brought on some big soul searching. And I came to a realization that I still get to choose who I get to be . Now I finally know who I am. And now my children get the benefit of a mother who knows who she is and reaches for her dreams. I sing almost everyday. I am not just a mom, I am me! And now they get to see it too!

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  29. says:

    The way I see it, life will never stop offering you transitions and obstacles. You can’t hide from them but you CAN embrace them. Exploring the world with my kids, learning, and “shenaniganing” gives us all so much joy and the closeness,and foundation to take on whatever comes our way. And to to not just face it, but to face it as a team. We collect moments not things. And that leaves us feeling richer than any possession every could.

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  30. If I had a way of receiving a glimps of my life at 34 when I was 17, I never would have guessed I’d be in the situation I am today. I couldn’t have imagined the person I have grown to be or the trials I have faced. I couldn’t fully understand the depth of my love for my children, the simple beauty of finding joy in the tiny everyday things, like how tucking the hair behind my baby girl’s ear or hearing my boys giggle themselves to sleep brings such joy to my heart. On the flipside I couldn’t have imagined the heartache of watching my children struggle because of “grown-up” problems or the deep disappointment of a life I had once expected and the brutal pain of a relationship and companionship that was taken over by a dark mental illness…I don’t take pity on myself or the hardening life experiences I’ve gone through, I believe that suffering is in the eye of the beholder and we have a choice every day on how to react to life’s challenges. They can either make us or break us.
    I look at my children and my experiences and I see heaps of joy and growth amidst the challenges. Sure I’ve struggled my way through it and I am still navigating my way… but these challenges have made me the person I am today, and I kinda like who I am, actually I LOVE who I am! Can I say that out loud?! It’s a little scary saying it, but it’s true. If I had had the life I was naively planning on when I was 17 dreaming up my future, I think I would be a lot more vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla, but I look back at my vanilla self and I think, yah, she was alright, but nothing like you are today. Through my challenges I have been carved and shaped into a woman who is confident and strong. I have done things my old self would have been too shy to do let alone try. I’ve grown to realize that I am capable of doing hard things! I’ve also learned to sympathize more easily with others. I’m not afraid to reach out, open up and share my experience.
    “Wise men in every tradition tell us that suffering brings clarity, illumination… suffering is a privilege, it moves us toward thinking about essential things and shakes us out of shortsighted complacency.”

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  31. I have 10 minutes to enter a dream vacation!!! How have I transitioned? My challenges? Well it’s been quite a few challenges,but just today I was thinking about how grateful I have been for them (after the fact, because Lord knows through it, it was like 😖😠😓). In fact I have always had a strong sense of what it means to be a woman, and then mother. I know that the greater we work on those transitions in our lives, the greater examples our children will have. Lately I have been taking to mothers of all ages. I have learned that motherhood at ANY age is a hard thing, but I’m grateful that we mothers are MADEto do it. I believe that with all my heart. I’m grateful for the woman in this picture. She stands proud, confident and determined. And look whose following. #tocmomretreat #makeroomforlife This picture was taken at a fantastic wedding where the kids and I danced like maniacs!!!

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  32. says:

    3 years ago we bought a house that was built in 1958. We immediately began dreaming and scheming the things we would do to this house. Making this house a home has been such a fun adventure for our little family. The transition has not always been easy. I can be impatient and moody when things take longer than I’d hoped. Sometimes I wish we’d have gotten a shiny new house instead of a rickety old one. The best trick I’ve found for making room for life is gratitude. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out of our driveway with our house elbow deep in some huge project and said a silent prayer of gratitude. Gratitude for healthy children, the shining sun, a job I love. Gratitude is one of the most fulfilling feelings I have ever had. My motto is *happy right now*! It helped me through the times when I wanted my new kitchen and I want it NOW! When I take the time to be thankful for what I HAVE now and not what I WANT now, then I realize what I have is enough. As we’ve made improvements to our house, it is truly becoming our home. No matter what stage of renovation we are in whether I’m washing dishes in the laundry room sink, or walking around on torn up floors…with a thankful heart, what I have in the moment is always, always enough. ❤️🏡🛠

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  33. I think one of the biggest and hardest transitions I’ve had to face and am still facing was being a mom to one baby boy to all of sudden being a mom to 3. I had my sweet loving mommas boy as my only child, my only responsibility. We did everything together and was or I should say still attached to my hip. Then comes my daughter lilith born the day after Thanksgiving and he is no longer mommy’s baby any more. With lilith I finally got to experience the all natural home birth I wanted. She has such an old soul and I feel deeply connected with her. So now there is two babies I love so deeply and having to juggle time for both of them. Two weeks after the birth of my daughter my husband has court to find out about his daughter indie. That day we get custody of her and take her home with us. Now am I not only a new mother of 2 I am a new mother of 3. Now indie hasn’t always been in our life’s much. Her other family kept her from us and the mom signed her rights over 2 years ago without telling my husband. So this little girl is practically a stranger to me. Now let me tell you taking care of somebody that is not your child is hard and I long for her to call me mommy instead of cassandra. Instead of me having to be the bad guy and discipline her while her mom gets to be fun. Don’t get me wrong I love my step daughter with all my heart but some days are just really hard and her attitude gets to me. We are all transition and this has all been so new and different for all of us. I feel bad for my son xander because he is not used to having siblings and having to share his mommy, and he has just been so attached. I can’t do anything without my son by my side. All this is new for indie where she has only been around her dad a handful of times in the past 4 years and defiantly hard on me. I feel so overwhelmed between caring for three kids, trying my best to keep our house clean and dinner cooked before my husband gets home from work. I just started school so now trying to juggle a time to fit that in so I don’t fall behind. This has been a big change for our family to grow so big so suddenly but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I feel overwhelmed and need some mommy time but that mostly happens when the kids are sleeping and I get some peace and quiet like right now. I’m sure this transition and change in our life’s will get a lot easier with time

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  34. says:

    I thought my first good cry after having a baby would have to do with feeling overwhelmed, a sore chest, my changed body, or missing co-workers or my students. But a differ t part of transitioning to motherhood surprised me.
    I felt stuck.
    Trapped.
    Because of my baby.
    Like I had forfeited travel, play and exploration. Not only the adventures I was used to having, but all my dreams of visiting, experiencing new, and growing.
    But now we have a baby. I was overwhelmed by the fact that this makes all that harder (or impossible). And knowing I will probably have a little one or I’ll be nursing for the next large chunk of my life meant I would be stuck and left at home for at least that long.
    These thoughts were overwhelming and exhausting, and I didn’t want it to affect my relationship with my son.
    I tried to find a way to persuade myself otherwise but found everything confirming what I thought. With a baby, everything takes more time, packing space, energy, and planning. Spontaneity and fun. Gone.
    Besides, how on earth could I make my grand adventures I had planned happen now, when I barely felt confident enough to make a Target run just me and the little one? (Still haven’t actually done this yet.)
    I felt I had given up my freedom-For something I dearly wanted, yes…. But I hadn’t realized How Much I was sacrificing at the time. Spontaneous road trips, camping weekends, staying up all night in the hot springs. All gone.
    And I mourned the fact that those were no longer part of my life. Even if I tried to make it happen, having this baby made me more of a burden to others. No one wants a crying baby on their camping trip. So therefore I was uninvited as well.

    Since then, I have started following moms who travel with their babies. I was drawn in my the travel photography before I noticed whole families experiencing places, making memories and learning Together. Mom and baby weren’t being left at home. I saw evidence of friends not only continuing their travel adventures with babies, but enjoying their experiences more Because Of their children. Not in spite of them.

    I want this so badly and recognize that it will be different. But different definitely does not mean worse or less. It means more and better. Sharing my love for things with them and experiencing things through their perspective will make it so much More.
    I no longer feel encumbered by my baby (and future children) but empowered and motivated by them- to see, learn, and grow through all our adventures Together. Even the ones in our backyard. 🙂

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  35. Wow! We are busy pouring over each and every one of the heartfelt and inspiring messages of transition for the giveaway. We wish we could send all the amazing women who entered to this retreat. But because we can’t, we’ll get back at it. Send tissues! Winner will be announced at 5 pm MST today. So set your timers and visit blog.extraspace.com. We’ll meet you there!

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