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  • 03
    Apr 2017

    I’m coming back to life. Join me?

    “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, sorrow, judgement and shame.” – Brene Brown

    Two weeks ago I told you I felt like I was dying because I was spending all day with my kids for a few weeks. Many of you could relate to the particular psychosis that takes over. Some of you said in so many words, “You just don’t have a nanny for a few weeks, get a grip.” And I was like, yep, I agree! Get a grip, Sarah.

    My head was telling me, Sarah, being a mother is your job! There should be nothing more important than these kids. You get to be their mother!! But instead I felt dread, depression, judgement, and overwhelm. My experience and my reality didn’t seem to add up.

    After some soul searching, therapy, and checking in with my tribe, I landed on something true for me, that I’m betting is true for you too…

    It doesn’t matter how minor the indiscretion if you cannot express who you are, you are dying.

    Was not having child care for a while a big deal? No. Was me not doing anything that lights me up and judging the part of me that is drawn to my work completely zapping my joy? Absolutely.

    And here’s what I’ve realized: some of us are just better at feeling like shit than others. I have no tolerance for being anyone other than who I am truly am anymore. My whole system shuts down and I can’t function. What about you? I think it’s an important thing to know about yourself, how well do you “push” through the pain and put up with having a life that isn’t really yours?

    This is the first “normal” week I’ve had in a long time, and I’m really feeling the effects of being out of alignment for so long. I feel like the life has been zapped out of me and I need to slowly do the work to come back to life.  

    SOOOOOOOOO I decided it was time for another LIVE MORE CHALLENGE!!!!  Because I need it like whoa, and I would love to have a couple thousand women do it with me :). #shamelessextrovert

    I’ve already been doing some of the things in the challenge on my own, and whoa. I am constantly blown away by how these small things can have such a huge impact on my spirit.

    Here’s what I need you to know: Dance isn’t just dance. Lipstick isn’t just lipstick. Flowers aren’t just flowers. These seemingly meaningless, even shallow things, can be so easy to pass up, but these tiny details have a significant impact. They are little phone lines to your most self-expressed, live-out-loud, fulfilled, alive self. It’s important. I don’t want you to lose that part of you.

    And connecting with that alive version of yourself is the precursor to you being who you truly are in the world: body, mind, and spirit.  

    The Live More Challenge is here to stoke your inner fire. Sign up for free here.

    I’m surprised at how the seemingly small changes made such a big impact on my thoughts and feelings. I have already found a little more happiness with myself. I have found myself feeling happier overall, being more positive, and just feeling overall better about my life. I honestly can’t even put completely into words the impact this challenge has had on me so far. I’ve had a really hard time committing to other types of “weigh less” challenges in the past and it taught me that it was okay to lie to myself. That’s a horrible thing – knowing that you can lie to yourself and it will be okay. But this challenge – the one I said I would commit to no matter what was thrown at me – has renewed my faith in myself. I CAN stick to something when I really want to, despite all other things in my life. I needed this reminder of how to really commit to me. ~ @angiesmitchell

    When we have a lot going on, which I know you do, it’s impossible to make these things a priority, so you need an accountability partner, or three. Someone who maybe needs you as much as you need them. Someone who will tell you, “YES, leave the laundry and come to dance with me.” Who is that for you? Forward them this email now.

    On April 10th I am leading my 6th Live More Challenge, a totally free experience that gives you a small thing (with big impact) to do every day for two weeks to wake up that radiant, alive, adventurous woman inside of you, and I want you to do it with a friend. If you can’t think of anyone to invite, don’t worry, there are thousands of women who are excited to do this with you (including me), you’ll meet them once you sign up on this page.  

    Thank you, Sarah Jenks, for offering this challenge. It has been an illuminating two weeks. I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore some new ideas and behaviors. The social aspect of this challenge was fantastic. Daily, I found myself inspired by the risks taken and ideas explored by the other participants. It has been a joy. ~ @Tangerine_ginger

    To sweeten the deal for you guys I’m giving you and your crew the opportunity to ALL win a spot in my signature program, Live More Weigh Less Mastery Membership. All you have to do is sign up for this free Challenge, and follow the rules I lay out in the welcome email.  Easy Peasy.

    My beliefs about myself color all of my choices. Feeling that I deserve to take time for myself has been half the battle. The beautiful thing is discovering that if I do take that time, if I truly pay attention, small things make a huge impact. I have really struggled in my life looking for other people to tell me I have worth, that I am lovable and that I matter. I have been working on getting that acceptance from myself. This challenge has put so much of that work into action. I am truly amazed at what a difference it is making. Thank you @sarahjenks! ~@jdale3wkg

    I’m so excited to have you and your friends in the Live More Challenge. You can sign up now by clicking on this link.

    Love,
    Sarah

    P.S. Here’s a few incredible results women experienced from the challenge:

    Hi Sarah! I’m new to your community but my introduction couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m a 31 year old SAHM to a 4 year old little girl. In August–after 2.5 years of secondary infertility–I learned that it is no longer possible for me to get pregnant. While this didn’t come as a complete surprise, it was still quite a blow. It is a hardship for my husband and me, and recently the grief was really starting to strangle my heart. I could feel myself withdrawing from my beautiful life. I was (am) struggling existentially and grasping for anything to find purpose and meaning, or, at the very least, spark personal growth. Then randomly (or perhaps not?) your “Live More Challenge” came across my news feed. I had no idea what the challenge would entail but I didn’t let that stop me…I signed up straightaway. I was a little unsure about what to expect but after receiving your email with the details, I couldn’t help but smile. Each day I find myself looking forward to the next day’s challenge. And after only 3 days, I can honestly say that I can already feel the darkness starting to lighten. So this is a sincere, heartfelt thank you. A thank you for giving me the perfect jumping off point to my journey of self discovery. A thank you for giving me a community of women to seek help and support. A thank you for challenging me to take care of myself when I seemed to need it the most. A thank you for being a ray of light.

    I am really looking forward to the rest of the challenge and to becoming inspired by you and other beautiful women along the way! Cheers!

    You have no idea how happy I am to have found your account! You are beautiful and I adore what you’re teaching! I’ve allowed my weight to dictate EVERYTHING for soooooo long and recently made the decision to really and truly change my thinking. I feel free for the first time in years and I want to radiate happiness and love, not self consciousness and self loathing. I’ve been working on all of it and to find another like-minded gal like you is awesome!! Thank you! ~ @lemmonkisses

    Thank you @sarahjenks for opening our eyes to a much bigger world. You have shown us that no matter how much crazy there is in our life, we should be the star that shines the brightest. We can all trust ourselves a little more and be happy with ourselves a little more, and most of love ourselves a lot more! It’s been a fun journey! ~@mcovey83

  • 30
    Mar 2017

    Do you have a “Spirited” Child like I do? This could surprise you.

    SpiritedLast week I took Annabelle to her first music class while Marshall was at school. As I walked into the class, I felt my throat get tight and my pulse quicken. Why the hell was I nervous walking into a toddler music class? I pulled it together, but just as the teacher sat down, I wondered if I could convincingly say that I forgot to pay the meter and bolt.  Hello Everly, Hello Sebastian… started filling the room. I was too late.

    So I sat nervously in the circle doing deep breathing to calm my body down from being in full on fight or flight mode. 

    During the second song, the teacher dumped a bunch of egg shakers on the floor. Here we go. I prepared myself for the chaos where Annabelle would surely want the only red egg shaker that the sweet 3-year-old boy had sitting next to us. But she grabbed the two that were close to her, and even offered one to the girl on our right. What?

    When the song was over, I got ready for the big moment when Annabelle would have to put the egg shakers in the basket which would surely cause endless tears. But she said bye-bye to each shaker, gave them a kiss (I mean) and put them in the basket and came and sat on my lap.  

    I was in shock.  

    The same thing happened with each song. She easily chose two toys that weren’t being used and put them away with no problem at all.

    I left the music class in tears. What an incredible experience!

    That evening I was telling Jonathan about how great of time Annabelle and I had in music class, and wondered why I was so shocked. Then it hit me. My experience that day could not have been more different than taking Marshall to a music class.

    When I used to take Marshall to a music class, he’d literally elbow kids out of the way and be the first to the basket of egg shakers, and then attempt to grab at least 10. When one would slip away from his pudgy baby arms, he would scream, try to pick it up, and lose 3 more. If we were playing with different instruments he would be happily playing with a xylophone and in a split second get transfixed by the maraca someone across the circle was using. Without a warning he’d sprint across the circle, pummel the poor kids and grab the instrument out of her hands before I could even stand up to grab him.  

    The whole class contained at these 5 acts of aggression and grabbing and around 10 meltdowns, but of course it was all interspersed with Marshall dancing his face off in the center of the circle full of unimaginable joy while all the kids sat quietly in their mom’s lap.  

    I started to think about all the things that made me have a panic attack…
    Going to the grocery store

    Getting in the bath

    Bedtime

    Going out to lunch

    Even going to the playground

    Practically doing anything with Marshall felt hard. I’d look at my friend’s kids and all the things that seemed to be simple and fun for them, like running an errand or getting in the car… I’d see how women could spend hours at home and seem to coexist with their kids.  I wondered how they went to the bathroom or ate?

    As I’ve mentioned in my last few letters to you (http://sarahjenks.com/blog/i-give-up/), I’ve been home with my kids more since the beginning of February, and almost everyday starts and ends with me crying in the bathroom. I’m crying from exhaustion, confusion, and judgment of myself and Marshall. It’s been so hard.

    I’ve read a lot of parenting books since Marshall was born almost three years ago, and worked with a lot of parenting coaches, many of them have been helpful, but I kept approaching the situation with the attitude of ‘Marshall is a normal kid with behavioral problems that I need to fix.’ Even if they were telling me otherwise, I couldn’t hear them.  

    And being the good “Conscious Parent” that I am, I, of course, took full and complete ownership of his struggles blaming our hard labor, my postpartum depression, my lack of presence, how annoyed I was by him and most recently, the fact that I worked. So every time he would have a meltdown, I was judging myself.  I started to crumble under my own oppression which of course made Marshall more uncomfortable.

    Then last week my friend gave me “Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic” By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  

    I could feel the power of this book before I even opened it. The first few pages had me in tears of relief. And each chapter has brought more joy and peace to my life.

    I want to share some of the things I’ve learned in this book in case you also have a spirited child and may be feeling the same sense of overwhelm and despair that I have been feeling because I just HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DEALING WITH!!!!

    1. Spirited children are extra sensitive, blow up easily, know exactly what they want and are incredibly persistent. They are also very smart, exuberant and meticulous. Very high highs and very low lows.  

    2. You can usually tell you have a spirited child from the moment they’re born. Marshall would SCREAM from the moment he was born because he wanted something really specific, like his right bootie (only) to be removed. He never slept, and sleep training was impossible.  In a moment of desperation, we hired the top sleep trainer in San Francisco when he was 4 months old because he was still waking up every hour and Jonathan was doing surgery for 14 hours a day. We had to at least get a 3-hour stretch. She instructed us to let him cry but check on him every 5, 10, and then 15 minutes until he eventually went to sleep. She said that most kids fall asleep within the hour the first night and within 3 nights they fall asleep on their own. Marshall cried for 4 HOURS for 10 DAYS STRAIGHT. She said she had never ever had this happen to her. We still don’t sleep that much. For a while, I judged myself for not bonding correctly with Marshall when he was a baby. I just felt too on edge to relax enough to sink into a rhythm with him. Of course it was hard!!! Marshall was an insanely difficult baby, but because I was new at this, I had nothing to compare my experience with and thought something was wrong with me.

    3. Spirited children are wired this way because of their biological and genetic makeup.  Nothing I did or didn’t do made Marshall the way he is. Knowing this I was able to release so much guilt, shame, and judgment that I’ve been carrying around.  

    4. Now that I’m getting how Marshall is wired, I am seeing how so many of the traits I saw as annoying, are actually great qualities! Marshall isn’t an asshole, he’s opinionated.  He isn’t argumentative, he’s persistent. As I’ve been seeing Marshall differently and telling him how persistent he is (in a good way) he is melting down less and able to have a conversation with me about how he’s feeling. Like the other day in the middle of a dinner party, he stood on his chair and announced, “Mama! You are talking too much and not paying enough attention to me!” He was right! I thanked him for being such a great communicator and we went into the other room to play for a little bit.  

    5. Only about 10% of kids are “spirited” meaning they have a very specific temperament that is different than most kids. Knowing this I really got what my assignment is as his mother. I feel a great opportunity to help this boy channel his passion into positive things so he can be who is truly is. This means that I’m open to his opinions and negotiations, am constantly finding ways to enjoy his loudness and am trying so so hard not to shut him down at every corner. I am feeling honored to be his mother, instead of annoyed.

    6. Parents of Spirited children need to take extra care of themselves. The patience and energy it takes to truly meet the needs of a spirited child are enormous and no adult can be expected to be the best guide for children like this all day. Not to mention Marshall is so sensitive that he picks up on my exhaustion and annoyance and that makes him anxious. I need to be at the top of my game when I’m with him so he feels secure and I can enjoy being with him.  

    I’m sharing this because I’ve spent so long in a state of confusion and overwhelm with Marshall because I wasn’t aware of this type of child, and if there’s just one of you out there who relates to this, then this was a good week.  

    For more information, you can buy Dr. Kurcinka’s Book here or visit her website at http://www.parentchildhelp.com/

    I am truly on the journey to discovering how I want to Mother and a big part of this is understanding my children and their needs in this phase of their lives. Really getting that both Marshall and I benefit from me having my own time outside of the home everyday is beautiful. 

    In the comments below, I’d love to know if you have a Spirited Child and what your journey has been. Or any other stories about your journey in discovering how you Mother. We all need examples of radical realness.

    Sending so much love, 
    Sarah

     

  • 24
    Mar 2017

    I Give Up

    I’m sitting at my kitchen table at 8:30 in the morning while my kids watch another episode of Curious George in the living room. Every episode that goes by I wonder if I’m ruining their little brains, and then try to talk myself into enjoying the next 23 minutes of silence.

    I’m sorry I haven’t written in awhile. Our childcare situation has been challenging, and I’m struggling to find my center as I took on being with the kids full time. I’ve felt flat, empty and like I have absolutely no wisdom to share. Numbness has gotten me through the days.

    Then this morning I woke up to a note from my sweet husband next to my coffee cup that he leaves out for me every morning by a fresh pot of coffee saying, “Have a good day hun, I know it’s been a long week, you’re doing so well and are such a good mom. I love you.”

    The tears started flowing instantly as I realized how far from “Good Mom” I felt. Our new nanny starts on Tuesday, so I am at the end of this period of me being home, and I feel like a massive failure.  

    I imagined that by this time the kids and I would be coexisting in peaceful bliss, or I would have developed more patience and their meltdowns wouldn’t bother me at all. I thought that if I was here they would feel more secure and turn into well behaved, secure little humans. None of that happened, not even close.  

    There’s is nothing more important to me than being the best mother for my children. And since I had this definition and vision of what being the best mom looks like, and that vision isn’t coming true, I’ve felt like a terrible mother.

    Letting go of that vision isn’t easy. It feels like giving up, like failing, like trying plan b.  And I’m not a plan b woman. I’m an A+, push push push till you reach your goal type woman.

    But I’m realizing (again) that maybe my vision is the problem, not me. That maybe being the best mother for my kids means not being there full time. I’ve had in my head that working is a cop out, that being a stay at home mom is the holy grail of parenting, the best thing for my kids.  

    I know this isn’t new information, but what I’m realizing is that no matter how many books are written on the topic, or how many people you know doing things a certain way, when it comes to you landing on what it means for you to be the best mom, it’s so incredibly hard.  

    I’ve read at least 20 parenting books since Marshall was born, maybe more, and to be honest I feel like the general attitude of each book is, THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO BE A MOM… THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD PARENT YOUR CHILD.  

    Where are the books about, let’s figure it out together, what is going to be the best way to do motherhood for you given the unique combination of your soul, your partner’s soul, and your children’s souls.  

    My hunch is that I’m not going to do this journey like anybody else, and neither are you. And I think the first step is to give up whatever game you’ve been trying to play. Just walk away. Burn it to ground, and let’s see what grows in it’s place. To be continued…

    Love,
    Sarah

Design: Jane Reaction. Development: Brandi Bernoskie.