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You can’t pour from an empty cup: 5 small ways to center yourself

The expectations put on us as women and as mothers as immense. Now, many new mothers experience a state of confusion, not knowing what this life change means for them.


You may ask yourself:

Who will I become in this new role?

What is important to me now?

And how can I be the mother I want to be, constrained by the expectations of others?

Authenticity is hard won, and it's a concept that is very important to define. It means being real: true to your innermost self. It means discovering what's important to you—and sticking by those principles and attributes.

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Discovering authenticity requires clarity, and that's something that Paula Mallis, founder of WMN Space strives to create for women in all walks of life. Trained as a doula, with extensive training is spiritual psychology, she works to help women to heal their bodies and minds, while finding their way towards a life they feel is authentic.

Today, Paula shares five tips that helped her discover what she feels is an authentic life, for her. They are simple steps, and may indeed help you find the clarity you're searching for.

Pause for some meditation

Finding pause in your day can allow the to-do lists and expectations fall away, leaving space for coherent thought, acknowledgement of your emotional well-being and the creation of a sense of inner calm.

Paula: I can't say my meditation looks like me in lotus pose om-ing away. But what I can say is that I do believe in "pausing" throughout the day. Sometimes my meditation is in the school parking lot after dropping my daughter off as the mornings are busy to say the least. I take a moment to breathe and connect back to myself, my breath and which allows me to come back to center or neutral.

Schedule self-care

One cannot pour from an empty cup. Taking the time to replenshish your energy with a small, personal self-care ritual can act as a reminder that you count too. So much of motherhood is care-taking. Ensuring that we ourselves are also taken care of will allow us to better care for others.

Paula: I have a morning and evening skin care ritual. I use all non-toxic skin care products, applying a mask every day either morning or night, to help replenish my skin with organic, plant-based products.

Nourish yourself lovingly

Everything is affected by the foods we take into our bodies. From energy levels, to how our skin looks, to actual health—as in, avoiding diseases and illnesses—our nutritional intake can make or break our efforts to live and authentic life.

Paula: Every day I have a Moon Juice smoothie. For me this smoothie is like a daily coffee. I am totally addicted. The smoothie includes cacao, almond milk, banana, cinnamon, coconut butter, ashwagandha and blue adaptogen protein powder. YUM!

Remember what's important: family

This might seem like a no-brainer, but spending time with our kids and our partners without distractions (I'm talking to you, checking your Instagram again!), reminds us what's really important.

Paula: My intention each day when I pick up my daughter is to have as much of my work done, so I can fully be present with her. We are all guilty of texting and checking emails, multitasking as modern women and mothers trying to do it all. I know I am guilty of this but I try and be mindful of my time with Madeleine as she is growing up so fast and I just don't want to miss it over checking emails and social media for the 50,000th time that day.

Embrace a mantra for the day

Paula: I read inspired books to support my mantra or prayer for the day. My favorite go to book right now is "Change Me Prayers" by Tosha Silvera

Want more from Paula? We did too! We asked five extra questions that she was kind enough to answer.

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

Paula: My mornings run smoothly when I get up earlier than my family and meditate instead of meditating in the sanctuary of my car.

The life hack or tip that has changed my life...

Paula: Practicing self-care and self-love first. Forgiving myself for all judgments towards myself and others.

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

Paula: After giving birth to Madeleine I felt I was gifted superpowers. The birth was so transformative and gave me the strength that I can still reference back to in support the life opportunities that come my way.

This quote inspires me...

Paula: "Never take any wooden nickels." Grandmama Gibson (my grandmother)

To me "motherly" means...

Paula: Caring, loving, nurturing and knowing

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

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I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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