• 01 May, 2024
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Mother’s Day: Embracing Self-Care and Resilience

Guest Author: Melissa Van Riper 

When I was pregnant with my Daughter, I had a doctor who was bullying me about my weight. So, I found a prenatal yoga class a few towns away. I fell in love with the community and sisterhood our teacher, Kelly, had created. I have never felt so comfortable around women before. We were all in different phases of pregnancy, so almost every week, someone gave birth and graduated from the Mommy and Me class. So, to keep these women in my life, I created a Facebook group, and each week, I would quietly go over to a few people and ask if I could add them to my group so that we could stay in touch. Never in my life could I have predicted that my Yoga Mommies Facebook group would be what it is today. After we started having our babies and venturing out to different Mommy & Baby and music classes, the group began to grow. It was more than play dates; it was a trusted, safe space to know we were not alone. It was here that I found my tribe.

In 2013, I was going through the divorce process. I was 33 years old, and my Daughter was barely 2. I had given up my career and didn’t have any savings. I was alone in a house I couldn’t afford with a baby I adored. I had always had a host of unexplained medical problems and never really felt “healthy.” But when I was nursing my Daughter, I felt grounded and balanced despite the lack of sleep and emotional turmoil I was going through. 

To “find myself again,” I was drawn to a Pranic healing center in my town. They had a free community night every week. I convinced my Mother to stay with my Daughter while I took an hour for myself. There, I met a lovely healer named Marie. Pranic healing is energy healing without touching. After our first session, Marie pulled me into the hallway and said, “Listen, honey, I don’t know what’s going on with you, but you have the most depleted Chakras I have ever seen.” I knew I was pretty bad, but I didn’t realize how bad it was. She recommended “Radical self-care.” Before I heard those words, I considered self-care as getting a pedicure or taking a bath…… yes those things can be nice, but they are forms of grooming. Radical self-care is healing from the inside out. I proceeded to go back to her every week. 

Then, in October of that year, I had a freak accident that landed me in the hospital for two weeks. I was terrified. That was the first time I had ever been away for the night from my Daughter. They admitted me to the stroke floor and said I had to have an Angiogram, which at the time felt scary. I called one of my friends, who I thought had been through something similar with her husband, and I broke down on the phone, saying how scared and alone I felt. 

The angiogram showed that I didn’t have a stroke, “just” two torn vertebral arteries in my neck. When I wheeled into my new room on the Neuro floor, I met the most lovely human being, Stephanie. She was sitting up in her bed with her husband next to her; she was a beacon of light, and I now refer to her as my guardian angel. She was battling brain cancer and had the most positive attitude and kind spirit I have ever witnessed. I was only with her for one night, but her amazing attitude towards life has inspired me to this day (Sadly, Stephanie lost her battle against cancer seven months later). Her positive attitude set the tone for my reawakening. I was surrounded by my family and my friends. I had so many visitors. My Yoga Mommy friends cooked for me and brought me treats and magazines. One even made plant-based milk for my Daughter because of the meds I had to stop nursing. I left the hospital two weeks later, feeling more loved than I ever had before. 

I had a rough road to recovery, but it was radical self-care, and the love of the strong women that I surrounded myself with that got me through rebuilding my life.

I can remember my first Mother’s Day after my divorce. I took my Daughter out to get our favorite gluten-free pancakes. I looked around at all of these big tables with families celebrating the women in their lives. Then I looked across the table at my toddler. She was the reason I learned to celebrate myself. Fast-forward 10 years, and now we always do something together.

To me, Mother’s Day is about celebrating the aspect of myself that I love the most but am most critical of. 

Being a strong Single Mom practically kills me every day. We were designed to raise our babies in a village, but now we must build our tribes. It feels hard because it is hard. We aren’t meant to do it alone. 

These are some of the self-care practices that I have adopted over the years

  • Therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight training
  • Sauna – I read in the sauna
  • Stretching
  • Self-love
  • Massages
  • Skincare
  • Healthy meals
  • Eating Brisket alone in my car
  • AcupunctureEssential oils
  • Cryotherapy
  • Pranic healing
  • Eating fancy chocolate alone
  • Active rest
  • PEMF mat
  • Acupressure
  • Red light therapy
  • Walks with friends
  • Saying No
  • Removing toxins 
  • Volunteering
  • Acupuncture
  • Journaling/ brain dump
  • Drawing
  • Singing horribly in my car
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Cleaning my kitchen listening to 90’s R&B
  • Vibration resonance therapy
  • Soaking in the tub with a fancy bath bomb
  • Hiking
  • Finding a job that I love and feel supported and set up for success.

I’m not going to tell you to get lots of sleep or reduce stress because every time I read that advice, I roll my eyes and say that it doesn’t apply to any Moms I know. 

Find the things that make your soul happy.

Self-care makes you a better Mom. You don’t need permission to do this. You are the only one that is going to take care of you. You can’t take care of your family if you aren’t well. I lead by example; I take time to do something for myself every day. Sometimes, it’s reading for 30 minutes in my Infrared Sauna, taking a walk with my Daughter while we talk, and sometimes, it’s an at-home spa night. This shows my Daughter that I am strong and human and shows her how to do the same for herself.

This is to say, take care of yourself and nourish your female friendships. They are the people who will save you when everything falls apart. Celebrate yourself and the strong women around you.

Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers everywhere. I see you, I feel you. Take some time to honor and celebrate yourself. You are amazing, and you are worth it.

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