…favorite things friday: concrete, wood & the safe nest

So much crazy is happening at my house and DH and I have reached the conclusion that we bit off a lot this summer. At this moment in time, there is concrete being poured and wood delivered. I love progress, but living in a mess it a bit hard for me for long periods of time.


This morning I had some quiet time while DH took the kids to camp and was able to write a post on The Safe Nest. For those of you that have come with me on the journey of The Safe Nest ,I love you for it. I am trying to build a community of people who are open and honest about their struggle to be happy in a broken world. If you want to post your own story, you can do so anonymously. If you want to just read my struggles or others then I welcome you.

Below is a post that I wrote today. If you want to connect or just read. Join me here. It is a safe place to land. Promise.

Have a blessed weekend, Dear Readers! xoxo

You Are Not Pizza.

By Christen Bensten


I heart this sign so much. It is a blunt & funny reminder to all of us when we get stuck in that place of doubting ourselves.

We all have self doubt in common. Even super pretty, rich celebrities struggle with questioning themselves. We just don’t see it unless Us Weekly happens to catch them at a bad time in their lives and exposes it with an unflattering image. We love seeing the raw pictures and gossiping about the stories, but I think secretly we are all relieved that it’s not just us that is struggling.

When I became a mom I had moments of panic about if any other moms would like me. I was the first of my friends to be married and have a baby so I was starting from ground zero in the mommy-friend department. I knew no other moms my age with their first babies. If you too have been in this situation, you know it a very vulnerable and scary situation. Who can I relate to? Who can I sign up for a Music Together class with? A JW Tumbles session? Stroller Strides? Who would meet me at the mall to push our screaming babies through Nordstrom and be our moral support when we tried to breast feed in the lounge room without our Hooder-Hider that we had left in the other baby bag? What friend would meet me and my new baby for dinner at 4:00pm? I needed mom friends.

With the help of a mom organization in my area, I formed a First Baby Mom’s Group – MammaMia (named by my mommy friend Laurain). But, it still felt like dating. Who was I going to talk to when we met every Tuesday at 10:30am in a room with crying babies? Who was I going to relate to and would we have anything in common besides diaper rash solutions and exhaustion? Once the new baby smoke started to clear, relationships also developed. Playdates were being arranged and dinners outside the group. Playdates. DATES! I was dating again and this time it was with moms that I wanted to be my friends and I wanted my baby to marry their baby and we would all live as neighbors happily ever after. It was a lot of pressure to find the perfect match.

Sometimes we would all get together and all I had done with my time was bounce my inconsolable, sensitive baby. Then the yogurt comment happened.

“You feed your baby baby-yogurt?! Do you know how much sugar is in those?”

Yogurt? Baby yogurt? Yogurt for babies?! No, I have no idea how much sugar is in baby-yogurt. I left that morning with my tail between my legs thinking I was the worst mom ever for giving my baby what I thought was a good solution to dairy. It took me week to finally get mad. This other mom, who I thought was in the trenches with me, just surviving, shamed me! Pulled the rug out from under me and insinuated that I was doing something I ought not to. That I was bad. I reflected on our time together and realized that this was not the only moment when I felt like, well, she just didn’t like me. I was not carrying my baby in a rainbow wrap twisted in all sorts of directions until it wound my baby to my chest. I was not letting my baby co-sleep and I was pretty sure I was not going to nurse my child until she was four.

Yes, eventually preschool started and my circle expanded. I met more moms that were traveling the same stream as me, the same direction I was headed. I started developing relationships outside of baby sleep solutions and potty training. Instead, I started attending birthday parties for adults, going to chick flicks and talking about The Bachelor episode from the night before. I was making friends of my own.

I starting feeling more confident as a mom and friend at this stage of my life. Not just confident, but grateful that I had made really good friends. Like, life-time friends. And I am almost 40! I never thought I would make friends that I could put in my will at age 40.

It makes me think more about people like rainbow, baby-wrap, breast-feeding, baby-yogurt-hating-girl that I occasionally seen out and about. She still gives me a half smile when I beam at her and say, “Hello, remember me, I’m Christen.” I look at my perfect, eldest child with her healthy yogurt-loving, strong bones.

Maybe all these things things that make other people not “like” us have nothing to do with us. Maybe it has more to do with how the other person relates to people in the world. What are THEY insecure about? What are THEY worried about? What defenses do THEY have up. What experiences have they had that make them not be open? Hmmmm. Maybe they don’t like pizza, but maybe they don’t even like something as sweet and delicious as ice cream. Too bad for them.


building a business: mental challenges

Glennon from Momastary wrote a really great post yesterday about mental differences how they are valuable to society and the common good if just harnessed, appreciated and not simply corrected. She challenges the idea that instead of just letting go and rejoining the world, that caused great suffering to begin with, to instead label what is deemed a negative into a superpower. Could addiction, depression, anxiety really be wonderful attributes that contribute in a very special way? I love what she says here.

“Instead of coming at us with the desire to change us because we are inconvenient to the world—come at us with the desire to help us because we are important to the world. We want you to see that with a little help, we can be your prophets, healers, clergy, artists, and activists. Help us manage our fire, yes, but don’t try to extinguish us. That fire that almost killed us is the same fire we’ll use to light up the world. And so we don’t want you to take what we’ve got, we just want help learning how to use what we’ve got for good.”  – Glennon Doyle Melton


It is a shift in thinking for the mentally challenged too. To think that dealing with our struggles is not a shaming and bad thing. I know only too well that shame squashes everything and is like a monkey on our backs that does not let us move and grow and expand. What if we did not feel shame? What if people didn’t tell us to just go to therapy, medicate and try to live a “normal” life like everyone else? Is everyone else doing such a great job of life? Better than us? Ha!

Could I be good at what I do and how I care about my friends and how I raise my kids and love my husband and learn to live in this world? Could my perspective be not only worthy, but also super important? I cannot help but think of the radical message that Jesus spread and how people thought he was downright NUTS! They thought he was so dangerous and crazy that they MURDERED him!

If you suffer like I do with depression and anxiety and find every day a roller coaster in your mind that you are trying to manage, I encourage you and me to notice in these moments that we may be the special ones. That maybe our perspective goes beyond what others who are “normal” are able to grasp. We don’t need the normal ones to even acknowledge our creative differences (although that would be nice). We can just grown in confidence that is it TRUE.

It’s no secret that some of the best and most famous artists and writers struggled. There was tension in their lives and in their minds and they produced art from it. Wow. I always found this correlation fascinating and comforting. Maybe the noise in our heads actually propells us forward into more creative spaces. I would say this is definitely true for me. When I am anxious and not sure what to do with my thoughts, I paint. When I am trying to make sense of feelings of discouragement, shame, guilt, etc, I write. I market myself and my business to make myself feel worthy and valuable. Has all my struggle actually HELPED me grow my business and explore my interests? Why, yes.

There is a seat for me at this table.


Love talking about stuff like this? Join me at The Safe Nest.

…the safe nest

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Today I give you a link to The Safe Nest for more explanation and my musings on yet another emergency.

The Safe Nest