We’ve Got to go Through It!

One of mine and my husband’s favorite stories to read little bubby is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. It is all about we can do hard things.

We love the message, we love the cadence and rhythm, we love the beautiful illustrations, we love acting it out for little bubby. I particularly love the repetitive We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, Oh No, we’ve got to go through it!

That is important because it is true.

This book also hits on so much symbolism in my healing work; the river representing motherhood, the mud representing my trauma, the cave representing my safe space, the dark forest both haven and the unknown depending on perspective.

This book speaks to me.

So now on top of my mantras of I am not small, I can do hard things, I am done trying to belong where I do not belong, I am the hero of this story.. I have added on occasion I have to go through it! It is a reminder that there are no short cuts to healing – I have to feel the pain, I have to go through it.

Motherhood is my biggest BIG. This is the most important invitation I have ever been given, I understand that now.

bear hunt

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I am a Leader

Here are a few words that have been used to describe me as a child; willful, tenacious, ring-leader, bossy, strong willed, stubborn.

Not all of these words have a natural negative connotation so let me be clear; they were absolutely meant as criticism.

Any attempts to get me to conform were met with fierce opposition.

I bucked every Sunday at being forced to attend church. I refused to get out of bed, I hid from my  mother who chased me with a hair brush, I squirmed and screamed as I was forcibly stuffed into tights and a lacy dress. If my parents were lucky I slept through mass; otherwise I spent my time sitting on the floor between pews poking the feet of the parishioners in front of us, or banging the song book against the wood of the pew.

My parents were relentless week after week, as was I. This was an ongoing battle throughout my entire childhood.

My willfulness did not apply exclusively to my resistance to religion. This energy carried over in other areas garnering me further unwanted attention.

The boys of my youth did not like my loud, decisive way of being. The specific group of boys I am referring to were raised strictly along the gender lines of boys will boys and girls will be ladies.

Well no one has EVER accused me of being a lady.

So once again someone who insisted I be something other than what I am attempted to (literally) beat me into submission. Submit I did not, taking the beating I did.

I come back to reflect on all of this now because motherhood is teaching me many things about myself and one of the things I recently discovered is that I am a leader.

While on so many levels I have always known this, it is also a truth I have run from.

Being a leader is something for BIG people and when I was playing small this label terrified me. As a child I was a leader, I refused to follow, refused to give in, refused to be shoved into a box of someone else’s making. I refused until the pressure became too much. My inside resolve temporarily crushed by the outside force.

Now, coming home to myself and rescuing that bad-ass little girl, I call her Scout, I am able to speak my truth: I am a leader.

I know this is true because;

I bristle at the idea of self-help books, I will not be saved by someone else’s truth. Even if my truth ends up mirroring the truth of others, and I know it will because I am not the only person experiencing my awakening, I still have to come to it on my own.

I do not belong in religion. Religion to me = Rules. My relationship with my creator has no rules. Love and connection are the language of the Universe, as long as I stay in tune with that Sacred Truth I experience spiritual alignment.

I do not belong under my mother’s control. Or anyone’s for that matter. I will not play small to fit in to boxes that would serve to suffocate. I will not willingly put on shackles and restraints to comply with familial expectations/social norms.

I do not belong in a box of anyone’s creation, I do not belong in restraints.

I release all the lies that I believed about myself.

I reclaim my truth: I AM strong-willed. I AM tenacious. I AM a leader. I AM strong willed. I AM stubborn when it counts. I AM the BOSS of me. I AM my own.

These are my truths now and I embrace them in love, not shame.

I am not small.

I am BIG. I am POWERFUL. I am a LEADER.

I am the hero of this story.

I am a leader

 

Intentional Disconnection

The concept of intentional disconnection emerged for me within the last week as I have been marveling at all the ways in which little bubby is becoming BIG.

It seems like sleep training was a turning point.

It is like he woke up one morning after putting himself to sleep the night before, and he decided, Okay I am big now, time to start acting like it.

So much happened in one week! He started sitting in the baby swing at the park more confidently and interacting with the children next to him as he swings, he started sitting in the cart at the grocery store, his personality has majorly bloomed – he is much more vocal and expressive, but the biggest news is that little bubby took his first steps (assisted of course).

I did not expect him to be taking steps for a few months yet, he has shown zero interest. I guess he just decided he was ready.

All of this growth he experienced in a short period of time made me reevaluate my attitude towards sleep training once again. Clearly little bubby was ready for some intentional disconnection from mommy and daddy.

I am also realizing there is more disconnection coming our way. He just weened from being breastfed so that is one area, we are also getting ready to upgrade his stroller to a forward facing stroller so he will no longer be looking at us on walks. Not to mention now that he is showing us that he is ready to get moving it is only a short matter of time before he will be independently mobile and relying on us less and less to get around.

I am glad that I have been present and connected to the experience of mothering because it does go quickly, like people say, and you don’t get any of it back. Once little bubby experiences a shift he cannot go back to the smaller version of himself, and I would not want him to. AND there are parts of me that mourn the loss of the smaller version of him because I have loved him at every stage and each stage has been special in its own unique way. That is for me to sit with though and that is where the intentional disconnection comes in.

I recognize that little bubby is experiencing so much growth in such a short amount of time and it is my job to make sure I am making room for him to be big, not doing things to keep him small. When he shows me he is ready to walk, then he is ready to walk whether I am ready for it or not. When he shows me that he is getting to big for the stroller, it is time for the big boy stroller even if I will miss looking at him during our walks.

Our connection is there AND he has to be able to connect with things outside of mommy as well, like himself, and nature, and other children, and food etc.. So I am making room for all of it and being intentional when the next aspect of disconnection from me in order to connect to other things happens.

We are figuring this out as we go. It is funny, connection is one of our family values, I never thought that we would be making room for intentional disconnection as a way to experience connection as a family. Little bubby is teaching us a lot.

Everyday I am grateful in new ways for this little soul. I am grateful he chose us. I am grateful we called him in to be with us and help our love grow.

I am amazed sometimes by the things I never knew I never knew. I am grateful to be learning. He is a wonderful teacher.

nana wisdom

Sometimes You Have Someone to Rescue

I was just hit hard by something I read, it relates to everything I know about experiencing a shift and not being able to go back to the smaller version you once were.

Hazel had read enough books to know that a line like this one is the line down which your life breaks in two. And you have to think very carefully about whether you want to cross it, because once you do it’s very hard to get back to the world you left behind. And sometimes you break a barrier that no one knew existed, and then everything you knew before crossing the line is gone. But sometimes you have someone to rescue. And so you take a deep breath and then step over the line and into the darkness ahead.

The book I am reading is not a self-help, it is not spiritual or philosophical, it is not a book that makes you think or question (at least I do not believe that was the author’s intention). It is a young adult fantasy. I read mainly fiction and inside that genre I read mainly fiction that contains an element of magic or make believe. Part of my survival growing up depended on my ability to disconnect, my ability to create beautiful alternate realities where home was safe, siblings were fun, and mother’s loved their children. My imagination has always been one of my greatest powers; it protected me from harsh truths my delicate pieces could not handle.

To this day I love stories with whimsy, imagination; stories that are magical where realities can be bent and you can count on the world around you to come alive and help you. Whether it is a talking animal or being held and comforted in the maternal arms of the Oak.

I know this has much to do with my artistic leanings towards fantasy landscapes – I like to create worlds that you could step through the canvas into. My little pieces like to have places to go when reality feels like too much.

Coming back to what I read –

This spoke to me. It is how I feel after experiencing a shift. My heart is bigger on the other side of that line I crossed and I cannot go back to the before, the place where my heart was smaller. She is right, you do have to think carefully about that decision because there is loss involved in stepping over a threshold like that.

But sometimes you have someone to rescue. And so you take a deep breath and then step over the line and into the darkness ahead.

I have stepped into my darkness so many times to perform rescue missions. I know the rescue is worth anything that could be lost in the process. Finding a piece of yourself in the dark, picking her up, carrying her home to the light… Once you’ve done it you know. You know you would be willing to put down every single person and every single thing that you thought was important if that is what it would take to pick that piece of you up.

I am grateful for this reminder of one of my very sacred truths tonight. It is validation of the path I am walking.

I am not afraid of the dark, some of my deepest truest loves were rediscovered in the darkest places. I will continue to venture into the dark unknown until I my heart tells me that all parts of me have been welcomed home. I will not leave any piece of me behind as I walk my path forward, we all go together.

the swamp

Teaching and Learning

Over the weekend we worked with little bubby on sleep training. It was hard for all of us, AND we did it. I am the proud momma of a champion sleeper now. It took two days and lots of resolve on my part along with emotional support from my husband but we successfully made it through to the other side.

A lot came up for me as we worked with little bubby on the skill of being able to put himself to sleep.

  1. I felt major disconnection from little bubby. This was a major change for us. Prior to sleep training he would spend half his naps on me in the chair and half in his crib, he co-slept with me in the morning for about an hour, and he was still breastfeeding overnight even though the pediatrician said that was absolutely unnecessary. To go from that much physical contact to much less during naps/at bedtime and none overnight was hard.
  2. I felt major disconnection from myself. Our pediatrician was pretty direct with us about now being the time for little bubby to master this skill and that it should be accomplished using the Ferber method. I was crushed when I heard the word Ferber. I have been saying since before we got pregnant that I was strongly against the Ferber method. I discussed my concerns with the doctor and we had a very frank discussion that included a bit of a debate about development and emotional/psychological well-being. By the end of the conversation I felt better about giving Ferber a shot. It was hard though and I was holding onto so much doubt and feelings of failure as a mother as little bubby tried to figure things out.
  3. It is not my job to save little bubby from everything. This was a hard pill to swallow because there are absolutely parts of me that want to save him from negative experiences. That is not my job though. My job is to love him and provide him a sense of security/connection as well as a safe environment so he can learn and grow. I realized how triggered I was by his crying, the little parts of me who were never saved my trauma wanted me to rescue him from this experience. I had to keep telling myself, He is safe, he is loved, we have a secure connection – it is okay to give him room to learn and grow, even if it is hard. I had to be very mindful not to project my own emotional state triggered by old wounds onto the situation. That would not be fair to him and it would not be healthy for either of us.
  4. Little bubby is not small. When given a little space to learn and grow, that is what he did. After two days he was putting himself to sleep without crying in the evening. He now sleeps 10 hours uninterrupted and wakes up with big smiles for momma and daddy.
  5. Connection was happening all along. By stepping back a little bit to give little bubby room to learn and grow we also gave him the opportunity to start building up his inside connection – connection to self. Autonomy is one of our family values and I did not understand at first that this is his first chance to experience that. This experience gave him the chance to self-soothe as well as do something for himself that momma and daddy used to do for him (put him to sleep).

I realize now that if I saved him from every negative experience what I would really be doing is sending him the message over and over that I do not believe he is big enough to handle whatever it is. Of course I keep all of this in the context of his age and level of development; I am not going to expect my baby bird to fly before he knows how to use his wings. I feel like over the weekend though little bubby learned that he is not small and he can do hard things. And while he may not be ready to lift up off our branch quite yet, he now knows that he has wings. Going forward it is our job to continue to provide him with safe experiences that allow him to use those wings over and over until he is ready to take that first big leap. When he is ready it will not matter if he flies or falls because he will know some very important truths;

He is loved. He has a place of connected security in daddy and I that he can land on. He is big. He can do hard things, including getting up after a fall and trying again until he learns how to fly.

In the midst of disconnection I find a deeper sense of connection with myself, little bubby, and the values we hold close as a family.

I am grateful for this difficult experience.

I am grateful that there was no saving going on during the experience and that little bubby and I were both allowed to figure it out.

I am grateful for love and connection and this life we are creating together.

I am grateful for my sacred truths;

We are not small. We can do hard things.

I am not small. I can do hard things.

gratitud

 

Creating My Web

All of the dysfunction with my family of origin, my experiences so far as momma, and the dreams I keep having, have led to a pretty incredible vision board this year.

I vision board every year. It helps me to have a visual of the path I am on, even when the path is not clear. Vision boarding is an intuitive process, I do not always understand everything that comes out when I am creating but by the year’s end all becomes clear.

Because I am done playing small this year I knew I needed to go big with my board. If I am saying that I am BIG I need to see that truth visually represented. Not to mention being BIG is hard work, there is a lot that goes into it, I needed plenty of space for all the hard that I am mastering.

When I finished the board, to the degree that it is finished, I saw so much symbolism in the shape I created.

I see a flower, its petals occupying the negative space on the board. To me this represents growth. I was once a seed planted in the dark in the mud, now with all the healing I have been experiencing I am finally breaking the surface.

I also see a spider web. This symbolism came about after discussing with my therapist that I had been seeing spiders everywhere. She said that she had been seeming them as well and when we looked up the symbolism behind the spider it had to do with creating your dreams, making them realities. She also felt that the web was significant because in my board I have a very clear center, that is me. Without that dedicated center the web does not hold up. Essentially, in order for me to do all this BIG work I have to be firmly connected to myself or it does not hold up.

In two short months I have accomplished things in my relationship with myself and in relationships with others that for years has seemed impossible.

I know now that impossible was just another lie I used to tell myself when I was small.

On my vision board there is a section left incomplete. That section comes later this year after I attend a healing retreat that I know is going to knock down and shatter my final wall. On the other side of that wall is EVERYTHING. On the other side of that wall is my life’s purpose and my work going forward. I will complete the last section later this year and it will lead to bigger intentions going forward.

I am grateful for connection.
I am grateful for a visual reminder that helps me to feel supported and purposeful in this work.
I am grateful for my path and even more grateful that I am finally walking it.

vision board 2019

Getting Creative: Creative Communication

Another space where my husband and I have been embracing the creative energy coursing through our home since the birth of little bubby is in how we communicate.

First we introduced the conversation cup. The conversation cup is our vessel for holding conversations we need to circle back to in order to honor what needs to be addressed with the appropriate space and time. Sometimes we use the conversation cup because we are in the middle of a conversation that is going south and we need to step back and gain perspective in order to continue towards connection. Sometimes we use the conversation cup to hold a topic we know needs more time than the thirty minutes we have together in the morning, it lets us jot down our key points and come back to it when there is enough time to honor everything that needs to be expressed.

The conversation cup holds hurt feelings, misunderstandings, truths not yet spoken, dreams, ideas, love.. Above all the conversation cup is about connection because our communication is about connection. We strive to always stay on each other’s team, when it starts to feel like we are not on the same team we know it is time for a break, to call in the conversation cup, and come back to whatever it is when we know we are both in a better place to hold whatever it is together.

This is us getting creative in our communication and for us it works.

Another area where we have recently gotten creative in how we communicate is related to expressions of gratitude.

We were already practicing gratitude with one another but not regularly enough to consistently keep scarcity at bay. We were experiencing scarcity in different ways; I was experiencing scarcity related to support with little bubby and my husband was experiencing scarcity related to time.

Here’s the thing, scarcity is a liar. It is an illusion. That is my truth at least. Scarcity shows up to tell tales of not-enough and it is important when I hear those whispers creeping up from dark places that I remember my truth: Who I am is enough. What I have is enough. What I do is enough. I am grateful. I am love.

What we have started doing to enhance our connection even further and really lean into the abundance of our love is writing down our daily gratitude for one another.

We have a dry erase board on the refrigerator that we mainly use to jot down items we need at the grocery and track little bubby’s feeding/napping schedule; last week I drew a heart on the board and underneath it I wrote folding your blanket and putting it away. 

In our home everyone has their own snuggle blanket for movies etc and my husband sometimes forgets to fold his and put it away. That day he didn’t and I appreciated it. I was afraid I would forget to tell him by the end of the day so I left him the note on the board. What started as a way for me to make sure my Mom-Brain remembered to thank my husband for a small thing I appreciated him doing has turned into a daily practice now.

My husband and I both have hearts on the board in different colors; he writes my notes in purple, I write his in green, and everyday we express our love and gratitude for what the other person is doing.

It helps us both feel seen, appreciated, connected to our intention as a family and in our marriage. There is no room for scarcity when love and gratitude occupy such a large space in our home.

We are both doing things we have never done in any previous relationship, romantic or otherwise. We are allowing our love for one another and our intuition guide us and amazing things are taking place.

My husband and I are not small. We are big, we have wings. Our babies will know how to fly, they will know how to love, they will know they are lovable – we are showing them.

I am grateful for this man whom I get to call my partner. I am grateful for the little soul who chose us and breathed new life into a love that already felt big. I am grateful to have found my wings, I am grateful to be using them. I was never meant to stay small on an unstable branch, I was always meant to fly.

conversation cup