Calm Christmas

Sending a little love and light to MIL as I start this post as she was the catalyst for an important decision my husband and I made about the holidays this year.

We have decided to have a family Christmas. Our family. Me, my husband, little bubby, and Lu.

We have decided we will not be traveling, we will not be making the rounds. We will be home, with each other, celebrating in our own way and hopefully creating new traditions together that will be part of our Christmases for years to come.

This decision came after a massive guilt trip laid on both of us from my MIL.

Before little bub was born we would often travel to see my husband’s family for Christmas. It had become an annual trip and we looked forward to it.

We both agreed, even before I became pregnant, that once we had a baby we would not be traveling for Christmas.

Apparently my MIL did not get that message and that turned into a very awkward conversation for me when my in-laws were here a few months ago for a visit.

I have a lot of compassion for my MIL when it comes to her role as grandma, I know she feels disconnection due to distance.

Still, this is a decision we are connected to.

After a few awkward conversations wherein she tried every mom tactic out there to change our minds, with no success, my husband and I had a very intentional conversation around what we want Christmas to feel like.

Some of the words that came up were; connection, Love, peaceful, joy, comfort.

From this we both agreed that we wanted to be home, with each other, enveloped in the day and taking it all in without distraction.

Since making the decision my usual underlying feeling of dread (there has been excitement and joy as well) has lifted.

Knowing that we don’t have to accommodate anyone else’s schedule, we don’t have to travel, we don’t have to haul gifts and little bubby supplies anywhere, we don’t have to DO anything. We can just BE.

That is our gift to ourselves. Connection, Love, Peace, Joy, Comfort. At home.

As this is little bubby’s first real Christmas we are thinking about what our family’s traditions might include. I am thinking about the meal and leaning towards vegan tamales, as tamales are a traditional holiday dish in Mexican culture and we like the idea of tying in our culture into our holiday traditions. I am thinking about how to make the day magical for little bubs without over planning, finding the balance between structured family activities and freedom to play and be. I am also thinking about sweet sacred alone time with my husband once little bubby has gone to bed. I have tossed out the idea of us getting a fire pit for the back yard this year (my husband loves to build a good fire), we are still mulling that idea over. I am playing with the idea of a hot spiced drink and maybe a quiet activity like a holiday puzzle.

This is what I am clear on, it will be wonderful whatever it ends up being. Because we are creating this experience with intention, knowing exactly how we want to feel and really leaning into those feelings as we plan.

Here is the other thing I am clear on, this is the exact right decision for our family. The thing that came up for us as we had that discussion a while back that led to this decision was this; we are a family. So spending Christmas with family does not have to extend beyond us if we don’t want it to. Love to both of our families of origin, they no longer define family for us though. Family can be us or more than us and at any given time we get to decide.

We will still make time for both of our families around the holiday. Little bubs will spend time with family in town before Christmas day and skype with family out of town. This decision was not made from a place of exclusion, it was made from a place of Love and connection.

So as we enter this season I wish you and yours warm tidings of comfort and joy. And Love. Always Love.

Alchemy in Body Work

I feel it is time to acknowledge some shame I have been carrying around because it is heavy on my heart and I am ready to set it down and heal with Love instead.

I have shared a little bit about how my husband and I are taking some time at the end of the year now to figure out what our relationship with food as a family will look like going forward. When little bubby started eating solids we realized real quick there would not be a point where we suddenly say, okay let’s feed him fat, sugar, and sodium. This means my husband and I, who are well meaning but not completely intentional, needed to make changes to meet little bubby where he is and join him in healthy eating.

In August I had a health scare. I had some kind of gastrointestinal episode that was very painful and found me in my doctor’s office the next day. Labs and testing done came back negative so I assumed it was something I ate and moved on. Two months later, almost to the day, I had another episode but this time it was much worse. I was debilitated by it. I will not get into the details but I was very sick. Again I found myself in my doctor’s office and more testing was ordered. Results have not come back yet, and based on these findings the spectrum of intervention could be from dietary change to surgery.

It is clear to my husband and I though that at the very least we will be applying the dietary change, in fact we already have. My body is literally telling me it is time.

I have gone full vegetarian with most of my meals being fully vegan. I have been off dairy for a while but I do still eat fish. My husband is practicing this with me for the meals he eats at home but for the time being still takes a sandwich for lunch that includes deli meat. Little bubby is eating this way with us because we are the ones preparing his meals obviously but we are not against him having lean meats such as poultry when we are with family.

So here is where my shame has been weighing on me; I caused this. I have been using food to hold my pain for most of my life. It started as the example set by my parents but as an adult I had the choice to parent myself better and that is not the option I have been choosing. I have been sitting in shame while I process the fact that now my body is struggling because of the damage I have caused with my choices. I am ashamed I did not Love myself better. This feels like self-harm. I knew better and continued to make these choices from a place of victim mentality, scarcity, and fear.

Love was always a choice here, and it still is, I just wish I had made this choice sooner.

Here is where I call in grace; I am here. The darkness that came before was then, this is now, and I am here, choosing Love. The pain that I experienced in that darkness still yearns to be felt which is why I think I was still having a hard time choosing Love. I recognize now though that I can go back and touch without actually being there. I am not there anymore, now can be different. It is my choice, I have the freedom of choice now and I am choosing Love. I am choosing connection. I am choosing me, and my family, and peace.

I choose gentleness and healing. I choose to be kind with myself as I pick all of myself up and walk my path home to Love.

I close this with gratitude. Gratitude for my body and the way she has always held me.

Thank you for all you have done to care for me, everyday, never stopping, never failing, no matter how bad it got, no matter how many times I abandoned you, no matter how unloved you must have felt. You have showed me the most unconditional Love just by doing exactly what you do, going on. I Love you. I Love you and going forward I am going to speak to you with Love, I am going to nourish you with Love, I am going to hold you Sacred with Love. It has always been you and me and it will always be you and me. I Love you and I am grateful without end for all the wonder that you are.

Three Horsemen at the Breakfast Table

Shadows that came visiting this morning: scarcity, manipulation, resentment.

The storm started like this;

This morning I made little bubby and I our oatmeal and little bubs was chomping happily on a banana when daddy walked into the kitchen and went into the cupboard to get the makings for his oatmeal. I sat in the window seat across from little bubby in my favorite spot, over looking our hanging garden and the bird feeder. Little bubs started pointing and grunting, letting us know he was ready for the oatmeal that had been cooling on the kitchen table next to him. I asked my husband to help little bubby with breakfast and I got a sharp you can do it back from him as he kept his back to me and continued his work by the microwave.

My reaction was instant.

Yes, I am aware I can. I am asking you to help so I can have a break. I do breakfast with him 6 days a week. 

Into the spiral we fell.

Him saying it is not fair that I use that against him, he works, it is not his fault he cannot be here during the week.

Me reminding him that I have two full-time jobs as well and I get no more break than he does.

Him trying to use me, me trying to manipulate him, both of us feeling resentment, neither of us getting our needs met, both of us dancing with scarcity all over the kitchen.

So we did what we do.

We started truth speaking, holding each other responsible for the muck we were both bringing to the situation, taking turns acknowledging and owning our muck, and making a plan to ensure we find ourselves back on the same page and out of this squall.

I had to own my manipulation and speak my truth about what my needs were. I also had to own the lies I was telling myself about the situation so scarcity could sit down and stop running the chaos.

He had to own his manipulation and speak his truth about his needs as well. And just like me he had to own the lies he was telling himself about the situation so scarcity could shut up and step back.

What we realized is; we were both exhausted (no shock here), we were both operating from scarcity and self-preservation, and like so many times before, we had fallen away from our gratitude practice. When we are not mindfully practicing gratitude it is usually only a matter of time before scarcity shows up spreading lies and starting fires.

We got to a point that we both felt comfortable proceeding with our day even without every lose end being tied up. The conversation cup is holding a few things to circle back to when we have the space and time to fully honor them later in the weekend. For now we have a clearer path forward and an even clearer path for individual and family self-care this weekend.

We are getting better at this all the time. The growth I saw inside of today’s interaction was this;

No anger. Neither of us fell into anger, we did not get hot. After the initial sharp comments we immediately started doing the work to repair and care for each other and the relationship.

This is huge guys. For me this means I did not become overwhelmed by my emotions and was able to speak from the heart while staying grounded and rational. For my husband, this means he was able to dip into his heart space and truth speak rather than going to his male shame place of “fixing” or staying in his brain space without allowing vulnerable to be present.

I have said it before and I will keep saying it; I love this man, I love what we are building together, I love this life of ours. It is good.

It is good.

In the Time of Fierce Women

I am counting my gratitude so deep right now for we are in the time of fierce women. At this moment in time so many women I love are FULL ON SHOWING UP in their lives and stepping out of the learned pattern of self-abandonment.

I am not talking about my idols; Glennon and Abby and Brene and Alicia and Cheryl and Elizabeth and Michelle and Margaret, no I am talking about women I know personally, who I get to love.

How lucky am I to stand next to and hold hands with these women? These women who are showing up True in their lives saying; No. No more. That does not work for me. I choose ME.

Through their tears and anxiety and fear and shaking voices they are showing up for  themselves and for LOVE. And by doing this, consciously or not, they are showing up for ALL OF US.

When you show up for you, you are showing up for me, because you are showing me how.

You are lighting that path for ALL of us when you choose connection and Truth and Love and YOU.

I know this moment may not feel like Light and Love; it may feel like terror and uncertainty and confusion and a super swirled up mess.

Friend, please listen close as I tell you; inside of that dark place is where we all have to go to get back to who we are.

So all I have is unending gratitude and LOVE for these women, these beloved souls I get to call friends. How lucky am I to bear witness, to be here, with my hand at my heart, loving you so fiercely, as you show us all how – to do really fucking hard, important, life changing, spectacular things.

Get it girl, my heart is with you.

Modesty Schmodesty

Last night I attended my first crochet and knitting social group at the library.

I have so many take aways.

  1. It was awesome to drive alone in the car, turn the music up (no little ears in the backseat to overwhelm), and be alone with my thoughts. It was awesome to be alone. I miss being alone. I love little bubby and my husband fiercely, AND I miss being alone.
  2. It felt good to see the world clearly. When I am able to close down all the momma tabs in my brain for a while I am able to see the world so much more intensely again. I m someone who pays attention; I see the variation of greens in the grass, I see the fake flowers sitting on the windowsill of the open window of the church. I SEE my surroundings and am  inspired by all of it. Motherhood has fogged my brain a bit, I am still paying attention but maybe not as closely and maybe not all the time. I felt so myself as I marveled at the long shadows on the pavement and the way the 6:30 sun turned the green leaves gold in the park.
  3. I was not afraid. This one is BIG. In the time before I was in my power, I was afraid. I was afraid of so much. I would have never gone by myself downtown in the evening to a meet up with a bunch of strangers. All of that would have felt scary and dangerous to me. Last night I was not afraid. I was not afraid of finding parking, I was not afraid of walking by myself on the street, I was not afraid of the men on the street around me, I was not afraid of the city, I was not afraid of getting lost, or being new with unknown people, I was not afraid of being accepted or not. I was not afraid. I was not afraid because now I know and believe that I am safe. Let me be very clear about what I am saying — I know and believe I am safe because I know and believe that I am the safety I am seeking. I am safe in the world because I am safe within myself.
  4. I was not afraid – AND, I was nervous. I felt it rise up as I was driving there. It was a little part of me, preschool age, she was nervous about being new and being alone. I told her, I am with you, I am not going to leave you, we are all going to together. That was it. That was all it took. She knew she was safe and the nervous energy immediately lifted. Again, I am the safety I am seeking. If I know that I am wholly connected to myself and have made a promise not to self-abandon for anyone or anything on the outside, I am not afraid to be BIG and there is no room for anxiety because I am safe.

So this was all the internal processing that was happening before I ever stepped foot into the group. Here is what joining a new group looked like for me now from a place of deep self-love and connection.

I did not hustle, I did not prostitute. I am sure for some reading the second half of that sentence might feel icky. This is what social situations used to look like for me though. My insecurities would ride shot gun which would always lead to a terrible hustle to fit in and more often than not I would prostitute a piece of myself to try to experience belonging. This is what happens when I operate from a place of disconnection and shame. This is what it looks like when my trauma and insecurities run the show. This was not my experience last night. I walked in, made eye contact, said hi, found a seat and started crocheting. The library employee who hosts the group introduced herself and then introduced me to the group. Then I sat back and listened and observed while I worked with my yarn. I felt seen even without exerting any force or effort because I felt connected to self.

Something I noticed right away as I sat quietly working was that socializing does look different for me now. It has been years since I have socialized on a very human level, no healing or spiritual dimension present in the social group. My social group now consists only of other souls on their journey towards healing and purpose as well as a few close friends who I have known most of my life and who I can be emotionally and spiritually naked with.

The first thing I noticed was the difference in energy with this group. I felt really strong energy, I felt the hustle and insecurities of people in the group, I felt their wounds. I kept feeling triggered to comment on what I was hearing, seeing, and feeling. I held myself though because none of this was mine to hold and I was not going to set any part of myself down to hold what was not mine. I do not need to do that to belong, I already belong. After a moment of reconnection to my truth about where my sense of belonging comes from I was fine. I no longer felt triggered by anything or anyone around me, I was able to just be. It was pretty fantastic, I was super comfortable.

Overall socializing for me amounted to two statements; at one point to group was having a conversation about something and I felt comfortable sharing my truth that “we are allowed to Love what we Love”. My other contribution to group discussion came when the host shared that she was crocheting “booty shorts” for her son as part of his requested Halloween costume. This brought up the topic of appropriateness to which she replied “his body his rules” (which I fucking LOVED and agree with my whole heart!) so I said so and then said modesty schmodesty because the part of me who responded so strongly to her awesome feminist mothering is apparently a weirdo! Who am I kidding, to the outside world most of me probably seems pretty unusual.

With all of the energy flying around the room and the clear projection taking place I was  amazed to find myself feeling calm. More than that, I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed the group. When I stand in my truth of connection and belonging and allow all other beings to hold themselves without feeling the need to pick anyone up, my capacity to experience joy and Love expands, it is infinite.

I am growing. Everyday I am growing. I am becoming truer, I am becoming more powerful, I am LOVE, more and more and more I am the embodiment of LOVE.

I do not need a single thing from this group except for everyone to be just as they are and for me to be all that I am too.

It was good. It is good. There is so much goodness.

Seasons Always Change

Oh friends, I am in my struggle.

Little bubby and I are in a difficult season and some moments I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water.

He is betting busier and wanting to explore more, which is really exciting and fun for both of us, AND it is also leading to multiple meltdowns a day when I try to create safety for him in the process.

He is starting to experience some of his big emotions, like frustration, and due to the communication barrier I feel the best I can do to help him navigate these experiences is to nurture and support him in the moment and redirect when necessary.

I feel good about the way I am showing up with him AND my nervous system is feeling the impact of spending 12+ hours a day with a someone who does not yet know how to self-regulate.

I hit a wall on last Monday. Long story short; my day started before 5am and ended after 10pm, and the in-between was trying to put it mildly.

Since then I have been giving a lot of thought to what needs to happen inside of my self-care to better equip me for these kind of difficult days. My husband and I have been talks about how we can both be making space for our own and each other’s self-care. This has been a priority for both of us, even before little bubby was born, but of course we are not perfect and sometimes we spread too thin.

My self-care has always existed inside gentle moments; sitting under the oak tree at the park near our home and being part of hum of life, creating through art and writing, reading, making space in my life to put myself in the way of beauty, and of course my daily practice of gratitude.

The gratitude practice is key and we feel it when we allow it to fall by the wayside, as it has over the last few weeks.

So for now we are recommitted to practicing mindfulness and gratitude as a family, AND while I figure out all the ways I want to step up my self-care game, I have decided to pack up my yarn and take my crochet project on the road! There is a group that meets up once a week to knit and crochet together at our library downtown so I have decided to join them this week to see what I think.

Truthfully I usually enjoy being enveloped in silent solitude when I am creating but I am clear that I need to have time away from the house and this feels like something I could slide into with ease.

I am feeling called to close with a little gratitude;

I am grateful for our home. I love where we live, I love all the life I get to share this home with – baby and husband and cardinal alike.

I am grateful for my healing, my awareness of my wounds and my commitment to loving myself wholly makes me the everything that I am.

I am grateful for each sweet silent moment of solitude I get to exist in.

I am grateful for the change of season and the temperate with that will accompany it.

I am grateful to be here, in this. Struggle or not, this is mine and I love it.

We Don’t Have to Rush

This post is inspired by a memory that surfaced from elementary school;

Sometime during 4th grade, after the death of my Nana, Mom and I had a hard morning.

We were running late getting me to school. I do not know if my Mom was working at the time, so I am unsure if this feeling of rush and force was bigger than just me not getting to school on time, maybe there was more at stake than I knew.

Let me set the scene for you;

None of the clothes I want to wear are clean so Mom has forced me into a pair of jean shorts I am mortified to be seen in and some dumb shirt I do not like.

Here is the thing about these shorts;  first you should know when I was kid money was tight so Mom got resourceful at times. She had a talent for sewing, she made both mine and my cousin’s first communion dresses and you would never have known they were not some expensive store bought dresses like the other girls. What my Mom created for me did not always line up with what 9-year-old fashion was at the time.

These shorts had been jeans that I ripped the knees out of while playing outside the prior summer. We could not afford to throw away clothes that still fit so Mom attempted to transform them into shorts and the end product fell short. I gave it little thought because I had another pair of jeans and a pair of shorts I could wear and re-wear so no one at school ever had to see my Mom’s creation anyway.

This particular morning my Mom had decided I would not re-wear my jeans for what was probably the 11th time in a row, with no other clean bottoms to wear she told me to put on the hacked up shorts.

So I was already sitting in dread of what the day would hold for me, I would surely be a target in these awful shorts, while I frantically tore up my closet floor looking for my sneakers as my Mom yelled we have to leave now!

My sneakers were no where to be found! How was I going to go to school shoe-less? Guess I would just have to stay home.

My Mom was having none of it. She shoved my fancy white church shoes (which were covered in scuff marks from climbing on everything in sight) over my colorful tube socks and told me to head for the car.

I was stupefied. What was she doing?! My protests were fierce and immediate; Mom I can’t wear my church shoes, I have to wear sneakers for PE or they won’t let me participate and I will get in trouble!

She did not budge and with that I was off to school in my rag tag jean shorts, dumb shirt, colorful tube socks and fancy white scuffed up church shoes.

My Mom dropped me off and left. I was so ashamed my eyes were burning before I got out of the car. I did not know how I was going to face the fourth grade, I did not know how I was going to survive the day.

This was my first walk of shame. I was late, the car ramp was empty. Alone I walked through the vacant halls, the little heels on my fancy white scuffed up shoes clacking an echo all the way to the brown metal door of my classroom. I peeked in the slatted window on the door, everyone was in their seats, class had started. I knew the moment I opened that door all eyes would be on me.

It must have been bad because I lose my memory here.

I pick back up maybe 30 minutes later; I am at my teacher’s desk, I am crying, I am asking to go see the guidance counselor. I have become close with our guidance counselor this year, I have spent some time talking with her between Nana dying and my cousin and first best friend being removed from the family and living in a group home.

In the counselor’s office she listens as I cry. She knows my Mother and thinks fondly of her, she tries to balance my feelings for me. There is no balance to be struck, I am wounded and I have no room for whatever my Mother’s truth might be. In my mind she made me prey and then abandoned me  in the lion’s den that was the 4th grade.

The counselor has a pair of sneakers from the lost and found she offers me so I can participate in PE. They are only a small step up from my fancy white scuffed up church shoes. I see another pair, some black Keds with cool mesh sides, I ask for those ones instead – Maybe I can survive the day in those, maybe the kids won’t notice my Mom-sewn-shorts and instead they will just see my cool sneakers. The guidance counselor explains that those shoes are too small for me. I know she is right but I am desperate, I plead and she concedes. I wedge my tube socked foot into the too small shoe and blissfully ignore my cramped toes as I walk back to class.

I know that I do not know this story in full. I know what my scraps of memory tell me, I know what my feelings tell me, but I do not know what I am missing due to dissociation and I do not know what my Mother’s truth is. I can make conjectures and try to fill in blanks based on what I knew of my life at that time but to what end?

This was not one of my big traumas in childhood, it was a hard day. I think the reason this memory has stayed with me is to serve as a reminder now.

I am the adult, he is the child. What will moments like these look like for us?

There are so many times when I have a plan in my head for how the day will go, every minute for the next three hours planned out, then he wakes up from nap and takes an extra long time eating his yogurt because he really wants to work on holding the spoon today. Or we are going to the playground but a few feet outside the door he decides he would rather sit in the driveway and play with sticks.

Here are some things I know;

The first is that I have something now that my Mother did not have when I was 9, security.

Financial security that allows me to be home right now and not working on someone else’s schedule where our mornings would be rushed and potentially stressful.

Security in who I am as a Mother. I am so connected to my truth of infinite enoughness, his and my own, that no part of me can be shaken into believing we are less. Even when I get it wrong I know I am enough. When it is  hard, we are enough, this is enough, all of it is enough. This truth goes beyond my role as Mother, it is woven into every part of my being. This level of security within myself keeps me from falling into places of scarcity where I would value being on time over him or our connection in a moment. It keeps me from valuing “doing” over “being”. It keeps me right here where I am meant to be, in the moment with him.

Of course there are times where we make plans and try to keep a schedule and of course I balance what is going on with him with that schedule. I would not dishonor someone else’s time because he wants to continue playing blocks. What I am very clear on is this; if one day my nine year old child is having a hard morning because we are running late and the clothes he wants to wear are not clean, and he cannot find his sneakers, and maybe I am even running late for work or another important adult commitment… I will pause.

I will be with him, as long as it takes for us to find our way through and out the other side. We will take the time to find the shoes and we will talk about his feelings of anxiety or disappointment, if any, around not being able to wear what he wanted to wear to school. I will put everything else down if that is what it takes to hold space for him.

The way I, together with my husband, love him is the way he will learn to love himself. And if I am willing to do this for him, I have to be willing to do it for me too. That is the other thing I know, my Mother has never fully known how to hold space for me because she does not hold herself sacred.

We, all of us, you, me, our babies, our parents – we are ALL worthy of time. The world will continue to tick away while we exist inside of our pause taking care of ourselves and each other.

I am grateful that my inner nine-year-old has been sitting here next to me riding shot gun and guiding my heart as I parent this sweet soul who chose me.

I am grateful for all the ways my Mother failed me, therein giving me so much opportunity to build the resilience needed to become the human I am meant to be.

I am grateful for my ability to hold space for myself, it creates capacity for me to hold sacred space for those I love most, which is sometimes the stranger walking next to me and sometimes my sweet little boy.

Holding space for myself tonight meant writing this story down because this is the moment it was ready to be shared. Holding space for myself tonight meant asking my husband if he would be willing to hold a little space for me tomorrow by getting up with little bubby so I could catch up on the sleep I will miss to be here with myself and share this story.

As I close I am holding the energy of deep gratitude is for my husband, who holds space for me with so much love, and for every other person in my life who holds space for me and allows me to feel what it is like to be held sacred.