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.

Being True

A few months ago my therapist gifted me a word of warning;

The bigger you get, the more you stand in your light, the more people will show up in shadow and try to take from you.

She said they will like my message so they will copy it. She said they will like my words so they will use them. She said they will like the way I make them feel so they will try to be just like me.

She said it will hurt.

When she told me this I cried.

I was particularly struck by the thought that someone else would take my words, my sacred words, the tools I have been using since the age of nine to find my way home to myself – and call them their own.

The very thought was devastating.

I know her warning is truth. I have already experienced this very thing multiple times in fact. And she is right, I am hurt when it happens.

Recently I have been feeling the niggle of this fear in the dark recesses of my mind.

My work right now is being True, being Love, and being in my Power. The closer I get to these goals the more I feel the niggle.

This is what I would like to say to the niggle today;

I will be okay. My Sacred Truth will still be True even if it is copied by others. Part of the purpose of living out loud in my truth is to allow my truth to help others find their own. If part of that process involves shadow work in this way, that is their work and I will leave them to it. My thoughts, feelings, actions, beliefs, identities – these belong to me. Nothing changes that.

What I realize is this; these women I admire, Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, my therapist.. None of them are any less who they are because we are all out here admiring them and trying to be like them and even sometimes internalizing their messages as our own until our True voices emerge.

Their lights do not dim because ours start to turn on and turn up.

Their is enough light for us all.

So, little fear, niggling me from dark corners, please know that I hear you and Yes, our Truth is Sacred. I know you are scared and you want to protect it. Staying small will not keep us safe though. We are safe, I am the safety you are seeking. Our light can shine, we can be True, and Love, and Power AND be safe.

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.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

I started my work towards wholeness with the part of myself that experienced my abortions, I am calling this part of myself broken mama because that is exactly how she feels.

I have a few soul friends holding this work with me; I have so much gratitude for this group of people. Being in the work in real time felt overwhelming, confusing, and I know disconnection was present of course. The group’s reactions and responses to how they experienced me and for the ways in which my work is a mirror for theirs has helped me so much with my journey towards connection and self-love.

I have written almost 20 pages since our meeting on topics such as disconnection and how my relationship with this super power is changing, manipulation, boundaries, shame, gratitude, how I felt then, how I feel now, and how I want to feel about this part of my story.

Another big one is religion. I have had big feelings about organized religion for a long time but have struggled to find the words to express the feelings. That is changing. The closer I get to the wound, the clearer I become on where I stand in my place of truth.

What I am feeling most hopeful about following this first part of the work is how aware I am of my growth.

Shame rose up during the work and lingered over me temporarily while I was processing a bit with the group, it was brief though. I am allowing so much more room for grace than I used to.

Here is where I am at:

I am okay with how this work is starting. There is no expectation that reconnection and healing will happen automatically. This wound has been festering for 20 years, time is allowed for love and healing.

It is okay that I felt overwhelmed at first. This will not always be true. The more connection I build, the easier this will feel. I am not alone in this and I am doing okay.

I am proud that I am able to separate then from now. Now I am safe and loved and I feel that truth even after being back in this darkness.

I am proud that I am not being forceful with myself. I am allowing the work to come as it comes and be what it is. Connection will happen in its own time.

I am proud that I am facing the hardest parts of my truth and wanting to show love and have compassion for myself in those places.

 

When I was in darkness and scarcity about Love I felt like a panicked animal backed into a corner. That is also how I acted. My laundry list of dark truths about who I was and how I was during that time of my life can be true AND I Love that girl. In all of her chaos, in all of her mess, with all of her imperfections, I have so much Love for her.

You are okay girl, you are doing okay. AND – I am here to hold you when you are ready.

Farewell Tour Part 1

Friends,

A few weeks ago my therapist and I were talking about the healing work I am doing around my relationship with food.

Since Little Bubby has started eating solid food my husband and I have been mindful about what we expose him to. In short, his menu includes fruits, veggies, lean protein, pasta, wheat bread, and healthy fats from nut butter and skim milk cheese etc. We are steering clear of processed foods.

My family keeps asking, when are you going to introduce bacon, or breakfast sausage, or cheddar cheese, or biscuits, or juice.. My sweet grandmother keeps trying to give him goldfish and those cheese crackers stuffed with peanut butter that we ate as kids.

Our answer to all of this is the same every time, nothing processed.

At first we didn’t think much about all of the questions and suggestions about his diet because he was just being introduced to solid foods so we were clear that it would be what we consider whole clean foods only. Now that he is in the swing of eating solids the questions come more often. It is like everyone is waiting to stuff him full of fat, sodium, and sugar.

We know we do not want to go down that road. We Love him, we plan to feed him like we Love him.

Here is the thing, we are not modeling this Love for him in the way we eat. The idea of healthy anything (eating, exercise, etc) exists on a spectrum, we fall a little left of the middle. That is to say, we eat our spinach, but we eat our M&Ms too.

We agree that like all things we want to be balanced in the way we approach our family’s relationship with food. We are not going to deprive him from experiencing ice cream, AND we are not going to be an ice cream every week family.

What my husband and I understand is that it is not going to be Little Bubby who meets us where we are with food, it will be my husband and I who meet him over where he is. We will show ourselves Love through our relationship with food.

We are giving ourselves the rest of the year to transition into our new diet. This is a major shift for us and we want to be successful so we are allowing ourselves time to adjust.

So far that looks like swapping cereal for plain oatmeal decorated with nuts, seeds, and a bit of fruit; and swapping out jarred pasta sauce for homemade using fresh veggies only.

We will find our place between pizza and kale where our family feels balance and connection with food and the way we Love ourselves inside of that relationship.

There is more to this story than how Little Bubby inspired this change. More on that next week.

With my hand on my heart,

Jillian
Adding to Nine