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.

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.

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

Self-Care 2.0

The energy of scarcity and exhaustion have lifted considerably over here. A big part of that was me making changes to how I was practicing self-care, it was time to step up my game.

I did this by reconnecting to practices from before little bubby arrived that served me well as well as finding new avenues to practice loving and caring for myself well.

Here is what self-care looked like before my adjustments were made;

  • Getting outside at least twice a week at sunset to be in the quiet of it and bear witness.
  • Spending at least a few hours a week in nature.
  • Chocolate.
  • Hot shower.
  • TV/Movies I enjoy.
  • One sleep in day per week (up by 9).
  • Swapping roles with my husband on the weekend.
  • Clean sheets once a week that have been washed in lavender.
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Art

There is more but these are areas where I was being mindful and it was a practice.

Here are some oldies but goodies that I have brought back;

  • Hot tea
  • Hot bath with bath bomb
  • Sleep in and take morning off. – We already had a sleep in day for both of us built into our weekly routine, we decided to go all in on sleep in day right now while little bubby is having a season of struggle that way we both get a day of true rest. Now sleep in day includes not having to be on overnight duty with little bubby the night before and sleeping in/resting in a quiet bedroom until 11 the next day. This means a full night of uninterrupted sleep and the next morning off. IT IS WONDERFUL. Sleep and rest in general make a huge difference in my personal ability to hold space for myself and those I love.
  • Swapping roles with hubs – this is another one we were already doing but since my husband has been playing table tennis twice a week as part of his self-care, the swap has not benefited both of us in the same way. Now we are both getting opportunity to take turns doing bath, storytime, cook dinner for one another. Some of these things we do together but there are a few dedicated nights where one person gets the night off of something etc.
  • Time in nature – another one that was already part of my routine that I have enhanced. Pre-little bubby I would take my meditation practice outside. Post little bubby I have not made room for my meditative practice and most of my time in nature includes little bubby. While I love him being with me and connecting with the Mother, getting back out there alone was a must. That evening sunset thing I do now includes being in nature alone and meditating – a half of that a few times a week goes a long way towards wholeness for me.

These are the new things I am trying;

  • Asking for help.  – Hello, my name is island. That was my old name tag that I have decided it is well past time to retire. I need help and I am asking for it. I am allowing myself to be supported and where as before that never felt safe, now I know I am safe because I AM SAFE. Shame and fear do not stand in the way of my Love and connection any longer.
  • Seeking out connection outside. – Getting out and being seen are new for me. Joining the crochet group I discussed in a previous post and being open in general to the idea of outside belonging as a way to feel connection and care are ways I am playing with experiencing self-Love.

That’s all I got for now, I have a husband in bed next to me that wants to cuddle. Updates on my progress coming soon.

No Wrong Way

I have a confession.

Sometimes I have a little trouble giving myself room to be in my truth of struggle when it comes to mothering. The parts of me that experience privilege, and feel deeply connected to my son, and Love my life, and see all the good – those parts have no room for my truth of struggle.

A few weekends ago we spent sometime with a family we are friends with. They have a little boy too, he is one year older than little bubby. While the Daddies were playing outside with the boys me and the other momma sat at the kitchen table and exchanged truths.

Her truth of struggle looks different than mine. She works full-time and does not want to, she wants to be home raising her baby. She said she has “attachment issues” with her son because it too them two years to conceive and now all she wants to do is be with him. She shared with me the pain she experiences when she drops him off at daycare in the morning and how since becoming a mother she feels “off her game” at work, like her mind is fuzzier than it used to be.

I held space for her truth and felt the ache of her momma heart breaking. When it was my turn to share I felt the space being held for truth shrink. It felt as if there was not room for my truth of struggle. She reminded of my good fortune – I became pregnant our first try, I get to stay home and be with my son. This is all true of course AND I have many truths of struggle.

I could tell this momma, inside of her own truth of struggle, could not hold space for me and mine. I felt her self-judgment, her not-good-enoughs were littered around us like emotional landmines. Better to hold my truths sacred rather than set off bombs.

I was grateful this momma showed up the way she did with me that day. It was a much needed reminder that while support is essential, at the end of the day I am the one that has to be able to hold my truth of struggle. I am the one who has allow space for it. All the blessings of my life can be true AND I am allowed to have truth of struggle.

Here is the other reminder she reflected to me; there is no wrong way to mother. All of us are enough AND we all have truth around struggle. In the space of motherhood there is enough room for all of to be here, there is belonging for all.

She is no less a mother because she works, just as I am no more  a mother because I am home with little bubby. Her struggle is no more or less than my own, it just is. It is struggle, whatever our truth might look like, we are allowed space to be in it.

So I close this by saying I see you Momma, whoever you are, out there being enough AND being in your struggle. Thank you for seeing me in mine.

A Distant Echo

In the early months of little bubby’s life I was feeling deep longing for connection with other mother’s. I was in a new relationship not only with him but with myself in the role of mother. The whole experience had upended my life in many ways and I was feeling very alone.

I did not find the friend I was looking for. I know now there are reasons for that.

  1. I was not really wanting a friend, I was wanting to be saved. Only I can do that.
  2. I wanted to experience belonging. That is always an inside job first.

Support is welcome and necessary in a big life transition like this but I was not seeking support.

I was scared and I wanted someone to hold me and rescue me from it. I was playing small because I was not willing to look in the mirror and claim the power of my truth – I am the belonging I am seeking, I am the HERo of this story.

Don’t worry friends, I got there. I figured this things out and picked myself up in a BIG way.

Now I marvel at the growth not only I have experienced, but my whole family. We are in a season of growth over here and I am living for it!

Once I stopped playing small, the companionship came. I have three mommy friends who I feel deep connection with, the kind of connection that can only come through feeling truly seen.

The acceptance goes beyond knowing I am enough in these relationships, it is knowing that three is enough. I do not have to have a large social circle, I do not need to have a play date scheduled for every day of the week. My needs are met through having three women, who I can show up with and who will show up with me in return.

 

I was with one of my friends this week and she reflected something to me that has been echoing around inside of me all week. She is a social worker as well and she asked me, what will returning to work look like for you?

We discussed this for a while, my truth is; I do not know yet AND I do know I will be playing by my own rules.

What she reflected to me in the course of the conversation is an idea of my work taking place somewhere in spirituality.

I feel like when the words fell from her mouth a gong was struck inside of me and I have been feeling the vibrations ever since.

Of course I have no idea what spiritual work would look like, just like I have no idea where my writing or art will take me. All I know is that this is who I am, this is the Light I bring, and as Glennon Doyle says, I will just do the next right thing until I get where ever it is I am going.

 

The Last Touch

Following my throat’s collision with little bubby’s foot, my therapist helped me see that while I have done some work around the emotional wounds caused by my brother’s abuse, it is time now to focus on healing my body.

We start with ground zero, my throat.

I understand now that if I walk around for the rest of my life saying to myself, my throat is off limits, then it will be as if his hands are around my throat forever – it will be the last experience my throat ever has.

OR

I can lean into the truth of this pain, as I have started to do, heal my hurts, and allow LOVE in.

Here is what I am clear about;

  1. I have spent enough of my life running from Love, now I only want to run towards it.
  2. No part of my body is off limits to me.

 

A few weeks after my PTSD episode I was laying in bed with my husband at bedtime. I talked to him about the need to allow myself to be Loved in this place of hurt and we discussed what that might look like. Then I asked him if I could practice this Love with him.

First we set boundaries. Safe Love for me always has boundaries.

  1. This is serious, no sillies. Our inner children are best friends, I did not want his inner child popping up and getting goofy while we practice something sacred.
  2. We discuss how you will touch me and that is the only touch that will take place.

 

I asked him what him Loving my throat would look like; he said, a kiss.

He asked me to lay on my back and then he leaned over me and gently kissed the middle of my throat.

Even a light embrace such as this felt like consider pressure to this part of my body, AND, it was beautiful.

He rolled over to his side of the bed and laid on his back, I rolled into him and buried myself in his neck.

From my hiding place in his neck I felt safe, enveloped, no light peeking in.

I thought – here I am again, crying in the dark.

This time was different though, this time I was not alone.