Saturday, May 12, 2018

Birth story

There's a common practice in the birthing world I'm in to write down and share your birth story, no matter what happened. In fact, it's often healing for others to read if your birth story didn't go as planned.

It's about speaking the truth of it for yourself, to a witnessing and loving group.
It's about hearing out loud if there was something that didn't feel right or empowering.
It's about being present to a deep process that may have (usually does) impact on your life and your child's life ever after.
For each birthing person, it's about what it needs to be about to story the process of birth.

I tell my birth story as often as I can. I have not written it down. But the telling of it, hearing my words and weaving the tale, gives it eternal life. If I wrote it down, then the story might stay stuck in the past...but as my child grows, it's important that I keep reaching back and looking at how his beginning (including his life in utero) unfolds into the present.

I had a dream while pregnant that K came out using big, long, complicated words, like a PhD at a Mensa meeting. I woke up laughing because it was just like me to have a dream like that.
While K didn't come out talking, he *did* quickly learn to talk and then mastered complex sentences well before the average milestone. That dream was prophetic in a way. The dream isn't part of the birth story, but it's part of K's beginnings. It highlights that our communication was non-verbal from the beginning.

And what I share about the actual birth is that it wasn't an event, it was just another part of our conversation together. We've been communicating for a long time, well before K's arrival into the world. And the storying of his life is co-created.

It's common to say that a type of birth produces a type of person...but what if a type of person creates a type of birth? What if K needed a c-section for *his* story? What if part of my story was letting go of *my* idea of what birth *should* be and allowing what actually is to have a place in the world?
Instead of saying I failed (by not birthing at home, as was my original intent), I could hold space for mystery and reality and start my child's life in acceptance, rather than with an underlying failure or defeat. I wasn't defeated. I didn't fail. I listened. And that listening transformed me in the moment. It allowed me to push myself AND it allowed me to make peace with not my way. And that is a foundation that I want for my son.
I want to create the possibility that I can be in acceptance of not my way.

When he comes to me with something that isn't my way of doing things (as he has many times already!), I can go back to that moment (actually, the pregnancy wasn't my way, either!) and remind myself that not my way didn't kill me. It came close, but it didn't actually. And him doing his thing won't kill me (or him) either.

Stories are powerful and eternal. In them we define ourselves. We create ourselves. We connect to others, we connect to the Divine. It helps us continue to come alive.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Why do I let go?

When I thought of this blog title years ago, it seemed perfectly appropriate, as I was learning about the release of a bunch of things. It's been a great theme at every point in my development as a parent. It applies to physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional concepts.

Recently, on a long drive home from work, I realized that part of my letting go is aimed at making room. I can't keep it ALL. I have to let things go if I am to participate in the flow of life. Simple enough.
But looking back at my patchwork life, I noticed an umbrella theme that has woven into almost everything I've done or wanted to do since I was little:

Engaged connection.

What has kept me interested, creative, willing, in relationships, at jobs, obsessed, and more, is the desire to connect. I'm an ambivert (intro- and -extro). I love reading and writing. I love sharing, stories, laughter, knowing glances. All of that is really fuel for my life.

And I let go, so that I can remain in the flow of all of that. Letting go allows me to share (and release it into the world). Letting go allows me to reflect on it and then move it to the background of my life. Letting go allows for movement, expansion, and flexible re-defining as needed.

I don't want to consume connection, and I want to integrate it. When I allow my empathetic tendencies to reach out, hold someone momentarily, and then let go, I am only letting go of the moment, *not* the way if affects me. That then becomes a part of me and the container (of me) increases so that the next person I encounter with a similar experience can then connect, through me, to someone else with a similar experience. I am a bridge, a channel, a conduit.

I let go to play, participate, reflect, and connect. Why do you let go?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

C'mon Mama, let's go!

I have been bursting with this post for several days and now I need to sit down and let it all out.
I want to write some disclaimers, and excuse my behavior, and allow you to set me/the post aside and call me crazy...that's my normal move. If I get too intense, I want to allow you to walk away and assure you I won't be hurt.

But in this post, I am going to say my piece. I am tired of sitting back, in my motherhood, in my parenthood, and just quietly, to a few people sharing my ideas about what's propagating in the society about motherhood and parenthood.

Most recently, I read an article that got me pretty hot. I have been a working mom for most of my child's life. He's been in school since he was 19 months. He goes all day.
I work from 6:30a until about 4:30p. My husband also works full time. He works on weekends, too. We share chores, we have busy lives (we have several spiritual groups, civic groups, family groups, and friend groups, not to mention family swim time, soccer, school parent groups, and our own home chores and a business we run out of our home), and we take time to enjoy our marriage.

My parenting doesn't take precedence OVER the rest of my life. It's a part of my life. I think I am a great parent. I enjoy it, I like the challenges, I like the triumphs, I love the growth. My child, as lovely as he is, is not the only thing I wake up for each day. He is not the axis upon which my world spins.

Call me whatever you like, but I am tired of slinking away when I hear sacrificing moms talk about how their kids are paramount. My kid isn't paramount. I don't share like this usually because, well, because I get silently judged (yes, I can see and hear you...) and questioned and I simply have to be honest about it. My kid is awesome. But if he took precedence over me for any substantial length of time, I would fall apart. I have been conscious of the balance of what I get and what he gets. I'm not telling him he doesn't get to have the world...I'm just saying, I'm not the only one he needs to ask.

Monday, February 19, 2018

For my family...

I'm letting go of my current job. This would normally make a family nervous, if there wasn't a new job on the horizon. Heck, I did this several years ago and it made *my* family nervous (rightly so!).

I am leaving my job because I am finally realizing that it has made me sad and depressed, out of alignment, and creatively frustrated, which has affected my family.
For too long I had allowed myself to think that I couldn't do something else with my skills and that my iterations were unwelcome (well, they were, at the organization I was at).

But I need to take the leap of faith that there's a lot more out in the world for me. I was starting to feel like a bad parent because I wasn't a good example for my creative, bright, unique son. I was starting to do that thing where I'd live/work/exist one way, but tell him to do something different (and hope that he didn't look at my life as an example).

That's silly! I need to live a co-created life, if I want to amplify living a co-creative life. So here I go...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Letting go of a bigger family

I was going to title this "Letting go of #2," since that's what I've been calling my future unborn child. But somehow the title was a little too silly...:S
I don't mind being funny with an entendre, but this post has some seriousness.

We're not going to have a second child.

When I write it, it feels like I laid down this huge elephant I was dragging from room to room, moment to moment. We decided a few weeks ago but I wouldn't even hold tight to the decision, lest someone burst in on my perfect day and tell me that I'm making a huge mistake. We don't have that moment in parenting, do we? I don't approve of it (standing up and saying "Stop! Don't get married!") at weddings, so it makes sense that we don't do it that much anymore, but of course no one would EVER say it about having a kid. None of our business.

It's up to me and my husband to decide that. For five years I have been going back and forth. I told myself during my pregnancy with K that I couldn't do it again. Statistically, it could be worse for the second kid. Not only that, but then it could be just as hard afterward. And even if the kid was a perfect angel (not that I want that, of course), the money would be tight again...and not just tight, I'm being might be harrowing again.

I have been keeping a swelling depression at bay because I can (many can't, I know) and because I actually know what is depressing me...I don't have fulfilling work. I don't feel good in my body. I am overwhelmed with obligations and stuff and a resume of half-finished ideas. The thought of raising another child didn't feel uplifting. It felt oppressive.

We have our hands full. They have never not been full. Even without a child. Another child would increase my stress, my family's stress, and I honestly couldn't come up with a good enough reason to have another kid. Many folks have offered their reasons...but they don't work for *me*. Everyone else might need or want them, which is fine. But I find myself in the other camp.

When we announce that we are pregnant, it is a glorious thing (hopefully). We call people, we create cute announcements, we surprise grandparents, etc. And with our decision not to have another kid, I found myself wanting to make the same type of announcement. I called my family and told them one at a time. When people ask me what's new, I blurt out that we're excitedly not having another kid. When I see folks with only children (<--only children is a weird way to say a family has one child...) singletons, I want to chat about it.

My life is multi-faceted (as I'm sure everyone's is...) and instead of unconsciously ignoring the facets, I actually thought about each one: Can we truly afford this? Am I fulfilled in my purpose work? Is being a mom more important than ______? Do I have enough time for my marriage (which is awesome)? Do I  have enough time for the child I already have? Do I have enough time for my close friends? Do I travel as much as I want to? Is this environmentally aligned with my values? Do I feel healthy enough for another child (heck, am I healthy enough for this one?)? Do I have enough energy? Do I feel spiritually called to have another child? The answer was no, for each question.

Then I asked myself: Am I able to enjoy my life right now? Does this child make my heart sing? Is he enough for me? And I answered yes to these. And in the end, I can't live in regret but I can choose to make conscious decisions...and this was that. A conscious choice to see this child and this life with this child as enough (and more accurately, it's plenty!). I don't say he's perfect (perfectionism and that language doesn't work for me) because he's just him. I don't need perfect. But I do need choice. Same way with friendships and marriage. I won't regret if I make a choice.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"How are you?"

I just ran into a friend outside a store, earlier today. She asked me, "How are you? What's new?"

This is a standard greeting. I think the typical response is supposed to be, "I'm doing well. Not much is new. What about you?"

You have probably gathered by now that I rarely offer a standard reply. But why is that?

I was asked this once when I was living in the Findhorn Community. The person asking was physically on her bicycle moving in the opposite direction. I was feeling especially sad/lonely/isolated/homesick. I asked, "Do you really want to know?" because I didn't feel like lying, if I didn't have to. She said, "Yes, I do." She hopped off her bike, so I shared. It was probably a 30-45 minute chat. But I *needed* it. I didn't know how much, until I heard myself talking and sharing. I was thankful she asked and was honestly interested.

I try to assess when "fine" is the desired response (in case someone doesn't have time for me to share deeply), but I also like to take the time to respond sincerely and intimately. How else am I going to connect? To reduce isolation? To know what's honestly going on with myself AND them?

So my friend today asked me what's new and rather than hurry off to my next thing (which was nothing, honestly), I shared intimately. This is not someone I see regularly, but even though I tend to feel self-conscious about sharing after the fact ("Did I share too much? Was that appropriate? Does she even care? Was she offended?"), I more often than not feel some relief about sharing more personally. It's not that she needs to care or be affected in a deep way, either. It's just that I have a choice in how isolated I let myself become. When I don't share, I isolate. It's not about me and taking up space, it's about reaching out and connecting. When people commit suicide or die from an addiction, I think about how many times and instances of isolation it took for that to decision to take hold. And I don't want it to take hold with me.

I also want to be a safe space for others, should they choose to get out of their isolation. When I ask, "How are you?" I truly mean it. Or I'll say, "I can't talk now, but I want to know, so let's make a plan to get together."

I shared my personal thing, then my friend shared her personal thing and what could have been a literal passing each other on the street, turned into connection, a solid moment when we were both able to hang out in the Seattle drizzle and be real in person.

I can't have 4-5 hour convos like I used to. It's just not realistic. And I can't have everyone over for dinner, or write everyone a long letter of intimate thoughts and feelings. I have tried, but it's too hard with my current life. But I can still connect, reach out, be available, and make conscious choices about isolating or not. I can put my value of connection at the top of my priority list.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day

It's Earth Day today and a sort of birthday for me.
When I was 11 years old (28 years ago!), I went with my Jewish community to plant trees on Martin Luther King Way, in Seattle. It was a "basic tree planting" community gig. I'm not sure I thought much about it...but I never forgot it.

Here was a group of people, lining the street, planting trees in front of homes, adding to the beauty of the city. But it was more. The people in the homes were not the tree planters and they came out to say thank you. The tree planters were all ages, all abilities, and all willing participants. I witnessed that warm feeling when people come together for a common thing. We weren't "saving the earth." We were *just* planting trees, it seemed. It was such a SMALL gesture, I see now.

But it made an ENORMOUS impact on me. That summer I figured out a way to organize an environmental day camp for younger kids. I called places to see if they'd take us on tours of green spaces, we made cool tshirts, birdhouses, learned about recycling, etc.

Then I joined an adult, Jewish, environmental group. I was 11, bringing the average age down only a little. I learned about stuff that was over my head in many ways but the adults were happy to listen to an 11 year old ask questions and inquire about why things are geared only to are interested too!

Ever after that, I have been staunch environmentalist. I practice it in different ways, that usually correlate with my ability and willingness at the time. We were car-free for several years, then owned an electric car for a short time. We now drive two cars because of our jobs, but we still carpool and use public transportation as much as we can.

Clothing-wise, I used to buy all sorts of clothes, from sweatshop-using brands (before I knew better) and now my clothes are primarily used because that's easy for me to do and I feel way better. K only gets new clothes if it's a necessity or they are bought for him.

Food-wise, we used to eat primarily raw vegan until I needed to increase my good cholesterol. Now, the pendulum swings away from raw because our lives changed. We grow what we can in the backyard. We can go back to a stricter eating lifestyle any time.

Child-wise, we can be wasteful. Lots of things are designed disposably. And yes, for some (me) cloth diapering is challenging for reasons other than convenience. We do try to scale back on the consumption, when it works for us. Believe me, I tried to be dogmatic about it and it was agonizing.

We still consume and we still use (and sadly, waste) resources, but we're partnering with The Community General Store, in West Seattle, to share bigger purchases with others because we don't use all that we have right now. And we don't need to buy things new. We don't need new toys, or new books. We'd rather share the space and be with people.

It's silly to think we can dogmatically be one way forever. Even No Impact Man couldn't stay No Impact forever...but that's not the point. The point was to examine conscious choice and decide intentionally what was needed vs. wanted.

I share all of this because it's not about being one way forever. But we can examine the choices we have made and then re-examine them again later, to see if we still want to be doing that. We have a big home now, but we're looking to design a smaller, most sustainable home in the future.

On Earth Day, I don't just celebrate the Earth, I celebrate the beginning of my conscious relationship with the Earth. I don't just practice environmentalism because I'm told the world is falling apart. I am actively partnering with the Earth. I can't live in Seattle like I did in the Findhorn Community. That takes a level of commitment that would likely be easier in a different location and within a different culture (I have tried, it is HARD to live like I did there, without living in an intentional community). But I know I will go back there often, and for longer stints to do it more.

The Earth might benefit more from us partnering with it, rather than trying to save it. It's powerful, it will eject us when it needs to. But we can partner. We can listen. We can act, even in small ways. It does make an impact.


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