Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Beth Anne, you are not Jesus."

I don't think I have written a post, a story from my childhood. This oldie but goodie has been, in front of my mind's eye for a long time to share. I am in the process of overhauling this blog but I can't wait any longer to write and share these stories. I am really excited for the new name and look and feel of the blog...in the meantime, I will share pieces of where I came from - experiences that shaped the woman I am now.

Now that we are raising kids and hearing the word, "bully" almost daily, from our kids and the media - I can no longer remain quiet about bullying. I don't disagree that bullying is something our kids are confronted with. Cyber bullying is a real problem. I believe there are ways to not give cyberspace so much power. Are we monitoring what our kids are participating in online? Are we requiring our kids to be the representative branch of our family unit? Are we doing activities and spending time with our kids while unplugged? Are we forcing our kids to use their imagination and create play time apart from the internet and electronics. I haven't perfected this concept. Some nights, I lose the battle, out of sheer exhaustion and lack of energy to "deal" with it. Though, it is easier now that the weather is nice. I send them outside. Then the neighbors get to witness the grumbling, eye-rolling, limbs flailing, misdirected frustration towards siblings, then mama bear's booming alpha-male voice rolling out of our humble home to remind them they are being ridiculous. It is so weird how that voice works. My overall point is this: are we helping, in fact, empowering our kids? Are we holding them accountable for their words? Their actions?
We have a serious epidemic and bullying is only the product of this epidemic- family units are broken. Kids and their activities have parents running ragged. I can't get into all of that. Another post. Don't tell me, but when was the last time you really had family time? At home? Around the table? Conversing with the family you created? We can rationalize and make any event fit "family time". But you know what I am asking. The other evening, we turned tv off. It was raining outside. We nixed the kindle and iPad and video games. We listened to music and enjoyed watching our kids play on the living room floor with each other and our Tilly. It. Was. Awesome. Truly.

Part of my frustration comes from knowing I was bullied several times in grades 6&7. Now, the word "bully" gets used because socializing is tough sometimes. But true bullying? Well......let me just share my experience.

I was 12 when my parents separated. Looking back now, I wonder if this made me a vulnerable target? What I do know is my mom was the one present when I'd come home crying and defeated. I had always been feisty. I still am. This part of my personality makes my husband giggle. I digress......    After my parents separated, it changed me. I felt vulnerable and unprotected. Plus, we had started going to church regularly and I had learned about Jesus turning the other cheek and as a firstborn, perfectionist child that lived for pleasing adults - I wanted to learn the lesson of what it is to turn the other cheek.
I don't remember the details of what started the bullying. I remember it was about a boy. I was in 7th grade. He was in 9th grade. An 8th grade girl liked him and he liked me. The 8th grade girlfriends started taunting me. I had never met them prior to the bullying. They wrote nasty words on my locker door. The group of them (4-5) would follow close behind me, down the hall and step on the back of my shoes. They'd dead leg me as I stood at my locker. There were only 2 of the girls that were particularly nasty. They started sitting at the table behind my girlfriends and I at lunch. The day these two sat on either side of me, and made my friends make room for them, then pulled my hair, in sharp, short tugs, made fun of the way I ate, called me names -  that was the day I went home crying and told mom what was going on. I wasn't actually "going with" the 9th grade boy. I wasn't allowed to "go with" anyone . I remained quiet and didn't cry (to my remembrance) in front of them. I was turning the other cheek. I hadn't done anything wrong and the more I remained quiet, the worse they got. I went home a mess, the day they started kicking and shoving me as I exited the lunchroom. There would always be a bottleneck, in the hallway where all exited. They were kicking, shoving me from behind and pulling my hair. That night, I cried to mom. She had already placed a call to the school guidance counselor - and my mother was visibly frustrated. I had dealt with this crap for over a week.
Finally, my mom looked at me and asked, "Beth, why are you letting them do this? You rough house with your father. You know how to get them to back off." I started bawling and said, "because Jesus would turn the other cheek!" My mom has a look when she means business and of all mother's looks, hers is the best. While I was staring back at her with my big eyes, tears flowing....my mother lowered her head, set her jaw, grabbed my chin and with her big eyes looked into my soul and said, "Beth Anne? You are not Jesus."

*blink* *blink*

Mom continued to say she would back me to defend myself against these girls since the school had done nothing - to not fear the consequences but she expected me to stand up for myself the way she knew I was capable of doing. Since it would be two against one, I also remember her saying, "But once you start, don't you stop." Boy oh boy.....it was like my whole thought process turned upside down and it felt good to know that I had my mom's support and that if there was any more crap, I would put an end to it. I knew I could do it. I was scared shitless, but I knew I could do it.

The next day at school, it all started again at lunchtime. They wouldn't allow me to talk to my girlfriends. They were making remarks about how they couldn't wait til lunch was over so they could knock me down in the hallway. I knew Mt. Saint Hoffman was ready to blow. I was intentional to wait til we were in the hallway because I'd have better leverage standing than sitting. We got about 4 steps out of the lunchroom when one of them shoved me from behind, almost did knock me down. But I bent over, gathered my power in my legs, and turned into Taz from Looney Tunes. I spun around and decided I would wail the one right behind me though I didn't know which one it was. Turned out it was the short chick with the huge jugs for an 8th grader. With all my force I knocked her backwards by hitting her square in the chest with the length of the top of my forearm. Then.....I don't remember much except the other one dove at me and I did whatever I did. The only thing I remember was they were both crying and my little league baseball buddies, pulled me off the one, on the floor, while the circle of students was huge and not very loud considering the amount of students present. I remember more of an awed hush. My buddies boo'ed the 2 girls down the hall and I was a trembling mess.

Then the tears came and the fear came because of my actions and because the girls ran away from me really upset too. My friends gathered around and we got collected to head to Mr. Yarger's health class. I couldn't stop shaking and all the blood was rushed to my head. Mr. Yarger stood, in front of his desk, his arms crossed his chest and he began talking about whatever chapter we were covering. Let me say, in case I have not at this point, I was a teacher's pet a few times in my life, a great student, the good manners, sweet, respectful. I knew I was not going to be able to sit there any longer.
I slowly raised my hand while Mr. Yarger was talking. "Yes, Miss Hoffman?"
My voice cracked, "Mr. Yarger, may I be excused to go to Mr. Hopkins office?"
 "Now Miss Hoffman? Why?"
"Well sir, I just got into a fight after lunch with two eighth graders and I need to go see the guidance counselor."
"YOU? Miss Hoffman? YOU were in a fight??"
Then one of my baseball buddies burst out, "YES! And she beat the crap out of them!" The class started cheering and laughing and they were still in shock, as I was.
"Yes, Miss Hoffman. You may go see Mr. Hopkins."
The class cheered as I got up from my desk and exited the classroom. I got into the hall and my knees almost buckled. I'll never forget the feeling......I feel it as I write.

Needless to say, Mr. Hopkins was not pleased with me. I was the first one in his office. He hadn't caught word of this fight yet. I was reporting it, which also shocked him. He summoned the other 2 girls - gave us a talking to. Then he called my mother because there would be consequences. My mother sat across from him with the same look she gave me when she affirmed I was not Jesus. ;) It was a short meeting and I had no consequences because my mother reminded him that she had made him aware of the girls bullying me. He said something about how I should have come to him. She said, "I told her to stand up for herself since you were doing nothing." He asked, "You gave her permission to fight?!?!" My mother, with her look, said, "Yes. It was that, or call a magistrate." Meeting over. And I went and looked up the word, "magistrate". hahahahahahaha!

By the end of that school year, one of the girls had sought me out [the non-jugs one] and apologized for what happened. We were never friends but it was nice to know I could make eye contact with them again and not worry.

I was bullied two other times, in my life. Once was the neighbor boy chasing me off the bus to kiss me and I busted his braces. I was a 6th grader, he was an 8th grader. I had another occasion, in high school, where I wrote a satire piece and volunteered to read it out loud, in the class, because all who it was intended for were sitting, in that class. That's my favorite way I combated bullying.

Brains and brawn are a good combination. ;)

Besides, reliving a good story, from my life - I think of these challenges often, as a parent. It's a different world we live in. The question remains: Are we empowering our kids to take care of themselves? Are we building their confidence when they aren't capable of weighing out the options? Tragedy is tragic. So is creating little humans that don't know their worth and how they learn victimhood over self-empowerment.


xoxoxo~ Beth 

What would I tell my 18 year old self?

It's graduation time. The time when so much buzz about having our houses spic and span for the onslaught of visitors and the hub-bub about keeping up with the Jones'.... right?

Oh...my bad....it is about the rite of passage, going from a "kid" to adult as our graduates exit high school and go to college AND again as they go from college to "the real world".

I sound cynical. I get annoyed at the fluff and nonsense we pump our graduates with. They are intelligent. Keep it real. Want to inspire them?  Speak with them, not at them, about the challenges ahead, which are completely surmountable and if they turn out to be insurmountable? Well...that's why there is yoga, exercise, journaling, traveling, and the good ole nose to the grind theory. Here's a sample of what my near 40 year old self would tell the 18 year old me.

1) Breathe - it's not overrated.
2) You are flawed - embrace it.
3) You are not on the earth to please and impress!
4) Your mama still knows you best!
5) At 18? Self love is the most life changing.
6) If it doesn't add value, don't do it. If you do it -  don't be blaming.
7) Your mama is right.
8) No one made you do anything!
9) Making decisions to please family members and then blaming family members for having made the wrong  decision is irresponsible, cruel and child's play.
10) Error much? Own it.
11) Rejoice much? Re-live it.
12) Life is unfair when it comes to cancer or death  of loved ones. Otherwise? Life is life. STD's, sucky grades and DUI fines are results of poor decisions. Period. End of sentence.
13) God is real. Don't worship yourself, don't direct your  worship as if to a far- off land. Worship your Source, your Creator, living in you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blasting Light - Exposure!


To a point, the phrase, "Healing takes time" is true.
Without awareness of what one needs to do to heal, time will be an enemy.

I wish to lay my soul bare before anyone whom will read this. I do so with trepidation. However, I have heard it said, "Vulnerability is the greatest measure of courage." To write this AND post this will be a defining moment towards my healing.

I was diagnosed in December with severe depression and anxiety disorder.

A process of losing me began to stew over 2 years ago when I was in my zone, my niche, my flow and we moved. Allow me to preface, I blame no one. I was shook and it has taken me a while to stabilize. We moved from a place where I finally wasn't known primarily, as a stay-at-home-mom and/or the city manager's wife. The details aren't important for the sake of healing. I am not at a place where I can bullet point all of the emotions....the underlying thought: When do I matter and to Whom? The past is the past, while one needs to identify the tripping events.....I can't change it and I know now, I wouldn't change it. I put on my "face". I dug in, in our new community, and put myself out there to start sharing my love of my business - Young Living while trying to keep connected to my people I left behind in the previous community. I was determined I would "fake it til I made it."

Two months later, we learned I was pregnant. If you have read any of my blog at all, you know, this was not joyous news no matter how others put on their dancing shoes and gave no thought to what I was going to have to deal with prior to a baby truly getting here. I felt like I couldn't be honest with those that I had been close to because I was met with, "Be positive. Have the right attitude!" There would be another baby! That is the important thing, right? [Disclaimer: The past 2 lines are dripping with sarcasm. My face would give that away, if we were conversing face-to-face. I am still a work in progress of realigning with reality of relationships after the past 2 years. I can't change how it made me feel. Also, I swear. Yes, I have a potty-mouth occasionally. I won't apologize or be shamed for it. ] My parents? They were scared shitless, initially. Why? Because I was at great risk. My Mom was my biggest support through the coming months. Me? I cried for weeks after learning the news. Fear shrouded everything. Guess what? Only Steve saw me cry almost every night. I pushed myself until I literally couldn't. I didn't unpack our home. I didn't scrub floors, I didn't do laundry. Our home looked like we needed an intervention for an episode of Hoarders. It was so awful because I do not know how to function in that. And I didn't know who to ask for help and I was ashamed of anyone seeing the condition of it ......because this was not the first impression I wanted to expose in our new community! My mind ran rampant with people talking about how the city manager's stay-at-home wife doesn't do anything all day. "That poor man!" The reality is I have been burned by that gossip factor, in the past [not on my housekeeping] but other things. There's a great possibility NO ONE would have said or spread anything. However, since I didn't know where I was safe and I was in survival mode....I just kind of rolled-over. I didn't love myself enough to be vulnerable and ask for help. I was in physical pain most of the time. We went to have the "big" ultrasound in Iowa City at 20 weeks. I had reservations about delivering in Waverly. Iowa City examined me and consulted that they would be happy to have me doctor in Iowa City but all looked great! So it was our decision. Well, we knew we didn't want to drive 2.5 hours every month in the Winter for regular appointments. PLUS - it was a girl! I was able to breathe. And I did.

4 weeks later, my water broke. [Please read the post "A Warrior Princess is Born" for the story of the beginning of that adventure.]

The experience of Katie's pregnancy, her birth, the separation from my family, grieving how nothing went ideal through 3 pregnancies, anger towards myself for not being able to have a "normal" pregnancy, coming home as an alien and being thrust into "regular" life......I wasn't being honest with myself. I was shutting down. The insecurity was magnified to a point where I started resigning that maybe I didn't have a place here. Maybe I was just the donor of babies to the world. I have seen myself as a vessel all my life. One day I wrote, "You are bigger than the life you are cramming yourself into." The issue with that statement is that I wasn't taking ownership of who was doing the cramming.

The week of Christmas 2015 - It got bad. The thoughts of harming myself......I had kept all the pain killers the hospital sent me home with, 10 months before. I remember when I left Ronald McDonald House the thought was "throw them away - you didn't use them in the midst of that pain...." and I packed them with the story, "I may need an out. I am weary. Some have made it clear to me, I am not needed as a mother or a wife. What if they don't need me? If it's as simple as that - I will want out." I still had a month before Katie was discharged. I wouldn't know if it was as I feared, until I got home.
The week of Christmas 2015 - I found a counselor and started anti-depressants. The shame. I am no longer ashamed - so please don't send messages that I needn't be ashamed.  Also, I don't want pity or sympathy. I share because I know I am not alone. I know there are others that are imprisoned by their fear of dying and/or living and worst of all- dying with a heartbeat. I had nearly completely disconnected. I called the OB who sent me to Iowa City the night my water broke. She was the only doctor I trusted in a close proximity to where we had moved prior to getting pregnant with Katie. She was part of my story. She saved my life and my daughter's life. On the phone, I trembled and told her, "My thoughts are not ok." "Do you want to harm yourself?" she asked. "Yes, but I can't. The baggage it will leave my kids with......" and I sobbed. She said something I will never forget, "Good. If you only knew how often children save their mother's lives." Then she told me the regular professional and clinical stuff and we set up a time for me to see her, and it was prompt. Then I was connected with a family medicine doctor to oversee the administering of an anti-depressant.

I was having anxiety attacks and had no idea that's what they were. I couldn't breathe. There was tightness across my chest. My body or parts of my body would go completely numb. I realized I have lived with anxiety all my life. Just always told myself, "You are neurotic and weird." A tip: if you view yourself in any light other than amazing and fabulous? Don't share that with those that don't love you. They will pounce and agree. Experience talking - when you have a low self-confidence, those who don't love you see you as prey and will jump at the opportunity to reinforce the negative self-talk. I don't know why. I still struggle with anxiety. When I feel it coming on, I try to do something fun or do a mindfulness exercise. There are many triggers: hearing from certain people, loud noises, the dog barking unexpectedly, the boys fighting, when Katie is in kitchen because we don't have the capability of putting a baby gate at the back steps going down from the kitchen, something on the calendar, leaving the house, large groups of people........I will keep working at it. I fear being perceived as lazy for as often as I have to sit and do breathing exercises through out the day. Oh....I struggle going out to community events.

No one else is responsible for my healing, but me. Sharing my story is part of my healing. When I expose shame and fear, darkness loses it's seduction and power. A couple months ago - I was in no place to write this and post it. My last post was called "Sanctuary"......we all need Sanctuary. Sanctuary is not synonymous with Seclusion. No one else is responsible for building my self-esteem but me. And that is what I have been doing.
Choices....choosing life over existence. Choosing to see me as my Creator sees me. Choosing to embrace this moment, and this moment, and this moment and the next and each thereafter. It's a discipline. I also need to start exercising...but I am giving my mind exercise - the good kind. Not running aimlessly.

I got stuck. I was spinning out, in my mind, over hurts, over my purpose, over things in the past, things I couldn't control, things I was and still am angry about. I seek ways to reinforce and pour energy into what is right with me. I have had to get to a point that even if not another single human being sees my value and treats me accordingly - it's ok.. because I will.

I had a distinct turning point, two weeks ago. I was watching my new favorite show Super Soul Sunday on OWN. It wasn't one single moment turned around that pierced through and shed light on my stinkin' thinking. It was 3 episodes of Super Soul Sunday. One with Daniel Goleman about Emotional Intelligence; a second with rock star Brene' Brown about her book Rising Strong (which has inspired me to be transparent about this struggle), and a third with Jon Kabat Zinn about Meditation. In that third episode, Oprah repeated a line from a previous guest she'd had, defining mindfulness as, "If you are cooking and stirring the pot, stir the pot." I heard that and instantly my mind's eye scrolled fast and furiously. I could see how I rarely ever look zdown and stir the pot, for the meal I am cooking without worrying about where are the kids? Anxiety for all I have to do or what I haven't accomplished and how I could be doing something else than stirring that damn pot. Which leads me to another quote by Eckhart Tolle: "Stress is nothing more than wishing the moment you are in was something different." Is that not true???


Therefore, I have communicated with Steve about what I need. I had two Saturdays the past month just Tilly and me, in our home. Recharge time! I meditate a couple times a week. I have to make it a discipline because it is incredible. There is an app called Calm - so great.. I have started coloring in adult coloring books. I have bought tickets for a couple cool things to do over the next month, Steve and I will see Garth Brooks!!!! A new friend and I are taking a painting class. And a life-long friend and I are going to a foodie gig Sunday! Progress also means I have made Katie cry it out at bedtime. That is a whole other post. I basically haven't slept since the 3rd week of September until the past 2 weeks. She is not a special needs baby. For me it was part of the trauma of her birth and for 12 weeks I didn't get to hold her whenever I ached to. Not until the day before she was discharged. While that is true, I was doing her no favor by giving in to her every whim. That night, I took back my nights. She is almost 17 months old, coming up on 25 lbs., wearing 18-24 month clothes, eating and drinking everything she's given.....she is perfect. She always has been. We are now at the place where no one knows she came in the second trimester and weighted 1lb. 11oz. That her daddy's wedding bad could slide on her leg up to her thigh. She is good. Great! Time to take care of me again!

 I have vision for my life. There's a scripture that says, "Without vision, my people perish."  I lost myself gradually over the past 2 years. I have been finding myself the past two weeks! :) I have stopped taking the anti-depressants - I am being transparent. I've had no ill side-effects. I have nothing against anti-depressants. They serve a purpose. They got me to where I could see different options. When the light shines in and solutions are evident and in my control - I'd rather struggle and work it out. Plus, the thoughts were starting to get scary again, the prescription was up and I decided to just stop the drug. After 4 weeks of taking the drug, my energy increased - but no joy. They never really did help with anxiety. Joy returned when I started practicing living IN the moment. I am still seeing the counselor who gave me the green light for "Driving out of survival mode." I also saw a post on Facebook the past week that said, "Struggle is not the same as suffering." That really speaks to me.

I have dreams again. I am also practicing my listening so I can learn more from God. A belief I have which is helping me tremendously is that when I was a twinkle in Heaven, I chose this life. This body, these desires, my parents, these struggles, this path and said to God, "Ya! That life! Sign me up! Put me in the game, Coach!" Ok...so maybe sounds corny but what if Not only God knew what we'd face, in our lives, but at one point our spirit's did too?  Look at Super Man! He comes to earth and all his senses are jacked with and he has to learn how to discipline and train himself and hone his supernatural abilities to still be who he is, while loving and living presently, on Earth because it is a Gift to be on Earth. Huh. I like that.

Thank you for reading this. I know depression and anxiety are real. I also believe they are wake up calls to paying better attention to living authentically. I am grateful for when our bodies and minds indicate something isn't right - because then we have the opportunity to make it right. I haven't felt this great in 2 1/2-3 years. We are more powerful than we think. Being still is my new favorite place to be.

https://youtu.be/6Hi-VMxT6fc

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sanctuary

I was scrolling my Facebook Newsfeed, and saw a post from my friend, Kim to her Young Living Group Team Page. She asked what our word was for 2016. Our focus. Our mission statement. What word would we pursue for 2016 and learn how to encompass OR what word will we allow to encompass our lives for the year 2016.
This felt good. "This is just what I need!" My mind said to itself. A focal point. It was easy, as I rocked my Katie Beth for a nap. Bennett is already in bed. The Yule Log is playing on my tv.
"I crave quiet." I said to myself. Ha! You may say, "Good luck with that girl!"
I realized a solemn truth about myself, which, for some reason - I am going to share. I crave quiet in my mind. I crave quiet in my soul. "Be still and know that I am God." I breathe slower and deeper, just whispering those words. I am tired of the conversations that have no use. I am tired of explaining myself. I am tired of listening to myself speak of dreams and conquests to then keep a standard of mediocrity.
In reflection of 2015 - I think the word or phrase I didn't intentionally choose but my life encompassed was "stay afloat". I did it. I am a champion of treading water.
Now, it is time to enter "Sanctuary" physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have slowly been making steps towards this - not knowing that 4-6 months later my theme for the new year would be to enter a preserve for my mind.
I have had my time to "come down" from the emotions of Katie's birth and hospital stay. [Not to say, I don't still get emotional - it is already far less.]  Now is time for quiet and sanctuary and to get a new plan. Right now, the plan is Sanctuary. Preserve me, listen to my heart, be still and know. I am excited for 2017 now. I imagine, I'll have come through 2016 with a plan and a much more solid knowing of God and myself for my future.
I feel it though, in my bones, 2016 is a year of grounding and sanctuary and zero hoops to jump through.
I already feel this won't be easy. Much resistance when you are doing what is good for you - I have come to experience. Oh well. I am a refugee with my papers stamped and approved for sanctuary.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Brave or Botched?

I figure, I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a lover.
I have breast fed. I have formula fed. I have used my breasts for more than feeding my children and [gasp] enjoyed it!
I have something to say about this normalize breastfeeding campaign that is, in my face every week, on social media.

I get the nature of media to sensationalize stories and to push buttons for the most "hits", the most shares, the most comments. Yesterday, my buttons were pushed. I chose not to enter the arguments in the comments of the stories.

It was a story I saw from two different sources, in my Facebook newsfeed. You may or may not have seen it. It was the photo of a breastfeeding mother, in a restaurant, with her breast exposed by pulling it out over the neck hole of her shirt. Baby covered the nipple. If you read the "story", it was the mother whining because another woman was giving her dirty looks and she was staring the oppressor down, a true act of defiance. Ugh.

From what I could tell, and for as long as I read comments, before turning away because my blood pressure was rising - most were shocked to open the link and see the entire picture (darn near entire boob)- and they voiced it upset them.

Just a couple thoughts......
I have seen the argument over and again about how the breast is solely for nurturing and nourishing a baby. Huh. Interesting. Seems practical. How in the world do we strip males of their fascination with this part of the female anatomy then? Because this is also practical. Am I the only one who feels a  minority is ignoring the fact, just like women have breasts, that men like breasts? Does this minority also expect us to emasculate men for this because it is a frivolous and shallow instinct? I assure you it is not shallow. It is nature. Raising boys.....it is amazing how quickly these age-old instincts kick in. Have you been around old guys? It never leaves. It's ok. It's normal. I did an experiment last Summer. We were on a road trip. I stayed in the car to nurse our daughter while the rest of the family went in to Arby's. For the record, I did not stay in the car, in a huff, because I "had" to be isolated from regular society since I breastfeed. I know she, our daughter, is easily distracted and wouldn't nurse well unless it was calm and quiet. Also I don't like exposing my breast to anyone than my husband. At the time, there was another HUGE hub-bub about "normalizing" breastfeeding online. Kathie Lee and Hoda's Facebook wall was inundated with brelfies or breastfeeding selfies. I decided to take one. When my husband returned, I showed it to him and asked, "What do you think when you see that?" His response? "That is HOT!" We laughed and I said, "Exactly."
Why are breastfeeding mothers shaming humans for looking at a breast when it is sticking out like in the picture that has "taken the internet by storm" as a sign of "bravery" for breastfeeding mothers everywhere? Breasts are sensual. They are beautiful. Some of us, like me, recognize the virility and drive of a man. When my husband is doing physical labor and comes in sweaty and a grungy mess, it turns me on. Just as I admire and respect my husband for providing and doing his utmost to keep us safe, I know many men who *greatly appreciate* women who cook their meals and take care of their children. It is how we are made. I am also raising 2 boys, 2 future men. I am not interested in a society that tries to strip down men's drive and nature in order to elevate women's rights.
There is no need to normalize breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been normal since ....forever. It wasn't popular when my mom was raising kids, or maybe it was and she just didn't want to do that. I don't care. Honestly, how have humans nourished babies since the beginning of time? When I make a choice that may not be popular, I am not looking for everyone to validate me and coddle me and give me props. I do what I have to do. I follow my gut and act accordingly. If others don't like it, not my problem- it's theirs. Most of the time, I can even extend grace that they have no clue why I chose what I did and just smile through it. Even when I am criticized for my choices, I don't get in their face. I ignore them. Sometimes, it hurts when I get criticized for my choices, if they are people I love or thought I had a relationship with. But I don't attempt to intimidate strangers, people I could give two sh*ts about what they think of me. I carry on. That bothers me more than an entire boob staring at me in a restaurant. If you are going to make a decision, stop acting like everyone has to love it and/or like it. Make your decision, take your action and quit expecting others to recognize you and call you "brave". I know brave mothers. They are not the ones flopping their breast out in public. I could give you examples......for another post.
I encourage breastfeeding mothers everywhere- if you want to nurse, great! I encourage formula feeding mothers everywhere - if you want to not breastfeed and use formula - good for you, I applaud you!
I encourage all mothers that if you want to do what you are convicted to do, do it! If you feel it appropriate to expose yourself to a restaurant or store or football stadium, to feed your baby, do it! Be sure of yourself and do it graciously. Doing anything else only screams insecurity in your decision. If you feel it appropriate to cover yourself or excuse yourself from a public setting, to feed your baby - enjoy that! But then don't bellyache and blubber that you feel isolated, because maybe you should be showing your boobs to the world instead of being a victim.
As for me, I chose using a light cover or scarf, or nursing away from the public. I didn't see it as oppression - it was a phase, which came to an end quite quickly. I did and still do see my baby's feeds as an intimate time with my baby, whether I nursed or bottle fed. I only nurse now for morning and bedtime. Myself and generations of mothers before me didn't feel they were in need of a brigade to normalize exposed breasts.

I have said my piece.
 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Inner Child

Between this & that
I ask myself, "Which hat?"
You're known so bubbly and resilient
Today you need to be real about it.
I have trained myself to be what those around me need.
I have trained myself to ignore what matters to me.

It's hard for many, you see
to ask for help and hugs in the midst of their mystery.
Loved ones and well-wishers alike
will express their will for you to just move on.
Because they want what they want and can't allow your life change,
your pain, your pleas to impact what they have always wanted.
You will not be permitted to be a disruption.

........This. Is. Mean.

You see, many of us know there is this thing, our destiny.
We simply can't make out how to get there ...from...here.
Breathe in and breathe out - some days this is a huge accomplishment.
Is there anyone who notices?

I was raised to not draw attention to myself.
"Don't be a prima donna!
You get enough attention as it is.
They spoil and shower you and you are the definition of confidence.
You don't need any of this."
Now, all grown up and grown up for some time, I wonder,
"was it Envy that robbed me of getting all I needed?"

I can't go back and undo it all. I am not one to blame others. It's becoming clear
as I attempt to live without fear that I have more to live for, than a child's game,
being played by mothers.

So right now, this moment, and I don't know for how many more, I am resting. I am going back to find that little girl, who lost her twirl. She was beautiful and gracious. It's time to bring her center stage and watch her transform into a beautiful grown woman.
 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Touch Not of this Place

Let me tell you sweet darling why I can't stop holding you. I want you to know there is a reason why I can't bear to not be with you every moment of every day.
I know where you came from - it's a place I have not seen, only felt. It is a place where I have lost dear loved ones to. A place I felt rejection when they left and I wanted to follow.
Time lessens that feeling. Time is the only thing to lessen that sting.
You came here, as a long-lost promise from our Maker to me. I surrendered that He'd give me three sons but not a daughter. Acceptance and Joy nonetheless.
When I learned I was with child, yet again.......Fear, fear like I have known the last two times, only times 1000. There were to be no more, no more without consequence of me joining those who rejected me for residence, not of this place.
See, I know this place is sacred, peaceful, beautiful beyond comprehension and the ultimate knowing of one's existence. I try not to think of this Place often, because it is Home. It is where I wanted to run back to and feared that I couldn't carry on if I lost anymore life from inside of me. It is where we return when our experience here is finished. The time is not for us to know, it is up to us to live. To relish the struggle and greatness of conquering this foreign domain, by being in relationship with our Creator while we breathe this air.
My heart cried out, with no voice. I kept it inside for weeks. How could I face the place, yet again, where such pain was, for sure... waiting?
Then they told me you were a girl. The veil of fear lifted - I knew He would not fail me. He would not tease me only to keep you.
A few weeks of peace and planning. Lately, I am thrown into remembrance of what I was doing a year ago and all the signs were there for the outcome that was coming to us.
Then, the gate opened and your world, inside of me, changed. A normal occurrence for a normal expectancy. This is when you revealed you are extraordinary. All the fear returned to me and loneliness as I had to be removed and put in a womb, just for me - so we could have you.
Brave face on. It wasn't just a face. It is what we do when we have a combat mission. Strap up and boots on. Let's do this.
I was in denial that you could come 16 weeks early. I refused to see the NICU. "We have 10 more weeks to go." Harumph. Back off with the suggestion to get a tour of the NICU.
When we had 14 weeks to go, you let me know it's "go time and I'm coming."
As I lay on the table, with your daddy playing with my hair, my body trembling, I sang. I sang praises to our Maker because we had to focus on Him. As hard as it is, we can't lose sight that He fights our battles. I was in battle for  your life and mine.
When the cutting, tugging, pulling, stapling was finished - I asked, "How much does she weigh?"
Nothing could prepare me for their reply......."1 lb. 11oz. and 13 inches long".
I could feel myself want to crash.
How? What??? No!
How will she live? What are You doing to me???? No! That can't be correct!
We remained in this womb of sorts. It felt like a refuge to finish our pregnancy - for both of us. It is called the NICU. Thank you God for the NICU. For the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and staff. We love you University of Iowa Children's Hospital!
The next day, when I laid eyes on you........I didn't recognize you. I was so sick still and felt such guilt that I couldn't keep you safe. But you looked back at me and you knew me. Sometimes, you still look at me as if to study my soul through my eyes and tell me, "We got this Mama."
Nineteen days later, it was time to hold you. I have heard other mommies stories of being so overcome with joy. I was still afraid. I felt like I was putting you in harm's way by wanting to hold you. We didn't get comfy. They laid you on my chest and I froze. I didn't want to move to make any monitor go off, where they'd tear you from me again. It still didn't feel real. But hold you I did. Even skin to skin, we had to cover you in layers of fleece. It was good to hold you. You loved it. This was the next big bullet point you issued: You were just so excited to be mine and to be here.
We called you Warrior Princess. You are not from this place Katharine. You are a miracle. 87 days in the NICU and you never faltered, waivered. You steadily gained every inch of ground.
Praise be to God that you are healthy, vibrant, strong, growing, with no concerns. Thank you Katie Beth for your warrior spirit. I don't want to pressure that you are to accomplish great things, but I cannot deny that I know better than anyone what you are made of: Strength, Tenacity and Grace.
Thank you for this past year!! We are almost to  your first birthday. You are the perfect addition to our family. Your brothers adore you. Your daddy and I will always delight in you.
As we enter November, we will celebrate our experience of YOU! It is an honor to forever hold a Touch, not of this Place.