New Beginnings

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Long time no…read?  Write?

2014 kicked my ass, and I am doing some housekeeping for the upcoming year.  Facebook will be dead shortly, but I will continue to be on Instagram @poignantpalabras (no longer @thiswomans_work)

I also got bit by the writing bug again, so I started a tumblr…so PLEASE!  If you’d like to continue to follow my writing, musings, poetry…follow me at

http://www.poignantpalabras.tumblr.com

Doooooo it.  Then like and comment on all my stuff ;)

See ya on the flip side!

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::remember this::

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I finally received a response from a publication I had submitted a piece of writing to a couple of months ago.  I was a little disappointed that they weren’t able to use my piece due to a lack of diversity in topics that have been sent to them by their authors.  Good news, they gave me a couple of specific themes I can write on that they will happily publish in the future.

So, I thought I would dust off this space and put it here.  So it’s out there, ya know?  Now I can move on.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll come back with some more for This Woman’s Work.

Enjoy!

 

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Remember this

Many times in the past, I have used  my writing as a means to heal from stress, or from a particularly traumatic experience.  It’s cathartic.  I can write down my story and organize the series of events, organize my thoughts.  Many times when I am in the depths of an emotional, relational, or spiritual struggle, and I go down to write…my mind draws a blank.  I don’t know where to even start.

man-in-the-darkness-greenRemember this

So here I am, going through some shit.  Trying to navigate through the thickest of fog, but petrified to take steps forward to find my way out.  Emotionless.  Numb.  Knowing how I want to live, how I want to feel, how I want to be…but at a complete loss as to how to apply what I know.

Remember this

Remember sitting in the quiet and wishing you could rip your heart out, give it a smack, and demand it to wake up.  Demand it to feel. 

Remember praying to a god you don’t believe in to give you back your thin skin, your sensitivity, your empathy, your bleeding heart that you had once prayed to go away. 

Remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing the face that stared back at you.  Remember reaching out to that face and searching for something familiar.  Remember scowling, smiling, squinting…remember thinking that there is nothing left of the person you remember being.

Remember being petrified to get to know who was looking back at you now. 

Remember how you felt during yoga when your body felt like a million broken pieces scattered along the mat, and how you sat down and wanted to try and put it back together again, but when you tried, nothing fit together the way it used to.  

Remember not being able to fall asleep.  Remember laying there and knowing that sleep will help, sleep always helps, sleep brings clarity…thinking that since your mind has shut down, your body must be too, and it just doesn’t know how to sleep any more.  Remember finally crying when you thought that, and remember wondering why, out of all things, that was the thing that made you feel…anything.

Remember screaming at yourself inside to wake up.  Telling yourself that fear is what is keeping your from happiness.  That fear is what is keeping you from love.  Screaming at yourself to be grateful.  You know all this…you scream.

Remember trying to hold it all together. Remember how heavy you felt. 

Remember pleading for just a drop of the inspiration you once had to course through your veins.  Remember smiling at the naive, passionate, dramatic, sensitive, enthusiastic, lover of life, love, and people I once was.  Remember falling to your knees, arms out, wondering aloud where the hell she went.

Don’t you forget any of this.  Remember it all. 

happiness-life-pain-path-pleasure-quotes-road-sadness-true-vintage-wisdom-Favim.com-788909So, here I am.  Reaching for words.  None of them string together seamlessly and poetically like they do when I am in a better space.  I feel like I have never sat to write before.  But it doesn’t matter.  I can’t forget this.  I have to remember every detail of every bleak moment…because someday, someday the fog will lift.  Or I’ll have enough courage to finally find my way out…and I’ll need to remember this pain to also remember that I am a fighter.  That I am a warrior of love.  That I am courageous and fierce.  That I am soft and brave and worthy of love and happiness.

Remember this

Remember the hurt.  Sit in it. Let it sting. Don’t worry about scars.  Scars tell a story and we all need our story to help us evolve.

Remember this.

Now take a step.  

 

{maybe one more}

 

 

 

::four years::

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There have been a handful of blog posts that I have written over the years that I would say are my most meaningful, or transparent, or therapeutic to write. But this one. This one has been healing. Hard, mostly because I can’t see through the tears…but healing.

Tomorrow, my first born, my sweet and sensitive Lula turns 4. These past four years have been hands down, the most challenging and rewarding years of my entire life.

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This sweet baby made me a mother. It sounds so simple. Just a new title to give myself. At the time, I had not one clue as to what the journey of motherhood involved.

the heartbreak
the unchained bliss
the uncertainty
the way you feel your heart literally grow when she says her first “Mama.”
the feeling of loneliness and craving being alone all at the same time
the exhaustion
the way your eyes fill up with tears when she says her first “I love you, Mama.” All on her own.
the way you continue to search for your identity
the way all your priorities shift so drastically
the way you want to bottle her scent when she first wakes up in the morning
the way you would easily die for her with no second thought.

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Motherhood is complex, and evolving, and this live thing…it embodies most of who I am now. Motherhood put a giant mirror in my face and forced me to look long and hard at myself. Who am I, really? What do I stand for? Who do I want to be for my daughters?

Lula was a high-needs baby. The Witching Hour hit our home every night from 5pm-11pm. Lula took quite some time to first smile. She was hard to feed. She seemed to always need darkness and was overstimulated so easily. Those first few months were some of the hardest of my life. I was so scared she wasn’t happy. That I wasn’t doing enough. That *I* wasn’t enough.

In 4 years she has morphed into this truly amazing person. The love and compassion she has for others is inspiring to watch. She is brilliant and so aware. Her imagination blows me away…and her ability to use words to express how she or others are feeling is remarkable. She will talk to everyone and anyone, everyone is her friend. And when she laughs…that deep belly laugh…it’s like magic. She is magnetic, and enthusiastic…and people love being near her. I love being near her.

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In these past 4 years, I have morphed as well. I am not as selfish. I am more patient. I think “long-term.” I function pretty efficiently on very little sleep. I truly understand the importance of self care. I am even more passionate about certain things. I understand what I means to be “present.” Really present. I have new passions that were only born because I became a mother. I’ve learned to stop being the victim. I’m learning to give up control of others while learning to control myself.

I see myself in Lula. Her sensitivity. Her need to be accepted. Her dramatics. The way she is always dreaming. Her need for verbal confirmation. Her perfectionism. The way you can literally see her mind spinning a million miles a minute. The way she likes to plan things out…very detail oriented. Her love of music and dancing. Her temper. The way she can let go and really laugh. Really laugh from the soul.

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I used to be so frightened when I would notice some of those things in her. It’s hard being sensitive. It’s hard being a people pleaser. Your heart gets broken repeatedly and you are told many times that you are just dramatic. That your feelings are silly. Uncalled for. Over the top.

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But they are real. They are real to me. They are real to her. I have learned to embrace these traits within myself. And while they can still be challenging, they make up who I am. And I love who I am.

Motherhood did that to me. Lula. Lula single handedly gave me the gift of self-acceptance. Of self love. It’s taken awhile to get here, and I still have a long way to go. Lula will get here her way. Through her own journey. Her own story. Perhaps motherhood will lead her here too, and we will be forever bound as sisters on this journey together.

I can tell her “thank you.”

Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for making me your Mama.

…but she won’t understand how deep that goes. She won’t until she is much older, and a mother herself. How when I say “thank you”, I mean

Thank you for making me better
Thank you for your unconditional love
Thank you for forgiving me
Thank you for sticking by me
Thank you for teaching me patience
Thank you for teaching me empathy
Thank you for showing me how to let go and really live
Thank you for loving me right back
Thank you for challenging me
Thank you
Thank you

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Thank you. You beautiful, beautiful soul. My sweet and spunky little sprite. I wish you the happiest of birthdays, this year and every year.

 

Teaching Your Child the Art of Inner Stillness

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meditation-for-kids-300x235One of the *many* things I have learned from my daily meditation practice is that getting to my place of inner stillness is extremely difficult.  Especially once I have already allowed myself to start to feel out of control.  I know that with more practice, the quicker I will be able to get to my peaceful place.  However, I have 27 years of bad habits working against me, making it seem almost impossible at times to self soothe, bring myself down from a Level 10, or to remember that other people have no control over how I react, feel, or behave in any given situation.

It’s my addiction to revert to certain emotions or behaviors in stressful situations that seemingly impairs me from reaching my goal of inner stillness and happiness.  This realization not only allowed me to go a little easier on myself when I fail to handle my stress in a peaceful fashion…but it also has spurred me to actively teach my children the art of meditation, manifesting inner stillness, and the skill of being able to actively choose their reactions and emotions in a given situation.  If they can master these techniques at a young age and create healthy habits now, think of the peaceful and happy lives they will lead as adults…even when life is at its most turbulent.

Now, with Lula, I have taken a more verbal approach with her because that is how she learns and thrives.  She likes things explained to her in great detail, over and over again.  Once it clicks, she then cements her new knowledge by explaining and teaching it to myself or others around her.

Olive seems to learn more by observing.  This could be because she is only Two and her verbal skills are still quite limited, however I think that I am pretty spot on with my observation with her.  She watches me, watches her sister, and really only needs one shot before it clicks and she is doing it herself.

By making meditation and achieving an inner calm with my children my first priority when it comes to handling stressful situations in general, or when dealing with sharing struggles, big emotions, “tantrums”, etc…it has transformed my entire parenting technique by becoming more about learning lessons, teaching empathy and self awareness, and learning how to effectively verbalize emotions and feelings.  This is opposed to previously feeling like my days were spent putting out fires and focusing on just keeping the kids alive.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I am a walking zombie with zero energy and counting down the seconds until bedtime.  However, those days are becoming less frequent…and I truly believe the main reason is because by *me* practicing meditation I am filling my empty tank.  I cannot give when I am on empty.  Well, I can.  But it will be filled with bitterness, resentment, and overall unhappiness.  This is a form of self care that resets me.  Quickly.  And extremely effectively.  When Mama is happy, everyone is happy…right?

Now, meditation in children is going to look much different than the image in your brain of a crossed-legged adult with closed eyes chanting OM.  With younger children, especially under two or even three, meditation will look much more like them sitting on your lap, or laying next to you and taking deep breaths together and perhaps creating some positive imagery for you both to experience.  I do not try and do this in the middle of a full on meltdown.  When Olive is in the middle of that, I let her experience what she is experiencing while I am there putting words to her emotions.  If she lets me.  Sometimes that isn’t even an option.  I will say, that every child is different with different needs when they are having big emotions, Olive is one who yells at me to leave her alone…I usually am not even allowed to talk.  Once she is calm and ready for cuddles, we take deep breaths together, chest to chest.  We (I) talk about what we are doing, acknowledge the feelings of sad, anger, frustration as being OK, and then travel somewhere peaceful and happy for awhile in our imagination.  Lula typically joins as well.  At some point, perhaps years and years down the road, she will be able to use breath, words, and imagery to calm herself before a complete meltdown.

meditationLula on the other hand, loves guided meditation.  She has an incredible imagination, and these sessions facilitate her to use it, all while calming her and grounding her.  I have purchased some that will take her to the depths of the sea where she discovers mermaid castles and explores with the manta rays.  Or one that takes her to the Sun.  These are about 10 minutes long each, and I didn’t think the first time we played one that she was going to make it through the entire thing.  There she laid, eyes closed, unmoving, with a big grin on her face the entire time.  Olive sat and watched for awhile.  When it was over, she sat up and wanted to do another.  When Lula meltsdown, she likes me to talk her through it.  Validate her feelings.  Help bring her down.  I’ve typically been playing a guided meditation before nap time, or sometimes I will pop one on when I can tell the girls are just feeling a bit off or need some reconnecting.  The vibe of the entire house changes.  It really is fantastic.

I’ve been noticing little changes in the girls.  Nothing drastic.  But like I mentioned earlier, this is a life practice that I believe with time, consistency, age, and emotional maturity will evolve into something really special.  I mean, when it comes down to it…I want to raise happy children who will in turn grow into happy adults.  Look around you.  So many people are so unhappy.  They fill their voids with things that just band-aid the problem.  Myself included.  Happiness seems to be the real gift anymore.  And if I can help give that gift to my children…that is all I could ever want to do.

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A Yell-Free Life:: What I’ve Learned Thus Far

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Let me let you in on a not-so-secret-secret::

Hello, My name is Lindsay, and I am a yeller.

PrintI don’t yell everyday.  I don’t yell over everything.  I *do* go from zero-to-ten pretty quickly.  There isn’t much in between.

And my ten?  My ten is loud.  My ten is a doors slamming, hitting walls, screaming into a pillow, foot stomping tantrum that puts my almost 4 year old’s to shame.

Why do I do this?  Well.  I *know* why.  Thank you counseling, self-help books and blogs, lots of inner soul-searching, and long conversations with close friends.  I’m not going to get into the “why.”  However, I will say, that a couple of years ago when I decided to parent my children peacefully, end punitive punishments, go with my instincts, attachment parent…whatever you want to coin it…my “Holy shit, Lindsay is going to snap” moments came much more frequently.

This, as you can imagine, was extremely frustrating for me.  I was so frustrated with being so frustrated.  My patience was nonexistent.  I would go two whole days with biting my tongue, working through every. single. emotion. that both of my girls have.  And my girls have *big* emotions.

There, I would sit with a screaming child in my lap for 20 minutes, repeating…

“You’re upset because you want to color on the walls, but Mommy can’t let you.  You’re upset, and I understand.  It’s OK to be upset.  I am here even when you are upset.” 

That was my day.  Dreading the next big emotion.  Barely hanging on.  Closing my eyes and holding back the tears and wishing that I could just go back to my pre-child life where the only big emotions I had to manage were my own.

I wasn’t yelling.  But I wasn’t happy.

These children are supposed to bring me so much happiness.  So much joy.  And there I was, day after day, doing the same freaking thing.  I was unhappy.  Depressed.  Lonely.

I was bored.

I would count down the seconds to 6 o’ clock when I could expect Ryan to walk through the door.  A text would come at 5:59 saying he was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t be home until 6:15.  I would text him back horrible things.  Like it was his fault.  Like he chose to sit in traffic to make my life harder.  Like he was purposely trying to make me unhappy.  The instant he would walk through the door, I would pour myself a (hefty) glass of wine and go hide until bedtime.

Cue resentment, bitterness, exhaustion…a perfect recipe for a Level Ten Explosion.

A couple of days of “being good” and not yelling would come and go.  Then, the smallest, tiniest, most trivial thing would happen.  One of my kids wouldn’t nap.  Or they found a marker and colored on themselves.  Or the cats knocked over a plant.

SNAP.

I could feel it coming, but there was no stopping it.  All of the pent up frustration…enough for days…would spew out of me.  You would think this release would feel good.  I’d feel empty and ready to take on more.  No.  I’d feel even worse than before.

My children would be scared and unhappy.  Trust was broken.  The dog would hide.  My husband would shut down.  I was supposed to be a peaceful parent.  This was supposed to work.  I am a horrible mother.  A horrible wife.  And worse yet, a hypocrite.  Screw this peaceful parenting bullshit.  It doesn’t work.  Look at me.  I am worse off than before.

Then, I had my day.  

I woke up a couple of weeks ago in a horrid mood.  I grabbed Lula her apple, turned on Thomas and poured myself a cup of coffee.  I sat on my couch and opened up Instagram and the first Insta I saw was a quote:

“Happiness comes from within.”

Well, duh.  I know this.  We all know this.  We’ve heard it a thousand times.  But for some odd reason I sat there.  Immobilized.  Everything hit me in waves.  Big, huge, waves.

My children do not determine my happiness.  My husband does not determine my happiness.  Things that do or do not happen in my life do not determine my happiness.  That is giving up all of my power.  Happiness is a choice.  Being at peace?  Being at peace is a choice.

I’ve always had high expectations in my life.  I have them with myself, but in turn those high expectations go on other people in my life.  I hold them to the same standards I hold myself.  And anything less than…well, that impedes on my happiness.  Being happy doesn’t need to be that hard.  And I was making it damn near impossible.

My problem wasn’t striving to be a peaceful parent.  My problem was with my expectations.  My problem was letting others determine my happiness.  My problem was letting go of control of little things.  Thing is, if you let go of control over the little things, you’ll find you have full control over your own happiness…which is all that really matters.

Later that day, I downloaded some guided meditation for myself and the girls.  While they napped, I listened to one that had me visualize my inner peace and happiness as a candle.  When you feel the turbulent winds of life threatening to blow out your candle, you stop.  You become still.  You do all you can to protect that candle and nothing outside of you can blow it out.  Only your inner turbulence.  This gave me a much WIDER range than my Zero To Ten.  Now I have two, three, four…

THEN.  Then I just *happened* to stumble upon a comment someone left on a thread about peaceful parenting and it was a link to The Orange Rhino Challenge.  I clicked, and there was just the challenge I needed to pair with my new found revelations.  365 days of no yelling.  None.  The yelling option is basically just completely taken off the table.

I am not typically a person who believes in miracles.  Or fate.  I truly believe that we have full control over our realities and our lives.  Which is what makes it somewhat (darkly) funny that I have played the victim for so long.  It wasn’t some miracle that the series of events of that day unfolded the way they did.  That information has always been out there.  The new knowledge I attained had actually been known by me for some time.  I just needed to choose to know it.

So.  I made a vow.  My happiness is up to me.  I would take my happiness into my own hands.  I would continue to practice yoga, as that grounds me and keeps me in tune with my body.  I would continue to meditate, as that calms me and teaches me the self-discipline of being able to self-soothe.  I would completely stop yelling, as yelling single-handedly destroyed not only my self-esteem, but the self-esteem of those around me.

But most important, I would continue to forgive freely.  Myself, mostly.  Will I hit a Level Ten again?  I don’t doubt it.  The difference then will be that I will know how to quickly get myself back down from the moon.  I will be able to ask for forgiveness, and forgive myself.  And I will remember that my candle cannot be blown out by anyone other than myself.

We have been happy this week.  My kids are happy with a happy mom.  I can work through big emotions with them and do it with a happy heart, and not a resentful heart.  We are in the process of building trust again.  I let go of my crazy expectations and the freedom that gives each of us in our daily life has made everything so much more peaceful.  I knew I was finally on the right path when yesterday, Lula came up for a cuddle and said,

“Mommy.  I have so much fun with you.  You love me and Ollie-O so much.”

I do, Baby Girl.  I do.

I am looking forward to updating this aspect of my life as this Yell-Free Year continues.  I am excited for the changes in not only myself, but in my entire family.

This hippy-dippy shit is legit…join me?

 

 

An “FYI” to My Daughters

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A new post on my other blog, The Lippy Lactator

Originally posted on The Lippy Lactator:

This is written as a response to the horrendously hypocritical and disgustingly sexist article(s) titled “FYI” and “FYI #2 (the one where everyone’s covered up)”.  I urge you to read in chronological order to get the incredible double standard in one, big, hefty dose of sexism and self-righteousness.  If you’ll take a moment to notice that as she is judging girls by their Facebook posts and the clothes they wear, and how they are not allowed the honor of spending time with her sons, she includes a few pictures of her sons, shirt-less, all wet from the ocean and flexed muscles-a-bulging…I cannot.  I just cannot even.

I am not going to pick apart the article.  I am not.

I am, however, going to speak up for my daughters…who will be judged, ridiculed, and told that they are less than their male counterparts.

I am going to take a stand for…

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Can of Worms {a note from the mother behind the MotherWise photo controversy}

lindsaykarns1:

What’s going on in my other world…

Originally posted on The Lippy Lactator:

So, a funny thing happened yesterday.

I have been a part of the MotherWise community for awhile now.  I periodically share photos, stories, or links to “This Woman’s Work” with them.  Yesterday, a story and photo of mine was shared.  At first, the comments were sweet and supportive.  Parents shared the picture on their timelines with comments like, “Awww!” and, “What a sweet story!”  The more it was shared, however, the more people outside of the MotherWise community saw the post.

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“Breastfeeding my 14 month old daughter, Olive on the ferry. A little boy was walking by with his mother and stopped to look. “My mommy gives me Na-Na’s too.” He said. His mother smiled. I asked her how old he was, and she said 5. He then walked right up to us and touched her head and said, “I bet your Na-Na’s make your baby smile. They…

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Rad Little People

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Words.

We say hundreds of thousands of words a day, without much thought going into many of them.  We talk to our dogs, our parents, our friends, our children…if you are like me, you may even talk to yourself as well.

If you are also like me, and you have a 3 year old in the house, you may find yourself talking MUCH more than ever before.  Usually, repeating yourself over, and over, and over, and…..over again.  I actually have to repeat everything Lula says.  That is her way of guaranteeing that I heard her.

“Mommy!  Look!  It’s a garbage truck!”

I see, honey.

“LOOK!  MOM! GARBAGE TRUCK!!!”

Wow!  I see it! That’s great honey.

“MOMMMMMMMMMMMY!  DO YOU SEE THE GARBAGE TRUCK?!?!?!”

Lula, look!  It is a garbage truck!

See, I didn’t repeat it exactly like she said it.  So it goes on and on until I catch on.

This morning on the way to work, she saw an ambulance with sirens speed past us.  The questions came pouring in.

“MOM!  WHAT WAS THAT?!”

That is an ambulance.  Someone was hurt or sick and needed a fast ride to the doctor.

“Next time I get hurt, can I ride in an ambulance?”

Well, you only ride in an ambulance if you are really, really hurt or sick and Mommy or Daddy can’t drive you fast enough.  We don’t want that to happen.

“Yes.  Yes I do.  Is the ambulance a boy or a girl?”

The ambulance is a vehicle.  The people inside are boys or girls.  Or both.  It doesn’t matter.

“It does matter.  I want both.  Are they happy people?”

This went on and on and on until we got to work and then she proceeded to tell my mom everything she knows about ambulances.

I find myself annoyed at times by all the round and round talking.  I do know she is learning.  I am amazed at how much she knows and how she can remember every single little thing that is said to her.  And then I start to think…

she remembers every.single.little.thing…oh shit.

Ryan and I were at Story Time a few weeks ago with the girls and this mom behind us had two little ones, a boy and a girl.  They weren’t doing anything particularly inappropriate, the boy had a hard time sitting still.  We kept hearing the mom say,

“GET OVER HERE!  STOP being such little BRATS!”

“You two are being SO BAD.”

“WHY do I have such nasty BRATS as kids?!”

I am just thinking outside the box here, but perhaps…just MAYBE…they were “acting like brats” because she kept telling them over and over that they indeed, were brats?  I don’t know.  I’m no expert.  I do know that me telling her that she was being a complete asshole wouldn’t have helped either.

I don’t call my girls brats, but it got me thinking even more…I need to be sure to tell my girls over and over how awesomely awesome they are.  Maybe if I tell them enough, they will believe it themselves.  All the times Lula masters something new at the playground, I need to tell her how strong she is.  How brave.  How she can do anything she puts her mind to.

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Every time Olive says new words, throws things in the trash, is sweet to her baby dolls…I need to tell her how smart, helpful, and kind she is.

Words can be meaningless.  They can.  We spew out thousands of meaningless words a day.  Words can also be incredibly powerful.  It is important to make them count with our kids.  Think before we react.  Talk to them the same way we would like to be talked to.  Empower them.  Respect them.  Listen to their words.

My dear friend Maddie agrees with me on this.  She was tired of all the clothes for kids covered in silly phrases or words…the kids have no clue what it says on them.  We’ve even seen parents dress their kids in clothes plastered with their particular political agendas.  Silliness.

Maddie decided to start making shirts for our kiddos that have empowering, positive words on them.  Words that they can use to describe themselves…so Rad Little People was born.

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Lula has a “Powerful” shirt, and we got to talk about what it means to be powerful, and all the things that make her so powerful.  She came over to my parent’s house and my dad said,

Lula! What does your shirt say?!

“Powerful!”

What does powerful mean?

“It means I am strong and brave and can do anything!”

What an awesome conversation to have with a child.

You can customize the shirts with words of your choice, or pick from her selections.  The shirts are adorable and what I love the most is that they are gender neutral.  Teaching my girls that there is no such thing as “girl” clothes or “boy” clothes is very important to me as well.

Maddie takes a lot of pride in her work and it shows in the quality of the shirts.  TWW couldn’t be happier to have “Rad Little People” as a sponsor.  Take some time to check out her Etsy shop and if you would like to make a purchase, TWW’s promo code is “FRIENDPASS“…and you’ll get FREE shipping!

What kinds of positive words would you use to describe your children?

Winding Road

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TWW has taken a little sabbatical. I have continued to write for Mothering, however, I have been struggling with the direction I want this blog to go.

Just because I haven’t been posting here, doesn’t mean I have been stagnant in my day to day life. Actually, that is where I am drastically evolving. I feel as if my eyes are being continually opened to new ideas, past fallacies, and future goals. I am discovering new passions that are becoming so ingrained in who I am that I am constantly having to sit down and get reacquainted with myself.

I have always been a passionate person, but my passion for a handful of topics has become so intense that I have found I need to become loud about them. Not because they are important to me, but because they are important for our children. They are important for our future. They are vital for MY children. And when it comes to that, to MY kids, I will be loud. I will be colorful. I will take a stand. Change doesn’t happen without action. Sometimes to create change you have to stand up and shout about it. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there for the good of the cause. The greatest changes in history had loud, passionate activists behind it. And they made people uncomfortable.

I don’t want to be comfortable. I want to ask questions. I want to dig deeper. This is where I am at right now. Reeling with ideas but no one to share them with. Flooded with things to write about but no where to write them.

I realize I am nothing extraordinary. What I have to say isn’t any more incredible than the next person. However, I refuse to live a stifled life because that is what makes people comfortable. I have written about this before, the fact I struggle with trying to please everyone. Wanting everyone to like me. That has always been one of the most important things to me.

I have changed. I am changing. I am yearning to learn more everyday about myself and this fascinating world I am a part of. I have found passions that are more important to me than my need to please others. So, where does that leave TWW?

After talking with a dear friend of mine, who is wise beyond her years, I have decided to start a new blog, all while keeping TWW. I will begin linking my work with Mothering here, while including some more personal, behind the scenes scoop on the article. My work with them is focused on gentle and attachment parenting, and I will be diving into the world of unschooling as well…because, if you can believe it…school is right around the corner for Lula! I will also continue to post here and there about life at the Karns’ Abode and update on the girls– as they are growing like weeds and cracking me up every single day.

My new blog will be linked here and on my social media outlets once it is up and running. This space will be geared more towards my passion for the normalization of breastfeeding, with a focus on breastfeeding in public and breastfeeding full-term. I will also be posting on my fight for genital integrity and autonomy for all children, and to end routine infant circumcision. Posts will also include topics around birth and empowering women to learn to trust their bodies. I am sure I will touch on the lack nonexistence of maternity leave in the US as well. Above all else, this blog will be there to challenge past beliefs and to educate on new (not-so-new, but new to you) ideas. I truly believe challenging things you were taught to believe is the key to growing as a person. For those that know me, you know I do not judge, and I am an accepting person. For those that don’t, know that my passion, my loudness, my fire… It isn’t to shame. It isn’t to judge. It isn’t to hurt.

It is to challenge. It is to educate. It is to get you thinking outside of the box society, your parents, your friends, whomever, has deemed appropriate. I will never shame a parent for past choices. My only hope is to educate. To show facts to back up my opinions. Actually, I hope to successfully show the difference between fact and opinion, as the two seem to get confused as one or the other quite often in regards to these topics. To share case studies, research, news articles, personal experience… whatever I can to keep you asking questions. To keep you wanting to keep digging.

There are so many things I wish I could take back as a parent. Already. And Lula is only 3. But, I have to move forward. I can learn. I can change. I can either be riddled with guilt, or shake it. And do something about it. Actually DO something about it. My pride has to be pushed aside when it comes to my kids…our kids.

The reason I am keeping this aspect of my life separate from TWW is because not everyone is ready to start digging. You have to be ready to challenge yourself and to ask questions of yourself. I have been humbled, brought to my knees, and slapped in the face with facts…facts that challenged my way of parenting. My beliefs. And it hurts. And it blasted my ego and it killed my pride. One has to be ready and willing to change, or else these foreign ideas will just piss them off. Send them into a tirade. How dare someone question my way of doing things?! Not everyone is ready. There was a time when I wasn’t either.

I want to keep TWW about the joys and woes of parenting and the beauty of pregnancy, while keeping you laughing and crying at the same time. TWW relates to people. It is a sigh of relief that someone feels the same way you do. And trust me, I do. This new avenue I am taking doesn’t quite mesh with what I have created here. And that is OK. I am looking forward to being enriched with the diversity this new creative outlet will bring.

If you’re ready, join me. If not, stick around. I am still here. Still Lindsay. Still cleaning up booger walls, eating soggy goldfish, and contemplating spiking my coffee most mornings.

Guest Post: What Happened To Your Baby?

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One thing that is super cool about having a blog with a large readership is that I can use this space as a platform for other writers as well.

I’d like to introduce Ana, a 21-year-old Montanian, Montanatonian?  Montaninite.  She’s from Montana.  She is also the mommy to a beautiful almost-2-year-old, Zoe.  After Zoe was born, it was discovered that she had a condition called Arthrogryposis.  Anthrogyposis affects the joints and muscles in all four limbs, typically.  They are very stiff, with seemingly no range of motion.  There is also substantial muscle weakness.  Zoe was born in the lotus position, legs criss-crossed under her bum, feet clubbed, her elbows would not bend and her hands bent forward to touch her forearms.

The more I have gotten to know Ana, the more I am inspired.  As a young, single mom to a child with special needs, Ana is faced with struggles that seem impossible to handle.  She stays home with her daughter full time, taking her to several physical and occupational therapy appointments a week.  Zoe also needs her arms and legs cast periodically to help bend and and straighten the joints.  Through all of this, Ana maintains a positive, no-nonsense attitude that I strive to have myself.  When asked how she does it, she responds, “If it were your child, you would do it all too.  You just do what you have to do, and keep moving forward.”

Ana is also a writer.  Her work has been in several online publications, including Mamalode.  And, after persistent prodding, she has started her own blog,  What Happened to Your Baby? 

I encourage you to read Zoe’s birth story, as it is raw, real, and simply beautiful.

Today, she is sharing a piece with This Woman’s Work readers on Zoe and her new found independence with a wheelchair at one of her weekly appointments.

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I’ve been in Zombie Mode for the last two hours, unable to articulate more than a grunt or a groan. I’ve been speaking to my roommate in shrugs and blank stares. Which is fine, I guess. Better than the hide-in-the-bathroom-and-cry-intermittently tactic that I used most of the evening. Without allowing myself to be too vulnerable, and as to not confuse anybody with the mess that is in my head right now, tomorrow is a big day for appointments with Zoe. I can’t wrap my head around anything. Any train of thought gets lost within seconds.

I need redirection for the moment. I can’t write about an appointment that I’m not even clear about. I click “shuffle” on my iTunes, and the first song that starts playing is “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers. This is my daughter’s favorite song. She likes to shout “Oh!” and “Hey!” in between the singer’s. Just this morning she was in her carseat, singing and dancing to it on our way to appointments…

In the last week, Zoe has gone from not necessarily being aware of when we are heading to physical and occupational therapy, to begging to go, and sitting by the door saying “Go? Daar-ed? Cardo?” (How she pronounces our physical therapist and occupational therapist’s names. “Maaama. Go! Fishie! Horse! Bug?? Gooo.” Every time we get in the car, she asks if we are going, and every time we pull up to the hospital her face lights up and she goes through her list of words associated with what’s inside.

What is inside is freedom. Independence. Confidence. A certain, special glow that I couldn’t describe to you with all the words in the world. Three times a week, before we cast her legs, she gets to drive (Drive? Play? Explore?) a power wheelchair around the hospital. We started with smaller spaces, a room where we tried to get her to come to us while she learned how to steer, stop, and pull up to a surface without crashing into it. Now, she drives through the halls of the hospital like a daily stroll.

0910135258 Lately, we don’t even have to try to get her to follow us. We buckle in to her wheelchair, and she goes. She leads us. We follow at a safe distance, and sometimes jump in her way to be living, moving obstacles. She tells us, “Bowl.” and takes us to the toy bowling alley set up in the hallway near the pediatric gym. Sometimes she detours into the gym and plays with the tool table that she’s never been able to reach.

Next, she takes us to the fish tank in the common area of the Inpatient part of the hospital. Here, she drives up to me, and stops just close enough to raise her arms, wordlessly asking to be taken out of the chair. Today, her OT set up a narrow passage with chairs for her to drive down that she couldn’t just flip a U-ie and drive away from the tank, trying to teach her how to reverse more than a few inches. I waited, crammed between a chair and the fish tank. She reaches me and lifts her arms. I pull her out and she gets to feed the fish spoonfuls of smelly flakes. When I put her back down, we expected her to barrel into the chairs so they’d move out of her way since we haven’t really worked much with reversing yet, but instead, she turned her head so she could see behind her (as much as the chair allows, anyways) and reversed the whole five or so feet until she could turn around and cruise around the nurses station. Sometimes she wants to play on the carousel horse, or look at the Christmas tree in the corner.
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We go to the therapy gym for adults with the giant butterflies hanging from the ceiling, sometimes she moseys down less exciting hallways, peeking into rooms we pass and winning over hearts of whoever she drives by. Another first, today, was the elevator. It took some coaxing to get her to understand it was okay for her to drive into it. We went up to the pediatric unit and met two girls at another fish tank, then took another elevator downstairs again.

No matter where we go that day, it always ends the same. She drives over to where I’m sitting and raises her arms to be picked up again. I pull her out, she drinks some milk and then we go cast, and after that, head home for naps, dinner, and playtime. The days she drives, she won‘t let me do anything for her. She doesn‘t want me to carry her, or help her do anything. At those appointments Zoe gets a taste of being a “regular” kid. She gets to run away from Mom, she can reach things she can’t when she is butt-scooting, everything is a bit more attainable. No wonder she won’t stop asking to go.

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When we get home, Zoe sets her sights higher. She is more interested in things on the table, wants to check out what is just out of reach, and I know she is plotting what she’ll get into when she can drive her own chair around the house. And…I can’t wait.

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