Feeling All The Mama Feels

Can I go Here and come back whole? I ask myself as I put my fingers to the keyboard this morning. It’s so easy to become lost in thought. Especially for a girl who hides from emotion. Or a girl who hid from emotion. A girl who doesn’t hide from feelings anymore… yet doesn’t particularly care for excessive feeling either. Still.

Perhaps, after months of write-free sabatical, and an exploration into integrative wellness from the other side of the table (as a coach-in-training), I can be Here and return into my sweet little world whole.

Let’s give it a try.

Today, I want to talk to you about these emotions I’ve been burying for years and years (and years). Today, I want to be brave enough to tell you that you are not alone if you have had big, scary emotions begin to rise up – and then you completely freaked the freak out (with or without knowing it). Today, I want to be brave enough to share this space with you. Because maybe, just maybe, if we share this space it will be easier to tell you about Jamie. And maybe it will be easier to tell you about growing into an emotional being, too.

Jamie was the first mother that I chose a relationship with shortly after becoming a mother myself. My peers didn’t have kids, especially sick ones, and I was crawling out of my skin most days pretending to be someone I wasn’t… yet. But in those conversations with Jamie – a friend and employee at my day job – I wasn’t pretending. I could tell her about the sleepless nights and the worry. She held a space for me. And in return, I held one for her. Our sons were only two weeks apart in age, and we could connect on so many different experiences. Including this one: Jamie lived with a physical dysfunction that was wreaking havoc on her life. That dysfunction took her from our beautiful world five years ago today.

That experience that we connected on has absolutely wreaked havoc on my life too. And five years ago, I had just recovered from an autoimmune crash and back injury. I was teaching yoga, contemplating leaving my job in veterinary medicine, and feeling nothing (still). My son was 20 months old, and I was completely disconnected. But on the day that Jamie passed away, I felt something for the first time since becoming a mom. I felt something real and raw and vulnerable. And it wasn’t fear – quite possibly the only thing that I had been feeling for quite some time. What I felt was one of the deepest sadnesses that I have ever known. And, home alone with my little boy when I received the news, I felt one of the deepest loves that I have ever known too. My mild child sat upon my lap as I crumbled that day. He sat upon my lap and he wiped away each and every tear that fell.

The little boy that I didn’t know how to love, loved me. I can’t put this experience into any more words than this. At least not today.

Flash forward through the next year, and slowly but surely more emotions bubbled up to the surface. And of course, one by one, I pushed them back down. When I became pregnant with our second baby, I decided immediately it should be a boy again. I was raised to believe that boys were less emotional. Which would obviously make life much easier for me!

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This little boy might be the most emotional being I’ve ever met. He breaks down gender stereotypes daily. And I love it.

But alas, God’s hand placed me on a healing path – and that second miracle child ended up being a sweet (and wild) little girl. Not only did I begin to learn emotion through her, but I learned that all people have emotion through having her. Emotion isn’t just a girl or woman thing. It’s a people thing. (And it is safe to have them.) I’ve seen the emotion of a little boy learning to grow into a relationship with a lost mama bear; and then watched his emotions expand and contract as he learns to grow into relationship with a special needs sister. I’ve seen the emotion of a man who almost lost his father. I’ve seen the emotion of a child lost in her world. I’ve seen my emotions twist and turn and churn and bubble up through it all.

And while I don’t love the idea of being so hugely vulnerable as to feel all the feels all the time, I do feel a lot of feels a lot of the time now. Feels that don’t pull me down into a deep dark hole, but inspire me to lift someone else out of theirs.

How do you live in your emotional body? Does it feel good and safe to you? I would love to know.

To Jamie – thank you for being on my heart daily. You remind me always that being present means being grateful for all of the gifts that Papa has given me.

xox

Mama J.

 

Turnip Pasta

Dear Mild,

I’m supposed to be working on a new project to be released next month, but felt compelled to rock life The Mild Way – without limitations or time constraints, and with ease. I can’t say that you’re always an easeful child, but your perspective… oh sweet boy, your perspective is often easy and, come to think of it, light.

Praise God that you are resilient, because we both know that living with a sensory spectrum wild child little sister can be a hard experience to praise through. Though baby boy, we prayed through for sure!

turnip
Like turnips, praising through is an acquired taste. Fortunately, we have many, many teachable moments where turnips and praising through can be experimented with – and better yet – experienced. Especially, when you live on the wild side.

My son, I’m pausing today for an ah-ha moment. One I want to share with you, after seeing you praise through it all – the work and the play. The therapy sessions with your wild sister. The incredible gift of raising baby bunnies. So, here’s what I found myself stopping for:

Sweetness, in watching you, I have found is that there is a difference between praising through and praying through. Praising through means you’re eating up those Turnip Spirals and giving thanks for them and their provision and their provider and their nourishment – even if you don’t particularly enjoy the taste or texture. While praying through might mean that you’re asking Big Papa to take the wheel, possibly to avoid an experience or perhaps even to heal it (even if that isn’t in His will).

Praying through is good. Our prayers are important and God surely takes notice, whether or not it’s in His plans to change the course. But our prayers can sometimes miss out on an incredible experience: praising through the storm. I call it the truest healing space. To praise through pain is a battle I didn’t even put on the map recently.

But I am now.

Anyhow, since starting Kindergarten, you are filled to the brim with sheer enthusiasm over pretty much everything again – from coloring for hours to classic television shows (cue I Love Lucy as the highlight for an entire Sunday morning) to playing sports. Your world is how I want mine to be: passionate and sure. Even at the end of a wild day, you find things to give thanks for. Your trust is awe-inspiring.

YOU are awe inspiring. Example: Just the other day, we noticed that our bunny was falling asleep as you pet him. Your response, “Oh, I get it! He must have sensory processing disorder!” It’s funny that I didn’t even think of the impact her therapies have on how you look at the world! This path is making you someone it otherwise would not, sweetheart. And I love the person you’re turning out to be. A place for praise in the storm.

Now, let’s chat those Turnip Spiral’s you loved so much!

All My Love,

Mama J.

Turnip Spirals (Pasta)

  • 2 organic turnips, peeled
  • choice of organic cooking fat
  • garlic
  • basil
  • sea salt

Mama Friends, If you don’t have one, buy a spiralizer (here’s mine on Amazon)! Grab those turnips and turn them into medium or thin noodles in under 5 minutes. While grinding away, add 2-3 tablespoons of your choice fat. I love using duck fat for these! I highly recommend finding a local source so that you can always have some on hand. If you’re an autoimmune-paleo-approach mom, fats are a huge key to your success – and a staple in your house. Veggie mama’s can use coconut oil and produce the same results!

Add spices about halfway through. If you’re using fresh garlic you can saute it in the pan before adding the noodles. Saute your noodles in the pan until they become mostly transparent and slightly browned. (You’ll see what I mean.) Remove from heat, and eat!

I hope you enjoy!

 

I’m Not Doing the Dishes and Mama, Neither Should You

Dear Husband,

I keep imagining that one day, I will wake up and be like you. Stable. You can have a “full” day and not have a physical-emotional-intellectual set back that rocks you to the core of your soul. You can look at a pile of dishes and not worry that if you spend extra time cleaning them today, you might not have the energy to exercise later. And really, it’s the exercise that makes you (me) come back to life. The dishes… well, they’re dishes. And perhaps, just maybe, if they had a pattern it might stir my soul a little more than it does today. But as of 0900 on the first day of fall 2016, dishes do not stir my soul. But, hitting the mat does.

you-are-good-enough
I am thankful for a good, good Father who shows us through his actions that we are all good enough. Even though sometimes my good enough doesn’t feel good enough.

So, I want to apologize in advance – to my rock, and my more stable half – that the dishes can peace out. Just like the laundry did. I’ll get to it when I can get to it. But my mat, honey… I promise you, I will make room for that. Because then I’m a better version of me for you and for our mild and wild babies. I am worthy of self care. I am so worthy of it.

If there’s another mama out there reading this – so are you.

{insert picture of me rolling out my mat with a big, huge, happy smile}

Peace & Love,

Your Wifey

 

Paleo Pancakes

Happy Fall, friends! I’m so excited to share with you what Miss Bliss & I spend our time on – especially on our wildest of wild days. She’s a sensory craver and seeker (with exceptions), and we find that cooking can be particularly helpful when she needs to engage in the world!

Dear Wild,

You may not remember me at my worst – for this I pray – but you will remember me at my “best”. You will remember that more often than not, I will don my apron like armour and prance around the kitchen on a cooking-high. Cooking is one of my most favorite therapies. Cooking is where I feign complete control over my wellness. It’s where I have peace and joy and fun. It’s magical. So magical, my sweet girl, that it just so happens to be where (on most days) I can be pain-free. Even on a hard and trying day, I will dig in in our kitchen. The feel of granite beneath my palms as I dust away strewn pieces of cauliflower – baby girl, it’s my zone.

I’ve been playing with recipes for some time now, and thought that today I would share one that you might enjoy cooking again one day too! I pray that you cook. I feel as though mamas miss out when they don’t sink their hands into some gluten free flour and feel the perfection of what God gives us for nourishment.

This is where we learn to pause. Sweet girl, I pray blissful pauses over your life, my wild child. The kind of pauses that make us better people.

Now, let’s chat Paleo Pancakes!

All My Love,

Mama J.

presence-and-pancakes
We must eat well, my friend! My mild and wild children have taught me this. Be nourished and you can do (almost) anything.

Grain Free, Vegan, Paleo Pancakes

  • 2 fancy Eggs (you know the type – organic, cage free, vegetarian fed…)
  • 1/3 cup each of coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond flour (replace almond for sorghum if you or your babies have food allergies – I’ll be trying these with cassava flour next!)
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • vanilla coconut milk
  • optional: blueberries, apples (and cinnamon), dark vegan chocolate

Add all of the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl, and blend thoroughly. Add in eggs and enough milk to desired consistency (mama doesn’t measure – and I feel like with liquids it’s a different quantity every time anyhow). Make sure that your batter is thin, but not watery. Throw in some optional goodies – we love ours with blueberries or chocolate – and spoon batter onto a griddle or well-oiled pan! Cook until you see bubbles forming in the top of your pancake and then flip. Enjoy with organic, local maple syrup amazingness… or some honey!

Note: You can replace the eggs with Energy Egg Replacer! I was pretty impressed with the texture.

 

Impact, Part II

So what’s next? How do I teach you the simplicity of choice versus chance in a world driven by a wait-and-see-approach? Our thoughts, become our actions, become our world. And this world is a place that we have the opportunity to make an impact in. Unless there are excuses. But we aren’t making excuses. Not us. Not the resilient child who fought a virus that wreaked havoc on his tiny body, bearing unfathomable pain at only 11 weeks old. And not the strong mother who has fought physical, emotional, and generational pain from her own childhood two plus decades ago. We are made for impact…

Dear Mild,

But I’m not making it. I have been hovering in the raw, emotional pain of being a burden for seven long days (again). When my immune system takes over (and attacks herself) sweet boy – it’s like you lose your mama. Actually, you do lose her. I have been a ghost around our house – tidying up here and there – and then retreating to the couch; folding some laundry and then taking a rest; laying down upon my yoga mat and then serving another meal. A ghost without a smile.

When my body is this tired, sweetheart, I don’t know how to live with the wildness and joy and abandon that always emanates from my soul. It’s like my soul is starved – so very weak. In these times, I sink back into that deep dark hole of a time just one year ago… a time during which unwell had lasted for over 12 months, and from which a tattoo sprung forth – my arm artfully inscribed with “run with your burdens” (plus a semicolon). I don’t know how to feel alive during these spaces (insert sharp in-breath taken from sudden realization here) because I don’t pray in these places.

Ouch. I don’t pray for myself. Somewhere deep, underneath it all, I don’t find my needs worthy of prayer. And, what has been rattling me is that I truly don’t know why. (Yes, I’ll figure that out.) I also don’t know if I can get much more vulnerable than this, my mild child. (Pssst, if you haven’t noticed – my letters to you are public. Yup. I guess that I must imagine someone else might benefit from watching us grow. I hope it’s true.)

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Our first professional family photo shoot last fall. I had Dengue at the time, and didn’t know it. A few weeks later, I would get the tattoo I mentioned. The tattoo that meant I wouldn’t give up. Let’s not give up. Miracles come from madness.

 

Anyhow, I went to the Global Leadership Summit last week. (Honey, I am bringing you there when you are old enough to see and hear it all!) During it, I was reminded of Impact. I was reminded that I put out a call-to-action that together, we would own life. Again, here I am not owning it… barely able to recall the last few days and falling into the enemy’s trap of doubt and distraction from what is at stake.

Impact.

We are made for impact.

Tonight, I answer the question I posed last month (how will we make it?) with this: WE will make it. We will make it together, not just as human being hand-in-hand, which is already how we roll… but with a bigger Togetherness, in which God is at the center. We can’t go this alone. And after the last few days, I finally get why we don’t want to.

Impact.

We will make it, son. God’s not holding out on us, so we can’t be holding out on him.

I’m interested to see how this all evolves. This praying for ourselves “too”. This balancing of humility. I bet that there are miracles just waiting to spring forth when we value ourselves the way that our Maker does. I love you, Mild. And better than that? He loves you. As you are, and as you transform into exactly who He has created you to be.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:13-16

Love,
Mama J.

Labels

Dear Wild,

This morning I woke up and I read this amazing article. I knew that I needed to dive into our story, again. I instantly felt that others might need to know why I share our story (even if I know why I share our story). Too many people might feel that this is unnecessary, and it might be uncomfortable for them to read these posts – often with raw emotions and vulnerable hearts. Others might even feel like this is invasive. We’re opening the door into our private lives to share some of the experiences that we’ve had with you, my sweet miracle child. But to not share these, would be detrimental to our growth as people and as a family, and it would perhaps halt the impact we might make on other people going through something similar.

What I want other people to know, from the moment that they dig into our conversations here, is that you DO have a label! And I’m okay with that. But, what I didn’t realize until last night, was that you don’t know you have a label. It made me really quite sad to see your confused little face as I explained an outburst to your big brother. I knew in that moment, you weren’t prepared to listen, but one day very soon you will be. Listen, my sweet girl. Mama is about to tell you all about your label. The label that describes your quirks and disposition. The quirks and disposition that make you, you.

Let’s pause here. Some people might think that’s a great thing! That you, my wild child, have no idea that you have sensory processing disorder, or that you are most likely on the spectrum. But to me that means you don’t know who you are. And sweetheart, I will give everything I’ve got for you to know and accept the kind of different that you are. You are wild; you are funny; you are fantastically smart; you have the most interesting perspective on the world. You amaze me every single day… even as I dress you because you can’t quite do that without prompting; even as I feed you when we are on a timeline, because I know otherwise you’ll get distracted; even as I remind you to use the toilet, because I know that again there might be too many other sensations going on for you to process, and you won’t recognize the sense of urgency. You are amazing, even though I jokingly refer to you as my tiny Alzheimer’s patient. (Because let’s be honest, even though you’re amazing, you take work.)

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One of those moments where I would do anything to see your beautiful face, but your comfort is in hiding behind a pirate hat – in your own sweet little world.

But it’s harder for you. And that is why I shout out your label(s) to the masses! It’s so much harder for you – and you should know that. Not because it’s a place for you to grow weary and complacent and weak, but because you need to know that you are a force to be reckoned with. Every day you face unseen battles that typical kids don’t face. I watch someone like Dr. Temple Grandin and her accomplishments, and I think YES. The obstacles you are navigating will allow for you to make a far greater impact on the world than I can.

Labeling allows for you to know – and one day soon process – how very strong you are, my sassy girl. And labeling allows others to “see” you. So often the world runs about without focus. When we share your label, we give them somewhere to set their sights on. Expectations change, and understanding begins.

So, I’ll end my ramblings here. I want you to know that you are different, because different equals powerful. I want others to know you are different, because all types of different have a place in our world. If we were all the same, no one would step outside of normal. Spectacular change comes from life outside of normal; and the greatest contributions that we can make come from being different! And you my sweet baby girl you are so different.

Have you heard yet, baby girl? You. Are. Different. And praise God for that.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

– Romans 12:6-8 NIV

Love,
Mama J.

Priorities

Dear Mama,

Today, I’m writing to the mother who cares for everyone else. I know you. I know you well, because I’ve been you. And in case you’re in the midst of scrubbing endless dishes, and floors, and bottoms… and no one has said this yet to you today, let it be said: You matter. Your wellness matters. And as you’ll hear me say thousands of times going forward on this blog, Well Women Rule The World. Period. You can’t be unwell and live the life that you are meant to live. It’s just not possible! But what is possible is listening to your body, your mind, and your spirit so that you can become the best version of yourself.

Yes, it is possible.

I know this because I lived it and I presently still live it. And to be honest, for the first time in my short and long 31 years, if assessing my personal wellness was a job… y’all, I might just get a raise this year! After countless hours and days – and a counted 10 + weeks – in physical therapy learning everything possible about my 47 percent-able body in 2015, I identify my wellness as a Top Three priority every single day. If you know me just a little bit by now, you know some of this… I have chronic autoimmune disharmonies; I have a special child (my sensory processing disorder miracle) with therapies; I have a second miracle a few years older than Ms. Bliss with sports; I am married; I am a sole income provider and a work-at-home mother; I am beginning to write; I travel often; and I advocate for women in motherhood. And still, I put my being well as a priority. Why? Because none of that gets the attention that it needs, if I don’t get the attention that need.

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My number one priority is my being well, because she needs the best version of her mother – not just some days, but on as many as I can wrangle! It feels good to break the generational chain of self-imposed guilt and lack.

If you have read this far into my post, you are either thinking that 1) I am the master of all trades and have it all figured out, or 2) you have realized that I have nothing figured out – except for Top Three. About a two years ago, I read an article that quoted Jim Collins in saying, “If you have any more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” And it was like a lightening bolt went through my body as those words made their impact, and suddenly, I got it! I have zero priorities when I’m focusing on everything: (cue drum roll… wait for it… wait for it) nothing – yes I said nothing – gets done as intended or as well.

Being a sensory mom, I’m going to now bring us face-to-face, mama. I’m going to put one hand on either cheek, with your permission. And I am going to ask you to look at me. You are in the midst of a battleground, friend. But the battle has truly already been won. You are worthy and you are loved and you are whole. You need to be your number one priority, because you value yourself. You know that others depend on you, and without being the best version of you, you can’t be there for them. Not fully.

This leads me to re-read the words that I have given myself and my son – both chronic quitters when the going gets tough: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7. You are fighting the good fight. You are finishing the race. And the foundation of it all rests on your faith – because you have already taken action.

I’m ending today with a reflection: What action – beyond reading this – do you need to do to make yourself a priority – a Top Three? Is is a support system? Is it quiet time alone?? There have been many tools in my tool box throughout the years: from self-help books to humor; from church to therapists; from journaling to community… yoga classes to personal practice… painting, drawing, retreats… each has played a significant role. Stripped down bare, what will it takes for you to draw out the perfect child within that is hugely, wholly, and unconditionally loved? Find her. Find her because she will make a far greater impact than you ever could.

Coming from someone who has found her, and knows her… whatever lengths it takes, it is worth it.

Love,
still a child, always His child, an imperfectly perfect Mama J.

We’re better together.

 

Called

Have you ever felt as though you were called to do something completely outside of your comfort zone? Ta da! I feel like I should do some sort of Vana White motion with my hands, as I display a kitchen full of dirty dishes and two children wrestling over a single maraca on a very furry dog’s bed. Welcome to life way, way… WAY beyond mine. In all honesty, today looks absolutely nothing like the vision that I had for my life.

In my vision, I lived alone – no husband or kids – and spent my days in a cabin by a lake writing. In my reality, I have two beautiful children, and I live in the desert craving a few minutes to write… knowing that once they come, I will probably be too spent to come up with anything anyhow. So, the vision must be re-crafted into one that embraces anything and everything thrown my way. Lots is thrown my way: food, emotions, tiny bodies, the challenges that come with mothering autoimmune-style…

Yes, I guess I am called to be uncomfortable. I will not complain. I will reflect on the blessings – on an eloquent farewell that a young mother and blogger who wrote to her community, while she lay at death’s doorstep. She left two baby girls. I will reflect the the story of a teammate who lost her entire family in a car accident. (Please pray for her.) I will not complain. When uncomfortable could be gone in the blink of an eye, it suddenly fits a little bit better.

That being said, I thank God for calling me to live a life outside of my comfort zone. I am blessed to live an imperfect life – and to have a new vision wrapped around a calling I did not create alone, but heard, and am navigating to the best of my abilities. A calling of faith and family.

Who knew that I would be asked to be here now?? Did you envision the life you live today?

Family First

If I reflect on the last 29 years, I have to say there is one reoccurring theme. I pray for and do my best to co-create happiness. That doesn’t mean it’s been an easy path, but a “choiceful” one. What choices do you make to meet your core needs??

My personal choice – a divine call to action that I hear loud and clear – is to put Faith, family, and fun first. My focus will not waiver. My WHY is strong. My future is limitless. Is yours??

Superfood Greens Reboot

It’s a brand new day, let’s treat it like the gift it is!

This was my first thought of the morning. After reading about Spoons. I’ll have to share more about that at another time. (A pretty profound perspective on life with autoimmune.) It was my first thought, because of Spoons and because I’m presently working on reorganizing my response to chronic pain. From my non-scientific evaluation, I’m finding that anger doesn’t work so well. Prayer does… but often it’s hard to get into the right frame of mind to “kneel.”

Last night, I was finally able to pray. A lot. After 2 days of this new reboot, I believe that a lifestyle shift most certainly contributes to our Divine connection. When we take the time to nurture, we take the time to recognize that we are human. Beautifully so.

On to the reboot!

The Superfood Greens Reboot last for 3 days. I highly suggest that if you choose to do this for longer, to add protein (lean) at dinner in lieu of hummus, if you can. I’ve been a little bit hungry later at night. (This is not unusual for me!)

Every day should begin with a full glass of room temperature water, or lemon water.  End your day with some hydration as well. It’s proven to prevent all sorts of nighttime distress (other than having to use the bathroom – which isn’t such a bad thing)!

  • AM: Start with 2 Relief, 1 Thermofit, Profit Smoothie with raw cacao, maca, and sunflower seeds
  • Snack: Greens mid-morning
  • Lunch: Salad with lean protein, 3 Its Vital Core Multivitamin, 1 Thermofit
  • Snack: Greens mid-afternoon (double up if super hungry or energy is low)
  • PM: Tapas of olives or avocado, veggies & homemade hummus (2 T.), Fat Fighters

Maca can also be substituted for mesquite powder. Both are packed full of natural, raw phytonutrients!

Happy Reboot!!