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.

 

Why I Went Back to Facebook

Dear Mama,

For almost a week, I walked away from Facebook. If I’m completely honest, that was in part due to the upcoming election and the negativity that I found vomited all over my newsfeed day after day after day. {Still, I’m human.} Gone were the sweet pictures of new babies and old friends and crock pot recipes and family vacations. And I felt my excitement for the social media platform in general dwindle. Over the last three years, Facebook has been my space. It’s where I have connected with my yoga students off of the yoga mat – and it’s where I have stayed in touch with our team around the world! I was shouting it’s praises for building community. I loved Facebook.

And then I didn’t anymore. Yet, I still went back.

I went back after I spent some time in prayer over my hiatus. Five minutes here and there. An entire boat ride with the grandparents. A walk through Walmart, during which I’m sure I got looks as my mouth moved in silence. {That’s just how I pray, y’all.} Prayer about our family, our business, our sensory wild child and miracle mild one. Prayer over church and community and government. Praise over God’s goodness in every gap he’s filled. I still didn’t have the answer to whether I should be on Facebook, though. Then I wrecked my car, Wild in the back seat, and reality hit as I journaled. That reality is simple: we can’t run away from what isn’t working, if we’ve been called to fix it.

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It was risky business posting this. I’m not in love with how I look – but giving testimony where it’s due means showing messy, not perfect.

This thought or prompting, brought me to the moment many, many years ago when I gave up. I sat on my knees in a damp, stinky basement – and I prayed to be released from life. I was in a rough relationship, my best friend had just announced her affair, and I had decided to confront someone close to me about long time abuse. All of that isn’t what is important from this memory, though. What’s important is what I heard, which is this: “You are here to make other people happy.” Boom. Calling named. Now, back to why I can’t leave Facebook…

I can’t leave Facebook because I wasn’t called to watch change happen. I was and am called to make change happen. To be the change, as Mr. Gandhi said. And as I gave thanks in my journal for walking away from a pretty good {not good} accident, I realized that no one knew I had walked away with minor, minor injuries – and that my baby girl had none. Not a single one. If no one knows your testimony, it’s kind of like it never happened. It happened. And to give glory where glory is due – to over 2,000 Facebook family, friends, and business partners – isn’t optional. It is necessary.

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At least it is for me. So, going forward – I’m back on Facebook. Will I take breaks here and there? Absolutely! It’s good for the soul. But I won’t leave until it is no longer a space where more love and light and laughter is needed. Project Change All The Lives has only just begun, because love can break through.

When love broke thru

You found me in the darkness

Wanderin’ thru the desert

I was a hopeless fool

Now I’m hopelessly devoted

My chains are broken

And it all began with You

When love broke thru

And it all began with You

When love broke thru

– When Love Broke Through, Toby Mac

Until we meet again – may love break through.

xox

Mama J.

Love in Action

I have shared many pieces of my adventure with you all. But today – I want to dig a little deeper. I want to take you my mothering and my living – a space that leans upon something and someone so much bigger than me every single day. A space where love is put into action… most of the time.

Last month, I returned home from a trip that should have filled me to the brim. Instead, I landed in Arizona with unfathomable pain. Every inch of my body ached, from the muscles in my eyes to the very tips of my toes. After an evening hanging out in the ER, my 103 fever began to drop; the painkillers took the edge off. (I never take painkillers. I finally had to wean myself off of them last week!) And my rash began to spread. Within 24 hours, I would be covered from head to toe with both an irritable rash and petechaie (broken blood vessels) across all of my extremities. It wouldn’t be for a week that I could think clearly again.

Insider look: My least favorite moment was also my funniest, as I proceeded to de-pit my dates, and then attempt to eat the pits instead of the fruit. Oy!

So, yes, it happened. While in the Keys, I caught the Chikungunya virus. Of course I did! My immune system attacks itself. Often it doesn’t seem to protect me from usual external offenders. I should expect things like this, but I don’t. This is the good and the bad side of being such a positive person. Pausing here… As I write about this, I immediately think of the story of Job. Again and again, the enemy said to the Lord: let me see how much faith this Job has, and Job experienced unfathomable pain too. Except his was profound loss time and again and again. I return to thanking God often for this pain. This pain, the combined lingering remnants of Chikungunya and the beginning of physical and occupational therapy for my autoimmune disharmonies, is nothing compared to that of loss. Pausing again… Why is it that mothers often compare their experience to that of another and berate themselves for their own, very personal, reactions? What I have never paused to recognize, as I should, is that this too is loss. Not like Job’s, but like Jennifer’s. This is my battle with the loss of being well. This is my adventure in putting love into action while not always being at my best.

Anyhow, I was finally feeling so much better before the virus struck! I had made a huge dietary modification with Autoimmune Paleo (AIP), with great results. My gut was feeling better. My energy was up and my pain was down. So, when the fogginess and humor in the Chikungunya wore off… I found myself really ticked. And I pushed everyone close to me away. Again. A common theme in my life is rough spots followed by a disappearing act. But, strangely, you cannot disappear from two small children who want your love, and a husband who now understands your routine!

I was still feeling angry and tired, full of loss, and in pain just a week ago. But, because my hubby put love into action, I was at least aware of my sourness! Aware enough that it took one simple night with our wild little girl to get me back into serving and celebrating – meeting the needs of my children and myself… My two-year old wild (look up #lifewithbliss) was up late, as she sometimes is. And I was folding and putting away laundry. It is my favorite mindfulness project: I breathe. I reflect. I pray. I organize. I do it all alone. But on this particular evening, I couldn’t be alone. And instead of finding more reasons to disconnect, I checked in. I checked into my life as a mother. Ms. Bliss began “folding” laundry beside me. She roared with a shark washcloth on her hand. She laughed as she noticed that in our pile, Daddy and her brother had the exact same shirt. She covered herself with already folded laundry, and snuggled her stuffies alongside her. She had little conversations with herself.

My heart soars again sharing this with you.

Love in action is I’ll do what’s best for you regardless of what’s best for me – knowing that I don’t yet always know what is best for me… but God always does. When we act, are we asking for His help? This is what I am reflecting on as I make my commitments to myself this September 1st.

We won’t move without you. We won’t move without you. We won’t move without you.

Peace & Love, friends. Put love into action. Ask for His help. And know that you are not alone.

The Summer of Self-Love

Last week, after watching a YouTube video by the inspiring Tony Robbins, I realized two things: 1. The day before might have been the first time in the history of my life that I had prayed specifically for myself; and 2. Everything – your entire world and what you co-create – starts with love. And love, starts with you.

These were pretty powerful realizations for someone who shouts self-love from the rooftops! Just because I offer myself random acts of kindness, which I do, does not mean that I am truly loving and honoring myself and my adventure every single day. In what I have claimed as “The Summer of Self-Love”, it means that YES, I am going to boldly love myself (I just bought myself my FIRST brand new bicycle of adulthood), and I will focus on the number 90. 90% that is. If my well is not at least 90% full when I wake up each morning, I will seek out ways to fill it. We best love others when we love ourselves, first.

So, in putting the 90 rule out there, I am stepping into a gray zone. What does it mean to be 90% full? Does that mean that I stop, drop, and yoga when I’m feeling less than? Do I pause to pray for myself as soon as I feel on the brink of 89? Do I cancel plans last minute, because healing is my priority – and I cannot serve well without being at my best?? I have to honestly say that I don’t know yet. I just know that I will be taking my “temperature” without being sick. I will be focusing on full instead of wallowing on empty. I believe that this summer is going to be absolutely amazing! This summer is going to be the best summer of my life. And next summer will be even better. And all the spaces in between and far beyond are going to look so very different than they have before.

As our pastor said this week, what if we just prayed and obeyed? This definitely applies to The Summer of Self-Love. It also applies to motherhood, entrepreneur life, and healing from autoimmune. Pray and obey. Simple, sweet, and extraordinary. Lives change when we are brought to our knees.

I look forward to sharing The Summer of Self-Love’s perspective with with my team tonight. It’s such a blessing to be on the path of fearless health, and feel completely supported. I have much gratitude for being allowed to support their adventures!

Peace & Love,

Jennifer

Please note that for years I have written “fighting autoimmune,” as I share my journey, but since my body already fights itself (that is what autoimmune IS – the immune system attacks itself), I have decided that it is time to take a different approach. I choose love. Love heals all. Let’s heal together.

Freedom

The first time that I shared my story, I was afraid. As a child in pain, all you do is dream of normal. As adult, you either live in your body and own it, try and control it, or run away. I’ve done it all.

I share my story so others might skip to owning it. To finding their version of freedom – little wins or big. When you hand over the reigns (and use the electric can opener instead of the manual) you are one step closer to embracing what is.

Keep sharing, friends. Your story is important. You don’t need to feel alone – because you’re not.

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Project 21

It’s time. It’s time to take my little piece of the world by storm with prayers and praises. It’s time, not to clean my mind, but my heart. God is good, and this journey of being physically fit rests in His hands. A simple stretch asked to be guided by God is better than a marathon run without. Leaning is such an essential act of self-care. To recognize self reliance as unnecessarily burdensome, the first step.

So, in being three years post my 365 day complaint-free challenge, I’m starting again with 21 days. It takes 21 days to break a habit. So, start loving and leaning more with me. Any time. Any day. Just do it. Your body -which harbors all – will thank you.

Love The One You’re With

Just a few weeks ago, our pup popped my son’s first ball. It was a Mickey ball. And this Friday, I have a wrap party. So, why am I sharing this??

Seemingly insignificant, these events represent the Next Chapter. That Mickey ball was the one I bent over to pick up the day my back blew out. My forced-reality check. And Friday’s wrap party? Well, somehow, I ended up connecting with the woman who strapped me to the backboard that day. My EMT. I believe that these two events are reminders of how blessed I am today… to walk, to be here – at home – with my two precious babies.

God doesn’t bring you to something that he doesn’t intend to bring you through. Sometimes, the leaning is just what we needed most. Do you need to lean more?? A fitness journey may start in the physical body, but remembrance of that body as a gift, a temple, is absolutely necessary for long term results.

Today, thank your body for all it can do. Because to love your body, changes everything.

The Last Run

I’ve never been a runner. Yet, when someone says you can’t do it… doesn’t that make you want to just a little bit more??

As I hang up my running shoes (I’m not trading them for orthodics yet… lol), I want to reflect on the things that autoimmune has never taken away from me:

  1. Love
  2. Self-respect
  3. Friendships – actually it’s given me way more than I could have imagined
  4. Truth – I’ve weeded out a lot of “junk” from my life (thoughts, expectations, and icky food)
  5. Plants!!! – they best “medicine”
  6. FAITH
  7. My beautiful family

What have your challenges NOT taken away? Have your struggles given you anything??

Shanti.

Green Muffins

I awoke this morning in a profound state of love. For those of you who know me, or read my blog, you may think that this is often the case. It’s not. I – just like most other human beings “doing” life instead of “being” in life – get caught up in the great struggle of love versus fear. And I’m not ashamed of saying it! I am human. So are you.

As a mother and wife with chronic pain, and an autoimmune disharmony, my greatest challenge arises from an unnecessary sadness and discontent with “what is.” Note the word unnecessary. It’s all a part of my path and God’s plan. Embracing that with love, drives out the fear (of the unknown, the pain, and the potential difficulties that may be ahead in the day).

Something that helps me to embrace it all (life and motherhood) with love, are simple acts of self-nurture. This weekend I wrapped away my worries with a plant-based body wrap. And yesterday I made delicious little kale muffins. I ate one for breakfast with sunflower seed butter this morning.

Green Muffins

  • 2 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 white onion
  • 12 dates
  • 4 cups of kale
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • rice milk (or another vegan milk source)

Preset oven to 350. Add the dry ingredients together, one-by-one, and pulse in your food processor. Slowly add milk until the contents have a batter consistency. Oil a muffin tin with coconut oil, and fill each mold 3/4 way to full. Bake for 20-25 minutes (average sized muffins). Reduce time by almost half if making mini muffins. To check if done, poke with a knife. When knife is clean, muffins are perfect.

Let cool for ten minutes. Top with seed butter as a lovely breakfast or snack treat.

Makes 10 muffins.

 

Shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace in your heart, peace in your home, and peace for our world. Namaste.