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.

 

The 27 Day Crash

For those of you who are new to my blog, my take is that everything in life is a conversation. Some of those conversations we’ll have face to face, and some will be played out through pen and paper and clicking keys – because it’s just too hard to have this talk any other way.

Dear Mama,

You may be well or unwell or stable or… wait, are any of us really stable? Anyway, we need to be real with each other. I’ll start: There were 9 glorious months of well. And then an epic crash. Epic. As in, I put on my war gear and went into battle for 27 days. You can learn a lot in that amount of time. And by day 25, I was ready to visit my therapist… I needed to talk it out. Fortunate or unfortunate, I forgot that I needed to talk it out and life looked bleak on day 26 and 27. But there would be light (dear friend, there is always light).

After the 27 day crash of 2016 – I’ve found myself back where I started. On my knees. Chronic fatigue is real. And I spend hours of each month (because I usually have 1-2 challenging days each month), researching the why. I feel fortunate to not be Job, yet in these moments I “get” why I feel so compelled to use his story (The Book of Job) for the book I’ve started to write. I might even add some of this to my book. If you are living or have lived in the state of unwell or well, I’m going to remind you that BOTH are impermanent. I heard it ever so clearly as I prayer-walked this morning. Don’t grow roots here. With Chronic Fatigue, with postpartum depression or anxiety, with ANY pain story, you don’t just recover from it. But you aren’t allowed to wade in the mud forever either.

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My sweet mama friend. I encourage you to live your life to the maximum amount of “stable” you can, and then you give yourself grace for being human. You are human. So am I. Praise God for that, my dear. I don’t want that kind of responsibility – and I doubt you do either!

If you haven’t Chronic Fatigued, then I’m going to break this down for you. I wrote this recently on my personal facebook page, where I live out some advocacy on “atypical motherhood” with like hearts…

Most folks assume chronic fatigue means you’re just tired. When reading or responding to a text message from someone you ADORE feels exhausting, there’s something wrong. I’m not just tired. Physiologically, my systems don’t keep up with normal life. Most likely they’re fighting an invisible long gone virus. The worst fights are when a real virus or infection comes along though. It’s all out war. The World Health Organization has considered that CF should be renamed SEID: systemic exertion intolerance disease. Link those words together and you’ll get a glimpse into my world. My systems (all of them) get overused in any way, and I will crash. My body and mind will become uncomfortably slow. Read that again! I’m not slow. I am actually absurdly smart. A geek if you must!! But our conversations probably won’t be remembered or make sense when I’m in a crash. Sometimes I even slur my words. And my emotions? It’s not a good place.

I’ll end here. Sometimes, I’m not in a good place, but STILL God. Is. Good. And so is THIS adventure. It’s one where I get to learn from suffering and pain, and share what I’ve learned. I get to sit with others who have been on the pain path and I still get to experience long time periods of being pain free. I get to move with others who want to work it all out. (So thankful for the gift of movement – especially after 27 days of 5 minutes here and there.)

Ask me anything. You shouldn’t go this alone. We don’t have to go this alone. Bend; breathe; and let your soul be restored.

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15 NIV

Love,
Mama J.

How To Get Everything Done

Dear Wild,

Someday, you might just have a business of your own. Or maybe for reasons other than changing lives or paying the bills,  you will crave “getting all the things done,” but there will come a day or many days that it seems impossible. Let me advise you today, that business ownership is for everyone (especially the attention-shy wild one and the mama who feels so very hopeless about her world) and that you can get all the things done.

But not all in the same day.

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This is a picture of my wild, naked, knife-wielding sensory processing miracles and self care all in one. Sometimes on really incredible days, I can actually combine two of my priorities – and everybody wins. Refuse to go to bed feeling like a failure. Because you aren’t.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I was blessed to sit in a room full of business leaders and pastors. Me. A stay at home, work at home, leggings-as-pants-wearing mama bear. And, while I missed you every single moment my sweet and exhausting child, I was given fruits for my labors times ten. The fruit for working hard these last two years – with you – was listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about balance.

Wild, we’ve been fooling ourselves! We can get all the things done. Just not all in the same day. Something is going to slide each day, as Jakes put it. “Just don’t let it be the same thing two days in a row.” Boom. That was GOLD. So, let me think out loud for a moment here. This means that…

  • if today we only read one book, mama can make it up and read you five tomorrow
  • you watch an extra show today so that I can pay the bills (aka work next to you) we can go television-free tomorrow
  • we eat organic, vegan, gluten free ice cream for dinner tonight – I can make a fabulous paleoish, green-filled dish for us all to enjoy on Saturday night

and I can do all the things and do it guilt-free. (If you’re a mama reading this right now, I beg of you to do life guilt-free with me!)

What Bishop Jakes did not touch upon is the essential foundation for BAU, or business as usual, is… (wait for it) priorities. There are priorities and necessities and wants that make you the best version of yourself. Today, I want you to ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What is a daily priority? For me, It’s God, my family, and my well-being. The first one is always first; the second two are interchangeable in order depending upon the day.
  2. What helps me focus on my priorities first? I call this my oxygen tank. What is filling me up so that I can focus? I am the mother of a sensory processing child; a seeker; a child that has anxiety and OCD – and quite honestly, I’ve never been quite so great at focusing either. My go-to’s include: a good cup of tea; great jams (usually worship music), comfy and cute clothes (I really, really hope to go the sustainable route super soon… I’ll share when it comes); patience; presence; and an easily accessible source of dark chocolate. For real, the chocolate needs to be like Right. There.
  3. What do I feel guilty about? Can I let it go, and sing “There’s always tomorrow” with Ms. Annie herself? If not, should this be added to my daily Top Three priority list? I (somehow) am walking around with so little guilt right now, I don’t have an example for this one. But one that I did have guilt over was having a nanny four years ago when I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t walk because I didn’t take care of myself. And that was all on me. So, I changed it. My well-being is a Top Three priority. And it will stay that way.

I’m going to end here, sweet wild baby – and friends who will someday have names attached to likes – with a verse to reflect on. Trust that you’re choosing right, because of who you are trusting in. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Love,
Mama J.