fellowship of hand surfers

as i’ve been driving around on this weekend, this weekend in which we’ve been blessed with exquisite weather for kicking off into summer, i’ve noticed the small sign of kindred spirits extended out car windows.

i watch for these hands fingering the breeze, twisting and turning into configurations against the wind. each one has their own style. some have a simple spread of the fingers as the current slips between digits. others cup their hand and ride the currents up and down. others are multitasking as they tap or shake a beat into the winds.  is hand surfing an acquired act or is it something that each of us born with this trait brings to organic fruition? is your hand surfing style a sort of fingerprint? maybe no one out there hand surfs in quite the same way…

and i assure you not everyone does it. not everyone is driven to extend his or her hand out into the air while on the road. we’re a select crowd. a small population that really has no chance of meeting anywhere else but on the road. occasionally i’ll pass another hand surfer. i feel confident in my feeling that there is no need for a wave, for we already have our hands out connecting in the way that seems most appropriate. sometimes i’ll pull up alongside another driver with his hand out and i’ll feel the small twinge of solidarity and know there is no need to even take the other driver in. we are already displaying the most important part of ourselves.  once, a few days ago, i was fortunate enough to be the 4th car in a line of hand surfers and i think that was the closest to free that i’ve felt in a long time.

for i know a little bit about who that person is inside by that simple extended hand. i know what they are reaching out for as they ride down the street. it’s that little bit of freedom. it’s the small, hibernating piece of our childhood that still believes that someday we’ll spread our wings and fly away. it’s a bit of rebellion that at least a part of us can be riding on the wind, even for a little while. it’s nostalgia taken human form.

as we head off into summer, i’m so thankful to see this fellowship of hand surfers out there on the roads. i realize that this is a piece of my childperson uncovered. riding down the road with my hand out of the window of the car would be my quintessential act of summertime. it sums it all up for me in a way that nothing else can: freedom, fresh air, sunshine, travel. a literal throw of caution to the wind.

and thank you to all of you kindred spirits out there for helping me usher in summer. i will look for you every memorial day weekend from now until the end of my driving days.

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did you know your pregnancy comments are a body conversation?

i’ve had a lot of time to sit on some thoughts and feelings about this subject for a couple of months now… since right about the time i started getting a belly.

so, late pregnancy starts to really show you how many conversational freaks there are out there in the world. people start saying, and sometimes shouting from the other side of the street, odd comments about your growing frame. for some reason these statements have put me more on my guard than my first pregnancy. i think a good deal about the way i feel women’s bodies are treated and discussed has changed within me since my pregnancy with darla. i have a few thoughts to put out there for you to ponder, should you choose:

i think there is some kind of drive within people that makes them want to connect with pregnant mothers. we all want to connect with life. i wholeheartedly believe this drive stems from a good place, a human place, but society at large seems to be lacking in some tools for communicating with women about this life change, probably due to the aforementioned undercurrent of negativity we have going on towards women’s bodies.

the majority of comments i get from people, strangers and not, are negative. these comments are about my size, how tired i look, “you’re about to pop” or “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” and other things of various negative connotations. i think i can tell you with 100% certainty that no woman, pregnant or not, has ever been happy to hear she looks big or tired or about to pop.

and let me state two other things i know as a fact: 1. in the scheme of pregnant ladies, i’m on the smaller end. yes, i look big for my frame but i know i’m not big enough for people to assume i’m carrying twins. 2. i’m a happy pregnant lady. i am embracing this bigness. I LIKE my roundness and LOVE this body fullness. i’m clearly not shy about it since i put in on the gawddamned internet every week, so i’m imagining that if it’s hard for me to let these comments roll off then how does the mother who really doesn’t like how her body is changing in pregnancy or the extremely shy mother feel about these unwarranted remarks?

i feel most people forget that these comments are still body conversations and those should never be initiated by a person other than the body owner.

i find it so odd that people think pregnancy is an automatic open door to make negative remarks about another human’s physique. i mean, i’ve never thought of walking up to a person in a wheel chair and saying “wow, really can’t use those legs, can you?” or a person with a large nose and saying “you’re nose is SO BIG. you must be so uncomfortable!”  and then i’d absolve myself of any wrong by adding a quick “it’s not rude of me to say that, right?”

i want to offer up some tools. i talk with pregnant women, a lot. A LOT. and i am a pregnant woman. i will tell you one thing that is always acceptable to say:  you look beautiful. let’s just stick with telling pregnant women they look beautiful. ok?

and maybe you don’t feel that way. maybe you don’t feel pregnant ladies are all glowy and radiant. that is fine! you don’t have to say anything at all. you don’t! we aren’t expecting it!

or here’s another idea if you’re wanting to initiate a pregnancy related conversation with an expectant mother: ask her how she’s feeling. it’s so refreshing when i receive that depth of communication from another human. you can just ask a woman how she’s feeling and let her tell you where she’s at with her body changes. we’re circling back to that body ownership thing again. let HER be the one to tell you she’s tired. let HER be the one to tell you she’s big. Let HER be the one to tell you she fears there may be another secret human in there. i think if we treated women with this kind of respect we’d all feel much more at ease with how organic these conversations can be.

maybe i’m a little sensitive to this because this experience seems parallel to other body conversations i’ve had to fend off for the better part of my life. part of the reason that i like my big belly is that something on my body finally dwarfs my enormous breasts that people seem to think are in the free realm of conversation. since i was 15 people have been making comments to me about my boobs. i’ve navigated that in many different ways at different phases of my life and now i’ve put a finger on this similarity between pregnancy and my breasts. strangers comment, women ask for permission to touch them in bathrooms, gay men don’t even ask for permission they just do it {sorry, just my personal experience} and i’ve had all variations from hetero men as well.

and i can’t rationalize that as much as the pregnancy talks. i know the common thread here is that women’s bodies seem to be part of the public sphere and not the private. and i can’t change that. but i feel that if our bodies are going to be part of the public conversation forum then i can do a small something to change it into POSITIVE communication instead of negative.

i will tell my pregnant friends they are beautiful. i will ask pregnant strangers how they are feeling. i will let other women tell me how THEY feel about THEIR bodies and i will listen with respect.

because that is what i feel mothers and women deserve.

this can’t be that blog

i’ve been blogging now for quite some time. my voice has ebbed and flowed along the way but at the current moment i feel strong in my narratives with this blog. i spend a good deal of time looking at blogs around these interwebs and have a handful of regular reads. my interests for blogs seem to be wide-reaching but in essence they’re all the same: mom blogs. or lady blogs. there are so many blogs out there, i get excited when i stumble upon a new one that i actually like and feel a connection with.

and i get bummed when i stumble upon one that i think is gonna be great…because it looks great…pretty pics and whatevs…and then the content is severely lacking. the blogs i feel the most connected to are the ones that really tell the story of the person behind the pages. i don’t dig blogs filled with DIYs and recipes. do people really read blogs for those things? don’t get me wrong, the blogs i follow most closely include those things occasionally but the meat of it lies in the writing and the storytelling. that’s the purpose of a personal blog, right?

well, to each his/her own. i guess i have no authority to make sweeping judgements about what should and should not go into a personal blog. i am voicing my preference and where my connections lie.

and i know that even though things like DIYs and product reviews can make a blog successful, this can’t be a blog like that. this space is here for me to tell my story. maybe this space can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

but it can be my cup of tea.  i’m not ashamed to say i really love creating this blog. i feel like i’m just starting to scratch the surface of giving what i can to these words and posts. i look back at my posts from certain points over the years and wonder “who was that person? where was my voice?” and it reminds me of how lost i’ve been at times on this journey. i’m thankful to feel grounded and confident in putting myself out there at this point in time and i want to capture that. whether it be by exposing my blossoming belly or my burgeoning soul, i’m going to put ME in these posts.

and i hope that in years to come i’ll look back and be so much more proud of that than i would have entries about cheese dip.

although…i do have a great recipe for cheese dip…

{and as always, thanks for reading and allowing me to tell my story. i hope i’ve not let either of us down thus far.}

this is for me

this is a reminder. it’s a reminder that this space is for me.

i know many of the people who are a part of my non-internet based life are not supportive of this blog and my efforts in writing it. and that is ok. because this is a reminder that i don’t write this blog or keep this space for them. i keep this blog for me.

this may be the only place in my life over which i have complete control. i can decide what it should look like. i can decide what to share. i decide what i want to remember and i can put an extended piece of myself into these pages. i have an outlet for creativity and thought in the midst of a life that feels like it’s comprised mostly by mundane house chores and fulfilling the wants and needs of tiny people. i like writing this blog. and i’ve fortunately been brought up in such a way as to know that if i like doing something then i can go ahead and keep on doing it.

i realize how silly it is to go through life taking selfies of outfits and millions of pictures of my daughter. but i don’t really care! because the truth is that if i didn’t take any pictures of me then no one else would. it’s really easy to feel invisible in your own life as a stay-at-home mom. i don’t want to feel invisible in my own life. i’m very much an active participant. and guess what, i like myself and i want some record of how i looked and felt and what i dreamed about while folding laundry and driving to dance classes.

so, i’m going to keep on doing it. i like writing and i like sharing.  and occasionally someone in the real world tells me how much they enjoy following and yeah, that feels so freaking cool. i’m not going to lie about that. it’s a nice ego boost. but i have to remember that if they like it then that is for them. it speaks for them. not for me. if something i put down in these words reaches out and grabs something in another human then i’m not responsible for what was inside them that whole time. it’s simply a mutual appreciation. and i’m thoroughly grateful to those of you who’ve reached out over the years and expressed a mutual appreciation over some of the things i’ve put down in this space.

i’ve been going back through this blog in the past week cleaning out old posts and re-reading some of what i put here. some of it i’m not so proud or enthused about. i think that most of those times i was getting away from what the purpose of this blog is supposed to be. but there is so, so much that i’m very proud of, so much that i’m glad is here for others and for my family to maybe go through some day and remember the simply beautiful existence we were entrusted with together.

so, yeah, this is a reminder. and this reminder isn’t for you. it’s for me. it’s a reminder TO ME that this space is FOR ME.

and that makes me so completely lucky to be able to share it with other wonderful humans.

getting reconnected

 nature hike baby belly

until this past week of glorious weather i had no idea how essential being out of doors would be for me to feel connected to this pregnancy. 

being outside has always been an essential part of my well-being, i think. i remember choosing hours of play outside over television or indoor play. in my motherhood, i’ve tried to get darla outside and into the wild as much as possible. i feel more at peace outside and my brain functions differently than when i’m cooped up inside.

beginning this pregnancy at the start of this very long, harsh winter was pretty rough on me. darla was a january baby born in a slightly warmer climate so i was out and about for the first 2 trimesters with her and still pretty active during the last trimester, heck we even walked down to the Obama inauguration 2 weeks before I was due. it seemed a little more normal to have lots of activity in early pregnancy and to hunker down a bit more during the last stretch. having the opposite happen with this pregnancy has not been easy.

i don’t function so well indoors. i get a little crazed about organization and overwhelmed by how many items are in our household. i have it in my heart hopes that i’ll move to a warmer climate someday that allows for outdoor adventure year round. but let’s bring it back to the fact that this week has shifted me back into focus for preparing for this birth.

so we’ve been out every day since it’s been possible. i can say without a doubt that sunshine, fresh air and green living things are going to be quite necessary for me to bring this baby into this world. and now i’m feeling oh so happy to be having a summer baby.

 mocs on walks

i’ve gotten my mocs out on walks. alone. it seems essential to my spiritual being to spend time alone in nature. i think it’s always been part of my personal faith practices to spend time alone in the wilderness, contemplating the small habitats of the tiny creatures juxtaposed to the vastness of the earth and the heavens. it’s important to my spiritual being to feel connected to it all. i just find that hard to do cooped up inside walls.

i feel it all coming together and it feels good. the reawakening of the earth is resonating deep inside me and i feel more connected now than ever before. how wonderful it was to feel this life quicken and grow inside me just as the earth started to do the same. how wonderful to feel this baby gain strength and see my belly bloom just as the blossoms appear in our world. and i can only imagine how wonderful it will feel to have life burst forth at just about the time when all life in the northern hemisphere is at its peak.

i’m so thankful that the world within me is connected to the world without me.

 

 

on this day when i didn’t like being a mom

am i really cut out for this?

these days of struggling and tiredness mount up on one another, leaving me feeling drained and daunted by the question of whether i’m really cut out for being a mom.

i find managing a family and a household to be utterly exhausting mentally. i’m at home in my independence and keeping the family plates spinning in the air is something that leaves me feeling endlessly inadequate. my inner mountain lioness wants to slink away and reclaim my status as a solo being. this feels like a wretched place to be emotionally residing when a new life is growing inside me.

how can i facilitate some attached independence? how can i make a little space in my life just for me? how can i accomplish all that i want to do when all i have are snippets of time and endlessly interrupted thought patterns?

please know you don’t have to provide these answers. i just need to get them out there. maybe you feel the same way. maybe you’ve worked through this yourself. i’ll figure out my way. i know i will. just thank you for letting me put this out there and accepting it as is.

that was the wrong thing to say

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the past couple years of my life have really opened my eyes to just how often people, myself being my most studied person in this hypothesis, say the wrong thing.

because the problem is in the saying.

i’ve always been a loquacious being. i talk too much most of the time. it took me a really long time, about 30 years, to learn that what most people need is for someone to listen. birth work has really helped me work on this skill. i have to say that it’s improved my marriage, my ability to help women in pregnancy and it’s starting to seep into other areas of my life as well.

my confession is that i’ve been attending a support group for almost 2 years now. in a good support group a member is able to share his or her thoughts, feelings, current life troubles and other members simply listen. no one tries to solve your problems for you. no one offers you advice. no one even really comments about what you’ve shared. people simply listen. being in this environment for the past couple of years has really helped me examine how i behave as an active listener to fellow humans.

i’ve found that when i feel pulled the most to open my mouth to give the world my answers is when i need to quiet down the most. more often than not, those are the times there is something going on that i really need to hear. i just have to listen deeper.

because when someone is depressed they don’t want to hear your advice about how they should fix it. they want you to listen. in the listening you are saying “i’m sorry you’re going through this but i’ll be here for you anyway.”  when someone is sharing a past traumatic experience they don’t want you to offer your opinion on how to process that life event. they want you to listen. because by sharing and retelling their life they are slowly doing the work of healing.  what people really want is the dignity to work through something on their own with friends by their side. it’s powerful to come to realizations on one’s own. it’s more powerful to do that while a friend’s hand rests gently and quietly on your back. sometimes we don’t know all the things we know until we have to tell them to another human being.

and that’s the kind of listener i want to be. i don’t want to be the person with all the answers. i want to be the sounding board that gets to quietly observe my friends discover the answers on their own. i want to listen with my heart and not my head. my head is that busy place with thoughts criss-crossing and hurdling over one another. my heart is that quiet place. my heart is still and peaceful and sure. i want to listen with my heart. and i want that from others as well.