Friday, October 10, 2014


(this was our "no kids" look)

Erik and I returned this week from the trip of a lifetime in Paso Robles, California. We were childless thanks to the amazing support of our family. We went for one of my Best Friend's wedding so we were also with all of my other best friends as well.

This trip was wrought with anticipation and anxiety (from me only, not Erik). Having not ever having left our children for this long before and flying across the country made me feel nervous to be separated from them. I was also worried about what would happen if Erik and I both died (we are so rarely together alone that this doesn't come up much). Anyway, I am a bit type A and a planner so in my head I had to have all of this worked out.

The trip was AMAZING, perfect company, perfect location, perfect events, just wonderful- oh and we didn't die!!. I truly enjoyed myself and had FUN. I tend to be a content and peaceful person, but all-out happiness and fun is something that tends to feel elusive to me (I am working on it;) Being a parent is rewarding, enlightening, and occasionally enjoyable, but there is always the undercurrent of anxiety about the heaviness of raising humans that zaps the fun and happiness out of my day to day life. To have a chance to let loose and know that my children were well taken care of and not my responsibility for 5 days was just such a release.

I am not a drinker, it often ends badly for me so I have just abstained for most of my adult life for fear of regret. On this trip I drank wine (and lots of it- I mean we were in California- it is a rule!). Not enough to feel miserable, but enough for me to RELAX, actually the fact that I drank wine is because I relaxed, (relaxing is not something I am normally very good at). I enjoyed peoples company, I laughed until I peed (thanks 3 kids;). In essence, I felt care free.  Not drinking, for me, has been about fear of losing control I guess. So I actually feel that it is part of my evolution as a relaxed person to have some drinks here and there!!

As we returned home and back to our "real lives", I am struck by how hard I make everything at home. I don't have to be so serious. I can relax at home. I don't have to make myself busy. I don't have to live from my fears. I will admit, I am keeping track of ebola, but really there are a bazillion other things to be scared of as well- your brain with the aid of the news, just decides which thing it will focus in on today. All you have to do is look back in time and realize- now it is global warming, but in the 80's it was acid rain. Now it is Ebola, but 3 years ago it was H1N1. Now it is the fear of pesticides in our food, but in the 20's it was not having enough food. Now it is ISIS but in the 80s it was Russia. Fears are replaceable, it is my mind that chooses to latch on to a particular fear and clutch to it with all it's might with the thought that somehow being fearful can allow me to maintain some control over my circumstances. Fear is NOT true!!! And guess what? Control is an illusion!!

I have a crazy statement to make- I AM GOING TO DIE!! Hopefully, not today, but one day it will happen. It is unlikely that I will look back when I am on my death bed and think- "gosh, it is so awesome that I was so careful and fearful about so much stuff and never let anything bad happen to myself". No, my life review will be highlighting the moments that I looked into Erik's eyes for support during my labor with Anna, the times my daughter snuggled up in my arms, the time that Ryan told me I was beautiful, when Reid gave me that rare spontaneous hug. Like Dori in Finding Nemo expressed "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him, then nothing would ever happen to him." The same could be said about ourselves and how we parent our children. I hope I don't have any regrets, but I can assure you any regrets I have will be for the things I missed out on because of fear.

I believe we are placed on this earth to let our light shine. We need to notice our fears as they arise but then also let them know that we are not going to cater to them. We need to see our fears for what they are- a reflection of the fear of the child we used to be. We need to give ourselves a hug and say all is well. Tell your fear- "I got this". Fear is not adding value to our life. We have a limited number of days on this earth, what a gift to ourselves (and really the entire world) to live each one in a state of openness and peace:) What a gift to be present in your everyday life instead of waiting to find happiness when...

I pray for the strength and courage to live without fear, and that by doing this, my children can learn this lesson too. And so it is. Now we can all go sing Kumbaya:)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nothing in Particular

I have always liked writing. I have dabbled in blogging over the years and kept a gratitude journal for a while. Every time I have emotional disturbances in my life, writing helps me sort it out. I also decided to start blogging again because recently, I realized that what I love most in the world is connecting with people on a deep and meaningful level. I have chosen a job where I get to do that on a regular basis. I get to connect with mothers who many times are just facing the realization that having a baby is oh so much more than your birth, so much more than picking out cute bedding and buying lots of fun stuff. These moms have just started to ride the edge of sanity that is becoming a new mother. The reality hits hard when you get your first taste of what it really means to care for a needy little creature 24/7 who does not follow a schedule, doesn't appear particularly grateful for what you have just put your body through, screams a lot, and hopefully (if I have done my job right), has lots of bodily fluids to clean up. I LOVE these mothers. I want to take them into my arms and say "This is pretty much the hardest thing you will ever do, it is okay to not feel grateful 100% of the time!", to have occasional thoughts of "What the hell did I get myself into?!", or even feeling mad at the baby because you aren't asking for much after all- just 5 minutes in the shower or 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep!!. This too shall pass, I PROMISE!!

I handled my first baby well (I think, I actually have 4 months of amnesia where I have absolutely NO recollection of what went on). I don't recall any major trauma, my birth was not what I had dreamed it would be, but at the same time, I felt confident that what went down needed to go down that way (planned home birth turning into a hospital transfer and eventual c-section after a long labor due to poorly positioned baby). I always felt at peace with my experience.

After my second child was born (my dream birth, unmedicated VBAC), I dealt with some postpartum depression although my predominant negative emotion was anxiety. I didn't feel sad, but numb with panic attacks sprinkled in, so it took me a while to identify that this was indeed postpartum depression. I remember going to my OB/GYN for my pap smear when my baby was 6 months old, being sooo high strung that I couldn't even relax enough for my milk to let down to feed my baby. A breast exam is pretty much impossible when your breasts are engorged with milk!! I told her, I couldn't sleep, I was having panic attacks, and  I needed help!! She looked at me and said "You are going to be okay, we can tell when people aren't and you are going to be okay". I did NOT feel okay, and she humored me by sending me home with prescriptions for ambien, xanax, and zoloft.

I never took the zoloft, but carried it around in my wallet for months and months (probably expired) just in case.  The ambien helped me sleep a couple of times, but one night I stayed awake all night after taking it and I never took it again. A person suffering from anxiety can NOT handle staying awake after having just taken a sleeping pill!! What helped the most was 1 xanax before bed. I only had to take it a few times and never finished the bottle, but it would chill me out enough to allow me to fall asleep. On paper, it doesn't look like it was that bad, but let me tell you, I have never felt so terrible in my life. I couldn't laugh, I couldn't cry, I didn't even know what joy was, I would obsess about scary things happening, and there were so many nights when I would stay awake all night wracked with panic attacks.

As time went on, I started to learn what my triggers were and how to manage it. At the same time, I did A LOT of spiritual work and A LOT of research about anxiety. I lived and breathed Echkart Tolle's books The Power of Now and A New Earth which explained a lot about the psychology of what was happening and introduced me to my ego and my pain body. In addition, I read numerous books on anxiety especially in women and books on Buddhism and meditation- I wanted to understand what this was because after all,  I was VERY sane and this shouldn't have happened to me. These books were my life line and helped me learn how to handle the panic attacks when they happened and eventually, notice when I was being triggered before I would actually have a panic attack so I was able to prevent some of them.

In a nutshell, what I learned was we all have our neurons lined up a certain way. Any big stressor or major life change can amplify these patterns and give your brain a fast track to your fight or flight response. Before, what may have taken a pretty big event like a bear chasing you, can now can be triggered by nothing in particular.

The more I learned about what was happening, the easier it became. I truly do believe medication can be life saving and necessary people. I wouldn't have hesitated to take something had these patterns re-emerged after I had Anna. But they didn't... I am not sure if I did such a good job doing "the work" that I was able to bypass it, or if postpartum depression is random, or if maybe when I hit menopause and my hormones go crazy it will all come back. What I do know is that what I have learned changed my life and I LOVE talking about it. If we learn the skills to cope during these hard times we can even amplify the beauty in the easier times. I feel like I live a more enriched life now because of the skills I learned during that time.

I think that is why I am drawn to new moms and all moms. I want them to know I never thought I would be one of those women who had postpartum depression, but I did and it was the hardest time I have experienced in my life thus far. It is hard to reconcile that during a time when you "should" just feel grateful and joyous for being blessed with this sweet baby, instead you are screaming inside. I just want any mom out there who is feeling similar to know that you are not alone and I am always happy to listen.


Thursday, August 28, 2014


Erik is out of town. The last time he went out of town, there was a day when I totally lost my marbles, I acted no better than my children act with each other. It was embarrassing, guilt provoking, and humbling.

This time I swore, I would not do that again. I would remain cool, calm and centered.

6 year-old Ryan had a stomach bug this weekend but had been 24 hours without any "incidents" by Monday morning so I sent him on his merry way to school with the instruction to let his teacher know if he doesn't feel well. I got a call at noon from the clinic stating Ryan wasn't feeling well. I immediately felt guilty like I shouldn't have sent him to school, but reminded myself that I followed directions. As we got into the clinic, I see that sweet shiny face smile up at me a perkily exclaim "Hi mommy!". Hmmmm... I may have said "Hi" back, or I may have just said- "You don't look like you feel sick" to which he replied, "I am just happy to see you!" Shenanigans I tell you... I took him home and bored him to death by making him watch Super Soul Sunday with me and only allowing him to eat BRAT diet things. Didn't want him to get the wrong idea about missing school.

The next day he woke up cranky. My sweet child Ryan is tricky, he is the sweetest most affectionate kid you could ever meet, but when he doesn't want to do something, he will NOT do it. This is what usually triggers Erik and I. What does a wannabe conscious parent do when your child flat-out defies you??... So instead of fighting him, I got him dressed (literally), and held his hand to the bus stop. He went to school without too much of an issue and the day remained school-nurse-call-free. That evening was soccer practice. There is a running discussion in our house about whether Ryan actually likes soccer or whether he does it because Reid plays and Daddy loves it. Reid lights up when he plays soccer, you can TELL he is enJOYing it. Ryan that night,  was acting like it was the last thing in the world he wanted to do, he was letting other kids go in front of him so he didn't have to kick, goofing off, moping around etc. I had to run back and forth a few times to get Reid to his practice but we got through the night and Ryan half-way participated.

Wednesday comes around and Ryan seems okay in the morning but is still showing some reluctance to get ready and do what he needs to do. He told me he didn't want to go to school, to which I explained that he didn't really have a choice in the matter.

The kids have a short day on Wednesday. They got home and we lazed around the house watching HGTV. I took turns snuggling with each child and felt like we were connecting. At some point everyone turned on me!! Reid was mad because (a YEAR ago) we decided to give him $5 a week instead of $1 per year of age for allowance, so he proceeded to blame me that he would never save up enough money to buy whatever it is he is trying to save up for. At some point there was an altercation between Ryan and Reid where Ryan ended up in his room, and then Anna started screaming at me too- oh and I was cooking dinner when this all went down. I told everyone to go outside or clean the house (this was very effective;). Ryan stayed in his room screaming, Anna walked in there and Ryan slammed the door. Next thing I know, I hear Anna screaming and Ryan saying "can I have a hug?" "Can I have a hug?" Reid had gone in to check on them and I look up to see Ryan is hugging Anna around her belly forcibly against her will and then I LOST it!! I screamed LET GO OF HER, YOU WILL HURT HER!! To which Ryan started screaming also and yelling "YOU SCARED ME!!" Eventually, I told Ryan to go take a shower because he was going to bed early. Reid also was told to take a shower. I finally got dinner served and everyone had calmed down by this point. At the table I told the kids that I do not know how to be a good Mommy. That they just hand you this sweet little angel of a child and you are charged with the responsibility of caring for this baby as well as ensuring they always do the right thing AND they become successful. I explained that this is hard stuff. I told them I get frustrated too and feel the same way they do a lot. Reid then generously pointed out that I also forgot to say "please" earlier. It was my way of leveling with them and though I didn't directly apologize for yelling, it was an explanation. After dinner I brushed Ryan's teeth and got him in bed to read a book (it was about 6:30). Ryan went to bed without a fuss and we read a chapter of a book.

Anna came in at some point while I was reading to Ryan and climbed on the bed and wedged herself between us. Ryan again asked her for a goodnight kiss and apparently Anna thinks kissing with your mouth closed is only for boo boos. She stuck her tongue out and went to "kiss" Ryan and then me. This got me giggling like I haven't in a long time. Ryan got this look of wonder on his face and said "I have never heard you laugh like that". Whoah!! That got me. How is it that I so rarely express joy in this way? I do think I am kind of funny some times, I enjoy good humor (even bad humor), but I don't express happiness and carefree joy very often. Oprah recently commented that she is "content" but not often happy. That is how I feel. It feels so good when when I am in joy and happiness.

I am doing the Deepak Chopra and Oprah's 21 day Meditation Experience and this time it is on Happiness. Maybe it is working on me- maybe that is where that belly laugh came from... I don't know, but I am hoping I can find more of it.

Last night, instead of drinking a bottle of wine, which is what I wanted to do, I did some tooling on You Tube. I found some stuff by Gabby Bernstein about manifesting and it led me to her website where I signed in and found a fear release meditation. This meditation was awesome because it allowed me to go back over the day and  become aware of all of the fears I experienced and therefore triggered me. The fear that something was wrong with Ryan because he is still not himself a few days after being sick, the fear that my children will not grow up to be outstanding members of society, the fear that Ryan would hurt Anna, etc. Bringing the fears back up and releasing them in the context of meditation was very helpful to me. If you are like me, you see your kid have a tantrum and quickly you get into a place of resistance and fear. Instead of allowing the emotion to play out, we try to squash it- and lets be honest, what adult doesn't have a good emotional outburst periodically?? Instead of recognizing the emotion for simply emotion, we start to fear that something is wrong with our child, that they will not grow up to be that upstanding, successful, and kind member of society we always envisioned they would be! We expect them to behave better than we do ourselves!!

I spent the next hour watching two videos of Dr. Shefali Tsabury. Part 1 and Part 2. She is turning this parenting thing right on it's head. Her big idea is that our kids are here to grow US up- NOT the other way around. They are here to trigger EVERY SINGLE ONE of our little issues. We have 2 options; get triggered and continue to pass on unconsciousness or get triggered and appreciate what part of ourselves need healing and become aware.

My reaction to my children is NEVER about their behavior, it is about ME!! Most of the time when my children act out, if I am honest, they are reflecting back the emotion I am feeling. Dr. Shefali argues that if we could truly connect to our children on a soul to soul level by realizing our children are equal on a soul level, discipline would be a moot point.

Her talk is very compelling and I intend to continue to study her teachings. We all have children for selfish reasons. We have grand plans about what our relationships will look like with our children, but WOW-  it does NOT look like that in real life. I have acted in ways that I never thought possible when I held those sweet angels in my arms for the first time.

I intend to continue to share my journey on becoming conscious both as a parent and personally.
Here is to growing myself up, finding my joy, and TRULY connecting to my children!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pain Bodies

After I had my second child, I got to know my pain body very well. Eckhart Tolle defines the pain body as "an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a "painbody," an energy entity consisting of old emotion"

I have found this information life changing. Now when I start to feel negativity coming on, part of me is able to watch it and know that this is really just my pain body coming out for a snack. This explains how I can start out the day totally fine and something trivial will send me into a tail spin. 

I have also found this information useful in my parenting. Last night while I was saying prayers with my boys, my six year-old was being silly from the top bunk. He threw his pillow pet at his brother below. He was warned not to do that again, but next thing I know, I got a nailed in the face with said pillow pet. The pillow pet was removed from the room and what ensued turned into a full fledged melt-down that lasted about 20 minutes. I eventually moved my older child into our room so he could go to sleep and told Ryan that he could try again to get his pillow pet back tomorrow. 

He screamed A LOT- with lots of "I want my pillow pet!!!", he even told me "Mommy, you are awful!". 

What was different for me this time was that I didn't get frustrated as I normally would when it is 9:00 and I want to be let off the parenting clock so I can go watch American Idol. This time, I went back in his room and asked how I could help him calm down since he was not getting his Pillow Pet back tonight. The first time I went in, I rubbed his head and he proceeded with the screaming. I told him to let me know when he was ready to calm down, but that would involve him accepting that he wasn't getting the pillow pet back. After a few more minutes, he called for me and I sat with him for a bit, but there was still a lot of pillow pet yelling, so I told him to call me again. I also asked him if his body felt bad right now, he said his body did not feel good. I told him he had the ability to "change the channel" in his brain and think different thoughts. He did not take me up on that suggestion at this time;)

I went out again, and then we heard him open his door, he stormed out and walked to our bedroom, he informed us he was getting his pillow pet- he was again told that he was not getting his pillow pet at this time. So more screaming, but when he went back to his room he closed the door without slamming it which is a HUGE measure of self-control for him. So I went back in scooped him up and tried to snuggle it out of him, he tried to squirm away saying- "I am tired and I want to go to sleep".

I laid down next to him and rubbed his feet and his head. He eventually calmed down and went to sleep. 

I learned a lot from my baby last night. I was able to maintain the consequences for his action, but also be a loving present parent. I was able to recognize his pain body and disassociate it from him so I didn't allow anger to enter into my consciousness and skew my parenting. I saw what my normal reaction would have been and chose another route. I saw that we ALL have experiences with our pain body when we are adults, we just may not have an all out temper tantrum- which honestly might help the pain body exit sooner. We just decide to numb it by eating, drinking alcohol, running, watching tv, or playing Candy Crush. You could replace the sentiment "I want my pillow pet" with "I don't want to pay any more money to fix my car!!" or "I don't want my boyfriend to leave me!!", or "I don't want to be listening to my child scream when I have Downton Abby to watch"!! It is all the same, and the only way we can dissolve the pain body is by watching it, recognizing it, and accepting it. The resistance to the negative feelings we experience, the ignoring, and the numbing only make it come back that much stronger later. 

I hope with all of my heart that I can continue to recognize my own pain body and can help my children recognize theirs. I hope that I can sit with them while they feel it so that they don't build up their pain body. They will have things in their lives that make them feel AWFUL, what would happen if they learn how to just feel the feelings and then release them instead of pushing them down only delaying having to deal with them.