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Day 1/365 – June 26, 2017

Turns out, this whole mama thing is a big deal. It really turns your world upside down. I knew it was going to be challenging to become a mom; I knew I would be sleep deprived, I knew my priorities would change, that my body would never be the same, that time would speed up and that our relationship would be different. I had read lots of blogs and books and had absorbed at least a fraction of the unsolicited advice I’d received as my belly grew. There is a lot I hadn’t thought about, too, though. I didn’t quite realize how awesomely painful it would be to live this journey. It’s not only a matter of suddenly having a child to take care of but also about growing into a completely different person. For me, it’s a person I never imagined myself as, so it’s really been an adventure getting to know her.  I need a place to get it all out. 

I write this as my darling patiently rocks our almost 8-month old to sleep for the night. She’s a sweet little nugget who is probably teething, or entering a “leap”, or is overtired, or…..who knows!? She’s having a moment, and my sweetheart is taking care of it, which makes my heart happy on so many levels. 

I also write this as a fairly bold challenge to myself. I’ve been thinking lately about my writing and where it might have gone off to as I’ve become mama. The answer lies somewhere between laziness, fear and sleep deprivation I’m sure. All of which are just bullshit excuses for not doing something that actually brings me creative joy.  Turns out fueling creative joy leads to having a happy heart and a happy heart means happy mama and if mama ain’t happy……..well, no one is happy. 

So here I am, setting aside just a few minutes of my evening to write. Every. Damn. Day. Beginning now, this Monday, June 26, 2017, I am challenging myself to 365 days of writing. Woah. 

Woah. Can I do this? Yes. Yes I can. I have very low expectations of where this blog will go. I feel as though my other blog still has my identity involved. This one is is just an experiment. I want to get back into writing for my soul, not for an audience, yet. My posts don’t need to be long, or have a point. They may or may not have a picture. Who knows. It might just be jibberish in order to get something posted.  This is just an exercise for me. Thanks for reading if you choose to play along. 

So there. Day 1 is completed. See you tomorrow. 

Mama Be

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40/365 – Hurricane Hangover

While I did drink more than usual this last week, I actually didn’t suffer from any alcohol hangovers. What I’m experiencing now, however… the fatigue and overall struggle to keep my shit together… is making me think I have a hurricane hangover.

I wrote a nice, long post while I was in the midst of the experience that Irma was….just as I was giving it a first editing browse my app crashed. It wasn’t even the power going out yet! I was hunched over, sitting on a cooler so I could keep my phone plugged in (precious, precious battery life while I could still have it!) and trying frantically to find a draft…surely it saved a draft!? Strike one, Irma. It probably had nothing to do with you at all but you’re taking the blame for this one. I can still feel the energy and intensity of the storm but I will probably never be able to recount it like I had done while sitting there in the moment. The power did go out about 2 hours later. I remember realizing that the sunlight that was left wasn’t actually going to help us since the windows were boarded up. It may as well have already been midnight. Time for flashlights. I don’t think I thought about the lost blog post for the rest of the storm…

My first hurricane was intense. Mostly because of the unknown. We had been following the saga of Irma – the largest hurricane out of the Atlantic ever – on all the networks. The Weather Channel had the entire country glued to the adrenaline that we were in the thick of. I was feeling every ounce of the storm energetically. The weight of the stress doubled when I considered protecting my 10-month old. Then tripled with my husband out of town. (Yeah, yeah, we’ll be married soon enough…). When the power went out we lost touch with the direction and pace of the storm which had been moving like molasses and expected to pick up the pace when it made landfall… and where would it make landfall?!? We were right in the path of the storm as it was….would it change now that we weren’t watching?

After a candlelit dinner we all basically agreed that it sounded like a really nasty snow storm outside and went to bed.

The next morning proved that storms do pass, just like everything else in the world. The authorities cleared the bridge to our little island by mid afternoon and we were headed home under partly cloudy skies. We heard there was no power, but needed to see what had happened for ourselves.

Trees. The storm gave the trees a run for their money. A beautiful, old banyon tree fell across the street just before the grandparent’s home. They will be without power for a while. Another beautiful banyon fell in our front yard, narrowly missing the house but blocking our driveway. There is also a large pine in the back yard leaning towards the power line. We don’t have power either. Luckily, one of the grandparent’s rentals does have power so we have a place to stay where we can cool…. both our bodies and food. No TV/wifi (#firstworldproblems) but things are slowly starting to feel normal.

I’m feeling incredibly lucky that we weren’t in the direct path of the eye of the storm. We were so close and I’m still not sure how or why she moved inland the way she did…sparing the entire Tampa Bay Area from mass destruction. I am so saddened when I see the damage done in other parts of Irma’s path. When I left our home on the island I basically expected the very worst. I had to in order to make the decisions I did and bring the things that made sense. It was so likely that we would be displaced for a while… potentially a very long while. I was ready to get good at being a minimalist.

There are so many people facing those circumstances right now, it becomes difficult to complain about where I am currently:

Even without power and a tree blocking my house, I still get to be steps away from a soft surf. We didn’t lose any possessions to flooding or winds. We didn’t find uninhabitable structures when we returned. We have a roof over our heads and a fridge to keep our food cold. I can’t complain.

So why the hurricane hangover??

Well, honestly, it doesn’t feel so bad at the moment. Writing about it and getting myself to the beach to listen to said surf has eased the pain considerably. Gratitude has a way of transforming my attitude. So does nature.

It’s important to recognize the emotion that is coursing through my veins, though. This has been an extremely taxing week of unknown and my body is requesting my mind to be patient with it. Patience can be fleeting in a case of emergency. Almost like she was riding the winds of Irma like a kite surfer. The winds have calmed but the angst was built up enough to last a while. As we put back the parts of our life that I dismantled in order to save from flooding, I must also decompress from the stress that built while life was requiring all of my courage, calm, flexibility, wits and, well…patience.

Preparing my family for complete devastation and loss was a new task for me. Amongst all the other new tasks I’ve encountered over the last year, this one takes the cake by far. I’ve needed a lot of decompression time over the last year as well. It kinda makes sense that I would need it now. It also makes sense that it might take a minute to feel normal again. We don’t even have power yet… nothing feels normal when it’s this hot. We are still sharing space and living out of suitcases. The baby, while an absolute delight and huge trooper throughout, isn’t sleeping well and therefore neither am I. We aren’t eating the most nutritious food but we’re keeping the beer cooler stocked. It is now safe to resume wedding planning but there are a lot of people out there still trying to get back on their feet. The world feels like it’s standing still for us, but I’m perfectly aware of how much is actually going on out there.

In the end, all I can do it stay strong. A friend just texted me: “stay strong, normalcy is around the corner.” It is. I know it’s true.

I speak often of not being able to pour from an empty vessel; how important it is for me to fuel my soul. A hurricane hangover is no different of an obligation but I might use a differ analogy.

When the power goes out in a boarded up house, you want to have the brightest flashlight. Batteries get used and flashlights grow dim. We must either replace or recharge those batteries in order to have enough light!

Sending love and light out to those who were less fortunate than us after hurricane Irma. I can only imagine the emotional rollercoaster you are experiencing. I hope to eventually be strong enough to take part of the burden for you. Stay strong. It may not be as quick, but normalcy is around the corner.

39/365 – Kalplesauce

Yup. Kalplesauce. That’s kale-applesauce for those goofy kiddos that just won’t eat kale on its own (weird, I know…who doesn’t love plain kale?….?)

This recipe is so easy it’s hard to call it a recipe. Please don’t be intimidated. Even if you don’t have any kiddos, it can make a great healthy snack for anyone!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (any kind)

4-6 apples (enough to fill a large blender, chopped is large chunks)

Potentially some apple cider or filtered water

Tools:

Blender (❤️ my vitamix!)

Spatula

Tongs

Cutting board and knife

Mixing bowl

Steam pot

Colander

How to:

De-stem the kale while your water is heating in the steam pot.

Rinse kale thoroughly in the colander.

Add kale to steam pot and steam for 3 minutes (depending on pot size, this may require 2 batches)

When the kale is steamed, remove with tongs and cover with ice and water in the mixing bowl.

While kale is steaming/cooling, chop apples and add to the blender.

Blend until smooth like applesauce. This is where you add cider or water to achieve desired consistency.

Use the colander to strain kale from the ice bath (reserve some of this water).

Pour blended applesauce into mixing bowl, scraping sides thoroughly with spatula.

Add kale to the blender and blend until smooth (adding reserved water if necessary).

Add the kale mixture to the applesauce in the mixing bowl and stir together with the spatula.

Wha-la. Kalplesauce.

For the kiddo, I freeze using an ice cube method: pour into ice cube trays, cover and freeze overnight. Store frozen cubes in freezer bags lined with waxed paper (so’s the plastics don’t poison the foods). I typically reserve a few portions in the fridge in glass jars for the next few days. I figure one portion of kalplesauce is enough greens for the day when you weigh in under 20 lbs….

38/365 – Letting Go

According to one of my gurus of living a full, loving life – right now is astrologically an excellent time to let go.

She wrote a beautiful piece about all that she is letting go. I haven’t read through all of it yet, but I’m ready to list my own….

I’m letting go.

I’m letting go of the tears that I allow to build up inside of me. I’m letting go of hanging on to them in the first place.

I’m letting go of being concerned with what people think of me. I’m letting go of worrying about how my words and actions affect what people think of me. I’m letting go of my inhibitions in hopes that the inherent kindness and creativity of my soul speak loud enough for me.

I’m letting go of wondering if I am enough.

I am very much enough.

I’m letting go of expectations when I delegate. Things are never going to go the way I want them to if I hang on to those expectations. I’m letting go of wishing I could just do it all myself. I can’t. I can’t do everything myself and I often need help. I’m letting go of being afraid to ask for help. No one is ever going to handle an imperfect situation the same way I will. I’m letting go of those expectations as well.

I’m letting go of trying to please everyone. I’m letting go of putting everyone else’s needs before my own (with the obvious exception of the baby – she still needs me).

I’m letting go of the fear to say “no”.

I’m letting go of the things that won’t get done today.

I’m letting go of the stress of losing weight and getting toned. My body works the way it needs to when it’s not stressed.

I breathe in and then I let go of all of the worries as I exhale.

Isn’t it wild the way a simple act of letting go can be so hard? Why do we hang on to these things? Why is it easier to hang on than it is to let go? Imagine a rope, with your hand clenched around one side. All the worries are attached to the other side, but you can’t actually see them. What will happen if you just let go? Where will all those worries end up? In my imagination, they land about 2 inches below where then hung, suspended by my strength. They don’t disappear, but they are no longer a burden to me.

Aaaaaahhhhhhhh…..

Now I can shake my hand and arm out. I can roll my wrists, shoulders, neck, and open and close my fingers. I can use my hand for other, more important things. I can focus on other things. I can see more clearly and think more freely. The worries are still there, but they don’t consume me. They don’t run the show. They don’t weigh down my life. I don’t have to hang on to them.

I just let go.

37/365 – Beach Mama

Yeah yeah, I know it's been more than 37 days since I've started this little challenge.

I've forgiven myself. If I write 365 blog posts in ANY amount of time it will feel accomplished.


Isn't it just fabulous that I can post a blog from this very spot!?!? That's what I'm doing. Just posting. I have no content because: well, the moment speaks for itself and frankly, I want to just give it it's space.

Aaaahhhhh……

36/365 – nighttime waking

It's unfortunate that I'm up right now.

I'm frustrated.

Seems I have a hard time sleeping when I'm frustrated.

I got up a little over an hour ago when WB started fussing and asked daddy to settle her (so we don't promote future waking at this time by me feeding her). Typically, he stays on the couch until this first waking so I can get a head start on falling asleep, which is so sweet of him.

It's tough, however, to wake up an hour later when he comes to bed.

"Really? Did I take you an hour to get her to fall asleep?" I say after he crawls into bed. I had asked for the door to stay ajar but he still closed it, so I got up to adjust it. Our room gets too warm if it's closed.

"Well, I was just pooping for about five minutes…."

Because 55 minutes is so much better than an hour when it comes to settling the babe.

Or are you afraid to admit to me that you fell asleep while rocking her to sleep? I never heard any fussing like she was being difficult and not falling back to sleep….

Awesome. Thanks for making an effort on this whole no sleep-crutch concept for us. I guess it's no biggy when you're the one in the room with her. If I'm trying to keep my nighttime feedings under 10 minutes, what should your settling times look like?

And now you've woken me. Again. Just an hour later. She will wake up to be fed within the hour as well. I've gotten myself so worked up over how long it took you and how inconsiderate it feels to be woken every hour that I can't sleep.

So I move to the couch.

Even better.

Now I'm writing on a screen, which I know won't help me fall asleep.

Awesome.

But at least I got it all off my chest, I suppose.

Ugh.

35/365 – the Lesson?

Of course, after writing about surrendering to the sleep habits of WB last night, things kinda smoothed out for us. At least…that's the way I feel about it at this moment.

It was still a struggle, but it was a struggle that had us up at 7:30 instead of 6am. I'll gladly get up for 2 quick feedings in the middle of the night if it means we get up after the sun has risen. Gladly.

And so it goes….what will happen tonight? She had only 2 naps today, totaling less than 2 hours of sleep. She ate well. Had lots of play time. Interacted with people besides mom and dad. Went to sleep without much of a fight. All I can hope is that she doesn't wake before 2am.

Daddy went fishing and if mama has to settle her it means giving her the boob, which means she will want the boob tomorrow night and the next….

Just lean into it, Rather. Don't fight it, embrace the moments. You know you're cherishing them….

34/365 – Sleeping Woes

Can't write.

Must sleep.

Baby keeps waking at night….so frustrating!

Is it a phase?

Will she grow out of it?

Probably. Yes. Of course.

Based on the feedback I get from friends with older kids….I'll hardly remember this struggle in a few months.

Our breastfeeding time is short, in the grand scheme of things. Everything will change when we stop. Just like embracing the time we need apart. Just like embracing "mommyitis". Just like embracing all of the unknown ahead of us…. this too, I shall [work to] embrace. My sleep will return eventually. Coffee and a workout did wonders today, I'm sure it will work for the next little bit as well.

Sweet dreams little one….