Friday, March 11, 2016

When moms feel worthless and unproductive in society

"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." ~Lin Yutang
Photography by Erica Lynn Wolf Photography

One of the hard things about being a SAHP (stay at home parent) is the sense of isolation and drudgery. Our society has not done a good job at emphasizing the importance of every day service work for the smallest members of our family.

Sometimes, simply gestating for the day, or offering the breast to your toddler 100x a day, or playing Mommy Cat and Baby Kitten for 3 hours with your preschooler is one of the biggest achievements you've reached for the day.

Over and over, a mom comes to me and says, "Guggie, help me. I feel so lowly. I feel so useless. I feel unproductive and unworthy. I spent 12 hours today feeling completely exhausted yet completely bored. As I went to bed, I looked around me and realized I didn't even do the dishes. I'm failing. I'm not helping anyone. I'm not doing anything with my life."

Danialle Beck breastfeeding her toddler. We call this "gymnurstics.
Superheroes are a prominent theme in our society. Supergiving. Superloving. Supersized everything when it comes to charity and altruism. On social media, we applaud the people who carefully outline the major accomplishments they've reached for those who are impoverished or differently abled. Touching videos with matching music move us to tears daily.

The mom continues in her tearful message to me. "What have I done with my life? I'm worthless. I'm a drain to society. I can't even make my husband a meal when he gets home at night. I can't even show up on time to a volunteer event at my child's school."

Society forgot something important. Our society forgot that sometimes the most heroic action of all is the daily, diminutive act of service. It's actually easy to be a superhero. It's easy to give a big donation to a charity and snap a photo of your check for instagram. It's exciting and fulfilling to bring pizza to homeless strangers, shake their hands and smile while your friend youtubes it. It's satisfying to receive praise from thousands of strangers online while you show off your invention.

But, behind closed doors? When your 3 year old is screeching and you want to screech back? And you manage to grit your teeth? That's heroic.

When your entire body is aching and you haven't slept longer than an hour at a time for the last month, and you cheerfully play hide and seek with your preschoolers? That's being a superhero.

When your baby wakes up at night scared and alone, and you want to run screaming from the house but instead take a deep breath and offer your breast-your literal body- for the service of a little person who has zero concept of gratitude? That's amazing.

Your heroism is in the thousands of times you wipe a butt. Your altruism is in the millions of times you reassure a scared toddler. Your courage is in the hundreds of pounds of food, vomit, snot, poop, and dog food that you clean up off the floor every day. Your productivity is spending years. Literally, YEARS, painstakingly working on one of the most important, detailed, integral aspects of society's success: raising a human being to be empathetic, to be lovable and to love others, to be educated, to be fit and healthy, and to be a functioning part of this world.

IF you're getting ready to go to bed convinced that you are a useless burden to society, it's time to take a second look at what you're doing with your very body, breasts, and years of unconditional service.

You're a superhero. Your children know this.

It's time for you to believe it, too.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Don't get hitched to your OB/Midwife!

When people ask me if I could give one piece of advice, or one food for thought that could help the most expecting mothers. When women demand, "But, what do I REALLY need to know?" "What is the best thing I can do???"

Here's my answer.

Don't marry your doctor. Or midwife. Nurse. Or MIL.
The role changes, but the song is the same. When you're determined to emotionally attach yourself to this person and defend this person, then you will be unable to care for yourself and your baby.

I know that deep down women know this. Because they come to me, and they ask for help. They ask for another opinion. They ask for more ideas. But then when I suggest something or probe to learn about what HAS been tested/researched, I get the marriage statements.

"Oh. Oh, well, he's WONDERFUL. He's the best!"
"I'm sure she did all that. She's really smart."
"I have a GREAT OB. I couldn't think of doing all that stuff. I'm in good hands."
"My naturopath is amazing."
"Uh, I don't know if I can do that. I'll see if he will let me."
"But, if I do that, she would be so disappointed."
"I can't leave him! He's been with me since I got pregnant!"
"I could never do that. It's betrayal."

DO NOT MARRY THEM. They are EMPLOYEES who WORK FOR YOU. And if they aren't working for YOU and YOUR BABY'S ABSOLUTE best interest, then tell them. IF they don't respond apologetically, then fire them.

The victim/abuser cycle plays out in our lives in every relationship all around us until WE say no. If you're having second thoughts, if you're realizing your options are limited, if you're noticing that your standards are violated, then WALK AWAY. You are not married to this person. Demand better. Raise the rent, kick them out. You and YOUR BABY are worth it.

My toddler figured it would be helpful if I brushed my teeth.
I suppose the cute doulas don't need to be kicked out. ;)


Stop mothering your care provider

Our bodies are not defective

5 signs of a controlling assistant

Friday, January 1, 2016

5 New Year's Resolutions Without Dietary Restriction or Food Shaming

It's that time of the year again. Once again, people all over take stock of their physical health and emotional happiness, then commit themselves to new diets and new exercise programs. And nothing is inherently wrong with that. But, as I listen to the same complaints over and over again, I can't help wondering if other resolutions are more effective.

Defaulting to dietary restrictions, shame-based scripting, and intense exercise programs can give us a sense that we are improving. And maybe even give some people the sense that they are paying for their sins and beating themselves back into health.

I've noticed something interesting, though. When a person is surrounded by toxicity in all areas of her life, she transfers all of the anxiety, shame, loss of control, and fear onto food.

She might be disconnected from the people around her and lacking stimulating, intimate friendships. But, SUGAR! Sugar is BAD. If she cuts out all sugar, she will feel better. This constipation, weight gain, and mysterious fatigue is caused by SUGAR.

She might be in a stagnant romantic relationship. She's often living with a verbally or physically abusive spouse. But, it is this DARN GMO FOOD! She determines that cutting GMOs, nay, cutting all grains, is what will help her anxiety, insomnia, IBS, and brain fog.

She might be living a sedentary life, mostly indoors, eating food at stressful and odd times around a work schedule or children. She doesn't have hobbies, she doesn't have fun. In fact, she has somewhat of a disdainful tone when discussing "those women" who have fun. She's decided she needs to cut her calories in half and go on GAPS because her hair is falling out in clumps, her voice is hoarse, her skin is dry, and she has no sexual libido.

I could go on, but wanted to provide a brief snapshot of the most common scenarios brought to me. Let's make something clear before everyone raises the point. Of course, FOOD matters. Of course, DIET is connected to our physical and mental health. OF COURSE.

The problem as I see it, is that people are cyclically entering restrictive diets, and establishing shame and blame to stay in the diet (this is all my fault, I don't have strong will power, I eat too much bad food, I'm not being natural enough). And not caring for any other part of their life. Even using diet as a form of escapism to ignore their lives all the more.

So, here are 5 New Year's Resolutions that don't involve going on a diet, removing food groups, or shaming eating and food.

1. This year, resolve to write a letter to a loved one once a month. Put it on the calendar. Buy a pack of stamps. And commit to writing one connecting, intimate letter to one person every month. Be prepared for a new sense of intimacy, connection, and care from the ones who receive your letters. In fact, whether or not you receive a letter back, you will find yourself feeling more connected simply by devoting time to thinking about another person and organizing those thoughts onto paper.

2. Dedicate yourself to earthing daily for 10 minutes in nature. Did you shake your head in disbelief? Daily? Nature? If you can remove entire primary food groups from your diet, you can step outside barefoot for 10 minutes every day. Walk around in the woods. Wander along a creek. Climb up a hill or trail. Yes, barefoot. Yes, in the rain and cold. Over leaves, rocks, and uneven terrain. Whether or not you believe in the growing list of benefits related to putting your bare skin against the earth, on a purely biological level, this forces your brain to renew and regulate the nervous system. This in turn will stimulate your brain, which means a feeling of awareness, reduced sensation of fatigue, reduced brain fog, and potentially long term benefits such as reducing your risk of neurological diseases. Consider it a crossword puzzle for your feet.

3. Make it your 2016 goal to hug loved ones when arriving and leaving. Usually, kids are covered already as parents try hard to make sure they provide affection. Sometimes, even that has been lost in the chaos of work and school. Dedicate yourself to firmly and fully giving out a hug every time you say hello and goodbye to a loved one. If you're having trouble implementing this habit for your children, consider adding the car routine. Give a hug every time the child climbs into the car, and give a hug every time as the child leaves the car. Physical affection regulates cortisol and the adrenals, and therefore the entire endocrine system. It also releases endorphins in the brain, regulating neurotransmitters. It builds relationships quickly and simply through oxytocin. And it slows you down to remember to connect with others. Hugging is a potent medicine.

4. Participate in an event, class, meeting, etc monthly that is related to something you enjoy. Yes, this means getting out of the house. You can do it, and the benefits make the initial discomfort worth it. It's one thing to read about your passion, to talk about it online, or to enjoy it alone in your home. It's another thing to reach out to others and share it with the world. Take the initiative. Join a local club. Sign up for a community class. Heck, just find a few likeminded friends to casually meet at the park while the kids play. Encourage yourself to connect with others on a shared interest. Your knowledge will grow, your brain will grow, your life will grow. A monthly event incorporates all of the factors that keep isolation and depression at bay. You anticipate, you plan, you set goals, you connect with others, you learn new things, and you deepen your personal identity.

5. Select two real primary health goals for the new year. This year, make it real. If you're suffering from chronic fatigue, rashes, dry skin, hair loss, menstrual problems, organ symptoms, hormonal complaints, neurological or emotional symptoms, etc, commit to selecting two main issues and seeking out concrete assistance. Get complete lab panels for a clear picture. Look at actual treatment protocols. A legitimate protocol will have these main elements: diagnosis, definition of the disease, prognosis, specific treatments, and estimated time to resolution. Don't fall into the habit of guessing, trying out random dietary changes or herbal protocols for an indefinite amount of time, and being unable to see measurable change.

Nail down your complaints. Look at them directly. Is it transference? Is it anxiety about a toxic relationship? Is it an unfulfilled and sedentary life? Is it detachment and isolation? If you've set aside the cognitive defense mechanisms and you're seeing persistent, troubling symptoms, take care of yourself fully. Sometimes it's as simple as getting a small prick on the finger and learning that your vitamin D levels are low. You can cut sugar until the sun doesn't shine, or avoid all the "junk" food on the planet, but that will not miraculously cure actual maladies. Make 2016 a year of concrete changes.

Consider planting a garden with family and friends this year. It will easily incorporate
many of the tips here, such as connecting with others and spending time in nature. (Remember to go barefoot!)
Bonus: it will let you enjoy a bit of your dietary urges because you can plant non-Gmo, organic foods.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Is Your Child Being Gaslighted? Watch Out!

This is the second part in the child abuse series. You can read about grooming here.

Gaslighting is a potent, but often obscure form of psychological abuse. The term comes from a popular movie, Gaslight. In the movie, the husband slowly and progressively gains psychological control of his wife by employing various mental techniques that lead her to doubt herself, become isolated, and eventually feel as if she is going insane. Altogether, these techniques are referred to as the process of gaslighting.

Because gaslighting can be very slight and insidious, many people are unsure how to identify it and how to prevent it so as to protect their children. Like its sister, Grooming, adults often use gaslighting techniques routinely for a variety of non-violent reasons.

The problem is, even if Grams or the kindly neighbor down the street are falling into gaslighting behaviors innocently, the patterns set up in early childhood can leave a lasting impression on your child, creating a vulnerability for future cycles of abuse.

“Gaslighting occurs when a person you trust to tell you the truth about reality, is, in fact, bending reality with lies. When this happens consistently over a period of time it causes you to question your sanity.” (Anna Valerious, Narcissists Suck)
“Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.” (Theodore L. Dorpat, “Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation, and Other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis“)

So, what is it, exactly? In as short a summary as possible, gaslighting is the method of making a person doubt herself and trust the person more than herself. This can involve rewriting history, implanting fake memories or distorting memories. It can involve questioning her motives and emotions or invalidating them. It can be as slight but profound as making her think she can't trust what she saw or heard with her own eyes and ears.

And although doing this to children might come from non-violent or even well meaning intention, as you're realizing, this is a precarious foundation for a child. We want to raise children who can trust their inner compasses, who can rely on their instincts, and who can accurately process what they see, hear, feel, and sense in the world around them.

The Primary Method

When it comes to small children, the primary method of gaslighting is emotional invalidation. Emotionally invalidating small children is a simple and fast way to gain control over or compliance from them. When you hear someone emotionally invalidating your child, it's a safe assumption that gaslighting has just occurred or is occurring.

"Chin up, Bud! I was only teasing."

"Hey, don't cry now. I didn't say anything mean. There's no reason to cry."

"You're not mad at him. He was only playing. Don't be immature."

"Why are you scared? It's just a mask."

"That means he has a crush on you! It didn't cause any blood anyways."

If you hear emotionally invalidating statements, quickly place yourself in the situation. Get down to your child's level, make gentle physical contact and gentle eye contact. Ask your child for details and listen closely. When you hear underlying emotions, pinpoint them, name them, and remind the child it's ok to feel them. Point out boundaries if they are involved. For example, "Whether or not Timmy likes you, it's never right to push you on the ground. Next time, tell him to stop and find an adult if he keeps chasing you."

The Secondary Method

The second process of gaslighting children will usually instantly sort out who is benevolent and who is planning to intensely abuse your children. This method might not be a common or frequent danger, but when it happens, it's time to take careful notice. It's the process of creating an alternate reality, often with emotional connection or emotional intimacy to the adult projecting the false reality.

Adults who do this for non-violent reasons typically are only using your child for basic emotional feeding. This is lightly related to objectifying people as "emotional supplies" in other topics such as dealing with personality disordered abusers. By creating and projecting a reality to your child, the person creates an artificial level of intimacy for bonding. This is very similar to the grooming technique that sexual abusers use, to create the "special secret" that only the abuser and the child know. The adult gets to "feed" off the positive emotions of the child, receiving joy, happiness, excitement, attention, love, and affection from the child in exchange for the projected false reality.

Wanting the child to participate in traditions, rituals, games or other "fun" play that is covertly imbued with a sense of reality is the main sign of secondary gaslighting. The important note here is that although the adult is playing a game, (or the adult justifies the method by telling other adults he's playing a game), the child is groomed to accept it as reality. Santa is real. Animals are really talking at night. Leaving food out for the Elves actually keeps them from turning evil. Etc, etc.

Signs of the second method include:

High levels of details about a tradition or ritual. So, it's not merely a fun game about Santa, but a careful description of who he is, what he will do in your home, how the child has to behave, where Santa lives...

A sense of secrecy, privacy, and intimacy. It's a special game just between your child and the adult. Others who "don't believe" have been tricked by a "bad" character in the game, or are lacking virtue (faith, hope, innocence...). Other adults can't be trusted to tell the truth or will try to convince your child to give up belief. The child might be encouraged to keep secrets or hide details from other adults and children.

Behavioral-based or focused. This might be when many parents start to notice something is happening. The child's behavior changes. The child might be scared to sleep at night because the elves are moving around in her room. Or the child tries to be "good" to earn the promised rewards. A sign that the person doing the gaslighting might have abusive plans is when the behavior involves the adult. For example, the child has to obey the adult. The child has to shower the adult with affection. "Give me a hug, remember, that's what good girls do!"

Breeds mistrust and doubt. The child starts to have trouble deciding what is real and what is not. Who is trustworthy, who is not. The child often begins to doubt himself, wondering if his senses work or if he's remembering things correctly. If another child or adult shares information contrary to the artificial reality, the child gets upset or anxious. If you try to affirm your child, you might realize your authority and trust is already eroded, and the child has already been warned that you are lying.

Includes other people. To help fortify an artificial reality, the adult will often enlist other cooperative people to prove to your child that she can't trust her own senses. This also creates a sense of isolation in the child, as she begins to think everyone else agrees and no one else has a different perspective. If you see other people playing along, the situation is probably pretty advanced at this point.

Combating these forms of gaslighting can be very difficult. They are slow, progressive, often hidden forms of manipulation. Adults from all walks of life and in all positions can use these techniques on your children. In the classroom, church nursery, at playdates, while babysitting, at family reunions.

As the child goes through the bonding process and her boundaries are broken down by the adult, she not only has trouble trusting her own instincts, but can then be taught to ignore or despise the input from other children and adults, namely you: the parent.

Once you've lost your position as a trustworthy ally, it can be a long and hard fight to save your child from this level of enmeshment. Although often times, this cycle is non-violent, such as a well-meaning Grandma trying to make Christmas "fun" for your kids, there are times where gaslighting is used deliberately to gain control of your child for additional abuse.

If this involves the adults in your life, the additional abuse might even be intended for you. For example, once the adult has broken down the natural barriers your child has, and gained control of him, he might then use the child to abuse you, and continue abuse that you experienced in your own childhood. You can read more about it here and here.

With your child isolated and artificially enmeshed with this adult, it leaves your child vulnerable to sexual abuse, emotional abuse/scapegoating, psychological manipulation, and more. It can also mean the child is forced to witness abuse of other children and told to keep it a secret. Sometimes, the witnessed abuse is woven into the story. For example, the adult might physically abuse another child in front of your child, then explain that the Elves told the adult to do it because the other child was misbehaving.

Whenever you notice gaslighting techniques, confront the person immediately. The sooner you confront gaslighting, the less damage your child can experience. This also sends a warning to the other adult(s) that you are watchful and will intervene. Ways to combat gaslighting:

Expose your child to a variety of beliefs, ideas, cultures, and people.
Encourage exploration and child-led fantasy, not adult-created stories.
Encourage your child to question the world around her and inside of her.
Find opportunities to affirm him and his impressions, beliefs, and conclusions.
Play the memory game, where she discusses a memory as SHE remembers it and you affirm it.
Spend time emotionally validating your child daily, accepting his emotions, especially tough ones. 
Promote a sense of authentic intimacy with caregivers, family, and friends so the child has his heart filled and isn't eagerly searching for someone.
Explain the difference between a surprise and a secret.
Create a word or gesture to share when the child wants to play fantasy and make something "real" instead of trying to convince the child it isn't real.
Deconstruct the projected reality with information. Research the history of traditions and rituals. Watch movies together, read books, attend cultural events.
Emphasize healthy disagreement versus control and overriding another person. Model healthy ways to hold many viewpoints and to respect input from other people. Remind your child that she can hold onto her own memory, her own emotions, her own viewpoints even in the face of controversy, and even when a bigger, stronger, smarter, adult disagrees with her. 

More resources on gaslighting:

Techniques and description

Repairing afterwards

Connection to narcissism

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Marriage isn't Beautiful

I know I'm not qualified to talk about marriage because my husband and I are coming up on 8 years. We've been friends since we were kids and we were highschool sweethearts, but the rough road only started 8 years ago. It's hardly a drop in the bucket.

But, I did want to get this off my chest because I've had a couple people mention how "beautiful" our relationship looks to them. Ha. On the outside.

Let me tell you something about marriage, or at least our marriage, although I suspect this is a generally true situation for most things worth experiencing in life.

It's not beautiful. It's not amazing. It's not a breath of fresh air or some lovely daydream.

Marriage is about walking into a person's deepest, darkest nightmares. Freely. Yeah! You make a public agreement to do this! It's about choosing every day to stand by that person's side.

Love isn't fun like an umbrella drink on the beach. Love isn't fresh and pampering, as if you've found someone to fulfill your every whim or make your life easier.

It's hard, sweaty, dirty, even scary work.

It's about going into the darkest part of your heart, something few people want to do on their own. And then INVITING another person into that room! It's about someone holding your hair while you vomit into the toilet. And not a clean toilet. It's about staying up all night with a toddler who refuses to wear a diaper, but wants to keep peeing in the bed. It's about the one thousandth time you asked your spouse to please close the drawer so the baby doesn't get into it, and the next morning, the drawer is open.

Marriage takes the absolutely worst, dreariest, boring, annoying, ugly parts of you and puts them on crystal clear, hi-def directly in the other person's face! And for them, the same to you!

When you're leaning against the edge of the birth pool, screaming that you can't and that you hate him, that's marriage. When he's worked 30 hours of overtime and makes monosyllable grunting noises then falls asleep, that's marriage. Watching your partner experience negative emotions, and make poor choices is marriage. Watching her age, watching her suffer, that's marriage. When the house is wrecked and the kids are screaming and fighting and you wish you could go eat at a fancy restaurant but you dig into leftovers, that's marriage. There's nothing glam about it, because the purpose isn't to make you look better or to get you what you want at the expense of your family.

Every twisted scar, every childhood wound, every dirty secret, is in some horrible way, a gift to the other person. And marriage comes into play because you've seen it all. You've bared it all and you've seen it all. You've been through everything from the awkward to the uncomfortable. You've said goodbye to loved ones, you've heard her sob in the middle of the night over a pregnancy loss, you've seen him walk in the door with a gaunt look on his face and known something was wrong. And you keep walking side by side through it all.

People are quick to say they would die for their loved ones. They would take a bullet. They would say, "Choose me" to the bad guy, to save their partner or children. They would go on a secret mission to save the world. They would be a hero.

And what they forget is that real love is dying a little every day in obscure and minute ways. In ways that no one else sees. You don't get medals for quietly doing the laundry when you'd rather be working on a personal project. You don't get medals for going to work every day to support your family. People don't stand on the side of the road and cheer for you after you've wiped the ten thousandth snotty nose and tucked your child in for the millionth time. When you make the choice to calm your ego and respond to an irritable partner with respect, no one sees in your home. When you clasp his hand in the middle of the night and choose to be there for him after a hard day, no one cheers you on for losing more sleep.

Love rarely requires us to be heroes and heroines. Hardly anyone is in the movies. Instead, we're living out the real deal of life. It comes with a steady drip drip drip of expectations, and those expectations aren't pretty. It's about looking at our own imperfections. Admitting we have imperfections, and spending every day working on them, asking the people who deserve the most from us to forgive us yet again.

And somehow at the end of the day when ever fiber of your being has tried it's hardest to keep mothering and keep cleaning and keep breastfeeding and he walks in the door grumpy and tired, marriage is the choice to walk over to him, and squeeze his sweaty, stinky, dirty, tired, scarred body close to your sweaty, stinky, dirty, tired, scarred body, and whisper that you missed him. That you love him.

Because somehow, despite all of this parenting and partnering being the hardest thing in your life. Despite feeling the drip drip drip of every day tearing apart at the selfishness in your soul, despite opening every square inch of your heart and baring yourself in all your imperfections...this is the best thing you've ever done. It's soul-twisting, heart-wrenching, bone-wearying work raising a family and solidifying a marriage. It doesn't come with parades and medals or immediate success. You can't even be sure you will make it. But, you know deep down it's the most valuable thing in your life. So you keep going.

It's a lot of things. But, fun, fresh and airy, pretty? Those aren't the right words.

Happy Anniversary, Hon. Here's hoping for the gift of eight more years, then eighteen and onwards.

I know I'm not qualified to talk about marriage b/c my husband and I are coming up on 8 years. Hardly a drop in the...
Posted by The Guggie Daily on Saturday, August 15, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Short Time Ago

A Short Time Ago 

A short time ago, I waited and waited. "If she isn't born soon, will doctors go in there and take her?" I stared at my coworker, surprised by the wording and tone. "She's my little girl, she'll tell me when she's ready."

A short time ago, I labored and labored. "It's been days now, you should just go to the hospital and get it over with already." "You've tried long enough, you don't get a medal, you know." "Even though everything seems alright, maybe something is actually wrong." I stared at words on the screen from my online friends. "She's doing well. She'll be born when she's ready."

A short time ago, I struggled and struggled to breastfeed. "This is day FOUR and your milk isn't in yet. Just give her a bottle." "Aren't you tired of pumping AND breastfeeding?" "She's obviously never going to get the hang of it, just get her tongue tie done." I grimaced at the words over the phone and told them, "She's working hard with me. We'll find our way in due time."

A short time ago, my daughter was capable by my judgment, but hesitated. In all kinds of places. In academics. In sports. In friendships. I knew she could do it, but her mind would tell her to wait, to observe, to think twice. I bought her a bike when she was 3, but she refused to ride it again after her first try. "Just put her on it and tell her to pedal, and don't back down until she does it!" I quietly put the bike in the closet. "She will figure it out when she's ready."

The voices grew in number, and they surged like a peak in a song. "She's not trying hard enough, you're not pushing her enough," they would say. "Have you taken her in for testing? Maybe something is wrong," they would urge. In a whisper, some would drop phrases, "Selective mutism" and "autism." They'd knowingly nod. I'd stare at them, sigh, and grimace, shake my head, and turn away. I knew my daughter and my daughter knew I was on her side. "She will be ready when she is ready, and not a moment earlier."

A short time ago, my daughter quietly pulled her bike out of the closet. She rode it through the house over to me while laughing. "Mom, I want to ride my bike now." It was dark and had just rained, but I stood out there on the trail, laughing with delight as she rode her bike as if she always could.

A short time ago, I opened the door to the bathroom and found her reading a paperback book. "Do you read now?" I asked her, an odd calm in my voice. She smiled hesitantly at me, before opening up her excitement like a dam exploding. We suddenly had favourite authors and genres in common. "Let me introduce you to Nancy Drew," I whispered, almost strangled with happiness.

A short time ago, I watched her walk up to strangers and greet them. I watched her make friends with anyone, no litmus test necessary. I watched her try new foods and learn new languages. She blossomed, she opened, a flower blooming on her own time in all her glorious beauty. I wanted to shout to out to all those voices, "I was right! I was right! My daughter is who she is, and I stood next to this tightly closed rosebud and protected her!"


A short time ago, my daughter took my hand and said, "Come over here, Mom! Try this new ride! It makes your brain think you're sky diving. "Sorry, I'm too busy." In truth, I was too scared. Who would ever want to simulate falling?

A short time ago, she ran over to my side at the restaurant. "MOM! You have to taste this! It's delicious!" I hesitated, staring at the fork. "Um, I don't know. I like what I ordered. You enjoy it."

A short time ago, I watched my daughter approach new children at the park and begin talking to them. I looked shyly at another mom. I made eye contact, then looked down again. I stayed on the park bench that day.

A short time ago, my daughter yelled at the top of her lungs. "MOM! MOM! MOM!" I looked up, up, up, and saw her at the top of the tall slide. Just at the beginning of summer, she wouldn't even consider going with me on the little slides. I had begged her. Cajoled her. Told her it was safe and I would go with her. She had stood there, eyes wide, silent, shaking her head. Now, she was screaming down from the top, "MOM! C'mon! GO WITH ME!" I stood there silently on the ground, shaking my head. I couldn't ever conquer that slide. She went down alone. I sat that day and pondered a lot of things.

A short time ago, she asked me to climb a rock wall. "No, sorry. I'm too tired. The babies will need me. I don't know if I can do it." The words stuck in my throat. I looked down at her and smiled. I took her hand. We climbed that wall together. Just a short time ago.


What it's like to be 5...unconditionally

A Short Time AgoA short time ago, I waited and waited. "If she isn't born soon, will doctors go in there and take her?...

Posted by The Guggie Daily on Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

When you feel stuck, start moving your quarks.

Over the years, I've come to realize one of the prevailing emotions people are experiencing when they contact me for help is that of being stuck.

How did I get here? 
What am I going to do?
How can I ever get out of this spot?
I don't have any choices.
I can't do anything to change.
I try to become a better person and I fail.

They are on a path that keeps going forward into the distance, and they don't know why, and they don't know how to stop, or turn around, or get on a new path. They spend a lot of time thinking about steps to take, but here's where I think their efforts become ineffective: they only consider BIG steps in a linear and concrete way.

That's not how the universe works. The universe is not a straight, simple line. It is a maddeningly complex sworl, with many small pieces building upon themselves into larger pieces that then construct something out of nothing. And these building blocks become infinitely smaller, yet are all the more vital to the actual creation of matter.

You might not be strong enough, or have enough money, or enough freedom to move the molecules of your life. But, a quark? You can move a quark.

If you feel stuck today, go smaller. Don't invite more stress into your life, banging your head against atoms. Don't spend the day crying over how to get rid of a bad home purchase, or what to do about an fulfilling marriage while you're raising young children. Don't chase after the rapidly moving protons and electrons, as if you're going to find that dream job through sheer will in a day. You're not going to overhaul decades of unhealthy eating with a 30 day fix. You're not going to transform a mom-body neglected and hurt for years with an expensive shake.

No. Want to change? Then move your quarks. Today, put on a different pair of shoes. Eat something healthy for breakfast. Say hello to a neighbor you usually shuffle by with your head ducked. When you're at the store, buy a new vegetable that you haven't tried before. Go to the library and rent a book about another country. Try a new hairstyle. Buy an article of clothing you normally wouldn't wear.

Start chasing after leptons. Sign up for a class unrelated to your degree. Learn how to curse in another language. Go to that party you would've declined. Try out that hobby you secretly admire but feel guilty considering. Get outside and get your heart beating.

When you hear the voice in your head gearing up for a litany of negative and self-harming rants, change ONE script. Just one. You don't need a whole inspirational lecture, and your brain wouldn't believe something that overdone anyways. Just ONE small script will start to override the foundation of code set in your head.

I am worthy.
I have a right to exist.
I am lovable.
I bring happiness into my world.
I have the tools to be at peace.
I can do this.
I am all that I need to be in this moment.

Parents in a rut, skip that playground you visit every Friday. When your children are driving you insane and you feel that merry go round of fighting starting up again, lie on the ground and pretend you're morphing into a zombie instead of yelling at them. Get in the car and drive to somewhere you've never taken them, and don't tell them where you're going. Buy your child a gift on the way home from work today. Even if it's from the dollar spot. Surprise your children with something new and delightful, no strings attached, no reason for it.

I'm not trying to be 1950s here, but seeing as how much of my friend's list is comprised of SAHMs/WAHMs...when your spouse gets home, don't start droning on and on about how the day was, who pooped, what leftovers are for dinner, etc. Secretly call up a babysitter. Go to the local planetarium for a date. Play truth or dare. Laugh. Don't talk about the kids or the bills. When your partner walks in the door, just silently walk over and start making out. Can you imagine the surprise after years of coming home to a stressed out partner?

Every day is filled with millions of small decisions. The quarks and leptons of your life are right there, waiting for you. Start changing the smallest parts of your universe and you'll begin to realize your entire life can change, too.

For my geneticist friends who aren't into the references here, think of epigenetics and nutrigenomics.

What we eat, our physical activity, where we live, how we sleep, the stimulation of cortisol and adrenaline, all of these alter the genetic expression of our DNA. Every day, every little choice we are making is turning DNA on and off like a billion light switches, creating a big picture.

Simply by adding a new vegetable to your diet, you can change your genetics. Simply by learning a few words in another language, you can alter the synaptic behavior in your brain. Or learning to dance. Or meeting a new person.

Parents, every time YOU make a SMALL CHANGE in your parenting, you are LITERALLY altering your children's DNA. If you're trying to change your parenting, look to the small things. Trying to reconnect? Do you feel as if you don't have the time, the energy, the patience to shower them in love? All it takes is a big hug as they are getting into the car. One hug a day could change an entire lifetime. Instead of buying five parenting books you'll never have time to read, look into your child's eyes in the morning and genuinely SMILE. Say good morning brightly. Make the first words out of your mouth positive, and ignore the pressing, stressing stuff for a few moments.

Try it. Start small, start now, and stick with it. You will think it's silly, your brain will say it's patronizing, the voice in your head might say it's a worthless endeavor. But, over time, you'll start to see the changes build into something, every part of your universe sworling together in a new and beautiful way. You'll realize you were never stuck in the first place.