a taste of my own medicine: the rundown on getting run down

time for a cup of self-love (unlimited refills).
I ran myself right into a wall this week. It’s been so long since I’ve been sick, but I could feel it creeping in on Tuesday. You know the feeling, right? The heavy eyelids, the aching muscles, the scratchy throat, the sledgehammer to the head. I take pride in staying afloat when my kids or hubby are down for the count. Me, get sick? Way too busy, way too needed, way too strong for that.

Yeah. I can hear the universe laughing now, its guffaws echoing through time and space.

On Wednesday, struggling to keep my eyes open, I realized that while I may be nearly immune to my kids’ eternally germy hands, nothing can protect me from energetic exhaustion. And each of the last several days, as I’ve gone over my mental to-do list, my body has pushed back. I’m feeling forced into submission, into surrendering my concerns – from whether Tru’s getting too much screen time while I doze off to not being present enough for all the participants in the Project Light Year classroom and community.

I am getting a taste of my own medicine.

The prescription that goes something like this: you cannot serve others if you don’t first serve yourself. Damn. Hate it when my words come back to haunt me. But I love it, too.

I love the way my spirit is wise enough to get in touch with my body, how they work together to let me know I’m pushing too hard, that it’s time to ease up, that my own medicine is needed. I love being reminded that life keeps chugging along and everything falls into place even without me micromanaging it.

I do believe the universe is always conspiring in our favor – even when it gives us a dizzying head cold. And so. Body, mind, spirit, brilliant universe…I thank you for this perfectly timed reminder to rest, to treat myself to a steaming hot cup of self-love with unlimited refills. And I promise – I really, really do – to take it slow if you’ll just let me get out of my pajamas.

Why I Feel Like Crap

For the past week, I’ve felt like complete crap – and I’m quite happy about it. After two decades of battling with my body, I’m giving it a gift. Rather than listen to all the weight loss experts and continue throwing my money at programs that don’t work for me, I’m listening to the voice inside to finally do what I know my body really needs.

I’m going dairy-free.

The last time I felt good about my body – like super good – was nearly 25 years ago. I was in 8th grade and, months before, a kinesiologist had diagnosed me with a dairy allergy. Cutting it out of my diet was hard. Though I hadn’t realized it, dairy was my drug of choice. As a kid, I would often steal quarters from my dad’s coin jar and ride to the neighborhood Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone. I’d ride around the neighborhood – but not on my own block, for fear someone I knew would see me – eating my ice cream. It calmed me. I knew it was wrong {both the stealing and the cravings}, but I couldn’t help myself.

The doctor said going dairy-free would likely do wonders for my puffy, pimply 13-year-old body. It did. My skin cleared up, my sinuses cleared up, my stomach and head didn’t hurt so much and extra weight melted off me. I remember feeling so euphoric, amazed that I could actually feel comfortable in my own skin.

art by bella sinclair

But after a year or so, I began to slowly ease up on my non-dairy diet. I wanted to have pizza with my friends. And frozen yogurt. And buttered popcorn at the movies. I figured a little dairy here and there wouldn’t hurt – and might even help my body get used to dairy again, little by little. But little by little turned into lots and lots. And since nothing drastic happened right away, I convinced myself my body could handle it.

It couldn’t. I realize now I’ve been abusing my body all these years. I’ve always struggled to maintain a healthy weight {turns out dairy allergies are often responsible for major weight gain}. I often  feel congested and foggy. Headaches are a daily occurrence. I’m tired of my skin breaking out. I’ve had a sense, deep down, that it was all due to dairy – but my inner ice cream cone addict rejected that notion. She had a laundry list of excuses – stress, age, weather, you name it. Anything to avoid giving up chocolate and cheese and ice cream and butter and whipped cream and cupcakes and…well, you get the idea.

My desire to feel good has finally overshadowed my cravings. I dropped dairy from my diet a week ago – and I’ve felt both awful and empowered. My body is mad at me. I’ve had headaches so bad I thought my brain might explode. My stomach is in knots. My skin feels gross. And all of that tells me I’m doing something right. My body’s going through withdrawals; while the side effects are annoying and distracting, they’re also empowering. Confirmation that my real inner voice has been right all along.

I don’t know what will happen. I’d love to feel comfortable in my own skin again, all these years later. I’ve chosen to tell you about this journey to see if you can relate, to collect resources and ideas {anyone have favorite soy/almond/coconut products/recipes/links!?}, and to ask for your support in wishing me well.

 

 

 

I Gave Birth Twice and Now I’m Mad {08.31.11}

I am mad. And I’m gonna tell you why – even though it may ruffle some feathers.

Yesterday, I received an emailed invitation to sell my art at a “birth and baby expo” showcasing the latest products and services on the market for new moms and moms-to-be. They also want to have handmade gifts and jewelry available for attendees, which is why the organizers reached out to me.

I was intrigued; I thought it could be a unique opportunity to test the waters and see how my wares did with this niche audience. So, I went to the web site for more information. The event’s mission, it said, was to connect attendees with “empowering, multicultural resources and education that promote healthy birth and parenting and to celebrate the transformative experience of becoming parents.” Loved that! The language seemed well-aligned with my values and work, so I downloaded the application.

But as I scrolled through the document, my heart sunk. Tucked in between details on the hours, booth specifications and fees, there was a section called “Exhibit Policies.” It said sponsors and exhibitors must comply with and affirm the following statements, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization:

World Health Organization recommendation of low cesarean rate (10-15%).

Availability of VBAC for all women with prior cesarean, meaning if you are a midwife or doctor you will accept women with prior cesareans into your care during pregnancy and birth. 

World Health Organization recommendation that “exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.”

I can’t participate in this event in good conscience – and I suspect they wouldn’t let me. It’s not that I totally disagree with the recommendations. Rather, it’s that I disagree with the notion that there is one right way to have a baby or raise a child. This all-or-nothing attitude may empower some women, but it alienates and degrades even more – including me.

I realize WHO’s recommendations are research-based and outline the ideal situations for mama and baby. They want the number of c-sections to drop dramatically. If you already had one, they want you to demand a VBAC {vaginal birth after cesearean} the next time around. And they want you to do everything possible to breastfeed your baby for at least two years. My beef is that these are so often presented as the only respectable options, which leaves women who make other choices feeling like failures. Motherhood is the hardest job on Earth; no woman should be made to feel less-than on her first day on the job!

After my horrendous birth experience with Ryder in 2003, I already felt like a failure. I couldn’t birth my own child. I needed pain medication. I needed a vacuum. And my baby came out blue and battered. So much for a “natural” birth. Then, when he couldn’t and wouldn’t breastfeed and my milk dried up {despite countless trips to our local breastfeeding support center}, I felt totally ashamed. According to all of the things I’d read and heard, I’d already set my child up to fail and he wasn’t even a month old.

When I was pregnant with Truman, my therapist, psychiatrist and OBGYN highly recommended a scheduled c-section to avoid triggering PTSD and postpartum depression. I know in my heart of hearts it was a wise decision, yet I often found myself on the defensive – with midwives, with natural health practitioners, with moms who had done it all “naturally.” And when I interviewed potential doulas to support us – yes, we wanted one during our c-section – some refused to work with us and others drilled me, trying to get me to reconsider having surgery. We finally found sweet Diane, who helped us feel good about our choice and our overall experience. But it shouldn’t have been that hard to feel accepted.

And now, here I am again: shunned years later for the choices I made to protect the health and well-being of me and my children. I’m not welcome at an event simply because I believe the attendees should be allowed to weigh their options, decide what’s personally best for them, AND feel good about their choices. So, am I off my rocker or justified in the way I feel? I’d love for you to weigh in!

I Gave Birth Twice and Now I’m Mad {08.31.11}

I am mad. And I’m gonna tell you why – even though it may ruffle some feathers.

Yesterday, I received an emailed invitation to sell my art at a “birth and baby expo” showcasing the latest products and services on the market for new moms and moms-to-be. They also want to have handmade gifts and jewelry available for attendees, which is why the organizers reached out to me.

I was intrigued; I thought it could be a unique opportunity to test the waters and see how my wares did with this niche audience. So, I went to the web site for more information. The event’s mission, it said, was to connect attendees with “empowering, multicultural resources and education that promote healthy birth and parenting and to celebrate the transformative experience of becoming parents.” Loved that! The language seemed well-aligned with my values and work, so I downloaded the application.

But as I scrolled through the document, my heart sunk. Tucked in between details on the hours, booth specifications and fees, there was a section called “Exhibit Policies.” It said sponsors and exhibitors must comply with and affirm the following statements, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization:

World Health Organization recommendation of low cesarean rate (10-15%).

Availability of VBAC for all women with prior cesarean, meaning if you are a midwife or doctor you will accept women with prior cesareans into your care during pregnancy and birth. 

World Health Organization recommendation that “exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.”

I can’t participate in this event in good conscience – and I suspect they wouldn’t let me. It’s not that I totally disagree with the recommendations. Rather, it’s that I disagree with the notion that there is one right way to have a baby or raise a child. This all-or-nothing attitude may empower some women, but it alienates and degrades even more – including me.

I realize WHO’s recommendations are research-based and outline the ideal situations for mama and baby. They want the number of c-sections to drop dramatically. If you already had one, they want you to demand a VBAC {vaginal birth after cesearean} the next time around. And they want you to do everything possible to breastfeed your baby for at least two years. My beef is that these are so often presented as the only respectable options, which leaves women who make other choices feeling like failures. Motherhood is the hardest job on Earth; no woman should be made to feel less-than on her first day on the job!

After my horrendous birth experience with Ryder in 2003, I already felt like a failure. I couldn’t birth my own child. I needed pain medication. I needed a vacuum. And my baby came out blue and battered. So much for a “natural” birth. Then, when he couldn’t and wouldn’t breastfeed and my milk dried up {despite countless trips to our local breastfeeding support center}, I felt totally ashamed. According to all of the things I’d read and heard, I’d already set my child up to fail and he wasn’t even a month old.

When I was pregnant with Truman, my therapist, psychiatrist and OBGYN highly recommended a scheduled c-section to avoid triggering PTSD and postpartum depression. I know in my heart of hearts it was a wise decision, yet I often found myself on the defensive – with midwives, with natural health practitioners, with moms who had done it all “naturally.” And when I interviewed potential doulas to support us – yes, we wanted one during our c-section – some refused to work with us and others drilled me, trying to get me to reconsider having surgery. We finally found sweet Diane, who helped us feel good about our choice and our overall experience. But it shouldn’t have been that hard to feel accepted.

And now, here I am again: shunned years later for the choices I made to protect the health and well-being of me and my children. I’m not welcome at an event simply because I believe the attendees should be allowed to weigh their options, decide what’s personally best for them, AND feel good about their choices. So, am I off my rocker or justified in the way I feel? I’d love for you to weigh in!

A Toast To Cancer? {07.11.11}

The other night, my parents invited me and my brother over for a “chat.” We arrived to find champagne and a savory summer spread, so we knew something was up. Indeed it is: I swear my dad is healthier than I’ve ever seen him in my life. He has this glow about him and his blue eyes are so clear that they sparkle. Pretty rare for a 65 year old guy who’s spent much of his life running himself ragged. Pretty incredible for a guy who has cancer. 
Eleven months ago, my dad was sucker-punched with an out-of-the-blue diagnosis: colon cancer. We were in shock. But our family – with my dad as the ringleader – decided to believe in miracles, to trust the right remedies were within reach, to view this as a journey through healing vs. a battle with illness. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments of despair or anger; cancer’s scary, chemo sucks and people say the dumbest stuff sometimes. It would be easy to spiral down while trying like mad to keep spirits up.
But in many ways, cancer has actually been a gift. For starters, it literally grounded my dad. For decades, he traveled like crazy for work; last fall, his doctors insisted he stop flying. It was a huge change for him – but it forced him to shift his priorities, to delegate responsibilities, to slow down and find a new groove. And there’s something about knowing my dad is always just a few minutes away – rather than far away in yet another random city – that gives me such comfort now. 
Turns out our champagne toast was to celebrate some amazing news: after eleven months of treatment, my dad’s latest CT Scan showed some tumor shrinkage. Wow. His doctors, of course, credit the latest chemo cocktail they’ve been trying. But I suspect it has just as much to do with my dad’s decision to live fully rather than frantically, to expect good health rather than chase it. 
Cancer inspired my dad to finally treat his whole self – body, mind and spirit – with TLC. He has altered his diet. He sleeps more. He meditates. He experiments with complimentary medicine, from healing touch to seaweed supplements. He adores qi gong. He loves my mom even more and recognizes all she does for him.  He listens to his body and respects its limitations. It’s been amazing to witness. 
I’m still mad at cancer and really want it to leave my dad alone. But I’m also oddly thankful for it. It has inspired him to live with a renewed sense of purpose and joy. And it has intensified my appreciation for everyone I love and the time we have together. 
So, I raise my glass today to this dance with mortality, to the family and friends I so adore, to knowing what matters, and to my brave and beloved dad. Cheers.

A Toast To Cancer? {07.11.11}

The other night, my parents invited me and my brother over for a “chat.” We arrived to find champagne and a savory summer spread, so we knew something was up. Indeed it is: I swear my dad is healthier than I’ve ever seen him in my life. He has this glow about him and his blue eyes are so clear that they sparkle. Pretty rare for a 65 year old guy who’s spent much of his life running himself ragged. Pretty incredible for a guy who has cancer. 
Eleven months ago, my dad was sucker-punched with an out-of-the-blue diagnosis: colon cancer. We were in shock. But our family – with my dad as the ringleader – decided to believe in miracles, to trust the right remedies were within reach, to view this as a journey through healing vs. a battle with illness. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments of despair or anger; cancer’s scary, chemo sucks and people say the dumbest stuff sometimes. It would be easy to spiral down while trying like mad to keep spirits up.
But in many ways, cancer has actually been a gift. For starters, it literally grounded my dad. For decades, he traveled like crazy for work; last fall, his doctors insisted he stop flying. It was a huge change for him – but it forced him to shift his priorities, to delegate responsibilities, to slow down and find a new groove. And there’s something about knowing my dad is always just a few minutes away – rather than far away in yet another random city – that gives me such comfort now. 
Turns out our champagne toast was to celebrate some amazing news: after eleven months of treatment, my dad’s latest CT Scan showed some tumor shrinkage. Wow. His doctors, of course, credit the latest chemo cocktail they’ve been trying. But I suspect it has just as much to do with my dad’s decision to live fully rather than frantically, to expect good health rather than chase it. 
Cancer inspired my dad to finally treat his whole self – body, mind and spirit – with TLC. He has altered his diet. He sleeps more. He meditates. He experiments with complimentary medicine, from healing touch to seaweed supplements. He adores qi gong. He loves my mom even more and recognizes all she does for him.  He listens to his body and respects its limitations. It’s been amazing to witness. 
I’m still mad at cancer and really want it to leave my dad alone. But I’m also oddly thankful for it. It has inspired him to live with a renewed sense of purpose and joy. And it has intensified my appreciation for everyone I love and the time we have together. 
So, I raise my glass today to this dance with mortality, to the family and friends I so adore, to knowing what matters, and to my brave and beloved dad. Cheers.

09.14.10: Choosing To Enjoy The Traffic

i am super lucky that i don’t have to drive in rush hour traffic each day.
but occasionally i still get stuck in the muck of a midday log-jam.
and folks – i have a serious aversion to traffic.
yesterday, i was so happy to be meeting my friend rachel for lunch.
i was zipping along the highway, glad to be right on schedule…
and then i saw it: a blur of what seemed like billions of red brake lights.
fyi:
if there are crashes on both shoulders of the highway
and road construction already has a lane closed,
prepare to wait.
and miss your super-fun lunch.
and wish you’d gone to the bathroom before leaving.
i considered completely stressing out about the traffic
(did i mention i couldn’t reach rachel or the restaurant by phone?).
but then i decided such huffing and puffing was just wasted energy
and i tried to enjoy the ride…or crawl.
i studied the people in the cars around me.
i noticed the tilework in the tunnel i’ve sped through a million times.
and i spotted these sunflowers on the side of the freeway,
which were probably thrilled to actually be seen by someone
instead of being left in the dust by another speeding car.
so, it wasn’t all bad.
i managed to turn that quagmire into a scenic drive!
i still would have preferred to have lunch with rachel,
but i fully trust that for some reason,
we weren’t meant to meet up right here, right now.
and that’s perfectly fine!

09.14.10: Choosing To Enjoy The Traffic

i am super lucky that i don’t have to drive in rush hour traffic each day.
but occasionally i still get stuck in the muck of a midday log-jam.
and folks – i have a serious aversion to traffic.
yesterday, i was so happy to be meeting my friend rachel for lunch.
i was zipping along the highway, glad to be right on schedule…
and then i saw it: a blur of what seemed like billions of red brake lights.
fyi:
if there are crashes on both shoulders of the highway
and road construction already has a lane closed,
prepare to wait.
and miss your super-fun lunch.
and wish you’d gone to the bathroom before leaving.
i considered completely stressing out about the traffic
(did i mention i couldn’t reach rachel or the restaurant by phone?).
but then i decided such huffing and puffing was just wasted energy
and i tried to enjoy the ride…or crawl.
i studied the people in the cars around me.
i noticed the tilework in the tunnel i’ve sped through a million times.
and i spotted these sunflowers on the side of the freeway,
which were probably thrilled to actually be seen by someone
instead of being left in the dust by another speeding car.
so, it wasn’t all bad.
i managed to turn that quagmire into a scenic drive!
i still would have preferred to have lunch with rachel,
but i fully trust that for some reason,
we weren’t meant to meet up right here, right now.
and that’s perfectly fine!

09.11.10: Choosing To State The Obvious

the writing’s on the wall:
i like you
and your words & warmth & wisdom
so, so much.

your love & support yesterday
were such a gift to both me and my family.
everywhere i turned, there was another
note or comment or call.

thought i’d give you a little sign
to show my thanks
(a real sign from a favorite store in mpls).

i am convinced
you all have hearts made of gold.

 
 
 

09.11.10: Choosing To State The Obvious

the writing’s on the wall:
i like you
and your words & warmth & wisdom
so, so much.

your love & support yesterday
were such a gift to both me and my family.
everywhere i turned, there was another
note or comment or call.

thought i’d give you a little sign
to show my thanks
(a real sign from a favorite store in mpls).

i am convinced
you all have hearts made of gold.