Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Body Issues are More than Skin-Deep

This company says our vaginas need deodorant!
"Hail to the V!"

It's the seemingly empowering slogan of "feminine hygiene" company Summer's Eve. But the message behind their products, like vaginal deodorant and "freshening" wipes, is anything but squeaky-clean.

I remember in my later years of high school, one of my best friends just lost her virginity. Sitting in my '89 Chevy Suburban in the parking lot of Alta High, she recounted her first night with Chad.

"Everything was going really good, until he was like, 'I want to go DOWN THERE!'" she exclaimed, eyes wide in horror.

"Did you let him!?" I recoiled, equally terrified of facing her boyfriend's preposition.

"No way!" she wailed. "What if he thought it was GROSS?"

Even before companies like Summer's Eve were telling girls and women our vaginas are - I'll just go ahead and say it - smelly, society has been laying the bricks for that stigma. This Jezebel article attributes women's smell-shame to a history of women being shamed for simply having a vagina, period. (Ever noticed how, since ancient times, it was never a man who was deemed, "unclean?")

I also believe that pop culture (comedians, movies, etc.) has perpetuated the idea that vaginas are gross. My husband and I were watching some comedian, I can't remember which one, but I cringed when I heard him smugly slur into the mic: "If you can smell it on the way down....go back up!"

Even the medical world has started vaginas off on the wrong foot. WebMD says, "It's normal for your vagina to have a slight odor," giving a negative connotation to the organ's natural scent.

Products like Summer's Eve, along with pop culture, are not doing men any favors, either. If a male expects a woman to smell like roses, he will be disappointed. But the wiser man will use our natural musk - and the arousing pheromones contained within - for his pleasure.

I'll admit, I've often been uncomfortable with my own area. Not just growing up, but also when I first got with my husband. I remember on our first night "together," me pleading to the Gods for him to "like it" down there! It took me a while, actually, before I could just sit back and enjoy that part of our sex life....till I realized, he enjoyed it, too.

There are days, however, when something is truly "off." The vagina is such a complex, self-policing and healing organ, that it sends messages to us through various odors and secretions. But it's unfortunate that some people's experience with a "fishy" day (typically signaling an infection), can scar them for life.

Breasts are also up to bat in the shame-game. I remember in high school, a football player asked me to flash him. And I did, thinking that was my tax for hanging out with the "cool kids." I was a late bloomer, though, and I guess the kid told his friends that my boobs were "weird." Weird compared to what, I dishearteningly thought, when the rumor made its way back to me.

Society has created the "normal" breast type: Whether they're big or small, they must be round or teardrop shaped, and perky, with small areolas. Don't believe me? Listen to any plastic surgeon discuss the ideal image with a patient (or go to their websites and see the "embarrassing" before and afters). Or ask Hugh Hefner what type of breasts he allows to be showcased in his magazines.

Even mainstream magazines don't offer any consolation to those who fall outside "the norm." Cosmopolitan featured an article where the advice for dealing with boobs of "two different sizes" is: Pad one side of your bra, or get plastic surgery.

So, how can women cope with this "perfect" pair standard, WITHOUT surgery?

Love them just how they are, right now.

Easier said than done. But I changed my opinion about mine, so I know it's possible.

In her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Dr. Christiane Northrup says the best way to love your breasts, or even the lack thereof, is a daily practice of basically cupping each one, and sending loving thoughts to them. Conversely, Dr. Northrup claims that loathing your lumps is linked to breast cancer. Extra: Watch this video on the power of words.

If you've already been under the knife (and according to this research, 74% of Utahns have), STILL practice loving them. Because the grass is ALWAYS greener if your eyes are only focused over the fence. Comparison will slowly kill any semblance of self-love and acceptance.

And then there's this: Despite the fact that the media's trying to brainwash all of mankind into desiring the perfect double D, when you're face-to-face with your partner, he will likely be charmed by your chest, no matter what they look like.

So, let's "hail" our own breasts and "V's;" but not with products or surgeries, just love. We women deserve to love the very things that make us women, and to have others respect them, as well.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Postpartum Depression Update

It's been almost 7 weeks since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. You can read all about that here. And though the Zoloft was tempting, it appears that my natural remedies (and just straight up endurance) paid off, and now, I feel like the fog is lifting.

I think it has A LOT to do with this smile....

The Formula Dilemma

Researching formula, it seems that every mom-blog about it starts with an epilogue of guilt. "I just tried and tried to breastfeed, but he wouldn't latch," or "I really did everything I could to breastfeed, but my milk just didn't come in." Ok, moms - drop the breastfeeding guilt! Yes, it's a great way to pump your kid full of antibodies, and it's cheap as hell, but what if you just plain don't want to be a milk machine for your newborn? That's ok! Especially with the high rate of postpartum depression; a little freedom can go a LONG way.

So, I will spare you my excuses for why breastfeeding didn't last very long for me (2.5 months, to be exact). Bottom line, formula happened. I went straight for organic, but guess what? It constipated him worse than that first time in the bathroom, right after I give birth....I digress. Plus, organic formulas are major GMO/chemical offenders, too!! That USDA label doesn't mean much these days (that's why now, I'm like, "Farmer's Market - FTW!") If you wanna read something freaky, here's a great comparison of organic formulas and which ones have more bad stuff than others (spoiler alert - they're ALL guilty).

Necessary evil?
The constipation issue was solved when we found Enfamil GentleEase in the ready-to-use bottles (I think the powder form of most formulas had a lot to do with backing babies up). How I loved the fact that William was no longer in pain! But how I loathed the fact that not only were we pumping him full of non-organic milk and chemicals, but also littering the Earth with plastic bottles (that we recycled, but still...)

My DIY formula
I refused to believe THIS was William's only option. Thank goodness for Google! (Hours, and hours, of Google...). I finally found a recipe for formula that jived with all my ideals. It's a twist on the Meyenberg Goat's Milk recipe (and I've already told you all the ways in which I love goat's milk, but mainly, it's just easier for human bodies to digest it than cow's milk i.e. closer to breastmilk than just about anything else out there.) 

This is the recipe I made (pasted below), and William is eating it up! It's all organic, his burps aren't followed by a river of spit-ups, and his bowel movements are regular! Hallelujah! Sure, I have to make a batch almost daily, but it's wayyyy cheaper (about 50 bucks to gather all the ingredients, which will last you MONTHS! I'd spend 50 bucks on two weeks' worth of formula!).

From PTthirty1.com:
"This recipe makes 32 oz. of goat milk formula – or 4-8 oz bottles.  I put all the ingredients in my Ninja blender, then pour in a 32 oz container, seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Here’s what I use and why:
  1. 4 tbsp powdered goat milk – I first purchased powdered goat milk at a local health food store.  I have since discovered it is sold at Whole Foods and I’ve recently found it online at Amazon.   It is cheapest on Amazon ($9.07 per 12 oz can) plus shipping is free.  Additionally, you get a 5% discount if you enable autoship in which you can pre-order the milk for up to 6 month increments.
    The Meyenberg brand is the only brand I’ve found and it works great!  It is fortified with folic acid and vitamin D as an added bonus for babies.  I have also used store-bought goat milk and diluted it using a 1:1 milk/water ratio (for this recipe, that would be 2 cups goat milk to 2 cups water).  I have read that evaporated goat milk can also be used.
  2. 4 tsp organic coconut oil – Coconut oil is the most abundant natural source of an essential saturated fat called lauric acid which is found in high amount in breast milk.  In fact, breast milk is the only other natural source that contains such a high amount of lauric acid.  Lauric acid helps to destroy bacteria, viruses and fungus in the body.  As well,coconut oil is known for regulating blood sugar and thyroid function.
    I have always kept coconut oil as a kitchen staple.  This was a plus because the initial investment for goat milk formula ingredients can be pricey albeit worth it.  Not having to purchase coconut oil was great!  I purchase my coconut oil fromAmazon as well because I can usually take advantage of free shipping.  I pay about $9 for a 15 oz container of coconut oil.  I know this is sacrilege for me, but I have never done price comparison shopping for coconut oil so if you think you can find it cheaper elsewhere, you probably can :).
  3. 4 tsp organic sunflower oil (alternative: extra virgin olive oil) –Sunflower oil (and olive oil) provide monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.  Unsaturated fats balance blood cholesterol.  Sunflower oil has significantly more vitamin E than olive oil, but olive oil contains more vitamin K than sunflower oil.  I prefer sunflower oil for the milder flavor/scent in the infant formula.  Since both provide enough essential unsaturated fats and vitamins, and we are adding a multivitamin to the formula (keep reading), both oils will work.  I have also read where the oil can be omitted.
    Like most households, extra virgin olive oil is a staple in my kitchen.  I buy it blindly when I shop at low-price leader grocery stores and don’t pay much attention to price.  I’ve even found it at Aldi and Walmart.  Sunflower oil, on the other hand, was much more difficult to get my hands on.  I found it at Whole Foods for about $5 for a 16 oz bottle.  Sunflower oil can also be purchased on Amazon.
  4. 4 tbsp organic agave nectar (alternative: organic 100% maple syrup, brown rice syrup) – The sugar and high carbohydrate content found in agave nectar are necessary for brain growth.  Forty percent of the calories from breast milk come from carbohydrates called lactose.  A breast milk substitute, therefore, would have to be high in carbs as well.
    I have been buying agave nectar in bulk at Costco since I have startedplant-based eating.  It is much sweeter than regular sugar so I use less of it, and therefore, it lasts a lot longer.  I cannot recall how much I paid for it (since I’ve had it for so long).  I do know that it is sold in most grocery stores.  I also keep maple syrup as a kitchen staple for plant-based eating.  I am not particularly fond of maple syrup’s taste as a condiment.  However, it works fine as sugar substitutes in most baked ingredients.  Like agave nectar, 100% maple syrup can be found at almost any grocery store including Walmart.  I’ve found it the cheapest at Aldi for about $4.
  5. 1/2 tsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses – This provides B-vitamins, iron, calcium and trace minerals.  Molasses also helps with alleviate constipation.  I have not had a problem with this amount, but decrease the amount if stools are too loose.
    I found molasses at Walmart and thought I struck gold.  When I got it home, I realized it was notunsulphured blackstrap molasses and the two differ by processing method.  I found the unsulphured molasses at Whole Foods.
  6. 1/2 tsp infant probiotic strain – I had always heard of probiotic in my favorite yogurt products before now, but never paid much attention to it.  Breast milk is extremely high in probiotics.  Probiotics improve digestive functions and boost the good bacteria in our bodies to fight the bad bacteria which prevents infection.  Breast milk contains numerous probiotic strains including lactobacillus genus, lactobacillus gasseri and lactobacillus fermentu.
    The infant probiotic comes in a vitamin bottle and is a powdery substance so it’s easy to add to liquids and foods.  I found a brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods.  It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.
  7. 4 tsp natural infant liquid multivitamins (or proportioned amount per package directions and amount of milk being made) – This adds in all the missing and extra vitamins your infant needs.  If you are adding this to his/her daily diet already, I would not advise including this in the formula too.
    I found a multivitamin brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods.  It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.  Poly-vi-sol is another popular infant vitamin brand and it can be found at Walmart.
  8. 32 oz warm nursery or filtered water – Goat milk powder is harder to dissolve in cold water than store-bought formula.  Make sure your water is hot or warm for better mixing and clump-free formula."

Enjoy! And remember, stop with the breastfeeding guilt. :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Post-baby Body

'Just four months after giving birth, take a look at her post-baby bod!' touts E! News anchor Guiliana Rancic as new mom Kerry Washington steps down the red carpet, her figure as petite as the statue she might win tonight.

'Whats your secret?' G asks once Kerry meets her on the aisle.

'A lot of working out,' the actress announces, as if she practiced in the mirror.

Me, curious about my own 'post-baby body'
Then Megan Fox, just two months post-partum, tells a tabloid her slim post-baby body comes from a strict paleo diet.

Now, if I, almost two months post-partum as well, can barely stand the pressure of regaining that pre-baby body... for these Hollywood actresses, the expectation looming over them must be suffocating.

Those three months after the baby aren't called the 'fourth trimester' for nothing. Dealing with the round-the-clock demands of a newborn, lacking sleep and energy, and experiencing extreme hormone changes calls for a hibernation of sorts - to cope and recover. And while 'working out' (light exercise like walking and yoga) is certainly prescribed by experts to help new moms stabilize, it is definitely NOT the first thing we are apt to do in between diaper changes, and our bodies aren't truly meant to do it heavily until at least 6 months. So, it's slightly bothersome that anyone is expected to 'bounce back' even within a year of giving birth.

I have been very grateful for compliments about my post-baby body, but irked that THAT's what new moms are applauded for. We just created life, and nearly died pushing it out! I'm still a little proud of this weirdly loose abdomen...don't make me scrutinize it yet! I haven't even fully processed birth, let alone thought about erasing all signs of pregnancy.

Sorry if this sounds rant-y; I just hope we can be a little gentler in our expectations of new moms and their ever-vulnerable 'post-baby bodies.'

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How Does a Yoga Teacher get Postpartum Depression?

I'm the only yoga teacher I know, who's depressed.

Tears came when, during my 6-week postpartum checkup, that little postpartum depression survey concludes that I am one of the 20% of mothers suffering from it. My midwife prescribes Zoloft against my will; assures me that it's worked miracles for moms, and that I'd likely only have to use it short-term.

Dude. I don't even take Tylenol. I had an unmedicated birth for a reason.

Hesitation and fear are written all over my face.

"You don't have to suffer," she almost pleads with me. "You don't have to do this alone."

Postpartum Depression affects 20% of mothers.
Photo ©Yoga Parties by Amanda, LLC
Two weeks ago, I was fine. Overwhelmed, but fine. But when William's four-week birthday came along, I found myself dreading, fearing, anticipating, well, EVERYTHING. It was fine when Chris was home, but when he went to work, I'd sit frozen in fear of putting Will in his carseat to go to the store. 

What if he's uncomfortable? What if he cries in the car? What if he doesn't like his carseat? are all thoughts I'd have. I think you can guess if I ever ended up going to the store.

Then it got even worse. Once I made it into the shower, I never wanted to get out. One day, I woke up and laid there like a corpse, and had the (now terrifying) thought that, I wish I was one. I noticed how often I was crying. I'd dream of drinking all day or anything else that would numb my emotions. I didn't know how to accept my now 100-percent-different life. I didn't think I could balance caring for both of us. I just had this overwhelming sense that everything would go wrong; that every day, I'd be this shower-less, starving wreck of a woman, bouncing a crying baby on my hip, sitting in the filth of a tornado-wrecked house.

Wait, what am I talking about "had?" I STILL FEEL THIS WAY!

I know these thoughts are irrational. And I do a decent job of putting on a brave face, being nice to my husband, making googly eyes at the baby, interacting with friends when they come over, dragging myself out of the house to grab something from the store. But it's hard. Not just to have PPD, but that I was so sure I'd never get it. I mean, I eat all organic. I do yoga. I freakin' meditate, for crying out loud! Depressed people don't do any of that!

I know I need help, but I cannot bring myself to take the anti-depressants.

What I'm about to say only pertains to postpartum depression, not depression. Plus, I am not a doctor, so don't take what I say as medical advice. AND I'm not judging anyone for taking medication or telling them it's wrong - in fact, many people say it is what cured them. But let me proceed with my opinion.

Some doctors tell you postpartum depression is caused by an imbalance in your "brain chemistry" or "serotonin levels." That is a theory, and, according to a new study, may not have anything to do with serotonin at all. Other doctors tell you that PPD is caused by environmental/social/emotional factors such as unrealistic expectations, lack of support, and more. Well, if anti-depressants are only addressing the brain chemistry theory (by increasing your serotonin levels), what if my PPD is caused by the other factors? I'd be messing with something that ain't broke! Plus, the sertraline in most anti-depressants carry a risk of serotonin syndrome, and have not been around long enough to know what long-term risks may exist.

So, meds are out for me. I'd love love LOVE to start feeling better, like my midwife and several friends have told me I will if I take the meds, but I just can't. It's been one week since my diagnosis, and this is what, I'm learning, helps me.

1. The knowledge that PPD is, by all accounts, temporary
2. Therapy. I'm going to my first support group next week, and continue one-on-ones with the amazing Kim Smart.
3. Kava Kava, Passion Flower, and Valerian root (all natural "calming" herbs - you can buy at Whole Foods) - The Kava and Valerian have a more tangible effect, I've noticed. Here's a list of other natural supplements that could help. Some people even swear by small amounts of marijuana (too much can make PPD worse).
4. Yoga. Even though it gives me anxiety to set the baby up in his swing (thinking he might cry and interrupt my yoga at any moment), I fight through it and feel massive relief once I start moving. If you don't know yoga, you can find a ton of free videos on YouTube and free subscription sites like DoYogaWithMe.com. Yoga has been scholastically proven to help treat depression.
5. Hot showers with drops of essential oils on the shower floor. The warmth relaxes muscles, and oils provide aromatherapy. Some of my favorite scents are (uplifting) lemon, orange and grapefruit, and (calming) lavendar and clary sage. Since this is a must-do-daily sort of thing, the other day, I took a shower with the baby in his bouncy seat right outside the curtain. You do what you've gotta do.
6. Walks/Being Outdoors. Getting outside and knowing there is a world outside my dark little head. The sun feels so good, too! Doctors often recommend light therapy for depression.
7. Friends! I feel so withdrawn that it takes everything in my being to accept a visit, but once I do, I am so happy I did! Friends commiserate, allow you to vent without judgement, get you to LAUGH! Laughter SAVES me.
8. On that note, have a BUDDY. A buddy to call you and nudge you to go on a walk, to the store, even to get out of bed. My buddy is my husband, but I have to be really careful about using him as a crutch, and even a punching bag. But his encouraging words in the morning really help to get me putting my pants on one leg at a time.
9. Eat fresh foods, and drink tons of water and tea. I've noticed heavy foods don't do anything for me, same with caffeine (the come-down is more noticeable with PPD, I think). When you eat foods that are "alive," I think that transfers a little extra good energy into that bod.
10. Cuddle and laugh with that baby! Your baby doesn't have depression, so be inspired by their radiant light! I will read to him, or try to make him giggle. And, of course, kiss, kiss, kiss those chubby cheeks! Even writing about it cheers me up!

Postpartum depression is real, and it sucks (man, women really get the shit end of the stick with all this motherhood stuff). But this hopeless feeling is temporary, and there is relief. We can do this. We're women, after all. ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birth Story

My eyes are rolling back in my head. The pain - thundering through my entire being. I am completely at its mercy. I'm in a bathtub, I know that much, and a crowd of faces surround me. Except I really can't establish whose faces; I am more seeing auras. And if I think I'm about to die NOW - in hour 8 - just WAIT till we get to hour 9, 10 and 11.

Hard to imagine less than 12 hours ago, Chris and I are making pancakes together, giddy with excitement at each small contraction. It's finally here. 6 days past due date. Chris and I had been doing EVERYTHING we possibly could all weekend to get labor started (not to mention a false alarm at the hospital the night before). But now, 4 a.m. Monday morning, it's the real deal.

I've got my yoga background; my deep breathing DOWN, I think to myself. This is going to be EASY. I've chosen a non-medicated birth for this reason - my confidence - as well as wanting to be aware of when my body tells me to do something, and possibly even prevent complications.

Chris and I run some errands before casually checking in at St. Mark's around noon. "Are you in pain?" asks the check-in nurse.

No, I thought, but I'm having contractions, and I don't want you to send me home, so I say yes.

"Good, we'll get you all settled into your room."

We get settled into our room. I lay out all my comforts that I think I'm going to use during labor. Music. "The Lego Movie." My stuffed animal. Essential oils.

Midwife comes in and breaks my water. Chris and I then go for a walk to get him coffee at the hospital cafe. I start doubling over with contractions on our return trip. Back in the room, my midwife gives me Clary Sage oil to rub all over my tummy. I do that. 10 seconds later, I'm in the bathroom and my body COMPLETELY cleans itself out, if you know what I mean. It's amazing how the body works. It doesn't want you to worry about going to the bathroom during labor or delivery.

Right after that, I am IN IT. I come out of the bathroom, and I am moaning. I kind of stop remembering at this point, because it's the same type of thing for the next few hours to come. I know I'm on the bed on all fours, and when I have a contraction, I moan as midwife, chris, my mom and the nurse rub my back and press on my hips. I have zillions of these, so it's amazing how dilligent they were at making me comfortable for, gee, 11 hours? I am so impressed. Eventually, I go the bathtub, which hurts to sit on the hard floor so I yell, and Chris holds my back, which is on fire. This could have been going on for hours. It's bad pain. I want to die. I think I can't handle it. I look at Chris and he has tears in his eyes, seeing me like this. I yell. LOUD. For hours. the nurse tells me to "drop my octave," and grunt gutterally, which actually helps me push later (brings the energy down through your body. I'm back out of the bathtub. Midwife says I'm dilated to 9.5 but my cervix is still in the way. She has me sit so the pressure is ON the cervix. This is DEATH. After two hours of this, I start crying "Help me!" and whimpering and balling and saying I can't do it.

Did I mention I would puke throughout? The pain of the contractions were irritating me like a buzzsaw and then all of a sudden, the panicky need to puke? And heaving during a contractions? That was the worst.

I'm in this state of utter pain and chaos for three and a half hours. My mom says during this time, "transition," my contractions chart showed they were full blast, and right on top of each other (no breaks in between). Right now, I'm naked, and push the midwife away when she tries to cover me up. I snap at Chris for whispering, "you're doing great, baby."

"Don't whisper!" I yell, feeling his words grating on my nerves.

This feeling that I had to go "no. 2" had been irritating me for an hour or so, and finally, it comes to the point where I think it's just gonna happen right there on the table (the thought of moving to the bathroom during a contraction was too much to comprehend).

"Turn away!" I yell at Chris, thinking I was about to have the most embarrassing moment of my life.

"What's wrong?" asks the midwife.

"I've gotta go to the bathroom!" I yell desperately. "Look away!"

"Oh, then you can start pushing! That's the baby coming!"

The idea alone that I had "progressed" to a new stage is enough to give me hope. I had been yelling for an epidural moments before this, thinking the pain was literally going to kill me if it lasted any longer. But pushing? This is new. I can do this.

With the contractions, still full-blast, i flip over on my back and instinctually prop my feet into the nurses hands. On the contraction, I push, and feel relief. I breathe, calming down, knowing that this would not be as hard as what I just went through. I know I can take my time here. So I breathe, and push. Chris, who formerly did not want to watch the baby come out, is right there in the action zone, coaching me to keep pushing. He sounds excited. It makes me feel encouraged. I push hard. I know that pushing this hard is doing something bad to my genitals, but I don't really care. I feel sharp pain as something that isn't supposed to rip, does. But I push on the contraction, because it feels better than sitting through the contraction. Chris is cheering me on. I know I'm not going to have a bowel movement on the table. So I feel safe, and know that I am going to see my baby soon.

Chris, my mom, the nurse, the midwife all emit some sort of sound that just sounds like pure joy to my ears, and I don't necessarily feel it physeically, but I know that his head is out. I am in shock. My legs are shaking HARD. I know that a few more pushes will get William into this world. I push even harder, the pain a distant feeling as I experience what feels like a bowl of limbs tumble from me. He's out in 13 minutes.

There's crying, and I see a grey form being handed to me, but I don't so much look at him, as I  FEEL him. I will never forget how he felt. Slimy, just this bundle of limbs, warm. Vibrating from his cry. Whenever he cries now, and I'm about to get frustrated, I remember that moment and how he felt, and soften up at how as a team, we got him here.

I pull him to my chest and am hyperventilating. I hold him for just a moment before handing him to a tear-dampened Chris who just cut the cord and is now taking William off to get a bath or shots or something. I am still in shock. Everything has an aura. I cannot believe I am alive.

The next hours pass slowly, and surreally, as I am patched up and put in bed. As William is handed to be to nurse, and as Chris and I drift to sleep for the first time as new parents.

During labor, I thought I would use all sorts of yoga breath, moves, different positions, my comforts...no. I used nothing but the sheer will not to kill myself. And I couldn't have done it without Chris. He was 100% present with me, at the expense of his own comfort (who doesn't eat or can press on my back for 11 hours?). Endurance is the only trait that comes in handy during a non-medicated labor. And I almost ran out. But if I am capable of surviving that, I can survive anything. And that thought has come up many times during recovery, emotional dips, and overall, just this whirlwind of new parenthood.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why this Feminist is Anti-Birth Control

I was right there with the best of 'em...hootin' and hollerin' about the injustice towards women regarding the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Taking away a woman's right to free birth control ... we can't let the Man win this one!

Men don't get to decide whether a woman will get pregnant or not!

Men can't stop women from having recreational sex!

That's just wrong!

But as my OB/GYN wretched her wand inside of me, planting a copper IUD inside my most tender of organs (me, wincing and nearly fainting on the table, of course), I started singing a different tune.

I am totally anti-birth control.

Now, I still believe in a woman's right to decide whether she gets pregnant or not.

And to be able to have recreational sex.

I just am against birth control...the product. 

I have to put that, WHERE?
Why do I have to have a foreign object in my life-giving uterus, risking my life at the chance of proliferation (it poking a hole and making its way into your abdomen, which would require emergency surgery). 

Why do girls and women have to be subjected to the hormonal Black Friday of "the pill," facing weight gain, mood swings, and - with all those chemicals - possible carcinogens?

What about men?

Dudes - now, they get to whisper-on a condom. No overactive thyroid or achy nights of cramping and bleeding involved. 

Even in the "extreme" case, where they get "snipped," a vasectomy surgery is far less invasive for men than it is for a woman to get the "equivalent," tubal litigation. A male vasectomy is usually an outpatient procedure that takes less than half an hour, and has a recovery of a day or two, while the female procedure requires general anesthesia, hours or days in the hospital, and a recovery time that lasts for days. Males face almost no risk of complication, while females, according to VasCenters.com, face risks of perforation of the intestine, infection, complications from anesthesia and even pulmonary embolism. Common lasting effects can include painful menstrual cycles, pelvic pain and a controversial complication that is still under study, called "post tubal ligation syndrome."

So you think every dude would be the tail-wagging volunteer in the relationship. Nope, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control in 2002, about 16% of reproductive-age women had the surgery, versus 6% or men. A more recent statistic shows worldwide, 5 times more women get the surgery than men. 

I'm gonna have a bad taste in my vagina about birth control, at least until guys get to share more of the load (no pun intended). Invent the male IUD. Maybe like a urethra plug? Something needs to change, so that women aren't the ones having to solely bear the (often painful) responsibility of preventing pregnancy. 

Now if THAT were Hobby Lobby's argument, they may not have lost me as a shopper. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

My New Life

This pretty much sums it up:

(camped out on the couch, nursing 13 hours out of the day, Daisy at our side, etc.)

And if the boobage is freaking you out...I offer you this:

Random Thoughts about Being a Mom

I can't wait to share my Baby William birth story with you, as soon as I can find the words to describe the awe and intensity surrounding it.

Until then, with the few sentences I can string together (thanks, baby brain!), I will tell you what I've been thinking about these past two weeks.

-I have stitches DOWN THERE. WTF.

-I pushed a baby out, and didn't die. I was convinced the pain of the contractions was going to kill me. Literally.

-I successfully feed a growing baby, with nothing but my own body.

-My stomach is shrinking faster than I thought.

-Nursing is a FULL-TIME job. With overtime. And working holidays. Like every hour.

-All the cliches people say about motherhood (like that it's a full-time job, it changes your life, it's hard but worth it, etc.) really make sense now, on a really profound level.

-I don't have time to do ANYTHING except care for the baby. I hear that gets better. But for now, I am living so moment-to-moment that I can't even really think about that to-do list.

-Thank God I got my Yoga certification. I cannot imagine working more than a couple hours here and there!!! I totally get the stay-at-home-mom thing now.

-I have more good friends than I thought. People have been making us dinner!! That is an act of kindness i can hardly fathom. I feel so loved.

-My dog is AMAZING with the baby. If he cries, she licks him (but not too much). She has to know he is okay before she can feel settled. Daisy is the best big sister!

-My husband went back to work today. I knew he did A LOT caring for me and the baby, but didn't realize he did THIS much! He fed me, changed the baby, put soaked-through clothes in the washer, let the dog out, etc....things I haven't figured out how to juggle yet!!

-My husband is even better now that he is a father. I'll list the ways in a forthcoming blog. He's THAT amazing. Have never felt so in love!

-Baby pictures are really hard to take. It's impossible to take a sufficient picture of my adorable baby that actually TRANSLATES how cute he is!! So, I haven't posted many on social media.

That's all for now....baby needs me! Hope I get to write again soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

3 Myths about Yoga

Yoga is for everybody
Yoga has grown so much over the past few years, that even your sweet Grandma may throw around the occasional Downward Dog or Lululemon reference. Yet yoga's overall image to outsiders has largely remained the same. I know that at least half of the time, when I offer a free intro to yoga class to a beginner, I'm met with apprehension and usually, a comment such as:

"I'm not flexible enough."

It's hard not to get frustrated with those who are not aware that yoga is NOT about being flexible. It's about cultivating a relationship with yourself, and your body. Fitness and flexibility is a by-product. As Mantra magazine writer Erica Mather says, "the point of yoga is not to excel; it's to experience." So, if you're tight in your hamstrings, she says, just enjoy the ride and they will eventually relax. That being said, I personally feel that Yoga media portrays a certain type of yogi, who is always uber-flexible and amazing at headstands. My mentor Denise Druce is the first to admit that some people are just built that way. "There are mobile bodies, and there are stable bodies," I recall her saying during my teacher training. Yoga is the balance of both qualities. Even though their yoga poses, like the splits, may appear perfect, a hyper-mobile (aka flexible) person may actually be straining their joints, and thus would benefit from strength poses that inspire stability. Then there is the hyper-stable (this was definitely me), whose body is sturdy and solid, but lacks some mobility, thus benefitting from stretches that give muscles a bigger range of motion. So that gal on the cover of Yoga Journal? All twisted in a long, elegant dancer pose? Don't bother with comparing yourself to her! She is likely simply hyper-mobile.

"Yoga is for a certain type of person."

The granola dude in Birkenstocks at Whole Foods. The thin mom you notice showing off bare arms while pushing a stroller around the the park. The nose-ringed college student with colorful leggings and a Chinese cherry blossom tattoo.  These are people who you might assume do yoga. Not the in-demand, working-mom news director of KUTV 2. Not the mayor of Salt lake City. Not the soccer mom down the road with a few pounds to lose. Actually - YES. All of the above are yogis. You don't have to look or live a certain way in order to be welcomed into a yoga class. Not all yogis are thin, not all yogis waste their money on a fancy yoga wardrobe, and not all yogis live like those hippies across the street with the Tibetan flags strung across the porch. Yoga is for everyone. It is at its core the all-accepting, uni-loving practice of oneness. And though some higher-end studios definitely have a certain clientele (I know there are a couple in town at which I feel kind of like a black sheep), you can rest assured most studios, and especially that community class, host every kind of person under the sun.

"Yoga is a religion."

It can definitely feel like a religion to a beginner, who has no idea what the heck "Ohm" is supposed to mean, and why it gets chanted as a group! The fact is though, Yoga is whatever you want it to be. It can definitely be spiritual, as it promotes the mind-body connection, and connection with others. It can be purely fitness-centric if you are just there to burn some calories. Or it can be purely relaxing, if you just want to enjoy taking time for yourself and quieting your mind. Or it can be everything! If you ever hear the word "God" in a yoga class, it usually is referencing the oneness of everything; how everything is connected. And if you don't like that, that's okay! You don't have to subscribe to everything to enjoy yoga. I had the same question about yoga as a religion, so I started studying its roots. I read  Patanjuli's Yoga Sutras, which at first, looked to me like the "commandments" of yoga, but after I contemplated them for a bit, I realized they are simply just ways you can live your best life, free of conflict with yourself or others. There is no black-and-white good and evil; no heaven or hell. Just ways to live in peace. Bottom line, if you show up to a yoga class, you will get out of it exactly what you want to get out of it. It's basically a blank canvas for you!

I hope the folks who really need to read this get a chance, because yoga is such a powerful way to change your life for the better. Once I started practicing, I noticed I was worrying less about my weight and more about how I can feed my body more healthfully. Over time, I became a generally less-stressed person who is no longer easily offended or angered. I focus less on material items, and more on the kind of experiences I want out of life. It's just a sweet way to live, and I would love you to live it with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What I (Reluctantly) Learned from a Psychic

I got a psychic reading today.

William was supposed to be here today - at the latest (I thought he'd be here two weeks ago), and I'm feeling helpless. Depressed, even. How can I be forced to be pregnant for even MORE DAYS? That's not fair! I've had a hard pregnancy! I need him here so I can stop feeling useless and bored (ego is having some obvious problems with the no-working thing).

Well, the psychic isn't giving this victim the news that she wants.

“You'll go into labor on Friday,” she says cooly.

That's the day after tomorrow. I had already asked the universe for 8 p.m. TONIGHT. Wednesday.

But I curb any comments and let her continue; my icy body language notwithstanding.

“This week is all about rest. About surrounding yourself with comforts. About the two lovers.”

High Priestess card can intimate self-actualization.
She points to cards that make a lot of sense, considering I'm doing NOTHING this week. All my nesting is done. And you can only lounge around the house a certain amount of time a day. But I let her continue.

“Then, in 1-2 weeks, that issue that you thought was black and white? You need to let it unfold as it should, and know that it will work out.”

Hm. Drawing a blank. Continue.

“In 2-3 weeks, the High Priestess. She signals enlightenment. You will come to some very good awareness about yourself and your life. Emotional fulfullment. Also, wealth. Abundance.”

My skepticism melts slowly away as I hear answers that could match what I'm seeking.

“In 3-4 weeks, you're finding a balance of all you have going on, finances included.”

I guess with a baby on the way, a dog, a business and several freelance gigs, that's bound to be in the cards.

“In 4-5 weeks, you're more assertive; confident, clear. Very cut and dry. You also start to notice a very inspiring, nurturing father figure in your life. You're also feeling very nurturing and content.”

And that's the end.

At first blush, I'm not turned on. But as her words slowly start to sink in, attaching themselves to various thoughts and worries bouncing around my brain, I begin to see a storyline.

My younger sister helps translate, as well.

“You need to just sit back and take care of yourself, and not worry when the baby will get here!”

She knew what was at the forefront of my mind. I have trapped myself in a losing game of predicting; trying to control when the baby will arrive; when I can get out of this “waiting” (my perspective) or “resting” (my sister's/the psychic's perspective) stage. I am fighting her advice to “take care of myself,” reasoning that there is only so much you can do! I'm bored, damn it! Doesn't anybody care that I just want a PURPOSE?

Moving on, to the “black and white” answer thing. It starts to seem to me like it's about finances. About whether I have to get a job, or face being poor. Maybe, the psychic says, it's not so black and white, and it will all work out how it should. I'll take it!

Then the High Priestess. I bet that being a new mom, and seeing life through new eyes is going to give me some great self-awareness and insight. I am starting to see that even though I am waiting now, my coming days are not full of stress or impatience, but rather fulfillment and self-actualization. And it gets better.

Finding a balance in three-ish weeks. Definitely sounds hopeful considering all I will have going on. I already know what my calendar looks like for that week, and there are several yoga commitments – my first since giving birth. It will also mark a month after my last regular paycheck. And also, I will be getting into a pattern with living life with an infant, and learning how that fits in with my existing family. So balance is a great word to hear. And that she said I will find it. I embrace that!

Lastly, being a “cut and dry” woman? When it comes to being the leader of my yoga business, I couldn't ask for a better trait! And that's not something I'd usually call myself. So being able to be assertive and tell it like it is (and price myself what I'm worth!) will definitely be a positive. It will also likely help me say “no” if I'm taking on too much, too soon.

When I see the whole picture, I am kind of in awe. It is such an evolution of myself. From selfishly wanting my child to come when I want him to....to growing into a woman with more self-awareness, balance and assertion, I am shocked to see such a transformation. It helps me realize that “waiting” or “resting” IS a good thing, and that I have plenty more I can do just to ENJOY, not to ACCOMPLISH. I'm going to read a book. Write a blog. Get a pedicure. Make a table-top sandbox with a tiny rake (those are like my Xanax...the raking is the only thing that makes me trance out!). The new life starts here, and starts with me letting go of control.

Monday, July 7, 2014

3 Reasons I Quit My Job before Baby

As we all do time to time when filling space with strangers, a woman at the store asks me a question. But today, my answer is anything but routine.

“So, what do you do?”
A profound silence passes before I eek out, “Nothing."

This is my first day not working since I chose indefinite maternity leave. And little did that woman know, that her innocent question just threw me head-first into reflection, self-judgement and panic. 

For so many years, my identity has revolved around my career. A career for which I have worked long hours, taken every (unpaid) opportunity, and managed to cultivate an Excel spreadsheet about a mile wide full of pertinent contacts. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it's also a career in the spotlight. From feature reporting on TV, to my most recent stint as a morning radio host, I got used to finally being somebody. And now, at my prime, where my face is on a gosh-darn bus, I am walking away.

The woman seems to notice my sudden silence and consternated look. 

"Um...well, what did you do before you got pregnant?" she fumbles. 

My fight-or-flight eases up a bit as I recall the time - three or so months ago - when I made the decision to quit. Amid a gaggle of reasons, I just had this feeling that there was no other (better) choice. So, without much reluctance, I bid one of my favorite jobs "adieu" and as of today, have embarked on a journey to figure out how I'll be, think and feel as a new mom, and how working will fit into family life.

So what were the reasons? Why leave a 10-year career of winning awards and ladder-climbing in the media, when that call from L.A. could be just around the corner?

  1. I don't want to be forced back to work.
    “There's nothing worse than being forced back to work on day 90, kicking and screaming,” says one of my husband's friends, who recounts his wife's traumatic experience of being thrown back into the sizzling pan of the workplace – its demands bringing her to a boiling point days later when she quit. Not only did she, like many women, say it's devastating to leave their babies, but just going from zero to 60 – and by that I mean the full performance most employers expect from new moms – is just rough. In my case, the radio station told me that after maternity leave (which I shouldn't take too much of, because “people forget about you after three months,” as one consultant informed me), I needed to return on a full-time basis. I personally know SO many strong women who can handle full-time, full-steam-ahead work – using what little power they have left after all the sleep deprivation and breast-pumping in the supply closet. But just knowing how hard pregnancy has been on me, I feel like I would need some flexibility upon return; some definite compassion. Not to mention, in a country that has literally the worst maternity leave in the world, don't you think some empathy, some flexibility, is the very least an employer could offer upon your return? So, leaving work was  the only way I figured I can return on my terms; when I'm ready to give 100 percent.
  2. I'm in a good place.
    Who knows where my career will go after motherhood?
    I feel good about the place my husband and I are at in our lives. Our relationship is rock solid, we have our priorities literally on paper (we'll talk budgeting in an upcoming blog), and he is incredibly supportive of me taking time to do what every mammal does after birth...focus solely on baby. (We already had the “will you resent me if I'm not working” conversation – which, by the way, ended in a resounding, “no” as he, like most men, are just grateful you're carrying on their lineage.) And you've gotta trust your gut; I just FEEL taking my time to come back is the right decision. When I was just a few months pregnant, I felt inspired to get certified as a yoga instructor; a process that involves exploring yourself from the inside out, which allowed me to figure out the difference between true happiness, and ego-driven desires. And though a career in the media definitely makes me happy, I do not need it in the next few months to serve as fuel for my ego. I know that if I'm meant to succeed in the field – especially in a town that knows I've earned my stripes – I will find something again when the time is right.
  3. A baby marks not only the transition into motherhood, but into the rest of your life.
    Who knows what doors will open for me, or how my passions will change after becoming a mom? I have already started a business, and have been teaching yoga pretty regularly from my magical at-home studio. I love it! I love working from home and also, having the freedom to move at my own pace for once in my life. I'm also excited about the possibilities in a media career after I've had some precious time to myself and with my family. I'll be a new person with new priorities and a renewed ambition. 

Especially today, where I'm making my husband pancakes and cleaning the house like a mad woman, I've noticed that I'm one of those people (Virgo? Tiger?) whose worth is largely defined by what I'm doing. And as stark as the transition may be from doing career work to doing what's best for my family, I am grateful for this time to finally define my worth based on who I am. And that, I now realize, is not nothing, after all.

Friday, February 28, 2014

If You Want to Love Your Body...

"Your body doesn't matter."

Profound words from L.A. yogi Bryan Kest (famed for coining "power yoga"), who was giving a workshop in town last week. Me - pregnant, tired, sweating in the heated room - I felt my body relax when those words rang out.

If you can see past some oxymorons between the whole mind-body connection of yoga and the concept of "your body doesn't matter," you might have the "a-ha" moment that I did. A weight was lifted off my shoulders when I heard that I can stop worrying about my body. It's there. It's aging. Let it go. You were made how you were made. You can ignore the advertisements for swimsuits and protein powders and even shaving cream. Your body is not what's important. Your body is not what's going to love and be loved and rejoice and transcend.

That's your heart.

...if only your mind can get out of the way.

I am not denying the importance of doing yoga poses to inspect your body for dis-ease sure to cause problems down the road. I'm saying, stop pinching your love handles in the mirror, and start looking at the thought patterns in your head talking sh** about your love handles. Those thoughts are a choice, and they are simply wrong. They are as addictive as sugar, and will ironically shame you into eating more of it. (I know I've tried to drown out the sound of my own thoughts in a pint of almond ice cream a time or two.)

So what happens when your thoughts stop? When there's quiet between your ears? You have room to breathe. You feel light. You feel like...taking a walk. Making love. Sipping tea. Devouring a casserole bowl full of luscious salad and berries. You are HEARING your body talk; asking you for what it wants.

By "ignoring" your body, aka quieting your thoughts about it, you are actually becoming more aware of its true nature. Not the shape and the stories about it, but the beautiful symphony of energy and function that your physical body truly is. It is perfect, even if it's "not." Your thoughts are the only things preventing you from KNOWING that.

Why don't you start by dropping the vicious thoughts and beliefs you've developed about food? A podcast called "Yoga Talk Show" recently featured nutrition guru Jonathan Bailor, whose lifetime of research has been widely quoted by experts from Harvard to Stanford. His concept (also a book) of "the calorie myth" establishes a reality that counting calories is about as accurate as "measuring intelligence by height." He said what we really need to focus on is eating for nutrients, and that happens "naturally" if you're consuming pure foods that come directly from the earth ("there isn't a bread tree"), while keeping in mind a few guidlines:

A suggestion for where to find Bailor's recommended nutrients
-Protein is not energy, but it repairs our body and we need it

-Energy comes from the carbohydrates with fiber, not sugar (both fiber and sugar are carbohydrates, but only fiber gives us energy. Sugar only substantiates a perpetual burning and craving of sugar)

-Fats are essential for satiating our appetite and providing nutrients, and don't necessarily induce fat retention; in fact, the more fats and less sugar you eat, your body will start to burn fat instead of ask for more sugar to burn.

Now, notice what your mind is saying right now. "Told you you shouldn't have had those jelly beans today, fatty!" or "Your diet doesn't look anything like that; you're a failure!" Well, Bailor discourages those thoughts. He says that when you let go of restrictions and move towards food you actually want (note: what your BODY craves, not your mind), then you don't have to keep track of what you eat or measure anything at all.

"Your body will start to function like a naturally thin person," he says, with your hormones and metabolism working to perpetuate health and even thinness.

The proof is in the past. Bailor points out that before the government gave us a "totally wrong" standard of nutrition and exercise (calories, food suggestions, etc) in the '70s, obesity and diabetes were not a big problem. But in the last 40 years, where we've been innundated with fitness products and fad diets, both diabetes and obesity have skyrocketed.

So we go back to basics. Not calorie-counting, just like our ancestors. Not following a food pyramid, just like our ancestors. Not stressing or thinking about swimsuit models and diet pills, just like our ancestors.

Turning off that stress - that need for control over the body - and enjoying a clear mind, is where you'll find health...and inevitably happiness.

And that has nothing to do with working out or calories.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pregnancy: The Best-Worst Thing to Happen to Me

When I looked at the stick, I thought, "Are you kidding me?"

We had just had the biggest fight, and I had ducked into the bathroom for a second for a time-out, only to find one of my unused pregnancy tests staring at me.

"What the heck," I thought, as I snatched it up.

The air was tense when I came out of the bathroom, but I wasn't thinking about the fight anymore.

I walked up to Chris and smiled awkwardly as I said, "Baby? We're pregnant."

He just stared at me as his eyes got mistier and mistier, until we both collapsed with joy into each other's arms.

We had been trying for a couple months. And it really is true - once you stop thinking about it, it happens.

Me at like 14-15 weeks?
For the first few weeks, maybe even the first 12, I didn't let myself get excited. It's common for women who have miscarried (earlier in the year, we lost at 12 weeks) to feel disassociated with their baby, and refuse to put stock in it till he/she is safe in their arms. I still feel that way sometimes; like I shouldn't get too excited. But Chris has helped me have faith.

He has been Prince Charming this whole time. He told me today, "Make sure you keep eating, even if you're not hungry." Things like that, he does all the time. He's just so thoughtful about my comfort and about the little baby. You should have seen his jaw drop and his eyes tear up when he saw Will for the first time on the ultrasound. It was a moment I'll never forget.

Feeling my sweet husband's love through acts and words of utter selflessness and kindness has been such a beautiful thing. So has learning to listen to my body (if you only knew how much I've slowed down! I usually jam-pack my day, but that trip to the store? Not happening.) It's been amazing imagining and planning for the "big picture" of my life, to the point where I enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training program. Not only is that skill to allow for flexible income once the baby's here, but it's an example of how this new life is making me rethink my purpose and focus on following true happiness. The scaling down to one car came because of that, as well.

But pregnancy has also made me feel fear. Fear that my baby is not getting the right nutrients. That my belly doesn't look "normal" for how far along I am (is it fat, or is that baby?). That maternity leave and my commitment to spend time with my family will make my bosses question my competency.

Pregnancy has also tested my will to live. I wish I was kidding. I am 18 weeks, and have been sick the whole time. Nausea, vomiting, headache, you name it. It's almost cost me my job, and definitely my positive attitude. There was one day last week where I had so many obligations that took me from 4 am to 8 pm, and I felt so sick, that all day I kept breaking down into full-on SOBS. All day. I felt like my sickness and sadness was alienating everyone from me (my co-worker told me as much), and I felt like I was pushing Chris away. I questioned what I was doing with my life. Considered just running away. I finally felt some hope by writing my bosses a letter requesting to go part-time.

Baby Boy at 16 weeks
(If you're wondering why I just don't take a prescription, a) I did and they barely worked, and b) the one I was prescribed was a serotonin-blocker, and Lord knows with this kind of sickness, one's prone to depression enough as it is!)

That low, low day was a turning point. The next day, I woke up to my 4:25 a.m. alarm, and as I do every morning, braced myself for the first wave of nausea. But when it came, I felt a sense of peace come along with it. At work, I kept a positive attitude both on the air, and off, as I let the sickness resonate in my body, but not my mind. I guarded my mind from being soured by the feeling swimming around in my stomach. I breathed. I inhaled peppermint oil. I knew I wasn't going to die.

One of my yoga colleagues said something, that kinda perfectly describes this: "Pain and suffering are two different things. You can allow yourself to feel pain, or you can resist it. The latter, resisting your pain, is the suffering."

Since that day, I have definitely felt miserable, but have not BEEN miserable. I have come to know that this sickness probably exist to remind me that my baby is healthy and alive inside of me. I know that it probably exists to test my committment to my job, and encourage me to find out what I really want to do in life. It's been there to help me grow as a person. To remind me to simplify my life. Maybe even to make me fall even deeper in love with my doting partner (don't ask me how that is even possible!).

Pregnancy's like that spoonful of apple cider vinegar. It's pungent and vile as it goes down to fight your heartburn, but when you feel its spicy cloud engulf the burning in your stomach, you're left with nothing but inner comfort and peace. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Return to the Simple Life

Things got bloated there for a second.

Bloated with money. With things. With emotions. With drink.

Eventually, we traded THIS...
A new job with newfound money, influenced me to put my life philosophy of "simple" on hold as I experimented with "things." Material things. I have always scraped pennies to live a meager lifestyle, and now that I wasn't scraping, I saw a whole new world of knicks and knacks. My husband and I went out and bought BMWs, trying to ignore the fact that they were in the shop all the time and hogging more than a comfortable amount of (premium) gasoline. We chased "pleasurable" experiences, unaware that when one is at ease, pleasure comes not from experiences, but from being. I mentioned in an earlier blog post how we quit drinking months ago...but before that, it was getting to be a routine, and not one for the betterment of ourselves or the world around us. And our emotions were running high, taking control; sparks easily inflamed with the smallest stream of fuel. Fears and anxieties getting the better of us. We loved each other madly, but as for ourselves and our lives, they were getting mucked up.

It's been a process of several months. We started by kicking the drinking cold-turkey, then some guidance counseling to understand our emotions, then we found out we were pregnant (!!!) and our goals re-organized as we remembered to BE the example (of sustainability, of self-love, of service to others).

For THIS! A greener car, and simpler life.
Now, we are trimming the fat from our lives and our budgets. We traded in both of our Beamers for a low-emissions vehicle, making us a happily one-car family. We have fewer $300 dinners and more quiet cups of tea together. Instead of moving to the up-and-up neighborhood, we have decided to stay in our small and affordable home that's close to public transit. I am in Yoga Teacher Training (four months pregnant!) in order to build my future around helping others. And Chris and I are gentler with each other, knowing our fears and anxieties are no match for a heart full of love and kindness.

I've noticed this wave of energy before....when things are fighting you - work, life, relationships - it's time to rethink how you are approaching these things. Is what you're doing out of love, or out of fear? Are you living your true purpose (great book for finding yours is 'Find Your Life Purpose' by Mervyn Smallwood)? Is your "mind chatter" controlling your life, or is your pure heart?

Now that I have shifted my perspective and approach, I've noticed life isn't fighting me anymore. I wake up every day with hope in my soul and love in my heart, and a passion for living a simple, purposeful life.