8,000 Women

Yesterday I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women. I had NO idea until I was driving to Boston for the conference with my friend Karen (who attended the last two years) that there would be more than 500 people there. No, not 500, EIGHT THOUSAND. Gulp. Thousands of GUTSY MAMAS! Thousands of gutsy women who took a day off of work to nurture themselves for a day.

A few of the speakers I had heard of: Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Jean Chatzky, Kristin Chenoweth. Some I hadn’t: Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, Brene Brown, Charlotte Beers and Tory Johnson. I learned, I was inspired, I was challenged, I shed a few tears, I smiled, I laughed and I made a few new friends.

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What did I learn? What nuggets?

Don’t forfeit the right to know yourself.
Be memorable.
Dare greatly.
Vulnerability is about showing up and been seen. Be a courageous person, walk into the arena, talk about how you feel. You may be afraid but do it anyway.
Sleep at least 7 hours. Nap if you didn’t. Read Good News on Huffingtonpost.com.

There were more, but wow, it’ll take a while for those to really sink in, eh?

[Photo: have you ever seen so many tables?]

Blanket: a Confession

I have a confession to make. Well, those who know me well know this already. I sleep with a blanket. Not just any blanket, but one that my Great Auntie Anna made for me when I was two.

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It doesn’t have a pet name. It’s not called Blankie. It’s just Blanket. Just like Michael Jackson’s son.

Blanket has been my friend for more years than I need to admit here. In cold moments, warm moments, good dreams, bad dreams, getting cozy moments and watching-scary-movie moments. My kids have grown to like it, too. (And yes, even my hubby likes it–occasionally.)

Most people think that a blanket or lovey or special toy is something just for kids. I’m here to tell you that I disagree. I’m happy to have Blanket in my life.

Just call me Linus, okay?

Do you have a special something that you need to have with you from your childhood?

50 Minutes of Therapy

[25/365] On the couch (Explored)

[25/365] On the couch (Explored) (Photo credit: pasukaru76)

Therapy.  A word the evokes different emotions.  For some it’s a warm feeling.  For others it instills fear.  For others it indicates weakness.

Therapy–the 50 minutes per week that a person might choose to spend with a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist–isn’t a new concept.  It is, however, something not everyone is comfortable doing.

I have met a lot of people in my line of work:  those who don’t need therapy, those who need it and get it, those who need it and don’t get it (for various reasons).

Who admits they have gone to therapy?  The media makes it appear that everyone goes, especially if you live in New York City or Los Angeles.  But what about in Massachusetts, where I live?

Me.  I’ve done it.  I was hesitant at first, despite having friends and colleagues who ARE therapists.  I went later than I should have, in retrospect. But hey, at least I got my ass there, sat on the couch (chair) and used lots and lots of tissues.  There she was in front of me, a person I didn’t know much about (except what I saw in her online profile–yes, it’s like online dating, I know).  I didn’t even know she had kids until maybe 8 sessions in.  I still don’t know how many she has.  She was there because it was about me.  Just.  About.  Me.  When else do you get that kind of dedication from anyone in your life.  It’s customary, even with our BFFs to whine for a while but you’re SUPPOSED to ask THEM how THEY are doing at some point, right?  Not at therapy.  It’s all about you.  So freeing, really.

It’s also such hard work.  Yeah, you can cry and whine and use profanity all you want, but in the end you have to face your fears.  Figure out why you are sad, angry, depressed, unmotivated, insecure and whatever other emotion the talented therapist helps you identify.  The questions you are asked can be jarring.  Can’t I just explain it to you in the nice little package I’ve put together in my head and present that to you with a bow on top and you’ll tell me what to do?  Nope.

And the 50 minute thing.  It sucks.  It’s just enough time to really get deeply into one aspect of your issues and then they have to let you go.  I asked why it’s only 50 minutes when 90 seems better.  She said it’s because that’s how much insurance will cover.  I think it’s because a person can only take so much whining and crying in front of them before they need a break.  Plus they do have to pee at some point.  If they are really human, that is.

Did therapy help?  Hell yeah.  Did I stop going?  Yup.  Have I felt like I could go back since then?  Yup.  But then I felt better the next day.  I know what to look for, though, in myself.  And I’m not afraid of it.  I grew to enjoy it.  I learned so much about myself and those around me, too.

Have you experienced therapy?  Willing to share some nugget of wisdom you learned?  Or maybe a comment about what you got out of it?  Please comment below.

By the way, going to yoga also helped.  Just sayin’.

P.S.  If any of this resonates with you, please go ahead and be a gutsy mama and go.  Sign yourself up for therapy.  Need a referral, let me know.  I know lots of folks in that field (just one of them was mine, the rest I’ve met through my work).

Gutsy Beyond Comprehension

Yesterday I attended the beautiful natural birth of a baby boy.  His mama was gutsy and despite a powerful labor and being forced to spend her labor in bed (for no good reason, by the way, just sayin’), she did it the way she had wanted to–all natural!  Then I went and spent a few hours with more gutsy mamas at one of my breastfeeding groups.  We talked about nursing, teeth coming in, pumping, making more milk and being gutsy when other people in our lives discourage us from doing what we feel is best for our children.

After that, I gathered with friends to share hugs and tears as we remembered the inspirational little boy of a friend of ours.  Little Kai’s life was filled with hugs and kisses and tests and blood draws.  He may not have realized it, but he brought a community together even tighter.  His mom, Kerri, is a gutsy mama beyond comprehension.  Starting with the day he was diagnosed, she blogged craftily for 18 months about his illness, his fight and her feelings.  She inspired us all in different ways.  She welcomed us into her world.  She smiled.  She shared deep thoughts and emotions that no mother should ever have to experience.  We cried with her.  And she smiled again.  Her words inspired us to appreciate our kids even more.  She taught us to trust our intuition and to welcome the help and support of others.  And we come together as a community to support her and other families whose children are sick.

Ultimately, it was a surreal day, starting with birth and ending with death.  But it was also an honor to be present for both celebrations.  To be part of something so special and precious and magical, wow.  The kind of day where I sat with my family around the dinner table with a delicious meal and a glass of wine and marveled in the power of the day and the love I have for the people I share my life with.

What makes YOU marvel?

P.S.  If you want to learn more about this gutsy mama and Kai’s story (all of which I really hope will become a book someday), see Kerri’s blog, Kaisfightclub.org.  There’s also a huge Holiday Market (45 vendors) in Grafton on Saturday, December 8th to support Kerri and others…see Kai’s Village website for details on how you can get all of your shopping while raising money for great people!

Development

Taught Day 2 of a natural childbirth class today and was brought back several times to the days when I was expecting one of my babies and how, especially with the first, it was so exciting, full of fear, full of joy and there was a bit of hubris involved as well.  I’ll be honest. I thought I was so smart.  So well-prepared.  Well, if you’re a parent, you know that having a baby, as one of my clients said, knocks you off your feet and right onto your ass.  Hard.  Yup, it does. 

I was as well prepared as my best clients are now…took every class, had my doula, read all the best books.  But bringing that baby home was hard.  Yes, it was sweet.  She was perfect.  My breasts took a couple months to work correctly but I got through it and so did she.  It took months to heal from her birth but I’m okay now (with a little help from my chiropractor). 

And it’s been almost 12 years.  I’ve learned more about birth, breastfeeding and parenting since then.  I had another baby since then (and learned more about myself through her birth as well).  The best thing I’ve learned is that I learn something new about every day, especially related to parenting and getting to know myself.  I do miss the anticipation that I felt when waiting to find out who exactly I was carrying in my belly. 

But now I wait each day to see how my kids are developing into the people they are becoming and also to see how I’m growing as well.  Middle-aged mama but developing a little bit more just the same.

What is a “gutsy mama”?

Yes, I’m a gutsy mama.  And yes, so are you.  Don’t we all have a gutsy mama inside of us?  I certainly hope so.  It would be a sad world without gutsy mamas in every family.  We may not be gutsy all the time, but that gutsy mama is there.  Whether quiet or loud, she’s there.

A gutsy mama…

  • decides what’s right for her and her family
  • speaks up about what’s right
  • enjoys life and shares her joys with others
  • can be silly as much as she can be serious
  • admits she isn’t perfect
  • works to make the world a better place
  • enjoys a good whine as much as a good wine

Why did I create this blog?  To have an outlet for my rants, my joys, my frustrations, talk about things that make me exceedingly happy and things that make me mad or sad…and anything else I’m thinking about.  Have any ideas for topics?  Gimme a shout and let me know.

One gutsy mama at a time…

Hi, there.  Are you a gutsy mama?  Don’t you want to be?  Who wouldn’t?  I know that I love witnessing gutsy mamas (and papas) anytime I can.  And helping them be even more gutsy is part of my mission in life.

Let’s start with the inspiration for this blog…I think it takes guts to put yourself out there in the world.  Especially as woman in America, we’re raised (if we’re honest with ourselves) to almost always feel like we have to look good and behave, lest we be judged.  Then go and get pregnant, whoa–now we’re really being judged for our choices!  Heck , most people don’t even let us know there are choices.  They just tell us what to do…cuz you know, you did the most private act to GET pregnant (whether it’s sex or a more medicalized version of sex) and they would have NEVER told you how to do THAT…but now that you are pregnant, they feel like they can comment on what you should do with your vagina.  Right?  Hello, no, I say!  As a childbirth educator and birth doula, I hear it all the time from my clients:  “am I allowed to ____?”, “will they let me _____?”.  Wow, I thought we were grown-ups here.  Turns out we are, just fearful ones.  Lacking knowledge and confidence.  We’re about to raise a friggin’ human, though, so it’s TIME TO GET GUTSY!  One mama at a time, I say!

This blog is about being gutsy in any part of life.  I’ll write about being gutsy throughout my experiences and talk about others’ experiences, whether in pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting my two kids or even comment on other parenting theories, or just talk about life in general.  No subject is off limits!  Have something you want me to write about, please, please, let me know!

~ Jeanette…one proud gutsy mama!