Quest 2016 Begins in Earnest

Quest2016

I’ve signed up for another virtual quest accompanied by a group of wonderful creatives from around the globe with Jeffrey Davis at the front of the pack leading us along a path where we pause every couple of days to ponder how we might want to do things differently this year. He’s brought together 12 visionaries from all walks of life and work to create prompts for us along the way. Questions that might nudge us to dig a little deeper, think a little differently, and create with more authenticity. Today marks the beginning of Quest 2016. There’s still time to join if you are intrigued!

Today’s prompt comes from Susan Piver:

“What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…” 

My answer is both simple and straightforward – as well as complicated and unclear. I am wrestling with what seems to be my life’s constant companion: impatience.

I began questing for real over 3 years ago when I met Jeffrey Davis​ via Karen Brody​ and a webinar that she offered for those of us in the “birth world” who were interested in writing a book. A book? Me? It was only a passing thought, a fanciful idea that I might have something to say about my work with families in that most beautiful place where vulnerability crashes through whatever walls they’ve built to transform them – body and soul.

I listened to what Jeffrey had to say, albeit with a bit of skepticism. I kept wondering if he was authentic – a quality that I place the highest value on. Jeffrey is, in fact, as authentic as they come. As are all of the people he runs with. I jumped in with both feet and began my quest of writing a book having no idea where it would take me.

But three years later, I’m still writing the damn book!

Most writers reading this are probably shaking their heads right now and laughing! The gift of coming into the world of writing (relatively) late, is that I have no real idea what I’m doing. I make it all up as I go along and this affords me a level of naiveté that those steeped in the writing profession are already wise to: writing a book takes a really long time. Writing a good book, even longer. And a great book? The only one worth writing, in my opinion.

So, in the grand scheme of things, three+ years is nothing. And I’ve written 70,000 words already while working part-time and raising four children. I’ve started this blog and have maintained it for a little over a year (admittedly, some months better than others). I’ve submitted an essay that’s been accepted internationally (Canada, eh?), and I have one in the middle of the editing process right now. Most importantly, I’m more clear than ever what the real theme of my book is as a result of spending a week with the YBNS crew at Mohonk this past October having nothing else to distract me from The Story. Not too shabby, when I see it all written out, and yet…

I want this book to be completed already!

I’m actually enjoying the direction that my life has taken as I began this quest so long ago. I love the people that I’ve met because of this and my life (and social media) have both greatly improved as a result. It’s just that I keep wanting to get my message out there – into the hands and hearts of my people.

My message is not for everyone, but for the right people, I know it will have an impact on how they view themselves as individuals, parents and as a family. (Such audacity! Another gift of being new to this writing gig!) My message is clearer for the time it’s been percolating – getting knocked around, battered and bruised for all the rewriting that’s had to happen. My writing is so much stronger for all of it – for the blogging, the teaching, but most of all, the learning.

Impatience is both a curse and a blessing. Impatience spurs me on and keeps me going especially when the daily demands of being pulled in so many different directions threaten to unravel everything.

But impatience can also be paralyzing.

What if someone else writes my book before I do? Which, even though I don’t think is really possible, I scan the bookshelves at Powell’s just to make sure. I wonder if I’ll know when I’m done. I’m worried about what the next best step is to getting this project off the ground.

I have dreams of being farther along, or better yet, finished and that then maybe this restless feeling I have will finally settle. But maybe that’s just it – maybe once I said “Yes!” to this quest, I actually said yes to traveling on a journey that never really ends.

Maybe that’s what I most need to tell myself about 2016 – that this is just the beginning of my lifelong Quest. Make peace with your impatience, girl, because it will never go away – not completely. Once this quest is done – the book gets written, dare I say published? – don’t I secretly, or maybe not so secretly, hope for another quest to begin? See, my answer is simple and confounding at the same time. As all quests must be, I guess.

The irony of this revelation is not lost on me – it’s what I encourage my families to do as they prepare for their babies birth: Be open, flexible, vulnerable, expect the unexpected and – be patient.

Good advice that I might want to start taking.

If you’re at all interested in following what happens with this particular quest as I dare to write this book, please subscribe or follow this blog. You’ll be my traveling companions. I couldn’t imagine making this journey without you!

I’m Ready for My Close Up!

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As new parents you might be tempted to try and capture every moment with your new baby. This is true of almost every parent – even those of us who had babies before smart phones were ever invented! (I know, I know… I’m old.)

I’m putting this in writing for the sake of my two younger children – it’s not that I care any less for them. But if you were to look around my house, it would  appear that I only have two children. And really, it would look like I adore #1, and I kinda like #2 based solely on the number of actual photos that are in frames. And then I just stopped having children. In reality, I went on to have two more. It’s not that I don’t capture any moments of #3 or #4, it’s just that they’re all stuck on the computer,or my phone. Rarely do they ever get posted anywhere! Am I bad Momma? No, I’m a just busy one.

I’m happen to be #4 of six children in my own family. My oldest brother’s baby book was completed from cover to cover – snips of light brown curls from his first haircut, his first lost tooth, all of the major milestones written out in detail. And my baby book? Well – at least it has my name written in it.

Now, when I was young, I was a little resentful of that, I’m not going to lie to you. But today? Not a chance – because I recognize just how full my life is and trying to capture every single damn minute of our amazing fun and exciting adventures would be impossible! (Just a hint of sarcasm here.) I’m also not someone who’s very good at the selfie (I just got on Instagram six months ago and I think I’ve posted five times). Clearly, photography is not one of my strengths.

I’d like to provide a word of caution to all of you new parents about trying to capture all of those countless moments of your baby as a newborn. Take some, for sure, because in looking back you won’t be able to remember they were ever that tiny when they were fresh and new to this world. But sometimes, when the urge to snap a quick photo and post to social media hits you, stop yourself and just try to take it all in. This moment, now. What made it so important that you wanted everyone to see it? Reflect on that and maybe capture that image, that moment, in your heart instead.

So much of our lives are lived online these days that it’s precious relief to find stolen moments when no one else needs to see this or experience it except for you and your new little family. Breathe in the scent of your delicious new little baby, smile at the sweetness with which your partner gives them a bath, take a selfie of the three of you – that no one else will ever see.

Some of this transition to parenting is so very hard and real and messy – but we rarely ever see a post or a picture about that anywhere. We’ve yet to find an outlet that allows or approves of the reality of new parenting. And so instead, the only things we ever see are how wonderful life is with a newborn. A lot of it is, but let’s be real – a lot of it isn’t. Don’t get sucked into the myth that your worth as new parents needs to live up to the “magical moments” you capture for consumption on social media.

I’m not saying to stop being a part of the social media landscape, I’m in it, too! But recognize, as well, that every single second of every single day your baby is changing and growing – and so are you. All of you moving through this “new normal” that feels so abnormal while you’re stuck in the middle of it. But the only images that ever make it onto your computer screen or phone, are the great ones. We don’t post the not-so-great ones, do we? Maybe it’s because when we look back, we only want to remember that it was a positive time, our transition to parenthood. But that’s not based on reality and I think it robs you and your partner from acknowledging the incredibly hard work that went into this life-changing transformation.

So, maybe you capture a few of the not-so-great images, too. Don’t worry, you don’t need to post them anywhere, they can be just for you. Images that record your early parenting “fails” to help you realize that this is how it’s always been: a series of ups and downs as you learn and grow into this new role that has been thrust upon you. When you think about it, nine months is really not enough time to be truly prepared for the enormity of parenting. But you can do this. You are doing this. It’s not necessary to capture every moment of it for posterity. There are things about this time that make permanent impressions that will never be forgotten.

Because they’ve been captured in your heart.

As new parents are you finding it challenging to keep up with the task of capturing all the milestones of your new baby’s life? Would it make your transition easier to lighten up on this a little bit? What are your thoughts about capturing the not-so-great moments of new parenting?