Why I No Longer Care If My House Is Clean…

Dusty

Let’s be real… I’ve never cared if my house is clean. But once I started having children, the pretty low standards I began with kind of bottomed out.

YAY! I’ve been published again on the parenting website, Red Tricycle! Please click here to read the rest of my article and then share it widely with those who you think might want to read it. And I’d really love it if you’d comment below if you feel like cleaning has taken a back seat to your parenting (“Misery loves company!” or maybe, “There’s solidarity in numbers!” – ??? In any case, it will make me feel a lot better about the state of my house if I know I’m not the ONLY one.)

#YourTrueCalling – Quest 2017 Begins

quest-2017

What is your vocation, your sense of callings as a human being at this point in your life, both in and beyond job and title?

And so it begins… Quest 2017! An adventure not for the faint of heart because this is just the first of thirteen prompts from visionaries in different fields provided to us “Questers” as an alignment for the coming year. Think of it as a full body (mind, heart, and spirit, too!) alignment, so that as the beginning of 2017 opens the best self is ready to bust open the door and do big things – with thoughtfulness and intention.

This first prompt, by Krista Tippet of On Being no less, gets the ball rolling by asking us to name our true calling. And if this is any example, we’re going to be going deep – fast.

I’ve written before about how the work that I do with expectant families is my true calling. In fact, it was the first post I’ve ever written on this blog. But over time that calling has shifted.

When I first started out, before I’d ever given birth or actually done any parenting of my own, I had the naive and at times self-righteous passion of a activist teenager. After all, I had taken the training, I had read ALL of the books, and I knew what was “best” for the women and families in my classes. I had a bad case of tunnel vision. Loads of desire and passion, but no real-life experience. I remember meeting with my families at reunions after they’d given birth and I would feel personally responsible, as though I’d let them down, if they ended up with a birth that didn’t look like anything they’d written on the Birth Plan they drafted during class.

As if I, or their 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, had any control over how their births would unfold.

I find myself today, almost 20 years and four children of my own later, with a completely different mindset. I’ve mellowed in some ways and gotten even more passionate in others.

The realities of pregnancy, birth and parenting are so much more nuanced than I once believed them to be. There are too many variables to account for, too many that are unseen or unexpected, for anyone to really make an actual plan about how these things will play out. So instead, I try to work with pregnant women and the people who love them in ways that I think will really prepare them for what’s to come.

  • I want the families in my care to have positive birth experiences – no matter how their births unfold. I want them to come to my class, or talk with me over the phone or on a Skype session and feel listened to, validated and understood.
  • I want them to have knowledge about how they can best fully participate in their births. To not only accept their feelings of vulnerability around this life-changing event, but to embrace these feelings and move toward them with intention.
  • I want them to feel confident in their ability to do this thing called birth, but also know what questions to ask when necessary that will help them make decisions in real time, as birth happens.
  • Instead of chasing after the ideal “Pinterest Birth Experience,” I want them to be ready for the real, authentic, messiness that often happens in birth. I want them to know that even when birth goes rogue, it can still be a Positive Birth Experience.
  • I want them to drop comparison and judgement from their birth and parenting experiences. Both of these things are so detrimental to developing a sense of self-confidence in their new role. Judgement of others stems from a deep sense of insecurity and does little to lessen it. And when time is spent imagining others’ experience, there’s no chance to enjoy or be present in this very real moment.

It’s hard for me to distinguish my professional from my personal vocation or calling – which is as it should be, in my opinion. I want my every interaction to be honest, open, authentic and real. That kind of connection with others can only happen from a place of trust. I need to trust that in laying myself bare, others can put down their own armor and we can meet heart to heart. That means acknowledging when I’ve made a mistake, asking for forgiveness, and admitting that I need help. It means practicing what I preach to the families in my classes: Don’t run from feelings of vulnerability, explore them with wonder and curiosity – remaining open to the transformation that can occur.

So… This is my first reflection to Quest 2017 with the ever-amazing Jeffrey Davis and his Tracking Wonder Team. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in December, a prompt for reflection will appear in my inbox – and depending on the nature of the prompt, I might choose to post my reflection here on the blog if I think it relates well to my work. If not, I’ll post to the private Quest 2017 Facebook forum for the group.

This Quest is open to the public and it’s completely FREE. You can join me and many, many others from around the globe as we intentionally and thoughtfully look to 2017 and map out how we wish to bring our best selves forward to do the work in our personal and professional lives that we feel called to do.

And, as happens from time to time, a song pops into my head while I’m writing a blog post. Seeing as the title of this first prompt is #YourTrueCalling, try and guess what song came to mind and Will.Not.Go.Away? It’s not an exact fit, but it’s a pretty great ear worm. If you’re so inclined, you can give it a listen and a look here. (80’s MTV at it’s best…)

I’m One of the “Spokes” on Red Tricycle!

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Whoop! Whoop!

Just found out that one of my blogposts from about a year ago has been picked up and published on Red Tricycle. If you’re not one of the 8 million parents that access this site on a regular basis, Red Tricycle is a kind of go-to, online parenting website where families can discover cool things to do with their kiddos, both nationally and locally. Over the years, if I’ve had a long weekend ahead of me, I’m not scheduled to teach a class, and I need some ideas about what to do with the kiddos, I’ve definitely checked them out!

Recently, they’ve started posting articles that are not just about fun things to do as a family, but more about the experience of parenting. That’s where I come in!

I submitted a blog post I wrote about a year ago which is titled, The Parental Code of Honor. It’s my offering to get all parents – expectant, newbies, even veterans – to support one another as we try our very best to do the hardest, most rewarding job many of us will ever have: the job of raising our children.

None of us is perfect at this. Thankfully, none of us have to be.

But the first step in supporting one another in this parenting journey is to only offer suggestions and advice – when specifically asked to do so.

You can find this and other tips about how to support one another in The Parental Code of Honor published just this morning at Red Tricycle. And if you haven’t checked them out before, stay awhile and poke around. They have lots of cool ideas about how to make the most of your life with little people. Including this list of 20 awesome things to do with your kids in Portland over the long Labor Day weekend. By the way, MY family will be busy doing #14! 

PS – Have a great holiday weekend, and thanks so much for your support. 

What About The Book, Barb???

WhatAboutTheBook

“How’s the book coming?”

Why does such an easy question inevitably lead to such a complicated answer?

Yesterday morning, I told my visiting mother-in-law that I was going downstairs to try and write for “just a little bit.” Which prompted her to ask me about “the book” and “how it was going.” I felt compelled to try and answer even though I knew I had a very small window to write because of the way my day was unfolding. 

I only had so much time before trekking off to our local park to fill 100 water balloons for my kids field day celebration I was volunteering at later in the afternoon. As it turns out, field day was happening just a couple of hours before the ice cream fundraiser that I’d coordinated earlier in May. And both of these things were happening after a late night of mentoring a new educator, and before heading off to teach a class while two new (different!) educators would be observing me as part of their on-boarding orientation.

So, where does my writing fit in when I’ve got so much teaching and mothering going on?

Some days, it takes priority and I set aside hours to flesh out an idea for a blogpost, or review my BIG book about birth to see if it’s still in alignment with what I’m wanting to convey, or compile blogposts about “The 4th Trimester” into what I’m hoping will be a smaller, e-book about “What To Expect After You’ve Been Expecting.” (What do you think of this tentative title? I’d love to know…)

On those days, when I have the time to devote to these projects, I sit at my dining room table, put on my streaming Jazz station and get to work. My writing seems to mirror my extroverted personality: just put it out there, onto the page, all at once. I can get to a really, really rough draft of close to a 1,000 words pretty quickly.

And then the fun part happens – editing.

I’ve created a really odd writing habit. I write the first draft as a document and then cut and paste it into my blog site’s editing mode. I might edit the piece 25-30 times before I hit the “publish” button, but I always keep a copy of the original document on file. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s so I can look back and see how much improved my final post is before any of you get to see it.

But all of this takes a lot of time.

So on those “writing days” everything else falls by the wayside. And by “everything,” what I really mean is cleaning the house. It’s gotten to the point where I need to schedule some gatherings at my house just in order to actually clean it up every once in awhile. Thankfully, I have a hubby and kids who get what I’m trying to do. They support me completely, and rarely point out that I’m quickly losing any hope of winning the title, “World’s Best Housekeeper” (Which, let’s be honest, I’ve never been in the running for.)

But on days like yesterday, I strap myself in, write what I can, and move into “git-er-dun” mode.

“How’s the book coming?” Well, yesterday my answer went something like this…

I’m still concentrating on THE BOOK, but there are a lot of other things that I do and that need my attention in order for the book to be what I want it to be. I’m taking steps to update my blogsite into an actual website. I’m gathering the curriculum to begin offering my Becoming Us classes. I’m co-teaching some great trainings for L&D nurses so they can concentrate on ways to provide more support for their patients who are hoping for an unmedicated, low or no-intervention birth experience. I’m mentoring three new educators into this field that I have such a love and passion for. I’m creating a new DBA (“doing business as”) account under my name and printing business cards. I’m focusing my attention more on the smaller book about early postpartum and figuring out exactly what’s necessary to bring that project to completion. And so, THE BOOK is on the back burner at the moment.

And I’m doing all of these other things between the hours of 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, M-F (on a good day!) Evenings, weekends (and field days!) – I’m busy doing other stuff. I know I’m not the only Momma out there who’s right in the thick of it, trying to carve out time for herself and her creative pursuits while in the middle of life. But as I wrote just last week, I can’t do it all, and I’m (trying) to be okay with that.

My impatient self would like to be “done already” on so many of these projects. But my wiser, less-impulsive self is realizing that whatever is worthy of my attention, whatever is worthy of being shared with the world, takes time. Time is a priceless commodity and it is finite – there are only 24 hours in a day, after all.

And by the time I’d written that sentence, I’d just about used up all the time I’d allotted for the day, in terms of writing. So, off I went to eat a quick lunch before water-balloon-filling-duty began.

I encourage all of you to realize that whatever “thing” you’re trying to accomplish today, this week, month, year – has to somehow fit into the daily living of your life. Take stock of all that you do in a single day and realize what progress you’re actually making.

You’re moving toward the completion of your projects – they’re not going anywhere without you! Just remember to breathe and do what is able to get done today. Try not to let the past fill you with regrets of wasted time and effort – it was all necessary to be where you are right now. And don’t let the future be filled with panicked thoughts of “When will it ever get done?”

Just today – take stock of all that you accomplished in every area of your life. And allow yourself to feel good, and strong, and proud. This is the only way I know how you’ll be able to get up tomorrow morning and keep on trucking.

Most of the time, I write these posts for you, but I realize now that this is one I wrote for myself. I hope that doesn’t come across as too indulgent! I think I needed to both write and read this post more than anyone else. I needed to take stock of where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m hoping to end up – eventually.

Thanks for your support. It really is appreciated. And thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law! She gave me this blog post topic to write about – and a new perspective to think about.

I’m Adding “Guest Storyteller” to My Bio!

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I’m so pleased to have been asked to be a part of the lovely, Marisa Goudy‘s #365StrongStories project by contributing this super short reflection (especially for me, dear reader!) about the moment that I figured out what the word, “mother,” really meant.

Knowing Motherhood

My baby lay on my chest, warm and wet from being born just moments before. I called my parents to announce they were grandparents – again. This was their 10th, but my first. Still high on the other side of giving birth, I looked at her impossibly tiny fingernails, and dialed. My Dad picked up on the first ring shouting with joy. Mom got on next and the minute I heard her voice, I burst into tears.

“I’m so sorry!”

Concerned, she asked, “For what, honey?”

“For all the times that I said I’d be home by midnight and didn’t come home until 2 am! For all the times you must have worried. For everything!”

She chuckled, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” Which only made me sob harder.

How is it that the word “mother” remains unknown, unknowable, until you are a mother yourself?

Just as my mothering journey was beginning, the veil that obscured motherhood had been pulled away. Suddenly and with great clarity, I realized that all of those times I’d been convinced my Mom was “ruining my life” were just her attempts to save me from harm. I couldn’t make sense of this at the time. The center of my universe was me.

Now, holding this completely dependent, tiny little person, I realized the enormity of it all. I had just irrevocably committed myself to doing everything possible to raise this child into adulthood with an intact and healthy spirit. What the hell was I getting myself into?

I couldn’t believe that my Mom had made this commitment six times – all without a mother of her own to call and apologize to.

Where does this determination come from? To love so fiercely that your heart catches in your throat at the thought of your baby ever getting hurt?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But my Mom was willing to show up and answer them. I’m forever grateful that I have the opportunity to show up and answer them myself, however imperfectly.

But I admit it: I’m looking forward to receiving that call to support my own daughters when it’s time for them show up and try to answer these questions on their own motherhood journeys.

 

To learn more about Marisa Goudy’s #365StrongStories project, visit here. Subscribe to the weekly digest to read more stories of motherhood and the quest for a magical, creative life and pick up Marisa’s free guide to telling stories that connect. It’s great!

I’m a Literary Mama!

LMToday is the day!

I received the official news from the editors at Literary Mama that my essay I submitted to them in late Summer, which eventually went through six revisions, has gone live!

I’m so excited for this “origin story” to be out there in print. It tells how I came to be a writer, a title which I am finally beginning to own. The process of working with the editors at LM was wonderful for me. They were patient, encouraging and I could feel with each back and forth that they were really wanting my piece to be the best version possible. I think we achieved that together: my words + their editing prowess.

If you’re interested in great writing by women, who also happen to be mothers, please do yourself a favor and head over here to read some amazing stuff.

And while you’re there, read my essay and join the revolution, won’t you?

Thanks so much for your continued support of me and my writing. It means everything to me!

PS – If you have a story to tell, or a personal revolution you’re wanting to start – but need guidance just how to do this in an authentic way, I highly recommend Jeffrey Davis and his Tracking Wonder team of professionals. Jeffrey is leading this group of amazing individuals who are committed to doing business as unusual, and unlocking your best potential.

It’s a Question of Quality

Quality

Of these 3 options, which one is most important in your work right now:

Quality of Life

Quality of Work

Quality of Compensation

This was the latest prompt on my Quest journey and it comes from visionary, Sally Hogshead. (There’s still time to jump on board for all the goodness that Quest 2016 has to offer for anyone who’s wanting to do business as unusual for the coming year. Join in. It’s fun, thought-provoking, and free!)

I’ve answered all of the Quest prompts so far, but most of them have landed on the private Facebook page set up for our group. All have asked me how or what I want to do differently in 2016, but I wasn’t sure my answers aligned with this blog. But this one does. I’m always trying to talk people into becoming a Childbirth Educator, because I feel my job hits all three options.

Quality of Life:

I work only evenings and weekends. To some, this might sound like a terrible schedule! But when you have four kids you need to get really creative about how you’re going to work so you don’t end up with a full-time job you hate – just to pay the childcare bills. My job allows me to have the best of both worlds: I am there for school drop-off and pick-up, I attend field trips (at least those that involve theater or dance performances), I’m able to have a presence at my kids’ school, but I still have outside work – which matters way more to me than I would have guessed. My own Momma was a stay-at-homer and I grew up thinking that parenting was the most important job a person could ever do (for the record, I still feel that way!) so I expected to be content with doing the work of mothering “only” – but I was mistaken. I very much appreciate having out-of-the-home work, too. That was a surprise. I have a job that allows for true work-life balance.

Quality of Work:

I love my job. It’s constantly changing. Each and every classroom of students informs me and makes me a better educator. I’ve been able to grow and evolve over the years, expand my repertoire in and outside of the classroom, and have gotten to the point of feeling ready to write about this subject that matters so much to me. I’m encouraged by my colleagues and students to pursue writing my book to have even greater impact in my field of perinatal and parenting education. Close to twenty years in this career, and I still haven’t experienced any boredom with the subject matter. Likewise, I’ve never stopped feeling like I couldn’t continue to improve my presentation and teaching skills. I think this is extraordinary!

Quality of Compensation:

Well, the “joke” is that you’ll never get rich being a Childbirth Educator. This is true. It’s hard for any CBE to be able to work this job only and be able to support her family. Thankfully, I have a husband who works full-time, carries our health insurance, and is a fantastic co-parent in the off-hours when I’m gone. I don’t have the same worries others do when their work is sporadic and part-time. I’m lucky for that. And all things being equal, I get paid a decent hourly wage. It’s my job that pays for all the “extras.” I pay for Summer Camps, dance and saxophone lessons, acting classes and soccer. Having four kids means having lots of extras and I’m happy to contribute in this way. I know how much these extras enhance the overall quality of our family life.

If I were to focus on any of these options for 2016, receiving more compensation for my offerings would be great!  But I need to focus on what those offerings might be, first.

I’ve done some one-on-one phone consultations for people who are not in the Portland Metro area. Is this something I could charge for? It’s certainly something I enjoy doing, and it would only positively impact my quality of life and work.

The book I’m busy writing – it would be nice to be compensated for this offering, but this is unlikely to bring in much income in 2016. There’s still much work to do, as my focus has shifted and I’m more realistic about the timeline. But what offers ancillary to the book could I be working on that might bring in some form of compensation?

What about presentations and trainings? I love to give presentations and I’m good at it. Is this an area that I can expand, maybe even outside of my own field, and be compensated for it? I love to train new educators. How could this be rolled into my toolbox of offerings that would continue to feed all three options: quality of life, work and compensation?

All good things to consider as I move into 2016. I feel like this year I’m finally ready to take the necessary steps forward to increase the quality of my life, work and compensation.

How about you? What are you doing now that supports these options? What might you do differently in 2016 to better support one or more of these options?