There is something innately drilled into the core of my being: EXPECTATION. Especially during the holidays! Whether it’s baking or hosting, going to all of the events, wearing Christmas attire or having a perfectly decorated home, I have had a crazy elf-like compulsion since birth to be Martha Stewart (except if Martha were Ina Garten). I want ALL Norman Rockwell, ALL the time… in my mind.
Reality, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing. Reality is the crazy number of hours put in and the guilt-ridden financial costs spent on hosting holiday dinners for 20. It’s the astronomical number of cookie platters you make for everyone you’ve ever met in your life and the devastation they’re not enjoyed due to special diets, eating vegan or gluten free. It’s the panic of going to every single function in the name of Christmas and never allowing yourself an opportunity to breathe. BUT YOU LOVE IT, RIGHT??? And like a wing nut, in many ways I do.
But oftentimes, rather than be filled with inspiration and the real joy of the season, it can become a quiet comparison– a festering comparison to the instagram Martha Stewarts of the world that are nailing it, leading me to question all of my life choices.
And the worst part? Even when I do get it ‘right’ and my life looks like a Pier One commercial for exactly 30 seconds, I’m usually let down. I can control everything until I can’t. People are late. There is weather. Health emergencies. Car accidents. Job losses. And the kicker? FAMILY. Oh, the joys of family! Don’t we all just have the PERFECT FAMILY???!!!
(People, I adore my family but we’re all so different we ain’t never gonna be Norman Rockwell. We’re more like you’re 12 year old niece’s watercolor version of Thomas Kincaid you bought at the family garage sale).
This year especially– being eight months pregnant, the expectation doesn’t stop at owning Ina’s ‘Cooking For Jeffrey.’ Following the baby forums online, every post is about “Show us your nurseries!” or “Look at my maternity photos!” The nurseries are adorably painted and themed, and– oh my God– these maternity photos are out of control. Many of these goddess moms look like magical unicorns with their fresh flower crowns, big bellies and ethereal see through robes, walking through rivers, so connected to Mother Earth now as pregnant women…
Having just moved from Washington to California at the start of my third trimester (and the chaos/reality/energy that comes with making major life decisions based solely on faith and trust), your expectations about pretty much everything are OBLITERATED.
When reality set in and the angels whisper-screamed, “We are well aware of what you want, Martha, but you might want to pray to Mother Mary about what you need,” it put things in perspective right quick.
We were magically taken care of in every way possible. Within a month, my husband had his pick of jobs, we found a doctor, we got insurance. Thanks to a young man my husband works with, we found a place to live for an amazing deal. It was an emotional rollercoaster of a month, and of course we still have very real and legitimate fears and concerns, but when so much is taken care of for you so fast, you trust the journey. You trust the angels. You’re grateful your friends made room at their inn, your donkey is a Mazda Tribute and you’re grateful to not be pressured with a Christ-child.
It has made me think A LOT about expectations… and how not a single one friggin matters. I kinda knew this already but I didn’t. Never to this extent.
What does motherhood really mean? What does ‘successful motherhood’ look like? What is a nursery? What is actually important? When all the popular and materialistic pregnancy bells and whistles of our culture are stripped away, as they have been for my husband and I in many ways, what does being pregnant really look like?
Maybe it’s not about unicorn maternity photos. Maybe it looks like stretch marks and duck fuzz…
Maybe we’re not branding our baby on Instagram or shopping for baby clothes at Ralph Lauren but we have a nursery! This is what it looks like:
The simplicity of having no expectations, makes what you have feel sooo abundant. It makes six bags of gifted baby boy clothes over-the-top exciting to put on our little girl.
It has me thinking about the holidays… Without money for gifts or the energy for the bells and whistles of decorations, dinners, family or festivities– things that aren’t guaranteed for my husband and I this year, what does Christmas look like now? What does it mean? Is it the worst holiday ever or does it still get to be Christmas?
Maybe it’s not about having your own tree. Maybe it’s being grateful for a night with your seester, who does have all her delicious and magical bells and whistles up this year:
Maybe it’s not about a table with family and all the fixings. Maybe it’s an old school shout out to the very first Christmas and what that might look like today:
And if you’re really stripped of everything you’re accustomed to, maybe it’s just the audacity and hilarity of a cat’s butt on your neck while you were trying to write a blog about Christmas:
I think it’s worth a ponder…
For me, once I let go of all the white knuckled expectation about the holidays and pregnancy, it’s been a relief. Suddenly, we’re no longer behind. We’re right where we should be. To have people around that love us is enough. It’s sooo much more than most. Every gift you receive becomes a free fall of emotional gratitude. And at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, the situation itself truly becomes the biggest gift of the season.
Yesterday was a long day. I got up early, meditated, packed bags, ran errands, drove up the mountains, made calls, texted contacts, made plans for Thanksgiving, met up with a realtor, looked at some houses, lost my wallet, went to lunch, met up with my honey, had a meeting with our lender, miraculously managed to get to the cabin that was gifted to us for the night without barfing, more calls and texts, unpacked bags. Then, I found my wallet. In a fog of severe ‘pregnancy brain,’ I had managed to zip my wallet into my make-up bag thinking it was my purse. Yikes. Just one day of many…
Remember when I used to bake and take photos? Was that a dream?
When we got to the cabin, we were absolutely exhausted and feeling a bit down and out. While so much has happened, and happened in our favor in a very short amount of time, truly none of it has felt easy. Lliam was able to find work quickly and started his job last week. Still without a place to live, he has been car camping while I have been visiting my sis in San Diego. Yesterday was the first we’d seen each other in a week. With all that’s going on, it felt like a lifetime.
Talking to the lender was both encouraging and disappointing. She’s totally awesome… But with one income, we are prequalified for about 46 cents, and 54 cents if we can come up with a $4-6k down payment. She had a lot of fantastic suggestions and she definitely wants to get us a house in a financially healthy way. But to jump through a million hoops again, as we’ve already done with the DMV, doctors, health clinics, contacting the IRS for W2’s, etc, finding co-borrowers and taking loans from friends sounded exhausting last night and felt hopeless. Two steps forward, two steps back. Needless to say, when we got to the cabin, Lliam and I snuggled the hell out of each other.
This morning when Lliam left for work I said, “Honey, I’m glad you’re my husband, okay?” My ‘cute’ way of saying that I loved and appreciated him. “Oh, that’s so nice,” he says back. A moment later he pops his head back in and says, “Sweetie, I’m so proud you’re my wife.”
I’m not sure why– because we’re pretty respectful and sweet to each other all the time, but the comment plinko-ed it’s way to the bottom of my heart and warmly made its home there. My husband is proud of me. All 846 pounds of pregnant, invalid me– swollen thighs, ass like a barn door, wife that can’t walk more than a block due to joint pain in my knees, that gets carsick every single time we drive up the mountain (despite him driving slow), and can’t contribute financially because car camping in my third bladder-filled trimester feels like death… And yet, he doesn’t just love me, he’s proud of me. (WHY???) But I am also soooo proud of him!!! The man he is, who he is choosing to be. How much he cares about this family and works hard for us. The way he rubs my belly excitedly and asks, “How are my girls!?”
This morning it made me think of the Jack/Rebecca relationship in the NBC show, ‘This Is Us.’ The couple with triplets that has absolutely no idea what is going on but trusts everything will be okay because they believe in their love. Lliam and I are very different characters on our hit show, but our love and commitment to each other is the same. Or, in a song I wrote and blubbered through on our wedding day… ‘It’s a life I trust because it’s us.’ It got me thinking so hard about how I’ve been feeling and ultimately, about the love around us.
Every day I wake up in fear and anxiety. There are tears and panic. I want answers now. It truly is a daily unveiling– a moment by moment surrender. And we signed up for that. I can handle it because we felt led to move here. There are such amazing lessons and growth in this and I truly believe we will feel unstoppable, in many ways, forever after.
But when this faith and these lessons, comes at the expense and generosity– and continued generosity— of friends and family, the clock ticks and my stomach turns. Hey angels! Can’t we move this along for their sake? It is their burden and mine. It is the heaviest weight I carry and a guilt I drag behind me. I know this is a tragic attitude in manifesting a place to live so I do my best to surrender this thought as well.
Instead, I meditate. I listen to Christmas music. I remember the holiday season is upon us and that I decide what the holidays mean to me. I stay proactive for the sake of taking action. I say no to the friends I moved here for and instead rest as much as I can. I let myself feel what I need to feel in order to keep my spirits up and vibration high. I realize that ‘This is Us’ isn’t one couple’s love story. It’s not about one family. ‘This is Us’ is about ALL of us.
When I let go of the guilt, I am able to see the real story… I watch my friends become innkeepers, saying yes to the Christmas story in their own way. (Less Messiah, more Baby Soul.) When I told my sis I might have to give birth in a stable, she texted me that she had hay, a variety of animals and even an astrologer present to chart the stars for my visit. Ha!
We eat bagels and drink iced tea at Starbucks from the $100 gift card given to me by a friend and angel in Mazama. $200 in cash for our trip, lovely cards and a Mazama onesie for our little girl! I stay at various faux ‘Airbnbs’– apartments, cabins… every day we have a place to stay. A server being overly kind because I don’t notice until I’m back in the car that my eyes are red. Lliam’s church gifting us a carseat/stroller combination. Friends of friends that offer a slew of baby items I haven’t even begun to think about yet. (Oh right, we’re having a baby…) I feel the angels rejoice like its Christmas…
For months I’ve had that goofy song ‘We are Santa’s Elves’ from Rudolph in my head and had no idea why. I realize the lesson on this journey might actually have nothing to do with what I manifest in faith. It’s soooo not about me. It has everything to do with seeing the world with new eyes– that Demagorgans at the DMV aren’t truth or reality. Instead, that kindness and acts of beauty in the world exist now more than ever in humanity. In goodness, we’re all connected. It’s a planet full of Santa’s Helpers.
This thought is still a work in progress, maybe… But at the very least, I’m grateful to recognize my friends, family and the world around me, in the below clip… When you have a world this cute and so excited to help, what’s not to be grateful for? Makes me want to put on some elf ears and get to work because this? THIS is us.
With a baby on the way, my husband and I moved to California two weeks ago to be closer to friends and family for support. While folks from the Methow Valley in Washington are posting photos of beloved snowy adventures, we are looking for jobs and a place to live seven months pregnant while crashing with friends in sunny SoCal. (Psssh, no big). 😉
This was my last contribution as the weekly Mazama Valley Life Columnist for The Methow Valley News. Two weeks into our new adventure, revisiting this column was a reminder to continue to trust and embrace the adventure before us. The column was originally published in The Methow Valley News October 18, 2017.
A couple of months ago, during the height of home renovation, Seattle photography classes and taking on extra articles at our paper, I was asked to do the Fall cover for the Methow Valley Arts Magazine. It’s one of my favorite assignments. I love working with artists, hearing their story and doing my best to capture that story in images. It’s always a unique and interesting exchange.
This issue was dedicated to a local folk singer named Hank Cramer.
We met for coffee and got to chat for a while. His wife Kit, a high country wrangler, even joined us for a bit. They’re really sweet people that have learned over the years what it means for Hank to be a professional singer. In the process of his successful career, he’s recently been able to help find and produce some other talent (“no egos!”), which it seemed like has been really gratifying for him.
They live on a ranch in Winthrop, Washington, with horses, dogs and a cat.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, you may have heard of our wildfire situation pretty much all over our state, coming from Canada and from neighboring Montana, Oregon and California. The smoke has been thick and intense all summer. The day we scheduled to shoot, there was an apocalyptic yellow haze that hung in the sky like nicotine clouds. Not having seen real sunshine for days, we just had to go with it and I did my best.
I had dreams of horses backlit by golden hour sunlight and dust in the air. However, without any real light, I’m not going to lie, it was a real struggle to make things interesting.
Hank serenaded me with his folk music almost the entire time. It was so nice, peaceful and comforting and yet many times I’d have to make him hold still. A face captured while singing tends to be what it looks like when you put a movie on pause- ha!
I think this one is my favorite of the outdoor portraits.
If you read the biography on his website, you will see that he has traveled all over the country as a musician. It’s pretty incredible.
I was feeling iffy about the outdoor shots. I was concerned the haze would feel more gas mask/ war torn than folk singer’s dreamy ranch life, and wanted back-up options. I asked him if we could go inside to get a few more. I’m soooo glad I did! He has a little guest house and for whatever reason, the light and the booth reminded me of a cowboy’s early morning cup o’ joe, when the world is quiet, the sun is just waking up to a big day of work ahead.
Not to mention, I LOVE the moodiness of window light. The contrast of dark and light can be really haunting and lovely to me. This is probably my favorite of the indoor portraits.
And this is probably my favorite of all the shots that day… I just love the light on a musician’s hands.
Since this shoot, I haven’t picked up a camera. I haven’t edited a picture. Between all that has been going on to get our home ready for the market, two Seattle photography classes that were within two weeks of each other, this shoot and editing, all while being pregnant with stress fractures in my feet (podiatrist appointment on Thursday- YESSSSSS)…Oh! And taking on extra article at our paper because our poor editor was down for the count for a couple of months with some crazy back virus… It was a LOT.
Now that the house is clean, I pretty much spend all of my extra time meditating. Ha! No, really. No check lists, no to do’s, no hundreds of photos to edit… I’ve barely kept in touch with people. Anything that feels like panic or work or ‘I have to’ has been shelved. It has been the most amazing few weeks. I would even use the word BLISS.
I also packed up all of my baking stuff to make the house look less cluttered, so no baking 24-7 temptations there. It’s like every instinct in me is saying, “It’s fall- you’re supposed to be making apple pie!” No, Habit. I’m really not. I actually bought a pie at the store yesterday. Ha! I BOUGHT A PIE!!! (Granted the pies at our bakery are kick ass, but still…)
Not to mention, the storage on my laptop is completely full with the photos I have on it. I couldn’t import anything new if I tried! I bought a monstrosity of an external hard drive months ago in Seattle but the idea of spending time transferring photos right now sounds like a panic attack waiting to happen. It sounds like death. Instead, I’m just SO super enjoying the peace, resting in the quiet and recharging as best I can because I know when this house sells, our Relocate-to-California Adventure will require a lot of energy.
Once we get there, I will be grateful to pick up the ol’ girl again. Photograph my growing belly, our new life… But in the meantime, I’m focusing on gratitude for what I have right now, manifesting new owners for our adorable cozy cabin and taking in all the beauty our little place has offered us while I still can.
The past year has been an education in putting away the Type A, 60 hours a week, money is everything, workaholic mentality to learn the joys of a work/life balance. As dramatic as it sounds, it has been life changing. Now I’m learning what it means to be still. In that stillness, I’m finding that who I am isn’t defined by work– or even more so, creativity or the projects I’ve finished, it’s who I am in the quiet that is actually me. The crazy thing is that in doing nothing, I’m not even remotely bored. I’m just in utter gratitude.
I’m curious how this all plays out when our little one joins us, crying at three in the morning, needing constant attention. Maybe the angels know how important this time is for me– to really know and recognize the spiritual being in this physical body bag before our lives flip upside down. Whatever happens, big changes are ahead and I feel like I’m looking on a future that is so different and incredible than one I’ve ever lived, I literally have tears of gratitude and I don’t even know why yet.
Also, I love our little Baby Soul… I finally felt a real kick the other night. WOW. She was dancing up a storm on her ultrasound the next day. I can’t wait to meet her… Yes, big changes are ahead. I know it is going to be such a special time. As backwards as it seems, it’s– strangely– making me insanely grateful for every moment of right… now.
Just when you think the world couldn’t be more chaotic, hurricanes and wildfires are brought to the scene. Add this to an already unstable and divided political stage, whose leaders are dabbling with ideas like nuclear war, and suddenly everything you know begins to feel a bit out of control– the sky is full of smoke and there’s a whiff of apocalypse in the air.
Granted, it might feel this way for me as I have an aunt and cousin in Houston, my dad (stepmom, friends and sister-in-law) lives in Florida and my husband and I live in wildfire country (currently on a Level 1 evac with a house on the market). Does the rest of the world feel this way right now? Having lived in a community that has experienced significant fires, you see people become addicted to fear like it’s catastrophe porn. The news makes us long for an apocalypse and our churches guarantee one.
At the same time, human beings have never been perfect and our existence has always been unstable. The great Roman empire fell. The rise of Germany. The Russian nuclear scare of the 80’s. The great San Francisco earthquake, tsunamis… Life happens. Is it our social media age that allows us to see more of it on a daily basis? I don’t know. What I do know is that the way everything feels around me right now, the number of times we are clubbed in the head with a new disaster, it feels too big– the numbers too great, to ignore. It personally has me begging the question, what are we learning from this?
What is humanity learning from this? Let that marinate….
In numerology, the year 2017 equates to a one. One is the symbol of new beginnings. This can be a very exciting time to start new things but it also means that whatever we create in this year stays with us for the next nine years- nine, being the number of completion. With so many factors happening as of late, I can’t help but wonder if we’re looking at everything myopically and not seeing the bigger picture.
Mother Earth has been spinning since the dawn of time. SHE has seen some things. Her own creation, dinosaurs, the building of the pyramids… She has some stories to tell. She’s been around. The same goes for the oceans that receded to showcase spectacular mountains and gorges, or trees with their deep roots that plunge into the ground, hundreds of years old, THEY’VE seen some things. Us? We pathetic little humans see the span of 80+ years (if we’re lucky).
I remember reading ‘Crazy Horse,’ a book about the war leader’s legacy as an Oglala Lakota in the 19th century. In the book I learned that the Lakota’s calendar was based on 13 moons throughout the year. The names of these ‘months’ reflected what was going on during that time of year. Names like, “The Moon of Green Grass,” “The Moon When Turnips are in Blossom,” “The Moon When Chokecherries are Black,” or “The Moon When Deers Shed Their Antlers.” I was fascinated and in awe of their connection to the land. They respected it, cherished it and took part in it. Personally, I believe they got it soooo right.
I find myself again asking for earthly wisdom. What are we supposed to learn here?
Who are we to nature? What do we think and feel about it? Is it something to be owned or purchased? Do we rule over it? Do we respect it? Or are we beginning to question our part in it all? Are we spending hours fighting various policy without any real connection to the earth? When do we become guests here? Shouldn’t the earth have seniority? Shouldn’t there be some humility? Shouldn’t we ask for its’ wisdom? It seems awfully ungracious and ignorant to not look at the bigger picture. And yet in our 80+ years, we’re the rulers and decision makers. At this point, shouldn’t we at least pay our respects to the wisdom of the hundred year old sea turtles? Why are the ‘ants’ of the world the ones to rule?
And its not just about the natural world, it’s about humanity. Our political climate is a battlefield full of righteousness and vitriol. Again, the question smacks me in the face… What are we learning here?
Hours upon hours spent on Facebook and Twitter, ‘fighting the fight’ and ‘setting the record straight,’ in my experience, has not changed a single opinion. It has done nothing to progress anyone’s agenda but create more division, and made us feel even more helpless and angry, righteous and indignant. How can that be a good thing?
Even more than the great chasm between us, this time has instilled in us hateful reactionary triggers set to go off on a moment’s notice– whether it’s politics or which ice cream to get, we feel we are under attack all of the time– offended, disrespected and you’re going to know about it.
“NO, I’M RIGHT AND I HOPE YOU DIE CHOKING ON YOUR BLUE BUNNY, YOU MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLE!!! GEEZ… CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT GUY? EVEN HAAGEN-DAAZ WOULD BE BETTER… FUCKER… HE’LL PROBABLY PUT CHOCOLATE SHELL ON IT… DO YOU KNOW WHAT CHOCOLATE SHELL IS MADE OF? …WHAT A DICK… “
HE’S what’s wrong with the world. Thankfully, you’re on the side that’s ‘right’ so you don’t even have to feel guilty for too long blowing your top. I mean, you’re not typically like that, but THAT guy? It was a–well warranted. Not to mention, all of your friends will validate your righteousness through ‘likes’ as they think chocolate shell is the devil as well. It feels good to be right. A community of right people. If only all the world was as right as you are.
It’s happened to all of us. We are all guilty. But tell me how this is helping anything. I see little John Connor as a young Edward Furlong, ringing a set of car keys in his hand… “Are we learning yet?” We don’t always have to kill the guy to get the car. There can be other possibilities. Sometimes we can find a spare car with keys in the visor. What if nothing is well warranted? What if crazy stays crazy and we just watch it spin rather than react in the same way? Instead, we crave Judgment Day. Maybe we’re a bunch of kill-fest terminators that need reprogramming.
I recently listened to a podcast about reincarnation. According to this podcast, after death you are greeted by loved ones. After a bit of ‘Welcome Back Cotter’-esque celebration, there is a life evaluation. In this evaluation, you are able to see all of the decisions you’ve made but also–and this was the kicker– you feel the feelings of every decision you’ve made. You feel the feelings of those you’ve effected. You see the ripple effect of your actions. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, can you imagine what it would be like to literally feel how you’ve made others feel? And how it has effected your life and the world around you? YIKES.
Meditating on this question, thinking about what we are supposed to learn, I have a sneaky suspicion Baby Soul and other children will come out of our wombs scratching their heads, wide-eyed, unprogrammed asking ‘Why would you do that?’ I pray it’s a generation of children that instinctively know it’s about raising our vibration.
I hope we can pause a second to this about this…
I don’t have answers but I think questions are a great start… What do I need to learn? Do I feel grounded? What does that look like in everyday life? Am I meditating or making time to reflect? Am I living in gratitude? How am I speaking to those around me? Or online? Do I judge people I don’t understand? When have I been shown kindness or compassion? How did it make me feel? Do I live in fear? Where does it come from? How am I showing respect for the earth? Am I seeking wisdom? Why does it feel good to ‘be right?’ Am I stuck in a lifetime of circumstances that have happened to me or have I done the courageous work of healing those hurts? What would it feel like to be free of those burdens? To forgive?
It is a blessed and harsh reality that I truly have no control over what happens in the next few weeks. But what I can do is ask myself the following: How can I raise my own vibration? What can I bring to the table as a guest here on earth? How does my life effect the world?
When I found out we were pregnant, something resonated in me: “Do it differently, Amanda.”
As I’ve previously shared, I’d always been terrified I’d end up the neurotic mom from ‘Modern Family.’ Was I going to lose myself? Would I become a high maintenance control freak? Would my life revolve around my children? Would I end up trying to keep up with the Jones’ like our American culture demands? Would financial constraints turn me into a resentful monster?
Part of me also couldn’t shake icky feelings from my days as a server in Los Angeles, waiting on moms who expected everyone’s existence to revolve around their very special children. A-very special children. Or rather, audacious moms and dads, that expected you to be a babysitter, allowing kids to play in the middle of an aisle with an entire backpack of sprawled out toys while you’re serving hot coffee in a tight diner setting. UGH. It can leave a bad taste in your mouth for sure.
But when a friend recently asked what I meant by wanting to do motherhood differently, I was dumbfounded to be at a loss. What the heck did I mean? Where does this idea resonate from? Am I just totally full of shit?! My kid is sure to the color on the walls– I’m not that naive, but how do I want to do it differently?
In the brief moments I have to actually connect with Baby Soul, I let this idea marinate. I asked my friend Stacer (now Aunt Stacer!!!) to send me articles about unconventional parenting and like the pro that she is, she has supplied me with articles and podcasts about living minimally, or selling everything to travel the world. Thus far, I’ve hinted to my sweetie, nothing says good parenting like zip lining through the jungles of Africa and he wasn’t having it. HE NEVER LETS ME DO ANYTHING!!!! *hogs remote to watch 127th hour of HGTV* 😉
Before getting pregnant I watched ‘Captain Fantastic.’ SUCH A GOOD MOVIE!! It’s such an unknown, little independent gem. If I had the Harvard education and insane physique, I would be over the moon to raise my kids off the grid in the mountains. Well, “Power to the people!” minus the plot twists. 😉
Talking with my BF (now Aunt BF!!!) about our shared love of this movie, she suggested I read some queer parenting literature. After scratching my head for a minute, she mentioned it’s Unconventional Parenting 101. DUH. Very true! That’s kind of a brilliant idea.
I also began thinking about parents I did admire. Friends that have traveled to Mexico or Italy with their newborn and haven’t let being parents stop them. Parents that brought their kids to every social party their friends were throwing because having kids wasn’t going to stop them from a social life. Parents that are still making music videos or auditioning despite being moms and dads. Parents where the mom brings home the bacon and dad plays Mr. Mom. Etc, etc, etc…
In a podcast, I remember Elizabeth Gilbert (now Aunt Liz!!!!) sharing a story about her mother going into her room and shutting the door behind her two kids. They knew that for an hour every day, it was mommy’s writing time. Soon, mommy’s writing time became Liz’s writing time and she still recalls the impact that had on her as a young girl. She didn’t view it as selfish or mean, it’s just what mom does and it taught them to play on their own and develop their own creativity. WHAT A GIFT!!!
In my ‘Psychic Teachers’ podcast with Deb Bowen and Samantha Fey (LOVE THIS PODCAST!), Samantha talks about doing the same. Once nap time was over for her girls at a certain age, she introduced ‘alone time.’ The girls would spend an hour a day doing their own thing alone in their room. They write, they listen to music, etc. This allows their mom to spend time mediating or having the alone time she desperately needs as a psychic to cleanse and get her work done. Not to mention the girls have learned to love it as well!
Obviously, I’m still figuring it out (and have a sneaky suspicion I will be for the rest of my life 😉 ) but what I do know is that I don’t want to live in fear. I would love for my kid to backpack through Europe after high school. I would love for Baby Soul to learn to fix cars and ride motorbikes like her dad. Why not a Mother/Baby Soul photography adventure through Brazil? Maybe a culinary adventure through Paris? (Nothing says ‘Make mommy dinner, kid!’ like French cheeses!) Maybe hiking the PCT? Maybe it just means we don’t let our (potential) daughter watch Disney princess movies because there’s more to life than finding a man. I don’t know!
But I will love this adventure… 🙂 And I would LOVE to hear what ‘doing it different’ means to you. Any ideas you’ve had or stories you’d like to share, it would be a LOT of fun to brainstorm. Not to mention would help a sista’ out. xoxo
I recently heard a story from a friend who was pregnant with her daughter 20+ years ago. In her first trimester, she got so tired she was afraid she wasn’t going to be able to drive the hour or two she needed to get home. Thankfully, she did make it home but when her husband arrived, he found her asleep on the stairs of their front porch with a car in the driveway that had been running for three hours.
First Trimester Fatigue… IT’S A THING AND I’M TALKING ABOUT IT.
I have to admit (and tend to joke with my husband) that I have two emotions right now: TIRED and RAGE. So consider yourself warned! For various reasons, there is definitely some cranky pants anger attached to this blog. It has become very clear to me that people are uneducated about first trimester pregnancy. Women go through intense shit early on and because they’re not showing yet, people (husbands, bosses, friends & family, society) don’t believe them and/or make a lot of assumptions.
It has me feeling all…
I had no idea before I got pregnant how freaking draining it is and, ultimately, I am dumbfounded it isn’t discussed more??? Maybe that makes me a whiner? Or maybe this is a societal thing where we like our pregnant women ‘glowing’ and ‘grateful.’ We are supposed to keep quiet and endure female pain on our own. God, don’t we do that enough?
I am soooo grateful to finally be ‘out’ about our pregnancy. It has been a challenge having 26 different symptoms and when you’re at your lowest, needing support, you’re not allowed to ask for it because you’re not allowed to tell people about it.
Now that I can tell people, I’ve been shocked by the lack of empathy and belief from some. There are people I have trusted with the info that I have asked for support and their reactions lead me to believe they think I’m overreacting. Do they think I’m just tired because I’m overweight? (Also, a thing). Am I just milking it? Some women’s husbands think they’re wives are trying to get out of chores or get angry when there’s not a meal on the table. This also goes hand and hand with emotions. Does what I’m saying hold no truth because it’s coming from heightened emotions? It’s maddening (especially when you have more than one job and a million different activities on your plate) to be considered lazy or emotionally crazy or… or.. or… UGH.
Pre-pregnancy, when I thought of someone being pregnant, I only thought of two things: morning sickness and crazy ice cream & pickle cravings. I assumed women got really tired in their last trimester (which they do), being entirely ginormous, carrying a ton of extra weight on swollen ankles. In my clueless assumptions, I thought the first trimester was supposed to be a breeze! “You can still exercise and have sex!” Knowing what I know now, feeling the way I do, to brush fatigue under the rug just feels like another impossible standard for women to maintain and a societal construct that we’re supposed to endure.
Every woman is different for sure, but for me, I can only compare this fatigue to my trip to India– spending ten days in the chaos of an awesome country with little sleep, and then taking a sleepless 20 hour flight home. I wake up that tired every other day. The rest of the time I don’t wake up India-tired, I feel ‘food sick’ tired. Where you’re finally over your bug but are still really weak. There are days where I don’t want to do the littlest things like email my parents or call someone back because all I have energy for is melting into the couch. Like when you’re drunk and laying down anywhere will do. This is not typical. I have to-do lists for my to-do lists. And don’t get me started on nausea…
In all of my 38 years, I think I’ve taken three or four afternoon naps. My wheels spin, I can’t calm my brain in enough time, I’m just not a napper. In this pregnancy? I could nap almost any time of day. I often don’t have the time to allow myself that luxury but when I do, I’m out like a light. I’ve gotten up, driven down valley to get groceries and by the time I’m there, I am so wiped out, I do worry I won’t be able to get home. On an inappropriate scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it to curl up at the grocery store for a month nap on a shelf with the large bags of cat food? #noshame
This is actually what the first trimester looks like….
I took a quick photo from my cell phone at a hotel in Seattle. I had my photography class and then my husband and I celebrated our first year anniversary. It was so entirely exhausting, I could barely keep my eyes open. I am soooo lucky to have him. He is super supportive and understanding. He doesn’t judge me or belittle me. He listens, he rubs my twitchy legs, he buys me chips for my nausea, he snuggles…
Also, God bless the internet because I know I am not alone! Care to hear from other women? Be sure to read the comments.
My favorite line is from Pregnant Chicken, “Fatigue is such a lame word. When I hear it I think of a yawn, stretch, and flutter of the eyes. Pregnancy fatigue in the first trimester is a BEAST.” #PREEEAACH
Not to mention that I am a line cook, lots of movement, on my feet. I work in a hot kitchen on packed summer nights. Or I get up early for the breakfast shift which is worse because I haven’t slept due to three trips to the bathroom that night. It’s brutal. Not to mention my other jobs, trips to Seattle, photography class homework, home reno, etc, etc, etc… What’s the lesson here?
If someone you know is pregnant and claims to be tired, believe them. It is waaaaay more than ‘tired.’ Know that it is an exhaustion that makes them feel like they barely exist. Know that it has nothing to do with laziness or exaggeration and support them any way you can.
And pregnant ladies… I SEE YOU. Ask for what you need and F*CKING TAKE IT. When almost one in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage, your biggest concern is taking care of yourself and your baby. And nothing is worth that loss. I know it’s easy to say… But don’t be afraid to disappoint people. SAY NO. The people who care are the ones who deserve your loyalty. Word?
Now, I want to hear from you!!! Tell me your stories… Who’s first?
What was the hardest part about your first trimester? What was brutal? I am hear to listen and would be grateful for your honesty! In my opinion, the truth of the reality we experience only normalizes things in culture and makes us stronger… Thanks for listening. xoxo
Pregnant. I stared at the little plus sign for quite a while. Am I sure it’s a plus? I was running on such adrenaline, is it possible I made a mistake? Do I just want it to be a plus and it’s not a plus? I can’t believe I actually want it to be a plus…. Do I really want it to be a plus? Who am I????
Back in college with my girlfriends, our goal was to get degrees, an education and rack up a slew of fun experiences, but there is a joke in Christian college that women are mostly at school for their ‘MRS. Degree.’ And ooooooh, I was soooo on board for that major! Amongst my friends, we all wanted to be married, find our ‘soul mate’ and have a gaggle of children.
However, after NOT meeting Mr. Perfect at Christian college, I moved to LA to pursue acting. I figured if I wasn’t going to get married out of college like everyone else, I wasn’t going to put my life on hold. As I soon learned, finding my ‘soul mate’ was going to be a challenge. LA is not the kind of place where you’re going to find a laundry list of good guys, Christian or not. With a host of gorgeous women to choose from, in an incredibly (can-be) superficial environment, there really is no incentive for men to get married. I was chunky, shy, lacked confidence and it just never worked out for me. So I kept making choices outside the marriage box.
Another year went by, and then five. Ten. I continued to get older. When you see that marriage might be something that never happens for you, you begin to see your life differently. You lessen your tunnel vision. The box opens and there is a whole world out there, outside of kids. Few women get to see it really– wild possibility outside of the cultural norm. I widened my dreams to include travel and adventuring. I learned that living passionately and choosing directions different than most energized me. Twenty years later, I found myself asking if I even wanted kids. I could barely relate to my 23 year old self.
Then I unexpectedly met my honey at the age of 36, we got married at 38 and the baby inquiries rolled in. I realized I still had time. Very little time, but time. There was a lot of pressure. I am older. Could we even have kids? When we talked about kids we decided we wanted them but we’d always kind of laughed nervously about it and never made any plans, mostly due to the financial monster that lurked behind the idea. It’s crazy to open your door to that guy. We’d never be able to afford to have kids. Let’s let the universe decide! If it happens, it happens… And then it doesn’t have to be our fault. Ha!
I went to see my psychic while I was visiting in Los Angeles. She was terrible! She answered none of my questions. Instead, she told me there was a ‘baby soul lurking out there that wants you to be her mommy.’
I ignored that and asked her if I should play the lottery. Do I have lucky numbers? When do I get rich? She said that all of the creative things we had been talking about won’t happen for a few years really anyway, so why not have a baby girl!
I told her that my husband and I were on board with letting the universe decide and she shut that down pretty quick. She said that the baby wants to know it is safe and that you’re excited and more than “Egh, whatever, kid.” She said we’d need to take responsibility and invite her. None of this sounded like a surprise financial windfall from a deceased, unknown relative to me.
I mentioned to the psychic that I felt like, for many reasons, I was finally discovering myself for the first time and that my life was just beginning. I had all of these creative aspirations, I didn’t want to feel like my life was being put on hold again. She drew some cards, took a breath and then said that this child is ‘gifted intuitive’ and while I don’t exactly remember what she said… what I heard was… This baby is going to make you laugh. This baby is going to be a muse. This baby is going to help heal. This baby is going to get you out of your head. This baby is going to teach you how to love yourself, others and the world around you. This baby will breathe new life, not suck it out of you.
It is A LOT these ears have put on Baby Soul. Ha!
I always thought I was going to have a little girl. I think it’s the close connection I had with my mom as a child. Yet, in all of my adventuring I had never allowed myself the idea that a child would do anything but drain me and make me crazy. I imagined myself as the neurotic mom on ‘Modern Family’ and I immediately hated the idea of that person. Or, the opposite, that I would entirely put my life on hold and live for my child, like I see soooo many women do. I think I just needed to hear somebody say that this was going to be an inspired thing… even add to my existence?
So, here we are… After the shock wore off, an excited reality has set in. Again, I have lessened my tunnel vision. The box has opened and this time there is a whole world in front of me that shows a different kind of adventure where all of my loves, and a new love, will meet. Once again I am energized by choosing a path different than what I had envisioned for myself, choosing a path that feels scary but true. There is a plus sign and with it comes an intuitive, little Aquarius baby! We’ve been calling her Baby Soul.
Wow. Life. Summer. Craaaaaazy… anybody else? Damn, Gina!!
There are 4,598 things going on and while some days I feel like I am hanging on by a thread, most of it is exciting stuff– part of which, is what I am FINALLY sharing with you today. 🙂
I’d say the scales started to tip in my creative/exciting & time crunching/hair pulling favor, when I got to collaborate with THIS girl!
Everyone, meet Jess.
She is ADORABLE.
The fabulous Ms. Jessica DaCosta is an artist and ‘sculptress’ that specializes in copper, and more specifically, copper weathervanes. So freaking cool. You can check out her Facebook page here.
But she also does super fun stuff like pointed elf ears!
One of her sketches…
And she does these fabulous masks…
Jess was chosen by Methow Arts to be their featured artist for their summer magazine and I was lucky enough to get to do the shoot!
A lot of her work is very magical which was a match made in heaven. Some of her weathervanes have fairies or mermaids, phoenix (!!!) and so we decided to play with the whimsy and magic of her work…
Her business is also called ‘CopperMaiden’ so I liked the idea of photographing her as such. Those photos are later… In the meantime, we spent our time in some magical aspens and did our best to blow glitter. Ha!
I love the below photo… Not because it’s technically or compositionally great… I just caught her in this gorgeous moment laughing and you really get a sense of her girlish spirit.
She also made this crown out of fantastic antlers… She’s such a sorceress! 🙂
Crystal balls… *swoon*
She was SUCH a trooper… We shot two days. One was at her shop and the next day, we squeezed hundreds of photos into a few hours.
This girl was up for anything and I think it really paid off.
We had her wade in the river for some photos that weren’t my favorite. But I wanted to include this one because you can see her fish weathervane below to the left and in her hand she’s holding a copper fairy!!! I just love her work…
And then later, we got to transform her into the The CopperMaiden! 🙂 🙂 🙂
She let me put foil on her face and although you can’t tell too much, her face is covered in copper face paint. We also through pieces of metal, glitter, crystal balls and God knows what else in her hair. Fearless! It was so much fun…
These turned out very Mid-Summer Night’s Dream to me…
I really love to tell stories with my camera so I tend to gravitate toward documentary portraiture. I looove to interview someone, hear their guts and really do my best to try and capture their story in a photo.
The challenge with the Methow Arts’ shoots, however, is that I’m not the one doing the interviewing. Jess and I had to get to know each other real quick, but she was so brave, fearless and trusting. If these photos are successful at all, its all because of her!
This is my favorite. I love the light, the colors… it’s very summery to me. I think she looks gorgeous. 🙂 *swoon*
If only she were prettier, ya know? 😉
And because I don’t get to do these more artistic, super creative shoots often, I really had a blast playing with any and every preset known to man. Ha! Presets are kind of to Lightroom/Photoshop what filters are to Instagram. With documentary portraiture, you really want to stay as true as possible to the subject or the story you’re telling. So I don’t tend to use them too much. However, when a shoot allows for total, complete, chaotic and creative process? Presets can be SUPER fun. 🙂
This is super Lord of the Rings to me with her magical elven ears… *swoon* 🙂
It certainly doesn’t hurt that she’s a super gorgeous girl!
She also had this gorgeous dress with all this COLOR… Ugh. Makes the job so much easier. 🙂
I think this photo is interesting, too. Technically, her foil is blown out but the dreaminess of it, makes me come back to it… (Sometimes ya can’t help but like what ya like!)
Also, Jess is TOTALLY a shapeshifter!!! In this photo, I think she looks a bit like Jennifer Love Hewitt. There are times she just looks like a Vogue model and other times, she was channeling Katy Perry. I’m great at channeling Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, you know what I’m saying? But I’ll take it… 😉
She took so many beautiful shots, and I had such creative fun, I had a really hard time which photos I liked most. And even worse, knowing what to send to the magazine!
Our try at glitter again… Note to self: Next time use strobes. Also, who wants to carry around strobes? 😉
All in all, it was SUCH an honor. You can read the Methow Arts Magazine article here written by Marcy Stamper.
And while I’m saying a lot about how gorgeous Jess is, it speaks nothing to who she is as an artist. And even moreso, just the fact she’s a doll of a human being.
This girl is ALL heart. I can tell she’s intuitive and connected. She manifests her own magic… A ‘sculptress’ indeed!
AND TOTALLY ADORABLE!!!!
I hope you enjoyed these photos! Please be sure to check out her work!! She is currently taking orders WORLD WIDE!!! I will say I knew her when… 🙂
Thanks for the honor, Jess! xoxo
JESSICA DACOSTA INFO:
Instagram and twitter: @coppermaiden.
Her Facebook page is @weathervaneartistry: https://www.facebook.com/WeathervaneArtistry/
And her website is: http://www.coppermaiden.com