WE'VE MOVED!!

Hi! And if you're here, first of all, THANK YOU!

Second, I'm no longer posting here, but at my new home: YourKickAssLife.com

So, please go and visit! And remember: "Life's a garden, dig it!' -Joe Dirt

I did it because I was scared

In my last couple of posts I’ve mentioned that I’m training for a sprint triathlon. I’m doing it because as a runner, this will be a challenge and the fact that I always thought it was ballsy to say the least to swim in open water. Growing up in southern California, I’ve played in the ocean countless times, but it wasn’t until I became an adult that I became afraid of the open ocean. How does that make sense? I’m not too sure.

First things first, let me tell you about my pool drain phobia. Just typing those words makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I had a boyfriend in high school who thought it would be funny to try to drag me down by my ankle to get close to it. He didn’t like it when he got kicked in the nuts. (Hey, it wasn’t totally on purpose. I’m not responsible for flailing arms and legs when I’m freaking out). I don’t do Jacuzzis. When I do laps in the pool, I CANNOT swim in the lane that goes directly over the drains. And if there is no one else in the pool, I won’t go in. Even if the only other person is a 95 year old Asian lady bouncing around on her noodle, I feel safe. I mean, if the drain monster is going to get me, at least she can go get help.

As I’ve been training in the pool, the drain thing has gotten a bit easier to deal with. It stays put, so I’m happy. On Sunday, I signed up for a swim clinic for beginners. I was so sick with anxiety, in the days leading up to it I almost vomited twice. Two days before the clinic, this was my Facebook status:


Less than 48 hours until I do my first ever open water swim, a practice before my first triathlon in October. Thinking about it makes me want to vomit and I can't breathe. But, I'm doing it anyway. Bobbie Vrastil-Solomon, I apologize now for any drama I bring.

After I posted it I suddenly realized I had a choice in the matter. It wasn't really me who was scared. My gremlin had been shouting in my ear, "Who do you think you are, competing in a triathlon? You'll probably come in dead last!" Therefore it was easier for me to just be scared. So I declared I would leave my gremlin at home and bring my badass self to the swim. Done!

However, on the drive there I almost turned around and went home. My gremlin said, "That's really cute, that thing you said about leaving me at home. The open ocean is scary, mean and there's no side of the pool to hold onto when you choke on filthy polluted water and the piranha come to feast on you." Nice, isn't she? But, then I got to thinking.  No, really. I DO have a choice here. I have a choice to be scared. It's a mind game. Plain and simple. Not to mention I was creating all the drama surrounding being scared. Drama feeds on drama. I don't care if it's about a pool drain, or a bad relationship, throwing gasoline on a fire called drama is just going to get you more....you guess it! DRAMA!

So, I went. I wasn't exactly choreographing synchronized swimming routines and I avoided the buoys with all the crustaceans on them (gross and scary). And it helped that Bobbie was a great coach and hey- there were even other scared people there too. So, I didn't feel like a total weenie. And here we are. Alive!


Moral of the story:

  • You have a choice to feel whatever you feel. Good or bad. 
  • The drama you create will feed on itself and become more. 
  • If you face your fear with support, I can guarantee it won't be as bad as you (or your gremlin) has made it out to be. 
  • Pool drains are still scary. 

The Worst Mother in the World

This blog is supposed to be all about empowering women, to lead their best lives. I try my best to make the best out of everything, to put a positive spin on things, to talk about my struggles and how I overcame them. It brings me great joy to know that someone reading might take my words and have a little hope.

But, this post isn't about that.

I recently told my coach that motherhood has forced me to dig to the deepest parts of me to find the most patience I have. I have dug, and dug and dug. And there isn't any left. I'm all out. I have hit slammed into a wall recently and am wondering when the "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" statement will be flung at me like monkeys throwing poo at the zoo. Which by the way, I don't even want to get into complaining about how much poop I've been dealing with on a literal standpoint in this house.

So, what is this post about? Well, I understand that you, reading this, are not the complaint department. But, I'd like to confess that my gremlin has got the best of me lately. And she's hit be below the belt, right in the uterus. She's laughing hysterically and pointing and saying,


You are the worst mother in the world. 

In the world of, "Keep it together, lady. Don't let them see you sweat, or cry, or fly off the handle," it's next to impossible for me. When my 3 year old son gets in my face and screams, "NOOOOOOOO!" at the top of his lungs I think, "Does this child hate me? This beautiful boy that has my heart in his hands?" And when my 11 month old daughter clings to me and cries when I drop her off at daycare for the 4 hours that she will be away from me 3 times a week, I think, "For pete's sake, she's still nursing! How could I leave her?" 

You are the worst mother in the world.

I mean really, it's the only possible explanation. 

I don't think I ever knew pain until I experienced mommy guilt. No one tells you before you have kids that it's a package deal. No one tells you that the pain of mommy guilt will wreck you from the inside out. I spent all that time before I had kids with my head in the clouds thinking motherhood is about hearts and rainbows. 

Again, 

You are the worst mother in the world.

I type all these words and think, "You know there are people out there that can't have kids. That would give their right arm to have them, all of it, guilt and all." 

So, yet again, 

You are the worst mother in the world.

But, I'm human. And I'm having a really, really hard time. 

One of my favorite scenes from the movie, "Forrest Gump", Forrest is running when a reporter approaches him. Forrest runs through dog shit: 
Reporter: Man! You just ran through a big pile of dog shit! 
Forrest: It happens. 
Reporter: What? Shit? 
Forrest: Sometimes......


Letter to my former self

I'm a big fan of writing letters to myself. Last year I wrote a letter to my body, which was a major healing marker for me. I also wrote a letter to my skinny jeans, which I finally got rid of. And about a month ago I wrote a letter to my former self.

It's a letter to the girl I was about 10 years ago. I've come so far from that girl- in ways I was feeling ashamed of her. Of me. And it was biting me in the ass. I was separating myself now from her which was robbing me of valuable love and learning. I soon realized I wasn't "walking the talk" of giving the advice to never apologize for who you are inside. Back then, I was exactly where I needed to be. 

******************



Dear Me, 

I owe you an apology. A big one. 

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of growth. And it’s good, but I’ve made a mistake along the way. See, I’ve been looking around inside my heart, learning from the past and have come a long way. 

But, you already know that. 

You’ve been here all along, cheering me on. The mistake I’ve made is by being ashamed of you. Looking back, I think about who you were, the mistakes you made, the ways you used to cope....and I push you away. I pretend you don’t exist. 

And recently you told me you were pissed about that. And sad too. So, I’m sorry. I really am. That was pretty shitty of me. So, I ask for your forgiveness. I understand that you were doing the best you could, with what you had, at that time. And it wasn’t a lot, I know. You coped the best way you knew how. After all, back then you wanted the same thing you do now: 

Love. 

So, I plan to look at you differently from now on. With an open heart. Without harsh judgement. I might be wiser now, but no better. 

Love,
Me

Photo credit

Hello, recovery. Nice to meet you.

I want to preface this blog post with a quick update. Obviously my posts are few and far between lately. One main reason is that I'm having a website built and this blog will move over to it. My creative energy has gone to that, plus two very small children that are now both mobile. So, between potty training, hovering, chasing, beach/park going, training for a triathlon, life coaching certification, getting up at 5:30 am with my son....I'm just spent. Lots of ideas to write that swarm through my head, but never get to this blog. So, there you have it.

************

Triathlon training. Wow. It's something I never thought I would do. It's something I never thought I could do. As I write this, I'm in week 5 of training, with about 8 more to go. I'm not a strong swimmer, so that is a challenge. I also have a fear of open water swimming, plus training in a pool is challenging because of a really raging drain phobia (shut up) so mentally, that's been....interesting. But the biggest challenge of all is this:

In the last 2 weeks I've noticed my body is changing. And a few other people have noticed too. So what? Well, this is the first time I've started a new (and temporary) exercise program for fun (did I really just say that?) rather than to be a certain body type. And also the first time I've done it and been this far into recovery from disordered eating and exercise.

Now, I know what's happened from a physiological standpoint (science nerd alert). I've switched up my workouts from just running to running, swimming and cycling. Plus, bumped up my usual 3 times per week to 5 times per week. I've also been hungrier and eat more.

That's it.

But, the victory is accepting the body changes for what they are. Just changes. Formerly I would have seen the changes and become obsessed by them. Worked out more, ate less. But now, I let it go. At first I braced myself for the reaction I would have. Like someone closing their eyes waiting for an oncoming collision. And waited, and waited. But, they didn't come. I opened one eye, then the other and took a breath. And I let in the new feelings.

So this is what it's like to be recovered. 

This victory is a big giant step. I guess I lived for so many years on the other side, part of me thought that if I did get to a place where I lost some weight, or toned up, I would come crashing back down. Being fully recovered is still somewhat new territory, and my gremlin gets a wee bit terrorized there.

I know it's all a work in progress. All of it, my whole life. Will I fall down, get triggered, make a step back here and there? Probably. And that's okay.

Old Memories

So, I'm training for a triathlon. A sprint distance, nothing crazy. Since I've been recovered from disordered eating and exercise, I've kept my love of running, but one thing has changed; I only run outside. I don't think this was a completely conscious choice, but since I've had kids, I have to bring them running, and I can't exactly push them on the treadmill in their stroller, and I've discovered I really love to run outside.

On Sunday I went to the gym for the first time in a long time. I did an easy swim, quickly changed and got on the treadmill. Plugged my ipod in, pushed all the buttons and started running.

And all the memories came back. Like a Mack truck.

The smell of the gym, the people there, the sound of the treadmill. The digital time ticking, telling me how much time has elapsed, how many miles I have run, and of coarse, how many calories I have burned. I would race the clock to see if I could make a certain distance before the time got there. Or, I would run until I burned x amount of imaginary calories. I wonder if that ever made my happy.

On Sunday I ran for only 20 minutes, but in that time I thought about how I used to be when I was on the treadmill. Thinking obsessing about calories, wondering how much more distance I could take, hoping my legs wouldn't buckle out from under me. Trying to ignore the hungry feeling in my stomach. And on and on. And thinking.....that was normal.

After the 20 minutes was up, I stopped. The old me would have pushed on for another 20 or 30 minutes, just to...I don't know. Prove something.

In times like that, when I see my old ghost, I take note of how far I've come. I'm sad for a moment. Thinking of how happy I thought I was. Then happy, taking note of how "grown up" I feel now. Exercising to be fit. Huh. Now, that makes me happy. I'm sure of it.

Life. Changing. Experience.


On Twitter yesterday I was tweeting innocently away and stumbled across a blog post. I read it, smiled, read a particular line, kept reading and heard the sound of breaks screeching in my mind. I backtracked. This line practically knocked me over:

"I encourage you not to wait for that life changing experience."


Had someone told me that on this day exactly 10 years ago I would have blinked and said, "Um, okay, thanks" and went about my business. Went about my business of being scared. Scared of who I really was. Terrified of "what if". What if I really was great? No, I mean really, really great. The thought terrified me. Little parts of me would try to sneak out but were quickly squashed by my gremlin voice. Or I would literally be told by some one to shut up. And I would. But my gut would say, "Tell them to fuck off."

In 2006 I had that life changing experience. My world fell apart in 10 seconds. Standing in Barnes and Noble I shook so hard when I hung up the phone I probably looked like I was having a seizure. Life. Changing. Experience. My future sighed with relief and said thank you, although I didn't know it at the time.

So, I also encourage you to not wait for that life changing experience. Because I did. Or if you do, that's okay too. Hopefully you'll have an equally dramatic story to tell that makes people's jaws drop like I do. But, please, don't wait for it. Seize your opportunity to live. Your future is waiting for you. Patiently.



What's Happening?!

Hooray!!! So many things are happening on my end, so I thought I would update my 2 readers (mom and dad).

I've been writing this blog for about almost 2 years now. I had no idea where it was going back then, I just knew I loved to write, needed an outlet for all the things I needed to say and  knew I would eventually have a blog when I started my coaching business. So, almost 2 years later, my coaching business is being born.

Your Kick Ass Life is almost here! I struggled with the name, and my gremlin said, "You CANNOT have the word 'ass' in your business name!" So, I thought about it, got some advice from my most trusted coach friends and basically came to the conclusion that if someone is offended by the word "ass", they probably don't want to be my friend. And by all means, I'm okay with that. "Live Your Ideal Life" was good while it lasted, but it's really not "me". Many, many years ago I started saying, "Life's too short for it not kick ass", and well, it just stuck. I hope you like it!!!!

Also, I have a new Facebook page, (many thanks to Kristina Chartier for the amazing photography), and I really hope you'll join me there. I'll post inspirational things, and I promise not to be a spammer.

My heart and soul are going into this. It might sound crazy, but this is almost as exciting as the birth of my children. It's more than amazing to know I was put on this earth to make a difference and inspire others to do the same. To find their true calling, whatever it may be for each individual person.

So, stay tuned for my new website (yourkickasslife.com), hopefully within the next month or 2 (*shrieking*). And thanks for reading, supporting, or even if you don't like me, I'm glad I have at least conjured up a feeling in you. It makes me proud ;)

Love,
Andrea

A HUGE beginning

ABC Family's HUGE premiered last night. I blogged about it last week, and was uncertain about what was in store for this show. Weight loss camp + entire cast of overweight teens = Skepticism in my book. I couldn't help but think of that disaster of a movie, "Shallow Hal" where the moral of the story was that beauty was on the inside. Blech. Worst way to send that message EVAR! Anyway, moving on....

My first thought was that in no way would I be able to relate this. I've always been open about my own struggles with body image, but I've never been overweight. In the first scene I noticed they show the teens in roles like every other social circle and the teens make comparisons from the beginning. The defiant rebel, Wil, is the main character. She is obviously there against her wishes and makes it known. Haley is the pretty girl, thinner than the other campers, but still overweight. In the first initial meeting, another camper tells her, "Oh my god, I hate you. Just kidding. You're so skinny!"Why is it that it seems okay to tell someone they are hated, as long as it's followed by a joke and/or it's because the person is commenting that they are skinny?

Here's what threw me for a loop. I had something in common with Wil. She is a loudmouthed, eye-rolling, attitude ridden, sarcastic, too-cool-for-school type. When I used to hate myself and my body, I was the same girl. Tough exterior and sometimes mean at the expense of others (yes, me) because I was so unhappy with myself and my life. It's not a fun place to be for anyone. In fact, it's downright shitty.

In an emotional scene the girls are informed one of the campers has been asked to leave and seek psychiatric care because she was caught vomiting. As sad as this is, I was happy to see a female showcased with (what's assumed as ) an eating disorder that isn't emaciated. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder and is prevalent in about 30% of those seeking weight loss treatment (Wikipedia). Good work, ABC.

I want to point out that the acting was amazing. In the world of reality shows galore, it was really a treat to watch great actors. What struck me the most was the pained expressions and feelings on these teen's faces. And it got me thinking; these teens live this in real life. In some way or another, they have been affected by society's idealistic standards and the fact that they don't fit it. I can't imagine how painful that must be. To have your life revolve around what size you are on the outside, being judged about the kind of person you are when really, the size of your heart is really what matters.

Choices, choices.


Sitting in my therapists office many years ago (don't you just love stories that start with that line?) I remember telling her, "I'll bet you have a really great marriage and life in general because you're so smart about all this". And she laughed and informed me that she had her own therapist. And that just because she gives advice and helps people get "well" (whatever "well" really is), doesn't mean she has a perfect life. I supposes that was my first realazation that just because someone is an expert at something, doesn't mean they do it perfectly. So, in becoming a life coach, I've let go of trying to have the perfect life. However, there's a distinction between that, and walking your own talk.

Last year I wrote a post on that topic, and it's come up again and again as I trudge further and further into my own personal growth and development. Funny how that happens, eh? Anyway, I'll get right to the point:

Over the last month or so my almost 3 year old son has been getting up at the crack of dawn. No, actually before dawn cracks. At around 5 am. Sometimes 4:30. And to me, that's still the middle of the night. We've tried everything, putting him to bed earlier, later, putting him back to bed, telling him the sun is still sleeping, but he's up and ready to party. So, I've been bitching and complaining about it on Facebook and Twitter, to my mom, and anyone who has ears.

In the meantime, I'm writing an e-book for my new website (more on that later) that's about self esteem. I talk about shifting your mindset. I preach that if you're not happy about something, shift the way you look at it. Huh. Pretty good advice, I'd say. So, this morning, bright and early, I stumbled downstairs, made my son an Eggo, changed my daughter's diaper (because he graciously wakes her up too), and poured myself some coffee. Feeling oh-so-sorry for myself. About 10 minutes later it dawned on me. I said to myself, "Self. Shift your mindset." So I did. Was it easy? Meh. But, I did it. It takes practice, I think. It's not as easy as jumping up and down, explaiming, "Wow! I LOOOOOVE this time in the morning!"  But even a slight shift is a start and gets the momentum to shift a little more. Try it. And let me know how it goes. Life is about choices. Concious choices.

What have you been looking at that you think sucks? What can you do to shift your mindset even in the slightest?

Huge is coming...

I admit that I don't watch too much TV that often anymore. I think I might be the last person in the world who doesn't have TiVo or DVR, and watching commercials makes me a bit crazy. However, upon hearing about ABC's new drama, HUGE, I was intriuged.




It's hard to form an opinion on a show merely by the one minute trailer, however, if you know me, you know I have an opinion.

From what I understant the show revolves around teenagers at a weight loss camp. The teenagers vary from overweight to obese. They deal with normal teenage problems, feelings and drama. At a weight loss camp. Oy vey.

My first problem is the question of what's with the poster with the actress, Nikki Blonsky, looking so....sad? Uncomfortable? Jaded? Scared? From what I understand, the show is promoting living a HUGE life, which if you read my blog, you know I send the same message. But, from the poster alone, I feel that they're saying, "Hey everybody! Come check out this show! We're going to pretend we're sending a great message, but selling it to you by thinking you're coming to see a train wreck".


So, I'm torn here. My battle is the question of why does this show need to be at a weight loss camp? Or day I say it (becauses I know you're thinking it) what most people still call a "fat camp"? Why couldn't it just be overweight kids at a high school, or private prep school? Aren't all the other shows about teenagers like that?  

The only reason I can think of, is that no one would watch it if it were just overweight kids in high school dealing with high school stuff. American's are obsessed with intensity. Reality shows must contain people fighting and/or hating each other (with a side of nudity, please), we love addiction shows (I readily admit I'm intruiged by the show "Hoarders"), we can't get enough of Oprah and Kirstie Alley losing and gaining weight all over the place. So, I'm not surprised at all to see a show come along like this. Honestly, part of me wants to bang my head against my computer keyboard in frustration. Sure, it's a step in the right direction to have a show on a major network in prime time showing overweight kids, but at what cost??

I can only keep my fingers crossed that it does what I hope: Shows that teenagers of all shapes and sizes have real feelings. That they are more that just overweight. Regardless of how they got there, they all have their "stuff" they are dealing with.

I'd love to hear what you think about it. What do you think it will be like? How do you think it will be viewed? What do you think about the cast? Here's the link again to the show. I'll be blogging again on Monday right after the show airs. Stay tuned...

Readers: What do YOU want?

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to write. She started a blog, and much to her surprise and gratitude, people started reading it.

Then one day she realized what she wanted to be when she grew up, helping women love themselves, but needed the people's help to get it right.

Obviously, that girl is yours truly. Very soon I will be moving this little blog over to a website and starting my coaching business. But, before I do that, I need to hear from YOU, my readers, or anyone you might know that can help me.

I'm looking for women 30-50 years old who might have issues with their self esteem and/or body image. Perfectionism is a biggie too. I'm doing some market research and that's it. Just a short little survey. I'm not trying to sell you anything, I promise! Except my husband's mountain bike, but that's another story for another time. So, if you think you can help, please either leave a comment here with your contact info, or email me at andreafry75 [at] hotmail [dot] com. I'd be eternally grateful.

ALSO!!

I'd like to know what you want me to write about. What do you like, what makes you read a particular post? I love writing and love feedback as well. So, let me hear your beautiful voices!

Oh, and thanks.

The Prize



"All my life I've been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I'm getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope" -Foo Fighters

I've been thinking about that a lot lately. The prize at the end of the rope that so many people are after. What is it? Happiness? Love? Beauty? A partner? Losing weight? Organization? Size 2 jeans? A better job? Perfection? A six-figure salary? Everyone's got one. Or two. Or more.

A few weeks back I wrote about the theory of "Go Big or Go Home". In my teens and 20's I thought I had to have it all. If I didn't have it all, or at least be going for it all, and especially look like I had it all, well, that was just unacceptable. I really felt like there was something out there that would bring me all the happiness I ever needed. I planned and planned. Controlled and controlled some more. I was outwardly happy, but inside I was pretty miserable. I lived in the world of "If only..."

What if your "prize" is yourself? Your trueness. I know that sounds really serious, doesn't it? But what if we were all put on this earth so unique from one another for a precise reason? I spent a lot of years trying to fit into a box. What I thought I should be, because I didn't think who I truly was was good enough. Actually, to be honest, I didn't even know who I was. It took me getting dropped on my ass and my heart ripped out  for me to figure out what I was doing wasn't working.

So, maybe if just for a minute, we all looked around and decided that our prize was right now.

This moment.

Ourselves.

Save New Moon Girls!

7th grade. What does that evoke in you? For me, 7th grade was puberty, braces, new hips, boy crazy, new to leg shaving and wearing make-up. My mom let me subscribe to Teen magazine and I remember a particular issue where the model on the cover had a super-cool haircut. I wanted that same super-cool haircut, so off we went to Supercuts with the magazine in hand. I proudly showed the stylist and 30 minutes later I walked out of there with a mullet. I kid you not. It wasn't the stylists fault, it really was a cute mullet on the model, but I was devastated. I clearly remember crying on the way home, holding the magazine in my hand. I would love to post a picture of this, but I would not let my mom take my picture until it grew out. I thought I looked hideous. Looking back, I wanted to look like that teen model. I thought all my dreams would come true if I looked like her. It wasn't the haircut, it was everything that went along with it. The clothes, the sparkly white teeth, the perfect skin, all of it. Teen magazine was just the beginning. I later got Seventeen magazine, then Cosmopolitan, then Shape. Model after model, advertisement after advertisement, telling me what I should be: Beautiful, thin, perfect.

What is this doing to us? What is this doing to little girls?


I'm not going to get into the effects of mainstream media right now, but I want to introduce you to Nancy Gruver and her amazing magazine of nearly 2 decades, New Moon Girls. In this day and age where girls are evermore exposed to heavily sexualized imagery and messaging, New Moon Girls gives them empowerment, no advertising, a safe interactive online community, girl created content and not to mention numerous awards, year after year. Nancy wanted to have a magazine available to girls that was for, by and about girls 8 and up. On New Moon Girls Facebok page she shares messages from subscribers like this one:

"I really love your magazine. I know i sound like a ad, but it really, truly makes me feel, happy, beautiful, and unique. I wish that every girl would have a subscription to new moon girls. It would make girls feel so good. Keep making more girls feel beautiful!" - Chloe, 12, Illinois

Hoorah, right? But, here's the bad news. (Boooo, I know). New Moon Girls is in trouble and needs our help. Because of the current economic climate, New Moon Girls may have to close their doors forever. So, here's how we can all help: I have become an affiliate partner for New Moon which means I will be selling New Moon subscriptions from my blog. A year long subscription is $44.95. That's a great deal for an entire year of empowering that little girl in your life! If you choose to purchase a copy through me - you will receive a $10 discount off the total price. Making a year of empowering magazine action for just $34.95. (I will be making no commission off this).


If you don't have a girl in your life to buy a subscription for, you can still help by buying and donating a subscription to your local library or school. How's that for paying it forward? Or, if you can't buy a subscription, please consider tweeting about New Moon Girls, this post, or sharing about New Moon Girls on Facebook and become a fan yourself.

Another cool thing if you do get a subscription: Have your daughter or the girl in your life contribute to New Moon. She can send in her poetry, essays or her questions. This magazine is by, for and about girls!

Young girls don't have to be bombarded with images and messages that make them feel less than what they are. We may not ever know what they see or hear that is damaging. But, with publications like New Moon Girls, I can guarantee you'll be sure they'll get empowering messages encouraging them to be themselves, dream big, have their voices heard and to discover and honor their true selves.

So, please, buy a subscription (or two, or more!) and help New Moon Girls. For the $34.95 offer, please click here.

Eight Windows

Inspired again by my dear friend Karen Pery, she has invited her readers to think about their lives. If given the opportunity to have glimpses of your life flash before your eyes, what would you see? She describes 8 windows, from the outside looking into your soul. I tried hard to think about things that were all nice and fluffy. But, honestly, not all my pivotal moments were great. Some yes, but not all. The moments that changed my life, the moments that would flash before my eyes if I was perhaps faced with death? Here is what I would see:

  1. Riding my big wheel on the tennis courts when I was 5 years old. The plastic streamers, my royal blue tennies, red and white tube top and dove shorts. No cares in the world. 
  2. 20 years old, walking into the recovery room where my dad had just had quadruple bypass surgery. Seeing his scars, seeing him hooked up to machines was too much. I walked out. 
  3. Standing in Barnes and Noble. I called my then-husband and the other woman answered. I finally knew for sure. It was over. Walking out and into the parking lot I had my first out-of-body experience. 
  4. The moment Jason opened the door the first time we met. We had been talking for weeks on the phone, and I promised myself I would have no expectations when I met him in person. The look of such curiosity on his face was evident. My first thought that I remember so clearly was, "Oh shit. He's cute. I'm in trouble." 
  5. My son's birth. Terrified, laying on the surgery table, smelling my burning skin as I was cut open to have him removed from my body. Thinking, "Shouldn't I be happy right now?" And feeling like the worst new mother ever for being furious about the way he was coming into the world. 
  6. On my son's first birthday, he woke up from a nap. I got him out of bed and sat down to rock him. He fell back asleep in my arms and I memorized his smell: Baby sweat and sunscreen. It was delicious. 
  7. About 30 seconds after my daughter was born, I broke down in tears. Fighting with my obstetrician about how I was going to give birth to her was more than I could handle. I was so happy that she was here, that she was in my arms, that she was healthy and that she was born the way I thought she deserved to be born. 
  8. Sitting at my dining room table with my beloved MacBook, writing any post of this blog. Crying, typing the words of the story of my past. Realizing how sad I was at times. And how I used to cope. The girl I was. The woman I've become. And the vulnerability of letting everyone see it. 

I feel like I should say something inspiring right now but I don't have it in me. 

What would you see through your windows? 

Just things

I've been blogging a lot lately. Well, at least a lot for me. I remember when I got rejected from blogher.com because I didn't post frequently enough. I lurked through other blogs on their site and saw many that hadn't been updated for months on end, or frequent posters that wrote in-depth articles about the antics of their cats. The rejection sent me into "I'll show them" mode and I vowed to only write about things that mattered- things that would hopefully help someone, anyone. I keep writing for two main reasons: 1. This blog has been theraputic for me. And 2. Whenever I get an email from someone thanking me for helping them, it makes little hearts come out of my head.

My dear friend Karen Pery wrote a recent post that moved me. It was so simple, but yet a challenge for me to do my own. She quotes Jen Lemen:

…I think I should stick to a regimen of shallow self-disclosure in the spirit of old-school blogging. You know, the kind we had before we decided to try to make all of this mean something.

I feel confident that all ten of you will be just fine if I…

Don’t try to soothe or feed you.
Refuse to help or advise you.
Just tell you how I am every so often without taking on anyone’s future dreams or development.

So, taking the lead from Jen and Karen, I give you my own "Things":

Things I don’t know yet (except, of course, when I do)
If my son and daughter will have a close relationship when they grow up.
If we'll stay in California, or move out of state.
If I'll go back to graduate school.
What the topic of my first book will be.
If I will ever step on a scale again in my lifetime.

Things I'm learning
Patience.
How to slow down.
How to let go.
How to be an awesome coach.
How lucky I am to have such a great marriage.

Things I'm wishing for
Eternal happiness for my children
More time to myself
Big hair to be back in style
A housekeeper
All women to love themselves and their bodies unconditionally.( Wow, wouldn't that be awesome?)

Things that are getting on my nerves
My son's phase of getting up before the sun. Coming in my room at 4:30 am to tell me the big news: "Momma! The sun is still sleeping!"
The landscapers that always seem to know when I've put my kids down for a nap.

Things that scare me
Zombies (seriously).
Car accidents.
Drama.
Debt.

Things that are making me happy
My past relationships. As shitty as some of it was, I'm so happy it all happened.
Exercising for health.
My husband. I never knew how happy I could be having simplicity.
New friends. And watching my old friends grow up.
Seeing how much my son loves animals.
Getting to know myself.
My daughter's fierce attachment to me.

Ratting myself out.


Forgive me, blogosphere, for I have sinned.

The last few weeks I've been ranting about taking steps back to re-evaluate ourselves and what we're doing. I wrote about just "being" instead of "doing" all the time, and before that I wrote about perfectionism and the curse of "go big or go home".

And last week, my good friend Jenny Blake wrote a post entitled "My Sandboxed Life" where she confesses that her overachievement is getting to her and she wants to slow down (by the way, the "friend" she mentions that told her she was a "house of cards waiting to crumble"? Yeah, that was me).

So, here I am, blahbidy, blah, blah. Telling all of you in the blogosphere the importance of slowing down for your own sanity and little ol' me has a to-do list 17 miles long. Yes, I said it. I am a....

Hypocrite.

But, in my own defense, and the point of this post, is that I didn't even know it was happening. Let me explain.

I've learned some things about my own negative self talk, or saboteur (remember mine? She's a real bitch). In most cases, this talk is blatantly negative, saying things like, "You can't do this, you suck at that, you're stupid", etc. Since I've done a pretty good job at recognizing these voices and putting a lid on it, my bitch of a gremlin has evolved and gotten smarter. Since she knows she can't trap me that way, she's flipped it around and disguises herself as ambition. She makes ridiculous demands, plays the comparison game and has no patience for compromise. None. (P.S. I talk about her in the third person because it helps me decipher those words from my true self . I know it sounds like I hear voices, but I'm really not schizophrenic. Er, at least I don't think I am). My own coach gave me a homework assignment a couple weeks back that entailed me sitting down and making a list of things not to-do, but what I've done in the last year. I finally did it, and was astounded at how long and kick-ass it was. It made me realize that if I can't sit back and be proud of myself for accomplishing all that I've done, what's the point it wearing myself out for it? It's okay to slow down and celebrate once in a while. To look at how far I've come, and sometimes, to confess that I screw up. So, with that, I pull up my big girl panties and carry on.

I can't tell you what a relief it's been to realize this and put things off. I don't know why I see women entrepreneurs that have been in business for 10+ years and think I need to be that. Tomorrow. How ridiculous! I was reminded this week by Jennifer Powter that moms starting a business with small children live in dog years. What takes most people 1 day may take us a week. It's frustrating, and as a recovering type a/perfectionist person, I can tell you that irritates the shit out of me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get my professional juggling certification.

What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Interesting how that question is worded. Not "what do you want to DO when you grow up".

I suppose in some ways I'm just growing up now. I had several life altering experiences within a few years of each other. Bad ones. I mean really, really bad. The kind of things that make people's eyes widen and they don't know what to say. So, I've been asked many times how I came out on the other side. How did I not just wallow in self pity and become a walking disaster? Well, I was a walking disaster for several months, but some key things happened to get myself to a better place. Today I found something and would like to share with you.

I've always been in a hurry to do everything. At this point, I know it's in my DNA, and I've accepted it, so I only try to slow down when I'm being crazy and it's affecting me or someone I care about in a negative way. I walk fast, talk fast and like to cross things off my list. So, 2 years ago I was sitting in one of my coaches training classes and we were asked the question to ponder and write down the answer:

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" 


And being little Miss Busy Bee that I am, I started writing furiously. Making goals. The things I was supposed to do. The things I thought I should do. I even put timelines on them. I wrote about 5 things and stopped. I drew a big X through them. On the next line I wrote:

Just Be. 


Just be happy and confident and know that when the time is right and when I am ready it will happen. 


That was a big step for me. Letting go of all the doing. Letting go of control, knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Looking at my own words in my own handwriting this morning brought me to tears. That was my list of hopes and dreams. That was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sure, I wanted to do all of the "things" on my list, but really, it wasn't working out so well in the past. I was lost. So, that day I threw the towel in. I didn't care if everyone else in my class had goals written down. I was tired. Tired of chasing the impossibleness of "doing" all the time. I wanted to just be me. I suppose my soul sighed from relief and thanked me.

Trust me, my life isn't all unicorns farting rainbows. I still make lists of things to do. But, I've been able to just be....me. Messy, unorganized, imperfect, crazy, spazz girl me.

Summer Reading list for girls!


I have received several emails from friends of mine, asking for suggested reading. Some for themselves, and lately moms are contacting me asking for books that are for their daughters- books that give a positive moral message. They're tired of their daughters having "role models" thrust in their faces that are not worthy of looking up to. Reality stars, "glitterati girls", and girls that are famous for nothing more than bad behavior and attractiveness. A couple months ago I wrote about Katherine Switzer, an amazing woman who at 20 years old paved the way for women to be able to enter and run competitive marathons. That is a woman I would love for my daughter to aspire to be like, someone strong willed, who stood up for what she believed in, and didn't let anyone get in her way.

So, I've compiled a list of books for you with the help of Tanya Lee Stone. This list is for girls ages 9-12. The links are all to Amazon, but that's merely so you can see what the books are all about. I encourage you to go to your local library and get ALL of them! Oh, the library, remember that place? I had forgotten about it too, but have recently returned and wow- it's a pretty cool place!

So, here it is, in no particular order:


"Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream" by Tanya Lee Stone.

"Thank you, Sarah" by Laurie Halse Anderson

"Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" by Philip M. Hoose

"Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Staton and the Right to Vote" by Tanya Lee Stone

"Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution" by Laurie Halse Anderson

"Remember the Ladies: 100 Great American Women" by Cheryl Harness

"Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels, and what the Neighbors Thought" by Kathleen Krull

"Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women" by Catherine Thimmesh

"33 Things Every Girl Should Know about Women's History" by Tonya Bolden





The Curse of "Go Big or Go Home"


I saw this bumper sticker the other day and it conjured up many bad memories. I used to live my life by this mantra. No, I mean LIVE MY LIFE. If it wasn't going to be done 150,000,000 percent, then don't do it at all. Isn't that what it means to "Go Big or Go Home"? If you read my blog you know I sometimes write about a nasty thing called Perfectionism. I've struggled with this for years. It's ugly, I hate it, but I've actually come a long way. Perfectionism is black and white. In someone's life who deals with this, everything is or isn't. There's no "in-between". No gray area.

I started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. I practically grew up on the tennis courts. My parents were avid players. I took lessons for years and years and if my parents weren't paying for lessons, my dad was my coach. My freshman year in high school I got up enough courage to try out for the tennis team. The first day of try-outs I sized up the other girls there. Some of them were better than me, but not all. It didn't even occur to me that these girls would be my teammates, not my competition. The anxiety that overtook me was much too overwhelming. I felt sick thinking that I might lose. In front of others. In front of my parents.  So, guess what I did? I went home. The following year I tried out for something much less stressful in my book: Cheerleading. I don't regret being on the cheerleading team, however, I very much regret letting my own perfectionism, my own fear of failure limit me in something that was so important to me. I loved tennis. I was a really good player. But, if I couldn't be the absolute best, if I couldn't "go big", (and in my mind that meant never losing) I would rather go home.

This thought process continued and bled over into other parts of my life. I compared myself constantly to everyone else. I wasn't as thin as this person, my boobs weren't as big as that persons, my grades weren't as good as hers. Compliments fell on deaf ears.

When someone concentrates so hard on looking good, at being the absolute best at any cost, are they really living their life authentically? Are they even living their own life? I didn't even know what "living authentically" meant until I became somewhat comfortable living in the grey.  Years of "go big or go home" had worn on me, and I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, and who I wanted to become. Was it easy to let it all go? Shit, NO! It's still not sometimes. I still have moments of "Oh no, I'm going to look like a complete asshole if I do this or say that". It's slowly becoming easier to be okay with the fact that some people might think I'm an asshole. And on a good day I might even take that as a compliment.

After reading Courtney Martin's "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters", it was reiterated to me that so many women, especially in my generation suffer from perfectionistic behaviors. The line gets blurry from the ambitious, go-getter, fierce female, to the woman practically killing herself to be perfect in every way. For me, I let my mean and vicious saboteur voice run my life for a lot of years. And she's a real bitch to me, let me tell ya! But, I truly believe that living a life this way, can be crippling.

So, think about times when you might have had this type of thinking. Perhaps you made assumptions ahead of time about something or someone. Or maybe you avoided something because in your mind if you couldn't do it perfectly, it wasn't worth doing. Just notice it.

Triggered.



trig·ger
–verb
  • to initiate or precipitate (a chain of events, scientific reaction, psychological process, etc.)
  • to fire or explode (a gun, missile, etc.) by pulling a trigger or releasing a triggering device
  • to become active; activate


First thing Monday morning I had a session with my coach. I didn’t have a specific topic nailed down, but had about 3 things that were swimming in my head, so I just started talking. Talk, talk, talk about how I want to do this, and I need to decide on this, and I feel lost about that. A few minutes later my coach says, “Wow. Sounds like you’ve been triggered.” 
And Holy Moses, was she right. 
I thought about the last 2 weeks and some things that had happened. Not necessarily monumental events, just little things that planted themselves in my brain, and then the fire started. For me, in this particular instance I’m writing about, is body image. And let me tell ya, when it's body image, it's not just a piddly fire. It's a god damn inferno. 
Week before last I was running in my neighborhoods while pushing both my kids in the stroller. I was feeling amazing, finally feeling better from an injury and so happy to be back doing what I love: running. A car pulled up beside me, slowed down and a women about early to mid-60’s rolled down her window. She smiled and asked me, “How come it’s always the skinny girls that are running?” 
...
I was speechless (which is rare for me). My first reaction was to stop and launch into an enormous explanation, an angry explosion. Who does she think she is, thinking that I run to be skinny? How dare she assume that being skinny equates happiness and health? And who cares what type of body I have, why does that matter? Is that supposed to be some kind of compliment? And on and on and on. My head spun out of control with assumptions of what she really meant and I can’t imagine what the look on my face was like. However, I said nothing. 
On Saturday I went to a workshop that was held at a beautiful private gym. I went to use the restroom and there it was: The scale. You might be thinking, “Yeah, so what?” But for me, and I think for a lot of people that are in recovery from disordered eating and exercise, seeing that scale was...terrifying, haunting, exciting, curious, frustrating, confusing and triggering. So many thoughts. The angel and devil quickly had an argument: Don’t get on it. It’s not that big of a deal, just step on it. Don’t do it, you haven’t weighed yourself in 9 months! Well, you’ve been exercising again, let’s just see what happened. If you step on it, you might go back there, to that place. Are you that fragile that you can’t handle what it says? Yes, you can, just do it. Prove that it’s not a big deal anymore. 
As I washed my hands I stared at it on the floor in the mirror. And I walked away. 
These two things happened and that’s just it: They happened. In my mind I’ve come to the conclusion that being triggered = BAD. And what happens afterward, or how I handle it (or don’t handle it) determines and defines who I am and where I am in terms of recovery. 
Today, I learned and accepted that I don’t have to go down with the triggers in my life, whether they be about body image, perfectionism, relationships or anything. Sometimes they suck, and sometimes they hurt, but I can choose to look at them as a gift. Sometimes they’re wrapped up in a pretty bow, sometimes they feel like a block of cement, sometimes it's a box of dog shit, but no matter what, they are my gift to myself, and I just need to ask, “What did I learn?” That’s it. They don’t need to mean anything profound all the time. They don’t define me. They don’t grip me. 

So, what did I learn? I learned that backhanded compliments about my body are hard to swallow. Thinking about it further, any comment about my body is hard to swallow. But, I don't need to make assumptions about what that person meant. And I learned that sometimes the scale looks scary. And there's a part of me that's curious about how much I weigh. That's it. I can get so caught up and lost if the "what does it all mean?" and will run on that hampster wheel all damn day. And if I need to cry, I'll cry. And if I don't, I won't. But being triggered doesn't equal anything. 

So, think about what triggers you. Perhaps there are times when you feel so overwhelmed by something, or really wanting to launch into a new project, or control something, anything in your life. Think about the past few weeks or even months and if anything happened, however small that may have triggered you. And just be with it. 

Photo courtesy of Soul Rider

I was attacked today.

Got your attention? Good.

I went to a self defense class this weekend. I've wanted to go for ages but, it was never on my priority list so I never went. I try to be aware of my surroundings, and have always thought that if someone messes with me I'm pretty sure I can hold my own. I mean, I'm in shape. I even have muscles! I've taken kickboxing classes and can throw an uppercut. Doesn't all that Tai-bo count for something?  But, when Chelsea King was raped and murdered in my home town, I knew I had no more excuses.

Let me tell you something. In the real world, my attitude, plus the fact that I can curl a 25 pound dumbell with my bicep isn't going to get me out of a chokehold by a 200 pound man. I had a very humbling experience in the class. The instructor, Tracie Arlington, talked to us about elbows, and how as women, we're told that just throwing an elbow around is defense enough. Then Chad, her assistant asked if anyone wanted to try that technique on him. He had no pads on yet and I thought, "Is he serious? I know I can get at least one strike in with an elbow." In the class of about 25 girls and women no one volunteered. So, I blurt out, "I'll do it!" and met him in the middle of the mat. I mean, c'mon, I'm tough! I'm fiesty! I've got SPIRIT!

I had no idea what was coming (as you really wouldn't, if you were attacked in real life). Chad grabbed me so quickly I have no idea how he got me into a choke hold, but he did. My first thought was how tight he had a hold of my neck, my next thought was the feeling of complete helplessness I had. I threw an elbow to his gut. Nothing. I threw another one. Nothing. I got as much strength as I could muster up and threw a few more. Nothing. At that point, I was exhausted from squirming, being angry and frustrated and from using all my energy to throw feeble elbows.

The point of my story is that learning specific techniques is imperative.  Here are some startling statistics:


  • 83% of rape victims are between the ages of 12 years and 25 years of age.
  • 90% of women assaulted knew their assailant.
  • 25% of college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape.
  • 85% of rapes on campuses are acquaintance/date rapes and most happen in the first three months of college due to Fraternity and Sorority pledging and parties.
  • 90% of all campus rapes involve alcohol.
  • Women who resist are twice as likely to escape injury as others. According to the Women's Self Defense Institute, an analysis of 3,000 actual assaults showed that half of the attackers fled from a woman who was willing to resist! The key, however, is to learn how to effectively resist.
Even though we were in a class setting, where we know essentially we were safe, there is something very real about an actual person sitting on top of you with their hands at your throat, or holding your wrists down. In the back of my mind I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get out of the pinned down position while being choked, but guess what? I did. And now I feel much more confident just out in the world of the "unknown".

Love yourself. Love your life. I say that all the time. It's part of my job to help and empower people to do this. My blog title even proclaims it. Be proactive about your safety. It doesn't matter where you live, just google, "women's self defense" and find a class in your area. You owe it to yourself, your family and your confidence. Do it now and let me know that you did it. 


Statistics from the Play it Safe website.

The Gremlin, The Mannequin and Joan Jett



Warning: Strong language included in this post.

I may have mentioned in my previous posts about what we call in the coaching world as our “saboteur”. AKA "the gremlin". It’s that little (or sometimes not so little) voice in our head that we all have, some more than others. It tells us mean things, negative talk, tells us we can’t do something, that we look stupid, that we’re fat, ugly, etc. Everyone’s is unique. Some people believe theirs more that others. Some people have learned how to squash theirs. But, it’s been my experience, that it never quite goes away and that it evolves, just like we do. It gets smarter, and sneakier too as time goes on.

I’ve started this post a few times, and have never finished or posted about my saboteur. It was a homework assignment from my coach about a year ago; one that I never completed (See, even coaches are bad clients sometimes). I think back then I was afraid to rip the band aid off and show everyone my saboteur. Well, enough hiding, here she is:

My sabotuer is a vicious bitch to me. In my mind she looks like a manequin would, perfect hair, skin, and make up, perfectly thin with no flaws. On display. She is also empty inside. She tells me my world will fall apart at any moment, and to brace myself for it. She wears a smug expression. She tells me I need to be thinner, stronger, younger, in better shape, a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, a better everything. And never, ever, let them see you cry. She used to tell me I'm not good at anything, so why try?



mannequin


I.
Fucking.
Hate.
Her.

The absolute complete opposite of her, and what in my mind kicks her ass is my alter ego: Joan Jett. She doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks of her, doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation, is exactly who she is and certainly makes no apologies for it. She is a serious ass-kickin' rocker.




Joan+Jett+joanjett



In many ways I'm a lot like her, but my gremlin says, "That's not pretty, not lady-like, it's too loud and-your-reputation-IS-so-important-if-it-were-flawed-WE-WOULD-DIE!!!"

Metaphorically speaking, the mean-bitch mannequin lady and Joan Jett have roller derby races. They race, they bump into each other, tell each other to fuck off, sometimes they crash and get it into a knock down cat fight. They go around and around the track, going nowhere.

Do you think I'm totally crazy yet? Okay, good.

But, sometimes they slow down and skate together quietly. Because I am not either of them. I am not perfect at parenting, working out, or anything for that matter. And I don't need to be hard-as-nails tough like Joan Jett either. I can be in the middle. In the grey. My gremlin, the mannequin lady is addicted to suffering. No matter how pretty she presents herself to me, no matter how convincing she is, I still need to remember SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO LIVE MY LIFE. So, I take my skates back.

And skate away from her to take control of my own life.

So, who is your gremlin, your saboteur? What does he/she say to you? How do you decipher between that voice and your true voice, your true being? 

Choosing an experience: My journey to VBAC

Today's post is written by Pamela Candelaria who writes over at Natural Birth for Normal Women. 


I’m going to come right out and say it: The single biggest reason I wanted a VBAC was because I wanted the experience, magic-filled and complete with angelic music and ethereal light. Well, yes, I had romanticized it a bit, but I had a very clear vision of my ideal birth before my firstborn was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye.  I believe giving birth is a rite of passage, and the actual physical act of giving birth is the highest expression of feminine power.  I was shocked when I ended up having a c-section to deliver my first baby, and it was an enormous struggle for me to work through my feelings of failure. There was never a question that I would pursue VBAC when I had more children. Or at least, there was never a question until I got pregnant again. 

Then it started. I knew I had to be better informed this time, make better choices to have a better birth. My starting point for research was the internet, and it was absolutely filled with horror stories about VBACs gone wrong, catastrophic uterine ruptures that killed babies and left mothers hemorrhaging and facing hysterectomy. If only they’d chosen another c-section, their babies would be alive and they would be able to have more children. My conviction began to falter. I kept reading. I read the derision heaped on VBAC moms, the accusations that we were trying to get a “vag badge” or would rather have a vaginal birth than a healthy baby. I wondered if I was putting my own desire for an experience above the health of my baby. If that was the case, I needed to re-evaluate my priorities make peace with having c-sections for all my children.  

In the midst of my searching, something wonderful happened. I found an online support group full of women who not only knew absolutely everything about VBAC and repeat cesarean (RCS), but were able to direct me to the sources so I could learn it myself. I started reading studies- actual studies that looked at thousands of births. I could see the biases and flaws in the research, and I was able to critically evaluate how the conclusions of the studies were affected by those biases. I had support, I had encouragement, and I had resources- and this is what I learned:

VBAC is safe. Let me say that again: VBAC is safe. That is not to say it is without risk, but any pregnancy following a c-section carries greater risk than a pregnancy with an unscarred uterus. On the whole, VBAC provides better outcomes for mothers and babies than scheduled repeat cesarean.  VBAC babies have higher APGAR scores, lower rates of NICU admission, less need for supplemental oxygen, and shorter hospital stays than babies born by RCS. VBAC moms have less time in the hospital, too, and they also enjoy significantly lower rates of infection, hemorrhage, transfusion and hysterectomy. Repeat cesareans are 2-4 times more likely to result in maternal death than VBAC, but death related to uterine rupture in a VBAC attempt is unheard of. Because I wanted a large family, it was critical for me to learn that risks in future pregnancies dramatically decrease with multiple VBACs, but dramatically increase with multiple c-sections. Having this information renewed my confidence in my decision to VBAC, but it left me with questions, too. Why was the obstetric world so against VBAC? And why do only 10% of women choose VBAC? 

The answers to those questions are multifaceted. The factors influencing modern obstetric care in general, and VBAC specifically, are complex and interwoven to the extent that it’s nearly impossible to separate them. Medical malpractice suits are a huge part of the equation, and there are lawyers ready and waiting to vilify OBs who support VBACs. It’s estimated that 30% of OBs have stopped supporting VBACs solely because they fear malpractice liability, and another 29% have increased their c-section rate for the same reason. The ACOG issued guidelines requiring “immediate” availability of emergency c-section for VBAC moms, and as a result nearly 1/3 of hospitals stopped supporting VBAC labors. But with the majority of OBs and hospitals still allowing VBAC, I wondered, why do women choose RCS in droves? 

It is common (though inaccurate) knowledge that VBAC is safer for mothers and RCS is safer for babies, and there is a strong social expectation that we as mothers should be willing to sacrifice our own safety to ensure the safety of our babies. We fear we’ll be held responsible if a VBAC goes wrong, but choosing RCS makes the OB responsible for the safety of the baby during birth. Many OBs provide misleading information about the risks of VBAC, guiding women to “choose” RCS because it is falsely presented as risk-free.  Other OBs claim to be VBAC-supportive, but have a laundry list of criteria that virtually guarantee no one will ever achieve a trial of labor. VBAC is no longer a mainstream birth choice, and when faced with unsupportive providers, misinformation, scare tactics, and a constant need to be vigilant and advocate for ourselves to ensure we’re given an opportunity to birth the way we want- well, is it any surprise that most of us opt out? 

After all my hours of research, I felt vindicated. Not only was my desire for a birth experience okay, but going ahead and having that experience was going to be better for me and my baby and all my future babies too. I was also lucky; my OBs never questioned my decision to VBAC and they were supportive and encouraging throughout my pregnancies. I have now had three VBACs, and oddly enough, there wasn’t a single one marked by angelic music or ethereal light. I never had that ideal birth I’d envisioned. It was just me, birthing my babies, having that experience, doing a little part of God’s work. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  

*******************************************************************************

Pam is a mother of 4 who found a passion for birth through her cesarean and 3 VBAC journeys. She believes the best way to improve maternity care is to empower all women to make fully informed decisions, regardless of what type of birth they choose. She resides in Denver, Colorado. 

J Lo tells us the reason we should all get our pre-baby body back...

Recently, Jennifer Lopez was interviewed for  US magazine. Not the most intriguing of magazines, I know, but they do have (what I am assuming is) hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and many, many more pick it up while waiting in line at the grocery store. The cover screams, "MY BEST BODY EVER" and provides us with an eyeful of the celebrity looking happy and sultry. A look all of us mothers are apparently dying to achieve. (Insert eye roll). The article quotes Lopez as saying,"You get to the point where you're like, Where am I? What happened to me? I got to get myself together for my kids, you know? They need to know what I really look like."




Don't get me wrong; I love me some J Lo. Many times I've been running, listening to her music, shaking my butt, trying to tap into my inner Latina. But, Jesus H. Christ. "They need to know what I really look like" ?? What she really looks like? I can guarantee, that what she really looks like is not some perfectly lit, posed, professionally make-up'd, airbrushed and photoshopped celebrity. And what kind of message does this send to her children and to other mothers? Call me completely bananas-gone-crazy, but this is the message it sends to me as a mother: 

Mamas: If you've got a little or a lot of belly fat, perhaps some pesky cellulite on your thighs,
 some sag on your butt cheeks after having those babies, don't you think it's about time you show 
your kids what you looked like BEFORE you had them? So what if it's been several years and you're
 not 20 anymore. Do it for your KIDS! Get yourself together for your them. 

Clearly, I jest, and who really takes J Lo seriously anymore. But, this is nothing new. We see it and hear it daily. The "How I got my body back after baby" article is a pretty constant bombardment to us mothers. So how do we ignore it? How in the world do we squash just deal with the body image pressures after having babies? 

There are many things a woman can do about it, and it really depends on the severity of her issues. I will say a couple of things. First of all, remember this: When you decide to have a baby, your life will change permanently. Forever. For the rest of your natural life. So, count on the fact that it's pretty likely that your body will change too. For-ev-er. Am I happy about the fact that my body is different now after having 2 babies? No. By no means do I give myself a wink and a thumbs up in the mirror when my eyes fall on a part of my body that is different than it used to be. But, I'm learning to live with it. Sometimes I just sigh and have to say, "It is, what it is", then go chase my toddler or nurse my daughter (which by the way I'll take my not-so-perky-anymore breasts as a trade off for breastfeeding both of my children). Just try to keep it in perspective. We chose to have the attitudes we have about certain things. Body image is no different. We can choose to be in a place of "Oh-my-god-I-need-to-get-my-body-back-or-else-(insert worst possible fate)" or we can choose to just accept it for what it is.

Your kids don't care if you have some belly fat. They don't care if you have some cellulite. But, they do care (and listen) about how you think and talk about your body. I vowed to do my best to heal my body image issues and to not pass them on to my children, especially my daughter. I do the best I can. Sometimes I feel like that clown at the circus who spins plates on both hands, one foot, his head and his nose. Some fall off, sometimes he looks silly, but, hey, at least he's trying, right? We have a lot to deal with as mothers. Let's not beat ourselves up by comparing our bodies now to what they looked like before we had babies.

Thanks anyway, J Lo. Please don't comment anymore about that. Just keep making great movies making music that we can shake our butts to.