Highest Potential

Hi. I want to talk about bodies. Wait. That probably doesn’t sound so good…

Let me try again.

I want to talk about my body.

I am a former distance runner who ran 35 miles a week when I got pregnant with my first baby. I even ran a half marathon during that pregnancy. I was a beast. I was strong. I felt awesome.

Unfortunately, as a result of pregnancy and delivery, I had symphysis pubic dysfunction, diastasis recti, as well as pretty extensive damage to my pelvic floor after my son was born. It wasn’t until Silas was almost two years old that I finally received a diagnosis for my pelvic floor problems. By then the dysfunction was so bad that I could not fully empty my bladder and was constantly carrying around about 100cc of urine (They can measure that. Weird right?)

When I got pregnant again, everything got worse.

Two rounds and three years of pelvic physical therapy later and I am doing a lot better, though I may never be “normal” again.

Cut to about a month ago, I’ve been hinting at some physical problems, but haven’t yet wanted to discuss things until I had a diagnosis and could better wrap my head around things. Thankfully, it isn’t anything serious, but it is chronic. About a month ago I was diagnosed with Palindromic Rheumatism after months of fatigue, joint pain and a million doc visits (which are incredibly hard for me thanks to Health OCD). The pain is part of what sent me into an episode. It’s part of why I got so bad that I ended up in a Behavioral Health hospital. Not because I experienced the pain and symptoms, but because I was not equipped to manage my mental health alongside them. Things are different now. Part of what I learned in the partial hospitalization program that I attended is how to understand the way my brain deals with health issues, and how to normalize the anxiety that often accompanies health concerns. I’m going to be talking a lot more about this in the coming weeks, as I’m excited and inspired by the way my brain is habituating to some of the positive mental health practices that I have learned.

So, the last month has been a bit of a relief, because walking around with all these symptoms and not knowing the why was more than a little unnerving. I started a nerve blocking medication which has helped tremendously in managing the pain and also the fatigue because I am finally getting restful sleep again! I’m learning about Palindromic Rheumatism, but only from my doctor because I’m still not allowed to Google health stuff and probably never will again, which is fine by me. I’ve learned (again) how important restorative sleep is to my mental well-being and have enjoyed thoroughly the radiant feeling that returns when my body is getting the rest that it needs. I’ve learned that if I over-indulge, I will not only have a wicked, I’m-not-in-my-twenties-anymore hangover, but I will also probably have a rheumatic flare! Even more reason to enjoy my craft beer in moderation. 🙂

Yesterday, I pulled some Affirmators and Soul’s Journey cards to serve as prompts for journaling and had an enormous ah-ha moment.

I have a shit relationship with my body.

I have resented it. I have told my husband that it is “broken.” My language around my body and its functioning is always negative. As a result, I FEEL bad about my body. I feel afraid about my health. I am riding around in this thing all day, scared of every twinge and twitch.

What would happen if I began to treat my body with the love, gratitude, and compassion that it deserves? What if I stopped being disappointed that it isn’t the way it used to be and instead helped it discover its NEW potential?

Today, I start working with a personal trainer. We will be doing mostly strength training with an additional two days of cardio per week. She knows about all my physical “nuances”, and she is undaunted. She is excited to help me find my new strong. She believes in this Me, not the distance runner version.

I may never be a distance runner again. That doesn’t mean that I peaked and now it’s downhill from here. It means that my highest potential has shifted to somewhere else, to some other point on the map. It’s about recognizing that my highest potential is just as fluid as my capabilities and strengths and as such, I am always equipped to find and meet it.

I don’t care about being skinny. This new endeavor isn’t about looks. It is about changing the relationship I have with my body (starting with the way I think and talk about it). It is about feeling strong and vital again. Most of all, this is about showing my body that I believe in it. It’s about reverence for what we have been through together, this beautiful body and I.

It’s about saying thank you.

It’s about self-love.

 

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A Brief Update, Bloom Beautifully, and a discount code FOR YOU!

HELLO my sweet friends! Apologies for the prolonged absence from this space. Hopefully you are following me on Facebook and Twitter, where I have not been absent.

*evil grin*

If not, join the fun!

I’ve been movin’ and shakin’ since returning from the Warrior Mom Conference, and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED about some of the things I have planned for you. I’ve got posts queued up (ones that will get you all in your feels and some that will get you all in your giggles). I’ve got some new series’ that are going to start soon (monthly or bi-monthly posts on the same topic/idea). AND, I’ve got some in-person stuff in the pipeline for you locals who want to come hang out with me in real life! 2017 is shaping up to be a big year here at Motherhood Misfit, and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride!

Now, the elephant in the room – The Election. Let’s just get this out of the way so that we can move on. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter already know this, but I want to set some expectations for those of you who follow me only here.

I am an unapologetic liberal. I am an unapologetic fighter for justice, equality, and safety for marginalized groups of people. I am a middle-class white woman who recognizes her privilege and platform and will use both vehemently to amplify the voices of people of color and to attempt to right the many, many things currently wrong with this world. I will not shy from my beliefs because they make you uncomfortable. I will not keep my political opinions out of my blog. My space – my voice – my responsibility.

We cool? Good.

I have been HARD at work since November 9th, doing my part to effect change, both socially and within the inter-workings of my party, which failed so hard to inspire and represent the very people they claim as a voter base.

If you are interested in finding ways to get involved or learn more about my opinions, please use the links previously posted to find me on Facebook where I am frequently posting opportunities and am more than happy to chat about the work we have to do.

NOW, on to the fun stuff!

I had the opportunity, after Warrior Mom Con, to try out Bloom Beautifully, a monthly subscription box dedicated entirely to Self Care.

I know. So awesome.

Bloom Beautifully is run by Tara Pringle Jefferson, who is not only a woman entrepreneur herself, but sources many of the products in her boxes from fellow female-owned small businesses. How cool is that?

I tried out the November box and am excited to share with you what was inside! Even better, Tara has very kindly provided a discount code JUST for Motherhood Misfit readers! Keep reading to get the skinny on my November box, and to receive your special discount code.

INSIDE THE NOVEMBER BOX

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Lavender Chai Soap Bar by Zandra Beauty 
Y’all, this soap is gorgeous. Handcrafted by owner, 16-year-old Zandra, this soap is plant-based, cruelty-free, paraben free, all-natural and free of icky ingredients. As if it wasn’t cool enough that Zandra Beauty is owned and operated by a 16-year-old girl, 10% of its profits support girls’ education. Basically, throw all your credit cards at her because she is doing some amazing stuff.

Beautiful & Brave Coffee Mug by Rachel Allene Lettering 
True- I have only owned this mug for about seven days.
Also True- I have used this mug for seven days.
So basically, I’m in love.

Cafe Latte Coffee Candy by Fusion Gourmet
These are dangerous and would make a fantastic stocking stuffer for you to give yourself because you’re not going to want to share them.

Cocoa Butter Massage Bar by The Good Stuff Naturals
You GUYS. This bar smells like heaven. Cedar and Saffron?! It’s like Tara knew me already. I like anything that smells like a tree. No sarcasm. If anyone knows how to make perfume out of tree bark, hit me up. That said, when I saw that this soap had Cedar in its scent profile, I shed a single tear, turned, and went immediately to turn on my shower.

Peppermint Mocha Hand Cream by Strange Charm Design
This smells exactly like a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, which happens to be my second holiday drink of choice. My first choice is a Brandy Alexander, but for some reason, it is frowned upon to drink those during the daytime. So, Starbucks it is. YOU GUYS, I just realized that I could put this hand cream on and then drink a Brandy Alexander and it will kind of be like having BOTH of my favorite holiday drinks at the same time. *runs off to find martini shaker*

Mini Bonus: Inspirational Art Print by Bloom Beautifully 
“I am leaving every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.” – Tracee Ellis Ross
This little art card was so perfect for where I am right now. I have been swimming in plans and ideas since October and was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with all the work to be done. Then the election happened. Having this little card on my altar (YES, I’m going to post about it) has been a wonderful way to remind me to get excited about the road ahead, instead of scared of it.

SO, there you have it! I’m obsessed with my Bloom Beautifully box. It would make a wonderful holiday gift (full disclosure: I am REALLY hoping that someone *ahem Hubby/Mom* will sign me up for a subscription this Christmas!) Even better; Tara has very graciously offered readers of Motherhood Misfit a special discount code to receive $5 off your first box. Just use the code MISFIT at checkout!

With that, I am off to begin the marathon cooking for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Sending you all love, gratitude, and peace as we roll into the holiday season.

See you back here soon!

 

 

 

Dear Donald…

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Dear Donald,
This is my 4 year old son, Silas. I’m raising him to respect women and to treat them the way he wants to be treated (crazy, I know). You guys have so much in common. Sometimes I ask him for a bedtime kiss… oh wait, let me just explain that “ask” thing real quick. You see, as humans we get to enjoy this thing called Bodily Autonomy, which basically means that our bodies belong to us and no one can touch or manipulate them without our consent. It’s the reason rape is a definite no-no, and also why I can’t harvest your organs to save the lives of people who need them, and let’s face it, who are probably a lot nicer than you are. Anyways, sometimes I ask my son for a bedtime kiss and he says “Ewwww! Nasty!” Just thought you’d enjoy hearing from someone else who occasionally thinks women are nasty… my 4 year old.

December Reflections, Day 1 – Sparkle

This year I’m participating in a photography/journaling activity, called December Reflections. This activity, created by Susannah Conway (seriously, go check her out, she’s fabulous), is intended to help you reflect on the past year and begin the process of choosing a word for the upcoming year. The activity itself is a list of 31 photography and writing prompts, one for each day of the month. I’ll be posting my photos on Instagram, with the #decemberreflections tag, as well as posting them here, accompanied by some writing.

My word for 2015 was Linger, and I do feel like keeping my focus on living more slowly, and with more enjoyment, was a lesson that I needed. The ability to stay with the good moments, to really ride them out, has been essential as I heal my heart.  I have not spent any time reflecting on 2015 as a whole, since the year seems to be consumed by the events of September, so I am glad for the opportunity to review my entire year. Additionally, I have spent no time whatsoever thinking about my word for 2016. Susannah Conway hosts another journaling activity called Find Your Word which is, as you have likely guessed, a little more targeted at the actual choosing of a word. Still, reflecting on where we have been often aids us in deciding where we would like to go. And with that…

December Reflections, Day One – Sparkle

Today, I went with a couple of coworkers/friends (I am fortunate enough to work someplace where there isn’t really a distinction between the two) out on a lunch break shopping trip. Each of us needed something to wear to our work holiday party, which is this Saturday. I hadn’t spent a lot of time planning a look for the party, but (ironically, considering I hadn’t yet seen the list of DR prompts) went in knowing that I wanted something sparkly, and I found it. A lovely, mermaid colored, sequined mini skirt, and the perfect top to go with it.

The thing is, I am not a sparkly dresser. I favor simple shapes, lots of layers, and comfort above all else. Why then the sudden sway towards sequins? I have a theory… It’s no secret that my year has ended rather poorly. Don’t get me wrong, things could be so much worse and I am more grateful than I ever knew I could be for the charmed life that I am still very lucky to live. However, the truth is that I don’t feel sparkly. I feel like old yoga pants. I feel like curling up on the couch and binge watching Harry Potter while pounding hot tea and eating dry cereal straight from the box. But I don’t want to feel like that anymore. I’ve mentioned previously that I am weary of the sadness that I seem to carry around with me, though I haven’t been able to shake it. Maybe I want to wear sequins because I hope that, somehow, dressing sparkly will make me sparkle again.

Even just for one night.

Sparkle on, friends.

 

Postpartum Lessons

When I was in my postpartum period, after my first pregnancy, I would regularly bemoan the usual postpartum symptoms. I could often be heard complaining of night sweats. Whining about having to wear a thick pad all the time – as if delivering the baby was not hard enough, now I had to walk around in a diaper? I bitched about not being able to take any stronger pain medicine than Tylenol, to ease the pain from engorgement. The point is – I complained.

Months later I would turn my complaining to my body – stretchmarks, a sagging tummy, weak hips that no longer supported the distance running that I have spent my life enjoying. I saw these new flaws as damage, the damage done to my body by carrying my son.

This postpartum experience has been similar, in respect to my own body. Engorgement, bleeding, night sweats. In the last week I have begun to notice a new postpartum symptom that I did not experience the first time around – blurred vision. I was this close to going to have my eyes checked and my lenses updated, when I remembered reading something about postpartum vision changes. Some quick online research and sure enough, there it was. Noticeably blurred vision is pretty common amongst postpartum women and is generally transient, lasting only about 3 months, through the time that is commonly referred to as the “4th Trimester”.

This new postpartum symptom unlocked something inside me. A realization of how wrong I was in the way that I viewed things the first time around. The “flaws” in my body, the annoying symptoms that I had to manage in the months following the birth of my son were nothing to complain about. The stretchmarks are art, much like the tattoos that are inked upon my skin – they tell a story. Every single one is a testimony of his growth, his becoming, and the part that my body played in his development and birth. My scarred and sagging tummy is evidence that I grew him well. The engorgement that I experienced in the beginning of our breastfeeding journey was to be celebrated, because it meant that my body was succeeding, if not excelling, at creating the food that would sustain him. The bleeding was my body’s way of preparing my reproductive system for continued good health. It was paving the way for me to bear more children. My body is a machine. A beautiful machine, and one that I did not fully appreciate until now.

This time, the postpartum symptoms have been hard. Truly hard. You see, the most important thing that I have learned about postpartum life and appreciating my postpartum body is that what really mattered all along – my child. My son was, and is still, in my arms. I nursed him. I nurtured him. I have watched him grow into the vibrant little boy that he is today. My body had complaints, but they were nothing, because he is here.  I would take a million stretchmarks and live through engorgement and bleeding that lasted a lifetime, if it meant that Clara could be here, hale and healthy. The way we always hoped that she would be.

Clara is not here, though. She could not be here because her body was disabled in a way that made her incompatible with life outside of my body. My body, the beautifully scarred and sagging machine. This time, the postpartum symptoms are a painful reminder that she was here, and now she is gone. They wane, thankfully, as time gets on, and I know someday they will stop. The scars on my heart will remain, though, much like the ones on my beautiful, sagging tummy. They will remind me of yet another lesson that Clara has taught me – Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. And always remember what really matters in life.