Hope’s Birth: Early Labor

January 3, 2016 at 10:46 pm

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust. -Psalms 91:4

With each of my births it has gotten harder and harder to write about the experience. A birth carries with it so much depth, so many layers of emotion. I feel like human language doesn’t have the capacity to truly encompass or articulate the profundity of it all. At the same time, I think that writing is an important way to process intense experiences, and I value having a record of important events. So, despite the weakness of the written word, I am sitting here with my baby strapped to my chest and my birthing music playing in the background with the intent of documenting my fifth venture into giving life.

I was afraid to let her come out. Having this baby inside of me had been such a peaceful journey. As my belly grew, my mental health steadily improved. I felt so stable. I felt so safe. But giving birth was going to create a lot of inevitable upheaval. And I was afraid of what was going to happen to me. Would I plunge into darkness again? Would my stable, happy world crumble to pieces as it had more than once before? Would I be able to give my baby the love she deserved?

In the weeks leading up to the birth, I spent a lot of time processing those fears. And I knew that those fears could potentially interfere with labor progress if I didn’t figure out how to let them go. When I woke up early in the morning on Christmas Eve with contractions, I felt a bit of panic. And when I used the bathroom and noticed the blood, I knew I had to finally come to peace with letting this baby come out of my body. My husband comforted me for a bit, and then I told him to get some sleep. I texted several friends and family members about the bloody show and mild early labor contractions. Then I sat in the early-morning glow of the Christmas tree and meditated.

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Six Things for Sunday: Speedy Edition

December 14, 2015 at 8:47 am

It’s super late, and I should be going to bed, but I just wanted to post a quick update. Like speed-walking, but since I’m walking  sl-ow-ly these days, it’s speed-blogging instead. ;-) Here are this week’s “Six Things for Sunday”…

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Stop Before You Say “Pop” (and Other Tips for Conversing with Pregnant Women)

November 22, 2015 at 2:47 am

I don’t doubt that the Internet is full of posts like this. I haven’t checked. But apparently humankind is in need of more reminders, so I’m going to put another post out there.

Everywhere I go, people seem to feel compelled to say things. I’m not necessarily surprised, but it is still somewhat mind-boggling to me what people feel comfortable saying to pregnant women. Some of my favorite courses in college were linguistics-based, and I’m pretty sure I remember learning that dogs, babies, and pregnant women change the boundaries of human interaction. There was a fancy linguistics term for this phenomenon, but it escapes me at the moment. (If you happen to know what I’m talking about, I would adore it if you could remind me of this fancy linguistic term.) Basically, if you happen to be pregnant, with a baby, or with a dog, people will be more likely than normal to speak to you (or touch you/your baby/dog). People let down their guard more when they’re around pregnant women, dogs, and babies. I’ve especially noticed this while wearing my babies.

Sometimes these pregnancy interactions are pleasant. Older women often tell me about their daughters who are due to deliver or recently delivered. Men often offer to help me carry things. I don’t mind these kinds of interactions at all. But some of my day-to-day interactions leave me feeling, well… HUGE… or even more huge than I already feel.

Dearest Humans, I love you. You aren’t trying to be insensitive. I get that. But let me just offer a few suggestions that will make all the pregnant women you encounter so very appreciative.

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Light Exposure in Pregnancy

November 7, 2015 at 4:48 am

I don’t have a lot of tasks in my morning routine. Get up. Use the bathroom. Drink water. Go into the backyard. Sit in the sunlight. The rest of the morning varies from day to day, but these first five items happen almost without fail.

Some time in the last few weeks, as I basked in the mercifully-cooler-November morning AZ sunshine, with my shirt pulled up above my belly as usual to maximize the skin exposure for vitamin d, I started thinking about how easily light travels through the skin. This is a fact most children given a flashlight are delighted to discover. Earlier today, one of my kids shouted, “Look, Mom, my finger is red,” holding a light behind her fingertip. I’ve noticed that the baby in my womb, if she hadn’t been “awake” yet, usually wakes up and starts wiggling and kicking once I’m outside with my belly in the sun. So I’ve been wondering… what, if any, effect does my daily sun routine have on my baby?

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Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 8th Edition

June 21, 2015 at 12:24 am

Several weeks later, I am finally getting around to posting this. I’ve now completed Kundalini Yoga Teacher training! We graduated the first Sunday in June, but I will have to wait awhile for my certificate to arrive. I sort of can’t believe the past five months really happened. Hallelujah we made it!

I loved an exchange that happened between our instructor, Sevak, and one of my classmates our second-to-last weekend. Sevak had been talking about how rare a “true kundalini rising” experience is. One of my classmates was seeking clarification. His response to her was: “Do you have any idea how rare you are?” Tears began falling down her face. She truly is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever had the privilege to meet. I think what I will miss the most is the opportunity to spend every other weekend with a group of such pure, genuine, kind, spiritually sensitive, compassionate, beautiful souls. Truly, these people are the cream of the crop.

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Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 7th Edition

May 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I’ve now completed seven full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and sixteen of my twenty required yoga classes. I’m about halfway through my take-home essay exam, hoping to do one question a day to finish before the May 24 deadline. In addition, I still need to create two yoga course curricula. One is for beginners, and I think I’ll do a pregnancy yoga curriculum for the other. I got the Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Manual last week, so it should be really helpful!

IMG_20150502_162014570Between teacher training weekends, on May 2, I was able to attend a gong workshop with Sevak Singh. In Kundalini Yoga, we use the gong quite a lot. It is said that the sound of the gong is like the sound of creation. The gong will always neutralize the mind and force it to a place a stillness. For this reason it is a very powerful tool for deep relaxation. During the workshop we were able to play five different symphonic gongs of varying sizes. And… now I want one. A big one. :-) Gong can kind of be an acquired taste. I wasn’t sure I liked it the first time I heard a gong, but now I love it. If you’ve never heard a gong played well, Don Conreaux has some good recordings. And Khushbir’s video is good too. Also, the gong sounds a lot like the planet Jupiter. Do you know what Jupiter means? Dyeu-peter=“god the father.” Interesting, no?

On Saturday at teacher training we had four students present their practicums. So that basically translated to four complete yoga classes in one day. Whew! It was kind of exhausting, but I love seeing my classmates teach. It’s a joy. We also talked about teaching specialized groups… corporate settings, pregnant women, children, teenagers, addiction recovery groups, elderly, etc. And we discussed some ethical considerations and the various Kundalini and yoga organizations: IKYTA, 3HO, KRI, Library of Teachings, Yoga Alliance, etc.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, Practicum Edition

April 30, 2015 at 7:07 am

I’ve now completed six full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and nine of my twenty yoga classes. Our certification packages are due May 24, and we’re scheduled to graduate on June 7. So basically I will be spending all of May either in yoga classes or writing essays for our final exam questions. I seriously feel like I’m in college again, cramming at the end of a semester. Good thing I’m a writer, so essays are my thing. Deep breaths (through the nose, of course). I can do this!

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The highlight of last weekend was teaching my practicum! I knew I wanted to sign up for one of the first slots, and I knew I wanted it to be early in the day. I was the third student to present, and the first person on Sunday morning. Before I go into detail about the practicum, here are some highlights from my class notes the rest of the weekend.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 3rd Edition

March 18, 2015 at 3:45 am

I’ve now completed three full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and thirty days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. This stuff is tough! I had to laugh at the end of our weekend training while we watched a Yogi Bhajan video. He said (about the Warrior Exercise he was about to teach):

I’m not willing to let you misunderstand this. If we start doing it, we’re going to reach a stage called ‘The Twilight Zone,” and then there’ll be humongous pain; pain so much that you do not know. . . . Set yourself, folks. You asked for it. I forgive myself and wash my hands of it.

It reminded me of something I had read online in which a critic of Kundalini Yoga called its practices masochistic. Sometimes it can feel like torture, to be honest. But, as we often talk about in class, the practice of Kundalini Yoga is about training your mind-body to serve your spirit, and if you can command your mind and body to endure a difficult yoga exercise, it becomes easier and easier to command your mind and body to endure anything. It’s like a fire-drill.

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Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 2nd Edition

March 11, 2015 at 4:57 am

I’ve now completed two full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and twenty-three days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. There is so much I could say, but I think for the sake of time I will just share snip-its of my class notes in bullet-point form.

See “Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 1st Edition” HERE.

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February 28, 2015 (with Gurumeher Singh)

  • Purpose of yoga= to become one with the infinite.
    • yoga= union, yoke
  • Purpose of yoga= to control the thought waves of the mind.
  • When not in a state of yoga, we identify with our thoughts, reactions, and habitual patterns: “I am angry.”
  • Yoga is potty training your mind
    • need a place to “dump”
    • once a day go to your dumping station (yoga/meditation)

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 1st Edition

March 10, 2015 at 5:45 am

I’ve now completed two full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and twenty-two days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. There is so much I could say, but I think for the sake of time I will just share snip-its of my class notes in bullet-point form.

February 14, 2015

  • Don’t say “I hope that _____ will happen,” instead say “I trust that _____ will happen.”
  • When life feels too big, call on your infinity; make yourself bigger than the problem.
  • Yogi Bhajan said… smile at your mistakes because you have opened up a new neural pathway in the brain.
  • There are four cycles of Kundalini at the throat chakra… “The most important power of a person is the spoken word, both what you speak and how you speak. Ugly words are effective, and praises are effective” (from our teacher training manual).
  • For the first 40 days after birth, an infant should stay within nine feet of its mother (within the protection and peace of mother’s aura). It takes three years for the child to build an independent aura. (<—I think I could write an entire blogpost on this alone.)
  • I love all the plants at Yoga Phoenix!

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Who do you think you are? (Part 2)

February 12, 2015 at 3:04 am

Last December, a friend of mine extended an invitation. She wanted to know if I would come speak at a church women’s dinner meeting in February. On February 3, I gave my speech. Here is part two…

You can read Part One HERE.

When Jehovah introduced Himself to Moses, of all the hundreds of names He could have chosen, the name He chose was: I AM. Peter taught, “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The name of Christ not only saves us from our sins but it can also save us from our sorrows and heartaches, if we do not use it in vain. How are you using the name of Christ? Would The Great I Am approve of the words you are using with His name?

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Healthy Curves

October 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

A year ago, I had lost so much weight that all of my clothes were baggy and falling off of me. My breasts were virtually non-existent. People asked me, “Are you eating?” I had lost my appetite completely. Nothing tasted good to me. Even foods I had always loved. But I ate anyway. I forced myself to eat because I knew I had to. I felt like I ate all day every day. But it didn’t do any good. I just kept dropping pounds. I’ve always been “skinny,” but this was a new extreme low.

Now people are asking, “Are you pregnant?” I’ve gone from one extreme to the other. I don’t blame them. I have gained weight. A considerable amount since my lowest point last year. I have curves. My pant size has moved into the double-digits. My belly is popping out in a suspicious way.

But I’m not pregnant.

I have immediate family members who have experienced similar weight-gain while taking meds like mine. One of them believes the meds permanently altered his body chemistry. Not that long ago he was very overweight, and it has taken extreme measures for him to slim down to where he is today. As I watched the number on the scale getting higher and higher and the clothes in my closet getting tighter and tighter, I got nervous. I knew the pattern my family members had experienced. Was I headed in that direction too?

Seers of Beauty

August 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm

A couple of nights ago, my 10-year-old daughter asked me at bedtime:

“Do you think you’re beautiful?”

Now that was a tough question to answer. Yesterday, I talked with a friend on the phone about it. She said, “Why would you even hesitate?” Maybe I was making the moment a bigger-deal than it needed to be, but it really felt like such a complex question that required a thoughtful answer. I’m not the only one who thinks that’s a tough question to answer, right? It was like this magical teaching moment, and I didn’t want to get it wrong and teach her the wrong thing, but I also wanted to be honest.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that question since.

Retreat

July 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

My youngest woke me up at around 4:00 a.m. this morning. As I lay there after getting her back to sleep, unable to drift back to sleep myself, there was a near-constant nudging telling me to get out of bed and write. I kept asking, “What should I write about?” I got out of bed, still not really sure what it was I was going to write.

A couple of weekends ago, I attended a yoga/meditation retreat taught by my soul sister, Felice Austin. It was a life-changing weekend. It’s hard for me to even describe or comprehend everything that happened inside of me over the course of those three days. But I feel nudged to share a bit about three of the powerful experiences I had that weekend.

The Re-birth

On Saturday, Felice guided us in a rebirthing meditation. Knowing that I was conceived as the sixth child in an unhappy, stressful marriage and baked for nine months in that negative environment, I went into this meditation with some trepidation. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I knew I didn’t want to relive my original gestation experience or find out just how painful it might have been. As it turns out, this rebirthing meditation had very little to do with how we were actually born and everything to do with transformation.

This experience really was transformational for me. I was reborn. I was healed. It was perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to pure ecstasy.  It’s hard for me to describe what happened in a way that truly conveys its power. What happened was within the realm of my subconscious, but it was also more real than many of the physical experiences I’ve participated in. I experienced a new gestation. I was birthed and attended by women who love me, embraced in tenderness, re-took my first breath in euphoria.

Afterward, Felice told us that part of the meditation was to get up and talk to each other. I turned to Wendy who was the closest person to where I was and said, “Can I hug you?” We didn’t talk. We just held each other, and I sobbed. Then Sheridan came over to us and wrapped her arms around us. She doula-ed me in her gentle, perfect way… coaxing the wailing out of me in a massive release. And I sobbed and sobbed with these two beautiful women holding space for me and filling me with their love and light. I will never forget it.

Meditation as Medicine

May 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Last October, my friend Felice started teaching meditation webinars. I had been battling anxiety/depression for months. Felice had been trying to get me meditating for years. I figured, “Hey, it couldn’t hurt to try.” The week I started meditating with her was the week I started to feel like myself again. Coincidence? Perhaps. A lot of things had shifted in my life at that time. But the more I learn about meditation, the more I want to meditate.

Last week a reader recommended the book Meditation as Medicineby Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., when I wrote about my panic attack. I checked it out from my local library and started reading it yesterday. I wish I could just sit and read this book all day. I love the author’s writing/teaching style.

I’ve been learning a lot lately about the healing power of sound (see here and here).  So I’ve been seeing the world through that lens, frequently asking myself, “What sounds am I hearing? Do they feel good to me?” Interestingly enough, yesterday in the car, my daughter said (completely out of the blue), “This song sounds evil.” I changed the station!

I particularly like this quote from the preface of Healing at the Speed of Sound:

“When we speak of being of ‘sound mind and body,’ we seldom realize that sound itself is the root of being. That sound itself is the route to acquire those things we want so much, a sound mind and body.”

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