The Empty Swing

September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

Sometimes you just need another witness. Another voice saying, “Yes, this is true. You’re not crazy.”

Today I’m deeply grateful to my friend Amber for giving me another witness.

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For six years I have known about a little boy who has communicated in a multitude of ways that he is a part of our family, though not yet in the flesh. Just to give you a little more background, let me share a few of the experiences I have had with him.

When Someone is Missing

August 25, 2017 at 11:08 pm

My husband really dislikes the dreaded words that I sometimes say:

“I keep looking around for the other kid.”

He usually promptly responds with something like, “They’re all here.”

Sometimes it feels like there really is an invisible child among us, but when I turn to include the other kid in my head count, no one is there… at least no one I can see with my physical eyes. Occasionally, I even get a bit panicked in that split second between looking for the missing kid and realizing… no, I really only have five. After I gave birth to my 5th baby, the feeling mostly went away. The “invisible other kid” wasn’t around so much. But for the past couple of weeks, the feeling has been almost constant. It’s actually becoming kind of oppressive.

Invisible child

Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

I want to be a yoga teacher when I grow up.

February 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

When we fold our hands in prayer,
God opens His arms and gives us a hug.
Life is fulfilled with this union.
That is yoga.
-Yogi Bhajan

About three months ago I wrote a post I titled “Now what?” In it I expressed confusion about where my life was heading:

It won’t be long until all my children will be in school. I feel like I’m soon to be laid-off from my day job. What am I supposed to do now? Write more books? Get a job? Put my doula training to work? Volunteer in the community? Train in midwifery? Become a foster parent? Fight against modern day slavery/trafficking? I have no idea.

IMG_0946My friend, Felice, introduced me to Kundalini Yoga and Meditation several years ago. She attended yoga teacher training while we were writing our book, The Gift of Giving Life (in which she wrote a whole chapter about meditation). Since then she has written more books about Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, and she has taught thousands of students around the country and world, including me. But I was resistant. Boy was I resistant. And never in the years she urged me to keep up my yoga and meditation practice did I ever have a desire to attend a yoga teacher training myself.

On Drinking Tiger Vomit

February 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

“It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)

A little over a week ago, I attended a three-day therapeutic guided imagery training workshop. It was one of those life-changing experiences… where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning exactly what you are supposed to be learning. Before I tell you about some of my imagery experiences, let me answer a question that may be on some of your minds: what is guided imagery?

In brief, as a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, I can help another person come into a relaxed and altered state where we can use the mind/imagination to visualize or imagine a limitless variety of experiences and possibilities and find comfort and healing. Guided imagery isn’t just a sort of woo-woo feel-good hippy trip. It is shown through scientific research to be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of physical and emotional difficulties. The Journal of Instructional Psychology explains:

Guided imagery is a flexible intervention whose efficacy has been indicated through a large body of research over many decades in counseling and allied fields. It has earned the right to be considered a research-based approach to helping. (Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of Its History and Efficacy Research)

For instance, in a recent pilot study published in Holistic Nursing Practice looking at the effect of guided imagery on stress levels of hospitalized pregnant women, the results were promising:

Now what?

November 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’ve been pregnant or nursing and caring for my children full-time for more than a decade. I’ve been blogging about pregnancy, birth, and mothering for over seven of those years. As a new mom, I had been neglecting to meet my own needs for intellectual growth and fulfillment, but my blog gave me that outlet. From 2009 until 2011 I wrote a book with four co-authors about spirituality and birth. Birth has been my passion (obsession?) for most of my adult life thus far.

But I don’t expect I will ever give birth or breastfeed again (so many mixed feelings about that one). My “baby” is nearly four years old. And I can feel my brain pulling away from birth. I still yearn for all women to have empowering and beautiful birth experiences, but my mind no longer buzzes with birthy topics and blogpost ideas.

Now what?

crossroadImage Source

Light in the Mourning

February 18, 2014 at 5:48 pm

1687_10152707819600564_468996024_nThe following is a guest post from my friend Brittney. I met Brittney at my DONA doula training back in 2009. She and I will be collaborating on a new book project—Light in the Mourning—a book for mothers grieving pregnancy losses. I was inspired to create this book last year, but the pieces weren’t falling into place until Brittney offered to help. I’m so grateful she did. I look forward to working with Brittney and reading your stories. 

  Light in the Mourning
By Brittney Walker

I’m sad to say we are latecomers to the Noelle Pikus-Pace fan club. It’s nothing personal. Before the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics I couldn’t have named a single athlete that competed there. Since the Olympics traditionally air during school hours, the boys and I have always missed out. So this, our first year homeschooling, I printed an awesome educational packet I found online and we’ve homeschooled the heck out of the winter Olympics. That means all of us, watching almost every night from 7 to 10:30 pm.

My boys invested like I’d never imagined. They’ve learned all they can about Sochi, the sports, the athletes and the countries they represent. Their excitement is contagious and I quickly joined them in Olympic fandom.

One of those first nights we saw that AT&T commercial where Noelle Pikus-Pace wakes up before her family to work out. Then she feeds the kids breakfast, takes them to school and plays soccer mom until her husband picks up the kids so she can go train late into the night. There were tears in my eyes by the end of the commercial. So I looked her up.

I never considered that some of these athletes were juggling parenthood with Olympic training. This still blows my mind. I can’t fathom the kind of commitment and sacrifice it would take to be Mom and manage to keep up with (and even crush) the competition, many of whom have nothing to worry about but themselves.

Not Done

September 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

My friend, Katie, wrote a post for our book blog on Monday called “Your family is complete.” In it she shares how she came to know on a deep and spiritual level that her family was complete after the birth of her sixth child. Discussions on our book’s fb page and my Birth Faith facebook page have had me pondering the subject quite a lot.

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on this subject numerous times. I even included ya’ll in many of those ponderings…

  • “Though I would certainly not refuse any child that came to me, I feel as though it would be a supreme act of selfishness (and craziness) for me to willfully invite any more children into my home.”  (Done?)
  • “As I’ve pondered it, I’ve come to peace with either path.  I feel OK with being done.  And I feel OK with not being done.” (Done? Revisited)
  • “Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.” (Surrender, part 5)
  • “For someone who has spent the last decade of my life passionate about birth and motherhood and babies, it seems so strange that… at present… I have to confess…  Seeing pregnant women makes me feel anxious, seeing babies makes me feel anxious, thinking about ever being pregnant again or having another baby makes me feel horrified.” (Fiery Furnace)
  • “After a while she told me she wanted to introduce me to someone. Another spirit appeared. This spirit is someone I’ve often believed to exist, but I have never known for certain. It was my unborn son. I have come to know him much better over the course of the past month, to understand more about who he is and why he will be a blessing to my family (and the world).” (Retreat)

What a ride! And the ride’s not over yet! Regardless of what goes on inside of me as I ponder this question, I still have a husband with his own strong opinions on the subject. And I’m not about to coerce him into anything. But I can say for myself that I feel confident that my family is not “complete” yet.

Book Giveaway: The Memory Catcher

April 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm

This giveaway is now closed. Stay tuned!

I just finished reading Sarah Hinze’s remarkable memoir The Memory Catcher. I want to give copies of this book to everyone I know. Seriously. Not only has Sarah’s life story been full of miracles and powerful events, but her message and mission are near and dear to my heart, as many of you already know.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer researcher in dear-death studies, hospice care, and the grief and dying process and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Sarah became friends with Elizabeth toward the end of Elizabeth’s beautiful life. Of Sarah’s work, Elizabeth said:

For years I have taught that we come from the same Source at birth and we return to the Source at death. The Source is God, who has many names. Earth experience is for our growth and spiritual development. When we have learned and taught what we came to earth for, we graduate–death is graduation.

We have learned much about life after death. Sarah Hinze leads us into the next great area of research–the study of where we come from.

I have three extra copies of The Memory Catcher here in my home, and I have a feeling they’re meant to go to some of you. If you’d like a copy, please enter this giveaway in one or more of the following ways:

Rescue Mission

March 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Last week I wrote:

I have gone back and forth in my head about whether to share that dream publicly. I’m still not certain. But I think I was given that dream because it contains a message not just for me but for all women. And I feel it is my responsibility to share that message. Reading Sarah Hinze’s book today, I felt over and over… it’s time to tell the world what you saw. Hopefully I’ll muster the courage soon.

So I got a big kick in the pants today. Get over to your computer and write about your dream. I haven’t felt ready yet, and I’m still nervous about it. I’m nervous, in part, because I suspect that what I’m about to share will not rest well with some people. I suppose I’m willing to accept that risk.

In January of 2012, I had a dream. Occasionally God speaks to me in dreams. I feel that this was one of those divine messages. Here’s what I saw…

I was walking with someone. I don’t know who it was. The road we were walking down looked like a ghost town. Dark, abandoned buildings. Dirty. Trash everywhere. But we were the only people walking down a deserted road. Eventually, we went over to the gutter on the side of the road, and I picked something up. At first I thought it was just a piece of garbage. But then, as I looked closer, it seemed to transform in my hand. It was a baby!  A tiny baby… only an inch or two or three. It fit in the palm of my hand, and it was alive.

Coming From the Light

March 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm

“Your babies do not want another mother.” -from a 5-year-old’s near-death experience

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading a book by AZ author, Sarah Hinze. She has many books, but this is the only one I was able to get from the library. It’s called Coming From the Light: Spiritual Accounts of Life Before Life

I became aware of Sarah several years ago (while we were in the process of writing our book) when I stumbled upon her website. We were hoping to include more about pre-birth encounters in our book, but we were lucky to include just a few stories. I am hopeful that I will have the privilege of meeting Sarah sometime soon. (She will be speaking at the AZ Holistic Living Conference this month.)

As I have been reading her book, I have been flooded with so much warmth and light. The stories of not-yet-born children making appearances in visions and dreams have so touched my heart. As you may know, I have experienced several of these pre-birth encounters with my own children. The most profound of those experiences were with my fourth child. I recounted them in my birth account two years ago. I’ll share an excerpt here:

Four centimeters

May 15, 2012 at 12:25 am

For months I had been writing things like this in my journal…

“Right now I just feel so drained. I feel like I give and give and give until there’s nothing left.”

“I am exhausted. I want to sleep for two weeks. I so need a break.”

“I am so run down, so overwhelmed, so out of reserves. But what can I do except just keep swimming?”

“I need a break. Big time. So much.”

Little red flags were waving in front of my face for quite some time. And then Mama Birth posted this:

I think that selflessness and sacrifice are beautiful things- and I think they can purify us and teach us. But I also know now that a woman needs balance. . . . Babies need a mother who takes care of herself and the other people she loves and who herself is nurtured in her relationships.

And it was another little red flag, another messenger saying, “Girl, you need help. You need a break. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” (Thank you, Sarah). But, unfortunately, those little red flags just kept on waving, and I just kept on running myself into the ground. I could feel myself sliding into depression, and it scared me. I have been in that dark place before, and I did not want to visit it again. Looking back, I can say that the damage was already done. A body chronically depleted of sleep and sapped of vital nutrients through chronic stress is going to have a very difficult time functioning, let alone functioning cheerfully.

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