Starting from Now

start

It's been a while since I've written. You know when you intend to do something and you keep putting it off and putting it off until you finally feel like it's been too long anyway so why bother? Well, that's kind of where I've been.

And yes, life's been full so I've been busy. But that's no excuse. I've thought about writing hundreds of times. I've started posts and even finished several and never published them. For whatever reason—fear, doubt, inertia, distractions, downright laziness—it hasn't happened.

Here's my list of blog ideas that have been collecting in my phone for years:

  1. Resilience
  2. Crybaby
  3. When things fall apart
  4. Power of belief in healing
  5. Comparing ourselves
  6. Life is messy
  7. Betty and Veronica
  8. We're nicer in public (sometimes)
  9. Kickboxing and birth
  10. It's a matter of perspective—poop smell
  11. We drove another childless couple away
  12. How we talk to our kids I'd never talk to anyone else
  13. My depression as a mom
  14. No one prepares you for the loneliness
  15. 20 feet from stardom
  16. Crying baby subway ads—what makes people so angry?

I see some good ideas. Most of them I remember exactly what I wanted to say. Others, not so much.

My biggest hurdle, and I know I'm not alone in this, is that I'm afraid no one wants to hear what I have to say and that what I'm saying has no value. Or that others have said it better than I ever could. Recently, Elizabeth Gilbert put a photo on her Facebook page with a quote: Your Fear is the Most Boring Thing About You.

LG quotepic

She goes on to say that it only has one thing to say and that's STOP! Stop trying, stop moving, stop growing and stay safe.

I like safety. I've historically enjoying being in the background in a supporting role and cheering people on. It's why I love the work that I do: from helping pregnant women get in touch with their strengths; to helping moms with newborn babies navigate the tricky terrain of the postpartum period; and finally, to coaching women who have a deep desire to live a life with intention and meaning.

I've also always been drawn to leadership—teaching, nurturing, inspiring.

I get to witness transformation. And I am honored to do this.

So, when I'm crippled by fear, I have a real motivation to push through; to model for my clients and my family that I won't give up. It's not always pretty or easy. Sometimes it's pretty awful.

But each time you push through a fear, you learn that you can do that thing, right?

I'm sharing this list with the hope that by putting it out there I'll have some accountability. With you as my witnesses, I can get to my writing.

I'd love to hear which topics pique your interest. And also, what helps you when you're stuck? Please share your comments below. And thanks for reading!

Failure is (Not) My Friend

failure is my friendYears ago, when my husband and I had our yoga center, we sold t-shirts with some original aphorisms—things like “there’s no I in yoga”, “no peaks without valleys” and, by far the most popular one, “failure is my friend”. Jonathan could wear that one proudly but me, not so much. It’s not that I don’t agree with the sentiment. When we can befriend failure, we can learn from it and we’re not so afraid of it. But since I’ve become a parent, this feeling of failure looms large. And I’m really not friends with it at all.

Failure as a learning opportunity makes sense—I’m open to exploring what led to failure, what things I could have done differently, and what other choices I had. I get that making mistakes happens all the time and that I’m not actually perfect. But on some level I still think I should be a perfect mom. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

At my self-care workshop for moms last summer failure came up a lot. Pretty much every woman shared the experience that they had so many responsibilities, so many balls in the air—kids, partnerships, work, home, friendships, creative pursuits, etc—but that they put so much pressure on themselves that they felt like they were failing at all of them.

These were moms who I know are loving, attentive, responsive parents who feel like failures. Because they messed up, because they lost their temper and yelled, because they forgot about their kid’s school event, because they struggle with feeling angry or resentful of their kid or their partner, because they aren’t living up to the perfect image they have of the kind of mom they want to be.

I spent most of yesterday morning feeling like a huge failure as a mom (and as a person) because I lost my temper and yelled at my daughter to get her socks on since we were late for school. My fear of failure keeps me from writing this blog and from growing my business. It feels safer on some level to stay small and invisible. But really, small and invisible isn’t how I want my kids to see me either. I want them to see me as imperfect and loving myself anyway.

When I fail as a parent I do sometimes wallow in it for a while. I can carry around a pretty sick, guilty feeling for hours. But then I try to use it as an opportunity to teach my kids about failure—that if we befriend failure we’ll grow and learn and move on without getting stuck in feeling like we’re not allowed to fail.

I’m working on my relationship with failure. I don’t want to marry it. I’m frankly much more interested in cultivating my relationship with my finances. But if I truly believe that failure is my friend I can learn from those moments—not in a “I hate myself and I better not ever do that again because I’m such a terrible mom and my kids are going to be ruined by my terrible behavior” way, but rather by actually owning it, apologizing for it, and moving on without guilt. That’s what I want my kids to see—not my self-flagellation but my self-acceptance even when I fail. So failure will never by my best friend, but I can accept that it’ll come around once in a while. And I’ll do my best to say hello and see what it has to teach me rather than run away or avoid it.

That takes practice—and I’m sure I fail at that a lot of the time! Here are some tips for working through that feeling of failure as a parent:

1. Awareness—actually noticing the feeling of failure and the thoughts that go along with it. What are you saying to yourself about yourself?

2. Acknowledge/own it to yourself and your kids if necessary.

3. Apologize and admit to making a mistake—shows your kid you don’t need to be perfect in their eyes, thus encouraging them to be unafraid to fail.

4. Allow your kid to have feelings around it and share them with you—they might have a good reason for feeling angry or disappointed. You listening to them shows them it’s ok to have the feelings.

5. Release the guilty feelings and move on—this might be the hardest part but it might happen just from doing the first 4 steps. Maybe it takes some journaling, prayer, exercise, therapy or a warm bath!

6. Practice self-forgiveness—the key word here is practice. The more we practice, the more we can ultimately feel and live it.

How do you handle failure?

10 Things I Love About Being a Mom

being a mom 10 Things I Love About Being a Mom.

Last week my daughter turned 8. I have some lovely friends who always make a point of congratulating me on my kids’ birthdays. It’s such a sweet way to be recognized. So, in celebration of my 8th anniversary of becoming a mom, I’ve put together a list of the things I love about being a mom.

This is not to say that it’s always sunshine and rainbows. Of course I’ve struggled. But that struggle has made me who I am. And had helped me to learn and grow. And since I have long had the habit of sharing the things that are hard or going wrong, I wanted to take a moment to actually see for myself and show others the things that are actually great.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but some of the things I love most. There are so many big and little things that matter.

1. Snuggles! There’s nothing like getting hugs and physical loving touch. It increases oxytocin—the hormone of relaxation, well-being and love—and it feels great to be held by someone cuddly. Waking up to a snuggly kid is one of the best feelings in the world!

2. Unconditional love—they see me at my worst: physically, emotionally, and fashionally. And yet they still love me for who I am. Somehow they see me as the most beautiful, smart, capable woman in the world (for now at least—we’ll see what happens when they’re teenagers!) and I try to see myself in their eyes and accept myself for who I am.

being a mom

3. Creativity. I have friends who are artists and I never thought that was my thing. But having kids has allowed me to get more comfortable and have more fun making stuff. One of my favorite things about having unexpected down time at home (like snow days) is getting out the art supplies and unleashing our creative juices. I love to watch them make their own art and join them in the process.

4. They are my mirror. I thought I knew myself pretty well before I had kids. I was 37 when my daughter was born. I was introspective, had been to therapy, was interested in self-awareness and self improvement. But boy has motherhood really shown me who I am. Not only do they parrot the things that I say but being a mom has brought emotions to the surface that I never knew existed. Not only intense love but intense rage and fear and worry too. While I haven’t always enjoyed revealing parts of myself that aren’t so lovely, I’m glad to have gotten to know those parts so that I can be honest about who I am—an imperfect human, doing the best I can.

being a mom

5. Being a better person. Similar to the one above, because they are my mirror, I have to really pay attention to how I’m behaving, what I’m saying, who I am, because they learn from it all—including the appropriate use of swear words! I’ll never forget the time my then 4 year old daughter said to a man who’d just pulled a crab out of the Hudson river, “what the fuck is that?” While I was shocked and dismayed and worried about what they would think, I was also proud that she’d at least used it properly. I still curse a fair amount, but I am more conscious about how I talk about the world. I want them to see us as all connected to each other and to recognize that we have a choice in how we relate to the world. I try to choose the positive outlook as much as I can and to show my gratitude for what we have and who we are.

6. Seeing my husband as a dad and having him as a co-parent. Admittedly, Jonathan was a reluctant dad. He’s written about it here. But when I got pregnant with my daughter, he embraced the process and was so excited about birth and parenting. We talked a lot about what kind of parents we wanted to be, we read lots of books and we still talk endlessly about it. We truly work together to do the best that we can.

being a mom

7. Witnessing their relationships with friends and family. Seeing my kids find love and connection with the other people in our lives is amazing. They are able to be themselves in many different contexts and to feel loved by lots of different people. Watching them come into their own is a beautiful thing.

fitzcousinsgordoncousins

8. Self-confidence. I know myself better, I know what I want out of life and I know how to take care of my kids. I know for the most part what’s best. Well, that’s not totally true, but I know that even if I make a choice that isn’t the best that I can change my mind and keep working on it.

being a mom

9. Watching them play. This article in the Huffington Post talked about the thing college athletes liked to hear most from their parents was “I love to watch you play”. Until I read that article I didn’t say that much, but I know I feel it constantly. Watching the joy that comes from playing, singing, dancing, reading, jumping, makes me swell with love. And now I use those words to tell my kids that.

10. Silliness! I'm a big fan of not taking myself too seriously and being able to laugh at myself. I'm sure I will be terribly embarrassing when my kids are teens, but for now, they love it when I get silly with them. We laugh, we dance, we play. It is fun!

I wrote this as a reminder to myself—on those days when it’s hard to be a mom, when I feel exhausted and overwhelmed and really unsure about what’s right. Those days do come! And when they do, I will reread this to connect back into what I really love about being a mom.

What do you love about being a mom?

Stiram Sukham Asanam

 

ImageI’ve been thinking a lot about the balance of effort and surrender in life these days. In my yoga teacher training we studied the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the one that has stuck with me all these years later is Stiram Sukham Asanam which loosely translates to the following phrases: the asana must be steady and sweet, or stable and joyful, or a balance of effort and surrender.

 

The effort part I get. It’s doing the things we have to do all day—getting up and dressed, making food, feeding the family, going to work/school, exercising, grocery shopping, more cooking, talking, emailing, writing. It’s concrete. You can make a list of all the effort we have to go through each day and can see the accomplishments of a day.

 

Surrender is the trickier part. It’s the thing that goes along underneath all of the effort. It’s what can make the effort feel more or less effortful (exhausting!). There are these moments in life (or maybe each day) where we don’t notice the clock, where we are less in doing mode and more in being mode. It feels more relaxed and calm. That’s the surrender part—the letting go of outcome, the trusting that even though we can’t completely control what’s happening, we will be ok.

 

As a childbirth educator it’s the thing I’m trying to impart the most to my students—birth is a balance of effort and surrender. There’s the huge effort of coping with labor and getting the baby out. And in the midst of this, somehow letting go at the same time. Surrendering to the labor, to the process. But how?

 

One way to be more conscious about surrendering is through practice and developing awareness.

 

I encourage my students to practice whenever they can—not only in class. We have opportunities to practice letting go all the time!

 

Here’s an example: you’re on the subway commuting to work, and the train stops, and you’re already late because your alarm didn’t go off, and you have a really important presentation first thing. Is your heart racing already? Mine is just thinking about it! The effort has already happened—getting up, dressed, fed and to the subway. Now that the train is not running, it’s out of your control. Yikes!

 

Now, eventually, the train will start moving, you will probably make it to work, you will probably get to your meeting and do your presentation.

 

But what happens in between, while you’re on that train? Do you start freaking out? Sweating, gritting your teeth, going into catastrophic thinking mode (I’m going to miss my meeting, I’ll lose my job, I won’t be able to pay rent this month, I’ll die!) Ai yi yi!

 

It feels that serious in your body and your mind because the lizard part of your brain that’s being triggered in this moment doesn’t know the difference between being stalked by a saber-toothed tiger and being late for work.

 

It doesn’t know the difference between being a life-threatening situation and getting your kid to school on time.

 

For me it’s about recognizing the triggers. And when the response gets set off—usually it’s fear or anger—figuring out how can I settle into surrender mode. It’s pretty much a daily practice for me. Some days I’m better at surrendering than others and I can find the feeling of flow as I move through my daily activities. Some days I surrender at the end of the day by curling up on the couch with a pint of ice cream watching the Bachelorette.

 

Where do you practice effort and surrender?

Happy Birthday to Me!

casey 5 It’s my birthday!

And I thought it would be a great day for my inaugural blog post.

Welcome to CoreBirthing! I’ll be writing about birth, parenting, and life from my perspective. I’m a mom to two amazing kids, wife and partner to Jonathan (founder and creator of CoreWalking), childbirth educator, postpartum doula and life coach serving women in NYC and beyond. I’m so excited to share this with you!

I am now 40 years older than I was in that picture. I took it from my mom’s house because I wanted to remind myself of that feeling and the feeling I always had when I looked at that picture growing up.

I am happy.

I am strong—(and dirty and sweaty from running around outside all day!)

I am loved.

Along the way, those feelings ebb and flow—some days I feel more loved, some days I am decidedly not happy, sometimes I feel weak and afraid.

But I am reminded of what a strong little spirit I was and I am when I look at myself at 5. And when I took this picture from my mom’s house my intention was to place it somewhere I could look at it every day to connect into those feelings.

My parents used to tell me something similar—they wrote it on cards, said it to me when they kissed me goodnight, they were attempting to bolster my sense of self.

You are great

You are strong

You are loved, they said.  I didn’t always believe them but I was glad to hear it.

Now it comes from my own voice. And it feels great!

I found the picture where I’d placed it that day—tucked into a flap in my journal. I kept it hidden. Forgot about it, got too busy, didn’t feel those things. I’m sharing it now because I’m ready to remember. For me, for family, for my friends, and for the families I serve.

I am happy.

I am strong.

I am loved.