GROW: Podcast Girl Talk with Kelly and Abbie

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Get ready for Round 2 of Girl Talk with my BFF’s novelist Kelly Harms and photographer Abbie Chaffee. In this episode we talk about the amazing book, Fair Play, which every person in a committed relationship and shared household should read. Think you have a good grip on equality in your home? This book may have you thinking differently.

We also cover Krampus, the horrifying Santa alternative that terrifies children into good behavior, and we have an extensive discussion about thank you notes and whether we still want to spend time writing about our gratitude.

*Please note: Do not listen to this episode with kids under age 10! There is very real talk about magical beings.

Happy Holidays!

 

GROW Podcast: Interview with Lori: business owner, adoption advocate, Reactive Attachment Disorder specialist, cancer survivor, and more.

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My sister and I both fight the urge to be analytical to the extreme. We are armchair experts at therapy. But this interview is so much more than us analyzing the ins and outs of growing up Midwest “nice” with an emotionally challenged atheist Dad in a home where a lot of feelings got buried. Where does all that unexpressed anger go? How do we know when our feelings aren’t totally irrational?

 

And other questions like do you trust destiny when your life is on the line? We discuss surviving Stage 3 breast cancer, the violent rage that sometimes comes with Reactive Attachment Disorder and how to protect your other children from it, a miracle pregnancy, anxiety, depression, quantum physics and more. We started off by picking up the thread of a chat we had already been having… How we filter our own emotions…. to see if it’s valid before expressing it and then expressing it in a way that won’t ruffle feathers. WAKING UP is hard sometimes. This conversation details the inner process we all at some times go through to give ourselves permission to feel. Check out Lori’s work at Red Thread Learning.

 

 

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Here’s the breakdown:

 

2:40 Emotions…when are we being unreasonable?
5:00 A brain on a stick..when our minds and bodies aren’t connected
6:45 Letting our emotions past the gate of analysis: is the feeling warranted?
7:25 Which emotions are we repressing? Joy is a big one
9:00 Would you rather have a life filled with big highs and lows or something stable in the middle without any extreme highs?
10:30 Seasonal depression, welcome to thinking about mortality and DEATH
12:00 Having a baby brings thoughts about mortality
14:00 When your parent raises you to live life afraid
14:20 WATCH OUT FOR SHARKS AND RIPTIDES
17:20 My mom could maybe use some safety precautions
19:30 We want to know our feelings and experiences matter
22:00 A submarine of women on their periods is not bound for doom
22:30 Does it matter if a person’s unreasonable since you have to deal with it either way?
24:45 There’s usually a need under the anger
25:30 Fear is the flip side of anger and our survival used to depend on being accepted by the tribe
27:00 When even admitting or expressing that you’re angry is a problem
28:00 Birth Story and the back story starts here
28:30 What happens when you discover stage 3 breast cancer when you have a one year old and have just moved overseas
30:00 Life turns upside down
31:30 Docs say breast milk does not contain cancer from the breast, but chemo passes through breastmilk
32:15 Dad with some supportive words
34:00 Going into surgery thinking you’ll have both breasts coming out, but things don’t always go as planned
34:30 Lori is told that getting pregnant would kill her
35:00 Lori starts thinking of adoption: the oncologist doctor says – you shouldn’t think about the future because you probably won’t be here- thanks Doc
37:30 Two international adoptions and Lori gets those tubes tied
40:00 Miracle pregnancy
43:30:00 We don’t know if it will kill you..it might, we don’t know
45:00 Being pro-choice does not make the decision of abortion easy- even when death is on the line
49:00 Faith v. logic….winner=faith
51:00 Telling Dad about a pregnancy he didn’t approve of…my sister gets hung up on
53:00 My dad couldn’t have been any worse at this and, by the way, NEVER tell a pregnant woman she’s not thinking clearly because she’s pregnant
56:00 Unthinkable to make others angry
58:00 The stress of the possibility of recurrence sticks around
58:30 It’s ok to lose a breast if it means you’re alive
59:30 No pressure, but your babies brains are affected by the state of the mother during pregnancy.
1:1:30 Concern for who’s carrying the baby in adoption and Red Thread
1:3:00 Illusion of control during pregnancy and the process of adoption means letting go of some control
1:5:30 The invisible Red Thread – we are connected to the meaningful people in our lives past and present and future
1:7:00 Sorrow that adopted kids can feel the pain of not being with the birth family even if you feel you were meant to parent them
1:09:00 Lori came to earth with an outline
1.09:30 Parallel universes, free will, and destiny
1:13:00 It’s possible Kris is nuts
1:14:30 Quantum physics and there are multiple realities existing
1:16:30 All things are connected
1:20:30 Anger
1:21:00 Attachment disorder: when your child becomes violent
1:22:30 Sacrificing your emotions to maintain peace and keep everyone safe
1:26:30 If you come close to me (to bite me), I’m going to assume you want a hug
1:27:30 I am pretending to be calm even if the emotional house is burning down
1:29:00 PTSD, stifling anger messes up the stress response
1:30:30 Trauma informed caregiving: getting professional training because of how attachment disorder was disrupting the home
1:35:00 Where do you feel emotions in your bod? Focusing and saying yes.
1:38:00 It’s impossible to be triggerless and yet sometimes we do it
1:39:00 An uncomfortable feeling is just a thought in your head and a sensation in your body
1:40:30 Depression – accepting it when it happens

 

GROW podcast: Interview with 3 wise women.

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In this episode, you will hear the voices of women who have over 230 years between them walking this planet. My mom and two Aunts join me in a conversation that will inspire and surprise you.

If you don’t have any women in their 70’s and 80’s in your life, give a listen. We talk about everything from growing up in a rigid Catholic household and how it affected sexuality, to why we still want to please our parents even when we have our own kids, to living with an alcoholic who was a hero of the community. Oh, and doctors refusing to prescribe birth control to married women. !! We talk about my aunt’s non-profit (avisionforcleanwater.org)  to get remote villages clean water and a family member who chooses a life as a cloistered nun with little contact with the outside world. Here’s a juicy quote from my mom during this interview regarding the church:

“I was livid at myself for having allowed myself for that many years to rely on somebody else to make my moral choices”

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Enjoy.

2:00 Kris gives some background for why she wanted to podcast and hear women’s stories

5:00 Introductions

7:00 My Aunt MJ: retired at age 78, high trauma emergency/surgery nurse in inner city Detroit

8:30 My Aunt Eileen starts a non-profit: A Vision for Clean Water avisionforcleanwater.org , helping 400,000 people

10:30 How do you take a step toward doing what you really want to do?

12:20 Vision boarding and Master Mind groups

16:30 I get masterminded!

18:30 Where did MJ get her positive thoughts from? What happens when all of a sudden you can’t live your life. Recovery International with Dr. Lowe

19:30 Panic attacks and not functioning

23:30 Do you know the root of mental health issues when they happen?

24:30 When external expectations from parents affect you

26:00 Church every day, rosary every night on your knees,  3 times a day pray out loud to the bells of the church ringing, visitors had a choice of getting on their knees to pray or leaving

28:30 My grandmother was a college graduate in 1931

29:30 What passes through generations?

31:30 Living with an alcoholic parent who was a great man and beloved community member

37:30 Sin. Sexuality. Makeup is called barn paint in a strict household.

41:30 Strict rules vs. Total freedom for your own kids

42:30 Finding your own way in parenting

43:30 You keep the good from your upbringing and drop the rest

45:00 Someone says to my aunt, “You taught me how to love somebody who doesn’t follow my rules”

46:00 Radical compassion may be more important than old models of morality based on rules, religious expectations, etc.

50:30 Common traits of grandchildren

52:30 Virgins getting married, consequences could be eternal fire or getting disowned?

53:30 A snowstorm creates an sexual ethical crisis

55:30 Doctors refuse to prescribe birth control to a woman getting married

59:00 A priest causes an existential sexual crisis

1:00:30 Living in denial: when you let other people make your choices

1:01:00 My dad almost wipes a shoe full of shit on a priest’s desk

1:03:00 In 1968: Vatican 2 includes the idea that personal conscience is a factor in how to make your own choices

1:04:00 If a system doesn’t support your beliefs, you leave the system

1:06:00 Cloistered Nun life: Linna.Sister Maria

1:25:45 The letter about Communion to the mother of the atheist husband to be

1:28:30 Trying not to lie to your mother even as an adult

1:30:00 Why don’t you speak your truth to others

1:31:00 Girls in the 40’s getting their periods

1:38:30 Birthing in the 1960’s and 70’s

1:42 Skin to skin…not a thing in the 70’s,  and, by the way, let’s do that epidural at home

1:43 The trauma of a birth when the birthing woman is not supported and the wishes of the couple not respected

1:46 Kris tries not to get furious

1:49 When you feel excluded from having a say in your birth

1:51 Being mistreated in birth affects your entire life and your ability to trust

1:52 Bonding is something than can happen at any time

1:54 How therapy can help repair any missed bonding opportunities

1:56 Letting go of systems

1:57:10 The power is with the mother birthing: yes, MOM!

1:58:30 The benefits of hospital birth

2:00:00 The benefit of a doula

2:05:00 Sometimes you need intensity of connection in childbirth (This interview has flipped: Kris talks about her birth stories)

2:08:30 This childbirth class is bullshit

2:10:00 Childbirth is big and what about postpartum

2:11:00 Childbirth is spiritual

2:13:00 Postpartum depression when no one is talking about it

2:17:00 My Aunt gives me a dose of reality

2:19:00 Kris forgets to pick up her child from school

 

Breakdown of minutes soon to come.

GROW: Podcast Girl Talk with Kelly and Abbie

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Well, four episodes in, and things have kind of gone to hell in terms of being informational. This episode is straight Girl Talk. Here are two of my BFF’s, Kelly and Abbie. We started girl talking when we worked together at a pregnancy and early parenting store and resource center, selling nipple creams, nursing bras and booty balms….and we have not stopped since. They are brilliant and funny…I hope you enjoy their company as much as I do.

 

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If you are missing your girlfriends or are looking for a little warm, bubbly company, take a listen. We are not, in fact, drunk, though it sounds like we are.  Is there a random topic we don’t cover? Check out this list:

2:00 Kelly and Abbie don’t like long walks on the beach
2:30 We try and introduce ourselves
4:15 Kelly may be trying to eliminate half the human species
5:30 Abbie talks homeschooling
9:30 Library Cake Pans
12:15 Kris has a healthy relationship with her phone
14:00 Cake Day
14:40 Dirty Library Cake Pans and penis cookies
17:00 The saddest place in America
18:30 Rocky Rococo looks like the Weekend at Bernie’s corpse
19:45 We don’t know why Kelly lies about seeing idiotic 80’s movies
20:00 Sorry, John Lithgow
21:15 Is Magnum PI hot?
23:00 Is modern My Little Ponies kink?
25:00 Why are we still talking about John Lithgow?
27:30 Let’s talk about the horrors of putting underwear in the freezer at sleepovers
29:30 When did you get your period?
30:15 It’s hurdles day in gym class, the kotex kit
31:30 Kelly claims she did not invent the word Xennial
32:00 Let’s finish that hurdles day story
34:00 IF FOR ANY REASON, YOU DON’T WANT TO PUT SOMETHING INSIDE YOU, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TO
38:00 2 sweet girls interrupt
39:00 Hot mama with food stuck under your boob at Panera
41:30 The UPS guy gets a R rated surprise
43:30 Corduroy: Do we shave our pants?
45:00 Kelly comes out about loving Disneyworld
47:20 Why are we buying Minnie and Mickey ears?
48:00 Why do people love Disneyland?
52:00 Minnie and Mickey ears are not sexy
53:30 There is every sexy costume: bunny, Cookie monster, crayon, zombie…taco sauce?
56:15 What about kink?
57:45 What’s your favorite kind of graph?
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A Mother’s Rights #14: You have the right to parent your own way.

My kids and I had a talent show in the living room this morning. We each took turns either singing a song, pretending to play the piano, dancing, or play-acting martial arts. The house is messy. The dishes weren’t done. I have an acrylic paint stain on the carpet that is waiting for me to clean. But this is how I parent and I like it. I like being with my kids and spending time enjoying their company in the morning before getting to the chores. It helps me feel grateful. I want them to feel the bonds that they have to each other and to learn that spending time with each other is as important as any work to be done.

 

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If you could see the inside of my van, you would be horrified. In college, we used to go a bar that served free peanuts you shelled yourself and then dropped the shells on the floor. My van looks like that floor, except instead of peanuts, it is the remnants of every kid-friendly food. I let my kids eat in the car, because it is sometimes the only place they are sitting still long enough to eat.

For other moms, this style of parenting might be excruciating: playing games or dancing while there was work to be done. A van filled with crumbs and wrappers.

But they’re not me.

There is value in different ways of parenting. But the real value for you and your kids is how YOU parent. Letting them see you. Letting your style flourish. Doing what works. There is joy in expressing yourself through parenting and, yes, parenting is an art form. Your style is unique to you.

You create something with your children through the design of your days with them. They learn how to bond and prioritize, how to balance play and exercise and work and thought. But they also learn by watching you navigate your day. And your way of doing things is great if it works for your family.

Likewise, it is good practice to check your horror at how other people parent. For me, seeing kids at a playground in pressed, spotless clothes while their mom shouts, “Oh, now look! You’ve gotten dirt on your shoes!” is a real test for me. Or toddlers with gigantic bows as big as their heads and lacy skirts who look like they want to tear everything off and run naked in the grass.  It helps to be curious, be accepting.

No family is the same.  And most likely, you are doing it just right.

A Mother’s Rights 13: You have the right to say no.

 

This is an oldie but a goodie and gets a lot of mileage in the mom world. In Paul Coelho’s words, “When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” Basically, know yourself. Prioritize what’s important to you. Then live that.

Suuuuuper easy. Hahahahahaha.

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If you can indulge me for a bit, I’d like to walk with you down a little bit of a deeper interpretation of this. I brought water and trail mix: the kind with almonds and dark chocolate, not that bullshit peanuts and off-brand M&M’s kind.

We all get the surface meaning of this basic right. Say no to things that will wear you down, stress you out, or just aren’t important to you. Like, if you have a busy week, say no to making brownies for the bake sale. If your kid has the flu, say no to carpooling soccer for your neighbor. If you don’t want to drive across town after a long day, say no to book club tonight. Logistically, don’t fill your schedule up with things that will overload you. BUT, what if the importance of saying no goes deeper than that?

Understanding when and how to say no at a deeper level starts with understanding how to listen to ourselves so we know what’s important to us and what’s not.  What is your yes/no spectrum? How do you say yes to life, to new experiences, to nourishment, to bold ways of being you AND say no to hurtful people, careless treatment, and stretching beyond your healthy limits?

This kind of discernment starts with practicing a deep and passionate love for who you are so that there is room for yes to come forward.  Actively practice loving yourself. Identify things that make you feel good without question. As in: I lose 10 pounds of stress when I dance to Sean Mendes. I love walking in the arboretum. Putting mascara on makes me feel like a powerful influencer. My painting is my happy place.

Make some room for these big yes feelings. Remember yourself.

Equally important: make room for uncomfortable feelings you may not initially welcome. Things like: I can’t stand hearing my baby cry right now. I’m so angry my dad is passive-aggressive about my parenting style. I wish my partner would leave me alone right now. My eating is out of control and I’m scared.

These uncomfortable feelings need to be seen and heard too. Feelings are temporary, you are not. Getting to know your uncomfortable feelings and allowing them to be seen will help you know your real self, and love your whole self.

So far: discover what you feel and what you like. Discover what you’d rather not be feeling and things you dislike. I am making this sound so easy, but for those of us who molded ourselves based on who we thought we should be, it takes some serious dedication and practice. Thank God for yoga and friends.

Discovering your personal yes/no spectrum continues with making room for ‘no’ to come forward without pushing it to the side. You have preferences. It’s ok to hear what they are. Begin listening for your inner talk of:

I can’t say no to that or….

my partner will get mad
my friends won’t understand
my kids won’t like it
my colleagues will laugh at me
I might lose something
I might feel something I don’t want to feel
I might miss out
it could be a mistake
I won’t be pleasing others
I might hurt someone’s feelings

Hearing that inner talk and recognizing it as fear and old programming will make room for really, truly who you are to come forward. You might have a really strong “FUCK NO – I’M NOT DOING THAT” come forward. Or you may notice a gentle “I’d prefer not to, but I’m really ok with it.” What you choose to do with your preferences is then totally in your power.

This book: Getting Real is a stunning map of how to identify YOU amidst the chatter of your mind and feelings, and how to bring that you to the surface in a real way. It is so massively helpful in navigating self, life, thoughts, wanting things to be different, wanting people to be better, wanting yourself to be perfect, wanting anger to go away, needing to feel more connected. Just everything.

When you begin to know yourself and stop living your life based on expectations of who you should be or what you should do, saying no becomes a fun experiment.

What does no feel like in my body and mind? Tight shoulders? Stomach pains? Does a strong no feel different then a weak one? What does ‘yes’ feel like? Am I smiling? Excited? Relaxed? Do I feel sexy? Friendly?

Saying no is about you honoring you. The real you, the one in your big juicy heart. And won’t your kids be amazed to see this practice of self-discovery in action? They are so lucky to have a mom like you.

A Mother’s Rights #12: You have the right to receive help.

Please God do not try and do everything yourself. There is not a single ounce of shame in having someone else drive your kids to school, deliver your groceries, do your taxes, carpool your kids to events, clean your house, organize your closets, move your furniture, do your Target run, return your library books or WHATEVER you need done.

 

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We came from villages. It is an odd custom we have in this country to raise and parent and get everything done within our tiny family unit. Where is the time to breathe? If we feel pressed for time it’s because we are doing all the things that entire villages used to do for and with each other.

Imagine if you had a whole tribe full of people who could hold your bag and your coffee and watch your baby while you went to the bathroom. Or who could take your kids on a walk while you took a nap. Or if you had to only make dinner once a week because every other night of the week a grandparent or neighbor or someone else made dinner for you and your family. Or, as in some indigenous tribes, if a close family member was in charge of disciplining your kids so you could just enjoy being with your children.

Asking for or accepting help is a sacred concept. And yes, it’s tough to ask for things that in a perfect world should be offered: like at a family gathering, asking for someone to hold your fussy baby so you can eat your dinner while everyone else is already eating dessert.  The word “help” used to not have the intrinsic sense of self-lack we’ve ascribed to it. As in, if I need help I must be lacking in some way. I must not be as independent as I need to be. The truth is, you need help because you weren’t built to do it all. None of us were.

How many times do you imagine yourself as lazy for not wanting to devote every waking hour to other people? “Oh, I’m feeling lazy tonight so I didn’t make a healthy dinner and I let the kids watch TV.” You are not lazy. If you are a decent parent, as you likely are if you are reading blogs about parenting, you are working hard. Revising your emotional and mental and physical output to meet your own mothering stamina is smart. Replenishing your energy is good. Taking a break is not lazy, it’s wise. And so is asking for help.

How did we go from feeling fine as carefree childless people with non-stop free time…literally endless hours of doing whatever our single brains told us to do…. to judging ourselves for burning out from the non-stop hours of service we give to our children?  With children, free time became parenting time.

We must not make the mistake of thinking that tired=lazy or that worn-out=weak. As a mother, you are dealing with untethered toddler or teenage emotions. You are creating and dispensing milk from your own body. You are cleaning up vomit from sheets at 2am. You are literally attending to the feces of other human beings for YEARS. You are not lazy or weak for wanting someone to bring a cooked meal to your door or clean your bathroom for you.

To bring our village back, we need to be visible. To ourselves and to others. To say what we want and need out loud.

Tied into this, of course, for a lot of us is that we have a hard time receiving good things. Often we don’t even know what we’re supposed to be asking for. Or what it is that we’re not receiving because we don’t know how to recognize its absence.

This can be delicate territory for partners who are not used to contributing equally to household tasks. When you have children, suddenly it becomes glaringly offensive if your partner doesn’t do dishes or laundry and never has. It becomes necessary for both partners to contribute to chores and errands in order to prevent burnout. And ideally, recognition for and sharing the invisible workload that we often forget we are doing. In this case, asking for help feels a lot like asking for equality, which can be a seismic shift. But with love and compassion, it can be broached. Especially if you start by seeing the value in the invisible, emotional, and unseen work of mothering.

In my mom’s interview, she spoke about how the stay-at-home moms she interviewed in the 70’s didn’t recognize their own work as moms because they didn’t really know how valuable it was. To ask for appreciation and receive the good that can come from being seen, we must see ourselves as good and recognize our own work and worth.

Instead of imagining yourself as needing to do the hard work of parenting and running a household all by yourself and feeling like a fat failure for struggling and wanting help, think of your parenting work as the work of 5 people that you are trying to do all by yourself. In this case, it’s not a failure to receive support and help. Help is natural and a necessity. Receiving help actually brings forward the wisdom of having a supportive family, a tribe, a village. It brings the unseen work you do out into the open where it can be seen and acknowledged so hopefully, eventually help will be offered before you even need to ask.