Postcards from the Edge

How do you feel after scrolling through your social media feeds. Amused? Annoyed? Bored? Connected? Disoriented as if you slipped down the rabbit hole?

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-21-43-pmOn the radio program @themoms, women were debating if posting mainly positive parts of your life is fake and even dangerous, or if by posting negative things you are revealing too much about your life into the internet ether. On Instagram I tend to post positive images because I think of a social media post as a postcard. There is already so much negativity spinning around out of control around us, plus I don’t want to disclose too much about my life to the public (never assuming anything is ever private or just to friends online), or to the person I sat next to in Geometry back in the day. I’m not even that private of a person, it’s just all too much.

Receiving a postcard via snail mail every once in a while is a positive experience, hearing about the adventures of someone you’re close to and seeing a fabulous image or two on the front. Ahhhhh, you wish you were there, but you can live vicariously for a minute or two whenever you pass by the postcard on your fridge. These days I only get a real postcard once in a blue moon, but even in their heyday I would receive max a few at a time. Going through my social media feed is akin to receiving thousands of postcards per hour.screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-22-18-pm Instead of subconsciously comparing my day with the few people I know who are out of town, now hundreds of people I know are posting their vacation pics, getting married, having babies, having the most amazing coffee, eating the best food, grabbing a cocktail, going to a concert, or have their feet dangling from a hammock. Your personal virtual mailbox becomes overloaded.

People now post more information about themselves in one day than they would have ever stuffed into the annual Christmas newsletter, now moot for anyone with a computer. It’s just too much. Now everyone gets to see the snooze-inducing Back to School images of everyone else’s children. Last week I texted pictures of our kiddos to the only people who I imagine really have the time for them/will care: my husband, parents and two sisters. I wouldn’t even bother to send it to my brothers-in-law because why should they be buggered? Seriously. It SHOULD be boring to them. Not their kids!  It’s just too much.

Now before I sound too much like a nefarious Luddite, I do want to read about the trials and successes of my loved ones, I do want to read that Bill Murray quote and I do want to see adorable photos of your dog and progeny because they really make me smile and I feel more connected to you. Plus, on Facebook I don’t just keep it light and positive because it is a quality format to post about that boy in Aleppo and garner support for the brave Native Americans fighting the Dakota Pipeline. But sometimes, sometimes, in my darker moments when I’m overwhelmed, it’s just all too much. That is when I need to power off my virtual mailbox, go take a walk to run my fingers through some rosemary and smile at a flesh and blood neighbor. Ahhhhhhhh!screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-24-15-pm

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What I’m giving up for Lent

Yva_Lady_reading_newspaper_c1932Last year I gave up complaining for Lent. It went so well that even though I haven’t stopped complaining altogether, I do it decidedly less than before I gave it up. The volume of any complaints, as a direct result of my 2015 Lent challenge, has been dialed up to a Spinal Tap 11, which stops me pretty quickly from elaborating.

So this year I had a grand time musing about the new way I can hopefully make another significant change. Now that our son is finally weaning, a whole line of detox opportunities are open to me that haven’t been in a long while, but giving up something like processed sugar would mean giving up Lake Champlain 5 Star Peanut Butter Bars and I’m not at all ready to do that.

My final decision is that I’m going to give up reading the news for Lent. Today’s world of news is gut-wrenching and soul-sucking because 1) the amount of horrific global violence on full display and 2) it can be so shallow. Unfortunately these two types of news stories are not mutually exclusive. On one page of Time Magazine is a picture of dead bodies with a horrific story attached, and on the next is an ad for People magazine with the cover title that screams “How to Love the Way You Look!” Looks like Melissa McCarthy is on the cover, which is awesome, but the ad made me feel even worse about the war torn people’s plight I just read about because our culture somehow can say the words Bieber and Assad in the same breath without being embarrassed.

The best part of this decision is that it’s an election year so I am MORE THAN HAPPY to dump any news about Trump and most of the other candidates. I am going to have a very hard time however, not diving into my NYTimes app all day, every day. I am a subscriber and I just can’t get enough of it, so I now have one hour and seven minutes to read like crazy, and I just might check out vox, Le Monde, and BBC News too, my other favorite news sources. I have also realized, that as a SAHM part of keeping up my identity as someone who is globally-minded and literate, I do acquire personal puntos when I hear myself say “Yes, I DID hear the latest about Venezuela’s government!” but that just means I need to grow up and see my value beyond having those types of conversations.

No matter what, it will be good to break the overarching, powerful habit I have to pick up my phone relentlessly.

Besides the NYTimes and my other usual suspects, I will miss hearing about freaking cute pandas being born. I can still see pandas romping around on YouTube I guess, and hmmmm, I have a question, does watching Last Week Tonight count as news?!?!!???! Say it ain’t so!

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Let’s get real about Placenta Encapsulation!

IMG_6470RTI swim in many social circles, and one of my favorite waters to wade in is my midwife and fellow doula circle here in Venice beach. In this pond, talking about eating your placenta is absolutely as normalized as talking about grabbing sushi for lunch.

I also swim in other oceans where I get willingly paraded around as the weirdo/hippie chick, and I’m asked some really spicy questions about placenta encapsulation by an altogether shocked (and many times totally grossed out) audience.

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Placenta smoothie action on the night Emil was born

I had both of my placentas encapsulated, and with our first I also received a tincture. With our second, my doula and soul sister Paula made me a smoothie just after I gave birth with frozen fruit and veggies plus a small section of the raw placenta blended inside. Then one of my midwives cut and froze a few more quarter-sized sections for smoothies that I could drink during the time she was doing the encapsulation.

If you want to know why women are doing this, here are the Wiki reasonsPlacentophagy is the act of mammals eating the placenta of their young after childbirth. The placenta contains high levels of prostaglandin which stimulates involution (an inward curvature or penetration, or, a shrinking or return to a former size) of the uterus, in effect cleaning the uterus out. The placenta also contains small amounts of oxytocin which eases birth stress and causes the smooth muscles around the mammary cells to contract and eject milk.

For me, each time I took the pills it had a balancing effect on my emotions and made me feel like less of a victim of my ever-changing and raging hormones. My French husband didn’t think the pills would have any effect on me, but nevertheless he humored me and supported my decision to have them.  There were about a dozen times during the first few months postpartum when I forgot to take a placenta pill, and midway though the day he would reluctantly ask me (when I was in hormonal meltdown-mode) if I had forgotten, and each time he was right, which made him ultimately thankful he says, for the money well spent.

Only once in an article online have I heard an account by someone who had minor ill-effects, and to me the article read like it was mostly trying to vie for an attention-grabbing headline without having any really stunning news to share. There are studies that show positive effects of human placentophagy, but unless a pharmaceutical company invents a way to commodify placenta encapsulation I won’t expect any well-funded scientific studies to be done or any expensive marketing materials to be produced akin to the flashy and ubiquitous cord-banking ads.

As a doula I encapsulated a client’s placenta for the first time recently chez Paula, who showed me the ropes. I did it for my beautiful friend Jordan; her vibrant and bright son Camper suddenly passed away due to a brain tumor at the age of 2 1/2 during her second pregnancy. I couldn’t think of anyone whom I wanted to help emotionally and physically more than her (and her husband) and it was a true honor for me to encapsulate Jordan’s placenta and to curl their son Dillon’s umbilical cord into a little keepsake heart shape after he was born.

For Jordan, the main effect the pills had for her was to lessen the pain of the C-section incision. My clients and friends have experienced other benefits from more energy to increased breast milk production. My questions for you are, are you comfortable talking about eating placenta carpaccio? If you or anyone you know have experience with placenta encapsulation, what was that experience like?

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3 Reasons Why Modern Parenting is Stressful (avec the silver lining!)

Apple iKid

“THAT didn’t exist when I had kids that age!”

Modern parents now have it so much better now, because Information + Amazon Prime = More ease and safety than ever before, right?

Mais non! Even with handy tech, clean products and boatloads of information, parenting is more stressful than ever.

Why?

1) Parenting today can be isolating. Even introverts pine for the proverbial Village. The Village is where you can take a shower, use the restroom and get dressed without freaking out on the inside that something bad is going to happen to your children. If you live in The Village, your aunt or cousin is over and she is happily playing with them. The Village is where children can walk down the street to your neighbor’s house without panic ensuing and police being called. You are friends and/or family with your neighbors and everybody watches out for everybody else. You work, cook, and eat together, learn from each other, laugh, connect, walk to the local market and all the while we are watching out for each other’s children.

I know that The Village wouldn’t be utopia, there would be gossip, hurt feelings sometimes, personal space infringed upon, but as a young mom desperate for more hands on deck and a greater sense of community that you don’t have to commute to, it would be WORTH IT!

I pine for the Village and ache for it as if I am missing a part of my own body. Oh, I do have solid mom friends! Most of them are a drive away and have their own busy schedules. Oh, I take my kids to music classes, baby gyms and we do fun things! Yes, but I am planning out and driving to each activity with all of the kerfuffle that comes with each click of the car seat, every bag, every sippy cup packed, and I pay a pretty penny for many of their extra curricular activities.

Much of the time I am alone with my children at the house wishing that a group of my friends and family would just magically drop by to tell us that they are moving to a nearby cul-de-sac, but that hasn’t happened yet.

2) Gadgets don’t make you forever happy, but they do make you less creative. My kids don’t want me to be on the phone or computer for very long. When they play with toy phones they don’t want to be on them very long either. What they want is for me to interact with them and play games. When we are at home, they have a lot of things to play with, but everything eventually gets boring and they want us to look them in the eyes and hang out with them again. The more things I have around me to give them, the less creative I need to be to keep them busy, plus they tend to be more sedentary. Let’s be real, even though some toys can be pedagogical, it’s not like they are learning to code playing with the Fisher Price battery operated ‘tablet.’ They just like the beeping and lit-up display.

Put me in an environment where I have less stuff and suddenly I get creative. The ceramic dish that the sugar packets are in at the restaurant quickly becomes a boat that travels around the table and it’s hilarious when the boat bonks into my head. If we are at a home that doesn’t have toys then oven mitts become puppets. If we are waiting for the car to get serviced I suddenly remember how to make a t-shirt with a piece of paper like I did in Jr. High.  They aren’t whining because I’m doing something interesting and interacting with them.

I’m not saying that toys aren’t awesome, and we have so many at home for them to play with. It’s just that they don’t satisfy as much as personal interaction and a good tickle-fest.

3) TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI

In the ‘ignorance is bliss’ category, the parents who came before us got to enjoy giving their children dinner and shampooing their hair without being privy to each and every ingredient and industrial practice. I want our children eat responsiblly-sourced, organic lovely foods and use shampoo that has no PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate or Tetrasodium EDTA lalalalalalalalalalala etc. etc. etc. in their products, truly, but there is an information overload here that has added stress and worry to my life!

I’m thrilled that producers now know that people care about what goes into their products and what the consequences are of even manufacturing their wares, but I’m drowning in a sea of information about how everything SHOULD be.

Even though I am happy that there are fantastic parenting books out there, information and advice does not replace community. I don’t want to add another parenting book to my list right now. I want someone who really cares about my children to be here to read to my them while I am still on my hands and knees cleaning up the lunch mess.

This of course brings us back to point #1 and instead of going on and on and giving YOU information overload, I’ll close with this. I don’t have the whole Village, but I do have a solid and loving family; my sisters and parents are worth the commute. They are intentional with our children and very close with them.

Doda Donna

Doda Donna

We are also blessed to have some incredibly good neighbors. Donna from right next door comes over and she makes my children feel special. She walks in the door and lightens the mood when my toddler is fussy with big gestures and silly questions, and then shows her colorful necklace to the younger one. She blows bubbles while I have a break to get dressed and breathe. She’ll play with Emil so I can pick up Valita from school without having to put him in the car seat AGAIN. Even if you don’t have the whole Village, I wish for all mamas to have their own “Doda Donna” and I hope that like her, I’ll represent at least a small part of The Village by being a non-paid, friendly face and at-the-ready extra set of hands for young moms wherever I live for the rest of my life!

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Oui, hair!

IMG_5718I have been asked since my blog about giving up complaining for Lent how I manage to keep up my attitude of gratitude. That moment when I find joy instead of pain is what I call a ‘Oui, hair!’ moment.

It started with a little spider vein on my left thigh. I was 8 months pregnant when I noticed it on my body. I glared at it, getting more and more frustrated until I started wondering about how spider veins come about. That brought me back to Biology 101 and how our veins are blood vessels carrying deoxygenated blood back to our hearts.

It’s clear that veins are totally badass.

AND I GET TO HAVE THEM! I have veins, and even arteries to boot, carrying blood back and forth to my pumping, beating heart.

So veins are incredible and the intricate work of what is going on inside our bodies every millisecond is badass.

Go ahead, try it with anything you like about your body. Look for what is awesome about it instead. Crow’s feet? You have done a ton of laughing over the years. The ’11’ lines in the middle of your forehead? There have been many problems to solve, and hopefully so many orgasms. Worth it! Cellulite even? Eating good, high-octane fats is what we need to do to nourish our skin and we need fat to carry vitamins A, D, E and K into our bloodstream. It’s not a reason to ignore taking the utmost care of ourselves, eating bountiful food and exercising of course, but it’s a way to stay focused on what is good.

Your hair is too thick or too thin or just not what you want? Be thankful that you have it! Two of my closest friends have bravely battled breast cancer recently. One of them had chemo that wiped out her strength and of course, her hair. Her hair and strength have been restored, but think about those without hair before complaining about yours. You get to have it! Oui, hair!

Like anything worthwhile, having your Oui, hair! moments continually and choosing joy isn’t easy. That little spider vein? He invited friends to come have a little party behind my knees. They are still so badass, even the twisted, damaged ones that become spider veins. They did good work before becoming weak, and all of my other veins are still rockin’ it inside.

Try it, and let me know what happens. If there is one about your body that you aren’t able to find anything positive about, tell me and I’ll find something, you gorgeous creature!

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