Tag Archives: affirmations

Thoughtful Thursday: Reflections

I have been training to become a Birthing From Within mentor over the last two years. Along with that, I have also learned about Birth Story Listening – sitting with women who need to tell their story and helping them find new meaning to the One Moment they have a question/want more clarity about.

There are a couple of concepts from that learning that have come into play for me over the last two weeks:

Doing the Next Best Thing

Taking One Small Step

 

Doing The Next Best Thing

In birth, we want to plan and prepare and imagine that we can control every little aspect of how our story is going to play out. As a Birthing From Within mentor, one of my intentions for our students is to help our students identify what they control, what they can influence, and what their resources and allies are to help them do the Next Best Thing if and when the sh** hits the fan through their pregnancy and/or birth journey.

That is a concept that stretches out way beyond the birth journey. In life we have the same opportunity and ask the honest question: what is really in my control, what are the things I can influence, and when is it time to realize we have reached the moment of choosing the Next Best Thing?

We hit that moment on Christmas Eve.  Here I thought Puma and I had everything handled: we had done the majority of our gift shopping in November, all our DIY gifts were done and delivered, we just had to sit back, relax, enjoy the season, and remember to buy the ham for Christmas dinner.

I bought the ham.  And also forgot to check our pantry to see if we had everything else.  As it turns out, we were out of potatoes, we did not get our CSA bag the week before Christmas because the delivery was cancelled, and our usually endless reserve of butter in the freezer had been depleted. Coming home from the Christmas Eve service at 11:30 pm on 12/24 the full magnitude of this hit me…I needed to go grocery shopping!!

We tried every grocery store in our neighborhood to see if we could sneak in before midnight. Well, those stores had closed early (duh!) in order to allow their employees to spend time with their families – of course the right thing to do and completely inconvenient for me!

I posted a little blurb on social media to see if anyone had an idea of which stores might have limited hours on Christmas day…feeling like a slug because I was going to be the jerk that created a reason for stores to be open on a holiday…and proceeded to call those stores in the morning. No answer. I searched webpage after webpage looking to see if any of them had holiday hours posted. No help.

Here we were with eight people expecting Christmas dinner and nothing to prepare except the ham and the sweet potatoes. I don’t know about your family; mashed sweet potatoes were going to be a hard sell for the Sweet Pea Kids.

So instead of freaking out and crying about what a terrible person I am, and beating myself up for failing to plan appropriately, I took a deep breath and laughed. What a way to finish up this year of huge shift for our family.  The opportunity to explore a new experience.  We took my mom’s suggestion and decided to go out for Chinese food.

It worked out beautifully. We made the reservations when we called to confirm our favorite Chinese restaurant was open (Smart move, BTW. We are not the only people who enjoy Chinese food on Christmas Day. Unlike The Christmas Story, the restaurant was packed and the line was out the door.) We got to enjoy the morning without watching the clock and trying to time all our preparations throughout the day. We had time to enjoy our children’s gifts with them and play throughout the afternoon.  And then, all that was left to do was to get ready, get dressed, and hop in the car to go to dinner.

We did not have to sit around the house and mope around the dinner table as we pondered all the people who were not going to be with us on Christmas Day. The grandparents that we were not going to call. The sweet friend we were not going to visit. The families we know that were going through the day without their beloved mothers/wife.

So we had our Chinese dinner, brought home leftovers that would turn into Monday’s lunch, and then made our fancy dinner the next day, after we went grocery shopping.  It was delicious and a nice treat. Such a nice experience that we may try for a repeat next year.

One Small Step

This is a concept that I use in both our birth classes and the birth story listening work that I do.  The question is, “What’s one small step you could take?”  It refers to the idea that if we sit quietly and reflect, there is probably One Small Step we can take to affect a small change in the direction we want to go next. That small step helps us feel accomplishment because it’s action, as opposed to the continued depression or procrastination because the satisfaction of “doing it all” or “getting it right” is out of reach.

This year of loss has completely altered my perspective and brought into focus what is truly important to me: LIVING. Being in good relationships with people who inspire me to grow and do better daily. Going exploring while we can and enjoying those experiences with our children. Forgetting everything else and just letting it float away without attaching any meaning or giving it any more energy.

I use the One Small Step question to help me evaluate what it is that I really want to do in a day.  It helps me remember that I don’t have to do it all…I just need to take One Small Step. It has freed me in ways I wouldn’t have imagined.

The people and situations that lead to the emotions I don’t like to feel are being cut loose, or at least I am managing those interactions better than I used to because Life Is Literally Too Short. I have learned a huge lesson in letting go of the physical and metaphorical baggage that weighs me down. We have completed two home sales, and I am wanting to downsize again because we don’t need all the things. Really. Don’t. Need. Stuff. The things that bring us joy get to stay. Everything else is on the way to St. Vincent de Paul or into the homes of our students/friends/family who can put the stuff to good use.

So instead of being overwhelmed by the piles of things that I still must go through before we go exploring, I am taking One Small Step every day.  Accepting that I cannot attack the whole pile in one day or one session, and instead I can make an agreement with myself to do one or two boxes/piles a day.

Another Small Step is inviting our children to participate in this mission to minimize and live simply by addressing the messes that accumulate in the shared living areas. Applying the idea that if it doesn’t have a space, and we can’t find a space, then whatever it is needs to find a new home in the garbage, the recycling bin, or the giveaway box.

The hardest area for me in that respect is THE MAIL. Ugh. It’s the other never-ending story in my life…aside from the laundry.  That will be my area to address in 2017. I once heard about a person who had a one-touch rule when it came to the mail…I must consider that and see what that means and how it’s possible.  In our house, it shifts from one pile to another and then another.  We have taken one small step in minimizing it by having our children join in and help with the shredding…beyond that we have some work to do.

So there you have it – some reflections and an intention for 2017.  Wishing you all a blessed ending to 2016, and may 2017 be a year for you to grow, explore, and enjoy.

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A Blessingway for Baby #2

Blessingways or Mother Blessings come in all different variations these days. Traditionally, the “blessing way” is a Navajo Ritual “created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood.”  They have since been adapted to honor the pregnant mother, honor the baby waiting to be born, or as a more family centered version of a baby shower.

The Sacred Pregnancy book I have been reading describes the blessingway as “a ceremony in which people bless the way of the baby and the mother as she readies herself to birth her baby into existence.”

I worked together with a great mama friend of mine to come up with what my baby and I saw our blessingway as: women close to us gathering for a relaxed afternoon tea, beading a bracelet  for me to wear before/during labor, sharing affirmations/hopes/prayers and participating in cord binding where each woman wraps a string around her wrist one or more times and then gives it to the person next to her, at once making everyone connected. Each women then cuts their cord to create a bracelet they wear until my labor is over. Prior to the birth, when they see their bracelet, they can think of me and send good thoughts. :)

It was such a nice afternoon with friends that traveled from all over the state to be there. They left me with a renewed perspective towards birth and shifted a lot of my tension and anxiety to excitement and joy. I thought I would recap some of the awesome affirmations and prayers that were given to me… for any other mamas to be or women with friends that will be birthing soon, let us share and pass on the wonderful feelings of empowerment and love they provided.

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This one actually came from my husband before we left for the gathering, it is so beautiful and simple, I imagine easy to recite in moments of intense labor and or doubtfulness.

We are the boat, we are the sea. I sail in you, you sail in me.” 

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This Advice From A Tree is applicable in so many different facets of life but I am finding it so cheerful for the rest of my pregnancy, reading through it just makes me smile.

Advice From A Tree

Stand Tall and Proud
Go Out On a Limb
Remember Your Roots
Drink Plenty of Water
Be Content with Your Natural Beauty
Enjoy the View

 

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This provides such a great visualization for me that I can use in moments of weakness and doubt and I know will be useful during particularly difficult moments in labor and “transition.”

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This is especially useful for second or subsequent babies and something that helps focus my perspective that this birth and baby bring with it an entirely new experience that I know nothing about yet. I hope to honor the process with no expectations.

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“My courage is stronger than my fear”

“A women in birth is at once her most powerful, and her most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed unhindered, understands that we are stronger than we know.”
-Marci Macari

“Breathing in relaxation. Breathing out tension” 

“she believed she could, so she did”

and my favorite of all of them…
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says The Lord.” Isaiah 66:9

“I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” Joan of Arc

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Isaiah 43:1-3

“There is no force equal to that of a Determined Woman.”

 

In addition to sharing the affirmations, each woman brought a bead to string together on a bracelet or necklace for me, they all had different meanings and sentiments and all represent the love these six other women have for me and my baby girl awaiting birth. It is a bracelet now, but I plan on turning into a long necklace I can easily stare down at.

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Another special gift I received was this Unakite bracelet. I did not know the power and uses of Unakite for pregnancy and childbirth before that day and I have not taken it off since!

IMG_4129You can also see my brown hemp cord in the photo above from the cord binding ceremony.

Overall it was an extremely special day with an energy that I plan to draw on the remaining 7-ish weeks of my pregnancy. The affirmations are all going to be placed on a wall in the room we plan to birth in next to a shelf that will contain an essential oil diffuser, sage, quartz and pearls that were also gifted to us.

I hope any or all of these can be used/shared/appreciated and passed on to other mamas to be,  alone or paired with a blessingway they have been very uplifting to my soul.

Has anyone attended or had a blessing way themselves? What kind of ceremonies took place? If you have any other affirmations or prayers to share we would love to read them!

Love and birth,

Cassandra

Second Pregnancy: Fears & Affirmations

First pregnancies are known to bring about many fears: fear of an expanding body, fear of giving birth, fear of becoming a mother, fear of the unknown, for me personally it was mostly the fear of the pregnancy itself. I was in a constant state of fear that something was or could go wrong while growing my baby. It just seems so delicate, so mind blowing that an entire human was growing inside my belly while I barely felt anything at all. I worked through those and was blessed with the experience of a very successful full term pregnancy and birth at the end so I  have not had many of those concerns the second time around. We sought out confirmation via doppler and ultrasound in early pregnancy and now as the third trimester begins a very active baby in my tummy keeps my mind at ease everyday. I am full of other kinds of fears this time though – surrounding birth, the postpartum period, and my responsibilities within a family of four. They are pretty overwhelming and all consuming sometimes, coupled with the fact that we have done absolutely zero to prepare for this upcoming birth or baby’s arrival I feel like I am often carrying a weight of anxiety too heavy to bear lately.

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the weeks & baby’s growth are both happening so rapidly this time around!

I have employed the help of some visualization techniques and affirmations that I thought I would share here in case any other mamas may find them helpful too. The visualizations can be used to get rid of fears, worries, or negative thoughts we just don’t want around and the affirmations, while some of them are specific to birth, postpartum or new babies, the others can be used anytime during the crazy ride of motherhood.

Visualization #1: Drifting Clouds
This was taught to me during a meditation in a yoga class recently, I really loved it and have found myself using it a lot at night before going to sleep.

Picture a serene, beautiful place with yourself seated or laying down comfortably gazing up at the sky. It is a brilliant, clear blue and there are big, white, fluffy clouds passing by. See your fear, negative thought, emotion, source of tension appear in one of the clouds and watch it drift away out of view. Repeat with each thought or feeling you would like to get rid of until the clouds are floating by empty. Notice how your body or mind feels differently after releasing these into the atmosphere and continue to relax and take in the beauty around and above you.

Visualization #2: Stones in the Ocean
This came from the Sacred Pregnancy book, it was described as an actual physical activity to go do, which I have been intending to and will, but also works great for a visualization in the moment and/or if you do not have access to an ocean or lake.

Visualize yourself at the edge of the ocean. Gather many large stones and place them by your feet. On each stone write in bold black letters a worry, fear, negative thought, problem or the like that you have been holding onto. Walk to the water and throw the stone into the ocean, watching as Mother Earth literally absorbs and carries off this fear or unwanted thought for you.

affirmations

I know the postpartum period is not a friendly time for myself, physically or emotionally. I plan on writing these down and placing them somewhere I can see from my resting place in bed.

“There’s value in showing my kids my vulnerability.”

“I am healthy and I will heal.”

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – Wonder, Hope, a dream of possibilities.”
– Edna J. Le Shan

These below also are applicable to the postpartum period for me but have been helpful at times during this pregnancy and I anticipate will be very useful as we transition to a family of four.

“Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait.”  
-Haruki Murakami

“Not loving every moment of motherhood doesn’t mean I don’t love being a mom.”

“The decisions made by other moms do not need to dictate mine.”

“I am enough.”

“I am present. My presence is enough.”

I find these are especially helpful when I repeat them over and over to myself while walking or at the playground with T or in some other situation where my thoughts can get away with me. It really does help redirect my energy and like I mentioned before is a great tool to use before I go to sleep.

Are there any other affirmations or visualizations or even other types of activities that have been particularly helpful for you during a time of fear or tension? Anything that stood out as especially helpful during the healing and adjustment phases after birth, I would love to hear anything and everything!

 

 

 

Monday Musings: Moving Past Anger

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We hosted a bonus class for Bradley students to meet our chiropractor on Saturday. Since our lives have been immeasurably enriched since we started chiropractic care. we invite him to share the benefits of chiropractic care with our students. As a Bradley™ dad, he also has some amazing tips on coaching back labor. Since they involve physical manipulation of the sacrum, we leave that info to the professional!

And then – the reason why he is a “bonus class”. He is a wealth of information on all things parenting and life. On this visit, he really stressed the importance of emotional health and well-being in the partnership before the baby arrives to have a better birth experience. He also shared that the stress level of the caregiver affects the immune health of the child.

As we seek to improve interpersonal communication, recognize that anger is unmet expectation.

Simple. It is not about you. It doesn’t need to spiral.

“You had an expectation – what did you want to happen?”

Whether you ask it of yourself, your partner, your child, or whoever it is that is angry, you have inserted a place for a breath. The answer to that question is something we can do something about. Or maybe it the start of a conversation than is long overdue.  Be it an action or a dialogue, maybe both, steps can be taken that remove the anger and restore the peace.

I am so looking forward to this new tool in our communication toolbox!

Do you think this could work for you?
If you already  have a “breathing space” question(s), what  works for you?

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Monday Musings: Back to the Breath

Oh, my volume was higher over the last couple of days again…got a confirmation last night that I need to keep doing my deep breathing and using humor when it’s my moon time!!

So here is my affirmation for today, perfectly timed for this week.  I am so glad to report that the affirmations thus far have really helped me be a more peaceful mama.

I have remembered more often to breathe before speaking.  Puma wanted her hair curled for a party last night.  We got through her hair styling without major drama (she has one teeny spot she can’t reach with her brush, and she doesn’t want help, and there is always a dreadlock there!)  It turned out so well – she looked every bit the fairy and won a prize for her costume!

Charger and I have been negotiating the weaning process.  He is a little lost right now – and he has been acting out.  Most times, I have remembered to use humor – he really has a great laugh!  I also tried to be empathetic and show him love when he was not acting very lovable.

Night Owl and I are working on breathing together.  He is the most impulsive of our children for now, and so when I see him escalating, I ask him to take a deep breath with me.  It was so amazing to see him take a couple of deep breaths without prompting last week.  In addition, there have been a couple of times that he may have retaliated had he not been acting intentionally; I have seen him remain calm and make kinder choices.  What proud mama moments those are!  I praised him and thanked him for his kind choices; it was so neat to feel him glow with pride.

I would love to hear if any of these affirmations have helped you, or if you have read some affirmations from other sources that have helped you.  If you have a minute, please leave us a comment and share your thoughts – thank you!

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Monday Musings: Breathe First

The picture in the top image is of our boys’ room.  Do you want to take a guess what it’s covered in?

Charger came into our bedroom right before it was time for them to go to dance class.  His clothes, which were a bright royal blue when he got dressed in the morning, were now a dusky gray.  My first reaction was panic – the first thing that ran through my mind was that they had knocked down a structural wall and were covered in insulation…and then I panicked about Night Owl’s asthma…the mind of a mother!

I took a deep breath and asked him what happened.  He replies, “I got dirty!” as he is laughing hysterically.  I asked him with what, and then I smelled him…I had an inkling that our walls were still standing.

We had just gotten back from our summer home in the mountains where it is a good 20-30 degrees cooler than where we live during the school year.  They were hot, and they decided that the best way to cool off was to have a snowstorm.  In their room. With baby powder.

So they had a snowstorm, made an ice skating rink, did some ice skating, and had an awesome time being rascals together.  Epic.

While it was really hard not to react to the mess, the fine particles in the air (I have never used baby powder on them – it was a gift when Puma was a baby wight years ago and I have such a hard time throwing things out “just in case”), we just got them in the car and told them to help us clean up when they got home.

After some thinking, we decided to talk to them about different scenarios.  When would it be okay to make a snowstorm with baby powder?  We decided that the next time they wanted to do this, we would do it outside.

We also asked Night Owl, who so far is the instigator of these crazy ideas (we have SO many stories…I may tell you about the “ice ship” if we ever get around to telling more stories), to please talk to us first, so that we can help him execute his ideas as safely as possible, and with minimal indoor clean-up required!

In case you like these affirmations and would like a pretty, peaceful picture, here is another version that you can download:

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Wishing you a great week!

How do you handle it when your kiddos get “creative”?

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Parenting Affirmation

I really need this reminder this week as our schedule gets more added into as the weeks go by.  Our summer sojourn is over…now we are full speed ahead with a homeschooling schedule, field trips, meetings and events that promote The Bradley Method…and add in the preparation and support for the two classes of wonderful families we are honored to work with this Fall session…I will be soft and gentle.  I have to be in order to facilitate the trust and respect I want to have with my children.