Posts Tagged "community"

Attachment Village

Posted on Mar 6, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 5 comments

Attachment Village

At the end of February I had the pleasure (and good fortune) of being able to attend a full-day lecture by Dr. Gabor Mate. You may have heard him on CBC discussing his work as a doctor in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. Or you may have read one of his books including Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers (which he co-authored with Gordon Neufeld), Scattered Minds:  A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, When the Body Says No:  The Cost of Hidden Stress, or In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction. His work is incredibly fascinating and after 8 hours on a Saturday spent listening to him talk, my mind was reeling and whirring for several days as I tried to digest everything. A couple of days later, I attended a school function where a fellow parent asked me to sum up the presentation or give the “one nugget” I had taken away. I was struck totally dumb. I couldn’t even begin to succinctly summarize the broad range of ideas that had been touched on. I’m sorry to say that my response was probably not a 30 second sound bite worthy of Dr. Mate. But, 10 days later, I’m ready to give it a try. Essentially, Dr. Mate’s work deals with the mind-body connection. Babies are far more susceptible to stress in their environment than we might suppose. This includes prenatal maternal stress, but also from the circumstances of the birth itself, from separation from the mother, from the family/living environment. Dr. Mate explains that in response to stress, we may use adaptive states or protective behaviours as coping mechanisms and when these adaptive states which are meant to temporarily insulate us from the effects of the stress become long-term traits, we can see a variety of problems arise. These problems can include AD(H)D, autism, cancer, auto-immune diseases, addiction and more. The subject of Dr. Mate’s talk on this occasion was The Biology of Loss: What Happens When Attachments Are Impaired and How to Foster Resilience so he was talking specifically about working with/parenting children. He brought up the dangers of the rising cesarean section rate, and the problems of using methods like cry-it-out to get babies to sleep. He discussed what happens when children become peer-oriented rather than seeking their cues from the adults in their lives. He also explained the optimum conditions for an attachment relationship, and how and why a relationship may be negatively affected. So, what did I take away as the nugget of the day? Firstly, I was struck by the fact that we are all carrying our own issues from childhood into our adult lives, and therefore, into our parenting.  Dr. Mate says that in order to form strong attachments, babies need a non-stressed, non-depressed mother. I remember when I first read Hold On To Your Kids I was expecting to gain all this insight into my parenting, and for the first half of the book I found I was learning more about myself, about my own adolescence and early 20’s. All of this serves as further validation of my own parenting theory which is that if you want to be the best parent, you have to work on being the best person you can be, you have to understand yourself, your motivations, your own unhealthy stress responses, your own childhood traumas. The short version: You want to be a good parent? Deal with your own shit. I’m reminded here of a quote from the day which unfortunately I can not remember the source for: The greatest gift we give our children is our happiness. Secondly, I felt rather relieved of the huge burden of mother-guilt I carry with me most days. Listening to Dr. Mate speak, I was acutely aware that as far as healthy attachments go, we are doing a lot of things well. We are privileged enough to be able to make a lot of choices in our lives in our children’s best interest. They...

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Don’t Stop Believing

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 0 comments

Don’t Stop Believing

{Today we have a fabulous guest post from Amber of Crafting My Life. I stumbled on Amber in 2008. Our kids were the same age and we were both going through a phase of not being sure what came next in our lives. She had just been laid off while on maternity leave and I had just moved and sold a business. Every Thursday, I looked forward to catching up on her inspiring Crafting My Life series on her Strocel.com blog. She’s here today to talk about dealing with the little bumps on the road to your dreams.}   Do you know that feeling, when you have a really great idea? It’s energizing and exciting, and it feels really, really good. You may even feel compelled to stop everything else you’re doing just to focus on your new project. It’s kind of like being in love, only instead of a person, you’re infatuated by your dreams. Discouragement Sets In Unfortunately, in romance or in ideas, infatuation doesn’t last. Eventually, that first blush of love fades and you’re seeing things in the clear light of day. What you’re seeing may not look anything like what you envisioned. Doubts start creeping in, from any number of sources. Maybe your friend says, “Oh, yeah, I read about this guy who tried that, but it totally didn’t work.” Maybe you realize that your idea requires more time and money than you currently have. Or maybe you just get sidetracked by a kid who gets sick right just as your partner is leaving town for two weeks. One of the biggest sources of discouragement for many parents is the way that everything can take a really, really long time when you have kids. Something you could have finished in two weeks in your pre-child days now drags on over months or even years. You can’t just let your toddler fend for himself as you lock yourself in your office over a long weekend, working late into the night. You can’t easily travel or take classes or even shop in stores that carry lots of breakables. Everything requires a new level of planning and patience than it used to, and it’s easy to feel as if you’re not able to get anything done. Getting Back on Track When you’re feeling discouraged, and your dreams have been sidetracked, there are a few steps you can take to help get back on track: Re-Evaluate – Sometimes a project isn’t working because it’s not the right fit for us. Other times, we realize that we really do want to do this thing, we’ve just gotten a bit sidetracked. Take some time to re-evaluate and be really honest with yourself. Should you drop this idea, and free up space for something better, or should you pick it back up and make it happen? Only you can decide. Cut Yourself Slack – There are actually scientific studies that explain our tendency to overcommit. When we’re planning for the future, we forget about all the ordinary, everyday tasks we’ll have to do, like cleaning and commuting and taking our kids to the dentist. As a result, we create unrealistic schedules for ourselves. If you can cut yourself some slack when things take longer than you’d hoped, instead of beating yourself up and giving up in discouragement, you’ll stand a much better chance of realizing your dreams. Find Support – In our lives, we have people who are really great at supporting us, and people who just aren’t. When you’re following your dreams, you need a lot of support. Seek out the people or communities where you always feel uplifted. And when you’re with someone who has a way of taking the wind out of your sails, find something else to talk about. Seek Inspiration – Whatever your dream, there is someone who has been just where you are and carried it through. While their journey won’t be identical to yours, seeking out those who have succeeded, or whose stories resonate with you, can help remind you what you’re doing and why....

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Hand Picked

Posted on Sep 27, 2011 in Featured, Food | 0 comments

Hand Picked

{This is an old draft from a couple of years ago that I never posted. But I like it so here it is today.} As we pull in, the sun glints off the only other car in the gravel parking lot. It is early but the day is already warm and the sky is a brilliant blue. It takes a couple of minutes to disengage: unbuckle carseats; gather ourselves; make sure keys are in hand, not ignition, before shoving the door shut with my hip. We make our way through the opening in the hedge and up a path to a little market stand. The cedar shake roof is long and low and one wall is open to the fresh air revealing a wide counter and a cooler with vats of ice cream: raspberry cheesecake, bubblegum, maple walnut, moose tracks. There is no one behind the counter but after a minute, a woman calls out from the side of the building. We find her sitting at a picnic table playing cards with a young girl. She tells us that the best picking is to the right, anywhere we like. We clatter off, the four of us and our odd assortment of buckets. Noa, our thirteen month old daughter is not walking yet but we brought along her push toy: a bright yellow, orange and purple wagon with big wheels, a handle and a storage box under the seat. She toddles after us determinedly pushing the wagon over the gravel, falling every few steps but always quick to rise and push on. She has not yet figured out how to turn the wagon; her tactic whenever she encounters an obstacle is to look back at us with a grin and wait for help, one hand still resting on the handle. However, today she will need no such assistance. We have come to a pre-walking, wagon-pusher’s paradise: a blueberry farm. Our four year old son Rain runs ahead to choose our row. After a moment’s wait while we turn the wagon into the wide alley between waist high blueberry bushes, Noa is greeted with the longest unobstructed straight stretch she has ever seen. We set her free. Noa is instantly distracted from wagon pushing paradise when she notices the marble sized berries on the bushes. They are a deep dusky midnight blue and covered with a light powdery film. I am not sure that Noa has ever had blueberries and she has certainly never seen a blueberry bush. Call it human instinct; she drops to her knees, crawls to the nearest bush and begins to fill her mouth with berries with both hands. In fact, this is pretty much the reaction of all of us. We are all diverted from our intentions by the sweet, slightly sour fruit. I love the tanginess of the berries that still have a red blush to them. It takes a few minutes before we are able to get down to work, overwhelmed as we are by the plenitude on each bush, blueberries hanging in clumps like grapes. Eventually, we settle in. The rows are wide with freshly mown grass between. It is the perfect work space for a mom of young kids. Fully fenced to keep out the deer, bushes dense enough that it isn’t easy to get into another row, vast enough to provide a sense of freedom for roaming as far as they like and provided they stay in my row, I can always see them. Rain wanders off, imagination and monologue running a mile a minute as usual. He has a yogurt container laced on to his belt loop but he picks directly into his mouth. The only rule: Fill your bucket or fill your mouth but once the fruit is in my bucket, hands off. The small competitive spark in me flares up as I make it my goal to fill my large pail before we leave. Aaron and I begin working on opposite sides of the same bush so we are facing each other. Noa stays close for the most...

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Call for Birth Short Stories

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 in Birth Stories, Birthing | 5 comments

Call for Birth Short Stories

I love reading birth stories but sometimes I find them a little long. As someone who is still writing my 6 month old’s birth story, I recognize that it’s often really hard to decide what details to put in. How much back story is necessary? Which twists and turns in the story need to be put in? How many TMI details do I feel comfortable sharing? For the person telling the story, it is all gloriously relevant. Every action, reaction, in-action, every word, every intervention, every moment…it all coalesced into the birth experience of that mama. As a means of documenting a life-changing event it is understandable that mama wants to get all of it down. Not to mention, some of the back story or early seemingly insignificant events take on meaning as the story progresses, explaining why things were done or not done. I’ve read a lot of birth stories and I see how they change depending on the audience. The ones posted on forums within days of the birth are heavy on the details, plot point after plot point, this happened and then this happened. The ones I’ve read in Mothering magazine may have less details and more dialogue, more thoughtful reflection, more arc. It occurred to me that a shorter birth story forces you to really boil it down to the salient details. What stood out for you from that birth? Was it the time of day? The way the room looked, the shadows on the wall? Was it the care you received? The interventions you either asked for or refused? Was it the person who held your hand? Was it the baby’s gender? Or the baby’s health? If you had to tell your story in 100 words or less, what would you feel was absolutely vital to share? So I’m putting out the call. I want to hear your stories. I want to hear the most important parts of your birth stories, the parts that resonate with you right now, in this moment – because certainly the details that matter now might be totally different than the ones that mattered in the first days postpartum, or that will matter when your baby is 20. The Rules: Your story must be 100 words or less. I will not post stories that are 101 words or more. I will email you back and ask you to shorten them. I realize that this is a totally random arbitrary number but it gives us a framework so I’m going with it. You can do whatever you want in those 100 words. It can be a poem, it can be a paragraph, it can be point form, it can be a haiku. It can rhyme, it can be complete sentences or it can be fragments. As long as you put whatever matters to you in that story. If you choose to give it a title, the title will not be included in the word count. You can submit more than one story. Send one for every birth if you like. Or if you want to, you can write more than one about a single birth as long as you are clear that they are describing the same birth and you were interested in comparing points of view, exploring multifaceted emotions. My hope is that each one can stand on its own. I’m not interested in multiple short stories that just continue the same story; I don’t want a mini-series. If you write more than one about the same birth, please add a note indicating that both stories are for a single birth and I will post them together. You may include 1 picture with each story. Send your stories to aaronandalison@gmail.com by September 30, 2011 at midnight PST. Please add your name as you would like it to appear and the link to your blog, twitter or facebook pages if you want me to post them. Depending on how many I receive I will begin posting 5 each day starting October 1, 2011. I reserve the right to change the...

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On Being a Bad Blogger

Posted on Apr 10, 2011 in Featured | 15 comments

On Being a Bad Blogger

Some bloggers post every day or at least a couple of times a week. I’m not one of them. In case you hadn’t noticed the time lag, I just posted my son’s birth announcement SEVEN weeks after he was born. Initially my intention was to post about 5 times per month but eventually I just gave up on that and decided to be a bad blogger. Why be bad? Well, being a good blogger takes considerable effort. You have to post regularly, and hopefully that means often, but at the very least it should be regular. It takes time to write posts, especially when you’re just starting out and not really well practiced at coming up with ideas or writing short posts (I’m raising my hand here). In addition to the time spent writing, you might have to research your posts which takes longer. You have to read and respond to comments if you get them. You need to create community by reading and commenting on other blogs. And you have to drive traffic to your blog through social media. This is what it takes to be a good blogger. Recently Melody from Breasfeeding Moms Unite decided to call it quits because she was no longer willing to be a good blogger. It was taking her away from her children for too many hours during the day and it was impacting her ability to be the mom she wanted to be, especially regarding screen time for her children and herself. I really admired her open and honest post when she hung up her hat. I too am not willing to be a good blogger. I just can’t do it. I don’t have the time. I am homeschooling my son, I have a toddler and I just had a baby. I am not willing to have the kids watch tv all day and I can’t stay up at night to blog because sleep is already at a premium around here. But I don’t want to quit either. I want to write. It’s good for my adult brain to practice writing and I want to get better at it. It is something that is just mine in this life stage where I have so little me left at the end of the day. Unlike a journal however, blogging gives my writing context. Having some preset ideas of topics helps generate ideas. I also follow people on twitter and facebook that write on similar topics so I often find interesting things to read and also informs my writing. The format also gives me a reason to edit, spellcheck, refine my craft and add pictures. This doesn’t happen when scribbling in a notebook. And let’s not forget about the audience. Nobody reads your journal and you have to be highly skilled, polished and ambitious to be published in print. Blogging means that my writing can be part of a dialogue with other people rather than just something I do by myself. I love getting comments and subscribers. I love when other bloggers touch on similar topics. I love being inspired by other bloggers, by articles and studies I find through twitter or facebook. The audience makes me feel like I’m a part of something. For me, that is a specific something. When I sold my birth supply business, I felt a big hole in no longer being active in the birth advocacy community and I wanted to stay involved somehow. My focus has grown since that time and because this blog has a general focus that my business site didn’t have, I feel connected to the broader parenting community. I may not blog every day (or every week) and I may not have thousands of readers. I may not actually get the chance to write every post that rattles around in my head while I load the dishwasher and change diapers and play Uno. I don’t read all of the posts in my blog reader (mark all as read anyone?) but I do make an effort to comment on the ones I do...

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