Who do you look up to?

As a I move further into my adult life, and am making “bigger” moves, it occurs to me that I have never had a clear picture of who I look up to. I have never even articulated or seen the one person that I most revere or emulate.

Of course I have seen bits and pieces, namely in my parents. They are incredibly smart, industrious, practical, successful, and, most importantly, generous and kind people.

The reality of being an immigrant family in the 70s is that we were distanced from our extended family. I never grew up with my grandparents; I only got to know 2 of them a little bit and mostly right before they died. The aunties and uncles I knew growing up were not ‘blood’ family, but dear family nonetheless. They were also immigrated and distanced like us in blue AirMail, pre-What’s App family life.

I don’t know when I knew that I was a different person than my lineage, sex, and family history would have me be. But I remember having a realization, around 13 years old, that if I was going to be ‘me,’ I was going to have to invent that. While my teachers and parents were clearly fantastic humans and role models, they did things the right way, as did my aunties and uncles. And I knew I wasn’t meant for that.

Where was I going to find a mouthy, woman, activist/advocate, who also understood what it meant to be unliked? Maybe even to be unloved?

Some kids wanted to emulate Michael Jordan. The closest I found was Noam Chomsky. Though he sure as heck isn’t a brown woman, and most likely had a much wider berth in saying unpopular things!

Years later I learned of an ‘aunt’ that I had (wife of my mom’s cousin). I got to know her very briefly after our families reconnected, and then unfortunately she passed away 2 years later. What I learned about her is that she was an activist/advocate social worker who got her roots in Chicago. It sounded like she was pretty badass.

Where the heck was she when I needed a role model?!! Of course my mind rattled with all of the possibilities of her mentorship, what it could have meant to have known someone who picked a less lucrative and ‘weird’ career path, and of having been just a little more normal as a result.

When I think about my little inner self, and hopefully compel you to think about yours, how could knowing someone ‘like you’ in the world to emulate have changed you?

And if you never got to know that person, well, maybe you can be that person for someone else. Someone who is looking for your unique brand of doing shit your own way. Someone you haven’t met. Including yourself 😉

Happy Acupuncture Week 2019!

I love talking about how acupuncture has been part of my life for 16 years, even before @jp.boisvert brought it full circle to our clinic and home

We have used acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tui na, gua sha, and cupping for years to treat fevers, stave off colds, deal with whiplash and sticky shoulders, vanquish back pain and migraines, and generally manage our health for a long time

It’s true that we also take care to move our bodies and sleep, but I definitely credit acupuncture and Chinese medicine with our family’s pretty rocking health. And I credit @jp.boisvert for being our family doctor

He has some awesome stories about how acupuncture has flipped the switch for debilitating anxiety in teens, how a Chinese herbal formula worked like a charm in families trying to get pregnant, moxabustion and turning babies at the ends of pregnancy, and more!

More than just pain management, people are looking at acupuncture as a way to manage mood, anxiety, and to work alongside our other therapies like medications or nutrients that we use to adjust our chemistry.

Stay tuned this week for Acu Adventures!

#acupuncture #chinesemedicine #cuppingtherapy #guasha #tuina #ilivewithaneedler

What kind of loss is harder?

If you have been following along for a little while, you know that one of the things I have been ruminating and writing about is loss. We all know it in some way. And we will certainly know more. To live is to love, and also to lose.

It’s not uncommon for us to ‘rank’ loss. Which kind of loss is worse, changes us more deeply, is more worthy of grieving, or warrants talking about at all. Is the loss of an aging parent worthy of years of sadness? Can you be devastated by the way divorce changes your life? Are you allowed to grieve a welcome change like the birth of your healthy and living child?

A friend shared this article written by Camille Hawkins LCSW: Miscarriage or Stillbirth: Which Is Harder? It is a powerfully written perspective on just this thing: attempting to rank our grief. She shares some interesting insights into why some griefs may be shrouded in darkness, and why some may feel more survivable.

Reading this article allowed me to realize that one element of my storytelling has not surfaced, yet. I have waded through the grieving process, felt its depth, and received its tangible gifts. But what still lurks is: are the losses I (and our family) have experienced these past few years worthy of this much grief? And when should this story end?

Another thread that I have been grasping at for some time in my clinical work is shaping postpartum depression as a grief process. Not just that grief can be normal after birth, but that the true baseline IS grief. Postpartum wouldn’t just be worthy of grief, it would BE grief. Perhaps we could surround, hold, and integrate our grieving loved ones as if they had suffered loss.

Witness that they had suffered loss.

What would we do differently? When would we feel as if that story should end?

#neverendingstory #griefworkislifework #griefworkismywork

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One Long Night

As the days get shorter and the darkness much thicker, it sometimes feels like we are wading through one long night.

The other day my son asked me what my favorite shade of blue was. Sidebar- I love his questions. He didn’t ask me what my favorite color was, but rather my favorite shade of blue. I just love those little moments where you can see and feel their swift minds whirring.

So back to my favorite shade of blue. It’s twilight. You know that deep, resonant, silky, purply, dark blue when the sky moves from sunset to night. The world becomes more quiet; the crows have settled. But you are still very much alert and watchful. The mind is full. You are full.

This time of year feels like twilight to me. Rich and resonant. One full, long night.

Here’s to your long, luxurious night. Rest up for the new year, my friends; it’s going to be wild.

Would You Do It All Over Again?

This past weekend I got to spend some quality time with my Framily.  These people are my friend-family. My chosen family.  People who have literally been with me through some of the darkest days of my life thus far, and will also walk alongside me through the ones that await (cuz there’s always more).

So naturally we get into some murky stuff as we wade through the years and losses we have lived together.  We wondered aloud: do you have any regrets?  Would you do everything, as it has played out, over again?

We all felt like we were perfectly where we needed to be.  Even if where we are is uncomfortable or broke.  There are real teachings, gratitude, and self-love that we have cultivated from the time, money, opportunities, and people we have lost.  We wouldn’t be perfectly ourselves if we had chosen a different adventure.

For me-I may never have chosen myself otherwise.

And I will tell you what…now that I have, I am never going back.  I feel as well, as strong, and as on fire as I was at 21.  Half a lifetime ago.

Our greatest failures, heartbreaks, and losses can be our best medicine.

They may possibly be the only medicine that matters.

**As always, I turn it back to you.  Would you do it all again?**

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There’s a little more to this story that I shared with my Muse-letter followers.  You can join the conversation by subscribing here

Doing Hard Things Could Be Easy

Recently, I did something that was really hard for me.  In fact, I was completely unprepared for it.  And- some might say- unqualified.  They wouldn’t be wrong.  But other people’s opinions have rarely stopped me from doing what I believe in, love, or am just plain ol’ fired up to do.  #firestarter #changeagent

you can do hard things_Page_2

I realized a few things in the process:

  • I believe that I can do hard things
  • In fact, I believe that I should do hard things
  • And more importantly, I believe that I should do things that make me absolutely afraid and uncomfortable

I am already 15,443 days old.  The average lifespan is 27,375.  What the hell else am I going to do?  Sit around and wait?

What are you going to do?  #whatchagonnado

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If you want to hear more storytelling, and occasionally something witty or compelling, I write a Muse-letter.  You can subscribe here: Subscribe to My Muse-letter

It Should Have Been Me…

Have you ever flashed back to crazy, possibly dangerous, times in your life and thought: “holy crap, I should have died!”

You shudder.  Maybe you look over at your kid, your partner, your cat, or even at your own hands.  You feel your heart beating in your chest.  You feel your breath slide in and roll out of your body.  And in that swift and fantastic moment, you are so fully alive.

Recently I wrote to my Muse-letter followers about being not-dead-today, and being fully alive.  Digging deep and getting a little murky, as I love to do, while contemplating this: what moves you to step boldly from your comfort zone? 42974306_351407882270930_3416594696280501552_n(1)

I share some of my story and thoughts in my piece, and you can subscribe to my list here: Subscribe to My Muse-letter

Why Does My Brain Feel Like it is Leaking?

An interesting article was published this past Summer on the very real, little-discussed changes that occur in the brain of a pregnant, postpartum, and/or caregiving person. Mommy-brain-2

There are a number of rapid and monumental changes that happen to the portion of our brains that control social-emotional processes or the “ability to atttribute emotions and mental states to other people- key to raising a human.”

“The more brain change the mothers experienced, the higher they scored on measures of emotional attachment to their babies, a finding that echoed past studies. And the changes in most brain regions remained two years later.”

Whoa.  Two years?!

What is even more fascinating is that this change was most profound in the parents who were also pregnant, but was not limited to them.  Caregivers other than the birthing parent,  including fathers, experienced some of these same changes that correlated with how much ‘exposure’ they had to the babies and children.

For many of us who have been pregnant, postpartum, and/or a parent, we already know that this is true.  It’s not just our bodies that change.  Something else changes that never goes back to its original configuration: our brains.  Maybe all the time we spend consumed with getting bodies back is more about getting our brain back; a more tangible and socially-acceptable pursuit.  All the while knowing, in the murky recesses of our changed brains, that the worry, the conjured scenes of certain death, and deep guilt over every imperfect moment will never leave us.

What if we better understood what was happening to our brains and not just our bodies?  Would it change our relationship to postpartum and parenting?  Would it reframe what we experience as depression, anxiety, or plain-old feeling like we are losing our minds?  Would we reach for help, talk more openly, or simply settle into it more easily?

Would you?

This spins other spirals of thought for me also.  Is it possible for this effect to be compounded?  If we have more than one pregnancy, more than one postpartum, and, truly, more ‘exposure,’ do our brains continue to change? Do the changes add up? Do these spaces in our brains grow deeper and wider?

I wrote a new installement of my Muse-letter, due to break later this week, before I even read this article.  Ironically, it touches upon parallel notes of exposure, changes, and leakiness of our hearts and emotional selves.  And, of course, I have to ask: what is the gift?

What new wild and remote expanses of our minds can we now saunter through that were not accessible before?  In what ways can we empathize, understand, or simply be with our fellow humans that were not as effortless?

Children and change have a lot in common. Endless. Relentless.  Generous with their gifts.

What are your favorite gifts?

#pregnancybrainisreal #postpartumbrainisreal #parentingbrainisreal #changeisreal #giftsarereal

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Identity and Being All Things

At times it seems like our world is hyperfocused on identity. As if we were ever just one thing.  Some days, I have more labels than I care for .  duality

American.  Indian.  Person of Color.   Woman.  Mother.  Partner.  Daughter.  Sister.  Working parent.  Fierce friend. Heteronormative. Doctor. Midwife.  Teacher. Writer. Witch.  Outspoken.  Boss. Bitch.

They are not just names, but roles and ways of showing up in the world.  Some are chosen, some assigned by others.  But ultimately ways of being seen, heard, and having an existence carved out.

Inhabiting space.

Those labels and roles can also feel like work.  Heavy and straining, rather than freeing or illuminating. How can one person be so many things to so many people?  How can so many different people inhabit one person?

In truth, we are much more pliable and adaptable than we think.  Some of these roles are our backbone, some are more like jewelry.  Some really hold us up, others make us look good.  All of them help us step out and show up.

I think a lot about grit and resilience.  What makes some of us able to bear the weight and keep walking, and others to falter or collapse altogether?  What does it mean to be resilient?

Perhaps some of these roles and labels are part of being and becoming resilient.  The more roles we play, the more diversified our skill set.  The more directions in which we are tugged, the more nimble our footwork.

And perhaps resilience is creating a life where these roles and labels can all be present and true, and they are neither burdensome nor fracturing.  Like subatomic particles that push and pull on one another, but ultimately take their place and contribute to the integrity and design of something whole and complete.

#inhabitspace #bemagnetic #resilience

subatomic particle

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Flossing…not just a dance move

You have probably been reprimanded, just as I have, by your hygienist and dentist to floss more.  The reasoning that we are often given is that it helps agitate and dislodge the tartar and plaque buildup, reduces the resulting and/or ongoing inflammation in your gums, and reduces the chances of gum disease.  All seems pretty true to me.  If you leave crusty crap bumping up against soft tissue, the tissue is going to get angry.

What might not be part of the discussion is that flossing is also preventive for some downstream effects that we might not associate with it.  For example, blood sugar irregularities, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  Again, it all seems pretty true to me.  If you leave angry tissue captured in your body, and especially in the entry point to your entire digestive tube (think: end to end), it’s going rogue, right?

Check out this article for more details: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/flossing-inflammation-blood-sugar-balance

And really, just floss

PS- Yes, I am a total cornball.  Consequences of being a mom to a 7 yo 🙂