So apparently the Germans have a specific term for the final days of pregnancy...it's called "Zwischen" which translates to "between" in english. I learned this interesting fact from an article I currently have saved on my phone browser along with 9 other articles - most related to the final days of pregnancy and what to expect during the onset of labor. It might be helpful context to share I had a planned c-section with my son due to a condition called placenta previa, thus, this is my first time preparing for actual labor.
I have no doubt Google analytics has pegged me as a pregnant woman on the verge of popping given my search history. In fact, next time I meet someone new and want to get to know them, I'll skip the small talk and just ask if we can exchange phones for a minute. One glance at their open browser tab(s) will likely provide much insight on their current life goals and priorities, albeit quite intrusive, an efficient way to learn a lot in little time.
Just check out your open browser tabs. Do they not shed light on what matters to you most in life right now? Mine certainly read me like an open book. Here's proof:
Tab 1) 10 Symptoms and Signs Labor is Near
Tab 2) Did Stripping the Membranes Help Induce Labor
Tab 3) The Last Days of Pregnancy - A Place of In Between
Tab 4) Red Rasberry Leaf Tea = Contractions
Tab 5) Wikipedia - Ben-Hur a Tale of Christ
Tab 6) A Long, Cold Road to Bethlehem
Tab 7) Natural Ways to Bring on Labor
Tab 8) Extreme Fatigue in Late Pregnancy
Tab 9) Preparing Your Child For a New Sibling
Tab 10) Leftover Hambone Soup Recipe
Without ever meeting me, someone could easily assume I am a very pregnant woman with a planning personality and interest in biblical history. I can't help but chuckle at Tabs 2, 4 and 7 as they blatantly point to my desire to control the timing of a very uncontrollable situation! For the sake of time and continuity, I will digress from expanding on all my open tabs, but do want to highlight Tab 3 where I first learned about zwischen. According to the author, who is a trained midwife and doula,
"The last days of pregnancy are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world."
She goes on to say,
"These last days of pregnancy are a distinct biologic and psychological event, essential to the birth of mother."
The birth of a mother.
I'm captivated by this concept.
How many of us recognize the birth of a mother as well as the birth of her child? This article has definitely given me a new perspective on the dichotomous nature of birth since two lives are forever shaped by this event. I can certainly attest to this new birth in my own experience becoming a mom. The "me" before entering motherhood is distinct from the mom"me" I am becoming.
Becoming is the key word here.
I have mom"me" milestones just like my son has growth and development milestones. Right now I am working on the potty training milestone and just like babies and toddlers, I have regressed in my progress at times. As I approach my current pregnancy milestone of zwischen and prepare to welcome this baby, I am also preparing for the birth of my new self with an expanded heart for two. Bring on the birth of this baby and the rebirth of this mama!
It is 1:41am as I begin to write and I have been wide awake for an hour. At first I just stayed in bed twisting and turning waiting for sleep to find its way back to my eyelids, but alas, my eyelids are wide open now.
I contemplated organizing my closet with this unexpected burst of energy until I looked around and saw everything neatly hung and folded reminding me of my urge to purge while organizing my clothes and shoes a week prior. If my impeccable closet wasn't an obvious sign my "nesting" instincts have kicked in, tackling the random "Odds n Ends" laundry bag should have been my next clue. Basically, I throw small socks, thongs, crinkled undershirts, and all the little laundry annoyances in a black hole of a bag after folding the bigger, easier to deal with clothes until my "Odds n Ends" bag is full.
It's been full for months.
I assume the same nervous excitement waking me tonight is responsible for my uncharacteristic initiative to deal with "Odds n Ends" laundry bag earlier this evening. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love laundry and dishes (wink, wink). Would you believe I folded 36 pairs of socks? 36! Given we live in temperate San Diego, I wear flip flops and flats most the time so socks aren't high on my priority list. No wonder my husband can never find his socks. He is going to feel like he hit the jackpot tomorrow when he opens his brimming sock drawer in all its abundance!
If only I could bottle up the abundance of energy pulsing through my veins in these last few weeks of pregnancy. I would take shots of it to stay fueled during the round-the-clock nursing hours following birth. Oh well, at least I can use this pent-up energy to deal with the "Odds n Ends" of life now so I can fully focus on snuggle time once baby comes! Until then, I will do my best to manage my odd behavior at the end of pregnancy (like staying up writing a blog post until 3am)!
While sitting in church this morning, I realized my true appreciation for the yellow Play-Doh stashed in my purse. This moldable fun has helped my son endure doctor's appointments, lunch dates, plane rides and pretty much any activity requiring a toddler to sit for more than two minutes.
What could have been an hour rummage through my purse (and let's be honest, the woman's purse next to me) turned into a calm and peaceful service. In fact, I can even tell you what the sermon was about which is proof yellow Play-Doh can do wonders for focus!
Focus, I am learning, is a precious and elusive gift for moms with young ones. When our attention is not being summoned by our child/children, our own minds serve as a constant reminder of all we want or need to do. Yet, just as I begin to let my mind get sidetracked, an eager fist reaches over and hands me some yellow dough with a simple request to roll a "Ba.""
And snap I am back...living in the moment as I roll that yellow ball and hand it over to my little sidekick. Suddenly it hits me, that yellow Play-Doh is just as important for me as it is for him because it forces me to live creatively in the moment and focus on the work at hand, a creative habit I am constantly trying to foster amidst the myriad of distractions vying for my limited energy and attention.
To my fellow creative mamas, may you find your "Yellow Play-Doh" this week and live creatively in the moment. When tempted to give in to the pressures of the day, simply take a deep breath and focus
on the work at hand. If your lucky, you may just create your next masterpiece or at the very least, a well rounded "Ba" and hopefully, a well rounded "Ma" in the process!
Currently, there is a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette and pair of half chewed up shoes accompanying me at my kitchen table. They are part of a smattering of odd end items that have somehow made their way to a space I've made multiple efforts to keep organized.
I'll just move to another room so I can focus, I naively think to myself. Within seconds, it becomes clear I need to learn how to focus amidst clutter. As I survey my options, I realize I'm not the only one who feels out of place. The bathroom trash can is on top of the entertainment center, the blow up pool with rainbow balls is the new centerpiece on the coffee table, and there are Trader Joe's bags strewn across the kitchen floor.
And it hits me...I trail in the wake of a toddler.
While I tried to pick up after each of my son's many "explorations" this morning, motherhood is teaching me the art of losing control.
Take the raspberry vinaigrette for example. After reaching the 20 minute threshold of "toddler grocery shopping patience", I decided to take my chances and keep shopping for a few more items. Somewhere between the frozen peas and peanut butter crackers, I could sense my son's patience beginning to wane
I pushed on...after all, I still needed the raspberry vinaigrette...or so it seemed.
Within seconds of entering the dressing aisle my son had practically maneuvered his way out of his seat and into the back of the cart to get the much anticipated peanut butter crackers.
Long story short, I left the store with an open box of crackers stashed in my purse (paid for) and a kiddo with peanut butter melted across his face. At least we prevented a public melt down for both of us.
As for the chewed up shoes, well, that is the result of having two 90 pound dogs who think every new toy, book, and pair of kid shoes is free game. Fortunately, they only chewed the Velcro and left the rest intact which would explain the yarn and needle also atop my kitchen table.
Full disclosure, I am an organized person learning how to navigate the messes of life with grace. Grace for the process and also grace for myself.
Creative Habitat is one of my saving graces as it provides an outlet to share my creative gift of writing and, hopefully, inspire other busy moms to carve out a little grace space in their own day.
Whatever your creative gift may be, may you learn how to focus amidst clutter and embrace the art of losing control! This post, after all, is a result of carving out creative space, clutter and all.
Life stretches and pulls us in many directions. Whether we are facing struggles or joys, life is always inviting us to enjoy the ride.
Certain moments in life lighten the heart and bring joy to even the weariest of souls. No matter what struggles may be clouding the horizon, one can't help but smile when a blanket turns into the best ride in town and squeals of joy echo throughout the house. These moments stretch the imagination to think about the world from a new perspective.
This weary soul is here to confess the first 17 months of motherhood and 7 years of marriage to a busy medical student/resident has stretched me in ways I didn't realize I could be stretched.
Just when I think I am stretched to the limit and ready to spring back into place, I feel the tug of life pulling in all directions again. A little time passes and I realize there is no "springing back" only growing forward.
So here I find myself, embracing my new form, trying to reconcile what once was and what now is.
I confess I am a woman stretched thin, but that just means I can cover more ground...similiar to this blanket my son is riding with glee.
Sometimes, we all just need a little bit of glee to stretch our creative muscles and develop our creative habits.
Dancing is therapy for my soul! I was reminded of this very helpful coping skill while facing the pile of dishes I have been ignoring for the past two days. Dishes and laundry are the bain of my existence...and yet a reality of life. It seems as soon as one load is put away it is time to reload. Round and round the cycle goes.
In an effort to come up with a creative solution to this weekly dilemma, I decided to go round and round myself. While dancing in the kitchen, I can feel my aggravation turn to motivation.
Put a few dishes away...pirouette.
Scrubb a few plates...chaine turn.
Dry a few sippy cups...grand adagio!
And voila, the dishes are conquered for the night and my soul is replenished. Two birds with one stone...or should I say two loads with one pirouette. Whichever idiom you prefer, I have decided I certainly prefer dance with my dishes and plan to adopt this creative habit so I can turn loads of work into loads of fun.
Wishing you creative solutions to conquer whatever load you may be carrying.
While clearing some of the notes from my iPhone this morning (in an effort to declutter), I came across a hilarious...and all too familiar memory from early motherhood. Mind you, I am still in early motherhood given my son is only a wee 15 months...but this was written in one of the "Reality Check" moments during the first few weeks of new motherhood...a special and extremely vulnerable season for all new mamas. Fortunately, I was able to find the humor in the humility, a creative habit I continue to develop daily!
1.22.15 - I GOT THIS
Inspired? Why YES! I am reemerging into my pre post pardom self. Today I took a shower, actually styled my hair and put on make up, most of it in the car...a habit I thought I'd break with a new passenger, but alas, a soul can only conquer so much audaciousness in one day.
Take the cheeky black pantsuit number I discovered on my TJ Max shopping venture, capitalizing on "nap time," no doubt. As I rocked my new accessory...no I'm not referring to the vanity necklace I previously bought in the Kohl's Junior's section...despite the fact I am clearly no longer a "junior" but in charge of one...
Wait, were was I? There seems to be a consistent disconnect between synapses when the brain has only been charged for 2-3 hours at a time going on 9 weeks...so bare with me when it comes to run ons...giving I'm running on fumes myself.
Take my rookie stroller skills which are "bare" and raw as can be. After two egress attempts to awkwardly push the heavy store door forward with my left hand while simultaneously pulling my new four wheeled companion with my right, I found myself wedged between the two when the saintly customer behind me decided to grace me with her offer.
"Let me help you," never sounded so direct...so necessary. As she reached out with her free hand...a luxury I used to take for granted...I felt my pride stir within as I finally wiggled free from my predicament. "Oh thanks, but I got it," I responded with a grin...despite the unspoken truth which was all too obvious!
Car seat "Click" and errand number one is done! Will the somber slumber of my precious child allow for another? I decide to take my chances, which brings me to the "find" of my day on errand...no Feat, number two!
As I rummage through hanger after hanger of mismatched floral leggings, a stunning, black jumper reveals itself. The pleated pants and seductive neckline appear far to elegant for the red clearance $19.99 price tag, as though JLo herself decided to donate to my cause...
Pure, unadulterated desire to turn my husband's head...without two plastic flanges pumping the goods.
It's terrifying and liberating all at once to remove my well warn yoga pants and cotton tee to slip on an actual form fitted outfit...not to mention one in my pre-preggo size. I hold my breath as I pull the zipper, and despite the last half inch cinch, WHALA! Sexy mama is possible...at least until nap time ends and my yogi's are coated with spit up...
Until then, I will revel in the joy of splurging and purging...splurging on my whimsical ideal of modern motherhood and purging my exhaustion and disillusionment for just one more hour. (Stirring in the stroller)
Correction, one more minute...
I sigh with relief as I make my purchase and notice a stroller veteran leaving the store. As she backs into the double doors and pulls the stroller seamlessly behind her, I take note and do the same.
I feel the swagger as I walk through the parking lot with restored confidence. "I got this..." "OH YEAH, I GOT THIS!"
"There's a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub against each other." ( Tharp, The Creative Habit, pg.9)
Dead Twyla Tharp,
I think your parents must have known you were going to be a creative genius when they named you. I mean honestly, how can you have a name like Twyla and not stand out?! Being the curious, creative being that I am, I looked up the meaning of Twyla.
Well, you have certainly woven the paradox of creativity and habit and found "a cord" with me. I think if you read this, you would like my play on words. Maybe someday you will. But even if you never do...thank you.
Thank you for weaving your creative gift of writing and conceptual thinking to publish "The Creative Habit" which has had profound significance on my life. I am dedicated to developing my own creative habits so I can use the gifts I have been given to serve our ultimate Creator and help other women do the same.
God bless you Twyla, for you have blessed me.
I love your choreography. Dance has always been my outlet. Even though I am beyond the prime dancing age, I will dance until my knees buckle! It is a creative habit I refuse to lose!
Living life in the fast lane? Need a reprieve? This sign is the answer, at least for me. I know as soon as I cross under, the Pacific Ocean awaits me filling my spirit with waves of anticipation.
Having returned from our Southeast Asia trip and back to the reality of daily life, I found myself rushing constantly to try to "keep up" with "it all" over the past 3 weeks. Then, somewhere between my second load of laundry and fourth time picking up toys today, I decided it was time to visit the end of the freeway and embrace the start of a new "free way" where my mind and spirit can be free of distractions.
So here we are, my son and I, parked at Ocean Beach where I can finally focus on my creative habit of writing while he sleeps in the back...
Hold that thought...was sleeping in the back! Time for some sand between our toes and endless giggles...
So grateful for times like these to get away from the constant "rush" and live freely in the moment. May you find the end of your freeway this week, even if just for a rejuvenating hour! Your soul will thank you!
Life presents us with many opportunities to try new things. Sometimes we seek these opportunities, other times they seek us. Such was my recent encounter with diving.
Growing up in Colorado and living in the temperate San Diego climate has made me an outdoor enthusiast. Despite my love for nature and living 20 minutes from "Big Blue," diving has never been on my radar. I love running by the ocean, swimming in the ocean, and taking in the beautiful ocean sunsets, but diving...never had an interest.
Rewind about 7 months when diving first approached me in the form of a Groupon my husband purchased. "Guess whose going diving?" he asked me with glee? After 7 sleepless months, I was still trying to keep my head above water as a new mom, I figured he was joking.
He preceded to list off dates for our dive certification classes and began entering them in my phone. I stared at him in disbelief. Did he actually expect me to attend dive certification classes when I was drowning in exhaustion?
A few weeks later, I found myself in further disbelief as we sat in the back of a scuba shop listening to our instructor review buoyancy control while I rocked our son to sleep in his car seat. I'm pretty sure we are in the minority of people willing to 1) sign up for diving certification within the first year of parenthood and 2) bring our baby to class with us!
Our coursework transitioned to a full 8 hour day of enclosed pool diving (now I know what sardines feel like). This was followed by a "beach dive" (where you walk a quarter mile to the ocean in full dive gear (including tank) and brave the crashing waves upon entry. Mind you, visibility is not great in the freezing Southern California water and even in the clearest conditions, all you can see is some kelp and maybe a Garibaldi, if lucky. Sound like fun? I can assure you it was anything but!
In short, you must complete 4 open water dives before you are officially certified. I met every dive with resistance. After all, diving intruded on my life with no regard for my claustrophobia, fear of drowning, and overall lack of confidence breathing under water!
Ironically, when each dive day came, I found myself suiting up, ready to overcome my "fear mindset." One dive after the next, I began to feel more comfortable in my underwater skin. "Keep the end goal in mind," I kept telling myself thinking of the Southeast Asia trip my husband had planned.
Despite my initial trepidation, I am proud to say I now have my advanced diver certification and have swam alongside the sea turtles, tropical fish, sharks and sprawling rainbow coral in their creative habitat. While diving has been amazing (outside of my Southern California experience) the best part has been the transferable life lessons I have learned as a result. I plan to incorporate these life lessons as I move forward in the development of Creative Habitat.
1. Always have a partner for support (and to share the experience.).
2. Expect the best but be prepared for challenges.
3. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and be intentional about your next move.
4. Always keep your wits about you and learn how to function in an ever changing environment.
5. Get the best "gear" possible. Do not settle for less than the best.
6. Preserve energy! To maintain peak "buoyancy", do not carry extra weight, only what is necessary.
7. Sometimes you have to go with the flow.
8. Trust your intuition.
9. Keep your mask and vision clear!
10. Dive in with confidence, the adventure is worth it!
Next time life presents you with an opportunity to try something new or develop your creative gifts, I hope you will DIVE IN!