Tag Archives: inspiration

Hey, Remember That Time I Casually Mentioned Breastfeeding to My Spirit Animal?


It’s been over two years since Emily weaned. I don’t write about breastfeeding or nursing anymore, unless it is in response to a comment on my nipple trauma post, still my most popular post on this blog.

It gratifies me to know I’ve left even a tiny mark on the world of breastfeeding health and lactivism.

I miss nursing, but I don’t really feel the urge to write about it anymore.  And unless I am doling out obnoxiously unsolicited advice to a new mom, I rarely talk about it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Since I nursed Emily until she was a little past four, when she naturally weaned herself, she remembers her time at the breast.  She occasionally mentions it to me.  She reminisces, and even wishes she could still be a cozy little nursling.

It is also gratifying to know my daughter has happy, safe, sweet memories of nursing and will hopefully grow up with positive attitudes about breastfeeding.

But I digress. . .

What I really wanted to tell you about was meeting my all time musical idol a few months back.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Regina Spektor fan.  My obsession for her cannot be stifled.

Regina is a Russian immigrant who came here as a child to escape religious persecution for being Jewish.  She is a classically trained pianist who writes insanely creative songs in the indie-anti-folk-alternative genre.

You might know her as the singer who wrote and performed the Orange is the New Black theme song.  She also recently did a cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps for the animated movie, Kubo and the Two Strings.

Her presence in the world brings me joy and hope.  It’s no hyperbole to say her music changed my life.  It may have even altered my DNA at a molecular level.

Regina toured this past year, and I got to see her three times.  THREE TIMES you guys!!!

I saw her in my home state, and in New York City at Radio City Music Hall in March. Then I got to see her in November in Northampton, MA. Through a confluence of rare and unusual events, a friend managed to obtain  backstage passes to meet Ms. Spektor after the show in Northampton.

OMGOMGOMG!!!  I know, right!!!

It was going to be really hard to play it cool, but that was the plan.  The entire show was like an out of body experience, and she sang Loveology and Pound of Flesh and Flyin‘ and a bunch of other oldies I’d never heard live before.

Oh, and also my friend and I were in the second row, just so, so, so close to this woman who has more artistic energy in a fingernail clipping than most people can imagine in their entire lifetimes! The show was unreal, and even if I’d never met Regina that night, it still would have pretty much been a perfect experience.

So, we stuck our backstage passes on our lapels after the show and waited in the appointed spot for the tour manager.  There were people hanging around who didn’t have backstage passes, and they didn’t even try to hide their envy as they asked how we got “on the list”.

Finally the tour manager came to get us, and he led us down some stairs to a chamber that was all brick and basement and lacking in any glamour or glitz.  And there she was.  Regina Freaking Spektor.  My spirit animal.

She greeted us with genuine warmth and kindness that set me instantly at ease.  She was soft spoken and almost shy.  We chatted about this and that and fuck tRump!

I got to tell her how I’d seen her at RCMH and how I heard her speak about Purim and the importance of resistance and how meaningful and prescient this had been to me at the time.  I shared with her that I worked for a Jewish agency and she seemed truly delighted by this little fact about me.

While we were talking, her tour manager came up to her with a bag of lentils.  She thanked him and turned back to us.  “If you ever need to make a heat pack in a pinch,” she said. “Lentils work great!  Stick them in a sock in the microwave.”

“Rice in a sock works good too,” I added.

“Oh yeah?”

“Sure,” I offered confidently.  “Came in handy during breastfeeding.”  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was sure I’d said the most flagrantly awkward thing on the planet.  Who meets their idol and starts talking about breastfeeding?  I apologized with a little laugh.

“No!” Regina said with a pleasant and unflappable grace.  “That’s so real.  Breastfeeding is real.  I remember. . .”  Somehow we got on another subject and then she signed my poster for my daughter and me.  Love and peace and fun.

She gave us hugs and we took photos together.

The whole encounter didn’t last more than ten minutes and then my friend and I were on the road back home.

I haven’t posted here in a long while, and I haven’t posted about breastfeeding in a longer while.  It occurred to me that this was a sharable little nugget.

I’m always searching for ways to integrate all these random bits of myself; to reconcile all of the parts of who I am to make something whole and awesome.  There is me as an artist, woman, mom, wife, worker, and friend.  There is me as someone who hopes and hurts and heals and hides.  There is me as a sexual goddess being, created of life.  There is me who is very private.  There is me who is very proud and enthusiastic.

In a way, it is so totally perfect that I managed to casually weave a thread of one of my life’s greatest passions into my tiny interaction with my greatest hero.  It felt awkward and crazy and just right.  To me, that’s what my integration is all about, and it was received with gracious humor that night.


Climbing Mt. Motherhood– My Hillary Step


A view of Mt. Everest, taken without permission from the inter webs…  didn’t look copywriten and there was no artist name…  so if this is your photo, please don’t sue.  xo!

The Hillary Step is a 40-foot wall of rock and ice at the top of Mt. Everest.  It lies in the “death zone,” the altitude above which there is not enough oxygen to sustain human life for more than a day or two.  By the time most climbers get to this point on Earth’s tallest mountain, their brains and bodies are starved for oxygen, making every step a burden.  Hypoxia can cause climbers to hallucinate, opening the door to danger, disaster, and death.

Or so I have read.

For the record, I have never been to Everest.  Nor do I climb mountains.  Ice, snow, and heights are so not my thing.  But over the past decade, I have become obsessed with stories of mountaineering, and read a dozen books on Himalayan expeditions.

What strength and hubris do climbers possess to scale a 29,000 foot mountain?  How do men and women leave their cozy homes and beloved families to put their lives into risk of dismemberment and death?  The tales of survival and rescue are grizzly, but also spellbinding and suspenseful.

I am also fascinated by the Sherpa.  This Buddhist folk has a rich and mystical culture. Without their hearty endurance for high altitude while carrying huge loads of gear and supplies, ascent of Everest would be impossible.

These stories take me out of my element to an exotic locale where I will most likely never travel.

At least not physically.

Mentally and emotionally, I think of Thursdays as my Hillary Step- my last big push before the summit of Friday, and the descent into the base camp of the weekend, where I can breathe a little easier.

Thursdays are my long day.  I kiss the kids good bye and do not see them for 11 hours.  By the time I get home, around 7:30 pm, the children are exhausted.  Both they and my husband are grumpy.  I am hungry and tired myself, but set that aside to help finish homework, nurse, read stories, and kiss good night.

I wonder what David Breashears, acclaimed mountaineer, film maker, and author of some my favorite Everest books, would say about me comparing my life as a working mom to scaling an 8,000 meter mountain?  No doubt, he would call me an “Armchair Alpinist,” or something of the like, with a haughty snort.  (Mr. Breashears, by the way, if you have googled yourself and hit on my blog, I think you are sexy as all hell and would love to shake your hand, even if you are snorting haughtily at me!)

This much I understand:  There is monumental mindfulness in mountaineering.

Climbers are totally in the present moment.  A climber puts his or her life, and the lives of anyone else on the mountain, at risk if they are not completely aware of their breath, body, and surrounding at every moment.  A misstep could trigger an avalanche or send them plummeting thousands of feet to their death.

My office is plastered with calendar pictures of Hawaii.  I have trained my brain to respond to a quick glance of these pictures of surf and palm trees with a little endorphin boost, to help me through stressful times.  Hawaii is my “happy place,” without a doubt.

But sometimes, I close my eyes and imagine myself clinging to a blue wall of ice and snow.  There is peace, silence but for the sound of my breath, raspy in my oxygen mask.  I hold on and calculate where next to plunge my axe, place my crampon.  I do so, with great deliberation, and then slide my carabiner up the fixed-rope, open my eyes, and move on to my next task.  (Yes, Mr. Breashears, in my imagination, I do climb with bottled oxygen and fixed-ropes. Mock away.)

So, no, people do not die if I happen to screw up at my job or in my home.  The only avalanche in social work is of paperwork, and at home the only thing I have resembling a crevasse is my never-ending pile of laundry.  But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t equally important for me to be mindful of each and every step.

From what I understand, there is euphoria at the top of the mountain, and joy in the art of climbing.  But this is not to say that every moment on the mountain is a joy. I’ve never read any climber write that they relished a bivouac at 27,000 feet with 100 mile per hour winds whipping around their tent, sleepless in minus 30 degree temps.

If that isn’t analogous to my journey as a parent, then I don’t know what is.

Originally posted on Momaste 1/21/13.  Sharing again at this time as a Throwback Thursday post because it just seems particularly applicable.  Thanks for reading, and I always love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!  xoxo.

The Ironic Emptiness in the Limbo Between Christmas and Whatever Comes Next


A fellow bloggess, Jen, over at Chopping Potatoes wrote a poem the other day about the aftermath of Christmas.

I recognized in her words the allusion to a familiar, hollow sense of things after all the paper is ripped away, dinner is eaten, and there is little left of the meticulous holiday prep that took weeks to assemble and but a few hours to descimate down to pie crumbs.

I recognized the ironic emptiness in that limbo after Christmas, and told her as much in my comment.

After our fairly secular Xmas, I often feel content with my gifts, and happy to have a few days off from work, there is also a sadness as we prepare to take down the tree, and pack it all in until next year.  It seems so far away, but will be here before we know it.

Looking at the empty boxes and bags strewn about among new socks, scarves, toys, and gadgets, I also feel overwhelmed by the task of putting things back to order.

Then there is the long, cold, dark march through winter.

While there are heaps of songs about preparing for and enjoying Christmas, there are no seasonal songs, at least not to my knowledge, about what comes after Christmas for those of us highly sensitive types.   If there were, they would probably be written by the Cure.

At my job we get about six holidays in the fall and winter, and then there is nothing until Memorial Day.  Sure, I take a random day off here or there, but it is a pretty bleak stretch.

It is also the time when, as a social worker, I see mental health issues become the most pronounced.  Kids, parents, and teachers are all sick of one another.  Children are edgy from being cooped up inside and not getting enough exercise.  Heating bills rise as the temperatures drop.  No one wants to go outside.  The bills from Christmas are coming in and no one can seem to catch a break.

Sometimes watching the depression and struggle of others causes me to fall victim to similar feelings of loneliness, helplessness, sadness.

It feels like we all get a little snow blind in the winter, lose our perspective and fumble to find the path.

While I find the first couple snows charming, and love to watch my children fromp around in the stuff, I’m not particularly into winter.  I don’t ski or snow shoe or skate, so there is really no love lost between winter and me.

I’m not religious, either.  I do not believe in God or Christ, as such, although I think there are many sacred miracles and wonders in the world.  I wonder sometimes if I were a “believer” if there would be something more for me in the season.  I know Christmas is supposed to bring the “Light of the World,” and since I was raised in the church, I know that this light brings comfort, structure and community for many.

But it just isn’t for me, and I’m just fine with that. . .

What I am getting around to saying, is that it feels like after we take down our trees and strip the house of all the lights, things can feel pretty bleak and barren.

I wonder if there are any ways to bridge the gap between the spectacle of the winter holidays and the splendor of spring?

I’m not into New Years Resolutions, but I am thinking about starting a new blog.  Someone once suggested that winter is “the season of the blogger” because we are all cooped up and have extra time for reading and writing blogs.  The Season of the Blogger.  I loved that.

I kind of want a space to do a little more creative fiction writing, poetry, prose, etc.  I also would like a forum to put up some of the weird and profound stuff I found while moving a couple months ago–  pieces I wrote in college or in my early 20s when I was studying writing, my brain ablaze with imagination, sexual energy, and emotional torture.  It might at least give me a portal into which I may escape during the hum and drum of another endless New England winter.

The thought of starting another blog and growing another audience is daunting, but it would give me something on which to focus and goals to set for myself.  Might be fun. . .

In the mean time, I am going to try to be extra mindful of that nagging little feeling of emptiness.  It is so easy for us to feel full to the brim when we are looking at our dazzling tree with all sorts of colorful gifts stacked up beneath.  But it should be equally as simple, should we choose, to feel full with all our blessings, whatever they are.  Being in the moment, with ourselves, with our love, with the bare trees outside our window, with air in our lungs. . .

It all should be just enough.

How about you?  How do you find yourself feeling after the bustle and hustle of the holidays?  How do you spend the winter?  Have you ever started another blog, and if so, do you have any tips for me?