The poems begin 8 months before conception and end a few months after the birth of my daughter. Here is the description:
“In this new book of poems from author Angelle Conant, she bares her soul and chronicles her first pregnancy full of ups and downs with wit, honesty and joy. It contains insights and stories from the early days of waiting for a little blue plus sign all the way to the birth of her daughter and beyond. But it is more than just personal anecdotes – this book of poems is an essential companion on the journey that is pregnancy. It will comfort and enlighten while simultaneously normalizing all the changes that are taking place within a pregnant woman’s body, heart, and mind. With each poem, an illustration shows the stage of pregnancy at which it was written. As the woman’s body on the page grows with new life, so does our understanding of a pregnant woman’s journey. In her unique and wise voice, the author speaks to the universal themes and experiences of bringing new life into the world. If you or someone you know is pregnant, this is the book for them. BONUS! This book also contains an appendix full of positive affirmations for pregnancy and motherhood that were created and used by the author.”
If you do procure a copy, I would love to hear your thoughts via email or a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you’d like to be notified of any project updates, please subscribe.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about being afraid of ‘hard work.’ In my research for that post, I came across a lovely piece called “Learning to Work” by Virginia Valian (which can be read for free as a PDF here). In it she discusses trying to complete her thesis and overcoming her own mental obstacles. She decides to commit to a certain amount of ‘work time’ every day. The only amount of time that doesn’t overwhelm her is 15 minutes. And so she works on and eventually completes her thesis in small, manageable chunks.
This was unbelievably eye opening for me. Before my daughter was born, I could only work on my creative pursuits in large, uninterrupted chunks of time. I had to be in the right ‘mood’ and feeling ‘inspired.’ I also had to be feeling exceptionally well physically. As you can imagine, not a whole lot was completed or even worked on. Just as Ms Valian would procrastinate on her thesis by volunteering and sleeping, I would procrastinate by cleaning, running errands, organizing, etc. Whatever creative project I was trying to work on was just too overwhelming – not to mention the many mental obstacles I faced about worth and value.
After my daughter was born, it was pure survival mode for months. Then we moved. More survival mode. Then we slowly crawled our way out of survival mode and into the adjustment period of having a new, wonderful little person in our lives. It was here that I started to want to work on my creative projects again. And at first, I tried to go back to my old way of working – large, uninterrupted blocks of inspired time. Ha! My time was now such a hot commodity I knew that if I ever wanted to do some of ‘my things’ I would have to prioritize my time. One by one, ‘priorities’ and distractions fell off my list. Bye constantly clean house. Hello messy, fun times with my daughter. Bye folded laundry, hello haphazard pile of clean clothes. Bye 20 blogs that I follow, hello cherished few. Goodbye filler TV and movies, hello books I want to read. Now I at least had my priorities straight and some time to myself, but the ‘hours’ of creativity I still felt I needed to complete anything were elusive.
As I contemplated how to get anything done, my urge to be creative grew and I was drawing or singing or writing in the small moments here and there that I could find. In my mind, these small stolen moments were satiating but not enough to ever complete anything. And then I read “Learning to Work” and it changed my little world. No longer were these 15 minutes of creativity just scraps to feed the hungry beast inside me. They became wholesome, fulfilling sustenance that not only filled me up but would allow me to create AND complete something. Ms Valian created her 15 minutes for herself with a timer and increased her productivity. My 15 minutes are created by my new life as mom to a toddler and I’ve been more productive than ever.
As prolific author Nora Roberts says “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.” I might only write a couple of paragraphs, or create just the melody to a song or paint a small corner of a canvas but it’s at least progress. And it’s progress without all the mental anguish and endless procrastination because if I’m ever going to get anything done, it has to be in the small moments and I kind of like it like that. Afterall, all these little moments will eventually add up to something big. 😉
What do I have against hard? Ever since my daughter was born, all I’ve been looking for is easy – the path of least resistance. I’ve shunned hard hard. So what is it about hard that I’m so afraid of?
My dear husband makes my life harder in many ways. I’m a neat freak, he’s…not. I love veggies and tofu, he… doesn’t. I’m a saver, he’s…not. But sharing my life with him is so worth the ‘hard.’ There has been so much joy and healing and fun and unconditional love because of him. And it’s only the beginning.
My daughter makes my life harder too. But she is so unbelievably worth it as well. Owning a home makes my life harder but it’s worth it. Being a stay-at-home mom, in many ways, makes my life more difficult, but it’s also worth it. Breastfeeding. Cloth diapers. Co-sleeping. Trying to get my daughter to nap on her own. Cooking unprocessed, whole foods. Eating low sugar. Self-care. Exercising. Meditating. Creating memories. All of these things require substantial effort and make my life ‘harder.’ But they also, in many ways, make it much easier at the same time. And they’re all things that I have chosen consciously and created within my life. And they are all worth it. And somewhere along the lines of exhaustion and fatigue, I’ve forgotten that hard isn’t a bad thing. I’ve forgotten that just because the path is hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path for me. If I’m presented with a hard path and an easy path, the universe isn’t telling me to take the easy path just because it’s easier. Giving birth to my daughter was hard but so worth it. So worth it, in fact, it didn’t even register as hard. It registered as a challenge but one I was happy to meet. And somewhere along the line I have stopped being happy to meet these challenges. All I want is easy. All I want is effortless.
Sometimes I think about my life if I had never gotten married and had children, almost as a fantasy. And when I’m in a dark place, so weary, tired and run-down, it seems like a wonderful fantasy. But thinking about it now when I’m only slightly weary and exhausted, it just seems sad and devoid of the chaos and mess of life. This life that I have, that I have chosen for myself and created consciously, it’s hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is time for me to stop choosing the easy path simply because it is easy. Sometimes that will be all I can do and that’s okay and forgiving myself for that and being gentle with myself will be the hard part. Because even when I take the easy path there is always a hard part that goes with it. So no matter what I choose I’m taking the easy/hard path or the hard/easy path. Writing a book while being a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious 1 year old who doesn’t seem to want to sleep without her mom next to her will be hard. But it will be so worth it. Unschooling my daughter for the next 17 years will be challenging but it will so be worth it. Making time for my self care is freaking hard but it’s worth it. And making time for dates with my husband is hard but worth it. Making time for friendships and family is hard but worth it. It is time I stopped running away from hard. It’s not something to be afraid of – it is something I have chosen consciously, to create a life full of love, chaos, fun, mess and even challenge. Because an easy life, though seemingly wonderful at times, is boring for me and not the life I will choose for myself. This is the life I choose – time to go live it.
One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.
This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).
I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).
This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world.
MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.
What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief, caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.
And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.
Oh, and one final thing:
YOU ARE VALUED.
YOU ARE NEEDED.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
YOU ARE LOVED.
All my love,
*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.
A while back I wrote a post of positive affirmations for my first pregnancy. Recently, I’ve been struggling and overwhelmed with Motherhood in general and when the original paper I wrote my pregnancy affirmations on fell out of my journal, I knew what I needed to do. Some of the affirmations are the same but many are new. We mothers have the most amazing and, at times, overwhelming, job around. May these affirmations remind us to be kind and gentle with ourselves and, in so doing, teach our children to do the same.
I am enough. I am strong, wise, grounded, kind and patient.
I respect my need for alone time.
I ask for help easily and with an open heart.
I respect my limits and needs.
I love and accept myself just the way that I am.
I focus on the things that truly matter and let go of the rest.
I embrace an imperfect and messy but happy and love-filled life.
I am doing the best that I can and my best is good enough.
I am a great mother.
No matter what happens, everything is going to be alright.
Your dear husband is probably wondering what this ‘self-gift’ is all about so please be sure to read this letter out loud.
This year I am gifting myself the power of “HELP NO.” (Get it, ’cause it sounds like “HELL NO.”) But really it is a two part gift of “HELP” and “NO.”
Let’s start with the gift of “NO.” Too many times you say ‘Yes,’ or more frequently say nothing at all and therefore OK, when you really mean “No.” And the two people who suffer the most because of this are you and Bill. You because you end up doing things you don’t want to because you previously agreed to it and then you’re angry and resentful or depressed. Bill because he is the one you most often say ‘Yes’ to when you really don’t want to because you think it’ll make him happy but you just end up angry and passive-aggressive with him.
So this year it’s time to start saying “No” (including to yourself). Which means you’ll have to start really taking the time to think about things before you respond instead of just saying “Yeah, OK, whatever.” I know! I know what you’re thinking! This requires time: time to put Ellie down, put your to-do list down and get in touch with yourself to know what it is you truly want. This bring me to the next part of the gift: “HELP.”
You need to start asking for help. Help with Ellie, help with the dishes, help with whatever it is you need help with so that you can get these 10 or 20 minutes EVERY DAY. These 20 minutes help you to stay sane and happy and in touch with your truth. And really, 20 minutes a day ain’t a lot to ask. 20 minutes a day for one year is less than 1.5% of the whole year! That’s a helluva deal for increased happiness. And it doesn’t always have to be Bill whom you’re asking for help. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You have wonderful family and friends who would LOVE to watch Ellie for 20 minutes or take her for a 20 minute walk. You are not superwoman and that is perfectly OK. In fact, it’s normal. So this is my gift to you – the power of “NO” and asking for “HELP.” Use it wisely.
All my love,
P.S. Eating better and starting yoga again might help too. <3
Happy Holidays Everyone! May your days be full of love, laughter, and joy! <3
This pregnancy, being our first, has been a whirlwind of changes and some fears have crept up in the process. Fear of judgment in my choices about parenting and birth. Fear that I’m not doing enough or not doing it right. Fear that things won’t go ‘perfectly’ or be what I think it should be. Fear that I won’t be strong enough to birth this baby. Fear that my body will betray me. Fear that I will betray myself.
After recognizing that all these fears were present (and bogus), I needed to put something better in their place and so I’ve created a few affirmations to do just that:
I am enough. I am strong, wise, and grounded.
I did my best and my best is enough.
I have done and am doing the best I can physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for my baby and my best is good enough. This baby will be whole and healthy and exactly what this baby is meant to be.
I listen to my inner wise voice. I stand strong in my truth and power.
I love my body. I trust my body. I am grateful for my body. My body is enough.
My body is producing the perfect size baby for me to birth naturally and easily.
I listen to my inner wise voice and all is well.
I am strong and resilient. I persevere.
I have faith in my strength.
I love and accept myself just the way that I am.
I honor my inner wisdom and stand strong in my power and truth.
I am a good mother.
I love this baby. I honor this baby. I am so grateful for this baby.
I honor and embrace my excitement and joy for this baby.
Whether or not you are pregnant, may these affirmations help you to recognize how amazing and strong you are as well. <3
The husband and I had a heated discussion after watching a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. And although the almost argument was due to miscommunication and misunderstanding (as most of our arguments are), it left me feeling like I was an uncompassionate person who was not doing enough for the world. After ruminating on it some more, I realized that I felt like the life I was choosing to live was not ‘compassionate enough’ with Mother Teresa* being held as the standard of compassion. And the way that this has shown up in my life is my lack of a desire to volunteer.
And although, technically, I volunteer with Odyssey of the Mind (which is a pretty neat organization, btw) it is mostly because it is fun to do and, as my husband likes to point out, it was in very fine print on our marriage license that I’d have to volunteer every year with him as he had already been volunteering for years. 😉 Also, I guess you could say I ‘volunteer’ to be a costumed rollerblader (when I’m not pregnant) alongside my friend Sarah Gish‘s Phoenix Rising art car for the Houston Art Car Parade. And it is because that is incredibly fun to do as well and supports my friend and art!
Besides that, I don’t volunteer with any other organization. And that’s because I feel that almost all volunteer organizations are putting band-aids on problems and not addressing the real issues. We can give food to the poor and hungry, but that need will always be there until we change how our society functions and cares for one another. We can plant trees alongside our highways, but there will always be a need to plant more trees until our society changes how we view ourselves and our world. We can mentor young children who come from broken homes, but there will always be children in need of mentoring until we change how we love and relate to one another. And these are just issues here at home.
We can help establish running water in and send food to foreign countries, but there will always be that need as long as our country’s policies are greedily and stupidly made instead of realizing that everyone on this planet is interconnected and what we do to help or hurt another, we are doing to ourselves.
And I know that I’m the type of person who likes to find and then address the root of the problem instead of putting band-aid after band-aid on it. And, as I see it, these volunteer needs that we have stem from a lack of compassion and acceptance in our world. And the only way for people to have true compassion and acceptance for another, is to have compassion and acceptance for themselves. Once a person comes to a place of self-compassion and self-acceptance, where they accept all of who they are and recognize that they are enough just as they are – that they are no less or no more than anyone else and that they are deserving of love and happiness just as everyone else is – then they are able to love and accept others from the overflow in their own lives and act truly compassionately towards others.
And this is how I came to accept the fact that I don’t volunteer as much as people say we ‘should.’ What I do is follow my heart – and my heart tells me to continue on this journey of loving and accepting myself and sharing my heart with the world so that others might learn to do the same as well. And through this, we will all be healed.
This is my path. And I recognize that this is not the path for everyone. The world needed Mother Teresa. And the world needs volunteers and volunteer organizations because it might be a long time before we are all more compassionate and there are people suffering in the meantime. But the world also needs me to be who I came here to be and so that’s what I’m going to unabashedly and unapologetically do, volunteer or not. Because my way of ‘giving back’ and contributing to society, whether it be through caring for friends and family or making art and music, is no less valuable or valid than a volunteers. And if it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself to be unapologetically who I am, it’s because I am a little. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don’t and at those times, I need to strongly remind myself that what the world really needs more than anything is for me to be happy and follow my heart.
*[UPDATE 7/28/16: Soooo Mother Teresa might not have been all she was cracked up to be. Read here for more.]
“If you have frustrations with life and ‘how things are,’choose to express them in positive ways that help others change their belief systems, so that the conditions you deplore eventually disappear.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens
“Humans keep trying to eliminate the condition of poverty, the condition of hunger, the condition of misery, the condition of oppression, the condition of prejudice and lack of equal opportunity, the condition of violence, the condition of war…they keep trying to make these conditions go away. […] And they cannot, because these conditions are reflections of beliefs that have not changed. If you want your world to change you have to work to change the world’s beliefs.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens
“The first step in moving to a place of love for everyone […] is to move to a place of love for yourself. You cannot give to another what you cannot give to yourself.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens
“Have fun. Spread joy. Share love. This is the Three-Way Path.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens
“Fun, joy, and love is who you are. It is the natural you. Just give in to that[…] Share love with everyone, in the form that your soul tells you is most appropriate to the moment and to the kind of relationship you have with each person – and with yourself.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens
“A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggles to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
“We are to do what there is a deep psychological and emotional imperative for us to do. That’s our point of power, the source of our brilliance. Our power is not rationally or willfully called forth. It’s a divine dispensation, an act of grace.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
“If you’re talented at music, that talent is of God*. If something makes your heart sing, that’s God’s* way of telling you it’s a contribution God* wants you to make. Sharing our gifts is what makes us happy. We’re most powerful and God’s* power is most apparent on the earth, when we’re happy.” –Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
*I personally don’t identify with the divine nomenclature of “God.” And you may not either so feel free to put Goddess, Divine, Love, Great Spirit, your soul, All That Is, or whatever else in the place of “God” in the above quote. The meaning is still the same and the truth of it is still valid.