On Being: Life as an Empath

Life as an empath can be quite tricky. We are the healers of the world, often able to help everyone except ourselves. When heartbreak is felt, we immediately and wrongfully believe it is somehow our fault- from infidelity, rejection of a friend and of course pregnancy loss. Uniquely, as an empath, I feel what others feel. I can overhear a conversation of perfect strangers infused with painful emotion and find myself choked up. Especially when you’re already low, being in the world can just be too much.

As heartache has found itself at my doorstep on more than one occasion, I have in turn shut myself off, hiding and numbing with shopping, Downton Abbey or some other heroine’s story as long as it wasn’t my own. As long as my vulnerability isn’t required. This is a reaction I’ve employed off and on for ten years and even recently leading up to our trip last week to Peru.

I was oddly nervous to take this trip, scared to open the comforting doors of my home where I’ve been quietly healing myself during my typical work week since October. It was an adventure I craved yet I didn’t quite feel mended enough and worried my lack of planning would render us lost, sick or in a panic. I knew I had to admit this to myself and my partner as our trip began. I needed to force the words into the air and as they hung there, my vulnerability was met with kindness and acceptance both on his part and mine. From that moment, the fear dissipated and I could welcome walking foreign streets and hiking wildly steep mountains with joy and gratitude.

This trip became a pilgrimage of spirit, one where I meditated on my courage to live my life in full acceptance of being an empath and the gifts this identity grants me. In returning home from this momentous experience, I am more acutely aware of the gifts in my life, on the love I’m grateful to receive and what loss has given me instead of what it’s taken away. A partner that is dedicated, wildly romantic, and deeply kind; immeasurable love and joy from our children; wonderful relationships with my mother and family; genuine friendships and sisterhood; respect and a new kind of love for all the co-parents in our lives and most importantly love of self.

I see all of you fellow empaths and marvel at your greatness. Don’t let what feels like a burden of emotions tackle you. Your gifts are always worth celebrating and I’m always here, feeling it all with you.

Xoxo,

Eloise

SIX

Dearest Landon,

I’m so sorry this letter is late sweet girl. I have written your birthday letter to you at the close of each birthday for five years now. This year, mommy got super sick, then we had to deal with lice in our house AND evacuate because of a hurricane all in the last week. As usual, we celebrated BIG so I didn’t think you would mind if mommy was late with this funny letter I give you.

This has been a special year for you. In this last year, you have truly rooted yourself into being a sister. There is no “step” about it either, you are truly a 100% committed, adoring little sister. Your fierce love for her is beautiful, mimicking most of Anna’s unique moves and literally following her footsteps around this world. Yet you’ve started to find your own voice especially if related to toys. Speaking of finding your own voice, you really have found your own confident voice this year. I learn from you all the time sweetheart, and when you stood up for yourself to those mean boys, I was in awe. I’m always proud of you and this day was extra inspirational.

As if transfixed by sparkly rainbow magic, you have fallen deeply in love this year with all things unicorn, horse and pony… My Little Pony to be exact. You are all things rainbow, glitter, unicorn, Equestria Girls and My Little Pony. You are currently toggling between Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle as your fave but your dedication to characters each year continues to impress even me.

Your ability to crack me up never ceases to amaze me as well. You have said things like “whoa that blew my mind” and “I’m thinking on something” recently. I need to start writing them all down as you crack me up daily.  As for other new things you’re trying out… you finally acquiesced and have joined us in liking tomatoes, hummus, ice cream, chocolate, granola and more. You are daring and I love how brave you have become in all aspects of your life.

You’ve taught me how to be brave since day one. In having you six years ago, I was reborn as well. I believe I had this in me all along, but in becoming your mother I’m able to see more clearly what matters, how I want to spend my waking hours, how much of that time I want to rededicate to be with you and experience life through your eyes. You’ve taught me the healing power of love and that in showing your dad love as co-parents, we are all happier and healthier people. Loving you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done and in loving you it shapes our unique blended family. In loving you, I found out what happiness truly is. You are love.

As always, I carry your heart… I carry it in my heart.

XOXO,

Momma

Healthful Chocolate Oat Bars

With our first day of Kindergarten for Landon (!!!) around the corner and Anna’s first day today, I wanted to make something easy that has energy for their little bodies, but was free of all the junk in granola bars in stores. Also, Landon’s school is peanut free. These puppies are flourless, gluten free, peanut free (as long as you don’t add the nut ingredients in the optional section of course) and vegan! Landon ate hers in record time, so kid tested today and thumbs up.

Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

• ¼ cup blonde coconut sugar

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• ½ cup unsweetened almond milk

• 1 flax egg- directions below

• 1 Tbsp (7 g) flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed)

• 2 1/2 Tbsp (37 ml) water

• 1 tbsp coconut oil

• 1 large mashed banana. Done this with 2 bananas also and they are just as good

• 1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

• Optional: ¼ cup creamy almond butter; coconut flakes; sprinkles; chopped walnuts

Directions:

Flax Egg:

1. Add flaxseed meal and water to a dish and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Add to recipes in place of 1 egg.

2. It’s not an exact 1:1 substitution in every recipe because it doesn’t bind and stiffen during baking quite like an egg does. But I’ve found it to work incredibly well in pancakes, brownies, muffins and many other recipes.

Healthful Chocolate Oat Bars:

1. Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add in chocolate chips and coconut.

2. Add in the vanilla extract, almond milk and flax egg. Mix the ingredients together.

3. Then add in the mashed banana, and if using almond butter add it here. Combine all the ingredients.

4. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees and check at 20 minutes. When I add more ingredients, it can take up to 25 minutes.

5. Let cool for 15 minutes, cut and enjoy!!

Back to School – The Kindergarten Edition

School is beginning. For us, this momentous day is two weeks from yesterday. In thirteen short days, my precious girl will walk into her Kindergarten classroom for the first time. Gone is the safe, well known and loving bubble of preschool, followed by a brand new and darling little school full of new little faces.  Last Sunday, after Landon and I sat and made our “before summer ends” list, I sat and watched her carefully color her favorite characters. I studied her tiny hands, the methodical ordering of her toys who watched the bright colors fill the page, her sheepish grin as I kissed her precious head. I found myself wanting to wrap my arms around her and keep her small. Maybe if I keep her here longer, nestled against my chest, time won’t actually pass and the safety of our home can envelop us both. I want to ferociously protect her heart, and make sure the whole world sees her brains, her beauty and how much more she is than her bahas or a syndrome. I can’t of course… I know this. Even us semi-helicopter parents (or occasional hovercrafts) have to let go and send our children out into the world’s wild adventures.

This school year includes a world of big kids, their big ideas, big questions and possibly big stares or hugely hurtful comments. While starting the school year brings about butterflies for little ones and long school supply lists for parents, the top thing on my list is to encourage discussions or letters teaching kindness for your kiddos.  This advice feels more poignant this year. I sit here not only on the precipice of my child entering the throngs of Kindergarten, but I am also a parent who has had to watch and live through some of our first big kid, tough and hurtful situations this summer.

This summer has been punctuated by sunshine, sunscreen, swimming, snuggles, Skittles, family love and unfortunately some truly unkind comments.  As I shared in an earlier post, our first camp of the summer got off to a plain old terrible no good start. As recounted by Landon and partially by the camp, we came to understand that there was pointing and mean spirited words thrown in Landon’s face like confetti. Although she stood up to the boys and defiantly walked away, she told me days later that the same kids followed her around saying things and laughing. Laughing to her face, a cruel finger pointed in the air. So we settled into a different routine, a different camp and her brightness quickly returned upon finding new friends and free afternoon fun. Her immense pride has beamed since that awful week, as we rightly showered her with love and praise from the confidence she exuded.

We had moved on in conversation in our house, having found our new routine. Yet the subject returned just last week as our family went to the water park for the day, as is tradition to break up the haze of beach week. As our collective of parents milled about counting the cousins and making sure everyone had sunscreen, my step-daughter strayed from the brood and headed over to us. “Those boys, over there, they called Landon ugly. We all heard it.” I looked over at the girls and Landon was already rushing back for another turn on the slide. When she came out, I studied her face carefully asking if she was okay, did she want to talk about it. She looked up and smiled, shrugged and said she wanted to go on the slide again. Completely unaffected… this child just wanted to play… no time for nonsense boys. Her older cousins stunned, one into a fragile state of hurt and defensiveness, and sweet Anna and our older cousin escorted Landon the rest of the day. Meanwhile, I stalked around the pools, staring at the boys, until Eric calmly talked me off my aggressive ledge. Nothing was mentioned later, no questions and comments from her the rest of the week. While etched on my heart, those immature kids’ reactions didn’t impact her whatsoever. If only I had her superpower.

Instead, my attempted superpower is to inspire fellow parents to talk to their children. On the brink of a new school year, what would I tell those boys of summer if I had a chance to calmly talk to them? If I knew them well enough to have a chat, how would I try to coach them to be brave, to show kindness and acceptance? Where would I begin?

Hey kiddo,

With school starting soon, I want to talk to you about two really important words- kindness and bravery. You’ve probably heard that you should be kind to your family for instance or your dog. And when you think of bravery, you might think of superheroes like Superman or Batman, fire fighters and so on. However… did you know that being kind IS being brave? I think that as a kid, showing kindness to others – like other kiddos that might look or sound different than you- that is one of THE bravest things you can do.

One of the kindest things I can imagine is standing up for someone else. Whether at school or around town, you might see another child and he or she might have glasses, they might wear hearing aids, have one arm, maybe he or she is in a wheel chair… I know that might sound pretty different than you. What I bet though is that they are actually just like you. They probably love Minecraft, Transformers, Power Rangers, My Little Pony, Legos, their dog. They probably love tacos and pizza and watching movies. What is also cool is that you can ask them really simple questions just to understand things a little better. Kindness can still sound like a question, you know? For instance… what are those button-shaped things by your ears? Why are your ears smaller? Does your wheelchair get to go fast? Questions are okay, especially if you are just curious and you do it with a kind voice.

Now what if you, yourself had something pretty different about you, how would you want another kid to treat you, say at school? I bet you’d want kids to just talk to you like you’re any other kid. I bet you would want them to invite you to sit with them at lunchtime in the cafeteria, to play at recess, to just be a friend. Some children have things like hearing aids to hear better, that’s all. They can run, laugh, swing, skip, play video games with the best of them. Things like pointing, though, pointing is just not cool. Pointing, laughing, using words like ugly… those actions are just plain ugly. Those actions are not brave. They are nothing like how real superheroes act. The real superheroes in fact are more like the kiddos with differences- who have had surgeries and have awesomely bionic hearing aids that allow them to hear just about anything.

My point is in all this is that kids that might seem different aren’t different at all. If being brave and hanging out with real life superheroes sounds awesome this school year – than choose kindness and make a new friend. There is simply nothing cooler than being kind and being brave. Oh and I hope you join us at the playground some day, we’d be happy to have you.

xoxo,

Landon’s mom

 

 

 

 

Wonder Girl

Tonight, it happened… we had our first big girl conversation about her ears as we drove home from camp.

“Mommy, this boy, he was chasing us around and then stopped. He pointed and laughed at me. He LAUGHED at me- he didn’t like my ears!”

I inhaled a slow breath, as a dull pain rose in my throat. “How did that make you feel?”

“Sad,” as she fumbled with her My Little Pony. “I didn’t like when he laughed.”

“What did you say to him or do?” I asked in my calmest voice.

“I said… ‘Well, I LIKE my ears!!’ And I walked off to tell my counselor. We didn’t play with him anymore.”

As immense pride rushed out with the breath I’d been holding, “Wow! That’s AMAZING and exactly right. You LOVE your ears. We all do. I am so so proud of you.” My face full of light, amazed yet not surprised at all by this precious, confident five year old girl. She’s listening when we tell her that she embodies greatness, that her body, mind and heart are all beautiful. That her ears are cool and bahas amazing inventions. That she is love. She is listening to it. And now, she is living it.

I celebrated her even louder the whole way home and onto the swings in our backyard park. She giggled at Eric and happily ran around with the frisbee, not even knowing that my heart had broken open even wider as I marvel at who she is. She is truly a wonder. #landonglover #sheisawonder

Seeking Light

I press my face into the soft, donut shaped pillow and take a long, three-count breath. I try to steady myself, push the anxiety, tightness in my stomach and pressure in my temples away. I must lock the grief, frustration, and the acute work stress somewhere to allow this bodywork… to actually work. I inhale as a barely visible needle is placed down my spine, then another and another. I hate needles… I think to myself, I must be crazy. My acupuncturist squeezes my hand and checks my pulse; her calming manner and inspiring words encourage me to give in. To give myself over to this new world of unique self-care. I gently close my eyes and allow the pressure of the glass suction cups on my shoulders to melt into my skin.

Someone asked me just this week what the red circular marks were all over my back. My answer confounded them. “Well… I can’t keep a pregnancy, so I’ve decided to do just about anything someone advises me to try. I’m taking about 7 types of vitamins, two styles of Progesterone, they’re telling me to eat animal protein, exercise with weights to build testosterone, acupuncture, therapy, meditation, cupping which is what leaves the marks. I could easily be made into a Saturday Night Live character.” As I looked up, her mouth was open… “Oh honey”… probably more information than this acquaintance had bargained for. I have no filter for this period in my life. I am slowly realizing that I am wearing this experience all over me, which means I am probably not the best at a party. Alcohol makes me cry. My babies’ faces make me cry. The love permeating out of their beautiful eyes reminds me how much I want this again.

I have not written for a while, contributing to an overall sense of imbalance. The truth is, when I pause long enough to think of what to say, it has not been all together cheery in the last six months. The compliment I receive on my writing is typically that despite the struggle, I find the light and positivity by the end of any post. Given the ride I have ridden since last October, positivity and light are things I have had to work very hard to find and in small increments. I know I have climbed into this car willingly- seeking another chance at motherhood- a chance at this experience with the unique and mesmerizing love I have in my now husband. Yet when the car has hit the edge of the road and careened wildly out of control, I have been oddly unprepared emotionally. One would think that multiple miscarriages would prepare the brain for repeated loss. It does not. One would think that I would be able to protect my heart from the acute sadness in seeing a newborn baby nestled on a mother’s chest. I cannot. So here I finally sit, blog open, heart exposed to tell you how it’s been.

I’ve been pregnant off and on for six months as many of you well know. My body still carries the reminders that this was not some awful dream. My abdomen is still strangely swollen near the scar that bears a reminder of having Landon, my hips still struggling in my smaller clothing. I still grow oddly quiet when I see babies on hips, the mothers curiously looking at me as I gaze at their children with tears in my eyes. I have finally come out of the clouds this past month, following my pattern of grief that eventually I find more peace each day. My car eventually clicks back into the lane as I press forward. Preparing my mind and heart for another try at this.

In choosing to fill myself with all forms of self-love recently, I have also found my meditation practice to be an incredible gift – almost like hitting the reset button on my anxiety. Before this new practice, I walked around in a haze, not wanting to claim my everyday life. The stress from my job, the details of each miscarriage has clearly had an impact on my body and mind, and I have not been exactly living a life of light, balance and passion. As for meditation, I would do it intermittently. I have never had anything resembling a practice… until now. For once in quite awhile, I can more clearly see what passions I want to pursue career wise again. I am lighter and smile more often. I actually am living my mindfulness mantras.  While the clouds have begun parting, one deep attachment has stuck.

When I wake most mornings, I immediately I crave one tiny, indisputably precious face to kiss, her little body to hug. To replace the loneliness for a baby, I have found myself longing each day for my Landon. It is more fierce than usual… she must sense it. Her five-year-old brain is rife with ways to get what she wants, and I am sure she knows she has me where she wants me. When she is not at our house, tears hit my eyes the instant I find one of her ponies or fold her tiny clothing. The intensity of my love for her is palpable. My need to see her is beyond a normal mother’s connection to her child. It is an almost desperate need to make sure she knows her mother loves her, and to see before very my own eyes that I did indeed create this child. It is living, talking proof that I was successful at carrying her and that I could do this. For some of my week, I get my wish, and I get to wake both girls up and take care in picking bows and socks. The other days, the emptiness settles against my chest, my furrowed brow remains creased and I push forward through my day. While this has eased in recent weeks, I certainly know that I hold her longer and probably tighter than my usual hugs and I certainly ask for more of them.

My dearest acupuncturist, wellness coach, and therapist — all three tell me to make space for the grief. Saving space in my heart for loved ones is a natural thing. Creating space my heart for grief is less comfortable. I would rather workout, take a bike ride, read, even go to work than sit with grief. It feels futile and wasteful, but without facing grief, it simply follows you around like a nagging fly buzzing around your head. And it caught up to me two months ago. I sat, tears streaming, in front of Eric and desperately could not catch my breath. He walked me through a breathing exercise, a gentle reminder that when you feel you cannot control the world, what you can control is your breath. You can always return to it. While we’ve done these exercises before, and certainly have done yoga classes infused with breath coaching, I’ve not done a long exercise and it work quite like that one did. I was fascinated.

This journey for me has been twofold. In the first phase, I craved isolation, terrible television shows and my velvet couch. I can wallow with the best of them, but rarely sit and allow myself to think and feel the pain. Instead, I fill my brain with whatever Netflix thinks I might enjoy. Since the binge watching and couch snuggling were getting me nowhere, I finally stopped dancing with the idea of meditating regularly, and actually started doing it. Some of my nearest and dearest have said they cannot make the jump to practice. Hey, my shelves are full of books with good intentions too. However, my wellness coach sat across from me recently, showing me data from my very own cells and made a compelling point. My hormone levels have bottomed out. Almost all due to my stress levels in the last five years. My self-care has truly only involved exercise and it is no longer enough. My cloudy headspace and anxious core are no longer acceptable if I want to create a positive place for new life. I have realized that if I want to find daily happiness, I need to find my breath.

So how does one start meditating when the pace of your life interrupts any quiet you find? For me, who focuses on the logistics, I had to make some shifts. I wake up earlier and my sleep routine sunsets with a body scan. I also needed a coach and found one in my favorite Mediation Studio App. Why try all these things? Why not just trust that biology and regular old science can make this a baby happen for us? Frankly, I have never been one for settling for convention. Who is to say that these ancient forms of medicine, balanced with studying my cells and necessary supplements, are not the path to the good kind of sleepless nights? There is a beautiful Rumi quotation and one I shared with Eric in the infancy of our relationship.

Rumi-poetic-words-wound-place-where-light-enters

This wound I have had for almost a year now, this place I have sought to heal with exercise, wine, bad television, this place that still hurts… is important. This wound is how I will grow. This is allowing me to realize how I want to soon make a living and spend my days. This wound has taught me a mindfulness practice that I longed for these past ten years. While it’s new, I’m certain of its impact. From this journey, beautiful things have begun to emerge. Along the way, I have begun returning to myself, begun to once again love this imperfect body, and forgive myself for the fact that my past and current stress has hurt me and made pregnancy harder. I am learning to leave the shame alone, not to grab it and wrestle with it as before. I am learning, and what a beautifully simple gift that is. Here I am now, seeking light, and marveling at the journey along the way.

Namaste friends,

Eloise