Friday, May 29, 2015

The Curse of Superwoman by Cassie Hart
image by Angus via a Creative Commons license

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

I have struggled with many things in my life. I have struggled with depression, with suspected bi-polar, with self-harm, with recovering from a string of unwanted male attention in various horrible forms, with PTSD, with a lack of self-confidence, with motherhood, with balance, oh, so much with balance.

But more than anything else, I have struggled with being Superwoman.

It didn’t begin with being Superwoman of course. It began with being a Good Girl. With living up to expectations. With an uncanny awareness for the feelings of others and a desire to help. A crushing sense of responsibility. For everything. I don’t think it’s always a ‘girl’ thing, but I know more woman than not who feel this. Like they have so much to live up to. Like they must take care of things or the important stuff will fall through the cracks.

And so we do what needs to be done. And we put other peoples needs ahead of our own. And somewhere along the line, some of us get lost.

I got lost. I drowned in the needs of everyone else until it got to the point where I wasn’t sure what I was doing because it was expected of me, and what I was doing because it was the real me. Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re not even sure if you’re a real person anymore, that maybe you are only the sum of expectations placed upon you by others and yourself?

Well, that was how I felt. I was ‘kind’ and ‘creative’ and ‘generous’, I was ‘Superwoman’ and ‘amazing’ and ‘wonderful’. But inside, I felt like a doormat, like a slave, like there was nothing left of me, and I couldn’t even be sure if I was any of those things people thought of me because it was me, or just because that was what was expected. I was living from a place of imbalance, not from a place of love.

And not love from others. I am well loved by everyone around me. I am cherished. I am worried for. At some point all the expectations I felt placed on me were internalized. No longer driven by others, but driven by me, by this ridiculous image I felt I needed to live up to.


But I’m not. I struggle. I breathe and bleed and cry. I laugh and smile and dream. I am human, and I AM amazing, and sometimes I do carry more than I have the strength for. And that is the wonderful thing about being human. We can overcome so much. But, it wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t giving myself the same love that I gave to others, that I could really start to acknowledge that. I may not be Superwoman, but I am awesome, and I deserve love, deserve to be a priority, deserve to know myself and feel whole and like I belong in the world. Just like everyone else.

I’m not lost any more, at least, not entirely. I’m on a journey to rediscovering who I am. Creating my own labels, discarding the ones I had pinned on myself when they no longer apply. But more than anything, trying to make choices out of love – for others, yes, but for myself as well. Because when I make choices from a place of love, I am free.

Cassie Hart is a home-schooling mother to three beautiful girls, and wears far too many hats for her small wardrobe. She writes speculative fiction under the name J.C. Hart and her blog can be found here

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Letter To A Restless Heart by Jamie Wright Bagley

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

Dear Restless Heart,

I hear you’re not feeling up to things lately. As a pioneer on the prairie of dreams, I know you have given a lot, but now you are worn, and more than a bit panicked. I know what that’s like. Sometimes it feels like the trail is going nowhere, and the dreams are growing cold. What if there is no second wind?

It is going to happen, though. Have courage, friend. Trust the whole process. You have set out on the track, carrying your dreams into a wide expanse of the plains of possibility. There are prospects and there are risks. Both of those things are scary: success or failure, and all the what-ifs it takes to get there. I know, because I, too, am guiding my wagon through the unknown right now. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to turn back the clock and toss the original idea away before it could be formed into a dream.

We are not turning back, you and I. No, we are not! Let me remind you of something: Each road we travel has different challenges. When the land is smooth, oh, you know it’s a wonderful adventure because you are going fast and can see so far in front of you. When the path is rugged, nobody expects their wagon wheels to get caught in a rut, but sometimes it happens. Getting trapped like that can be jarring. It’s then a little voice inside says “Give up! Give up and go home!”

I don’t advise that option today, dear one. You have more mettle than that. This wagon you are steering, your dream, is meant to be. Trust the whole process. The journey is made from all kinds of terrain. Embrace the beauty of differing scenery.

The other thing I want you to remember is that your wagon is one-of-a-kind. If you share the road with a larger vehicle, a faster vehicle, or one that seems more beautiful, let me remind you that each one carries its own unique and important dream, and not one of them got where they are without help. Not one. Where does your help come from? This is the question you must ask yourself now. The other wagons are not meant for you. Stick with yours, in all its weathered glory.

Are you tired of all the jolting and clattering? There will be smooth paths again.

Are you anxious for adventure? The prairie has seen its share of storms.

Be in the moment, whatever it is. Love your surroundings. Say a blessing over every part of your wagon and call it good. Call it beautiful. Call it holy, because it bears your essence; all the rare pieces of your self instilled even before birth. Nothing outside of you gets to determine the worth of your dream. Embrace it. Care for it. And keep your chin up.

Finally, remember who crafted your wagon. You, and the spirit of creation: the inspiration behind every trek. Your wagon is your gift and your charge to care for. You get to steer it, and you get to name it.

Give it a good name. Give it a name that reminds you always of who you are, how far you’ve come, and how much your presence matters to the world you journey through. Things are different because of your dream. Things are better because of your dream. And once you make a habit of rehearsing these truths, you’ll remember why you do this at all: it is not to be the best; it is to be your best. And only you and the spirit of creation get to determine what that is.

May you always enjoy the ride!

Much love,

P.S. Go easier on yourself than you think you should. You really do have the time.

Jamie values connection, energy, empathy, freedom, and happiness. She believes in the lifelong pursuit of dreams, and will write poetry and song and everything else to that end. Flowers delight her and trees are her people. She’d love to bond with you over tea and pie, but will probably substitute the small talk with awkward jokes and deep topics. You’ll find her writing her heart out at, and @jamiebrightley on Twitter.

Monday, May 4, 2015

When the Planning is Done and the Time is {Nearly} Now

Today, as I sat in the exam room at my obstetrician's office, an amazing/terrifying/thrilling thought struck me -- this is is it.  My last appointment of this pregnancy (and, as we're not planning on having any more children, perhaps ever).  There are no more appointments, no more preparations to make.  All the baby clothes are washed and sorted, the bassinet is set up, all the necessary bags are packed.

It's funny.  Not ha-ha funny, but hard-and-weird funny: even though this pregnancy has felt very redeeming in terms of fear, even though I've been able to hold onto hope and dip a little deeper back into naive innocence more better throughout these last nine months far better than I could with my two year old's pregnancy -- even so, writing the words I am writing here feels like a gamble.  Because the worst could still happen (again) and this post and those clothes and that bassinet and just everything will turn from a joy into searing pain.

I guess that's pregnancy after a loss for you.  Even when it's years later, when it's the second pregnancy down the line.  Even when you've been doing really well.

And yet, at the same time, I am so excited and beyond ready to meet this new little person who is, as I write this, attempting to pry my ribs apart with his feet.  I try to avoid dwelling in anxiety as much as possible, because really, at this point, there's not much I can do about all those horrible "what if's." 

I think this baby is going to look like his siblings.  But I'm hoping for a dark-and-curly-haired little dude, someone to carry on his mama's wild mane.  I've had terrible reflux this pregnancy, which is new for me -- anyone care to make any guesses on hair levels?  :)

* * *

After baby arrives, I'm planning on (and psyched about!) being totally swept up in tiny-person-land, consumed with caring for the two small boys I'm so lucky to be mama to.  Which means that there won't be much time for blogging.  While I do hope to get a post or two in sometime (I mean, it'd be lame of me to write so much about pregnancy and not introduce you to our latest love), I'm trying to be generous with expectations and let all non-mama things go for now, including blogging.  I'm sure this will prove easier said than done. 

In the meantime, I've had some very generous, beautiful souls (who also happen to be incredibly talented writers) offer to save this blog space from getting too dusty. The first guest blog post will go up this week, on Wednesday, and a new guest post will be posted just about every week after that through August.

I'm so thankful for these writers, and for their creations -- not just the words they will offer here, but for what they offer the world everyday with their hands and makings and love.  I hope that you will be as inspired by them as I am.

Thanks for hanging in there with me through this rather quiet writing season.  There haven't been many words wanting to spill out of me into this space, but there has been a deep sense of shifting, sorting, and (perhaps) finding.  I know that I won't be the same person I was on the other side of this birth, or this pregnancy.  I'm just as excited to meet that new woman as I am to meet this sweet baby.

In the meantime, I'm hanging on, epic belly and all, and enjoying the wondering.

yowzer.  38 weeks!