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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Impending Joy

Most days before I break my intermittent fast, I go outside and start walking. I take the baby in the stroller and we enjoy the beautiful weather. Canyon is my most easy-going baby and his little personality makes long walks uneventful. He either chills, eats or sleeps.

I put my headphones on and google author lectures. Since I’m working on my memoir Starving Girl, I want to hear how best-selling authors do it; how they stay motivated and what advice they have for upcoming writers. I’ve been introduced to sensational authors and every day it’s like I meet a new friend, one imparticular is shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown. I’m sure many of you have heard of her and if you haven’t, she’s worth getting to know.

So, she researches shame, but her work started out when she wanted to research connection. She gathered research and what she found when asking people about connection was they wanted to talk about disconnection. Her researcher pointed to two groups – those who lived with shame and those who lived with their whole heart. The only difference between the two groups was those who lived whole-hearted and experienced true connection believed they were worthy of love.

Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Every since I was a little girl, I’ve been taught I’m a child of God. With that belief, we are all worthy of love, but I still have a difficult time manifesting it. 

Do we really believe we are worthy of love?  It's not easy.  

Brene Brown touches on many beautiful angles of human connection, but one pretty much summed me up. I had to listen to her describe it a few times before I really understood. It’s called impending joy.

Let me explain.

Dr. Brown says the only emotion more uncomfortable then shame is joy.

Wait, what?

She says “If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy.”  Why?  Because as soon as we experience it, we’re afraid it’s going to be taken away. She continues by saying, “It’s when we lose our tolerance for vulnerability. Joy becomes foreboding: ‘I’m scared it’s going to be taken away. The other shoe’s going to drop…’ What we do in moments of joyfulness is, we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”

The way she articulates this hit me at the heart. I’ve noticed this tendency in my own life. My family and I might have just arrived at a beautiful vacation spot, and instead of feeling full-on joy, I rush into unpacking. The counselor and the kids might be checking out the view, while I’m upset it’s past bedtime. I’ve forgotten to look at the view.

I tend to use busy-ness and many times, joy is overlooked. With so many kids, I know the shoe (sometimes literary) is going to fall at any time. In an attempt to prevent further chaos, I try to predict my next move and miss the little and sometimes giant joyful things.

I started wondering “When was the last time I allowed myself to feel joy?” Because let me tell you, I’m surrounded by happy joyful moments all the time in my life, but I don’t think I’m letting many of them fall whole-heartedly into my lap. I see them, I see others experience them, but I’m too busy. I think joy will take up too much time.

I think because I've been practicing and actively seeking joy, yesterday it found me and completely caught me off guard. Full on, belly laughing, out-of-breath joy! 

I was a kid again, no responsibilities and I felt so alive. I was playing with my daughter singing ring-around-the- rosie, “We all fall down,” and she and I laughed, rolling around on the trampoline. We'd run, she would catch me and asked to be hugged. Oh, the gift of a child asking to be hugged was completely exhilarating.  I’d spin her around and look in those gorgeous eyes and I marveled she was mine.

After listening to Dr. Brown, I’ve been actively seeking joy in my life. I’m forcing myself open, being vulnerable to the risks of living in the moment. It’s taken some practice, a little here and a little there like these beautiful moments.

Everyday, Eden brings home little gifts from school.  They might be feathers, rocks, flowers or leaves.  She brings them home for me and they are an expression of her creativity and love.  

At night, I help Reef write in his journal.  I've taken the time to watch how he thinks, how his eyes light up when a creative idea enters his mind.  I'm watching a writer be born and it's amazing.

And how Canyon likes the baby he sees in the mirror.  I found this adorable and pray he always loves himself this way.  He's getting to know himself. 

The joy of those moments made time stand still. My baby, my husband, my kids, there is so much goodness in them. I’m on a mission to find joy wherever it present's itself and Dr. Brown says it starts with gratitude. 

Check out her TED talk. Dr. Brown’s a life changer, for sure.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Meet The Castaways

When I was a teenager I was introduced to the view of abortion through the media.  Choice sounded empowering.  According to outspoken celebrities and talk shows, women’s rights and feminism seemed a popular stance.  Sure, I would never have an abortion, but it wasn’t my right to tell another woman she couldn’t.  It was my generation’s way of looking at women and their rights.  Who wouldn’t support anything that helped women? 

Even after having my first child Chandler, I didn’t think it was my place to tell another woman what she should or shouldn’t do with her own body.  Other than that, I didn’t think about abortion until one spring day in 2000 my mom author and researcher Sarah Hinze came over with a stapled paper copy of her new manuscript The Castaways.  20 years of research was compiled into this book.  By the end of the first chapter, I was enthralled.  The book took on life, pulsing knowledge and understanding into my mind.  

Who were these aborted children?  

The Castaways tempted to answer that question. 

I learned about announcing dreams, a universal phenomenon many cultures celebrated.  Unborn children were alive as spirits or angels before they were born.  They lived with God and prepared for their time to come to earth.  These stories, my mom coined prebirth experiences, documented how unborn children communicated with those they loved.  When a mother had a dream, vision or other encounter with her unborn child it served as an unbreakable bond.  The mother knew her child who her child was even before he or she was born.  Such experiences were not shared in defense of abortion; however, they did support the reality a developing unborn baby was not just alive physically, but spiritually.  When their attempt to come to earth was block through abortion and their physical body was destroyed, their soul experienced devastating rejection.  

At the time, Chandler was only a year old.  

I always believed Chandler lived with God before he was born, but this understanding was now on an entirely different level.  I knew I was assigned to be his mother.  Out of all the millions of people who lived on the planet, my son was supposed to be mine.  I knew it to be true and my relationship with my baby took on new love and meaning. 

Although his body was smaller than mine, I knew his soul was exactly like mine; mighty in stature and purpose. 

This understanding filled me with love, respect and I would never look at babies the same.  The Castaways introduced me to the soul of an unborn child and I started struggling with my understanding of the abortion movement.  Never had I considered the child’s pain or predicament before, but it was more than that.  My role in protecting them was urgent.  Not only as a mother, but as a woman it was my role to protect children.  The pro-choice argument stated a child was not a child until he or she was born, but when I understood the purpose of my child abortion took on a whole new meaning.

        My mom’s ongoing research of now 30 years continues to open doors where she can share her message and be a voice for the unborn.  Recently, she was a keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women event Meet Women Who Are Changing the World where she had the opportunity to speak out for children and motherhood.  Her lecture titled The Powerful Bond between Parents and their Children shared how women have powerful intuitive and spiritual capacities and that the caring and nurturing of their children is an inherently divine quality.

      Along the same agenda, my mom has made it her mission to help women who have had an abortion.  She states, “I have received a personal witness, and I speak it to those I counsel who have had abortions--there is spiritual healing from abortion through Jesus Christ.  Jesus wants women to heal who have experienced the trauma of abortion.  Jesus is amazing and full of love. He is the Great Physician and if we come unto Him, we can repent and He will wash away our sins that they man be white as snow”.

I'm so proud of my mom and her research.  I think history will show her as a Schindler, making it her life’s purpose to help those who are oppressed and forgotten.  One of the most beautiful experiences is when someone comes forward with a child, thanking my mom for her research; for without it their child would have been aborted.  Here is the 15th anniversary edition of The Castaways with new stories and updated research supporting our children live before they are born, available on Amazon and Kindle. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

We can’t let abortion destroy the relationships we as women cherish.

Shortly after Canyon was born a scandal erupted between The Center for Medical Progress and the giant abortion provider Planned Parenthood.  Through undercover video obtained by The Center for Medical Progress, evidence was found the little organs from the bodies of babies being aborted were sold for money to a medical research company called StemExpress.  Some abortions were being altered to acquire intact organs.  There were stories surfacing of some babies being born alive.

Such a practice left a part of me dead inside.

I became consumed with abortion research and came across other evidence claiming the brutality of abortion, including such from an abortion doctor named Kermit Gosnell.  His abortion practice offered late-term abortions where even babies in the third trimester could be aborted.  These were babies that could live outside the womb.  Dr. Gosnell was convicted of murder, not only for the babies born alive who were “snipped” (the cutting of their spinal cord) to ensure fetal demise, but for the murder of his patient 41 year-old Karnamaya Mongar. 

I thought abortions were performed on young women, but apparently I was wrong.  Because I’d had a baby after 40, I had to know who Karnamaya Mongar was.

Karnamaya Mongar had survived nearly 20 years in a refugee camp in Nepal, but was unable to survive a visit to an American abortion clinic.  What happened to her during the abortion?  Mongar was given Cytotec, a drug used to induce labor.  Because of the pain she was experiencing, anesthesia was administered and she was left in a room with an office employee.  Still, she complained of pain and after the fourth dose of anesthesia was given, Mongar's breathing slowed and her skin turned gray in color.  Gosnell continued to perform the abortion, and once the procedure was over, he started CPR and told his employee to call 911.  Mongar died. 

My heart ached for this woman.

I could relate to the overwhelming feeling of pregnancy, especially after 40, but why did she feel abortion was the only option for her?  Was Karnamaya worried about her pregnancy, certain it would be too difficult?  Did another baby seem impossible?  Like me, did she have debilitating morning sickness?  Was she worried about finances and managing her household with other children to feed?  Was she like I had been during my pregnancy; worried my baby might have birth defects?  Was her usual loving marriage not so joyful, but in distress with daily arguments like mine had been?  Did she know in her heart a baby was a blessing, but that she needed to live in reality?  My heart ached for Karnamaya and what she suffered.  She had heard the overbearing shouts of the pro-choice movement and it cost her and her baby’s life. 

Many in the world believe a baby isn’t worth the price?  That women shouldn’t have to do hard things for their children? 

My baby is a survivor in a world offering abortion to those who don't feel up for the challenge.  

Since when did having a baby prevent a woman from accomplishing her dreams or living her life?  In this feminist era, we’re told a woman can do anything.  She can go to the moon and become president of the United States of America, but she can’t have her baby.  It just wouldn’t fit into the schedule.  The irony makes me crazy.  My baby made me realize how strong I really am.  My baby has became my anchor and fight song.  Abortion simply confirms a woman can’t do both – love a child and fulfill her life.  That is one of the biggest lies in the world!

The timing of the Planned Parenthood scandal made it almost impossible for me to go a day without considering the miracle my baby was alive.  The beauty of my baby and the desperate realization babies just as precious are aborted left me with post-traumatic stress. 

I was especially upset about the procedure called dismemberment abortion.  When I first heard of the term dismemberment, Canyon was only a few weeks old.  Each time I picked him up I felt the tender ligaments holding his arms and legs onto his body.  A new mother is taught the necessity of gentleness with her newborn and how important it was to support her baby’s head.  I couldn’t imagine the deliberate violence of dismemberment abortion.  When I held my baby, I felt the sorrow of those who do not make it.  I felt like babies were in a war where few survived.  I felt frustrated by the political arena around abortion.  I was sick of the media having conversations about abortion that I felt women needed to have heart to heart, in private and with love.

During the Planned Parenthood scandal and while researching abortion, I knew it wasn’t a mistake I held a newborn baby at that very moment in time.  

The very presence of his fragile body has been a heart-wrenching lesson on the violence of abortion.  More, the feelings I’d had while pregnant, the verdict I couldn’t handle another baby; that it would be too much, that I would never survive, that verdict had been overturned.  My internal courtroom drama had not resulted in prison, restraint and lost opportunities, but freedom, liberation and love at a level I’d never understood.  In other words, my sacrifice of having my baby had significant purpose.  It was the purpose.  Delivering a child brought me to a plateau I wouldn’t have reached without him.  My son is the key to the growth I’m experiencing.

We can’t let abortion destroy the relationships we as women cherish. We are not blood-thirsty men at battle but women wrapped up in feeling of body and soul. Women have never fought battles with weapons and violence but with words and tears. It doesn't mean you have to abandon choice, just put it down for a moment in the back of your mind.  Cry with me for the babies; consider them.  If we cry it means we will instinctively hold each other up and that's exactly what we need.  It’s not me against you but the eternal battle of agency against love. Every generation has their battles to fight.  The lucky ones still have a beating heart. My son’s heart never belonged to me.  It was created for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Food, stop lying to me.

Dear food,

I appreciate you, I really do.  I know I can’t live without you.  I know you have a purpose in my life and I acknowledge you feed every pulse in my body, that without you I wouldn’t grow and heal and survive.  Thank you.  I live a very comfortable life and have you in excess.  You influence is everywhere.  Problem is, you’ve over stepped your bounds.

I let it happen.  I invited you in when I was lonely and you definitely filled the void.  For much of my life I’ve had a great need to have you near.  You’ve satisfied the artist in me, the bored child in me and the irrational starving girl.  Your beauty, in all your textures, smells and colors, mesmerized me.  Truly, you satisfy like nothing else.

You’ve been the life of my party for decades.  You throw the best parties, even when no one else is there but you and me.  Without saying a word, you speak of desire, passion and hunger.  You are more powerful then I realized, making me realize you may not be the best influence in my life.

The problem is you’re a control freak.  You want to be present in every aspect of my life and although I appreciate you, I really do, I need to take a step back.  You’re the nagging know-it-all who thinks you have all the answers.  Once you came over, you never left and you’ve been grazing uncontrollably in my life ever since  You beautiful in small quantities, but the way you insist on getting bigger and bigger is unhealthy and quite honestly, rude.  

More people then I can count go without you and they suffer.  Why don’t you go spend some time with them?  I’m not the only person on the planet, you know.  So many other people need you more then I do.

Food, please go back to your roots.  Remember where you came from.  You were born out of necessity from the rich soils of the earth.  You feed animals, plants and little biddy insects.  Organically, you are at your best. Covered in preservatives and hormones, you’ve become the equivalent to an aging super-model who’s had too much plastic surgery.  You’re beautiful as you are; pure and nutritious.  I don’t need you to change to appeal to me. 

Stop lying to me.  I trust you, especially when I’m hungry.  Stop trying to sell yourself as a single-serving size when you’re not.  Please stop asking me if I want you super-sized.  Your constant badgering sets me up for failure.  If you’d stop screaming for even a single second, I’d be able to hear my own guttural survival instincts.  Stop shouting you’re sugar-free when what you really are is full of aspartame, solidified corn syrup or some other unpronounceable concoction.  If you can’t read your own ingredients, do not try to pass yourself off as food. 

It’s one thing to take advantage of me, but now that you have my kid’s attention I’m ticked. 
Stop singing to them, appealing to them through sprinkles, Disney characters and pop-culture.  Your tactics are sick and I see right through your money-hungry paws.  You're brainwashing them into believing eating the worst of you is better then eating the best of you.  Get your greedy hands away from my kids.

There are so many things I love about you, but no longer can you control me.  It’s just not healthy.  I don't need you like I once did.  I have so many beautiful things in my life. I no longer need you to find purpose.  I will invite you in when necessary.  When you are good and whole, you have a place at my table, otherwise, go away and don’t come back.  I don’t need to pay for your dysfunctional habits anymore.


Laura Lofgreen

Do not think you can sneak up on me and sweet talk your way back into my life.  I have a grapefruit tree and I’m not afraid to use it.

I'm disgusted your influence kept me swollen and fat.  90-days of intermittent fasting and I have the privilege of putting my wedding ring back on again.  Nothing tastes as good as that.