Back to Basics: Life Begins with Life

Many people I’ve met have the wrong assumption, taking it at face value that their life will be over when they start having children. They see these little munchkins as the end of their career, their dreams and goals. What they worked so hard towards will now be threatened or dismantled by a little bundle of joy and thus, they secretly may resent this gift of life, never really facing this belief system because it is just too harsh and too scary to deal with.

Some people contemplate abortion because they feel so inconvenienced by this surprise, afraid that their climb up the ladder may be forever perched on that “neither here nor there” step. And so, they decide to eliminate the threat, as if a baby can be so easily dismissed.

But, don’t get me wrong. I don’t judge these women, or men. They are victims, too. Victims of choices made that are often brought out by wrong beliefs perpetuated by our society’s accepted norms.

Instead of sharing positive, life giving ideals, the society at large infects the lives and perceptions of every participant with the negativity that keeps on spreading.

What if I told you, that giving life, will only give back more to you and when we place the before and after on the scales, you would end up the winner, not a loser? More will be added rather than taken away?

That you don’t have to be stuck in the victim mentality, just because it is easier to do so?

What if I challenged you to fight this belief system?

How can I speak about this topic with such passion? Because it happened to me. I believed like most of the people that with bringing a child into this world would begin the gradual decline of my dreams and ambitions, that my talents would be buried in perpetuity under diapers and princess dresses, and later old age. Never getting anywhere, never known by anyone. So, I resigned myself and thought I was ok with giving it all up. I thought I could train myself to be a happy stay-at-home mama, and a dutiful, appreciative wife, with all the trappings of the 50’s.

That’s how I grew up. That’s what my momma did. Raising eight children left her nothing of herself. She never fought against her confinement, rather, she accepted her duty as something between birth and death, something she had to do until she could do it no more. She was taught to scratch off her dreams and wants in service to her husband and children.

I saw nothing in her that would give me hope regarding my own future, except for her strong faith, without which she would’ve been lost. It was her only hope, mechanism of survival.

So, that is how I grew up and that is what I thought would happen to me, even though I was always aware of that something special within me, that little bit of greatness that never dimmed even though I tried, hoping it would make it a bit easier for me to accept my path.

But it all changed one day, or rather, one night, when the light of my world shined even brighter than any previous perceived ambition or desire. My child, my daughter came into the world. I was forever changed. I was forever inspired and empowered. That most powerful and sacred moment of birth, filled with beauty and mystery, travail and immeasurable joy, birthed a new me.

I didn’t only give birth to my daughter, but a new version of me. I couldn’t sleep, all I did was stare at her peaceful face and hold her in my arms for hours on end. The content surpassed all of my exhaustion and I felt like a superhero. Nothing could stop me. No mountain could be too treacherous for me to climb.

maya owlette

Mama’s little superhero

 

It took me a bit of time to process the majesty of that moment, the power in me that I never knew I had. Months passed and with the transition becoming more manageable, that transformation once again caught up with me.

I lived now, a more vibrant, more transparent life. Everything I ever wanted to be, I wanted to be so even more. The passions I had were now even more pronounced as I discovered the confidence and fearlessness I never knew I possessed. Life became more meaningful.

I lived for my daughter. I didn’t want to sell myself short because I didn’t want her to settle in her own life. I wanted with all my heart to leave her a legacy of courage, strength, passion and joy. I wanted her to truly live. I couldn’t teach her with words that meant nothing, so I picked myself up, dusted off my own weakened misconceptions, examined them and threw them out of the nearest window.

I will now lead my daughter by example, not wishful thinking.

Did she take my life? Yes, she took my old life but gave me something so much more extraordinary. A new life filled with vibrancy, adventure and expectation.

She woke me up. And now that I am awake, nothing is impossible, too improbable. I live in the realm of possibility. Why? Because that is how I want her to live, no limitations!

And yes, you can, too, experience this transformation. Just change your thinking and believe in the possibility that only greater glory awaits you with each life that you bring into this world.

It will be harder to go after some of those goals with children, but knowing the value of every minute, you will now know the value of every moment, and you will know that little efforts add up to great things.

If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for the little ones around your knees.

Lead by example, show them a life well lived: passionate, fearless, authentic.

Be truly you. That is the greatest freedom you will give them in this world; freedom to be them.

Life is an adventure, explore it together.

So, yes, Life begins with Life. Or so it did in my case. If I stayed in my old ways of thinking, I wouldn’t have my books written. Scratch that, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

And with this second child, cocooned in my womb, I am excited to see what facets of me are still lying dormant. I cannot wait to awaken the power within me that will come through as I experience another magical moment of bringing a fresh-faced bundle of joy into this beautiful world.

I am not afraid to lose my life with this addition, as I know full well now, that it will be forever changed but so much richer, stronger, with new adventures and new mountains, new travails and joys.

It is up to you to define your success and your life. Don’t fall into the groupthink and accept the mediocrity, the false assumptions.

Open up your mind, hold your head high and redefine your life according to what is right for you and your family.

YOU are the Queen in your family. YOU make the rules alongside your King. Live a life well lived with your princes and princesses. It is a life worth living.

 

 

By Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence

Forever Hopeful, Always Believing, Perpetual Dreamer and Doer

Capability In Movement Is A Choice

As mothers, parents, we are always moving. We sit, stand, walk, run (sprint?), lift, carry, etc., ALL DAY LONG. To say we are not physically active would be absurd, we are constantly active. This ebbs and flows with the season of life and age of our children, but in the baby/toddler years… it is definitely true. We are movers. As such, we often don’t 1) give ourselves credit for any activity or capability we have and focus instead on how we look or feel about ourselves, and 2) we often don’t pay attention to the incorrect or inefficient ways in which we move that may be leading to back pain/neck pain/shoulder tightness/hip discomfort/etc. For now I am going to skip over that first one, we will dig deeper into that in another post. Back to number 2, so you have mommy pains? Well, you did grow a baby with your body. Then you brought that baby into the world, in whatever fashion got you both safely to the other side. CONGRATS!!! If you don’t already view that as training for and competing in an IronMan Triathlon, consider this your permission to do so. Let NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE, attempt to tell you otherwise. Now, unless you did continue being very active and engaged with physical activity that promoted strength, stability, and (safe) mobility… you are probably experiencing some physical changes in capability and function. This is completely normal, it is your body’s new normal. It should not be viewed as a problem, but a lesson. Get to know this new magnificent body, embrace the strengths and weaknesses. See the capability that remains, and the possibility for what more can be achieved.

Ok, we have addressed the fact that things may be different for you physically, now how do we get you back to a place of physical capability that you WANT to be at? In the beginning days it’s not about that, sleep, eating, and bonding with baby are all you should be focused on. That beautiful, strong, soft and comfortable mommy body is exactly what that amazing baby of yours needs. Love it. Take care of it. Don’t diet, eat real foods. Don’t fret about numbers on a scale, go for relaxing walks with that new bundle and your spouse/family member/best friend. Pay attention to any little kinks that may arise. Get a massage, stretch, move. Explore any new movements you find yourself doing. Do you gaze lovingly down at that new little nursling while you feed him/her? Every parent does. Is your neck stiff? Try a few neck rotations, don’t stay in one position for too long, lean back in that recliner to allow you to look more to the side and less down. How is that back holding up from all that carrying? Do you have a carrier? If not, consider getting one that evenly distributes your child’s weight across your shoulders and back… we lived in an Ergo Sport (I am very short, it’s the only one that fit), and a ring sling. How about lifting? This one is tricky. When they are little we often scoop them up to bring them close. But as babies get bigger we tend to use our hands more. Do you lower your center of gravity and lift closer to you? Do you find yourself using your arms more than your legs? Do you already have “mommy thumb”? Do your hands and wrists ache/throb? The video (Mom Lifts) is an example of this movement, the right and wrong version. Watch how my wrist moves more when I stay upright, versus lowering my body and using my legs… those big, strong muscles we all have… to lift those heavier growing loads. Is lowering difficult because your hips are tight? Do you find yourself limited by lacking ankle mobility? These are all areas you can easily work on at home with just a few minutes a day of movement.

That’s it. Capability is a choice. Your choice. We all start with it, and we can choose to grow or remain stagnant. You already chose to grow in a big way, you chose to become a parent. Even if you did not physically grow your child, you grew your ability to love and care for another human. You sacrifice sleep and time to care for this little human. We make these choices every day. It is time we choose to grow our physical capability. It is time we choose to be healthy, to be active, to be ready for whatever those fast-moving children throw our ways. Because, I don’t know about you, but I hope to be chasing after my grandkids one day. I am willing to bet that you are too.

**Over the next few weeks I will begin posting clips of tips and movements to address other areas of movement often needing work. If you’re not sure you are getting them, or would like more direction, send me a message. **

Jessica Groves-Chapman

~ Superwoman-in-training

 

I AM Enough

I am enough as I prepare breakfast. I am enough when I walk down the street as my toddler pedals her tricycle. I am enough when I cannot finish my exercise video because my child woke up early from her nap, crying…21740253_10154882175241592_1576482248775389202_n

I am enough as I prepare lunch. I am enough as I do the cleaning.

I am enough when I read to my child a book or two or more or less… or play with her on the playground.

I am enough as I prepare dinner, put my child to bed and struggle to fit in a day of friendship with my husband in a few hours before we fall asleep, ready to repeat another day.

I am enough. In between the routine and priceless moments of my day, I carve out time for my dreams, minutes at a time, sometimes, if I’m lucky, an hour.

I AM Enough. I will not settle for less, if possible, will settle only for more. I am priceless just because I AM an expression of God, worthy of love and admiration.

Everything I do, I do with a spirit of excellence, and then I release the outcome.

I don’t need to struggle to prove to anyone how fabulous I am, that I am a great mother.

I am perfect in my child’s eyes, because I love her with all of my heart. I promise to try each day, for her, to be the mother she believes I am.

I am beautiful. I don’t need to prove that to my husband. 21730826_10154882175301592_3331134872047301379_nI am lovable, for my hands have touched every corner of my house and his life with affection, respect and admiration. I don’t need to be someone else as I open up, vulnerable, ready to give and receive and learn together.

WE are enough.

I don’t need to prove to my father or mother or sister or brother, neither friend nor foe or anyone in between, that I am worthy. I have no shame in sharing my essence for I am human, but I move closer and closer each day to Godliness because I accept myself and others for who they truly are: worthy and lovable, naturally and powerfully.

I don’t need to perform each day to fit in. I’d rather belong.

I’d rather belong to someone or a group that will accept me for who I am. I don’t need to hide.21764934_10154882175276592_2041052553088426751_n.jpg

I am healed in the truth of love and acceptance, as I give love and acceptance to others.

Every mama out there, you are already a queen, a warrior…

I look at all the women and think, “ Where did we miss the mark? Where and why did we forget about who we truly are? Why are we withholding love from ourselves?”

By withholding love from ourselves, we cannot help but withhold love from others.

Love will set us free. Love will redeem us, heal us and set us apart and up above.

So I chose to LOVE myself and YOU, because I AM Enough.

I do this easily because I don’t have to compete, hide or hurt because I am different.

I celebrate myself and in this way, I can celebrate YOU!

Everything we do, let’s do it well. Don’t compare yourself to others. Leave the outcome to God.

Surrender yourself to peace.

WE are ENOUGH.

 

~Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence

An Everyday Mama Who Found a Passionate Life

Test YOUR Strength

I am not one, usually, for acknowledging my own accomplishments, but that is one beautiful back bend. From this shot you would think it was easy, effortless even.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

This pose is just a snapshot of a journey in mobility, flexibility, stability, and strength. More importantly, it is about learning to believe in myself again.

backflip

When I was young I was in gymnastics. I progressed quickly because I was strong and young and excited to learn. Back walkovers, a back bend that you kick over into standing position, became one of my favorite movements. It made me feel strong, and who doesn’t enjoy flipping over? I loved the butterflies I would get as I arched backwards from a standing position, as your brain tries to prevent you from falling by telling you it’s a bad idea to do this. You shush your silly head and do it anyway, and voila, there you stand. Next to cartwheels and monkey bars, it was a favorite childhood past time.

As I aged it became a little more about seeing if I still had it.

Then I became pregnant. After my first munchkin, I was terrified to try again. Would my body even allow it? It took months and months to get past my fear and discomfort, but I made it. Then kiddo number 2 came along. I gained much more weight with my second child. I also endured some rough pubic symphysis and hip discomfort that had me in PT weekly towards the end of that pregnancy, and even some postpartum. I didn’t even think about a back bend, or anything really. I was frustrated with my body and these new aches and pains. These weaknesses.

Yet while they were indications of weakness, they were not issues that could not be addressed. I needed to build strength in my inner thighs, glutes, and hamstrings again… basically my entire leg complex. I needed to regain flexibility in my spine and hips. I needed to believe in my body. I had just grown a human being and brought her into the world in all her perfection, and all I saw was my body’s weakness. What it lacked. How it was failing me. I see this quite often in mothers. How quickly we forget all that our body can and DID do when growing a human! Of course, healing and regaining strength takes time. It should. It should take a lot of time. I do not know where it is that we lose the ability to appreciate the strengths we already have, or why we quickly forget the amazing feats we have already accomplished. All I know is that it is time to change that. It is time to stop believing that we are not as capable as that little girl and her back walkovers. You are only as strong as you allow yourself to believe.

Strength is not solely based upon force production by muscles. To be truly strong you must be mobile, flexible, and stable both physically and mentally.

Are you ready to test YOUR strength?

Jessica Groves-Chapman

~ Superwoman-in-training

Olga after birth

Victory Epistle: A Birth Story

Dear Lady Warrior:

This is a message about victory and power that comes through bringing a life into this world. It is a message about letting go of control and finding peace in the imperfection that is Birth. This is a vision about an emergence of a woman that is strong, passionate and inspired to take her experience and to transform it into the rocket fuel that will propel her into heights unseen, untested but thoroughly attainable because she is fearless.

YOU can do this. How do I know? Because I did it. And if I did it, so can you.

August 11th, 2015

I wake up approximately 1-2 hours before my water breaks. I cannot sleep. I wonder and run through my mind to test and see if I have any stresses that keep me awake, but I find no undue stress. So I just lie there, experiencing a few cramps, nothing neither frequent nor serious. This is what Braxton Hicks are, I thought. Eventually I decide to get up and visit the restroom.

As I make my attempt to maneuver myself out of the bed, I feel something flow out… and as soon as I finally stand up, the rest just gushes out. My water broke.

5:45am

Oh my God. I was so unprepared even though I’ve read countless accounts and listened to tens of proud mamas. Today was the day I was going to write up my birth plan, pack my bag and cast the mold of my belly.

My soul knew and kept me awake. I was high on expectation without even knowing it. Trust the process, lady!

I reach out to Chris, my husband, and wake him with a dazed voice…

“Chris, my water just broke.”

“Are you sure you didn’t pee yourself?” was his sleepy reply, after which we both jumped into action.

I recalled that a few days ago I was talking to my baby and a strange, very esoteric thought came powerfully through my mind. My baby told me “Mommy, just wait a little more. I am coming soon”. I thought it was my imagination as I had two more weeks to go.

I let my doula know, right after I called my mom in Massachusetts to tell them the glorious news that their granddaughter was going to be born that day.

I was shaking and shaking and couldn’t stop shaking. Chris tried to be helpful but my body was not my own. I ran to the computer to type up the birth plan, hoping that this would help me calm down.

I had a vision of exactly what my birthing experience would be. I am the quintessential type A personality, the teachers’ pet. The one that always sat in the front row, smack dab in the center. I even had a plan for how long it was going to take. Yep, my labor was going to be super comfortable and smooth and would last exactly 8 hours. Precisely. I would labor at home until the last moment and as soon as I was about to pop out the baby, I would run to the hospital on the winds of reason and successful planning and deliver in a seamless execution. I was going to be an example of all that had been done “right”.

Thankfully, I didn’t know that having my water leave me in such a copious amount meant that I didn’t have that layer of protection for me and my baby during the contractions. Labor barely started and something already went wrong.

I typed up the birth plan, printed off three copies. One for us, one for the midwives and one extra, in case someone misplaces one.

My doula arrives and I escort her into the guest room. She tells me to rest but I tell her I will do that as soon as I pack the bags and basically ask her to stay out of the way until I need her. Feeling pretty in control, Chris and I pack the bags.

I rest. We all watch movies. I walk the perimeter of my yard with dogs for company. As I walk, I go deeper and deeper into myself. The day sets behind the horizon … my doula and Chris come out to join me and sip beer. It was a long day. My contractions were still far apart but getting stronger. I started to lose track of time. I sensed the baby wasn’t coming that day.

I remained calm as I listened to the hypnobirthing CDs. I breathed and still felt in control. Chris and I worked on the belly cast to pass the time.

My doula put on the Tens unit on my back to help with the pain. It helped and I eagerly pressed the button whenever I sensed the wave coming upon me. Eventually, my doula suggested I get into the tub. I was afraid that the pain control would not be as great in the water as it was with the Tens unit. To my surprise the water felt amazing!

August 12, 2015

In the wee hours that Wednesday, my doula and I felt that the baby was coming! I was so excited and we contemplated remaining at home to deliver but finally decided to go to the hospital as we still would’ve had to do that after the birth of the baby.

We raced to the hospital. I tried to breathe through the contractions as I felt every bump in the road. Baby was coming. My suffering was almost over. I was glad as I was always told that my pain threshold was very low and that I was nuts to do it naturally. I wanted to show it to the doubters. Look at my prowess!

I was firm in my resolve to do this naturally.

As we walk up to the emergency entrance, at the door we meet a young lady leaning against the wall, who asks me if I am there to give birth. She suggests I get an epidural and then I would feel nothing.

I proudly tell her that no, I was there to do this naturally. NO epidurals!

I recall walking up to the birthing section, stopping to breathe and survive through the contractions… I couldn’t reply, I couldn’t pay attention to anything around me as I had to go deep within myself to make it through. If anyone talked to me …or near me… I felt sick. I couldn’t handle any additional stimulation.

We walked into the room around 2am that Wednesday morning.

After that …time blurred. We expected the baby very shortly as all the signs were there, but she still wouldn’t come. I walked the halls. I danced. Listened to CDs over and over. I did my squats and various other formations. The bath was my preferred method as my doula and Chris took turns to pour water over me…for hours. The contractions raced through my body in a ceaseless, merciless wave after wave…

I was hot and cold… I couldn’t find comfort in the pools of laboring sweat….The Tens unit had long ago lost its effectiveness in the fight against pain.

Surely this was the time, finally, for the baby to come….It was late evening…

My family was extremely worried…two days passed and no baby.

I stuck to my resolve. I WAS going to do this naturally.

I remember leaning against Chris and silently crying against his chest, 2-3 times…telling him I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t go on.

My doula, who had an extensive amount of experience with hundreds of births, many of them high risk, prepared me for the pushing phase as surely this was the transition time.

We allowed the midwives to check on me as we avoided any checks prior due to the risk of infection as it was so long since my water broke.

I longed eagerly to hear the confirmation of that impeding phase…

I almost died when they told me that I was dilated only 5 cm. I was very soft and the baby was low but I just wasn’t opening up. I remember almost crawling up the wall in that bathroom. I contemplated asking for pain relief or a C-section but I was far from being coherent or able to process and then verbalize any thought.

I felt God left me. I was so sure He was going to bless me as a child of God. I trusted Him. After 2 days of intense anticipation, I was still only halfway there.

I told Chris to let my family know that I needed their prayers now more than ever as I tried to hold on…one contraction at a time.

The midwives urged us to speed up the process. They brought out breast pumps, dusted them off from a forgotten corner. Time and time again, they kept pumping me to stimulate the contractions to get stronger… 15 minutes at a time was the prescribed formula as they didn’t want to over stress the body.

I began feeling the prayers as I started recalling various powerful scriptures from the Bible. I was holding on with every last atom of hope and trust as I repeated those verses over and over and over…

  1. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  2. Nothing is impossible with God.

I remember either falling asleep or passing out between contractions as I went away to a muted someplace and came back into each contraction. I couldn’t think past that one contraction. To live, as I felt I was dying, I had to focus on the intensity of the present moment. I would collapse under the thought of the future of more contractions coming my way.

I remember thinking this is it for me. I cannot go on. I will expire.

Soon after thinking those thoughts, I heard the voice of my daughter again…in a very mysterious fashion crossing my mind.

She said, “Mommy, I am very sorry. So sorry. I am coming very soon. Just hold on a little more”.

I told her as I cried silently, “Take all the time you need, baby. Mommy is alright”.

We were a team. Throughout all the frequent checks and monitoring, her heart was strong. She reacted to the contractions like a Lioness-with vigor.

August 13, 2015

I felt fear overwhelm me at one point… Fear of complete lack of control. I didn’t know what was coming next and I was scared. So scared.

It was almost a spiritual realization. It was a helpless, cowering sensation as I was turned into water, a form which could take any shape in any container of a circumstance.

I finally felt the overwhelming desire to push at 8cm. It wasn’t something I could control. To try and stop this feeling was like trying to stop a train by your hands, in the middle of the tracks. I had neither energy nor stamina left to attempt.

The midwife team surrounded me in those last hours of my marathon journey. I remember someone urging me not to push but I was helpless in the clenches of this passion. My body writhed and I couldn’t stop it. The fire spread in my nether regions as my baby’s head finally peeked through. I felt her hair and my spirit was renewed. I was finally truly near to my joy.

I was led into the bed for my final pushes. At that final push, I felt that not only did I give birth to my baby but that I also gave birth to myself, a new me… a new era at 2:07am that glorious Thursday morning.

My baby breathed her first breaths as I cried out over and over-“My baby! My baby! My baby!”.

My joy and triumph was palpable and I tasted it and drowned in that sensation. I held my baby as she suckled at my proud breast.

Through the stitching and the uterus being massaged after the birth, I held onto my baby and my Victory.

I knew that moment that we were one, my baby and I…one team. We can go through anything and surpass any expectation. I felt that I could conquer the world… Like an Amazonian princess on top of the mountain. I felt that the elements and nature would be subject to me!

As days passed, I started to revisit my birthing experience, processing it one bit a time. Talking to medics and mothers. I had a lot to process, revisit-chew over and over.

But the conclusion is this:

I found peace in my experience and had forgiven myself and others for not having it my way. I no longer measure my success by my lack of failure. What I called failure I now call resilience.

I am water now, able to flow. I am unbreakable now that I was broken.

What a great start to our journey together, my Maya Sophia and I.

We did it. That confidence would carry me through my first days and months of motherhood…sleepless nights and worried mornings, hazy days and tired afternoons. I knew that I would take each hour, one at a time…as I took hold of my contractions, one at a time.

I feel that my roar is now real, able to flex its muscle, primed to change the world…as in fact; I had changed the world already by giving birth to my baby. It is forever changed; future had been forever altered because I gave life.

You will never feel as powerful and proudly amazed at yourself as during those first moments of being a mother. Nothing will ever compare to what you just had done. Nothing. Every accomplishment will pale in comparison. You will feel that you hadn’t lived up to this moment… not truly. Not fully. I promise you that it will all be worth it!

You will be like Chris and I, walking around the shops and restaurants and cafes with chests thrice their size, silly grins on our faces. Loopy on our love for the baby. The aura of the newborn is huge, consuming everything in its stretch.

And yes, I do want another baby.

Sincerely Yours,

Fellow Mother in Arms

 

~Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence

lover of passionate living and everything purple