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What are you proud of from 2018?

Hey guys! It’s 2019!
Pretty cool, kinda.

Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!

However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made.
My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,

“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”

We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.

This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.

So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.

Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.

What’s in your playlist?

What are your top three favorite songs right now?

Within the last week or so, I’ve become obsessed with a few “new” songs (new to me haha) and so I’ve gone through the ritual of replacing my go-to songs with some new “obsessions”.

Right now I’m listening to…
1. Idle Town by Conan Gray click here
Idle Town
2. Crush by Tessa Violet click here
crush
3. When The Party’s Over by Billie Ellish click here
When The Party's Over

World Breastfeeding Week

This Week is World Breastfeeding Week.

Breastfeeding has been a major part of my life for the last 17 months. Since the day Willow was born, and to this day, I have breastfed her.

Whenever, wherever, and for whatever reason, I have responded to my beautiful child’s wants and needs in the most natural and intuitive way physically possible; by breastfeeding.

This journey has taught me many invaluable lessons about both myself and my relationship with my daughter.
Becoming a mother is a transformation. It’s a journey, and my own transformation is something I have talked about many times on my blog.

Before Willow was born, when asked how I was going to feed her (formula or breastfeeding) I said I would breastfeed, and thinking back I don’t remember why exactly, other than it seemed the only option- at that time primarily for financial reasons.
As I learned more and more about what my journey would entail and about why people breastfeed I began to realize that I was truly making the best decision for both myself and my daughter.

The beginning was hard. It was more than hard.

Willow had a really bad latch. I was tired, depressed, lonely, in an un-supportive and abusive relationship, and essentially alone. Willow wanted to eat over and over again. And for long stretches of time. It seemed as soon as she finished she was hungry all over again.
I was not myself, my body did not belong to me, and I was so so unbelievably exhausted.
I cried a lot.
I fell asleep sitting up at night, holding willow and would wake up terrified but thankful she was still in my arms, nursing.
I left Willow latched even when it hurt (mistake) because I just wanted her to eat and fall asleep.
I made many mistakes, and was confused about so much.

I had so much room to grow and learn but often felt so hopeless and alone, I would just blindly go forward, unknowing of what laid ahead.
But I wasn’t alone.
I joined Facebook groups. I talked to friends of mine who breastfed, or wish they did. People commended me, they validated me, and one person in particular (who was with me from early in my pregnancy, there when my daughter was born, and after) who educated me and supported me consistently and oftentimes when I needed it more than anything else.
And I kept going, even though there were times I felt desperate to stop, perhaps for just a day, or a moment, or a night- to share the vast responsibility of growing, birthing, and feeding this small amazing person who brought me to my knees and changed my life.

Then, incredibly, and like many other aspects of motherhood, it got easier. Not immediately, and not overnight, but slowly and surely and then suddenly. Suddenly, breastfeeding was the easiest part of motherhood.

Suddenly, my confidence in myself and my ability as a woman and a mother was incredibly affirmed and increased. I am amazing, I made it through long enough to reach a place of ease in something I once considered giving up.
I set goals, and wandered through, eyes closed and arms outstretched. Even when I fell into pits, and found my way out. And when giving up was an option I kept going.

I remember, hoping, wishing, to make it, to not give up. Reasoning that I would make it to at least 6 weeks, then at least 3 months.
And then, it was just a part of our life. An amazing, incredible, and valuable part of our life.
Now, at seventeen months strong, I can say with confidence that we are going as long as my daughter finds comfort and need in breastfeeding – even if its years and years from now.
And I will never feel shame for lifting my shirt in public to feed and comfort my child.

And one day, she wont need or want to nurse. But that day is not today, and I hope that it is not tomorrow. But if it is, and when it is, I will be there, holding her hand, and we will forever have the bond that began in my womb and continues to grow every single day.

Today, I Was Triggered

Today I was triggered.

It happened early in the day. I woke up tired, so tired. But I was happy, I was ok.
I looked out of my bedroom window. My small bedroom inside of a shelter, where I sleep alone with my daughter.
It wasn’t raining, just wet, it was dim and the air looked wet. It looked so comfortable.
I blinked, not a normal quick blink, the type that lasts years and years and sends images of memories running through your head. I was in Redding, waking up for school, living with my mom and my brother.
And for a moment, without quite realizing it, I became sad, so sad.
My eyes got heavy, and my mind became wet with thoughts and feelings.

Then, in the shower, with soap all over my body, the water pressure slowed gradually until nothing came out. I stood there for a few moments, trying to wash the soap off myself with the final, cold drips falling from the pipes.
Willow smiled up at me and reached to be picked up.

While we were getting ready Willow began to cry. She whined, and reached, and yelled a few times. She wanted something, but I didn’t know what it was.
I made a conscious effort to keep hold of my patience and not become upset with her. We both just felt a lot and needed a moment.
So we sat in bed, half dressed, and read a few books and had some quiet time.
By the time we were ready, we both felt a little better.

Then, leaving a few minutes later than I intended, I stepped outside.
Again, I was triggered.

The air was filled with a smell and a feeling and a look that filled me with a feeling of memory.
Someone came from behind me and hit me in the back with a bag of feelings and thoughts and half-memories.

Nostalgia.

The memories weren’t whole; they were feelings that were happy and sad, and thoughts that were too fuzzy to really be thoughts. No actual memories came. It was a feeling of memory.
As I walked, I felt somber.
I was also really content. The air smelled so good, and I felt very mindful. I enjoyed the foggy air, and I felt calm and able to observe everything around me.

Suddenly, I would feel sad, or have an intense longing for something, although I wasn’t sure what for exactly.
I would look at a building, one I see every day, and it was as if I had just noticed it was there. Suddenly, I would be clubbed with this feeling of memory.
I saw the water through the buildings and felt a strong urge to wander.
I felt no urgency or sense of time, almost as if I had been suspended into my own universe, within the outside world but separated by a strong sense of awareness.
Or something like that.

As I continued to walk, I thought about how I felt, I wrote about it in my head.
My contentedness grew into a subtle happiness. I felt so calm.

The wind blew my hair over my eyes and nose. The smell of shampoo filled my nostrils.

Again this wave hit me.
No actual memories.
But the bodily sensation of being somewhere I wasn’t.
The nostalgia.
A vague mixture of happiness and sadness.
And many thoughts I couldn’t quite place or identify.

Today I was triggered.
And I’ve never quite handled it so well, and I’m so glad I was.

Spring is almost here! To celebrate, here is Willow destroying nature. (P.S. I do not pick flowers or disturb nature, someone gave this to us)

Uncomfortable, For Now.

**I posted this blog on March 23rd, and accidentally deleted it while editing** Repost**
March 23rd, 2018

I hate where I live.

Yesterday, as a group, we were told that we would be on lockdown. For three weeks. Three weeks trapped in the house, being punished for the actions of the other women I live with.
I feel angry, so incredibly angry.
And I want to scream and be juvenile; I feel the strong urge to act out, show them how stupid and senseless this is.
But I am trying so very hard to resist this urge.
I am reminding myself that what is most important, is my daughter, and her wellbeing. I am going to remind myself that she will not realize how unhappy I am unless I show her. But I am struggling.

I live in a shelter, and I am constantly being judged based on the assumption that I have wound up here by some wrong-doing I have committed.
In reality, I came here as a result of domestic violence.

I lived in my own apartment, paid my bills, and had a savings account.
And then my relationship changed. Or maybe it didn’t really change, maybe I just woke up one day.
My awakening happened so gradually that I rejected each sign that I should leave.
And when I tried to look at it, it was only for a moment.

Slowly, the savings account disappeared. My belongings were taken or broken. I was convinced that my friends and family were horrible and no good for me. And I was no good, too.
I was promiscuous, crazy, a druggie. I flirted with everyone I spoke with. Said too much, was so embarrassing and stupid. Dramatic. I was so lucky to be loved by him and would never be loved by anyone else. I was so hard to love, I wasn’t too likeable. He was special for putting up with me.
And sometimes, I was a good mom, I tried my best, even though I was usually still bad. I was good company sometimes.
I believed it all, and never questioned it.

He handed me a mask, and I taped it to my face without any thought. At some point, I forgot it was just a mask.
Then I realized I was unhappy, and as I realized one thing was off, it all suddenly came slamming down in front of me.

And then something scary happened.
It wasn’t the first time.
But it pushed me out, I had been looking for a good excuse to leave anyways, but this was a reason to run.
And so I did.

I looked back a lot at first.
And now, months later, I feel happy. I’m feel proud. I am beginning to feel like myself again.
I still see him, talk to him, I still think of him as my friend, sometimes I think maybe I love him. Sometimes I hate him, so much. But things feel weirdly normal, and I am ok.

I cannot wait to leave this place, this dark angry place. This shelter is hard to be at.
But I remember that nothing lasts forever.

I remember staying up late at night, crying, laying next my sleeping baby because I felt so trapped. And I wanted to escape, and get out but I didn’t know how and I didn’t even know if I had the right to feel that way. And then, slowly but suddenly, I did. I set my intention, and I left. And I know that nothing lasts forever, and that is especially true for things that are painful and uncomfortable.

Life is not supposed to be good always.

And it is not bad always, and it won’t be. One day soon, Willow and I will wake up in our own bed, in our own home and we will be happy and comfortable and at peace.

(My beautiful Bear a few months ago around Christmas)

Spring is coming!!!

So it looks like Spring is staring to kick Winter’s butt a little more each day! (Whoo-hoo get out of here Witner!!)


What are your favorite things to do in the Spring?!

I love just sitting outside when the sun is warm and the air is cool, its so relaxing and refreshing.
I wish I had my bike, too, because I love that.
I can’t wait to take Willow to the park and go for walks every day again! Of course we still do that now, but it’s a little less enjoyable.
Long days are the best.

What are your plans this Spring?

Thinking About Everything and Nothing

Friday, March 16, 2018
Life is weird. It’s horrible and wonderful and fun and scary and exciting and sad. All of that is loosely wrapped into a pattern of wrapping paper that you don’t chose, that doesn’t change the contents it holds or matter much, but is what many people will judge us based upon, without looking inside. Then we throw in feelings; lots of feelings. Thoughts, too- which are different from feelings, but maybe they are exactly the same. I’m not sure. There are also experiences, both good and bad. Whether we perceive them as positive or negative, they happen, and they change us. And they help us and they hurt us: and supposedly we have control over that, but I’m not always quite sure of that. Then there’s time. We can’t control it, have little understanding of it, and are unaware of how much we have. And time changes and it changes us- constantly. It’s like this river that can grow into an ocean or shrink into a puddle suddenly and without clear cause. And finally there’s uncertainty; lots of that.
We are thrown into life holding these packages that grow and grow, or maybe they stay the same for a long time, or maybe they shrink; we don’t know, or at least I don’t, and usually we don’t even know or understand what’s inside of them. Then we are sounded by millions of other people and their packages and their feelings and confusion. And we are constantly bumping into them or holding their hands or pushing them away. That’s mostly what life is made of. I think.
Sometimes I think my anxiety or my depression or whatever it is: something in me that I don’t like, but should probably try to make friends with, forces me to try to define things. So constantly, I am attempting to place reason upon the unreasonable. This futile attempt to define many small things, alongside the one big thing- life- is not good for me. I mean, maybe it’s not all that bad. Sometimes I come to a reasonable understanding of something. Or maybe it gives me a unique lens to look at life through. But I think more often than not, it either causes me to romanticize that which is unhealthy or sad or negative; or it causes my mind to run in circles, chasing its own tail, desperately attempting to catch something that will never reach my fingertips.
But I am not all bad, and neither is life, or the people in it, or the packages glued to our palms. And today is a beautiful day, and spring is coming which fills me with happiness and hope. Recently, I got a new camera, and that means I can be creative again, which I used to be able to do constantly. And Willow and I had a beautiful night and morning today. I cannot wait to bring her for a ride on her new tricycle-thingy. And I’m happy and content, and the sun is pulling the sorrow from my skin and replacing it with hope. Right now I am happy, for the most part, and today is a good day. And all I can ever ask is to be good enough, and anything after that is extra. Someone I love told me that, and I like to hold onto things which make me think of people I love, and I like to think of life in lose but concrete ways, if that makes sense. Because even though everything is always changing and always will, right now it is how it is and that is ok.

Discomfort doesn’t last

This time of year is hard for me.
Maybe it’s the cold, or the holidays, or the constant reminder of new beginnings which is really just a reminder of failures you have committed.
I don’t remember if it’s always been this hard to muddle through the days as it feels right now. Maybe it’s only felt like this for a few days, or weeks or months. Maybe it’s felt like this for years. I don’t know why I can’t remember. I probably could if I stopped all my thoughts and everything else coming and going through my body and mind, but I think that would take an extraordinary amount of effort, and energy, which I feel as though I have almost none of. Sometimes I crave the feeling of motivation. To be energized and excited by life, and feel the deep, strong push from within to do. Other times I want to curl up in my feelings and recede deeply within my sadness and heavy mind until all I can feel around me is the dull vibration of the world around me.
I think I’m depressed.
I think I need a break, or a vacation, or many, many long naps.
I think I need someone to come with big strong arms and grab hold of everything I carry, without asking, and just walk away from me.
I just want everything to stop for a while. I need either to suddenly become disgustingly happy or be given the grace to fall apart and become a dark oozing puddle.
And then I remember, I can’t. I can’t fall apart, and it’s not likely that I will soon be given a break or a vacation. It’s silly to imagine a giant lumberjack walking up to me and relieving me of everything I carry in my mind and body. Life will continue to relentlessly come towards me, and it won’t stop for a very very long time.
Maybe it would help me to be myself. Not mom, or employee, or friend. Just be me. Sit and listen to music and draw and do all the silly things that made my life important before I was too important to do them. I feel so far away from myself sometimes. Or, really, a lot of times.
It feels like I’m not Eliza anymore, and I never will be again; I’ll just be Mom forever and ever.
The pressure of being mom feels like too much some days. It feels like the pressure of starting a semester really strong. Making friends, doing homework, getting A’s, being liked by your teachers and yourself. And going and going and forgetting about yourself and everything else until suddenly you turn around and there’s a mountain behind you that’s been slowly building for weeks. And you see the mountain shake and falter and you run. But you can’t run fast enough, and you’re not strong enough to stop it from falling. So it does, and it crushes you. And all of a sudden you fail over and over again until that’s who you are; a failure. And you fail at school and life and work and so you decide giving up is much easier then disappointing anyone. It feels like I’m going and going- far past my tipping point, and I’m scared to turn around and see the mountain that’s built up behind me. I’m scared because I know if I look, I’ll see how close it is to tipping over. And I am scared to break; I’m scared to fail and give up. But how on Earth can I find the strength within to keep going?
Maybe it’s best not to wonder how on Earth I will get through. Maybe I should just blindly go forward. Like I did when I gave birth. Like I’ve done throughout my life. Maybe that’s how all the successful people do it; suffer silently while blindly trusting their own tremendous strength.
When I was a teenager, I did a lot of Yoga. It became a panacea to my issues. It helped me love my body, trust my strength, and feel physically and spiritually empowered. I remember one time I went to a Kundalini class- which I had never done before or even heard of. I had no idea the physical strain holding one pose for long periods would have on me. I remember being in a big class, with people I didn’t know, and a teacher I had never met. I was scared of the discomfort I began to feel. I remember saying to myself- give up- put your arms down and rest. At some point in the practice, I closed my eyes and realized that five seconds ago I felt like I could not physically continue, but I had. And I had done that continuously and unconsciously throughout the practice. It was empowering to realize the hidden strength I had. I remember talking myself through the pose- reminding myself that discomfort cannot and will not kill me. That I would not die from this discomfort- that no disaster would happen- the only possibility I was looking at was the one of falling out of a pose. So I kindly told myself that I was strong, that I could and would stay in this pose for as long as I physically could. I would not convince myself to give up, as I had silently been doing throughout my practice. And if I did fall out of a pose, or give in from unbearable discomfort, that I would not be ashamed or embarrassed. I promised myself I would be proud of making it farther than I had ever imagined.
In life, I have gone much further than I have imagined. I have lived. I have stopped cutting, and numbing myself with drugs and alcohol. I have been a mother, and a good one. I have made it another day, every single day, for the last 8,166 days. Through unimaginable pain, sadness, happiness, and anger I have made it. And today, I promise myself I will make it. And if I wake up tomorrow and decide I must give up, then I will allow myself to. But for the next hour, I promise myself I will make it. And tomorrow when I wake up I will promise myself to make it again and again.
And if I can’t love myself enough to do it for me, I will do it for my daughter.
And I will become stronger and happier and better.
And maybe not tomorrow or next week or next year, but someday I will be given a break and a vacation and everything else I want and need.

Me and Willow at the train station
Willow listening to Christmas carolers
Me and Willow on Christmas Eve eve
Willow is unimpressed by the giant Christmas tree
The best Christmas present… a magic box!