Tag Archives: Mother

The Real Intent of Mother’s Day

Anna_jarvis

I have always associated “Mothers Day” as a Hallmark holiday, and thus have truly resented it. And in recent years, its also become a time when I am inundated with requests to write articles.

As someone who runs my own editorial calendar for www.intentblog.com , I know there is higher search, sponsorship opportunities, and popularity on this theme so strategically it’s a good idea for a media platform to honor moms this week.

So here I am writing a post, and created a Flipagram, even though I have issues against doing it. Continue reading

The Beauty of Silence, Meditation and Donuts

IMG_3402There’s nothing like a donut to bring two people together.

I brought my truck in for a long overdue oil change yesterday.  My five year-old son came with me and we decided the one hour wait would be a perfect opportunity to visit the donut shop next door.  We hustled in from the cold and ordered up a couple of hot chocolates and sweet treats.

I invited my little man to choose our table and he pointed toward a two-top in the far corner.  The space felt noticeably peaceful.  Nearby three old men sat reading the paper, enjoying a warm ray of sunlight shining through floor-to-ceiling windows.  We smiled at them as we passed and I followed my son to the corner, listening to the quick, rhythmic shoosh-shoosh-shoosh of his snow pants he walked through the quiet shop.

We sat down and got cozy, shaking off our jackets and releasing shocks of staticy hair from under our hats, then reached for our goodies.  I unwrapped my go-to flavor, Boston Cream, and he slowly revealed own his favorite, Strawberry Sprinkled.  He laid the pink donut on a napkin and sipped his cocoa, “Too hot!”  I peeled off the cap and poured in a little more milk.  He tried it again.  “Mmmmm.  ‘S good.”

“What happened in school today, buddy?”

No answer.

“Did you learn anything new?”

Shrug.

He was not interested in conversation.  He pushed his cocoa aside and turned his focus on the awaiting spongey delight.  I decided to stop talking and simply enjoy the sight of my little guy wholly engaging in an exquisite eating meditation.

With deep concentration he examined his snack on the table.  He picked it up and sunk his teeth in.  When a tiny red jimmy toppled onto his napkin, he pinched it between his thumb and forefinger and meticulously nestled it back into the icing.  He chewed and paused and chewed some more.  He lifted the donut high above his head with one hand, clearly in awe of its deliciousness.  He held it up to me as if to say, Look, Mamma, isn’t it beautiful?  But he didn’t utter a word.  He just returned his full awareness to the slow and methodical extinction of one pink donut.  He carefully selected which portion to bite, mindful to save the sweetest bit for last.  He chewed and relished and appreciated the donut so entirely, I could only imagine that for him, in those moments, not one other thing existed in the whole wide world.

The last bite was upon him.  He popped it into his mouth, chewed for a long while, swallowed, then tossed his head back in the chair, staring at the ceiling, seemingly reconciling the experience.

I paused to take in the warm hush of the donut shop.  And I realized that silence is a pretty amazing way to communicate.

I smiled then laughed out loud.  I told him I loved him.

“I love you, too, Mamma,” he finally responded.

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Wordplay Wednesday: To My Dear Child

Submitted by Sophie Badami, from Pune, India

I love you if you reply to my mail

But if you don’t reply to my mail, I love you even more.

I love you if you acknowledge my e -message,

But if you don’t I love you even more.

I love you if you acknowledge my existencce

But I love you more if you dont

I love you if you have to say something nice about me

But I love you more if you say something not -so- nice about me.

I love you if I know that you are happy

But I love you more if I know you are unhappy.

I love you if you are successful

But I love you more if you are not successful.

I love you if you are hale and hearty,

But I love you more if you are sick.

I love you if you are physically fit

But I love you more if you are not.

I love you if you are friendly to me

But I love you more if you ignore me

I love you if you phone me sometimes

But I love you even more if you don’t.

I love you if your share your thoughts and feelings

But I love you more if you cant.

I love you if you follow my advice

But I love you even more if you cant

I love you if you achieve something in life

But I love you if you fail to do so

I love you if you help me out

But I love you even more if you overlook my request for help.

My child, I used to think that love is two-way-traffic.

But now I know, one-way is bliss.

And all my love- you-more are indicators,

That I share your pain, your hurt and your suffering like my own.

***

Do you have a favorite or original poem you would like showcased on Wordplay Wednesday? We’d love to share it! Email the poem to editor@intent.com, and we will feature it in the series. Click here to view past Wordplay Wednesdays.

photo by: legends2k

Are You Willing To Change Your Perspective?

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 5.08.10 PMYou have been arguing with your mother for years about how she treated you when you were younger. It has allowed for a marginal relationship at best. Are you willing to see you and your mother differently?

You think your boss is a real jerk. He doesn’t communicate clearly or effectively and that bugs you. You feel he is cheap with the compliments about your work and has never seemed to make an effort to have a sound professional relationship with you. Are you willing to see him differently?

We can’t change people. We can, however, change how we feel about them and how we respond to them. We can, if we are willing to see things differently, change how our days and relationships unfold. We just have to see it, want it and choose it.

Most of today’s conflicts happen out of yesterday’s events. We are pros at bringing the past into our present. We allow memories and experiences to keep us small, upset and justifying why it is right to fear, hate or insult. Stories and perspectives from others color our views and opinions so we think things like rich people are selfish, poor people are lazy, Muslims are terrorists, gay couples are trying to upset traditional marriage, nerdy kids are un-popular (or fill in your favorite bias or judgment).

Things improve only when we are willing – when we intentionally choose – to change. Are you willing to see your world differently? Are you willing to stop bringing the story of your biases and judgments that came from your past into your present?

This is important for two reasons:

  1. You could change you. In this judgmental place, we step out of our greatness; we keep ourselves small, petty and critical. In our judgments, we live in a constant state of disappointment, frustration and hurt. Seeing things differently could change this. Most of today’s misery comes from how we allow ourselves to see the world and others, rather than how they really are. We let our stories of who we think they are influence how we relate to them and how we approach our world. You could change this.
  2. You could change your world. The world is built by those who are right here, right now. If we all are willing to get past our stories, biases, and judgments and learn to focus on what is great in each of us, we could transform our world.

We frequently run on autopilot – allowing our responses to drive us instead of driving our responses. By being more present in each moment, we give ourselves greater awareness and control over our emotions, thoughts and therefore our choices. We choose our responses instead of letting them choose us. In that one moment we have the ability to determine if we are willing to see people differently – to see their greatness instead of their failures. We can then see that they are human and are not intended to be perfect – only who they really are.

We have a long history or not allowing ourselves to see things differently – change is hard. Our brain loves routine, the status quo and patterns. It feels safe when it knows what is coming next. This even includes the hurtful and painful things in life. See a battered wife defend her husband or an abused child cling to his or her abusing parent.

What would have to happen for us to want to see things differently – to see from our hearts instead of our heads – to focus on love instead of fear or anger? Because if today’s world isn’t at a place to compel us to change how we see ourselves and others, then I am concerned on what it may take to actually inspire us to make this change.

So back to our relationships. Are we willing to see them differently – as more honest, more intimate, more caring, more loving, more present, more faithful and more forgiving?

Back to our work. Are we willing to see it differently – as more effective, more efficient, more present and more interested?

Back to our lives. Are we willing to see them differently – as more valuable, more significant, more precious, more compassionate and more present?

We choose how we show up to the events of our life; choice is our greatest gift. Since things are our choice, are we willing to choose to see things differently – better, wiser, kinder, more loving – greater? That is the key to building a most amazing world. You have a part. So do I. I am in. How about you?

5 Quotes on the Importance of Family

Magazines-24-711. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” – Lilo & Stitch (Walt Disney Studios)

Disney has ways of making all of us cry, but one of the universal “Hold on, let me grab the tissue” moments was when Stitch reminded Lio what “ohana” means. No matter what our family looks like or whether they are blood related to us, family sticks together.

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2. “I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching, they are your family” – Jim Butcher (source)

Family isn’t always about blood relations – it’s about being there for each other. Don’t get so caught up in logistics.

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3. “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” (source)

Our loved ones may not always be around when we need them, but know that they stay with us even when they go.

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4. “Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” (source)

We may move on from our homes, but families help us keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

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5. “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox (source)

We can trust a man who got his start in Hollywood on a show called “Family Ties” to know a thing or two about family bonds. Plus Michael J. Fox is just an all-around good guy.

Honoring My Mother on the Anniversary of Her Passing

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 10.26.43 AMIt’s a practice of healing and cleansing, one of renewal and expansion. As the shift happens, a rawness sets in. It is a total unshielding of spirit/heart/energy…whatever you choose to call it, it really doesn’t matter as it is one in the same. Once the breakthrough has taken place through yoga, you can’t hide.

Today she would have been 73. And fabulous.

A few sweet notes came in, three or four from family. I rolled through the day aware, but unfazed. I have been through 7 birthdays now without her, and 7 deathdays. I don’t miss her any differently on these days as I find little significance to the anniversary and birthday. Every day, any day, could be one of those dates. All those dates hold is one moment in time where she came, and left. There is an entire lifetime in between, so those are the days l choose to celebrate and honor.

Or do I? Is this my triumphant ego talking of my healing path? Am I seeing what is really happening here? Today, I had a distracted morning yoga session. Happy but not, light but heavy, sorta wanted to be there sorta didn’t. The class I taught in the evening was about the same. “Totally disconnected to spirit,” was how I described my feelings to a friend after class. Without seeing the connection to the importance of the day, I chose to teach heart openers themed on balance between all facets of ourselves needing acceptance, honor, and love. All facets include flaw, beauty, scar, perfection, imperfection, insecurity, spark, and even consciously choosing dark when light is handed over on a white glove. In order to live a life of honor and self-love, we must self-love all of it. Just as we need to deeply feel pain so we feel joy in even greater measure, we must also honor the dark and the dingy so we can even more so love the easier to love pieces that ignite us.

It wasn’t until 9:30 this evening that I realized why I had been off all day. It wasn’t so much that I was full of sorrow and pain, it was that I hadn’t taken the time out to honor her. It has taken me years to get to a place where the pain of losing her isn’t so strong it shows up physically in my body. As much as I don’t want these days to be of significance, as much as my ego would like to decide when and where I shall feel…the heart doesn’t follow suit. My energy body needed to honor and love her. My soul needed to connect with her through some kind of ceremony. Living in a much more raw and unshielded place these days, it just doesn’t fly anymore to let my mind do the driving.

For my 36th birthday last month a friend gave me a tuberose candle that has two wicks. Unbeknownst to her, it was my mom’s favorite scent. I lit two flames tonight, laid for a few minutes with each of my sleeping babes, ate rainier cherries (her favorite), and sat in the quiet to write this piece.

It doesn’t need to be a big production to quietly and ceremoniously honor the heart. It doesn’t need much…just a little attention, some raw love, honor, and recognition.

Heart mended for the time being, maybe even on its way to being healed.

Baby Stories: A Guide to Pregnancy Journaling

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 4.23.38 PMBy Zoë Colette Etkin

As a Los Angeles-based birth and postpartum doula, my goal is to bridge the gaps in care for mothers, babies, and families through the perinatal period by providing physical and emotional support, education and resources. My other life’s passion is writing, and a year ago I earned my MFA in poetry. However, the main type of writing I’ve done throughout my life is journaling. My first journal dates back to my 5th or 6th year of life! Journaling has always allowed me to explore my thoughts and feelings, or jot down a strange dream, or even complain. Now that I work with mamas, I see how important it is for them navigate the complex waves of emotion that come with pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood.

Sometimes it’s difficult for new moms to express those feelings out loud. Writing and journaling through our ups and downs can relieve stress, help center and focus the mind, and force us to carve out a little “me time” in our busy lives. Keeping a pregnancy-specific journal is beneficial in several ways: it helps you focus on and connect to the baby growing inside, keeps a log of your emotions and physical sensations, and helps you work through fears and anxieties. Depending on your relationship to writing, you may journal with ease. For women who need prompts, I recommend the following as a guide.

Pregnancy Journal

Today’s Date:

Emotional Landscape: Today I am feeling….

Physical Sensations: (Examples: hunger, morning sickness, kicks or flutters of baby, tiredness, belly is growing, I see the pregnancy glow, etc.)

Today I want to tell the baby….

Today’s affirmation: My body is strong and capable of birthing my baby.

Today’s question: (Here you can talk about things you aren’t sure about. Fears, concerns, questions, etc.)

Today I am planning for you by doing…. (Here you can talk about prenatal check ups, classes you may be taking, buying things for the nursery, hiring a doula, making a list of people who will help out once baby is here, etc.)

Birth Stories

The topic of birth stories is actually one where people have varying schools of thought. Many doulas write birth stories for their clients. Some take a practical approach, chronicling the various times and events that took place, others take a more narrative approach and make it into more of a story. Either way it can be nice to have someone else’s perspective on how the birth went, since time is experienced much differently by the birthing woman. However, it can be important and cathartic for the woman herself to write the experience down as it was to her. If you had a traumatic birth or an ideal birth, writing through the experience can help release feelings you may be having or can affirm and celebrate positive experiences.

Another angle on the birth story is to write it for your child. Some write it as a children’s book for a young child, others write it for when their child is an adult. Either way, it can be a beautiful way to share that experience with your child.

Postpartum Journaling

There will be much less time to write once the baby has arrived, but I still encourage postpartum moms to journal when they can. Just like the pregnancy journal, it’s a nice way to chronicle your emotional landscape, as well as record all the baby milestones. Certainly a baby book makes room for that sort of thing, but it doesn’t give the mother the opportunity to write through her changes and her experiences. I find that postpartum moms can often feel ignored in the bustle of the new baby. Friends and family are constantly visiting and doting on the baby and moms can kind of feel like, “Hey, what about me?” It’s important that the mom have certain support persons who are there to concentrate on her. Postpartum doulas do this job well. Journaling, too, can help moms to take a few minutes to turn inward and focus on themselves and their feelings. It’s so important that postpartum women feel supported and also have an outlet for their feelings. I want to say, though, that if you see a postpartum mom who seems disengaged, or showing extreme emotions, she might need to talk to a professional, as she might be displaying signs of a postpartum mood disorder. Emotions certainly run high for new moms, but it’s important that she have people who are supporting her and have an eye out for behavior that might need further attention.

Allowing some time to journal during the perinatal period can give a woman the opportunity to think through and connect to her experiences in a special way. It also creates a record of her experiences that she may choose to go back to in the future. The process of journaling encourages growth in that it affords the ability to go back and read about yourself at different moments of your life, through different patterns of thought, different approaches to situations. You learn from your past, reflect on your present, and dream about your future all in one space that you can return to when you want, or not when you don’t. Mamas, I encourage you to grab a pen and paper and begin your writing journey today!

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76773_582146197395_8154608_nZoe Etkin is an LA-based CAPPA trained birth and postpartum doula, poet, and teacher. She earned her MFA in Writing from CalArts, where she earned the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts. She is the editor of Red Sky: A Literary Journal, and her own poetry can be found in many print and web publications. She is committed to educating and empowering women, supporting families, and promoting good writing.

Photo credit: Gabi Menashe

Permission to be Imperfect: All Parents “Scar” Their Children

A Mothers Touch

By Vanessa Gobes

It was spring and I was walking under the pink magnolia blossoms lining Commonwealth Ave in Boston, on my way to a prenatal yoga class. After a long struggle with morning sickness and lethargy, I was starting to feel energized again and was exploring ways to stay in shape while carrying. Yoga sounded like a safe bet so I trotted off to my first class.

I was five months along, just starting to develop a visible roundness to my belly, finally wearing real maternity clothes and beginning to think of this baby as more than just the impetus for nausea and a stuffy nose.

There was a teensy person in there, growing fast. I’d just found out she was a girl and obsessively tried on baby names. I can’t be sure, but I can imagine myself mentally combing through “The Best 1,000 Baby Names of 2004” when my clog caught a mislaid brick and I face-planted right there on the sidewalk – well, more like belly-planted. I landed tummy first, arms reaching awkwardly forward and legs stretching behind me. I didn’t move.

A man in a business suit hustled over to help me find my feet and I stood there for a few moments, examining my scraped, bloodied palms, brushing sand off my protruding belly. I told the good samaritan I was okay and hobbled off to yoga, sniffling and deflated.

The scene, in general, was nothing overly memorable. The pain was minimal, the spring day was ordinary, the clumsiness was nothing I hadn’t experienced before. But this stumble laid the first foundational stone in what would become a motherhood filled with worry.

During the weeks following my fall, I had convinced myself that I’d caused my baby harm. I would lie in bed at night with my palms splayed out on my belly, begging Baby Girl Gobes for a kick or a hiccup or an arcing elbow to confirm that she was still alive.

I called my OB, “But I fell FLAT on my belly, doc… all of my weight… must have crushed her. Should I come in for an ultrasound or something? Anything?” My doctor assured me the baby was fine.

Pregnancy progressed normally but I still found other things to worry about: smoke rising from manhole covers, cabin pressure on a trans-Atlantic flight, chlorinated pools, bumpy car rides and arguments with my husband. All of these ordinary things seemed to pose a danger to my unborn child and I began to stockpile an armory of “what ifs.”

As I neared week 40, I committed myself to natural childbirth. I worked with a doula, an extraordinary woman who assured me that both the baby and me would be better off for a drug-free experience.

No drugs. No way out. Well, one way out – between my legs. Holy shit.

I liken the feeling to preparing for a date with the firing squad. The sentence has been decided, it’s scary, people are watching, it’s going to hurt like hell and the aftermath is a complete and utter mystery.

As it turned out, all those things were true. But instead of a blindfold and a lit cigarette, I was equipped with an IV and ice chips.

After several hours of contractions and pushing, my baby girl was placed gently on my chest and I briefly bawled my eyes out. I didn’t die after all. Instead heaven came to me. And with heaven, as is expected in motherhood, came even more worry.

Am I doing this right? Am I permanently scarring my child? Am I a crappy Mom? Is my kid going to hate me for all of the mistakes I’m making? We all ask these things, right? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions validate all of our parental concerns.

Because we aren’t doing it right. No one does. We are totally scarring our children. That’s what parents do. Every parent wears the Crap Crown sometimes. And yes, our kids will hate us at some point – we’ll just have to hope it’s short-lived and based in irrational, hormonal, misplaced logic.

But unlike the pain of childbirth, there is a way out of our looming motherly fears – acceptance. When we accept this inevitability, something really amazing happens. That tight grip we have on the worry and concern and anxiety, nestled so conveniently into parenthood, loosens. The worry evaporates.

We accept that there’s only so much we as mothers can do. We can guide them. We can educate them. We can encourage them. But we can’t live life for them. They are who they are.

They’re going to fail classes, get sick, lose games, offend adults, break arms, lose expensive electronics, crash cars, and make fools of themselves, just like we did. That will change when they are adults. Or it won’t.

Some will overachieve early then burn out – or maybe continue to overachieve and stress out. Some will fly below the radar then launch into the stratosphere of success later in life. And some will be total screw-ups for the duration of the ride. And all of that is okay.

There are important lessons to be learned regardless of the path, each as valuable as the other. In fact, the drug-addict / drop-out / derelict probably learns more about life than the magna cum laude MIT grad groomed by his parents for high achievement. Life without life-learning is no life at all.

But enough about them, let’s get back to us. The Mommies. Because we’re the ones connecting here. We’re exploring our own feelings associated with worrying about our kids (who probably aren’t worrying about themselves at all).

Worry is like tumbleweed, picking up all sorts of garbage as the winds of life roll it along. Garbage that doesn’t help us one bit. If we Moms allow the tumbleweed to entangle us, we’ll only end up with deep wrinkles, sleepless nights, and multiple prescriptions for Xanax.

But worry and acceptance cannot exist in the same space. It’s impossible. And there are beautiful side effects of acceptance: liberation, trust, and peace.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a break from the obsession? From the projection? From the competition? From the fear? From all of those ugly tendencies that we’ve been carrying around since scraping our bellies off the sidewalk in week 20 of pregnancy?

Dragging around a garbage bag of fear will only encourage those same feelings in our children. That black Hefty is only so thick. And our trashy bits end up ripping the liner, leaking out and causing a big stink for the people around us. People like the kids we’re worrying so much about. Sure, we can tell them not to worry. But our kiddos do as we do, right? So let’s do something helpful – model acceptance and collaboration.

Easier said than done, I know. But acknowledging fear and the reasons for fear is a beautiful stimulus for change, creating wide crack for light to shine in and expose fear for what it is: Useless, stinky garbage.

Meditation is a great way to drag those useless habits out to the magnolia-lined curb.

Often when I meditate lately, I hear the words “create space”. (I’d love to know who is saying that to me, by the way.) For me, the creation of space is a deliberate effort to push all of life’s clutter off to the sides and invite an open connection between me and the universe.  In that open space, I can find acceptance. Anyone can do this. You don’t need to take a class or read a book or have a special degree to do it. You just have to know how to breathe.

Solutions don’t have to be complicated or even external. Peace is as close as your breath.

I’m so grateful for this mindfulness practice. Through non-doing, I’m actually doing the best thing I could do for myself and my family. There will be times ahead during which my trust in the universe will be tested, I’m sure. Nights when I’m wearing a trench in my hardwood floors from pacing. Days when my kids are flailing and I’m desperate to carry their pain the way I carried their little bodies so long ago. But the more I practice acceptance, the easier I’ll recover from those angst-ridden moments. Mindfulness is a lifelong practice that deepens with time. And as far as I can tell, time is all we’ve got.

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vanessaheadshot-3Vanessa Gobes is a full time house frau and jane of all trades. She’s currently blogging her way to awakening through a steady diet of kindness, compassion and mindfulness – considering herself not quite Buddhist, but Bu-curious. Her current intent is to work on infusing a daily morning meditation routine into each public school in her town. Vanessa is a community activista, philanthropista and newspaper columnista in Winchester, Massachusetts. Read her stories on her blog, Bringing Up Buddhas.

5 Impressive DIY Mother’s Day Gifts in An Hour or Less!

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Moms make the world go round. Dads, mentors, teachers, and grandparents are pretty important, too, but for this weekend let’s hear it for moms! Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and they all find their own paths to motherhood. But all you moms out there, you know who you are. We know who you are, too. And thank you.

For the special mom or moms in your life, nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like a homemade gift. Save the store-bought candles and Apple products (or whatever your mama is into) for another occasion. It takes a bit more time and planning to make your own gift, but here are 5 DIY presents you can do in an hour or less! All of the projects include ginger, an ingredient which you may have noticed we are absolutely obsessed with of late.

1. Ginger Body Scrub (Beautiful With Brains)

The special mama in your life will love the all-natural feel, scent, and exfoliating power of this homemade body scrub. So many beauty products these days are packed with parabens and other chemicals, and it can be hard to feel luxurious and toxin-free at the same time. Make your own skin products and voilà! Problem solved! Present the scrub to Mom in an elegant glass jar, and she’ll feel utterly pampered.

2. Rhubarb Ginger Jam (Witchin’ in the Kitchen)

A tangy, zesty, and impeccably classy jar of jam for spreading on toast, mixing in oatmeal, and eating by the spoonful. Try using ginger powder instead of the root for the same spicing effect, minus the labor of peeling and mincing. And you can cut the ingredient measurements way down to make a single jar serving. Feel free to skip the water bath step if you and mama will enjoy within a couple weeks.

3. Ginger Scalp Treatment (Wakaya Perfection)

Ginger is believed to help stimulate circulation, which can lead to hair growth. Mix the ingredients up for this recipe and present it to Mom in a chic jar or bottle. Try making a custom label, too! It’ll look like something you got from the salon, but will be made with all natural ingredients, zero chemicals, and by the loving hands of YOU!

4. Ginger Cashew Granola (Alaska From Scratch)

Yum. And healthy! Ginger, quinoa, cashews, coconut oil… ‘Nuff said. Bake up a big batch of this and gift it to mama in a jar, clear cellophane bag with ribbon, or straight in the bowl with yogurt or milk for a delicious Mother’s Day breakfast. You’re bound to make more than one gift’s worth, so bag up the rest of it for all the moms in the neighborhood! (Or sneak the rest home with you.)

5. Mint-Ginger Lemonade (Wakaya Perfection)

If it’s starting to get warm where you are (or even if it isn’t!) nothing says summer like a big glass of lemonade. Double, triple, or quadruple this recipe, and pour it in a big, elegant carafe so Mom can enjoy its freshness all week. If your mama is adventurous, she can even pour in a touch of vodka for the perfect lemon drop martini!

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Mother’s day is just around the corner. Wakaya Perfection makes a great gift for Mom whether she enjoys a Zingarita, a hot cup of tea or a soothing ginger bath! Check out http://wakayaperfection.com for recipes and homemade gift ideas featuring Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger. Use the promo code HAPPYMOM and receive 15% off your next purchase!

Wakaya Perfection Ginger Powder has been featured in the LA Times, New York Times Gift GuideOprah’s favorite things and may more!

The Truth About Medications during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 5.54.14 PMThree years ago, I received a tragic phone call from a friend. Her sister, whom I’ll call Mary — a bright young woman who had struggled with bipolar disorder throughout her life — had recently given birth to her second child. Mary had chosen to go off her psychiatric medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This hadn’t posed a problem during and after the birth of her first child. But this time, it led to disaster.

Lack of sleep, stress from caring for a toddler and a newborn, and problems at work took their toll on Mary. She began to spiral, pacing and panicking. Just as her husband was about to take her to the hospital for treatment, Mary slipped into a psychotic episode. She heard voices telling her to attack her husband and children — which she did, with a knife.

Thankfully, Mary’s husband was able to wrestle the knife away and prevent her from causing any real physical harm. But the damage had been done. The government accused Mary of attempted murder and domestic violence assault. Mary was sent to prison and later a psychiatric hospital. She was forbidden from having any contact with her children. Only last month was Mary permitted her first visit with her now 3-year-old, who has no memory of his mother.

This is obviously an extreme illustration of what can happen when pregnant and breastfeeding women don’t treat their own illnesses out of fear of harming their children. But my closeness to the incident has made me extra sensitive to the issue, which is so important yet rarely discussed in our society or media.

2013-04-25-KateHeadShot-thumbI was so excited to hear that a dear friend of mine, writer/editor Kate Rope, had taken a position as editorial director for a new non-profit called the Seleni Institute. Seleni is dedicated to women’s reproductive and maternal mental health. It offers online resources and support as well as research funding for women’s mental health issues. And, in early May, Seleni will open a clinic in Manhattan to serve women during this critical time in their lives.

Kate, who has been a health journalist for the past 15 years, began focusing on the mental health issues of motherhood after her own difficult pregnancy. Just one week after conceiving her first child, Kate ended up in the emergency room with horrible chest pain. The doctors, worried that she had a blood clot, gave her a CT scan — but found no answers.

For the next five months, Kate suffered from debilitating pain that was misdiagnosed as heartburn. When several different medications brought no relief, she ended up in the hospital again. After three days of tests — including one that involved nuclear radiation — she had a diagnosis: inflammation and fluid around her heart. For the rest of her pregnancy, she had to take ibuprofen and steroids to control it.

And she worried about the health of her baby constantly. “Everyone around me was planning home births and practicing prenatal yoga. Meanwhile, I was doing all the things pregnancy books say are dangerous — taking medications and getting X-rays. I felt very alone and scared.”

Kate’s story has a happy ending: Not only did she eventually get the diagnosis and treatment she needed, but also she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy daughter. Still, the experience traumatized her and led to two outcomes: postpartum anxiety so severe she needed medication to treat it, and a personal commitment to helping other women facing the same choices get good information and peace of mind.

2013-04-25-CarlheadshotKate got help for her postpartum anxiety and went on to co-author The Complete Guide to Medications During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding with Carl P. Weiner, M.D., a perinatologist and professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Kate explained to me that there is very little well-researched information about the safety or effectiveness of medication during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most pharmaceutical companies won’t do controlled clinical studies because of concerns about liability. Therefore, much of the information doctors use to make prescribing decisions comes from doctor’s case studies, animal research, and epidemiological evidence.

Dr. Weiner had already combined all of this scattered information into an academic text to help doctors choose appropriate medications for their pregnant and breastfeeding patients. Kate helped him translate that text into an easy-to-understand, A-to-Z directory of over-the-counter and prescription medications for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. It also explains how to find good medical care if you have a chronic condition or develop complications during pregnancy.

“We want pregnant and breastfeeding women to have good information and to know that they are not alone and they don’t have to sacrifice their well-being for their baby’s health. We want to help them make good decisions with their health care providers,” says Kate.

If you are planning to become pregnant and require medication for physical or psychological conditions, Kate and Dr. Weiner recommend getting informed before trying to conceive. “Meet with your doctors — your psychiatrist, OB-GYN, midwife, or specialist — and talk through your concerns,” says Kate. “Ask them what they know about the medications you take, their risks and benefits, and whether or not you should switch to a safer option or discontinue treatment during pregnancy.”

Of course, you may not have the chance to prepare (half of all pregnancies are unplanned). In that case, don’t make any choices about stopping or starting medications on your own. Meet with your health care providers right away to discuss your treatment.

And whether you plan for pregnancy or need to make choices once you learn you are pregnant, Kate and Dr. Weiner both recommend looking for providers who have experience treating your condition during pregnancy.

It’s also wise to be wary of the Internet. A March 2013 study supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 25 websites that published lists of “safe” medication during pregnancy. The researchers found 22 medications deemed safe by one site were labeled unsafe by one or more of the other sites. “That kind of inconsistency online,” says Kate, “not only means you don’t have access to the best information, but that you can become unnecessarily anxious.”

In the end, “the important thing is to remember that you need to be a healthy, happy, high functioning person for yourself and your child,” Kate offered as reassurance. “And that means getting good medical care and making good choices for both of you.”

 

Photo credit: Flickr

Photo credit: Kate Rope

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