June 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
AKA How to Name Your Needs in a Way that is Loving, Respectful, and Empathetic
In our own humanness, we have a tendency to express ourselves on a day to day basis that is violent, combative, and pushes others away.
There are so many ways to communicate in this life that it’s sometimes difficult to know what the best way is, if any. After being married to Mr. Trever O’Brien for over four years, I know that communication is extremely important and something we often try to work on. It’s definitely been the key to our “success.”
Looking back at my own personal mapping–that is, all of my life during childhood–I’ve been watching adults model communication styles that are power, manipulation, struggle, ego, control, and blame among others.
All and all, these communication styles fall under Violence.
They hurt the mind, body, soul, and spirit. That hurt causes an endless amount of issues as we grow up. Yep. We all have issues. That doesn’t mean we can’t heal those hurts by meeting our current needs.
That’s the glorious thing: Our needs can be communicated through Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in a way that is beneficial to meeting those needs.
We miss the mark with each other and step into violent communication when we don’t name our specific need. Without that specific goal in mind, without it being out on the table, we are destroying our relationships and connection with one another rather than building them up.
Let’s put it this way: We have to know somewhere deep down inside that using aggression by flipping someone off while driving will never get our needs met or cause us to feel any happier. And in the end, that’s the hope that each one of us desires.
To get our needs met.
We need to get back to the root of simply knowing the real need of our hearts and naming it. It’s as simple as that. Forget the “I feel” statements. You really just need the trash taken out. I need the trash taken out, would you mind ________________ . (Watching the kids while I do it, taking it out for me before you have a shower, helping me take it down because I have two bags now.)
Where do you start?
• Work through any underlying mind clutter.
• Get to the root of the anger and/or depression.
• Be clear about your own needs before expressing them in a violent manner.
• Make sure you’re regulated (here’s some great tips on self-regulating)
Now you’re ready to define and name your need. As simple as this task may seem, it makes a world of difference in your every day life. It’s a practice of mindfulness, of walking in light. Name that need. You’ll be the better person for it.
May 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
I promise this has a very happy ending.
It’s so strange how you can begin to feel extremely overwhelmed all of the sudden and not know where the flood of feelings came from. Depression–unknown needs and/or needs that aren’t getting met–hits the best of us like a big slap in the face every once and awhile, some more than others.
Recently, Trever has been getting more work (yay!) and I’ve been feeling distant. As he adds on more hours, I spend more time at home with the kids. After the Great Mold Fiasco, he actually worked 22 days in a row. I thought I was going to fall to pieces.
Being with my cuties for ten, twelve, fourteen hour days can wear on one’s soul, regardless of how utterly adorable they are minute by minute. Even the best parenting class can’t help you get a break. Especially when the event of peeing isn’t private.
This past week, Trever stepped into another marathon-get-er-done sprint to finish a job. And I fell into an existential looping depression. I could’t get myself to shut up no matter how much I tried. I drank water, ate fruits and veggies, made Indian dal, drank coconut water, kombucha, coffee, tea, snuggled with the kids, took a break from blogging, sang made-up songs, went to the park, breastfed my buddy (obviously), drew pictures, read every book we own, looked at photos, played catch (kind of, we’re working in it), and had a game of hide-and-go seek.
Nothing. Was. Working.
I could still hear my looping thoughts and I was still getting angry with Audrey even though I was trying so hard to remain happy. Yet there I was: parenting with unmet needs looming in my frontal lobe. I did the old call the mom thing (my mom, the MFT) and she said get a break.
I had a break. Got my nails did. Purchased a new bra. Bought a birthday present. Had a nice breather. Trever took the next day off and I couldn’t feel more elated. Pressing in the back of my mind at the third birthday party was the fact that he was going to work the next day.
I missed him already. (I told you this would have a happy ending. I’m getting there.)
After getting the kids into bed (finally) and watching a couple episodes of Friends, season 4, we rallied in the bathroom to brush our teeth. Then it came out.
“I’m so scared of being depressed tomorrow.”
“Why? What do you need?”
There you have it. He knew there was something I needed and I couldn’t have pin-pointed it that easily. We spent the next half an hour trying to understand one another. I finally worked out a few of the things I was hoping for him to get. And then I said it:
You’re my best friend.
That’s what it really comes down to. I simply want to spend more time with him and help him with the marketing and administration stuff for the company we’re starting (more on that later). I desire to share the work load and be able to enjoy our time together more, knowing full well that the bookkeeping is getting done and that we/he has work scheduled weeks in advance.
That’s what it really comes down to. Stepping back, he’s my best friend.
See, told ya.
February 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
It’s a boy! How exciting is that? Trever, Audrey, and I couldn’t be more stoked to welcome (drum roll, please):
Edric Fane O’Brien
January 31st, 2012 at 12:24pm
8lbs 10 ounces and 20.5 inches
As many of you know, we had Audrey at home and wanted to give it another go the second time around. With the help of our two midwives–who acted more as angels–Edric (aka My Buddy) was born in only five short hours at home.
If you read my post from Sunday, you know I was feeling quite a bit restless and antsy for a myriad of reasons. I didn’t realize till later that day, that I was also a bit stressed about Trever going to work (because we need the money) and going into labor while he was gone.
With all of my practice contractions leading up to that point, I knew there was a good chance that they would be super intense, active labor contractions from the get-go. Or there was the possibility of them camelbacking–having one on top of the other with no break–because of my fifteen hour labor experience previously with Audrey. Either way, it made me nervous.
So when I spoke to the mom down in San Diego about this, she asked if it would be helpful to use some of her vacation time and come relieve some of that stress by being there while Trever was at work starting Monday. Yes, please.
The mom arrived Monday afternoon and I dumped all of my cares and worries onto her. It felt good. I was beginning to relax. And get more excited about the arrival of my baby. Not more antsy. Yay for moms that are also therapists in “real life.”
That night, I couldn’t sleep with my sore hips, ouchie pelvis, and a very large noggin pressing further and further and further down, but I finally got settled a bit after midnight. Around six in the morning while it was still dark, I added the peeing feeling that I was having in reality to my current dream,
“That’s not pee because I never pee myself, but I think I’ll just sleep a little longer anyway because I’m pooped.”
And that I did until 7:32am when a contraction made it impossible to.
That was a real contraction, I thought. Yet I still decided to add it to another dream.
“Ouch! Okay, alright. I’m up.”
And I slowly rolled out of bed, stood up, and waddled to the bathroom. Yep. My water had officially broken.
After numerous false alarms, I texted my midwives that I was having “real” contractions and that my water had broke. They both replied immediately and Kelly came to my aid not more than 30 minutes later. Which by that point I was leaning against our orange chair during each contraction.
“Trever, I’m gonna need you in a about fifteen minutes, oh and I need something to eat,” I said.
While I breathed through each contraction every three minutes, Trever made me a breakfast burrito, complete with potatoes, eggs, cheese, and salsa. I ate a few bites, then sat it down. Ate a few more, and repeated the cycle. Until the burrito was no more.
Somehow magically the tub–for waterbirth, as well as natural pain relief–was filled in our living room and I waddled over from the comfort of the orange chair to the warm tub. I climbed in and did my best to relax.
“This is going too fast. This is too calm. Can my baby really be coming?”
My contractions started and ended with such a familiar intensity that waves of memories of my first pregnancy came to my mind. I tried to stay in the present and not get caught up in how things were then. What felt like an hour past and I felt the urgency to push,
“Should I feel like pushing now?” I asked Kelly.
“It’s because the babies head is so far down. But do whatever you feel like doing.”
So I kept listening to my body. Changing positions when I felt I needed to. Standing for a contraction or two just to alter the scenery. Kelly would come to my aid before I even expressed the need. I would think,
“Oooh, I’d love to hear how the baby is, if they’re still happy!” during a contraction.
And when I would open my eyes, there Kelly would be with her Doppler, waiting to listen to the babies heart beat. Happy. Edric was always happy.
After a few hours of being in various positions in and out of the tub, the time seemed to slow down and fly by simultaneously. Margo arrived and saw me through a few difficult contractions.
“They’re on top of each other! I need a break!” I said, exasperated.
“You’re almost there, why don’t you try laying on your side and they’ll spread out.”
I climbed onto the pull out couch and laid on my left side.
“I think I’m in transition,” I cried.
After three contractions on one side, I flipped to the other and had three more.
In the next thirty minutes, a whirlwind of activity occurred. Things slowed down as the baby took a break and I got a little rest. The break I needed. I had three or four contractions in the tub, a couple on the toilet, and again in the tub.
I knew I had to push.
“Feel your babies head,” Kelly exclaimed!
I could feel it! I could feel the baby! And that gave me the energy and excitement to push. I began pushing in the tub and after two contractions, Kelly suggested I get onto the bed. I had Audrey on the bed, so it was familiar territory. Okay, I thought, and slowly got dried off and to the bed again.
Phew. After what felt like only ten minutes, I could feel even more of Edric. I was a little nervous to push. He was so close. He was coming and almost there!
His head was out! My baby. But his shoulders were stuck!
“Flip over!” Margo said.
“Now?” I asked.
And so I did. I flipped to my hands and knees and pushed my heart out. Margo and Kelly helped the little man come out. In a minute and a half, we were snuggling. My little man was on my tummy. I looked between his legs to see who I’d be carrying these past nine months.
It was my buddy. My Edric. My love.
January 29, 2012 § 4 Comments
I’m feeling pretty discouraged. On Saturday I visited my “Mama”* midwife, Margo, and found out that I was 90% effaced and 3 centimeters dilated. That made me feel so excited about the impending bun in my oven. I thought,
“Wow! You’re almost ready to go! Maybe it will be soon!”
A few hours later I began having stronger contractions than normal 8 minutes apart, then five minutes apart. From two in the afternoon to nine or so that night, they persisted. My “Sister” midwife, Kelly, came to visit me. She asked if I wanted to be checked for progression and I was a little nervous about the the possible outcome: Nothingness.
She encouraged me and gave me a homeopathic called gelsemium to calm my nerves and antsy-ness. I had just eaten, so I had to wait 20 minutes to take it. I thanked her and saw her home saying,
“At least you can’t go backwards.”
I’d made it this far. The worst thing that could happen is the baby wouldn’t come that night as I had hoped. You see, induction of any kind–natural or medical–only works if the baby is actually ready to come. Whatever method(s) you use will only be successful prior to if the babe was already thinking,
“Mmmm, now’s a good time to come out and see the world!”
Apparently he or she inside of me had other plans for the evening. Like eating the pineapple, pretzels, and grapes I had just ate. However, I spent from 11:30 to around four in the morning with strong contractions three and a half minutes apart and lasting one a half minutes.
“For sure, they’re coming today,” I thought.
I was so stinking excited, sitting in our tub, by myself, for hours while Trever and Audrey slept away. I wanted Trev to sit there with me, yet I knew how uneventful it would be and how tired he was. My telepathy worked and he woke up around four to see me. Yet my contractions were slowly fading away. My mood was getting more and more disappointed. For surely this was it!
We popped in The Descendants, the latest George Clooney movie we’d received in the mail, thanks to the upcoming SAG Awards. It was good. And got my mind off my now non-existent contractions.
“It was like ‘Up In the Air’, only different,” I mumbled at the end.
“You’re getting the hang of this script thing,” he replied.
It was now after six. The sun has come up and was tinting the sky a light gray out the window. I dragged my feet to bed and tried to get comfortable. Three hours of labor-filled dream sleep later, I was wide awake. Trever made me a breakfast burrito and I crashed out on the couch again after shedding a few discouraged tears.
So here I am. Writing down my thoughts. Hoping to get a bit out. Hoping that I can encourage myself. I even said it, I can’t go backwards. They’re coming. I’ve made it this far. Let’s see how he/she surprises us, eh? And eat just a few more slices of pineapple.
*My midwives Margo and Kelly of Birthing Women’s Health fulfill two separate role’s for me. Like a mother/daughter team, they bring two perspectives to midwifery care. I trust each of them with their differing but complimenting opinions and know that I’m in great hands. Heck, I trust them with my life.
Photo: How can I be discouraged when
I have this little face to look at?
September 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
When I think back on my youth, there is so much that I cannot remember. Much of which Trever and I look at each other say, “I don’t remember that, but we must’ve done it!” Some things, dumb and wise, I missed all together. For instance, I was very aware of my ability to memorize and took advantage of that skill tremendously during my college years, yet 100% unaware of my dorky haircut and style, out-there wardrobe, and interesting choice of make-up. It’s funny how some things make it on your radar, while others do not whatsoever.
Food was a topic that I constantly thought about and tried to make good choices within. This was all pre quick-and-easy Internet searching and the wealth of information that’s now out there. I can clearly remember one thing for certain: in my early twenties, I was a Food Relativist. That is, I used food as a way of being able to relate to others. I would eat where others ate, I would partake in what they put in front of me, and I did not allow myself to refrain from the purchase of anything food-wise.
While I still connect dearly to many relativist thoughts, this perspective has gone out the window–for the most part–since I have discovered the roots of its beguilement.
At some point, Food Relativism snuck its way into my brain pattern by squeezing itself in between “The more neutral you are, the more you can relate to others” and “You don’t want to live by a specific set of rules.” You can see how it would be easy to begin writing off eating habits by telling yourself: People who have a list of particulars are not as relate-able as those who don’t (i.e. Vegetarians, Vegans, those with allergies or food issues), besides I want to be able to eat anything, anywhere, with anyone…Food Rules would keep me from that.
As time pressed on, so did the button against my tummy flab. My highest weight-point was during a eat-what-we-offer stint abroad in 2006. During that time, I also spent countless days with tummy issues. Okay, that’s putting it lightly. With stomach pain so great that I couldn’t stand up without throwing up. The fetal position was best.
When I returned from that six months overseas, I discovered that beyond the parasite that was eating away at my internal organs, I had an intolerance to gluten and much cow-related dairy. “Great, my Food Relativism is over. Now I have to be picky about what I eat.” But did I let that stop me? Oh no, I kept eating everything. It wasn’t for another year and a half and a serious 3-day battle with stomach issues that I realized: This is just another perspective shift that I can either get used to or suffer regardless. I chose the former.
At first, I felt bad for Trever to have to deal with my new dietary habits. He married a girl that would cook and eat anything. Now here I was changing. My shopping habits changed, I started buying higher quality organic food. I stopped getting mac and cheese and top ramen. It was more costly on our budget, yet we started feeling better. Healthier, skinnier, happier, and more satisfied with food and with life.
I’m sure Trever can tell you clearly, that food change also sparked a new lifestyle change towards more sustainable practices. I read books, websites, and even started writing for a “green” site on a monthly basis. All because of food and my acceptance to change. No one wants to live with a sore tummy every day. Or fatigue. Or continual sickness. Or a gabillion other body, spirit, and mind issues that are directly correlated with food.
It’s been quite a journey since 2007. Even the last year has felt like a whirlwind of food change. You’ve heard me say it before in previous posts, I’m now a vegetarian by my stomach’s choice. She has also recently decided that she prefers grains like rice, millet, and live sprouts over anything else. So I’ve had to adjust to that as well.
I’m so thankful that our brains have the capability of updating themselves to align with what is best for us in the current moment. Food Relativism would not work for me any more. If I do give in to the old habits–it’s so hard to say “no” to the mom–I suffer for it later. I’m no food expert, but I have realized after all this research, two nutritionists, and dozens of dietary adjustments, it does matter. Drinking your daily intake of water, taking vitamins, eating whole foods. It all makes a difference in allowing you to be you, whoever that may be, today.
Photo: My fruit-and-veggie-eating-walnut-and-almond-loving-bean-destroyer-of-a-daughter, enjoying the park with some of her daily intake of water on her shirt.
September 12, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Trever and I have a tradition of having existential conversations on Sunday’s. We call it the “Sunday Breakdown.” I can remember the first Sunday in August 2007 when we were trying to figure our lives out–whatever that means–lying on the bed of his chevy truck eating kettle corn from a local school fundraiser fair that we happened upon in South Orange County.
At that moment we decided we wanted to travel around the States doing art and music and live in a trailer. We figured we would play and paint in coffee shops, bars, venues, and any other place that would take us. We had it all planned out in our minds. About a month later, we purchased a trailer and Trever felt the pressure of making money on a monthly basis. Things changed and we never traveled, but the Sunday Breakdown never went away.
We continually spent our Sunday’s discussing our life goals and figuring out what we wanted to do with our years together. Family life slowed that down and Audrey became our present focus. Mmmm, and that felt so much better. Rather than focusing on how we were dissatisfied with where we were at and pondering where we were going, we just sat and basked in the present.
It wasn’t until more recent revelation in the last five or six weeks that we feel like we really started living in reality in the present state. Although after yesterday’s Breakdown we realized how much more so we could be and what that looks like. It was the first one in many Sunday’s where the discussion wasn’t “how can we create a future that we like” but:
• “How can we live more in the present?”
• “What are we doing now that is unrealistically living in an unknown future?”
• “What would it look like if we continued right where we were at?”
I must admit, like most Sunday Breakdowns, we didn’t come up with any conclusions or solutions. We just know we want to live. Rather than creating a fantasy life or hoping for fame and riches, we long to enjoy ourselves in the present. It’s a lot harder if you think about it. We discussed how we might live in the spot that we’re at in this very moment to flourish as individuals and as a family to allow our creativity and love to overflow. Maybe next Sunday we’ll chip away at it.
Photo: Trever and Audrey swinging at the park enjoying their Sunday.
August 29, 2011 § 4 Comments
Trever and I were both raised in Christian homes. With Christian belief systems. And Christian values. And loads and loads of weekly Christian activities. One prevalent activity that Trever would bring up quite often with anxiety and fear at the beginning of our relationship was “evangelism.”
At some point in his youth, the evangelism of his family religion left him feeling nervous about talking to anyone about anything spiritual or close to it. Years ago we had a conversation that went something like this,
“I hate evangelizing! It makes me feel so awkward and on the spot. I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer all of their questions or know all the right responses.”
We’ve all been here before, regardless the conversation we’re fearing. Here’s the thing: We all evangelize.
“You’re a great evangelist, Trev. You evangelize every day!”
“I am? I do?”
It took him a few moments to grasp what I was getting at. He is one of the greatest evangelists I’ve ever met. He’s unabashed, smart, witty, intelligent, resourceful, encouraging, wise, and, when it comes down to it, very persuasive. It just took someone else to point that out for him to see it from a different perspective.
“You don’t have to evangelize about your religion or spirituality to be an evangelist. That’s just a term that numerous groups have adopted to express the definition.”
That’s the truth of it. Evangelism is everywhere and in every thing. It’s simple self-promotion in the littlest things we say, do, wear, and present by who we are. It oozes out of us, both positive and negative, regardless of what we intend. That’s the importance of making actionable thoughts and sharing those beliefs with others in a non-confrontational and beautiful way. Your creativity is just that opportunity. It speaks volumes of what you are evangelizing about.
To this day, Trever evangelizes about his discovery of micronutrients in veggies and how his wife makes him eat well, his love of oil paints, having a natural homebirth, following your passions and being creative, and the awesomeness of being a dad among others. The guy is always sharing his love and perspective with others in a passionate and authentic way. Sometimes I catch him in the act and he blushes and smiles, “What? Am I doing it again?” That’s his natural pastoral side that comes out when he’s with people. His first love. Okay, maybe third. Wait. Fourth. Ha!
Photo: Trever and Audrey sitting on a bench at Disneyland. Evangelizing.
August 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I have waves of moments where I have the sudden urgency for change. I love change like a mother. Maybe that’s why I enjoy being a mother? Every single day with Audrey is completely and absolutely different. She grows, has revelation, and makes me laugh constantly. Having a sweet little shoo shoo–as I call her–has given me enough change for over a year and a half to not feel like I need to: move, get tattoos, change my hair color/style, make a drastic change, or do something to “feel” different.
It’s enabled me, given me stability in a sense, to remain consistent and endure through more hardships that are a part of life than I thought possible. Thank you, Audrey. I never knew that was part of being a parent.
Part of creativity is being open to change and continuing to pursue your love of your craft even when you go through a “dry spell” where you don’t feel like doing it, persistence doesn’t sound appealing, and you just want something to mix up the day.
The best way you can do that? Learn.
It sounds so simple, but it’s true. Growing your perspective, brain power, and tool box will give you a little lift that will help you to keep going and enable that “bored” feeling to stay at bay. My solution has been to sign up for Web Design classes at the local community college–it’s also like having a job, saving us over $1200/month on student loans and midwifery fees (I’m building them a website and using my writing skills to help with other creative business tasks).
All and all, learning is a good deal. Kind of like a part time job for me at the moment. Wherever you’re at in your life though, there’s something you can do to have that “Learn Change” that will keep you going, keep you creating, and keep you feeling accomplished. Good, right?
Here’s a few free ideas:
- Learn Online (for FREE!): Picking one or two nights a week to look up other creatives in your art form on alltop.com. Find other creatives that blog about their creativity. Connect and meet others online. Sign up for the RSS feed or follow them on Twitter and read their posts. You’ll learn more about your craft, get ideas, and get the juices flowing when you’re feeling stuck.
- Find a Local Community (for FREE!): I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ve gotta have other creatives to network with on a weekly basis. Searching for others through a search engine or using sites like meetup.com to find creatives will give you real people to learn from and with. Also: Guilds, Junior/Community Colleges, Studios with free time to mix and mingle are all great resources to look into.
- Start with Who You Know (for FREE): About a month ago we talked about how we should all be networking…and we should be! There is a crapload of stuff that we can learn from each other. I can’t tell you how often I’m sitting in the living room watching Trever paint and I get inspired to write a blog on a particular topic. Creativity spurs on more creativity. Period. Mmmm. And it feels good. What’s wrong with posting, “Who wants to create?” on your Facebook or Twitter…or Google+? Ha! Add me! (I have no idea how to add you!)
I’m sure there are a gazillion other ways you can learn. As I’m doing, I decided it was time to put a little money into it to see my craft grow. I’m an online research freak, so I’m nonstop doing research on any given topic that I want to know more about. Once I feel like I’ve exhausted much of that, I consider taking an online course or in-person class. Two things I’m still constantly Googling are “blogging” and “writing,” I can never get enough of learning about that stuff! So good!
So we all get to a point where we feel like we’re in a creative rut at times. What do you do to start learning and get inspired? Share your ideas! We’d love to hear um!
Photo: Trever O’Brien working on his latest piece. Love it!
July 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The gut-guided existence. It’s not an easy one to live in. Yet I know that I should go back to it if I’m not living in it already. When I listen to my gut, I make better/smarter decisions. I have a tendency to spend less and do more. I’m more relaxed, enjoyable, and pleasant to be around. It’s not that I’m trusting in things magically to come together, I’m patiently waiting for my inner self to make the path clear.
Sometimes that even looks worse to those around you than living in a mindset of what I call “responsible control.” Or what Trever knows so familiarly as being dutiful. The hard worker that works to work compared to he who does what he’s passionate about, poor or not. I wrote a song with friends back in Novemeber 2006 that was a classic description of my now-husband. The pre-chorus went something like this:
Why are dutiful and separated?
Separated from your own soul?
When I’m dying for a man that is wild.
Wild at heart.
Whenever I would bust it out at the piano, he would get deeply convicted. Telling me, “I don’t know why I’m that way! I don’t mean to be!” See, the thing is: it’s completely and 100% natural to live that way. Not abnormal. The difficult way to do things and make decisions is to live in the utter unknown. It’s not comfortable to most. There’s a part of me, however, that yearns for it. That was how the first few years of our relationship went. Here’s the chorus:
You should just let it go
Just let it slide
Forget all there is to hide
I could just die inside
Forgo all my pride
There isn’t much time
You haven’t much time
I haven’t much time
We haven’t much time
We would argue about this world between living dutifully by making the dollar, working the nine to five and this grey world of unknowns. At some point we just stopped talking about it. Trev made some decisions that turned into lifestyle changes that caused him to continue on a path of unknown. Maybe my words or personal choices finally got to him sub-consciously. I’ll probably never know. What I’m totally cool with though is the fact that we’re now on the same page accidentally. Living in this gut-guided existence. From one day to the next. As the bridge says it all:
Will you be so bold?
Are you willing to surrender
The image of a warrior
To become the one to who you’ve been called?
Yes. I think I am. I think he is. So Jessie and Zach, when are you coming to Cali for some more awesome impromptu song writing and coffee shop shows? Listen to your gut now.