Monday, January 26, 2015


I just shared a positive NIP story, & it has emboldened me to share something else positive that I have been considering for a year. 

I have not done it yet for a couple of reasons. First, most of what I share here is about breastfeeding advocacy. It's evolved over time, but every time I branch out I feel a little nervous that what I'm sharing is something people won't be receptive to, or that's incongruous with what I started - like maybe I'm breaking some unwritten rule.

Second, what I'm going to share is very personal, in a way, and it makes me feel strangely vulnerable, even when I share it on my personal profile with just friends.

So what is it?

A list of things I am grateful for.

Every day (or at least that's the goal), I express gratitude.

Because what you appreciate appreciates.

Where you put your energy - you'll get more of that.

I have had chronic depression my whole life. It come and goes. Sometimes it's a big deal, but mostly it's just been... normal.

When I had my negative NIP incident over two years ago, and the stakes of getting AISD to adopt a law-abiding NIP policy felt so high, and then the stakes of working on breastfeeding legislation felt even higher - then, oh my word, did the anxiety kick in. I'd been anxious before, to be sure, but not so chronically as I was "just" depressed. The anxiety that started the day I was told to go to a private room sometimes made it hard just to function. I don't even have words to describe its intensity.

Over the past year, my depression and especially my anxiety have dissipated. I don't think I'll never be depressed or anxious again, but I'm amazed at how much happier and calmer I am. And I'm certain that focusing on the positive, on the things I'm thankful for, has made all the difference in the world.

You've heard it before, maybe. Expressing gratitude is a key to happiness. I had. For years - but I didn't do it. Then I joined Carrie Contey, PhD.'s Evolve group, & made it a habit.

It's had such an impact that I've thought about doing it here, because I'd like to share this tool with others, because it is a game changer.

So I'll go first, and if you feel moved to do so, comment with your gratitudes below - or do it on your private social media page or in a journal or even just close your eyes for a moment and list them to yourself.

There are no rules to this #gratitudechallenge. You aren't limited to just the month of November or a list of five things per day for five days. Just think of at least one thing - or maybe 100 - and take a moment to appreciate!

One thought - this isn't about bragging and being "Facebook Fake." I complain about my kids on fb, I whine about my messy house. My *real* life is definitely on my personal Facebook profile. But this is about focusing on the awesome, so yes, it's all good stuff.

Here goes:

I'm thankful to Jessie Warren for letting me share her positive NIP story, and for the amazing gentleman who was encouraging to her. I'm thankful my sick husband is starting to feel better; thankful my big kid has had a breakthrough about how he wants to interact with his family, and he's working hard to be respectful and to stay calm when he's frustrated; thankful for watching Bellybean put train tracks together - he's amazing! So grateful for the opportunity to homeschool Sweet Pea for kindergarten, and for doing so with a friend on Mondays and Wednesdays. Super thankful for an impromptu science experiment during today's co-op, which made me feel like I'm getting it right! Grateful for watching Sweet Pea learn to read, and be fascinated by addition and subtraction and counting, and that he's learning so much even when I don't feel like I'm doing 15% of what I want to do for him.  Thankful I said yes when Sweet Pea wanted to do Legos together, instead of telling him I had to make dinner.  It was worth bedtime being a little later than intended.  Thankful our garage is finally organized enough to feel like a playroom, that art is coming in for the breastfeeding art exhibit in February, that we'll have a House resolution marking the 20th anniversary of Health & Safety Code 165. Thankful for Health & Safety Code 165, even if it does need strengthening. For representatives and senators who stand behind moms ready to support their choice to breastfeed. That I'm warm in my (mostly) clean house on this cold night, and that tomorrow I'll get to take my middle son to a fun acting class and my big kid to a great new school that is a much better fit for him than public school was this year. I'm thankful to be leading such a blessed life!

I don't know how long I'll keep this up. I don't know why it feels vulnerable. So let me know if it's something you enjoy - something that moves you to express gratitude yourself. Because if it is, it'll be worth it to me to keep going with it here each evening. It really has been a game changer for me - I hope it will be or you, too!

My Little Lego Maniac

A Guardian Angel: A Positive Breastfeeding/NIP Story

This story was shared in a local breastfeeding support group on Facebook. I asked to share it here because I think it's important that we hear about the positive stories. Social and traditional media are over-saturated with negative NIP stories, to the point that it may seem discrimination is inevitable. But it's not. Sometimes when someone approaches you as you breastfeed - it's to tell you how awesome you are!

If you have a positive story to share, email me at I'd like to make this a habit!

Here are Jessie's words:
"I was having an incredibly hard day today (car broke down, bills arrived in the mail that I can't pay, agonizing sinus issues, trying to move past family drama, yet another job interview that didn't pan out) and brought my four month old son to Sprouts Farmers Market off Manchaca to do my weekly grocery shopping that I had been putting off for days.

Eight minutes and a half full cart in, Brave starts having a hangry meltdown. Already scatterbrained and overwhelmed, it doesn't occur to me to set my cart aside and go out to my car - I just frantically look for a place to sit down to nurse him because I couldn't get the position right in my Ergo. So, I 'pull over' near the eggs, sit on the edge of the cooler, and pull my cart as much out of the way as I can. I'm so emotional that I forget to put on my 'what I'm doing is natural face,' and I keep my head down while blushing at my gulping, teary-eyed infant.

Suddenly, a man in his late fifties or early sixties who is looking at the vegetables to my left speaks up to me and says... (get your tissues, I'm crying as I type this), "I honor you for what you do. You are doing such good by your son! My mama, she fed me like that until I was two years old - and it made me different, it made a difference for me. Women in Europe they do it everyday; I do not understand why women here cannot feed their sons without shame. It is natural!"

I was expecting him to berate me, and it took me off guard. I got choked up and thanked him as my eyes started to water. He nodded and started to walk away when he thought better and turned back to me to look me straight in the eye and say, "Anyone can be a mama..." Then he pointed at me and continued, "...but you are a great mama." I couldn't speak and tears streamed down my face. He smiled at me and told me to have a great day, and walked away. I so needed that, right then. What a guardian angel!"

An angel indeed!  As Jessie put it, "I wish EVERY mama got this kind of love when they need it most."

Jessie with her son, Brave

Jessie is a 27-year-old transplant living in Austin from the Pacific Northwest, and a single mama to both a four-month-old ginger named Bravery and a four-year-old Labradoodle named Maggie.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let Me Count the Ways: A Love Letter to My Husband on His 40th Birthday

My husband's 40th birthday is today.  This is my love letter to him:

I've known you for half of your life now, Adam. I met you when you were 20, and I was your dresser for - what play was it? Cat Among the Pigeons? That's not as sexy as it sounds, of course. I just placed your costumes and sprayed your shoes out with Lysol every night. I remember you couldn't hang dress pants properly. Hanging clothes still isn't really a strength.

Today you are 40. You're understandably upset by this new age bracket. This getting older thing is kind of unsettling sometimes. But every year you age has meant more to adore. So, while this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are 40 things I love about you:
1. The gray in your hair. I find it thrilling. It excites me so much to be growing older with the love of my life. There really just aren't words for my visceral response to those gray hairs. Suffice it to say, it is so fucking sexy.
2. Watching you with our kids. We both make tremendous mistakes on a regular basis, what with being human and all. But you are so good at it, too. So full of love and humor and decency and *you're here*, doing it. I know my kids will always have a dad, and as an orphan with two living fathers, I cannot thank you enough for toughing out the rough spots and showing up every day. I get to see my children grow with a relationship that was always missing for me. That is such a gift.

3. Your sense of humor. Even when you're just trying to shock me, and I act irritable because you're being gross, I still love that you to want make me laugh.
4. That you get my dry sense of humor. Usually. I love making you laugh. So much. Sometimes I have to point out that I've just said something funny, because you acknowledging it means a lot to me.
5. That you are strong enough to be my man. That song was on the radio a lot when my mom got sick when we were in college. I know it wasn't easy for you to date someone with such a huge, scary thing going on. But you stuck by my side, you nursed me through her cancer, made me let you take care of me so I could take care of her. You let me grieve her death and be selfish for a long, long time. And when it was time to try to come out of my funk, you found a Hospice support group for me that made all the difference in the world. I don't know how I could have survived it all without you.
6. Magoo.

7. Sweet Pea.

8. Bellybean.

9. Your support of me as a breastfeeding advocate. It brings us no money (in fact I spend money on it), but you respect that this is my work. You are more involved in it than I think the majority of people are involved in their spouse's work. I couldn't do even half of what I do if it weren't for your support.
10. Your monstrously large feet.
11. Your ridiculously huge head.
12. Your scruff, when you have it. So hot.
13. That we have the same taste in entertainment. I adore watching TV with you. I remember having boyfriends in high school with whom it was hard to find a video to rent (because we used to do that, at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video - my, how times have changed since you started getting old!). We're always on the same page. Love that!

14. Sex. It has just gotten better over the years - which is saying something, cause it started out great. You are skilled, my love.
15. Pet names. I'll never forget the first time you called me sweetheart. It was the first time anyone had, at least any guy friend. You were pretending to be my boyfriend as we made our way out of a nerve-rattling experience with a homeless guy who wanted to show us his knife. "Come on, sweetheart," I think you said. I wasn't afraid of him. I (thought I) knew he wouldn't hurt us. But I was completely willing to play the role of your girlfriend as we made our exit.
16. Our courtship. Crazy shit we did to impress each other - breaking into an abandoned school, jumping the fence at the city pool. Fun times.

17. Your number one goal in life. You told my mom, before she died, that your number one goal in life is to make me happy. I feel like that's still true. And you do.
18. That thinking about how effing much I crazy-love you, writing it down, has me in tears. (It's a lot. I love you a lot).
19. I love your cooking. Particularly fond of your lasagna and your burritos, boy. I love that you DO the cooking. That we are in a relationship with, if not equal task-sharing (cause I don't always feel I'm doing enough!), then certainly an attempt at balance.
20. Your music. You are the soundtrack to my life. Not everyone is as insanely lucky as I am, to have a personalized soundtrack.

21. I love the movies you make with our boys. They are such treasured memories.
22. The way you love me. Unconditionally. I always know you love me. And considering how awesome I think you are, I must be pretty awesome, too. It's a nice reminder, when I'm down on myself. You love me, therefore I am awesome.
23. I love your writing. Gotta say, I was scared when, after a lifetime of hating writing, you suddenly announced that you wanted to support our family as a writer. But you rock it. So much cleverness.
24. How you support our family. It's amazing to me that we have the freedoms that we have, thanks to your hard work.
25. How you prioritize our family. You work hard, but you play hard, too. You don't miss important kid events, and you spend a fantastic amount of time with our kids even when it's not a special event like a field trip or a scary doctor's appointment.

26. Your interest in... everything. You are always listening to podcasts, always learning new things.
27. Your politics. Not sure how we'd manage if they were otherwise!
28. Your spirituality.
29. Being held by you. I feel so safe in your arms. Spooning.
30. Your habit of doing the dishes every night. It's life-changingly awesome.
31. Kissing you. Since that first, slooooooooow lean-in, giving me every chance to shy away and preserve our friendship. But you were my Harry, and I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life kissing you.

32. Your mad gift-giving skillz. I love that you are so tuned in to people that you are amazing at thinking up lovely gifts to give them.
33. Including me! I adore the special antiques I get each Christmas. They're always so meaningful. (Except maybe for the oil can. I can't remember what that one was about.)
34. Your empathy. Your emotional intelligence. You're brilliant.
35. That you've wanted to wear our babies. ‪#‎APDadsAreHot‬.

36. Your hair. It's so thick and gorgeous. I love to run my fingers through it...
37. Your eyes. I'll never forget staring into them while I was in transition delivering Milo, blowing your hair off of your forehead - trying to focus on you, and not the excruciating pain and the undeniable-but-too-soon NEED to push. Your eyes have never been more beautiful to me than in that moment. And those same eyes watched me birth our other two children, too, and were amazed at my strength and power. Never afraid of it. You are too strong and good to fear powerful women.
38. That you're as crazy as me. That we live life, at least sometimes, full throttle. Disneyland visits are best from open to close. October is best with Halloween events every weekend - and in themed costumes, as a family. And you're a geek like me. Because geek is chic, baby. I love all of our geeking out moments together - watching Doctor Who, bingeing on Battlestar Galactica, a Lord of the Rings marathon, wearing costumes to Race for the Cure that one year when we still did the Race...

39. That you're crunchy like me. AP like me. A feminist like me. We have so much in common - it makes living with you easy.
40. That you know how to rest and relax. You balance my frenetic, overdriven work ethic.
And one to grow on - I love you for this beautiful life I am so privileged to live. Everything I love is part of my life because you are part of my life.
Thank you, Adam. Thank you for being the great love of my life.