Mediterranean Bowls

A dinner that’s quickly becoming a favorite in our home is Mediterranean Bowls…  Perhaps because I am a huge fan of all things BOWL.  This is like deconstructed casserole, my friends, or like a small scale buffet.  And the best part is I can actually make one easy meal and every. single. person. loves. it.

To make it super simple, I buy baby spinach and grape tomatoes for less cutting, but you can use whatever greens you like, and feel free to chop some big tomatoes, if you prefer!

My family loves roasted chickpeas (well, the portion of my family that will TRY roasted chickpeas loves them), so that’s a necessity.  Sometimes I go the extra mile for my meat eaters and do chicken souvlaki; sometimes I have no chicken in the house and they enjoy the meal anyway.

All in all, this is a super flexible dinner that can be pulled together quickly.  Add more elements, or take some out, whatever you wish!

To enjoy Mediterranean Bowls for dinner, prepare one serving bowl of each of the following:

Chicken Souvlaki (see recipe below)

Roasted Chickpeas (see recipe below)

Grape Tomatoes

Cucumber, cut in bite-sized chunks

Kalamata Olives, pitted whole or sliced

Finely diced Red Onion

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Baby Spinach

Cooked Farro (see recipe below)

Greek Salad Dressing (see recipe below)

Then all you need to do is sit back and let your family fill their bowls with the ingredients they want!  It’s miraculous, I’m telling you.  Bowls are miraculous.

For the chicken souvlaki, I’ve adapted a recipe from The Healthy Foodie that is really fantastic without any adaptation, I just need my life to be as simple as possible, so I skipped a few steps.

What you’ll need:

2lbs. chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2tbsp. lemon juice

2tbsp. white wine vinegar (I’ve also happily used ACV)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1tbsp. dried oregano

1tsp. Himalayan salt (other salt is fine too)

1tsp. freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or put it together in the morning and let it sit all day.  When you’re ready to cook, just put it all in a covered pan (add a little oil, if you want — I prefer to use a copper pan and no oil) and cook, stirring/flipping once or twice, until chicken is no longer pink in the center.  Transfer to serving bowl.

For the roasted chickpeas:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain and rinse one or two cans of chickpeas, according to your family size.  If you use oil, toss them with a tablespoon or two of avocado or extra virgin olive oil, but they turn out well without the oil too.  Spread them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the following spices:  cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once, just until they are starting to brown.  Transfer to serving bowl.

For the farro:

Rinse one cup of farro and place in a pot with 3 cups of vegetable stock (I like Vegetable Better Than Boullion).  Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat.  Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes until the grain is soft.  Transfer to serving dish.

For the Greek dressing:

I love this recipe from afamilyfeast.com.  I leave out the sugar and mint from the original recipe.

Mix together the following:  2 large garlic cloves, crushed; 2tsp. dried basil; 1tsp. salt; 1tsp. freshly ground black pepper; 1/4tsp. onion powder; 1tbsp. dried oregano; 1/8C. lemon juice; 2tbsp. red wine vinegar; 2tbsp. water; 1tsp. Dijon mustard; 1/2C. extra virgin olive oil (if desired, substitute more water to taste, if you prefer not to use oil).

If you don’t have the time or energy to make the dressing, using whatever store bought dressings are in your refrigerator will be just fine. Enjoy the gift of the grocery store.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do!

So much love,

April

Spinach and Self-Care

True self-care begins with kindness and compassion for ourselves

My toddler LOVES candy.  Not just a little bit.  Like, if I would let him, he would eat candy exclusively.  I’m not even sure he would get sick.  He would be the one child who can eat mounds of sugar in every form and feel the best.  And even if he wasn’t that child, he would sure like me to let him try.

Sadly enough for him, I set limits to his inhalation of all things sweet.  We talk about healthy food, and what foods are actually healthy.  We talk about how our bodies need healthy food to grow and be strong.  We talk about how delicious healthy food is at meals and snacks all day long.  Every day.

And this has gotten me thinking… healthy eating is really an act of self-care.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear people talking about self-care, it usually goes something like this, “Wine and Netflix in my pjs!  Self-care night!”  And just like my son with candy, if given the opportunity, I would not turn down a night of wine and Netflix in pjs (though I might modify the wine part to some decadent chocolate dessert… the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, my friends).

And while this sounds like a great night, the unfortunate news is that’s not actually self-care.

I know. Bummer.

Wine (or chocolate truffle cheesecake, if you will) and Netflix are like our adult version of all the candy.  We like it, we might even crave it, it might be difficult to stop, but it’s not helping us.  It’s not self-care.  In fact, if we allowed ourselves to have wine (or chocolate lava cake) and Netflix every night, we would not be healthier.  We would not feel better.  Ultimately, we would feel a great deal worse.  With time, our bodies would feel the effects of our sedentary consumption and not work as well.  Our souls would be uncomfortable, our emotions low.

Self-care isn’t about what feels good in the moment (like fudgy mocha brownies) and eventually makes us sick.  True self-care is about doing things for ourselves that promote our emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health.

True self-care begins with kindness and compassion for ourselves.

When we are kind to our bodies by feeding ourselves nourishing food, we are practicing self-care.

Think about that for a moment…  How much easier does self-care become when it is embedded in the very food we eat?  Have some berry-banana oatmeal for breakfast and practice self-care!  Have some carrots and hummus as a mid-morning snack.  Self-care!  Have a roasted fall vegetable salad with maple-tahini dressing for lunch.  Self-care!  An apple.  Self-care!  Spinach.  Self-care!

Kindness allows me to pay attention to my body, noticing the foods that make me feel good (even long after they are consumed), and choosing those over the foods that make me feel sick, sluggish, or give me headaches.  Kindness also offers me grace when I do choose chocolate peanut butter pie, and it allows me to smile at myself instead of berate myself for my choice.

Kindness extends to others as well, helping my toddler enjoy delicious healthy food, and also allowing him to have some candy sometimes, because he is human, just like me.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it certainly shouldn’t be about deprivation, but when we shift our perspective and think about being kind to ourselves with our food choices, we open up a whole world of small things that add up to big time self-care, nourishing our whole selves for long-term wellness.

In what ways can you offer yourself kindness through nourishment today?

So much love,

~A

Spinach and Self-Care

My toddler LOVES candy.  Not just a little bit.  Like, if I would let him, he would eat candy exclusively.  I’m not even sure he would get sick.  He would be the one child who can eat mounds of sugar in every form and feel the best.  And even if he wasn’t that child, he would sure like me to let him try.

Sadly enough for him, I set limits to his inhalation of all things sweet.  We talk about healthy food, and what foods are actually healthy.  We talk about how our bodies need healthy food to grow and be strong.  We talk about how delicious healthy food is at meals and snacks all day long.  Every day.

And this has gotten me thinking… healthy eating is really an act of self-care.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear people talking about self-care, it usually goes something like this, “Wine and Netflix in my pjs!  Self-care night!”  And just like my son with candy, if given the opportunity, I would not turn down a night of wine and Netflix in pjs (though I might modify the wine part to some decadent chocolate dessert… the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, my friends).

And while this sounds like a great night, the unfortunate news is that’s not actually self-care.

I know. Bummer.

Wine (or chocolate truffle cheesecake, if you will) and Netflix are like our adult version of all the candy.  We like it, we might even crave it, it might be difficult to stop, but it’s not helping us.  It’s not self-care.  In fact, if we allowed ourselves to have wine (or chocolate lava cake) and Netflix every night, we would not be healthier.  We would not feel better.  Ultimately, we would feel a great deal worse.  With time, our bodies would feel the effects of our sedentary consumption and not work as well.  Our souls would be uncomfortable, our emotions low.

Self-care isn’t about what feels good in the moment (like fudgy mocha brownies) and eventually makes us sick.  True self-care is about doing things for ourselves that promote our emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health.

True self-care begins with kindness and compassion for ourselves.

When we are kind to our bodies by feeding ourselves nourishing food, we are practicing self-care.

Think about that for a moment…  How much easier does self-care become when it is embedded in the very food we eat?  Have some berry-banana oatmeal for breakfast and practice self-care!  Have some carrots and hummus as a mid-morning snack.  Self-care!  Have a roasted fall vegetable salad with maple-tahini dressing for lunch.  Self-care!  An apple.  Self-care!  Spinach.  Self-care!

Kindness allows me to pay attention to my body, noticing the foods that make me feel good (even long after they are consumed), and choosing those over the foods that make me feel sick, sluggish, or give me headaches.  Kindness also offers me grace when I do choose chocolate peanut butter pie, and it allows me to smile at myself instead of berate myself for my choice.

Kindness extends to others as well, helping my toddler enjoy delicious healthy food, and also allowing him to have some candy sometimes, because he is human, just like me.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it certainly shouldn’t be about deprivation, but when we shift our perspective and think about being kind to ourselves with our food choices, we open up a whole world of small things that add up to big time self-care, nourishing our whole selves for long-term wellness.

In what ways can you offer yourself kindness through nourishment today?

So much love,

April

Vegan Thai Red Curry

(This recipe is adapted from COOKIE + kate)

I LOVE cooking, but anything that gets cooked at my house these days has to meet some really stringent criteria:  it has to be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, quick and easy to make, and delicious enough for my meat and dairy eating husband to also enjoy it.  I have given up on the final one, which is that my kids would love it too.  My 23 year old stepson is up for trying new things any time he is around, and my two year old will usually give things a tiny try, but my 12 and 14 year old kiddos are a completely different story… we’re talking plain noodles, pickles, and potato chips here, folks.  It is not pretty.

This recipe meets all my attainable criteria with flying colors.  It is SO good, SO easy, and SO healthy!  We make it with 4 cups of jasmine turmeric rice, which my 14 year old will consume on a good day.  Everything else gets chopped and thrown in one pot.  The longer it sits on the stove, the better it gets, so if your world is anything like mine, that means you can make it when you have 15 minutes and then forget about it other than the occasional stir.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, your pick, I use yellow

2 bell peppers, I like red and yellow for the color

3 carrots

4 good-sized handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 T. Thai red curry paste (note:  if it is important for you, look for a vegan and GF variety)

2 T. soy sauce (remember the vegan, GF part again, if you want)

2 T. lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 can (7 oz.) coconut milk

7 oz. almond milk, or the rest of the can of coconut milk, your choice

7 oz. water

Mix rice, turmeric and 4 cups of water in a separate pot.  If making and serving immediately, go ahead and cook the rice.  If making ahead of time, cover the pot and let it sit until 30 minutes before supper time.

Chop the onion, peppers, and carrots into pieces of similar size.  Put all ingredients (other than rice and turmeric) into a pot.  Cover, turn heat on medium low, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cooking well, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat.  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy dinner as much as we do!  And be sure to check out cookieandkate.com for their original recipe, beautiful pictures, and more awesome whole food recipes!

So much love,

~A

Vegan Thai Red Curry

(This recipe is adapted from COOKIE + kate)

I LOVE cooking, but anything that gets cooked at my house these days has to meet some really stringent criteria:  it has to be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, quick and easy to make, and delicious enough for my meat and dairy eating husband to also enjoy it.  I have given up on the final one, which is that my kids would love it too.  My 23 year old stepson is up for trying new things any time he is around, and my two year old will usually give things a tiny try, but my 12 and 14 year old kiddos are a completely different story… we’re talking plain noodles, pickles, and potato chips here, folks.  It is not pretty.

This recipe meets all my attainable criteria with flying colors.  It is SO good, SO easy, and SO healthy!  We make it with 4 cups of jasmine turmeric rice, which my 14 year old will consume on a good day.  Everything else gets chopped and thrown in one pot.  The longer it sits on the stove, the better it gets, so if your world is anything like mine, that means you can make it when you have 15 minutes and then forget about it other than the occasional stir.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, your pick, I use yellow

2 bell peppers, I like red and yellow for the color

3 carrots

4 good-sized handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 T. Thai red curry paste (note:  if it is important for you, look for a vegan and GF variety)

2 T. soy sauce (remember the vegan, GF part again, if you want)

2 T. lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 can (7 oz.) coconut milk

7 oz. almond milk, or the rest of the can of coconut milk, your choice

7 oz. water

Mix rice, turmeric and 4 cups of water in a separate pot.  If making and serving immediately, go ahead and cook the rice.  If making ahead of time, cover the pot and let it sit until 30 minutes before supper time.

Chop the onion, peppers, and carrots into pieces of similar size.  Put all ingredients (other than rice and turmeric) into a pot.  Cover, turn heat on medium low, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cooking well, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat.  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy dinner as much as we do!  And be sure to check out cookieandkate.com for their original recipe, beautiful pictures, and more awesome whole food recipes!

 

6 Simple Steps to Make It Through the Worst Times

How to be peaceful, calm, and kind when circumstances are not

Wooden dock on a lake in the moonlight

Most of the practices for calming in the face of anxiety or panic attacks hinge on the idea that here, now, I am safe. The premise is that worry and anxiety come from being trapped by the traumatic memories of the past, or from thinking of the terrible “what ifs” of the future.

But what happens when it’s not okay here and now? What if, in this moment, I am experiencing ongoing pain, or my child is having the tenth meltdown of the morning, or my spouse is having a major medical event, or my parent is showing signs of dementia?

How do we deal with the activation of the present moment without losing our minds?

This question has been with me frequently over the past several years… how can I be peaceful, calm, and kind when circumstances are not?

Before I share some steps I’ve found effective, let me say that these are things we can do on a “good” day, when things might be hard but we’ve gotten enough rest, or we are tired but thoroughly enjoying our coffee… these are not things that work all the time and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to always be peaceful, calm, and kind. We are humans interacting with humans. We WILL mess up. We will lose it and those we love will lose it. This is not only to be expected, it is one of the things I most love about John Bowlby’s theory of attachment: we will mess up in our relationships, but when we take the time to repair well, our relationships will be stronger than they were before!

But I digress… my point is, no one is perfect and we shouldn’t expect perfection from ourselves or anyone else. That expectation alone will cause great suffering.

However, when we are able, what can we do to stay calm and steady in the face of immediate hardship?

As anyone who practices meditation will tell you, the first and most basic tool is awareness. When things are getting hard and you feel yourself getting activated, notice.

That’s all. The first step is to notice what is happening. Eckhart Tolle says, “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” We are not our thoughts or emotions, we are the observer.

Once we notice, we have the opportunity to take the next step, which is to pause. Instead of impulsively acting on whatever emotion or thought is arising, we can notice it and pause. Take a deep breath.

And perhaps another.

Pausing and slowing our breathing can help us calm our amygdala, a small part of our brain responsible for keeping us safe. Except our amygdala only gives us three options: fight, flight, or freeze. Sometimes those options are useful. When dealing with loved ones, usually they are not. Usually they will make the situation worse instead of better.

So, breathing slow and deep can calm our amygdala and send it the signal that everything is ok. Then our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that can make plans, be flexible, think through options, and let us see things from another’s point of view, can come back online and be in charge again.

We can reflect.

We can choose our response.

Unfortunately, even with our prefrontal cortex running the show, there simply are not always going to be solutions for the circumstances we face.

We’ve noticed. We’ve paused. We’ve breathed. We’ve reflected.

And our child is still screaming and throwing things.

Our pain is still curling us in a ball.

Our spouse is still sick.

Our parent is still oddly belligerent.

So the next step becomes perhaps the most difficult… acceptance. This is what is happening. I cannot change it. So I accept it.

Don’t get me wrong here, acceptance does not mean I will lay down and give up. Instead, acceptance is truly a form of courage. To face things as they are is one of the bravest things we will ever do.

We can’t rush this one. Acceptance may not happen in this moment. It may not happen today. It may not even happen next week. Or it may happen right now, but not tomorrow. Each of these steps takes practice, each one takes time.

As we give ourselves time to notice, time to pause, time to breathe, time to accept reality as it is, we are also practicing compassion. And in my mind, compassion is the crux of the whole thing. When we are able to practice compassion for ourselves as we learn and grow, we can also begin to practice compassion for those around us. And when it’s not okay, we need compassion more than any other time…

Compassion for ourselves in our own failings and shortcomings, when we don’t respond to tough situations the way we wish we would…

Compassion for those around us who are having a hard time, even when we aren’t sure we understand.

You see, compassion softens us. It allows us to open our hands and our hearts, to be present to ourselves or to another with tenderness, kindness, and care instead of bitterness, anger, or coldness. Compassion upholds and completes the cycle of finding peace when it’s not okay.

The steps are simple: notice; pause; breathe; reflect; accept; practice compassion. But they are not easy.

Most of us have not been trained to respond to hard and impossible things in these ways. Some of us might even find ourselves annoyed right now. If so, take a moment to think about how you usually respond when things really aren’t ok. What does it feel like in your body? Does your pulse quicken? Do your hands shake? Does your breathing get shallow? How does your voice sound? Do you yell? Go silent? And in the end, how do you feel? How do those around you feel?

Is what you’re doing working?

If so, then notice. Think about the things you do that work for you. Pause and appreciate them.

If not, then notice. Think about how you hope to feel in the face of difficulty. Think about how you want those around you to feel. Would you like to try something new?

There are many unfixable things we will face in our lives. If you haven’t encountered them yet, just give life time… they will come. And when they do, our only choice, our only power, lies in our response.

Notice.

So much love,

~A

When it’s not okay

Most of the practices for calming in the face of anxiety or panic attacks hinge on the idea that here, now, I am safe. The premise is that worry and anxiety come from being trapped by the traumatic memories of the past, or from thinking of the terrible “what ifs” of the future.

But what happens when it’s not okay here and now? What if, in this moment, I am experiencing ongoing pain, or my child is having the tenth meltdown of the morning, or my spouse is having a major medical event, or my parent is showing signs of dementia?

How do we deal with the activation of the present moment without losing our minds?

This question has been with me frequently over the past several years… how can I be peaceful, calm, and kind when circumstances are not?

Before I share some steps I’ve found effective, let me say that these are things we can do on a “good” day, when things might be hard but we’ve gotten enough rest, or we are tired but thoroughly enjoying our coffee… these are not things that work all the time and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to always be peaceful, calm, and kind. We are humans interacting with humans. We WILL mess up. We will lose it and those we love will lose it. This is not only to be expected, it is one of the things I most love about John Bowlby’s theory of attachment: we will mess up in our relationships, but when we take the time to repair well, our relationships will be stronger than they were before!

But I digress… my point is, no one is perfect and we shouldn’t expect perfection from ourselves or anyone else. That expectation alone will cause great suffering.

However, when we are able, what can we do to stay calm and steady in the face of immediate hardship?

As anyone who practices meditation will tell you, the first and most basic tool is awareness. When things are getting hard and you feel yourself getting activated, notice.

That’s all. The first step is to notice what is happening. Eckhart Tolle says, “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” We are not our thoughts or emotions, we are the observer.

Once we notice, we have the opportunity to take the next step, which is to pause. Instead of impulsively acting on whatever emotion or thought is arising, we can notice it and pause. Take a deep breath.

And perhaps another.

Pausing and slowing our breathing can help us calm our amygdala, a small part of our brain responsible for keeping us safe. Except our amygdala only gives us three options: fight, flight, or freeze. Sometimes those options are useful. When dealing with loved ones, usually they are not. Usually they will make the situation worse instead of better.

So, breathing slow and deep can calm our amygdala and send it the signal that everything is ok. Then our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that can make plans, be flexible, think through options, and let us see things from another’s point of view, can come back online and be in charge again.

We can reflect.

We can choose our response.

Unfortunately, even with our prefrontal cortex running the show, there simply are not always going to be solutions for the circumstances we face.

We’ve noticed. We’ve paused. We’ve breathed. We’ve reflected.

And our child is still screaming and throwing things.

Our pain is still curling us in a ball.

Our spouse is still sick.

Our parent is still oddly belligerent.

So the next step becomes perhaps the most difficult… acceptance. This is what is happening. I cannot change it. So I accept it.

Don’t get me wrong here, acceptance does not mean I will lay down and give up. Instead, acceptance is truly a form of courage. To face things as they are is one of the bravest things we will ever do.

We can’t rush this one. Acceptance may not happen in this moment. It may not happen today. It may not even happen next week. Or it may happen right now, but not tomorrow. Each of these steps takes practice, each one takes time.

As we give ourselves time to notice, time to pause, time to breathe, time to accept reality as it is, we are also practicing compassion. And in my mind, compassion is the crux of the whole thing. When we are able to practice compassion for ourselves as we learn and grow, we can also begin to practice compassion for those around us. And when it’s not okay, we need compassion more than any other time…

Compassion for ourselves in our own failings and shortcomings, when we don’t respond to tough situations the way we wish we would…

Compassion for those around us who are having a hard time, even when we aren’t sure we understand.

You see, compassion softens us. It allows us to open our hands and our hearts, to be present to ourselves or to another with tenderness, kindness, and care instead of bitterness, anger, or coldness. Compassion upholds and completes the cycle of finding peace when it’s not okay.

The steps are simple: notice; pause; breathe; reflect; accept; practice compassion. But they are not easy.

Most of us have not been trained to respond to hard and impossible things in these ways. Some of us might even find ourselves annoyed right now. If so, take a moment to think about how you usually respond when things really aren’t ok. What does it feel like in your body? Does your pulse quicken? Do your hands shake? Does your breathing get shallow? How does your voice sound? Do you yell? Go silent? And in the end, how do you feel? How do those around you feel?

Is what you’re doing working?

If so, then notice. Think about the things you do that work for you. Pause and appreciate them.

If not, then notice. Think about how you hope to feel in the face of difficulty. Think about how you want those around you to feel. Would you like to try something new?

There are many unfixable things we will face in our lives. If you haven’t encountered them yet, just give life time… they will come. And when they do, our only choice, our only power, lies in our response.

Notice.

So much love,

~A

Trust Yourself

I will never forget that first night in the hospital… after a long, hard labor I had welcomed my beautiful little boy into the world, slightly jaundiced, but otherwise healthy and whole. My emotions were a mess as my two year-old daughter held her brother for the first time, snuggled beside me on the hospital bed, clearly still recovering from the terror of Mama being gone when she woke up that morning.Baby’s hand holding mama’s shirt

But as night fell and visitors left, I entered the first of many very long nights with my son. He cried inconsolably, struggling to nurse, struggling to sleep. Nurses tried to come and take him to give me a break, but I couldn’t rest, wondering how he was when he was away from me.

The confidence I felt when my daughter was born seemed to evaporate like early morning fog, as all my best efforts to soothe and nourish my son proved ineffective.

“Is something wrong?” I asked one of the nurses. “I can’t seem to help him. Why doesn’t he latch well? And why is he gagging?”

Patiently and calmly, the nurse told me some babies just took a little longer to figure it out, that some babies were fussy, that I should give him to her and get some sleep.

But I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it’s just a difference in personality… or maybe it’s a boy thing… after all, I had no experience with baby boys…

I tried reassuring myself. I tried to believe the nurse. But fear had started to set up camp in my brain. I knew something was not right.

Two days later we were sent home with a clear bill of health, apart from instructions to hold him in the sunlight to keep working at curing his jaundice.

My parents stayed to help, my mom holding her newest grandbaby in the sunlight with all the delight of centuries of grandmas glowing in her face. I held my daughter and rested as much as possible. We kept working at nursing. My baby boy kept crying.

“Something is wrong,” I told my husband. I told my mom. I told my pediatrician.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine,” they all said. “It’s probably just colic. He’s probably just a fussy baby. He’ll outgrow it. He’ll be fine.”

I turned to the dark and frightening world of self-diagnosis on the internet. Words like Developmental Delay, and Fragile X Syndrome, and Autism Spectrum, and Sensory Processing popped up. And I read, and read, and read.

And I cried with my baby as he tried to nurse, as he tried to sleep, as I rocked him, and bounced him, and shushed him with lullabies and humming.

Our first diagnosis from our pediatrician was at 6 months. We got a referral to a local early intervention program.

My husband got angry. Clearly I was just worrying too much. Our son didn’t need therapists. He was going to be fine. I was too uptight and needed to relax. Everything was fine.

But it wasn’t. So therapists came anyway. Speech was first, helping him swallow. OT came with a Wilbarger protocol. PT came and he started to walk.

And still he cried. And never slept through the night. And hated going to noisy restaurants, or being buckled in his car seat, or pushed in his swing.

Those first few years were painful, and exhausting, and lonely. I fought with my husband over every doctor visit, every intervention, every therapy appointment.

I still didn’t know what was going on, but I knew we were making progress, and I wasn’t about to quit.

Diagnoses came over the course of a decade. Puzzle pieces started fitting together. I became fluent in the language of visual schedules, and sensory inputs. I learned how to be the safe harbor my son needed by holding him close and bouncing instead of rocking. No humming. Definitely no singing. He needed me close with a firm touch and unintuitive silence.

He learned what he needed, and was soon able to let me know when he needed to jump on his trampoline, or just have some space by himself. He knew when he was ready to engage again, and did so with joy.

A divorce, remarriage, a stepson, and a toddler later, we have learned SO much. I feel like I will never stop learning.

My boy is able to be in the present moment unlike anyone else I’ve met. He loves people and forgives almost instantly. He has a huge, tender heart and a mischievous streak that inevitably gets him in trouble.

But even now I can’t allow myself to go too far into the future very often. There are too many unknowns. Too much is still uncertain.

Throughout our lives we face a multitude of uncertainties. What is the next right thing to do? Are we being lead by true intuition or by our worst fears? What if those two coincide?

Perhaps you have your own story of diagnosis. Maybe you’re in the middle of it right now. Maybe there is something else entirely that is your unfixable thing to be faced.

Whatever it is that kept you reading this far, take a moment.

Breathe in deeply through your nose.

Let the air expand not only your lungs, but your abdomen as well.

Let your breath out slowly through your mouth.

Let your face relax, your jaw loosen.

Drop your shoulders.

Breathe. Slow and deep.

Trust yourself.

Settle in.

Pay attention to that voice of wisdom inside you.

I could never have imagined all those years ago what life would be like today. But I didn’t need to. I usually had no idea if what I was doing was actually the next right thing. I fumbled around filled with fear and uncertainty.

You don’t have to do that. Or you can, if you want. But right now, you can breathe.

You can do the thing in front of you to do.

And you can do it with kindness for yourself and for those around you.

All will be well.

It may not be as you expected, planned, or wanted, but all will be well.

There is Love guiding us.

There is enough light for this moment.

Breathe.

Trust yourself.

All will be well.

So much love,

~A

Trust Yourself

I will never forget that first night in the hospital… after a long, hard labor I had welcomed my beautiful little boy into the world, slightly jaundiced, but otherwise healthy and whole. My emotions were a mess as my two year-old daughter held her brother for the first time, snuggled beside me on the hospital bed, clearly still recovering from the terror of Mama being gone when she woke up that morning.

But as night fell and visitors left, I entered the first of many very long nights with my son. He cried inconsolably, struggling to nurse, struggling to sleep. Nurses tried to come and take him to give me a break, but I couldn’t rest, wondering how he was when he was away from me.

The confidence I felt when my daughter was born seemed to evaporate like early morning fog, as all my best efforts to soothe and nourish my son proved ineffective.

“Is something wrong?” I asked one of the nurses. “I can’t seem to help him. Why doesn’t he latch well? And why is he gagging?”

Patiently and calmly, the nurse told me some babies just took a little longer to figure it out, that some babies were fussy, that I should give him to her and get some sleep.

But I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it’s just a difference in personality… or maybe it’s a boy thing… after all, I had no experience with baby boys…

I tried reassuring myself. I tried to believe the nurse. But fear had started to set up camp in my brain. I knew something was not right.

Two days later we were sent home with a clear bill of health, apart from instructions to hold him in the sunlight to keep working at curing his jaundice.

My parents stayed to help, my mom holding her newest grandbaby in the sunlight with all the delight of centuries of grandmas glowing in her face. I held my daughter and rested as much as possible. We kept working at nursing. My baby boy kept crying.

“Something is wrong,” I told my husband. I told my mom. I told my pediatrician.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine,” they all said. “It’s probably just colic. He’s probably just a fussy baby. He’ll outgrow it. He’ll be fine.”

I turned to the dark and frightening world of self-diagnosis on the internet. Words like Developmental Delay, and Fragile X Syndrome, and Autism Spectrum, and Sensory Processing popped up. And I read, and read, and read.

And I cried with my baby as he tried to nurse, as he tried to sleep, as I rocked him, and bounced him, and shushed him with lullabies and humming.

Our first diagnosis from our pediatrician was at 6 months. We got a referral to a local early intervention program.

My husband got angry. Clearly I was just worrying too much. Our son didn’t need therapists. He was going to be fine. I was too uptight and needed to relax. Everything was fine.

But it wasn’t. So therapists came anyway. Speech was first, helping him swallow. OT came with a Wilbarger protocol. PT came and he started to walk.

And still he cried. And never slept through the night. And hated going to noisy restaurants, or being buckled in his car seat, or pushed in his swing.

Those first few years were painful, and exhausting, and lonely. I fought with my husband over every doctor visit, every intervention, every therapy appointment.

I still didn’t know what was going on, but I knew we were making progress, and I wasn’t about to quit.

Diagnoses came over the course of a decade. Puzzle pieces started fitting together. But even now I can’t allow myself to go too far into the future very often. There are too many unknowns. Too much is still uncertain.

Throughout our lives we face a multitude of uncertainties. What is the next right thing to do? Are we being lead by true intuition or by our worst fears? What if those two coincide?

Perhaps you have your own story of diagnosis. Maybe you’re in the middle of it right now. Maybe there is something else entirely that is your unfixable thing to be faced.

Whatever it is that kept you reading this far, take a moment.

Breathe in deeply through your nose.

Let the air expand not only your lungs, but your abdomen as well.

Let your breath out slowly through your mouth.

Let your face relax, your jaw loosen.

Drop your shoulders.

Breathe. Slow and deep.

Trust yourself.

Settle in.

Pay attention to that voice of wisdom inside you.

I could never have imagined all those years ago what life would be like today. But I didn’t need to. I usually had no idea if what I was doing was actually the next right thing. I fumbled around filled with fear and uncertainty.

You don’t have to do that. Or you can, if you want. But right now, you can breathe.

You can do the thing in front of you to do.

And you can do it with kindness for yourself and for those around you.

All will be well.

It may not be as you expected, planned, or wanted, but all will be well.

There is love guiding us.

There is enough light for this moment.

Breathe.

Trust yourself.

All will be well.

So much love,

~A