Crinkled White Paper

“You could take your daughter to the emergency room, but they probably won’t sedate her either and will charge you an arm and a leg.”

Um… come again?  Kirby and I stare blankly at this strange doctor that we have never met before.  It was a Saturday morning and our regular pediatrician was not on call.  We had brought our daughter in under the mistaken assumption that a spider bite had become infected under her arm.   Instead, we were being told that this “bite” that had somehow managed to grow into the size of a second head overnight was actually a staph infection that needed to be lanced and drained.

Obviously, this new doctor did not know us or the types of parents that we are.  My husband, who is strong and brave on so many fronts, can not stand to see his baby girl hurt.  He is literally the type of dad that has never missed one of her doctor’s appointments but has to hide in the corner if she’s due for a shot.  It’s no picnic for me, either, but after overcoming my own fear of needles while having to inject myself four times daily during my lovely experience with gestational diabetes, I can at least stomach it.  What I do not like is to have to purposefully inflict pain on my daughter, even though I know it’s for her own good.

“I’m sorry,” I say with an apologetic nervous giggle.  “Can you tell me again what you are wanting to do?  Are you sure this isn’t something that will just go away on it’s own with a good round of antibiotics and maybe a topical ointment?  I’ve heard warm compresses can work wonders.”  The doctor, a mother herself, finally understands us on a human level instead of on a doctor/ patient level.  She very patiently explains to us that the grotesque looking growth under my daughter’s arm is extremely painful. The lancing and draining will be excruciating, but she promises that she will be very quick and that Hadley will be completely back to normal and pain free after about an hour.  If she doesn’t lance it, it will be at least three more days of intense pain and pressure and then there is still a possibility that it will not drain on its own but could actually spread into her blood stream.  Then, she tells me the words that bring me immediate comfort: “If she was my own child, this is exactly what I would do.”  So, yeah, okay.  I guess we’re going to lance Mount St. Helens.

Kirby and I strive to always be honest with our daughter.  We feel like we are teaching her to tell us the truth by our example.  This is not always easy.  I bend down to look at my sweet three year old in the eyes and try to explain, as gently as possible, what is about to happen.  “Boo, the doctor is going to make you feel much better. In order to do that, she needs to pop a hole in your spider bite.  Then, she’s going to squeeze it really hard so that all of the bad stuff inside of it will come out.”  Her eyes widen.  I take a deep breath and continue. “It’s going to hurt, sweetie.  But, it will only hurt for a little bit and then it will be over.  Mommy will be right here and so will Daddy.  Do you have any questions?”  My brave little soldier nods her head “no” and we help her onto the table with the dreaded white paper that immediately crinkles up underneath her weight.  The doctor asks her to lie down and she does, without complaint.  I am in charge of holding her arms and head, the nurse holds her middle, and my husband takes her feet.  Three adults to hold down a 30 pound baby.

The doctor quickly gets to work.  Tears fill up in my daughter’s eyes and she quietly starts to whisper, “Ow, ow, ow.  MOMMMMMMYYYYY….OWWWWWWWW.”  What feels like an eternity really only takes seconds and soon, my daughter is sitting up on the table with a Band-aid under her arm.  Not only do my husband and I have tears rolling down our faces, but the doctor and nurse do as well.  The doctor explains that never before had a child so trustingly crawled up onto the table, volunteering her most tender, sore spot without objection.

My daughter trusted us to know that the pain she would have to endure would be worth it in the end.  She knew that her mommy and her daddy would be there with her the entire time and would be there to hold her when it was all said and done.  She trusted us to know what was right for her.

I would love to be able to say that I am as brave and trusting as my daughter.  It’s easy to show courage and spew wisdom after the fact.  Sure, I learned a lot through my divorce.  Yes, my infertility struggles taught me how to let go.  I am very aware that I do learn and grow the most after hard trials and tribulations.  It’s easy to be grateful for the valleys once you’ve reached the next mountain peek.  Yet, how much better would my life be if I could find peace during those times of personal lancing?  I believe that a divine power has all of this under control.  I believe in the Great I Am.  I believe that sometimes it’s necessary for me to be cut opened and squeezed in order for healing to occur.  I believe that God, just like Kirby and I were there for our daughter, is right there beside me throughout the whole process, whispering that this too, is for my greater good, that this pain or hardship will hurt for just a little while, and soon everything will be much better than it was before.

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or heartache.  It means that despite the storms that are raging outside my very existence,  I can still somehow manage to be calm inside my own heart and soul.  It means that I know that everything that happens to me is for my greater good.  It means trusting my own Heavenly Father.  It means surrendering to a power greater than my own.

I must daily surrender my false sense of control if I truly want to live a life of peace.  It’s easy to do this when things are going well.  It’s the surrendering during the trials that I find to be the most difficult.  As I find myself wanting to kick and scream, may I hear the reminder of the crinkled white paper and remember my daughter’s willingness to lay down and surrender for her own greater good.

As a side note, my daughter was completely fine after about 30 minutes of slight tears and whimpers. The two lollipops given to her by the doctor certainly helped, but the extra large helping of chips and queso at our neighborhood Mexican restaurant really did the trick.  If you haven’t already learned this for yourself, queso fixes everything.

~ala

How to be a Hero in Your Daughter’s Eyes

There is something magical when a daddy holds his newborn daughter for the first time.  A love like no other overtakes him.  He becomes fiercely protective.  She has him wrapped around her finger almost instantly.  And you, dear father, become her first true love.  Here are some ways to stay a hero in her eyes.
  1. Playing with pink toys will not decrease your manhood.  Play ponies, play dolls, play dress-up.  Remember how you used to play Star Wars or He-Man?  It’s the same principle.  Use funny voices.  Give the toys super powers.  Your daughter will LOVE it.
  2. On the same note, let her give you make-overs.  Let her put make-up on you, let her paint your fingernails.  It will all wash off.  These will be some of her most treasured memories of you.
  3. Read to her and help her with her homework.  This is a great way to spend time with her.
  4. Watch cartoons with her.  Know what she likes and doesn’t like.
  5. Play rough with her.  Throw her up in the air.  Chase her around the house.  Wrestle with her.  Help her learn she’s tougher than she thinks she is.
  6. Take her with you to do your “man things.”  Take her hunting.  Take her fishing. Take her to the hardware store.  Let her help you fix things around the house.  You will be teaching her to be independent.
  7. Share your interests with her- teach her about the sports that you like.  Take her to games.  Share your favorite music with her.  You will be developing common interests.
  8. Play outside with her.  Throw a ball around, have races.  Ride bikes together.  Help her learn that it’s fun to get sweaty and dirty.  Help her become strong both mentally and physically.
  9. Take on some of the nurturing rolls of parenthood.  Give her baths while she’s little, put her to bed at night.  Be the one that gets her out of bed in the morning.  Let her know that your lap is always available when she’s hurt.   photo-9
  10. Be involved.  Show up at her recitals, at her sporting events, at her school.  Your presence will speak volumes.  It will show her how much she is loved, way more than words ever will.
  11. Be present when you’re with her.  She knows the difference when you are paying attention or when  you are distracted by your phone or the sports score.  It’s okay to take breaks when you need them, but when you’re with her, really let yourself be mentally there as well.
  12. Never choose work over her when you have the choice.  Although you may have good motives in wanting to provide for your family, your family would rather have you home.  Your presence is the best thing that you can provide for your daughter.
  13. Be a good example.  She will learn how a woman is supposed to be treated from you.  Love wisely.
  14. Make sure she knows that she is more than a pretty face.  It’s okay to tell her that she’s beautiful, but more importantly than that, tell her why her heart is beautiful.
  15. Although you will need to discipline her, always do it from a place of love.  Fear is the opposite of love.  If she grows to be afraid of you, she will not be able to feel your love.
  16. As she grows older and naturally starts to pull away, remember that she will need you more than ever.  Your role will change, but let her know that you are still there.  Let her feel safe confiding in you.  Make it a point to still do daddy/ daughter things.
  17. Try to always be a real person.  Remember how it was to be that age.  Be compassionate and understanding.  Be honest.  Explain why you have certain rules- why she needs a curfew, why you don’t want her going to certain parties.  Trust her if she is trustworthy.  Give her the benefit of the doubt.  She will respect you if you respect her.
  18. Never, ever make her feel less because she is a girl.  Society does enough of this as it is. It is your job to make sure she knows that she is capable of achieving her heart’s desire.  Be her biggest cheerleader.  Let her become your biggest hero.
  19. Let her see your soft side.  Be honest about your own fears and anxieties.  She will see you as powerful and flawless.  Let her see you as real.
  20. Most importantly, let her know every day how much you love her.  Tell her.  Don’t make the assumption that she automatically knows.  Hug her and kiss her often.  The relationship she has with you will influence all of her other relationships for the rest of her life.  Fathers, you have a huge responsibility and privilege.  Let her know how much you value her.  Tell her and show her that she is the most precious thing in your life.

“A father is respected because
He gives his children leadership…
Appreciated because
He gives his children care…
Valued because
He gives his children time…
Loved because
He gives his children the one thing
They treasure most – himself.”

-author unknown

~ala

Today’s blog is dedicated to my own father and to my husband, two of the best fathers around.   These twenty items are  taken from my favorite things about each of them.

Flying Lessons from the Crow

I sometimes think that life would be easier if we were able to keep the innocence of youth.  Children are much braver than most adults.  They aren’t afraid to try new things.  They don’t care if they fall down… they might cry, but they usually pick themselves right back up and try again.  Children must learn how to roll over, to crawl, to walk, to talk, to use the potty, to ride a bike, to read.  None of this is easy and takes a lot of practice, patience, and perseverance.   Children take all of this in stride.   They know that accidents happen and they give themselves permission to not be perfect the first time around. They understand intrinsically that they are learning and growing and they are okay with making mistakes.  They are not afraid to lose control.  It’s all part of learning.

At some point in most of our lives, the grace we show to ourselves as children shuts down.  Instead, we become terrified that we will be judged, that we will be seen as less than perfect.  Instead, we decide to play it safe.  We become afraid to try new things.  Most of us are taught not to follow our passions because we’ll never make a living doing what we truly love to do.  Most of us try to fit ourselves into the box that society tells us is “normal.”  We try to control that which we can to create safety and security.  We allow ourselves to become caged because we are afraid to fly.

Yoga for me was the first step in opening my cage door.  I was terrified going to my first yoga class.  You must understand that flexibility and I have never been friends.  If you grew up in America you might remember the Presidential Physical Fitness Test where you were asked to do curl-ups, the shuttle run, an endurance run/ walk, pull-ups or the arm hang, and the dreaded sit and reach test.  The last time I took this test was in college.  I was able to score in the Presidential level on all the “hard” stuff but the sit and reach test, created to test the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings, became my own personal nemesis.  Just so you’re clear, to touch your toes with straight legs earns you a score of 0.  You must be able to reach many inches PAST your toes (up to 8 depending on your age) and HOLD it for 3 seconds.  I always thought this test was unfair.  I managed to convince myself it was because I have abnormally long legs for my height.  I saw person after person, people who couldn’t even do one curl-up or run a single lap, pass this portion of the test with flying colors.  My ego took a full beating.  I blamed the fact that I never took gymnastics or dance.  I blamed my coaches for never taking the time to stretch me after practice.  I never once thought  that maybe flexibility was something that I would have to work on myself until I turned 33, had a c-section, and felt like I was a 90 year old woman that could barely move around because I was in so much pain.  Lack of flexibility finally caught up to me.

So, pain drove me to open the cage door to try something new and to let go of the control of security.   I knew that yoga would not be easy for me.  I knew that I wouldn’t be perfect.  I knew that I would feel humiliated.  I knew that women that were twice my age would run circles around me, and they did.  But, I also learned from day one that yoga is non-competitive.  The teachers actually tell you not to look around the room, to close your eyes if balance isn’t an issue, and to listen to your own body.  I was as stiff as The Tin Man the first few weeks, but gradually, my body started to loosen up and my flexibility improved.  I could even touch my toes with straight legs for the first time, well, ever.  After 6 months, I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to study yoga and to teach others.  This just goes to show that God has a sense of humor.

Style: "Color tone - warm"

Crow pose

After awhile, level one yoga became easier for me and it was time to move on to the advanced class.  Level one was the foundation, like learning how to crawl.  I built up strength, flexibility, and balance.  I learned the major poses.  Now, I was being asked to walk for the first time, to use all that I had learned to move my body into challenging twists and turns.  All of this was okay until we got to my new nemesis, crow pose.  My major issue with crow pose is that my feet are supposed to be off the ground.  I have to support myself using core and arm strength only. My legs are my foundation, where I feel like I am the strongest and that I have the most control.  I’ve always considered my core and my arms to be my weak links.  Now I was being asked to trust that they would keep me from literally falling flat on my face.  True, my face is only a few inches from the ground and it’s not like I will actually break my skull or anything (nose maybe) but I’m not going to die if I fall.  Yet, I was terrified.  I would get my body into proper alignment, take one foot off of the ground, and then panic would strike.  I would take my second foot off the ground for a fraction of a second, and immediately take myself out of the pose.  I would look around the room at people who seemed to effortlessly move into this pose and would secretly want to bump into them and make them fall onto their faces.  Not very yoga-like, I know.  But, the competitive side of me kicked back into full gear.  I felt like I was being judged, that I was a failure because I couldn’t do this pose.  I am a certified yoga teacher.  Surely, surely there is some requirement somewhere that says I have to do this pose to be able to teach.  (There isn’t, by the way.)  It took me weeks, but I finally figured out what was keeping me from reaching this pose.  It was my own fear, plain and simple.  I was so attached to the outcome that I literally could not get off of the ground.

As I’ve found time and time again, the lessons I learn from the yoga mat carry over into my every day life.  I learned that in order to be successful at anything, including Crow Pose, I must become detached from the outcome.  If I spend all of my energy concerned about what could happen, I am operating from a position of worry, fear, and doubt.  I completely set myself up for failure.  Instead, I must come from a place of serenity, faith, and trust.  This concept is called the Law of Detachment.  Detachment is based on resting in the complete grace of God, knowing that He is in control, working the events of my life together for my greatest good.

Control is a funny thing.  Most of us long to feel like we are in control.  We create an illusion of control by creating schedules for ourselves, by creating patterns that we complete over and over again.  Most of our closets are full of clothes, yet we wear the same outfits time and time again.  There are many ways to drive to work, but most of us drive the same way every single time.  Most of us eat the same meals over and over again.  We sleep on the same side of the bed each night.  We do laundry on certain days.  We plan our evenings based on what shows are on television for the evening.  I am convinced that I am a creature of habit because it creates a sense of safety for me; when I do X, I know that Y will occur.  When I continually follow the same pattern, I usually get the same results.  This creates a feeling of safety and security.

Control is an illusion made all too apparent when something unexpected happens.  What happens when you are driving and hit unexpected traffic?  For me, I immediately look at the clock if I am supposed to be somewhere at a certain time.  Then, I start to panic because I hadn’t planned for the delay and I hate being late.  My feeling of being in control immediately vanishes and I feel vulnerable.  My body starts to tense, my breathing becomes more rapid, my jaw clenches and my shoulders ride up next to my ears.

What I am finding is that the need for control stems from the fear of the unknown.  When I try something new, when I say something I usually would never dare to say, when I speak up when I usually would remain silent, I cannot guarantee what outcome will occur.  What I am finding; however, is that my freedom and happiness depend on my ability to let go of the need to control outcomes.

“THE GREATEST MISTAKE YOU CAN MAKE IN LIFE IS TO BE CONTINUALLY FEARING YOU WILL MAKE ONE.”  -Elbert Hubbard

Want to get out of your cage and fly?  First, make sure you are coming from a place of love.  Avoid doing or saying things out of anger.  Avoid those things which only feed the ego and not the soul.  Then, go for it.  Detach yourself from the outcome, from the fear of making a mistake.  When you can become detached, the outcome no longer has power over you.  There is power in conquering something you never thought that you could.  Go for it.  Conquer your own crow pose.

~ala