Up close and personal: Leakies Q & A on TLB, personal, and “other”

This is the last of what could have been called “more than you ever really wanted to know about me.”  I responded to your questions about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding here and family, children, and work here.  In this post I answer some of your questions about The Leaky Boob, more personal questions, and the proverbial “other.”

Photography by Kelli Elizabeth Photography in Houston, TX

TLB, personal, and “Other”

Q: How do you eliminate negativity in your life?

When I figure that out I’ll let you know. 😉

Ok, that was a major copout answer.  I don’t eliminate it.  I’m an artist by nature, it’s a huge part of who I am and how I see the world.  I am prone to times of depression, part of the ebb and flow of life and a crucial part of the creative process.  For a long time I denied and suppressed that part of me but after one particularly difficult time with postpartum depression I’ve learned to embrace it.  By accepting negativity, including my own, for what it is when it arises I’m more equipped to leave it and not let it effect me.  Too much.  I have found that acknowledging it has made me see that there isn’t as much as I once thought.  Additionally I have learned to recognize it, identify the source, call it what it is, and if need be put boundaries in place.

Q: What inspired you to begin TLB?

You can read about that here.

Q: Tell us more about your faith – where do you go to church and can you tell us anything about your plans for Paris?

I am a protestant Christian with a huge passion for social justice and mercy ministry.  We attend a local Vineyard church and consider ourselves Christ-followers, not affiliated with a denomination.  Our plans for Paris have been delayed a few months due to the pregnancy (we’re already supposed to be there) but we are in non-profit arts, family, and social justice work.  Tentatively the plan is for us to be in Paris come late this summer.

Q:  What particular challenges did you face as a busy mom and writer? And what tips/tricks/advice helped you overcome those challenges?

Sleep.  Sleep is always my biggest challenge.  I’m a night owl but several of my kids are early risers.  When I’m not pregnant I overcome that with coffee.  When I’m pregnant, I fall asleep on the couch.  Often.  😉

What works for me is to be honest with myself and with The Piano Man about what I need and I expect the same from him.  I grew up seeing us kids as the center of my mom’s world and while that was really nice, it also made me feel responsible in the long run for her having a center of her world.  By the time I was a preteen I desperately wanted her to do something, ANYTHING, that was for herself and pursuing her own interests.  As a young adult I vowed not to have kids because I watched my mom flounder.  Not to mention the shock when the rest of the world wouldn’t let me be the center of their attention until I proved I deserved it.  There was quite the adjustment for me there.  So I’ve always made it a priority to have my kids see me into other activities that don’t involve them and I encourage them to pursue interests that don’t involve me all the while coming back to our center in our home.  It’s like a base, not a focal point, and where I’m grounded.  It’s where we regroup and energize, not what defines us.

Meal plans, not every day but for several of our busiest days a week help but still afford us the flexibility we enjoy in our cooking.  Enlisting the kids to help with housework and accepting that it may not always be done to my standards teaches them responsibility and life skills and helping around the house.  We require a quiet time for all of us to get some space from each other and actively work on our own projects be it writing, knitting, coloring, napping, etc.  Insisting that the girls play outside and me joining them there on a blanket with my work to keep an eye on them as they have free play.   They are regularly actively engaged in healthy play and having a rough schedule or rhythm that doesn’t control our lives but does provide a framework to stretch our canvas in order to live it really helps.  But most importantly, lightening up.  Relaxing.  Deciding what’s really important and learning to accept a certain amount of chaos.

Typical day?  Different every time!  But I promise we do eat, sleep, play, work, and love like crazy.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing you have experienced as a mother?

I’m really not sure I could narrow it down to one thing but I can say that seeing my daughters grow in independence, confidence, and with character I’m pleased to see developing, I feel the most encouraged in my parenting.  But there’s also just those moments of little arms flung around my neck, squeezing tight that feel incredibly rewarding, even more so because that’s not at all how they are thinking of it, they’re just expressing their genuine feelings.

Q: What’s your go-to-dinner? How do you take your coffee?

Go-to dinner: beans and rice with a salad.

Coffee: when I’m not pregnant I either like it with cream and sugar or a strong espresso, black.  Always fair trade.

Q: Do you have siblings? What is your relationship with your parents? Where did you grow up? How do you balance your work and your family? How are you so freaking awesome?!

I do have siblings, an older brother and a younger sister.  That’s right, I’m the middle child.  Bum-bum-BUUUUUUUM!  I live too far from my family and don’t do as good of a job as I’d like keeping in touch and staying connected.  My relationship with my parents is constantly changing.  It’s a good reminder that we’re all still growing.  There is a lot of love and though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, there is a lot of effort put into understanding and accepting our differences.  I grew up in Florida (Yankee South), born and reared there.  As to how I balance work and family, it’s a constant adjusting.  Just when I think I have it all worked out, something shifts and we have to reevaluate and re-tweak.  The key for us is to be flexible and maintain communication so we can adjust where and when necessary.  As for the awesome thing, my family could fill you in that I’m not so awesome.  😉

Q: Besides the amazing benefits of bfing for mom and baby, what compelled you to be such a huge advocate for bfing? Was there one specific person/event that made you realize this to be a passion of yours? What are some other things that define you as a person beside family and lactivism?

Believe it or not, it wasn’t about breastfeeding to me really when I started it.  It was about women, children, and families.  It still is.  Breastfeeding is just a piece of it, a piece I can talk about and facilitate a community where others can engage in a safe dialogue about breastfeeding… and more.  As for what are other things that define me, you can find more of those in some of the other answers to the questions here.  I’m passionate about so much!

Q: How did you got into knitting!!

Bed rest with #2!  Took me like 7 years to knit one scarf.  Then Earth Baby started knitting in school and I helped her with a project and realized I loved it and it just took off.

Q: What are you other passions besides all things breastfeeding, mothering, and blogging….?

The arts in general.  I’m very involved in the arts, went to school for music performance and also have a love for visual arts, theater, and the written word.  Helping people connect with the arts, use the arts, express themselves through the arts is a passion of mine.  Building up and encouraging artists is another.  Challenging artists to use their voice to help tell the stories of others, particularly the oppressed, is a big part of my life.  

Social justice, specifically related to human trafficking is my heart of hearts though.  It’s what fires me up like no other and is what breaks my heart over and over again.  

I’m also passionate about birth, building up women and girls, and sexual abuse issues.

On the lighter side, I love to read, knit, dance, ride bikes, sew, paint, and more.

Q: What inspired you to become such a passionate breastfeeding advocate? What were your thoughts and opinions on breastfeeding before you had children? And while i have your attention thank you for what you started. I would not be sitting here nursing my lo if i hadn’t joined your page shortly before becoming pregnant 🙂

Congrats on your breastfeeding!  So grateful TLB could be a part of that journey with you.

I figured I’d always breastfeed.  I remember being weirded out by a friend’s mom breastfeeding when I was a teen but when I voiced that thought to my mom I promptly got put in my place about how breastfeeding is normal and I better never forget it as I was breastfed until I was 2.5.  Though uncomfortable a bit with the idea when my turn came, I did feel it was the normal way to feed a baby so I got over it.

Q: When was the last time you peed in private in your own home? Cause, idk about you but I usually have a parade follow me into the bathroom followed by a play-by-play commentary…lol

Recently, actually.  They entertain each other so well lately that going with mommy to the potty the 25 times a day she goes has gotten boring.  The real challenge for me is to not have to yell something while I’m on the toilet: “wait, what are we climbing?  I don’t think so, don’t climb the doll stroller to get on top of the shelves!  I can get the toy, just let me finish peeing!”

Q: Are you Canadian?

Nope, never even been there.  I do plan to rectify that some day.  As my friend Cindy would say, I only wish I was that cool!

Q: Are you able to keep up with everything else, like cleaning, paying bills, friends, etc.? Or are you like me with a dirty house, stacks of paperwork, and little time for friends?

Like you!  I make time for friends though, it’s crucial to my personal health.

Q: Are you making money doing this, I noticed you advertise. Which is fine, just wondering! And if you become rich from this, can you promise not to change? : )

I do get money from the sponsors but not anything I’m going to be getting rich with any time soon!  But I won’t change, the DNA of TLB is pretty set, I like what it is and want to keep it going.  I have a pretty big vision for TLB, one step at a time but at the heart, it’s going to stay what it is.

Q: I don’t have a question, but many of the above questions have been running through my mind since reading your posts! I’m excited to hear your answers. There’s much to admire about you … especially that you’re raising such an obviously loving family but are also able to keep your art alive. I guess I do have a question: how do you find the time for your art pieces?

It’s slowed down some during the pregnancy though I picked up my brushes the other day to work on a family piece I’ve been conceptualizing.  I find time by letting other things go.  Involving my children helps too, they love to get set up with paints, brushes, paper or canvas, etc.  They do their work while I do mine.  It’s more clean up later but clean up I enjoy because the time spent creating together feeds my soul.

Q: I know you were a coffee drinker while bf are you while pregnant?

More like a coffee puker while pregnant.  😉

Q: You inspire many women, what inspires you?

All of the Leakies!  And my children.  And beautiful art.  And seeing things that I feel need to change.