Because of you, I live.

I keep this photo to remember your small frame, newly walking legs. I keep this photo to remember the few words that gurgled out from your lips, the firsts: “dada, mama, ball, and delicious.” I keep this photo in my favorites album, with each new device, this is one of the few that transfers. I keep this photo because it represents the beauty of motherhood and the despairs of depression. I keep this photo to glance back, once or maybe twice a year. I keep this photo for importance, to not be the face of darkness, but coming in to the light.
This was a time where life pulled me to my knees, occasionally keeping me to my sheets. This is the time I began to really connect with my yoga practice. This is the time I was digging the nail beds into the earth, at times wishing to sink and other times wishing to claw. I think of this time incredibly hard, yet unmistakably beautiful. This photo represents a moment between you and me, both of reflection in pain and joy. I do believe you can have the weight of the world and yet, somehow, feel on top of it too. I do believe you can feel the juxtaposition of every emotion, all at once. To feel so much happiness even in the darkest of days. I know this well, because I’ve lived here for a time. I will always keep this photo to remember that time.
This photo of me blowing you air kisses as my shins lift you to take flight. I hope you know you lifted me in ways I cannot express. I hope you know you are my greatest teacher. I hope you know that you are always loved, always lifted, always supported, and always a gift. You came in to this world as the biggest surprise, through a beautiful storm, a beautiful mess, a life as the message. I love you more than you know. Remembering here, this moment, to know how far we’ve come. Because of you, I live. #holymotherhood

stephanie birch

hard and soft

Loving comes easy when you are loving to yourself.
Kindness comes easy when you are kind to yourself.
Compassion comes easy when you are compassionate with yourself.


It comes easy when it’s starts with the self. I used to think the world was hard on me until I realized that I was the one that was hard on the world. The more I dug through my insides, the more I began to see where I was stiff, cold, unloving. I’ve dissolved the old stories and patterns of hiding. No longer upheld to, “stop crying or else” phrases. I would say most of my life I was quite certain that my strength rested in suffering quietly, living in cruelty, relentless with the final word that could pierce another. Hardened ways and icy trails riddled with little emotion. Bottled experiences, showing little face. 

I think that’s what I feared most about motherhood. How could I love and care for another when I hardly could do the same for myself?

I am different now. I know this, I feel it. I cannot change my old, hardened ways. I can change today.

Returning to love.
Returning to kindness.
Returning to compassion.

I am responsible for my soft shell, allowing life and love to penetrate it boldly and beautifully. It comes much easier now.

stephynow

not another playground story

A few weeks ago, while at the playground, a little girl pushed my son down the slide. After scooting off, he runs over to me asking me to tell her not to do it again. I didn’t. Part of me, of course, wanted to go over to the little girl (or her parent) and give words. I had to pause and redirect the moment to teach B how to stand up for himself and set boundaries. I realized that he’s growing up in a one-child household. There’s no sibling/s tugging at his shirt, taking his toys, interrupting his speech, or pulling for attention. I grew up in a house, oldest of 5, and learned how to navigate peers and tough situations at home. 
Part of his questioning, rather confusion, about this scenario had to do with why someone would push him down a slide in the first place offering he would never want to hurt someone by pushing them down. And to that, I couldn’t offer an explanation. I could only guide in preparation for the next go ‘round when someone isn’t kind or loving to him. 
I know people say, “ kids will be kids.” Yes, that’s true, but kids also learn from you, their parents/guardians, and everyone around them. I think the thing about parenting is not only to teach but also respect your child. It’s so simple but it often goes missed. As parents, we are pros at tuning out, getting agitated, and sometimes the craze of it all crashes and burns right in the middle of dinner. I’ve definitely been “that mom” having my own melt down at the dinner table. 
This incident, and many more to come, made me realize, how often do we, as adults, not respect our children? When they want to be heard, or stop tickling them, or help them, or ignore their tiredness or hunger, or not to touch his hair (that’s a big one for B). They learn so much when they’re heard, when they feel respected, loved and supported in their own right.
Heck, how often do we, as adults, not teach other adults about our own boundaries? How often have we let people slide, or shrink ourselves, or hide away parts of ourselves? Maybe it’s because we’ve been conditioned our entire lives to be less-than, that our words don’t matter, and respect is considered fluid. 
Unlearn anything unloving. Love now, new.

women-rising

Women rise. If you’re not running around wildly in support of women, then certainly don’t stand in their way. Society thrives on pinning women against each other. It thrives on men dominating women. It thrives on tearing her down from the moment society checked an “x” on a “gender” box.
The conditioning that women are primed for objectivity on stages for others is the type of system designed to degrade, rape, torture, mind fuck and even kill over half the population. There’s so much heaviness and hatred surrounding the topic of women (I’m aware all of us, this is strictly for the women).
With all this weight, we rise. And continue to do so. It would be hell of a lot easier if women rapidly increased their support of another. It’s happening, yes. I’m talking all-out-massive-action of loving and lifting other WOmen. Stop competing, stop gossiping, stop tearing, stop beating, stop damaging other women. Such small acts can lead to big change and a wild-ferocious-way-of-life with women in charge. 
And realize this – the success of another woman and her thriving in a society that wants to pigeon-hole and suck her dry is the same woman inside of you. Her success is yours and yours hers, in all of our differences and ways nurturing. 
Women-rise-up.
Let’s set each other on fire and dance in our flames.

stephynow