Why Women Need Other Women

I remember when I was in high school saying, “Girls are awful. I don’t need girlfriends anyways. Guys are so much better.”

I was tired of the emotional warfare that girls, especially adolescent girls, are so good at. This statement stemmed from a place of hurt, a place of not knowing how to work through the drama surrounding my female friendships, of being attracted to the apparent ease of intimacy with men.

In many ways, men are far easier to have friendships with. They don’t typically have a lot of expectations for emotional commitment, they {usually} just say what they mean, they are great at easy compliments, the kind that are awesome when you need a quick-fix confidence booster.

But men have no idea what it’s like to be a woman. They don’t battle the massive attack on body image, the constant criticisms of every role we fill {wife, mother, employee, etc.}, the oversexualization of our persons and paradoxical expectations of purity, the deep desire to be at once nurtured & protected, as well as nurturing & independent.

When my friend Melissa published a feature about the kids and I on her blog, I was completely caught off guard by the sweet things she said. My initial reaction was disbelief: Superwoman? Me? Yeah right.

But as I read & reread her post, something changed in my heart. I couldn’t help smiling, a swelling sense of being seen coming over me. Melissa is one of the most joyful souls I’ve ever met, you can tell she has so much love in her heart, and it’s infectious. I knew, even if I wanted to deny it, that she really saw in me the things she wrote about. In this little article I suddenly saw myself differently.

I realized, we need other women to tell us we are strong.

We need other women to tell us we are capable.

We need other women to tell us we are beautiful.

We need other women to tell us we are worthy.

We need other women to cheer us on.

We need other women to acknowledge the struggles of motherhood.

We need other women to pray for us.

We need other women to laugh with, to cry with.

We need other women to remind us who we are.

We need other women because we will always be looking at other women to see where we measure up, we need those authentic friends to come along side us and say “I see you. I see your beauty. I believe your truth. You are right where you need to be, let me walk with you. Let’s have a cup of coffee and focus on who we are today, not who we should be or could be.”

We need other women because there is a unique & special ability we have to understand the common hurts we all experience and the incredible gift of being able to empower each other with the things we admire in each other.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed by the love I’ve received, the vulnerability I’ve been able to share, & the empowering affirmations I’ve been given. As someone who spent years with absolutely no sense of self-worth, the healing that has started even in the midst of heartbreak has been God sent. The effort it takes to find women of authenticity is worth it. I’m thankful for each and every one of you who has come into my life & made it a better place.

xoxo, B

New Years Resolutions + A Must Try Apple Pie

2016 was a year full of growing pains. I can’t say I hated it — it brought our sweet, sweet boy, a fun trip to Disneyland, and many wonderful memories with our growing girl. I started school again and became a full time SAHM, both of which came with their own challenges but are undoubtedly blessings overall.

New Years 2017 - My Alabaster Heart
3 years of Santa photos

I’ve noticed many people throwing shade at New Years Resolutions, among the typical jokes regarding the length these Resolutions last, and I get it. It’s easy to acknowledge the areas in our lives that need change, make well-intentioned plans to change them, use the New Year as our starting line, only to get bogged down in the reality of life and executing any change. I’ve had my share of failed Resolutions and false starts, but it doesn’t change the fact that every January 1st, I write out my list of goals and give them my best shot. For me, it’s simply a ritual that reminds me to be intentional and hopeful about my life, a way to renew my focus and challenge myself to do better.

This year, my goals are:

– to write daily,

– to blog weekly,

– to grow my boutique,

– to maintain a 4.0,

– to be accepted into a graduate program,

– to read one new book a month,

– to keep stuff to a minimum,

– to spend more time with Jesus,

– to prioritize my health and my family’s health,

– and finally, to practice patience, accepting the unpredictable flow of motherhood and life beyond my control.

2016 Highlights - My Alabaster Heart
2016 highlights

I spent much energy in 2016 on people who did not deserve it, on issues that were not mine to tackle, on emotions that did not bring any joy. If nothing else, I believe that 2017 will be a year in which I choose carefully where to allow my energy to go.

~

With this in mind, as we closed up the holidays, I made a point to spend less time on social media and more time in the kitchen. Of my many hobbies, cooking and baking have always been among the most therapeutic, but between fibromyalgia and hyperemesis, my time in the kitchen has been much diminished over the last two years. However, my feisty little toddler has developed quite the obsession with apple pie lately, so I made a point to get the ingredients for our favorite pie, which we baked and had for breakfast the following morning. I’ve had a lot of apple pies over the years, and I promise you, nothing compares to this recipe which I got earlier this year from a dear friend. Besides, is there really any other way to transition out of the holidays than by baking a pie? No. I don’t think so.

If you decide to give it a try, a few things to know:

– The crust has quite the temperament. Make sure your coconut oil is solid, refrigerate it before making if necessary. Be sure to use ice cold water to make sure that it will bind properly. Roll out quickly to keep from becoming too brittle, but still be prepared to patch it together as you go. It will still be perfectly flaky. I found that the lattice top worked much better than trying to roll out a second layer.

– You will need to test the apples before removing the pie from the oven. I had to play around with temperatures and cooking times to find the right one for my oven. If not baked long enough, the alcohol will not burn off properly and will leave a bitter filling.

And of course, like every slice of pie, its best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some strong, hot coffee, and a good book!

Fireball Apple Pie - My Alabaster Heart

Happy New Year, friends! I hope your Resolutions {if you have any} are resolved, and that the year brings you joy and love.

Cheers to 2017!

xoxo, B

5 Chronic Pain Symptoms I Wish People Could See

It’s been a long year and a half fighting for a diagnosis. I don’t talk or write a whole ton about my struggles with chronic pain for a few different reasons, but recently I’ve found that talking about what I’m experiencing offers a bit of relief and helps keep the nagging question of my sanity at bay.

Chronic pain can be an isolating condition. It’s hard to socialize when pain and fatigue seem to always be looking around the corner. It’s hard to support your partner and family when you’re fighting to get through the day. It’s hard to explain the debilitating symptoms of what you are dealing with without coming across as whiny.
For others, chronic pain and fatigue are hard to understand because you can’t see what it is that is wrong. For some people, like those who struggle with RA, you can sometimes see evidence in their joints. But for those like me who are facing a fibromyalgia diagnosis, the pain is in our heads — just not in the way you think.

Regardless of which form of chronic pain someone is dealing with, the pain itself remains invisible, making it hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves to even begin to comprehend the level of discomfort or agony that a person is experiencing. For this reason, I made a list of 5 of the most difficult symptoms that I have encountered, and why I wish they could be visualized.

1. Joint pain.

This isn’t just the ache of a joint that’s cold or stiff. Imagine if someone was chipping at your joint bone with a sculpting tool and that is how I feel. It’s often difficult to move just for that reason alone.

2. Fatigue.

This is the kind of exhaustion that neither coffee or sleep can touch. The kind where you physically can’t climb out of bed without an urgent reason that gives you enough adrenaline to get up. There are days where, if it weren’t for my daughter, I wouldn’t be able to move to even feed myself.

3. Extertion.

A product of both the pain and fatigue, trying to get anything done around the house is like trying to finish a marathon. Things that used to be simple, like slicing a tomato, now take immense amounts of concentration and require a slow and steady plan of attack. Everything takes me about 3-5x as long as it used to.

4. Sensitivity.

A product of my body constantly trying to monitor my pain levels, my sensitivity levels have shot through the roof. Sometimes my skin feels like it’s literally being peeled off when I’m being touched. It has caused a panic attack more than once and in all honesty this is the hardest symptom I am learning to cope with.

5. Guilt.

One of the things no one has mentioned in all the articles and documents on chronic pain that I have been reading is the weight of guilt that I feel as a wife, a mother, and a friend. Everything feels like an excuse and it’s difficult to formulate an explanation that communicates my need and desire for interaction but my parallel need for relief. When you have a broken leg, people understand why you can’t drive to see them or why you aren’t comfortable going to a busy social event. But when no one can see the issue that you’re dealing with, it’s much harder. It is far too easy for me to accept my feelings of inadequacy and it is something I am working to overcome daily.
Although this list may sound like one of complaints, in reality it is simply facts about my life. I believe in recovery and in the healing power of Jesus Christ, so I don’t focus on mourning my pre-fibro life, but rather am learning to accept my new one and speak about it in a way that promotes awareness and self-understanding. I’m thankful every day for a wonderful team of doctors that is walking through this with me and for the family and friends who have been praying through this journey with me.

If you know someone who is battling an invisible illness, just be kind and love on them. It goes a long way just to hear “I’m here for you” and to know that someone is on your side.
And to those of you who are in this fight with me, you are courageous and brave. There will be a day with no more pain.

xoxo

xoxo, B