No is for Lazy Parents

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 Christina Justiz Roush and family in Venice CA

Christina Justiz Roush and family in Venice CA

A few months ago, I was at my neighbor’s house who has a son around Oliver’s age. She also has a pool. The first time I hung out there, she assured me that the doors were always locked. So I would go over with Oliver and keep an ear out for him as they would play and explore throughout the house.

One day, I went over with Oliver and suddenly I realized it had been a while since I heard him. And then there was my friend’s son sitting on the floor in the living room, but no Oliver. I went from zero to 1000. I saw that the door leading to the pool area was open. Drowning is the number one cause of death in children under 7 (I hear my dad’s voice in my head) and I am running, screaming hysterical, because I know that Oliver loves the water and I know that he has no reasoning ability and I was expecting to see him at the bottom of the pool. I still feel panicked writing about this. I ran out and there he was, thank God, standing right at the edge of the pool. He looked at me and smiled, pointed to the water and said, “pool!”

What I decided to do from the experience was to be a scared, overly-anxious-hovering mess around the pool and water in general. When we would go to the neighbors (which is practically every day, btw),  I would lecture and warn (ad nauseum) about never going in the water without Mommy or Daddy; about always needing to have his floaty on; and if he got too close to the water I would warn him that we would leave if he did it again. Now this was with us all standing there and my eyes glued to him. The fear that that experience instilled in me made me become the parent that I have the most grievances with. I was the worst. Irrational and scared and hovering and annoying. Just terrible.

Another story: I am a huge fan of Dayna Martin: a rebel hippy, very brilliant advocate of unschooling and I was listening to this interview with her.  She shared an anecdote. When her son was around 4 he became fascinated with fire. Her instinct was to say no and build a wall around it. Much like mine was around the water. But she knew better. She fought her instinctual response, and would sit with him and light matches and explain it to him. She was hands and eyes on, and encouraged his safe exploration of this curiosity. She said that no is for lazy parents and it actually creates more dangerous situations with your children. Your child will explore their natural curiosities but they without your guidance and protection. Eventually, her son’s interest lead him to learn fire throwing and now is a blacksmith. What would have happened if she didn’t encourage his inclinations?

So I completely remodeled my approach. My son is a water baby. He loves the water. I can’t let my own baggage interfere. Thankfully my husband is a total water baby himself and has always created a positive relationship with the water and Oliver, hopefully mitigating some of the well-meaning neurotic tendencies he witnessed in me over the past few months. But I really get that the way to keep your children safe is by leaning into what they are curious about, not saying no.

The other day Oliver got a hold of a pair of large scissors at his grandparents’ house. There was lots of activity and children running around and my knee jerk reaction was to grab the scissors out of his hand and say “Nope, these are not for you.”  Instead I said, actually let’s explore this. I sat down with him and we looked at the scissors, noting the shininess, the size, the way the light reflected. We cut paper together and made shapes. We were exploring for almost a full half hour (this is a lot with a 2 year old) It was awesome.

Lesson learned!

You Can Have It All, But Not All At Once

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During Oprah’s interview with Michelle Obama at the Next Generation of Women Summit, she said something that struck a cord instantly. She was talking about being a Mother and having large ambitions. She said:

Women need to know that you can have it all…Just not all at once.

Wow.

I am sure that it has been said before. It might have even been said directly to me. But for whatever reason, as I was walking Oliver around our neighborhood for his afternoon nap, listening to the interview, headphones in, something clicked.

The truth is, I have been growing a lot lately. Learning about being vulnerable. Asking for support and tuning in to what is working and what isn’t. 

I have a lot of big dreams and visions for what I want to create in my life. Sometimes the sense of responsibility I feel for them is so huge that I don’t stop and think about how it feels to be pursuing them. I don’t trust in the perfect timing. I don’t have the patience to let things unfold. I struggle to want it all RIGHT NOW. And since it’s not all, just some, I feel like I am failing at everything.

But Michelle, man. It feels like a new level of clarity is emerging and I am pretty excited about it.

Business Inspiration Podcast Love

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 Me listening to  Amy Porterfield  while finishing up a  Brooklyn Baby Bump

Me listening to Amy Porterfield while finishing up a Brooklyn Baby Bump

I am in the mist of a professional growth spurt. I say this because all I have been doing is pouring over Amy Porterfields amazing podcasts. And my goodness there are so many! I really wish I was better at taking notes.

Special shout out to  this one and this one.

The worst part about this learning is that I want to share every single aha moment with Chelsey. Honestly, wish her luck.

The best part is that I feel reconnected to the “why’s” of my ambitions. Sometimes to my disadvantage, everything has to be done for the right reasons with the right intention, with the loftier purpose always in mind.  If it isn’t I kind of sulk about like a sad cat. But I’m realizing, in part thanks to these podcasts and in part thanks to all the retrogrades, that this is actually a gift, and there are ways for me to stay alined with my motivating ideals more constantly.

So all and all this is a very excellent, well timed, podcast gift.

CHECK AMY OUT! & Happy Tuesday 🙂 

Christina

 

Cool Like Prince

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“Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is ‘Is there anybody I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?’ If not, then you’re cool.”   -Prince

I read somewhere that when you die everything that you are, the entirety of your being becomes accessible to everyone. All of humanity. Like you become stardust that gets sprinkled on to everything. I am feeling like this is true. Like the magic of people that I love that have passed are so close. So present.

And this quote. Fuck yes to this quote. It might have just changed my life forever. I am going to be cool like Prince.

forgiving myself & my past

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 PHOTO:  WALTER CHAPPELL

PHOTO:  WALTER CHAPPELL

I carry a great deal of shame about my past; about who I was and the things I did before I knew any better. Over the years, I have done a lot of work on myself to get to the place I am in today.. But, occasionally, when confronted with my past, whether it’s a memory or a phone call from a long lost friend, I feel incredibly threatened. I find myself wishing I could erase entire years of my life from my mind. Recently, I was forced to confront the pain and emotional baggage that I carry with me. I was shocked by how much guilt and anxiety I was still holding onto and how little I had actually forgiven myself for. As I was crying to my husband, he reminded me that these things come up from within us when we are capable of dealing with them. I am able to recognize my pain and my shame because I am capable of more compassion for myself and for others. Many years ago, I made a promise to myself to choose love over fear. So, that’s what I am doing. Instead of beating myself up for still having these feelings, for still having this baggage and this complicated past, I’m choosing to love myself. To be gentle with myself. To forgive myself for who I was, to forgive everyone else for who they were and to make space for who we all are now. This is often difficult. But when I’m struggling, I like to practice the affirmation, “only love goes out from me, only love returns to me”. I am working on remembering that the only way to be free from pain is to love yourself and everyone else through it.

On Doulaing

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 Image via  Embracing Labor

Image via Embracing Labor

It’s #worlddoulaweek and I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss these amazing women who do some of the most important work there is to do in this world.  According to DONA International, a doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth and provides continuous support to a mother before, during, and just after birth.

Almost 5 years ago, my husband and I visited friends who had just had a beautiful home birth (and since have had two more!). This was the first I had ever heard of any the Business of Being Born, Ina May  stuff that is now such a large part of my framework and resonated deeply with me. A laboring woman needs support from someone who knows and trusts a woman’s body to do the hard work of childbirth. They need someone to be able to look deep into their eyes, hold their hand and say “you are not in danger, you are safe, you will get through this”. And, if you are having a hospital birth, and hope to have no interventions, the sad, scary truth of the matter is you will need someone who will fight the system hard to make that a reality. There is a lot of push back in hospitals to give birth in a medicalized way that is on their time frame. When you are in the depths of labor you may not be able to advocate for yourself and 9 times out of 10 your partner will not have the presence of mind to do so either. 

When I started to approach active labor, my bouncy ball and incredible husband were just not making the cut. All I wanted was my Doula and when she arrived I felt like I could finally relax. I felt that all was well and that I wasn’t alone. From the moment she arrived onwards, she didn’t leave my side. She held space for me to labor the way I needed to, checked the heart beat of my baby, gave me Gatorade out of a straw and reassured me, again and again, “you are doing it”.

The experience you have when give birth is a big deal! It is hard work, it is scary and it is important. Don’t passively allow it to happen to you. Doulas have empirically shown to reduce the rate of cesareans by 50%, epidural requests by 60%, and the length of labor by 25%. Doulas rule and if you are pregnant, go get one! 

Happy world Doula week! 

And a special thank you to my Doula Cori from Dos Doulas!

Waters Of March

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  Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe

“A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road
It’s the rest of a stump, it’s a little alone
It’s a sliver of glass, it is life, it’s the sun
It is night, it is death, it’s a trap, it’s a gun

The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush
The knot in the wood, the song of a thrush
The will of the wind, a cliff, a fall
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all

It’s the wind blowing free, it’s the end of the slope
It’s a beam, it’s a void, it’s a hunch, it’s a hope
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the end of the strain, it’s the joy in your heart

The foot, the ground, the flesh and the bone
The beat of the road, a slingshot’s stone
A fish, a flash, a silvery glow
A fight, a bet, the range of a bow

The bed of the well, the end of the line
The dismay in the face, it’s a loss, it’s a find
A spear, a spike, a point, a nail
A drip, a drop, the end of the tale

A truckload of bricks in the soft morning light
The sound of a shot in the dead of the night
A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump,
It’s a girl, it’s a rhyme, it’s a cold, it’s the mumps

The plan of the house, the body in bed
And the car that got stuck, it’s the mud, it’s the mud
A float, a drift, a flight, a wing
A hawk, a quail, the promise of spring

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life, it’s the joy in your heart

A snake, a stick, it is John, it is Joe
It’s a thorn on your hand and a cut in your toe
A point, a grain, a bee, a bite
A blink, a buzzard, a sudden stroke of night

A pass in the mountains, a horse and a mule
In the distance the shelves rode three shadows of blue

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life in your heart, in your heart

A stick, a stone, the end of the road
The rest of a stump, a lonesome road
A sliver of glass, a life, the sun
A knife, a death, the end of the run

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the end of all strain, it’s the joy in your heart”

My favorite version in english & spanish….Ah it’s just the best.

Happy New Year of the Sheep!

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We just came out of the year of the Horse. Thinking back on this past year, it has been a whirlwind of amazing forward momentum. Something, according to legend, Horse years always bring with them! Reflecting on this past year myself, I feel I have accomplished a lot. We launched Girl Gift Gather, bringing with it the joy /responsibility of daily posts, weekly newsletters, Girl Gift Gatherings,  the book club, and filming and editing the first 8 episodes of our series.

I had a baby! And have continued to work at my other company Brooklyn Baby Bumps where I make custom artistic pregnancy casts for women all over the city. Not to mention, trying to be a good mother, daughter, friend, partner and wife during this incredible transition in my life. As I sit in a small coffee shop around the block from our small apartment in Bedstuy, while my dear friend and her boyfriend watch over my son so I can write this very post, I take a deep breath, drink some chamomile tea and realize that in all the hustle and bustle and obligations and doing of things, I have lost touch with the joy and inspiration that I wish to ground and inform all of my actions. 

The New Year has come at the perfect moment for me. The year of the Sheep is Yin. It is not about doing, it is about being. It’s not about achieving, it’s about enjoying a meaningful life. A life filled with depth, friendship and love. I’s art for art’s sake. It’s poetry. It’s nature. It’s moments of solitude where you greet yourself as an old friend, and say… ‘oh hello, I have missed you’. 

I read a book few years ago called Circle of Stones. In the book, there is a passage  that made me think of the Chinese year of the Sheep and the energy it represents:

“For me the balance between doing and just being is the most important and dangerous question.  IF I am guilted or lured into achieving too much and lose the stillness in my centre, then it takes me a long time to regain it and I do violence to myself or those I love because of fatigue and pressure.

I have had to give up “winning big” because I love my life when I am connected to it.  I hate it when it and I get caught up in competition and deadlines. Then I have an overriding sense of impatience, my foot taps…….. I gulp down my food whole……… I spill coffee when I am pouring and burn myself on the stove…… I rip, and wrench and tear.  There is a violence that takes over every act and shrieks orders at me.

I am finding it takes a lot of time to be a woman, to have an inner feeling of space and breath, a chance to sink into myself……  as long as I take time to light a candle to my life, it remains my life.  But if I hurry into work without that small moment of quiet then I have already lost myself for the rest of the day.  The task for me is to care, daily, for myself and  my life….. to love and to nurture, within myself, moment by moment, the quality of quiet presence, quietly being present in my life, which sanctifies it,  to live as if the candle is alight”

Here’s to a beautiful, creative, loving, inspired, grounding Sheep Year!

xx

Christina

I am safe

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As some of you may know, every month, for the past two years now, I have hosted New Moon Ceremonies at the studio. We drink wine, eat chocolate, meditate on the symbolism of the month’s sign and then, we set intentions. This past New Moon, Dora Marin’s intention brought the whole circle to tears. It was so beautiful that I asked her if I could share it here, luckily for all of us, she said yes! 


  PHOTO:    LI HUI

PHOTO:  LI HUI

“New Moon in Aquarius Intention:

When I feel I’m lacking where do I go? 
Who do I turn to and what do I ask for?
Asking myself for those small things.
Always remembering myself and those things that bring me blissful joy.

Where is it that I’m being generous and not?
Where is it that I can be more generous.
What is it that I can give to myself instead of asking of others?
Where does expectation of others stop and fulfillment of myself begin?

Taking the time to enjoy my journey every step of the way and remembering that growth comes from being in the moments that are most challenging; 
from painful detachment to the things I depend on for security, which are the things that limit me the most. 

I trust myself.


Dora Marin is an artist and the co-founder of The Pow-Wow — physical space where creatives of all backgrounds can come together, collaborate, work, perform, support each other, generate solutions, and elevate together. Opening in the summer of 2015. @thepowwow