Before Logan was born, I had some serious concerns about adding a second child into the mix. I was scared about the usual things – that Nora wouldn’t like him or would start to act out really bad, that two kids in the house was too much for Zoe, that it would be too much for Bay and I, that I’d have divided attention so neither kid would feel important… all that normal anxiety.
But more than anything, I was terrified of losing Nora. I was scared that I would lose this super special connection I have with her. That I’d have to split my heart in two, and that she wouldn’t be this singular amazing thing anymore. I was scared that I wouldn’t have time to be with her anymore, and that I’d miss more and more of her growing up. I already felt like I was failing her as a mother by letting her be raised by daycares and being tired all the time from the pregnancy – I couldn’t even imagine how much worse that would get when there was a baby around.
When Logan was born, the first thing I thought about was Nora. I thought about how much she was going to love him and wondered what she was doing at that moment. I was sad she wasn’t with me for that moment in my life (but also glad she wasn’t). I started looking so forward to the moment that she would meet her baby brother.
As I waited for Bay to bring Nora into my room, I was so nervous. Would I look at her differently? Would I love her differently? Would she feel weird? Would things be awkward?
The moment she walked into the room, my heart swelled. All I saw when I looked at her was the love of my life finally coming to meet this new thing we were going to have to deal with together. As she held her new baby brother in her arms, she looked up at me and smiled. That’s when I finally felt good about having a second child. It took me a little bit of time to really love Logan, but at that moment, once she accepted him, I finally accepted him.
Yes, things are definitely more difficult now. Nora gets less attention and I have to give a lot of my energy to this little guy. But my love for Nora has only grown as I see her turn into a big sister. She is so empathetic and loving towards him. She is proud to show him off to her friends and protective when they try to touch him. She desperately wants to share her interests with him and is so tolerant of his crying and high needs. I’ve started to see this wonderful little person emerge that is someone I’m really proud of.
We all know life will be harder and different when we add a second kid, but I was stunned by the way my love for my first changed. Her as a big sister is a beautiful thing.
Temper tantrums are definitely the worst. But usually, I can spot one on it’s way. Either her words or just the way her body starts to move… there are many signs that one is coming. While it’s difficult to stop them once they’ve started…sometimes they just have to run their course… (sometimes validating her feelings really works “yes, I know you really wanted that broom. I know. That’s really difficult for you….” sometimes it doesn’t).
I’ve discovered a lot of effective ways for redirecting and re-empowering my daughter so the tantrum doesn’t happen.
1.The Cup Check
Her and I have talked a lot about her “cup”. When she wakes up in a good mood from a good sleep we say her cup is full! Isn’t that nice! If she wakes up a bit grumpy we point out that maybe her cup isn’t as full as it could be. So we should have some extra hugs, pick out a special shirt, and do our secret handshake to refill the cup a little bit before the day starts.
As the day goes on, I check in with her and her cup. She’s starting to give meaningful answers. I’ll ask if she wants to do a craft and she says no…which surprises me. So I ask how her cup is doing and she tells me it’s a little bit empty. So I ask what we need to do to fill it up. Food, water, hugs, dancing, or alone time are usual answers.
This alone gives me a gauge on how she’s doing throughout the day. So when I pick her up from school and she says her cup is totally empty or she doesn’t even want to talk about her cup – I know that we’re in tantrum territory. So I prepare myself with some strategies for the rest of the evening:
2. Do you need to get your wiggles out?
Most of the time, with my daughter, she just has too much built up energy and hasn’t done something energetic or goofy recently. The other bonus is that this is one of the only methods where I can keep doing what I’m doing without a lot of interference from her.
3. Do you need a hug?
Don’t we all, sometimes?
4. Would you like to pick out a book to read?
Books are her way of relaxing. I know another kid that uses colouring for the same purpose. Even just a very short book can switch my daughter from meltdown-imminent to cool and collected.
5. I don’t want to be here, either. When we get home, we can choose a book and read it together.
This one is for when we’re in the store and she’s about to erupt. I think of something back at home that she’s looking forward to – new library books, her new bubble blowing gun, squishies… whatever the obsession of the week is, and get her mind focused on that instead.
6. Can you help me?
Helping empowers our littles! And I’m constantly impressed by what she can do.
7. What animal are we feeling like right now?
I can tell a lot about her mood if I find out what animal she’s embracing at that moment. A little kitty? She’s needing some mom time. A bear? She’s needing to feel in control. A doggy? She’s actually feeling pretty good. A monster? She’s mad. An alien? She’s on another planet (literally and figuratively, so all I need to do is ask if we can meet in the spaceship [the bathroom] and once we do take off we can usually have a quiet conversation).
8. What do you need, my Queen?
Asking her what she needs alone never quite does the trick. But put “Queen” on the end, putting her in charge, and voila… suddenly the Queen is using her words and expressing very clearly what’s going wrong in her world.
9. Give her a superpower.
My daughter, like a lot of kids, fucking LOVES frozen. So, we informed her that she too has freezing abilities. Now, whenever she feels like she’s losing control or getting a little upset she’ll “freeze” us (with a very cute stance and a ‘pa-chew!’ noise) until she’s ready to move on to the next task. We do have a few rules – she can’t freeze mom if the baby is crying and no one has to stay frozen if they have to pee or poop. You’re also not allowed to touch the frozen person.
10. The mom-fail check-in….
Some days, I can’t do any of this and I just tell her to be quite! Go to her room and read! Stop crying! … Which only makes things worse, but we can’t be goofy and perfect all the time. On these days I do something really important….
After I get the baby to sleep and take a moment for myself I crawl into her bed and we “hang out”. We both apologize for our behaviour of the day and forgive each other fully. During this time, she often says things like “we love each other so much, don’t we?” or “You’re my girl, mommy” or other directly re-connecting statements. Sometimes she drifts off to sleep and other times we just hug and hug and hug and kiss and kiss and kiss, read a book and then I go off to bed. But, I make the time to repair that little mess we made during the day. That helps her cup fill up to have a good sleep, or so she says…
At CANSEE2019: Engaging Economies of Change I presented a keynote presentation called “What about my pineapples?” during the complexities of change keynote panel. Below are my slides and some of what I talked about. You can watch the full keynote on the David Suzuki web page, here. At the beginning you can hear my good friend Allison say she can tackle anyone else that tries to come up and get the baby from me besides her…
Little Logan David W Kish was born on March 15th. He was induced, as GDM moms aren’t typically allowed to go past 38 weeks, especially if you’re on insulin.
They almost didn’t induce me as apparently the hospital was “full” – luckily they did because the cord had a massive knot and was wrapped around his neck.
As far as labour goes, it was pretty uneventful. The epidural didn’t work at first, but once they redid it all was good and he flew out 20 minutes later – very similar to my labour with Nora.
For MONTHS leading up to his birth I had been told by ultrasound technicians, my OB, and the diabetes OB that Logan was *very* big. He was measuring in the 99th percentile. I was to watch my diet even more carefully than I already was to make sure he didn’t get even bigger.
I was so hungry. I ate the minimum amount of carbs recommended. I ate 6 very small meals a day and was losing weight. I would go to appointments and be scolded for losing weight one minute and then told to eat less to make sure Logan stopped gaining weight so quickly.
It was heartbreaking. I was trying my absolute hardest to make sure this little guy would be totally healthy and it wasn’t working. So I ate less and less and less. I would feel faint, my blood sugar levels were hovering around 3.8-4.2 (that’s low) and I was often scared to take my insulin shot at night.
Turns out, the doctors were wrong. I’m finding this to be pretty common in Montreal.
Logan weighed just over 7lbs. I was furious at the doctors who had put me through that stress for months.
When I found out I have gestational diabetes my first instinct was to eliminate most carbohydrates from my diet. When I finally saw the dietitian and doctor, two weeks later, I was scolded for that choice and told that it would produce high levels of ketones in my urine, which are ‘toxic’ for the baby.
Toxic? Really? Is that a word health care professionals use now?
I was in a state of distress and all the information coming at me was overwhelming so I didn’t question her. I went from 60 net carbs a day up to 140 net carbs and my glucose numbers went through the roof. My ketones went down from large to small and my insulin was going up-up-up everyday. It didn’t seem right to me. Maybe I hadn’t made the right choice to cut carbs as low as I had, but it also didn’t seem right to be eating SO MANY CARBS that I was finding it hard to eat my bedtime snack because I was so full from all the food I had eaten that day. Why couldn’t I increase to just 90 or 100 net carbs a day?
However, in 1991 a study was published that questions the severity of these later published studies. Knopp et al. write:
In conclusion, 50% caloric restriction improves glycemic status in obese women with gestational diabetes but is associated with an increase in ketonuria, which is of uncertain significance. An intermediate 33% level of caloric restriction (to 1600-1800 kcal daily) may be more appropriate in dietary management of obese woman with gestational diabetes mellitus and more effective than prophylactic insulin. Further studies are required to confirm these findings.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1770194
It might be, especially in overweight/obese women such as myself, that a slightly restricted caloric diet that still contains carbohydrates but will most certainly lead to ketones in the urine could be appropriate. But, the impact of weight loss is uncertain and therefore also not generally not recommended.
This is why it’s confusing. After a week of obsessive research my conclusions are:
“Yes cut calories by 33% (so you will see ketones and use less insulin because you’ll be burning fat) but don’t lose weight (so don’t cut your calories) and watch for ketones (likely by eating more carbs and needing to take more insulin) but we don’t have proof as to why – except that we want to definitely avoid ketoacidosis, but maybe not nutritional ketones … but we can’t tell the difference on the pee stick. Oh, and that high positive you get on your ketones might just be from dehydration and, Dr. Jovanovic argues that ketones in urine actually mean nothing (but I would take anything posted on Diet Doctor with a grain of salt because they don’t quite seem to understand what we can learn from mice and apply to humans).”
AllinaHealth (and others I’ve read) suggest there is a problem only when both ketones and blood glucose are high. So, if I can keep my glucose low and ketones in moderation, maybe that’s the sweet spot. Hopefully, because that’s what I’ve decided to do and so far it’s working. My blood levels are nice and low and my ketones range from trade to moderate – usually depending on my hydration level.
This has once again highlighted the importance of having a health care team that you trust. I am going to take this conversation to my team next week and see what they have to say – but I’m pretty sure they’re just going to stay to up my carbs and up my insulin to lower the ketones because that’s the standard route. I don’t believe they see people as indiviudalized agents with preferences who have done research themselves. I’m certainly not saying that I know more than a medical doctor, I just hope they’ll be open to having the conversation with me. And when they tell me to increase the carbs again, I hope they’re ready to explain why.
When I had Nora, I passed the glucose test with flying colours. I didn’t think there’d be any reason to expect a different outcome this time. Sure, I’m overweight but I eat pretty well and I go to the gym 3-5 times a week.
I didn’t even make it to the glucose test.
After my first fasting blood test at around 12 weeks my fasting rate was already borderline. A doctor, other than my own, sent me for the two hour test. I just thought she didn’t know me and was being extra vigilant while my regular doctor was away on holidays.
I failed all three tests – fasting – 5.4, 1 hour – 11.8 and 2 hour – 9.6.
I had never felt like such a failure in my entire life, which is saying something given that I come up against at least two rejections a week in academia.
I felt like I had already failed my baby. That I had already failed as a mother. Now, he was going to struggle with weight and a fight against type 2 diabetes for his entire life. It didn’t matter what anyone told me, this was all my fault.
It was particularly difficult because I had just recently decided I would make the switch from academic to full-time stay-at-home mom. But how could I be a good stay-at-home when I couldn’t even do the pregnancy right?
I was told the diabetes clinic would be in touch soon and until then I should simply alter my diet. Again, I already ate pretty well so the only alteration I could think of was to cut carbs out almost entirely. No one told me to do otherwise. For the two weeks between my diagnosis and actually going to the clinic I was eating around 50-90 net carbs per day. I felt so energetic!
Turns out, that was the wrong decision. I lost 8.3lbs in those two weeks and probably made things worse. Maybe. I still don’t know what to believe. The worst thing about this whole process is that no one seems to tell you why or explains anything.
Why can’t I have ketones? I asked, and she said “because they’re toxic”… but that’s just not true.
How does power lifting impact these numbers? They didn’t really know.
Can I eat sugar alcohols safely? Maybe, test it and see.
Is the baby the right size right now? Can’t tell me, have to wait until I see my doctor in three weeks.
The health care system has been the most frustrating part of this whole process. They treat patients like they’re stupid and simply tell them to start following a plan. I was put on Metformin and insulin immediately. Turns out insulin isn’t covered by any insurance company and it keeps creeping up and up so not sure how we’re going to afford that one.
I now track my ketones 4xs a day, glucose levels 4xs a day, take insulin 1x per day, metformin 2xs a day and write everything down in my own diary and in a diary I have to e-mail to the clinic every Monday. My ketones range from 0.5 (trace) to 8 (high) throughout the entire day… I was told to have none, but I have no idea how I’m supposed to have none when I’m eating well and working out. I’m GOING to lose weight. I’m GOING to produce ketones. My glucose is often fine, except in the morning. I take insulin for it, but it seems to just be going up for some reason.
The whole process was the most dehumanizing thing I have ever gone through. No one at the clinic asked me what I do to workout, no one asked me how I was feeling emotionally, no one asked what I do for a living, and no one said it was going to be okay.
To them, I’m just an obese high risk pregnancy.
They don’t really care about anything beyond that.
So, now I just wait and see. Wait and see if this depression completely consumes me. Wait and see if I’ll end up taking hundreds of units of insulin a day. Wait and see if the baby is safe and okay. Wait and see… wait and see… wait and see. And somehow, through all of this stress and uncertainty, I’m supposed to maintain my composure, continue to be a good mother, implement a whole new food schedule, track all this shit, be chipper for the holidays, be a good partner, and continue to excel at my full-time job.
I loved being pregnant with Nora. And I hate hate hate hate that I’m not enjoying this pregnancy. I hate even more how uninformed I am. I really miss my Ontario doctor…
For months I’ve uttered the words “…he won’t win”. Yesterday, I sat and watched the results roll in, went to bed around 1 am, still confidently uttering “…he won’t win”, despite what I was watching with my own two eyes.
Then, I woke up this morning and he had won.
I went upstairs and found my husband who looked completely depressed. He had taken it much more seriously than I did for much of the election campaign. I went onto social media where devastation poured in from one side and arrogant/excited ‘I told you so’s came from the other. A few laughed, many cried, and many more were down right scared for the future.
Each reaction is just as valid as another. But there is one reaction that bothers me deeply. The people saying dismissive things. The ones just making jokes or wishing it would all just get off their feed or saying “why do you care, you’re Canadian” (or some version of this, this is the most annoying one).
With this annoyance in mind I took my daughter for a walk and explained to her (yes, she’s 7 months and doesn’t understand but she’s my #1 fan who thinks everything I say is fucking gold so I yammer away 24/7 to her) why Trump winning is so. fucking. important.
I told her that the West (Canada, US, Europe) is founded on liberal ideologies such as multiculturalism, individualism, cosmopolitanism – these are the things that give us really good stuff like science to understand the environment, women’s ability to control decisions over their own bodies, gays the right to marry and folic freely, and immigrants to have a better future or refugees to escape pain and suffering.
Donald trump undermines all of this… and it impacts Canada because we are their neighbour, because we trade over $400 billion a year with them and, most importantly, because we have a moral obligation to give a shit about other people…this is a basic ‘be a good person’ lesson to a child. One of the most powerful and important countries in the world is going backwards. That should matter to anyone who gives a shit about the future of society. The very least we can do, as good people, is show solidarity for (or at least give a shit about…) the millions about to lose their rights in various ways.
Through tears I told her that today we cry for the young girls who will not have access to safe abortion clinics. We cry for the children, like my daughter, who will be bullied because they are not white. We cry for the indigenous peoples fighting for Standing Rock because their chances of success have just plummeted. We cry for the families who have a mother, father, or grandmother with a health crisis (breast cancer, diabetes, or in need of a liver transfer…like my family has been in the past) who will be unable to afford to save the lives of their loved ones. We cry for the LGBTQ community that has fought so fucking hard the past few years – just to see a lot of their hard work demolished. We cry for little boys and girls excited about space exploration, if we thought funding was piss poor before? Wait until Trump’s got a-hold of it.
My daughter is (1) a girl; (2) loves to be outside (and relies on the environment for life and well-being) and; (3) is half born from an immigrant parent. To see a country that we so closely align with in language, culture, and traditions vote in a way that is harmful to all three of those core aspects of my child is very frightening.
What we as Canadians should be doing now is thinking about what this means for us in the future. It could happen here. Sure, it might not be as radical as Trump, but just as devastating to the culture of our country. We are SO lucky to live in a country like Canada — we can learn from what’s happening around the world and react so as to be a pillar of hope for the future.
As hard as it may have been for Trudeau to make the statement he did, he’s on the right track. We (liberals, I guess) need to recognize that multiculturalism and an inclusive space/country includes everyone – including the white, nuclear family folks. They’re the ones that voted for Trump (and Harper…) because they feel threatened (in various ways) by multiculturalism, progressive economics, and changing societies. We need to show as many of these folks as possible that we can go forward together without all the vile hatred… that there is room in this world for difference, caring for others, and social justice. There is a large group of people that has been neglected and hurt by the past 20 years of change and progress. Small towns across Ontario have been amalgamated losing a lot of their identity and right to make decisions about what happens to their buildings, infrastructure, taxes, and people. The people living in these towns may not have the education that people in Toronto do, but they are smart, capable, and loving people — they include a lot of my family and friends-since-birth. It would do us a lot of good to find out what they want to see in the future of Canada so we don’t fall down a path similar to the one America just has.
Throughout my (long) university career I have had a number of important mentors. Beginning even in high school with Clinton Smith, into u/g with Jonathan Newman, masters with Martin Bunch and now my PhD with Steve Quilley (and a big high-five to Dan and other Steve). In each of their own ways, these men have helped me to expand my thinking and challenge previously held beliefs to make me a better scholar, and in some instances a better person. If their teaching methods had been hampered by rules and/or legislation, I wouldn’t have questioned some of the most important ideas that I held in my mind as ultimate truths. This is why I feel very strongly about the drama going on with Jordan Peterson.
I believe that the ultra-liberal voices of the trans community are doing a larger disservice to society by challenging freedom of speech and the integrity of the university. University professors, pre-tenure teachers, PhD students, and others should not have to walk on egg shells for any particular group. Even by speaking out publicly in this way, my husband is worried that I am putting a target on my back – that isn’t right. Academia is about asking questions, disagreeing, digging, and learning. Dr. Peterson didn’t do anything wrong — he didn’t say anything that could be considered hate speech or that should incite violence – he simply voiced an argument and participated in our democratic process of debating legislation.
For these reasons, I wrote the below e-mail to relevant parties in response to this issue:
Dear President Gertler, Vice-President Regehr, Ms. Hannah-Moffat, and executive members of CUPE 3902,
I’m writing to you in regards to the formal letters presented against Dr. Jordan Peterson by the UTMSU, LGBTOUT, and CUPE 3902. While I am not a student at the University of Toronto, I am a PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo and have attended workshops with Dr. Peterson in the past. Also, I believe this is a disagreement that should concern all those interested in protecting freedom of inquiry in the university. The movement against Dr. Peterson is quite dangerous. While I may not agree with what Dr. Peterson has to say, I am appalled at the attempts to try and silence him.
In a very important way, I agree with Jordan Peterson’s accusers – the university should be a place that is inclusive and safe for all voices, and that includes the voice of Dr. Peterson. The university is not a sacred space where liberal sentiments must be upheld at all times, it is a place that is supposed to expand our minds and challenge our core beliefs so that we may enter the world as critical thinkers with innovative solutions to problems. The university is meant to train us to think differently than others, and by limiting freedom of speech and the ability to ask difficult questions, we are undermining the most wonderful things about the privilege of participating in higher education.
The official response of the University of Toronto will set a precedent for how other universities may respond to similar cases in the future. Thus, I am not writing to you in support of Jordan Peterson, but rather in support of freedom of speech, critical thinking, and the right for my mentors to continue teaching in ways that challenge preciously held beliefs.
I urge those in positions of relevance to show solidarity for those who feel weak while upholding the integrity of the university by standing behind Dr. Peterson’s right to voice an opinion and argument.
I had fully intended to co-sleep well into Nora’s childhood years. We even bought a king-sized bed so that my husband wouldn’t get booted from his own bed. I was ready to go to bed at 7 or 8 pm every single night for the foreseeable future to co-sleep with my babes. I love the idea of cuddling every single night and waking up to their little faces in the morning. Nothing gets me out of bed happier than my smiling baby daughter who is ready to face the day together.
However, it turns out I have a super independent baby. Since the first day she came home Nora has basically slept on her own. She had a bassinet beside me in my room until she was almost 3 months old and then she moved into her crib in the bedroom (mainly because she started to move around more when sleeping and the bassinet was on a hinge so she would end up rolling over, smashing her face into the rails and waking up screaming – it was unpleasant for everyone). She transitioned to the crib with complete and total ease. On nights when I’ve put her into bed with me, I mostly seem to just annoy her once she falls into a deeper sleep. During the day, she sometimes naps while cuddled into me but she’s perfectly happy to nap in her chair or on the sofa – all alone.
Suffice to say – my sleep training plan vanished. I thought about fighting it – putting her to bed with us anyway – but after my first golden rule of parenting (don’t judge reasonable parents’ decisions), my second one is ‘do what’s right for your family and the baby’ or ‘take the path of least resistance, especially when it doesn’t really matter’. Nora’s personality is definitely starting to emerge – she needs a great deal of alone time, is pretty shy with people, is extremely regimented/scheduled, and thrives when we let these personality traits shine. Nora’s happiest days start with her incredible internal alarm going off promptly at 6 am, has at least 2 hours of playtime alone, a great deal of books throughout the day, observing people from a distance (and a chosen few up close), at least one stroller ride so she can see the world, and being able to shut down 100% at exactly 8 pm. We NEVER tried to schedule this baby, she 100% scheduled herself, we just responded to her needs and the schedule emerged. The same thing happened with sleeping – we responded to her needs, and she sleeps alone in her crib in a nice dark room waking up at exactly 12:00 am, 3:0o am, and 6:00 am.
My plan for motherhood was to exclusively breastfeed for 2 years, co-sleep, have a loosey-goosey schedule, be loud and goofy with my baby, not worry about a messy house, and not push the whole book-worm thing. But… I wound up with a daughter who ended up in the hospital whenever she went breast milk exclusive, schedules herself very strictly, cries if you do something too loud, stares you down with skeptical eyebrows when you do something goofy, is already on the move so I need to keep the floors clear for her, and really really really loves books (like laughs and claps with every single book). More than anything, she is teaching me to be flexible and that parents do what they need to do… that any predetermined notions of what a ‘good’ parent is, are completely stupid ridiculous because the personality and needs of your child are going to reorient the way you interact with them and the decisions you end up making.
This is why I get so angry to see articles that either shame co-sleepers (calling it lazy or unsafe) or hype up co-sleeping as better (citing it as natural or safer). You can find studies to support both sides. There are studies that strongly advocate co-sleeping as a natural process interrupted by modernity (I agree!) and you can find other well researched studies that say co-sleeping greatly increases the risk of SIDS (I agree!) – but rarely do you find an article that talks about the complexity of doing what is right for one’s family, even when you have all the information (nor do you find the articles about how much increased anxiety and social distortion there is in relation to mothering because of unfettered access to all of this information).
I find that mothers who are posting and commenting on these kinds of articles are simply looking to justify a decision/opinion that they’re either way too strict about or overly guilty about. The mommy wars have become passive aggressive and implicit in everything that mother’s post online. It’s deeply disturbing because people are so intense about proving that they are doing the absolute best thing for their child and passing judgement on others. I wish that every mother who thinks she knows what is best for every child out there would realize that she only knows best for her own child. More than that, I wish that every mother who is questioning her decisions because of other mothers/people/friends/media knows that she is the best judge for what her child needs. The absolute best thing I can do for Nora is to step away from Mr. Google (Dr. Google? I’m not sure if Google should be granted a doctorate, he knows everything but he doesn’t really synthesize or produce unique research. So I guess Mr. Google) and follow her cues. She’s doing a really great job at telling me if she needs to be fed, wants to try something I’m eating, likes her stroller, hates a particular toy, is too young to really grasp a concept of something… she’s doing that all on her own.
It’s funny how the birth of a life has you thinking more about death. I’m not sure if this is universal or if it just relates to my loss of a parent at such a young age. While I don’t necessary ‘fear’ leaving my child, I am saddened by the thought of missing out on anything. On those nights when I can’t sleep, when I used to think back to all the regrets I have from high school, I now think of all the details of mine and my sibling’s life that I’d like to share with my dad. All the things that would make him proud and excited… from babies to condos and from musicals to hacking. Then I start to think about what I might miss of my little Nora’s life if I were to leave too soon. I can’t control that, but I can control passing on a note to my daughter (and any other future kiddies that may or may not grace us with their loving and wonderful presence) of all the bits of advice and thoughts I have for her (them). Here goes:
1. Listen to music. Listen to loud music and listen to music loudly. I’ve made you a Spotify list called “NK must know”… it has everything from 1950’s jazz to 1970’s classic rock and modern indie rock to outdated metal music. Listen to all of it and love every different type of music for what it is. You’ll enjoy some more than others, but really appreciate the work and art that was put into each song. I spent hour making that playlist and intend to put more hours into it in the future – it is your guide for musical joy. Music really is joy.
2. Don’t make fun of people. Instead, be the person that shines with kindness and love. In a world that can go cold and black so quickly, be a warm and steady light that others will consistently gravitate towards to feel better and see the world more clearly. Don’t worry about being cool, when you’re 30 – no one is cool anymore. Just worry about being kind.
3. Always tell stories and allow yourself to got lost in fantasy, fairies, and magic. There is no reason why flowers can’t be homes for tiny little fairies that watch over us day-to-day. Or many Fillory exists. Just believe.
4. Learn how to fix a car and change your own oil. Appreciate old cars and always remember that a 1967 Chevy Impala is the absolute best (for at least 2 reasons… *wink wink*).
5. Run fast, lift heavy, stretch daily, and sit up straight. Take care of your body and love every inch of it. Love your legs for carrying you every day. Love your hands for helping you interact with the world. Love your fat bits for keeping you warm and cuddly. Love your muscles for making you strong. Love your scars for the stories, your face for lighting up rooms, your hair for twirling, and your mind for dreaming. Eat a lot of veggies – don’t eat a lot of processed crap. GMO’s aren’t bad for you.
6. Be friends with people you absolutely love – if you walk away feel drained, stressed out, and sad, find someone else. If you find yourself struggling to find the ‘right’ outfit to wear in front of them because you’re worried you’ll be judged – you’ve picked the wrong ones. Pick the ones that make you feel like a fucking goddess when you’ve shown up in your dingy dirty shorts, a ripped shirt, and decade old cons stained with grass and dirt from living an actual life. Pick the ones that will sit in a basement with you for three days straight eating chicken wings, now showering, and playing video games. Pick the ones that feel comfortable and like you can be your real genuine self with them – even after not seeing them for years.
7. Be messy and dirty. You can always wash up. Dig in the dirt and grow your own vegetables even if you’re shit at it (I totally am).
8. Question authority and norms that don’t feel right to you. Be brave and stand up for yourself and the people who are marginalized and abused. So many people in this world have been given the shit end of the stick and they’ll need a strong, kind, and intelligent person to help them out – be that person.
9. If you don’t understand something, don’t pretend that you do. Ask questions to better understand. In general, ask questions. When you meet someone new, ask them questions. Ask more questions than you answer. Ask genuine questions – don’t ask “how’s it going” in passing – instead stop and ask “how is your day going?” and then listen. Listen intently and laugh honestly.
10. Be proud of your voice and what you have to say – the more I let go of the filter between my brain and mouth, the more I walked away from situations feeling good about my reactions (and often – it made me memorable and made other people laugh).
11. When someone tells you cursive writing is a useless skill – know that it helps to fine tune motor skills and increases creativity. Never give in to new norms because of efficiency… old processes and activities have value even if a computer makes them obsolete. Be outside in nature, keep your eyes away from the screen more than it’s on it, use a pen and paper, make things yourself, and play board games with friends.
12. Always read for fun. But sometimes, look for deeper meaning. The most simple books may hold insanely valuable lessons like “Oh the thinks you can think” and “because a little bug went kachoo” and “stu the cockatoo went to the zoo” (ask your father, he’ll explain). Books are the backbone of the world and of the mind. Appreciate that you can read and that you’ve been surrounded by books for your entire life. You will never run out of books to read – which means you’ll never run out of new worlds and minds to explore!
13. Host often and treat your guests like rockstars. Always go the extra mile when someone comes in your front door.
14. And finally – always remember that I love you more than all the stars.