Whatever your size or shape, You are beautiful.

 

Dear Readers,Joyphoto

Today’s post is dedicated to you and your beautiful body. Read that again.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! You are sexy! You are perfect just as you are!!

I am so excited to be in this show about positive body image and a show that promotes the message, “You are perfect, just as you are”.. The fight to tell you otherwise is subtle and unrelenting, and it is already starting for my daughter, She isn’t hearing it but I am. “She is so chunky” or “Gosh, how big is she?” — and “That’s a big girl”  things commenting on her size. I realize I am probably being oversensitive in this area, but I have to say it’s hard to hear it, I know people mean well,  sometimes they say it because they think it’s a compliment or they THINK it’s just conversation.

They can’t possibly know how completely debilitating it was to me to hear things that were similar as I was growing up,”you have such a pretty face” or “you would be beautiful if you just lost a few pounds” “Your only hope is to marry rich” and all the times I heard it and things like it I steadfastly believed it..and it’s only very very recently that I have come to terms with my weight and my body and have learned to love myself just as I am.

I think the first time I felt overweight was in gym class, I literally couldn’t climb the rope. I remember holding on to it and trying as hard as I could to get myself up there but I lacked the arm strength and had a lot of weight to try to hoist. The only thing I had to show for my efforts were rope burns and chafed thighs.  I would be the last pick for dodge ball and I tried out for the dance team and didn’t make it. I certainly can’t prove that I wasn’t picked because I was overweight but it certainly didn’t help matters.

My parents didn’t really help me with this, they would tell me not to eat sweets and try to limit the desserts in the house but there was a lot of them and there were birthdays and special occasions and so then I would eat sweets, every chance I got I would eat them. Let’s not forget the ones I ate away from the house as well.

As an adult, I tried a lot of different diets. The cabbage soup diet, the Atkins diet, the paleo diet. The only time I have ever significantly lost weight was on paleo and that was when I was also exercising 3 times a week, and eating nothing but paleo. I lost over 75 pounds and had a glamorous photo shoot to celebrate. That was three years ago and remains a very happy memory as it was the beginning of where I am now on this journey to acceptance and body love.

Recently, I decided to give up dieting. I will eat mostly healthy foods and exercise but won’t be gazing at a scale for “results”. I will respond when the 4 year old in me says, “I want ice cream” because sometimes it’s really important to feed that 4 year old. It doesn’t happen every day, I would say roughly about once a month, I really crave ice cream. I had a pint in the freezer that lasted me almost three weeks, and then there are other times that I eat the whole pint in one sitting. So, it varies.

Here and now, I declare I am done with the guilt, since the guilt has never and will never cause me to lose weight or feel better, in fact it’s quite the opposite, it makes you want to eat more because you feel bad.

The goal will be to use food as fuel and if I want a cupcake or a piece of candy, to go ahead and eat that food. It’s a combination of the intuitive eating philosophy and my mentality about abundance. It also involves REALLY listening to your body. The other day, I wanted mashed potatoes, Jeremy being an awesome husband, offered to get them for me, and I said, no, I am just noticing that I want them, I am not sure why but it’s bubbling up in my head.When I waited a minute, the craving went totally away.

If you choose to diet or count calories, more power to you, but I have decided that way is not for me.

This dieting demon has haunted my menu and eating choices long enough and I am delighted to report that this show is exorcising that demon really effectively. I will be keeping an eye on how I feel about this and as always, report back to let you, my dear readers know how things are going.

Think about it….

My faith, my choice!

Dear Readers,

On this blog, I do not make it a habit to beat you about the head and shoulders with my belief in God. Mainly because I have had that done to me and I don’t enjoy it.

I have never been a “shout it from the rooftops” type of gal when it comes to my faith. Yet, I find myself compelled to write about it because I am realizing more and more of the things that make me successful in life have a lot to do with my creator and it’s time I acknowledged that publicly. It’s way too easy to think I am the reason for my success.

I was baptized last year right before I became a mother. It was important to me to do this before my child was born for a few reasons. I had heard many tales of “mommy brain” and thought I might forget, I now realize how silly that is, but the more important reasons were these.

  1. I wanted an outward symbol of my inner belief in God.
  2. I wanted to be baptized.

The first time I was baptized, I was a baby and had no choice in the matter, the second time I was baptized, I was being manipulated into doing so in an effort to please my birth parent, and I felt major pressure to do so and have always regretted caving in to that pressure.

To see more of my testimony, here’s the video-

http://tinyurl.com/JenniferHastonBaptismWBCC

Here’s the actual baptism-

This time, it was my choice and I was really excited about it, (check out my picture!) Baptism2016.PNG

After the baptism, I have been working on my relationship with God and working my way from being a “baby Christian” and talking more to God, and thanking him for the many gifts he has given me. I am also reading my bible, and realize daily I am a work in progress and God helps me with having patience, and being grateful for the blessings and talents he has given me. I hope that whatever your beliefs you have, you are not afraid to share them, it’s imperative that we all work to be as authentic as we can be in this life. It’s the only one we get.

Think about it….

Dear Parents, Can we agree to stop judging each other?

Dear Readers,

I have to be totally honest about this. Before I had my daughter, I really didn’t care about breastfeeding, but I took the class and went through the motions with the plastic baby and took copious notes in class and thought to myself, I am not going to to get worried about this because I really don’t know what is going to happen, it’s different for everyone, and right now I am just freaking out about the fact that with every childbirthing class, this whole idea of A LIFE YOU ARE BRINGING INTO THE WORLD IS REALLY NOT JUST AN IDEA BUT A PERSON WHO WILL CRY AND SLEEP AND EAT IS ACTUALLY going to be here and soon!!!!

So I told myself, it’s a natural thing, but I don’t know if she will or won’t so I am not going to worry about it, because until she is here, we don’t know how things will go.

So I reiterate, I didn’t care about breastfeeding. That is until they told me just hours after she was born that we had to supplement with formula because my milk had not fully come in yet. So less than 24 hours as a mom, and I already sucked at it. Totally irrational? yes. How I felt? yes.

So I sat in the hospital bed and tired and sleepy and miserable. I started to cry because the most “natural” thing in the world, wasn’t happening. She was losing weight so it was pretty urgent for us to supplement, I kept telling myself it was ridiculous to be so upset about something that just 24 hours ago I hadn’t cared about at all.

It is maddening and frustrating to have such mercurial mood swings but hey, that is hormones for you. So we supplemented that first night, and I used the nipple shield and kept trying. The lactation consultants I had were pushy and in a hurry and not ONE of them told me it was normal to struggle, they were very matter of fact about how we had to keep trying and even though I was exhausted and so frustrated I wanted to scream, I kept trying because I felt guilty for not being able to nurse my child.

She was fussy and hated it, and never fully latched and the nipple shields (helps to shape your breast to make it easier for the baby to eat) helped a little, but it hurt and it was not fun for either of us so I started to pump (for those that don’t know, this is a machine that simulates what your baby would do and gathers milk from you so you can feed a baby through a bottle but still give them your milk)  and made the decision, okay, she is still getting my milk and nursing is just so frustrating for us both, I am going to just pump, I mean it’s not going to hurt anything if I do that so I made the decision to stop trying to nurse.  I called my mom to talk to her about it, and she said, “Who is her Mom?” I said, “Me” and she said, “right.. so when her life is hard or there is something that is challenging are you going to let her give up?” I said, “No”.. there was a long silence on the line, and I realized what my Mom was saying was that I needed to keep trying so I did.

So we got home from the hospital and tried every position and it still wasn’t clicking. Occasionally there would be a glimmer of hope and we would have a good session (I went back and looked at the “milk logs” and I celebrated when she nursed continuously for 7 minutes or more, and then we would have one of those sessions where she was fussy and wouldn’t feed. Then a good session, then a bad one.. So it was still hard, it still hurt, and it sure didn’t feel like a “bonding experience”. We kept going, and about 20 days after she was born, my milk supply started to lessen so when I pumped, I wasn’t getting as much, of course I started to worry, which is actually a factor in milk reduction, so let me get this straight, worry about not enough milk can cause you to produce less milk? Are you kidding me?!

It’s not bad enough the milk isn’t here, now that I am worried about it, it actually makes it worse not better? Come on, give me a break!! So I reached out to my friends and fellow mothers and asked them what they did and how they coped. Several of them were kind enough to say, ‘It’s not you, it’s really freaking hard!” “I gave up after the first day, it was pissing her off, and pissing me off and it just wasn’t worth it”- ” I couldn’t nurse, and I have always felt bad about it” , “It took a while but we finally found our groove” -“Keep trying, it’s super hard and frustrating and painful and know that WHATEVER you decide is right for you and your family” so I persisted, though very frustrated and really ready to give up.

Thankfully, we have a great pediatrician who suggested we get a lactation consultant, I had not considered that because it reminded me of the ones we had in the hospital who were so off-putting and I HATED to admit that I NEEDED help. Why? Why? Why? Why do we have such high expectations for ourselves and have so much pride that we can’t say, “I don’t know what I am doing, please give me advice!” or you know, admit you need help and call a professional? – I am lucky enough to have some very kind friends (You know who you are) who put up with my constant texts and phone calls in those early days- So what made me finally give up and admit I needed help? My daughter.

October 30, 2016 11:47 p.m. She is inconsolable, wailing and will not stop crying, no matter what I do, she will not stop crying, I fed her (botched attempts at nursing (AGAIN) and changed her and walked her up and down the floor, I have rocked her and I have done everything under the sun to try to calm her down and she just will not settle. I put her down in the crib and walked away because I could not take it any more. Funny thing, when I put her down and walked away, she fell asleep…I passed out on the air mattress we had in her room from sheer relief. When I woke up the next day (well-rested and clear-headed for the first time in many days), I was going to call a lactation consultant, i didn’t care what it cost but I was going to get some help and if they couldn’t help, I was going to give up on breastfeeding once and for all because it was so heartbreaking for me to fail repeatedly at something so basic.

To Jeremy’s credit, when I mentioned it, he was extremely supportive and said, let’s make sure I am here so I can get some tips on how to help you because it was clear to him how much this meant to me. So I had to wait a few days for the consultant to come see me, but when she did, My God, so much relief! She weighed Vivienne before I attempted to feed her, and then weighed her after so we could gauge how much she was getting in each feeding, She took pictures of the proper positioning, she showed me exactly what to do and why what I had been doing was not working. All the while restoring my sanity by saying things like, “It’s normal to struggle.” – “It’s not innately a skill” – She sat with me for 4 hours and with every passing minute I was reassured that this could work and I could do this basic thing of feeding my child. I am not going to say that it got better overnight because it did NOT, It took a solid three weeks of trying all the different positions and instructions and then finally, finally GOD, FINALLY, we got a great latch and then another and then another, and then it was like we had always been doing this nursing thing.

Time is also an amazing thing, today marks 4 months of consistent nursing and a mix of formula for our child and she is thriving, healthy and happy. vivmombreastfeeding

I rarely post personal things, and to me, this is intimate and personal, but if my experience can help even ONE new mom feel better, it’s worth me being vulnerable about my experience.

I was inspired by something I saw online depicting how breastfeeding is hard and that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, despite what movies and television try to tell you. It goes into some detail about how many mothers can’t nurse and how many supplement with formula and how much judgment they get from society, other mothers, not to mention the judgment we put on ourselves. So please, let’s all agree to stop judging each other and let’s go one further, let’s encourage each other to not judge ourselves.

If you breastfeed exclusively, that’s awesome. If you feed your baby with formula, equally great, I am not here to judge, or say one way is better than another. Only YOU can decide what works for you and YOUR child. I am here to support your right to parent in whatever way YOU see fit.I made my choice and I am happy with it.

What you do for your family and your body is YOUR choice.

Think about it…

Ask for what you want, it does work!

Dear Readers,

As a Mom, I am learning that patience is a big part of this role. It also means asking for what you want. The other night, I got home and my husband let me know that he needed some “me time”.

My response was unbridled excitement! See the picture below? (unbridled excitement) sexyselfie

Okay, not so much my first reaction.

I will admit that my initial reaction was annoyance, but I waited to share my response which was excitement. You know why? Annoyance because I was looking forward to “family time” but after I thought about it, I got really excited about him asking for “me time” for himself. Do you know why? This next part is going to make him sound like a saint and he hates when I talk about him like this.. but I am going to do it anyway.

My husband RARELY complains. I mean it, he just doesn’t.

Even in the early days of our courtship, he worked two jobs and always made time for us to be together, despite us having polar opposite schedules.. (Literally, I would head out for the day and he was heading in to the house) – It was a tough time and I did a lot of complaining about it. We went through something similar early in our marriage when we were working 5 jobs between us to get out of debt. He still didn’t complain and learning from his example, I complained less.

I have since discovered in the more than 8 years that we have been together that he does have complaints, (shocking, I know!) they just need to be drawn out of him so back to last night, I sat back and thought about it and realized this request was actually cause for great jubilation throughout Hastonia.

For two reasons-

  1. He felt secure enough to tell me he needed a break
  2. He also made a plan to give me some “me time” soon

I know without a doubt, that his “me time” will make him refreshed and better able to “be” with us and not feeling drained when it’s time for “family time”. Some of the best marriage advice I have ever gotten having a healthy marriage/relationship/partnership is this.

  1. Try to see things through the other person’s eyes.. and really pretend you are them and feel very strongly about the thing that you are disagreeing about.
  2. Ask yourself, will this matter in 30 years?

I will admit that it’s not the easiest advice to follow, especially that first one… stepping out of your own viewpoint is hard work, AND it’s absolutely worth it.

See this picture? It’s the tunic I bought myself on my shopping trip yesterday, see that happy face? It comes from asking for what you want and getting it and of course loving yourself and buying yourself something pretty (in the budget, of course!)

Now, I fully grasp that there will be times that you ask for what you want and don’t get it (as my loving husband pointed out while I was discussing this post with him) AND if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get what you want.

Think about it…

Self-care is not Selfish, it’s Smart!

Dear Readers,

I should update those of you who are not on Facebook and Twitter or reading anything but my blog. I GOT A PART! I GOT A PART! I GOT A PART!!!!!!! here is my face when I found out…

2017jmac

It’s a show called “My Big Fat Bahookie” and it’s all about how your body is perfect as it is! I have had exactly one rehearsal and am seriously jazzed about the project! (stay tuned to my blog for more discoveries

Taking this part involves juggling more time away from home and balance to my life. I am as ever, very grateful for a partner who understands that about me and is helping to support me doing something for me while he parents our child and gives me space to work on my craft. In addition, I really like to socialize so I had the night off from rehearsal last night and was excited to be social with some friends I have not seen in a while! I have definitely been planning less of these of late (see above for balancing act) and I was looking forward to it.

It had been a very busy day at work and I was feeling very stressed as I walked up the stair to our place, and made a snap decision to cancel. Why was it so hard to admit that? I even hesitated to reach out to both to reschedule…. I guess it is  throwback to my days as a people pleasing person. I would often worry to ridiculous levels if someone was mad at me because I didn’t hear from them. It’s a positive side effect of growing older and let’s be honest, having a kid, to realize that no one has time for that.

If someone is mad at me, I fully expect them to talk to me about it and do not expect me to be a mind reader and figure it out. I am blessed to have very decidedly healthy relationships (That was not always the case!) and I am grateful for them.

In this particular case, I let it go and reached out to both and they were extremely understanding which I appreciated. It is possible that both of them felt the same. I am glad I reached out and said something, because truly, I needed last night for some “me” time.

I am so glad I took it and rescheduled with the women who loved me enough to say, “Take care of yourself”.. to which I replied, “Thank you, I am!”

So my message this week? Self-care is not selfish, it’s Smart!

THINK ABOUT IT!

The Audition is the Work.

auditionface

Dear Readers,

This month has been a very exciting one, professionally. I went back to work after being on leave for 3 months. It is definitely an adjustment, AND I am delighted to find I still really love my job and the people I work with every day. I also have a fabulous partner in my husband who understands how much I love to act and knows it takes time for me to prepare to audition, and gives me that time and space to pursue my craft.
Many times, I have talked about being an artist and how being rejected SUCKS OUT LOUD.

This is not that kind of post.

 

As I write this, I have not only auditioned well (drum roll, please!)….I have gotten called back for both!!!!!!!!! Yes, you read that correctly. Let me say it again, I have two callbacks!! (mini wave and celebration of ME)

I am going to pause right now and reread that sentence because it’s so wonderful to be able to write it.

I really hesitated to post this, thinking maybe I should not be so excited about it or let myself get excited.. or better yet, pretend that I don’t care that much or that it happens all the time. My first rule in writing this blog (which requires me to be honest even when it hurts or is scary), prevents me doing that.  I am honestly so excited right now and that bears sharing. This is awesome and deserves celebration.

How did this amazing thing happen? Well, I made a decision after taking my Meissner class in 2014 that from now on, I will only audition for things that inspire me and challenge me. This promise to myself, became even more important after I had my daughter, because as you might imagine, time is even more valuable so it requires that it be something extraordinary to pull me away. Through all this, I kept looking for projects that got me excited, and didn’t audition for everything that came my way.

It’s worth noting, that along the path of these all too real rejections, I have been lucky enough to get real and valuable feedback, one director telling me, “whatever you are doing, keep it up” which was and is, very encouraging! It’s definitely not as good as, “you got the part!” AND it’s something that’s kept me moving with my head up despite a lot more no than yes.

I have to say, It’s quite the heady rush. I wanted to write this before the result to capture the euphoria I am feeling before the results are in for this particular event.

No matter what the result, this is a MAJOR validation of my legitimacy as an artist and my path that I am walking and encouragement to keep auditioning.

This passion for “treading the boards” is warranted and I am right where I need to be.
“It’s the work of the actor to audition, getting the role is gravy” said by Richard Robichaux in my Meissner class two years ago. I admit saying this when rejected can feel a bit like a consolation prize, AND today I get it. I really did approach both callbacks like, “I get to play both these parts RIGHT NOW and I am having time of my life!”
I feel energized and excited at the possibilities of the gaining of both these parts while realistically knowing, it’s likely I will get offered one, and maybe none, but certainly not both.
For those who don’t audition, liken it to that time when you interview (we all interview for jobs, right?) for more than one job and you nail it and find yourself with two offers.
That’s when you have the truly wonderful dilemma of which to choose. It’s a great place to be and I hope that in writing all this down RIGHT NOW, I remember this the next time I am rejected for a part I really want.

Remembering always, that it is a lot more “no” than”yes” when putting yourself out there as an artist.
Thank you, Richard Robichaux for teaching me to value my work and my craft every day, every line, every audition, no matter the result.

Yes, I am an artist.

Think About It.

Do You Respond or React?

reactrespons

Dear Readers,

I have been giving a lot of thought to this question.

I have been trying hard to incorporate the act of responding not reacting in  my daily life since becoming a mom. If my child cries, and I react with a “oh my god, what is wrong?” and what can I do to “fix” it.. what am I teaching her? That when she cries, I will freak out.

I have been trying to approach it like okay, something is wrong, she can’t tell me what, so I get to play detective. I usually look her in the eyes and say, oh my .. are you hungry? I can tell you are upset, I wish I knew what was wrong…  and then you start the process of asking them what is wrong. It feels a little silly to me because she can’t talk, AND I know someday she will so we will be in the habit of asking her what is wrong when she cries.

Sometimes I wish it was as easy as they make it look on television and the movies. Notably, the character of Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy, she has a particular scene where she is in the middle of surgery and someone else is caring for her baby, who is crying. The intern holds the baby up to the intercom, and lets Miranda hear the cry, she listens for a second and then says, “Ah, that is cry #4, that means he is hungry, if you feed him, he will stop crying” – If only it were that easy! But it’s not.

For now, I follow my dear friend Rachel’s advice which is to help your child by telling them to breathe when they get upset, and when they are wailing, it’s pretty hard to do but as my Mom pointed out, the breathing exercise is more for the parents than the kid. It’s to calm you down, so you can respond and not react.

This is VERY hard advice to follow, AND I am starting to see some small wins with it so far.

A big part of this is asking for help when I need it, still not easy for me, because Lord forbid, I ever let on I need help or support, I am Superwoman, remember?

No, I am human, flawed and a beautiful little snowflake, just like you, I get frustrated and tired and am learning when I need a break and giving myself permission to take it.

Tonight is a great example, I came home and my wonderful husband said, go take a “mommy break” so I went to his man cave (gasp!) and plopped myself in a chair and watched Seinfeld for an hour and drank a Pepsi and ate some Pringles (and wrote this post!)

Can I just tell you, that hour did me so much good, and I felt incredible taking care of myself like that. I can tell you when I picked up my daughter an hour later, I was much more ready to respond and not react. Whether you have a kid or not, you likely work hard and don’t take enough time to relax.  Relaxing is underrated and under done. Please be sure that you take time for yourself and reconnect with you. You are pretty great and you likely support lots of people, be sure you take the time to do what you need to do to support you.

Think about it!