Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Living the Life that's Waiting for Us

I hopped a plane to Southern California earlier last month to attend the OC Walk to Remember as well as to spend some much needed time with my sister (and business partner) to work work work.

Teamotions is hands down the hardest venture I have ever undertaken. We've been working, selling, brainstorming, planning, executing, and revamping ourselves into a coma. Both of us look like a truck ran us over. But the potential of it all keeps us going.

Teamotions is growing, but more importantly it is changing, and with it has come some amazing experiences. We see lives touched and all the work is worth it.We are building a worthy legacy for my sweet girls. That alone is enough to keep me going when it all just seems like too much.

I always enjoy time in SoCal but this trip was extra special. I got to meet Carly Dudly of Names in the Sand and Christian's Beach. We made contact five years ago via email when we were both new grieving mommies with a desire to leave a legacy worthy of the babies we buried. She came all the way from Australia to take part in one of the STILL project short films by Jonathan and Carrie Pascual and we all met up along with Sean Hanish from Return to Zero in Orange County at the OC Walk to Remember.

Left to right: Zaya, Jonathan, and Carrie Pascual, me, Carly Dudly, Sean Hanish, Kiley Hanish, and Crystal Tenpenny at the OC Walk to Remember 2013
It was surreal to hug Carly. We've crossed paths so many times in cyber space and worked together via internet on many projects, but meeting in real life, hugging, crying, and talking was a truly beautiful moment. The bond I felt with her is in fact real and I think we were both moved. It was a good day.

Aubrey and Ellie's names are above my head
It was a hard day too though. At the ceremony before we walk they read off every baby's name, give us roses, and put our baby's names on a giant mural. I never quite know how to feel when I see my daughters' names like that. As if I need to be reminded that they are in fact gone. I haven't forgotten I assure you. And, for the first time in a while, I TOTALLY LOST IT. I broken down. Publicly. And I couldn't gain my composure. It just reminded me how close to the surface my pain still is. I love and miss my girls so much and I HATE that they are gone.

I HATE that I can find their names on a mural for dead babies.
I HATE that I held two roses for them.
I HATE that my tank top said "Remembering Aubrey and Ellie."
And I HATE that more that five years later I am still so raw. I would murder death with my bare hands if I could because I hate it so much. That is why the tears still uncontrollably flow...I WANT MY BABIES BACK.

(Deep breath)

I suppose this is life. Beautiful. Sad. Stirring. Crushing. It felt good to cry. It felt good to stop crying. It's my life and I'm learning to embrace it. It is time to live the life waiting for me. I know I am more than my sad story, much more. It just took me a while to remember.

I left California on a mission. My babies know I love them and miss them. I have nothing to prove to them. But I do have something to prove to myself. A life is waiting for me. An extraordinary life full of blessings and gratitude and compassion. It is time for this broken little bird to fly again. I mean really fly. Impressively fly. Freestyle fly like its cool.

So I literally flew home on an airplane to these amazing kids with new inspiration in my heart ready to shake off the melancholy and live more alive. (I just threw in these pictures to make you all smile).

And I also created this.

Share if it inspired you. Life is waiting for you. Live it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Meantime Until Fine

When hard or bad things happen it can be so frustrating to be patted on the back and told “don’t worry, everything will be ok.” First of all, how the heck do they know!?!? And second of all, it is great if eventually life won’t be so terrible and hard anymore, but the question remains-what do we do in the meantime? The un-hard life of the future isn’t the problem. The present difficulty is!
This is my best advice for how to endure the meantime until fine:

1.       Hold out on making any big decisions.
Let the crisis and its emotional repercussions pass before making any big decisions. That is advice you can take to the bank. If for some reason that is not possible, make sure to consult someone you can trust to help you make the decisions you need to make. When we are in pain or panic we cannot trust our own judgment, plain and simple. We need another set of vested eyes and ears to help us wade through decisions we are simply too emotionally impaired by difficult times to think through properly. Don’t make huge financial decisions nor start a new relationship. Don’t quit a job nor move. Don’t do anything extreme that can’t be undone. Protect yourself and sit tight until the crisis clears. If a decision must be made pull in a time tested trustworthy friend or family member to be your sounding board. I cannot count how many people tell me that they thought they were clear-headed during a crisis and could trust their own judgment only to regret their decisions and wonder what in the world they were thinking. Don’t be one of those people and heap extra stress on yourself during an already emotionally taxing time. Hold off on all big decisions or lean on the judgment of others in times of crisis.

.       Protect your physical health.
When our coping mechanisms are depleted due to stress or emotional pain it is important not to sabotage our ability to function and recover by taking poor care of our physical health. In crisis, pay extra attention to the little things as not to undermine your healing.
a.       Guard your sleep. Exhaustion undermines our coping mechanisms in every way.
b.      Get sun and fresh air. Go outside every day, even if it is freezing, hold your face up to the sun and take a few deep breaths.
c.       Exercise. Physical activity improves emotional well-being, boost immunity, and releases pent up emotions. 
d.      Eat well. Healthy whole real food builds up our health. Processed foods full of chemicals, sugar, and salt tear our health down. Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial under stress. It simply isn’t the time to live off of fast food and candy bars. It is also not the time to not eat. Even if your appetite is gone, force yourself to eat small healthy snacks every three hours. Your body  needs nutrition to persevere.
e.      And if possible, take a good multivitamin and other supplements that nutritionally supports the stress your body is under.
Emotional pain can surprise us with its grip. Loosen that grip by taking care of your body by supporting the delicate connection between our emotions and our physical health.

.       Drink tea, ditch the coffee.
Let’s just be honest here, too much coffee will slay you. We’ve all been there in college shaking while cramming for finals ready to crawl out of our skin from too many cups of coffee.  No one has ever complained about tea that way. Science proves what our bodies seem to be telling us all along. Coffee depletes essential nutrients like B vitamins (your stress fighting vitamins), causes inflammation in the body, and contributes to adrenal exhaustion. Tea provides nutrition in the form of antioxidants, ECGC, vitamins, minerals and bio-available water. Even the caffeine in tea is different from the caffeine in coffee. Tea has much less caffeine than coffee and also contains L-theanine. Caffeine and L-theanine work together to boost energy, mental alertness, and concentration while simultaneously calming the body. No other caffeinated beverage both energizes and calms. This produces a sense of well-being unparalleled to coffee, even decaffeinated coffee. People who drink tea regularly have more energy, are less anxious, and feel more centered than people who drink coffee regularly. It may seem that coffee gives you the boost you need when you are depleted but over time it will deplete your more. Restore your coping mechanisms and health with tea.

4       Cry, yell, and smash something if you must.
Times of emotional difficulty are no joke. It is incredibly frustrating when life goes on and we have to go on with it even though what we really want to do is punch something and scream for time to stop. When emotions start mounting up the best thing to do is LET THEM OUT! Cry, vent, talk, yell, laugh, sigh, write, dance, paint, play music, craft, throw something…do what you have to do to get some emotional relief before you explode. After my daughters died I loved to go to the indoor range and fire a handgun. I’d shoot at the circle target (not the one shaped like a person, that felt weird to me) with the goggles and earmuff things on. I am a little intimidated by the whole putting the bullets in the clip and loading the handgun experience so I think it felt good to face my fear and conquer it. And then, the adrenalin rush of firing a gun is exhilarating and empowering at the same time. I can’t exactly explain how it made me feel but the sense of relief it provided was undeniable.  I went in overwhelmed and after a few rounds I came out strong again and brave, able to face another day. I also ran and wrote. There are all kinds of safe and healthy ways to find an outlet for your feelings. Find what gives you the relief you need to keep yourself going.

5      Get professional counseling.
Life can be really hard. If something is going on that has set you on the emotional brink GET HELP. A professional counselor can make all the difference in the world. There is nothing wrong with you if you can’t deal on your own. The truth is, no one can. We are all a disaster behind closed doors and need support to overcome. Love yourself enough to get help when you need it. You have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. Let a professional help you.

6.       BONUS ADVICE: Do not cut your hair.

This bit of advice may not apply to everyone, but it was one of my greatest regrets so I wanted to pass it along. DO NOT CUT YOUR HAIR OFF. Do your best not to be impulsive while in crisis. Do not march into the salon with a picture of an A-line bob and let the stylist go to town. You’ll regret it. This could probably also apply to getting a tattoo, getting piercings, hair color and cutting your own bangs. DON’T DO IT. Seriously. Don’t.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Dos and Don'ts of Caring for Those Who are Hurting

The Dos and Don’ts of Caring for Those Who are Hurting

No one likes to see someone they care about in pain. It can be an overwhelming desire to want to comfort the hurting, but our well-intentioned attempts to lessen the pain often increase it. I have talked to countless people who have heart-wrenching stories of pain inflicted on them by those trying (and failing miserably) to comfort them. I myself have been crushed by the things said and done to me by others desperate to help me feel better.

This post, The Dos and Don’ts of Caring for Those Who are Hurting, is intended to help remedy this disconnect between our desire to help those we care about and our ability. Unfortunately, good intentions are simply not good enough.  It is time to clue in and take it upon ourselves to become equipped to effectively care for those who are hurting. 

1.       Do listen, don’t talk

People in pain have a lot to process. Processing is complicated by the emotional roller coaster they are on and depending on how much pain they are in will depend on how long they stay on that roller coaster.  Allowing those who are hurting the freedom to talk as much or as little as they want is important. Listening comforts. Giving them the freedom to share their feelings on their terms, letting them repeat themselves, and letting them cry, laugh, yell, and not be themselves is essential to conveying that you love and support them.  Talking does not comfort. Most of the time well-intentioned words only add to the pain.
If you must say something say only “I’m so sorry,” and “I am here for you”. Do not say, “Everything is going to be ok” or “Everything happens for a reason.” Rationalizing away pain is counterproductive in every respect. It doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters how they feel so give them the freedom to feel. If you truly desire to be a comfort to someone in emotional pain simply be quiet and listen.

2.       Do take the initiative, don’t wait to be asked for help.

Hurting people are afraid to burden others with their pain. If you just step back and wait for them to tell you what they need they most likely never will. Truthfully, they might not even know what they need. Emotional pain is confusing and when something hurts emotionally our first response is often to feel embarrassment or shame for “taking it so hard.” Don’t compound these feelings by stepping back. The needs of the hurting person will evolve and so should your support. Put the needs of the hurting person first and check your ego at the door. After all, this is about them, not you. Don’t take it personally if your help is not acknowledged or even rejected. Use maturity and wisdom and be respectful. If you are specifically asked not to help, honor that request, but if no such request is made than help away.  Show you care by taking the initiative to help without being asked.

3.       Do commit for the long haul, don’t disappear after six weeks.

I don’t know what it is about the six week mark exactly but it is somewhat of a phenomenon. After my daughters died in 2008 people came out of the wood work to console me for the first six weeks and then as suddenly as they came they were gone. Many others I have talked to experienced this same six week phenomenon. It is almost like at six weeks people feel “off the hook” so to speak and return to their own lives.
I was blessed though to have a small handful of friends and family who did stand by me for the duration. They remain by my side to this day. Their long-term support benefited my healing more than any other factor.
If you want to truly support and comfort someone you care about that is hurting walk beside them for the duration. Don’t stand by them on your time frame, commit to their time frame and stick it out. Many factors will define what that duration will be exactly and it differs for everyone, but the security of knowing they have someone to depend on for emotional support not matter how long it takes is a hurting person’s greatest comfort.

4.       Do be empathetic, don’t be judgmental

The best advice I ever got after my daughters deaths was to give my husband the freedom to   grieve his own way and not compare his grief and way of expressing it to mine. This is exceptionally wise advice across the board. It is notour job to judge, compare, or measure another person’s response to pain. Each person is different and will therefore have a unique response. There is no right or wrong way to handle emotional pain and offering our empathy instead of our judgment is the best way to be supportive.

5.       Do send a gift, don’t send flowers.

      Sending or bringing a gift to show your love and support is a beautiful way to comfort someone in pain. Hurting people need to know others are thinking of them and that they are not alone. There are many thoughtful gift options, but I’ll be frank, a bouquet of flowers is not one of them. Everyone who has ever sent flowers since the dawn of time I’m convinced meant well by doing so, but meaning well is not enough. It is so widely accepted in our culture to send flowers that I don’t think anyone has ever really stopped to think it through. The problem with flowers is that they die. The comfort they provide comes to a depressing end when the petals fall off and the stems wilt.  If your intent is to provide real and lasting comfort do the more thoughtful thing and send a gift that can’t die. Don’t send flowers.

I hope this post helps you care better for those who are hurting. Have questions? Email me.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Summer in California

Ventura Pier
I spent almost the entire summer in Southern California. Ojai to be exact. Try not to be jealous. And if you live in Southern California don't rub it in.

Ojai is where I grew up. My parents are still there with a comfortable home for my boys and I and since my husband was deployed I decided it was the perfect opportunity to leave North Carolina's humidity for a nostalgic California summer.

So off we went. We being a 7.5 year old Dustin and an almost 3 year old Colton James. The dog stayed home.
To say it was a full summer is an understatement. I am not even sure where to begin, but I promise to give you an opportunity to live vicariously through me, even if just for a moment, as I experienced one of the best summers of my life!

Family, friends, beach, sun, food, swimming, 4th of July festivities, my 15-year High School reunion, wine tasting,  Colt's third birthday, trips to San Diego, Solvang, Santa Barbara, and Paso Robles, amazing restaurants, a truly powerful parenting seminar, and my husband's surprise visit the last week of our stay just broach the surface.

I also worked hard too. I can't take the summer off from Teamotions, but I wouldn't want to. It was so much fun growing the company from Southern California. We made informational videos, strategic contacts, and I attended the SOLVE Conference put on by Chic CEO.

And I cooked and cooked and cooked some more. Fresh summer gazpacho, made from scratch Serrano Chile margarita mix, Moroccan vegetable stew with golden raisins and cumin, cheddar cheese bacon burgers with sweet onion chutney and horseradish mayo, thai chicken sandwiches with Serrano apricot ginger sauce, grilled pineapple and coleslaw with peanut sauce...just to name a few. I promise to leave you with some original recipes at the very end of this post. I was even thinking about publishing an e-book. Would you be interested in an e-book of my summer recipes? If so let me know and I will publish one!

 I couldn't possibly put into words the perfectness of the weather, the conversations with my best friend Brenna, the hours spent by the pool (I have a tan for the first time in 7 years), and the contentedness I felt watching my boys spend an entire summer in the same house I grew up in. There was something even more magical about it than Christmas.

This summer was a blessing to me in so many ways. And since I know how fleeting happiness can be I can only be thankful for a summertime full of precious memories, fun experiences, and meaningful conversations and relationships. I am in awe sometimes that any happiness has returned at all. I was so sad for a time, so darkly, hopelessly sad. And although I can't go as far as to say I am never sad anymore, I am definitely happy again. I experience joy and laughter and I have hope again. My future won't only be filled with the pain of missing my sweet girls. Good times and beautiful memories await. Five years ago I would have thought a summer like this one would have been impossible, but yet here I sit, writing the longest blog post of all time just to share the good news.

Healing is possible. A beautiful life can be had after loss. I had a glimpse of it this summer.

Since I would have to write a book to document my entire summer and just how awesome it was I will post only the highlights MOST worth mentioning.

1) I had the privilege of meeting Jonathan and Carrie Pascual of the STILL Project and Sean Hanish, writer and director of the movie Return to Zero as soon as I arrived. We met up in Pasadena for dinner to bond over our creative pursuits, our mutual support of each other, and the most important thing we have in common: we suffered the deaths of our children and lived to tell about it in some pretty creative ways. JP and Carrie are making a documentary called STILL and Sean Hanish is in the process of trying to get the feature film he wrote and directed into theaters (you can help by pledging to see the movie or becoming a local leader here). We met up a second time for a Saturday BBQ, some swimming, and some much needed rest and relaxation.
Dinner with Jonathan, Carrrie, and Sean!

Having too much fun!

Our children swimming together.
2) Believe it or not it has been 5 years since Aubrey and Ellie were born. Visiting Aubrey and Ellie's headstone on their 5th birthday was one of the highlights of my time in California. I miss you so much my sweet girls.

3) With the help of a bunch of friends from high school and the generosity of Jonathan and Carrie Pascual and their film making expertise, Teamotions was able to make some amazing marketing videos. Just click HERE to see them. They are all very short-I promise. But SO WORTH watching.

4) I never thought that I would say this but my 15-year High School reunion was a blast. I talked so much my voice was gone the next day. Here are a few pics. GO NORDHOFF RANGERS!

Zach, Sarah, Me and Jake...friends from way back.
I just wanted to show you how cute the back of my dress was!
5) I definitely used the time we spent in Califonia to visit family. My aunt and uncle live in Paso Robles and we always have the best time with them. My uncle took me wine tasting and my favorite BY FAR was Sculpterra Winery. The wine was amazing. Every single one, white or red, blew my mind, and they even had a ruby port (and as a rule I don't like port) that was phenomenal. Plus they let you eat pistacios they grow themselves while you taste. The grounds are beautiful too. The gardens are full of sculptures and the tasting room was exquisit. And the best part, it was FREE. Can't beat that! If you are ever in the area you must go there! YOU MUST!

6) Since the summer can't be all play and no work I also attended The SOLVE Conference with Chic CEO in San Diego. Teamotions was chosen as one of the focus group companies so I put myself and my company out there to be critiqued by a panel of professional and a panel of my peers. The feedback was priceless though and was more positive than negative by far. I walked away with actual solutions I was able to implement right away. More importantly, however, I got some much needed encouragement by people who actually know what they are talking about and made some meaningful and valuable connections.

7) And last but not least I have a new favorite restaurant. I am a true foodie so it takes a lot for me to declare a favorite restaurant. I have extremely high standards. Lure Fish House and Oyster Bar in Ventura, CA fits the bill however. The food is phenomenal, the service excellent, the ambiance superb, and they make a mean grapefruit diablo martini. I highly recommend checking it out when you are in town. It just might become your favorite restaurant too!

* * *

Fresh Summer Gazpacho by yours truly Rachel Tenpenny Crawford ( I used all locally grown fresh farmer's market produce which does make all the difference in the flavor)

1 large cucumber, peeled
3 large fresh garden tomatoes. Grocery store won't do. They need to be rich, sweet, and flavorful.
1 red bell pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 large onion
1 jalapeno
handful of flat leaf parsley
handful of cilantro
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 Tbls olive oil
sugar, as needed, optional
avocado, diced, to garnish

Pull all ingredients into the blender and puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and sugar, 1/4 teaspoon at a time to mellow any acidity. Keep chilled and pour into bowls and garnish with avocado and more chopped cilantro and an additional squeeze of lime. Add extra jalapeno for a spicier Gazpacho or leave it out if no spice is desired.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

5 Years Without Aubrey

Five years ago today Aubrey Elizabeth left earth for heaven. Before she went she opened her eyes and looked at me. Her sister Ellie was waiting for her.

We visited the cemetery today to put flowers on Aubrey's grave. I watched my boys play in the cemetery. They know the rules now. Don't touch the other flowers or step on any headstones. And they even ask to visit the other babies. I find it both sweet and strange that they are so comfortable there.

I told my sweet girl that I am sure 5 years in heaven has been amazing and to wait for me. I cried today even though I didn't want to and before I left the only words I could manage were "I'm sorry."

I miss my sweet brave tiny girl. I miss her everyday.

Monday, July 1, 2013

5 Years Without Ellie

Five years ago today I held my sweet Ellie in my arms until her heart stopped beating and she left this world for heaven. I remember feeling the air get sucked out of the room and we just knew she was gone. I didn't want to stop holding her but after a little while we had to give her over. My only requests were to please keep her warm and to gently remove the tape that once held her tubes. She was gone but I still worried for her. I still wanted to protect her. I still wanted to be a good mother to her.

I miss you sweet girl more than words can say. You took a piece of my heart with you and I have not been the same since. Tears and pretty flowers were all I could muster today. My heart longs for you and counts down the days until we meet again. It is my privilege to be forever changed by loving you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Birthday #5

Happy Birthday to my sweet girls. I am struggling today to find the words to describe how much I miss you. Five years without you has been both an eternity and a blink. Losing both of you will never be unsad. I long for the day I will see you again. In the meantime I will live as bravely and compassionately as I can in honor of your memories. It was a privilege to ache for you today.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Untimid Soul

It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.  -Theodore Roosevelt                                                                

This is one of my favorite quotes. I read it for the first time when I was young, naive, and wildly idealistic. At that time I honestly thought I was going to fix the world and all the people in it. I wanted to save souls and lives like a heroine from fiction. I'd have dark moments sure but I'd rise up like something from a movie. My triumph was certain because, well, I was passionate and hardworking. Perseverance and noble intentions were certainly enough to make all that is bad good again. I just knew it. And I was going to save myself from pain and regret by living a life full off good decisions. It was the perfect plan. 

I was a timid soul and didn't even know it.

Entering the arena for real would be nothing like I imagined it. I would not enter willingly nor would I fight valiantly. I would be forced there, marred by dust and and sweat and blood against every ounce of my being. I wouldn't be ready. I'd hate every second in the arena. I wouldn't be noble or triumphant, just angry and crazy with pain.  Most disappointing would be that I would emerge from battle broken and filled with regret.

I couldn't save them.

My real life has gone nothing like the novel I'd written for myself so long ago. I have not been a heroine, at least not yet. At times I was the villain, my own worst enemy, and at other times I was too lost in my own pain to be anything at all.

I lost my way.

I am still learning how to become an untimid soul. I have yet to triumph with high achievement and my failures have not been while daring greatly. I long to say with conviction that I have truly spent myself at a worthy cause. 

Right now I just feel spent.

An untimid soul never gets out unscathed.

So I have put myself in training. I'm floundering a bit but I am serious about it. I am conditioning, hardening, the parts of me that are too sensitive so I can fight the good fight in my own life. I have embarked on a type of soul-hardening journey that will enable me to never again be a timid soul. 

It doesn't mean I am seeking to have a hard soul. On the contrary, my soul is more compassionate today than it ever has been, but it must be strong enough to endure or any compassion it contains will be snuffed out. I can't remain wounded forever. I won't. It is time to let some of these wounds scar up. 

I am full of heart and I feel my spirit being renewed daily but I still have a long way to go until I can claim to be one who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. 

Until I am truly an untimid soul. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Little Broken Teapot

My favorite yellow teapot broke. Well, it got broken. By accident of course. A wine glass fell on it and shockingly remained intact while causing the handle on the teapot to break into multiple pieces.

I felt my heart sink the moment it happened. To make matters worse, you know what I did? I threw it away. What use is a teapot without a handle? How would I pour my tea? That was my rationale. In a split second I deemed it no longer valuable. I had a momentary lapse of judgment and I just tossed it in the trash just like that.

I instantly regretted it. I still regret it.

I love that teapot. Seriously. I do.

I bet you are thinking I should just get a new one. I am the owner of a tea company after all. I can get any teapot I want at wholesale right?

But I don't want another teapot. I want my favorite yellow teapot.

You don't understand what that teapot means to me.

My husband bought me that teapot seven and a half years ago. I was pregnant with our first child and living at my parents' while he was deployed in Iraq. For Christmas he signed me up for a tea-of-the-month club and a little yellow teapot came with it. It was the perfect gift for me and I was so touched by his thoughtfulness (my husband is an excellent gift giver). I immediately walked my giant belly to the kitchen to make a cup of tea in my new and lovely little yellow teapot.

And that was the beginning. The beginning of a friendship with a teapot. A long, unexpected, meaningful attachment with a little yellow friend.

That teapot supported me during my last month of pregnancy. It welcomed home my first baby. It kept me going for a year and a half of almost no sleep. It comforted me through my husband's second deployment. It fostered friendships and conversations.

It made the thousands of cups of tea that got me through Aubrey and Ellie's deaths. Thousands. I cried holding it a hundred times.

It welcomed home my second son too. It moved to four different houses with me. I even traveled with it. That little yellow teapot was a constant for seven and a half years. No matter what chaos my life was in, it was there.

And I just threw it away.

It has been a few weeks now and I have had some time to process my impulsiveness. I spent three days crying, missing my teapot. I even called a friend to tell her how sad I was and to express my regret. What was I thinking?

Truth be known I think I felt bad being attached to it, guilty even or superficial. Someone like me who has lost so much should have perspective right? It was just a teapot, a thing, an inanimate object. I shouldn't be so attached to a thing.

Yet losing it broke my heart and throwing it away was a mistake. It may have just been a teapot but it was my favorite teapot. And I loved it. That teapot got me through the hardest part of my life. That teapot, in many ways, saved me.

I tried to dig it out of the trash but it was too late. It had been taken away by the trash truck, lost to me forever. I decided that I would let myself grieve it and not feel guilty or superficial for loving it. Even though I don't have my little yellow teapot anymore I do have all the memories and will always be thankful for it. It served a powerful and meaningful purpose during multiple seasons of my life.

Life is full of losses big and small. It is okay to value the small blessings and miss them when they are gone. The little things often carry us through the big things.

Goodbye little yellow teapot. Thank you for your faithful service. You were a true treasure to me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You're Invited

Invite you...

this Sunday, March 17th at 3pm PST
to discuss the role of creativity in healing after pregnancy loss, still birth or infant death on Google hang out. Grab your computer and a cup of HAVE HOPE tea (the purchase of every tin supports the STILL project) and come on over! Virtually that is.

Joining us will be director Sean Hanish and producer Paul Jaconi-Biery from Return to Zero,  founder of Still Standing Magazine Franchesca Cox, artist and photographer Carly Marie Dudley from Australia, Gina Harris, Executive Director of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep out of Colorado, and myself, Rachel Crawford, co-fouder of Teamotions.  

This is link to the promotional video we have put together to promote the event:  http://youtu.be/biHJonaMZag.

Please do share it within your personal and professional networks.  Post it on Facebook. Tweet about it. Email it and make phone calls! Let"s give our children a voice and heal our own hearts in the process!

Viewers can tune in on Sunday at www.facebook.com/STILLproject and watch live or access the recording after the broadcast.

Come on over to my facebook page today and let me know if you plan to join!  I'd love to see you there.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The STILL Project

When I first heard about this documentary film I absolutely knew without a doubt that I wanted to support it.  It simply MUST be made.  We must give miscarriage, still birth, and infant death a voice. I have the privilege of supporting this film personally and professionally.  My tea company Teamotions donates $2 from every tin of Have Hope sold to the making of this film.  Please help us get the word out about this important film and please support it in any way you can. Here are a list of ways you can help right now:

Share this blog post on your blog, on facebook, or on your google account.
Go to www.facebook.com/stillproject and like it and/or share it.
Purchase a tin of Have Hope tea from Teamotions: www.teamotionstea.com/have-hope

Please enjoy the trailer below.  Pass it on!  Lets give our children a voice!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When I Cry

I love this picture because it reminds me of my girls 
I posted a picture of two little twins hugging in their incubators on our Teamotions facebook page and burst into tears. It made me think of my girls and the special bond twins have and how I know in my heart that they could not live without each other. I know my girls are in heaven hugging each other right now.

I honestly don't cry as much anymore.  About my girls I mean.  I do cry, but not like I used to.  I used to cry every single day.  Now I cry at completely random moments. I cry in the car and in the shower.  I especially cry when the house is too quiet or when my husband is gone for long periods of time (military wife=weeks and months alone). It's better in the sense that it isn't constant but worse in the sense that it is unpredictable.

Take tonight for example.  I am sitting at my computer eating peanut butter filled pretzels while I write a few article to send off to magazines about Teamotions and wham!  It hits me.  Out of no where the tears start falling and I got a lump in my throat and I felt my heart crumble all over again.

I miss my babies.

Sometimes I feel like they were just an idea that I fell in love with.  They were a tease, a cruel joke, that I gave my whole heart to only to be left empty-armed and brokenhearted.  I loved them in my dreams and when they were finally in front of me I wasn't allowed to touch them and when I reached for them they became just smoke, a vapor in my hand.

I didn't get enough time with them. I didn't get to know them. I never heard their voices. I never got to nurse them. I held them each only once for the first time and the last time. And it did something to me.

I died a little when they died.

And I think that is why I cry sometimes.

But most of me is still very alive.

And that is why I smile most of the time.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

When I Was Happiest

Dustin-16 months old. This was a happy time! 
My dad sent me a picture he found of me when I was in high school in a text message yesterday.  When I saw it I laughed because I forgot how fat my face was when I was a teenager.  I definitely looked younger, but mostly I could still see the girl I was then; passionately optimistic and determined to leave my mark in some profound way. I had a glint in my eye and nothing standing in my way. My life was just beginning and it was full of possibilities. I was happy.

That picture got me thinking...when was I the happiest?

Before I go on let me say that I don't believe that being happy is the most important thing about life nor even a worthy pursuit really.  I believe that happiness ebbs and flows and our lives are full of seasons.  I also believe that it is possible to be full of joy even in the midst of miserable circumstances, even when happiness eludes us our cup may still runneth over.  And I also believe that unhappiness is a powerful driving force.  It is often a catalyst for growth and change more effective than our will.

Yet, it is nice to be happy.

And there is nothing wrong with being happy.

I miss being happy.

I was the happiest EVER IN MY LIFE from September 2005-January 2006.  I was pregnant with my first son and although my husband was on deployment in Iraq which was not ideal I moved home to live with my parents to make the most of it and get ready for my son's birth. I didn't have any other children yet, I didn't have to work, my morning sickness had ended, and it was fall in my hometown which is a lovely time of year.  I had a beautiful pregnant belly, took long walks every single day, and sat by the fire every single night with my feet up talking with my dad feeling my baby kick.  Life was what I always dreamed it would be.  The holiday season was full of excitement and anticipation of my new baby due January 11th.  I took long baths.  I ate holiday treats.  I spent time with my friends and family.  I had a baby shower. I felt safe.  I was so happy.

And right when I though I couldn't be happier my son was born on January 7th at 3:45am and I remember holding my arms out for the midwife to hand him to me and I said, "where have you been all my life?" It was the happiest moment of my entire life.  It changed me.  It was the purest joy I had ever felt.

I spent the next three weeks doting on my son.  As far as I was concerned he was perfect and I was so proud of him. I showed him off every chance I got and took about a thousand pictures of him. I put beanies on his head everyday to keep him warm and nursed him by the fire.  My grandmother would come over everyday to hold him and my mom cooked my meals and even stayed up with me all night one night to help me so I could get some sleep.  It was an ideal situation.  All I had to do was rest and take care of my precious baby.  It was truly the best time of my life.

And it wasn't like it came to a crashing halt, not right away anyway, and certainly not in some catastrophic way.  Normal life challenges emerged. My idealistic happiness was knocked down a few notches as my precious baby boy became the boy who never slept.  My husband came home from Iraq when Dustin was just three weeks old and I was thrilled to have him back and for him to see his new son, but it also meant all the responsibilities that go with being a wife and adjusting to life with a new baby.  And although it was certainly not all bad I have to be honest and say that was one of the hardest years of my life.  Chronic sleep deprivation and loneliness had a way of wearing me down. But it was just a season.  We've all been there.

When Aubrey and Ellie died it was as if the air got sucked out of my lungs and the happiness got sucked out of my life. Happiness is impossible when you can't even breath. And I knew it wasn't just a season.  It was forever.  And it hurt.

It has been a while since I can honestly say I was happy. I've had moments of joy and peace, I don't want to give the impression that my life is miserable because it isn't.  But genuine happiness has been missing for a while now. Even the addition of my little Colton was profoundly bittersweet. He brought me (and still does bring) so much joy and so many sweet moments, but I also have to fight so much fear and aching. I love him with my whole heart, so much so it hurts.

It is unfortunately a reality of life after loss I think.  There is a consistent looming feeling that something is missing, something that cannot be retrieved, and I don't think that feeling ever really goes away. So I am forcing myself to learn some new skills. I can feel myself getting stronger in that way.  I used to be afraid to feel happy because I knew an avalanche of sadness was waiting to steal it, and it was exhausting. I am teaching myself to handle the sadness better now so when I feel the happiness I don't fight it.  I know the happiness will still be worth it even if I have to spend a few minutes crying in the shower. It is just how my life is now.  It is kind of like getting in shape.  At the beginning it hurts, it is hard to breath, and the recovery is crippling,  But over time a workout that used to be hard becomes standard and recovery happens more quickly.  That is me these days: feeling stronger and bouncing back a bit faster.

Thinking back to my happiest time has made me hungry to feel that way again.  I feel that my happiest memories don't have to be found only in my past anymore.  I'd like to be brave and see what happiness I can add back into my life. It is all around me.  I just have to let it in somehow.

It's kind of exciting actually.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Telling Your Story

After Aubrey and Ellie died I was hellbent on making sure they did not become our family secret.  The thought that their lives would be kept on the down-low so that other people were not made uncomfortable by their tragic story was unacceptable to me. They are my children, their lives counted, and I wanted people to know about them. 

In the beginning I will admit I took it too far.  I told complete strangers that my babies just died.  I sprung it on the checkout girl and the passenger next to me on the plane. I regularly mortified others and embarrassed myself by bursting into tears in a public place, but in all honesty, I didn't care. It was one of the few things that gave me a strange sense of comfort.  I was Aubrey and Ellie's ambassador. If I didn't represent for them, who would? 

My passion to carry a torch for them still burns white-hot but thankfully it has evolved.  Instead of shocking the sweet checkout girl I have Teamotions.  My tea company allows me to tell the world about my girls in a way that touches hearts instead of stuns them.  My girls have a powerful legacy now that is worthy of them and brings me a profound sense of peace.  

I find so much comfort in telling Aubrey and Ellie's story this way that I wanted to make it possible for other mothers to use it too. 

The babylost community is a diverse one.  And we all choose to honor our babies in different ways.  Some of us outwardly, others more privately.  Yet, some of us are struggling to find the right way to tell others about the babies we've lost.  If this is you, let Teamotions help you.

We've created a work from home business opportunity that is touching lives.  Our Teamotions Consultants draw from their own life experience and compassion to comfort others with our message of hope and healing through tea. Our consultants have a powerful story to tell and they use Teamotions as a platform to tell it. It is a safe and appropriate place to tell your story in a way that moves, inspires, and offers hope to others. Being able to give back and encourage others in their difficulties is a powerful healing tool.  It transforms our pain from crippling to empowering and heals our hearts in an inexplicable way. 

Nothing will fully remove the pain of losing our babies.  Everyday I wake up and miss my girls.  I just miss them.  And I'd trade my company and all the good it has done in two second flat to have my girls back.  But my girls are not coming back so I have decided to embrace this amazing opportunity to do some good for others and if a little of that good spills over to mend my own aching heart I am okay with that too.  

If this post has touched your heart and you would like to use Teamotions to tell your story and become a Teamotions Consultant please contact me at rachel@teamotionstea.com.  Also, download this information PDF about how being a consultant works.  Please check out our website as well www.teamotionstea.com for more information about our teas.

If you'd like to taste our teas or experience a Teamotions tea tasting please find a consultant in your area by going to the where to find page on our website or contact me.  I highly recommend experiencing a tea tasting.  They are not tea parties but interactive, educational, and inspiring tastings where you will learn all about our company, our teas, and how to foster hope and healing through tea.  Tastings are free and truly life changing.

Sign up to be a Teamotions Consultant by Jan 25th and recieve 3 free tins of tea to sell at 100% profit-that is a $42 value!  

If you know someone who would love to be a Teamotions consultant, send me their name, email, and phone number and if they sign up I will send you a free tin of tea of your choice to say thank you for the referral.  

Together we can get our message of hope and healing to all who need it. 

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