Losing My Religion

Recently my mind has been swimming with all the insanity out there. So much so, that I’ve been unable to write. I missed posting this past Wednesday because the feelings I’m experiencing transcend words. The paltry words I have are inadequate to express my soul.

I am deeply worried about the presidential election, I’ve truly come to think of it as a circus. I am worried about the messages my daughters are getting. I am worried about the messages I am getting.

I simultaneously feel that I am in the spotlight, in a way losing my religion, and that I am invisible.

My religion, more than anything, can be summed up in a Paul Wellstone quote that I have talked about before.


I mean, we really do, don’t we? It’s not a dream, we are all in the spotlight. Are we going to help others do better?

Content Warnings: Why I Appreciate Them

There has been a lot of talk recently about trigger warnings, content warnings, and safe spaces. I’ve seen it in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I’ve experienced it working in a public higher education institution.

I am someone who is extremely appreciative of content warnings, so this is something I’ve really given a lot of thought to. Why do I appreciate them so much?

**Content Warning: partner violence, sexual assault. **


As a survivor of partner violence and sexual assault I appreciate content warnings. I appreciate them, not because I want to avoid talking about the hard topics, but because we live in a society that is full of triggers that are unavoidable.

I appreciate trigger warnings because every day, at least a few times, I have to work hard to keep it together when E is crying and shouting “No, stop, stop!” as I change her diaper and brush her hair.


I appreciate trigger warnings because sometimes (but not always) I get really angry when I’m washing dishes. I was sometimes forced to while he and his friends played Rock Band.

I appreciate trigger warnings because I never know what kind of apologist language I’m going to be exposed to driving to work.

I appreciate trigger warnings because there are some people in my life who take, without any thought to what the consequences might be for the person they are taking from.

I appreciate trigger warnings so that if there is a day where I know a hard conversation is going to be had, I can think about the experiences I have already had and make a conscious decision to avoid specific content that day.


I need trigger warnings where I can get them because a lot of my emotional energy is devoted to keeping it together when a trigger crops up without warning.

So no – I do not ask for content warnings because I want to avoid talking about the hard things. I ask for them because I do want to talk about challenging topics but I also need to be a functioning member of society.


#LinkYourLife Birthday Celebration

I’ve talked about Link Your Life a couple times over the last few months when they had a birthday and responding to an emergency prompt to help a member of our community.

At first, it was just a weekly event where I would link up a blog post I had written that was applicable to my life in that week. Shawna and Shareen were (and continue to be) fantastic and gracious hosts.

Over these past months though, Link Your Life has become so much more to me than the link roundup. It has become a community where I belong.

Today is Shareen’s birthday and to celebrate, Devon Hall (another stellar host that has been added into the fold, she rocks!) has asked our community how Link Your Life has changed your life as a parent, writer, blogger, or human.

September 13 Birthday.jpg

How can I even begin?

Truly, I would have to say that Link Your Life and its fantastic hosts have lifted the feelings of inadequacy I often find myself faced with. We are a group of imperfect people sharing pieces of our lives, offering compassion, and building a community of friendship and understanding.

Linked Your Life shows me, almost daily, that it is okay to feel overwhelmed. It is okay to step back from things and take care of yourself. It is okay to just be you. And being comfortable with yourself is radical and life changing on every level.

September 13 Be Yourself.jpg

The Lyrical Stylings of Rachel

On a relatively regular basis, I receive demands to sing songs. If you are the parent of a toddler, you know exactly what I’m talking about there.

The problem is, the requests I get are for songs that often do not exist – or if they do I certainly don’t know them. While I’m not even close to being as talented as my brother, Caleb, I think I do okay.

It’s true that sometimes I cop out – when asked to sing “The Donald Song” I simply belt out:

Who’s the leader of the club

That’s made for you and me?


Donald Duck

Donald Duck!

Forever may we hold your banner high, high high!

But other creations are slightly more inventive. I share them with you now in the hope of inspiring you to develop your own songs, or at least to make you feel better about your own lyrical skills.

The Carwash Song

I was driving down the highway just the other day

Then a bug hit my dash and I said

“Hey, no way!

I’ll take you to the carwash

That is what I will do

I’ll polish off the dash until it’s free from poo”

At the carwash, yeah

At the carwash, yeah

At the carwash, yyeeaahh

Hard of Hearing, Joy Killing, Rage Raptor

You might think I’m just a regular mom

I give you cookies with a smile

And I’ll sing you a song

But then daddy asks for some sausage

He’s just gone too far

This is when I turn into a



Daddy’s learned his lesson

He knows better than to ask

He can make his own sausage

Or he’ll get a


Kicking his. . . butt

August 31 hard of hearing joy killing rage raptor

Feeding your baby is a radical act

I am a warrior.

I am afraid.

I am angry.

I am tired.

I am working in a falsely supportive work environment where I, like Hollie McNish, am tired of being polite. I am tired of advocating for myself over

and over

and over


I am a woman who has chosen to breastfeed her babies. I am also a woman who has to work outside her home. I am a woman who produces better while pumping if I can work while I pump – none of this sniffing A’s clothes, looking at her photos, or watching videos for me.

And yet, because the law requires that my employer provide “adequate unpaid break time” my employer requires me to take my break time when I would prefer to work.

Can we please



support parents in doing what works for their families as long as their babies are being fed?

We All Do Better When We All Do Better

I’ve been back to work for two days now. That’s two days of dropping Ada off with her grandma and dropping Elizabeth off at daycare – the first time she’s ever gone to a “regular” daycare. That’s two days of pumping four times a day and all the washing and drying that goes along with that.  It’s two days of harried evening preparations; packing lunches, making sure the diaper bag is ready to go, getting the crock pot ready so I just have to turn it on before I walk out of the house for the day.



It’s also two days of more adult interaction than I’ve had in months. It’s two days of figuring out a problem more complex than “How do I take this shirt off without getting poop in Elizabeth’s hair?”.  It’s two days with a concrete reason to put on something besides sweat pants. It’s two days of a guaranteed warm cup of coffee.


In other words, there are a lot of mixed feelings here.

I feel tired, the preparation is a lot to handle!

I feel happy, it’s nice to be back in the world.

I feel lucky that I was able to go to Ada’s two-month check-up before coming back to work. I wasn’t able to do that with Elizabeth and it was devastating.

More than anything though, I really do feel frustrated. I feel frustrated because I really just want to be home with my girls. I want to be able to nurse Ada when she wants to be nursed – instead of pumping on a very strict schedule. I want to dance to “Wannabe” with Elizabeth when it comes up on my iPod.

I also feel frustrated because we can do so much better! Paid parental leave makes good economic sense and supporting families might mean that the idea of American Exceptionalism has some substance to it.

This certainly isn’t my first time encouraging you to advocate for paid parental leave, and I suspect it won’t be the last. If you’re not sure who your Representative or Senator is, just click here and here.

It’s just like the late, and great, Paul Wellstone said; “We all do better when we all do better.”


I Will Not Be Afraid

One of my favorite things about my #LinkYourLife community is how we all lift each other up. It keeps me coming back, even when I end up taking an accidental break from writing for a month.

Shawna over on The Honeyed Quill posted an emergency writing prompt to help out a member of our community and I am so happy to dive in!

We have all been hurt. Write the hurt.

We’ve all had a moment of regret. Write the regret. 

We have all triumphed. Write the triumph. 

How are you stronger? What have you learned about yourself? How is your life changed?

The experience I am going to be sharing may have some triggers for survivors of sexual or partner violence. Please proceed with caution.

I struggled with what to write for this prompt. Shawna is absolutely right, we’ve all been hurt and triumphed over the experience. But what experience can I share?

Then it came to me – an experience I had during the Spring 2011 semester. It was my third semester at Metropolitan State University and I was enrolled in GNDR 345: Global Perspectives on Gender.

It was a wonderful class and I learned a lot. I worked hard, did the work, but about half way through the semester I hit a wall. Not an academic wall (okay, not only an academic wall. Midterm is usually when I start experiencing extreme mental fatigue) but an emotional one. We were going to be talking about groups that use rape as a tool of war. There was a member of my class who had previously displayed a pretty misogynistic attitude and I felt extremely confident that he would be pretty vocal in saying that the women experiencing such horrific crimes were actually having the best sexual experiences of their lives.

I didn’t go to class. I couldn’t go to class. This class mate of mine had already provided some fairly triggering commentary and he didn’t seem to care.

According to the syllabus, we were going to be talking about that topic the next week, so I didn’t go again. After the third week of not attending class, and not communicating with my professor, I knew I needed some help.


I had decided to pursue a B.A. in Gender Studies so that I could help other women like me.  How could I do that if I couldn’t face the course work required?

I went to my University counseling center and started seeing a therapist. After our first session, I went back to class. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember how incredible my professor was (I never did tell her what happened). She didn’t fail me, despite the fact that I had missed more than the two allowable absences. I got a B in the class, a fact that I am very proud of.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender Studies in August of 2012.


My journey isn’t over – I still need to figure out what the next step is for me. But now I know that whatever I decide to do, I will be able to help women like me who have experienced abuse from their loved ones.


Motherhood in a larger context

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