My new year’s resolution? To unleash the power of being gentle in a hard world

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Throughout this last year, I have found myself feeling heavy—not depressed, but weighed down.

The state of our country and world is likely the leading cause of this heaviness.

Wrapped in that, of course, is everything that has transpired with women regaining our voices in 2017. This is hugely awesome of course—the persistence and fierceness that we are wielding is awe-inspiring.

But to be head-on confronting this beast that’s been breathing fire in our faces for...well, forever—has made many of us realize just how heavy this weight has been, and how long we have carried it.

Under the weight of this load, my steps have grown lead-footed. My posture has slouched forward. My brow has furrowed.


We feel it as women and as mothers. We feel it at work and in our social circles. We feel it, perhaps most strongly, in how we think about and talk to ourselves. The doubt, the fear, the silence—it’s been so heavy.

But now that we’ve noticed it, we are doing the work to shed it.

The effort of women around the world—women that I have never met but that are fighting for me, women that I will never meet but plan to fight passionately for—is working.

Now I am ready to approach my life with gentleness.

Not weakness. Far from it. My storm has just begun—and it’s wild.

But gentleness.

Gentleness that comes from lifting this burden off my shoulders, stretching my arms up and being free.

Gentleness that comes from feeling strong and empowered for the first time in this society, maybe ever.

Gentleness that comes from welcoming my self-worth and value.

I think that gentleness is a form of confidence that comes from recognizing how forceful we actually are. We have the very real capacity to unleash that force with precision when need be. And we have the confidence to recognize our own flame, and tend to it with the loving care it deserves.

So in 2018—

I will be gentle on myself.

I am done trying to change myself. Because finally, over the course of the last year, I have stopped caring what other people think. I can stop spending my days making sure that everyone likes me and start spending them loving myself.

I will continue to be kind, I will continue to apologize when I make mistakes. But I will not continue to apologize for not fitting into a mold that was created for me, by someone I don’t even know.

I am good enough. As I am. In my natural state.

I will be gentle on my body.

For so long I have ignored my body—it’s been screaming at me, but I’ve tuned it out. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’ve felt like it’s gotten in the way. Maybe because I’ve absorbed the message that in order to be ‘successful’ I have to power through the fatigue and discomfort. But I am tired.

So I am going to be gentle on my body by listening to it. I plotted out my schedule with less to do, to allow more room for to don’t.

When I am tired, I am going to sleep. Even if it’s at 9 p.m. every night that week.

When I am hungry, I am going to decide what my body needs to be fueled with, not what I can shovel in as fast as possible to fill the hunger void. As food educator Annemarie Cantrell says, “Sometimes it will need salads [way more than it gets now], but sometimes it will need a burger with fries.”

When I need to move, I will respond—not with “I’m far too busy to go to the gym” but with “Am I in the mood for yoga, Zumba, or a dance party with my kids?”

I will be gentle on my children.

I practice attachment parenting. I try so hard not to raise my voice, and I never use physical force with them. Still, too often, I rush through our days in a way that feels sharp or harsh. We scoot from one place to the next with my constant uttering of, “Come on guys, quick like bunnies, please!”

When I play with them, I am often scattered and thinking about all the things I am not doing but should be doing. Bedtime feels like a finish line, not a bonding time.

I am craving gentleness. The gentleness of a day spent in our pajamas reading books and building towers, with absolutely no agenda.

The gentleness of a movie that I watch with them, not put on so I can ‘get some stuff done.’

The gentleness of stopping to watch the “eagles” (they’re just seagulls) in the mall parking lot with them, and being equally as fascinated.

The gentleness of allowing them to drag out bedtime, even if it means me falling asleep in their beds next to them—and loving every second of it.

My word for 2017 was fierce. And I kinda nailed it ?—we all did. Because of that, it’s now time for gentleness.

My gentleness will look like:

Audacious self-acceptance
Relentless self-care
Radical love

And from that gentleness, my audacious, relentless, radical power will grow strong, and join with women around the world in raising this mighty movement that we have given birth to.

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.


"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!


In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.


Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]


Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."


Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).


Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.


Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.


A fellow mama

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