World Naked Bike Ride Portland 2017 WNBR

A Lesson in Body Positivity

This past weekend I rode my bike completely nude with tens of thousands of strangers in Portland, Oregon.

For years, I thought I understood the reason for this wild parade of strangers: a protest on fossil fuel, bike rights and safety, and of course the biggest component of all: Getting naked to advocate for body positivity.

It wasn’t until I joined in on this spectacle that I became fully aware of the importance of the ride: In the past it felt enough to attend and show support just by being there. But my hangups over getting stripped down prevented me from joining in because, well, what if people look at me?

Well that’s kind of the point.

World Naked Bike Ride 2017 WNBR Body Positive #effyourbodystandards

I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that when I arrived in the park, I was searching for a tree or bush to get undressed behind.

Initially, I was too embarrassed to just take it all off in the middle of an open field among so many others who were already undressed. I reminded myself why I was there and forced myself to strip down, trying not to look like I was raised by a conservative East Coast family. My cheeks went red, but my body was relieved. It was after all, dusk and still 80+ degrees out. I stashed my clothes in my bag and started walking with my bike, trying not to stare at anyone, trying to get underneath why I was so uncomfortable. And then it hit me.

World Naked Bike Ride 2017 Portland WNBR

As women especially, we’ve been cultivated to look at other women and compare ourselves to them.

We do it all day, every day and mostly without knowing it. We do it to judge and ultimately see how we measure up against others—hereby judging ourselves. We make assumptions based on what we see and discount all the life that has taken place in between: A bad hair day, a parking ticket, a death in the family. And then our minds file all that visual proof so we can use it to apply to ourselves destructively, as needed. When we become mothers, we do the same with our children in tow and sometimes allow ourselves to spoon feed this disgusting habit directly into their mouths because we fear we might have to explain to them what it’s like to be different, as thought it were a bad thing. Especially when all we really want is for them to belong.

World Naked Bike Ride Portland 2017 WNBR

But I learned that removing the barrier of clothes, that cheap and easy veil of judgement, that we really do all belong. And that even though it felt vulnerable to remove the fake security that clothing suggested to me at the start, it really was a relief. What started as a feeling of powerlessness, transformed into overwhelming strength and empowerment by the end of the night.

I realized that when nakedness is normalized, beauty comes into crystal clear focus, and judgement falls away.

World Naked Bike Ride 2017 Portland WNBR

I felt this empowerment take over especially for women. That for the time being, our bodies had a day off. A time-out from being exploited, shamed and encouraged to play the comparison game. We took a hiatus from being the driver of mass marketing. That for just one night our bodies could have a free moment to not be the reason food and beer looks tastier. That we could forget the torture of why bodies look so damn fresh and clean with soap running down a flat stomach unmarred by the scars of a difficult childbirth.

World Naked Bike Ride Portland 2017 WNBR

That I could let myself stare, oogle and giggle at all of our bodies under a better light of hope: We are different. We are shapely. We are defined by our lines, angles, our scars, our lives. What we have underneath is better than what you see on top. And it is all beautiful and exactly as it should be. Exactly you.

Please, let’s agree to stop looking at one another like we’re earmarking it for days we need to feel better or worse about ourselves. Let’s agree to notice when we are and to interrupt our thoughts by recalling the day we rode next to one another, free from judgement. Let’s embrace our thighs, our tummies, our hips and our strength; Let’s group it all together and pass it on like a gift. And let’s share all of it day after day with our kids. I promise to.

Exposed and loving it,

So-Called Mom

How to Treat Yourself Daily

I posted before about the importance of lingerie and feeling sexy, but I’d like to get underneath why it’s important, key pieces to purchase, and how all of it links to self care.
If you’re anything like me, your days are insane. We run errands marathon-style, eat while balancing a baby on one hip, are signing off on homework, supervising  special projects (and sometimes ending up doing them yourself), cleaning up spills and vomit and doing endless loads of laundry. That’s why it’s critical, and I mean critical, to wear something special underneath it all. I like to think of it as the mom version of the Wonder Woman costume.
So-Called Mom
Many women mistakenly believe that lingerie is for the men in their lives, or worse, only for women who don’t have kids. But I disagree. Lingerie is for YOU. It’s what can make the difference between feeling like a discarded piece of toast and my truly awesome self.
When you take the time to select something for yourself that is pretty and sexy and maybe even makes you feel like “Yowza! I look hot!” you are communicating to yourself: I am worth it.
So-Called Mom
What’s more, is not only am I worth it, but nobody has to know exactly why I feel so worth it. Trust me when I say it will translate on the outside. It makes getting dressed a routine that has become so much more than putting on underwear. It’s my daily discreet push towards increased self love.
So I’ll indulge in a so-called lingerie 101.  I’m not plugging a brand for any particular reason; it’s just my personal taste.  You’ll find yours.
While Victoria’s Secret is not an abomination, I don’t consider it lingerie. I just don’t feel special in their mass produced boudoir-wear. That’s not to say every piece I own is an expensive splurge, but there are pieces that exist that are fairly priced considering your sexy-mama ROI.
These are my top picks:
Expensive or not, the most important thing you can do is protect your investment. 
So-Called Mom
This means putting your unmentionables into a small collapsible soft pouch outside of your regular laundry basket when they are dirty.
Then, it’s time to welcome the regular ritual of Sunday lingerie washing with open arms. I wash them all by hand carefully using a detergent made by The Laundress, a mild  detergent that is so wonderful to work with, you’ll wonder where its’ been all your life. Just wash and hang dry. I suspend my lingerie above my claw foot tub, if anything, just so I can feel frivolous, important and maybe even a little bit French.
So-Called Mom
This ritual has been life changing for my Sundays, the day when most of our kids from our blended family transition to their other parents’ homes. It started out as a distraction from this huge weekly change, but now I absolutely need to do this, because it helps me feel worth it, feminine and most of all, like I’m spending significant time in self care mode. Which doesn’t just include a Sunday mask and extreme downtime/meditation—but also taking the time to prepare these beautifully designed little pieces for the week ahead. 
Like I’m asking them for a favor in return: You take care of me, and I’ll take care of you. A pact.
So-Called Mom
After they are clean, put them on display, make them front and center in your dresser, or give them a drawer of their own. Never fold padded bras with one cup flipped inside out, tucked into the other. Let them lie flat, against one another. Fold your panties special too, by tucking the left side and right side behind the front and folding the bottom to the back. Bows and lace out!
So-Called Mom
Hopefully by now, you don’t think I’m crazy. But there’s another layer to this. My girls have caught on. It won’t be long before they’ll be shopping for their own matching sets, understanding the subtle art of the underpinnings. To me, this demonstrates (early on) the importance of taking care of yourself—a value that is so personal, you can only understand it by trying it and seeing how you feel and how others respond to it.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your take. Time for a mood, booty and soul-sexy overhaul!
With or Without Garters,
So-Called Mom

How to Transform into a Fit Mom

I just hired a personal trainer—online. This goes against all my so-called principles; I rant and rave about the web/screen use feeding social detachment.  But here I am:  needing motivation to work out and not having time or money to have an in-person relationship.
I’m not a gym rat. I like to workout at home or outdoors. I need flexible times. And I’m not personally loaded.  I’m sure this all sounds familiar.
so-called mom yoga
Until now, I’ve been able to motivate myself.  I’m oddly disciplined about exercise, maybe given the decades of dance and yoga I’ve practiced.  I like to think I’m in pretty good  shape for having birthed five out of our seven kids, but I’ve plateaued.  I think it’s time to go the extra mile.  I want to see where I get in 4 weeks under this remote trainer’s dominating reign.
My reasons for going with Ainsley are simple. First, she reached out to me on Instagram and asked how she could help. I love that. Second, her website is remarkable. She speaks the truth about getting to the bottom of what you need to be eating for your body in order to feel great, in addition to looking great. She’s fierce (in the workout room, in menu-planning, in kindness). She’s upbeat and encouraging. What more could a So-Called Mom want?
I’d like to add that being a fit mom is a challenge in and of itself. But it contributes to my whole purpose for writing this blog: To put an end to the stories we tell ourselves about motherhood.  I want to change what having five kids looks like. I want to look ripped and have amazing energy and be able to drop jaws after saying: I’ve had five kids. I want to set the bar that moms can be fit and sexy and yes, put themselves first without feeling guilty. When you have kids, you are bringing them into your life. They aren’t bringing you into theirs. And keeping this perspective is better for everyone in the family—because you will never loose sight of yourself, and they will learn about self worth from the best example available: their mom.
So Called Mom Fitness
I also want to bust the “but I’ve had kids” myth. Having kids should motivate you—to look better, eat better and feel better. They are watching us, so be the change you wish to see in them. There is no time like now to get started.
So what do you say? Are we in this together? I’m so excited to share this journey with you. So let’s quit making excuses and let’s get fit, moms! We are only limited by ourselves. If I can do it, there is no reason you can’t.
Bring it on,
So-Called Mom

So-Called Letting Go

Some things are easy to write and talk about and others, not so much. 
At the top of this list is the glaring fact that my kids are getting older. And not just this, but it is the first time in almost 20 years that I haven’t had a baby in the house. That’s a sentiment that raises even my eyebrows. In addition, referring to 5 year old Leopold as a baby lately has become an embarrassing habit that I recently have forced myself to break. I don’t even think I allowed him to transition to toddler-hood. He was always the baby, and now he’s a kid. A big kid—a kindergartener for crying out loud.
so-called mom
So–no babies for this mom, plus most of my kids that are now taller than me, mixed in with the fact that time definitely doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all and you have one hot matriarchal mess.
To help me cope with my new discovery, I’m laying out my obvious fears in the scrutinizing daylight:
1.  All I have known is being a mom who is deeply connected (dependent even?) to her kids. In a world where everything can be up in the air, being a mom was the one grounding thing I could be sure of. They don’t really need me as much these days—now what? Well, now I’m not so sure of anything.
2.  For the last ten years, Pippin and I have raised a blended family together. We have never known each other without our kids in the mix. When the last of the blend is off to live their own life, what will happen to ours?
3.  The idea of not being this all-systems-go mom that I have grown accustomed to, has me suddenly feeling like I don’t know my name. Sure I’m not quite 40 yet and I’m not one of those people who believes that 40 is old, but it does make me wonder: what exactly will I do when they are all gone?
4.  Did I even do a good job? 
So-Called Mom
I had my first kid, Jake, when I was 22 and I have always sworn that he was the thing that kept me on track, kept me out of trouble, kept me working harder than ever. I always say/think/feel that I was nothing before I had kids….so does that translate as the same after they fly the coop? Will I become nothing again? Bored? A trouble maker? These are real concerns of mine that anyone could flag as being fodder for a potential crisis. But I don’t want a crisis—midlife or otherwise. I want a transition point. I want to slow down time and create a gradual turn into this next stage. I want to savor this age, as awkward as it is for myself, the kids and the whole family in general. And then I want to accept that change, as scary as it is.
so-called mom
So what do I do to keep myself from doing anything drastic, like having another baby to fill this sudden void? I think I’m supposed to accept the discomfort of the void, and fill it with something else. Like self care for instance. Something I’m good at, but only after everything else is done—like most moms, I’m guessing. I consider myself a low maintenance person. It’s not that I put myself last, it’s just that I—outside of binge shopping for a self medicated distraction—I don’t always see to it that my needs are met until it’s just about too late.
So-Called Mom
Interestingly enough, that’s exactly the point—the problem— really. I have kids, seven of them: which means my needs are met through them. And now I’m realizing that isn’t sustainable.
so-called mom
So the new goal here is to slow it down, mom-wise. To make a steady transition to being a mom with kids that have grown their own wings. And to address the lack of having a baby– on my yoga mat. And come to a place where I can be OK without taking care of anyone but myself, and Pippin of course.
Switching Gears,
So-Called Mom

How to Dress Your Husband

I hate the way my husband dresses. I know that’s mean to say, but I know I’m not alone here.  I could poke fun and just leave it at that, but hey…I’m choosing instead to give him a hand.  So you’re welcome.
Armed with some funds from our newly stocked bank account, I decided to let my fingers do the walking and comb the Internet. It felt a little reckless, but it also felt so damn solution oriented.
Thanks to my effort,  there are days now when his outfits are not so bad—but those days wear down quickly because once he catches on that I like something he has on, it gets a repeat performance until I’m bored to tears.
I will also add that I’m not a fan of the always sporty look. I know he doesn’t appreciate the forever yoga look I easily could have going on, so it seems fair game to enforce the same with him. I’m also a believer in mixing it up:  definitely shift up the genres. He’s not a suit guy; he’s a comfort guy. A breathability guy. Style is my thing but it’s going to become his…thanks to me.  
Again, you’re welcome.
I guess you could call this a Pippin Makeover, without his knowing it. Not that he would object – he’s just not that concerned with any of it except to please me.  And for me, it’s imperative that I look good. When I do, the world is an open book and I can write how it goes. Whenever we’re going somewhere, he invariably groans, I feel like I’m bringing your whole look down.  I think Pippin is stunning, and he ages like fine wine…so I’ve decided to quit thinking he will step it up and instead, just step it up for him.
Today his first order of clothes arrived. And I unboxed everything and showed him what I bought. As I held up one shirt I liked,  he exclaimed, Oh, this one isn’t bad. I could mow the yard wearing it. I quickly had to interrupt his thinking: Your whole wardrobe is mow-worthy. This is the shirt you can date me in. 
So from round one: He only has two send backs. Shorts that I agreed don’t look very him and a lavender linen shirt that I was sure he’d go gaga over. But the seersucker pants get to stay! As does everything else. The next line of order is shoes–and If I have it my way, his Adidas flip flops will find their way to the garage, right beside the mower.
Decked out,
So-Called Mom