10 Years of Feeling Big

March is filled with a lot of emotional change for me. It’s the spring equinox and in our part of the world when the snow melts and weeds are cleared away and green growth that has been buried in the dark reaches for the sun. It’s a month where six years ago I found out about a surprise pregnancy and lost it in a traumatic first miscarriage at home. It’s a month where five years ago my rainbow baby boy came bursting into this world just after the season changed and made our family complete. (In fact, all my babies were born within three weeks time from the end of March through early April, like so many mama animals in this world spring is for birthing time for me.) It’s a month where ten years ago I got laid off from a shitty job and it changed everything. I left what I thought I knew and wanted behind in a radical move. It’s been a decade since I talked my family into doing The Compact for a New Year’s Resolution - committing to not buying anything new (except toiletries and food) for an entire year. It was the year I started this blog, originally called Doin’ It All, Idaho Style, where one of my first blog posts as a mommyblogger was about being featured as a “Laid Off Loser” in a local column of others hit hard by the recession. It was the year I Googled “why am I fat and happy?” turning me onto fat acceptance launching me into body image activism.

I’d never been offered or sought out professional birth photography before but in hindsight wish I would’ve. St. Als Hospital where Arlo was born in 2014 sent a young woman around to see if we wanted some candid professional portraits in our room before leaving and I’d just gotten out of the shower and had wet hair and a maternity tee shirt and he was naked in his baby blanket and I’m so glad I said yes please. I sobbed when I saw these.

I’d never been offered or sought out professional birth photography before but in hindsight wish I would’ve. St. Als Hospital where Arlo was born in 2014 sent a young woman around to see if we wanted some candid professional portraits in our room before leaving and I’d just gotten out of the shower and had wet hair and a maternity tee shirt and he was naked in his baby blanket and I’m so glad I said yes please. I sobbed when I saw these.

I stumbled across this Sharon Olds poem again this month in one of my favorites, her collection called The Dead & the Living from 1983 and this just pierced my heart.

I stumbled across this Sharon Olds poem again this month in one of my favorites, her collection called The Dead & the Living from 1983 and this just pierced my heart.

I got to drive to Northern Idaho to be the keynote speaker at Lewis-Clark State College’s Women’s Leadership Conference on International Women’s Day a few weeks ago. The sun was shining on the glittering snow and I relished in the silence and the alone time in my truck to listen to whatever I wanted. I devoured Glennon Doyle’s audio version of her memoir Love Warrior about her own unbecoming, her own story of motherhood and activism and marriage and finding her purpose and her voice. Listening to her story I was struck with the reminder that it was pregnancy that gave me the permission I had been looking for all along to be big. Like always happens for me when I’m pregnant, possibly due to nausea and a loss of appetite, I lost weight when I was pregnant and for the first time in my life wanted to gain more. I was free to eat almost anything and everything and as much of it to help sustain and build the little life inside me. I couldn’t wait to buy larger clothing to accommodate my ample belly and breasts. It was after the birth of my first daughter and again with my second that I realized my big body had no purpose or “excuse” any longer and that made me sad, and then angry, and then defiant. What if I didn’t need my baby girls to give me a reason to be so big? Or what if they were, in fact, the reason I should be claiming that space?

This photo was taken the week I got a surprise, nasty and traumatic layoff from my job as the Associate Curator at the Boise Art Museum, days before Alice’s 1st birthday and she took her first steps. Lucy was 4-years-old. It felt like the worst thing that could happen to me but turned out to be the best thing.

This photo was taken the week I got a surprise, nasty and traumatic layoff from my job as the Associate Curator at the Boise Art Museum, days before Alice’s 1st birthday and she took her first steps. Lucy was 4-years-old. It felt like the worst thing that could happen to me but turned out to be the best thing.

And, wow, have I ever claimed some space in the past decade. I’ve found my voice and it’s getting louder. I’m getting bigger and braver than I ever thought possible. I’ve now got three kids who I see doing the same and it’s magnificent to watch. I’ve become a more prolific writer, artist, gardener, activist and public speaker. And now I’ve got thousands of others following along here doing impossible things and being big and beautiful and radical alongside me.

This photo was snapped just after I ended my keynote speech on taking up space and fat feminism at the Lewis-Clark State College Women’s Leadership Conference a few weeks ago on International Women’s Day. This standing ovation really shook me up.

This photo was snapped just after I ended my keynote speech on taking up space and fat feminism at the Lewis-Clark State College Women’s Leadership Conference a few weeks ago on International Women’s Day. This standing ovation really shook me up.

It’s also the 4th anniversary of being diagnosed with perimenopause, and these perimenopausal symptoms have reached a fever pitch lately, just in time for my middle daughter to start her own hormonal shift into puberty and with a teenager and a toddler we’re just a wild mess of emotions. I can cry at the drop of a hat and I’m feeling a lot of things really intensely. I’ve always had a strong sense of nostalgia and I try to remember that each March as it rears up but this year it seems to be even more so with this big anniversary/birthday looming. I’ve also had to deal with some really shitty things and recourse for this work and how it’s affected my family. So while its definitely worth it I can’t say it hasn’t come without its complications, some of them very serious, especially lately. I’ve lost a lot but gained so much more. It’s been a hard ten years but what a fanfuckingtastic ride it’s been.

If I could only tell my 33-year-old self that I’d be so fierce and fat and fabulous and changing the world and being banned from Facebook every other fucking month in ten years and being so big.

If I could only tell my 33-year-old self that I’d be so fierce and fat and fabulous and changing the world and being banned from Facebook every other fucking month in ten years and being so big.

A DECADE.

Happy birthday to this little blog that grew up. And happy anniversary to this girl who grew up, too, and so many other important moments that have made me who I am. Here’s to rebirth and living and unbecoming and feeling and being bigger.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d have a full page nude photo in an international magazine at the age of 43. Here’s to taking up ALL THE SPACE in media everywhere with our fat, fearless unphotoshopped bodies and unabashed joy to be living in them. The  Fabuplus  spring issue is out now.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d have a full page nude photo in an international magazine at the age of 43. Here’s to taking up ALL THE SPACE in media everywhere with our fat, fearless unphotoshopped bodies and unabashed joy to be living in them. The Fabuplus spring issue is out now.