Welcome!

A new chapter begins
Welcome, everyone.

Wow… this is a big moment.

I can assure you that in this moment, the moment this website RE-launches.. I WILL have a glass of my favorite wine in hand to celebrate because it has been an amazing ride… creating and re-creating Ancora.

I don’t think I could go into what this GRAND RE-OPENING means for me without sharing the history and story around how she came to be. So that is the purpose of this first post in this new chapter..

What brought her here and where she is going.

*And yes… Ancora Imparo is a woman.

I had been writing online since 2001.

Since my college roommate Lisa, suggested we write an email to each other saying what the high and low of our day was, after going to see the movie “The Story of Us” in the theater.

5 days a week, I wrote my high and low email of my day. First just to my roomie, then as I shared what I was doing… I got up to sending them out to 70+ people every day and writing each day was what made me most happy. I looked forward to it.

I never thought of myself as a writer but it was really cathartic. Stream of consciousness writing. I enjoyed it. I shared what I was thinking and experiencing and it was like a release.

Then in 2004, I heard for the first time, the word BLOG – a WEB LOG – sounded interesting. An online diary of sorts. Hmmm…

Then I heard of Blogspot and immediately had to get on that. A way to write every day in the SAME place and document it. I was all over that.

I created My High Low on Blogspot and started writing there everyday. *I just read my first post from 2004… WHOA.. how much has changed. How much has stayed the same.

Wrote my post on Blogspot then sent out my regular email with the link to the post to my growing.. email list. An early Email list experience.

An early funnel… who knew. If only I was selling something back then. 🙂

THEN.

Enter side stage right was my girlfriend Kyra. As I look back, she was probably the one who told me about blogspot. She was taking classes, learning how to build websites and offered to build one for me. I had no idea what that entailed but it sounded cool. I remember sitting at her kitchen table as she basically built the front page in front of me. The picture of my smile, my dimple in different colors. The half moon circles and how they would change color as you hovered over them.

I was amazed but had no idea how important what she was doing for me, was.

I didn’t have a business so this was a fun place to put ME. I had already started making greeting cards (She probably told me about Etsy too) and she made a page that I could feature them. My blog link would automatically go over to the blogspot website.. and I thought that was the coolest thing.

A place on the internet for ME. Of me.

It was so cool. We launched (okay she launched, I watched) in March 2006. SEE HERE.

Kyra taught me how to make very small changes on the website back end but for the most part I just stayed out of Ancora. I didn’t change much with the whole website… it just stood as a beacon of ME. I focused on writing on blogspot and sharing my high/low. I added a few other formats (3 things 2 things and 5,4,3,2,1 (5 things I am grateful for/4 things I can’t stop thinking about/3 things I want to accomplish this week/2 things I am working on being more positive about/1 random thing)

I loved writing. Clearly I still do.

From the start, I got a few people who told me their opinion that no one wants to read what I write, that I shouldn’t put my feelings so openly out there, and I let their opinion affect me from time to time (okay, I still do) I would stop writing.. I doubted myself. Especially when I was going through something hard. But I still felt this innate pull to share.

It’s who I am.

So in 2009, I had asked Kyra if she could find a way so I could blog off of my website. No more blogspot. I can’t remember how long it took but I was literally overjoyed when I was a one woman show. I was able to blog straight on Ancora. My last post on Blogspot here. My first post on Ancora here.

Knowing I had a home base to share everything ME has been more valuable than I could even possibly know. It is where I put my happiness/my sadness and EVERYTHING in between. I did not know what I had. Looking back.. I was one of the early creators with their own website.

Like the famous entrepreneur and media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk says…

DOCUMENT, NOT CREATE.

I was documenting my life, almost every day. I loved it.
Even when life wasn’t fun… I loved sharing what I was learning.

2009 is also when, without any warning over the 4th of July weekend, the company I worked for, the job that I loved and thought I would retire from.. SUDDENLY went bankrupt.

This experience changed my life and threw me into orbit. Violently.

I didn’t know what I was going to do.
It was traumatic to me.

If you read my high low.. you would quickly discover my disenchantment with my career.
The multiple lay offs, the confusion, the sadness…
Well I thought I found the place I was going to be a LONG TIME.
So this was a shock to the system.

AND it was 2 months before my wedding.

It changed everything.

My desire to share ended.

I just was in survival mode.
Accessing the damage.

Earlier that year, I had had an idea to support men and women who marry into the restaurant industry, marriedtoachef.com based off of a conversation I had with my then fiance about Valentines Day. I bought the url and was planning on having Kyra build Married to a Chef as a way of finding support at some point.

Well, when I lost my job.. I could not see what I was going to do. A question to my fiancee “What should I do with the rest of my life” opened a door to something I LONG thought was abandoned.

Helping other people.

Within months, I got a job with renewed focus to shift my trajectory and thought building Married to a Chef was going to be my first dive into business for myself. I went to school to become a certified life coach and was going to build Married to a Chef as my home base of how I will eventually support myself.

Married to a Chef became my priority.
Ancora slept in hibernation.
I would write on Ancora from time to time but she wasn’t my priority.

I was serious about making a shift away from my career track in design and towards one that I always felt called to.

After three years and investing a lot of time/energy and money… I wasn’t in alignment with who I want to serve. I still very much believe in my message.. but I wasn’t stepping into action with those who were coming to the site.

Simply… it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t happening.

Fast forward seven years since and well.. Married to a Chef is now in hibernation (I guess if I were honest, I saw Married to a Chef as a business out of damage control from the spinning out of orbit from the bankruptcy in 2009. I needed to hold onto something and I really thought this was going to be what stopped the spinning.)

Nope.

I had my son in Oct 2013 and when that happened… I faced the fact that I was running in place and no amount of energy was going to get me moving forward. I concluded working with the few clients I had and, put Married to a Chef on pause.

Since then, we moved from Virginia to Savannah and have been here almost three years.

In that time.. who I am has changed. I’m now a mama which has been the biggest gift of my life.

It’s almost, by having my son.. I was given permission to be MORE of who I was.

Emotional
Sensitive.
DEEP.

And that same sentiment poured out of me.

In line with be becoming a mom is also my increased desire to find out the answers to the big existential questions. What stops us from living the life of joy and happiness.
Peace and Love.

Why we constantly live in FEAR.

And… as a Searcher *If you don’t know what that is.. STOP NOW and go to this page here. (insert hyperlink) I had already been studying A Course in Miracles… a philosophy and mind training that has helped answer all the questions of

WHY?
Why pain?
Why do we struggle to receive joy?
Why is there War?
Why did God do this to us? *Answer: He/She didn’t.

I’ve been obsessed with these deep questions, in line with my own journey in my own life.

So about a year ago… I had been hearing the whispers to revive Ancora as my personal brand around teaching what I’m learning.

Ancora Imparo means “I am still learning” but about a year ago, It hit me that what I was learning meant I now needed to teach it.

As A Course in Miracles teaches…. “To Teach is to Demonstrate”

It’s time…

that I shift from student and always learning… to teacher.

Hence why this moment is upon us.

I’m ready to teach what I have been learning.
What I have been sharing SO MANY YEARS.

*Yes, even a bit of what it’s like being Married to a Chef.
Relationships
Money
Pain
Illness
Dreams

I now have a flashlight and whatever topic I shine it on.. It comes through this light… this filter.

Life as a Highly Sensitive Mama – Part Two – Breastfeeding

Leo Collage A

Okay… where was I… If you’ve missed Part One… you can read it here.

HEADS UP: This is a WAY more sensitive topic for me than how my son came into the world. This affects me every single day. Breastfeeding is a topic that many mamas feel passionate about. *I get it, I really do. I have heard everyones suggestions and thoughts about what I should do… tintures I should take and how often I should nurse. I can assure you that I am doing the BEST I can to feed my baby. Please allow me this moment to just share my experience and my sadness. If you want to help me… then SEE me and where I am. Thank you.

So… unless you didn’t know… not EVERY woman has a full supply of breast milk.

Yep… I guess I should’ve read more books… because I had NO idea that women can have supply issues. I truly thought that when the baby comes out… that the mama can feed her baby with her breasts. Sounds so… like a little girl understanding but honestly… that’s what I thought. I knew that the first few days would be colostrum… that it would take a few days for my milk to “come in”… but as soon as that happened… it’s like the faucet was turned on.

Another one of those things I wasn’t expecting… at ALL.

To begin… during my “labor” (more like a joke), I watched my doula who was breastfeeding her 6 month old, pump TWO full bottles of breast milk in like 20 minutes. Like 5 oz in each bottle. I watched with amazement and excitement that I would soon be able to do the same. In hindsight… I think seeing her do this might been a detriment to how I’m feeling about this topic. *NOT her fault at all.

So it’s normal for a baby to lose a percentage of weight loss those first few days of life. The hospital gauges that anything over a certain percentage of weight loss (my guess is 5%) that they suggest supplementing with formula until the mamas milk come in. Well if you read part one… the nurse decided to tell us this at like 2am on our second night when we could not get him to stop crying (read Second Day Syndrome) that he lost about 7% of his body weight (He started out at 6lbs to begin with…so 7% is a lot) little did we know he also was probably crying because he was really hungry. I was NOT very friendly to the nurse who suggested supplementing at 2am. NOT the time to tell us this. What? 48 hours after my son was cut out of me… I already have to give up my dreams of feeding my baby myself?  Uh HELL NO.

I try to push this out of my mind cause we were having such a not fun night.

That is.. until we were checking out… we got the news from the lactation consultant as she calmly attempted to explain it again… Leo needed to be supplemented. I think I would honestly have waited a few days if Leo started out at 8 lbs, etc… but since he was such an itty bitty and lost 7% of his weight already… that’s dipping into the 5lb range… I didn’t want to risk him losing more weight and it being dangerous. It was SO FUCKING HARD to watch him suck down that first 15ml of formula. Just thinking about it now makes me cry. The pediatrician, the nurses and the lactation consultant kept pushing that I can ween him off this formula when my milk comes in. Which I held onto like it was the secret to life.

They gave us enough formula for a few days… which I thought would be enough before I could ween him off this and onto my breast milk when the faucet turned on. The AVERAGE a womans milk comes in is 3-7 days. I thought.. okay, I could just do this for a few days. I kept breastfeeding him, hoping he was getting enough and I would argue with Peter about giving him the LEAST amount of formula so he wouldn’t get used to it.

*Side Note: That was a BIG argument… being overweight people… I didn’t want to start Leo early with the philosophy that he can eat his feelings… I know, he’s just days old but it really bothered me. It seemed that when Leo cried… and because there was no cycle yet (wake up/eat/play sleep) that it meant that he was always hungry. The only thing that helped me understand Peters philosophy is the fact that he was so little (6 lbs.) again, if he was 8lbs or more.. I probably would have pushed a bit more on this. This argument went on a LONG time. I still, 9 weeks later, still have trouble feeding him again, if he seems hungry prior to every three -four hours. More on my experience with Peter in Part Three.

Another side note: My dear kindred/coach friend Laura suggested I find a way to reframe how I see formula. See it as a positive instead of an enemy. I can see why she suggested that but I’m honestly not there yet. I am still working so hard to feed him myself … and formula is still winning. Maybe one day I will be able to, just not today.

Days would go by… and I wasn’t getting any more supply. I googled mamas who didn’t get her milk until 2 weeks… three weeks. I sat at the pump for 30… 40 minutes with barely more than a few drops coming out. I went to my pediatricians lactation consultant, hired a consultant to come to the house… and in that experience she told me that I was 90% behind where I needed to be to feed my baby exclusively. She jerry rigged a supplemental nursing system so I could experience breastfeeding while feeding him formula. Watching him actually feed at my breast and taking in a full mouthful made me SO emotional. I wanted SO BADLY to do that myself. Even today…. I still want that SO badly. I am still trying so hard. This is SO important to me.

So I can officially say that Leo is a 90% formula fed baby. I am able to pump enough to give him ONE bottle, every OTHER day. I still have him breastfeed before every bottle, so he can get as much as he can, I am taking FenuGreek three times a day to get my 3600mg daily dose, I can tell it helps but I still don’t get enough. I cannot tell you how sad I am about this. I am working SO HARD to give him whatever I can, but honestly… this is HARD. I don’t know how I will not look back on these early months in sadness because I could not feed my baby.

Hearing other moms who pump enough to feed their baby multiple bottles, who have enough to freeze and store their milk… make me sad in my soul. I would give ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING to be able to do that. In my vision as a mama… I saw breastfeeding being a part of it and honestly I feel like a death has occurred in my experiencing being a mama.

Add to that…  anyone can feed him a bottle. Grandma and Grandpa… definitely Auntie can feed him… what makes ME special as his mama? I know… everyone says that he knows I’m his mama but I’m just not sure. I feel I have lost that bond with him and I cannot tell you how much that has affected me. Yea yea.. post partum depression… I got it. I am allowed to feel THIS sadness about this.

So again….. I feel like my body has failed me yet AGAIN. There is nothing anyone can say to change this or make me feel better. It just is what it is. The ONLY thing I can do now is find a way to cope with feeling this way. I love my son SO much… seeing his beautiful million dollar smile lights up my life, but when it comes to how I’m feeling as a woman and a mama… a part of me is missing. A part of me that I’m not sure will ever be whole again.

As a Sensitive person… this was SO important to me. I will tell you that I have not always been open to considering myself a mama. It’s taken me a LONG time for me to be open to this experience and part of my vision around this was to be able to feed my baby. I feel SO raw about this… I have had two complete meltdowns about this and honestly, writing this out makes me feel like there will always be another one in tow.

That said.. I am not giving up. I will keep pumping as long as I can. I will attempt to add/change my solutions to hopefully get more supply (I hear that supply can increase up to five-six months) and I will continue to honor my sadness about this situation.

So I have two more parts of me in this sharing… Part Three is about how Leo coming into my world has affected my relationship with my husband. And the finale is how I felt before my lovebug came about having a boy.. and how I feel now.

Thank you for your support.

The New Years Eve/Birthday Paradox

Source: hollymccaigblog.com via Deborah on Pinterest

In case you didn’t know this about me…. I am a New Years Eve baby.

Born December 31st, 1974 at 11:56am in Brooklyn, NYC

I wish I could tell you that I decided, of my own accord, to join the world that day but alas, as my mother recants, I am an enduced, C-Section baby.

*How much more exciting the story would be if I just happened to arrive on that day.

No such luck.

My mothers OB/GYN was going on vacation on 1/1/1975 and wanted to deliver me beforehand.

I know for years as a youngster, I thought it would be more exciting if I told people that I was born at 11:56PM instead of AM so I could get more attention. I actually did that for years, until it started to feel so very deceiving and untrue (and I also confirmed it with my mother that I was actually born in the AM)

Two big events on one day. Another year of living, and another year of life.

It wasn’t until a few days ago, driving home with my husband from our Christmas festivities with his family, that it HIT me… ANOTHER reason why this day is SO important, so SACRED to me, and I have been aching to sit down and write it out to you (well, also to myself) so that I could get this discovery OUT of me and somewhere I could take a better look at it (and also to discuss it with you too).

So here I am. I want to talk about the PARADOX between the event/energy /fact/ritual of December 31st being both my birth-day, and also a day of new hope and beginnings  for SO many of us.

BIRTHDAY

I would say 7 out of 10 people that hear that my birthday is on New Years Eve, usually say something about how that sucks. I am quick to correct their belief by sharing my enthusiasm in that…

I LOVE my birthday. I think being born on New Years Eve is the best day of the year to be born.

As I have grown up, I have had many opportunities to pontificate why I feel the way I do.

I think the beginning part of it has always been my mothers knowing the challenges that those born in a holiday season would have, always being lost in the Christmas holiday, the confusion between Christmas and birthday gifts, so she always made me feel really special on my birthday. It was like because I was born on that day gave us an additional reason to celebrate. I never felt slighted and was always pretty excited when December 31st came around again.

*Correction: The only REALLY stinky thing was my locker was never decorated all through school, as we were always off on Christmas vacation, and cause I was a winter baby, I could never have a pool party. I remember one year I waited until the summer to have a birthday party, just so I could have a pool party. 🙂

I LOVED that I spent my 21st birthday in Times Square watching the ball drop. I LOVED my 22nd birthday was spent dancing my heart out with some good friends after moving to Savannah,GA a few days earlier.

I love that I will always have a reason to CELEBRATE on my birthday.

Most people are happier on my birthday, they’re in a festive mood. There is this BUZZ in the air, the scent of a fancy dress and a glass of champagne, somewhere in the near future.

It’s like I can hear the sound of a party horn, being blown somewhere, and somehow that makes that it’s my birthday, just a tad bit more exciting.

Secondly (and most importantly, I believe) , I always looked forward to getting older.

I think it has something to do with being A Searcher, but I have always looked forward to getting another year older, almost giddy as each year passed, that I was settling into the time when I could use that inner “old soul wisdom” that I felt so strongly inside, instead of being seen as just a kid.

Even today, as I find myself turning 38 years old, one day from now, I feel that familiar tingle of excitement that I have accumulated a bit more experience and wisdom under my belt. I’ve always felt like a Sage, and I guess there is a part of me that has always wanted to look the part.  (HMM, is that the reason why I’ve never been afraid of getting gray hair?)

I remember I was SO excited to turn 30. I was SO excited to experience what most people told me they experienced about how they REALLY got to know who they were in their 30’s.

I couldn’t WAIT.

As I’m sure you do on your birthday, you reflect on the past year, what you accomplished, how you might’ve felt defeated, and what you have to look forward to in the next 365 days of your life, on your birth-day. You make a wish, with eyes closed, as you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, sending into the ethers a vision for what the next year of life will bring.

Well I have that too.

I just get to do that on the same day that EVERYONE ELSE is doing something similar, as they look to find their word, find their resolution, search for what they want to change, as one year ticks into another.

Can you imagine how POWERFUL having both significant days happen on the SAME day could be for me?

*anyone born on this day, actually.

I actually get choked up when I think of how powerful a day it is for me. Can you imagine the energy, the hope, the excitement the significance being born on December 31st is?

I not only get a New YEAR… I get a new year of LIVING!

Deep breath in.

NEW YEARS EVE

I grew up watching Dick Clark on TV, staying up as late as I possibly could keep my eyes open, just so I could see the ball drop. I loved that my parents would have the neighbors over, and we could have a reason to be rambunctious an loud. Blowing those horns as loud as we could. Wearing fancy hats and having dad relent to making my sister and I his special “Chocolate milk” which was a glass of  Kahlua and cream (heavy on the cream) that we could taste for just this special occasion.

As an earlier memory, I distinctively remember going to an evening mass on New Years Eve with my grandpa, where the church would smell so strongly of incense, as we welcomed the new year. How I miss that smell and my grandpa so much this time of year.

I love that it always ended up that everyone had to hug and kiss each other at midnight. How I loved an opportunity to be hugged and kissed by those that loved me most.

I remember that frustration I always had when I forgot to write the new years date on my school work for a few days, until I got used to it.  An amusing frustration than anything else. *insert chuckle here, probably the same for you too, eh?

Nowadays, I love how everyone is talking about what their word is.

“What is your word for the new year?”

I don’t know when that practice became popular (maybe it always has and I wasn’t aware of it?), but I absolutely LOVE that for weeks prior to this date, so many of us are desperately searching to dive in underneath the surface to come up with one symbol of what we would like to accomplish as the ball drops and we enter a whole new year.

I’ve seen videos posted about it, blog posts written with it, and coaches talking about the importance of knowing what your word or phrase is going to be for the new year.

It’s not just a day to party, is it? It is really a time of reflection…. a symbol of another chance.

Let me say it again…

A Symbol.

We are always SO quick to just keep going, that New Years Eve is just that… a SYMBOL. One moment in time created in order to give us the permission to SLOW DOWN,  if only for ONE night…

(shoot, one MOMENT when the ball strikes twelve) Just for a second now, think back to that moment… doesn’t it seems like for that one moment, TIME seems to slow WAY down?

…. to reflect on where we are… in relation to where we want to be.

*Ah, a coaches dream.

It’s an unwritten permission slip to throw away the scribbles of the previous year, and start a new, clean fresh page, to begin again. (or, bring into the new year the things that ARE working for us. (BONUS!)

It’s a time to honor changes… births, deaths, and momentous moments of the past year, in order to make some room for new ones to come.

And then, in a flash, it’s over. It’s the new year and we’re quickly cleaning up the remains of the party, or for those in Times Square, the tedious process of cleaning all the streamers that fall from the sky as the ball drops, and we resume our lives with little significant changes to be seen.

That is…  unless we remain vigilant and steadfast in our pursuits of our desires.

That’s where the gym jokes and the diet jokes come into play.

  • Why are we unable to maintain that space… long enough to create a shift in our lives, our bodies, our dreams?
  • Why is it the flush of a new year that gives us renewed enthusiasm, and swiftly, diminish as the days pass by?

It’s the answers to these questions that have me perpetually curious, as the Searcher I am.

Maybe they do for you too.

New Years Day is usually spent feeling conflicted. We WANT so desperately to get started with our pursuits of our resolutions.. our symbolic words.. but there is this part of us that is uncomfortable knowing that tomorrow, we will return back to our day to day. The shiny and the fantastical have now simmered down and what falls into place is this dull feeling of..

Now… I have to make it happen.

It’s why a lot of us get discouraged SO easily, right? WE are the only ones that can make it happen and there is a part of us that wished that it was as magical as the energy that New Years Eve holds, right?

We can do it, many of us WILL accomplish their new years goals, because of sheer will to make it so. For most of us, we have to hit bottom so that there is nowhere to go but up.

Enough is enough.

I know that this year, this, my 38th year…beginning on January 1st, 2013, I am in many ways in that place of Enough is Enough. Somehow the knowing inside me knows that I can no longer seek/long for/wish/resolve/declare the way I have done in the past.

Hoping and wishing (and working hard to make it so) is no longer working for me, and frankly, I cannot continue doing it the same way anymore.

I feel I’ve begun to cross over a threshold, into a new way of being. A test of faith as I have NEVER experienced before, I feel is upon me. Before this year, I was still striving. I had never felt like I arrived. What I wanted was still “Out there”.

I was still “In hope.”

“Seek and do not find”

Maybe some of you have that same experience?

Hoping this would happen, that this wouldn’t happen, and looking for it to happen by feeling the absence of it in my life.

This year, and with the blessing of what I’m learning as A Course student, I charged myself with being at peace what whatever comes near me or through me this next year.

My phrase, my practice for this year is NO MATTER WHAT.

NO MATTER WHAT happens, I am significant.

NO MATTER WHAT I see, I can choose to be at peace.

NO MATTER WHAT happens, I am already worth it.

The knowing that whatever happens “out there”, that I am already complete.

There is nothing to strive for… everything I have is inside me… now.

Seek not outside yourself.

Do I have preferences? Oh Yes.

  • I would prefer that this be the year that my husband and I get pregnant.
  • I would prefer that my coaching business thrive to the point where I would not need to lean on the 9-5 as I have.

But the charge is to be at peace…. NO MATTER if that happens or not.

To be happy… NOW. To not let the lack of those accomplishments lessen my ability to feel that I am okay where I am.

In doing that… I almost automatically go to a place of happiness. And it feels really good.

I want to feel this way vs. how I’ve felt up to now which is angry and resentful (that I have not gotten pregnant yet) and sad (that I’m still relying on the 9-5 as my primary income)

This will be my practice, my mantra, my prayer in this new year… this new birth-year. To be OKAY and at peace with WHATEVER comes my way.

And to forgive myself when I fall back into hoping.

I know I will have ample opportunities to practice this, this year.
I am open to the opportunity to learn.

My wish for you in the new year is that you are at peace with wherever you are in your life.

With whether your goals manifest for you, or not.
That that doesn’t less the knowing that you are SO worth it. SO valid. SO loved.
And that nothing you do or accomplish (or happens to you) can or will EVER change that.

Happy New Year.
Happy Birthday (to me)
and THANK YOU for being a part of my journey.

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