Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Introduction: Treasuring Life

Dear TGOGL Blog Readers,

Hello! Hello!  I get to be the first to introduce myself.  My name is Robyn Allgood. I promised Felice I would try not to be too nerdy. Ha! Actually, Felice told me I could be as nerdy as I want.  And I really am just a BIG NERD!

So how did I come upon this project?  A little over a year ago I sat pregnant with my fifth baby.  I was discussing with my sister and mother pregnancy and birth.  I told them that birth had taught me a lot about the Atonement and the Savior.  My sister said, “oh really, explain that to me.” I tried to put it into words but found myself unable to articulate what I meant.

Being the birth junkie that I am I was annoyed with myself for not having the ability to explain how personal the Savior became to me as I gave life to my little ones.  So I grabbed a notebook and my scriptures and started writing.  My first draft of “Birth in Remembrance of Him” was 5 pages but soon became many more. (Don’t worry we are editing it so that it is easier to digest.)  

I admit to being afraid to share it and afraid to not share it.  I had poured my heart out in those pages and I was nervous of having it criticized.  At the same time I wanted other women to benefit from what I felt the Lord inspired me to write.  I knew He gave me the words and that He meant for them to be shared.  I saw the call for essays on this blog and decided to ignore my fears and send it in anyway.  I’m glad I did.  Felice invited me to join the group and write more. 

As I have witnessed the “offering” that each woman (and her family) has made to bring about this project I am humbled.  The women I have come to know via the internet are “wonderfully and fearfully made”(Psalms 139:14).  I think you will laugh, cry, and change as you read from the pages of this book. I know I have.

What else should you know about me?

If someone would have told me I would be a birth junkie someday I would have laughed.  I had some serious fears about birth (and anything involving blood for that matter).  My first baby was born by cesarean which taught me a lot.  I was scared to death to have another baby after that but I knew I was supposed to have more children so I started to devour birth books. 

I was convinced I needed to take a comprehensive childbirth class when I was pregnant with baby #2.  Options were limited in my community so we traveled 5 hours round trip each weekend to attend Bradley® classes.  I know it sounds crazy but the Spirit urged me there and luckily my husband was supportive.  We were blessed with an unplanned unassisted birth (90 min labor).  That birth changed our family forever.  I have since had 3 more beautiful VBAC births. 

I have been teaching Husband-Coached Childbirth® classes and attending births as a doula for the last 7 years.  Last year I helped start the first ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter in Idaho and now we have a 3rd chapter in the works!  I am also a part of a group called DOVE-Idaho (Doulas of the Valleys of Easter Idaho).  We provide free monthly childbirth classes to the community along with other support and information.

Being a part of this project has enabled me to combine my passion for birth with the things in life I treasure most: my love of the Gospel, my testimony of the Savior, and my family.  One of my favorite scriptures reads, 

for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” -Matt. 6:21  

Part of my “treasure” is waiting for me in heaven.  His name is Kyle (my first VBAC).  He passed away when he was only 2 years old.  Missing his physical presence motivates me to do whatever I can to have an eternal family.  The Gift of Giving Life is about treasuring life. What greater treasure is there than to take part in such a divine gift?  My hope is that you will be inspired as this book takes life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

An Open Letter to the Guy in the Front Row of Sunday School


Thank you for sitting in the front row so that you could not see my face when you made your comment. The faces of several others were also classic. How would I describe them? Wide eyed, incredulous. Maybe even embarrassed for you.

While I agree that astrology is not something that we should get obsessed with, I think the cosmos are pretty interesting, and I like to see how people try to make sense of them. (Even the ancients tried to do this and because of their trying we have many advances.) However, I don't really see what your problem is with Tony Robbins. He's just a guy trying to motivate people and show them how to improve their lives with the tools he has. And what's wrong with the Law of Attraction? Sure people can get a little overboard with "The Secret," but why ignore a good thing when you see it just because it doesn't have your brand of shoes on? The Law of Attraction works when you work it. It's just another way of describing prayer and meditation and living life with intention. And if it inspires faith, what's wrong with that?

To say that I and other Mormons who also believe in this stuff are a blemish on the face of the Church is kind of funny--and sad. Do you really think that God doesn't reveal truth to others than us? And do you think that just because I'm Mormon I can't speak to others in the terms they understand?

Just the day before I was called a zit, I was thinking about two things:
  1. The quote "All truth can be circumscribed into one great whole."  I looked up the word circumscribed and it basically means "to draw a circle around or encircle" and whole means "the full amount." So basically all truth is necessary for a completeness. And all truth will be encircled by God. I love this. I'm still pondering it. I think there ages of learning about just this sentence that could take place if one allowed. 
  2. The second half of the 3th Article of Faith: "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." I love this particular article of our faith and I think we should pay more attention to it. I was even thinking of starting a blog called "Of Good Report" and just writing up or picturing great or virtuous or lovely things there. But of course, I have no time for another blog. But I can still "seek after these things." 
While you were talking, Rachel H. kept turning around and looking at  me wide eyed, because you kept going on and on. But I wasn't annoyed at you. In fact, I was chuckling under my breath, "What's wrong with Tony Robbins? What's wrong with the Law of Attraction?" This was probably not the most reverent thing I could have done, and it was cracking up the couple in front of me. Sorry if you heard any of that and thought I was making fun of you.

Even later, when I mentally examined your statement to see if there was any truth in it, I wasn't annoyed at you. I feel sorry for you because I judge you as missing a lot of wonderful things with this perspective, but I also don't know what it's like to be you. Perhaps your views are necessary for your survival. Perhaps on your own path, you are more spiritually evolved than ever before. Your ladder is not my ladder, and so I don't know whether you are coming up or going down.

So I guess all I can really say is I am grateful that you showed me how different we all can be and God loves all of us anyway, even with beams in our eyes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What I Learned This Summer

I can't believe this summer is almost over. I can't believe this summer is almost over. I can't believe....

At the end of May I was praying about some career and financial stresses. I was very blessed to not have to work (except by choice) the first two years of Phoebe's life. But to make a very long story short I have a litigious ex husband who took me to court every three months since she was born until I had nothing left and working became a necessity. Don't get me wrong. I love working. Okay, occasionally I fantasize about having the time to make little decorative labels for all my pantry items. But really, I love what I do. But his choices and sometimes other factors still contribute to stress for us. Sometimes minor, sometimes monster.

I remember praying fervently about this one morning this spring and heard these words in my mind, "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (3 Ne 13:33). I thought, Well, duh. I do seek the kingdom of God. It is my underlying driving force. When am I not seeking it? Then I realized that when I am stressing out, I am not seeking the kingdom of God. The words ran through my mind again, this time with italics: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God."

Ahhhh. I realized that some days it wasn't till the end of a day stressing about x, y, or z that I sat down to read my scriptures. So I decided to make it my absolute first priority every day to read my scriptures and meditate (well, maybe sometimes I brush my teeth first). This one small change brought such an immediate difference into my life. The peace I felt brought me so much calm and confidence.

My situation didn't change right away. In fact. It got worse. All my clients canceled that week and my speaking engagement canceled, too. I thought about this and wondered if this was God's way of showing me that my efforts were nothing. Was He going to come out of nowhere and show me that He could work miracles? I wasn't sure, but I continued reading first thing in the morning and I still felt peace.

Then things got even worse.
"It's either gas or spark. You got no spark." That's because he's married. Oh wait, you mean my car...

Yet, even when my car died on the freeway on the way to a Memorial Day Barbeque, I didn't worry. I was just curious to see what would happen, and then I saw blessings everywhere. For one, the Freeway Safety Patrol towed me to a Park N Ride lot for free. 15 minutes later and the FSP would have been closed and I would have had to call a $ tow truck. I happened to break down near the city where some friends live, and they had an extra car that they lent me for a week. Also, the FSP guy told me what was wrong with my car. So I didn't have to wonder what it would cost me to fix it.

I felt so much gratitude and peace.The next day on the way to the zoo with Phoebe, in my borrowed car, I was pondering what do. I love my car, but its end-of-life issues had cost me that month. I had just put a new axle in it the week before. As I was driving I had the strangest idea pop into my head. Maybe I should not put Phoebe in preschool during the summer. What? I wasn't sure whose idea that was. Sure, I would save on preschool tuition, but what about work? How would I get all my work done and pay the bills?

It seemed illogical. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't counter intuitive. Often the revelation I receive from God is this way. Counter logical from my brain perspective--but not counter-intuitive. So I decided to just do it and try to get all my work done on the days she goes to her dad's house, and when she's home we would just play and go to the beach and the pool or draw on the side walk with chalk and all the things that moms who stay home with their kids all day probably get to do.

Preschool Graduation. Cutest thing ever?
It was such an interesting thing to make this decision knowing that I had no clue how is going to work. But I did it anyway. I took some things off my plate and turned down any new responsibilities, and the day after Pre-school graduation we went to the beach all day. Then we did the same thing the next day and the next. Then I worked for a few days.
First day of summer. That's me throwing water.
A few days ago. They are very tan now.
 That first month was interesting. I noticed that I had a lot more energy. I figured out it was because I wasn't splitting my focus. Often, in the past, when I was working I was thinking about what I had to do with/for Phoebe and when I was with Phoebe I was trying to sneak off and send an email or do a bit of work. While I recognized at the time that this was not ideal, I didn't realize how tired it had been making me.

Ultimately, I have felt more peaceful and had more abundance this summer than when I was working a lot more earlier this year. And the abundance has come in more ways than I can articulate. I am grateful for the lessons that God taught me through this--the primary lesson being that it is He who provides. I am grateful that I got to learn this lesson while getting a tan and eating watermelon and being totally in the moment with my daughter. I look forward to more of these lessons.

Me and Phoebes at Venice Beach right before I taught her to body surf.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So Much to Say...

Hmm. So much to blog about. Here is a list of potential blog titles that are running through my mind:

  • An Open Letter To the Guy in the Front Row of Sunday School
  • What I Learned This Summer
  • Why I Became a Hypnotherapist
  • Project True Love Diaries
  • What I Learned From "Hairspray" and "Lilo & Stitch 2"
  • What Kalamata Olives Have to Do With Beliefs about Childbirth
Perhaps I'll take them one at a time. Let me know what you're most interested in reading first!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Introducing New Bloggers and My Next Project

If you have visited before, you'll notice some changes to the blog. New background. An "about" page and "authors" page, and we'll have a few more pages coming soon. We are gearing up for the book release, which you'll be hearing more about. For now, I'm going to tell you about what this means for me and my life.

For the last two years I have worked on this book in any and all of my "spare" time, to the point where it literally became my second child. Or my significant other. But I loved it and didn't begrudge it (much). God called me, He qualified me, and He brought me wonderful women to help. Now we're almost done and a funny thing is happening. I feel a sort of release coming. Not completely, but I feel like I am being sent on another mission for a while. Project True Love.

But let me begin earlier.

A few months ago I participated in a mythic and archetypal imagery certification and did the entire hero's journey in one day. What does this mean in lay terms? It means I spent a whole day going in and out of trance watching movies on the backs of my eyelids on a trip better than any drugs could induce. It was literally epic. I love therapeutic imagery because I feel like God communicates to me in profound ways when I am in this state. After all, He does communicate to our heart and mind.

In the first journey I had to dig something up and the image my mind generated was a baby. But I turned it into a statue because it is weird to dig up a live baby. Then I felt I had to put it on some stone stand and Mary and Joseph were going to take it away and take care of it. It did not want to let the baby go. It was MY baby. (It was not Jesus. It was a girl baby. And a now a gold statue.) When I came out of the journey, I was emotional. I wondered if this was about miscarriage, but realized that the baby could be a symbolic baby.

In the second journey, the wizard gave me three gifts and one was a baby. The others were things I needed to nurture her. Basically food and the scriptures. Then I had to take this baby up to the top of a mountain and there was an altar. I understood that I would leave her there on the altar and she'd be taken care of. In that journey, I felt fine about placing her on the altar. I realized later that both babies symbolized this book. The journey continued in several more parts and I can't tell it all, but it was Lord of the Rings style epic, including getting past a dragon. In the end, the treasure for me turned out to be a true love. I can't share any more, but I can tell you how it felt. It felt like I was in Lehi's dream--like I was having a deep spiritually significant vision. I saw Phoebe there, too, a little bit older and far off. She told me she had her own mission to fulfill. It was wild and full of symbolism, but I had a knowingness about what everything symbolized.

So back to the present moment, what I'm feeling is that it is time to put the baby on the altar and spend less time married to this book and start working on Project True Love. Of course, God is behind this one, too. PTL is an actual project with a plan and phases. Phase One begins with a lot of first dates, 30 to be exact, but I'll tell you all about that in another blog post. If part of the reason you read blogs is because you are a little voyeuristic, you are going to love this.

So, this is my way of announcing that I have invited some of my collaborators to contribute to this blog. Now that we have the book all together (almost), I really enjoy reading the many different voices and I think it's time the blog benefited from different voices, too. Their presence will also give me a little break to fit in all those dates in September and October. (I promise more juice on this later). So, please go read their bios and look at their lovely pictures on the Authors page. They are beautiful inside and out, and I adore them.

We haven't worked out a blogging schedule yet, but I'm guessing you can expect excellent reading candy at least three times a week. Hooray!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some Babies Come Post Dates

I know I promised we'd unveil the cover and start pre-sales on August 1, and now it is August 14th. Well, some babies come post dates. Just a few more days, perhaps. We'll see. In the mean time, you might start to notice some other changes and announcements around here. Get excited.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Gap Between Impulse and Response

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Two days ago my daughter was eating a peanut butter sandwich. She opened the sandwich and began carefully eating each side open-faced. I sat with her at the table and she said, "Sometimes, I want to hurt myself, or like turn this on the table and make a mess," she gestured with her sandwich. "But I don't."

I was a little taken aback by this comment. "Oh?"

"Yeah. I feel like I want to. But I don't."

I realized that she was talking about impulses, more specifically, the moment between impulse and response. She was articulating what millions of people don't understand for years--sometimes never d0--and that was that she had the power to make a choice. In that gap between impulse and response lies destiny.

I told her that she was right, that she had a choice and this was a very mature realization.

I am still amazed. I have spent the last five years working on this very issue. First on my own issues, and now for the last year and half, I continue to grow as I help others.

I honestly wasn't sure if that this was possible for a five-year-old. When I was five if I wondered what kind of commotion spilling my milk would create, it was spilled before I completed the thought. I can only assume that she is receiving some kind of education I was unaware of. I am so grateful for this awareness.

I am so grateful.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Birthing Time Prayers

I have been editing the semi-final manuscript of this book for days now, getting it ready to deliver to the final editors. After coming up from a 3 hour reading jaunt, I felt I must eat some home-made toaster oven pizzas. I don't think this was a spiritual prompting. Just thought I'd mention that I like comfort food sometimes, too.

Anyway, I realized that in gestating a book, this is the home stretch. In fact, this book has shown up symbolically as a baby many times in my imagery journeys. (In the end of these journeys I often put said baby on an altar.) In all the stories I have been reading (and re-reading) every woman has a different experience at this final stage in labor, some feel tired, many feel elation, but what I noted in most of the stories is that there is an increased outpouring of prayer, faith, and focus during this time. And so why would the book be any different. I realized that I need to get down on my knees more, meditate more, fast, and invite the peace of Jesus Christ to fill my home as I do this final push.

I also feel like I need to ask for others to pray for us. For me and my collaborators and everyone else in anyway affiliated with bringing this book to be. Our families would be most grateful for your prayers.


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