Posts for confidence

Having the Confidence I Want My Daughter to See

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - March 31, 2017

Recently, I hit a rough patch with my confidence. First, it was facing Imposter Syndrome in my new career path as a freelance writer. Then, it was being the new mom of a deeply hurt child. Then, it was facing health challenges that kept me in bed for nearly 6 weeks. Throw the Presidential election of 2016 into the mix, and I was a goner. Confidence shot. There was nothing I wanted to write and nowhere I wanted to go.

Luckily, my wise self and life coach reminded me that there is no need to suffer in silence. I reached out to my biggest fans. I texted them the horrible things my inner critic was saying and admitted how much fear was taking over. Of course, they responded with a ton of love, humor, and solidarity. I may have felt pitiful but I was not alone in my self-pity. That mattered. Slowly, as allergens fill the air and cherry blossoms start to bloom, I am emerging. I’m ready to get my confidence back this spring.

I can take baby steps to rebuilding my confidence and model these same tools for my daughter, while I’m at it! Wanna follow along? Check out my (usually, probably, almost always) daily Facebook Live videos each morning in April and I’ll share the winding path to believing in myself again.

Let’s see what a mama who actively works on confidence can do for the little girl who’s watching.

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My Daughter Called Me Fat. Here is What I Said…

Go Girl!, Self-care - Allison Kenny - March 15, 2017

Photo credit: Mary Cressler, Vindulge

 

Fat. It’s the word I dreaded most of my life. The word I spent the most time thinking about, worrying about, planning around, crying over and nearly destroying my relationship to myself about. Like so many of us, I spent my time, my money and endless hours of energy on a decade worth of diets. Now that I’ve given up dieting, I can spend that same time, energy and money on things that matter to me more than what size my body is.

I’ve learned to eat intuitively. I’ve learned that sometimes my trauma takes over and it’s nearly impossible for me to notice if I’m hungry or full. I’ve learned to forgive myself for emotionally overeating. I’ve learned there are no bad foods. I’ve learned to enjoy eating as a source of pleasure. I’ve learned about lots of other things I get hungry for- play, intimacy, creativity, adventure and most often…solitutde. I’ve learned to appreciate and respect my body at every size. And since I have been sizes 8-16, I have a lot of practice with this.

For me, the fat is no longer a problem. I honestly believe I am gorgeous at any size. My doctor tells me I am in good health and I notice that if I’m managing my stress well, I feel good. I feel happy. I am grateful for what I have and what my body can do.

So when my daughter sweetly said to me one day, “Mommy, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but do you think you’re fat?” I took a deep breath. I smiled. After 8 years of disordered eating, chronic dieting, shame and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t control my body, I was prepared for this moment.

When I started the transition out of dieting and into claiming my life as a well-fed woman, I committed to self-love above everything else. I knew how to reflect that back to my daughter. My response came naturally, powerfully, easily. I scooped her into my arms and answered with confidence.

“Oh, baby, I’m so glad you asked. Yes, it’s true that my body has some extra fat. I like to call it my curves and I don’t mind it one bit. You know why? Because I believe all bodies are okay. I know I look beautiful just how I am. And I take good care of myself to stay healthy and strong. I love my arms that can pick you up and swing you around. My lap is strong enough to hold you. My soft belly is good for snuggling. I celebrate everything my body can do.” 

She accepted that. Sometimes she even tells me, “I love your big belly, Mama.” There are plenty of days I don’t love my big belly and self-doubt creeps back in. I hold onto this conversation as a reminder of what I know for sure to be true. I am just right as I am. Big belly and all.

More: Why My Daughter Eats Kale and Candy, Amaranth and Cheetos

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Grateful to be Honored as a BlogHer Voice of the Year

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - July 29, 2016

As an adolescent, I used to win awards for playing softball. After practicing at all hours with my team, traveling to tournaments across the county, wrapping up minor injuries and playing right through them…every once & awhile, we’d bring home the big trophy. State champions. And that moment when someone in our matching uniform would cross home plate for the win, we’d all rush to her, ponytails flying, tears streaming and yes, dumping water all over our coach. Winning is awesome.

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When I got notice that my piece, “If I Took Care of Myself Like I Take Care of My Daughter” was being honored at BlogHER16 as one of the few Voices of the Year, I was tempted to scream and cry and dump water on someone. That’s how excited I am to to show up and be a learner alongside thousands of women entrepreneurs and media makers.

In the face of so much injustice, tragedy and violence in our country, I get to go and learn more about how to be a contributing voice for what matters most to me. Raising a Go Girl is my platform to advocate for alternative families, celebrate self care for parents and practice being the Go Girl I want my daughter to see.  As I’m learning to take up space and find my voice, I get to go to L.A. next weekend for the biggest conference of the year and be with women who are doing it best. How do they take centerstage in their own lives? How do they create content that serves a bigger purpose?  How do they write their personal stories in ways that are of service to the wider community?

I can’t wait to find out…

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Happy Adoption Day…Part 2

Forever Family, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - October 26, 2015

Click here to check out part 1 of this post!

CHP_2518-LFriday, October 16th

We woke up early and snuggled up with Squirrel in her bed. “Happy Gotcha Day!” we cheered, covered her face with kisses while she squealed. She opened the card with the kitty holding a heart (her two favorite things right now) and really took in the words we wrote—how we’ll love her forever, how she can’t get rid of us now, how we’re so happy to have her in our family. She opened the heart necklace on a gold chain and put it on immediately.

We moved into the living room where I’d set up three tiny candles. They were inside robin eggs, forming a nest. When my dear friend gave them to us on the day Squirrel came a year ago, I knew I’d wait and light them on Adoption Day. We each took an egg candle and lit them one at time before adding them back into the nest. This simple, quiet ritual was my favorite part of the whole day.

We put on the special outfits that we’d modeled for each other in a fashion show the week before. Fuchsia and gold, blues and purples. We ate egg pie with broccoli, curled our hair. None of us had ever gotten ready for an Adoption Day before. It was a weird and mystical holiday that we’ll celebrate every year from now on. We were “nervouscited” as my daughter would say.

We parked by beautiful Lake Merritt. We walked up to the Alameda Superior Courthouse and were intercepted by an expressive arts therapist with a purple ribbon wand. Our superhero friend, Phil performed an interpretative dance right there on the street in downtown Oakland. We all cheered and felt the love. We went through security. We took the elevator to the 7th floor where we met up with our social worker and began the 45 minutes of waiting our turn. There were three other adoptions that morning and it was first come, first served.CHP_2567-L

As we sat in the heat of the echoey building, I noticed our daughter started to leave her body. Her eyes glazed over. She winced every time her photo got taken by the photographer we’d hired. The amazing community we had with us—a Go Girl teaching artist, two grandmas, and dear friends with their adopted toddler—rallied and gave Squirrel snacks, toys to play with, hugs, presents and chances to run around and burn off steam.

When our turn came, I gave Squirrel a chance to ride piggyback into the huge courtroom. I could see she was terrified. “Mama, this is hard,” she whispered in my ear. We raised our right hands and promised to tell the truth. Then, our judge came to get us—a sweet, older man in a long black robe. He led us all into his cozy office. He was an absolute dear. When Squirrel wanted a chance to sign all the paperwork, he let her. He waited patiently as she drew pictures of Christmas trees all around her name. He told jokes about how adopted kids are just like all other kids- they still have to clean their rooms. Then, he asked if Lynn and I promised to be her forever parents and take care of all her needs. We did. We do. We will. Always.

imageAnd that was it. Just like that. An official family was born. Our circle of love cheered.

We went to feed the ducks at the lake while Mama Lynn paid the final court fees and signed more paperwork downstairs. She walked up to a window under the “Adoption” sign. It was positioned directly next to a window under the “Restraining Orders” sign. Not everyone in court was there to celebrate.

We ate lunch on the dock and Squirrel came back into herself, flirting with the waiter and pretending to take all our orders by scribbling in a Hello Kitty notebook. We opened the beautiful gifts from my mom—a silver jewelry box with Baby Girl’s new official name and the adoption date.  And a silver frame engraved with our new family name. The Johnson-Kenny’s.

imageThe rest of the day was a blur of naps and wine and dancing and hugging as many friends stopped by to love on us. We read Squirrel cards and texts from cousins, Aunties, Grandparents. She smiled again and again as she repeatedly got welcomed into the family. She stayed up past her bedtime, ate too much sugar and ended the evening in tears…evidence that Adoption Day truly is a holiday.

We gave birth. The labor pains were worse than I could have imagined but I already forgot them. It’s a girl. A beautiful, strong, creative, hilarious, fierce little girl. And she is really, truly ours. For better or worse.

 

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Summer of Confidence

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - August 12, 2015

“Baby, you are just getting bigger every day! On the inside and the outside,”

summer of growthI hear myself saying again and again. The Squirrel loves standing up with her back against the inside of her closet door. “Here’s a pencil, Mommy! Mark how tall I am!” I do, even though the day before we did the same thing. The mark on the wall hasn’t moved but I know this isn’t the kind of growth we’re really tracking. “I think these shoes are too small for me, mom. Let’s give them away to a littler kid. My feet are getting bigger,” she says with pride. Her feet have been the same size all summer. But she’s right. Her growth has been SO enormous, we’re all looking for measurable ways to track and celebrate it.  

To that end, here’s a poem for my girl…

She used to scream and shake in the pool. Now she kicks off the wall like a mermaid.

She used to hide her head in her hands. Now she sings on the stage.

She used to cheat at CandyLand. Now she can follow the rules.

She used to hate getting out of bed. Now she dresses herself in a flash!

She used to have all her baby teeth. Now they keep falling out!

She used to fall down a lot. Now she leaps, ronde de jambes, and does pirouettes across the floor.

She used to yell and kick and throw. Now she asks for what she needs.

She used to cry for every good-bye. Now she hugs, kisses and says, “Bye! Love you!”

She used to say “I can’t read.” Now she says, “I’m good at it.”

She used to say, “I can’t do it.” Now she says, “I just need to practice.”

She used to feel bad and hurt her friends sometimes. Now she mostly keeps hands & feet to herself.

She used to wake up wet. Now she wakes up dry.

She used to have hair in her face. Now, she has purple bangs.

She used to hate her feelings. Now she lets them out.

She used to wonder if we were safe grown-ups. Now she knows for sure.

She used to be a little girl. Now she is a Queen.

 

May we all have the courage to keep learning and growing the way this child does.

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