beach peace

4 Tips for a Child-Free Summer (*Free of Other People’s Kids)

By Laura LaVoie

Yep, I hear the strains of Alice Cooper playing in the distance. School is indeed out for summer. Though very few of the people I’m referring to will even get that reference.

School’s out for summer, and that means kids will be in more public places during the day.

I’ll be honest, I do not like children. I do not like to be in the same space as young children. I get anxious when I hear them screech or if they even begin to encroach on my personal space while I’m trying to enjoy myself.

I also know that it is impractical and potentially immoral from banning them from every beach or park around the world.

So, in order to save my own sanity and avoid feeling anxiety creep in when I find myself slobbered on by strangers’ kids, I try to stick to generally kid-free areas. Here are my tips to avoid little kids during the summer:

NM Girlfriends

Childless or Childfree While Brown? Let’s Try to Decipher the Stats

By Karen Malone Wright

Google Alerts delivered this May 2015 headline to my inbox from Black Enterprise:

“More Educated Black Women Going Childless”

This, I thought, is a Big Deal. I clicked the link.

I read the story several times; but much of it seemed to stem from a widely quoted 2010 study by Pew Research Center showing that U.S. rates of childlessness rose more for nonwhites than whites from 1994 to 2008.

More recently, the Urban Institute has revealed that America’s historic decline in births from 2007 to 2012 among women in their 20s was largest among Hispanic women, followed by black women and lastly, white women.

The headline at Black Enterprise.com was correct, but the text needed refreshing. That said, BE writer Brittany Dandy asked a very pertinent question:

“With several issues affecting black women’s financial stability in the US, putting them at risk of poverty during  retirement, at a loss, while combating the burden of the wealth gap, and unfair wage issues, the question arises, are educated black women straying away from childbearing, simply making an educated decision that better fits their lifestyles?”

NM PURCH Catholic rosary

Catholicism 2015: Same-Sex Marriage in Ireland & Forgiveness for Past Abortions

By Karen Malone Wright

Roman Catholics worldwide are absorbing huge back-to-back changes in their Church during 2015 that shatter two long-held beliefs that certain things could never, and would never, change.

  • Bonny Ireland, with its saints, leprechauns and conservative religious Catholic majorities, even in its northern sector would forever be linked to Vatican doctrine.
  • Have an abortion and you’re kicked out of the Church. (A nicer description: excommunicated.)

Surprise!

Neither statement is true anymore.

Summer feet with flip flops

Wellness for One (or Two): Your Ultimate Foot Guide for Summer, Part Two

By Samantha Pollack

After years of neglecting my feet despite long hours on my feet as a runner, waitress and bartender, plus an unattractive problem with foot fungus, today I can say I’ve learned my lesson. And now I’m sharing what know now.

Presenting, Part Two of my Ultimate Foot Care Guide, including remedies for hammer toes, bunions, plantar fasciitis (which is as painful as its name), and cracked heels.

IF, by chance, your feet are “perfect”, scroll down right to the Exercises for Healthy Feet to  build balance, relieve stress, and improve your gait. And, lucky lucky you.

A Eick

The Not Mom Interview: Andrea Eick, Veterinary Behavior Specialist

Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different, and we define ourselves without the label of ‘Mom. And if you’re not a Mom, who are you?  TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women without children with public voices to learn their answers. 

Right now, we’re focused on preparations for The NotMom Summit on October 9-10, 2015. By introducing our presenters and speakers here, you’ll get an idea of what to expect who the women at the podiums really are, and their levels of expertise. 

Meet Amanda Eick, RVT, KPA, CTP, VTS, one of 72 board certified veterinary behaviorists in the United States, and one only 12 certified as Veterinary Technician Specialists in Behavior.

Laura says: When Karen and I first began to work on programming for The NotMom Summit, I was super excited about the idea of having a panel expressly for our animal friends. For many NotMoms, furry companions are an extremely important part of our lives. My own kitty, Piglet, has been spoiled her entire life, and after her recovery from cancer, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

When I contacted Amanda of The Behavior Clinic in northeast Ohio, I was hoping she would be interested in speaking at the Summit to explain how spoiling a pet doesn’t over-feeding or humanizing them in an unhealthy way. I am excited she agreed, and I can’t wait to meet her in October in Cleveland.

Tell us about yourself and your practice. 

I grew up on a hog farm in Wooster, Ohio, so I’ve lived all my life around animals. In college I started working for veterinary clinics as a way to pay for school while working on degrees in history and geology. About 6 months before I was to graduate from Ashland University, my then boss said, “Did you know you could get a degree in veterinary nursing?” and that was it.

native american

Pop Culture Exposes America’s Sin of Involuntary Sterilization

By Laura LaVoie

After the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, people have been talking about the story of Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, and her training in a Russian assassins program. It turns out that in this comic book-based story, the graduation ceremony consists of permanent sterilization because apparently kick-ass assassins can’t be Moms.

I’ve heard editorializing from all sides. You can read some of those takes here and here and here.

But the truth is, Black Widow is a fictional character in a universe she shares with aliens posing as gods, multiple people with super powers, and a mild-mannered guy who becomes a less-than-jolly green giant because of gamma radiation poisoning.

Then I saw a show that is more grounded in reality.

It’s an A&E western mystery drama called Longmire, and its third season is now available on Netflix. Because the only kind of marathon I train for is streaming TV, I devoured all 10 new episodes in a matter of days. It would have been less time if I didn’t have to be productive occasionally.

myfeet

Wellness for One (or Two): How to Get Feet You Won’t Be Ashamed Of

By Samantha Pollack

Do you love your feet? I do. But they really had to grow on me. I’ve got every foot problem there is: bunions, hammer toes, and chunky, painful toenail fungus on every toe. I’ve also had the lovely experience of having a plantars wart frozen off.

I used to be embarrassed and self-conscious about my feet. I hardly ever got pedicures because of my toenail shame. I had this constant, quiet inner dialogue about my feet: they were gross, ugly, and royally f’d up, dooming me to painful, inevitable bunion surgery, and ultimately rob me of my running.

On top of that, I was a waitress and bartender for over 10 years. I ran 3-5 miles, three times a week. I lived in Boston, famously known for being a “walking city.” And I wasn’t walking around in cushy, structurally sound, nurse shoes. I wore flip-flops, cowboy boots, and cute pumps.

Did I take care of my feet? Heck no. I mean, I’d scrape them with a pumice stone every once in a while, or put them up after a long shift at the restaurant, but that’s about it. Now that I think about it, I was really shitty to my poor feet. I asked so much of them (and they delivered), and I repaid them with shame and abuse. If anyone treated me that way, I’d be outta there like that last little piggy.

In 2010, I moved to Asheville and went to nutrition school. Suddenly I was exposed to a whole world of natural remedies. So I started experimenting with one for my toenails…and it worked!

I was encouraged. Maybe I wasn’t doomed to painful surgeries, or disgusting toes for the rest of my life. Maybe with a little TLC and dedication, I could change my feet.

So, I tried lots and lots of foot care. I even started Physical Therapy for my bunions – who knew that was thing? And gradually, I changed my meanie-pants attitude toward my feet, and started showing them some love and appreciation. They seem to like it. And so, I began to write my Ultimate Foot Care Guide:

AJ Burns

The NotMom Interview: Andrea Burns of Cheshire Grin

By Laura LaVoie

Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different, and we define ourselves without the label of ‘Mom. And if you’re not a Mom, who are you? 

TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women without children with public voices to learn their answers. Right now, we’re focused on preparations for The NotMom Summit on October 9-10, 2015. By introducing our presenters and speakers here, you’ll get an idea of what to expect who the women at the podiums really are, and their levels of expertise. Meet Andrea Burns, a research consultant and blogger.

Laura says: I’ve known Andrea online for some time. She was a friend of a friend and we were connected because of her interest in the tiny house community. I have lots of friends like this online, but none have impacted me the way Andrea has.

Soon after dealing with my own medical crisis and miscarriage, I read Andrea’s account of her own experience with unplanned pregnancy. Her blog post was both emotional and full of facts that helped me better understand what had happened to me. I hastily emailed her to let her know not only how much her post meant but to ask her to become a part of The NotMom Summit. I am grateful that she said yes.

Are you a NotMom? If so, do you consider yourself by Choice or by Chance?

A little bit of both.  Physically, I can’t carry a healthy child full term, never could, so having children has never really been an option for me. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t get pregnant. Earlier in 2015, I accidentally got pregnant and had to make a really difficult choice.

Knowing that the child would never survive, do I induce a miscarriage early enough that he or she doesn’t have to suffer, or do I ride it out and let the termination happen naturally — likely causing a great deal of suffering for both of us? Having children has never been in the cards for me, so I didn’t expect to be faced with the decision to terminate a pregnancy. 

birthday cake

Three Years of Watching Childless & Childfree Women Find Their Voice

By Karen Malone Wright

It’s May 13, 2015, and The NotMom’s 3rd birthday. Yep. One year, two years, three. 

When I was trying to think of how to let you know what this birthday means to me, well, I couldn’t help it. I wondered what advice is given to the parents of a 3-year-old human. I was convinced I’d find some comparisons, and I did.

Parents.com advises that when a child is three years old, it’s “ the perfect time to try a group activity.”  For The NotMom, there is no bigger or better group activity than The NotMom Summit, perhaps America’s first major conference for women without children by choice or by chance scheduled for Columbus Day weekend 2015.

Could it be that at three years old we’re right on track?

Queen Bessie

Queen Latifah as the Empress of the Blues: Bold, Bi-Sexual & Childless

By Karen Malone Wright

I discovered Bessie Smith after falling in love with the soundtrack to Lady Sings The Blues, Diana Ross’ 1972 star-turn as the legendary, drug-addicted singer Billie Holiday. As I often do when I discover something new worth obsessing over, I immersed myself in the music of Billie’s contemporaries in 1930’s America.

I delighted in the double entendres of titles like ‘I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl’ and  ‘Hard Driving Papa’. (I darned near wore out a CD called Copulatin’ Blues.)

Now, it’s Queen Latifah’s turn to introduce a musical pioneer to the generation rising to power. She stars in Bessie, an HBO biopic about Bessie Smith premiering on Saturday, May 16, 2015. 

disability

Invisible Disabilities, Shame, and Minding Our Own Business

By Laura LaVoie

Do you follow Passenger Shaming on Facebook (or Pinterest  or Instagram)? I started following it because photos of people who put their bare feet on the arm rest of the person in front of them is a gross and gruesome thing.

The site was like a train wreck and I couldn’t look away. Photos are posted by anonymous flight attendants and passengers.

But then this happened in early April 2015:

p shaming

The photo immediately made me think of a friend who has Mast Cell Disease, a rare disorder where your body creates an inappropriate allergic reaction to life and then tries to kill you.

My friend often wears respirator type masks when he is able to go out in public. He even designed covers to make them more fashionable.

When I saw this photo on Passenger Shaming, a site specifically about calling out people who are participating in asshole behavior in airplanes, I was truly offended. And not offended in a hand-to-my-heart exclaiming “My word!” kind of way, but in a way that made me want to say something.

So I did. And people told me to lighten up. But whatever, I said something and that was enough for me.