My name is Kelly Baker Warner

My whole life, I’ve been so good at being good. I have shown up in the way that others have wanted me to, or how I have assumed they have wanted me to. I’m tired of being good, and my rawness is starting to seep out. So let me reintroduce myself…

My name is Kelly Baker Warner. My married name is Warner, my born name is Baker, both are descriptive of my soul. I am 38 years old. I grew up in Maryland and have also lived in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Today, I live in southern Maine on the stolen land of the Pennacook and Abanaki people. I am married to a cis-hetero man and together we have a cis-daughter and a to be determined toddler. We also have two furry pups.

I am white, my ethnicities are Swedish, Scottish, Norwegian, and English. There are stories in my family of a great grandmother who was Native American, but these stories have been lost. I am agender and use the pronouns she or they. My expression is often feminine and I exist among groups of women often. Thus, I am often assumed to be a cis-hetero woman which grants me much privilege.

Both of my parents are living and they are loving, dedicated humans to their family and this world. I have two siblings, both also dedicated to making a difference and loving as deeply as they can. We are spread all across the country and I miss them desperataly. But we are also okay in our independent ways.

I live in an able body, but often with some level of pain. And I live in a small fat body. I am recovering from decades of disordered eating and even though I am fat, I still experience thin privilege in almost nearly every area of my life.

I am a writer, an artist, a creative, an educator, a doula, a lifelong learner, and an evolutionary leader. I believe in mother earth. I believe in astrology. I believe that Black Lives Matter. That Trans Lives Matter. That Black Trans Lives Matter. That in order to dismantle the systems of oppression that we live in, we must create a world that is built for those who are oppressed within it. This includes ability, race, gender, age, sexuality, immigration status, wealth, and every other ism you can name.

I believe that capitalism is another word for racism, for oppression. That capitalism is not about opportunity and advancement, but about stepping on the necks of others in order to take.

I believe that we must abolish the police. Because I believe in a world where we take care of humans, not punish them. That we do not throw people away. Thus, I believe in prison abolition. And I believe in transformative justice.

I believe that our health system is corrupt, bought, and laced with inequities that kill people of color at rates substantially higher than white folks. And I believe that this system is killing us white folks too.

I believe that fatphobia is really racism. And that the diet industry, the health industry, the clean eating industry is a sham. I also believe that we judge each other harshly. That this is a country of trolling, healthism, and oppression. But, I also believe that all bodies are beautiful. That all food is good food that can nourish our survival. And, I believe that hunger is a symptom of a drive to survive, not a failure of willpower.

I believe our bodies have all the wisdom we need and that capitalism, individualism, and oppression have taught us to doubt this.

I believe in free healthcare, free childcare, paid leave, paying people a liveable wage, and that no one should be a millionaire let alone a billionaire.

I believe in the wisdom of our elders. I believe that my white ancestors have stripped my understanding of the past, in their silence of stories that are too important not to share. That their shame has kept them silent when sharing this shame is actually what sets us free.

I believe survivors. Every time.

I believe that this earth is hurting, we are hurting it. And that it’s our job to make our peace with her. To see how we can reconnect as we watch her course correct time and time again.

I believe in revolutionary love. And not the kind of love that we all tout as the answer to oppression. But the kind of deep love that allows us to see ourselves in others, to know that we are all the same but not the same. That every life means something. That we ask for change because of revolutionary love. That we are angry because of revolutionary love. That there is interconnectedness between us all, and in the words of Valarie Kaur “you are a piece of me that I do not yet know.”

I believe that my kids are my greatest teachers. That in them, I can see me, and through them I can see how my healing is impacting the future of this world. That through them, I experience joy and wonder, and reconnect with my imagination, all essential to our surival. It’s through them that I remember what it’s like to experience this world for the first time, second time.

And so I write about them, because I want others to hear their teachings too.

Intuitive eating…post #2

I’ve been in the dark. And I’ll admit that writing, sharing has been hard lately.

Not only has the world turned dark, and cold, but so has my body. When I took on the healing process to find my intuitive eater, I was told that emotions might arise. And they have erupted.

There is an interesting thing that our bodies do when they experience emotional and psychological pain and we don’t process it. Our bodies manifest it. Into our bones, our muscles, our nerves.

My body, like so many, holds all sorts of trauma. Over the years, the layers have built up, some so deep I have forgotten all about them. I’m in pain alot. A sore back from an old injury horseback riding. A twisted hip that won’t let go since cradling the growing life of my first born 7 years ago. The achy feet from an imablance in posture, cracky shoulders from a back that tries so hard, a weak wrist from picking up my kids over and over and over.

When first learning about non-restrictive eating in The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner, I read that it is time to feel. “Feel what?” is all I thought. She instills a practice of body attention everyday. Taking five minutes to notice what you feel in your body and to look at it, study it, notice it. Not fix it, never to fix it, but to simply feel it.

In the Intuitive Eating workbook, there is an activity where you sit quietly and try to feel your heartbeat within you. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this is the first time I consciously felt it inside of me. I now do it often, it is actually quite grouding to remember that this muscle keeps on pumping no matter what’s happening around it.

I’ve also learned that I emotionally eat at times. Food helps me to feel better when I’m frustrated, sad, or even bored. This is not an uncommon practice, and not necessarily even a bad one. But I’ve noticed it and worked to find other ways to self-care in these moments.

I mention all this, because when you stop to feel your body, listen to what it’s saying, and you take away a numbing comfort, you start to feel.

And these feelings have been erupting out of me. I am in a lot of physical pain as this body screams at me what I have silenced for so long. I am exhausted, all the way to the point that the thought of movement feels overwhelming most of the time. My body needs rest, rest for all of the missed moments of rest. My body needs rest, for all of the pain it needs to heal. My body needs tender care and love, warmth, massage, showers, essential oils, all that I can offer it as it heals.

And my heart has been healing. These past two months have been an overdrive of emotions. I have remembered and felt through trauma, and I’m talking little things I have beaten myself up over for decades.

So I haven’t been writing.

I have been parenting. And my kids are brilliant. I haven’t had the best words to share with them why my emotions are so up and down, but I have had the love and care to apologize when I need to, to explain when I feel frustrated before I act, and to ask for moments by myself.

Returning to intuitive eating is so hard. I so often want to walk away. But I remember that I am untangling knots from decades of diet culture, centuries of generational trauma, and years of painful dieting I have inflicted on myself.

I can say many things about why I’m still in, but here are a few.

  • My daughter eats with more confidence than I have ever seen, trying new things and communicating about her fullness and needs.
  • I am letting go of the need to have zero waste with all food.
  • Food is becoming nourishment instead of comfort.
  • Dinner time is a place of deep and loving inquisitions instead of food battles.
  • I love this body more now than I ever have, and it’s a body I have feared for so much of my life.*
  • This body, although working through so much, is startimg to feel like home.

Until I write again…

*I need to acknowledge something here. I have always been afraid of gaining too much weight and I am now in the body that I used to fear. And this is still a straight-sized, highly privileged body. I can’t say this without also saying that this journey is a constant unpacking of my fatphobia towards myself and this world. When we, or I, fear a body for myself that is still not like the body of so many others, we marginalize those bodies. Both in this world and in our minds. The love I am working on for my own body is a love inclusive of all bodies no matter what size. I am releasing the fear of all body sizes as I embrace my own. I am standing in the belief that all bodies are worthy of love, praise, admiration, care, joy, and humanity. I invite you to do the same.

Bedtime apologies

I’ve done some deep diving into how I parent lately and thinking about what I’d want to share with others. One thing keeps popping up for me.

Apologies.

I wonder how many parents apologize to our kids. Society tells us that we are all knowing. That we are the guides, the teachers, the ones who keep our kids from becoming complete jerks. But so much of what is asked of us kind of turns us into jerks as parents, right?

For example, if I teach my kid something or we have an argument and I refuse to let it go because I have to be right because I am the adult, what am I teaching them?

I am no stranger to this situation…a day of chaos and fun, with loads of running, screaming, destruction, play, gets into this body of mine. I’m a relaxer. So much so that on my Mother’s Day write up from my oldest, she said that Mommy loves to “relax on the couch.” At first, I took offense, and then I was like yup! Daddy likes to play and Mommy likes to rest. Both important aspects to living, so I offer no apologies.

But since my body prefers more calm, after a day of kid chaos I am antsy. My skin is jumping and my emotions are running high, only tempered by my patience which is holding on as tight as it can. And, it can rarely last an entire day from wake until bedtime. No matter how much I work that muscle, it’s too much.

So bedtime. I despise bedtime. I actually love it when they go to sleep…hence the relaxing on the couch…but getting these kids to bed is my least favorite part of parenting. Absolute, 100% least favorite. There are moments I love, like cuddles, books, songs, bath time, brushing hair, talking about our days, etc. But when I say goodnight, it’s never goodnight. The baby has learned that they can yell for a few minutes and if I come back in it’s to simply say “it’s bedtime, go to bed.” And then our fight is usually over.

But putting a 6 year old to bed is an epic battle. Within 10 seconds of saying goodnight and walking away, literally the time it takes for me to walk from her room and sit down on the couch, she calls for me.

Sometimes it’s legit, like there is a mosquito in her room. But, usually it’s a quick onset of an upset tummy, she’s scared of the dark in her lit up room, she’s wants an answer to some intellectual question about life or physics, she wants more water, she misses Daddy, she can’t find a stuffed animal that is literally next to her head, she can’t reach a book that is 2 feet from her grasp, she needs tucked in again, or she wants “one more hug and kiss.”

This is when my patience says, “Nope, I’m done, it’s all you anger.” And I usually lose it. I just can’t do it. Sometimes, my patience hangs in there, makes it through. Other times I get frustrated, snap at her, or even yell. And you must think, “Oh it’s justified, what a ridiculous repeating process.” It is.

And also, she is 6 years old, being asked to sleep in a room all by herself. Far away from what she finds safe, away from the two people who she looks to as she navigates the complexity of the life of the day. Then, at night, suddenly she’s on her own. To figure out how to fall back asleep when a shadow scares her, or a weird noise wakes her up.

This is why this is so hard. Co-sleeping is not an option for us, for many reasons I won’t list. And also, I understand. And also I don’t.

So sometimes, I get frustrated and yell. And, the yells don’t match the crime. I get as equally mad at a request for another hug and kiss versus a request for a book that is within her reach.

My butt just wants the couch.

I then go to bed feeling like a complete jerk. She goes to bed thinking I’m mad. Don’t they say never go to bed mad? What if you’re the one who someone is mad at?

I almost always apologize when I feel my anger goes beyond normal frustration at bedtime. In fact, my most common apology is for yelling or getting overly mad at a simple request. When I apologize, I do make it clear that I am not apologizing for feeling frustrated. I want my kids to see emotions as normalized and feeling frustrated in life is normal. And, I also want them to understand that we also take care of people. So I apologize for the impact I create from my frustrations.

And I believe this is different than intention. Of course, I never intend to make her feel sad or upset, but I still do cause that. In the world of anti-racism work, we use this analogy – If I hit you with my car, I maybe didn’t mean to hit you with my car but your leg is still broken. We call it taking care of impact. So my apologies focus on impact. And they occur when I know that the impact doesn’t match my intention. I need her to learn this art of life. That just because you didn’t mean to do something, doesn’t mean that the other person then doesn’t have a right to feelings about it. And this is an essential lesson in how she will walk through life – well, I didn’t mean to have white privilege, but I do so I am paying attention to my impact.

So, how’s it working for me? Bedtime is still shit. But throughout the rest of our relationship it is liberating. I worry so much about what I say and do and whether or not it will screw her up for life. When I opened myself to apologizing to her, I have found that I feel little fear about messing up, or messing her up for life. Instead, I know that we can work together on this messy life and healing our way through the hard parts, as apologizing is a necessary part. And our kids are no less deserving.

Raising justice and healing me

I’ve been writing for two months and have shared very little. Unsure of what to say out loud. Unsure if it’s even meant to be heard.

In March, it became clear to me that my parenting was short sighted. I had been focusing on my kids so deeply that I was missing what I needed for my own being. Over the past six years, I have committed myself to authentic, deep, loving parenting. A type of parenting that looks at my kids as their own people in this world. People for me to get to know, to learn from, and to be in community with. At first, I thought I was meant to teach them. To show them all that is wrong with this world. And I started this journey in that mindset. But my wise little one would say to me…

“Can we stop talking about this?” or “Can we talk about something happy?”

Those moments were tough because things were happening the world. Opportunities to show the injustice, the oppression, the rampant violence in our society. But I didn’t listen to my own lesson.

I used to watch all of the videos on facebook of the violence in this world. Police shooting black people, strangling people of color, manhandling children. Photos of abused pets, abused children. News outlets showing overhead footage of today’s mass shooting. There was one summer where one video sent me into silence. I laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling. It was an opportunity to be the public voice, again. But being the public voice created crippling anxiety for me. I spoke to a mentor and friend. She reminded me that I don’t have to watch those videos if I believe what is happening. If something is reported – that a person was killed by a police officer or some white man with an automatic weapon shot a group of people, I don’t doubt it to be true. I know it’s true because I believe that in this country, we have rampant violence and entrenched systemic oppression and racism. I don’t need to see it to know it’s happening.

My kid was sharing the same. She believed me when I told her the ways of the world. And she was reminding me that she didn’t need to be reminded. She believed me the first time.

After that, I took to figuring out parenting by sharing my own perspective. Sharing my own feelings, thoughts, errors, love. I opened things up to a two-way conversation. I allowed her to bring things to me and to stop the conversation when she wanted to. And I started to focus on joy and the miracles of this earth. Talking about nature and the ways in how we choose to live.

In her Mother’s Day present this year from school, she not only listed me as 23 years young, but she listed that I am special to her because I keep her safe. This coming from an Aries sun and moon who lives in this world out in front or in first place everywhere she goes, is quite the compliment.

As her parent, this is who I want to be. I want her to feel safe with me and to be a constant. Someone who can be honest, raw, raggedy, and also so deeply loving.

But two months ago, I realized that a key piece of this was missing in my parenting. Really in my own relationship with myself. I was loving out loud for my kids, for others, but was not loving out loud for me. Simply put, I talk kindly about bodies but I do not treat mine well. I talk about what I love but my kids rarely see me do any of it. I talk about joy but I rarely show pleasure in this world.

One day back in March, I was sitting on my couch trying to figure out this turmoil in my body. My mind was crashing. I was stuck without a creative thought. In my mind, this feels dangerous. It’s an onset of anxiety, worries, depression. It’s the empty space that I avoid at all costs. I have feared this space since forever in this body. But I chose this time to listen. I was able to feel some profound trauma sitting in my bones. I wrote about it and I felt a bit better. Then, I kept writing. About loss, death, abuse, violence, harm, food, capitalism, oppression, sexism, all of it. All of the trauma wrapped up in my body poured out. It now sits in about 30 drafts on wordpress, waiting to see what I will do with it.

I turned to astrology for some guidance. I knew that my birth chart offers me the story of the energy in my life and maybe it has something in there to show how to work through this difficult part. See I am a Cancer sun and moon. I live in this world as a nurturer, lover, caretaker. Most of my life I live by giving energy out, being there for others, loving so deeply that I can shift the energy of a room. But it’s confusing because my energy is so wrapped up in yours. And, I can’t often find my way back to mine. But, I found it in March. It was empty, black, silent. Several meditations brought me to black, dark water. Some even nothingness.

Simply, within my natal chart, my sun and moon live in the house of death. A place where trauma exists, lineage, motherhood. A house where it’s likely that one’s mother had a difficult birth or you’ve experienced something close to death. A place where the trauma in your family is carried through your lineage, blood and bones to sit in your body. All of which is true. And, my chart offers something to me. That I am a person who can do something with this knowledge. That maybe I can be a person who holds this lineage of trauma and cares for it, maybe even works towards healing it.

The world around me is pointing to me, pushing me to find my personal power as a person, a parent. And I am realizing that I cannot do any of it without healing me. I am still unsure if I am meant to heal my lineage, as my acorn in only in its earlier stages of growth.* But it’s clear to me that I cannot be the parent, partner, person I want to be without some deep rooted healing and love for this body of mine.

I feel compelled to share some of this healing with you all. But I am scared. I am scared because it’s deep and raw and terrifying to share. What if what is trauma to me seems ridiculous to you? What if what I write triggers your own trauma and makes it so you never want to read my writing again? What if the people in the story read it and come for me?

And, I am scared because I do not live in this world as a single human. My experiences are interwoven with others. I was raised by two parents. Two loving, beautiful, brave, amazing people. Who just like me have made mistakes. I believe deeply that our parents’ errors are our lessons. And the same will be true for my kids. But I am scared that you will have an opinion of them when I think they are the greatest parents alive. I am afraid you will know who I am talking about and you will tell me I’m wrong. I’m afraid that I may be writing about you and you’ll hate me.

My coach, mentor, amazing friend Maureen…I hear her voice – “It’s not your business.” This leaves me with the thought – can I write honestly, from that raw, deep, dark place inside of me and still be the person who loves, nurtures and cares for you? Can I both hurt you and love you? Can I put your own body at risk in reading my trauma? Can I out the people in my life for their failures? Am I really the person to share these stories out loud?

I don’t know the answer yet.

But, I am working towards being the person who can openly show my kids what it’s like to pull back the layers of this body and to show who is really under there. It has to be a lesson to them that seeing their mother at her rawest can lead to their own freedom. That they will have that moment or moments too. And I can provide the reminder that they can survive. That we can survive. That even with all the shit that happens to us, it’s only a few sentences in our story. My trauma is not the core to my story. It’s a page in a chapter in the larger story of this life. My life.

“…My body is my home. My body is the place I can continue to return to. My body is where all the things that have ever happened me are remembered and held and I’m the only one who’s been through all that I’ve been through…it’s not just a space for trauma to happen to me and it’s not just a space for harm and it’s not just a space for oppressive ideas to be projected onto me…it’s actually my own.” – adrienne maree brown

So I’m still writing. Working towards sharing. Working to feel brave to do so – loving and healing through sharing. I expect you’ll hear some from me soon.

*In “The Body is Not an Apology,” Sonya Renee Taylor speaks of how we are all acorns. Acorns are born with a purpose as they always become an oak tree. I believe I was born an acorn, my purpose is within me and I am growing towards my oak tree, even if I don’t know what that oak tree looks like. 

Note: Maureen White is amazing, I am so grateful she is in my life as chosen family, a friend, a coach, and a mentor. Consider her, it’s worth every penny and every moment. https://www.maureenwhiteconsulting.com/