Day in the Life of Mamalode: Glitter and Gusto

Erin Britt reviews & interviews

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I woke early and walked out to listen to our hives of honeybees. Cup of coffee in hand, I then walked to the round pen my husband built. Placing my chin on the top rail, I stood and soaked in those holy minutes right before the sun rose over the mountain. I had a feeling of what our day would be, but not nearly how deep it would go. Later on that morning I was packing when I realized it was Thursday; #throwbackthursday, I thought. I searched for a photo to share on Instagram. It was then that #dayinthelife really opened up for me. My hands stopped on a photo of our first born, Mae (now 10) who was born with Craniosynostosis. As I held the photo, I mentally went back to the two days before her surgery. I thought of us in our tiny cabin along the Blackfoot River, and once again the helpless feelings flooded back into my stomach.

Mae had only been to the cabin twice since we moved away just after her first birthday. She and I had been playing with an idea; Headstands around Montana. The idea was twofold for us. First, it took courage to do a headstand. Second, it was the idea that she could stand on her head after having major skull surgery. The thought that we could take one of the most challenging things for our family so far and turn it upside down for something good was healing. And surprise to us, inspire others to do their own headstand and share it under the hashtag #wheresyourheadstand, was energizing! As we journeyed to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains to a family ranch for a weekend of branding, we were blessed with a magical twist. En route we decided to stop at the cabin where the photo was taken.

Here is Sarah's #dayinthelifeofmamalode series:

Good morning from Northwest Montana! My name is Sarah and I'm excited to take over @mamalode today as part of their #dayinthelifeofmamalode series. I'll begin with a quote, a quote that I've always believed in. “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” {Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo} Those twenty seconds of insane courage… that's how I begin most things—one being beekeeping. I've been a beekeeper for 7 years. This morning I'm out early peeking at the new hives. Later this morning we will embark on an adventure, I hope you'll join me! Happy to be here.

In a couple hours we head out to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains to a family ranch to begin a weekend of branding. I had to fumigate the house last night after the rhubarb syrup dripped over, blackened and burnt and smoked us out- it's worth it. Auntie Dawns Pie Recipe: 2 Cups Rhubarb, 1 Cup Whipping Cream, 1 Cup Sugar, 2T Four. Mix together in a bowl. Use your favorite double crust pie crust. Bake @ 350 in a ceramic dish for 75 mins. It doesn't matter how ugly your pie is, look at mine…folks just remember how good it is. 

Packing: when traveling, I've found homemade ditty bags are huge in keeping us five organized. Organization = one happy family.

#throwbackthursday Mae (now 10) she's our first born. We were living in a small town on the east side of the continental divide, at the headwaters of the Blackfoot River. My husband was a wildland firefighter at the time and we were in the worst fire season on record for our tiny town. As smoke blackened the sun and trees burst into flame I took this photo of Mae. This was 2 days before her skull surgery. Mae was diagnosed with Sagittal synostosis after she was born. Sagittal craniosynostisis occurs when the suture in the midline of skull that runs right along the top of the head, fuses early. She was two months old, my motherhood was two months old. This is when I learned about wildfire as well as refining fire. This is when I learned how to pray. Today I hope you'll join us as we drive through that same little town on our way to the ranch. Mae and I have a surprise for you when we get there. 

Today I skipped making lunches. Instead, swung in for turkey and swiss sack lunches for the road. This is my favorite deli. It's a place I've gone to since I was a child. Laurie always answers the phone and knows what we're ordering before we ask. She's famous for her peanut butter bars and special sauce and my kids refuse macaroni salad unless she's made it. There's a wood stove to stand by in the winter, Checkers and Lincoln logs too. It's a place to catch up with the locals and hear stories of the goodle days. It feels like home and smells like grandparents' cabin.

The kids keep asking the classic question #howmanymoremiles Fu Manchu says many more miles.

I've always prided myself on being strong. I grew up alongside two very adventurous brothers. We'd jump in the river each winter, climb peaks, race the horses.. I was proud of my strength. Facing Mae's surgery took a different kind of strength. One I didn't have. Her surgery brought me to my knees. I met fear in the eye and fought hard so it wouldn't overwhelm me. I became afraid to cry, afraid to feel, and afraid I'd be swallowed whole if I leaned into the pain. I remember holding Mae after her surgery, and holding my breath. With no skull to speak of on the top of her head, I felt I was carrying a house of cards. I looked at my husband and wondered a silly tired question aloud.. Will she ever know how fun it is to do a headstand? 

Mae came up with this idea after I read her the story I wrote about her surgery. She said she'd like to do headstands all around Montana and tell people about craniosynostisis, this particular headstand is a special one. Behind Mae is the little cabin we lived in, the cabin I took her baby photo in just a few days before her surgery. We'll begin our journey here. 

We invite you to join in the fun. It just takes twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery! #wheresyourheadstand

Do you want to know what I've learned? I've learned that I have to lean in. Life is messy. When I fought pain, when I worked hard to hide fear behind perfection, that's when my heart broke. Hearts are wildly strong, but they can't be hidden well. @glitterandgusto for #dayinthelifemamalode p.s kids, we're almost there. #wheresyourheadstand

He's my soulmate. Square Butte headstand. Charlie Russell Country. @glitterandgusto having so much fun with #dayinthelifemamalode 2 miles to go. #wheresyourheadstand

We pulled in the driveway and joined in the cattle drive. Now back at the house Otto grabbed his bike and pushed it to the top of the biggest hill. 

I don't know how to say goodbye. I woke up at 6am wondering what I would write about. The 20 seconds of bravery taking my first photo launched me into this amazing unplanned day with you all. I love your words, this community, this connection. It's deep. Mae took this parting shot. From my own journey I say to you… be brave, be bold, don't be afraid to love with your whole heart and #wheresyourheadstand ❤️ this is @glitterandgusto saying goodnight from the top of a hill for #dayinthelifemamalode & THANK YOU for following along.

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Erin Britt

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