Friday, July 5, 2013

The Having It All Project: Gina Sampaio

Gina was led here by Having It All Project participant Kimberly Hensle Lowrance (my soon to be BFF after we conquer BlogHer together). Gina's a new blogger with a great story to tell, so I hope you'll check her out. Here's how Gina is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique. 
On paper I think my life probably sounds pretty boring: I’m a crafty, cooking-from-scratch kind of stay at home mom married to someone I went to high school with and we live within ten minutes of each of our parents.  

Yawn. That’s the kind of person I make fun of, isn’t it?

But I guess that’s also part of what makes me unique. I’ve always wanted to be a home-cooking mama but I never wanted anyone to tell me that was all I was allowed to be. And now I am a fierce feminist that spends most of my time in the kitchen and busy with my five children while constantly challenging what being a SAHM means.  I write a blog that, yes, has to do with parenting and baking, but even more has to do with the challenges of attempting to navigate an open adoption after foster care as well as having a transracial family in a predominately white area.  Another topic I write about is surviving sexual assault in college and how that continues to affect me. Last year I was fortunate enough to get involved with the Meta Theatre Company, a troupe whose goal is to not only entertain but to educate and further social justice causes. With Meta I use my personal survival story as a vehicle to not only talk about resilience and survival but also racism and white privilege. I am so happy to be able to combine my loves of acting and activism. 

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos? 
I hide.
Well, only sometimes. When you’ve stopped counting how many whiny breakdowns you’ve heard in one day and you hear the drone coming at you again, quick! Go jump behind the shower curtain! If they sound freaked at being unable to find you, give a quick little, “you can’t find me” and suddenly a game of hide-and-seek has been started and the whiny complaint has been forgotten.

Bigger picture? Prioritize and lower my standards: I realized I won’t give up making bread or granola bars for my family but I can live with only having a clean floor or laundry put away once a week.  I have learned to say no to commitments that I technically could handle but would give me just one more thing to juggle. If I have any guilt about it, I help in a smaller way (for example, NOT volunteering to be class mom but agreeing to help with one party or event during the school year.) I have no shame about calling on my village to help me and in turn I try to play the part of villager to other people’s broods. 

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it. 
Clearly the worst time of my life had to be surviving the break-in/sexual assault. But even when I was feeling like I didn’t care if I died, I knew deep down that there was a spark inside me that would guide me to surviving and thriving. One of my three sisters even admitted that it was good in a way that happened to me and not to one of them, because I seemed more likely to get through it.
As far as it all breaking down for me as a parent . . . would you believe me if I told you there hasn’t been a time like that? We’ve certainly had tough times to get through together. Top in my mind is all the times we had worries about our foster children, when we didn’t know if they would stay or go, when we worried about their birth parents’ safety, when the state was making us jump hoops with ridiculous demands. Then there have been all the regular crazy times: too much going on, too many kids, bouts of extended family drama. But when I reflect back on it, I would never say there was a time it all broke down and I am sure that’s a direct result of my marriage being as strong as it is.
Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you? 
I can’t say that I do. I feel like I’m forging my own path on this one. 

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then? 
 When I turned 18 I just wanted to get away from my hometown already. I think I knew I hadn’t yet figured out exactly who I was and I had no clear image of that person but I was ready to find her.
Now I often remark that I had no idea what my dream life looked like, but I’m somehow lucky enough to be living it anyway.

Relate to what Gina is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at!

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