Wednesday, June 17, 2020


I was up last night with thoughts of this post bumping around in my head. I've not written here in a while. Writing is an interesting thing for me. I am not a disciplined writer. I don't sit down and write everyday to keep my tools sharp or to develop advantageous habits. For me writing has always been a space in between. A kind of alternate mental state, an almost meditative experience in the way that it enables me to turn off the analytical over thinking part of my brain and engage my heart. I am able to put the armor aside and open myself to the messages that need to come. I usually write when I feel the words bubbling out, uncontainable. This post is different. Although the thoughts and feelings that will be expressed are pure and unaltered, I find myself in a constant state of questioning "is this okay to say? Meaning, "will this come off as racist? Will this sound ignorant? Am I showcasing my white fragility by even writing this? Am I taking attention away from voices that need to be heard?"

I've decided, that life taught me long ago and continues to teach me at every corner, that I can not let fear shrink my world. I will inevitably say something here that is many, if not all, of the above. I'm going to write this post anyway. I'm going to speak from my heart. As I've always held to, this will resonate and speak to whoever it is meant to. It will offend or anger, whoever it offends or angers. Some might just think it's crap.

All of my thoughts and feelings are very jumbled. I know I am not the only one. The collective energy of this world is so heavy, so urgent, loud and over stimulating for many right now. The universe is done with our foolish, selfish, ignorance, and is no longer accepting our meaningless excuses. This is a time of reckoning. A time to wake up, or die in your sleep.

I watched the documentary on Bruce Lee,  Be Water,  with my husband and son the other day. Although the focus of the movie was not this, what struck me most, were the parts about the civil rights movement that was happening at the time. The speeches, and protests, and anger and pain and cries for equality. I realized that not much has changed since then. Those same cries and protests are happening right now. THE SAME ONES. I don't have to tell you that Black people and POC have been asking and fighting for hundreds of years in America, and little has changed. There may have been some mediocre semblance of change and advancement, to make white people believe we were treating black people "right", but it's an illusion. Real change never happened. Real equality never happened. Real opportunity was never granted. Real respect and care and humane treatment is still being pleaded for, and being withheld.

And along with the renewed and very necessary upheaval that is this battle for basic human rights and equality for Black Americans, we have a pandemic happening. Yes, it's still happening. And the same selfishness and lack of empathy is being highlighted. There is still that percentage of people who can't look outside of themselves. Outside of their own comfort, their own financial situations, their own hopes and dreams for the future. They refuse to be "duped". They will not "live in fear" and put their own lives in danger by breathing that accumulated CO2 behind their mask (insert ridiculously huge eye roll here). They have rights. They aren't responsible for their neighbor, or the other kid in the classroom. They aren't scared to get COVID-19 so whether or not they happen to spread it to people who may be high risk is irrelevant to them.

And here is the gist of what I wanted to say, that had me so concerned about seeming to trivialize the BLM movement, by combining it with other current issues, but here it goes...

All of this, every bit of this, has to do with our hearts. How we as human beings care for each other and our world, or don't. How we allow ourselves to make excuses for why "those people" are in the wrong and undeserving of everything that we ourselves are deserving of. Because they didn't follow our rules. They came over illegally. They are sinners. They just don't work hard enough. They love the wrong people. They are high risk and we aren't so why should we have to take precautions. If they would have followed our rules and allowed themselves to be placed nicely into our boxes lined with values and beliefs, they could have been eligible for the same salvation, same rights, same opportunities, same healthcare, same education, etc. Many times in the name of religion, or the societal rules of a political party, we allow ourselves to degrade, segregate, and push aside other human beings.

I do not believe this is what the creation of this world was meant for. I believe we are completely outside and upside down of where we are supposed to be. I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way, and are doing their best to make changes, become self aware, take responsibility for their part in this tragic self indulgent mess. I also realize there is still a huge percentage of humans who refuse self introspection, refuse to take responsibility, and use their corrupt religious dogma as a way to feel okay about the hate living in their hearts and the intolerance in their actions.

I have hope for our future, and yet, I am scared by all of the people who "just want everything to go back to how it was." How it was is not sustainable. How it was is unhealthy and hateful. How it will kill us all. I know it is uncomfortable to face yourself. To hold your beliefs and actions to the light and examine them. It hurts. It's scary. And it can (and should) create a lot of change in the way you live your life. Do it anyway.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Being Seen and Not Heard

I'm 44 years old this year. The times in which I grew up, seem so different, from those that my kids are growing up in. Of course there are similarities. I mean we are on the same planet, in the same country, subject to some of the same societal expectations.

I don't need to say much about the major impact technology has had on the way of life over this last decade. I mean, wow, that's just big and not what I mean to focus on presently.

With age comes wisdom? I don't know if that is true for everyone. I do believe there are times in life in which most people, experience inner upheaval. Those times in which your previous ways of seeing the world, and especially seeing yourself, turn upside down. I would wager this happens for a huge population of women as they near 40. And it doesn't end there, it's really only the beginning of a rebirth that happens over many years. There are several spiritual and archetypal theories and traditions based on these very transitions. Most of which ring very true and speak deeply to me.

Being the age I am, I'd say I've been going through this portal for about 6 years now. Realizations, transformations, wounds resurfacing to be properly held up and healed, and deeper clarity on what gifts might live inside of me, and what I am meant to do with them.

No longer feeling regret for what was or might have been. Forgiving the maiden, knowing she did the best she could with what she had. I wish I could've saved her from some of those experiences, but that was not meant to be. Those experiences are part of my human experience.

This is all an ebb and flow of course. Times in which I am really trudging through it, and others when I'm "busy" doing life.

Relationships have changed, boundaries have been realized, triggers have surfaced that I never saw for what they were, and mine and my husband's relationship and parenting has been shifting.

Something I'm seeing with new clarity right now is the impact of that old adage that kids are to be seen and not heard. I've mentioned it in previous posts. I've always known that having been brought up in middle of that mentality hindered my ability to communicate my feelings well. But really, so much more than that challenge is imbued to the child that is silenced.

The constant need to people please

The inability to feel and process your emotions,as they must be stifled in order to stay silent

The physiological aspects of holding (while you are holding your tongue you are also holding your body taught. You become a container with an airtight lid)

No real understanding of the importance of holding personal boundaries

Feeling misunderstood

Feeling like any type of negative emotion is wrong or bad

Feeling responsible for other's emotions and happiness (by not burdening them with your own thoughts, ideas and especially feelings, you spare them the discomfort of having to talk about them or hold space for you)

These are only the few that come to the top of my head. The ones that have become apparent to me. There are more, as we are all different. We all internalize that rejection and pain of being unheard in personal ways.

I've come to realize, there are ways in which we tell our children that we don't want to hear them, without even being aware of what we are doing.

A couple of things I've caught myself, or my husband doing, in our attempts to make them "feel better" or "be respectful"...

If one of the boys is hurting, us telling them "don't be sad" or "It'll be ok, don't be bummed".

Of course it's our attempt to MAKE them feel better. It's uncomfortable for us to see them in pain and we want it to stop, to make them feel happy. So we tell them to stop feeling the things that are natural for them to feel, to only feel good, instead of allowing a little time and space for the not so pleasant emotions. That doesn't work, and only makes them feel like they can't share those hard feelings.

Telling the boys "don't talk back when I'm talking to you".

I get that there is a line here. At least I believe there to be. Kids, just like adults, need to learn to listen without just spending the time that someone else is talking coming up with their own responses. Tone of voice and intention play a huge part, I think. Discussion is good. Kids being able to disagree with their parents in a constructive conversation, is healthy. Where is the line between talking and talking back? Between talking with them and talking AT them. Working on that one....

I've learned that allowing the emotions is necessary. And it is still really hard for me. AND that allowing them, doesn't mean you have to live in them. Feelings are temporary. They are meant to come and go. To help us process. Yes, sometimes people get stuck in certain emotions for longer than is healthy. I think that is a fear, that if your child is sad, they will become depressed. Or is that just me? There are lots of resources and people that can help if things seem like they aren't moving forward. I believe knowing what and who those resources are is so important. If intervention is needed, do it.

It has taken my lifetime so far to become okay with allowing and expressing negative emotion, unhappiness, or feeling empowered enough to speak up if I feel my boundaries are being crossed, to those closest to me. Some of those closest to me are the ones that didn't want to hear it before, therefore the ones that I feel most vulnerable with. The ones I am most worried about causing pain, or making angry. I've never had a problem firing up (at all :)), showing dislike, or standing up for others, or for things I believe in. I didn't feel vulnerable in those situations. I felt like a protector, a leader, or an antagonist. It's in situations in which I need to truly reveal my pain, or my fear, ESPECIALLY my needs or desires (to which there is a deeply held belief that I am not worthy), in which I feel so afraid of opening up. Of being heard. Of speaking when not being spoken to. Of being shushed, or told to be quiet.

These are hurdles I hope to save my children from. God knows, I will not, as much as I try, do this parenting thing all right all the time. My husband and I will make mistakes, and cause pain. There may be things that my kids take from childhood that need to be healed later in life. As much as I hate that. I am realistic. I hope that feeling heard, empowered to speak their truth, to feel their feelings and to hold their own boundaries securely and with grace, is not one of those things on the list for the therapist.

I am in no way, shape or form an expert. I am not a therapist, or a parenting coach. I am not a guru, or even anywhere close. What I am is a truth teller. It's what I do. I share my truth, the good and not pretty with you. The stuff of my human experience. You might read this and think I'm talking out of my ass, or you might read it and feel some relief at knowing you aren't alone.  I lay this stuff out there for you to say this..." Guys, we are all in this together." We all make mistakes. Most of us are trying really hard and want to be kind and conscientious humans. We want what is best for our families. We want the world to be a place for future generations to grow and thrive, live and love. Being human isn't easy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Lesson

I've always thought myself a pretty willing student. I love learning, can even get a bit obsessive about it actually. I'm open to hearing new ideas and trying new ways of doing things. Okay, that one has come with age. I used to think it was my way or the highway, and that my way was always the right way. Ay yi yi. But see, that was just my way of controlling things. Being in charge. Like I was okay learning, but when it came to doing I took the reigns. I still find myself doing that sometimes. But now I try to see that for what it is and pull back when my leadership is not necessary. What I guess I'm trying to state here is....I haven't considered myself one of the "has to learn things the hard way" kind.

Yet, life keep presenting me with the same damn lesson, over and over and over again.

The last time this continual lesson popped up in it's newest reincarnation, I thought to myself, or actually to the Universe...." Haven't I learned this one well enough yet?! I've gotten SOOO much better at accepting uncertainty and relinquishing the gripping control. Do you have to keep beating a dead horse here?! What the actual fuck?!"

Because this time, as it often has before, it involved my kid. Because this time, God decided to kick it up a notch (in all her/his/it's wisdom and love) to remind me that.... no actually....I have not mastered this concept yet. That truly, this is a life long lesson for me. One I will get more proficient at each time I'm presented with the opportunity to practice, but one that won't stop being gifted to me throughout this life.

The acceptance lessons are tough. When they involve my kids, they take herculean effort on my part.

It is so ingrained in me to protect them, as it is most parents. I've realized in these last 5 or so years, that some of their life lessons too, will come with pain. That they too have soul lessons, life lessons, things that they are meant to endure. Situations that will help make them who they are meant to be. And I accept that, and I hate it.

This most recent "opportunity" for me, came in the form of my youngest having a seizure. In the middle of a hair cut. Falling down on the floor and seizing. He turned gray and stiff. His eyes rolled to the top of his head. Rigid arms, legs and head jerking. I thought he was dying in front of my eyes.

And 30 seconds later it was over. He was back. Scooped into my arms. Firemen on the scene. My oldest taking control like a boss, and me in this kind of calm-ish shock over what I just saw and what it might mean. I think it is the most afraid I have ever been.

I'm a delayed reactioner in the realest sense. This happened over two months ago, and I am just begging to realize how it affected me. I "deal with things" as they are happening. I take care of what needs to be done. I stay pretty calm and level headed, usually. But given a little bit of time, the fear, pain, confusion...they slowly sink in. I mean they have to. They need to be felt and acknowledged. It just happens on a later time line for me. Those feelings have some old armor to get around before they find their way in.

Scans were run, EEGs happened, all was clear. Which is a huge blessing, the same time, another way of making the uncertainty even more acute.

There is no explanation. There is no diagnosis. It could happen again. It might not. We just wait, and live, and see.

You've got to be kidding me right? No way of knowing why, or if it will happen again. My brain swirling with visions of him on the playground at school, having a seizure. Riding his bike down the street to a friend's, falling down having a seizure. In his room at night, having a seizure that I won't even see or know about. How am I supposed to do this? How can I let him out of my sight?!

I've told y'all before how vivid this chick's imagination can be. It's a blessing and yet....

I was sure my OCD and anxiety were going to have a flippin' field day with this. There was some compulsive googling, to be sure. There was definitely anxiety running through my veins and scrambling my thoughts, and still are at times. Like I said, definitely picture stories taking up space in my head. But nothing got out of hand. Nothing stuck in the glue for more than a day or two at a time. No real panic attacks. I've let him out of my sight. I do daily. Although the memory of the seizure still brings up such big fear in me, and in turn, prods on my deeply held desire for answers and control, I have accepted the fact that, I don't have those. I don't have answers, and I don't have, nor do I any longer want,control.

And I think of the parents who are enduring so much with their children. There is so much pain and sorrow happening right now. Be it due to physical or mental illness. Be it due to misunderstanding or other peoples' unwillingness to accept people who are unlike them. Be it due to death. Be is due to allllll of these things that our out of our control.

It is my lesson.

To accept uncertainty, plain and simple, with all of it's faces.

To accept that I truly do not have ultimate control. Not over life or death. Not over health or injury/sickness. Not over other peoples joy or pain.

That the desire and attempts at control are only pushing me backward on the path.

That when I see life through my spiritual eyes, my heart eyes, instead of the human eyes in my head, I know that my having control is unnecessary and pretty much a joke. That the desire for control  is based in fear. That real healing happens when fear is relinquished.

My lesson in this area began in my earliest childhood, and continues to this day. I understand finally, that this is the big one in this life for me. This is the piece de resistance. And no matter what opportunities it brings my way, I will meet them. I will embrace them. I will not push, or grip, or run like the sky is falling.

I embrace uncertainty and all that that means.

It is my lesson.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Keep Digging

Huh. I remember sitting here looking at this blinking cursor a few years ago, and not thinking twice. Typing like my life depended on it. Not stopping to over analyze. Not second guessing my motive. Not worried about the reaction the post might elicit. Not censoring or  sugar coating. Just knowing. Knowing I was supposed to be writing, supposed to be sharing, and following my soul's very loud instructions.

I miss that. I want that again. I want the walls down. I want the heart open vastness that living in your true naked power brings. And there is the key word, naked.

I have to allow the complete disrobing of myself. I have to say "fuck it" and just be me. Just speak my truth as I know it. And not just to allow it to be seen...but to live in it. To feel it truly and live it.

As year follows year I realize how very cyclical nature is. Our outer world, more obviously, but  our inner world just as potently, if not more. We don't get to see those inner cycles as easily. We have to attune to them, to feel them and recognize them, which takes time. We can look outside and see it's time for leaves to fall. But learning how to look inside to find that same knowledge takes continual practice.

On the outside, I don't seem to be someone who seems to worry much about "being me". I don't really consider myself one to be overly concerned about how I appear to others, or how they perceive me. I'm not easily embarrassed, nor very modest. I don't filter my photos or try to be someone I am not. And yet, there is a part of me, that lives in terror.

She lives in complete fear of being hurt. Of not being heard. Of not being enough. Of being over powered. Of being made fun of. Of failing. Of hurting others. Of making mistakes. Of being too loud. Of being wrong. Of rocking the boat. Of opening herself up.

I'm in a season of excavation. I believe we all go through these seasons, or cycles (see above :), and I think that may happen more for me then some because of my Scorpio-ness. The constant shedding and transformation. I think a lot of us shove it aside. We feel the nudge and discomfort. We know it's time to dig in and clean stuff out. But we also know that it ain't gonna be pretty, or easy, or feel good, and so we shush it. "Shhhhh" we tell that part of ourselves trying to heal and grow. "Not now, I don't want to."

I've realized during this most recent archaeological dig, that as much as I have grown, as much as I have become more aware of my thought processes and the way my body and mind react to one another, more aware of my tendencies to put up walls and stow away, there is still so much more to uncover. Or shall I say, those same places have much deeper and darker caves to be explored. So many split second decisions made, with out my conscious awareness, based on the conditioning and pain of my childhood that affect my relationships, my sense of self worth, and my ability to communicate. This conditioning that has directed my path thus far, has been based on fear mostly.

None of us leave childhood behind unscathed. Most of us know we "have baggage", but figure it's better left behind us where it happened. Why rehash? Why open old wounds? But how many of us take a magnifying glass to those old wounds? Invite them to tell their story? Look at the way those old owies are still showing up in our lives, and therefore, if a parent, the lives of our children? I believe this is our responsibility. This is an endeavor we must gather courage for and to see through, no matter how difficult. When it's time, you'll know.

That's where I am, friends. Peering closely at those boo boos and trying to really learn from them. To really heal them. To really forgive myself for decisions that I have made based on them. Trying to stay soft and open when all of my survival instincts are screaming for me to armor up and shut it down.

Shared, as always, will so much love. xo

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Time for Jr. High!

A letter to our kids (yours as well, if this applies), as we embark on this newest season. I wrote a version of this to my boy. It contained some additions, that were for his sweet eyes only. I hope my sharing this version can serve you and yours. We are living this life together, all of us. Whether I know you or not, you are part of my world, our world. Let us strive to serve one another and share our truths. Let us strive to raise young people into this world of OURS that lead with their hearts. Young people who treat themselves and the people around them with care and attention.

Time for Jr. High!

So here we are …Jr. High, and all the stuff that comes with it. All the changes. Your body and mind are being inundated with hormones, questions, challenging emotions… as are all of your classmates. There will be great days, and not so fun days as all of these changes take place. Friendships may fall to the wayside while new ones form. Studies actually show, that a very high percentage of Jr. High friendships are short term and/or don’t last through to high school. It’s happening to all of you though, what matters most is how you handle it.
Try to remember a few things for me as we tread these new waters…..
You always have us. Mom and Dad, and even brother. We are here to listen, to support, to guide and to enjoy one another. You can talk to us about ANYTHING. We will never judge you. We may not always have answers, sometimes situations just need to run their course, but we will always have your back.
You are a unique and beautiful person. Made exactly how God wanted you. Try to remember that when you are tempted to get down on yourself. God did not make us to be perfect. Not at all.
Use and sharpen your tools. These tools are NOT just for difficult times. They are life tools! They will serve you through out every stage. Breathing, meditation and prayer, journaling, paying attention to the way you talk to yourself and the way your thoughts are making you feel in your body (because you can change those thoughts to build you up rather than tear you down), exercise, time in nature, getting enough sleep and eating well. If you need help figuring out what tools to use, ask. If you are struggling, assess which tools you may be neglecting and kick it up a notch. You will notice a shift in a positive direction rather quickly. If you need additional support we can reach out for that too.
Remember to take risks. Nothing magical happens inside of your comfort zone. No growth or new learning. No new insight, nor adventure. You have to be willing to step out. Not every risk will pan out, or turn out how you hoped, but each one will always offer lessons and growth. You love learning, and taking risks is a great way to do that and to experience new things.
Lead with love and do your best. That does not mean you always have to “be nice” and get straight A’s.
That means, treat YOURSELF and the people you interact with, with love, respect and compassion. If they don’t treat you that way, give grace, maybe a second chance, because everyone is transitioning and people make mistakes, and then move on from them if they continue to act without care because you aren’t a doormat. Stand up for what you believe in, while understanding that others may not be on the same page.
 It means do your best by trying hard and giving yourself the appropriate amount of time and support. Trying to take your time and give things your attention. Practice to get more skilled, study to be sure you know the material, and give it your best shot.
Grow your gifts. Whatever those things are that light you up inside. That keep you wanting to learn more and always curious. The experiences that fill you up, bring you peace, make you feel more alive. Feed those, and share those. Keep us in the loop on what those things are so we can help you find opportunities to do them.
I think that covers it for now. I know these next couple of years will be filled with ups and downs. We will ride the waves together, as a family.
You are an amazing person, truly. We are blessed to be living this life with you. 
All my love, every second of every day,  Mom  

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Journey Continues

This post is a more detailed version of my OCD story, which I have shared previously. This post contains much more vivid recall of some of the intrusive thoughts that I've dealt with, in particular, those in the wheelhouse of HOCD and specifically those that came on after becoming a mom.

The journey continues....

It started when I was six years old. I constantly checked for my own heartbeat. I can’t tell you what I was thinking then, what obsessions were playing like a broken record in my mind. All I remember is feeling like I needed to make sure my heart was beating. I’d bring my shaky little hand to my chest and hold it there, waiting, eyes wide, until I was sure my heart was doing what it was supposed to, and I would continue living. I remember my mom saying, “Honey your heart is beating, you wouldn’t be breathing if it wasn’t”.

When I was about twelve I had to cough and flick my fingers. It’s like I was expelling the bad juju. I had to forcefully breathe it out and away. I can remember sitting in my living room, looking out the window coughing and flicking. I usually had to look outside when doing it, so I could direct the juju out there somewhere and not into whatever space I was in where it could be re-inhaled.

There were obsessions about the devil possessing me.

There were obsessions about being gay, when I was barely even old enough to know what that meant.

I would hold my breath around certain people that gave me weird vibes.

I avoided certain rooms in our house because they were cursed.

I’ve obsessed over my food being poisoned or contaminated.

There were times in which if I touched something with one hand, I had to touch it with the other, so I could feel balanced.

I've compulsively prayed. Over and over the same prayers from childhood. Not offering any solace, only making noise in my mind and giving me a moments reprieve from the fear.

I was somehow able to keep any outward compulsions mostly sequestered to home or in the car. I didn’t perform them at school or where anyone else, besides my family would see me. The majority of my compulsions were, and still are, mental, so most people would never know the way my own mind tormented me. They would never imagine the pure terror that coursed through my veins throughout most days. Besides being a little quirky, I probably seemed like a pretty average kid. Of course, my parents knew. My mom struggled with OCD herself growing up and knew right away what was happening with her little girl. She tried to find help, reaching out to the pediatrician, but in the 80’s there was not a lot of support for kids with OCD. The doctor gave me pills to help my anxious tummy and told me I was too young to be worrying so much.

I don’t remember having any real specific obsessions in high school. OCD, as I had known it, had taken a back seat. Anxiety and panic took the lead when I was about 16 years old. It came and went throughout high school, until one night when I was about 20. I was living with my boyfriend (now husband) at the time. We were in bed, when suddenly I had the most vivid thought of stabbing him through the chest. I broke out into a cold sweat. I shook with fear, and was terrified to move, because if I moved, I might move right on over to the kitchen to grab the knife. When I was able to get myself out of the bed I called my mom. I could always count on my mom. I told her what was happening. I don’t remember the details, but she talked me down somehow. Again, I was a master of disguise, completely composing my outward appearance. The man I lived with didn’t even know I was a soon to be ax murderer. Some months, or years later, I found a therapist.

I had been to therapy before that. Mostly talk therapy, for the anxiety, but had never seen an actual psychiatrist until somewhere around 23 years old. God, I can remember that appointment so well. I hold a special place in my heart for that doctor. I went into his office, sure he was going to tell me I was a threat to society, a sociopath killer about to be unleashed at any second. I knew I had to be honest and tell him everything. He made it easy. He had such a warm presence. When I was done spilling my guts and explaining how I was certain I was on the verge of completely losing my sanity, he looked at me with such compassion and certainty in his eyes. “You have OCD. A mild to moderate case. You are not crazy, and you are not dangerous.” Just thinking of it now, 2 decades later, still fills me with relief. It had a name. It was a real thing. The doctor had no question on the diagnosis. Of course, that didn’t leave me completely convinced, because OCD is the “doubting disease”. “What if he’s wrong? What if I’m the first case…the first one who actually does it, who acts out their obsession? Maybe he doesn’t see the whole picture and I’m really a dangerous killer?” He explained the way OCD works. He defined obsessions and compulsions for me. He explained treatment options. He emphatically insisted OCD was not who I was. In fact, very opposite of who I was at the core of my being. He told me that we would begin ERP and medication. He compared OCD to diabetes, saying just as a diabetic needs to take medication and care for themselves with diet and exercise, so would I. That with therapy, medication and self-care, I should find significant relief.

And I did. It took time. There was probably a year or so in which holding knives or cutting things panicked me. Many years in which I adamantly avoided the news and violent movies. But it got better, little by little. I plowed through, cut chicken even though it petrified me and, although it often sent me into a tail spin, even let myself be exposed to the terrible nightly news. For years following, I was nearly free of OCD. Or at least, when obsessions came, I was mostly able to recognize, relabel them, and refocus. I got married, had a career in banking and moved on. Then I got pregnant. At the time I was on Paxil, so immediately started weaning. I lasted almost the whole pregnancy. I began struggling again towards my last month (replaying past guilt inducing events over and over like a broken movie film in my mind) and the OBGYN started a very low dose of Zoloft. I had the baby, and post-partum OCD hit like a bullet train.

The first week or so home with the baby, I don’t necessarily recall intrusive thoughts, just intense consuming anxiety. I was not able to eat and constantly shaking. I was still able to care for him but looking back I’m not sure how I did.  It didn’t take long for OCD to pick a new obsession, and really it wasn’t new. The theme was the same thing I struggled against for years, now it just had a new target. The obsessions, of course, centered around my sweet new bundle of joy. More specifically, on throwing my precious baby against the wall and killing him. I have a vivid imagination which enables these types of intrusive thoughts to be very realistic and detailed. I saw every millisecond in slow motion. I’m leaning over my beautiful boy as he lay on his changing table looking up into my face. I go to pick him up, like I always do. Then, instead of holding him to my chest and kissing his head, I throw him, with all my strength, against the far wall. His arms and legs flail. He looks at me, wide eyed. His cry pierces my heart. I hear his head hit the hard-flat surface and see the blood on the light blue wall as his quiet body falls to the floor. My body would instantly be inundated with cortisol. My breath became shallow and sweat poured from me in sheets.

It’s difficult to remember this time with accuracy. I can’t recollect what behaviors I performed to counteract the intrusive thoughts, other than falling back into compulsive praying and reciting certain phrases in my mind on a loop ("it's alright, it's okay"). I remember some lovely moments of rocking him to sleep while singing to him. Looking into his angel face, nuzzling into his neck. I think it was just all mixed together. Pleasure and pain, moment to moment. But I was lucky in a sense. OCD was not new to me. Although I was completely overwhelmed and sickened by it, I knew what it was. I recognized this bully, even in its new mask.

 My trusty old therapist who began my OCD recovery was not available, but his office recommended another. I made an appointment and met another angel and we got to work. At this point I was a pissed off mamma bear. I was completely terrified, yes absolutely, but I was not going to let myself go down this pit. I was going to fight this with every ounce of my being, because now it was for my baby. I needed to be a strong and healthy mommy, and I knew that meant ERP. The new doctor and I got down to the nitty gritty immediately. I was habituating the obsessions by purposefully and vividly bringing on the images that filled me with panic. I was doing so many times each day. I was singing about killing my baby as I took my bath, letting the fear flood my body and the tears run down my face. As we strolled down the sidewalk on our daily walk I told myself out loud, today was the day, today I was going to kill him.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever EVER done.  And it worked. The obsession lost its power within a month or two. It no longer paralyzed me. The intrusive thoughts were not gone. They still popped in, but the fear associated with them, the worry that these thoughts meant something, was completely minimized.

That was 12 years ago. I stayed on Zoloft and continued to use “my tools” when things came up.
About 4 years ago I became a passionate yoga student. Followed by practicing meditation, then becoming a Reiki practitioner and teaching yoga. Almost a year ago I went off the medication, feeling I had the tools I needed to do this without the pills. I have grown so much since the beginning of my journey. I have learned breathing practices and mindfulness. I have delved into non-attachment, acceptance and the subtle energy body. I have essential oils and herbal remedies……

And…..several months ago I reintroduced Zoloft. I have grown, and I do have amazing tools and beautiful practices that have opened a whole new way of seeing the world and the people living in it…and I STILL HAVE OCD. My old friend, harm obsessions, came back to remind me of that. Gosh, I swear, you’d think OCD would come up with some new material after decades. It’s sneaky though. Even if the theme of the thoughts is the same (harming a loved one) the specifics will be slightly different. Just enough to create the rise of panic OCD feeds off of. Different enough to enable the worry that this thought is different, therefore a new manifestation of the truly hidden desire to kill those closest to me. Tricky tricky.  I habituated these old but new obsessions immediately. I, mostly, stole their thunder. I felt like sh*@ while doing it, but I did it anyway. And it gifted me with the opportunity to reexamine my self-care, and my beliefs. It allowed me to practice giving myself grace that I would not have otherwise known was lacking.

Grace because...when I began feeling like maybe it was best to go back to having the medication as part of my self-care potpourri, I struggled. I overthought it. I analyzed and investigated. I pro-ed and con-ed it to death. I reread vast amounts of information on OCD, what causes it and what treatments are most successful. Of course, this in itself was compulsive.

Ultimately, I was feeling beaten. I was looking at this as a failed attempt to live without the support that medication brings. I was taking the easy way out. I was blocking my path to enlightenment by adding this substance back into my body, into my life. I was admitting defeat, admitting that I didn’t have the mental or spiritual strength to do the work, to walk the path I’ve been given.

Oh, how we beat ourselves up. How we talk down to ourselves. How we twist our own reality. We sometimes expect so much more out of ourselves then we do anyone else. If my friend were in the position I am in, I know what I’d say. I’d support them. I’d tell them “you are a warrior, not broken but completely perfect in your imperfection.” That taking medication does not make them weak. It does not block their truest potential but actually allows it and supports it. That caring for themselves the best that they can, whatever that means, is the right thing to do.

So, I’m taking own advice. I’ve reintroduced medication. I’m continuing with my yoga, Reiki and meditation practice. I’m absolutely using ERP, and mindfulness. I'm allowing for various paths and supports to continue healing. And I’m remembering….

I am a warrior. I am not broken but completely perfect in my imperfection. I am just as I was meant to be. OCD and all.

I share this story with hope in my heart, that it will serve someone. That my story will shed light on OCD, in its various forms, for those who are unfamiliar with the disorder. And mainly, for other sufferers. New moms who are being tormented by terrifying intrusive thoughts and all-consuming anxiety. New moms who are afraid they will hurt their babies. Who only want to be the best parent that they can be but are battling for their lives in secret. You are not alone. This pain, this fiend has a name. And it’s not yours. It’s OCD. There is help and there is hope. Don’t hide in shame. Come into the light. There are lots of us here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

What Do You Believe About Yourself?

As adults, we have had lots and lots of years to form our belief systems. We have so many, even core beliefs, that we are unaware of, and yet our beliefs act as our subconscious autopilot.

Most of our core beliefs are formed when we are children. Our family dynamic, our earliest friendships, our primary school experiences, and for some, trauma, are the instigators to our deeply held beliefs about the world around us, and especially about who we are.

As children we internalize what we see, believe what we are told, and begin assigning meaning to things as a result, including our own strengths and weaknesses. We begin to differentiate between what we believe is good or bad. We begin to decide what we find beautiful and what we see as ugly. What is appropriate and inappropriate. What is worthy and unworthy. We begin to label things and people based on these new beliefs. We begin to label ourselves too.

Our beliefs affect out behavior, our thoughts and our emotions. They dictate our decisions and our responses.

Beliefs can be empowering or they can be limiting. They can build us up and invoke positivity, or the can weigh heavy on your shoulders, making us feel incapable or broken. Beliefs can enable us to share acceptance and compassion, or they can demand we seclude and judge.

Have you ever taken any time to examine your beliefs?  I know that sounds daunting! I mean there are so many, so many. But as with everything, we can start small, start where we are, and just grow from there.

I find catching my own self talk, a good clue into some of my long held core beliefs about myself. We say things to ourselves all day long. When something doesn't go the way we want it to. When something goes smashingly! When we make a mistake. When we are stuck in traffic. When we yell at our kids. When we finish a project. When we walk by the homeless man on the way to lunch. All day, all the time, we are talking to ourselves. I talk to myself out loud often too... at my desk , in the car, but that's another story :)

Becoming aware of that automatic self talk can be a huge light onto your hiding beliefs. And once you shine the light on them, guess what?! You get to this belief TRUE? Just because I believe this does not mean it's accurate. Or, even if it were true at some previous point, is it still? Is this belief building me up and pointing my in a positive direction? Is it helping me to feel strong and feel worthy? Or is this belief making me see myself as weak or unlovable? Is this belief enabling connection with other people? Allowing me to see them and love them? Or is it pushing me to create distance and judgment?

We get to decide you guys. We get to choose what we want to believe about our world, ourselves and each other. Our beliefs can and will change, as we grow and change. Look at your should and always and never statements and hold them to the light. It's not easy peasy, especially the older we get, but it's work worth doing.

Especially now, with so much attention on mental health, and for good reason, opinions are flying around. Statistics being quoted. Our beliefs rearing their heads and hopefully allowing support of ourselves and others, but possibly building walls instead. Our hearts affect our minds, our minds affect our bodies, our souls are always true and round and round it goes.

And if I may be so bold.......

Believe that you are strong
Believe that you are healthy
Believe that you are beautiful
Believe that you are worthy of every good thing
Believe that you are needed
Believe that you are loved
Believe that you make a difference
Believe that we are all connected
Believe that you are compassionate
Believe that there is always hope

Friday, February 23, 2018

Light, Please

"Shine your light!" I say it often, to myself and to my kids. It's usually the last thing I say to them in the morning, after I love you, as they swing open the car doors to race to the school playground.

I consider it part of my life purpose, to shine my light, and to remind you to shine yours. Every light, just like every being, is completely unique. Your light is different then my light. Brighter, softer, a different color, serves a different purpose. Not better, but different. Your light offers something that mine doesn't, and I need to see what that is. Your light offers growth and truth for me, as mine does for you.

Light can be understood in many ways. Just look up light on and you'll find a page of various definitions, nouns, adjectives, verbs. As I speak of light, I refer to something along the lines of....

the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible

Now, I know I'm a bit of a logophile and find excitement in words, but I love this definition. Light makes things visible. Basically we help each other see by shining our lights. How cool is that? I think it's pretty magical.

What does shining your light mean? How do you do it? Is there a hidden switch somewhere that you were not aware of? Can every person shine their light? What if I don't wanna shine my light? What if I wanna keep my light to myself. I'm not even sure I have a light.

We all have a light. Everyone of us. It never ever dies. It may go dim. It may struggle to shine. It may scare you to let it be seen. Maybe it's a funky and fantastic tie dye rainbow swirl and you are convinced there is something wrong with it. There is not. Your light is perfect. If you aren't ready to shine your light, that's okay. At least allow yourself to recognize it. Acknowledge it's presence. The more you acquaint yourself with your light, the more likely you are to begin to share it.

When I think of shining my light, I consider the why. I think, although the meta purpose for all of us is to walk each other through this earthly plane, sharing personal truth and offering support... opening eyes to things that may have never been seen, I believe each of us has a smaller more intimate place in that big picture.

When I shine my light I am authentic. I am ME. I do not filter myself, nor diffuse myself. I allow my personal truth to be known. My human struggles and my soul's desires. I puke my guts into a blog post and share it with you. I do not play small, instead allowing myself to fill the space if it's supposed to. I, for that time, live in my power, knowing my power offers you power. It offers you an opportunity to see something you may not have seen before. Most importantly when I shine my light, it invites you to shine your light. Like one candle lighting another. I gently bend to you, flame burning, wax melting and offer you ignition.

Sometimes I shine my light by offering comfort. By holding space for another and allowing them to just be. Giving them time to connect with their own light, maybe long since forgotten, or becoming aware of what might be blocking their light from shining.

Other times I shine my light by being silly. By encouraging us to laugh at ourselves. By telling personal stories with cuss words, extreme hand gestures and award winning facial expressions. It's a thing.

So maybe take a minute today. Think about your light. Visualize it inside of you and surrounding you. See it's color. See it's breadth. Feel whatever feels it brings on. Then ponder on how you share it. What are you doing when it shines most true? Do more of that. We need you to help us see.


Monday, February 5, 2018

The Self-Care Mash Up - Pills to Savasana

Self Care. It's become a bit of a buzz word I guess, but seriously, I think it's worthy of the buzz. I imagine some of the responses when people hear self care mentioned probably go something like this....

"Oh geez, people, come on. Quit worrying so much about whoo whoo self care and just sack up already."

"Self care? Who has time for self care. I work, and have kids, and don't have enough hours in my day as it is. I'm lucky if I get the gym twice a week"

" Does wine count as self care?"

"I'm all about self care! Meditation, yoga, plant medicine and all natural EVERYTHING all the time!"

It can be tricky, finding a version of self care that works for you, and understanding that it can and will change.

Self-care can be defined as any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”

As with most things, I have found giving grace in this area is the key. Grace allows for balance. Because honestly, it's easy to get wrapped up in all or nothing thinking.

I've kind of always been one of those people who has friends in various circles. I find different points of view intriguing, and like to give and take. Sharing ideas, beliefs, ways of doing things that differ, that get you thinking and exploring, and then deciding which of those you can add into your potpourri, and hopefully offering something that someone else can add to theirs. I do believe we are all different for a blessed reason, and no one way is right for everyone.

I am a student and teacher of yoga. I meditate and share guided meditation with my yoga classes in most instances. I have been attuned to Reiki, share Reiki and have attuned others to Reiki. Being part of this circle of gorgeous souls, has taught me so very much. I have become open to parts of myself I really wasn't sure existed, and have grown in my capacity to give and receive love and compassion, and my ability to train my breath, thoughts and reactions exponentially.

I have found that some in this "circle" of wellness can be anti-western medicine at all costs, leaving it ostracized from their self care regimen. Medication may be considered poison and likely blocking you from reaching your fullest potential. Plants, breath, self inquiry and awareness, essential oils, juicing and supplements are IT. All you need to live a healthy, happy, authentic life.  I love all of those things, but do not believe they are the only way.

 I hold faith close to my heart and have a treasured relationship with God. The Creator loves us unconditionally, as we are and as we can be, and every single one of us has God's love. No matter your religion, no matter your sexual preference, no matter if you read the bible, the Torah , the Qu'ran or any sacred text at all. Even whether or not you believe in the One, God, Goddess, Great Spirit, etc. He/She/It believes in you.

I have found that some in the "circle" of spirituality can put so much emphasis on religion that they neglect to see the other beautiful options of self care available. So much fear of good versus evil, causes them to try to pray away their trouble, which is likely caused (in their minds) by sin or the devil. They are often afraid of "letting things in" or "letting their guard down", which unfortunately can be very limiting for your self care options.

I've done quite a bit of self study in terms of the science of the brain and mind, as well as mind body connection. I'm not a trained professional. I am not a doctor. I've been to see a few though (as have most of us), doctors for my physical health as well as my mental health. I've participated in therapy, and even took part in a study through John Hopkins on the role genetics plays in OCD.

I have found some in this "circle" of science find it hard to believe in anything without having experienced it themselves and/or cold hard facts. Alternative therapies aren't given much support, not often recommended and kind of looked as..."sure try it, it can't hurt, but don't expect it to actually work." Sometimes they want to throw medication at everything and that is scary.

I do see this changing, which I think is very exciting. I recognize that many more alternative therapies are being covered by health insurance companies, and offered in hospitals as supportive/in-tandem options. This very much plays into my potpourri theory.

As you read this please know, I am not trying to create a separation between these some and the rest. I believe with my whole heart that we are one. I am pointing these things out to say, not everyone (inside or outside of your circle) is going to support your self care plan, and that is absolutely okay. Doctors may recommend things that don't ring true for you. You can say no. Friends may not agree with your choices. That is their prerogative and it really doesn't matter.  The only one that needs to believe in your plan is you. That's were the potpourri comes in......

I recently posted something on Instagram about prayer. I described my prayer life, and the potpourri I have created, that serves me well. I look at self care the same way. I love potpourri you guys! I little bit of this and a little bit of that. Exactly what is right for you, and only you. I can often be overheard saying, "take it with a grain of salt'. What I mean by that is... read that book that everyone is recommending....try that class that your friend guarantees will make you feel great....learn the stuff. And as you do, listen to yourself. Take the parts of that book, or class, or whatever that work for you and leave what doesn't. You don't need 100% buy in all the time.

My self care potpourri changes occasionally, but the main ingredients usually stay pretty true. I shoot for balance in these areas, sometimes I achieve it, sometimes I don't. All about balance and grace y'all!

I allow western and eastern and alternative therapies and medications to work together for my mind and body (that has included an anti-anxiety med. in the past, and may again someday in the future because that works for me, and there is no shame in my game).

 I exercise mostly by staying active in things I enjoy doing like hiking with my family, yoga, and even sometimes working out (I don't really enjoy that last one very much, but as I get older I see the benefits and feel it is worthy of a place in my potpourri).

I am conscious about what I eat (most of the time). I enjoy food and like to keep it nourishing. I don't eat animals or dairy. I juice... sometimes.

I pray the way I want to (see the aforementioned IG post) and I meditate.

I write and take pictures, re purpose things and paint rocks with my boys to feed my creativity.

I allow myself to rock out to loud music and dance with the kids, and in my car, and whenever it feels like a good time.

I support others, through sharing yoga, Reiki and holding space, through volunteering at my kids school and by being there for my loved ones. You may not see that one as self care but I do. Giving to others is a beautiful and unique way to give to ourselves and fills a very special place. Again balance is key. Can't support others without supporting ourselves; can't pour from an empty vessel, all that jazz.

Maybe take a few minutes today to ponder your self care potpourri. Have you been allowing others' ideas and beliefs to limit what you allow yourself access to? Have you been stuck in the scenario of no time for me? Do you sometimes feel defeated before you even start? Remember, it doesn't have to be all or nothing guys. It doesn't have to be a perfect plan, and it doesn't have to be right for anyone but you.

Take care of you, whatever that means and however feels rights. You know best.

So much love.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Weight on Our Shoulders

This morning, is one of those mornings already. One of those mornings in which I feel the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders and tight in my chest. I'm weepy and stressed and I've been awake for an hour. Today is Wednesday. On Wednesday I don't go into the office. The boys have a short day at school, so I have about 4.5 hours of the morning to myself. I always intend to use this weekly allowance as "me time". Ya know, yoga, maybe a hike, or read a book in the sun, just some time for me to breathe and center. Because truly, a happy and healthy mamma, makes for a happier and healthier family. That happens about a third of the time.

We just wrapped up a several week break from school and work. This is our first week back to the regularly scheduled program. So this Wednesday, today, I have a list a mile long. Phone calls that need to be made, stores I need to go to so I can feed my people and my pets, some bills to pay, you know the drill. And you know what friends? It just feels like a lot.

I feel, this morning, like I am responsible for EVERYTHING. And I'm sharing this with you, because I know you've felt it too.

Grocery Shopping (which entails several stores because everyone needs something special) This is my least favorite chore of all chores. I may have mentioned that before.

Cleaning up the house


Scheduling appointments

Calling on accounts because we can't remember user names and passwords


Backing up technology

Giving the damn dogs their flee medicine


Pick up the kids

After school crossfit and homework




All the stufffffff


I want to shout....I can't do everything! I can't remember every one's everything!

Then as the shouting subsides, a little quieter I realize, ... I don't want to do it all.

And now, pours forth the real feels, the wordless and soundless and buried......I sometimes feel like I'm drowning in other peoples expectations of all that I am supposed to do and keep track of.....I'm sorry I am not always able to do it all.....I feel like a failure..... sometimes I want to hide away where no one can expect me to get things for them, know the answer to every question, remember every story and request, be the strong and positive cheerleader and make everything better. Tears. Anger. Why doesn't he help more? Why do I have to feel the weight of all of this? Why can't he see how much this all is? Guilt. Because how blessed I am to have this family and these things and money and a home and food. And how can I complain and bitch and moan while people an hour away are loosing homes and LIVES to natural disaster? Worry. Tension. Emotions battling for the most attention. Release.

Deep breaths now. Lots of deep slow breaths.

Forgiveness now. Because I am human. They are human.

Gratitude now. I am truly honored to be their mom, and happy to be his wife. Because we are alive. Because I get to think and feel these things and then choose a new way to think and feel.

Feeling more centered now. Grounding. Breathing. Oh breath, how I love thee.

Moving now. Away from the keyboard. Off to get dressed and get on with my day. With a little less weight on my shoulders and a bit more pep in my step. <3

Monday, September 11, 2017

There are Always Reminders

It began like most other weekend mornings. I tried to sleep in. The kids "tried" to be quiet. Around 8:30 I took off the black sleep mask and shuffled to the kitchen to make my coffee. That's what I do, and everyone knows not to ask too much of me until that warm cup of joe is in my hands and I've had a few sips. I had kicked the coffee habit a while ago. No coffee at all for about 6 months. I'm back to one cup in the morning, usually no more. But still, that one cup is like the light switch right? Sometimes, before I go to bed, I get excited thinking about how I am going to wake up and drink a cup of coffee. More on that sad state of affairs another day.

Anyway, got my wake up juice, and perched myself on the outside step, sun in my face, welcoming the day. The plan was to head to the beach. We usually spend at least one of the weekend days at the beach, the other normally ends up being chock full of chores. Whether it's playing on the dunes, or getting in the water, it is one of our favorite ways to spend time as a family. On our beach mornings there is usually a little bit of back and forth between the hubs and I as to when we should leave. He has an incessant need to be early for things. He likes to get up and go. Be there early, before everyone else gets there. Easier parking, less traffic, lots of day left by time we get home. Blah blah blah. I, on the other hand, am usually in no hurry. I like to cruise around the house, drink my coffee, pick up a little bit. I don't really care how many people are there or if we need to park a little bit away. I'm usually not in any race against the clock to get home either (laundry, vacuuming, and the dreaded grocery shopping are waiting for me there). There is also the fact that I like to wait until it's a bit warmed up, and he prefers it on the chillier side.

While he and I hammer out the itinerary, the boys are usually playing a video game together. Still in their jammies (well one is probably in his chonies and the other is usually naked - because he sleeps nude and on the average is only half dressed if we are lucky). We begin yelling down the hall "get your swim trunks on and grab an extra set of clothes" knowing very well that we will do this at least 4 more times before it happens.

Hubs starts packing up the surf board, the boogie board, the wetsuits, if we are bringing the dogs, all of their crap. I gather towels and a blanket. I grab snacks and drinks. Eventually the boys are ready, and we load up into the truck. At this point someone is beginning to get grumpy because of something. Now, one of the boys remembers they forgot something and has to go back into the house. Dad starts getting impatient, and the other boy is mocking his brother for always forgetting things. Now, everyone is in, buckled, and ready to ride. Tension may now be felt via the vibes.

This last weekend all of this went down just as usual, except there was some additional arguing. At this point, I honestly could not tell ya what it was that happened, but littlest dude was full of some major 'tude and in tears by time we got around the corner to the gas station and had announced he did NOT want to go to the dumb beach. I grabbed the worry stone husband keeps in his center console, along side the squeezy stress ball. I slowly and methodically started rubbing the shit outta that thing. I felt the lava building up to a boiling point and really did not want to spew something mean, or "turn this truck around" and go home, but was very close.

As I was sitting there, caressing the flat obsidian stone, trying to bring forth calm (imagine big furrow/crease in between my brows cause that is exactly what happens), a friend drove by. She didn't see me, but I saw her, and was instantly put-in-check. Just seconds prior my self talk consisted of "what the fuck?! This family can't just go have a nice day at the beach without arguing and fighting. Why can't we just be nice to one another? When will this end? I need a freaking break!"  I thanked my angles right then, the moment I saw her face through that windshield, knowing that seeing her was my reminder that this shit show was a blessing. I was lucky to have my pouty and sassy faced boys in the back of the truck and my, probably grumpy by now, husband who was pumping gas. Just because it's hard as hell sometimes, doesn't mean it's not worth every second of it. AND, it could all change, immediately and without warning.

My friend, the one that angles sent at that moment, lost her son about 5 years ago. Very suddenly he was gone from this world, from her world, gone. I worked with her at the time. I saw it all go down...her getting the phone call. I remember seeing the doodles she had been making on her notepad that lay on her desk, only moments before the call came in. Feeling the weight of her world imploding, leaving her and her family breathless, in unfathomable shock, reeling, reeling, reeling. I will never forget it.

When I saw her it was an instant wake up slap to the face. Was there anything in this world she would not give to have her boy back? Even with attitude, rolled eyes and frowny face. She would give anything and everything. Angels can backhand ya pretty hard when they need to. And messages can come instantaneously...

Stop focusing on the stuff that makes you feel UNgrateful

Stop perpetuating this negativity

Energy flows where your attention goes

Look behind you at those boys, love on them now, no matter what

They are learning from you Trisha. Learning how to be in this world. How to handle their frustrations and disappointments. How to express their feelings. Your reaction to situations like these mean everything.

People, even the ones you love, will not always behave the way you wish them to. You can only control the way you behave.

Calm promotes calm. Be the light. Be the example. Teach them.

The hubs got back into the car and gave his own little "let us start over and have a good day" speech. It was just what everyone needed to hear to push the reset button.

We made it to the beach. Littlest just wasn't into to it that day. My oldest totally was. So he and dad played in the ocean for an hour or more. The dogs ran and swam and got filthy. And my youngest and I chilled on the sand. He complained and pouted now and then. I grumbled about his attitude a couple of times...just cause I got the wake up slap doesn't mean I'm gonna be the perfect-grateful-calm mom all of the sudden, come on (insert eye roll here). I reminded him how lucky we are to live where we do. To get to be at the beach every week if we want to be. We talked about what is happening in Texas and Florida and how that scares him and how sad it is. It's so eye opening to just listen to their little hearts and the thoughts invading their minds sometimes. I would be a grumpy little shit too every now and then if I had all of that goin' on inside of me. Which we all do, ergo our occasional grown up tantrums.

The day wasn't extraordinary. It was typical. A usual Saturday for our little tribe. Well intentioned plans, some attitude and grumbling, some fun in the sun, gratitude re-found, new promises to self to and to each other. And the reminder. Ya'll know I love reminders <3

Thankful for my boys (big and small). For our imperfect family, that struggles and fights and comes back together to keep trying and to love fiercely. For the angles who don't give up on me and continue to offer guidance and reminders. For the good, the bad and the ugly.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School

Here we are, about to start another new school year. In just a few days, the boys will be waking up early, packing lunches and new backpacks, and heading to their new classrooms for the year. They are excited and a little nervous, just as I always was the days before the first day of school when I was young. I remember not being able to sleep. Laying in bed, looking at my first day of school outfit hanging on my closet door.

 I find it difficult to sleep these days leading up to the first day of school as well. I lay in bed once everyone gets to sleep and begin to think, wonder, visualize and pray. Not so much worry anymore, just pondering, and becoming clear on what I hope their time at school will be like. Things come to mind, that sometimes I jot down in one of the journals laying on my bedside table. Things that I want to make sure that they truly know.

So, to my boys, on this eve of our newest chapter....

You know once Mommy gets writing things just start pouring out. I'll try to keep this clear and not super long. I lay awake last night thinking of you both, seeing your faces in my mind's eye. Thinking about how much you have grown over the last year, about your individual gifts, about the areas that challenge you, and most of all, your sweet hearts.

First of all, the love that each of you holds in your hearts is tangible. You are both deep feelers. You both express those feelings in very different ways. But you both have soft, sweet hearts. As we get older, we begin to be challenged by numerous situations, some of which threaten to, little by little, harden our hearts.

We might be treated disrespectfully, or even cruelly,  by an unkind classmate. We might feel judged by others for what we wear, how we look or the things we enjoy. We might have a teacher who doesn't seem to understand us and may not offer the support that we need. We might really struggle in certain academic areas leaving us feeling like a failure. We might begin to feel pressure to act a certain way to fit in, even when it doesn't feel right inside. Oh my babies, growing up is not all ice cream sundaes. BUT, as we have agreed to in our family, we get to decide how to respond to every situation. We don't have to be swept away helplessly. We can choose to look at these situations that maybe hurt our hearts and make us sad or mad, and use them in our favor, and in the favor of others. These are opportunities to learn new things about ourselves and to become stronger, braver and more compassionate.

Let us not allow the difficult times to harden our hearts. Let us allow those times to open our minds and hearts to new ways of being an even brighter light in the world. Let us treat everyone kindly. Let us be good examples of God's love by being honest, caring and encouraging, with ourselves and with others.

You are worthy of respect, just as you give respect and real friendship. Do not accept "friendships" that feel disrespectful. Friends are there to build one another up. To enjoy time together and share interests. To encourage and support. If you have a "friend" who talks badly about you, or is unkind, they are not your friend. You are empowered to stick up for yourself, doing so calmly and with clarity.

Give everyone a chance. Smile at the new kids and ask them to join you on the playground. You know how hard it can be to feel like you are on the outside looking in. They may be afraid to talk to the other kids, maybe have no one to sit with at lunch. Let's help them feel included and welcomed. Even if there are other kids giving them the side eye, or passing judgment, cause that's just so not cool. You may never end up talking to the new kid again after a day or two, or they could end up being your new bff. You never know.

Enjoy being part of a team when the time is right. Working together with other people isn't always easy. Everyone has different ideas, personalities. and boundaries. That is exactly why it's important to do it. It gives us a chance to hear other peoples' ideas, and maybe think about things in a new way. It lets us be part of some give and take, some compromise. You guys are smart cookies, but you don't know everything. Allow yourself to see things from another point of view. There is no reason to fear other people's beliefs or ideas...your heart will always lead you back to truth, AND your truth might just expand to include some cool new stuff.

Give it your all. I know some school work can be boring. It can be hard, but hard is not bad. Hard stretches us, grows our perseverance and patience. You may want to do things differently than you are being made to do them. Share your ideas with the teacher if he/she asks. Ask questions, lots of them. There will be subjects that you really enjoy, that excite you and spark ideas....and there will be some that you just have to get through. But doing our best, no matter how much we really like the work, is an important lesson. Don't do things willy-nilly just to get by, AND don't expect perfection from yourself, because there is no such thing. Just do your best work. Again, your heart knows what that is. That little voice will speak to you if you listen. It'll tell ya whether or not you are giving it all you've got. Getting an education is a gift. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The world has so much to offer. There are so many adventures to be had. We are students throughout our lifetime, only a small portion of that learning actually happens in school. These school years will be a distant memory before you know it.

Talk to Mom and Dad about all of it. Don't be afraid to share with us. You will never be judged. You will always be accepted and forever and ever loved for exactly who you are. We will help guide you. We will correct you when it's needed. We will kick ya in the ass if you are wallowing or not living nearly to your potential. We will be honest with you. We will laugh and cry with you. We will hug you and love on you. We will advocate for you. We will do hard things with you. We will encourage you to take the risk, to climb the mountain, to push yourself enough.

Lastly, my little dudes, just be you! Be who you are, wear what you want to wear. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Like the stuff that you like, even if the other kids aren't into it. Remember that you are who you are for a very special reason. We need your unique gifts. You have tremendous things to offer this world just by being yourself.

Here's to a year filled with new experiences, growth, self discovery and fun <3

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Time to Stop Hiding

The stigma surrounding mental health is a such an enormous barrier in terms of healing. So many people are afraid to speak about their struggles. We don't want to be seen as weak. We don't want to be considered ill or broken, unstable or dangerous. We worry it will effect friendships and professional lives. We worry and we hide.

But there are so many of us you guys! Honestly, I don't know of a human being that does not combat demons, whether or not they are diagnosed with a mental illness. I mean, think about all of the people running around who are tormented and stay silent, never receive a diagnosis, never get treatment or support of any kind. That is heartbreaking to me.

Why do those who are challenged in a mental/emotional way, get treated differently then those challenged by a physical illness? Because we can't "see it", and we only believe what we can see? We have all seen someone with a mental illness that is noticeable in an outward manner. Usually homeless, wandering, talking to imaginary people, possibly acting out aggressively. Those people we know and believe are ill because we can see it. It more than likely makes us uncomfortable, and we probably avoid them.

Now, I've never really been one to care too much about what other people think of me. It's a double edged sword of course, but it does allow me to be honest and not beat around the bush. And yet, as I look back at my child self, I can recognize now, how at a very early age I learned to hide part of myself from the public at large, and build walls to protect myself from being found out and consequently hurt.

I started noticeably struggling with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Without getting into all the medical and scientific "stuff" there are several types of OCD, one being that which runs in families, is passed down genetically. This type usually starts rearing it's head in childhood versus adolescence. I come from a long line of superstitious triple checkers. Cousins that couldn't pass buy certain bushes without touching them and uncles who made funny twitches with their mouth before they took a drink, cause they just had to. My mom had obsessions and compulsions as a child, and knew immediately what was happening when she noticed my first compulsion, which was feeling for my heartbeat to make sure it was still beating. Poor Mom, she knew the terror I felt inside. She tried to help, but there wasn't a lot of information on OCD 35 years ago. We all just thought we had a quirky family.

As I got older the obsessions and compulsions changed. I was always able to keep it mostly hidden at school or away from home. No one ever knew about the broken record that was incessantly playing in the background of my mind or the petrifying fear that would overtake my body by the visual obsessions that would flash through my thoughts uninvited and unwelcome. There were times when OCD wasn't even evident and I had a break in the action. I don't remember having too much of it in high school, but then traded the obsessions and compulsions for anxiety and panic attacks.

I tried talk therapy. I prayed. And finally in my early twenties, when the violent obsessions and panic attacks became so challenging, I saw my first real psychiatrist. Mind you, I was working and going to school... in retail management, and some college courses. No one suspected a thing. I lived with my boyfriend (now husband) and he knew I struggled with anxiety, that I sometimes got nervous or spacey, but had no real idea about what I was going through. My mom knew of course, I could always talk to her in detail about the scary thoughts and feelings and she always understood. But as terrifying as it all was, as much as it literally took my breath away, I was somehow able to maintain the facade. I was working and going to school. I didn't ever miss days due to "illness". I was dedicated in whatever I was doing and would not allow myself to "be weak".

I still remember my first appointment with Dr. Plesons, and still hold a tender place for him in my heart. He listened and asked questions. I thought for sure I was crazy and dangerous and he was going to tell me so. He was so kind, and so knowledgeable. He comforted me and shared with me about his own family. And he gave me the first official diagnosis of OCD. "It's a mild case" he said. "NO way!" I said...."there are people that have it worse then me?!" I immediately held such compassion in my heart for them. We discussed the genetics, the ways to talk back to it, and even challenge it, began ERP and I started taking medication. I saw Dr. Plesons for some time. I remember one time asking him "but WHY, why do I have these terrible thoughts, what if I actually do something really horrible one day?!" And so clearly recall the sweet look on his face, and his calm and confident response "I would trust you with my son in a heartbeat. OCD is not you. It is not who you are. It is the opposite of who you are, that is why it terrifies you to your core"

He eventually took a hiatus. Going on a sailing trip with his family, and I ventured out on my own. Throughout the years, I continued to take medication, read countless books and found another fabulous therapist. I obtained so many cognitive behavioral tools that I continue to use to this day, and even teach my own kids. I discontinued medication 10 years later when I became pregnant and resumed it after I had the baby, because the post partum hormones and a very vulnerable new baby who's life was purely in my hands, brought OCD and anxiety back with a punch to the gut. But it didn't last long. I faced it. I applied exposure therapy and made myself continue to fight. I had even more reason now to be strong and to be badass. I was not backing down or hiding in a corner afraid of the dark. I couldn't and I wouldn't. I even volunteered to become part of a study through John Hopkins University. I gave a blood sample, as did my parents. I did surveys. I gave what I could to the research because I believe knowledge is power and I want to be of service.

I'll be 42 this year. This has been part of my life for 36 of those years, on and off. When I was about 38 I began practicing yoga, meditating, and learning about Reiki, plant medicine and other alternative therapies. I have always been an avid learner, not always the best academic student, but always thirsty for knowledge and propelled to share what I learn to offer help and support to others. It took time for me to soften myself after years of holding a defensive posture. It took time to quiet myself after years of endless mind chatter. It took time to open myself after years of ceaseless fear. And I have found a new level of healing. It's a whole healing, not just a healing of the mind. It's amazing and magical. And I know, I will still find challenges along this path. It's not all unicorns and rainbows. I don't ever count out the possibility of medication or therapy as a support again, and I, to this day still utilize self directed exposure therapy when things come up. But I live in today as much as possible, not in yesterday and not in tomorrow, so I will take it as it comes. I know I don't struggle alone, nor do I struggle as badly as many. I strongly believe OCD has been part of my life experience for a reason. I don't hate it, even though there have been so many times (years worth) that I have wished it away. I am not ashamed of it, and will not hide from it, or from you. I now use this part of who I am to support others in healing. It is the most beautiful gift.

You guys know by now, I am a believer in sharing, and letting it all hang out. I don't want to hide things about my human experience that could support or encourage you, even if it is scary for me to share. I want you to know you are not alone. You are not broken (even it you feel that way). It is never ever hopeless. It's okay to come out of the shadows. I know you think you are the only one, that no one could really understand, and probably that there is something "wrong" with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are exactly who you are supposed to be. There are people who can help, and there are people who love you. It doesn't matter what the ones that don't think or perceive. They are seeing you through their eyes, and their dream. No matter what you do, that is the case. There will always be people who judge. People will give you opinions, even if you don't ask for them (take medication, don't take medication, talk to someone, therapists are just quacks, try acupuncture, don't waste your get the picture). You have to discover what works for you. YOU are the only YOU there is. Completely unique from any other person. Their experience is not yours. My experience is not yours. There will likely be several ways to support yourself, some conventional, some alternative, or who knows, maybe you'll come up with one of your own. Find your mental wellness.

Be who you are, because I know in my heart, we are all who we are for a reason. We need each other's healing. We need each other's contribution. I need you to be the gift that you are meant to be. I know it's terrifying...AND I know you can do hard and scary things.

With abundant love