Category Archives: Health

They’re finally asleep…

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…and now I can see how amazing this day was.

I thought it was a bad day. In some respects, it was. My temper was short. My mind was occupied, attention elsewhere. I didn’t get a shower or do much of any self-care today. I was primarily concerned with my goals, most of which I didn’t even accomplish.

However, two things became glaringly obvious to me, after all was said & done.

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Letter to My 16-year-old Self

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Dear 16-year-old me,

You’ve already gone through some hell, & right now, you’re trying to cover up the heartache. I know. It’s ok. Things happened. The people who were supposed to treasure & protect you, well, they failed. It wasn’t your fault. It was theirs. Don’t let it define you, b/c you’re so much more than any of those things.

And that feeling you keep having, that desire to be part of nature, listen to it. It’s legitimate, it’s real, it’s worthy. And so are you. You were made beautiful. You were given a light that shines through your darkness. Don’t let anyone snuff it out.

Oh, the boys. I promise you, their opinions aren’t worth even half what you think. What happened to you 7 years ago, that thing you don’t ever allow yourself to remember, it changed your perceptions. It made you think that a boy’s opinion mattered. It defined you. It stole from you, your family, relationships, self-worth, & dreams. It wasn’t your fault, & it really is as bad as you think. Deal with it now. Remember it, feel the anger & pain, talk about it with your therapist. I promise that nothing bad will come of talking about it. You will cry & rail & break down, but you will heal so much faster, allowing you to recapture your dreams & let go of the fear that haunts you.

Don’t let your mother’s disregard stop you from pursuing your dreams. Fight for them. Her problems do not have to be yours. Some day you’ll understand what’s wrong with her, & you’ll be able to forgive her.

And whatever you do, don’t cut your dad out of your life. I know he scares you. I know you don’t understand him. But I also know that he loves you so very much. He will die before you’re ready, & unexpectedly, at that. And your heart will break, b/c no matter everything that’s happened, he’s still your daddy. Let the hate go. It will poison you & steal your light, your love.

The truth is that your parents are afraid. Your light intimidates them, casting out shadows they hide in, unintentionally illuminating truths they don’t want to see. You are their mirror, & they fear you doing what they’ve done. They struggle to see you as you are, free of their self-imposed filters. They are wounded & have wounded you without knowing. They will grieve this. Do not punish them. Forgive them. Heal.

Try harder. Do your homework. Help around the house cheerfully. Be home by curfew. In only a few years, you’ll be free. If you can learn how to discipline yourself  now, you’ll succeed when you leave. Learn how to make a budget & manage your little income. This will save you a huge lesson & tons of money when you’re 18. Go to college, & try harder. If you don’t, you will find yourself in your 30s with no degree & few options.

Finish what you start. No matter how insignificant. If you can discipline yourself to finish things now, you will be able to look back  on it with self-satisfaction. If it matters to you, then it matters, period. And it is worth finishing.

Worry less about what others think of you & worry more about what you think of yourself. You’ll have to live with yourself. They won’t. And they probably won’t be around in 5 years to have an opinion anyway. Don’t live for them.

Listen to your gut. It’s a lesson you’ll learn eventually anyway, but it will save you so much grief if you can learn it sooner. You can trust yourself, young though you are. Despite what others say, your youth is not a handicap. You are trustworthy & intelligent. You’ll still make mistakes, but you’ll make fewer of them & learn more quickly in the process.

You are worthy of love. You don’t have to earn it. You do not have to be someone or something you’re not to have it. You do not have to compromise your values or beliefs or your very self to deserve it. You are already loved by your Maker, although you probably won’t really grasp what kind of love that is until you have children.

And you will have children. Two amazing, beautiful girls who will benefit from all the things you have gone through. You will be better able to protect them, love them, & cherish them b/c of your past. But learn from it first, so you’ll be ready. These girls will completely alter your view of your life.

Throw the damn cigarettes away. You don’t even like them. They will take over your life & leave you feeling guilty & ashamed. Save the drinking for later. Otherwise, your 21st birthday will be kinda lame. Go ahead & smoke pot when you’re offered it at 17, tho. That’s the only one you won’t regret.

Don’t do the Lupron treatment!!! You’ll understand when you get there.

Save your virginity. It is valuable, & your heart will crack if you give it to someone you don’t love with all you have. Remember, you are worth loving. You don’t have to sell yourself out.

You’re not fat, no matter what your parents say. You have an amazing body that can do amazing things. Dance. Your body loves it, & your soul thrives on it. Focus your energy into creating what is beautiful. Your body will respond to & exceed the challenge, & you will be amazed. Try belly dancing. You have a natural affinity for the sensual. This is not wrong. It is a gift that was given to you from birth. Use it wisely.

Be kind. Do not make fun of others or worry what others will think of you. Just be kind. Stand up for the underdog. You have a passion for justice. Do not let it be smothered by your need for acceptance.

Love openly. Love freely. Love everyone. You understand them, better than most. Learn how to channel your empathy, otherwise your heart will grow hard. If you allow that to happen, you will lose a large part of who you are. And you will miss yourself.

You will meet a man. I won’t tell you when, b/c I don’t want you to focus on it. I just want you to know that it will happen. And you will bring him hope. Tread carefully. He’s a beautiful, f’d up man. You will recognize him instantly, & he’ll own your heart. Love him. Take care of him. But see him for who he really is, not who he could be. Accept his flaws & forgive him. Be real. And be honest & up front with your demands & expectations. He will rise to them, if only he knows them. But don’t expect too much. He’s only a man. He’s your other half, & your souls knew each other before you met. Wait for him. He’ll make you his.

But more important than anything else I’ve said here, please love yourself now. Not what you’ll be, not what you can do, just for who you are right now. The beautiful, loving, funny, busy girl who’s dreaming big, impossible dreams. This confusion you’re lost in will pass, & you’ll remain. Sift through the influences, & toss out the bad advice. Whatever does not resonate with your spirit is not worth holding onto.

Your family has hurt & betrayed you. You’re still here. The church has failed you. God is still here. Your friends will come & go. There are a few who will always be here. Cling to these truths. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. So be at peace with your present, & look with joy to your future. It’s going to be amazing.

Love, Me (age 31 years & 11 months)

Steak Salad, Hold the Depression

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Tonight, the fam & I headed over to Chipotle for some yummy, trendy, Mexican food. While we were there, I watched as a new mom & her partner attempted to tend to a newborn little boy. I felt bad, because I know I judged her. Then I felt really bad, because I’m pretty sure she was struggling with post-partum depression. There were three couples dining together, & as I observed the group (I’m sure not as covertly as I tell myself I did), I saw how everyone else stepped in to take care of the baby. My heart broke for that woman & for that little boy.

I actually do have some very mild experience with PPD. A brush with it really, but it makes me more empathetic than I once was. When NBG was born this year, it took me no less than three weeks before I actually FELT like I loved her. I spent the first weeks of her life breastfeeding her, staring at her, changing her diapers, & not feeling a shred of emotion toward her. I would look at her, & I knew in my head that I loved her, but I couldn’t feel it. I forced myself to treat her like I felt something. I made myself care. Basically, I faked it ’til I made it. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized I had a brush with PPD. I couldn’t even admit it to my husband until recently, & he was shocked when I told him about those first few weeks. He’d had no idea.

I remember thinking that if anything happened to her, I’m sure I would be sad, but, well, maybe not. I felt resentment toward her for furthering my body’s ruin. I couldn’t figure out how I could love my eldest child so immediately & intensely and yet feel nothing when looking at this new little girl. I remember thinking, “I didn’t ask for her.” I wasn’t depressed or sad. It wasn’t baby blues. Other than mild resentment, I really felt nothing, & I didn’t care. (See? Nothing.)

But my head insisted that I would eventually care, so I forced myself to keep going. After three or four weeks, the feelings gradually began to take root, beginning with the moment my littlest daughter truly saw me for the first time. Or maybe it was the first time I really saw her. It was the first time I didn’t feel like an appendage to a boob. The first time I felt like something more than just a means to an end. It was the moment when I realized that, to this little innocent, I am the world. It was the instant I felt the connection.

The connection. It matters so much. Without it, I don’t know how a mother perseveres. It’s why my heart broke for that mother tonight. Once I realized why she was being so cold. Once it hit me that I hadn’t seen her even look at her baby, let alone touch him, in the hour that I sat in a restaurant with her, despite the fact that he wept for her. While my first reaction had been mild anger that the dad gave the baby a bottle by propping it up with a blanket instead of holding his son & properly feeding him, after continued observation, I realized that this was a new family barely hanging on. I wanted to cry.

At one point, the dad took the mom outside. She was on the verge of tears, & he was literally supporting her out the door. I’m pretty sure it’s all Dad can do to help her keep it together, but then I expect him to consider the need his son has for emotional bonding while feeding? Unlikely. I can empathize with the mom. My mind start filling in the story. Maybe she tried to breastfeed but failed for lack of support. It almost happened to me with my first. Maybe the baby was unplanned, & now she feels trapped with the father. Maybe she simply feels woefully inadequate, & my judgmental presence just exacerbated the situation.

I can imagine, though, if what I experienced had extended to twice as long as it did. I’m pretty sure I would’ve begun to wonder what was wrong with me & to feel, if nothing else, at least frustration with myself. I’m a world-class self-beater-upper. Pretty sure I would’ve been beating myself up regularly, too.

I briefly spoke to one of the ladies from the group while waiting for my steak salad. She was holding the newborn, & I asked how old he was. 8 weeks, or so she thought. She was his aunt, she told me.  He’s adorable, was all I said, but I smiled at him. A part of me just wanted her to know, & to maybe pass it along to the mother, that I thought her baby was beautiful. That, although I’m pretty sure they saw me watching, I had nothing negative to say to or about anyone.

More than anything, I wish I could’ve told that mother that it’s ok. That I know she loves her baby. That eventually she will feel it. That it’s ok for her to seek out help. I wish I could have encouraged her, & mostly what I feel is disappointment in myself for possibly being the direct opposite of that.

I’m praying now that the family she was with tonight has recognized the signs & is looking out for this new mom & her baby. I’m praying they all come through it with few scars & are stronger for it.

If you’re struggling with PPD & it’s been more than a few weeks, please tell someone. Talk to one of your friends who’s struggled with it. Talk to your spouse or partner. Talk to your mom. Talk to your doctor. Just talk to someone with whom you feel safe, please.

I just want you to know that you’re not a bad mom. You’re not a failure. There’s nothing wrong with you, at least nothing that a little time & support won’t fix. I know you love your baby, & I’m not judging you. My heart’s aching for you & your baby.

Although I connected with my little girl after a few weeks, it was still a bit unnerving that it wasn’t immediate. It made me doubt myself. I understand, at least a little bit. I was fortunate. Please don’t try to do it alone. You don’t have to, & there’s no reason you should. You don’t have to be tough or embarrassed or “strong.” PPD is not a weakness.

It’s legit. It’s real. It needs to be acknowledged.

And if that new mom I saw at Chipotle tonight with her 8 week old son is reading this, I’m so sorry I judged you, especially before I understood. Before I realized. It’s too easy to judge, & you didn’t deserve it. I’m praying for you tonight. Please keep hanging in there. You’re not alone. I’m sorry.

Stepping Up the Pace

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I finally set up my pedometer!

I bought the thing about a year ago, right before I found out I was pregnant with NBG. Since anything complicated simply frustrated my pregnant brain, I tossed it in a basket & left it until I could handle figuring it out. haha

So yesterday, I did it! And I’m super excited. And I’m walking more just to see how many steps I can get. (FYI, it takes 32 steps to walk from my desk to the bathroom.)

Already, forces are conspiring against me & my trusty step counter. House repairs begin next week, so I’m not going to get to go to the park in the mornings for walks with my friends. Guess I’m going to have to get creative.

I’m just super stoked about my pedometer.

What do you do to make sure you get enough daily activity?