Monday, November 21, 2011

Never alone

A couple nights ago, my daughter caused herself to puke since she was upset, well that was the straw on my back.  I cried my eyes out, and while my hormonal woman time is sure to be partially to blame, I know that that's not all.

It is very hard sometimes to deal with those "mommy frustrations."  

Sometimes for me, it is impossible.

While I won't totally go into it, I will admit something. My "post-partum depression" is really more like post-partum OCD.  My life, at different periods since having bitty, have been filled with overwhelming thoughts of "what if I harmed her?"  Or if I go look in on her and check on her breathing, as I still always do every single day...well, sometimes my brain signals get mixed up.  My relief at her being okay gets mixed up with my worries, such as what if she stopped breathing, and the result is I feel relieved but am attributing it to whatever fear I had coming true.  Which is torturous.  It has made me feel at times in my life totally worthless.

I don't even know how I'm saying this "out loud" because it is the most shameful part of my life.  And yet I know I am not "making" it happen, nor is it happening due to any failure on my part.  I know when I have sought out help for my anxiety/depression issues, I was told that an RSD patient's brain will react/handle things the same way as an OCD patient's brain would.

I love my daughter more than life itself.  There are times, in the past, when I was so angry and ashamed of my thoughts that I thought she'd be better off without me.  Luckily, I am surrounded by a support system and was lucky enough to stumble on the website where I was able to read the story of a fellow redhead, Katherine Stone, and her journey with postpartum OCD.

And then I didn't feel so bad.  Then I was able, if only for a moment, to stop blaming myself.  A dear friend of mine who is studying mental health and counseling also "normalized" it for me, telling me that many women go through it.  Events in the news or a change in routine or period hormones can trigger ups and downs with it as well.

I still struggle, at times.  Some more than others.  I can tell you over the summer when all I had was time, time, time on my hands, I found myself struggling more with feelings of anxiety.  When all the Casey Anthony trial was on the news, it overwhelmed my thoughts.  All I could do was look at my precious baby and wonder how someone could do that?  Then I would worry if I were secretly a monster, too.

I can tell you this.  I'm not.  Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not.  I am a good mom.  Almost anyone who knows me would tell you the same.

At the end of the day, I am glad I've had the chance to get to "know" about wonderful moms out there with a brain that short circuits, so to speak.  Because feeling so awful and feeling as though it is you alone makes a lonely, awful place an even darker pit of despair.

For those other days, when I see a fellow mom posting that her child as a "curb alert" on Facebook or posting a stressed, frantic message about how bat shit crazy their 2 (or 3 or 5 or 15) year old is making them feel, I feel less alone.  And I laugh.

I matter what you're going through, you're never alone.  And you're not the first or last person to face the battle you're in.

Then there are the times, the times when your toddler says, "You're my best friend mama," and it makes riding out the storms you sailed through worth it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 13: Food can change your life

I cannot put into words how much the documentary Food Matters changed my thinking.  To think that we can truly heal ourselves, not just from the common cold but from CANCER, with high dose vitamins and true quality blows me away.

I want to start treating my depression and anxiety with nutrition and high dose vitamins.
I want to start treating my migraines and my chronic pain from RSD with nutrition and high dose vitamins.

How often do we see someone lose weight and ask them their secret?  "A lifestyle change," they say.

I would LOVE to see the day-to-day diet of these folks.  Are they eating a diet with 51 percent of each meal consisting of raw foods?  Are they drinking enough water?  Are they eating local fruits and vegetables?  Are they eating super foods?  

I don't say this to question folks lifestyle changes.  Some friends of mine have truly changed their diets and lifestyle.

But having been there myself, I also know that weight loss can come from extremely restrictive "dieting."  I used to pretty much eat as little as possible and work out as much as possible.  I can tell you right now my body wasn't getting what it needed.

Weight loss clinics.  HCG supplements.  Injections.  Body wraps of all sorts-I've seen dozens.  

Does this nourish our bodies?  Does this give our cells and immunities what is needed to thrive and heal itself?

I ask these questions because I have had glimmers of them...and pushed those thoughts aside.

Dr. Andrew Saul said it best when he said (more or less) why don't we do something about this?  The number one reason is it means we have to take responsibility.

Wow...a lot of "food" for thought this evening...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11: Back and angry

So much for 30 consecutive days of blogging.  I took a couple days to celebrate hub's birthday, but I'm back.  In my defense, I've blogged more this month than in the last few months combined.

Yesterday, we watched a presentation by a charitable organization that we are required to watch each year.  I'm not sure how it is even allowable to require us to watch such a presentation, but I show up every year and sit through it.

Every year, I get angrier and more bitter.  Neither of which I enjoy feeling.

Don't get me wrong-I am actually a quite charitable person and donate or give of myself as much (or even more) than I can.  At one point, I was able to donate a sizable amount of money (for me) to a dear friend Jessica's wonderful non-profit called Beyond Measure Arts, which is an amazing, incredible, and worthy cause. I did it because I believe in the cause and because I believe in her mission.  I've done a number of other things, and I am proud to say I love giving.

When I feel forced, its another story.

The presentation cited that 61% of people don't have 3 months salary saved in case of a major emergency.  I am the 61%.  The presentation focused on those who go hungry.  While I am glad to say I am not starving, I am sad to say that there are times when I have no choice but to put groceries on my credit card or go to my mom's house to eat while we wait on our paychecks.  I am unable to fully life the organic, non-processed lifestyle that I strive to achieve.  I haven't had a pay raise my entire career, and while I am thankful for a job, I cannot keep going on that thankfulness alone.  That thankfulness doesn't get rid of my debt and doesn't change my paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.  Both hubs and I have taken on extra work, which means extra time away from our daughter and each other.  It sucks, but we do what we have to do in order to give our daughter the best life we can.

No one wants to hear this, but it is the truth.  Do I wish I felt liberated and able to commit a portion of every paycheck to a cause of my choice?  Absolutely!  I wish I was a millionaire so I could give and give and give, so I could make as many lives around me easier and better.

But I can't.

It sucks.  It sucks even more when every year, without fail, I must sit and listen to all the reasons I should give when I cannot anymore beyond what I already do.

Of course this will probably sound crass and harsh and anti-philanthropic of me, which is not the point.  The point is that we do so much and give so much already above and beyond...we do more with less...we give our time, our resources, our hearts, and when we cannot open our pocketbooks, when we cannot declare a 3-month savings or debt-free lifestyle, please give us a break.  Give us an option.  Allow us to sit in and listen if we are able, but give us the option to pass if we are unable.

That is all I'm trying to say.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8: One month

In honor of our one month wedding anniversary, we are going to enjoy a banana dream cake (the kind we got for our wedding-our all time favorite long before the wedding), and tomorrow we get to celebrate Brandon's 28th year of life!

For today's blog, I share with you a poem that was chosen by Brandon and I and read at our wedding by my future sister-in-law.

Love by Roy Croft

I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7: Another day, another blog

Today I have been thinking about food...and water.  Not only is our theme in Reading this week Foods Around the World, but we are now two-thirds done with watching Food Matters.  (What can I say?  It takes us awhile with our busy schedules).

Did you know...(all info from the documentary Food Matters-available on Netflix streaming)
If you start a totally organic diet tomorrow, you actually will get sick?  Your body has to rid its tissue of toxins before it can start taking in the great nutrients an organic diet offers.

Most toxins are released through your bowels.  This is a good thing considering how nasty the toxins our bodies take in are.  Better to poop them out then sweat them out all over our skin to be reabsorbed.

Two handfuls of cashews contain a therapeutic amount of niacin, which can help reverse depression?

100,000+ people die in the U.S. each year from prescription medicine that has been prescribed to them and used exactly as directed.  The total doesn't account for overdose deaths.

Meanwhile, less than 30 people have died of causes attributed (not even proven) to vitamin use.  In the last 2o years.  So we're talking less than 2 people a year.

All the hubbub about vitamins being pretty much worthless?  That information is worthless.  The studies citing that are only using a very low amount of vitamins based on recommended daily allowance, which is the amount required to maintain health, not to improve it, and not factoring in the high stress lifestyles we live.

Your body attacks cooked food as though it were a toxin.  Each meal you eat should be at least 51% raw food.  I'm not talking hamburger meat, I'm talking produce.

Most produce you buy in the store is at least 5-6 days old, therefore when you buy it, it has only about 40% of its original nutrient content.  Add a couple days in your fridge and a few minutes in a saute pan...and yeah.  Not so nutritious after all.  Which leads to the importance of using or growing produce locally.

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

With the health problems I have, I want to change the way I eat.  These changes will be drastic...they will take some time.  I don't know how to start except one day at a time, one change conquered and mastered before moving on to the next.

We've already moved towards buying organic when we can and avoiding food products with ingredients like HFCS.  We've fiddled with organic gardening, which is darn near impossible in Florida.  We have lots of sweet potatoes to show for it.  We avoid buying foods that are primarily soy based due to the affects soy has on both men and women. Those are baby steps, but they are in the right direction. 

Stay tuned as I continue to travel further down this road of knowledge.  Knowledge is powerful, but it is true what they say-ignorance can be bliss.  Once I have knowledge, it is too hard for me to just turn my back.

Case in point...
Car seats and the importance of extended rear-facing (29 months and going strong)
Nestle and their bastardly deeds (boycotting)
Damaging affects of cry-it-out (don't practice sleep training...believe in responsive parenting)
And the list continues...

To be continued...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6: What can I do?

Many times before, I've written about this empty feeling I have.  This lack of a sense of purpose.  Not that the things I do in life aren't fulfilling a purpose, but rather there is a purpose I am meant to fulfill that I am not.

While my family was in town for our wedding, I discussed this very issue.  My uncle, a doctor, and my aunt, a life insurance agent (get some, folks...its so important!) both seem to really enjoy their jobs and they've known me my entire life, so I let them weigh in.  The advice and discussion went to different areas, ranging from specifics, such as marketing and motivational speaker-to generals, such as apply for every job you see.  Others I've discussed it with have asked me thought provoking questions such as, "What do you really love to do?" and "If you could do anything, what would it be?"

I don't have the answers, but I do have a list of things I do really well.  
  • I have a way with words.  I can edit any paper and make it better, and I can take any topic that I'm knowledgeable about and craft a piece from it.  I've written a multitude of pieces including an obituary for my grandfather and a speech for my great-grandmother's funeral.  
  • I have a gift for speaking.  The bigger the crowd, the better.  I get a thrill from sharing with a crowd, whether it is professionally, such as the training I conducted last week at work, or personally, such as speaking out on behalf of someone or something important to me.
  • When it comes to corralling people, I have no problems.  I can delegate tasks, get a group organized and focused on a purpose, and I can run any baby shower or bridal shower you throw my way (minus the decorating which I could care less about).
  • I can teach. If I truly understand something, I can teach it to anyone and answer questions about the unknowns.  It is especially fulfilling when I am teaching about a topic or subject that is near and dear to me, as I have in this very blog.  Car seats, responsive parenting, health & beauty product safety, the importance of reading, etc.
  • I can talk to anyone and make them feel important, which they are since everybody matters.  When I go to Walmart, I make friends with the people in line with me and the cashier.
  • When it comes to issues/people that are important to me, I have no problem sticking up for the cause/person.  Over the last few years, my mom has had some dental and health issues occur, and I have stayed by  her side, asking the tough questions and communicating on her behalf when doctors/dentists refuse to listen to HER, the patient. 
  • Things that need done get done.  I am dependable and a go getter.  I make it happen, whatever it is.
I won't give up on figuring out what this purpose is that I'm meant to fill.  I don't think this empty feeling is here for no reason.  I think it is there to keep me uncomfortable and antsy, to push me and motivate me to find the door that I have the key to.  I truly believe that in life we are given a purpose that no one else can fill, so now I continue my journey to finding what mine is.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5: Concert state of mind

Tonight I went to see the Goo Goo Dolls in concert.  Wow.  What a great experience!  Not only were they amazing, but their opening act, Ryan Star, was awesome as well.  He gave me chills, the kind where you feel it not only on your arms and legs, but on your cheeks and scalp even.

One of the highlights of the GGD concert was when they played "Name."  Before they started, Johnny asked a young person in the audience how old he/she was.  Fourteen.  He went on to remark that when he wrote the song the young person was only a gleam in his/her parents eyes.  Funny!  He talked about how old that made him, then said it was hard to believe the song was 15 years old. 

Wait a second.  I remember vividly when their first hit, "Name," came out.  I was 12.  My life was turned upside down by illness, but I had music.  A Boy Named Goo was one of the albums I got back during that era.  Yes, I bought it just for that song.  But ever since their start, I've really enjoyed GGD.  I can't say that I am a die hard fan-the type that knows every song by heart.  But I can't really say that there's a single song of theirs that I've heard and not truly enjoyed.  Johnny Rzeznik's voice is medicine for my soul.  It literally makes my heart ache in  rollercoaster of emotions from high to low and back again.

So tonight's concert experience got me to thinking about my concert experiences past.  At 14, I went to a local music festival called DotFest (the Dot was the radio station's name) and saw bands like Everclear and the dudes who sang "Sex and Candy" and Finger Eleven.  After moving to Florida, I went to Earthday Birthday and saw a bunch of bands that I can't think of, but it was a blast.  I saw Staind with Flyleaf as an opening act (before they were even a name to know on the radio) for my brother's birthday.  My friend Andrea invited me to see Billy Idol at the House of Blues, and even though his face is wrecked from years of drugs, his body was crazy ripped.  Oh, his songs were great too.  I've seen Edwin McCain.  Once, my brother got too sick to go to the Rascal Flatts concert he had a ticket to see with my sister, mom, and his (then) girlfriend (now fiancee).  They swear they asked me to go, but they really didn't.  Anyway, it worked out since he couldn't go.  Going to work the next morning after a long drive home from Orlando sucked, but the concert was amazing.  When I was pregnant with Ayla, I had the pleasure of seeing The Eagles in concert, then Billy Joel & Elton John.  I swear that must have something to do with Ayla's major love of music.  Of course over the years, I saw many symphonic concerts, including some special ones-violinist Joshua Bell (before he got super big), Anne Akiko Meyers, and the Manhattan String Quartet.  

Once upon a time, I was a very talented violinist...

Even though that dream was robbed from me, music being a part of my heart and soul and body...well, no one could take that from me.

I can't wait for my next concert.
I should figure out what that will be...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4: Gratitude

I want to thank You, God,
For life and all that’s in it.
Thank You for the day
And for the hour and for the minute.
I know many are gone;
I’m still living on.
I want to thank You.
-Maya Angelou

I had a great night with my sweet husband and now I'm going to go snuggle next to him.  Tomorrow, I will wake to my sweet daughter and crazy dogs and the man I love next to me.  I am thankful for today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3: Sick of writing prompts

The prompts to write about writing are boring me, so...I'm not doing it.

Hmm, what to write about?  Well, how about my busy week this week...

This week, I had a ton on my plate.  2 days of tutoring, 1 long night of conferences, followed by 1 long day of work with our school award ceremony and a faculty meeting.  A co-worker and I presented to the faculty information we learned about asking quality questions during reading (and across curriculum).  I must admit I was weary of presenting because the last time I did I was 8 months pregnant and got very hot and breathless.  Even though I'm comfortable in front of large groups (the larger the better), I still get a little bit of the jitters.  Those who know me, know I am a fast talker, but fast talking plus pregnancy equal a winded mama.  I was afraid that maybe it would happen again, that maybe it wasn't just a "pregnancy thing."

It was just a pregnancy thing.  Yay!  I feel that overall the training went well, and the teachers were interested (or just too tired to talk, haha).  

This weekend is my best buddy Henriette's bridal shower, and I am dying of excitement to give her her gifts.  I look forward to running games.  When it comes to parties, I make a terrible guest of honor (it stresses me out) but a great hostess.  Even though I'm not hosting, I look forward to helping make her day a success with fun games in her honor.  Then, later that evening, I get the chance to go see the Goo Goo Dolls, which I am super excited about.  I've loved GGD for forever.  In fact, I remember my mom asking me, "What kind of name is 'Goo Goo Dolls'?"  She loves them now too.  Take that!  

Sunday is our wedding photo shoot, as our photographer was so wonderful to set up a time to take some outdoor photos since the monsoon of October 8th, our wedding day, didn't allow for us to get any outside shots.  I still can't believe how crazy and ridiculous that rain was!!

Brandon's birthday is next week, then it will be Thanksgiving...and Christmas...and my birthday.  Then, a whole new year.  The way time is flying by so quickly freaks me out.  Am I alone in this?  

Happy Friday eve, folks!  See you tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2: Last meal

"If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?"

Food.  I love food.  How hard is it to pick just one last meal?  I need a whole day of eating to get through my many favorites.

I'd have to have bacon.  Real bacon, not turkey bacon.  Crispy.  Yum.

Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast and a tall glass of 1% milk.

Croissants with melted cheese and mashed potatoes.

Chips and homemade guacamole with a frosty margarita (or 3, after all I'm dying right) alongside.

Indian butter chicken with lots of naan and rice.

Sushi rolls and edamame and miso soup.

Banana dream cake.

Some frozen yogurt from Redberry.

Reese's peanut butter cups and their peanut butter Easter eggs (hey, if its my last meal, might as well go out with a bang!)

Is there any way I could possibly eat this all in one meal?  See, I need a day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1: Why I love to write

So I decided that I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo ( after seeing The Feminist Breeder mention it on her Facebook.

Today's prompt asks to write about why you love to write.

I love to write, and I always have.  In my early teen years, I wrote angsty poetry with a group of my friends.  I journaled.  I wrote unsent letters.  In my later teen years, I discovered blogging.  I blogged in diary format for years.  Two years into my blogging, the server I'd been using (UJournal) crashed and lost everything.  Even though I was devastated, I moved on and picked up with another blog.  When I went to Guatemala to teach English for a month after graduating college, I blogged about my adventures there.  Back in the day of Myspace, I did blogged using their feature.  

Then, I stopped.  

About one year ago, I decided to jokingly start a blog, hoping to become rich (not so much famous) like Dooce.  Long story short, Heather Armstrong of Dooce is/was (not sure if this has changed) one of the most widely read (if not the most) personal blog.  The summer I had Ayla, I saw her on Oprah, and she saved me.  She talked candidly about her post-partum depression and institutionalizing herself.  I wrote more about that somewhere, but I'm too lazy to link to it right now.

When I started Mama Speaks, I shared it on my Facebook, thinking no one would read it.  But people read it, and they gave me great feedback.  Some of my earliest followers were my good friends Kimberly and Amanda.  Amanda started her own blog but has continued to this day to be one of my biggest blog stalkers/encouragers.

Through this blogging experience, I've written personal accounts, but I've also expressed my opinions and beliefs.  Unashamed and unabashed.  During a period of time when I felt so passionless and purposeless, blogging brought me to life.  It gave me validation.  It gave me reason.  It was a place for me to be a woman in all of my roles-mama, teacher, reader, chronic pain sufferer, etc, etc.  Writing helps me express myself in a way that nothing else can.  Communicating is one of my strong points, both written and in my oral expression.  If I could turn that talent and joy into a career, I would.  I just don't know how to.

So for now, I will write.  I return joyfully and hope to stretch myself as a writer in these 30 wonderful days of November.  Goodbye to my writers block and hello to writing, my love, no matter what.