Intrusive Thoughts: My Commute

DayOfLight***Trigger warning: If you are feeling fragile or struggling, this post might be triggering.  I talk about intrusive thoughts. ***

My intrusive thoughts mainly centered around driving. For most people who live in major metropolitan areas, my commute is not that long. I drive forty-five minutes one way to work. I take a more direct route which bypasses the rush hour traffic. My commute leaves some colleagues shaking their head in disbelief especially when my girls were infants and toddlers.

Now I enjoy my commute. It is a way to decompress from the work day, and I can transition back to wife and mom. I listen to podcasts, music, or talk to family and friends. This time of year is stunning with the leaves turning shades of red, orange and yellow.

When I was struggling with postpartum anxiety, my commute was hell. Images of jerking my steering wheel into the oncoming lane of traffic flashed before my eyes. I drive on a two lane county highway for the majority of my commute. It’s frequented by lots of semis. I would picture my car flattened like a pancake. I would see twisted metal all around me. All I saw was destruction. These images were stuck on a nonstop loop in my head. I would arrive at work, slick with sweat. This went on for months. I finally tearfully confessed these thoughts out loud. When I said those thoughts out loud, I felt a sense of relief.

Today I’m reclaiming my commute as my way to commune with nature, to ground myself and to shine a light on my darkest days. The solution as some suggested was not to move closer to work. I adore our home, our community and our school. My choice is to reframe my commute. I kmpw that these thoughts are just thoughts. My thoughts do not mean that I will act on them. I’m not whispering about these thoughts anymore. I’m done hiding.  Intrusive thoughts lose their power and strength when we talk about them out loud.

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This is Eight


My sweet Munch,

I cannot believe you are eight. This year is full of so many milestones for you – your First Reconciliation and your First Communion. It feels like yesterday we brought you home from the hospital. Wasn’t it just two days ago that you were getting used to your brand new baby sister?

I love your capacity for kindness and unconditional love. You inspire me every day to be a better person. I make mistakes a lot as a mom. You show me what forgiveness is. I love you so much. I know that being the oldest is challenging. Sometimes I expect too much from you sweetheart. I forget that you are still growing and learning. At times your wisdom is beyond your years.

I continue to be amazed at your ability to create. Your artistic talents are amazing. I hope you keep your passion for art and beauty. My favorite memory from this summer is how mesmerized you were by the sculpture garden and the bean in Millennium Park in Chicago. Thank you for teaching me how to look at the beauty in life.

Love you,




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Five years


My sweet Skeeter,

It has been five years since you made your unexpected appearance, a day earlier than your scheduled entrance. Clearly you wanted and demanded to be born on October 10th of 2010.

Your dad and I never have to guess how you are feeling. You wear your heart on your sleeve. Your capacity to love knows no bounds. The only trouble we have right now is reminding you that not everyone loves to be hugged so tightly and then picked up.

Your memory is amazing. We think you might have inherited your godmother’s ability to remember anything that is said. Your knowledge of song lyrics is practically equal to mine, and you can remember a ridiculous amount of movie lines. We wish you wouldn’t remember everything daddy or I say, especially things we say while driving.

You are so loved sweetheart. We wish you another year filled with love, laugher and learning.



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Fitness Fridays: Letting Go of One Goal and Embracing Another

Don't Wait until you've reached your goalIf you follow me on any of the social media channels, you will notice a lack of running posts.  I had initially planned to run my first half-marathon this year on November 1st as part of Milwaukee’s Inaugural Running Festival.  After getting sidelined by an injury, I thought that I could ease my way back into the training program.  After three weeks of long runs, I had my strong left leg buckle underneath me.  My calf started cramping, and I hobbled along.  My amazing running buddy Sharon never left my side.  She shared some fuel and water with me, and we slowly made our way back.

After I spoke with the half program training manager, she thought it could have been a combination of loss of electrolytes and that my left side had gotten weaker.  Since my injury was on my right knee, I devoted a lot of mindful thought and energy to building strength back up on that side.  I went back to my physical therapist, and she worked on both legs. I brought her the training plan to review, and she made suggestions for a slower ramping up plan.

The following long run, I knew that I was only going to run about half of it.  I started out with my pace group, but I could not keep up.  My speed is much slower as a result of the injury and retraining my running gait.  I had not warmed up properly because I got there late.  I ended up cutting my run short, and I stopped at just around three miles.  The rest of the group was running nine miles that day.  I was crying with every step I took.  I just could not get my legs to loosen up.  I decided at that moment that I quit the training program. I could not continue to train for this race without ending up with yet another injury.  I called my husband to tell him.  Then I walked into the store, and I burst into tears.  Disappointment and sadness filled my thoughts for a few days.

This injury and slower than normal recovery taught me that I need to be patient with myself and give myself grace.  I love running because it gives me joy.  When I was pushing myself too much too fast, I did not feel any joy.  I ended up going for a four mile a few weeks later with my cousin and the Minerva Muses.  I ran at an even slower pace than I had for my half training, and I felt fantastic.  I felt joy and elation.  I knew that this is the type of running I need to get back to.  I want to run just for fun, not to win prizes or get a personal best.

Now I’m focusing on building back up strength in my entire body.  I am doing weight training, Body Combat, yoga, PiYo, walking, and dancing.  I know that I will get back my strength and speed.  I am focusing on continuing to do my physical therapy exercises, and I try to foam roll every day if I can.  I will run again, and I hope that I can run in a 5K before the end of the year.  Grace is a lesson I will continue to practice again and again.  I will become a stronger runner because of this setback.

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Mama’s Night Out

A Phish concert 076as self-care?  I can hear you all snickering.  Unless you know what fuels me, then you cannot begin to understand how amazing that concert was to my soul.  Music is a part of my life.  Certain bands help me connect to my pre-mom life. No band does that more than Phish.  I saw my first concert right before my freshman year of college.

This year’s Phish concert was a gathering with my husband, my sister, and my brother-in-law.  Serendipity was meeting a local Warrior Mom friend who I adore on my way to the bathroom.  Karen is a gem and a total music junkie just like me.

I also got to make a new friend at the concert.  I happened to see a note in a Facebook group of the Climb Out team leaders that a Warrior Mom was going to be at the Phish concert that weekend.  I messaged her, and we became Facebook friends.  We then exchanged phone numbers.  My family members were dumbstruck that I was going to meet this woman I had never met in person before.  I find that connection so difficult to explain.  That sisterhood of those who have struggled is like no other.  Amanda and I chatted for over an hour.  She knows one of my dear friends, Andrea, so we bonded over the awesomeness of our amazing friend.

I danced like no one was watching me for the entire concert.  Movement feeds my soul. I stopped dancing only to rest for a bit and to go the bathroom  I felt so free and so alive.  I was able to enjoy the evening without worrying about my girls.  They were in the capable hands of their grandparents.  The conversation, the dancing and the amazing company made this evening a memorable night.

Posted in Humor, parenting, self care | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Push and Pull of Back to School

wpid-20150901_102314.jpgMunch started back to school on Tuesday. My sweet Skeeter had a staggered start for 4K, so she didn’t start back to school until Wednesday. Rather than send her to daycare I decided to spend the day with her.

I let Skeeter decide what she wanted to do for the entire day. She wore her nightgown to drop off her big sister at school. I insisted on a pair of shorts. She happily obliged.  Skeeter then requested a morning snack and a TV show.  Her suggestion to ride our bikes to the park sounded amazing even though it was so humid.  She patiently waited while I pumped up my flat tires.  She did a fantastic job crossing the busy streets, and she listened to all my instructions.  I was so grateful for the hour we spent at the park, playing while we both cooled down.  My black bike helmet sucked in all the heat.  Thankfully the ride home was quicker than the way to the park.  Skeeter’s confidence in her new-found skills helped.

We ate lunch at one of her favorites, McDonald’s, and she got to play all by herself on the indoor playground.  I spent most of my time just watching her, taking a few pictures and videotaping her.  I only checked my phone from time to time to keep an eye on the time.

At the end of the day she sobbed saying that she wanted to be by me.  She hadn’t been next to me all day long.  I fumed to her that I didn’t understand  We spent the entire day together.  Later that night it hit me.  My sweet girl’s love language is physical contact.  She wants to sit right next to me or on top of me or her dad.  Skeeter craves physical closeness.  I finally realized why I felt like she pushes boundaries.  She knows no physical space.  She loves to be touching or holding hands or hugging.  That is how she shows love.  This realization will help us all transition back to school by understanding her need for closeness and our need for some space.

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Traveling Anxiety and the Warrior Mom Conference

The night before leaving for Boston, I had a complete meltdown.  I completely panicked and started sobbing uncontrollably.  The work week leading up to the conference was hectic for me.  I felt like I was a hamster on a wheel.  I had no time to sit and center myself before traveling.  I felt apprehensive about how the conference would be.  I was meeting some of my tribe who I had only known online.  Will I be myself? Will people like me?  What will the conference vibe be like?  I was a volunteer for the conference.  I panicked thinking that I would let Susan down.

I am so grateful that I traveled with friends to this conference.  As I started packing and bombarding my husband, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law with flying questions, I realized that I had not flown in about 8 years.  My last plane ride was down to New Orleans.  Being stopped by TSA only heightened my anxiety.  I sat and breathed through it although the anxiety sweats occurred almost immediately.  I completely forgot about the 8 oz bottle of lens cleaner for my glasses.  I use them for computer work mainly.  I was a bit annoyed that I had to toss it, but stuff happens.

Becky and Ruth were so patient with me as I stumbled a bit pulling my rolling suitcase.  The flight to Boston seemed so quick, mainly because the three of us talked nonstop.  Once we got off the plane, we met up with Jennifer.  The four of us shared a cab to meet Anne-Marie and Lauren for lunch.

In the meantime my work phone kept vibrating with messages and e-mails.  I asked Ruth to e-mail me to see if my auto reply was working.  In my haste to do all the things, I neglected to put on my out of office message.  I was mentally kicking myself.  After lunch I got settled in our hotel room, and I sat down to work for about two hours.  Normally I would not have done this because I was on vacation.  I knew that leaving all those loose ends would make my conference experience stressful and more anxiety filled if I did not complete those outstanding tasks.. I  sat down in the peace and quiet to wrap up the last remaining items to be present for the entire conference experience.

Anxiety reared its ugly head the final day of the conference.  I panicked just before facilitating a group session. I could not locate my co-facilitator, and I had to pee.  I had to apologize to my group who graciously accepted the anxiety freak out.  Thank goodness for the amazing Liz from MotherWoman who kept me focused and calm.  Anxiety is a part of me, but it does not define me.

Posted in postpartum depression, traveling | Tagged , | 3 Comments