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 , | 1 Comment

#BlackLivesMatter

My heart is heavy again and grieves for the ugliness that resides in our country.  The arrest of Sandra Bland appalled me.  I do not understand how it escalated so quickly.  The officer asked her a question, and she responded with honesty and assertiveness.  For failing to signal a lane change, Sandra Bland was arrested.

I know that some of my friends have probably blocked from their news feed or unfriended me when I talk about race relations.  Black lives matter.  Black men and women are dying at unprecedented rates in this country.  We are NOT a post-racial society.  Do you hear the vitriol that is spewn at our President?  People do not respect the office because of the color of the man who is in it.  Period.

I struggle with what to say, especially in light of the fact that Sandra had spoken up about her struggle with depression.  When in doubt, I remember the words that Divya Kumar said to us at the Warrior Mom Conference.  “Women from ALL different places and backgrounds have these illnesses.  They face different challenges based on their identities, privilege and life circumstances. ” I will continue to share the voices of diverse perspectives.  When words fail me, that is how I choose to be an ally.  I get uncomfortable and examine my own racial bias. The only way the system will change is if those in power are willing to change it.  As a white woman, I have privilege.  I must choose how I exercise it.  I choose to continue to speak up about racial injustice and the disparity that is inherent within our educational system and our government.

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Why I Climb #COTD 2015

036I climb for me.  I had no idea what was going on after the birth of my sweet Skeeter.  I just knew that something was not right.  I constantly felt like I was losing my mind.  I feared everything.  I worried that something would happen to my sweet baby girls.  When I found Postpartum Progress and put a name to what was happening to me, I felt relief and hope.

I climb for my beautiful, brave, kind and strong daughters.  I talk to them about how I got sick after Skeeter was born.  I tell them that I will be there for them when and if they become mothers themselves.  I let them know that they can talk to me about anything at any time.  I love them unconditionally, and they are so important to me.

I climb for my sister, my sisters-in-law, my cousins, my friends, and my community of Warrior Moms, past, present and future.  This community rallies around each mom who needs help.  We are here for you. You are NOT alone.  You will get well.  Help is available.  Lean on the network of Warrior Moms who have been there.  We have been pooling our resources and information together to find support locally for struggling mamas.  I am hoping to reach as many mamas who need help in the Milwaukee community.  Please join us to climb out of the darkness at the gorgeous Havenwoods State Forest right in the heart of the city of Milwaukee.  If you cannot make it to the climb, please donate to this cause so that we can get resources to all mamas.  Watch this and help us give hope to all the mamas out there who are in their midst of their journey to recovery.  We want them to claim #myfightsong as their mantra to help them through their dark days.  Know this.  Never give up hope.

Posted in postpartum depression | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Warrior Mom in Action

I had an idea that began nearly two years at BlogHer.  I wrote this proposal, and a small change was made. I was not content with the small change, and I felt like more could be done. Katherine reminded me that it takes different approaches to effect change in the corporate world.

An opportunity presented itself. I heard a top executive talk about how our women’s network can be a catalyst for support and encouragement. A colleague of mine focuses on health. I asked her if she would be open to a presentation on mental health. The moment I got back to my desk, I rewrote my initial proposal and reworked it into a presentation. Within 10 minutes of submitting this idea, I received a yes for this presentation.

Two days before Mother’s Day I outed myself to our women’s network as a mental health blogger. I told my story of postpartum depression and anxiety. I felt like I was going to throw up due to nerves. Once I started the presentation, I felt those nerves slip away. I was stunned by the reaction I received. So many women thanked me. Everyone agreed that mental health needed to be a top priority. Because of this presentation another opportunity presented itself. One person can make a difference. Owning my truth made me realize how much we all need that chance to share our stories.

Posted in postpartum depression, storytelling | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Fitness Fridays: Sidelined by Injury

I am taking a hiatus from running not by choice. I had felt pain in my right knee. After years of dancing, playing basketball, running and coaching soccer injury free, I am sidelined.

The good news is that it is a soft tissue issue. My X-rays showed no issue with my knee. After my visit with my orthopedic doctor, I was discharged with a prescription for physical therapy. I went to my first session today, and I left with hope. Running mama friends you were right. It is definitely my IT band. Walking, swimming, biking, yoga and strength training are still options for me. The plan is to be back running in four weeks after physical therapy. I have my knee taped, and I am doing my exercises daily.

Posted in Health and fitness | Tagged | 9 Comments

Mother’s Day Thank You

985To the little girls who made me a mom, I thank you both for loving me so unconditionally.  Munch, my firstborn, you are the one who made me a mama.  I love how you see me.  You really know your mama very well.  You drew me with my Listen To Your Mother shirt and one of my many red cardigans. I appreciate the 3.5″ extra inches of height that you gave me.  I wish you could have fudged a bit more on my age like your sister did, but you are very factual and logical.  I adore how your mind works, and I love that we share a love of books in common. Reading Harry Potter with you has been a delight this past month. I wish you weren’t so much like your mom, and you had to stay up late reading to the end of the next chapter.

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Skeeter, I love how you see me as larger than life – 8′ tall.  You are my girl who sucks the marrow out of life.  You approach everything with enthusiasm.  If you are not happy about something, you let us know.  I hope that my advocacy for moms has contributed a bit to that.  I love to continue to cultivate your passion for music.  Singing and listening to music with you is one of my great joys.  You love to tell stories, and I will continue to encourage this gift.  I adored that you wanted to be in Listen To Your Mother too and a soccer coach just like your big sister, mommy and daddy.  You want so much to be big and grow up.  Please stay little for a little while longer.  I love that I can still pick you up and carry you.  I am limited to only piggy back rides with your sister.

To my amazing mom, my mothers-in-law, my aunts, my sister, my sister-in-law, and my amazing cousins, thank you for sharing your mothering journey with me.  I could not do this journey without each of you.

To all the grandmas in my life: Libby, Marie, Mabel, Elizabeth, and Doris, thank you for being my role models for unconditional support and love. I learned so many lessons of how precious the love of grandmas is.  I treasured all the moments I have spent with each of you.  I am so blessed to still have two of these special ladies in my life.

To my assorted mom tribes: running moms, LTYM sisterhood, Alexandra, Rochelle, Warrior Moms, Mama’s Comfort Camp, daycare moms and school moms, thank you so much for your wisdom, your encouragement and the love.

For those moms who are struggling with grief over the loss of their mom, I see you.  For those moms who are estranged from their children, I see you.  For those moms who are grieving the loss of their babies, I see you.  You are not alone.  For the birth moms, who made the choice to give up their babies, I see you.  For the adoptive moms, who opened their hearts to be someone’s forever family, I see you.

I hold in my hearts the mamas who struggle with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Mother’s Day can be painful.  I participated in Postpartum Progress’s Mother’s Day Rally this year with my piece that I read two years ago at LTYM Milwaukee. I hope that this gives you hope.

Posted in parenting, storytelling | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Listen To Your Mother 2015 – post show letdown

DSC01138[1]I had forgotten about the letdown that you feel after being in an amazing experience.  The past two years I remained in a state of shock for about a week after the show ended.  This year I missed our cast, my production team, and the venue team the next day.  Producing a show and watching everyone step outside of their comfort zones and share their truth is exhilarating and inspiring.  I walked into work taller with a sense of confidence and pride for being a part of such an amazing experience.

I owe so much to the two amazing women in the photo with me.  Alexandra and Rochelle have spoiled me for all other working relationships.  I have so much love and respect for them both.  We became an entity throughout this process forged by snort laughing, emojis, memes and our beloved coffee. I learn so much about mothering tweens and teens. Alexandra encourages me to believe in myself and take risks. Rochelle advises me to exercise grace and caution. I refer to them as my “brain trust”. All moms need mom friends and confidants who expose us to different ideas and perspectives. I am forever changed by my friendship with them. We had a group hug before the curtain went up. I quoted Pitch Perfect by telling them that “I love you dorks”.

This is such a labor of love for us because we love how storytelling brings our community together.  We are up late the last week muttering to do items in our sleep.  I had to hand write my list. It is my way of committing it to memory. We end up running on adrenaline and excitement the day of the show.

Each cast is a mystery to us at the beginning of the season.  We never know how the personalities will gel.  I wanted to freeze time during our show to watch the looks on everyone’s faces. I saw courage,determination, elation and triumph. I wanted to be like my mom and give each person a standing ovation.  At the very least, I wanted to stand up and have them high five me or do a fist pump.  LTYM empowers our cast; I can see each person stand a little taller after their piece.  The baby birds left our secure nest to fly and soar.  I cannot wait to see each and every one of them take flight.  When we stand in our truth and own our story, nothing seems impossible.

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*Photos courtesy of Orphonic Multimedia.*

Posted in storytelling | Tagged | 8 Comments