1. You and your husband sing together and pick out songs that have harmonies.
2. You have several copies of the same song in different keys.
3. Your children watch YouTube videos of their parents’ favorite musicians.
4. You have no idea what Kidz Bop is.
5. Your family is vehemently opposed to auto tune.
6. Your children ask in disbelief how you know so many songs. It’s called sight reading.
7. You can pick out individual voices in bands and ensembles. You shush your children at Mass so you can hear your college friend cantor.
8. You show your children pictures and videos of shows that you were in.
9. Your children request show tunes for a bedtime song.
10. You embarrass your children by singing show tunes in front of their friends.
My word last year was believe. I needed this word as a talisman as I experienced a layoff for the first time in my professional career. As I reflected on my next steps, I realized that I had not brought my authentic self to work. I spent so much time fitting myself into what people expected of me.
I saw this new opportunity as a chance to make a fresh start. I chose the word courage for this year. I wanted to lead from my heart. I discovered that I enjoy work because I am myself. My boss has become a mentor to me. I can get perspective, support and insight. I enjoy leading a team even when it is challenging.
Three months into this new year courage and opening my heart is exactly what I need to do. Leading like this is vulnerable. It is not easy at all. It requires me to be intentional and mindful of my interactions with everyone. At times I get frustrated and twitchy because change is difficult. I need to remember that change does not happen overnight. I need to give myself, my family and my team the grace and space to adapt to change.
How are you? I want to know how you’re really doing. What can I do to help you? Bring you coffee or tea so you can just talk to someone who gets it?
I see how hard you are working to get better. You may think it’s not enough, but those small steps are leading you on the path of recovery. I see you advocating for yourself when you encounter roadblocks. I see a mama tired of fighting, but she still perseveres to get healthy for herself and her family. Lean on me, mama. Lean on the community.
Never give up hope. You are not in this alone. When you make it through this, I’ll be dancing with you. The sisterhood of the warrior moms is like no other.
I stink at transitions. As a young child I loved to plan and schedule things. When a transition is not planned, it makes it even tougher for me. I rage and pout. I dig my heels in and protest this transition. I need that time to grieve the familiar.
A positive outlook helped me a lot with this latest transition, but I still struggled with days and hours of self doubt and depression. I wallowed in sadness and pity. The only way for me to move forward is to sit with all the uncomfortable feelings.
Of course my anxiety spiked due to the unplanned transition. I also struggled with my first significant colitis flare in over a year. I realized that I needed to be mindful and practice self-care. I needed quality sleep. I needed to move my body. I needed to eat healthy foods. My emotions were too raw to blog, so I wrote in my journal instead. I read books. I listened to guided meditation and inspiring podcasts.
I had two major takeaways from this experience. One is a comment made by the outplacement service. We all stay too long at our jobs. I had been bored for a while. I was no longer challenged on a daily basis. I had become complacent. I was comfortable with where I was. I needed to challenge myself, but I was afraid to take that first step.
My second aha moment was realizing how much I missed not building better relationships with my colleagues. I had so much fun at work during my final week just reconnecting with people. I am an extrovert by nature, and I need interaction with others to recharge my batteries. When I bring my authentic self to the workplace, I am more engaged and more productive. So next year I will begin my new position on January 4th with an open mind and an open heart.
***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.
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.
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.