When Child Play Triggers Intrusive Thoughts

***Trigger Lifeline-English-454x500warning: If you are feeling fragile or struggling, this post might be triggering.  I talk about intrusive thoughts.***

It was a lazy weekend afternoon.  My daughters decided to build forts.  They were crawling around with blankets over their head. The girls laughed and yelled all around me.  It was a picture perfect moment of innocent childhood play until my anxiety started to suffocate me.  All of a sudden, I felt that overwhelming sense of panic and dread.  I made them stop, and I called my husband in for reinforcements.  I could hardly articulate to my girls why I needed them to stop right away.

How do you tell your sweet girls that putting things over their heads is a major trigger for you?  I whispered to my husband how triggering this was for me.  I got out that all I could picture was my sweet babies with bags, pillows or blankets over their heads.  I had strangled them with my own hands.  Those thoughts came racing to the forefront of my mind again.  The siren call of anxiety sounded again.  I looked at my sweet girls who were laughing and dancing around me.  I reiterated my mantra to myself.  You are okay.  Your husband is okay.  Your girls are okay.  Everyone is home and safe.

I used all my coping techniques. I breathed deeply. I kept repeating to myself that this was just my intrusive thoughts. I held my books and my phone to ground myself in what was tangible and real. The physical symptoms of a panic attack continued their assault on me.  I ended up laying down and continuing to do deep breathing.  Panic attacks exhaust me physically and mentally.  I literally feel like I have run and escaped from a bogeyman who is chasing me.  It takes me at least fifteen to twenty minutes for the physical symptoms to abate.  I also used my anxiety medication to help dull that rising tide of panic.  I finally was able to relax and enjoy the rest of my lazy weekend day.  I know that I am not my thoughts, and that is a mantra that I use when I am triggered by a resurgence of my intrusive thoughts.  It is rare that those intrusive thoughts appear anymore.  I continue to make my health a priority by getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing other forms of self-care like yoga, singing, dancing and journaling.

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Fitness Fridays: Meditation and Strength Training

My results from the 21 day were a three-pound weight loss, 3 inches off my hips and 2 inches off my waist.  I finally have found my strength training groove again.  I will definitely keep coming back to this program.  The workouts are perfect to fit into my jam-packed schedule.  After triumphantly finishing the program, then I got struck down by a nasty sinus infection.  I spent an entire week without working out.  The dizziness and sinus pressure make it impossible for me to do any type of balancing activity.  Even gentle yoga can wipe me out.  I listened to my body, and I slept as much as I possibly could.

This month, I am participating in a 30 day meditation challenge with my friends Jaime and Story.  I adore yoga, and I thought meditation might be a nice complement to help with overall stress reduction.  To my friends and family who read this blog, go ahead and laugh.  I am type A, and I struggle with sitting still.  I refer to my mind as “monkey brain”.  I continually focus on the next thing and the next thing.

My goal for this month is to get back outside and do some winter running.  I did not run in January except for the first day of the month.  I plan on continuing to bump up the intensity of my workouts as I recover from this bug.  I have gotten in lots of cardio with shoveling the lovely white stuff as well as taking different classes at our local Y.  I have become a group exercise junkie.  I love being motivated and challenged by others around me.  i know that I am only in competition with myself, but I love being surrounded by my fitness buddies.  The Y provides me with that community.

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Fitness Fridays: Week 3 of the 21 Day Fix


I am only a mere forty-eight hours away from completing this program. It has re-energized my commitment to strength training. I have definitely refocused my nutrition. I realized how much my macronutrient balance was off. I have upped my vegetable and protein intake. I love that allows for treats. It turns out I love quality dark chocolate. That satisfies me much more than a snickers or milky way.

My plans are to finish the program. Then I plan to try out some new classes at the y and gear up to start running again. I plan on continuing to focus on clean eating. I am recruiting a friend to join me in the next sixty days starting on February 2nd. We will do a hybrid of PiYo, running and the 21 day fix. If you are interested in joining us, email me.

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Just Write: Asking Permission

imageSometimes all I need is a shift in perspective from a dear friend to see things more clearly. I had dinner with an amazing woman who is also a former colleague. I adore this friend because she saw me at the beginning of my career. She took me under her wing which speaks volumes of the generosity of her character. I was a naive and inexperienced recent college graduate who was thrown into the fire two weeks after my start date. I worked on a team of two, and my other partner in crime was on vacation. My friend C made me take a lunch break every day. She made me walk with her if I looked overwhelmed. C is the person you want to train you in anything. She’s thorough, detail oriented and patient. She presents material clearly, and her training sessions aren’t boring.

We talked at length about the challenges we face as working women who are seen as pushovers or soft. We are the product of private schools; we do not interrupt when others are talking. We wait for a lull in the conversation to interject during meetings. We were raised to respect authority. We both work for companies that prize the fine art of arguing which is counter to how we were brought up. She said to me that she stopped asking for permission. That has really struck a chord with me. I cannot demonstrate initiative and leadership if I always ask for permission. This all comes back to my one word: belief. When I believe in myself and my abilities, the need for permission and validation goes away. Thank you Heather for providing me the prompt to explore this.


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Fitness Fridays: Week 2 of the 21 Day Fix

This week was a little bit tougher than last week in terms of eating.  I did not plan as well as I could have.  I still struggle with getting in enough protein most days. I feel more energized, and I am not struggling with a late afternoon slump. My energy remains pretty level. I think that cutting back on the caffeinated beverages helped tremendously. At most I have two cups, and I am watching my portion sizes. I do not want to drink my calories, and the nutrition plan keeps me grounded in a healthy diet. I am sleeping more soundly. I am excited to see my final results.

I feel stronger, and I am noticing more definition and muscle tone. My waist is shrinking, and my clothes are fitting better. I feel less bloated. I love the variety of the exercises. I am not bored. I focus on getting the most out of each workout.

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Holding space for stories

The art of sto2015 MKE Call for Auditions2rytelling is as old as the human race.  Our stories connect us.  We tell stories to remind of us where we have come from.  My girls love to hear stories about when they were babies.  January is the time of year that LTYM starts back up again for me.  It is our third year in Milwaukee, and Alexandra, Rochelle and I are ready to hold space to hear some amazing stories.  This show changes lives for the audience members, for the cast and the director/producer teams.

Telling my story at our inaugural show changed my life.  I took a huge risk, and I shared the story of where I was at my lowest point.  It liberated me as much as it scared me.  The stories that I heard at that show and at our second annual show moved me so much.  I saw a piece of myself in each of the stories that we told each other.  After I read my initial piece in our first rehearsal, several women from our cast told me how much my story resonated with them.  I felt the same way.  Those stories connected us to each other in a tapestry of community, resilience and hope.  A LTYM show is a must-see experience.  Please audition or go see a show.  We have shows in thirty-nine cities this year!  You will laugh, you will cry, and you will leave transformed.

Posted in postpartum depression, storytelling | 5 Comments

Fitness Fridays: Week 1 of the 21 Day Fix

I hesitated to put this as one of my goals on my last post – to start and complete a fitness program.  I let life get in the way.  I have made tremendous progress from where I was just two years ago.  I still lack discipline.  This program is just the kick in the pants that I needed.  It is twenty-one days of clean eating and exercise.  My portion control is fairly good, but I sometimes consume too many liquid calories.  This program teaches me about the macro-nutrients.  I clearly need more protein in my diet.  It has required me to do more menu planning which is a huge benefit for our family.  It has solved the endless debating on what we want for dinner.  I even got my daughters to try baked cod.

I had to double up on workouts due to a forty-five minute shoveling workout and an hour-long Body Pump class on Wednesday that left all of my limbs like jelly.  I love Autumn’s approach.  She inspires me.  The exercises are boot camp style – one minute of work followed by fifteen seconds of rest.  The time flies by.  I love that there is someone who modifies the workout.  Honestly I cannot hold a plank for a minute.  I hope to work up to it by the end of the program, but I made it to thirty seconds.

I am struggling a bit with giving up my delicious flavored coffee creamer.  It does have a lot of processed stuff in it. I realized that I do not care for black coffee at all. The coffee itself makes a huge difference if I mix it with just skim milk and sugar.  I have used the creamer, but I have not used it as liberally as I have in the past.  I can actually taste the coffee now.  I am so excited to try out a new coffee that my in-laws got for me for Christmas.   I am struggling with hydration this week as well.  It has been bitterly cold which fuels my need for just warm drinks – ie coffee and not as much water.  I know that the dry cold deceives me into thinking that I have not exerted myself as much.  Today I am focusing on staying hydrated.  That is my goal for this weekend.  Has anyone struggled to finish fitness challenges like I have?



Posted in Health and fitness, self care | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments