Women’s March 2018

Yesterday I looked out in front and before me I could see

Thousands with hope just like me

Hope for what? why do we stand and scream and beg?

Is anyone listening?

 

I look beside me, and I see my friends

women just like me.

Their hearts are warm their brains are strong

but their voices are gone

 

On the other side is a woman twice my age

She reminds me of my grandmother

She’s standing alone in the sea of other women

I fear being alone.

 

Behind me are 3 women together

They are with Planned Parenthood

Their mission is clear

They can’t break through

 

This is not my March

This is not my home

This is not my solution

I am all alone

 

In the distance a voice yells

“black women Started ME TOO’

They are right, and they are silenced

And they are tired

 

It turn to my friend “wanna rush the stage?”

I just can’t listen anymore

We join arms my friends and me

We gather strength and begin to move to march

 

The mud squishes onto my shoes

The signs are held high; I think of how long this has gone on

I put one foot in front of the other

I notice our march is in unison

 

Where is the passion that was here last year?

We should be angrier

The laws are worse

The injustice has glaringly grown

 

This is not my March

This is not my home

This is not my solution

I am all alone

 

I see a sign and so does my friend

“Red hair soaked in the blood of my enemies”

My friend has red hair she pulls us ahead

We never lose each other as we run

 

We are together

She saw the sign first and wanted to take a picture

I saw the sign and wanted to yell “FUCK YEAH!”

That’s the spirit of my march

 

Why are we slowing

We have stopped

Much like this movement and much like my heart

Not with my friends, now sisters, not on our watch

 

Our linked arms grip tighter as we work up the crowd

We ask as we go by “will you go with us if we go first”

We are met with judgement

The oppressor is here I can feel him looking at me

 

This is not my March

This is not my home

This is not my solution

I am all alone

 

We get to the crossing the three of us yelling

“WE WONT STOP TIL THEY STOP”

Someone, a woman, grabs at my new friend to stop us

But our voices only escalate

 

They can hear them now, our voices

We march fast, we yell, we are pissed the fuck off

I think of all the times I have been dismissed by a man

I think of all the times my friends have been silenced by a man

 

Our anger grows as we run up the crowd

Yelling and laughing; we get stronger the further we go

Don’t try to stop us my sisters and me

We know our mission, we have a plan, we have organized

 

We are going to take a seat at the table

And if there is none we’ll bring our own chair

I am woke to what is happening and I’m done

Playing nice and I’m not backing down

 

This is MY march

This is MY people

This is MY answer

WE are not alone

 

We march all the way to her car and we drive

To the stoplight where my sister was halted

We park in the middle of the street

With our Fists held high as the music blares from the open windows

 

Keep marching I know you’re scared

And Keep moving though I know you’re tired

Stay energized I’ll help you through

Cause that is what sisters do

 

Horn’s sound is loud they turn their heads

We are putting the passion back into this crowd

Feeding them what they are craving

Reminding them of what they have forgotten

 

I am emboldened as I look to my sister, my friend

She is smiling and happy and I can tell she feels alive

I feel it too and realize I have not forgotten

What it feels like to motivate a crowd

 

This is MY march

This is MY people

This is MY answer

WE are not alone

 

I come home energized and refreshed

I no longer feel silenced or scared or alone

I am bold and fierce and empowered

I am alive there is still fight in me and I will be free

 

 

Inside My Suicide Brain

Burning brain in flames on a black background

I want to talk about something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but is part of my every day. Suicide.

I was diagnosed bipolar about 20 years ago. It was after a long battle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis. I’ve written about it here. Mental health disease carries with it a stigma. There are 3 groups of people in my mind when it comes to mental health. 1) Those that have it. 2) Those that try but don’t really understand it 3) Those that think it’s bunk. This is written to group #2. Group #3 can fuck off.  Group #1- solidarity to you my brothers and sisters.

I live with mental illness every day. It’s not something I choose to have. I am well aware that I can control my emotions and the way I “feel” is a choice, a decision. This is not that. It effects that way that I feel, and the way that I make decisions but it is not something I can stop from happening. I get up every day and because of my disease I fight my thoughts every day. I talk myself in and out of shit all day long.

Let me compare this to diabetes. Diabetics are diagnosed when their pancreas stops working correctly and the chemicals and hormones don’t respond as they should to certain body function. They check their blood several times a day, they take pills or injections when they need to balance the hormones out. A diabetic knows that there are extreme things that can happen as a result of the disease. They can lose a foot, they can lose eyesight, they go into a coma, and other less serious complications.

My brain doesn’t function properly. I check in with my doctor several times a year, maybe several times a month when things get bad. I take pills when the hormones need to be balanced. I know that there are extreme complications of having bipolar disease. I am unpredictable, my mood shifts back and forth, I think about suicide every day. That’s the reality.

I don’t believe that any sane, sober, rational, free-thinking person wants to die, that they want to kill themselves (aside from those that have a fatal diagnosis or a disease that will greatly impede their quality of life and for which there is no cure- that’s another side of suicide). It goes against how we are made as humans in every way. I, like so many others with a mental health disease, am afraid of dying. Not afraid of the act of dying or being dead, but afraid that at some point the noise in my head will take over and my brains will tell me to end it, and then it will happen. A diabetic that has uncontrolled disease loses a foot, a bipolar with uncontrolled disease slices their wrists.

It’s a complication of the disease. I have a million thoughts racing through my head at any given minute and I must constantly decide which ones to act on and how. I am sorting, sorting, filtering, filtering, analyzing millions of tiny thoughts in my head all day. It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. The medicine helps a lot. If it didn’t I’d be inpatient or dead. Sometimes the thoughts get so loud and so aggressive I start to believe them. I start to lose track of what is worth filtering and what isn’t.

Also, let’s call it what it is. It’s not “taking her own life” or “killing herself”. She didn’t kill herself, her mental illness killed her, bipolar killed her, her disease killed her. The term is suicide. And let’s stop saying that people that commit suicide are selfish! On bad days, I lay in bed with thoughts rambling on and I work every minute to talk these through in my head. It’s all I can muster on some days. I literally cannot do anything else except to keep the irrational thoughts from taking over. Those are days that I tell someone I know and trust that I am scared. I fear what my brain might tell me to do and that I won’t be able to recognize that my brain is lying to me.

On good days, there are still a million thoughts, but I may only have one or two that I have to talk myself through all day. When your aunt gets sick from her diabetes you go to her side, you ask what you can do to help, at the very least you might say a prayer or offer positive intentions but you don’t blame her. You don’t call her selfish. You don’t say “if she would have just asked for help”. People with mental illness don’t know their thoughts are irrational, that’s what makes them…IRRATIONAL! They can’t ask for help with something they don’t know is a problem and on bad days I may not know that my thoughts are putting me at risk. I may not be able to figure that out.

Don’t shy away from asking me how I am doing. If you are really concerned you can ask me if I feel suicidal, you can say the word. You saying it doesn’t plant the idea in my head. It’s already there, the question is whether I feel that I may act on it today.

Finally, let’s stop blaming ourselves. As much as your friend or family member may not have chosen to commit suicide, but it happened, they are not to blame and you are not to blame. The disease is a lying manipulative bitch that is hella strong and convincing. She will say anything and everything to get her way. While there are things that people can do, or say that might help in the moment, you can’t be expected to know when those are needed.

The biggest thing you can do is drop the fucking stigma about mental health disease. Support funding for these diseases. And TALK ABOUT IT. Talk about mental health and keep it in the light, that shit likes to stay in the shadows, lurking and nothing will ever get any better that way. It needs to become part of our conversation when we talk about health and disease. We talk freely and unashamedly about diabetes; we need to be that way with bipolar (and other mental health disease).

How Pearl Jam Saved Me From My Own Generation (X)

pearl-jam-concert

A couple of weeks ago I bought concert tickets to a show and it made some things in my life come full circle. I’ve seen a lot of live music shows. It’s something Bob and I enjoyed separately before we got married and have always done together since we started dating, in fact, our first date was to LIVE. Many, many have followed.

Every year we start very early in the season watching for shows to come to KC and within driving or riding distance. This year I heard that Pearl Jam was touring and that they would be hitting up Chicago. Not only is Chicago one of my very favorite cities, it’s a short, cheap plane ride and the concert will be at Wrigley field. No way would Bob not want to see this show. I was right. We sat together at Ground House Coffee in Gardner and over crepes and lattes we got online and luckily got tickets to the, what would be, sold out show.

I am generation X. Every generation before mine had some historically defining event. We had none. We are children born from the largest generation in American history, the Baby Boomers (born from the WWII era). They had war, protests, experimental drugs and sex, political unrest, and societal change. We had…frozen yogurt?

A lot of sub-cultural place markers of today got their start by generation Xers. Emo is one that started in the 90s, and made being depressed cool, which in turn brought awareness to those suffering in silence. The stigma, though still very much alive, is becoming less and less. People were starting to realize what was happening to this generation and some, including us, knew it wasn’t good. We had songs like “Jeremy” which gave the story behind that quiet but unpredictable kid in class. We knew how bullying and someone’s home life could cause them to blow the fuck up. The song was based on what, as you now, is the first, of many school shootings.  We felt the pressure cooker everyday. We knew the storm was on the horizon.

Portlandia was a way of life, not a TV show. The hipster trend grew it’s roots while I was in high school. Going against the “mainstream” was invented during my adolescence. We had an entire genre of music named after the movement- alternative rock. Whatever our parents did or were doing we rejected.  We were angry. We lashed out and didn’t give a fuck about what other people thought of us. We were scrambling to find what defined Us. Stuck in the middle between the Baby Boomers and what we now call ,The Millennials. We were being squeezed out of history and believe me, we knew it- could feel it.

We had a lot to live up to but we were labeled the generation of nothing, of X. We were looking for something worth fighting for.  Some of us felt we didn’t have anything to give, we served no purpose and that was reflected in the music of the time. We were sad, and lonely. We had nothing to cling to, nothing to bring us together. We were guilt stricken, sobbing with our heads on the floor. The music was our solace. It was where we connected.

This is how it was in the 90s in the sub-culture known as “Grunge” or sometimes just referred to as “alternative”. I have good memories, it wasn’t all terrible. I mean my Doc Martens held up and my flannel was warm, my hair did get washed (sometimes) and I do remember eating a meal or two. We’ve grown up and those that made it (our generation has a very high suicide rate) feel a sense of comaraderie knowing what we all went through together. We still hold inside of us these ideas of rebellion, unrest, and independence but we live our lives, go to our 9-5s and we are a bit more of a part of society than we ever thought we would be.

A flash of my youth came up and bit me that morning in the coffee shop as we ordered those tickets. Pearl Jam defined life for me in the 90s. Nobody could give words, voice, and sound to the way I felt better than Eddie Vedder. I would listen and feel as though my soul was understood. This band saved me from certain self destruction. When my friends and I listened to them play, WE felt heard. From all of that bullshit of nothingness that I grew up in and with, I have it good, not everyone was so lucky from the 90s.

 

A Letter to My 18-Year-Old-Self

letter to my 18 year old self

First of all, I want you to know that the impact you have on others will change the world, as you know it. You are powerful beyond your comprehension. You have the opportunity and ability to set yourself on a path to success; at any given time you’re doing better than you think you are.

It’s okay to let some people into your life and reject those that don’t benefit you. The cool thing is you know who’s who right now. Don’t worry about being alone; you’ll never be lonely. Seriously, only allow people into your life that are worthy of all you have to offer. The relationships you have that are healthy you’ll want to nurture them and keep them close, don’t let them slip away.

As you go through life you’ll meet people that don’t agree with how you’re living or what your future plans are. Just remember, only you know you and I’m telling you, as you, to stay the course. You’ll move through it and you’ll appreciate and respect yourself so much more knowing you stayed true to you. You have no reason to doubt yourself.

Though you have felt what it’s like to fall in love, to be loved, and to be hurt and rejected you’ve not yet met the person that will put all the pieces together for you. He’s coming soon and when it happens you’ll know right away. Trust yourself and trust him. He’ll come in on a white horse and swoop you up and you’ll fall for him hard and fast but it’s good, so go with it. He’ll hang the stars for you. You’ll resent the time you spend apart. Though it may seem crazy now you’ll still feel this way about him 22 years from now.

But for now, spend your time having fun and living life in a way that you’ll have no regrets later about not taking every opportunity that comes your way. Do it all now, whatever it is, go for it.

Try not to worry so much about things, go with the flow more. And as far as people go, most people aren’t’ paying attention to you anyway, they are too busy worrying about their own shit. You have the ability to read people, you have amazing intuition and that makes some people uncomfortable around you. You don’t know yet how to hone in on this skill and use it to your advantage but it will serve you well later on. Go with your gut, she’s never wrong.

Consider eating a bit healthier. Love your body and the amazing things it is capable of doing. Take care of it and nurture it. Continue to exercise. Have more sex- but on your terms. Take it from yourself- figure it out now, the sooner the better. Know that you are just as deserving of good sex and orgasm as the person you’re with. It’s not just about him, whoever him happens to be. Your satisfaction and happiness is up to you, you are in control and in charge of it.

It’s okay to speak up and speak out. You’ll figure out that people are looking for leadership and you have those skills. Work on the empathy piece to that leadership. Don’t be so afraid of rejection that you keep you ideas and opinions to yourself. Others can learn from your unique perspective. Being young does not invalidate your experience.

You’re going to go through a couple of rough years here real soon. Everything works out in the end. Stay true to you, stay smart and use your wisdom. Love yourself and everything will be all right.

Biggest Powerball in Lottery History

Wow! All this Powerball fuss is incredible! It’s, at this moment, a whopping 1.3 BILLION dollars, and the biggest in lottery history. Facebook is inundated with posts about how people will spend the money if they win. IF THEY WIN!! It has created a frenzy to say the least.

I think the overwhelming majority of people buying tickets cannot even fathom the amount of money the pay out would be. How could they? The average income in our country is $51,000 a year. In Kansas the annual pay out, after taxes, is $30 Million per year for 30 years! The sad truth is most people that win are out of money in a few short years. But it isn’t stopping anyone from trying. And as the saying goes “you don’t win if you don’t play”.

I was in the gas station today and there were about 6 people standing in line, all talking about the Powerball. “How many tickets are you getting?” “I heard someone bought $100 worth of tickets earlier.” “Somebody has to win right?” And the conversations continued as I walked out the door. It reminded me of something- my all time favorite movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In the movie, Charlie’s family was poor and sickly and I desperately wanted him to find a GOLDEN TICKET. Do you remember those scenes of people screaming and fighting over those tickets? People were swiping them out of each other’s hands and claiming them for their own. These people were in an all out hysteria over the tickets and there were several, (unlike the chances of the Powerball) and the prize was a tour of a chocolate factory that had shut its doors to the public years before.

The press would interview each golden ticket finding family and most the recipients were a loathsome bunch. But Charlie was a sweet boy. He was a good boy. Did what his parents asked, was respectful and humble. He had nothing. He ate cabbage soup every day for dinner and sometimes it didn’t even have cabbage!! When I watched his birthday celebration and realized he was going to be able to buy a bar, one bar, in which he hoped to get a golden ticket my heart raced I was so excited for poor Charlie.

willie wonka

I wonder if all this fuss will bring someone his or her dreams? Charlie found a golden ticket and toured the factory. After a somewhat abrupt end and an unexpected outburst by the owner, Willie Wonka, Charlie humbled himself and walked away. I wonder if the winner could walk away? But it was in that act that he won the grand prize. His humility and honesty won him the greatest most elaborate perfectly timed extraordinary prize of his lifetime.

The movie was a reminder that good things happen to good people and that money can’t buy happiness. It gave me hope. It showed me that the world is inherently good. When I was a kid, and even still now (I can admit it) I loved that movie. I would watch it over and over. It represented hope and what can happen if you can simply imagine it will. It was a kid’s dream come true. I wanted to ride in that flying glass elevator, I wanted to push the red button and soar through the glass ceiling (I’d still like to shatter the glass ceiling but that’s a blog for another day). I wanted to feel like I was floating on air just like Charlie!

powerball

I hope someone wins. I want them to have everything they ever dreamed of. I hope it’s someone like Charlie who came from nothing. I’m a sucker for a good underdog story. I’ll believe they are good, honest and humble like Charlie. I will believe that winning this prize will send them down a road that will turn their lives around for generations to come in their family. I will imagine them blasting through that glass ceiling that held them back from everything they ever wanted.

“If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There’s nothing to it
There is no life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there, you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be”
Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

 

I Am Heidi and I Am Bipolar (this time I made it)

What-does-bipolar-feel-like

The other day I was out to dinner with some colleagues of mine. We were talking about nothing really. One of them asked me how I was doing. I knew exactly what she was asking. Her concern was very authentic but for a mili-second in my mind I paused. Could I tell her how I really was? Could I trust these women that I was munching casually on chips and salsa with the heaviness of my truth?

As with most things in my life I took a “I-won’t-know-until-I-do-it” attitude and decided to just put it out there. I’m pretty good at diverting attention and changing the subject if the conversation got too uncomfortable for any of us. So I told her I was doing much better, but that the summer had been a rough one.

Thinking this would suffice and we’d move on talking about better things than my mental health like making money, who said the dumbest thing on Facebook this week or even sex but no, she wanted to know more. She asked, “What happened?” Again, I know her concern was genuine. The past summer as far as anyone could see I had pulled back on work and relationships and pretty much went into hiding so I know that her asking me that question was valid. I had decided long ago that I would not be embarrassed or held back by my mental health diagnosis. My mission in this area to bring awareness so that other people, especially women, can feel comfortable being who they are and not resent this one part of themselves.

It’s been almost 19 years since I was first given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder II. I’ve had ups and downs over the years. I’ve been in and out of therapy, on and off meds and through numerous changes in the cocktails of medications over the years. I know the prognosis of my condition. I know that most people with bipolar disorder must be medicated their entire lives just to live a seemingly normal life (and sometimes that isn’t even possible). I also know that bipolar depression is a contributing factor in many suicides. I know these things; I live them daily.

For most of these past 19 years I’ve been stable with minor mood fluctuations. Most people would have no idea that I carried a mental illness diagnosis. I’ve held jobs, advanced in my career, raised children, sustained relationships and paid bills. Nothing on the outside would have hinted towards what I was fighting (and winning) everyday.

But this summer a shift happened. I remember feeling physical symptoms of the manic mood, but I didn’t put it together. When you’re living it, it just feels like it’s a part of who I am. It’s not like some kind of monster separate from myself. It’s not something that has “taken over” When I had headaches and my heart raced I never even thought about how those symptoms could be a manifestation of the bipolar.

I often joke that when you go crazy it’s not like a switch gets flipped. You don’t hear it. It’s not an alarm and there are no red flags being waved. No one is there at the threshold between normal and out of you fucking mind saying, “you have now crossed over.” It’s slow and progressive. I didn’t realize I was manic until much later and only once I leveled out.

Have I gone mad-

What I did feel was when the bottom fell out. I did know that I was spiraling down a deep dark abyss of which I’d never be able to get out of on my own. I didn’t hear the sudden swish of the rug being pulled out from under me as my feet flipped up over my head. I didn’t feel as I tried to grasp onto anything that would hold me up. I gasped for air; I begged to keep my head up. I fell and I never landed, I just kept falling.

I became frightened of where my thoughts would lead me and what they might make me do. I didn’t want to die. The thought of it made me shudder. I couldn’t imagine leaving my family alone to deal with the hurt that would cause. I however, didn’t trust that in an irrational haze my unpredictable chemically imbalanced mind wouldn’t take over and convince me to kill myself. You don’t know when your having crazy thoughts, that’s what makes them crazy.

During a more lucid time I told my husband and doctor what was happening and about my fears. She decided to put me on what she called “home hospitalization”. Someone was to be with me 24/7 in case the irrationality took over. I was not supposed to work or have any stress in my life. Then my grandma died.

I couldn’t talk to anyone except my husband. Literally, I didn’t answer the phone or make any calls. I stayed in bed and only felt safe when Bob was home. I didn’t eat and barely slept. I had completely lost who I was. Like when you’re in an airplane in the fog. You have no concept of where you are in space. That’s how I felt. With gray space all around me and no way to know if I was right side up or upside down. I had to trust Bob to tell me if I was okay or not.

Meanwhile my doctor changed my meds and slowly but surely they started working. The fog got thinner and thinner, I started to see my way out. Eventually, it thinned out to the point where it was a few clouds here and there. And that’s about where I am now.

So that’s what happened. It’s not the first or the worst and it won’t be the last. After I told my story one of the other women said, “You’re such a bad ass. You’re just so authentic and open about your bipolar. And you keep going, you don’t let it hold you back.” I appreciated her words but this is me. I’m not special. I fall down and get back up; it’s all I know. I take one day at a time, and on this day I choose to live. I am Heidi and I am bipolar.

Please Forgive Me

Forgive me

 

How do you move past a dark mark in your life? A time you were so hurt or betrayed or abandoned that you feel like the person you were is no longer there. The old you has changed as a result of what you went through. How do you get past it or do you?

I was talking with a friend a while back about forgiveness. What is it actually? What does it mean to forgive someone? And is it necessary? And if so, how the hell do you go about doing it? We didn’t come up with all of the answers but I did learn a few things. As I thought about our conversation I realized a few things.

1) Forgiveness has absolutely NOTHING to do with the person that hurt you, nothing. If it did the other person would have to know that you had forgiven them for it to be “real” but they don’t need to know. It’s a personal decision you make with yourself. It’s the last thing you can do and have complete control over to end the relationship once and for all. It’s closure. It’s sticking a fork in it. It’s done and over. And none of it is for them or about them; this decision is all about you.

2) Forgiving someone else is one of two simultaneous actions the other being- forgiving yourself. To be able to forgive someone else you have to forgive yourself for the part you played in the situation.

I had something terrible happen to me, it was an injustice that I worried I would never get past. I beat myself up over it; no, actually, I ripped myself apart. How did I not know better, how did I not see it coming, how did I let it happen, how could I be so stupid and naive? I started to believe and act the exact way I was accused of being and acting. Ugh!

I realized for me to go on, I had to stop talking like that to me. I wouldn’t allow anyone else to talk to me (or anyone I loved) that way, why was I letting myself do it? I started to recognize that I am human, and as a human I am imperfect. I will make mistakes and make bad decisions but ultimately I am a good person with good intentions and a huge heart. I don’t deserve to be exposed to such mistreatment especially from myself.

3) Forgiveness isn’t a one-time thing, it is a process. Yuck, sometimes I just want something over and done. I don’t always want to have to “go through a process”. The thing about it is that it sort of happens in layers, or levels sort of like Kubler-Ross’ stages of death and dying. But this is more like the stages of freedom and liberation!

First, I had to get to a place where I could wrap my mind around what had happened. This was probably the hardest part for me. I was so stunned and astonished that another human could treat someone in the way I had been treated it took some time to admit it had actually taken place.

I had to do damage control. Next, I sought out help from those I trusted and who had my best interest in mind. After that, I sat with the thoughts of how things had been before and what I wanted to go back and what had to change for good.

I sorted through and picked up the pieces as I began to forgive myself. I started to understand that to get to that place where I no longer thought about what happened I had to forgive the people that had done this. Otherwise, they were just taking up real estate in my head, and they did not deserve any of my time or energy.

4) Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It also doesn’t mean you welcome the person or people back in to your life. You have to decide what is best for you, and know that just because you forgave them doesn’t mean they won’t do it again. Remember- forgiveness has nothing to do with them.

5) Practicing gratitude helps to forgive. Find the things that you are thankful for, and focus on them. Soon enough they will become larger and more important than the person or people you are trying to forgive. What you focus on expands. If you believe this, you understand that focusing on gratitude will make those things in your life bigger and better. And all the time you are spending on being grateful is time you are not spending thinking about the shitty thing that happened to you.

6) Forgiveness gets easier the more you do it. Become a person that easily forgives. You can practice it and practice makes perfect, right? Forgive the person that cut you off on the highway, forgive the mom for going backwards in the school pick up line, forgive your spouse for being snarky, forgive your kid for forgetting her backpack, forgive your neighbor for making ruts in your newly manicured lawn. Forgive! It feels good to not be harboring ill feelings towards anyone.

Along with this is being the person that is not easily offended. You can choose to see the good in people, and assume that their intentions are not malicious. Everyone is going through something, and everyone has shit that they carry with him or her every day. You may have come across them at a bad time, but that doesn’t mean that they are a bad person. Don’t allow your self to be offended, then you don’t’ have to work on forgiveness quite as much.

None of this is easy and I am far from perfect on any of it. I am real woman dealing with real issues and these are some of my observations and things that have helped me. I am working on forgiving others and myself every day. I try to practice what I preach but I don’t always do such a good job. I fall way short of where I’d like to be most of the time. Please forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

Can I Be Both Vulnerable and Strong at the Same Time?

 

strength and vulnerability

I travel a lot teaching and training doulas. I love this part of my job because I get to meet so many women. I get insight on what makes them tick and how they see the world. Sociology was always my favorite subject.

One time I was having dinner with a couple of ladies that were in the class I was currently teaching. We got to talking about some things that were really deep. I shared a part of me that isn’t the side I want every one to see. It’s the dark side of the moon. It’s the part of me that gets scared, and feels weak, and unworthy. It’s the part of me that wants to run and hide and stay out of the light.

One of the women was feeling particularly vulnerable, and was somewhat afraid to talk about what she was really feeling. That’s why I shared that part of me with her. I wanted her to see that everyone is human and everyone has a part of himself or herself that they would rather keep hidden.

I am a smart and savvy businesswoman, a mother of 5 children, and a wife to my husband of 20 years. I teach, train, and mentor women from all over the country. They look up to me. Sometimes they put me on a pedestal (something I am not very comfortable with, but I get it). They see me as someone they want to become. They look to me for advice. These women share some of their inner most thoughts and dreams. They see me as strong, confident, and secure.

She asked me how I could be so vulnerable. My response was “it is because of my vulnerability that I can be so strong. In my vulnerability is my strength. ”

Being vulnerable isn’t a weakness, or a flaw. In fact it’s just the opposite. I allow myself to be seen as vulnerable at times and that move shows more strength than any other one action I could take. To let someone in, to let him or her have a taste of what my biggest fears are, that takes a great amount of confidence.

If I can get real with who I am and what my biggest fears are it allows people around me to feel comfortable being themselves, and showing a little bit of vulnerability too, which is really us just being human. Staying authentic means showing who I really am and being unapologetic about it. Who I am is a strong woman that is vulnerable at times.

I invite you to get real with yourself first. That is the first step. Recognizing that you aren’t perfect. Believing that you, just how you are right now, are enough. You are enough to be loved. You are enough to be worthy. You are a human. Imperfectly perfect in every way. And you are vulnerable and you are strong!

Thanksgiving at Granny’s

 

Thanksgiving

This time of year most people start to plan their Thanksgiving feast. That one day a year when not only is it okay to stuff yourself to the gills, so much that you either puke or pass out, it is expected and considered offensive if you don’t in some families. By now most probably know where they will be on Thursday, and what dish they’ll be bringing to dinner. Typically there is some sort of TRADITION that is followed each year.

From the time I can remember I grew up having Thanksgiving dinner at noon on Thursday around an enormous table in my Granny’s dining room. Everyone that could come that year would gather around. It was very common for there to be at least one person that wasn’t a family member in the traditional sense to be at the table as well. We welcomed all, and if someone didn’t have a place to go they came to Granny’s.

I remember there being so much food that as a kid it made me giddy. The turkey was the biggest I had ever seen, the potatoes perfectly fluffed, and the gravy smooth as silk. We had cranberry salads, copper penny salad, marinated vegetable salads, and lettuce salad. There were sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and green bean casserole with fried onions on top and freshly risen dinner rolls. Then there were pies. My Granny is the original Queen of Pies (now my mother has taken over that role, I suspect one day it will be me, as the throne goes…) Even if you don’t like pie; you’d like my Granny’s.

Gramps would carve the turkey. Dinner was more formal than Thanksgiving is in my house today. We would peacefully and graciously pass each dish to the next person. The silver was placed perfectly and the napkin was tucked discreetly in your lap. You said “please” and “thank you” and you tried every dish, at least one bite.

After dinner the kids would usually go to the basement. There was a pool table, a Ping-Pong table, and shuffleboard. But my very favorite thing to do was sit at the computer, and play games on the Apple II E. It was probably only one game…and after awhile you’d get a headache from the flickering green screen.

The women would start the Christmas decorating and the men would watch whatever game was on from the back of their eyelids. Then in a few hours we’d drag all that food out again and start all over, this time we’d eat cold turkey sandwiches. It was heaven.

A lot has changed over the years from the time we had dinners at Granny’s. For one, the house has been sold. Gramps is no longer with us, and Granny is in her last years. The family is a little more scattered around, and we aren’t always able to get everyone together every year.

I host the dinner at my house now. Mom and I, and whoever else wants to pitch in, make the food on Wednesday. We have the same basic menu we’ve always had, why change a good thing? We spend the afternoon and evening playing games.

I have so many fond memories and know my kids are making them too. My Granny isn’t able to remember a lot of things. Last year she was concerned and told my mother that she just couldn’t do the dinner. As of last year it had been about 20 years since she’d had a Thanksgiving meal at her house. Her mind gets stuff mixed up now.

I have the wonderful memories of dinner at her house. I can smell the turkey basting, still. I can hear her laugh as she throws her head back and whips the potatoes. I can see her take charge of the kitchen, all of her 4’11” and 110 pounds. I can remember her reminding me that the knife and spoon go on the right. I can still feel her push the black olives on each of my fingers, as she smiled knowing I’d bite each one. I can see the pickled “baby corns” I knew she put on the relish try just for me. It’s all still there, each smell, look, laugh, and taste. This is my most fond memory of my little Granny.

 

 

I Do What I Wanna Do

KC-Real_estate

 

How many careers have I had? How many can you have in one lifetime? That’s how many I’ll have. Here’s the list so far:

Restaurant manager

Licensed cosmetologist

Retail sales manager

Doula (presently)

Medical office manager

Realtor (presently)

 

It’s the two I am actively working right now that I want to address. It’s amazing to me how many people have no idea what a doula is so I’ll give it a brief description to get started. You can also visit my website if you still aren’t sure after reading this blog.

A doula is a woman that provides emotional, educational, and physical support to a woman during her pregnancy and birth of her baby. Like I said, that’s the brief description. I use this definition purposely using the word woman and women because I personally have not worked with anyone that identifies otherwise and I am a woman.

I began this career about 13 years ago. The reasons I became a doula are not the same reasons I have remained a doula. The one thing that has been consistent is that I love helping and serving others. I enjoy working with families and helping them through what is one of the most exciting, nerve wracking, and memorable events of their entire lives. I love giving them what I can to make them happy. I love supporting them and helping them find exactly what they want and then achieving it. That’s why I am a doula.

I am never satisfied. I am never just okay with what I am. I need more. I need to constantly be reinventing myself. It’s not because I don’t know who I am or what I want, it’s because I know EXACTLY who I am and what I want. I know that I get bored easily, and that I love a challenge. I want the best and I want to be the best. I am a curious person always asking why or how and searching for the answers. I just can’t settle and that’s a good thing.

So why realtor? Isn’t it obvious? Okay maybe you need a little more than that. To me it makes perfect sense. I enjoy working with families and helping them through what is one of the most exciting, nerve wracking, and memorable events of their entire lives. I love giving them what I can to make them happy. I love supporting them and helping them find exactly what they want and then achieving it. That’s why I am a realtor. Sound familiar?

Being a doula and being a realtor are so much alike it’s almost unbelievable. Almost. Being a realtor also fulfills a passion I have for houses, homes, and buildings. Bob and I share this passion. When we vacation we’ll drive around and look at houses for sale, and then look them up on the internet to see pictures, discuss floor plans, neighborhoods etc. I love it! He gets into the architecture more but I want the stories, the history.

I also like the fast-paced sales, and exciting aspects of real estate. I’ve always loved helping customers find that perfect thing that their heart desires and then helping them get it! I thrive on the competitive nature of real estate. Who can buy it or sell it first? That’s what makes me a good agent. I want it as much as you do!

It’s also about learning something brand spanking new to me. To figure out every aspect, every nuance, everything it is to be a real estate agent. I want to know it all. That keeps me current on all the latest trends in housing. Not just in home design, but also the most relevant statistics for our area. I want to know it so I can help you buy or sell your property.

One last thing that excites me about real estate: I am working on a team that is about to make history. As part of Keller Williams Realty Partners Inc, I will be amongst the first agency to reach one Billion dollars in closed transactions in one year in the KC area. I like being on a winning team!