So This Is The Fun Side of Bipolar Disorder


There it is…the switch is flipped. The all-too-familiar buzz is back. I recognize it now, but I used to not know what it was. It starts out as a low tone and sort of quiet, just an underlying sound in the background of my thoughts. It’s also a feeling. It feels fast and under pressure pushing me ahead in my thoughts. The buzzing increases in volume over several days. It’s like a 1960s television has been switched on and the tubes are warming up slowly over many hours inside my head.

I am propelled by the static as it grows increasingly faster and the tone raises higher. I know what’s coming now. I’ve caught on. I’m excited to see where it brings me. What crazy adventure I’ll go on while it’s here. Sometimes it’s been a literal adventure going places I’ve never been, meeting new people- everyone is a friend, dancing all night, drinking all day and oh the crazy sexcapades. It’s been a real trip.

It’s also a ride in my brain. Thoughts go wild and fast, I can barely keep up. Amazing ideas and creativity, wild colors take shape and I wish I could paint…I mean well. I have painted. Painted posters, canvasses, rooms, walls, sidewalks, furniture- anything I could get my hands on. I have painted for hours only stopping to eat (barely) and pee. I have dreamt up projects and imagined my images in the Smithsonian on display “A Peek Inside the Mind of a Maniac”.

I’ve come up with schemes and plans; I’ve written them down on paper with an intensity that breaks pencils. Numbers are my favorite. I calculate all kinds of things. How many leaves are on a tree, how long it would take for the tree to lose all of its leaves if it lost x amount of leaves per day. How many minutes I would need to work to make a million dollars; if I worked 40,000 hours how much money would I make. The formulas go on and on. It all seems so important at the time. Nothing can break my concentration, I am a woman obsessed. Some of my obsessions have been craft projects. When my kids were little I made- as in dreamed up, drew the pattern, found scrap fabric sometimes from other clothes, cut out the pieces, sewed the costumes together for all 5 of them the week of Halloween on practically no sleep and very little food. I’ve obsessed about cooking. I’ve made pot pies- turkey and chicken- until I had so many my family couldn’t eat them all. I made dozens and it was all I cooked for those 2 weeks. I gave them away just so they didn’t go to waste.  I have an ongoing project of trying to find “the best of…” Whatever the product of my obsession is at the time. It’s been cinnamon rolls, black licorice, ginger ale, lip gloss…just in the past 3 years or so that I can remember.

I had a job once where I was a recruiter and I was really good at it. It took my entire focus. I had to get the numbers. My whole life revolved around this job, meeting every challenge and rising above my team mates. I was encouraged to keep going, to do more, to bring more. I was driven and did everything that was put before me with intensity and purpose that went well above the typical person that does good work and meets goals. I ultimately lost that job as I unraveled. No one saw the mental anguish I felt or the fact that I was locked inside my own mind. I couldn’t see it from the inside and from those on the outside I was being rewarded for my efforts. It was a devastating loss because from everything I could see and was being told I was doing everything right. I never saw it coming. It’s what happens to people with an invisible disease or mental illness. The assumption is that we are exhibiting behaviors because it benefits us somehow. The reality is absolutely the exact opposite- there is no benefit, it is actually detrimental to us, and our families and friends. Losing the job was maybe one of the best things to happen to me in retro site, it got me away from those that were encouraging my behavior and allowed me to listen to those that truly loved me and wanted to help me.

I get irritable and really cranky if anyone tries to break me away from my obsession. I scream and rage throwing things and running away. I’ve thrown dishes, laundry, trash, raw chicken, shoes, makeup…anything I am holding at the time my rage peaks. The static is at an all-time high in these moments. It’s all I can hear. I can’t even hear my own voice which makes me scream just to hear myself think. I only know I’m yelling because I have begun to recognize the feel of my throat and vocal cords or because Bob tells me I am yelling, otherwise I have no idea. The pitch is deafening, and the pressure makes my heart race. I feel like I am on an adrenaline high. I am easily frustrated by the speed at which someone talks if I think they talk too slow or their mind lags behind mine in their comprehension of what I’m saying. It infuriates me.

So, this last time I started to hear the buzz I didn’t know it until I was several days in. It was loud already. Looking back with a clear mind and the ability to be rational I know when I was at the peak of my trip. I was lying in my bed and I could hear voices talking in a room in my house. I thought maybe they were in the office, at the front of my house, down a flight of stairs, and through two closed doors. But I could hear them whispering and mummering. They were making plans and if I laid there as still and as quiet as I could I might be able to make out what they were saying. I tried to decide if they were dangerous or had bad intentions. But they just kept whispering and I could almost make out their words. I laid for hours listening to them whispering from all the way across the house and on the first floor while I was in bed on the second floor at the back of the house with two closed doors between us. I wasn’t scared. I decided they were having a meeting and didn’t want to wake me up but that in the morning they would tell me what they talked about.

My senses are on full speed. I notice the smoothness of the sheets except for the piece of fuzz under my foot that feels like a lump and keeps me awake. It makes my back hurt as I lay twisted to keep it off of my foot. I wonder if it will wrap around on of my toes cutting off the circulation? As I drive shapes turn into animals up ahead and jump out from the sides of the road. I jump and scream as the lion runs out of the bushes in front of my car, I veer off the side as he disappears again. Colors have never been so vibrant, and they have personality and meaning, I can feel them. I feel larger than life. Like I’m trying to fit into a really small cramped space. My thoughts are big and bold and fabulous and can’t be contained by my ordinary compact life. I can smell objects that others don’t know exist. I remember one time getting into a friend’s car and I was repulsed by the strong smell of mustard- I like mustard, but this was strong. I asked her why her car smelled like mustard, but she had no idea what I was talking about. I demanded she pull over because I was sure she had a napkin or food wrapper with mustard on it. She pulled over and the only thing I could find was an unopened mustard packet under the back seat. I threw it out.

I wish I could say that all of this was fun. Don’t get me wrong sometimes it is over-the-top fun and exciting. But other times it is a burden. I wish my mind would just slow down and that I could think before I reacted. That I wasn’t so susceptible to following the noise, the buzz, the static in my brain. Sometimes I wish I could just get a break from it. It would be nice to have more control to turn it on when I wanted it and off when I didn’t. But it’s not like that. It has control not the other way around. There are times when all of this is going on and I’m sad and depressed, sometimes tormented. The noise feels like panic and I go into survival mode. I can go to bed one day and not be able to face the next day. Thoughts of dread and hopelessness run rampant in my mind. My focus becomes thoughts and feelings of horror. I get amped up but not in a good way. I feel incredibly guilty and worthless especially when I realize I have hurt someone (but can’t necessarily stop either even when I try). I have been known to cry uncontrollably about whatever I am obsessing on.  When the pie dough is too dry, I have crumbled onto the floor, oddly symbolic, in complete despair and anguish feeling as though I have let everyone in my family down because my pie dough is inedible. I go to bed for hours or days crying but unable to sleep or escape my own mind.

That’s what happened this last time. I felt sad but was hearing the buzzing and could tell I was gearing up for another trip. I began drinking more, getting buzzed or drunk several nights a week. My senses were heightened, colors were brighter, but I was crying and not wanting to get out of bed. We had made a change in my meds and I had forgotten it. Bob noticed the change in my mood and asked how I was doing. I fell apart knowing that someone else saw what I felt. It was validating, and I was relieved that I wasn’t losing my mind- or I was but he caught it. I called and left a message for my doctor. He called in a prescription and I started taking it. I circumvented what could have been a completely disastrous episode. Within a week I felt incredibly better and by two weeks was back to my “normal”.

I tell this story because many of you that read my blog know me. You know I may be strange or weird in my own way, but I am harmless and for the most part just like you. That’s mental illness. That is exactly what it looks like. Most of the time we blend in. But know that just because everything looks okay from the outside doesn’t mean we are keeping it together on the inside. We aren’t just those in mental hospitals, although I have spent my time there. We have families and friends, we drive cars, we shop for groceries right beside you,  we hold down jobs. We hold ourselves to standards and we are morally sound. Mental illness is not what you see in movies. It’s me.

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


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.

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


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



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.



It Really Isn’t That Hard to Love Yourself


Learn To Love Yourself

Learn To Love Yourself


Do you love yourself? Do you know how to love yourself? Do you even know what that means?

I didn’t for a very long time. I could always come up with a reason to hate some part of me. From my physical self to my inner most thoughts and feelings, I hated me. It’s been quite a journey to get where I am now. I am far from perfect and continue to work at it every day.

As I began to realize that I didn’t even make my own top 10 list of people I love the most, things got ugly for a while, scary even. You may have been there too, or maybe you’re there now. Here are some things I learned on my journey to self-love that I work on each day:

  1. I am a work in progress. There is no finish line. All I have to do is keep working on being the best person I can be and that puts me in a better place.
  2. Learn to forgive yourself. You forgive your kids, your spouse, your roommate, your boss, and your co-workers…why can’t you forgive yourself?
  3. Admit when you are wrong. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not a weakness. Admitting when you have made a mistake allows you to move forward from it.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others. In our society at this time, this one is so difficult to do. Seeing other seemingly perfect people, hearing about their so-called perfect lives. Believe me, everyone has something they are trying to hide.
  5. Play to your strengths (hire out for everything else). This was a big one for me. I had to figure out what I do really well and forget everything else. I don’t have to be great at everything- I can’t. I’d rather be perfect at a few things than mediocre at a bunch of things.
  6. Spend more time developing and enjoying the relationships you have with other people. What else in this life do you have? Material possessions come and go, people are all that matter. Love on them, nurture them, and let them know how much they mean to you. Love them with everything you have! It will help you love yourself that intensely.
  7. Visit the ocean at least once in your life. It’s important to feel small, but to understand that even you, one person, can cause a ripple through the water.
  8. Stop saying “some day”. Make today the day. Some day will never come. Well, it will but you may be dead and long gone by then.
  9. Choose to be happy. I heard this saying from my mother growing up “You can get glad in the same pants you got mad in.” Basically, you can choose to be mad or happy, might as well choose happy. This saying later got shortened to just “get glad…” This is one of my favorites, thanks Mom!
  10. Be okay with being alone. How do you get to know the person or people you love? You spend quality time with them getting to know and understand them right? Do the same with yourself. Being around others 100% of the time is a distraction from your self-awareness and our self-love.
  11. Take care of you. Treat yourself like the other people you take care of. You are a nurturer by nature right? Don’t leave yourself off of the list of people to nurture.
  12. Dance in the rain. I believe in living life to it’s fullest. Push the limits so you can feel alive. Whether you dance in the rain, or jump out of a plane, say yes to your life!
  13. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh! We’re all human. Humans are very funny creatures! Laughing lightens the mood, and let’s others know you are real and relatable. Being able to laugh at yourself helps keep you authentic.
  14. Stop judging yourself. This starts with being more tolerant and accepting of others. Recognize that everyone is living on this planet it just trying to make it through the day. There is no black or white, wrong or right. We are each having a human experience. You are too.
  15. Do what makes you happy. You can’t make everyone happy, and you are the only person you have to live with.
  16. Say what you mean, but don’t be rude. Knowing what makes you happy, or what you won’t allow is so very important to self-love. Know your boundaries and stick to them. Be willing to speak up for yourself and not be taken advantage of, but do so in a way that doesn’t hurt or berate another person.
  17. Take pause and see the world around you. Breathe it in. Smell the smells, feel the wind, hear the sounds that bring your heart joy.




Time to Get Really Real About This Shit

Over the past few years I have been increasingly more unhappy with my weight and physical appearance. I don’t need any pep talks on how we’re all beautiful no matter our weight…yada yada or how my husband doesn’t care and loves me anyway. This isn’t about anyone else but me! I am not happy looking like I do. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror and I get angry about it. Which makes me want to eat a donut or two or six.

About 10 years ago I lost 35 pounds on Weight Watchers after the birth of my youngest. I became a Life Time member. I kept it off for a long time and like many women, especially in my age category, I slowly gained it back. Blah.

So I’m over my goal weight and have to pay to be in the program. So what, I’ll do it. I’ll pay to have to have a stranger record my weight and me record every bite, lick, and dip I take. I’ll try to remember to “get my water in”. I’ll do it if I can lose this fucking weight. I’ve yelled and screamed at the mirror and my size fours, sixes, eights, AND tens. It doesn’t help and I’m over it.

Did I tell you I hate to sweat and exercise too? Yep, hate it. It hurts, it sucks, and I have no clue as to what I should be doing. I’m embarrassed to be at the gym, too scared to ask anyone how to use the equipment (as if we all just grow up knowing how to work a military press…uh, I hope that’s a real thing…), disgusted at myself for getting to this point.

But I decided to join the YMCA and with the help of my friend and trainer I have managed to go to the gym for 2 weeks. This is HUGE! I was doing good if I made it 2 times before and I came to a realization that has helped me.

In the past I wanted to lose weight to get healthy. I wanted to work out to get healthy. While that is good and important it wasn’t enough. It didn’t drive me or motivate me. The results are too slow to notice much, and the reasons weren’t strong enough so I’d quit. But then I started to think about why I REALLY wanted to lose the weight and realized it is complete and total vanity. Yep, it’s all about ME!

I want to look good. I want to turn heads (and not because I have chocolate frosting on my face). I want my boobs high and my ass tight; I want my abs to be hard and rippled. I want to have the confidence I used to about my physical appearance. I am unapologetic about this realization. I’m taking it and running with it, literally. I may not ever get to where I want to be but if wanting it drives me to keep going then I’m all for it. I am accepting who I am. I am vain about my appearance. Get over it.

My Biggest Life Lessons Summed Up in 4-7 Minute Increments


Every year I go back to the place where I proudly break kids…into final rounds as a Forensics tournament judge. From the instant I walk through the door the frenetic energy is palpable and the chatter in the main commons of the building sounds like a million and seven crickets amped on adrenaline and caffeine and sugar cubes (don’t forget the sugar cubes).

Nervousness and excitement pull me in. I glance over and see my very first forensic and debate coach, Coats, as she’s known, and I flash back to what seems like an entire lifetime ago, how long exactly is irrelevant. Paola High School is my Alma Mater and my “Panther Pride” still swells as I walk back through the doors.

The halls smell a little like au gratin potatoes with a top of note of nervous sweat and hormones, particularly today. It’s not lovely.

What seems perfectly normal to me- the behavior of the contestants of this tournament- would probably be concerning to anyone else not familiar with what to expect. Thespians line the halls, mumbling, chanting, and some even yelling with gestures, pacing back and forth as they emote through the walls as if they are speaking to another person. All of this seems somewhat out of place amongst the typical lockers, drab walls, stained carpets and bulletin boards of the high school, but yet today, I wouldn’t expect anything else.

I love it here, today! It was through Forensics and Debate that I learned the most about who I am, my personal character, and exactly what I am capable of. Something about being thrown into a room with one other person whose sole purpose in that moment is to judge you makes you do one of two things, either you fall flat on your face, or rise to the occasion. Fortunately, I experienced both.

I figured out I had control over some things happening in that room. I could practice and prepare, I could learn the lines and develop the character, and I could use my voice to deliver a message or evoke an emotion. What I had no control over was if the person listening would appreciate how I had chosen to prepare the piece. I had one shot at it with that one judge.

Once I opened that door and entered, gave my introduction and headed into my first lines there was no turning back until I was done with my selection or time was up (sometimes I hoped for the latter). Confidence played an enormous part! I didn’t get a ton of confidence in high school like some kids do, but I got some. What I did get was a solid foundation of which I could build throughout my life.

I learned how to feel crazy scared, nervous, and want to run but how to stay in the moment and push myself to do it anyway. Learning to breathe, swallow hard, and to take that first step into the room is a skill I still have. I don’t necessarily still need it, but I had to learn it to get to where I am now. Recognizing that I survived the sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, and chose to stay and “fight” rather than take “flight” has made all the difference in my life.

Forensics in not like a team sport where you have all your team mates at your side, working together toward the win. Yes, a team in forensics scores collective points, but each individual is alone. Each member of the team must face their challenges individually and over come them on their own. Nothing prepares you for life’s obstacles more than learning how to trust and depend on yourself, and how to push through that fear and do it anyway! I may fall on my face, chances are I’ll rise to the occasion, but at least I got a chance to experience it and learn from it in 4-7 minute increments in forensics first before facing it in real life.