Mind Body Soul Reunion

First of all, I owe a THANK YOU to Glennon Doyle Melton for sharing her story which led me to find a piece of my own truth. Now, on to my story: On March 1, 2016, I was lying on a gurney, IV in my arm, preparing for a brain scan and other tests to confirm that I did/did not have a small stroke. The right side of my face was numb, I had blurry vision that came and went, I had positional vertigo, I was nauseous, my neck and back of my skull were throbbing and I just felt beyond exhausted. Well, I didn’t have a stroke. Thank God! But that was the start of several months of searching for answers. For 7 months, I went through theories of my symptoms. The vertigo subsided but every day I had neck pain, throbbing headaches from the back of my head, facial numbness/tingling and I was constantly nauseous, fighting exhaustion. I felt like I had constant morning sickness. Every. single. Day. I went to the eye doc to check for eye strain. I went to the dentist for jaw clenching. I went to the GI doc for reflux attacks and nausea. I went to the neurologist for the headaches. I had a brain MRI (result = “unremarkable”), I had blood tests, hormone tests, breath tests and all kinds of other tests. My hormones were...

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Dancing with Dogs

Yesterday I left for work half an hour early so that I’d have time to swing by the feed supply store and pick up 50 pounds of chicken feed. I wasn’t planning on doing this. I had my day all mapped out, as I like to do. When I plan my day out and know what to expect, my anxiety is lower. But I have kids. And kids, love them to the moon and back, are scatterbrained. So an hour before leaving for work, I heard, “Moooooooom! We’re out of chicken food!” “Out out? Or out, like we have enough to feed them later today but need some for tomorrow?” “Out out!” ….Sigh. Monday it was dog food. Saturday I hauled home three boxes of compost from work to split between the chickens and the tortoise. And Friday I thawed a dead rat for the snake. Yes, I have five pounds of dead rat in my chest freezer in the basement. Why do I do this to myself?? This morning I woke up with a head cold and dragged myself downstairs to make coffee and dig up a new box of tissues. It was chilly, I was cranky, and everyone else was still sleeping. But as soon as my feet hit the stairs, I acquired a shadow. Step, jingle, claw click, claw click. Step, jingle, claw click, claw click....

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Kindergarten is Hard

My youngest daughter started kindergarten this fall and it has not been easy. I’m not sure if it has been more difficult for her or for me but, regardless, September was filled with tears. Last spring I wrote a bit about why we weren’t ready for kindergarten.  My youngest daughter radiates pure joy and happiness most days and I was concerned that the stress and pressure of school would have a negative impact on her carefree personality. By the second week of school I was afraid my predictions were correct. It began subtly enough. When asked how her day...

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You don’t know the half of the abuse

We all have songs that speak to us for different reasons. Lately, the song Heathens by Twenty One Pilots has been hitting a sensitive part of my soul. The song isn’t even necessarily about my situation, it was written for the movie Suicide Squad (which I haven’t even seen). Yet, several lyrics in the song speak to my experience. For almost 10 years I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. I basically told no one just how bad it was at home. I walked on eggshells all the time. I never knew which version of my ex I was going to get, minute by minute. Would he be nice or would he be grumpy and take it out on me? Over time, and mostly after ending our marriage, I was able to see him for truly who he is — a narcissistic who is a professional at gaslighting (manipulating someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity). Outside the home people view me as loving, compassionate, caring, hard working and generally as a good person. But at home I was belittled, my accomplishments were never even discussed because he couldn’t care less about them and I struggled to understand how his perception of me could be so completely different than anyone else’s in my life, ever. The things he would say about me…I just couldn’t grasp how he could...

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Guest Blog: Minding City-Born and Bred Grandkids

By Teri Michaud, mom of Shawna Kitzman I am a better country mouse than city mouse, but what I am really good at is being a suburbanite.  This is especially true in my role of grandmother.  I love taking care of any or all of my four grandchildren, but I mostly want to do it at my house.  When the kids are sleeping or playing, I can check my emails, cook dinner, reupholster a chair.  Edie once asked me why I like to cook at my house, and I said I know where my pots and pans are.  She told me they had those, too, and she could help me find them. Recently Gary and I went to Brooklyn, New York, for two events.  One, we would be watching Colette and Julien while Ashley and Jeff went to a wedding in Manhattan.  She was surprising him with an overnight stay in a swanky hotel. Second event, they had bought us tickets to the Broadway musical “Beautiful”, for watching their kids when then went to Ireland last summer.  We got to their apartment a tiny bit late—very typical of us.  Ashley was scrambling to get out the door for a hair appointment and Jeff had a distance run scheduled.  We knew in advance that we were taking the kids to a birthday party in the park.  Jeff had the diaper...

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How Game of Thrones Saved My Marriage

It’s my turn! She got more than me! That’s not FAIR! These phrases are pretty commonplace in any household with children. But they can also sometimes rattle around in my own brain. It’s no secret to me (and my husband) that when I am not at my best I sometimes tend to keep score. As I clean up from dinner, I stalk around passive aggressively while my husband works on the computer. I imagine him pretending to work while actually surfing Facebook. It’s not that I don’t trust him, it’s just that I might do that myself if given the chance. I think there can be ups and downs in any relationship. When it comes down to it, our marriage is solid. But sometimes you lose that connection, if even just for a week or so. It’s very hard to explain, but I think we can both just feel it. You’re each going your own way, consumed by work or even a good book. A week goes by where we’re not going to bed at the same time. We take turns being out for late meetings. I have book club. He goes to the gym. Like ships passing in the night. When we are together, we’re busy with the business of living, working and running a household. I’m making lunches and he’s bathing the kids. I’m cleaning up from...

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The holiday panicking has officially begun.

I realized the other day that this week, it will officially become mid-October. How did that happen?! I only vaguely remember the month of September even occurring. October is my favorite month of the whole year, so I certainly want to enjoy it, but a small, nagging voice in my head is telling me that the holidays aren’t far off. I love getting ready for Thanksgiving, but the weeks after until Christmas arrives seriously stress me out. This year, being my first year back in a very full-time teaching gig (where, by the way, I have 485 students…) I want to be...

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October 8th is about ME

October 8th is all about ME. On October 8th I run my very first half marathon. Over the last few months, my friend and I have spent many hours running. We ran together, and I have run alone. I have: Ran. Sweat. Cried. Complained. Supported. Listened. Bitched. Given up. Motivated. Been motivated. Gotten hurt. Self-doubted. Seen dead animals. Hated my body. Loved my body. Lost weight. Built muscle. Pushed a double stroller. Shared many laughs with my boys. Been motivated by my boys. Been mad at my boys. Ran one mile. Ran 10 miles. In the middle of it...

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My Cats Have Super Powers

Having 5 young children, there are certain things I hear all the time. If I had a nickel for every time someone said “You’ve got your hands full!” I would retire at the ripe old age of 32. Another one that is surprisingly frequent, “When are you getting the kids a dog?” I try not to laugh and remind them that I have 5 children…. I grew up with Black Labs, so the joy and companionship of a family dog is not lost on me, but we also had cats. Besides the fact that there is no room at the inn, my husband and I are cat people. Even before starting our family we always knew we wanted two kittens someday. These would be our family pets that the kids grew up with. Looking back, the plan to get cats was half-baked –  it was focused on fun and responsibility. The obvious fun little kittens would bring to the household. Why not?! The built-in opportunity for chores and teaching children about responsibilities. Perfect. Then about a year ago, a series of events landed two 4-month old kittens in our home. Luke and Leia (I know, #nerdalert). WORKING PARENT TIP: If you’re looking for a family pet or pets, cats are extremely low maintenance. I was initially worried about adding to my plate, but they are easy and inexpensive to...

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What’s in a Name?

In the first year of our marriage, my husband and I were tasked with picking the perfect name for our unborn son.  It is a surprisingly big undertaking, choosing a moniker that is going to identify someone his entire life.  After plenty of daydreaming and suggestions, we found a name that we both loved:  Theodore.  A bit old fashioned and not at all common in these parts.  Ready made for an adorable nickname.  We thought we were all set. At a point in time where my mother’s words still had the possibility of affecting me, she asked me if we had chosen a name and I made the mistake of sharing it with her.  She made it clear that she hated the name.  We ultimately picked a new name and kept it to ourselves. Had we just waited, and introduced little Theo in his teeny newborn clothes, I cannot imagine anyone would have voiced an issue with our choice. (The exception is always my daughter.  On many occasions, she has made it clear that we chose wrong for her, as she should have been named EllaRoseFlower). Toward the end of the years when my mother was living semi-independently (i.e., only through the kindness and patience of family and a close friend), her warping mind determined she no longer wanted to be known by her married name.  She kept the...

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