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Wear The Purple Polish

The following was recently sent to me by a friend.  I was originally going to use it as a jumping off point for a blog post, until I realized it IS a blog post, all on its own.  We all have our purple nail polish stories.  Or at least I know I do.  Multiple stories in fact.  As an adult, I’m currently trying to wear all the metaphorical purple nail polish that I can, and to shed all those old negative ideas and beliefs and stories that were never even mine to begin with.  And as a parent?  I’m currently trying – with all I’ve got – NOT to be the reason that my children avoid wearing… or trying or thinking or experiencing… anything, based on my own personal biases.  I want them to wear their purple nail polish.  If they so desire, I want them to wear ALL the nail polish. 

I’ve decided to wear purple nail polish as often as possible and I’ll tell you why.

Because one time when I was 13 or so, I wore purple nail polish. Around this same color but minus the glitter. Anyway, my grandma and cousin made a really UNUSUALLY big deal about how ugly it was and it hurt my feelings. 

So a few days ago we were at the store and my daughter asked for this purple nail polish. My gut reaction was to say no because purple nail polish = bad in the ol’ subconscious. Then I realized what my brain was doing and I was like, “You know what? F*** ALL Y’ALL.”

And that’s how something you say to a 13 year old kid can stick around until they’re 36+.
Do the thing. Whether it’s nail polish, or a nose piercing, or writing that novel, or singing that song, or taking that trip, or wearing those damn pants that you love that your mom said made your hips look big.

Do the thing.

“You aren’t scared to do the thing, you are scared to let go of your old story.” ~ from Kyle Cease


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The Death of a Friendship

I recently lost a close friend.  Not the casual kind of close friend, but one part of a whole family of close friends.  The kind where you travel thousands of miles to see them, spend entire weeks together, sleep at each other’s houses, trust them with your child.

To be clear, no one has died.  As far as I’m aware, my friend is still happy and healthy and out there living her best life.  It’s just that I’m no longer a part of it.

And that requires its own kind of mourning.

I have hesitated to write about this for months now.  It’s never my intention to gossip, or create drama, or indirectly ask anyone to take sides.  Plus, so much of it is just not my story to tell.  My son lost friendships over this too;  important ones.  Friends who were once as close as brothers literally just stopped talking to him and stopped being his friends, for reasons that he was never made privy to.

What I realized though, is that no matter the specific circumstances (and I’ll share just a few, for context) the feeling of mourning is universal, and it’s always worth talking about.  It’s a lucky person indeed that has never seen a friendship end.

The simplest way I can sum up what happened is to just say that something was handled very, very poorly in a way that was hurtful and disrespectful to us and to our child.  It was obviously bigger than anything that I could respectfully talk about in a blog post, but it began with a conversation.  A conversation that should have happened in person, involving adults, that was instead carried out in an email from their kids to ours.  As a result, our child was forced (due to his own desire to want to protect us, as his parents) to carry something painful, alone, that he never, ever should have had to carry.  When it all finally came to light – after many many opportunities for them to bring us into the loop, which they never took advantage of – we emailed our friends, and they took no responsibility or admitted any culpability.  Instead we were called liars, presented with a whole lot of dodging and double-talk, and given a very oddly specific set of conditions to follow if we wanted to make amends:

1) We had to call them (specifically, we had to call my friend’s husband. For some reason, I was not welcome to talk to her directly… just given her husband’s number again and again)  This could only be discussed on the phone, they told us, as they would not read or respond to any more emails about the matter.  Which is ironic given that the whole thing  – that ABSOLUTELY should have been handled in person – had started with … an EMAIL!  Ordinarily I appreciate irony.  This time, not so much.

2) We were given a literal time frame for reconciliation.  We had to call between these days and these hours, or our time would be up and they’d assume we no longer wanted to talk about it.

And 3)  We had to preemptively agree to listen to “every word, or none at all,” if we wanted to know the truth of the situation.

The whole thing was bizarre and insulting and not the words of people who actually had any desire to make things right.

Would it have been possible to salvage the friendship if a million little decisions along the way had been different?  Maybe.  Possibly.  If they hadn’t treated our child poorly.

I’ll never know.

I had a moment of weakness (or possibly, hope?) a month or so ago, and emailed my friend – which was, of course, breaking their rules – to basically say, “hey I miss you and I’m sad that this happened.”  I was rewarded with a big “F you” couched in a condescendingly polite single sentence followed by a smiley face.  I still can’t decide if she wanted me to hear her thinly veiled message or if she literally thinks I’m so obtuse I wouldn’t notice.  Either way, I was looking for closure, and I got it.  There would be no reconciliation.

As it turns out, the saying is true:

You can’t shake hands with a fist.

And I mean, it happens.  It’s hurtful, but it happens.  And now that I’ve been assured that there is no hope for rapprochement, there is literally nothing left to do but forgive and move on.

Have you ever seen the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?  It’s one of my favorite movies.  It deals with a company that provides a not-yet-in-existence service of erasing memories.  People sign up for this service after a painful breakup of some sort, and their brains are essentially mapped and scrubbed and all traces of this former relationship are gone.  How nice that would be!

Grieving a lost relationship is painful.  It’s messy.  To use a more official-sounding, technical word, it’s…. icky.  Especially with all the memories, and all the reminders.  And there are so. many. reminders!  There are photos.  Little gifts that have been exchanged over the years.  Notes and cards sent in the mail.  Piercings we got together.  A giant, six hour tattoo in which she sat by my side, and kept me distracted, and handed me lollipop after lollipop.  Oh and Facebook?  I’m pretty sure Facebook is just one big conspiracy to cause misery.  The sheer volume of “On This Day” memories it’s bombarded me with over the past several months has been overwhelming.  Happy, smiling faces.  Our boys, thrilled at being reunited after a long absence.  Statuses about hikes and smoothies and coffee shops.  Birthday celebrations. Margaritas raised in toast.  Friendship, and all its trappings.

The memories hurt.

The thing is though, just like they come to realize in the movie, we don’t really want the memories erased.  As painful as they are in the beginning, eventually they’re just … memories.  In time, those past moments can be appreciated for what they were:  happy memories, of a reality that for a million and one possible reasons, just doesn’t exist anymore.

I’m not there yet.  I so wish I was, but I’m not.

Right now, it’s as though it just happened.  Right now, it’s still raw.  So as it is with anything I hope to eventually accept, I’m trying to give myself time, and grace, and just let myself feel whatever it is I’m going to feel… with no judgement, and no trying to make sense of something that just doesn’t make sense.   Because it doesn’t make sense.  Broken relationships do so seldom make sense.  And writing these words in no way changes that fact.  Writing these words in no way heals the fracture … but they do serve as a step, which is why I so sorely needed to write them.

This is not the first time me or my child has been hurt, and it surely won’t be the last.  We’ll rally. We will.

Still, there’s a part of me… that broken, jaded part, that wants to yell,

“SEE?  THIS!  This is why I don’t trust people!!”  This was a big deal.  It wasn’t like losing a favorite pen.

Deep down though (deep, deep, deep down), I know that refusing to trust again is not the answer.  It’s just not.  Anyone who’s never been hurt (whether by friendship, or love, or anything really) has never taken a risk.  And it’s in the middle of that risk that all the good stuff happens.  Without taking a risk, there would have been no marriage – and by extension no kids – there would be no friendships, there would be no growth, there would be no… well, you get the idea.  I took a risk and I got hurt, but there really are so many good memories there that I know (I hope?) I’ll one day look back on in fondness.

Until then,

I’ll wait.

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I’m officially on Patreon!

Do you ever internally struggle with something so much that you start to make yourself crazy?  That’s how I’ve always felt, since day one, about monetizing my blog.  On the one hand was the voice saying, “You’d be selling out.  You don’t write to make money.  You write to spread information.  You write for the love of it.  You can’t ask these devoted people for money.”  On the other was the voice saying, “What on earth is wrong with getting financially compensated for something that you’ve worked really hard at?  Something that provides a value to other people?  Something that requires a whoooole lot of time, and energy, and blood, sweat and tears?”

These two voices have been at war for a very long time now.  I am extremely uncomfortable asking for money – from anyone, at any time, for any reason.  If you have any doubts about the veracity of that statement, ask me about my pitiful track record trying to sell an embarrassingly high number of different MLM products.

Like a lot of bloggers, I’ve (somewhat reluctantly and very half-heartedly) tried things like Google ads, affililiate sales, etc, which brought in a few dollars here and there.  But they never felt right.  And at the urging of a trusted mentor, I put up a virtual “tip jar” for a time too.  That felt funny too, but at least it felt a little more genuine, and a lot more personal than waiting for the couple of cents I’d get when a random stranger decided to click on a Google banner.  Several people were generous enough to donate (thank you!!), but it didn’t take long for me to realize it was an extremely limited method, as well as uncomfortably one-sided.  While it gave you an opportunity to say, “Hey I appreciate your work; thank you,” it provided no method for me to thank you in kind for the support.

When I first heard of Patreon, which was only fairly recently, and of course well after my kids knew about it (“What do you mean?  Of course we know what Patreon is.”),  I was intrigued.  It seemed to answer all of my problems.  It’s a platform that operates separately from my blog (ie: nothing about my blog will change), it gives people who wish to support my work financially an easy way to do so, AND it gives me a way to give back to those supporters by providing them with little perks and extras, much like a Kickstarter or other crowd-sourced campaign.

Patreon works on a monthly basis.  Should you choose to join the community and contribute, you’d make a recurring monthly payment of anything from $1/month up to $25 or beyond, and anything in between.  In exchange for your generosity, I’d thank you with content just for you over at Patreon such as written posts, videos, or behind the scenes looks at what I’m working on next.  Depending on your donation tier, you can also make requests for upcoming blog posts, and have access to an exclusive email for one-on-one parenting and/or unschooling support.  It allows you to be a part of the process in a way that you’ve never been before, it allows me to give you extra little perks for your trouble, and it allows me to keep my internet bill paid on time so I can keep sharing those blog posts.  🙂

So what’s going to be changing about my blog?

NOTHING.  That’s the beauty of it!   It’s not going to be covered with ads, and there aren’t going to be any annoying pop-ups asking you to join stuff.  My blog has always been free, and will continue to be free.  I’m not taking any content down, and I’m not making anything off-limits.    If anything, I will be posting even more often, as I am finally (after ten reeaally long months) feeling like my old self and ready to fully dive back in.  You are welcome to read, share, and comment – as always – without donating a penny.  And you will be loved and appreciated for doing so – as always.  🙂

If you appreciate what I do & want to join me in this endeavor, you can hop on over to my Patreon page for all the details (including a dorky welcome video from yours truly)  No matter what you decide, the support, the views, the comments, and the shares over the past 12 years have meant the world to me.

In case I don’t tell you often enough:  You guys are truly the best, and I so appreciate each and every one of you. xo

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The Problem With Kids These Days

It never fails.

I post something against spanking – or against punishment in general – and within the first couple of comments is the first of many arguments that sounds something like this:

“That’s the problem with kids today!  No one disciplines anymore!  That’s why this generation of kids are such entitled brats.”  Without asking any questions, without getting any clarification, without having any sort of discussion.  Every time.  Every time.  Sometimes the retort is complete with F words, and often it’s accompanied with words like “liberal” (or its ugly, derogatory derivative), or “snowflake.”  Sometimes people point to the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.  Someone inevitably brings religion – or the lack thereof – into the mix.  But no matter what variation it takes, the message is still clear in its lament:

These damn kids these days!  And their damn parents who don’t DISCIPLINE them!

I’d be downright bored with its predictably if it wasn’t so frustrating.

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First, let’s be clear.  When people say “discipline” in this context, they don’t actually mean “discipline” (which means to teach).  They mean spanking.  Spanking and discipline are not synonymous.  But let’s just say for the sake of argument that they’re the same thing.

So fine: no one spanks anymore, and therefore we have whole generation of mostly entitled, spoiled, disrespectful brats.

Please hear me when I say this:  The above statement is false.  Untrue.  Erroneous.  Fallacious.  It starts with a completely flawed premise.  The majority of parents do (unfortunately) still admit to spanking.  Hard numbers are obviously hard to come by, but many articles and studies, including this one, cite it as high as 70 to 90%.

70 to 90%!

Most parents still spank.  So if kids these days really are extra entitled or spoiled, you’re gonna have to blame it on something other than a lack of spanking.   And that’s not just me spouting stuff.  It’s fact.  Simple math. The argument is invalid.

The question remains though:  Is this generation exceptionally spoiled? Entitled?  Disrespectful?  I’m going to let Alfie Kohn answer that, because he addresses the issue so thoroughly and eloquently:

That’s why no generation of teens and young adults has ever been as self-centered as this one. Take it from journalist Peter Wyden, the cover of whose book on the subject depicts a child lounging on a divan eating grapes while Mom fans him and Dad holds an umbrella to protect him from the sun: It’s become “tougher and tougher to say ‘no’ [to children] and make it stick,” he insists.

and

Or listen to the lament of a parent who blames progressive child development experts for the fact that her kids now seem to believe “they have priority over everything and everybody.”

and

Or consider a pointed polemic published in The Atlantic. Sure, the author concedes, kids have always been pleasure seekers, but longtime teachers report that what we’re currently witnessing “is different from anything we have ever seen in the young before.” Parents teach “nothing wholeheartedly” and things come so easily to children nowadays that they fail to develop any self-discipline. Forget about traditional values: Today, it’s just a “culte du moi.”

Pretty telling, right?  He concludes with this:

Powerful stuff. Except now that I think about it, those three indictments may not offer the best argument against today’s parents and their offspring. That’s because they were published in 1962, 1944, and 1911, respectively.  (~all quotes take from his article, Spoiled Rotten – A Timeless Complaint.)

People have been lamenting “kids these days” since forever.  This is not something new.  This indictment of the current generation of kids and young adults is no different than the one that occurred when I was a kid… and when my parents were kids… and when my parents’ parents were kids…

People just historically like to blame kids (and by extension, those kids’ terrible parents) for all of society’s ills.

But you know what?  I don’t buy it.  I don’t.  I see this generation of kids and young adults and I see kids who are smart and creative and selfless.  I see kids who put others’ needs before their own.  Kids who care about their peers, about their families, about the issues facing the people and the world around them.  I see kids who are strong.  Resilient.  Confident.  I see kids who are quite literally changing the world with their ingenuity and with their enthusiasm.

I see kids and I hold them in high regard…. not for who they’ll potentially be in the future, but for who they are right now.

There’s nothing wrong with today’s kids.  In fact, the real problem with kids today?  Adults.  Adults who pre-judge them based on their own biases, and never even give them a chance.


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Someone Told Me

Someone told me that I wasn’t good enough

Not smart enough

Not strong enough

Not pretty enough

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough and I listened

Someone told me that I was less than

That even my very very best would never be worthy of praise

That just my mere existence was a disappointment

That I’d never measure up

That I’d never reach my full potential

A potential decided not by me, but by someone else

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough and I took it as gospel

Indelible words written on a young impressionable soul

Letters burnt into deep deep grooves, like the scars left behind on a wood-working project from shop class

A class I could never pay attention to because I was too distracted

Too distracted thinking of other things

Of daydreams

Of the future

Of all the things I’d never do because I wasn’t good enough

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough and I started to believe it

Tiny pieces of my being breaking off and drifting away

Until there was so very little left

Nothing but a broken shell

A broken shell that felt worthless

But less than worthless because you have to care to feel worthless

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough and what was left inside of me died

Safe from the hurt

Safe from the anger

Safe from disappointing just one more person ONE MORE TIME

It had consumed me

Swallowed me whole

My whole existence enveloped in the empty abyss of self-hatred

But someone was born in that abyss

She was timid at first

She’s still timid

Nothing more than a whisper

Tentative, testing words of someone changing the voices

Changing the narrative

Slowly, painfully… so very very painfully

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough, but who are they to decide?

Who are they to write my story?

Who are they to say what is and is not worthy?

Or strong?

Or beautiful?

Or smart?

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough, and I heard it, but I no longer listened

Empty, hollow words, echoing off the chambers of my healing heart

Bruised but not broken

Scarred but not bleeding

And the wind from the unkind words carry life

Life to the timid and fragile new voice

A voice that isn’t quite there yet, but that gets stronger every day

Stronger

Bolder

More confident

Someone told me that I wasn’t enough, and she stood up

The girl with the new voice

The one who no longer lived for anyone’s expectations but her own

And she shook

Oh dear Lord did she shake

And even as she shook she knew

She need only say the words and the feelings would come

She need only say the words and they’d smooth a multitude of hurts

Of scars

Of pain

I.  AM.  ENOUGH.

And I’ve been enough all along

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Real Ways To Help When Your Loved One Has Depression Or Anxiety – 46 People Weigh In

 

When I’m in the midst of a deep depression, or grappling with a bout of anxiety – both of which often come together – very few external things help me.  I never want someone to try to help me fix it (I have a therapist for that), and it’s extremely rare that I want to talk about it, if I even can talk about it (I have a therapist for that, too). More often than not, even the best of intentions and attempts to make me feel better only serve to make me feel worse.  I feel like it’s important to clarify that I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and I don’t mean to lay blame.  I blame nothing other than ignorance, inexperience, and a stigma surrounding mental health that means it’s not talked about nearly as often, or as openly, as it should be.   How could anyone possibly know what to do – and what not to do – if no one’s ever told them?  The irony of course is that the times I need support the most are the times when I’m least able to articulate, or even identify for myself, what may or may not be helpful.  When I’m depressed, I’m not rational.  I’m never “with it.”  I’m not always nice.

Still, there *are* a few things that help, none more than simply being there.  Not trying to fix, not judging.  Just seeing me, and loving me, right where I’m at.  When I asked my readers to share their own experience on my Facebook page, the response was overwhelming in its solidarity.  People with depression and anxiety just want to know they are loved.  While that might look slightly different for everyone, the sentiment remains the same.  Far and away the most common response was some version of, “Just be there.  Just love me.”

A selection of those responses, plus several others, are what follow.  A few times the responses directly contradicted one another, which I loved (we’re humans, not robots).  I tried to group those together.    I added a bit of commentary a couple of times, but mostly let them stand on their own.

Listen – and really hear – what helps these brave individuals when they are struggling:

“Just listening and not trying to fix things.  I usually just need a sounding board, not answers.” ~ Kelsey S

Validation helps, not necessarily trying to find you a solution.” ~ Ladasha M

“When they reach out and just offer support or when they let me just “be” until I’m ready to talk.  It’s super helpful when they don’t try to “fix” things.  I think that helps me more than anything.  Just to know that they are there for me and don’t see me as broken and unuseful.”  ~ Laura L

“Letting me talk about it without offering an “answer.”” ~ Valerie S

“The most helpful thing is when a friend/loved one just sits next to me (literally or metaphorically) and says “I’m here”. No false promises that things will get better soon, no attempts to cheer me up, just sitting with me and letting me feel what I need to feel” ~ Chelsea S

“The most helpful for me is for my friends/family to just be there.” ~ Katie C

“”I’m here if you need me”. You have to truly mean it, because you might get a call in the middle of the night.”  ~ Alisha T

“Nothing they really say helps because when I am in deep, I can turn anything into a negative.  Just being there, never giving up on me, and loving me helps.” ~ Ashley A

“Just being listened to.  Having someone just witness my experience.  Believing my experience is real and not just “in my head.”  ~ Patty M

“”I’m here if you need to talk.”” ~ Jay T

“Giving me some space to just be with how I’m feeling, and letting me know they’re there when I’m ready to talk.”  ~ Jessica M

“Just simply saying they are here for me but also reminding me that I’m strong and brave.” ~ Kellie M

“Empathy:  ‘That sounds really hard.  Do you want to talk about it?'” ~  Catherine D

“It’s not anything said; it’s simply being near me. Even if the company is silent, having somebody sit with me and be willing to listen, watch a movie, or just exist for a moment makes me feel supported, more supported than any words.” ~ Reggie R

“I have anxiety and panic attacks so it’s very helpful if my family can remind me when I have a panic attack that I’m okay and that I only have to get through the next few minutes.  Asking why or what I’m upset about or trying to “fix” it does not help.  Also, being understanding when I need to leave the room to have a few minutes to breathe and let the anxiety wash over me.” ~ Ursula D

“Mostly just NOT saying, “What’s wrong?”  There doesn’t have to be anything wrong, and there usually isn’t.  Expecting me to be able to give some reason makes me feel guilty, like I have no business feeling awful when everything is going well in my life.” ~ Elizabeth S

“Being a compassionate, non-judgemental ear helps me a lot.  Being able to talk it out or cry it out works for me.”  ~ Michelle J

“Believing me.  No second guessing, no hedging.”  ~ Julia J

“The best thing ever was when I was having a bad day and I felt like I was causing so many problems for my husband. I was crying and promising him I would try harder to change. It was such a relief when he told me that I didn’t need to change, that I was fine just the way I was, and we just needed to find ways to cope. I had never felt so accepted and loved and it helped give me a solid base from which to blossom.” ~ Alicia R

A lot of people pointed to physical affection, along with physical presence:

“For me what is most helpful is when a friend is there for me letting me know they are there to listen.  When they make time to just come over and be present.  When they try to get me out of the house and out of my own head.  Another big one for me is a hug.  Hugs really help me.”  ~ Tamarah C

“Holding me tightly until the storm passes- that feeling of someone seeing you at your ugliest and not running away, not trying to make it better either.” ~ Crystal M

“It’s not so much what my loved ones say, it’s what they do (and don’t do). My partner gives me massages. He does my head, neck, back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Tension melts away. My family all knows the special treats I like, so they’ll bring me truffles or a bottle of sparkling cider or spicy hot V8 or chile rellenos from my favorite restaurant. Then they leave me alone. They don’t try to talk to me unless it’s essential. They know I’ll eventually be okay, and time alone to sleep or read or snuggle my cats helps immensely.” ~ Jenny R

“”Are you having a hard day?  Do you need a hug?””  ~ Naomi R

“Hugs. And not all hugs are created equal.   Also, encouraging me to take a break, because I get stuck in the “I need to finish this,” mindset and have trouble seeing the solution.”  ~ Rob T

“It depends on how close I am to the person.  With my house humans, I definitely like hugs, back rubs, and someone just sitting quietly with me.  Hugs from acquaintances… nope.  A sincere compliment from anyone goes a long way, though.”  ~ Joan C

For some of us, tangible, practical help with the necessities of life goes a long way:

“Cleaning or cooking. Taking over administrative household things would be a tremendous help.” ~ Renee M

“When someone notices I’m down or very anxious and instead of asking me what’s wrong they simply do something kind.  Another question to ask instead of “what’s wrong” is “What can I do for you?” Or “What do you need right now?”  I don’t really get asked these but wish I do more often as they are the most helpful words at the time.” ~ Rebecca B

“Taking something off my plate or doing something kind for me helps a lot.” ~ V Sue H

“What can I do to help out?  What can I take off your plate for you?  What would make you feel better that I could do for you.  Feeling overburdened (by my own rules and expectations, mostly) was a huge part of my depression and anxiety.” ~ Sue S

“When they ask me what they can do to help.  That’s the best help.  Instead of assuming what I need, it’s nice for them to ask.” ~ Stephanie J

“Dear Lord, not the open ended, “How can I help?”  That question is so overwhelming to me when I’m depressed.  “Can I do X for you?” is much more helpful.  Trust me, if an alternative is better, I’ll let you know.”  Mariellen M.  I could really relate to this, and it took me a long time to realize it.  I’d often just wonder what the heck is wrong with me.  (That’s something I wonder a lot, especially when I’m depressed.)  Here I have this well-meaning, loving friend who wants to help me, and the offer only makes me more frustrated.  It’s not because I don’t appreciate it, and it’s (usually) not that I don’t want help.  It’s that I DON’T KNOW what kind of help I need.  The question feels overwhelming and impossible to answer.  A specific offer would be much easier to respond to.  I still might decline it!, but it’s far more likely to help.

“I would say whatever they think would help me out, just do it.  When I’m overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, someone asking me a question is incredibly stressful.  But if they just go ahead and hug me, call me, clean something, etc, it’s definitely appreciated.” ~ Issa W

“Can I bring you a cup of soup or a Coke?  Or can I watch the kids for you for an hour or two?  Just these simple things remind me that I can get through the darkness and I am not alone.” ~ Jennifer E

“Would you like to have a cup of tea with me?”  It just helps to fill the empty hours more pleasantly.”  ~ Margaret B

“Basically treat me like I have stomach flu!  I’m sick at the moment, let me act like it, and treat me like it.  Tuck me in and bring me tea.  The show of understanding and love will give me the strength to rise up.” ~ Seana R

“Not trying to whisk me away to my bedroom for alone time, and then taking over all the household things with the family. That would be helpful. I like knowing I can be present and included even if I am depressed. I don’t need to be quarantined.”  ~ Shelly C

And sometimes, what we need is a little bit of gentle pressure from the right person:

“Want to take a walk?  No?  I’d like to take you for a walk.  I know it helps.”  ~ Heather Y

“”Have you taken a shower today?  Text me after you get out of the shower.”” ~ Roya D.  Self care, even something as seemingly simple as a shower, can be incredibly hard when you’re depressed.  Gentle encouragement from a trusted friend can go a long way.

“Make me food.  Offer to get me out of the house.  Gently ask if I’ve showered/eaten something/taken my medication/stepped outside.” ~ Idzie D

“My husband helps me by giving me alone time or encouraging me to go to yoga.  I often give up yoga when I’m overwhelmed, and it’s one of the things that helps me the most.  He also gently helps me get to bed, as sleep always helps.  He just kind of takes over and says, “Why don’t you get in bed and I”ll put the kids to bed.”  No judgement.” ~ Audrey B

One of the biggest reasons that I continue to write about this is that it has helped me SO MUCH to hear from others who get it.  Commiseration from someone who’s been there is a powerful thing, and I’m not alone in that belief:

“When I went through a four-year struggle with depression and anxiety, what helped me the most was 1) knowing other people had been there.  I loved it when people were willing to share their experiences. 2) Learning to seize the day.  That is, I had to learn to live life to the fullest.  I had to learn to do things I enjoy.” ~ Kandy C

“Personally, hearing someone say, “I’ve struggled with that too” has helped me the most. That hardly EVER comes from my spouse or family.  It has to come from someone outside my current situation like a close friend.”  ~ Mandi P

Depression is an incredibly isolating illness.  It’s about us, and no one else, so it’s important not to take it personally.  Here are just a couple of examples:

“Not take it personally and keep getting angry because I won’t say what exactly is wrong.  Most of the time I don’t even know what’s wrong, but everyone is so quick to think I’m upset with them” ~ Kelly J

“Don’t take it personally when I cancel plans to go out at the last minute”. ~ Jenica M

One of the things that helped me a lot when I first started talking about this was simple honesty.

“”I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just glad you told me.”” ~ Jessika B

And finally, when all else fails, there is this:

“Saying that no matter what, you love me.” ~ Rebecca R

46 different people in different places, with different struggles, and different stories.  But one common plea that unites us all:

Just be there.

Hear us.

See us.

Love us.

xo

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Today, I’m Sad

It’s not quite raining, but the sky is dark and the air is heavy with the dampness that comes right before the clouds open up.  It’s not exactly morning anymore, but it’s not quite noon, which absolutely qualifies as far as I’m concerned.  Three of the four kids are sleeping, and the only sound I hear is the clicking of my laptop keys.  I’m drinking industrial strength coffee – one cup of regular coffee, three shots of espresso.  It just felt right today – and I’m eating a snickerdoodle fresh from the oven, made at the extraordinarily talented hands of my 12 year old.

And I’m completely, and profoundly, sad.

I am not watching the inauguration, and I am doing my best to stay away from Facebook, but it’s still out there.  It’s still real.  It’s still happening, whether I’m okay with it or not.

And I’m sad.

I’m sad for my fellow women, for our immigrants, for people of color, for people of the LGBTQ community, for people who are poor, for people who are differently abled.

I’m sad for the people who have legitimate concerns about the future of their healthcare and of their access to needed medications and procedures.

I’m sad for the people who worry about the future of the legality of their marriage.

I’m sad for the parents who will live in fear of their transgender child not being safe at school.

I’m sad because so many of my fellow Christians seem to have mistaken Mark 12:31 (look it up) to mean:  “Love your neighbor as long as he is a conservative Republican like you.”  Over this past election season, I have felt many, many things from Trump’s Christian supporters.  I have felt disdain, I have felt hate, I have felt mocking.  But love?  No, love’s not something I’ve felt.

I’m sad because I see gloating.  Not humble acceptance, but honest to God gloating, even while people mourn.

I’m sad because your cheers today seek to erase the very real experiences of the people who are genuinely afraid of what this presidency is going to mean for them.  People are legitimately afraid, and I can’t help but think if you understood that – if you really, truly let yourself understand it – that you wouldn’t be so quick to celebrate.

I’m sad because today you are celebrating a man who bragged about sexual assault… sexual assault that you so eagerly dismissed as “locker room talk.”

I’m sad because today you are celebrating a man who has spent the last several weeks feeling as though his time would be best spent not graciously accepting his win, or preparing for the very real job ahead, but behaving like a petulant toddler on Twitter.

I’m sad about the hypocrisy it takes to call people whiners and cry-babies for exercising their right to peacefully protest, in essence giving the finger to the very Constitution that you claim to so deeply want to uphold.

I’m sad because people keep wanting to tell me – and people like me – to sit down and shut up.  Don’t whine.  Don’t complain.  Don’t FEEL.

I’m sad because people keep wanting to tell me – and people like me – not to stand with those who are suffering.  Not to advocate for the rights of others.  Not to peacefully protest that which we do not believe to be right, and true, and good.

I’m sad because the very same people who mightily complained about, mocked, and disparaged President Obama for eight years are now telling us to “accept it.”  To be respectful.  To support our new president.

I’m sad because people are telling me to deny the sadness.  People are telling me to just think positively.  To just be kind, to just adjust my attitude, to just love.

Sure.

Yes.

But not today.  Not when so many are grieving.  Not when so many people have actual cause to grieve.

The earth will keep spinning, to be sure (although what that is going to look like for many Americans is very much up for debate), and tomorrow I’m going to get up, and I’m going to put two feet on the floor, and I’m going to go about the business of living my life.

But today?

Today, I’m sad.


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She Let Go

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She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ Rev. Safire Rose

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2016 Top Ten

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In a perfect world this was supposed to have been posted last week… you know, when it was actually still 2016.  But it wasn’t, because I was trapped under something heavy and couldn’t get to my laptop was busy eating and watching movies and marathoning It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I feel like my limited vocabulary doesn’t contain the necessary words to describe 2016 in all of its… all of its… see, I don’t even know the word.  It’s been a painful year.  Not just for me, but for lots of people.  And sure, there has been progress and personal growth and all that touchy feely stuff that makes me so uncomfortable, but still.  IT’S BEEN A YEAR.

So I’m thrilled, and happy, and hopeful to put to 2016 behind me, and to move onto bigger and better things in 2017.  Before I do though, one last look at 2016, blog-wise.

Here are my top ten most read posts last year, from least to most amount of views.

10.  The One About The Boobies  – I’m happy that this one made the list, and I’m glad that Kaitlyn Juvik so openly protested when she was treated unfairly.  This is a conversation that needs to be happening.

9.  Yes, I’m Upset, and No, I Won’t Shut Up – I’m not super excited that Donald Trump is going to be sworn in soon (especially when he is still tweeting stuff like this), but this is reality. And at the moment, this is just what had to be said.

8.  When You Can’t Walk Into Their Room Without Tripping – Some kinder alternatives to the viral photo that was going around at the time, encouraging parents to bag up your children’s things and then make them pay you $25 a bag to get them back.

7.  My Summer To-Do List For My Kids (And Myself) – This was just an antidote to all the rigid, hyper-scheduled, micromanaged to-do lists I was starting to see crop up as kids headed into summer (which is supposed to be a break.)

6.  I Could Have Been The Disney Mom – Every time a family’s tragedy becomes public, my heart breaks for the parents… first because of what happened, and second because of the public lynching they inevitably receive. I try to remind myself that no one is immune, and we are ALL those parents.

5.  In a World Where Rapists Only Get Six Months – I wrote this over six months ago, and I still don’t even know what to say.

4.  My Dear Daughter, Your Value Doesn’t Change With What You’re Wearing – Misogyny is alive and well, and I’m going to call it out every time I see it.

3.  Humiliation Isn’t Funny – So, it’s something I talk about a lot on my blog, but it’s truly difficult not to, when SO MUCH of what we see, hear, and are bombarded with as parents is the message that kids need more punishment. That they need to be treated as lesser than.  That they are somehow less deserving of kindness.  Well, I believe that kids need more compassion, and more respect, and that is a hill I will stand on all day long.

2.  I’m Not The Meanest Mom – Something that I noticed several years ago – and am noticing again as I get to these top two posts – is that you guys always respond in a big way when I write rebuttals (except I don’t really like the word rebuttal.  Alternatives.  When I write about alternatives).  I always have mixed feelings about writing them, mainly because I have trouble with the negative attention, but I still think they need to be written.  So I’ll still continue writing them.  There is ALWAYS a kinder, gentler alternative

1.  5 Phrases To Use When Your Child Is Having A Hard Time – Always a kinder, gentler alternative.

Happy New Year my friends.  Thanks as always for reading my words, and sharing my words, and for being overall awesome.  I appreciate you all more than I can say.  xo

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I’m Loving My Kids And Calling It Kindness

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Every year at Christmas time, there’s a sudden rush to share articles warning us about “spoiling” our kids.

Don’t get them everything they’re asking for!

Don’t give into their whims!

Don’t SPOIL them!

This one particular piece (titled We’re Killing Our Kids and Calling It Love) that recently came through my news feed brought a dire and overwrought prediction of killing our children through our generosity.    We’re too concerned with our children being happy, she tells us.  So we’re spoiling them, and in turn we’re harming their character.  But wait, is it really so wrong to want to our children to be happy?

According to this author it is.

Isn’t that what we’re after? Happy children?

I hope not.

The measuring stick of successful parenting is definitely not happy children. Well-adjusted, responsible, kind, and selfless? Absolutely. Happy and spoiled? No way.

Later on, she says:

The truth is that giving them everything they want and ask for is the opposite of showing them love. It’s showing them that they’re the center of the universe, and it’s teaching them that the purpose of their lives is fulfillment of their material desires.

Here’s the thing.  The article is making two rather large and erroneous assumptions.  The first is that parents who are generous with their children believe that “things” will buy their child’s happiness, and the second is that spoiling occurs when children are given too much.

Neither of these are true.

To start, happy and spoiled are oxymorons.  A child who is genuinely happy cannot be spoiled, and a child who is genuinely spoiled cannot be happy.  True spoiling occurs not when a child is given too much, but when a child is given too little … No, not too little material things, but too little love, too little attention, and too little connection.  The problem isn’t “stuff”:  the problem is an unhealthy base relationship.  The problem is that the child is not being shown and modeled generosity, or kindness, or respect.  The problem is a lack of a human connection, or an emphasis of stuff in place of relationship.

Giving of ourselves, sharing abundance, and showing our children generosity is not synonymous with “spoiling”.  In fact, you know what happens when you show your kids kindness?  They become adults who are kind.  You know what happens when you show your kids generosity?  They become adults who are generous.

Giving of ourselves as parents is what we should be doing.  We’re hard-wired to selflessly give to those we love.  I see it as my job as a parent (and for that matter, as a conscientious human being) to give more.  Not less.

More generosity.  Not less.

More time.  More attention.  More kindness.

And yes, when we can, more of those material things that make their life more comfortable, or colorful, or enjoyable.   I do want to raise children that are happy.  I want to raise children that are “well-adjusted, responsible, kind, and selfless.”  Of course.  I also want to raise children that know how good it feels to give to the people we love.  I want to raise children that understand that when we give to others it creates more abundance, not less.  I want to raise children that understand that while yes, material things aren’t what make the world go round, that they don’t have to carry any sort of guilt for enjoying them.  (She says as she sips on her overpriced coffee and types away on her laptop on her high speed wifi)  We all have and appreciate certain material things, and to justify our own baubles but purposely deny our children – in an effort to teach some sort of lesson – is inconsistent, hypocritical, and counterproductive.

Giving to our children… truly giving, from the heart… does not spoil them.

Truly “spoiling” a child requires a relationship that is insincere, shallow, and detached.

A relationship in which a child is treated with kindness and generosity is very much the opposite.

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