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#perspective

My sweet boy only wanted to help his mommy. The contagion of events that followed led me to see how much my perspectives have changed.

I was busy cleaning up one of the messes that my boys created when I turned around and saw a terrifying site. My 3 year old was walking towards me with that huge smile, carefully carrying my freshly brewed, scalding hot, vanilla Starbucks coffee in my favorite coffee mug.

I gasped which caused my sweet boy to be startled. Hot coffee sloshed out onto his little hands and he dropped the mug on the kitchen tile. Coffee and shards of my favorite mug covered the kitchen floor. A profanity probably flew out of my mouth (I’m pretty sure it did). My boy began screaming.

I scooped him up thinking surely his little hands and feet would be burned and we’d have to go to the ER. And OMG! Thank God the ER Social Worker knows me! I hope no one thinks I intentionally hurt my child! I carried him off to the bathroom and frantically examined him from top to bottom for any sign of injury. I was in tears. My baby was in tears. My chest felt heavy like an Acme anvil had been dropped on me. And I was nauseous with fear that he was hurt and would have scars for life. Luckily, not even one red mark. I patted him down with a cold washcloth. Still nothing. The only thing injured was his feelings.

In his sweet toddler voice he said, “I sowwy Mommy foe bakin you foffee pup.”

Oh my heart!

I explained to him that Mommy was scared that he was going to get hurt by carrying my hot coffee. And I don’t even care about my coffee cup. I’m just glad he’s ok.

On top of all of the drama occurring in the bathroom, “Big Brother” (my 5 year old) came in to yell at me for hurting his brother. After letting him calm himself down, I explained the same thing to him.

Then the next fear hit me! The cats!!! Oh my God the cats are going to step on a piece of the broken mug and we’re going to end up at the emergency vet!

I rushed back to the kitchen to find our large fat boy staring across the ocean of coffee at his food bowl. He was very concerned that his food bowl was unreachable.

With tears in my eyes I stared at my broken Eeyore coffee mug and remembered my mom giving it to me when I was in high school. I used to hate mornings and the two of us would argue about something almost everyday. Mom bought me that mug because it totally fit my morning personality.

As I began to clean up the mess, I began laughing hysterically at the site.

I mean, really?! How hilarious is this? In fact, when I texted my friends to let them know we were going to be late to our play date, they thought this pic was a meme. It’s pretty good though, huh?

The coolest thing about this event was the realization of how much my attitude on life has changed. I used to be an “Eeyore.” I thought I was a happy and positive person, but in reality I always had the attitude that “if something bad is going to happen, it’s probably going to happen to me.”

So the next day, while I was working at the hospital, my three main men went shopping and found a new “poffee pup” that better suited me.

How’s that for a positive affirmation? “I am Wonder Woman!” Say it to yourself, in front of a mirror, and just see how amazing it makes you feel! I’m positive that it will change your #perspective.

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That One Time When…

I think it’s safe to say that I have reached an age that it’s okay if an occasional swear word pops out while talking to my parents. I can even have a cocktail with them! I might even tell them a funny story about something that happened college.

But, it really doesn’t matter how old I get, there are things in my life that I just do not want my parents to know. I mean, it’s not like I’m gonna get in trouble or be grounded from hanging out with my friends! Maybe it’s because I want to uphold my parent’s image of me? Or maybe just the sheer embarrassment of admitting to mistakes is too overwhelming?

This concept came to me after a recent, embarrassing conversation with my dad.

I was excitedly telling my dad about a new incentive trip to the Bahamas that my company was offering. I off-handedly mentioned that the last time I had been to the Bahamas, I was only there for a day. My dad stopped me mid sentence to ask what I was talking about.

Me: “Remember when I took that day trip to Nassau with [college boyfriend]?

Dad: “Uh. Nooooo.”

Me: “Oh.” I could feel my face turning beet red. “So Dad, one time in college, I left the country for a day with my ex-boyfriend, drank too many Bahama Mamas, and threw up on the plane ride back!” Nervous laughter. Oh. My. God. What did I just say?

Dad: Laughing. “Babe, I don’t think I want to know these things.”

I couldn’t agree more!!! Obviously, I don’t even remember what they do and don’t know! Pretty sure they are okay with not knowing everything.

Ugh. Like the memory of my dad accidentally finding my thong underwear in the clean laundry.

Oh! And that one time…

My husband told my dad that we like to watch hard core porn. Except, we don’t.

My husband was talking about the old reality show “Hard Core Pawn.” My dad misunderstood pawn for… well.. you know. Since I was not part of this conversation I can only imagine how the conversation went.

My husband kept going on about how funny the show was and my dad kept shaking his head and saying “I just don’t watch that sort of thing.” I especially like the part when my husband suggested that my mom should watch this show with my dad!

Not sure how long this went on until they both realized what the other was talking about. They had an embarrassing laugh together and switched the topic back to sports.

And now, the mother of all that is embarrassing…

Since my parent’s health has been declining, I’ve made the 5+ hour trek from Northern to Southern Indiana multiple times (I stop to pee a lot). I’ve also been going through tons and tons of my old stuff… like Barbie’s, My Little Ponies, numerous old dolls, clothes, costumes, old notes from high school, and the list goes on.

One night after blowing off some much needed steam with my two best friends from high school, I decided to stay up and go through some boxes in the spare bedroom. As I was rummaging through Barbie paraphernalia, I ran across a piece of blue scrap paper with the word “condom” written on it. I recognized my mom’s handwriting and began searching my memory for a reason why she would have written such a thing.

A memory poured into my head and I immediately felt the embarrassing horror of the morning when I first saw that piece of paper. Cue memory sequence…

This had to be from my freshman year of college. I attended a local branch of Indiana University because, for some reason, my parents thought it would be better for me.

My mom woke me up on a Sunday morning to let me know that I overslept and would miss mass if I didn’t get moving. In her hand was a plastic baggie with this piece of paper and *ahem* said item. Apparently, it did not flush and was discovered by my mom right before my dad went into that bathroom.

I honestly do not know which one would have been worse.

Of course I had to share this with my BFF’s!!!

There are many stories of getting caught and times that I pulled off by the skin of my teeth. More times that I care to admit.

I know that my parents are proud of the woman that I have become. I hope they understand that I wouldn’t have the life I have now if it wasn’t for the way they raised me. But now that I’ve been married for over 11 years and have kids of my own, jokes on me! Now I am the one over analyzing every move we make as parents, worrying about the friends they are making, and praying that they grow up to be good people.

In another 30+ years, I hope they are living happy, comfortable lives and can laugh with their significant others or friends about “that one time when…”

Thanks for laughing with me!!

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Brain Dump

There’s a lot going on in this ADD brain of mine. Like most moms, I have a lot to keep up with.

There’s the normal stuff of keeping my family fed and clean, household stuff, and taking care of our fur-children (our sweet cats, Missy and Jordy).

I must give a lot of credit to my amazing husband. He takes care of more than his fair share of the household duties. If you’re reading this, honey, you know I’d be a crazier hot mess without you!

We’ve had a bunch of new, exciting stressors this past month.

Our oldest son recently started kindergarten. That was a bigger life change than I expected. He attends private school and I’m finding myself constantly referencing the Parent Handbook to make sure we are following rules appropriately. Seriously, within his first four days of kindergarten, I sent him to school in the wrong uniform… twice!

Our baby (ok, 3 year old) is in preschool, which isn’t really new or stressful or full of rules, but there are a lot of little things to remember…. show and share, field trips, his favorite blankie and Vamperina lovey for rest time… the list goes on and on.

Like a lot of parents, my husband and I work outside our home. My husband has a regular kind of job with regular 9-5 hours. He’s a teacher. I won’t go into all of the struggles of working in the public school system. There’s too many to list for the purpose of this blog post. Let’s just say that his hours are not solely spent in the classroom.

I, on the other hand, have a pretty atypical schedule. I am a social worker and spend my weekends at the hospital helping patients and medical staff.

This is my “normal” job.

During the week, when I’m not volunteering at my kids’ schools or playing with my 3 year old on his days off from preschool, I’m building my dreams.

In other words, my “fun” job.

I love this job! Not only am I helping others look and feel better, but I’m learning how to dream again. I’ll save details for another time.

I’m sure you get the picture. Lots of normal life things can get overwhelming. Throw work and your personal goals into this mix and you get a nice brew of craziness. At times it feels like it is seconds away from boiling over.

This is what happened to me one day at work when the craziness almost boiled over. I was able to stave off the hot mess that was seconds away from a total explosion.

So, I’m up on one of the patient units at the hospital…. and I’m struggling to figure out what I need to do next. Doctors and nurses are consistently calling with various needs for their patients. I’m trying to chart on the last patient I saw. I have to remember to fax that form to the home care company. Did I send updates to the nursing facility? There’s a patient that needs assistance to buy an expensive prescription. Oh my gosh, then that other one still needs a portable oxygen tank! And I gotta get the ambulance here to transport a patient!! And a family needs to talk to me about hospice options for their loved one!!! And, and, and….

Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!! I feel the explosion coming on! I’m going to cry or lose my shit on the next person who needs something. I gotta get out of here!

I decide to pack up my things and head downstairs to my office. Once I’m there, after pacing around trying to control my great, I quickly remember a technique I taught clients in my former therapy practice. I pulled out a piece of paper and started to write.

I “brain dump.”

I feverishly wrote everything and anything that came to my mind. Everything from my frustration with my hormones to what am I making for dinner next week. Within minutes, I started to feel my anxiety decrease and my head felt clear. The tears that were welling up, went back down.

A Dave Matthews song titled, “Let You Down,” popped into my head. The title may not be uplifting, but there’s a really cool line that goes… “I have no lid upon my head, but if I did, you could look inside and see what’s on my mind.”

This made me smile to think perhaps Dave “brain dumped” words from his head when he wrote this song.

Regardless, there’s some good stuff that can come from just getting the shit out of your head. Writing is therapeutic. Something magical occurs when you stop the world from spinning around you and just get the overwhelming feelings out.

There’s seriously nothing to this exercise. Just grab something to write with, something to write on, and go.

Try it.

I’m sure your crazy world will feel a little more manageable within no time at all.

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Who feels my pain?

My kids have been at school for 2 hours. Finally a day to get s**t done! Right? I have so much stuff on my to-do list and time is literally ticking away! I have to do taxes. Normal house stuff. Grocery shopping.

What have I been doing you might ask? Well, my Groceries To Go cart is about half way full (it was started at 5:30 this morning). Picked up my phone to turn on my Amazon Prime music app and saw the Zulily has Steve Madden on sale! What?! Have you ever told a pair of shoes that you love them? Cause I just did. And they’re in my shopping cart just waiting for me to push the button. Along with something for my husband for Father’s Day, some Darth Vader pj’s for my 5 year old, a new bathing suit. It’s snowing today, by the way.

Ugh. Geez. I still haven’t put the juice back in the fridge. Oh yeah and I need to add Lucky Charms to my grocery list cause Mama ate the rest of the box. Gawd! I need to get to the gym. Gotta eat something healthy today. Did I put salad in my grocery cart?

Omg!!! Stop!!! Why am I doing this? Who feels me? So how do you stop this whirling twirling flood of thoughts? Here’s what I do:

1. Count backwards from 5-1, then physically move to activate your prefrontal cortex.

Mel Robbins is my hero! If you haven’t read The 5 Second Rule, it is a must read! I have learned how to force myself to do the things that I do not want to do but need to do with this simple little trick. Count backwards. 5…4…3…2…1… physically move. Your brain refocuses. It’s crazy but it works!

2. Brain Dump

Get out your planner or journal and a pen. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Dump your brain out on paper. Lists, thoughts, whatever. Get it out. Reset your timer for 5 minutes. Prioritize this list. What can you do with the amount of time you have?

3. Turn on the jams!

One of my favorite quotes is “put your hair in a bun, turn on some gansta rap, and deal with it.” Don’t know who said that. Might have just seen it on a T shirt. But whatever! It’s true. ADD/ADHD brains are wired to handle more than one thing at a time. In fact, we actually work better with other things going on at the same time. When I’m sitting in silence… first, I have to enjoy it for a minute, then I gotta get some music on and start moving!

4. Power Hour

Again, set that timer or hyper focus might take over and after three hours you’re exhausted and standing in a pile of half done stuff! Focus on one thing for that hour. I like to do this when I’m working my direct sales business. If other things pop up during that time, keep a pad and paper next to you, write it down to do later. Or another fave of mine, use the voice recorder on your phone and record your thought to come back to later.

5. Ground Yourself

No, don’t punish yourself! Try my favorite “grounding technique” to pull yourself back into the present. Wherever you are, standing, sitting, whatever, feel the ground. Close your eyes for a second and breath in and out through your nose. Feel how the ground beneath you holds you up. The chair you’re sitting in supports you. Go ahead! Try it! Feels pretty amazing. I always feel my shoulders begin to relax. Stretch for a minute and refocus. Ahhh. Feels good.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Grocery shopping. And my cart full of Zulily finds? I’m gonna just wait 24 hours on that. I’m turning on the Justin Timberlake station through my Amazon Music app and I’m going to deal with it!!!

Happy hyperfocusing y’all!

(Note: This article was originally written in February earlier this year. Of course, in Northern Indiana, it really could be snowing in August!)

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Time for a Change?

I’ve never been the first of my friends to go through a life changing moment. I wasn’t the first to get married or have a baby. I always had someone to look to for advice when something big was changing in my life.

But now, I’m the first to be told that I am perimenopausal.

How in the hell can this be happening? Am I really old enough to start going through the “Change?” My youngest is just barely out of diapers!

Well, according to my OB, menopausal symptoms can stretch over the course of 7 years. With statistics like those, I guess 39 would be a normal age to start “changing.”

What brought me into the OB was an unexplained cramping that at times felt like the beginning stages of labor. At first it was every few months. Then it became more frequent and at times debilitating. I literally had to wear a dress, everyday, because pants hurt too much.

Signs and symptoms of perimenopause

According to Dr. Google (WebMD to be exact), perimenopause is another special time in a woman’s life when our hormones get all wonky. Estrogen begins decreasing.

Here’s a totally copied list of the beautiful experiences that accompany perimenopause (again, courtesy of WebMD):

  • Hot flashes (that explains my sweaty hair)
  • Breast tenderness (lovely)
  • Worse PMS symptoms (scary mommy over here)
  • Lower sex drive (sorry hubby)
  • Fatigue (guess I can’t blame this on my kids)
  • Vaginal dryness (lovely)
  • Urine leakage (that’s becoming)
  • Urinary frequency (that’s helpful on top of the whole leakage thing)
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping (especially wonderful if you have kids who wake up during the night

Back to the Story

So imagine the look on my face when my sweet, baby-faced doctor uttered the “M” word.

As he went on to explain every treatment from birth control to cauterizing the lining of my uterus to the simple transvaginal hysterectomy, my mind drifted away to the last significant interaction with him.

Cue the flashback sequence…

I was so relieved that this doctor was the one to deliver our baby. I remember reassuring my husband that Doogie Houser was my favorite OB and that I trust him.

Maybe I was trying to channel that same trust. I had to remind myself how much I do trust him. I mean, this man saved my baby’s life by surgically removing him from my belly. How could I not trust him to tell me that I’m starting menopause?

So he told me that he wanted to get a biopsy of my baby maker… just to rule out anything more serious. It would only take a few minutes and it will be a little uncomfortable. I would be a little crampy but able to go about my day.

Okay. Why not. I mean I was already sitting there half naked with a little pink blankie on my lap. He’s already been down in my girlie bits before. Hell, he had my uterus outside of my body theee years ago. What’s a little biopsy? Right?

So here’s a good question… What is the best response the statement, “your cervix looks good.” Um… Thanks?

Well, the biopsy was definitely not the most pleasant thing to experience. My doctor and his nurse made it as easy as they could. The forced conversation about Paw Patrol was a highlight.

I was a little shocked when I experienced the exhaustion and pain later that evening. Mommy guilt set in big time. I was grouchy and sore. My highly energetic boys were bouncing around and accidentally hit my belly a few times. The cramping was similar to Braxton Hix contractions. I was not a happy mama.

Mental exhaustion hit me big time. My mind was playing tricks on me. Any woman who’s been pregnant knows that when you are pregnant, you visit your OB’s office so frequently, the staff and doctors become a big part of your life. Well being at my OB’s office that day kinda made me feel like I was pregnant. Reminding myself that no, I’m the complete opposite of pregnant, was hard to fathom.

I’m not a big worrier but the thought of losing a part of my womanhood, granted the most unpleasant part of womanhood, (aka Aunt Flo) really got me down.

I knew that my husband and I were not going to have anymore babies. We had chosen to have a tubal ligation during my c-section three years prior to this experience. It was a unanimous decision to say no to having more babies.

So why was I so upset when my doctor was talking to me about the next stage of women’s health?

A week later, my husband and I were back at the OB office. Felt pretty surreal as we watched all the pregnant bellies walk around. When the nurse called my name my husband smiled, patted my hand, and said, “Good luck!”

“Um… no honey. You’re coming with me.”

I was not as excited as I was the last time we walked into the ultrasound room together. Instead of looking forward to seeing a little fetus on the monitor, I was hoping that there wasn’t something seriously wrong with my uterus.

My sweet OB told us that my biopsy came back clear, which was a relief.

Next question. What’s my choice?

  1. Hormone therapy
  2. Uterine ablation
  3. Hysterectomy

Option #2 suited us best for now.

The thought of my uterus getting an overhaul was not too exciting. I was still in disbelief that I am heading straight into the next stage of my womenly life.

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Midlife Crisis or Just Ready for a Change? (Part 1)

I was so smart in my 20’s. I had a super awesome job at a brand new bariatric surgery clinic. I had a huge office. I had a few years of experience under my belt, a few letters behind my name, and a certification in adult weight loss management to prove that I knew what I was talking about. I was considered the local expert in the nutritional management of bariatric surgery. I was helping people gain control of their lives and loving every second of it.

I was an imposter.

At the time, I called it “being real.” Fourteen years later, I can see that the credentials, certifications, and even my career as a bariatric dietitian served as a protection from my own fear of weight.

For the most part I did a lot of healthy things. I exercised, ate lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, drank well over 64oz of water per day, monitored my carbohydrates intake, and avoided sugar. Exactly what I educated patients to do during the day. But when the sun set, an alter ego emerged… Binge Monster.

What would I binge on, you ask? Weeeellll… Bacardi and Diet’s. Which would lead to French fries, tacos, mac & cheese or anything else that was salty and within reach.

Sometimes it was beer. That, for sure, would lead to me shoving food down my face.

Those episodes didn’t look that bad to me at the time. The majority of my friends did the same thing. It was somewhat normal to get smashed at the bar and end up chowing down at the local 24 hour food establishment. Why else would Taco Bell be positioned next to the bar and open well after last call? It was a normal thing. At least it seemed normal.

The abnormal part was the illegally obtained prescription diet pills, otc fat blocking diet pills like orlistat, laxatives, stimulants, and if those weren’t enough, there was good old fashioned vomiting.

I knew what I was doing to keep my weight down was not going to last throughout my life. In fact, I always felt that once I reached the weight I wanted to be, I would change my habits. But in the meantime, I had to uphold a certain image. Because who wants to listen to a fat dietitian about weight loss?

Fast forward through when treatment became obvious as well as the therapy that help me break the cycle.

By the time I was pregnant with our first baby, I was totally fine with where I was with my weight. Things began to go the opposite way. Between pregnancy cravings and an insane appetite, I ate everything I wanted; healthy or not.

I got back to my pre-pregnancy size after pregnancy #1. Pregnancy #2 wrecked havoc on my physical and mental well being. Our tiny angel left us at 12 wks gestation. Roughly 6 weeks later, I could wear my pre-pregnancy clothes again. As fast as that happened, I was back in maternity clothes with pregnancy #3.

This last pregnancy was different in many ways. For one, I was petrified of losing another baby, so I rested a lot. Second, I worked at a cancer center where people were constantly bringing staff gifts of gratitude like Amish-crack doughnuts (a Northern Indiana fave) and other kinds of sugar-laden goodness. Drug reps catered lunch every Tuesday. Skilled Nursing Facilities brought the social workers breakfast every week. A constant flow of muffins and bagels and cookies were available to a hangry preggo all day, everyday.

You’re really gonna tell me to watch my sugar intake? Well sure! I’m gonna watch this cinnamon roll disappear from this plate into my belly. The baby wants it!

Failing my glucose tolerance test should have been a good indicator that things were going south. But I honestly didn’t care. My husband was working 12-14 hour days. I was working full time at a highly stressful job and taking care of our 2 year old. I was exhausted. I felt most accomplished when I made it all day without falling asleep on my desk at work.

My weight climbed and I began swelling. When my OB told me that I should wear compression hose, I was all “fat guy in a little coat..” (If you’re in the peri menopausal age-range, you hopefully get that Chris Farly reference).

By the time I rolled onto the Labor and Delivery unit, I believe I topped out at 230lbs. On a 5’3″ (with wedges) stature, I was miserably uncomfortable. I felt like Violet Beauregard after she turned into a giant blueberry. Kinda looked like that too… minus the shade of blue.

A semi-emergency c-section was not something I was prepared for, and it saved my baby’s life. It was technically my first ever surgery and the recovery was harder than I imagined. With that being said, I would do it over again if the end result meant a healthy, happy baby.

If you’ve had a baby, you know that amazing sense of satisfaction of your first post-partum OB appointment when you lose like a ton of weight! I was so happy to be down 20lbs, a few weeks after leaving the hospital.

But that was it. No more. No less.

There I sat. Nursing. Expecting that “increased metabolism from burning energy to feed the baby ” would kick in. Nope. I’m one of those rare mamas who do not lose weight from breastfeeding.

My littlest guy was colicky so my lactation consultant suggested I try going dairy free to provide some relief for both of us. I should say, relief for the whole family! A colicky baby can add a lot of stress to a household. At that point, I would have tried anything. Within a few weeks I was able to be 100% dairy free and my little guy was thriving!

Surprisingly, my weight thrived as well.

To be continued…

Disclaimer… This is the end of Part 1 and I feel the need to make a disclaimer. I chose to be forthcoming with my actual weight during my struggles. Weight is a vital sign. The same as your temperature or blood pressure. I am not at all stating a weight where one should or should not feel their best or worst. According to research, a 10% loss of body weight can provide marked improvement of blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids. Not to mention a boost of self confidence!