Either – Or.

“What, exactly were you doing when you found them?”

Well, Edna, I understand we are about to get very comfortable with each other during this ultra sound, but I don’t think it’s necessary that I answer your probing questions. Besides, if I told you the truth, it may fog up your tiny, round, wire frame glasses leaving you a fumbling mess. We don’t really want that to happen, now do we?

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I found two enlarged lymph nodes in my groin and all anyone wants to know is how the hell I found them. It’s been so incredibly funny to me the interest in how these lumps were identified. The truth is, for the first two weeks of doctor appointments, I honestly didn’t remember. It’s no secret that my brain no longer works like it used to so it’s no surprise that I had no earthly idea how, when, or why these things showed up. But they did.

So here we go again…I can feel the pressure begin to build, although I’m feeling positive about it all. Things are a bit different this time, though. It’s kind of like being pregnant for the second time, except without the happiness and excitement. I already know my surgeon so there’s no anxiety about meeting with him next week. I’ve been through the process of a biopsy, so I know what to expect. My prescription for Xanax has been pre-filled in the event that I need it. I know the process of insurance claims and already know exactly who I’ll need to call and yell at. I feel really on top of things this time which is giving me a sense of power and control. Albeit a totally false sense of power and control, but who’s counting. There is a reason people live a lifetime in denial – it’s a beautiful place.

The other day a friend asked me how I was feeling. One of those questions in which she really wanted the answer; not a fleeting pleasantry.  She really wanted to know and would have stood there for 12 days if I needed to talk that long. The truth is, I’m in a constant state of “either-or.” Sort of like a fun children’s book, just without the fun.

I’ve lost weight recently. Now, the months of August through November were incredibly stressful for me and when I’m stressed my metabolism goes into hyper drive. So, the cause for the weight loss? It’s either stress, or lymphoma.

I’ve noticed my eyelashes are unusually thin lately. The cause? Well, that’s easy. It could either be the natural molting process of my body, or lymphoma. My dog lost some hair recently, and I can only assume he has lymphoma, too. (Pray for us both.)

I really do feel positive about it all and honestly, as my doctor and I collaboratively agreed, if I were a single woman living alone with my ill dog, I probably wouldn’t give any of this a second thought. But I’m not that woman and that’s not my life. I have two amazing and beautiful little humans who look to me every single day to be their mother. They are relying on me to be there for them and I will do everything within my power to do just that. I have a funny and kind husband who I absolutely love spending my life with and I’d like to spend a lot more of my life with him. In other words, I’m not fucking around. Yes, the thought of going through this again scares the life out of me, but honestly, doing nothing scares me even more. Yes, the process alone is enough to make you crazy, and I know I may just be slightly nuts for the next few weeks. But for me, for them, for us, it’s worth it.

xoxo

 

 

 

Santa? Oh, Baby it Happened.

I have strong feelings about Santa. Thankfully, Parent.Co supported these feelings and published my article on Santa, his magic, and how that shit will be alive and well in my home for as long as I’m alive and well. You can read the full article below or via the link here.

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Santa and His Magic – In Full Effect for as Long as Possible.

The magic of Christmas is always alive for those who believe. While this may be my life’s eternal motto, I’m certainly not a crazy Christmas lady.

I do know that, for every Christmas light lit before Thanksgiving, one of Santa’s baby reindeer die, so I would never take that risk. But once the official Christmas season begins, I am all in, and dragging my entire family along with me. Santa and all of his magic is in full effect.

Before you roll your eyes right out of your head, hear me out.

I heard an interview recently in which someone described Christmas as a dream – the one time in our lives when we suspend reality in exchange for fantasy. It’s the one day of the year when dreams come true, the one time when magic is real. Really real, not just sleight of hand.

It’s also the one time of year when I have the opportunity to make this magic happen for my family.

I’m 43, and while I acknowledge how beautiful and wonderful life can be, I also know that it can be cold, hard, and relentless. There are times when people don’t care. There are times when your dreams truly don’t matter at all. There are times when you are alone, or worse, lonely. The realization that life isn’t always fair or pleasant comes quickly – far too quickly, in my opinion.

We spend the vast majority of our adult lives, well…being adults, which is exactly why I choose to give my children the chance to experience pure, dream-making magic. While they’re children, I feel that they deserve it.

I get it. Maintaining the Santa illusion hard. But for me, hard isn’t a reason to abandon ship. Last year, we pulled off a live animal Christmas, and it required more logistical arrangements than when I gave birth to my second child. It was also, hands down, the most stressful Christmas Eve on record.

My husband and I fought and bickered while trying to establish the best plan for Santa’s gifts to spend the night. I forgot to remove several labels and tags – clearly, a rookie mistake induced by an adrenaline-fueled combination of stress and excitement.

Boy, was I excited. I was so incredibly excited. I knew how much they wanted this. It never crossed my mind that Santa couldn’t make their Christmas dreams come true. No matter how many favors I had to call in or arrangements I had to make with neighbors, their dreams were coming true.

On that moderately cool, rather balmy southern morning, when my kids saw their dreams materialized at the foot of the Christmas tree, adorned with a freezing cold letter from the North Pole, every minute, every argument, every request, every switch, every exchange was totally and completely worth it. I watched magic happen right before my eyes, and it was worth it.

I admit I’m selfish. I love every minute of watching the holidays through the eyes of my children. In some ways, it’s even better now than when I was a kid. I wish this time of our life would last forever. The magic of Christmas experienced by my children directly improves my holidays, too. Their excitement, joy, and awe make it exponentially better.

While I may be selfish, I’m also a realist. I remember vividly when I found out that my reality wasn’t exactly reality. It was a pretty difficult blow. I remember feeling a palpable sense of loss. Over time, however, I was able to channel the energy and excitement of receiving into the joy of giving.

I’m prepared for my children to experience this loss. I am aware of the sadness that will likely affect them – hopefully, not any time soon. (Truthfully, I’m more prepared for the sex talk than the Santa talk.) But I believe that my kids’ excitement and energy will grow from the magic and joy of receiving into the magic and joy of giving.

When it’s all said and done, if my children have joyful memories – feelings they can return to when the world is not such a friendly place – then I have given them a great gift. So, for now, the magic remains real, and I am forever joyful and grateful for it.

Within my joy, though, a slight sadness tugs at my heart because I know this time is fleeting. Only for a very short time can we capture this excitement. Letters to Santa and personalized cards for our elf, Cookie, will make way for doubt and questions.

I am ready, though. I am ready to block doubt and reassure fears by holding on to my life motto. I am ready to remind my children that, as long as you hold on to the spirit in your heart, the magic will always follow.

xoxo

Dear Period, Sayonara Sister.

I am beyond excited to report that an article I wrote was published by Blunt Moms ! You can read the published piece here and the full body is below. Enjoy!

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I recently read an article in which a mother threw a celebration honoring her daughter’s first period. I truly get it. It’s a transition for young women that should be celebrated and as her mother, it’s my job to show my daughter the beauty that does exist within her menstrual cycle. While there were many, many years that my period served me well, played a vital role in my health, and supported two healthy pregnancies, after 30 years together, I’m making the decision to end it.

Now, before a group of anthropologists get their Patagonias in a bunch, hear me out. At 41 years-old I was very randomly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was during an annual exam with a new gynecologist – I had been on a six-month long quest to find a new doctor to provide more personalized, hands-on care – and I had finally found her. Thankfully. Up until this point, not a single OBGyn had ever touched me above the shoulders, but she did and found a large mass hiding in my neck.

Since then, things have begun to unravel and become completely out of sync. I’m bleeding more often than not, and based on uterine biopsy results, my estrogen will not calm the fuck down. There could be several reasons to possibly explain these changes. Most obvious, I no longer own the gland that controls my heart rate, metabolism, body temperature, and a host of other systems. Instead, I take a synthetic version of thyroid hormone. Sure, so far, so-so good but I’d be lying if I wasn’t waiting for the rest of my organs to figure it all out and stage a full-scale rebellion. I’m sure the invasive radiation treatment, had its affects, too. I’m also sure the fact that I am knocking on the door of 43 years-old may have something to do with it. No matter the reason, 30 years is plenty long enough and I am counting down the days to formally bid Flo a final farewell.

Our periods do serve us very well and I recognize the vital role it plays in our reproductive health. However, as I sit here today, that part of my life is very much over. I’m long past the days of planning for pregnancies. Now, since things are so out of sorts, and despite my best efforts, I think it’s time to end the misery. I have zero time for this shit in my life. I’m living in a constant state of premenstrual misery. With an average of two periods a month, every week is pretty much occupied with something period related. I find zero delight when my favorite jeans feel they belong to my 9 year-old-daughter. I always focus on the positive, though, and tell myself I’m getting a warm denim and spandex hug.

Just consider the logistics that are necessary for managing a period. I can only surmise that pads are designed by men. I either use a thin liner and end up bleeding all over my panties because it’s too short, or I unwrap something large enough to be used as a parasail. I find myself either patching together liners, single file across the crotch of my underwear or walking around like a diaper-clad toddler. I’ve given my period 30 solid years of existence, which in my mind, is a long and prosperous life. Therefore, bye, Felicia.

I may be almost 43 with two kids, a busy life and a host of craziness happening within my body, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to have sex with my husband. There is truly nothing more romantic than having my hubby nuzzle up to me and whisper a playful suggestion to meet him in the bedroom only for me to snuggle back and respond, “You mean so I can change my tampon?” I laugh and he – well, he doesn’t laugh. There is nothing really funny about my period cock blocking him for almost the entire month.

After much thought and discussion, it’s clearly time for me to permanently say sayonara to my cycle. While I am counting the days and so very much looking forward to a period free life, I do think about how I will adjust to the changes. What will I do with all of my free time? I’m a pretty resourceful gal and am certain I will figure out a way to spend my time and the money I won’t be spending on individually wrapped flotation devices. Maybe I will have more sex and buy more shoes? Maybe. If so, I cannot think of a better way to spend my time and money.

I will certainly look forward to the day when my daughter starts her own period, and will celebrate her life’s milestone with all the pride and fanfare it deserves. I will be there along the way, helping her navigate her own path. I will answer questions and give her advice. I will listen. Of course, I’ll wait until she’s much older and able to fully appreciate my decision to end my crazy period in exchange for an improved quality of life. (An improved quality of life with more sex and shoes. )

Cancer Turned Me Into a Hippie.

Yes, I know, any story about cancer is a total downer, except when it’s not. I’ve found that my life has profoundly changed after my cancer diagnosis for the better. It was a honor to have this piece originally published by Scary Mommy.

I’m also happy to report that I have become a contributor for The Mighty !

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Cancer changes you. It’s sometimes a cheesy cliché, but I can attest to you that the statement is every bit true. I’ve changed in several ways, physically and emotionally but I was most surprised to find that of all things, cancer helped me calm the fuck down.

It was during a physical exam with my gynecologist when I heard her say, “I feel something.” I had switched doctors and finally felt like I was in the right hands. Clearly I was, because up until this point, not a single OBGyn had ever touched me above the shoulders. Rarely, if ever had any of them touched me anywhere except the obvious pink parts. This exam was different. She started behind my ears doing a very thorough check of my lymph nodes, then headed down both sides of my neck. I felt her palpate the right side of neck, move to another spot, and return to the right side. She returned to that one spot three times before she made the announcement that she felt something.

A week later I had an ultra sound, two weeks after that I had a biopsy, two more weeks later received the news that I had Thyroid Cancer. Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma to be exact. I had surgery to remove the entire thyroid followed by in-patient radiation treatment. Now I am different.

Physically, I am different. I no longer own the organ that produces a necessary hormone that regulates my metabolism, heart function, body temperature, and more. I no longer can tolerate heat, my hair has changed, I have indigestion, my period is wildly irregular. I take a synthetic version of thyroid hormone, and while so far, so-so good, I’d be lying if I wasn’t waiting for the rest of my organs to figure it out and stage a full-scale rebellion. (Fingers crossed.)

Mentally, I am different. I used to be sharp. I’d say I was pretty damn sharp. I could remember anything and everything down to the exact detail of an interaction including where we were and more likely than not I could recall what everyone involved was wearing. Professionally I could site sources, references, and recall all of the necessary information to support my opinion. I remembered dates, places, and times. I always had an answer. I was always quick to answer. I rarely needed to think about thinking. I was always thinking.

If I saw you coming, I remembered our last encounter and quickly followed up. “How’s the whatever going?” “Hey, what happened to the situation?” “Did you ever find out about thus-and-such?” I remembered everything. I had a hyper sense of with-it-ness that didn’t diminish even after 13 years of marriage and two children. I felt a keen sense of awareness that, unbeknownst to me at the time, was a total drag.

Now, I admit that I am knocking on the door of 43 years old, which could have something to do with the changes I have experienced. I’ve also had way more general anesthesia in the last year and a half that a human probably should. I would argue, though, that the physical changes I’ve gone through have had a direct impact on my brain because it no longer works the way it used to.

When I first noticed the changes, I panicked. I was out in the world, doing normal world things when I suddenly felt like I had to think about what I was actually doing; almost as though my auto pilot was malfunctioning. I noticed that I didn’t immediately have an answer to one of my student’s questions. I wasn’t totally sure of what I wasn’t sure of. I didn’t immediately remember the last conversation I had with a friend at morning drop-off. Once we started talking, it all came rushing back, but it wasn’t right there in my mind ready for the follow-up about it.

I felt anxious. Nervous. Cautious in all of my interactions. I would tread lightly in hopes of not getting caught not knowing. Suddenly I felt a constant need to be “on guard” in an effort to keep myself prepped and ready for anything I might encounter. I was forcing my brain to work twice as hard in an effort to keep the world from seeing that I didn’t have it all together. I was keeping a frantic pace that wasn’t helping me in any way. All the work I was doing trying to make my outward appearance seem unfazed by what I had been through was wreaking havoc on my soul. It was exhausting.

Then summer happened.

For a host of reasons, this was the best summer on record for my family. I was forced to let go of things – like really, really let go – and it was a total game changer. I let go and the world did not stop. I let go and no one died in some tragic fashion. I let go and my life still carried on just with a lost less stress. I let go and let life happen. I let my new life happen and to my surprise, it was everything I needed.

I remember less. It’s a fact of my current life. Thankfully I haven’t forgotten anything major like a child or report for work, but generally I remember less. I don’t usually recall where we were the last time we talked, or exactly what topics we covered but if you are willing to catch me up, I’m totally on board. The surprise benefit to this is that my conversations are now more authentic and genuinely seeded in the moment; less a production tied to what happened before. I say what’s on my mind and how I feel at the moment; not necessarily what I think I should say.

I feel less pressure to have the answers; which is a blessing because the truth is, I never had the answers to begin with. I have good hunches, firm beliefs and opinions, but not answers.  I feel less pressure to always know what to say. I feel more willing to give myself time to find what’s possibly a better response.

I have more compassion for my kids who always seem to need more time. I’m less hurried. I feel free to take up whatever space and time that I need and that feeling is fabulous. I confidently show the world the parts of me that are incomplete, uncertain, and sometimes need help. Whether it’s an emotional change resulting from the fear of all that cancer is or if my brain is physically different, either way I am no longer the same person.  As a result of the surgery and treatment, I now have the neck of an 85-year-old chicken, which is pretty humbling, too. But, it took cancer to turn me into the 1960’s flower child that I never realized how much I actually needed to be, so I’ll take it.

Growth is Necessary, But Growth Can Suck.

During the time when we should have all been celebrating the joyous event of back-to-school, I noticed that several of us moms were all crying. Me included.

WHY THE HELL ARE WE ALL CRYING??

My latest for Parent.Co !

It’s been three weeks since my kids went back to school and I’ve cried twice. I talked with a teacher-mom-friend the other day and she cried. I’ve read several articles by fellow writers who are also crying.

Why the hell are we all crying so much?

Because sometimes growth can suck.

I believe in growth. I teach from a growth mindset. I have publicly declared how much I love that my kids are getting older. The physical growing and getting bigger is a great thing! Personal growth for me is essential in life. I need to grow in order to live. It may be hard but I know I can handle it.

I was recently faced with the terrifying experience of sitting in a courtroom to settle a case involving an accident. I was hit from behind by an 18-wheeler while driving over 60 miles per hour. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s not a typo. I was hit from behind while moving. Despite this fact, the ruling landed in the defendant’s favor. No, not another typo – I was found to be at fault. This was an excruciating experience that left me floundering and questioning everything I knew about life. My initial reaction was to curl up and wallow in a lifeless ball of fear, pity, and sadness.

Then I realized that I had to find a way to grow from this experience.

With the help of two glorious women and an emergency road-side stop at a local sports bar for a drink and solid conversation, I was able to piece back parts of my life that were beginning to crumble. With their push and my intentional movement forward, my faith in humanity has been restored intact and made stronger. Growth resulting from an internal struggle is a very good, positive thing. Except when I have to watch my children do it.

I cried this week when my five-year-old told me he was sad because his new friends didn’t laugh at his jokes. It was soul crushing, thinking how he may be feeling lonely throughout the school day. Another mom cried when her daughter was having a hard time getting her new high school schedule straight. The uncertainty for her, being placed in the wrong classes, learning to navigate self-advocacy, and the feeling of helplessness as a mom unable to solve these newfound challenges. I shudder at the thought of my daughter dealing with rejection. Another mom cried about her son playing alone at recess.

The thing is, I don’t mind this kind of growth because I have the life experiences to know I can handle it. I’m 42 years old and fully aware of what I’m made of and capable of. My kids know how to record 57 episodes of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Of course, they are more capable than that, but the thought of it scares me. I continually share with them the honest reality of the challenges in life but these experiences are mine, things I’ve gone through. Of course it helps to assure them that they are not alone, but truly, they need to experience all of these things themselves.

As a mother, it’s goes against everything within me to let that happen and I want to keep them protected and safe from hurt. As a logical adult, I realize that I cannot. The mother in me wants to stand in the middle of the den, eyes closed and arms waiving in the air, asking the universe to give all struggle, pain, and uncertainty to me. I will gladly shoulder all of the growth for my entire family. The logical adult, thankfully realizes that I, instead, should stand and beg the universe to give me the strength to let my children grow.

Letting them grow means letting them go.

I have a sneaking suspicion this is why we are all are crying. I want my children to grow, but I don’t want them to hurt in the process. I want my kids to grow, but I’m having a hard time letting them go. I want my kids to grow and become strong and resilient people of good character, but I still want them to need me. Currently, I would rather have someone hammer bamboo shoots under my finger nails, one-by-one. Slowly.

It’s the sinister paradox of motherhood. We are intensely there for them from the moment they are born and then suddenly our roles change. We once shielded them from every bump and bruise and now we have to allow them to fall. While I may be screaming for mercy on the inside, asking the universe “to give,” I will continually pack them up and see them off into their lives. I will wave from afar and wish them the best of luck and the happiest of days. I will be their everlasting champion. I will be there to wipe away tears, take in their hurt, build them back up, and send them back out into the wild, wild world of Kindergarten and fourth grade. I know we will all be better people for it, and who knows, maybe I’ll grow a bit, too.

Being Honest About Life.

HELLO FRIENDS!!

It’s been FOREVER since I’ve last blogged but I have really have been busy writing! Everything lately has gone straight to publication, which is great, but I want to be sure the content is shared here, too.

My latest for Parent.Co !

Years ago, a very wise woman explained to me that within the human experience, while our circumstances may vary, our feelings are universal. Essentially, there is a relatively finite set of emotions that we all feel at some point or another. While we may certainly think that we are alone in our feelings, the truth is, we are mostly likely feeling things that many other people feel as well. It’s not necessarily the feelings that isolate us, it’s that we don’t always talk about the feelings or share our experiences.

One thing that scares me terribly is the thought of my children feeling isolated. I don’t want them to ever feel like they are alone in the world having feelings that no one else has or feels. I know they will experience difficulty and ultimately feel really big, really hard feelings and my goal is to be there to help them through that. But most importantly, they need to know that we all share similar feelings. I’m not sure how else they will know this information, so I’ve decided it’s my job to tell them.

My daughter recently bravely asked me if I had ever felt a certain way. While I welcomed the dialogue, the question hung with me for days. I realized that this was my opportunity to create an honesty with my children that shows them my real experiences and my real feelings. I could choose to parent from a distance, perched high above as a 42-year-old, self-actualized adult, with a PhD and great career. I could.

I could also show them that the path I traveled to get here was full of disappointment, mistakes, fear, and uncertainty. That same path was also filled with joy, laughter, success, and love. I have felt all of the feelings.

Having someone to look up to is a wonderful thing, and they need to know that life is beautiful but also that it can also be messy. More than anything, I want them to know they are not alone in their travels. I don’t want my children to look up to me and think that somehow my life happened overnight.

So, I told my daughter about the time when I was nine and didn’t feel like participating in dance class. I guess I also felt like pushing a few boundaries because not only did I not participate but I also disrespectfully sassed my dance instructor. I told my daughter how I felt emboldened at the time but that quickly turned to shame and guilt, how I later apologized, and spent a week punished in my room. It’s normal to want to see what it feels like to break the rules.

I have also told her about the time when my friend started her period and I was so jealous I could barely talk with her about it. I listened to her story over and over but inside I wanted to punch her in the throat. To ease my jealousy, I took several pantie liners from my mother’s drawer and wore them to school despite not needing them at all. Somehow it made me feel better. Jealousy is real and it happens to all of us. Also, people sometimes do weird things and that’s okay.

I told both of my children about the time I agreed to kiss a boy in the back of the school yard when I was way too young to be doing anything of the sort. How I really, really liked this boy. I told them how mortified I was when some friends gathered around us and agreed to cover their eyes but didn’t. Instead they watched it all and laughed. Love can make you do stupid things.

I will also tell them both how I was the first one to say ‘I love you’ to their father. Love can make you do smart things, too.

I will tell them both about what it felt like to be left to eat lunch alone at school. I will also tell them what it felt like to stay silent in the group that left someone else eat lunch alone at school. Social pressures are very real and can be very powerful.

I will tell them about the things I didn’t do because I was too afraid. I will tell them how I didn’t take the class, didn’t make the call, or didn’t attend the event. I will also tell them about all of the things I did anyway, even though I was afraid. I will tell them how I did make the call, reached out, went on the audition, wrote the story, and submitted the article.

I will tell them how I tried.

I will tell them how fear is an incredibly powerful emotion and every single one of us feels it. Fear can either hold us back or catapult us forward. Feel the fear and do it anyway. (Unless you are about to do something immoral, illegal, or just plain stupid – in those cases listen to the fear and don’t do it.)

I will tell them about heartache and heart break. I will tell them about the times I failed. I will tell them about the times I succeeded. I will tell them about the joy, excitement, and love I have experienced along the way. I will explicitly tell them that love is actually an action, not just a feeling.

If all this talking helps my children feel less alone and less isolated, or if it helps them see that we are all very connected in our humanness, then I will tell them. Every in, every out, every bumble, stumble, or laugh. I will tell them.

I Let It Go…and Sold It!

In case you missed my hysteria on social media, I recently met a long-term goal of selling an article. I have syndicated a ton of my work, and have had more than one original piece published, but I had not yet actually had a publisher pay me for my words…UNTIL NOW!

The article was purchased and published by Parent.Co. If you don’t already follow them, you definitely should! It is truly an honor to be represented by them.

Finding the Gap Where Disappointment Exists, while I hope you find it funny and truthful; for me, it may be the one I am most proud of. (So far, anyway)

xoxo