Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is not about making the best turkey or fluffiest mashed potatoes. It’s not about posting the cutest photo and getting the most likes on Facebook. And it’s not about doing the most Pinterest projects with your three year old and making handprint turkeys and pilgrim hats so that you look like a good mom.

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You’re a good enough mom no matter what you eat on Thanksgiving. No matter what your kids wear and no matter what memories you make.

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But we get bombarded with commercials and magazine ads showing perfect families roasting perfect turkeys while wearing perfect sweaters. It’s easy to forget what the holiday is about when so many marketers and companies have hijacked it for their own purposes.

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So take a deep breath, mama, and close your eyes and tell yourself that it’s okay to burn the stuffing.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

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Instead of worrying about your child’s Thanksgiving outfit or stressing about whether you are creating enough traditions, take a moment to give thanks. Write a list. Anything counts.

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Or don’t write a list. Just sit and think for a long moment about the blessings in your life. Even the trite silly blessings, like: Hey, this shirt I’m wearing isn’t stained with spit up! 

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Here are ten things I am incredibly grateful for today:

  1. Aforementioned shirt. Seriously. So glad the spit up phase is over.
  2. That I’m shivering because that means the Pasadena heat is finally finally over and I can wear cozy sweaters again.
  3. My laptop
  4. Time away from my children
  5. Crunchy red apples
  6. My Thursday morning Zumba class
  7. Iced decaf coffee
  8. That I have not fallen back into the arms of caffeine, that cruel mistress, who torments me and turns me into a horrible anxious beast
  9. Zoloft
  10. Turkey burgers

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It’s Okay If Thanksgiving Is A Disaster

Thanksgiving creates a lot of expectations about what needs to happen in order to have a perfect holiday. It can create a lot of tension and crazy emotions. That’s why there are so many Thanksgiving movies with misfit dysfunctional families!

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You don’t have to make the holiday perfect or even close to perfect. It’s okay to buy the cranberry sauce from Traders Joes. And the mashed potatoes.  And everything, even the turkey! Don’t pressure yourself to create some Norman Rockwell scene.

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Of course, if cooking is your great passion, then cook away! But remember: there’s always McDonald’s. Seriously. One shitty rainy Christmas, I had lunch with my dad and sister at McDonald’s after we could not get tickets to any movies.  That crappy fast food lunch is one of my fondest holiday memories.

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Episode 25: Kristina’s Story Of Postpartum Psychosis

Kristina Dulaney is one of the many amazing moms I met at Warrior Mom Con. I’m so glad I got the chance to do a live interview with her. It was my first live interview, and I felt super awkward, but Kristina was very sweet and understanding.

This week’s episode is a bit shorter than usual because I was interviewed for an episode of the Mom and Mind podcast.

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If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out that show. Dr. Kat is a psychologist who suffered from postpartum depression. Now she is a very powerful advocate for moms suffering from maternal mood disorders. I love love love that there are so many incredible women fighting to crush the stigma and spread awareness about maternal mental illness.

Medications Update

I saw my psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago. It had been a few months.  During my summer check-up, we decided to wait until January to wean me off Zoloft. We decided to stick to that plan.

I asked my psychiatrist about withdrawal, and she explained that withdrawal is something that happens with substance abuse. When a person discontinues a necessary mediation, and has a negative symptom, that’s called a “discontinuation symptom.”

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I like that. Withdrawal makes me think of that scene in Trainspotting when Ewan MacGregor quits heroin and hallucinates and seems like he’s on the verge of death.

But I’m not quitting heroin. I’m just gradually discontinuing the use of Zoloft.

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Right now, I’m taking 150 mg of Zoloft every morning and 15 mg of Remeron at bedtime. In early January, I am going to cut the Zoloft back to 125 mg. If I have “discontinuation symptoms,” such as dizziness, I can take 150 mg one day and 125 mg the next, or even 150 mg for two days and 125 mg on the third. My psychiatrist does not want me to suffer needlessly.

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After about two weeks at 125 mg, I will ease myself into 100 mg a day. Slow and steady wins the race.

This is going to be a gradual, gentle process.

I will keep taking Remeron during all of this. My psychiatrist only wants to discontinue one medication at a time.

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In the meantime, I will continue the same regimen. My psychiatrist does not want to see me again until early February, but I can of course call at any time for any reason. If something feels wrong about Zoloft discontinuation, I will call and talk to her and come in if necessary. Or if something weird happens tonight, I will call.

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When I had postpartum depression, I felt obligated to fix things on my own. That did not go very well. (Unless you think five weeks of insomnia and hospitalization is a good thing.) (It’s not.)

Now I am the strongest and happiest and healthiest I have ever been in my entire life; and I’ll be damned if I’m going to jeopardize that. I will call my psychiatrist the instant I have a question or the faintest tingling of an issue.

I am a bad ass but that does not mean I have to suffer alone.

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Let’s Kill All the Magazines

I threw out all of my magazines.

There was a big stack accumulating in the bathroom. Decorating magazines, parenting magazines, cooking magazines, “let us tell you how to live a better life because you are incapable of figuring it out” magazines.

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Pounds and pounds of magazines with shiny ads telling me what to buy. Get this fancy organic lotion for your baby and he will have an amazing life! Look at the cute pattern on the bottle! Buy this and everyone will know how much you love your little one!

A teetering slippery stack of magazines with hundreds of articles telling me what to do, when, where, and why.

Model children, model moms, model dads, look at their big bright smiles, don’t you wish you could be half as fabulous as them?

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Enough! I’m done.

The magazines make me feel insecure. Like I have to buy this toy or my kids will be dumb or I need to cook this recipe or my life will be empty and hollow or I have to watch this television show or I’ll be a miserable wretch.

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Holy shit, I don’t need magazines to tell me how to live my life. All they do is fill my head up with a thousand voices clamoring for my attention.

Goodbye, entertainment magazines! If there’s an awesome new television show, my sister will tell me about it.

Goodbye, parenting magazines! I know how to raise my children, thank you very much.

Goodbye, decorating magazines! I don’t need you to tell me about this season’s trendy colors and must have decorations.

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I banished about ten pounds of magazines to the recycling bin. It feels like I lost about five hundred pounds of emotional weight.

p.s. It took me at least a minute to remember how to spell “recycling.”

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Flow

Last Saturday was a bad day. Nathan was out all day with a friend. I knew this was happening in advance, so I arranged babysitting for the kids.

Then Julian was sucked into teething hell and had a fever and there was no way I could leave the kids with a babysitter.  So we stayed home.

And I sulked.  And sulked. And sulked.

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It was a shitty way to spend a Saturday.

I sulked and pouted because boo hoo, the day did not work out the way I had planned.  And once my plans were upended, I resisted and went against the flow and fought the current and tried to work on my novel which is actually impossible when you are home with a teething one year old and rambunctious three year old.

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But man, I had planned on working on my novel, and even when the stars aligned otherwise, I kept trying and trying to work on it. I was a salmon swimming upstream.

You know what? Being a salmon sucks.

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It is time for me to stop swimming upstream and go with the flow. That doesn’t mean I’m jumping into icy waters and letting the current thrash me against sharp rocks and then toss me over Niagara Falls. Goodness no! I’m in a canoe; I have a paddle; and I’m steering. I’m just not fighting the current.

When you resist the current, you use up lots of energy and make very little progress. But when you use the current to your advantage, then you make more progress with less energy.

So how do I go with the flow?

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I’m not certain. It’s something I have to work on. But I think awareness is the first step. When I feel myself fighting against the day’s events, then I need to take a deep breath and whisper the word “Flow” to myself. Then, I can reorient myself so my canoe is taking advantage of the current.

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Last Saturday, when I was stuck in the house, I could have done a few things differently.  Instead of trying to work on my novel, I could have left some index cards on the kitchen island and scribbled random bits of poetry throughout the day. That would have satisfied the part of me that wanted to write. Then I could have paid more intention to my spirit and taken deep, deep breaths and relaxed (instead of plotting my book while paying half-attention to my kids). And then I could have played some dance videos on Youtube because dancing always cheers me up and makes my kids laugh.

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But I’m not berating myself for last Saturday’s mistakes. I’m in my canoe and going with the flow, and that means I need to look ahead to watch for rocks and whirlpools. I can’t keep looking over my shoulder and criticize how I could have better navigated some rapids. Those waters are gone. I am in new country now and need to experience this part of the river in order to live fully and truly and authentically.

I am excited to see if and how the word “flow” influences my life.

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The Postpartum Action Institute

Yesterday I learned about the Postpartum Action Institute, whose vision is “to motivate every community to create a support network for new families through grassroots action.”

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Since Warrior Mom Con, I’ve been wanting to do and learn more. Nathan is going to Vegas with a friend this month, so we decided I should get away for a weekend soon after. Then I learned the Postpartum Action Institute is having a workshop in January in Santa Barbara, my favorite road trip destination. And the workshop is being taught by Dr. Shosh and Jane Honikman, who are just too amazing to describe in a blog post, and oh my goodness, it seemed like fate.

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I went online and read up on the workshop and knew immediately it was something I wanted to attend. But.

There’s always a “but” isn’t there?

But the workshop is limited to six – six! – attendees.  WHOA.  That’s intimate. There’s no hiding in a group of six. If I registered, I’d surely be stealing the space from someone much more worthy and deserving than me, and Dr. Shosh and Jane would resent my presence and –

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That’s when I realized I needed to go.

I told my brain to shut up and registered and damn, I am glowing with excitement.

p.s. Don’t try to read any secret meaning into the graphics. I just think there is pretty and wanted to reward you with some eye candy. Because even though I’m talking about some heavy shit on this website, I want this to still be a place that feels warm and cozy.

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Episode 24: Ashlee’s Story

This week, Ashlee shares her story! I loved talking to her and was so excited to spend some time talking to her in person at Warrior Mom Con… and then we got caught up in the whirlwind of events and barely had a chance to connect. Boo!  Oh well, I guess this means we both have to go to the next Warrior Mom Con.  (Spoiler alert: I will move heaven and earth and the moons and even a few other planets to make sure I’m there.)

Ashlee Rahmlow is a wife, mom to a spunky two year old, a Behavioral Health Specialist with Affinity Medical Group-Ascension Wisconsin and the founder of Mom2Mom.

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Ashlee is a passionate advocate for moms and, in addition to her work with Mom2Mom, volunteers as a State of Wisconsin co-coordinator for Postpartum Support International.

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She recently presented at Postpartum Progress’ annual Warrior Mom Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Ashlee believes that healthy communities and families begin with healthy moms.  She strives to bring awareness, knowledge and increased feelings of support to all moms in Oshkosh and the Fox Cities.

Thank you, Ashlee, for sharing your story!

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Episode 23: Kylie’s Story

I am so excited to bring you Kylie’s story!
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Kylie Marshall is the mother of two wild boys: Ivan Elwood (2.5) and Alexander Elias (5 months). She’s been married for 5 years to her best friend Stephen. He is incredibly graceful and passionate and they both share a deeply held belief that life is meant to be lived passionately and creatively.
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Kylie and Stephen choose experience over money all the time–which does make life a wee bit more difficult, sometimes–but they both are pursuing livelihoods that they both actually enjoy.
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Kylie graduated from Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in June 2016 with a Holistic Wellness Practitioner Degree. Her official degree is in Transformational Mind/Body Psychology.
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She also has a diploma in Holistic Nutrition and a diploma in Urban Farming. She want her boys to see that it’s possible to live passionately and still “make it” in this world.
They live in the heart of Ozarks, surrounded by the diverse forest and the incredible Buffalo River. Their small town has vast opportunities–if they create them.
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Right now, Kylie is focusing on healing herself and sharing that journey through social media, in hopes that she can empower other women to be courageous against whatever it is that they are fighting against.
Kylie is all about the dirty work of real transformation. She’s committed to having conversations that aren’t being had on a day to day, surface level.
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She’s a woman who strongly believes that sisterhood–real sisterhood–is something that we are missing and it’s something that she wants to create for others.
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Kylie wants to create a safe space to be who we truly are, and discover that, and embrace our wild nature. She believes our feminine intuition can be restored, and we can have fulfilling, creative, lives. She’s learning the balance between motherhood and that wildness, and has been on a journey to embrace both.
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Kylie’s website explains what life coaching is and gives an in depth look at her story and what she hopes to do in the future for other women. Check it out at  www.earthsidelife.com. You can also follow Kylie’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/earthsidelife, and her instagram is @earthsidecoaching.