Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kittens and Puppies

My husband and I are ridiculous animal lovers. We are aware that our pets outnumber us. If they should ever decide to mutiny, we will be screwed. And, to be honest, it's really my fault. When I met Jacob, he had a dog. Just one dog. Like a normal person.
I, on the other hand, had five cats. And one dog. Now, I will agree, five cats is kind of a lot. But really, it wasn't totally my fault. I had three when I was first living in my house way out in rural Stafford Springs. Tragedy struck one Memorial Day weekend when I allowed my indoor cats to have their daily treat of hanging out in the backyard. Usually about 20 minutes with my supervision. There was an email I wanted to read so I trusted them to stay in the yard as I was located on about three acres of open land so what could they possibly want with the road?
Apparently, they wanted something. And one of my babies, my beloved Harley, was killed by a murderous piece of scum who didn't even bother to slow down when he saw the trio of cats in the road. Two motorcycle riders saw it and pulled into my driveway. They were unspeakably kind and helped me until I got him back in the house where I then proceeded to completely lose my shit. My sister had to come over and Zanax me and sleep over. My ex was on a tour for the Air Force, we hadn't even lived in the house for a year. It was horrendous.
So, when about two weeks later a tiny, calico kitten appeared in my was kind of strange. She spent a lot of time hanging out around Harley's gravestone. I noticed her playing near it several times. The first time I noticed her was, in fact, near the gravestone (yes, a real inscribed stone laid flat in the ground). The very next day the tiger lily edging it bloomed completely. You know I totally believe in signs and the universe and karma right? Well, now you do. I decided this kitten was meant to be mine and I would totally be able to woo her and make her mine.
The kitten did not receive that memo. She proved to be impossible to catch but she came out and hung around me every time I went outside all summer long. Cooking on the grill? Kitten time. Hanging out reading? Kitten. Mowing the lawn? Front row seat.
Just out of reach. I could get within a foot of her before she'd run away. We developed our own little language where I would copy her little "Meep! Meeep!" and make my own meeps when I was outside. I seriously treated this project like my summer job, dedicating hours almost every day.
A month and a half later, mid-August, slowly losing hope but still feeding her daily, I started to question if she would ever be an in-house kitty. A new problem was that raccoons had figured out there was delicious kitty food to be had at the buffet (aka my pool shed).
I adjusted the feeding schedule to just during the day to avoid kitten being eaten by raccoons.
With Labor Day looming I began to grow more bold in my efforts. One night I stood outside with my friend Emily holding pool skimmers as nets. Kitten was meeping,  I was meeping, Emily was ready to pounce with the skimmer for at least an hour. I thought our teamwork was absolutely going to bring my success.
Um, an hour outside meeping in an area known to have yummy kitty food in it did not end as planned. While I had my back to the yard and meeped my heart out, I saw Emily freeze, skimmer held aloft.
"Stop Don't make another noise" said Emily. "You are surrounded."
"Turn around, the raccoons have answered your call."
Totally not believing her, I turned around ready to see nothing but my dark yard. However, she was telling the truth. There was a pack of baby raccoons (baby ones! squee!) running my way making the exact same sounds I had been making all night. There were at least five of them and although what I really wanted to do was pet them and snuggle them, Emily (shockingly) was not down with that. She charged them with the pool skimmer held out like some sort of shield device and ran into the house, dragging me inside with her. I'm pretty sure there was a lecture regarding why petting baby raccoons is not okay and also why we had to give up on the kitten quest for the evening. Because you know, mommy raccoons are probably not as nice as baby ones.
Although I deeply enjoyed by my wildlife experience I gave up. For that night at least. Later that week, I was hanging out with my Uncle Kenny. He had been my savior that summer turning my pool from a horrible swamp filled with tadpoles and opaque brown/green water into a sparkling blue lagoon. He had also been with me in my attempts at capture. He suggested that instead of chasing the kitten, maybe I should lure her into my mudroom with food. Just leave a plate of kitty food (during the day, no raccoons allowed in the house) and watch the mudroom.
Zoe all grown up!
After nearly three months of meeping and hunting kitten she was caught in approximately 30 minutes with virtually zero effort on my part.
Anyway, that's how I went from two cats to three again. Or it would have been if I hadn't given up on yard kitten and gotten a new kitten from the Humane Society. So, yeah, I meant to get one new kitty but...I got two in one summer. About a year and a half later while driving to work on a main road I saw what I thought was a squirrel struggling on the side of the road and even being rolled over by a truck without getting hit. When I realized it was a kitten I did what any animal lover would do - I pulled over and captured that kitten! She was way easier than outside kitten, now named Zoe. I would totally find her a home no problem!
Um, home.
So you see, my pets really are like, my furry children. 99% of the time they bring us nothing but love and fun. Yes, litter boxes suck my will to live and the dogs bark at nothing no less than 37 times a day. And having  a puppy, like a real baby puppy who was 10 weeks old when we got him, is a new and mostly awesome experience. He's six months old now and just gets cuter all the time. Which is kind of necessary because puppies do bad things. He's totally chewed up my favorite pair of shoes along with anything else he's come into contact with. But this week, he really had a tough time.
I don't know if anyone else in the world has ever experienced what this puppy has pulled on us this week. It started last Sunday morning when as I was getting out of bed in the morning he let loose, straight up doggy poop on the bed. Under my covers and on the sheets. We chalked it up to a freak event and maybe he'd been having tummy trouble.
We went to bed Sunday night fully believing such an incident could never happen again. Until I was awoken Monday morning by the puppy, Shamus, trying to get me up faster. I kind of ignored him and closed my eyes again. Mistake. Big mistake. I was aware he was trying to get Jacob's attention by standing on his chest...whatevs...the next words I hear are,

Jacob:  "Hun what is he doing?"

Me: "Nothing, I don't know..."

(Jacob then flung the pup to the end of the bed.)

Me: WHAT?!

Jacob: "GET IT OFF ME!"

Leaping into action I grabbed a wad of Kleenex from the bedside table and flung myself around the bed to Jacob where I spotted an actual poopy on his neck. I lunged to grab it but in the excitement and with all the shrieking (not mine) my aim was off. And...I kind of squished it, leading to Jacob "OH MY GOD YOU MADE IT WORSE!"


He leapt out of bed and into the shower. I did not see him again until at least 30 minutes later.

Then, "Hun, why did you make it worse?"
"I panicked. There was a lot going on. Yelling and all three dogs jumping around, I just...I failed you on that one."
See? He's fine. And he is very sorry about "the incident."
"Shit yeah you did. That was awful."

Don't worry, Shamus is fine. He did receive some yelling and some time in solitary confinement. He didn't even complain. He knew what he did. Needless to say, we won't be adding any more pets to the herd anytime soon. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ACA Coming My Way

Woo! Quite a day for historical change! Of course I'm happy about the Affordable Care Act being upheld! I'm a behavioral healthcare provider. We are the very lowest on the totem pole of what insurance companies consider important to quality of life and quality of care. This act will allow millions of people to get the help they need but thought they could never afford.

My favorite clients, the ones who really get past the stabby barbed wire fence I have erected around my heart for the purposes of self-preservation and protection, are 97% of the time the ones with state health insurance. In CT it's called Husky.
These are the people who are appreciative of the lengths I go to on their behalf. They are the ones who always call and make sure I know if they can't make it in that day. They are the ones who bring my dogs treats. The ones who understand that I am not just sitting in this office all day waiting to serve them.
They have never been in the position of people serving them simply because they exist or have money. They are the people you see (or quite possibly, don't see) when you're at the grocery store or eating out at a restaurant. They're the ones who pick up your garbage cans, clean your streets, and maintain the place you live in so you don't have to. Chances are, they take care of your elderly parents as well as watch your children when you have to be at work. They are the background, and the backbone, of your and my world.

These are people who know that appreciation is a precious commodity in this world so they understand the importance of saying Thank You.

I've done a lot of reading today about the ins and outs of the ACA. I will totally admit, it's complicated and I don't understand parts of it. Specifically the part about the individual mandates. There will be a fine for not having health insurance? Well...will that fine be less than the cost of care if you become sick or injured? Would you prefer total financial devastation if you have the bad luck of getting into a car accident and need to be admitted or even operated on to save your life? I don't know if I've got that right but it seems to me like the Supreme Court makes a fair point and even with the 3.5% tax for when you sell your home to go to the ACA, I still don't see that as being unfair to the middle class and working poor. Because chances are, if you're selling your home you're either buying a new one or moving onto something else. You're not living off Ramen noodles right?

Admittedly, I'm a soft-hearted Liberal. I think everyone -EVERYONE - is entitled to health care. I really don't care what kind of person you are or what you do for a living. As a human being you shouldn't have to die years or decades earlier than necessary because you are a diabetic and can't afford insulin. I want every person to have safe, quality healthcare. And yes, this does apply to drug dealers, bank robbers, violent criminals and nonviolent criminals, immigrants (because last I checked, they had human DNA too), fat people, smokers, addicts of all varieties, and yes, child molesters. That last one mostly being selfish in that when they go to prison I want them to be healthy so they can enjoy the years of ass-rape and whatever other creative things their fellow inmates can come up with.

I'll keep reading and trying to understand the ins and outs better. It directly benefits me to do so as this is already  the system I make my living off of. I look forward to learning more and understanding better and will do my best to handle the influx of patients the ACA will be sending my way.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I find it interesting when people tell me they could never imagine me as an anxious person. I've been told time and again that I exude a peaceful, calm energy and it is difficult to imagine me having panic attacks. I think I have always seemed calm to other people due to my introverted nature. It's just who I am hard wired to be. Over time, as I've grown and matured I had to develop the skills to act extroverted. It did not come naturally, it had to be conscious and undertaken in steps. It did not happen overnight. In fact, it's something I still consider to be a work in progress.

As an introvert I prefer small gatherings of close friends over large parties. I love and need my alone time. Relationships or interactions with other people can be very draining for me. The holidays, for example, kill me every year. Giant family gatherings, parties, pressure to see everyone I barely speak to for the rest of the year and who show little to no interest in me is exhausting. Having to put myself out there is hard and when people ask how my work is going, it's hard if not impossible, to explain. I mean, really, what can I say? Yes, it's awesome, I love my work. But I'm a therapist and it's hard to explain exactly what it is that I do. It's not like I can talk about cases, nor would I want to.

People have oddly skewed ideas of what a therapist is and what we do. I'll never forget this one woman I worked with when I was acting as school social worker to the Catholic schools in my area. To begin with, I am a Catholic drop-out. I took CCD classes until I was maybe thirteen or fourteen then finally put my foot down when it came time to do my confirmation. The kids in my youth group were awful, I didn't fit in, and there were and are so many things I disagree with in that particular church that my parents couldn't ignore me. I provided well thought out and organized arguments. Also, I had a hissy fit and refused to go. Yet, here I was, doing my best to stay sane in a Catholic high school and try to overcome the stigma associated with the title "school social worker". I attempted a conversation about this with the guidance counselor whose office was next to mine. This was a poor decision on my part. I said to her that I wished there was a different name for my position so kids would feel more comfortable about meeting with me. Her response was, "Maybe you should call it Professional Friend?"

Seriously?! SO IGNORANT. Granted, that woman was an asshole so I didn't take anything she said seriously, ever. She would tell kids they were too fat, or too slow to succeed and that depression was really just an excuse for laziness. In those exact words. And she wasn't the only one. The other guidance counselors (with one exception) were just as bad. One of them was a nun and she was the worst offender. She literally told kids they were unattractive and lazy. If a student wasn't on a path to go to a fancy college she wanted nothing to do with them. So the kids who needed her the most, the ones who struggled, were the ones who received zero support.

But I digress. Explaining to people what my job entails is extremely difficult. Over the years it has become apparent that some people in my life and in general, believe I just sit and talk to people all day. Yes, that is what it looks like but that description invalidates and insults me and my clients. I sit and talk to people all day about things they have never said out loud, let alone to another human being. I use skills I have sought out and learned such as hypnosis, reiki, energy healing, circular questioning, attachment theory, everything I have learned and continue to learn about fear, biology, medications, family patterns, addiction, and on and on and on. I take my work extremely seriously and by the way, so do my clients. They don't come to me because they need a friend. They have friends. They come to me because I am not their friend or family member. I can be 100% objective, I have no agenda with them other than to help them through whatever it is they're going through.

It is a surreal experience to be seen as an expert and highly respected, whose feedback is considered to be important and necessary when at work but in my "real" life I am just me. Especially with my husband who is just as stubborn as I am. To him, I'm just a person and my opinions and feedback are constantly up for debate. It is incredibly difficult to, as he says, "be humble", when he disagrees with me. Nobody else disagrees with me pretty much ever so I don't always handle it well. I'm working on it. Even with my family, I'm pretty sure my parents don't understand what I do. As far as I know, neither of them has ever been in therapy so they really can't wrap their heads around it. It's the kind of thing you have to experience to understand.

I believe everything happens for a reason. When I started college I had a plan to work in the music industry. Then events that changed my life forever came along. The rug was ripped out from beneath my feet and I haven't been the same since. I recognize now that is a good thing and I am where I'm supposed to be without a doubt. But those events highlighted the importance of defenses against the world. Up until that point I hadn't really developed any form of self defense. Things changed in a matter of minutes and I was completely unprepared. My go-to instinct was to hide and that is where and when I developed a mask to keep people from getting too close to me so I couldn't be hurt by them. Part of the effectiveness of that mask was actually looking fine and calm at all times. My face acted on its own accord and created a neutral expression that gave nothing away, therefore, no one could see how I was feeling. Such safety! I no longer really feel the need to keep this mask on but it stubbornly refuses to go away completely. Bit by bit, however, I'm chipping away at it and getting braver every day. Who knows, one of these days, I may be ready to take it off completely. I encourage you to ask yourself are you wearing a mask to hide from the world? Where did it come from and what does it do for you? Mine helped me keep people at arms length for many years. Bit by bit, I'm letting them back in and taking that risk empowers me more and more every day.

Monday, June 25, 2012


My first client of the day today was a super nice kid - 20 year old college student, athletic, handsome, the whole package. Yet he's never dated a girl due to various issues but I'll call it extreme shyness. He's not the first kid I've had like this - male or female. It's heartbreaking to me that these kids, or adults really I should say, have so little confidence in themselves. How does this happen? Is it having emotionally absent parents? Is is having parents who are physically absent because they both had to work a zillion hours a week to pay the bills? Is it being surrounded by peers who are socially inept and bullying is simply a part of the culture?
Honestly, I think it's a mixture of all those things and many more. In my case, being extremely shy as a kid was horribly painful. It definitely impacted my academic performance as I had the same grades as the kids in the accelerated classes but lacked the confidence to participate in class discussions, preferring to observe and soak in information rather than shoot my hand into the air to answer questions even though I almost always knew the answers.
Year after year the only feedback my parents or I ever got from teachers was that I was too quiet. Maybe they mentioned I was a good writer if it was a teacher who was fair and open minded to the idea that all kids are different and learn in their own ways. Most of the time, however, that was not the case so instead of being proud of my good manners and quiet traits, I was told again and again that I was not good enough. I even had a sixth grade English teacher who refused to give me higher than "Satisfactory" for my participation grade, effectively keeping me from joining an actual club for kids who had a certain grade point average. My work was excellent but I didn't talk enough. She knew I was chronically shy but insisted she knew best. Thanks for that Mrs. WhateverYourNameWas. Way to make a kid feel like crap about themselves.

I can't help but wonder what would have been different for me if I had been required to see a therapist at some point? What would be different for these kids I see today? These questions haunt me. If the medical community took even half as much interest in people's overall health and wellness treatment as they do in doling out medication what would happen? Is there even a downside to that sort of approach? The more clients I see like this kid from today, the more I think that meeting with a therapist at least once during the course of elementary, middle, and high school the fewer incidents of child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, bullying, self-injury, and even suicide we would see. By considering therapy a requirement for total wellness it would remove the stigma.
Plenty of kids and their parents would see it as an inconvenience on the surface but underneath, I believe they would be relieved.
"Dang medical requirements, such a pain. Oh well, insurance company says we have to meet with a therapist who meets the minimum requirements of clinical experience."
What person doesn't question, "Am I normal? Am I okay?" Especially when going through those awful adolescent years? Those years shape an individual's perception of the world and their place in it. Going to talk to a therapist does not mean you're crazy. It doesn't mean you have issues or problems. That you are somehow defective or broken.
What it means is, you are brave enough to hold a mirror up to yourself and ask - what is working for me in my life and what isn't? Am I happy? Are there things going on that are dangerous? Am I pushing the limits too hard? Are my reactions to whatever is going on in my life within a normal range of expectation or am I doing myself more harm than good?
Talking with a therapist you like and trust forces a stop and look around moment. Slowing down for even 50 minutes to really look at yourself from an emotional and psychological perspective can be life changing. If you allow yourself to become aware of your life, you are giving yourself the opportunity to live purposefully and consciously.
And for all this, you have zero side effects. You may not like what you have to face, but at least you can be aware of it and of how you want to handle it - proactively instead of re-actively. And that, my friends, is personal power, integrity, and the makings of a confident, motivated adult.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


*Authors Note: This blog is intended for mature audiences only. And by mature I mean, I'm going to say the word vagina a lot and if you can't handle that you may want to click on any other link you can find.*

About a week and a half ago I went to see The Vagina Monologues with some friends. 
It. Was. So. Good. Eve Ensler, author of the monologues, is a goddess.
Seriously. I had read them and participated in performing them with the campus women's center in college but these ladies really did it up. The cast ranged in age from 23-80 and I must say, the 80-year old kind of stole the show for me. She was adorable and her story was a little sad. I wanted to take her home with me but kidnapping cast members is frowned upon and let's face it, I don't know how to take care of an 80-year lady. I can barely handle feeding myself and my pets.

Last night I was reminded of the show in a way I hadn't expected. It all started when Jacob and I decided to go in the hot tub. A little unusual for me considering it's June and I hate all things hot or hot related in the summer time but I figured I could walk on the wild side. As we sat there I couldn't help but relax and feel the tension melting away thanks to the heat and jets massaging my back. This enjoyment lasted approximately seven minutes. Because about then I realized I was really freaking hot. Like, lobster hot. We just got the tub and haven't quite found the right temperature setting and it appears that the water was 104-105 degrees. Yeah, HOT.

No big deal, I thought, I'll just get out. Only, even thirty minutes after getting out, I was still sweating. I'm very sensitive to heat ever since I diagnosed myself with heat stroke during my internship back in college. I went to the Hartt School of Music for my undergrad degree and my major was Performing Arts Management. I scored an amazing internship at Sony Music in Boston largely thanks to my boyfriend at the time's family connections. (I totally made them proud - I got an A!)
For this internship I had to live in Boston for the summer. Actually, I lived in Woburn, a suburb just outside the city as living in the actual city of Boston would have cost a fortune and my parents stubbornly refused to win the lottery or take out a second mortgage on the house. So there I was, home sweet Woburn, living in a tiny apartment in a duplex filled with rented furniture and Indian families. They were very sweet neighbors, however, the house permanently and constantly without end smelled of curry. To this day I cannot eat Indian food. I'm sure it's delicious but when it pervades your life (and your clothes and furniture) 24-7, it loses its appeal.
That summer it just so happened that there was an extremely intense heat wave. Our landlords claimed the apartment came with air conditioning. They lied. There was an air conditioner in the window but it poured out cool-ish air at best. Our apartment was on the second floor and the families downstairs never stopped cooking. Mmm...steamy curry smell. Rubbing salt in the wound... 
My boyfriend had the luck to be gone on a trip during said heat wave. I, however, was stuck there. One day, the temperatures rose to about 102 degrees outside with 100% humidity. Inside my apartment, however, it was easily 115 at least. I wish I were exaggerating but I sincerely believe this report to be accurate. I spent as much time at the office as possible, leaving there around 8:00 that night in an attempt to wait out the heat so my apartment would be tolerable. 

Attempt not successful.

I sat outside and read as long as I could and when I finally decided to turn in for the night it was past 11:00. My expectation that the apartment would be tolerable by then was not met in the slightest as the air conditioner wheezed out its pathetic breeze in the living room. I positioned a box fan to blow directly on me and fell into a fitful sleep. I awoke about 2 hours later sweating, nauseous, and dizzy. The air conditioner had completely shit the bed and was blowing out hot air. Into my already sweating apartment. I did the only thing I could do, I crawled my way out of bed and into the bathtub where I ran cool water and laid under the shower until I felt my body temperature fall back into the tolerable zone. I wet a towel, opened all the windows and attempted to go back to sleep. I awoke again as soon as the towel warmed up and was even more nauseous and dizzy. Back into the shower I went. 

I don't know why my next move occurred to me but I'm pretty sure it was the smartest thing I've ever done. I decided to ditch the pj bottoms and panties completely in the hopes my lady business would somehow act as a vent for my internal volcanic temperature.
It fucking worked.

My vagina saved my life. She fucking rules.

I sincerely don't know what made me think of it. Especially considering I had virtually no knowledge of the vagina during my growing up years. I knew that girls had one and boys didn't. I somehow failed to put things together despite my mother's special talk, given to me while shopping at Caldor, in the sixth grade. Yeah, yeah, girls got their periods and it was yucky. Okay, fine, whatever. That did not immediately apply to me.  Therefore, it was filed away somewhere in my brain to be taken out at a later time.
I surely didn't understand or ask about much of anything else. I honestly didn't know babies came out of there until I was in like, 7th grade and just so happened to have an Ah-ha! moment sometime after I got my period. I didn't even know what it was when it showed up by the way. I just thought I was either dying or had somehow had an accident of the doody variety magically, without realizing anything had happened. Sigh.
Seriously. Sorry Mom, maybe you shouldn't have attempted such an important discussion while I was distracted by the wonder of flannel vests and Keds. I had the attention span of a gnat. Or a teenage girl in a store with lots of stuff to distract me. 
To further explain my lack of understanding of the birthing process, I had tried to puzzle it out for years because I didn't want to ask somebody and look stupid. So I just ignored that question and decided it was probably something to do with the belly button. I didn't want to think about that too much because belly buttons freaked me out. And still do. I don't know why. Just don't ever touch it because I will go ape shit on your ass like you have never seen. As they'd say in Fifty Shades, that is a hard limit and non-negotiable. Because it is icky Goddammit.

So last night when I found myself sweating and unable to cool down as quickly as I wanted I remembered my venting technique with fondness. I didn't actually have to re-enact it but I was briefly tempted. Because ever since that night being too hot makes me feel incredibly ill and I do not handle pain or discomfort well. I am a wussy pants. Which is why I share my story with you today. In case of emergency, ladies, you know what to do.

You are welcome.
Respect the va-jay-jay ladies and gentlemen folks.
She is one bad mamma-jamma.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

So. Today was weigh-in at the old Weight Watchers place. Yep...haven't lost a fucking pound. Just shoot me. Seriously. I do everything they tell me to do and I get zero results. I know, I'm supposed to be patient. But seriously? This blows. I hate it.
So now, my husband, Jacob, is going to take the weight-loss reigns for the next month. I don't know if I'll cancel the WW or keep it but he's insistent that we need to do things his way because it's worked for him in the past. He's all about the no carbs thing. Which I know works for loads of people but why do I feel like the minute we stop doing it we'll just gain everything back?
I'm so frustrated and annoyed. Jacob is telling me to do it his way because he's seen a zillion nutritionists and quite honestly this whole endeavor is making me crazy so I'm willing to try just about anything. It started out as an adventure, an experiment that I could learn from and look back upon with a smile when I became svelte and sexy. It's turned into a massive pain in the balls that makes me want to break things.
Maybe I should go break things. That, at least, would count as exercise right? I mean I could use a golf club and a bat...I have both. And a paintball gun. About a month ago my awesome landlord who so happens to run a wrecker let me use one of the cars he'd towed from an accident as a canvas for my girls group to spray paint their rage on then smash the hell out of. It was a magical day.

One of my best memories of the house nightmare of 2009 was when my sister, brother, friend Steve, and I had finished clearing the stuff out of the house and decided it was time to break some shit. So we took everything that was glass and brought it out to my fire pit. We then proceeded to spend about 45 minutes with golf clubs in hand (taking turns in an orderly fashion for safety) throwing shit at the brick wall of the fire pit or lining it up driving range style and nailing the shit out of it.
The neighbors, in case they didn't already think I was completely redneck and bat shit crazy, received proof of both that day. It was a magical time. We took special care to find anything of my ex's that we could use and gave that the royal treatment. Which looked very similar to the regular treatment of smashing but it was infused with extra pizzazz.
We're off to the grocery store to get some fish and protein type food items.
Wish me luck.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This whole getting into shape thing kind of sucks ass. I mean, seriously, it's hard. And sweaty. And even though I actually kind of enjoy tracking my food with Weight Watchers, that's the easy part. I don't mind not eating a ton of junk food and paying attention to what I put in my body. What I mind, is the risk factor. Here I am, age 34, and I am terrified that I will fail at yet another thing in my life. That I will stay on track and go to the gym and count my points but that nothing will come of it. Waiting for results is hard. Really hard. Because I'm constantly waiting for something to happen. Saturdays are my weigh-in days and I in equal parts look forward to and dread them.
For a person who can honestly say I have achieved amazing things in my life so far, I can also say I have failed spectacularly and publicly. Masters degree? Check. Successful private practice? Check. Awesome husband? Check. Adorable furry children? Check and double check. (And um...add like 6 more checks because we really do have a menagerie up in here.)
I get that without my failures I wouldn't be the person I am today but that doesn't make staring down the barrel of the weight loss gun any easier. Losing weight is tricky. Everyone is thrilled for you when you do it but if you put the pounds back on you can't hide it. It's just there. In your fat pants. Mocking. While everyone looks on, feeling sorry for you.
"Poor girl, she just can't quit the Yodels."

All my other failures were fairly easy to hide. Clients didn't know I was going through a divorce unless and until I chose to tell them. In 2009 I went through a divorce, foreclosure, got sued, and filed for Chapter 13 (bankruptcy - thanks scumbag ex-husband!). Guess how many people knew what I was going through as it was happening? Okay, you don't have to guess. Mostly because I don't actually know but I'm pretty sure it was under 10. Thankfully, I managed to meet my husband at the beginning of 2009 so I had somebody to lean on but that's an awful lot to ask of one person you've really only just met.
Growing up, the bottom line my parents gave us was "What you do reflects on us." Suffice it to say, when I was going through all of the above, parental support Friend support was minimal as I didn't want to share much. Even my siblings didn't know what to do, they were freaked out that not only was all of that stuff happening, but by the fact that I'd gotten into a serious relationship before the divorce papers were signed. Never mind that I had been virtually alone for my entire marriage. Physically and emotionally. To my family and friends, everything looked fine. I didn't complain, I wasn't desperately unhappy. I had a full social life and put everything I had into building my practice. That's what I was really married to. Work. But nobody could see that because I refused to see it myself. I didn't want to and denial is just about the most powerful force on earth next to fear.
But then the house of cards began to fall and bit by bit it all came apart. And the only thing my parents really saw was that I had a boyfriend and it upset them. A lot. I think it mostly scared the crap out of them because they didn't want me to get hurt again. They didn't know this guy, it looked like I was moving alarmingly fast, and when people are scared they act out. We all did. I definitely did. It's part of being human that we all react out of fear at times of change. 
At the time I couldn't understand their behavior was coming from their fear for me. I shut them out and disappeared from my family almost completely for over a year and a half. We are not the most communicative of families. We love each other but sometimes we may as well be from different planets our languages are so different.
(*If you are a family member and reading this, please don't freak out. I love my parents, we're just very different people with very different views. Mom and Dad - I'm 90% sure you're not reading this but if you are, I'm sorry, but this is something I need to talk about and heal from. Please respect that this is not in any way intended to hurt or upset you.*)
All of my parents (and my own) fears were being confirmed - I was bad with money, I made bad decisions in relationships, I had gotten myself hooked into an evil private practice owned and run by two of the greediest, narcissistic, horror show human beings on the planet. The fact that they are allowed to practice therapy on actual humans is terrifying. I was stuck with a 200-year old house I couldn't possibly maintain or afford to live in. I was forced to hire and pay for lawyers, vacate my home, and basically, throw in the towel and start over. I am sure this was terrifying for my parents to watch. They had no choice but to stand by and watch, there was nothing they could do They're not millionaires who can just pay for everything and I was 30 years old. Asking my parents for money was out of the question for me. No way. Eventually I stopped telling them things because I couldn't stand to scare them anymore.

Needless to say, public failure in the form of divorce alone is enough to make most people want to hide under the covers. Let's face it, I put on a beautiful white dress, threw a huge party, and promised in front of my entire family and all my friends to love that jackass forever. No matter how right divorce was, it's still humiliating to have your dream wedding then be forced to admit I was wrong. What am I supposed to say? My bad? That doesn't really seem to cover it but seriously, it does about sum it up.

So this whole Weight Watchers/exercising thing, while being somewhat exciting and invigorating (and icky, and sweaty), is also terrifying. What if I lose like, 30 pounds? YAY! But...then I have to keep that weight off. Forever. And I've met me. I really do love Yodels. And ice cream. And chips. And sandwiches of all shapes and sizes. I'm cool with moderation but the fact that my metabolism has slowed to a crawl puts me at a distinct disadvantage. And not for nothing, being a larger size allows me to be less noticeable. I get to be somewhat invisible and people don't automatically hate me just for being thin. Don't deny it. You know you do it. I do it. I'll own that shit.
So if we so happen to cross paths and I look extra svelte and sassy, by all means, tell me I look good. But if we cross paths again, and I've got a little more to love on these hips? By all means, tell me I look good. Because that's when I'll really need to hear it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I can't believe I'm saying this but...Sunday night I was home alone and therefore had total control of the television. Therefore, I got to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians without any witnesses which, really, is the best way to enjoy that particular guilty pleasure. I also got to watch the Oprah interview of the family on OWN (Part 1 was last week, Part 2 is this Sunday - woot!)
Anyway, don't judge me! They're fun!
And, oddly enough, the show illustrated to me something I already knew, which is the crucial importance of speaking your truth.
You see, Robert Kardashian was the biological father of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. He passed away in 2003. He was a lead defense attorney and very close friend to OJ Simpson. The other lead defense attorney in that case was Johnny Cochran. He died in 2005 after defending not only OJ but a slew of celebrity clients that included Michael Jackson, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and Tupac Shakur.
My point in all this talk of celebrity drama is that it occurred to me as I watched the show that it is in no way coincidental that both of these attorneys died a decade or less after the conclusion of that trial. Robert Kardashian died of esophageal cancer, Cochran died of a brain tumor.
When I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer but part of the reason why I never made that leap was because I was unable to decide which side of the courtroom - plaintiff or defense - I would fit on. Both prosecution and defense have huge upsides and downsides. Defending innocent clients appealed to my nature but prosecuting the bad guys sounded pretty good too. To this day, I still don't' know which side is the "good" side.
When I look at these men I think about all the secrets they carried. I saw a clip from an interview with Kardshian where he was directly asked if OJ was guilty. You could see the struggle on his face. His answer was that he had very serious doubts of OJ's innocence. It was the closest thing to a confession he could  give.
As far as Cochran is concerned, just looking at his client list, it's not exactly a leap to see that the people he defended were most likely guilty and he knew it. He just so happened to be extremely good at his job as well as willing to push the envelope hard to get the win.

Louise Hay is a brilliant author and therapist who has dedicated her life to the study of disease. In her book You Can Heal Your Life, she has an appendix that lists virtually every disease and health issue you can think of alongside its psychological root and an affirmation that is intended to help treat or cure said disease. I love Louise Hay. In fact, I recommend, go ahead and get a copy of that book because she is amazing and explains the Law of Attraction beautifully.
To get back to my point (rambling though it may be today) - Your body does not lie. It can't. It holds your truth in a metaphorical and physical sense. So Robert Kardashian dying of esophageal cancer makes perfect sense to me - he never fully spoke his truth. He held the secrets of his client and friend and I believe it eventually cost him his life. The throat is the center of communication and I believe he desperately wanted to get that horror out of him but because of his profession he held it until it formed the cancer that killed him.
Johnny Cochran, arguably the most famous defense attorney of my time, died of a brain tumor. Again, not a surprise to me. I cannot even begin to fathom the secrets that man carried and swore to protect. He couldn't tell anyone but I bet he thought about it a lot. I wonder if he beat himself up mentally for all the heinous perpetrators he defended successfully. I bet he did. Because no matter how slimy attorneys can be, they are still human at the end of the day. They still have loved ones. The knowledge this man carried literally killed him from a metaphorical and physiological standpoint.

These cases are extreme, no doubt about it. But that's why they make good examples.

So what does this mean for me? Or you? As a therapist I have sworn to protect my clients life stories, help them uncover their truth, and eventually live it. But with the good, there is the bad. I have to carry their secrets and shame as well. Luckily, I don't have any murderers. And if I did, I'm protected when I go report that to the police.
But I do have to keep secrets that are not a risk to society such as affairs, abuse, abortions, self-injury in the form of cutting or burning or myriad other options, and even criminal activities so long as they are not homicidal or suicidal in nature. Or if someone is hurting animals because I will report their asses faster than you can say scum of the earth. (Also, side note, I'm pro-choice, but that doesn't actually make things much easier. Especially when we're talking about teenagers.)
So I worry sometimes that holding onto all this junk has a price. The good news is, in every other area of my life, I get to live as my authentic self. I don't have to pretend to be something or someone I'm not. I'm never going to get fired from my job for dressing the wrong way or taking time off or not being a team player. I'm incredibly lucky to have balance as well as a really good defensive shield around my heart so no matter what I see or hear, I'm able to process it and if necessary, see my therapist or blog about it. Angrily.

But what about everybody else? What are you holding on to right now that could be hurting you in ways you've never imagined? It is not a coincidence that when we are upset our stomach hurts or we develop tension headaches or even migraines. When you are in physical or emotional pain, do a body scan - literally close your eyes and mentally scan your body from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet - and notice what hurts. When you find the source of that pain, hold your hands over it, breathe into it, and ask your body what it needs. You may be shocked by what you hear or see in your mind's eye when you really get quiet and ask. Your body will communicate to you. It's already trying, you just have to learn how to listen. And when you get that message it may surprise you. There is no wrong or right to what you see or hear. You may see a beach with white sand and blue water. Maybe you need a vacation.
Or maybe you see the faces of loved ones, or your inner child, or memories of times you thought long forgotten. Whatever you see is your truth coming at you the best way it can. At that point, it becomes your responsibility to make whatever your body is begging for happen. So what if you can't afford a vacation in paradise? Go outside. Play golf. Mini golf if you're like me and you hate chasing that stupid little ball around a giant course. It doesn't matter how you do it, it only matters that you take the action. Because it's important. Because you matter and so does your health - physically and mentally.

You can't help anyone else unless and until you've made sure your own needs are met. Burning yourself out or refusing to take care of yourself is actually selfish because it will eventually force others to take care of you when you break down. Which you will. We all do when things get to breaking point. So don't let that happen to you. Take the risk, ask for what you need, then follow up and do it. The length and quality of your life may depend on it.

Monday, June 18, 2012


It's been a weird few days. Friday night I was high off The Vagina Monologues. Saturday I was psyched to see Josh Blue for the first time. He was awesome. Super funny and just as lovable in person as he is on television. My husband and I left the show with smiles on our faces.
Those smiles disappeared immediately. My husband returned a call from his brother as we were walking out of the mall and just like that, the world stopped.
As we stood outside the Coach store his face changed from relaxed, to shocked, to horrified.
"Matt's dead."
You know that feeling you get, like the world slows down to a crawl and blurs around the edges? That's what I felt and truth is, I hardly knew him. He was my husband's close friend, not mine, but he was one of those people you meet and instantly like. A good heart, pure soul, and quietly wicked sense of humor.
There's a part of me that's so angry I could spit.  A part of me wants to shriek howler-monkey style about the danger of motorcycles. There's a part of me that hates those death machines and wishes they would be banned from the planet.
But luckily, there's a bigger part of me, a higher place inside myself who understands that people love those stupid bikes because of the joy they bring. The sense of freedom and peace a rider can only get when they're on the road on a beautiful summer day is something I can't and won't take from anyone.
I believe as human beings, we all have pain. We all have things in our lives we can't control and those things tend to overwhelm the things we can. There is a deep well of relief and joy that comes with feeling we are free and empowered.
There is a lot to be said for the joy of escape. Even if it's only for fifteen minutes, an hour, a day. There's a reason people go on vacation and it's not just for the souvenirs. It's for that feeling when responsibility peels off us layer by layer to reveal our real selves buried beneath. We walk through life with layers of fear, memories of pain, feelings of inadequacy, the weight of responsibility brought to us by our lives, our work, our families, friends, and society in general.
And the relief it feels, to put that stuff aside for any length of necessary. Crucial to the human experience even. Because we are not made to carry pain like pack mules. We are born for love, connection, and yes, joy. I believe when we are born we have within us everything we need. We are perfect, clean slates ready to love and trust in life. But then life comes along and those layers I mentioned before? They start to form. And before we know it, we are grown and carrying a lifetime's worth of doubt on our shoulders.
The secret to finding our freedom is different for every one of us. But the requirements are the same - be open to receive, find that child inside of you. The one who used to ride their bike as fast as those legs would pedal, pedal, coast! Down the hill with the sun on your back and the wind in your face, flying through the world so fast, the colors ran together.
Soaring free. Above it all and loving it.
Let there be peace and joy for you, friends.
Get out there and find that kid inside of you.
I promise, they're ready and waiting for your call.

Friday, June 15, 2012


When I was six years old, my mother put me on a plane, by myself, to fly to JFK to visit my godmother (her sister) and my uncle. It was 1984 and well, things were different than they are today. The world was a safer place. Nonetheless, I was totally freaked out. I remember my mom boarding the plane with me and my begging her not to leave me alone, to fly to NYC with me. I remember her tearing up but resolutely telling me I would be fine. The nice flight attendant lady eventually had to come over and tell my mom it was time for her to go. (Imagine that - airlines allowing parents onto the plane to settle their kids in. File under: shit they would never allow today.)
Now, I was none too pleased about the mama bear departing the plane. The flight attendant, however, was a wily little fox and she knew how to calm me down. Bribery. Coca-Cola. Keep 'em coming. It's a short flight from Hartford to JFK, and she had nothing to lose.
I suspect this may be my earliest memory of anxiety. Luckily, it was a short flight and my new friend did not leave my side until we were off that plane and I was safely in the arms of my godmother.

My aunt lived in Queens in what I can only remember as a very tall building. I had never been in an apartment before and the novelty of having people below me and above me was very exciting. As was the near-constant sound of traffic. This was like being on another planet. My home in CT was in a quiet, suburban neighborhood surrounded by woods and the only cars on our street belonged to our neighbors.
In addition, I was informed that we would be having dinner that night in a place called China Town. I don't remember how we got to the restaurant but upon browsing the menu I was thrilled to see Shark Fin Soup.
I immediately requested that be my dinner. My aunt and uncle found this an odd choice but they indulged me and let me order it. (A first! Coming from a family with three kids there was no room for experimentation at dinner time back home.)
When it finally arrived, a lump immediately formed in my throat. My aunt and uncle looked on expectantly wondering what I was going to do with this unusual meal choice. I looked at their amused, patient faces and decided that surely there had been a mistake. Shark fin soup was supposed to have sharks in it. This was bullshit. This was broth! With weird shit in it! Not one single shark was swimming around Looney Tunes style in that damn bowl. I had been robbed! But Goddammit I was not going to look ungrateful or like a baby in front of my most adored aunt. I ate that soup. Maybe not all of it but I plunged in with all the gusto I could muster, determined that they would think I was a big kid and not some sucker.

After dinner they informed me we were going to see a show but that some parts of it might be a little scary. Oh God. I was SIX. I had just found out that the world's most exciting entree was, in fact, total bullshit. My world had been rocked. I informed them I was feeling a bit tired and would like to retire to my room and go to bed. They hesitated for a moment and I froze - disappoint the coolest people in the world or suck it up?
Suck it up Smith! I told myself. Don't be a baby!
I agreed we could go check it out and they promised if it got too scary we could leave.
The show was the first off-Broadway run of Little Shop of Horrors. We sat in balcony seats and from the moment the first note was sung to the amazing ending when green and red streamers poured down from the ceiling on to the crowd I was hooked. I cried when it was over because it was so good I didn't have the words to express my pure, unadulterated joy. They bought me a tee-shirt. I kept that shirt until I left for college. At that point it was little more than a rag but just seeing it in my drawer was something I enjoyed for years.

Since that day, live theater and live music have become some of the most life affirming, moving, and inspiring experiences of my life. The ability to completely detach, to willfully suspend disbelief and become a part of the living, breathing, organism of live performance is a gift I have been missing out on for far too long. Because of the anxiety and panic disorders that have plagued my existence for the past fourteen years, going to events in crowded theaters was simply too far out of my comfort zone.
This past May I went to a Florence + The Machine concert. It was the first concert I'd been to in three years. And it was awesome. It was a gift to myself and a giant Fuck You to panic and anxiety.
I went to see The Vagina Monologues tonight and, as I always do, I found myself wiping away tears at the beginning of the performance as well as the end. Tears of joy, of connection with other creatives and artists, feeling the energy of a room and knowing I am a part of this. I will never allow myself to be without this life force again. To allow that would be giving up on myself and there is too much joy in me to ever let that happen again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dear Random Lady,

I'm not entirely sure why you felt the need to interact with me at all considering you were three lanes away from me in opposite facing traffic. I'm also not sure why, when I made obvious attempts to ignore you, you continued to pursue my attention seeing as how, again, I was far away from you and clearly uninterested in communicating. I am also, quite frankly, concerned about your judgement considering the fact that you had your young child in the car and for all you know I am a crazy psychopath with murder on my mind.

I know my car and license plate (HOOTY on a green Mini) are totally adorable but not particularly threatening. So maybe you thought I was some softie you could just talk shit to? Well think again biotch!

Because frankly, yes, I did have my wee dog on my lap with his adorable wittle face enjoying the breeze from my three-quarters closed for safety window. And yes, I am aware that this is not exactly responsible driving but since traffic was stopped then moving approximately three miles per hour, I guess I was feeling dangerous.

What's funny is, I initially thought you were admiring my adorable wee doggle as he is completely delicious and we can't go anywhere without people stopping us to admire his fabulousness.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when I finally gave in and made eye contact with you it was to hear you shrieking at me.
As you pointed your judgy clawed talon finger at me.

I can only hope you caught my sincere sarcasm as I smiled my brightest, sweetest smile at you and responded, "Thank you soooo much! You are SO HELPFUL!!" And waved my sweet puppy's paw at you with glee.

We blew you kisses and drove away because my mama taught me to kill 'em with kindness and that is how I roll.

Erin and Shamus

Shamus  (aka Badass McWindowSniffer)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Haters Gonna Hate

Confession: I love Bravo television. If it involves Housewives or OCD designers I am in. (Except New Jersey, those bitches be crazy.)
Last night by some stroke of luck I was Remote Queen for a day. Of course I watched the Real Housewives of New York.
(Sidebar Rant - do not feel obligated to read if you're not a fan of the show. How on God's green earth is that alcoholic super skank sociopath Ramona Singer still on and Jill Zarin, my beloved ginger truth teller, gone? Damn you Bravo!)
Anyway, the truly striking thing about the episode to me was the absolute delight the women were having talking about one another behind their backs. Oh the delicious drama!
I must say, however, it strongly reminded me of high school. And middle school. And probably even elementary school if I really thought about it. Which leads me to notice, not for the first time, that the world never really leaves high school.
Being in high school is what I call training for the real world. Because if you believe all the gossiping and shit talking that you and your friends did magically goes away because you got a cap and gown you are in denial my lovies. (Also, you're totally normal, I'm not hating on anyone for anything. I did that shit too! Like a boss!)
High school settles itself into the fiber of our being and it never really goes away. Because all that talking comes from a place inside of us that's very real. And if your work puts you in contact with any more than say, two people including you, you have most likely experienced some level of drama even in your grown up office. It comes from our attachments - to how we view ourselves physically, mentally, academically, and how we view other people - friend or foe? Competition or no? Are they prettier, smarter, richer, sexier, making more money, getting attention that we ourselves wish for? Are they better than us??
Not to mention - do they like us? Do we fit in? Our insecurities drive this behavior and we are somewhat passive passengers on the road of self doubt and, yes, envy. But of course we don't envy her/him! That's crazy! She/he is not that special!
Um, well, none of us are that special. I'm fascinated by a recent news story about a high school teacher who gave a speech at graduation and it's loud and clear message was, "You are not special."
I love it. Of course, he got all kinds of flack for it and will probably be publicly flogged and made to apologize for hurting the baby birds feelings, but the man had a point.
Nobody gets a free ride. Nobody has a perfect life. At least nobody I know or have encountered. And if I did meet someone with a perfect life, I probably wouldn't like them much. They'd be far too boring and I can't imagine much fun. You can't have bliss without having known suffering of some kind.
We are emotionally driven creatures. And a lot of that drive comes from our fear of not being good enough, not deserving good things, not owning our shit because blaming other people and giving ourselves really intelligent, well thought out excuses for our behavior is far less uncomfortable. We live in our heads and construct our own image of what our life should look like, how the people in our lives should behave - especially when it comes to how they treat us.
What we often forget is giving expectations to someone without communicating with them, without actually asking for what we want, is a set up for disappointment. And if you believe people will disappoint you, that is what will happen every time. Self fulfilling prophecy.
We as human beings are hard wired to want to be right. Above all else, we need that validation. We need to be able to say nobody got one over on me! That's right! I knew they were gonna screw up and they did!
I'm so mad at them! (But secretly relieved because I was right! Woo!)
I'm working on easing up on expectations, especially the unspoken ones. I get it that I have a choice. I can be right, or I can be happy. I don't get to have both all the time. Nobody does. And that's something I have to learn to make peace with.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Feeling Good Feeling Strong

If you had told me ten years ago I would be going to Weight Watchers meetings I probably would have punched you in the face. In fact, after punching you in the face I would have laughed at the absurdity of your statement.
I wasn't a believer in the whole "metabolism slows down after 30" thing. I'd always eaten junk food like it was going out of style. I even worked at Burger King for like, two years in high school. Mainly because I had a friend who worked there and she told me it would be fun. And I believed her.
(Are we noticing a certain naivete in my younger self? I think so.)
Sadly, everything I refused to believe has kind of come true. I'm not saying I'm wildly overweight and am on track to need a crane to get me out of my recliner. I'm just saying, I'm not digging my 34-year old body and think I could be doing a better job steering this ship.
I suspect a part of the anxiety I've been wrestling with has been about the belief that I am not strong in body or in mind. Because every time I had to do something out of my comfort zone over the last ten years I'd either have to drug the shit out of myself with Xanax and/or Clonipin (which did not always work, eventually my tolerance for that shit was on par with that of an angry rhino) or have a massive panic attack. Not an "uh-oh, I'm feeling funny and I'm a wuss who can't handle it" attack. No indeed. The best way I can explain my experience of panic attack is: my vision will tunnel so I can't measure depth of field well. My hands, face, and chest tighten and heat to redness and sweating.
My thoughts go from: "I'm okay, I'm safe, everything is okay, just breathe."
To: "I want to die. I wish I would get hit by a car so I could have an acceptable reason for this bullshit. I hate myself. I hate life. I ruin everything and I'm no fun and nobody should ever love me because I am a piece of shit and there must be something wrong with these people because they brought me to their (Fill in the blank - game, concert, batchelorette  party, etc.)
Mixed with explosive diarrhea and nausea and usually followed by a migraine.
So no, it's not "all in my head."
I talk about my anxiety a lot because it has changed the shape of my life. It is not for sympathy. It is to help you understand that if you're the one having the panic attacks in your world  there is nothing wrong with you. You are not defective. You deserve good things. You deserve to live the highs and lows of your life. You can do it, if I could beat it, believe me you can too.
It's also so the friends and family members of the individual with the attacks can understand how awful it is. How debilitating and humiliating and painful. So even though you're pissed that your plans got messed with, no matter how bad you feel, the person actually having the attack hates themselves and feels worse about themselves more than you could ever know. Because the one having the attack not only gets all the effects I mentioned above, but they also feel guilty and ashamed for losing their shit in front of you and letting you down.
Want to help someone in that situation? Tell them it's okay. You just want them to be okay. Hopefully, prior to your event, you listened to them when they said what they were and were not comfortable with. Most of us with anxiety know our triggers and have developed ways to avoid them. Personally, for me it was always of great comfort to know that I could get to an event just before it actually started so I wouldn't have a lot of down time where I wasn't being distracted. It also meant I needed to drive myself places so I could go home if things got ugly at any point.
Therefore, the awful day in Erin History when my husband innocently brought me to the Patriots/Miami game (we're Dolphins fans, well, he is, I just go with it) was one of the darkest we've had. Because despite my telling him numerous times I did not feel good about tailgating, he wanted me there with him because he loves the Dolphins and he loves me. He is a man who wants me to share his life with him and part of that life involves actually going places and doing things. He believed I could do it.
I, on the other hand and despite my best efforts hyper focused on being trapped in a parking lot with NO ability to get out at all in case of emergency (stampede? fire? terrorists?). I knew myself back then and I knew sitting around trying to eat of all ridiculous things would be hard for me. And big surprise! It was a complete disaster that ended with his friends having to drive him home (about 2 hours out of their way might I add) as I went to the hotel next door and got the concierge to have their limo driver bring me to the Home Depot parking lot our truck was in. Because I wouldn't let him leave the game entirely. It's once a year his team comes to town and I insisted he stay.
Afterwards he was furious with me and I can only assume his friends thought I was absolutely insane/high maintenance/selfish/whatever else. Disaster isn't a strong enough word. However, please understand, my husband has been through this with me for four years now. He struggled to believe the limitations his otherwise laid back, easy going wife had. It doesn't make sense that someone can't do simple, fun things. It defies logic and my husband is a very logical fellow.
It took me another two years to find my panic and anxiety cure. And if you've been paying attention you know that was due in one part to a brilliant psychiatrist and the rest was Rhonda Britten/Kripalu wellness and yoga center in western MA. It took me about fourteen years to get to a place where panic does not control me and I feel safe in my own head.
The physical body stuff I'm hoping and praying will be easier. Certainly less traumatic that's for sure. In about six months, I'll be 35. It's my goal to be lean and mean and ready to rumble! With like, muscles, and stuff. Today at weigh-in I was down 2.4 pounds. Go me!
It didn't happen by accident, but neither do most things. Call me Point Tracking Mama when you see me. And I will fight the urge to punch you in the face. I promise.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mini Meltdowns Happen

The reason posts like my last one exist is because there is

I've been working with kids since 1996 despite the fact that I went to Hartt for a degree in music management. The minute I graduated high school I got a job as a paraprofessional for a special needs child at summer camp. That kid was physically terrifying to me because he was insanely fragile, in a wheelchair, and had to be hand fed by me. So yeah, that was a quite the eye opener.

So when I write these blogs it is critical that I be clear in stating when I write it is from a place that's been 16 years in the making. Only now, at this point, do I feel like I've marinated enough to be serving my shit up on a platter.

I fear I may come across as negative or burnt out. That I may be crossing boundaries and someone could get offended and make my life miserable. That there could be backlash. Which is why, sometimes, I will write something, leave it up for a little while, then it may be deleted or removed from view. Not because it's a bad post but because first and foremost I have my practice and my clients to protect from any harm that could befall them. Like I've said, we live in a litigious society where people love to sue, harass, bully, and lash out at anyone they perceive to be a threat to them.

If anything, I'm writing this stuff to help me process events that have happened, that I've witnessed or been a part of. Some of those events were all me and my doing. Others were seen from the sideline. Either way, they are etched into my brain and become almost PTSD-like in the reactions they bring out in me. Trauma, in a nutshell, is a domino effect. Seeing something that in some way reminds you consciously or unconsciously of past events that caused harm or pain.

So please know that I in no way, shape, or form mean anyone harm ever. I may seem to hate some people but my truth is that when people wildly overreact, lash out, flip their switch, become raging assholes etc, it is because they are coming from a place of fear. And every single one of us is capable of being swept away by fear if we do not have the knowledge and insight to recognize it when it's happening. I went 34 years without knowing the truth about how fear driven I was. Fear kept me on the couch eating chocolate and gaining weight for the past five years. It kept me from enjoying my life as I allowed the belief that I don't deserve anything good because I am a colossal failure for 14 years.

Fourteen. Years.

And then...I took a chance and went to figure some shit out. I went by myself to a wellness center called Kripalu in Western Mass and took a seminar with an amazing human being who is the expert in fear. Rhonda Britten is her name and if you're curious, Google her and check out her story. It is amazing, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

She gave me the tools to recognize my truth and to fight back against the voice in my head whispering so quietly I had never heard it before: "You don't deserve this! You're shit! You suck! You ruin everything!"

She also freed me to find my truth which in my case, is pretty simple: Every single one of us has pain. Every single person you walk by, drive by, flip the bird to in traffic, buy your coffee from, whatever; every single one of them has a story. I have the best job in the world because I get to meet and know people who would never cross my path any other way. I get to see people for their truth. Exposed and vulnerable so I know, without doubt, every human being does the best they can with what they've got.
Even when they're hurting others, being selfish/narcissistic, making bad decisions...they're really just trying to manage their fear and they don't have the tools to do it with.

So I guess Michael Stipe was on to something with the whole, "Everybody Hurts" song. I feel you buddy, I do. I'm just like, not gonna shave my head mmkay?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fifty Shades of Lady Porn

I'm not going to pretend like I didn't love those freaking books. Reading them I felt like I was doing something risque and quite possibly naughty. Hence the name, Lady Porn.
I've seen my fair share of actual porn and let me tell you, that stuff sucks for women. On what planet am I supposed to be turned on by watching a skinny, probably coked-out woman with daddy issues take it up the pooper? And even the porn intended for women audiences is a joke. Know what they do in those? Talk more. Great. Now Skinny McIssues is an actress. No.
Books, however, allow me to use my imagination and conveniently skip parts I'm not down with. I can edit to my hearts content and never, ever, have to see anybody's bleached butthole.
Thank you, E.L. James.
The thing I take exception to in this series, as with virtually every other romance writer I've ever read, is the female lead. Anastasia Steele's personality in general is enjoyable. She's kind of funny and possibly schizophrenic as she often hears voices in the form of her Inner Goddess and Subconscious.
It's the body image stuff I struggle with.
With Anastasia Steele for the first time in my reading experience, the woman admits she likes being extra skinny. She likes the leanness of her body when she doesn't eat enough and exercises too much (albeit in the form of near-constant orgasmic intercourse). Throughout the books the male lead, Christian, is constantly telling her to eat. He even puts it in the initial contract that he has his submissives sign. The sub is required to eat three meals a day, no snacking, and by the way, work out with his personal trainer. Weight gain is not allowed.
At one point Ana gains maybe four pounds, Christian points it out to her in a positive way as in "I like your curves" but she is offended and vows not to eat the rest of the day. REALLY?
Look, I'm all for romance and kinky fuckery but I'm not cool with borderline anorexia.
Anastasia is not only skinny to the point of being bony, I am also supposed to believe she is tragically klutzy but I will allow that given this was originally Twilight fan fiction therefore the characters are inspired by that series. Which I also lurve. Sparkly vampires? Yes please!
But seriously, women (and men) have enough pressure on them to be beautiful. And in our culture you are not allowed to be considered beautiful if you aren't thin. Really thin. If someone could please write me a novel (or series of dirty lady porn books, whatevs) where the heroine is like, a size 8 or 10, that would be great. Because I'm never going to be skinny to the point of size 0. And by the way, most of us look awful when our entire skeleton is on display. I don't need to be able to see where you broke your clavicle when you were nine. Let's have a little mystery. Please.
Otherwise two thumbs up for Fifty Shades!

-Anyone out there have questions or comments about Fifty? Bring it! Or if you have any questions for me or things you want to hear me rant about, by all means, bring it on!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Awkward Girl

The way I see things is often different than the way the people in my life do. Of course, I'm always right. Remember that and we'll be okay. I was a pretty normal kid/teenager I'd say. Except for debilitating shyness as a child that somewhat improved over time then morphed into social anxiety disorder followed by general anxiety disorder then, to cap it all off, a champion panic disorder.. As in, by the time I was 25 I learned to speak up for myself but even then I still had social anxiety and a panic disorder so it's not like anything magically happened to make me want to be outspoken.
That shyness alone makes me realize when I look back how much I could have benefited from a therapist as a kid, teen, or even a tween.
Looking back it's odd to me that my parents probably never thought to send me to a therapist. When I say I had debilitating shyness throughout elementary, middle, and a good chunk of high school I mean I did not speak to anyone I wasn't friends with (and even around friends I was pretty quiet). I didn't raise my hand in class even though I knew the answers. I didn't volunteer to be group leader (ever), and I most certainly didn't know what to do with boys. I suspect my parents didn't realize the extent of this because at home I was loud and obnoxious, I fought with my siblings and I fought with them. But at large family functions I would often bring a book and just read instead of participating in the group fun a big family provides. Even in elementary school I would hide behind a book during free time in class and had I been given the choice, would have skipped my most hated and feared time of day -recess- to read by myself.
I have a very clear memory of my fourth grade teacher on several occasions having to call me to join the line after it was fully formed because I had been so deep in my book I didn't hear, see, or notice the whole class lining up for lunch or art or whatever. My fourth grade teacher thought my reading was cool and funny. He actually said I was his pick for the funniest kid in class based on my facial expressions which, to this day, give me away. I seriously cannot lie. My face won't let me.
Fast forward to middle/high school. Class presentations were absolutely horrifying for me. I believe it was my sixth grade social studies teacher who insisted upon oral presentations being given for a major grade in front of the entire class. I was totally screwed because 1) My parents had bought me high-top Reebok sneakers for basketball because I kept twisting my ankle, and 2) Those sneakers were leather and they squeaked like it was their freaking job. Humiliating. I had to stand in front of the class with my squeaky sneakers attempting to give a report about some country I cannot recall, and basically fail the stupid presentation because all I wanted was for it to be over and screw the grade
The list of examples is endless. I'm pretty sure a super dreamy popular guy tried to ask me to the homecoming dance in high school but he had a female friend who I found terrifyingly beautiful and intimidating try to bring it up to me in French class where I was already freaked out about having to work with both of them. She asked what kind of guy I would go to the dance with and if her friend was my type. To me that sounded like, You are so weird (I suspect I may have had Manic Panic Vampire Red hair at the time. Maybe? I was a wee alterna-teen after all).  You are so uncool we can't even imagine what kind of guy you would go to a dance with and you are certainly not good enough to even look at this boy because we will mock you if you even think about it.
So naturally I froze, eventually managed to say No. Nope. I would not go to the dance with him or anyone like him.
Um...looking back on that I really hope I didn't scar that kid for life with my awkwardness. When I say debilitating shyness I am not kidding. This continued throughout college and even through my internship at Sony Music (Columbia, Epic Records mainly). I liked my internship a lot but hated the extreme extroversion required to make it in that business. Therefore I got a degree in music business that I had absolutely no desire to use. Luckily, that turned out to be okay. Phew.
I guess my point with all this is that you don't actually have to be mentally ill to benefit from having a therapist. If nothing else, a therapist's office can be a place to actually stop and reflect on what is going on in your life at any given moment. It forces us to examine ourselves, our family, friends, relationships etc. and actually notice what the hell is going on. In today's world we are inundated with things to do, places to go, Facebooks to update, pictures to tag, work, school, house, kids, shopping, money, sex, television, Words With Friends, illness, wellness, food....
Sometimes taking one hour out of your week or even your month, to stop and notice your life, is all you need to ensure you're not missing something. Sometimes all it really takes is for a kid to have an outlet they can hear and learn from without the baggage of it coming from mom or dad. I sure could have benefited from having someone tell me my input mattered, what I had to say or think was of substance and that speaking up may be risky but staying quiet keeps you stuck.