Wow, ok.

Welp, that escalated quickly. I’m coming to you from my dining room table which has become a sort of weird self-isolation command center: work space, school space, puzzle I’m never going to actually finish space, and other random detritus that gives me anxiety to even look at. I’m not a cluttered dining room table person, and quite frankly, this is just more stress I don’t need right now. Fucking social distancing.

We’re on day 4, and I don’t know about you, but life over here is pure lawlessness. I’m wearing jeans that I’ve had on since like Sunday, trying to work (and by work, I mean transfer my entire service area over to a remote model), educate my kid, keep my dog exercised, and keep the house quiet so my husband can also deal with 1,000 conference calls. I’ve never felt more in control! *cries, stuffs Oreos/english muffins/pretzels/string cheese/Dots in mouth*

Here’s a true illustration of how it’s going: yesterday, Andy and I both had to be on important calls simultaneously, so I tried setting D up with some art to keep him busy. As is his norm, he flew through it in 10 minutes, and began whining and flinging himself all over the sofa for attention, while I muted my phone and hissed violently at him to be quiet. The call I was on was full of feedback/static and everyone kept talking at the same time, which was enraging me, and then! THEN. The dog started throwing up. And then D started dry-heaving, and I just started in disbelief that my life has taken this turn so rapidly. I mean, WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? So, I sat for another 45 minutes on this call, angry, staring at piles of rapidly cooling dog puke in my living room that I could do nothing about. How’s it going at your house?

For real, though, this is weird, right? I keep vacillating between “This is fine, we can do this” and “Holy shit, this doesn’t have an end date, and I’m going to be stuck at home for the rest of my life.” Anyone that knows me, knows that the idea of being “caged” in by anything really, really doesn’t sit well with me.

Today’s a good day for me, but honestly, most days I am scared and deeply unsettled. About all the same things you are: the economy, the social isolation, the illness, the long-term effects of all this. I’m pissed at the lack of testing, the lack of sound guidance and leadership from the shithead pretending to be president, the countless people on social media who keep spreading misinformation as fact, in that angry, grammatically-inept, misspelled, racist way they have. I’m worried about D’s lack of interaction and opportunities to play with other children. About how I structure his days to ensure that he completes his educational responsibilities and meets expected outcomes, while I also try to work. And for real-if the weather turns and we start getting days on end of rain, shit’s going to get VERY dark over here. My one saving grace is being outside multiple times a day, getting to take walks.

But! All of this aside, I see some benefits in what we’re living through:

-People are waking up to the way they live, in terms of sustainability, destruction, waste and mindlessness. This very much includes me.

-I have witnessed so much generosity and kindness between people, and things that have been created to help people feel less isolated. People are realizing we all belong to each other. I wrote on social media the other night about how bad I was feeling, and my friend Sean took the time to do a meditation with me over FB Live. Not only did the meditation itself help, but I came away feeling less lonely and disconnected from others. Sean, if you’re reading this, I hope you know how much you impacted me with your kindness.

-My dog is getting WAY more exercise.

-I am getting WAY more exercise.

And the big one: it’s been a huge lesson in gratitude.

As I look around at all the mindless hoarding occurring, the isolation so many people are facing, the health complications that people face that makes this deadly for them, I realized with renewed sense that I am SO lucky. We have enough food, and the ability to get more whenever we need it. We have a warm, cozy home to stay in. I have love-my husband and son, and my friends. I have technology to call those friends and see their beautiful faces smiling back at me. But with all that, I (and so many others) are responsible to lighten the load for others. So, I sincerely hope that everyone out there that can, is helping out: your neighbors, your local businesses, the children in your community. Even just a phone call can change someone’s day right now.

I know that we are just at the beginning of all this, so I want us all to connect: tell me how you’re experiencing all this-leave a comment here, or on social media. Let’s talk, and share, and love.

The stories we tell ourselves.

In the work I’m doing to heal and grow, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-narrative. You know, the story you tell yourself about who you are, how the world sees you, and what you’re capable of. The things you just accept as fact about yourself. Of course, this is great when that narrative is affirming, but what about all the other things we tell ourselves, that aren’t so great?

I’m reading a book now called Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, by Tara Schuster and in it, Schuster calls this narrative “the frenemy within.”  It’s that voice that tells you all the shitty things you come to believe about yourself-you’re lazy, undeserving, incapable, and so on, and how mindlessly we just absorb it all as gospel, shrinking ourselves from our full potential and ability to achieve the goals we have. That gave me pause. Do I do that? LOL, you sure as hell do!

So I got up this morning to journal (another Schuster strategy) before the day started, and explored this a bit further. I wrote down all the stories I tell myself about who I am…and it wasn’t great. I have terrible internal narratives about:

-my ambition/initiative/work success

-my parenting abilities

-my relationships

-my appearance

-my personality

Then I further broke each down, and looked at the root of my self-perceptions. And objectively speaking, nothing is rooted in undeniable fact. They’re rooted in societal norms, me taking things personally that are not personal whatsoever (another thing I need to work on), and my history: my childhood, traumas I’ve experienced, things I’ve witnessed other people experience, my struggles with anxiety.

After last week’s post, I got a lot of messages from people saying how much my experiences resonated with where they are in life, too. So, if that’s the case for you, I urge you to reflect on your self-narrative and try breaking it down: think about what you to believe to be true about yourself that isn’t positive or serving you, and then take some time to dissect it. Why do you hold those thoughts? How is it affecting your life, your plans, your goals? I think it might surprise you, how much you’re holding yourself back.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hobble back to the sofa to ice my lower back, since I injured it last night by STANDING UP FROM A CHAIR. #foreveryoung

Love you, bbs.

Where did I go?

Almost 4 years. That’s the last time I wrote. The last time I did something I have loved doing my entire life. While we’re at it, I haven’t removed my camera from its bag in years, either. There are so many things like this that I’m discovering lately, as the realization sinks in that I seem to have lost myself. I don’t know what happened, or how to get back to that place.

I’ve slowly taken up a meditation practice over the past 4 months, and it’s been eye-opening, in terms of really examining myself and my life from all angles. The realization that I’ve been on this weird auto-pilot, while also feeling extremely unfulfilled and lost. I look in the mirror, and I don’t recognize myself- physically (which is another source of inner turmoil) or spiritually…my eyes have lost their light. While there is part of me that is grateful to be seeing myself more clearly, I have to say…it’s really, really painful and uncomfortable. And I can’t get away from it.

Like all women, I give a lot of myself away, all the time. My career, my marriage, parenthood, community obligations, you name it-it sucks me dry. Until now, I haven’t been able to name it. I am frequently angry, impatient, sad, and exhausted. And guilty-all the time, for seemingly everything. For thinking I should be taking on more at work to demonstrate my readiness for new opportunities, for making lazy dinners instead of an IG-worthy meal (that’s also organic!), for not playing a bit longer with D, for the food I put in my mouth and the exercise I don’t do, for going up to bed early to read before I sleep,  because I could be spending that time with A, for not giving my hair a full blowout in the morning, opting instead to tie it up on my head. And a million more things I can’t articulate. It looms.

Why do we do this to ourselves? More accurately, why do we allow societal constraints, media, and expectations to tell us that there is only one way to live: to do it all, to be everything to everyone, and do so with a smile on your face. Don’t be angry, don’t be difficult, don’t complain, don’t cry, don’t be too much. Be agreeable. Think of everyone else! Don’t be selfish. THEY NEED YOU.

It makes me want to run. And I’m confused by these feelings, because I have so much to be grateful for: a husband who supports me in all things, and lifts as many burdens from my shoulders as he can (while also making me laugh), a son who is brilliant, funny, kind, and open-hearted; friends who are the truest definition of family, for me. I’m healthy, my people are healthy, I have a home, a job, food to eat, access to healthcare.

What I’m discovering is, these aren’t feelings of wanting more…they are feelings of wanting less. Less pressure, less fast-paced expectation, less social media, less horrible news bombarding me around the clock from this dumpster fire of an administration,less DO DO DO. Less time constraint. Less guilt. Less of all these things to make room for real abundance: time, love, nature, mindfulness, patience, nourishment in all its forms, and joy. The way I measure success is changing, and I need to change with it.

So, I’m making some commitments to myself, and you:

– write at least once a week

-carve out time everyday for myself, to do something that lifts me up

-continue working on establishing boundaries for my own well-being

-name the things I need, to the people I love

With that, welcome back to this space. I’ve missed you.

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Colin Kaepernick doesn’t owe white people a defense of his actions.

I’ve been having some real disaster social-media conversations with people over the past few weeks, regarding race and privilege in the United States. The term “white privilege” has become the dirtiest phrase out there, among so many white dudes (and let’s face it, it’s usually dudes) who bristle at the slightest suggestion that yes, they are in fact privileged, despite not having an excess of wealth. As much as it makes my eyes involuntarily roll….I kind of get it. I mean, don’t mistake me, I think they’re totally wrong, but I grew up in an environment where this sort of mindset was the norm. And if you don’t take the step towards the uncomfortable, necessary education that these issues require, you remain stuck in that space. And it’s a space that has never seemed OK to me.


Jokes with racist connotations, inflammatory words and phrases, the general expectation that dating a person of color was not OK, the assumption that black people were entitled, aggressive, lazy, that black men were predatory, and thus, to be feared. At home, at school, in the community-these things were part of the landscape, in one way or another. Compounding this, was that my community growing up was lily-white, conservative, and not well-educated, on the whole. The most “progressive” of those professed not to see color, which is, by all accounts, ridiculous and invalidating. It has always seemed so small-minded and silly, but I’d be lying if I said I never internalized a fair chunk of it. I did. And for that, I am ashamed. It appalls me to even write these things, but I do so from a place of humility, and from a place that recognizes that we all need to get real, and face facts regarding our own biases and values and inclinations. Because, I promise you, they are there. Dig a little.

 I have had a long road to getting where I am, and I still have a million miles to go in my education and understanding of racial inequality and privilege, in this country. And for that reason, I talk about it. A lot. I engage in those HORRIBLE “debates” on social media, that sometimes devolve into me being threatened with physical or sexual violence. I ask questions. But I shut up and listen when a person of color is talking. Please, for the love of God, stop saying “But I’m not that sort of white person.” On some level, we are ALL that sort of white person. It is not up to us to determine the narratives of other communities. People who disagree  call me condescending or suggest that I labor under the impression that I have all the answers. On the contrary, I have these discussions and allow myself to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of knowledge (even if it brings up parts of myself that make me embarrassed to confront) because I have learned enough to know that I don’t know shit. And it’s my responsibility, as a white person, to educate myself, wherever and whenever possible. To recognize that my experiences and opinions are limited, and finite. And it is certainly not the responsibility of the oppressed to soothe our feelings about these issues, or to feel obligated to educate us-you gotta do the work, my friends. We all do. 

 I want to touch on the Colin Kaepernick situation as I wrap up, because it’s causing a lot of strong feelings, from various points on the spectrum. And I’m going to break it down for you like this: that flag, that anthem? Yes, it does represent the sacrifice made for freedom…and one of those freedoms is peaceful protest. Also, you don’t get to yell and scream about black people protesting “aggressively”, but then decide that Kaepernick’s silent approach isn’t acceptable. You can’t have it both ways. It is not, and has never been, the role of white people to tell communities of color what they should and should not be troubled by, and how to handle that frustration….but it sure as hell hasn’t stopped them from trying, anyway. Just like with the people in our lives, we can love our country, flaws and all, and still expect better of it. CK’s position of power and privilege as a wealthy athlete isn’t a notch against him-it’s his responsibility to use his influence and convictions to raise others up. Privilege is not something to be ashamed of; rather, the critical action is to have an awareness of it, and utilize it to act in solidarity with others. And I commend Kaepernick for doing just that.


This article can also be found on the Huffington Post, here: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_57c7ae11e4b06c750dd8ba2f

I’m done hating my body.

I remember the exact moment I began to wage a war on my body, one that would last almost 30 years. I was around 8, and I was jumping off the pool deck into the water at my parent’s house, with my brothers and sister. Drinking in summer’s delights in the way that only small children truly can. I was wearing a rainbow bathing suit, with black “paint splatters” over it, with a giant circular cutout at the belly, a tiny little ruffly skirt underneath it. I LOVED that bathing suit. My mom was sitting there, and turned me to her. She patted my stomach and said, “You better be careful. You’re getting thick in the belly.” She really didn’t mean anything by it-she was raised in a family of incredibly vain Italian women, who constantly commented on appearance. Nonetheless, it stung. It was the first time I recall ever feeling like something about me was defective.

On top of that, I developed breasts at a really young age. I was wearing a bra in the third grade, and I remember wearing a white shirt to school one day, and this boy, Brian, teased me about the fact that he could see my bra through my shirt. I still will not wear white shirts, at 35. My chest became a part of “me” by high school, in that it was a way people identified me: “big tits”,I think, was the phrase I heard uttered most. I tilted my spine inward in an attempt to shrink them, shrink myself. Looking back at photos of myself when I was 16 or 17, it was evident that I had a body that belonged to an adult-it was a common topic of conversation, particularly among the boys I counted amongst my friends. I knew I was supposed to just laugh along, accept it as some sort of compliment. It never felt like one-it felt like a liability. I know now that it was a liability.

As women, our bodies are ALWAYS liabilities. You’re too fat, too thin, too busty (and likely a slut), too flat, too tall, too hairy, too masculine. Our bodies are public domain for comment, for possession, for violation. Leers, comments, touches, judgments.  I remember squatting down at my locker in high school when I was a junior, and my then-boyfriend came up behind me, yanking the waistband of my jeans up, propelling me forward into my locker. “Pull up your pants. I can see your underwear-you look like a slut.” It seems enraging to me now, almost laughable if not so sad, but at the time, I believed him. I thought I did something wrong. Again, shame.

Into adulthood, I became less active and more heavy. For the past 15 years, I have swung so widely, weight wise: there is almost a 90 lb. difference between my lightest and heaviest. Reproductive and endocrine disorders have continuously conspired to make this even more difficult. The problem is, I have always felt huge, a massive distortion from what is acceptable. No matter what size I am. Thick in the middle, as my mom said. I feel invisible and overexposed, at the same time. I lay in bed at night, running my hands over the soft flesh of my abdomen, avoiding the extra fat on my thighs and arms with my eyes,  disgusted by it. As a freshman in college, I noticed a series of tiny, silver stretch marks running along the part of my arm where it meets my chest, and I felt utter horror. Meanwhile, this discovery happened in the midst of an idle moment of a volleyball game, one where my strong, capable body was performing well. But all I really saw, were those marks. Marks that shamed me. The shame I have always felt from my body has felt as normal as a body part-it’s a part of me.

But, I’m tired of feeling bad about my body. My body has carried me through so much in life-a successful athletic career as a teenager, sustained me during times of deep sadness and stress that I thought would overtake me, and perhaps the most incredible of all-it sustained a pregnancy that doctors said would never happen, and delivered the most beautiful boy into my life. Those breasts I hated so much? They provided my child’s nourishment for 15 months, helping him grow strong, into the beautiful little boy he is now. It carried me through the crushing blow of my mother’s death while simultaneously bringing that little boy into the world. While everything around me felt like it was crumbling into dust, I felt so much confidence in my what my body is capable of.

And over these past few years, I’ve become less and less interested in quantifying my worth by my pants size, my weight, my belief in an unrealistic ideal. I am kind and funny and accomplished in my work, smart and driven and eternally optimistic about the future and the goodness of people. Who the fuck cares if my pants aren’t a size 6? I’m tired of chasing one-dimensional concepts of what I think will make me content. I am enough, just as I am. Beautifully crafted at my core.

It’s hard for me to expose these things about myself, but I want other people to stop hating their bodies, too. And in order to do that, we need to stop feeling so isolated and shut out by it. The garbage we are fed by the culture and the patriarchy about what about bodies should be, and the bogus value assigned to it, are never going to stop, unless we force it. So, for anyone who has ever thought, “Things will be better once I lose weight, I will be better when I lose weight”…I’m with you. I AM you. And I promise you, you are enough. 

Armchair activism doesn’t stop rape.

By now, everyone has heard about the reprehensible sexual assault that took place at Stanford by Brock Turner, a 20 year old student athlete, who was convicted and sentenced to a mere six months in jail for his crime. This alone caused an outcry, and then his father, seemingly the most tone-deaf individual on the planet, wrote a letter defending his son, and lamenting the mental and emotional toll his ’20 minutes of action’ and their consequences have had on him. As someone who has experienced sexual assault, and as a human being in general, this story has made me ill. It’s made a lot of people ill-everyone has been talking in depth about it across social media, sharing their strong reactions to the heinous act, as well as the abdication of justice, with Turner being given such a short sentence. Good, I thought. People need to be talking about these things. And then I came across a blog post that I am assuming has gone viral, as many of my friends have reposted it. It’s titled “We With the Pitchforks”-you can read it here.

I share in the author’s frustration, as well as those who re-posted it. And a large part of me agrees with every single word written. But, there is something about the angry mob mentality that just seems counterproductive to me.I say this not out of defense for Turner…he doesn’t deserve defense. He’s dug his own grave, and this will follow him for the rest of his days, both personally and professionally, as it should. I say this out of a pure desire to want better for us, as a society. Armchair activism so easy, in the age of social media. It’s easy to share a blog post on social media, it’s easy to rant about it over a dinner party (and these are all things I’ve done, about a myriad of issues, myself). What’s not easy, though, is to change the culture of rape that we’ve so blindly allowed for far too long. This happens every single day, across the world. Fighting a hateful act with more hate is not the answer. Filling the world with the righteous courage necessary to act up against the institutions and systems that treat these crimes as permissible, is. And it’s not just about sexual assault-it’s about all forms of gendered inequities and violence.

My point is, by all means, share information…but share productive information. Share statistics on the prevalence of assault across the country. If you know someone who is willing to share their own story of assault, help them put it out into the world. Learn about rape crisis programs in your area, and support them, whether financially, or through interfacing with your legislators about the importance of these services. Stop teaching little girls and women that it is THEIR responsibility to avoid being raped, and start creating the expectation for boys and men NOT TO RAPE. Stop laughing at jokes about gender stereotypes, or sexual assault, or feminism. It’s not all in good fun. It creates an environment of acceptability, and of women being lesser than whole. If you’re a dad or uncle or any other man with a special child in your life, model how to respect and speak about and equitably interact with women. I promise you, they are ALL watching. Challenge your own beliefs and values (you too, women, because we all internalize it) on relationships and interactions between men and women, and how we view “roles.”

Let’s create a world where the Brock Turners fade into the ether, a bad dream, and where women can move freely without the threat of violation.

Defining death. To a child.

I love words. I love reading and writing and hearing peoples’ stories, and telling them, myself. Anyone who knows me will freely say that I’m not often at a loss for words. I’m finding, though, that as a parent of a nearly three-year-old child,  attempts to describe or define the meaning of words and actions often leave me without the means to accurately convey a concept. To be sure, some of it is developmental; small children are not the most abstract thinkers. But beyond that, there’s a desire to shield him from the ugliness of the world, at least for now, while still making good on my values to raise him in honesty and reality.

As we walked through the cemetery in our neighborhood yesterday afternoon, I thought of my mom, as I often do, and that I should visit her grave. It’s been awhile; I have a hard time ascribing meaning to that space. I asked D if he wanted to visit Grandma Patti’s cemetery, and he said yes. He immediately started chattering as we walked home, about seeing her, bringing her some of the chocolate strawberries his dad had made for me the day before. We talk to him about my mom a lot, show him photos, tell him stories, to help him understand her importance in our lives. It broke my heart to listen to him, knowing that I needed to try to explain the reality of the situation.

We got to her grave, and he smiled, recognizing my mom and dad on the etching in the headstone. “Is Papa Steve coming here, too?” he asked. I told him no. A car pulled up, and he stood, wondering aloud if that was Grandma Patti. He really believed he was going to see her. I took a breath, and asked him to sit with me. I said, “Grandma Patti isn’t with us anymore.”He asked where she was. Knowing that he attends church with his other papa, I tried to use terms that he might have some concept of; “She’s an angel now. She’s all around us. She watches us.” He just looked at me. I finally decided to try to level with him, as leveling with a three year old is always the smart choice (ha ha). I said, “Honey, Grandma was really sick. There was something in her body that made her very, very sick, and it made her heart stop working. We need our hearts to live-so we can breathe, and play, and be with other people. She can’t do those things anymore. Her body didn’t work, and now it’s here, in this ground, to be kept safe. This big stone helps people to remember who she was, and lets us come visit her and think about her.” The entire time, I kept telling myself to stop talking, to stop being so pseudo-biological and blunt about it.

He listened, looking at the ground and running his fingers through the thick grass around him. “She’s in heaven?” he said. “Yes, baby.” “Oh.” For a moment, he looked like he might start crying, and I regretted all of it. Enough of us had shed tears over her loss, and I didn’t want him to take on that burden. Not yet. He never even got to know her, just being held by her once, when he was three days old. And then she was gone. But, I think he understood, as much as his three year old abilities would permit him. “You miss your mommy, Mom?” I blinked back tears. “Yes, I do.” He gave me a little smile.

We started to get up to leave, and I said my goodbyes aloud to my mom. He followed my lead, and said, “Bye, Grandma Patti. I love you and miss you. The doctors will come and fix your heart to work again, and you will come back to life”, blowing her a kiss. More blinked-back tears. That innocence over the permanence of death, the desire to make someone else feel better, made me both incredibly sad and happy at the same time. He’s trying to understand how others feel, while learning to manage his own emotions within those contexts. That’s a hard thing, something that most of us struggle with well into adulthood.

As I drove home, him watching a show on my phone, I thought about what happened. Maybe it was OK that I shared what I did; after all, life does not exist within an absence of conflict and sadness. I want him to grow with the understanding that it’s OK to display emotion, to communicate pain in a constructive manner. Maybe he can’t really grasp the concept of death, but he can understand sadness and hurt and love. Something that my mom instilled in us was empathy, and to truly see people and their complexities, even if they aren’t on full display. This experience with D yesterday made me hope that perhaps I am starting to lay the same foundation for him, to help him intuit what is in other people’s hearts, even if he can’t fully know what has hurt them.