“How did I get out of your belly? asked my 4 yr old. My answer was to keep it real…(but not too real).

This is my post Mother’s Day ode to awkward questions. Enjoy!

I have a few friends that believe that there is this time in a child’s life where the spiritual veil is very thin & they can recall where they were before they were in your body.  Like heaven, or a past life, you know stuff like that.

It’s something like before a child becomes 3 yrs old, you can ask them “where were you before mommy’s belly?” & they will give you insight to the “other side”. I dig that kind of stuff so before Sol’s third birthday I asked Sol…she said she was “swimming around…with whales”.

Hmmm, kinda sceptical but it could be possible, right?  So maybe I birthed a baby that was a scuba diver in a past life, or…a whale.  Anyway, fast forward she is now 4 & 1/2 we are all sitting around the table having dinner & she was talking about my belly, as it sometimes comes up, asking questions like: “Why is it so big?” (Too many carbs),  “Why is it so squishy?” (Again, too many carbs) & she goes on to share how she used to be in there but wanted to come out. The story usually stops there.

Then she looked at me & asked…”how did I get out?”. Jemar gave me the nervous side eye.  I’m not sure he totally loves my radically honest parenting approach & would much rather I tell of a stork that magically flew the air & delivered right to our doorstep but whatever…I said, “I pushed you out.”

I was hoping to leave it at that, so I simply  continued sucking the bone of my lamb chop.

But she really looked kind of disturbed & said “like how?”

Hmmm….what…to…say…now?

So I said, “like this” scrunched my face and grunted as I beared down, lamb chop in hand.

Confused she was.

So she asked, “like going doody?”

& I said “yup, exactly like going doody.” Which isn’t a lie…really.

I do have a confession though. She did ask how she got in there, & I lied a tiny bit…I told her the same confusing thing my mom used to tell me (and now I know why) “it was a miracle, God oversees all miracles”…but thats not a total lie either.

Oh dear, how is it that I’m turning into my mother?!

& double oh dear. What will Sol ask next?

Positive Signs: Why I do my best to ‘make like a proton’ in these crazy times & why maybe you should too.

At the Science March here in DC the nerds and all around science lovers showed up in droves with their ingenious science-y signs in tow. There were some good ones such as “It’s getting hot in here” with the earth sweating, & Yoda in a tree stating “May the Forest Be With You”.  Some signs were so math-y they went way over my head, but the one that really got me thinking was “Make Like a Proton and Stay Positive”.

Why?

Because ‘staying positive’ can be extremely challenging in these bat-shit-crazy times. Many of our core beliefs, values, and morals are being challenged, dismissed, and completely disrespected…on a daily basis. As you may have discovered swatting that grey rain cloud away from the top of your head is about as easy as Pigpen ditching his dust cloud…not very.

Positivity & Perspective is 90% of everything.  What you choose to focus on MAGNIFIES. I have long been an advocate for Brain Science and Cognitive Psychology.  Mindfulness  is the practice of being aware of ones, thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the present moment.  Studies have proven how Mindfulness can literally change your brain , and is highly effective in treating depression, pain, anger, and addictions (to name a few). I’m not going to get deep into it in this post but click the links if your interested in knowing more.

Mindfulness and positivity used together can be like a 1-2-punch combo to combat the news blues.  Beautifully illustrated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stating,  “I have decided to stick to love…hate is too great a burden to bear”.

So here’s a personal example, I have been feeling down about current events.  In order to manage my energy I go on walkabouts where I practice mindful awareness on anything I see that I perceive as sweet, funny, or beautiful.  I find this highly effective in transforming funky energy, especially when the news has been very negative. This week I focused literally on ‘positive signs’.  Signs I saw in people’s yards, and in cafes around the neighborhood.  I allowed myself to be grateful that they were there projecting all that positivity into the neighborhood, and into the world.

I choose to try my best to “make like a proton” because my mental health depends on it, because there’s not much I can do to change anyone else’s behavior, & because it’s something I can do that I actually have control over.  Why should you? Because it’s scientifically proven to be effective, because if you don’t you may crack, deflate, go into unhealthy coping skills, rage out, and be crushed under the mountain of negativity that this world regularly delivers.  If you feel that you cannot be positive, please focus on someone who can… & allow yourself to be inspired…for what the brain observes it acts “as if” it’s doing itself. Brains are so cool that way.

With that said, I share some ‘positive signs’ I came across this week from my mindful neighborhood walkabouts. What do you choose to focus on this week? I hope you enjoy.

I’m not your bitch, bitch

In honor of National Poetry Month here’s a short one.

Stop asking me to fetch things, do work for you, dress up, smile pretty, play nice.

Constantly, constantly, constantly…then the nerve…ask for a hug.

Pshh!

No.

 I’m not. I won’t. I shan’t. 

I’m not your bitch, bitch.

So kiss my grits fo’ eva, cause I don’t give no kind of damn. 

The soil beneath my feet will get a closer look than you. As I strut off into the humid night. 

Booty eating my pants is all you’ll see. So memorize that. Bitch. 

I need rest.

I’m hungry. 

I’m angry.

I’m lonely. 

So come tuck me into bed, fetch me a sandwich, and leave me be. 

Tomorrow coin toss

 to see whose turn to be 

bitch 

next.

How To: Break Negative Cycles by using the HALT method 

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Ice Cube said it best, “You betta check yo’self before you wreck yo’self”.   He may, or may not, know… but this is also known as the HALT method.

The HALT method applies to anyone and everything, it’s easy to remember, and it really works. If you’re a human being experiencing any negative cycle, or are in any type of relationship…you need the HALT method. 

Use it with your child, parent, spouse, co-workers, family, friends, and use it when you are feeling triggered by anything that traps you in a negative cycle.   It’s one of the best life hack/insider tips I’ve got. It’s a tool I suggest to practically all of my clients for their self-care tool box & faithfully use myself. If you do nothing else to stop negative behavior cycle …do the HALT method. It will save you unnecessary heartache, pain, & regret. 

What is the HALT method?

It is the marriage of 2 integral parts of wellness: mindfulness and self-care.

Mindfulness & self-care are not just some woo-woo psychobabble trends, they are crucial to attracting, creating, & maintaining healthy loving relationships. Mindfulness & self care treat the root underlying causes of negative behavior cycles.  

“If you don’t know, now you know…”- The Notorious B.I.G.

Here’s how:

Whenever you are feeling any type of stress, anxiety, sadness, or depression…HALT.  (Literally).

This is where you “check yo’self”- Ask yourself these questions:

Am I: Hungry?Angry?Lonely?or Tired?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’…it is what must be dealt with first before you make any more decisions.

It’s that simple.

Don’t let the simplicity fool you, it’s a dangerous place to be when these basic needs are not met.  You become more susceptible to destructive behaviors, that you will later regret. This is where you can seriously “wreck yo’self”. Especially if you are short-tempered, dealing with an addiction, messing with something addictive, have an addictive personality, or if something in particular is ‘running your show’ i.e. making the rest of your life unmanageable.

Let me break it down further.

Hunger- Have you eaten? Wait, even better… have you eaten nourishing food? If not, your blood sugar could be bottoming out and you could be HANGRY.   You have no business entering into any conversation, or making any decisions at all while in a hungry state.  Being hungry makes you bleary minded.  Just stop. You must eat, preferably something filling, and hopefully on some scale nutritious, the point is go EAT.  It shocks me how many people “forget to eat”…who are these crazy people?! Well, I married one. I present subject A-my husband. He’s a sweet easy-going dude for the most part, but catch that guy before he has eaten and then be trapped in a car going someplace…with traffic…no, not me, you couldn’t pay me to do it. It gets argumentative and unbearable real quick, over anything.  Poor thing was just very out of touch with his body’s hunger cues.  However, since he began practicing HALT he now can clearly state (while hungry), “I’m hungry”, which is code for HALT. So then we know it’s time to stop talking, pull over, & get that guy a hamburger STAT! Then all is sweet & easy-going again. Yay us! Disaster diverted. We saved ourselves hours worth of arguments about things we’ll never remember, and God only knows how much wasted time on the silent treatment (really hate the silent treatment). We now can do all of this with just detecting hunger…and eating. Go eat!

Anger– It’s not just for rageaholics. Are you being extra snippy, short-tempered, annoyed, sarcastic, or the dreaded …passive aggressive?  These are all forms of anger.  If you are feeling any of these, you need to take time to figure out what is causing your anger. What is really bothering you?  Once you figure that out, then you can figure out what you need to do about it. But first…HALT. Acknowledge the anger, then devise your plan.  Maybe what’s making you angry is ‘running late’, and there you are sitting in mind numbing traffic stewing, ready to go off on the next innocent bystander in your path. Your plan then is to move into acceptance.  Acceptance is the key to serenity, (a little AA phrase that’s full of wisdom). Serenity is what we are all after…after all. So move it!

“You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside”-Heart of the Matter, Don Henley

Lonely- Ouch, this one hurts. (Mostly because I am often feeling this way myself). Do you need to connect with like-minded people? Do you feel isolated? Do you feel as if nobody truly understands you? Overwhelmed? HALT.  Then ask yourself “have I reached out to anyone lately?”  It may be time to tap into your support system.  Reach out to others that want to see you happy and healthy. Pick up the phone, call a friend, or schedule that much-needed therapy appointment.  Try a little DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) technique called ‘opposite action’- go outside, go to a coffee shop, or a park. Do the opposite of what you want to do, most likely it will do you a world of good, and help you to bust out of the funk of isolation.

Tired- This one seems super obvious…but it can easily go undetected and then take you down from behind.  You know the feeling, your running around doing errands, working, take care of everybody else, and/or doing things that generally don’t bring you any joy for most of your day.  This can steal the life out of you, and leave you lethargic.  Low energy is commonplace, and there many factors that contribute to it, lifestyle, lack of REM sleep, or improper diet to name a few.  HALT.  What do you need to do about this? Maybe you need to make an appointment to see your doctor to find out if there is any physiological/medical reason why, grab a coffee and keep it moving, cancel/rearrange something in your schedule so that you can rest, go to bed earlier, call in favors to your support system to help take something off of your plate if possible.  Schedule a time to re-charge.  Do it before you crash and burn, because being tired can really screw with your brain’s ability to function, and mess with your capacity to cope…with anything. Ask any new parent…or better yet deal with an overtired toddler (if you don’t have any kids then scratch your own eyes out b/c that’s basically what it feels like).  There’s a reason why sleep deprivation was used in Chinese torture, because it’s hell! Just find your way to rest, you’ll feel so much better if you do.

When you use HALT it creates         

S    p    a    c    e

(ahhh, breathe that in….)

and drives a powerful wedge between you and the reaction you don’t want to do.  It helps snap your brain out of automatic pilot which may be coming in for a crash landing.

It creates a  s  p  a  c  e   between reacting so that you can take your power back from the situation & actually consciously CHOOSE your response.

A wise facilitator of an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) group I took once said,  Response is part of the word Responsibility.  It is your responsibility to choose your responses wisely.  So again, your  power comes from consciously responding vs. reaching a breaking point and reacting.

In addition, if you are experiencing frequent negative cycles that share a common factor such as a specific behavior, drugs, or alcohol, you may have a serious addiction explore http://www.aa.org or http://www.na.org there are 12 step meetings for many types of addictions. So check yourself!

I really don’t know where I picked up the HALT method, maybe it was somewhere in the pile of self-help books I’ve read, at a 12 step meeting, or at a work training but it’s a tried & true gem.

Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem”- Lauryn Hill 

In conclusion, It’s a minefield out there ya’ll.  There are many things which trigger a negative cycle: stress, sadness, anxiety, & depression. So please…do yourself a favor & equipt yourself with HALT.  You can even do HALT(ED) add (Emotional, and Drugged/Drunk) on the end, for good measure. 

It will help you function as a better person, better all of your relationships by breaking negative cycles. Try it. Tell your momma & tell your friends, because sharing is caring. 

I’d love to hear from you regarding your experience with HALT, feel free to comment and share.

 

 

 

 

 

Unwelcomed surprise: Tears. Sol said this one thing that made me cry & no it’s not what you think…

Sol said this one thing to me, it immediately made me cry, and it’s not what you think.

My big feelings took me by surprise that day (like they usually do) and I just sighed in surrender to it.  I’ve been avoiding it for too, too long and it was now unavoidable. What she said uncovered a place within me, so tender, so sore, that was covered up with a thick callous built from years of neglect.  I’d rather forget. But today I was forced to remember, wiped my tears, and swallowed the huge ass frog in my throat…hard.  As she said to me,

From the book “Ada Twist, Scientist” by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts. The mom is super groovy, & the little girl Ada loves science.

with a happy sparkle in her eyes so glittery, and so innocent it was just…so pure…in her little chipette voice, “Mom, I hope I have science today…I love science!”  There it was.

I remember that feeling of loving science as a girl, and it brought fat hot tears to my eyes, and the surprise of giant knot in my throat was making me feel panicked because I wanted to reply, “Oh thats so, so wonderful, Soli Boli!”, but I didn’t because I could feel my voice was going to be all croaky & shaky. I also knew it would sound like a sad lie, and she would sniff out my phoniness in a hot second. I wanted to deflect in a  “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” way, like the great & powerful Oz…but no dice.  My soft cry baby self (who maybe makes an appearance but only once a year)  has reared her butt ugly cry face. Ew.

You see, I too loved science…once.

When I was in the 5th grade I had and orthodontist that I loved. He actually paid attention me. His office was modern and slick, always playing current music, had the best magazines in the waiting area, with a fish tank, and fun colorful art everywhere. He was cool & funny and spoke to me like a person, not just in a trying-to-impress-your-mom-because-she’s-standing-right-there kind of way. He made me feel interesting, and like what I said mattered. I loved visiting him to get my braces tightened, because it meant we had to travel to Massapequa which I felt was a swanky town in comparison to Central Islip where we lived. He drove a red corvette and my older sister was obsessed with Prince so I just thought that was everything.  Plus nobody in my neighborhood drove such a gorgeous car. I just knew that one day I would be dentist just like him. I pictured it all the time…I would have my own practice with fun art everywhere, treat kids like people, and drive a fancy car.  It was my go-to answer for years whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I said it with such confidence, “I’m going to be a dentist.” I had a strong vision of myself rolling up to my modern office in a heels, embodying the perfect mixture of fun, smart, and beautiful like I had always wanted to be. Yes, I was certain dentistry was for me.

I had a love affair with science then. I loved experiments, growing spores, dissecting frogs, making slates for a microscope, constellations, pollination, I especially loved learning about DNA and genetics. I was hot & heavy with science for a few years there in my youth.  Then it felt like out of nowhere, my love affair with science started suffering around 10th grade or so. I started barely pulling C’s & random D’s in biology… and then came chemistry and I was fully flunking because of the chemical components equations using math. I didn’t know science had anything to do with math.

I hated math.

I had been placed in remedial math classes since 8th grade. I could never recover from being placed in non-regents (remedial) math classes after that.  I didn’t understand what happened to me. I used to get great grades in Elementary school, and I particularly loved science. I never knew to ask for help, I slipped through the academic cracks, I truly believed that I was incapable. I never even challenged it. What a fucking shame.  I will never forget that pivotal moment when I met with my guidance counselor senior year and she dropped a bomb on me that I had never ever thought of until then…

I needed good grades in math and science to be a dentist.

The saddness I felt, the disappointment in myself, the unworthiness, the defeat. You might as well of told me I needed to hurry up and speak Chinese by tomorrow, because I believed right then & there, it was impossible for this girl to do that…no way…no how.  I made a solemn vow to myself never to love science again, never speak of it, because if I was too dumb to get good grades in math…and science had to do with math…I must be too dumb to be a dentist.

I concluded that I will never be a dentist.

I never spoke of wanting to be a dentist again…but I never forgot and certainly never grieved the loss of that dream.  Until now.  Standing in front of Sol the little girl who can’t wait for science…and I want her to love science, I want her to love math.  There are so many times in parenting where you feel like Forest Gump when he asks Jenny about his son by asking ‘Is he????” ….like me?? 

Sol, please don’t be like me! Please be good in math like your dad, so you can be any ol’ thing you want to be!

It changed the course of my life that false belief.  How do I undo all of the false beliefs in things that are not true?  Like most things the first step is acknowledgement.  So here I am acknowledging it, with a daughter who loves science, which triggers my grieving over lost dentistry dreams, knowing theres plenty more dumb things I believed, and a frog in my throat.

 

 

 

The truth about tampons: explained to a 4 yr old.

This is embarrassing but…this is the fruit bowl in our house.  Yes, there is fruit in there but there is also lots of other random shit such as: crayons, Sol’s inhaler thingy, a sharpie, a dried out piece of ginger, and a tampon.

Now this stuff is out of Sol’s reach but she’s been getting curious about helping me cook so she’s been up there with the step stool. “Mom, what’s this?” she asks while holding up the super plus tampon.

I felt totally unprepared…what the heck do I say? and with how much detail? How do I explain the menstrual cycle to a 4 year old?  This could get ugly and weird real quick.

In the 1 second I had to decide my next move I had a flashback…it was summer in the 80’s, I must have been 7 years old sitting on the floor of my leaf green carpet in my living room in Long Island.  My parents were sitting on our velvet brown floral couch, we were all watching People’s Court then a Summer’s Eve commercial came on.  It was for a douche, and I remember seeing the douche fill up with blue liquid.  I was wondering what all of that had to do with the girl running through the flowers? Did I need this? What was it for? I too wanted to run through flowers, would this liquid take me to a beautiful place?  Was it only for rich people? My older sister always alluded to things only ‘white girls did’ in an eyebrow raising way that I never understood…was this one of them? Was it something ‘slutty’? Couldn’t be…the woman in the commercial didn’t have tight pants on. At my 7 year old comprehension I thought something slutty had to do with having a “gap” between your legs….at least that’s what I heard my brother say a few times about the girl up the street when she wore tight pants. Anyway, I was stumped wondering why I couldn’t just figure it out? I wanted to know more.

I remember simply asking “what is that?” and looking behind me at my parents.  Their reaction has stuck with me for 30 plus years…they literally looked at each other in baffled silence, then slowly & silently looked back at the TV.  Crickets. No answer.  No acknowledgement that I was there, or had just spoke a word. Nothing. Nada.

I remember feeling instantly ashamed.  I felt like stupid girl asking another one of my stupid questions. Why couldn’t I just shut up and sit there with the blue liquid commercial watch it, and move on.  I felt like only smart people must know. Why couldn’t I figure out this blue liquid riddle??? Why? I remember that sinking feeling of concluding, I must be too dumb.

So guess what? I never did get an answer, because I never asked again.  And guess what? I really could have used a douche in my college years but guess what?  I DID NOT KNOW WHAT THE HELL ONE WAS.

Lame.

Anyways, after I snap out of my flashback, I’m looking at Sol, with the super plus tampon in her hand, a spatula in the other (as we were in mid cooking lesson of fried cauliflower rice)…and I just took a deep breath, tightened the lid on the coconut oil & went for it.

The simple truth.

I said, “that’s what some women use when their vaginas bleed” in my best no big deal casual voice. “It helps to keep their pants and underwear from getting bloody.” She looked down at her body with a furrowed brow and confusion as she was processing what I said. Then there was a pause that felt like forever…I could only hear my heartbeat and the sizzle of the pan.  “Will I have blood?” she asked, “Yes one day you will… when you get older… and I’ll teach you all about it before then”. I felt like all of a sudden like I’m just gonna totally go for it…so I added, “and how to take care of your body and your clothes when it happens.” I felt nervous, and I didn’t know why.  I felt like that dumb 7 yr old that maybe should have kept her mouth shut & just kept watching TV.  I held my breath waiting for her next question that could send me reeling, was it about penises? Oh man I’m def not ready for the penis question!

She simply said “oh”, and turned around to keep right on stirring our cauliflower fried rice.

Yeeeeeeeah! I felt like popping my collar, brushing my shoulder off, doing a few booty pops. I felt like I was a bad ass mammajamma raising another badass who will be the little girl at school that know’s what’s up. The real story about vaginas and how cool they are, not some stupid story that her parents made up to hush her up, or no information at all, and be the girl that hides her bloody underwear behind her bookshelf for a year (um yeah, that was me). What was so terrible about telling me the truth about my own body? F that.

Knowledge is power.

Parenting has forced me to remember old stories I packed away where I felt powerless.  It has also helped me reclaim my power, and give it back to my curious 7 year old self that just innocently wanted to know about the blue liquid…& in my head I do exactly what she needed to be done 30+ years ago.  I walk over, sit close to her, look her right in the eye and tell her “it’s called a douche, some women use it to wash their vaginas (although the vagina is an amazing self cleaning organ but I digress)… and no, girl you will never need one to run through a field of flowers you just need legs, now go.”