Why I’m saying ‘Hello’ to winter weight & ‘goodbye’ to caring! My mindful approach to feeling happier this winter.

Toasted Marshmallow milkshake cheers! & I enjoyed every last sip.

I don’t know about you but I’m experiencing major care fatigue. I feel like a wimp, and I have been hard on myself for not doing enough. I knew I needed to try something new because I am feeling numb & depleted. So I decided once the season changed to fall…to take the season off from caring.

Thats right, the whole autumn I will choose one thing that causes me much stress, grief, and self-loathing that I “cared too much” about and do something I would never in a million years do…consciously choose to not give a f*ck about it. Just gloriously relish in the freedom of completely letting all of that guilt and shame go.

You know what I’m giving up caring about??? Hating myself for holiday weight gain.

I woke up in September and decided I am going to blog about how I am mindfully going to gain weight this season and consciously free myself from any guilt, shame, self-hatred for doing so.  I officially have declared it will be an awesome decent into chub-ville!

Ever since I moved back to place with 4 seasons (man I miss Hawaii, and San Diego) I have been feeling the seasons really intensely.  In summer I’m on fire, peppy and hardcore on my workouts, then the chill in the air that signals Halloween in coming sends me into a downward spiral filled with bite sized snickers, fatigue, pale skin, and puffiness…all over.  I feel like a caterpillar in winter I just want to eat, eat, eat, sleep and dream of waking up beautiful in Spring. Yet, alas I only wake up with a sugar addiction, tight clothes, rough skin, and feeling terrible about myself.

Some famous thoughts I have when this happens is:

What is wrong with you?

You know better!

You are out of control.

How could you let this happen?

You are gross.

Get your shit together!!!

Sound familiar to anyone?  I know I’m not alone.

But this season I am DONE.  I don’t know if it’s the political climate these days, it’s been a helluva year, or the lack of nurturing friendships close by….I don’t know but I really feel so done. I need this sabbatical from caring for my survival.  In order for me to still care, have compassion, be empathetic I must unplug from it for a spell to re-fill my well.

I’m going to call it radical self-care.  Self care isn’t always getting your hair & nails did, and taking a luxurious bubble bath. Sometimes it’s about going to bed at 8pm, letting go of a toxic person, and forgiving yourself for not meeting your own impossible standards.

My thoughts were, hey, if holiday weight gain happens anyway why not conciously do it, and luxuriate in the experience of how it all happens, AND love myself throughout the process. I know…wild right? How could I make something that is deemed so ugly in our society as gaining weight a kind of spiritual experience???  It has been said that addiction is only looking for God in all the wrong places. Can God be in that Halloween bucket that my daughter brought home???? Well I ate the whole thing and I still couldn’t tell you, but it is the Sufi way to believe God is everywhere, so here we go…let’s see.

One problem, how was I going to do this without it just being about gorging on food aka binging?  So I created some ground rules.

  1. I will only over indulge for a season…which ends Dec 21 on the solstice, first day of winter.

2. I only will indulge in what I am truly craving, that means finally saying yes to that Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake I see on the menu but would never let myself have.

3. While I’m eating it I will fully experience it by giving it my full undivided attention.

4. I will express my gratitude for the experience.

4.  I decided that I was still going to work out 3x a week while conducting this experiment.

Why this is huge for me: I only shop at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I only cook grass-fed farm raised meats, no nitrates, no msg, no gmo, no preservatives, no coloring, wild caught seafood, I take probiotic, drink kombucha, use bone broth, only buy free range farm eggs & all organic produce and goodies.   I do not eat or buy bread or pasta, do not drink cow’s milk and stay away from cheese.  I have seen “Forks Over Knives”, “Super Size Me” and “What the Health”.  So let me just tell you what I have found out about myself since it has been over a month of eating whatever I wanted without cringing when I think of the place from which it came.

I have most definitely gained weight.  I have enjoyed almost everything I have eaten.  Yes…I have eaten and loved McDonald’s fries, Taco Bell, and Fried Chicken all in the same week. I wouldn’t even eat that much in a year before! I have eaten late at night, on the couch, as much gross sugary American chocolate from Sol’s Halloween bucket as I wanted with NO guilt. Hello Pumpkin pie for no reason, and a block of manchego cheese with bread…dream come true! For the first time ever I have felt my pants get tighter and said to my belly “hello there!” in anticipation not despair. I have looked at myself in the mirror and felt the pangs of disapproval and slight disgust, and instead tried my best to replace it with… ‘your ok kid’.

This has been horrifying, terrifying to do on some level but there is an unfamiliar freedom there I can’t explain. There is a seed of peace that I am discovering, uncovering, and reclaiming.  God is it you? Are you there in my muffin top? Can it be!?

Let me tell you what else I have noticed….I am SO sluggish.

I’m pretty much tired all day.  I get headaches regularly, and for the first time in years…I got a cold last week.

I am drinking more coffee, and I feel foggy brained.  I was keeping up with my intense workouts until about 2 weeks ago where I couldn’t focus in my happy place (barre class)…so I cut back and increased my gentle yoga (which I usually scoff at because you don’t sweat in there). I just want to lay around.  My skin does not feel as smooth,  and when I wake up in the morning my face is puffy.

I am excited for Thanksgiving this year, as I’m going to my Titi’s house and it will be gmo corn oil, msg Adobo, Sazon, and inhumanely raised pork fat frenzy! I will practice allowing myself to eat Thanksgiving (for the first time I can remember) not “counting points”,  being really careful about my portions, adding up calories in “My Fitness Pal”, or just feeling bad about my body afterwards, and giving myself a lecture to get my shit together in December.

I am mid way through my not giving a f*ck and this too shall pass…I will return to my normal giving a f*ck and it won’t be easy I’m sure, nothing healthy ever is.  But as I reflect on this past month I realize that I desperately needed this breathing room to just be…I realized that the feeling I dreaded that I had been avoiding most of my life, the feeling I never wanted to feel…I had to give it it’s time to take over, not build a bigger wall against it. I needed to allow it to wash up over me and knock me down.  I wanted to give weight gain it’s due, it’s time and place, and finally a green light to say  “it’s ok.  You are not forever.  I hate what you stand for and the power I let you have over me but you are here, you come every year, so how can I love you”?  Weight gain…you are the worst, and you are a product of my living my best life through the holidays, so how can I friggin’ love you!?  How?

Then I realized something….it wasn’t about the weight gain…you can substitute weight gain for anything you struggle with loving that is undeniably in your life….for me it’s family members whom have different values, morals and beliefs as me…how to love when love is the only answer?  Ungracefully of course.  With awareness of  how you feel about what they both stand for, the vileness, the masked hatred, and then reach for that piece of pumpkin pie and love them….imperfectly.

I have nothing else to say except…I’ll blog again disclosing the exact amount of weight I gained around Solstice, the darkest night of the year, the welcome of winter and the end of this season of “uncaring”.  Until then I’m going underground to lay around some more, eat this Danish Kringle if I feel like it, with my headaches, my ‘bienvenido’ to the lesson that is be learned, & this ponch.

Let me know if you wind up joining me on this un-fantastic journey into weight gain, I’d love to hear what insights you take away from it.

**Side note**-Do you know that the stewardess at the airport asked me if I was pregnant?! The nerve! I did want that upgrade though so I asked her did it matter…it didn’t & I’m not…FYI.

How To: Make Real Friends as an Adult. Hey, I’m not saying it’s easy…I’m just saying it’s possible.

 

My friend Angela & I met in our 20’s. Initially we bonded over clothes & Don Miguel Ruiz. We really thought we had it all figured out…dummies! Lol. Still friends & know better.

“Friends-how many of us have them?”- Whoodini

I see my daughter walk up to kids on the playground and ask “do you want to play?”,  ”What’s your name?” Sometimes she doesn’t say anything at all & just plays side-by-side in some parallel kid universe with a new “friend”.  I wish it were more like that for grown folks.  Why is making legit friends as an adult so tricky. Or is it?

I was asked recently “how did you meet the last adult friend you’ve made?” So it sparked my thoughts about why we seek new friends as an adult & how we go about it.  It’s not like making friends in your 20’s or anytime pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre-career. It was more ‘unconscious’ then.  In those days all you needed was to hit happy hour after work, meet friends through friends, share drinks over long discussions about movies, music, books, & share dating disaster stories. Those were the simple days of brunching, lunching, shopping, lounging, impropmptu trips, going out together, saying ‘we should go out next week’…& meaning it.

There are many reasons to seek new friends as an adult.

Maybe you may have lots of old near & dears but your newfound love of running marathons may get you the dreaded huff & eye roll when you ask them to maybe join you sometime. You may find yourself cleansing some toxic old friendships & seeking some healthier kinds, or maybe you are just feeling lonely, new in town, & seeking connection.

Here is the KEY: If you are finding yourself in a position where you are desiring more companionship, friends, friendly aquaintances etc. you will find your peeps where your deep interests, deep dislikes, or deep heartaches lie.

Let me break it down.

Share Deep Interests-

As a military spouse just having that in common is not enough for me when I am new in town. Also, just because our kids go to the same school is not enough either.  There’s not enough ‘glue’ there if we don’t both really care/can’t stand/or heartache over something else.

What I’ve noticed in my years of moving around & dipping my pinky toe out there to feel people out is this…you have to have something you feel very strongly about in common. A shared agenda if you will. As an adult you go through different phases of your life so it changes. The shift to friendship is becomes more conscious & has a slight sense of effort to it.

Here are 3 major things to bond over when seeking out the coveted “friendship material” in someone.

1. Something you really LIKE: adrenaline junkies, biking, beaches, wine, politics, art, music, dance, immigration, equal rights, positive parenting, holistic remedies, dogs, movies, fresh snow, triathlons ….go geek out, rant, rave, have shared fun with someone over what you both like.

2. Something you CANNOT STAND: Injustice, racism, loud parties, banned books, your boss…whatever makes your blood boil or annoys you.  You likely can find a friend over that too.

And not to be overlooked (but less popular for obvious reasons) is…

3. Something your heart ACHES about: AKA something that depresses you. Coming out of the dark with someone is powerful in creating a lasting bond. Some examples of this are other fellow post partum parents, recovery, grieving loss etc. When your heart aches along side another person it’s actually all good stuff that brings you closer.

After you find what strong feeling you have in common…

Create a Bridge-

Just simply existing side by side with someone who shares a deep interest with you is not enough. This is where many people drop the ball. You then have to create a bridge. Bring them into your world somehow. Invite them over, take them up on their invite. Text them. Meet up somewhere, (gasp) solidify a set date & put it in your phone. Do it over & over again.

The hardest to give: Time

You must invest time. This is what there is not a lot of in adulthood. People have families, kids, responsibilities and not a lot of time. Especially not to do something as silly as ‘make friends’. Especially when your car needs to get serviced,  you have to go grocery shopping, your behind on making dentist appointments for the whole family, planning the upcoming birthday gathering, and that work report is due.  Time must be respected… & valued…& used wisely.   When you invest a little bit of time & you feel as if it is being invested equally by the other person. BINGO!! You hit the friendship structure jackpot. This is the stuff a great friendship is built on. There is potential & the makings of a lasting symbiotic friendship. It will fluctuate, sometimes you will do a bit more, and the other person will do a bit less & plans will be broken, rescheduled, & put off but if for the most part it equals out…your in the green. Keep moving forward with this friend.

Trust: the experiment 

Then from there things blossom organically where you play the scariest game ever, the game of  ‘can I trust you?’ Trust is the other crucial element in friendship. This takes some time. Do small social experiments & notice the outcomes.  It may start gradual like, can I trust you to keep plans, can I trust you to show up on time, return a text. Then it may move to can I trust you enough with my family, to reveal something embarrassing or unsavory, a hearts desire, to treat me with respect, to really show up for me when I need you.

Progress not Perfection

It may or may not ever get there, but finding your tribe starts with 1.

Like any relationship. Allow for mistakes. You are both learning each other, figuring out hot buttons, and quirks. Practice forgiveness. Use the three strikes & your out rule. Don’t be a doormat.

So how did I find my latest friend… Like great friend…Like soul connected friend? We met in a mommy & me class, both feeling super out of place we shared an affinity for not following the rules, a shared curiousity in the world around us, never ending desire for coffee, play, and found comfort during some dark tough transitions of motherhood. It was friendship magic, rare, & true. 5 years later, still dancing, laughing, & crying together.

My newest adult friend Shela. New motherhood, belly laughs, our love of dance, & our daughters brought us together.
And over things as simple as that a soul sister can be born. Friends I’m not saying it’s easy…I’m just saying it’s possible.

 “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.