Archive for the ‘AP & Self Care’ Category

What’s Written on Your Face?

Oh my. Where do I begin?  A rude awakening occurred for me this week.

My face and jaw and neck have quite literally carried the brunt of my feeble stress management skills for the last few years as I work out my frustrations with my perceived inability to do anything right in my sleep.  My nocturnal teeth grinding has been so severe since becoming a Mother that I’ve managed to completely alter the alignment of my jaw to the point that only a few teeth touch in the back of my mouth and my face looks different.

I remember musing as a teenager that I could guess the overriding character of an elderly person based on the way their face had aged. And I was always struck how women, more than men, seemed to physically take on a sad or angry life more than men — way before they turn gray.  My husband and I are still guilty of commenting on women we see while out and about whose faces reflect the appearance a difficult life.  With Texas quips in his DNA, I can count on him to say, “Wow does she ever look road hard and put up wet.”

Over the last several months as I inched closer and closer to 40 and contemplated my increasingly distorted road hard mouth, I had to call a “time out” on letting another day go by without doing something about it. I’ve been barking about it to my husband for a year.

“Look at my bite! It’s getting worse!”

“Oh God, another terrible headache this morning. I’m grinding again!”

“This mouth guard doesn’t help, what am I going to do?”

His answer has always been, “Focus on getting to the source of the grinding and then worry about fixing your mouth.”

Well, shit bags.

I’ve finally, once and for all, GOT to prioritize self-care and self-love. I’ve been writing about this for how long? Julia Cameron says if you complain about something enough in your writing day after day (if you’re disciplined with daily journaling which I’m not) — that you simply can’t continue with the same problem or situation without your mind generating new action or perspective.

I’m proud of the attention that I’ve given to parenting and learning all that I can to best meet my children’s needs. And I’ve also managed to inadvertently develop myself into the poster child for Attachment Parenting Martyrdom which I don’t recommend to any of you newer Mamas!!

Absolutely love your child with every ounce of who you are. Honor their little spirits and tend to their needs. Do all that you can to foster secure attachment.

But for the sake of your own emotional and physical well-being — don’t put yourself on a shelf in the process.  Don’t do it!! If you’re like me, you mistakenly believe that if you give to yourself it means your child will suffer.  That you won’t be giving to them.  And you can drive yourself to the brink in the name of intended Love and Devotion. You really can. In the long run, no child benefits from a sick or unhappy mother!!

My rude awakening occurred during our first weekend trip without children since either were born.  This Big Deal trip to L.A.. coincidentally happened the weekend after we went to New York City for my 40th. It was gifted to us by my Mother, brother and sister-in-law and we had our tickets booked before we received the spontaneous gift of the NYC trip. We went from a never-leave-home couple to serious jet-setters all in two weeks. Crazy.

On the way out to California I had a complete melt-down realization of my fairly chronic state of being that alternates between stressed out, pissed off or disappointed.  Within me also exists Mrs. Positive, Do-good, Dreamer. And she shines when I’m with my children, my friends, or at work. But “I’m not OK” always seems to take over as a set-point of sorts. And while I might attempt to maintain the allusion that this angst I often feel isn’t impacting anyone but myself and my godforsaken jaw-line — I was faced with the reality that my husband gets the brunt of it. And that my desire to always make the world right for my children has me on a No Good path of over-parenting. And that in order to be the kind of wife and mother I really want to be, I’ve got to take a hard look at myself, how I respond to what I don’t like for myself or for my girls, how I get my needs met, and finally take steps to do what I know can shift my world view every day when I commit to it.

  • Running, Walking, Running. In Nature.
  • Journaling gratitude for all that is and all that will be.
  • Listening to Libby’s song, Mama.
  • Setting up as many organization and support systems as possible to weather this 2 parents working over-time challenging chapter of life

On the way back to Austin, I was nailed with one of the worst headaches I’ve experienced since I started this teeth grinding nonsense a few years back.  I took four Advil on the plane and still couldn’t shake it. After 3 1/2 hours in the air of pounding pain behind both ears and in my temples, I threw up in an airline barf bag my husband found for me.

Rather than rush home from the airport to the babies I’d been apart from for three days, I had my husband take me to 24-hour urgent care and get some more serious medicated relief. Two shots in the ass — one for pain and one for nausea. And a muscle relaxant.

Halle – LU – HOO – jah.

Now. I could continue down my well-tread path of self-loathing and beat myself up for what ultimately unfolded as a result of this body-shouting-for-attention incident. But I choose to find peace in knowing that maybe, just maybe — it’s quite good for the whole family.  I believe the angels guiding us all through this life are always whispering messages of support every day and sometimes when a change needs to happen in our lives, the universe is left with throwing us a curve ball so we wake up and hear what they’ve been trying to gently tell us all along.

Having gone 2 nights and 3 days without nursing my Littlest, and unable to nurse when I got home because I was all drugged up — I opted to call it quits with “Mamas Milk.”  No pep talk preparation to ease the transition for her.  Just done.

A day or two of angst from Sweet Iz, begging and crying for “just a tiny bit!  Mama! Mama! Mama!”  And the desire — or at least the request — is fading in intensity and frequency.

I’m sad as I write this. I’ve never done well with endings. But thank God I’m old enough now to know that endings bring beginnings and a change in perspective is as easy as you choose to make it.

I had forgotten the incredible new snuggly chapter that unfolds after you wean!  Oh the hugs! The kisses! And the new ability to spoon with her tiny body at bed time and have her relish my embrace without holding, pulling, pinching or nursing my tired boob.

This week I’ve visited Doctor number 3 about my increasing jaw alignment issue. Thankfully I think surgery can be avoided and I will visit Doctor #4 in December to determine the correct “hinge position” and get set up with something akin to invisalign.

Now. Guess what? Holy Moses. I’m off for a little run.

One day at time.

Posted in AP & Self Care | 3 Comments

A Moment of Truth

So I’ve been wondering how long I can keep this up. Super over-stretched on the work front. Crazy pills really. And moving family out of house and back in. Planning a birthday party for my girls. Preparing for family coming to town tomorrow. And trying to keep up with weekly music lessons, soccer practice, parent meetings at the preschool…..getting remaining copies of Sweet Songs sold so I can write a check to the Milk Bank……(by the way….please join our Facebook page if you haven’t already!)

So in spinning those plates,  I have had no time for friends.  And I continue to feel bad about this.

Yesterday I happily said Yes to a lunch invitation with two of my favorite Mama friends in Austin, Bridget and Chelsea. I adore them. We met while pregnant with our second babies as we shared the same midwife and had due dates within a few weeks of each other. We bonded instantly and got together regularly during the year after the babies were all born.

I invited them to Whole Foods to eat lunch together on the patio, soak up some beautiful October sun, and get reconnected.

Half way through lunch I cried as I told Bridget and Chelsea how much I loved and missed them.

I then asked if they’d like to come up to my office on the 6th floor and check out the digs.  When we entered the elevator, I saw someone from my team.

I said, “Hey Chad, I want you to meet two of my favorite friends, Bridget and………….”

I looked at Chelsea’s face, my friend of two years that I adore, and her name was NOWHERE in my brain.  Nowhere.  I panicked thinking I was experiencing early onset of dementia, a mini  stroke, maybe a brain aneurysm……what??!!

I just stood there helpless, dumbfounded, and mortified.

After a long minute of WTF, Chelsea looked at me with cocked head and wrinkled eyebrows and said, “Monica, I’m Chelsea.”

Knowing that she’s reading my blog (Hi Chels!).  I write this to her:   Chels — hopefully you know you’re quite present in my heart and mind all the time — and this was the sad Moment of Truth that highlighted the degree of my current state of overwhelm and exhaustion.

I powered my way through family dinner and soccer practice last night and when it came time to read stories and sing songs with the girls for bed time, I was asleep between them after one story. 8:00 pm.

With 10 hours straight of sleep under my belt, my brain is working much better today.

I Love you Chelsea!

Posted in AP & Self Care | 5 Comments

Attachment Mama, What Up?

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my incredible 24-hour retreat alone. I did not intend to take this much time off from Attachment Mama! A few people have asked to hear how my big night away went, so I’ll happily conjure up the memory of it here now.

Though The Crossings retreat and wellness center offers complete spa services, I did not indulge in that this time around. I did, however, fully enjoy a delightful dinner in silence with two $10 glasses of red wine.  Then, in a solidly buzzed state, I sauntered back to my guesthouse where my pristinely clean and tidy room awaited me with a private deck and balcony overlooking the Balcones Canyon lands Preserve. I breathed in the air, the view, the solitude, and the sunset with complete gratitude and a peaceful heart, knowing my girls were perfectly content with their father. I realize the mellow state of my being is probably more attributable to the two generously poured glasses of wine floating through my veins versus a truly natural feeling of content about being away from my little angels overnight for the first time.

After gazing at the rugged natural beauty around me for several minutes on the deck, I came back inside, closed all the window shades, undressed and was asleep in a kick-ass cozy bed within five minutes.  It was 8:30 p.m.. And I slept for 13 hours!  I did wake up briefly at the standard early-bird time my daughters wake up (5:45, God Bless). My heart raced with fret, wondering if my Littlest was O.K.  But after taking a few deep breaths, I thankfully fell back to sleep, enjoying my first post-baby solid “sleep-in” until 9:00. Pure Luxury!!

Since returning from my mini vacation, I’ve been focused on several time-intensive projects at work including coordinating pre-screening events of a film called “Forks Over Knives” with Whole Foods Market all around the country. The provocative film highlights the groundbreaking research of Cleveland Clinic surgeon, Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr. (Rip’s father) and T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study.  They’ve both spent the last 25 years proving through research and patient studies that a plant-based diet can prevent many standard Western Diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.  The film officially releases to the public on March 11, 2011. Our press release that includes dates and locations of all the pre-screening events taking place in October should go out tomorrow.

Even though I still can’t claim to eat 100% plant-based myself and have had a whole variety of comical emotional responses to this reality since I joined the Healthy Eating team and Rip/Engine 2 —  I now confidently wear the PlantStrong badge. It’s exciting to be part of this healthy eating education movement — especially as I witness firsthand the idea of a plant-based diet becoming less and less fringe or “impossible” and increasingly more popular as people of all walks of life get curious about the benefits and start giving it a try.

Just today, CNN posted an interview with President Bill Clinton talking about his choice to eat almost entirely plant-based with the hope of reversing his heart disease. And he credits the studies of Rip’s father, T.Colin Campbell and Dean Ornish, MD as the research that lead him to this decision.

We have new intensity on the home front as well. The Big News: We’ve decided to sell our beloved house and recording studio. Tiny sniff. The choice to do so has been two years in the making as we’ve gone back and forth on Hideout Studios, our personal Field of Dreams.

The original vision in building it was first, to scratch the recording studio itch in my husband, and second, to replace my income (or close to it), so I could follow my long-imagined desire to be home with my children during their early years.

We envisioned living in our home for twenty years or more and raising our family there. A new perspective and reality came with the Great Recession. When it hit both Mark’s interior design business and the recording studio, and I was in full SAHM mode, we went for months with 10 percent of our pre-baby income, whittling our savings away bit by bit to cover the bills, convinced each month things were bound to turn around and we needed to hang in there.

We finally turned the corner this Spring. And the experience left us with a keen desire for my husband to focus his attention on one business instead of two, and to lower our living expenses so we’re better prepared for the future. We have absolutely zero regrets in building our house and studio in the first place as we’ve grown in a 100 ways that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We’ve witnessed so many wonderful musical works of art come to life including Sweet Songs, Molly Venter, Craig Hella Johnson, and most recently — Ben Kweller’s latest album– plus many others in between. And now we prepare to pass the torch.

So we’ve been working like mad the last month or so to prep the house to go on the market some time in October. And the most significant part of this preparation will require us to move out for 10 days while our water-damaged wood floors are sanded and re-stained. Starting tomorrow.

The Universe knows I don’t do well with boredom. But, Jeesh!

So between all this hubub, in the back of my mind the last two weeks I’ve been mulling over how to keep on keepin’ on with my personal creative outlet and service to other new parents: Attachment Mama — AND stay reasonably well-rested and sane.

No answer yet except continuing to write, but less often.

Posted in AP & Self Care, AP and Working Moms | No Comments

How Long Has It Been Since You Slept In?

It’s been almost four years for me.

For the last few months, my girls have consistently woken up at 5:45 a.m. every day and there’s nothing I can do to coax them into go back to sleep with me. I’m not sure why I continue to try every morning.  Can you relate?

Standard morning for me:

I’m in a solidly deep sleep, dreaming something I rarely remember, and I’m awoken to:


I’m startled awake and quickly go use the bathroom knowing that I won’t have a chance for the next 30 minutes or longer because that’s exactly what they both need to do. While sitting there, the call for Mama repeats three or four or five more times with increasing intensity. Sometimes with unintentional vocal harmonies between both daughters. I force the urine out of my body as fast as I can so I can ease their angst and my own discomfort with the broken record and I rush into the little room they now share. (cute)

Izzy on a twin mattress on the floor. Sadie on a twin bed next to her. Occasionally they sleep together when they want to — so adorable.

“Hi Mommy” and “Izzy wants you Mommy” said at the same time.

“OK Sweet Girls, let’s go potty. But look out the window! See how dark it is? It’s still night time and we need to go back to sleep after potty. OK? Izzy? Sleep with Mommy?”

“No sweep. Poop Mommy. Poop-Poop!”

“OK Izzy, we’ll get you on the potty right now.”

“No Mommy!  Me first!  Me first!  I have to go right now!”

“OK Sadie, we’ll let you go first since you’re in big girl undies.  Sorry Iz.”

Izzy’s already on to another impulse and doesn’t care.


Giggles from Sadie.

“Yes Izzy, let’s hide!”

“Sades, let’s wait to play Monster. She has to go potty first. So do you.”

“OK. Mommy, guess what Sofia does at school when she finishes her work?”


“She goes like this.”  (Points her finger in the air).

“Oh I see. Is that her way of saying she’s finished?”

“Yes, but that’s not what we do when we’re done.”

“What do you do?”

“Mommy! Poop! Iddy turn. Iddy turn.”

“Sadie, can you wrap it up? Izzy needs to go.”

“Mommy,” (grunt), “No.” (more…)

Posted in AP & Self Care | 4 Comments

Meditation For Mothers

An Introduction to Shambhava Meditation: Experience Calmness, Clarity and Joy in Parenting

Saturdays 9-10 a.m.  9/11, 9/25, 10/2, 10/23, 11/13, 11/20

Tuesdays 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.  9/21 – 10/26

This six-week series is for mothers of all life stages (including pregnancy and mothers of adult children) who wish to begin or deepen their practice of meditation.  Each class includes a simple hatha yoga warm up, meditation instruction, meditation practice, and time for questions and discussion.  Classes will introduce students to the meditation practices and philosophy of Shambhava yoga, while highlighting the ways in which the practices can be brought into daily life to help us live and parent with more ease, clarity, and consciousness.  Taught by Anita Stoll.

$90 for 6-week series.

Saturday classes will be held at 1310 South 1st Street, Suite 200.

Tuesday classes will be held at 1629 Palma Plaza.

Pre-registration is required.  Choose Saturday or Tuesday series.   Call Anita at 789-3548 to register.

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