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Confessions

How to Keep Your Shit Together while Busy Taking Care of Everyone Else, how to protect your mental health while taking care of everyone else

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

These past few weeks of motherhood have been thus far some of the hardest ever. Shit has happened that no one teaches you about in the parenting books. I’ve studied the whole of the DSM and I still couldn’t have been prepared, as a mother, for the kind of emotional toll that has been taken on me. That’s why I’m realizing how to protect your mental health while taking care of everyone else is so important for parents.

You know there are things you expect, in the back of your head, in the bottom of your heart and right there in the pit of your stomach. Things that you know can happen, like all those terrible side effects they warn you of when you are taking the drugs that will save your life. You take them anyways because living is more important than having the shakes. Well, my friends, this shit was not on the warning label when I got pregnant. Or maybe it was and I chose not to believe it.

I have been struggling with mental illness since the teen years. There is a whole list of disorders and illnesses that I can speak of at length and in-depth. That should have been a red flag to me that maybe I needed to be a little more prepared for what could happen if the girls got triggered. But, I thought, I’ve got this. I found my way out of the darkness. It’ll be fine. And it was until it wasn’t anymore.

In my teen years, my mind was held hostage in a dark abyss. I couldn’t find my way out or at least it felt like I couldn’t but, true to Debi fashion, one step at a time, one moment at a time, I survived. Barely. Even though there were days when it was so painful to be alive that I prayed something or someone would kill me because I couldn’t do it myself and hurt my mom. She was my savior and she had no idea of the dark thoughts that were infiltrating my brain. It’s probably better that way. But I know.

In those days, it hurt to breathe because it felt counterintuitive and I cried more tears than I thought were even possible. But, my childhood was tumultuous to put it nicely. A lot of bad shit happened to me and when you’re a kid, you can only take so much before you break. Or so I thought. I’m more resilient than I ever imagined because I never actually broke, I just bent as far as my child mind and body could.

I promised myself that I would never allow that to be my daughters’ stories. They would live a “normal” life. As if I even know what that looks like. I promised myself they would never be triggered and I thought I could protect them from my same fate. But I was wrong. There are some things we can’t actually stop from happening, no matter how hard we try or how ‘good’ we are at this parenting thing. Maybe this is why I feel like such a fraud when people compliment me. I know the truth. There are simply some things that are beyond our control. That’s a hard and bitter pill for this recovering smother mother to swallow.

How to protect your mental health while taking care of everyone else is a hard, but imperative, balance to find

Today, I took my daughter to her first adolescent group therapy session. Never expected that to be a milestone. She almost cried when I left her. I almost cried when I left her in a room full of strange kids in their own turmoil. Is this a good idea? Is she going to get ideas or learn bad habits? But isn’t this supposed to help her live? All that matters is that she makes it through, by any means possible. She is the most important thing in my life. She and her sister are truly my entire reason why.

A couple of weeks ago, her depressive episode got so bad that I could see her slipping into that same dark abyss that I used to live in. I lived there for years. I honestly thought I’d never escape. I resigned myself to living there alone with my pain until it killed me. For me, it started at 12-years-old with body dysmorphia, then the major depression and suicidal ideations started around freshman year of high school, onto eating disorders beginning around 17 ( bulimia then anorexia with extreme exercising), and ultimately a diagnosis of bipolar 1 when I spent most of my college years and my mid 20’s manic AF. I didn’t have my first panic attack until I was 35-years-old but according to my psychiatrist, anxiety was there first.

As a child, I was prone to terrible stomach aches that landed me in the emergency room on more than one occasion. That’s how little Debi’s anxiety from living with an abusive, alcoholic father first manifested. But I learned quickly, around 7-years-old, how to develop my coping mechanisms. I’m a counter. It worked for years until my husband lost his job when I was 35. #mommysfirstpanicattack Yep, if I’m anxious and talking to people (pushing through my anxiety) I’m probably counting every word you are saying and all the letters in the words.  I know I’m an extrovert but I also have my limits. I didn’t even realize I counted or what it meant until about a year into my therapy. Did I mention now ADHD is on the table? Aye aye aye. Like seriously, what the actual fuck?

Anyways, most if not all of these things are in control ( save for a little mania that gets triggered when I’m under duress…you know like when you’re dealing with the guilt and pressure of passing along your fucked up brain chemistry to your children). You have not had mom guilt of this level if you haven’t genetically fucked your kids up. It is a special kind of hell because it is in fact my fault. I’ve been crying about this a lot lately.

Right now, I’m trying to keep my shit together while putting out a seemingly unlimited amount of mental health trash fires over here daily. It’s a lot. I’m overwhelmed. I’m triggered and I’m trying my best to do what’s best for everyone, especially my girls. I thought I was holding it together. I mean I know that on the inside, I’m falling apart but I thought on the outside, I was taking care of business. I think I am for the most part but I’m neglecting myself. I know this because the other days while I was sobbing about my daughter’s mental health crisis, I could hear my pressured speech and feel my pressured thoughts machine-gunning out of my head and my husband gave me a hug and said, “But Debi, you haven’t looked happy for a while.” And he’s not wrong. I’m too overwhelmed and exhausted and scared to be happy because what right do I have when my children are in pain?

That’s how I know that I need to step back, take inventory and do whatever I need to do to get my own mental health in order. Because skipping myself isn’t doing any favors for my children or my husband. In fact, I’m adding to the pile of neverending trash fires currently going on. Look, I’m not complaining. This is me processing. I write, that’s how I survive. If you’ve ever wondered why my feeds are not perfectly curated, it’s not because I don’t know that it’s what people want its because I refuse to live a lie. My battle with eating disorders made me a liar for about 8 solid years. You have to lie to hide the fact that you are slowly killing yourself from the people who love you. If not, they will stop you from your slow suicide. And I preferred to exile myself from everyone than to let them know how truly vulnerable and pathetic I was. I spent so many years striving for perfection and I’m still a fucking relentless overachiever. It’s just who I am. If I stop moving I die. But now, with years of therapy and doing the work to not only understand my disease but myself, I will never silently suffer again and I don’t want that for my daughters either. I never want them to feel that alone and afraid to live. So how do I protect my mental health while taking care of everyone else? I have to be vigilant that I take care of myself first or I won’t be able to take care of anyone else. I know from a mom’s perspective, it sounds very selfish but it’s not. It is giving myself permission to heal so that I can help the people I love the most heal and get the help they need with my full support.

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Tonight, I’m sitting here with a lot of feelings swirling around in my heart and a lot of thoughts and unanswered questions in my head. At the top of that list is how to help your child survive depression and anxiety. There’s been a lot of big things happening around here. Yesterday, we celebrated Bella’s Junior day at school. How can my first baby be a senior and be leaving for college soon? Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of the loss of our third baby and it’s tinging every day this week with sadness.

Today was the day that I’d been dreading my entire life even before I had my children. The one thing I hoped would never happen, the thing that has filled me with guilt and sadness since even before thinking of becoming a mom.

Today, my daughter verbalized what most adults cannot… she told me that she no longer feels any joy in her life.

I was diagnosed Bipolar 1 when I was in my 20s and back then, I was very regularly manic. That’s how my bipolar presents mostly, I fly so high that I can’t come down so I fly erratically until the extreme irritability and anger kick in. Then, I become unbearable. So, I was relieved when I got my diagnosis because it meant I was bent not broken and that felt kind of like a miracle to me. It felt as good as being cured. But the one thing that scared me the most was the possibility of passing it along to my children. I’d rather live my life dealing with the harsh reality of highs and lows than ever let my children feel one moment of unrest but we don’t always get what we want.

Because of my own experience with mental illness, I am an advocate for my children’s mental health. I’ve raised them knowing that everyone could benefit from therapy and that there is no shame in having a mental illness diagnosis. It just is what it is and all we can do is get a good psychiatrist, a compassionate psychologist and work the plan and take our meds. We have to do the work and it is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do but it’s the only way to get through it.

Today, my worst fear was realized when I heard my child, whom I love more than my own life, say that she could feel no joy and thought maybe she needed more help than I alone could give. On one hand, I was so proud of her for advocating for herself and for being so self-aware at such a young age but on the other hand, I was absolutely terrified. How can this be happening?

I’ve done everything I could think of proactively because of living with and learning about my own mental illness. My girls have been in therapy for the past 2 years. I keep a close eye on their mental health and well-being, we talk about everything openly and I look for the signs because I know how torturous it is to go through it alone. But there are some things you can’t stop from happening. You can only be there to help them find their way and mental illness one of those things that you can’t stop from happening. No matter who you are, how much money you have, where you live or who you think you are, mental illness does not discriminate. The difference in the outcome is whether you get the help you need or not.

In my 20’s, I was very manic almost exclusively but when I was my daughters’ ages (really from about 14-18 years old) I was highly suicidal. But it wasn’t just ideation, I had a plan. I had backup plans to my plan. It was so painful to live that I often felt the only way to stop the pain was to disappear into the abyss. I wanted to die more than I wanted anything else. Honestly, I used to pray for the strength to do it but there was one thing that stopped me, my mom. I just couldn’t get past what it would do to her and the thought of me being the cause of her feeling like she wanted to disappear into the abyss was the very thing that prompted me to keep fighting. I never told a soul and the fact that my daughter discussed her mental health with me, I feel, is evolved beyond what I was at her age.

I knew that if I killed myself, I would essentially be killing my own mother and I could never do that to her so I kept living. One day at a time, some days, one minute at a time and on others, one second at a time. Living during that time felt cruel and unusual but it was my only option. I think that’s where my unbreakable (or as my daughters call it unbearable) optimism comes from. I had to find a way to keep going through the darkest time of my life, alone.

My point is that life is a struggle for all of us in its own way. Sometimes life is so hard and scary that it’s almost impossible to see clear of the darkness. But I promise that eventually, the darkness lifts and becomes bearable. Learn to read between the lines and hear what your teenagers are feeling, beyond what they are saying. It’s not easy being a teenager in today’s digital world. There is so much pressure to be perfect in a world where everything is filtered and curated.

At the end of the day, all I want is for my girls to be happy. I want them to feel loved and filled with hope and a sense of purpose. I want them to know that everything is possible and no dream is too big. But mostly, I want them to feel real, genuine joy and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that I safely get them to a place where they can and they do. It’s been one of the hardest weeks of my life but I am grateful that she felt comfortable enough to talk to me because it terrifies to think about the alternative.

Have you ever been faced with the fact that your child may have a mental health issue and need help beyond what you can offer as a mom? What did you do? How did you get through it and comfort your child in a meaningful way without trivializing or catastrophizing their situation? How did you learn to listen beyond their words?  

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New year resolution to manifest your best life

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Good morning and happy new year. Sounds kind of insincere to wish anyone a “happy” anything in the midst of yet another pandemic surge. Thank you Omicron. But I do sincerely wish each and every one of you a magical year filled with happiness; no matter what that may look like. That’s why this year, I’m forgoing the lofty idealistic and mostly unrealistic resolutions of the past in favor of realistic new year resolutions to help you manifest your best life in 2022.

The past 2 years have been hard, like astronomically hard, beyond anything any of us could ever have anticipated at the beginning of this pandemic. Yet here we all are. Certainly worse for the wear; a little humbled, sad and stronger. Yes, we’re surviving. You are stronger because (knock on wood) it hasn’t killed you yet…if you’re reading this. (Sorry about that, my sense of humor has gone a little dark in the past 2 years.)

Anyways, I’m not a self-help guru or someone who’s got all her shit together. I’m struggling but I did have a moment of clarity a few days ago and I came out the other end certain that our life journey is all about the tiny steps (no matter or how hard or easy it is to get to our desired destination in life). You don’t have to run, jump or leap. You just have to step in the direction you want to go. The most important thing is to know where you want to go.

So stop, right now. Stop thinking of where the world has told you that you should want to go or what you should want to be or have or do and ask yourself, “where do I want to go, be, have and do? What makes me happy? Who is worth my time, effort and love?” Then, prioritize.

Here comes the hard part, the people, places, things that don’t make you happy…let them go. I know it’s hard. It can feel almost impossible but hanging on to those things is dead weight around your neck and it’s slowly killing you. Don’t give more weight to people and things that don’t even consider you. Let that shit go.

Stop being so hard on yourself. Give yourself the same grace, love and patience that you afford everyone you love. Be diligent, attentive and proud of yourself. Do your best and be the best version of yourself. That’s it! You don’t owe anyone anything but yourself. You owe yourself happiness, love, laughter, contentment and peace (in whatever form that may be).

Here are my Realistic New Year Resolutions to Help Manifest Your Best Life in 2022

1. Prioritize yourself

For me, I naturally assume the martyr position because I’m a mom. Always putting myself last and everyone else’s needs above mine. They didn’t ask for it. It’s just what I’ve always done. It’s what my mom did. But that doesn’t serve me or my family well. It’s leaving me feeling like a failure as a human because while I’m excelling as a mom, I feel like I’ve lost me in the process. It makes me angry and unfulfilled and, quite frankly, unhappy and a little bitter and that spills over into everything else and taints the joy, bringing down the energy. This year, my family is going to always be the most important thing to me but now, I am going to be as important to myself as I am to them.

2. Move your body for 20 minutes a day

Y’all remember that I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol a few months before the pandemic hit? Well, I was and it scared the f*ck out of me. I started watching what I was eating, portion controlling and working out. I was overwhelmed. It was a lot. But in 6 months, I had lost 60 pounds and all my numbers were normal. The pandemic hit and between stress and not going anywhere, I gained 25 pounds back and slowly over the past 2 years my numbers have crept back up. They are still normal but if I don’t take control now, for how long will they stay healthy? I don’t want to find out so, I’m committing to myself to get my heart rate up 20 minutes a day to stay healthy. No lofty weight loss goals or black and white/ this or that/ never or always lines drawn in the sand. Just some prioritization and lots of grace and love for myself.

3. Eat whatever you want in moderation

Do NOT cut yourself off from the simple joys. I mean, come on, saying you’re never going to eat sugar or carbs again might sound like the answer to your problem of gaining weight but it’s not sustainable. It’s unrealistic. Worse still, it makes food unenjoyable. Honestly, when you live your life with drastic restrictions, are you living a life at all? You’re getting by. Food is not the enemy but it also doesn’t heal your traumas. Eat whatever you want in moderation while being cognizant of your own health, portion control and reality. If you’re drinking alcohol, drink water. If you’re eating garbage, drink water and move your body. The key is balance. But don’t starve yourself or fanatically restrict every calorie that goes into your body, that’s an actual eating disorder. Take it from me, I know.

4. Chase what makes you happy

This can be different for every single person on the earth. For one it might be traveling the world or becoming a doctor, for others, it might be earning a lot of money and living a lavish life and for some, it might mean creating something beautiful or just living peacefully. Guess what? None of them is wrong. Each of them is right. Happiness is derived from many different things in many different ways. Don’t be afraid to chase your happiness because even if you don’t make it to where you want to go on the first try, you’ll be closer and definitely happier and more fulfilled knowing that you went for it. For me, that means creating content that resonates with others and living my life on my own terms. Starting today, I want to post at least 5 days a week. You are my accountability buddy. Don’t let society tell you what to wear, how to look, who to love, what’s cool and what’s not. Do what makes you happy! Periodt. No one else lives in your body, your mind or your soul. Only you can choose your happiness and that starts by stopping taking other people’s opinions into consideration when deciding what makes your heart happy and full.

5. Travel

Wander the world. A change of scenery is good for your soul. Honestly, whether you are going to a cabin in the woods, hiking in the mountains, laying on a beach, or exploring a metropolis traveling is a way to reboot and gives you just enough distance and distraction to forget your worries for a little while and give you a fresh heart and eyes to tackle your woes when you return. My parents taught me from a very young age that travel is an experience that opens your mind and your heart. It makes you more tolerant, understanding and kind. There is no better gift you can give yourself.  So travel everywhere you can any chance you get. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 minutes from home or a 24-hour flight; walk where you’ve never walked before and try things you’ve never tried before. You won’t believe how your perspective of humans and the world, in general, will change.

6. Be the you that you want to be

This one can be hard because not all of us have taken the time in our lives to even ask ourselves what we want, who we want to be or what that looks like. Many of us have been swept up in our lives; it almost feels as if it happened to us and in some cases, as circumstances were, it did. But it’s never too late to change until you’re dead. Every single day is a new beginning. Every. Single. Day.  So decide who the you is that YOU want to be and be that. Make a list. For example, I want to be a more attentive wife (pandemic has made me in survival mode but I want more. I want slow dancing in the kitchen, hand-holding on walks and snuggles on the couch) I want to be a strong role model for my girls and I also want to be their best friend, I want to evolve my career to the next level (so I’m working my tail off to complete this Masters in Digital Marketing), I want to actively choose the life I live and I want joy and satisfaction to be the guiding factor.

7. Don’t let other people’s actions steal your joy

Only positive vibes this year. It’s an inside joke in my family that I am eternally optimistic. I’ve always been this way. If I weren’t, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here…or anywhere. I think I just had a hard childhood (like so many of us #generationaltrauma) and I know that worry is a useless emotion and negativity absolutely brings the energy down. If you don’t believe you can, you absolutely won’t so I’m living that MexiCAN (Not MexiCANT) life. All this to say, trust and believe in yourself. You are the master of your own destiny. The only way other people can steal your joy is if you allow them to. Do NOT let those people have that power.

8. Sleep

It sounds super basic. I know. But sleep is the cure-all to life (well, that and water). Sleep is something that has always been a challenge for me (manic bipolar who is clinically diagnosed insomniac) add in some ADHD, perfectionist tendencies and then hit me over the head with the pandemic anxiety. Yes, sleep is absolutely elusive for a lot of adults, especially parents. I am not alone in this but it is a basic need to stay healthy and happy. So do what you need to do to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Stop laughing. It is possible. Try relaxing at night, dim the lights, get cozy and turn off the screens. Meditate. Take a warm bath. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before bed and rethink those sugar snacks before bed. Get your exercise done earlier in the day so you can benefit from the endorphins without that energy surge at bedtime. Last but not least, make a small to-do list every day in the morning and cross those 5 things off as the day goes and at bedtime, throw it in the garbage. The list could be as simple as drink coffee, pick up kids from school, return books to library, go for a walk and drink water. Then, give yourself permission to rest and forget the rest until tomorrow. Do this every day until it becomes a habit.

9. Drink water

This is so simple and basic that it sounds almost ridiculous to put it on a list but it is very important. Drink your water. Water really is life. It’s great for your skin, your health and your mind. Set a goal to drink at least 64 ounces of water every single day. Staying hydrated can contribute to a general sense of well-being.

10. Get dressed everyday

I get it, it sounds like common sense but let me tell you, as a stay at home mom during a pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of the last two years wearing loungewear, whether that be fuzzy skims, tie-dyed lounge sets, LuLulemons/joggers and sweatshirts or just changing from my night jammies to my day jammies. I have not been dressing in all the cute clothes that I’ve bought to satisfy my pandemic anxiety shopping. Last week, I went to my in-laws for Christmas and I put on a cute sweater dress with knee-high boots and put makeup on and did my hair. It was a game-changer. I felt cute and sexy and human. Never underestimate the power of dressing for yourself and feeling beautiful in your own skin. It absolutely changed my entire outlook on life and my self-confidence.

11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You can’t do everything or be everything to everyone. It’s ok to be vulnerable and fragile, let other’s help. Don’t put off medical, mental or spiritual needs. Needing help is not a shortcoming, it is part of being human. We all need help at some time to survive life. No one is an island. If what you’re doing isn’t working don’t be afraid to pivot or change directions entirely.

12. Live everyday like it’s a special ocassion

You do not need to live like you’re dying but, for the love of God, live and love like every day you are alive is a special occasion. Celebrate you. Eat the macarons. Wear that little black dress from Nordstrom. Take the trip to Paris. Tell the people your heart is crushing on that you love them, that they are special and you are glad they are a part of your life. Stop saving shit for someday when today is yesterday’s someday.

These are my realistic new year resolutions to help you manifest your best life in 2022 and every year after that. Choose your own happiness. Choose your own adventure. We only have one life and the time on earth is not that long, so do what you want. Choose you.

In the end, the goal should be to live your life in such a way that even if you die at 99-years-old (like my abuelito and Betty White did) it’s still too soon.

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What happened to those people, marriage in distress

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This morning, I sent the Big Guy a somewhat racy meme of a pumpkin who looked like she got shot in the eye in one of those sexy accidents that, to be honest, we haven’t had a lot of lately. His response was, instructing me to go look at a photo of us in a shadow box from when we first met and asking, “What happened to those two people ?”

I did as he instructed and a few things happened,

  1. I realized that, damn, we have gained a lot of weight in the past 24 years together.
  2. OH MY DAMN, we’ve been together 24 years. That’s half our lives. In fact, we’ve been together more of his life than we’ve been apart.
  3. Wow. He thinks about these things too? I thought it was just me fixating and overthinking by myself.
  4. Too many things like this pandemic, kids, dog, work, school, bills and responsibilities have made us lose sight of what we wanted from the start, to be together with one another; to be one another’s priority.

I think we’ve both been so tired and worn out from getting through day-to-day life that we haven’t had the energy left to dedicate the time to growing closer.  It’s like we were and still are each other’s best friends, partner but we don’t get to enjoy one another as we used to and I think that is both of our faults. We’ve just been trying to put out the daily fires and that doesn’t leave much time for intimacy, relaxation or talking for just the sake of talking. Now, everything has a purpose, a finish line other than just enjoyment and it’s taking a toll.

What happened to those people, marriage in distress

The pandemic has put us all on edge. All of us have experienced anxiety and panic over the course of this pandemic. The girls are always home; first, they were virtual and now, they are often quarantined from exposure or actually sick with some kind of cold, virus or flu after living their life in masks for the past 19 months and suddenly being thrust into a world without masks or social distancing. I’m back in grad school which is stressful for a 40-something mom who hasn’t been in grad school in 16 years. The Big Guy toils away, in person, at work; braving the coronavirus, since about month 3 of the pandemic, so our bills could be paid and everything all of us do has been under duress. That makes laughing and lighthearted play, as a family and even more so as a couple, nearly impossible. Who can relax when people are literally getting sick and dying all around you?

We don’t look or feel like we did in 1997. What happened to those two people? I hardly ever get ready anymore. I’m usually at home in joggers, a sweatshirt and a top knot. No make-up. No products anywhere to be found. I just shower and moisturize. Hair cuts and color, manicures and pedicures are all luxuries that I can’t afford to do during a pandemic. He only goes to work so he’s not dressing for me either. I used to be the girl who took two hours every day to get ready; full hair and make-up. Exercising used to be a priority. Going out used to be fun. But now, all of those things feel like just one more thing to do on an already infinite to-do list. I’m tired and so is he. Tired of all the things we have to do.

What happened to those two people?

His question this morning made me realize that I want to find my way back to those two people who we unknowingly abandoned along the way. I know people change and relationships evolve but this is not what we both expected our marriage to be. We could just keep moving on this same path, at the same rate on this journey together and die of boredom and old age sometime in the future or we can put in the work to reclaim our passion for one another and ask the hard questions, change what needs to change and be bold. It will be scary as fuck because, 24 years is a long time, but doing nothing and expecting change is ridiculous. We want more together.

It’s going to have to start with talking to each other and discussing what we want, need, like and dislike in our relationship. We know that we love each other but we need to remember what we like about one another. What was it about us that made us inseparable from about day 4 of knowing one another? What was it that made us fall in love and believe we had found our soul mate within that first month? What magic was it that made him ask me to marry him and me say yes after just 4 months? I know that’s rare but it’s what happened. And no matter what we’re going through, even when he’s on my nerves ( or I’m on his), even when we don’t particularly like one another, we always love each other and he’s always my person. I hope I’m still his.

What happened to those people, marriage in distress

We’ve been so busy talking about the craziness of each day that we’ve forgotten to ask about each other’s hopes and dreams for a long time. Those things are important. A marriage can’t survive on autopilot. Yes, comfortable silences are nice and being able to be next to one another and know what the other one is thinking and feeling without saying a word, happy to just be, is wonderful but it’s not enough. We have to be willing to get uncomfortable to unlock that next level of intimacy. Because even though he is my best friend, my ride or die, we both deserve more than just someone to do stuff with. We need someone to look forward to doing things with fueled by a passion for one another and the life we are building together.

We’ve become complacent and comfortable and in doing so, maybe a little annoyed with one another, even though we’ve never said it out loud. We need a marriage reboot. I don’t want a sequel. He is it for me. So, we’re going on a quest to find those people in the shadow box. Has your marriage ever felt like it has become predictable? What did you do, as a couple, to jumpstart your marriage?

What happened to those two people?

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Disney, Credit Repair, financial security, financial freedom, quinceanera, My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetes

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Look at me. I probably look just like a lot of you. Most days, I look a little tired, wearing yoga pants, an oversized sweatshirt and a messy bun and some days, I look cute. But, there are subtle differences, ones you can’t see, bubbling right beneath the surface like well-placed Botox. Lately, I’ve been feeling a sort of way; like I’m walking a tightrope of mental health. Any wrong move could send me toppling and it’s exhausting. I feel like my bipolar diagnosis has been standing at the back of the room hanging out and suddenly, the pandemic has got behind that diagnosis and begin to nudge me uncomfortably forward. This might not make sense to you, if you’re not a person with mental illness but if you are, you know exactly what this feeling is. This is my diary of a manic mom.

My diagnosis of Bipolar 1 came the year after I got married, from the unlikeliest of places, my gynecologist. I know, her specialty is cervixes and uteruses not mood disorders with a side of mania but lucky me, I met a gynecologist who also happened to be the mom of a daughter with bipolar. This is where my journey from broken to bent began. Let me tell you, it is a relief when you realize there is a diagnosis and you are not in fact broken.

The diagnosis was terrifying at first. I had no idea what that meant, which made it even scarier considering everything I’d ever heard about the illness up until that point was limited misinformation and worst case scenarios. The consensus from my doctors is that I started having episodes in my teens and by college, they were at their peak. I can only speak to my particular flavor of mental illness but for me, it waxed and waned between full mania and extreme irritability. My “low” is the extreme irritability that comes from not being able to slow down. It’s like racing towards a brick wall going 125 miles an hour. I see the wall. I know it might kill me. I want to slow down but my mind keeps pushing the gas pedal. It is so bad that I get on my own nerves. That is a new level of irritability.

When I’m in a manic episode, I lose my ability to think rationally. I become reckless in all the ways you can imagine. I also feel invincible mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m naturally an optimist but when manic, its beyond reason and consequences were never considered. I am also inspired because all boundaries are null and void.

My diagnosis was not easy on the Big Guy, myself or the marriage. It took a lot of therapy, medications, research and willingness to embrace my disorder. I had to put everything into accepting my diagnosis, otherwise, I could not have learned to live with it. My husband also had to learn about and come to terms with my diagnosis. From that point on, he became my accountability partner, meaning we’ve discussed it and he knows the difference between my normal moods and reactions and when I’m becoming episodic. I need him to tell me if he recognizes the train going off the tracks, in case I’m not aware.

My experience with a mental health diagnosis has made me a mental health advocate. I had to learn about bipolar disorder. I believe every single person could use some therapy, especially during this pandemic, children and adults alike. My family knows this and we’ve all been in therapy at one point or another. I don’t believe in needlessly suffering when help is available.

I don’t have episodes like I used to. In fact, since the onset and diagnosis, I can only think of two other occasions when I’ve experienced a full manic episode. However, thanks to self-awareness, education and all the work I’ve done over the years to understand my illness, I’ve been able to find my way through them without losing total control.

With the pandemic and some of the situations that has brought with it (quarantining, best friend is a doctor who keeps me abreast of all the latest CoVid news, virtual learning, masks, an election, going back to school, deaths in the family, constantly worrying about the people I love and never being able to hug them), I have felt anxious. I’ve been able to deal with the anxiety. I’m aware it is happening but I push it to the side and move on. However, that constant state of anxiety has triggered what I’ve felt like was a manic episode.

What did it feel like? It felt like running in high heels across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. Other times, it feels like I’m stuck on a roller coaster perpetually going up, violently coming down and going right back up again. When this happens, all I can do is try to process my feelings while separating the noise and chaos from what must be done. Sometimes that means shutting completely down and being still until the attack of everything of the world is hurling at me can pass. I need to make things digestible or I will be swallowed whole. The most important thing is knowing myself and being aware of the symptoms that accompany my illness.

Giving myself over to those old reckless and self-satisfying behaviors is no longer an option for me. I’m a mom. Not only do I need to be mentally healthy for myself, I need to be healthy enough to take care of and love my family. Being mentally healthy is for my family. Knowing how to recognize, treat and work through my illness is the only way that can happen. There is no room for ignoring and denying in mental health because in the end it can mean the difference between life and death. Also, our children are always watching. I want them to know that there is no stigma to being mentally ill, seeing a therapist, taking medications or whatever needs to be done. The important thing is that we can embrace our disorder and love ourselves. 

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if not now then when, new year's goals, New Year’s Resolutions to Change Your Life for the better

I’m not doing outrageous New Year’s resolutions this year. I’m making totally realistic resolutions in response to the pandemic. I am learning from my past mistakes, older and wiser and all that shit, and I am sneaking in on this year. I am slowly, tiptoeing in on this bitch. I am creeping. I’m afraid to spook 2021 and have it run away on me. I’m all about the easy New Year’s Resolutions to Change Your Life for the better this year while being realistic.

I cannot afford another 2020. In fact, like everyone else, I need a 2020 do-over. Where can I get my refund? I want to see the manager. I’m sick of waiting for things to get better. Time to work through my very legitimate but crippling fear that has had me frozen in place over the last year and safely, from a distance, keep pursuing happiness. If not now, then when?

I tried to be optimistic. I did appreciate the time to think and reflect alone with my family. In the early months, I even tried to see the whole coronavirus lockdown situation as a blessing. The past 11 months have been trying, exhilarating and growth inspiring. I have an entirely new outlook on life but I am exhausted, I’m afraid and I’m losing my patience. I’ve been anxious, depressed and manic. I have run the gamut of emotions and I’ve never wanted to get off a ride as badly as I want to escape the nightmare that 2020 has been.

My 2021 Mantra: If not now, then when?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful that I’ve survived thus far but not unscathed. I’ve lost people. In fact, I’ve become accustomed to the news. It’s not become a matter of fact yet but unfortunately, I am no longer shocked. I’ve seen the worst of people. I’ve seen selfishness and anger but I’ve also seen the best of people; self-sacrifice and kindness. But I want it to be over. I feel like I’ve been serving a prison sentence and I didn’t do anything wrong other than having the misfortune of being diabetic.

This year’s “resolutions” aren’t about dreaming or wishing, it’s about doing. It’s about small tweaks and putting in the work. It’s also about self-awareness and perspective. I want to put in the effort and work towards goals. I want to manifest the life I want by keeping faith and determination in the process and myself. Resolutions don’t have to be grand gestures they can be small goals that you can cross off a list and gain a sense of fulfillment and happiness. Lists give me direction and crossing stuff off of lists give me a true sense of joy and bonus, it’s easy to do.

if not now then when, new year's goals, New Year’s Resolutions to Change Your Life for the better, Silver and golden colorful Christmas glitters on turquoise background. Flat lay style. Holiday classic concept.

Easy New Year’s Resolutions to Change Your Life for the Better = Goals

  • Get back to a 2019 state of mind. That’s all I want. I want normal back.

  • Work out 5 days a week. Solution: Start small. 15 minutes of movement.

  • Keep A1C in the normal range. Solution: Portion control, stay within my daily carb amounts and exercise.

  • Keep my triglycerides in check. Solution: Pay attention to labels and saturated fat intake.

  • Weight to go back to pre-Covid/ pre-stress eating days.  Solution: Move more and stress less. Grab for healthier options versus all the carbs.

  • Safe travel with my family.  Solution: WAIT!

  • Hug my parents freely without fear I’ll kill them or the need to quarantine for weeks beforehand. Solution: Wait, quarantine and wear my mask.

  • I want to see my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. Solution: Zoom or Facetime. For in-person, drive-by, driveway visits at a social distance outside for the time being. Better to see them safely than not at all.

  • Barbecues and get-togethers without restrictions; ugly sweater parties and costume parties, where we can all laugh and be near one another without suspicion of what every other person in the room was doing or who they were in contact with before being in my breathing space. Solution: Vaccine and herd immunity.WAIT.

  • Attend crowded concerts under the stars with dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. Solution: Until the vaccine is widely available, stream a live concert on a big screen in your yard.

  • Eat at a restaurant. Solution: Some restaurants are offering personal outdoor igloos. Alfresco is the best option right now.

  • Show a sign of peace to the people in the pew next to me at mass. Solution: Peace fingers to friends and family from the appropriate socially safe distance if you don’t have an underlying condition and can attend in-person services, otherwise, stream your services.

  • Sing out loud without fear of spreading a virus or getting punched in the head by someone who is equally afraid of being infected. Solution: For now, do it in your own house or in your own yard.

  • Long, lazy days at crowded beaches and hot summer nights walking the city. Solution: Wait! Empty beaches and masked up walks are fine for now.

  • Work out with my friends. Solution: Challenge each other through apps or outdoor walks in masks.

  • Visit my best friend. Solution: Put on the masks, don’t hug and meet outdoors. For best results, quarantine ahead of time. My best friend is an ER doctor so we really can’t meet right now. We both agree it’s too dangerous.

  • Travel to new and foreign places on an airplane. Solution: I am grounded because it’s not worth the risk with my underlying condition. Other options for local travel are to drive in your own car.

  • Christmas shopping in person and New Year’s eve cheek kisses with strangers. Solution: WAIT!

  • Sit in the stands with thousands of others at football games, Baseball, Soccer and Hockey matches. Solution: Stream it. Sitting in a crowded venue for entertainment right now is risky. If you’re into the thrill of sports betting, you can bet online now on dadu online.

  • Attend Broadway shows. Solution: Broadway direct for the time being.

  • I want my girls to go to school and hang with their friends, chat with boys and eat lunch in the cafeteria like normal teenagers. Solution: Virtual is the only way to go right now for my girls but I am encouraging them to interact more so they feel less isolated.

  • I want birthday parties and weddings and baby showers. Solution: WAIT!

  • I want girls’ nights. Solution: Zoom cocktails for now.

Like my mom has always taught me, where there is a will there is way. Maybe the way is a little different but I’d rather learn new ways than to just feel like I’m always missing out. I don’t really want much just a return to normal. These are small goals that I can actively work towards and be happy. These past few months have taught me that I am resilient and strong but I’m also exhausted and I need people. I miss you all.

What are your Easy New Year’s Resolutions to Change Your Life for the Better?

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Mother's Day

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year for Mother’s Day. Normally, my only wish is peace, a clean house and not be needed. I appreciate a good day off of mom duty. I know it sounds selfish when so many moms just want to celebrate with their children or their moms but really all I want is a quiet house with no one asking anything of me. I want 24 hours of no responsibilities and no one depending on me for anything. I want to just be me. Somehow this Mother’s Day was more special than any other.

Normally, what I’ve wanted is exactly what the Big Guy has given me. It’s a Queen for the day situation. Well, to be honest, with the Big Guy, he always treats me like a queen just this queen has to do dishes and break up bickering matches between teenagers and fold laundry. Being a queen is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes, I just want to drive somewhere with my favorite music blaring singing at the top of my lungs or eat what I want to eat or watch a rated R movie or binge a foreign film series without judgment. I hate the feeling of expectation. You know when the world gives you some side-eye as it wonders pretty damn aloud, why you aren’t doing something else…something they deem productive? No, just me?

READ ALSO: A Mother’s Day I’ll Never Forget

I grew up in a house where weekends were not for sleeping in; they were for waking up even earlier to get more done. And you never had the luxury of being bored because my father would find some household chore for you to do. Everything was never always done and there was plenty to go around. And so, now, I find I almost impossible to relax if anyone else is around. If you are anyone who could possibly expect anything from me…you can rest assured that I cannot relax.

But this year, Mother’s Day fell on quarantine, so did the anniversary of my miscarriage which I observe every year as my national day of grief (this year I had an audience because everyone was underfoot), as did my husband’s birthday, our 21st wedding anniversary is this weekend and my daughter’s 13th birthday. This shelter in place is really jacking up life as we know it. My expectations for Mother’s Day were pretty low.

I didn’t expect gifts because who can go shopping. I didn’t expect fancy brunches at a restaurant or visits from my mom or my sisters. All I wanted was my day off but how? We’re all in this quarantine together so I couldn’t really expect alone time. All I really wanted was no bickering between the kids, no housework for me and not to have to worry about dinner. Done, done and done. But something was different, aside from the world being in a coronavirus tizzy… my girls did something different.

READ ALSO: Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead on Mother’s Day

I don’t know if it’s the fact that we’ve all been quarantined for over 2 months or the fact that they are getting older or maybe they just were trying to make me happy with their thoughtfulness but they surprised me. Both girls posted sweet messages on Instagram with pictures of us from when they were little. It wasn’t about the picture on social media it was the fact that they said how much they loved and appreciated me, with specifics, online, in front of everyone. They’re teens.

Not to be that person but my 15-year-old called me, “Diosa,” which means goddess. Fuck a queen, my girl thinks I’m a goddess and she called me her best friend. Then, she thanked me for making her the “bad bitch” she is. Now, I don’t like women being called bitches but when my teen thinks of herself as a “bad bitch” I call that a mom win.

My youngest, who I’m pretty sure hates me on most days because fucking hormones and she is my teen wonder twin, told me not only that she loves me so much but more importantly she said that I’m always there for her and never give up on her which I don’t ever but I wasn’t sure she realized that until that moment. The fact that she does lets me know that I’m on the right track. God knows we moms spend so much time trying to figure out what’s going on in our kids’ heads. It was so nice for them to tell me.

READ ALSO: The Best Mother’s Day Gift Ever

Not going to lie, I’ve done a lot of shit in my life. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m well-educated, well-traveled, I’m cultured and I believe that I can do anything that I set my mind to and still these two girls are and always will be my legacy, my greatest achievement. My goal is to raise good human beings and that’s a lifetime position. It’s hard work; it takes up all of my time, my energy, my heart and my soul but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Their words, those notes, unprompted and unsolicited expressions of love, meant more to me than any gift ever could.

I don’t know what you did for Mother’s Day or how your family celebrated you but I hope they made you feel like a Diosa, a goddess, and I hope you know how much they love and appreciate you. You’re a bad bitch and I see you. So when you’re tired, exhausted from no sleep, dealing with tantrums or bickering teens, sick children and it feels like nothing in the world is going right…you’re homeschooling and you’re never off duty, just remember inside the crazy storm of motherhood, there is a calmness. Motherhood is misery peppered with profound moments of bliss. I know I’m a day late because I was trying to just be yesterday but Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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How Coronavirus is a blessing in disguise

I’ve been having a large range of emotions the past few weeks, day 31 of social distancing for us. I feel, for lack of a better word, triggered emotionally and that’s saying a lot for someone who is susceptible to bouts of mania. My mental health has to be at the front of my mind, even now when I can think of nothing else but my physical health and well-being and the health of everyone around me, everyone I love…everyone I know; my friends, my family, coworkers, the children I spent my days teaching and nurturing even the strangers I surround myself every single day all around the world. Maybe coronavirus is a blessing in disguise for all of us?

READ MORE: What every mom should know about Coronavirus

It’s everywhere; on the news, in my feeds, in texts from friends and conversations with loved ones. I can’t turn it off. I try. I zone out. I try to keep my mind occupied. I try to stay positive. We are resilient and there are bright spots amid this gloom of coronavirus. I fill my days with other things while trying to stay sane while living in place. I feel like I am metaphorically treading water to avoid drowning in my own thoughts. On some days, I feel like if I stop for one moment I could completely lose my grip on reality, I’ve felt this way since about day 11 (the day we officially are ordered to stay home) I can barely remember what day it is.

Through my fear, I can’t help feeling like Coronavirus is a Blessing in Disguise for All of Us

I’ve tried to see the positive. We’re alive. We’re safe. We’re at home together. But then I take a deep breath and realize that nothing is normal, I’m a prisoner in a beautiful cage and my fellow prisoners are delusional. I have to hold it together, I’m not afforded the luxury of being able to lose my shit because if I do, the entire house of cards will come tumbling down. This is my circus, these are my monkeys and the fucking world is on fire. Deep breaths, Debi. We can do this.

READ ALSO: Doctor on Front Line of Coronavirus Gave Up her Kids to Save You

There is no positive about the coronavirus except for the fact that it’s making us all slow down. Sure, it may be from school closures and crippling anxiety but we’re getting a forced reset and perspectives are changing. I mean who gives a fuck whether or not the Bernie Bros are going to have an all-out war with the MAGA hat wearers when the entire world has been set on fire? Not me.

The only thing that matters to me right now in this moment, life in the time of Corona (virus), is how we survive with our families intact. Everything else is bullshit.  Everything else is literally unimportant. So, let’s let it all fall away. Forget about fancy meals and perfect houses. Let’s practice patience and grace. Let’s embrace gratitude and think of the bigger picture.

How Coronavirus is a blessing in disguiseThis is temporary and as horrible as the coronavirus pandemic may feel, this is a gift; a blessing.

In the end, I think we will be kinder, more compassionate and better human beings. When I talk to my friends now, we really listen. We check in on one another; really check in and care. We have become a nation of lifelines for one another. We are more in tune with our bodies and our minds. We are moving more. We are re-prioritizing every single thing and the unimportant things are falling to the wayside while the most important things are coming clearer into focus because the noise of the world is fading.

READ ALSO: Interview with an ER doctor on the front lines fo Coronavirus

Strangers smile and say hi. My daughters have moved through their bickering phase and into a comfortable place of thankfulness for one another. They not only love one another, they show it and no longer take one another for granted. My husband who has always been my best friend has become my hero. He is my rock and when I start to go off the rails and buckle under the fear and pressure, he is there to grab my hand and tell me that it will be alright and I hope I’m doing the same for him. Together we’ll get through it.

I long for the faces of my parents and my brothers and sisters. I remember that they always have been there for me but the promise of tomorrow is not a certainty. I have hope that in time we will all be together again, for now, we check in on one another in the only ways we can. 6 feet apart drive-bys to say hello to my friends and family have become the highlights of my day.

I’m thankful for my job that allows me to work from home. I’m thankful for my husband’s job that understands even though he is essential, his family is immunocompromised and makes allowances for that. I’m so thankful for bosses who understand the mental strain that living through a pandemic puts on even the strongest person. I’m grateful for the grace and patience that we are all showing one another.

How can it be that even in such a horrible situation, Coronavirus is a Blessing in Disguise?

It’s all a matter of perspective. Staying home was not anything I ever imagined would be forced upon us as a nation. I’m an extrovert and while I’ve longed for moments of peace and quiet, I never wished for forced removal from society. I’m scared. I know too much; we all do. All we can do is to do our part, be safe, stay home and support the heroes who save us all; the healthcare workers who sacrifice so much to take care of us and our loved ones, the grocers and restaurant workers who make sure we are fed, the delivery people, the police, EMTs, firefighters and other civil service workers who risk everything to keep us safe.

Remember this is temporary, even though it feels like forever when you’re living through it. Feel what you need to feel okay with the circumstances. There are no rules right now. Just survival. Let go of expectations and if you need to cry or be mad or just not care, just do that. All of your feels are valid. There are no wrong ways. But please give yourself and those around you grace and patience. None of us have ever been through this before.

READ ALSO: The Importance of Friendship

In the end, I think we’ll all be better people from this. We are having greatness thrust upon us. This is the time to rise to the occasion. Be kinder, be better, think of others and remember to breathe and laugh. Drop off snacks at your neighbor’s doorsteps. Have a pizza delivered to your brother’s family for lunch. Order groceries for your elderly parents and have them delivered. Tip your delivery people.

Share your time, your experience and your abundance. Give of yourself but give to yourself to. Stay safe. Be well and I can’t wait to celebrate with all of you when this is over. For now, celebrate your health, your life and the kindness and efforts of those around you. We’re all struggling. You are not alone.

How are you holding up during this pandemic? Hoping you and your family are staying healthy and being safe. I know this pandemic is horrible and hurting a lot of people but theoretically, do you feel like the coronavirus could be a blessing in disguise?

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we learn kindness, be kind, live with gratitude, give forgiveness, forgive, kindness

Ever had someone cut you off on the road or honk at you and it really irritated you? Ever find yourself cursing someone out and flipping them off in the car because they did something stupid? Maybe you’ve let someone else’s loud, obnoxious opinion make you feel less than and make you angry. I mean, seriously, who among us hasn’t? I’m not saying you have to be the bigger person but we never know what someone else is going through. But we can choose to live with gratitude and forgiveness and we can learn kindness.

The thing is you end up upset and they don’t give a shit. Honestly, they have no idea and no concern about how their actions affected you. You have just given someone who probably doesn’t matter in the least in your life, power over your happiness. Now, if you saw your friend do the same exact thing, you would stop them and talk them out of it but it’s not so easy when we’re caught up in the moment ourselves. Be gentle and kind to yourself. It’s hard to step back and just take it in before reacting.

Stop, breathe, forgive and be kind

I’m not judging. I’ve gotten angry, been judgemental and reacted poorly and/or aggressively many times throughout my life. In fact, I’m kind of notorious for it in my family and I’m a little embarrassed by my quick temper. I’ve always had this sense of justice that demands that I let people know that they’ve wronged me. Maybe it’s naiveté or maybe I just have to have the last word, I’m not sure anymore but, with age comes wisdom (or so I’d like to think) and my perspective has altered since having kids and again, more recently, once I started to forgive myself. It is now infinitely easier to forgive others.

READ ALSO: You’ve got to Do Right Woman

For years, I have been giving people’s bad behavior the benefit of the doubt. I gave birth and then suddenly, I shifted from “must chase this person who cut me off and almost killed me” to “maybe they have diarrhea”, “Maybe they’re on their way to the hospital”, “maybe they’re late for their wedding.” You can call it making excuses for people, and maybe I am, but I feel like it’s looking for the good in people. I don’t want to believe that all people are jerks. I think, mostly, people are good. Well, except for the racists, misogynists, bigots and homophobes, they need God. But other than that, I think most people want to make good choices.

You can choose to live with gratitude and kindness

You guys, my readers, my followers, my friends, you have made me a better person. Many times you have soothed my hurting heart, shared in my celebrations, loved my children, encouraged and supported our family on our journey from the beginning. You’ve been with me every step of the way on my health journey, my pregnancy loss and all the ups and downs that life has thrown my way over the past decade. I see you. I appreciate you and you’ve renewed my faith in humankind. You’ve opened my eyes and shown me alternate perspectives. You’ve given me hope when I thought there was none. Thank you. And yesterday, you held me in your optimism one more time.

READ ALSO: How I Reversed My Type 2 Diabetes

Yesterday, many of you commented on a post that I had on social media about how I’ve worked really hard to reverse a terrifying diagnosis. I didn’t share it to brag. I shared it to let others know that there is hope. There is a way and if I can do it, so can you. I was proud of the work and the results. You did not fail to once again lift me up. I felt it. The support and encouragement were humbling but you wrapped me in it like a warm, cozy blanket and lifted my heart to a place of impenetrable gratitude. That’s a beautiful place to be in the world.

After a walk where I nearly wept at the beauty all around me (I told you it was a day of gratitude), I could feel life’s blessings falling all around me. I literally walked counting blessings and praying for everyone I know. I like to pray using people’s names. I want blessings for everyone. Anyways, after my walk and a day of exhaling after months of holding my breath, I drove to pick Bella up from school for a doctor’s appointment. A typical day in the neighborhood over here.

Consideration and respect is a small kindness that we can all offer

I was in a great mood. I had a hilarious texting mishap with my sister-in-law and we were both laughing. I was whole body laughing. Serotonin was everywhere. It was glorious. There I was in the pick-up line at school, singing my heart out to The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles (you know from that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold is sitting up in the attic watching old home videos? Yep, gets me in the feels every damn time) when suddenly but what at my door did appear? A very angry woman.

READ ALSO: Permission to be Ourselves

A mom behind me in the pick-up line had, literally, jumped out of her car, ran up to my window and proceeded to beat on my car window while I was lowering it to see what she wanted. She looked so angry. I met her irrationality with calm. She was yelling and her hands were flying around (I’m not talking shit, I am a proud Mexican hand talker), she was clearly angry but I couldn’t understand what I did to warrant such a reaction.

As she screamed at me that I needed to move because I was “holding up the entire pick-up line” (clearly she doesn’t understand how the front of the pick-up line works. We were all waiting), she screamed, “Do you understand that you are holding up the line?” Then I was completely confused because in pick-up line (especially at the beginning when school is letting out) everyone is holding up the line at one point or another. I could see that whatever was really bothering her clearly went way beyond me and where I was parked. So, I calmly (completely out of character for me) said, “I’m also waiting to pick up my daughter who has a doctor’s appointment now. She’s coming out in a few seconds.”

Choosing kindness is not always easy

She continued to scream that I was blocking her and I began to worry that maybe she had a bleeding body in the back of her SUV that needed to get to the ER. She was so urgent. Her arms were flailing and her face was red and I saw that this woman needed the win of me moving more than I needed to rationalize any of this or win the argument. I quietly and calmly let her finish her say and I said, “OK, I’ll move.” She responded with annoyance. I think she wanted me to be as upset as her but I just wasn’t. I wouldn’t allow myself to be. Then I chuckled because another text from my sister-in-law popped up and I thought this poor woman’s head was going to explode. I wished her a blessed day. I meant it.

READ ALSO: Do you suffer from “other shoe” syndrome?

No joke, I prayed for her. I hope her day got better. I don’t know what was going on in her life yesterday but it must have been massive. It must have felt overwhelming and for that I’m sorry for her. I wish I could make it all better.

I moved my car. I ended up at the front of the line. Everybody saw what had just transpired, no one gave me any issues for pulling right up to the front door as my daughter walked out. Bella got in the car, I gave her a smile and a kiss hello and we went on our way to the doctor. Meanwhile, that same very angry woman was still waiting for her daughter, behind someone else. I didn’t see anything on the news about her yanking anyone from their car and beating them, so I’m assuming everything turned out ok.

We don’t always know what others are going through

I’m telling you this not to make fun of this woman or to marginalize her suffering, whatever it may be, but to remind you to not give others space in your heart, mind and soul. Like most people these days, I have a lot on my plate and I simply don’t have that much space to give. In fact, I’m trying to do a deep purge of my life to eliminate negative things and people who are taking up too much space already. I’m all for saving space in my life for loved ones but life’s too short to let strangers or even toxic friends and family take up valuable space in my heart with negativity and hurt.

READ ALSO: How Grinch almost stole Mommy

All this to say, especially as a reminder this holiday season, we cannot choose how people behave and we do not know the circumstance in which others are existing (life can be hard for so many reasons) but we can control how we move through the world and how we react to other people’s actions. Be kind to everyone. It’s free and requires minimum effort. A random smile or a kind gesture can go a long way to quell someone having a bad day but also, it’s not your responsibility to worry about the entire world. Be patient and tolerant but be mindful and forgiving of others and yourself. If none of that works, walk away. You’ve done your best.

Most importantly, be joyful and grateful in all that you do and your heart will be full and your load will be lighter.

Thank you for reminding me of the power of people with your interactions and remember, you never know what someone else is going through. It could be the worst day of their life. So next time someone flips you off, cuts you off or mumbles something mean under their breath, just smile and move along because you can’t change their bad behavior (you have no control, you are not the boss of them) but maybe your kindness can knock them off guard just enough to snap them out of whatever is worrying, scaring or angering them. Go forward and be blessed.

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Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will, envy, pushing past fear, being your best self

On the wall in my office, these words, “Doubt Kills More Dreams than Failure Ever Will,” are posted as a reminder. A reminder to not compare myself to others but to work my tail off to be my best self. I want to do better and be better as a human being; as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter and writer. First thing’s first, stay in my own lane and don’t even look to the other lanes.

Let’s talk about envy and competition. I hate both because it involves comparing myself against others which is unfair because we’re not the same. Competition takes life and turns it into an unending race rather than the journey that it’s meant to be. It’s exhausting and seldom enjoyable. It’s not the road I want to take.

READ ALSO: A Life that’s Good

How can we enjoy life when we’re constantly measuring ourselves against someone else. How can we compare our worst day to their best and ever feel like we’ve succeeded? How can we even have authentic relationships if comparison enters the picture? My whole life I’ve been pushing comparison to others to the side and trying to ignore it but still, it remains like a soft whisper reminding me of ways that I’m falling short.

I’ll be 1000% honest with you, I struggle with not using others as a measuring stick of my own success. It’s hard because I’m always striving for perfection and that doesn’t even exist so not only am I running this constant race but the finish line keeps moving. Did I mention that I hate running?

Envy steals rational thought

I have the privilege of surrounding myself with hardworking, overachievers and I’m so happy and proud of them. Their hard work is paying off. But sometimes, I find myself asking, “Why not me?” I know it’s petty and childish but it’s not something I deliberately do. I’m genuinely happy for their success and at the same time disappointed in myself. There I go comparing myself to them.

I don’t think any of this is luck. They are not lucky. In fact, if we’re being really honest with ourselves, we know why “other people” are living their best lives and seemingly always succeeding. They are tirelessly working to achieve their goals, they are pushing past the fears to make their dreams a reality and they are sacrificing. There is no such thing as luck, it’s hard work.

Maybe I’m succeeding by someone else’s standards but by my own, I’m treading water. I take full responsibility for this situation. I’m dead afraid of failure. I want to succeed but sometimes I’m so afraid of being exposed as an imposter that it’s easier to hide behind the status quo. I’m a control freak so when I fail the onus is directly on me.

READ ALSO: Words Matter

I try to do everything myself. I have issues trusting others to complete tasks and I always find it easier in the short run to only depend on myself and that’s also a part of why I can’t achieve what I want to. No woman is an island. We all have different strengths. We need each other to succeed. I need to let go. I’m working on that. I’m trying to ask for help when I need it without worrying that I’ll be outed as an imposter.

When I find myself envying my friends, my brain says don’t compare yourself to others but something small inside me feels less than for a moment. I feel like I’ve failed myself. Worse, I feel like I’m not good enough because if I were I’d be the one getting chosen. Then, rational thought kicks in and I remember to stay in my lane. It’s a process.

Success is relative. If I were basing my success on my relationship with my girls and the Big Guy, I’m winning. If I’m basing it on my Instagram, I’m failing. If I’m basing it on my opportunities, it depends on the day of the week.

READ ALSO: Other Shoe Syndrome

For now, I’m trying to follow my own advice and remember that I’m not you and you’re not me. Our definition of success is probably different, as are our priorities. I’m trying to learn to measure myself only against who I was yesterday compared to who I want to be tomorrow. I want to be the best me that I can be and I really am happy for you, even if for 1 split second I wonder why not me.

Do you ever struggle with feeling like an imposter? Do you ever experience envy? Do you ever find yourself asking, “Why not me?” You are not alone, we all have those moments. We’re only human. They key is not to dwell there. Don’t live there. You are better than that and so am I.

How do you move past your envy and remind yourself that doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will?

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