What Worked

 

I’ve resisted writing this post, mainly because it is designed to introduce our December Challenge and I am in shock that it is December. I think I am still trying to get through the month of September. Like, wait, September has 75 days, right? Right. GOTTA GET THIS BACK TO SCHOOL THING figured out. 

 

I’ve also avoided it because of the topic, which is focused on “What Worked”. I mean is that a question or a statement? I don’t know. Haha. As I braved the keyboard in the face of this topic, I discovered that the resistance here is less about feeling negative towards “what worked” and more about becoming aware that I need to do some paleontologist level digging to find what actually worked. And, yes, this is where I imagine myself stuck in some southwestern desert, with a magnifying glass and some teeny tiny tools, dusting off some hopeful looking rocks.

 

For me and for so many people I know, the past few months (ahem years) have felt like one shoe dropping after another. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone mumble, I don’t know how much more I can take. I’ve even said out loud to friends, “So wait, is this normal grown up life?” I have so many questions in this vein. I mean, for real, did our parents’ generation deal with this and we as kids were just not aware or not in the loop? Is it social media? And necessary news coverage? Is it hyper accessibility? Because I don’t remember shoes dropping from the sky constantly when I was a child, even though there were traumas and stressors. And, of course, generations before us dealt with horrific things and often. So, why does this all feel like it does … constant … extra … unknown?

 

The result for me is that any “wins” from the last year have been covered over with a layer of grime formed in the fumes of endurance. Ah yes, endurance. That’s a polite reframe of survival mode, if I’m honest, but I think it’s a worthy one. We all have endured and we continue to endure. We know that we’re not out of the woods, that nothing will be like it once was, and that our basic safety structures are no longer what they used to be. This means that our new framework for life is now enmeshed mostly in how we get through the unpredictable, rather than “when this is over” or “when things are normal again”.

 

I suppose this is where wise people and thinkers come in. The ones that teach the idea that our expectations of ease are actually the real causes of misery. They remind us that life is more of a bumpy road with occasional smooth moments than anything else. Our prompt here, then, is to find joy and meaning in the bumpy terrain. I get this more now than ever. It has been relentlessly uncomfortable to wake up each day and feel like life is out to get me or to look up at the sky and say WHAT NEXT? I feel a certain calm in figuring out how to stay hopeful and whole while dealing with life on life’s terms. It reminds me of a pair of weathered hands at the end of a long life … they were used and they suffered and they are wrinkled, but they were used. They found a way to make stuff, hold stuff, open stuff, do stuff. They endured. 

 

So, for this month ahead, I’ve decided to go all in on this personal paleontology dig to find what has worked in my life over the last year, which also gives me a new way to celebrate the refresh of the new year ahead. Fortunately for me and for you, we get to be led by the brilliant Stephanie Steiner, who is a meditation teacher amongst the many other skills she embodies. She will help us deal with these human experiences and these bigger needy needs in a way that feels, well, doable. And, for me right now, that matters more than anything else. Doable. 

 

This is your official call to join me this next month in our December Challenge: What Worked, which starts on Monday, December 6th. You’ll get daily content on this subject AND prompts to show up for 5-15 minutes of functional exercise each day. If you are a current member, simply login and then click on Challenges in the teal navigation menu. If you are not yet a member, woohoo, half your challenge is on us. Simply sign up for a 14-day free trial today, then login and click on Challenges in the teal navigation menu.

 

Oh and YOU CAN ALSO GIFT the challenge to a friend, the link to which you can find at the handy Challenges link I have already mentioned too many times hahahaha. 

 

Ok. Off we go. See you soon. 

Bye Bye Sludge

 

I’ve been stuck in a vortex of my own life problems lately. I think you have been too. And OF COURSE we have. It’s been a lot for basically every person I know for the past couple of years and, well, we are fatigued. We’ve noticed here at MommaStrong that our normal new customer count and our normal engagement in our community is down. And we know that this is a reflection of all the things we are all carrying, especially caretakers, and the general resignation that has developed after the fatigue. 

 

I don’t like this feeling. I know the technical term has been identified as “languishing”, but it feels like sludge. I want it to be called sludging. I am sludging. In any case, I am not a fan of it. I keep thinking I’ll wake up one morning and be like, oh there’s the ping, there’s the spark and my engine will get moving and I’ll feel like engaging in the world again in a bigger way. But it hasn’t happened yet. 

 

Yet.

 

This is an important word in these moments. Even though I am super fan of catastrophizing and making permanent terrible things that happen or that I am feeling, this word “yet” reminds me that there is more ahead. It reminds me that all things in life change whether I do anything or not. It also reminds me that sometimes I have to be the one to begrudgingly turn the volume up a bit if I want change to happen more efficiently. This is that moment. Getting up from the metaphorical couch in which I lost my metaphorical remote and having to turn the volume up on the actual metaphorical TV.

 

PS: Why are these new remotes so sleek and hideable? They need to have Velcro and be neon yellow. Just saying.

 

I’ve been here before, we all have. We’ve had to clean out our closets or do the gnarly task we’ve been avoiding. We’ve had to wake up in the middle of the night to deal with needs of children. We’ve had to jolt awake at 5:30am even after staying up until 2:30am for alone time. And isn’t it true that these “had-to” moments in our lives happened because they are in service of something outside of ourselves? 

 

I’m not suggesting that we exploit this service-oriented tendency to make positive life changes for ourselves. In fact, let’s run far away from that. However, I am suggesting that we pay attention to the reality that we as humans are helpers. And I believe this is true because it has been shown to me over and over that when people focus on something bigger than themselves, things improve for the individual and for the community. It’s like this beautiful built-in feature to humanity that has been shrouded a bit in the sludge—at least for me—these last few months … maybe years. 

 

And, so, I am bringing myself back to this feature, but I have decided to be committed to doing service work well. That means that I need to do some education first about what help is, how I might need it, how others might need it, and what qualifies as good help. Some of this education might be uncomfortable because it will require I take care of myself first and also confront some biases about my privilege, my assumptions, and my capabilities. BUT. I want to do this well. I want to be a part of something bigger for the sake of having the volume turned up a bit on being part of the solution in humanity. 

 

Ooof. I just felt “it” a bit. A little tiny heartbeat of forward facing action, the sort that brings meaning and demands positive change … all the things that I think set us stable in this wobbly human existence. I hope to extend this tiny heartbeat your way this month in our November Challenge in which we will be re-introducing you all to our program Share the Show Up. We’ll talk about its history, its current function, and—BEST OF ALL—be led by our own Monique Cortes, LCSW in unlearning and relearning how we can be in-service. She will be talking about so many topics, from microaggressions to checking your privilege to making a doable action plan. I cannot wait to learn from her.

 

Come join us. It starts sooooooooon, like this Monday because apparently November is like BOO on our calendar. So, get yourself signed up and ready. You can do that as an existing member by logging in to your account on mommastrong.com and then clicking on “Challenges” in the teal navigation menu. If you are not yet a member, you can sign up for MommaStrong today and then follow those instructions.

 

PS: You get 14 days free when you sign up, so half the challenge is on us. 

 

Ok. Heartbeat, you hear it? Let’s jump in together and reset the helping way ahead. See you on Monday!

 

Oh Scary

 

I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Wyatt the other night and instead of reading from years of muscle memory, I really read it. And you know how it goes, there’s this caterpillar and it is very hungry and it eats everything it possibly can and then it goes to take a good long nap in a cocoon and then it comes out as a beautiful butterfly. It’s sweet and basic, which is why I was surprised when I had a pretty strong response to it. I mean, I started crying. Like, actually crying. I just suddenly felt so so so scared for this butterfly, which made me then realize that of course I was feeling scared for me.

 

Dang kids’ books. 

 

The take away was that I am not very honest with myself about my fears. In fact, I even tell myself that I’m not afraid of much, that I’ve been through a lot, and that I can handle big life stuff. And, so, I have concocted this idea that if I am afraid of something, it needs to be profound and I need to dress it up in quotable tinkerings and usher them out to the world with dots connected.

 

Alas, fear—true fear—prefers the basics, the fundamentals. It prefers courageous transparency and zero apologies. In fact, I’m starting to understand that my fear just wants to be named for what it is. Doing anything other than that just means that I end up circling the dragon. I do everything else other than deal with the actual issue. 

 

So, I’ll use this post to simply name a current pressing fear of mine, without costume or courtesy: I am scared to put myself to sleep at a decent bedtime and become a rested human. 

 

There it is. 

 

Sure, there’s more here. Yes, this is connected to the dangers of being visible, of spreading my wings, etc. But, I have looked at all those things at length for a long time now and it hasn’t scratched the itch. So, when I boil it down to the nuts and bolts, I can see that these bigger things are connected to the base fear of tucking myself in at night and shutting things down for rest. You know, the cocoon. 

 

As I was thinking about this blog and how to undress this topic, I kept coming back to an image of my former fish, all of whom died in The Texas Freeze last February. When we first got the tank, I was like no no no no no. I fed them, but refused to look or spend time or get connected. I somehow knew that if I did, I would fall in love with these fragile creatures and their wild ecosystem. And, of course, this is what happened. I especially fell in love with the snails, which you may know because I have definitely already written about them. A lot. 

 

But, then, The Freeze. They didn’t survive, not a single one and not a tiny bit of their ecosystem. I felt terrible for not having a backup heating system. For not having a way to keep them warmer. And having to dunk the tank out in the backyard with these sweet friends was crushing. I still get emotional about it, honestly. And they were fish and snails and things that aren’t pettable pets. But, wow. 

 

The truth here is that I bonded with them, I became attached. I took really good care of them. So, their deaths felt rough. I think this must be underneath how scary it feels to tuck myself in at night. If I take better care of myself, if I grow attached to this body of mine, if I befriend it, then I also become more aware of my mortality. There’s something about always being tired and always being burned out that keeps me on the other side of the fish tank glass. I don’t have to swim in the unknown, I just keep going and going and going and going. 

 

Being rested, on the other hand, is tethered to healing, to knowing, to saying no to myself and others, to not always being in control, to not always being a hero, and to being healthy. And if I am healthy, then I feel like there is a lot more to lose. 

 

Whew.

 

I’m going to stop there because it’s a lot to think about. And, also it’s not. I just need to tuck myself in and create some change in this fear of mine. Give it a big hug and let it know that we’re going to lead it a different way. And for this, well, I need some help. Which is why this month’s October Challenge is exactly the right one: The What Scares You Challenge. We are so fortunate to be led this month by our talented and insightful member, Isabelle Wright, as we learn about fear and we take some steps to naming and loving it. 

 

You can register now for the challenge, which starts on Monday, October 4th and you have through that day to grab your spot. If you are a current member, you simply login in at MommaStrong.com, then click on the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation bar. If you are not yet a member, you can join by signing up for a membership with MommaStrong and then follow the instructions above. And, hey, you have 14 days free after you sign up, so basically half the scary month is on us. OH, and bring a friend, which is made super easy because you can actually gift them the challenge (see at the bottom of the Challenges page).

 

Ok. I shall see you in the cocoon, I mean challenge. Night night. 

 

Not So Serious

 

I’m here today to be a cushion. Because September, in general—for most primary caretakers—is a shit sandwich. We’ve got back-to-school and kids anxieties and emails and school supplies and evening meetings with no childcare and so much driving and medical forms and a foggy brain after 3 months of constant caretaking. And then, this year, we also have a world on fire in all the ways it is on fire. You see, normally in September, the shit sandwich still has a bun. It still has a squishy exterior in the form of eventual settling into school and a return to semi-normalcy, plus some socializing with friends who understand and, you know, a predictable train of normal stressors that are part of grown up life.

 

But this year we have no bun. We are a shit sandwich cushioned by sandpaper. And I can’t help but draw from my experience as a person diagnosed with C-PTSD (PTSD Type 2) and substance use disorder. It should also be said that I am a friendly comrade here, not a professional, so everything I am about to say is just amateur thoughts. Aka, seek a professional for more help on this. So, yes, my experience of C-PTSD is that in my personal life, I endured a state of chronic trauma for decades that resulted in my nervous system becoming acutely tuned to finding a way to survive even under danger or threat. My nervous system believes—and has proof—that the trauma I have experienced could happen again and might also be still happening. BUT my nervous system has tricked me into thinking that I am not experiencing a trauma. Hahaha. That is right. It doesn’t wave a flag and say, ALERT ALERT DANGER. Instead, it says: Everything is ok and you can totally be safe if you do x,y, and z right now even if x,y, and z are really not rational. Because it wants me to survive, regulate, and adapt at all costs. 

 

There are many nuances of this and my experience is not that of others. But the reason I am bringing it up is that, for me, this state of a trauma response removes me from being centered in myself. It removes me from a pause and a reflection. It removes me from humor and contemplation. It removes me for seeking hope and places me in seeking disaster avoidance. It removes me from feeling communicative and leaves me feeling private and locked down. It removes me from joy. From possibility. From real solutions. From healthy decisions. From clarity. In essence, I become a survival junkie.

 

I am not suggesting that this is where you are, but I am saying that from my vantage point in MommaStrong, I do have a bird’s eye view over the general state of wellness of caretakers. I can tell when we’re in fighting mode, when we’re connected, when we’re relieved. I can also tell when we are in survival junkie mode and suffering in invisible ways. I can see this through how many people are logging in, how many people are talking in the community, the topics we are discussing, the general tone of responses, and how many people are taking the risk to become members. Sure, these might sound like business numbers, but when you step away from the business analysis, you can see that there’s a pulse in here in regards to how caretakers are doing at any given moment. Do we have space to care for ourselves? Do we have room to take risks? Do we have room to talk to each other? Do we believe it matters? Do we feel seen?

 

And I can say, from that casual data, that right now most of us are in it right now. We are dealing with a similar feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, holding our breath, and trying to keep our sweet kiddos from feeling how fried and frayed we are. We don’t have room for anything else. We are in the middle of the great big unknown and are just wondering if we are going to be ok. We used to assume that eventually we would be ok and now we are like, but will we be ok? 

 

So. Here’s the cushion. We are not going to figure this out or feel better by thinking harder or doing better. No. We all need two things: Time and proof of change. Some of this we have control over and some of it we don’t. Either way, right now, we need to be kind to ourselves and we need to treat our nervous systems like a sweet child with the flu. Water, rest, food, and love. Repeat. 

 

Yes, life will march on. And, yes, we need to take action in so many directions. This doesn’t mean we dip out of life and resign from action. But, we need to also know that our nervous systems need to rebuild their buns on the shit sandwich. In fact, it may be that the right action comes only when the bun rebuilds. 

 

Here at MommaStrong we are taking the month of September to cushion your nervous systems. While you do all the hard stuff you are doing, we want to soothe your nervous system, give it a breather. We’ve decided that one of the best ways to do this is to provide you some humor, some grace, some shared fails … and so, this month is The Not So Serious Challenge. Each day, you will get to read a fellow member’s funny, flawed, embarrassing stories of showing up. And, I’ve read the submissions and yesssssssssssssssssss. This. This is good. 

 

Join us. The Not So Serious Challenge starts on Monday, Sept 6th which is, yes, Labor Day. But all good. Do 5-15 minutes of movement in which you only have to click play and I take care of the rest. And then read through these stories of humanity that will remind you that there is still magic in this world on fire and that we can do this. We will do this. You will get to remember that you have reserves. Let us be what supports your reserves. You can join as a current member by clicking on Challenges in the teal navigation menu. If you are not yet a member, simply join MommaStrong today and then login and then click on Challenges

 

I can’t wait to be here with you this month. Remember: Water, food, rest, and love. I will keep you company until you feel better, I promise.

The Strength to Carry


It ought to be known that I am obsessed with the series Alone. Hahahaha. I feel ok admitting this because the more I do, the more people whom I love and respect are like, omg, I do too. It ought to also be known that I had to take a break from watching it because I caught myself being extra judgy about contestants who had lost their ferro rods and/or didn’t make a shelter a priority—because I have, you know, expert primitive life skills from watching three seasons and all. Right? Right. In any case, I realized why I love this show so much:

 

#1 They are all alone. Sounds so nice, not gonna lie. And I know I know, they are like surviving and it wouldn’t actually be nice. But, wow. Alone.

 

#2 I feel like motherhood has totally prepared me to be a Ms. Macgyver in the wilderness, even with extreme sleep deprivation and stalking predators.

 

#3 The show’s winner is always the person who has the most inner strength and actual survival experience, and this feels affirming and inspiring.

 

Before I go on, I want to say that I know nothing about these people nor am I saying that this show is actually anything awesome. It’s just a weird thing I have been overthinking. But, when I think about the #3 item above, I also realize that this is the “something bigger” here that draws me to the show. I guess we live our whole lives thinking that winners are people who are the toughest, the most physically fit, the most positive, the most focused, and the most confident. And, on this show, the truth comes out. Confidence means very little in the wild. What matters most? Two things: A resilient relationship with your own emotional world AND hard-fought experience. 

 

Also, interestingly, the people who are left standing in Alone do not shy away from falling apart emotionally or expressing difficulty. In Season 7, in fact, one of the contestants (I will not spoil it) spends about 95% of his air time openly grieving in a raw way the passing of his mother. Another incredible woman spends most of her air time bouncing between sobbing or cheering with joy, having to pick herself up and begin again each morning. I realized after that season that THIS is what it looks like to know how to carry the burdens of surviving life and learning to be with suffering. Maybe this is what inner strength looks like: You have the ability to fall apart, reconstitute yourself, learn, and repeat over and over. Courage is not static. Strength is not still. These things bend and turn and wane and build. And you stay with yourself as they do. More essentially, you don’t hate yourself when they do. 

 

It makes me think of the palliative care doctor and author of That Good Night, Dr Sunita Puri, whose life work is about helping people accept the eventual conflict of their identity and their body’s agreement with that identity. Yes, she deals with end of life, but I do believe that people who work in this realm have a lot to teach us. Her experience has taught her that life is a bunch of temporary shifts into circumstances we can’t control or change. Our inner strength resides in being present for all these shifts and doing what we can, when we can. She says, “By accepting my patients’ circumstances, rather than fixating on their inherent tragedy, I could focus instead on changing what I could.”

 

Now, I do know that I am simplifying this idea in a big way and maybe, like me, you’ll be tempted to go grab some self-help books or maybe enroll in an online course. Maybe this feels frustrating because, I don’t know, we’ve been led to believe our whole lives that something outside of ourselves can and will ease our pain. But don’t we all learn that external things don’t work? People will disappoint us. Vices will hurt. Quick fixes will dissipate. Diversion will prolong. As someone very important in my life used to always say to me, “You can’t buy bread at a hardware store.” In other words, you’re not going to get what you need from a source that doesn’t have it. So, couldn’t it be true that the bread store is inside of us?

 

That’s my question and it feels obvious now that I write it. Like, DUH. Isn’t that what all the spiritual experts and calm humans already know? So, blergh. This feels obvious. Then again, maybe it is not obvious because, yes, a lot of us have heard this and a lot of us know this. BUT, how many of us actually practice it? How many of us have actually been able to say, ok, what do I need to carry my life and my suffering? That’s actually hard work and that is actually rare work. 

 

In my own life, I came to a point where I had to close the self-help books and external stuff. I’ve had to just roll up my sleeves and live like a survivor on Alone, which means I’ve had to learn how to pause before I call the rescue team and develop discernment about my reality and what it needs. And, PS, there’s nothing wrong with calling the rescue team. Sometimes it is the exact right thing to do. BUT, this means that I’ve had to learn to come home to my body, to use the resources in here and the deep knowing and to muster the strength to hold myself to a challenge without fleeing. 

 

So, this month in our August Challenge, we are going to be talking about The Strength to Carry. And since we are MommaStrong, we are going to focus mainly on how our physical integration and body awareness can be an excellent tool in your toolkit for getting through something in life that is challenging. Lucky for us, our new MommaStrong trainers, certified this past spring, will be guiding us through with their process in this topic. They will be sharing what they are carrying and then leaning into what they are doing to develop the strength to not flee. I’m so thrilled that you will meet them in this way and I am so thrilled to be led by them this month myself.

 

The challenge starts Monday, August 2nd, which is great timing before the major shifts of the end of summer head our way, quickly. If you are a current member, you can register for this month’s challenge by clicking on the Challenges link in the teal navigation menu once logged in. If you are not yet a member, sign up today and then follow those instructions. AND, bonus, here’s also a little general intro to our new trainers so you can meet them before diving into the deeper stuff. 

 

Until then, do not binge Alone because I said so. It may not be as enlightening as I am saying. I am weird like that. But, if you get to Season 7 and you get to the episode with face lotion, please send me a message. BECAUSE WOW.

 

Hunger

 

Every once in a while, I find myself outside the house at dusk. I’m usually surrounded by irritable children, attempting a picnic where the food isn’t right and the forks are missing and the flies are buzzing … or I’m on a risky errand way too close to toddler bedtime and so I’m belting out NSYNC Bye Bye Bye which seems to be the winning tune in terms of keeping a 2 year old awake. But, even in those moments, with my attention parked on wrangling and managing, I catch a glimpse of the golden light, the pink and orange clouds. I see bats darting around low and high, signaling the sky to darken. I feel a breeze even on the hottest of days and I smell in the air the closure of things. And I see young professionals walking slowly—hands free—into grocery stores and restaurants and yoga classes. I see people riding bikes without wagons attached, without a time stamp on adventure. I wonder, But will they ride past 8pm?

 

I think resentful thoughts at first. And then sad thoughts. I think about lost time and lost autonomy. I think about how dusk has been hijacked by bedtimes for the last 15 years of my life and, ugh, I just feel loss so big that it could crush my snack-ridden, three rowed SUV.  

 

Whew.

 

It is hard for us caretakers to admit this. We wait for the fixers of the world to come in and say, “Ask for help” or “Get a babysitter” or “Savor this time, you will miss it one day”. And then our grief is run over by shame and we remember, Oh, don’t say those things out loud.

 

But, I know that we all know a much more nuanced truth, one that speaks of the depth of all of us: Caretakers are whole people. We can share a hunger for the parts we miss about our pre-kid lives with an intense love for the privilege of raising children. They can exist together. In fact, what if hunger is just as important to express as love? What if that defines our personhood as much as our ability to be present and grateful? What if it reminds us to focus on self preservation not as a selfish act, but as a birthright that fuels ourselves AND our children AND our communities?

 

What if?

 

After the year (plus) that we have all had, I am personally struggling with the restarting of our engines. And not because I want to live isolated in my house forever. No. No. Wow. No. Maybe sometimes. But because I want to start over in a way that truly feeds me. I want to take a minute and gather what I have learned over the last year.  And then I want to pay attention to my hunger for the parts of my life that disappeared decades ago in the hustle and bustle of work/parenting/etc-ing. 

 

Sure, some of these things will need to be parked for a while. They may not be feasible right now. But, I can still look at them and hug them and say, hey, I didn’t forget you. And then there will be some things that don’t have to be parked, but can be placed consciously back into my daily grind. I might even form some non-negotiable habits and rituals around them. I just know, though, that if I don’t do this now and if I don’t take an inventory of my own hunger, I’ll end up right back where we all started pre-pandemic. 

 

I’ll finish by saying that this process can feel scary, that it might open the floodgates of needs that can’t be met or feelings we don’t have time to feel. But, as I have learned here in MommaStrong, the reality is that no harm comes from listening to our true selves. Just listening. And then doing what you can in a way that fits into our reality right now, just enough today and just enough tomorrow.

 

The really great news is that you can do this with company and expert guidance this month in our July Challenge, focused on What Fuels You?  We will dig into hunger (outside of food), sleep, rest, play, and relationships. AND, it is being led by our MommaStrong FUEL dietitians who have a refreshing lens on sustainable health. Meaning, they aren’t going to teach you what to eat or even talk about food, instead, they are going to talk about how other things are actually even more important.  I’m excited to share this adventure with you this month.

 

The challenge starts on Monday, July 5th, so you’ve got time to get signed up! You can sign up as a current member by clicking on the Challenges link in the teal navigation menu (one you have logged in). Or, if you aren’t yet a member, you can join us for the challenge by signing up today (only $12) and then registering at that Challenges link.  

What Worked

  I’ve resisted writing this post, mainly because it is designed to introduce our December Challenge and I am in shock that it is December. I think I am still trying to get through the month of September. Like, wait, September has 75 days, right? Right. GOTTA GET THIS BACK TO SCHOOL THING figured out.    I’ve also avoided it because of the topic, which is focused on “What Worked”. I mean is that a question or a statement? I don’t know. Haha. As I braved the keyboard in the face of this topic, I discovered that the resistance here is less about feeling negative towards “what worked” and more about becoming aware that I need to do some paleontologist level digging to find what actually worked. And, yes, this is where I imagine myself stuck in some southwestern desert, with a magnifying glass and some teeny tiny tools, dusting off some hopeful looking rocks.   For me and for so many people I know, the past few months (ahem years) have felt like one shoe dropping after another. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone mumble, I don’t know how much more I can take.

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Bye Bye Sludge

  I’ve been stuck in a vortex of my own life problems lately. I think you have been too. And OF COURSE we have. It’s been a lot for basically every person I know for the past couple of years and, well, we are fatigued. We’ve noticed here at MommaStrong that our normal new customer count and our normal engagement in our community is down. And we know that this is a reflection of all the things we are all carrying, especially caretakers, and the general resignation that has developed after the fatigue.    I don’t like this feeling. I know the technical term has been identified as “languishing”, but it feels like sludge. I want it to be called sludging. I am sludging. In any case, I am not a fan of it. I keep thinking I’ll wake up one morning and be like, oh there’s the ping, there’s the spark and my engine will get moving and I’ll feel like engaging in the world again in a bigger way. But it hasn’t happened yet.    Yet.   This is an important word in these moments. Even though I am super fan of catastrophizing and making permanent terrible things

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Oh Scary

  I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Wyatt the other night and instead of reading from years of muscle memory, I really read it. And you know how it goes, there’s this caterpillar and it is very hungry and it eats everything it possibly can and then it goes to take a good long nap in a cocoon and then it comes out as a beautiful butterfly. It’s sweet and basic, which is why I was surprised when I had a pretty strong response to it. I mean, I started crying. Like, actually crying. I just suddenly felt so so so scared for this butterfly, which made me then realize that of course I was feeling scared for me.   Dang kids’ books.    The take away was that I am not very honest with myself about my fears. In fact, I even tell myself that I’m not afraid of much, that I’ve been through a lot, and that I can handle big life stuff. And, so, I have concocted this idea that if I am afraid of something, it needs to be profound and I need to dress it up in quotable tinkerings and usher them out

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Not So Serious

  I’m here today to be a cushion. Because September, in general—for most primary caretakers—is a shit sandwich. We’ve got back-to-school and kids anxieties and emails and school supplies and evening meetings with no childcare and so much driving and medical forms and a foggy brain after 3 months of constant caretaking. And then, this year, we also have a world on fire in all the ways it is on fire. You see, normally in September, the shit sandwich still has a bun. It still has a squishy exterior in the form of eventual settling into school and a return to semi-normalcy, plus some socializing with friends who understand and, you know, a predictable train of normal stressors that are part of grown up life.   But this year we have no bun. We are a shit sandwich cushioned by sandpaper. And I can’t help but draw from my experience as a person diagnosed with C-PTSD (PTSD Type 2) and substance use disorder. It should also be said that I am a friendly comrade here, not a professional, so everything I am about to say is just amateur thoughts. Aka, seek a professional for more help on this. So, yes,

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The Strength to Carry

It ought to be known that I am obsessed with the series Alone. Hahahaha. I feel ok admitting this because the more I do, the more people whom I love and respect are like, omg, I do too. It ought to also be known that I had to take a break from watching it because I caught myself being extra judgy about contestants who had lost their ferro rods and/or didn’t make a shelter a priority—because I have, you know, expert primitive life skills from watching three seasons and all. Right? Right. In any case, I realized why I love this show so much:   #1 They are all alone. Sounds so nice, not gonna lie. And I know I know, they are like surviving and it wouldn’t actually be nice. But, wow. Alone.   #2 I feel like motherhood has totally prepared me to be a Ms. Macgyver in the wilderness, even with extreme sleep deprivation and stalking predators.   #3 The show’s winner is always the person who has the most inner strength and actual survival experience, and this feels affirming and inspiring.   Before I go on, I want to say that I know nothing about these

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Hunger

Every once in a while, I find myself outside the house at dusk. I’m usually surrounded by irritable children, attempting a picnic where the food isn’t right and the forks are missing and the flies are buzzing … or I’m on a risky errand way too close to toddler bedtime and so I’m belting out NSYNC Bye Bye Bye which seems to be the winning tune in terms of keeping a 2 year old awake. But, even in those moments, with my attention parked on wrangling and managing, I catch a glimpse of the golden light, the pink and orange clouds. I see bats darting around low and high, signaling the sky to darken. I feel a breeze even on the hottest of days and I smell in the air the closure of things. And I see young professionals walking slowly—hands free—into grocery stores and restaurants and yoga classes. I see people riding bikes without wagons attached, without a time stamp on adventure. I wonder, But will they ride past 8pm? I think resentful thoughts at first. And then sad thoughts. I think about lost time and lost autonomy. I think about how dusk has been hijacked by bedtimes for

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