Thursday, May 12, 2016

If I could give you another life

Tomorrow, May 13, marks the one year anniversary of a bright soul leaving our world. I can feel her loss more today than when I first found out a year ago.
Who was this radiant light of a person? A dear friend, devoted wife, and loving mother of two amazing children. She was my husband's brother from another mother's spouse and I loved her from the first day our boys introduced us.
We had different backgrounds and paths in life, but when we were together we laughed a lot and got along so well.  If we'd lived in the same town, we'd be at each other's houses all the time.
Her smile and her laughter....I can see the glow and hear the music when I close my eyes.  What amazed me the most: she'd lived a hard life, but you would never know this from her attitude. Anytime life through shit her way she managed to turn crap into gold. I've never seen someone with so much perseverance and positiveness despite their circumstances. Eventually, thought, if you throw enough rocks at a song bird, she'll eventually stop singing.
I don't know what happened for sure the last two years of her life, as I was fighting my own demons. From what I heard, they were pretty dark. We drifted apart only maintaining superficial contact via Facebook and an occasional text message. I had no idea things had gotten ugly.
We played Candy Crush Soda and would give each other lives on a daily basis. One day her picture didn't move from the level that I thought was super easy. Two days later, I saw the Go Fund Me post for the family. I clicked on the link and couldn't believe my eyes. It couldn't be true. Not her. It must have been an accident.
I texted her husband "What the fuck is going on?"
He responded, "I'm sorry, I wanted to call you, but I couldn't tell you over the phone."
An hour later my husband, toddler, and I were in the car headed north to spend the night with the family. The entire 1.5 hour drive all I could think was "Please be an accident and not what I think it is."
That night I spent hours talking to my brother-in-law as he caught me up on the last two years of their lives. How they'd been struggling with depression and all the losses she'd experienced in her life. How the demons finally had silenced the song bird. We cried in each other's arms. He knew I understood.
For weeks I would open the Candy Crush App on my phone and stare at her photo tile. No matter how many lives I gave her in the stupid game, I would never hear her laugh again or see her beautiful sparkling eyes.
Months later I deleted the app from my profile and phone. I couldn't take it any longer. The guilt crushed me. Why hadn't I reached out to her more? For heaven's sake, I wrote a book about my depression. The last time I'd seen and hugged her was when my daughter was born. For years she'd pestered me about when I would finally join the motherhood club. Her eyes twinkled with delight at the sight of me as a mother and holding my little girl.
The last heart-to-heart conversation took place in our back room. She held my girl and I quietly broke down. I told her I hated motherhood. She looked into my eyes and with the deepest sincerity said "Kids are a pain in the ass to raise and motherhood is hard. It sucks. That's why I got a tubal after my second."
Three years later, I look back at that statement and realize what she didn't say. When I look back further when her youngest was but a toddler, I remember her telling me of her struggles. Back then I had no idea what postpartum depression really was. I'd always associated it with the crazy women you saw on the news because they'd killed their children.
My friend loved her kids fiercely and I am 100% sure she would not have wanted to leave them. Just like a mother dying from cancer doesn't want to leave her family. Depression is like a cancer. It eats away all the joy and love in life and leaves a trail of unrelenting darkness and pain.
Having gone through depression (and still going for that matter), I see things differently. So many times, I've thought "If only I'd called her." I thought about it at least a thousand times the last two years of her time on this earth. But life happens. Baby cries. UPS man rings the doorbell. The cat pukes all over the bed. The smoke alarm goes off because the water on the stove you were warming for tea has completely evaporated and the pot is a nice shade of black....
But then I remember all the wonderful friends she already had around her in her town. Some of these ladies I've had the privilege of getting to know better in the wake of her death. She had an amazing support system of beautiful people. What makes me think me reaching out would have made a difference? The answer is I don't know and will never know. Beating myself about this won't lessen the pain or guilt.
I am only human and can only do so much. Sometimes all I can do is send a Candy Crush life and hope to make it to the next level.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Break time

Hello lovely readers,

After much thought I have decided to take a break from blogging while I'm in school. It's too much right now. This working full-time, going to school full-time, and being mom is making this mama cray-cray. My health comes first, than my family, followed by work, and school. With my mind pulled into so many directions I feel I can't create the quality content I would like to put out there.

The last few posts I've done here and on Portland Moms Blog have been about self-care. Me taking time off is the self-care I need right now. I can't commit to anything else until I have walked down that aisle with my diploma.

There are a couple of posts I have already committed to for Portland Moms Blog and then will be taking a hiatus from there too. In May I will be at Birth Without Fear Portland Meet-up with the gorgeous Sarah Swofford and her fantastic book From Ouch to Ahh, a guide to sex post childbirth. It's a treat you won't want to miss. I will be posting a book review soon.

Thank you so much for understanding. I will be back. Promise. Meanwhile go hug someone you love and give them a big wet kiss while you are at it.



Sunday, January 10, 2016


2015 came to an end while we were vacationing in the Olympic Peninsula for a week. We spent 7 days in a house right on the water, looking out toward the San Juan Islands. The view took my breath every time looked out the window. It didn't matter if we had rain, sunshine, or grey clouds, the scenery delivered magic every day.

I needed this vacation. After spending 3.5 months working full-time, taking 16 college credits, writing part-time, AND being a mom, my whole being needed a week to sleep in, hang out in pj's, watch the marine life frolic in the water twenty yards away from the glassed-in porch, walk on the beach, read, play games on my phone, do yoga, meditate, play with my daughter, snuggle with my husband, and do whole lot of nothing.

Last summer we took a week-long similar vacation on the Oregon Coast and we realized then that we needed to do this every year and with me in school, twice/year was absolutely necessary.

This week off was the perfect ending to my #31daysofselfcare, best way to start off 2016, and get myself pumped for another year. Here's a few photos I took. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Our beach



Heart Rock

Stone tower

Building sand castles with Boo

Olympic Game Farm

Evening view of Mt. Baker

In Victoria, BC (Boo's 1st time out of the USA)

The Empress

Bald Eagle

Frost Magic

Water fowl

Last morning view

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

31 days of Self-care

Holidays are a hard time to stay on top of self-care with all the festivities going on, but as I'm finishing up the 1st semester of the bachelor completion program at Pacific University, I feel like I've been run through a food processor and then tossed out to the pigs for a snack. My body, mind, and spirit are craving some much-needed TLC. Most people wait until after the holidays to take care of themselves, well, I can't afford that as in January I will be starting the 2nd semester of school.

Therefore, I am dedicating the month of December to self-care. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram as I post each day, starting today, on self-care tips and pictures. #31daysofselfcare

Happy Holidays and don't forget to give yourself a little love too.



Monday, November 2, 2015

Sleep or Die

I hear people making jokes about sleep all time on mom blogs, mom groups, fellow co-workers, classmates, family, friends, and Mr. Joe Bob walking down the street.

"Sleep? what's that?"

"You're a mom, you don't get to sleep."

"Say bye-bye to sleep for the next 18 years."

"I'm a student. I don't get to sleep."

"I'll sleep when I die."

And the list goes on. I used to say these things until about a month ago when my classmates and I were Google chatting and stressing about several big assignments dues in that week. Some of them were staying up all Saturday night to finish the final paper. One classmate made the comment "Sleep is for the weak."

For some reason those 5 words did not sit well with me. Not because she said it or that they were directed at me, heaven knows, I've said them before too. But something about this time irked me. Especially since I chose to sleep that night instead of staying up to write a paper that felt like pulling teeth with a pair of dull scissors. Was I weak for not pushing through to get this assignment done?

After a few weeks of thinking about why the comment bothered me, I realized that staying up to write a paper didn't prove anything. It didn't make me strong. It wouldn't have made the paper better than what I turned in at the last minute. Choosing sleep over work, school, extracurricular activities, or anything else, did not make me weak.

I cannot tell how many times people have said "Must be nice" when I mentioned I took a nap. For some reason in our culture, sleep is viewed like a luxury. Sleep isn't a luxury nor should it be. Sleep is vital to the human body like food, water, air, and movement. If you don't get enough sleep your health will decline.

For me when I don't get enough sleep, my stress level shoots through the roof and my mental state spirals downward into the pits of despair. I have to sleep. Sure, sleeping in these days is a luxury and so is taking a 3 hour nap in the middle of the day, but getting a decent 7-8 hours a night is as important to me as making sure I pee everyday or drink water. If I don't make get my sleep at night, I make sure I either nap during the day or go to bed early the following night.

Here's why sleep is so important to me:
  • decreased productivity
  • increased depression
  • decreased immunity (I don't have time to get sick)
  • increased bad attitude
  • decreased memory retention (something I can't afford to have happen while in school)
  • increased mistakes at work and school
  • bad habits resurge
  • when mom's not happy, nobody is happy

You see, housework, schoolwork, TV shows, books, writing, and everything else can wait. They will always be there, but sleep won't. Once you lose the hours, you can't get them back. The more you chip away at your sleep the more your body will pay for it later. So many of our diseases today are related to stress and lack of sleep, including Alzheimer's Disease. Your body needs to recover and it won't if you don't giving it enough time to do it's job.

Now, there are times when sleep isn't an option. I know all about those teething babies or sick toddlers that only want to be rocked all night. But guess what, eventually they do go to sleep and you should try to catch as many zzz's with them as possible. Nap when you can. So many moms I know, claim they can't nap so they don't even try, yet they complain about not getting enough rest. If you have the opportunity to lay down and close your eyes for even 15 minutes, do it or you are wasting a chance to let your body take a break.

I'm a full-time working, full-time student, writing mom and I still can find 15 minutes to close my eyes. Sometimes I do fall asleep, but mostly I fall into a deep relaxation that comes pretty close to sleep. When I get up, I feel so much better. Those little "naps" help me get through the crazy stress of being a student and working mama. And I make sure I'm in bed by 9:30 during the week so I can get at least 6.5 hours of sleep before I get up at 4:30 am to start work.

I have to say my grades could be better and but 10 years from now when I'm suffering from a heart attack or diabetes because I didn't let my body do it's thing my grades won't mean shit. It's sleep or die for me.

Photo credit:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Learning to Unplug

A few weeks ago, I decided on a whim to take my daughter for a hike early Saturday morning. When we got down to the car and I had her all buckled into the car seat, I realized I'd left my phone upstairs in our 3rd floor condo. In that moment, I knew that if I unbuckled her and we went back up, we'd never make it out the door again, and decided to go without it. As I merged onto the freeway, the tendrils of panic began to tighten around my chest.

What if we broke down? What if got lost on the trail? What if my husband wakes up and doesn't know where we are at? What if, what if, WHAT IF the world ended right in the next hour.....

I told myself we'd go to Multnomah Falls because enough people were there if something were to happen, we could get help. As soon as we crossed over the Sandy river bridge, I pulled off the highway following the signs to Lewis and Clark State Park, a place I'd never been before, AKA not Multnomah Falls. I'd driven pass this park before and wondered where the trail went. Somehow that morning, I thought would be a good time to explore a new trail with a toddler without my PHONE!

There were a couple other cars parked in the lot so I knew we wouldn't be totally alone on the trail. After getting over my fears, we set off with water and snacks in my bag. Oh, what a beautiful morning it turned out to be. Hints of fall colors sprinkled the foliage around us as we climbed up the hill. We spotted birds, chipmunks, and squirrels. Boo loved all the different bugs we came across, including the spider, who's web I almost walked into.

As we climbed higher the trial became more rocky and narrow. We had to climb over boulders more and more until we reached half way up and I discovered why the path had become so rough. Shear cliff surfaces met us as trail leveled off. Boo instantly spotted metal loops in the rock above us. Soon we heard voices as we walked along and discovered a couple of young guys climbing with ropes. Boo's eyes lit up at the sight. "What are they doing, mama?" She asked.

I explained that they were rock-climbing and used ropes and other equipment to stay safe. You can guess what she wanted to do next, but I told her she needed to take lessons at the rock-climbing gym first before I could let her climb here. We eventually turned around and went back the way we came. In all we spent 1.5 hours out in nature hiking. We had so much fun and I kind of dreaded returning back home to technology. That part surprised me.

15 years ago, I didn't have a cell phone or a personal computer. There was no Facebook or Twitter. At my job, I used a computer to schedule appointments and register patients, but we still wrote chart notes by hand. I checked my email 2-3 times a week at the library.

Now, I work 40/week in front of a computer as all the work I do is electronic. On top of that, I spend about 16 hours/week working on my BS degree program which is purely online. Add to that 5-8 hours of writing, marketing, and personal finance use per week and I'm spending up to 62 hours in front of a computer screen if not more. This is not even including my smart phone time and social media. When did my life turn into a scene from a sci-fi flick?

I'd tried to limit my screen time as much as possible before bed-time but now with school, I've let my rules slack a bit. But this little hiking trip really nailed it for me. I NEED to unplug or I will loose my mind. That night I made 3 commitments: 1) to put my phone on airplane mode after 9 pm until I got up to work at 4 am, 2) turn my phone off when I'm out hiking or in nature, and 3) when I'm with friends the phone goes in the purse on silent.

Had my brought my phone with me that morning, I guarantee you anyone within a mile radius would have heard me shrieking as I tried to get the spider off my head because I was too busy taking an Instagram shot and not paying attention the web across the path.

Photo Credit: Jordan McQueen

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I recently did a blog post for Portland Moms Blog on Filling the Mama Well and how it's not just one well, but three: mind, body, and spirit. For me nature fills all my wells and an important factor in self-care.

What do I mean when I say Nature?

According to the Webster's Dictionary the definition of nature is "the physical world and everything in it (such as plants, animals, mountains, oceans, stars, etc.) that is not made by people." That means going outside on my balcony and sitting in the sun, listening to the birds in the near by trees, and feeling the wind on my face is part of nature.

Now to be honest, I much rather go for a long walk on an empty beach and stand in the surf, breathing in the revitalizing ocean air or hike to the the many gorgeous waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and smell the rich, earthy forest scents, but when that isn't possible I can make time for nature right here in my home.

Spending time in nature is a key element to filling the mind, body, and spirit well, but also provide healing from the harsh energies that surround modern life.

So how does nature fill the wells?

Mind. There are many studies out there that show the benefits of nature. For example one study done at Stanford showed a decrease in anxiety and improvement in cognition. These are just two of the many ways fills the mind well. For me a hike in the woods, calms my mind, gives me clarity in decision-making, and the endorphin boost from the physical movement give me the feeling of well-being.

Body. Humans are made to move, when we don't things don't go so well. Exercising outside only adds to the abundance positives from nature. First of all when you are out in the park all of your senses are being exposed to nature. The fresh air helps with detoxifying your body when you exercise. A simple walk through the local park not only fills the mind well, but your body's well too.

Spirit. Nature is one of the best ways to feed the soul. Nature inspires creativity, nature sounds heal, and nature smells uplift. Take a moment and go outside. Take off your shoes and let your feet touch the earth. Focus on cool feeling of the dirt or grass touching your soles. What do your feel? Do you feel pulled down deeper as if growing roots into the earth? To your toes tingle? Follow whatever you are feeling for a few minutes and then come back to your body. How do you feel now? Chances are you are feeling pretty grounded. This is my go -to exercise when I feel like the world is pulling me in every direction.

Here are some other nature tips that have helped me:
  • Walking around the playground at the park while my daughter plays
  • Standing in the grass bare-foot for 5-10 minutes
  • Sitting on a rock near a river or stream and sticking my feet in the water
  • Watering the flowers and plants on my balcony
  • Weeding the planters and pruning the dead flowers 
  • Taking a 15-20 minute jog through a nature park
  • Drinking my morning tea or a glass of water outside on my balcony
  • Watching the sunset or sunrise
  • Doing 15-20 minute yoga stretches outside in the park or on my balcony
  • Dedicating a weekly hour to a specific "hobby" in nature like hiking, kayaking, biking, skiing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, or whatever is appropriate for the season you are in and location you live in.
 OK, now it's your turn. Please share your nature tips below in the comments.