Thursday, April 19, 2012

Encyclopedia of Me - R (Mark)

Renaissance: I'm not a great scholar of the Renaissance Period, but I'd like to consider myself to be somewhat of a Renaissance Man. Maybe it's just a way to say "Jack of all trades and master of none," but I'm going to put a big old positive spin on it. I enjoy music, whether it be listening to it, playing it, or writing it; I can cook fairly well; I can do basic sewing tasks; I like most sports and played 4 of them well enough to letter in high school; I have decent artistic abilities, even if I'll never paint the Sistine Chapel or sculpt anything resembling David. I'd love to think that I have a lot of other varied talents, and maybe even some new ones waiting to be discovered.

Reading: My only regret with reading is that I really discovered how much I enjoy it later in life. As a kid I read a fair amount, but not as much as I'd like to now. At 21 I was commuting between 1 1/2 and 2 hours into San Francisco to clerk at a law office. Between the bus and BART rides I found myself with a lot of time to read so I read a lot of Hemmingway (love his writing), I caught up on Tom Clancy's novels, tackled Les Miserables, and read a whole lot of other books. Ever since then I find that I enjoy reading a lot.

Ripken: Growing up I always was, and I am still now, a huge baseball fan. As I've mentioned at times before, the Giants are my team, and many of their players were and still are my favorites. One non-Giant that I really loved to watch, though, was Cal Ripken, Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles. Besides being an incredibly nice guy and excellent role model, he was a great shortstop. Being a shortstop myself I spent a lot of time trying to copy his style of play, especially considering that he was a bit atypical for the position at 6' 5" when at the time diminutive players like Ozzie Smith were the norm. Incidentally, I named my newest Webkinz, little Oriole, Ripken.

Relativity: Going along with the whole Renaissance thing, I like nerdy stuff. For some reason I can really geek out on physics. Ever since high school physics Einstein and relativity have really been fascinating to me. I've read multiple books by Steven Hawking and am in the middle of another interesting book on relativity and string theory, which I read little by little, by Brian Greene called The Elegant Universe. I always feel like I get to the point where I almost understand what they're saying, so maybe someday I'll get it completely. My friends on "The Big Bang Theory" should be able to help.

Rowling, J.K.: Besides penning one of the most influential book series we're likely to see in our lifetimes, she has a story worthy of a writer. As a family we watched a biopic that Lifetime put out a number of years ago. If even half of it is accurate this is one incredible woman. Plus, her storytelling is second to none. I loved reading the early books, one after the other, like I'd discovered some rare treasure; and then I loved listening to the audio books as a family. Both Stacy and I are eagerly anticipating her newest book coming out in September. I'm sure nearly 500 pages will feel shorter than ever. Somewhere in her vault of fan mail there is a small set of stories that complete volumes 8, 9, and 10 of the Harry Potter series, written by a very young and aspiring writer. I hope J.K. Rowling gets a chance to read Thing 1's stories someday.

Reason: The older I get the less I like dealing with irrational thought. No matter the subject, timing, speaker, or whatever, I feel like it wastes my time. And before I stop making sense, I will leave it at that.

Encyclopedia of Me - R (Stacy)

Reading - I love to read. I don't get to do it that often, time being the biggest issue. But another reason is that I get spoiled by great books. What I mean is that reading great books makes me want to be into a REALLY good book, so when I start a book that's just "eh," I can get easily discouraged and not pick anything up for a while. I love when I am reading something that keeps me engrossed when I'm reading it and keeps me thinking about it when I'm not. I am not one to reread books (except for a select few . . . *cough*Harry Potter*cough*), because there are so many books out there to read that I feel funny about rereading something when there's more to discover. My top 5 favorite books are Harry Potter (so, "Rowling" could be on this list, too, I suppose), Rebecca (Oh! Another R-word! - my all-time favorite novel!), Jane Eyre, To Kill A Mockingbird, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Radio - I love listening to the radio. I admit it - I love (and always have loved) pop music. I love to hear what's current. I love to watch American Idol. I get excited when a song I like comes on the radio - whether it's current or older. I get giddy when I hear a great 80's song that I haven't heard in a while or when I hear something that takes me back to my adolescence or early college years. Radio, we've learned, is a good way to advertise our business. Our kids enjoy old radio shows. We're big fans of the movie "A Christmas Story," where Ralphie listens to "Little Orphan Annie." Radio is great! I remember many nights alone in my room growing up, listening to the radio until I fell asleep. I love to sing along to the radio. So much so, that I even find it kind of annoying when someone talks to me when I'm singing along. A sunny day, beautiful weather, and great songs on the radio? Happiness!

Rain - I couldn't live in Seattle or anywhere too dreary or dreadfully gray, but I do very much enjoy the occasional rain storm. Most of the time, I prefer blue skies and sunny days, but when a rainy day breaks up a string of sunny ones, there's something balancing about that. I like how it sounds, looks, and smells. It makes me want to hole up at home with my family and read together or snuggle and watch a movie. As part of our homeschooling, we have "Rainy Day Trump Days" - basically, whenever it rains, it trumps whatever we were going to do that day, and instead we simply curl up on the couch with blankets and books and read together. I like rain. I especially enjoy passing summer thunderstorms. Looking up pictures for this post, I realized that the beauty of rain is not an easy thing to capture on film.

Relationships - I like relationships. I like putting time and effort into them. I like being in them. I appreciate them. I value my marriage relationship and my relationship with my kids. I love being with them, doing things together, talking together, walking together, eating together, laughing together. I look at my wedding and engagement rings and smile. I look at pictures or our family and smile. I look at my family and smile. I don't ever, EVER feel like I'm "wasting" time when my time and effort is involved in meaningful relationships. In general, I try to stay away from negative, cranky, irritable people. Not to say that we all can't have an off day now and then, but people who are perpetually toxic raise red flags for me and I keep my distance. It's just not healthy. I notice how I feel around people and I appreciate being around people who make me laugh, feel free, encouraged, and whose very presence makes me want to be the best that I can be. I am grateful for my friendships, both new and old. Over the past several years especially, we, together with our old and new friends, have really made a serious commitment and concerted effort to prioritizing getting together and keeping in touch (hence a very busy "Hotel Foley"). I love the rich, full, meaningful life feeling that comes from beautiful relationships.

Restaurants - What a wonderful invention! A place where you can go with family and friends, sit down, be waited on, order whatever you'd like to eat, be served, enjoy good food and good company, and then not have to clean up? GENIUS. I love to eat out. I love good food. For me, it's an experience. I love the European manner of taking several hours to eat and visit. I was just talking about this topic with good friends this past weekend. If you're going to go out to eat, it's got to be, in my opinion, something REALLY good, ethnic, fancy . . . something I can't easily make at home. Why go out for pork chops or meatloaf or spaghetti, you know? I just don't get that. Get something GOOD. I love Mexican food, Japenese food, Thai food, Indian food, Greek food . . . oh man, I love food. It doesn't take much to make me crave anything either. Seeing food or hearing about food is all it takes. Yesterday, a friend of mine was mentioning that she has to move out of her home soon and she said, "Good thing I didn't get more fish" (meaning for the aquarium, because it would be a pain to move), and I immediately said, "Ooooh, fish. I could go for fish!" And now I'm craving trout . . .

Rhode Island - "It's the Biggest Little State in the Union! Rhode Island! Rhode Island!" And now that song is in my head (start at 1:39 on the video). I'm from MA, but my hometown in MA borders a town in RI, so I grew up RIGHT outside of Rhode Island. When you live in Southeastern MA, you are constantly weaving in and out of MA and RI to shop, eat, visit, see things, get around. I spent MUCH of my adolescence in RI. Many of my closest friends are from there. I love to visit there. Newport, RI is one of my very favorite places to be. We try to get there anytime we're up in New England. We often take the kids to Ocean Drive (or 12-Mile Drive, as some call it) to walk on the ocean rocks, look at the majesty of the Atlantic Ocean, fly kites, smell the sea air, eat Del's Frozen Lemonade, enjoy some good New England Lobster Rolls, and generally relax. I consider myself as being from both MA and RI. It's a great little state, especially the eastern side (Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport).

P.S. I should mention that my maiden name is Resendes, so that's another pretty important R-word for me. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brilliantly Awkward

So, I've been inconsistent with my Idol posts. Truth is, I'm hardly by the computer these days. When the weather is nice, we're dropping everything and going to the park with friends. And, in general, we've been either out of town or hosting out-of-town guests.

Though we're super busy these days, we do try to keep up on Idol. This past week, we were several days behind! But we keep watching. Know why?

Because this season of Idol is, hands down, the best season they've had since Daughtry's season. I'd almost given up on this show many, many times. I'm so glad I tried yet again with this season. It's paying off in droves! I am loving this season!

The Idol Top 7 sang songs from "Now and Then" tonight.

The show started on a somber note as Ryan Seacrest paid tribute to his friend Dick Clark. Ryan looked genuinely sad and emotional. I'm reeling a bit myself. I grew up with Dick Clark and Casey Kasem. I loved listening to them.


Hollie started us out by singing Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and I cheered out loud to see her let loose a little bit. It was fantastic. I feel for the girl. Any other season, she'd be a front runner. She is a phenomenal singer. The only reason she struggles at all in this show is because she's surrounded by so many other great singers. Sure, she seems a bit stiff compared to some of the other more seasoned performers, but yay! She did a fantastic job tonight.

In other news, Edward Scissorhands apparently showed up on the set and cut up J-Lo's outfit.

Colton sang Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." Edward Scissorhands got his blades on Colton's cape, too. Colton did a decent job, but he's really starting to bug me. He's acting a bit big for his breeches. Seeing his mop week to week is like watching hairstyle entropy. This week's splash of disorder? Red!

In related entropic news, Randy's brooches appear to be made by those children's kits of melting plastic beads.

Elise sang "No One" by Alicia Keys. Jimmy's Etch-a-Sketch comment was so much better than that Romney aide's. They don't know why she's not getting votes, so they let her use J-Lo's fan, Steven Tyler said she sang her tushy off, and Ryan mentioned her dying dog. That should all help.

Phillip Phillips sang "U Got it Bad" (That's the actual name. I think it's stupid, too. Hey, I didn't entitle it.) by Usher and if you think that sounds like it could be weird, you obviously didn't watch the show, because it was da' bomb! He was surrounded by a bass, sax, and conga drum, which was all very cool. The passion can be seen in his legs every time. DUDE. He got a standing ovation from the judges and it was very well deserved. He is my favorite contestant this season. I love this guy!

Jessica sang "Falling" by Alicia Keys, which would be Idol Suicide sung by just about anyone else, but you don't even have to get nervous for her. She's incredible. I liked the red umbrellas everywhere. She didn't deserve the bottom 3 this past week. She'll be safe for a while. That save from the judges will only bring her more attention.

Skylar sang "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga . . . the country version. Yeah, I didn't know there was one either. She was followed around stage by a crazy fiddler. It was a little boring for me, but that might be my personal preference talking.

Joshua sang Fantasia's "I Believe" and I was SO excited about that. It was not as good as the original, but it was still so so good. I think a minute and a half just doesn't give it the steady build it deserves. Plus, no one can touch that moment when Fantasia sang it at the finale. But yeah, Joshua is dope.


The 2nd half of the show was the "then" portion and featured "Soul" songs. I had pretty high hopes for that since Motown weeks are generally pretty great on Idol. There were some hits and some "meh" performances for me.

Hollie sang "Song of a Preacher Man"and I didn't love the arrangement. It fell a little flat for me.

Colton sang "September" and I said, "No. No, no, no, no, no." It was a REALLY weird arrangement. I didn't like it and neither did the judges. They made it known. He needed to be knocked down a few pegs. He was getting a little full of himself. I hope he goes back to singing Coldplay-type songs, as those suit him best.

Elise performed "Let's Get It On" and it just wasn't believable. It would be un-P.C. of me to say that she's too white to give justice to that song, so I won't say that. Elise really has grown on me over the competition. I didn't like her at first. I like her more now. I'd like to see her continue a while longer. She really is talented. This song just did not suit her.

Phillip Phillips sang "Wait to the Midnight Hour" and it was HO-HOT. He did what Hollie and Colton and Elise didn't. He made it his own. He didn't change the song. He just Phillip Philliped it. And that's why we LOVED it. Sexy indeed. Steven said he was "brilliantly awkward." Love it! He won the night, there's no question.

Jessica sang "Try a Little Tenderness" and she did so while wearing a pair of my pants from the 1980s as well as a Native American ornament. It was the 3rd one of the evening, so I'm wondering who the heck paid the idols a visit this week. She showed a raw, guttural side that we do not usually see. I liked it. As Steven said, "Good God Almighty, bless my soul!"

Skylar sang "I Heard it Through the Grapevine." Hence the moving telephone poles and wires. Apparently. Some guy from Twilight followed her around while playing the fiddle again. They better get him home before light dawns. This girl will have no problem in the country western world. She is a natural performer and commands the stage. She is quintessential Southern. This girl is Chick-Fil-A.

Joshua did Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come." THIS is why he's closing the show. He's amazing. You could tell he was using restraint at the beginning of his performance and there was a gradual build to his passion letting loose. Wow. I wish his performances were longer than one and a half minutes long.

In summary, they're all great, but Phillip Phillips is the best.

Bottom 3 tonight for me: Colton, Elise, and Hollie
Going home: Hollie, if for no other reason than they placed her in the often-forgettable first place slot.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Thing 1

Today is Thing 1's 12th birthday. Yes, you read that correctly--12th! We are so lucky to be her parents and to have such a great daughter. Here are 12 wonderful things we enjoy about her:

1. She is very sweet and thoughtful.
2. She is a talented writer.
3. She is always pleasant.
4. She LOVES to eat!
5. She is a great big sister to a great little brother.
6. She is always up for a new challenge.
7. She is a wonderful friend.
8. She always fits on her daddy's lap.
9. She talks to us about ANYTHING.
10. She is intelligent and thinks logically.
11. She still loves simple things like stuffed animals and ice cream cones.
12. She makes us smile every single day.

We love you!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

80's Night on Idol

I wrote a post of random thoughts before I wrote this drivel. Scroll down and read that instead. You've been warned.

I wasn't going to blog. I still have notes from this past week (Yes, I take notes. Yes, I'm a nerd. Did I ask you?) and haven't blogged those (yet?). Maybe I will. Don't know. But ANYWAY. As I was saying . . .

I wasn't going to blog. But it's 80's night and Gwen Stefani is the guest mentor, so that clinches it. I'm blogging. I LOVE THE EIGHTIES.

Wait. That's very important. So, I'll repeat it.


I love the 80s. I love the music. I love the books. I love the pop culture. I love the TV shows. I love the leg warmers. I love the actors. I LOVE THE EIGHTIES.

Every time we hear the radio and they play an 80's song, I'm usually freaking out about what a great song it is and how THAT is when music was really good. And I usually yell out, "I LOVE THE EIGHTIES!!"

So, are we clear? Say it with me now. I love the eighties.


Forget it. The night stunk. It's like they took a gigantic list of 80's songs and picked all the crappy ones. So, now, I don't feel like blogging about it. Just quick snippets. Here goes.

DeAndre was good. I like his falsetto. But he touches his hair too much.

Elise sang a crappy song. She must have heard wrong. Elise, honey, it was "80's night." Not "dress like an 80-year-old night." She was off, too.

The southerns (Colton and Skylar) sang a duet. "Islands in the Stream" (from the catalog of More Crappy 80's Songs). Also? Colton creeps me out a bit. The way he stared at the camera was just icky.

Damn. I love the Eighties. The music was so great. Why are they picking such sucky songs?

Phillip sang "That's All" by Genesis. It was out of his range and he looked sickly. I'm disappointed, because I love this guy. He's better than this.

Another duet - Hollie and Deandre sang "I'm So Excited" from the catalog of The Suckiest 80's Songs Ever. I HATE this song. (And that's not something I say often when talking about an 80's song!). The psychedelic background and pyrotechnics did not help this duet.

Tommy Hilfiger was conspicuously absent and all the girls were wearing the same silver eye shadow. Coincidence? I think not.

Filler . . . filler . . . filler.

Joshua sang a good 80's song and slowly built up energy and passion throughout the song even though it started with a choir. He's crazy talented. "It wasn't too much over the top and it was too much over the top. So, it was perfect," said Steven Tyler, half-sedated from some long-ago drug trip.

Jessica has an alter ego who sang a song and stunk it up. Her alter ego hit some WONKY notes. She was off. I don't know what the judges are hearing. Bet you Jimmy disagrees tomorrow in his commentary during the results show.

Filler . . . filler . . . filler.

Hey, I know. How about a 1.5 hour show and less stupid banter?

Another duet, only this one was excellent, because it was two very mature and seasoned singers (Elise and Phillip). GREAT job on a Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks number.

Hollie sang another crappy song, but she looked adorable and let loose more, which they've been telling her to do. And it was really good! Only the judges aren't hearing the same thing we are - she WAS on pitch, whereas Jessica was not. Ugh.

Another duet. Because, you know, they kept it as a 2-hour show even though they only had about 12 minutes of actual singing competition. This duet was fantastic - great song, great duo. Joshua and Jessica sang "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" by George Michael and Aretha Franklin. It was awesome.

Colton sang "Time After Time," which is actually a really GOOD 80's song. Love how Gwen Stefani said it's the song you hear and wish you'd written. It really is a great song with great lyrics. The song begs for harmony, though. Cool arrangement, but whatever.

Skylar told us she missed her 4-wheelers and guns, which just make me think again how the South just makes me sad, and then sang "Wind Beneath My Wings,' which was only marginally more tolerable than her original choice of "9 to 5." I think I got goosies. Well done.

But, overall, meh.

Thanks to the tone-deaf judges, Hollie will probably be going home. Joining her in the bottom 3 will be Elise, who doesn't take criticism well, and DeAndre, because he sang first. Or maybe Jessica, because she was off and we heard it even if the judges didn't.

Tonight was so sucky that I might just blog about the Billy Joel songs from two weeks ago to make myself feel better.

Random Thoughts

The circus is coming to town. They frighten and depress me.
But should we take the kids? Is it something everyone should do once?


One of the bummers about going all digital
is that you miss out on getting to know someone's personality
by browsing their books and CDs on shelves


While watching some coverage of The Hunger Games hype,
Thing 1 volunteered, "I like female characters like Katniss
who do great things themselves and don't need anyone to help them."
Love this kid!


At a bookstore the other day,
the new SI swimsuit issue was front and center
as we paid for our purchases.
Thing 2 pointed and said, "That's gross."
Love this kid!


Was looking at visitor tips for visiting an aquarium
and it said this:
"All guests must go through security checkpoints before entering the Aquarium. No guns, knives, lighters, matches, chewing gum, or fishing poles are permitted inside."


Thing 1 has been entering writing contests
and submitting her work to magazines left and right.
She got her first rejection letter (we celebrated)
and she also won honorable mention in a prestigious contest!
We're so proud of her.


Thing 2 is playing baseball.
He loves it. He had his first game this week.
His favorite position is shortstop.
He looks SO DANG CUTE in his uniform!


The kids crack each other up and it's a glorious sound.
(Overheard on 3/15, while out running errands):
After MUCH laughing . . .
M: "Stop! I've got to catch my breath! STOP!"
K: "I'm tired from laughing so hard."
M: "Wanna know something? My muscles hurt from belly laughing."


The other day at the kitchen table,
we were talking about how the kids are getting older
and how Thing 1 is coming up on teenager-hood.
Thing 2 got sad and said,
"That means she's almost in college!"
I asked, "What's wrong with that?"
"I'll miss her."


Constant creations in our house:
Thing 1 - stories
Thing 2 - games and music
I love it.


Ever tell someone you're having a rough time
and then have them respond that they are, too,
without even a hint of their even pretending to care how you are?
Sucky, huh.


April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month.


The kids did not get into any of the 4 finalist spots
for the Uncle Ben's Rice Contest,
but thank you so much to all who voted.


Being old doesn't demand respect.
Being important doesn't demand respect.
Being demanding certainly doesn't deserve respect.

Men are respectable only as they respect.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every human being, of whatever origin,
of whatever station, deserves respect.
We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.
-U. Thant

I speak to everyone in the same way,
whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.
- Albert Einstein


Mutual respect.
Big fan.


Off to watch Idol with the family!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Taking Time for Self

BlogHer has let me know that I have been selected to answer their Life Well Lived Getting Happy question. The question is:

How do you put yourself first? How does taking time for yourself help make you happier?


When I first saw this question, I had to laugh at the timing. My husband and I have been discussing this very thing quite a bit recently. And there's a reason why.

When I see discussions like this during low-stress times, I think, "Of course! That's elementary! It only makes sense that when we take time for ourselves, we feel happier and stronger for ourselves and those around us!"

But, I must admit, I saw the question and groaned. Why? Because the email inviting me to answer this question did not come at a time when I'm particularly thriving and doing great at taking time for myself. In fact, it's been quite the opposite . . . and I have felt the difference.

I'm a therapist - I kid you not.

The irony? I'm a mental health therapist. I work with people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. One of the first skills we generally discuss, depending on the situation, is that of taking care of ourselves and doing things that we enjoy -- things that energize us, recharge us, strengthen us. Things like hobbies or good entertainment or a relaxing activity. Not things like addictive activities or harmful substances. We focus on healthy, strengthening stuff.

As a mental health therapist, I try to practice what I preach. I am not always 100% on top of it (who is?), but I try to regularly incorporate in my own life the same things I encourage my clients to do. I often feel so super lucky to be able to work in a job where I am constantly reminding myself of good habits and skills. I get constant reinforcement as I counsel and teach others. How cool is that?

My Lessons as an Intern

When I was an intern in graduate school, I was very fortunate to be able to work with a fantastic therapist whose name is Charlie. To this day, I consider him a great mentor. I learned so many valuable life skills from him. I learned more in one year of interning with him than I did in years and years of classes.

When I would watch Charlie lead a group therapy session, I don't think it's too extreme to say that I was often enraptured and captivated by the process, how he handled challenging clients, what he taught, what he said, how he always remained centered and calm, how he wove the group's energy into something transformative, elevating, empowering. I took copious minutes and made extensive mental notes.

One of the things he often taught was the importance of taking time for ourselves. I'm not much of an eye roller, but I do have a lousy poker face, and something in my expression must have indicated my doubt, skepticism, and resistance. Charlie, being keen to people's reactions, gently asked me what I thought about what he had just said.

"I don't know . . . I don't know if I could do it. I mean, it just seems kind of . . . selfish."



"How so?"

"Well, I have a family. I'm married. I have a baby. I'm in graduate school. Taking time for myself seems selfish. I have others to think about."

"And you think taking care of yourself makes you selfish."

"Yes. I also think I would feel extremely guilty even thinking about it."

Charlie went on to explain the wisdom of taking care of ourselves and how, by doing so, in addition to being good for us, helps us better take care of those around us. He did this by asking me questions and gently guiding me in my own discovery. Charlie wasn't one bit preachy or pushy. In fact, one of his favorite sayings was, "As you wish."

I will publicly admit that I was still skeptical and resistant. I was well-entrenched in my religious, cultural, and familial upbringing that all had a MAJOR focus on service and selflessness and doing for others. I had, to my own detriment as well as the detriment of those around me, interpreted and internalized that to mean "put myself last."

One night, after a 3-hour intensive group therapy session, Charlie visited with me and asked how I was doing. I told him how much stress I was under with school, home, family, finances, a baby, a husband in medical school, an impending cross-country move, etc. He encouraged me to take time, in the midst of all that, for a weekend away with my family. I protested that we had neither the time nor the money to do so.

I shook my head and nervously laughed. "We can't afford it."

"Perhaps you can't afford not to."

I didn't listen to Charlie.

My Personal Battle with Depression

Less than a year later, I found myself in the throes of a deep, dark, debilitating depression. The kind you only read about in magazines.

You know the ones. Stories of women unable to get out of bed for days at a time, no drive or energy to get up, shower, brush their teeth. Stories of women who would lie in a dark room, feeling both alive and dead at the same time. Stories of women who would sleep for hours on end. Stories of women who would practically waste away to nothing because they had no desire to eat, as their appetite was gone, their love of food diminished, their depression so strong that their taste buds would not even function. Stories of women who didn't even have the energy to cry, so they just sat there, staring straight ahead at nothing, eyes unfocused, wondering what on earth has become of them. Women who had become a mere shell of a person.

That was me. And yet, that was so very unlike me.

I am generally a happy, positive, upbeat person with a wicked sense of humor and boundless energy. I love life and I love love. I warm up just thinking about sunshine and I exclaim wonderment at every little thing I see. I sing along to the radio and I dance in my living room. I have simple pleasures and enjoy my family and friends.

I had gotten so sick emotionally, that I had lost all of my vitality. I wasn't even functioning. So, I sought out help.

Yeah, I know. A therapist seeing a therapist. But though I intellectually knew all the things to do, I needed a neutral third party to guide me out of that horrible abyss and help me incorporate what I already knew from my studies.

She gave me the same advice Charlie did. And this time, I took it. I had no other recourse. I was depleted and desperate. It was time. For my family. And for me.

It worked. Slowly, surely, I pulled out of that place. It was so difficult at first. I cried when I realized I didn't know what I wanted, I couldn't even remember what gave me pleasure, what I enjoyed doing. It took time. It took WORK.

It is something I continue to work on all the time. But now, it is mostly preventative, rather than therapeutic. I'm doing better now, so it's a type of maintenance program rather than an operation of healing. It's like medicine . . . like a daily vitamin. It is something now that I see not as selfish or wrong, but as necessary, healthy, and so so good for me and, therefore, those around me.

A healthy me, a happy wife and mother . . . that is the best gift I can give my family. So, I do try to do those things -- set healthy boundaries, avoid drama and toxic people and situations, practice affirmations, get good sleep, eat well, and take time for myself.

When I work with clients who remind me of my younger self with their own resistance to this principle, I explain it using the moniker I like to call it --"The Theory of the Oxygen Mask."

The Theory of the Oxygen Mask

Anyone who has ever flown knows the drill. The flight attendants come out and pantomime directions to the overhead pre-flight safety instructions, as they sound over the loud speaker. I guess in today's day and age, it's on a video. But either way, the advice is the same.

"Should there be a loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. If you are traveling with others who need your assistance, please put on your own mask before attempting to help others."

It seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? It would seem like you should help those in your charge before helping yourself. But if you were to do that, you would likely pass out, thereby unable to help anyone, including yourself as well as those around you!

That's how it works with taking time for yourself. It is neither selfish nor should it be guilt-inducing. It's healthy. Sure, like anything else, it can be taken to unhealthy extremes (which would be selfish). But a regular, healthy amount of taking care of one's own emotional health and mental fortitude goes a long way to securing our happiness and outlook.

And besides making you feel great, it is so good for those around you, too. And let's face it, our families and friends are so so worth it. They are worth us being our best selves.

Bonus? It's a great thing to model for our children, so they, too, can see the importance of regular, healthy self-care.


I will admit that this doesn't come naturally for me, though I'm doing much better than before. Apparently, I learned the hard way. Not going to lie -- it sucked. But I am doing better.

That being said, like I mentioned at the beginning, I've been struggling with this for the past several weeks especially. I have several excuses, the main one being we're BUSY. If I thought it was tricky finding time for myself with little kids, man is it trickier with older kids!

We have so much going on all the time with work, school, activities . . . day-to-day life is full and happy and, well, busy! It's mostly good stuff, thankfully, but it can be a lot to juggle. I do know that along with the many, many balls we have in the air (too many to name!), one ball that is especially important to have in the mix is the one that says "self-care."

Just like sessions with my clients help reinforce to me the importance of this skill, writing this post has also helped me process just how much I need to make this a priority. It's been a rough past few weeks, but I'm determined to make time to take care of myself along with all the other bajillion things we are doing.

Because it's just that important. And my family likes it when I'm happy. I like it when I'm happy, too. They help a lot. And I remind myself, too, that it starts with me.

Want more on this topic?

Join the conversation on BlogHer! Visit here and share what you do to take time for yourself!

Also, you can enter the current Life Well Lived Sweepstakes here for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate!