That’s not the worst that could happen…

Rizzo sang all about the possibility of teenage pregnancy and how grim that outcome would be, in Grease. As a child of the 80’s, I ate an afternoon snack through many after school specials displaying the very horrible ramifications of a teen pregnancy. I even, SO MANY YEARS LATER, still remember a movie from the 90’s where Brian Austin Green played a teen dad and how very difficult his life was, because of this baby. We were a generation raised on the horrors of teen pregnancies.

With a childhood being shaped during the media onset and widespread fear of Aids, teen pregnancy still remained front & center in the worst-case-scenario educations so many American kids received. I remember encountering the rare teen mom, of my day, and becoming aware of how non mystical her life really was. The fear had shaped this idea so much larger than reality. While we were groomed in the fear of babies having babies, there were realities of sexually transmitted diseases that no one really talked about.

The special guest of this week’s podcast episode has an amazing story to share about one time decisions, choosing positivity and grace regardless of the struggles we have, and how teenage pregnancy is definitely NOT the worst that could happen…

Megan, a wife, mother, advocate and inspiration shares her story of living with HIV. She sets us straight on some misconceptions and really motivates me to not allow the negative aspects of life to keep me down. Follow this link to find the various options for listening, and then tune in to Episode {38}, and Megan’s incredibly brave story.

A Mermaid Princess…

Little girls dream and act out their fantasies of being mermaids and princesses. I know many of my fond childhood memories involved splashing around in my neighbors pool with my friends Melanie and Monique. We’d act out movies we’d seen, dance horribly to music on the radio and pretend we were mermaids almost constantly.

This was raw mermaid imagination at play, well before Ariel or the mermaid trend of these days took center stage. When I look back, the only Mermaid pop-culture references I can think of were in the cartoon of Peter Pan and the Tom Hank’s movie Splash… The mermaids we became were nothing at all like those adaptations so I’m not sure what inspired us- other than the water.

I don’t recall ever pretending to be a princess, but my youngest daughter definitely did. Her imagination was princess rich, and I loved every second of it. Up until recently, society has loudly delivered the message that such aspirations belong in childhood daydreams and deserve no place in grown-up lives. This is a truly sad thing, don’t you think? I’ll admit, as a parent, I too fell into the whole dream crushing mentality of frankly selling “reality”, responsibility and that most dreams simply don’t pay the bills… And, I mean, it’s true- most dreams don’t pay the bills. That doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming them though. (lesson learned unideally late.)

This week’s podcast guest, Jessica is all grown up. She’s a single mom. She is a first generation daughter, whose father came from the Dominican Republic. She has grown up learning to work hard and pursue relentlessly. She has responsibilities, hardships and the many  other things we all have. What sets Jessica apart is that she also has dreams, and she fully embraces them. Jessica dreams of owning her own Pastalito food truck. Jessica also dreams of being a mermaid princess. Full of so much energy, life, light and motivation Jessica is pursuing both dreams equally, in her own ways. Check out  episode {37} by following this link to our various listening platforms. As you hear her incredible story, I hope you can find a glimmer of courage to go after your own dreams too…

The darkness and the spice…

Some months really have the effect of reflecting back over their days and feeling like they themselves lasted a year. This month has been one of those...

Like many, I began the month with goals and plans. I set off January pretty proactively, despite still feeling under the weather. While there were things I put off until I felt better, for the most part I forged forward. One of the lessons that this month held for me what that I am not guaranteed to feel better, no matter how many “right things” I do to ensure it. (thanks, January! You’re a pal.) My list, written in terrible script on my kitchen chalkboard, looked like this…

  • get set up with a trainer and ready to get back into a fitness center routine.
  • reorganize my spice storage.
  • jump back in to The Collective podcast stuff, after a couple of months off.
  • make progress writing on my memoir.
  • learn to do something new.
  • make a pot of homemade soup and a loaf of scratch, crusty bread.
  • establish a weekly evening tradition.
  • continue adjusting to my husband’s non-traveling schedule.

Oh, friends…

Ohhhh, friends…

I could write it a third time, but I still feel like it wouldn’t be enough. There are so many quippy things that one can say about “best laid plans”.

  • I DID! (even feeling crappy!) And it was great, until said trainer had me do an exercise that I felt strongly I should not do. I pulled a muscle, caused major stress to my (bad, seemingly 80-year-old) hip. Good times…
  • I’m sure you’ve seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. While this was already a (desperately needed) goal, her show made me come face to face with the realization that how I had my tiny little cottage kitchen set up was NOT working. I was avoiding it because I felt helpless about how to fix it. Too much stuff/too little space, but try as we might, C and I could not get rid of anything else. We’d downsized so significantly and what remained was essential. It was a bleak 10 day attack. Stress and frustration became my new kitchen decor theme, (shout out to any of you 90’s young homemakers and the need to have a “theme”) and my husband began scripting funny comedy sessions about the ever evolving state of the kitchen. I insta-storied my low moments… It was truly, truly bad. But guess what? My spices are the best their going to get and the entire kitchen really is MUCH better.
  • done and done! We trouble shot some technical things, I connected with other podcasters. We started a Patreon and are REALLY excited about what’s down the road!
  • I did. Not as much as I’d hoped, but I am really proud of what I did put to paper.
  • Done. Winter and soup are really the perfect couple. Well, and fresh, crusty bread plays a part, so I guess perhaps the perfect thruple?
  • For the month of January we settled on Fridays and began the routine of unplugging, grabbing carry-out for dinner and renting a movie. We LOVED it… Will it continue? I think so, at least on the Fridays we can.
  • You would be surprised how actually difficult this is…

So, there you go… a little account of my significantly flawed person, in this odd little month.

My truly biggest January lesson/revelation was that while I felt significantly depressed pretty often, I wasn’t alone. I would utter those words to a friend, and hear an emphatic agreement that they too were feeling depressed. This happened several times, and I was surprised, comforted and a little less heavy with each occurrence. It is a little ironic that the very idea of being bravely transparent and then accepting that you aren’t alone is the premise behind my podcast and yet, here I am going WOW! This REALLY works!

This month I read several books, but the book that I really connected with the most was In Pieces, by Sally Field. Truly raw and transparent pages chronicling not only the highest and the darkest moments of her life, but also her own flawed perceptions and reactions. Never soapboxing, Sally simply shares her truths. It was a brave undertaking, and it resonates.

A few things that I unexpectedly fell a little in love with, this month, were the American version of The Masked Singer on Fox, (I am actually pretty good at guessing, and their masks did NOT give me the nightmares I feared, so this is a win!); the film Juliet, Naked, (which I really, really loved and did not expect to even like it!) and this recipe for sheet pan shrimp fajitas. (I thought it would be ok, but we both loved it so much! It was so easy and so delicious!)

The only thing that didn’t really work this month, (other than my continued pursuit of cold medicine, and my waste-of-time new (now ex) physician) was that, in an effort to connect with other women locally, I bought a ticket for a ridiculous book club. The price seemed so extreme ($29) but the original description had made it seem like it came with the book, tapas & beverages at the venue (wine and craft coffee beverages) and so I thought it was worth a try. I received the book in the mail, (not a super great book and seriously the length of a pamphlet) and a little note talking about the food and beverages costing extra. I emailed the organizer to clarify my confusion and it was true, the ticket price simply included the book and (her words) the privilege of coming. Hmmm.

Wasted my time reading the book, wasted my money and decided I simply didn’t want to go waste my time at the actual meeting so I skipped it. You win some, you lose some. This was a definite lose…

How did your January play out? Did it pair nicely with your own goals?

What were your bests? (and equally important, was there something you tried that simply did not work?)

Girl talk…

On the rare occasion that I log onto facebook, I usually end up feeling sad because of those silly little reminders from six, ten or however many years ago. It isn’t that I am now a miserable sow, but it is a truth I have long since accepted that my life turned upside down in 2012, and in a lot of ways it never recovered. As the years have passed,  new normals have formed. Not everything is all bad.

Sometimes the sadness simply lives in the differences.

One of the differences is that our home, pre-March of ’13, was always full. There were always bodies there, fun, laughter, and love. Always. Holidays were the moments I lived for. We hosted parties throughout the year, entertained guests on a whim, and just really lived a full life.

Post the big shift, this hasn’t been a truth we know. There is a very haunting sadness about that, and I think in so many ways we just really want that again, even if it is with different people.

Another truth is that I really miss my friends back home. It hasn’t been a lack of effort in making new kindred connections, in the years that have passed, but a bit of isolation has remained the theme…

When we moved to Pennsylvania, a few months ago, I hadn’t even unpacked before I was putting myself out there in search of friendship. Over the 5.5 years that had passed, my comfort zone had become a thing of the past. (It’s safe to say that is a good thing.) In a giant twist of irony, though I started off on a good foot, I then acquired the forever-long-virus-from-hell  and have now been sick seventy percent of the time I’ve lived here.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a video team meeting with other ladies for the podcast, and a truth struck me- as much as I love each one of those girls, and would rather be hanging out and laughing with them in person- if I’d had a fulfilling social calendar, this podcast would not exist.

It took my rock-bottom and gut-wrenching loneliness to put me in a place where this project bloomed from. It was existing in that space that put me face to face with women who needed to share their stories, and let’s be honest, it probably required me to be in that frame of lonely context to be able to really listen.

I absolutely LOVE doing this show. Are our mics more outdated than they should be? Sure. Are we learning as we go? Yes. Because of the format we record, (over the internet) do connections sometime get faulty? Yes they do. It doesn’t matter though, because we are engaging in real life, about real life.

This week is the airing of our twenty fifth episode. (Due to a misalignment it is MARKED 24th, but the 25th aired two weeks ago. See? No polished process here, because it’s run by normal and unpolished people. I dig it.)  Twenty Five is a beautiful milestone and I am so grateful! On the front end of this journey, I had low expectations and high frustrations. I was willing to undergo this experiment but was also fairly certain it would be super short-lived. What happened next was nothing I ever imagined… The show meant something. Women rose up and said “no! We need to keep this going, it matters,” when it looked like it might be over. And it is true, it does matter. For every woman we meet, in an episode, who bravely shares her story, there are roughly six more who write in. This show matters. Women from England and Australia reach out to talk about episodes that struck them and I’m left here asking how in the world, in the past 40 weeks, this show has traveled so far?

From the very beginning I have said that whoever is supposed to be a part of the show, and whoever is supposed to listen, will. I’ll do my part, this amazing group of women will do theirs, and this show will do what it needs to do. That formula surprisingly works.

In the end, I may not have a friend to catch a movie with, but I get to video chat amazing women all over the world, walking alongside them through hard, dark things and celebrating with them in the beautiful ones. There isn’t a movie in the world worth exchanging for this…

Twenty five episodes in, I just wanted to thank you for your support. If you’re reading this and in the dark, I really hope you’ll tune in. I’ve loved the journey of the past couple dozen episodes, but I am really excited about the things we have down the road. Travel it with us?