I fight big battles, in small ways.

The values of what I have learned about myself in the last 11 months are so numerous. I literally think about it daily. Much of this journey has felt selfish and self serving and that is probably because it is. But there is something so valuable about the last year that I cannot even think about without crying.

There has been a lot happening in the background that partially isn’t blogworthy and partially it isn’t meant for blog consumption. A territory  I am not brave enough to venture to publicly. Maybe someday I will be or not. But to deal with why things got as bad as they got with my taking care of myself I had to deal with some demons. I had to explore places where I didn’t really want to explore.

But I did it. I still do it daily. The battles always rage on in life. One battle is in our rear view mirror and if we look to long we run into another on the horizon. For awhile I beat myself up for that. This idea that I created this mess of a life around me. But I realized soon that I don’t create these battles. I just speak about them.

I don’t choose to suffer alone in the dark lit up by my refrigerator light or as I sneak another candy bar in the check out line at Walmart. I have recognized the things I am willing to accept and the things I am not. My lines in the sand are becoming more and more apparent because I can see passed all the crap.

I know what true friendships look like. My stance seems very clear on most everything now. Things that are worth my time and effort and things that are not. I can only control what I can control. Things or people I cannot I have to say good bye to. Sometimes that hurts. The hurt though, in my experience, is replaced by more self love. Loving myself enough to say I deserve better.

The more I let some of this baggage go the more free I feel. The less I feel tied down to people, places, ideas, and things. The heart of what really matters becomes more and more clear.

If those things can’t be in my life at its worst, it certainly doesn’t deserve a spot at the table in the best. That is what this journey has taught me. I can’t take the complete battle on all at once, but I can in small increments of time, self love and persistence.

That my faithful blog readers is strength in its rarest form. By golly I have personal strength like never ever before. The ability to say no to what doesn’t promote that love. The ability to care for my family in a way I never have fully.

Those big battles of weight, self loathing, other’s mistreatment, the fear of not being enough, the fear of not being truthfully loved by those who are supposed to love you, finding true and lasting friendships that matter to them and you, taking care of a spouse with chronic illness, and fear of speaking up for what you want in the world and being okay with the consequences. Those are only some of that battles.

Everyday I can stand in awe of what I have accomplished. It is so much more than weight. It is more than what I put in my mouth. It is more than becoming a better me. It is being me  unapologetically, unabashedly, and with fervor. But I wake up daily ready to fight the big battles in small ways. IMG_4251

Playing a dangerous game.

I have identified my weakness. It started out using food to comfort, but there is another layer. It is demanding time for myself. It is so easy for me to move about a regular day and take absolutely no time for myself. And yes I get up in the morning and get my girls ready and moving and then off to teach. All of that is a choice and something I love.

But it doesn’t give me the love and care I need to survive. Something changed in me in the last year. Something that demands attention and when it doesn’t get it I feel it. I feel weighed down. I feel eager to have it. I feel angsty when I don’t have it.

When one rope is loose the rest is too! When I don’t put caring for myself at the top of the list I literally just keep falling and falling…Lower and Lower. That is exactly what has been happening for the last few weeks.

I was rightfully consumed with my family, school, the musical and finally my graduate work. So much so that my workout time was SMOOSHED in. My eating thankfully was good, but not at peak like it could be.

Finally last week it had to go all together. No workouts. But miles upon miles walked. But still no dedicated time to me. Those miles were spent chasing a prop, working a light cue, directing and doing teaching things. They weren’t miles spent dedicated to me. To my brain. To relax.

And I am paying the price. I am tired. I feel heavy. I feel put upon and left behind. I feel like I sacrificed a lot and I cannot be happy with what I see in the mirror.  When those moments come you have to be selfish and steal them back.

They are your moments. A moment came on Saturday where I felt left IMG_4217behind. I met myself coming and going and I realized that when I give more than others, it is time again for me. I lost it again. I will probably do it again too. But I know my breaking point. I saw it. I grasped for more.

I took a picture of myself eating an apple today. That is me caring for me. That apple, that mirror, that moment was for me. No one else. It was after my work out where I sweat. It was after I felt better than I have in four days. I liked what looked back at me for just a minute.

Pretty face. The brownest eyes. A woman fighting for herself. I love every single curve. I love all the smile wrinkles. I love that I am getting better and better at seeing and knowing where my limits are. The dangerous game of slipping into oblivion will never happen again. The moments where others come before myself. It is in the distance.

I maybe the mother to daughters.

People often ask me if I wish I had a son and if I am being honest I can easily answer no. It was never really something I felt like I missed. I always wanted girls and then with each of my pregnancies my guy and I would both get down on our hands and knees and pray for girls. It was just our thing. Some of it was security of knowing what to expect, and some of it truly was I love raising my girls to do amazing things no matter their gender. 

But this morning after an amazing performance by our drama department I am sitting here crying. As I left my school last night I remarked to my colleague that I knew I would find a quiet moment and I would cry. That is what I do. I push them daily to go out and be amazing people and remind them they can do it. And then they do and then I cry.

My biggest flaw in the classroom is also my biggest strength. My heart, I teach from my heart. I mom them. Each and everyone of them. Some days I leave them feeling tattered and spent and needing more for me but then these moments pop up and remind me that I am here for a purpose. 

But as I sit here doing an emotional landscape check I realize that I don’t miss sons because I have them. I have extra sons and daughters and though they aren’t mine; they are shared with me for this very short and fleeting time. I get to witness a lot of greatness in their four years with me. 

Back in May I shared a moment of letting one of them go. I didn’t really go into great detail about how upset that moment made me. But my guy remembers. Two days of scattered tears and praying for the best. My mom teacher heart in full action. I grieved for the possibilities missed. But that grief was absolute happiness last night. That student came to our show. That student in the moment they saw me literally picked me up off of my feet and shouted all the great things happening in their life. My prayers answered in the greatest ways. 

We are graduating our first class this year. Some of my students have been in my class 9 times in the last four years. 9 times of the highest highs and lowest of lows. I already see them thinking of life beyond our walls. The word amazing is the only thing coming into my mind. This idea that they will be adults and create these lives for themselves that matter. There is no other word. 

My heart already aches but in the best possible way. I am blessed in this world. I know it. I don’t have a perfect life. But I have a big heart and tons of love to give. If you lead with love….you truly lead. 

They just have to learn

Raising kids is hard business and I am sure I have said it before and I will say it again….it takes all of us. I look at my position as a high school teacher as being a part of a child’s village. My own children need a village for all of us to realistically accomplish all that we intend to. But what happens when that support system breaks down? And let’s be realistic it does. I see it daily. I see kids whose hearts are broken by the people in their lives. Kids who are cruel because they have the ability to be cruel. Or parents who allow it to happen. 

It is hard sometimes being the onlooker to this cruelty and not having the power or ability to do anything about it. There are quite a few things I know about myself and that is I am compassionate, empathetic and forgiving. I live this in my daily life. 

I raise my daughters this way. I teach the children in my classroom these actions by showing them. We are all human and all our needs are so basic. We love. We need to know we are accepted for who we are and we need to feel supported in this life. But everyday I see this breakdown. 

I see children who are forced to live in an adult world where they are forced to make adult decisions or are treated as mini versions of their adult selves and often times we excuse ourselves from this pressure we put on them with this ridiculous notion that, “They need to know” or “they have to learn.” And I call crap. I say no that is unacceptable. 

Why do they need to learn that the world is cruel by those they are entrusted to? Their friends if they don’t act like real friends than how in the world should they expect those peers who are not their friends to treat them? The adults that are supposed to be their support system don’t support and say, “live with it” or “get over it”. And these are the people who care about them and are looking out for them. But are they? 

The reality is that the world is cruel and kids are on a fast moving train to the cruel world where their “friends” aren’t real friends or the people that are responsible for their well being fall deafening short of the job that they are somehow entitled too. 

But I make a conscious choice every single day to not live like that. I won’t contribute to the cruelty. You can teach your children/students/children entrusted in your circle about the world without adding to the cruelty despite the pressure to do such. Entrusted doesn’t mean the right to break them. 

You do so by deciding everyday that when you go to bed at night no child will cry because of a decision you made that day. That you face everyday trying to be the best model adult of a non-cruel world you can be living and breathing the kindness and true guide they need. You do so by raising children under your steed to make that same choice. And you acknowledge when you fall short and you will. You don’t hide behind some self righteous belief it is good for them to experience the cruelty. What is good is for them to see the fall and your reaction to it.

And I say this not from a picture of a perfection. Sadly, I say it from experience of not living that world and reaping the consequences of that decision. For me, knowing that I made a decision in my day that took a little piece of the beautiful innocence that a child once possessed was too much. I can never operate from a place where shame is okay and hurt reigns supreme. It goes against every fiber of who I am and who I pray and hope I am raising my children to be. Unfortunately, it took time and hurts to get there. 

It also requires me to be extremely cognizant of the words, actions and effort I put into the world. Remember the phrase, “people won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” No truer statement can be spoken. 

I work hard on my own personal social circle to be sure my own daughters have adults in their lives who believe and live the way we live and will care and love them like I do. That they have friends in their life that carry a similar kindness for them. Friends will hurt you, but never ever will it happen intentionally. If it is intentional it isn’t a friendship. 

Those are all hard lessons and ones that have to be learned and relearned. Learn from your mistakes, apologize when you make a mistake. Let love win. It deserves to.

21 Day Update

Well my latest round of 21 Day Fix came and went and was super successful! Not necessarily like it has been previously, but cool things were happening. I lost 7lbs and about 6.5 inches. I leaned out. I can always tell when I do that. I am less bloated. I feel better. I feel good.

I am getting very nervous about losing too much more because my skin is sagging really bad. It is so loose in my face and chin area. Of course it is loose in my stomach and legs but those are harder to see. My arms and face I am way more conscious of.  I was having a convo with my oldest daughter about weight and when I realized that my new goal was her weight I kind of pumped the breaks so to speak.

I like the weight I am now. I would like to be more lean and I would be okay with 10ish or less pounds more, but if I don’t it is okay. My focus is a new one for me. It is about being healthy and making decisions based on being the healthiest me versus losing weight. That is a complete mind shift for me, but I am handling it better than I thought I would.

Anyway wanted to share some updated photos from January to November …JanuarytoNovember


We are in a round of T25 right now and I walk/run when I have the time to which is a bit harder because we have a musical coming up in two weeks.  I still walk at least 10 miles in my classroom a day. I eat 100% entirely clean with the occasional Quaker granola bar.

People ask me if I cheat. The answer is simple. I will never call it a cheat. If I want it, I eat it. If it is really bad for me I know I need to work a little harder. I will never get in the game of what is happening in the kitchen being worse than what happens in the gym. I won’t chase one to have the other.

More than anything I focus on not eating based on how I feel. I did that before and that was the problem. I don’t have that problem anymore. So yea….Mommy Rhetoric has figured out her formula. Eating is to live and exercise is free therapy. I love both!

Just another day…

A year ago I was in a bad place. I was suffering from severe grief and I was very unhappy with myself. I had a rough few years with immediate family members deaths, a chronic illness with my spouse and a few other things. I didn’t think it was a lot. When I was in it it didn’t feel bad. But looking back I see how bad I felt.

So my 38th birthday was hands down my worst. I was miserable and I made those around me miserable. Now here I am a year later and I am physically, spiritually and mentally 60lbs lighter. I had the weight of world on my shoulders and then I made the decision to change it. I had been down that path before. In 2001-2003 I had my first child, I lost a baby and had another baby, made a major move from all the friends and family and I dealt with all those dramatic life events in an unhealthy way. I ate to comfort, I found my world unsafe and hard to handle so I coped with anxiety by hand washing and controlling everything I could.

But not this time…I channeled that anxiety and energy where it could be used for miles on the road, taking care of my body, loving myself and those around me. I put my heart into my passions. My family, Teaching, writing, and using my voice for good in the world. So the result is an amazing life lived. True happiness.

My birthday miles way from my birthday last year. An amazing year lived and all of it before the big one. They say all the time to focus on the things you want to do before you are 40. Well I think I made this past one my year. That isn’t to say I don’t have some great things in store for this one….but dang it will be so hard to top.

So my birthday weekend in a nut shell.

My usual weekend date as I call it. I dedicate an hour and half every Saturday to myself. I lift weights, try a new exercise routine or machine. I aim for a 1000 calorie burn.

A quiet date day with my guy. We held hands. He surprised me. We shopped for carpet and went to lunch.

This was my surprise…a student drew me a heart pic around my semicolon a little less than a year ago. I have carried it around with me and my guy knew that. He made an appointment and we got a consult on the pic. We worked on symmetry and this is what happened. Such a sentimental and meaningful tattoo. The semicolon has always stood persevering when I didn’t want too. But now no where in my life is that more evident than in my life and my children’s in the face of TN. Each heart representing our battle. The teal for my guy.

Trick or treat which I only took one kiddo this weekend. She went to four houses and was done. I would say I am starting to hit that sweet spot of parenting where mom and dad can spend some focus time on mom and dad.

I have absolutely no pictures with my kiddos but they were the biggest part of my weekend. We shopped. We lunched and we hung out. So yes that is the sweet spot I am talking about. No more diapers, no more late nights (but occasionally), and a whole lot of fun!

And my workouts with Kpuff which are no celebration because we have dedicated ourselves to this for 11 months now. But the fact that our friendship has done nothing in its 9 years but make my life better and more healthy. She is my partner in the gym and honestly has been for most of our 9 year friendship. This year the gifts she got me were centered around a place I could have never envisioned going, but voiced to her. And guess what…it is happening.

So yes this birthday was amazing, and beautiful and full of love.

Per usual fall course of Trigeminal Neuralgia 

We are in the thoroughs of trigeminal neuralgia yet again. Every fall it comes slowlyIMG_0146 and it seems to come much earlier. This year it played tricks. I am not sure if it was a longer and warmer fall or just a false sense of security that lulled us into thinking that the less stress job helped lessen the severity of the TN symptoms. But nope. From one day to the next things changed drastically. Meds changed drastically and pain changed drastically.

The good news is the pain hit my girls and I a little less hard other than previous years because it is  becoming the norm. The bad news is the severity of the pain is higher and that has triggered higher anxiety for my guy and I. An increase in pain is never good because it means an increase in his horrible meds that don’t “fix” the pain. They attempt to make the pain manageable and they come with a a whole new set of issues. All of this last part not something we have shared with the girls.

But they will see it. I certainly have. His face has a TN face. I am sure I have talked about it here before, but there are literally hundreds of TN galleries of pictures of TN faces. TN attacks do something to the muscles in the face. Then there is reflexive response. We know that response and it is the one that makes me want to vomit on the spot. I see the fear it puts into my girls eyes.

It is truly one of those moments that you can say “been there done that” and my goodness I pray we never have to go back there. I know no promises are ever made in TN but I wonder why him? My family is so strong and so close because of TN, but the effects of this disease on my family run so far and so deep and so incredibly personal that I cannot, nor would I, attempt to dive into it all on my blog.

But in our private and quiet moments my guy promises me the pain is increasing but it is no where near where we were two years ago. For that honestly I am very grateful because that time and the way I felt…I just don’t feel like I can ever ever go back there. Of course I have no choice because I love this man more than myself and I will do whatever needs to be done for my family.

So we move forward doing the best we can do. We operate with life as normally as possible. I still get irritated with him for leaving the toilet seat up and for leaving his dirty socks all around the house. This life is our normal and we no longer sit with a veil of grief over our eyes like we once were. We had two choices….dwell forever in the “this sucks” phase which feels an awful like it is letting TN win or live the best life you got. We choose number two.

He goes to his doctor in January which was an appointment we just changed because this fall had been going so well. He has to update his surgeon as well because they want it noted every time his pain changes especially with increases in pain. He is kinda of waiting to make that call to see how the med increase changes his pain or if it does. That is always their first question.

If there is anything I have learned in watching my guy suffer from this disease it is to never judge something simply based on what you see. You have no idea of the battle people are fighting daily. If you walked passed him you would never know what he lives with daily. If you saw our family out and about you would have no clue. We don’t walk around all sad and downtrodden. Yes this sucks. Yes it is hard. But my girls are still young and figuring out life which is confusing enough without TN. I still adore doing theatre with my students. My guy and I still laugh and go on dates. My guy and my youngest still rough house like he did with our other two daughters. He still helps #1 with her geometry and #2 pack her lunch.

Life doesn’t stop. That is a conscious choice we make and many others make every single day. Please don’t ever assume you know the life someone lives because of what you see on the outside. That has been a message riddled in my ear all fall. In my experience people often don’t wear their battle scars proudly. I live very openly with my life because I have a public career, this public space and that is just me. But others may not.

I have you.

The weight we sometimes lose is often not the version that stares back up at us unforgivably. It isn’t what we put into mouth versus the energy we expend during our next workout. Sometimes it is balled up and crumpled like a piece of paper in a heart beating us down and holding our hearts hostage. Sometimes it is more painful than any other sort of weight that we sweat from our pores.

As I scoured through my Facebook news feed today I came across a blog post. Most of the time I don’t reread shared blog posts on Facebook. But the person who shared it rarely shares something unless it is good. So I clicked it and I skimmed. I saw the words


Everything doesn’t happen the way it should

Let them go. 

And I skimmed back up to the top and I dove in. Midway through the tears were flowing because the words pierced me. The last year as I have tackled my gravity mass on my body I recognized many of my issues with food were just that…issues. The fear of not having enough, the fear of being seen for who I was, the fear of being who I am meant to be and the bravery of letting it all hang out. The last few years have been incredibly frustrating for me as I tackled my own brain because I literally have surmounted the impossible. But the image in my mirror made me physically sick.

Admitting in February to myself out loud that I wanted to be fat hurt. It hurt because it was my truth. I realized then I didn’t know why or how but that no longer could I be my biggest critic. I spent the last two years of my life being shown grief and so many years before that building up to what I had become and I could not answer why? What made me become this way? Why did it get so out of hand? Why couldn’t it be conquered?

This set me on this path of looking at the hard things and hard parts of relationships that didn’t always work. That is never easy to face, but I knew to get to the other side of this part I had to. I have had some grief in my life and much of it lived out here on my blog. Some of it easier than others….but two years ago things drastically changed.

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried. 

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. 

They can only be carried.

And much of that journey I have made was a solo one. I found myself not surrounded by those that loved me unconditionally or even in kind ways. Instead, I found those that loved me couldn’t love me in the way I needed it and instead of feeling like I was deficit something I needed to realize it was their deficit. Not mine. And honestly that is hard. It is hard especially when it is those who are supposed to love you. The ones that are “your” people.

So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

But your true people are the ones that stand in your silence and aren’t afraid by it, or demand more from you than you can physically give. It isn’t always about having the answers, sometimes it is just as simple as saying, “I don’t have the answers, but I have you.”

One strong momma. 

I know I said life was looking better or less busy. It is. But then it wasn’t. Tragedy struck my school community…some how the statistics came out and touched us. I didn’t know the student. But I see their face. I see it because my students hearts, minds and lives are consumed in it. I didn’t need to know the student because I saw the grief my students were forced to bear. 

My own daughters felt the loss because suddenly the “talk” they have every year has a name and a face. Because they saw me come home from school at night with a heavy heart and puffy eyes. It made me feel compelled to have real and meaningful talks with them. I enjoyed looking at how they saw the world. Their innocence intact but some how altered by the reality that life is hard sometimes and sometimes it sucks. 

And more grief coming. Lives of my students being derailed and I hurt. I hurt because they do and I wonder if I should teach with less of a heart or wonder if I should just check my heart at the door. But in my classroom it maybe my biggest weakness but it is also my greatest strength. I remind them they matter. If they doubt it I make them look me in the eye and I tell them. 

But I realized that my own personal battles in the last two years of coping with my Guy’s TN, brain surgery and my own inner demons was leading me here to this very moment to have these real conversations. The ones that matter. The ones that they need and that I need. 

There is that saying that something along the lines that people will forget what you tell them, but they don’t forget the way you make them feel. I try and live that in my classroom. Had I not gone through the last two years I am not sure I could have had the frank and real conversations I have had the last few weeks. 

It is so hard for me to convince kids (my own or my students) that my assignments are their priority when they are coping with the toughness in life. They need an adult to admit to them that sometimes life sucks and that it is hard. But the moment you decide to keep going is the strongest you will ever be. I know it because I lived it. Strike that…I live it.

I am strong because I fought for me. I fought for my family and by doing that I can be there now. My life is far from perfect or even figured out. But I comfortable in my own skin and with my heart. 

Love wins.

This matters. You matter even when you don’t feel like it. 

To my daughters…to my students…to my friends…to my family…to anyone who reads this. 

This is your grief and I have no right to claim it as my own. The grief I feel is different. Yours is a silent deadly killer. It tells you you don’t matter and there are no better days. It promises relief from a difficult world where you feel so isolated and alone. You cry out in social media, in your actions and want more but more of what you aren’t sure. If you were you would likely ask for it. But in an ironic twist of fate and a game of the mind you aren’t alone but you can’t see it or hear it. Instead you are surrounded by four walls that shout you will never be enough and you are alone. 

“In 2013 CDC, stated that everyday in the United States 104 people die from suicide. In most of those cases there were clear cut signs or symptoms of depression.” 

And I grieve for you and your loss of an innocence that is fleeting fast the closer you move toward adulthood. I grieve that you can’t stay in that innocent place forever in a place where you are my daughter/mother/brother/student and we had those innocent moments of inside jokes and happy times. 

Twice in my life I have felt that lost and that alone. I looked out and saw faces and smiles and I even smiled back but inside I was anything but happy. I grabbed for people to save me in hopes they would convince me I mattered. Truthfully, that moment never came. 

There was no pill to fix this, there was no knight in shining armor, there was no pretending it didn’t exist. There was my voice crying to be heard and it needed to be heard in a safe place. 

One without a fear of judgment or maliciousness. Just someone on the other end that heard me and helped me to look in the mirror and find and see myself. It sounds so simple but the 2nd time it took almost 2 years.

The process seems so simple but it is anything but. The only way to the other side is through it. I wanted to avoid it all. I knew what was on the other side. But that meant not acknowledging my pain. And despite my best efforts that never worked. 

Depression is an emotion that demands to be felt in all it’s truly ugly glory. Each of those words an antithesis of the other because in such pain there is beauty because each of us in that moment are stripped down to our bare souls and we decide to do the hard stuff in feeling and that is survive. 

Surviving when it feels like the world tells you don’t. When your own mind tells you don’t. But you make a deal with yourself for another second, another minute, another hour or another day. 

It is trusting in yourself in absolute darkness that you will eventually see the light. It is faith where honestly it feels like there isn’t any. 

More than anything is the person on the other end of your text that waits, or the man/woman that rests their head beside yours every night. It is for all the would haves, could haves or should haves that keep you up at night. 

When it feels impossible read my words and push those walls down. Don’t just push them down. Burn them down…light fire to your hope and my hope that there is something better even though we can’t see it, feel it or will it. 

It’s existence is real it just has to be uncovered. It is honestly letting love win and moving out of our own way to let it because eventually what happens is the fire burns bright and we are stronger for the fight. 

Let love win.