Thursday, May 11, 2017

On Embracing My Kids And Being Their Cheerleader

Aiden, 2.5 years
When Aiden was in daycare, everyday at pick-up, he’d see me, get excited, and run a full lap around the 2’s room.

Everyday. Without fail.

He was so excited to see me, to be reunited, that he’d run a full lap and then run up to me and give me a hug.

At first I’d cringe and scold him. I’d tell him to “Walk, be calm, don’t run” because, well… I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was okay with him running indoors or being rowdy. And I didn’t want anyone to think he didn’t have any “brought-upsy,” so to speak.

So I cringed. And I scolded.

He was excited and I was embarrassed. And I was scolding him to stop being so... excited

Let that sink in for a minute.

But luckily for my kid (and for me!), he’s pretty freakin’ resilient and kept at it. Everyday at pick-up, he’d see me, get excited, run a lap around the room, and embrace me with a hug. Every single day. Despite the fact that I scolded him about it just the day before.

One day something “clicked” and I decided that I’d just not give an eff about what folks thought about that situation anymore. On my way to the daycare, I told myself that I’d see my baby and cheer him the eff on as he got excited, ran that lap around the room, and embraced me with a hug.

It was the best hug ever.

Every day since then, I validated his emotions and matched his excitement. And daycare pick-up became one of my favorite moments of the day.

August, 1.5 years
Fast forward eight years and August does the exact same thing. Everyday at daycare pick-up, my little guy sees Aiden and me, gets excited, starts clapping his hands and banging on the wall, and zooms up to us as fast as he can.

All while Aiden and I cheer him on.

Even when the teachers tell him to “be more gentle” or to “calm down,” Aiden and I hype him up and cheer him on.

Because sometimes you just have to embrace the kids that you have and be their number one cheerleader no matter what anyone thinks or says.

Thank goodness I learned that lesson eight years ago. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nivelli's War at The New Victory Theater


It's been a long time since Aiden, August, and I have gotten out of the house during the weekend. And we've been having a bit of weekend cabin fever, so to speak. But with the weather warming up and making me more happy to be out and about, last weekend was the perfect time to head out into the city.

Enter The New Victory Theater.

We've been there so many times and I absolutely love it. The live performances, exposure, and cultural experiences always ensures that we'll have a good time and equally good discussions afterwards.

This time we saw Nivelli's War, a play set at the end of World War II in which a young evacuee from Fankfurt, Ernst, meets Mr. H while he is far away from home. Mr. H is magician and, while on an adventurous and uncertain journey to try to get Ernst back home, Mr. H teaches Ernst a trick or two.

The best part of the show is that it's inspired by a true story, which made for a great conversation and rich discussion afterwards. I especially love how Mr. H and Ernst become each other's ally and protector, and that Aiden and I were not only able to talk about the historical context behind the show, but also about the power of friendship and mentorship.

The best part of the experience, though, is that the customer service at The New Victory Theater continues to be unmatched. There are several times throughout the show where there are loud noises to depict the bombing that occurred during the Holocaust, etc. When August started crying and I made a quick exit, the staff members were very helpful and kind. August and I sat on the bench outside of the auditorium and watch the show from the screens. It can be really uneasy or uncomfortable dealing with a crying toddler during a performance, but the staff was just... amazing! As always.

Thank you.

Nivelli's War is running from now until May 7th at The New Victory. The show runs for approximately 65 minutes with no intermission and tickets start at $16. Visit the New Victory Theater website for more information.

{Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to the show in order to facilitate this review.} 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On Failing Gracefully and Falling Forward


A few years ago, I wrote about my success. More specifically, I wrote about what happens behind the success. You see, folks see when I “make it,” when I get to the next level, and when I have the opportunity to check another goal off of my “Things I Want to Achieve in Life” list.

You guys share in my success. You celebrate with me. You get excited with me. And I must say, all of this is pretty awesome.

But I also share my struggles, my setbacks, and my failings. Because you need to see what goes on behind the scenes. You need to see how many times it was a “no” before it was a “yes”. You need to see how many times I was thisclose to quitting before I had a major breakthrough. You need to see how long I stood still before I leveled up.

And that’s exactly what happened earlier this year. I was recently not chosen for a position/promotion that I feel, scratch that, know, I would do well. When I found out the not-so-good news, I was sad. Disappointed. And kinda stuck. I was in a “Well what am I gonna do now?” mode for quite some time.

I wallowed.

I sulked.

I even withdrew.

But… I didn’t stay there. In that space.


The way this life is set up, we’re expected to feel like failures when we fall down. But whatever happened to taking that failure and learning from it? Whatever happened to failing gracefully and falling… forward?

So that’s what I decided to do. I decided to get up, dust myself off, and strategize my next move. How, exactly, am I going to get from here to there? What do I need to learn? What do I need to unlearn? What do I need to master? What skills and tools do I need to work on in order to be an even stronger candidate the next time?

After a couple email exchanges and video conference calls with the hiring team (that I initiated), I feel like I have solid things to work on moving forward.

I could have easily continued to beat myself up over this failing. But I didn’t. Instead I decided to fail, gracefully. And fall, forward.

Now… the next time I write about this position, it will be to share the success with you. Beat your understanding on that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Five Things I Learned While Resetting My Life in Therapy


I’m not one for keeping secrets on this space and place. I usually bare it all out there, gracefully, hopefully. When I’m struggling,you’ll know. ‘Cuz I’ll share it.

And so was the case with all the things that happened with Aiden’s other parent resurfacing andthe residual effects of that – dealing with my PTSD, dealing with Aiden’s feelings being played out in real life, and e’erthing in between.

But after months of weekly family therapy sessions, and individual therapy sessions, and monthly visits to the psychiatrist, here we are. Still standing. And Aiden’s doing really, really well. (More on that in a later post.)

Needless to say, I spent time talking. A lot. And reflecting. A lot. And processing. A lot. I took some time to reset. To listen. To learn.


Here are five things I learned from taking some much needed time to reset in therapy:

People grow and change and evolve over time. And that’s quite fine.
“I’m really unhappy with my life right now and, honestly, I feel guilty for even saying that out loud.” That was one of the first things I said to my therapist when I sat down in her office. After a little probing and processing, I discovered that since I worked so hard to create this life, I feel like I should bask in it, appreciate it, and work to sustain it. I mean, I put in the hours. I did the work. I went to grad school. I pushed and pressed and I got my dreams. So I should enjoy it now, right?

For the most part, I do. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m working towards the next step… in my career, with how I’m reaching folks through my blogging, with where I’m choosing to live and raise my babies. The next step… period. I created this life, yes. But now there’s a space between what I’ve created and where I want to go. And that’s okay. I don’t have to feel guilty about that.

It’s time for me to grow. I receive that.

Activate your village
Growing and learning and slaying in life and love and my career is village work. Caring for my babies and raising them up to be thoughtful, kind, curious, and smart and productive members of society is village work. There’s really no way around it. I’ve been through the “Do it all by myself” phase, and real talk: it ain’t where’s it’s at. Just as I can’t get to work on time without first dropping Aiden off at my girl’s house so she can walk him to school, I can’t grow and get from here to there with out activating my village and letting the folks who care love on my babies and me. I’m okay with that because it’s a sign of strength.


It’s okay to show people who you really are.
Before every therapy session, I would always do my hair, put on a nice outfit, and put on some make-up. Why? Because if I was getting ready to bare my soul and be all vulnerable and whatnot, then I could at least look put together going into the session. But that was just the armor that I used to show her how “put together” I was. Even when I felt like I was falling apart. Even when I was falling apart. But, you know what? Being perfect doesn’t stop folks from judging you – it just stops them seeing you. Like, really seeing you and getting to know the real you.

So just as I can bare it all out on this blog while hiding behind my keyboard, I’m learning to do that while standing in front of people. In real life. Because I deserve to have as many authentic relationships as I can take.


There really is a season for everything in life.
I just went through a season of standing still so that I can listen and learn, but because society tells us that something is wrong with us unless we’re always go, go, going somewhere, there were many times where I felt uncomfortable with where I was. But you know what? I was exactly where I was meant to be. Standing still. Listening. Learning. Waiting… until the time was right to make the next move.

And that was (is) quite fine.

Standing still is a pre-requisite to leveling up
After standing still, listening, and learning, it’ll be time to take what you’ve learned and level up. Just like one of my favorite quotes says, “What got you here won’t get you there.” When I first heard it, it hit my like a ton of bricks because there’s so much truth to it. In order to get to a new level, I need a new level of grace and grind, a new level of determination, a new strategy, and a way to press and push and go get my dreams. My new dreams.

I’m excited. It’s time for me to grow. It’s time for me to glow. I receive that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Yes, I'm THAT Parent

I'm already at work and HEB is on the way to drop August off at daycare. I shoot a quick text to HEB. "Don't forget to bring the snacks and lunch that I packed for the baby!"

No answer.

"Hello!" I text again.

He texts back. He remembered to bring the snacks and lunch for August.

A few minutes later, he texts me back. "Why can't he have the snacks and lunch from the daycare."

"Send me the menu and I'll decide," I replied.

He sends me a picture of the menu.

My response? "Umm... no. He can have the lunch on certain days, but I'll pack his snacks. No fruit juice and no apple juice. Just water is fine, which is what I pack anyway. Also, he's gonna drink organic milk (which is what I pack) and not regular milk. And no super sweet snacks -- that stuff is filled with high fructose corn syrup! And no sugary cereal for breakfast -- just feed him the oatmeal before you drop him off."

HEB responds, "OMG! You're THAT parent!"


I mean... I guess you could say that I'm THAT parent. Like, when it comes to things that really matter to me. Like with food and developing somewhat healthy eating habits for Aiden and August.

I'm THAT parent who asks the daycare how often they clean off the tables after mealtime or arts and crafts. I'm THAT parent who wants to know how often toys are disinfected and if teachers are kind and caring and what exactly do they do when babies are crying. (I mean, they need to comfort my baby boy when he needs comfort.) I'm THAT parent who wants to know all the details all the time... because I need to be in the best possible position to advocate for my boys.

But I'm also THAT parent who feeds Aiden pancakes or waffles for dinner (without syrup) because I'm too tired to actually cook. Or... who lets him forego a night without showering because I'm too tired and lazy to fight him on it. Or... who goes hard for certain things while letting other equally important things fall at the waist side.

In the end, balance is key.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Year, New Normal


"Am I still gonna be myself?" 

This is the first question Aiden asks me after we leave the psychiatrist's office with a prescription for meds for him. Matter of fact, this is the first thing that comes out of his mouth after being silent for a block and a half. He was definitely thinking deeply about it.

We've been going to family therapy every week for the past few months. He's had individual therapy, and he's had regular sessions with his School Psychologist. And we still haven't quite figured out the right combination of tools to help him cope. Survive. Thrive.

So eventually I make an appointment with a Psychiatrist. I insist that I need to get him a psychiatric evaluation. For an official diagnosis. To see what I'm dealing with. Because... I'm in over my head and this ish is above my pay grade. After several sessions and countless rating scales filled out by his teachers, his School Psych, and me, we have a diagnosis.

Kinda. Sorta. The Psychiatrist gives him a prescription, but wants to see how it affects his mood/ the quality of his life before giving him an official diagnosis.


And he wants to know if it's going to affect his personality. (And rightfully so.)

"Am I still gonna be myself?"

"Yes! Of course," I tell him.

This is all new for me. For us.

But I'm hopeful. So hopeful.

I tell him that he has a Ferrari engine for a brain, but bicycle brakes. I tell him that he needs help to regulate his engine, and that, if nothing else, the medicine will help him do that. (It's an analogy that I read about a while back.)

It works. For now. He's satisfied. He runs down the block, jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk, a game he always plays. #CityKids


Again, this all new for me. For us. The weekly therapy sessions. The behavior plans to help him focus on his frustration tolerance. The subtle things that I must do to make him feel like he has some sense of power even though it's taken away from him each and every time he tells me that he doesn't want to go to his scheduled visit with his other parent... but I make him go anyway. The tools to help him deal with his post-trauma and stress. The psychiatrist. The evaluations. The medicine.

All of it is new.

But I'm committed to figuring this out for him.


At some point this year, I'll have a complete diagnosis for him and know exactly what I need to do in order to help him overcome. At some point this year, I'll be educated and confident and equipped with all the skills to give other folks the tools to help him. At some point this year, I'll be equipped enough to remind Aiden of all the tools he needs to help himself. At some point this year, I'll find him a village so strong and so solid that he'll feel the love and support all around him.

Yes, he can be difficult. Yes, he can be resistant and defiant. Yes, he can push boundaries. But, you know what? They'll love him anyway. Whole-heartedly. And with endless compassion.

At some point this year, along with his teachers and team at his school, I'll have his IEP all figured out. At some point this year, I'll teach him about his own triggers and he'll know them so well that he'll be about to proactively deal with them.

At some point this year, he'll feel successful. Consistently. At some point this year, he'll feel like he has some sort of control over a few things. Consistently. But, most importantly, at some point this year, he'll feel worthy. Consistently. And loved. So loved.

We will continue with the behavior plan, the therapy sessions, the consistency, the extracurricular activities that'll make him feel successful and good and competent. But, we're adding one more thing to the mix.

It's a new year and a new normal for us.

But I'm hopeful. Oh so hopeful.

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