A Poem From My Future Self

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Mourning The Old You

10 Oct, 2017
JoAnne
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I recently went out to dinner with my sisters. It was such a great time because we never really get a chance to see each other. My sister recently got a job so she was very pumped up in sharing all about it. She too was someone who for the majority of her life has solely worked from a home office. Now she is working partially from home and partially from an office. I must say that while listening to her I felt totally pumped up and energized from a work related aspect. She has such passion and drive for her job and what she does and I could not help but feel a little nostalgic because that is how I used to be.

Growing up I loved to work. I started working as a babysitter at the age of 11 and from then on out I have never stopped working. Even when I was laid off for a few years I was still working as all Moms do – working in the home as wife and Mother. But I always had a deep work ethic and a love for working in general.

There was nothing worse than being in a job you hated or working for a company or in a department that you did not like. So I never ever followed the rule of staying in a job for a long period of time just so it looks good on your resume. Heck no! I always did what I wanted even if that meant I only worked for a job a short time. That mentality began when I was in High School and I was working for Flemington Department Store. I was only there maybe a month or so (it’s a blur so I do not remember). I asked for time off so I could go down the shore with my friends after prom. When the owner refused I quit right there on the spot – no notice or nothing. Who wouldn’t let a kid take off for prom? It’s like a freakin rite of passage for goodness sake! Sure, I was young so I didn’t have to work per se because my family supported me but I loved to work. I wanted to work so it stunk that I had to quit just because he was being a jerk. lol! There was a little more to the story than that but I didn’t regret quitting like that and I do not regret it now.

I have currently been at the company I am at for just over five years. It feels like so much longer only because I am literally the longest standing (non) employee in my department. I have to say the past year or so we have seen the least turnover which has been great because this new team really works great together. Before that we had constant turnover not only in the department but in the company overall. I have been blessed to have just remained stable in my position.

Because I am a contractor I get paid per hour and I never get a raise. I also have not changed titles or positions in the duration of this contract. While I am very happy to have a job and while I feel very grateful that I can work from the comfort of my own home and around my kids’ schedules I have to say after listening to my sister I did kind of mourn my old work self. Being able to get raises, paid time off; being able to strive for goals and try to get bonuses or promotions… I gotta say, I miss it. Would I want to go back to that? No. Do not get me wrong but I would be lying if I did not say I was a wee bit envious listening to my sister’s new awesome job.

When you are a stay-at-home working Mom like me it can be very very hard. You are always in your office maybe without co-workers but always with at least one kid around. You don’t get to travel (though I have constantly joked with my boss about sending me to Texas to meet them all!). There are no paid meals, hotels, mileage. You don’t get to see your co-workers (though I will meet with my counterpart every so often since she is not that far away). Your work is always there, at home, with you. That can be tough.

If I never worked in Corporate America I would not know any better. Free breakfasts, coffee and morning chats with co-workers, celebrating baby or bridal showers at work. How about working out at the company gym and getting a hot shower and ready there in peace and quiet without kids nagging you? I mean, come on, I did not even shower or change my clothes at all yesterday! Having the ability to run errands at lunch without my toddler trying to jump out of the grocery cart!  So I do, I do miss it all even if only a little bit!

For over twelve years now I have been mourning my pre-pregnancy body. I have been up and down. And I do not know if it is the latest plus size craze or what but I have finally kind of come to the fact that “it is what it is” this, my post-pregnancy body. Does this mean I won’t try to diet again and lose weight? No. Because I have always been like that even before I got married and I thought I was fat! But I have kind of given up on the fact that I will look or weigh the same that I did when we first got married. And that is ok.

So I guess since the mourning of my body was kinda over I had to pick something else to mourn over so I chose mourning over the loss of my old work self. lol!

I know me…if I survive raising all of these children I will never stop working in some capacity. Who knows? Maybe one day I will return to the workplace fulltime and be happily yet miserably stuck in an office cubical begging for time off and to work from home. For now, I guess I will just strive for new work goals in the main job that I have as Wife and Mom. It may not be the same as Corporate American but it will most definitely be rewarding.

God bless,

JoAnne

P.S. Wife and Mom in caps on purpose! ;)

 

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Why This Mom Respects Taylor Swift

25 Aug, 2017
JoAnne
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So…I normally do not blog on other people. I think I blogged on a musician once before. I should be blogging on baby/kid pee and poop like I intended to but today I just can’t. Today I just have to blog on Tay Tay, aka Taylor Swift.

So recently in the news I read about how Taylor Swift cleared out all of her social media accounts. I found it fascinating- in general but also because I knew she had something up her sleeve. I did not pay too much attention to it like the die hard fans did but, once again, thanks to the news and my insomnia, I was able to see her do her mic drop in the middle of the night and watch the magic unfold.

Let me start by saying I have always liked Taylor Swift. I think her personality is just adorable and I think she is a very talented singer and songwriter. I have enjoyed watching her evolve over the years. Because of her music I have also been able to help my children with bullying and other issues. When Shake It Off came out it was a great way for me to prepare my kids for school in the morning and to unwind at the end of the hard school day. I have always taught them to have killer confidence but Taylor’s music has so helped me with reinforcing that concept through music and on my kids’ levels.

Because I follow the news daily I always know what is going on in the Entertainment world. I have known about the Taylor verse Kanye/Kim (Kimye) issues as well as the Katy Perry issues. I have always thought that she, Taylor, has handled herself gracefully despite what and who she is up against. Have I agreed with everything that Taylor has said or done or even wore? No. I may be a fan of hers but I treat her like everyone else in my life: if you have flaws (and we all do) I will find them and though I will not love you any less for them I will admit they are there and just like my flaws they need to be worked on but hey, that is what life is all about; it’s a journey in bettering ourselves,  in evolving ourselves. Am I right? While I do love the song Roar (sorry!) I do not really like Katy Perry. I do not like what she stands for and how she handles herself but hey that is me. I have also followed Kim Kardashian over the years but only because I love watching all things fashion and make-up. And as with Katy I do not like what Kim Kardashian stands for and how she likes to think she is religious but everything she does and “sells” including herself goes against everything religious and then some.

So that brings me to the point of my blog today: why I respect Taylor Swift. In the middle of the night last night some of her fans thought this- her new song- was not her and that she is better than that and etc. I get it BUT have you seen how she has been treated? Not only with the Kimye/Katy issue but her sexual harassment suit which she only asked for $1 for? And which SHE WON. That was not about money for her; it was about the truth. Just look at her video from Look What You Made Me Do – she is not even in it (unlike Katy’s bizarre video of Swish Swish?!). Why? Because this is not about her. She doesn’t care to be in the video. What she cares about -and it is very clear- is being an artist and conveying whatever message she has to convey. I am a writer. I am a blogger. I am now an author. Some of my best “work” has come from bad relationships, bad friendships, and my postpartum depression. If I was told not to write on those topics well, I may not write at all. Writing is therapeutic for me just like I am sure it is for her. So people want to tell her not to write about the feuds in her life?! Why not? If you think about it – not only does she release her own issues, per se, via it but she touches so many of us with her songs, her lyrics. Additionally, she makes a ton of money off of her well, feuds and break-ups and hey, that is OK. Why wouldn’t it be okay? Take lemons and make lemonade out of them, right?

Just look at some of the lyrics to her latest song:

1. “Look What You Made Me Do” – The title is epic. THEY made HER do this SONG. Yes, oh yes they did! Her response to “them” is a totally epic song!

2. “The role you made me play” –  How many times have you played a role in something, against your will? Hello? Duh. Perfect.

3. “Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time“- We do. We struggle in life and we have no choice but rise up from the dead after someone or something has hurt us.

4. “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined I check it once, then I check it twice, oh!” - This is fantastic! It’s like a reminder to yourself not to deal with the toxic people in your life. It resonates with people.

5. “You ask me for a place to sleep Locked me out and threw a feast (what?)” How many times have your closest friends or family taken advantage of you like that?

6. “But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma And then the world moves on, but one thing’s for sure Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours”- Let’s face it: karma is a b#$%h and what goes around comes around (all hail!).

7. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams” – Insanely great! And for those who are like OMG I can’t believe she turned bad this way just listen to Bad Blood! This is just a perfect extension of that.

8. And last but NOT LEAST, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” “Why?” “Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” (ohh!)” -This was the cream of the crop! She is not the same person as she was before. She never will be! And guess what? She won’t be the same person tomorrow and that is ok.

People have to stop holding on to the young, shy, “perfect” Taylor and realize that she is growing up and clearly holding her own in a very intense business and her talent is shining through because of it all!  She remains true to herself, she fights for what she believes in, and she is very generous with her fans and the like. I respect her for all of that and more.

One twitter user (@PikaRosie) said perfectly in the middle of the night, “Right now Taylor is probably sitting in her apartment with a cat on each leg stroking them while maniacally laughing at everyone’s reactions.” Amen to that! Because Taylor is that – just a simple girl in an apartment with her cats who happens to make the most incredible music in the entire world! Just look at how her song has been trending in more than 66 countries since midnight!

Thanks Taylor for making me laugh all night at your awesome fans! And thanks for giving me another great tune to listen to. Rock on with your bad self!

God bless,

JoAnne

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Riding The Wave…

26 Jul, 2017
JoAnne
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For those of you who do not know the subtitle of my book is called, “Ride The Wave of Postpartum Depression With A Mother of Nine” and the reason I chose that subtitle is because it is a wave; ever-changing all the time. Now that I am about 16 months postpartum I may want to start talking about my wave as clinical depression and anxiety since postpartum usually only lasts one year after birth. Ok, so maybe I can still call it postpartum mood disorder?! At any rate – here I am still riding that wave!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Josh Rivedal, the person who brought together 50 authors not once but twice to share an array of personal mental health stories. I have been blessed to be a part of Josh’s second book which will be coming out soon. (You can learn more about the book here.) Poor Josh, I had planned to meet with him several times but had to cancel do to conflicts that came up. All three times I had planned to and eventually met with him I had an anxiety about it. That just goes to show you that I am still riding the anxiety wave. If you know me you would know that I have always liked the spotlight, attention, interviews and etc. Reality show? NO PROBLEM! I mean I wanted to be a model for Pete’s sake! So there is no reason whatsoever for me to be anxious about an interview with him. But I was and I blame that on my postpartum mood disorder.

Needless to say the interview went fine, in fact it was FUN! because Josh is a great funny guy! Part of my anxiety, I think, about the interview was that in the beginning of my coming out of the clouds so-to-speak I was very anxious (the good anxious, that is) to talk about/get the word out about mental illness. But after I got the word out, and after all the excitement and promotion around my book regular chaotic life took over and I began to experience some depression again. Needless to say it was nothing as severe as the beginning of my bout with postpartum depression but it was there nonetheless. And because of that I honestly did not really want to talk about it -mental illness- (since I was still experiencing it). However, after the interview I was once again pumped up. Talking to Josh made me want to pick back up and get out there again to promote awareness around mental illness.

If you think of surfers it really is a sport that requires much skill. First off, unlike me, you have to be okay with going in a body of water that has jellyfish, sharks and the like. Without even getting on the board you can die or get seriously hurt! Forget just staying afloat in the water you also have to learn how to balance yourself on a board up against gigantic waves? I don’t know about you but I can barely hop on one foot?! If you happen to fall off the board you need to know how to go with the tide so-to-speak without drowning! Not an easy task I would imagine?! It must be really exhausting for surfers to learn this skillset and then maintain it or advance in it. They must get pretty discouraged in the beginning (or even in competitions) when they can’t seem to “ride the wave”. But then, to get back up after many failed attempts and keep on going?  Well that is commendable indeed!

So in a small comparison I guess I need to get over the discouragement I have felt in recent months and just continue to ride the wave and see where it takes me or more so, where I take it?! Sink or swim baby so I’m gonna just keep swimming!

God bless,

JoAnne

 

When You Sabotage Your Own…

17 May, 2017
JoAnne
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So today I was thinking about how I have, unintentionally, sabotaged so many “things” in my life. For example, I did not realize until recently what one of my triggers was for my very own mental health. Here I was, rolling along, trying to do the holistic gig and doing things that I thought I loved and thought were good for me or made me feel better mentally and yet, I discovered – through trial and error – that some of those very things were actually sabotaging that which I was working towards… 

And then I thought about how that happens in so many areas of this, our human lives. Take love for example, how many times do we “fall” in love with the wrong person? And we know it. Or, maybe we do not know it but EVERYONE ELSE does…and they tell us and yet we stay with that person. And then it ends up being a perpetual sabotage of our love lives.

Or, another example could be our “diets”. We “diet” or we hard-core exercise or we do both and then we end up pigging out and/or binge drinking. All of our hard work and dedication to get in shape has been sabotaged by our love for food and drink.

How can we forget our spiritual lives? When we mumble or “recite” prayer after prayer when really we could just sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation with God, as our best friend. Wouldn’t that be better than rambling? Speaking with authentic love from the depths of our souls but maybe without actual words?

What about that job? That “career” that you long for? Did you settle? Did you allow a dollar amount or dictating parent sabotage your dreams?

As a mom and a wife I felt like my temper can easily sabotage what I want to be as a mother and wife. Screaming, losing my cool, being a bad example, cursing, kicking, and whining! I may at times be worse than our spawn!

Welp, I don’t know ’bout you but today I am going to pretend like it’s January 1st and I am going to start again; on all accounts and I am going to try my best not to let anything or anyone (myself included) sabotage the God-given desires of my mind, body and soul. After all, would our Creator really want that for us? I think not.

God bless,

JoAnne

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Why My Son’s 1st Birthday Is So Important To Me

21 Mar, 2017
JoAnne
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Trigger Warning: For all of my fellow warrior moms battling postpartum depression (PPD) I do talk about my experience with PPD in this post. I am hoping it would not be a trigger for any of you but wanted to put the warning just to be safe.

For those of you who do not know me this is a picture of me and my son, taken this morning! Philip turns one today and this is not only a milestone for him but for me too.

One year ago was one of the happiest days in my life; I had just given birth to our 9th child, Philip Joseph. I was so very happy to have him here with us and OUT of my gigantic belly! I was so relieved that he was ok; he was more than ok…he was perfect.

Everything was going swimmingly until I had an issue with a new mortgage on a house we were going to close on in a week! Yes, a week! Looking back on it all now it was from that moment on that things went downhill. I went from looking at my beautiful new baby to trying to figure out how to get the mortgage since our home (and family) was practically ready to move. If you would have told me that a mere twelve days after his birth I would be having my husband call 911 ON ME and admitting myself into the hospital I would have said you’re crazy.

But that’s exactly what happened. I self-diagnosed myself with postpartum depression with a few sides of sleep deprivation and dehydration. The Doctor agreed and from there is been one hell of a year.

I cannot believe it has been one year and yet I can. There were moments this past year when a moment felt like an eternity; as if time itself stood still and there was never any intention to progress. There were long days, many sleepless nights and basically, there was sheer hell.

I can remember very vividly thinking to myself, “Am I going to make it?” I remember balling my eyes out to my husband, who held me tightly while crying too and saying, “Is this EVER going to end? Will I be OK?” And I most certainly always remember thinking, “Will I ever be normal again?”

Prior to this bout of postpartum depression (PPD) I had a bout of it following the birth of my fourth child. At the time it felt like a severe case but after experiencing this second bout it was ANYTHING BUT severe. It does not discredit it because it was PPD but I was awakened to a whole new beast of PPD the second time around.

I cry when I think of all of the love and support I had (and still have). Without it I can assure you; I would not be here today so a BIG THANK YOU is due to everyone who was there for me and who still is. I thought I loved my husband a lot before this but now my husband has gone beyond being knighted in my mind and he has literally already been canonized to sainthood for he has been performing miracles every single day -multiple times a day- this past year!

So that is why I am here writing to you today. I am here to tell you that while I am so very happy my son is one and even more perfect than the day he was born, I am so very happy that I made it this milestone which, at one point in my mind, was very questionable. The reason a year was always so important to me was because from my original research from my first bout of PPD I read that PPD can last up to a year of the baby’s birth. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that that is the furthest thing from the truth.

With my first bout of PPD I was able to overcome it in less than six months and let me make this clear: with zero side effects after that time. With this bout I am still riding the wave of it. It is nothing compared to the first six months of it but yes, it is still there. Some days are good days and some days are bad days but so far there really haven’t been any completely GREAT days or “normal” days. I have finally accepted the fact that there may never be any and I am finally ok with that.

Last night during dinner my one daughter said something and I totally thought I heard her say something else and I burst out laughing when I said it (as did the rest of the table). I could not stop laughing. It was that hard core belly laugh and it was really really funny (I am not sharing it because some may be scandalized by how my mind works and what I thought she said!). Before I could even stop laughing completely my eldest son Peter (age 10) said, “Wow, I haven’t heard that laugh in like three years!!!” to which my husband agreed. As I slowed down my laughter I thought about what he said and he was spot on. I had not even thought about it myself up until that moment! Now, granted it has not actually been three years since I have laughed like that but it has been like two (one for the pregnancy which doesn’t usually bring forth hard core laughter and another year of my PPD).

Unfortunately for me one major side effect of my PPD right now is that I still do not enjoy things as much as I used to and I definitely don’t laugh as much as I used to (let alone a hard core belly laugh). I have come to terms with it and it is ok for me only in that while I may not enjoy the things as much as I used to I appreciate EVERYTHING and EVERYONE so much MORE than I ever did.

When you think about taking your own life or that of your child(rens) and when you realize that it is irrational thinking but you can’t control it or when it comes and goes you have a total appreciation of EVERYTHING. When the time arrives that you no longer have those intrusive thoughts and when you no longer feel like your anxiety or panic attacks are literally going to kill you, you don’t take one thing for granted (not one!). So, while I may not be the completely joyful person I was before I am a completely changed person and one for the better.

Without this bout of PPD I may just take another day for granted. I may just let time pass my by. But because of it every day is a new day for me. Every day is one that though I may scream to the top of my lungs because the kids did this or that it is a day that I look at each of them in a way I never did before and never would have. It’s an appreciation for life; all life…mine, theirs, ours, and yours. Needless to say, it has brought my relationship with Our Creator to a whole new level.

Because of this past year I have made my dreams come true. I have published my first book which is insane! And even though it is not the first book that I wanted it to be it is a book that has created a whole new mission in my life: that to help other women and men and families who suffer with postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders. Because of this past year (and because my best friend, my cheer leader, my husband is pushing me) I am going to do something I have wanted to do for a long time; I am going to open an LLC to help people. As with the book, this will not be about money (but the money is always nice lol!). This will be about officially doing something that I have always loved to do unofficially and that is to help people.

I started a new hashtag just for me: #justone I realize there are other people who use this hashtag for other things and that is ok. For me #justone represents if I am able to help #justone person then this whole insane year will not have been in vain. I hope with my book, with my blogs, with my continued “unofficial” advocacy for women’s mental health and my new LLC I can help more than #justone but if it’s #justone then I am more than okay with that.

Happy Birthday Philip! Your life has changed me forever…forever for the better.

And Happy One Year Milestone to me! Here’s to many more!

God bless,

JoAnne (Wife, MOM & Warrior Mom)