Depression looks like this.

At first glance I might not strike you as the depressed type. 

I'm high functioning. I go to my job. I get dressed. I take showers (sometimes.) I don't look like what people think depression looks like. 

When I became a parent, it was difficult to keep things together because my home is where I let things fall apart. With children at home, there were no more safe spaces for me; their health and well-being took precedent over my coping mechanisms. I had to wash dishes regularly. I had to make food. 

I had a crappy year in 2015 and 2016. Someone I thought loved me hurt me. Someone I thought was a rock wasn't.  It became difficult to do simple things. I think certain points of our lives cause us to rethink our coping mechanisms. Turns out, mine were barely holding on. 

We all know that self care is important. So we click on the articles and pin all the relevant posts. But honestly, if someone tells me to take a bath in rose petals one more time, or to adopt a slow yoga routine, I'm going to lose my mind. 

It's so hard to get to the peak of self care when you're still at the bottom of the mountain, you know? When you have no self care routine in place at all, it's not just a matter of taking a bath to set everything right. Self care feels unattainable. 


In the west we learn a sense of duality. We learn this-or-that thinking. My darkness is bad, and that's simple. Light is good and that is simple. And when I am down in the depths, I also am not good. It cannot be another way.

I cannot clean my house. I hoard things because I'm afraid of needing something and not being able to get it. I forget to take a shower for a day too long.

I take it out on people, too. My boundaries are bad. They hurt someone else and that makes me bad.

Does this sound familiar?

If it does, I'm sorry. This is your story too. I don't have much advice other than what sounds the same throughout the internet: meditate, take some vitamins, drink the wild air, put your feet in the grass, go to a therapist, take some pills. 


Instead, I want to show you what depression looks like.


 It looks like a fever blister because I don't sleep or eat.

It looks like a fever blister because I don't sleep or eat.

 It looks like an unusable room because I just throw things in here and close the door. Boxes and boxes of memories that I don't want to see or acknowledge.

It looks like an unusable room because I just throw things in here and close the door. Boxes and boxes of memories that I don't want to see or acknowledge.

The truth is that I've been writing this for over 4 months and I keep having to stop. I keep saying that things will get better, but I don't know that. 


A few months ago I posted on Instagram what a gift it is when I wake up and feel unburied. Most mornings I start so deep into my own mental state that getting out of bed is exhausting, but sometimes I wake up already on top. These mornings are a rare and precious gift.


The secret response was overwhelming. Fewer "likes" and a lot more direct messages. We are hiding. We suffer and we hide.

The truth is that I don't have an answer but I see you. 

Maybe that's enough.




Required Reading:

World Health Organization fact sheet on depression worldwide

The radical things people do to escape depression: "A Really Good Day" - The Atlantic



Get Rid of "I Don't Care"

6 going on 16

 Write your intentions. Heal yourself.  

Write your intentions. Heal yourself.  

My daughter has been saying "I don't care" in response to everything and it's driving me crazy. She's 6 going on 16 right now. I'm struggling with the emergence of attitude.

No matter how much I say that I accept my children as the people they are, my reaction is always "be grateful to me" whenever they act like people. I realize again that I want robots. I want obedience.

This isn't a bad thing in itself, but I believe that obedience isn't the end goal. The culmination of my parenting isn't to produce obedient children period. It's to produce children who see obedience as part of an overall critical strategy. Children who can analyze a situation and understand consequences is the purpose of obedience.

Let's be clear: not consequences in that they will be punished for not obeying. Longer term consequences. Cleaning your room, for example, means that you are able to find what you need when you need it. It means being in the habit of clearing your mind and space of distraction. It does not mean "Mommy won't yell at me or take my iPad if I clean my room" though that may be the initial reaction.

This is slow parenting. It's difficult because it forces me to examine my own behaviors. Yelling doesn't foster the kind of critical thinking that I want. It stops the conversation and the process. it makes the experience about the current moment.

I Don't Care

A very dear friend of mine was listening to me complain about this new phrase in her vocabulary, and when I said "I'm pretty sure it's school, or this person or that person..." he very gently responded,

"You say 'I don't care' all the time. You say it, but you obviously do."

I won't lie, I reacted poorly. 

We got into a shouting match. And after about 10 minutes I realized 2 things:

  1. I'm the only one shouting.
  2. He was right.

I use "I don't care" to mask my own emotions. I use it as a weapon. Turns out, she does get it from me because she uses it in the same way. "I don't care" when her sister wants her attention. "I don't care" when she doesn't want to talk to me.

"I don't care" allows me to cast off the responsibility of being present, of being available to someone else, of being alive and wholly responsible for myself.

Sometimes, even the question of what I should eat is answered in this way because I don't want to think through my own self care. I give up my presence. 

This is what I'm doing.

I am reframing. "I don't care" gets turned into "I let this go" for things that I do not want to affect me emotionally. "I don't care" becomes "I am open" for decisions that I would be happy to allow someone else to make. "I don't care" becomes "I am here for the possibilities" when each choice seems lovely and I'd like to take more time.

Reframing trains my brain to think in positive ways. This is not the shallow positivity of illusion or refusal to examine things, but the clear and present work to define and understand our existence.

This is a hard season. It's Pisces territory right now. Deep introspection. All the feelings. All the watery, depths. There are people who can explain this more clearly (see below.)


How do you reframe? 

  • What do you focus on when your energy is all out of whack?
  • How do you retrain your mind to think in terms of living, whole, loving thoughts?
  • What will you do to get rid of "I don't care"?


Required reading:

Claire at The Body Astrologer

Alexis at Worts and Cunning

Carol Dweck at The Atlantic on her landmark work with Growth Mindset (and our misunderstandings of its principles.)

Want the loose herbs in the picture? 3 Eclectic Rabbits can help.



Like this post? You may also love this:

Be Vulnerable: Be Light

Drawing on the Walls: Why I Allow It

The OA: Can we talk?

I watched The OA in one swoop a few weekends ago, and can we talk?

It was not what I was expecting at all from the very start to the very end. It was broken and alive and it left me with no words at all to explain how I was feeling.

I walked into work the next day and threatened everyone with extinction if someone didn't watch it because I needed someone else to feel what I was feeling.

How's that for an intro?

 Scribbling poetry in between classes.

Scribbling poetry in between classes.


There is something stirring. And I don't know how to define it. I've been hearing the magic of the universe and it sounds so silly that I laugh at myself.

But no really.

Maybe it's the B vitamins my mother bought me. Maybe it's the girl scout cookies. Maybe it's the way spring snuck up on me so quickly. It's hard to say.

But love, there is magic about. I know you can feel it.


Life after The OA

The OA touches on so many things for me, a lot of questions I have about why we are here. In the very first episode, the main character speaks of the invisible self. She seems both heartbroken and in awe that our physical bodies, our outward selves are on such prominent display. 

I wonder, sometimes, how I will know if my invisible self is enough. How will I understand if I am who I'm supposed to be?

Maybe these things are the wrong questions. Maybe the right question is no question at all. 

I've made new friends this year. I've had good conversations. I've hygge'ed and kalsarikännit'ed and raged and bent and laughed and cried and felt crazy and alive all at once. It's been both a good and complicated year so far.


I want to know what your dream is.

Or your nightmare.

Here is mine:

I wake up outside. It's night and I am barefoot in my pajamas. I feel the grass on my feet. I see the sky above me but there are no stars.

I have to get home. I know this, but I don't know where I am. And I am crouching low to the ground.

I walk. I walk so far and I come to a house. It is always the same house. I go in and walk around as if it were my house. It isn't though, and I begin to feel the ache.

I don't belong here.


These words are not for you

Do you feel like you belong? I've spent a lot of time feeling like I didn't belong in my own life.

I am not for everyone. I do not do all things well. I'm a shit housekeeper and sometimes I'm really depressed.

I'm tempted now to begin all my writing with "These words are not for you" and those who are still here, congratulations, you are my people and I see you.

We probably have the same nightmares, you and I. We probably have the same things that light us up too. Crazy things like obsessions with miniatures or things pretending to be other things.

I'll bet you have a story that goes like this:

When I was a child, my mother's friend had a lamp that dripped oil down string around the outside. It looked like rain. I am obsessed with finding a lamp like this, but no one ever knows what I'm talking about. It is my fountain of youth. It is my El Dorado. 

I'm pretty sure I saw it in an alternate dimension. The one where Led Zeppelin sings that one song that I can't ever remember and not The Who, but people in this timeline laugh when I say that.


We are weird but we are wholly our ourselves. Holy ourselves.

My daughter is reading and drawing. My other daughter taught herself to write her name. I've learned to breathe before I explode in anger, and it's imperfectly working, but still.

Happy spring. Happy new life. Here's to my people.

I see you.



Like this post? You may also like:

Be Vulnerable: Be Light

Memorial: Kindness and Growth

How to Explain Change to Your Children


Conflict and change

 The church of my body. The church of social justice

The church of my body. The church of social justice


When Donald Trump was elected, I was disappointed. I belong to another party, and that feeling was inevitable. 

But I told my students about the power of US election systems. I explained that our peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of US democracy.

Change is scary; this I know. I've been through many changes of my own the past two years. I'm an idealist, though. I believe in the power of the future.

The Executive Order concerning immigration status changes for citizens of seven particular countries didn't surprise me, nor did the way it unfolded. I'm not sure it was even about immigration or terrorism, but it is my job to continue to welcome the students that I have, and be there for ones whose families are directly affected. 

This is how I make a difference.


Theory vs. reality


I don't back down from an argument. I'm not good at it. Even to my own emotional detriment, I keep on because I believe strongly that if I have enough facts, if I explain my thinking, I can change someone's mind (even just a little.)

But this is not why people hold on to opinions; even I am guilty of this.

I want to talk about intersectionality. Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw has written stirring analysis of the ways in which our various group affiliations contribute to our privilege and our oppressions, and as such, no one experiences either in the same way as the person beside them.

I want to tell you a story.

I believe it is important to make my view known. I stand up for my belief. Many do. And when I am criticized for that belief I try to listen and to respond thoughtfully.

I say

"Sweeping judgments about entire groups of people is not a good way to enact national policy."

and he says

"There is enough of a risk to warrant sweeping judgment in the name of safety."


and so I explain.


I explain how men have hurt me in the past, but if I say "no more men for safety reasons," I am met with a chorus of #notallmen and reminded my sweeping judgment is irrational.

I understand that someone might find that irrational.  I also understand that every man I interact with has the potential to enact violence on myself or my children.

Yet, every day I choose to take a calculated risk.


What happens next always happens


I try to explain this, and as expected he says that it isn't the same thing.

And 3 or 4 messages into the thread, he sends me the rape statistics committed by immigrants and refugees of a city in Germany with the warning that all women are familiar with.

"If you allow these people, your chance of being raped increases." 

But there is pain in my chest now. He can talk of these things in theory. He can, in a single conversation, opt-out of the conversation of what violence is done to women by men who look like him (white, from the US) and 

at the same time blame me for my own possible rape and murder when the violence is done by "the other."

For him, the argument is over. Well done.

I am left to deal with the pain.


Where do we go from here?


This is the value of intersectionality. This is how we learn to walk in someone's shoes. 

I begin to understand that my intersectional groups both deny (female) privilege and bestow (white) privilege. My feminism has to adjust. 

I am reminded of the ways that I pass (my sexuality or my religion,) and the ways that I don't (being a woman.)

These are questions we wrestle with in the age of worldwide refugee crises and the need for national security.

These are questions we ask ourselves in message threads.

These are questions I think about in the darkness when I wonder what I believe and why. I have a lot of blindness concerning the ways that racism, classism, and sexism affects people who belong to different frames, just as this man was unable to see the ways his argument affected my personal experiences.


I don't have a satisfactory ending. That is a rare privilege bestowed on almost no one. 





Intersectionality - Essential background.

The Refugee Crisis



Like this post? You may also like:

Hygge: Creating Community at Work


How to Discipline a Child: Wait


The Four Year Old Blues: Parenting the "Difficult" Child

Cranky Children and Cranky Mom

 No child is difficult and every child is. Waiting is part of our loving discipline routine.

No child is difficult and every child is. Waiting is part of our loving discipline routine.


The night of New Years Eve crossing over into January 1 was one of the most difficult I've had in a while.

My youngest daughter was sick. Her coughing was out of control, but unlike her older sister, she refused everything I offered to make her feel better. The night consisted of our frustration saturating the walls, so much so that I decided at 4:15 to make coffee.

Go ahead and greet the day.

When my second daughter was born, I adopted this philosophy. If the night gives you nothing but anxiety, then get yourself up.

She was tired, and all I heard the next day was "You're not listening!"

You're not listening. How dare she? All I was doing was listening. 


This is where we are.

She says "fill my water cup," and when I do it is too full. I tell her to say "Don't fill the cup," or "leave room," instead of what she was saying, but I'm missing the point.

It's not her words I'm not listening to. It's her. 

I was so busy fixing things for her, or trying, that I missed what she really wanted was my understanding that she was angry and sick and lonely and confused, and that life sometimes makes her cough all night and she is so sleepy.

We get in this mode a lot. I'm a fixer, but sometimes I'm just not listening to all the things in between the words. 

It's an art to see someone. Really see them. It's messy and uncertain. I get down on my knees so I can look into her eyes, and I acknowledge in myself that I cannot fix her right now. I accept her as she is in all her snotty, sticky, angry glory.

She wanted me to listen. She wanted me to wait and let her get through her own mess.

I needed to wait.


The Five Year Old Silence: Parenting the "Shutdown" Child

 Sometimes we all need space and time to process something negative. It isn't a sign of disrespect to ourselves or others.

Sometimes we all need space and time to process something negative. It isn't a sign of disrespect to ourselves or others.

Negative behavior:


My oldest daughter got in trouble for lying to her teacher recently. It was difficult to talk to her because she was tired. She kept redirecting to a picture she drew of hearts. 

She drew them because she loves me, she said.

And I know she is distracting me. She is pulling on my weak points, but somewhere she also really means it. It was a message to me. She is afraid I won't love her back after this note from her teacher.

She shut down completely then. I wanted to tell her to look me in the eye, but instead I waited for her to process what happened, process what I said, process that I wasn't going anywhere even if she does something wrong.

It's difficult to wait.

But I did. I made her mac and cheese. I refilled her apple juice. And I waited.


More Talk Isn't a Solution. More Action Isn't Either.

The Art of Waiting:


They always come around. When I have control of my own explosive emotions, they come around and we can talk. I forget that they are new to this earth, and they still don't know that I'll never reject them because of what they do. They don't know for sure that I won't walk right out the door and out of their lives in anger over one episode of lying to their teacher.

It's my job to show them again and again that we can talk through negative things and come out stronger. 

This is the process that works with my oldest who is independent and secure in her space:

  1. Address the problem.
  2. Ask for her to look at my face.
  3. When she shuts down, I politely ask if she needs space. She never answers so I give it to her.
  4. I go to something comforting. Something she expects me to do like make food, or clean the table. 
  5. I check on her until she opens back up, slowly like a flower I'm watching for blooms. Tell her I love her.
  6. I ask for her ideas about how she can change the ending of her story, how we can redo what was done the next time.

And this is the process for my youngest who needs physical reassurance and is quick with all her emotions:

  1. Address the problem
  2. Stand firm and calm in the immediate explosion
  3. Ask if she needs a hug
  4. Get on her level and let her hug me while she is still exploding
  5. Wait for the quiet, right there, without letting go
  6. Tell her I love her
  7. Ask her for ideas about how she can change the ending of her story, how we can redo what was done the next time.


So just wait. 

Even when it is hard. Even when you want to deal with your children (or yourself) right now and be done, wait for things to open to you. 

It will make the road sweeter to walk. I promise.


Why waiting is good for you.

The 5 Tenets of Mindful Parenting


How do you deal with your (or your child's) negative lessons?



Like this post? You may also like:

Pain Is A Teacher

Drawing on the Walls: Why I Allow It