Thursday, September 8, 2016

I guess I fell asleep at some point because I woke up alone in my bed. It was not the first time nor would it be the last.
I got ready for work. The plan was to push everything out of my head and get through the day.
I got the my son up and ready. We were in the kitchen when my wasband came in. I told my wasband that we needed to talk. He told me there was nothing to talk about. I can not remember what he said next….but it was something that raised the eyebrow of my son. My son turned and, for the first time I had ever seen, stood up to his father.
“Leave Mom alone! What the heck is wrong with you? Why can’t you be nice to her?”
“Son….remember who you are speaking to and watch your mouth….” and my wasband left the kitchen.
My son and I went to school without saying another word.
I did the best I could to get through the day but late in the afternoon, while teaching my class, I felt sick….like never before. I have panic attacks and anxiety. I have been in treatment for these issues as these episodes have had very dire consequences. I know what to expect. I have ‘coping skills’ and  meds to help. But this was different…..
I sent a student to get my partner teacher. My partner teacher and I had worked together for 15 years at that point. We KNEW each other. I remember I must have looked bad because the look on her face was one I had never seen before. She sent me into the hall as I tried to get my breath. She walked my students out of the room to their fine arts class and then ….
I melted down. I could not breathe. It was the panic attack to end all panic attacks. I was breathing into a paper bag and she was trying desperately to calm me down. She went to call 911 and I begged her not to……I finally regained control …..over an hour later.
She covered for me the whole time. Not only did I feel like a weak woman but I felt like a failure as a teacher. I needed to get it together.
I pulled myself together as much as possible and got through the reminder of the day. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to go home that day or any day after that….but home was where my kids were and I knew I had to take care them. So I went home……
Here’s to soaring again….


2021 Pay-It-Forward:
The first five people to connect with me will receive from me, sometime within the calendar year, a handwritten note, perhaps with a gift attached. There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me.
Let’s all pay it forward this year!
Pay it forward!!
Let’s connect!! Peace, #tutulady #forwardisapace


I have always been a morning person. Early bird catches the worm and all. I was never one to sleep the day away like my kids often do now. I do my best work in the morning and love to see the sunrise.
This time of year, my anxiety gets the better of my and I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia is my constant companion. I worry about so many things at the holidays, making lists in my head, replaying conversations, and catastrophizing all that can happen. It is always an issue but this time of year it gets worse.
I have worked long and hard to calm my anxious thoughts and behaviors, but sleep is one of the most difficult. For years I would lie awake waiting for my wasband to arrive home. He worked nights and often went out drinking after work. I never knew what his mood would be when he arrived home and often slept on the edge of the bed afraid to even breathe. Mornings I would tiptoe out of the room as not to wake him and incur his wrath. I would keep the kids as quiet as I could for the same reason. It was a difficult dance for all of us.
For years after I left, I still had trouble sleeping and would get out of bed feeling like I had been in a fist fight. Every muscle ached…especially my hands.
One evening, my therapist mentioned that I looked more tired than usual and asked me to talk about it. As I spoke, she watched me then she asked me to lie on the floor and show her my sleep position. I did as she asked, hopeful she could provide insight into my insomnia.
She asked me to talk about each part of my body and how I felt. What I realized was that every single part of me body was tense, my whole body was in a tight ball, my shoulders were by my ears, and my hands were in fists.
She told me that I was a resting fighter, always vigilant. That I was ready to defend myself in while I was resting. I was not, in fact, really ever sleeping. My body and brain would not allow me to let me let my guard down. Trauma is stored in the body and appears in many different forms unless it is healed.
It has taken intentional practice to release that trauma and vigilance, letting others into my life. The boundaries are firm, walls are high, guarded fiercely to protect myself and those I love. I am keenly aware of my body and its cues when it comes to sleep and other trauma responses. During the holidays, insomnia wants to not just visit but stay. So when the insomnia rears its head I can say hello and send it packing again, not allowing it to overstay its welcome.
Trauma takes many forms. With the help of others, we can identify as well as address the issues in order to find hope and healing. This is an ongoing process as healing is not linear. We are all in the process of becoming stronger humans. With some help, and some sleep, we can all find peace.


Over the past months, the stress of life, work and a pandemic have been growing. I have felt a bit off balance for a while. I have been building a fragile house of cards that finally collapsed this week. It was all too much and when that last little card was placed on top…..I fell apart. It was too much for me to handle.
Falling apart is nothing new to me. I have fallen apart and rebuilt myself so many times I could add General Contractor to my resume! Thus I have surrounded myself with a great team! People that act as designers, builders, electricians, support beams, windows, foundations….everything needed to rebuild the house that is me stronger and more beautiful than it was before. It is in the rebuilding that I repair was was broken and replace what was not working well to begin with. It is also a time to add new and better additions to the structure.
So I allowed myself to fall completely apart….I mean all the way to the core. It was not pretty but it was necessary. I needed to be able to start fresh.
Every message of weakness, fear and vulnerability I voiced was met with validation. What came back to me were voices of strength and hope, words and messages I had said to others in the past. The affirmation of those voices began to rebuild the walls of my house stronger than it was in the past. I was going to be better than ok. I was going to be amazing!
This week was a stark reminder of that balance. What you put out into the world and how it all eventually comes back to you. You may not see it right away when you make connections with people, but those connections come back to support you in spades when you need them most.
We all feel off balance from time to time. We all fall apart from time to time. Once we allow ourselves the grace to fall down and fall apart, we can begin to rebuild better than before. Have you been feeling off balance? Have you fallen apart? Do you need help rebuilding? If so, let me know! I am an expert builder!


Money. The cost of things. budgets. Math. Numbers. Money. Money. Money. Cost. Cost. Cost.
Money has always been my kryptonite. Money causes me more anxiety than anything else in my life. Money has been used as a means of control and ‘forced’ love for as long as I can remember. The cost of things in my life has always been high.
I learned as a young kid that nothing was free. Even gifts came with strings attached. As I grew older, I thought I outgrew it as I became more independent…. I was wrong. The connection between love and money just became more entangled and more complex.
Throughout my marriage, my insecurity with money was exploited until it was no longer an insecurity, it was a disability.
I was told over and over that I was “bad with numbers” “horrible with budgets” “didn’t know basic math” “bad with money” until I believed it to my core. For over 20 years, I turned over my paycheck every month to my family and lived on $100 a week to feed my kids and me. When the utilities were disconnected, time and time again, I was told (and I believed) that it was because I was spending all the money and we were, in fact, broke. This was not the truth.
When I had my first meeting with a divorce attorney, I explained my financial situation. The look he gave me is seared into my memory. Then he said….”You work full time. You have money that is yours. You are not broke. You are in a financially abusive marriage.” I will never forget that moment. It was then I realized that my marriage was costing me more than money. It was costing me my sanity.
The days, months and years that followed that moment have cost me so much more than money. DO NOT get me wrong….Divorce is NOT cheap nor easy. However, it is WORTH IT! The additional, ancillary costs are what people do not count on nor realize until later.
My divorce has cost me dearly over the years. It has cost me my children. My children have been hurt deeply by the divorce and me….because I could not be the mom they needed or deserved for a while. It has cost me friendships and relationships. Friendships and relationships that I realized were not built to withstand something as devastating as divorce. It has cost me jobs. Jobs that I realized were not meant for a lifetime but meant as a stepping stone to something better. It has cost me my sanity and patience at times. My sanity and patience have been tested over and over during this process leading me to be more self aware, self confident and tolerant of myself and others.
While the past few years have cost me a great deal, they have also given me so much. I have gained so many things in this process. I have gained new, and stronger, friendships that I know can withstand any storm. I have gained newfound confidence in myself and my abilities. I have gained new, more adult, relationships with my kids. I have gained the realization that I always knew math, I just needed a deeper understanding of finances and financial literacy…something that no one ever teaches you. I have gained the knowledge that independence is priceless and it is something I will never again give away freely.
My new life cost me so much. It cost me my old life with interest. However, each day I am thankful I made that investment. I made an investment in me because I realized I was worth considerably more and deserved far better than how I was being treated and where I was…in a miserable, abusive marriage. The benefits from that investment far outweigh the costs. Each day that investment pays off in spades!
How much do you value of your life? What investment are you willing to make? What are you waiting for? Invest in yourself….it is an investment that ALWAYS pays off! You are WORTH IT!