Tag Archives: Family

how my dog

How My Dog Is Getting Me Through Anxiety and Grief

how my dog Let me just tell you how my dog is getting me through one of the most difficult times of my life. Just as my family was recovering from the past year of helping my Dad through a brain injury, getting him settled into his new home, doing all we could to make sure he and my Mom were safe, taken care of, and as happy as they could be, despite the circumstances…my 57 year old brother died from complications of alcoholism.

That’s when the walls came down and I couldn’t take anymore.

Written on July 31st…11 days after my brother’s death:

I’m not gonna lie. I am struggling. This past year has done me in. And just when I realized how much had been chipped away and had made kind of a plan to get those pieces back, my brother died.

Honestly, I just want to give up. I want to hide. I want to be alone. I want to avoid anything that is remotely hard.
But I can’t do that. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a teacher. I am a friend.

I CAN’T HIDE.

And I feel it in my gut, my chest, my neck, my shoulders. It literally hurts to know that I can’t hide. It hurts to know that I have to do things that are hard. Then I get mad.

So I lash out. I cry. I yell. I shut down. I ignore. I medicate. I sleep.

I look so forward to sleep. Thank God I can sleep. And right when I wake up, I am tricked into thinking that I can face this day. But the first hard thing, no matter how small, brings that pain right back.

My heart starts to beat way too fast and the tightness creeps in.

Damnit. Here we go again.

Funny how things happen. Back in the beginning of June, we got a dog. We thought we deserved a reward after housing my parents for eight months and certainly wanted to treat my six year old daughter to something fun. She had endured a great deal of hard adult stuff.

The dog, originally named Rowe, is a sweet, female, three year old yellow lab. She was a stray picked up in Savannah, GA by Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida and brought to Jacksonville, FL for a meet and greet at Petsmart. We had actually gone there to meet another chocolate lab named Libby. But Libby was younger, still puppy-like, and did not have any training. In the midst of all this doggie fun, as I was sitting on the floor, just observing, Rowe came and plopped herself in my lap and turned her belly up for a scratch. I got my husband’s attention, gave her some time with our daughter, and a week later, she was the newest member of our family.

I will admit, at first, I wondered what the heck I had done. Rowe attached herself to me. I became her person. She followed me around like a … well, a dog. I wondered, why, after just getting my parents out of my house did I just acquire another living, breathing, eating mammal who requires my attention, my time, my love, my energy?? What had I done?

Soon, I knew just what I had done and it was the best decision I could have made. The first thing we did was change her name from Rowe to Savannah. We didn’t love the name Rowe and I realized one day that it rhymes with ‘no’.  We were working hard on using her name along with commands and the idea of saying “Rowe, no” or  “No, Rowe” wasn’t going to work. So, I suggested Savannah, her old stomping grounds, and it stuck.

how my dog

The second thing we discovered was how freaking happy she is. When we wake up in the morning or come home from work, you would think we were celebrities! She greets us with such vim and vigor! She simply makes us smile and laugh, a lot.

And lastly, yes, she has made me her person. Sometimes, I complain that she is ALWAYS there. But to tell you the truth, after the anxiety of caring for my parents, and the grief of my brother’s death, I can tell you without a doubt that this dog chose me for a reason. A very sound reason. She came into our lives at exactly the right time and knew precisely what we needed: love, happiness, and laughter.

Thank you Savannah. You are an angel.

how my dog

One more thing I love about having a dog is being able to shop the pet aisle! We loved buying Savannah new toys, treats, beds, a crate, and all those fun things that come along with a fur family member. Check out Dog Product Picker for some great Christmas gift ideas for your dog. And thank you to Intellifluence and Dog Product Picker for the opportunity to write about our new family member.

behind the scenes

Behind the Scenes of My Depression and Anxiety

Luckily, I’m one of those people who has no problem giving others a behind the scenes look at my life with depression and anxiety. In fact, I get a kick out of revealing how it all started. There’s no doubt that I had it in my genes long before, but this one life-changing event triggered it. My grandmother, father, and all three of my brothers live/lived with it as well. We all handled it differently. Some with unconventional means and some with the proper channels of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Either way, we’ve all survived. Grandma lived a long, happy life and we have fond memories of her sense of humor, generosity, love, and yummy midnight snacks.

For me, it started in the fall of 1986. I was just starting my second year of college at age 19. Sure, I considered myself an adult, but I was soon to find out that I was still just a teenager with a strong connection to my parents. I was in the “cool” dorm bunking with two friends. Over the summer, I had started dating a Marine, in a long-distance relationship. (Bad idea.) I was ready for an amazing year.

My parents called with the bombshell.

They were moving from my childhood home in Virginia (90 miles from college) to Newport Beach, California (about 3000 miles). And here’s the kicker…they assumed I would just move with them. In hindsight, maybe I should have. But, no. I was a mature young adult. I was in college. I had friends. I was deciding on my major. I was having a great time. And, of course, I had a boyfriend. After many arguments, they let me stay. And they bought me a car.

And that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Almost immediately, the depression and anxiety set in. I found myself crying all the time and a lot of mornings, unable to get out of bed. And guess who I called. My parents. Rightfully so, they had one answer…move to California. I still wouldn’t do it. I was determined to ride this out on my own. So, I did that. With lots of drinking and partying. Somehow I managed to get to class and dance rehearsals. Don’t really know how. I’m sure my dance program was a good outlet for the way I was feeling.

And what the heck was I feeling? Sad? Angry? Abandoned? Caught off guard? Treated unfairly? To this day, I really don’t know that I can give a label to what I was feeling. It was a physical and emotional attack that came without warning. I believe it was living inside me and had a damn good reason to surface.

The story continues with moves, transfers, break-ups, tons of phone calls, a couple visits to California, psychiatrists, moving in with my sister, more drinking, more partying, more bad relationships, a failed marriage, etc, etc, etc, until the day I had a full-blown panic attack and finally, finally, took this thing seriously and started to turn my life around.

That was in 2001. Fourteen years. I suffered. Just because I was stubborn.

The one saving grace that surely helped me through all of this was the communication with my parents. Yes, we disagreed. Yes, I made decisions that made them cringe. Yes, they wanted grab me up and take me under their care. But they let me find my own way without judgment and with an open line of communication.


An article from Palmer Lake Recovery, Parents Guide: How To Help Your Teen Cope With Mental Health Issues, is an excellent resource. It discusses statistics, warning signs, causes, how to help, and useful resources.

Some ideas from the article that my parents handled well:

“A good starting point for you as a parent is to have a conversation with your teen in a constructive way that is non-confrontational and is focused on offering them the love and support that they may well need more than ever.”

“Your teen needs the sort of parental support that lets them know they are not facing their struggles alone and that you are there to support them through this difficult time. It is equally important that parents also have a support network they can call upon.”

behind the scenes

 

 

Three Precious Children’s Music Collections for Your Family

As a mother and music lover, I am happy to share three precious children’s music collections and all the background news that comes from Sugar Mountain PR. These are now all part of our collection whether we want to relax before bed or have a dance party.

three three

From Sugar Mountain PR:

Berkeley, CA, March 27, 2018 Sara Lovell, an award-winning songwriter and producer known for “imaginative lyrics, sparkling harmonies, intriguing musical layers” and “a voice rich in both purity and nuanced detail,” will release her second all-ages music album Wild Is Everywhere, on April 20(Unbreakable Chord Music/ distributed by Burnside Distribution).

Sara and special guests will celebrate the album release with a concert at East Bay Community Space in Oakland on April 28.

With a wide range of topics and musical styles, these 14 original songs journey through a landscape populated with flying children, misplaced animals of a certain size, and insects or flowers that turn up in the most unexpected places.

From the Sgt. Pepper’s inspired first track, “Get Up,” where listeners are invited to “grab onto the tail of someone’s kite,” the excitement and mystery builds and expands song by song. Wordplay and a vivid fantasy life are apparent with the funky “Rhinoceros under the Bed” and “Raspberry Pickleberry Wormnut Pie.” Blues, disco and funk inflect “Bounce,” “Stand Together” and “Where You Hiding All Day Long?” Every child will recognize the unfairness when “All the Grownups Get To Stay Up Late” and the impatience of “I Want It Now,” showing that Lovell understands the big feelings that live in all of us.

At a time when it can be a challenge to find good news, Lovell reminds us in the songs of Wild Is Everywhere, that joy and imagination are no small offerings. “When we allow curiosity to take hold, it widens our perceptions letting us envision the world we want to see.” As she says in the playfully creepy song, “The Dark Side of My Room,” it’s important to acknowledge: “Oh, I know, I can be a hero in my dreams / Oh, I know, I will see the light in every scene.”


three

From Sugar Mountain PR:

La Luna by 123 Andrés ~ Latin GRAMMY winner Andrés and his wife Christina spend most of their time in the United States, but Andrés’ ties to South America carry them across the continent. La luna was produced in Argentina and Mexico, and the list of top-tier guests hail from several countries. The special surprise that closes the album is an appearance by Little Miss Ann (a noted Chicago based kindie artist) with a tender song in English and Spanish called “Fly, Shine, Soar. Due out on April 13th.


three three

From Sugar Mountain PR:

GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin released her Amazon Originals album, The Starlighter, an album of songs adapted from the children’s music book “Lullabies and Night Songs.” The Starlighter is available exclusively for purchase and stream on Amazon Music.

Two other music videos – of the title track, The Starlighter,” and “Minnie and Winnie” – have been released so far. These videos are based on Victorian paper theatres and the illustration style of children’s books from the same era, and were created by the Manchester, UK/Los Angeles-based motion design studio We Fail. Each scene contains over one hundred layered illustrations, and every element in the video was drawn using a digital tablet before being animated by hand.

Thank you to Sugar Mountain PR for our complimentary CD’s in exchange for sharing the news about this music!

package

Package from Santa Made my Daughter’s Day!

You would have thought Santa was in the room when Emma opened her Package from Santa. She was beside herself! She couldn’t believe the things that Santa knew about her and mentioned in the personal letter. She was once again so pleased with being on the Nice List and getting a certificate for it. She found that out for the first time in our personalized video. The poster with baby Rudolph is absolutely adorable! He was so tiny he fit in Santa’s hand.

This video says it all…

Order this holiday must-have for your child at Package from Santa and save 25% OFF your order when you use FAMS17 at checkout.

package package package package package

From their website:

The experience and memories of a good Santa Letter can last a lifetime, for both the children and the parents.

Now there is a foolproof package that Santa Claus himself has put together. It’s a very special package containing the personalized Santa letter that is sent to only the very best boys and girls. It’s a treasure chest of authentic, custom Santa Claus goodies, sent right to your child!

The package of proof is waiting with YOUR CHILD’S NAME ON IT! Each package contains the genuine personalized letter from Santa. Order Now!

package

Package From Santa Starts a New Tradition for Your Family

Package From Santa Starts a New Tradition for Your Family

package Start a new and memorable tradition this Christmas with PackageFromSanta.com, the ONLY Santa memory service that does it ALL! Personalized LETTERS, PACKAGES, CALLS and VIDEOS from SANTA!

Do you want to see your children’s face light up in amazement when they get a personalized letter from Santa Claus? Of course you do! This not just a letter from Santa. It’s an amazing experience – it’s joy, memories, wonder and happiness in a box! You can choose a specific letter theme and then customize it yourself to include details that only Santa would know!

package

Every package also comes with a FREE personalized CALL and VIDEO FROM SANTA that can be scheduled any time. This techy part of the PackageFromSanta.com was unreal! So surprisingly well done and high-end and my kids LOVED it!

It’s such a joy to see my children continue to BELIEVE and PackageFromSanta.com really helped make the magic happen in my household this year! So grateful!

PFS has an A+ Rating with the BBB due to their unmatched high-touch customer service so you can be confident that you are making a wise purchase. They have real people on the phone ready to help answer questions. That’s unheard of these days! Such a nice touch.

package

The Silver Package ($24.95) comes in a red box & includes:

Personalized Letter from Santa
BONUS! Personalized Video from Santa (retail $9.99)
BONUS! Personalized Phone Call from Santa to a cell phone OR land line! (retail $9.99)
Personalized Nice List Certificate
Autographed Santa Claus Photo
Autographed Rudolph Photo
Genuine North Pole Stamp
…and so much more!

It also comes with a 60-Day Money-Back Guarantee. Wow! They are THAT confident your child will LOVE it!

There are 3 different packages offered, so you can choose a price point that works with your budget. I will be reviewing the Silver package ($29.95).

Click here to see a video to learn more about this very special Santa memory service that will be part of my family for years to come

Order this holiday must-have for your child here and save 25% OFF your order when you use FAMS17 at checkout.

 

package