Cancer, Yoga, and Becoming a Parent

I wrote this guest post on a friend’s blog in 2014 when I was pregnant with my first kiddo. It serves as a good reminder about how mindfulness and physical activity remain crucial elements of my mental health and self-care regimen.

NaBloPoMo Day 24

Crazy Good Parent


I started practicing yoga soon after I had surgery to treat ovarian cancer. The surgery was my only treatment, as my kind of cancer wouldn’t respond to chemo or radiation. The cancer had fully engulfed my left ovary, which they removed, and my right ovary remained, although my surgeon said they scraped cancerous growths off its surface.

“We can’t promise anything,” was the answer I got when I asked about my fertility status. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom, in this passive way of knowing – I didn’t have to think about it, I just knew. Well, nothing made me realize just how badly I wanted to be a mom until there was a distinct possibility that I couldn’t.

That was 11 years ago; I was 20 years old.

Now, at age 31, I am happily pregnant with my first child, and I am counting…

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Contributions and Gratitude

I’m reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B, and in it she talks about how recognizing your contributions to the world helps to build confidence and a sense of agency. She urges people to recognize this in addition to things we are grateful for. Yes, gratitude is important for cultivating happiness and joy, but she argues (and claims the research shows) that because gratitude is passive, it only goes so far. Meaning, gratitude practices acknowledge things you receive, while recognizing and celebrating one’s contributions to the world is more active – it’s something I’ve done to make the world a better place.

And so, I thought I’d give it a try. Here are a few contributions of which I am most proud.

  • Everyday, I am raising my children to be kind, compassionate people. I try to show them with my words and also lead by example.
  • I try to do small kind things for people around me, both friends and strangers.
  • I blog. I put my feelings out there into the world, in hopes that maybe someone will read them and feel less alone.
  • In my previous life (and I will again in my next life) I devoted my career to creating a safe space where clients could come to vent, heal, and be heard. I served as a crucial witness and container for suffering.
  • I keep my household running pretty damn well.
  • In spite of it all, I actually manage to take care of myself, too.

As another year comes to a close, I am also extremely thankful for the following:

  • My health, my husband’s health, my kids’ health.
  • We have enough. Of everything. Food, housing, transportation, money, clothes. In a world that is hell-bent on telling us we need more, more, more – and the flip side of that is that we never have enough – I want to remind myself that we DO, in fact, have enough.
  • Choice. I am privileged, and I have choices in my life. Living under a presidential administration that is working to take choices of all kinds away from citizens makes me realize just how precious and important it is.
  • Freedom of speech. We still have the right to say what we want and fight injustice in this world, and for that I am thankful and do not plan to take it for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope your day is filled with contentment, joy, and stuffing.

Welcome to 5am

This moment-turned-short-story was a flash forward for me. My pre-mama self got just a little taste of wee-hours-of-the-morning one-handed trying-to care-for-everyone-at-once. Just a taste.
NaBloPoMo Day 22


I was up again.

My right hip was on fire, so I slowly rolled over onto my left side, trying not to use my sore, cranky, stretched abdominal muscles.

I stretched my legs out, my feet searching for cooler pockets in the sheets.

Tap, tap.

Aw, crap.  I woke you.

I rubbed my belly just under and to the right of my belly button.

Hey, Little Duck.  I love you.  Now go back to sleep.

I glanced at the clock.  About 5am.  I had already been up twice to pee, and Brian gets up for work in an hour.

Tap, tap.

I probably dozed for a bit before realizing that my bladder was too full to permit sleep.  To the bathroom I shuffled, after slowly tipping myself out of bed with my arms.  I kicked the cat out of the way.  Twice.

I came back, laid back down on my…

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Here is a post that took courage for me to write and post almost four years ago. I still think about it when going through bouts of depression from time to time.
(Please excuse the first attempt to reblog this today; my phone was not cooperating with me.)
NaBloPoMo Day 21


I wrote the following post several weeks ago, shortly after moving to the Portland area.  I hesitated in posting it, mainly because of the reaction I was afraid it might get.  But after reading Charlotte’s brave post on her blog Momaste about her own depression, I figured I should go ahead and post, too, regardless of what others thought.


It’s time to get up, Melissa.


You need to get up now.

Not yet.  I don’t think I can.

Take off the covers, swing your legs over the side of the bed and sit up.


Now take some deep breaths.  One thing at a time.

I am doing my best to listen to the voice inside my head.  The good voice.  That voice who can see the other side.  That therapist voice who always knows that things are going to be ok, even when I seriously doubt it.

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Tolerating Sadness

I think about this older post of mine quite often, and I’d like to share it again. I hope you enjoy it.
NaBloPoMo Day 20


In my experience, sadness is not tolerated well or at all.  It is not given much room, and it is not given nearly enough time.  It is shamed.  It is seen as weak.  It is hidden and dealt with privately, or not at all.  Often times, it’s covered up and comes out disguised as another feeling altogether.

Has anyone ever told you to: Cheer up!  Look on the bright side!  Everything will be ok.  Don’t cry.  You need to move on.  Get over it.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel sad and someone tells me something like what I listed above, it makes me feel even worse.  It makes me feel like there is no room for my sadness.  My feelings are not ok.  Not only that, but that you (the person invalidating my feelings) cannot tolerate my sadness for some reason.  A person’s reaction to another’s…

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Go Bears!

Even though we lost today, it was really great to be able to watch The Big Game from the bay again.

For those who don’t know, I went to Cal for undergrad, and The Big Game is when we play our rival across the bay, Stanfurd. (Football.) Whoever wins gets to have the axe, which is an actual axe that’s been made into a framed trophy of sorts. It has a whole history behind it whose details are fuzzy to me now. At any rate, towards the end of each Big Game, select members of Cal’s Rally Committee (yes those are a thing) gather and face off with members from the ‘Furd to exchange the axe should the noncustodial school win. In my day, I was part of Rally Comm, although I was never one of those select members I mentioned above.

Ah, memories. College was tough, but it was extremely fun. I joked to my parents tonight that watching college football now just makes me feel old and unaccomplished.

Lest I continue rambling…



NaBloPoMo Day 18

Fill Your Bucket

This post I originally wrote on November 19, 2012 – almost exactly 5 years ago. While my life looks a whole lot different now, I still make sure that I fill my bucket. In fact, now that I have kids, it’s even more important than ever.

NaBloPoMo Day 17


The other day, one of my clients started to ask me a personal question in the domestic violence support group I run.  I could feel it coming.

“Hey Melissa, I don’t mean to pry into your business, but I was just curious…”

My blood pressure started to rise.  I could feel my armpits start producing more sweat than usual, which meant that I’d soon soak through my shirt and be stuck to my cheap office chair until lunch.  My face started to get hot, and I knew, I just knew, that my face was starting to turn red.  I hate that.

So which question was it going to be?  Was I married?  Did I have kids?  How long had I been doing this work?  Do I know what it’s like to be a victim of violence?  Did I have to use a prescription strength deodorant?

“…how is it that…

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Snacks on a Plane



We’re going home to California for the week of Thanksgiving and I’m all excited to BE there, but I am not at all excited to GET there.

Here’s how it’s gonna play out. I pack and worry and scream to try and make everyone be on time. Then I’ll worry some more about what we forgot and being on time. Dylan will break down in the security line and go to his dark place where he goes limp on the floor. Audrey will thrash so hard in the Ergo that she’ll ram her head on my sternum and make several bruises. And that’s all before we get on the plane.

On the plane there will be more thrashing and seat kicking and trying to reach buttons and wanting to crawl down the aisle. And the kids will act up too. (See what I did there? I’ll be here all week.)

Once we touch down in the land of milk and honey, we’ll be greeted by loving, rested grandparents ready to whisk our children away for stimulating play and healthy snacks while Brian and I fall asleep pass out for 5 days. Then we’ll wake up and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and go comatose for another 3.

Too soon it will be time to get on another plane and head back to Waterworld Oregon, where hopefully our cat hasn’t resentfully pooped on our pillows and vomited in our shoes. All the dirty laundry will steep in a small, smelly mountain in the hallway where I hope it will get so rank it’ll one day grow legs and walk itself into the washing machine.

I’ve decided that I’d actually like to enjoy our trip, so I plan to re-blog some of my favorite old posts while I’m gone, especially since I have some new readers and I’d like to share some pieces of which I’m rather proud.

Stay tuned, dear Psychos.

NaBloPoMo Day 16

My mood swings have mood swings

I got nothin today, folks. Not a real post, at least. (I often start out a post saying this, and then end up writing a post. This is now a post.)

Sometimes (most of the time) I feel like my husband and I are just scrambling to try and keep this household and our family running somewhat smoothly. We are stretched, our energy is so limited, and if something goes wrong – speaking for myself – I get overwhelmed very, very quickly. Today was one of those days where shit went wrong, but, miraculously, quality good times were also had. No wonder I feel like I have mood swings. My mood swings have mood swings.

The lows:

  • The weather suuuuucked today. Non-stop rain made me want to stay in bed.
  • Our furnace broke today, so our house is effing cold. I can’t stand being cold.
  • I want to strangle my cat, or at least forcibly remove her vocal chords. She wakes me up, wakes our kids up, and anyone who disturbs my sleep who is not one of my kids is DEAD TO ME.

The highs:

  • Met a friend for breakfast and found THREE friends waiting for me at breakfast. It was a very lovely time out.
  • Snotty wet kisses from mah babes.
  • The boyman coming home from work in the middle of the day to troubleshoot the furnace issue.
  • Laughed til I peed borrowed diet coke about bible references and street names for drugs. (You had to be there.) We got matching shirts, we’re gonna study, and we’ll be back next time to kick ass and take names, PDX Trivia! Should my callsign be Turnip or Scalene?

Tomorrow is a new day, with its own highs and lows.

NaBloPoMo Day 15