One of the novels my students can choose from during their course work is a piece titled Enrique’s Journey. It’s about a young man whose mother leaves him when he’s just a toddler. She doesn’t say goodbye because she cannot bear the guilt, and she makes a difficult trip through Honduras and Mexico to the U.S. hoping for better opportunities to send money back to her children so they can eat. As a teenager, Enrique decides to go after her. He faces multiple failed attempts, robberies, beatings, traveling in cramped trucks or on the tops of freight trains. Every time I speak to a student about this novel, he or she expresses either shock at the knowledge immigrants faced these obstacles and still face them in 2018, or shares a relatable story about a family member.

I am not proud to be an American. I don’t know if I ever have been. Am I proud of people like my Bop, who fought in World War II to keep us safe? Of course. Am I thankful for the rights I possess? Yes, but they all come with a price. When I learned the truth about Christopher Columbus years after my elementary school taught me to memorize songs of his heroism, I realized that the United States holds a consistent history of treating human beings as disposable.

Right now, according to The New York Times, the richest 1% of our country owns more wealth than the bottom 90%, and the bottom 90% hold 73% of the nation’s debt. Yet we pretend that a Mexican family living in poverty and working field jobs that no white people apply for and a single mother on food stamps are the causes for economic disparity in this country. Because it feels better to blame a scapegoat than to admit we’ve created this problem ourselves.

The current zero tolerance policy regarding immigration (and the policy instituted to separate families which took effect on 4/6/18–look it up) and this administration’s focus on trivial petty issues like the significance of the national anthem and the presence of “In God We Trust” plastered on office walls in public schools (teachers don’t have supplies and students come to school hungry but officials can ensure that these posters are printed and disseminate-I’ll save that for another discussion) reveal our priorities and our shortcomings and our willingness to distract from the ripping away of basic human rights. (I don’t even care if that was a run-on sentence. Deal with it.)

Our current leader idolizes dictators and how their citizens respond without question, standing upright, at attention. Sir, yes, sir. Blind acceptance and allegiance. Out of fear.

It breaks my heart to read the experiences that photojournalists and nurses are reporting in the detention centers where we as a nation are placing children and separating them from their parents. I cannot fathom spending my life’s savings and traveling for weeks to find hostility and discrimination and abuse. I cannot imagine my child being ripped from my arms and taken to some fabricated “tender age center” full of children ages 2-5 who do not speak the language and maybe don’t speak any language at all. Who will come for them? Who will comfort them? How will the people manning those centers treat them? Since this is a new practice, we are learning as we go, and is that what we do in America? We learn as we go and play with the lives of innocent children?

It hurts me. But it doesn’t surprise me.

I wish I had more money, influence, or power to affect change. Regarding other issues, I’ve contacted local, state, and federal representatives who are supposed to be working on behalf of the people, but at this point, my husband sit and look at each other with the same sentiment: “What do we even do anymore?” They don’t care and they don’t listen. The electoral college made a decision that solidified the direction of this country deeper down a hole of oppression and marginalization.


I took this on November 8, 2016, the last day I held hope for America. The next day, I threw away that shirt.

While I’m grateful that my family is currently safe and I possess the freedom of speech to even speak out about my concerns and fears and disappointments, it may not always be this way. First they came for the native Americans, right? Then for the African Americans? Then for the Latino immigrants? Then for the Arabs? My race, income, and even sexuality afford me privilege in this country, but what about when it doesn’t? How could I combat someone taking my child away from me if nobody else speaks up? 

This is America.

Our administration and those supporting him tout themselves as pro-life. Let’s see the fruits of the labor of the pro-life:

Unarmed black boys being shot.

Elementary and High school students gunned down in hallways and classrooms. Immigrant children ripped from their parents.

Quite the opposite. What are we? I call it Anti-Life. Anti quality of life. Anti human rights.

Our administration has the audacity to insult progressive leaders of countries like Canada, where citizens have universal health care and where mothers receive paid maternity leave to support their physical and mental health as well as that of the child.

We can’t even dream about living on that level, but we are supposed to stick our heads in the sand, sing the national anthem that only guarantees you freedom if you’re the right race and the right ethnicity and the right gender and the right socioeconomic status and the right sexuality. And we’re supposed to hope that they don’t come for us.

These are the messages my America raised me on:

Boys: don’t cry. Man up. Get money and bitches.
Girls: Get married, have the babies, clean the house, satisfy your man, get back to work 30 days after having a baby and don’t bitch about it.
Mentally ill: It’s all in your head. Suicide is selfish. Get over it.
Autistics: Sorry your parents got you vaccinated. We don’t have resources for you right now.
Blacks: If you would just do what the cops tell you, then this wouldn’t happen.
LGBTQ: Your presence offends us and makes us uncomfortable so just stay in the closet.
Muslims: We fear you.
Latinos and Asians: Speak English.
Native Americans: Why are we even talking about you? Stay on your reservations with your polluted water where you belong.
Poor: It’s your fault. Work harder.
Rapists and sexual offenders: Well, at least you didn’t sell weed. You can be on probation. Just try not to do it again.
Drug addicts: You did it to yourself.
Victims of rape: But did you say “no” though?
Teenagers: You can’t even vote and you know nothing. Why should we even listen to you? Go pass your Algebra EOC and learn how to barricade yourself in a classroom behind a bookcase.
Rich: You’re doing everything right. You are everything we aspire to be.

This is America. These are the messages our current administration perpetuates. And if you support it, you are complicit.


An Unpaid Actress

I sit alone in my car a lot. In the parking lot at my office, in the visitor spaces at various schools throughout the district, in my driveway and garage, outside the gym both before and after a workout. If I get to work on time, sometimes I still don’t get to work on time because I just sit in my car by myself for a few extra minutes before forcing myself to start the day. Not finishing a song on the radio. Not trolling social media. Not ending a phone call with a friend or family member. Just basking in silence.

I read an article on The Mighty today about living with anxiety, and one line screamed off the computer screen at me: “I’m not faking being sick. I’ve been faking being well.” Damn. Blow my face off with truth. I can relate to that. Because I often feel sick even though I don’t look it. And more often than that, I’m perfecting my acting skills to function in every day life.

Let me tell you a secret. One that might shock you unless you know me really, really well, and even then, you might try to argue to the contrary. Here it is…

I’m an introvert.

Extrovert introvert

Yes, I possess strong opinions. Yes, I can be overly talkative. Yes, I spent eight years standing in front of classrooms teaching students. Yes, I conduct meetings with parents and professionals regularly. And yes, I am introverted. Completely and truly. And this fact, combined with diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, cause me to either pretend or retreat. There’s not much in between.

I never played a sport. That’s actually an understatement. I quit every extracurricular activity that required group participation…ballet and tap dancing, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball… I’m not a joiner. I don’t want pressure or attention. I’m a 30-year-old woman having an anxiety attack because her online graduate course requires one group assignment. But seriously why? Group work is the worst.

I digress…

I hate parties. Hate planning them. Hate hosting them. Hate attending them. Love buying gifts. Love seeing my family and friends. But hate the parties. Hate the lead-up to the parties. The drive there. Did I forget something? How long will this be? Will I see anyone I don’t know/don’t like/who doesn’t like me? Loud music and multiple conversations happening at once and brightly colored decorations and agendas and fireworks and seating arrangements and omg don’t even get me started on games.

I don’t go to concerts or festivals and honestly, I plan every visit to Disney down to the minute so I have fast passes for rides and reservations for dining and I don’t have to stand around because crowds of strangers. So many strangers.

When I’m anxious, I often don’t know where to start. I make to do lists, but can’t prioritize. I wander the bakery of the grocery store and can’t make a choice on what to get. Sometimes, I leave with nothing. I clean my house vigorously in an attempt to get my life under control. My chest hurts. I cry. I feel out of breath. I think about the ugliest worst case scenarios for myself and for those I love and freaking Syrian refugees I’ll never meet and mothers who lived through the Holocaust and that student I had a few years ago who didn’t have running water in his house.

When I’m depressed all I want to do is sleep. Or eat. Or both. I can’t bring myself to tackle my to do list because what does it matter? It seems there’s no point to anything in life. I spiral quickly. Remind myself there’s so much negativity and hurt and pain in the world and I can never fix it.

It is beyond challenging to wake up every day and go to war against your own mind. But that’s mental illness. It’s irrationality and exhaustion and side effects of medication and isolation. It’s seeing the good days as warning signs that very bad days are ahead because you never have too many good days in a row.

Here’s another secret: if you think I’m outspoken, you would be truly aghast at the amount of thoughts I keep to myself. Really. I bite my tongue multiple times daily. I filter myself to spare others’ feelings, to maintain professionalism, and other typical reasons we “think before we speak.” But again, it goes deeper. Some of the things that flash through my mind when I’m at my most anxious or depressed are so horrid that I don’t dare utter them for fear I’ll bring them to life. For fear that others will want to commit me to some sort of institution. So I hold them in. All these detrimental, ugly thoughts. They swirl inside. Among rational, wife-, mother-, work-related “normal” thoughts. They interrupt. They confuse. They feed off each other.

This is life. Introverted. Battling anxiety and depression.

This is sickness that you can’t take a sick day for.

This is real even though so many people shake their heads and say it isn’t and cry drama.

If I was diabetic, I wouldn’t ask you to take insulin with me, but I might ask you to understand if I needed to pause a meeting to check my blood sugar or eat a snack.

Validate me. Validate us.

Because it would feel really good to spend a day as the real me, instead of living as an unpaid actress.

I Promise: You Won’t Ever Be Lonely

It happened again today, as it does every so often. I held the dog’s
leash in one hand and pulled my son’s wagon with the other, strolling
up and down the streets of our neighborhood in the beautiful
spring-like weather. We do this a lot together.

Will and Puppy

A lizard crossed my path, the dog chased it, and I immediately felt a flashback coming on: there I was, 20 years ago, on my grandmother’s lawn, trying desperately to catch lizards alongside my brother. We had just moved to Florida.

I looked at my son and smiled at the thought that some day soon, he would chase lizards, too. Then I frowned when I couldn’t shake a quick thought that crossed my mind: he’ll do it alone.

Throughout the almost three-year journey of motherhood, I’ve cultivated and lost friendships over parenting differences and judgments. I’ve battled breast feeding or bottle feeding, homemade or jarred baby food, stay at home or work at home or work outside the home with a daycare/nanny/preschool. But I think the time people feel the most entitled to comment on my life is when I tell them that my son may be my one and only. I wrote a post discussing my feelings on having an “only child” which reiterated that it is my and my husband’s decision alone, but today, the topic struck me more deeply.

Because after I frowned, I thought. I closed my eyes and thought deeply about the future. And when I opened my eyes, peace overwhelmed me because I came to a conclusion, something I know without a shadow of a doubt: my son will not chase and catch lizards alone. I will be with him.

Life may not always go your way
And every once in a while you might have a bad day
But I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

Maybe instead of having a younger brother in his memories, as he grows he’ll look back on school days when I picked him up and took him on a special frozen yogurt date to reward his good grades. He’ll envision me crawling on my knees and hiding in closets during hide and seek. He’ll picture his daddy pitching him a baseball, his mommy standing next to his bike as he tries to pedal alone, his partners in crime helping him kill the bad guys with toy swords or squirt guns.

The sky turns dark and everything goes wrong
Run to me and I’ll leave the light on
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

He’ll remember the books we read and the stories we made up just for fun. He’ll think about the birthday parties we planned together and the friends he invited to play. He’ll see the years he spent in the yard climbing on and chasing his favorite dog, and the times as a toddler when he wanted to be a big boy and hold the leash. He’ll remember his toes in the sand, the shells he captured, the squint of his eyes, and jumping in the water holding my hand and my husband’s hand–The Three Musketeers.

For as long as I live 
There will always be a place you belong
Here beside me
Heart and soul baby — you only 
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

He’ll think about how monotonous it must have been for me to sit at a table and decorate and address Valentine’s day crafts for his classes–and I’ll tell him, or maybe I won’t, that those quiet moments were the most precious to me. He’ll remember tea parties with mommy and his stuffed animals. He’ll think about his classes and games at Gymboree and his daddy juggling just to make him laugh.

It’s still gonna snow and it’s still gonna rain
The wind’s gonna blow on a cold winter day
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

I hope he’ll look at home videos of holidays with his large Puerto Rican family, or see pictures of moments with my small family–KK wearing a stethoscope to play doctor, Gramps pushing him in the swing and letting him kick his chest, Uncle Teej trying to distract him from the show he’s watching by dropping socks on his head just because.

You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms
And I’ll never let go
Here’s a shoulder you can cry on
And a love you can rely on

Whether I ever decide that I am ready and willing to have another child–and that day may never come–my son will never ever be alone or lacking in the deepest kind of love. So thank you, small lizard, for showing me my past. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of an energetic brother to play alongside me. But thank you, William, my one and only, for showing me that true love abounds no matter how many family members there are, where they are, or what they do together. My heart is yours and I hope all of your flashbacks are filled with joy, peace, and play whether you are with me, Daddy, at school, with extended family, or anyone else who may or may never come along.

For as long as I live 
There will always be a place you belong
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

Some Things are Priceless.

I’m not the most organized person, but I certainly attempt to take care of valuable possessions and I consider myself a routine-oriented individual. Every night for five years—minus a few days that I wore a different ring to match other accessories—I have taken my wedding band and engagement ring off only to sleep. I put them in the same place every night—in a ring box on top of my dresser.

Yesterday morning when I got out of the shower, put lotion on my hands, and reached for my wedding rings—which I do every morning—they weren’t there. And panic set in.

I racked my brains. I had them on yesterday, I said to myself. I remember twirling them around my finger at work. Oh God, they are really loose since I lost weight. Did they fall off? Did I take them off at the gym? Did I throw them out? Where are they?

I looked all over my bedroom, but because I was late for work, I had to stop. I thought about it all day.

I’ve never been a materialistic person. I’ve never been into fashion, purses or shoes. I don’t like to spend money—I’d rather save it. And pretty much everything I have, save some pictures and mementos from relatives who have passed on before me, I wouldn’t mind losing. Most of my possessions are exactly that: possessions. Even the wedding band I lost, which my husband placed on my finger in front of our family, friends and God on June 21, 2008, is not really sentimental to me because I picked it out.

But my engagement ring, people? I thought about it all day. It’s expensive. But that’s not really why I thought about it.

I closed my eyes and remembered St. Patrick’s Day 2007, when my then-boyfriend and I went to my favorite place, Magic Kingdom, together. Just us. It’s been a long time since we’ve been just us. I remembered the girl I was, with all my dreams in front of me, just within my grasp. I reminisced on all the days I spent picturing a fairy tale wedding and a life with my prince charming. I remembered sitting on the rides together, the cool air, the dinner we had with Disney characters around us, the holding hands and laughing. And then…

The proposal.

In front of hundreds of people. After the sun went down. Fireworks above us. My parents watching.

I would never get that back. The ring he picked out when he was just 21 years old. The ring he shopped for, with his dad beside him to give him advice. The ring he thought would look best on me. The ring he sized and carried in his pocket all day and then put on me before saying, “Will you be my wife?”

I would never get that back.

I tried not to cry. I tried to tell myself I would find it. I tried to tell myself that even if I didn’t, my husband wouldn’t be mad and it would be okay. In light of recent events in the lives of those I know and even those (like in DC) that I don’t know, I couldn’t justify allowing this to upset me. There is so much tragedy in the world. Losing a ring is not a tragedy.

But it still made me sad.

And it made me remember. Which made me sadder.

You see, if I’m being honest, our five years of marriage have not been the easiest years of my life. Our first two years, spent learning each other’s ways and getting acclimated to new careers and making our house into a home, I remember fondly. We adopted a dog, we went out to dinner and movies every weekend, we played games, we enjoyed each other. But then came pregnancy. Which was awful on me and awful on our relationship. Then came baby. Which took a lot of learning and sacrifice and time away from focusing on our relationship. In the last year, we’ve finally gone back to the beginning. The baby is (slightly) more self-sufficient—at least enough that my husband and I can converse over dinner and sleep through the night—and I’ve grown more accepting of the fact that he can survive if we leave him with a babysitter to spend time together.

We’re finally getting back to us.

And then I lose a precious token that reminds me of where we started, of what I meant to my husband, of the commitment we both made to each other.

And it really hurt.

So I did what anyone in my position would do. I tore my house apart. With my mom’s help, I removed sheets and turned over mattresses. I looked in drains. I examined bags and bags of garbage and gagged while doing it. I emptied each drawer of my dresser, moved couch cushions, used a flashlight, took my jewelry box apart and turned it upside down just in case something got stuck inside, I called my gym and then went there to comb every bathroom stall, changing room and exercise machine I walked by, I cleaned my car. My mom went through each and every toy bin that belongs to my son.

And I gave up.

And I cried.

I just couldn’t believe it. Unless my dog ate it or someone stole it, I had no other explanation. My rings were gone. Both of them. And I had to surmise that it was my fault. They wouldn’t fall off together without my noticing. So I had taken them off. I had given them up.

I posted a Facebook status praying to Saint Anthony. I messaged a friend of mine who has a strange gift for locating lost items. I told my mother-in-law, who prayed, “God, just put it in a familiar place for Shannon.”

Last night, before putting the baby in his bath, I walked back into my room. I stood at the dresser, trying so hard to remember the night before. I came home from the gym, played with the baby, took a shower, then gave the baby a bath. I remembered that when I killed a mosquito after the baby’s bath, I didn’t have my rings on because I looked at my fingers and they were all red from clapping the mosquito. When and where did I take them off?

I started taking everything off my dresser one more time. And as I looked down, there they were. Next to a necklace I lifted up multiple times that day. Next to the jewelry box I had already taken apart. Next to all of the items my mom specifically placed on my bed. On the dresser I dusted and wiped.

Sitting there, staring at me.

Like someone placed them there.

I went first with logic. My husband did it. He found them and then put them there for me. But he swears he didn’t. Then I thought my mom did it. And she said she would never put me through something like that.

Your guess is as good as mine. They were just there. And if I had a video camera in my room taping my crazy behavior over the last 24 hours, you could see that THEY. WERE. NOT. THERE. That I tore that dresser apart from the top down and the bottom up. That I took EVERYTHING off of it.

But there they were.

My students think there’s a ghost in my house. And if there is, I’m okay with that.

I have my rings back, and I had a day to really reflect not only on what the rings mean to me, but also what my marriage means to me. It’s priceless.

My Anti-Bucket List for Age 27

I don’t like to be a copycat, but I absolutely adore the way that Brandee of Chill Mama Chill and Brandy of MannlyMama take clichés like the Bucket List and twist them around to suit their sarcastic, don’t-take-life-so-seriously personalities. So I’m jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.

I’m not usually bothered by my age since I am often told I look much younger than I am. However, 27 means late 20s. It means on my way to 30. It means when I reach 30, my sweet little baby prince will be a full-fledged little boy in preschool. And that ish cray.

So in an attempt to not take life too seriously and embrace that I am another year older; in an attempt to laugh at myself; in an attempt to let go of that fact that many items on my real Bucket List haven’t been checked off yet, and maybe never will be, here are the 27 items on my anti-bucket list for age 27… Things I will NEVER do (or never do again):

  1. I will never ever ever sky dive. I don’t even like flying in airplanes (cue panic attacks/anxiety/all kinds of stomach issues because of said panic attacks and anxiety). Why would I jump OUT of one?
  2. Shave my head. I’m not vain, but I just don’t have that Natalie Portman V for Vendetta head. At least I don’t think I do. I don’t want to find out. Plus, no hair means cold ears.
  3. Tell my son what path to pursue or what to do (or not do) with his life or go a day without saying “I love you.”
  4. Eat veal. Poor little baby cows locked away in the dark.
  5. Play or watch football. Can’t get into it. Sorry guys.
  6. Use a tanning bed. The last time? A complete and total nightmare resulting in a lot of aloe on a seriously red ass.
  7. Stop using public restrooms. I WANT TO NEVER USE THEM. But I can’t. Because no matter where I am, I ALWAYS have to pee.
  8. Care about fashion, shoes, or purses.
  9. Wash dishwasher safe dishes by hand. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  10. Run a marathon. I like working out. I run… sometimes. Indoors mostly. But no way am I running for hours or paying to run.
  11. Listen to techno music.
  12. Go braless.
  13. Discourage my students. They need all the encouragement they can get when they’re in high school to succeed ❤
  14. Get a grill. The one in your mouth, not the one to cook burgers on. Although I have to say, gold teeth always make me think of Home Alone.
  15. Pierce my tongue. The bacteria. The metal clanking on my teeth. No just no.
  16. Fire a gun.
  17. Eat salami. The look? The smell? I gag.
  18. Eat a fortune cookie. They know we only care what’s inside.
  19. Forget my grandparents or how much I miss them.
  20. Own a cat. I’m a dog person for life, thank you very much and I’m not a big fan of the litterbox smell.
  21. Drive under the speed limit. Places to go, people to see.
  22. Buy/lease/rent/drive a mini-van.
  23. Wear jewelry on the right side of my body. I KNOW. It sounds strange, but rings go on my left hand, bracelets on my left wrist, anklets on my left leg… I don’t know why. THEY JUST DO.
  24. Take a math or science class. EVER AGAIN.
  25. Dance in public. Oh, how I wish I had the rhythm, But it literally gives me hives to picture myself at a club or somewhere people are dancing. Can’t do it.
  26. Join the military. I admire those who can and do, but it’s not the cards for me.
  27. Grow taller… I haven’t grown since I was 14. FOURTEEN. But short people are cute, right? I’ll just keep telling myself that.

So, here’s to 27, as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, writer, woman trying to do it all but okay that she can’t. Here’s to 27, as I celebrate with a massage and facial and a little bit of “me time.” Here’s to 27, in the best shape I’ve ever been. Here’s to 27, and whatever this next year in my life may bring.


You all can drink to me. Because I don’t really drink either 😉

The New Me

I work two jobs, raise my son, attempt to spend time with my husband, dog, and other family members, and exercise 6-7 days a week. Since I chronicle so much of my journey as a working mom over at Liberating Working Moms, my own blog tends to go by the wayside and this year, I want to change that.

I’ve had some serious successes of late, including reaching my New Year’s resolution of reading at least one book each month in 2012, and set the same goal for 2013. I’ve also lost 21 lbs since July 19, 2012. That’s 8 months. 8 months of changing my lifestyle. 8 months of tracking my caloric intake and exercise regime on myfitnesspal. 8 months of watching my body transform. 8 months of growing stronger each day.

I think why I am able to better balance my life, why I am able to attack this new part-time job in the midst of a demanding full-time one, is because I have taken my health into my own hands and improved it.

I admitted that working out makes me a better working mom even though I often feel guilty about the time it takes away from other aspects of my life. But it’s true. Exercise boosts my energy level and helps me finish out my days strong. Exercise actually lifts my spirits if I’m having a rough day, tapers my hunger if I’m wanting to fall off the wagon of nutrition and dig into a box of Swedish Fish—which, by the way, I still do from time to time. All in moderation.

So, I stick to a pretty heavy workout routine each week even though it changes dependent on work and family schedules. And I follow my own advice when it comes to health and fitness.

And that’s how I’ve gotten where I am today.

Here’s my story:

In high school, I wasn’t very active. Don’t get me wrong—I was involved in things. I sang in my church choir, edited the school newspaper, and served as President of National Honor Society. You know, the dorky things. I did NOT—and still don’t—do organized sports. I’m clumsy. A better spectator than participator. And it never really hurt me. I worked out at the YMCA from time to time, but nothing routine. When I graduated high school, my weight fluctuated between 115-118, and at 5’2, that fit. Perfectly normal. Healthy BMI.

In my first year of college, I worked out at the gym on campus, but the food on campus hurt me a little bit. I don’t remember exactly how much, but I gained a couple of pounds. Let’s say I was 120.

By the time college ended—I switched schools and commuted, so longer commute meant less time to make food meant eating out more—I was 125. I told myself I was getting older. My metabolism slowed a bit. Nothing to worry about. 125 was far from obese.


USF graduation–2008

I got married. Who knew being happily married meant you would gain weight? Before I knew it, the chips and salsa at Chili’s led to 5 more lbs, and I was 130 lbs at 24 years old.

Then I got pregnant.

Ironically enough, my darling son didn’t think I deserved to eat while he occupied my womb, so 9 months of consistent nausea and vomiting stopped me from gaining weight. On the day of my son’s birth, April 23, 2011, I weighed in at 144 lbs—only 14 lbs gained in over 38 weeks of pregnancy.


38 weeks pregnant/144 lbs/2011

I felt good about that. Less that I gained meant less I had to lose. The day after he was born, I weighed 136. By the time he was a week old, I was 127—3 lbs less than pre-pregnancy and the weight just melted off.


5 days post partum/127 lbs/April 28, 2011

However. I resented that I hadn’t been able to binge and crave during pregnancy. So once I had my son, I went into full-on I CAN EAT AGAIN mode.

By the end of 2011, I weighed 140 lbs—a number I swore I would never let cross my scale.


140 lbs/January 2012

I joined a gym.

I went 2-3 days a week, tried the elliptical for about 30 minutes each time I went, and saw no changes. Because I really had no desire for it. I wasn’t making a lifestyle shift. I made excuses. I’m older now. I’ve had a baby. My metabolism is slower. I’m not eating that much. Maybe there’s a pill I can take.

By summer of 2012, I refused to get in a bathing suit. In July, I attended a work conference, and none of my work pants—all size 6—would button. I was devastated.

I weighed 142 lbs. 2 lbs shy of what I weighed when I gave birth to my son.


142 lbs/July 2012

And that’s when shit got real.

July 19, 2012 was the first day I began logging food and exercise into myfitnesspal, and I haven’t stopped since. I weighed in at 140.6 the day I began logging online. That website has been a godsend, as it opened my eyes to the amount of carbs, sodium, CALORIES in some of the things I was consuming on a daily basis. It showed me how to be more balanced and accountable.

My only goals were to get healthier and fit in my clothes. I find that it is IMPERATIVE to make small goals, meet them, and celebrate success by creating the next attainable goal. Once I reached 5 pounds lost, I told myself I could achieve 5 more.

I began going to classes at the gym, and slowly saw weight come off. By the first day of the 2012 school year, I had dropped 5 lbs and could squeeze into my work pants. I refused to buy a new wardrobe for my unhealthy body.

By October, I could see the change in the mirror. My face? No longer full, round, fat. My body? Slimming, shaping. I even went to the sprayground with my son IN a bathing suit and felt completely comfortable. I was “me” again.


First “after” photo/128 lbs/October 2012

A few more months of hard work went by, the scale moved a bit, and my clothes were falling off. Which called for some jeans shopping 🙂


January 2013: 122 lbs, wearing size 4 skinny jeans, bitches!

As of today, I have lost 21 lbs. I fluctuate between 119-121 on any given day, and am determined to see the 118 that I saw on the scale when I was in college. I’m also determined to tone my body like I never have before. I want to see some biceps and abs!


119.6 lbs/Feb 2013/The start of some ABS!

This post is not to brag. This post is to remind myself that I can do this. That I will keep doing this. That I will not return to an unhealthy lifestyle. And maybe, to inspire others to take control of their lives, their energy levels, their bodies, as well.

Word of 2013

In 2012, I celebrated my little boy’s birthday. I started my fifth year teaching. I celebrated my fourth anniversary with my husband.  My husband finished his Master’s degree. I got serious about my health, lost 18 lbs and dropped a size. My mom got a new job. My dad got a new job. I saw Chipper Jones in person during his retirement tour. I got a tattoo. I wrote at least one blog a week for a year and connected to so many beautiful, strong women on Liberating Working Moms. And I got to see my dream come true: an article I wrote was published in The Printed Blog.

There were also very rough points in 2012. Whitney Houston’s death. Dissension because of the election. Hurricane Sandy. Lance Armstrong. The Sandy Hook tragedy. Friends and friends of friends passing away too young. Drama at work. Gangnam Style. Kidding.

All in all, it’s one of those years that balance the scales. It was good and bad. It was gentle and rough. And now, I’m looking forward to starting something new.

On Liberating Working Moms, we came up with Working Mom Resolutions, but this week, I’m going to meditate on it and possibly add to mine. One of the beautiful women on LWM, Law Momma, mentioned on Facebook that she selected a word to represent her hopes for 2013: embrace. She wrote that she would embrace who she is, what she wants.

I took her challenge. I wanted to choose a word. Instead of making lofty goals and setting myself up for failure, I’ve been conservative with my resolutions and hopes for 2013, because I’ve realized that just because it’s January doesn’t mean anything. I decided to attack my unhealthy habits and work out on a daily basis in July. Bikini season was almost over. New year was months away. But I did it because I knew it needed to be done. So I decided in 2013, I will attack things as they come, not just because Times Square says I can.

But I wanted a word. A word to go back to and to hold on to. A word to speak over my life, the way I used to speak prayers over my family members, friends, and unborn baby before I became so engrossed in the tumult of adulthood that I forgot to pray.

My word is free.

This year, in 2013, I am going to dedicate myself to work on freeing myself. Freeing myself of complaint, discontentment. Freeing myself of fear and anxiety.

So maybe, I’ll get on an airplane again without hiding my head in my husband’s lap and hyperventilating. Maybe I’ll leave the baby overnight somewhere. Maybe I’ll spend some money on clothes or a family vacation without feeling guilty. Maybe I’ll make a career move instead of staying with the same old because it’s safe. Maybe I’ll be inspired to write again. Maybe I will let go.

That’s what I want. I want to enjoy life, whether I’m still in my “starter house” that I hate or I move somewhere new. Whether I’m teaching the toughest students or the most advanced. Whether I’m sick or well. Whether I’m rich or poor. I want to be free to be me, to be content, to be at peace.

I want to be free of obligation.

My favorite high school teacher still shows up in my life once in a while to check up on me and encourage me. Recently, he told me that my problem is that I care too much. It’s my problem in my family. It’s my problem in my classroom.

I don’t want to not care. But maybe, just maybe, I need to care more about what means the most to me. Like spending time with my son instead of grading. Like spending a quiet New Year’s Eve at home even though the tradition is to attend a large, loud, fun family party.

Most of all, I want to be free of the past.

I want to be me now. I don’t want to miss the person I used to be. I don’t want to dwell on things that were said or done to me. I want to look forward.