My dearest Artemis,
Everyday, you save me from a thousand silent deaths. Thank you for giving me the courage to breathe deeply and slowly. You are my greatest and most profound gift.
Mami loves you, always and always.
To My Little Love,
I was having a discussion about perfection with Annie Sanchez from Debt Free Like Annie. She told me that she likes that I set goals and work towards them without obsessing over making every single detail perfect.
My response to her can be summed up in this quote:
“My farts will never smell like mangoes.”
The phrase just slipped out while I was writing to her, and while amusing, it gets to the heart of what I was trying to explain.
We often obsess over things being perfect. We want the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect body, the perfect meal, the perfect life experience, but it doesn’t exist.
If anything, it is the flaws and imperfections that provide detail and render life beautiful.
I learned many moons ago that my pursuit of perfection would, literally, make me go crazy.
I decided I would get my doctorate degree when I was roughly 10 years old. From that moment on, I worked super hard at everything. I joined almost every after-school program I could throughout middle and high school, and found myself at Barnard College of Columbia University where I pursued education with the same fervor I did as a child.
At the end of that pursuit, I found myself with few friends and on the verge of insanity when, upon graduation, I was unemployed, back at my mother’s house, and had to make that terrible trip to the Department of Social Services and apply for food stamps.
I cried the entire walk there. I cried quietly in the waiting room. I cried after I applied, and yet again when I got home.
I continued to send my resume and landed a job, again, which I worked at very hard, but the pressure that I had placed upon myself to live a life I had dreamed of when I was 10 years old caused me to have severe panic attacks.
I couldn’t even keep the job, which was a high paying research analyst position in Wall Street, because my entire existence became consumed with panic attacks.
Perfectionism often comes with the consequence of high levels of anxiety. The more pressure you put on yourself on having a particular item be perfect, the more your level of anxiety increases until you are in a state of panic.
Once you are used to being anxious most (or all) of the time, your body transitions faster and faster to the flight or fight mode activated by anxiety.
I began to unconsciously hyperventilate all of the time.
My battle with panic attacks resulted in an extreme fear of death. The more I tried to control my environment, the worse my panic attacks got. This battle lasted about a year.
And, then, I had a breakthrough.
One day, as I laid in bed having one of the worst panic attacks of my life which convinced me that I would die, a thought occurred to me – just relax Melinda.
I took a deep breath, said La illaha il Allah, closed my eyes, and decided that I would allow myself to die if I was going to.
The next day, I woke up.
I felt refreshed. Maybe, even renewed.
When I gave up the illusion of control and my anxiety over dying before that perfect moment I envisioned in my head, the panic attack stopped.
I have had very few, if any, panic attacks since that day.
That moment taught me that life would never be exactly what I wanted it to be, and insisting that life be some ideal version will only cause me anxiety, fear, and imbalance.
Good mental health is not about life being perfect. It is not about always being happy. It is not about everything always falling into place exactly how you want it.
Instead, you can only be a truly healthy person when you learn how to cope with the difficulty around you, how to make the best of it, and how to appreciate what you have.
Letting go of the twin illusions of perfection and control does not mean that you don’t work towards the betterment of your life. It doesn’t mean that you half-ass things and don’t put your all into them.
Rather, it means that you become even more responsible for your own actions, because you have a deeper understanding of your own accountability.
I believe in being able to shape things through my actions.
Things will never be perfect, but they will be what you need to grow and expand into a full human being.
Always by your side,
Mami Loves You
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.
Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.
To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.
To my dear followers, I have so much wonderful news.
L.I.V².E. has been met with a ton of wonderful reviews, which I will be posting on the site very soon!
Latino Heritage Month has been very eventful. I have been hosting or have been part of events every single week this month.
My second book will be released the week before Thanksgiving. It is entitled, “Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice: Local & Organic Recipes to Get You Off the Naughty List.” It will feature holiday recipes inspired by Autumn and Winter flavors.
I am putting my first course together entitled, Eat Like a Vegan. This course is for individuals who want to learn how vegans eat, those who have recently become vegans, and anyone curious about the vegan lifestyle. Registration will begin soon! The course will be a 6 week online course. Stay tuned for my information.
http://www.organicmelinda.com is going to be moved soon. You just have to visit the same URL, though. The change will happen on the back-end.
However, I will be updating to wordpress.org, so it is imperative that YOU, my followers, sign up to my listserv in order to stay up to date an all that Organic Melinda has in store for you and to follow my blog.
Please make sure to CLICK HERE to stay up to date on Organic Melinda.
I have also started a rewards program for subscribers who get individuals to sign up for my Healthy Living Consultations. If you refer a friend and they mention you to me, you will earn $5.00 for every referral. No Purchase Necessary on your behalf. For more information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow, October 10 at 8:00 p.m. est, I will be part of a Tweet Party with Bloggers of Health. Use the hashtag #BOHmh to join us.
Then, on October 15th at 9:00 p.m. est, the Tampa Bay Bloggers and I will be closing off Latino Heritage Month with a Twitter Party. Use the hashtag #healthyLatin to join us.
Well, that’s all for now.
Be sure to CLICK HERE to join my listserv for free information, book giveaways, and for updates on Organic Melinda.
Health, to me, is holistic. It includes your body, yes, but also your mind, heart, and spirit.
Physical health will quickly deteriorate if you are experiencing anxiety, financial difficulty, stress, and fear.
This year, I have made a lot of gains (or losses) when it comes to my weight. I went from 162 pounds post-partum to 129 pounds, but I haven’t been as healthy as I want to be.
Emotional eating has been a really big struggle for me this year. I tend to turn to food when I am anxious or overwhelmed with my situation. But, the tips that Yaritza, Lori, and I came up with have been helping me overcome emotional eating.
Now, I want to make greater strides for my mental health – end my anxious mind.
Exercise is an essential part of that.
I began doing yoga this month, and, mostly, for the spiritual aspect of it. Holding each stance forces us to quiet our minds and be at peace with the limitations of our own bodies.
Limitations, have, especially, been hard for me this year, because I am used to being strong and capable of taking care of myself.
A car accident in May left me with spinal damage, and I came to discover that I have nerve damage in my left hand.
The goal, now, is to strengthen the nerve in my hand and re-align my spine, so that I can continue my journey towards physical fitness.
Yoga will strengthen my core and improve my flexibility, so that I can do what I really want to do – CAPOEIRA!
I have started doing capoeira, again, but I have lost a lot of my stamina and endurance due to the months that I had to take off from practice. I am also not physically able to do a full range of motions without being in pain later. I have to be super careful with all that I do and ensure that I do not get hit. It’s been frustrating that I cannot even play the pandeiro for more than a few minutes because my hand weakens super fast, now.
I really want to go back to the basics of capoeira and re-learn the movements.
So many capoeiristas are in a rush with their careers. For me, I just love the strum of the berimbau and the total feeling of connectedness to the universe that I feel while I am swaying in the roda.
Capoeira is a place of peace for me, which replenishes my mind and spirit while toning my body.
My mental health is my primary concern, right now, because I want to be a conscious parent while raising my little girl.
I know that eating well, exercising, meditation, and self-control are the foundation that I need to be a good, sane, stable mother and a good role model.
On the physical front, I really want to get toned – like super toned.
My original goal prior to my car accident was to compete in a Fitness competition in the Bikini Category. I had started preparing for it, and had to quickly halt the process.
The doctors have put me on severe no weightlifting restrictions, right now, though, due to herniated discs in my spine, but I am convinced that I will be able to tone my body without necessarily lifting weights.
As my financial and living situation improve, which I know they will, soon, I will really be able to dedicate myself to the craft of bodybuilding and represent vegan bodybuilders and Latinas on that stage.
I have to remember that every meal I consume will either heighten or hamper my chances at strutting myself on that stage.
I want to body build, because I just want to see what my body is fully capable of. I want to feel like a warrior – strong and confident.
A long time ago, I dedicated myself to being a lot more than just average, and I am on that journey.
Being a #healthyme is vital to being a #successfulme.
I never really felt loved as a child. Perhaps, this is the sentiment of many middle children – the older kid gets the attention, and when it’s your turn, another kid is born.
As excited as I was to be a big sister when my baby brother was born, I felt cheated by the lack of attention my mother was able to afford me.
Naturally, then, when my daughter was born, I, often, feared that she would feel as unloved as I did growing up.
I felt like I had to spend every waking moment of my day by her side, and needing a break or leaving her with someone else was selfish. After all, I birthed her. She was MY responsibility, right? And, I wanted her to feel loved!
Regardless of how far feminism has come, women are still the primary parents, in my experience, during the early stages of child development. I’ve discussed many times why I believe this to be the case.
Some reasons are:
1. Many men have not been socialized to be caregivers.
2. Many men feel incompetent taking care of young children.
3. Some men just feel like it’s the mother’s responsibility.
4. Some men aren’t present.
5. Even when the dad is present and wants to help, the baby wants mommy, anyways.
All of the reading and mommy blogs do not prepare you for the transition from living as an individual to having a small human being be 100% reliant on you for everything at ALL times of the day.
What does this really mean?
Being a mom is HARD, and it’s a lot of work.
The days of peeing and/or pooping in peace are long gone. Much of your spontaneity is lost, and your sense of adventure is limited by your need to always be prepared to meet the needs/demands of your baby.
Naturally, after 16 months of nonstop, around the clock baby time, I began to feel worn out.
Well, let me back up a little bit. It was not being a mom that made me feel worn out. It was juggling starting my own business (Organic Melinda), writing and editing L.I.V².E., marketing, applying to PhD programs, and learning that I had spinal injuries ON TOP of being a mom that overwhelmed me.
So, a few days ago, after not sleeping for a few weeks to get the book together, I had a little break down. I had to work around the clock and through the baby’s naps and sleep time to complete the project. I mean, seriously, I am blogging now at 5:30 a.m. while my daughter plays with my hair to soothe herself back to sleep.
I called my sister crying because I, actually, (God Forbid) doubted my decision to be a mother for a moment.
I had a particularly rough day.
My daughter’s father was out the entire day, and I was trying to listen in on a workshop about how to better build an internet company. At the same time, I was communicating with people about how we could market L.I.V².E., and my daughter was having one of her “mommy hold me all day, every day” moments.
So, there I was, sitting on a computer chair, listening to a talk, emailing, and I had my daughter in my arms.
On top of all of that, I discovered that I have nerve damage in my left arm a couple of weeks ago, which sucks doubly, because I am left-handed. I had received physical therapy in my arm to start healing the nerve damage.
And, of course, my daughter in all of her toddler glory decided that she did not want to lean against my chest. NOPE. She was going to put all of her body weight on my left arm, which was causing me excruciating pain.
So, once again – I was sitting at my computer desk, listening to a chat on web marketing, sending emails, and holding my daughter who was causing me a ton of pain.
I tried to reposition her like 20 times, before I just got pissed off, and I put her on the floor.
She was letting out her banshee, toddler, how dare you not hold me screams. Just non-stop, and the exhausted human side of me just wanted to scream, SHUT THE EFF UP!
But, I didn’t.
Instead, I took out my frustration on the lecture by turning it off and cried with her. Begging her to please just stop crying.
Mommy is trying to hold you, babeh, but you’re causing mommy a lot of pain. Just calm down, my love. Please. I beg you. You are hurting momma, and that’s not nice.
I mean, there I was trying to rationalize with a 17 month old begging her to please relax while I, myself, was crying.
That’s what predated the call to my sister.
Please, take this kid. I cannot take it any more. Right now, I wish I had an….
What a shitty thing to say about the one person who I love most in the entire world.
I cannot even type it out, because I know that I do not feel that way. I know that while I advise women to please take their “me” time and not try to be a super hero, I was still trying to be one myself.
I cracked, and I felt and still feel like shit about the horrible thing that I said.
And, so, here I am blogging about it, because I know I am not the only woman who has said some shitty, shitty comment in a moment of utter and complete stress.
I knew my sister probably judged me, and thought I was a total bitch for my comment.
But, let’s be honest – being a working mom is really fugging hard.
I, literally, forwent showers last week, just because I couldn’t get to certain tasks and I would just pass out on the couch.
Following the terrible statement and the deep feeling of shame and guilt that I could ever utter such a thing about my daughter, who I love more than life, I realized that I really just needed to relax.
I took too much on too fast, due to the urgency of our financial situation and the fact that we are on the verge of homelessness.
I have to build Organic Melinda. I have to find a way to make the money that I need for my security deposit and to make sure we have a decent apartment to live in.
So, the solution – stop trying to do everything myself ALL at once. It’s not going to happen. I am just going to be frustrated, and my beautiful daughter is going to pick up on my energy and be antsy, too, which is probably why she wanted me to hold her nonstop all week.
Now, I am making sure to implement some rules for myself to ensure that I never utter a phrase like that, again.
1. Stop trying to do it all AT THE SAME TIME.
2. Ask for help.
3. It’s okay to cry.
4. Ask for help.
5. Put the work away and spend real quality time with my baby.
6. Ask for more help.
7. Create a work day for myself – no more around the clock tweeting, instagraming, etc.
8. Have faith.
9. Ask for help, again.
10. It’s okay to choose sleep when the only options are sleep or shower.
11. Talk to friends and family when frustrated.
12. It’s okay to need a break from your baby – I actually need one to regroup.
13. Remember that I am building Organic Melinda to secure our financial future.
14. Put the damn phone/computer down for a few hours a day.
15. I will not accomplish EVERYTHING, today.
I have to forgive myself for my flaws, and stop putting so much pressure on myself. I’ve begun by asking my mother to baby sit my daughter so that I can have some “me” time, which is a super big step for me.
I am setting up 1 item I want to accomplish for my business each day and working exclusively on that item.
Today, I put away the cell phone and computer and spent quality time with my daughter. Just the two of us – no interruptions. It resulted in us passing out on the couch together.
I asked my mom to baby sit for a couple of hours and I went to the gym.
The bottom line is that if you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you’re probably not going to be in the right state of mind to provide for your child’s needs.
I am giving myself permission to take a break from my mommy duties when I need it.
I am forgiving myself for that horrible moment and that horrible feeling and that horrible statement.
I am taking it one day at a time, one task at a time, one moment at a time.
My daughter will be a healthy, happy human being IF I am a healthy and happy mother.
So, say fuck it to the mommy guilt.
Go for a walk, and BREATHE.