Project 40 so far

The results of my most recent Project 40 Challenge are in. And they are dramatic. So dramatic, in fact, that it is taking me a little while to gather my thoughts. I’m hoping to post about it in the next day or so. But in the meantime, you can catch up on all the Project 40 action. Here are all of the blogs in one convenient location. And if you have a suggestion for a challenge, please let me know in the comment!

The Last Day Before the Last Year
The Artist Looks At Forty
The Presidential Physical Fitness Test
Shrink Session
Training for my Training
The Three Day Dr Oz Challenge: Introduction
Day 1 of the Dr Oz Cleanse
One Day More (of the Dr Oz Cleanse)
The Dr Oz Three Day Cleanse: A Review
Fit Summer Four Week Challenge: Introduction
The Most Important Meal of the Day
Tough Mother, It’s About Time
When Elephants Fly
My Body Is Not A Computer
Aesop’s Fitness
Turbo Sweat
For the Birds

And check back tomorrow (?) for my newest challenge! It was a great one!

So, what do we do now? Depression and how you can help

I’ve seen a lot of arguments on Facebook over the past few days regarding the ALS ice water challenge. There are a lot of people out there who don’t think it’s helping anything. That it’s jut a stunt to help people feel better about themselves. My personal feeling is that it’s raising a ton of money- so why are we arguing about it?

But it got me thinking. With the recent news about Robin Williams, people are talking a lot about suicide and depression. That’s amazing. Because a big roadblock in people getting help is often the stigma. Take away the stigma, and more people get help. Period.

I wondered, though. What are some really practical things people can do right now? While we’re still having the conversation before we move on to the next topic du jour. I humbly submit the following list. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

1. Learn more about depression. Read about it. Talk about it. If someone you know has depression and you have questions- ask. We want to talk about it. We don’t want to hide. When you don’t ask, we feel like it’s taboo.

2. Write someone a “you matter” letter. Take a moment to let someone in your life know how you feel. You never know when someone might be suffering. You never know when your words might make the difference.

3. Be kind. To everyone. Always. Even difficult situations and difficult people can be handled with a kind heart.

4. Write yourself a letter when you’re feeling well. If you are feeling like you have nothing to live for, read your letter. Remember that there are times in your life when you have hope.

5. If you are suffering and have never sought help, use this time. Let this blog be your motivation. There may be resources through your school or workplace. But if you don’t know where to begin, start by looking up psychiatrists. Find the right doctor. There is help. There are people who can help you feel better. I know it’s scary. But it is their job to help you. You will not be judged. You will not be locked away. You will not be put on medications that make you feel like a zombie. And if you are put on medication that makes you feel strange, TALK to your doctor. Together, you can find the right treatment.

What else can we do? Post your ideas in the comments. And please share- you never know what might motivate someone to get help.

Throwback Thursday: The Carol Brady Edition

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on a Clean Eating Challenge. Today is the last day. And I have a ton to tell you. Starting tomorrow, look for a series all about the ups and downs of clean eating. (Hint: it’s mostly awesome.)

In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite projects: The Carol Brady Experiment. Find out what happened when I spent five days living my life like famous sitcom moms.

And if you like it, tell your friends!

Introduction

Laura Petrie: Before

Laura Petrie: After

Shirley Partridge: Before

Shirley Partridge: After

Roseanne Conner: Before

Roseanne Conner: After

June Cleaver: Before

June Cleaver: After

Elyse Keaton: Before

Elyse Keaton: After

My Life is Not A Sitcom

Purple Hair and SPD

The other night it happened again. I was pulling my hair back into a ponytail when Lily let out a loud sigh and said “I wish I could have hair like yours.” We’ve been going through this for three years or so. “Princesses don’t have Lily hair. They have Mommy hair.” (Thank you princess Tiana for helping me out there…) We’ve done everything we can to make this little girl love how she looks and be proud of her natural hair. And the strange thing is, she IS proud of it. People tell her “you have the coolest hair!”

And her answer? “I know.”

But this time, I heard her desire for hair like Mommy’s in a different way. So I asked her. “Is it that you want your hair to look like this? Or that you want our hair to look that same?”

“I want our hair to look the same.”

We’ve been going through some adoption stuff around here. It’s the first round of things we knew would come up. She understands that she was someone else’s baby first, and it is really confusing and hurtful for her. And she sees how different we look.

So I had a brainstorm. Her hair cannot look like mine. Not only would that be impossible without a wig, it would look ridiculous. But.

I offered an alternative. “Do you want Mommy to cut her hair short like yours?”

She smiled and said yes.

“What if we could get it even more alike? What if we both got purple in our hair.”

“YES!”

And plans for Purple Hair Day were in the works.

There were several things at play here. First, her desire to match her Mommy. There are certain things I can do to make that a reality. We have a few matching outfits now (handy that Mommy is so short and Lily is so tall. We can shop in the same section.) and she struts around, so excited to be a physically matching team.

Second, I don’t want anyone to think I am downplaying the importance of her own racial identity. When we match, I pick things that she would wear. We do our very best- from the church we attend to the kindergarten teacher I requested- to make sure she is around as many brown people as possible. She wants to look like Mommy. That doesn’t mean I need to help her look “more white.”

Third. The issue of Lily’s hair.

I’ve written about it here.

And also here.

And here too.

It’s a big issue at our house. If you would like to comment on her hair, I beg you to read the links to my previous blogs. And then decide whether you should argue with me. (You probably shouldn’t) It has come up again several times in the past few weeks. A stranger even reached out and touched her hair and said “you need a comb.” Yes. I handled it firmly and swiftly. And then in the car on the way home we practiced saying “you’re a stranger, don’t touch me.”

But last week, we had a breakthrough. Not a breakthrough that allowed us to touch her hair. But one that explained why we can’t.

Lily quite likely has SPD, or Sensory Processing Disorder. I’m still new enough to the world of SPD that my explanation to you might not be any better than a google search. But it can be totally overcome with Occupational Therapy. Her diagnosis makes so much sense. It is the reason she absolutely panics (literally panics. Violent outbursts.) when someone touches her hair in an attempt to cut or detangle it.

There is so much more to SPD and why it is the most likely explanation for so many of Lily’s struggles. She spins. She is physically unable to sit still. All of the pieces fit. But that’s a story for another day. Let’s get back to the purple hair, shall we?

The day Lily agreed to matching short purple hair, I made appointments for us at bumble & bumble. As we got closer, though, she started to feel incredibly anxious about the hair cut. A check-in with her therapist confirmed that we shouldn’t push it. But I decided to follow through.

I sat down in front of Carrie, who has been doing my hair for ten years. I walked into the salon looking like this:

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I explained what was happening to Carrie, and asked if my hair was long enough to donate. It was. But only if we cut it very short. Psh. It’s hair. It’ll grow back. Cut it off.

And she did.

I had ten inches cut off taking me from long wavy hair to pixie in a matter of seconds. She shaped it and styled it and it was on to the fun part. The purple.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Lily had been enjoying the city. (And when I say enjoying the city, I mean he drove around in Manhattan traffic while she slept in the back.) But she wanted to see the purple happen, even if she wasn’t having it done herself. So she kept me company while I sat around in foils.

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She loved being in the chair and wearing the robe. And I needed to jump on any opportunity that equated salons and getting your hair done with fun.

Then. She told me she wanted purple too. If I could get her to let someone do something to her hair- ANYTHING- I knew the day would be a victory. So I spoke with my colorist who sent over one of the girls with purple spray chalk. And this happened.

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What you see there is a happy girl in a chair with a robe and purple hair.

Is her hair still crazy? Yes. Will we need to cut it all off in order for her to grow it out when she’s ready? Yes. But maybe when it’s time for that, she’ll remember this happy time in the chair and not be so scared. I call that a purple hair victory.

And then there was Mommy. I left bumble & bumble looking like this:

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Quite a change, yes?

I left there feeing grateful.
Grateful for the excuse to get short purple hair.
Grateful for the staff downstairs who made a huge deal out of Lily’s hair, even though it wasn’t all that different.
Grateful for the receptionist who told me, after watching us for a few minutes, “I’m adopted too. You guys are awesome.”
Grateful that she shared with me her own identity struggles, and that she had them even though her parents were black just like she is.
Grateful for the understanding of why Lily gets so traumatized by have her hair done.
Grateful for the chance to show her that getting your hair cut really short can be awesome.
And grateful that maybe she’ll remember this happy experience when the time comes for her to make the big chop.

I went into all of this thinking whatever, it’s just hair.

But you know what? It turns out purple hair can be pretty important.

Why The Genie Isn’t Free

First, know that this post is written with all due respect to Robin Williams and his family, and with equal respect to those who have shared the “Genie, You’re Free” image. I am heartbroken. I cannot imagine what his family is going through. And people have the right to mourn in whatever way helps them.

Second, I acknowledge I am not the first person to express this. But the “Genie, You’re Free” image, while beautiful and artistic, struck me as a bad idea the first time I saw it. I may not have the biggest audience, but if I reach even one person, it will be worth it.

So here’s the thing. Robin Williams may be “free.” We have no way of knowing with any certainty how he may or may not be feeling. Maybe it’s free. Maybe it’s awful. Maybe it’s nothing.

But you know who isn’t feeling free? The people he left behind.

This is not another “suicide is selfish” rant. Depression is real. And awful. And there is always help. But fighting can get exhausting. And the last thing I want to do is start slinging mud at the already suffering.

No. That’s not true. That’s the second-to-last thing I want to do.

The LAST thing I want to do is encourage people to equate suicide with freedom. Real freedom would have been the right combination of medication and therapy. Real freedom would have been relief from addiction. I do not blame Robin Williams for his sad, sad, choice. I understand his suffering. But please. Let’s not call it freedom.

Take care of each other, friends.

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