Writing about my PMDD on ’1 Dad, 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure’

pocket option Recently, I wrote a very personal guest post on the travel blog, 1 Dad, 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure about a rarely discussed (and often misdiagnosed) form of depression I live with called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This disorder has affected my relationships, my mood, my well-being, even my travels. The post begins:

It happens in a flash. One moment, I’m project-driven, loving, almost manic in how many amazing things I can get done in a day. I volunteer my time at a local group for children, cook with my kid, plan travels and race through the streets of New York. I’m imbued with a love for everyone I meet and a passion for every new place I visit. I am Super Mom and writer extraordinaire. I take my kid on adventures around the world and live life to the fullest. You can almost SEE the light shooting from my eyes. I’m on fire. And it’s beautiful… I’m beautiful.

Then, every month, like clockwork, the switch is thrown. It begins in my blood—I feel it race through my veins, my heart skips a beat, and I need to stop whatever I’m doing to close my eyes and rub my temples. By the time I open my eyes again, I’m changed. I look into the mirror and see someone vile, wicked and ugly. Terrible thoughts cloud my judgment. It might be sunny outside, but darkness descends. It’s bad enough in the comforts of my home back in Brooklyn, but at times when I’ve been on the road with nothing to ground me to my routine, it has felt catastrophic.

This folks, is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, otherwise known as PMDD. It transforms women living with it into two people—like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—only without, you know, the murders.

Read the full post at 1 Dad, 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure.

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The week I (maybe?) almost died of a bee sting

See that lovely, secluded, romantic vacation home along the Delaware River? Well, I won’t be writing about how great it was, because instead, I need to tell you about a meeting with a bee who gave me a rather serious allergic reaction… Note to self: never, ever again travel without an Epi-pen…

pocketoption.uk My weekend along the Delaware River had started out beautifully. A friend and I had rented a secluded house along a calm bend, and filled our time with saunas, walks and meals of oysters and wine. After one such meal, we made a roaring fire, sat on the couch in the darkness that was illuminated only by the crackling logs, and chatted and laughed the evening away. This post should be a destination piece, filled with notes about where we stayed, how we got there, and useful tips on how to arrange such a trip…

Instead, something happened that took my lovely weekend and turned it into a nightmare. Continue reading

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New York City [Friday Photo Essay #5 - Graffiti in Bushwick]

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Food and biodiversity at the Natural History Museum

Tasting heirloom tomatoes at the OUR GLOBAL KITCHENS exhibit

https://pocketoption.uk Yesterday, in a post entitled Enough Food for an Empire – Agriculture and Biodiversity on the Inca Terraces of Moray, Peru, I wrote about how the ancient Inca developed not tens, not hundreds, not a thousand varieties of potato, but 5,000 distinct species! I also discussed contemporary monoculture, or the growing, patenting and selling of only a few genetically altered types of Franken-seeds by mega-agribusinesses like Monsanto to farmers, efficiently destroying diversity in exchange for making money off a few kinds of uniform potatoes that are the same size, shape and texture; perfect for cutting up, absorbing the right amount of oil, and putting into a deep fryer to make fast food french fries. 

To my daughter, Anevay, I posed a few questions:

  • Why did ancient Peruvians develop so many types of potatoes while contemporary Americans grow only a few varieties?
  • What do these differences mean for our society?
  • What might these differences mean for the health of humans, and indeed, our planet?

To find the answers to these questions, I took Anevay and her friend, Willa, to the Natural History Museum to see the OUR GLOBAL KITCHENS exhibit, which focused on different methods of agriculture, how civilizations have been influenced by food, and how our food choices affect our health, the environment, and the people who grow, trade and eat it. Continue reading

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Enough food for an empire: agriculture and biodiversity on the Inca terraces of Moray, Peru

This was probably where the potatoes we eat got their start… In the agricultural “laboratory” of the ancient Inca people at Moray, Peru.

Walk through your local American grocery store and you’re liable to find two or three kinds of potatoes. Head to a farmer’s market, and you might find a few more varieties. Visit Peru, however, and every time you visit a restaurant or dine in a local’s home, you’ll see a different color and shape of potato, as there are 5,000 distinct varieties of these tasty tubers! Continue reading

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Teaching teens to become passionate leaders (instead of fast food workers)

My daughter, Anevay, follows the green…   But I’m not talking money. She is eco-conscious, which means she wants to see things grow. Climate change worries her. So does deforestation, the meat and dairy agribusiness and the patenting of plants and seeds. The unethical labeling of foods and health products really bugs her. When, after finding that she didn’t recognize- and certainly couldn’t pronounce- most of the ingredients on the back of a skincare product we had in the bathroom, she took it upon herself to develop her own skincare company, and asked me if I’d be her business partner.

Together, Anevay and I researched the properties of individual ingredients and learned about the natural chemicals they contain that act as antioxidants and antimicrobials. Every day for months, our kitchen became a laboratory. Our stovetop bubbled with lotions and potions, and our sink became accustomed to drinking the disasters we poured down it.

Slowly, surely, we developed products that we felt proud of. After testing them to ensure their safety, and getting great feedback from friends, family and people in our neighborhood, we were ready for the next step…

“Mom,” Anevay said, “I want this to be a real business. I want to sell our products in stores.”

I sat back and thought for a moment. Having done plenty of professional marketing, I knew how hard it would be… Packaging, labeling, bar codes, taxes, pitching to stores… The horror! 

But then I thought about the tradeoffs. I also thought about the countless times people told me I couldn’t do things when I was a teenager.

“OK, Anevay,” I answered. “Let’s do it.”

Today, our small company, Paloma & Co., is sold in four stores in Brooklyn. We’ve hosted skincare classes, met amazing product development pioneers, and, this autumn, will be working to expand. While the company doesn’t yet afford us an income (all of what we earn goes back into the company), we are handed checks from the stores that sell our products, and we sell products online to a growing client base. In addition, because community is important to us, we donate a portion of proceeds to other organizations that we believe help our world, and, this year, hosted our first fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars for a local literacy group.

We donate a portion of proceeds to a local literacy group and towards fighting cancer. These are some of the folks who inspire us.

You know why all of this was possible? One reason: I never said no. I always told Anevay that she could do whatever she wanted to do, and I told her to dream big. I asked her to envision a future for Paloma & Co., and then work- step-by-step- towards her goals.

I think that in our culture, we so often sell our teenagers and young adults short. We tell them that they must wait until they become adults to follow their passions. We force them into the mold of what we believe teens should look like, stifling their creativity, passion and nature. When we tell them to “get jobs” and make “pocket money,” instead of “create work” and “develop projects,” we are telling them that money is more important than their own interests.

Before you jump down my throat and tell me that money is important, and learning the value of a dollar is crucial, let me explain…

Most of the jobs in our society for teens are in the fast food industry. When I was a kid, I worked in fast food. So did my brother. My God, the tedium. The excruciating boredom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think letting kids be bored is a great thing- but only when they are also given space to think of ideas that lift them outside of their boredom. Developing games with friends, writing stories, creating science projects, and, as in Anevay’s case, creating a company, are some of the fabulous things our kids dream up as a result of them being bored.

But working at a place like McDonalds? My God. We’re essentially saying: Go, kid, make minimum wage. Work your way up. This is how it is. You start off as a bottom feeder, and must slave your way to the top. Good luck. Right now you’re worth nothing, but maybe someday… 

The way we frame the problem, however, means that SOMEDAY might never come. We force our kids to work backwards: crap jobs first, slightly less crap jobs second, and, if they’re lucky and dedicated and have the right connections, then, eventually, maybe a job they actually want.

What if, instead, we all listened to our teens and young adults? If we supported their creativity? If instead of waiting until they’re adults to “become something,” we simply believe that they already ARE SOMETHING… People of worth. People to listen to. Our future. 

When Anevay was still in public school, she decided she wanted to run for class Vice President. Her political platform? To discuss school lunches. She didn’t just talk about how disgusting they are, but gave information to her classmates about the meat and dairy unions, and told them about how the meat in school lunches is so vile, even McDonalds won’t buy it (the meat is used only in school lunches, fertilizer, and… dog food!). She received a standing ovation for the following line: “We’re kids, not garbage dumps!” Needless to say, she became Vice President. Why? Because, unlike the other kids who were making empty promises about pizza lunches, extra bathroom breaks and the ilk, Anevay had researched a problem that really impacted her classmates, and offered solutions (one meatless day a week and food tastings in coordination with the Department of Education). 

Allowing a young person to follow her passion means that she can impact the lives of others. In Anevay’s case, her love of our planet meant she could share information about food and safety with hundreds of other New York City school kids. More recently, it meant that she could develop eco-conscious skincare products that she can now use to educate, inform, and, yes, “beautify.”

I have no doubt that my kid- my fabulous, young person- will make money with her business. Because this is how it should be: we should work at what we love, with the expectation that eventually, what we build will support us.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… My kid isn’t the only special kid on this planet: ALL kids are special. ALL kids are capable. ALL kids deserve for us to say YES. It doesn’t matter if our kids are alternatively educated (like Anevay), in private schools, or public schools. We adults can support their passions in any and all settings. This should be our priority.

McDonalds, eat your heart out. You won’t be getting my kid to work for you. She’s too busy following the “green.” See, my girl will help her planet AND put a little money in the bank. You could learn a lot from a young person like her. We all could.

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Learn more about Anevay’s skincare business, Paloma & Co.

 

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6 myths about dating a homeschooling, traveling single mom

Don’t call me a MILF unless you want me to take you down with my superior intellect and sexy wit. (photo by imageartof)

Think you know what it’s like to date a homeschooling, traveling single mom? Think again. Continue reading

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My ‘Romancing the Stone’ moment… The day I met a South American Bushmaster

South American Bushmaster

Before I left the cold, rainy, mountainous city of Cusco, Peru, for the hot, sunny, Amazonian River Basin just 11,200 feet below, I shared a few fears via email with a friend: “I’m terrified of going to the jungle,” I said. “Of tarantulas, and snakes, and of anything that bites.” 

My friend wrote back: “You’re like Joan in the movie ‘Romancing the Stone’.” 

I had recently watched the ’80′s film, and thought the comparison was appropriate. In the movie, the swashbuckling bird-smuggler, Jack Colton (played by Michael Douglas) teams up with Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a timid, heel-wearing romance novelist, and has all sorts of adventures in the South American jungle. One memorable scene involves Jack saving Joan from a South American Bushmaster, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. It was a scene that, as a kid, gave me the chills. Continue reading

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Seeing the light in Monet’s Gardens – Giverny, France

I was 18 years old when I took my first art history class in Madison, Wisconsin. My professor, a painter named Adrienne Michel Sager, breathed life into stories about Gothic cathedrals, made me ache to walk the labyrinth at Chartres, and discussed the fine differences between Michelangelo and Donatello. But it was how animated she became while talking about the French Impressionist, Claude Monet, and his gardens at Giverny, that I’ll always remember the best.  Continue reading

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New York City [Friday Photo Essay #4 - Views of New York City]

Tugboat and the New York City skyline (view from the Williamsburg Bridge). Continue reading

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