[Fifth installment - If you are new to this journey, start at the 1st chapter in my 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs journey as chronicled in my book Say Bump and Take a Left, How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road.] DOWNLOAD FREE TODAY (2/29/12) ONLY ON AMAZON
Laughter is the best medicine they say, and everything I did while pregnant and wearing pink and blue casts was a joke waiting to happen. If I didn’t laugh at myself, I would have given in to the tornado of emotions I was feeling, and let myself be sucked into the cyclone. Resisting this tornado was one of the best training methods for self employment (even though a category F10 would probably best describe a self employment tornado). The laughter could not, however, keep the tornado from constantly churning my emotions all around me like so much dust in the air that I couldn’t see or breathe properly. Emotions like sadness, guilt, anger, depression, frustration and misery. The laughter couldn’t blow the emotional dust away completely, but it was at least kept out of my eye.
I had never actually been depressed before. I know, surprising with all the accidents I just chronicled during my marriage thus far. And, I didn’t even go into the stuff that happened when I was a kid - like the time my younger sister ran over me with my dad’s three-wheel trike. God, now I know what Bella in Twilight feels like!
Apparently, one of the symptoms of depression is that you don’t realize the impact your depression has on your life. For example, I love to read. I will always find time to read. A good mystery can engage my mind, and if I’m lucky my spirit. If the only time I had in my day to read was when I was sitting nursing my newborn, I would coo and read, coo and read. You would think that sitting immobile on the couch with my second born would be a perfect excuse to read voraciously.
I didn’t read one paragraph of one book for at least three months.
Please understand, I’m talking about reading for pleasure. Okay, I read the pamphlets when the baby came about his growth and development, but that was motivated by fear, not pleasure. The cloud of emotions swirled around me too fiercely to allow simple pleasures like reading.
I finally accepted that I was depressed. I had never experienced this, so I didn’t know what was happening, but actually, that was a good thing! After about a week of sitting on the couch with my feet propped up, watching mindless T.V. reruns and zoning out into my depression, my wonderful partner gave me an emotional kick in the ass by telling me he was going back to work.
“No!” I said. “Who is going to play with Evan? Who is going to make his lunch? Who is going to watch him while I . . . while I . . . “
I saw this bewildered, sad look on my wonderful husband’s face as he walked away. I realized then that I wasn’t “Mom” anymore. Hell, I wasn’t “ME” or any of the other countless titles I held in what was considered ‘my life’. I was feeling sorry for myself - rightly so in my opinion - but my family was suffering, and so was I. I saw in that instant that by giving in to my depression, I was actually being quite selfish. I mean think about it. I was not permanently disabled, I was not ravaged by disease, I was not a woman living in a Middle Eastern city! I had to mentally shake myself and say, “Get Over It Woman! If you can still move, you better start doing it, otherwise you are going to get stuck like this - physically AND emotionally!”
Here was my first life changing realization - I have complete power over how I feel and act. There would be many more to come as I hopped through this unique journey, and they all helped me gain the confidence to take a left turn from safety and choose the rocky, uncertain road toward my dreams.
So, I crawled on the floor - hey, I could use my knees - and rolled the baby hotel over so I could sit on my butt and play. The look on my son’s face almost made me dive into the swirling cyclone, but I thought crying right then might make him realize that mom had really flown the coop! I felt better, I felt in control and I didn’t feel depressed anymore (not until I had to pee again 5 minutes later). I still couldn’t walk, and hadn’t a clue how I was going to make lunch, let alone get through labor, delivery and caring for a newborn, but I had gotten used to baby hops with my walker, so I decided to take it one hop at a time. I now know the power and purpose of the saying, ‘Fake it ‘till you Make it’, only I now say ‘Keep walking like you know where you’re going, and you will surely get there.’
One thing in particular that my husband did that day and once a week during this ordeal helped tremendously with my frame of mind. He took me out on our patio in those beautiful early fall California days and washed my hair. I could only stand on one leg long enough to give myself a sponge bath once a day - I was not able to do many things, and I was determined to be clean while doing them - but I could not stand long enough to wash and rinse my long hair. I certainly couldn’t take a shower until both casts were removed, and picture me trying to get in a bathtub while keeping both legs out of the water. I’d drown next.
So, until my first cast was removed seven weeks into this ordeal, the one thing I looked forward to most was my weekly hair washing. I learned to celebrate the little things in life.
If your man has never lovingly washed your hair for you, ladies, you are missing one of the truly sensual experiences in life. Too bad we couldn’t take advantage of it. Picturing further intimacies with my husband while I had an 8 month pregnant bump, a pink cast on one leg and a blue cast on the other is enough to induce belly shaking, pee my pants, crying fits of laughter. Amendment to my previous depression rule: the best things for depression are laughter AND action!
Building with Lego’s helps too.~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties meet back here to join me for an interesting smell?!]
[Fourth installment - Here's the 1st, 2nd and 3rd- of my 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs journey as chronicled in my book Say Bump and Take a Left, How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road.]Chapter 2Incontinence and a Walker
I have learned a few things about myself in the 40+ years I have lived. I happily admit to being stubborn, impatient and fiercely independent. All three of these characteristics were the result of my innate personality and living with my controlling father for the first 18 years of my life - another story that has been lived and retold by countless others. Now, I was faced with the inability to move without assistance. Two of those three character flaws I just mentioned had to be abandoned. A myth told by Joseph Campbell that kept ringing in my ears goes something like, “Be careful when casting out your demons, lest you cast out the best part of yourself.” So, my stubbornness I clung to.
I was actually very lucky in that I had a walking cast on my right leg which allowed me to stand flamingo-like on that leg. How appropriate that this was the leg with my pink cast. I would not put any of my considerable weight on my left ankle however - thinking about “surgery” while pregnant had me following the Doctor’s orders like a Star Wars Clone.
How did I get around you ask? A wheel chair was the first option, until I pictured the walls of my house being demolished and said, “No Thanks, what else?” We lived in a 1600 square foot tract home with a standard hallway connecting the bedrooms and garage to the front rooms and kitchen. Our home had a typical 3 bedroom/2 bath floor plan fit into a neat little box shape with no room for grand hallways and entrances. We have since remodeled and removed the hallway to open the house entirely. A day late and two casts short, as they say, but nice all the same.
Next I was offered crutches. PLEASE, PEOPLE!
Being off balance with this big bump in front of me was the cause of the accident in the first place! What, you want me to break my neck too?! Instead, I was given a walker. Yes, a walker. You know, the things you see little old ladies using when they go out on the town. No I didn’t put tennis balls on the bottom!
I was instructed not to “hop” when I used the walker. I was supposed to pick up the walker while balancing on my right foot, move it forward about a foot, place it on the ground, lift the heaviest part of my leaning body off the ground using the support of my hands on the sides of the walker, swing my right leg forward into the open end of the walker and gently place my right foot on the ground again to support my weight, all the while not allowing my left foot to touch the ground. The bottom half of my body had an additional 50 pounds attached to it with my already curvy figure, the weight of the baby hotel and the casts so in essence, I became a human pendulum. I could just see myself flat on my ass again with the first attempt. Forget moving the walker a foot, I started with about 3”. Several times I hit the front of the walker with my swinging right foot, and hoped like hell my arms would hold until I came to a full and complete stop. Let’s see how strong you are when you are doing the equivalent of a push up with 50 extra pounds on your body every time you take a step. Not hop?! Yeah, right! If you can believe it, I actually lost weight in my eighth month of pregnancy. There were two good reasons for this:
- I couldn’t readily reach food whenever the mood or craving struck, and asking my husband to do my grazing for me was just sad.
- Every time I did move, it was like I was attending water aerobics class minus the flowered swim caps and the water. My breath, like my dignity escaped me in gasps.
Do I really need to tell you how often I had to pee at this stage of pregnancy? Add that to the fact that I now moved at turtle speed, and it was obvious that the first “hop” on the way to the bathroom was going to open the flood gates. So much for keeping the casts clean and dry.
A phone call to the hospital, and I happily was introduced to a bedside commode.
My husband also became intimately acquainted with this device when he had to empty and clean it twice a day.
On more than one occasion, I got a disgusted look from Duane as he attempted to carry, without spilling on our newly cleaned carpets, a too full commode to the toilet to dump it after a particularly productive night. Think about it . . . you ladies who have had babies know what comes out after you deliver with an episiotomy. My husband absolutely deserves a medal since I was still using this wonderful commode until my newborn was four weeks old! At least I know he will take care of me in my old age. Actually, when I’m 80 years old, soaking my teeth and forgetting his name, he might just say, “Hey Babe, I did my time 40 years ago, you’re on your own!” ~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
Everything MommyLoves[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties meet back here to join me for some Lego play to combat depression!]
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[Third installment - Here's the 1st and 2nd - of my 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs journey as chronicled in my book Say Bump and Take a Left, How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road. And the fun continues...]
I was originally unemployed and pregnant, because in April 2001, I was laid off from my commission only Executive Recruiting job in High Tech. I was one of those Head Hunters finding jobs for techies during the last few months of the dot com explosion. I had also lost my previous management job early in the year 2000 to a merger between the second and third largest staffing firms in the U.S. at that time. All in all, the 21st century was beginning with the worst year emotionally in my adult life . . . until my second son was born of course! I thought my luck had finally changed when this innovative, barrier-breaking President of Blue Ribbon Personnel hired a 7 months pregnant woman to start the Executive Recruiting branch of her 20+ year old staffing firm. Not only did this amazing woman hire me, but she put me on salary, AND allowed me to work part-time occasionally from home! Going from unemployment, to commission only, to this was like winning the employment lottery, and I have remembered her treatment of me to create my own unique environment in my company! How could I let her and the company down on my first meeting after only a month?!
Well, gravity let me down, so there you go.
Forget emotionally, 2001 was also becoming my worst year financially, because at the time, I was the main financial support for my family. Since my first son was born in 1998, Duane and I shared the joys of raising him. Duane was home Monday through Thursday, and I was home Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I have met very few couples who have taken the Mr. Mom path, and I wonder if Romeo would have? Being Italian, I doubt it - I know, I am one. We had used our savings during my two previous job changes, and now I was out of work again with a baby due very soon. Disability certainly didn’t cover my mortgage (which was thankfully lower than the California average) but at least it covered the groceries. The only logical option: Husband works Full Time while I sit healing my bones and finishing my baking. I kept thinking that there was some message I was missing with all the bad luck I was having with jobs, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was - I guess I was a little slow . . . again.
This amazing new employer of mine didn’t even consider firing me, thank God, they simply said I could come back as soon as I liked after I delivered the baby and my newly healed legs. My newborn son and I both attended the company Christmas party three months later. If you can believe it, I actually found clothing in my closet that not only fit, but coordinated beautifully with my black “walking boot”!
In hindsight, my boss’ response to my phone call canceling that first meeting was my first taste of the sweet lemonade I had all around me in this sour situation, but at the time all I could feel was fear and depression.
The rest of that fateful evening of September 5th went by in a blur. I was clearly in shock, and still deluding myself into believing I had just sprained my left ankle and stepped on a rock with my right foot. I came crashing back to reality as if slapped in the face, however when the Emergency Room Doctor came into my room with my X-Rays and said in a bored voice, “Well, you did it good. You broke them both.” I actually think my husband still thought I was overreacting until those words were spoken.
The Doctor proceeded to tell me that I had fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my right foot and shattered, YES SHATTERED, the lower fibula as it goes into my left ankle joint. I had to be reminded of these details the next day (or actually later that same day since it was already midnight), because all I really heard were the phrases, “casts on both legs up to the knee,” and “6 - 10 weeks,” and “possible surgery.”
That last one woke me up.
“What?” I yelled in surprise. “I’m sorry, Doctor, but I don’t think you understand that this big bump is really a baby!”
He said something about surgery being possible when, “one is pregnant,” to which I replied “Go #@%& yourself!”, or something somewhat cleaner since my son was present. I asked him, “Why would I accept any risks to my unborn child by consenting to surgery without a life threatening, or at least permanently disabling situation?!” Dr. Boredom just shrugged his shoulders. My husband quickly agreed, when he saw the look on my face, that we would talk about it tomorrow with the Orthopedic Doctor.
A technician proceeded to fit me with temporary casts and we made an appointment to return for the real things later that morning, at our first of many return trips to the hospital during the next three months. Evan, was a real trooper! He never fussed once, and stayed awake even in the shocked silence of the 45 minute car ride home around 1 a.m. He will make his future wife very happy if he continues to be so intuitive to the women in his life. She better thank me!
My first question for the Orthopedic Doctor later that morning was, “How could this happen?! All I did was step out a front door!”
His response made total sense, but I had never heard of it having these consequences. Apparently, there is a hormone called Relaxin that is released toward the end of the third trimester of pregnancy that is designed to soften and loosen the pelvic ligaments and cervix to prepare for labor and delivery. This hormone is supposed to allow your pelvis to expand and stretch without breaking as the baby travels down the birth canal.
Unfortunately, this hormone circulates throughout a pregnant woman’s entire system and softens ALL ligaments. As if to add injury to the insult of my clumsiness, when I took that step out my neighbor’s front door, my ligaments were too drunk with this hormone to do their job, and the weakest bones broke without the support of the ligaments staying tight around them. Since I had already gained about 30 pounds during the previous 8 months, those drunk ligaments had even more weight to try and reign in.
Why did I give in to those Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream cravings?!
The Orthopedic doctor suggested that we x-ray my left ankle again after the baby was delivered to see if the bones were healing properly, and decide then if surgery would be needed. (Fortunately, surgery was not necessary.) I chose pink and blue for the colors of my casts since we were still on that “road less traveled” by not finding out the sex of the baby. At home later that morning after the permanent casts were fitted, I lay in bed still in shock. I kept staring at these stumps covered in neon, with these 10 sausages pretending to be toes sticking out of them, and thought blithely, “Well, at least I just got my toes done.” I couldn’t hold it in much longer. When I was sure that my husband and son were safely on their way to the park, I let go, and cried like I haven’t cried since the first time I saw the movie Beaches. My feeling of depression was more overwhelming than I could possibly describe.
“I can’t do this!” I kept crying in anguish.
I was angry with myself.
I felt sorry for myself.
I had literally stumbled into this horrible situation.
Isn’t that always the way the journey begins?!~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties meet back here to get an education on incontinence and a walker.]
[Second installment - Here is the First - of my 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs journey as chronicled in my book Say Bump and Take a Left, How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road. Go ahead and laugh, you won't hurt my feelings...]
As my neighbor ran in the house to get the phone, I held myself like most little girls do when they have to go, but don’t want to stop what they are doing. Bouncing a little on the bench, I didn’t care about decorum in front of the three unusually quite children staring at me. I did attempt to retain some dignity when my neighbor returned with the phone, however, by quickly moving my hand up to my swollen belly. This awkward movement was apparently not as successful as I would have liked, because she immediately asked me if I wanted a pad, “just in case?” So much for my feeble attempt to remain dignified.
Taking deep, calming breaths, I called my husband, Duane, and tried to explain to him why he had to come home early from work. He took this news as he takes all shocking, potentially dangerous life-changing news - with disbelief!
I know my husband’s reactions well, because during our 27 years of marriage I have given him cause to display them all. Nothing in our lives together has taken what could be considered a “normal” path, so he should not have been surprised. In fact, one of my favorite pieces of literature is The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost, because I consider my life’s journey to always be on the path that “was grassy and wanted wear”. Duane describes our marriage as, “What would have happened had Romeo and Juliet lived”, but the youthful, forbidden love story has been lived and told so many times that I’ll leave it out of this one. If we do represent the non-tragic Shakespeare, the mythical Mr. and Mrs. Montague missed an amazing adventure!
Seven years after we were married, we split up.
Not because of any seven year itch, (although the words “seven year” and “itch” together have quite bizarre connotations), but because we went to different Universities to finish our undergraduate education. He went off to UC Santa Barbara, and I ventured off to UC Berkeley. We saw each other about once every 6 weeks when he flew home for a weekend. Those weekends were intense since we passionately studied each other in addition to the books. I would cry my eyes out Sunday night after dropping him off at the airport, and then prepare for life without him for another six weeks. I was not your typical UC Berkeley student . . . if there is such a thing. I was about six years older than 99% of my fellow undergrad’s, I didn’t party on weekends, I wore a wedding ring and I shaved my legs and armpits regularly.
The first frantic phone call for help Duane received from me was when we were on summer break during college in 1986. I was privileged enough to get a ride to the ER from the local Volunteer Fire Department Ambulance for this incident. I had sustained a concussion, many bruises and possible facial disfigurement when I was thrown from a horse, and kicked in the face by another horse during my summer job as a wrangler on a ranch in the small Northern California coastal town where we lived. I am VERY lucky in that the only lasting effect from this particular incident is slight nerve damage on the right side of my face. I only feel it when I get my teeth cleaned, something I hate more than anything else in life. I would rather experience advanced labor pains for 10 hours than walk into a dentist’s office. But, if I want to chew anything harder than pudding for the next 30 years, I clench my bicuspids, and step into the torture chamber with my iPod connected head held high.
Speaking of labor, my first pregnancy ended at 8 weeks gestation with another frantic trip to the ER and a misdiagnosed Ectopic Pregnancy, but a miscarriage all the same. Again, my poor husband received an unexpected phone call from me, only this time I was already in the Emergency Room. My second pregnancy ended with another miscarriage at 12 weeks gestation almost a year to the day after my first. I found out I was pregnant with my first son, Evan, less than three months after this pregnancy ended. (Duane says he will never trust me again when I say ‘We’re safe’!) Every other woman in my family has had her first pregnancy before the age of 18, so I was almost convinced that since I started almost 20 years later my genetics dictated that I was too late, and my eggs and uterus gave up a long time ago. Thank God I was wrong, and genetics didn’t dictate having kids before I was 18, family dysfunction did. Fortunately, I could overcome generations of family dysfunction easier than genetics.
Frantic trips to the hospital during pregnancy had become a pattern, and this third pregnancy didn’t disappoint. I went into early labor, and was hospitalized for a week on drugs to stop it.
At my 32 week OB appointment, my doctor told me that I was in active labor, and she immediately hospitalized me. All I was feeling were period-like cramps, and with all the horror stories I had heard I thought, “This can’t be labor!” It was, apparently, and I was unbelievably blessed that those cramps were all I felt until a month later when I was 6cm, and the Doctor broke my water to get labor moving along again. When the real labor hit, I realized that those labor horror stories were really sugar coated fantasies designed to lure stupid naive’ first timers like me into thinking that labor couldn’t be that bad!
That phone call to both my boss and my husband while I was drugged up to stop the labor was interesting to say the least. My boss at the time took the news in stride - just give someone else my responsibilities. My husband, however, went home and shoveled bark for 10 hours a day for the next four days. He would of course visit me every morning and evening, but the way he handles stress is unique - distraction rather than food. I was extremely hurt at first that he wasn’t tearfully wringing his hands at my bedside all day as I lay in a drugged stupor trying not to have a baby. After all, that is what I would be doing if our roles were reversed. (Yeah right, like he would survive morning sickness, let alone labor!) It took me five years of sulking to realize that he did not shovel bark all day because he didn’t love me. Quite the contrary, his bark shoveling was caused by his love for me, concern for our unborn child and his inability to control the situation and ensure our safety. He had to take control of SOMETHING, and the 20 yards of bark he had delivered the day before I went into the hospital was going to be shoveled into submission even if it killed him.
The poor man should have been prepared for this fall when I was 8 months along with my second son given my track record during pregnancy. Now that I write this all down, I am either extremely stupid, extremely lucky, or I’m doing penance for my youthful Juliet impression. I bet my mother would agree with the latter.
Even though this fall down my neighbor’s front steps was scary, I was not at all alarmed about the health of the baby. I felt no tenderness, bruising or cramping around my abdomen. Since I knew my body very well during all my previous pregnancies, I knew that the baby was okay, and previous experience taught me that I certainly did not need an ambulance for my rapidly swelling foot and ankle.
After I had finally convinced my husband that he did indeed need to come home to take me to the ER, because I was not prone to any kind of site specific water retention that would cause only one ankle and one foot to swell to three times its usual size, I then had to call my boss and cancel my meeting. Oh My God! I had to call another boss!
This was actually much more difficult! As I said, this was a new job, and I had been employed only one month. This might be enough to instill fear for my job, but there is more. If you have been paying attention, you have deduced that this company hired me when I was already 7 months pregnant! The American’s with Disabilities Act aside, I held out no hope of being hired by anyone while I was so obviously pregnant that I couldn’t have hidden my huge bump with the most stealthily conceived camouflage maternity wear.~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
Everything MommyLoves[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties meet back here to join me in some Starbucks Coffee Ice cream cravings!]
[Yes this really happened to me. I was 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs and a toddler. Over the next few weeks, I will blog about my journey as chronicled in my book Say Bump and Take a Left, How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road. Go ahead and laugh, you won't hurt my feelings...
]Chapter 1The BumpOh My God, What Have I done?!Would you believe that I started a business because I fell and broke both my legs while I was 8 months pregnant with my second son? There it was, my 'aha' moment, and I didn't recognize it as such until about 2 years after it happened. There was a lot going on at the time, so I use ignorance as my excuse. Unfortunately, the really important moments in life take me totally by surprise, and I become a little slow on the uptake. At least I finally realized it, and I acted on it. That free's up a regret for some other dream I might leave on the shelf.A great deal of
skill was required for me to break both my legs at the same time. I'd like to say this was the result of a tragic auto accident, a harrowing ski accident or simply wearing 5" heels, but I can't. A unique series of events, which if they happened individually would not have even caused me to stumble, combined at one precise moment with my size 11 feet to change my life.
One afternoon in early September, 2001, with the sweet smell of California Indian Summer heat, my three year old son and I were invited to my neighbor's house to swim.No, not September 11th, September 5th! I was lying in bed with my cast clad feet propped up on a pillow on that world-changing day of 9/11!On September 5th, two days after my 38th birthday, we left the swim date around 4 p.m. so I could get ready for an evening meeting for my new job. I stepped out my neighbor's front door, and my little, insignificant world tumbled into chaos - literally!Now, I had been to my neighbor's house plenty of times in the five years since we had moved to the neighborhood, but I had always entered and left either through the backyard gate or the garage door. My neighbor had two young children at the time, a boy aged 4 and a girl aged 5, and my 3 year old Evan played with them quite often back and forth between our two houses. He never went swimming without me, however. Because the kids had dried off to play with a new toy in the front room, this visit was unique in that we left like actual guests - through the front door.This was my first obstacle.The step from the front door threshold to the cement slab porch of my neighbor's house is unusually high. Over 9" in fact, when the local building code requires a stair riser to be no more than 7".No, I didn't sue!
It may not seem like much, but those two extra inches made a huge difference in my landing that first step! Have you ever taken a step down the stairs and expected the bottom to be closer than it actually was? My stomach skipped just like my foot skipped that step!Second obstacle - the three young children had also scrambled out the door around me. Kids this age don't wait patiently in line to march single file out a door after a raucous day of swimming. They are over-excited and exhausted at the same time, and not at all patient enough to wait for some pregnant old lady.Since watching where I put my feet was almost impossible with the enormous baby hotel that had grown in front of me the previous eight months, I guess you could safely say this represented my third, and most important obstacle.Fourth obstacle - I was wearing sandals with a hard, cork sole.No, they didn't have a heel!
Pregnant, wearing a bathing suit AND heels?! I'm not that stupid, or that young! I threw away those shoes the next day!So, when I stepped out of the door, all four of these things contributed to the fact that I was a somewhat comical, if dangerous, Weeble-like pregnant woman.Too bad I fell down.My first step landed on the outside of my right foot. The sole of that sandal did not give, and allow me to somewhat gracefully correct myself. My foot snapped sideways onto the outside. I started to fall, and caught myself with my left foot, but stepped on the outside of that foot, too, landing on my ankle. This time, I heard a "pop". I proceeded to fall - not so gracefully so as to avoid taking any of the kids with me - down the remaining three cement steps, landing on my well-padded backside. There was a full 3 seconds of shocked silence. I dimly registered hearing a baby cry somewhere in the neighborhood. Yes, all the spectators to this new "Mommy Tumbling" sport were staring at me with wide, shocked eyes. I expected someone to put up their arms and yell, "GOAL!" but thankfully no one did.My neighbor anxiously asked me, "Which one is it?" as I clutched my legs as best I could around my nearly full-term bump. To which I shakily replied, "Both!" The outside of my right foot, between
my pinkie toe and my heel began to swell, as did my left ankle. Not a good sign. I was making a conscious effort not to cry like that distant baby so my anxious three year old wouldn't either. I carefully scooted myself, butt first, back up the three steps, and onto a bench on the landing, where I was urgently reminded that the first thing I was going to do when I got home was head for the bathroom.Never again will I wait until I get home!~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom@SayBumpandTweet
Say Bump and Take a Left
Everything MommyLoves[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties, meet back here to find out why I prefer 10 hours of hard labor to visiting the dentist. You think I'm joking?!]
I am blessed and cursed to be one of those people who catches on quickly and does not get frazzled with multiple tasks that need to be accomplished simultaneously - in other words I can multitask with the best of them. I am married to the complete opposite, however, and it took me several years to appreciate that fact. Can I maintain the "B" word in my life...Balance? How does this affect whether or not I read your latest blog post, let alone subscribe to your feed?
The number of tasks I can perform successfully each day depends on my definition of success and my innate personality. Let's take a typical day and the number of tasks I need to accomplish to see if I can obtain this mythical state of balance, which supposedly leads to happiness.
Okay, I'm back...got a little tired after making that list, and went to get a cup of coffee.
- Make all meals for all members of the household - hubby, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat and Grandpa. Oh, and me too. (I love to cook, so evening meals are a joy!)
- Take kids to, and pick kids up from school - many times not even my own.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes. (I'm a menopausal bitch otherwise - oops, sorry, I haven't exercised yet today.)
- Walk/run the dogs.
- Work at the elementary school as Yard Supervisor twice each day.
- Clean the kitchen and do the dishes (my 13yo has recently had some of this added to his chores list each day).
- Clean out then run the iRobot, Roomba, "Mo" (remember that little cleaning bot from "WALL-E"?) in at least one room of the house - dog hair follows me around otherwise.
- Do laundry at least 3x per week - especially with kids, dogs and a cat bringing in mud and sitting on things in the winter. (again, kids are gradually taking over this task, or at least putting their own clothes away!)
- Write - blog posts, comments, tweets, facebook posts...what am I forgetting...Oh, yeah, parts of books, stories and poetry that if I don't get out of my head will make me crazier than I already am.
- Read - blog posts, comments, tweets, facebook posts...again...parts of books, stories and poetry.
- Read, respond and clean out email accounts - 4 of them.
- Help 8th grader with Algebra (and try to get him to realize that he will have to be responsible for his own learning in order to get through High School, because I'm not doing that again.)
- Help 5th grader with fractions/decimals/percents, science and spelling (and help him wear only his clothes, and not his emotions on his sleeves.)
- All the tasks that keep MommyLoves alive and successful - too many Entrepreneurial tasks to list without making you click that little "x" in the corner and leave me forever...I'd miss you!
- Spend time with my kids - talking about and doing things that matter to them.
I just realized I am letting strangers (probably no more than 3) into my daily routine, but I have to prove my point. What is it? There is no balance. There is only a frantic rush to get as many tasks done in the little time we have each day - we can only make little choices where to spend that time every minute. I don't get all of the above done successfully every day! I know some women who do. Sorry, guys, I don't know any men who do. I define success as not getting behind, while being proactive for tomorrow. Most importantly, my success is determined by the completion of those tasks that will impact my and my family's peace and happiness each day. Right now, I have 4 windows open in Firefox and 4 windows open in Safari, Mo and the dishwasher are running, and four boys are playing Call Of Duty, Black Ops on the PS3. As I pause to think of the next thing to write, I open another window to finish another task. That window might just be Twitter, or Facebook, or Triberr, and I just might see a link to your latest blog post when I refresh the stream.
I hope your title grabs me, so I choose to click the link and read your words of wisdom.
Otherwise, I skip right by, and you lose me. So, how important is a title? You decide, because I have to go put in a load of laundry, un-stick Mo from a cat toy and discipline my son's friend for saying the F-word in my house. Balance, Schmalance!
What are you choosing to do right now (besides read this blog post - Thank You!) that leads you to feel successful in your home, business and life? What will be your next blog post title?~Mary Kathryn Johnson 2012
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
(I decided to write this post in response to the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, and Kristen Lamb's post about her thighs. It is too late to enter the Blogfest, but I was inspired never-the-less.) I heard these words spoken by my maternal Grandmother almost daily when I was young. I didn't know their meaning, I felt it. My Sicilian Grandmother was telling me I was beautiful. I saw it in her eyes and felt it in her gentle caress of my cheek and tilt of my chin as she kissed me, and said, "Ca Bella." That was my first inkling that I mattered in this world, that I was beautiful and loved, and I have carried that all of my 48 years. This deep understanding has determines my walk, my posture, my speech, my demeanor, my actions, and my passing on of that knowledge of self to my sons, occasionally my husband and all souls I greet who are also beautiful.Just to clear things up before you click that little red "x" in the corner and say to yourself, "This lady is so arrogant and full of herself the entire internet couldn't hold up her head!", I will tell you now that I am completely confident my features, body, talent and answer to that all important last question will never win me the Mrs. America Pageant. Do you really think I'm only talking about physical beauty? Think again...
Of course, my grandmother (for whom I was named) was biased, and if you think it was easy for her to say, "How Beautiful" when looking at me, just take a gander at this 5th Grade picture...
- I verbally and vehemently refuse to dye my gray hair - I've earned every one of them, I'm certainly NOT a maintenance-type person and I think it's too uncool for my kids at school to see me walking around skunk-like in between dye-jobs.
- The wrinkles on my face show the road I have traveled and the tracks the living of my life has left, I would no more smooth them out as I would unlive my life.
- My hands also show the work I have done, both physical - having glovelessly saddled many a horse, driven many a tractor and cleaned many a dish - and mental from fingers with short fingernails and jagged cuticles pounding out blogs, books and poems on the keyboard.
Yes, the woman was a saint! She did not live past my 16th birthday, and I would not model my life after her life, but I carry with me and have modeled my life after her words, love and strength. Just look into my eyes...go ahead, they're right up there in the first picture accompanying this blog post...and tell me what you see. There were no touch-ups to the photo - only brightening of the light and deepening of the shadows - and no photographer can claim copyrights unless my Mac suddenly becomes self-aware (is Apple working on this?), so what you see is what you get - interpret as you will.
I was given much as a child, and, unfortunately, much was taken away from me at an early age. Every experience has built on the other, and allowed me to build a life that has led me right here. I can only hope that I pass on the beauty and love I was given to all I meet, especially my own sons, and all the women in my life. How do I do that? I don't say, "Ca Bella" every time I see or touch them - boys just don't respond to "You are Beautiful" like girls, and saying that to an adult woman would just be weird. I do say, "L'amo, mi amore'," to my boys, because none of their friends know what it means, but my boys hear it and feel it - "I Love You, My Love," and praise them for the choices that will lead them to becoming strong, loving young men. I also pay attention to the lives of my girlfriends, support who and what they love and show them that I value their wisdom when they honor me with it. That, to me, is Beauty...That, to me, is Love! How do you show those around you that they - by, with, and through you - are beautiful and loved? Please share, on this of all days!~Mary Kathryn Johnson 2012
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
Okay, this is my first time, so be gentle with me. (Geez, I haven't said those words in about 30 years.) I have never been nominated for anything, let alone a blogging award, so I'm almost speechless. I must say, "Thanks, Luv" to Jo VonBargen
for the nod (or shout as she is more likely to do) toward my blogging, because I haven't found another soul more supportive of my posts than her! I must also say, "Damn you Jo!" for taking some of my favorite bloggers as your other nominees - makes me feel even more honored that you included me in their company!
Here are a handful of rules:
1. In a post on your, blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award. (Check)
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award photo. (Check)
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog. (Check)
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself. (You asked - Check)
5. In the same post, include this set of rules. (Check)
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs. (Check)So, here are some little known facts about the woman calling herself Mary Kathryn Johnson, or Mom:
- I was a working Wrangler, and Volunteer Ambulance Driver in a California coastal town in a previous life. I received some strange looks when I showed up lights flashing, sirens blaring in a cowboy hat, boots and smelling of horses to help rescue someone.
- I lied about the "never been nominated" thing - I was nominated into a teen beauty pageant when I was 17 by my Mother...made it into the finals even with my direct and subconscious sabotage.
- I can wiggle my ears.
- I have fundamentalist yet universal beliefs...but in what I will not say.
- The Cello is my favorite musical instrument, and I am very proud and insecure about my ability to play it.
- Even though I was beaten with a belt by my father when I was a teen if I didn't clean the house before he got home from work, surprisingly my own house seems to stay relatively decent. (What does this say about my stubbornness?)
- I used that "my first time" quote with the same man I've been married to for 28 of those 30 years.
Now I'll say "Tag, You're It!" to some amazing bloggers, all of whom I admire!
- Andrea Bandle, an amazing blogger and editor!
- Michael Schmidt, Love the feet, fellow coffee lover, and the little girl!
- Shannon Schmidt, Milk and Cuddles are actually my favorite combination...next to chocolate and coffee!
- Clare Price, the most amazing Marketing Guru and Friend you will find!
- Jim Bouchard, who always helps me get centered like a Black Belt!
- Pam Flowers, Amazing Normal Schmormal Mom!
- Liza Elliott-Ramirez, An Amazing Model, Mom and Entrepreneur!
- Stephanie Chandler, Writer, Publisher, Entrepreneur
- Dori DeCarlo, Incredible MomPreneur, who probably also eats bon-bons,occasionally?
- Meg Lawton, Parenting from the Soul
Have fun reading!Mary Kathryn JohnsonAuthor ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom@SayBumpandTweetSay Bump and Take a Left
Repost and update from 7/11
I can empathize with Michelangelo.
So what if I'm 500 years too late. When he looked at a hard edged, raw piece of marble, he not only saw the strength and beauty it could become, but he also artfully worked with the strengths and weaknesses of the stone. He was said to believe that every stone had within it a beautiful sculpture, and the work of the artist was simply to chip away all the extra stone to reveal the treasure within.
This is exactly how I see parenting, only in the case of our children, the sculpture chips away at itself, and we parents only help guide the chisel and mallet.
Time, practice and artistic sensitivity, I am told, make a master sculptor. These are the same skills I need to become a Master Parent.
I only have 18 short years to help sculpt my two sons, and I do not have innumerable slabs of raw, hard edged youths on which to practice. My only assets when that pink, messy newborn was placed in my awestruck embrace are the time and practice I have taken in sculpting myself, and a loving parent's sensitivity.
Since each child is just as unique as each piece of marble (or diamond if you really think about it), parenting one child is completely different from parenting another. So, to be a good parent, I really need to understand myself first. My sculpture of myself will ultimately determine my ability to help sculpt my children. A recent experience with my youngest helped me fully appreciate how 'chiseled' I actually am (pun absolutely intended).
My nine year old was having issues with a friend at school. This friend happened to be a girl. This girl and my son have been friends and had 'play dates' since they were both four. Last year, they both entered 4th Grade, and everything started changing. My little man came home angry and depressed quite often, and when I asked him what was wrong, he would say, "I can't believe (this girl) isn't nice anymore!" When I asked why he thought she wasn't nice, he would just say, "She's hanging out with mean people, and saying mean things" and I couldn't get him to go further than name some girls who I knew were 'gossipy' and then recite some of their gossip - you know the type. Since my son and this girl didn't usually hang out together at school anymore - 4th Grade girls and boys usually don't mix - I knew he had to be observing her group of school friends from a distance, and picking up on things that weren't immediately obvious. After a few days of this same conversation about this girl, I realized this wasn't just his typical dramatic tendency, and I had to delve a little deeper.
The next time we played out this scene, I asked my son, "What is (this girl) doing exactly that shows you she is mean?" He immediately went on a tirade about how she was ignoring him, and hanging out with a 'mean boy' at school. She called this mean boy her 'boyfriend'! "How could she be a nice girl when she calls this mean boy her boyfriend?" he screamed, his eyes glistening.
I mentally took out my sculpting tools, and asked my beautiful, brown-eyed boy, "Are you sad because this girl doesn't call you her boyfriend?" The floodgates opened, and he buried his face in my neck. I held back my own tears as tightly as I held him, and when he calmed down a bit, I helped my son handle his first rejected crush. Over the next several days, I helped him find not only the confidence to stay true to his own character, but also the knowledge that this confidence will draw others with a similar character to him like a Paleontologist is drawn to the dirt. (Just ask him anything about dinosaurs!) Now, about a year later, he and this girl are close again, and he can more easily weather the female pre-pubescent mood swings that have begun.
I could not have acquired these specific parenting skills without first becoming a Master Self Sculptor. My book, Say Bump and Take a Left
depicts the lessons I learned when I broke both my legs while I was 8 months pregnant with my youngest, and how these lessons helped me birth a baby and two businesses. I learned not to give in to my anger and depression at having casts on both legs up to the knee, an almost full-term bump and the care of a toddler, since I also had the support of a walker, a bedside commode and an amazingly patient husband. In other words...I, and only I am in control of how I feel and act about the situations I encounter in this journey through life. My broken legs while pregnant journey helped chip away that last chunk of my own strengths vs. weaknesses insecurity, and the resulting book
takes the reader on this 'road less traveled' with lots of laughter and a few tears.
Because my children are made of skin and not marble, I'm sure I will sometimes chip away in the wrong place, or hit the mallet a little too hard on occasion, but I know the overall sculpture will not be ruined. These little chips in their marble will simply provided a place on which they will be able to perfect themselves as adults (either with or without the help of therapy). 18 years are certainly not long enough to create a perfect human masterpiece...they will have to do some of the work!
What more can we as parents ask for than to help our children acquire as 'chiseled' a psyche as David's
"You know, it's a funny thing about writers. Most people don't stop to think of books being written by people much like themselves. They think that writers are all dead long ago - they don't expect to meet them in the street or out shopping. They know their stories but not their names, and certainly not their faces. And most writers like it that way - " Inkhheart
That was then...this is now.
Before I read the above quote last week, I knew the names of many famous authors, and the faces of only a few.
I would not have recognized Edgar Allen Poe had I strolled into that bar room in Baltimore, or J.R.R. Tolkein, unless I was privileged enough to take one of his classes at Oxford University, but I know their words as intimately as I know my husband.
There were only three authors whose faces I knew as well as their names. One is J.K. Rowling, and well...if you need an explanation, please get up from your visiting friend's wireless laptop, chip away at your ice block front door, harness up your sled dogs and join us in civilization. The other two are J.A. Konrath (at least in profile with sunglasses) and Joanna Penn.
I think as a group, that Inkheart quote is correct - most writers are solitary creatures, and most readers know the words that moved them, not the author who imagined and wrote those words.
In the 21st Century, however this scenario has changed drastically for every writer who wants to publish her work and have it read, AND for every lover of the written word who wants to know more about her favorite writer. With the sudden ease of self publishing and the ability of indie authors to broadcast exactly what they want to say, unfiltered by publishers, we now have an amazing amount of electronically published works to devour. This basic, yet amazing change in publishing has made that Inkheart quote obsolete, I think. If an author, indie or not, wants her books to be read, she must show her readers who she is - literally!
Monday, January 23, 2012 saw this transformation for me. I now know the names and faces, and have devoured the delicious work of 35 incredible writers (and counting), who have changed my blogging and writing life forever. In the hope that you can do the same, here is the cause of this wonderful transformation.
It's called Triberr.
Belonging to a tribe is a basic human need. Triberr fills that need for writers, and it allows us to help each other. I don't look at another author as a competitor, like another maternity company is a competitor for MommyLoves. So having other authors read, comment and promote my work is the most amazing thing that could happen for my message and my books.
If you are an author, and you want your work read, promote others whose work you admire, and karma will take care of the rest...no really karma is a basic function of Triberr!
Here's to a new world for authors, and once you have edited and formatted your manuscript, send it out into the world by joining the tribe!
~Mary Kathryn Johnson 2012
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom