Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Okay, universe, I get it already

Last weekend, we went to a birthday party and I saw some high school friends of ours. There was a time when the husband was one of my closest friends in the world, and I adore the wife also. They are sweet, funny, goofy, and some of the most generous hearted people I know.

The jerks.

Kidding. Of course.

We've kept loosely in touch over the years, and I know they've had more than their fair share of struggles. The week before their wedding, she lost her dad to cancer. A few years later, when their two year old was in infant, he lost his dad to suicide. Six months ago, they had a miscarriage.

Even though we're not that close now, I've done my best to love on them through it all, and they've let me know they appreciate it. So, I know how hard it has been for them. It's not a secret.

And yet. They have this amazing resilience, both as a couple and as individuals. They are open and positive. They are still goofy. She is an amazing, creative mom. They post on facebook and get dozens of responses from people who truly love them. And I admire them so for this, especially her, for the ability to overcome tragedy and for the ease with which she adjusted to full time motherhood and most of all for her ability to walk into a room and draw people to her.

I truly admire her. Okay, let's just be honest here. I'm jealous.

Yes, beneath my loving, empathetic, self-aware self there is someone dark and petty too. And no matter how many times I say we need to stop comparing, I can't help but compare.

So, imagine my surprise when hugging our goodbyes last Saturday, she turned to me and said, "I wish you guys lived closer. I get lonely sometimes. I haven't had the easiest time making mom friends."


Ahem. Okay, universe. Score one for you. I'm listening.

Monday, February 27, 2012

More things I like about me

Six months ago, I got pressured by my sweetest bloggy friends into writing a post of Things I like about me for a link up with the lovely Ciao Mom. It was the hardest post I'd ever written.

That link up led to the creation of Elena's project Just Be Enough, a group blog that I love and admire very much. I've followed their posts and participated in their link ups. Then last week I got an email saying that they were bringing back Things I like about me.

Seriously? I have to do this again?!?

So, here we go.

  • I have a gift for listening. I really hear what people say.
  • I am very self aware. That's not always the easiest gift to carry, but it has made my life richer.
  • I'm a fast learner.
  • I am full of stories, and I see stories everywhee.
  • I know how to make people smile.
  • In the past year, I have been braver than I've been in my whole life.
  • I'm a good teacher. Even when I'm not teaching.
  • I'm a good mom. A really good mom.

Thanks Elena and the rest of the Just Be Enough Me team. Thanks for helping me learn how to be this person.

Friday, February 24, 2012

You can't go home again

When DH and I got engaged, we were 23 years old and lived in different states. He was starting his master's degree and I was in my first year of teaching at a fantastic public high school. I put in my resignation, finished the year, cried like a baby at the end of year faculty party, and moved halfway across the country.

My whole life, I have always done everything right. It was the first right thing I had ever done.

We were broke, really broke. We lived in a tiny apartment. I subbed as much as I could, getting long term positions in and out, always getting enough work when I needed it. I went to the library. I read The Tightwad Gazette cover to cover. I baked our own bread, made our own ketchup. I planned my wedding there. Life was simple if not easy.

We were supposed to be there for 3 years, to have a life there, but it didn't happen that way. I cried when I heard we were moving, then I packed up and started again somewhere else.

This week, my husband had to go back to that college town for work, so BG and I went with him. I wanted to show my daughter where we'd lived, what we'd done, what our lives had been like back then.

But I didn't remember.

I mean, I recognized our old apartment building, but I didn't know which apartment had been ours. DH would point things out to me, "Oh, remember? That's the other Walmart. That's the Applebees where the Korean grad students used to drink all night." I nodded vaguely. I remembered the story, but not the restaurant.

While he was in meetings on Wednesday, I drove her out by the schools where I taught, not sure what I intended to do there, just hoping that when I saw them I would feel something.

But I didn't.

Nothing in the whole town had any meaning for me. The schools were just schools, the parks were just parks. There was no one there who would remember my name.

DH took us to dinner that night at the pizza place next to campus, where we'd only eaten once because we had gotten a giftcard for opening a bank account. The food was delicious, and it really wasn't that expensive. BG giggled all through dinner and ate half of my pasta. We bought her too many clothes at the campus book store, and we all went out for ice cream.

On the way out of town Thursday morning, our beautiful baby girl asleep in the back of our car, I lean my head on DH's shoulder. Without taking his eyes off the road, he puts a hand on my knee.

"When did we grow up?"

He raises his eyebrows. "A long time ago."

Somehow, I think, I'd been too busy to notice that until now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Her Book Club: The Rules of Inheritance

I'm not sure how to begin to write about Claire Bidwell Smith's memoir The Rules of Inheritance. My first thought is how absolutely stunning the writing is. My second thought is how hard it was to read, especially for someone to whom empathy is so automatic as it is to me.

And yet, and yet. And yet, I adored this book.

The Rules of Inheritance is a memoir of loss. It tells the story of a woman who lost her mother at 18 and her father at 25, who finds herself "unmoored" by grief, who loses herself in alcohol and relationships. It tells the story of a woman who doesn't know how to continue her life after such a tragic and inescapable loss. And yet she does.

The story is told in a non-linear manner, not progressing chronologically, but with vignettes organized according to Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. What is so fascinating about this to me is that they are in fact not chronological, that she moves through all these stages recursively, from acceptance back to bargaining to anger to depression, returning to each again and again.

This is a story of tragedy, but it is not a tragic story. It is about loss, but so much more it is about growth, about self awareness and self acceptance. This was a book which, for me, showed a path through grief. It isn't an easy path, but it is a path which leads somewhere beautiful.

And for me, above all, this is a book which reminds me what I love about language, reminds me of the power of words, of the way that the darkest moments of our lives can contain the utmost beauty. It's a book that reminds me why I love to read.

And why I love to write.

Disclosure: This is a paid review for Blog Her book Club. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Guest Post: When Kids are Sick

Do you all know Jenny? If not, you should go follow her on twitter immediately because she is one of the sweetest and most supportive people I know. She guest posted for me back in October, and I'm thrilled to have her here again talking about one of the hardest things in motherhood. Give her lots of love for me okay?

With my second daughter, I was much more prepared or so I thought. I was about to return to work after my full twelve weeks of maternity leave. We had a wonderful New Year’s Eve weekend with family and friends. Late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, my youngest Skeeter woke up moaning and groaning. My husband took her temperature under her arm, and it was 102.1. We retook her temperature rectally, and it was 102.7. We called the on call pediatrician, and we were advised to take her to the emergency room at our local Children’s Hospital. We are so blessed to have this world class facility in our area.

I don’t remember much of the drive except my mind numbing anxiety. I could not see Skeeter since she was in the car seat facing backwards. She had fallen asleep, but I was terrified that something would happen to her. I kept reaching my right arm back to touch her head and feel her breath. We were able to be seen by the doctor immediately. They thought that it could possibly be a urinary tract infection.

We had both a urinalysis and a urine culture done. The initial test came back as negative, so we went home Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. We contacted our pediatrician to set up a follow up visit with her on Monday afternoon.

We received confirmation from the test results that Skeeter did have a urinary tract infection. The hospital called in a prescription which the girls and I picked up on our way to the pediatrician. She examined Skeeter and then advised me that she wanted to have some lab work done to see if we
needed to pursue more aggressive treatment. Her white blood cell was extremely elevated, so our pediatrician decided to admit us to the hospital. Skeeter needed intravenous antibiotics to combat the infection. I remember just staring at her in disbelief and shock. She advised me to go home and pack what I needed. Our pediatrician took care of all the pre admission paperwork for us.

I dropped Munch off at my husband’s work, and Skeeter and I continued to the hospital. The care that we received was outstanding. The nurses were so compassionate and understanding. The young residents were so respectful of me as a nursing mom. They would wait outside Skeeter’s room until
she was done nursing so that they could have my full attention. Skeeter was admitted on Monday afternoon, and she went home on Thursday afternoon. It was the most terrifying experience for me as a parent. I know that we were incredibly lucky, and our hospital treats children who are critically
ill every day. I spent the majority of those days at the hospital with Skeeter; I only left once for a few hours. I felt guilty and ashamed for being so upset because so many other children were much sicker than Skeeter. I felt guilty for leaving Munch behind; we had prepared Munch for Skeeter starting at her school with her that week. I felt guilty that my mom had to come up to help me out. I felt guilty that I could not return to work as planned. Skeeter’s hospitalization was a major factor in the development of my postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

Due to Skeeter’s hospitalization, I have become very sensitive and anxious when either one of my girls are sick. Exactly a year to the day that Skeeter was hospitalized, we were back at the pediatrician’s office. We met with one of the more senior members of the practice, not our regular pediatrician. He reassured me that Skeeter was not suffering from a urinary tract infection, and he explained what he would look for in that type of infection. She was suffering from sinusitis and viral pneumonia. I was incredibly anxious, but I was able to keep my anxiety at bay by focusing on my little girl. I relied on my #ppdchat mamas to support me, and I relied on my family. I have realized that it is inevitable that my
girls will get sick. I work through my anxiety by using positive self-talk to help me work through the situation.

***Author’s Note: Skeeter suffers from VUR (vesicouretal reflux) which causes bladder reflux. She has only suffered one urinary tract infection - the one that led to her hospitalization. We continue to be monitored by the Urology clinic and go for visits every six months to monitor her progress. Her case is pretty mild so it should resolve itself by the time she is potty trained.***

Thursday, February 16, 2012


My daughter is asleep right now. She is going on three hours of nap. Which means at any second she is going to wake up.

I miss her. I am acutely and completely full of a longing to have her in my arms, curled up against my chest, my head in her hair.

And I am at the exact same moment completely full of gratitude for this time by myself, of a sense of relief for the quiet provided by this nap, and a slight but perceivable sense of dread of that moment when she is about to wake up.

I am consumed by this contradiction. I am full of the complete nonsense of it. Of the longing and the dread, of the need to both be with her and not be with her.

I dream of date nights with my husband, of nights out with friends, of long chunks of time in which to take classes, go to writing workshops, sit in silence and stare at a wall.

And I start to hyperventilate a little at the thought of being away from her.

I am shaken to my core by the wanting, by the cognitive dissonance of my desires, by my inability to reconcile the different needs. Because I want both the separateness and the togetherness, and I want them both ALL THE TIME.

There isn't a solution. There is only the saying out loud of it. And in the moment of a nap not-quite-over, all I can do is sit with the contradictions and believe that knowing this is enough.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Letting go

This morning I woke up angry. Spitting fire. Without words to describe what was going through my mind. Coffee didn't help.

BG and I had an appointment downtown to do another experiment at 9:30, and at 8:30 I realized that we weren't dressed and BG hadn't eaten. There was no way in the world to not be late. And I hate being late.

I threw clothes on us both, put her in her car seat with some Cheerios (mom of the year, right here), and booked it to the city.

The pretty young grad student met us at the gate, the same one that did our study last time. And BG sat quietly in my lap and cheerfully watched the video she was shown, only looking away a few times. A physics genius, my one year old. She grabbed the "Where's Pooh" book off the thank you gift shelf before she was even offered something. She babbled and giggled all the way to my car.

I pulled out of the parking lot. My gas light went on. BG started saying "mamamamamamama" and signing for food, both with increasing intensity. I looked at the clock and thought of how long it would take us to get home, of how much I had to do to get there. I turned corners, apologizing to my baby, listening to the petulant woman on my GPS tell me she was "recalculating" every five seconds.

And that is how I found myself in front of the botanical gardens, a furious baby in my back seat, my gas needle below empty, at 10:00 on a Wednesday morning.

And I parked my car.

Climbed into the backseat.

BG giggled when she saw me. We sat in the car and I fed her an applesauce, nursed her, and talked to her a little. Then I scooped up my now-pleasant baby, grabbed my diaper bag, and went inside.

The ticket was $12, which is a lot of money for me (I'm well aware how lame that sounds), but I didn't even pause. I grabbed a map, paid the lady and in we went.

I immediately realized I hadn't brought my stroller and my hip was getting sore, so I set BG down on the ground and let her run. At first I tried to hold her hand and read the map, but I quickly realized I wasn't the one in charge.

So I let go.

We stared at the fish. We pointed at the banzai trees. We walked around the orchid room 5 times.

Then she reached out her hand for me to take it and we walked out.

This job, of being a mom? I'm not patient enough for it. I'm not brave enough for it. I'm not strong enough for it. But this job of being my kid? BG has that one down pat.

And maybe that's all we need.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

RemembeRED: My story

I am 16 years old, kneeling by a table in the high school cafeteria, cheerfully checking someone else's English homework. A friend of hers looks at me and says, "Are you ALWAYS happy?"

I tilt my head to the side, smile and shrug one shoulder before bouncing back to my own table. There, algebra homework instead of food is spread in front of my chair. I pick at a plate of french fries someone has thrust in front of me. A friend turns to me and says "Sweetie, are you ever happy?"

I lift my eyes slowly, smile the dark, gentle smile with which she is so familiar, and shrug the same half shrug.

My memoir is a story once removed. Of other people's moments and observations. Of grief that wasn't really mine to own. Of contradictions, half truths, and tales retold so many times I can't remember which version is the Truth. My story is the story of a girl on the inside looking out and the outside looking in.

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

This week's RemembeRED prompt was to pitch your memoir in 200 words or less. I'm not sure I followed the rules, but it is what it is.

Monday, February 13, 2012


If you haven't read my blog before? Let me sum it up for you:

My kid is cute.
We don't sleep.
I have trouble making friends.
Depression sucks.
You? As a mom? Are doing fine.

There, now you don't need to read any more of my posts. You're welcome.

There has to be something else to say.

This is not me fishing for compliments. If my blog isn't boring to you, I'm so glad. Really. If it's done you any good at all, my heart is singing right now. And I want to keep doing that. I want to keep saying things that matter.

But it's boring for me.

I know I "should" write about my kid more. I mean I'm a mommy blogger, right? When was the last time I wrote about something cute my kid did?

And I somehow found my way into being a mental health blogger. Except the "real" mental health bloggers, the people who fight this every day and who try to beat off the demons with every stick available in their arsenal, they're the ones who should be talking about that. If I'm being honest, I still struggle, but I'm mostly passed that. My struggle with my brain isn't about surviving anymore, it's about growing. And thriving.

And everything I write (including this!!) sounds so self absorbed and trite. I ramble and I whine. I can't stand to read it let alone write it.

So I'm stuck. I don't know where to go next or what to do.

And I don't know. I don't know, maybe this is just me running and hiding in a corner when it starts to get hard. Maybe this is just me getting in my own way, stomping my feet, and throwing a tantrum.

But it sure feels real to me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Life's lessons: Big Dreams

  1. So that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I've had all week? Those tears I've been fighting? The running around in circles I've been doing?
  2. I want to be a writer.
  3. Saying that out loud scares the hell out of me.
  4. Which is probably why I need to say it.
  5. And if I'm being honest, I don't even know what it means.
  6. I don't know what I want to write. Or where. Or when. Or how. Or for who. Or even why.
  7. All I know is that there is this voice in the back of my head that says "I want to be a writer."
  8. And that when it does I suddenly become very interested in unloading my dishwasher. Or taking up running. Or catching up on my twitter stream.
  9. And I'm starting to realize that that resistance? Means I've hit on the right thing.
  10. The excuses and the ways out: not enough time, no money, can't take attention away from my baby, my husband needs me, my friends need me, there're other things I should be doing, it's a stupid goal, it doesn't mean anything, I don't have anything to write about, no one wants to read what I have to say, I don't know how to do it...
  11. All of that is just my mind trying to protect me.
  12. Because what if I try and I fail? What if my whole life I've had this idea in my head that if I just found the right moment and the right thing to write about I could be great, and then I try it and I find out that I'm totally wrong? That I'm no good, that I can't do it.
  13. But what if I don't?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

11 questions

The beautiful Robin from Farewell Stranger tagged me with these 11 questions, and to be honest it scared the crap out of me. I mean, I felt beyond honored that she'd think of me, but she made it pretty hard to crawl into a hole and hide, which is kind of my MO. But, she asked wonderful questions. Important questions. And, so, here it is.

What’s your superpower?

My superpower is kindness.

Is that a lame answer? There was also this time in high school when I was convinced I could read people's minds because I always knew who was going to date before they knew themselves. But I guess that's not reading people's minds as much as it is reading their reactions and responses. So I guess my superpower is being aware of people's needs and emotions. Does that count?

What blog do you never miss? (And you can’t say mine because (a) that would be BS and (b) this is not me fishing for compliments.)

If I had to pick one, it would be Rach's blog, Life Ever Since. I love her to pieces, and I make sure to read everything she writes even when I'm not as great a commenter as she is.

If I got to pick two, I would include Farewell stranger. And that's not BS, so there. :-P

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

Actually, I kind of like my name. I suppose if I had to pick another name, I like Emily. Which you all now know is not my name.

Do you consider yourself a “blogger” or a “writer”?

It's hard for me to think of myself as either. Most days, I just think of myself as someone who has a blog. My whole life I have wanted to be a writer. I think all the time about how much I "want to be" a writer.

What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?

This one was really hard for me. I haven't really failed a lot. But I haven't failed a lot because I don't do things I'm not good at. I don't take risks.

So, I guess that's my biggest failure. That I've never tried. And I guess I'm still learning from that one.

What’s the most embarrassing song in your collection?

I'm honestly not that into music. But I guess if we dig back far enough, does Alanis Morisette's "You oughta know" count?

Are you shy?

Painfully, breathtakingly shy.

How do you prioritize yourself in your own life?

Somewhere below my family and friends, but somewhere above vacuuming my carpets. This is a work in progress.

Where do you stand on chocolate?

Chocolate, in all its forms, is essential.

What’s your biggest source of inspiration (other than your family, etc.)?

I draw a lot of my inspiration from things I read or hear. Often, I'll just hear a certain phrase or offhand comment and I get a bug in my ear about it and start walking around hashing it out with myself for a day or so until I have a blog post in my head.

But I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration.

What do you hope to do this year that you’re really excited about?

Well. I don't know. And I think that's okay. I guess I am just hoping to find a direction. That's pretty darn exciting.

The rules:
You must post these rules.
Each person must post 11 things about herself on his/her blog.
Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
You must choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
Go to each blogger’s page and mention that you have tagged him/her.

So, here are my 11 questions:

1. Why do you blog? What inspired you to start?
2. What are you proudest of in your life right now?
3. What trait do you admire most in others? Why?
4. If you could meet one "big" or "famous" blogger in real life, who would it be?
5. How do you balance blogging and social media with the rest of your life?
6. What is the biggest source of support in your life? How did you find it?
7. When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
8. What would you do for fun or self care, if you could do anything you wanted?
9. If you could bring just one book with you to a desert island, what book would it be?
10. Do you prefer cake or pie?
11. What is your favorite word? Why?

And I am tagging (without any pressure) (much)

Becky at Just breathe
Jamie at James and Jax
Charity at Giggles and Grimaces
Lindsay at Lil Love and Luck
Susan at Learned Happiness
Jenn at Fox in the City
Jamie at Am I really a grownup?
Sandy at Not Just the Blues
Imperfect Momma at Really, I'm a Mom?
Jenn at So this is love

And I'm tagging Jenny. For whenever she gets her blog set up. ;)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pour Your Heart Out: Jealousy

So, you know that gorgeous, thin mom with the clean house and the perfect clothes who you love to hate? The one who always has the right kind of wipe in her diaper bag and who is involved with all the activities you said you wanted to do and always knows the right thing to say? The one who goes home every night and cries into her pillow because her marriage is falling apart and she hasn't spoken to her mom in years and she forgot to eat all day?

Oh wait, you didn't know that last part, did you? Of course you didn't.

I've seen a lot of posts lately about mean mommies, and overly perfect mommies, and how unfair and dishonest it is when people try to gloss over the hard things about being a mom, the hard things about being a human being on this planet. And I get it. I do. Being honest about that stuff? Is kinda my thing.

But I am also acutely aware that when someone cleans her house or puts on a skirt and makeup to go to the grocery store or gives her child nothing but organic, BPA free homemade food? I am 99.9% sure that it's not about you.

And before we get to the point where I know we're going. Stop. Don't feel guilty. Don't get mad at me. Because this post isn't really about you either. It's about me.

I know how easy it is to feel jealous. I write about and think about this stuff all the time, and I still do it. I look at someone who looks well put together and who is socially competent, and I feel a little crushed. "Oh, that person isn't going to understand me or be able to be my friend. She's perfect."

But you don't know. You never know. Because I'm willing to bet there are people who've looked at me and been jealous. And lordy, who would be jealous of me? I'm a mess.

It's okay to want things that other people have. It's okay to wish you had qualities you admire. It's normal to feel jealous sometimes. It's natural. It's unavoidable. But it sucks.

So, what is the answer?

The answer, as usual, is kindness. Of course it is. It's so easy for us to be kind to people who we see as inferior to us (even though, good God, we'd never admit that). It is infinitely harder to be kind to someone we see as superior to us. And I mean truly, genuinely, authentically kind, not just kissing butt so that you get something in return. I think it may be one of the hardest things in the world.

So don't be jealous of me because I can't do it either. But I'm trying. Let's try it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

In progress

Peace and purpose. That's all I've ever asked the universe for.

When I hold my snuggly sleepy baby on my tummy, pressing my nose into her hair, I can be fully engulfed by her. In that moment, I know that being her mom is one of the most important and fulfilling things I'll ever do.

But I? Am still a person. And I'm a person who has a purpose beyond "just" being a mom.

I just don't know what it is yet.

I want to create something that is beautiful. I want to help people. I want to increase the quantity of peace and love in the universe and decrease the quantity of pain. I want to do something, to make something I'm proud of. Something that is all about me and at the same time, not all about me.

I just can't quite see how to do that yet.

And that's okay.

(Deep breath)

And that's okay.

I don't have all the answers. I don't know who I am going to end up being, what I am going to end up doing. I don't know how the story ends.

I am a work in progress. A beautiful, delicate work in progress.

And right now? That's not such a bad thing to be.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life's lessons: on self care

  1. I am not good at self care.
  2. I am not good at not being good at things.
  3. I know in my head that in order to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good friend, I need to be good to myself also.
  4. But I don't necessarily know how to do that.
  5. I mean, last week I bought myself a slice of chocolate cake at the grocery store. And that made me pretty darn happy.
  6. But what I'm talking about is finding things to do that make me feel like a real, whole person, and not just someone's mom.
  7. People tell me the solution is to find something to do that's just for me, to do something I enjoy, and I get more and more frustrated.
  8. And I'm realizing that's because I don't know what to do.
  9. And when I think about it, this is a problem that goes back much further than my tenure as a mom.
  10. What I really need is a good hobby. And a passion. And an interest. Y'know, if you see any of those just kind of lying around.
  11. On Thursday, I got so frustrated with my own lack of self care that I laced up my shoes, threw the baby in my BRAND NEW Baby Jogger (thanks, DH), and went for a run.
  12. With a hacking, phlegmy cough and a potential fever. I got to the end of the block and turned around before my lungs exploded.
  13. Have I mentioned I'm not so good at this yet?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When no one's clapping

When BG had just turned one, we managed to teach her to hold up one finger. When we would ask her either "How old are you?" or "Are you one?" She would hold up one finger and say "DA!" with a huge smile on her face.

I remember telling one of my friends, "I'm almost certain she doesn't know what it means, but she knows that when she does it we cheer, so she does it. It's like I'm teaching her to do tricks, i.e., this is the secrete to education."

He laughed and said, "Well, isn't that the way it is all through life? You work hard for the grades, and then for the girl, and then for the job and the raise?"

I smiled and said, "Well yeah, so how do you know you've done a good job if no one claps?" And I thought about it for a second. "Actually. That's the secret to education."

The secret to education, and I suppose to parenting, is to eventually make yourself irrelevant. To teach them how to learn, to self-monitor, to evaluate. To make it so they don't need the clapping to know when they've done the right thing.

I win at teaching. Maybe I even win at parenting. But I don't so much win at life.

I still need the clapping. Actually, I need it a lot.

But I always got the A's. The awards. I never interviewed for a job I didn't get. I won teacher of the year. I have thank you letters from students that take my breath away.

When I was in high school, my friends threw me a party to thank me for taking care of them and helping them with their problems. That doesn't even sound real.

It's normal to need to feel appreciated and respected. It's human. It's healthy. And maybe I'm not getting enough of that these days. But, at some point, I need to learn to do it without the clapping.

I take criticism way too hard, and I take rejections way too personally. I don't know that I'm doing a good job unless someone is handing me a prize. I measure my worth as a human being on things like my blog stats and my twitter mentions. I beg for approval and stroking.

I hate that about myself.

(Yes. I hate my own low self esteem. No, that's probably not even the most counter-productive thought I've had today.)

I want to be the kind of person who can separate her own worth from other people's opinions of her. I want to care about and try to address other people's needs, but not be owned by them. I want to take pride in things I do, even when no one notices them. I want to believe that I am good and smart and have value, that I matter.

I don't know how to do that.