Dark Night of the Soul


Lately, I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks.  Things are changing in my life much swifter than I ever anticipated.

6 weeks ago, my day to day life had been content and happy and so many times I would be sitting or driving or working and think “I love my life.”  I was so content and at peace with my choices and the direction my life was going.

Unfortunately, one conversation, 15 short minutes, shook me to my absolute core.  From that moment on, nothing has been the same.  6 weeks in, I am down 20 pounds, I can barely eat.  I have thoughts of self harm (which I would never act on), but just having the thoughts are so painful and frightening.  I wake up during the night shaking and crying, in uncontrollable panic attacks.  Even with medication from my doctor, they still over take me and rush me out into a frenzied swirl of overwhelm and terror.  Mt mind says mean things to me and it is hard to get past those voices to the ones that are true and loving.  Some nights, I can’t get there and I have to rely on sheer will power and faith to make it through.

I know I am doing all the right things, seeing my therapist twice a week, going to my doctor regularly.  I am working on reaching out for support. Even more recently, branching out to more people because I know it is overwhelming,  If I am feeling so lost and unsure, I know that for people who know me it can be a shock and difficult to reconcile who I am in this moment (raw and hurting) with my authentic self.

Struggling to accept that even this person who is hurting so deeply, is still my authentic self, just another aspect….is painful.

It feels like a betrayal to wake up gasping for air, body on fire, chest burning, body shaking.  When did I become the woman who is unable to cope, unable to manage all things and do it happily?  I am angry, I feel robbed of that person and I have no idea how to get back to her.

My friends tell me that I am doing it.  That I am walking through a “dark night of the soul”.  I wish I could see it as this growth journey.  But I feel like I am shrinking, literally and figuratively.  My personality feels so dulled that I don’t recognize myself.  I hear people telling me all the comforting things I say to others, that I believe wholeheartedly.  But right now, I feel undeserving, un-loveable and all around un-tolerable to be around.

I am aware this will pass, and that I am safe even with destructive thoughts, I am self-aware enough to NEVER act on them.  But I feel like this is an important conversation to have.  to share our pain and struggle is to maybe comfort another who is going through the same, or went through the same.

You are not alone.  All the strong ones go through a Dark Night of the Soul.  For some of us, it is a night, for others months.  But either way, we absolutely MUST be exactly where we are supposed to me.  I am clinging to that truth.  This is exactly the right thing in this moment even though it hurts so much.

In Just the Right Moment,


Random Shit


Today I was listening to the podcast Insights at the Edge with Tami Simon, her guest was Brene Brown.  You can listen by clicking HERE. As I was listening, I was reminded of not so many years ago when asked the question “what do you like to do?” my mind would go blank, panic would creep in and deep down inside I knew this was a terrible state to be in.  To not know ones own self, not even to be able to definitively say I like “BLAH”.  It was very frightening for me.

Many years of my life were pure survival, just getting through.  Instead of telling you the things I WANTED, I could only see the things I did not want, but were coming through loud and clear.  Fear, Loss, Worry, Grief.  Those were the standard emotions in my life.  Or at least, the ones I was so desperately trying to avoid, that they were the only ones showing up. 

As I listened to Brene talk about vulnerability, “showing up” and being willing to “get in the arena” I thought back to those times when I couldn’t even tell you what I liked.  Much less where I was supposed to  show up or even which arena I was supposed to be in.  Those were scary times, even thinking back on those times can feel frightening. 

Today, I am all in.  I am in the ring, I am in the arena, I am showing up and allowing myself to be vulnerable. I know what I like, and even better: I have NO IDEA what I like; so I will try lots of things.  While I am busy trying lots of things I am learning about myself.  Figuring out where my comfort zone is and then blowing that thing up.  I live on the edge of terror and elation. If you aren’t at least a little bit scared, don’t bother.  :) 

Because I am willing to try things and be afraid and am willing to fail,  I have been able to:

*Stand up in front of strangers, and even worse, people I love and admire and talk about my weight and loving my body just as it is
*At 260 pounds, I completed a triathalon….dead freaking last, they were literally packing up when I finished, but I fucking finished. 
*write workshops on body acceptance (even though I have ZERO formal training)
*I participated in a Native American Sweat. (You can read about that HERE.)
*Write this blog for anyone who cares to peek inside
*get up and live my life even though I gained back all the weight I had lost (which can be really shameful) and the fact that I just shared that…whoa.

But the key to finding all of that out, being brave and finding out what you like and do not like was put into sharp focus for me this weekend. 

I was having breakfast with a friend who has known me my whole entire life, and we were discussing my new scarf.  The one I had arm knitted the day before.  I had never arm knitted before, but I got the idea in my head (Thank you Pinterest) that this was something I could do and rope a few friends into doing with me.  Truthfully, I did not do such a great job.  But seriously, since it was the first time, and I totally winged the ending and since I just basically knotted the ends together to make it an infinity scarf, I say “Well Done” and I am wearing the heck out of it loose strands and all.  And then a magical thing happened…while discussing the scarf, my friend looks at me and he says “Yeah, I thought you made it, you are always doing some random shit.”



The light bulb flashed on! 

Doing RANDOM SHIT is the key to everything! 

How do you know what you like unless you have tried it?  How do you know something is amazing and exactly your thing, unless you have experienced it?  How do you know what you should never, ever do again unless you have done it?

Random shit is the key to life, people. 

It helps that whilst doing random shit, you are genuinely curious and are ferociously kind to yourself, because for goodness sake, this is your FIRST TIME. 

You cannot muck up anything so much that a huge smile and a good belly laugh cannot fix. Oh, and a nice long string of swears. 

I cannot wait to see what RANDOM SHIT I do this next year.  I promise to tell you all about it and I hope hope hope, you tell me all your RANDOM SHIT TOO!

Smiling, swearing and belly laughing the whole time,


Does your life have a theme?


My life goes through themes.  Times when I hear or see something and it becomes THE THEME of my life.

Currently, my theme is:
“Food does NOT have a moral value.”
I have no idea when that sunk into my brain, but its been popping up constantly. How many times have I said out loud and in my head, something to the effect of:
“I have to be good today:
I can’t have dessert
better pack my lunch
need to eat a salad
diet soda only
I shouldn’t have creamer in my coffee”
Then depending on my actual choice, I feel good or bad about myself.
Once you become aware of this ‘food makes me good or bad’ occurrence in your own mind, you will start to notice it everywhere!  TV shows, commercials, at lunch with pretty much any woman, every recipe that allows comments, in how we describe food.  Oh man, how we describe food….think about that for a second.  Desserts are sinful, naughty, over indulgent…etc.
FOOD does not make me good or bad.  Being FAT does not make me good or bad.  Eating food does not make me good or bad.  NOT eating food does not make me good or bad.
Know what makes me good: being alive, being kind to myself, being me. 
That is pretty much it.
Know what would make me bad:  being dead.  
That is pretty much it.  
Same for you.  So don’t be dead.
Also, take notice of when you or people around you attribute a moral value to food.  Speak up, say “food doesn’t have a moral value, it’s just food.” 
Delicious delicious food.
Eat up,

The Real Life Exhibit on Monroe Street


I call my home “The Real Life Exhibit on Monroe Street”.  These are snippets of conversations that took place last night:

Aunti Suz to Grace while discussing dating: “Do as we say, not as we did.”

Suz and I: “That was so fun.”

Sam in regards to dinner:  “I hate spaghetti.”  Me: “Damn liar.”

Me to Sam after hearing a strange beeping sound during a conversation I was having  with Grace: “What are you doing Sam?”  No answer.  Me: “Stop recording this conversation right now.”  Sam: “Oh fine.”  Me to Grace:  “Holy crap, we are going to have to be WAY more careful when we talk now that Sir Spies A Lot is here.”

Me to Grace:  “Did you know Grandma used to call Suzi and I Lucy and Ethel?”

Grace:  “Why is school so hard?”  Me:  “I don’t know, I never cared as much as you do.”

Sam: “That fart sounded like a machine gun!”

Text from my niece Ari who lives in Arizona: “Your kids seem to be getting along tonight via snap chat.”  Me: “I snuck upstairs when I heard them talking nicely to each other, I didn’t want to accidentally break the spell.” Ari: “One of the videos you are in the background and it says “Sam’s farting noises ft. Mom”. “

Welcome to the Real Life Exhibit on Monroe Street Bitches,


The Struggle


The last two weeks have been a mixed bag of the blues, eating ice cream for dinner, going to bed early and general malaise. 

And then a day or two ago I saw a Facebook post by Jes Baker of  The Militant Baker that said

Depression for four weeks straight really hinders productivity.
Yknow what I mean?

Know what is super crazy?  I DO know what you mean.  For the last two weeks I have been unsuccessfully trying to ignore  a small spat of depression.  In the ignoring, I just keep tripping over it.  Like the cat that wants to be fed or loved, it weaves between your feet as you walk until you finally succumb and acknowledge your kitty and feed or love her. 

Well, depression, I acknowledge you, I love you and I will feed you acceptance and curiosity as to why you are hanging around my feet.  I will get to the bottom of your desire to be in my life at this time and I will be just fine. 

I will stop staring at my tummy roll thinking  “Gross”  or “Ew”* and then flopping onto my side in bed and watching Harry Potter movies with the tv sleep timer on until I fall asleep without having made the kids lunches for school tomorrow or even bothering with picking up the house or brushing my teeth after eating ice cream for dinner straight from the container, with a fork because none of our spoons are clean and I am to lazy to wash one.

To much? 

To bad! Because this shit and MUCH WORSE can happen during bouts of depression.  I find that it is when I ignore or JUDGE myself harshly for having a feeling that isn’t perky goodness, kindness, helpfulness or presenting the fully capable image of a woman who does it all; that I start to fall apart. 

When I read the FB post by Jes Baker, I had an “A-HA!” moment.  I thought…”OMG, I am depressed!  Hallelujah!” 

First, I identified that I was feeling depressed, which had not occurred to me. I thought I was just lazy and pitiful.    

Second, I was excited to see someone who I admire admit to feeling depressed and yet I still see her doing amazing things everyday.  (For those who do not know; Jes Baker organizes and creates The Body Love Conference, this is it’s second year and she is in the midst of meetings and planning and prepping for the big to-do and posts it on FB).  I felt so hopeful in that moment, and so NOT ALONE.  Which is depressions go-to emotion (for me).  So, what I found, is that I can be depressed and still be amazing.  Just because I FEEL like a big lump on a log, I am NOT a big lump on a log. 

Through therapy, I have realized that when things do not go as I THINK they should, that I have a tendency to berate myself.  For example, I like to pack my kids lunches the night before.  When I do not pack my kids lunches the night before, I just pack them in the morning. Same lunch, nothing different except the time that I prepare them. And yet, I judge myself harshly for not having done it the night before.  When I go to bed at night without the lunches made, I say mean things to myself for not packing their lunches. 

Stupid, yes.  My reality, yes.  But, when I realize that is how I operate: things not just so, oh well, let’s talk to mean to myself (because that ALWAYS makes it better). Knowing that is how I work, then I am able notice it faster and can stop myself from saying the mean things.  Instead of laying in bed thinking “I suck.” “Good God I am LAZY.”    I can lay in bed and say “Hey, I heard what you just said about me. Cram it. I made it through today, and that is pretty darn good.” 

For me, once I acknowledged my small bit of depression** it really helped alleviate some of it.  I acknowledged its presence in my life, I identified the feeling and it was liberating.  It did not make it go away, but it had a name and I am able to say it and work through it and still be awesome. 

Last night, I packed the kids lunches before I went to bed and it felt like a victory.

Lunch Lady,


*Because Jimmy Fallon really needs to happen in your life right now.  EW!

**Please know, depression is not something to be trifled with, it is scary and powerful and can convince of us of all sorts of not-true things.  This phase I am in, it is depression, but a mild case and I am not suggesting that it can easily be removed by just acknowledging it and “getting over it.”  I personally take medication and see a therapist on a regular basis to assist in managing my life, emotions and to work through my CRAP.  And OH, do I have crap.  So, reach out, talk to friends and professionals and find the way that is right for you.

What Am I Doing?


Sometimes, I have to just shake my head and think to myself “Gabbi Joy, what in the world are you doing?”  Gabbi Joy is the name my mom used to call me when I was in some sort of trouble.  I heard it often. 

I have been single for awhile now, and really, really enjoy it.  Which, seems so wrong because as a single woman if I am not actively seeking a man, well, then WHAT KIND OF SUBVERSIVE CRAZY PERSON AM I??? 

Apparently, I am the subversive crazy person who loves to read books and not be bothered, (except by my children, and let’s be honest, if the book is good, even that is iffy) I like to eat ice cream straight from the container (why dirty a dish?), I like to throw my clothes around and be kind of slobby in my own bedroom, I like to wear sweats to bed with no judgment, I like to do exactly as I please, even if that means binge watching Netflix once in awhile (ok, at least once a week), playing pickleball on Monday nights, having a quick coffee with a friend which turns into 3 hours, but whatever, I like doing EXACTLY AS I PLEASE. 

I have zero desire to date with zero fucks given.

Except I must give some kind of fuck, because I have the (what feels) obligatory online dating profile. 

Let me tell you, if you really have no desire to date, a dating website is like the ugly underbelly of dating world and is really not the place you should be lurking.

Here is the rundown:

White Guy who looks like Dave Chappelle:  No, I do not want to “ram” you with anything, stop messaging me.

Dude who keeps messaging me even though I NEVER EVER ANSWER:  Stop. Just, stop.

Man who likes to talk about his foot fetish, could I wear nylons to our coffee date:  Nope, and coffee date was cancelled.  Not because I judge a foot fetish, but because we are just having coffee, I have no idea if you are pantyhose worthy or not.  Seriously, slow down Tiger.

Guy who continuously uses “Fun” as a euphemism for “just sex”:  Yuck.  Double Yuck.

Super young guy:  Just, no.

That was just in the last two days. 

It might be a sign that I need to remove the “obligatory” profile so I don’t look at every man and think, “Are you the weirdo who messaged me? Given anonymity what would you say to a woman?”  and then cringe a little. 

I need to restore my faith in men, by abstaining from men on dating sites. 

On a positive note:  I have ice cream in the freezer, sweats and Bob’s Burgers premieres on Sunday. 

Life is sweet.

Tina is my Patronus,


Things that make me SOOO Happy


1. I got a text that right now, in my mailbox, awaits an Ipsy bag.  Just dying for me to come home, rip it open and TRY ALL THE THINGS!  Ok, 5 things, but still it is GREAT!

2. My black nails with my cool ring that I look at as I type.  SQUEEEE

3. My niece reminded me that it is now FALL and so I pulled out my knee high boots and wore those bad boys with some leggings.  yep, I did.

4. It is FALL.  Friday night is the Homecoming game, which I never went to as an actual high schooler, but sure go now. 

5. A free Blow out from the Aveda Spa.

6. This Saturday is Festival Palomino and I get to see my super secret boyfriends Trampled by Turtles. Shhh, they don’t know they are all my boyfriend yet.

7. Watched my first 1.5 episodes of Dr. Who with my little man, Samtastic.  He loved it, but got to sleepy to stay up for the whole second episode.  To be continued…

8. I am excited for book club which I host at my house the 4th Thursday of the month. 

9. Henna Art! 

10. Fun science-y museum-y stuff!  Social Science at Science Museum of Minnesota, grown up fun!

11. Apple Fests, cool weather, new recipes….

Happy girl,


Losing Sleep


Twice this week I have laid in bed unable to sleep, tossing and turning.  Drafting arguments in my head, mustering moral outrage and banging my head against my pillow in frustration over some peoples views about raising the minimum wage.

My personal belief is that anyone who works full time should not be forced to live in poverty.  They should not be forced to rely on social safety nets (aka welfare) to provide for themselves or their families. They should not be forced to choose between food/medicine/housing/clothing in order to survive.  That is my belief as a humanist and  human being who cares deeply for others and believes strongly that we should do our part to help others so that they can help themselves.

Lately, I have seen deeply troubling propaganda stating “burger flippers” deserve to live in poverty.  Specifically, the memes/rants that compare “burger flippers” salary to that of a soldier.  First, let me state, soldiers are also underpaid individuals, I am not arguing that.  What I am arguing is that a soldiers salary is incomparable to a person making minimum wage.  A person making minimum wage will pay for their healthcare, if it is even offered.  A person making minimum wage does not receive a housing voucher.  A person making minimum wage is taxed on their income. 

Those arguments aside, this is a smoke screen tactic, Classic Propaganda.

Either corporations can pay their employees a livable wage OR the taxpayers can subsidize their income via the use of social safety nets (aka welfare programs).  Of course, corporations LOVE and highly encourage the use of these social programs because it helps their bottom line.  Not only are they enjoying corporate tax breaks, their employees are subsidized by taxpayers.  Sounds like a win/win for corporations and a loss for all taxpayers, especially their employees (who also pay taxes). 

McDonalds even has a help line for their employees to call for help. On this line,  they are advised to use food stamps and other welfare programs to make ends meet.  They literally PAY an employee to direct other employees on how to utilize social programs rather than pay their employees a livable wage! 

McDonalds also put out a “budget” to assist employees in their personal lives.  Suggesting such things as not using a gardener, taking two vacations a year and living without heat.  Stephen Colbert gave a scathing review of McDonald’s “budget” in this clip.  Clearly, McDonalds is out of touch with their workers and the reality of living on a minimum wage salary. 

McDonalds is not the only corporation taking advantage of its workers and the taxpayers.  All you have to do is watch the news to see this goes on everyday in corporate America. 

Again, American workers who work full time should not be forced to live in poverty.  At $8.00 an hour, in the Twin Cities area, just to pay rent in a one bedroom apartment, a person would need to work 100 hours, after taxes.  That leaves very little left over for food, transportation to work, clothing, heat, electricity etc. 

I imagine when unions were just starting to form in this country it looked like this struggle.  Factory workers were forced to work for a pittance, worked long hours, children were forced into factories and sweatshops.  Thankfully, the labor unions were formed and turned the tides to assist the American worker.  Today is just the same.  You may not value the work a minimum wage worker does and view it as “unskilled” but, many years ago, factory workers/steel workers, etc. were also considered “unskilled labor”.  Today, they are the backbone of our country.  We need to recognize the value of these workers and demand they be paid a livable wage.  “Low Pay Is Not Ok”

Click the link for more information on Low Pay Is Not Ok.

As I laid in bed crafting this blog in my head, I was reminded of the quote:

“If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”  Author Unknown. 

Well, I am paying attention and I hope you will as well.  Be vocal, call out propaganda when you see it, find your own way to help with this important issue.

Outraged and Definitely Paying Attention,


Sacred Space


This weekend, I spent quality time cleaning my bedroom.  Turning it from a cluttered, catch all for everything, into a place for me to enjoy, luxuriate and indulge myself.

It was a two day process devoted solely to my own comfort and happiness.  Hanging up clothes, getting rid of ones I don’t wear, don’t fit or were just plain old worn out.  Looking at my books, organizing them, being surprised all over again by the lovely book collection I own and remembering the books I always meant to read.  Handling knick knacks and gifts given, pictures and treasures found and putting them on display to delight myself all over again. 

Wiping down my nightstand tables, placing the necessary flotsam and jetsam in a distressed white wooden basket, handy and accessible for my nighttime rituals.  The collection of hairpins and ponytail holders corralled and centrally located.  Lip gloss and nail clippers expectantly waiting their turn to be used.  A lovely book left on the night stand, turned just so. 

Candles placed and lit, there will be no waiting to use the things I love.  A special place for my incense, the wafting smoke creating interesting shapes, whirling and wafting their lovely scents. 

Pictures straightened, wood floors swept, bed made enticingly, fluffy and my Grandpa Blankey ready to comfort me while I slumber.

I am finding new ways to show self-love.  Making special places just for pleasures sake.  Comforting myself with my own lovely things.

All for my own pleasure,


Swirly Thoughts


The other day I posted on twitter..oops, tweeted,

“I wonder if thin women think about being thin as much as I think about being fat?”

Pretty much every hour of every day I have thoughts about my body, size, what I am eating, what I weigh and how I look.

Is this a preoccupation that other women have? Since I am only in my own brain, I have no idea what is “normal” and what is not. 

Lately, I have taken to wondering, if these thoughts were removed or even cut in half, what else would my mind have the time and space to ruminate on?

What amazing thoughts could I have?  What mysteries of life could I contemplate?  Which tangles would unknot themselves and release just with the power my brain uses thinking about being fat?

Then I saw this:

What struck me was being “strung out on perfectionism and  people-pleasing”. 

I am strung out on being fat and thoughts of my body/food/makeup/clothes/shoes.

Strung out. 

How do you stop the swirling thoughts and obsessive thinking?

No idea. 

But instead of being discouraged and trying to shut my brain off (which in my experience just ramps up the out of control thoughts), I have decided to change the tone of my thoughts.  For the most part, here is what it sounds like in my brain:

Hmm, I love her outfit, but I bet my belly would hang down in it, I bet the cellulite in my inner thighs would show through the material.  I have a super cute necklace to wear with that.  I should have put on some mascara.  Where could I wear that? What would people think if I wore that? You know, being fat and wearing a dress in public with make up and cute hair with a flower in it is really a radical act as a fat woman.  Radical in that, calling attention to your beauty, as a fat woman, opens you up for commentary from any person on the street.  I want to be radical…hey, I kind of am radical. Scared, but radical.

That is the commentary in my brain.  All day long.

Then I saw this:

IDGAF post from Jezebel.  The premise: I don’t give a fuck what you think about ANYTHING I do.

My heart sang out when I read that.  My life motto is “I Do Exactly As I Please.” So this article: Hallelujah!

If the thoughts won’t stop, I can absolutely change the quality and tone of those thoughts. 

Then I saw this:

The Militant Baker’s Body Positive Book Club for One

And don’t you know, I went onto my libraries website and ordered EVERY SINGLE FUCKING ONE THEY HAD.

Yep.  I am planning a day or two of just reading, immersing myself in some seriously Body Positive shit.  Making some signs to put up in my house to aid in keeping my thoughts RADICAL and BAD ASS and LOVING THE HECK OUT OF MYSELF! 

A few weeks ago I had a cranio-sacral appointment and I was told that my mantra is “I love and accept myself exactly as I am, I am deserving of all things good that this world has to offer.”  And then my practitioner told me to say it out loud…

I felt my throat close. I felt the sides of my esophagus puff and swell and trap the words just below my neck.   It actually hurt, physically, my throat was clamped tight, determined to not let those words out.

I was furious.  I teach a fucking class on loving your body and my own throat betrays me by refusing to open up so the words can come out.  I could not say them. I was a mute laying on the table. 

I felt horrible.  I felt like a trickster, a charlatan, a snake oil salesman hocking my wares of self love and acceptance.  Here I was, unable to say the words out loud when it was completely about me.  I knew I needed to write about it and work it through. And I realized, that right there, RIGHT THERE is the struggle. 

To acknowledge that there are times when my brain swirls, that I am pre-occupied with being fat, that there are times I cannot even bring myself to say that I am deserving of all good things, that I love myself just as I am, that sometimes I look in the mirror or at pictures and I HATE what I see.  That there are times I consider not doing something because of my size.

Those things/thoughts/feelings happen.  And THAT IS OK.  For real, it’s ok.  Have those thoughts, see them, acknowledge them and let them go.  Or in other words…FUCK THAT SHIT. 

It happens, move on, be bad ass, do that shit anyways and know you are struggling and still ok through the struggle.  That, in struggle, is where the real work is done.

I tell my son on a regular basis “I know you are scared, but if you were never scared, you would never get to be brave.”

The take away for me is this:  dive in to body positive material, find a few new mantras, give your brain some really delicious thoughts to ruminate on that lift me up and allow me to love myself just as I am, and then spread that shit around. 

Who is joining me?

Libraries ROCK,