I see you.
You wake up each day, get your kids fed, dressed and off to school (most days on time or just as the bell rings). You manage to juggle the chores and to-do lists, course-correct when your middle schooler forgets the poster board for his class assignment (that of course is due tomorrow) and even try out a new recipe for dinner because your mommy friends shared how easy it was in the Instant Pot (note to self: I NEED the Instant Pot!).
You do ALL THE THINGS for everyone except for...YOU!
Yup! I said it, you take care of everyone except for Y-O-U! I know, I do it too and I'm here to say, it's time to put YOU back on the "list" especially when it comes to your health. You've heard the saying, "If Mama ain't happy..." well, I would like to change that to, "If Mama ain't healthy...nothing else matters!"
For the past few years, I have made it my goal during my birthday-month (yes, I do celebrate all month and YOU should too!) to schedule all of my doctor appointments, yearly check ups and do a mental "check in" on myself. I have also made it a new habit to invest in ME by attending a self-development conference each year as my birthday gift to myself. This year, I chose to attend BlogHerHealth19 in LA and I'm so glad that I did! It was a sisterhood of 700+ women coming together to connect, collaborate and more than anything, communicate about anything and everything related to women's health. There were very open discussions about mental, emotional and physical health from panels of expert doctors, activists, entrepreneurs and business owners. Speakers took the stage to talk about our breasts, vaginas and orgasms, oh my! But this is exactly what we need to talk about, without embarrassment or apology: our bodies! There were many "ah ha" moments for me during this conference and here are my top three that I'd like to share with you:
How can we expect to be our best versions of ourselves: mind, body & soul, if we don't talk about our bodies. We have to use our words about our mental and physical health. We need to SPEAK UP if we find a lump in our breasts, or have an issue with bladder leakage (yeah, there's now a product for that!) or we are scared about the options of birth control. Amy Ziering, co-producer of "The Bleeding Edge" shared the brave story of Ana Fuentes and how Essure destroyed her body and nearly took her life. She is one of thousands with the same story. "Women are continually told they're inadequate, they need to buy these products to feel better, look better, be better...that has got to change," shared Amy Ziering. We need to SPEAK UP for ourselves and others about our bodies, our needs, our desires. Sit still, be quiet and look pretty should NOT be our dialogue and it definitely is NOT what we should be teaching our daughters. "Empowered women, empower women" that is and should forever be our motto!
It is also time that we SPEAK UP, use our words to really talk about our vaginas, sexual needs and dare I say, orgasm. That's right, I learned that there is an "orgasm gap" with women and we need to learn to speak up about our personal pleasure. If we don't, how will we ever have these important conversations with our teenage daughters and sons? We need to talk about sex! After all, it's how most of us became parents, right? We need to say what feels good and what doesn't. We need to ask our doctors and healthcare providers real questions about our sexual health and we need to have these conversations with other women so that we can change this culture of "oh, we don't talk about that" to "I'm so glad we can talk about this!"
I was very moved by a conversation with olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber. Jordyn shared that because other teammates took a stand against her abuser, Larry Nasser, she found the courage to do the same. It took such bravery to stand up against the long-time team doctor in a courtroom. Jordyn stood up against him and sent a message to the world that she would not suffer in silence anymore. "As an Olympian, as a leader in the sport of gymnastics, I felt that I had a responsibility to protect future girls who want to do this sport," shared Jordyn. She went on to say that, "I was able to take something horrible that happened to me and turn it into a positive by being a voice for others" continued Jordyn.
I was also honored to have a sit down with Alyssa Milano. I asked her as a mom, how do we keep the conversation open about the #MeToo Movement in a healthy, positive way with our teenage daughters and sons. Alyssa shared, "I think these lessons can be taught at a younger age...my kids are four and seven and we use the word consent a lot in our house, not in a sexual way, but in a way of 'did you ask your sister for permission?' I think we teach these lessons way too late in life. My daughter says, 'I don't have to do anything with my body that I don't want to do' that's because I've said that to her before. I think we are in a very unique time because we are talking about it," shared Alyssa.
In today's digital world of "connection" it is so important to take time to actually "show up" in person. Samantha Skey, CEO, SheMedia and BlogHerHealth creator, shared with me that they partner with strong brands so that they can offer an affordable ticket price so that women from all backgrounds can attend in an intimate space. It was very inspiring to be able to be surrounded by so many women of all ages, ethnicities and business backgrounds. I also felt by "showing up" I was able to really connect with some amazing new sister-friends and talk about our health in a safe and supported space.
Samantha Skey and Voices of the Year Award winners
And, more than anything YOU need to Show Up for YOUR Health! February is Heart Health Month and while writing this blog I had a heart incident that started as palpitations. I made it a priority to go in and get a heart check up and YOU should too! As women, our signs for heart attack and stroke are very different from men. Listen to your body and don't ignore if something doesn't feel right (note: stay tuned for update on my heart check up!). Again, it's another example as to why we have to put OUR HEALTH back on the list! And, as we continue the celebration for the month of L-O-V-E, I encourage you to practice self love and choose to speak up, stand up and show up for Y-O-U! Practice some much-needed self care and take time to love yourself.
So Mama, can YOU make a commitment to put yourself back on the "to-do" list? Yeah, #metoo