All posts filed under: Our Stories / Thoughts / Opinions

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A Former Babysitter’s Letter of Gratitude to Parents Pursuing the Arts

I’ve worn hard hats, head to toe hazmat suits, cowgirl boots and one time for about fifty minutes, I wore nothing at all but quickly decided that wasn’t the job for me. I’ve served pizza, diner food, Italian food while singing show tunes, and scooped gelato. I’ve filed, transcribed, answered phones and worked at the front desk of a trendy hair salon. I’ve cleaned vending machines early in the morning, sold a dating service over the phone, worked in a bread factory and packaged dried fruit. But of all the jobs I’ve taken over the years in order to supplement my income as a singer, actor and writer, my favorite, by far, was babysitting. I really only ever babysat for people I knew who were also pursuing the arts in one form or another and I’ve written a letter to thank them because now that I think about it, it must be really hard to make art and raise kids. Dear parents pursuing careers in the arts, One of the greatest gifts I received while …

Courage to Start

  Ever since I did my first triathlon at age 13, I said that “someday” before I turned 30, I would do a full Ironman triathlon. Someday was July 26. I traveled to one of my favorite places in the world, Vancouver, British Columbia and competed in the Ironman Canada. Over 15 years ago I committed to making my personal challenge, and over nine months ago I joined Team In Training, to give birth to my dream. An Ironman is a triathlon that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run, a daunting task.  It takes months of training, focus, and determination. Throughout this journey I have met incredible people, reconnected with old friends, raised money for a cause I believe in, and pushed myself and my teammates to achieve our dreams. During the training season, we each swam over 175 miles (1/2 the distance from here to San Francisco), rode our bikes 2,221 miles (that will get you from LA to Chicago) and ran over 662 miles, for a grand total of over …

An Ode to Love, Adventure, Life, Together.

10 August, 2015.  Late morning, inspiration.   The month of August here at Project:Women is dedicated to “Travels, Adventures, and Time for Self”.  This story wasn’t the one I was planning to write.  Not at all… but sometimes you just have to go with the flow of the mysterious muse and let it happen. This morning I read a beautiful post that Jamie B. wrote in honor of the wedding anniversary of my husband and I, and it inspired me so deeply that I sat down to write.  Those are the moments we dream of, as writers.  For the words to just flow out, naturally and quickly.  Ha, come to think of it, it’s rather like birthing a baby.  You desire for it to be quick and pain-free, but often it isn’t.  Often it is a labor of love (and of course childbirth is literally that!)  But no matter how easily or not-so-easily those words may come out, it is yet another kind of challenge to share them.  To share the words of the heart is to …

Why Modern Feminists Are #NotTakenSeriously

Equality is a feat that women have been working towards for years; we are constantly evolving through waves of feminist activists who bravely fight for our rights.   We are women and we want to be taken serious.  We wanted to vote, we made it happen.  We wanted to work outside of the home, we made it happen.  We want to be seen as strong, independent women, and every day we work to make that happen.  We have come so far, yet we haven’t quite made it to the finish line.  Equal pay, equal opportunities, we simply want equality where equality is deserved.  We are women so here us roar!    ..right?  Or are we growling so loudly that we are scaring everyone who can hear us? FEMINISTS are not.  EXTREMISTS are. I have been hesitant in the past to call myself a feminist.  I would hear the word and visualize women burning their bras and marching around DC naked.  I would think about women who refuse to wear dresses and women who hate men.  I …

Out of the Mind and into the Heart: Your Self-Care Toolkit

I don’t know about you, but I wish I could control things. The amount of time I have spent obsessing about the future and worrying about the people I love can be embarrassing. I admit this because I am in the life-long process of becoming more gentle with myself and my experience. No matter what our current circumstances are, we all share the existential dilemma of having to deal with the “great unknown” on a daily basis. We try to mold it, shape it, control it, wish it away, ignore it, etc, but we are usually left with the foggy notion that we missed something. How do we shift back into our bodies, fully experiencing the beauty of the present? Because I have struggled with anxiety, insomnia, and perfectionism in my life, I believe I have been led to practice and share yoga and invite other women to come along for the journey out of the chitta vritti (fluctuations of the mind) and into the freshness of the present moment and the space of the heart. …

We don’t care for them because we love them

In The Philosophical Baby, philosopher and psychologist Alison Gopnik says this:  “It’s not so much that we care for children because we love them, as that we love them because we care for them.” I first felt the truth of this statement when my daughter was around two months old. It was a golden October afternoon. My daughter was fussing. For her, it was a clear sign that she needed to nap. Badly. I cradled her. I shushed her. I rocked her. I hummed to her—all in an effort to help her understand that she was tired. I even told her, “Shhh… You’re tired.” Within a few minutes, her eyes fluttered and then closed. I watched her peaceful face for a few moments. God, I love this child, I thought. But a shadow fell on that moment—because I knew that it hadn’t always been that way. The cliché is that a mother’s love is born the moment a child is laid into her arms. For me, there was certainly a euphoria that delivery was over …

Reflections

They say the first year of marriage is the hardest … even the first few months have proven to be challenging. Often, we write about the peaks of our relationship milestones, but in the in-between — “in the meantime” — there are valleys you dip into, plateaus you endure and straight up sheer cliffs you fall off of from time to time. And these are the times when you have to face things, walk the plank, stare at your own reflection … and deal.

Fathers Share Their Thoughts and Advice

This past Father’s Day, we asked a question on our social media:  “What do you love about being a dad, and what advice would you give to a new father?” Here are the wonderful responses from our community of men…   What do I love about being a dad? Seeing your children discover the world with innocent eyes. The pure joy, kindness and humor they exhibit never cease to amaze me. It’s not all fun and games though. It is an adjustment. It is a complete change of life…once you are a dad, you will never again come first. You’ll get frustrated like never before. They’ll break your heart. But they’ll also inspire you, give you love that you never thought you’d experience, laughter like you’ve never had before, and give your life a new meaning!  – Joel Tesch   What I love most about being a dad is the unconditional love I receive everyday. My son Cooper Grant D’Ambrosio fills my life with laughter and love everyday and on occasion he adds to my gray …

Keeping the Soul in Yoga

I recently came across a post on Facebook which read, “The best yogis of Instagram.” This contest was decided upon by a well-known women’s fashion magazine and featured a variety of teachers, many of whom were wearing bikinis and had little to no body fat. Most pictures this magazine chose to feature were filtered images of thin, barely clad 20 and 30-something women doing handstands in remote exotic locations. Look, I get it. I LOVE yoga. I TEACH yoga. Yoga makes you feel vibrant and alive! I follow several of these established teachers and they have a lot of really wonderful things to say and they are good teachers. But, I’m disturbed by how yoga is beginning to be perceived by our culture. Since when did being a yogi equal being a fashion model? I took a class the other day, and the teacher literally said, “maybe one day if you keep practicing, you’ll be able to do the pose as gracefully as me.” WTF? Are we selling unattainable perfectionism now? It seems like it. …

A Woman’s Ink

I am not a criminal, I am not a drop out, I am not mean, I am not scary. I am simply a woman with tattoos. I have multiple large tattoos on my arms, legs, and hand, and I plan to obtain many more.  Not because of the attention, not because I think that they will make me “cool”, not because they are all the rage right now, and not because I want people to think that I am a “hard-ass”.  I solely get tattoos because I love them. I have so much passion for every new piece of artwork.  I love that I can put all of my trust into an artist who has NO eraser.  It is thrilling!  It is a massive leap of faith.  I can almost feel my adrenaline racing thinking about the buzzing when you walk into a tattoo studio.  At the end of your session(s), these artists give you this one of a kind gift on your skin that you can admire for a lifetime.  A piece of ornate and …

Love + Fear: When I Became a Mother

Preface:  This small story is my attempt to convey, in words, the emotions that occur in those first days after having a baby. Yet there are no words that exist to fully elucidate what those feelings are truly like…    From the moment my daughter met the outside world, I was a changed human being. That’s what happens when you give birth for the first time.. you change in a way that is total,  immediate, and undeniably profound.  There are absolutely no words to describe the feeling of looking at, holding, your very first child for the very first time.  It is all of life in a single moment.  It is love, wrapped up in fear, wrapped up in love.   It is transcendent. Those first few days were so intense.  The breastfeeding, the love and the worry.  The physical discomfort. It’s a mixture of the physical alterations of your own body and the mental saturation of processing so many new emotions, all while having this entirely new human being to care for.  Your body …

Wake Up Call: A Working Mom’s Struggle to Juggle

I am your mother.  And I can barely keep a houseplant alive.  And it’s a miracle this mutt I rescued ten years ago is still alive but I think, in fact, it was he that rescued me.  There he is, snoring at the foot of the bed as we two gals cuddle in it, in the early morning hours after your father has left for work.  The miracle mutt.  The miracle baby.  And me.  So maybe I am the miracle.  Yes.  It’s a miracle that I am your mother. This morning in the early AM light that filters through the curtains, I can make out the profile of your perfect face.  It is like my soul silhouetted in soft folds of chubby cherub cheeks and pudgy fingers wrapped around my own. But it is your breath.  Baby’s breath.  It takes my own breath away.  I am so close to you as you sleep.  Closerthanthis.  Nose-to-nose and I drink in every perfect little puff you sigh my way as you slumber.  Baby’s breath more precious than you know.  Because I have lost one before.  A baby whose heart stopped, who never took a breath …

Coming Home

  We’re going through old family photos as we prepare to celebrate my grandmother’s life this weekend. She passed away last night at 10 pm, surrounded by my mom, me, and my aunt Kristi…“her girls.” We sang to her, we held her hand, and laid our hands on her head and her heart. She went softly, gracefully, peacefully…like herself. I came across this photograph of me as a little girl. It’s my favorite one. It looks like me, from the outfit to the expression in my eyes, to the way my body trustingly rests it’s little back on the truck of that tree. I am comfortably held In the vast arms of nature, where there is room for contemplation and curiosity. There is time for discovery and it is happening. There is love in my eyes and fascination for the unfolding of life. I recognize my essence and my soul in this picture. Those moments are lovely, aren’t they? The ones when we feel like we meet ourselves again? I am experiencing a richly textured …

A Pregnant Pause

I was pregnant….  And then, I wasn’t.   All these years later, with a happy and healthy 11-month-old baby girl crawling, drooling and climbing all over me, I’m finally ready to write about what happened … how my husband and I had a miscarriage and marriage within weeks of each other in 2011.       I left during my lunch break.  It was an OBGYN/doctor’s appointment at 10 weeks.  Unfortunately, my husband was out of town, shooting a show on-location outside Chicago.  My “work husband” Jeff watched me rush out of the office and asked “should I drive you?  You sure you don’t want me to go with you?”  I reassured him, “no,” that it was just routine blood work and an ultrasound to hear the heartbeat.  Why I insisted on going alone I still can’t quite answer to this day, years later.  There was Jeff, and any number of other friends, that offered to and gladly would have accompanied me that day.  But for whatever reason, I chose to go by myself. I was driving mid-day west down Sunset, enjoying the California sunshine and …

Mother is Love

Mother. I think the defining characteristic that makes someone a mother isn’t just having birthed a child.  It is a bond, a love, something so deep it is incomprehensible.  It is a caring of and devotion to another human being, it is a giving of oneself to another.  It is love. Mama.  Maybe you are one, or want to be one.  Maybe you aren’t one and never want to be.  But, we all have one. Sometimes a mother is adopted, sometimes a mother is also a father, sometimes a father is a mother. We each have a unique bond with our mother that is wholly our own.  It is a complex, often difficult to understand relationship that lasts our whole lives, even when our mother isn’t present. Because she is and will always be present within us. I don’t think it’s possible to define a mother by any one word, except perhaps the word love.  Because that is the intangible form that a mother represents.  Being love.  Giving love.  In all its complicated ways. I want …

It Can Wait

I am drinking coffee and writing on this Sunday morning. I have a turquoise, soft cover Moleskine journal that I love and a ball point pen that writes just right. It’s a beautiful, sunny, January day. My phone is downstairs.  In the time it has taken me to write these four and a half lines, I’ve had the urge/impulse/itch to check/use/scratch(?) my phone four times. #1- I wanted to use the timer for what was initially going to be a timed writing exercise [No Tracy, you can use the clock]. #2 – What’s today’s date? It’s right there on my phone’s home screen [Uh Tracy, use your brain].  #3 – I wanted to check the weather app to include the actual temperature when describing this lovely day [It’s January, Tracy…It’s cold]. #4 – I wonder if I’ve heard back from my friend Jamie. Hmm. I could do a Lumosity “workout.” And see what’s up on Twitter. I love Twitter.  [No, no, noooo! IT CAN WAIT! IT CAN ALLLL WAIT. Write your damn journal entry] Jeez, …

We’re on The Campaign Trail

When Tara Tona asks me to be involved in anything my very first instinct is to say yes. I love this girl; she is smart, curious, imaginative, funny, so witty and genuinely cool. So when she asked me to be a part of Project:Women I (obviously) said yes! However I had no idea how much the journey we were about to embark on would suddenly become such a delightful and welcomed obsession. Researching for Project:Women has forced me to spend many an hour reading an article, and then clicking through to another article…I can’t seem to concentrate on anything else because all I want to do is read, share, read and share more stories about the incredible conversations going on about women. But it’s not all about women’s rights or feminism or women’s suffrage, but about how insanely cool women are and how important it is right now to support, glorify, celebrate, champion, educate, promote, bring together, fight for, fight with, stand up for and rally around the females that are inhabiting the earth at …

Surviving Life as a Young Mom

Where do I even begin? First, a major shoutout to Tara for giving me the opportunity to write for this unbelievable place that she has created for women.  A spot that is going to empower women and give us the best knowledge and vibes for the week.. or probably even the month.. who am I kidding, hopefully FOREVER.  I was very nervous to write my first entry for Project:Women.  I mean, the last time I was asked to write I was a senior in high school! However, the difference here is that THIS is personal.  I was actually on someone’s mind to write because my opinions and thoughts want to be heard!  And bonus – this blog is the biggest opportunity to write for the best audience: WOMEN! Those who know me would probably laugh at my line above “..the last time I was asked to write I was a senior in high school” They would say, “Wasn’t that a couple of years ago?” And I would giggle because it totally was!  Actually, it was …

Masks We Wear, and Letting Go of Fear.

Hiding behind a mask.  It feels acutely relevant to me right now… Perhaps that’s why the art of Judith Henry grabbed onto me as it did.  I found her the other day (via my 1stdibs.com newsletter, of all earthly places) and instantly got a warm feeling from her work.  Mostly from her, but also from her artistic expression through these masks.  And looking at her creations made me feel this thing that’s been hiding beneath… I’m struggling with something.  Wrestling with this intangible concept of what it means to share oneself.  To reveal, strip nude, expose thyself.  How to find the balance between creative exposure and outright over-sharing.  But I’m not even there yet.. I’m stuck, penned in by the gate of Privacy and Self-defence, holding tight to my deeply-rooted trait of “keeping to myself”. What am I doing. I think it’s time to break down some walls. Many years ago, when I was in my early 20’s and figuring myself out, my dad said something to me that was heavy, profound: “People are like …

Thought of the Week

If you want to be a force for good, then you must expose yourself to the bad. This thought entered my mind after listening to the news the other morning.  Day after day of absorbing all the disturbing headlines had gotten to me. I’ve gone through brief fazes before when I simply didn’t read or listen to the news because I had gotten so down about it.  Feeling like, what can I do?  The problems in the world, in our country, in our own cities, are so great and complex that it can feel pointless to even ponder them.  Or at least it can sometimes drag you down into a vortex of negative thoughts.  But here’s the thing… If you do have a desire, a little flame inside of you burning bright, to make some kind of positive impact on humanity (even if it’s teeny tiny), then in order to do so I think it’s imperative to be aware of the bad in the world.  The negative, unhappy, uncomfortable things that humanity imposes on one another.  Because without being …