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Like many people, the new administration has stressed me out of typical anxiety, past every-so-often feelings of depression, and brought me to the brink of despondency. However, I think I found a way out! While tentative, I think it’s a breakthrough worth sharing, in case it helps anyone else.

I’m no stay-at-home brain scientist, but I do have a few weeks anecdotal evidence to share (which does not a sound-experiment make–sorry, graduate school). After feeling very low for weeks at a time, I noticed that even while running or doing yoga, spending time with loved ones, working– or any number of the things that typically help keep me balanced and healthy– my inner-dialogue kept returning to self-criticism and low mood even during said pleasurable activities. I was 24/7 11s on the brow, agitated and tearful.

Prompted by a friend, I began considering a new writing project–writing not about parenting, not LTYM related, and not a topic I’ve exhausted over 9 years on the internet.  The idea gave me a brief surge of adrenaline to the extent that I told a few friends about it–atypical for me, given my preference of completing things before I even whisper a word of their existence.

At the end of my next run, I realized I’d thought about this new project the entire time. For 60 minutes I wondered, considered, and dreamed with no negativity or fear. For 60 minutes I felt lightness, creativity and curiosity without any interference by anger, fear, or my personal favorite “not enough” perfectionism (which translates effortlessly to any and every. single. area. of my life).

By starting something new, I broke through the negative chatter playing Red Rover across my limbic system. I experienced a release from depression–a lift and relief that has kept me afloat and given my brain something new to play on the playground. Also, having a new idea take up residence in my brain conveniently takes space and time away from my addiction to the news cycle.

If you feel low, noticing that all of your thoughts seem to cycle back to some form of despair, why not give this a try? Start a new practice, project, hobby, exercise–whatever–but it has to be NEW; something totally different than you’ve done before. Also, choose something that won’t drive you ego-crazy; something light that interests you, that can keep you enthused and fuel your curiosity. Finally, it’s vital that you dedicate yourself to the process OVER the end product, so you don’t give up when you face the inevitable “is this any good” resistance. Promise yourself upfront you’ll see the process through, regardless of your opinion about what you think it is and what if any merit it possesses. I promise you–I promise me–I’m going to finish this new manuscript, even if I never mention it here or to you, ever again. Red rover red rover, let good come over and go away forever. Good shmood.

Wait..ummm Ann–isn’t a writing project something totally ego-driven for you? Yes and no. Yes because I’d love to have this project turn into something, but no because I’m clear that for now the process of simply doing the work takes precedent over what it might become. I’m not in a rush to get to the finish line, because I see how the journey is good for my brain right now. I’m also approaching this writing project in a new/different way, with the open mind of a novice structural engineer endeavoring to build something solid, rather than a jaded interior decorator with a tropical-print papasan chair who waltzes in with matching curtains/bedspread/wallpaper already picked out. Pretty.

Doing something new opened a door in my head, and I’m taking my time swinging around this jungle gym instead of short-circuiting around the same tired negative Red Rover feedback loops. I’m glad I told a few people what I’m doing, because staying true to my word is an efficient motivator for me. If you want to dedicate yourself to a practice and maybe have a breakthrough, feel free to use me as an accountability partner. Message me on facebook or leave a comment below. OMG I’m not selling you anything I promise, except for a spectacular Red Rover metaphor.


We announced auditions for my last LTYM Madison, and I sure hope you’ll give us one last chance to hear your story!


It’s now or never to participate in the original project as founded in Madison, but not necessarily never-forever because LTYM is getting a new life in 2018 through Miracle Or Two Theatrical Productions (which you can read about here).


Here’s something funny/tragic I wrote to cope with the impending demise of our public school system. Enjoy/sob:

DeNew Math from De New Administration!





Now she’s the mom and I got to spoil her

This post is sponsored by Luvs. Ten years ago, my life-long friend Megan would sit for hours in my living room, cuddling my newborn to her chest or playing with my toddler, listening to me detail the prior night's wake-ups and current day's kid messes. Trust me, this constantly-interrupted and totally uninteresting diatribe is even less… Read More


Sunburst Arms

I wish I played an instrument. My parents bought me lessons in both piano and violin, and I had no lasting interest nor talent for either. Maybe most kids don’t, and maybe it’s up to the parents to coax and push their children through. In any case, my parents had enough coaxing and pushing to do… Read More


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Open your bedroom door to the morning of your ten-year-old life. You are the first one awake and you wear footie pajamas; they are skull-and-crossbones manly footie pajamas with a shelf-life that extends comfortably into double-digits. Even if they squish your toes a bit. Follow the candy-interspersed-with-Pokemon-cards path on the floor that leads to the… Read More


My kids are genuine helpers now, not fake helpers-in-training

As part of their #WhatULuv campaign, the folks at Luvs asked me about what I truly value and feel thankful for as a parent. The following immediately came to mind: My 9 and 12-year-old are now genuine helpers--with the capability of actual helpfulness--instead of fake helpers-in-training. For instance: My kids now empty the dishwasher and put… Read More


Join me at Madison Women’s Expo!

Grab your people and head to the Alliant Center for Listen To Your Mother live-storytelling this Saturday November 19th at 11 am on the DreamBank stage! Enjoy funny and moving true stories from Erin Clune, Beverly Davis, Cate Guggino, Jane Wright Jones, Jessie Loeb, Jolieth McIntosh, De’Kendrea Stamps, and me!! Then “explore, engage and experience” Madison Women’s… Read More