Accidentally Extraordinary

If I knew then what I know now, nothing would be the same. I like it that way.

About eighteen months ago, my life changed in just about every way possible. I was a second time new mother, and learned that we would be moving across the country almost immediately. So, I started writing. I wrote to entertain myself, and to open up a venue where my family and friends could see where our urban travels took us. I wrote about my faux mullet and how swimming was oh-so-good for you, and eventually got brave enough to reveal my apprehension about leaving my extended family.

It seems that even since moving to New York City, my life has changed even more drastically due to my involvement in social media. That’s two complete life overhauls in 18 months.

I’ve been through every emotion, starting with fear. A fear that paralyzed me, quite frankly. Fear that I wasn’t adult enough to “make it” in Manhattan with my babies virtually alone. I found catharsis in sharing my struggles, fears , and monumental moments with the world, who even if it was TWO of you who were listening.

The fear turned into anxiety. The first couple of times I went grocery shopping, I nearly cleaned out our bank account. I stood in line with my two babes in the stroller, dragging an overloaded cart full of groceries behind me. Looking back, I was hoarding food like a mother bear before hibernation. It was HARD shopping with two babies out in the city. What once took 45 minutes to and from the market now takes no less than two hours. Add in the elements and subtract a vehicle and I was convinced that I needed FOUR gallons of milk in case I never made it out into the wild again.

I started traveling with the kids on public transportation. I’ll never, ever forget the feeling of sitting on a picnic blanket alone with both children, in the middle of glorious Central Park. It was our first trip together alone on the subway. I remember beaming with pride and feeling like all I was missing was a cape.

This is when the excitement set in. This city is remarkable, and I can actually live here. I started to feel the heartbeat of the city pound with my own as I walked the streets, to and from preschool, the post office, and, yes, even the grocery store.

The Winter came closely behind, and the temperatures stung with a ferocity that I have never seen. This California girl, no matter how tough I make it seem, can simply not hang with the cold weather. It was still new then, and when the snow covered the ground and kissed the buildings, I’m sure I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.

I made sure to document all of these new, exciting, daunting experiences. Soon, my faithful, beloved two listeners grew to more. I built a small army around me here and on Twitter who went to battle with me in some of my darkest hours. Sitting utterly alone and scared in the ER with my children while Justin was in California. Talking me off of the ledge while I was stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel with two vomiting toddlers. Rejoicing with me when my husband aced his tests and when Jack was finally potty trained.

All of this, it seems, has culminated into the last two completely insane weeks, between attending close to two events a day, writing for myself and various others, and appearing on a segment for the Nate Berkus show. I was shocked, thrilled, and humbled about being named one of Babble’s Top 50 Mom Bloggers. I’d say it’s been quite a fantastic run, and I am so grateful.

So fantastic, though, that it nearly derailed me entirely.

Most recently I experienced one of the scariest things to happen to my own health. What I thought was surely an impending stroke or heart attack, I carried myself to the doctor to find out that not only was I NOT dying, but my stress had manifested into severe anxiety. What shocked me was that the stress was actually stemming from being overwhelmed with deadlines, events, and other blog/media related things. All of which are GOOD things. AMAZING things.

I’ve come full circle it seems, dealing with this anxiety issue, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. Even if I had foreseen this insanity I would do it all over again.

Thank you, all of you, for being so supportive over the last year and a half. This has been one of the most amazing times in my life and I’m soaking it all up.


Join the Conversation


  • Anxiety is a scary thing, isn’t it? I’m glad that you have it handled, and I think it’s awesome how well you’ve managed your transition to New York.

  • I don’t come to your blog often enough, but I know we’ve connected enough on Twitter about our families both being so far away. I just want to say how proud I am of you for facing all the fears and finding something so beautiful and exciting at the other end. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks since the birth of my two children and relate well to this issue. But to walk through it and still come out the other end smiling and having grown so much, this is a success and it makes us warrior women.

    I too am in the midst of huge lifetime changes, ones that I never envisioned for myself or my children. This post has helped me know that I can and will get through it and good things will come to all of us eventually. Thank you for that. It’s an amazing feeling doing things you never thought you could. I am in exactly the same space right now and I miss my family all the time. But, I’m doing them anyway.

    My hope is that one day I can meet you up in the city when I come to visit. I am so happy that you have made the best of your difficult adventure and made dreams come true from it. Take care of yourself though. I know from experience, that we sometimes have to do this first. I will come back more often now, I promise, if I can ever find a moment in my day to do that.

    Brava lady,
    Tricia x

  • I avoid stress like the plague. I just can’t deal with it. It’s one of the reasons I ditched my original blog a year ago. It started out as just a little blog, and stayed just a little blog too. But the 3000-4000 hits/week that it got made me feel obligated to it, and I started to feel stress from it similar to that which I got from my real life job and I had no engagements, sponsorships or anything like that associated with it to add to the feeling of responsibility. Isn’t it amazing how social pressures exist in a virtual world? So I completely get what you’re saying, plus add all the events that you attend and the reviews that you do you I’m not surprised you feel overwhelmed with deadlines and with two small children in the middle of a big city… I take my hat off to you. But you’ve really made yourself an amazing little corner of the internet here, and you deserve every success that you get. Have you thought about closing down the social engagements and product reviews for 2010? That way you can spend quality time with your family this holiday season without distraction. I don’t think anyone would hold it against you, and what could be bad about recharging your batteries? Better for everyone I’d say πŸ™‚

  • I was wondering how you were doing all this so *seamlessly* !!! I can only imagine the stress that deadlines and such would add to my already chaotic “stay-at-home-mom” life.. coupled with not having your usual support system (those *home* family and friends).. gives me agita just thinking about it πŸ™‚ Good luck and hope you’re able to take a step back from it all and concentrate on just you for a bit. Please let me know if I can do anything !

  • oh lady, anxiety has paralyzed me at times and it is so scary. i’m amazed at your transition as you have done it all with such grace. we move every 3 years with my husband’s job and it takes it’s toll.

    huge congrats to all of your accomplishments. you are so deserving.

  • I love the title of this post. And I love that you’ve embraced your new “home”, at least your home for the time being. I’ve had to do the same in the last almost year and half, since we moved last Summer to a place I’d only driven through once. Although not AS far away from my family, it’s far enough, so I get that part.

    I think you’ve handled it all with grace but of course we all just want you to make sure you take care or yourself! Congrats on your successes – I do love your blog! πŸ™‚


  • Love the pic Jess! I think you are a fantastic mother and I love how you document the happenings around the city with the kids! It’s refreshing to me since I am living in southern suburbia. While new places can be intimidating and deadlines can be stressing, it’s only when we loose perspective that we let it get to us. Thank God for coffee and late nights. Right?
    I’m thrilled for all your achievements thus far and I can’t wait to keep on reading! Love it!!

  • I am so glad that you are not sick and so happy for all that you have accomplished and so understand how it can become so stressful! You have been through so much over the past 18 months and change is really hard – even good chance and exciting opportunities! I too have found real comfort in my online friends and I too wouldn;t trade this all for the world but it is hard to juggle it all – especially spending a lot of time without the hubs.

    I’m here and reading and loving your words. Congratulations on all the success!

  • You are inspiring. I just love reading your blog and you deserve all the good things that have come and keep coming your way. Congrats!

  • I’ve been here since your swimming post, and I remember that we were both moving to totally new places at the very same time. I am so happy that all of these wonderful and remarkable (and scary!) things have happened to you. Okay, well, I’m not happy that the bad scary things happened – just the good scary! You deserve all of your success, but remember you deserve a break and some rest every so often too!

  • Bravo! I have only just found your blog, but I can tell already you are pretty amazing. Congrats on being included in the Babble list! And would you please say hi to New York for me and tell her I miss her terribly!

  • It’s hard isn’t it, life.

    I told you you could do it. Jess, I NEVER had a doubt in my mind that you would rise to the occasion, as a wife, as a mother, as a NYC transplant.

    You did it and that is all you. YOU did it. Not someone else and you should hold on to that tightly and be proud of yourself. You did it and I know that you could do it all over again if you had too.

    Now, what’s my problem? Will I ever get there?

  • It’s difficult to keep up with regular blogging, much less the deadlines etc. that come along after you start to get invited to events, and become involved in other things. It seems like you have a hold on everything, now, which is amazing. And bravo to you for blogging about something so many have struggled with. Congrats on the Babble honor, and what a beautiful family picture!

  • Oh sweetie – I was wondering how you were holding up doing sooo many freaking things! I’m just around the corner, LITERALLY, so call me if you ever need to step out for a breather, or a glass of wine πŸ™‚

  • Turkey is in the oven and Mr. Momtrends took the kids to train station to pick up in-laws. Taking a moment to thank all my favorite blogger friends for their support and encouragement this year. Cheers! You deserve all the successes–but not the stress of course.

    Learning when to say when is something I need to master too.

  • Anxiety is a scary thing. Like you, I’ve have those moments where I thought FOR SURE I was having a heart attack or stroke. I’ve driven myself to the ER knowing int he back of my head it was all anxiety but with just that tid bit of uncertainty. It sucks. Success comes with a price sometimes, and having 2 little ones on top of it can really add up. Give yourself a break, too. You deserve it.

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