All posts by

Shawna Ainslie

This Mother’s Day, I am happy to support mothers like me, parents for whom mental illness can be an ever-present or overwhelming piece of the parenting experience. I wrote an essay about my own experience parenting through bouts of anxiety and PTSD episodes and held onto it for many months before reaching out to Stigma Fighters to see if they might want to publish it for Mother’s Day. I held onto it because stigma makes it difficult to speak up. Stigma Fighters knows this. They recognize the ways we are silenced and

April and I first connected over parenting. We both have kids who’s experience sensory overwhelm. As mamas, this means we are also susceptible to overwhelm as we work to calm our children and teach them self-regulation (aka de-stressing) through proper care of their bodies.  Over the years, my family has incorporated numerous “off-the-beaten-path” techniques for self-care. After a medical professional recommended aromatherapy, we began to experiment with essential oils. We discovered that changing the scent in our home was an effective method for easing overwhelm, and not just for the

 Is it simpler to give up after repeat failure? Facing failure again and again In the gym, I fail a lift I could do three weeks earlier. There is no obvious reason for my weakness. I talk to my coach, wondering what is happening. Why my abs engage and then let go. My core is stronger than it has been since my first pregnancy, but that strength is inconsistent. I want to make progress. I want to be able to tally my improvements in pounds lifted. Instead I am red-faced,

I first read John Reinhart’s poetry in my inbox. It grabbed me immediately, licking off the page like the flames he described in one piece. It was subsequently published in the magazine I had the joy of editing, Open Thought Vortex. In fact, his work was so good, the publisher and I jumped each time his work rolled our way, struggling to stay in-budget as we reviewed each submission. You could say I was an immediate fan. And not just of John’s writing. Every interaction we had was warm with

Especially when we are writing for release, we should make good use of the writer’s drawer. Writing Traumas to Life I think graduate school was when I felt the most alive as a writer. It was a time of intense transition for me. I was studying what I was the most passionate about (the craft of writing). I began teaching adults for the first time. I found it vastly more stimulating and fulfilling than working with preschool age children. I became a mother, and with that family transition, I discovered

Some traumas have straightforward recoveries attainable with simple goals and actions, such as cleaning and dressing a minor wound. Others cut more deeply and take enormous strength to overcome. Here is my process of healing: write, release, recover. TW: sexual assault, disordered eating The Battle for Control in Response to Trauma When I was 13, I was sexually assaulted by one man, had it attempted by another, my boyfriend was coerced to dump me by the man who attacked me, I was overweight due to an injury, and my family life offered little solace. My

If only this feminist hadn’t curved the nice guy, she could be a real woman! by Mila Salander Throughout my life, I have faced the challenges of working and living with men whose fragile egos required constant attention, pandering, and suppression of my own personality and strength in order to keep their masculinity secure. I spent many years married to such a man (we’ll call him David). The magnitude of capitulation required to prevent upsetting his self-image was all consuming, destructive, and oppressive. The challenges to David’s ego were omnipresent.

Faith and identity have been fluid experiences in my life. I am intersectional; a woman of color, born into Islam, raised in the Bible Belt, taught to view sexuality as static and holy. I grew up feeling I had failed. Was failing. I existed in a constant state of failure, sometimes for reasons I could not pinpoint. So I began writing outside my personal experiences to discover the outer limits of myself, those which existed beyond the packaged identity I’d been sold through parenting. To this end, fiction has long

If you live in Bloomington, IN, take a look around for the free publication, Bloomington Parent Magazine. I was contacted last year to write an article on local First Steps and Head Start programs. These programs offer educational and developmental resources for young children and their families. It was a pleasure interviewing parents and providers for this article. The best part was it made me feel truly at home in Bloomington. There is something about writing for your community that makes you feel part of your community. Bloomington Parent is

by Emily Nehus Today started a little late, because I set my alarm for 6 PM. This happens every so often, but today I compounded it by rushing through the making of pancakes. Never, never rush the making of pancakes. I burnt the cast iron griddle, and the stainless steel frying pan, and finally managed to cook my son’s breakfast on the cast iron skillet. It was that kind of morning. Dashing out an hour later, I grabbed my new favorite hat, crammed it on my head, and bolted for

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