Improve goal-setting by understanding how it fails

I take anti-anxiety drugs. I say that so I can deny that they also function as anti-depressants. Because I think I’m too old to still be depressed from a traumatic childhood. But it seems logical that any parent who is also the breadwinner would need anti-anxiety medicine just to get out of bed every day knowing the income has to flow until the kids are out of the house.

I didn’t realize how tired I was from the medicine until my kids started telling people I sleep all time.

So I made lists with hourly todos so that I had standards to meet before sleeping. Which only made me more sleepy. Adam Galinsky is a professor at Kellogg and he says, “Goal setting has been treated like an over-the-counter medication when it should really be treated with more care, as a prescription-strength medication.”

I used to have confidence in my earning ability and that made my kids confident. Mostly. Like the majority of women, I always have a nagging worry that I’ll end up being a crazy bag lady.

Melissa found this psychiatrist who sees a pattern in really high achievers: they have anxiety that causes them to work really hard to meet goals and if you treat the anxiety with pharmaceuticals you uncover ADD.

I could track my income by graphing my pharmaceutical intake. When I was nice and pleasant there was no money coming in. So I got Vyvanse for my ADD. And then I was able to be nice and pleasant and awake enough to make money.

In Pennsylvania the pharmacist at each location makes a judgment call about what risk they’ll take to fill a Schedule C prescription. So I can’t get Vyvanse in Pennsylvania because my psychiatrist is in Texas and my ID is from Wisconsin and I’m paying cash, because my insurance won’t cover me out of state. And I guess, in the eyes of a pharmacist I’m already the crazy bag lady, because no one will fill my prescription for Vyvanse.

For the past twenty years, I have written all my most important goals on paper. Because I read that that matters. And it turns out it does. But I must have been going after the wrong goals. I have to stop thinking that being in a family is about meeting a goal and then meeting another.

So now I write notes to myself to remember to fill my family with joy.

I set an alarm each day that has that as a reminder attached to it. I set the alarm for a different time each day so the boys don’t think I have automated joy.

Yesterday my oldest son said to me, “Why are you and dad even married? He does nothing for you. You live all by yourself and you stopped buying good food and there are mice in the apartment and when dad visits he sleeps with the dog instead of you.”

I said, “Why don’t you like the food? I cook every meal for you.”

“I know you only start making pancakes for breakfast when you think there’s no food.”

“I don’t have my medicine.”

“I know. But a real husband would help you with that. Remember? Respect? Commitment? Empathy?”

I stared.

My son stepped toward me to give me a hug. He is taller than I am now, just by a little, but it feels like a lot after being taller than him for fourteen years. His arms hold me carefully.

His list is so much better than mine. Which means, I guess, that I met my parenting goals.

84 replies
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  1. Jessica Thompson
    Jessica Thompson says:

    I have read your blog posts for years. Your articles make me feel more human. Especially this one. I’d hug you too with gratitude.

  2. Evy MacPhee
    Evy MacPhee says:

    What are your current goals? Why for each separate goal?
    What are your core values?
    I can’t understand your persistent financial recklessness.
    I still like to read your blog posts.
    You are NOT too old to still be troubled by your traumatic childhood. Writing from personal and friends’ experience.
    All the best and hugs if they might help you.

  3. Louis
    Louis says:

    Why don’t you open a PayPal account for voluntary blog memberships? With so many readers, you wouldn’t go hungry… Maybe even be able to move apartments. Think of it as a system for micro-patrons. Gifted artists and writers have been supported by patrons before, why not you?

    • Jason
      Jason says:

      Income is not her problem. She simply cannot handle money.

      Charging for the blog, will increase her income, but will have no long term effect on her financial situation. Ask any alcoholic how many times they have “given up drinking”, cleared their house of all liquor and were drunk within the week.

      • Chris
        Chris says:

        Penelope you can start a Patreon account, it would allow people to donate per month or per article and it’s totally optional. You would very likely receive $1k+ per month from readers.

          • Dd
            Dd says:

            Since when do the Duggars beg? And if fools here want to give Penelope money to buy another retro oven you could you know just PayPal her.
            It was a moving story. Penelope left the farmer. Not sure their son understands that. A stepson can grow into a son. I’m glad you guys took the dog!

          • Chris
            Chris says:

            It’s not begging, independent content is important and large entities like government and corporations are already taking steps to control / defund independent content creators.

            People like Michelangelo had patrons that supported their art.

  4. Ann
    Ann says:

    Perhaps I slaking this up, but you sound depressed and possibly highly dependent on Vywanse. It sounds like you are now discovering life without performance enhancing drugs.
    Perhaps you you should check out the University of Pennsylvania’s expertise in this area. Also if you checked into Penn’s emergency room for psycthiatric reasons, you might find help via that route. Also there are many reknown psycihiatrists in Philadephia. Remember that The Wharton School is foiled with high functioning folks, so you are not alone.
    Based on what I have read in this posting, I perceive that you making your children as caretakers. If that is the case, then they are likely to pay a heavy price for taking on an adult role while they are still children.
    This may seem cruel, but I think it is time to stop leaning on your childhood and face it straight on. Perhaps you need a therapist whose practice is based on neuroplasticity.
    In closing, if you have enough cash, then you can buy therapy and prescriptions in Philadelphia.
    Good luck to both you and your children.

    • Dd
      Dd says:

      Um I’m on meds and couldn’t live without them. Doesn’t mean you’re addicted. But I see people drinking ten cups of coffee to wake up. Your childhood trauma never goes away. Doesn’t sound like you’re harping. I think Penelope has real chemical imbalance like I do. Why shame people for getting medicine for that.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Outside observation here, but she’d need outside support to hold it all together while confronting that process. Farmer doesn’t earn enough to support her kids, if she took off a few years to successfully resolve those issues. He could sell the farm though? Buy another later? Not close enough to the situation to know her actual options, but more support is needed.

    • Kitty
      Kitty says:

      For people with ADHD, Vyvanse/Ritalin/Adderall/etc are not “performance enhancing drugs”. They are drugs that fix a chemical imbalance in the brain and make us NORMAL.

  5. Fixating
    Fixating says:

    I don’t have any answers, but I can relate. One time I was diagnosed with ADD and given Adderall. I was so good at my job at that time, and felt like so much less of a fuckup! But I let the prescription lapse and apparently that reflects poorly on your medical record, so the never gave me Adddrall again. But still now, years later, as I’m at the top of my professional career, I constantly feel like a failure. Failure at my job, at my relationships, with my family, with my non-profit org I volunteer for. Is this a curse high achieving women have to live with? Are we, as women, not wired to feel successful in this male dominated society? I always wonder if going back on the ADD meds would straighten out these thoughts.

  6. Janet
    Janet says:

    I love what your son said to you. He understands what’s lacking and he’s backing you up. It’s so moving and thanks for sharing.

    I really think we’d give money if that meant more frequent blog posts. They’re our drug sometimes. I’ve been reading them for so many years.

  7. Lena
    Lena says:

    Blog membership concept sounds interesting. You’d have to preserve the basic blog, though, otherwise there would be no way to garner new members. I disagree that allowing kids to have input into how you’re navigating life is treating the kids as caretakers. Rather, I think it’s a sign that they’re growing up successfully into young adults who see things and say things. If children have no thoughts of their own, and don’t speak (or can’t speak) to things that matter in life, I would count that as a failure. It probably means they haven’t been allowed to see their parents’ thought processes or their real-life decision-making, or been allowed to practice these skills for themselves.

  8. Lena
    Lena says:

    Also, read the Quora response to the question “What are some of the biggest mindfucks” that was recently posted by Peter King (PhD Psychology). The premises of much of our thinking these days could be way off, and sometimes it’s refreshing to think about that.

  9. Mariana
    Mariana says:

    usually your posts trigger my NT (I don’t have a T so I try to work on it, so I can think clearly before making a decision, usually with my F…), but this one just when right to my ENFJ. I don’t have to say that I felt a lot of what you wrote. And what I can say is: please take care of yourself!

  10. Madelyn Lang
    Madelyn Lang says:

    Tears. Well Penelope, somebody instilled in that young man some very healthy and empathetic character traits. And it sounds like it must have been you. It sounds like you made a family in spite of your worries about your own deficiencies.

  11. Emily
    Emily says:

    Jessica said it very well. Very touching piece, another example of a very talented writer, I mean, human.

  12. Liobov
    Liobov says:

    I imagine that it’s difficult for a perfectionistic high achiever to rely on kindness of others at a time when she is most vulnerable. I suggest you consider Patreon. They have built a good infrastructure for support of online creators. This way it would be just another way to monetizing your blog and getting closer to your readers instead of “begging”.

  13. beth
    beth says:

    I think you’re a mess. I feel sorry for your kids. I can’t believe you conclude that you have done a good job! What a terrible childhood to look back on. That boy may be ok, but I’d say it’s despite of you. I’d say he looks at you and says “I am not going to be like that”.

    There are children of alcoholics who end up ok, but it’s not because being a drunk makes you a good parent.

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      Yes! Among all the mushy-mushy “oh you’re so talented, you’re so relateable” comments this is common sense. This is absolutely dreadful. She needs help and serious social services involvement, not admiration and praise. People, you are just enabling her.

      • Dd
        Dd says:

        I think they’re fans. The idea of paying her to blog seems sketchy. I don’t think there are thousands of people who’d donate. But what do I know.

    • Tara
      Tara says:

      Your comment, beth, says so much more of your ignorance and lack of empathy than it does about P. Blowing smoke up a skirt isn’t helpful either, but your approach is far worse. Only a weak person kicks someone when they’re down.

  14. Bob
    Bob says:

    “He (the Farmer) does nothing for you.”

    Right, nothing. Except provide a comfortable, safe, free place for the three of them to live for a number of years. And apparently $30K in miscellaneous support.

    • Dd
      Dd says:

      That was harsh but he’s a kid. He sees his mom hurting. He hasn’t processed who left who. I hope they reunite all of them. They seemed happier on the farm. Why not split the time?

  15. susan martin
    susan martin says:

    I am having a hard time following the train(s) of thought on this blog posting. I wish you well; perhaps you need to get back on the Vyvanse. I HIGHLY recommend regular exercise to improve mood, focus, sleep, and general happiness. God bless, friend. You have alot to be thankful for…but I see alot of darkness in this post. Look at the darkness and confront it; the clouds will lift if you do.

  16. Caroline
    Caroline says:

    Shortly before leaving my corporate job in 2014, I sent an email to my manager and his team: “Is joy on the scorecard of your life?” Thanks for the reminder and the little bit of joyful reading as I relax in the waiting room for getting a mammogram – sadly my first break from work since going back a year ago. It reminds me of 2015 and the time I tried to slow down and homeshool. Just driving in the sunshine is a thrill. Lately the prescription drug crisis is confronting me with neighbors asking me for any painkillers or a colleague losing her pharmacist husband to an accidental overdose and another divorcing her spouse for his addiction. What’s wrong with our society? Why the anxiety? Role of family? Why can’t a mom concentrate on being a caretaker instead of breadwinner? Penelope’s advice to moms inspires me – keep the family together, try to prioritize parenting. I wish she’d listen to herself. Her readership is awesome.

  17. Erin
    Erin says:

    I am a newcomer to your blog. One thing I would like to point out is that depression is like a slippery eel. Sometimes difficult to get your mind around it. A number of years ago I went through a major depressive episode that required hospitalization in a day treatment program. After being released from the program and faithfully taking my medicine, I remained seriously depressed. My psychiatrist sent me to my internal medicine doctor.

    He tested me for thyroid disease. A leading cause of depression in women is a low functioning thyroid gland. You will be exhausted, depressed and sleep all the time.

    You may also want to get tested for sleep apnea. Lack of quality sleep threatens over all health. I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. Now when depression looms like a black cloud over my life, I get my thyroid tested and a repeat sleep study.

    Unlike some others that responded negatively to your son’s comments, I believe that at his age, he is able to assess and comment on your needs in a mature and insightful way. It sounds like he is sensitive and loves you. He is most likely very worried about you. Please get appropriate medical testing and take care of yourself.

    • Dd
      Dd says:

      I think sleep apnea is rarely the issue unless severe. People with severe apnea will snore crazily. It’s not a shock. I think all women over 40 should check thyroid. I like the meds. Increase your metabolism so you can eat more :)

  18. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Thank you for your comments. I love reading them.

    Writers always talk about how writing is a way to gain self-knowledge. But self-delusion is so tantalizing because alone in a room I can feel like I am not doing it. So for me the public commentary feels like the real mirror I face when I wrote a post.


  19. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    Divorce is less than ideal, but it certainly isn’t child abuse.

    I really think that you simply aren’t getting what you need out of this relationship. The financial issues you were having with the farmer were a cry for attention. You felt that he showed you love if he lent you large sums of money. In a healthier relationship, you wouldn’t need to feel this way. He would show his love some other way (like one of the five love languages). Now things have gotten worse and you are asking him for even more, to give up his farm for seven years.

    In my relationship, my husband or I would each try to give and take, to try to find some sort of middle. I suspect you feel like you have been “giving” too much and for too long and you have drawn a line in the sand.

    As you wrote about all the crazy driving you were doing, I wondered why the farmer didn’t ever help out. I know you say one parent has to be the primary, but parenting is hard and I think both parents have to be actively contributing to raising the children. I am not sure the farmer has been doing that.

    As a side note, I used to read a blog that went to Patreon and I simply quit reading it when they switched.

  20. Guy
    Guy says:

    Thank you for dropping the walls to allow others to see and learn from your life, as if peering at ripples in a lake of my own reflection little parts of who I am can be found in your words, and in between the vastness of a blue sky of limitless possibilities in your courage, love and honesty. You are a blessing indeed.

  21. Ali
    Ali says:

    It’s disorienting to move to a new state, a new town, and a new house. You give up a sense of control when you leave a place that feels like home for a space that feels temporary. That’s difficult for anyone (kids included, even though they seem to be doing remarkably well). Add drug withdrawal and separation from a spouse (whatever you may think of him, he had been reliably present and now seems to be mostly gone) into the mix and it’s got to be very trying.

    Thanks for sharing your stories with us, Penelope, and good luck. And for god’s sake hire someone to come and clean!

  22. kate
    kate says:

    Penelope, you need to get a grip. Your children should not be taking care of you emotionally.

    I did the same for my mother and now we’re estranged.

    • john w shoemaker
      john w shoemaker says:

      I’m all in on this comment. You never know for sure what’s going on with someone. But I can tell you penelope how you look to me. Neurotic. Wild mood swings. Full of self pity and wounded pride.reckless with money and people. And like you like to point out anti-social and not to interested in being social.
      You blame it on a aspbergers. But it doesn’t matter. The results are the same to the people around you.

      My bet us you have been forcing your son all your life to be the center and grown up in your life. His empathy may just be a cry out to try to save and rescue you…and himself. If that’s true he will come to resent you outwardly as time goes on. He probably does now. But you have him hostage. Home schooling. Dragging him around everywhere for music lessons. Limited contact with other children. You could be seen as a one woman cult.

      I can hear the screams…not from you. You’re to apathetic to respond. But your readers who think this is normal, acceptable and maybe even laudable. You are the ones out oftouch. I’ve lived through it I know its real. And my six brothers and sisters pushed our mother to the curb individually over time as we each saw how damaged she was…and how aware she was of it.

      I may be wrong. But I’ve been reading your columns long enough to know that this has been a lifelong description for you.

      If I’m wrong. Then the words don’t matter. Just blow them off.

      If I’m right…you need some help. But I suspect you’re beyond help.

      I look forward to the outcry from the others who will lay the blame at my feet…instead of asking themselves…”Hmm. Maybe there is some truth there.” I say look in the mirror.

      • Evy MacPhee
        Evy MacPhee says:

        I think there is some truth in what you say.

        I also intend to send love and encouragement to P.

        I think P needs a good therapist to help her rethink her choices.
        Does she want her boys to focus on impressing people and being the best musicians? Perhaps some focus on inner life, calm, structure would help them understand the value of these things for themselves.

        I worry about the prescription drug use to make her able to function in her pursuit of impressing people and making her boys the best musicians.

    • Dd
      Dd says:

      She was always like this! The older one is a teen. I doubt he’s damaged. I think it may have been hard for them as young kids with her breaking down routinely. Listen they sound like they’re doing well. Kids are resilient.

  23. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I think you’re meeting your parenting goals as they’ve always been at the top of your list of priorities. As you say, we get best at the things we work the hardest at and spend the most time which you have done when it comes to parenting. Your oldest son has learned much what really matters. He will be a good husband and parent which I know you consider to be most important. As hard as things are for you and your family at this time, I’m glad to see you still have your wit and humor which will sustain you. I’m referring to the “automated joy” comment which I found to be hilarious. Don’t ever lose that want/ability to go to the farside. On a more practical note, I’m wondering if your doctor’s office in Texas would be able to help you out in some way if they knew your circumstances. I hope you’re able to resolve getting your medicine one way or another.

  24. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Don’t let the unkind comments get to you, the people who respond to this as if they have it all figured out – do not. If they did, they would know to be kind. Penelope has a good mind of her own. She has plenty of resources at her disposal. She will (or won’t) figure it out. Being unkind is not helpful and not necessary. It’s sad to see comments from fellow readers who are being jerks – Penelope is struggling just like I struggle and just like every other human being struggles.

  25. Ylva
    Ylva says:

    Why was the farmer not helping with driving the children to music lessons someone asks. Remember: he is not legally the father. He has no right to even decide whether the kids shall have music lessons or not or whether the children are moved to another town without notice.
    If raising the children is Penelope’s priority, and if this means for her also the right to decide quickly and spontaneously to move away from the man the children call “father”, then it does not feel right to blame this “father” for not being more active in helping Penelope in executing her childrearing policy.

    I am not saying this out of hate – on the contrary, I respect and admire Penelope and I hope and believe everything will turn out very well for her and her family. And for the farmer as well.

  26. Brad
    Brad says:

    Personally I think Penelope left mainly out of overwhelming, mind-crushing boredom. She will never be a farm girl. But she needs to go back anyway. Assuming she can.

    Only a few months after the move, and she’s completely fallen apart. She can’t function on her own (never could) and the Farmer absolutely will not leave his home to rescue her.

  27. Dan
    Dan says:

    Look up systems vs goals. Goals mean you are in a perpetual state of failure until one magic day. Working a system means you’re actively engaged in your system everyday, winning everyday. You’re not so worried about the outcome because you’re working your system.

    I lived the same type of childhood you’re giving your kids now. It may sound brave and honorable of your son to say what he did, but it’s not his job to do or say those things. You’re turning him into the parent/caring husband. He can do it and for sure he’s a good kid, but he will resent it. I do.

    I’m not sure if you’re looking for advice, or if this is a cry for help, but I appreciate your humanity and your words.

    If you’re having trouble with money, it might make sense to have your sons help manage it. My grandfather was living on his own at 14 during the Great Depression. I think we infantalize our children in the modern age.

    If you need help, please ask us specifically how we can help. Empower us to help. Empower your children to help. The worst is to make your children understand the hard state you’re in, that they’re in, but then remove all ability for them to change the environment or help in real terms with the problems.

    May the universe move to bless you and help you and guide you.

  28. alan
    alan says:

    Oldest son has gotten quite the Oedipus complex; kill (get rid of) the father, marry the mother so he can have her all to himself. I mean, he’s got no friends, so he kind of is obligated to keep you as close as possible…

    ““Why are you and dad even married? He does nothing for you.”
    Does he ever ask what you do for HIM?

    ” You live all by yourself.”
    And whose choice was that, exactly?

    Was turning your kids against the Farmer also one of your parenting goals? If so, you’ve succeeded brilliantly. I’ve witnessed this dynamic before – the person not there everyday is at the losing end of an ongoing, low-grade but relentless propaganda cold war. Sad.

  29. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    Long time reader. Reading your articles over the years has helped me to know I’m not crazy. Thank you. My youngest left for college last August, and I’m still recovering. I always worked two jobs, living in Boston for 40 years, took care of my older spouse, and have elderly parents in western Pennsylvania. (I could drive Route 84 in my sleep.) Real life is messy, confusing, complicated, and for most women: exhausting. Still, we muddle through, and if I’m lucky my best work has been on my most valued areas of life: my spouse and my children and then, my parents. Right now I’m going through some kind of legal battle with my parents. I moved 500 miles to be closer to them, and well, they’ve gone crazy. They live on 80 acres of land in the middle of Trump country, and I’m a die-hard east coast liberal. Talk about a hard change. I agree with the comment above about how moving is disorienting … damn right. Well, modern day conveniences allow me to talk to my friends “back home” and remember that I am still a cool person, successful by my own standards, and certainly not going to starve. I’m less bi-polar than you seem, but all the creative people I love have had drama in their lives. So … on it goes. All these years, I can’t believe how long you’ve been writing, well … honestly you saved my life, more than once. I wish we could meet someday, just so I could give you a hug, or a high-five. I feel like you’re on the same highways I’ve been on … that we’re all just fellow journeyers on the road of life. Lastly, be happy that your sons are as well as they are. My two now-adult daughters give me much joy, just knowing they’re in the world, and of course we text almost every day. My (adoptive) parents who are dying now, remind me that life is temporary. Yes, find joy. And yes, I find sleeping to be healing. Slowing down is sometimes necessary, for good health, and simply to live one’s life, such as it is. Peace and love.

  30. Cara
    Cara says:

    Regarding monetizing the blog, I wouldn’t read it if I had to pay for it (but I’d miss it).

    Regarding P’s situation: I admit, reading this blog is like watching a slow motion trainwreck. It seems like she’s doing everything to aggravate and enhance her trauma, anxiety and depression rather than to heal it. I think everyone (P, the kids, the farmer) needs some time to just be, and to chill. How could anyone live this lifestyle? And to what purpose? Call me crazy but the purpose of life is to be happy….

    I understand P is a brilliant, unique, talented passionate and successful person so maybe this blog is only providing a limited window into what is going on and I am getting the wrong impression. But from what is depicted here…trainwreck. How everyone sees this as somehow beautiful or brave is beyond me.

    I am worried about her sons although she does seem to truly love them….this has got to count for something.

  31. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    P, you’re not too old to still be depressed about your traumatic childhood-it was trauma! It’s not something that you magically get over after a certain period of time or reach a certain age. You can learn healthy coping mechanisms and how to maneuver with it, but it never just goes away.

    As for the situation for the farmer, I remember reading in a past post about how you felt close to him when he gave you money and I thought that sounded messed up. If you’re not getting what you need from each other, don’t drag things out. As I’ve said before, the farmer isn’t going to leave his farm, it’s who he is. If he did leave I don’t think it would take very long before resentment would build and there would be fighting. I don’t think he’s going to find a career path in a city that would make him as happy and fulfilled as the farm does. Don’t look for someone else to rescue you financially or emotionally and don’t put your sons in that position of caretaker either. They are intelligent and perceptive and they know you’re going through a tough time right now even if you think you might be convincingly faking it in front of them.

    Are you in communication with your psychiatrist in Texas? Could that person recommend someone locally you could at least talk to in person? Is your ex able to come and be with your sons and give you some alone time to work through some things?

  32. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Bless your heart, sweet Penelope. It’s okay to be a mess. We all are. It’s okay to make big mistakes. We all do. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Let God sort that stuff out. You are a beautiful person with a big heart and big dreams and big ideas.

    I’m glad your sons are strong (in no small part because of you, by the way) and are there for you. They see you strong, and weak, and human. It just part of being in a real relationship. You’ll always be their mom. What a beautiful gift you have in them.

  33. JJ
    JJ says:

    Men tend to think in terms of relation equity, that they have invested in a relationship and it’s bad to just abandon it or tear it down. But in this case, it’s useful to steel oneself and take a step back.

    In particular, the farmer needs to realize these guys will never take over running the farm after him (and couldn’t even if they wanted to). So maybe it’s time for him to drop this dream, whatever it is, and get a bit more serious too.

  34. Sabot
    Sabot says:

    Penelope, your kids know absolutely that you love them and want the best for them. The rest are details.

    You are clearly working hard at navigating the messiness, not giving up in the worst possible way, which you’ve hinted at in past posts. Please continue.

    Your kids are more resilient than a lot of the commenters realize. My immigrant parents barely spoke english and worked long hours. I was a latch key kid from grade k. From age 8, it was me filling out forms from school for them. For field trips, reduced rate school lunches, permission to watch the sex ed video. I also mapped out my education milestones when I was 13, to make sure I could go to a good university, researched all the scholarships, grants, financial aid options. When their friend started talking about their kids’ SAT prep, I told them I already took it and scored 1300 (which they were disappointed about when I told them 1600 was the max). It turned out well in the end. I enjoyed my career as an engineer and built a nice financial cushion before deciding to focus on homeschooling the kids.

    I took charge of my life. I never blamed my parents for their ignorance or their faults. Nor for not being able to participate in or pay for my education. I never felt burdened. I knew they loved me and always tried to do what they thought was best for me, even if it wasn’t. Just like you with your kids. Intention.

    You are not burdening your children. They are learning real life stuff. They’re old enough. They’re capable. And clearly, they love you.

  35. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    I have a ton of anxiety. I think I have lead toxicity (you get it from your mother’s bones in utero) based on my heavy metal levels, and it causes anxiety, insomnia and short temper. I also moved my children to a very dangerous unhinged 3rd world country, so that is not helping.

    Then I started taking ashvangda (or ashwanga in the US). I take 500 mg in the morning before breakfast and 500 mg before lunch. 45 minutes after taking it I can feel the “I really don’t give a shit” feeling setting in. It’s wonderful. I’m motivated, focused, not easily distracted, and the negative looping thoughts in my mind stop. On top of that it balances the thyroid and blood sugar so I don’t stress eat.

    Then last week I added brahmi for allergies but it turns out it’s known a brain booster. When I take two brahmi in the AM and 2 before lunch with the ashwangda I am focused as fuck. There is no other way to describe it. I don’t even want to stop working at 7 PM and I absolutely hate the work I’m doing.

    Maybe taking 2 in the afternoon was too much for me, so now I do 2 ashwangda + 2 brahmi in the morning and then 2 ashwangda + 1 brahmi before lunch.

    My husband has started taking both together and calls them nature’s Ritalin.

    So maybe when your meds aren’t available, you can try this combo and see how you feel? Once I told a group of crunchy friends about ashwangda, half of them were already on it and had never mentioned it.

    Himalaya is the brand we buy here in India for $2 for 60 tablets. Sorry, it’s $15 in the US.

    Both ashwangda and brahmi are available on Amazon in the US, with slight name variations or alternative names.

      • Robyn
        Robyn says:

        Hi Evy. Maybe if you send P a note and ask for my email she can give it to you so I don’t post it for all the world?

        Also, a friend-of-a-friend is a naturopath and nutritionist who writes a fantastic informative site that is right in line with what I’ve learned from my tribe of mothers as well as my functional/integrative/holistic MD friend.

        His name is Josh Axe and an index to the information on his site is here:

        You can read a lot more about ayruvedic herbs there.

        My MD friend in common with him wrote a NY Times Bestseller with absolutely zero media coverage because she assists women in tapering off of pharmaceutical drugs. I am in no way judging anyone on prescriptions; but many people would like to be off of them, and struggle to do so.

        Because of being shut out by media advertisers, she had a grassroots movement to get on the NY Times list over the course of one week, which caught the attention of Gwyneth Paltrow. The book ended up on Gwyneth’s “nightstand list” as well as GOOP, so it skyrocketed.

        Her name is Dr. Kelly Brogan and the book is called A Mind of Your Own. Hope this helps!

    • Nen
      Nen says:

      People should be careful with ashwagandha. It can have unpleasant and unhealthy side effects, depending on the person.
      Ayurvedic medicine (and any kind of traditional, herbal medicine) is not meant to be plundered by people who don’t know what they are doing and don’t have all the knowledge that goes with wisely practicing such ancient wisdom traditions.
      If you want to get into herbal medicine, go to a qualified practitioner of whatever tradition you are interested in and get some expert advice.
      Many medicinal herbs are very strong and they can really impact our hormones, our neurotransmitters, our blood, our liver, our kidneys, etc. They might be able for purchase “over the counter” but they are to be used carefully and respectfully.

  36. Mia
    Mia says:

    I don’t know if Penelope is that bad. If she was she wouldn’t be able to write. I think she’s just journalling and it’s her blog and she’s allowed. And her children are old enough to have empathy and emotional intelligence and share it with a carer. I wonder if her ex could step in and help with the kids for a while?

  37. JenniferBay
    JenniferBay says:

    You post are so human, what you describe happened to me a few years ago. Do not despair, sometime the bad days will be over and the good years will start. Just dont loose hope. Thank for writing that, it really made me emotional.

  38. Naveen Kumar
    Naveen Kumar says:

    I think thought patterns also matters in this 3rd dimension life! what ever you think it emits energy and in 24 hours humans thinks about tensions,anxiety,problems all negative aspects etc. & finally they uses to emit negative energy and those energy makes blockage in our success, happiness and affects our health too.. and finally I would like to say..I love your articles please don’t stop! keep posting bcoz I love to read your articles

  39. Nen
    Nen says:

    This is exactly how I expected, when I learned about 2 months ago of the recent turn of events that had taken place in the last 6 months, that things would be going.

    I.e., not very well.

    A few other commenters have expressed their legitimate concerns and reservations – basically, I agree with them.

    I will say, though, which I said about 2 months ago (under a different login name, I just make a random one each time) that I think Penelope was right to move, because I don’t think living on a farm or being in Wisconsin or being with the farmer is the right thing for her or her kids.

    I think she was answering a deep call within her – maybe her deepest intuition – to do this, and that it was right.

    She might be ascribing the big shake-up to reasons that may or may not really have been a part of the real reasons,
    and it’s too bad that she’s putting a lot of importance on the fact that one of her kids was in a position to benefit from close access to high-level music lessons (it’s not his fault that the family’s situation has shattered, and I hope he doesn’t grow up worrying about that, subconsciously or consciously),
    but a great change was probably needed, for all of their sakes, and I expect that they will all be better off for it, eventually.

    Even putting herself into a situation where she has no health insurance coverage
    (which is always to be expected when you move to a new state, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise),
    and where she didn’t get enough medication when she was at home before she moved, or pick some up from her doctor when she goes back for a quick visit (does she ever go back, I don’t know; maybe she doesn’t),
    so that she runs out of these very powerful medications that it appears she has relied on too much,

    is, in a way, a good, good experience for her, because she is being brought down to earth a bit.

    Which she needs.

    It will continue, also.
    It will get worse before it gets better.
    But it’s necessary.
    She’s about 50 and this is a life-changing transition point for her.

    She’ll get through it and be okay – a couple of years from now, her life at this moment will seem like a distant bad dream.

    By the way, Penelope, just move your insurance to your current state.
    If you can’t move the policy you are now on from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, you need to get a new policy promptly.
    I think that you can get a marketplace insurance policy because you have moved residence from one state to another. It is easy to check into that.
    It is HIGHLY IRRESPONSIBLE to have relocated your family to a new state and not have health insurance for them.
    Your current policy probably is void because you don’t live at the address they have you registered under — you have a housing lease in a different state, your children are signed up for regular activities and lessons in that state, and you have been living there for some months already.
    Do you know how much an emergency room visit or an in-patient hospitalization or emergency surgery costs when you have to pay out-of-pocket? One accident suffered by anyone in the family could bankrupt you.
    Having proper, fully valid health insurance coverage is not to be taken lightly or put on the back burner.
    It is easy now… who knows for how much longer that will be the case, but at least for the moment, we have a system in our country that makes it relatively easy to get decent coverage.
    If you can’t afford to get a family policy for yourself and the kids in the marketplace, I believe that you can put your kids on the state Medicaid program while you get an individual policy for yourself on the marketplace.

    It annoys me when people take credit for their kids, saying that it means they are a good parent if they have a nice kid, a smart kid, a mature kid, or whatever.
    No, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily a good parent.
    Kids can be wonderful in many ways which have nothing to do with how they were raised or what kind of parenting their parents did.
    A lot of good kids come from situations where they did not have very good parenting.
    Indeed, sometimes the character of a fantastic, warm, mature person is forged in response to terrible times and having to cope with a misguided, selfish, narcissistic, dramatic upbringing.

    Also, the individual’s character, personality, education, other adults in his/her life, etc. greatly affect how the individual acts, behaves, succeeds, etc.

    If they don’t already, I’m sure her kids will soon privately read her blog and the reader comments, and I want to tell them to hang in there!

    It will settle down and they will thrive in school and in life, they will enjoy living in Pennsylvania, they will benefit from the diversity and the opportunities they have there. Things will calm down, get into a routine, and be better.

    I had a somewhat similar childhood where I had to be the reasonable, responsible, mature, coping person responding to an ADHD, dramatic, impractical, unhinged mother and how she kept moving herself and me around, going from husband to husband, wrecking what little stability we had every few years, but on top of that I was an only child with a useless, absent biological dad, and it was really hard to cope with it on my own. But it made me strong, calm, quiet, mature, and confident.

    You guys will be okay, just watch out for each other, keep up your hope and faith that it’s all for the best, and know that the future is going to be bright for you!

    • Mabel
      Mabel says:

      Oh My Gosh! Much of this should have been addressed privately, i.e. Nen’s opinions regarding the children. While Penelope’s blog opens herself to the opinions of others, Nen’s monologue borders on a rant; it does not sound as though it were authored by a “strong, calm, quiet, mature and confident” commentor, but rather one who is angry and trying to convince us AND themselves of these qualities.

      I do not agree with Penelope’s decision to move to PA entirely, and, yes, the insurance piece should have been nailed down before leaving WI, but she still deserves respect and not the rude and arrogant accusations that were registered by Nen…nor should her children!

      Thank you, Penelope, for being authentic.

  40. sghosh
    sghosh says:

    firstly beleave yourself, do meditation. and focus on what are you looking for. then start working. hope you will get success.

  41. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    I was going back through your post I haven’t read yet…..This one just broke my heart. We live in a parallel universe.

    Tear drops….😔💧

  42. Maria
    Maria says:

    It’s nice how your son understand your struggles. He is strong and you as well. Bless your heart. Everything will be alright.

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