Posts by findingalice7

I'm a freelance writer, a wife, and a mom. An aunt to 17 nieces and nephews, one great niece and one great nephew! I'm a sister to two brothers and three sisters. My Mom passed away in December of 2017, but thankfully my Dad is still with us, staying strong and making the best of things. I love coffee, black yoga pants, comedians, celebrity news, and over-sharing personal details about myself on the topics of losing my Mom, dealing with Crohn's disease, depression, anxiety, and secondary infertility. Essentially I am a barrel of monkeys to be around. I also enjoying sharing how my faith has played a role in my life, through all the ups (there have been mostly ups!) and downs.

The Toothpick-Legged Sheep

When I was growing up, we, like many families, had a manger scene. It was set up in our dining room each December. My mom would pull out a few encyclopedias (remember those?) off the shelf in our den, stack them on the “little buffet” table to the side of our dining room table, and then gently unfold and spread out a piece of green velvet that was reserved for this one special role. Together they became a verdant, green hill. 

Then we would take the lid off the sturdy white J. M. Towne department store box and unwrap the cast of characters from their blankets of yellowing tissue paper. This tissue paper, probably from circa 1965, was invincible. It was used and reused and not going anywhere. It smelled of mustiness and evergreens, and still retained a bit of the cold from being stored up in our attic. 

There was Mary. Joseph. The manger and then a separate Baby Jesus you could take out (and hide in the top drawer until Christmas morning when he was officially “born”).  A shepherd. A herd of sheep. A donkey. Two cows. Three wise men. A camel. And an angel. 

The angel stood on top of the velvet hill, overlooking the mother and father with the manger positioned between them. And then the animals, shepherd, and wise men took their places. 

Because our manger scene was so prominently displayed on a low side table,  it was attractive to the little hands of my nieces and nephews. But it was never considered off-limits. So, the scene might be re-arranged, and suddenly the angel was accompanied by a camel and a wiseman, Joseph was manning the manger and Mary was out on the dining room table along with the sheep, who were now having a picnic with my mom’s collection of assorted pig figurines and miniature pretend foods. It was like a Catholic Calico Critters set. 

After years and years, the set got a little bit chipped—the patina of play. But of all the figures, the sheep really took the brunt of it. Their delicate carved legs were individually positioned perfectly by the good people at Fontanini so that the sheep could be balanced and stand on their own (today’s toy manufacturers should take note). Even though each sheep was designed to be slightly different from the others, with a neck turned slightly, or a foot lifted a bit as if mid-step, they could stand. That is, until, they couldn’t.

Where did those wayward legs go? No one knows, I guess. Because, if found, my Mom would have reused them using her trusty glue gun. But these were fairly down-and-dirty repairs. I bet I can guess the reason. My Mom had 6 children of her own, upwards of 15 grandchildren (at the time, #16 didn’t come until 2012), and she was the Keeper of all the Christmas Magic. It’s not like she had time to whittle new sheep appendages. 

The first sheep to lose an extremity was given a prosthetic. But not a discreet one; she just snapped off a piece of a toothpick, glued it on, and boom, that sheep was back in action on the velvet stage. It’s debatable whether the second sheep fared better. After an incident that involved the loss of two limbs, he just got the two remaining hooves (or whatever they are on sheep?) hot glued to a piece of brown cardboard for stability. Back to work, Muttonchop. 

Over the years, my mom accumulated several more Nativity Sets. By this time, I was an opinionated twenty-year old, and in my estimation, *this was too many nativity scenes.* Flash forward maybe a decade later, we were helping to move my parents out of their home. Our task involved trying to downsize their 40+ years of accumulated belongings by about 95%. It was a heart-wrenching process, but it was clear that almost everything had to go. 

Going through some boxes, I found the Nativity scene. I knew as soon as I came across it—this was not destined for the dumpster in the driveway. At this stage in our lives, my siblings already had accrued Nativity scenes of their own. But Rick and I had only been married for a few years, and we hadn’t. So there wasn’t any negotiation needed, the manger scene came to New Hampshire with us. 

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know who now has a minimum of three nativity sets displayed at this time of the year. Because that’s how life goes. The moment you open your big bratty trap is the exact moment that thing becomes sealed in your destiny. We moan and groan about our parents’ idiosyncrasies as we “grow up” and grow out into the wide, wide world, and then one day turn around and promptly do the same things

This tattered old set is now one of my most prized possessions. I don’t know exactly how to describe the way I feel about it except to say that it’s the polar opposite of buyer’s remorse. When it’s early in December (or the day after Thanksgiving, who are we kidding?) and I go to unpack my Christmas decorations, I think to myself, I am so glad I was able to keep this set.  

One look at it and I am transported back to my childhood. My house growing up. The smells of Christmas. The bitter cold wind stinging my face. Being together as a family, with all or almost all of my older siblings under one roof. My parents—the dynamic duo, with Dad working tirelessly to finance Christmas and Mom, making it happen.  An ever-expanding crew of in-laws and babies. A fancy dinner out followed by the sleepy silence of a Midnight Mass. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I fared well in the presents department, too. (Just ask any one of my siblings…) But my parents also gave me (and all 6 of us) the best gift—the gift of faith. They weren’t opposed to “the things” of Christmas, but it was always clear that this holiday centered on the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I mean, it was laid out before us right there in the dining room. 

Now displayed in MY dining room (sans encyclopedias, green velvet, or three wisemen and camel which got lost in the shuffle somehow), the manger scene now hopefully provides the same kind of subtle lesson for Ryan. Together, he and I unwrap the pieces, and I lay eyes on the familiar faces of old friends: Mary, Joseph, the sweet little Baby Jesus, the angel, the shepherd, the cows, the donkey, and the ovine crew—of course, including the cardboard-mounted ewe and the toothpick-legged sheep. 

Lesson learned!


We all learned a lot today during the Wax Museum held by the second graders at our town elementary school. Of course, the intention was for the students to do the learning – researching a person who has “changed the world.” As a Mom, I learned something today too, although the lesson was not exactly what I was expecting to take away from the day…

So, at this Wax Museum, you press a pretend button and watch the wax figure come to life [Hall of Presidents style (#boringDisney whatwhat?)] and listen to each child recite a few lines about his or her chosen individual. Neil Armstrong, Flo Jo, Jane Goodall, Wayne Gretzky, Larry Bird, Amelia Earhart—to name just a few. My personal favorite, but I am biased, was a freckle-faced Thomas Alva Edison. New Jersey in ‘da houz!!!!!

Today I really walked away with another lesson in motherhood. And how NOT to Mom. Or, to “reframe this narrative” (thank you, Forever 35 podcast) a little more positively– how to better use my energy as a mom.

In preparation for this project, I fell victim to the faulty belief that more is more. As Ryan and I were putting together his costume for Thomas Alva Edison (by the way, T.A.E. is a terrible choice for this assignment based on the “interesting costume” factor) I felt like Ryan’s needed a little something more for oomph besides the black bowtie. Well, in my literal-as-the-day-is-long mind, I really felt like the pièce de résistance would be a bald cap with white hair around the sides. Because that’s the hair that Thomas Edison has in this picture:

Scan 1 2

Williams, Brian. (2001) Thomas Alva Edison. Chicago:  Reed Educational & Professional Publishing. You bet I cited it, biatch! English major 4 LYFE!


(Can we sidebar for a second here and talk about that very Helena Bonham Carter black rose-y lapel flower, though? Why didn’t I gravitate toward that?)

In true Procrasti-Katie form, I did not giving myself much time. (And notice I say giving MYSELF much time, because this was MY second grade project, right?) Amazon Prime could not help me locate a “balding cap with white hair” that could arrive on time, but a broader Google search did yield a match. Party City for the win! However, it was not available to be shipped, so instead I selected “In-volved Parent.”… I mean, “In-store pick-up.”

And, naturally, it was not in stock at any of the local Party City stores around me. SO THOMAS EDISON’S MOM DROVE LIKE A SHMUCKITY SHMUCK 30 MINUTES EACH WAY TO GET THE WHITE-HAIRED BALD CAP from Plaistow, New Hampshire!!!!

Mission accomplished. Feeling like an A+ Mom (…and, let’s face it, student) I returned home and proudly produced my wares after Ryan got home from school. When I say he was unphased, I mean, he was un. phased.

C’mon. Is this the best, or what?


This morning, as I walked into the classroom, who greeted me? My very lovable, front-tooth-missing, Thomas Alva Edison – and I’m sure you know where this is headed – he was NOT wearing the Plaistow-procured bald cap with white hair on the sides.

And you know what? He looked fine. Better than fine, he looked great! And he totally nailed it as Thomas Edison, without the stupid wig.

There was my lightbulb moment, friends. (See what I did there? Edison…improving the lightbulb….Anyone? Bueller?)

Back to the lessons: More isn’t always more. And my ideas aren’t always better.

From now on, I’ll put my energy to better use and try to strike a better balance between being involved but not too-too involved.



I kid you not, it had not even been one hour after I wrote the first draft of this that Ryan came home with news from school that Read Across America Week was coming up. Each of the themed days (crazy socks, dress as what you want to be when you grow up, wacky Wednesday, favorite book character day) and I broke into a cold sweat. CRAZY Socks?!?!?! We don’t have crazy socks. Where can I buy crazy socks? Why didn’t I buy that ridiculous taco hat I saw at Party City!?! What book character is he going to go for…is he having more of a Hardy Boys Moment or will he go the Dog Man route, or…. wait..a..minute. This is it. Me. Doing it again.

Old dog. New tricks.



The 36 Day Delay

I’m super-pumped to share that last year I was invited to contribute to Seacoast Moms, a collaborative site geared towards parents in my area— the Seacoast of New Hampshire. Pieces are written by moms for moms (and dads, too).

While I only contribute monthly, man that month rolls around quickly. But I gotta admit, I love a deadline. The only problem is that I haven’t been as focused on sitting down and writing for Finding Alice because I am the deadline setter and I’M A PUSHOVER FOR A BOSS!!!!!!

Truth be told, I’m constantly thinking about this blog and what I’d like to write about. If procrastination were a sport, I would be, like, the Simone Biles of it.


But, it’s all about to change in 2020. Oh, we’re a month in?

New idea. I’m starting my New Year’s resolution 36 days in. That’s actually my resolution, put everything on a 36 day delay, and so far, I am off to an excellent start.

Here are a few of my pieces for Seacoast Moms, if you’d like to take a little gander.
(*Please note, clicking on each title will link you to the article. Miss WordPress Guru over here can’t figure out how to change the color from nigh-night gray to something more interesting…Who can help a girl out? )

Diagnosis? A Case of the Man Flu

I used to reference “the Man Flu” all the time, and tease Rick for it whenever I saw a window of opportunity. No more. Here’s why.

One Thing You Shouldn’t Say When a Friend’s Mom Dies

Obviously inspired by my personal experience losing my Mom, Alice, I wrote this to remind myself and anyone reading about how important it is to reach out to someone going through something tough. Even if you don’t know what to say.

Allergies & Halloween: 4 Easy Ways to Welcome All Trick-or-Treaters

Although this was obviously written for Halloween, it may be helpful to get you thinking about food allergies when it come to any kind of group gathering— BBQ, birthday party, etc. If your family members or friends don’t have food allergies, they probably aren’t on your radar at all. My son, Ryan, developed allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and egg before he turned one, so it’s been on the top of my mind 24/7 since 2013.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coming very soon. Sooner than another 36 days!

Well, hello there!


Saw this hands-on exhibit at the Portland Children’s Museum in May. I’m Finding Alice everywhere!

First of all, I just want to say thank you for all the support after I started this blog earlier in the year. I am so lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who rally behind my cockamamie ideas.

Secondly, I wanted to report back that I received an overwhelming amount of feedback from friends from all chapters of my life who shared that they, too, cope with anxiety and/or depression.

If you are following along with my blog because you can relate to some of those mental health challenges, just a reminder: We are SO NOT ALONE. I knew that, or at least suspected it, but it became very apparent when so many friends opened up to me about what they struggle with as well.

For this reason, I feel it’s important to share that I tabled the blog for the winter/spring because I got pretty walloped by a wave of depression. It wasn’t completely shocking – winter is historically a tough time of year for me, with like 7 minutes of sunshine per day. And after the fun of Christmas is over, January, February, and March (…and April…and most of May) in New Hampshire are long months. On the other hand, there was really no reason to feel so awful.

That’s what I’ve found to be so frustrating about depression. It can hit you so hard, and yet absolutely nothing is “wrong.” In fact, there are so many blessings in my life, I felt really ungrateful for feeling so down.

Thankfully, I wasn’t completely incapacitated, as I know many people can be. I just put my head down and focused on moving forward, but all of my energy went to keeping life normal for Rick and Ryan, and taking care of myself. There was no creative juice left for Finding Alice.

I want to put it in writing for myself, for when I have down moments again, and for anyone else who needs to read it: It will get better. When you are in the throes of it, it is virtually impossible to believe. But it will. It will get better.

Increasing my medication, maintaining regular check-ins with my therapist, lots and lots of prayer, adding more structure to my days, being patient, being grateful, and holding out hope for better days —these were some of the steps I took to help. I also tried to incorporate some exercise (let’s get real, this was minimal but since my baseline is fairly, um, nonexistant, I think even a little helped. To my body it must’ve felt like I was marathon training even though I was just walking on the treadmill!) Self-care was also key. For me, self-care treats are things like taking a bath while reading People or Us Magazine, and also watching or listening to comedians on Netflix and Spotify. Laughter is the best medicine, they say. (Well…maybe second to anti-depressants?)

As I prepared to get back into the blog, I was thinking about what to write for this post, and the Gospel reading on September 8 (Luke 14: 25-33) had a line that particularly struck me:

“No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple.”

I had to smile and have a little conversation in my heart with my Mom, who was very vocal about the fact that we all have our crosses, our struggles, to carry—just as Jesus carried his cross. Whenever I’d lament the (seemingly) perfect life of a friend at school, or get down about something, she was always quick with the reminder, “We all have our crosses, Katie. And you wouldn’t want someone else’s.” It was always hard to argue with that one.

So, here’s to carrying our crosses. May we all find the strength to carry them each day and look for ways to help other carry theirs.



7 Truths About Catholics During Lent

Oh hey there! It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted, mostly because this has been a germ-filled first quarter of the year for the Feeney family. Thankfully, it’s just been a constant stream of smaller things, but it has been an enlightening experience for me, particularly as a wife, so watch out for a future post about my relationship with the Man Flu.

I’ve mentioned that my faith would be a part of this blog, and so thought I might share a few insights into life as a Catholic during this season of Lent. For the non-Catholics out there, Lent is the forty-day period leading up to Easter during which Christians prepare spiritually for the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead. The Lenten Launch Party kicked off on March 6—Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time of self-reflection, fasting, and penance. In other words, it’s fun! 😊

No, but seriously, I do really find my faith fulfilling, and I appreciate the benefits I get from some of these tougher practices that come around this time of the year.

To review some of the basics, on Ash Wednesday, Catholics get a mark of ashes on the forehead to remind us that we are all mortal and will return to ash/dust. This gives us the chance to assess our lives to see what ways we can become better people to reach the goal of getting to Heaven. On Ash Wednesday, and later, on Good Friday, we fast during the day (eat small, simple meals and nothing in between) and avoid meat. We also abstain from eating meat on all the other Fridays during Lent.

Not to brag, but I’ve been doing this Lenten thing for a long time.  And I feel like there are certain global truths you come face-to-face with during this spiritual season. I’d like to share some of these with you.

Seven Truths About Catholics During Lent

1. You will never touch your forehead as much in your LIFE as you do on an Ash Wednesday. The ashes, which initially are applied in the shape of a cross, quickly become a Rorschach smudge because you’re suddenly inspired to use the ol’ exaggerated face palm gesture, itch your forehead incessantly, or wear a headband that you haven’t worn for 364 days. You get the idea.

2. Even if you don’t like tuna fish in general, you WILL crave it during Lent. Except those cravings will only hit on Thursdays—the day beforeit’s the best/ most convenient meatless meal option that you will have during the day. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been dying for, and eaten, a tuna sando on a Thursday, only to realize that I will probably have to eat it for back-to-back lunches. Annoying.

3. Pizza, without the meaty toppings (obviously), is an excellent option for lunch or dinner. However, if you have a family that doesn’t like it, you are in a BAD SPOT when it comes to Lenten meal planning. But in all honesty, you should’ve married better and raised better. So that’s on you.

4. Life is crazy all the time. You might frequently have days where you get going, find yourself in a productive groove, and then realize that it’s been hours since you’ve last eaten, and you’re still good to go. You may, like me, not be much of a “lunch person.” Doesn’t matter. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, days when you have to fast, you’ll feel like death from start to finish, and will be aware of each and every minute that you’re not allowed to eat. You will also somehow see an outrageous number of mouth-watering, food-oriented commercials on these two days of the year.

5. A benefit to today, the first Friday after Ash Wednesday, is that you’ll be rejoicing that today you can eat all day long, it just can’t contain meat. SO EASY! It’s all relative though, and by next Friday, the requirement to avoid meat will feel impossible all on its own. “NO MEAT? HOW CAN THAT BE?!?! THIS IS AN ATROCITY!” Meanwhile the vegetarians and vegans are doing this all day err day. Lent must be a walk in the park for the Catholic vegetarian/vegans out there. (And in that case, do you have to give up something else, like your favorite veggie instead? Deep thoughts….)

6. You WILL get invited to a sumptuous meal at an upscale steak house. And you know what day it will be? A Friday. In fact, there will be many meat-oriented opportunities that all seem to find themselves on that one day of the week during Lent. Your boss will treat the office to a free lunch of meat-laden subs, on a Friday, of course. You’ll hit the grocery store on a Friday only to find it is a meat-eriffic Sample Day. Have kids? Instead of the traditional indoor play place party, yours will be invited to a sausage-making soiree on a Friday night. Ok that last one’s a stretch, but you get the idea.

7. It’s understandable to get confused mid-week if it’s a Tuesday or a Wednesday. These are generally not exciting days of the week. But as a society we are geared towards Fridays, working the week toward this sacred finale, a carrot we dangle over our heads to keep us going. We say stupid things like “TGIF!” and “Fri-yay!”out loudto one another. We get pumped up when Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” hits the Lite FM station. And when the clock strikes 5:00 pm, we take off like Fred Flintstone sliding down the proverbial dino’s back to get on with whatever it is that we’ve got planned. My point is, it’s easy to keep track of Fridays, but not for Catholics during Lent. Though there are but a handful of Lenten Fridays, we will all, inevitably, lose track of what day of the week it is and mistakenly take (at a minimum) a bite of meat at some point on the ONE DAY A WEEK we aren’t supposed to. I can’t make this stuff up, people. It’s just the way it goes.

The Mistake

I am the youngest of six kids. When I was born in July of 1981, my Dad was 48 and my Mom was 43. My siblings were 20, 19, 18, 17, and 14 years old.

It is shocking to me the amount of people who, my WHOLE LIFE, have said, immediately upon hearing this information, “Oh, so you were a mistake.” Sometimes instead of “mistake” the word “oops” has been substituted, but still, the sentiment was the same.

Of course, I get it. Fourteen years is a long time. I welcome exclamations. Appropriate responses could include “Wow!” or “What a big family!” or “That’s a big age gap!” But maybe, and I’m just riffing here, but maybe you shouldn’t call someone a “mistake,” like ever, maybe. Even if you’re thinking it, don’t SAY IT! Keep it in your thought bubble, as they say at my son’s school.

Like, how exactly should I respond to that? “Yup! Totally not meant to be. It’s a wonder I can even do anything around here being all mistakey and stuff. Just going to head over here to the Island of Misfit Toys…”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Ah, the depression and therapy is making ALLLLLLLLLL sorts of sense and it’s only her fourth post. Katie, you can start saving all those co-pays, I understand the root of all your issues!”

But surprisingly, from the very beginning, these words—though having very destructive potential—miraculously never impacted me. For all of my shortcomings and immaturity in a variety of arenas, not to mention being overly-sensitive at times (lots of times, Rick might say!), I have always had an amazingly mature perspective on this one. For some reason, I always knew that this kind of statement said nothing about me, and everything about the speaker. After all, who says that!??! (It turns out, a lot of people.)

My sense of security in this area stems from the two greatest parents, Tom and Alice Morris. My parents made it very clear that, technically, none of their children were planned. As Catholics and the OG Rule Followers, Rulio Iglesias and Rulia Louis-Dreyfus, they put it all in God’s hands.

Now, I’ll take a step back and give you this: When three of your siblings are in college and two are in high school at the time you are born, you are a bit of a… surprise. And that’s the word I use. Surprise. See the difference?

Mistake. SURPRISE!

Mistake. SURPRISE!

I hear “mistake” and I think of grubby elementary school worksheets with smudgy pencil marks that have to be erased.  But “surprise”? That’s like, colorful balloons and confetti! A surprise party! And trust me, I’ve been a party.

Over the course of my life, I’ve learned more about the details of the story. My Mom, being positively GERIATRIC at age 43 was at a higher risk of having a baby with a genetic abnormality because of her age. And on top of that, she also suffered from ulcerative colitis (similar/related to Crohn’s disease) so there were some major health risks that would come along with this pregnancy. She was heavily advised by her doctor to have an abortion.

Now, Alice wasn’t having that for even a split second and she made that very clear to her doctor. For that, I am grateful. But I can appreciate that, at that moment, life took a rapid hairpin turn right back to the starting line of parenthood. For over two decades, she and my dad had worked very hard together to raise their wonderful kids. They were almost there!

While my Mom (a nurse by training) was at home running the show, my Dad was making the benjamins as a middle school math teacher. Together in their “off hours” (if parents even really have those) they also worked on their side hustle, a group tour travel business, which was really taking off. They were finally getting to be in a financially secure place, starting to travel themselves, and beginning to put their retirement plans into place. As we ALL can imagine, traditionally retirement plans do not include a smart-assy, shrimp cocktail-eating, demander of cotton stirrup pants because jeans feel uncomfortable. Traditionally.

Now the logical trajectory of this argument is for me to now say, “And WHERE WOULD THE WORLD BE without Katie Morris Feeney in it!??!” But I also have enough perspective to say, I’m just a person. I’m insignificant to most. I haven’t found a cure for cancer. I don’t have the solution for world peace. I’m sitting here right now (on January 17) looking at my Christmas tree because I haven’t even taken that down yet. (Don’t judge.) But I can make my small mark, have my small ripple effect on the world.

Speaking of Christmas (excuse the out-of-season reference, but this Christmas tree is right in front of me) isn’t that the reason, for decades upon decades, people love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life? Through George Bailey, we’re reminded that we matter. We make an impact. Our reach might not be the whole town of Bedford Falls, but we affect our close circles nonetheless. After all, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

Having depression and going through those ups and downs, I work very hard to keep that thought top of mind. Though somehow the “mistake” language never got to me, depression did. I have felt the low lows, the negative self-talk, and the feeling that I don’t matter. You’ve probably seen the quote, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”  When you’re feeling down, especially with depression, it’s really easy to focus on the just being one person part. It’s much harder to remember or believe that to one person, you may be the world. You may not even notice who you are impacting.

I’ve been on the receiving end of one of those random acts of kindness—you know, when the person ahead of you in the drive-thru line pays for your coffee? (I know, I know… I have a coffee problem…) I have to tell you, that really put a spring in my step for the rest of the day. It made me appreciate the importance of the little things.

It got me thinking, Isn’t that enough? Aren’t we enough if we can just make a moment in a day better for someone else? I sure hope so, otherwise I have some serious brainstorming on world peace to do… But it’s definitely an approach that has helped me crawl, inch by inch, out of the darkness. And sometimes, when you focus on helping other people, you start to feel better yourself.

As Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” We’re not all going to do big and important things that change the world, but we can absolutely do little things that positively impact those around us.

And on that note, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Christmas tree to deal with!

Get yourself a therapist


In my first post, I shared that I have anxiety and depression. It’s not particularly easy for me to put it out there, but I think it’s important to.

Am I the most anxious or the most depressed person out there? Probably not. I’m just saying I definitely experience anxiety (sometimes about things that make total sense and other times about things that aren’t really logical) and different degrees of depression as well. Sometimes depression is situational and expected, like in the aftermath of my Mom passing away last year, and other times, it hits me for no particular reason at all.

In the same way that I take medication to treat my Crohn’s, I also take it to help with my anxiety and depression. And yet for some reason, I’ll talk about taking prednisone or Stelara for Crohn’s ‘til the cows come home, but I’ll drop my voice to a whisper if I’m sharing that I take shhhhh medicine for <exaggerated mouthing> de pre ssion and an xi e ty.

So the stigma’s still there. I try to fight it, but I feel it. But I figured I would take this opportunity to share a little piece of advice: Get yourself a therapist.

I mean it. I think there are very few people who DON’T need to see a therapist for one reason or another. It is one of the best things I have done for myself. I like to think of it as a spa for the spirit. Of course, there’s the whole insurance and financial piece that can make it difficult to get the ball rolling, but if you are the only thing standing between you and therapy, I’m here to tell you: get out of your own way and go for it.

One of the best “gifts” a close friend gave to me was the gentle push to find a therapist again. She knew I had seen one in college and early adulthood when I lived in the Boston area, and that, when I moved with Rick and Ryan to California for a year, I took a break. After we returned to the east coast, I got together with this friend and she reminded me that, now that I was going to be settled again, it might be a good idea to find a new therapist in New Hampshire.

And I’m so glad she said it. I wasn’t opposed to it, I was just kind of in my not-going-to-therapy groove and it just hadn’t really occurred to me.

Finding a therapist is definitely a task. And even when you find someone on paper, it doesn’t always mean that person is a good “match.” You should really connect with that person – and sometimes that takes a few sessions to figure out if it’s a good fit. If you not “ vibin’ ” as Ariana Grande would say, then you start over with someone else. thank u, next.

It’s kind of like dating. Except when you’re dating you don’t usually frontload all your issues into the first 45 minutes of meeting someone…usually.  That’s a post for another day. And it was three dates in, okay!??!

I’ve stuck with therapy even during “good” and “uneventful” times, and I’m happy I have, because that support was already in place when things got harder. If you’ve been thinking that you would benefit from therapy but you’re feeling pretty good at the moment, it might seem counterintuitive, but this would actually be an excellent time to get going on it.

Sadly, my local community is reeling from a recent middle schooler’s suicide. And this isn’t unique to my town. We all have to start approaching mental health differently.

In an attempt to do so, our school district is having a speaker come to talk to parents about signs of emotional distress, which I think is wonderful, and I’ll take any help I can get. The more information, the better. But wouldn’t it be great if we were tackling mental health before it got to a level of distress? If our mental health was treated as important as our physical health? If check-ins with therapists were considered preventative care like dental cleanings? And if that all started really early on in life, like well-child visits/annual physicals?

I’m also going to propose this: maybe we need to lead by example. Maybe the best gift you can give your child or children is going to therapy yourself. Why? It sends the message that you deserve to take care of yourself. And that mental health is as normal and important as physical health. Secondly, it can help to make your relationships and your home environment healthier, and that’s good for everyone. And third, your child or children will see that if they are struggling with something, if they have things they want to discuss privately with a professional, it’s okay.

Also, this doesn’t just apply to parent/child relationships. You may influence a co-worker, a bestie, a bae, a roommate, a significant other, a frat bro, your hair stylist, a barista, a gym buddy, or dog park friend to seek help, by your example. That doesn’t mean you have to shout it from a rooftop, either. But you might share it with select, trusted friends (like your favorite barista–Shout out to mine, Andrew at the Target Starbucks!–) at the appropriate time.

Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re weak. Or crazy. Or weird. It doesn’t mean you had a bad childhood. Or that you have a troubled marriage. Or that you’re on the brink of suicide.

It does mean that life is hard. Relationships are hard. Not having a relationship is hard. Illness is hard. Parenthood is hard. Work is hard.

Going to therapy has helped me more than I can say. And I hope that, if you’ve ever thought that it might be helpful for you, that you’ll join me. Not in one of my sessions, though. That would be weird.

The Hike

About ten years ago, when I first met Rick, it was pretty clear from the beginning that he was The One.

If you know Rick, that’s not surprising. Handsome, funny, smart, kind—he was the total package. But, of course, everyone has their flaws. And I should have seen this coming. He went to school in Maine. He carried a Nalgene bottle. He had a propensity for all things L.L. Bean. That’s right. Rick was…..outdoorsy. 

Since high school, I prided myself on being an indoor cat. I was not interested in “physical activity” or, you know, “doing healthy things.”

“No one every got hurt reading a good book!” I would proudly exclaim after hearing about a sports injury. I loved movies, and tv, and reading, but it was just not my thing to head outside in my free time. 

Then in waltzes this amazing guy and well, love makes you do crazy things. Before I know it, I’m slated for a Saturday hike. I’ll admit that in an atypical way, I kind of wanted to go. You know, do something novel and crazy. For some people that might mean jumping out of a plane. For me it was walking on a dirt trail, okay?  But then the anxiety popped up. With Crohn’s disease, I would often have to use the bathroom at a moment’s notice. Sometimes multiple times in a row. That’s not exactly desirable dating material, I’ll admit. I didn’t particularly love it myself. And not having access to a bathroom, and then worrying about access to a bathroom, was a recipe for exactly what I didn’t want: having to use a bathroom. 

I once heard a story (a true story about a college friend’s friend from high school, not an urban legend) about a guy who simply thought about his girlfriend having to go #2 and had to break up with her!!! That’s the kind of stuff that haunted my dreams. It’s hard enough to find someone to date. You don’t really want your embarrassing bathroom habits to be what drives him or her away.

But I was hoping that things would turn out for the best, and that maybe I’d be so happy and in so in loooove that my intestines would just be simply twitterpated (Bambi reference) and just take the day off. Basically, I just figured I’d deal with the ensuing embarrassment in the moment, and then wish him well as he finds his perfect, outdoorsy, never-pooping match somewhere else.

So I arrive and, just to set the scene, Rick is packing up a backpack with some water and trail mix…and I’m standing there in flip-flops and oversized sunglasses and wondering if I can stop and get a venti cappuccino on the way. (Also, not going to help with the bathroom situation, but I’m a glutton for punishment.)

‘Oh, one more thing!” he exclaims.  He leaves the room and comes back with a twinkle in his eye. He’s got something behind his back. “We should probably bring this too, just in case, right?” And there, in his hand, rested a gleaming, two-ply roll of “will you marry me.” Okay, he wasn’t proposing, but he was standing there holding a toilet paper roll. Like my gastrointestinal knight in shining armor. 

That was yet another a major sign that Rick was The One for me. From very early on, he accepted who I was and what I was challenged with. He didn’t gloss over it but he didn’t make it a big deal, either. That TP spoke volumes to me. And you know what? It took just enough of the edge off of my anxiety that I never needed to use it on that hike.

So I hope that, whatever you struggle with, I hope you have—or keep looking for!—  someone to bring you TP, whether that’s literal or metaphorical. That person doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, just a friend who accepts you for exactly who you are. Someone who takes your issues or struggles in stride, as part of the overall wonderful package of You. Someone who is willing to tackle things alongside you, to whatever degree you need it.

Actually, first and foremost, I hope you are a step ahead of where I was, and that you are ok with bringing your own damn toilet paper. You know, ok with being exactly who you are, take it or leave it! But I also hope you find the companionship of a person who packs the TP for you, flashes it to you secretly with a knowing grin, and then takes you out for a hike. 

Here we go…


Finding Alice

It was probably two years ago now that I was sitting in church and the particular prayer on my mind was, Ok God, what do you want me to do with the rest of my life?  After all, things hadn’t quite turned out as I’d expected. 

Rick and I are both from big families. Mine includes 5 siblings and 15 nieces and nephews, and now a great-niece and a great-nephew! Rick’s includes a brother, a niece and a nephew, plus a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. Naturally, when we got married seven years ago, we assumed we would also be blessed with a large family. Two months before our first anniversary, Ryan was born. We were off to a great start! We even picked our stroller based on how it would work for two kiddos because we were so sure another baby would soon follow. And then, nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, life was good. But from a baby perspective, it wasn’t going according to MY plan. Probably the most frustrating part was that I was so excited to use our name for a girl. (Well, we had a considerable list of girl names, but this was the front runner. And I’ll have you know I am breaking MAJOR Morris Family protocol by sharing a baby name…my sisters are going to be outraged. Sorry Mary, Eileen, and Colleen!) But if we had a baby girl, her name was going to be Alice. My Mom’s name. 

Not long after we moved to New Hampshire, we learned that scar tissue was very likely the reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant. Over 25 years of Crohn’s disease meant a handful of surgeries, and surgeries can lead to scar tissue. Unfortunately when that’s in the lower abdominal area, it can affect the surrounding organs. So basically, it did not look good for more Feeney babies. I was used to, and accepted (not always gracefully), Crohn’s affecting other aspects of my life, but it had never occurred to me that it would impact my dreams of having a big family. 

So back to the pew in St. Michael Church, asking God for guidance. I’m sitting there wondering, If I’m not going to have any more kids (the thing which I had assumed would occupy the better part of at least two decades) what do You want me to do with the rest of my life? At the time, Ryan was going to be starting a longer day of preschool, so I would have more time on my hands. Should I keep freelancing? Should I write something else? Should I go back to school?

Of course, God didn’t whisper in my ear as I was sitting there, and I wasn’t expecting that. I was just formally starting the convo and trying get serious about my own process of self-reflection at the same time. 

When Mass was over, I had coffee on my mind, obviously. As I pulled out of my street parking spot, I was minding my own business, plotting my Dunkin Donuts order, when all of a sudden I noticed the car ahead of me had a vanity plate. The vanity plate read: ALICE. 

Now, COME ON. Right?

So I really felt a sense of hope. Maybe another baby is still in the plan, I thought. I tried to keep the faith. But another year passed without any success. 

Around this time, my Mom’s forgetfulness started to turn into something more. I remember a phone conversation I was having with one of my sisters. I told her the story of the vanity plate. “You know,” she said, “maybe the Alice is Mom. Maybe it has something to do with her.”

That hadn’t even really occurred to me. Of course when I first saw the vanity plate, my Mom wasn’t in any need of help. I’d like to think that in the very quick progression of her illness, until she passed away in December 2017, that I did help her. But I wasn’t her primary caregiver, and I wasn’t even able to contribute in the same ways that my other siblings did, because I was so far away in New Hampshire and my schedule was pretty limited with Ryan being in school. While I tried to help where I could, I just don’t feel like I did enough for her for that to be It.   

I’m still trying to figure it out. And honestly, I haven’t given up hope on another baby. But for now,  I’m starting this blog. I’m a writer. Might as well start with this! I’m calling it, Finding Alice. It’s kind of like my personal metaphor for finding out more about my purpose in life. 

Some days Finding Alice will be a way for me to share how I’m finding my Mom, and her influence, in my day-to-day life.

I’ve been wondering if my purpose in life has something to do with my experiences with Crohn’s disease, depression, and anxiety, so I’ll share about these personal experiences as well. My hope is that this might help someone struggling with one of these things—or struggling with SOME thing. It always helps to know we are not alone. We all have our crosses to bear. 

You’ll probably see a post or two about The Bachelor/Bachelorette, because I need some sort of outlet for all this cerebral stuff I’ve got going on up here in my brain.

Of course this wouldn’t be a blog written by me, if I didn’t share about my faith and how that has played, and continues to play, a role in my life. Will I be able to intertwine this with a Bachelor post? Only time will tell!

Finding Alice will also be a way for me to share and laugh about a smorgasbord of other life experiences. A way for me to fight the Facebook tendency, and I’ll fully admit, MY Facebook tendency, to post a select view of life. I’d prefer to live a little bit more authentically, even though that also means being a bit more vulnerable. I’ll admit, I’m terrified. See above: Anxiety. 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as I’ve enjoyed agonizing about writing this. 


I welcome all comments INCLUDING differences of opinion as long as they are expressed with kindness and respect.