Honoring the moms among us all
It takes courage to be a mom, and none of us who’ve taken the mantle of motherhood have emerged unscathed in one way or another.
Beth Booker and Carole McDanel’s feature story is among the most heartful you’ll ever hear about motherly love and surviving the storms of life.
Pregnancy can be an incredibly joyous time, but its effects can cause or exacerbate mental health issues in expectant and new mothers. Our guest author explains what to look for and how to get help if you or someone you love is in distress during this vulnerable time.
Mother’s Day is coming up May 14 and we’re celebrating the women who gave us life with some memorable ways to honor the moms you love.
Hurricane Ian was a painful reminder to protect our cherished photographs by digitizing and storing them. The options seem endless, but we offer a brief overview of the various processes and places to start.
We end this chapter with simple thanks from a mom who loves being the person her boys, ages 1, 3 and 10, can count on.
As acclaimed author Mitch Albom wrote, “…there's a story behind everything. …But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”
in this issue
‘Like Paper and Glue’
Mother-daughter bond weathers the worst of storms
by Kathy Grey
You might recognize Beth Booker’s name. The Naples resident’s harrowing quest to reach her mom, who rode out Hurricane Ian in her Fort Myers Beach home, made national news. (Spoiler if you haven’t seen it on Good Morning America: Her mom, Carole McDanel, escaped harm from the storm, but her home wasn’t as fortunate.)
After hour upon hour of unsuccessful tries to reach her mom and utilizing every social media resource available, Booker’s friend, Will Vanderslice, owner of Boat Butler in Naples, took a boat to check on McDanel in Fort Myers Beach.
“They thought I was dead,” McDanel says.
Booker stayed behind in Naples with her children, dreading that she might have lost her mom to the storm. She was on the phone with Vanderslice as he approached McDanel’s dwelling.
“And then I saw Will,” McDanel says.
Booker was a nervous wreck. “I was on the edge of my seat. And there she was: sitting on the couch.”
McDanel’s garage, which sits at a lower elevation than the house, was flooded, destroying precious photo memories she and Booker thought would be safe on the top shelf.
Those memories include precious and irreplaceable photos of Booker’s father, Jeff Castle, who died suddenly at age 33 of a previously undetected heart issue when she was just one week shy of her fifth birthday.
Father and daughter were estranged from Beth’s birth mother and lived with Castle’s mother and stepfather, Carole and “Bunky” McDanel. Bunky and Carole adopted Booker and were her mom and papa from that day forward.
To clarify, the woman Booker so desperately needed to reach after Hurricane Ian is her biological grandmother, but McDanel is every bit her mom.
Until insurance matters are settled about her home, McDanel is living with the Booker family in Naples.
“I have ‘Grandma duty’ every Tuesday and Thursday,” she says, spending quality time with Booker’s two boys, Calvin, age 7, and Everett, age 4. This bonding time gives Booker extra hours to focus on her Naples public relations and marketing agency, Gracie PR.
The Power of Parenting
“Kids who lose parents at a young age aren’t always fortunate to have guardians,” Booker says. “That day (when dad died), everything changed, and I called her mom. We filled a void for each other at this exact moment in time when we needed a counterpart.”
McDanel, then nearing 50, had always wanted a daughter, and Booker filled that longing. Booker’s “Papa” was in his late 50s with grown children from his first marriage.
“I am grateful that I grew up in a beautiful life,” Booker says.
“When she moved in with us, Elizabeth was 17 months old,” McDanel says. “We traveled to Hawaii, Disney, on cruises…” and to their Fort Myers Beach second home. “She was our life.”
Of her papa, Bunky McDanel, Booker says, “He had grown kids from his first marriage. To have a little girl come into his life at 58 had to be a lot. But he wanted to give me the world.”
As a teen, when Booker stayed out late and needed a ride home, “I would call him to pick me up and we’d have breakfast at 2 in the morning and watch movies.” Those moments were their secret until her papa’s death in 2016.
Mom to Mom
After raising her son as a single mother for so many years, McDanel’s world might have collapsed when he died. Indeed, she says she wouldn’t have been able to go on had it not been for the little 5-year-old in her care.
“Her strength showed throughout my growing up. There’s nothing you can put her up against that she can’t handle,” Booker says. “She’s tough as nails.”
Together, the women focus on the positives and honor Booker’s dad on the day he was born and the anniversary of his death.
McDanel raised Booker to be her own person and to pursue her dreams.
“I wanted her to grow up to be herself. Women are strong. There’s nothing you can’t do that anyone else can do. She has made me proud my whole life.”
“She’s my survivor and my lifeline,” McDanel says of her daughter. “I can’t imagine life without her and the children. I’m very, very fortunate to have a daughter who loves me as much as I love her. We’re like paper and glue.”
Booker tells her children they can talk to her about anything, just as her mom had told her.
And having faced so many of life’s storms together, their shared philosophy is this: “I am your safe place.”
Beth Booker shares her powerful story of resilience and hope on The Life Shift Podcast.
For Moms-to-Be and Those Who Love Them
During pregnancy, don’t forget your mental health
by Wendy Rasmussen
For many new and expectant moms, the physical changes and emotional stresses of the perinatal period can take a toll on their mental health.
Perhaps the most widely recognized example of this is postpartum depression, which begins in the weeks following delivery. But depression and other mood disorders can occur any time before or after the birth of a baby. For some women, a mental health condition may be the continuation or recurrence of a symptom that existed before pregnancy. For others, it may show up in pregnancy for the first time.
Pregnancy is an emotional time. It’s important to know the difference between normal emotions and a serious mental health condition. Like most pregnant women, you probably worry about lots of things, including your baby’s health and the changes occurring in your own body. A mental health condition like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is different. Symptoms of GAD may include:
Panic attacks, or abrupt episodes of intense fear without cause
Rapid or deep breathing, hyperventilation
Repeated thoughts or fears that something will happen to the baby
Nighttime restlessness or difficulty sleeping
An occasional blue mood is very different from major depressive disorder (MDD). The first sign of MDD is a sad mood that lasts all day on most days and persists for at least two weeks. Symptoms of MDD may include:
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy
Lack of energy or feeling tired all the time
Withdrawal from friends and loved ones
Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness or guilt
Difficulty with concentration and memory
Sleeping too little or too much
Thoughts of death or self-harm
Physiological and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy as well as the physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy and preparation for childbirth are thought to trigger or worsen mental health conditions. Although any woman can experience serious anxiety or depression during pregnancy, you may be more at risk if you:
Have experienced depression or other mental health conditions in the past or have an immediate family member who has
Lack access to quality health care or health insurance
Have undergone a major life stressor
Lack a support system of family and friends
Have a substance use disorder
Have diabetes, either existing or beginning during pregnancy
Have pregnancy complications or are expecting multiple babies
Screening for depression and anxiety should be part of regular prenatal care. If your doctor asks questions about your mental health, be sure to answer honestly.
Unfortunately, not all expectant moms get mental health screenings. If your doctor doesn’t ask and you’re feeling anxious or depressed, don’t be afraid to speak up. You shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed to seek help when you need it, especially when it affects both you and your baby.
There are many effective treatments for mental health conditions. Counseling, or psychotherapy, is the cornerstone of therapy during pregnancy. Other treatments may include:
Support groups with other expectant moms to share experiences and feelings
Interventions such as deep-breathing techniques and meditation
Medications, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers
It’s important to weigh the potential risk of the medications against the risks of untreated depression. Many drugs can pass through the placenta to your baby. Certain antidepressants may cause miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth or some congenital disabilities. If you’re already taking medication for a condition that existed before pregnancy, it’s important not to stop treatment without speaking with your doctor.
Treating mental health conditions that occur in pregnancy is important not only for the mother but also for her baby. A growing body of research suggests that a mother’s mental health during pregnancy can affect her baby’s developing brain and may influence her child’s psychological state later on.
Depression during pregnancy could potentially lead to developmental, learning and behavioral concerns in children. The children of mothers who were depressed during pregnancy may also be at greater risk of mental health conditions later in life.
Depression during pregnancy may also increase the risk a baby will:
Be born prematurely
Be small for their gestational age
Have a low birth weight – less than five pounds, eight ounces at birth
Be more irritable and less active than babies of mothers without depression
For expectant mothers, an untreated mental health condition can detract from the joy of pregnancy, make it difficult to prepare for the baby’s arrival, and to breastfeed or properly care for her newborn. Antenatal mental health conditions may also persist or worsen after childbirth.
If you’re pregnant and experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, speak with your doctor or midwife. They can help you get treatment so pregnancy and new parenthood can be the happy time you and your baby deserve.
Wendy Rasmussen is a licensed clinical psychologist, and director of clinical engagement at SonderMind.com. As an avid experience-seeker, she is often in the water or on her bike in her free time.
JUST FOR MOM
Mother’s Day celebrations and gifts she’ll treasure
Giving from your heart will make her day
by Kimberly Blaker
The role of mothers in shaping their daughters’ and sons’ lives is unsurpassed. Mothers teach us to love, be strong, be confident, persist, live life to its fullest and be the best we can be.
This year, give your mom a gift from the heart and your undivided time to make it a special day to remember. Here are some festive ideas.
Mother’s Day Brunch
Serve your mom a scrumptious breakfast or take her out for Mother’s Day brunch. If you prepare it yourself, don’t forget the fresh-cut flowers for the table centerpiece.
What better way to spend a spring day than together in your mother’s garden? Pick up her favorite annuals and perennials and enjoy a relaxing day together, planting and sprucing up her flower garden and catching up on life.
Give your mom a keepsake that’ll be dear to her heart. If you’re a daughter, purchase “Mothers & Daughters: A Record Book About Us” to fill out and share with her.
Sons can make their own record book of photos or start to a deeper mutual understanding with their moms by purchasing “Mother & Son: Our Back-and-Forth Journal.” It’s a fun, screen-free interactive journal that turns moments of free time into a forum for both participants to learn more about each other.
Include photos and memories about special times the two of you have had together, the most important things you remember about your mother from your childhood, how she has inspired you and the times you look forward to in the future.
The Main Event
Surprise your mother with tickets to an event she’s been dying to see: the ballet, a concert, play or musical, the opera, a favorite sporting event, a comedy show or dinner theater. Be sure to tell her you have something special planned, so she’ll be all yours for the day.
Spring is the perfect time to tour the countryside. Take a ride with your mom, and enjoy the vivid colors of spring, blue skies, beautiful blossoms and other sights.
If your family is like most, you’re well overdue for an updated family portrait. What better time to have it done than on Mother’s Day? Schedule to have your family’s picture taken at a studio or hire a photographer for a photoshoot in the park. Coordinate with family members in advance on the formality and color scheme, so outfits don’t clash. Inform your mother how to dress for her special day but keep the specific reason a surprise.
The Power of Poetry
You don’t need to be a poet to write a special verse for your mother. In your poem, share what it was like growing up with her and how she influenced your life, or tell her just what she means to you. Then print it on stationery, and matte and frame it.
A Little Pampering
Give your mother a special treat, a gift certificate for pampering at her favorite spa.
Put together a weekend package designed especially for your mom. Choose a city that offers excellent shopping, art museums and cultural centers or even a quaint historic town with neat shops, cafés and parks. Leave the dates for the getaway open so the two of you can make plans together.
Keep it Simple
Plan a relaxing day together, enjoying the outdoors. Head to a nearby park where you can meander along nature trails reminiscing or take a scenic bike ride.
Especially for Mothers - Buy a book for and about moms. Consider one of the following:
“Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me” by Maya Angelou
“I Love You Mom” by Amylee Weeks
“Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” by Gregory E. Lang
“Why a Son Needs a Mom” by Gregory E. Lang
“MotherSongs: Poems for, by, and about mothers” by Sandra M. Gilbert, et al.
“Mom, I Wrote a Book About You” by M.H. Clark
“Real Poems for Real Moms: from a Mother in the Trenches to Another” by Rachel S. Donahue
“Mom, Tell Me Your Story: Keepsake Journal” by Susan Branch
“You Are One Amazing Lady: Special thoughts to share with a truly wonderful woman” by Douglas Pagels
“Dear Mother: Poems on the hot mess of motherhood” by Bunmi Laditan
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online bookshop, Sage Rare & Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed, and first editions; fine bindings; ephemera and more at sagerarebooks.com.
Back Them Up!
Priceless photos can be lost in an instant, but there is hope and help
by Kathy Grey
Hurricane Ian bulldozed through much of Southwest Florida in September 2022, and many precious photos were destroyed as a result. Tragically, most of these photos can never be replaced, but there is hope and help in preserving your legacy.
Hurricane season starts June 1, peaks in September and officially ends Nov. 1. That means the month of May is a perfect time to get your photographic memories in order.
Photographs are delicate, and since they’re often irreplaceable, take care to display or store them in ways that keep them looking their best. In other words, your photos should be where you live: in your air-conditioned home.
Next, have a backup plan to digitize your photographic memories.
There are hundreds of ways to digitize photos. Use the key words “digital photos” in an internet search, and you’ll get unimaginable options. Which to choose depends on you. What are your needs? Are you technologically savvy enough to do it yourself? Do you have the time necessary? And, finally, what is your budget?
There are many steps involved in digitizing your photo memories yourself, most importantly, sorting through your memories and organizing them by date or event.
If you choose to scan at home, take an inventory of your tech equipment and decide what extra hardware you’ll need to get the job done.
There are many online guides, but we found this Make Use Of link helpful in understanding what equipment you’ll need and what you can expect in terms of time and expense, as well as these tips:
Be organized. Are you going to scan photos chronologically? In order of importance? Consider coming up with a system for naming and sorting files so that it’s easy to find the photos you’re looking for. You may also want to consider strategies for keeping track of the subject in each shot.
Be selective. You don’t need to save all your old photos. Only scan the ones important to you.
Be meticulous. If you’re going to go through the trouble of scanning photo prints, wipe the dust off them and your scanner, using a non-abrasive cloth, so your picture is as clear as possible. If you’re digitizing photos with a scanner that doesn’t show a preview, check your photo scans every hour or so to ensure they are scanning and saving properly.
For some expert advice, we turned locally to Kristen Goodman, who established Clicking with Kristen, which offers services that include print and photo management with your help, photo scanning, editing, restoration, photo book design, and digitizing VHS tapes, slides and negatives.
Regardless of how you preserve your photos, Goodman insists that digitized memories must be backed up in three places:
• on your computer
• on an external drive
• in the cloud
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. The details matter when it comes to backing up your most precious photographic moments. And Goodman’s decade-long certification with The Photo Managers organization means, as she says, “If I can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can.”
Hurricane season 2023 is less than a month away. If you’re interested in preserving your iconic photos from the effects of time and natural disasters, take time to choose the approach that works best for you, your photos and, ultimately, your legacy.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY
A Mom’s Moment of Gratitude
The simplicity of loving
By Briana Robinson
Parenting and raising a child is such a blessing, providing an indescribable feeling of comfort, no matter the child’s age.
My kids are spread apart in age, so we always have a little bit of everything going on. I struggled to find things that we all could do at home without someone getting bored, but we found activities we love. We play games from hide-and-seek to board games to puzzles. They love to roughhouse with me, and I’ll take it!
I love it when I ask, “Who’s in for a game?” and they come running in a heartbeat.
Becoming a mother has been so meaningful. I love being the person they know they can call on, and there’s nothing I’d rather be.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Briana Robinson and her son, Anthony