E226 Dumpster Fire Wisdom with Mimi Feldman – Virtual Book Club Author

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Schizophrenia with side orders of a heart attack, a brain tumor, a runaway teenager…

How’s your family doing? Seriously.

Our featured author for the Experience 50 Fall Virtual Book Club, Mimi Feldman has been through it all. Her son’s schizophrenia takes center stage in her memoir, but there is soooo much more.

EXP 50 E226 imageThe story of Nick and the rest of Mimi’s family is almost difficult to believe. While reading this treasure of a book, I found myself laughing out loud at the absurdity of the growing pile of disasters that landed in Mimi’s lap during “her ten bad years”.

You will hear buckets and buckets of wisdom in this podcast episode from the amazing Miriam “Mimi” Feldman, author of He Came In With It, A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness. I love this woman, her story, her book, and the conversation she had with our book club.

I have named this episode is Dumpster Fire Wisdom. Because, in my own experience and as so many of Experience 50 listeners share with me, that is where we learn our lessons, we come into our wisdom out of surviving unthinkable challenges. 

Hell and Back

If you want to learn how to live your life, spend time with somebody who has been to hell and back. Mimi has.

It’s in the dumpster fires, in the chaos, those periods of months or years when you have not one, not two, but a veritable shitshow of events and circumstances that you are quite sure will crush you, that you learn the life lessons Mimi shares:

  • asking for help
  • fighting the stigma of mental illness and feelings of shame
  • not being defined by your circumstances
  • acceptance and surrender
  • lead with love
  • self-care beyond manicures
  • being honest with your children

It is in those moments of time that you grow up. You either laugh or you cry at the unfairness of it all. If you believe in God or not, you find yourself looking to the heavens and asking “Are you f*&%ing kidding me?” 

This episode is precious to me. Absolutely precious. Today I am sharing the recording of last week’s Experience 50 Virtual Book Club Zoom meeting with Miriam Mimi Feldman, author of the memoir, He Came in With It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness.

In Episode 219 I shared a brief conversation with you that I had with Mimi, introducing my selection of her memoir for book club. Since then, I’ve spent a great deal of time with Mimi, her story, her book, and Experience 50 Patrons have delved into the book, preparing for their meeting with the author to ask incredibly smart and insightful questions that lingered with them after reading and discussing it as a group.

Of course, I hope that you will read He Came In With It, but I can promise that you are going to learn a lot about managing midlife experiences this episode. You may want to listen to Episode 219 first and then come back to this.

But, all you really need to know is that Mimi’s memoir covers her ten bad years, from 48 to 58. The central story is her teenage son Nick being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her dumpster fire also includes her mother dying, a brain tumor, an out of control teenage daughter, running a business as the breadwinner for her family, an unconventional marriage, a heart attack, and a lot of cockroaches. Cockroaches? Yes, lots of them. 

You’ll sit in on E50’s Fall 2020 Virtual Book Club when Patrons of the podcast met with the author to discuss schizophrenia, family chaos, mental illness, difficult teenagers, health scares, parents dying, acceptance and surrender, female friendships, unconventional marriage, and more.

More about Miriam “Mimi” Feldman:

Miriam Feldman is an artist, writer, and mental health activist who splits her time between her Los Angeles studio and her farm in rural Washington state. She has been married to her husband Craig O’Rourke, also an artist, for 34 years and they have four adult children. Their 33-year-old son, Nick, has schizophrenia.

With an MFA in painting from Otis Art Institute, Miriam founded Demar Feldman Studios, Inc., a distinguished mural and decorative art company, in 1988. At the same time, she built a strong career as a fine artist, represented by Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica, CA.

When Nick was diagnosed in 2004, Miriam became an activist and a writer. With first-hand knowledge of our mental health system, she decided to be an advocate for those who have no voice. She serves on the advisory board of Bring Change 2 Mind, the non-profit founded by Glenn Close, and writes a monthly blog for their website. Miriam is active in leadership at NAMI Washington and writes for their newsletters. She is a frequent guest on mental health podcasts and is active on Instagram, where she has created a community of family and loved ones dealing with mental illness.

Be sure to check out Mimi’s Blog, The Asylum of the Universe which includes not only her artwork but Nick’s. Her blog posts offer updates and insights on being the parent of an adult child with schizophrenia.

Thank you, Sponsors:

Special thanks to a few of my amazing Patrons: Jane Townsend, Kendra Holliday, Jeanne Gumbleton, Susie Miles, and Kristi Necochea who each helped me to create this very special podcast episode.

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