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Month: March 2011

Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from 8 years of blogging. (No, not really but kind of a catchy title, no?)

Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from 8 years of blogging. (No, not really but kind of a catchy title, no?)

In the eight years I have been saving the world through my blog Oh, wait, that is a totally different speech entirely.

In the eight years I have been posting random thoughts and the occasional insight that actually makes people go hmmmmm (or more likely say, “Girlfriend is tripping.”) I have learned the rules of blogging are not that different from the rules of life. Let us take a look shall we? And as any good blogger knows, I should (and shall) do it in list form.

<Cue old Wayne & Garth flashback music and squiggles>

10. Blogging: If you won’t say it to someone’s face, don’t put it on your blog (Facebook, Twitter etc).  Life: Similar to your real life, if you won’t say it to their face, don’t say it behind their back. It will come back to bite you in the butt.

9. Blogging: Once it’s out there, it is out there forEVER. Seriously. I can find deleted posts and blogs that people assumed would never see the light of day once they deleted them. Trust me. I have a screen shot of both a blog entry and a Facebook conversation that I am sure someone in my real life wishes she could have disappear. Nope.  Life: In the same way once you say or do something in your life, it is out there. Words cannot be unsaid. Moments cannot be edited and redone.  You can’t delete an ugly incident just because you had time to think about it.

8. Blogging: Only reveal on your blog what you are comfortable with your worst enemy knowing. (They will totally find your blog. Pinky promise.) Life: It goes hand in hand with only say to someone what you want your worst enemy hear (or the one person you would never want to hear). No matter how much you trust someone, remember that things happen and your words and actions can (and probably will) reach ears you may not want them to reach.

7. Blogging: Don’t hit publish in the heat of the moment when you are mad about some injustice you feel has been done to you by another blogger, PR rep, friend, dog next door, etc. You may wake up the next morning to regret it and as I said in #9, it’s already out there. ForEVER. Rule of thumb: Think before you hit publish.  Life: Don’t make decisions in the heat of the moment or say things to someone because they really made you mad. You may end up regretting it but by then there is a very good chance you’ve already set into motion events you cannot stop. Rule of thumb: Think before you speak.

6. Blogging: Just be who you are. Don’t try to imitate someone you think is a better blogger, or funnier or gets more comments. It is transparent. And? If you’re going to take the time to blog, your readers want to know who you are not who you want them to think you are.  Just be yourself. For better or worse. (And trying to be anonymous rarely lasts very long. Just a heads up.)  Life: Don’t try to be someone you are not simply because you think you may not be “good enough” or “worthy” or whatever word you want to use so that you can fit in with a particular group of people. If you- as yourself- don’t fit it, you need to find the people you will click with who will appreciate you. Life’s hard enough when you are authentic. Don’t try to add on the pressure of being someone you aren’t.

5. Blogging: Write what you want to write about. Don’t try to fit into a niche if it just isn’t you. If the latest and greatest fad is being a mom blogger and that is not what you feel you are, don’t jump on it to be with the flavor of the month. If you like writing about everything under the sun, do it. If you enjoy writing about your kids, do it. If you want to write about every failed recipe you’ve ever tried, do it. Write what you feel strongly about. Life: Do what your heart and passion tell you to do. If you love to write, write. If you have a talent in the corporate world, follow that. Follow your passions. Don’t do something simply because you feel you have to or it is expected of you because someone else said it was. I am all for stepping out of your comfort zone but don’t go so far out that you are miserable or that would deny someone who does have a passion for it the chance to do it. Stay true to yourself.

4. Blogging: Don’t jump on the latest bandwagon just because you see other bloggers getting links and hits from it. Think. Is this really something you feel passionate about? Is this a drama you believe in or something you want to write about because that is what “they” are doing. The hits go away but your part in it remains. Life: Avoid the mob mentality of those around you. Have your own brain and thoughts. Sometimes that “mob” may not be a good fit and the consequences last far longer than the heat of the moment.

3. Blogging: Find your “tribe” and hold on tight. Most of my blogging friends have been friends for years. Of course, that circle has widened tremendously over the years but the one thing that remains true is I know who I can count on for the truth and support. I know those people who will be there for me even if I stopped blogging. I found friends who will be there for me whether my computer is humming all day while we chat or if I go away for a while. Those friends? They are your “tribe” and will stay true. Life: Find your “tribe” and hold on tight. When you feel like you are alone, look around and see who is there for the good times and the bad. Life is too short to stick with drama or the “wrong” people in order to be with the “in crowd” or with friends you kind-of sort-of trust. Cherish the people who treat you well and cherish you back. They are for life.

2.  Blogging: Don’t blog for validation. Don’t post things simply to have random people you may or may not know come forward to tell you how great you are. Are they sincere? Is it a fly by night commenter who really doesn’t care if you’re having a rough time, feel fat or feel inadequate? If you need to blog because you are feeling those things, by all means do it. But do it because you need to talk about it. Don’t do it for validation. It’s not real. Life: Don’t look to other people to find validation in your life. Look within yourself. Your faith. Your family. The things you do that you know you are good at and enjoy. Follow your heart and know that the person you see looking back at you in the mirror is the one person in this life whose opinion of you matters the most. Love yourself. The rest will follow.

1.. Blogging: Make lists. Lists are good. Life: Make lists. Lists are good.


How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

“Sometimes there are a thousand things to say, no words to say them and a heart too broken to try.”

That was my latest update on Facebook. It sat there on my profile for well over a week. Most of the time when something happens that breaks my heart or I have trouble processing the horror of it, I write. But sometimes it can be so tragic, all words are lost to me. I become a virtual mute when it comes to writing. What happened to throw me into such a stage of sadness and heartbreak?

Two weeks ago I was with a friend and neighbor when her world shattered around her. This was how the extended family shared the news with their Facebook friends.

We need your help facebook friends. Last night  The Hendricks Family suffered a tragic loss. Rusty was fixing their one and only car when the jack broke in half and crushed him. He lost his life. (He was 36) The Hendricks family needs your help. Teresa is a stay at home mom with 3 children Samuel 11, Sara 9, Matthew 7. There is no life insurance and Teresa is left to raise her beautiful family alone.

*(I am not divulging anything private or breaking a trust by sharing those details. This is the information the family wrote for the fundraiser they are holding to try to help this wonderful family. Please if there is ANY way you can help…even just a little bit, this lovely woman truly needs it.)

I’ve never felt more helpless and heartbroken for a friend.  As I said, there were a thousand things to say, no words to say them and a heart too broken to try. Not a day went by that I did not cry for this family. Not a night went by when I didn’t crumble to the floor of my bathroom wracked with gut wrenching  tears of desperate sadness. It was how I dealt with it at night. Alone. So I could try to refuel and be strong for the whole family when or if they needed anything. I wanted to be there to help.

What you have to know about this family is how amazing they are. They touched the lives of everyone they met.  I loved watching Rusty play ball with his oldest son in their front yard. When it snowed, he would be outside with the kids laughing and playing just like one of them. I always laughed when he would give Clint a hard time about not putting up Christmas lights. (He even taught my next door neighbor how to hang them “correctly” so that she could have them up for her kids.) He was one of the most joyful men I have ever met. Teresa is one of the kindest women I know. She is soft spoken, sweet and so very giving. She has a heart of gold and a tenderness about her that makes you smile and gives you peace. And those kids? Wonderful kids. Gabby plays outside with them and the sound of their laughter is beautiful music to my ears. Honestly, laughter is the first thing I think of when I think of those kids. Rusty and Teresa are very strong in their faith and they’ve been raising their kids in a faith filled home.

And so the first question is why. Why Rusty? Why this way? Why now? I don’t know the answers. I still can’t even wrap my mind around it all but I do know that this is a family of faith and I know that faith will help them through this. They and their extended families have actually blessed and comforted people who came by to comfort them. They are that special.

One thing Rusty’s sister shared with me (and I don’t think she would mind me sharing) is that he would want people to find something in this tragedy to help them grow- in their faith and their relationships with others. To never let a moment pass without sharing your love.

Photo by Brandon Satterwhite
I lift my eyes...

Through this tragedy I have seen some very beautiful things occur. I have seen friends and strangers pull together to help this family. I have seen relationships heal. I have seen new friendships form. For myself I have solidified friendships that I knew were there but didn’t know how very strong they could be. I was pulled from the dark place I was hurled into last year to see people in my life that truly will always be there for me when I need them.

 

I suppose you could say pretenses were stripped and people were seen for who they really are. It blessed me to see a community pull together as it has. It blessed me to see people I respect pull together not only for my friend and her family but for each other. To feel their love and have them extend their “family” to encompass me as “one of them”  not only healed so much in me, it made me see how jaded I had become by a completely irrelevant event in my past.

Why did it take a tragedy for that to happen? For me to really see things as they are? For me to realize who truly cares and who I can depend on for the good times and the bad? For me to tell my friends that I love them and that I appreciate them? To take those negative voices in my mind and silence them?  To reach out to others- not just those involved in this but people in my life who may just need to know someone is there and cares? Why did it take something so unthinkingly horrible for me to take stock of my life and realize the wonderful, beautiful people that I am blessed to have in my life?

I don’t know. I hate that this happened. I am heartbroken that this happen. Yet, even now Rusty blesses me with his joy and love because to not honor his memory in that way just wouldn’t feel right.  He touched so many people. And his memory will continue to bless others. Now that? That takes one amazing man. And that was Rusty.

May he sing with the angels.

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