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Another year older. It’s time to be wiser.

Another year older. It’s time to be wiser.

This year’s birthday hit differently. So much has happened in the last year and a half and I am flat out tired. I finally came to that breaking point where, to paraphrase a quote by Maya Angelo, I belong everywhere and no where. I’m not looking for belonging in everyone else anymore. Even though I so often feel like I’m standing alone, I know it’s something I have to do. Someone, somewhere will say something to remind me that I’m strong and loving and I’m not alone but I no longer need them to confirm that. I can be surrounded by people I love who love me and yet I’m learning I don’t feel the need to seek validation from them to know that I’m worthy.

This next year I have goals for myself. Things I need to do to live life with a wild open heart.

I’m going to love with no expectations.

I’m going to be fierce but I’ll be kind.

I’m going to be tougher yet I’ll still be tender with everyone I come across.

I’m going to be open to people who come into my life. I will soften my heart and be better to those who choose to stay in my life. I will throw my arms open wide and love wholeheartedly those who return to my life. And I shall guard my heart with cautious optimism but never shutting it off to the love and possibilities of good friends, new experiences, and the hope of second chances.

This is the year I’m going to live as I should’ve been living for a long time now. I’ve lost so much in the past few years. Friends. Opportunities. My sister was obviously the worst to knock me off my feet. I’ve faced loss before. The “they’ve left your life by choice but are still around” loss but I’ve had forever loses too. I know the loss of losing a baby. I know the loss of losing my Mom. And now I know the loss of losing my sister. I’ve always leaned on friends for each of those.

I think the loss of my sister is what opened my eyes to how truly alone I am and threw me into the deepest of depressions. I wasn’t surrounded by friends when she died. I’ve lost most of them. Some because my depression kept me from being better at keeping in touch. Some chose to move on. Some I guess just “weren’t that into me” as they say. I’ve never needed a tight-knit group of friends like I did then. And I didn’t have it anymore. And I broke. I shut down. A year and a half later and my therapist and I are just now beginning to deal with the loss of my sister. I am just that good at shoving trauma down deep enough to not consciously feel it. I’ve never known how to do it alone. I still don’t know how to do it alone but I’m learning how when I have to and also (and this is the hardest) trying to learn how to ask for help. That last one is a bitch when you don’t know who to ask. But it’s time. Picking myself up sucks. It hurts. I will learn how to do this while I keep an open heart. But, damn, pulling yourself out of quicksand without a rope isn’t easy.

But this is my birthday gift to myself. I’m taking this year by the [fill in your word of choice] and remembering not only who I am but what I can and should do to make myself happy. This year I will do what I can to be a better me. Part of that has to do with you.

If I ever told you you’re my friend, you still have a place in my heart. Say hi. Kick me and remind me not to disappear.

If I’ve ever told you I love you, I still love you. I may be afraid that too much time and life has passed to reconnect but know you’re still in my heart and I’d be overjoyed if we did reconnect.

If I’ve ever sat with you and laughed or cried or both, I miss that. Can we do it again?

I suppose in this new year of being older and becoming wiser what I’m trying to say is… I need you. I really do.

And that’s not as scary to say as it used to be but it’s also terrifying.

Here’s what I am going to do. It’s my new project for myself for the year. I’m going to snail mail everyone I hear from at the very least a letter. If you want to reconnect, connect, or just see if I’ll follow through, drop me a comment. Either here or on Instagram. Who knows what else. If only a few reply, I might learn to crochet and make you a whole blanket. (But I really hope more than a few of you do! I am not very good at crocheting.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to do this damn thing.

I hope you’ll join me!

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of the Internet and how creates strong communities. Well, at least that has been the word that has been used so much lately. I suppose now the word community is more appropriate it. But there was a time when that seemed too formal. Too “organized” for what organically came to be back then. I started officially writing online in 1995 with an online journal on Live Journal. That was pretty much just throwing words out there. But in 2003 I started this blog. (Happy belated birthday, blog. You look good for 14 years old!) That is what in the blogging community considers an OG blogger. When we blogged, it was just blogging.

We weren’t Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming, etc. To see what was happening with one another, we’d hop online and read each other’s blog. We’d leave a comment and move on to our next friend’s blog. To me, it was more like a neighborhood. We would visit one another’s home, catch up,  and then we’d go catch up with another neighbor. It was close-knit. If someone was going through a rough time, we rallied around them. If someone wasn’t going to be “home” for an extended period, we would house-sit for each other. ( Also known as handing the keys to your blog over to another blogger so they can guest blog for you so you never had an empty day on your blog.) On weekends, we would have a neighborhood block party where we would gather and drink *kook-aid (*not a typo) and chat with each other in our version of real-time. If you put out the call for help, it was there. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through my Mom’s long, horrible hospital stay and her death without my “neighbors” and their support. They lifted me up and reminded me I wasn’t alone.

In 2005 I was introduced to a tiny little grassroots company and new community named BlogHer. I almost didn’t go to their first conference until a long conversation with one of their founders, Lisa Stone, who not only talked me into going but into speaking on a panel. It was the best decision I could have made. From the conference, I began to work for BlogHer as a writer, helped kick-off their ad network and did whatever they needed behind the scenes for their ’06 conference. (Not to mention speaking at three of the conferences and being a part of a morning keynote.) I wouldn’t trade those early days working for BlogHer for anything. It was amazing watching many of my neighbors become part of that community of BlogHers.

I met many friends through my neighborhood and the many communities I have belonged to over the years. In 2007, BlogHer exploded into a conference that had huge numbers of attendees and vendors and parties etc. It was exciting to see the growth, especially when I was there watching from the grassroots level. (I am so thankful to have beenworking there at the very beginning and grateful I wasn’t there at the end.) I  got to know so many new bloggers through BlogHer. It was in 2007 that I met a handful of bloggers I’m still friends with today. Real friends. Not just computer friends. Heart friends.

Almost two weeks ago, Anissa, an OG blogger died. Anissa was hilarious, kind and my kind of crazy. I first met her on a BlogHer trip to the Ford plant in Chicago. You see, there were six of us who had “alternative departure times” and therefore we were late getting to the bus. So, the big fancy charter bus was full, so the six of us rode in a small charter-ish bus. Best outcome ever! We all laughed until our abs hurt. Anissa and I had a similar sense of humor and riffed off of each other perfectly. It was a blast. (I made some awesome friends on that bus that day that are still real, close friends today.)   Every time Anissa and I saw each other after that at BlogHer, we always shared at least one or two smart-ass remarks. We weren’t close but we had moments that made me laugh. So, when I heard that she died, I literally began sobbing. Right there is the waiting room of the eye doctor with the girls. Someone who has survived so much and who has a personality that is larger than life and is so young isn’t supposed to just suddenly die. Not someone so loved, so needed by her family, so adored by her friends. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around it. It just hit hard. It hurt hard. My heart has so many things I want to say but I honestly don’t know how to say it. The quote on Anissa’s about section by Erma Bombeck is one she lived by and I hope I live up to as well.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and I could say, “I used everything you gave me.”

That week wasn’t over with me yet. There are so many things going on, rushing to force  themselves out of my brain through my fingers, and I am having one hell of a hard time trying to sort through them. Trying to figure out what to share and what not to. I found a friend from school died. I’m not ready to talk about that yet. But that was within a couple of days of Anissa’s passing. I also struggle with what is medical to help you understand me a bit better and what is boring medical and what is scary medical. (Most recently, I had a bad reaction to medications I was taking. Not only was it making things worse, it made me insanely angry, irrational, and suicidal. Not a good combo with the things in my Universe at the time.) Also?  You know how when you look really sad and kind of lost people will tell you look like you lost your best friend? So, that  actually did happen. I’d tell you it’s a long story and share it but in all honesty I don’t know the story so I can’t share it. My take away is that I won’t let anyone use a certain word as a term of endearment for me again when it is used one week before walking away with ease … hell, I have no idea. However, one of the best gifts Anissa could have given me was helping me work through serious issues & things happening on my own. That was a blessing in disguise.

Anyhoo, while looking for the picture of the six charter-ish bus gang, I went back and looked at pictures from BlogHers from years past. From ’05 when I walked into a conference where I only knew people I  had read online. And seeing how I found a tribe that got me. I still love those ladies I made friends with that year. It was a new and wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And then came ’06. Oh, BlogHer ’06! I laughed my ass off all weekend. I danced even without music. I “hugged” statues. I took a nose-dive into a hot tub. All of which was caught on camera. I laughed so hard looking at those pictures and remembering how it all came with such ease even though it was such a hard time for me. Then ’07 where I finally met THE Busy Mom. We can sum  up ’07 with one word: CHEESE. Enough said. I could go on and on. For years this was BlogHer for me. I am so grateful for the many friends It brought into my life. The community that brought me neighbors, so to speak.

There is so much going on  in my life right now. Some good and some that is too hard to really talk about here or now. But I am glad to be back. I’m just going to go about dusting things off around here. Rearranging the furniture. Take down some old pictures that don’t belong on the walls anymore. Put up some new ones without 80’s hair. It’s time to clear out the cobwebs, shake out the rugs, and get back to me & writing.




And kids, that’s why you shouldn’t be an asshole like I was

And kids, that’s why you shouldn’t be an asshole like I was

In case this isn’t permanently written on all of your calendars, this is my birthday  month. More specifically, on Saturday, the 7th. You still have time to shop. But it’s okay to be late because you have all month.

Actually, this birthday is kind of  a big deal to me. No, it isn’t a big number birthday or one that anyone else would evenn give a second thought. In truth, I’ve only told one person about why this birthday not only has me on edge but why I want to make it special. Because of all of that, she and I made plans to celebrate it together. We started these plans many months ago.

I can’t tell you how excited I was. Not just because I was going to spend my birthday with one of my closest friends but because she understood me and didn’t laugh when I told her why this birthday meant something to me. Just a couple of weeks out, I was finalizing flight plans etc. and texting back and forth to make sure it would all work out. (We were waiting on word from work.) Well, you know how they say “Make plans and God laughs”? Well, he was down right rolling in tears with this one. (I mean, hell, we’ve been trying this for  years.)  While I was about to book my ticket,  she texted me and said it would just be better for me to not come at all.

My heart shattered right there on the spot. I spent two days crying. I felt at the moment like I became the expendible friend.  So easily tossed aside rather than one you want around when you need someone.  It just hurt on many levels. I felt like I lost my best friend. (Other factors contributed, too. But, this felt like the final demotion.) And  you know what it actually made me? A totally and complete asshole.

Yes, I was the absolute and total asshole here. You see, she has been living in crisis mode for…well… months. Trying to take care of everyone. Pulled in so many directions, I don’t even know how she is still standing.  I’ve never met someone stonger with so much compassion in my life. She’s the friend every one wishes they had. And what did I do? I spent two days crying thinking of only myself and how I might be effected. See? Total asshole.  That’s not what  you do to the people  you love. You just don’t treat  your people that way. I am sorry. So sorry. There are times I can hardly breathe it hurts so much that I  hurt a relationship so  much. But you just can’t take some things back. We have barely spoken since then. Life is busy. Plans change. Health and work and family and life take over and before you know it, it has been weeks since you’ve talked.


So, in short (Ha! Nothing is short with my writing.) I let down a friend by being an asshole when she needed me because I was thinking of myself. And now? Now I have to pick up the pieces and hope we’ll be okay. It’s going to take time.  And that sucks.

The moral of the story, take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at both sides of what is going on before you act like an asshole or you may hurt one of the most precious relationships you have. Don’t be me, kiddos!

9-11 and my visit to NYC

9-11 and my visit to NYC

When I knew that I was going to be in New York City for a conference in August, the first thing on my mind was to go to the 9/11 memorial. One of my dear friends invited me because she was planning to go with a group the first day there. It was the perfect plan. Except that it wasn’t. First, the group was filled and didn’t have enough room for one more. (I was heartbroken but realized it was what it was and there is nothing I could do about it.) Second, you know what they say about the best laid plans. First, I missed my flight so that delayed me. When I finally reached the city it took me nearly 3 hours to reach the hotel from the airport. So, even if I had been included in the group, I’d have missed it traveling anyway. Things happen for a reason. I knew it would weigh heavy on my heart to be there but I thought it was exactly what I wanted to do.

Now, if you were with me during most of my trip to NYC, you know it was super emotional. You see, I’ve had a mini-crush on the city from afar. I have never been there but my heart was all “NYC ERMAHGERD!” But when I was actually there? It took mere seconds for me to fall in love with the city. Things that people who live there probably don’t even give a second thought had me so smitten and emotional. It became so commonplace, my friends didn’t even give it a second thought to look over and see tears in my eyes or rolling down my cheek over something that moved me about the city. Something I dreamed of seeing or doing and was actually seeing and doing!

All of that to say, with my emotions so up front and center, maybe the 9/11 Memorial wasn’t the place for me. This year. But there was something that I was supposed to see and experience in relation.

I went to an event with one of my closest friends, Liz, one evening in SoHo. And of course, I was enamored with just about everything in the area. (Shout out, City Winery!)  As she and I were walking around the area, I noticed a firefighter standing outside a firehouse. I peeked in and noticed a memorial wall. (cue tears) I asked if I could take a picture if it wouldn’t be too disrespectful. He smiled and told me it would be fine and not at all disrespectful. As soon as I set up the shot I started to cry. No, cry doesn’t really cover it. I began to sob. I took in every face. I looked at every name. It was a “small scale” vision of such a massively huge tragedy. And maybe that was what I needed to see more than the huge memorial. I needed to see one company. To see the impact that day had on them. To see their friends and brothers they lost.  Their names. Their faces. Eleven men. My heart broke. I did my best to capture the shot, but my hands were shaking. As we were leaving I tried to thank the firefighter but I could barely whisper “Thank you” through my sobs. With a teary look at me, he just nodded. Liz hugged me, took my hand, and we walked away.

I have always felt the weight of 9/11 each year in my own way. I couldn’t truly imagine it. I still can’t. Unless you were there and felt it, heard it, smelled it, survived it or lost someone that day, I don’t think you can really grasp the enormity of the day. But walking the streets and falling in love with NYC and the people there, brought it a little bit closer to my heart. Standing in a firehouse that lost 11 of their finest brought it closer to my heart.

Though I truly thought I wanted and needed to see the 9/11 memorial, I realized my heart–my very soul– needed to see what that day meant in a more intimate way. One day I hope to go see the site where the twin towers stood and hope I can do it with someone who will understand my flow of tears. But this year, I am so very thankful I was with Liz who held my hand and never once questioned my emotional reaction or tried to stop it. She just knows my heart and always has.

I’ll never forget the day that beautiful and completely amazing city came under attack. And now I will never forget that one time I stopped by a firehouse with someone I love to take a picture, thank a fireman, and sob over the loss of lives that horrible day brought.



These are the heroes pictured who were lost on that horrific day.


Lt. Mike Warchola
Lt. Vincent Giamonna
Lou Arena
Andy Brunn
Greg Saucedo
Paul Keating
Tommy Hannafin
John Santore


BC. William McGovern 
BC. Richard Prunty 
FF. Fautino Apostol, JR 

Engine 24/ Ladder 5/ Battalion 2
227 Ave of Americas (6th Ave)

BlogHer’11 The Photo Edition

BlogHer’11 The Photo Edition

I used a lot of words summing up BlogHer’11 in my last post. It’s okay. This one is all about the pictures. They tell the story. (I’ll tell you a bit about the picture then post it. You can come up with your own captions if you want to. You people are way funnier than I am!)

I’ve heard it said as an adult we can be blessed with two families: The family you were born into and the family you choose. These are just a few pictures of the family I have chosen. And I am blessed.

These are the women I look to to help keep me sane. (That should answer a lot of questions, people.) :

These women keep me sane.

These two women are my sister friends. (Because sister wives are so 2009.) Liz and Elizabeth and I have been friends since way back when we had to write our blog posts with a quill and scroll. We laugh together. We cry together. We snort (laugh) together.

Me, Liz and Elizabeth

Here are two more women who keep me on my toes. Melisa (with one S) has been so encouraging and makes me laugh. (Even if she calls me Gidget.) Kendra and I met at BlogHer in San Francisco and have been good friends ever since. These are amazing women who always have my back!

They've got my back!

You’d never know that Canada and Texas are geographically so far away. Kim and I totally got each other. And? She will always hold my earrings. Oh, and we laugh. A lot

Canada and Texas: perfect match!

Sometimes I hang out online with a group of Regular Folks who laugh, share their lives and keep each other close. These are just a few of the women who are a part of that group. (To round up that many was an accomplishment!) They are:  Liz, Michelle, Headless Mom, Busy Mom, Melisa (with one S), Carmen, me and Christina.

We're just regular folks.

But it wasn’t all play.  For example, here we are as old school bloggers trying to figure out modern technology.

Can you hear me now?

But for real, when we are together we have some serious and in depth conversations.  Exhibit A:

I'm totally serious here! *snort*

We did some serious networking with Very Important and Famous Figures.

Oh, yes, that is a costumed character I am with!

I was able to meet up with  Donna and Julie talk some serious politics. (Or not. Can you say photobombers? I knew you could!)

I talked serious politics with MOMocrats

We danced…

Dancing queens

We ate…

Your friends are not lunch!

We shrieked in horror…

No way!

And we hugged. We hugged a lot!! (Which sometimes led to tears with Momo.)

Me not making Momo cry...this time.

But mainly, we laughed and enjoyed being together…

There's no laughing in going ganstah, y'all!

Because some of my favorite moments in life are laughing with friends…

Laughing with friends is a special occasion

I took the pictures from ones I was tagged in. Leave me a comment or message me if you were the photographer. Thinking and tagging is hard, y’all!


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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