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Category: Jenn unplugged

Forgiving me

Forgiving me

I can practically hear the intake of  breath that I may be about to expose some deep dark secret. Forget about it. I’m not that interesting. Really.

What did she do that she needs to forgive herself for?  I hope it’s juicy!

And that is one of the reasons I sat on this one.  I could write an entire blog on forgiving myself if I so choose seeing as I carry a lot on my shoulders whether I need to or not. I could write something regarding my addiction but that is in my book so I am keeping that one back. I could write about letting toxic people into my world when I was warned by so many people not to do so, but I have moved on and realize I have indeed already forgiven myself for that, too.

So what does she have to say? Tell me it isn’t about her bad 80’s perm!

There is something I have been holding on to. Something I have lost sleep over. Something I have shed tears over. Something I have turned to friends about in hopes they have the miracle words that would bring me my own forgiveness. But it still gnaws at me.

I have to forgive myself for stepping out of the blogging ring when I was at the top of my game and the top of the heap.

Seriously?! Lame!

You have to understand, I was blogging long before there was a flood of mommy bloggers. (Hell, I founded the site!) I was blogging before PR and marketing even glanced in the direction of bloggers– especially mom bloggers.  I was in on the ground floor of an amazing organization that has become a huge, worldwide site. I worked for them. I wrote for them. I helped launch an ad network with them.  I was courted by more than one organization to be a founding member of their community and networks.  People came to me and asked me to blog for them professionally for good money when that was really rather rare. I had television news crews come to my house to interview me about blogging and what it meant. I was asked to speak at conferences. I was a mom blogger before Dooce (our  media labeled “queen of the mom bloggers”) was even pregnant. I was at the top of my game and had ideas that had never been done before. Ideas that could have taken off and become huge. (I know this because I’ve seen others do it on a model I helped create.) I was approached to submit essays for anthologies. I was published and republished several times in parenting magazines both nationally and internationally. I had a few columns appear in the paper. I was a top mom blogger. I was good. I had it all in the palm of my hand.

And I stepped away from it.

And my heart shatters a bit every time I think about it.

I’ve tried to jump back in other ways. I worked with amazing women who started a new **community and it was great. I loved working with them. I helped with some amazing projects.  But again, I wasn’t ready to be back in the world of corporate loyalties  that were replacing community co-operation at that time and life hit me like a 2×4. And I stepped back. Again. I didn’t want to dig in and play the cut-throat game of corporation bottom lines. Not when I knew how “it used to be.”

Silently stepping back sounded like a thousand hoof beats in my heart. Felt like hot iron searing my soul.

One of the reasons I stepped back this last time was because I was getting my ass handed to me on a silver platter and I wasn’t able to deal with it. It was the year of being broken. I was ashamed to admit I was dealing with depression of a multitude of things and I couldn’t come online and write the fun, the funny or the every day when I was broken.

So I stepped away.

I have a book to finish. And I am so close. I want to shout, “The blog hasn’t been doing great, but HEY, look at the book I have been working on! Look at the skeleton of the second one I’m writing! I AM doing something! Doesn’t that count?”

It doesn’t. Not in the blogging world.

Twitter can overwhelm me. Goodness, with ADD you’d think I could keep up but the truth is, it makes me feel like I am so far out of the loop or out of the conversation because HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO 1500 PEOPLE AT ONE TIME?! (And that’s just people I follow.)

Facebook can be a good outlet, but even there I have to be “careful” and that is not who I am when it comes to writing.

So I stepped back.

And it broke my heart.

Broke it into a million little pieces.

Because I love to blog.

Because I loved being one of the bloggers on the cutting edge.

Because I loved being asked to go on junkets or work with amazing people.

Because I love to blog for the love of the blog.

And I stepped away.

Now? I don’t know if I can ever get back to close to where I was. I don’t know if I can get another chance with the first blogging company I worked with or if I can ever get a second chance with the amazing women who are really doing amazing things with their community. I don’t know how to go from top to gone to a blogger that can get back in the game.

Because? The game has changed. I have changed.

What do I have to forgive myself for?

I have to find a way to forgive myself for stepping back when I was at the top. I have to forgive myself.

Because it hurts so damn bad to think of the “what if”s…” the “should’ve been’s…” and  the “I could have…”

I have to forgive myself because it tears me up inside when I think about it.

I had legitimate reasons. I had real life that had to have me totally present. I didn’t step back because I was flaky but because I had to for my life.

And I really hope that one day…. some day…. I will forgive myself for stepping back.

Because it hurts too much not to forgive myself.

Through the broken places…

Through the broken places…

So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe… just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe…

2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song post
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to
—Just Breathe lyrics–

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom lately. I wonder what she would say to me if I could lean on her for advice. I’ve been in a broken place. It built up over the past year. It’s a lonely place walking through the broken places. I was hoping I could find solace when I went to the beach. I always find peace there. But it was elusive. There was a lot of crying and some yelling and a few choice words shared. (Sidenote: If you find yourself in a parking lot with someone who has only known you a couple of years and has only been with you 3 or so  times in person and the two of you are yelling at each other so loud and with such profanity that a nearby mom covers her daughter’s ears, something is not right.)  We yelled with passion. We threw a few verbal punches that hurt worse than any physical punch ever could. “YOU are the one who invited yourself along.” We cried an ugly cry. I blurted out something no one should ever know about me and better stay that way. And then we hugged it out.

But something is not right when you are on vacation and that happens. Something is wrong when you feel like a stranger around people who should be your comfort and your extended home. Something is not clicking when you feel like an imposition (and are basically told that) when you go to visit family. And most definitely something is not right when you don’t or can’t stand up to your (*extended) family and tell them what you want and what you need.

In my eyes, I was doing all I could to be accommodating. It came off as not being decisive. In my heart I would try to please everyone and in the process pleased no one, hurt some and ended up being accused of creating drama. And when the one person who has never said a harsh word to me in my adult life looked at me and said I was creating drama, it broke my heart. We don’t speak often and he has never spoken to me that way.

So basically, on a vacation that I prayed would heal me, broke me. I hurt people I love. I fractured or maybe even broke relationships I have always striven  to make stronger my entire life. I lost a lot of confidence and faith in people I looked up to. I lost a lot of confidence and faith in myself. And I ended up realizing that the person they have always known does not exist anymore.  I am not a child anymore. I am no longer someone you can tell what to do and when and I will happily agree because I look up to you. I am an adult with a life so different from most of my (extended) family. And whereas I love my life, I am broken hearted over seeing things in a new way and losing what I have always wanted.  The truth is, I will never have the relationship I have wanted all my life with some people in my family. I will never be “one of them” no matter what I try to do or try to be. I will always be the “one who invited herself along” and not the one who is invited.

And I have to make peace with that. It will take time. But to quote a friend of the family, “Live the life you love and love the life you live.” That is my plan. With or without support.

That is what I want to talk to my Mom about. How would she help me walk through the broken places? What would she tell me to do? Why can’t I just curl up with her and let her tell me that it will all be okay and that I am perfectly me and that is good enough? Oh,what I would give to hear her tell me “This too shall pass” as she always did when things felt horribly wrong in my life. What would Mom tell me to do to pick myself up, dust myself off and move through the broken places? Where would she tell me I fit in? And can I ever?

I’ve been blessed that I can share this with my Dad. He and his wife have been so supportive. For that I am forever grateful. And I know they will always be there for me as I walk through this. As for the rest…

Well, I just don’t know. It’s hard to see clearly through the broken places.

Moving On

I know all the faces
Each one is different but they’re always the same
They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong
I’m movin’ on



*By “extended” family I am just differentiating between those who are not my immediate family like my husband and 3 kids.

After 8 years of blogging, why do I still do it and should I? (Or: Oh my, how things have changed!)

After 8 years of blogging, why do I still do it and should I? (Or: Oh my, how things have changed!)

When I started blogging nearly 8 years ago (next month-ish), it was as if some magical portal was opened into the world of words and stories and the actual people who wrote them. Blogs were places to go to read about others’ lives. To meet them on their turf and get to know them through their words. I understand that a blog is a representation of what people want others’ to see and never the full story. But the stories were there! A post would lead to a comment which would lead to a conversation that later lead to phone calls. Soon, those words on the screen were people in my heart. It made me feel incredible every time I wrote. I began to know the people who commented either through comments that led me to them or even in emails.

One time I posted that I was having some health issues. Who called me? Gloria Steinem. Yes, that one. She was concerned about me and left me her home phone number so I could call her back.  Because I wrote a post on my blog. Because I was myself online. I opened up about who I am and what was going on in my life. (I could use more information on that heart/stress/health connection  again, my friend. I sort of lost the information and, well, when Gloria Steinem calls, one can get forgetful about writing down information to remember 5 years later.)

Then of course there was the most life changing, terrifying yet amazing comment on my blog that changed the way I looked at writing forever. That comment led to emails which led to phone calls which led to me being signed by a literary agent who has had enough faith in me for both of us when I lost my way. Because I wasn’t afraid to put it out there that I was working on writing a book proposal, she found me. When life kicked my ass from here to hell and back, she didn’t give up on me. I pray she never does. (Laurie, I’ve got something you’ve waited a long time for!)

You all know that I have blogged openly about my history of addiction and my kicking its ass on a daily basis for nearly 11 years. Because I was not afraid to blog about being a recovering addict that led to a relationship with Five Moms which led me to a trip to DC (Face it, Dave, there is no real White House!) which led to dinner, a day of lobbying and a face to face talk about my addiction with Dr. Drew Pinsky. A conversation that made me see something in myself and my addiction that not only had I never thought about, it was a complete game changer. I wish I had more time that night to talk about it more in depth but with just a few insights into what I was saying, Dr. Drew changed something broken inside me.

I was able to test drive several different cars for months at a time. I made incredible connections with the gaming community. All because they knew they would get a quality write up from me. Whether I liked the product or not.

I was offered paid writing jobs that I loved so very much! (But as kids tend to do, my babies weren’t so  young and a target market anymore. But, the opportunity was incredible!)

Because I wrote a blog.

Where people comment.

And relationships are formed.

And things changed. Suddenly all of these new catch phrases were vitally important for bloggers. Things You Must Know. Your stats? (You have to know your stats! They measure whether you are worth anything in this world!) Branding. (“You are your brand!” was shouted around the land.) Do you know your page rank? (Everyone should know that! Duh!) What about your Twitter followers? (Do you have enough clout (ahem) to mean something to PR pros?) Facebook fan page? Have you optimized it? Where is your media kit? Don’t run with scissors! (Okay, I threw that in to see if you were paying attention.) Have you set up an LLC? Are you actively seeking sponsors? What ad network is best? Should you use an ad  network? Do you know SEO? How much do you charge for every single thought in your head?

Holy crap on a crispy cracker! ENOUGH!

And that magical portal that was all unicorns and double rainbows slammed shut for me.


Writing online wasn’t fun anymore. Writing online had to be work or you were a crappy blogger. Blogging for fun? That doesn’t pay the bills. The noise in the blogosphere became so loud, I could no longer hear my own voice. I lost my blogging voice. I couldn’t find any passion for writing about anything. Oh, I could kick and scream and be that old blogger yelling for these new-fangled bloggers to “get off my lawn” (and I did to my old school friends in private) but that didn’t change the climate. It just made me feel less significant. Less effective. Just…less.

So I started to write in a real journal. (Like with real paper and a pen!) And I wrote mundane things and memorable things. I vented my frustrations and fears. I wrote funny stories and things that broke my heart. I took 2003 and flipped it around. When I started blogging 8 years ago, I went from a journal to a blog and it brought forth the writer in me. In 2010, I went from a blog to a personal journal. And it brought back the writer in me.

Now? I’ve learned to merge the two with (somewhat) peace of mind.

I may not follow the shouts of what blogging “should be” today and I may not know all of the buzz words of the day but what I do know is that I love to write and make connections. It truly makes me happy and fuels my passion for writing. If that leads to opportunities, that is wonderful. And? If not playing by the “new rules” gets doors slammed in my face, so be it. The bottom line is that I blog for the love of the blog.

Not for love of the game.

Meet Jenn 2.0.11

Meet Jenn 2.0.11

I have never been happier to see a  year leave me as I was to see 2010 go away. It was a bad year. It was my year of being broken. Broken relationships. Broken trusts. Broken hearts. Broken Jenn. I lost friends and gained weight.  I lost trust and gained cynicism. I saw friends hurting and it broke my heart. But that is last year. That calendar is gone. Thrown away. Never to come back.

I am excited about this new year. This new me.  My word for 2011 is achieve. I plan to achieve the goals that eluded me in 2010. I plan to achieve closer relationships with those in my life. I plan to strengthen the faith I did find last year. That is one thing I did manage to pull out of last year. A stronger spirituality. Not one based on someone else’s idea or ideals. But to reach inside to the faith and spirituality I grasped onto last year. If nothing else, I will achieve peace in my life. I will no longer mourn what was lost but will embrace what I have found.


And I am not going to do it with the overwhelming way I have tried to achieve things in the past– with huge to-do lists and enormous goals that seem unattainable if I look at them all stacked together. This year it will be as I know it should be– one day at a time. That I can do. That I am excited about.

Are you with me? Bit by bit I will share the goals I have for the year and ones that I see beginning to happen now. What goals to you have? What do you want to achieve this year? This month? This week? Share them!

Together we can…we will… achieve in 2011.

I Forgave You. (Day 4 of 30 Days of Truth: Something I have to forgive someone for.)

I Forgave You. (Day 4 of 30 Days of Truth: Something I have to forgive someone for.)

So, I am supposed to write about  something I have to forgive someone for.

I did that. Several times. In fact, I have three entire posts sitting in my drafts folder.

This morning I got up and read them only to realize they felt forced. It didn’t feel like it was from my heart.  Then I realized why.  The things I wrote about– the things I “feel I need to forgive someone for” aren’t there anymore. I’ve already forgiven them. I don’t know when it happened, but it did.

Let me explain.  I don’t think it is okay to hurt someone, know you hurt them and gloat about it.  I don’t think it is okay to taunt, gossip or tear down someone and hide behind “she deserves it” or “I am better than she is” because that is not right either. We even teach our children that is wrong.  When I hear about that, it bothers me to the extent that I cannot understand adults who cannot move on. But not forgiving someone who isn’t a part of your life anymore?  Well, that only seems to hurt myself not them.

However,  when it comes to anger and forgiveness, I am not in a place where I can afford to hold onto anger or harbor feelings in situations where I know I need to forgive someone for an act (or acts) that hurt me. If I have something to forgive you for, you can rest assured I already have. It is a way of life I accepted twice in my lifetime. First when I became a Christian and second when I realized that as a recovering addict I had to follow a plan to stay sober and sane. That plan was the 12 steps. Forgiving you (anyone I feel has wronged me) is necessary and vital for me.

Really? She is going all AA on us?

Yes, I am. It saved my life. It saved my marriage. It saved my family.  And it damn sure will save me from bullies or people who have hurt me or want to try to continue to hurt me.

I’ve moved on.

I hope you can, too.

So, to anyone who has wronged me or to those whom I feel have wronged me, I forgive you. I already did a long time ago.  I hope you reach that point someday.

Day 2 of 30- Something I Love About Myself

Day 2 of 30- Something I Love About Myself

When Clint and I first started dating, we didn’t see eye to eye on some of our personality traits that were, shall we say, not in alignment with each other. I used to get so frustrated with him when he kept people at arms length or questioned the motives of people until he really got to know them. It made me crazy! I thought he was missing out on so much by holding back any part of himself. He tried to convince me not to wear my heart on my sleeve. He said I gave my heart out so easily and willingly when I became friends with someone. One thing he worried about was how it would get me hurt. But the thing was, I couldn’t imagine not going all in when it came to relationships.

With me, it’s all or nothing. If I let you in, I let you all the way into my heart. I’d give you the shirt off my back. I’d move heaven and earth to help you. I would drop everything to be with you if you called me & needed me. I don’t know how to do half-ass friendships. For me?  I’m all in. I love that about myself.

There is no shelf life on being a part of my heart, either. If you were ever let in, you still have a portion of it. Oh, you may be way in the back corner in the nosebleed section, but you still have your spot. I don’t kick people out.

But what about when someone breaks your heart, tears you down or shatters your friendship or relationship, Jenn?

I’m glad you asked. You see, if you were ever let in, there was something there. There was something about you that drew me to you and that I honestly and truly cared about and therefore, that part lives on in my heart. Here are two examples:

Scenario One: A year or so ago I reconnected with an old friend of mine. We were best friends in elementary school and most of junior high and then it it was all shot to hell (as many junior high friendships can go.) At  first we shared animosity, then dislike, then we just didn’t simply register on each other’s radar. It was a shock when we ran into each other our freshman year of college. We had no idea we were attending the same university. We didn’t run in the same circles but when we saw each other we would smile and say hi. When we found each other after our 20 year reunion, we shared those first “this is what has been going on in my life” emails. As I sat and read hers and read of a tragedy she lived through, I sat there and cried for my old friend. It wasn’t that “enemy” in junior high or that girl I’d share a casual wave as we passed. This was that young girl that was my best friend who had an earth shattering event change her life. And I cried for her and her family. She never left my heart.

Even today, if she emailed me and needed something, I wouldn’t have to consult a calendar to see how long it’s been as to whether or not I would be there for her. There is no question. I’d be there. I was all in when we were friends. Her spot in my heart was behind a wall, in the dark with dust on it since it had been so long, but it was there, dusted off and it was there for her if she needed it.

Scenario Two:  As an adult I had a circle of friends who got together and did casual things with when we could schedule them. At first I was a bit wary and kept them at arms length but I just am not really great at that. So, of course, I let them in and my heart was all in. I would give my shirt off my back for them. I knew it was a risk to jump into an established circle of friends but they seemed open and I let my heart go.  And it did get hurt. Shattered. It’s not a decades old pain like with my other friend. It is much fresher. I went all in and my heart was broken. In fact, I am willing to bet that if I was standing beside a couple of them and was on fire, they probably wouldn’t even spit on me to put the fire out. So that must mean that they are out of my heart. Shut down. Never allowed in again. I wish. Like I said, once you have a spot in my heart, I don’t shove you out. Granted, it may be a corner in my heart that I have well guarded with pit bulls and armed guards, but that corner is there. And even if they needed something tomorrow, even the one who openly and vocally hates me, I would be there. It just is what it is.

I guess my heart is a bit like Hotel California. “You can check out anytime you like, but you can  never leave.” But not in that scary stalker way. Really. You actually can leave but I will never personally kick you out. It’s now how I’m made. It’s who I am.

That is something that, though it gets me hurt, I do love about myself.

It’s my ability to love people with all of my heart and keep a part of them with me long after they have left my life. And be able to open it again if they come back into my life.  And that? That is the greatest gift I could give myself because with the Interwebs like they are these days, you never know when someone from your past might show up. I’m blessed that when I reconnect with old friends, there is nothing ugly or negative to hold me back in getting to know them as they are now. It’s just a part of my heart I get to dust off and revisit. To me? That is a blessing and something I truly do love about myself.