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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.

 

 

 

When your passion clashes with your prison

When your passion clashes with your prison

Writing is my passion. It always has been.  It doesn’t matter what you ask me to write about, I’ll love it. College was an oasis of wonder for me. I loved writing essays. I loved to challenge the status quo or argue a point or share what I thought on a topic. And when they dropped creative writing in my lap, I practically melted on my keyboard. But wait. Then later on people started paying me *in real cash money to write. I was published in several publications and  even in a couple of books. When an agent came to me (yes-she came to me) asking for a query and signed me with her agency? I died, went to heaven, made St. Peter slap me upside the head and came back to do more writing. I love it that much.

And then came the chronic daily headaches. And the migraines. And the bone crushing fatigue. Those are not good conditions for writing. In fact, it’s like I’m in prison with these health issues when it comes to my beloved passion and that isn’t fair. In fact it sucks. Someone recommended I try Dragon or another voice to text app but that isn’t the same. It’s not the fingers flying over the keyboard. Or the rush you get when you almost feel like you are no longer in the driver’s seat because the words are flowing so fast the story has taken over and your hands are merely the method to bring the story to life. Now, when I write for a long time, I pay the price in pain. My head. My eyes. My joints. I’m being literal here. I literally pay a physical price to write every word on this blog.

Oh, but what a beautiful price it is. I love writing so much. I love every thing about it. It is truly my passion. So when you see a blog post from me, know that is truly a labor of love. I wrote it from the prison my body locked me in and I refuse to let it hold me back. Words. My words. My stories. I won’t stop. This is my passion. My love. The one thing I know will always be soothe me even when it hurts me.

Find your happy place

Find your happy place

When you have so much going on or you are pulled in so many directions or (like me) you are knocked on your ass by health issues, if nothing else I have learned you must find your happy place and find some peace. Now, I know that most people have a physical happy place they want to go to find peace but that isn’t always possible. So, figure out where your mental happy place is. I’ve found peace in music. Sometimes it’s lyrics that speak to me. Sometimes it’s the rhythm. Sometimes I just get lost in the past with those golden oldies from the 80’s. But, ohhhh, when I need to work out angst or I am up and around and having a “hell yeah I’m doing things today” kind of day, I get my groove on. And at my age and with all the other crap I deal with on a daily basis, I truly don’t care what anyone else thinks.

One of my favorite things is car dancing. My daughter and I are huge car dancers. Don’t worry, I’m safe about it. The thing about not giving a damn about what anyone else thinks, you can usually pass your joy along to someone else. Maybe they smile and give you a thumbs up. Maybe they are laughing their ass off at you. Maybe their day sucked and when they glanced over and saw us totally getting our groove on to some random song that we liked and our funky groove movement were all in sync, and that made them laugh. Win/win.

Just find what makes you happy and do it. And don’t give a damn what people think. Just find your happy place inside yourself and let it loose. Dance in your underwear. Sing at the top of your lungs. Jog like Phoebe and look like a fool. Just do it and don’t bother with what other people think. Because you are too busy being happy in your happy place. And when you’re there? It is contagious. I promise  you’ll make other people smile or laugh (even if it is at you) or even want to join you. The most important part of this is to find your happy place because we all need to retreat from the chaos and craziness that is life. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. Dust off you happy place. Give it a spit shine and air it out. It’s time to visit it more often. You need to take care of you. Yes, YOU.

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.

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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!

It’s time for me to go old school again

It’s time for me to go old school again

Ohh Emm Geee! Look who is blogging again. Yes, I realize it is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting  Month) but no, I am not blogging because of that. And I also know it is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)  and rather than sign up for that, I may dust off something I was working on. And, yes, it is also NaNaTaMo (Natioanal Nap Taking Month) and I most definitely will be taking advantage of that particular tradition.

Anyhooooo, I realized most of the things I would’ve normally blogged here, I have  been microblogging on Facebook. However, I haven’t been on Facebook for almost a week and you know what?  No one has even noticed. Facebok tends to give you a false sence  of intimacy. Not with everyone but with many. Especially when it comes to my chronic illnesses and bad days. My high school friends don’t want to hear about that. Neither do the people I worked with on campaigns a year or two ago (or more).  However, I will add that  a couple of weeks ago when I hit a wall of pain and a very dark place and gave a shout out for help,  many, many people came forward to be there to help pick me up.  That meant everything to me. So, there are awesome exceptions. I may pop my head in now and then but it hasn’t missed me so why should I miss it? Am I right?

Focus On Your Goals!
Focus On Your Goals!

So if I am going to be here more often, I need to clean house. Basically, I have some big changes coming up for my little home here. Can  you believe I missed my Blogiversary? 12 years! 12 YEARS!! Now it’s closer to 12  and a half. Nevertheless, can you believe I have been writing here for 12 years. Granted, I have been terrible about being consistent. But I need my space here to be share my thoughts freely. If you come here, it’s your choice. Unlike Facebook when I just pop up in your newsfeed, you choose to come to my home here. I am dusting her off, washing the windows, fluffing the pillows, and lighting some candles to make it smell cozy and homey. And of course, there is always coffee ready for anyone who wants some. I hope you come here and keep coming back. I have set some tough goals for myself here.

For instance, this post was supposed to be about something totally different and more personal but I backed away.  I’ll get used to being open here soon enough. (Or as they call it “blogging naked.”) The things I post may not be what my old readers  want to read. And, yes, that scares me. But? I have to get back to being myself. I can’t be the person some people want me to be. At least not all the time. I have changed. Chronic pain and chronic illness have changed me. I’m sorry to those friends who couldn’t handle the changed in me and had to walk out. I understand and I hold no grudges. It’s rough to have someone with chronic pain and illness in your life. I get that.

But as I write this, I can’t help but wonder if personal blogging is still a “thing” or have bloggers turned to microblogging on sites where they blog in sound bites? I guess we’ll find out. Are you ready to figure this out with me? Grab my hand. Let’s close our eyes. Now… Leap!

On blogging and Facebook

On blogging and Facebook

 

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Today was one of those days that kicked my ass. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. It brought me to a place where I thought “I want to blog about this.” But then I thought, “No, I shouldn’t. I may upset so and so.” Or “My blog has been down and I doubt anyone reads it amymore.” Or “Why do I even blog anymore. Do I still love it? Does anyone?” So I took the question to Facebook.

Oh, there was a time I never would have done that. It would be blog first always then maybe a link on Facebook but that would be a second thought. Today it was my first that and the blog didn’t come to me until after I read over 90+ responses to my question: “Does ANYONE blog *just* for the love of blogging anymore? Not worrying about stats, SEO, reviews, readership numbers, ads? Would you blog simply for the love of blogging? Or is that a relic of the past? Is that kind of blogging dead? It’s a genuine question. I want to hear your thoughts.”

I loved the variety of answers. Some blog for the love of it only. Some for money and passion. Some for work. Some only when they think about it. Some have quit. Every one that answered had a different reason for blogging. And I loved that. I really wanted to know if anyone still loved it because after more than 11 years (and many bumps, bruises, blood, sweat and tears), I wasn’t sure if I still did.

During the day (after I posted that) I noticed that I had 2 comments I had previously left on 2 pages were deleted. Maybe coincidence. And? Only one comment got me wrapped around the axle. It made me wonder…with the instantaneous ability to comment, question or debate someone on Facebook, are people more  likely to question something you write there than to come to your house (BLOG) and do it there. Say for instance if I asked that question here, first of all, I know I wouldn’t get over 90 people responding. Secondly, would people be likely to expound on their thoughts? Dig deeper than on Facebook? Maybe start a dialogue? I don’t know. It just made me wonder if people act/react differently in a community like Facebook than they would in you home like a blog.

Do you respond differently on Facebook than on a blog? I’ll be honest. There are times I do. It’s an easy knee jerk reaction when you see something scroll by to immediately respond. Good or bad. I’m open to both. I just want the dialogue. I have LOVED the conversation my question started. Absolutely loved it. Whether your answer was “Nah, don’t have time with all my work SEO etc to have the love” or “I love it so when I feel it, I write” or even “I hate this question. It makes me uncomfortable.” I love that it make you think. Or at least react. Thanks.