Category Archives: me and my thoughts

inked.

When I got my second tattoo, the word courage in my mom’s handwriting on my ribs, I didn’t post it here for several months. I love my simple little tattoos, and I’d honestly love a whole bunch more. And I can deal with them not being everyone’s taste – that’s totally cool, you don’t have to get one. I don’t have much patience for people who are rude or super judgy about them, though, which is why I’ve always waited to share here.

I’m guessing you know where this is going…

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from one of my closest friends asking me and another friend if we were available for “lunch on Friday and maybe a tattoo.” I laughed and immediately said I was in…for both.

I’d been thinking for a while about adding more of my mom’s writing to my ribs, and the timing couldn’t have been better – we were going on the Friday before Mother’s Day. On my 10th Mother’s Day without my mom. So I quickly grabbed my only writing sample of hers and decided on the other two words I’d have added to courage.

It’s all healed up now, and I am so happy with it. It’ll be a while before it blends with how settled into my skin courage is, but I’m fine with that.

And yes. It hurt, but it was totally worth it.

Reliable.

First, I had to think long and hard about how to even log in to this account to be able to write on my own blog that I used to write on multiple times a week, so I realize that no one may read this because you don’t know that I’m still here. It’s been a minute since I’ve written…but if you’re reading this, welcome. I miss writing and I’m here because I’m a little bit fired up.

it’s not rocket science, people.

I used to spend a LOT of time in coffee shops when I was writing a book (I don’t want to talk about it…it’s in draft form, begging for a revision that I already have in mind, and I’ll get to it someday but who knows when). I usually had earbuds in, but occasionally I’d grow tired of the music and instead listen to the din of noise around me. I feel like I got pretty good during that time at reading people who were there in my usual spot. Most people were pretty considerate of those around them.

Lately, when I have work to do between appointments, I sometimes settle in for an hour or two at a coffee shop. I did just that today. Again, when I’m working I generally have earbuds in, but the group of three at the table next to me was so loud that I could sometimes hear them over my music. So I had some idea of what they were talking about.

From what I gleaned, Mid-50s Lady had a small business she created (the product was on the table and you’d die laughing at how ridiculous it was, but in the interest of keeping this anonymous, I’m not going to link to it…I’ll just say that there’s something for everyone, right?). Slick-Guy-in-His-30s was self-employed, had contacts in the radio industry and does marketing-ish stuff, and she wanted him to help her get her product out there, in magazines and on the radio (and I hilariously heard him trying to explain podcasts and streaming content to her). Other Man at Table, with his back to me, was also in his late 50s, and after 90 minutes next to them, I still have no idea why he was there because he seemed clueless about both her product and marketing in general.

M50L left after a while, and the two men remained at the table. I was still listening to music, their conversation was a bit quieter, and I was just working away at writing a report I needed to get done. I took out my earbuds when I got up to refill my iced tea, and as I came back to the table, I heard Slick Guy say he was looking for a full-time graphic designer to work with him, how he had trouble retaining people, blah blah blah. He then told a quick story of a recent female employee who thought she deserved a raise, and he told Other Man at Table why she didn’t. But I left my earbuds out when I heard Other Man at Table say something to the effect of how he’d just seen a story last week about women still making 70 cents on the dollar compared to men.

“You know why, though, right? It’s because women aren’t as reliable as employees. Got a sick kid? They’ve got to go get them, and then their work doesn’t get done. That’s why they don’t get ahead. And then if they stay home with kids, they completely lose their skills.”

MMMKAY. So now you all know why we’re here on the blog today.

I shot Slick Guy a look that probably scared him because I’m positive I looked possessed. He knew I heard this. I looked back at my computer immediately, and listened to Slick Guy say something to the effect of how he could kind of understand needing to tend to kids, as he was a single dad, so he sometimes had to leave work, too, etc. Then he quickly tried to move on and wrap up their conversation and go.

In the moments I forced myself to stare at my computer instead of sharing with this gentleman what I thought of his opinion, I bit back a million words, and trust me that some 750,000 of them are not fit to publish. I side-eye glanced at the tables around me: a young woman studying her medical books; a middle-aged couple having lunch; another young woman working diligently on a spreadsheet. I decided in that moment not to let the redneck girl in me unleash a sweary tirade lest I set my fellow women back further. I forced myself not to tell him I’d taken years off to stay at home with my boys (did he have children? Who raised them?), and that I’d since gone back to work (clearly having gained NO skills while I raised children), and that I was sitting there, reliably meeting my deadlines and getting my work done while he was running his mouth and perpetuating the stereotypes that keep women from ever catching up, all while making less than I probably would if I’d just stayed in the work force all those years.

The funny conclusion to the story is that those guys left, and Other Man at Table left his coffee cup sitting there (this is a place where you clean off your own table)…y’know, cause an underpaid woman was probably going to clean it up for him. A woman did walk up to the table and asked those of us in close proximity if it was taken; the man from the couple sitting close immediately commented, “No, the man before you left it there.” My ears perked up and I looked at him, and he said, “Did you hear what he was saying? I told my wife I’d be fired if I said that about a woman. Are you here working?” I nodded, and said, “And, I’m one of those women who stayed home for years, too.”

His wife said she had, too, and then gone back to work. I told them I’d had to force myself not to respond to the loud talker. They both smiled and wished me well as they left a couple of minutes later.

Equality. It’s not really a thing just yet, friends. But keep being reliable, ok, ladies? We’re gonna get there.

enough is enough.

(I know. I’ve been MIA for months. I got a job! It’s been an exciting, crazy couple of months. I’ll get back here and write about that soon.)

These days, I get my news from my Twitter feed in the very-early morning while I wait impatiently for my Keurig to spit out my first cup of coffee. Today, I was finally reading a bit of post-debate news. I came across some information that suggested Sen. Jeff Sessions, who supports Trump, didn’t think it was “clear” that grabbing a woman by the genitals is sexual assault (after intense backlash, he has since recanted and said he was misquoted, etc.).

But reading that made me mad as hell. Because I highly doubt there would be any lack of clarity on his part if a man or woman grabbed his own child by the genitals. Yet, he and MILLIONS of others are willing to dismiss this as “locker room talk.”

(Yes, I am aware that this was a nasty man bragging about a hypothetical situation. I am also aware that we live in a world where Billy Bush has been suspended as an entertainment reporter from the Today show for his involvement in the conversation while his counterpart is running for President. Insert giant eyeroll.)

Look. I’m not a prude, and I am well aware of braggadocious, crude language being dismissed for generations as “locker room talk,” but let’s not change the subject. Let’s pretend for a second that it’s 2016 and women are humans and that our kids deserve better than this. Because I actually think my boys do.

What they deserve is everyone – men and women, regardless of party affiliation – denouncing sexual assault in any and all forms.

This is not about who you are voting for – and we are not having that discussion in this space – you do what you have to for whatever reasons you have to. But do not dismiss this talk. If you are still able to vote for Trump after this, I understand that there are myriad reasons for that, but stand up against the thinking there is grey area in sexual assault. Don’t divert by talking about how “what Hillary (or Bill) did was worse!” That is another discussion, and it’s also possibly the reasoning behind why you’ll still vote for him, but it is NOT a response to Trump’s statements.

And for the love – stop with the asking about where the outrage over 50 Shades of Grey was years ago. It was a work of fiction (that I did not read, for the record), and while I completely understand and agree that books are powerful and can influence culture, and that this series was far from wholesome, it’s preposterous to use this to deflect and defend.

Sexual assault is wrong. Period. Full stop.

Vote for him if you must. But don’t let your, or my, kids grow up thinking there is any grey area in terms of assault.

On Fire.

Remember how I had the privilege of working with an amazing team of people to help Jen Hatmaker launch her book?

I like having access to books before they’re published and getting a chance to help spread the word about them when I strongly believe in the message. Since I didn’t steer you wrong last time, I need you to trust me today when I tell you about an incredible book that you must read.

John O’Leary is a lifelong St. Louisan with an amazing story to tell. When he was nine years old, he was burned over 100% of his body – by a fire he set in the family’s garage – and was not expected to live. In fact, shortly after the fire, he asked his mom if he was going to die. (I have to pause here for a second as a mom every time I read this, because it takes my breath away to think about having to answer that question.) Her response, which John says changed everything as he laid in the hospital in excruciating pain, was, “John, do you want to die? It’s your choice, not mine.”

Miraculously, after months of hospitalization, and multiple surgeries that included the amputation of his fingers and repeated skin grafts, he was well enough to go home. Obviously, he had years of physical therapy and recovery ahead of him, but he persevered with the support of his family, his faith and his community.

I have had the honor of hearing John speak (and play the piano!), as well as meet and talk with him, and I promise, you simple will not find a more inspiring, encouraging, real human being than him. His story, and outlook on life, is one you need to hear or read to believe.

And fortunately for all of us, he has written his story. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, is available starting today.

On-Fire

Friends, it is so beautiful, and so clearly conveys his message of hope, faith, love, gratitude and living boldly to impact those around you. You will laugh and cry at his honest storytelling as he walks through his entire experience, including the key players in his recovery (his family and Jack Buck, the legendary Cardinals broadcaster), and what his life – challenges and blessings alike – has been like in the thirty years since the fire. Spoiler: he has a lovely wife and four beautiful children. You’ll be inspired to embrace today for the gift that it is, and live #OnFire.

Oh, and there’s this. You know how much I love Brené Brown. Here’s what she had to say about John’s book:

This is a book about coming alive – about practicing courage and fully showing up at home, work, and with the people we love. John is a storyteller, change-maker, and cage-rattler. Reading this book is like having a good friend look you square in the eye and say, “The time to be brave is now.” 

So you don’t even have to just take my word for it…Brené loved it, too!

Click on the link above, and order a copy of the book for yourself. You won’t be able to put it down.

Click on the link above, and order a copy of the book for yourself. You won’t be able to put it down. You can also follow John on Facebook and/or Twitter. He writes a blog post every Monday, has a short vlog every Wednesday, and posts to Facebook a few times a week. You won’t want to miss these doses of inspiration!

 

To Quote Jen Hatmaker…

Hi all. I’m still here. Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk lately, hence the lack of posting (I have several unfinished posts floating around). Trying to finish my book, trying to write a proposal for it*, which is making me all sorts of crazy, and then, you know, just life and holidays and such.

But today? Today I committed to writing for a while. In a spot I often do, so there are other “regulars” here that I see, well, regularly (see? I’m fantastic with all the words right now).

There’s a middle-aged woman who counsels a couple of homeschooled teen girls, and it’s obvious she’s leading them in a Bible study. I’ve overheard her for months while I work, and I often disagree with what she’s saying, but whatever.

This morning, while I was sitting across the aisle from them, I had my earbuds out of my ears for some reason. (I generally write with music on – but only music I know all the lyrics to, and with the same song on repeat for a long time.) I heard the woman preaching to these girls about how trashy tattoos were on women. Double ear piercing is also, apparently, undesirable, just so you know.

Look: I get it. I knew when I got my tattoos that there are people who feel this way, and I really don’t care. Really. It’s my body, I love my ink, and I intend to get more. If I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that I may be judged for this, I wouldn’t have gotten them. And I double-pierced my ears when I was (gasp!) 16, and have lived with the obvious societal consequences ever since. Eyeroll.

But that brings me to the title of this post, and the title of one of my favorite chapters in Jen’s book For the Love (which I told you about here). In the final copy it’s called “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Lame,” but in the advance it was called “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Crappy,” which I much prefer :).

I overheard this comment today, and I was able to put this in the context of this woman’s other “teaching” and dismiss it.

However. What about the other people sitting around her who don’t know the context? What if they are new Christians with tattoos? Or what if they aren’t Christians and are curious? What are they thinking when they hear this lady talk?

All I could think of was that title of Jen’s chapter.

I was feeling a little sassy and nearly said something, then changed my mind, because HELLO…I don’t want to be crappy. And let’s be honest, I probably would not have said something very nice. Bonus points for self-control.

So that’s it. I’ve just officially written more words (more than 500!) and paragraphs than I have in weeks, so maybe I should thank her for the inspiration.

*Here’s the book update: the process of writing the proposal has exposed some holes in the story. Which I think is great…I want to find those myself and fill them in before I try to submit this thing, but it’s meant so much revision, taking a breather from it when I get frustrated, then getting back to it when I feel ready. And today I found another big spot that needs revision, but I’m choosing to look at that as a positive.

A Peek into my Day.

(I know. Two posts today. Surely these are the end times.)

This just happened, and because I’m laughing at myself as I reflect on this, I decided to write it down.

We are having company overnight Friday night that I’m pretty pumped about, so I’m doing a bit of cleaning (honestly, my housekeeping standards are pretty low, so I make sure bathrooms and floors are clean) and food prep.

While making a grocery list, I cleaned out the fridge a bit.

Which meant throwing a couple of things away.

Into a full trash can. I decided I should just empty the trash all over the house.

At the foot of the stairs I saw the bag I had from shopping this morning, which had 2 pairs of booties and a casual little dress in it. I couldn’t decide in the store on the booties because, of course, I was wearing my only pair of non-skinny jeans today.

So I went up to my room, changed into the dress, and decided: it’s a keeper. Changed into skinnies…still couldn’t decide on which pair of booties I wanted to keep.

Realized that I have a bonus hour today until kid pickup, because younger two have running club and oldest has a meeting. Score.

So I changed into my workout clothes and threw hair in a ponytail, so I can get a workout in.

And then I saw the bathroom trash, which was full. Oh yeah. I was going to empty that. But before I did, I thought I should clean the bathroom up a bit…and I used the last of the antibacterial wipes while I did.

Actually remembered the trash before I went back to the kitchen, and grabbed the main floor bathroom trash can on my way. When I got that, I saw the toilet cleaner, and remembered that I needed to take that to the basement bathroom.

Dumped trash, went downstairs and squirted toilet cleaner in that toilet (I guarantee I won’t remember to actually clean this until like 9pm tonight) on my way to getting a canister of anti-bac wipes from basement storage.

Back to kitchen, where my grocery list sits, half completed.

YOU GUYS. Can you even believe I somehow wrote enough words to make a whole book? And is it any wonder than when I need to get some writing done, I leave my house? For the love. I’m a mess. (Also, potentially pertinent information: I am fully caffeinated today, too.)

Now. Off to walk a few miles on this perfectly lovely day.

Wanna Hear a Secret?

So it’s not really a secret exactly…lots of you will read this and think, “Uh, yeah, already knew that.” I just haven’t written about it here, probably because it makes it feel so official, and I wasn’t ready for that yet. Vulnerability and all that jazz.

I blogged a couple of times earlier this year about being brave and making some decisions about finding a job, but I left one little thing out, and it’s this: I wrote a book.

Like a whole entire book.

>>>>>

For a long, long time I’ve thought about writing a book. However, I was never very sure what I wanted to write about. And clearly, that is a problem when you want to write a book.

The one idea I always kind of thought of writing about was my mom, and how cancer impacted her and how she still chose to be grateful despite her circumstances, etc. However, there were a lot of factors surrounding this idea that I wasn’t sure about:

Is it entirely my story to tell?

Do I want to go there, and relive all of this myself? I mean, that sounds kind of painful, and in general, I like to avoid pain.

Is there enough story to write an entire book?

The more I thought about it late last fall, the more the idea grew in my head. {Cue the insomnia I’ve mentioned before.} It started to feel like there was no way I could NOT write this. I finally got brave enough to talk to my siblings and dad about this idea, and since no one objected – I feel so much like it’s our story – by around the beginning of January, I started writing.

I committed myself to writing regularly – several mornings a week, and sometimes, late at night, when I couldn’t sleep. The whole book concept was still a complete mess; I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it yet, but I just kept writing. The one thing I knew I wanted to do was excerpt relevant blog posts from around the time of my mom’s illness and death; those posts were written in the moment, and they were far more emotionally-charged than what I could write (or details I could remember) at this point. So I was also reading my own blog posts from years ago, and making lists of what I could use. It was totally, beautifully, horribly, consuming.

Remember that time I went on that blissful overnight retreat by myself? Yeah. That was so I could write.

Also…psst…um, I got another tattoo that day of my retreat. It’s the word courage, in my mom’s handwriting, on my ribcage. Kelli went with me and held my hand because mercy, this one hurt a little more than my wrist.

 But I digress.

Back to the book stuff: I had written quite a bit, and checked the word count. It was somewhere near 15,000. A quick google search told me that most memoirs are around 50,000 at least.

Ooohhhkay. So then I was thinking maybe I’m writing a bookLET. Or a pamplet. Because I didn’t know if there was that much more story left in me. But, after asking a couple of dear friends to read what I had so far, and taking their feedback to heart, I knew what else I could write about.

I decided to go back and add chapters to the beginning, telling about my mom and who she was as she grew up, and then about my own little family. Then, the cancer story, and its impact: grief, legacy, all of that. I’m currently rewriting the ending and editing it from a hard copy (which is totally different than editing on the computer screen, I’m finding, and absolutely exhilarating to see all of my words printed out!).

I honestly don’t know what will come of this yet. Obviously, I would LOVE to have it published, and I’m researching and exploring my options for this.

Here’s what I know, though: I LOVE WRITING. I feel like a writer now. I would love to somehow make this my job. While on vacation in Siesta Key (I swear, I’m still going to blog about our amazing trip), I came up with a second book idea, which I’ll talk about in an another post because a) this post is getting super long and b) I’m going to need your help, dear readers, with this next idea I have.

So there you have it! My last several months in a nutshell. More on this to come, I’m sure.