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Data and Other Stories

If you've spent any time with us {here or in real life} you already know that my husband and I are pretty different. While nearly 30 years of being in a relationship has smoothed out the rougher edges, we see things through unique lenses. Sometimes this is really aggravating. Occasionally, when I'm operating from my best and highest self, I learn things from him and apply them to problem areas. Since my husband doesn't fancy himself a guru, he generally finds it humorous when his straightforward words become my light bulb moments.

Here's an example. A few weeks ago while describing some work issue (he's the director of quality for a glass recycling company), he mentioned conducting various tests to figure out an issue. "What do you think it is?" I asked. He said, "I don't have to think about it; I just have to follow the story the data tells." We were in different states at the time, so he didn't see me fall out of my chair. Two weeks l…

Do What You Want.

Through my mid-20s, Happy by Clinique was my signature scent. When I got pregnant with P, my body chemistry changed and all of a sudden, the scent of Happy made me nauseated and gave me a headache. Markedly unhappy. I stopped wearing it. It wasn't a bad perfume, but it wasn't right for me.

Thinking about this, I had a light bulb moment. Sometimes people (really good people) just aren't our people. Maybe our energy and theirs don't mesh. That's okay. We don't have to be friends with everyone. We don't even have to have great relationships--or any--with people who share our DNA. Let me drop a truth bomb on you: You alone are responsible for your mental health, and if that means removing people from your life: Remove. Those. People. From. Your. Life. You don't need anyone's permission to safeguard your sanity. Don't give your energy away to people who aren't helping you reach your highest good. Wish them well and let them go. And, if someone h…

Just one more thing before I go...

Since I posted that blog a week ago, I've had people argue, unfriend, mock and block me. You guys...if you don't know me, I like people to like me. So for a recovering approval addict, that's tough.

Still, it was worth it. Because despite that garbage, I had many people reach out in confidence to share their stories. And you know what: No one named names. No one wanted to put some asshole from high school on blast. No one's goal was to destroy any man's life or career or family. People wanted to tell their stories and have someone say, I believe you. You didn't deserve that. Brene Brown writes that shame can't survive being spoken out loud and met with empathy. It's true. No one deserves to live in shame.

Now, the other side. Some men I know support the judge. Some people reached out to me to say that their dad, husband, father or another man they love was falsely accused. I see men around me reacting in fear: This could have been me. I see women aroun…

Why Didn't I Report It?

When I was 17, I went with friends to a party at a boy's house from another school. I drank too much and passed out. I don't remember much about the incident, but I woke up with my friend screaming at a boy, pulling me up and dragging me to the car. She told me that she came looking for me and found me passed out. The boy had his penis in my face. I don't remember it. Thankfully.

I never told my parents who would have said, "How stupid could you be? You shouldn't have put yourself in that position." They would not have said, "No one should put his penis in your face without your consent."

A few months ago, I saw a picture of that boy on social media. He's a man now. With a beautiful family. He probably doesn't remember that night. I wondered: What might have happened if my friend didn't walk in and tell him to get his dick out of my face? Were there were other girls whose friends didn't come looking for them? Did they ever tell anyone…

Save Yourself.

It's been almost a month since we took our only son to college. A month seemed like a pleasant, arbitrary number at which point I would have gotten past crying, worrying, and sadness. After a month, I'll be able to walk into his room and not feel like I'm going to throw up. By the time a month has passed we'll have settled into some sort of new routine. And in some ways we have.
But here are some other truths:
I still miss him every day.
Saying goodbye fucking sucks every time.
I worry and sometimes wish he would come home and go to a closer college.
He has changed dramatically in a month.
He is far braver than I knew.

Also a month ago, Brad and I had a conversation about my not wanting to do something because it scared me. Brad said, "Baby, we can't not do things because they scare us." Au contraire, mon cheri. I have spent most of my life firmly planted in my comfort zone, and it has worked out pretty well actually. But lately some nagging things indic…

Scars Are Cool

"Not everything happens for a reason, but there's something to be learned in every experience."--Rachel Hollis, Made For More
The least helpful--and arguably cruelest--thing you can say to someone suffering the loss of a loved one is, "Everything happens for a reason." Really. It's been 21 years since my brother's addiction and depression pushed him to the point that he took his own life. I'll never not be sad about that. I'll never believe that happened for a "reason."

However, I believe the experience of losing him in such a profoundly tragic way taught me things I would never have learned in another way.

When I started going to counseling a few months ago, I told my therapist, "I think I've dealt with all my childhood stuff, so we can just skip over that." Mercifully, she didn't laugh at me; in hindsight, I imagine she hears that a lot so she's probably prepared. Nearly as soon as the words left my mouth thing…

Go Ahead. Feel It.

I woke up this morning feeling...blah. Maybe it was a hangover from too much peopling. Maybe it was the realization that we are down to one month until my son leaves for college. Maybe it's the fact that today's my dad's birthday, and he's not here. Maybe it's a combination of all those things and more.

This morning, when my firstborn life coach asked, "How are you?" I said, "Okay." This is our code for "I'm actually wallowing in a dark place of self-pity or loathing, writhing in guilt, shame, or some other yucky emotion, but far, very far, from okay." She said, "You're allowed to be frustrated and pissy," and sent me an article. Because she's amazing and has a gift for finding the right words even when she didn't write them. I'll share the article* with you, because it was really phenomenal, but there was this one section that really struck me:
...you think yourself in circles whenever you feel an unwelco…

Did I Love Him Enough?

I just started reading a new book. It's called Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much by Colette Baron-Reid, who I discovered on my current favorite podcast: This is Fifty With Sheri and Nancy. It is blowing my mind and showing me that some of the extra pounds I'm carrying don't even belong to me. Seriously. This is yours, this is his, this is hers, and oh wait, THAT? That belongs to a person who isn't even part of my life anymore! Great. Take your shit back.

More on that later. But, listen to the podcast. Seriously, you will love it!

Anyway, while in this super zen, grown-up, boundary-setting, higher self head space, I need to tackle an issue I've been avoiding for about 18 years but really strongly avoiding for the last 6 months. My son is growing up. He graduates from high school on Sunday, and in a few months, he's moving to Columbus to attend THE Ohio State University.

Can I tell you a secret? I used to LOVE everything about THE Ohio State University, bu…

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

As a person who is always looking for ways to improve...my marriage, parenting, friendships, and self, I'm a keen observer of relationships. What makes happy marriages work? Why does this group of friends get along while this group is fraught with drama? How does that mother cultivate a respectful relationship with her teen daughter? The last one was especially relevant yesterday after I lost my shit at Target. How does buying black pants and a white shirt for a band concert turn into such a clusterfuck?

Anyway, when you watch enough relationships, you begin to pick up clues, patterns, and ideas. You see what works and what doesn't for different people.

Our marriage goal is happiness over longevity. Who cares if you've been married 50 years if you're miserable? My husband is my best friend, my person, my ride-or-die. I would choose to spend time with him over anyone else in the world. That didn't just happen. We have worked and cultivated and continue to pour into …

Losing My Mind in 5, 4, 3, 2...

It's been about two and a half months since I wrote anything other than lists, lunch box notes, absence excuses, a couple IG posts and some random scribbles in my bullet, list and gratitude journals. I scrapped the diet when my mom broke her hip and my aunt got pneumonia a month ago, and stress and lack of sleep got the best of me. Plus the whole gallon of water thing when you're using hospital restrooms all day? Nope.

Wanna know a secret?  Still the same weight. It's a mystery.

Onto today.......

Today, I have the enormous luxury of letting the stream of shit that's been clogging up my brain, heart and soul for these many weeks drain through my fingers.

A few months ago I entered my book into a memoir contest. Cheryl Strayed was the judge, and since Cheryl Strayed is my imaginary BFF, I was certain (like really C E R T A I N) that it would win. So certain that I stopped writing query letters, quit trying to build my platform, stopped editing and rewriting, and just wa…

Gaining and Losing...and Gaining.

I'm taking a break from Facebook. I didn't disable my account for a few reasons:

It's my only connection to some people I might want to reach. Still trying to sell a book so -- social media presence. Lily likes to peruse animal adoption pages and then engage me in lively dinnertime musings such as, "Mom. Can you even stand this puppy? Look how CUTE it is! Ruby needs a baby sister. What if no one adopts it and they put it to sleep? Can you live with yourself if that happens? Wow. Really? Well, I can't." I might need to ask for recommendations about a plumber or AirBNB or having surgery for a bone spur. And everyone knows FB gives the best advice.

So I have legit reasons, but I took the app off my phone and I just don't look at it. Like many other things, when I don't see it, I don't think about it. Pizza, for example. I rarely think about its doughy, cheesy goodness unless it's sitting on my bar top whispering its sultry, sizzling siren song. We…

Being a Cool Mom

24 years ago, I became a mom. I couldn't wait to be a mom. Arguably, I should have waited a little longer, but I didn't used to be very good at following rules. When I became a mom, I had really high hopes for the kind of relationship I would have with my daughter...now daughters. I wanted my girls to grow up to be my best friends. I wanted us to do cool, fun things together. I thought, kind of like Amy Poehler's character in Mean Girls, that I would not be a regular mom, but a cool mom.



I would not be like my mom. All mom-ish. I have always been really close to my mom while simultaneously not close at all to my mom. I don't tell her secrets. Especially as a teen. I love my mom. She lives with me -- that's how much I love her -- but we aren't friends. I never wanted to hang out with her. I didn't think she was cool. She was my mom. I loved her in a mom way.

I wanted one of those mythical mother/daughter relationships that transcended into friendship with my…

Before and After

We all have defining moments...instances when something happens--good or bad--and you know from that point forward you'll measure your life in terms of before and after that event. Of course there are sometimes more than one, but there is nearly always one.

For me, it was my brother's death. February 5, 1989. There have been others. A dear friend's death in 1992. Another brother died in 1997. My dad died in 2011. But February 5, that was the one for me.

I started to think of and look at things in terms of before Chris died and after.

Before Chris died, I believed in magic. In God. In miracles. After, I believed that you should never let yourself get too comfortable or trust happiness because it would be ripped away from you.

Before Chris died, I often felt special and love and cherished. For too long after, I felt pretty worthless.

Before Chris died, I believed that I was brave and strong. After he died, I felt weak and afraid when I needed to be brave and strong.

Before …

What's Saving Your Life Right Now?

I am always always always trying to be more present. Look at my kids while they talk about their days instead of calling over my shoulder, "I'm listening; I promise!" while I unload the dishwasher or prep dinner. Enjoy the people I'm with instead of scrolling through social media to see what other people are doing. Sometimes I do pretty well. Other times I don't.

One of my favorite podcasters, Emily P. Freeman (The Next Right Thing) talks about paying attention to how our feeds affect us in "Ignore With Intention." Often we avoid accounts when posts anger or depress us, but sometimes, we need to give ourselves permission to unfollow people with great content if that content makes us feel discontent. 
For example, if you're trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, you might want to avoid a pregnant acquaintance's beautifully curated IG feed that is all bump and nursery pics. Not because you don't love her. Not because you aren't thrilled fo…

Lighten Up, Buttercup

One of my goals for 2018 is to relax, go with the flow more and try to steer the boat less. In that spirit, I've read and listened to a lot about the enneagram in the last few days--my type, Brad's type, my kids' types, and all my 2 friends--to understand people better, improve relationships, and cultivate a happier and more lighthearted environment in which to thrive.

This is a shift, as--shocker--I'm not always a super lighthearted person. I can be serious, dark, and moody, especially this time of the year. Brad used to tell me frequently to "Lighten up" when we were first married. I freaked the fuck out every time. He reacted in shock: "I don't see how you don't see what I see, which is that you really need to lighten up." I smashed shit. He remained baffled. Eventually, he dropped that phrase from his vocabulary, and our level of happiness skyrocketed.
I see things this way.
You see things that way.
If you saw things my way, the world wo…

What's Your Type?

You all know how much I love personality tests. I read, write, and talk about them all the time. True story: I have a slowly growing note in Google Keep with all my people's types. It grows slowly because sometimes, my gentle, "Hey would you take this test please" pleas are met with resistance, eye-rolling, and occasional disdain. Not from two of my closest friends who are 2's though; they are ON IT, and I love them for always indulging me.

Lately, the enneagram keeps coming into my path, so I'm paying attention. I have not studied it much because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION it feels overwhelming. Some time ago, I'd done a test and recall my type was between 2 and 4, the helper and the individualist/romantic. I've listened and read enough to agree with these types. I like to help people...my love language is acts of service--I show love by doing--but I don't need or even really like to be needed. In fact, I immediately start backing away from needy p…