Who’s the Victim Here?

Today I see a post making the rounds on Facebook. It stuns me to the core.

Just gonna throw this out there: I have ZERO sympathy for anyone who thinks poor little Trump is just getting SO BEAT UP by the press with all these lies told about him. It’s just “so unfair.” “No other president” had to “put up with that”. We’re told to just “let him do his job.”

That is the height of hypocrisy. The biggest bully our country has seen, who lies so “bigly” and so often, is a freaking VICTIM?

Cry me a river.

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No, actually, get your head out of your ass.
Yes, I said it.
  • HE tells the lies, not the press.
  • HE fosters an environment where fact checking every freaking word is a necessity.
  • HE stirs the pot with vitriol and hate.
  • Look to HIM for the horrific leadership he most definitely shows us every minute of every day.
YOU put him in office, you live with the consequences. We who didn’t put him in office certainly do.
Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

You Must Do the Thing You Cannot Do, v2

Some of you might remember my post last month about how I pressed myself to do a singing gig with my husband in early July. I love to sing, I like the sound of my singing voice, and I have no problem doing it. I am definitely a singer.

What I am not, however, is an entertainer. I didn’t make that distinction in the last post. There’s a huge difference when all eyes are on you – the audience is expecting you to guide them, cheer them up, or deliver a mood of some kind. It can be intimidating. I have way more experience and confidence as a singer but not as an entertainer, not for a whole show. Just wanted to share that. That’s not what this post is about, though…

Nevertheless I did it. I remembered the lines of the songs, no problem, and although I didn’t hit the right pitch with every single note, it was a decent performance. We had a high turnout in our town square for the event and I saw several friendly faces in the audience. Several friends heard me sing for the first time and were genuinely surprised.

I thoughtfully chose my outfit for the night…an off shoulder jumper in blue, not too casual and not too dressy. It was a good hair night…the weather wasn’t too humid so I didn’t dissolve into a sweaty puddle like I am often prone to do. I looked alright, at least as good as I can look lately.


A local photographer came out and took photos of the event. She knows my husband well and likes us both, so she took over 300 photos of the event and posted them on Facebook.

It crushed me.

Several of my friends near and far liked the photos of course, and as that number grew, I grew too…more and more despondent. No hiding anymore that I’m 80 pounds overweight. It’s not like people don’t know….everybody knows I’m obese, but I am careful about the photos that are posted on Facebook. There was no getting around it this time.

And I just sobbed for days on end.

In contrast, my husband was flying high after the event, very happy about how it transpired. He complimented my work over and over, to the point of it feeling insincere. Don’t get me wrong: he doesn’t spew fake flattery toward anyone, but for whatever reason his compliments rang hollow with me. It felt like he was going overboard with the compliments so I would be sure to sing again…and yet this whole time, he was oblivous to how I was upset.

Funny how two people can view the same thing totally different ways, but that’s a truism about life, isn’t it?

I finally explained that I was very unhappy about being captured accurately in the pictures – which are lovely pictures and I should thank the photographer for taking her time to shoot and post so many photos – because I was portrayed exactly as the middle-aged, obese woman I am today, over and over again, from several different angles. The pictures do not lie. And yet I can’t be unhappy because the photographer was just capturing what was otherwise a lovely evening in her very talented way.

He and our kids pleaded with me that I looked fine – beautiful, even. I mean, sure…I was more dressed up than normal and it was “nice” relative to what they see from me daily.

But that’s not what I saw. All I saw were huge hips, a giant belly, short, lumpy arms, and a double chin. I mean, you may as well slap a couple of strings on me and pull me along the Macy’s parade…I’d fit right in!

And then for my husband to realize that I was upset that certain friends of mine had “liked” my photo…it just spiraled down from there. He became hurt that my feelings about what my friends thought was more important than what he thought about me. Then I got angry that he couldn’t just support me at one of the lowest points in my life, not that I haven’t been down in the dumps about my physical appearance before. I’ve been down in the dumps about it for 20 years. Ok, longer than that: how about always. But it got way worse in the second half of my life. Apparently I don’t handle stress all that well and it shows, in ways I cannot hide.

We slept apart for a few weeks. I was so angry at him and disappointed with myself I couldn’t even talk about it. I didn’t want anything to do with him. I figured I was on my own to figure it out, because ultimately I am, so I kept myself literally, physically on my own.

The bottom line is you either accept yourself as-is (which obviously isn’t happening here) or do something about it. I mean, there’s no point in praying about this because God doesn’t answer prayers to solve problems you can and must solve for yourself.

The fact is, when I look in the mirror, I don’t know who that woman is. And I could not hate who and what I see in the mirror more than I do right now. It’s a tough thing to admit but it’s the 100% truth.


Needless to say, July was a rough month.

So I am doing the thing I cannot do. I signed up for Crossfit and it starts tomorrow. I don’t usually announce stuff like this because truth be told, I try various things to get fit and none of them stick….walking, yoga, running, whatever…

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You have no idea….I am not an athlete. Never was. I am not strong, not limber, not coordinated. I get winded so easily and I sweat profusely with very little effort or stress – I always have. The Crossfit facility has no air conditioning. I’m walking around with plantar fasciitis…I have no idea how this will work but I decided that I MUST do this. It was the most radical solution I could devise.

This isn’t even real Crossfit. I’ve enrolled in a six-week “baby” Crossfit program, three days a week. If I can demonstrate an ability to get through that, I can graduate to a real Crossfit program. This approach sounds about right for my fitness level.

I must do something about how I feel versus just sit and cry about it. Here’s to Michelle Obama arms, a perky tush, squares on my belly, and sculpted legs. Wish me luck. Wish me strength and perseverance.

What’s the thing you cannot do? Will you dare to give it a go?

Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

Facebook Farewell?

william-iven-19844-unsplashI do believe my love affair with Facebook has come to an end. The latest news about the misuse of user data is among the final nails in the coffin of what was once a fun online community.

This week Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence over the news that Facebook user data was provided to Cambridge Analytica inappropriately, and it sounds like that data was then ultimately used to target undecided voters in some midwestern states in the US during the last presidential election to sway those same users to vote for Trump.

Put aside for a moment that so many people were gullible enough to be swayed to vote for him. I’m not one of them. He has proven himself to be exactly what I knew he was all along, an erratic buffoon, a bully, a fraud. A narcissistic, misogynistic racist. A chaotic coward backed into a corner and lashing out at everyone. The adjectives are endless. He is everything I despise in a human, and somehow he was elevated to leader of the free world. That says everything you need to know about the state of Earth these days.

But Facebook? I’m just so tired of it all.

Once upon a time, I got a huge kick out of the banter and posts that my friends, family, and acquaintances shared. I loved their pictures, even the ones of cats that I’m allergic too. I loved reconnecting with the friends I had made all across the country from my work travels and those who lived nearby but ultimately moved away. It was so nice to reconnect with people from all walks of my life. It was the place where I developed my love of writing and where I got a lot of encouragement from friends in doing so. For that I will be grateful.

Every once in a while someone jumped the shark with their posts or comments and you realized who to avoid, for so many reasons. Some were drama queens seeking endless attention. You had the Negative Nellys who complained about something – everything – with every single post. How on earth can people live their life that way? Do they hear themselves talk? Do they have any ability to self-reflect and self-correct? Oy.

There were the past acquaintances from my hometown whose language, humor, and outlook on life was just consistently crass and crude, and while I can be good-humored and accept people for exactly who they are, I am reminded that I have a choice about who I hang with, who I let influence my life, even if it is just words on a page. These people remind me why I moved away and don’t visit. Not to mention the people who are flat-out crazy. Maybe it took seeing their personality in full bloom online but you know you’ve met these same crazy people. Stay away.

Of course there were the ones who befriended you that you barely knew 20 years ago, and others who befriended you and then never interacted with you whatsoever. Ok, I suppose I’ve been guilty of the same thing. It happens. You live and learn.

For the longest time I kept my circle of friends online pretty tight. I was sharing pictures of my kids, after all. I’d go through cycles of expanding the friends list and then cutting back because I felt too exposed. Once we decided that we were staying put in our current community (I had seriously raised the possibility of moving back to my beloved Pittsburgh with my husband for a solid 10 years), I finally began to open up my circle to include the people I met in this town. But every now and then I felt the need to draw the wagons a little closer and unfriend people when my circle got too big and superficial.

Ok, maybe I waxed a little too long about the crazy people on Facebook. If I had to guess, there are people who include ME among those crazy people. That’s only fair.

I’ve been on Facebook for nine years already. Nine years! Other than being married, that’s the longest stretch I’ve done anything. What an evolution we’ve witnessed, those of us long-time users.

First it started with the short little posts about what was on your mind. Those early posts seem so quaint now. Then there were endless viral games delivered via apps that lured people to “discover your personality!” and then share the results. In reality, these were endless apps that collected data about Facebook users and their friends but it wasn’t obvious to people at the time.

Then Facebook further evolved to surface news articles but it didn’t feel like serious news. It felt like you had a direct link to the National Enquirer headlines. Eh. There’s only so much celebrity news I can handle, ya know?

Then came the ads for every store under the sun…shops I frequented and brands I had never heard of but felt lured to try. This is when I really started to get turned off. I missed the fun updates from my friends. Facebook became a giant ad book, and they implemented algorithms that chose whose posts you’d see routinely instead of you choosing whose posts you’d see. That was clearly a turning point for the worst. That’s when I started losing touch with people online.

I tried deactivating my account a couple of times. Once or twice I knew I was spending too much time online, and at least once I logged off temporarily because I could tell I was feeling bad about myself and my life relative to what everyone else was presenting online.

I couldn’t stick with it. Somewhere along the way, Facebook became a way to connect with the events and issues at my kids’ school district, and to learn what was happening in our community since I don’t get the local paper. It became integrated with my daily life….and very hard to break away.

This is particularly true for me because I have been an online geek forever in internet years: since 1996. I gravitated first toward AOL, then iVillage, then LinkedIn, and ultimately to Facebook. And sure, I have a Twitter and Instagram account but naturally those don’t have the same appeal to this writer.

As if the commercialization of Facebook was the end of it! Oh no….it kept evolving, and people figured out they could use Facebook to sell product: tote bags, health supplements, leggings, skincare. I was one of them for a hot minute last year even as much as I disliked seeing those sorts of posts from my friends. I wanted to hear what was going on in their LIFE, not be a target for a quick buck. On one hand, it’s been good to get exposure to products I would otherwise never discover but this wasn’t what I wanted from an online community.

I wanted friendship. Information. Laughs. Connection.

So you see, I already had this love/hate cha-cha going on with Facebook as it was these last few years. And then the last presidential election cycle heated up, and I was disturbed by the people who seemed to blindly support Trump. The rhetoric online was raw, ugly, vitriolic. I saw sides of people I never knew and was horrified to see.

It hasn’t improved. As a matter of fact, it’s gotten worse and I’ll admit that I’ve contributed to the tone because I cannot let people forget what a mistake I think they’ve made voting for that fool. And more friends have taken a break from being online because they just can’t take what Facebook has become as a result.

So this latest revelation that user data was misused is really no surprise whatsoever, and only serves to confirm that this online community was used by wholly bad actors to exploit people’s ignorance and vulnerability in the worst possible way. Kinda crazy that this social media platform had a hand in politics the way it has.

I’m completely frustrated by Facebook and its approach to privacy, accountability, and commerce. It no longer delivers what I came to that community to find. I’m sitting here wondering how now to streamline the news I want to hear about the people and organizations I’m interested in and nothing more. I suppose I’ll remain a user for a little while longer, but I am long past the point of wanting to share funny little snippets of my life or lobbing out prayer requests those rare times I did over the last almost decade. I feel like taking down my pictures, that’s for sure.

That place has SUCKED the good humor out of me, and I feel like it has spilled over into my writing. Zuckerberg can apologize and make amends all he wants, but the damage is pretty much done, isn’t it? It took even him a week to figure out what the hell happened right under their noses. What started out as a fun, college community app was left relatively unchecked with some real-life, world-wide consequences that the bad guys figured out how to exploit first.

Time to get my kicks and giggles from something else. I don’t really want to be part of that experiment, ya know?

Yep, a dull sense of real grief is washing over me, like it has for so many other events of the last few years, yet I can’t cry. I’m at an inflection point for sure, but I’m just numb to it all. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, Vegas, and Pulse shootings. The massively disruptive weather events that are the new normal. The killer flu. The passing of the guard as so many boomers retire and die. The American self-mutilation at the hands of Trump….endless administrative chaos and resignations and increasingly serious talk of Russian meddling in our election with no recourse whatsoever. The war-talk with North Korea. The sad realization that so many of my fellow Americans cannot understand the chess game that is our economy and society. And now the loss of Facebook as a fun online community and past time. It became painfully obvious and real this week.

What’s an online geek to do?

PS – All that said, I’m pretty sure Facebook and I are like those Brokeback Mountain lovers when one said to the other: “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Image by William Iven on unsplash.com

 

 

 

Detox Day 5

brooke-lark-194254Oh boy! It’s a brand new year and I am on Day 5 of detox, the social media, personal device, rampant consumerism, terrible news cycle, and sugar kind. I can’t believe it’s Day 5 and I’m doing alright!

Let me back up. As I sat and thought about all I wanted to do last year and how I fell short, I decided some changes were needed. I have had a good, long time to think about these changes and was ready. Now, now…you may be thinking I did a lot last year, and while that is true, I know there are more valuable ways I could be living my life. Besides, while I want to live another 50 years with a good quality life to boot, none of us have that guarantee.

What’s that quote my friend Johanna has at the end of each of her emails? I believe it’s from Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

I have been known to spend (ahem, you can alternatively read that as “accused of spending”) entirely too much time online, combing through the same disgusting, horrific stories in the news, watching endless silly or heartwarming videos to lift my spirits because don’t we all need to?, and reading updates about the stuff other people were doing, instead of you know….just doing those things myself, whether those things were spending time with family, friends, learning something new, finishing the laundry room makeover, whatever… Now granted, Facebook is where I discovered that I love to write but overall the forum has become way. less. fun. Even the ads! Oh, the ads….endless ads for stuff I don’t need but thought I did. I’d get sucked in, and daydream about how a certain pair of flats were what I really needed to look pulled together. And if I looked pulled together, then SURELY everything else in my life would fall into place. Because that’s how life works. The perfect pair of flats solves everything.

Uh-huh.

Not to mention how I’d go to bed with my iPad on my nightstand, plugged in and ready to go at a moment’s notice. After I spent a couple of hours checking news and posts in the home office, I’d retire to bed to do more of the same until I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I’m pretty sure my eyesight has plummeted as a result, but the worse part? The worst part was pulling a muscle in my back doing this a couple weeks ago and then having to admit to some friends that that was why I was so stiff.

Really, Denise?

Not to mention all the articles that talk about how bad for you are the blue light emissions and electromagnetic radiation from these devices, before and while sleeping…  Last month I started to ramp down my usage by powering down my iPad before I slept. Now? I don’t even keep the iPad or iPhone in the bedroom. I let my biorhythm wake me up or use an old fashioned alarm clock now.  That was the first change I made on January 1. I’ve been coaching the kids about their devices, but they like to fall asleep to music. Gotta find a better alternative or just, ya know, parent like a boss…. (Yes, yes. I know that’s the right answer!)

The second change was trying to wean off Facebook. I alerted a couple of friends that I was doing it, so they didn’t wonder what happened to me since I’m otherwise a prolific user. I still ended up checking it every day. Man, that’s a tough habit to break! There are a couple of health groups and school groups that I should to monitor, so I suppose there is no getting rid of it forever. I posted only once during the week to one of those health groups, and then again this evening playing catch up on the birthdays I missed and feel bad about. Going forward I’m going to try to limit my Facebook activity to weekends, like a Friday night quick check and that’s it. This is no doubt inconsistent with some skincare products that I started to sell, which is most successful using social media as the primary sales platform. I find I am unable to bring myself to do it…which is rather telling about my commitment to that business.

Detox applies to the news too. Good Lord, it’s endless bad news. I am just sick over it (see Wake Me Up From This American Nightmare). There is only so much you can take in…so I’m trying to limit that too. It really isn’t serving me well. Besides, you’d have to be stranded on a boat in the middle of the ocean not to know what’s going on these days.

The next big detox is that I’m trying my darnedest to not buy any clothes, shoes, or accessories for myself for at least a couple of months. I’m shooting for spring but hope I can go way longer. Honestly there is not one stitch of clothing I need. Not one. I don’t care how good of a deal it is, I don’t care if I’ve been searching for it forever: no. I have plenty of clothing I like that fits. Besides, I just purged half of my closet. I don’t need another gosh darn thing. Let me wear it out or let it fall off my body and then I’ll rethink the strategy.

Which leads to the next big thing: I adopted a ketogenic way of eating on January 1, which basically means cutting WAY back on the simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, pizza dough, cookies, soda, etc., in favor of more protein and way more good fat. I’ve lived in this body long enough to know my liver needs a detox from the non-stop insulin it’s been producing for years now. I know I will feel loads better and frankly, I could lose 80-85 pounds at this point.

So yes, I’m waiting until my clothes literally fall off my body before I buy new.

So far so good. It hasn’t been as hard as I think. Each time I see leftover holiday candy, I think of what someone said to me, “Choose me, choose health.” However I’m kind of a Coke-aholic but I stopped drinking it once before and couldn’t believe the difference in how I felt. My legs stopped aching which was a big deal. I haven’t been insanely hungry this week but I do need some variety in what I eat, and that will come over time as I learn a different menu than what I’ve been used to.

But this week? Eggs and bacon for breakfast, water with lemon or tea with no sweetener at this point (don’t feel I need it anymore), salads for lunch except for the day I got a ham/swiss/guacamole sandwich and then promptly tossed the bun. Almonds to snack for now. Meats, veggies, and seafood chowder without potato and flour to thicken it for dinner.

I’m eager to see what this does for me. From what I see of the online groups that follow this way of eating (woe), the results are dramatic. Significant weight loss, eye-opening improvement in lab work, reduction or outright elimination of medication, powerful gains in self-confidence, huge improvement in skin tone and overall appearance, major increases in energy levels and cognitive function, much-needed healing in the body, and a sustainable and delicious woe that kicks the sugar cravings.

Luckily for me, I don’t have all of those issues. My labs are slipping but I don’t need medication other than some vitamin supplements to manage anything. Thank goodness for that! Sure, I could relieve some of the aches and pains and I would welcome anything that boosts my mood, energy level, and brain function. Not to mention how nice it would be – yes! – to be thinner, to do yoga again without my belly getting in the way.

The American diet is awful, and it seems to me that the carb/sugar-heavy diet of Eastern Europeans that I grew up eating definitely does me no favors. So stay tuned. Trust me, I’ll be leaping for joy if I drop even 20 pounds off this frame, let alone 80. That will take me all year, but I’m detoxing. This is it. This is the year! I’m an older mom to younger kids. I’ll be 60 years old when my youngest graduates high school. I intend to be the rocking hot mom at his high school graduation ceremony, and I want to jitterbug at my youngest grandchild’s wedding in 2067. That’s right. You heard me.

Five days isn’t much of a milestone, but here’s what has happened since the first of the year: I’ve written this post, finished a book I started in November, slept like a baby for the last three nights and remembered my dreams in detail, totally rocked two meetings at work, planned a birthday party, haven’t purchased anything but gasoline and lunch, cut my social media habit to a 10th of the time I used to spend, and maintained this new way of eating.

If you ask me, I just put five notches in the win column for all of it. Yeah, baby. Bring it!

 

Image by Brook Lark, courtesy of Unsplash.com

 

 

#6: Write for Real

Part of a series of ten segments, checking the progress of my 2017 New Year Resolutions.

I joined Facebook back in August 2008. Talk about a face-palm first post, so telling of great things to come! haha I was the mother of a new baby, and these were the days when Facebook seeded the start of your post with “I am…” and you fill in the blank which for me was, “still trying to get caught up on sleep.” Where’s Captain Obvious when you need him? Oh, such insight and wisdom! Duh.

As Facebook evolved, my friends list grew, and I found my footing on what to post, I ended up posting a lot and I got a whole lot better than that first anti-climatic entry. I posted about every day kind of stuff, kid stuff, parent stuff, working woman stuff, and lately politics (don’t hate me)… Short posts and some long ones, too, and I found that I loved it.

Writing was a creative outlet I desperately needed while I held down a demanding, highly logical and analytical job. I craved connection with family and the friends I met from all around the country during my relocations and frequent travels. For as much heat as the social network gets, Facebook was a critical lifeline for me at a time when I was stuck for years at home caring for our young kids without family nearby or any good friends to rely on as a support network. I mean, there is only so much money and time you can use for a babysitter before you are a neglectful parent, and I had waited too long to have kids to make that foolish mistake.

Now over these same years, a family member of mine frequently dismissed any discussion I started about Facebook as a total waste of time, despite how much I personally enjoyed connecting and communicating on it. These comments were hurtful, because it felt like they were deliberately dismissing me and what brings me joy. I don’t bring it up anymore. I don’t bring up my writing or really much of anything that is going on with me, because this particular audience turns a deaf ear.

It’s been almost a decade now. That dismissal still stings, and that family member and I have grown increasingly distant. But as an artist, you need to ignore what your critics say and push through, creating from the heart. Artists deal with this rejection quite a bit from their own families. Thank God my husband is supportive. He’s an artist too, a musician, and he tells me, “You don’t choose your art: it chooses you.”

What surprised me was what happened with my writing on Facebook. It was the number of people who stopped and told me in person how much they liked what I wrote, people who I never realized even read my stuff. Is this what my husband means about my art choosing me? I am genuinely flabbergasted every time it happens but it happens too often to be pure coincidence.

I also noticed I got a lot of positive reaction online whenever I wrote something long…and always when I thought maybe I shared a little too much or got a little too jan-kahanek-184676verbose. Every single time, those are the posts that seem to resonate with people the most. Go figure. I’m a slow learner and a late bloomer but I’m catching on!

I wasn’t always a writer. My favorite aunt, Nancy, gave me a diary when I was 9 years old, a tiny little 4″ x 6″ version with a light blue cover, a page for every day of the year, each page trimmed in gold, and the whole thing protected by a little lock. I wrote in it every day. Some days there was more story to tell so I’d continue on scrap paper and tuck the folded postscript in between the pages.

9-year-old me thought a diary was a brilliant idea because I knew my memory and recall of specific details wasn’t very strong. I’d look back at what happened over the prior week and be stunned to discover how much of it rolled off my back or disappeared from memory altogether. I have the entry for the day Aunt Nancy died when I was 10. I have journals all the way through public school and college, and a few years after that while I was still single and traveling for work. I no longer wrote daily entries but I wrote whenever I needed to sort things out, which meant I wrote a lot.

Oh, it’s painful to read those diaries now! Yes, I still have all of them. What a jumbled collection of thoughts. I had zero ability to express myself. My ability was so poor, I never considered writing as a career. What surprised me in retrospect is how my penmanship, introspection, and expression improved over nearly two decades. And if I told you that my honors accounting professor had the single biggest influence over my ability to write, you wouldn’t believe me. I’ll tell his story one day too, I promise. Dr. Thomas J Burns of Ohio State was a doozy of a man.

As a teen I was an avid pen pal with several friends I met at church camp and all-Ohio school activities. These letters switched to email at some point but life kinda got in the way and eventually I fell away from sending long emails.

So Facebook was the first time I had written any personal commentary of any length in years, and it was out there for my “friends” to see. What should I post about? What’s in my heart, or what would resonate in “conversation” with friends, or should any given post be a little of both?

I never ever once thought of myself as a writer. Not once in all these years of journaling, then pen-pal writing, then Facebooking. I just felt compelled to write. I just had to do it.

It got to where a couple of friends urged me to write a book or at least start a blog, which I tried a few years ago. “Denise’s Daily Delights and Dilemmas” was up and running for a few months but I got scared. I became afraid that I would be judged for telling my truth, and it became pretty apparent that I wasn’t quite ready to share my art with anyone.

Then I developed writer’s block: all this pent-up stuff to say but I had no idea what to write about. I wasn’t sure what perspective I was writing from: professional working woman, older mom to young kids, traveler, mentor, friend, artist…what? So I shut down the blog and abandoned the effort for a few years.

I quietly started a second one called “Teeny Tiny Thinker Thoughts” but posted once and never touched it again. Never told anyone about it either.

All the while I kept posting on Facebook and this time, the comments were more frequent and bold, and sometimes sent via private message, imploring me to write more. Write formally. Write anything.

“When you gonna write that book?”

“You have a knack for words. I love what you have to say, your little insights…”

“I want a signed copy of that book you’re gonna write,” and

“You need to write about this in your first book.”

And so the inner doubt wore off after many years. I knew I had turned a corner when I ran into my old boss at a conference two years ago and we caught up over dinner. He’s a traditional CPA type, the managing director for the local office of a global audit and consulting firm. I hadn’t seen him but a handful of times since I left the firm and it was delightful catching up. He asked what I had been doing with myself and I blurted it out as naturally as anything I had ever said: “I write.” He did the classic double-take and I realized what I had just admitted out loud for the first time.

The final straw was this summer talking to my cousin Steve who pulled me aside at an all-too-soon funeral for another cousin. Oh Lord, I’m probably hosing the quote big time but I’m pretty sure he asked me, “Cousin, for the love of God, when are you gonna start writing for real?”

Steve didn’t know I had “writing more” on my 2017 resolutions and that I was penning some essays on the side, starting what may be a book one day. But it was his words that pushed me to launch this blog a few weeks ago on the last day of September, the month I turned 50.

I am writing “for real”, whatever comes in my heart… and I’m not going to question whether it’s worthy or too wordy or too nerdy, or whether I have an audience for it. Of course, I want to hone my craft. I want my tone to be hopeful and positive, like I try to live my life, and like my husband and I try to guide our kids and how we purposefully choose the people around us.

I feel like a Flying Wallenda navigating the inner critic tightrope, carefully balancing informative and constructive thoughts that push my art forward all the while doubts and insults hit me like a wind shear from any given direction, not to mention the very real outer critics who exist.

The difference this time? There is no net and no end in sight. I love it and I’m doing it, for real.

 

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash