My Moment of Surrender

“I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of the dark star
My body’s now a begging bowl
That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my unconsciousness
To the rhythm that yearns
To be released from control

I was punching in the numbers at the ATM machine
I could see in the reflection
A face staring back at me
At the moment of surrender
Of vision over visibility
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me”

“Moment of Surrender” lyrics by U2

Being a novice is so out of my comfort zone…am I alone that I expect myself to be an expert at whatever I try to learn, and to skip right over the discomfort of sucking at something? This is why I will never take up golf. Well… there may be 800 other things I would choose to do before playing golf for 4 hours…but I digress.

I REALLY like to be comfortable. As I write, I am wearing my new “Women’s Fuzzy Popcorn Cardigan Batwing Sleeve Open Front Chunky Sweater”, sipping hot coffee made from my Costa Rican chorreador,  am listening to George Winston on the Google Home network that Jerry has set up in every room our house (he even installed new thermostats so we can ask Google FROM OUR BED to change the temperature), with a special blend of DoTerra lavender, peppermint and lemon essential oils in my diffuser, viewing my work on my relatively new 33 inch monitor (so big that I no longer need my new BRIGHT RED or Leopard Peeper reading glasses to work!). There will never be a shortage of crocheted blankets while I am around.

I drink in comfort through each of my senses like it is hot cocoa with whipped cream and tiny slivers of chocolate that melt in my mouth on a cold fall morning…It is warm, delicious, soul nourishing and where I love to be most of the time.

I have spent the better part of the pandemic making my home as comfortable as possible, realizing recently how deeply I connect to comfort as a coping mechanism for hard things. One glance at my online shopping orders over the last 18 months will prove this – or just read the previous paragraph!  Some of these were gifts, but for the rest, I did choose each and every purchase with the intention to spark some joy into my life in small and big ways with no regrets.

Comfort is my JAM.

Discomfort – is…well…uncomfortable! Why would anyone in their right minds choose to be uncomfortable?

Well, let’s start with the obvious. Growth requires discomfort – physically, emotionally, and/or mentally. Making mistakes and having to learn some lessons…uncomfortable (and often painful). Choosing to try again after failing – definitely uncomfortable. Resolving conflict – uncomfortable.

Now let’s go deeper…

If I really want to live my values, it requires discomfort.

I used to find meditation incredibly uncomfortable. Sitting still with my body and thoughts does not come naturally to me – maybe not to anyone else either I suppose…In the past, the best I could do was to tolerate/enjoy a few minutes of breathing exercises and go about my day. But sitting on a pillow and really surrendering to my thoughts for more than 3 minutes at a time – um, hell no!

Surrendering to meditation, to go “in” to my body, mind, and spirit and to really explore what is in there …sometimes hiding in the shadows…may be one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever done, and yet it is something I am really starting to enjoy. It is still not natural to me, and I am using a variety of tools to help.  

There is something about the word “surrender” that really speaks to me. I am no longer fighting the discomfort of listening to my intuition…or actively trying to avoid it. I am surrendering to it – letting it take me into the unknown (which is the ENTIRE plot of Frozen 2. This idea is NOT unique, I am well aware).

While I can (and will) continue make my surroundings comfortable, I am also exploring how to get more comfortable exploring my intuition and surrendering to its rhythm. Stay tuned.

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It’s Time

“So this is what you meant

When you said that you were spent

And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit, right to the top

Don’t hold back…

…This road never looked so lonely

Oh this house doesn’t burn down slowly

To ashes

To ashes

It’s time to begin, isn’t it?”

“It’s Time” – Imagine Dragons

It’s time for us to mourn the great void that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left, and that John Lewis left earlier this year. We have lost 2 giant champions for equality, and it hurts so deeply.

We are scared. We are sad. We feel hopeless.

Last weekend, I wrote about how angry and tired I was – and that was BEFORE the horrible news about RBG’s passing. The news was devastating, and like so many others I was immediately filled with fear and dread of what may come to pass.

One of my big “ah-ha’s” after my last post came from watching Fred Guttenberg discussing his new book “Find the Helpers…What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope.” Guttenberg lost his brother to cancer incurred from 9/11 and months later lost his 14-year old daughter Jaime in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I pre-ordered the book after listening to him talk about how he is working through his horrific losses through the kindness and compassion he has received from others as he has worked for change in our gun laws – and as he has become an advocate for Joe Biden. (Video here if you would like to watch:

His interview reminded me that I fortunate to have a community of helpers around me. Since publishing my last post, I have been reassured many times over that I am not alone. Let me reassure all of you – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

It is time for us to let John Lewis and RBG rest, and it is time for us to march on in their honor. We have no other choice. It is NOT TIME to give up hope. It is NOT TIME to be quiet. It is NOT TIME to give in to what may feel inevitable.

It is time to find your helpers.

It is time to link arms with each other – to help each other push forward. It is time to pick each other up, to carry those who feel weak, to encourage each other to get back up, and to KEEP ON MOVING. I have been encouraged, empowered, uplifted and seen by so many since my last post. I have even met some new friends – something that is not easy to do during a pandemic! I have been inspired and energized by my community of “helpers.” While I grieve the loss of my real life Wonder Woman, I gather strength when I visualize all of us with linked arms, working to save each other. I have seen several videos of people forming human chains to save a person or animal from drowning. Think of your helpers as this giant human chain that is here to prevent you from drowning in sorrow and hopelessness. Imagine the strength that flows through that chain to lift you up and to help you get up again.

I don’t know if this is “rock bottom.” I don’t know if this is the proverbial marathon “wall.” The way this year is going – I seriously doubt it. I am not the only one who keeps thinking that surely this is the turning point, and yet each and every day I am proven wrong.

I know it is daunting. I know it exhausting. Practice self-care, and find your helpers! We are here, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am one of your helpers – and I thank you for being one of mine. WE ARE NOT ALONE. We cannot give up, and we cannot give in.

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful. Be optimistic.”

John Lewis

RBG didn’t just fight for women’s rights. She fought for all of us…for access to healthcare, for dreamers to stay in the only country they know as home, for LBGQT rights, for voting rights for all Americans. Let’s remember how all of us intersect as humans, and how all of these issues tie us together in some way. Imagine the strength in our numbers! Let’s leave no one behind, and remember the power we can wield when we act in solidarity.

Take a deep breath. If you are feeling weak and hopeless – think about who is out there to help you, and reach out for support. Close your eyes and imagine what is possible on the other side of this mess. Dig deep, pull up your big kid pants or your empowering socks, and keep going.

Dissent from surrendering. Dissent from hopelessness. John Lewis and RBG have left us with the tools we need, and have passed the baton to us. It is time.

I’m So Tired

I am so tired of feeling angry all the time, and I am so angry about feeling tired all the time. Can anyone else relate? I have a feeling I am not alone in this.

I am not living my best life, and I am not being my best self. I have reset my expectations. I constantly practice self-care. I have both meditated and medicated. I have gotten acupuncture regularly. I have never worked this hard just to feel ok…

Despite all my efforts in self-care, I have never felt this emotionally spent and physically exhausted in my life. I have read all sorts of articles that describe this fatigue – so I know this is very real, and that there are valid reasons for it. It is just a matter of time until someone comes up with a clever phrase for the special kind of fatigue that we are experiencing in 2020. It is way more than “pandemic fatigue.” The combination of the pandemic, a divisive election, and racial unrest is just overwhelming at times. The wear and tear on my psyche, on my mental and emotional well being is palpable.

I know almost immediately when I am out of balance. I am edgy, am easily irritated and quick to snap (at Jerry since he is the one with me 24/7), and do not sleep well.  Lately, I have become quick to anger – and I often feel rage. My rage is usually caused by our current administration, and sometimes caused by the people who support it. Sometimes – it is caused by people I know. Sometimes – those people are family or friends.

I could try to turn it “off” and survive (I think of this as similar to “turning off my humanity” for any Vampire Diaries fans).  My ability to turn it off would be a manifestation of my privilege, and I no longer want to act from my privilege. I want things to be different – I want a different president, I want racial justice, I want to preserve our earth for future generations, and I want strong leadership, and a cooperative society to help us survive the COVID 19 pandemic. This is a lot. I am not going to give up hope, but the struggle in fighting for these things is very real.

Almost every single day, at any given moment, I feel more frustration, anger and rage – and underneath it, is fear and sadness. I am truly scared that things will continue to get worse before they get better. I truly feel that the election is going to culminate in a constitutional crisis, and that the traditional peaceful transition of power is not likely to be peaceful. In my lifetime, the stakes have never been this high…so to turn off my “caring” is just not a possibility for me. However, acting from my fear and rage is not working for me, nor is it helping to achieve anything that I support.

I care very deeply about our country – I care for our military and their families, I care for the our civil servants including our police and firefighters, for our healthcare workers, for our teachers, for people with disabilities, for dreamers, for BIPOC, for LBGTQ – ALL at the same time.

For example, it is possible – and in my opinion “right” – to support the police while at the same time supporting police reform. I support Black Lives Matters, while at the same time denouncing rioting and also denouncing the brutal use of force against unarmed people of color. The perception that this is an either/or has only divided us. When did we forget that many things can be true at the same time?? When did we start to accept “alternative facts” instead of reckoning with the truths of what is happening in our world? When did we forget that the answers are usually between the extremes, and that we can get to some answers through respectful discussion?

The rhetoric I see around this on a daily basis only feeds my frustration, anger and resentment. It is soooo tempting to lash out – to let the anger and fear control me. It is so easy to forward a tweet, meme, video, article or whatever that only add to the noise. I know because I have done it – many times.

Anger is like a drug. It makes me feel powerful – and can give me some fuel in the tank – but when I act from anger, I am left more depleted, more empty, and end up not only damaging relationships, but also failing to gain any kind of possible momentum for the causes I support. It is a false power as a friend pointed out to me…making us feel that we have control when we do not. It is not sustainable. And while I know this, it is still incredibly hard for me to channel it in a healthy way. And from what I see around me every moment of every day, we are ALL struggling with this.

 Remember this powerful quote by Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I am trying to do this!!! And I definitely do not always get it right. Finding the middle ground is part of the answer. Acting from love instead of fear or anger is a HUGE part of the answer. I have learned that love is a renewable energy – and am trying to remember that in those moments of anger and rage.

More love.
I made this meme out a picture I took of a heart-shaped heirloom tomato. There are signs everywhere!

My anger has been spilling over a little too easily lately, but I have recognized it and am working through it. I even decided to try medication again because I recognize that I could use some help especially over the next few months with my fear and anxiety heightened more than usual.

Maintaining healthy boundaries is also a major part of the answer. Yes, I will try to be kind. Yes, I will try to be more “human.”  Yes, I will try to act from love instead of fear and anger.

But – to quote Glennon Doyle from Untamed,

“I will not stay, not ever again – in a room or conversation or institution that requires me to abandon myself.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

This means I will not be quiet just to make other people comfortable. I am not about to practice toxic positivity and ignore what is happening around me, nor will I silence myself to preserve someone else’s feelings.

However, I will work hard to find the right balance in all of this – and I will continue to fight for the things that I care about – and I will continue to try to do this in a way that will encourage others to follow.

All That You Have is Your Soul

Sometimes songs come to me at the exact right time. I think this is one of the ways God speaks to me – and I consider that to be “grace.” This gorgeous song by Tracy Chapman just came on my Pandora station as I sit and reflect about the state of our world – and my place in it.

Don’t be tempted by the shiny apple

Don’t you eat of a bitter fruit

Hunger only for a taste of justice

Hunger only for a world of truth

‘Cause all that you have is your soul

Here I am waiting for a better day

A second chance

A little luck to come my way

A hope to dream a hope that I can sleep again

And wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands

‘Cause all that you have is your soul

-Tracy Chapman

I am contemplating a question my friend Maryanne posed to me a few weeks ago when she asked me “what do I stand for” and whether my answer is guiding me during these challenging times. I quickly answered her – that I stand for truth, justice, and love. I admitted to Maryanne that – yes – as corny as this is – these are Wonder Woman’s virtues. This is the reason I am a Wonder Woman aficionado.

My partner Jerry and my sister Jacquie both spend a small fortune on Wonder Woman gifts for me – and I am sure one of them has already bought me this t-shirt: and/or Alex Ani bracelet (hint, hint Jerry & Jacquie!)

While corny – truth, justice and love have truly become my guiding principles. That part of the equation is not the hard part for me.  I can easily discern my principles by paying close attention to what triggers me – and lately I am triggered almost daily (hourly!) by lies, chaos, injustices, and fear mongering that seem so prevalent in our society in 2020. The challenge for me is to detach from the things I cannot control – to not assign too much meaning to the outcome of my fight for truth, justice, and love.  If I cannot figure out how to let it go, I am left hopeless, frustrated, despondent, angry…yet another victim or perpetrator of the vitriol we all see in social media. My friend Matt recently reminded me of the pertinent words of Viktor Frankl, that “a human being is a deciding being” – that we each have our choices about our mindsets of how we view the world and how we attach meaning to what happens to us.

When I heard Tracy Chapman so beautifully sing these lyrics, I found a connection to Viktor Frankl’s search for meaning. So, I try each day to do what I can to live my values and work to detach from outcomes, so that I can go to sleep at night with some amount of peacefulness and hope amidst the chaos of 2020. Detachment from outcomes is NOT EASY for me, especially in this year. Believe me – I have a lot of strong reactions to what I see on social media – and say a lot to myself – or to Jerry – to process my thoughts and emotions before I decide to post or comment. There are usually more than a few curse words included in my reactions – but I try hard to filter out the anger – to not lash back out and create even more noise. I do not always get it right – but staying silent is no longer an option for me. “Staying out of it” or “choosing to not get political” is no longer consistent with my values.

I have both consciously and subconsciously surrounded myself with reminders of my values all around me. Yes – this has led to a minor obsession with Wonder Woman. These are on the wall in front of my desk where I see them all day, every day. The image on the left reminds me to fight for what is right. The image on the right (a gift from my sister Jacquie) reminds me to detach from the outcomes of that fight. EVERY DAY I look at these to try to remember to do both.

I also have this little menagerie of bobble heads and action figures that sit next to me on my bookshelf – which I see all day every day now that I exclusively work from home. Each of these special figures represents at least one value that is deeply important to me.

My version of “Super Friends”

Albert Einstein: Genius Scientist. Albert Einstein represents my value of TRUTH because science helps determine what is TRUE. It is because of science (and my discernment of the variety of sources that I curate) that I believe in climate change, that COVID-19 is not a hoax, that wearing a mask reduces the risks of its spread, and that a vaccine should be tested before being released to the public. There are so many great Einstein quotes, but this one speaks to me today:

“The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.

Albert Einstein (Amen, sir!)

Yoda: Jedi Master. Yoda represents the value of JUSTICE because fighting evil is simply the right thing to do. One of the reasons I love the Star Wars movies so much is how well they tell the classic story of good versus evil, light versus dark.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Yoda, Episode One, The Phantom Menace

This quote is so relevant to me in 2020 when I see our president using fear as a tool to stoke anger, to deepen hatred, and to further divide our country. This is why I think of myself as part of the “Resistance” fighting against this administration’s evil policies like family separation. There are a lot of people who are on the wrong side of history in 2020, and history will be the judge after the political divides of 2020 are long forgotten.

Prince: Genius Musician. Prince represents the values of GRACE and CHOICE. As I said earlier, God speaks to me through music – and Prince’s music is a spiritual experience to me – and this figurine is my reminder to find joy in music and creative expression. I happen to think Prince may have been the single most talented musician of my generation. He was so unique that he used a symbol for a name for a while – and no one really seemed to mind! Nothing about Prince is easy to define or put “in a box.” He paved his own way with glorious talent and creativity. My favorite Prince lyric of all time can be applied almost daily these days watching the President – not that I want to kiss him. I do not.

“Act your age, not your shoe size.”

Prince, lyrics from “Kiss”

Pope Francis: Spiritual Leader. Pope Francis represents my values of GRACE, LOVE, JUSTICE and SERVICE. This bobble head is my go-to “Sacrament” gift for my nieces and nephews. Pope Francis has restored some of my faith in the Catholic church as an institution. As a divorced feminist who believes in marriage equality, and who believes that women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies – I have often felt lost in the church. Pope Francis has done a great deal of work in reconciling the truth of the abuse that the Church actively sought to hide for so many, many years. I am still uncertain of where I fit into the Catholic Church – but Pope Francis has helped me to feel more welcome than I have in a long time. This is one of my favorite quotes of his – that shows that Pope Francis believes like I do that actions speak louder than words.

“It is not enough to say we are Christians. We must live the faith, not only with our words, but with our actions.”  

Pope Francis

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Notorious Justice. RBG represents my values of EQUALITY, JUSTICE, and CHOICE. Thanks to her work as an attorney in the early 70’s, the Supreme Court made it illegal for people to discriminate on the basis of sex. She became a Supreme Court Justice in 1993, and she is still actively serving at the age of 87. Coming full circle this year in 2020, she voted with 5 other justices to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and/or transgender status. She has helped to uphold women’s rights over her entire career. She is truly my real-life Wonder Woman. I have several pairs of special RBG socks that I wear on days that I feel the need to channel some extra inner strength.  I often drink my coffee out of a few special mugs that Jerry has given me that help me start my day off on the “right foot” along with my special socks:

Starting my day on the right foot with RBG

Wonder Woman: Superhero. As already stated, Wonder Woman represents my triumvirate of values: TRUTH, JUSTICE and LOVE. Wonder Woman stands for justice as she fights for those who cannot fight for themselves. In my life, I seek justice by advocating for my stepson Eric and other children with profound disabilities. This has become my passion and fuels my life’s purpose. To me, justice also means standing with #blacklivesmatters – and it means I am willing to say that all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.

Wonder Woman is not afraid of the truth – even with the truth is HARD.  What I would do for a magical lasso of truth to force people like our President to tell only truths… I value the truth, and I want to try to embrace it even when it is not easy. This means that I am willing to have hard conversations – not debates – not arguments – but real conversations with people that grapple with systemic racism. It means exploring my own racial biases – to dig a lot deeper than I have been willing to do in the past.

Wonder Woman acts from love, not fear. She knows, like I know, that no one person can save the world. She seems to struggle with the same thing that I struggle with – that pesky detachment from outcomes…the virtue of being able to let go of what we cannot control…But/and – she, like me, is not going to stop fighting for what is right. I hope and I pray that somehow my actions will make a difference to someone else, and that creates some kind of a ripple effect of positive change that shines a light in the darkness…that lights the path for the right choices…that demonstrates that good perseveres over evil…that shows that the truth wins over lies…that proves that love wins over fear. That justice will prevail for all.

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their mind and learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight and I give for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.”

Diana Prince, “Wonder Woman” movie

I sleep better on the days when I know I have fought the good fight for truth, love and justice…because all that I have is my soul…and some pretty cool bobbleheads and action figures to help light my way.

And on the days that I struggle…I have some special glasses and coozies to help!

(Just like) Starting Over

Reset (verb): to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way.

Well thanks, 2020 – I guess you had to knock all of us over the head to tell us it was time to reset. I have been looking at my 2020 Vision Board that I so hopefully and energetically assembled back in January. This year I actually framed it and hung it in my office right next to my chair…and since I have been cooped up in my home office, I had started to view it with resentment…the trips I didn’t take, the concerts I didn’t attend…the best self I was trying to become…

Last weekend, I decided to start over. To reset. To adjust my view – my expectations – my goals for the remainder of 2020 because I don’t want to keep feeling like a pinball – a victim to the chaos that 2020 has thrown upon me. Let me be clear – I am not trying to live my best “COVID 19” life by completing projects, learning how to bake, training for a virtual marathon or ANYTHING close to any of those things. I baked some cinnamon bread once. That was enough. I am just trying to survive without succumbing to the stress and edginess I carry with me every day wondering when we will get to a new normal.

If only there was an actual reset button.

I am working on resetting my expectations – which these days means simple things like finding something to laugh about each day. Like about an hour ago when Jerry and I laughed about my absolute FREAKOUT after getting mayonnaise all over myself while cleaning the dishes…Anyone that knows me well knows I hate mayonnaise with a passion. A deep passion that goes back to my childhood “wounds” when we took 10+ hour car rides several times a year, and you couldn’t “have it your way” at fast food chains, so I was told to scrape the mayo off rather than waiting for a custom order… (do I still carry resentment about this – umm, clearly yes)…and yet somehow I fell in love with someone who dips EVERYTHING in mayonnaise. So he cooks, and I get to clean up the GOBS of leftover mayo on the plates. Oh the sacrifices we make for love…Tonight – the mayo went everywhere! Jerry came running thinking I cut off a finger – but alas, just a mayo explosion in the sink and all over me. It took a few minutes, but I was able to get from freak out to laughter – which pretty much sums up how I am navigating 2020.

Jerry and Eric help me to find these moments of joy and laughter every day. When I stop to see the world through Eric’s eyes, I am able to live in the present moment and to stop taking myself so seriously. Today one of those moments was stopping in the driveway to snap a picture of Eric in his new kicks (these are made by Billy Footwear and remind me of my red chucks from high school) and his new Baby Yoda shirt.

The force is strong with this one especially bc of these awesome kicks.

Yesterday it was playing with a $2 bubble machine that has Cherry Jelly Belly smelling bubbles.

Best $2 we ever spent!

Last week it was dancing in the kitchen to “The Bird” with our cockatiel, Prince (please ignore my messy kitchen and see above about letting go of expectations…). Have you ever danced to “The Bird” in your kitchen? I HIGHLY recommend it. Come on…you can do it! Even if you are all alone – I have, and I promise it will put you in a good mood. Just ask my brother in law John! “You don’t need no finesse or no personality…You just need two arms and an attitude!” I swear I want this to go viral – so if you do it – add #ericsepicjourney and #thebird so we can see the joy spreading!

Have you heard of a brand new dance called “the Bird?”

Tomorrow – we will find something new, silly, and fun, I assure you.

Let’s be honest – I have a lot more on my plate than a mayo explosion…but I am no longer going to be let 2020 win. I am changing the game – or maybe just refusing to play a game I cannot win. I am letting go of what I thought I wanted this year – and I am resetting.

Last weekend, I decided to completely redo my Vision Board – which is an even bigger version than the original from January. It really helped me to get clarity on what matters to me. I just do not have the emotional, physical or mental strength to do more than exactly what I want to do. I do not have any extra to spare for meaningless BS. I want to be brave enough to still look forward to the rest of the year, and I want to stop feeling helpless.

My “updated” 2020 Vision Board

This Vision Board IS my reset button.


Today I am feeling inspired because it is International Women’s Day, and I happen to have some amazing women in my life. I am full of gratitude – I have managed to surround myself with strong, kind, women of depth. I believe in the laws of attraction and know this is no accident. I am inspired by each and every one of them to help me achieve my vision of the person I strive to be.

Today I am feeling inspired – and it is an incredibly powerful emotion – oh if only I could bottle and take it back out on a tough day!! Well – that is why I am writing. I know there will be a day in the not so faraway future that I am going to forget this feeling…I will be stressed, anxious, and full of doubt…and I hope that I remember to pull out this blog post to remind me of how I am feeling in this exact moment. This is an attempt to build muscle memory – so that my body, my brain AND my heart remember all at the same time what it feels like to be in alignment as I feel in this moment.

I create a vision board every year, and here is a picture of my 2018 Vision Board:

My 2018 Vision Board

This year, my approach was a little different. Rather than setting goals, I focused on what I stand for – how I want to show up – how I want to be seen, and how I strive to embody my values in my actions. My Vision board is both about “being” and “doing” if that makes any sense. It’s about alignment of my head, heart and body to my values.

This year in particular has promised such a shift in gender equality – more than any other period of my 46 years on this earth. I am so encouraged by #metoo and #timesup, and I am actually starting to see some differences in a lot of places including my own workplace. There is still so much work to do – but for the first time I am seeing momentum and alignment where before there was fear and silence. I am working towards speaking up more, and to stand up for what I believe.

Today, I am inspired by my niece Jana (this is her holding a sign at the Women’s March in January).

My niece Jana and her friends at the Women’s March in Charlotte on Jan 20th, 2018

Jana and her friends are going to be voters in the very near future – and this truly fills me with so much hope. Jana has always been kind – she has a beautiful heart, and is not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for someone or something that she believes in. Jana and friends



Today I am feeling inspired by the work I do for Pattison’s Academy. Last weekend we completed the big fundraiser I wrote about on my last blog, and not only did our family meet and exceed our $4,000 goal, we also met and exceeded the overall goal for the organization. As the fundraising chairwoman and co-leader of the event, I am not sure I have ever felt this kind of pressure before! We worked our TAILS off. There were plenty of moments of stress and doubt – but the leadership, staff, families, volunteers and fundraisers worked as one. I happen to believe that when we work as one, we can change the world – and we proved that last weekend by raising more than $105,000 for Eric and his school/camp mates.

Eric riding the “Moto-Med” bike at the Keeping the PACE ride-a-thon


Here is a wonderful video of Eric’s shout out at the Keeping the PACE ride-a-Thon:

It is so rewarding to me to feel like I am making a difference for Eric and the children that Pattison’s Academy serves. I strive to support and motivate the amazing staff that works with Eric his school/camp mates knowing how hard their jobs are. I work hard to educate our community about our kids – because integrating this population of children into our society is better for EVERYONE! It fills my heart with joy and gratitude that our event was successful, and I am filled with hope for the future as a result. The possibilities are endless!

Today I am inspired by our female Olympians. In 2018, there were 109 females on the US team – compared to only 2 in 1924. Our female athletes kicked butt in PyeongChang!! They won more than half of our country’s medals (even though they were less than half of the US delegation) – and with a lot of flair I might add. Chloe Kim knew she had won the gold before her last run on the snowboard pipe – and blew past her previous score like a boss! The U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team defied the odds by beating Canada for the gold – which by the way has only been an event since 1998 in Nagano. Did you know that they have medaled in EVERY Olympics since?

I am also inspired by the gymnastics athletes that have come forward to share their stories by facing their oppressor, Larry Nassar. I watched every minute of Aly Raisman’s statement during Nasser’s sentencing, and was moved to tears watching and listening. Check out her beautiful photo shoot with Sport Illustrated where she announced the launch of her “Flip the Switch” campaign to end abuse in youth sports:. Even the SI Swimsuit Edition is evolving!

Finally, I am inspired by all my female family and close friends…these “Superwomen” who give their best every day to be the best versions of themselves as they can be.

Everywhere I’m turning
Nothing seems complete
I stand up and I’m searching
For the better part of me
I hang my head from sorrow so much
State of humanity
I wear it on my shoulders
Gotta find the strength in me
Why is that?

‘Cause I am a superwoman
Yes I am Yes she is
Still when I’m a mess I still put on a vest
With an “S” on my chest
Oh yes I’m a superwoman

(This is for) for all the mothers fighting
For better days to come
They’re coming
And all my women, all my women sitting here trying so hard
To come home before the sun
And all my sisters coming together
Say yes I will
Yes I can

-Alicia Keys


Give a Little Bit (or a lot!)

For anyone who reads my blog pretty regularly, you already know I write a lot about Eric and how awesome he is. Well, today I am writing about Eric’s school, Pattison’s Academy – and how awesome it is!

Most of you know that Eric came to live with his Dad and I abruptly – and I had no previous experience with caring for a special needs child. As I wrote in my last blog, I welcomed Eric with all my heart – I knew I was all in, but that didn’t mean I knew exactly what I was getting into. I was apprehensive, and at times fearful, of what was ahead considering how little I knew about how to actually take care of Eric.

From the moment Jerry and I stepped into the doors of Pattison’s Academy (this picture was taken on our first visit), we instantly felt a sense of community and love.

Our first day with Eric at Pattison’s Academy.



Eric’s teacher Zach and his assistant Ryan welcomed us with open arms, and we felt a sense of relief immediately and knew we had a lot of support to help us through a tough transition. Zach told us about their big “spin” fundraiser that was taking place a week later – and we jumped right in and helped raise about $1,000 in about a week’s time. At the event, we met a lot of the staff – Eric literally stopped in his tracks to give a beautiful young woman a giant bear hug – which is how I met Coley, who has since become almost an extension of our family.

That first year, Zach, Ryan and Coley taught me how to push Eric to achieve his potential. We knew Eric was not steady on his feet and not physically strong, so we were very careful with him. We set up Eric’s bed without a box spring to make it easy for him to get in and out of bed. Well, imagine my surprise one day when I saw Ryan encourage Eric to lift himself onto a changing table that was more than twice as high as his bed – and he accomplished that with no problem at all! We ordered a box spring that day, and Eric has never had a problem getting in or out of his typical sized bed ever since. I used to carry Eric into the car – until I saw Ryan walk Eric to my car and tell him to climb in all by himself… Carrying Eric into the car ended IMMEDIATELY! From them, I learned the phrase “you do it” – which we use TO THIS DAY to encourage Eric to do more on his own.

Because of Pattison’s Academy, I have learned how to be the best mom I can be.

The Pattison’s staff knows how to safely push Eric to do more, to bring him out into the community more – and are kind, patient beyond measure, and nonjudgmental in their communication with me. I call his teacher Lisa and her assistant Tina my special needs “mom coaches” because of how they have helped me to learn and grow as a mother. This Christmas, I was so nervous to take Eric on my first plane ride together to LA – but I knew Eric could handle it – and I knew we could too. The support I received from the entire teaching, therapy and nursing staff was immeasurable. We have such a special relationship full of trust – it is truly priceless to me!

Pattison’s Academy has made such an impact to my life that I decided to join the board about a year ago. We have a vision for Pattison’s to become the model in our country for educating young students with severe and multiple disabilities in an integrated therapeutic environment. I know this model has worked for Eric and our family – and I want to help Pattison’s to impact more children that would benefit from its programs. As our fundraising chair, I spend most of my spare time helping to raise money for our mission. Once again, I have found myself “all-in” because in my heart I know I am doing the right thing by giving my time, treasure and talent to this organization.

Because the state funding in South Carolina is abysmal for students with multiple disabilities, Pattison’s relies on donations to help fund our programs – which include the charter school, therapy services, early intervention, and an AWESOME and unique summer camp. We also provide bus transportation for our students – which in a county that is over 1300 square miles – is no easy feat.

We would like to be able to grow to serve more children, and to add music & art therapy among other initiatives. All these things require generous donors and patrons to help us to achieve our potential…so that students like Eric can achieve theirs.

I ask you… if you have been moved by my stories about Eric, his accomplishments, and the impact he has had on our lives – please recognize that Pattison’s Academy has been an important factor these last few years.

Please consider supporting Eric and our fundraising team, and make a generous donation to this amazing organization! Our team goal is $4,000 – and we need your help to make it!

Beautiful Boy

This is our beautiful boy Eric during “Snow-ma-geddon” here in Charleston a few weeks ago when we enjoyed a record snowfall.  Even though he didn’t want to touch the snow, he was in awe looking around him, and I was lucky enough to snap this photo – my all time favorite one of him.


“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon

The day I took this picture of Eric a few weeks ago, I randomly came across a journal entry in one of my notebooks from October 2011, and it went straight to my heart. It starts with this line: “I feel it is inevitable that I will adopt a child one day.” I wrote about how I had discovered that the deepest longing I had been carrying during and after my failed marriage was my desire for a family. In that journal entry, I wrote to process my fears as a single person, and remember finding the courage to pursue my dream – and to “put it in the realm of possibility and explore it.” And I did just that – not having an idea that it would lead me one day to Eric.

In 2012, I did pursue adoption – I completed a home study and right before submitting my application to adopt in Russia, Putin shut the door on American adoptions from Russia. I created an adoption profile and pursued private adoption. My friend Diane helped me get “clear.” She asked me…”What is driving you – that you want to be a mom, or that you want to save a life?” And I immediately answered,  “I want to save a life.” So as I entered this journey, I considered all kinds of scenarios including foster care and older children that were in need of a home.

There were ups and downs, and then I met Jerry in March of 2013 after a possible private adoption had just fallen through. At that time, Jerry’s twin daughters Chelsea and Kaitlyn were 19 and lived with him, and Eric was 15 and lived with his mother in Columbia. I immediately bonded with the twins – we have developed wonderful, enriching relationships over the years. It has been my pleasure to have entered their lives during such a dynamic time – to help mentor and love them as they “adulted” over the last five years.

Eric came to live with his Dad (Jerry) and I a few years ago after their mom passed away tragically, and after living with Chelsea and Kaitlyn for some months (you can read more about that in this Post and Courier article). I distinctly remember telling my parents that I was “all in” and that was all they needed to hear from me. We welcomed Eric and life as I knew it changed immediately and forever.

It is not lost on me that I had a choice with Eric. People have said all kinds of things…I don’t know how you do it…are you sure you want to give up xyz…what will you do when Eric gets older…you should look at group homes for Eric to live…

My friend Megan got it immediately. She has a beautiful six year old daughter with Down’s Syndrome and has been a tremendous support to me. She nailed it when she told me: “for most people it would be a choice – but for you there was no other choice you would make.” Nailed it. She gets me – the real essence of me.

I have spent of a LOT of time thinking about my needs, my wants, my values and my fears. I do not want sympathy. I do not want to hear doubts. Those things are not helpful to me – because I am all in. I feel that the people who say these kinds of things don’t really get the real me. Thankfully, I have a great deal of people who do “get me” and see that I am living true to myself. For my oldest childhood friends – my current situation is no surprise to them at all! I was wired for service at a very young age and won citizenship awards in junior high AND high school… Making a difference has been important to me for my entire life.

I know most people mean well. I know that because of my wiring for fixing, controlling and helping that I sometimes take on too much, get out of balance, and over-do it. I continue to work on myself, to recognize the signs of my co-dependency, and practice self-care and making sure my needs are met. Of course I get stressed. Of course I have doubts and fears – I think that is a universal challenge for ANY parent! When that happens, I want support, encouragement and acceptance – not sympathy or doubt and definitely not judgment. I don’t expect people to understand – who could? Not many people have shared the same experiences that I have had!

I want to inspire other people to do hard things in the name of love and for the greater good.

I am not just a step-mom to Chelsea, Kaitlyn and Eric. I will never replace their mom, but I am their “bonus” mom – their “Mamelle” (which is the name I think we may have settled on recently.) Over the last five years, Eric, Chelsea and Kaitlyn have become the children I always knew I wanted to adopt. Technically they are all too old for it to be “legally official” but there is nothing that will break the bond that we share. In my heart it is official, and that is all that matters to me. I have what I always wanted – a family.

Eric brings out the best in me and Jerry.

Having Eric live with us has added a deep dimension to our relationship, and has taught us so much. When people see me with Eric – I want them to feel inspiration rather than sympathy. Look closely because you will see how much love and joy we share as a family. Eric has helped me to be a better person – to become crystal clear on who I am and what I stand for.

Eric makes me feel like I can change the world because I have helped to change his, and because he has helped to change mine.



I Won’t Back Down

Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

No, I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground

And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground

And I won’t back down

-Tom Petty


I write my blog for a few reasons…to help me process how I am feeling, to help me learn my own lessons for my personal growth, and to share my stories in case it helps other people. Sometimes I simply have something to say – something important that I need to share others. Today, I write for all these reasons.

As I sit to write this part of my journey – I want those reading this to know that it is never my intent to hurt anyone else. I am about to write about a painful chapter of my life that I have never shared in detail on my blog before – and I am doing this to help me process some painful memories, and to try to help others who may learn from my experiences.

Over the last few weeks, I have been carrying some emotional heaviness. I have been helping a friend going through a challenging time. In addition, the #metoo hashtag has gone viral over the last few weeks. It is no surprise to me that I am being triggered by my own past as I hear so many stories. On one hand, I have glossed over the heaviness – thinking that nothing “terrible” has happened to me compared to others. But – that nagging heaviness hasn’t gone away and has been really affecting my moods. Last night as I had a great heart to heart with my friend Susan– I finally named it – I was feeling pissed. And as usual for me, underneath that anger was some residual pain from my past.

You see, I was a victim of emotional abuse for many years over the course of my 13-year marriage. I have never written that sentence before. But there it is. I don’t like to use the word victim, and I still have a tough time seeing myself as a victim – but in denying I was a victim is denying a very important chapter in my story. And I believe in the truth and in living an authentic life, so I need to speak my truth.

So yes – something terrible did happen to me – many, many times.

I remember the first warning sign when I was dating John who would later become my husband. We were about 22 years old and on a trip to Newport, RI for their Jazz Fest. I remember the car ride with his sister and her husband – and John got upset with me about something and lashed out at me in front of everyone in the car. I am not sure exactly what he said – but I think it had something to do with my being “spoiled” or “entitled” – this was to become a major theme over our marriage. Because I didn’t want to cause a scene, I stayed quiet until we arrived and I remember storming off to be myself. I remember he eventually found me, accused me of being dramatic and ruining everyone’s time. There was no apology – or even acknowledgement of my feelings at all. I remember pushing my feelings aside for the sake of “peace” – which was the start of a vicious pattern over many more years.

When we were first married, my husband took 100% control over our finances. To his credit, he did manage to save a lot while I had pretty typical spending habits for a 25-year-old. I do believe that it was highly unlikely we would have been able to save money and buy a house had it not been for John’s thriftiness. However, the path to that dream was a painful one. I was expected to place every single receipt into the “in” box where I was then questioned about the contents of those receipts on a weekly basis. Now – to some of you that may not sound unreasonable. We were trying to save for a house – and we did need to live within our means. And I had proven I was irresponsible when I neglected to share that I brought $4,000 of credit card debt with me into our marriage.

But you see – no matter what I tried, I could not convince John to set up a “budget” or in other words an “allowance”. I remember suggesting that he “allow” me to take out $40 cash each week that I could use for groceries, lunch, gifts, clothes…whatever. The point was that I wanted to make my own decisions. I was tired of him knowing what I bought for his birthday and how much I spent before I even had the chance to give it to him. I wanted to be able to go to lunch with a friend without having to justify it to him. I wanted buy a snack and not have to explain why I ate what I did and spent whatever dollars to do so. He thought my suggestion was crazy and unreasonable – it was impossible to come up with any kind of system or compromise. He was in control and that was that. As time went on, I would forget or lose receipts…I would become numb to the weekly arguments, bury my feelings and endure the monthly bank reconciliation. I would eventually get into “crafting” and making/selling jewelry so I could have cash on hand – glad to have a creative outlet that could also help me endure the situation.

What I didn’t realize was that the financial control was merely a stepping stone to the emotional control John would eventually take. He started in on my weight pretty early in our marriage. We were almost the same height – and when we were dating he almost broke up with me because he didn’t like that he didn’t feel bigger than me. So what did I do? I minimized myself as much as possible. I dieted before we got married – and got down to the smallest size I have EVER been and thought all would be ok. All was not ok. What ensued was nothing short of emotional abuse. He tried to control everything I ate on a daily basis. We would go out to dinner, and somehow I would be convinced to order an appetizer instead of an entrée. We would go on car trips, and if I wanted to stop for lunch I was told something was wrong with me because I couldn’t miss a meal. We would go to a ball game – where the only food options were hot dogs/burgers – you know the usual ball park food – and I would be ridiculed for not finding something healthy to eat.

I was called the most insane names you can think of – but the most common one was “Fatso.” And it happened ALL THE TIME. Every single day. Whether he was drunk or sober, he called me horrendous names. I honestly don’t remember ever enjoying a relaxing meal without being questioned why I was eating/drinking “that” and making some comment about my weight.

As a person who values the truth – I developed some terrible patterns to lie about what I ate, how long I worked out, and how much I spent on things, all attempts to regain control of my choices and of my life.

John and I tried to have children. I suffer from endometriosis and had to have several surgeries to remove some painful, large cysts. I went through many tests to determine my fertility – and therefore I was to blame for our situation. John refused to be tested. Instead, he blamed my condition – and at his worst moments, called me “barren” and “childless.” These are the most painful memories of my marriage.

Over our years together, I started to become more and more successful in my sales career, while John started to struggle in his career. He was incredibly smart and talented, and had the unfortunate luck to work for an HR outsourcing company whose major clients were Circuit City and other major companies that eventually went out of business. While I excelled, he suffered – and he saw this as in inverse relationship – meaning the better I did, the worse he felt. I could not share any of my successes without hurting him – so once again, I minimized myself – tried to make myself smaller – not just physically – and buried my feelings. My most painful experience related to this was the night I won “Salesperson of the Year” at our annual awards banquet. I dreaded the evening with every fiber in my being. I specifically asked to NOT be seated with our CEO and the executive team because deep down I knew what was going to happen. My worst dreams were realized when John proceeded to get drunk and mutter LOUDLY during the entire ceremony. “When is this going to be over?” “Look at you – you are so special (laced with sarcasm).” “This sucks – when can we leave”. Everyone at the table heard him. I was humiliated and so consumed with shame. Within seconds of the end of the ceremony, I grabbed him and we headed for the exit – somehow I thought I could escape and pretend that night never happened. It was truly terrible – one of the worst nights of my life. I had never felt so exposed and ashamed by having my work and personal lives collide like this.

I grew to avoid that collision of my personal life with other aspects of my life as much as possible. I alienated myself – more accurately, I allowed John to alienate me from my family and friends. I became so unhappy that I started to wish time away – I would be relieved to fall asleep so I could wake up the next day – having endured another day.

And despite ALL of these things that happened, I stayed. This morning, I watched a Ted Talk by Leslie Morgan Steiner called “Why domestic violence victims don’t leave.” She said she didn’t think of herself as being abused during her tumultuous marriage. You can see her TED Talk here.

She said, “I thought of myself as a very strong woman who was in love with a deeply flawed man.” EXACTLY – I got goosebumps hearing that. I used to say John was misunderstood – that he was like a porcupine, prickly on the outside and squishy on the inside. That people didn’t see the “real” John. Well – I didn’t see the real John. John wasn’t one person on the outside, and another on the inside.  Instead – just like everyone else including me – he is a whole person made up of many layers, many facets, strengths and flaws. I wasn’t healthy enough to see the truth through my denial.

Today my life is dramatically different – in a positive way. I sought help and have worked very hard on my emotional health. I am a truly happy person with so much love in my life. My marriage ended over six years ago, and four and a half years ago I met Jerry who loves me for exactly who I am – with all my strengths, all my weaknesses. I am 100% myself, 100% of the time now – no minimizing. I have the family I have always wanted with his children, Kaitlyn, Chelsea and Eric, all of whom I love with my whole heart. My relationships with my family and friends are the best they have ever been, and I no longer sacrifice any of them for the sake of my partner – because to do that would be to sacrifice myself.

I can still be tough on myself when I get triggered like I have been these last few weeks. When I spoke to my friend Susan last night – I said I am still “pissed” at both John, but also at me for “allowing” myself to be treated badly for so many years. That is why I sat down to write this morning – that is why I am seeing myself now as a “victim” – a word I have never used before to describe myself.

If John or his family are reading this – please try to understand that my intent is not to cause any of you pain, but I understand if it does. This is MY story. These things happened to ME.

These experiences have helped to make me who I am today, and I am a truth-teller. I won’t back down from the truth.

If my story helps even one other person speak up – it is more than worth it. Because here is a hard truth. One in every three women has suffered from domestic abuse. I am one of them – and many of you didn’t know this about me. And I am 100% certain that you know others that are being abused today. You may be one of them. If you are – please hear me loud and clear – the shame of domestic abuse cannot live in the light.

In her TED Talk, by Leslie Morgan Steiner talks about shedding light on domestic abuse – and after watching it today, I felt compelled to shed my own light – to “shed my silence” on this issue.



(What’s so Funny) About Peace, Love & Understanding

I took this picture outside of Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC July 5th, 2015.


“As I walk through this wicked world

Searching for light in the darkness of insanity

I ask myself is all hope lost

Is there only pain and hatred and misery

And each time I feel like this inside Just one thing I want to know

What’s So Funny bout Peace, Love, and Understanding oh

What’s So Funny bout Peace, Love, and Understanding

As I walk on through troubled times

My spirit gets so down hearted sometimes

So where are the strong who are the trusted

And where is the harmony sweet harmony

Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away Just makes me want to cry…”

Songwriters: NICHOLAS ORAIN LOWE; Performed by Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Where are the strong, and who are the trusted – because it is time for you TO SHOW UP. It is time for you to SPEAK UP.

What happened in Charlottesville last Saturday was domestic terrorism. I am baffled to hear our president once again reiterate that he sees “many sides” to what happened and that there were “fine people” on both sides of this. I did not see one “fine person” holding tiki torches and Nazi flags. I am horrified to see David Duke thank Trump today for his support of their hateful movement.

There are not “many sides” to the hate being spewed on my television and my phone since Friday night. There is only one right side of history to be on. And there is only one wrong side.

I wish I could say I am surprised – but in my heart, I believe that Trump is simply revealing himself – ONCE AGAIN. What will it take for the strong and the trusted to say enough is enough?

It is up to each and every one of us to shine our light on the darkness that has come out of the shadows. This is not about politics. This is about our values – the very ideals our nation was founded on – the very values that our “Greatest Generation” fought and died for in a WORLD WAR.  I never thought I would see a time where a white nationalist is allowed to work in my president’s White House – a place I have honored and respected my entire life. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see Nazi flags on display in my country in this day and age, and that it would take days for my President to tepidly denounce it, to only one day later, unleash his true self like he did today.

I am angry. I am bitterly disappointed. I am terrified. I am trying as hard as I can not to spew hateful words and rhetoric back at these people and at our president. I would like to be able to say he is not my president – but the bottom line is that he is indeed my president. He carries the “football” that contains the nuclear codes that can start a nuclear war within minutes. He has that power until the day he leaves office.

I am trying to not answer hate with hate. I am trying with ALL of my might to channel my anger in some kind of constructive way.

I ask everyone out there who is also upset, angry and frankly pissed off – to please not contribute to the violent rhetoric. Be pissed off – but demand change, resist, protest – but in a peaceful manner and don’t contribute to the violence.

I ask everyone who supported Trump and who is now upset about what is happening – please do not stay silent. It is time to speak up. It is time to demand better. Please be brave and see the truth and authenticity that Trump is showing us about himself each and every day.

We are better than this. We need to ACT better than this. We need to DEMAND better than this. Staying silent implies complacency and even complicity. Doing nothing is a choice our country may not survive.

Stand with me on the right side of history. This is my rally cry for each of you to be the light in the darkness of insanity!!