Friday, August 30, 2013

Confetti and glitter!!!

When I am going through the most crap in my personal life, I tend to deflect well and come up with funny stuff.

That whole theory about comedians being funny because it's the only way they can deal with the shit life throws at them definitely has truth to it.

This is how I cope.

So there.

I'll be funny instead of writing about everything else going on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I need makeup. I know. This is of earth-shattering importance. I've used the same thing for something like 20 years (shut up about how old I am, mmmkay?), but the geniuses at the company that I won't call out decided to discontinue it. Probably because only a few 20-year hold outs were buying this stuff, but whatever. It may rhyme with Danique.

Bastards.

Anyway, I need to get new stuff. AND THIS THOUGHT TERRIFIES ME.

No, really.

I don't branch well. I'm allergic to like half the stuff in the cosmetic world.

I want to be a normal person and go to Ulta and touch all the things, but my inner freak comes out. Between the germs from all the other people touching things and the potential allergic reactions, I LOSE MY SHIT when I even think about it.

Making me hyperventilate a little bit.
Here's what I envision. I'm not sure you are ready for this.

First, I need to carve out time when I'm sufficiently calm AND alone. This mostly means that I need to be drinking. Except that the only time I'm alone is weekday mornings. And people generally frown on public drunkenness before noon.

I CANNOT go with the kids because I just can't. I need to pay attention to my own needs, not say stop touching that 673 times in a row. The girls beg me to go there all the time and I always end up walking out without the thing I went there for because it's out of stock or I lost my patience trying to look for it or I said stop touching that one too many times and lost my shit.

I DO leave Ulta every time with three hundred tubes of lipgloss that my girls required in order to survive. And a minimum of three bottles of OPI nail polish because I'm addicted to that crap.

Second, I hate foundation but I have to wear it because my skin is such a wreck. I have had acne since I was 10. That's right, people. 26 goddamn years. I have pissed off bitchy combination skin that can't decide if it should have wrinkles or pimples now, so it stopped trying to decide one day and just said FUCK IT - let's have both! Hooray!!!!

Wrinkles and pimples for everyone!!!!

Confetti and glitter!!!

Foundation either makes me shiny or pasty, settles into the lines or highlights every blemish like an individual piece of glitter landed there on purpose. I HAVE to try it out. And I'm a cheap bastard...so while I know that I could buy and it return it if it doesn't work, I'm a cheap bastard and that idea doesn't compute in my head. I have to try it. Except that other people tried it before and you know that even though they leave out those little q-tips and cotton balls that no one actually uses them, and I'm pretty sure that everyone who touched it before me didn't wash their hands when they went to the bathroom and then drug their knuckles on the pavement before walking in.

And then they finger stirred.

Of course they finger stirred.

GAWD. I hate samples.

People with anxiety problems cannot sample.

Third, assuming I can work up the courage to even sample the shit in the first place, I will probably break out in hives. BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT MAKES ME AWESOME. If a drunk germaphobe in a store breaks out in hives, you should give her some Benadryl. When you give her some Benadryl, she's going to fall asleep within minutes. Like out cold, dead to the world asleep. My apologies in advance to the employees of Ulta. I've worked retail, and I know you don't get paid enough to deal with my drunk, allergic, sleeping ass.

Fourth, if I can find something that actually looks decent on my skin and doesn't require me to lives on Benadryl for the rest of eternity, chances are that it will cost me $100 per ounce because it will be made of unicorn farts. You know that unicorn farts are rare, and they can only be processed in this one super secret way by this one foreign company.

Fifth, my unicorn fart foundation that I will fall madly in love with will get discontinued at some point in the future, and I will have to do this all over again.

If I still have pimples, I'm going to be so pissed.

Who wants to go to Ulta with me?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Nerdsday - Video Games, Consoles, and More

Before you read any further, I must disclose a few things. First, I'm not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. The most recent game I was obsessed with enough to stay up until 4am was Guitar Hero.

For the record, I beat the shit out of the devil while extremely pregnant. So there is that.


Video games are a sensitive topic in my house, for a few reasons. Well, for one reason, actually.

You see...all the people living under this roof have addictive tendencies when it comes to electronic devices. Even the short people. Cell phones, MP3 players, Kindles, computers, video games...you name it, we like it. We like it a lot.


My husband has been dying to buy an Xbox since they came out, but he won't let himself because he knows that it would be a terrible idea. It would be a matter of minutes and he'd be sucked into the vortex. I would probably never see him again. I also don't believe for one second that he would be able to resist all the Call of Duty - like games because I remember how obsessed he was when Grand Theft Auto came out.


As an aside, my opinion about those CoD-like games is this...they are fine for adults to play (as long as they are mentally stable and don't actually start to believe they are assassins), but kids shouldn't be playing them. I'm a big fan of a fully developed pre-frontal cortex being involved with anything having to do with violence, even if it is all fake and digitized. The decision making centers in males are not fully developed until they are 25, so it's hard to make any argument with me that a kid half that age should be playing. (feel free to rip me apart for this, but there is a reason those games aren't in my house)...and I digress.

My husband is the guy who wanted to try out WoW during a free trial and realized a few days in that his eyes were glazed over and his face was twitching. He's the guy who's wife wants to kill him whenever someone else buys him a Zelda game, because she knows he's totally out of commission until he has beaten the game.



Seriously, WTF is it with Zelda anyway?

He is intrigued by the new Xbox One, but I'm not hearing great things so far. The PS4 will have a price point about $100 less with comparable features. Microsoft attempted to restrict digital ownership of the games, though they have apparently ditched that plan after a very vocal nerd revolt. The console is already pricey, the games are expensive, and you almost have to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold to use most of the features on it. I know plenty of people who adore their Xboxes, we're holding out though. For now at least.

Which is fine with me.

I don't play a whole lot of video games because they generally piss me off now. I'm old school. I would play the shit out of upright arcade games and I can rock a pinball machine like a master. I adored Mortal Kombat. A.D.O.R.E.D.


I beat Super Mario Brothers, the original version, after acquiring permanent dents in my fingers from the controller and spending way too much time one summer perfecting my strategies.

Games today?  Not the same. The unlimited lives thing irks me more than anything else I think. Back in my day, when we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways to school, you had a set number of lives and you actually had to figure out how to beat the game. You sure as hell weren't going to blow five lives in a row running off a cliff because it's funny. No f-ing way. Those lives were numbered and precious and forced you to actually learn how to play the game.

My kids will literally spend hours running characters off cliffs, picking each other up and throwing them, then demanding that whoever else is playing pop their bubble again. Over and over and over. 

I can't deal.

We own a PS2 (which I bought for my husband as a wedding gift....we really are those people), though it needs to be roof tested since it hasn't worked in years. He just isn't ready to part with it yet, so it sits in the cabinet and he looks longingly at it, remembering the good times.

We also have a Wii. Funny story about that. When they came out, I got up before dawn for something like four weekends in a row to stand in lines in sub zero temperatures in the dark in the hopes of getting one. I finally did. Did I mention that we are those people?


True story: When the oldest was in Kindergarten, he spelled we wrong on a spelling test. He spelled it Wii, capital W and everything. He wasn't exactly wrong...

He still spends more time fiddling with the Miis than playing the games.

We haven't upgraded to the Wii U, mostly because of that above mentioned electronic addiction thing. We've been buying more table games to encourage the kids to play more with each other and spend less time running Mario off cliffs.

We also have to be pretty strict about game playing because it leads to fights in the house fairly often. Neither of the girls is very patient, they can both get very obsessive about the games once they master them. They both also tend to get frustrated with their older brother when he picks them up and throws them off cliffs.

Better on the screen than in real life, I suppose...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


For other posts in the world of nerd...

SooperDad Blog of Awesomeness wrote about the #Batfleck controversy.

Saltwater Sessions shared the men of geekdom she loves.

Crazy dumbsaint of the mind wrote about Adventure Time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

100 Word Song - Once Upon A Time

I have a million things I am supposed to be writing this week, and since I'm having a hard time getting to the place where I can do what I need to do, I was glad when my friend Lance over at My Blog Can Beat Up You Blog challenged me to write another 100 word song.


Funny, his timing.

He's figured out to ask me on a day that something is happening of huge social significance, because then I can't say no. The first time I wrote a song the evening of the DOMA rulings about equality. Today, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, he baited me.

Yes he did.

The theme this time around has to do with the fact that Pearl Jam's Ten was released 22 years ago. Which I refuse to believe. I insist that he must be lying.

I'm going to attempt to combine Pearl Jam with MLK's speech. I can't promise it won't be terrible.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Once upon a time, passionate and well spoken
He stood for equality and human rights
His words, his will could not be broken
He spoke of a world within his sights

This land he dreamt of, so right and just
Where little boys and girls could hold hands 
A world in which those children could trust
That those in charge had a vision and plans

This world, it still needs built somehow
To come together, with his inspiration
He is gone, but we have to do this now
Only we can form a better nation

Once upon a time.

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ Darla from Mom's World, on her struggle with postpartum depression

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday! This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

Up today is Darla from Mom's World. Like far too many women, she suffered from post partum depression. Here, she opens up about her experience, what made her realize what she was dealing with, and how she has worked to heal from it. 

She is open with her experiences in the hopes that it will help someone else out there who needs to read this right now. You can find her on Facebook or on her blog here

With love and respect, her story.


My Personal Battle With Post Partum Depression
As many of you know, I am pretty open with my personal battles with Anxiety and Depression.

One story I haven't told is my battle with postpartum depression.

April, 2006.  I am 8 months pregnant and miserable.  The pregnancy was filled with consistent nausea, weakness, braxton-hicks contractions in the back and an uncertainty of what the gender of the baby was.  No, it was nothing serious, it was just the baby wouldn't cooperate during the ultrasounds to give us a view of the private parts.  I lost over 50lbs during the pregnancy and still had extreme swelling in my legs, hands and feet.

May 2nd, 2006 - Baby is due, but not coming out.  8 days later on May 10th, I was induced.  After a hellish labor (which I will save for another post) out comes our baby girl.  So blessed, so excited, so perfect.

Mid-May, 2006 - Baby is home and eating about every 3 hours.  My milk did not come in so she had to have formula from the start (which I was extremely unhappy about, not to mention unprepared).  Struggling with no sleep and the fact that I had a very active 4 year old at home with me, I started to feel different.

Angry, impatient, bitter and sad.  I stopped smiling.  I stopped playing with my son.  I sat him in front of a TV during the day and would get upset if he asked me any question.  The baby cried and cried and just never stayed satisfied with where she was or what she ate.  My husband could do nothing right.  He worked and came home and helped (while also building his show car).  He was happy.  Why wasn't I happy?

Then one day the baby woke up early from one of her naps and this overwhelming amount of anger and hate came over me.  All I wanted to do was throw her against the wall to shut her up.  I yelled and screamed and burst into tears.  Suddenly, the precious baby girl that I adored, that I longed for, was something that I loathed.

What's wrong with me?

Why am I feeling this way?

Someone help me!

I felt so alone.  I tried to talk to my Mom about it and she thought I was overreacting and just tired.

She didn't listen to me.

I cried.

I cut myself.

I felt so much hatred and disgust with myself that I wanted to end it all.  These kids didn't deserve to have me as their mother.

They needed better.

These feelings of hate and anger didn't go away.  It wasn't just a "tired mommy" thing.  I was really feelingthis.  I tried to talk to my husband about it, but he didn't understand.  He got his Mom involved when he realized that I wasn't myself.

She took me to the doctor.  I was immediately placed on Paxil.  Two weeks later the Paxil did nothing but give me headaches and make my anxiety, anger and depression worse so I stopped the meds.  I found the book "Down Comes the Rain" by Brooke Shields.  At first I was skeptical.  What would she have to say and would it be "real" or just some over exaggerated battle with new mommyhood.

I could not believe what I read.

" I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn’t simply emotional or weepy, like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different. In the past, if I got depressed or if I felt sad or down, I knew I could counteract it with exercise, a good night’s sleep, or a nice dinner with a friend. If PMS made me introspective or melancholy, or if the pressures of life made me gloomy, I knew these feelings wouldn’t last forever. But this was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away. "

Oh my gosh.  This is me.  This is EXACTLY how I have been feeling, but it was this quote that really had me hooked...

"During what was becoming one of the darkest points in my life, I sat holding my newborn and could not avoid the image of her flying through the air and hitting the wall in front of me. I had no desire to hurt my baby and didn’t see myself as the one throwing her, thank God, but the wall morphed into a video game, and in it her little body smacked the surface and slid down onto the floor. I was horrified, and although I knew deep in my soul that I would not harm her, the image all but destroyed me."

It was almost like she was reciting exactly what I was thinking and feeling, word for word.  I could not believe what I was reading.

After I finished the book I finally accepted the fact that I was dealing with postpartum depression and that the feelings I was having was not really 'me' and that I did not hate my daughter.  I read the book a couple of times and just did the best I could to manage the feelings and the guilt that was arising.
I started to look at the positives surrounding me, rather than the negative.

I have a beautifully healthy and really mild-mannered daughter.

I have a son who brightens up the room with his smile and personality.

I have a husband who loves me.

I have family who supports me.

I have resources.  People I can talk to that are not part of my family.  Safe people.  People who don't judge.  People that WANT to help.  People that CAN help.

3 months later - I could see the fog lifting.  The darkness was fading and the sun was shining through. The baby and I settled into a routine and when she cried I didn't have this feeling of hate rush through me. I began to feel that joy and love that you feel with a new baby and I started to smile again.

I honestly probably did not describe the whole thing that good, but it was definitely one of the lowest points in my life.  I am fortunate enough to have support from my husband and family and I believe that is what helped me the most get through.

There are so many great resources out there for postpartum depression, check out some below:

www.nami.org.
http://www.postpartum.net/
http://www.ppdsupportpage.com/index.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004481/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-depression/DS00546
http://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/postpartum-depression-topic-overview

Also, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend checking out "Down Came the Rain" by Brooke Shields.  It really is a great book and it helped me get through my dark time.

Don't be ashamed of postpartum depression.  Allow yourself to accept it and allow others to help get you through.  It does not make you less of a Mom.  It makes you MORE of a Mom because you care enough about yourself to take care of yourself so you can take care of your child(ren).

Always remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  We are here; always here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the twerking nerd bashers who lack empathy edition

Miley and all the other stuff that happened at the VMAs that no one is talking about
By now you likely have seen the videos of her twerking in plastic undies and rubbing herself with a giant foam finger while giant stuffed animals watched. If you haven't seen the video of the actual performance, you've probably seen all the memes floating around about it. They range from the laugh out loud funny ones (i.e. the Robin Thicke/Beetlejuice one made me pee a little) to the funny, but wrong ones (the Smith family wasn't making faces because of her....and no one seems to realize that the entire family is always making faces anyway, so it's hard to speculate what the reason may ever be) to the just plain wrong ones (you know you've seen the chicken butt one and no, I'm not putting it here).

I have a few things to say about this. Ready? Imma do this rapid fire style so it doesn't hog my whole TTPMOT post because I have other stuff to rant about too.

- She is an entertainer who makes money from publicity, and everyone was talking about her, regardless of the reason. I don't think she's nearly as naive or manipulated as anyone thinks...in fact, I think she's actually kind of a genius because she's figured out how to keep her career going just on shock value. Love her or hate her, everyone is talking about her. Which was the point.

- She is actually one of the more responsible entertainers in her age group. Rhianna is famous because her boyfriend beat her up. Taylor Swift has dated half of Hollywood and told one of her exes to STFU during the awards show. Ke$ha is...well, Ke$ha. Miley, on the other hand, has been in a stable relationship with a nice guy for a while now. She's taken her career by the balls (maybe too literally), and completely changed her image. Yeah she smokes pot and drinks...but so do a whole hell of a lot of 20 year olds in the world. If you didn't do anything stupid and impulsive when you were 20, I'm a little bit sad for you. That's part of growing up. She just has to do it where everyone can see.

- Just because someone is famous doesn't mean they are a role model, or that they should be considered such. Besides which...do any of the people claiming she should be even understand the premise of the show that made her famous? Hannah Montana was all about lies and deception, about manipulating situations to make her famous.

- While everyone is focused on this poor lost girl, no one seems to care about the very married man twice her age dry humping her on the stage. If one outrages people, both should. (Neither outraged me, incidentally....I love me some #thicke) Talk about double standards...

- If all the people in the world who spent hours fighting online about her dedicated that energy to real things, like income equality, like equal rights, like making our neighborhoods safer, like volunteering to help others...imagine what the world could be like. Nah, we'll stay home and troll total strangers from behind a computer. Yep, that's a more productive use of our time.

- A WHOLE BUNCH OF AWESOME THINGS happened on the VMAs, most of which were not even mentioned by the people obsessed with Miley's foam finger. Lady Gaga has a smoking hot ass. For that, I stand and give applause, applause, applause. Seriously. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won an award for the most socially important song of the year. And Justin Timberlake proved why he's fantasy island worthy. He even got the rest of *Nsync back on the stage with him for a minute. Hot damn. That man.


#Batfleck and what it means for nerds everywhere
Yeah, Ben Affleck is the new Batman. I'm still not convinced this will work, but I'm not about to throw a nerd fit.

Let's face it.

I'm DC's bitch, and I'll go see it no matter who gets cast because I just will.

Shut up and take my money.

Anyhow. The nerdiverse exploded when the news hit and almost as quickly as the nerds ranted, the nerd bashers showed up in all their glory....some even going so far as to say that fanboys should get girlfriends.

Two things.

One, WTF does that mean for me, if all anyone cares about is the fanboy reaction? What about the fangirls??? I guess we need girlfriends too. Hmmmm...

Two, I don't remember anyone telling sports fans to get a girlfriend because they celebrated about the Super Bowl or NCAA tournament or when the Premiere League started getting aired regularly here. (Oh, snap...bet you didn't see that one coming. You see...I'm a FAN of geekdom and sports. And I have boobs. No wonder society doesn't know what to do with me...)

If you haven't read my rant about nerd bashing before, you should.

Fandom is fandom is fandom. It wears football jerseys and it wears chainmail. Sometimes it wears both...and you really shouldn't fuck with that guy, even if he doesn't have a girlfriend.

Criminal kids, crappy parents and the death of empathy
In the past few weeks, there have been some horrible news stories about kids killing people just for the hell of it.

There was this one in Florida, where two teenagers thought it would be fun to kill people.  Then there was the case of the Australian baseball player killed because some teenagers were bored and had nothing else to do. Or the teenagers who beat a WWII vet to death in Washington.

What the hell is wrong with us????

I have an answer, though most people tend not to like it very much. I think that we, collectively, just don't give a shit about anyone else anymore. We are an instant gratification society. We don't want to work hard, we believe we are entitled to things just because we exist. We want things to make us happy, we seek approval for the most menial accomplishments. We tell kids from the time they are born that they are winners because we don't want things to be too hard for them. We entertain them constantly. We don't help others, we just worry about ourselves.

Empathy is dying.

The me, me, me, me society is churning out an entire generation of kids who just don't know how to care about other people.

When kids get in trouble these days, the parents are often the ones questioning the teachers or the school or the police or the legal system....when they should be forcing their children to be accountable. Instead of teaching responsibility, they explain it away, allow excuses to justify bad choices.

A great many opinion articles have come out this week about it, and I encourage everyone to read them with an open mind, and to take the words to heart. It isn't just our children who could be affected here, it's all of us.

We must teach kids to care about other people. We must hold them accountable. We must relearn empathy and teach it to them.

We must.

Or we're screwed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

That time I was almost pregnant but I wasn't

I've been debating telling this story for a few days. At first, I told myself that I wouldn't, that I would keep this one to myself because I didn't want to listen to those out there who like to tell people like me that grief somehow implies that we are not grateful for what we have.

Then I decided to tell this story because I know that there are other women out there like me, who everyone else insists should be done. Who can't conceive of a world where we might not be. Who can't understand that having as many kids as I do already doesn't mean that I have cherished memories of them.  Who can't possibly fathom my reasons, not that I'm going to hash them out here, because I don't intend to.

Mostly, I'm telling this story because it needs to be told. It needs to get out of my head. And I need to let it go so that I can write the other things I need to write this week.

~~~~~~~

In this world of motherhood, there is a lot of conventional wisdom out there. One of the phrases that I've heard a lot lately is how there are certain things that can virtually guarantee that you will have another baby...like getting rid of all your baby stuff, or planning some kind of fancy vacation, or sending your youngest child to Kindergarten.

When you actually want to have another baby, all those phrases sting a little. Instead of letting on to anyone that I'm crazy enough to want another one, I wave off the jokes and laugh because that is what I'm socially expected to do.

I'm not supposed to actually want another baby.

But I do.

To compound the situation by a thousand fold, I missed a pill last month, on a day after I was sick and it probably ran through my body too fast to do any good.  After a while of wondering, of nervous anxiety, of wrapping my head around the idea that an oops might be happening, I stopped taking my pills, knowing that if I got a period in a few days the oops wasn't meant to be, but knowing in my heart that I wanted it anyway and that I would be elated.


I resisted the urge to buy a pregnancy test because I knew I couldn't wait to use it.

I stopped the pills and nothing happened for days. And days.

Initially scared to death, I became more and more used to the idea of this happening. After only a couple of hours it seemed, I'd gone from hesitant to fully embracing this idea.

I wasn't just okay with having another baby, I wanted one.

With every day that passed period free, my hopes grew bigger and bigger. I was working things out in my head about carpool numbers and when the baby would come. I was thinking of names already, jumping way ahead of myself.

Until the morning of the first day of school. The fateful day that I ushered my youngest over the threshold of his Kindergarten classroom. That day.

I got my period.

On that day.

Trust me when I tell you that finding out you aren't pregnant when you want to be is always devastating. Finding out you aren't just minutes before you have to let your baby go on the first day of school - unspeakable.

Grateful that I hadn't confided the possibility of the oops to anyone before that day, I laughed off the jokes people told at my expense. I smiled through the tears I fought back whenever someone asked if I was doing okay with little boy being gone. I nodded along when the conventional wisdom came out and those who didn't know told me that this would be the day I would wish for another baby.

I did wish.

It just didn't come true.

Society says that I should be done. My heart isn't. The timing sure didn't help.

Maybe someday that wish will come true, but I know that it probably won't. It's not in my hands and all the hope in the world can't make it happen. Hope can be pretty soul crushing sometimes.

I was almost pregnant, but almost doesn't count.

At least my baby already started Kindergarten and I never ever have to relive that day again.

I have to apologize for my moods the last few weeks.

This was why.

Wonder(ful) Women - Antoinette Tuff, Kaitlin Roig & Liz Sanders-Kosiba

Welcome to the Wonder(ful) Women series! This is my newest, and most fabulously kickass series yet, because I'm featuring real-life female superheroes every week. My hope is to bring awareness to stories in the news, and make the women I know in real life realize how much they inspire me and everyone around them.


Off we go.


Antoinette Tuff
I'm almost completely certain that you know who she is by now, even if you don't know her name. She is the school clerk who managed to talk a heavily armed gunman down in Decatur, Georgia last week.

Michael Brandon Hill entered the elementary school with several hundred rounds of ammunition and took the front office employees hostage while he loaded the guns. Tuff, an unarmed school employee, did what she could to reach the suspect, and eventually started to tell him stories about her life, trying to get through to him that everyone has problems, but that there was no reason for anyone to die that day. She prayed. She related to him. She asked him questions about his life and what brought him to this point. 

He shot a few rounds at officers outside, but eventually surrendered peacefully. No children or employees were harmed, no officers were wounded, and the suspect is in jail. 

With the rise in school violence of late, and all the calls to arm school employees, I am glad that no one else inside that building was armed. I'm even more glad that Antoinette Tuff was where she was that day, and that she used the most powerful weapon of them all - her voice.  She was the one talking to the dispatcher. She was the one talking to the suspect. Just her.


Thank you, Antoinette, for saving countless lives and for proving that faith and clear thinking can triumph over fear. Having courage doesn't mean you aren't afraid, it means you do the right thing anyway.

Kaitlin Roig
She's another woman that you probably know of, even if you might not remember her name. She is the teacher who hid her entire classroom of first graders in a bathroom during the Sandy Hook massacre, managing to keep them quiet enough that they were not discovered by the shooter.

In the months since the tragedy, she has avoided the policy arguments about the hows and whys things like this happen and what, if anything can be done to prevent them, but she has done something else entirely. 

She has started an organization that connects schools with each other, allowing kids all over the country an opportunity to develop empathy with the situations of others, and gives them a chance to help other classrooms. She firmly believes that the lesson to be taken from this experience is that we need to teach children to care genuinely about other people in this world.


It is called Classes4Classes and you can find it here

Thank you, Kaitlin, for protecting those children, and for teaching them about far more than reading, writing and arithmetic.

Liz Sanders-Kosiba
Unlike the other women I know in real life that have been mentioned in this series, I let Liz know that she was going to be mentioned here ahead of time because I wanted to ask her if she wanted to wait until next month for it. There's a reason.


Her blog, My Sudden Attack of Conscience, is one of the most inspiring things I've encountered on the internet ever. A self-professed formerly selfish girl, she started the project as a way to document her journey towards living a life full of giving to others. She gives her time, her energy, her resources and her money to a different charity each month. The goal is to give each charity, through her efforts to raise awareness to her fans of each one, at least $100 a month. 

I'm pretty sure she has surpassed that goal every month. And if I had a reason a guess here, I'm going to say that she's transformed herself entirely already and she still has four months left in the year. 

This month's charity is the Alzheimer's Association, one near and dear to my heart, and you can read about her month here. If you would like to join in and contribute to her causes, that would be fabulous! You can find her on Facebook here. 

Why the sudden attack you might ask? Easy. Gratitude for all that she has, and tremendous respect for the second chance she has been given with her newly sober husband. They both ooze love and gratitude. They have completely figured out that this is what life is all about. 

She is a ray of sunshine and her smile is infectious. I'm so very glad that I got to know her early on in this journey of hers because I can honestly say that I've been a witness to watching her grow into this ridiculously amazing person more and more every day. 

Liz, you are an inspiration. You are what gratitude looks like. You are a gift to this world, and I'm so very glad that you've decided to share this journey with us all. 

I'm proud to call you a friend. Love you. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mommy Wars Smackdown - I WIN

I do my best thinking right before I go to bed, and then if I'm on my game, I remember to text it to myself before the genius departs my body forever. This time I remembered to text myself, and for that, you are welcome.

This post is intended to make light of the mommy wars. Don't take any of what follows personally. It's not an insult to anyone, and is done with the goal of raising awareness of the fact that we're so busy fighting over who is right that we are more worried about what people think OF our parenting than we are of whether we're actually making the right choices for us and our families. You know what I'm talking about, the battles constantly raging between all varieties of mothers, for every reason under the sun, stoked and poked by the media at every opportunity, making us simultaneously feel like we're doing it all wrong and like we must be doing most of it right somehow.

I'm over it. For real. Most of it is manufactured and artificial. Most of us don't go around in real life telling other moms, our friends and our foes, what they are doing wrong in our opinions. Throw in the internet and suddenly everyone has an opinion, and everyone feels compelled to express and defend it, even if it requires them for some bizarre reason to discount every other opinion in the world.

It's all bullshit.

No one wins these wars. And we all lose. Even and especially when we think we win.


I've been a mom for a while. I haven't seen a child through the teenage years yet, I haven't had to teach anyone to drive. None of my kids are dating and I don't have to worry about college or weddings or any of the stuff that will come later, but I've lived through a shitload of things that people seem to have opinions about.

So, here's what I've learned.

Planned pregnancies are great - when they work out in the time frame you want. When they don't and it takes you longer than you plan to get pregnant, something happens and you become a crazed lunatic who cries every time she sees a pregnant woman or baby and feels compelled to pee on a stick five days before you know they will be accurate. Then four days. Then the afternoon of the fourth day. And so on. Planning is great. It can also make you certifiably insane. Unplanned pregnancies are great too - once you get over the shock of it all. The oh shit I wasn't thinking this would happen but it already did and how much did I drink last weekend??? That. Not that I'd know anything about that. Nooooo.

Natural childbirth is great. I've done that. It's scary as shit when you do it without planning to, and it's ungodly painful, but if you're lucky it's over quickly. You know what else is great??? Pain meds. Fentanyl is good shit. It doesn't take the pain away, you just don't care anymore. I've had epidurals. One never worked, but one did. And thank you lord sweet baby jesus it did. I am not less of a mom because I didn't feel every millimeter of that kid exit my body. They still let me take her home from the hospital. Honest.

Breastfeeding is fabulous. I did that. Unless you are exhausted. Or stressed. Or have bleeding nipples. Or have to take an entire bottle of supplements a day just to boost your supply. Or if you are tethered to a pump 24 hours a day. Or if you have a preemie that can't figure out how to latch for six weeks. You know what else is great? Formula. Without it, my kid would have been labeled failure to thrive. Without it, one of my kids would have been in the NICU because of hypoglycemia. Without it, I would not have been able to make long roadtrips alone without stopping all the time and it taking twice as long.

Cloth diapering is awesome. I've done it too. It's environmentally friendly and the little covers are so adorable until they are covered in the explosive diarrhea of a sick kid. Then it's nasty and disgusting and you'd give anything to just throw it away, but you paid $23 for this designer cover and goddammit you are going to salvage it. You know what else is awesome??? Disposables. Especially Pampers swaddlers. I could sniff those diapers all day (before they are filled of course). I told you guys I have issues.

Making adorable little crafts to give family members is tremendously rewarding. I did that and the people oohed and ahhed. You know what isn't awesome? Glitter on your dining room floor for the following six months or paint smeared on your living room walls or clothes that got ruined or kids who eat crayons. That all sucks donkey balls.

Homeschooling is something I never anticipated doing, but did. And it was great to be the one in charge of my son learning. It was fun to help him learn when he wasn't trying to convince me all.freaking.day to play baseball instead. You know what else is great??? Him going to kindergarten so that I can pee alone for the first time in over 12 years. That's pretty fucking fantastic.

I grow a lot of my own vegetables. I would totally be the lady with backyard chickens if it was allowed. I try to buy organic food whenever possible and cook almost everything from scratch because it's super awesome to be that health conscious. You know what else is great??? Spagettios. Because sometimes the organic food that you bought at the beginning of the month totally wiped out your food budget for the month and kids don't actually care because they love spagettios.

I have a kid with ADHD who isn't medicated. I have one who is. I'm an advocate for not medicating kids who don't need it, and I'm an advocate for medicating the ones who do. It's just logic, not a reflection of the quality of someone's parenting. But whatevs. Logic bad, judgment good. Argh, argh, argh.

I have kids who aren't quirky. And that's great. I don't ever have to worry about them fitting in socially or spazzing out and freaking out their friends or being judged by other kids' parents. I have kids who are quirky too, and you know what's great about it??? Not only do I have to know them better and they have to know themselves better, but they write me stories about flying hamsters. And that's rad, even if it means that occasionally someone hyperventilates in a perfectly good department store.

I've been a SAHM. I've been a working mom. They both suck. It's not a contest, so stop acting like it is. You know who wins for the worst gig anyway??? It's not either one of those categories. It's the WAHMs. Yep, I've done that too. Holy balls, it sucks to work at home with kids...especially when they are toddlers and touch all your stuff and eat your papers and need food all.the.damn.time. They ignore you when you aren't busy but scream like dying cats when you need to make a phone call.

I could go on and on for days listing the things that we are told we have to fight about as moms. The point of this is that no one is right, we're all doing the best we can, and if we fall for the notion that we are actually supposed to give half a shit about what someone's opinion of our parenting is, we aren't doing ourselves any favors.

Do your thing, I'll do mine.

We can both trust that the other one is doing the right thing.

We cool?

Cool.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Nerdsday - how I became a Game of Thrones addict

My name is Kelly. It has been 18 hours since I last read a chapter from A Feast For Crows and it has been 13 hours since I last watched an episode. Season 2, Episode 2 if you need to know that level of detail.

I never intended to be a GOT geek. Really.

In fact, when the show first aired, I remember distinctly all the fuss people were making of it. Purely out of curiosity, we decided to watch one episode.

It was all boobs and swords, boobs and swords. Literally. And I was like what in the fresh hell is this????

I don't even think we watched the entire episode before it got shut off. I know that this information probably comes as a shock to those who know me now, on the other side of this fantasy world addiction.


Then the husband volunteered at Comic Con, embraced his dorkness, and forced me to do the same. Or something like that.

He decided one day that he was going to read the books, and I asked quizzically, you mean the ones with the boobie show on HBO?

They came in the mail a few days later, and he was immediately hooked. He'd sigh audibly, gasp in places, laugh in others, be so repulsed by some things that he'd put it down and shake his head. Every once in a while, he'd forget that I hadn't read them and want to talk about whatever totally jacked up thing that had just happened, then catch himself because he didn't want to spoil it.

He wanted me to read them so he could have someone to talk to about them.

He's a slow reader and the books are hella long, so I waited semi-patiently for him to finish the first one. I was done with it a few days later, but he was barely into the second book...so I went to the used book store and bought a second copy. I'm that impatient.


Now that I've read the books (well, most of them...I'm halfway through book 4), the show makes more sense. And there really are a lot of boobs in the stories. Big boobs, little boobs, barely mature boobs, old boobs, nursing boobs, boobs for hire. Boobs. Why so many boobs?  My guess is because they didn't have tv then, and they all drank a lot, and they had to keep themselves busy in between wars. And, let's face it...everyone likes boobs.

Last week a bunch of articles came out online requesting equal treatment of the dong. I laughed so hard when I read some of them that coffee came flying out of my nose.

I, for one, am generally all about equality, but I don't necessarily need to see more dong. I mean, I could totally get behind more male nudity on the show, but I'm not sure that I need the money shot. But that's probably just me.  The people want the dong.

And I digress....

Anyhow, I promised to write a post that wouldn't reveal any spoilers. So I'll try not to be specific here. If you don't want to read spoilers, then you probably shouldn't follow any of the GOT pages on Facebook either.

Here's the vaguest stuff I can give you that will make you want to read it, I mean aside from boobage and dongs...

- The writing is generally very good. The books are long, primarily because he describes stuff in a very Tolkien-esque way, and if you don't know what that means, then we can't even be friends anymore.

- Generally once you hit the last 200 or so pages in each book, get cozy. You're not getting up until it's over.

- The show follows the books well. Very well. Better than most anything that is an adaptation. Whoever did the casting for the show needs a raise because the actors and actresses are RIGHT ON.

- The character lists are nothing short of insane. There's a summary of the houses in the back of the book for a reason.

- The first 250-ish pages of the second book is painful to get through. It's worth wading through it.

- There are times that you will be completely grossed out. There are times you'll be pissed. There are times that you'll be cheering for a character, but do it quietly in your own head so people don't think you are crazy. There are times you'll probably throw the books across the room.

- Some characters seem immune to being killed off (especially the ones you'd love to see dead), but other ones die way before you think they should.

- Tyrion is kickass. That is all you need to know about him.

- Dragons. Dragons are rad.

- This.

- And this.


Just go read them. Because boobs and swords. That's enough reason, right???

Besides, winter is coming.

No, really, it is.

~~~~~~~~

You can find another nerdsday post by my friend at Crazy Dumbsaint of the Mind, where she's talking about Adventure Time!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday - Tammy from World's Worst Moms on Sitting in the Nest

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

Tammy. Tammy, Tammy, Tammy. Where should I begin? She was one of my very first internet blogging friends and could very well be the first one I got close to on "the other side", on our personal profiles. I very distinctly remember the first time I encountered her. It was a day that a post I had written about the fear of losing my father coming true was featured and she reached out to me because of it. 

She lost her mother, I lost my father, and there the shared paths met though we'd been walking similar ones for years without knowing it. It doesn't seem like they've diverged much since. We know personal loss, we know grief, we know struggle, we know resilience. We know that sometimes when one of us poofs from the internet for a bit too long, the other will poke around and make sure we are okay. She is one of those people that I just know I would get along with just as well in person as we do online. Probably even better, actually. I adore her. 

You can find her on her blog, World's Worst Moms here, on Twitter here and on Facebook here

I could write about her forever, but I'll turn it over to her now. Ladies and gentlemen, Tammy.

Sitting in the nest for now
I dropped the kids off for their first day back to school today, and when I got home, something hit me. I was running around the house, doing all the stuff that I'd put off because it'd been the last week of summer, and I realized -- when they leave for college, it's really going to suck.

My kids are 9 and 10, so projecting approximately a decade into the future may be a bit hysterical, but that's just how I roll. Anyway, I sat upstairs, folding clothes, and thinking, I'm going to be one of those psychotic, empty-nest mothers who freaks out when her kids leave. Holy crap.

There is no way I ever wanted to be that person.

But here's the problem: I like my kids. I like my family. Especially now. I've seen the dark side of how crappy parenting can be when you have post-partum depression and your kid has behavioral problems up the wahzoo. I know how it feels to go to bed crying every night with the mixed emotions of guilt and relief because your day is finally over. 

But right now, I'm in the zone. Right now, I'm okay unplugging for days at a time so we can go on a last-minute road trip. I'm okay spending the entire weekend reading Harry Potter because the kids really, really, really want to finish the fifth book before school starts. I'm okay with the messy house.

So here's my existential conundrum: all that stuff is already over. All of the road-tripping and reading and messiness is already gone. They were moments in time that I can still remember experiencing and saying to myself, "This is going to be over so soon. Tomorrow you'll remember how you thought that this would be over so soon." And I do. I remember. And it makes me feel like a crazy person. Like I'm trying to hold onto water shooting out of a hose.

I could force myself to take a step back from my family. I could go out and find some new hobbies, new friends -- something that would take up my time and energy. And if I were feeling like I were losing "me" (and at certain times, I have), then yes, I would. But right now, it'd be disingenuous. 

I guess what I'm saying is that as long as the hose is running, I'm going to try and drink as much as I can. I would rather be the crazy woman who sits sobbing at the facet when it finally runs dry than the one who stands by and watches the water spill onto the ground because she wants to get used to being thirsty.

And I'll fill that nest when I come to it.

Writer's Workshop Wednesday - Jon from Movement 6, on the importance of fatherhood

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

This piece today comes from my good friend, Jon. He's the kind of guy that I can have long drawn out discussions with about anything from parenting to professional sports to faith. 

Like so many of the other submissions in this series, his piece is about a childhood that wasn't exactly ideal, musing about how different things might have been and how he intends to make sure his own children don't ever have to face the same struggles later on in their lives.

You can find him here on his blog, or here on his Facebook page Movement 6

Without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jon.

I often times wonder how it would feel to know that my Father loved me. To know that he ever took joy in who I was, am, or could be. I would love to know what it’s like to have knowledge passed on from my father. To have a healthy inner voice that tells me I can overcome.

I am part of a group of men that would be called "Self-made". We had no one to show us how to set up a quick release system for a hose, how to change the oil in a car or how to build things with our hands. In society today, this "Self-made" image is celebrated like it is an accomplishment. I have heard things like "good for you, look at all you have accomplished on your own", and "Wow, a man who stands on his own two feet, you owe nothing to nobody". Yet I can’t help but constantly feel handicapped. I feel like the self-made man is comparable to a man with one arm, you can do everything a guy with two arms can do, but it just takes longer to figure out how to do it, because your tools and skills are limited in comparison. What I do know is this, I am not alone but I am ready to try and make a change.

I want to share some statistics with you all about fatherlessness. You can add the words "come from a fatherless home" to each of these statistics.

* 71% of all High School dropouts

* 90% of all homeless/runaway children

* 63% of all Youth suicides

* 71% of pregnant teenagers

* 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders

* 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers

* 80% of anger motivated rapist

* 85% of all youth in prison

* 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions

* 32x more likely to runaway

* 20x more likely to have behavioral disorders

* 20x more likely to go to prison

* 9x more likely to drop out of school

* 9x more likely to end up in a state operated institution

* 5x more likely to commit suicide

* 10x more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol

* 14x more likely to become rapist

* 73x more likely to be fatally abused

Each and every time I read these numbers, they floor me. You see, Fatherlessness is a cycle that must be stopped. We have a bunch of broken men, raising broken boys, who become broken men, who raise broken boys... and the cycle perpetuates itself over and over. How can we as men, be so selfish? We all need to recognize the broken past we have been party to and in that recognition choose better for our future generations. Too often I see men choosing the victim card. They use their broken past as an excuse to stay broken and to behave like a child.

If you are a man reading this... Go read the stats again. Your decisions are important, and affect so much more than just you. Our decisions as men who have children, ripple out for generations. How I treat my kids today will impact how they treat their kids and then that will repeat with our grandchildren.

Men, the foundation you choose to build today is what your lineage gets to stand upon. Something must change.

This topic is my heart and I ask myself over and over, how can I help fix this massive issue? What can I do as one man to combat fatherlessness? It starts at home. I have tried to be for my wife and my girls what my father was not for me. I want to break that cycle. Beyond that, I want to help other men break that cycle as well. I want to start a movement, a "Whole Man Movement" if you would. This movement will begin small, probably 6-10 Men committed to their families and the wellness of other families, they will have individual skillsets to bring to the table but all will share a deep passion for men acting like men and families being complete. It would have to start out grass roots in the community and then move into the educational and political systems of our country. I am going to attempt to break this movement down into 3 parts for how I believe it will look.

1) The Grassroots Project -A progressive effort consisting of speaking engagements, educational demonstrations, and events which reveal the importance of having healthy relationships and effective mentorship programs to facilitate the healing of the fatherless epidemic. Focal Groups: Universities, Community Organizations, Education Systems, Churches

2) Communicate the Issues - A massive communication forum facilitated by "Project-Z" across the USA, bridging gaps of communication among educational facilities and their workforce along with government representatives and their constituents. Focal Group: Corporate Organizations, Local, Regional, and National Government Agencies/Offices.

3) Events- A crusade of partnerships and social alliances designed to promote social responsibility and its effect on local communities. Focal Areas: Religious, Cultural, Educational, Health, & Community Enriching Initiatives.

The movement must happen, it must effect all of these areas, and it must be something easily accessible and readily available. I am just dumb enough to believe I can change the world, I wonder who will help me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the maybe if it was my kid I'd think differently edition

This week's edition is gonna piss you right off and completely gross you out, so you might want to sit down first.

I'm serious.

I'll wait.

It Might Be Different If It Applied To Me, but it doesn't, so there.
From the moment it was implemented and suspected by the public, even before the existence of it was publicly verified, the stop and frisk policy employed by the NYPD has come under substantial fire in the media.

It essentially grants police the right to stop and frisk anyone they decide might be some sort of threat to public safety, eliminating any requirement of probable cause or an imminent threat to public safety. The policy was struck down as unconstitutional last week, but Mayor Bloomberg continues to defend the purpose and validity of the policy, sometimes vehemently and defiantly.

He's always defended the policy, saying that it is necessary because of public safety. He understands that minorities are stopped disproportionately, but seems to think that the right of citizens to walk down the street without being mugged is equivalent to the right to walk down the street while being a minority without being stopped. He even went so far as to say that it is not racial profiling. The data says otherwise, though.

What was interesting this week though, was the slightest dent in his argument that stop and frisk is okay. In an interview in The New Yorker, Bloomberg admitted that he might feel differently about the law if his son was stopped. 

Since only 12% of those stopped are white, it's not a giant leap that he meant that he would feel different if his son were not, and was stopped purely because of his race.

Huh.  Imagine that?  If this policy affected his kid unfairly, he might not support it.

Signs that what you're doing is wrong....

The Neighbor From Hell
If you've been online in the last 48 hours, you've likely seen this letter. If not, sit down before you read it. No, really.


I have to be honest. My first reaction was to question if it was legit, or if it was yet another stunt by someone looking for outrage and sympathy, toying with the emotions of whoever would come across it.

I hate, by the way, that I wanted this to be a desperate grab for attention...but I'm jaded and cynical these days because too many people have invented stuff just like this.

Unfortunately, it's real.

The recipient of the letter is the grandmother of a 13 year old autistic boy. He comes to stay with her in the summer, and apparently one of the neighbors isn't enjoying his visits.

The writer of this letter, aside from having terrible grammar and lacking a fundamental understanding of how to compose a letter, is an asshole. It's a title that I normally withhold and try to not hand out too freely, but it most definitely applies here.

It's bad enough to express insensitive and ignorant opinions about a child, but to actually suggest that he should be killed and his body used for science goes far beyond the mere expression of an opinion.

The police are involved, but I don't think that any legal punishment could ever be enough for the vile woman who wrote this letter.

Brain Ameobas and Knee Snails and Flesh Eating Bacteria, oh my!
In the category of things that make me not ever want to go outside again....

Brain eating ameobas have been around for a while, sure. Naegleria fowleri is found in warm freshwater locations all around the world. It's super rare, but once it swims up someone's nose and invades the victim's brain, the chance of survival is somewhere near 1%. The early symptoms are usually mistaken for other more common conditions and once the cause is determined, treatments are futile.

Knee snails are new and super duper interesting, if you can get over the initial urge to scream WTF!!!! In California, four year old Paul Franklin did what four year olds do best, and fell, scraping his knee while his family was camping near the beach. The wound was cleaned up and bandaged, but over the next few weeks a pus ball began to form around it. Mom popped it and out came a baby snail. I promise I am not kidding.

So you've heard of flesh eating bacteria before, right? Also known as necrotizing fasciitis, it's rare but kills a quarter of the people who contract it. Usually it comes from some tragic accident somewhere outside where germs are expected to be everywhere and get into open wounds...but last week a brand new mother died after her episiotomy incision became infected with it just a week after giving birth. The link includes information about fundraising for funeral costs and to help the father, who will now be raising their daughter alone.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wonder(ful) Women - Suzie Kozisek, Lady Gaga & Alexa Bigwarfe

Welcome to Wonder(ful) Women! This is my newest, and most fabulously kickass series yet, because I'm featuring real-life female superheroes every week. My hope is to bring awareness to stories in the news, and make the women I know in real life realize how much they inspire me and everyone around them.



Off we go.


Suzie Kozisek
I'd bet you haven't heard her name, but you may have heard about her story.  She is a mother and grandmother in Iowa, and in a strange medical twist of fate, got to be both at the same time.  

Her daughter, Ashley, wanted to have children, but was told that it would be too risky for her to attempt to carry pregnancies because she has pulmonary hypertension. Ashley underwent IVF procedures to remove eggs to be fertilized and frozen in 2010, but she required a gestational surrogate to help bring the children into the world.

Her mom, Suzie, volunteered.

Though she was older than ideal, the doctors decided that she was healthy enough and had successfully carried enough pregnancies herself to give it a shot. The first pregnancy resulted in a little girl in 2011, and she gave birth to twin girls this year. 


Grandma of the year, right here. 

Lady Gaga
Okay, so she's out there sometimes. Okay, so it's more than sometimes. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born to a Roman Catholic family and was writing her own music by the age of 14. 


She's had more than her fair share of controversy, this is true. She does a lot of what she does for effect. It's not common to wear a dress made of meat or hatch yourself out of an egg on stage.

She doesn't just make music, she is the personification of performance art. She is hair and makeup and wardrobe and dance and light and props. My youngest child is a ridiculously huge fan of hers.

She's also not just a musician. She is, for a good many people out there, a hero. Perez Hilton is quoted for saying that she writes really deep intelligent lyrics with shallow concepts. Often misinterpreted, she stands up and speaks out for the issues she is passionate about, the most well known of which is youth empowerment. She started the Born This Way Foundation in 2012 after the worldwide response to the song of the same name helped young people embrace who they are.

Put your paws up, baby, because you were born this way.

Alexa Bigwarfe
There is this beautiful tapestry of writers on the internet. Some of us are on the fringes far away from the experiences of others, but connected nonetheless by our desire to write it and share it with the world. Then there are those who's stories run parallel to us for a little while or for just a moment, and our lives touch one another.

Alexa is one of those people.

I met her a while back now, though I couldn't say when, but I'm sure that we were brought together at some point through our stories of grief.

Though our stories are not very similar at all, we share the truth that we put out there for the world again today, that we both navigate this world without a child who should be here. Today, on the Day of Hope, we both share our stories of loss so that others out there won't feel so alone.

Photo courtesy of the CarlyMarie Project Heal

Instead of taking her grief and sitting with it, she has become a voice in the universe for the condition that took her sweet Kathryn, twin to twin transfusion syndrome. She is a safe harbor in the rough seas for the parents out there dealing with this often catastrophic condition. She is a place for information, for support, for love, for a voice that whispers I understand and I will help you.

You can find her on her blog here and on her Facebook page, No Holding Back, here.

She is a pillar of strength, and she inspires me every day to work towards helping others by sharing our stories.

Thank you, Alexa. I am blessed to call you a friend and so grateful that our stories on that beautiful tapestry intersected.

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