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Week in Review: Alaska Love

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, mostly because I’m on vacation, which is involving a lot of this:

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And this:

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And this:

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And this:

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Yeah… I love Alaska.

And today? Today I’m hopping on a train to Denali for 3 days of intense exploration and hiking.

Life is good!

I did have 2 pieces published this week, if you’re hoping for something to read:

I should be back to a regular work schedule next week, but in the meantime… if you want to see my pictures from Denali, you might want to follow along on Facebook or Instagram!

Week in Review: Like, Whoa

So, this week has been crazy. First, I wrote this piece:

Then, this happened.

That’s right, Busy Philipps (from Dawson’s Creek, and Freaks and Geeks, and Cougar Town, and Vice Principals) retweeted something I wrote, then when I fan-girled all over her because of it (because I legitimately adore her, and I have zero chill), she responded in the sweetest possible way.

Week. Made.

Then, Cheeks and I had a special mommy-daughter moment, and I happened to have my phone nearby. So I recorded it. Because… well, you can see for yourself.

Here’s the thing about single motherhood: It can be damn lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t give this child or this life up for the world. But the next time something’s going down with your kids, and you have your partner to turn to and say, “Did you see/hear/experience that?” Take a second to consider how lonely that parenting moment would be WITHOUT that person there to bounce off of. Without that person there to turn to and laugh, cry, or just dissect with.

I love being this little girls’ mommy. But sometimes, the craziest moments of parenting are the ones where I am left mouth agape, wishing there was someone there to share in that moment with me. The good, the bad, and the ugly… you kind of just feel like you need that other person to help you digest what just happened.

So, yeah… lately, I’ve been recording a lot. And sharing plenty with my closest friends – mostly because I need to be able to say, “Did you see/hear/experience that?” That’s all that happened with this video. I had my phone right next to me when incident went down, so I grabbed it up before I even reacted. I didn’t take it with the intention of sharing online – though I did immediately text it to some of my best friends. It wasn’t until the next day, when I was re-watching it and finally able to laugh over the whole thing, that I decided to upload it. I had no idea it was going to get the attention it has. But… yeah… that’s my kid, forever and always emblazoned on the Internet dropping her first 4-letter word.

Fantastic.

I also wrote these pieces this week:

The new job is going amazingly, and I’m still pulling in some pretty consistent editing work as well. For the record, though… I’m taking the next week off! This guy:

Justin

Is coming to Alaska (with his lady, who we love) to celebrate his 34th birthday – and Cheeks and I could not be more excited to have Uncle Justin here!

We have a ton of crazy adventures planned – seriously, something fun every single day! Some of it (most of it) we’ll be bringing Cheeks along on (her first real taste of adventuring with Mommy and Uncle Justin – the way we used to travel and adventure before she was born). But next weekend some amazing friends of mine are actually taking her so that we can hop on a train to Denali and do some not-suitable-for-kids adventuring!

That’s right, I’m getting a super-duper-rare opportunity to go do some intense hiking and exploration without my kiddo – this is only the second time since she was born that I’ve been able to do that! And let me tell you, life has been a bit crazy lately. I am beyond excited for this time with my best friend, and to kind of disconnect from everything else and reconnect with who I am outside of motherhood and career – the two things that have kind of overtaken my entire being these last few years.

If you’re not already following me on Instagram, I would definitely recommend doing so now. I anticipate having some pretty incredible photos of Alaska to share over the next week!

Week in Review: So Hard Not to Laugh

We’re still having the bedtime fight in our house. The taking of toys actually worked for 3 whole nights. She was earning a few things back, doing really well, and then… backslide.

My child is back to having zero possessions.

Being a parent is tough. Consistency and following through suck. But… here we are.

Last night, on the third escape from her bed, my child opened my door to reveal her shorts had been removed and were over her head, covering her face completely. It was so hard not to laugh. But, I kept my best stern voice on and said, “Go. To. Bed.” She turned around, closed the door, and went right back to bed – never bothering to take the shorts off her head.

Seriously, it took everything in me not to burst into giggles.

Parenting is hard. And then, Timehop sends you pictures like this:

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And it just hits you how fast it all goes by and you just want to go and squeeze them and cuddle them and kiss them while they’re still young and don’t hate you yet.

I almost wish I had laughed at those damn pajama bottoms on her head. Just because… she is a goofy, funny, silly kid. And I so love that about her.

But, no… Consistency. Following through. I’ve got this.

It’s been another crazy busy week with work. Which is good. Great even – I love what I’m doing, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to do it.

I’ve had a few big editing jobs recently, and then I also had these pieces published:

This weekend, I’m hoping to convince my kid once and for all to stay in her room at night. Wish me luck with that…

Week in Review: Fail

For weeks now, I have been trying to draw Minions on bananas for Cheeks’ lunches. Because Pinterest told me I could. Unfortunately, my attempts just keep getting worse and worse.

Minion Banana

I’m pretty convinced the school is going to call me any day now and ask me to stop sending demonic fruit in her lunch. So, there’s that.

Fail.

In other news, the new job is going so well. And I had these articles published this week:

A few months ago, I was interviewed for a big article on adoption scams. Because, this. That piece was just released this last week, and it’s a really interesting read:

This weekend is going to be spent entertaining my girl outside. Because she has no toys left. Because this.

So… wish me luck with that.

 

Week in Review: Big News!

Over the weekend, my girl and I went out to celebrate that big news I hinted at a few weeks ago.

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Those of you who follow along on Facebook already got the update on what that news was. But for those who don’t… as of Monday, I started as mom.me’s new social media manager!

This is a big deal. I’ve been doing social media management for small businesses and individual creatives (photographers/writers/musicians) for years now, but this is far and away the biggest brand I’ve ever managed – 600,000 Facebook followers, and growing!

It’s a big deal for another reason, too. As a freelancer, I might be working with 20 different clients at any given time. An article here, a book to edit there, a resume to update for this client, and a social media consultation to provide to someone else. It’s a lot of small jobs that all add up. And I like it that way – it gives me the chance to do a lot of different things I love, and it keeps me from ever getting bored!

But there is also the uncertainty that accompanies being a freelancer. One month might be great. Epic, even. The kind of month where, if you could replicate it month after month, you would be able to retire pretty early. But other months are barren. You’re fighting for work, unsure of how it’s all going to pan out.

One of the tricks I’ve learned over the last few years of being in business for myself is that you should never splurge during those amazing months. Instead, ferret the money away, because a dry month is sure to be right around the corner.

The beautiful thing about this mom.me gig, besides the fact that it involves doing something I love (social media) for a brand I also love, is that it means long-term, consistent work I can count on from one month to the next. That’s a big deal for a freelancer. And it also means I now have a bit of freedom to be more selective about the other work I take on – meaning I can pick and choose the editing and writing projects that really, truly appeal to me.

And… I can hopefully find some more time to work on my first fiction novel!

So all in all, this is a really good thing!

Of course, I’ve been slammed this week learning the ins and outs of the brand. Which means I only had one article of my own published:

But I anticipate things evening out a bit more there in the next week or two.

In the meantime, I’m thoroughly excited about the new challenge!

 

Week in Review: Fiction

I’m going to be honest, I’m not so stoked on the state of the world these days. It all just kind of seems like it’s going a bit to hell, doesn’t it? People are filled with hate, with rage. They are violent and angry and entitled. Isms and phobias seem to rule the masses more and more, and I’m just left sitting here, watching it all, feeling a bit helpless to do anything but gawk at how bad it’s all become.

Because how in the hell did we ever get here?

As a mother, it’s all the more terrifying. Because I want to raise my daughter to be kind, and to be loving and compassionate to all she meets. But this world we are living in makes that hard, and maybe even dangerous at times.

And so, I’ve been throwing myself a bit into fiction lately. Both in reading to escape the world we live in, in the writing of my own first fiction novel, and in the celebration of one of my authors, whose fiction dreams have come true as she approaches the traditional publication of her first novel.

 

Allegedly won’t necessarily make you feel better about the world. It’s pretty dark and twisted, in fact (think Gone Girl, but for the YA set). But it is beautifully written, with twists and turns the reader would never expect.

An alternate reality where you can close the book and think to yourself, “At least none of it was real.”

I’m insanely proud of Tiffany Jackson. Traditional publication is a hard thing to accomplish these days, and this book… this book is one of the best I’ve ever been lucky enough to be a part of. I am honored to have been her developmental editor, and so excited to see where she is able to take this next part of her writing journey!

Now, as far as what I’ve been writing… there was this:

And I also had this gem published:

So if you’re wondering about the bruises on my arms, it’s probably a safe bet that this kid had something to do with them:

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It’s a good thing she’s so cute. And one of the few true examples of life being better than fiction.

Week in Review: Still Snapping

First, this kid:

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She legit can’t get enough, and I no longer think Snaptchat is just for horny teenagers who want to send covert nudes. So… there’s that.

I had a few new articles published this week:

And one of my clients had a new book published – one we’ve actually been working together on for two years of developmental editing now (because… he’s kind of a perfectionist, and this book was totally his baby!)

I’ve bragged on Garret before. I’ve worked with a lot of personal development authors, but he is – far and away – the one with the least ego invested in what he does, and the most genuine desire to truly help people. I’m honored to have worked as his editor on several projects over the past few years, with this definitely being our biggest. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into The Spheres Approach!

If you’re looking for a new way to look at your life, and some practical tips for how to approach happiness and fulfillment – this is the book for you! I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Now… back to me. I also finished ghostwriting what I think is going to be a really fun children’s book, I nailed down two new editing jobs, and… drumroll please… I signed paperwork on something that has the potential to be a huge opportunity.

Like, huge.

I’ll be able to tell you what that is in about two weeks. But… stay tuned. I’m excited!

 

Week in Review: My Happy Place

Cheeks and I were enjoying a walk home from school this week, when she ran ahead and started climbing. I managed to pull my camera out just as she was doing this:

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And I thought, “This. This is my happy place.”

Seriously, look at that kid. Happy and free and daring. Everything I aspire to be.

I want to be more like my preschooler when I grow up.

This week has been all about getting back into the swing of normal life. I’ve been playing catch-up big time with work, and even managed to land two new developmental editing jobs.

I also had these articles published:

As for this weekend… I think we might have some Finding Dory in our future!

Week in Review: This Freaking Week

My heart is heavy this week. Saying goodbye to a friend. Everything happening in Orlando (hate, massacre, alligators… no). And just this world we live in.

I’m not a fan.

So earlier this week, I caved on something I’ve been fighting against forever… I downloaded SnapChat. Because, this…

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I’m sorry… this kid’s excitement over a silly phone app is everything.

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Everything.

I have very slowly gotten back into the business of business this week, and I’m only just now starting to feel caught up. But I did have a few articles published in the last 2 weeks that I hadn’t shared here yet:

I’ve got some amazing clients who have been incredibly patient with me over the last two weeks… I can’t thank you all enough! I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend with my girl, and then hopefully a return to normalcy (and a full-time schedule) next week.

 

How Do We Get Back to Before?

Over the weekend, someone I cared about died. In the days that have followed, I have spent every possible moment with the people who loved him, doing what I can to be there for them. I have spent more time talking about death than can possibly be healthy. And I’ve cried more tears than I even knew I had to cry. 

Late one night, when everyone else was settled and the tasks for the day were done, I sat in my bed trying to write. Because… I don’t know how to process anything until I type it out. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t string together words. And as I sat there, unable to sleep, incapable of writing, and feeling like I was suffocating on my own grief, I cried out something to the effect of, “You stole my words, you bastard. Give them back. I need them to breathe.” 

And then… I wrote this.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to share it, questioning my urge to do so for so many reasons. For one, it’s not my story to share – the details of his passing aren’t mine to give. For two, he has a family I want more than anything to protect and wrap in love. And for three, this is perhaps the most personal thing I’ve written in a long time. Certainly the most personal thing I’ve ever shared here.

But today… today I just need to let it out. I need to put the words into the universe so that I can let them go and start the process of whatever comes next. 

I’ve had a rule for many years now that I will not ever again write about the men in my life. Not the crushes, not the kisses, and not the relationships that may follow or break apart. I’ve done that before, sharing my love life for all to consume and comment upon, and I didn’t want to be that girl anymore.  I didn’t want to lay my heart bare for all to see. And I didn’t want to put those men I may come to care about on display anymore either. 

I hope he won’t mind that I’m making an exception with this.

 

It’s only happened twice in my life. The call. The one that changes everything.

You answer, and the words that follow forever delineate life from that point forward into before, and after.

The first time, it was a high school teacher of mine. That may sound trivial, but it’s the closest to death I had ever been before now. He had been my favorite teacher by far; the type of man who took the misfits like me under his wing. And so when my best friend called and said those words, “He’s dead,” I didn’t believe him at first. It couldn’t be true. I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t.

Everything after was marred by that realization. The drop-to-my-knees-moment when it really hit me.

This wasn’t a joke. Someone I cared about was gone forever.

That was nearly 15 years ago now. I’ve often had knock-on-wood moments in the years since where I’ve whispered to someone in conversation, “I don’t have much experience with death. Just a teacher I loved when I was in high school.”

I can’t say that anymore. Because now, there’s been another call.

This one was different, though. The words that forever changed everything weren’t just, “He’s dead.” Instead, the voice on the other end of the phone wept, “He killed himself last night.”

Before… After.

I can’t explain who he was to me without feeling self-conscious about my own grief. Because the reality is, there was no label to affix to us. He was nothing more than a hope. A possibility. A promise for the future.

He was the potential for a new beginning. A start we had only just begun exploring.

At the core of our relationship, we were absolutely friends. But he was also the first man in a very long time I had allowed myself to think “Maybe…” about.

I liked him. I really liked him. In that, he-gives-me-butterflies-when-I-think-about-him kind of way.

I just told my friends a few weeks ago that he was the first man to give me butterflies in nearly 5 years.

And now he’s gone. Forever. Because he chose to leave.

We’d known each other for a while, introduced by mutual friends who loved us both. Everyone knew he was having a hard time, a compilation of life’s challenges all piling up on him at once. It was part of why I was keeping him at arms length, despite how much I liked him. Part of why, when he tried to kiss me for the first time just a few weeks ago, I pulled back and said, “No. Not now. Someday, but not today.”

I told him we needed to be nothing more than friends for now, because I couldn’t be the one to help him put the pieces back together. I had my daughter to think about. I had my own heart to protect.

So I told him someday, but not today. Not until you have this hurt behind you. Not until you’re healthy and whole and can be the type of man who could give me what I could give you.

I told him I didn’t want him to kiss me until he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he wanted to be kissing me. Not just anyone who could be a distraction from all the rest.

I said “no.” And now I can’t help but wonder… what would have happened if instead, I had just let go and embraced the possibility? Could I have saved him? Could I have stopped this? Could I have been one more person there, telling him how important and needed he was? Keeping him company when he didn’t want to be alone?

He said recently that he just wanted to spend the night holding me. He just wanted someone to hold.

And I said “no.”

Obviously, on a logical level, I know this had nothing to do with me. I was just a small part of his life, certainly the most insignificant piece of this puzzle. He had so many people who loved him. So many people who were there far more regularly than I was. I know I couldn’t have saved him, even if I had realized just how bad it was. But I’ve poured over our text messages in the days leading up to his death nonetheless. I’ve read and re-read each and every word, looking for something I may have missed.

I can’t find it. He was struggling, and we talked about that. But we were also joking. We were flirting.

We were laying the groundwork to something that had the potential to be so much more.

The last text message he sent me came just a few hours before it must have happened. And I didn’t know. I had no idea.

I never would have guessed in a million years that it was as bad as it was.

Even when the call came through the next morning, for half a beat… I thought it was a joke.

I thought the voice on the other end of the line was lying.

But it wasn’t. They weren’t.

Someone I cared about was gone forever.

In the aftermath, I’ve felt a bit stranded in the confusion of my own feelings. I’ve spent my time holding those who loved him most, comforting them, trying to be the rock he’s no longer here to be. I’ve fought to stay calm, to stifle my own tears in their presence—because who am I to cry in the face of what they’ve lost? I’ve worked to bury my sadness, and the anger that boils to the surface more often than I care to admit to. Instead, I’ve poured my whole being into acting as the voice of reason. The comforter. The person capable of running the errands and making the calls and doing what needs to be done.

Because when I sit for too long… when I think about what he did… what he took away from so many people who loved him… I can’t fucking breathe.

I’m so incredibly angry at him. I’ve hurled more curse words to the sky than could possibly be reasonable. I went to his home, the scene of his final goodbye, just the day after it happened in order to search for various items for his family. There, I found myself accosted by the pictures everywhere serving as reminders of all he walked away from. And all I could think was, “Why? How could he have done this? How could he have left the people who needed him most?”

I collapsed alone on his bedroom floor that day, choking on my own rage.

I am so livid for the people who loved him most, the people I love, that sometimes it feels like I can’t see straight through that anger.

But then, in the quieter moments, when there is nothing to be said or done and I find myself all alone, my mind wanders. It floats to that vision of “maybe…” I had when it came to him. To that belief I was holding onto that we had all the time in the world. That he would figure his stuff out, and then we would have a chance.

Sometimes, in the darkest moments of night, my mind almost convinces me that there’s still time. That he’s still waiting for me to respond in the perfect way to the last text message he sent.

That maybe, just maybe, there’s something I could have said. Something I could have done.

And he could still be that hope. That possibility. That promise for the future.

But he’s not. He can’t be. Because he’s gone.

Because he chose to leave.

Now there’s no hope. No possibility. No promise for the future.

There’s nothing. And when I think about that, when I allow myself to stop worrying for just a moment about what everyone else has lost (so much more than me, to be sure) I just feel so… sad. Sad that the butterflies are gone. Sad that he was hurting so badly. And sad at the finality I still can’t seem to wrap my head around.

He was a good man. A great man. The type of man no one has anything bad to say about, even now. The type of man who would have done anything for anyone. Who always was doing everything for everyone. I liked him the first time I met him, a crush that was based then on this happy and sincere guy I found myself thinking about in terms of, “I’d like to find a man like that.” And a crush that evolved only in recent weeks into, “Maybe that man could actually be him.”

And now he’s gone.

I’m not entirely sure where my feelings fit in the mosaic of that. I don’t know where my grief belongs.

I only know that life has officially entered the after. And I just wish we could go back to before.