the untitled project

My POV. Unmasked. I'm not invisible here.

The beauty of quitting

I’m a quitter. In fact, I’m a proud quitter.

Each time I see that online meme that says: “You may see me struggle, but you’ll never see me quit,” I know it’s supposed to be inspiring, but I think, “Really? How dumb.”

I’ve quit many things throughout my life and am better for it. I don’t even want to think about where I’d be if I had never quit my first job, never left my first marriage, never let go of friendships that I’d outgrown or that had become hurtful.

Struggle isn’t inherently bad. It can be either healthy or unhealthy. The trick is figuring out which version you’re experiencing. The healthy kind of struggle leads to growth, betterment, and a feeling of accomplishment. The unhealthy kind leads to the gut feeling that something is very wrong, to misery that feels like it’s spiraling out of control. Sometimes it’s impossible to know how wrong something is until we’re in the thick of it. Those who pride themselves on never quitting would, what? Remain immersed in an unhealthy situation indefinitely, just so they can say they never quit? I think that’s stupid. Life is too short.

Quitting gets a bad rap. But sometimes it’s the smartest, healthiest thing you can do.



No more silence

Why would I add my voice to the swelling crowd of women who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault? Because I believe it’s important to stand in solidarity with the courageous women who have never before told their stories. I’ve made the decision that keeping quiet isn’t helping anyone.

My perpetrator is deceased. He died a few years ago at a relatively young age. Oddly, I felt nothing when I learned of his passing.

I know at the time, he thought nothing of what happened. Most guys don’t. That’s why they can’t remember years later. Because it’s nothing to them. But the women remember.

“The ax forgets. The tree remembers.” – African proverb

We’ve all heard the statistics, which are staggering. One in five women will be raped at some point in her life. In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 (National Sexual Violence Resource Center).

It all started with the damn high school prom. That ridiculously hyped event which has become, in our culture, not only a rite of passage, but a “pre-wedding” of sorts in terms of preparation and expense, especially for girls. It wasn’t that way when I was in high school, but it was still a big deal. And it became an even bigger deal if no one had ever asked you to prom. With my self-esteem and sense of worth already shaky at best, I allowed myself to feel even worse as the big event drew closer. When a favorite teacher of mine learned that I hadn’t been asked, she encouraged me to ask someone myself. I thought about it and decided to take her advice.

There was a kid on my bus who was kind of cute. He was two years younger than I was and in 10th grade, so I thought my chances of being turned down might be less. I worked up my courage and asked him. Flattered and surprised to be asked to the prom by a senior girl, he said yes, he’d go with me to the prom.

We had a nice time that evening. He was funny and seemed proud to be with me, which I lapped up. We started dating that summer.

It wasn’t long before he started pressuring me for sex. I was completely inexperienced and he seemed to know everything about it, including the fact that if I wasn’t interested, there was something seriously wrong with me. He made it abundantly clear that he not only wanted sex, but expected it, and if I wasn’t agreeable, his patience would soon run out and he’d be gone.

This was a guy who was proud to be with me and wanted me to be his girlfriend and date me exclusively, so I couldn’t risk losing him! He was very convincing when he said that sex is the most natural and wonderful act between two people. We often fought about it, which I hated, especially when I was clearly in the wrong, and probably even abnormal, as he suggested.

So I gave in. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I cried and asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He kept going, telling me it would get better. If you’ve ever passed out, you know that your peripheral vision is the first to go. I lost my peripheral vision and saw stars on several occasions while begging him to please hurry because the pain was so intense I was afraid I would pass out. I kept thinking that each time would get easier, like he said it would, but somehow it never did. He’d get furious with me if I said I didn’t want to have sex. And he would never stop.

Believe me, the fact that I lost my virginity against my will does not make me unique. Far from it. Some might wonder why I didn’t report it. At that time, there was no term for date rape. The concept of sexual abuse was rarely talked about and statistics were virtually unknown to the general public. It never even occurred to me to report it. In my mind, there was nothing to report, except maybe that there was something wrong with ME.

After a traumatic and very painful summer that year, my relationship with that guy didn’t last much beyond my first few weeks of college in the fall. But the damage was extensive and would require years of therapy later to repair. Nowadays, I am passionate about building up young girls so that if they ever find themselves in a similar situation, they have the strength and self-possession to say “No!” and mean it. It’s why I’m so passionate about self-care, healthy boundaries, and listening to that gut instinct to protect oneself.

As more and more women tell their stories, I fear that we as a society may develop compassion fatigue and become numb to the trauma they’ve experienced. So many are already numb from the constant bombardment of the news cycle — crime, natural disasters, the daily shit-show in Washington, as well as whatever upheaval they’re dealing with in their own lives. But I hope that for the sake of our children, our daughters in particular, we start to rethink behavior and what messages we’re sending.

Back to basics

For the entrepreneurs

Some days you comfort the afflicted; other days, you afflict the comfortable. A friend posted this on Instagram and it really hit home for me, so I’m reposting it here.

Here’s something interesting:

Kylie Jenner releases a lip gloss, and people buy it.
Michael Jordan puts out a new shoe, and people buy it.
Apple releases a new phone, and people stand in line to buy it.
One Direction releases a perfume, and it goes viral on social media.
Jessica Alba starts an organic products company, and people buy her stuff.
A friend posts about a unicorn in a cup by Starbucks that’s completely unhealthy and everyone goes out and tries it.

But then … a friend or family member starts a new business and people are either wary of supporting it, or they ignore it altogether.

What’s happening? Why are we so quick to support someone we don’t know? All while contributing to a celebrity’s endless bank account. And yet, we come up with a million reasons not to support someone we know and love.

The next time you see a friend posting about their business, give them a quick like, heart, or comment, or simply share the post and help spread the word. You don’t even have to purchase anything (although that would be great!). Just a little support goes a long way in building a business and strengthening a friendship.


Come sit on this bench

It’s a tiny speck on the map. A handful of houses, a community center, two churches, no stop lights. It’s on a farm at the outskirts of this little village that I did most of my growing up. I haven’t lived there for many years. The farmhouse is now occupied by strangers, the outbuildings and land maintained by neighbors. But somehow its nostalgic grip on my soul has never released.

I recently ran an errand not far from my “home place” which doesn’t happen very often. I was driving back when I suddenly got a strong urge to go look at the place where I grew up. Have you ever known for a while that you needed a good cry, but you’re waiting for the proper catalyst to get started? I turned the car around and drove the short distance to our lane and parked the car, facing the farm.

As clear as day, I could see my dad driving a tractor pulling a load of baled hay in a wagon behind him, headed toward the barn to unload the bales. I could see him in his white t-shirt, green John Deere cap, heavy jeans, and brown boots, leaving me wondering how he could stand wearing jeans and boots every hot summer day. I could see him striding with purpose down the walk between the outbuildings and the back door, coming in for a quick bite of lunch before returning to the fields for the afternoon.

I could see him bent over an ice cream churn behind the house, turning the handle for a solid twenty minutes until it got so difficult that we knew the ice cream was ready to eat. Uncles or cousins usually started the turning of the handle, until it got too hard and my dad took over. He was always the last to turn it because he was the strongest.

Those busy days. Those long days of long summers that somehow flew by in a wink. Amber magenta sunsets over the back fields. Fresh vegetables from the garden. Loyal dogs and adorable kittens. A random moo in the distance.

As I sat there in the car at the end of the lane, it didn’t take long for the tears to come. I knew they would. Like a movie trailer, these images of my dad played in my mind. The heavy emptiness of grief overtook me and I sobbed like a baby. I needed to.

I didn’t sit there long. I didn’t want a neighbor to drive by and stop. I didn’t want to explain to anyone that I was just sitting there, grieving for my dad and the farm and my childhood and a more innocent time.

I miss those days. I miss you, Dad.

Too close to home

A local newspaper newsroom is a dynamic, fun, exhausting, stressful, rewarding place to work. I had the privilege of working in one for about eleven years, beginning in the mid-80s. I was not a reporter and never wanted to be. It’s way too difficult and thankless. Long hours of hard work for not much pay, especially at small, hometown newspapers. But I did other jobs in the newsroom, including some for which I had no formal education or training going in.

I counted among my close friends several reporters and editors at the paper, since we spent so much time together working crazy hours that no nine-to-fiver would appreciate. While normal people slept, we were running around at deadline trying to get an accurate, informative, and well-designed paper to press so it would eventually land on doorsteps by dawn. Most nights we made it; some we didn’t. But rest assured, when we didn’t, we’d hear a chorus of complaints the next day from frustrated readers and disgruntled bosses.

Most readers have a love-hate relationship with their local paper. Our managing editor used to say: “People either love us or hate us because we report either the really good stuff that happens in their lives, or the really bad. Everything in between isn’t news.”

Demonizing the press has always been popular sport, but it’s reached new heights in our current political and social environment. When I hear people blame the media for everything in the world they don’t like, I immediately feel defensive. I remember sitting in daily meetings with editors who were deciding what would be on the front page the next day, and discussing stories in general. I heard them go round and round, debating how certain stories should be covered so that our readers would receive the most accurate and timely information. They truly cared about delivering fair and balanced news. They were good people who had no agenda. They wanted to hold public officials accountable for the good of the community. And they wanted to make sure marginalized citizens had a voice.

So when I heard yesterday that the newsroom of a community newspaper was the scene of the latest mass shooting, and that one of the five people murdered was a former colleague I had worked with, I was heartbroken. He was a newsman from the old school who loved his job as a sports reporter. He was “one of the sports guys” as we used to say in our newsroom.

Sooner or later, we will all lose someone we know to gun violence in this country. One day, it may be we who are lost to this epidemic. I mourn today with my former colleagues. Five more gone. Who’s next?


The big reveal!

Well, I did it! I completed the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living program and these are my results. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical before I started. But I found the program easy to follow, easy to live with, educational, and since I began seeing positive changes almost immediately, easy to stay with. In fact, so easy to stay with, this will be a lifestyle change for me. I can’t go back to feeling like I did before. This feels too good! Interested? Let me know in the comments.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

I used to share this truism with my clients all the time when they’d talk about being unhappy with themselves, another person, or a situation in their lives. They desperately wanted to see change, and they were frustrated that change wasn’t happening, even while they were doing absolutely nothing to bring about the change they wanted to see.

On May 21, I decided to take my own advice. I had always been intrigued by the idea of detoxing and wondered if some of the physical dysfunction of my body might be caused by what I was putting into it. The human body is an amazing machine, with an almost supernatural ability to adapt and heal itself. But the reality is that in our modern world, between pesticides, pollution, heavy metals, and other toxins in our environment, it’s tough to maintain a pristine diet for the body.

Add to that all the processed food that’s been manipulated by industry, fast food that’s just too convenient to pass up, and our general lack of knowledge of what our bodies need and in what quantities to run optimally… It’s a recipe for physical dysfunction and disease.

I’ve embarked on a 30-day detox/cleanse program with Arbonne’s 30 Days to Healthy Living. I’ve followed the program for over a week now, and I can honestly tell you I can’t remember feeling better in my adult life. Like you, I wondered if it was hype. I wondered if past detoxers were exaggerating when they said how amazing they felt. It’s not and they weren’t.

The first change I noticed was better, deeper sleep. Then I started dropping a little weight, and began feeling fewer aches and pains in my joints. The next thing I noticed was a satisfied and quiet gut. For most of my adult life, I’ve been coping with a temperamental tummy. It runs in my family and stress has always made it much worse. But for the time I’ve been on this Arbonne detox, my entire digestive system has been positively Zen-like. By the end of the 30 days, I’ll probably hear Buddhist monks chanting in my belly. It’s wonderful to eat a meal and not pay a price soon after. I’m still getting used to it.

And as if resetting my metabolism and digestive tract weren’t enough of a blessing, because I’m eating real food most of the time, I am learning how to choose and prepare food in ways that will keep me healthy and optimally functional way beyond the 30 days. This program comes with coaching, education, tips for eating out, meal plans, and a vast collection of recipes.

Intrigued? Ask me questions. A new Arbonne 30 group begins every first and third Monday of the month. The next one begins on June 4. And stay tuned, more updates to come….


Ready to detox

In recent years, studies have shown that inflammation in the human body either causes or contributes to all kinds of problems and illness. Everything from achy joints to bloated bellies to insomnia, feelings of fatigue, and mental sluggishness. Now there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that inflammation is also to blame, at least in part, for depression. Suicide rates in the U.S. tend to be higher in March, April, and May, which never made sense to me. A long-time sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I never understood why anyone would attempt suicide in the spring. But I saw an interview with a psychiatrist on the news last week and he said it’s likely due to increased inflammation brought on by allergies, which worsens symptoms of depression in many people. In fact, he said he has some patients for whom he increases their dosage of antidepressant during allergy season to help counteract the effect.

The typical American diet is crap for the most part, let’s just be honest about that. In general, most Americans consume WAY too much sugar, salt, chemicals, meat, alcohol, the list goes on. When you walk into your supermarket, just go down the cracker aisle, the snack aisle, the cereal aisle. You have literally hundreds of choices. Take Cheerios alone… do we really need 30 different kinds of Cheerios? (That’s not much of an exaggeration.) We have so many choices of food in this rich country of ours, which is great, but also dangerous. And unless they have some kind of serious food allergy or medical condition that makes it mandatory to read labels (such as migraines or diabetes), most people do not take the time to read labels so they understand what they’re putting in their bodies.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, even my 40s, I was pretty small. I wore a size 8 and on a good day, a size 6. However, menopause changed all that. As we get older, of course, our metabolism slows down.  It used to be that if I wanted a flat tummy by the weekend, I could just cut back on this or that food for a few days and I was good to go. Now my older, post-menopausal body says: “Hahahaha! Slow down there cowgirl, not so fast! It’s a new day for you, and we’re giving you some nice extra padding around your middle. Make peace with it because it’s here to stay.”

I kept trying to resign myself to the extra weight, figuring it’s just part of getting older, what can I do? But in the back of my mind, I kept wondering if it was inflammation. I knew certain foods did not like me. Take peanut butter, for example. I love peanut butter and being a vegetarian, as well as a little hypoglycemic, I would use peanut butter as a protein source to stabilize my blood sugar between meals. Once in a while, if I ate just a little, I could get away with it. But more often than not, I felt terrible after eating it. I felt bloated and kinda churny and just not good. Finally, one day I threw out the remainder. Just got in the cupboard, picked up the jar of Jiff and threw it in the trash. And here’s the really interesting thing…. For a while after I did that, every time I’d open that cupboard and look in and NOT see the jar of peanut butter sitting there, I’d immediately feel a sense of relief. Weird, right? It was like my body was telling me: “Thank God you threw that nasty stuff away! I’ve been trying to tell you!” So when I hear people say “listen to your body,” I know it’s really a thing.

On Monday, May 21, I’m starting a 30-day detox and cleanse using the Arbonne system. The program is designed to reset metabolism and decrease inflammation. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I am both excited and a little apprehensive about it. I do get to eat real food during the detox, so I’m happy not to have to subsist on lemon juice and vinegar for 30 days. Plus I’ve tried the Arbonne meal replacement shakes, the detox tea, and the energy drinks before and I know they’re delicious, so I’m not concerned that I’ll be having to hold my nose and choke anything down. I’m looking forward to feeling better once my body is detoxed and cleansed. And I will be posting periodic updates here to let you know how it’s going. Wish me luck and stay tuned…

Little girl scores big

On an elementary school playground in 1946, a 9-year-old girl was called away from her friends during recess to come back inside and take a test. She was told that once she finished the test, she could go back outside and resume her play. So as most 9-year-olds would, she blew through the test so she could rejoin her friends.

Turns out it was an IQ test and that little girl scored at the genius level. That little girl is my mom.

Having grown up in a small town, Mom had always wanted to marry a farmer. After completing her first year of college, she dropped out to do just that.

To live the farming life, you must be unfalteringly optimistic. You must love hard work and long hours, and you must make peace with deep dark debt. When I was young, people would often ask me: “So, are you going to marry a farmer when you grow up?” I always answered “No” and thought to myself: Either you’re insane or you think I am. My mom puts it more diplomatically: “Farming is not a good living, but it’s a good life.”

Mom found solace in her garden and companionship in books. In the spring and summer months, she’d spend most days hunkered down in her enormous garden, between rows of vegetables, weeding, tending, monitoring. As I got older, I traded helping in the garden for helping in the house. I stayed inside to cook and clean while Mom grew browner under the hot summer sun. (Later in life, I got skin cancer while she never did. Go figure.)

A voracious reader since childhood, Mom would escape within the pages of novels every chance she got. Among most people in my parents’ orbit, it was considered elitist to read for pleasure and at times, she was openly ridiculed for doing so. While this confused her, it never deterred her from continuing to feed her intellect with books.

For me, it took therapy and simple growing up to learn to appreciate my mom as a person. It’s quite liberating when you finally begin to view your parents as fallible human beings just like everyone else. While I was away at college, I crossed over from Mom being just mom to Mom being close friend.

There is no other relationship you’ll ever have quite like that with mom. It can be dicey, conflicting, amazing… sometimes all in the same conversation. Today, there isn’t anyone my husband and I enjoy spending time with more than my mom. She is a wonderful conversationalist with a quick wit and a wide array of interests. She loves Captain Morgan and Captain Kirk and can tell an off-color joke as easily as anyone. She is open-minded, loving, loyal, and not afraid of honesty.

Last month, we celebrated Mom’s 81st birthday. As she approaches the final chapters of her story, she is more content these days than she’s ever been. Set free and fully in charge, she is living a life she loves, surrounded by good friends and family when she chooses, and retreating into her privacy of books and crossword puzzles whenever she wants.

The little girl who scored big on that IQ test back in 1946 could have pursued any career she chose. She could have excelled in academia, married (or not) a fellow genius, traveled the world, lectured before awestruck audiences…. She wanted to marry a farmer and have children. Thanks, Mom, I love you. You’re the best. Happy Mother’s Day!

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