Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Inspirational Deborah Lane Whalon

I’d known Debbie for many years, but only really got to know her during the last few. A few of my lifetime friends are her lifetime friends; our paths began to cross with regularity more recently, and enough for me to be forever grateful for that exposure.

The word ‘inspiration’ has been used a lot lately among our friends with regard to Debbie – and it’s true, but in more ways than we think. Even the best words can be inadequate when the full meaning behind them becomes lost in translation by overuse and simplified definitions.

I looked up the meaning of ‘inspiration’ and found a few, with slight differences: “A force or influence that inspires someone. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. A divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.”

The first definition is the most simplified. That is the definition we relate to first when we hear or see something that causes us to smile in surprise or awe; when we are shown the good in the bad, or a light in the darkness. I’m going to take the liberty and combine the last two parts of the definitions for the deeper meaning: Inspiration is the divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind and soul that stimulates one to feel something and act on it in some way.

This is what Debbie did. She brought a tribe together, and she will always be there to hold it together. Everyone around her took action in some way, ostensibly for her, but in actuality for all of us together because we are the ones who will continue to benefit from it from now on. Everything we think we did for Debbie at the time served to bring us out of our own selves and closer with each other. Through Debbie, we are more connected.

We post on social media about what our lives are full of. Debbie’s Facebook posts showed that her life to her was more than just about cancer. She incorporated it into her life because she had to, but only allowed it to take up so much space. She never let it define who she was or consume her.

(I have to take a moment to stand up for Debbie here. She had been accused of exposing her illness on Facebook for attention and sympathy, and it bothered her enough to bring it up a few times. To her accusers, let me remind you of one impact of social media: many of us use it frequently, posting pictures and interacting regularly. This actually imposes an odd responsibility in certain cases; someone who posts frequently would get a lot of attention if they just ‘disappeared’ from it - people would start asking questions and making assumptions publicly. There would also be public commentary if pictures showed drastic changes in a person’s appearance. Debbie’s ‘announcement’ nipped the likelihood of that open speculation and scrutiny in the bud, and she did it matter-of-factly, with class.

And to those that could really make that assumption of another in general: you may want to take a look at your own motivations if you truly believe that someone would want to suffer hardship as a means of gain.)

Debbie spoke her mind. She was one of the few people that could actually surprise me with what came out of her mouth. Even if we disagreed, I loved and appreciated her straightforwardness in her beliefs.

Visiting her in the hospital was eye-opening.

(This part, what I’m trying to say right here, is what I’m having the hardest time writing – the part that has had me sitting in front of my computer for hours today alone, and what has prevented me from writing this sooner because I’m afraid I can’t convey what I want to say to the full extent.)

For all intents and purposes, I was visiting a dear friend in the hospital who was very sick – but that’s not what I encountered when I got there. Yes, she was visibly ill, but if you took away all the trappings and signs of that illness, you had Debbie – or even Debbie 2.0. Even sitting in that hospital bed she was still a presence, a force, who seemed to get more of her life done in those few hours than I do in a day. It was almost like Debbie wasn’t sick; she just had many things to attend to and this was only one of them. There are many sayings about inner strength and what causes it to be revealed, but I saw more than that. Her inner strength wasn’t developed by tragic circumstances - it was more like what happens with diamonds, when the pressure brings out the shine of a divinity (yes, I’m using that word, too) that was already there.

And because I still cannot find words that I am happy with, I will rely on the phrase “awe inspiring”. She shone.

I briefly got to witness her interaction with her husband Scott for a little while (I had never met him before). In that short time I saw so many facets of their relationship, of their togetherness and love and mutual support. We talked about her son Tyler, too. Everything they say about a mother’s love was right there in front of me. Tyler, that kind of love will always be there for you.

Scott and Tyler shared Debbie’s last days here with everyone else. (That generosity will never be forgotten.) Even then, while heavily medicated, she made efforts to acknowledge her visitors. I can’t personally consider those obvious efforts a struggle because it was just more of Debbie’s own determination taking charge. It was … impressive.

I’m not the type of person to go to a cemetery to visit someone who’s passed; I visit them whenever I think of them. After the first anniversary of a loved one’s death I ‘forget’ the date and only celebrate their date of birth; this helps to ensure that my memories are happy and my heart is grateful. For me, to dwell on the saddest part of someone’s life does both of us a disservice. A life is full of so much more than what happens at the end. It is human tendency to avoid thinking about what makes us sad; by keeping my thoughts and memories on the happy, I keep them at the forefront of my thoughts – and keep those people with me, all the time. The pictures I save and display are usually of those people in their prime and at the peak of health so that I always think of them that way.

I have pictures of me and Debbie, both before and during her illness. In an unusual turn for me, my favorites are the ones of us together when she was presumably at her worst - pictures taken in the hospital, when she’s not wearing makeup or a hat to cover the hair loss of chemotherapy - because what I felt when I was with her then … what see in her eyes and her smile in those pictures … is Debbie at her most beautiful, her most divine.

And that is truly inspiring.

During my last visit to Debbie while she was in the hospital, she had asked me if I would write her story with her. She mentioned a few things that she wanted me to write about (again, more than just illness), and we set up a plan for how to go about it. That was barely three weeks ago, and two weeks later she was gone … but I am not writing this without her, nor will this be the last piece she influenced – or, rather, inspired.

Thank you Debbie, for the ‘more’ you showed me .

Deborah Lane Whalon
May 31, 1966 - August 7, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Friends of a Lifetime

I have some very special friends. This year most of us are turning 50 and, as with any milestone birthday, this year comes with a lot of reflection.

Tomorrow, Maryann is taking the plunge. I met Maryann when we were just turning 14, our freshman year of high school in 1981. She sat in front of me in Mr. DeJesus’ Portuguese class, and we were in choir together. I lived vicariously through Maryann – she was so much more ‘worldly’ than I was at that age. After high school we worked together at Sears Surplus; I loved it because we were older and my ‘leash’ was longer once I moved away from home, and I did things with her. She is one solid friend. I think that’s the word that I keep thinking of. When I think about all the things she had to listen to from me … and she still talks to me. She was also the biggest supporter of me following my dreams and writing, even when I pushed it aside.

Next week, Stephanie is jumping into the next decade. I met Stephanie through my first ex in 1992, and was fortunate enough to win her in the divorce. She thinks I’m a nerd and calls me “Adrian” after Talia Shire’s character in Rocky. I like to think it’s just because of the glasses, but she says it’s more than that. Despite that, she knows that she and I are a lot alike. And she still likes me.

I’ll be next, in October (I’ve talked about that enough already, and will do more talking about that later).

Then, in November, it’s Donna’s turn. Donna has been with me since 1973 – I’ve said a lot about her here already, and still haven’t said enough. And she’s pretty much stuck with me (I know too much).

TWENTY YEARS AGO (I love saying that!) we tried to all get together for our 30th birthdays. We smoked cigars to mark the occasion. Donna wasn’t able to make it, but our friend Kim was.

Three friends, from three different periods of my life. All here with me now.

Have you ever ‘mixed’ your friends like that? Do you know how really fun it is to see your friends meet your friends? And how amazing an opportunity it is?

These girls are lifetime friends of mine.

I think about my daughters and their friends, watching who comes and goes and who stays. I hear the same angst in their conversations that I had when I was younger, but now with all this time passed I’m not worried about them and can only reassure them that it will get better as they get older. It takes the age and experience to begin to see the bigger picture about what really matters, and who. Friendships aren’t planned; they happen, and sometimes you don’t even see the beginning until you’re well into it.

I am well ‘into it’ now. And I can look around me and see the wonderful group of people I’m surrounded by. At this age (I love saying that, too!), there are new friends in the picture, too – but they’re not really ‘new’ because I’ve known them for a long time. We built a history together without even realizing it, just by being there, even with the ins and outs and sideways turns of life. Our paths keep crossing.

Whether or not I get to see them a lot, or only a little, I have years’ worth of reminders that make me think of them – probably more regularly than they think. As a part of my history, they are a part of me (the good parts).

Maryann, someday I hope to show you fully how much you mean to me, because I don’t feel that I have adequately. You are still my date for the Oscars when I win Best Screenplay (even if it’s not for my sequel of Mary Poppins).

Stephanie, there’s so much I can’t (and won’t) say here. You know I love you.


Happy 50th Birthday, my lifetime friends. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Music for the Massholes (Commonwealth Ave. Construction “Carmageddon 2017” Playlists)

Yesterday’s Globe article written by Sara Salinas opened with the line, “The message from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is clear: Stay home Monday if you can.” A warning about the impact the construction on Commonwealth Ave. is having on the 'regular' traffic.

As if we can.

While some have said at today’s end that the traffic wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it still wasn’t good.

I sat in that traffic for quite some time this morning, and I was only just going through Boston headed north. I’m one of the lucky ones; I actually enjoy driving, even in traffic – especially now with my brand new car stereo I received as an early 50th birthday gift (Thank you, Dad!).

(No, that doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed with traffic; it just takes me a little longer to get annoyed.)

During the part of my commute I was actually enjoying, sitting there listening to my music playing loud and drinking my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, I began to feel bad for the other drivers who clearly weren’t having as good a time as I was.

I came up with a few ideas for music playlists to help ease the extra-heavy commute. Yes, a few – didn’t I mention I was sitting there for quite some time?

The first playlist is the most obvious; the one that mocks the situation, using every song with car, driving, waiting, stuck, etc. references. There is no particular order because you will have plenty of time to listen to each one. Twice.

1.      Highway to Hell – ACDC
2.      Can’t Get There From Here – R.E.M.
3.      Driving My Life Away – Eddie Rabbitt
4.      Traffic Jam – James Taylor
5.      I Can’t Drive 55 – Sammy Hagar
6.      Red Light – Donna Summer
7.      Pull Up to the Bumper – Grace Jones
8.      Turn the Page – Bob Seger
9.      Rush Hour – Jane Wiedlin
10.  No Time Left For You – The Guess Who
11.  Wait – White Lion
12.  Faithfully - Journey
13.  Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
14.  Drive – The Cars
15.  I Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper
16.  Four’s a Traffic Jam – Peaches and Herb
17.  Gridlock – Warren Zevon
18.  Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
19.  I’m Late – The White Rabbit (Disney’s Alice in Wonderland)
20.  Vehicle – The Ides of March
21.  Traffic Jam – “Weird Al” Yankovic
22.  No Parking on the Dance Floor – Midnight Star
23.  On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
24.  Home Sweet Home – Motely Crue
25.  Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
26.  Drive My Car – The Beatles

Another playlist idea is the Earworm Playlist. One of these songs is bound to get stuck in your head and annoy you so much that you’ll forget about the traffic (it's sort of like stepping hard on someone's foot to make them forget their headache):

1.      Tom’s Diner – Suzanne Vega
2.      Mahna Mahna – The Muppets
3.      The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
4.      Hooked on a Feeling (OOGA CHUCKA) – Blue Swede
5.      Who Let the Dogs Out – Baha Men
6.      Whoomp (There It Is) – Tag Team
7.      Hakuna Matata – Timon and Pumbaa (Disney’s The Lion King)
8.      Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
9.      Mambo #5 – Lou Bega
10.  Happy – Pharrel
11.  Gangnam Style - Psy
12.  Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
13.  Somebody that I used to Know – Gotye
14.  I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
15.  Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
16.  Copacabana – Barry Manilow
17.  Bad Boys – Inner Circle
18.  Fish Heads – Barnes and Barnes
19.  Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers
20.  Tarzan Boy – Baltimora
21.  Da Da Da –Trio
22.  Macarena – Los Del Rio
23.  Mickey – Toni Basel
24.  867-5309 (Jenny) – Tommy Tutone
25.  What Does The Fox Say – Ylvis

This next playlist encourages you to make friends with the people in the cars around you. I call it The Singalong Playlist. Before it gets too hot and people turn the AC on, they will be driving with their windows down. What better way to say “Hello!” and cheer up someone’s day than in inviting them to sing along with you? Roll down your windows and make sure your music is good and loud so you can share it easily. An added benefit is that some of them double as earworm!

1.      Can’t Smile Without You – Barry Manilow
2.      My Girl – The Temptations
3.      Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond (Hell, we’re in Boston!)
4.      867-5309 (Jenny) Tommy Tutone
5.      Don’t Stop Believing - Journey
6.      Macarena – Los Del Rio
7.      Mickey – Toni Basil
8.      Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
9.      Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
10.  Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers
11.  Mony Mony – Tommy James and the Shondells (or Billy Idol’s version)
12.  Copacabana – Barry Manilow
13.  Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
14.  Hakuna Matata – Timon and Pumbaa (Disney’s The Lion King)
15.  Mahna Mahna – The Muppets
16.  Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
17.  We Will Rock You/ We are the Champions – Queen
18.  Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
19.  Mr. Roboto – Styx (Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!)
20.  Tubthumping – Chumbawumba
21.  The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
22.  Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
23.  Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses
24.  Africa – Toto
25.  American Pie – Don McLean

I’m sure you can think of more; the ‘80s was filled with earworm, and how many songs do you know have the word ‘Cruisin’ in the title? If you didn’t get home too late tonight you have time to upload a nice playlist to your MP3 player before you get out there again tomorrow.

A few extra suggestions: Wear your seatbelts. Drive safely. Use your blinkers – and use them properly: turn them on and then look first before changing lanes (the two actions are not supposed to happen simultaneously). Go before you go; nothing makes traffic more uncomfortable than a full bladder (and don’t load up on the coffee or water).

Of course, these are all just suggestions. Make traffic fun, or not – either way you’ll still be sitting in it. Like Guns N Roses sang, “All we need is just a little patience.”

And just think how much easier the normal rush hour commute will be in 3 weeks. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

To Help or Not to Help? That is the (stupid) Question.

As part of my job, I visit stores that carry my company’s product. Today I was in a store and had to wait while the employee waited on another customer. Also in the store was another man who was yelling to anyone who would listen that he was pissed with the store owner (who wasn’t there) for not refunding his money on something he purchased that he wasn’t happy with. He was yelling, and continued to yell while the employee was waiting on the other customer.

[That description of the ‘disgruntled’ customer was an extreme understatement for purposes of brevity. This was more than the annoying person who calls customer service to complain.]

After the first customer left, and while the irate customer was still carrying on the employee motioned me over to take the collateral I brought for him and rushed me out of the store.

Something inside of me told me I should call for help.

And I hesitated.


I’m not a person who ‘profiles’ certain people, nor am I the kind of person to assume anything because of a geographical – but I am a former bar owner/manager, and have seen my share of fights. You know when you can handle them, and you know when you need help; however, there are some instances where it is not as easy to tell, when a situation looks like it can be diffused but then suddenly takes a different direction. I’ve seen enough bar fights to recognize the signs of that, too.
This particular situation toed that line of getting to a point of no return. When the employee rushed me out of the store, I saw a look on his face that I couldn’t understand; it could have been fear, annoyance, or get-the-hell-out-before-something-happens.

Whatever it was, I did not feel right leaving him alone in the store with that agitated customer. I went back to my car (which was a few feet away from and visible to the door) and picked up my phone to call the police.

So, why did I hesitate? There were a number of reasons, and none of them valid when stacked against the ‘what if’.

What if it was nothing – or, what if I was overreacting?

Something in my gut got my attention. Just because I’m a girl and have been accused of overreacting enough times that I’d be a gazillionnaire “if I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me”, that is not reason enough to ignore that nagging feeling that this situation was rapidly nearing that point of no return.

I don’t want to bother the police if it turns out to be nothing – they’ve got plenty to do.

But what if it’s not ‘nothing’?

What business wants the police showing up?


If this was nothing, how would it reflect on the employee? Would this get him in trouble?

There are so many different ways this could impact him negatively if the situation turned out to be harmless.

I had all of these thoughts going through my head while I sat in the car for that minute, watching what was going on inside the store. He was still gesturing wildly and yelling; the employee was on the phone (probably trying to call his boss).

I did not feel right just leaving. I actually got out of the car to go back into the store – why? I have no idea what I thought I could do. And while I was outside looking in, I called someone to ask if I should call the police.

Why? My gut was already telling me not to leave it alone!

My friend told me they had been in the same situation and that ‘someone’ had ended up calling the police, so it worked out.

“Someone?” What the hell? Who? In this particular situation, who exactly would that ‘someone’ be? The employee was in the store alone with that guy; if he didn’t - or couldn’t - call, who would? That response was so laughably unhelpful – basically telling me not to worry about it, that someone else would – that I made up my mind immediately and hung up on him to call the police.

Calling that person may have been the best thing for me to do, if only because it helped me make up my mind. Who the hell advises someone else to let someone else worry about a situation that you can see?

I don’t know how it turned out; the police came before I left. I didn’t want to stick around to see if I called them unnecessarily because I was already angry at myself for my indecision to take steps to help someone who could have been in need.

I’m still polluted - with myself. The bottom line is that I witnessed a situation that my own experience told me could have gotten out of control, and I hesitated to take action because I worried about the negative backlash  - that wouldn’t have even affected me – if I was wrong. What kind of society did I grow up in that I would question my urge to get help if I felt someone needed it? Do I need to make sure someone is bleeding first?

I’m glad I called the police. Even if it was for nothing. I never would have been able to forgive myself if their help had been needed.

I don’t care anymore about being wrong about assessing a possible ‘situation’. What matters now is making sure I’ve done what I could to help, even if it’s only in case I was right – and even if it’s only once. If I put the shoe on the other foot … what would I have wanted another person to do? It should never matter on the outcome.  All lives are valuable, and I will not make decisions that basically sum up what amounts to be judgment of the value of another’s. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Exposing the Bully

We all know what a terrorist is. In one of my blogs I referred to terrorists as ‘bullies’ because changing the name can change the perception; ‘terrorist’ seems so big and scary, and ‘bully’ seems a little … smaller, more manageable. In that case, the exchange of the words can be helpful when it comes to managing emotions and levels of fear.

However – and for the same reason of acknowledging and using the power behind words – I’m going to flip it around: a bully is a terrorist. While the motivation behind their actions may be different, their goal is the same: to coerce or intimidate another person or person(s) with the use of violence and/or threats.

They are the same, except for one difference; the terrorist is open in the attack and the bully operates under some cover of secrecy. The schoolyard bully never beats a child up for lunch money in front of a teacher; cyberbullying is not usually posted on Facebook and is instead directed to one party; and stalking is usually done under cover of night. All of these forms of harassment are shrouded in secrecy – unless the target of the harasser comes forward.

That should be it, right? But is it? Most of the time the people who are the victims of harassment will not speak out about it, and the reasons are endless. Most people don’t like to be called a ‘snitch’ – which, in my humble opinion, is the vilest form of victim-shaming; someone does something to you, and you are made out to be wrong for reporting it? We really have things ass-backwards here, don’t we?

Another reason is simple embarrassment; admitting to being bullied opens the door to exposing the same secrets or threats the bully is using to victimize, and no one wants to air their dirty laundry, do they? Certainly no one else on the planet has any. This is victim-shaming by the victim him or herself. What would other people say about me if they knew this? This reasoning doubles the harasser’s power; he’s doing it to you, and you are doing it to yourself.

And then there’s the common response of “It’s not so bad” (because no one is physically bleeding?). We think that something like this is small in the grand scheme of things; therefore, we should be able to take care of it ourselves. Even if we were to go so far as to take legal action, we would be made aware that so many other worse things are going on that this seems trivial; this thinking is validated by either/both of sitting in a courtroom while you wait your turn and listening to real issues or not feeling like the police or judge are taking you seriously enough because “nothing has happened yet.”
(And in typical ass-backward fashion, when something does happen we react with “Why wasn’t something done sooner?”)

How do I know this? Because I sat in a courtroom for two hours (plus an hour for a break) the other day to get a harassment order against someone.

I am being bullied. In fact, my whole family is.

Another party has taken their simple dislike for us from unkind letters a few years ago, to an actual threat last year, to attempting to force self-humiliation under threat of certain exposure by reaching out to extended family members, friends and acquaintances in the past two months. The latest attacks have come with no participation or communication of any kind from any of us for a year.

Is this embarrassing to me? Of course it is. No one wants to be a part of anything like this. Then I wonder why it is embarrassing. I’m not doing it. And I realize that I’m also getting old enough that what other people think of me matters less and less.

It is a shame that it happens that way; that we need to get older to un-condition ourselves from silly beliefs. I may not publicize my ‘skeletons’, but I do try to move past them – and I’ll be damned if I let someone else undo that progress that I’ve made by attempting to use them to control me in a way that I won’t allow on my own.

Like I said before, a bully’s power is contained in the secrecy of his actions (his secrecy and the keeping quiet by the target). When we were first threatened with “war” I had said I will not fight. If I were fighting now, I would be naming names (although names are mentioned where it counts.) What I am doing now is exposing the harassment, taking the lid off, and circling my wagons. Disarming the weapon of secrecy. There is now record of this behavior.

Secrecy hurts. Keeping the lid on can cause a person to alter their way of life and then isolate and withdraw. Am I going to spend my time second-guessing every move I make for fear of another finding some way to twist it around to hurt me? NO FUCKING WAY.

My family is delightfully dysfunctional. Are any of us perfect? I stand at the front, speaking for myself when I say, “NO WAY!” But we love each other, I cherish all of them, and I don't take kindly to threats of any kind made against any of them - particularly my daughter. 

To all of you out there: Should any of you receive mail/emails/postcards that suggest in rather crude and vulgar fashion that I have had sex, don’t be surprised - this is what's going on. Besides, I have had sex. Even better than what was so nicely described in an email to my parents, my siblings, and my daughter.  (Note that I have offspring; you can pretty well rest assured that I have had sex.)

I've also made quite a few mistakes. I've even done stupid things. 

If you are offered any kind of monetary offering for any of the above type of information about me or my family, take it. Everyone can use a few extra bucks. As far as I’ve heard, the starting price is $100. Ask for more; the terrorist is well-funded. (You may need a PayPal account.)

To you, the terrorist: you said, “WAR. My mind, my time, my wealth aimed at YOU. Get ready!” Fine. You have your resources; this is me using mine. 

You can make me a target, but you cannot make me a victim.

Monday, April 24, 2017

When Life Hands You Lemons – And the Lemonade Makes Itself

The other day someone very close to me received a vile, deliberately hurtful piece of mail from a person who has chosen to self-exclude from a group we were all once part of. The timing of the mailing coincided with a particularly trying time in her life, seeming to be an intentional ‘kicking of the dog when he’s down’.

The level of animosity from that camp is no longer a surprise thanks to a particularly venomous attack last year; the only surprise now is the random arrows continually thrown even after periods of quiet.

When I heard about the ‘card’ she received, I felt terrible for her, because I didn’t want her hurting any more than she already was. I immediately came up with an idea for a video-chat ‘bonfire’ (she’s too far away for me to be there in person) where we could ceremoniously burn the offense and let its smoke dissipate up into the Universe, while the ashes would disperse and lose their collective sting. She wasn’t quite ready for that, and that was okay.

Today, I got my own piece of fan-mail from the other party; it was the same exact card my friend got. I found out shortly afterward that other members of our group did, too.

This is the lemon: that someone we were once close with did not only withdraw totally from us but is also so consciously hateful towards us and so purposely mean.

I learned after the last attack that I’d grown somewhat; while I was still sorry things worked out the way they did, I did not react as angrily as I was capable of. That was me making my own lemonade out of the situation.

This time?

This time the lemonade made itself - when I realized there was a lot of good that I could see about this:

I was happy that I got the same card! It mitigated the sting of what appeared to be the ‘singling out’ of my friend.

While I am blown away at the depth of the hostility, I am no longer angry at it. This/these person(s) have the right to feel however they choose. I realized that the adage about other people’s opinions not needing to matter to me is true. People will always think and say what they want – just as I reserve the right to. The only thing I have control over is my own reaction.

My reaction. I have a teensy reputation for snark in some of my closer circles; when loud anger and swearing doesn’t do the trick, I rely on heavy sarcasm--.

--And this blog entry would have had quite a different tone. I mean, really. While I did have small moments of snark – I mean, this card proved that I matter, because if I really didn’t care about someone else I would never invest in the purchase of a card and stamp or the time in writing out the note and delivering it to the post office, and this person did all that for me.

I could have even utilized my crafty skills to repurpose the card into a dart board, and blogged about how good it feels to hit targets (even by proxy).

But even those small lapses weren’t thought with the same force they would have had a year ago, or two years ago, or three … 

They weren’t comforting thoughts, either – because there was no need for comfort. I am not hurt. I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how reactionary I don’t feel.

There is even a small part of me that is concerned that someone else is wasting their time and energy on such negativity. They must really be miserable; I’m sorry for that. I know what anger and hate can do to me, and I’m glad to be out of my own worst self.

I did use my crafty skills with the card though. When I realized that someone else’s intention to hurt me only served to reveal a level of growth and peace within myself I hadn’t realized – when I realized I got the lemons AND the lemonade at the same time – it HAD TO BE commemorated:

Yes, I actually smile when I look at it.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

For What It's Worth

I’ve mentioned before that this will be the last year of my blog – well, of this particular blog – because before the end of the year I will not be a 40-something anything. Before I start that chapter of my life, I’m celebrating all that led up to it.

In re-reading my own history here, I found many recurring themes and commentaries – my own philosophies, I suppose (I guess I agree that I’m old enough to say I have them – at least in numerical age. Lol. Thank you, Terry and Amy!). Because of that, this blog is currently being turned into two books; one that will be published before my biggest birthday, and one afterwards (you’ll be hearing more about that one later, during the competition in which it is entered).

When I started this, I had no idea what I was doing with it. I had no plans other than to just write at least somewhat regularly. I wrote about silly things, I wrote about my opinions (are they the same thing?), my feelings, and how I felt about what I was feeling (and how that made me feel). I wrote about my friends, my hair, and my nails. And I exposed myself.

I saw patterns in what I wrote. I have to say there are a few entries that I’m actually proud of. I saw certain themes repeating themselves in many different-yet-connected ways – ideas that I realized I still had much more to say about.  

The book that was going to be a collection of my blogs under the title “The Most of a 40-something Breck Girl” (I couldn’t call it “The Best of”!) has now developed into a collection of essays – same bluntness (crudeness?) and a little less self-indulgence – that show the many levels of connectedness in all of us and in our ‘issues’ that I see.

The other book is more a celebration of age – which is why my birthday is the publication date goal. Age, aging, and ageism are the themes – with my own ridiculous spin on them. I am very excited about turning 50 this year, and still planning a roller-skating party – y’all are invited!

 - Do any of you understand how hard it is for me, THE Birthday Fairy, to share MY big birthday with nearly every single one of my friends? Everyone is turning 50 this year! Jeez!

(^ example of previously mentioned self-indulgence.)

Writing my blog has given me an outlet for expression and has allowed me to tie up a few things for myself. It’s allowed me my own personal validation – as in, “I did it!” In going through the many pages of it I’ve managed to tie together a few things for myself, as well, and got a sense of direction for where to go next.

I talk things out regularly to myself (and to anyone within earshot). That talking (and talking, and talking) and my writing here have brought so many things together for me beautifully.

Comments left here by friends and dissenters (friendly and otherwise), have only added to my happiness with what I’ve done here – for me. Thank you, all of you.

I was actually having a problem with the idea of changing my blog. I love the 40-something Breck Girl, and I was worried about losing her - but I’m not; she is coming with me. My next two books are celebrating the hot mess that she is, a girl that I’m very proud of.

Between now and October, I’ll probably be writing about all of the tie-ins that I saw in my previous blogs and expanding them further (in my own, inimitable way) as a sort of pre-write. First draft?

Or, I may just talk about my hair some more. Working on these two book projects is fun, but I don’t want to lose sight of this moment in preparation for the next. I tend to get carried away - I’m already aware that I feel the need to counteract any ‘seriousness’ in my upcoming books with some type of ridiculousness afterward.

(Which, again, means don’t expect anything of me.)

I have to watch myself with my ‘now and later’ train of thought. This has been a fun ride – but it is still a fun ride. All endings are beginnings are endings are beginnings. As soon as we go down that first hill on the rollercoaster, we are looking at the next one before we even have a chance to catch our breath.

It is a fun ride. All of it. And before I get too carried away on the next lift, I want to stop for a moment and look around me to see and enjoy the faces of those who are on this ride with me, so we can enjoy it all together.

Time to grab the bar.