naming mistakes…

Monica Gellar’s parents aren’t known for esteeming her life choices. In one episode, when Monica is beginning to (finally) feel like her mom may have some faith in her, after all, when her mom reminds her that they expect failure from her.

She charmingly refers to it as pulling a Monica.

It basically means: screwing up.

Mistakes and struggles Monica may have known were seen as dismissive and typical, by her family. These were the antics they expected of her…

Ever the faithful friend and advocate, one of Monica’s best friends Phoebe declares that from this moment on, “pulling a Monica” would mean successful and good things.

I LOVE seedless red grapes! In fact, one of my favorite meals is a bowl of these gems of antioxidant goodness paired with cubed chunks of cheese. So good!

Additionally, red grapes are my favorite side dish, a preferred late night snack and far more tasty than any packaged chocolate bar.

One evening I was having a “working dinner.” My husband was away, on a business trip and I had a looming press deadline. My rumbling stomach had led me to grab this delectable go-to grape & cheese dinner and retreat to my office.

There I sat, alternatingly plopping grapes and cheese into my mouth as I typed away. I was so in the zone that it took a couple of chews to realize my mouth was harboring a slimy, possibly fuzzy and altogether revoltingly mushy grape.

I’m not going to lie- I totally threw up.

A few times…

I couldn’t eat anything else, that evening, and possibly well into the next day. Whenever I would remember that heinous atrocity, my stomach would send out tremors to shake throughout my entire body.

For awhile, the sight of grapes made me cringe, but eventually my love of them one out and I’m proud to say that I am once again a grape eater, though I am much more thorough about checking and washing them…

One bad grape did not ruin them for me. While I will likely never forget the horror of that one, it was only one.

One.

Instead, I learned to alter my own behavior regarding the fresh fruit I eat.

~

At some point, for some odd reason (possibly, maybe tied to the show Will & Grace?) the basic, middle aged, difficult, American-white-woman became known as a “Karen.” It probably began as some social media moment of ranted-sarcasm that caused viral laughter, thus a trend was born.

Was one terrible woman actually named Karen deserving of her vile behavior become a pop culture mockery? Perhaps.

I’ve encountered many, many women who would fit into this label, especially when working retail. This sort of delightful peach goes back much farther than the birth of the Karen meme.

They are so frustrating, I KNOW. To be honest though, I’ve never encountered one named Karen.

Not one.

Last week our 63 year old neighbor saw us walking our golden retriever Elenor. She adores Elenor and was so excited, as she began crossing the street towards us. And then, instantly she was face first, on the ground, in the middle of the road. This woman, who cared more about making sure her friends were safe, not sad, not hungry or going without anything during the pandemic. This kind woman who lives alone and has devoted her life to taking in senior rescue dogs that have come from horrific neglect and abuses. She nurtures them, loves them and insures the rest of their days are spent somewhere safe where bowls are full, beds are plush and loving kindness is plenty. When they pass on, she grieves them because they were her heart, and then she opens her door again.

This beautiful heart gets up from her grieving losses, from her face-first street falls, and she smiles and showers love on Elenor anyway. She leaves special gifts on our doorstep and puts such a light into our quiet neighborhood.

This beautiful soul of a neighbor is Karen.

~

Through a chain of events, about a year ago, I was lucky enough to be connected with a lovely Canadian woman as she was enduring the death of her mother.

Her soul, cavernous and longing for the woman who gave her life, poured her own raw grief out into poetic and aching words filled with so much love. Love for the woman she’d lost, but also love for those of us hurting, who read her words. Such genuine transparence etched itself into the grieving hearts of these readers.

Into me…

This woman, who I am now so incredibly lucky to call friend, has taught me so much about grace, love, authenticity, faith and a hundred-thousand-trillion other vital things.

While my own name is merely a weather condition, envied by none, this beautiful soul’s name means PURE, and this is one hundred percent accurate because she absolutely is.

Karen means PURE.

In my 44 years, on this earth, I have known many Karens, and every single one of them have left marks of humanity and heart on the people lucky enough to know them.

Perhaps you don’t know Karens like the ones I’ve known… Think of the kindest and most worthy woman you’ve known. Perhaps a grandmother, or the sweet neighbor who always baked your favorite cookies and taught you to watercolor. Whoever this spirit is- give her a moment of space and honor in your mind… There is so much power and peace when we take a moment to reflect, honoring women who have shaped us in good ways, isn’t there?

Now, imagine the heroin’s name is an insult.

For being pure, raw, tender and honest women who love, and do it well, their very identity is a joke.

Everytime we call some awful, mean white woman a “karen”, we tarnish the names of women who are nothing like her. Women who are anything but basic. Everytime we use their name, we HURT them. We HURT their children and the people who love them. Doesn’t it kind of seem like that might be uglier behavior than the ridiculous way the “Karen” in question behaved? Who is the jerk now? We are.

When I was younger, if we were venting about the mean customer at the counter, we simply referred to her as a bitch. Feminism has shown us that if we want men to respect us and stop minimizing women into little labels of cruelty, then we need to set the example and not do things like calling other women derogatory names either.

Derogatory names, like bitch.

I’ve got to say though, if we are incapable of not labelling women like this something that conveys exactly how terrible they are, in that one word, then isn’t the vulgarity a kinder option? Isn’t it kinder to say the words “I had a customer today who was such a bitch, and here’s what she did…” rather than victimizing innocent women, their legacies and reputations because of one difficult woman’s selfishness.

Maybe it’s just me though… One day I hope there’s a world where we don’t need to exploit the behavior of someone for laughs and likes and sensationalism. One day I hope people resort to kindness and don’t inspire that reaction. This isn’t the world we live in, and so I simply have to ask if we can get some perspective when it comes to the actual Karens of the world…

The actual blondes, who aren’t ditzy.

The Black women who are beautiful and brilliant and inspiring.

The single moms who work hard and are not lazy or easy.

Can we just decide today, right now, to intentionally see people and stop this lazy minimization? Can we agree that one bad piece of fruit is incapable of destroying the whole orchard?

A powerful thing…

A million years ago, we crossed into a new millennium.

I found myself a twenty-three year old divorcee with a trail of miscarriages, health issues and heartbreak in the jet streams behind me. Because I’d become a wife so young, and essentially achieved grown-up status as a child, in many ways it felt like I was beginning my life again.

With all of the change, why not add in my first solo-cross country move? I took a position in rural Kentucky and a Greyhound took me on the thirty-six hour adventure to my new life.

Prior to this unexpected chapter, I had always been the girl who prided herself on having an easier time forming friendships with guys, over girls. Sure, I’d had girlfriends, but I found it so much easier to be real with my guy friends. And then, suddenly I was in my new life, making new connections and friendships.

FORTUNATELY for me, the housing situation paired me with the sweetest girl, who I am still so grateful to call one of my dearest friends. Because we worked such long, and often opposite, schedules- it wasn’t super regular that we hung out. Quite often, the early foundation of our friendship was laid, brick by brick, around our shared kitchen table over Kraft mac and cheese, with music videos in the background and generic soda. We learned not only to laugh, and share, together- but I learned to heal and grow though that.

A few times, our days off aligned and we were able to take the winding mountain roads into town for a meal and some shopping. On one of these particular trips, normal for most girls but so foreign and mysterious for me, she mentioned needing lipstick.

I did not wear lipstick. In fact, I wore minimal make up. I didn’t love it, I didn’t understand it. I had never had anyone show or explain much of it, to me. I knew that my mother was glamorous and all about beauty, when she was in the mental health headspace to care about such things, but I’d left home long before I would have any interest in such things…

At some drug store, in small city Kentucky, my adorable friend Laura taught me about lipstick. She taught me about color matching, to the back of my hand, and about how a good lip color can bring with it the power to change an entire day.

Over the course of our months living near each other, this special girl would become the first deep female friendship I’d really know. She held my secrets and listened to the things. She would co-carry the load of inside jokes and sway with me to the rhythm of Dave Matthews, which was the very first magical thing to bond us. She would read a hilarious book, and then loan it to me so that we could swoon and talk about the same things. There are a thousand things my friendship with Laura shaped about my life, and the chapters of life that would unfold. I remember so much of it, etched clear as day, in my soul. The most prominent of memories though, is that Tuesday afternoon in the make-up aisle.

The truth us, a good lip color can deeply impact a lot of things, but the pure & honest friendship and support of another woman has the power to change the world.

I tell this story in this week’s episode {76} of the Collective. That is about the extent of what I bring to the table really, because our guest Katie Allen is an absolute FORCE and as she shared about reconnecting with herself, (and lipstick, I won’t lie) I was happy to just absorb her awesomeness. Women supporting women is a powerful thing!

yesterday…

Yesterday was one of those days when you log on, for one reason or another, and are bombarded by the news…

*The shattering grief and updates from Kobe & Gigi’s memorial, for one. I have so many thoughts and feelings on the pieces of that, which flooded my twitter feed, but they aren’t important in this space. The grief is felt by a giant community of fans and human beings, let us not forget though that the actual grief belongs to the people who really knew them. Their grief is not meme worthy, front page headline/clickbait fodder, or appropriate for anything beyond us kindly giving them space to have it…

*The news of Katherine Johnson passing was remarkably sad and humbling. As someone who works, every single day, with women, I hope that I never cease to find myself in awe of the brave and powerful women who have accomplished many amazing feats, simply by engaging in their authentic journey. She lived 101 deep years, may we honor her and her family for that many more years to come…

*Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape. He is facing trial for four additional counts. (I realize I don’t normally delve into topics like this, but bear with me a minute, please.) If convicted on these additional charges, Weinstein faces a max sentence of 25 years.

The definition of rape is: To take something by forceful robbery or spoiling.

Most people would agree that rape is a violent crime, even when a weapon is not directly involved. A black man, in America, who is convicted of one violent robbery could face up to 25 years in prison. Tell me, how is this justice then, regarding what Weinstein has done? (And mind you, there are many other women. Twenty years ago, women were warning Hollywood newcomers to steer clear of him.)

It is worth noting: I have been clear that while I believe Weinstein is a monster. I also believe that he was shaped to become such, by an industry of powerful men who abused women in every possible manor, simply to keep them dependent and controllable. Why should a woman’s life have little value? The effects of psychological trauma and sexual assault, at the hands of Weinstein AND men like him, shape her life in unimaginable ways and will stay with her until she dies…

*I’m not even going to talk about the health or political nightmares continually on rotation, in the news… My point is, that the news is a VERY small portion of what real life looks like. As I type this, my dear friend is sitting vigil, waiting for a family member to pass. My own mother in law lost her sister, this weekend. A sweet friend experienced a terrifying moment with her son yesterday. A dear friend is grieving the loss of her baby girl… Miscarriages are happening; terminal diagnosis are being given; marriages are ending, and the loved ones belonging to every day people, are taking their last breaths…

The news is overwhelming, because LIFE is overwhelming.

When we allow ourselves to be consumed by all of the negative- getting swept up in all of the FEAR directed our way- we will drown. Maybe our heart will go on beating, but surviving is not living.

I’m encouraging us to change the way we see things, starting TODAY.

  • Acknowledge the hard things with grace and love.
  • Extend kindness whenever possible.
  • Listen to our instincts when they encourage us to fill a gap. (tell her she looks pretty in that sweater, offer to bring a family a meal, buy that person’s coffee, etc…)
  • Keep stock (an actual list, if possible) of the beautiful things happening around you. Big things, small things, even if all you can find is that first sip of your morning coffee, when the flavor and temperature are just right. We HAVE TO CLING to the good bits with FAR MORE tenacity than we reflect on the bad.

Yesterday was a hard news day.

Yesterday was a hard day, for a lot of people I love.

It is quite possible that yesterday was overwhelming for you too.

Yesterday is over. Sure, there are ways its contents can reach into today, and beyond, but we can’t worry about yesterday anymore.

Focus on TODAY. Find your things, and hold on tight…

today’s good thing…

Happy Monday!

Today is February 10th, which happens to (oddly enough) be National Umbrella Day. If you’ve been around me long, you know that this girl LOVES all things umbrella. Today was made for me!

The other thing I love, (honestly, more than umbrellas) is the joy that I have in engaging and being a part of this beautiful community of women that has blossomed out of the Collective Podcast. I consider myself so blessed, every single day! Just last night, I fell asleep thanking God for this gift of knowing these AMAZING women. My life is honestly better, because of them.

I am really passionate about supporting others. If you are on my email list then you certainly got an earful, on this topic, in February’s note. (eyeful? earful? Whatever…) The bottom line, in case you missed it, (and why? You really should sign up, you’re missing out!) is that we should be supporting our artists and creatives. The internet is filled with content, like blog posts, photos, inspiration, podcast episodes, videos, etc, of these people who pour pieces of themselves into this content FOR FREE, simply because it is in their blood.

In our blood.

In MY blood.

It takes actual hard work to put these things together, and since they are passion projects, there is no paycheck sitting there, come friday.

Moral of the story, support your creatives! We all NEED beautiful things around us, and we will definitely see a lot more value in our investment if we offer it to them, over the big box, corporate greed. Just a few reminders, and some suggestions…

Here is a link to the Collective Patreon.

Here is the link to Buy Me a Coffee.

These are both ways to support me, without it costing you much.

Listening the podcast will not cost you anything but time, well spent, and it helps TREMENDOUSLY! Subscribing, rating and sharing it is so helpful! We all know women who can benefit from the stories, experiences and community of others…

I also have an Amazon storefront, and JUST added three fun shops for spring and Lit lovers…

Beyond me though, there is the Personal ShopHER Directory of women who own small artisan businesses. Have some shopping to do? Continue looking there first!

These are all AWESOME ways to help support me as I write and continue to move forward, connecting with and empowering women within the Collective community- sure. But, we all know creatives- from indie authors, to painters, photographers to musicians. Dream along with them, and help them create big! Each and every person, in this world, needs a team of strong believers supporting them and helping them out! As we watch the news and feel overwhelmed with the sadness around us- this is one practical and easy way we can make a huge impact for change.

never too old…

I have, for a long time now, been inspired by the people who challenge us to reflect back on our growths and progress. The very act leads me to more intentional choices. For a long time I’ve followed along as Emily P. Freeman has blogged these things, and once or twice I may have even half heartedly played along.

The truth is, that at the start of every month (and every season) I determine that I am going to create a place for inspired reflection, within this space. And every single month there is something that happens, which makes me release myself from that plan.

Every single month.

So, throughout January I was adamant with personal notes (in my planner) that I would NOT let this fall to the wayside again. And then, as January wrapped up, what happened? I was hit with a blinding aura followed by a cluster migraine that dominated my brain for the better part of five days… As I reentered life and began to take note of the work I needed to make up, the glaring realization of yet another month failed, smacked me right in my side.

Maybe it is February fourth.

Maybe it feels too late, like what’s the point now?

If that’s true, ok. I’m here anyway…

In January I learned-

  • I cannot hold any element of my reality to an unrealistic ‘one size fits all’ standard.
  • How absolutely valuable and motivating it is to have a trusted group of women who I know will offer me honest feedback, speak truth to/over me and inspire me.
  • Oddly, a lot about sugar.
  • How my illness has affected so many parts of my life, most unexpectedly being my tastebuds. Every single day, dietarily, is like a trip to the Craps table in Vegas…
  • That bouncing/dancing/exercising on a rebounder is maybe the most fun way to burn calories EVER. (then you add in all of the amazing benefits it offers the body, immune system, etc.) win/win!

In her email Emily asked three thought provoking questions, for reflection…

What was my most life-giving YES this month? I would have to say it belongs to an opportunity that I can’t publicly share just yet, but it will be amazing and I can’t wait until I can!

What was my most life-giving NO this month? Ohh… I had been leading a small group for a few local women whom I have grown to cherish. While I really value them, and loved our time together, I came to a point work wise where SOMETHING had to go. It was a good thing, but hard too.

What is one thing I want to leave behind, moving into February? Looking for reasons to bundle up with Netflix. I know, it was cold and grey out. I had flare attacks. I get it. But also, a lot of those times I could have actually slept/rested, or picked up a book. Netflix has become too easy. I don’t want to leave down times like that, behind me. Just the ALWAYS resorting to that choice…

On that Note- What I watched and enjoyed:

Anne with an E season 3

Younger

Jojo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What I read:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January (beautifully written but, in the end, not my style of book.)

The F*cK It Diet (still reading this… but it is BRILLIANT and necessary!)

Real Life Changing Discoveries:

My Rebounder (this isn’t my first rebounder experience. This thing is THE BEST rebounder we’ve ever seen though. At least for under $100)

Dog Hair Roller (If you have pets… this may be your best purchase. CHANGED OUR LIVES!)

Things I did and LOVED:

  • sent handwritten letters every week.
  • kept my Christmas cards hung up all month. My husband was annoyed, but they brought me so much joy! (they came down 2/1 because I love my marriage)
  • continued listening to the Catlick podcast. (HOOKED!)
  • Coffee dates with my husband. We’ve had some RICH time together in our local coffee spots.
  • Time out, quiet Sundays.

Did you salvage any January growth/amazement/accomplishments/discoveries? If so, I’d love to know!