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Lemonade

May 20, 2017

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Right? That’s what we’re told. And yet, turning something bad into something good inevitably pisses someone off. I’ve been working diligently on being more positive and trying really hard to not wallow in the crap. That’s a difficult thing for me to do – not wallow. I let things get to me when they shouldn’t. 

Lately my life has been a series of tsunamis. It’s been wave after wave of crap coming at me and I’m letting it all get to me. Which means I have puffy eyes and there are dust bunnies all over the house. I’ve managed to stay on top of work, but it’s taken a Herculean effort to stay focused. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes in my work because I am so distracted.

I’m not sure how to make lemonade. Each morning I wake up and try to psych myself up for the day.

“I’m not going to let all these assholes get me down!” I tell myself. 

I start pretending I’m Rocky in the first Rocky and I’m jumping rope to Eye of the Tiger.

I’ve got this, even if I am out of breath before the first chorus.

And then something else happens. Today my basement is flooded. It’s no surprise, it rained two inches last night and my basement leaks like a sieve. I was just hoping to have a dry year this year.

My plan for today was to launch a GoFundMe campaign to presell my book so I can finally get it published. I need to have it professionally edited, I need to get a cover designed and I need a kick ass marketing campaign. I have an agency who rocks, just not enough cheddah in the budget. I’ve been putting it off because I don’t want to ask for help. I hate asking for help because it makes me feel weak and vulnerable and then I start telling myself that I am not worthy of help and the next thing you know I’ve gone down that rabbit hole I’ve spent years trying to climb out of. 

That was my plan, and then the same shit that happens over and over happened again. It seems every spring the basement floods and my ex threatens to drag me to court. Inevitably the dog will pee on the couch which will send me over the edge for a few minutes. Of course the dog pees on the couch because he is afraid of the rain, and because I forgot to put his diaper on.

Every year it is the same. 

I can’t seem to get out of this rut no matter how hard I try. It was my plan to launch my GoFundMe campaign 15 days ago. It’s been ready to go, but I’ve been too afraid to launch it. Actually, turns out I did launch it, I just didn’t know it (shut up! I’ve been a little distracted). What I am afraid to do is promote it. 

Thing is, nothing will change if I don’t start taking some risks. This is scary. I can’t even begin to tell you how scary this is. What if no one wants my book? I’m trying to presell it because that seems less like begging, but if no one wants it then what am I going to do? 

I’m not going to worry about that. Just like I’m not going to keep giving those negative thoughts anymore space in my head. 

If you’d like to pre – purchase my book – Minnesota Nice – you can do so here. If you’d like to learn more continue reading….

About Minnesota Nice

I’m wrote a book about my family.

It doesn’t sound all that intriguing does it? Wait, it gets better. You see my mom had a stroke when I was four years old, leaving her severely mentally and physically handicapped.  A few years later my father revealed that he was gay. A few years after that my brother came out as a Republican. You can’t make this stuff up.

Statistics from the Straight Spouse Network assert that up to two million gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in the United States are or have been heterosexually married. Another demographics study showed that of the 27 million American men currently married, 1.6 percent, or 436,000 men, identifies themselves as gay or bisexual. Countless children have come of age in what is commonly referred to as a “mixed-orientation marriage,” most simply try to move on, too ashamed to admit that their family was any different from the norm. Even as adults they keep their skeleton in the closet, afraid to appear anything but like the wholesome Brady Bunch. Guess what? Mr. Brady was gay.

We were different and I’m no longer ashamed to admit it.

This is not anti LGBT. While I am sure fewer mixed orientation marriages take place in 2017, they still happen. The shame of growing up in one of these families is not due to a gay parent, it is due to the deception and lying that the parent must maintain to keep the secret. 

This is not some dry memoir. It is filled with humorous stories of a family trying to figure out how they all fit together. There are heartbreaking moments as well, but all told with the love and clarity that can only come with years of distance and a few dead family members.

Minnesota Nice has been compared to Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and most recently to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. 

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Let’s Talk about 13 Reasons Why

April 28, 2017
Let's talk about 13 reasons why

By now you’ve heard all the hype about the Netflix series, so let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why, shall we? This is about my 5th attempt at writing about the show, and it probably won’t be my last. 

Before we go any further **** Major Spoiler Alert**** don’t read anymore if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the Jay Asher book of the same name. It covers the themes most high schoolers, and many middle schoolers face every day – including bullying, rape and suicide. It’s graphic and the internet is losing its collective shit over it. Schools are sending notes home about it, every single newscast has covered it and you can’t surf the web without finding blog posts just like this one defending it or criticizing it. Paris Jackson is one of many people telling people not to watch it. I’m here to tell you, if you have kids, you should definitely watch it if for no other reason to understand what kids go through on a regular basis. 

While I have some issues with the series, I think it is always a good thing to talk about the stuff that scares us. Bullying, rape and suicide as well as teen drug and alcohol use, is scary stuff, but if we want to help kids navigate these complicated thing we’re going to need to have a dialog. 13 Reasons Why gets that dialog started.

Suicide is Never Painless

You can read a much better synopsis here, but in a nutshell the story is about a Clay Jensen, a shy high schooler who is given a shoebox of numbered cassette tapes created by Hannah Baker, a friend of Clay’s who recently killed herself. Each tape details one of the 13 reasons why she killed herself and those responsible have listened to the tapes and have been instructed to pass them along to the next person on the tape, which is why Clay has them. According to Hannah, he is partly responsible for her suicide.

Clay is responsible for her death in that he didn’t come out and tell her how he felt about her. His is one of the lesser reasons why she killed herself, though it torments Clay that he didn’t do more. Other people on the tape have teased her, bullied her, humiliated her, stabbed her in the back, and finally raped her. She even includes her guidance counselor who suggests she move on after she tells him about the rape, instead of going to the authorities and having the little snot arrested. 

It is then – when the counselor lets her down – that she comes up with the plan to create the tapes and then kill herself by getting into the bathtub and slitting her wrists – depicted rather graphically in the show.

I should mention, I have not read the book. I understand it has a different flavor to it, and I suspect it doesn’t come off as flippantly as it does in the series. I loved them, but the series felt like a too long After School Special. 

Aside from how it ends – with Hannah killing herself – there is nothing in this series that I, and many of my friends, didn’t experience at that age. What happened to Jessica – raped while passed out drunk, and Hannah – overpowered and raped, is actually quite common. Now we call it date rape, but when I was growing up it was called being in the wrong place at the wrong time or asking for it. We’ve come a long way, because we’ve been willing to talk about it. So let’s keep talking about it because clearly it’s still happening.

Teenage Wasteland

I thought the depiction of teenage life was incredibly accurate. Kids drink, they take drugs, they have sex, and they do a lot of stupid things – all while parents and teachers look the other way because they don’t want to dig too deep. My book, Minnesota Nice, is about all of these issues (I’m working on publishing soon, stay tuned for more info about that).

I also thought the depiction of the aftermath of her death – how her parents react and how the kids deal with it – was pretty well done. I didn’t see any glorifying of suicide. 

My issue is with Hannah’s storyline. She’s depressed and yet she is still motivated enough to create these 13 tapes. I get that they’re a device to move the plot along, it just seemed heavy handed to me. Plenty of teenagers kill themselves each day, most do so quietly because they already feel as though they don’t matter and that no one cares. Hannah obviously thought enough people would care to listen to the tapes. Hers was the sort of suicide most teens have fantasized about – getting even, even if it means getting dead. 

Trigger Warning

Since the show has come out, many teens, teachers and parents are worried that the show is triggering and therefore shouldn’t have been made. I can’t even begin to understand that kind of reasoning. If something is triggering then it absolutely needs to be discussed. Possibly with a professional, but certainly with a parent or trusted teacher. 

I lost three friends to suicide when I was a teenager. It’s an absolutely horrible thing to experience. And yes, cluster suicides are a thing, which is why we need to bring suicide out into the light. Thinking about suicide shouldn’t be taboo – because I promise you every single teenager (and more and more middle schoolers) have thought about their own suicide. I would hazard a guess that every human that lives and breathes has at one time or another contemplated taking their own life. And yet, we make the thought of it something to be ashamed of. 

When asked on most pediatrician questionnaires if they’ve considered suicide before, most teens will lie because they fear being pushed into therapy or the psych ward for thinking about something that is actually pretty normal. I know I have. 

It Gets Better, Promise

Life is scary, people are mean, and bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better. It usually always gets better. And that’s the point of the series, to show how wasteful suicide is. Hannah was a smart, funny, caring, and loving young woman. She had everything to look forward to in her future, she just couldn’t see past what she was experiencing to believe it would ever get better. We need to impress upon our kids that the pressure cooker that is middle school and high school gets better. If they can just hang in there (with professional help) they will be okay. Life is always a struggle, and for some it is much worse than for others. Life is not fair, but it does get better. The more we talk about these things the less damage they can do. 

I grew up reading books like The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice and other rather dark tales about teens descent into the abyss. Teenage years can suck for a lot of people, they did for me and many of my friends. Having those books, seeing the After School Specials, helped me feel less alone. Because if people are writing about these topics and they’re making movies and TV shows about these heavy subjects, it means someone else has experienced these shitty things and managed to not only survive, but somehow thrive.

Let’s keep talking about Thirteen Reasons Why.

 

 

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If You Want to be a Badass with Money, You Need this Book

April 27, 2017
If You Want to be a Badass with money, You Need this Book

If you want to be a badass with money, you need this book by Jen Sincero. By now you’ve heard of the book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life also by Jen. It’s bright yellow and stares back at you from most best seller lists – for the past several years. It’s tough to miss. If you haven’t read it you should – if you want to be a badass in all things. It’s a fantastic read and even better audio book (Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – look at me saving you money, too!) as it is read by the author. Jen Sincero is funny, witty, goofy, charming and she has some great ideas. I highly recommend it. 

I know, I’m always telling you to buy these books I haven’t even finished yet, but I can’t help it because I don’t want you to miss out on these inspiring books. I’m pumped up and I want you to be pumped up!

If You Want to be a Badass With Money, You Need this Book

Now Jen has come out with a new book – You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. Even if you hate money, don’t want to make more of it and never want to have enough of it, you’ll still love and benefit from this book. 

Jen takes all the excuse we make about money and shreds them – in a really funny way. 

No matter where you are in life – a happy and secure corporate position or you’re a freelancer trying to beat the odds and actually make money – this book has some great tips for mastering the elusive and almighty dollar. 

It’s even got some great ideas about becoming more fulfilled, creative, motivated, inspired and satisfied. If you like the self-help genre and are looking for a great read, this is the book for you. If you’ve already read it you can find some other great life-changing books here

 

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Buy This Book Now!

January 24, 2017
Buy this book now!

OMG I haven’t even finished this book and I had to stop and tell you to go and buy this book now! 

Buy This Book Now!

Seriously, go now, I’ll wait.

Wait, if you buy it now you won’t come back. Wait a minute. Buy it after reading this which is only going to be a few more paragraphs because honestly, I want to get back to it asap.

What book?

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight.

Yeah, I might be on a bit of a self-help binge, but that’s okay, in fact it’s great. Get Your Sh*t Together is an anti self-help book by an anti-guru who happens to be funny as shit. If you liked You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, you will love Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight.

While both will get you fired up about getting down to business, they take a very different, albeit funny, approach. 

If you’re in a rut, want to break out and try something new, are tired of making excuses, or just really need a kick in the ass to do the things you already know you need to do — then buy this book now! Hell, buy them both, you’ll thank you, I promise.

Get Your Sh*t Together is a really quick read, or listen, that will help you to well, get your shit together. Sarah Knight will show you how to prioritize the things you need to do so you can do the things you want to do. 

You may have heard of Sarah Knight before, she also wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide).

It seems oh so simple, and really there is nothing she says that you don’t already know, but she lights a fire under your ass all while making you laugh out loud.

Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. I do plan on writing a complete review as soon as I finish the book, which will probably be later this evening, so check back. Of course you don’t even need that, it’s awesome, trust me, and it will provide the motivation you need, right now, to do what you know you need to do. 

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Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

December 31, 2016
Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

For your reading pleasure I’ve put together my sometimes annual Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup. Every other media outlet does a roundup so I thought, what the heck, I’ll do one too!

I’m actually surprised I wrote enough this year for a roundup. In fact, I actually wrote and published 60 posts this year, which is my third time high since I started blogging in 2007. It’s twice as much as I wrote last year.

There were basically 4 categories this year, the election, my mother, recipes, and Prince, and an outlier about Dini the cat. It’s a long post, and most didn’t bother to read it, but it’s one that harkens back to my early days of blogging, when I just told a story and enjoyed the journey.

No One Ever Said There Would Be This Much Cat Vomit

Blog Posts about the Election

I really didn’t think he’d win, and I might watch too much Walking Dead.

How to Survive the Trumpacolypse

How to Prepare for the Post Election Apocalypse

OMG Stop Unfriending Each Other!

Blog Posts about my Relationship with My Mother

My relationship with my mother is difficult at best, but it isn’t unique. I also posted a story from my book, Minnesota Nice. 

Life Isn’t Fair

I Made my Mother Cry… Again

Do You Know your ACE Score?

Recipes

I cook a lot this year, mostly because I got an Instant Pot – the most awesome thing ever!

Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Hot Dish Instant Pot Recipe

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish Recipe – Seriously, if you try a new dish in 2017, make it the MN Tater Tot Hotdish, you won’t be sorry. 

Best and Worst in Books and Movies and Blogs

I saw and reviewed several movies this year, they aren’t worth sharing here except for one exceptionally horrible movie I really hoped would be awesome. It wasn’t.

Independence Day Resurgence Review

Life Changing Books

Bloggers who Blog

Prince and Jacob

2016 was a year of loss, but these two are still difficult for me to reckon with. 

Summer in Minnesota 2016: We Lost Prince and Found Jacob

On the Passing of Prince, from a Minnesotan

#NaBloPoMo Books Things I Really Like

Life Changing Books

November 3, 2016
life changing book

This year I celebrated my 50th birthday. I knew I was going to be making some life changes, but I wasn’t sure where to start, so I started reading. After nearly a year, I have this awesome list of life changing books and now I’m sharing them with you!

I’m only including non-fiction books here. Most can be found in the self help section of any bookstore. All of them made me feel as if the author was speaking directly to me. Which is, actually, a very comforting thought because if you think about it, that means there are a lot of us struggling with the same kinds of feelings, stress, anxiety and all that other crap that pops into your head when no one else is around.

These are the books that helped me realize I don’t have to believe the things I’ve been telling telling myself for the last 45 years or so.

Life Changing Books

 

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling
Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW.

Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Your biography becomes your biology. The emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives as adults, but it also affects our physical health, longevity, and overall wellbeing. Scientists now know on a bio-chemical level exactly how parents’ chronic fights, divorce, death in the family, being bullied or hazed, and growing up with a hypercritical, alcoholic, or mentally ill parent can leave permanent, physical “fingerprints” on our brains.

The Power of Grit by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

To make the journey into the Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of this extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, “The eternal, ever present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.”

Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question and answer format to guide us. A word of mouth phenomenon since its first publication, The Power of Now is one of those rare books with the power to create an experience in readers, one that can radically change their lives for the better.

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Written in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the very nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life. It helps us learn how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.

Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Wake up and take control of your life! From the bestselling author of Inner StrengthUnlimited Power, and MONEY Master the Game, Anthony Robbins, the nation’s leader in the science of peak performance, shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life.

The acknowledged expert in the psychology of change, Anthony Robbins provides a step-by-step program teaching the fundamental lessons of self-mastery that will enable you to discover your true purpose, take control of your life, and harness the forces that shape your destiny.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow.
Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Way of the Peaceful Warrior is based on the story of Dan Millman, a world champion athlete, who journeys into realms of romance and magic, light and darkness, body, mind, and spirit. Guided by a powerful old warrior named Socrates and tempted by an elusive, playful woman named Joy, Dan is led toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him. Readers join Dan as he learns to live as a peaceful warrior. This international bestseller conveys piercing truths and humorous wisdom, speaking directly to the universal quest for happiness.

Your Erroneous Zone by Wayne Dyer

If you’re plagued by guilt or worry and find yourself unwittingly falling into the same old self-destructive patterns, then you have “erroneous zones” – whole facets of your approach to life that act as barriers to your success and happiness.

Perhaps you believe that you have no control over your feelings and reactions – Dyer shows how you can take charge of yourself and manage how much you will let difficult times and people affect you. Or maybe you spend more time worrying what others think than working on what you want and need – Dyer points the way to true self-reliance. From self-image problems to over-dependence on others, Dyer gives you the tools you need to break free from negative thinking and enjoy life to the fullest.

I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones

Stop listening to that voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough. Stop worrying that you don’t have the perfect body, perfect job, perfect relationship, or perfect anything for that matter. Stop letting other people draw boundaries and limits around your life. And start living the life that you truly want (now!), the one you didn’t think you had the courage to imagine, but the one that’s absolutely possible! Including stories from thirty incredible women, Alexis has compiled everything she’s learned into one complete guide to being That Girl, the best version of you.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a 1937 personal development and self-help book by Napoleon Hill. The book was inspired by a suggestion from Scottish-American business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. While its title implies that the book deals with how to attain monetary wealth, the author explains that the philosophy taught in the book can be used to help people succeed in all lines of work and to do or be almost anything they want. The book was first published during the Great Depression. At the time of Hill’s death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold more than 20 million copies and by 2011 over 70 million copies had been sold worldwide. It remains the biggest seller of Napoleon Hill’s books. Business Week magazine’s Best-Seller List ranked it the sixth best-selling paperback business book 70 years after it was published. Think and Grow Rich is listed in John C. Maxwell’s A Lifetime “Must Read” Books List.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

An international bestseller with over five million copies in print, The Power of Positive Thinking has helped men and women around the world to achieve fulfillment in their lives through Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s powerful message of faith and inspiration.

In this phenomenal bestseller, “written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying, and worthwhile life,” Dr. Peale demonstrates the power of faith in action. With the practical techniques outlined in this book, you can energize your life—and give yourself the initiative needed to carry out your ambitions and hopes.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplehas captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of Presidents and CEOs, educators and parents— in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations.

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are 9 key insights into life itself — insights each human being is predicted to grasp sequentially; one insight, then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on Earth. Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your life right now and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimisim as you head into tomorrow.

 

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What a Difference a Coat of Paint Makes!

October 17, 2016
What a difference a coat of paint makes

I painted my office this weekend and OMG — what a difference a coat of paint makes! I didn’t have plans to paint my office this weekend, but I’ve been listening to You Are a Badass this past week and it seemed like the thing to do.

Wondering how a coat of paint makes you a badass?

It doesn’t really, but when you hate your office, because you have slowly started hating what you do each day, you realize you need to make some changes to your day to day life.

My office was originally my bedroom, but when my daughter moved her bedroom upstairs (because she couldn’t move it downstairs – long story short, the contractor got paid and then never did the work, so the room isn’t up to code, so she can’t sleep down there), where my office had been, I moved my office into my bedroom and my bedroom into my daughter’s old bedroom.

Why musical rooms?

This house has like 5 grounded outlets. All the rest of the outlets are the two pronged type. Also, there was no outlet even remotely close to a window in my bedroom so I couldn’t use a window air conditioner. The daughter has a grounded outlet right by the window so it made more sense to make that my bedroom and my poorly outlet-ed bedroom my office.

Whew! Did you catch all that?

Old houses might be charming, but they suck when it comes to using modern day technology in them.

What a Difference a Coat of Paint Makes

When my daughter moved upstairs we painted that room and her old bedroom/my new bedroom, but after all that painting I didn’t want to paint anymore and just put all my office crap in the old bedroom.

I have a lot of crap.

Because I can shut the door, the room attracts even more crap.

Getting back to the book…

So I’m listening to You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero and she’s talking about being more positive and how to bring out the best in you and reaching your full potential all that other good stuff.

If you’ve read this blog for very long (or just look at the name of the blog) you can probably tell I don’t get into all that self help/feel good shit.

In fact, I bought the book a couple of years ago and it never quite made its way onto my cell phone to listen to on my walk.

And then it did and it was like the universe was trying to tell me something.

PAINT YOUR OFFICE

That’s what the book was saying, at that moment, to me.

So I did.

Actually, here’s how it went. I lost a couple of big gigs several months ago. This happens all the time and I can usually replace them pretty quickly. In fact I did, and then I lost that one too. Both times they wanted an in-house writer and I live a couple thousand miles from the office.

I dusted off my resume and started looking for a real job.

And it was cool because this time there is actually a real title for the job I do – social media manager – and I started applying like a mad woman.

I figured I’d have a completely new job in no time. Screw this freelancing stuff, I was going to have an actual job. I started day dreaming about it going into an office, decorating my cube and having real people to talk to during the day besides my dogs.

I even had a few interviews.

And then nothing happened. Oh, I got offered all kinds of jobs, just none of them had anything to do with social media management. I get offered a job at Farmer’s Insurance every other day. I also get offered a job to sell meat on the street.

Seriously —  Meat On The Street.

I hadn’t planned on getting depressed looking to replace one or two gigs, but here I was, the only jobs I could get was selling insurance (which I have already tried) and selling Meat On The Street.

I don’t even buy meat on the street because I am pretty sure that’s how you get e.coli, and I don’t want e.coli, and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for all the people who are willing to buy meat on the street for their e.coli.

So I started listening to self help books to at least make me think I was doing something productive.

Come to think about it, I don’t think it says anywhere in that book to paint your office. I might have just come up with that on my own. But it makes sense if you think about it – I hated my office because it was such a horrible shade of orange and it was so cluttered it was like working in a storage locker or something.

You Are A Badass talks about how you should have faith, be open to anything, and to go with the flow.

If you know me, I am not really a go with the flow kind of person. I like my routine, I like to know what to expect each day. And each day I was getting offered a job selling Meat On The Street.

Saturday morning I decided to go with the flow and paint my damn office. It took me two days, and pretty much all of seasons 1-3 of The Walking Dead, but I finished it last night and I am thrilled with the results.

Not only do I have a much nicer (and more calming) color of paint on my walls, but in the process was forced to get rid of a lot of the clutter.

Of course, most of the clutter is still on my dining room table, but that will give me something to do next weekend.

Which has got to be better then selling Meat On The Street.

 

 

 

Books Minnesota Nice

Do you Know your ACE Score?

October 7, 2016
Do you know your ACE score

Do you know your ACE score? Several months ago there was an article making the rounds on social media. With it was a test that determined your likelihood of specific diseases based on how much trauma you experienced as a child. The test measured your Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. Do you know your ACE score? You can click here to take the test and to learn more about it. In a nutshell, what the CDC-Kaiser study found was that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence.

Do you Know your ACE Score?

ACEs are common, nearly 64% of adults have at least one adverse childhood experience.

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

I scored a 6 on the test.

I saved the article, even purchased the book by the author of the article titled Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal. And then I promptly forgot about it.

Last week, in need of something to listen to while on my morning walk, I  started listening to Childhood Disrupted. On some level I absolutely knew that the traumas I endured during my childhood had everything to do with the struggles I face today, even if no one else believes me. Having a study prove it was incredibly gratifying and gave me a huge sense of relief.

I wasn’t just difficult, I didn’t just have a chip on my shoulder, I was not a loser (or if I was, it wasn’t completely my fault) and best of all, there exist ways to reverse some of the damage.

In addition to being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when I was 18, I also suffer from chronic back pain, joint pain, high cholesterol and I have struggled with my weight since I was a young child. I was bulimic by age 13. I have all kinds of inflammation, thankfully I do not have cardiovascular disease (yet), another extremely common ailment of those with high ACE scores.

Ongoing adversity in childhood leads to a chronic state of “fight, flight or freeze.” Researchers at Yale had recently shown that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “high” for life. This increases the risk of inflammation, which manifests later in cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.

I was 4 years old when my mother experienced anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to complications from pneumonia. The doctors were surprised she survived. However, she suffered a considerable amount of brain damage which caused short term memory loss (think Dory in Finding Nemo, though not as cheerful), loss of mobility and poor reasoning and decision making skills among other things.

We’d been living in Colorado when she got sick, my dad was stationed there for his service in the army. I have few concrete memories of that time, I remember chaos and uncertainty. While my dad got the house back in St. Paul adapted for my mother (relatively speaking), he sent me to live with one of his sisters and my brother to live with his other sister. Again, I remember little except for being picked on regularly by one of my cousins and missing my brother. I was sure my mother had decided to leave us and the woman in the hospital was some replacement. For years I did not believe she was my mother.

We all moved back into the house, The Big Green House, as my mother used to call it in songs she sang to my brother and me, and life went on.

I was a mess of anxiety, I was terrified of just about everything. My brother was no help. He enjoyed scaring the crap out of me – jumping out from behind doors and corners yelling Boo! and then laughing as I jumped a few feet in the air. He also loved to give me shit about my fear of fire and tornados. He especially loved to tease me in front of the neighbor kids who joined in. He enjoyed it so much that some 40 years later at his daughter’s graduation party, surrounded by those very same neighbor kids, he started teasing me about tornados again while everyone laughed.

I wasn’t afraid of fire and tornados because I was afraid for my own safety, I was afraid because I was often left alone with my mother at night. I knew if there was a fire, tornado or some kind of event where I had to get her out of the house quickly, that we would both die. The only saving grace about dying was that I wouldn’t have to endure the shame of failing the task from my father.

I was often left alone with a physically and mentally disabled mother because my father was out at one of the few gay bars in the city. He went there every night after dinner. When he left he’d announce he was putting the car away (in the garage) and would be back shortly, usually several hours later – after homework (that rarely got completed), after getting mom ready for bed, after getting ready for bed myself. My brother and I had horrible tooth brushing habits as kids because no one was there to tell us to brush our teeth.

While my father was at the bar I was expected to sit with my mother and fetch her cocktail after cocktail. By the end of the night she was either crying about my dad cheating on her or yelling at me for being such a horrible daughter. School should have provided a refuge for part of the day, but I was a bad student so it was just more shame and guilt.

I was 9 the first time my father told me he wanted to kill himself.

That’s when the anxiety really kicked into high gear. If he killed himself, I would be stuck taking care of my mother for eternity. I already knew things were different, that there was a part of me that was never going to be because of all that I had experienced. I was simply too tired to rise above any of it. I did my best to make his life as easy as possible so he didn’t kill himself.

Chronic toxic stress—living in a red alert mode for months or years—can also damage our bodies. In a red alert state, the body pumps out adrenaline and cortisol continuously. Over time, the constant presence of adrenaline and cortisol keep blood pressure high, which weakens the heart and circulatory system. They also keep glucose levels high to provide enough energy for the heart and muscles to act quickly; this can lead to type 2 diabetes. Too much adrenaline and cortisol can also increase cholesterol.

Too much cortisol can lead to osteoporosis, arthritis, gastrointestinal disease, depression, anorexia nervosa, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism and the shrinkage of lymph nodes, leading to the inability to ward off infections.

ACE scores are not about blame. My parents probably also had relatively high ACE scores too. I know my father would have scored at least a 3 and possibly a 4. I know less about my mother’s relationships with her parents, but I bet she scored at least a 2 or 3 on the test.

The good news is that our brains can heal. If the toxic stress stops and is replaced by practices that build resilience, the brain can slowly undo much of the damage.

Writing has been shown to help heal the brain.

Do you know your ACE score?

 

 

 

Books Reviews Things I Really Like

Romantic as Hell – A Review

March 11, 2016
Romantic as Hell Book Cover

Romantic as Hell – A Review

So maybe 6 or 7 months ago Rodney Lacroix asked me to review his newest book, Romantic As Hell. Rodney is one of my favorite authors so I was delighted to be asked. Of course if he had asked my via email or Facebook I might have responded sooner than the three months it took for me to respond through my Linkedin account where he messaged me.

Rod, or mooooooog, as many of you know him from the glory days of blogging, is one of the funniest writers out there if you like stuff written for 12 year old boys. He writes the best potty humor out there, bar none. Lately, maybe the last couple of years, he’s even worked in some really deep and heartfelt posts into his normal adolescent fare. It’s not really normal, most late 40 something men don’t talk this way. They may think it, (okay, the probably all think it) but they don’t usually share it. Whatever it is, it’s some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever read.

So, I was thrilled to be asked by Rod himself to review his latest book.

And Rod puts out a book like every six months it seems. It’s taken me nearly ten years to write one fucking book (and it’s still being edited!), but Rod can put out three in the same time it takes me to clean my garage. I’m a little jealous to say the least.

So last night I finally got to reading the book. I’d been looking forward to reading it ever since he sent it to me, but actually sitting down to read has been something I have not managed to do in a long, long time. Pretty much unless I can read while waiting at the doctor’s office I don’t read anymore. I still buy books, I just don’t read them. I want to, I really do, but there’s a lot of really good TV on these days.

Anyway, I read Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix and laughed my ass off. I also got scared a few times (Rod gave me the Mobi version to read so I read it on my computer which meant I had to scroll down to read it. I scrolled down and was faced with this.

Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix

I about crapped my pants.

Romantic As Hell is a book filled with surprisingly good dating and relationship tips.

No, really, it is.

Rodney has taken his wonderfully illustrious career at striking out in the dating world and shared it with the world so that men would no longer be compelled to present their significant others with gifts that are guaranteed not to get them laid.

Seriously guys, it’s not that hard. Don’t get us things that clean the house unless it’s a guy named Sven.

If you’re a guy and are striking out in your relationships you NEED this book. There really is some sound advice hidden within the side splittingly funny stories Rod shares at his own expense. Chicks will dig you if you buy this book, read this book and actually follow its advice.

Ladies, you don’t need to buy this book because you already know this stuff, but it is insightful to read it to see how a guy’s mind actually works. Not that you’ll even consider that an excuse for any of the mistakes they make, but it’s still interesting. You won’t need to read this book but you’ll want to because it really is hilarious. Go out and get some of those new Poise pee pads before you do.

If you haven’t read Rod’s other books Things Go Wrong For Me and Perhaps I’ve Said Too Much, you’ll want to snag those too. Just make sure to get more Poise pee pads when you do.

 

Blogging Books Contests Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota People Things I Really Like Writing

I Saw The Bloggess!!

November 5, 2015
The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson at U of MN bookstore

I saw the Bloggess!!

(an unintentional homage to Jenny Lawson)

I don’t mean to be a name dropper but I’ve seen my share of celebrities over the years. When I was 16 my parents sold our house to Garrison Keillor. I had no idea who he was but my grandfather sure thought he was the shit! I used to babysit Nick Swardson of Grandma’s Boy and Reno 911 and bunch of other movies. I ate lunch in the same restaurant as that woman who sang the song Downtown…. what’s her name*??? And, I stood behind Kevin Garnett or maybe it was Kevin McHale** at the Giant Slide at the MN State Fair once. So, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some pretty well known celebrities, I don’t get star struck very easily. At least I didn’t until I learned Jenny Lawson was coming to town to promote her new book Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

From Amazon:

In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? 

I learned she was coming a couple of months ago and immediately put it on my calendar. She was going to be at the University of Mn Bookstore in Coffman Union – a place had I spent maybe less time in I might have actually graduated after 7 years. Maybe. Anyway, I know Coffman, I could do this.

And at the time it seemed so simple. How can attending a book signing be a challenge you ask?

Because, like The Bloggess, I also have a fair amount of anxiety. It isn’t crippling but it gets in the way of a lot of things and makes them much harder. It’s gotten much worse over the years as I’ve isolated myself more and more. At the end of the day, 7pm for this event, the last thing I want to do is go out, even if it’s for something I really want to do.

Does that even make sense?

So, by 7pm the idea of getting in the car, driving to campus, finding a place to park and then walking in late to the event (because I will be late, trust me) doesn’t sound like fun to me no matter who is there.

I even tried to justify not going by telling myself that of all people, The Bloggess will understand. She knows what it’s like to take to bed for a couple of days (I don’t, I’m a single mom and my kids still expect me to feed them and drive them to school and yell at them for not changing the toilet paper roll. If I were to take to bed I’d have to call one of their dads and there’s no way either of them would step in. In fact one of them would probably threaten to seek custody if I were to ask.) so she’d be totally ok with it if I didn’t show up.

No, she doesn’t know me (though she did wish me a Happy Birthday on Facebook last year because, you know, we’re FB friends), she had no idea that I was going to be there so why I felt bad for not going to her event I really don’t know. I’d already bought her book (and you should to, you can get it here)  so what more could she want from me?

Sheesh, she’s demanding!

I forced myself to go anyway. As I said before I’ve been isolating myself for a while now and it’s getting old. I know I should go out and spend time with people my own age so I’m really thinking about making an effort. This seemed like a great opportunity a few months ago. Now that it was here not so much. Besides, even though I know I should get out more it doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t really like people that much so I’m not really sure where the payoff is. Anyway, I forced myself out of the house, into the car, on to the freeway, and into the parking garage where I thought I got a really good spot because it was right by the entrance to the parking garage and I could see Coffman Union just across a short walking bridge. The trouble was the parking garage is on sea level, or down by the river, while Coffman is on top of the hill. I had to walk  up about 15 flights of stairs (okay, 4) to get to the main level entrance of Coffman. By the time I got to the top I was so winded I was sure I was going to pass out and even had to fake a phone call outside before I walked in.

When I got to the bookstore (in the basement so I’ve basically come full circle but thank God they had an escalator) the event had already begun and there was no place to sit or stand. I made a beeline for the only spot I could find that was not going to get me called out for being late. I stood between a rather large Norwegian man with red hair and some women who looked as though they majored in Women’s Studies. I immediately dug in my purse to find my phone so I could take pictures but got distracted wondering if I left my keys in the car knowing full well I locked the car because my son gets upset with me for leaving it unlocked.

Now I had to find my keys.

Except when I tried to open my purse I got my sweater caught on the zipper and now I couldn’t move without pulling the thread out even more which happened to be right under my arm and the last thing I wanted to do was lose the arm of my sweater while trying to quietly and politely listen to Jenny Lawson talk about passing out at the gynecologist office. She kept repeating the word vagina which I don’t mind but while I’m at this event I’m composing this blog post and I fear using the word ‘vagina’ is just going to get more strange traffic here because believe it or not 70% of my traffic comes from people searching for the word ‘vagina’ and usually something really strange like ‘with teeth’. So, I’m worried about her excessive use of the word vagina and I still haven’t managed to free myself from my purse.

Of course I’m sweating at this point.

Everyone is laughing, the room us beginning to spin a little and I’m wondering how long do I have to stay here before I can leave without being obvious.

The answer is I can’t so I try to make the best of it and search for my phone again so I can get some pictures. I pull out my phone but realize no one else is taking pictures. I figure I must have missed the announcement about not taking pictures because there is no way a room full of younger women can resist taking pictures of anything.

And then I see one of the Women’s Studies woman pull out here phone and start taking pictures.

I take half a dozen grainy pictures (actually only three, and they all pretty much suck but I didn’t want to get busted for taking pictures when I wasn’t supposed to — though, I’m not sure if that was a rule or if people were just really polite) before I see the sign in front of me that says “This line for people who have already purchased a book” or something similar. In my haste to go unnoticed I got into the priority line for people who purchased the book in advance and bought a ticket to get first in line for a signing. I have purchased a book but not through the U of M bookstore. I got mine at Barnes and Noble and it was currently sitting on my dining room table, probably with a cat on top of it.

I have to get out of here. I already know I’m not going to stand in line for three hours to get the book signed (obviously, because it’s at home with a cat on it). I could buy a book and get it signed but I’m going to be last in line because I’m Minnesotan and even though I have budged into the first part of the line I’ll feel too guilty if I stay here (even though there isn’t any other place for me to go at this point).

I’m freaking out and now my phone is vibrating in my purse. It’s my 12 year old daughter who wants to know where I am and can I pick up some food on the way home? I tell her yes but feel bad that I am leaving even though I wasn’t really here, and am looking for an excuse to leave.

Something as simple as a book reading/signing should not cause so much anxiety that I need to go home (after picking up something to eat for the daughter, of course), but it does. I feel bad about it, again. This is not the first time I’ve left something because I started to sweat or my stomach started doing flip flops and my chest got all tight. It probably won’t be the last time either.

I’m upset with myself for leaving (though on the way out I purchase another book) but am actually pretty proud I even came out because I nearly talked myself out leaving the house.

If you’ve made it this far and would like a chance to win an unsigned copy of Jenny Lawson’s new book, Furiously Happy please leave a comment below.

TL;DR

Apparently I have a fair amount of anxiety, and sometimes it wins. Also, book giveaway, leave a comment.

* Petula Clark

** It was Kevin McHale, though I had to google it to see which one he was.

 

 

Blogging Books Things I Really Like Writing

Bloggers Who Write Books

May 20, 2015

This week is a great week for those of us who started blogging because we were going to write a book. I say that because two great bloggers have come out with books this week and each of them are not only great reads but inspiration for those of us who have a book but just haven’t gotten off our asses long enough to hit the publish button.

Or those who are terrified to actually publish in case the words we write might be offensive or hurt someone who treated us like crap. You know, those people.

Brittany Gibbons has written a hilarious memoir called Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin…Every Inch of It, about growing up fat with a set of slightly crazy parents, something I can related to on so many levels. You might have heard of Brittany before, she’s the blogger who vowed to have sex with her husband every day for a year and she’s the blogger who stripped down to her Spanx in a Ted Talk. Brittany also hosts an extremely popular Facebook page called Curvy Girls Guide and of course she has a blog. Brittany lets it all hang out and she does so without apologies or excuses. She’s a breath of fresh air and she’s all over the talk shows this week. If you’re looking for a fun read then pick up her book.

Jen Lancaster also has a new book out this week called I Regret Nothing: A Memoir. She’s written like a hundred books and still finds time to blog about her daily life. If you’re a blogger you know all about Jen and aspire to be like her. Back in the old days of blogging, when we all actually commented on each other’s blogs, you might have read her. Now everything happens on Facebook and no one leaves comments but when we did it was Jen we were trying to emulate. I haven’t read her book yet, I’m still reading Brittany’s but I’ve read her other books and they make me laugh so I don’t expect any less than that from this one.

Both of these books are inspiring because for those of who wrote a book or still want to write a book, it can happen to us too. You don’t need a publisher or a publicist either (though, lets face it, it helps a lot of you do) you can publish yourself and market it yourself. And, if you’re a blogger you know how to do those things better than most.

As some of you know I’ve written a book, a memoir, that I’ve shelved for various reasons that I said I wouldn’t talk about (but I so want to). I will publish, sooner than later, but there is still a lot of fear. Like Brittany’s story, I grew up fat and when you’re fat people treat you differently. Often those people are close to you, they are friends and family and while their behavior was shitty for a lot of us fat people we’ve tried to protect them from their own bad behavior. Reading Brittany’s book gives me courage to say fuck that shit and publish without worrying about what others think. As Anne Lamott said “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.