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Quit Your Bitchin’

Blogger: Janis Gaudelli – “The Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”

In my past blogs, I have shared ad nauseam how I am a tried and true gratitude-er.  My daily practice is as sacred to me as my morning cup of coffee. Gratitude enhances everything good and releases the anchor(s) weighing you down.  One of the anchors I struggle with this time of year is good ol’ bitching and complaining.  Complaining becomes my default approach to communicating.

Ever since I started practicing gratitude, I have found very little to complain about, but there are three months out of the year that are difficult for me. Specifically, January through March, aka Winter. Winter challenges my strong sense of gratitude and makes me downright bitchy.  The cold makes me irritable.  The snow becomes a nuisance.  Everything is staticky, dry and just God-awful.

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There’s that bitchin’ I was talking about.

If you live in the Northeast like I do, winter is inevitable, so I should be used to this, right?  I am so tired of feeling this way.  It’s time for me to snap out of my wintery funk and quit my bitching.

Thus far in 2019, I have given up sugar. Now, I am here to announce my plan to go bitch-free (or at least bitch-less) for the next 21 Days.  I wanted to get to the bottom of what it exactly means to complain by unwrapping its meaning.  Complaining is when we blame others, or life, instead of accepting the situation and taking responsibility to make things better.

Complaining is basically the grown-up version of whining: it’s an expression of powerlessness.  And who wants to feel powerless?  It’s a natural human instinct to complain about people, places, or things (like winter) that make life difficult. But have you ever noticed how often we bitch?  If you’re like me (from January through March), it’s more frequent than I care to admit.  Research has shown that the average person complains 30 times a day!  Armed with that stat, I began to document the # of times I bitched for three consecutive days. I included verbal complaints, those on social media, and of course my bitchy thoughts.  Here’s where I netted out:

Day 1: 11 verbal complaints, 7 social media complaints (i.e. I posted a complaint, or I complained on someone else’s post), involved in 2 conversations where the other person was complaining, and 7 bitchy thoughts.

Day 2: 7 verbal complaints, 4 social media complaints, 2 conversations, 8 thoughts.

Day 3: 3 verbal complaints, 1 social media complaint, 1 conversation, 4 complaining thoughts

Do you notice a pattern here?  My complaining began to decrease (for the most part) because I was paying attention.  Worth noting that I was off from work on Day 3, which tells me that the cause of much of my bitching is work (this is probably true for many people).

Let me very clear here: I don’t think it’s humanly possible to never complain.  In fact, I am suspect of those people who are always positive and complaint-free.  Shit happens, and a natural reaction is to bitch about said shit.  But by observing people for a living, and now checking myself, it seems we have taken up complaining as an Olympic sport.

Complaining is also bad for our health, y’all.  When we complain, our body releases extra cortisol, and that impairs our immune systems.  Believe it or not, complaining makes us more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.  Other harmful effects that might want to make you quit bitchin’ include increased stress, depleted energy, and heightened depression and anxiety. Not to mention it impacts our relationships and chips away at our self-esteem.  Crazy, right?  The words we speak and thoughts we absorb are powerful, friends.

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So, how do we stop this madness from affecting our overall health and making us miserable to be around?  As you may have guessed, I did my research.  There are legit no-complaining challenges out there (which I will cover later), but here are some common-sense basics if you’re not into challenges:

  1. Catch your complaints. Much like I did during that three-day trial, pay attention to when you complain, the source of your complaint, and who you’re complaining to.  Remember: complaining is just not what you say verbally, it’s your social media posts/comments, as well as your negative thoughts.  I know this is easier said than done, but it’s the only way to really know how often and why you’re complaining.

 

  1. Pay attention to the triggers. Are you complaining about a certain person all the time? Try limiting your time with them.  Do you bitch mostly at work?  Tell your co-workers to call you out when you do. Are you always complaining about your kids, parenting, etc.?  You’re on your own there (hahaha).

 

  1. Watch who you surround yourself with. Complaining is contagious.  Once I started practicing gratitude and began to complain less, I became sensitive to the people and situations when bitching went off the rails.  I didn’t judge those people. I was one of them, and again, they’re human.  I just knew I needed to limit my time speaking with them and putting myself in certain situations.

 

  1. If there is something worth complaining about (let’s face it, sometimes it’s warranted), approach it with a solution. Have a clear understanding of what needs to change. I’ll give you an example: my son has anxiety and triggers include changes in routine and other children’s verbal stims/outbursts/crying, etc.  Last year, we went through a few sucky months trying to curb it, and with that came my bitching.  Legitimate bitching? Hell yes.  Thing is, I knew just complaining about it wasn’t going to fix the problem.  Instead, I wrangled his team of experts (teachers, therapists, school psychologist, etc.) and we came up with a plan.  Within a month of putting that plan in place, my son’s anxiety decreased significantly– and so did my complaining.

Successfully decreasing bitch-fests means being more mindful.  Paying attention.  Listening to yourself and those around you.  Leaning into the solution to whatever you’re bitching about.

Now, if you’re into challenges like I am, I uncovered many.  In researching different “Complain-Free” challenges, I came across a common thread: no complaining begets happiness.  The people who have had success with these challenges all claim to be less-stressed, more productive and happier.  Sign me up!

The father of the most popular and publicized no complaint challenge is William Bowden.  His idea of going 21-Days complaint-free has changed his life and millions of others’.   I must admit it’s pretty hardcore.  After digging into the details, I found it to be a bit too restrictive for me (but it might be just right for you.)  Check it out here: https://www.willbowen.com/complaintfree/

I continued my search for a No-Complaint challenge that I felt was more aligned with my humanness.  Seek, and the challenge appears.  Ladies and Gents, I present to you “THE 21-DAY BITCH-FREE CHALLENGE”!

no complaint challenge

Here’s the game-changer: if a complaint comes to mind (and you know it will), acknowledge it, then think of how to verbalize that complaint in a more positive way.  For instance, I tend to complain about how sore my body is after workouts.  So, instead of saying, “Ugh, I’m so sore!”, I can reframe it to be more positive: “That was a good workout yesterday – I can really feel it!”.

This, my friends, is totally doable and worth a try.  What have we got to lose (except a helluva lot of bitching and complaining)?!  You with me?  Let’s go.

JGsignature


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Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels.  She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways.  Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living.  Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

FOLLOW JANIS AND THE DAILY FEELS TRIBE @:  FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM

Today on MLK Day, Wake Up to One of the Most Dangerous form of Racism…Coded Racism. Everyone in the Human Race is Accountable to Turn Reverend King’s Dream into a Reality. It’s Time!

Blogger: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”

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Chapter 21: Woke at the Border

As I stand and chat with one of my colleagues at a networking event, another associate taps me on the shoulder to congratulate me on the event I hosted that evening.

Humbly and gratefully, I thank her and introduce her to the colleague I was chatting with moments before.  She absently states that she knows him already, as she turns to him to say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you standing there.”

My mouth drops open as she quickly wishes us farewell, as she rushes to catch her train home.  I turn to him and stare with mouth agape…dumfounded.

It is critical to note that my colleague is a 6’3” African-American man who was a college athlete.  Compared to my 5’2” frame, he was really fucking hard to miss; and to add insult to injury, she interrupted our conversation.  It took me a solid five minutes to reconcile what I witnessed, and it hits me…it hits hard.

With the shock of the moment lingering, I ask him, “Did that just happen?”

He calmly responds, “What do you think just happen?”

I respond with disappointment and say, “I think that I just witnessed the most abject form of racism, subtext racism, and you were the victim of it.”

He firmly responds, “You are woke.”  He then went further to correct my language around subtext racism and educated me on coded racism; which is defined as statements of racist ideologies that are carefully designed not to appear racist.

As I reflect on this interaction, it strikes me that I didn’t say anything to this woman; I didn’t stand up for my colleague.  I was caught entirely off-guard.  In retrospect, I wholeheartedly regret not saying something to support my colleague, and now friend.   When we spoke about this later, he pointed out that she probably didn’t even realize what happened.  That racism is so systematic and seeped into our culture, that for many people it has become subconscious. And this is where the danger lies…

When I found out that I was scheduled to publish my blog on Martin Luther King Day, I realized the enormous opportunity to use The Daily Feels platform to share this story.  Furthermore, I wanted to challenge all of us to be more “woke”, and to inspire change by starting a long overdue conversation around racism.

As I began to write, I harkened back to my own history with racism as I tried to deconstruct the events that made this disgusting behavior and belief system uniformly unacceptable to me.  The moment my eyes opened…

To start with, I am an independent, liberal-leaning outcast in my family and my community.  But the collision between my beliefs and my family/community values came to a head the summer of 1989 (the summer of my 15th year of life, as I entered my junior year of High School).

Yusuf K. Hawkins, a 16-year old black man, was shot to death in Bensonhurst on August 23rd, 1989.  Hawkins and three friends were attacked by a crowd of 10 to 30 white youths, with at least seven of them wielding baseball bats.  As Yusuf Hawkins and his friends came to Bensonhurst to see a used car, they were beaten, and he was ultimately shot and killed on this tragic summer night.

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In the days that followed, Al Sharpton along with hundreds of protesters, peacefully marched down 20th avenue in Bensonhurst.  As they came to the corner of where we lived on 80th street, I recall (with disgust and rage) the Italian mobs, spitting at them, throwing fried chicken and watermelon.

It was not lost on me that Yusuf and I were the same age when he was murdered.  While I would go on and live my life, his life was lost just because he was black.

What saddens me most, is that even after 30 years of this despicable, frightening and culture-shifting loss, we still see an excessive amount of black lives lost for no other reason than the color of their skin.  These crimes against the black race live on…recurring as a living nightmare.

Around the same time, I remembered the day my friend Stacy (who was in the Academy with me in H.S.) came over my house to study for a project.  I didn’t know my father was home and I thought we were peacefully alone.  I decided to heat up some leftover pasta and meatballs, as it was her favorite meal.  I promised her that my moms was the best ever and she sassily replied, “I’ll be the judge of that!

Suddenly my father appeared as he heard us in the kitchen noshing and laughing while we prepared to study.

As I introduced Stacy to my father, he mumbled hello but seemed extremely upset.  He stormed back into his room and called me inside.   He angrily whispered to me, “How DARE you bring home her into the house to eat MY food.  How could you let that n##### eat off my dishes and use my fork???”

I got sick to my fucking stomach and screamed at him! “How ignorant and disgusting. You don’t even know her.  She’s brilliant and one of the smartest people in my class!  She was helping ME with my project!!!! How can you judge her and act this way because she’s black???!!!”

This didn’t end well for me…my father was not a good person, and he told me not ever to bring my friend Stacy to HIS house again.

I cried and cried that night out.  I cried for Stacy; and roared out of pure frustration, embarrassment and white-hot hatred for the man I called Dad.

The division between my father’s values and my own worsened.  Unfortunately, there are so many other memories, like this, that breaks my heart when I look back on my upbringing.  Moments that confuse me as I cannot understand how skin color, cultural identity, religion or sexual orientation matter at all when you are engaging with another human being; that these things have anything to do with whether they are a good and kind person.

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It’s these instances that made me want to disassociate with my culture and my race.  I didn’t understand. I didn’t agree.  I didn’t belong.

As I grew up and went to college, the people I surrounded myself with were vast and diverse.  People who were open-minded, curious and accepting.  Artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers who saw the world as much larger and more interesting than our small-minded Brooklyn ecosystem.

As I learned more about the origins of racism, I understood that racism was at the crux of nearly every single evil act and war in human history.   This knowledge and my personal experiences were the foundation that helped me realize I had a responsibility to be better than my upbringing and even more so to drive change; to convince others and educate them on the evils of racism.  To take advantage of my “privileges” that people of other races do NOT have in America.

It was the driving force behind my desire to foster diverse teams that represented all cultures, religions, and genders.  Ironically, but not surprisingly, what I came to discover was that the more diverse my team was the better the work and the results.  Our collaboration was better, our bond stronger as we defined our own communities and our own values that were grounded more in our similarities than our differences.

But as overt racism became intolerable and equal rights became law, the bubbling of coded racism took over as we have yet to solve the issue and origins of racism in human beings.   The cause and the effect.

As I stood in front of my colleague and friend, I witnessed his disappointment.   It broke my heart as he told me that this was an issue he still dealt with often.  At that moment, I knew I had a chance to correct my inaction.   So I decided to open this dialogue and in collaboration with my colleague, use my blog as a platform to help people understand the dire impact of racism and to call on our friends, colleagues, and family to join us in our efforts to change our culture of hate and judgment.  That we could together inspire others to initiate an honest and transparent conversation.  To communicate that we all have the responsibility to open the dialogue on the subject of racism and we all need to fight this on-going division of humanity, TOGETHER.  We are ALL accountable!!!

chris

I asked my colleague, to curate his advice and some essential facts to help lead this change… Here is his side of the story…and his heartfelt request of you all.

Be Mindful of What’s Going on Around You

When the event that Cherry Maggiore describes was happening in real time, I wasn’t shocked that it happened, as it is not an uncommon occurrence in my life. What surprised me was that the person that I was speaking with had the spatial awareness and aptitude to diagnose what was happening at the moment and most importantly, why it was happening. There is a certain sense of entitlement that many people have regardless of race or upbringing. As we progress in our career and journey as humans, we become accustomed to certain social norms and environments. It is entirely possible that many of us have never worked with a person of color and even more feasible that when we have, that person has likely not been in a position of power with the education and experience to support. What this means is that when a person of color is in the same room and space, it is entirely possible that one may assume that this person is “less than” what they actually are.

This happens to me on an almost daily basis. When people see my credentials, they often respond with shock and amazement. Rarely is it verbalized but the look on their face says it all, and then I am met with “oh, I didn’t realize…” usually followed by some form of coded language (more on that later).

The woman that did not acknowledge me or my existence at the moment was indeed not doing it overtly. Instead, she was just reacting to the environments in which she had become accustomed. Years of existing in a homogeneous work environment where a person of color is rarely on the same level or higher than herself. This is compounded by living and interacting with the same type of people.

At the end of the day, I was more proud than I was disappointed. Proud that a colleague recognized what was happening and articulated it instantly. Progress.

Be mindful of Coded Language

Author of the book Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, Ian Haney Lopez describes coded language as:

  • “… Coded speech operates on two levels,” he says. “It triggers racial anxiety, and it allows plausible deniability by crafting language that lets the speaker deny that he’s even thinking about race.”

Coded language, or using phrases or terms that actually mean other things has been around for many decades; however, many black people today have become very skilled in recognizing when coded language is used to describe something about themselves or another person.

An African – American middle manager within a previous company that I worked for described an interaction with a white male leader within the company when that person used the coded language of sorts to describe another company’s black executive.

When describing this Harvard Business School-educated executive, this leader made a point to say that he was “well-spoken” and “articulate.” Now at face value, this may appear to be a compliment, but when we dissect the spirit of the comment, each black person will agree that it is indeed a derogatory statement to describe this person. It assumes that the expectation was that the black executive would not be articulate or well-spoken and that this came as a surprise. The fact that he was so articulate was the exception and not the rule. They may also agree that they had rarely or never heard those terms used to describe a non-ethnic person. These statements continue to chip away at their psyche of Black professionals while they try to navigate corporate America. In this so-called “post-racial” society that we live in, many have detailed that coded comments have replaced seemingly bigoted comments that many adults had to deal with from decades past.

Today, coded language infiltrates our homes via the television, cubicles, and boardrooms across the country and the worst part of it is that there is a sentiment that this must be endured or one will be labeled as using the proverbial “race card” if a complaint is made or if one points out the undertones of such language.

It is also clear that coded language is not something that is unique to minorities as women in the workplace face the same issues. There often remains a sentiment that when a woman has a voice that she may be viewed as being aggressive or angry. Women have often had to conform to standards acceptable by men to fit in. Especially when environments are predominantly male, the woman is put in a position where her voice will not be heard or where she needs to assume a macho role to fit-in. Coded language can also be used to discriminate against employees over a certain age. Common coded terms used are ‘youthful” or “enthusiastic” to describe the ideal candidate.

In fact, one leader at a former organization has mentioned that the most desirable candidates on an executive track are those with “a lot of runway.” It is clear that the use of coded language can intentionally or unintentionally be used to marginalize certain members of groups and that there is an opportunity to extract value from these members and execute upon an effort to celebrate each person’s differences instead of alienating them because of it.

Never say “I don’t see color.”

Often I have heard very well-intentioned people say that they do not see color when making hiring decisions. When I hear this, I usually think to myself, that’s bullshit, and then I make clear to them that they should see color.

It is impossible not to see that I am black when I walk into a room. It is the first thing that anyone would notice about me. Only a few times in my career has someone who was meeting me for the first time after a phone or email relationship said: “wow, you’re black, I didn’t realize that!”

Many would think that I would be upset with such interaction, but to the contrary, it does not bother me at all. I am proud to be black, and I am somewhat relieved that the person was acknowledging that without making a value judgment. Accepting that people are different than yourself (and provide value) is the first step in recognizing that a diverse team will, in turn, bring diverse ideas to the meeting and help shape an environment that is more representative of most consumers.

Hire people who look different than yourself

Have you ever been at a meeting or event where you were the only “one” in the room? Only Hispanic or Black person, woman, young person, older person? Many have not had this experience and certainly not over a sustained, but for those of us who have to endure it every day, it is not easy.

It is true that people are often attracted to people who have something in common with themselves. In fact, many of us who have hired people will say things like, “she reminds me of myself” or “I am from the same town as him.” Or “I went to college with his dad.”  While on the surface, this may appear to be a benign comment but what it does is reinforce the fact that we often work in homogeneous environments with many hires being referrals from similar people like ourselves with minimal appetite for diversity as an input in our hiring criteria that would likely yield significant measurably better business results long term.

Everyone can agree that business is becoming increasingly global. Advances in technology allow for many companies to innovate, compete and differentiate from competitors. These changes present many challenges and difficulties to overcome, but they also create opportunities for continuous improvement. To win and maximize shareholder value, legacy companies, as well as start-ups, must rely on its visionary leader to make investments in the future to secure revenue growth. Companies must anticipate marketplace changes and evolution in customer tastes. Adaption to increased competition and making decisions about the complexion of human capital will be paramount in a company’s ability to be market leaders. The topic of diversity and inclusion can polarize and alienate many within the business while others may have an emotional reaction to the subject.

To extinguish emotions around diversity and inclusion, there must be clear metrics that allow for measurement of such efforts. The language of data transcends emotion and in many cases provides the data needed to make a decision about the future of the organization. Ultimately, any effort put forth will need to focus on potential problems and not specific people.

Ask questions and be open to dialogue

One of the most polarizing topics in popular culture today is the divide within our country about Black football players kneeling during the national anthem; the silent and peaceful protest of the injustice that many black people have had to endure as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or doing seemingly everyday kind things.

As a result of a varied career and education, I have become excellent friends with people that I would otherwise not come in contact with in my everyday routine. One of my closest friends is a 43-year-old white male from business school who lives in Columbus Ohio in an overwhelmingly non-diverse neighborhood, and his kid’s school has almost no representation of black or Hispanic people. I have visited him multiple times for long weekends, and as we move through the neighborhood, we play a game of counting the number of black people that we see. I often would joke that it was my cousin every time I saw a black person!

What makes him one of my closest friends is that we can have an open dialogue about race, inequality and our positions on it. Never do we argue or try to convince the other that our way of thinking is the right way, instead, we chat about our feelings but most importantly, we listen to one another.  He asks me ignorant questions about my race and upbringing, and I feel safe to do the same.

Ultimately, we disagree on the merits of those football player protests, but we listen, ask questions and learn. The final question that he or none of my closest friends have been able to answer is why does the Me Too Movement likely have close to 100% approval amongst Americans but the Black Lives Matter Movement have, at best, 50% approval? Aren’t both about marginalization, abuse of power and injustice? I suspect Dr. King would have a strong opinion on both movements and the paths in which we take to support or denounce either.

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Finally, I will add another request to the suggestions my friend and colleague provided above…

Take Action- If you see something, say something

Think back on some moments you may have witnessed racism or coded racism…challenge yourself to recognize the behavior and the language.  One of the most important things we need to do is recognize it, and the next is to speak up.

Additionally, bring diversity into your personal and professional life.  If you don’t have any friends outside of your race, culture, religion or sexual orientation make that a focus for the immediate future.  If you do and have never discussed this issue, take your friend/colleague/neighbor out to dinner and start talking.  Talk to your kids, ask them questions about this, educate them on MLK and other black leaders who have made such a tremendous impact on America and on the world.

One of the ways, I have contributed to making a change was by founding a diversity initiative at my company which we named, BOLD (Building Opportunity for Leadership and Diversity).  I am very passionate about building diverse teams as well as the urgent need to sponsor diverse talent throughout every stage of their careers.  And that was the foundation upon which BOLD was created and now exists (and my hope is that it will continue long after I am working at the company).  As the Founder and Executive Champion of BOLD, it is my way of using my privilege to impact long-tale change.

Nearly 56 years after Mr. King uttered the words “I Have a Dream,” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28th, 1963, we have yet to fulfill his dream.    And those words are as relevant and important today as they were the day he spoke them; especially as we continue to battle this pervasive, dangerous and systematic cultural problem that impacts the lives of millions of people.

Today, I will ask you all to do three things: share this blog, share our story with a friend and/or colleague and start the conversation.  Don’t let fear or discomfort stop you…be brave and let’s decide to come together to wake the nation.

Let’s finally be part of making Reverend King’s dream come true because even the smallest act can help change the world.

chris

Xoxo

Cherry Maggiore


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Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.

New Year, New Me? Nah, Same JB…Just Going to the Next Level, Baby

Blogger: JB McCann – “The Phoenix”

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The title of my blog says it all.  I am the same woman in 2019, that I was only a few weeks ago.  However, this year, I’m stepping it up to a new level.  My goals for this year have been in motion for a while, but now that the time is upon me…I’ve never been more “ready” for this next stretch of life.

How can I be so confident that my plan will hold up?  Well, I guess I don’t know for sure.  I do know that no matter how much I achieve or lose this year, it won’t be from lack of effort or heart.  I did some major soul searching in 2018, and I think I’ve finally unleashed my inner beast.  How?  What did I do to gain such insight in only 365 days?  It’s so easy.  You will laugh as I tell you the epiphany that hit me on Jan. 1st, 2019, and gave me a subtle grin I can’t wipe off now.

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CONFIDENCE

First off, I had to realize that whatever is being thrown my way is part of a season…just a simple chapter in a bigger book.  Whatever happens today, does not stop tomorrow from coming my way. I spent too many nights letting the feeling that a moment, place, thought will define me forever.  I learned that the best part of life does not lie in the moment, but in the dreams that have yet to manifest into reality.  I must give myself some well-deserved space to clear out the things that no longer serve me, and replace them with the love and strength from within.  Once this confidence is rooted, there’s nothing that life could throw at me that can take me down forever.

Trust me, I wasn’t always a self-doubter.  Matter of fact, for most of my life, my confidence has been the one astounding trait that has weathered the toughest of storms.  It was genuine and modest.  It was rooted in faith.  I wasn’t starting from scratch in 2018.  It was more like I was on a road trip, and running low on gas with not a station in sight for 100 miles, and that was exactly how many miles I had on my odometer before I broke down.  It took all I had in me to make it to this fill station.  But, hey, now that I am filling back up, I realize there was no need to think about the negative what-ifs.  I just needed to focus on the certainty… I will always make it to the next chapter.  My messy chapters can seem like a step back to some.  Not to me.  I see it as simply texture and depth to a beautiful book I’m nowhere near done writing.

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CLARITY

I had to realize that SHAME and GUILT are very different things. I learned several things about myself this year.  They weren’t my finest moments.  I had to really sit with those choices and categorize them accordingly.  I noticed this one most with my son.  His diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder explained so many things for us as parents.  The revelation also came with a sea of self-loathing and shame. Why didn’t we see it?  The phrase “if I had known”, flooded my home so many times.  If we had known he had these “special needs”, we would have addressed “X” this way.  Immediately, there was shame smeared all over my husband and I for being so caught up in hitting professional milestones, academic benchmarks, etc. that we figured our son’s outbursts and tantrums were somehow a product of something outside our home…the school, the other kids…or even, god forbid this was it…he was simply an entitled brat? When we realized what was REALLY going on, we had to sit down and redo our entire parenting strategies.

Now that we all are on the same page, the next thing my therapist and I focused on was turning shame to guilt.  It was something my son had to learn as well.  He was so used to being told “Ollie, why won’t you listen?” or “Ollie, you know that’s not ok”.  He, too, had shame.  He was mad at himself for not just “getting it” like the normal kids.  Here we all were…ashamed…ashamed for not knowing, ashamed for being too logical, ashamed for letting frustrations limit our communication.   The list could go on for days.  To help my son, I had to teach him the very skills I, myself, had very little of in 2018.  I had to turn shame into guilt.

How do you do this?  Easy.  I told my son that SHAME is when we are mad at ourselves for causing the situations we are in.  GUILT is when we acknowledge the ACTION was inappropriate to the situation and WE, the person, must change the chosen action.  That way, we admit when we are wrong, but we maintain our confidence in ourselves that we can choose a more effective choice next time.  Sounds simple, huh?  Probably so.  Believe it or not, this skill isn’t taught to us all.  Shame has claimed more lives than anything on this planet.  It depletes our faith in ourselves.  It tells the subconscious that “you”, the person, is somehow innately “bad”, and therefore incapable of growth.  It’s an evil thought process that fuels depression, eating disorders, addiction, and it does not care at all about your social class.  You can be the wealthiest, most famous person on earth, and if you have shame deep in your heart…your self-worth will crumble when you least expect it.

Guilt, on the other hand, THAT little feeling…that feeling gives you compassion, hope, and a sense that light can be found even in the darkest of rooms.  Guilt is humbling.  It’s supposed to make you open your eyes to how your choices affect others, without demoralizing your character permanently.  I needed my son to see that his outbursts in class, his ticks, his sensitivity to loud noises…while he was guilty of the actions that disrupted his classmates, he didn’t need to be ashamed of who he is.  As I told him this, I was also taking notes.  I must not beat myself up about the past.  I must be open to trying new tactics to achieve the same goals at a speed and disposition that doesn’t push me or those I love outside our capacities.

jb

CONSIDERATION

Lastly, in 2018, I think I was a tad too sensitive.  I was burnt out from giving more than I ever asked in return.  I was bitter about certain career choices I had made that didn’t pan out like I had hoped.  I was annoyed by teachers & sitters all telling me my kid was disruptive.  I was over people walking on me.  Finally, I just stopped living by the motto “do unto others as you want done to you”, and I simply started just saying no.  No, you can’t talk to me like that.  No, I don’t want to get to know you.  You seem super shallow, and I just can’t.  No, I don’t want to work for you.  You only care about yourself.  I had turned from sweet, “sure, anything you want!” chick, to an “I will cut you if you try to screw me over or judge my kid” kind of lady.  I was SCARY, you guys, and I hated this version of myself so much, so fast.  Look, life didn’t give me much to work with the past two years.  I’ll give you the full debriefing over coffee if you really want it. Brace yourself…it’s colorful and at some point, we will have to switch to decaf to shake the jitters.   But seriously, I became this no shit-taking, direct, loud woman, and I realized I had lost almost all my consideration.  Were my testimonies valid?  Yes.  Did I have a right to speak my mind and stand up for myself?  Yes, but I had lost my ability to maintain tact.  I had forgotten the art of being considerate by the end of 2017. One awkward situation at a time in 2018, I found my way back to me. I gained some backbone this past year, but there were some moments I really took my boldness too far.  Yes, ladies and gents, you can do that.  So, in 2019, I am checking myself regularly to ensure my assertive nature, and my gentle heart are working together to tackle whatever lies ahead.

And well, that’s really it.  Told you it was simple.

jb

Every year, I choose a word to focus on for the new year that will elevate me to a new level.  Forward ever. Backward never. That’s the saying my husband always says when things are tough.  I applaud his optimism for the future.  On the contrary, I always look back and pick a few keywords that maybe could use some polishing up.  To know where you are going, you must know where you’ve been, right?…at least, that’s what the Cheshire Cat taught me.  So, before I completely redirect my eyes to the road ahead, I encourage you to take a quick glance back to the road you just walked.  Study the bends, the trends, the patterns, the landscape.  Don’t judge the path you chose.  That will do you no good now.  No shame in trying something you thought was for you.  You may be guilty of taking a few wrong turns.  Either way, here you are today.  This road is not done.  If you want to enjoy this life ahead of you, you better have confidence you can face anything life puts in your path, clarity of what this debris on the road really is; and consider yourself fortunate that you have another day to build something special in your future.


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JB McCann has worked in “The Biz” for almost a decade, yet she’s somehow managed to keep her feet firmly on the ground. Her altruistic spirit aims to evoke your Inner Phoenix and encourage readers to take the difficult leaps in life, so you can continue to grow.

A little bit about life, and the thoughts that are actually going through my head when I’m ignoring the people that are talking to me

Blogger: Michael Strange – “The No Filter Father”

When Janis asked me to write for The Daily Feels, I was honored. She wanted me to give some perspectives from a dad’s point of view. Other than writing a few lines on a status update or a text message, writing is not in my daily routine. I started to read some of the other bloggers and right away I knew I would be in some serious trouble. They were all smarter and better-looking people than me. I liked a lot of their styles, and being that I’m new, I thought I would copy Jessica, and start by telling you a little bit about me:

I met my wife online almost ten years ago. She is an amazing woman. She is the complete opposite of me. She was in the Peace Corps and she cares about other people (I do a little, don’t tell her…).  She is a Liberal (I’m an independent but probably more on the conservative side). I knew I was going to marry her after the first date. She has no interest in pop culture (has never seen Jaws).  She defriended me on Facebook because she does not like my posts, apparently, she does not like my sense of humor. Wait, why did I marry this woman again????

 

I have 2 boys: Cameron age 5, and Brady age 2. Most men become dad’s in their late 20’s or early 30’s. I was fortunate enough to become a father when I turned 40. Sometimes I feel a little old for the job when I see friends on Facebook posting about their kids getting into college, but age is just a number that has never bothered me. My wife drags me to all the birthday parties, and I find it hard to relate to some of the parents because they don’t even remember the Reagan administration. They haven’t even seen the classic 80’s movies from John Hughes… Shit, I can’t even quote John Bender without getting a weird look from them.
I’m a huge advocate for organ donation. I had a Kidney transplant in 2006. I have been completely healthy ever since. My sons will not carry the disease that I had, thank goodness. It baffles me that people do not donate when they pass away. For years I was embarrassed to tell people about my health issues. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. Now I am ashamed that I was not more open for all these years.
I am originally from Silver Lake (SLR…).  I grew up in a house with 2 older sisters, my mother, and grandmother. So I was surrounded by woman growing up. My father lives in Texas, I have no relationship with him at this point. Growing up in a house full of women has taught me to respect and treat women well. Something every man should know how to do.
I enjoy cuddling, long walks on the beach during sunset, a glass of wine to relax at the end of the day, and a good romantic comedy.  Sorry, those were lies from my online dating profile…
Every day at 11:11 I wish that donuts would someday have the same nutritional value as spinach. My wish has not come true yet.
I have read over 30 biographies on US Presidents. I find their lives fascinating. How they were brought up, and what made them want the loneliest job in the world.
For the past 23 years, I have been in the mortgage business. To say that I like my job would be like saying Trump is a good president and a good man.

My wife and I lived in Manhattan for 6 years before moving to Connecticut. Nothing made me happier than giving a tourist bad directions or recommendations to really expensive restaurants.

Now let me give you a few details of my life today:

It’s 3AM in the morning. I’m sound asleep in my comfortable, warm king size bed. Then my five-year-old son Cameron comes into our room, he climbs up into our bed, he plops himself down hard enough to wake up my wife and I.  He rolls around and makes himself comfortable, and typically takes up most of my side of the bed. He kicks me several times. I ‘m now wide awake, with just a little bit of space available to sleep. I could pick him up and bring him back to his bed, but I know that these nights will not last forever. I love the fact that he is lying next to me. This is one of the great moments of fatherhood. It was the hardest club I ever got into but once in you never want to leave. We all wish we could stop the hands of time with our children, they grow up so fast, One day you are carrying them everywhere, the next they are sort of independent kids that only need you for rides and money. As you watch them grow up you’re so proud of them, and what they have become, but you are also secretly wishing that you could read Good Night Moon to them one more time.

Everything in life is a compromise. We compromise with our partners, our kids, at work.

I try to make deals with my kids all the time. My wife doesn’t agree with it but I want them to eat their vegetables, and not have ice cream for dinner. So, if I say to them eat five more bites and you will get dessert, my wife gets mad at me, not in a bad way but she thinks it sets a bad example. She also thought me deep throating a banana in front of the kids was a bad example, and after little thought agreed. I know it will come back to bite me in my amazing ass in a few years when Cameron says, “if I eat the rest of my vegetables you have to buy me a new iPhone”.

Lately, I have been trying to work with them to clean up after themselves. Especially with their clothes. I find dirty, fucking socks all over the house, especially under the couch. Like why the hell did you actually stuff them underneath there? The clothes are everywhere in the house at times, they will learn where the laundry baskets are…I have decided with this there is no compromise to be made.

With my wife it is a little different, she “asks” if she can do something, knowing in advance that she is going to do it no matter what I say. Last week, for example, she wanted to go to the beautiful city of Hartford to see her friend get sworn into the state Senate and go to the inauguration balls. Spend the night up there. She worked a lot on the campaign and it is a passion for her. There was no way I could say no you can’t go. But on the flip side, she compromises with me and lets me watch football, play golf, go on golf trips. Everyone wants some away time, especially me but I understand there is a fine line in any relationship where neither participant should cross and take advantage of the other. I just wish kids understood this line instead of rewriting every time they want something.

At work here is the compromise: we probably don’t like our jobs, don’t like our pay, don’t like our bosses and the compromise is that you still have to go in.  So, suck it up snowflake.

I’m going to change course here and rant and give you some opinions:
– I think texting is the lowest form of human communication but we cannot live without it.

– I believe that social media is tearing this country apart even though I still love Facebook.
– I don’t want to see political posts. I think this is what ruins friendships. Look I don’t care what party you voted for, where you stand on gun control or the wall border. I get it that I’m probably in the minority here but I have always felt that I like a person for whom they are and how they ever treated me, not their political opinions.
– Something that annoys the shit out of me is that some dickhead came up with the brilliant idea of putting an overpriced shitty fucking gift shop at the end of every ride/attraction at an amusement park or museum. If I can get out of one of these places and spend less than $20 I get a boner I’m so excited. Sorry, had to get that off my chest.
– Netflix and Amazon prime are probably saving more marriages. Couples now can binge watch shows and have something to talk to each other about. Where Facebook is destroying marriages because now you can reunite with your old high school crush.
– Speaking of Amazon, they’re now killing more mom and pop stores than Walmart and yet no one gives them grief. Probably because we all love their service.
– I think The Real Housewives is the dumbest thing ever, if you watch one episode your IQ goes down a little, it’s even worse than anything with the word Kardashian in it.
– Celebrities and Athletes should shut up about politics. Can Madonna go away already?
– Why do they have a tip line on the receipt when you go in to pick up your food? Do I really need to tip the hostess for turning around and grabbing the bag?
– The west coast has way better fast food then the east coast.
– For every death in America, there is one less Newspaper reader, for every birth, there is one more internet user.
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micwithtag

Native New Yorker, now living in Connecticut. Husband, and father of two amazing boys. Kidney transplant recipient, and a big supporter of organ donation #donatelife. Mortgage banker, but not by choice. In my free time, I enjoy golf, reading (especially presidential biographies), and finding that hole in the wall restaurant that has great food.

A Big Year Ahead

Blogger: Dee-Dee Kanhai – “The Spice of Suburbia”

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When the clock struck MIDNIGHT on December 31st, I was surrounded by some of my favorite people on the planet. I glanced over at my husband, who was laying on the couch, Sofia, my 13-year-old niece under one arm and Chloe, our 17-year-old daughter, under the other. The “baby”, Scarlett Mae, holding the dog and laying across all of their laps. If I could have imagined the perfect night, it would have looked a lot like this. I felt as if my heart was living outside of my body just looking at them, smiling, and giving kisses to one another, as Auld Lang Sine played in the background.

For a moment, I begin to reflect back on 2018 but I quickly catch myself, I am going to start looking ahead.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I had to remove myself. I could feel the tears coming on. It wasn’t just midnight, the end of a very hard and emotional year, it was the beginning of a NEW YEAR, one that holds so much uncertainty to me.

I walk into the dark kitchen, alone for a few seconds before my husband finds me. I am leaning on the cold granite countertop. He wraps his arms around me, pulls me close, and holds my head against his chest. Tears leave his shirt damp. We can hear the kids celebrating in the next room. They are joyous, making phone calls to their parents and friends. They laugh and yell, “Happy New Year”, as we just hug in the dark.

After more than 18 years, Rome and I are connected. It’s beyond him being the “love of my life” at this point. We are soulfully, spiritually and emotionally connected. We are able to speak without words. Our intuitions are in sync. Our energies and vibrations keep us connected, even if we are hundreds of miles apart. He is, essentially, part of me. So, I didn’t have to tell him why 2019 felt so much more intense and important. I knew he was feeling the exact same uncertainty.

Our embrace in the dark goes on past midnight until we are interrupted by the sound of fast little feet getting closer and closer. Then suddenly the light switches on temporarily blinding us, “What are you doing?” Scarlett says very skeptically. We avoid the question, pulling her in and smothering her with kisses. Her tiny little body wiggles out of our grip and she runs off laughing. Scarlett keeps us young.

I let out a sigh, finally saying what is on my mind, “I keep thinking about Aunt Nina and Uncle Skips Anniversary party”. I glance at Rome, he nods his head, like he just gets what I am saying. I am pretty sure we have both thought about it since the mid-December gathering. A Golden Anniversary, what a remarkable feat.

I flashback to my Uncle, who is aging so gracefully, as he stood there in front of his family and friends reading a beautiful poem to my Aunt. A testament of what 50 years of marriage truly is like. At times, he struggled to get the words out, it was such a real moment. I hear him remind us, marriage is work. It is happiness and sadness. Marriage has hard times and easy times. Sometimes it feels like more than any one person can handle. Then, there will be those simple moments, where everything falls into place. It’s not running away when you feel helpless. Making it through the storm and then enjoying the rainbow, together. Learning to ask for forgiveness and then being able to forgive. Day after day, year after year, no matter the circumstance, the common theme was LOVE. Finally, he said, “there was nobody else he could have imagined this life with”.

It was everything I needed to hear.

My Aunt, without a prepared speech or notes, stood up to reciprocate her feelings. I look at her, she looks amazing. Healthy. Glowing. Love is a great antidote to aging. She wholeheartedly agrees with everything my Uncle said, and even emphasized a few parts for those in the back. Many of us in the room, married, in new relationships, looking for love, embracing single life – could find something to relate to in each of their words.

As Aunt Nina doted on her husband, she adds, “You love someone so much, you build a life with them. Then you have children and you love them more than you ever thought possible. Your kids become your life. Then… you become a grandparent and that love is once again renewed– it’s overwhelmingly powerful…” she pauses and looks around the room “but the one thing nobody ever prepared me for was… The love I would have for my Nieces and Nephews, their husbands and wives” she said. I sat there, consumed by her voice “these babies… I got to love and enjoy them. Watching them grow up and celebrate milestones, then they have babies… I have Great Nieces and Great Nephews. Who knew you’d fall in love SO MANY TIMES?”

Then she repeated my Uncle’s sentiment… “I couldn’t imagine this beautiful life with anybody else”.

Everyone toasted to that.

I was surrounded by cousins, each of whom I am sure Aunt Nina has told: “YOU ARE MY REAL FAVORITE”. I am sure we each thought she was speaking directly to us as she said those words. I can assure you, she was speaking to me. I am actually, literally, her favorite.

I am sure we all left that party feeling like we were a part of their “Love Story”. They know we are all watching and learning from them. It isn’t easy but it IS possible to last 50 years together. A great reminder to us all.

I have to admit, I was on a high after all that LOVE talk. It wasn’t until we were walking to the car, that I remembered how badly I needed out of these Leggs Control Top Slimming Stockings I bought just for the occasion. Damn, I have been uncomfortable since the half-hour I spent trying to fit myself into these contraptions. Stockings were obviously designed by a scorned man. I realize this is a three-man job. I lay my back on the seat and toss my heels onto the sidewalk. Legs are in the air while Chloe grabs my right foot and Jerome grabs the left. They are struggling to peel the tights from me, like a layer of skin. I think THIS IS LOVE.

I lay there getting freed from this prison of nylon and spandex when it occurs to me what we just witnessed. As they twist and pull these tourniquets off my legs, I look up at the beautiful night sky, the moon bright over New York City, I profess “FIFTY YEARS BABE… May WE have the endurance and STRENGTH to get through many more decades together”!!!

They both look up at me, in silence, legs in the air. CRICKETS…

They have finally succeeded, I am free!

They are both shaking their heads, laughing – clearly at me – as they get in the car. Maybe it was my timing. Either way, the sentiment was genuine.

As we head up to bed, we decide we will have a 50th Anniversary Party when the time comes because “I cannot imagine my life without you by my side Jerome”.

Trying to ignore the bickering over who gets what blanket, and why Scarlett takes up the most space but is the smallest of all the kids. I am grateful. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As 2019 begins, I hope the world is ready for US. These next few months have so much in store. We will witness a Senior Prom, our only child will be a High School graduate, and an actual “adult” (according to the “LAW” anyway). Then, she plans on attending college and living on campus. By August, life as I know it will be entirely different. I realize I will need my husband more than ever. (Between us, he will need me too!)

These are the real tests… I took notes!

May 2019 be a year of AMAZINGNESS for all of you!


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Dee-Dee Kanhai, aka “The Spice of Suburbia”, was a big city girl for 25 years who was transplanted to the Suburbs of Northern New Jersey. This relocation led to her “undoing” and with that, the discovery of her true self. Besides being a wife and mother to a teenage daughter and toy Chihuahua, Dee-Dee works in finance and owns a small Etsy Shop @LoveTheUndoing, where she sells heart-made jewelry, crystals, and other whimsical crafts. Dee-Dee is a student of life, teacher of meditation, practicing yogi and a mystical moon child.

Dee-Dee’s Etsy Shop

Love The Undoing Website



 

Worry is Bullshit

Blogger: Julie Slater – “The Lotus Flower”

I have some shocking news. I don’t have my life figured out. Not. One. Bit.

I have this constant repeat pattern circling my brain where I keep asking myself:

  • What am I doing?
  • What should I be doing?
  • What if I did something else?
  • What if ______?

I put in a pretty solid effort on most days, but I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough. On some days when I should be doing all the things, I instead want to curl into a ball and ignore it all. I would be an amazing hibernating bear.

But the good news (I think) is that I am a sucker when it comes to this universe stuff. I do believe the universe has plans for us. And I swear, I really, really DO believe things happen for a reason, things are already aligned for us, and that things happen exactly when they should. But all of that takes a whole load of patience which isn’t exactly my strong suit. When I was born, if someone was handing out patience – I’m sure I must have skipped that line. Who has time for that?

The thing that caught me off guard last week was when I was recording my latest audio book. Since I’ve started narrating, I’ve found the non-fiction books I narrate have become my teachers. My latest lesson came as I was voicing the book, Thus Spoke the Plant. Monica Gagliano’s words spoke to me about the worry loop in our head, and how we cause so much pain for ourselves by wanting to control things. Wanting to control things? Guilty as charged. But, what if…

 “…we stopped and waited in the darkness…And as we relaxed in the belly of the unknown and handed ourselves over to life, what if we discovered a surprising clarity to see what is truly happening and what needs to be done?”

 Hmmm. What if we waited in the darkness? What if we accepted things AS THEY ARE with no desire to change them – at least not in this current moment? What if we just sat with it?

My teacher continued:

“…it is when we are willing to let life surprise us that alternatives and unanticipated solutions become visible and accessible. And the best part of this entire process is that once out of our insane loop of control and insecurity, we are effortlessly delivered exactly where we are going.”

When I voiced those words, my eyes teared up. I was speaking the words that were speaking to me. I literally said out loud, “Universe, I get it, already!!”, and I thought to myself – what is it going to take to get myself out of this loop of self-doubt, worry, and the need to control what is happening (or not happening).

I do know for certain, I don’t want to worry anymore. And I don’t want to wait for happiness. I want to rid myself of the loops: “If only this happened, I’d be happy,” “I’ll be able to relax when this finally happens.” I don’t want to wait to be in a place of bliss. Bliss can be found anywhere, during anything. So, I am therefore refusing to wait. Refusing to worry. Because, my dear reader…

Worry is bullshit.

16th Century French author Michel de Montaigne would certainly agree with me. He once said: 

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

How much of what we worry about actually happens? And does worrying about something in any way change the outcome? The answer is no. And you know why. Because…

Worry is bullshit.

Worry is bad for your body, too. A simple search on WebMD shows chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. The problem occurs when fight or flight is triggered daily by excessive worrying and anxiety. The fight or flight response causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel. When the excessive fuel in the blood isn’t used for physical activities, the chronic anxiety and outpouring of stress hormones can have serious physical consequences, including: suppression of the immune system, digestive disorders, and heart attack – to name a few. I’m no doctor, but this led me to my scientific conclusion:

Worry is bullshit.

Can I get an amen? But how do we stop worry? Understanding worry’s bullshitedness helps. You’re halfway there! Choosing when to worry helps, too. I’ve done some personal studies. And guess what, waking up at 5am worrying is not a good idea (ya think?). I now am able to laugh at myself when I wake up at 5am. I tell myself, “Nope, not right now”, and I make myself go back to sleep (most times it works). You CAN retrain your brain. Setting aside a small amount of time once a week to worry helps. I just keep putting it off for another day. “I’ll worry tomorrow” has done wonders for me. (Procrastination worry! Finally, procrastination works in my favor.)

There’s also the idea of rationalizing my worry. Let’s say I’m worried about money – I ask myself the real questions – “Have I been able to eat?”, “Do I have a place to live?”, “Do I have clothes and shoes?” (I mean, I’ll never have enough shoes.) Ok. Guess what? Money is just money. There is always a chance to get more. I know right now – I’m OK. I think it’s about taking in this very present moment. If I really dig into this very moment, right here, I can sit with just being.

Maybe I can’t be worry-free all the time, but I can certainly worry less.

I don’t always feel it, but I do believe we’re exactly where we need to be. And a deep breath can remind me of how to be in the now. Ok, maybe two deep breaths. Maybe 10.

Even if it’s for short periods, I am making a pact with myself to give worry the heave-ho. It’s my 2019 Worry Break Up Plan. We can still be friends, Mr. Worry, but you’re going to have to stop calling. And you’re certainly not sleeping over anymore.   Oh, and leave your copy of the apartment key on the counter.

Namaste.



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julieblogpic-1Julie Slater, aka THE LOTUS FLOWER, looooves music. Besides being a rabid fan and musician, you may recognize her voice. She’s a voiceover artist and audiobook narrator (www.julieslater.com). She’s DJ’d on top stations: 88.5 FM and 100.3 the Sound in LA and 92.3 K-Rock in NYC following Howard Stern.

When she’s not at concerts, you can usually find her meditating or in the kitchen. She has a slight obsession with deep, dark cabernets & small batch whiskey. Namaste!

The Secret Society

Blogger: Padraic Maroney – “The Neurotic Urban Millennial”

Each month, when I sit down to write my latest masterpiece for The Daily Feels, I struggle to find a topic. As a sometimes freelance writer and an award-winning (hey, it just happened in November so I’m going to milk it) marketer extraordinaire, I shouldn’t have much of a problem writing. Yet, here I sit each and every time, procrastinating until it’s almost due, trying to figure out what to write.

One of the differences is that in those cases I don’t have to worry about writing anything personal. As a journalist, the number one rule is to keep yourself out of the story. I can write about the time Channing Tatum shared the story about burning his penis, what director Darren Aronofsky ate during our breakfast interview, or a profile on how hilarious Jane Lynch is in no time flat. I hope you didn’t trip on all of those names I just dropped on you.

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Sure, writing movie reviews you give your personal opinion, but I am really good at being judgmental, so it suits me well. Also, it helps that I have been able to make myself delusional enough to believe that no one reads anything I write. For 20 years — I’m my head — maybe 5 people have read anything that I wrote.

You see, the problem is that I am a pretty private person for the most part. Check my Facebook, I don’t usually post too much actual info about myself. The posts are pictures and random things. Sure, I share things with my close friends, but I choose what to share and with whom.

Growing up, my mother instilled a sense of secrecy. She would tell us what happened in the house stayed in the house. We weren’t to talk to our relatives about what was going on within our immediate family or to share with our friends what might be going on. I don’t know if this an attempt to portray a certain image of the family or just a mother trying to control her children.

Nevertheless, as much as I might have hated the idea as a child, it became ingrained as I became an adult. Most conversations are kept at the surface level — work stress, daily events, etc. Even my family members talk about how I don’t share things with them.

I don’t do this intentionally. In fact, I used to consider myself an open book until I realized that I was emotionally cut off, maybe even dead inside.

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So, every month while offering a slight glimpse into my life, it raises my anxiety. I am sharing something that not many people know about me, being vulnerable and exposed and worrying how people will react freaks me out. It makes me feel bad sometimes, because of the deep, emotional posts that some of the other bloggers are writing. Usually my posts come from having a drink and biting the bullet, then just hoping for the best.

I ask that you all to be patient as I become more comfortable with sharing parts of myself. Let’s make a deal, you’ll stick with me and I promise not to bore you too much. If nothing else, my gifs will be bring the LOLs.



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PMPadraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome. His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

 

High Fives @ The Feels

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HIGH FIVES @ THE FEELS

Each blogger has a unique positioning here at The Daily Feels. We’re all about learning lessons and sharing our blessings, so we created an uplifting, fun, encouraging piece of content that allows us to do that in the form of a high-five. Introducing, “HIGH FIVES @ THE FEELS”.

Kicking us off is Julie Slater, The Lotus Flower.  She shares 5 tips on getting your head out of your ass in the form of a powerful high five!  Check it out below and tell us what you think!

*major high-five goes to JB McCann for her amazing editing skills 🖐

To Date or Not to Date That is the Question. After giving up on Dating Sites, How the Hell Can This Divorced, Single Career-Mom Find Love?

Blogger: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”

 

CHAPTER 20:  THREE BLIND DATES AT THE BORDER

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Truth be told, I don’t watch a lot of TV, I’m more into movies and my nine-year-old daughter, MSP, usually controls TV time to watch movies or now, pre-teen shows like Fuller House (kill me now!!!).  In the rare event I do watch anything, its HGTV but recently I’ve been obsessed with a show on Lifetime called, Married at First Sight.  The show is going into its 8th season and the 9th season is already confirmed.

Maybe it’s the eternal romantic bubbling under the surface of my jaded realist…my undying hope that true love does exist.  GOD! I rue the day John Hughes ever entered the cultural zeitgeist and produced some of my favorite Rom-Coms of the ’90s (most starring Molly Ringwald).  I blindly believed in the happy ending: Quirky, artistic chick meets popular hot dude.  He’s intrigued but battles his crew.  By the end of the movie he finally realizes she’s the one and rejects all his jock friends to declare his love.

And they lived happily ever blah, blah, blah…until she farted in bed and he came home late from a night out drinking with his buddies.  I mean really, what is a happy ending anyway??? Life is long, clunky, messy and has many highs and lows and through it all love evolves; John Hughes clearly forgot to mention this in his films.

So I binge on Married at First Sight, a very different take on the Hughes version of love.  For background purposes, the premise of the show is basically blind or arranged marriage.  Yes, as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s not a new concept.  The show adjoins algorithmic data to the age-old idea that your family and friends know better who is a fit for you and your future.

I was genuinely curious to see if arranged relationships are better when it comes to finding love, inspiring people to commit and their willingness to do the work to make it last (farts, beer and all).  Couples are paired using numerous tests, interviews, and other scientific evaluations to be matched up with a potential mate, and all couples agreed to meet for the first time on their wedding day.  Executive producer Chris Coelen’s interest in the show ties directly to his own romantic experiences. He actually met his wife on a blind date, so he already had a sense of how to try and find love with a complete stranger.

According to Wikipedia

“Arranged marriages were widespread throughout the world until the 18th century. Typically, marriages were arranged by parents, grandparents or other relatives. Some historical exceptions are known, such as courtship and betrothal rituals during the Renaissance period of Italy and Gandharva marriages in the Vedic period of India. 

In China, arranged marriages – sometimes called blind marriages – were the norm before the mid-20th century. Marriage was a negotiation and decision between parents and other older members of two families. The boy and girl were typically told to get married, without a right to consent, even if they had never met each other until the wedding day.

The lowest divorce rates in the world are in cultures with high rates of arranged marriages such as Amish culture of the U.S., Hindus of India, and Ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel.   According to a 2012 study by Statistic Brain, 53.25 percent of marriages are arranged worldwide.” 

Yes, there may be many reasons for the low divorce rate with arranged marriages; maybe women being ostracized by their community inspired them to stay married. Hell, it’s still pretty compelling data.

Considering I am a divorced middle-aged career mom, my chances for finding love are markedly low.  Add that to the fact that I’ve been on every single dating site with ZERO success.  I constantly barrage myself with questions like: Is it me?  Or, is it them?  Should I give up on love?  Maybe I just have to be patient (mind you I am the least patient person)? Is it just better to live a single happy life? Then the most desperate of all, maybe we missed each other, and I’ll meet him in the after-life? I mean seriously, this has gone too far…

As I shared previously, I gave up on dating about four months ago.  I decided to leave it to fate and deleted all my dating apps.  Well, folks, fate fucking forgot to send a guy (really any guy).  The net, net is that after giving up on dating apps, I have not had a date since.  Not one!

Ironically, after “dating” myself for the past four months, I’ve had the time of my life.  There is no pressure, no questioning, there are no worries about whether they will call or show up.  No ghosts or zombies.  No lies or sudden confessions about past transgressions.  No criminals.  No cheating.  No vampires.  No Liberal vs. Republican arguments.  And no being left at a club at 1am for a stripper. Life is delightfully simple, easy and fun as hell!

And yet, quite lonely.  Not because I’m alone (I am so blessed to have so much love and support in my life), but what I really miss is intimate companionship.  I miss having someone to laugh with, someone to share inside jokes, to go on adventures with, to be affectionate too.  I miss that last call of the day (FUCKING John Hughes!).  To spontaneously call and say, let’s go slam down some pizza and beers and sing karaoke (oh, wait, I’ve actually NEVER had that before with a boyfriend OR husband).  Still, I miss the idea of it; that connection with a partner.  I miss being touched.  And boy, oh boy, do I miss the sex!

Then I recalled a story my friend Yatisha shared.  She was a single mom for 11 years, and after dating a few men, all of whom turned out to be bat shit crazy, she gave up hope of finding a partner.  She gave up on the idea that there were any good men left in the world for her (I’m SO with her right now. I’m losing faith in finding a man that’s right for me).

One day, she had an epiphany and decided to challenge God.  She said “God, I DARE you! I DARE YOU to show me one good man, and I’ll date him.  No matter what he looks like, how much money he has, or how many kids he has.”

She tried dating sites but her circle of besties (who were also single career moms at the time), kept meeting the same men, unfortunately, these men were not right for ANY of them!  Right about the time she was giving up, she had an idea!

She decided to invite three friends in her outer circle to set her up on three dates with three different guys.  It couldn’t be her closest friends.  They had to be the outer perimeter to ensure that she would meet different men.  Three friends were brave enough to commit to playing matchmaker, and off she went on three dates…no questions asked, she just had to show up.

The first date went well, but not a match.  Yatisha dated the second guy for six months but that also didn’t work out cause he was too possessive and was literally in the midst of having his second child with his previous girlfriend (of course this would happen, cause it makes sense for a man to try and date while his baby mama gives birth to their love child…I CAN’T!).  She finally but reluctantly goes on her third date…guess what.  It was her last, and she is now married for two years to a wonderful (handsome, understanding, hard-working, loving, God-worshipping; her words) man that she is crazy about.  #truestory.

While marriage is not my end goal (in fact it should never actually be a goal), I felt inspired after recalling Yatisha’s story, so I decided to give this another shot.  However, to increase my odds of success, I needed to dissect why I haven’t found a match.   By curating a vast and diverse focus group of friends, we came up with ten core theories (why is it always ten?)…

ch1.pngThe Top Ten Reasons Why Cherry is Single…

  1. First and foremost, I’m 45. An age that is not attractive to men my age.  Generally, they want someone younger, especially after a divorce.  But I will say, I’ve never felt more confident, sure of myself or fulfilled. I hope that someone out there will actually find that attractive (yes, that was sarcasm)
  2. I’m strong and independent. I’ve observed that men want to feel “needed.”  I think this has a lot to do with the changing roles of men and women.  Of course, I need affection and love (and someone to snake my drain. LMFAO), but what I don’t need is a Sugar Daddy to pay my bills, give me money or a home.  Lucky for this guy, I’ve got my shit together…again, what I believe is an attractive quality (snickering mischievously as I write this).
  3. I have an amazingly wonderful sassy daughter who is my world, and that means any man in my life will come second. Period, end of sentence.
  4. I have A LOT of energy (I’ve been told my energy is intimidating…and this is one thing I can’t reconcile. PLEASE explain this one to me??? PLEASE!).
  5. I am financially independent (refer to the issue of men being needed).
  6. I’m not a yoga babe. Often, the first question I get asked is “are you fit?”  What the fuck does that mean? Do I work-out seven days a week? NO! I’m active, I have muscles but not overly so.  Is the question, do I have cellulite? Yes, I have cellulite.  Is the question am I curvy?  Yes, I’m curvy (with big boobs to boot) and always will be.  Is the question, can I run a marathon?  NO, I cannot run a marathon and really don’t have a desire to (although mad props to those that do).   Is the question, can I outrun a zombie in case of a zombie apocalypse? YES! Most definitely. I work-out, I ballroom dance (and can out-dance people 20 years younger), I bike, hike, whatever…I love being active, but I’m not an athlete, so if that is your requirement, walk on by…in fact RUN.
  7. I don’t have long hair…yes, this comes into question even though most male friends I know think it very flattering, some have said it’s sexy (these were unprompted complimentsPromise, I was NOT fishing, not really).  Most importantly, I feel confident with my hair short, so if it’s not your thing, you do you boo.
  8. I’m busy. The men I’ve met do not like this, particularly the successful ones.  They feel that I should be more available to them as making plans in advance is often difficult for them as they live a more “spontaneous” life (I laughed my fucking ass off when I heard this from a few guys as my life is mostly scheduled cause, you know, I have a career, a kid and a life).
  9. The most difficult and impossible of all…they want children (usually if they don’t have any) and unfortunately, at 45, I am physically, emotionally and mentally past this phase of life. While I would welcome any kids they have, I’m not interested in starting over.
  10. I know my worth and love my life. Ultimately, to give up any of my precious time to someone, the guy has to be worth it (I even had a friend say that they wished they could set me up but can’t think of anyone worthy.  I was floored and truth be told, very flattered).

Based on the plethora of incredibly beautiful/talented/smart single women out there, the odds of me finding love is a virtual impossibility.  But hell, only 1% of any man you date will be the “one” (if in fact there is only one. I believe in “the one” for right now).  Which means 99% of all dates are intended to fail.

With these odds against me and my past experiences as my dating MBA, I’ve decided to surrender and similar to Yatisha dare God (aka the Universe), DARE my friends and family to help me with this impossible mission…

Today, I DARE you friends and family (and even The Daily Feels community) to set me up on a date.  I’ll be agreeable to whoever you think might dig my freaky ways.  So let’s play the DF Dating Game with Cherry Maggiore, aka The Freak of Nurture.  Three Guys, Three Dates in the next Three Months.

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I’ve asked a few good friends in my circle (not my besties) and already have two brave matchmakers at the ready!  I just need one more… so, are you down to solve an impossible mission? To be the ONE who becomes part of an epic love story?  To be idolized in the Daily Feels public forum?

(Cue Music: In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel from the film Say Anything)

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Will YOU be my cupid? Can you help me find my freaky mate? Do you know Lloyd Dobler’s doppelganger?  If you’re game, PM Cherry Maggiore…

If you dare 😉

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xoxo,

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Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.

Sometimes All You Need Is a Good List (or Four)

Blogger: Jessica Reed, “The Westchesbian”

Since this is my first post, I’m supposed to introduce myself. I’m kind of terrible at that, so I’ve decided to just provide a bunch of random lists. I promise future posts will (mostly) be more narrative.

Random list about me, me, me:

  • I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. Although I couldn’t wait to get out of there when I was a kid—which had something to do with the stifling feeling I had from growing up in the South but more to do with escaping a childhood that was never safe—it’s one of my favorite places in the world and the place I think of as home when I think of home as a geographical location. If you haven’t been, go.
  • I live in Tarrytown, NY, with my wife, Kim. We met online in 2009—as the kids do these days—and married in August 2015 on the sixth anniversary of our first date. I didn’t really want a wedding, but it was important to Kim, and as much as it kills me to admit it because it feels so cliché and heteronormative, it turned out to be one of the happiest days of my life. It was just a really, really good day.
  • When I think of home as a feeling, Kim is home. Here’s a snippet of my wedding vows that drives this point home (see what I did there?): I wrote this poem not long after we got together called “Easy.” It’s been through some revisions since then (like we have), but the crux of it has remained the same, which is that you make me feel safe, something I didn’t know another person could do, something I didn’t know I could feel—and our little apartment in Tarrytown and the life we’ve built within and around it is home. Not the place so much as the feeling. You are home, and I am at home with you.
  • We don’t have kids, and we aren’t having kids. I came into the relationship with my cat, Vinny (full name Vincent Laguardia Gambini Reed, after Joe Pesci’s character in My Cousin Vinny), and he’s the closest thing to a grandchild this lesbian union will be producing, which Kim’s mom happily embraces.
  • When I met Kim, I was living in Inwood in upper, upper, upper Manhattan (seriously, it’s still on Manhattan; you just have to turn the map over). I lived on Thayer Street, which is one block below Dyckman, an address that—as a proud dyke—entertains me endlessly.
  • Speaking of dyke-appropriate addresses, unlike much of the lesbian population of New York City, I’ve never lived in Brooklyn, and, more specifically, I’ve never lived in Park Slope. I’ve lost count of how many people have started conversations with, “When you lived in Park Slope…” I haven’t. I don’t. I will not.
  • My mother and father, both from New York City, were hippies and druggies in the 1970s (and beyond—more on that later). They named me after Lady Jessica in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune.
  • My mother supposedly chose my middle name, Rose (which I’ve always hated), with the thought that if I became a famous Broadway star, I could drop my last name and go by Jessica Rose, like Danny Rose or Gypsy Rose. I disappointed her by becoming a corporate professional instead. (There’s an alternate version of this story, which is that my parents were so strung out when they met that my father couldn’t remember my mother’s name and kept calling her “Rose.” I’m honestly not sure which story is worse.)
  • For as long as I can remember, reading and writing are how I’ve made sense of the world. Writing, in particular, is how I’m best able to set shit free, let shit go, and, ultimately, burn shit down (in a good way, in an essential, elemental, hold-other-people-accountable-for-their-shit kind of way).
  • I’ve never been a dreamer; it’s just not in me. But if I did have a dream as a kid, if I had let myself have one other than getting as far away from my family as possible, which was more a goal than a dream, I guess it would have been to be a writer. Even though I was also a singer and a theater kid and an overachiever in all things academic (in other words, not in the “in” crowd), writing was the thing that felt most like a calling. It also got me lots of positive attention all through my primary and secondary education. My “Fluffy the Killer Hamster” stories, a series of vignettes about a seemingly harmless pet who killed the people around him—excluding his owner, a little girl who lived with her perfect parents in a perfect house on a perfect hill—by biting them three times, were particularly well received by my classmates.
  • I became serious about poetry in high school, as serious as an angst-ridden, deeply depressed teen can anyway. I discovered three poets at the time who changed the way I saw the world: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Beat poet who founded City Lights Bookstore and first published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl; Kathryn Stripling Byer, a local North Carolina poet (originally from the foothills of Georgia) who left me spellbound with her ability to capture all that I loved about the Blue Ridge mountains; and Adrienne Rich, a renowned Jewish lesbian feminist poet and scholar who taught me how to speak as a woman on the margins.
  • I was the first person in my family to go to college. I have a BA in English with a creative writing concentration from Oberlin College and an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York (CCNY).
  • I didn’t love Oberlin. I chose it because it fulfilled four key criteria: it was in Ohio (i.e., far, far away—unfortunately, my mother ended up moving there, a story for another post); it had a strong creative writing program; it was consistently ranked in the top 20 liberal arts colleges by US News & World Report (it now hovers somewhere in the top 25, not that I’m still counting); and it had a large LGBTQ community (i.e., it was super gay). I didn’t find my groove academically until my junior year, and I never found my groove socially (it turned out “super gay” was synonymous with “super judgy,” and I just wasn’t queer enough). However, I did get a top-notch education, and I got a great job as a computer consultant that set me on the path for a career in technology.
  • Grad school was awesome. I waited until I was in my late 20s, which for creative writing is the youngest I think anyone should start a graduate program. It took me four years to finish because I worked full-time, but unlike at Oberlin, I found my groove immediately at CCNY.
  • If you Google me, you can find some of my poems online, including in The Paris Review and the Huffington Post. There’s another published poet named Jessica Reed who’s also a physicist or something like that. We’re not the same person.
  • Immediately after graduating from college, I moved to London and then to Toronto. I was able to get temporary work visas through work abroad programs available to college students and recent grads. Unlike most of the other kids who took advantage of these programs to tend bar, I used my visas to secure IT contracts (such a nerd).
  • I worked in IT support, including 5+ years as an IT manager, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I hated being on call at all hours. I hated the whirring server rooms. I hated dealing with creative directors who thought it was the end of the world if an obscure font they pirated wouldn’t load in QuarkXPress.
  • I saw a horribly written job posting on Craigslist for a technical writer (remember when Craigslist was where you looked for a job?), and on the off chance that it was real, decided to apply. I had dabbled with software documentation in college and in my IT management positions, and I had an aunt in the field who had told me while I was still in college that I should seriously consider going into tech writing (she’d even offered to help me find work if I moved to Boston, but I was too busy jumping headlong into a bad 10-year relationship to listen to any kind of reason). Anyway, the job was real, and I got it and have been doing some form of technical communications professionally ever since. I’m still amazed by how it all worked out. I get paid really well to write about technology. Who knew?

 

Random list of things I don’t believe (in):

  • New Year’s resolutions
  • God
  • Low-fat food
  • Gender as biology
  • Sugar alternatives/substitutes
  • Butter alternatives/substitutes
  • Any variation of fate, including but not limited to “everything happens for a reason,” “it was meant to be,” “the lord works in mysterious ways”
  • Any variation of “The One,” including soulmates, true love, love of one’s life
  • Putting up with bullshit
  • Unconditional love
  • Biological family being unquestionably forever
  • Making lists (just kidding—big fan of lists over here, just wanted to make sure you’re still with me)

 

Random list of things I do believe (in):

  • Choice, above all things
  • The power of language
  • Love, just not unconditionally
  • Loyalty, also not unconditionally (that was a lesson, more on that one later)
  • Deep breaths
  • Gender as a social construction
  • Chosen family
  • Good grammar and proper punctuation
  • Holding people accountable and acknowledging that some things really are unforgivable
  • That I can totally be a Jew and an atheist because being Jewish goes way beyond religion
  • That the children are the future—teach them well and let them lead the way but don’t make me have any

 

Random things that delight me:

  • My wife
  • My cat
  • Books
  • The Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Paris, especially Montmartre
  • Iceland, especially Snaefellsnes Peninsula
  • Really good stand-up comedy
  • Binge watching
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, especially the monthly Q&A
  • Parentheticals and em dashes
  • Popcorn (salty, not sweet, preferably made on the stove)
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Traditional bourbon cocktails
  • The word “motherfucker”
  • Being asked to join the Feels team (thanks, Janis and Cherry!)

 

Until next time,

Jessica the Westchesbian



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Jessica lives with her shiksa wife and geriatric cat in picturesque Tarrytown on the Hudson. Although a proud Westchesbian these days, Jessica grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, back when the opening of the Olive Garden and the 24-hour Walmart were big news. During business hours, Jessica’s a communications professional who translates highly technical concepts into clear, concise, colloquial language that media buyers and sellers can understand. Outside of business hours, she’s a poet, cat mom, wife, avid reader, and lover of questionable crime, sci-fi, and supernatural TV shows (preferably all in one), not necessarily in that order. Her poetry has appeared in Tin HouseThe Paris ReviewLIT, and The Huffington Post, among others.


 

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