Of COURSE words matter. Duh.

I have spent nearly 20 years guiding, coaching, encouraging, modeling AND reminding pre-teens and teens of this….words matter.  No one will EVER convince me otherwise. #wordsmatter

Words matter because they can hurt.

Words matter because they can inspire.

Words matter because they can escalate anger.

Words matter because they can guide.

Words matter because they can diminish.

Words matter because they can elevate.

Words matter because they can crush a soul.

Words matter because they can warm a heart.

Words matter because they can divide a nation.

Words matter because they can bring civility to a situation.

Last night’s debate took a tangible turn when candidates were asked to put into words a compliment about the other.  They had to use their words to find the good in each other…I felt my shoulders (that had been hunched up by my ears for the previous 90 minutes) soften.  I relaxed for a brief moment knowing that now, finally, I didn’t have to brace myself for the next insult, disparaging remark or snide innuendo.  The candidates were forced to choose words that focused on a positive rather than a negative.  I exhaled.

I will be with teens all week either working on college essays and applications, talking about boarding schools or organizing and focusing their minds to attain goals they have set for themselves in school and in life.  The debate will come up – everything always comes up.  Why?  Because they want to talk to someone with whom they know their words matter.  I will listen.  I will let them say their opinions.  I will gently guide them to be careful when articulating their arguments.

And then I will point out the end of the debate.

I will pull it up on my laptop.  We will talk about the shift in tone.  We will talk about how words change everything.

If you didn’t feel it – go back.  Go back and watch it.  Watch it with the lens of recognizing the shift in tone.  When the candidates were asked to be intentional about the words they chose, be aware of the adjustment.

And then notice they shook hands after.

Words matter.

WordPress daily prompt – Flattery

Failing in Science

My teaching partner and I giggled like little middle schoolers.  We knew exactly what we were doing, and we were over the moon excited to watch our dear sweet science students come completely undone.  We were setting them up for failure and we couldn’t wait.

One bulb.

One battery.

One wire.

One job – make the bulb light.

One rule – figure it out on your own.

Panic.  Sheer panic.  Immediately 12 out of 15 hands shot up and the other three peeps simply decided to forgo the classroom decorum and start shouting out questions.

Is this graded?

How long do we have?

What happens if we can’t do it?

I forgot my pencil…

Do we get partners?

I have a headache – can I go to the nurse?

Nope, not graded.

You have as long as it takes.

You can do it.

Don’t need a pencil right now….

No partners this time.

Sure – but hurry back from the nurse.

Strategies emerged within the first five minutes of trial and error (or rather failing, over and over again).  There were a few that immediately lit the bulb.  As to be expected, they sat smug in their chairs, arms crossed with a vicious little grin across their face.  One guy credited a Christmas gift of a circuit board and supplies for his success.  Across the room I heard “Man, all I got was an x-box…”

We had protesters.  Sit ins.  Silence strikes.  Arms crossed in flat out refusal to try any longer. (It had been 6 minutes)

We had nose-to-the-grindstone kids that wouldn’t look up for anything.  Those were the ones who built a wall around their space at the table with binders and books and were doggedly determined to figure this out.  And NO ONE was going to cheat off of them.

We had the cheats.  The prowlers.  The ones with the wondering eyes.  Some were more subtle…strolling casually up front for a tissue, glancing around for any little piece of knowledge to help them escape this little bit of hell on Earth.  Others practically fell out of their chairs trying to look for clues.

The blamers were the best.  The bulb was faulty – can I have a different one?  My battery is dead.  You gave me a bad wire.  They were 1000% sure this was somehow my fault.  I asked them to bring up the equipment in question and Iducked under my desk to do a little test run myself.  I always popped back up with a big grin, let them know everything worked for me, and turned to the next customer in line who was ready to lodge a complaint.

There were tears.  A lot of tears.  Some sobs but not enough to change the course of the activity.  Valiant attempts I might add, but ultimately the whimpers and whines fell on deaf ears.

After about 30 minutes, roughly half had succeeded and moved on to reading out of the coveted science nonfiction books with titles like UFOs, Unexplained Mysteries and Ghosts and Spirits.  Happy as clams, kicked back, feet up.  Success.

The other 50% were struggling.  Some switched strategies and gave up.  Others rallied and came back.  Some were successful in their sad attempts to cheat without being noticed….I suspect they did not share the feeling of accomplishment that their peers did who stuck with it and figured it out.

Next came the tough part.  With 3 minutes left and a small number still with in various stages of angst and protest, I had to decide – do they walk out “failures” or do I reveal the answer.

Some gave up their recess to come back and keep trying.  Those were the ones that got a little nudge from me to help speed the process along.  Others I didn’t see the rest of the day.  But I did hear from their parents that night.

The tone of the emails ranged from pleading and desperation to borderline anger and rage.  They asked for extra help.  They wondered if a science tutor was needed.  Some asked about the impact on grades.  Another questioned exactly how long would I let this game go on and sacrifice real learning (loved THAT one).

Eventually everyone was able to light their bulb.  Not everyone used perseverance and trail and error – some looked it up on the internet or asked a friend.  Some unabashedly threw their parents under the bus and declared that they had given them the answer.

simple circuit

We had spoken about failure for months in class and how it is an intricate part of scientific discovery – you make a guess, test it, sometimes you are right but more often you are wrong.  You tweak and change and re-think and try it again. But when push came to shove – when they had to fail in order to learn in a real way….they had very,very little experience with how to handle it.

As a middle school teacher, epic failure seemed to be as common as too much Axe cologne in the mornings. Kids failed daily. Their outfits failed. Make-up attempts were usually a failure on some level. They failed tests, their friends failed them, lunch options failed, ….. It is the great connector and the great teacher during the adolescent years. But it is hard – as much on us to watch as it is on them. We remember the struggle and we want to take it away. Hopefully this book will put more of the teacher in my parenting ….it is much easier to tow the line when the kiddoes aren’t your own!



Pokemon NO

“What makes Pokémon Go so different from other games is that its boundaries are seemingly unrestricted. ” – M Buxton, Refinery 29


I reached my personal tipping point when reading about the two men (MEN – early 20s – old enough that they should be somewhere WORKING during the day…) who had to be rescued after falling off a cliff chasing invisible cartoon characters.  It begs the age-old parenting question – If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?  Apparently so if there is a rare Pokemon hovering nearby.

I needed more information.  I am going to be judgey, that is a given.  But I needed to know more before fulling embracing my haughty, middle-aged woman stance on things that simply don’t make sense to me.

I took to the internet – Google in fact – to learn more about the game that has my son’s brain rotting, but in the outdoors while walking around. This, by the way, is the most prevalent aspect of the game that is being lauded – it gets people outside and moving.        I. Can’t. Even.

I am going to concede that kids – meaning 18 and under – and retirees – let’s say 68 and above – can have at it.  Not going to judge.  There are certainly worse games out there they could be playing and maybe keeping the seniors moving is a good thing….

dad with a pretend rat
My Dad trying to touch a pretend rat on the Pokeballs.

Ultimately what I have learned was that this is far, far beyond anything I want to devote brain space to at this point in my life.  I was reading about species that can evolve, eggs that can hatch and wild Pokemon that live in unique habits.  There are gyms and battles and Pokestops and Pokeballs.  (Pokeballs actually make me laugh because I have the humor of a middle schooler.)

I came across this poke-splaining paragraph that was written by some self-proclaimed gamer and expert with the intent to help the poor souls like me understand this important cultural event occurring all around me.

For example, if there are a large number of Poliwag in your area, but no Polywhirl nearby, catch a lot of Poliwag to eventually gain the ability to have one of them evolve into a Polywhirl. – Daniel

Daniel, I have no fucking idea what you are saying.

I decided to hit the streets for some real life exposure in the hopes I would start to get it – (not #GetThemAll)

Chasing Pokemons in the 100 degree heat and 90% humidity in Charlotte, NC

When this smart group of millennials paused at the corner I hid behind a pillar to listen in, silently hoping they were actually doing something – anything – remotely acceptable for young adults.  This is what I overheard.  And I quote….

“Someone had a Jigglet coming out of their toilet…. ” Hearty laughter from all.

I threw my phone on the ground and walked away.

In a last-ditch effort for some level of understanding I decided to take the “What Pokemon Are You?” quiz.  I had my eye on Jigglypuff (appropriate for the 45-year-old me) so I put a lot of thought into each and every answer.

Even the quiz was mostly indecipherable.  I did catch a few of the questions….

What is your favorite activity? Of the stupid choices presented, the one obvious for me    was Karaoke.  (I mean,duh, isn’t Karaoke pretty much always the answer?)

Where would you vacation?  A tall mountain – no.  Too much walking for a vacation.  Walking about – No.  Again, movement does not equal vacation. Volunteering at the egg hatchery – NO.  Vacations are real not imaginary.  Splashing around in water where it is ineffectual.  BINGO!

How could I be defeated?  Since a Karaoke sing-off wasn’t an option I went with being strangled by a vine.

Favorite food? Chocolate.  Nailed that one.

Favorite Pokemon game?  Shut up.

Then I had to pick a cat….I chose a REAL one who was normal looking.  Perhaps that is where I went wrong.

I felt like I was back in Vegas watching the little white ball go round and round ….


Much like Magikarp doesn’t put much effort during a battle, only feebly splashing its opponent, you did not put much effort into this quiz.  One can only hope you one day evolve.

Screw you, Pokemon.  I AM a Jigglypuff.

I’m out.  I gave my best effort to become a #PokeMOM but instead have to stick with my first instinct and keep my hashtag #PokemonNO

May the force be with you.  That’s Pokemon, right?

Image from the Jigglypuff official Wikipedia page
Me.  With another pretend friend.







Only Because of Their Skin Color.

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Outside was a typical summer storm – lots of distant lightning, some thunder, a little rain.  That is not what kept me awake. What kept me awake, and I hope kept you awake as well, were the incidents of the past two days.  What kept me awake was the knowledge that my children witnessed two men being shot and DYING on the television.  Let me say it again so it sinks in.  They saw two men – real men – being shot and dying on the TV. This was not a movie.  There were no special effects.  Both were shot and died at the hands of police officers.  Both were black.  And both had their moments of death broadcast on the television.

Even writing these words I feel like I threw up in my mouth just a little bit.

But the story doesn’t end there.  As the kids retreated to watch Netflix, I continued to watch more violence unfold.  This time 5 police officers were shot and killed, 7 more people injured, in a calculated attack aimed at assassinating police officers in Dallas, TX.  Some of their deaths were captured on video.  Over the day maybe we will see more real death on the big flatscreen TV in the den.

Watching real people die on television has become too common.

Over the course of our lives we tell ourselves stories.  Stories that ease our minds.  Stories that justify actions and thoughts.  Stories that motivate us.  Stories that scare us.  We live in stories.  Stories are often self serving, mind easing and deliverers of comfort.  Stories almost always have elements of truth and as well as fiction.  We believe our stories to be 100% true; some even are willing to die for their story.  Too often we ignore others’ stories.

Think you don’t have a story?  Think again.  You have a million.  Are you white?  Are you educated?  Are you wealthy by the world’s standards?  Republican?  Democrat?  Can you eat out at a moment’s notice and have the privilege of deciding whether or not you will return based on the quality of the service?  Can you educate your children in the way you want them to be educated?  Do you fell like you have control in your life?


The stories of the world are, for me, like the distant lightning in a summer storm.  As a privileged white woman, the lightning strikes are often from far-flung corners of the world.  I watch them from the couch with my kids beside me.  We can talk and try to process the events.  We can chew on the situation, look at it from different angles, listen intently to others.  But we are far far FAR away.

I can hear the thunder, though.  It gets a bit closer and becomes a bit more real as each day passes.  Deep down there is a sense that things are going really wrong in this country.  I hear hateful talk from people who are lauded as future leaders of this country.  I watch anger overtake anything and everything good.  I see real men die on the TV.  Watching men and women die on the television should be like a rumbling of thunder for all of us.

And then it rains.

Chase, Will, Sam
What is the story here?  Do you wonder?  Some of you know the story; others don’t.  Stop and just honestly sit with where and what you thought, in the first split second you saw this picture.  That is one of your stories.  I suspect, whether you are white, black, asian, or any other race, you were struck by the whiteness and the blackness of these three boys.  My guess, if you are being honest, is that you were curious at the very least. I would be if I didn’t know and love all three of these boys immensely – one my son and the other two my nephews.

Over the next few weeks I am going to tell you parts of their stories on this blog.

I am going to tell you how they came to be a part of my very white, very privileged family.

I am going to tell you their story in the hopes that it influences, maybe even changes, the stories you tell yourself.

For now, this is a part of my story…

My nephews know that color matters.  They have the same privileges as all of the children in my family have – loving parents, supportive families, quality education, clothes, houses, food, friends, vacations….and yet they know they don’t have every privilege that the rest of us have.  Only because of their skin color.

Sam and Will have had conversations with my sister that I will NEVER have with my son.  Only because of their skin color.

My son and his neighborhood friends played with air-soft guns in my yard, even were  mischievous and climbed upon my roof during the hot days of summer a few years ago, and hid behind the chimney with their toys.  I have definitely rethought why I allowed this (so please no haters on this subject – THAT would be a diversion and a straw man argument to take away from the real point here).  I suspect ultimately I didn’t take enough time to actually THINK – a white privilege problem for sure. I never worried someone would assume the guns to be real, though.  Little white boys running around, laughing.  No, those guns would never be seen as threat.  Will and Sam will NEVER be able to do that.  EVER. Only because of their skin color.

Will and Sam matter.  Their stories matter.





My Teenage Boy has Brain Rot

I think my son’s brain is rotting.  There are outward physical signs – he sleeps late into the morning, he is so lethargic apparently all he can do is play some NBA game on the x-box for hours on end, he smells, and he seems to have lost his ability to speak clearly and in complete sentences.  He does show interest in some activities like basketball, golf, and baseball so I feel like he may be able to beat this. And he eats.  Boy does he eat.  So he is keeping up his strength, which is important.

Summer brain rot has set in for the teens in this house, and I am defenseless.  I day-dream about looking out the kitchen window and seeing him there, stretched out on the back porch, engrossed in War and Peace.  I dream of calling him in for dinner and hearing in response “OK, Mom.  Just let me read one more chapter!”

It is a start contrast to the real view – a lanky, quasi-hairy boy sprawled on the back porch with bright orange Cheetos dust settling over his body, engrossed in yet another YouTube video.  He is watching, get ready for it, other people play video games.  The same game that he has logged innumerable hours playing himself.  He is watching, intently I might add, someone else playing the game!!!  My heart stopped last week when he told me, with admiration in his eyes, that the “best” YouTube gamers make a lot of money posting videos.  It is their job.  At that point I lost consciousness.

My kids have never been readers.  They can read (whew) but it is always under a threat of some kind.  I appreciate, as they get older, that there are books they need to read for the upcoming school year.  But the summer book selections NEVER help my cause.  I am a voracious reader, but really?!  I don’t want to dive into historical novels with weird wording and deep meaning.  It’s hard enough to breathe in the summer heat.

I am also sure that my son will enter 9th grade with a note in his file pointing out that every August in MS he came back to English class having proudly read Nate the Great.  AGAIN.  4 years straight.  Nate the Great.  See what I am battling?

It is a very real struggle to be a teacher mama.  Everything I know about educating kids is sooooo much easier to enact with YOUR kids when they are physically trapped in a room with me.

I know this 15-year-old boy MUST DO SOMETHING with his brain this summer.  I can smell the rot.  I shifted into teacher mode and here are some ideas to try….

  • Find a book that actually might be interesting to a teenage boy.  Think nonfiction Into Thin Air, Thunder Dog, 438 Days, Unbroken.
  • Reading is reading is reading.   Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair.  You will probably need to find an article…throwing the whole magazine at him might knock the iPhone out of his hand but in my experience it doesn’t inspire him to browse the index inside.
  • Have a thoughtful conversation in non-neanderthal English.  Watch a great TV series together this summer that is thought provoking.  The OJ documentary is fascinating, as is “United Shades of America” on CNN, and any “30 for 30” on ESPN.  Whatever they have an interest in, scour Netflix and find something that you can talk about and revisit.
  • Pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).  Not Easy.  Try encouraging them to think like a screenwriter (TV shows, movies – those guys make a lot of money too and they are likely not still living in their mother’s basement).  Chunk the writing small parts with the intention of capturing “scenes”.  Baseball team come back and win against all odds?  Incredible people watching on a family trip?  Encourage them to capture those memories like stories.  Tap into creativity.

By no means am I saying I can pull this off with my own kid.  I am going to do my best and hope that just I might stave off the final stages of rot before it is too late. If it doesn’t work, Harris Teeter has air fresheners on sale this week.







45 is the new 15

“Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you.”  — Ogden Nash

Today I officially declare myself …. middle aged.  Not over the hill, just cresting it.

Smack dab in the middle of my life.

Straddling the line of sooooo many things – desperately leaning toward 40 but being pulled quickly towards 50.  Wait, when did 40 suddenly become wishful thinking?  It’s bad.

Maybe the most shocking part of it all is that I am not really that different from the 15 year old girl from four score and blah blah blah years ago.  I worry basically about the same things I did in middle and high school.

Did you used to casually sniff your armpits, ever vigilant for the trace odor of anything but Secret deodorant?  (You did, right?  Please tell me you did.)  Same thing today except now I am constantly twisting around and trying to look at my back to see if the latest hot flash has left a tell-tale trail of sweat soaking through my shirt.  Good times.

Ever get slammed into the lockers in the school hallway by the mean girls?  I was little – easy target.  I don’t find that there is much aggressive physical contact these days, but I assure you there is intimidation.  Why else are these women parading around nude (well, at least topless) in the yoga studio locker room, obviously taunting me with surgical enhancements and and tire-free middles?  It’s a subtle shove, trust me.  I’m not even going to get into the unnatural state of cellulite-free legs….

Do we ever get over stressing about our clothing?  Lordy.  The angst over Jordache jeans and Docksiders has morphed into the anxiety of dressing “my age”.  I refuse to cross that line but some days I can’t help but think my love for all things JCrew does date me perhaps.  That is mostly because I am the exact opposite of any model used in their catalogue.  (see!  Im old!  who says catalogue??  geesh – website.)  I’m not worried about slipping into Mom jeans and elastic waisted polyester pants (yoga pants excluded of course.  And yes, they CAN be worn as pants TC!*).  But it is hard to draw the line between the expensive rips in my jeans being just right and just stupid.

Plus I have developed a really (disturbing) habit when it comes to my waistline. Yoga pants (which I wear a lot and, yes, in public TC!)  are pretty low, right? And sometimes (ok, a lot of times) the elastic slips a little south…just enough to let the bonus middle escape over the top (and sides – gag).  It doesn’t matter if it is a little or a lot – it is maddening!  It demands an adjustment and I, apparently, adjust by snapping the elastic waist of my pants.  Over and over and over….much to the dismay of my family.  And if it isn’t the yoga pants it’s the bikini underwear….satin briefs here I come.  Don’t judge.

As if body image and clothing aren’t enough, there is always my hair.  The upkeep of spiral perms was nothing compared to the pesky battle with grays and the delicate balance of overly blond-ifying my natural brown hair in the pursuit of age defiance.  It can go the other way fast, ladies.. Careful with those foils.  Add in crossing the line with “The Cut” …soft waterfall in the front, knives in the back….you know the look. It can be oh so tempting some days when the humidity is high and you want to give up just a little bit.  Thank you, SNL, thank you, for that PSA. **

Let’s not forget Thelma and Louise…the rogue hairs that spring from my chin and cheek.  On some level there is a sense of vitality that I have some part of body able to thrive and grow so quickly.  Smooth skin to stubble in literally one minute!  One minute!  It is absurd.  My obsessive touching of T&L leads quickly to an overwhelming desire to shed all responsibilities and obligations in order to get to a pair of tweezers.  First I have to find my reading glasses, of course.

I learned today that the average lifespan in the US for a white woman is 81.48 years.  Sadly, living in NC brings me down to 80.81 (Bojangles & humidity, no doubt).  I am going to give myself  the benefit of yoga (good GOD let’s hope so – I endure a lot of bullying and I should get something out of it!), a lot of laughter and a generally happy disposition.  Diet Coke and too much sunshine could conceivably take me down before my time … but I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of gal.  I think aiming for 90 is still within the realm of possibility and reaching much beyond that would probably be overly optimistic.  So on the 45th anniversary of my birth I am embracing all things middle age.

45 is the new 15, you know.

* TC = Tracy Curtis.  Hilarious writer and yoga-pants-in-public hater. www.tracyleecurtis.com

**   The Cut

Donald Trump. STILL a role model?

Donald, oh Donald.

Since 2004 you have been my guy.  I watched you glide down the escalator in front of eighteen contestants, all lined up like Democrats in front of a Republican firing squad.  Of course some of those years you were the Democrat and they were the Republicans… oh well, no worries.  It is totally your earned right as a rich, white male to change your philosophical stance on something so silly as abortion. I totally forgive you for shifting your core morality and philosophies so as to better position yourself in a run for President.  Smart.

You made my heart sing during the 185 episodes of The Apprentice, a show dedicated to showcasing your accomplishments and undeniable power and charm.  The eight seasons you brought in “celebrities” were brilliant!  You showed that even people in the public spotlight still worship your complete dominance in anything worth doing.  Honestly, I thought it was really gracious of you to throw them a bone and call them “celebrities”….we know the real celebrity, don’t we? (wink)  With every dollar you matched to their chosen charity, I cheered the incredible self-sacrifice and generosity you displayed on national television.  You reminded all of us that philanthropy works best when it is done publicly.  I applauded your commitment to self-serving endeavors, both on and off the camera.  You seemed to genuinely care about yourself, and that’s number one in my book.  In fact,  you seemed to genuinely love yourself.

Maybe that is why I love you right back.

On June 16, 2015 you reminded me that there is joy and happiness to be found in politics.   You understand that “calling it as you see it” and forgoing any sort of civility, manners or respect for others is, indeed, an important part of all politics.  You make it your personal mission to show the rest of us exactly how to behave.  It is fun watching a big kid, on and off the campaign trail, loving his life.

I have said over and over again – Donald is a great man who is also a role model. Many times I said it to people who do not share my same level of enthusiasm.  I still say it and then I call them all losers – that’s how I roll.

I would like to be clear about one thing, though.  Too often people overlook your skill in peeling back the layers of bullshit about people many consider to be role models.  I once said that John McCain is a role model.  I cited his remarkable military service to our country.  You pointed out that being captured and held as a prisoner of war isn’t something to admire.  It was then I realized how “off” my thinking really can be.  I also once admired McCain’s sponsorship of a bipartisan, anti-torture amendment that stated aggressive interrogation techniques “compromised our values, stained our national honor and did little practical good.”  I, mistakenly, have been teaching my children that the horrid violence and lack of respect for human rights, even when the people are our enemies, is not the way any of us would hope to operate in the world.  Thank you for pointing out that human rights only apply to certain people, specifically people who look like us.  That is a sound principle that can be applied in many, many life circumstances.  

I put the Pope on a pedestal.  I swooned when he said “In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.” during a speech to Congress back in September 2015.  Shortsightedly, I saw this as a powerful expression of Christian values.  It wasn’t until you pointed out that all Mexicans who cross the border are probably really, really bad guys, that I was able to step out of the propaganda of inclusion and tolerance.  We are Americans after all!  Plus, who can really trust a guy who is “humble” anyway?  If he is going to lead the largest church in the world , he should at least dress the part with the red cape and Ferragamo shoes.  Am I right?

Oh boy, and then there are the other candidates you are having to share the spotlight with…. please.  Jeb Bush – weak.  Ben Carson – no ability to comprehend issues.  Hillary Clinton – a major national security threat.  Ted Cruz – a complete and utter liar.  Carly Fiorina – ugly.  John Kasich – total dud.  Paul Rand – a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.  Marco Rubio – can’t even get through the State of the Union without sweating and chugging water.  Bernie Sanders – a wacko and a disaster.

Your opponents, Donald, are not role models.  You were, unfairly, lumped in with them.  You have shown us all that, in fact, you are standing waaaay up in front.

I believe 100% that what we see from you is a real(ity) TV personality.  I applaud your authenticity in your over-blown ego and self- congratulatory air.  How refreshing to see someone be convincingly pompous and offensive!  You know what they say, all publicity is good publicity.  I absolutely believe that you do you.  

And here’s the thing – when people are authentic, they are always authentic.  You, Donald, are authentic.

You are taking a lot of heat for that very trait…and maybe you should.  Wait!  Don’t yell at me and tell me I must be bleeding from an unmentionable lady part….hear me out.  

I cringed during one of your campaign rallies in New Hampshire.   I wanted to hear more from you – I wanted to hear YOU call Ted Cruz a pussy, not just repeat it from a female audience member.  That kind of vulgarity and lack of class should be on the tip of your tongue and not be the responsibility of white trash in the audience.  We know you admire your daughter, Ivanka, in a slightly disturbing, I-would-date-her way. Melania’s well-perfected, aloof, I-am-so-above-all-this stare is clearly admirable to you as well.  But to be upstaged by a woman?  I think we all expect more from a presidential candidate.

Despite that one slip, you are still a role model in my opinion.  That authentic, flinch-inducing, ill-mannered persona is nothing short of real.  Real white privilege.  Real haughtiness.  Real hubris.

Thank you, Donald, for the conversation I had last night with my own kids.  We talked about what it must feel like to bask in the glory of your own success while watching your opponents call off their campaigns and admit defeat.   We had a chance to put ourselves in your shoes and talk about how we, too, should gloat.  We stepped outside of ourselves and saw the game through your eyes.  We practiced disdain for others. We talked about indifference.

Here’s the thing, Donald.  I know what a role model is….and what a role model is not.  You have given me chances to parent my kids – which is my job. Your job is to be a brazen, self-proclaimed demi-god who illustrates that the only person who really matters is YOU.  You, sir, are a prick.  A glorious, unapologetic son of a bitch.   And by being that great asshole, YOU have allowed ME to have conversations, so precious and rare in the teenage years, about important topics.

We have started talking more about self-interest.  We now talk about how powerful words can be, and how, being privileged and white themselves, they need to use their words to belittle others and propel themselves forward.   Every newsworthy sound clip from you has shown us that.

We talked about how everyone (yes everyone) makes mistakes.  We also talked about how to use those mistakes as a weapon in taking down your opponents.  We can overcome mistakes but others cannot.  A very important and practical lesson.

We talked about kindness and how it never gets you anywhere.  Bringing others into our circle of light only dims our own light.   Every razor sharp insult and dismissive comment you have made was an example of never sharing anything with others.

We also talked about pressure.  We talked about having enough money so that no one else’s opinion matters at all.   We spoke of opportunities.  When there is a chance to bring down others, to leverage pressure to crush them, we should do it.  Without apology.  And call it being a “straight shooter”.  It’s all in the sell.  We talked about the thrill in seeing people fall.   We talked. And talked. And talked.

Thank you, Donald, for every “talk” I have had (and will have) with my kids.  It’s my job to raise my kids.  Thanks for making that easier.  


Cam Newton. STILL a Role Model?

Cam, oh Cam.

You were my guy all season.  I watched you dance on the sideline, you made my heart sing with every football you handed to a young fan, and I cheered the incredible plays you made.   I could not get enough of that smile.  I applauded your community involvement, both on and off the camera.  You seemed to genuinely care about kids, and that’s number one in my book.  In fact,  you seemed to genuinely love Charlotte.

Maybe that is why I loved you right back.

You reminded me that there is joy and happiness to be found in sports.    You seemed to understand that “playing” is indeed an important part of all sports, even for adults making a lot of money. It was fun watching a big kid, on and off the field, loving his life.

You dabbed, I dabbed.

Image courtesy of Adrian Rohr

I said over and over again – Cam is a great athlete who is also a role model. Many times I said it to people who did not share my same level of enthusiasm.  I still said it – that’s how I roll.

Let’s be clear about one thing, though.  I also said that Greg Olsen is a role model.  My family loved seeing him in our church on Saturday nights before home games.  His humble presence at our local bagel shop was always a treat and his family’s strength and resolve and generosity is inspiring.

Luke Kuechly is a role model.  He embodies hard work, focus and commitment to his team.  His kind gesture to a fan who fell over the railing…icing on the Kuechly cake. Humility wrapped up in, well, a pretty nice-looking package. He is the real deal in terms of a role model, too.

Thomas Davis is a role model.  Ron Rivera is a role model.  Michael Oher is a role model.

Your team, Cam, is a team made up of role models and you were, fairly or unfairly, standing  waaaay up in front.

Getty Images

You are not everyone’s cup of tea…but you are mine.

The main reason – I believe 100% that what we saw this season was real.  I believe you are authentic in your joy and kid-like enthusiasm for the game.  I absolutely believe that you do you.

And here’s the thing – when people are authentic, they are always authentic.  Not perfect.  Authentic.

You, Cam, are authentic.

You are taking a lot of heat for that very trait…and maybe you should.  I cringed during the post-game interview.  I wanted to hear more from you – at least more than responses mimicking my own teenagers feeble attempts at conversation after they have their phones taken away…

You, however, are still a role model in my opinion.  That authentic, flinch-inducing, please-say-something, excruciating 3 minutes last night was nothing short of real.  Real disappointment.  Real sadness.  Real frustration.

I like REAL people.  I want my kids to be REAL.

Thank you, Cam, for the conversation I had last night with my own kids.  They were disappointed, too.   We talked about what it must feel like, after that loss, to have to sit and field questions from the press.  Questions that interviewed you for your pain.  We had a chance to put ourselves in your shoes and talk about it.  We talked.  We had to step outside of ourselves and see the game through your eyes.  We practiced empathy. We talked about other ways to handle the situation.

Here’s the thing, Cam.  I know what a role model is….and what a role model is not.  You gave me chances to parent my kids – which is my job. Your job is to be a great football player.  And by being that great football player, YOU allowed ME to have conversations, so precious and rare in the teenage years, about important topics.

We talked all season about joy.  We talked about what it means, as student athletes themselves, to compete while keeping the love of the game.  Every smile from you showed us that.

We talked about how everyone (yes everyone) makes mistakes.  We also talked about how mistakes do not define us in the present moment.  We can overcome mistakes (ummm, thank GOD we can)- we have seen that from you.

We talked about kindness.  And bringing others into our own circle of light.  Every football you handed out was an example of sharing your light.

We also talked about pressure.  We talked about being named MVP, the press coverage, the weight of an unbelievable season…. We talked about people who like to see the chosen fall.  We talked about race – thank you very much.  We talked. And talked. And talked.

Thank you, Cam, for every “talk” I have had (and will have) with my kids.  I do not expect perfection – from any of the role models on the Panthers.  Authenticity is what I want (and, of course, the avoidance of any illegal activity).

It’s my job to raise my kids.  Thanks for making that easier (and way more fun).



You. Do. You.  And that is EXACTLY what Cam does… True to himself.  Without Apology.  Again, thank you Cam Newton.  You are what is right in sports today.





Super Bowl Provisions 2016

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina…

A true statement 99% of the time anyway, but it is especially sweet right now. Our Panthers are playing in the Super Bowl in a week and the whole city of Charlotte is over the moon.  People are flying flags on their car (guilty), passionately defending THE best QB in the league – Cam (freakin’) Newton, making bets with Bronco fans & planning parties.


I have a jersey, a hat, lots of black and blue…. enough wardrobe essentials for a successful showing as a Panthers’ fan.  So I am good – sticking with the basics.  No doubt I would love a new tshirt or even some spirit finger gloves…. (sorry….fingerz….)


I am staying strong.

The Panthers’ hoopla did get me thinking about what is out there for the peeps who want to refresh their stash of team spirit accouterments.  My conclusion after brief stint of virtual shopping is ….there are a lot of items I am not even tempted to buy….


Do the makers of this gem think the fact that it is super-soft ringspun cotton makes it any less fucking offensive?  Seriously?  This is the shit that makes the south look bad…..



Yes our colors are blue, black and white….so we have that covered.  Our mascot, however, is not a skunk….  Honestly we shouldn’t be encouraged to buy things that other fans will make fun of….especially our own.



Speaking of making fun of…..


THAT’S a big investment… Who doesn’t like a good recliner? (at someone else’s house) Looks like suede….that’s a bonus.  Tempting…..


Scary. As. Shit.  I saw this in person last week at the playoff game…. Be warned – from what I saw the mask is narrow so if your face is wider than a young child’s your scraggly beard will hang out of the sides… not a good look.  Affordable but probably not worth it.


There is NOTHING wrong with this picture……


There is A LOT wrong with this …. I can’t even…. I love Luke too much so I just can’t…. I am already tolerating his CPI commercials (barely).  He needs a new marketing advisor.  I’m not doing much these days….


Pinterest is a treasure trove of outfit inspiration.  Too bad this one doesn’t come with the links to buy…

I am very thankful for the lack of temptation in terms of staying strong in my resolution to not buy new clothes in 2016 related to Super Bowl 50.  I can now focus this week on celebrating complete domination by the Panthers.  This week is going to be a piece of cake…



Snow, Dabbin’ & Cuss Words

Damn you Amazon Prime.

And not just Amazon – Amazon Prime. Devils.

I have been doing so well (if I do say so myself).  I have avoided any temptation of clothing acquisition so far.  (Yes – I am patting myself on the back after 20 days – shut up.) What I did not anticipate is the purposeful attack launched to undermine the dollars lost to the retail segment of the US economy.  Are the projections down? It is clear that clothes are not my only problem, but rather shopping in general.  Be clear I am not making any more life changing adjustments at this point.  The resolution ship has sailed.

Attack #1 – Snow Storm

Alright, Winter Weather Watch.  Whatever.   Living south of the Mason-Dixon line has its advantages but the lack of snowfall, in my humble opinion, is not one of them.  I have finally learned (only took 25 years) that I do not need a few key clothing items:

  1. a winter coat
  2. snow boots
  3. wool sweaters

I remember moving to Memphis and “switching my closet”.  Y’all know what that is, right? The first Saturday with a slight drop of temperature and the summer wardrobe is put away and the fall/winter clothes are moved to the front.  Early September seemed reasonable….I must have been drunk from days and nights spent on Beale Street or maybe I was so utterly thrown off kilter by the sheer heat and humidity…Regardless of the reason, I was not prepared clothing-wise for the length of summer and the shortness of winter.  Fall is the time for jeans and closed toe shoes.  It was still 93 degrees.  I regretted my organizational decision.  I still bought the above listed items for years and years… it took me a loooong to adjust the inner Yankee seasonal clock…I switched my closet yesterday.

So here we are..the southern version of a good ole snowstorm.  Dancing on the fine line between flakes, ice pellets and the absolute worst cold rain (if we get lucky it may freeze). 95% of the time we end up with cold ass rain.  One time in Memphis school was actually cancelled due to the threat of snow….for three days straight.  Ne’er a flake fell.  Best. Snow days. Ever.

I am addicted to weather and all the hoopla that comes with it.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards – all in.  With the impending storm bearing down starting tmrw night, the TV will stay tuned to The Weather Channel.  Despite his outright rejection, I still dream of the day Jim Cantore and I are sharing our mutual excitement for all things weather together on the TV…. (sigh …this was my desperate attempt last year…there have been many over the years.  None have worked.  I am not giving up.)

Of course the cliche milk and bread run at the grocery is happening I speak.  I try desperately to avoid the grocery store – I have a thing with mingling with the masses – so I order my groceries on line and just drive up while they are loaded into the back of the SUV.  Seriously brilliant.  People swear they spend less this way….ummmm…not me.  Like all things on-line, clicks are so easy for me….


I decided to play it safe…..

#2 – THE Panthers


So that happened. The game is going to be cooooold on Sunday night.  What’s a girl to do? Is this cheating?  It was right there…on Amazon Prime….arriving just in the nick of time.

Dab on!


#3 Coloring Book Perfection

Amazon Prime.  Again.  Today.

Seriously?  Could YOU pass this shit up?


I cannot wait to hand out my works of art to just the right people….Yes.  I do in fact want it by Friday January 22nd.

A little derailed today by the internet.  I stand by all of my purchases…but can totally see a bit of retail manipulation here.









Hitting a Snag & Paying Myself Dividends

I really thought it would take me longer than 15 days to hit a snag in the year without new clothes.

There was a little temptation  with the sales post-holidays, but I ultimately stuffed my personal shopping bags full enough during December to feel retail satisfaction.  An unplanned bonus was (I swear – I didn’t even dream up this little experiment until the shopping was done) having some of the shiny new items arrive after January 1st.  That was awesome!  I actually wish I had bought more items on back order….

My darling daughter turns 16 this weekend  (I can’t even, by the way).  We have a big girls’ night planned with a fancy meal, a fancy hotel stay and a spa morning.  I am so thrilled to have the time with her and her BFF – what a gift to me for birthing this child!

I need to pick up a few little things as gifts for her for the family party…


I haven’t been to a retail location, other than the grocery, since Jan 1….

Monopoly-Man revised

Dividend Shopping.  Never heard of it?  (That’s because I just made it up!) Allow me explain….

While shopping for someone else, I happen upon some items that are truly irresistible….for me.  Nothing premeditated, I assure you.  Just fate. Or luck. Or clearance.  One for you, three for me.  All on one receipt.  Easy schmeasy.

It is the easiest thing in the world to go into a shop and pick up a little something for myself.  Why not?  Usually it is not much money, it is always something cute, and it likely it will be worn….eventually.  Honestly there isn’t anything at all wrong with that.  At all. This experiment isn’t about rejecting all things material (God, no) but rather just being aware of, well, me.

It is kind of a magical truth …. a life altering truth.  It is the shit, really.  The stumbling block is that it isn’t easy to do.  In fact not doing it is one of the easiest things in the world. It is why I had to make a small, insignificant shift in my life to get a bit more practice.

There are a lot of words swirling around that try to get at this….for me it is simply yoga -the quieting of the mind.  Not an easy place for any of us to get to….. but it sure feels good to practice!


1.5 Billion Reasons to Quit My 2016 Resolution

“So, how many people do you figure are here tonight?”

Let the games begin.  Just a fun little past-time of my husband’s to highlight my ineptitude for estimating spatial numerical amounts.  As far as my brain can discern, anything over twenty is all but the same.


“More like 1500.”

Dammit.   I don’t know how many seats are in a movie theater or fans at a baseball game.  Needless to say I never have won the “Guess a Goodie” contest at school. 100 gumballs in a glass jar literally looks the same to me as 800.  I have always had to buy my own gumballs.  I try to use my fundamental, number estimation flaw as an excuse for that stack of black Lululemon leggings in my closet…funny how that strategy hasn’t worked.

I am not alone in my number struggles, apparently.  The Piraha tribe in the jungles of South America does not even have a word for anything more than two.  They don’t count past two, they just declare 3+ as “big”.  I have a big amount of yoga clothes, ponchos and booties.  Works for me – way less judgmental.

$1.5 billion.  It is an absurd and utterly incomprehensible number.  It makes zero sense to me.


Senator Dirksen was speaking about our national debt; perhaps not having a working knowledge of what a billion really means actually comes in handy when talking about our government spending.

While I do not understand the actual amount of the Powerball winnings that should be handed over tonight (I mean it seems statistically impossible to not have a winner, right?) I do know what to do – the stop, drop and roll of lottery winners.

  1.  Sign your ticket on the back.
  2. Tell NO ONE.
  3. Hire a shit ton of people to protect you.

Sounds fun…

Dreaming of something for nothing… it’s a great fantasy.  Of course there is the initial investment, but when you are standing behind that giant check who cares about the lost $2!  I know fo’ sho’ I wouldn’t be thinking about the gumballs I could have bought.  Plus I am a sucker for a big check.  I’ve always wanted one…

not me…


After the photo op, I would be in a mega moral quandary about my 2016 resolution.  I mean, hello?  I made it public.  I have enlisted an official group of kick-ass ladies to serve as my “Less is the New More Conclave and Consulate”.   I even made us a FB page.  Oh, yes, and I said I wouldn’t quit.  Dang….no new clothes and $1.5 BILLION…  You can understand my anxiety for the drawing tonight.

I am already worried that my shopping habits have transferred from clothes to other items (more on that little situation soon)…so what would happen if I truly had unlimited funds?  I know for sure my browsing habits would shift….


I am thinking clothing might be fairly easy to forgo since I would be busy deciding exactly what to spend it on….

Creating my own air force.  I could take my winnings and buy 6.7 of the newest US fighter jets, the F35As.  Betcha people would read my blog then!

Owning my own NFL team .  On average NFL teams are worth about $1.17 billion each.  Jerry Richardson I am coming for you!

Getting Fletch a brother or sister or 500,000.    Have you seen the Tibetan Mastiff puppy that was sold in China for almost $2 million?  At a 160 pounds and looking like a lion, I think we could safely forgo the added monthly expense of a security system on….

My own private island!!! – You can find me on the island of Motu Moie, 15 miles from Bora Bora in the South Pacific (you know, the French Polynesian neighborhood) on 26 acres of lush tropical paradise.  I could even string together 100 or so more islands if I needed some elbow room.

Bottom line – I’m sticking with it!  Even $1.5 billion won’t send me into an on-line (or in person) shopping frenzy for clothing this year.  I’ll just count my money all the way to the bank….

Actually, if you literally counted from 1 to 1 billion you would be counting for 95 years.   Clearly a colossal waste of a life – I’ll just take my big check and go home to the island, thank you very much.





5 Ponchos … 1 Problem

I am not trying to be radical….

I am not going all Jen Hatmaker on y’all and only picking 7 items to wear all year…

I am not pledging to give away 99% of my clothes in my closet.  I am not pledging to give away any of my clothes in my closet, in fact.  Not a single one.  I am holding tight to every damn thing…I have 357 days left and I will need variety.

I am not forcing my family to participate.  I will make them feel guilty when they do get anything new.  But I am not forcing them to participate….

I am also not planning to cheat, either.  To be clear, I always go into resolutions, challenges or goals knowing full well I will not do it.  I plan to cheat.  Always.

I love the idea of a lofty, challenging, stupid goal.  62 Yoga practices for 62 days during the holiday season is stupid.  For me.  Giving up sugar for Lent is lofty AND stupid.  And no clothes shopping for the entire 366 days of 2016 is challenging…and lofty and stupid.

But I am not going to cheat this time.

Hi, my name is Trish and I have a poncho problem.

I really think if I am going to write on any form of social media I HAVE to learn how to take a damn selfie!  It shouldn’t be this hard….or unfortunate.

You can’t see it in its full glory, but this is my first poncho.  I found it in a boutique in Charlotte (translation = it was expensive) last winter.  I love it.  It is perfect.  It was the beginning of a quest (subconscious for the most part) for more perfect ponchos.

Today with my writing group (oh my GOD by the way….this group deserves it own blog!  They are 3 of the most amazingly talented, inspiring, hysterical, insane women…more on them another time) I finally fessed up about something I think about – with tremendous shame and guilt – every day.  Ok, with as much shame and guilt as one can have for ponchos …. I performed a poncho skit to somehow make myself feel better about the absurdity of the situation.

I had a complete and utter poncho meltdown pre-Christmas.

Do you know the evil “like it to know it” feature on Instagram? I cannot even begin to understand how this works but….like some sort of social media voodooism, you like the post on Instagram and an email immediately is sent to you complete with links to every item on the perfectly curated outfit.  You can literally click and buy every single thing you see.  What kind of fresh fuckery * is THAT?


Sold. Out. Mother….

Enter – The Mall.  This masterpiece of winter outerwear was from a popular store a mere five miles from my house.  While not a single other Christmas gift to date had been purchased in a brick and mortar store – you know, humanity this time of year is just too much – I was willing to mingle with the masses for this.

I was rewarded for my “flexibility”.  While not the perfect hot pink color I was hoping for, there was an acceptable shade of burgundy.  On the sale rack.  50% off.  No brainer…I didn’t even try it on.  Oh, but wait….what was hanging a few items away?  Is that a pale pink, on-sale poncho of perfection?  Sure enough the cosmos delivered to me a second – which essentially means that I was now able to buy two for the original price I thought I would pay for one.  I told the salesperson who rung me up the whole story, of course.  I don’t think he found it that compelling.  I was ecstatic.

Fast forward 2 days and another perfect poncho picture arrives on Instagram.  This poncho didn’t look exactly like the two I had just bought … it was the ever versatile, very practical, perfect (of course) navy color.  I was getting a little drunk on the anticipation….I actually needed (loosely) a new navy sweater for a few specific items in my closet I rarely wear.  Click.

Well look at that…it actually is the same poncho as my other two.  In stock.  50% off. Do I even need to say it?

At the end of my skit I had 3 brand new, solid color ponchos laying on my dining room table…all perfect.  All still with the tags.  None of them worn.

Gag.  Despite feeling as if I could not live without them, 4 weeks have passed and I haven’t worn a single one.  The exhilaration of the find, the sale, the hunt….it was great fun.  A nice distraction.  At the time I had lots of ways to justify – tried and true stand-bys like…

It is on-sale….so buying more than one is fiscally responsible.

Ponchos are forever.  I will wear these for years and years.

There is an outfit for every practical color I bought.

What if there is never another perfect poncho ever made ever again??

If one is good, two is great and three is simply glorious.

This is a perfect shit storm of excess.  And of course this is not my first time buying in multiples.  Jeans that fit just right – get 2.  Just in case.  Target t-shirts – 3 different colors please – they are only $7.99.  And Lululemon black leggings….I can’t even.

Am I trying to be radical this year?  Nope.  Not one bit.  I am trying to be aware, with honesty and no excuses, about the choices I make.  That’s all.  Just a stupid, lofty, challenging attempt at owning my shit.



Wondering about the fifth poncho?  It’s perfect in its own right and was bought this fall.  Looks great with jeans!

*I loooooove this …..Tina Fey is just the cat’s meow – all recognition goes to her for this saucy, creative use of the my favorite cuss word.  Bravo!

Naysayers, Cohorts and the Wannabes

Happy New Year, neighbor!  I read your blog post!

Pause.  Think.  What did I write now….

We all just read it – pulled it up on the phone.  Soooo. Right now I give you ….well… the over/under for me is two weeks.  Eric has to be jazzed about this!

Ah, right – I’m not going to buy myself any new clothes in 2016.  366 days sans retail therapy.  Less is the new more.  Word travels fast – and so does the bookie business.  Two weeks?  You have to be kidding me.

C’mon….Nordstrom sale…Target…Amazon…Nordstrom

Heckling on day one – nice.  My year without shopping has touched on something.

There are definitely a group of peeps who unabashedly have said no way. No way you can do it.  No way I could do it.  Why would you even do it?

I totally get it.  This crazy idea came out of the blue with zero planning.  Six months ago I would have laughed.  4 weeks ago I would have pointed out my annual defeat in the Y2 Yoga Challenge of 62 practices in 62 days.  I even pay to be a part of that every November and December and can’t keep it up!  Too much happens from one day to the next and honestly, I am not a rigid person.  Lent for me is always a bust.  I finally changed that strategy to the “I’ll do good instead of giving something up…” cop-out.  You would think as a grown woman I could stop eating tater tots for one stinkin’ month!

So, naysayers, I hear you.  Place your bets.

One item to note is that I have a latent, highly competitive, slightly bitchy side lurking under the sweet exterior.  So keep telling me how hard it will be or where I will get tripped up.  You might just be motivating me to get through those tricky Target aisles without another perfect white tank top.

Cohorts!  God Bless You!  You strong, beautiful, risky women who jumped right on board!  I didn’t ask your permission to list your names (next blog hopefully) so I won’t . My sidekicks, your reasons for doing this touched my heart.  It is all about becoming the best we can be, right?  If we have all made to day 6 then I think we are a success!  Here’s to re-wearing, being content and giving the finger to every flash sale email that shows up in our inbox!!


Sweet Wannabes….bless your heart.  Thank you for your words of support! You wished me luck and told me why you could never do this.

I wouldn’t last one week…. Too hard, too long…I can’t resist Target…but the after Christmas sales…what if I need new underwear?

I hear you, sistas.  There is a turquoise blue hoodie sweatshirt at Y2 I WANT.  Yesterday it jumped up, spun around and called my name the minute I walked in the door.  I have a red one already and love it with all my heart.  Perfect in every way – right length, right fit, right fuzz amount on the inside.  A week ago I would have run straight over and made it mine, without a second thought or a bit of guilt.  So I hear you.  It isn’t easy.  I had to tell myself that one perfect sweatshirt was good enough – over and over until I safely passed by and rolled out my mat to work through that shit.


No matter if you are a naysayer, cohort or wannabe, I hope you still cheer me on during the journey and it helps you get closer to finding more space for what matters and means the most in your life.  New clothes might not be “that thing” for you.  But something is…

That’s really what this silliness is about.  Owning our shit and working through it so that the beautiful life we all have can shine through.







2016 :: Making Space…In My Closet?

Anyone else feeling a bit worn out?

I love the holiday season but every year after the “2 big days” I am docard stackne.

I have eaten enough, shopped enough, entertained enough.  I’ve decorated and cleaned and cooked and wrapped.  I have licked so many envelopes I seriously worried I was coming dangerously close to death by glue poisoning.

Inevitably the pressure to think of something (anything) I might aim to accomplish over the course of the next 365 days (366 this year – are you kidding me?) creeps in.  As a kid I could count on returning to school in January with at least one of my classes opening up with a goal setting writing prompt or discussion on the past and the future.  It always made me nauseated and nervous. I was so caught up with making creative goals and then the viability of achievement that I literally froze (like water should be doing this time of year).  I can still overthink my way out of productivity (just ask my writing group, my husband, my parents, my children…)

I think I am starting to understand a few things about resolutions and goals and productivity (not to mention finding peace and happiness and gratitude).  The fucking brain tumor blows, but I have to give it props for shaking up my life.  It does every day.  And on the days I pay attention, my life is bright and brilliant and filled with love and happiness.

find the magic 1

I want to make more space for the fucking brain tumor to work its magic.

Deep breath. Shit.  Ok.  Here it is….

Charlotte has an amazing group of thinkers and writers – one of my faves is Bruce McIntyre and his blog Choices Do Matter.  I love people who make me think, and Bruce sure does.  Plus I believe 100% in the power of choice.  Back in my middle school classroom I preached choice .  All. The. Time. You choose.  You have the power of choice.  Own your choices.  Choices come with consequences so choose well.  I am AMAZED how many life lessons come from that space, by the way.  I am also amazed by how much we, as adults, can be really stuck in those middle school years.  Myself included.

Bruce took a bold move earlier this week and declared his intention for 2016 – no more STUFF.  I read it.  And then I commented.  (and you know, shit goes DOWN in the comments on a blog!)

Hey Bruce!
I have to say that your resolution has been nagging at me….a whole year….no new clothing…. I brought this up last night at dinner with the kids and we had a fantastic discussion about “stuff”, privilege, wealth, excess…so your post has already had a great impact!

OK. I am in. I have enough. (Actually I have too much – I doubt I will need any needles and thread!)

May I share your post on my blog? Maybe we can do this journey together?

One year.  366 days (damn the extra leap day!).  No shopping for clothing for myself.  I think I threw up a bit in my mouth.

Why?  My shopping is not out of the ordinary, nor does it put my family in financial jeopardy.  It is something I really like – a new pair of shoes, cute yoga pants, another pair of jeans.  It really does make me happy.  For a solid….day.  Then it all just becomes another potential cute outfit in a closet full of cute outfits.  What I realized is this – I have enough.

I also know, and have never said out loud, online shopping is my go-to stress reliever.  I am sure if we tracked it, clothing purchases really spike in the days leading up to Eric’s next MRI.  Feeling down?  Nordstroimagesm will
fix that!  Rained for 7 weeks in  row and now feeling some seasonal disorder effects?  Troll the internet (for hours) for the sales and load up.  Something to look forward to – that package on the porch!


Time for a shift.

In preparation for this “resolution” I mentally ran through my year – events, weddings, parties, vacations.  I then took inventory of my closet (all seasons).  There are a few snags…. Vegas.  The CCDS auction. Spring Break.  Summer sandals (that one will hurt).  But really…I have enough.  So you might see me in the same sweater twice this winter….is that the worst thing to happen?

I have unsubscribed from every single retail email.  Bugger.  I love the sales…

hint hintI am listing in my brand new 2016 journal my “alternative” choices…walking, reading, writing, more yoga, calling my parents, texting my friends, cooking, organizing, cleaning (yeah, right…things will need to hit rock bottom for that one to happen).

Plus I can receive gifts.  And send hints. That is my one caveat.

So that’s it.  Less stuff – more space.


You can read Bruce’s blog post that inspired me to own my PWW status here … I Resolve…No More STUFF in 2016!

PWW?  Read this.

Or this.

Or this.

Curious about the struggles that are SURE to happen along the way?  Join me and follow along with the blog!




Times they are a changin’….Welcome 2016!

New Year’s Eve used to be all about ME (and Eric was allowed to come along for the ride, of course ) Destination vacations back in the days before kids…New Orleans, Taos, Deer Valley , New York … no worries beyond making the flights. And functioning the next day. newyearscanyons

Then came the agony and mad scrambling to find a babysitter on the most coveted night of the year. It was a competitive sport that began weeks before the holidays. Young girls locked down, co$_35nfirmed, re-confirmed…..if only those 15 – 22 year olds knew the power they had over us. As Eric would say, “She has us by the balls, doesn’t she?”

For a brief stint we had two kids old enough to hang alone (at least while we enjoyed a nice dinner out). A lot of phone checking and an overinflated sense that we “had arrived”. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone….
Gone indeed. Teenagers. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Welcome to the playroom. Time to give up the sequins and heels, even the cozy couch in the den with the big TV. Time to take a back seat and pass the baton….now it is about you, kiddoes. We will make the trip to Party City, order the pizza and buy the snacks and sodas, and tell you to have as many or as few of your friends over…even fire up the outdoor firepit. We will watch football (and maybe a little Kathy Lee and Hoda in Times Square if I can get Eric drugged and passed out) in our little cave, peek out every now and then to sniff a few water bottles, light up any dark corners….

Cheers to the middle aged parents out there toasting 2016 in the shittiest room of the house…all so those teens can start the year safe and sound.


What’s On Your Mat?

You don’t need to bring much to a yoga class – your mat, a couple of towels (one for the mat and maybe one to wipe the leftover mascara that streaks down your face cheeks) and water… it’s a pretty simple setup.  What catches me by surprise every time are all the little things that show up with me that I didn’t know were going to be a part of my practice that day. I could never predict from one day to the next what bonus item I will find- it is like a secret Santa gift to me over and over again (probably more like a white elephant gift, really).

Cheeto crumbs

Being scolded for talking too far into the beginning of class is nothing new for me.  Sometimes it is a matter of finishing up a really good story, other times it is a totally legit reason – like finding Cheetos scattered across the top of my mat.  Not only did I have to tell my yoga neighbors, but in my moment of incredulous discovery I exclaimed to the whole class “But there are Cheetos on my mat!”  No doubt the Cheetos came from Casa de Rohr and I was not eating the Cheetos on my mat.  Well, not that day anyway.  My best guess is that this was actually a squeaky clean Cheeto – a missed puff hidden deep down in my son’s pants pocket that went through the laundry and came out all wrapped up in my yoga towel.  A more nagging question is how could it really still be that orange after a hot wash cycle?


I’m not always ready to share my latest finds with the class or even the mat next door.  Far too many times I have unfolded my mat towel out before class and various pieces of undergarments have snapped out with it.  It is one thing when an unmentionable is pretty, it is quite another when it is the old gals that are designed for one purpose only – comfort.  That creates a panic and mad scramble – more than once I have found myself in a crescent lunge to retrieve my skivvies.  Damn that static cling!


Dog hair.  My hair.  Your hair.  I can fall out of Warrior Three faster than an exhausted hot yogi, obsessively picking it from my towel.  I’ll even gag from time to time…hello focus?


Imagine my surprise when I realized my 110 pound yellow lab Fletch made an appearance in class.  Fletch came from a farm in SC and

the transition to life in suburbia has been, well, interesting.  He is a hunting dog so smells literally can drive him insane – especially anything dirty that smells like his people.  He hit the jackpot when he sniffed out a bag of sweaty yoga towels left on my bathroom floor.  If the smell is “good” enough, and no doubt it was that day, he has to give it a little chew.  What’s a dog to do?  In my case he had to chew a giant hole in the middle of my towel – you know, right where the most crotch sweat has ended up.  I am sure he enjoyed every minute … it is now my favorite towel to bring to class.

The best thing I find on my mat?  The laughter that comes with living life.  All the hair and the holes.  The static cling and the snack foods.  Laughing our way through certainly eases some of the embarrassment.  Next time I am a bit chatty at the front of the room, pay close attention. Who knows what may have just flown off of my mat…and maybe even worse, onto yours.



What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever found on your mat? I’d love to hear about it!

Loving Touch

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”  Charles Dickens

A few weeks ago, an older gentleman came into church before mass began and sat in an area typically reserved for the choir.  There was no choir that day so no one paid him much attention.  When the music began he rose to his feet and started to conduct an invisible orchestra – invisible, at least, to us.  With great passion, and movement, he was lost in the music for the entire song.  

After, an usher quickly escorted him to the nearest front pew.  Without the music, he was agitated and unsettled; he was becoming a distraction and a concern.  A grandmother with young ones relocated.  Hushed whispers and side glances took over half of the sanctuary.  Tension was growing.

A man my age, a father of two teenagers, someone I say hello to and smile each week, slid into the pew beside him.  Not saying a word, he simply put his hand on the man’s shoulder.  He kept it there and the man became less agitated.  He settled in.  The man’s wife soon joined him on the other side.  Every time whatever energy was in his mind started to pick up again, a simple touch of the hand was enough to calm his mind, his heart and perhaps his spirit.   

I had tears in my eyes for most of the mass – it was among the most beautiful, kind and generous things I have seen one human being do for another.  

Grand gestures and intense support for those in need are no doubt needed in this world.  And this is the time of year when our neighbors who struggle with homelessness, illness, abuse and challenges beyond our comprehension, are closest to our hearts (and wallets).

Equally needed, however, is the sharing our humanity through a simple touch, smile or word.  It is enough.  Looking at the world through a lens of love and compassion.  It is enough.  Committing to serving everyone we meet with an open heart.  It is enough.c0e2451c35b381905ae0ec0f3fcc56ff

Give big this holiday season.  Whatever calls you – go all in.

And then…..

Smile all the time.  To everyone.  No matter what.

Show patience and tolerance.  To everyone.  No matter what.

Be humble.  To everyone.  No matter what.

Be generous.  To everyone.  No matter what.




Love Always Trumps Fear

Gobble Gobble!

In the past month I have strongly considered leaving the world of Facebook, at least for awhile.  It has been an unsettling few weeks for all of us and in that discomfort and fear, Facebook (at least in my newsfeed) has become an op-ed forum for all things delicate and controversial.  The adorable Halloween pictures of chubby Cinderellas and fierce Captain Americas faded away.  No celebratory big moment eschewed the open forum that is social media.  Far too often I read a post and thought “really?” or worse.  I scrolled (trolled?) through comments (I can hear my friend saying “Don’t read the comments!!!!”) that only seemed to raise my ire higher and higher.  I had to work VERY hard to keep my trembling fingertips away from the keyboard. I did succumb with one small addition to the fray…..


As time passed, my salty responses (mostly in my head) slowly dissipated.  And Facebook changed, too. The status updates became less divisive and more inclusive.  As Thanksgiving creeped into the newsfeed there was far more love and far less fear.  More inclusion and less exclusion.  It was as if the simple idea that we had one day set aside to honor the good in our lives worked the magic.  The magic that comes when we let go of fear and replace it instead with love.

Everyone is walking around with a shit ton of fear.

When will another terrorist attack happen?  Are we safe? Is this the beginning of a global crisis about to escalate?

Will my child be safe driving on her own?  Will my friend’s cancer return?  How do I pay my bills this month?

Can I lose 10 pounds over the holidays? Do my shoes clash with my sweater?  What will happen if Donald Trump actually becomes President? (hee hee)

Big and small, fear is everywhere.  I know.  I get it.  The f-ing brain tumor, right?  There is my biggie (among others).

But we ALWAYS have choices.

We can choose to let the fear rule our thoughts, our words, our actions. We can walk around this world, real and virtual, and choose to put the fear in front of all else. We can let it fester in our heads and thoughts and hearts.  It can rule us…..and often times it does.


We can choose a different response.  Fear is always going to be with us – it is life.  The choice comes with what we do with it – how long we let it linger and how much energy we direct towards it.  What if we ackowledge our fear, consider it, and then make a choice to go a different, opposite, direction.  Maybe it is humor.  Maybe it is silence (collective gasp).  Maybe it is an intentional moment of gratitude.  I know from experience that fear needs our permission, our choice, to exist.

Facebook is such a grand social experiment and opportunity to see into “us” in ways I never would be able to otherwise.  As a writer, that sort of lens is invaluable.  As a person, it is a top-notch chance to do a bit of self reflection.  It presents opportunities to practice choices, big and small.  Now that is something to be thankful for!



PS – I am also DEEPLY thankful for all of my friends (virtual and otherwise) who do not believe and think the same way I do.  I hope you continue to put your voice out there in positive and productive ways, and I hope you find a space to hear others doing the same.  Without fear.



That Time You Go Car Shopping…..and Realize the Fun is Gone

My Grandpa Scurfield was the embodiment of a curmudgeon (after about the age 70.)  It happens.  Old age gives you rights a younger person simply doesn’t have.

The right to…

always be suspicious

always be sure they are out to get you

always be opinionated

always be right

always be ready for a fight

How I wish I had him back now, at 44 myself.  I would have appreciated his personality so much more.  I would do less cringing and eye-rolling and way more laughing and prodding.  I have no doubt his love of gadgets would have him cursing his own iPhone, convinced somehow it was taking advantage of him, and therefore the instrument leading to the the fall of humanity.  Damn kids and their devices… I would have gladly brought him along to any situation that required a bit of push and pull.  I can only imagine the havoc he could have wreaked at an Apple store….

My husband was terrified of him – upon meeting him for the first time he launched into his personal manifesto about banks, bankers and the pure evil they all embodied.  The banks, apparently, purposefully staff their branches to create long lines … and this somehow lets them then take advantage and purport evil over all of their customers.

Eric is a banker.

Here is what I love the most about Grandpa Scurfield.  He never shied away from making his ideas heard.  He was proud of his family.  He worked.  Hard.  Really Hard.  Like 3 jobs to put his sons through college hard.  He had passions and interests that ran deep and wide.

And I realized that I have a lot of him in me and my Grandpa really shows up when I go car shopping….

I hate conflict.

I hate negotiations.

I hate haggling.


But apparently if you put me at a desk, in a car dealership, across from a car salesman the gloves come off.

The greatest conspiracy theory in me – deeply ingrained from Grandpa Scurfield – is that every car salesman’s job is to rip me off.  And my job, by GOD, is to stop them.  Come hell or high water I WILL negotiate until both of our eyes bleed.  And I will drink their freshly ground Starbucks coffee and have a snack because it is FREE and I am bringing down the dealership one pack of peanut butter crackers at a time.

I am really good at it – Eric even said so!  There was a part of me that wanted him to see that I can do this…that no matter what happens I at LEAST can negotiate a great car deal!


Today people use technology to research the “current market value” of cars…

Today car dealers are forced to be incredibly competitive with their pricing or they lose business…

Today people know the exact car they want before the walk into the dealership and simply give the VIN and stock number to their assigned salesperson…

Today car salesman must be patient above all else in dealing with consumers of a certain age … like me.

It took us 6 and a half hours to negotiate a car deal.

Most consumers “today” only take about 2….start to finish.

Did I start with a low ball offer?  Check.  Did I work them over?  Yes.  Did I pull out my best “Why don’t you go back to your sales manager and talk and come back with your best and final offer?”?  Yes, yes I did.

Did it work?  A little bit.

Did I realize times have changed?  I did.

Damn kids and their technology.

FGioma is 5 years old

Today is the five year anniversary of Eric’s first seizure that eventually led to his brain tumor diagnosis.

got glioma?  he does.

will it ever go away?  it won’t.

fglioma?  every day.

I wish there was a better word than anniversary to describe the passage of time surrounding events that we must acknowledge and recognize, but not celebrate.  Time marches forward. It is so important to mark those events that change our souls, even the ones that break our hearts, because it reminds us that we can survive.  We have survived.  We will survive.

Today has been looming more like a deadline to me.  Whether ultimately accurate or not, I can’t forget the first night in the ICU room, hearing the words “4-7 years”. We have heard a lot of other numbers….we have also seen time frames play out far too quickly.  There is simply no way to know what the future holds, and that is the single most difficult part of this journey.  There is nothing known, from time frames, to treatment, to symptoms….nothing.

Hindsight is an amazing tool into the unseen workings of the soul that are invisible to us in a given moment.  While everything we (mostly I) have shared has been 100% true, most of it has been a bit too shiny and polished to really do anyone any good but myself.  In many ways it has been selfish writing.  Writing to reassure MYSELF that there is a purpose in this journey and that I am approaching this in the right way.

The untold story, and the future story, is to dig into the why and the how I am happier in this moment than any other times in my adult life.  Much of this has come from yoga, can’t lie.  From yoga I have learned to quiet my crazy-ass mind, let go of all forms of peer pressure, mean girls and keeping up with the Jones’, and try to understand that I am absolutely in control of how I live my life – learning to choose to be happy versus waiting for it to happen….  I practice every day living in the moment – not the past and not the future.  Being present is the greatest gift the tumor has given me, and my yoga practice, teachers and community have put the light on this blessing.

I suppose I am a scientist at heart because I am constantly trying to understand the “why”…..Why does yoga work? Why am I ok?  Why do some people thrive and others barely survive?  What have I done right and what have I done wrong?

It may be as simple as one word.  Love.  Choosing Love.  Showing Love.  Practicing Love.  Being Love.

I’ve seen it work.  I have sat with the lost in our society – the broken, the poor, the homeless, the sick.  Many do not remember the impact of an monetary gift I have given them. A website of resources or a gift of technology is important, but not life changing.  It is not life changing because it is nothing without a human connection.

Over and over people respond to and appreciate one thing.  Love.  This is without exception.

The loving gift of time.  The loving gift of concern.  The loving gift of friendship. The loving gift of honesty.  The loving gift of authenticity.  The loving gift of our shared humanity.

People respond to Love.

And here is the other truth.  No one can give Love to another without fully first Loving herself, her life, her truth…..completely.  It doesn’t work otherwise.  And maybe that is why the world is so sad.  We have forgotten how to Love the most important person in our lives – our self.

“The great compassionate souls always take their overflow of sorrow and turn it into love.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Below is a piece I wrote awhile ago about our journey…. it was, ironically, published this morning on kindness blog…..in case you want to keep reading….



My husband’s {inoperable and incurable} brain tumor has been the greatest blessing I have ever received. Let me say it again – his brain tumor is my BLESSING. I know this with 100% certainty – I have never been so full of joy and happiness. Right here and right now. Oh, let me clear one thing up from the start. I am not in denial nor am I deluded. If you can let that suspicion go, the story means more.

We were sailing right along until…we weren’t.

Two amazing kids, happy and healthy, a ridiculously lovable yellow lab, a house on the best street in my favorite neighborhood, a career I loved, loads of friends and family – all that was missing was the proverbial white picket fence.

Trish Rohr and family

Life was easy shmeasy.


There are always annoyances and challenges to consume our minds and to divert our attention. It’s the rub for us all, isn’t it? It takes a jolt to see what’s right in front of us. I surely got mine.

I will never forget my pivotal moment – the one that woke me from my despair and truly brought more light into my life that I could ever have imagined. Sitting on our sofa together soon after the biopsy of the tumor, Eric and I had tears streaming down our faces (I am sure I had snot running down my chin, too- I am an ugly crier that surpasses all other ugly criers. Trust me. It would make you want to look away)

We both were thinking the same thing….

Struggling to choke out the words…

We are so blessed.

We were beautifully overcome by gratitude for what we had. We had love and support and spiritual nourishment and physical nourishment and kindness and concern… We had it all, and we were finally able to see it.

Never again, not one moment, has it been about what we don’t have or what has been taken away or what may happen in the future.


My joy, my life will never be perfect – it never has been. The difference now is that I don’t work towards an unattainable {and undesirable} goal. I thank God, the universe, the f-d up piece of DNA in my husband’s brain…. for giving me life.

We handle the f-ing brain tumor (FGlioma has become our mantra, our power) as the most trivial and meaningless aspect of our life. It doesn’t have power over us – in fact we have sapped it of all of its power by laughing at it, ridiculing it, using it for change and good and happiness, sharing with others our lessons through this journey….. it is weak and we are strong.

I need my children to know that life is beautiful

in the face of adversity and, no matter what, we get up.

It has been five years since I heard the words

“There is a mass in your husband’s brain…we need to get him to the Neuro ICU”.

These have been the five most difficult and yet rewarding years of my life. I have failed many times. MANY times. I’ve failed in how I handle my emotions, my husband, my children, my relationships with friends and family….. I have spent time being busy – so very busy – just to stop thinking. I have spent hours wasted on Netflix, escaping my reality. I have ignored even the simplest of tasks like returning a text or phone call. I left my job of 12 years and felt the overwhelming terror of filling the hours of the day by myself. I’ve cried. I’ve raged. I’ve been irrational and snarky and pissed.


I am so thankful for my family and friends who love and understand unconditionally; for everyone following this journey and offering thoughts, prayers, and intentions; for a sense of humor that is the ONLY thing that makes life remotely tolerable; for my sacred yoga practice and community – my teachers and role models who have given me gifts that are truly magical; for my blessed and privileged life that allows me to follow my heart and passion.

trish rohrAuthor Bio: Trish Rohr is a writer :: avid reader :: nonprofit founder :: yogi

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Also see Rohr Rockstars.

Pope Frances – He Had Me at Little Black Fiat

I have been on a Pope binge.  I am absolutely mesmerized by this holy, joyful man.  I must admit that I have spent more time immersing myself in #PopeinUS than I would have predicted.  As a #masseverydamnweek Catholic, the Pope comes up from time to time….

I vividly remember when Pope John Paul II (or JP2 as my beloved Father Frank would say) died.  At the time my kids were 5 and 3 1/2  and we were in the throws of transitioning from the Family Mass (i.e. Mass Chaos) in the school cafeteria to the service in the church. There were several full-color, HUGE pictures of JP2 placed around the outside entries to the church as well as inside.  My beautiful 3 1/2-year old boy would yell, literally, every time he saw that picture of the old man in a bright red cape, “He’s Dead!”  Over and over and over again. Boy oh boy did he embrace the Pope’s passing. www.imperialteutonicorder.com

We eventually moved on to the crucifix and Jesus … prompting a slightly more embarrassing proclamation at random moments during the actual Mass….chubby fingers pointed straight ahead, connecting the dots – that guy too, the one on the cross, was also…dead.  Awesome.

I fell into a bit of a Pope vacuum after that, certainly hearing the rumblings and goings-on as any good Catholic would, but not really seeing the magic unfolding.  Until Tuesday.

He had me at Little Black Fiat.

The joy and excitement from my go-to channel for binge watching any “Breaking News”, CNN, has been unprecedented.  Wednesday morning Chris Cuomo was giddy, at one point yelling off camera “Papa Francesco! Papa Francesco!”to the passing motorcade.  Wolf has been less arrogant (and clearly less knowledgeable as he was pointed out to NOT be Catholic several times so far by his colleagues – hilarious) and Don Lemon has been, well, almost tolerable.  It is refreshing.  We are witnessing history AND it is completely devoid of negativity.  None.

His smile is contagious.  His warmth awe-inspiring. His white cape refreshingly simple and carefully replaced each time the breeze folds it over….

It was then that I noticed…him.  The handler.  Of the Pope.  The Pope’s handler.

 The Pope’s Gary Walsh

A few steps to the side, head slightly bowed, full devotion to all things Selina… err …Pope.  The Papal Cape folds over, he is there, smoothing it down.  The Pope is thirsty, he knows it and has a glass ready and waiting.  A small whisper here, a dismissive hand gesture there…. As Gary once said to Selina Meyer, “I’m your calendar, I’m your Google, I’m your Wilson the volleyball” (confused?  well, that is because you are out of the loop and not watching an incredibly funny show on HBO – VEEP.  check it out and catch up)


I had to know –  who IS this guy and what, exactly, is his job?

Monsignor Guido Marini is his name.  Being the Master of Papal Ceremonies and Liturgical Celebrations is his game.  And it is NOT his first Papal Rodeo – Marini held onto his job even through the Benedict – Frances transition.  I suspect Pope Benedict provided more opportunity to express the flashier side of papal tradition.  It is rumored that when Frances was first introduced as Pope he was presented with the traditional fur-trimmed, red cape.  He then turned to his Gary and said, “Thank you.  You may wear it if you like. The carnival is over.”

True or not, I know one thing.  Monsignor Guido takes his job seriously just look at his face.  He is a no-nonsense Gary.  He rarely smiles.  He did falter in NYC when Bishop Dolan bestowed the regal title of a “true New Yorker” on the Pope during the Prayer Service.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Maybe there was an inside joke there between the him and the Pope….

There has to be more to this mysterious man with the eagle eye and smooth gestures of command.   I can’t help but wonder – is he Pope Francis’ “bag-man” just like Gary Walsh?  While I actually haven’t seen the bag per se, whose to say it isn’t under the cassock of this devoted and serious man?  Hand sanitizer, Chapstick, crackers….what does the Pope need?  Perhaps a spare zucchetto? Extra incense? A Metro pass?621170_Vatican-Armenians.JPEG-0cd6

The Pope’s Gary is the careful orchestrator of the pomp and circumstance and the keeper of all tradition.  I wonder what the other Monsignors say behind his back?  Is he seen as the consummate Papal suck up in the halls of the Vatican?  He is a Monsignor, that’s true, but now what?  Where do you go after being the Papal Cruise Director?

There is one thing I think I do know – Papa Francesco is a stand alone kind of guy.  Sure, he has a Gary.  But he doesn’t need no stinking Gary.  Just like he doesn’t need the red shoes, the red cape, the big apartment….how refreshing is that?

So Bravo Pope Francis! Your time here thus far has been worth every minute.  You have blessed this country with a firm message of tolerance, love, humanity, humility and respect for all.  I’ll be tuned in for the second half of your journey – and this time I won’t be so distracted by your Gary.

“In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.” – Pope Frances – Speech to Congress – September 2015

war stories and a field of dreams

My daughter is doing a literary criticism of a novel for her 10th grade World History class, All Quiet on the Western Front.  I have been so long removed from the beauty of reading and interpreting  literature I had almost forgot how compelling it is to pick apart a story to get to the core, the heart, the soul of what the writer wanted you to know.  It is taxing work, it is a skill to be built, and it is something that requires a level of thinking and connection and interpretation and self exploration that I am not sure we (I) do enough.  It is too easy to hear the story, read about the characters, take in the action and be done.  But there is more to the story – there is always more to the story.

This particular novel explores war and its impact on the psyche of men.  Deep.  It has also be labeled an anti-war novel, a depiction so graphic and disturbing it should do nothing but to inspire us to end all war.  It’s so damn interesting isn’t it? War.  Violence.  Human failings.  I fall into the CNN time suck trap every time…the suspense, the intrigue, the unknown…. I want to peek into the darkness, darkness I pray never comes close to my family, my life, my peace.  I watch in fascination, disbelief, horror.  These are men (and sometimes women) orchestrating drama on a world-wide stage.  The story is certainly one to be told – for the victims – but I know we do not pay enough attention to what these stories should be telling us.  I don’t pay enough attention because it is easy to watch the drama unfold and then change the channel.  And it is the changing of the channel that keeps us from the message…..

I am coming up on the 5 year anniversary of the biggest plot twist in my life.  It is also the 10 year anniversary of an event that I did not, for reasons I am still figuring out, twist my plot enough.  I changed the channel.  Probably because I could, like most things in life.  It is the events that have no other channels, those are the ones that give us opportunities to go deeper, look more closely, find the meaning to the story.

My plot twist happened in the bleachers at a little league baseball field…my greatest moments since have happened watching those same boys play for the next 4 summers.  What little league has given my family, the opportunities to find the good stories and life lessons in so many ways, was worth digging deeper.  When we faced making some serious decisions about treatment, we chose to see what our story was teaching us, and it led us right back to those little league fields for a summer never to be forgotten.  A summer of life-long friendships, of love and support, of winning and losing (mostly winning because we knew how to lose as winners), pride and accomplishment, sportsmanship…. It was as if we were all there to find the greater story – the one that happens on a baseball field when 9 boys play a game that is capable of creating suspense and excitement on the scale of (and exceeding in so many ways) of any sensational story on CNN.   This game, this league, this channel….it can only be played on the peace of a baseball field.  It is the anti-war, the anti-plot twist….. 9 young boys making peace more interesting.  THAT is the channel I want to watch.

Today at 3 pm the US Little League Champions (not only from my home state of PA, but also from little ‘ole York County!!) will take on the International Champions from Japan.  You don’t have to love baseball or Little League to appreciate this story…the insurmountable odds that brought these boys to this stadium in beautiful rural PA, the teamwork that MUST exist to be a ball team of this level, the lessons and love that come from playing a game the right way, for the right reasons.  Tune in.  Look for the story.  Give this pure and peaceful story the attention we give to the war stories in our life.  I can guarantee what you uncover is better.

Elvis, Kasie and one hell of a Death Week.

Moving to Memphis, TN at 23 years old was an eye-opening experience in many ways.  Sure, this “Yankee girl” had spent some time in the south – Charlotte, Charleston, Savannah…. but those places are the “east coast” south.  A fair amount of outside influences have soften the edges, rubbed clean the old and replaced with some shiny new parts.  Still genteel, still outlandishly hospitable with unbelievable food, yet somehow softer.  More open.  Breezy.  Very different from THE South.  THE South feels closed off.  Amid all of the wonderful southern traditions there is a layer of old pride.  It is stubborn, stifling, mysterious.  Always a bit mysterious…..

We arrived in Memphis during The Firm era.  The parallel of our arrival – a young banker joining the ranks of the long-standing financial institution – was never lost on us.  It wasn’t long after arriving, and already being called a damn Yankee by a very serious older {gentle}man, that the ultimate pop culture, mind-blowing event began to unfold right before our eyes.

Subtle at first, it was more of a hidden secret that slowly unfolded into the greatest people watching spectacle I could have ever imagined.  I had already seen a lot – Beale Street, Tunica Mississippi casinos, hole in the wall barbecue joints …I had even seen Graceland.  On a “regular” weekend.

The celebration of the death of Elvis takes over Memphis for an unbelievable amount of time.  10 days.  TEN DAYS.  The most loyal fans humanity has to offer come into the city happy as a puppy with two tails.  They are ready to pay homage to The King of Rock and Roll in ways you can only imagine. Sure, Elvis impersonators and blue suede shoes are the imagines that come to mind, but trust me when I say that seeing an entire family – babies through the granddaddy – pour out of van dressed in various forms of Elvis takes it all to a new level.

Elvis sets the standard in celebrations of the dead.

Never in a million years would I expect to have my own death week…my own surreal remembrance of someone who I call The Awesome Girl for so many reasons.  Every August, always aligned with the start of the school year, I find myself going back to 2005, tracking 7 days on the calendar that forever changed my life in ways I am still understanding.  I am religious about it.  My Death Week is marked Day 1, Day 2…and there is nothing in the word that keeps me from remembering, as best as I can anyway.   Truly, for the trauma of the events that unfolded, I remember far more than I ever thought I would.  And thank GOD I do because it is my way of honoring a woman who I loved and admired deeply.  Some say I torture myself emotionally, reliving details, walking around on the verge of tears….but how else do you handle the loss of a BFF?  At 32.  With a 2 year old.  And pregnant with Baby Elizabeth.  Who had a husband and a career and friends and family….. It is not torture – It is an honor.

It has now been 10 years.  Nine times I have walked this memory path with Kasie’s family and friends.  What I have realized is that the memories of that week are sacred to me.  What the week brought to Phil, Kasie’s parents and family…..it is truly incomprehensible.

I know now that losing Kasie holds more for me than just a tragedy and a yearly death week.  Much like Kasie there is beauty and love and magic….there is loyalty, humor, and just a bit of insanity in these memories.

This story, Kasie’s story, has been sitting on my keyboard just waiting to be shared, for years.  When I allowed myself to take the risk and share my family’s journey on a blog, it was only from drawing strength from Kasie.  She was a risk taker, a believer in herself, a cheerleader for her loved ones and friends….she would have said to me “Do this girl!  It will be AWESOME!!”  And I am starting to believe she may just be right.  But perhaps it isn;t my story alone….perhaps it is OUR story that should be shared.

Tonight we are going to celebrate the memory of a remarkable woman – someone who lived life with enthusiasm, believed in the pure gold value of family and friends, loved her son the tater tot to the moon and back…..someone who deserves more than anyone (even Elvis, King of Rock and Roll) her own Death Week.  Maybe we will come in sundresses found at Marshall’s for a song (ok, maybe not Bobby…wait…that would be hysterical!!)…..we will most certainly all come with love and daisies in our heart.

It’s time to talk about Kasie and the lessons she gives freely to all of us every single day.  She deserves nothing less.

Love you girl!

Back to School :: RR Style

Certain times of the year are absolutely worth the price of admission on Facebook.  These yearly milestones make scrolling through all of the vacation pictures of painted toes poised in front of a blue ocean, crazy political rants, exercise recountings and food selfies well, (more) tolerable.   Shiny faces and shiny shoes, new backpacks filled with clean paper, inky markers and bright pink erasers.  Usually pictures snapped on the front porch or driveway, bright smiles ready to tackle a new year.  One of the few times I would say more is more in terms of sharing.  Ok, and new babies.  New babies need to be shared. A Lot.

Nostalgia creeps in for me… I spent 15 years waiting in my shiny clean classroom to greet the kiddoes in those pictures.  I can promise you that even quasi-grumpy 8th graders feel the excitement for a fresh start.

And that’s what it is, right… a fresh start?  A chance to be a new you.  An 8th grader – 7th grader left far behind.  Maybe there will be new friendships or better grades, or a chance to sit at a different table in the cafeteria.  Have you ever put your hand up to an old school TV screen and felt the tingly zingy field of electrical …something.  (is it static electricity?  yikes!  I feel like I should know that…)  That feeling, almost intangible but still there, crackly and alive…that’s the first day feeling at school (in case you have forgotten or haven’t had the privilege to be an adult looking in).  It is fleeting….8 hours max.  The next time the clocks read 8 am the feeling is different – more normal.  It’s special because it doesn’t last….but it does leave an imprint of hope for the next time….the next fresh start.

Last week I spent the evening at the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Hemby Children’s Hospital (lordy – what a cumbersome name) meeting with families of pediatric sickle cell patients and helping everyone get excited about going back to school.  I don’t have the words to describe the size of the hearts of the people who work in this special place….I am so humbled that they have allowed me and RR to stand with them in service to these very special families and kids.  Every sickle cell patient was invited to come and fill a new backpack with brand new school supplies.  I deeply appreciated my peeps who donated school supplies – for many of these families what they received last week will be the only items going to school with the kids on Monday when CMS begins.

It is not only about the tangible pencils and erasers….it is the hope that comes with a fresh start.  It is letting the kiddoes and parents know that there are people cheering them on.  Parents were given sheets that explained sickle cell and its special needs to be given to the new teachers, and we talked a lot about making the school year a success from day 1.  Guess what was also there?  That tingly zingy feeling of going back to school….  I saw big smiles, talked about favorite subjects (science of course), and lots big plans for the year…. I can say it was probably among the best hours of my summer.

September is both Pediatric Cancer Awareness as well as Sickle Cell Awareness Month – we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate all of our ROCKSTARS!!!

While still under construction, we would love you to visit http://www.rohrrockstars.org and keep up with the amazing kiddoes we support and share in our commitment to nurturing the minds of all children who face an extended illness so they can walk confidently and optimistically through their journey as life long learners.