Since I moved out at age 17, I’ve owned roughly 15 cats and three dogs (there were two other dogs that lived with us temporarily but ended up at other homes). Every cat was a stray that I rescued (except the very first one, Spike, I adopted from a shelter as a kitten). My first dog, Misty, was adopted as a puppy from a home (so not a stray) and our second dog, the famous Bubba, Best Dog Ever™, I found running in a terrible neighborhood nearly starved to death (my vet said he had less than a week to live, and wasn’t sure we’d be able to save him but we did and had him for a glorious ten years). Cannie Belle – named Cannon at the shelter, shortened to Cannie by her foster mom, with Belle added by Tori – we adopted from our local animal shelter after Bubba died (we tried to adopt another dog before Cannie named Tank, but he tried to attack both Tori and Charlie and was eventually adopted to another family through his shelter). She’s a great dog, supremely tolerant of Tori and her friends, super cuddly, and has a blast hiking with us. As we enter spring and summer, it’s puppy and kitten season. If you’re thinking of adopting a new member of your family, I hope you’ll choose your local shelter instead of a pet store or breeder. And just to make you feel even more guilty, watch the adorable video below.
“What’s important to you? What’s going to feed your family, what’s going to further your career? The fact you have 20 more people on twitter or the fact you have a new client and you can go to the bank?” – Lynette Young (from this)
I got the writing bug early, writing my first poem when I was five. It was an acrostic poem using the word “mountain” and was a love poem to the Sandía Mountains just east of Albuquerque where I grew up. Sandía means “watermelon” in Spanish; those particular mountains turn a gorgeous pink color when the sun sets. They were the backdrop of my childhood so of course they starred in my first bit of writing.
When I was twelve I wrote an essay about how I wanted to be remembered. I spoke at length in the essay about how I wanted to be someone who was a leader, someone who spoke to crowds of people and helped them (although I included a line about how I was “no Martin Luther King, Jr.” so I guess I had a drop of humility back then). I also spoke about how I wanted to be a writer, and have my words make people feel something. Blogging, it turns out, gave me all of that. People tell me all the time that my writing affects them (in both good and bad ways), and because of blogging I’ve had to opportunity to be a speaker all over the country at conferences and events.
Lynette’s quote is EXACTLY where I find myself these days (Lynette has become one of my closest friends and a rather unwitting mentor). I’m no longer chasing internet “fame” – much like I gave up being a poet a decade ago. Because unpaid speaking gigs and free shit in the mail hasn’t paid my bills. You can’t buy groceries with social media influence. You know what does pay the bills? The clients I work for that no one knows about because my name does not appear on the work. Just like everyone else in the world that does a job, quietly and effectively, without requiring a blast of trumpets to celebrate the achievement of just doing the goddamned job.
It was pretty cool to be a big fish in a small pond for a while, and often I let it go to my head. I found myself all too often saying, “How can you help me?” instead of “How can I help you?” Guess what I’ve learned? I get a lot more clients when I say, “How can I help you?”
I am still doing some public facing work: obviously I’m still blogging here, and I’m continuing to write for Babble because I do enjoy writing about tech and social media and getting paid for it. But I’m only attending a couple of conferences this year, and not as a speaker. I’m concentrating a lot more on local events where I have the opportunity to network without the expense of traveling, and looking at maybe attending a couple of conferences outside of the blogging space in 2015 if my budget permits.
It might seem like this decision is sudden, but it’s actually been a slow evolution over the last couple of years. And I’m not saying I’m not proud of the work I’ve done in the past, or the speaking opportunities that were so graciously given to me. I’ve loved everything I’ve learned over the last few years, and traveling so much helped me gain a sense of self separate from the overwhelming feeling of being “Mommy” that happens after you become a mom. I’ve been very, very lucky.
But these days it’s time to just go do the work. There’s happiness in that too, even if it doesn’t come with applause.
I’m sitting in my office with the windows open. I’m wearing a short sleeved shirt and dug out my trusty soft cotton skort that has seen better days for sure but is so damned comfortable I can’t resist wearing it. The sun is shining, the kitten (well, she’s nearly a year old now, so not really a kitten so much these days) is sitting by the open window making those adorable little cat chirps at all the birds hanging out in the holly tree outside my office window. I’m drinking some sort of crazy green juice mix that has a lovely balance of mild sweetness with a touch of spice from the ginger.
It’s impossible to be in a bad mood on a day like today.
Thanks to increased exercise I’m feeling better too; getting out to the woods a couple times a week not only helps me center into my body but also helps me spiritually and emotionally. Last week Tori and I took the dog out for a hike, just the two of us, and as we walked we talked about many different things. I was struck once again by the amazing little person Tori is turning into. She told me several times during the hike that “today is the best day ever because I’m spending it with you!”
It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when your daughter is awesome.
Charlie and I have begun to plan, seriously, for moving sometime this summer. We know where we want to move – an area of Philly called West Philly/University City – because it’s halfway between my mom’s place and Tori’s school. It will save us tons of commuting time and will also allow us much better access to public transportation if we choose. While we’ve been discussing moving for a long time, it finally felt like reality to Tori and she had some tough feelings about it. Luckily, I took her to Ikea to buy her a desk for her room and we talked about what we could do in a new room for her and she got excited about moving. Though she will miss having a nice front yard.
It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you are finally planning for something you’ve wanted to do forever.
Tonight is my recovery meeting and I’m really looking forward to it. Tori calls today “Wonderful Wednesday” because she gets to hang out at her best friend’s house for a playdate while Charlie and I are at our meeting. I see a direct correlation between my working harder at sobriety and my willingness to let things go. It is so much easier to not pick up the gauntlets thrown my way now.
It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you feel grounded.
It’s a good day out there, folks. I hope you are enjoying it to. There’s not really much point to this post, but I don’t write here often enough when I’m happy. So I’m off to spend my day in this good mood.