Talking to Strangers: BlogHer 2013 Discovering a New Inner Beauty

My husband barely stopped the car as I jumped out of the it at American Airlines terminal three.  I could hardly stand to surprise her by meeting her to help her with her bags.  I really couldn’t stand waiting to hug her and see her for real…in real life…standing in front of me!  I walked through the electric doors and scanned the baggage claim for baggage claim nine.  There it was.  There she was.  Jeans, long hair and a cute top.  Was that her? Should I sneak up behind her and squeeze her, because did I say I could hardly stand the wait.  What if it wasn’t her?  Also, do I really want to freak her out, the woman is going to spend four days in a hotel room with me.  I walked toward her and just as I was deciding to or not to surprise her from behind I turned to the right and spied a striking red haired, caribbean sea blue eyed beauty… GEEEEEEEE! KIM! KIM! {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} I had finally, finally after two years (or is it three…I lost count) of getting to know her, learning from her, admiring her strength and growing with her during her blog facelift journey and then texting and FaceTime friendship…my goodness I was finally meeting her!!!!

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From that moment on two woman with a love for talking without waiting for a breath were each others wing woman, cheerleaders, the uhuh in each others extroverted problem solving session.   Our days at BlogHer were part local foods and enjoying local beer, part attending inspiring, go for it, dream big, take big risks sessions and part napping (seriously after amazing days and night of parties parties, then talking until 1 AM…2 AM…talking until we can’t stay awake anymore it’s exhausting!)

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Putting the finishing touches on my eye liner I stopped to make sure my line was smooth and a reflection caught my attention. The sparkle of my favorite sparkle top I wore. I smiled.  I added the finishing touches to my eyeliner and put on my lipstick. I stepped back to take a look at myself and smiled again. I was ready for a fashion show.  I sat on my bed as Kim finished blow drying her hair.  This was our last night of BlogHer and still, even after all that we had done and learned together I had no idea the biggest lessons I would learn at BlogHer would come at the Fashion Show and the simplest words.

Decked out in our sparkle tops, our favorite pants and heels as high as we could stand for the night (trying to wear cute, trendy foot wear and stand all night… it hurts! Bad!) We sat four rows back,  giddy about our good seats and about the fashion show.  In between my spew of the random shhtuff I know (long story…I’ll explain later) about bloggers we saw, tweets, giggles,  Kim’s night at the Roxbury sideways head bobs to the music playing and one of my hundreds of  “You know Kim…I think I…”  she leaned toward me, smiled and whispered softly looking me right in the eyes, “It’s always been there. You just believe it now.”

Days of learning to hold my head high and my shoulders back…

Days of learning (forcing myself) to make eye contact with strangers and smile…

Days of taking deep breaths and having conversations (wonderful ones…yes, another story) with strangers and not puking or dying in in nerves or failure…

Days of working on owning who I was and what made me me…

Days of talking to her non-stop (shut up! I told you I talked a lot but seriously Kim did a damn good job of keeping up… that girl can talk too!!!) being embraced for all of me…

…allowed me to finally truly love me and all the beauty I have inside.

So as I adjust to real life again and my BlogHer hangover has passed I find that ! have changed.  I carry myself differently.  My shoulder go back a little more when I walk,  I make eye contact and smile at strangers and friends more then before,  instead of shying away from conversations I jump in knowing I have something to offer and I walk a little taller.

All because a friend reminded me that “it” was always there!

Guest Post: Gfunkified Great Expectations

Greta Funk is a self described mom of four tornadoes living a glamorous life on the Kansas Prairie.  I first “met” the beautiful and spunky Greta through Instagram.  We got to know each other through each others pictures.  As time went on…a comment here, a comment there, add a little spunky sass (she can dish it, I can take it…I love to dish it she can give it back) and a new friendship began.

So when Greta asked me to guest post for her weekly Great Expectations she got a absolutely hell yes!

Today I am over at Greta’s place Gfunkified.  I am sharing my story about an expectation I had in life and how it actually turned out.  It is a moment I am certain all woman in relationships can relate to.

Abby and Her Key

I have been truly blessed by the people I have met blogging and tweeting. If you’ve known me long enough you know that when I first started blogging I was certain I was going to get stalked or my kids would get kidnapped if I shared too much about the real me.  I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined the wonderful friendships that would be formed.

I don’t remember the first time I “talked”.   I say talked but it really is tweeted with Abby or maybe I read one of her posts ( first and then tweeted with her… I guess I really don’t remember the first time I talked to her!   The first post I remember reading of Abby’s involved an bon fire, her brother, her mom and dad and a tree.

My cheeks hurt from smiling, my side ached from laughing but most of all I was left in awwww.  I was in awww of the fantastic family she had, the love they had for each other and how the hell they could all get each other in such a state.  Most of all I was in awwww of Abby’s ability to bring that moment to life in drawings,  her ability to embrace the hystericalness of it all and her comfort with putting it out there.

To say the least I was hooked!!

Each week I waited for the latest Abby post. What would she do next?!   What crazy fun perspective would she bring to life?  I couldn’t wait to see!

One average Saturday.  Well,  average if you call running from ballet recital to a princess party average.  I was sitting at the princess party, stuck because my daughter was a bit nervous and she really wanted me to stay, but oh my lordy was I board.  I sent out a tweet proclaiming by princess party boredom.  The moment that she tweeted back a sassy, giddy, excited totally Abby reply was the moment  Abby went from being a stranger and an absolutely cherished friendship began.  That and a very princess princess party of our own was had!

The more I chatted and got to know Abby, the more we started writing posts together.

Her enthusiasm,  creative perspective on life and discoverer of all things hilarity started to rub off on me!  Creating became more than writing a memoirs.  It became putting beautiful words together with stunning pictures.

It became finding the funny in the everyday and adding the sexy.

Then it became me picking up a pen and tapping into my long forgotten drawing skill…

note to reader…If you’re wondering what is up with all the Donnie Walhberg.  Yeah… that’s Abby.  She likes him just a smidge!!!

Then it happen.  Last week,  I sat at my desk at work,  writing a welcome back post to my parents.  I suddenly found myself adding more fun to it.  I found myself bringing in the funny.  It was a day I will never forget.  It was the day I knew I could never thank Abby enough.  Throughout all of this,  throughout the silliness, the photo shopped pictures and the drawings Abby did something.  She unlocked something deep inside of me.  Creating posts and teaming up with her pulled something out of me that had long been buried away.   Sure I knew I was a relatively creative person.  I knew I could draw OK.  I had a pretty good eye for making things.  Suddenly it was like I was given permission to pull out a long hidden skill.  Abby unlocked this amazingness inside of me.  She showed me it was OK to bring out the fun.  It was OK for me to draw (and actually show my drawings to other people) and push my creative limits.  She showed me that it’s fun to grab up all the silly life brings you and put my own twist on it.  Most of all she taught me it is totally OK for me to love being me,  for me to have fun being me and it was OK for me to look deep for long forgotten skills and create!  The moment I pushed the publish button of that classroom blog post I knew in that instant she had unlocked an energy, a fun, a zest and a creative freedom I had long forgotten.  For that, I am more grateful than she will ever know because she unlocked my fun!




Genius, Giggles and Jets

An hour and a half drive. Four hours swimming. Carrying a double ride figure-eight tube up a three-story wooden stair case more times then I can count. Trips down the slides. Rides on the lazy river.  Exhausted after a fantastic day, we were finally settled back in the hotel room.

Screeches filled the two-story loft style hotel room we were staying in (beyond a treat for us) as the four girls whirl around discovering each part of it.  Walking into the main floor bathroom I discovered the two person, a small child could swim in, jacuzzi whirlpool tub in the bathroom.

“Let’s fill it up. The girls can play in it while we wait for the pizza to get here.” Holly geniusly suggests.

With a deep relieved sigh of a mother with no more energy left, “Yes! That is a great idea.”

I didn’t waste second yelling, “GGGIIIIRRRLS come and see this tub! What until you see what it does!”

Giggles and laughter fill the hotel room as all four girls, ages 4-6 see the tub.  Their giddiness and happy giggles turn to screeches as they get in the tub together eager to continue their adventures and fun filled day.

Holly and my friendship started when we started teaching the same year, we were fresh, green, nieeve, brand spankin new teachers. Over the twelve years we shared a classroom (probably close to the most fun, collaborative, creative and one of the most rewarding times in my career). We collaborated, worked together on projects, shared duties, knew all of the kids on each others case loads, grew together as teachers and taught each other tricks and tools we still use today. She got married. I went to her wedding. We had babies six months apart…Twice.  We both had two girls. We hung out. We spent time together. We developed a great friendship. Over the twelve plus years we created the kind of friendship that you can go months without seeing each other and then the instant you see each other it is like no time has ever passed.  The kind of friendship that when our schedules finally allow us to find free time for each other, I talk her ear off and smile until my cheeks hurt and the time was never enough.

As screeches and loud giggles bounce around the bathroom walls. Holly and I waste no time catching up. We shared stories about our husband. We commiserated and reminded each other we are not the only one whose husband does this or that. We shared our fears about our daughters up coming school year. We catch up on gossip about work.

“Mommmmmyyyyyy!!!!! I think the tub is full enough now!” one of the girls shouts.

Holly and I walk into the bathroom to turn on the whirlpool jets.  Excitement ozzes out of our girls as they anticipate the excitement of this brand new experienced. With one firm push of a button the jets come to life.  Ear piercing giddy screams fill the room as the girls are surprised by the force of the jets and this newly discovered fun.  Smiling, Holly and I go back to the kitchen  to continue our chatting assured that the girls will be entertained for quite sometime.

“That was such a good idea putting them in the tub.” I say to Holly. “This will for sure keep them busy until the pizza gets here. I’m sure after all that swimming my girls are ravenous. This will keep their mind off of being hungry ”

“They are having so much fun,” she smiles.

Minutes pass…a half hour passes…  soon we begin to hear louder happier, giddier,  gigglier fun coming from the bathroom.

“I better go check on them,” Holly says raising her eyebrows, knowing that it is her turn to check.

As I pour more chips into the bowl we are snacking on I suddenly hear Holly say from the bathroom..

my attention to the perfect after swimming, before deep dish pizza, during mom and girl talk snack is suddenly interrupted as I laugh out loud, and fall over (seriously… I was on the floor) roaring in laughter and slapping the floor as tears stream down my eyes.  And as Holly walks out of the bathroom her I can’t believe I just said that out loud, no one ever told me that combination of words would ever leave my lips, did I just use vagina and jets in the same sentence straight face instantly erupted into uncontrollable laughter!



My Box of 8

A year and a half ago writing to me meant I was writing a report.  Sentences were a string of words put together with a subject and a predicate.  Writing was done simply to communicate.   My box of crayons was nothing but a box of 8.  Black, gray and white got the most use.

Then I started blogging (thank you Shirley).  Through link ups, twitter, getting to know other bloggers, writing for and with other blogger my writing started to change.  Writing was no longer to just communicate information.  It became about painting a picture.  I started to pick up a color or two here and there to add to my box.

I read, I watched, I learned and I started to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I started to write from places in my heart that had not been tuned into in too long.  I began to write about parts of my life and memories that hurt.  I began to heal.  Suddenly by box of colors began to overflow.  Each color gathered from giving a piece of myself to my writing,  healing parts of my heart that had been in pain or from crafting my voice.

New friends came into my life and suddenly my collection changed.  Each amazing person I meet and friend I made brought with them a color to share with me.  These are the most unique, dazzling and radiant colors of all.

Today I am a box of 8 overflowing with colors laying all over the desk.  Some of the crayons I have earned.  Some of them I have collected.  Some have been left as gifts.

As I sprinkle, color, and paint my words with these colors each time I write, I have a desk of crayons that I could not even have begun to imagine I’d ever possess.  Radiant colors, the ones that dazzle, primary colors are solid and reliable, earth tones that depth and layers and my black, white and gray create foundation and strength.  And what a collection it is!

What kind of box of crayons are you?

This piece was inspired by Kirsten from The Kir Corner:                                                                   Her space is one of my most favorite spaces to visit.  I visit frequently.  Her ability to weave and knit words together not only leave me amazed at her infinite talent but on more then one occasion have left me absolutely

Last week Kirsten at The Kir Corner wrote a post titled: I’m Every Color.  She shared a piece of an email a friend had written to her.inspired!  And if you are lucky enough to have her visit your space you are sue to be the recipient of the most amazingly sweet and touching comments.

I think of people as boxes of crayons. Most men/women  are a box of 8, 16 if they are lucky.  They couldn’t possibly conceive of ideas drawn by someone with a box with more crayons – they don’t have the palette.  I’m lucky – I may be a box of 64 with the built-in sharpener, but I married a designer.  He’s at least a box of 32! 

You, my beautiful girl, are a limited edition box of 128 with the built in drawing table and collectors case.  You can’t conceive of others not being able to understand what you see.

It was Kirsten’s awww and disbelief of her own box of crayons and the realization she came to at the end of her post that inspired this. I hope that it might inspire you to share what box of crayons you are too!