Enough Said

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Too many Mamas buried their babies this summer.  From the 49 souls that tragically lost their lives in an Orlando nightclub, to the little two year old boy who was innocently wading in the waters off a Disney World hotel, to a rising singer who was graciously meeting with fans after her concert, the list just goes on and on. It’s too much to even bear. As a mother, I want to gather my children together and never let them leave my sight. Delusional I know. It’s hard enough to get them to sit around the dinner table when we find ourselves in the same city.

Ironically, each of these horrific events occurred in places that were considered safe. I imagine, as any mother would, if my son or daughter told me they were headed out for a night of dancing with friends, my response would be:

“Have fun!”

With my toddler splashing in the water outside a prominent and popular theme park, I imagine would be standing inches away and saying:

“Have fun!”

If my child was performing before some of her biggest fans,  I imagine I would call just before the concert and say:

“Have fun!”

There cannot be anything worse than losing a child, and the simple fact that all of these victims were doing everything right, having fun like they should be, makes this tragedy even more incomprehensible, especially for the parents who faced the unimaginable task of planning a funeral.

Weeks later, I still wonder why I have trouble getting all of these events out of my mind until it dawned on me this hit too close to home.  When my son was three he played in those same Florida waters where we now know alligators roam.  I can assure you there were no signs, and we didn’t think a thing about it as he knelt down and splashed his chubby little hands in the water. And how many of us have children who go out to nightclubs? If you don’t, believe me, one day you will. And the “Meet and Greet” where Christina Grimme reached out to hug what turned out to be a deranged fan?  My 24 year old daughter works in the entertainment industry and she manages well known clients who must attend these same functions. She goes as well.

This is probably where I should talk about “live each day with passion,” or maybe something like “focus on the positive,” or the one I really loathe, “worry robs you of today.” But I am instead thinking of what author Stephen King has said:  “There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her children.” And while I worry whenever one of my children hops behind the wheel of the car, I find that I’m just as anxious whenever they go to the movies, attend classes or even a concert. Paranoid? Probably. But with every good reason.

After the San Bernardino massacre, The New York Times  published an article where they asked the following:

How often, if ever do you think about the possibility of a shooting in your daily life?”

Thank God I’m not alone. Over 5,000 readers wrote to tell about their apprehension at being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it’s no longer just finding yourself on a dark street corner in a bad part of town with a blown out tire. It’s going about your business on an average, simple day. No longer are we saying, “It can’t happen here,” because it DOES happen here.

Now, I feel obligated to tell my children to scope out an exit if they are in a crowded place. Then I remind them to “have fun.”

I warn them if they find themselves in a closed-in space, like a subway, train, or classroom, to spot a place and hide if they sense danger.

Am I hyper sensitized? Apparently.  I’ve been told by each of my children that I worry too much. It’s true. I’m the designated worrier in our home. And it’s exhausting. According to my own mother, it only gets worse. Even my father looked at me after I arrived home from the hospital with my first born and said: “Congratulations. You will never have a good night’s sleep again as long as you live.”

To those grieving parents, I truly think about you every day.

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Be Brave: I Love A Badass….

WARNING!  This article contains foul language.  Well actually, it contains one apparently “inappropriate” word: Badass.

This is according to my mother.

When I told her the title of this particular blog, there was silence on the other end of the phone.  A few brief moments later she replied:  “That word is not very ladylike.” She then wondered if I would be interested in changing “badass” to perhaps the following:

Bad Mama

Awesomeness

A Force to be Reckoned With

Sparkplug

Rebel

Awe Inspiring

You get it.  But because my mother is perfection to me, I do take her comments seriously. Yet there is just something about the word “badass” that feels, well, badass. My current book obsession may have something to do with this. How To Be A Badass, by Jen Sincere, has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for weeks, maybe even months now.  While Sincere focuses on a variety of topics to help release your “badassery,” the overall theme is, and I quote:

“It’s about having the cojones to show up as the brightest, happiest, baddest version of yourself, whatever that looks like to you.”

This very fun book read goes on to describe how determination, trust, and vision, all wrapped up with an unshakable belief in yourself, can dramatically improve your life and work.  It adds that living in fear is a habit we have grown all too familiar with, simply because we have heard the word “no” so often throughout our lives. Therefore, as a result, we are hesitant to take risks. Fear, along with seeking approval and perfection, are the biggest thieves we inherit and often prevents us from daring to do what we desire.

This makes so much sense.  In other words, we are accustomed to finding an existence that is based on comfort, but yet, in reality, “comfort” can be our worst enemy. It stops us from challenging ourselves, seeking new experiences and even friendships. The problem with being too relaxed, is that we stop being motivated.

Which is why I love me a badass.

As I attempt to move it up a notch or three in my attempts to let go of the “comfortable” and discover the inspiring, I need to confess right here and now that this has been no easy feat.  I like a comfortable bed, comfortable paycheck, not to mention a big ole plate of comfort food. I thrive on a schedule, and any attempt to disrupt my normal activity is almost always met with resistance.  But, as the old saying goes:

“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

However, I am also so fortunate. When I went away to college, the first person in my family to do so, my parents gave me their full support despite my father’s last words to me as I piled into my bright orange VW Bug: “I’m not paying for a four year party.”  Or my mother whispering in my ear, “You never know when we are going to show up.”  Talk about fear.

When I moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating, despite no job and just enough money to survive for three months, my mother said: “Go for it.” I’ve had mentors that pushed me, and a husband that has embraced everything I pursued, especially when I told him I wanted to write a blog and his reaction was, well maybe a forced smile.

Which brings me to the point of this story. Many times throughout my week, I come across an inspiring person that truly moves me.  More than likely, this is someone who has stepped outside the box and confronted a challenge that was paralyzing, eye-opening and everything in between.  Maybe this is a man or woman who has been overwhelmed with setback after setback, yet comes back fighting. Whatever the reason, whatever the motivation, a badass doesn’t give up. A badass isn’t afraid to try. A badass doesn’t quit the game when it gets tough, or the opponent plays rough.

This is why  I’m inaugurating my “Badass of the Week.”

Meet Norma.  At 90 years old, she is experiencing the adventure of a lifetime. She lost her husband of 67 years and two days later diagnosed with uterine cancer. With the doctors insisting on operating immediately, followed by chemotherapy, radiation, then recuperating in nursing home, Norma’s son and his wife instead invited her to join them on the road, in their motor home, where they were happily spending their retirement years.  According to their Facebook page, Driving Miss Daisy, Norma, upon receiving this offer, looked at her doctor and said:

“I’m hitting the road.”

That simple sentence she now says, has given her a new lease on life. Traveling over 7,000 miles to date, Norma has visited the presidents at Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful at Yellowstone, taken in the views at the Grand Canyon, traveled in a hot air balloon in Florida, visited the space shuttle and put her toes in the ocean.  Interviewed by the Today Show, her son says that she is “living a life and not in an end-of-life mentality.” This experience, he also says, has allowed mother and son to enjoy long conversations and much laughter, all one of a kind memories that never would have happened if she didn’t say:

“I’m hitting the road.”

So sorry Mom for the bad word, but Norma, you are a badass.

Checkout:  Driving Miss Norma on Facebook.

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Being Brave: Sometimes You Need To Let The Morons Have It

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In my quest for embarking on a year where I embrace bravery, one of the subjects that has become increasingly clear, is that at times it is necessary to acknowledge those relationships that simply don’t work anymore. Once in a while you encounter that one single person that makes you forget about manners, ethics and the Golden Rule. What may have worked at one time, doesn’t mean it always will. Things change, life takes a turn, and suddenly letting go is the only healthy solution that is necessary in order to move forward.

This month, for the first time in my five plus year career of freelancing, I fired a client.  I took a deep breath, allowed my  political correctness to take a time out, and admitted to myself that this particular person was a complete and utter moron. I dropped kicked this nasty guy and told him to lose my number.

When is it appropriate to let these idiots have it? Should we simply move on and ignore their childlike behavior?  I don’t enjoy confrontation. In fact, I am always over the top friendly, and can manage most any type of personality, but I trust my radar. And the one time I didn’t follow it, I paid the price. Four months ago, I accepted a writing job from this now ex client despite the bells and whistles that rang through my head when he begged for a rush job writing content for his website.  Despite every warning signal, I accepted, and spent a holiday weekend creating one-of-a-kind copy, then emailing the completed work ahead of schedule for his review.

I won’t go into the nitty gritty, but something about a client going AWOL, not paying his bill, yet publishing your written word on their website, isn’t cool and rubbed me the wrong way. Go figure. When a third party had to be involved, his overdue check finally arrived. Once the funds were safely deposited in my bank account, I did something that only a mother whose child is being bullied on the playground can understand: I let the moron have it when he called and demanded a complete rewrite on the already published content. Sometimes, being brave means standing up for yourself.  It knows when to let certain matters go, and when to clobber the fool.

As a freelance writer, I have an amazing success rate with clients.  I bend over backwards to accommodate those loyal customers who need something  as soon as possible,  Emergencies happen and last minute requests are the norm in this business.  But rude, obnoxious, and threatening behavior, especially from those that want something for nothing, should never be tolerated.  My new motto:  Get out.  Cut the cord.  Slam the door.

Don’t tolerate conduct from anyone that you wouldn’t allow from a toddler. The louder they scream, shut them down.  You are better than this.  Being brave means rising up to be the best version of yourself you can be, and not letting small minded, greedy and selfish people overtake your space.  The minute I walked away from this particular creep, I felt the overwhelming weight, which had plagued me for several weeks, suddenly disappear.  It was gone just like that.  There was no second guessing, no obsessing if I shot myself in the foot, no regret.  I was no longer going to work for this so called gentleman, and it simply wasn’t a matter of discussion anymore.

Then you let it go, forget about it, and carry on. 

 

 

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Being Brave: Reconnecting

Love this new bracelet that I received in the mail from my sweet mother. A daily reminder for me!
Love this new bracelet I received in the mail from my sweet mother. A daily reminder for me!

I must say that January was a very big month for me. In 31 days I became reacquainted with three long lost friends over walks, coffee and yoga. I hiked trails that once intimidated me, including one with a sign warning of snakes. I tried different foods such as raw oysters, and eel. My hairdresser happily chopped seven inches off of my hair, and I joined both writing and book clubs. I celebrated other adventures, though some were very simple, like walking over and initiating conversation with a neighbor I didn’t really know.  The point is this: Every day, I did something different, whether driving a new route on my errands, or simply picking an outrageous nail color for my pedicure.

Yet for me, January was all about reconnecting.  I am a freelance writer who works every day for a variety of clients, so my days require solitude.  At the last minute I can get an email asking for an article on current real estate issues affecting commercial development, or writing about the top ten free destinations in Las Vegas.  Every day is different.  Between being diagnosed with an illness a few years ago and creating my small little business, I’ve had some challenging days.  Too much in fact.  This is why January was so exciting, and truly feels like an accomplishment.  Putting it all out here on this site makes me uneasy, but it holds me accountable on those days where I just want to stay put.

What did last month teach me?

That I’m having fun. I’m making time for myself without too much thought if I’m neglecting anyone else.  Liberating? You bet. I now almost always say “yes” when before, I would automatically utter “no” if asked to step outside of my comfort zone, and surprisingly, this hasn’t been hard at all.

Not. One. Bit.

Nothing that I have attempted has been disappointing, even the raw eel, because taking risks, whether large or small last month,  has made my life much more interesting.  In other words, it’s okay to do something that may make you feel stupid. I was totally prepared to spit out the raw eel, or gag in front of friends and family when I swallowed the slithery oster. The pictures everyone took aren’t pretty, but failure can happen. Everyone makes mistakes yet as long as you find yourself challenged when trying something new, what can really go wrong? As the New Year approached, I wasn’t willing to allow things to stay the same with my fairly stable and safe life.  After all, when there is no real risk, there is no reward.

Speaking of the New Year, here is a great book that I devoured over the holidays, and was just the perfect inspiration I needed to begin 2016. It also proved to me, once again, that no matter where you are in life, whether you have money or not, it doesn’t mean everything is peachy.  Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator/writer/executive producer Shonda Rhimes appeared to have it all, yet in her book, Year of Yes, she describes being an introvert,  shying away from any sort of attention as her fame grew.  When her older sister muttered to her one day, “you never say yes to anything,” Shonda suddenly realized that by saying “no” she was preventing herself from doing anything that could possibly make her happy. Therefore, she made a declaration to say “yes” to anything that scared her for an entire year.  Her transformation is amazing, both physically and emotionally.

February is all about food. I’m mixing it up, living a vegan lifestyle for a bit, (Is wine vegan? It better be), experimenting with juicing, cooking new menus with intimidating recipes, straying from our usual, favorite restaurants and trying new ethnic eatries that I’ve always wondered about. In fact, I saw this message below, which made my “brave” selection for this month so easy:

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Bon Appetit!

 

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Be Brave. Show Up.

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Sometimes being brave means simply showing up. Whether it’s about putting aside differences or confronting the unknown, being accountable often takes guts. Accepting ownership is not always for the weak of heart but it undoubtedly is the courageous thing to do.

In the few short weeks I have been doing my little experiment, I have discovered there are all types of brave acts. It simply depends on the person. For some, it may mean getting out of bed in the morning, being uncertain, perhaps fearful, of what the day holds. For others, it’s standing up and sharing a story, opinions or thoughts. Maybe an act of bravery is trying something for the first time, putting pen to paper or dancing and singing out loud. It could mean saying “I don’t know,” or “I love you,” or even protecting someone that is being picked on. Perhaps it’s about releasing past mistakes, asking for forgiveness and setting new boundaries. But I will reiterate. I think bravery is about showing up.

Which brings me to rattlesnakes.

I don’t like them.

In our neighborhood, there is a large mountain, okay hill, that has signs along the paths warning of rattlesnakes. Apparently  plenty of horned lizards, whatever the heck they are, make their home here as well. Just the thought of one running over my Nike’s sends me in a panic attack unlike anything anyone has ever seen. Therefore, I never had any desire whatsoever to climb to the summit of this imposing lump of dirt.

But of course, I did. That’s what this year is all about. This past week, I ventured out, pushing aside my fears, but not before googling “what to do if bitten by rattlesnake,” and making sure I knew of my exact location in case a call to 911 was needed.

Off I went, walking straight uphill for over one mile, huffing and puffing,while spotting lots of snake holes, and doing my best to keep focused on the reward: the peak, the views, and relishing in the glory of accomplishing something that intimidated me.

A short 20 minutes later, I made it. My feelings once I reached the top?

Eh.

I so wish I could tell you that I experienced a Rocky moment when Sly Stallone reached the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and high fived the entire world. But I was thinking about food since I was so hungry. I also worried about the walk back to the car, as I knew most injuries occur when climbers scaled down a mountain, not up. And there were still those damn rattlesnakes and horned rimmed lizards to consider. While we took a different route back, and I swore I heard the loud purr of a mountain lion, thankfully, all was well once I reached the end of the trail. But truth be told, I wasn’t completely comfortable throughout the walk, I can’t even say I really enjoyed it. But I did it. Will I climb this peak again? Maybe. But I also have so much yet to do.

Also accomplished this week: serious meditation classes, gentle yoga, and reaching out to a long time friend. Also, confronting a client that needed a serious reprimand. More on that later.

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WOW.

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This brave thing takes a lot of thought, not to mention time.

First.  Let me tell you what I am discovering.

Perfection is ridiculous.

For too long I resisted writing in this blog if every comma wasn’t correct, my grammar wasn’t spot on or my thoughts were a little disjointed. Talk about pressure.  I then realized if I expected this from myself, what did I expect from others?

Wow.

It’s said you will never find your true self worth if you are seeking perfection. In order to keep my commitment this year about challenging myself, stepping out of my comfort zone, etc., I had to learn to stop expecting everything to be, well, perfect.

So here is where my Big Brave World Tour took me the past seven days.

Joined a Writing Club.  Yes.  I’m going to sit across from others, share our stories, take in their comments and basically try not to cry.

Joined a Book Club.  Yes, I’m doing a lot of “joining”, but I will be gathering with a group of women I do not know, at someone’s house I do not know, and hopefully all while enjoying the experience. Personally, I’m a homebody, but I have really missed my old book groups, so let’s give it a try. And I found a group where they enjoy wine, so it’s a win-win.

Walked two new trails: I try and walk as much as I can.  Thank God for California which makes this exercise not only easy, but thoroughly enjoyable.  While out and about, I noticed several trails that seemed interesting, but frankly, I didn’t know much about them, such as the distance, if they were safe, and dear God, if it was rattlesnake mating season.  Anyway, I said the heck with it,  marched along and discovered some amazing sites, some with a clear ocean view.

Yoga/Meditation: In a few short hours I will be sitting with a yoga instructor (who happens to be a personal friend), in her own home studio, learning gentle yoga and meditation.  I’ve always said “no” when asked to do this before, not because I wasn’t interested, but rather I needed my body to heal from my PMR (When Life Throughs You A Curveball).  Well, my body is about as healed as its going to get, so no more excuses.

Coming up this week:  I’m doing something unprofessional, but really, really needed, and I can because I’m my own boss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Brave For A Day!

Instead of writing daily about my new adventures, I will be posting weekly recaps with occasional stories in-between.  I do this so my journey doesn’t come across as obnoxious, but rather focus on my attempts to shake up a life that needed a little shaking up.

In the meantime, every year at this time I reread a wonderful book that never fails to speak to me in a new and thoughtful way: John Kralik’s “365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life.”  Recently divorced, living in a small, broken down apartment, his law firm failing and his relationships with his adult children distant, Kralik decides to write a daily thank you note for the next year to an unsuspecting person, friend, or family member. As the year moves along, his life is dramatically changed in ways he never expected.  I won’t do any spoilers, but this is simply a remarkable read. Now for $2.99 on Kindle, or the hardback at less than $10 at Amazon, this is a wonderful gift to yourself.

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Be Brave For A Day #3 – Here we go!

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Within three minutes of pressing “publish” on yesterday’s blog, I received an anxious text from my middle child.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” she asked.

Not thinking of my post, I replied I was doing some cleaning around the house. I didn’t want to tell her that after having everyone home for the holidays, a dumpster, and heavy duty cleaning equipment was required.

“No! What are you doing tomorrow to be brave? You wrote you were doing something you have wanted to do for years!”

Oh. That.

I quickly texted her back my plans, and she submitted her approval.  A few moments later I received another text.  This one from my father.  It read:

“Your mother forwarded your latest article to me. Outstanding.  Glad you tried, and liked the oyster.  Just be careful with some of your new adventures as you are very important to us. 143.” 

It was then I realized that perhaps I needed to make clear to those that worry about me what this year will NOT entail.  I’m all for stepping out of my comfort zone, since this is what my 2016 is all about. However, I’m not stupid.

I will not be doing the following within the next 365 days:

  • Bungee jumping: I have vertigo that occasionally creeps up on me.  No way is this happening.
  • Eating a live insect: Listen, if I’m in a foreign country and the sought after delicacy is moving and breathing, I will try it.  But I’m not going to my backyard, digging up a worm, dipping it in Sriracha, and gulping it down. That’s not brave.  That’s gross.
  • Scuba diving: The thought of swimming a zillion feet underwater supporting a limited amount of air supply on my back literally freaks me out. No can do. And I’m not all that interested in what’s down there.
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Reading “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed was enough for me thankyouverymuch.
  • Taking flying lessons: It takes a Xanax or three, not to mention red wine, to get me on a commercial flight.
  • Going in a shark cage:  Read scuba diving above.

So the point is, while I’m trying all new adventures, and some may very well frighten me, maybe make me pause a bit, it’s all in a good way. This statement also serves as a notice to my life insurance company that I am of sound mind.

Which brings me to my big brave moment today.  Again, this is something I have wanted to tackle for a very long time, but instead, I gave every excuse in the book for not following through.

  • “I’m not ready”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “I’m not good enough”

Today, I signed up for a monthly writing class/group. It starts this month.

It’s time to do this.

 

 

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Be Brave For A Day #2: Let Go Of The Negative

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Let me start by saying that the last thing I want this adventure of mine to be is “preachy preachy.” That’s really not me.  Well, unless you ask my children or husband.  And probably my sister, brother and perhaps parents. Apparently,  I can be that and more. But as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have been thinking about 2016 for several months.  I asked myself over and over again:

What changes do I want to make?

What is necessary for me to move forward?  

How can I make it happen? 

Will I look like an idiot?

Behind every question was not an immediate answer, but rather even more difficult questions that were troubling to solve:

What will people think?

What will they say?

What if I fail?

But I can’t say it any better than author Brene Brown who sums it all up perfectly with this response:

“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think? Or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?”

So on Day #2 of my “Be Brave for a Day” world tour, I vow to embrace the total fear I have struggled with for the past several weeks when developing my theme for 2016 and putting it out for the world to see. Letting go of what people think is a small price to pay and a more desirable alternative than ignoring where your true passion and creativity takes you. Chances are we are our own worst enemy.  Our doubts, fears, struggles are usually self imposed.  So, I’m done worrying about it.  Not taking a risk for fear of being diminished means we live for others, not our true selves.

So my bad ass, bravery vow for today is: Ignore those critics and move forward. No matter what your passion, just do your best Beyonce strut and hair twirl and move on. Is this a brave thing to do? Say hell to the yes.

Tomorrow….I am doing something I have wanted to do for the last several years, but just didn’t have the courage.

 

 

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Be Brave For A Day……

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Brave.  Not a word you would normally use to describe me, at least within the past couple of years.  Not that I lack adventure, but in my day-to-day world, I live a fairly secluded life.  As a freelance writer, I spend every work day at my computer creating articles, press releases, website materials and a variety of other content for my clients who live all over the United States.  It’s fun, I enjoy it, and every year it gets better. But 2016 is going to be different. For me. Personally.

It’s time to be a Bad Ass. Emphasis on the capital B and capital A.

In a few short months, I’m turning an age where I may, just may, be able to order from the senior menu at most franchise restaurants.  AARP has been hounding my mailbox for far too long, and I now consider browsing for new clothes at Talbots and Chicos.  In otherwords, it’s time to kick it up a notch.

Quite a while ago, I decided that 2016 was going to be a far different year for me.  Not only am I seeking arm and leg defination, and a better anti aging cream, I am determined to step outside of my comfort zone.  And not just every once in a while, but every single day. That’s right, every day I’m challenging myself.  Every. Single. Day.

Which requires the thought:  What makes one brave? For me, the answer can be complex, yet also simple.  Bravery can mean balancing my checking account after my college child has visited over the holidays.  It can also mean tasting a food that I would normally never consider or swimming in the deep ocean waters where I have no idea what’s underneath me. It means stepping outside my comfort zone. Every. Single. Day.

Today, is January 1.  In preparation for this New Year, I cut seven inches off my hair, as spending time in front of the mirror with a blow dryer truly bugs me.  Yesterday, as I sat with my dad at his favorite seafood restaurant, I finally joined him and ate a raw, slimy, slithery  oster smothered in horseradish and cocktail sauce  (It was delicious. Why had I never tried them before?). Today, I hiked with my family, climbed a cliff, while forcing myself not to look down (hey, small steps).  It was exhilarating.

Every day I will be adding something to this blog.  I hope you join me, and see what I am trying to discover. They say that writing and sharing your thoughts is like standing up before a crowd in just your underwear.  Bravery 101.

Welcome to my 2016.  Welcome to my badassery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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