Social Good: The Opposite of Internet Trolling #Blogust

[Megan Thompson, Health Aide; Senator Dianne Feinstein, me, and fellow Shot@Life Champion Shannon Des Roches Rosa discussing malaria eradication in the Rayburn Office Bldg. Washington, D.C.]

I think for a lot of independent bloggers, we start out with a small idea we’re not sure anyone else will care about and through the generous nature of humanity we find ourselves connected to hundreds of thousands of like-minded (and not so like-minded) smart, passionate people. Maybe, like me you started you blog because you just wanted a place to archive weird stuff you found online. Maybe you started a blog because you were getting married or found out you were pregnant and wanted your friends and family to be to follow your journey from far away. Maybe you started a blog to get free samples. Whatever the impetus, I don’t think very many people start their blog with the idea that they will gain social influence or a attract a large audience.

But when it does, when you find yourself standing on a platform you never meant to build with a megaphone in your hand and the attention of more people than you could ever possibly fit in your home, there will inevitably be a moment where you step back and look at this thing you’ve created and think: “Okay…NOW what do I do with it?”

For me personally, and certainly for the amazing bloggers participating in #BLOGUST, the answer was clear and unwavering. Social good. This past March I had the honor of participating the Shot@Life Champions Summit in D.C. and it was undeniably a life altering experience and absolutely a milestone first for me. What this organization does, and the collaborative, innovative way in which they do it inspires me every day, and getting to actually stand beside the people running it and talk to our representatives directly about the issues we’re fighting for was revelatory for me in terms of how I want to use my life. Which is why I’m so excited have been invited to round up Blogust 14’s second week of posts for you. I hope you have a full cup of coffee because I’m hitting you with a pretty incredible bunch of reads. LET’S GO!

And then, before I knew it, I was on a different highway entirely.

Working Mom

My career has been a long strange trip so far, and it continues to be, in just the best kind of way. Yesterday I became a Parenting Editor at BuzzFeed. And Dee started Kindergarten (ish). So more to come. Lots to say, like always. But for now, I really just wanted to say hi, I’m in New York for a few days, the weather is weird here but I love it anyway. I’m insane with happiness (for once), and I can’t wait to share my new adventure with you guys.

And also thank you friends and lurkers, y’know for reading my blog and stuff. Without you guys visiting me here like you’re doing right now, not to mention encouraging me with your very existence, so many of the best things in my life may never have come to be. ::FIST BUMP::

Pain Management

EyeballWhen I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I was 23 years old. I have vivid memories of my first treatment with an acupuncturist — a middle aged man who quietly explained as he worked that he believed fibromyalgia often formed in people who didn’t speak about how they felt. At the time, I was baffled. I talked all the time. I was practically an open book. I laid perfectly still while this incredibly gentle man shuffled softly around the table, explaining the varying views on the illness, his sweet voice belying the force with which he laid in to each of the eleven diagnostic pressure points, causing my vision to go white from the sheer agony of the exam.

It’s definitely fibromyalgie. He told me, barely speaking above a whisper. It’s very sad. The pain comes from inside. You have to treat it both on the outside, and from within.

I didn’t really believe him, this tenured professor of acupuncture, this kind, brilliant, internationally schooled man. The searing pain in each pressure point he touched confirmed his diagnosis, but I couldn’t wrap my head around his notion that this discomfort I’d been having was a physical manifestation of emotional pain I’d ignored.

A decade later, I understand Dr. Li’s words much more clearly. Salves and pressure points and medication and needles can alleviate the pain when it comes, but the more honestly I accept my own feelings, the more I let the bad feelings flow through me as easily as the good, the fewer flare ups I face. 

To Lie Or Not To Lie About Botox

Nearly a year ago, a local plastic surgeon offered me essentially any medi-spa service I could dream of gratis, simply in exchange for writing about the experience. A pretty good deal, no doubt, but a seriously intimidating one for a woman who had never considered fillers as anything but a punchline. I came home to my husband and gently broached the subject.

“It was so crazy — they said they’d do anything I wanted. Botox, fillers, all that stuff … “ I told him tentatively, just putting it out there, crossing my fingers he’d respond with indifference. He didn’t.


Nothing is Neat

photo-40My best friend’s neighbor is dying. By the time you read this, likely, he’ll be gone. This boy is only twelve years old. Twelve. His loss is such a profound injustice to his family and friends and the natural order of things. My heart breaks each and every time I think of him and his parents.  I have never met this boy or his family, but losing a child is a parents’ very worst nightmare and this is now their reality.  

My own reality, as of late, has been so much more mundane.  We have been living through the addition of a master suite. Our house is considered homey/cozy/really small and was a two-bed one-bath home to our family of four and two dogs.  Soon, our kids will have their own room, the dogs will have a safe haven from the kids, and the mad scramble for one toilet, is, thankfully, (sort of) over. 

We decided to stick it out and brave through the construction, naively thinking it can’t be that bad. It can. Every day I pack up the kids and the dogs and a pack n play and snacks and extra clothing and we move out for the day.  We come back home just in time to unpack everyone, make dinner, have bath time, stories, bed, then make dinner for me and my husband. The other day I couldn’t even remember the last time I showered. I knew I had (I hope I had) but couldn’t pinpoint exactly when.  

Our house is covered in layers of dust and debris. The refrigerator is empty, my toddler has decided now is the time to start potty training, so pee, all the time and everywhere, is part of my daily repertoire. The contents of various rooms and closets are strewn all over the house. Literally there is stuff everywhere in places they don’t belong, stacked high and wide. My bathroom is mildly disgusting, bills may or not be getting paid and lunches are mostly being made although I can’t say I haven’t forgotten once or twice. No one is sleeping well and the kids have taken to singing, “shake your booty! Shake your booty!” until almost 9 o’clock (they are 2 and 4.5). On another night recently at about 1am, every one of us simultaneously screamed and/or cried.  

I am feeling unkempt and discombobulated and deficient in every way; trying to find and order tiles and a toilet and flooring and making decisions as to where an outlet should lie and wipe snotty noses and remember to eat and clean up pee and get the kids to all the places they need to go and be a good wife and mother and have completely lost what it means to be good to me. And all the while, in all the chaos and self-pity a little boy is dying just a few miles away.  

I think of him and hold my healthy kids closer and breath a little deeper at how fortunate we are and my first-world problems seem… absurd. But then again, I am still feeling lost and depressed and unable to enjoy this all-for-the-greater-good madness. And so nearby, a small life is about to let go and a whole tribe of people are forced to say goodbye. I am feeling displaced emotionally and physically and we chose this and it is almost over and life will be better for us.  This other family doesn’t have it as good. They are saying goodbye to the life we continue to build.  So, I’m left feeling shameful about feeling the way I do in the face of such loss which just creates more anxiety spilling over into my daily motions that already feel extra heavy and just hard.  

Friends say my feelings are reasonable and valid. But is that all a copout? Is it really “all relative” like friends say? I don’t know. No, we aren’t facing death but parenting through such chaos is uncomfortable and I’m losing elasticity in my patience.  And every moment I think of that little boy I try and find clarity and perspective underneath all this dust.  And every time I think of his mother, I wish I had a moral to this story for her. A neat, wrapped up, it’ll all be better ending, but I don’t. And maybe that’s the moral – nothing is neat. Not birth, not life, not death, and definitely not my mundane day to day.

In Memoriam Christopher Joseph Wilke

 5/25/01 – 3/20/14