Add This

Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day R & R

Wishing you a relaxing, reflective holiday weekend...

"Be not the slave of your own past—plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 28, 2004

Permission to be

The older I get the more I'm enraptured by the sheer interconnectedness of human beings. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are influenced by those around us on a daily basis. Sometimes those influences are manifest outwardly, in the clothes we wear, in the places we frequent or the lifestyle we lead.

Sometimes those influences are felt in a far more intimate way. I had a lengthy driveway discussion last night with my mom. (Don't we always do our best visiting as we are leaving?) I'm not really sure how we got on the topic, but she told me that it always worried her that my sister and I never viewed ourselves as attractive. I'm not sure what that stems from…perhaps from developing early (to my sheer horror) when all I really wanted to be was invisible. Maybe it was the insecurity of frequently being the new kid. Or, quite simply, maybe it stemmed from the realization that I never really felt comfortable in my own skin.

I always felt lacking in sophistication, grace, knowledge...pretty much everything that I associated with beauty. But I am older now and—I hope—a little wiser. I've realized that real beauty is how you feel inside after you've made a bit of peace with yourself. And that's something I only seem to grasp with age. Although this may not seem like any big revelation for many, for me it is huge.

This has been a time of intense self-reflection. I'm standing at one of life's crossroads, unable to see the path precisely but willing to take the journey anyway. And I'm willing to take that journey now because I've developed some strong friendships with people who haven't necessarily given me courage, but have given me permission to be who I am and share that person with the world. Sometimes it's these people, outside of our normal circle of loved ones, who shine the mirror best. People who aren't obligated to tell us we're talented, but who reflect our gifts even when our own mental blinders are obstructing the view.

The result is that through this process of self-examination, of pushing myself creatively to places I've never considered possible, I'm also becoming more at peace with the physical me. Although I doubt I'll ever be graceful or sophisticated (sorry, mom), I've also discovered that I hold within me a lifelong desire and openness to learn. And that's a beautiful thing. I don't need all of life's knowledge at my fingertips—only to have the chance to discover and explore it at my own pace.

Beauty comes from acceptance. Although I am my own worst critic and probably always will be, I'm also learning to forgive myself for past mistakes instead of letting the fear of reliving them drive me to immobility. I'm scared to do that, but it feels right, even as I struggle with what the "right thing" means. On its most basic level, I think it means being true to yourself. And that has been the most amazing part of this introspective journey—discovering myself.

So after traveling a circuitous route—bursting self-confidence as a child followed by decades of self-doubt—I feel as if I'm home. I'm not completely settled mind you. I couldn't be because I still feel as if I don't completely fit in. But that's okay—and giving myself permission to be okay is the most beautiful thing of all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Profiles that nourish the soul

People are endlessly fascinating. If I had to choose only one kind of writing to do for the rest of my life, it would be personality profiles. I've got one in today's Plain Dealer on Dorothy Jane Mills, a woman I've known for about five years after first writing about her for CWRU magazine.

The piece that ran in today's paper barely skims the surface of a woman who has led an incredibly prolific writing life. Last fall I heard her lecture at Cleveland State University. Her topic—"I write what I need." It was a great motivator for me to pursue the kind of writing I'm working on today. Dorothy and I have kept in contact ever since.

This profile got me to thinking more about why I enjoy writing about people. With each person I meet, I hope to learn something new about life choices and motivation in hopes that I can apply them to my own existence. Although we call the process interviewing, it's really more about conversation, about listening. It was easy to write about Dorothy on the one hand because she and I have been conversing off and on for five years.

Taking all those converations, however, and condensing them to 700 words was far more challenging than I expected. But it was well worth the effort—a good exercise in paring a story down to its bare essentials.

Dorothy had a love of journalism but, at her first husband's request, she gave it up to pursue teaching—a profession that fit more snuggly with his career. My first reaction when I read this in the galley proofs of her new autobiography, "A Woman's Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour," was to be filled with indignation at the sacrifice she made. But as she explained to me, it was a choice she grew to appreciate for a number of reasons—female journalists were few and far between in the 1940s. Ever the lady, she realized that journalism might take her to places considered unsafe. She found a way to work her writing in and around that of her husband's focus on writing the definitive history of baseball.

At 75, she writes what she wants. She self-publishes her historical fiction novels because she doesn't want to waste the time it takes to go through traditional publishing houses. And she's found a way to right the early mistakes of her career, buying back the rights and republishing her children's books written when she taught first grade, and—the focus of the profile and her new autobiography—to be credited with the research, writing and editing of her late husband's three-volume series of books on the history of baseball.

She's a consummate researcher and, as I explained to the PD's book editor, she compels me want to be a better researcher and writer. Thanks, Dorothy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Touched by your good wishes

Sometimes we toil away at a task with our head bent down, so intent on the job in front of our eyes that we forget to look up at the greater impact our work may have. Such is the case for me as I prepare to leave my two years as president of the Cleveland Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on June 30.

Over the weekend, I sent out a letter to our membership as a way to wrap up my tenure, introduce the new board and thank everyone for their support. In return I have been truly touched by the heartfelt sentiments I’ve received from members.

R.J. “Buz” Buzogany was a member of the board when I first joined in 1993. He wrote: “ Wendy, You brought that fresh enthusiasm that was missing. Congratulations on your new role with the national. I hope you shake them up with the same vigor and enthusiasm you brought to the local group. While I was not as active as I would have liked over the past several years, I have been an interested observer. Thanks for all you have done.”

I had the good fortune to get to know many in SPJ’s national leadership at the Ted Scripps Leadership Conference last June. One of those who expressed early support for my involvement at the national level was Robert Leger, then president and now immediate past president of the national organization. He was kind enough to send this: “Wendy: A great letter and testimonial! Robert.” Thank you, Robert. I look forward to picking up our conversation again in June.

Cecil Hickman, formerly of WCPN and now a freelancer, wrote: “I was so taken with your stewardship of SPJ that I felt compelled to write telling you of my appreciation.”

It’s not every day that we find strong mentors to lead us through the sometimes-stormy waters of a career in writing. I’ve been blessed to have some pretty terrific people in my corner. Judy Ernest reminds me to “Keep having fun!” And Susanne Alexander, who has given so much of her time and support not just to me, but to many freelance writers in Northeast Ohio, simply replied: “Ah…your enthusiasm is one of the things I most appreciate about you!” Thank you, both.

And finally, from Susan Alcorn: “Many thanks for your wonderful leadership. You’ve provided excellent leadership to SPJ. So much so that I became a dues-paying member last winter just to feel right about being the recipient of all the good things that were happening in the organization.” Now that, my friends, is music to my ears. Such sweet music, in fact, that membership is where I hope to spend my energy in the coming year.

I didn’t choose to lead the organization for a pat on the back. Quite frankly, when I rejoined the board in 2001, I was dismayed at how lackluster it had become. It’s not in my nature to accept the status quo. Fortunately, the board—and SPJ—was ready for my energy. Together, we reinvigorated Cleveland SPJ. And we’ve increased the visibility of its mission—to improve and protect journalism. And so it continues. Won’t you join us?

Monday, May 24, 2004

Creativity intensified

I'm in one of those states when my mind will simply not shut down. I've so many ideas that I feel as if my head will explode. I've been warned of the dangers of exploding head syndrome. Namely, there's a bit of a let-down when this intense level of creativity subsides.

But, in the interest of letting go of the wheel, I'm just going to ride this wave for now and see what part of the beach I eventually land on. I've been better about writing ideas down at various points in my career. Lately, I make sure I've always got a notebook handy. This morning I'm sorting through bits of paper with my horrendous scribble. Most of these notes, frighteningly enough, have been scribbled while driving. My main question this morning—what should I tackle first?

I'm a list-maker and obsessed with prioritizing and simplifying my to-do list.So I've broken my ideas down into things to tackle today, things to tackle this week and long-term ideas that need more thought. It used to be that my creative surges came primarily in the car or the shower. Lately, they wake me up from a sound sleep. I'm in training mode for the Bay Days 5-mile run on the Fourth of July, so I'm hitting the streets for a run early every morning. I should bring my tape recorder with me because I'm running for longer stretches and drafting entire queries all the while.

And, I'm ashamed to admit, I had a tough time concentrating during Mass yesterday because my mind was abuzz with ideas. I was reminded of the movie "City of Angels" in which angels live in libraries and hear people's thoughts. I wonder what they would hear? Perhaps they would smile listening to my internal dialogue about who I can pitch this half-baked idea to. Fortunately, there were plenty of distractions (as there always are) in the name of Michael Hoke, my wild card at church.

As an aside, we must have looked particularly well-scrubbed yesterday morning because the usher asked us to bring up the gifts. I always cringe when they ask. The last time we did, Michael carried a bowl of communion host and took one out to give to the priest. He was an older visiting priest and lacked a sense of humor. I was mortified and the other two boys were in hysterics. Yesterday, we didn't let Michael carry anything (which could have presented another problem). Ryan's friend had spent the night and so we also had him with us. As I approached the young visiting priest (a theology teacher at St. Ignatius and one of my older boys' favorite speakers), smiled at me and said, "That's quite a crew you've got with you. What's your name?" How kind of him to ask.

Back to my exploding head. As you can see, it's wandering a bit, which is another pitfall. I also feel a bit restless, which is probably a result of being in a hyper-jazzed state. Was a little snippy this morning with the family because I was anxious to get at my day. I'm sure that's tough on them, but I hope they know, alas, it's not a continous state. Just wish I could take this creative energy and bottle some of it for those times when I'm feeling less inspired.

Finally, I had a great laugh with my neighbor and friend Patty Banks on Friday night over strawberry daiquiris. We were discussing the storm that blew in suddenly at 4. I told her I was on the phone when it seemed as if the lights went out in the sky. She stopped me dead, palm up in the air—"You were on the phone at 4 on a Friday? You must NOT be in sales." Patty sells pharmaceuticals and her weekend began at about 1.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Balancing opportunities and dreams

Is it really Friday already? This has been another whirlwind week. Suppose I ought to be used to those by now. Although the pace has been a little frenetic, I'm also energized by the amazing opportunities ahead.

This week I've launched full-steam into my newest projects, as editor of Profiles in Diversity Journal and editor of NOGA Fairways magazine. Both are fun projects for different reasons. The golf stuff, well, that's editorial candy. I enjoy talking to the pros at area country clubs and hoping that maybe from their wisdom I'll be able to improve my pathetic golf game. This one doesn't involve heavy lifting or big money, it's simply good fun.

PDJ is a major project—heavy lifting involved and good money—but will probably take up about half my time these days. Already the opportunities I'm getting from this journal are amazing. I'm going to Detroit in June to strategize with Ford's chief diversity people about how we will feature Bill Ford on the cover of our September/October issue. And I'm awaiting a call from Dell Inc.'s people about spending a day with its chief diversity officer at its HQ in Round Rock, Texas.

Both of these projects fit my skills as a project manager/editor. But I'm increasingly mindful of how to balance the nitty-gritty of those projects with what really inspires me—creative nonfiction. While these two projects give me financial relief and some editorial challenges, I still want to have time to pursue the real goal of being on my own—getting published with some regularity in national magazines.

I'm an efficient person and tend to want to make things more efficient when I see they are not so. I'm going to have to temper my compulsion for efficiency with quality time spent on creative projects that nourish my soul.

And I'm going to have to protect myself against isolation, a sometimes stifling state. Working from home on deadlines is fabulous. It's quiet and I'm surrounded by the things that keep me focused. But when deadlines aren't looming, it's time to get out from these four walls and see people face to face, to have great conversations about the issues of the day or nothing of importance whatsoever.

Besides I've learned, thanks to the very wise and generous advice of a good friend, that it pays—literally—to get face time with editors, instead of relying solely on phone and e-mail contact. So after a week spent in the home office, next week I'll head out to my satellite offices for a little face time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Big city dreaming

This is the year I'm going to see things I've always wanted to. I've got big plans in the next couple of months. No more worrying about leaving the kids with sitters. Grandma is in charge. Hell, they'll be fine. They want us to go and have fun, as long as we bring them a trinket or three.

Danny and I celebrate 13 years of marriage in August. We haven't been away sans children since 2000 and that was for a cousin's wedding with all the family around. Before that, it was 1997. But in July (because August is one of the dreadful months that only becomes dreadful when you have school-age children involved in many activities), we're going to Chicago for three, maybe four days. We made the unpopular decision to forego a family vacation this year in favor of indulging mom and dad. I haven't the least bit of concern over that decision. It was the right thing to do.

Typically, I plan our vacations, down the last detail. But Chicago is Danny's town. He first visited his Uncle Wally and Aunt Kathy McGovern there when he was 12. He and his older brother, Jimmy road the Amtrak train to see their sisters at Barat College. And he's been back many times over the years for work. I've only passed through O'Hare Airport on my way to other places. Danny knows exactly where he wants to stay and what he wants to show me. My only stipulation is that he let me spend a few hours (and a few dollars!) in a cool bookstore. All suggestions are welcome.

And then in September, I'm heading to New York City for the SPJ National Convention . The timing is both good and bad. I'll be flying out the day after my 37th birthday (or maybe the day of, I haven't decided yet), but I'll also be there during September 11. It's a big deal for me to set aside both my fears of flying and terrorists to head to the Big Apple. (If all else fails, I'll resort to sporting a voodoo mask on the plane.) But slowly, I'm learning to let go of my fears in favor of embracing life. And this trip is a big part of that. Besides, I'm hoping the safest place to be that day will be NYC.

My head is spinning at the thought of seeing New York for the first time. I'll be staying in Midtown Manhattan, within easy walking distance to many of the sites. Although I'd like to see the tourist sites (Times Square, Statue of Liberty), I'd also like to see the East Village and stroll through Central Park. And while I'm sure we'll have drinks at the Navy Pier and stroll along State Street, I'd also like to have an authentic Italian meal in Chicago's Little Italy.

For me, visiting another city is all about immersing myself in its neighborhood life. Because what I'd really like to know while I'm there is: What's it like to live here? And that's a thought that will keep me dreaming all summer long.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Peace in the every day

This week is the first in a long time (several months at least) that I'm able to focus on a few meaty (regular) projects instead of darting around grasping at everything I can get my hands on. It's good to feel a little settled. To prepare for my week I spent most of yesterday doing the mundane things of life that sometimes hold great peace and contentment (notice I said "sometimes").

I feel as if I've stepped off the treadmill that had me running at increasing speeds and elevations. Time to slow it down a bit, head outside and set my own pace. I mentioned a while ago that whenever a deadline approaches, I clean my house. Yesterday was that kind of day. I just needed to empty my brain of the distractions and clutter that occasionally accumulate there so that I can face my week as clear-headed as possible.

So I did the mindless activities that can sometimes bring you a tiny bit of peace and contentment. Put clean sheets on all the beds, started (and actually finished!) the laundry and vacuumed my filthy car.

After the dismal rainy day that was Saturday, it was good to head outside and tackle my incredibly overgrown and weedy garden. My husband and I have always worked in great harmony in the yard. We don't really say much, but we don't really have to. He is one of those people I don't think will ever tire of his yard. You have to see him with his mower. For him, caring for his home is a large piece of his family life...all the things he ever dreamed of having as a kid. His face is very peaceful while he mows the wide expanse of our front yard, and it's probably for the same reasons mine is while mindlessly pulling weeds. It's a great way to keep your hands busy and productive while letting your mind wander, or maybe even go blank.

At the end of the afternoon we took our "walk around the grounds" as Danny likes to say to admire a day's worth of yardwork. It's looking pretty good. Everything in my garden is lush and green. Nothing is really blooming yet, but neither has it wilted from the dry heat of summer. It's at that perfect in-between stage, vibrant but not yet exploding with color. I just have to remember during the course of my week to head out and admire it and remember that it's always been a source of peace in my life.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Rite of passage

"Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel like I should be doing something else."
—Gloria Steinem

For the past year or so, I've been privileged to counsel a young woman about her career in journalism. And I just wanted to take the time today to wish her well because tomorrow she will walk across the stage at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center to receive her diploma.

I first met Jen Boresz last year before the SPJ Ted Scripps Leadership Conference in Indianapolis. We spent a lot of time together, particularly in the airports. But what I saw in her was a certain verve that I, too, possessed at that age. Throughout the past year, I've talked Jen through several issues from what to wear to a professional event to whether or not to take a certain job.

I've helped her with her resume, given her suggestions for people to call for freelance work and counseled her on the pressures that young women face after college graduation—marriage, family, relocation, etc. Maybe I'm spoiling her giving her such a nice cushion into the real world, but I feel it's a calling to help other young women.

It's hard when you're left to twist in the wind with little to no guidance. But the real world can wait until next week. This weekend is for celebrations. Congratulations, Jen! I'm proud of you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Universal truths

When I started this blog nearly two months ago, I really wasn't sure what I would write about. I guess mostly I just wanted it to have a point and to resist the urge to rant. Quite accidently, though, it has become my primary outlet for relaying my innermost thoughts. And though I've always wondered who else would care about those thoughts as much as I, it's clear from the feedback I'm receiving that I've touched on some nerves. The most popular, by far, is the need for a solo retreat.

Creative Ink has really become more about the struggle between family and work. I didn't set out to write a mommy blog, but that is such a large part of my life that it profoundly impacts all that I do. Creative Ink is about journey, experiences, satisfying the soul and how to do all that while taking care of a family AND being true to yourself. It seems nearly impossible. And yet I find the struggle infinitely gratifying.

I'm learning that I'm not alone and there's a certain measure of comfort in knowing that's true. I've heard from many female colleagues who are moved to write to me about how I've managed to get inside their head. I haven't really, it's just that I've touched on some universal truths. And I've somehow mustered the courage to write it down. NOT an easy task.

My cousin's wife, Laura O'Brien sent me a beautiful card about a month ago. "You make being a stay-at-home mom sound like a dignified, professional career! Keep writing and inspiring. Love, Laura." You have to know Laura. She's not simply a stay-at-home mom. She's also an artist and member of a cooperative gallery, Silverthorne Gallery in Rocky River.

Another colleague, Paris Wolfe who is also a mother of two boys and freelance writer sent this last week: "I'm supposed to be working, but got lost on the web for a few moments. One thought led to another and somehow I stumbled on Creative Ink. I started reading and wondered what you were doing in my head. Beautiful writing in your posts. Take care and thanks for the inspiration, Paris."

And this came from mom last week. I know it's self-serving to include her, but my mom has a way of communicating that speaks to many women: "The journal dated 4/23/04 'Meeting of the Mind and Heart' made me want to shout with joy from the roof top. You have made the turn. I'm not sure how we as individuals permitted certain demons like fear, insecurity, etc to overtake who we really want to be. And I'm not sure when it took control. Maybe gradually without being fully aware it was happening. For the most part, life is good." How right you are, mom.

Just last night, my friend Jill Miller Zimon wrote, "My walls must have ears - and they're yours or your husband's" in response to yesterday's entry. I know of few writers who don't get carried away, lost in their projects. It's nice to be reminded that sometimes we need to get back in touch with the very things that inspire us most.

Like so many other women today, I continue to press on, searching for balance, being true to myself and making sure I'm here for my family. It's all about persistence over the long haul. In fact, I'm reminded of the saying my dad always had hanging in his office. When we left home, he made sure each of us had a framed copy:

Press On
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men (or women!) with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Remembering what it's all about

Been getting carried away lately with work. I have to admit I'm very excited at all the new opportunities. Been putting in a lot of extra time—late nights, early mornings, after dinner. And it was starting to show in my family who wondered who the heck the person was who pounded away on the computer in the office day and night. I took a deep breath this weekend and remembered what this career move was all about.

I resisted the urge all weekend long to get a jump on the week. It was Mother's Day weekend and work would just have to wait until today—which it did. I'm no further behind and I even had time to take a bike ride with Michael up to our neighborhood park. After all, the point of my working from home was to have more time with the kids, not less.

So after a flurry of activity these past three months, trying to get business, I finally feel as if I've hit my groove. And so it was with great joy that Mikey and I jumped on the swings at Bradley Park and laughed and flew and soaked up the warm sun. I confess I had the cell phone in my pocket, but that was mostly in case the older two boys got home from school before we returned. (I only checked voicemail once!)

It's hard to stop working sometimes when what you do for living doesn't feel like work. But I made this move to achieve a life balance and my husband was correct in pointing out that the scale was tipping heavily in favor of work. I listened and I'm going to keep working on it. There will still be times when deadlines preclude play time, but I'm working on managing it all just a little better than I have been. I know I keep saying this, but just bear with me, guys.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Case study in collaboration

Good things happen when you least expect them. Or at least they happen when you're not desperately trying to make them happen—key word here being desperate. That's a lesson I've learned on my new venture as an independent. I left my plans aside and just decided to go with my gut and follow my instincts.

It's paying off big-time. I've been working consistently and getting paid for the past two months. The best part is that I've reached my financial goal I needed to attain by May 15 in order to stay an independent. Good news all around and I'll be celebrating that night with my colleagues and friends at the Poets' & Writers' League of Greater Cleveland Writers and their Friends event.

But there's one particular sequence of events that illustrates how creative collaboration works at its finest. The benefits I receive through SPJ I previously thought largely intangible. I believe in the organization's mission and support it with my time, energy and money. But lately, I've realized its benefits are far greater.

Through some pretty cool leadership, energy, focus and perhaps a little conniving, Vice President Jay Miller and I have managed to attract some strong minds to the organization. Steve FitzGerald is one such person. I'm thrilled that he will be attending the Ted Scripps Leadership Conference in Indianapolis in June. I'll be speaking at that event, but more on that another day.

Another person is John Ettorre . John, for whatever reason, saw leadership and a larger vision in our group and saw fit to bring his unique brand of "servant leadership" to our organization. Take note, here's how it works:

Jay and I mentioned that we'd like to improve SPJ Cleveland's Web site. John knew just the person to help. He made a call to Jim Kukral , a terrific guy with immense knowledge of online marketing. Over lunch, Jim agreed to help us improve our Web site and we hope to launch the new-and-improved site later this year. Jim shares studio space with two guys, photographer Hal Stata and creative director David Potokar . Several weeks ago, David walked into Jim's office asking if he knew of any female writers/editors for a project he was bidding on. Jim had my business card sitting on his desk and told David to call me. David did that and he and I struck up an instant rapport as editor/art director. He told me about the project he had worked on. The publisher had asked him to resubmit a bid for the work, including finding an editor, after the previous editor left. Dave and I met and found our sensibilities in terms of improving magazine design and content were similar. We also hit it off as small business owners, agreeing on what it would take to both improve the product and get it back on schedule. And so, a new partnership was formed. Dave and I met with the publisher and, after some financial negotiation, he was convinced that we were the pair to take his bimonthly publication to the next level.

Dave and I met this morning and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to not only work together, but also to put our stamp on a project that has so much potential. While I was in the office, I was able to meet with Jim and give him some leads for a new venture he's promoting in town. I can trace all these wonderful things back to a single event—in May 2003, Jay and I heckled John to join our ranks after he pulled off one of the most successful programming events of our chapter. The topic? Blogging. I won't embarrass John by giving him credit, but I do think he opened our eyes to larger possibilities.

Besides, John would never accept the credit. He believes that amazing things happen when no one is worrying about who gets the credit. I think he's right. Our chapter has been about collaboration these past two years. We don't need the credit, we just want to hang with some cool, creative people and see what blooms. Along the way, and perhaps the coolest part of this experience, is that some talented, I would say like-minded, creatives found each other and a way to explore new collaborations. That's beyond sublime, it's transcendent.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Staying in touch

My family is somewhat scattered across Ohio, but even if we weren't, staying in touch is often difficult. We have kids and jobs and spouses and activities and all manner of "stuff" that keeps us from chatting regularly.

An interesting phenomenon has occurred though. We've always been a family of e-mailers. Only now my family also is reading my blog and staying in touch with me that way. It's very cool, I must say.

My older brother, Chris e-mailed me last week to say he's been reading and enjoying the blog. It means a lot to me because, whether he knows it or not, he's always been a big supporter of mine. We were two years apart in age, but only one in grade. We shared many of the same friends and activities. He and his friend even taught me how to drive stick in his friend, Bob's tempermental Celica nicknamed, Cybil. Chris is also the family techie and loves to keep me posted on all the latest Mac stuff that I can't afford. Of all my siblings, he understands best the time constraints placed on parents. He has two boys, ages 8 and 5, and gets himself involved in many of their activities. So, Chris, it's good to hear from ya!

And then there's Jen. She's really my best friend and strongest female supporter. If there's any one person in my life who shares my history, friendship and devotion, it's Jen. She e-mailed last week to tell me how she enjoyed last Thursday's post. She knows of what I speak because she lived with my hubby and I while student teaching. And she occupies the role of favorite auntie to my boys. People who know us both have said listening to us talk is like hearing stereo. We both have a tendency to gesture wildly with our eyes, mouth and hands. And we're both prone to outbursts of laughter (not always at the most appropriate time). She's put a link to my blog on her Yahoo page, so that's pretty awesome, too. Thanks, Fers!

My mom reads regularly, if not daily, to make sure I'm happy and well. And yes, Mom, I'm doing fine. I've never been a really good communicator with her as an adult (though I'm not sure why). So I'm glad that she reads the blog as a barometer of my mental health.

Finally, as of last Friday, my husband has started reading my blog. He read it end to end and even asked why I didn't post yesterday. (Answer: deadlines.) I think he's a little unnerved and maybe even a little excited by the person he finds there.

And so, when I'm unable to express my feelings verbally, as has been true for most of my life, I have resorted to putting them in writing. It works for me because I think more clearly in writing. Through the blog I've been able to express some of my innermost thoughts, giving myself permission to feel and letting go of the destructive nature that fear held on my heart. Besides, it's a lot cheaper than therapy.

I'm glad to have you reading, guys.