Heartbreak and Healing

It has been quite awhile since I have taken the time to share more of my journey, so as I sit here on vacation, feeling relaxed and cared for (I am waiting on homemade muffins as I type this - lesson: let people love you - check!) I wanted to take a moment to share a little more about where I am.

The past eight months have been a transformative time in my life, and after being able to take time to process my feelings and move through the shock, pain, and change, I know now that I wouldn't take any of it back. I shared on New Year's that I feel like in the past year my heart has been broken and then rebuilt better, bigger, and more open to love than I ever thought possible. So much of my healing has been because of the support of those around me. I think it is amazing how people can support one another from hundreds of miles away, just by a simple text, a heartfelt message, a silly meme, and I have felt the love and support deeply and am so happy to be a part of that network. I don't have the capacity or words to express how deep my gratitude goes. The friendships in my life, especially with other women who have had the same experiences, has been vital to my healing process.

And I truly feel healed - on a deep, soul-level. I am at such peace with the decision to end my marriage. It was right and honest and good to end it - and I will always reflect on it as a time that I learned so much about myself, about love, about family, and happiness. Yes, of course it is bittersweet to say goodbye to something so precious, but I have so much excitement about my future. I feel like 2016 is going to be a huge year for me in so many ways. Big things are coming and I am excited to be able to share them as they do - both personally and professionally.

My heart is so full. Six months ago, I wouldn't have thought it possible that I could have such a capacity for love or that I would go through my days with an authentic smile on my face. I want to encourage other people who are struggling - there is beauty in the breaking. You can get through the hard parts by leaning into those around you who love you, let them lift you up, let them help you heal, and give yourself time. Be kind to yourself and respect your own limits. It hurts now, and sometimes it may seem like there is no way you will find happiness, love, laughter, and joy again - but I promise you, you will. And it will be so much sweeter, and more precious to you because of the path of sadness and heartache you walk through now. I am as hopeful for your future as I am for mine .

Clear Eyes, Full Heart

First of all, I just want to tell all of my friends, family, and blog-readers that my heart is beyond full. I had no idea how cathartic it would be to share my story, or how inspiring, or how uplifting. I received some amazing, supportive comments and messages from friends, from women who are walking this same path, and from some strong, amazing women who have walked this path before me. There was not a single negative word from anyone - and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful. Thank you all for your love, your grace, and your compassion.

I know that being able to share this part of my life and having the freedom to be open, honest, and real has helped me process that this is where I am in my life in a deeper way and I don't have the words to explain how healing that has been.

And guys, I am really, really good.

Honestly. I am so incredibly content - a state of mind that has always been elusive for me. I am allowing these hurts to heal at their own pace and taking steps forward in my life and its been a beautiful thing. I am working on letting other people take care of me (another lifelong struggle) and just trusting that God is working in my life in ways that I can't even begin to fathom.

I am so grateful for where I am in my life right now and am at peace with it. My job has been such a blessing. There is no question in my heart that God went before me and prepared my life for this new season. Many of the people I work with have a strong faith and have been exactly where I am in my life right now. The support system is amazing. I am nurturing relationships and friendships that I did not have the capacity for a few months ago, and learning more about who I am on my own.

And ya know what?
I really like who I am.

My Messy Life

Today I read this blog post: When Life Feels Like a Mess, There's Something We Can Do.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” BrenĂ© Brown

That post seriously spoke straight to my heart.

I want to start by saying that I value authenticity in people so highly, and I strive for that in my own character. I want to be authentic and real and sometimes realness is messy. I'v known for a very long time that life can throw you curveballs and that there can be circumstances that occur in life over which you have no control - but when it happens to you, it still takes your breath away.

At the beginning of this summer, my curve ball came. It hit me hard and unexpectedly and completely out of left field...

I may be mixing up my baseball metaphors now.

Anyway, when my husband of 6 years, partner of nearly 9 years, sat me down and asked me for a divorce, it took my breath away. It literally felt as if something was squeezing my heart and lungs. I couldn't get air and there was a pain deep in my chest. I felt my heart break in the realest way.

I cannot begin to explain the tumult of emotions I have experienced this summer. It doesn't matter that we didn't go down in flames, that our relationship has ended quietly, respectfully, and lovingly, its still a painful experience to end something that has been so precious.

My life is a mess.
I am a mess.
I am embracing the mess.
I am sharing my mess.

It has been hard to decide how to handle this situation since we live in such a connected and socially driven world - one that I am proudly very active in. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out whats appropriate, what isn't, what may be offensive and hurtful to those I love, and what may invite unwelcome, hurtful comments. I have also struggled at not being outright and frank about the situation. We always hide so much of our hurts and struggles - and while sometimes that is appropriate and right and good - sometimes its not. For me, right now, in this season of my life, I cannot hide. I have to acknowledge that what is happening is big and scary and sad and hard and messy and real.

For the people who have let me do this already - I am so incredibly grateful. Honestly, my cup runneth over with love for those friends and family who have held me up during the first few weeks of this life change, and those that still do. To my friends who support me, let me cry on your shoulders, and text you at all hours, I cannot express my gratitude. For those that have reached out to me via social media - thank you too. Its been a supportive and beautiful thing to feel so cared about.

One thing that is really important to me as I move through this phase of my life is that I don't get caught up in being ashamed of this part of my story. This may not be the path I had expected to walk, but its the one that is laid before my feet. And so today, in celebration of not being ashamed and of owning my story, I share my mess.

I am so hopeful for my future, even as a I mourn for my loss.

I won't deny my story, I didn't want to know the pain of starting over or the beauty in the growth of that pain, but I do - and I want to own that.

Luckiest Girl Alive


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores  the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

I found this review on amazon.com and I think MeanGreenZen took the words out of my mouth and made them sound more intelligent and witty:

"With Gone Girl comes a new genre of writing--one where things seem one way, and then masterfully shift to show they were something different the whole time, like that picture where you think you are looking at a vase and then find you are looking at two faces, or is it still a vase? The lines are the same, but your perception is changed to see things in a way that, although they were right in front of you the whole time, you didn't see before. Girl on A Train also does this well, even with a drunken narrator.... In the case of this book, it's more like you are looking at a picture and then the drunken artist comes along and sloppily erases it and draws something else right in front of you, burps in your face, and expects you to be amazed. It's lazy, sad, flat read and I found it insulting to reader and the genre.

That is to say, if you enjoy the mental workout of a twisty plot and trying to piece together what will happen, don't buy this book. If you find the exploitation of national tragedy distasteful, especially if it's done in a lazy way, don't buy this book. If gaping plot holes and flimsy characters bother you, don't buy this book. If there are any other books available to you, don't buy this book.

I gave the book one star because there are a few funny parts, but overall I found the whole thing barely readable. A character who seems to be tough and interesting in the first chapter devolves into a whiny, vapid victim with no redeeming qualities, and yet we are supposed to root for her and care what happens to her? Things that are already part of our collective fear and sadness as Americans are leveraged in a pathetic way, to make us feel by memory what the writer could not by skill. Things we are told about characters do not hold up throughout the book, leaving me confused and going to back to see if I missed something, but sadly we are just supposed to suspend disbelief enough to forget what we read a few chapters before. By the last chapter, I was thinking something earth shattering had to happen to explain all of this...at that point I was so underwhelmed that I felt like the author might even play the "it was all a dream" card, but no, the biggest trick was done by the publishing house, who lured you in with the promise of Gillian Flynn-level writing on the book jacket and then, in a classic bait and switch, gave you something that was even sadder and faker than the lead character herself."

I was going to review this book myself, but honestly, MeanGreenZen's review on amazon seriously sums up most of my feelings. I can no longer handle all of these books with reprehensible characters - its why I disliked (but was captivated by, because as she points out, it was done exceedingly well) Gone Girl, hated Wild, and couldn't stomach Luckiest Girl Alive. The characters have no redeeming qualities. They have no desire to improve their character, to be better people, to just not be awful. (This might be slightly unfair to Wild, because I do think she wanted that, but I still disliked the book) And since she mentioned Girl on a Train, I think that book is also very well done, twisty-turny, but redeeming in the end.

Books like this are what push me to read steampunk-fantasy fluff - which is exactly what I did on Friday  - vampires, werewolves, and steam-powered robots with flamethrowers with the same tired love story will win me over any day over vapid, selfish, cruel characters. 

Wild: A Review

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. (photo and synopsis from Amazon)

When Wild hit the big screen as Reese Witherspoon's passion project, I was intrigued. Then I saw it on a must-read list of memoirs, so I thought I would give it a go. One of my friends shared that she didn't like it at all, and I was surprised. I mean, how can you go wrong with a woman striking out on her own to hike across the country to refocus her life?!

Well, let me tell you how you can go wrong.

You can go wrong when she's an immature, selfish, basically horrible person. I honestly hated Cheryl Strayed. She destroyed her own marriage. She did a bunch of heroin. She was kind of a hoe.

I thought that I would at least be able to relate to her grief over losing her mom. But no. I got mad at her over that too. She got her mom until she was in her mid-20s - got to be friends with her mom and know her woman-to-woman, and then when she died, she completely let her life fall apart. I am the first person to empathize with the loss of a mom - I share that wound. I know how hard it is. I have friends who know what its like to ache over the loss of their mothers. None of them went and did heroin for kicks. Maybe I didn't like it because I was just so far from who I am - I have nothing in common with this woman.

I know life is messy and that people make mistakes and its not pretty. I get that. Things worked out fine for Cheryl as she hiked along the PCT. But I couldn't root for her.

I will say that I was engaged with her story and wanted to see it through to the end, and in no way did I want her to fail. I just couldn't root for her. I will be very intrigued when I get around to seeing the movie - maybe Reese can make this woman more relatable.

Station Eleven: A Review

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

(Photo and synopsis from Amazon.)

This was the first book I finished this year and I had started reading it over Christmas break. It was the Sci-fi/Fantasy book of the year on Amazon, so I downloaded it before the Christmas holiday, hoping to read it while on vacation. After I got into the meat of the story, it was not hard to see why it was the book of the year. It was a spectacular read and I loved it. The flipping back in forth to pre-pandemic and post-pandemic didn't even bother me and I easily followed both story lines. I was enraptured by both the past and present voices in Station Eleven and this book even inspired me to start keeping track of inspiring quotes in a journal. The first one I wrote down, back in January, was

"Hell is the absence of people you long for"

This book is full of inspiring nuggets like that and this is actually a very thought-provoking and inspiring novel wrapped up as dystopian fiction. I would definitely recommend this book! 

Oscars Fashion

So I love the red carpet and seeing what the ladies are wearing. I believe it is a part of Hollywood's job description to have almost a character of sorts that they play - Katy Perry talked about that in the music industry, comparing Kanye to the villain character and Taylor Swift to the sweetheart - on the red carpet and that's who I feel like I am watching on TV, a caricature of a real person. Anyway, I really like seeing what people are wearing - that is more fun than the show itself. But - the very feminist part of me also sees it as objectifying (because it is) and I see Reese Witherspoon's point about the differences between the interviews of men and women on the carpet. She even started a hashtag campaign #AskHerMore because women are about more than their dresses.

Obviously fashion is an absolutely integral part of the Hollywood industry and I plan to celebrate my favorite and least favorite looks as usual, but with a higher degree of respect than in the past. I did say that Marian Cotillard's dress looked like maxi-pad and that Kiera Knightly's looked like vomit and I have to own that, but moving forward I am going to try to abide by advice my mama gave me many, many, many years ago while watching some figure skating. (Figure skating the ALL the rage in the early 90's) Anyway, child-me commented on how hideous some costume was and my mom sat me down (I am sure in an effort to prevent me from turning into the mean girl I sometimes am) and asked me what I would say to the girl wearing the outfit. Would I say how fugly (ok - she definitely didn't say "fugly") her costume was or not? I obviously was way too polite to tell someone to their face how awful their outfit was and said something to that effect to my mom. And then she brought it home - if I wouldn't say it to someone's face, I shouldn't say it at all. So, in an effort to be the kinder woman my mom hoped for me to be, and to be more feminist, I am going to approach this Oscar's Fashion review a little bit differently and talk about these women as if they were my best friends. If I knew these women in real life, and they asked me how they looked before stepping out the door to attend the Acadamy Awards, what would I say to them...
I hope you enjoy it. :)

Naomi Watts - I wouldn't recommend wearing a tube-top to the Oscars, even if it is sparkly. You've looked so much classier.

Jessica Chastain - Honey, you look like Jessica Rabbit in navy and I am drooling right now.

Behati Prinsaloo - I think having your hair down will look less severe... but I doubt anyone will care with the arm-candy you've got. I don't have dreams about your husband... what do you mean we can't be friends anymore?!

Hannah Bagshawe - This is a fabulous unique dress and no one else will have anything like it and I love, love, love it.

Zendaya - I am not sure how to actually pronounce your name, but I loooooove this look. You look like a chic, sexy bohemian queen. The hair is seriously my favorite part of this look.

Felicity Jones - I think a brighter color would do you better - but I love this dress as a costume for your Star Wars movie...

Gaga - Firstly, you are actually stunning. Secondly, let's take off those dishgloves and show the world your gorgeous engagement ring. You've already tweeted it, so people know what it looks like... they are just distracting from the beautiful simplicity of this look.

Cate Blanchett - You are a goddess and I love you. Please adopt me.

Rosamund Pike - Guuuuuuuuuuuurl. You look hot, hot, hot. Like you are dressed in rose petals.

Anna Farris - You look adorable and like you could be in Frozen, but in a good way.

Lupita - you are a stunning woman, you don't need gimmicky dresses. But, if anyone could pull this off, its you.

Nicole, Nicole, Nicole - Can I be your stylist? You are so, so beautiful and this dress is chintzy. If you insist on wearing this, the belt has GOT to go.

Kelly Osborne - You look gorgeous and graceful and this is a perfect red carpet dress. Get 'em girl.

Reese Witherspoon - You can do no wrong. Go show them how brilliant women are and look flippin' gorgeous while doing it.

Julianne Moore - You have been killing it for me all awards season and I bet the detail on this dress is stunning, but it is not translating from a distance. If it didn't have the 2nd row of flowers I would like it better. But, I am SO rooting for you to win it all and it is so amazing that you are bringing more mainstream awareness to the epidemic that is dementia. Also - your hair and makeup is so on point.

Solange - no capes.

Anna Kendrick - this is how its done darling. So, so beautiful.

Oprah - I bow to you. You are so stunning and I love the hair.

ScarJo - Are you sure you want to wear that necklace? I mean, like really sure???? I feel like your earring bling is edgy enough with that haircut, so do you think you NEED to wear that necklace???