International Women’s Day: We Will Never Be Silenced Again

International Women's Day pink gerbera with symbolic purple ribbon

International Women’s Day has been a thing for more than a century, but it has special meaning for me this year. In four days, I celebrate 50 years of life and living, and I find myself, as always, looking back on what has been and looking forward to what is yet to come. But today I find myself also reflecting on the woman I have become and the journey I’ve been on to get here. What a long, strange trip it’s been. 🙂

I am also reflecting on how the woman I am today influences my kids, a boy 19 and a girl 17. What do they see in me that they want to emulate, or not? How have I inspired them to be, or not, one thing or another? Have I done my job well? Have I given them the right values and beliefs to be good people with good hearts? Will my son treat women with respect? Will my daughter ensure that she is treated with respect?

I do know this for sure: I am more confident now than I have ever been in my life. I struggled for years to find my voice, both as a writer and as a woman. I grew up with the mantra, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” I was a cheerleader in grade school and high school, at my mother’s urging, and on the outside, I probably looked pretty confident. But inside, like a lot of us, I was anything but in a world that was not designed to support and celebrate women.

One day in high school, a male chemistry teacher said, in front of the entire class, “I never met a smart cheerleader in my life. Or a smart girl, now that I think about it.” He laughed and went on with the lesson. Another girl and I were wearing our cheerleading uniforms because there was a football game that day. Neither of us said a word. No one else did either. It didn’t occur to me to tell anyone, not even my mother or another adult. So I never told anyone. Class – and life – went on as usual. That’s just how it was.

Flash forward to 2019. I’m on a third date. We are in a half-empty restaurant, finishing our meal, and I am in a happy mood. I’m at my favorite restaurant, I ate my favorite meal, it’s the end of a stressful week, life is good. I am telling a funny story and, as I usually do, start laughing in the middle. (You should know that I am famous for my goofy laugh – in high school, I was awarded “Funniest Laugh,” a category my newspaper staff created just for me. 😀)

So there I am, telling my story, laughing, and the craziest thing happens.

Him: Shush! <reaches out one hand and tries to cover my mouth>

Me: <recoiling and pushing hand away> Did…did you just…shush me??

Him: Yes! You’re too loud.

Me: <insert cold stare> Don’t you ever fucking shush me again.

Needless to say, we never went out again.

But here’s the thing. Two years ago, I would have never said anything like that. I would have apologized and felt awful. I would have gone home and felt more awful. At some point, I would have switched to seething about it and all the other times men have tried to silence me, shame me, humiliate me, pinch my ass, grab my breasts, put/ throw/hold me down, the times I let them, the times I never said a word, never told anyone, life went on as usual, that’s just how it was. I would think of all the things I could have said, should have said, if only I hadn’t froze, if only I’d been thinking faster, if only I didn’t feel like I had to be “nice,” if only I didn’t fear getting hurt or making things “awkward” or “uncomfortable” or having a “confrontation” (my worst nightmare). It escaped me then that there were men who had been making things “awkward” and “uncomfortable” for me, for women, for years.

So on that day, in that restaurant, to that particular man, I said no. HELL no.

I will never be silenced again.

As I look back at how far I’ve come on my journey as a woman and the changes I’ve made in my little corner of the world, I am happy to celebrate what International Women’s Day means for me. It may be a small victory to some. It’s invisible to most. But for me, it means everything. Confidence. Strength. Peace of mind. Empowerment. I know my children are watching and taking it all in. I am trying to redefine, for myself and for them, what it means to be a strong, confident woman. Some days I do a better job than others, but I hope they see that no matter how any given day goes down, I never, ever give up.

I am tremendously grateful and appreciative to all the women and men who support me, believe in me, encourage me, inspire me, and most of all, have helped me find my voice and the courage to use it. (You know who you are!) I am also thankful to all of the women and men throughout history and today, who stand up for what is right on behalf of all women, but especially for those women who do not have a voice. Yet.

We will never be silenced again. ❤️

 

 

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Losing Weight, Getting in Shape and Living the Life You Deserve

 

I remember the day I decided to commit to getting back into shape. It was March 18, 2011, a day like any other day, except that on THIS day, I sat up on the couch, put down a box of Lofthouse Sugar Cookies, and silently said to no one in particular:

“I’m so sick and tired of feeling this way! ENOUGH!!”

I was 41 years old, 20-some pounds over my ideal weight – ideal being what my doctor suggested at my annual checkup earlier that day – and I felt miserable. I told him how tired I was all the time and felt old AF, everything hurt, and it felt like I was wearing a heavy blanket of sad, anxious and…meh. I remember saying – I’m too young to feel like this. Right??

My doctor said, “Well, things do start changing in your 40’s.” We talked for a while as he wrote up an order for all the regular blood tests, including checking my thyroid (I’ve had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis since I was 23; weight gain and sadness/anxiety/meh are often symptoms). Then he handed me a prescription for an antidepressant. As I stared at it in disbelief, he said, in a kind, non-judgmental way, “You know, you always felt better when you were working out.”

When he left the room, I sat on that exam table and tried really, really hard not to cry.

This was the first time I had ever opened up to someone about this particular struggle. It’s interesting how, when someone tells you (however kindly) what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear, it strikes a nerve chord. On the way home, I thought about how I’d gotten here. Sure, I’d been busy with life like everyone else. And I’d always been a six-month on, four-month off kind of workout gal. I’d get good momentum going, but then life would happen and working out became a “nice to have” and disappeared from the list of priorities.

And Yet…
I knew the exact moment that I’d fallen off the health/fitness wagon hard this time. Continue reading “Losing Weight, Getting in Shape and Living the Life You Deserve”

Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything

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Tonight I lit my first fire in my second rental house since my divorce four years ago (looks good, yes?). Not a big thing on the surface. But it’s my first house with a fireplace in 11 years. I was married then. I grew up with a fireplace. In both homes, either my dad or my then husband always lit the fire. My dad did it because, well, I was a kid. My ex did it because…that’s the way it was. (Yeah, yeah, I know – that’s for another blog post.)

I’ve been ready to light this fire since I moved in last June. One of the first things I did was get the fireplace inspected. Safety first! When fall came, I went to Home Depot and got the fireplace tools, a screen, built the tool rack with that stupid little gadget thing they always give you in DIY kits. I picked up a bundle of wood. I was READY. And then…

Christmas came and went. No fire. 

I kept telling my kids, “Hey! Maybe we should light a fire tonight!” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself it was because I was afraid of looking like an idiot in front of them if I couldn’t get it going (our first campfire fiascos and my ineptitude with cooking over a fire are still fresh in my memory – suffice to say the hamburgers melted through the tripod grill thingy and we ended up eating potatoes for dinner.)

Except there is a YouTube video for everything these days, as I realized when my radiator went out on the road last summer, and duh, DuraFlame. So…why am I waiting to light my first fire on Easter? April Fool’s Day, no less? But it is 32 degrees in Chicago tonight…and then it hit me:

This is another first. 

I thought I was done with those, but I am coming to learn that those never end. They just Continue reading “Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything”

Why Teaching Our Kids to Be Inclusive is Not the Answer

Group of playful children in studioI just read this post on Scary Mommy, “Why I No Longer Tell My Child to be Inclusive and Kind” by Julee Morrison and I am pissed off enough to write about it. First, let me say that, as a marketer and a writer, I know that these headlines (accompanied by the sad child stock photos) are designed to incite emotion, clicks and comments. (That said, please forgive my stock photo, I don’t have a real one that truly fits this post and this one hit the mark for me.) On Facebook alone, there were thousands of comments on this article.

But this is not a post about marketing.

This is a post about taking back control as parents.

Look, I’m a parent of two teens, one of whom is special needs. I don’t write about that last part on my blog because it is not my story to tell and I respect my child’s privacy. I say this to clearly establish the fact that I understand to a heartfelt degree that there are people in the world who have huge struggles and deserve extra kindness. I’ve got 18 years under my belt on that personally, but that is a topic best kept for another post.

Both of my kids have been bullied, especially my special needs child, so I understand how the dark side of being “non-inclusive” hurts in a profound way. My kids have not always been perfect either, none are, and have probably hurt others along their journey to becoming adults. We are all guilty of this at some point or another. Including me. I will forever be haunted by the time a girl was taunted on the playground right in front of me and I did…nothing.

But it’s more complicated today than it has ever been. 

Gun violence, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual predators, school shootings, bullying, mental health, gender, race, politics and religion are driving forces in our awareness and conversations today more than ever before. Our kids are growing up and dying in the crossfire of it all, trying to make sense of the insensible. As an adult, I am still trying to make sense of it all and I am struggling. Our kids struggling, too. Mightily.


According to suicide.orgteen and adolescent suicides have continued to rise dramatically in recent years. Consider these alarming figures:

  • Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life.
  • Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.
  • About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time.
  • Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it.

Source: Why Today’s Teens Are More Depressed Than Ever


If our only message to our children today is: be inclusive and kind…than we are failing them miserably.

Hear me out.

Continue reading “Why Teaching Our Kids to Be Inclusive is Not the Answer”

What Another (gulp) Birthday Taught Me

Writers often use life events in their stories because they are the perfect settings for drama, the stuff all good stories are made of. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, retirement parties…it’s all fair game. Characters come alive. Conflicts ensue. Add alcohol, loaded expectations, cheesy music, and voila! The perfect scene for chaos story is born. Or, in my case, reflections.

It was my birthday recently. 🙂

This is us. Me and my musketeers.

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We went to dinner at a nice place, which we don’t normally do on our budget. For once, we ordered everything – appetizers, salads, steaks, even desserts. We tried everything. Twice. One of us had to unbutton our jeans. Not telling who. 🙂

So I always tell my kids – no gifts, please – just a handwritten note is all I want. But they are teenagers now, with jobs and bank accounts and minds of their own.

My daughter made me open her gift first as soon as we sat down. It was a sparkly gold Continue reading “What Another (gulp) Birthday Taught Me”

Finding Your Voice in a World of #MeToo

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me and my girl one fall day

The other day, my *almost* sixteen-year-old daughter read to me out loud her response to one of the questions on an assignment in her advanced English class. The question was:

“Who or what has had the biggest impact on the development of your voice?”

Me [best attempt at no expression]: “Ooh!!!  Good question.”

Me [inside]: ME!! PLEASE SAY ME!! But it might not be me. Shit, I don’t have a poker face, Christy, get it together here!! If it’s not you, you don’t want to make her feel bad. Whatever she says is fine, whoever it is. OH PLEASE LET IT BE ME!!

Spoiler alert: It was me. 🙂 !!!

I want to share this with you because as a writer, a mom and a human being trying to do Continue reading “Finding Your Voice in a World of #MeToo”

Happy 18th Birthday to My Boy

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My son turns 18 today. All he has asked for is a Zippo lighter with a puppy on it. He had an early celebration tonight with his dad, who cooked his favorite bacon burger and put him into a “food coma.” Tomorrow we will go to Red Lobster for the Endless Shrimp, at his request. His dad and I have been divorced for more than three years now and as we have ever since, we will celebrate the birthday together as a family. Because no matter what has come before or what may come after, for better or worse, we are family.

This is what family does.

I want to take a moment to give my boy a moment of appreciation. Recognition. My words, which have been my gift and at times, my curse, until I learned to use them wisely. Kindly. Always working on this. 🙂

My boy. How do I express everything that I feel at this moment, the night before you turn 18 and as you told me tonight, “Tomorrow I’m an adult!” I smile and say, one day at a time, kiddo!

* gulp *

My boy, almost a man yet still a boy, I want you to know that I remember everything. That first moment I felt you flutter in my stomach. I was in a literary grad school class Continue reading “Happy 18th Birthday to My Boy”