Running Shoes under a wedding gown

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Running away from fear, it’s a natural response to stimuli. When an animal senses danger, they tend to run far away from it. Simple survival tactic. What makes human different is that our species keep the courage to face the fear. Face the danger. Take risks. Come up with solutions. Running away might be the last option.

But it is so amusing to see, we- brave hearts – overpower death yet fear life, when life brings us to a hairpin turn called marriage.

What is scary? Why is it a big deal? May be we just realized we are trailing on a terrain? Maybe the process of finding a life partner, how she/he would turn out to be, or even how I would share a life with another person? When you come to think of it, it’s not just an adjustment like sharing a room –it’s a life time commitment to “sharing”. I happen to once read ‘life partner is going to be your parenting partner, someone who influences your children, your eating companion for about 20000 meals, your travel companion, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career and emotional therapist’. That is a lot in one. And that thought crowds my mind. But again isn’t sharing the foundation of happiness? Like a cherry on cake these contradictions had managed to mess my mind, unable to process what I really want. Giving it a little thought, Of course nowadays there are several platforms to discover your life partner,various stages of interaction set up to analyse if she/he fits the match and then reach an optimal solution. Such saviours and life guard apps. Yet to find love in marriage is dream come true for many. The atrocities we hear helps to fuels up the momentum and gets life rolling in the negative direction, because fear is a negative emotion.

As age climbs the number of steps to enlightenment, out there are additional pressures from family, friends, Mom’s friends, Mother of the daughter-in-law of our family friend, the fat sweet lady in the bakery down the street. Ha this list would not end. So the alarm buzzing in my head tells me to RUN. According to the author of Marriage, A History -Stephanie Coontz, for earlier generations the idea of marriage was to achieve security-financially, socially and personally making it possible to survive and reproduce. This idea exists in many orthodox societies around the world even today.

But my primary idea to get hitched would be to find love and happiness. Of course I wouldn’t call the practical weddings as love less, but the expectations largely differ from mine or shall I say “ours”?

This difference in idea is ‘The Fear’, and I run, run like Bolt in the opposite direction away from what I see as ‘Danger’.

And then there are these well wishers on the way standing like speed breakers – our parents, friends and all those closely attached to us, trying to help us slow down, letting us know that every person goes through this emotional roller coaster and storms of confusion. And yes, they all surpassed it.  But knowing that everybody else have been on the same boat as the one I am expected to board does not help my fear of sinking. Either I am listening to people who state practical terms like they are pitching a sales proposal or people who got really lucky with their life like they stepped out of a hallmark movie.

So my response to the current stimuli is to shoo them away. Because I am too scared to step on the boat at the first place. Consciously or sub consciously I manage to keep them away. And when I say that, I mean to hurt my well wisher’s feelings, so they would not drag me to my Titanic. Like I said earlier, life is on a roll in the negative direction, so all the empathy is temporarily shut down. I can only think of being selfish and protect myself. Let’s just say, the ability to think was out the window.

It is excruciatingly hard to turn back and walk to the maturity our age claims to be. But when we do, let me tell you, it is a beautiful sight. It often makes me wonder why did I want to run away from where I was.

I would not say, take the leap and jump into a marital life for our dear ones or succumb to any kind of pressures – that includes one’s depressing feeling of not having what others have. Take the leap only if it is your decision from heart. It might be beautiful, sometimes not. But it does not have to make us regret. It’s up to us to make a warm bright heaven in our little world or make a barren land of dessert with dunes of fears and expectations. Unexpected is adventurous. Shouldn’t we embrace it?! This beautiful world has much more to offer than gossip mongers. I believe that a life partner is a person who can help the other change for good, bring out the best in each other, make them a better person. If one such person does not come in to my life, there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. It is not mandatory for one such person to be in my life. It is certainly not a void. At the same time, neither is it a matter of worry that someone would come in and challenge me. I have my better sense to analyse and our species’ courage to take decisions.

I once read in a novel – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez,”Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”

When I try to run away and take shelter at the harbour of negative sea because of few gossip mongers, who have suddenly developed such great interest in my life, I realise I miss out so much on the beauty of life. When I tangle their thoughts and my fears, I suffocate and miss out to breathe in the love that surrounds me. When I push people away, I miss out to respect those who genuinely care and love me. I unknowingly bring the worst out of me, and that- without the help of the person I am scared will come in and do the same. So now, who actually brings the best and worst out of oneself?

Life is ours, decision is ours, experiences are ours and lessons to be learnt are ours. People around us only help us through. It is up to us to extract the best and leave the rest. And of course believe in Hope.

Yes, it’s not easy like Nicholas Sparks says in The Notebook-

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. You and me… everyday.”


It’s All in the Profile

By Kelli C. Trinoskey
My 20-year old daughter just joined Tinder and showed me a few of her swipes last night. Man, are those boys good looking. She told me she was coached by a guy friend that she had to be decisive when gauging her interest on who to swipe right. I am 47 and I recently joined Zoosk. At my age, you have to rely on more than staged and photoshopped photos to know whom to wink at, answer yes, no or maybe to wanting to meet (which means nothing) or send or answer messages. I may be in the minority, but I actually read profile names and actual profiles (after looking at the corresponding picture) to gauge word choice and tone. After all, word play is foreplay for a writer. If someone messages me, I feel I owe a response. Here are a few of the responses I thought up but didn’t send:

Dear Totally Lonely,
You quite obviously did not run your profile name by any of your gal pals, am I right? Don’t you have any female coworkers? Sisters? No?! An aunt?
You have to vet this shit or you are never going to hook up.
Even though I am sure there are many lovely ladies out there looking to take on another project, I am not one of them. I am so not into that shit anymore. I do not want to have to even contemplate having to change someone even a little bit. Not even a simple thing – like being the one to break it to a guy that mullets are not okay and the middle part is NOT back – let alone tackle black belt codependency.
Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially me.
Nevertheless, thanks for the message. It is nice to feel appreciated. Best of luck to you in finding that special gal.

Dear Looking for #1,
Sadly, you are going to have to keep looking. I do not know if you noticed that not only are we from totally different cities, we are from two different regions of the US. That would mean a lot of miles to cover for a first date, don’t you think? I drive a hybrid but still.
I did want to thank you for the Teddy Bear gift. I haven’t figured out to do any of the bells and whistles yet but hope to find five extra seconds between my full time job and my three kids to really spruce up my profile and wink at a few of you fine men.
Best of luck to you in finding someone closer to home. (Unless you are a trucker or something and you don’t care how far you have to drive for a date.)

Dear Nerdy One,
You had me at nerd. You even have the nerd glasses going on. I think most girls are secretly turned on by nerds. One thing though, in your message you asked me about my picture. I know, I was lazy and I didn’t crop out my three beautiful girls, totally my bad. But, if you were a true nerd, would you have missed a typo in your question to me – “witch one are you?” And can you really not discern which one is the mom?
I am guessing you are not the kind of guy to play scrabble for hours by a fire in the winter? Or cuddle on the couch reading The New York Times on Sundays? Or watch Jeopardy? (See, I am a nerd too)
So sorry, but you and I would never work, trust me on this.
I hope you find a gal who is not a stickler for spelling or proper use of homonyms.
​ ​

Dear “A Few Extra Pounds”,
After you sent me a wink, I looked at your profile pictures. You saying that you have a ‘few extra pounds’ is a bit of a stretch. Do not get me wrong, I am all for honesty. I appreciate that in a guy. However, you are in some serious denial. You might want to get off your computer and your couch and walk that dog that is licking your face in your profile picture. Looks like he/she could use some exercise as well. Just saying.
I hope you find that special girl who likes you for you. I have to go to yoga to tackle my ass cellulite so I can contemplate getting naked with someone I meet on this dating site

After over a month, I’ve moved to texting with two guys which seems to be the online dating next step. It’s actually a nice and natural step because then you don’t have to be on the actual dating site which leads to more winks, views, and general stalking because others know when you are there and there is an inevitable flood of chat requests and messages from guys hoping for a response in real time. I have gone on six dates (all with the same guy). Things have cooled a bit so it is back to the proverbial drawing board. What I have learned? It’s all in the profile. Words written in black and white that can be read, re-read, analyzed and over analyzed (things I do really well) hold clues to a person’s priorities and self image. How attributes are listed and i
​n​ what order, says a lot. What is written and what is left out speaks volumes.
I have decided to commit to a profile name other than Zoosk member 00747 (not my real
​id as ​I want to deter millions of messages). I also rewrote my profile with descriptors culled from the many great profiles I have read:

I am the total package; brains, beauty and buoyancy. I love three girls, my job and my life which means I work really hard to get up every day, kick ass and then repeat. I do yoga and work out to stay sane. I am legit no drama and make time for the important things. I like to laugh, a lot and will generally try anything once. (Please keep all thoughts right now PG, while I may not be a princess, I am a ladyJ)

How to Lose Your Verbal…

How to Lose Your Verbal Filter (and Be the Best Version of Yourself)

by L


Results cannot be guaranteed. I am not to be blamed, sued or held liable for your actions, as well as results not meeting the reader’s expectations. Not all non-filters are the same. This guide is not the one-pill-solution for your problems.

My Story.

I’ve struggled communicating my thoughts and feelings since I was a kid — and I still do. It might have had to do with the way my parents raised me (and the way their parents raised them). It took time but I eventually removed my verbal filter, which was preventing me from communicating my thoughts and feelings. Why bother doing that?

I was getting awful headaches, because I would think too much. I also a unhappy kid; I thought everyone was out to get me and I had a chip on my shoulder. Luckily, my older brother helped me lose my verbal filter; he helped me realize that I needed to communicate these thoughts and ideas, because people can’t read minds and they might not be cognizant of their actions. The process of losing my filter was a long and arduous one.

Once I lost it, I realized how this skill can be used in various situations. Here’s one story that comes to mind:

I was walking home with a friend, Lawrence, when I saw this gentleman attempting to pick up/hit on a woman from across the street (if you’re going to do it, do it right; cross the street and be respectful); he yelled, asking her for different means of communication, from her phone number to every type of social media you can think of. She denied his request for her phone number. Then she denied the first social media account he asked for, but then silently ignored the requests that followed, continuing to walk to her destination. As he went down the list of social media accounts, I said (loudly), “she’s not interested!” The woman laughed.

While that might not have been the safest thing to do, I felt liberated saying something. Why? Because I’ve also loathed that type of treatment towards women and I wanted to do something about it.

This guide is written to encourage inner dialogue and ask yourself questions that you normally wouldn’t answer, because 1) it pains you to think about them 2) you “don’t have time” to think about them 3) you get an unsettling feeling of discomfort when you think about them or other people ask you about them.

With that said, it is my hope that this guide will give you the answers to the questions you have within. As a result of awakening your inner dialogue, it is my hope that your communication improves and learn from my mistakes.

Question (and reflection).

Don’t stop asking them. Ask lots of questions. Learning is a never ending process. There will be times where you’ll get answer to questions you wished you never asked in the first place, but tough shit. That’s life. This curiosity will help you lose your filter.

Ask yourself the following questions and reflect on your answers:

Why do we fear what we want most?
Why do some individuals have the courage to walk up to strangers and ask them whether they’ve weird sex positions?
What do you think are some behavioral characteristics that are holding you back from achieving your goals?
How do you speak to people when you are upset?
What’s your biggest fear?
What do you want?

Let these questions bake in your oven (especially the ones that either made you giggle or think I’m a complete pervert). You should always be striving to improve. Think the crap-out-of the last question. Dig real deep.

Nice people don’t finish last — Passive people do.

I believe the “nice people finish last” saying came to be, because people who are too nice also happen to be passive, which is why they finish last. This led to people pointing their finger at the nice trait as the culprit for finishing last, when in fact it was because they were passive.

If you’re passive, now is time to change. It will be a difficult habit/trait to change, especially if you’re not aware of this trait. You’ll need to devote conscious thought to your how you interact with others. If you’re been fortunate enough to have people point out this behavior, it might be something to to work on. Ask yourself: why and where is this passive behavior comes from? Accepting this is the first of many actions you’ll need to take. Give yourself the change you deserve. If continue to stay passive, you’ll never get what you want and you might end up with one of these:

Example of being passive: not saying something that bothers you to a partner or sibling.

I’m a Tumor, I’m a tumor, I’m a Tumor, I’m a Tumor… I’m a Tumor: Those Negative Voices in Your Head (Do not skip over this section, even if you don’t get these).

The more you resist your feelings, the more they persist. Unfortunately, there will be times when you have to hold keep your mouth shut. Being mentally tough and not letting little things bother you is important. While I agree that mental strength is everything, it should not be confused with brushing things under the rug. This is not a sign of mental toughness. 

Stay focused and limiting distractions is great; it helps you achieve your goals. It hard to find the fine line of letting your mind wander too much and ignoring problems over prolong periods. After all, ignoring things that bother you only leads to tumors.

With that said, you should not avoid your feelings — ever. It’s perfectly natural to feel sad and a myriad of other emotions; and it’s perfectly okay to let yourself feel and accept said emotions. 

Keep Striving to Improve.

One should always be aiming to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes we fall off track; we might say we’re putting in the work, but we’re not actually putting in the work. It’s okay, we all fall off track sometimes. But at a certain point you need to get off your ass and just do the work.

This is the difficult, but most important thing. Don’t dwell on lost time, because you can’t get it back; it’s gone. Just keep plugging away at whatever you’re trying to improve; whether that’s your mind, body or even spiritually. Try working on something that you’ve been putting off. Striving to be the best version of you is imperative when trying to lose your verbal filter. This is paramount because we improve our persistence and perseverance muscles, which we build through the achieving our personal goals.

Throughout the journey to losing your filter (and even after), you’ll have unfortunate slipups; you’ll stutter, word things the wrong way, say ridiculous things that are out of character and would never actually do. You might even say something so ridiculous that the person you’re speak with will probably hold your words against your for the rest of your life. You’ll be fine, as long as you get back up and keep at it.

Lose that motherf*$@ing filter: Wording, The Five Second Rule, “The Technique” and Staying Humble.

You can’t walk around saying whatever you want to whoever you want. You’ll just come off as a jackass. Trust me… I know. With that said, mindfulness is key. Here’s why:

The comprehension of ideas and thoughts depends on 1) how they are worded and 2) how these words and ideas are comprehended by the person hearing them.

This process is comparable to doing something that terrifies you. Ultimately, you’ll have to make the plunge, even if the steps you take are small ones. Each of the steps you take should make you feel uncomfortable. At any given point, you might try to talk yourself out of what you were thinking of doing or saying, with more excuses than a kid trying to get out of doing homework; if that sounds familiar, you’re on the right track.

If you’re in this position, think about the following: why would you stop yourself from doing something you want to do, especially if it’s something you wanted to do for a while now? Secondly, don’t cheat yourself out of living your life to the fullest. I happened to stumbled upon this video months after I started writing the guide, but it explains the aforementioned concept exceptionally well.

How to say it

Before you verbalize your thoughts, you need to learn how to say it. You’re obviously going to mess up in the beginning and have a few bad interactions to realize (although my brother pointed it out to me hundreds of times) that you need to remove all emotion from what you are saying. You must also be empathetic when it’s called for and be cognizant of context; meaning, who you’re speaking with and where you are. For the most part, this should be an effective way to debunk communication issues and insulting people.

In theory, removing emotion prevents conversations from turning hostile; it also allows the recipient(s) of your words to hear your words and not your emotions, which makes what you’re trying to communicate easier to comprehend as it can be difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time — your words when you’re yelling (or passive aggressive tone). Don’t believe me?

Try listening to two people talking to you at the same time. You probably won’t be able to will not understand both of them, probably will not remember a bulk of what they said and, more importantly, it can be extremely frustrating.

The 5 second rule

For the indecisive person in us all — we have the 5 second rule. (I’ve used this technique for years’, without giving it a name. I didn’t know it is a widely-known concept until I started writing this guide). Write down those thoughts or ideas down. This is a way to “marry” your actions, and will help you take action. Don’t try to suppress them.

There’s a 50/50 shot that things will work out the way they want them to. For example, you like someone and you want to ask them out. You’re scared, though. The person you ask out will either say, “yes” or “no.” Relation it to your situation you have nothing to lose (provided you not gambling or putting yourself in a life situation).

Maybe you have a reasonable fear that’s holding you back. If it might get you in trouble, I would advise against acting on. How do you decide whether to act on your thoughts if you only have 5 seconds to marry it?

“Fuck Yes” or “Fuck No”.

The Fuck Yes or No concept was created by Mark Manson. I do not own it. After messing up numerous times and teaching a friend or two how to lose their filters, I implemented his concept as it seemed to be the most logical way to teach someone how to make decisions in relation to the 5 second rule. Leave this concept out and you’ll find yourself in trouble; I know I’ve have and sometimes still do.

Asking yourself “Fuck Yes,” or “Fuck No” before doing something you might regret, is a good way to decide on whether to say what you want to say (and in some cases act on your thoughts). You don’t want to get fired from your job, because you want to flip off your boss employer; it might come back to bite you later in your professional career. Use common sense.

That being said, people need mouth time — just like a motorcyclists and drivers need road time — you need time to experiment talking without your verbal filter. You’re obviously going to need to learn from your mistakes.

Always ask yourself (within five seconds), before you open your mouth or act on something: will I get in trouble, smacked, fired, or will any bodily harm (that you think of) happen if I say or do this? If the answer is “fuck yes,” then I would keep your pants (or skirt) on and/or your mouth shut; if it’s “fuck no,” do and say as you please.

Stay Humble.

Losing your verbal filter doesn’t give you the right to act like a douchebag. Douchebags don’t reflect and they don’t think about what they say or do; they just say and do as they please. If you say something wrong, own up to it and apologize and try to see the other person’s perspective. I would even go as far as watching how they react to what you say, because some people might have difficulty confronting you.

Keep in mind that there are people out there who will not be able to handle your frankness (remember it’s all in your delivery), which is completely understandable. They might have to do with the way they were raised or past experiences they’ve had. But I digress, douchebags don’t know how to apologize and they think they’re always right. The world doesn’t need anymore douchebags. There’s plenty of them — they can be bought in stores.

Some food for thought: Don’t forget how small you are in comparison to the size of the world, our galaxy and the universe — and things which inhabit them.

Mental Health.

Holding in your thoughts and feelings can be detrimental to your health, both mentally and in some cases, physically; some people experience headaches when they overthink scenarios and situations. Holding in your feelings can also affect your personal relationships. This is why losing your verbal might be able to relieve some of these pains.

For those who are bullied, or if you have the occasional rude comment thrown at you, don’t be afraid to use your voice. Make people aware that are making you feel uncomfortable or taking advantage of you; whether that be sexually (Please look for a clear description of what that a sexual crime is and use good judgement. If someone has committed a crime against you, report it to officials, etc), financially or otherwise.

Of course, things are always easier said than done. Remember that not all situations are permanent. If you are reading this and experiencing shattered confidence, because of a traumatic experience or you just don't feel like like yourself anymore, recall every difficult situation you’ve overcome in the past. Looking back, it probably wasn’t too hard; or if it was, reflect on how it made you into a stronger individual. You’re not the only person experiencing a roadblock and you can move past it. Hopefully, accepting all the feelings you’re currently feeling and losing your verbal filter, will help you get on your path to being the best version of you. 

Now What?

Losing your filter is learning when to keep your mouth shut and when it open it. Everyone has their reasons to lose their verbal filter. The question I’d like you to ask yourself is: what will I do once I removed it?

What happens once you accomplish everything you set out to achieve? Think about giving back. Give back to those around you; they need our help. Think about those who are afraid to speak up at college campuses, bars, those who ride public transportation and walk the streets — they might not speak up when they are verbally harassed or are being physically or mentally abused. Speak up for them. Make eye contact with them. Make their presence know. Use your filter for those who have not lost theirs… yet.


Thanks again for letting me…

Thanks again for letting me join the fun! 🙂
This is a piece I wrote last year after being accosted by a family member with opinions. Readers liked it (they’re used to my mild snark), but I want to change the tone a bit. It’s a little too “finger-pointy,” I think. *When I copied it here, the numbers changed and for some reason I can’t see them to correct in edit mode.

Scientists HATE this Shocking New Trick to Lose 30 Pounds (and to Keep Adoptive Friends)

I heard a story about a guy who grew up to be a scientist because his mom encouraged him to ask good questions.

Any adoptive parent can tell you: people ask awful questions. They don’t intend to be hurtful, rude or insensitive. We watch eyes widen in horror as someone realizes, “I should not have said…”

I’d like to share a few “shocking tricks” to keeping your adoptive friends; things NOT to say or ask.

We’ll also address weight loss.

  1. “Do you know where their real family is?”
    We ARE their real family. We get up in the middle of the night to ameliorate the terror of nightmares. We clean up the puke. We take them to school. We bandage the boo-boos. We hold them tight while they try to understand what the hell happened to all the people they used to know.

We take them to appointments for the counselor, doctor, play therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist and every other type of -ist you can imagine.

We comfort them every time we leave a birthday party, a play date, a family weekend, a camping trip. They freak out with every departure because, in their experience, separation means you might never see someone again.

We stay up all night with them as they scream in the throes of PTSD.

You want to know the whereabouts of the sperm and egg donors who caused these children to end up in the foster care system. I want to know: who gives a Rattus norvegicus’ derriere?

  1. “Does she look like her birth parents?”
    Even if I have this information, how is it relevant—and for that matter, why do you need to know? Adoptive parents generally don’t even want to think about those people, much less consider how their genes may have transferred.
  2. “Why did you/didn’t you change his name?”
    Because adoptive parents are allowed to choose.

However, in the spirit of friendly informing, I’ll add this as follow-up: We gave ours a new name to provide them with a way to identify as part of the new family.

In most of my adoptive friends (and our) cases, we gave the children a name in addition to the name they acquired at birth. We happened to put the new name in the middle, which, in our case, was unfortunate. Both of our children prefer the adoptive name we’ve given them, and get annoyed when people use their legal name (doctors, substitute teachers reading roll call from the “official” list, etc.) instead of their middle.

Our son is adamant that he now wants the middle name as a first name and wants to take Hubby’s middle name as his own. He’s stuck by this for almost two years, so that’s what we call him, but we’re not allowing him to change it legally until he’s 13. By then, he may change his mind.

  1. “Why did you/didn’t you adopt a child who looks like you?”
    Children are children. Children who need homes…need homes. Why should we care whether the children look like us or not? Yes, transracial adoption comes with its own set of issues, but same-race adoption can be just as difficult. Sometimes cultural differences are huge, even within the same ethnic community.

Based on the demographics of where we lived the first ten years of our marriage, Hubby and I fully expected to have a brown rainbow in our house once we started adopting. At the outset, I was pulling for a total of five boys of all different ethnic backgrounds. I thought it would be an amazing way to expand their horizons (and ours), learning about all the different cultures and proving that yes, we really CAN all get along (ah, the sweet innocence of inexperience). I spent four years braiding hair for my African-American neighbor’s daughter in case we ended up with a girl or two (fun fact: my “volumizing” conditioner was NOT interchangeable for her smoothing hair product).

God laughed at all my planning and dropped mini-me and mini-Hubby in our laps. They look so much like us that I have been stopped THREE TIMES by strangers asking if I cloned my daughter. If only they knew.

We all look alike, but sometimes I do wonder…can’t we all just get along?

  1. “Didn’t you want a child of your own?” and “Did you try everything else already? I hear they’re making great strides with IVF.”
    Seriously? These children ARE our own. I don’t understand why giving birth becomes such an important factor. This only applies to “your” children. Did you give birth to your cousins? I don’t think so (unless you live somewhere that doesn’t frown on such things). And yet, no one asks, “Are those YOUR OWN cousins?”

For us, no, we did not “try everything else,” because we had our sights set on adoption long before my Lupus became an issue. Some of my friends were desperate to carry a child; that’s never been a big deal to me. Luckily, Hubby didn’t care one way or the other, either. God matched us up just right and we couldn’t be happier with the way things are.

Except when we run out of ice cream. When we’re out of butter pecan ice cream, I could be happier with the way things are. But lack of ice cream is rare, so…

Several of my friends pursued fertility treatments. Some were successful. A number failed in a miserable mess. So, let me ask you: if you’ve had a heartbreaking defeat, do you want to discuss it? Didn’t think so.

People don’t say, “Hey, I hear your interviews were awful and you didn’t get any of the jobs. Did you try proofreading your resume?” or “I heard you’re trying to build a house but didn’t qualify for the loan. That’s a bummer. Have you tried selling your current home first?” We don’t stick our noses into those situations, because (unless we’re a professional in the field), we can’t help. Why in the world is it okay to give advice about adoption and trying to make babies?

The exception would be if you’re a fertility doctor, IVF professional or are willing to provide an egg / sperm sample.

And even so—be very sure they want the offer of assistance before you start digging that hole.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for—how to lose 30 lbs:

  1. If you find yourself asking too many questions and you see your adoptive friend’s eye beginning to twitch, get a roll of duct tape.
    Cover your mouth securely with the tape. Three or four layers should suffice. Carefully use a pen or Xacto knife to poke a small hole in the tape. Insert straw. Blend up a smoothie. Sip away. Ask your friend to let you know the optimal time for removal of duct tape. Likely, he will suggest a four-to-six week span of silence, followed by a probationary period.

Follow the duct-tape-smoothie diet and you’ll lose up to 30 pounds in six weeks. You’re welcome.

Here’s the thing.

We all know you mean well and don’t intend to cause pain. If you have sincere questions, we’re truly happy to answer them. (But for the love of all that’s holy, don’t ask in front of the kids—or for that matter, if they’re within a football-field distance. Kids have ears like bats, especially if the topic is them.)

I recommend letting your friend know you have questions, then asking if it’s okay to email or call him. Also, ask her if she’s comfortable receiving questions right now. Sometimes, when the kids are crazy hyenas, we just don’t have enough brain capacity left.

  1. The question that is ALWAYS okay to ask: “How can I help you today? I’m not leaving until you give me something to do.”
    Especially if you see your friend’s left eye twitching, she will welcome this question. When you have a zillion questions, first channel that inquisitive energy into doing something helpful. Taking the time for a two minute conversation with the four year old, coloring with the seven year old, helping the ten year old clean up the mess in her room that accurately represents the pre-pubescent-hormonal-angst-disaster in her head…all these things can make a world of difference to a frazzled adoptive parent.

One last thing: take time to ask good questions.*

*Good questions will not result in weight loss but may prevent mild to moderate friend loss. Also, you might become a scientist.

“How Would You Refer To John Wayne As A Kid?” – On Using Trans Folks Names

(a guest post from Rani Baker)

“In the once upon a time days of the First Age of Magic, the prudent sorcerer regarded his own true name as his most valued possession but also the greatest threat to his continued good health, for–the stories go–once an enemy, even a weak unskilled enemy, learned the sorcerer’s true name, then routine and widely known spells could destroy or enslave even the most powerful.” – Vernor Vinge, True Names

Show of hands, how many people know Freddy Mercury’s birth name off the top of their head?

Yeah I thought so.

What’s in a name? What does it mean? It can mean quite a bit, really. It can affect all sorts of aspects of how we navigate through life. Actors change them to further their careers, musicians and performance artists adopt monikers that bestow an air of mystery. But even regular everyday people choose names and reinvent their identities all the time, and it’s something most people get to take for granted. If someone suddenly decided to, say, go by their middle name instead of their first or preferred an informal shortening of their name, nearly everyone would take it in stride without a second thought. My boyfriend changed his name to one that sounds like a super-villain. Someone calling out their previous or full legal name would sound like an uncomfortable and needless formality at best and an unwelcome imposition at worst,

Yet, as a trans woman, I’ve seen scores of acquaintances, potential suitors, and even outright strangers asking what my birth-name was. After death, families have intervened and overridden the wishes of their deceased (and legal name change) to literally bury them under the old name. People on the internet treat digging up and publicly announcing mine and other trans folks old names like an actual game (4chan-types have taken to referring to it as a “Power-word”). In the trans community, we colloquially refer to the former name as our “deadname”.

Dennis invited me to this Writer Workshop specifically to talk about trans folks and names, specifically regarding discussion surrounding Caitlyn Jenner. Well, articles have already been written about that, and have done a really fine job. Also, I’m just really bad at doing the whole “Trans 101” song and dance. The stuff I usually write about is a bit more complicated. For this, I’m gonna toss around some anecdotes and analogies on the subject that I’ve bounced around in my head for years now at this point, and I guess we’ll see what sticks.

How many times have you seen an article that takes the time to spell out the birth names of folks like Lady Gaga, Snooki, Bono, etc? Or even folks like Che Guevara, Joseph Stalin, or Mother Theresa? Bob Hope? Jack White? Unless the name change is directly related to the premise of the article, rarely if ever. Yet this is a constant in coverage of trans folks whether they are celebrities or murder victims. The birth name remains in there as a deliberate invalidation, a rhetorical anchor to “who they really are”. And it’s transparently one-sided; Nicolas Cage can name himself after a comic book character and that’s ok, yet trans folks lived existence is considered invalid and respecting it is frivolous somehow.

This sense of entitlement to ownership of trans folks birth names is both condescending and paternalistic. Think back to a time when a parent referred to you with your full name: first, middle, and last. It implied you were in trouble, right? It implies disapproval. Like you are about to be put in your place somehow.

Not to mention that frequently the birth name carries a lot of heavy emotional weight. An alarming amount of trans folks are alienated or estranged from their families, or may have been disowned. Some of us cough were originally named after family members we’ve had decades of tension with. If someone were to change their name after a divorce, would you consciously continue to associate them with the spouse they left? I’d prefer to believe not.

Now I’m not talking about accidental mistakes by folks who knew said trans folks before transition. I’m referring to distinctive efforts to reveal or coerce out a previous name, or insistence on use of a name they no longer go by publicly. What are you really intending to say?

And this is regardless of your opinion about the variable “truth” of transgender lived experience, identity and perspective. I’ve watched in fascination as folks that famously disbelieve “born this way” narratives of inherent identity appeal to the birth name of trans folks as if the name itself contains an aspect of their true nature. Like a strangely spiritual totem of a narrative they desire to reframe them under.

What is in a name, really?

Draft 2. Feels a little choppy… thoughts?

In Defense of “Mommy Shaming”

When I had a baby, I was prepared. I had researched everything from breastfeeding to Montessori school. I had bought everything from a crib to orthopedically-correct toddler shoes. My car seat was installed, and my husband had taken swaddling lessons. I was prepared.
I had been told all about the inevitable unsolicited advice that would be coming from the women that hadn’t birthed a child since the Eisenhower era. I was prepared to smile gracefully and forget any and all advice that involved using chicken bones as teethers (not making that one up, it’s real advice).
What I wasn’t prepared for was the onslaught of blogs, lists, status updates, and commenters that would pathologically spout the new company line: “her child, her choice.”
Facebook seems to have become the new neighborhood playground for swapping mommy stories about whose toddler throws the worst grocery store tantrums, asking for advice on funny-colored bowel movements (hopefully the child’s), and getting a sympathetic shoulder when you haven’t slept in three days and you’re seriously contemplating running away and joining the circus. I myself am a member of no less than four different mom groups, each with a different purpose, and all with a standing rule about being supportive. No matter what.
I was browsing Facebook recently, and a woman posted in one of these groups asking why her pediatrician was telling her to keep her 1 year old rear facing in her car seat. Many women came back with statistics, reports, scientific studies, and crash test videos enforcing a simple fact of physics: keeping children rear-facing is safer. By an approximate margin of 500%. This isn’t debatable. It’s fact. And when one woman came on and said that it was totally acceptable to turn your 11 month old around because it would make them happier, I jumped in with a little shame.
This was obviously a woman that had no interest in logic, reason, or avoiding potential death. She was making parenting decisions based on the same logic that the state of Kentucky used writing its motorcycle helmet laws. Hint: there aren’t any.
This wasn’t the time to sit back and remain quiet while a woman chose to raise her kids with an unnatural affinity for Bob Dylan. This was the time to make her feel terrible for making parenting decisions based on what was convenient, what was easy, and what made her infant smile like she’d just given him Cookie Crisp for dinner.
I stated that distributing that particular brand of parenting while ignoring every ounce of, you know, science, in the world was irresponsible. And I got immediately called out for “mommy shaming.”
There are studies on everything from public vs. private school, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, and even what color of nightlight promotes the healthiest sleep. Most of these choices make a minimal impact at best. Putting your kid in Kindergarten at 6 instead of five gives them an educational advantage, but only until about the fourth grade. Breastfeeding has developmental and immunological benefits, but not as much previously touted. And by God, don’t buy a blue night light.
But then there are the opinions that can have potentially fatal consequences. For your own child, and even for other people’s.
Everyone has their own opinion, and you know what, sometimes those opinions are wrong. But according to every mom with access to a keyboard, you are only allowed to speak those opinions with all the love and acceptance of a Daniel Tiger episode. No hint of judgement. And God forbid you actually question the decision of another mom. That will get you thrown right into mommy jail, where Cailliou is stuck on repeat, and you’re forced to eat cold leftovers covered in toddler drool for all of eternity.
But you know what, shame is a powerful motivator. Shame is the foundation of the social contract. If no one ever felt bad about themselves and the consequences of their decisions, our world would be unlivable. Shame keeps us from indulging our every primal whim. Shame is what keeps (most) people from singing loudly to Abba with the windows down in rush hour traffic. Shame makes our society more livable.
And if shame will keep a child from contracting an infectious disease, or from getting paralyzed in a car crash, then I say bring on the stocks!
As a parent, you will run into this particular brand of molly-coddling in a couple of specific areas. It is also a rampant theme in the vaccination debate. The vaccinators have every piece of science, logic, and reason on their sides. But no matter how many time you present studies, or facts, or mortality rates, the anti-vaccinators just ignore it and bring up a new and more ridiculous argument.
The problem comes in when you’re dealing with people so overwhelmed with hormones, and love, and squishy baby thighs that they can’t listen to reason. They can only listen to the pieces of advice that make their tiny little monsters squeal and giggle with delight. This is an entirely natural reaction, and I understand it completely. But when that decision affects the health and safety of your child, or god forbid, the health and safety of MY child, then it’s no longer “your child, your choice.” It’s now my time to step in and call you out for being an idiot.
Because endangering your child is cause for concern, and a little ridicule. And endangering my child is with absolutely no valid reason is shameful.


So, this is a piece…

So, this is a piece that I’m planning to submit to the Scary Mommy blog. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a mostly-humorous/irreverent take on parenting (aimed at moms, obviously).

Toddler Development: A Realistic Assessment
This simple test will help you determine if your toddler is hitting all the appropriate developmental milestones.

Gross Motor Skills
Does your child:
a. Pull self up to stand
b. Pull self up to stand using exclusively furniture upon which hot cups of coffee are balanced
c. Pull self up to stand using sibling’s hair

Does your child:
a. Squat to pick up a toy
b. Squat to pick up a toy belonging to child next to him, then hit child in face repeatedly when she tries to take toy back
c. Squat to pick up dog poop

Does your child:
a. Walk independently
b. Walk independently, but stumble randomly over invisible obstacles and regularly run into walls, so that other parents secretly think you are spiking your child’s bottle with whiskey
c. Run immediately into the street whenever allowed outdoors

Does your child:
a. Climb onto and down from couch or chair unsupported
b. Climb onto and down from bookcase unsupported, allowing her to reach the one unchipped decorative item in remaining in your house
c. Climb onto roof

Fine Motor Skills

Does your child:
a. Pick up a cheerio with thumb/index finger
b. Pick up a piece of cat food with thumb/index finger
c. Pick up a piece of cat food with thumb/index finger and quickly shove it up his nose

Does your child:
a. Scribble spontaneously
b. Scribble spontaneously on wall
c. Scribble spontaneously on wall with permanent marker

Does your child:
a. Stack four or more blocks
b. Stack four or more blocks, then cry uncontrollably for 10 minutes when his block tower falls over after she tries to stack a fifth block
c. Mostly just throw blocks at your nose

Does your child:
a. Put objects in a big container
b. Put objects in a big container with an opening too small for an adult hand
c. Put your car keys in a big container with an opening too small for an adult hand

Does your child
a. Turn over container to pour out contents
b. Turn over container to pour out graham crackers on your bed
c. Turn over container to pour out paint all over the kitchen floor. At your in-laws’ house.

Does your child
a. Poke with index finger
b. Poke eye with index finger
c. Poke neighbor’s dog’s eye with index finger

Language Development

Does your child:
a. Respond to no
b. Respond to no by screaming and throwing body repeatedly on ground until you must drag her away writhing and wailing, causing onlookers to assume you are a child abductor
c. Respond to no by rolling eyes

Does your child:
a. Use one word in addition to mama or dada
b. Use one word in addition to mama or dada, over and over again at the top of his lungs, but only at times/in places where you really need him to be quiet
c. Use one word in addition to mama or dada. It’s a swear word.

Does your child:
a. Repeat sounds or actions to get attention
b. Repeat the phrase “poo-poo stinkhead butterfly” to get attention
c. Break things to get attention

Does your child:
a. Point to items she wants
b. Pull on your face until it points to the item she wants
c. Wait until you are out of the room to get items she wants but knows she isn’t supposed to have

Does your child:
a. Respond to simple verbal commands
a. Respond to simple verbal commands with a primal scream reminiscent of a scene from Saw
b. Pointedly ignore simple verbal commands

Problem Solving

Does your child:
a. Explore objects in many different ways
b. Explore breakable objects in many different ways
c. Explore breakable objects that belong to other people in many different ways

Does your child:
a. Find hidden things easily
b. Find hidden “adults-only” things easily
c. Find hidden “adults-only” things easily, and proudly show them to your grandmother when she comes for a visit

Does your child:
a. Start to use things correctly; for example, drink from a cup, brush hair
b. Start to use things correctly; for example, drink from your wineglass, lock bathroom door from inside
c. Attempt to use the car correctly

Does your child:
a. Hand you a book when he wants to hear a story
b. Hand you a book when he wants to hear a story, even though you have purposefully “hidden” it in the trash can so you never have to read it again
c. Hand you an iPad when he wants to hear a story

Personal/Social Skills
Does your child:
a. Test parental responses to his actions during feedings
b. Test parental response to his actions during feedings by throwing spaghetti
c. Test parental responses to his actions during feedings by throwing spaghetti so many times that you now eat all meals on the dining room floor

Does your child:
a. Extends arm or leg to help when getting dressed
b. Extend arm or leg to help when getting dressed, wait until clothes are nearly on, then wriggle out of clothes so you have to start over again
c. Extend leg to kick you when getting dressed

Does your child:
a. Imitate behavior of others, especially adults and older children
b. Imitate behavior of others, especially that one really bratty kid at daycare
c. Imitate behavior of your dog


#musings So this needs work…

So this needs work with the beginning and ending and transitions and consistency in tone…

Teachers go kind of crazy in the summertime. We conceive of all kinds of projects to improve our homes, our classrooms, our teaching practice, our ambitious selves, and imagine that two months will be enough time to accomplish all this, and also take a well-earned vacation. This summer I decided to try to recapture something that I had enjoyed as a teenager: ballet dancing. I signed up for dance classes at a local university’s dance program. I’m the mom of a toddler, about to turn 31, and I haven’t danced seriously since I was 16, but I definitely needed the exercise.

I walked into the first dance class, the one advertised as “level 1-2,” and shrank inside a little. All the other women were at least 10 years younger than me, some as young as 13, barely post-pubescent, all thin and poised in classical ballet attire: black leotard, pink tights, and hair in a severe bun. I was wearing black tights and a workout top, with a ponytail that exposed my gray roots.

After I took a place at the barre, the instructor explained detailed series of exercises, demonstrating in a perfunctory way that assumed lots of knowledge on the parts of her students. She rattled off lots of steps in a complicated sequence, clearly expecting us to remember them all after hearing them only once, and be able to do them to the front, side, back and side, then turn around and do them on the left.

I was lucky enough to be positioned behind the hotshot dancer of the room, a tall girl in pointe shoes with bright blush on her high cheekbones. Keeping my eyes glued to her feet helped me to approximate the steps. That’s really as close as I got: an approximation. My mind knew the steps, but my feet had forgotten them. Before we were halfway through the first combination, I realized my ancient ballet slippers no longer fit me at all. And then we had to turn around, and I floundered until I found another girl to watch, aware all the time that little Margot Fonteyn behind me could see all my mistakes.

We spent most of the class at the barre, pausing between combinations for the instructor to talk about body alignment and which muscles did what when we did the different movements. She asked the girls questions about why they were moving the way they did and troubleshot the various steps with us. One of the messages I remember was the idea that exertion isn’t always the way to execute a step correctly: some steps must be relaxed into, or perform themselves automatically if the body is positioned right. At the very end of class, we did a combination across the floor. It included a pirouette, which I’d totally forgotten how to do. Did you pick up the front or back foot? Which way did you turn? I made sure I had a position in the back and fumbled my way through it.

Walking out of the class, I expected to feel horrible after an hour and a half of staring at my body in skintight clothes standing next to skinny girls half my age. That’s how I would have felt if I’d taken these classes when I was in high school. I would have felt chubby and outclassed, and I might have quit. But to my surprise, I didn’t feel that way at all now. My standards had been radically lowered by 15 years without dancing (and maybe motherhood had something to do with it too). Comparisons no longer even made sense. Instead of feeling discouraged and jealous, I was proud of myself for showing up at all. I was able to look at myself in those floor-to-ceiling mirrors and notice that I did still have a waist, and my collarbones looked nice, and, whoa, my feet had beautiful high arches. Yeah, I messed up the steps, but I liked doing the graceful arm movements and the way tondus and plies made my legs feel strong.

In trying to take apart my body image issues and self-consciousness with a counselor once, I admitted that what I was really afraid of was being the ugly girl in the room. I was always hyper-aware of an unspoken hierarchy of women in any room, from the most beautiful and put-together to the least, and I feared being in the bottom of these rankings. What I discovered as the oldest and least-coordinated woman in ballet class was that when you’ve already clearly “lost” the nonexistent competition it becomes fairly easy to stop giving any fucks at all. Maybe this is one of the reasons why aging is supposed to be so liberating for women. When you’re out after the first round of the continuous beauty pageant that is life as a woman, you find you have other things to worry about besides pointless looks-based competition. You can concentrate on learning the steps instead of sucking in your belly and making duck faces in the mirror.

I’ve read tons of body-acceptance essays, and seen all the memes telling moms to be proud of their “tiger stripe” stretch marks. I agree with these ideas intellectually and politically, but my emotions always refused to buy in completely. Some stubborn part of me insisted that beauty standards exist, and no amount of self-acceptance erases the fact that others will judge us by them. And no matter how much you pretend other people’s opinions don’t matter, those opinions determine the way we get treated, and it’s pretty hard to feel good about yourself if people either treat you like crap or ignore you all the time.

I’m still kind of skeptical about body-acceptance messages that dismiss the hard work of unlearning shame or that pretend self-acceptance is a thing that happens once and for all, rather than a continuing process. But I also think that a lot of that concern for other people’s opinions is sometimes just a projection of a poor self-assessment. It might be hard to believe, but other people are just as self-concerned as you are. That’s why dance teachers encourage self-conscious students by saying, “Don’t worry about the others. They’re all focused on themselves. No one is watching you.” And it was true: the other girls were just so much scenery to me after a while, something to watch to help me keep up with the steps. I wondered if they paid so little attention to me, in turn, that despite my workout top and gray hair I might have actually blended in.

Even though I didn’t become a prima ballerina, or even recapture much of the skill I had half a lifetime ago, I consider the class a success for me. I did something risky, that made me feel nervous and on display, and I survived. Yeah, if I thought about it too much, it was kind of depressing to lower my standards to mere survival, but if I never did that I wouldn’t try new things and grow. I knew I would stink at ballet, but I signed up for the class anyway, and that choice necessitated accepting failure ahead of time. Brene Brown says, “When failure is not an option, you can forget about creativity, learning, and innovation.” Maybe I can go a step farther: it’s only in the midst of failure that it’s possible to learn this lesson about self-acceptance and courage, and thus unlearn perfectionism. After all, even a thirty-year-old, out-of-shape ballet dancer in ill-fitting shoes can learn a new step, and with it, a bit of grace.