Wednesday
Nov202013

When Kurt Cobain's Suicide Note Made Sense

Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach…

I remember hearing Courtney Love read this part of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. It wasn’t until the days after I gave birth to my first child that I felt a strong connection to the words. I heard them over and over in my head in my moments alone – in the shower;  lying in bed while trying to will myself to get up and face life; curled up on the couch while happy, visiting family swirled around me. 

When it comes to welcoming a new baby, the Facebook posts and Instagram photos show a happy, joyous, adorable time. And it is. But for some, and for me, it was one of the hardest, loneliest, desperate times of my life.  I have felt disingenuous posting my sweet photos of my daughter and jovial messages about parenting, when for the first month, I questioned whether I would make it. 

It didn’t start until the day we left the hospital. My husband was eager to get out of there, having been cooped up in a hospital room for three days. As we gathered our belongings and packed our daughter up to leave, I began to have a feeling of doom. Ironically, just hours before, the nurse had me take a postpartum depression survey.  I “passed” with ease. It hadn’t hit me yet. By the time we pulled up to our house and walked through the door, I was sick to my stomach and terrified.

I sat on the couch and cried, embarrassed to be crying for no reason. I felt I was being swallowed by devastation. The feeling in my stomach and the darkness I felt…it was a feeling I imagine I would have if my husband just told me he was leaving me. Except he wasn’t. He was right by my side, hugging me, comforting me, and taking care of things around the house. How come I couldn’t feel better?

I couldn’t stomach any food, despite my mother’s multiple daily trips to the store to try and find something that I could manage to eat. My beautiful little daughter wanted to eat around the clock and constantly nursing her with the pit of despair in my stomach was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. 

I hid out mostly in my room because I couldn’t keep from crying and not only was it embarrassing, but my loved ones unsuccessful attempts at comforting me only made me feel more desperate and alone.  I was convinced that something had gone wrong during my c-section and my stomach ache was my new permanent reality. I envisioned years of surgeries to try and correct the problem and that I might be nauseous for the rest of my life.

In the midst of it all, my boss called and let me know that the magazine I had been running for the last year was going under. I had no job to return to and no hope in sight.

Thankfully I was blessed with an amazing OB GYN, Dr. Phillip Dehoff.  He had called me from his cell phone the night before my c-section to see if I had any questions and I still had the number on my phone. Not knowing what else to do, I called him on a Monday night, leaving a sobbing, pleading voicemail. Within five minutes he called me back. He told me I was experiencing postpartum depression and that it was completely normal. He wanted me to start a low dose of Prozac and promised that I would feel better within a couple of days.

I was very resistant to starting the medication because I was breastfeeding.  I searched online, reading through thread after thread of message boards (never, ever a positive or productive exercise) and was convinced it was either going to make me go crazy or harm my baby. After Dr. Dehoff, a lactation specialist, and my daughter’s pediatrician assured me it was safe and necessary, I started to take the pill. 

After about a week, the pit in my stomach began to subside and the crying bouts became less frequent. After about two weeks, I could laugh again. For the first month at home with my baby, I struggled to feel happy or content or excited about life.  She was a great sleeper, so I couldn’t blame a lack of sleep. All she did was sleep or eat and I couldn’t understand what was going to become of my life.  Was I just supposed to feed her and watch TV day in and day out the rest of my life? My friends who had recently gave birth seemed so happy and content with motherhood, that it made me feel like a terrible mom.

The truth is, it is an adjustment. Maybe the biggest adjustment of life. Having a newborn is tough.  It’s even tougher when you compare your experience of motherhood with what you see other’s experience of motherhood through the lens of social media.  Everyone seems so happy, adoring, and fulfilled.  Today, with my little Katie at almost six months old, that happens to be exactly how I feel.  Many times throughout the day I experience a pure joy that I had never experienced before she came into my life. I feel more content than I ever have in life. Family means more to me, people seem kinder, and I wake up excited every day to be with her.  And thanks to my hard working husband, I can be. 

But it took a while to get there. All I wanted when I was in the depth of despair was to know from someone who had been there, that one day I would feel better.  So to anyone out there who has the same desperate plea – it will. And it will be wonderful .  Hang in there.   

Wednesday
Mar072012

Writing to Doris & Bertie

Warren Buffett with sisters Doris and Bertie in 1937

He’s not just a source of investment advice.  Warren Buffett knows a thing or two about writing well.  In fact, in this excerpt from his preface to a 1998 SEC handbook, he addresses two crucial writing commandments:

“One unoriginal but useful tip: Write with a specific person in mind. When writing Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report, I pretend that I’m talking to my sisters. I have no trouble picturing them: Though highly intelligent, they are not experts in accounting or finance. They will understand plain English, but jargon may puzzle them. My goal is simply to give them the information I would wish them to supply me if our positions were reversed. To succeed, I don’t need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform.  

Commandment #1:

Treat others the way you wish to be treated.  Our mothers taught us this when we were five, but she did not specify that the same principle applies to writing.  

Most businesses write copy with themselves in mind.  When crafting messages to attract clients or consumers, they think – what do I want to say about us? How do we want to be perceived? What do we want them to understand about who we are?

What Warren Buffett understands is that the questions that should be guiding their messaging are – what do our target clients/consumers want from a company like ours? How do they think? What do we need to understand about them?

 

Commandment #2:

Write like you speak.  Before I learned of Mr. Buffett’s commitment to clear, direct writing, I would have assumed that a Berkshire Hathaway annual report would be a dry, jargon filled document that would require several reads for little old me to grasp. What I found were annual reports that read like he was speaking to me over an ice cream sundae at Dairy Queen.

While diligence should be paid to grammar and structure, business writing does not need to read haughty or corporate in order to be professional.  Big words or clever phrases are not tools that will help a company differentiate themselves; attention to Commandment #1 will.  

Follow these commandments or risk Warren Buffett’s conclusion:

Too often, I’ve been unable to decipher just what is being said or, worse yet, had to conclude that nothing was being said.” 

Friday
Mar022012

Kramer Kards

“You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.”
– Sacha Guitry (1885-1957)

There is no better demonstration of Mr. Guitry’s belief than the crew over at Someecards

I have long been a fan of the sarcastic e-postcard one-liners.  They are that irreverent friend who says what you wish you could say…the Cosmo Kramer of the e-greeting card world.  Back when I had a real job in the real world, a co-worker and I would occasionally communicate solely via Someecards.  One of our favorite go-to’s:

 

Never have I found myself at a time when my personal irreverence has been less appreciated, admonished even. For I am planning my wedding and a bride has no place for sarcasm, indifference, or mockery!  (Except with my hubby to be – which is why he’s the one for me.) 

So, I turn to my someecards friends to issue a few snide chuckles on my behalf.   


 

And of course, because it's true...

Friday
Oct282011

The Very True Story of Christian the Lion

I wanted to share this video that just made my heart burst.  If you're in a bad mood, feeling low, irritated, angry, or just plain disconnected from a sense of well being, I think this short video will help you find your heart. 

 

There is nothing like the love of an animal.  If you haven't experienced it, go to your local shelter and adopt a dog.  Pay no attention to those resistant thoughts that tell you it will be too much work - they will all become irrelevant once you fall in love. 

Monday
Sep122011

Throwback Photos & A Game of Where's Waldo 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The color photos on the right are images from the 2011 Pride Charlotte festival.)

Throwback  -

 

  1. reversion to earlier type  - reversion to an earlier ancestral type
  2. animal or person resembling ancestor – an animal or person bearing a striking resemblance to an ancestor
  3. anachronistic thing – something contemporary that seems to belong to the past

The color photos from the 2011 Pride Charlotte festival have an uncanny resemblance to the black & white photos from the civil rights era.  Why does it seem that this country is able to overlook that just because the word "God" has been slapped on the posters? 

 Now to another throwback exercise... In the spirit of the classic "Where's Waldo" brand, see if you can spot Jesus in either of the mirroring images above.  The people in the color pictures told me he was right behind them, but after hours of studying the photos, I simply can't find him. 

Friday
Jul152011

Meeting Maya Angelou

For some girls, their “big day” is their wedding day.  My “big day” was July 2nd, 2011.  I went to Dr. Maya Angelou’s house for her 4th of July party. 

My client and friend, Clarke Allen, has become close to Dr. Angelou since designing her birthday party last April.  Clarke has been invited to every soirée – and a few backyard lunches – ever since.  And when he got the invite for this year’s July 4th party, I got to go as his guest. 

I can’t remember the exact age when I first read Dr. Angelou’s work.  But perhaps it’s more fitting to say, as far back as elementary school, I can’t remember a classroom where we didn’t study her.  She is one of the writers that brought the reader out in me.  And as any writer knows, the call to writing comes when we are reading. 

When she took my hand at our meeting, she said just that – “Writing is not a job. Writing is a calling.” She talked more about what it meant to be a writer and, coming from one of the greatest writers of our time, each word held a weight and depth that will remain unmatched. But I want to share a different experience I had at her home.

As I walked in, mixed with stomach-flipping anticipation at meeting this iconic woman, was concern I was going to be met with looks of what’s this white girl doing here?  Somehow, I feared that guests at Dr. Angelou’s house wouldn’t share her same inclusive spirit.  I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that they did. 

I felt more comfortable amongst that group of strangers than I have amongst a room full of people I know.  There was a gentleness, warmth, and sense of community in that backyard.  There was a feeling that radiated between people that everyone was welcomed, accepted, and honored for exactly who they are.   

On the ride home as we discussed the day, we talked about race and people in our lives that still live with a great deal of racial tension.  I wondered why it was so difficult for the rest of the world to co-exist without judgment or preconceived notions, when the harmony at Dr. Angelou’s had seemed so much more natural. Then it occurred to me that perhaps the racial tension that still exists today is a judgment or preconceived of how we believe we are going to be judged.  After all, I welcome people into my life based on the type of person they are, not based on their skin color – yet, I anticipated judgment for my own race.  Perhaps people who live with a great deal of tension or social segregation don’t judge the other, but fear the other’s judgment. 

My friends in DC might feel as if these thoughts are antiquated or not relevant in 2011.  But in the 4 ½ years I’ve been living in Charlotte, it’s become apparent that much of the South sadly still clings to its pre-Civil War roots.  But in a city where stories about cultural divides and discrimination are sad but true, it’s comforting to know that just several miles away in Winston Salem lives a woman whose integrity and heart is as big and real as it reads.  And if it has been able to bring change to all ends of the earth, perhaps it can help bring change close to home too. 

Wednesday
Jun152011

Face Time With The Democratic National Convention 

For those who missed yesterday's DNC 2012 Charlotte Kickoff hosted by the Charlotte Chamber, here is the video of the discussion.  Included in the panel is Bob Morgan, Mayor Anthony Foxx, Former Mayor Harvey Gantt (who joins around the 30 min mark), Dan Murrey - Executive Director Charlotte in 2012, and Steve Kerrigan - CEO of DNCC.  Note: The presentation doesn't start until the 3:45 mark in the video.

For me, the coolest part of this discussion - and of the whole convention - is the full circle moment of Harvey Gantt and President Obama.  Mr. Gantt, the first African American to be admitted to Clemson University and the first African American mayor of Charlotte, had an early supporter in President Obama.  When you look at the big picture, Mr. Gantt didn't just help pave the way for Charlotte to have the DNC , he helped pave the way for America to have President Obama.

Friday
Jun032011

Tom Cruise Comes to CMS

I was shocked to read that Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools had signed on with Foundation for a Drug Free World for a new drug education curriculum.  The Foundation for a Drug Free World is a non-profit arm of the Church of Scientology.  It is not conspiracy theory, or salacious news grabbing tactics.  It is fact.  

This is not a “let’s bash CMS” blog entry.  I live here, I plan to have children here – I’m for building CMS up, not tearing it down.  Which is exactly why I hope they reconsider their partnership with this organization. 

I won’t comment or pass judgment on Scientology in specific.  But I will say that it should be alarming to the school system – and its parents – that an organization that goes to great lengths to conceal its origin, and therefore its agenda, is going to be a channel of information to children. 

CMS – please reconsider implementing a drug prevention program funded and run by a religious organization that is consumed with recruiting and surrounded with flaming red flags.  Especially when there are so many other good programs to choose from. 

 

Friday
Jun032011

Big Sticks Coming to Charlotte

It was always a toss up.  Which sport had the hotter boys in high school - soccer or lacrosse?  I always went for soccer because of my high school heart throb, Todd Beall.  But since Todd went and got married, I'm giving my love to lacrosse.   

To the ladies of Charlotte and the gentlemen everywhere who can't let go of their youth - professional lacrosse is coming to our city. 

Former Bobcats exec Jim McPhilliamy has launched Charlotte Major League Lacrosse.  Get in on the action and help vote for the team name.  Go 'Like' their Facebook page by clicking here and then vote for the team name. 

http://www.facebook.com/CharlotteMLL?sk=app_201143516562748

My vote is for the Hounds.  And yours should be too.  Just sayin.

Tuesday
May032011

Tacos to Save Sports

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina is partnering with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Middle School sports program and the M2 Foundation for their inaugural Cinco de Mayo Taco Smash. 

On Thursday, May 5, 2011 from 12pm-3pm at the corner of Trade and Tryon St. in Uptown Charlotte, The Taco Smash will feature local celebrities and city officials competing in a taco eating competition to help raise funds. On hand will also be the mascots from the local colleges and sports teams as well as cheerleaders from the Bobcats and the Charlotte checkers. With an expected crowd of over 500 people, The WFNZ “Bustin’ Loose with Frank and Moose” show and other local media outlets will air live coverage of the event from the plaza.    

The CMS Middle School Sports Program was saved this year thru donations from various businesses and yet we face the reality of the sports program being cut again for the 2011/2012 school year.  Sports play an invaluable role in the lives of middle school children by helping build character, encourage physical fitness and motivate them to do well in school to meet the sports participation requirements.

The M2 Foundation was started in 1999 by retired NFL wide receiver, Mushin (Moose) Mohammad to enhance the educational, physical, and spiritual development of children. The M2 Foundation is committed to motivating youths to overcome barriers through planned sessions and workshops, with a goal to help young people improve educational achievements and develop confidence for becoming healthy, productive adults.

For those in Charlotte, please come out and support these organizations!