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Here’s what you (the reader) and me (the author) know about me (the narcissist) after 4+ years of ingesting eatingatme content:

  1. I’m consistently inconsistent.
  2. I’m often unsettled but work diligently to live a positive life.
  3. I over think. Some may say I over share. (Fuck you, haters.)
  4. My potty mouth’s a passion. So’s my sarcasm.
  5. I’m originally from Buffalo, New York.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 5, at least in my case. I confirmed this last weekend.

I flew to Buffalo to surprise my sister, Kristen, for her 40th birthday finale (she, her hubby, and their two kids live in Las Vegas but were back home for a visit). I was raised in Buffalo alongside Kris and her brother, Robbie, who, 36 years later, I still refer to proudly as my siblings. Kris’ loved ones orchestrated a celebratory week that culminated in a Sunday Funday around the city on a party bus. I popped out behind balloons; there were laughs; some tears of joy sprung (mostly from me). There were renditions of Alanis Morrisette’s “Uninvited” and some Barbra Streisand song. There were many drinks.

This – plus copious amounts of hang time with my elementary school bestie, Kate; my extended family; and other longtime friends – occasionally evoked feelings of hiraeth, or a homesickness for that which is no longer (see Regina O’Callaghan’s post on this very topic, executed beautifully). I left Buffalo for college at age 18 and only returned for visits that were very much dictated by my mother’s scheduling. I rarely had an opportunity to enjoy the geography I knew as my birthplace and cradle. I always felt like an outsider and never thought it possible to reclaim my identity as a kid from the Nickel City.

Half way through the visit I decided that drudgery – a behavior that is VERY Buffalo – was no longer acceptable. Buffalo is my home and I want connection, dammit. I experienced love in that city. I danced professionally there. Hell, I learned to read and write in Buffalo. Now, my mother and grandparents are laid to rest there. This all means something very deep to me.

There’s a renaissance occurring in Buffalo; the excitement is palpable. Driving through Canalside and the Elmwood Village with Kris, Rob, our friends and family, and witnessing happiness and a love for life was electric. Eating fucking fantastic Cajun food at Toutant and revisiting my favorite hot dog joint, Ted’s, collided the new and eerily familiar brilliantly. Hanging with Kate and her husband, Jack (my Grade 5 crush), while their daughter, Emma, sang for us…this built a new structure for my hometown around my heart and headspace. I left feeling slightly more settled and invigorated. I also exercised my sarcasm muscle adequately and learned a few new profanities to share with you in later posts.

Hey. It’s Buffalo. It’s what we do.

Confidence And Cockiness Walk Into A Bar…

Whoever created this meme deserves a hug.
Whoever created this meme deserves a high-five and a lesson in the proper writing of an ellipse.

Confidence’s SEXY AS HELL. She’s POWERFUL, TRANSFORMATIVE, and GETS SHIT DONE.

How-ev-er…

Her evil twin – Cockiness – has a habit of showing up to the party, doing one too many shots of Don Julio Real, streaking through your cul-de-sac (gut bouncing like a basketball), and inevitably ruining the evening when he resists arrest.

Ain’t no one got time for that.

I’ve spent ample time pondering the difference between confidence and cockiness over the past four months. To qualify, I’ve spent ample time dissecting the minutia of the difference between the two as it’s pertained to my full-on stalking of full-time employment.

This, too, deserves some kudos.
This, too, deserves some kudos and a revision.

I’ve been told on no fewer than four occasions that I’m OVERQUALIFIED but OH SO CONFIDENT.

So when did sexy as hell, powerful, transformative, and gets shit done become the Hans Solo in the Dad vs. Kylo Ren battle for employment?

Answer: When you’re 41, it’s 2016, and employers have their pick of the litter for potential hires. The variety, the possibility…it’s like shopping for medical marijuana but not nearly as fun (from what I’ve heard…seriously, I don’t touch grass).

Fast forward: I’m starting full-time employment on Wednesday. The position comes with benefits (something that holds value to me at 41). It fits the bill for what I need. Yay job! But I’m still thinking a lot about this difference between confidence and cockiness…

It’s quite possible – if you know me, let’s just call it what it is and say it’s likely – that I came off as cocky in my interviews. Fine. I’ve covered some serious ground professionally; accomplished a lot; handled some serious shit. But maybe I wasn’t cocky at all. Maybe I was just authentic and showed that I play on a level where bullshit isn’t invited.

Either way, I’m fascinated by this topic, particularly because Kimberly Jones and I are launching a Periscope and blog series that centers on the renaissance of individuals who leap-frogged from one career to the next as a means to making it happen in a big way. (Head’s up: this will eventually become a podcast. We’re personable. You’ll like it. That’s fact, not cockiness.)

I’d love for y’all to weigh in. Are you confident? Perceived as arrogant? Know someone whose self-proclaimed amazingness is like nails on a chalkboard although props for getting exactly what they want while serving others?

Comment below and/or hit me up on social media. I want to hear your story!

Back to the Don Julio Real and deep thoughts.

Passion Play

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I consider myself lucky.

I’ve been in love five times in my life. Punched in the gut, sweet Jesus is-this-for-real, gasping for air agape-eros-philia heaven. Vastly different journeys. Thankful for each.

I’ve experienced intense professional satisfaction. Goals achieved that prompted my inner outside voice to yell “I DID THIS!” Work that served others while filling me up. Bold action that made me proud and changed me for the better.

And then there have been the moments that rendered me standing still at attention. The drill sergeant of opportunity screaming “TAKE THIS IN! Not everyone gets this chance, you hear me?” My favorite in recent history is from this past Christmas Eve eve. I floated on ancient hallowed snowy ground in Fengersfors, Sweden, observing the silent flicker of lantern light among the gravestones of the church’s adjoining cemetery. While tears rolled down my cheeks, I praised God, my mother, and each person who made it possible for me to be in that hour.

It’s now the eve of my 41st birthday, and I’m sitting exactly opposite of where I was precisely six months ago. Sweating in hot urban Vista, California, drinking bourbon, and crying hallelujah that my MacBook’s made it another day. Lots of uncertainty rubbing my shoulders but I still feel exaltation akin to what bubbled up in all the aforementioned scenarios.

This is what unconventional reinvention yields. Common vernacular might define this as “adulting” but I find that term ridiculous. It discredits the thought and labor behind getting it done; everyone inevitably becomes an adult with the passing of time. Reinvention – responsibility – takes dedication and sweat.

Tonight I’m present to what it means to walk, run, twerk in my shoes. I get the value of the almighty dollar and the freedom it provides; I’m also clear that it’s the last thing that should define you. I give a one-finger salute to the common, safe, and mundane; I’m striking balance between that which I love and what brings home the pasture raised organic pork. I’m in love with my life; find whatever work I do fulfilling; bloom from amazing opportunities.

As a result, eatingatme has also matured, and in the coming months I look forward to sharing my passion play with you. Collaborations with writers that inspire. Conversations with intriguing individuals who’ve run wild with renaissance and created magic. The launch of a legacy project that’s been 12+ years in the making.

THIS is the eatingatme 2.0 that’s providing satiation. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Regina O’Callaghan, Kimberly Jones, and Lori Krause for the partnership, vision, and fearlessness it’ll take to make our projects happen.

THIS is the outcome of declaring better for myself one year ago. This is what it means to learn from your history in order to live, not just exist.

Why I Adore Danielle LaPorte

#TruthBombs
#TruthBombs

Allow me to begin by stating that I don’t know Danielle LaPorte personally nor have I ever met her. I was first introduced to her “brand” when she and her former business partner were creating “Style Statements” for self seekers, a few of whom I knew. I dug what I observed of her; she was punk rock, smart, self aware, and snarky. Most importantly, she was intensely honest.

Fast forward several years to when my existential crisis was fully actualized and I was somewhere in between simply losing my groove and completely losing my mind. It was in this gap where I realized that the only way to placate my anxious soul was to write, whether that provided income or not, whether anyone read my stuff or not. But I didn’t know how to do THAT. Write…just because? I didn’t think my well being and happiness were worth enough to play a game I enjoyed. Isn’t life only supposed to be about sacrifice and non-stop challenge?

I wasn’t unfamiliar with self-help hullabaloo. Years prior I drank the Kool-Aid of Landmark Education and was a firm believer in Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY; I received value from both. But I’m an Irish Catholic broad from Buffalo who studied philosophy and theology in undergraduate school…you know, the real stuff.

Then I ran head-first into Danielle’s THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS. This orange coaching bible – much like Danielle – was different. It put my all-too-real life issues into blocks I could build upon. It made my crazy idea of being a writer not so loony.

Read. This. Now.

I’ve recommended this book time and again to burgeoning entrepreneurs, creatives of all kinds, those looking for a way out and up, friends who really love the color orange…

I’m recommending it to you now.

And while you’re at it, stop by Danielle’s shop. She has all sorts of terrific products. If you know me you know I’m a #TruthBomb addict; you should sign up to have them dropped in your Inbox daily. I consider them a caring kick in the ass.

Show Up

I liken the past two months to an episode of Sons of Anarchy: needless drama that predictably results in lack of communication, followed quickly by betrayal and senseless death. You know, Shakespeare.

However, my excerpt is absent of insanely delicious bikers covered in tats and the stench of cigarettes. Bummer.

And no one’s died. And it hasn’t been that dramatic. Just super fucking irritating.

Welcome to searching for and securing full-time employment at the age of 40 during 2016’s election season when you’re over-qualified but yet slightly out of the game for too long. (Starry-eyed “entrepreneurs” take note!) But let’s be real; welcome to me putting my life back together.

I’ve interviewed; interviewed a second time; waited; sent follow-up responses; waited some more; been told I’m over-qualified or that the offer letter is on its way (bullshit) or that they’re not going to hire for that position after all (discovered third-hand after waiting for three weeks for some kind of response) or I wasn’t the right fit. You get the idea.

In the meantime, I’ve worked retail, secured some spectacular writing projects, Marie Kondo’d the shit outta my life, and planned a trip to Maui in October. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I say with certainty that this scenario would have put me in a bottle or on pills a year ago. Today? Go fuck yourself; I’ve got this.

I’m not an island; my friends and family have been my rocks and ass-savers BIG TIME. There’s no way I could’ve done this without them. And there’s a confidence to be appreciated in asking for help; get over yourself so that one day you may blissfully pay it forward.

And know that it’s absolutely acceptable to look out for number one as long as your feet are grounded and your heart’s loving.

Just don’t be an asshole. Show up. The rest will work itself out.

That’s what I’m telling myself. Pretty sure Jesus advised that.

Sisters From Other Misters, Brothers From Other Mothers

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I’m an only child by birth but that’s where my oneness ends.

For over 40 years, I’ve adopted siblings – some my blood relatives, most not – and created a family that is heart-focused, smart, formidable, diverse, and stunning. This tribe, consisting of approximately 60 people, has saved my life, taught me about commitment, proven that love is above all else, and gifted me the opportunity to share in their miracles and challenges.

The whole is the sum of its parts; my world is rich because each of these individuals is gold to me. I burst with pride daily because of their accomplishments. I thank God for them before I sleep and when I wake.

Happy Siblings Day to my sisters from other misters and brothers from other mothers. I love you with every molecule that makes up my bag ‘o bones. Please know that you make a difference, always.

March 10

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“But nobody wants to hear this tale

The plot is clichéd, the jokes are stale

And baby we’ve all heard it all before

Oh, I could get specific but

Nobody needs a catalog

With details of love I can’t sell anymore”

~Aimee Mann, “Invisible Ink”

My mother knew when I was bullshitting; her intensity kept me honest, at least with her. Today’s her birthday. She would’ve turned 66.

Since her passing, I take time on March 10 to run an authenticity evaluation in her honor and for my sanity. It ain’t fancy; it’s an opportunity to check in with brutal honesty. I moved to Sweden as a result of last year’s findings.

This year, I’m in the midst of my unconventional reinvention. I’ve decluttered, unplugged, and let go to a staggering degree. This really ain’t fancy, but starting from scratch never is. However, I’ve never felt more authentic, less mucked down with bullshit. And as I look in the mirror today, I see the resolve that was missing from my eyes; I’m confident my mother’s struggle to raise me right hasn’t been wasted.

I’m creating a new book, not just a new chapter. Pattie would be proud.