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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.

Cruel Mystery

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“It’s a god-awful small affair

To the girl with the mousy hair

But her mummy is yelling, ‘No!’”

~David Bowie, “Life On Mars”

 

World Lupus Day 2016 has come to a close. Two years ago, I couldn’t even tell you when it was.

A woman who battled daily with the cruel mystery of this chronic illness raised me. The number one rule in our household was to treat SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosys) as an enemy that didn’t deserve acknowledgement for the tyranny it imposed over our lives.

Fuck you, Lupus.

My mother was diagnosed in 1975, around the time I was born. With understanding of its reach and effects still in development, she was given a life expectancy of seven years. For someone as ambitious as my mother, this was unacceptable.

She lived an additional 34 years. Fuck you, Lupus.

My rearing was entirely impacted by its effects, reach, and development. The drug cocktail my mother consumed daily, multicolored and multifaceted. Being loved unconditionally during childhood but pushed to be stellar just in case my mother’s life expectancy was accurate. No siblings (…not complaining). Raising myself at times during high school because she desired to check out. Having the coolest mom on the block because she had a great perspective on what was truly important in life. Hoping my mother would make it through the night or weekend.

And the pain; witnessing that pain…

If you knew my mother, or have a loved one with Lupus, you know what I’m talking about.

FUCK YOU, LUPUS.

In the midst of my grieving my mother’s passing, it dawned on me that one way to move through, move on would be to look the enemy in the eye and understand it. Not dismiss the bastard with a cavalier, ignorant “fuck you” but get the why and how behind its unpopularity.

The front lines:

Difficult to diagnose, masks as other illnesses.

Prednisone is its partner in crime.

The immune system goes on the attack.

Precarious positioning of the kidneys; brain or central nervous system; blood and blood vessels; skin; lungs; heart; and joints.

Bringing up the rear:

Deep depression and anxiety.

Heightened obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of medication.

Life screeching to a halt because of a flare.

Constant fatigue.

Manic behavior.

There’s comfort in knowing my mother wasn’t alone, and that our family unit wasn’t either. It helps to know others understand. Today, I’m embracing that hell. It trained me, maybe a little later in life than is desirable, to be strong and put things in perspective.

Lupus, we’re not friends and we never will be. But I can’t change the past, just how to improve the future.

If you’re the child of a parent diagnosed with Lupus, please reach out to me at rebecca@redletterdays.biz. I’m interested in hearing your story.

 

(Visit http://www.lupusresearchinstitute.org/lupus-facts/lupus-fact-sheet and www.worldlupusday.org for more information on Lupus and its effects.)

My Goliath

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Photograph: Lori Krause

“Hey, Mamacita. It’s me.”

“Oh, my lineage. How are you?”

“Good. So, I had a thought. I’m okay with Justin Timberlake as the new king of pop.”

My mom would most likely agree with me. She’d also grill me on how thorough of a listen I’ve given the new Radiohead songs and the virtues of attending Oldchella in October.

I miss those conversations. A fuckload.

 

 

While in Sweden, I worked – like full-time-everything-I’ve-got worked – on facing and harnessing my grief over her passing. I believed that after six years, I really should be over it; I didn’t understand why I wasn’t.

Then it dawned on me one day in AnnaKarin’s kitchen, pouring coffee, observing a murder of crows flying overhead:

Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes. Standing on the shoulders of giants.

My opportunities, my possibilities, the foundation of my being…it all came from her. She was my first and favorite goliath.

My grief had been rooted in profound thanks all along. Although I wasn’t blind to that, I was too distracted by making sure I was checking the appropriate issues boxes to embrace my sadness, to view my mother’s ascension as a celebration of her widely-felt positive impact.

My deepest appreciation for everyone who’s reached out over the years to share how my mom made a difference in his or her life. It’s how her gifts keep on giving; it’s been my foundation for change.

My love to each of you this Mother’s Day.