My lovely fellow blogger, Heidi BK Sloss of The Art of Living Fully, nominated me for the Liebster Award, which was developed to recognize bloggers and help others get to know them. I really appreciate the honor. Be sure to check the end of this post for the bloggers I’m nominating!
Part of the Liebster Award is the opportunity to answer some questions. So here goes!
What makes you happy?
A really great walk—with my husband, with friends, or with a podcast (This American Life, Fresh Air, The Moth, and Snap Judgment are my favorites); sipping a latte while reading the paper at Comforts, my favorite café, every morning; watching a good DVD series with my husband (Season 6 of The Good Wife just arrived via Netflix–Yippee!); movies and our movie group; fresh flowers; favorable political trends (not a lot of happiness there right now); my kids feeling happy and engaged with what they’re doing; being on track with my eating and my writing; getting published.
Why did you start blogging?
I resisted blogging for a long time because I am very technophobic and because I was afraid my blog would be really lame, petering out after a few posts. Then in 2012, I was one of only two Listen to Your Mother SF cast members without a blog. The other outlier had no interest in blogging, but I did. In fact, I had the usual fantasies of being discovered and going viral and getting a MacArthur Genius Grant, or at least a book deal. Since my grandiosity is tamed by equal doses of self-doubt and procrastination, I had not yet been able to implement this strategy. Finally, the shame of seeing no hyperlink under my name in the LTYM program spurred me to overcome my fear of lame. After that, I began the slow process of reinforcing overcoming technophobia by tackling WordPress.
At the same time, I had also begun serious work on my one good book idea, “Ruptures in Women’s Friendships.” I saw my blog as a way of conducting research—crowd-sourcing stories people would share in response to my posts on the topic.
Then I got cancer. (Did you know that WordPress causes cancer?) My plans were derailed by six months of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. But cancer has a way of focusing the mind on what matters, so with new resolve (plus new access to a great online WordPress tutorial), I launched my blog in July 2013. Interestingly, everything in my life is back on track except my Ruptures project. Instead, I have written a lot about cancer, that unwelcome but excellent muse. I still am pretty technophobic (Twitter? What’s that?) And I still fear my blog is lame, but at least I post on a fairly regular basis.
What is the best thing anyone has ever said about your blog?
Honestly, anytime anyone says anything about my blog, I’m ecstatic. I particularly love when what I’ve written inspires readers to share their experiences. But the comment that’s meant the most to me came from a blog post I put on a group blog, long before I had Shrinkrapped up and running. I’d written about my own evolution on the topic of gay marriage–from a straight person’s total oblivion to full embrace. Months later, a gay father came across the post and emailed me about how much it meant to him. He told me about how traumatized his eight-year-old daughter was when planes carrying banners denouncing gay marriage flew over their house (this was in the bad old days when Proposition 8 was riding high in California). He said it was the first time she had experienced hate for her family. “Thanks for writing your piece,’ he wrote. “Maybe it will shift a mind or two.” Comments like his remind me that connecting through writing matters. This keeps me going when I lose heart.
What is one piece of advice you would offer or one saying you live by?
My favorite saying comes from something I first heard from a fellow Weight Watcher: “Set the intent.” (Meaning, “Ponder how differently your day might go if for breakfast you scarf down a dozen jelly doughnuts versus an egg-white omelet.”)
There’s a more widely applicable meaning, too, and it’s the one piece of advice I’ve given my daughters that they’ve most cottoned to: “Find something small you can do every day no matter what that will help you feel on track—for me it’s making the bed.” Lo and behold! I have raised two bed-makers, though I would not have placed money on this during their childhoods.
What are your top three bucket list items?
For a better answer, read my old post, “Bucket List.” But here’s the list:
- To be published in “Modern Love” in the New York Times
- To live long enough to know my grandchildren (their existence is entirely hypothetical at this point)
- To attend my own memorial service, meaning to be in good enough shape and have enough time and enough people who think well of me to hear before I die what they’ll say about me after I die. And to have a chance to say what they’ve meant to me as we say goodbye.
What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Devouring a pint of Three Twins Chocolate Orange Confetti ice cream. Since the near-total demise of Swensen’s, with its Swiss Orange Chip, it’s been hard to come by my favorite flavor. Luckily, Orange is the New Black inspired Three Twins (my Weight Watcher leader calls it “Three Ass”) to launch this fantastic new flavor. More luckily still, I only buy premium pints on sale, and it goes on sale very rarely.
What is one product or service you cannot live without?
National Public Radio. No hyperlink necessary.
What is your favorite U.S. destination? What two countries make you the happiest to visit? What is your dream destination?
Honestly, I don’t have much of a travel bug, so I’ve lumped these questions together. I live just north of San Francisco in beautiful Marin County, so my favorite destination is only a short drive away: Point Reyes National Seashore. My favorite vacations feature hiking in beautiful places. I actually find long weekend B&B getaways more refreshing than bigger trips. But this summer I was happy in the French Pyrenees and hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Switzerland, and Italy. Before that I’ve loved the Dolomites, the Canadian Rockies, Bryce Canyon, Sawtooth Mountains, and the many trips I’ve taken to the Sierra Nevada. I dream of future hikes in the U.S. Rockies and Mount Ranier, and of taking a walking tour of the English countryside with its cottage gardens. But I’m just as happy with my daily walks out my front door.
But Enough About Me! Paying the Liebster Forward
I’m embarrassed to admit that I barely have a pinky toe dipped in the blogosphere—how do people find the time? But check out these worthy bloggers in addition to the aforementioned The Art of Living Fully. And remember, there’s nothing worse for a writer than sending words into a black hole. So feel free to comment, tweet, share, and give a shout-out to your own favorites!
Jessica O’Dwyer, who has written a memoir, Mamalita about adopting her daughter from Guatemala. Check out her blog, Mamalitathebook, for more exquisitely observed and felt writing about international adoption and related topics.
Dorothy O’Donnell, who writes beautifully about everything, including raising a child with pediatric bipolar disorder.
Rhea St. Julien, who reaches into her heart and soul to write about race and other things that matter at thirty threadbare mercies
Jenny Marshall, who writes about culture, language, and travel at A Thing for Wor(l)ds
And here are my favorite buddies I met on this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge:
Dyanne at Backsies is What There is Not (Fans of the Frances books, unite!). Dyanne is very funny and very positive in her outlook. I have a bit of an allergy to positive thinking, so the fact that I find her so engaging is a testament to how skillfully she handles the balance of the good, the bad, and the ugly in all aspects of life.
Wendy at Wendy’s Waffle. I love that Wendy writes about a wide range of topics, from politics to the personal. Plus, she’s someone who lists “chocolate” as one of her interests, and like me, is an empty nester. Wendy lives in London, so it’s great to get a perspective from beyond my own shores.
Paula at Mpls Transplant. Paula, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Minneapolis, asks, “Is Minnesota Nice contagious? God, I hope so . . .” I happen to know she was plenty nice already, at least by Bay Area standards! Here she’s funny, inventive, and great at incorporating photography into her writing.
Answer a question or two yourself–like what’s YOUR ultimate guilty pleasure or what’s on your bucket list? Also, what are your favorite blogs?