We’re so super happy to present the photos from the portrait studio. You can view them all at the Heal Something Good website. (That’s the lovely A’Driane Nieves shown below.) (Psst. Here are links to the audio you listened to in the portrait studio: Amy Turn Sharp & Robin Plemmons.)
UPDATE: Check out the new Heal Something Good website for all the details!
I’m so happy to introduce to you our Heal Something Good Wellness Retreats! We’re still in the planning stages and if you want more info as it comes along, please let me know and I’ll keep you in the loop. We’ll be covering a lot of the info that’s in my book plus go in depth with individual needs. We’ll have massages, non-toxic manicures, zytoscans, do energy work, cover nutrition and of course, essential oils. Most importantly, we’ll spend time really getting to understand how our guts and brains are connected, why healing has to take place both places, and how to do it. You’ll leave the retreat with a lot of essential knowledge, refreshed and on your way to true healing.
Our first one is planned for October 8-11, 2014 in Lake Tahoe. We have just a few slots available, so if it sounds like something you’d be interested in, please holler.
If you’d like to host a HSG Wellness Retreat in your city, let me know! There are some great benefits to being the host, such as attending the retreat for free for you, a 50% discount for a friend, free doTERRA essential oils and more!
I loved getting to chat with so many of you at BlogHer this year! Wow, the Friday night party was fun. We’ll have the photos from the weekend up soon at the FBA site. Thanks for spending some time with me during the conference. Me and the team had a great time.
(photo credit, Jen Myronuk)
1. I started blogging in the summer of 2007 when I decided I wanted to, well, get pregnant. And I, oddly, wanted to document that process and what followed in great detail.
2. At this point, it’s such a part of me that I don’t know how not to tell stories on my blog. In the beginning, though, it was to get these crazy thoughts out of my head because I knew I was changing, that my viewpoint was shifting. I wanted to look back on that process.
3. The glamorous answer- I tend to my lovely 3 children while balancing blogging and a freelance writing & photography/consulting career. On my free time I run and craft, and watch House of Cards with my hot husband.
The realistic answer- I manage to keep 3 kids alive while blogging in my baby-snot-crusted pajamas. Somedays I do manage to brush my teeth. I answer a lot of emails in order of those I think might make my life easier quickest. I run because, in combination with my anxiety meds, it makes me feel less crazy. My hot husband and I do watch House of Cards together on our free time, which is to say we will probably get done with season 2 in 3 years.
4. If I had a million dollars… I think I’d remind myself that that’s not a lot of dollars. Relatively, you know? So I’d like to think I’d be a grown up and do things like invest it and pay off debt and NOT take off on a round-the-world field trip with the whole family for as long as we could afford it. But I can’t be certain.
5. I think this is where I would tell you about the cystical (a testicle cyst) I developed in my last pregnancy, except I already told the world that secret. Or maybe I’d tell you about how I eat rocks and sand when I’m pregnant? Except, no. Because that’s not a secret either. Uhmmm….. okay, I don’t like water parks. There. I said it.
6. I want people to know that I have no idea what I’m doing. I have nothing figured out. I’m not an expert at anything. That feels very good to get out there.
1. Blogging since? 2006. But I didn’t start “The bloggess” until 2007. “The bloggess” was a late bloomer.
2. Why do you tell stories on your blog? Because I kept getting arrested for spray-painting them on the sides of trains. Plus the trains would pull away before I had a chance to finish or spell-check. Honestly, I’ve always written. I think it’s a product of my anxiety disorder. I was too painfully shy to talk so I let everything out on paper. Diaries, journals, short stories, terrible poetry, notes on napkins. Blogging was just a natural way of doing what I was already doing. I still write in journals and on notebooks though.
3. How do you fill your days? I get my 9 year old up and off to summer camp and then I spend the day writing. I also spend a lot of time reading, which seems a bit self-indulgent and lazy but I chalk it up to “research” and I punch anyone who questions me about “wasting” time reading. I also surf the net too much and I dress the cats up in clothes occasionally. Then when my daughter gets home we play games or watch tv. This month we’re watching all of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. That girl has great taste.
4. If you had a million dollars… I’d slap it to the ground. I have no reason to have a million dollars so if I suddenly found myself holding that much money I’d assume that I blacked out and robbed a bank. I can’t go back to prison.
5. Tell me a secret? This is a trick question, right? I’m a blogger and a memoirist so I don’t really have secrets. But lemme think… Okay, here’s a strange one. When I was a kid I heard voices at night after everyone was asleep. Every night. My sister shared my room but said she couldn’t hear them but I always did. I don’t know what they were saying but it was a muffled man and woman speaking monotone from far off. It sounded as if the news was on in the next room, but we only had one tv and my parents turned it off each night. I still don’t know what that was about. It stopped after a few years.
6. Anything you want others to know? That it’s going to be okay.
Find Jenny on Twitter @TheBloggess and read her stories on her blog, The Bloggess. You can also purchase her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, (and you should because it’s awesome). Thanks, Jenny! Find all the Storytellers here.
1. I was laid off from my job in product management and marketing for a software company in July 2009. As I started looking for “real jobs,” specifically in the marketing space, I noticed that every one was asking for a writing portfolio. Knowing that a dry technical document like product requirements or a PowerPoint written in corporate speak didn’t showcase my best abilities, I thought I’d start a blog. Because, well, why not.
And in September 2009, I officially launched allthingsfadra.blogspot.com. I put no thought into the name or the design or even what I would write about. I babbled for about six months on there before I discovered three things:
1. When I wasn’t writing for someone else, I actually enjoyed writing. Who knew?
2. There’s this whole community of bloggers. Yes. I was pretty late to this discovery.
3. If I wanted to continue with my new found passion, I better get on over to WordPress.org. Which is exactly what I did.
2. The one adjective used to consistently describe me throughout my entire life is weird. Seriously. You can post it on my Facebook wall and all the elementary through high school students I went to school with will agree. For a while, I wore it like a badge of honor. I was different! I was special! I was unique! And then I struggled like most people because I just wanted to fit in.
When I finally discovered blogging and starting sharing some of my “weirdness” (ranging from personal stories from my childhood to my quirky take on a garden variety of topics), I found that I was actually living amidst an entire population of misfits and never even knew it. Telling stories helps me connect with people who make me feel normal (and yes, sometimes special) and it allows me to let the weird people out there know they’re not alone.
3. Have you ever heard of a workhorse? Or workaholic? I am whatever the opposite of that is. If given the opportunity, I would spend an entire day laying on the couch with my iPhone playing mindless games. But since I’ve got money to earn, a family to feed, a dog to walk, and a house to take care of, I do get up. I bounce around my entire day from running errands to doing household chores to making dinner to just being a mom. And in all those in between times, I’m in front of my computer typing away.
The hardest part about this kind of life, which is actually a bit of a dream life for me, is that it requires a bit of self-discipline. And as I mentioned, my natural predisposition is sitting on the couch with my iPhone, so you see the problem. And it can be a bit of an emotional day for me. I may start with the greatest ideas in the morning, run out of steam by lunch, and be ready to give up on all of the internet by dinner. Every day, I have to find motivation – which I look for everywhere.
4. If I had a million dollars…I’d place it in a secure mutual fund and watch my money grow steadily.
OH, WHO AM I KIDDING?
Let’s get the charity aspect out of the way first. Of course, I’d give some of it away. My heart belongs to animals so I’d divvy up a good chunk to major animal charities like The Humane Society of the United States and to smaller ones like Tails of Hope (where I got my dog Roscoe).
And then, I’d do a little spending. I’d hire someone to come in and do all the things in my house that my husband insists we do ourselves – laying hardwood floors, building a deck, tiling a backsplash (all of this and I’ve never even considered doing a DIY blog).
Finally, I’d do a ton of traveling all over the world. I’d go to quaint, out-of-the-way spots and also luxury resorts on the Mediterranean. And then when I got back, I’d make sure I saved some money to hire a maid. And personal masseuse.
5. When I was in middle school, I had head lice. I felt so unclean and dirty and was extremely embarrassed. So embarrassed that I didn’t even tell my husband until after we were married. Now, it’s so commonplace. You can buy the shampoo at the grocery store and it seems I get a sample at every blog conference I go to! But I’m confessing because I’ve found that no matter what secret you’ve been guarding, you can always find someone who can relate and frankly, I find that very freeing.
6. I’m a horrible singer but love karaoke. I prefer white wine over red. I’m a connoisseur of macaroni & cheese. If I could marry any celebrity, it would probably be Steve Martin. I think Stephen King is a brilliant writer. And I love the color purple (the actual color, not the movie).
When I was growing up, I wanted to be an actress or an astronaut. Instead, I have a blog and make silly little videos on my YouTube channel.
I’m a late bloomer in life but it’s made me appreciate the journey a little more.
1. I started blogging in 2001 at the ridiculously-named “Debbie Does Drivel.” I used real names, gave addresses of where I lived, and generally committed every sin of online personal privacy breach. It was from 2001-2004 that I discovered many of the storytellers that I still love today like Mighty Girl and Que Sera Sera, and who luckily, are still around in one way or the other. I think of those years fondly and long for the time when blogging was really and truly about sharing stories. Through the posts I read way back when, I came to know bloggers as people, and I miss those days because the pendulum has seemed to swing to the side of being afraid to share who you really are because there’s a “brand image” to uphold. I really admire bloggers who can be authentic while making a living. That’s a hard balance to strike.
2. Storytelling on my blog gives me a way to parse out my experiences and emotions because as a woman who feels deeply and profoundly, I need to give words to it all or I would explode. The Indigo Girls once wrote, “I used to lie like that alone out on the driveway, trying to read the Greek upon the stars, the alphabet of feeling.” That’s how I perceive it: there’s a lot of unanswerable, undecipherable FEELINGS! going on inside, that I’ve got to navigate them by putting them into words. Telling stories also helps me to remember and make sense of what I’ve experienced, observed, and been confounded by, and to record it all in some small way.
3. I freelance as a writer and editor, so my days are filled with trying to make a living. I spend a lot of time online for work and play and I’ve found all that watching through my laptop has stolen a little part of my life that I want back. So I try to get out and live and not just watch other people do it. What this all comes down to is most of my days are spent working or angsting about not working.
4. If I had a million dollars…I would buy a house to make my very own and then promptly leave it to live somewhere abroad with my family for several months out of the year. I’d start with Norway and make my way to Singapore.
5. Tell us a secret? I’m frighteningly insecure. If my husband goes somewhere without me, I’ll always ask, “Did anyone wonder where I was?”
I’m terrified of being forgotten or overlooked. (Which might double as an answer to #2.)
Besides releasing excess weight, which you can see easily and is all kinds of exciting, I’ve been doing a lot of healing in my brain. You can find all the info about it this page. It’s not so simple to see on the outside like fitting in smaller pants, but it’s oh-so-very important and feels awesome.
You wake up and everyone is outside picking peas in the garden. It’s the morning at your parent’s home before the morning you’re going to leave and go home. This visit was too short and you won’t see them for a few months. Again. Maybe six or seven. Maybe eight on the outside.
Mom’s the fastest pea-picker. She’s got the most experience. Joe tries to keep up, but her fingers are defter and have years of practice.
Dad is pulling up weeds, then pea plants. Occasionally he looks over, evaluates what Mom is doing and then, copying her, manages to pick a pea pod and put it in his bowl. He’s unsure about what they’re doing out there, but wanting to be a part of things, he carries on.
You snap a few photos because that’s what you do and there is a safety, a distance, at watching your father fade away slowly through the lens of a camera. You can hardly make yourself look straight at him this trip. It takes a herculean effort to stare straight at the sun, eyes never wavering, and accept and love and hold him in your heart because it doesn’t even feel like him anymore. He’s almost not there at all but what is there still looks like him and smiles like him and smells like him, mostly. There’s a new scent about him now on top of the other more familiar ones. You can’t place it but wonder if it’s just the smell of getting older. It’s still him, just not quite him.
The cousins do a puzzle in two hours flat and when you interrupt in the middle to corral them outside so you can take photos, they roll their eyes dramatically like you’ve just asked them to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in clown suits.
But, they oblige with some good-natured, dramatic protesting, then ham it up for the camera.
Your sisters are some of the most beautiful people you know and they let you snap their photo.
And so do your brothers and your husband because recording every dang moment together feels important right now. Ever more important.
Most of the garden beds are flowers this year. What once held tomatoes and lettuce and carrots and other things that needed constant tending now hold wild flowers because there isn’t anyone with enough time and energy to tend them anymore. It’s beautiful and truthful and hard and sad. Dad can’t tell the difference between weeds and vegetable plants and Mom spends her days and nights watching over Dad.
She helps him with everything. Everything. You hear her in the other room reminding him to do the smallest things that you know he’s done millions of times in his lifetime, but now they are just beyond him. She gets him his snacks. Helps him take a nap. Reminds him who all the people are in the house that he doesn’t know. And a few seconds later he’ll ask again where the pretty flowers on the table came from and Mom will explain, again, that they are from the pretty bush he loves and planted in the front yard. You’ll smile, again, and tell him they smell lovely. Dad will nod. And then ask again in a few minutes. With every rotation of the conversation you can feel your heart hurting and it’s also just the way it is, so you deal with it and feel glad he’s still there to ask about the flowers at all.
Dad reads the paper. *You watch him turn it this way and that way, folding and unfolding, staring and looking and reading the same articles over and over. You look away because you remember what an avid reader he once was. You remember him reciting from memory poem after poem while you sat in mortified silence because you were embarrassed that your dad was such an old, stodgy nerd that would read those old, fogie poems and take the time to memorize them and then make you sit there for minutes on end, nay, all of eternity, while the phrases of Rudyard Kipling’s If rang out of his mouth, loud and clear, commanding the room at every family function.
What you’d give now to hear him be able to recite anything. Or even remember who you are. And you have pains in your soul in a way you can’t even describe. Too bad you didn’t pay attention to any of that poetry. That’s probably where the words are that escape you and you’re angry at your teen self for being so short-sighted and wasting valuable time being so…so…teen. Even with the confusion of all the hard things that were between you, you love him deeply and wish you could have a conversation about something, anything, even if it was hard.
You ask Mom if she’s lonely. You want to make sure she’s ok, that she doesn’t feel isolated or left too much alone, without support. She says she loves Dad as much as she ever did and considers this the next part of their partnership. She says she’s fine, that she takes care of herself along with Dad and not to worry. You worry anyway and you love her fiercely in a way that you didn’t know possible and the grief rises a little and you wash a few more dishes and wonder what you can do to be more supportive from hundreds of miles away.
You take out your camera for the annual photos for next December’s Christmas card. You snap shots, this way and that way, looking at your parents through the lens and wondering how things can be like they are. The frustration at how unfair it feels fades away as you do what comes second-nature. You check the light, check your f-stop, check for dust on the lens and realize there’s nothing on the lens that keeps making things look blurry, that’s just you. You stare with the safety of the lens into the eyes of your dad and try to find him in there.
Then, your husband grabs the camera and takes a shot of the three of you and you see you, with them, and maybe some of who the man your dad still might be deep inside himself looking back at you. At least you want to think so when he gives you a hug and says, “Thanks. Come again sometime soon. We like it when our friends come to visit.”
You wave goodbye to Mom who is standing by herself outside where they both used to stand when you left, blowing kisses and waving. And then you cry. And promise to come back soon before he fades too much further away. You hope. *And wouldn’t it be nice to believe that someday, maybe in heaven, Dad will be like he used to be or even better and you reconsider your non-belief of religion.
You get melancholy and your almost-twenty-year-old youngest son makes you laugh by buying a tshirt with a cow on it because it’s kinda funny and takes photos of it in bathroom mirrors where, as he says, all tall guys have problems seeing their heads.
You make friendship bracelets with him on the long drive home and think about how you don’t want to waste any moments and you realize he’s probably just humoring you, making knots and spending time creating “manly jewelry,” but you don’t care and you eat it up like it’s the best food you’ve ever eaten.
And you smile because he’s there and you’re with him and what else are you going to do, anyway, if not try to enjoy every moment possible before they fade away.
(*This was slightly edited after publishing.)
I started blogging in 2007 during my last year of art school. I didn’t really use my blog as much more than a place to post pictures of paintings, and thought of it more as a stand-in for a “real website.” But as I began to think more and more deeply about the actual source of my work, I couldn’t avoid the fact that every single image I made was, to one degree or another, a self-portrait. I was drawing from my own history and daily life in such a huge way in my visual practice that it started to seem strange not to speak about my own life when asked where a particular image came from or what my inspirations were as a visual artist. I started using the blog as a way to flesh those ideas out and to get comfortable talking about my personal experiences.
After graduating in 2008, I moved to the tiny northern Californian town of Calistoga. There is one stop light and one stop sign in Calistoga. It was a huge change and I was very isolated. I began leaning on the blog to an ever-increasing degree to simply maintain artistic, thoughtful, poetic connections to other people. I felt so removed from the art community I had only begun to explore in San Francisco. Attempting to nurture that connection over the internet was kind of my only option and one which I clung to as tightly as I could. I began to see the blog as a facet of my art practice in its own right, a place where I could experiment and test the boundaries of what I thought my work was all about. The things I wrote on my blog became more and more personal, more and more an act of exposure. And I was fulfilled by this. Even if no one was reading it, it felt good to put my words out in to the world. It felt good (and necessary) not to live in silence, to choose to tell the story of my own life in my own way. It felt good to know that, even if the blog was basically invisible to the world, it nevertheless existed. My words existed. I existed. And in the isolation of a tiny town, that feeling was so important to hold on to. The blog became a place of catharsis and connection, and it remains so.
I moved back to Oakland in 2012 and returned to the true profession of the artist: waiting tables. I work nights which is fantastic. Great money, a flexible schedule that allows for travel, and lots of time for art and writing. I wake up every day, write in my diary for an hour or two while I drink coffee, and then get a bit of art work done before shuffling off to the restaurant. Sometimes, I drop a yarnbomb on my way to work. It’s a very good life. I spend my days doing exactly what I want to do, and my nights learning about fine wine.
If I won a million dollars, I definitely wouldn’t wait tables anymore but the ins and outs of my daily routine would largely stay the same. I’d get to spend more time writing and more time making art and I would buy plane tickets left and right. I’d probably live out of hotel rooms for a while and just see the world. I’d throw my diary in my backpack and just go.
A secret? There’s a jacket hanging in my closet that I haven’t worn in years. My longest friend, Daniela, and I went in on it together when we were 14. It couldn’t have cost much. We bought it from a thrift store called Ralph’s Bargain Spot where we would spend tons of time when we skipped school. The jacket isn’t an attractive fit and the burgundy lining is almost completely shredded. It’s a spectacular pea-green plaid, with burgundy, orange, and black throughout. Most people would call it ugly but Daniela and I thought it was amazing. We would share the jacket, alternating weeks with it, and it was always such a painful moment to give it up or, conversely, such a hugely joyful moment to receive it again. It’s one of the few remaining items I have from my childhood. I have it and a teddy bear and that’s really all. I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll have it tailored so that I can wear it again. If I ever win that million dollars, I definitely will, and I’ll take it on the road with me and show it this wide world.