Monday

The Things We Do For Love...

A Decade of (Mostly) Blissful Marriage! 
In honor of our 10th Wedding Anniversary coming up, I've been strolling down memory lane remembering our early years.  This silly post is about some of our first dates - and it's a good segue to tell you about this incredibly funny book that I had the huge honor of contributing a story about Mark and I to -  and it is now available to order on Amazon!!  YAY!  I cannot tell you how excited I am to share this book with you! 


 I Just Want to Be Alone is a collection of humorous essays about the men in our lives, from 37 of the most Super Cool Lady Writers you'll find on the web. Including: People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Baby Sideburns, A.K. Turner, My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream, and Bad Parenting Moments.  I am so very proud of this book and I know you will absolutely love it and laugh so hard you'll feel like you're out with a few good friends having a giggle together. My story is about the joyful months we spent as an engaged couple.   Here's the link - check it out as soon as you get a chance! In the meantime, on with my story about our first few dates! 




***********************************************************************
Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river
Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea,
You lay your bets and then you pay the price
The things we do for love, the things we do for love
(Lyrics from the song "The Things We Do for Love" by 10cc's hit song from 1977.)


When I first met my husband, I was so smitten with him that I would've walked barefoot through fire to impress him if I thought it would help.  He was such a tall, dark, handsome drink of water full of energy and ideas and I just really wanted to be better and more adventurous than the Nervous Nelly, calculated risk taker/high maintenance fluff chick that I was trying to hide from him.



One of the first dates we went on, we went hiking.  It was my first time, but I pretended I was cool and knew what I was doing.  When I showed up with a Latte in one hand, a fun little Coach purse in the other, while sporting  a cute pair of BCBG  boots he was like, ummm, do you have any better shoes than that?  I did a double take.  Was he asking me if I had better shoes as in sexier, hotter, more stylish? Because how dare he question my fashion this early in!  I kind of laughed it off and said this was the only pair I brought.  Little did I know, I would be scaling mini mountains in my precious booties.  I insisted he go in front of me because I kept tripping on rocks and I looked like an ass most of the time just walking.  I did not want him to see how incredibly stupid and uncool I looked trying to hike up a hill in my adorable heels.  Look, I was born in the city - the only hiking I'd ever done was from the parking lot to the mall entrance.  I was raised in Ohio where it's flat.  What did I know about scaling the side of a mountain to picnic on a bluff? The only bluffing I was doing was pretending that I was having a good time. About half way through the hike, I wanted to start complaining. I had to pee from drinking way too much coffee & I was sweating my flawless makeup job away.  The bugs were bothering me, the shoes were killing me, I was scared and I was getting tired of tripping on tree roots.  The things we do for love, I thought.  Son-of-a-.  I got myself into this and now I had to deal with it. I had to do whatever I could to combat my fear and loathing of the buggy outdoors.  He was just way too much of a catch to screw it up. Suck it up buttercup - you and your booties need to soldier on.
Nevermind Namaste...Na-must-not-stay long up here where the bugs are.
We had a nice picnic at the top of the ledge and I have to admit, regardless of the countless black flies that lost their lives in my mascara, I was having a great time.  The smell of the outdoors was actually invigorating.  Well, it was either the outdoors or the swirling manly smell of pheromones and first weeks of dating that was blindly intoxicating.  As I ignored the throbbing of my ankles and the pain shooting through my back, I looked at this handsome Marlboro Man and hoped for the best.  We managed to get back to the car without me rolling my ankle or losing an eye to a foreign object, so date one was a success!  (To this day, I still go hiking with the boys and Hubs, but I complain. The whole time.  I figure eventually they will tell me I don't have to come anymore.  For now, I provide comic relief via whining during the hike itself.)

A few days later, he asked me if I'd like to go sailing on his boat up in Maine.  Ohhh, a sailboat...he's got a sailboat...!  I was so giddy, in fact, that I managed to forget my history of boating mishaps.  Sidenote: my family is Greek.  My mom was born on a little island of the Mediterranean called Cyprus.  It is surrounded by water.  Many Greeks are sailors and shippers, shipbuilders, Captains of cruise ships, etc.  It is in our blood to love the water, to have our sea legs at birth.  But keeping my tradition of my DNA screw ups, I was born with the seasickness gene.  Most Greeks have olive skin - my olive skin was of the green kind.  Put me on a ship, boat, canoe, catamaran, and watch me turn into the hazy shade of goblin.  I'd been on a boat a handful of times in my life, none of them ended well.  The craziest thing was that my ultimate dream job was to be a cruise director.  You never saw Julie McCoy throwing up on the side of the boat did you?  Some cruise director I would've been. Thank goodness my life took me on the course of a flight attendant instead, or I would've been fired on day one - that is, if they every found me hiding on the floor kneeling by the toilet.


Back to the second date.  YES YES YES!  Of course I'd will go sailing with him!  In my mind, I had a flashback to Message in a Bottle and remembered Robin Wright as she had a whirlwind romance with Kevin Costner.  My romantic side blinded me of my little problem/aversion to boating and I found myself agreeing to the whens and wheres of our next date. Mental note:  try to cut back on Nicholas Sparks movies, they only lead to bad decisions.



I carefully picked out the cutest, most spectacular Nautical outfit that was both sexy and appropriate for sailing.  My hair and makeup was done with great care - every date was an investment in my future with this spectacular fresh catch of the Atlantic waters.  We arrived at the marina and walked down the spectacular row of  boat-lined docks that seemed to go on for miles. I stopped to take a photo. I was full of optimism and excitement at the adventure ahead.  I was overconfident and oblivious to what could possibly lie ahead...and blinded by love peppered with optimism, I never even suspected how very wrong this date could go. Blue skies and the smell of saltwater in the air were absolutely invigorating and attacking my senses.

 We finally reached our slip and I realized I was going to have to do some form acrobatics to get up on deck.  My capris were a little too - a-hem form fitting, yes that's it.  Okay, tight -  they were too damn tight because I bought them that way to discourage overeating.  Please don't let me split my pants..I thought to myself.  I made it up on deck by some miracle and start looking around at the gorgeous, high-gloss, sparkling clean wooden deck.  I followed him around, trying to make small talk, but things start to get serious.  There are mad skills needed to work this sailboat.  Apparently, there was no room for joking when maneuvering out of the slip without hitting another boat.  I stayed quiet but started to think I might need a drink, and soon.

I was in the way no matter where I sat.  I tried to move here and there, front to the back, side to the side.  Finally we were sailing.  The breeze was causing my hair to whip me in the face, poke me in the eye, and smudge my lip gloss.  I could feel my blood pressure rising as my high maintenance tendencies started to kick in.  He got comfy at the helm and we started making some conversation. About a half hour went by as we made our way out on the beautiful blue Atlantic.  I watched him as he guided the boat with confidence and know-how and I'm getting all warm and fuzzy just seeing him there.  Wait.  Warm. Fuzzy.  Blurry.  Nauseous.  Oh God. No.  It's happening.  It's happening quickly.  I'm going down, and things are coming up.  Shit Shit Shit! Are you OK, Oh my gosh, are you OK??? Are you seasick?? Hello???  I could hear his voice coming in and out as I held my hair and vomited over the side.  Look away! I begged....I'm fine - I'm fine, I'll be fine!  I tried to convince myself.  I tried to will myself to pull it together, but my legs went out from under me. I now have puke in my hair from the effing wind blowing my once-spectacular hair in my stream of vomit. My eyes are watering, my mascara is running.  This is a worst-case scenario right here.   He took me to the bow, laid me down in the warm sun and put a cold washcloth on my head and blankets on my body.  I was shivering cold and sick as a dog.  He was seeing me at my worst and there was nothing I could do.  I was certain the smell of funk was radiating from my pores and magnified in the sun.  I am SO not going to be invited on another date.  Nice going dumb ass.  Nice going.

We made it back to my place in one piece.  I swear the minute my feet touched dry land I was perfectly fine.  Talk about a bad joke.  All that money on a fabulous outfit and all I have to show for it is a picture (see above) he took of me during the height of my suffering.  I was curled up in a ball on the deck of the boat with my face and lips pressed up against the cool touch of the soft wood.  That beautiful day, I kissed the deck and I liked it.  Love me now, love me forever. Luckily, he did.

Later that day, all I could think of was this was strike 2.  He was probably thinking what kind of idiot wears heels to go hiking, and goes sailing with seasickness tendencies.  Later I learned he thought it was all very sweet that I would agree to step outside of my comfort zone to take an interest in what he loves.  Awww, it did work!  Date 3 was a weekend trip to Boston to go shopping.  Smart man.  He set me up to really succeed that day.

We went on several more sailing trips but stayed very close to harbor while I wore a Dramamine patch, sucked on Ginger candy, sported  seasickness bands on my wrists instead of cutesy jewelry like on the our first date.  I probably should've had him tie me to the sailboat like Bill Murray in What About Bob so I could yell, "I'm sailing! I sail!  I'm doin' the work - I'm not a slacker!" Instead, I found a place on that friendly deck I loved so much, and  I focused on the horizon just like they tell you to.  I looked ahead at the blue skies with hopes and dreams that life really is good once you find the right companion and stop throwing up from seasickness.

To this day, he continues to put the wind in my sails, and I put the wind in his, only from the safety and calmness of shore.  He knows I'll never be much of a sailor, and he's okay with that.  The sailboat is no longer his.  It now belongs to a bachelor somewhere on the other side of the world and I'm certain that high gloss, shiny cool deck is being loved by another girl.  I'm okay with that because we'll always have Maine.  My husband is fine with that, too.  He is still at the helm - only this time it's of our family. 

Happy 10th to the love of my life - he has just about established Sainthood for putting up with me! 
xo
DG
More about I Just Want to Be Alone...here is an excerpt from my piece.



Here are the links to the coolest lady writers who contributed stories to the book:

Book Memes:






Thursday

3 Simple Ways to Help a Child in Need



Last night I was watching the Evening News with Diane Sawyer where they shared a YouTube video from a campaign in Norway "to call attention to the harsh conditions facing children displaced by the conflict in Syria and to provide warm clothing this winter. Nearly 4.3 million children in Syria live in poverty, are displaced, or are in the lines of fire, and nearly 1.2 million Syrian children live as refugees in surrounding countries."

Here is the video - please, if you have a minute - watch it - and I know you want to know the translation of the words being exchanged, but it truly doesn't matter.  The little boy is an actor for the campaign.  Though usually I HATE those undercover shows, punk'd, candid camera setups - I understand why they did this. Go ahead and watch it...




(to donate to SOS..click here https://give.sos-usa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1808&ea.campaign.id=25385&ea.tracking.id=1X1402WQX01 )


It's hard to watch.  But it is so important to see.  As you watch it, are you thinking about who is going to give what to the boy? Are you saying to yourself , "I'd just give him my coat?" We're all watching this video and all different thoughts are running through our head - but the one thing that we can't shake is the sound of how cold he is.  The importance of complete strangers to help someone in need is overwhelming - and though my heart absolutely breaks for the children that are suffering from wars in so many different countries, I am fighting this battle in my own backyard.  Though I DO NOT DARE compare the kids that are suffering here with the plight of those poor children, the video reminded me of the basic human kindness we need in our day to day lives.  I just thought I would use my blog to share my experience with you.

I've spent the last several years volunteering for a non-profit that gives outerwear to kids who don't have any.  Much like John up there, they are out in the bitter cold -  freezing - and they are relying on the kindness of strangers.  I have seen children walk into our tiny little space of an office during our distribution days with slippers on because they don't have shoes...with pajamas on because it's all they have to stay warm..with a hooded sweatshirt because they have no hat.  Every year that I've been giving away boots and coats, the amount of children in need goes up by the hundreds.  It is absolutely baffling, that an area like this in New Hampshire, where people have SECOND homes on the big lake that are so many thousands of square feet that they need a Segway to get from one end to the other, has this many children who do not have the basic necessities to live day to day. It crushes me to think that there are kids in school who do not have what they need to be the best student they can be - from the basics of food, showers, oral hygiene - to school supplies - school lunches - etc. There are some resources in our individual communities, but not enough. These children are suffering.  It's not their fault - they are just babies, and they need help.

We can go on with our daily lives not knowing about these kids, looking the other way at our kids' classroom parties when we see the kids whose clothing doesn't fit, or we can choose to do something.  We can ask questions.  We can find out how we can help.  I'm not saying we can save everyone - but the tiniest thing can be so huge to someone else.

By talking about it, we are admitting that there is a problem.  We are saying that we have a responsibility to do our part in our own towns to help in whatever way we can.  It doesn't take that much - hell, it doesn't even take money; just a little time out of your day and a little effort to find out the needs of your community.

From my experience, I can tell you that there are 3 easy things you can do to help.

1.  If you have a coat, snowpants or boots that do not fit your child, gently wash them and give them to the school nurse.  If the school doesn't already have a care closet like this, it is a great idea for the PTA/PTO to bring before the administration to establish.  A care closet at school can keep the bare necessities for children to have access to as teachers/nurses/aides see fit.  This is something anyone can do if something doesn't fit anymore!

2.  Ask the school nurse/guidance counselors or ask your PTO to find out what the need for supplies in the school is - breakfast bars, crackers, applesauce are easy to donate and store to create a School Food Pantry if your district doesn't provide one.  There are many children who go to the nurse's office with a belly ache - because they are simply hungry. Communities have food pantries for adults to go for food, why shouldn't schools do the same?  Instead of having a food drive for them, have a food drive for the school and feed the children that are hungry right under that roof first! 

3.  Other supplies such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other personal hygiene products go a long way for families of students.  These are easy drives to organize - sometimes local churches, banks, etc are willing to host the drive.  Big Lots is known to let schools set up a weekend-long drive for patrons to buy toothbrushes, shampoo, etc and give it to the care box for the school.  Student Council or National Honor Society and clubs like that are always looking for community service-type of events, get them involved and have them help get donations!

A few years ago, I helped establish a Care Closet at our middle school.  With the help of extreme couponing, really great sales, donations from Walgreens and other stores in town, we stocked up the closet with all of the basic needs for kids who needed it.  The closet has been visited over 1000 times just this school year.  Kids can go in and get toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary pads, etc - no questions asked.  We even did a semi-formal swap where people donated dresses and were able to find something to wear to the dance without having to buy anything.  Some of the kids who were in need brought shoes that no longer fit them to give in return.  Students that were once on the receiving end, were now on the giving end, creating a community of care.  It's a beautiful thing when you can teach a child that they too can care for someone else in various ways.

We are never going to be able to help everyone - whether they are children in another country, another state, another city.  We can try - and we can try with all of our might but we can only do so much.  I think there is great power in starting with those suffering in your every day life that you see and walk by every single day. Start with them.  Once you start, the feeling you get in return will propel you forward to do more.

To donate a coat, find your local One Warm Coat location on the link below.  It's just that simple.
http://onewarmcoat.org/donate/donate-a-coat-v1/

Coats for Kids:
http://www.coats-for-kids.org//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=28

If you made it this far - thank you. It's been a really hard winter & tough to see so many in need but we have to keep trying.

Until next time,
Do good.  Feel good.  Be good.  
xo
DG


Saturday

10 Things You Must Know to Build a Successful Facebook Page - as told by SNL alumni.

www.someecards.com

Not long ago, I was reading a post about Fantasy Football and how you could have a chimp pick your team out of a hat and have just as successful of a season as someone who researched every player.  Last night I read an article about how to run a Facebook page and effectively promote it.  I read it and it was so ridiculous and vague that it reminded me of those articles and prompted me to write this blog today.


I can't get those ten minutes back, but I can make light of what a hilarious article it was.  I would post it for you to read here, but it's like when you realize the milk is spoiled and you insist that someone else taste it to verify what you already know.  It's like cruel and unusual punishment.  I'll spare you that and cut right to the funny.

Here are a few highlights of the article:  and this might be funnier to those of us who actually run Facebook Fan page than to those who don't...but here they are, regardless:

*You need to create interesting and informative content - really? because I kind of thought stupid content would really drive traffic to my page! There goes that theory!

* If your content is drab, rest assured that none will engage with you and you cannot build the right Facebook community. - that depends - maybe I WANT to build a drab FB community.

*You must post thought-provoking content - thinking is overrated.


By poking fun of that article, what I am saying is that there can be countless articles written about how to build your Facebook page, but if your posts are not being seen by anyone then what good is any of it?

Based on this article, I've decided to put my expertise, or lack of, into my own How to Build Your Facebook Page - using one liners from SNL's most popular and wise characters.  I hope you will find this information as helpful as I found the article I referred to above.   If nothing else, perhaps a laugh at how absolutely ludicrous it is to try to make sense of the nonsense that Facebook has become.  

On a serious note however, if you really are looking for answers on building your FB page, your blog, your Twitter, etc - please consider joining us at the BlogU conference!
BLOG U INFO HERE!
 
And now back to the funny.
 

10 Things You Must Know to Build a Successful Facebook Page - as told by SNL alumni.

1.  The Church Lady: Acknowledge that you are not in control of your page.

2.  Only Post Quality Content: If it's not Scottish, it's Crap.

3. Find someone to partner with: The Sweeney Sisters are a good example.

4.  When in doubt, add more cowbell.

5.  Have Giveaways and Promotions: Like Free Schweddy Balls
6.  Always post about Coffee. People love coffee.
7.  Motivate your audience - use scare tactics and threats if you have to.

8.  Don't talk about how great you are and how many fans you have - no one cares.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4gGJxgpQkI
9.  Ask simple questions to engage your audience.  


10. Don't be a dick.  People might like a dick in a box..but they don't like a dick FB admin.

See how easy it is to write a post about a hosting a successful Facebook page?  So easy, even a caveman can do it.

"He used to be a caveman,
but now he's a lawyer.
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer!"
 

Until the next blog...remember this:
you can't make sense out of nonsense - but you sure can laugh about it...
no nooo they can't take that away from me...
~DG

Tuesday

World Cancer Day



To Marilyn...
I never knew a soldier so tiny yet so brave, courageous and strong. You used laughter as a shield and humor as your sword.  No one will ever say you didn't give it the fight of your life. Because you did.

World Cancer Day.

Important to acknowledge? Yes.
A necessity to raise awareness? Yes.
An easy day? No.
It's no Fourth of July - there are no picnics, no fireworks, no parades or echoes of laughter.
It's the Fourth of February - and it hurts.
The Fourth of July is warm and sunny decorated in green grass and red roses...the Fourth of February is hopeless and cold, bitter and barren.

Cancer has put so many people through hell - not just the afflicted, but their loved ones, too.  Their survivors carry the burden of the memories left behind.

I had just moved in with my fiancĂ©.  We were in the middle of wedding planning mania when my soon -to-be sister-n-law took a turn.  The cancer had spread to her brain and she would opt to remove the tumor - an option she took when it was in her breasts, her ovaries, and countless other places.  She was going to fight to the death.

She remained optimistic through every grim appointment I took her to, always using jokes to shield me from her fear or her pain. She took on the role of protector, guarding her loved ones from the harsh truths of this disease.  I humored her, because it was the only way I could cope.  We made constant jokes.  It's all we had left.

I loved her chili.  She made damn good chili.  The night before she went in for the brain tumor operation, I got this email...it would be the last email I would ever receive from her.

                      Hey you...here is my chili recipe just in case they remove the tumor AND the part of my  brain that holds the right ingredients for the chili.  xoxo Marilyn



I laughed-but then I cried.  I was scared for her.  I had always wanted a sister and Marilyn and Mark's other brother's wife was the closest I had gotten.  The wedding was just weeks away and I asked her and Dina to be bridesmaids. Soon, I would have two sisters.  They squealed out a YESSSS as quickly as the question left my lips. But fear was looming along with the dark cloud of that surgery.

She was never the same after that surgery.  She couldn't connect words anymore, and the confusion that was becoming a more permanent look on her face replaced the sly grin she often wore while being silly.  She suffered a pretty bad infection that prompted part of her skull to need removed. She needed a helmet for daily activities...she bedazzled the shit out of that thing, letting us see glimpses of her personality resurface here and there. Her friends and family came out in droves to help pass her time during those days.  She was loved deeply by so many.

Dina and I  had the opportunity, to go down and be with her during her post-surgery days.  We could see her when we looked in her eyes.  She was still there, only behind a veil of illness and fatigue. Dina and I bonded in a way that only terror and grief can make happen - we would look at each other with uncertainty and sadness on the bad days, watching hope actually diminish over a period of weeks.

When we would help her shower, the scars were tattooed all over her body like she had walked through a land mine.  Remnants and remainders of previous battles, some won, some lost - all just temporary outcomes in a bigger, more vicious battle.

She made it to my wedding and for that I am grateful.  She died only a few weeks later on one perfectly sunny day in June.  Her red hair and porcelain skin glistened from heaven all the way down to earth, being seen in flowers and trees, rays of sun and sparkling waters. On days when I start to lose focus on what is really important, I only need look around and I see a reminder from her in a bird flying by, a butterfly landing on a flower, fresh falling snow or the roar of a fire, and I remember how fragile we are and how precious life truly is.

I miss her. I miss our long talks - but I really miss her laugh. 

I won't let her death be in vain.  I don't sweat the small stuff if I can't help it - I revel in the simple things - I laugh at every opportunity, and I love as much as I can, as often as I can, and let as many as humanly possible feel that love.

I hope, on this fourth of February, you pause to remember those who fought this battle, and you honor them by living and loving as much as your heart can stand it.

xo,
DG

PS - When my brother- n- law was mourning Marilyn's death, he met us out one night for dinner.  He was sad, lonely, tired and worn down from the grief.  We told stories, and he laughed - and he laughed harder - and louder and he released so much grief through that laughter.  The waitress came over to our table and asked us if we could keep it down, that his laughter was annoying the other customers.  That made us laugh harder and louder. We weren't drunk, we weren't offending anyone. We were sad and consumed with grief - and we just didn't want to be sad for a while - so we laughed instead.  You just never know what someone is going through.  That night was incredibly therapeutic for him and for all of us...so to the woman at the table behind us that was annoyed by the laughter from our table - sorry, not sorry.