Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween memories

So I'm shamelessly entering to win a Canon Rebel camera from SITS. For those of you that haven't heard of SITS, it's a blogging community and great way to find other blogs.  Just to get that out of the way. :) This post is an entry. To win, I have to write about my best Halloween memory.

Cora is all that's on my mind these days, as you might imagine, so it's hard to reach back to past memories. I had one Halloween with Cora. I was pregnant with her last year. And, really pregnant! Entering my final month. I remembered dreaming of this year and the pumpkin patch.  

But, a particular memory stands out. For some reason, we decided to go somewhere in the middle of Trick or Treat. Ben said to sit the bowl of candy out on the porch. We gave away whole Hershey's bars that year because we knew we wouldn't have that many trick or treaters, and we'd bought a whole box from Sam's Club for my baby shower.

I was so shocked to come back and see some were gone, but not all of them. Ah. Life in a small town. Looks pretty nice especially compared to living here, where UPS packages are stolen off your front porch moments after their delivered. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Advocate

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
Winston Churchill

Someone, actually quite rudely, told me that they were annoyed by what I wrote, they rolled their eyes, that I didn't have to "advocate" for everything.

I can see how I might become "that girl." The fanatic always in arms about something.

In this case, I really don't care if I'm generalized.

I give voice to those without one.

I work to help the babies in Haiti, babies born with congenital heart defects, woman in Iran, or to support other mother's whose children died because I feel for them with my whole heart. I'm compassionate.

I'm even compassionate to the bratty person that said that. If they must sit back and judge someone else for speaking up, perhaps they feel voiceless? I get angered for a minute, but then feel nothing but compassion.

Let me be painted the wild fanatical blogger always taking up a new cause.

It's much better than the alternative, never sticking up for anything I believe in.

I've read the emails of the CHDs detected, the crutches delivered to a needy person in Haiti, and the eyes opened to the plight of the Iranian women because of what I do.

I embrace the criticism that I advocate too much.

It's what I do now. After what I went through, I can't close my eyes to the pain in the world anymore.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Makes Me Happy

I've mentioned before, it was about six months after Cora died before I could watch television, a few months after that until I could focus on a book again, and I'm just know starting to find happiness and joy in well, stuff, again.

I found this post on Epherriel Designs about what makes her happy, and after my late night Wizard of Oz scavengering  post the other day, decided for another search, of what makes me happy. 

I just recently discovered Mod Podge, this button from this blog says it

When we move, I'm making these invisible floating book shelves. They're so geeky, and they make me happy.

My husband surprising me with a massage? Makes me extremely happy. 

I've had a hidden obsession with nurseries for awhile now, just keeping it from everyone so I don't get the "so sad" looks and comments. They make me happy. 

Most of all, Cora's nursery, even though it's boxed up, given away, and torn down makes me happy. So many happy memories there. 

Easy, Cheap Picture Frame Craft Project-- A Going Away Present {Tutorial}

My  baby sister is moving away in just over a week.

So she's not a baby, she's 26, but she'll forever be my baby sister, as much as she hates it when I call her that. I always looked after her and did all the big sister stuff. This past year, the rules reversed. She looked after me, and I wasn't there to help her through everything like I used to be. I just couldn't handle anything else. She did an amazing job and is leaving on a great note.

She's my BFF as well, and I'm going to miss her so much, but am excited she's getting the opportunity to go after her dream. 

I decided to show her that even though I'm going through a rough time, I'm still in here somewhere, the big sister that always listened to her carefully, thought of how I could help her, and just thought she was the most adorable person ever.

I made her a picture frame. A total midnight run to Wal-Mart thing one night after I found an easy tutorial about how to make a picture frame online.

It was way easy to make. Here's what I used:
Large craft beads (found in the crafting aisle-- the type I found where more bubbly than those in the tutorial, but they worked). 
  • Mod Podge 
  • Glue (The kind I used was similar to this)
  • Picture frame (Picked to fit the craft beads)
  • Magazine scraps

I leafed through the magazine and found bright colors. She's moving to New York City and will probably be tucked in some pre-war hole in the wall apartment, so I wanted something colorful for her walls.

I then used the mod podge to put the scraps on the back of the craft beads, left it dry a bit and then glued them to the frame.

Totally easy, right? And, cheap. I whipped up a collage on one of the photo sites and voila, instant meaningful wall art as a going away present. 

She loved it and looked at me in awe when I said I made it myself. I didn't explain how easy it was. After all, big sisters have to keep up their reputations of pulling of the impossible.

 Told ya she loved it! Look at that happy grin.

Disclosure: When I linked to Amazon, I used my affiliate link 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Opening My Reader Closed My Book

Wow. Just had one of those moments of muttering "yes, yes" with a nod of the head at a blog post written by an insanely popular blogger but yet, I felt like he wrote it just for me.

Seth Godin is a marketing guy, or something, honestly, have much respect for the him and his work, but don't understand it all.

As I've written about over and over and over and over and over and over and so many times you're all just rolling your eyes sick of hearing about it, I'm frustrated with were I am career wise. For the past few years, I've struggled to know what to do. My chose profession, newspaper is dying. I don't think newspaper will ever die totally, but the papers aren't hiring reporters like they used to, and from what I've heard, the job of a reporter has changed in the past ten years or so.

So, anyhow, yes, yes, I'm 28 and don't know what I want to do when I grow up. But, this Seth fellow is mega popular and read by thousands, if not millions, he wrote this: 
"You might be impatient or unable to stick to your decision to take this particular road, and thus you're always starting on a new road. Since the new road is always strange to you, you rarely get any better at getting where you're going.
 And, if you're lucky, you might be on the right road, and getting better as you go."

Go read the rest of his post.

A total "uh, huh" moment. In middle school, I decided to be a writer, and specifically, a news reporter. Perhaps my dreams of again having my words published in news print daily are not going to come true, but a writer, and in media, I shall be.

I need a career tweak, not a career change. My search is for what I want to be over.

Thanks Seth! Now, I know why you're insanely popular and well known, you're pure genius!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Inspired. Somewhere Over the Rainbow Edition

If you read my post on Cora's Story, you'll notice a theme. The past few weeks I've been inspired by "The Wizard of Oz." Maybe because I read the book, "Wicked," all about the Wicked Witch of the West last week.

The Wizard of Oz brings out something ingenuous.

Stuff I found and loved all Wizard of Oz inspired. 

Ruby red shoes for a little Dorothy... cute! From Snuggle-Bugs and Bows on Etsy. 

Perfect for a home office? From Signs of a Daydreamer's Etsy shop.

Want. Cute little wallet. From CranberryLover's Etsy shop.

"PoppiesPoppiesPoppies will put them to sleep." I'm starting to get a little obsessed with poppies now too. A print from Orange Willow's Etsy shop.

*I wasn't paid, and haven't even contact any of the shop owners. Just thought I'd start sharing some of my Etsy/homemade/awesome stuff finds!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I quit Facebook.

I did it. What many have threatened. Many have thought about.

I quit Facebook.

For a while now, something about Facebook, or “Dramabook” as a friend called it, wasn't sitting right with me. I’d said a few times I felt like a stranger in my own profile. When it comes down to it, there were a lot of reasons I quit Facebook. Well, and to be fair, I still run Cora’s page and a page for this blog and have a tiny profile I don’t plan on updating to run them from. So, I didn’t totally leave Facebook.

But, I quit my personal page.

1. Everything was a debate. I’m known for a love of debating/arguing and really thinking about things with my friends. But, there’s a time and a place. Sometimes, I just wanted to post how I felt and get support or to vent. But, it seems like my status updates were starting to be place for everyone to argue and debate over whatever it was. I just didn’t have the energy to moderate and calm egos to make sure no one was attacked/offended.

2. OMG the drama!! Every few weeks, or couple of days, “fights” would erupt. And, yes, I deleted those people that caused the most of it, but still heard about it, and was just annoyed.

3. It was too hard. In a week, 13 children died whose parents were on Facebook and connected to me there. I cried so much. At one point, I called the pharmacy to see if I had a refill for an old anti-anxiety medication, something I’d taken for just a few months immediately after Cora’s death. While I want to be there for people, it was ripping me to little shreds. I still seek out families to offer words of comfort on their blog, and through Cora’s Facebook page, but having it forced down my throat was so much.

4. Facebook was messing with my head. Really. It was. I might jump on to share a link and a baby coffin would pop up in my feed or something else that I was unprepared for. The shock of these images was only making my PTSD worse. I’m sure of it.

5. I can’t intimately keep up with 1400 people. That’s about how many were on my friend’s list. And, I’m a caring person. I cared for (almost) all of them. If I read that someone was having a bad day, I took to learn why and help them fix it. I got upset at their problems. I worried about their financial situations, their health, their grandparent’s health. You name it. But, to get that emotionally involved with 1400 people? Exhausting. I feel bad saying it. I feel bad for abandoning these people, most strangers. Facebook has become a place where people share intimately designed for people to either abandon it or become close with all. It’s impossible to share that sort of intimacy with 1400 people.

6. I was getting rather irritated at Facebook’s lack of regard for my privacy and data. I was a fan of the new group’s feature, thought it might help me control my use, but that backfired when I found strangers being added to my groups because of a Facebook design flaw.

7. I was spending too much time on Facebook. Facebook became integrated in what I did to spread Cora’s Story, but I spent waayyyy too much time there. I’m going to write a post about how I’m using that time now.
8. Facebook constantly made me feel bad. It’s true. I was constantly getting messages about what people were saying. People questioning what I was doing. I share Cora’s Story. I share her love and beauty period. At the end of this, I’ll share a story about the worse of this.

9. While many people on my friend’s list loved, or at least appreciated me, some flat out hated me. I found out after that people told other people we didn’t “get along” or other things. And you know what? To be honest? There were one or two I didn’t like much either.

10. I met some really black hearted, morally corrupt people there. First, for every one of them, let me say, I met 500 good people, literally. But, just like in the real world there are some really bad people, there are also on Facebook and in online communities. I didn’t want to see it. I deleted them after I found out. But, getting messages from a wife that her husband was cheating on her? Flipped me out. It was gross. I didn’t want to know. And, I didn’t want to be in any way related to those people. And, drug use. And, accepting drug money, because someone was broke. And, then with others kids being taken away for abuse allegations. I’m all for accepting and forgiving people, but if they were in the middle of this stuff? I didn’t need them near me. I deleted anyone with anything like that over their head, but it came to my attention that there could be more evilness.

11. I was getting news of harassment. I read nasty profile updates. And, then started getting notes from my friends that they were being tracked down to get a note about how awful I was. Too much. Too silly. Too much drama. That folks? Is harassment. I considered contacting the proper authorities. And, that’s when I decided the time had come. For me to quit Facebook.

12. My family and friends seemed afraid of my Facebook. They read all this crazy stuff I think and didn’t comment on my stuff anymore. And, isn’t that Facebook is about? Connecting with family and friends? At least personal accounts.

13. Facebook seems to breed bullies and hate. I think Facebook is where people first started gathering and hating on my friend Jill because of a choice she made. You probably know her story. She was harassed on the very day her son died. Just like it brings people together for good, it helps people build on the bad. It's where the inactivists first gathered against her. I'm not sure Facebook is to blame itself, I think this happens on any large social networking site, but I'm done with hate. I'm done with negativity. Just done with it.

So I quit. I worried that people would take it personally and think I’d blocked or deleted them, part of why I write this. I deleted almost everyone off my list individually if I had a big problem with them. It wasn’t you.
Interestingly enough, my decision was reaffirmed just an hour or so after I left. I thought a group I’d made for just the heart families on my list would delete when I left. I heard it did not and that there was drama there, so I reactivated and rejoined just to delete that group.

And in the chat of my own little <3 family? The little group I’d made for love and support? I saw people bashing me. It hurt. But, I also realized how little some of these people knew about me or cared to know. One said mean things but acknowledged I’d taken time to “find links to share” like all this time, all these relationships I created, all those links I WROTE myself didn’t matter. The crazy thing? I didn’t even recognize that girl’s name. Have no clue who she is. Another wrote about how dramatic I was. For months, I hid what I knew about others and just deleted them. I rarely ever commented publicly about anything to do with the infighting. I did choose to write a status update with my contact info when I left, but dramatic, they had no clue.

If you’re on Facebook and have people you’ve added that you don’t personally know, think about it. Really think about that choice and apply a filter to what they say. And, use the delete option to weed your friend's list. It's YOUR Facebook. Don't let it get out of control. Learn from me and my mistakes.

If we used to be Facebook friends, please stay in touch, on my Facebook page for this blog or through email. I’m at kbrite at gmail dot com.

Do you have reasons why you'd like to quit Facebook some times?

And, oh yeah, I also moderate these comments now! So be nice.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010. Take steps to make sure everyone has clean, safe water.

Today is Blog Action Day 2010. I know it's late, but wanted to join in because I believe that blogs can bring changes. 

As of this posting over 5000 blogs participated today. The topic is water.

Something, I think almost all of us take for granted. Something in this country that is a given, just like the air we believe.

In other places? Not so much. 

Each year over 38,000 children under the age of 5 die because of lack of clean water.

I wrote that in red type for a reason. This is a red alert. People need our help.

What can we do?

Honestly, I'm just learning myself about what steps we can take, but my fellow bloggers at Hobo Mama and PhDinParenting wrote awesome posts with detailed explanations. So, go there to learn more, but to help quickly and effectively today:

Stop the water bottle habit. We have this habit. We are stopping it. By commercializing water, we're limiting it's access. Plus, all those plastic bottles aren't good for the environment.

Donate to organizations working to provide wells and clean water.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Healer

This is one of those stories that if someone was telling me, I’d raise eyebrows in suspicion, or lower my head and listen carefully, but thinking that they were mistaken, or being dramatic.

But, have to share this moment. Have to write about it.

For weeks, and well, really, most of the past few years, I’ve lamented over what to do now. What next?

I majored in journalism, worked in newspaper, which I liked, but had a bad experience with a witch of an editor, and after that worked from home as a freelancer/contractor.

Just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I found myself on unemployment, laid off.

I knew that I’d be a mommy. I might freelance or work a bit, but mainly, I was looking forward to being at home and a mommy.

Cora died.

I was a stay-at-home-mom without a living child.

It’s been odd. Newspaper is a dying field. So, going back to that isn’t a huge option. And, I love the stay at home flexibility. I think I’d be great working, doing something on my own as my own boss.

But, it bothers me a lot. I feel like I’ve failed at making a living for myself because well, I have.

We’re building to something, I promise.

I was driving the other day, don’t even remember for sure where I was going, but distinctly remember the spot on the road that it came to me. Almost as someone else. A word popped up in my mind and was so clear. So different. It just came to me, like from somewhere else.


What does that mean?

I had no clue. I instantly connected it to what I was thinking about on the fringes, what I’m meant to do. All my life, I’ve searched not just for a career or a job but a role.

That’s what this was. My role.






I don’t know yet. But, somehow, it came to me, my role.

I don’t know what a healer does. This isn't Harry Potter or some novel. We don't have "healers" in or society, or do we?  I’ve never been one to think I could go into medicine, so I don’t know about that type of healing. I really honestly, don’t know. What other types of healers are there? Are there other types of healers?

But, thought I’d share the moment.

Something I struggle capturing on paper.

Something that’s never happened to me before.

My scientific mind wants to find an explanation, or explains it away by saying this was just my brains way of answering.

I can’t make you believe because you aren’t me and weren’t inside of my head in that moment.

A healer.


(Keeping comments open, but I can see where they might go, please respect that I've got a different set of religious beliefs than many of you)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Comparing pet loss to child loss.

Because, for this, I have no words.

This was a post on a Facebook event about lighting a candle on October 15. 

I thought the world ended when my dog died. She was by childhood pet. Always by my side. She had cancer and was having these seizures. One afternoon, came home to find her in pain. Scooped her up and rushed her to the vet. Heard her make a death rattle. She died in my arms.

It sucked.

Like really sucked. Like my friends and I drove two hours to bury her and had a service and even they cried.

But, ummm, please, really, THINK. Having a dog's loss compared to my child's loss? It hurts.

And, yes, I'm the sensitive sort.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

At My High School, We Were All Bullies. #GayIsOk

High school seniors with legs flopped over the seats in front of us in the auditorium, waiting for one senior activity or meeting or another, friends I didn’t get talk to often and I caught up, sharing our after high school plans.

The next year, I was headed to Indiana University’s main campus in Bloomington. A hippy dippy school where farm girls like me went in conservative, Catholic, and scared to question anything mainstream, and came out liberal, Buddhist, and knowing everything should be questioned.

“You’re going there?!?!” My ‘friend’ asked. “Didn’t know you that place is full of gay people! It’s the gay capitol of the state,” she exclaimed.

I sat back in absolute horror.

Oh, you guessed it, not horror at what she said, but horror that it might be true.

I’d never met an openly gay person. Oh, I spotted one once at a school play, a former student and actor game back for the play and from a few rows over, my friends whispered about how he’d “come out” in college and we all threw him side way glances to get a good look at what exactly a gay person looked like.
But, was I headed off to a gay school? Was everyone thinking I was? Even thought it’s a large state school, less than ten people from my graduating class were going there. It wasn’t what people did. I was doing something different.

Because I’m not giving myself enough credit, I always knew I didn’t quite agree with the high school foolishness and urged to get out, but didn’t know how to or what that meant.

But, was my sometimes friend right? Was IU only full of gay students? And what would that mean exactly? Would I find any straight people there?

And, wait, I distinctly remember this thought, why was it so bad if gay people were there?

Sure, I’d heard over and over that this or that was “gay.” The phrase “that’s so gay” escaped my own mouth up until I went off to college. There was nothing wrong with saying that. I was never told it was bad by a classmate, teacher, or any community member. It was fine.

In short, I was a bully.

We all were.

Any time the phrase “that’s so gay” escaped my lips, it was potentially bullying an in the closet (no one at my school was out) classmate.

All the gossip about the gay student at the school play? Bullying. He saw those looks. And, I’m sure he overheard many of the whispers. It wasn’t right.

I wasn't ever the ring leader, but it doesn't matter. I didn't taunt, haunt, or speak badly to any gay student in my school. To my knowledge, there no openly gay students. But, I didn't stop it. I didn't stand up when I heard people talk and gossip. Since I went along with it, that makes me an active participant.

Fast forward to August 2000, I somehow survived freshman move-in day. I’d completely forgotten that I was headed off to a “gay school” and just started interacting with fellow students.

Turns out, IU isn’t just for homesexuals, but a beacon of diversity in the middle of a vanilla state.

I loooooooooved it!!! I loved going to parties and meeting people from all over the world. I loved meeting other Hoosiers and learning not even all of them were what I thought. And met many friends from the East coast and was in total awe of how cool they were. Classes were okay, but really, the dorms are where I learned the most that year.

And these people I met? Some of them were gay. But, I barely noticed. They were just my new classmates.
That’s when I stopped thinking of anyone gay as “the other.” I just met some gay friends.

Now, I always pause when I hear about people being unaccepting toward GLBTQ people. I don’t even understand. Don’t get why people would even make a big deal of it. They're people. Who the hell cares about their sexual preference? Why does that even matter.

I haven’t drug up those ugly memories from my own teenage and childhood years in a small town where to this day being gay is a “problem" in a long time.

And, I’m glad I did. Glad I wrote this post and had to go back there.

Not because I understand it any more. It’s absolutely ludicrous, faulty thinking to condone treating gay folks as anything other than people, individuals. Harassment, bullying, and any sort of unequal treatment need to stop, and that means that gay people should be able to get married, share insurance, and be able to hold hands in total comfort even down the streets of my tiny hometown.

Now that’s off my chest.

I’m sorry.

If I was your bully.

Even on accident.

Closing comments. #GayIsOk. Period. This is a non-negotiable.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How I'm Using the Facebook Groups Feature. (Or Reclaiming My Facebook Profile)

Sometimes, I feel like a stranger in my own Facebook profile. I don't always feel comfortable there. I've been attacked for saying how I feel, on my own profile.

And, it was bound to happen.

It's what happens when so many different groups interact. Before Cora died, I had a few hundred Facebook friends, all family and friends, and would get on every few days.

After she died, I found comfort in Facebook finding others that fit my new self identity. See within a week, I joined these groups by default: new mom, nursing mom, strong breastfeeding advocate, heart mom, grieving mom, and activist. My Facebook profile exploded with new friends from my new life.

And, sometimes, my identities didn't mesh.

Also, I lost my family and friends somewhere in the Facebook world. I know my grieving mom late night posts made their hearts cringe, but they couldn't really relate.

I contemplated deleting everyone off that wasn't a close friend or family member.

I finally just opened a second profile for close family and friends. But, they were confused. I was confused, and forgot to post there.

When I saw the new groups feature on Facebook last night. I knew it was the answer to my Facebook issues.

I plan on deleting that second profile soon.

I set up two groups so far, one with other congenital heart defect affected families, and one for other grieving moms. It's nice to have a place to go that's safe and cozy.

I made the groups "secret" because I think others thought I was making a huge CHD group, not the case, just bringing my CHD friends together. If I forgot to add you to my CHD group, or my grieving moms group, please send me a note and I will. 

I tried to be clear that these were groups of friends from my own profile, but welcomed additions if someone thought of someone that needed the group.

Like any change, I think it's still confusing to some, but hope that after time people will see what I intend for the new groups to be, a way to reclaim my profile, and interact with people that have been a lifeline of support since Cora's death.

One thing that was a bit uncomfortable to me was that when I added people, their inboxes were flooded with notices. I wish Facebook wouldn't have done that. This article talks about that, being careful about adding people, and also about how now Facebook is more like how we interact in real life friendship circles. Often, our friend circles are fragmented around our interests.

I'm not sure how Facebook intended these new groups to be used, but I'm finding them perfect for this. And, after a bit of research, I'm finding that this is how they were intended to be used, to divide up our profile. I can see how this new feature isn't really applicable to some, and others might be down right annoyed by it, but for me, being able to segment my profile is so freeing!

Cheers to being comfortable in my own Facebook profile again!

So you know what I'm talking about, this is the interface of my <3 family list, where I added congenital heart defect families.

And for those of you overwhelmed with all the messages from people adding you to groups, here's a screen shot of where you can turn off notifications from the group. You come to this under "edit settings" in the group interface.

Have you discovered the new groups feature on Facebook? How are you using it?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The bad choice.

I've debated writing this for awhile, because, well it's embarrassing.

When we moved in May, we put ourselves in a horrible situation.

Our neighborhood is scary.

Our house is gross.

Because of some weird situation with the previous tenant and an old bill, our gas was disconnected. Um, cold showers much?

And, our stove is gas run. Meaning, we can't really cook.

We're trying.

We're going to get out of this.

But, it's scary and overwhelming to pick a new place to move. To start over, yet again.

We're not living on this side of town, for sure.

And, I think we're both split about where to go next. We could go home, as I wrote about earlier, back to the country. 

I realized what I most love about the country though, the opportunity to be surrounded by nature, and right now, I'm thinking there are other towns that aren't quite so tiny as where we came from that give us that opportunity.

Going back means going back to a nice support system, but also means going back to a lot of bad memories.

I once read to never make big decisions when you're battling depression. I think the same is true for grief.

This choice is so hard to make.

I don't know what to do.

I do know with no gas (for heat, cooking, and warm baths) and a crime-filled neighborhood, we have to get out.

This wasn't a good choice.

Moving here.

It's not easy to face a bad decision.

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