Monday, April 30, 2012

5 Good Things I Do and 5 Things I Want

One of my favorite bloggers, Anna at The Mommy Padawan, had the opportunity to choose this week’s topic for Monday Listicles.  Apparently she had trouble deciding, because there are two topics.  I love Anna, but I do not love making decisions. 

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” ~Rush, Freewill

I chose not to decide.  And as the great progressive rock band, Rush, tells us, this means I made a choice.  So here’s this week’s Monday’s Listicles divided in half.

Things I Am Good At:

1. Dancing:  I’ve been a dancer all my life.  I no longer do it formally, but if you set up a secret video recording device in my home, you’d catch me in the act quite a bit.

Source: via Sperk* on Pinterest

2. Web Surfing/Curating Content:  I curate a lot of content.  I used to think it was a waste of time.  However, a recent article at FastCompany (can be found within the 191 pins in my pin board for Tech and EdTech)indicates that Content Curators are the New Superheroes of the Web.  You may now address me as Super Sperk*

3. Procrastinating:  Most of my procrastination time is spent on Web Surfing/Content Curation, so it is debatable if I even have a procrastination problem.  I may enter a program for Library Science to make my penchant for procrastination legit.

4. Teacher:  I am not one by trade but considering obtaining my license.  I’ve spent many hours volunteering in my kids’ classrooms and offering lessons to my family members and everyone agrees—I’m good at it.  I happen to like it, too.

5. Being a Mom: My lack of boastful self-confidence almost kept this one off the list.  Significant Other said it should be on here.  You want to know how I ended up being a good mom?  I followed my instincts (and of course looked up any relevant content on the Web).

Things I Would Do in 48 Hours 
With Unlimited Resources and Time:

1. Purchase VIP tickets to Bonarroo Music and Arts Festival:  I’ve been twice.  I’d go every year regardless of the lineup because I love the atmosphere of live music surrounding me at all times.  Plus, it’s in Tennessee and I love the south. 

2. Buy a 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 Convertible:  It's just a bad ass American car.  I've always wanted one.

Screenshot via Ford

3. Acquire Residence at The Condominiums at North Bank Park: I’m not a house girl. I want one of these condos in the heart of the ArenaDistrict in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I’ll take one on the top floor.

Screenshot via The Condos at North Bank Park

4. Hire a web designer and marketing expert for Sperk*:  I have a vision for Sperk* but I need help.  Plus, everyone needs Sperk* and I have a responsibility to make sure it’s easy to get.

5. Day at the Salon:  I'm not picky.  I'll take a day at any nicer salon in town with hair and skin services.  My hair needs done, my face is broken out, and I have deep lines between my brows.  I would feel much better if I could have the aforementioned rectified.  And I deserve to feel good!

The best way to spend Monday in the blogosphere!

Friday, April 27, 2012


She went to the window hoping the bright sun would bring her clarity. Stepping closer, her breath began to create a foggy circle of moisture on the glass. Increasing in size, the breath smudge obstructed her view of the tiny bird that hopped in the front yard.  She took a step back and wiped the spot with the sleeve of her sweater.

Examining the quick movement of the tiny bird reminded her of a time when her thoughts were full of hope and excitement.  Her mind was in such contrast to the awareness it possessed years ago.

The sun was warming her face but failing to fire her deliberation. She longed to be given indication that her thoughts were safe to explore.  She remembered past attempts to access responsiveness. 

Two years spent in talk therapy, six months in rehab, and four weeks devoted to working with an expert in E.M.D.R. gave her nothing but a penchant for navel-gazing.  An impulsive trip to Las Vegas, the spirituality retreat, a juicing diet, and the purchase of three purebred Chihuahuas propelled her into a financial mess and emotional bankruptcy. 

Her stomach began to cramp with hunger.  She abandoned the warm sun of the window for the chill of the refrigerator.  Her eyes quickly scanned its lack of contents landing upon a half empty bag of apples that had occupied the bottom shelf for two months.  For a second she contemplated going out for something fresh to eat.  Indolence quickly provoked her to grab the questionable fruit.

She made her way to the couch.  She reclined with her head on a throw pillow which was propped up by her right arm bent beneath.  Her left hand held her sustenance.  She ate.

The first bite alerted her body to the fact that it was finally being fed after many days of forced fasting.  Everything felt as if it jumped into high gear.  She devoured the apple with such fervor that she didn't even taste it.  The sound of the meat of the fruit being mashed by her jaw was her primary focus until almost choking upon a seed.

Startled, she sat up, spit the seed out into the palm of her hand, and placed the kernel back into its crevice.

She went to the window hoping the bright sun would confirm her sudden clarity.  The little bird, still busy hopping on the lawn, took three jumps and launched to the sky.  Her feathered friend flew away taking indolence with it.

Stepping closer to the glass, she watched her breath form a foggy circle of moisture as she whispered, "Well thank you, little bird.  My core is OK."

Originally created in response to prompt below. Edited, rewritten, sweated upon for Yeah Write, because I'm an addict. I admit it.  And I'm powerless.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

Red Writing Hood is a writing meme at Write on Edge.  
This weeks's prompt: 
For this week, I’m giving you the word “Core.” 
You have 450 words to explore any meaning of the word 
in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction. 

photo credit: keepps via photo pin cc

Thursday, April 26, 2012


You ask, "What's a Srumplet?"

It's a baby of course!

Bloggers are uniting to celebrate the soon-to-be arrival of Alison's son, Scrumplet.

You ask, "Why?"

You've heard of baby showers, right?  Well, Alison, at Mama Wants This, is a fabulous blogger with thoughtful blogging friends-- Stasha, Ado, and Erica.  Where else would bloggers have a baby shower but in a blogging link-up?

In lieu of real-life gifts, Stasha has requested we "pin something down" on Pinterest; Ado has asked for a favorite baby photo and quote about motherhood; and Erica is providing us with that good ol' baby shower game of guessing Scrumplet's due date, birth weight, and length.

Pinning Down the BabyBjorn:

Antonia at 3 months old in her BabyBjorn (that's me of course)

I don't know how I could have taken care of a new born and toddler without my BabyBjorn!  I had Antonia in that thing all the time.  Not just when going out, but also when doing things around the house like laundry, dishes, playing with her toddler-big-sister, and walking on the treadmill (I think that is viewed as unsafe, but I'm no expert).

Favorite Photo and Quote:

August 15, 2000
Antonia in the arms of her big sister, Sophia

“Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood - finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.”
― Jodi Picoult, Perfect Match

What will Scrumplet's birth date, length and weight be? 

Date:  May 3rd
Length:  19.5 in.
Weight: 7 lbs. 11 oz.

Congratulations, Alison! 
Blessings to you and yours,
now and forever!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: The Courage to Heal

Have you ever been handed a book right at the moment in your life that you were meant to read it?

After I recovered my memories of child sexual abuse, I jumped into the world of self-abuse with the commitment of every cell in my body.  My downfall was swift and scary.  

With the help of some very wise and generous souls, I landed in an inpatient treatment facility.  It was there that a counselor handed me the book The Courage to Heal.

Within the pages of The Courage to Heal I found descriptions of and logical explanations for the self-destructive behaviors I engaged in for years.  The long stretch of questions I asked myself over and over again were answered. 
An abrupt but accurate summary would be the following:

I asked, “Why am I am doing this?”
The book answered, “Because you are a survivor of child sexual abuse.”
I asked, “Why can’t I stop doing this?”
The book answered, “Because you need to heal.”

The Courage to Heal at Barnes and Noble
Along with articulating the damaging behaviors, pointing to their origins, and identifying the need for healing, The Courage to Heal contained a powerful voice of empowerment.  Not the Pollyanna-cheerleader kind, but the kind created with prowess, insight, empathy, authenticity, and the power of truth.  
It has been over 20 years since I first held that book in my hands and I still go to it for encouragement.  I go to it to find myself, to see in black and white that I am not crazy or mentally ill…to see that my normal is actually normal for me.

Because of the impact the book has had on my life, this week’s Wednesday’s Woman is the authoring team of The Courage to Heal


Please visit their websites by clicking their names above and get to know these amazing ladies.  They are more than advocates and healers. . . they are women writers:

"Because of the suportive, warm and artistic care I receive in an Ellen Bass Workshop, I'd go anywhere in the world to write with her. Anyone can see by her poetry that she would attract loving and talented people. Beginners and writers of accomplishment blend into one dynamic group."- Anne Silverpoet, author of Bare Root
 "Laura's writing prompts are juicy and creative and through them, I am remembering my own life story."
--Bryana Garcia

Calling for submissions to Wednesday’s Woman  

Please consider sharing the story of a woman who has inspired you in your journey of childhood or motherhood, as a survivor or teacher...any woman that has moved you to become better at any point in your life.  You know who she is.  She may be a woman of fame, a leader known only within the circles in which she serves, or someone who is recognizable solely to you.  

The experience of contributing to Wednesday’s Woman is a powerful one, calling you to honor who has made a difference in your life and offering an opportunity for you to bring attention to a voice needing to be heard by never know who.  Connections are made without our input, without our judgment.  Our job is to spread the word, to raise awareness.

More info: Wednesday's Woman

photo credit: » Zitona « via photo pin cc
photo credit: Martin Gommel via photopin cc

Fear the Quack

I was terribly knocked-kneed, pigeon-toed, and stood with an extreme swayback posture, belly out in all its glory--not to be overshadowed by my posterior, which butted out with distinction. Imagine the gait of such a youngster. My walk, or waddle, was successful in earning me the nickname of "Duck Butt." Boys making quacking noises in the school hallways could be heard over the sounds of noisy chatter and slamming lockers.  Girls, my friends, bestowed upon me so many rubber duckies that even Ernie (not Bert) was pining for a look at my collection. By the time I was 14 years old, and after thousands of hours of dance lessons, the problem was corrected. However, "Duck Butt" and I were synonymous until I left home for college. I won't go back, for I fear the quack.

photo credit: jdsmith1021 via photo pin cc

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bullying Policy?

The haste of Sunday evening was upon us.  The girls were home a night early because their dad had an early flight the next morning.  I could hear lively activity from their rooms as they unpacked their clothes from suitcases and tossed heavy text books into backpacks.  Their voices buzzed as they made arrangements for sharing the bathroom.  Then I heard the pound of footsteps going up the stairs.  It was decided.  Someone was heading to the shower.  Good.

As I finished the dishes, I listened. Silence.  But I felt someone was in the room.  I turned around to Sophia, who was then 12 years old, standing in the middle of the kitchen staring at me.  Her creased brow framed vacant eyes.

I said, “Hey! How was play rehearsal?”

She said, “Fine.”

Hearing the word “fine” was my cue to search her face and eyes with increased effort.

I said, “You look like something is on your mind.  What’s up?”

She was two months into being a new student in the public middle school.  A Montessori kid since the age of three, she adjusted to the traditional environment better than I expected.  She hadn’t yet found her friend group, but from what I surmised from our talks, she was working through it with strength and grace.  And I was proud of her for joining the crew for the fall play after auditioning and not getting cast in a role.
She replied, “On Friday, at rehearsal, my bag got stolen.”

She looked terrified as she spoke and I thought maybe she was worried I would be angry at her.

Trying to put her at ease, I soothingly said, “That’s a bummer.  I know you didn’t expect that to happen there.”

I surely didn't.

I barely afforded acquiring residence in our upper-middle class neighborhood.  Even though our house was situated in the less-than-desirable northeast corner, with our backyard bordering a precarious part of the city, I was certain of the girls’ safety at school.  Meaning, I am sure someone stealing her bag was not on Sophia’s list of worries each day when she headed to school, nor was it on mine.

She became more disturbed and emotional as she proceeded to tell me what happened:

In order to get some change for the vending machine, Sophia went to the row of seats where she placed her bag at the beginning of rehearsal.  When she couldn’t find her bag, she asked the girl sitting in the next row if she saw it.  The girl replied, “Alice* took it.”
Sophia looked beyond the girl to the theater doors and saw Alice strolling in with her bag. 
Sophia confronted her, Alice handed over the bag, and Sophia examined it, finding all of her snacks missing and her money gone.  Sophia said, “I don’t care about the snacks, but where’s my money?”
Alice said, “Oh. I used it to get a few things from the vending machine.  Here’s your change.”
Alice laughed.
Sophia finished rehearsal, but failed to tell anyone about the incident before leaving.  She didn’t tell her dad.  And she waited until Sunday night to tell me.

Of course, we talked.  And talked.  And talked.  About a lot of stuff.  Especially about telling a teacher when incidents like that happen.  And especially about telling her dad or me whenever she is victimized.

Later that night, once the girls were in bed, I emailed the director to tell of what transpired.  I got an immediate reply explaining that bullying was not tolerated in the department and that the school had a strict policy against it.  I was assured it would be handled.

After I picked up Sophia from rehearsal on Monday, I inquired about how the situation was handled.  Sophia articulated that nothing was mentioned.

Several emails later, all of which were copied to the assistant principal and the principal, I was again assured by the director that the situation would be dealt with.  I expressed my gratitude and my concern for Alice, emphasizing that my intent was not to cause Alice harm, but to make sure she was supported.  In an attempt to create a school/family relationship, I also stressed that I wanted the director to talk to Sophia about speaking up to someone of authority.

After I picked up Sophia from rehearsal on Tuesday, I inquired about how the situation was handled.  She said that Alice was banned from participating in the theater department for the remainder of her school career and also banned from entering the theater until after the play’s run.

But, for the rest of the week, guess who was at rehearsal.


She sat quietly in the audience and made no disturbances, but she was there.  She didn’t communicate with Sophia, but she was there.  And the director said nothing to her.  

Where her parents called?  Did they know?  Was Alice saying she was going to rehearsal as usual?  Why was the director passing up an opportunity to lend Alice support by adhering to the guidelines of the consequences?  What about the safety of my daughter?  And why would Sophia speak up in the future if this was how it was handled?  

So much for people of authority.

I went to the school’s website and examined every inch of the official code of conduct.  I became familiar with every step of every procedure relating to bullying incidents and found the school had followed none. 

Then, I noticed a link.

I clicked.  I filled out the lengthy official bullying incident report.  I clicked “submit”.

Less than five minutes later, my phone rang.  It was the assistant principal.  The assistant principal who failed to respond to any of my emails.  The assistant principal who was aware of what was going on and did nothing to support the theater director, the students, or the students’ families.

After the pleasant greetings were over, he said, “Ms. Speranza, are you sure this is the direction you’d like to go with this?”

I said, “I already went in that direction.  The form is submitted, obviously.”

He said, “OK.”

I said, “Please be sure that Alice gets support and that Sophia is given the message to come to people with authority when she needs help.”

He said, “I will.”

I do not know what he did to help Alice.  In order to help Sophia, he came to her fifth period classroom, stood in the doorway, and publicly called her out of class.  Standing in the middle of the hall, he proceeded to give her a brief lecture about getting help.

She was embarrassed, to say the least, and I was put onto her list of evils.

Nice job, AP.

According to the policy handbook, after submitting an official report of bullying, I was to receive a call from the school district and a written follow-up report.  Over a year has passed and I am still waiting for my phone to ring and for an envelope printed with the school district's return address in the upper left hand corner to arrive in the mail. 

Tomorrow, Sophia’s entire middle school is attending a screening of the movie Bully.    

I am a skeptic.  But, I am also grateful.  

They have talks scheduled for after the screening.  I just hope the discussion leaders mention to the kids that just because the families in the film are of low socio-economic status, it doesn't mean rich kids aren’t bullies, too.

*name changed

For information about the film Bully and tips on supporting your child after its viewing visit Bully Movie: See It via Michelle in the Middle.

photo credit: Paradox 56 via photo pin cc
photo credit: Eddie~S via photo pin cc

Monday, April 23, 2012

Name 10 Books

It’s Monday!  Yes indeed.  You may now thank me for consistently providing you with up-to-date relevant information.

“What information,” you ask?

It’s Monday.

Monday means it’s time for Monday Listicles, the great blogging meme and community started by Stasha at A Good Life.  And in the name of information, today’s theme is books.

Remember encyclopedias?  I’m sure you’ve heard that Encyclopedia Britannica has gone digital.  And much to my surprise, my older daughter recently said to me,

“Mom. I hate technology. I mean, there is nothing like holding a book.  In your hands.  Feeling the pages.  The smell.  I wish I could live in a time without eReaders.”

I felt the same way about vinyl records.  Still do. 

The best aspect of digital is saved space.  My basement is now the only hoarder’s delight tangled with stacks of books and records.  Our living space is clear.  But I digress….

The listicles. 

Books.  And pretty loosely given as a topic.  So I chose to ask my daughters this morning, as they peeled their eyes open with the spoons they should have been using for eating their cereal, to simply, “Name ten books.” 

Here’s their answers.  They both named 10, so you’re getting 20 titles to do with what you will.

"Name ten books."  

Sophia (age 13) replied:

  1. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume     
  2. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, Patty Lovell
  3. Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  4. Eating Animals, John Safran Foer
  5. Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher      
  6. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  7. Harry Potter "...all of them." J.K. Rowling
  8. The Bible "No. Not that. I don't want people to read that."
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
  10. My Little Red Book, Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

Antonia (age 11) replied:  

  1. The Frog and Toad Collection, Arnold Lobel
  2. Nancy Drew "...every single one." Carolyn Keene
  3. Judy Blume's Fudge Box Set
  4. Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
  5. Any Amelia Bedelia book, by Peggy Parish
  6. Any book by Julia DeVillers
  7. No, David!, David Shannon
  8. Froggy Goes to School, Johnathan London
  9. Who Was? series, Penguin Books
  10. Curious George, H. A. Ray

Join me in checking out everyone's take on today's Monday Listicle theme. There's bound (no pun intended) to be many creative lists and great recommendations for reading.

photo credit: Fiduz via photo pin cc
photo credit: MrSchuReads via photo pin cc
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Save It for Later: My Bad Blog Comments and Poetry

 In Save It for Later you’re getting two stand-outs from my "Read Later" list.

1) Friday I sat down to catch up on the great bloggers I connect with each week at yeah write.  To do so, I was going through the comments left at my yeah write #53 entry, making sure I connected with each author at their place of blogging.  See, I believe in reciprocity, not for the sake of gaining followers, but for the sake of establishing meaningful connections.  I truly value the relationships I am making through Sperk*, and as we all know, relationships that are one-sided tend to fizzle and die.  Plus, great comments usually come from great bloggers.  Reading great blogs is definitely painless.

Or so I thought.

Was it the ongoing stress of parenting, all this healing from child sexual abuse, or the constant up and down of letting the Chihuahuas in and out (they have tiny bladders) that caused me to lose my cool?  Maybe it was that I just couldn’t contain my buried anger towards the Church any longer?  Excuses aside, I totally lost it in commenting on a fellow blogger's blog.  And I regret it.  

I contemplated taking screen shots of my comments, removing them, and then posting them here for analysis, but thought that would seem a bit cowardly.  So I am just directing you to them here:

That will earn a little more blog traffic for It’s My Mind and hopefully the gesture will be put towards my case for forgiveness.  I do not usually comment on posts that I disagree with, but on Friday I lost control of any logic, intellect or wisdom I have gained during my short time as a blogger.  In the future I will heed to my sensible voice and click away silently.  

2) Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?  I did, but had not given it much thought until I was examining the writing of Melissa Ward, this week’s Wednesday’s Woman, on BlogHer.  She has a few “how to” articles for those of us who are interested in writing poetry, but aren’t real sure about how to properly tackle things like style and form.  

One of my favorite bloggers, Tara Pohlkotte, is a great poet and recently my older daughter has caught the poetry bug, so I am going to give writing poetry a try.  I encourage you to do the same, in your spare time of course.  And check out all that is and has been happening for National Poetry Month at and find some ways to celebrate through the use of technology at edutopia.

If you don’t want to write a poem, carry one in your pocket on Thursday, April 26th

The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends. You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag  #pocketpoem.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You're to the end of another Sperk* post
And of course, I love you.

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photo credit: theunquietlibrarian via photo pin cc

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stuart Smalley, Grey Hair and a Promise

The morning was typical with the exception that M got up.  He usually gets up in the morning, but not during the time I am supporting the girls in their independent efforts of getting ready for school.  I was pleased to see him earlier than expected.
Me: "Good morning!  You're up!"
M: passive aggressive comment
Me: "What?  What do you mean?"

My voice escalated which was followed by a small amount of banter, followed by M going back to bed. After the girls were off to school I cried, slammed some cabinet know the drill.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
― Albert Einstein

M and I have been struggling with changing routines and habits, personally and as a couple, in order to be more successful—personally, as a couple, and as a family.  This morning's appearance in advance of his typical time for waking was a shining ray of hope that modifications could indeed be made.   

But I forgot.  We have an obstacle.

We struggle with personal kindness--not a battle to be kind to others, but one to be compassionate to our individual selves.

We lack the ability to engage in self-forgiveness and get caught up in beating ourselves up (not like Fight Club, like in our thoughts).

If we aren't careful, this phenomenon leads to a build up of anger and self-doubt that is expressed in the wrong direction.

Instead of embodying Stuart Smalley and addressing ourselves in the mirror, we lash out at each other, usually when it is least expected.

And that’s what happened this morning.

In those reactionary moments, I forget that M and I are into our own personal journeys of healing from child sexual abuse.  It is complicated and complex, to say the least.  On its own, healing makes a plate full.  Add the stress of daily life, which includes  economics, education, careers, housework, failing appliances, and kids (although they fall into the category of "good stress"), and we've got a delicate situation.  Delicate?  I mean, combustible.  Oh, and my hair is turning grey.  

I know we are working on something very heavy and very important.  There is beauty in our courage.  But I would like to be OK as I watch other things go unattended.  I would like to, you know, not get so stressed out when things do not change as fast as I think they should.

I mean, all these "things" will be here after the Sword of Trauma is removed (thank you Angela Shelton).

Or, at least, I hope so.

So, I am choosing to let go of the passive-aggressive remark that for some reason caused me to overreact like a two-year-old being sentenced to time out.  I am also excusing my behavior (after six hours of pouting, crying, and throwing dishes in the sink).


Right now, I am asking you, dear readers of Sperk*, to witness my promise:

I promise to be kind to myself as I continue my trek of transformation.  

I promise to be kind to M.   

And I promise to call the salon to resolve my issue with grey hair.

Yes, that was more than one promise.  Be kind.  Be compassionate.  Forgive me.

Mama’s Losin’ It
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: Giving Voice to Infertility

I wanted to have this post up hours ago.  Yes, I do have a gift for procrastination.  But such was not the case in the present delay.  I was so amazed by today's guest blogger's accomplishments and her fearless journey of making connections within the blogosphere, that I was left wordless.   

About Kir...Kirsten Piccini
In today's post, she so eloquently speaks to the power of the relationships that can be made if we are willing to write with a truthful and authentic voice that I have nothing to add:

“Her blog changed my own voice and her friendship changed my life.”
The words belong to Kirsten Piccini of The Kir Corner.  

The first time I came across Kirsten’s writing could have been at Just Be Enough where she is a contributing editor.  Or, it could have been through one of the weekly link ups in which I regularly participate.  Regardless, I am grateful to have found her and feel as if she has been with me since the beginning of Sperk*.  She inspires me to do it better—every day.  

I am positive she will inspire you, too!  Be sure to visit her at The Kir Corner.  Her list of successful endeavors is extensive and is born from humility.

Please welcome Kirsten Piccini as today’s guest blogger for Wednesday’s Woman.


Wednesday's Woman: Melissa Ford 
by Kirsten Piccini

Melissa Ford
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” –Og Mandino

In the middle of 2005 I started a blog to write about, vent and talk about my struggle with infertility. I was searching for something or someone that would help me make sense of what I was going through.  I needed a community that was separate from my infertility boards and a village that would guide me and help me grow through the nightmare of not being able to have a child. 

It was then that I met the amazing Melissa Ford of Stirrups Queens. 

She had started a blog called Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters which has been transformed to be simply “Stirrup Queens.” The irony being that every one of us who has struggled against this invisible disease has become a true queen of those stirrups, willing to risk our dignity for the promise of a child in our arms. Her blog brought light into my life and a comfortable place to ask questions and get answers to things that seemed too private to ask anywhere else. It was also a haven for my heart, because the women who came to that space knew exactly how I felt and were willing to share their journey, successes and failures, with me. 

Over the course of her first year in the blogosphere she transformed the life and education of infertiles, including mine.  She introduced a blog roll that lists every kind of infertility blog in our universe; from adoption to in-vitro, from living childfree to information about surrogates. 

52 Categories. 

3150 Blogs. 

She took the veil off our disease and gave it a voice. 

As an infertility survivor and mother of twins born of fertility treatments, she offered hope and friendship to me, and in between her posts about infertility I sat in awe of her writing about her family, her faith, her politics and of course her baking. 

A writer by education she wrote a book about infertility called Navigating the Land of IF that spoke to those of us exploring this new and very inhospitable world in clear and relatable language.  Plus it was written with our family and friends who didn’t understand in mind. There would be times that I would take it to my mom’s or give it to my best friend and say, “Please read this chapter. You won’t understand my hurt and frustration until you do.”

If you are infertile or you know someone who is struggling with infertility, her blog is full of so much useful and real life knowledge that you will walk away with the courage to keep trying and the realization that you are not alone. 

Her blog changed my own voice and her friendship changed my life. 

Today she is an editor with BlogHer, she has written another book called Life from Scratch and she has been invited to the White House to talk about Health Care.

One of my “She-roes” is Melissa Ford. 

So I name her my Wednesday Woman, for giving a VOICE to infertility.

photo credit: Tamara Manning via photopin cc

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Last Season's End Forever in Sight

"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."
--A., softball player

Two years ago, my younger daughter, Antonia, came home from school and said, “I want to play softball.”

We aren’t a family of athletes. We dance, sing, read, write, and make art.  I was at a loss.

I said, “OK. Let me check into it.”

She said, “Izzy said it starts tomorrow.”

Her friend Izzy was the inspiration for her desire to play.  And I thank her for it, to this day.

There are many reasons kids benefit from playing team sports—exercise, goal setting, working with a group.  For adolescents, team sports can lead to success later in life:

"A study conducted by the Women's Sports Foundation found that adolescents that were regularly involved in teen sports were less likely to engage in sexual activity until later in life than those who were not in team sports. Also, teens on sport teams were found to be less likely to use drugs than their non-playing counterparts, and were less likely to be involved in abusive relationships. In addition, the students involved in sports had a higher chance of graduating high school and college."

The Rockies and the Orioles, before the G.Y.A.A. Title Game.
Scientific benefits aside, my girls love it!  And I do, too, for there are many “parenting moments” that arise during softball season--opportunities to celebrate their wins, support them in their losses, and point out progress they’ve made after every game.  Also, softball has a way of making great memories.

Last year both Sophia's and Antonia's teams made it to the G.Y.A.A. finals.  Both girls had their first of many experiences grabbing the ball from the air and getting an “out.” And, Antonia had her first of many hits made during game-play.  
Sophia could consistently hit during practice but failed to make contact with the ball during any of her games. . . . Until the last play of her final game, the one for the G.Y.A.A. Title:

Bottom of the last inning.  Score tied, 2-2.  Two outs.  Sophia was up at bat.
I was scared for her and upset for her knowing that she so desperately wanted to make contact with the ball during a game just once.  How could it come down to this--her final up at her final game was her final chance? And winning the conference final depended upon her successful hit?
Her coach shouted from first base, “You can do it, Sophia! Stay low. Keep your eye on the ball. You can do it!”
He clapped his hands with encouragement, I stood up, and my stomach jumped to my throat.  Pitch, swing, and CRACK.  She made contact, the ball went sailing between first and second, Sophia took off running, and the second baseman jumped to her left, threw up her arm…OUT!

At the most crucial moment of the title game, she made contact with the ball, and yet, her team lost.  If that isn’t a lesson in the paradox of life, I don’t know what is.

Antonia's season was also a success.  In addition to accomplishing her athletic goals, I watched her come out of her shell.  A girl once slow to say, “Hello,” to anyone outside of her family or close-knit group of friends now has no problem lifting her hand to wave, and saying, “Hello,” as she enters a room full of new people.  
Softball sign-ups are today.  Like last year, I am certain I will be astonished as I watch Sophia and Antonia grow physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger.  And I am certain to be grateful for memories captured—a testament to their journey.

Linking up with Galit and Alison for April's Memories Captured

Sunday, April 15, 2012

10 Reasons Celebrities Are Like Us

It’s time for Monday Listicles hosted by the beautiful Stasha at The Good Life.  This week’s topic, 10 Reasons Why Celebrities Are Just Like Us, provided me with a much needed break from searching for research on the causes of child sexual abuse (no joke...I have become completely preoccupied with Child Abuse Awareness Month and I found some interesting answers).  Looking up things that make celebrities akin to the common folk wasn’t much less depressing.  However, one interesting factoid I found was that the reason we fall into the state of celebrity worship is that we desire status:

"Status is a critically important survival property in social animals like humans. Status assures us our place in the "pecking order," which determines when we eat, with whom we sleep and mate, as well as who we can rely upon for protection and friendship. In fact there is no complex feature amongst social animals more important than status. That is why people will fight and even kill almost without hesitation to retain and preserve their status."

The article went on to site a study wherein when Chimpanzees were tested, they preferred looking at pictures of the popular members in their troop to getting a yummy snack.  Put your salty chips down and gaze at the celebrities in my list.

10 Reasons Why Celebrities Are Just Like Us

1) They Blog

Felicity Huffman's new blog, What the Flicka?


2) They are on Tumblr

Lady Gaga, Amen Fashion

3) They Instagram

Jessica Alba on Instagram

4) They Tweet

Steve Martin on Twitter

5) They Use Facebook

Yoko Ono on Facebook

6) They Eat

Tom Cruise Eating

7) They Make Babies

Vanessa Minello and Nick Lachey are pregnant

8) They Sleep

10 Celebrities Who Love Their Sleep

9) They Use the Toilet

Celebrity Bathroom

10) They Die

Celebrity Death List



photo credit: Xavier Donat via photopin cc