I don’t have cable, so I was “watching” the recent Video Music Awards through commentary on Twitter and Facebook and catching up on the important bits as clips were posted to various websites. It’s funny, I don’t feel I missed much, I was just operating on a ten minute delay or so.

Afterwards, of course, the overwhelming majority of sentiment goes like this:

1. OMG, all these performers are attention whores and everything they said/did/wore was for the attention, how pathetic

2. FFS, <insert name of media outlet here>, I remember when you used to report actual news, why does anyone care about <insert name of celebrity here>?

Example: I’m so sick of that Miley Cyrus. Stop giving her attention. She’s just trying to be the next Madonna.

Madonna? Madonna who? Oh, you mean the woman who was instrumental for pushing the artistic envelope when it came to music video; who is, if not the Queen at least a duchess of the Girl Power movement; who released over a dozen albums over three decades; who sold over 300 million records (making her the best selling female musical artist of all time); who went on to star in films, write books and found her own entertainment company? Who, by the by, was criticized every damn step of the way? That Madonna? Why the hell would anyone want to try to be her?

Remember Like a Virgin at the VMAs? The original wardrobe malfunction?

I think it’s strange that we lambast the famous for craving attention, as it is the motivation that drives the creative instinct and the hustle to get it seen, and the “media” (by which I mean anyone who seeks to reach an audience beyond their friends and family) for distributing content that generates that attention.

This is what we call entertainment. It’s not a new concept.

Performers stand before us on whatever stage they choose, and we choose to pay attention to it. And far more often than not, we criticize not only their talent and their creations, but their faces, their bodies, their casual remarks, their vacation choices, their wardrobes, their partners and their children.

It’s amazing that anyone chooses to create and perform at all, let alone in a way that is mass distributed, that makes them “famous.” But for those with the music, the words, the magic within them, the idea of not sharing is to deny your spirit.

Let’s be real: to amass any sort of fame for what you’ve produced, there needs to be a healthy amount of ego. There is no such thing as a truly humble celebrity. Thankful, grateful, yes. But to keep creating things of note, you can’t act like your talent was a happy coincidence, a tangential gift. You have to own your talent. You have to think: yes, I made this, and it is good, and I can do it again.

You have to believe that what you’re putting out there is something the world absolutely wants and needs to see. You have to take energy from the other parts of your life and dedicate it to the center of your universe, your craft. And then you have to take care of the thousand and one mundane details that don’t actually directly pertain to your craft, the first and most important being promote, promote, promote.

1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

If your ego isn’t quite up to snuff, then the act of creation is terrifying and the act of promotion is paralyzing. What was so clever, concise, innovative, important while being constructed in your mind becomes insipid and trivial once you imagine how the world will belittle and criticize.

And they will. No matter how brilliant and talented you are. No matter if they are strangers, your friends or your bedmates. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen anyway, whether you’re just doing normal day to day things or giving birth to things of joy and consequence. It’s just a matter of degree.

Your job isn’t to cater to the masses. Your job is to put the thing into the world that only you can. Not everybody is going to like it and that’s fine.

So you may as well bask in how brilliant and talented you are while you build big, important things, and let them chatter as they must. 

There’s nothing wrong with a little ego, and a little fear. It’s far better than the alternative: to do nothing ever worth talking about.

Feel the fear— and then go ahead. Dance like everyone is watching.

facing fear

Faced with fear, we all recoil. The question is:

what do we do next?

-Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write (affiliate link)


FWIW, I don’t care much for Miley Cyrus either. I’m old, I guess.

Refreshingly, I honestly don’t think she cares what I care.


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Memorial Day and the unofficial kickoff to summer are four weeks from today. Which means every magazine and online advertising property geared toward women is running some near-hysterics version of OMG ARE YOU READY TO INFLICT YOUR BIKINI CLAD BOD ON AN UNSUSPECTING POPULATION?

That’s how marketing works. It creates the need in your mind, and then rushes to help you fill it. With juice cleanses, and bootcamps, and slimming panels, and magazine articles.

Lately, I’ve been seeing more sensible women posting a two-step program to a bikini body. It goes like this:

Step One. Buy a bikini.

Step Two. Put it on your body.

I like and applaud that approach, but it’s still not addressing the real problem, which is: people want to feel unself-conscious in a bathing suit (bikini or no). They want to feel that they will not be judged.

Here’s the thing.

Everybody gets judged in a bathing suit.

You get judged for being too heavy. Too skinny. Too old for the style you’re wearing. For being so lame as to wear whatever the hot style is right now. For not having style, period.

People will judge if you’re wearing a bathing suit clearly meant to hide as much of your body as possibly. They’ll also judge you if they suspect that you’re actually proud of your body, and accuse you of trying to flaunt it.

Here’s my one step program to get you bikini ready by Memorial Day:

Stop caring what other people think. Your body is none of their damn business.

The truth is, the vast majority of people will not judge. They’re too busy posturing for other people, or playing with their kids, or enjoying the sunshine, or worrying about how they look in their own bathing suits.

Some will think snide things, sure. But much like how your body is none of their business, the kneejerk reactions that occur in their brains are really none of yours.

Let it go.

Very rarely, some jerk might actually go so far as to voice that kneejerk thought out loud. This is a reflection on them and their poor manners, not on you, and here’s what I want it to mean to you. I want you to hear it and think, wow. Your opinion means jack to me. I don’t even know you, dude.

I want you to laugh delightedly. And I want you to say, THANK YOU, with a slight lilt of surprise, as if they had just complimented a new haircut that you secretly love or a pair of awesome shoes that make you walk the goddess walk.

Because they have just driven home to you the reminder that your opinion of your body is what matters.

Then turn and walk away and go on with your life. Let it go.

Practice it in a mirror. Imagine it in your mind. (Actually getting to use it is like the best feeling ever. I’ve been there.)

It leaves the ill-mannered buffoon in question confused, feeling as if they’ve said something wrong (which clearly, they have).

VERY rarely, you’ll get a guy who pulls it together in time and manages to hurl a followup at your back. Throw him a smile over your shoulder, if you feel like it. All he’s done is let everyone else within earshot know what an ass he is and what a poor job his parents did raising him.

Worrying about how others perceive your personal appearance gives them power over you they do not deserve. That they have not earned.

(Worrying about your health is a different story. That’s between you and you, and you know it.)

So go ahead and rock that bathing suit. Or don’t; that’s fine too. Again, the bathing suit is just something we’re marketed; unless you’re planning to go for an epic swim for time, something else would work just as well. Wear a sundress, if you really want. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and good. Whatever won’t get in your way so you can have a good time. Wear it with confidence and a smile, the best accessories a girl can have. (Fun shoes are nice too though.)

It might take some practice, getting used to the idea that your perception of your own beauty is what matters. Luckily, you’ve got four weeks to get it down pat.

Don’t measure your worth, your happiness, your attractiveness, your confidence, your self-discipline, your anything by how you look in a two-piece. Seriously, when you stop to think about it, how dumb is that anyway? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

And for god’s sake stop clicking on bikini-ready ab workouts and buying magazines that scream “Lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day.”

Stop feeding the marketing machine and maybe we won’t have to go through this nonsense next year.

Maybe, if they never see us worrying about it, our daughters won’t have to go through it at all.


Pool ready



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This is my dad.

My dad was a wonderful person.

My dad was thoughtful and intelligent and kind.

My dad was a stubborn SOB and it killed him.

My dad never saw a doctor about suspicious symptoms. I assume it was because he was afraid.

I’ll never know, because when the cancer in his body metastasized and quickly swept his body he hid from me, believing he had a flu he couldn’t shake and saying he didn’t want to get my kids sick. Telling us to stay away. When I saw him a few weeks later he had lost a ton of weight, he was moaning in pain, he couldn’t get to the bathroom a few yards away. We called an ambulance to take him to the hospital a block away, where they pumped him full of morphine.

He never said another coherent word to me, other than to apologize for being so out of it. He barely resembled the father I knew from just a few weeks before; so frail and skeletal.

He died less than 48 hours later, alone in the ER. His brother, my uncle, had run to the phone to call us and tell us to come quickly, there wasn’t much time.

Cancer took my father and I’m still mad as hell about it. He should still be here. He should be cheering my daughter on at soccer games, playing guitar with my oldest, talking metaphysics with Maverick. He should have been at my brother’s wedding, he should be reading Dr Seuss to my brother’s two beautiful little girls.

It started as colon cancer, we were told, but by the time he died it was everywhere.

It didn’t have to be that way.

One in 20 people are affected by colon cancer. It’s the 3rd most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the US and the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in the US for men and women combined.

But colon cancer is often beatable when detected and treated in its early stages. It’s preventable. Polyps can be removed before they even develop into cancer.


What You Need to Know About Colon Cancer:
#ColonCancerACC Chat on 3/20

My husband Jeff suffers from ulcerative colitis, which can involve symptoms like those involved in colon cancer (persistent stomachaches, cramps and bloating, rapid weight loss, constant fatigue, bloody bowel movements). His heightened risk of developing the cancer that stole my father scares the living hell out of me, and the kids and I have the elevated risk associated with family history.

Unlike my dad, because of my dad, I can’t ignore facts out of fear, so I’ll be tuning into a Twitter chat this week as Penn Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center discuss colon cancer, prevention, and the factors that increase your risk. If this touches your life at all, I hope you’ll check it out too— or share with someone who might benefit from the information.

It’s happening on Thursday, March 20 from noon to 1 pm EST, hashtag #ColonCancerACC.

Panelists will include:

  1. Timothy C. Hoops, MD, Director, Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at the Abramson Cancer Center
  2. Gregory G. Ginsberg, MD, Director Endoscopic Services at Penn Medicine
  3. Ursina Teitelbaum, MD, Medical Oncologist specializing in GI cancer at the Abramson Cancer Center
  4. Skandan Shanmugan, MD, Colon and Rectal Surgeon specialized in minimally invasive surgery for benign and malignant disease


If you don’t have any risk factors for colon cancer, you should start being screened at age 50. With my family history I should schedule my first colonoscopy by 40. I think my brother has erred on the side of caution and already begun. Jeff should go every year or every other, depending on his doctor’s assessment.

Colon cancer rates have dropped by 30% for people over 50 in the US over the last decade, and we have colonoscopy screenings to thank for that.

Colonoscopies save lives. I wish I’d known that a long time ago.


schedule colonoscopy


Penn Medicine Facebook Page / Twitter @PennMedicine
Penn Cancer Facebook Page / Twitter @PennCancer


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I hear it a lot.

People counseling each other not to compare. Not to worry about being good enough.

“If you run, you’re a runner.”

OK, well, I run. And it’s frustrating, because I really have not grown to love running, have never felt that “runner’s high.”

My brother told me that I was looking for something more dramatic than it is. “You know, that feeling you get sometimes when you feel like you could keep going forever.”

Yeah, I’ve never had that either.

I don’t hate every run, but I do feel that I fight for every mile. I like stopping.

I like what running does for my body. I like being a good example for my kids. I like feeling faster, stronger.

And lately, that’s the real issue. I’m as slow as I’ve ever been, as slow as when I first started after years of inactivity. It seems like all the work I’ve been doing for the last 18 months was for nothing.

Wait, don’t pounce yet. Hear me out.



Love this photo. Postrun and I look miserable.


I read recently— it kills me that I can’t find the article to link to— that you have to be careful not to cross an imaginary line when you start training for a triathlon. For most runners, the swim will be the weak point. I bitch and moan every week in swim class because my legs sink in the water and throw off my plane; my instructors tell me that’s normal for runners. Different muscles, legs are more dense than your top.

The article warned against putting in too many training hours to perfect your swimming technique, against crossing that imaginary line. From runner to triathlete. From crosstraining to something more.

Because if you’re primarily a runner, if you want running to be your strongest point, you should be running.

Makes sense, right? If you’re a runner, you run. You find the time. You train with running in mind. You swim to be a better runner, as opposed to taking time from your running to be a better swimmer.


I’ve given it some thought and I don’t think I’m willing to give all those hours to running after all.

I’ll still run.

I’ll still plan to do a half in the fall, and some shorter races beforehand. But I’ll just be running. Not racing. Not obsessing over numbers. Not beating myself up for not improving in some quantifiable way.

I’m letting the times go, just focusing on the miles.

But I’m loving trying new classes too much to let them all go. I love my yoga. I love finding time to do physical activities with my kids. And I’ll admit, I love seeing improvement week after week in swim class.


I’m prioritizing enjoying my fitness activities, and trusting that will yield the best results. Science is totally backing me up on this.



I love awkward photos.

crossfit riverfront

I love snuggling with puppies and Instagramming disgustingly sweaty pics post-RivFit.



A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

—Robert Heinlein


Specialization is for insects. And for specialists, I suppose.

But right now it’s not for me. Right now I’m all about being well-rounded, about being flexible, about having fun with my fitness, about trying new things, about enjoying being a jack of all trades and master of none. I think it’s my best way to model a healthy lifestyle for my kids.

The fitness world loves to say #NoExcuses, and maybe I am just making excuses.

I’m saying, well, I guess I’m saying #SometimesExcuses.

And if anyone wants to judge me for that, well. 🙂

Honey Badger Mom don’t care.




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Old School Blogging

I’ve been blogging in one form or another for years now. My first 2 attempts at blogs no longer exist on the internets or were absorbed into later sites as my writing and interests have changes and evolved. Back in the day you’d see a lot of these “answer the question” type posts floating around— you’d get tagged by another blogger, you’d reveal a little something about you, and you’d pass it on by tagging other folks. I saw this alphabet one on Christine’s blog love life surf recently and was hit by nostalgia and the urge to overshare. She didn’t tag me, but I’m gonna answer the questions anyway because it seemed like fun and because I’m pushy that way 🙂



 Jake photobomb FTW

A. Attached or single? Jeff and I will have been married 14 years on June 26th. And we haven’t killed each other yet.

B. Best friend? I have three. This upsets people who say you can’t have more than one best friend, but as I grow older my circle of friends grows ever smaller and these three have earned special distinction.

  1. Danielle— my BFF from freshman year of high school, who I rarely see in real life. Thanks to the internet, we work and play together and I “talk” to her more than anyone else. My biggest cheerleader.
  2. Kristin— my forever friend, who has always been there for me and my kids, and has always been the most generous and authentic, charismatic and fun person I know. Kristin was the one who made me break out of my shell of crippling shyness in high school, simply because she does not know how to walk into a room and befriend everyone in it.
  3. Cammy— my college roommate and later housemate, who is that friend you can go a year without seeing and then just pick back up with seamlessly, because you carry a piece of them always in your heart.



busting out the really attractive photos of us. JK, they were the most handy to lift off FB


C. Cake or pie? I’m not a real fan of either, I’ve lost my sweet tooth in my old age. I vote cheesecake (though it’s not a real cake) or key lime pie (which is really only technically a pie).

D. Day of choice? I live for Saturday mornings when I can sleep in, Saturday afternoons when I can tinker online and go for a leisurely run, Saturday nights when I can kick back with a Blue Moon and my current TV obsession (Doctor Who and Sherlock being the most recent and intense ones).

E. Essential item? iPhone. Camera, internet, notepad all in one, I don’t know how I lived without it. I hear tell it works as a voice communication device too, but I don’t use it for that.

F. Favorite color? Silver but my wardrobe is almost entirely black and grey.

G. Gummy bears or worms? I don’t do gummy unless it’s Swedish fish or Sour Patch Kids.

H. Home town? Wilmington DE, a place to be somebody. Or as I always called it, “So Close to Where You’d Rather be.”

I. Favorite Indulgence? Statement shoes. I have… many. Some aren’t even realistically wearable, strictly speaking, I just sit them on shelves like art.


doc marten stiletto knee high


J. January or July? July. I spend the whole winter waiting for it to be over.

K. Kids? Maybe this happens to everybody, but kid strangers really like to talk to me. Every time I go to the pool or playground there’s some kid showing me what tricks they can do or telling me about their dog or whatever. I love that and I hope it never stops. My own kids— Jake, 15; Maverick, 12; Cassidy, 8— think that’s weird.

L. Life isn’t complete without? A sense of wonder and everyday laughter.

M. Marriage date? June 26 1999

N. Number of brothers/sisters? 2 half brothers in Vietnam I’ve never met. One half sister who died before my mother met my father. My brother Robbie is 7 years younger than me, which means he turned 30 this year, which means I suddenly feel very old.

O. Oranges or apples? I’m in love with trying different varieties of apples and we tend to pick enough to feed a small army at our local orchard. My favorites right now are Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Orange Honey.





P. Phobias? I’ve been knocking these down my whole life. Public speaking— love it now. Driving— I had to deal once the kids were in school. Agoraphobia— not only am I comfortable leaving the house, but I’ve now flown to Colorado on my own and driven someone else’s car to Atlanta. Next week I’m taking the train and finding my way to CES in NYC (I still won’t drive in NYC). Water— I can swim now, I can tread in deep water, I’m training toward a sprint tri in 2014 and hoping to dive and see the reefs in Fiji sometime soon thereafter. The best way to combat a phobia is just to face it head-on. That said, I’m still not down with swarms of insects, particularly small ones like fleas, ants or maggots, but I doubt anyone will fault me for that.

Q: Quotes? My addiction. I have dozens of notebooks and thousands of index cards with quotes written on them, from books and movies and late night conversations with friends. My favorites come from Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rainer Marie Rilke, Coco Chanel and Bob Dylan. My next tattoo will be Thoreau’s “Be and not seem” but I haven’t decided on placement yet.

R: Reasons to smile? Because I’m still here. Because I can. Why not? There’s always a reason to smile, and even if you’re not feeling it, studies show smiling will help you to feel better. But here’s a reason to smile right this second:


giddy up


S. Season of choice? Late spring/early summer (after the rains, basically). “Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” -Rilke

T. Tag 5 people. No. But feel free to do this if you’re so inclined. I do like to read them, I just don’t want to make you feel guilty if you don’t want to write it out.

U. Unknown fact about me? I say “dang” a lot on the internet, if you’re friends with me anywhere you already know that. What you don’t know is that I say it in David Spade’s voice from Joe Dirt.

V. Vegetable? I try to eat with the seasons. Right now that means asparagus, early peas and corn, and garlic scapes.

W. Worst habit? Procrastination/perfectionism. They go hand in hand; waiting until I have time to do it all at once or “do it right.” There’s never enough time. I’m trying to adjust to doing what I can now and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

X. X-ray or ultrasound? This is a weird question. X-ray. I have tons of animal x-rays that Jeff and I have never figured out how to display, but we’re not willing to part with, and every so often someone comes across them and I have no good answers to their questions.

Y. Your favorite food? Capriotti’s cheesesteak or cheese fondue at The Melting Pot.

Z. Zodiac sign? Libra. The sign of balance and justice. As a 1976 baby, I’m a Fire Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac: a double dragon, twice the passion, twice the influence. Also twice the mistakes…


If you do an Old School A-Z leave me a link in the comments so I can see!


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For the love of everything that’s holy, stop saying things are the new sexy.

No really. I mean it.

You know how Justin Timberlake brought sexy back?

I’d pay him two turntables and a microphone to take that shit back where he found it.



strong is not the new sexy



It’s become a common thing lately to say things are the new sexy.


Strong is the new sexy.

Smart is the new sexy.

Confident is the new sexy.


Um, NO. Words matter. Distinctions matter.

They matter in the way we judge ourselves and the message we impart to our daughters.

There is a difference, and I’ll tell you what that difference is.


By definition, sexy means attractive, appealing, arousing sexual desire or interest.


Strong, smart, confident, generous, adventurous:

these are states of being.


You ARE strong if your body or spirit is capable of great burden.

You ARE smart if you can decipher or analyze.

You ARE confident if you believe in yourself, even when circumstance beckons you not to.

These are qualities of being. They are ends in themselves.


Sexy is a state of appearing. It is a byproduct.


Sexy is by definition a PERCEPTION of your physical and hormonal allure to another person.

It is, and please excuse my language, a measure of how f*ckable you are.


I don’t give a rat’s ass how f*ckable I appear to anyone.


I want to BE strong. I want to BE smart. I want to BE confident and independent and courageous.

In all things I strive to BE and not SEEM.

You play a dangerous game when you confuse what you ARE and what you APPEAR TO BE.
SO. Please.


Aim to BE so many things.


Just stop calling them the new sexy.

That demeans them. And you.



*For the record, I love the MAC ad pictured and its implication of strong as beautiful. It is the cheapening of that message that I resent.*



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