I attended the Women’s March on Washington on January 21.



I had so many reasons. I posted them on my personal Facebook page in the days leading up to the march. I thought and prayed on it.There seemed to be so many reasons and motivations floating about in my head. I thought I understood it.

But I didn’t. Not truly. Not in my bones. Not until I was there.

Somewhere, in the sea of humanity that morning, pressed between people on the Mall, the sweet voices of a group behind me singing “This little light of mine” to calm those of us who were starting to wonder where the fresh air was when all I could see in every direction were people, as I clutched the arm of my friend or she clutched mine and we both fought back tears, one simple word bubbled up out of the depths:


Out of those hundreds of thousands of people:

Some marched for science.

Some marched for equal pay.

Some marched for black lives or Muslim lives or gay lives.

Some marched for abortion rights.

Some marched for health care.

Some marched for the environment.

Some marched for respect.

Some marched for impeachment.

Some marched to be funny or to be serious or to be humble.

Some marched for their grandmothers.

Some marched for their granddaughters.

It didn’t matter if we didn’t completely agree. We all marched. As women, we stood up and said enough is enough and we came together to give power to our voice. It didn’t matter in that moment what the group had to say. The group gave the power to whatever you needed to say.

We don’t all have to agree. We don’t all have to assimilate. That’s the very point. Or at least the one I came away with.

I left feeling powerful. Finally. There are so few times I can say I’ve ever felt powerful in the four decades of my life. That’s a long time. A very long time. I can, however, name dozens of times I felt powerless. It was a seismic shift to feel that change.

And when it was over. I was jazzed. I was inspired. I was motivated. I cried for nearly the entire first hour of my four hour drive home. I was overwhelmed by what had just happened, what I had been a part of. I was joyful and sad and all of the other things.

Then I came home. I hugged my boys and let them stay up well past their bedtimes as I told them about the march and what I had seen and what I had heard and what it meant to me. I posted pictures. I rested. I tried to process all of it.

And then Monday came. I started to see the wedge. The criticism. The put downs. Other women trying to tear it down with flippant dismissals. Men trying to stereotype the kind of women who marched.

I wanted to rail. I wanted to fight fire with fire. I wanted to battle back with logic and facts and statistics. I wanted to try to explain. I had this voice now. I wanted to use it.

But none of what I wanted to say – the carefully crafted posts I had tried to write last week, the thoughtful responses to social media posts, the attempt to explain and explain and explain – would have mattered. Not to those who don’t want to listen or who aren’t curious to understand the other side.

So I started to lose my voice.

In one short week.

Powerlessness began to seep back into my soul. And I felt uncomfortable. I could feel the battle waging inside.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a boat rocker. I’m a people pleaser through and through. I have a very hard time standing up for myself. And when I do, I replay every moment over and over to make sure I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings in the process.

The problem? These feelings from the march, the motivations, the momentum, they are still there tickling at my edges, clarifying my vision, keeping me awake at night. The power hasn’t left. I had simply stuffed it into a corner in order to keep on with my regular life.

Until I finally had a realization: Fuck it.

(The people pleaser in my wants to apologize for the use of language…I’m still a work in progress). 

I will write. For myself. For this blog. For Facebook. For whatever. It’s how I process. Sometimes that might get shared and sometimes not. But I will write.

I will stand up for what I believe in. In big ways (I have called my senator’s office about senate confirmation hearings that mean the most to me to voice my opinion. I will call today about the Muslim ban and encourage the creation of effective and clear immigration and refugee policies that help, not hurt, those that need the most protection) and small ways (I have emailed my church to amend one of our weekly prayers of the faithful that felt exclusionary, not inclusionary).

I will teach my children our most treasured values – hope, peace and love – and how to protect them not only for our family, but for all families.

I will be curious. I will read books, I will watch documentaries about lives different from mine, I will continue to learn and be an educated citizen of this world.

I will volunteer my skills and time. I have offered pro-bono writing services for women running for local offices.

I will use my voice to protect my values. Not my politics. It’s time we blew up the party lines and spent a little time truly searching our souls for the values we hold dear and then protecting those.

That’s how I plan to use my voice. How will you use yours?



I have been diligently working away on my second novel for the last two months. I was feeling good about it until the characters in my real life started demanding some emotional and mental time effectively drowning out the fictional voices. It happens. I wasn’t too worried at first. It was more important to focus on the real people issues first.

I began to feel a little panic as the quiet continued, though. These people I’d been building didn’t seem to have much to say anymore. I thought perhaps once the “real” things died down they would open up again. Or maybe I was simply stuck in the dreaded middle where all rough drafts languish and I needed to just listen harder, push through, keep going. Whatever it was, I was feeling nervous. Something wasn’t right. And I knew it.

I went back to some craft books. I brainstormed. I did some exercises. Still no breakthrough. Then I considered that maybe it was really a story about characters B and C, not A and B like I started out with. Perhaps that’s why everyone was so quiet. I spent some time thinking about B and C and plotting out a story that still encompassed most of the existing material, just mixed up a bit. It was better. Truly. But I still felt it was a bit forced. I thought I just needed some time to sit with it. So I sat.

Something still wasn’t right.

Then, in a bolt of lightning moment, I saw Character D. She was waiting patiently with her hands in her lap. She was only supposed to be a tangential character to Character C  when I started with A and B, but when I looked at her, I realized there was something in her eyes. She needed me to ask her a question. She, apparently, had lots to say. Lots to say about her own story before A and B were even alive. Before she had ever met C.  This was turning the book on its head. If I went with D, well, this is something completely different than the existing 30,000 words I have been working on since January 1. This would mean starting over.

After I banged my head against my desk in frustration…


…I took a deep breath and went back to some earlier research I had done for what was supposed to be this little bit of backstory. As I did so, I felt character D’s voice coming through. She is an extremely strong woman who has so much more to say and share than the poor woman I was forcing onto center stage in those original 30,000 words.

As I dug deeper, I allowed character A to exit stage left. I felt her relief. She smiled and nearly ran out – I think she’s halfway to a margarita and beach towel by now. As I waved goodbye, I ushered in this new person, invited her to sit and now she’s smiling at me, waiting to answer my questions and tell me her story.

I’m irritated that there is all this work that seems wasted, though I know it’s not. There are at least two short stories in those 30,000 words I could tease out.

Mostly, though, I’m scared. I’m scared that this story will be a much harder one to tell. It’s more real and requires a knowledge of a period of time and events I’m not as familiar with. It represents big ideas and complicated cultural and political issues. It’s not at all like the previous book.

I’m still not sure what happens in this book exactly – she hasn’t told me everything. I just know that she holds the story. One I haven’t heard before. One that speaks more honestly to my core. One I’d rather be writing about. And if I’d rather be writing it, I can guarantee you’d rather be reading it.

No one said it would be easy, right?

I may stretch my skills to the limit to tell this story. And I may fail. But I think if I don’t try, I’ll always regret it. And character D? She may never forgive me.

So yet again on this writer’s journey, I find myself taking a leap of faith. Only this time, I feel like I have a partner in crime. She’s just as invested as I am. Together, we have a story to tell. I hope I can do it justice.

Teaching Boys About Girl Power

I will be the first to say that I love all that is girl power. Whether it’s Dove’s real beauty campaign or Always’ Like a Girl or Lean In circles or A Mighty Girl or petitioning to finally getting a woman on some US currency or LEGO finally adding more female minifigures. I’m with it. I’m there. Sign me up. Count me in. Girls rock.


(Sorry. I think there is a but missing to these conversations. A big one. And I’m not body shaming here.) Most of these conversations are girls talking to girls. Or parents talking to girls. Encouraging girls. Telling girls they are as good as if not better than. That they are worth it. That they can be and do anything.

And they can. This is an important conversation. We, myself included, need to hear it. Again and again and again and again.


Where are the messages to little boys about girls? Why aren’t we including the next generation of boys so that they can finally break the cycle of misogynistic thinking?

Case in point: My husband is not a misogynistic thinker. If asked point blank, he’d tell you girls and women can do whatever they want, would vote for a political leader based on qualifications, not gender, would have no trouble reporting to women (not that he ever has in the tech industry) and certainly holds my professional and personal value as no less equal to his own.


He was surprised to watch me fight for an equal salary to a male colleague and lose. He never had to get off the Metro in DC and change trains because he was afraid of the handsy guy saying inappropriate things to him in a train full of people who all turned their heads instead of helping. He never had his ass grabbed on a Metro escalator. He doesn’t have to hold his keys like a weapon in a parking lot or scan a pathway for the blue emergency boxes. Being married to a woman who speaks up about these things helped him to hear all that he had been missing. Now he sees it. In a variety of places. It’s easy to say you support women, it’s another to understand what exactly it is that women are dealing with in a culture that demeans, objectifies and marginalizes them in big and small ways every day.

I don’t want my boys to be blinded to it. I don’t ever want them to think that a certain job is a boy job versus a girl job. I don’t want them to imply that certain tasks are for women and others men. I don’t want stereotypes and cultural bias to influence how they see themselves or others in this world. I don’t want them to consider a difference between women’s sports and men’s because right now, they only see sports. My greatest joy this summer has been watching them cheer for the US Women’s Soccer team – the five year old taking a victory lap through the house after the first corner kick score in the match against Japan only to be awed by the following 15 minutes of epic soccer. This summer, I have also watched them cheer just as loudly for the women on American Ninja Warrior as the men. Accomplishment is accomplishment. Period. The eight year old asked what we were talking about once when I was bemoaning the inability of equal pay for equal work to pass and his response was simple: “That’s not fair.” Nope. It isn’t.


I know it’s not that easy. I know they don’t live in a bubble. I know they see toy aisles separated by gender. I know our nation’s lexicon is biased and that the media they are exposed to is lazy, relying on stereotypes and base humor to create their characters and perpetuate a storyline. I know they could probably name 20 male superheroes before ever landing on Wonder Woman. I know they see me doing laundry and dishes and putting on make up and internalize those differences.


I will continue to talk to my boys openly about what I think is fair and unfair and unabashedly tell you I plan on raising two boy feminists with the support and help of their father. But I think the conversation to our boys needs to be larger. I think we can’t forget them in all our talk to girls. I don’t think it needs to be or should be at the expense of our girl power chatter. I think it needs to simply include them. All kids should feel able to realize their utmost potential and we need to teach our children how they can help each other to do that.

Let’s find a way to talk to our boys about girls. Let’s teach our boys how to work with girls. Let’s stop separating their play and thinking and teams. Let’s stop creating dress codes that punish girls for wearing leggings or shorts and start explaining to boys what their responsibilities are in the world as people of decency, integrity and fairness. I don’t know how we start doing that. All I know is that in my experience, it has started with simply talking about it with the men in my life. And so I will. I hope you do, too.

As women, we need to speak up. Not only because we have something worthy to say, but because there are a lot of men and boys out there who need to hear it. And, frankly, who else is going to tell them?


While playing soccer with the kids in the park one afternoon, our shadows stretched long ahead of us in the grass. I marveled like I once did as a child as it followed me wherever I went, a constant companion, a 2-D mirror of my body’s actions. Then I felt a bit sad for my shadow and its inability to strike out in its own direction, its colorlessness, the image of Wendy stitching Peter’s shadow back into servitude weighing heavy on my mind. IMG_4806

The fall is always a busy time. I find myself making bargains with myself – I just need to get through fall break which turns into I just need to get through Halloween then B’s birthday then the neighborhood yard sale then fall sports season then B’s birthday party then the soup swap then Thanksgiving… There is always something right around the corner. Another task. Another commitment. Another time suck. All things I normally love. All things I have chosen. All things that make our family the active, giving, fun entity it is.

So why is it that I suddenly felt like a shadow to my own family? A colorless entity just dragged around from ball field to soccer pitch to grocery store to school conference to playdate…I no longer felt like a participant but merely a means to an end. The one to purchase the birthday presents for the upcoming friend’s party, the securer of class snacks, the chauffeur to games, the maker of appointments. I have been checking things off boxes without truly participating in any of them. Or so it felt that afternoon as I watched my five year old jump over my shadow, completely oblivious to the mom inside.

At a neighborhood board meeting last night, I was explaining to a neighbor friend why I missed a mutual friend’s party this weekend and alluded to all these commitments that seem to have run roughshod over my calendar and he, wisely, told me there was an important word I needed to learn: No. While I think there is truth to this, looking back on these busy, busy weeks, I see there is not much I would really like to have declined. They are mostly activities I typically derive joy from. But somewhere in the middle of the busyness, I let the inconveniences override the fun, the what’s next overshadow the what’s now.

This is not to say that I didn’t have a blast cheering on my boys in their respective games or join in the five-year-old’s victory dance at a particularly surprising strike at a friend’s bowling party or revel in the chaos that was Halloween night with my boys and visiting niece. But I did tend to end each day feeling simply relieved to have survived and bracing myself for whatever was on the calendar for the next day.

Instead of saying no, I need to say yes. I need to remind myself why I choose the things I choose. I need to prioritize those yeses and embrace them, own them, live them. I need to approach a yes as a gift, not a burden. And yes, if I can’t find the joy in that yes than it’s a yes that needs to be a no.

I wrote most recently about perspective. I think that’s some of it. But I think as women/caretakers, we need to remember that we aren’t just the shadows to everyone else’s needs, we are the leaders of our own.

Sometimes being the shadow is okay. As long as we remember to sit down and keep it company for awhile. Even shadows can get lonely. IMG_4808

Football and Females


I love football.

I was a rare breed of Patriots fan growing up in tobacco road basketball country. It didn’t matter. My support was sincere. It was in my Yankee-born veins. I remember feeling absolutely sick in 1986 when the Chicago Bears shuffled their way all over my poor Patriots. I saw my son feel that same pain when we let him stay up in 2012 to watch the Patriots lose to the Giants and he looked at me with tears in his little blue-green eyes and said, “But I wanted the Patriots to win the Super Bowl, mommy.” As if his 6 year old desire was enough to put some extra time on the clock and change the outcome. I said a little prayer of thanks that the Sox had overcome the Curse of the Bambino by the time this little guy came along. I don’t think he could have handled that kind of pain.

But lately, I’m a bit disgusted with football. It’s been a rough week for the NFL. Domestic abuse, child abuse. Not great. And their response? The NFL created a VP of social responsibility position and put a woman in it. And look, look, we appointed some other women, too! Great. Bandaids are helpful first aid tools, too, but not for broken bones.

I understand that professional athletes are paid to perform a task. I understand that because of our American culture of success we thrust role model-dom upon these athletes whether they want it or are worthy of it. I understand that the almighty dollar will influence what the NFL does much more than what I say here. I also understand that many fans can more easily separate their dedication to their favorite teams from the news that’s circulating about certain individuals than I can. I understand that despite the current outcry, the impact on the actual game will be negligible.

But what I don’t understand is how the NFL can be so totally tone deaf to such a large group of their fans.

Women make up more than 45 percent of the NFL’s fan base. And they need more than women appointed to positions simply to smooth over a PR nightmare. They need more than a few too-tight pink t-shirts with team logos on them. They need respect. Real respect. Not appeasement. I was a fan when being a girl football fan didn’t feel as common. I didn’t look up to the players as role models, personally — I had no shot of being a professional football player (despite the fact that my high school football coaching uncle taught me how to properly tackle as a means of self-defense the summer I was 13) and had my own bookshelves full of role models. But I respected players. I appreciated their work ethic. I lauded their dramatic accomplishments on the field. I had favorites based on their performances on and off the field (I’m a sucker for a big football player helping the community).

If the NFL wants to fix this for women, they need to fix this for everyone – men and women. Understand that domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue. Understand that creating merchandise for women doesn’t mean you smack an NFL logo on a high heel and call it a day. Understand that the types of men they “hire” to play their sport must, like any other profession, show a certain level of character.

Show me concrete policies and behavior expectations for your athletes. Show me consistent implementation. Show me training in how to recognize abuse – domestic, child or otherwise. Show me counseling provided to players. Show me support offered to athletes’ families. Show me, show me, show me. Stop telling me. Stop pandering. Stop messaging. Stop strategizing. Stop flip flopping. Stop putting the quality of the pay day above the quality of the player.

As the mom of boys who play sports and the mom of boys who watch sports, show me you are an organization worthy of my boys’ attention. Because right now? I’m not sure the NFL is. It is my job to raise boys who grow into men who respect women. Men who value hard work in themselves and others. Men who set about earning what they receive. Men who give back. Men who are generous with their time and love. Men who understand hitting anyone – man, woman or child – is not how to communicate. Men who can distinguish right from wrong.

What does it say about their mother if I continue to support an organization that clearly doesn’t support her?

Nothing I’d like for them to hear, that’s for sure.

I know that it’s a few bad apples. That the actions of a few do not imply the actions of the many. But when these kinds of voices are the ones we are hearing, when I see action taken only when sponsors threaten boycott, when I have to turn off ESPN so my children don’t see the image of a man cold-cocking a woman in an elevator, then there is something wrong. Something that needs to be fixed.

So, show me I’m wrong NFL. Show me something more than you have the last two weeks. Show me something real and honest and sincere and compassionate. Show me you’re thinking about more than your own face.

I feel we are at a tipping point in society with women and their role in it right now. The NFL’s domestic abuse issues are simply a drop in that bucket already filling up with the blocked equal pay for equal work bill, the shaming of women who are the victims of sexual assaults on college campuses, corporations that get to determine what kind of health care their female employees deserve.

We are at a tipping point, all right. The sad thing, is I’m not sure which way the scales are going to tip. And that scares me.