“Gold Digger” ~ Kanye West

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So, what is it about a million dollars? Isn’t that what so many of us wished for when we were little…or older? “Gee, if only I had a million dollars, I’d be set!” Then, we’d make a list of everything we wanted: a mansion with a pool…the best car out there…not ever having to work again…all the clothes we could ever want…and the list went on. You know, I still hear people say this (except in this economy, it’s more like “I wish I had a couple million dollars” 🙄) but I think about whether or not it’s really the thing to want…to desire…to dream about.

Yes, I do believe money can buy certain non-tangeable things like security, better safety, and the such, but what else can it REALLY buy? Happiness? Love? Fulfillment? Respect?

Hmmmmm…now that’s I’m a cough-cough…tad older…I’ve come to realize that what I truly want in life isn’t connected to me winning the lottery at all. Over the last few years I’ve come to see money very differently. Much more utilitarian…and not so much as what dreams are made of.

Let’s take happiness. Now, some might argue that money CAN buy happiness. “Look…it’ll get me a boat, a truck and a cabin in the woods…that’s happiness!” And that’s right. It will get you the stuff you want that can make you happy…but is it the moolah that’s actually causing the happiness? I’ve known people with these things and they still aren’t happy. Still aren’t content. Are actually, still wanting more.

I remember when Hubby #1 (shutty, peeps… 😬) and I moved from our orange and brown, 1 bedroom, teensy tiny kitchen, hideous bathroom apartment to our trailer! I was in heaven! My gosh…no more neighbors clomping around upstairs (although we did have the best neighbors possible 😀) and no more parties blaring downstairs. No more having our allotted parking place being taken over by some boob who had no idea what a ‘reserved’ sign meant and no more traipsing up rickety stairs juggling 3 bags of groceries and an armful of school books.

Now, we had our own driveway…only a couple of stairs…no more people surrounding us with only a piece of drywall separating us. It was heaven on earth. Even the avocado color scheme was a welcome change from the darkness of what we’d had. Could we ever be happier? Would we ever out-grow this nirvana? Well. Yes.

The trailer that was HUGE when we moved in suddenly became just as full and cluttered as our apartment had been thanks to my penchant for thrift shopping. Whenever I found something that I just knew we had the space for, I bought it…not realizing that each item actually did take up an area of finite space that was shrinking with each trip I took in the car. And the avocado color scheme I thought was so beautiful and fresh and nature-y? It started looking like someone puked up spinach all over the place. 🤢

SOOOOO…we bought our first house! YEA! Now this was IT! I would never want anything else than our own house. This is where we’d raise our family and have dinners for our grandkids and throw parties and do whatever it was we wanted. And, it was all well and good. Until 2 weeks after we moved in and Hubby said he wanted a divorce. Heh? We finally ‘made it’ to where we had dreamed and he wanted out? Hmmmm.

Why is it we still live in a society where having money means ‘you made it.’ Because someone else’s bank account is bigger than yours, they just have to be happier. I’ll share a secret with you. I believed this for a long time. Then, my world got shook up and I finally realized what I really needed…and what could actually be in my reach if I worked at it. It didn’t have to be a dream…it could be a reality.

Instead of dreaming about being a millionaire, I decided that I’d rather be loved, happy, and content with a feeling of purpose. Just 4 things…instead of a million bucks.

For so long in my life, I thought of myself as being unlovable. Face it, after 2 years of being sexually abused, 3 divorces (yes, you may roll your eyes 🙄) and a couple of break-ups, it’s pretty hard not to feel this way. After Hubby 3 and I divorced and then J and I had our tumultuous relationship, I felt more unlovable than I ever had in my entire life. Hubby and I still talk daily…and lately he’s told me how much he regrets leaving and that he still loves me. No. He doesn’t. At least not in the way he’s talking about. He loves what we HAD. He misses the life we had built. He’s found out that doesn’t happen often. BUT, he doesn’t love ‘me’. If he did…well…he wouldn’t have walked out that door.

Then I had J for 3 years. Manipulative, gaslighting, cheating, emotionally and physically abusive J. And, I loved him. A lot. (Doesn’t this just show how irrational our emotions are?) And, he said he loved me. A lot. It’s took quite a while to realize this, but no. He didn’t. You know, I’ve never laid a hand on my son…and yes, he was always well behaved. I’ve never laid a had on my poochies…and yes, they are cough-cough…’sorta’…well behaved. And why haven’t I done that? Because I love them. You do NOT hurt what you love. (PLEASE don’t give me a lecture on physical punishment for kids…that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open and discuss…but when every single medical association, psychiatric/psychological association, school organization, etc. ALL say that physical punishment is wrong, I’m in pretty good company. Let’s leave it at that.) NOW, I will admit this: there were times I was so angry or upset at my boy or dogs that I had an ‘urge’ to lash out…but my love for them stopped it.

Then I was alone for a year…during a pandemic where I had only myself to be with for the great majority of the time and I got to know me in a way I never had before. I started liking me. Even loving me. And that felt great! That I could give myself what I needed was something I never knew was in me. Then, Bill came ambling along and he loves me too. We love each other when we’re crabby and tired and stressed…and not just when it’s good. He’s never threatened me with anything…talked poorly about me to others…blamed me for things outside of my realm of power…and has always either asked for or accepted forgiveness. At the age of 54, I finally can see what love is from the inside and the out. That, my grasshoppers, is worth more than a million bucks.

Contentment. Now that’s an interesting word. Synonyms include being comfortable, satisfied, and fulfilled. I was really content when I was married to Oliver’s dad. I loved loved loved our life together because I was raising a family which had always been my dream. But I also worried that this could be taken away from me if I didn’t measure up to the standard of the his family. And believe me, this standard was high. So I worked my ass off for this ‘contentment’ and maybe that tainted it in a lot of ways. B’s family is a cutter-offer type of family. There’s a divorce? Cut the person out of every picture that ever existed of them even though they are the mother or father of your grandchildren. Piss one of them off…and you’ll need to beg for their attention once again. So, yes, I was content in raising my family and being a mommy…but I was also worried it was an illusion at times…something that could be taken away with any stumble on my part. That was a shit-load of pressure…particularly for someone who’s bipolar and stumbles her way through life anyway.

I’m content now. Finally now. It’s not because I’m with Bill or because my career rocks or because I have the best kid in the universe or because I live in a cute house or because I have family that loves me. It’s because I’m OK with me. Satisfied with me. If I had to be alone, I’d be OK. I’ve come to realize that. I don’t worry about stumbling anymore. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve learned to pick my own self up and keep moving forward.

And purpose? I think we all have this question that’s been around since the beginning of time: “What am I here for? What’s my life all about?” I’m going to be honest here. I always saw myself as another Oprah…someone who asked the hard questions and dug deep into issues and looked great on TV. That was my dream. Still is actually. But, my purpose is 2 fold: to be a great mom and to be a great professor. Am I great? Depends on what day you ask my son or whether or not I let a student make-up an exam. But I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth for. Along with the purpose of teaching, I know I was meant to teach as much as I can about mental illness. I believe everything happens for a reason…I also don’t pretend to know what those reasons are. There’s so much I don’t understand. But, I finally understand why I have bipolar…because I can use my opportunities of teaching to help others understand mental illness and start to break the stigma of it themselves. Does this make up for what this fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar puts me through. Well….no. It does not. But, does it make it more tolerable…knowing I’m using it for others to learn from? Yes. It does.

And then there’s happiness. The word that’s so different for everyone but so widely sought after by us all. Let’s see…I’m loved, content, and have a purpose in life. Yes. I am happy. Happy with me. Happy with my life. Happy with what I have.

If I were to win a million dollars tonight, my world would change. I could go out and buy to my hearts content. But…would I alienate family? Would I suddenly quit my job and forget the purpose I have? Would I have to worry about how to spend it…who to spend it on…what charities to give it too? WOULD this windfall make me happy? Is this the end all/get all in life? I don’t think so. Not anymore. Because, my sweet peeps, I’ve got all I need right now.

Kristi xoxo

“When the walls come tumblin’ down.” ~ John Mellencamp

So, blech.

I’ve blawged about toxic positivity in the past (you can take a look-see at it here) and one of the top ‘guru’s’ regarding this movement is was Rachel Hollis of the “Girl, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing” fame. Both of these books have been New York Times best sellers and yes, I’ve read them; I started thinking about these when one of my students in my Marriage and Family class chose “Girl, Wash Your Face” for her book review. She wrote how she was moved by Rachel’s advice and wants to live her life more like Hollis herself. I can understand that because when you first read books that contain mountains of toxic positivity, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit. Then, you start to eventually understand that once you climb a mountain, you have to make your way back down. (Note: I hate the use of girl in her titles…I am not a girl! Saying ‘boy’ to a man is a slam…why is saying ‘girl’ to women OK?) 🤔

Anyhoot, why am I picking on Hollis? And, isn’t this bullying…something I absolutely abhor? Well…no. It’s not. Here’s why: Hollis has built a career on her positivity approach, no judgement stance, strong marriage example, etc. which have all come tumbling down. And she herself is the reason behind the fall.

First, Hollis is very well known for HER inspirational quotes on Instagram and come to find out, they aren’t even hers. The best example? In April, 2020, Hollis posted this:

I hope like hell y’all know this is NOT an original Hollis quote…in fact, it’s a Maya Angelou quote for which she was given no credit at all. So, Rachel ‘apologized’ for this blatant plagiarism by saying this: “This morning I found out that my social team posted a graphic on my Instagram yesterday that said, “Still… I Rise” and then she goes on to explain how there is no excuse for this oversight.” Well…gee. She says there is no excuse but quickly blamed her social media team. Yes, she said she was responsible since she’s leader of the team, but it still sounds like a way to get the blame off of herself. If she truly wants to take responsibility and apologize, she needs to NOT mention the team she apparently leads and simply say “I’m truly sorry for this post…”.

And, this isn’t the only quote Rachel has taken credit for…another example: “Ambition is not a Dirty Word” is actually Debra Condren’s self-help book (2008) of the same title. Hmmm. There are many others. Now, as a professor (🤓), I STRONGLY emphasize to my students the importance of citing sources and referencing quotes…to me, plagiarism is lying. Right? You are claiming someone elses work for your own. Isn’t that cheating? Lying? SO…it’s interesting to me how Rachel can have a chapter in her Wash Your Face book that says it’s a lie that you CAN’T tell the truth. Well, Rachel…maybe that’s not a lie after all…because you seem to not be telling the truth in this sense.

Then, there’s the toilet fiasco she has recently been embroiled in. Here’s what Rachel said just a month ago in a deleted TikTok post: “Someone commented and said ‘You are privileged AF, and I was like, ‘You’re right, I’m super freaking privileged. But also, I worked my a** off to have the money, to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets’. And then she said ‘Well, you’re unrelatable.’ What is it about me that made you think I wanna be relatable?”

Okey dokey. In her books, she writes about how judgement has to stop among women, yet she is saying her housekeeper is a toilet cleaner. Really? That sounds pretty judgey to me. I have a feeling her housekeeper does more than scrub where she poops. And relatable? She doesn’t want to be relatable? Relatable means you’re approachable…empathic…cordial…responsive. I’m sorry, but those are things I want to be. Then, in the caption to the video, she lists other women: Harriet Tubman, RBG, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida Khalo, Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian who she says are all “unrelatable AF”.

Harriet Tubman

Heh? Rachel compares herself to Harriet Tubman? The hero who escaped from slavery, led 13 potentially fatal missions using the underground railroad, and freed up to 70 slaves in the process? And Malala Yousafzai? The youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate (2014) who is an educational activist for women and children in her native Pakistan? THEN, if these comparisons aren’t bad enough (regarding all she listed), she says they were all unrelatable AF. For those of you in ma’s age group (old and older 🧓👴), this means “as fuck”. I’m sorry, peeps, but saying the word ‘fuck’ when talking about these women is demeaning. Like when Justin Beiber said Anne Frank would have hopefully been a ‘belieber.’ OOOKKKAAAAYYYY!

And Rachel’s ignoring of societal constraints so many people find themselves in really pisses me off. “You and only you are responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” Well…not really. Name a female president. Name more than 3 female CEO’s. Name an African American President (President Obama is mixed race). Get my point? It’s not right…but it’s a reality: there are constraints in our society that affect who we become. Period. Further, you can’t force yourself into ‘happy.’ When the crux of the pandemic hit and small businesses closed with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, it was hard for these people, who spent years and years building their businesses, to be ‘happy.’ And what about the Asian American community that is being targeted for COVID? People being spit on…harassed…set on fire…slashed with box cutters, etc. In some areas, the discrimination against Asian Americans has increased 9 fold over the course of the pandemic. This does not lead to ‘happiness’ for those being targeted…it leads to fear, anger, disillusionment and confusion. Right? So there ARE barriers in our way to who we become and how happy we are. If there weren’t, this would be a utopia and believe you me, grasshoppers we are not living in a perfect world.

Finally, Rachel has given us a front row seat to her marriage in which we found out these things: she was 19 and he was 27 when they met but he never asked her age (hello…she could have been underage); he used her as a booty-call (her words) during which he was emotionally abusive for the first couple years of their relationship which only started to change when she was on the road to becoming a success; and he told her he would only be a part of her company if he could be the CEO…if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have anything to do with it and she capitulated to the ultimatum (what a dick-ish demand on his part…narcissism anyone?). They went on to have a “Rise Together” relationship podcast as well as live conferences where people could go and hear them wax on about their great marriage and how you can have one too…for the low low price of $1800 (not including the travel, hotel and food). Come to find out, they weren’t as happy as they made themselves out to be and have recently divorced after 15 years of marriage.

YES, I KNOW! I am the LAST one to gripe about someone’s divorce since I’ve had 12 3 myself (shutty the mouthies 🙄). But, I’m also the last one to say my relationships are perfect and were problem free. I’m also not purporting you should be someone’s ’emotionally abusive booty-call’ for a couple of years. Here’s some advice the Hollis’ shared at their conferences: “We feel like it’s possible—we know it’s possible—to have an exceptional relationship despite the stresses you have in your life.” And, “Don’t give notes. Give praise.” in which this goodie is telling women to not bring up anything negative about their sex-life. Apparently, his pleasure is the only one that matters. And if there are issues? Work through them with better communication and a therapist. But really, based on Rachel’s own advice: your happiness is up to you so if you want to be happy in your marriage, just be happy. Duh. Why didn’t my hubbies and I think of that? 🙄

Lastly, Rachel got a boob job after her kids were born. So what…right? No biggie…unless…you’ve said you have to accept yourself for being good enough. There’s nothing wrong with plastic surgery…unless…you’ve preached body positivity. C’mon, Rachel…actions speak louder than words.

Look, my point here isn’t to bash someone, but to let people know that so many of the influencers and self-help gurus out there are simply parroting platitudes, re-packaging what has already been sold, and giving advice that they themselves don’t follow in order to make money. Period. Yes, I want my students to read read read! But, I also want them to read smart. You can’t take things as gospel just because this person has a multi-million dollar company. You shouldn’t emulate someone who isn’t living their words themselves. You needn’t copy someone elses’ ‘perfect’ marriage which was actually created out of emotional abuse. You can’t blindly take the advice of someone without knowing what advice they actually live by. We all need to be smart consumers of self-help books and the people we follow and put our trust in. Because sometimes, they simply don’t deserve our support.

Kristi xoxo

Here are 2 excellent videos that talk more about Hollis:

“…the confidence with a creased face was going to be her biggest head-turner.” ~ Justine Bateman

From Page Six

Dear Justine,

So, let’s just get this out of the way first: when I was a teenager, I wanted to be you! Seriously! Here you were starring in my favorite show with Michael J. Fox (who I had planned to marry but I decided to step aside and let Tracy have a shot at him 😐) and I just knew we would be besties if we ever met. And to be honest, I think that still applies.

Anyhoot, I bought your book yesterday…FACE. I had read about it online and couldn’t wait to take a look-see at it myself. I was literally only a paragraph into it when I started highlighting passages; after a while, there was more highlighting than not and I gave up and just enjoyed. It may not have looked that way to my neighbors though since I was in the backyard and every few seconds I would yell “YES” and “NO SHIT”; and I actually cried through much of it because you showed me a different way of being.

I had already started a blawg post about the unreality of instagram (I hate social media…hate it! Why in the fuck do they call it ‘social’ media when it’s really an individual love fest with yourself? 🤔 And, sorry for the cussing, ma…but Justine cusses too so there! ) but knew I had to finish that one later because this took precedent.

Here’s what pulled me completely in:

“I was elated when creases emerged across the top of my cheeks when I smiled, when I saw the promising beginnings of small bags under my eyes, when the skin loosened on my neck. One summer, I even noticed a real bonus of cleavage creases on my upper chest from the sun. I was finally beginning to look like the kinds of women I thought were the most interesting, and the most attractive.”

Then later: “I hated the idea that half the population (*women) was perhaps spending the entire second half of their lives ashamed and apologetic that their faces had aged naturally.”

Wow. Then, through the various stories you told, you were able to get me inside other older women’s heads to see how they had been berated, humiliated, vilified, and scorned because…GASP…they had the audacity to grow old.

And here’s the conundrum: if a woman tries to ‘grow old gracefully’, she is made to feel horrible about herself for having wrinkles and thinner skin. BUT, if she gets any work done (and you are right…that’s a rabbit hole for sure), she’s made to feel horrible about herself for being plastic. So basically, women can’t win no matter what they do. Is that the point?

I had never really thought about how all young women are looking the same. But they are! When your face is made up to the point you can’t smile and you have now got the perfect nose, filled lips, manicured eye-brows, and creaseless skin you look like ‘everyone’ else. There’s no uniqueness. No individuality. As Julia Bruccilieri writes in her Huffington Post article “Between make-up and Facetune, we’re creating a homogenized expression of beauty.” Look at this from Seventeen magazine…these are 3 different women who all want to be Kyle Jenner (🙄)…you can’t tell one apart from another!

You are so so right when you say that being called ‘pretty’ is the ultimate in female praise. Someone calls you smart? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you have a nice personality? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you look good for your ‘age’? That just means you’re not pretty. Blech.

But here’s the bad thing…I’ve bought into it! Hook, line and sinker. I am smart (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😐)…have an OK personality (I’m bipolar…not always the most charming 🤨)…look OK for 54 (more about that in a bit). But, call me pretty and I’m elated! After all, isn’t that what women have been striving for since the beginning of time? Isn’t that the end all and be all?

Love this!

I have to say my favorite story was about Denise who was sitting at the kitchen table while her hubby was looking at a pic of an aging movie star saying how ‘he wouldn’t do her for anything.’ OK. Right. Because, as Denise points out, what woman WOULDN’T want a thinning hair, drooped eyes, potbelly man offering to boink her. She should be grateful since he’s such a catch. Rrrriiiigggghhhhttt? 🙄

And that’s what pisses me off so much! How men CAN age and look it and not be ashamed of it. In fact, they still think they are God’s gift. Another rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhtttt. But a thinning haired, potbellied, droopy eyed woman needs to hide herself away from the world because she’s so hideous she shouldn’t be out. And people say men and women are treated equally. Hmmm…

It’s like the worst thing you can say to a woman is: “You look as old as fuck.” And that’s the ultimate put-down, huh? To be told that because you’ve been on this earth for a few decades, your value is nil. Zip. Zero. Yes, we can try to turn back the hands of time, but who are we really fooling? Us? ‘Them’? As Tara says in your book: “You’re people pleasing the group that cares the least about you.” Like in high school…all you wanted was for the popular bitches girls to notice you…compliment you. But you hated them. Why in the name of all that’s holy did you want their acceptance so badly?

I never realized how ashamed I was of my age and looks until I dated a much younger man. After just a few months together, he told me how old my neck looked and I instantly became obsessed with it and humiliated by it’s wrinkly skin. This was also around the time he started being mean to me…so…I had a face lift. I was promised by the doc that this would not only ‘fix’ my neck (which it didn’t…thanks for the extra pain and price-tag, doc 😳) but would make my face ‘fresher’. After all, I was 50 at the time and ALL 50 year old women need to start ‘maintaining’ themselves. This, Justine, was one of the worse decisions I’ve ever made. I thought that if I looked younger, J would treat me better. Actually, I looked a bit younger and J escalated his emotional abuse and serial cheating. So…looking younger is obviously not the panacea for all our troubles.

Here’s the thing: even as I write this, I’m crying. I KNOW age ‘shouldn’t’ matter…but I also know age ‘does’ matter. I’ve been conditioned for 54 years to strive, among anything else, to be pretty…which means at my age, to be young. The media has made me ‘believe’ aging is ugly…if they didn’t make us believe this, we wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on their fucking products. Like the story you told about Faith and her experience as a former advertising exec: “…people will accept what you tell them to accept. You tell them they have a flaw and you sell them your remedy.” So we’re pawns in a game. A game of money that preys on a culturally determined ‘flaw’ that is lucrative for so many, but emotionally detrimental for more.

Old me with my old man!

You know, I could talk forever about this and if you ever want too, I suppose I could make it to L.A. where we could pal around and yack. Just sayin’. But I want you to know that you have started the process of freeing me from these bonds of youth. You said something in your introduction that I have been reading over and over again: “Because, in the end, there’s nothing wrong with your face.” I needed to hear that. Most women need to hear that. This is MY face. My 54 year old, experienced, educated, mentally ill, professoring face. It’s been through a lot and I hate the diatribes I’ve directed towards it. It’s mine. All mine. And I’m going to love it for that.

Love,

Kristi xo

“Just stop! Cause I really love you.” ~ Captain and Tennille

So, when are words not enough, and why am I thinking about this now? Well, the sweetie students in my Marriage and Family classes (shutty the mouthies 🙄) had to write their own original definitions of family and marriage, and what I got was great: some students insisted that blood defined a family while others agreed it was love/support/understanding that made a person family to you. In terms of defining marriage, I got a lot of people talking about commitment, loyalty, etc. and the word ‘unconditionally’ was used a lot. Then, one of my sweetie students wrote this: “What couples have is indescribable to me…it’s so much.”

As always, I was gobsmacked by this insight and she is absolutely right. How do you find words that encompass all that a couple has? How could words ever truly be enough? Our textbook (and I also saw this on spruce.com) states that: “…marriage is a formal union and social and legal contract between 2 individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.” Is this really ‘all’ that marriage is? A contract that unites people on these 3 levels? I don’t know about y’all, but there were times in my marriages (😳) where there was a lot ‘more’ to that definition.

I remember when O’s dad and I were married and how we faced a lot in our first few years together: O having severe asthma that led to hospitalizations, living away from all of our family at all and knowing just a handful of people in a strange state, ma being diagnosed with breast cancer, me going to graduate school, B working overtime so we could save up a nest egg since we were living paycheck to paycheck, and the list goes on. And this is nothing different…and much much less than other couples face…in that we ALL have sicknesses, financial issues, family trauma (and drama too), etc. that we have to deal with. It’s true that B and I were legally a couple, economically tied to one another, and had an emotional connection, but there was just ‘more’ to this time in our lives than what was seen on the surface.

We went deeper than just ’emotions’ and acted as anchors for one another…support. We sacrificed for each other and made decisions that put both of our interests out there. We worried and cried over O more times than I can count and held hands or hugged while we did…we knew we couldn’t live without him. We went ‘deeper’ than just the mental state we call ’emotion’. But what other word is there?

Then, I think about my sonshine. There is no way I could ever completely express the love I have for him…as John Candy says about his wife in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (my ALL time favorite film EVER 😎), “Words just aren’t big enough for what I feel” and he was referring to his wife. Hmmm…think about that: words aren’t big enough. You know, I wasn’t a mama yet when I first watched this movie in 1987 (I was 5 at the time 🙄) and when John said this, I teared up. But when I watched it again after O was born, I got it. I truly got it. There’s not words that encompass all I feel for my boy. And there never will be.

I also think about my ma. The other day I told her that I forbade (my favorite word to use with her…she hates it 😐) her to ever die. Period. Yes, she’s 75 but she’s going to live to be 150…I won’t have it any other way. Anyhoot, how do I put into words what she means to me? What she’s done for me? How she supports me every single day of my life?

Being mentally ill is a challenge for me, but it’s just as big of a challenge for the people around me. Ma has been there through my ups and downs, and I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t nurtured me through the breakdown I had. I don’t say that lightly either. I don’t throw around the words: “Oh…you saved my life!” when someone brings me a sandwich. No. I mean…she SAVED my life. Literally. So how do I put all of that in a word? How do I define that dynamic? That support? That love? That commitment? Well…I can’t.

Today Bill and I are both getting COVID tests…he was exposed at work and we both have some symptoms, so he was home for the day. We were fixing lunch (I found out he finished off our chocolate chip cookies…I had words for that…🤨) and I asked him if he loved me. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me and said: “Why are you asking me that? You don’t know?” Well, yes…I guess I ‘know’ he loves me, but I need to ‘know more’ that he loves me. Does that make sense?

One bad thing about having bipolar is that my brain is never fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) off. It’s always on. And I don’t mean just ‘on’…it’s always on at full-blast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s constantly imagining, ruminating, wondering, fretting, deciding, etc. and so I told him this: “Yes, I know you love me…but what does that really mean to you?” Isn’t that a tough one to answer?

I don’t know if I can answer that myself. I know what love isn’t…it’s not manipulation, retaliation, distrust, disloyalty, etc. but what IS it? I guess that’s what I was after. You know, after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you question so much in other ones. J said he loved me all of the time…everyday (except for the days he was cheating on me and sometimes, even then) so was what we had love? I look back and know I loved him, but have also accepted that he couldn’t have loved me. You don’t purposefully hurt those you love. You just don’t do it. I can’t imagine laying a hand on my son or dog…I can’t imagine ever saying something cruel to ma…I can’t imagine ever PURPOSEFULLY hurting anyone I love. So…maybe that’s why we say actions are louder than words…they simply ‘show more’.

When you think about it, words are finite…they have some definitions to them and then the entry in the dictionary ends. Maybe what’s important is to figure out what words mean to you, and then try to express that in any way you can…sort of like the Love Languages. What says love to me might be different than what says it to you.

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in words. We give words way too much weight. We give them way too much power. After contemplating all of this, I realized that words are something that we need to sometimes throw away. If Bill got mad at me today and said something hurtful, I’d still know he loves me. He’s human…he’s going to say unloving things just like I will. Maybe instead of getting bitter about this and racking up all of his ‘mistakes’, I could instead look at his actions all of the other time…his behavior…his loyalty…his support. Maybe we all need to work on ‘showing’ than on ‘saying’. Words can hurt and sting and destroy…no argument there. But actions and future behavior can heal that…if we let it.

Kristi xoxo

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ~ Stephen King

So, a friend was talking to me about one of their family members who has been formally diagnosed with bipolar but refuses to get help with it even though they are having trouble functioning in their day-to-day life. When I asked my friend: “What all is family doing for him?” their response was this: “Most of them are fed up…they are stepping away since he won’t get help and it’s so much to handle.”

Clear as mud to me.

Hmmmmm. Now first of all, I know how difficult it is to deal with someone who has a mental illness. I’m not the only one in my family with a mental health issue and there is also a lot of alcoholism as well, so I know it’s tough to be there for the mentally ill day after day. Then, when you add your own mental health struggles into the equation (I actually got through College algebra and trig with A’s. How in the name of all that’s holy I did it, I’ll never know. 🙄) it can be exhausting.

I think one reason for this is the idea that ‘if they would only get help, they would be OK’. Hmmm. Not true. ‘Getting help’ doesn’t mean your struggles are over. It means you are taking the steps to get as much help as you can in ‘handling’ your struggles. For example, heart disease is the #1 chronic physical condition in the U.S. (The CDC) and although there are ways to slow it’s progression, there is no way to cure it. So yes, meds, exercise, and a healthier diet can all benefit the person, but they are still going to have heart disease with consequences despite the intervention/help they are getting.

By the same token, we don’t expect someone with diabetes to suddenly take a couple shots of insulin and be ‘cured’ to where they need no further treatment; and when you say it like this, you can hear how ridiculous that even sounds. And, if that is the case, why do we think getting on a med or 2 and talking to a counselor a couple times a month is going to make everything better? Hmmm.

Think about this: heart disease and diabetes greatly affect a person’s life, but don’t all mental illnesses do the same? Don’t all of them affect brain function and as a result, lives? One day my sis and I were yacking and we were talking about how hard it is to live with our respective mental illnesses and we both said this: “I wonder what it would feel like to be ‘normal’ for a day or two?’ It was hard for either one of us to imagine since we’ve both been experiencing our issues for decades.

I’m still dealing with my freaking kidney stones (I go to a specialist on Monday who is going to stick a catheter up my urethra to see ‘what’s going on down there’…charmed, I’m sure… 😐) and as a result have some pain periodically through the day, can’t pee without it being bloody (there is no way on God’s green earth I could be a nurse or doc…), can’t eat without feeling like I’m going to throw up for a couple hours after, am tired all of the time, and am so bloaty (ugh…🙄) that I look 5 months pregnant (no, ma…put the phone down…I’ve been through menopause). I was telling Bill this week that I just wanted to feel ‘good’ for a day or 2 since I’ve had this since September. In fact, I kinda forgot what it’s like to pee yellow. 😳

If my ‘stones’ are as cute as this one, I’m going to make a necklace.

But, no one is ‘fed up’ that I have this (well…almost no one…) and they know it’s not my fault (I’m thinking of you saying this right now, Susan 😘). I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing (drinking lots of water, resting when I get tired, etc.) but of course that’s not going to miraculously cure me, is it? It’s obvious something needs to be done and more time has to pass. And, I also know that talking about kidney stones and pee is easier than talking about bipolar, depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. I wonder why that is? Urine is better to talk about than bipolar? “Hi boss…I can’t be there today…I have a kidney infection and stones and am having a really tough time with it.” OR…”Hi boss…I can’t be there today…I have bipolar and am currently cycling through a depression that people are pissed about because they say I should be happy because I’m in love and it’s the holidays without understanding that moods and emotions are 2 different things so I’m being blamed for something I have very very little control over because my brain is fucked up and theirs might be too but if they are experiencing issues it’s different.” Now, which one do you think would be ‘best’ to say? Riiiiigggggghhhhhtttttt. The kidney one.

Look, I know how frustrating it is to see people not get help, or not get better even with help, or being a different person based on the day, or blowing up at you because of their own anxieties, or not being able to function day to day because of their depression, etc. I get it. I get how hard it is to be around those of us who are unpredictable. Who can’t always explain ‘where it hurts.’ Who you can’t really understand. I can’t tell you how many times I heard this in my life: “I just don’t understand you.” Well get in line, baby…because I don’t understand me either.

I know what I have and I know what it makes my brain look like and do, but I still don’t ‘understand’ it. I still don’t get why it’s in my head and how it controls my moods and how it makes me feel, etc. It was like doing my trig theorems…I got ‘how’ to do the steps, I just didn’t understand what the hell it was all for.

Getting help for mental illness isn’t as easy as people think. It took me decades to get the real help I needed and I still struggle everyday. It’s better, but I still have a disease. Sometimes just battling our minds day after day saps our energy to the point we have nothing else to use outside of ourselves. Seeking help is scary: Where do I go that takes my insurance? Where do I find a counselor that specializes in bipolar or eating disorders or depression (just like we often need a specialist for physical issues, we also need the same for mental ones. Counselors are not ‘one size fits all’). What will meds to do me? What if I’m misdiagnosed and any meds prescribed hurt me more than help me? What if the doc feels I’m so depressed I need shock therapy? What if my meds cause side effects that stymie ‘me’ and who I really am? What will my colleagues say if I talk about it? How will my friends handle it? My family?

In some families, friendships, work relationships, people pull away from you when you need them the most…when you admit to what you are fighting. So ‘getting help’ may not be the cure all for relationships that have been affected by a mental illness. In fact, it just might make some people walk away from you: “Glad you finally got help but you should have done it a lot sooner before so many things happened and I gave up on you.” Hmmm: “Glad you finally went in to the cardiologist and found out you have heart disease and are now eating better and exercising. You should have done that earlier, before I got fed up, because I really don’t feel close to you anymore and it makes me angry when you talk about this because you waited too long to go in and I’m really actually questioning if you actually do have ‘heart disease’ since you’ve been pretty much OK up to this point. Why couldn’t you have just started eating better a little earlier in your life? And hey, we all have things wrong with us. Duh.”

So, what DO people with untreated mental illness need? An ear. A safe place. A chance to talk about what they are feeling, thinking, etc. A conversation about why they aren’t seeking help. A promise that when they do seek help, you’ll continue to be there for them. An understanding that so many people hope that whatever is happening to them in their head will just pass…that it’s just a transitory thing. A willingness to say that you’ll go to appointments with them until they are able to do it themselves. A realization that taking a Prozac today isn’t going to make them deliriously happy tomorrow. An awareness that what does work today may not work in a year. And finally, the tenacity to keep being close to the person as they navigate a very scary journey on the road to treatment.

When are we going to start treating mental illnesses as illnesses? When are we going to understand that those of us with them didn’t ask for them…didn’t do anything to cause them…didn’t get them to piss you off? Why can’t we have compassion for all illnesses…diseases? Why do we give up on those who need help the most but are having the hardest time getting it? Hmmmmm…I’m not sure I understand.

Kristi xoxo

“…they did the monster mash…”

So, we just celebrated Halloween and for some reason I started thinking about the creepy people that I’ve had experiences with. 😲

Bill and I were driving back from Indiana and we stopped at a Taco Smell (we’re living large, folks 🙄). After eating our tacos and “power-bowls”, which include black beans which Edward snatched from me and then farted out for 70 miles, we walked Ed around the area so he could pee. There was a guy by the take-out entrance and Bill was walking a bit behind me. The guy yelled: “Hey…your dog is cute!” So, like an idiot I totter over to him and he’s wearing a ‘security uniform’ that fit him horribly: the pants were inches too long, the shirt was too large, etc. Anyhoot, I wanted to give this ‘dog lover’ a chance to pet my Ed but when we got to him, he didn’t reach down to pet him or anything. He just stood there and smiled at me in the creepiest way possible. Then, Bill sauntered into sight and I said I had to go.

The really weird thing was how the guy was parked. His car was not pulled into an actual parking spot, and now that I think about it, he didn’t have any take-out either. He parked so his car was facing the street. I got a vibe from him that made me get goosebumps and Bill felt the same. Eddie didn’t jump on him and just kind of looked at me which is definitely out of his character (he jumps and loves on everyone 🥰). SO…as we were driving away, Bill said this: “That man was going to kidnap you!” Yes. I know what you’re thinking…”why in the name of all that’s holy in this world would someone want to kidnap me?” Answer: because I was there! Listen peeps…it gave me chills.

My poor dad always had to sit by me on our family vacations!

Once, when I was flying home from Texas after visiting O in Fort Worth, a guy was seated next to me and he was wearing a trench coat (seriously!), clompy shoes, and he had an old style iPod (it was a real antique 😐). The flight was getting bumpy and as my family can attest too, I get motion sick very easily 🤢 . I literally (I hate it when people use that word but why the hell not?) can’t ride in a backseat of a car because I’ll barf, and even watching the ticker tape words under newscasts makes me get the dry heaves. Charmed, I’m sure.

Anyhoot, I told the guy this: “I’m probably going to puke and I’m really sorry if I do and I’ll aim the puke bag and my head away from you.” He said: “That’s OK and I’m glad you are talking to me because you remind me of my counselor.” Oh. Ok. I said: “Hmmm. So, were you on vacation in Texas?” (All the while I have that bitter, icky taste in my mouth…I’m sure I smelled yummy… 🙄). He said: “No…I was just released from the hospital.” Me: “Oh no! I hope you’re OK! What hospital?” And he said (get ready for it…): “The North Texas State Hospital.”

So, to make a long story even longer and more boring, we yacked all the way home and I didn’t barf at all (I was kind of proud of this 🤨). When we exited the plane, I noticed that the man sitting across the aisle from us led him out and there were cops by the baggage claim. After I got home, I looked up the hospital and it’s for the criminally insane. No joke. The hospital has 400 of the WORST criminal offenders in Texas who are…well…insane. Lord knows why he was in there but he seemed nice. However, I was glad I didn’t puke on a potential serial killer, upset him, and then have him come after me like Michael Myers in Halloween. Just sayin’. 🎃

I was also freaked out in an Uber while in Texas too. I used them all the time to go places and on this day, I was going to my son’s Verizon store to see him (actually, to bug him 😛). When the Uber pulled up, I got in the front because the back was full of stuff and there wasn’t room. To be honest, I didn’t even think about this. After about a minute, the guy turned to me and said I was beautiful. Well, right away I knew he had a screw loose. He kept talking about how lucky my hubby was (apparently not…🙄) and how he wasn’t married. Anyhoot, I knew the way to O’s store like the back of my hand (which I actually don’t study much since it now has age spots and looks like my grandma’s hands did 😕) and before we got to his exit, the driver took another one and we started driving in the country! I am hear to tell you that the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up (the only other time this has ever happened was when O was bullied in the 2nd grade and believe me, I wanted to bully the little brat back badly 😬). My phone was in my backpack purse which I was holding and I started to text when the man said: “I want to show you Texas.” I told him I had seen it with my son who was waiting for me and that I just received a text from him (I hadn’t…O wouldn’t realize I was missing until 2023 🙄) saying he was tracking me and wanted to make sure I was OK. Then he said this: “Will you get drinks with me tonight?” I said I sure would (not), just to appease him.

When we got to the store 20 minutes late, he gave me his card and come to find out, he was a State Farm Insurance agent (I use Geico and love love love them 🦎). I told him I’d call him in a bit to make plans, grabbed my pack, and boogied out of the car. When I got into the store, I was crying and shaking and the Verizon sweeties ran to me. I told them what happened and we called the police and Uber. And here’s the thing…the entire time this was happening, I was thinking about what the Dateline special about me would be like: “Kristi, a professor from IL, vanished while on her way to eat hamburgers with her son in Texas. Police are assuming she’s dead!” SERIOUSLY! That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking and I truly believe, if I hadn’t played along a bit and said O tracks me (he doesn’t 😐), I would have been fertilizer for the fields. Yikes.

And creepy things actually started happening as early as 5th grade. There was a guy in the other 5th grade class and he was a HORRIBLE bully who loved to pick on me. Glasses, skinny, zits, braces, mousy hair, etc. gave him a lot of ammo. One day, the recess bell rang and I was running down the hill towards the playground and he grabbed me and pulled me behind a tree (you can’t make this shit up…trust me… 😲) and put his hands around my neck and squeezed until my eyes were watering and I was red. He finally let go when he heard the teacher yelling for us and I was petrified. I never told because I was so so scared he’d hurt me worse but I steered clear of him the best I could.

Now, the follow-up: While living in Houston where he stayed for a couple of years before moving back ‘home, he actually stabbed to death a 66 year old woman (when he was 18) who was owner of the apartment complex he lived in. The case became cold until 2011 when DNA technology could pinpoint him. In the meantime, he was a registered sex offender who raped a 17 year old girl. When all of this came to light, I got chills…his bullying was just the tip of the iceberg!

So, because of all of this along with me being fascinated with the study of psychopaths, I study serial killers and teach all about them in some of my classes. Did you know that the FBI says there are over 2,000 ACTIVE serial killers in the U.S.? Isn’t that scary? And I know from studying so many of them that they look like ‘regular’ people (for the most part). Take Dennis Radar…president of his Lutheran congregation in Wichita, KS and he was the BTK killer his entire adult life. Who would have thought this husband, dad, church going ‘Christian’ would be a killer? Hmmm.

When you think about it, it makes you wonder how many psychopaths you’ve been close too. There are approximately 1,150,000 male psychopaths in the U.S. and about 16% of all male prisoners are psychopaths. Eeeks! And yes, women can be psychopaths too, but are a bit more rare. Also, female psychopaths tend to be more covert…verbally aggressive, sexually manipulative, etc. They are a ‘different breed’ so to speak.

So, I guess the moral of this post is that Halloween isn’t the only time monsters are out and about…these people (about 1-3% of the population) are around us everyday. And, like I tell my students all the time, listen to your instinct. If someone is making you feel uneasy or goosebumpy or the hair on your neck is at attention…go. When we are talking about ‘bad’ things in some of our classes, I make my sweeties repeat this to me ad nauseum after I ask this question: “What does Professor K say?” TRUST YOUR GUT! 🤨

Kristi xoxo

P.S. Ma, are you glad I didn’t say fuck today? 😁

“Is there a letter in your bag for me?” ~ Please Mister Postman

Dear 15 year old Kristi,

Howdy! Here I am in the future wanting to tell you a few things about what your life is going to be about and to give you info I think might be important to you. And please don’t roll your eyes…again…you will be 53 someday. I guarantee it.

Anyhoot, some easy stuff first: quit picking at your zits because it only makes them worse (you aren’t going to believe this, but in 2020 there is actually a show on Pimple Popping…it’s great!), use sunscreen every single day, don’t use Sun-In on your hair before your senior photos because your hair will be orange, you can shave up higher than your knees and not be a hooker (like Linda Belcher says…you’re going to love her 😏), and for the love of all that’s holy…do your freaking homework (you are going to be a college professor someday…can you believe it?).

So far, pretty easy. Right? Hmmm.

Look, when you are 16 you are going to be struggling with an eating disorder. In fact, it’s starting right now. Ma is really going to start worrying in about a year and will be sending you to the ‘best’ psychologist in Decatur. He’s a shit. Tell ma, respectfully, you want to see someone else…this is really important to do so work hard convincing her. You see, he’s going to hurt you if you don’t…in fact, he’s going to sexually abuse you. At first you won’t really understand what’s happening until you are so dependent on him you won’t be able to break free easily. So, find someone else and work as hard as you can with them. K?

Guess what? By 53, you are going to have had 3 hubbies (🙄) and yes, you will marry them all no matter what I say because you certainly didn’t listen to ma and she’s actually a lot brighter than me. Anyhoot, hubby 1 is who you’ll meet in college. And no, you can’t live on love. And yes, landlords like to be paid. ‘Nuff said on that one.

Hubby 2 is going to change your life because that’s who you have a son with! Right now, our son is 27 and he’s so amazing. He’s smart and funny and talented and your life is so wonderful because he’s a part of it. In fact, you won’t be able to imagine your life any other way. You and hubby 2 are going to be married for 13 happy years, and believe it or not, he’s a guy you are in high school with right now…but I’m going to keep you in suspense 🤨. But here’s the thing, around your 13th anniversary you guys are going to experience a lot of conflict and I wish my suggestion for you would be to try harder to make things work. But I believe the past builds on the future and that at 53 (yes, you get wrinkles and still get zits…God has a sense of humor 🙄) I’m where I’m supposed to be. Just be sure to cherish every year you do have together and by the way, read The Art of Loving by Fromm. It’s not as exciting as Judy Blume but the info is something you can use. 🤓

Hubby 3 is a wild one. Like, wild. You won’t believe this, but you’re going to marry an outlaw biker. Yep. Little prissy you! It’s not going to be easy in the beginning. He’s a troubled man who is going to push you away again and again and test you a million times in the first 2 years. Stick it out (and no, I’m not talking about physical abuse). He loves you so much and needs you so much. He’s going to realize this and become such a softer, sweeter, open guy who you laugh harder with than you’ve ever laughed before. He’s going to be the first man you’ve ever been with that you won’t have to ask “Do you love me?” because baby, you’re going to know it.

Then we come to the relationship after this divorce. Sweetie…listen to me now. Don’t go out with J. Don’t do it. He’s handsome and smart and loving and yummy right now, but it’s not who he really is. He’s a very troubled, sick man and no matter what you do, you are going to be hurt badly. Very badly. In fact, you’ll carry actual scars with you for the rest of your life. Yes, you helped hubby 3 but J is different. He’s mentally ill and can’t be ‘fixed’. In fact, he doesn’t want to be helped by you at all and what ends up happening is just a shit-ton of hurt heaped on you again and again. But, please do this for me: pray for his kids. OK?

And that takes me to something really important. Honey, you are mentally ill too. Yes, you are beginning an eating disorder right now but you are also bipolar. Let that sink in for a bit. Bipolar. I guess you are still hearing it referred to as manic depression, but it’s a serious one. You know how you feel like you don’t fit in? How you have all that crap going on in your head all the time? How you feel like you can conquer the world at times and then barely be able to face it at others? You know how you have always questioned your existence and wonder why you have to keep living your life? Well…that’s your fucked up brain talking (sorry, ma. Even at 53 she doesn’t like me to cuss…go figure. 😐) You are going to pretend and act and imitate others and hide what you are feeling so well you aren’t even going to see it yourself at times. But you need to see it! This is something that you need help with and the sooner the better. Trust me, it will save you from so much pain in the long run. Go tell ma NOW. I’ll wait. And don’t grab chips on your way back…the oil is bad for those zits. (And for fuck sakes, quit messing with them…I’ve told you once already and I’m not going to say it again. 🙄)

So here’s what happens if you don’t get help for your pesky bipolar: you are going to eventually experience a break down when you’re 51. You’re going to attempt suicide. You are going to cut yourself. You are going to lose a lot of friends. You are going to wish you could just get so far down the tunnel you’re in that you can’t see any light anymore and are basically empty to where you won’t be able to feel anything. Yes, you obviously survive this. No, I don’t want to see you go through this because I love ya. Sheesh.

And no matter what you say, I know you don’t love yourself now. In fact, a lot of high schoolers don’t regardless of how ‘popular’ they are (and guess what? High school never ends. Seriously. It’s just the same crap over and over again.) Look, I’m going to let you in on a secret: no one is looking at you. No one gives a shit about what you look like or weigh or wear as much as you do. Don’t believe me? Ask someone tomorrow at school what clothes you were wearing a month ago and they’ll be dumbfounded. No one remembers day to day…except you. Listen here girlie, when it gets right down to it, you are all you have in this world. You come in it with your own little soul and you’ll exit it with your own little soul, and no matter how many people love you, you are ultimately responsible for you. And honey, you need to learn to love yourself…take care of yourself…believe in yourself. OK? And, just a tip, but that blue eye shadow isn’t doing a damn thing for you. Just sayin’. 😳

OMG (that’s a saying we used in 2020…look it up, toots), you are going to love love love being a professor. LOVE IT! See, you won’t be able to have but 1 kid and your students are going to be your extended family. So many wonderful people will pass through your classroom doors and every single one of them has something special and unique about them that will teach you something…give you something…change you in some way. I know you are going to hate working at Hardees’ and Claire’s in high school/college, but it’s totally worth it to become a freaking professor. (By the way: always start some fries at Hardee’s 20 minutes before closing so you can chomp on them while mopping the floor. Trust me on this and don’t worry about zits. Free fresh fries are worth it. 😁)

Now, here’s some bad news: you know how ma is seeing that son of a bitch? Well, right now he’s not so bad. But, after they get married he’s going to become very violent and you are going to see ma hurt so many times that you’ll lose count. Sissy and you will try to help her the best you can and try as hard as you can to get her away as soon as possible. But, she’s not going to listen to you guys…she’s scared and in denial and at a loss as to how she got in the situation in the first place. Since you and T won’t be able to ‘save her’ until she asks to be saved, just love her and talk to her and tell her how you are always there for her. It’s going to kill you to see her black and blue. But never turn your back on her. She needs you.

And Kristi (I know…I hate our name too 😐), never ever lose faith in God. People are going to tell you how stupid you are to believe in him (even though they believe a ‘Big Bang’ that came out of nowhere caused all of the universe to be created…my point is they are both faith based to a degree) and there are going to be times where you think God has turned his back on you. God never turns his back. He’s always with you. Always loves you. Always feels for you. Thank him every single day for all the blessings you have because girlie, you have a lot of them.

Finally, a guy from high school (another secret I’m going to keep 😀) is going to message you in September of 2020. ANSWER HIM! He’s awesome and will make you feel more loved than you’ve ever felt in your life. And his voice? Sexy as hell. 😉 I know I’ve been to this rodeo more than once (shutty the mouthy 🤠) and can tell you this: he’s your last. OK?

Now, I could have told you something completely different in this letter: who not to marry…who to go out with…etc. but here’s the thing: except for me wanting to protect you from abuse, the people and decisions and behavior in your life are making you what you are today. Everyone in your life has played a role to where you are now, and I believe you are where you should be. When people ask you to listen to them, you do. When they talk about being divorced or mentally ill or feeling like they don’t want to live anymore, you are going to be able to say: “I understand.” You are going to be a hugger. A smiler. You are going to appreciate the people in your life so much and know what a gift each and everyone is. This past is making you into what you are today…and this is a pretty darn good place to be right now.

Look toots, I’m proud of you and want you to be proud of yourself now too. Sing more. Dance more. Put yourself out there more. Try more things. Open up more. Ask for more help. Give more time to family and friends. Say thank you more. Say hello more. Look up at the sky more. Cuddle with your son more. Get as many puppies as you want…carpet can be replaced. Don’t worry about wearing purple all of the time. Plant more flowers. Pick up more trash. And for fuck sakes (not even going to apologize for this one…I’m a rebel), eat dessert…first if you want.

And finally…just one more thing: for piss sakes, don’t go to prom your freshman year with that boob from St. T. But if you do, don’t buy the cream colored dress. It sucks balls. Instead, go for the red one! It rocks.

Kristi xoxo

P.S. I know I shouldn’t do this, but what the hell: In 2004 a company called ‘Google’ is going to go public. Buy some stock. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, BUY SOME STOCK. K? 😉