Find Meaning in Life’s Challenges


I’ve been putting off reading Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address to the 2016 UC Berkeley grads – knowing it would bring out the feels. I read it this morning to help fire up some inspiration – sure enough, it hit me just like I expected…

The entire speech is poignant, funny and meaningful, but here’s what resonated with me the most…

“when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.”

‘Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night.  This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight…”

‘Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.’

Scotty’s cancer battle profoundly changed me. And, while I do at times find myself getting dragged under by the minutiae of life, I try my hardest to focus on being thankful and choosing joy. It’s about perspective – my life could be a lot worse as I found out. I choose to be thankful and look for the meaning and joy in every day. It sounds schmultzy, but it’s true. Life is way too short to hold onto anger, be resentful, let fear control you or hang out with toxic people.

Thank you goes out to Ms. Sandberg for sharing her very personal, intimate experience with the world. By sharing it, she is helping others find meaning in their challenges. I’m glad I finally read it – it was definitely worth it.



The Tarts Take Manhattan


I have been so busy that I haven’t had a ton of time to update, which is good and bad. I often find posting in here a cathartic experience and one that forces me to stop for a few moments during the week and think – about what has caught my attention during the week, what is spinning around in my head – and document it for lack of a better word. So, it’s been well over a week with no entry – and I feel the guilt creeping up.

NY Tartan Week 2016

Rumor has it that I do have some Scottish genes from my fraternal grandmother, but in all honesty, no one would ever mistake me for being Scottish. That didn’t stop me and 10 of my Outlander friends from traveling to the Big Apple to celebrate the yearly New York Tartan Week yearly event, including marching in the parade down 6th Ave.  We had been planning this girls trip (dubbed Tartcon 2016) for more than six months as a way to get together beyond online. We had no idea that the leading actor Sam Heughan would be the Grand Marshall of the parade and cause thousands of other Outlander fans to drop everything and head to NYC too.

Here’s a photo gallery of Sam, leading the parade in all his handsome, dreamy glory – kilt and all.

AOL Build Event: OutlanderSeeing the Outlander Stars

As part of Tartcon, we were able to see the OL cast at the Apple store in SoHo (although I was too short to really see anything).  The following day, Scotty was able to pull a few strings and get two front row seats reserved for me and my friend Mandy to watch Outlander Cast: AOL Build Interview.  I was able to fan-girl for a few short minutes and then it was over. Mr Heughan did make eye contact briefly (I quickly got flustered and looked away) and shook my hand (which was soft but a bit on the cool side). Then – it was over. I never saw Mr Heughan in person again. Sigh…

New York Tartan Day Parade

On Sunday, we were able to march in the parade as part of the Outlanders United group. Normally this would be fun, but it was cold and rainy. Most of the marchers were not prepared for the weather, including me. I did have a hat and jacket on but boy, my hands were frozen by the end. Not to mention, something had upset my stomach big time so I was struggling to finish the parade, so I could run off to find the nearest restroom (TMI).

Tartan Day Parade 2016

There is something really endearing about the parade tradition. People gathering together, for a common cause/theme. It’s a very old fashioned tradition and even though it was rainy and cold, the energy surrounding the event was palpable. There were doggies wearing special tartan sweaters, bag pipes, traditional Scottish gear, lots of kilts and of course WHISKEY!

After the parade, was the after party at Papillion Bistro. I wasn’t feeling 100% and I looked like a drowned rat – so I wasn’t in the most festive, partying mood. Despite that, I made the best of it and spent the next few hours with some lovely, amazing friends and some serious Scottish lovers drinking lots and lots of water. (Well – I was drinking the water anyway).

After the party, we walked over to the Director’s Guild to watch a special screening of Episode 1 of the Second season of Outlander. Well, that was the plan anyway. One of my friends, Kathy and I were so cold and over it all, we decided to pre-order pizza (Johns Pizza) and leave the screening early to pick it up and enjoy some carbs, water and down time in our hotel room.  Think about the constant activity and noise I was being barraged with the past few days – I needed some down time. Living in the suburbs is not good training for being in a big city. You tend to forgot how loud and always on the go it is. It’s not a bad thing, just not something I am used to.

There were a ton of other activities and moments I shared with my amazing group of friends this weekend. Imagine 11 of us (some just meeting in person for the first time), all hanging out for 4 days together. There was fun, good food, Whiskey, great memories and a lot of support. There were also a lot of strong personalities in one group, but we all got along amazingly well.  This was the sort of trip we needed -getting away from our lives for a few days. Our wonderful lives that are full of husbands, kids, jobs, real life responsibility and enjoyed each other’s company with love, laughter and support. Each of the women on the trip has a story and personal experiences. After this weekend, I think we all found something magical and powerful in one another and combined.  And after it was all said and done, we ended up adding two new Tarts to the group as well.


The Magic You Were Born With


PinkI was trying to figure out what really bothered me about the latest Kim Kardashian instagram image.  It’s her body, so what do I care if she wants to show it to the world. But yet, it still bothered me. Then I read something posted by Pink today on Twitter that captured what I was feeling:

“Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of attention. In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention, you will feel something called pride and self respect.” -Pink

It is absolutely her right to show her body off and be proud. I just can’t help but think about what happens when her ‘looks’ stop getting her attention. What happens then? More plastic surgery, treatments, perfect lighting to keep up the facade? I would imagine that when your fame and career all stem from how you look – you get wrapped up and it consumes you.

Pink QuoteWhen I saw her IG posts, I didn’t stop and say oh, i wish I was just like her. Quite the opposite actually, It bothered me. It felt cheap, unnecessary and an over the top cry for attention.  It also angered me – my teen daughter sees images like that all over the place now and in her still forming mind, she begins to think that’s worthy of attention and worthy of emulation.

It makes parenting that much harder…

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Happy Birthday to Me!


IMG_2981Last week was my birthday. It was an awesome day that started off with a good 530A workout. I try to always exercise on the big day as a way to thank my body for hanging in there. Of course, I took a nap when I got home because waking up before 5a is just not OK. I woke up to a wonderful homemade breakfast. HB made me a feast fit for the health conscious queen that I am, including gluten free toast with an owl design made out of fruit. It was awesome and yummy.

In the evening, my friend Mandy invited me to go into DC and check out a panel discussing Behind the Scenes of the Walking Dead. And yes, Andrew Lincoln - The Walking DeadAndrew Lincoln was there!  It was really awesome to hear more about how the show is made —Greg Nicotero, executive producer, director, and special effects makeup supervisor talked about the process to create the zombies. It was clear listening to him how much he was born to do what he does. It fascinates me to listen to people who from an early age found something they are passionate about and get to do that thing every day as a career.

The next evening, Scotty and I enjoyed a steak dinner at DC Prime. It was so amazingly delicious and we came home to cut into my yearly Carvel Birthday cake with the kiddos.


Happy Birthday

It was a lovely weekend that ended with a super bowl party over at a friends house with friends that have been in my life for over 20 years.  Coincidentally, this past weekend I came across this article: ‘I have lived over half of my life’ : Writer Miranda Sawyer on the quiet desperation of a midlife crisis.  I had never thought about my age in this way, but thanks to this writer, I have spent more time than I care to admit thinking about it.  It’s scary in some ways – to think that half of my life has been lived but on the other hand, I have had a ton of great experiences and lessons and it has led me to the life I lead now – which is pretty damn good. (see birthday weekend as an example.) She makes some good observations that I can certainly relate to although not necessarily because I agree or it’s been my own personal experience.

It also speaks to something that has been on my mind – quite a few of my friends are splitting up. They are separating, divorcing, up and moving across the country – doing some reflecting on where they are in their lives and deciding it’s not where they want to be anymore. For some, it was a long time coming and best for everyone involved. For others, it hit them like a sucker punch. They were not ready for the life shock that hit them – and are now trying to recover. There is something about hitting middle age. We are not the same people that we were in our twenties (at least I hope we are not), and the things that some people chose during their younger years are not the right things for who they are now.  There is no right/wrong about it – even though I know it happens, it still causes a bit of a pit in my stomach.

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David Bowie: The Fabric of My Youth


David Bowie - RIP Even though David Bowie was as far removed from my real life as possible, waking up to the news of his death from cancer caused my heart to sink. I wouldn’t even say I was a huge fan of his music other than an appreciation of his talent and art –  but to me, he represented the freedom to be different, to reinvent yourself any time, and how to live life on your own terms.  He was a part of the fabric of my youth– the 80’s music scene. Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran – huge musical influencers during the eighties.

Why do deaths of icons hit people so hard?

I think it’s a reminder of the passing of time and the realization that we are getting older, even though it feels like yesterday. Cancer hits everyone. He was 69 years old: way too young to die no matter how. But cancer doesn’t discriminate. You can be famous, rich, kind, amazing or poor and anonymous. Cancer doesn’t care.

Bowie was an artist – writer, creative genius, actor, musician. I love that he was also able to see the humor in his legacy:

He just released his final album last week – and like his musician friend Freddie Mercury, his final video was a parting gift and a goodbye on his own terms.

David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale : The producer of Blackstar confirms David Bowie had planned his poignant final message, and videos and lyrics show how he approached his death

Move Out Of Your Comfort Zone in 2016


Here we are in December, weeks away from the New Year and the beginning of winter. Colder weather, darker days, a lot of stress for some trying to survive the holiday season.

Move out of your comfort zoneFor me, it can be the perfect recipe for losing motivation and momentum – if you let it.  I used to think that this time of year and into early January, when all the gyms are full and people start creating New Year’s resolutions, was the time for renewed inspiration. I find myself starting to feel the pull of the warm bed in the early morning and find myself staring at the clock during some of my workouts wondering how much longer I have until it’s done.

It’s a good thing to recognize because as someone who loves working out – the feeling of a good sweat and the feeling of strength that comes with a great workout. There’s nothing like it, I can’t imagine drifting away from this lifestyle – but it becomes more chore-like if I don’t continue to challenge myself by trying new things or switching things up.

So – for those who are active on the regular and reliably focused on leading a healthy lifestyle – I challenge you to switch things up in the upcoming year. If you find something you love already – great – keep it up but also try a few new things to spice things up. Try a new class – ZUMBA anyone??  Try weight lifting, try Barre. Get outside of your comfort zone — your body and mind will actually benefit from it!

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Times Are Changing: A Bond Woman


007 SpectreMy entire family went and saw the new James Bond pic, Spectre over the weekend.  I will be the first one to admit that the entire Bond genre does not embrace the idea of positive female role models.  It doesn’t scream feminism by any stretch of the word. However, like anything, it is fantasy fiction and for me, I am able to get lost in the mindless action without being offended. I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the Bond Girls was actually a Bond Woman who was sexy, hot and desirable.  Monica Belucci, who at age 51, became the oldest Bond Girl in the history of the series with her role in Spectre. She’s a gorgeous woman regardless of her age, but the fact that Bond romanced her was a different twist we had not seen before.

Monica Belucci - Getty ImagesDaniel Craig who plays Bond is in his late 40s and no one bats an eye when his character romances 20/30 year olds. It became very clear to me over the weekend that it’s a pervasive cultural feeling, even in the younger generation. During the Monica and Daniel love scene, my 11 year old son leans over to me and says “she’s old, Mom.”  That comment stopped. me. in. my. tracks. Here’s my son, whose mother has a career, is independent, strong, and liberal, felt the need to not only notice, but remark about the age of the female during the scene. It didn’t even occur to him that Daniel and Monica are pretty close in age and their romantic exchange is a more likely occurrence in real life.

We talked about it the next day – I mentioned that I was surprised by his remark and wondered why he didn’t mention how old Daniel Craig looked. He shrugged and said, well everyone knows he was old. He added that he thought she was beautiful but she was old.

My son didn’t make the remark with bad intentions. I think he was remarking about something that struck him as different because he rarely sees an older sexy woman being romanced in the media.

And maybe, if it becomes more and more common it won’t need to be something to comment on…

Related: Monica Bellucci: At 51, I’m a ‘Bond woman’ not ‘Bond girl’


New York Comic Con 2015: Dressing Up Like a Boss


I have so much to share but with my new job keeping me beyond busy, so little time to share it…

Here are some of the amazing pictures taken by Scotty at this past weekend’s New York Comic Con….


New York Comic Con 2015

Posted by Scott Hoaglund on Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 New York Comic Con

What Were You Born To Do?



The past week, I had the wonderful fortune of being in the presence of two of the few people out there who were born to do what they are doing.  You know those people who from a young age seem to be destined for their purpose. It’s as natural as breathing to them..

Last Tues, I took HB to go see the amazing Ed Sheeran at Verizon Center.  It was just him on stage – with a looping machine. He recorded his own loops while playing and then played over them. He is a true artist. His voice was so crisp and pure. I thought he sounded better live than on his records. His solo show lasted over two hours – and there was not a moment where the sold out audience was not entertained, included and captured.  He was born to write and sing songs – no question.  To drive home that point, at the beginning of his show, he played videos on the big screen that captured the blooming of his talent throughout his young life, including when he was probably in kindergarten.

Yesterday, I was in awe and inspired as I sat with Diana Gabaldon, author of the best-selling series, Outlander at a small, invitation only lunch hosted by the non-profit, Fall for the Book. Ms. Gabaldon was in town to receive the Mason Award at George Mason in Fairfax.  For those that don’t know, I love the book and TV series Outlander. To me, Outlander is an escape novel, where you get truly lost in the story and want to reread it over and over again because don’t want the the journey it takes you on to end.

What became clear to me within the first few minutes of our lunch was that Diana was born to write and create these fantastic stories that capture people’s heart. She has been writing since she was in grade school, doesn’t use notes to keep track of her characters, doesn’t create drafts and does all the research herself to ensure she accurately capture the time period of her novels.  She began writing Outlander for herself –no intention of selling it. She didn’t tell anyone she was writing it and just let the characters take her where they needed to go.  Writing is as natural as breathing to her. Listening to her explain how she writes and creates was fascinating.

What am I meant to do?

It appears to me that Ed Sheeran and Diana Gabaldon were born to do what they are doing — it may or may not have not been a clear, easy going journey to get where they are but there is no question in my mind that they were going to get there.  Both have passion and talent that you can feel just being in the same room with them. Not to host a pity party, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what I was born to do.   I suspect there are more people out there like me and I struggle each and every day with that question.  I just know there are bigger things to come for me but how, where, why, who??  

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John Oliver Takes on Internet Misogyny


John Oliver Lately I’ve been reading a lot about gender bias and the treatment of women in general. Maybe it’s because the influencers I follow have been bringing this issue to the forefront or maybe my college minor of Women’s Studies is rearing its head after years of lying dormant. Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting, relevant, shocking and downright disturbing topic that needs attention and change.

Yesterday, I watched John Oliver (who I think I love) highlight a very serious issue – Internet Misogyny- in a way that not only got the point across loud and clear, but entertained as well.

Just watch…

John Oliver’s Internet Misogyny Rant is Satisfying As Hell

How scary is it that there are very few laws to protect against online harassment and revenge porn? And even scarier to realize that those hired to protect us are not prepared when it comes to what happens on the Internet.

Let’s Talk About Women Gamers

During the video, Oliver briefly mentions the harassment female gamers are subjected to on an ongoing basis. According to Emily Matthew over on the Pricecharting blog, 63% of women polled in 2012 report being harassed while gaming online. I’m sure that number has only increased…

There has been some heated discussions about the lack of ethics in video game journalism, and the role and treatment of women in the male dominated video game industry.  Can you imagine being in so much fear that you actually have to leave your home because some anonymous gamer threatens you with bodily harm and death and also publishes your home address for all to see?

Throughout most of the discussions, the focus is on the victim and ‘blaming’ her for just being and living her life. Why should the victim be criticized and pressured to change? Where is the outrage at the behavior of these men? Men who have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters.  Yes, of course women need to take basic precautions as a fact of life – we all do. But – being an awful human being is never OK. Lacking integrity and respect for fellow people (male or female) is never OK. Let’s figure out how to address the overall treatment of women as a whole and teach men to stand up for their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters.

We can be the change the in the world –and it starts at home.

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