Tag Archives: Guest Posts

Guest Post: "I Used to Be There" by LiLu of Livit, Luvit

We’re now half way through my Summer Hiatus, and my guest for the mid-mark is another DC blogger, LiLu of Livit, Luvit.

LiLu is this hilarious young potty mouth who for some reason decided that she liked my mommy blog. This of course thrills me to no end since I have great memories of my 20s and love the idea that I’m somehow still “relevant” (just don’t ask me anything about current popular music – I’m too busy listening to my old lady books on tape).

I’ve only been following LiLu for a short time now, but I think that she may have the best Snuggie review I’ve ever read. She is known for her, um…off color stories (see her TMI Thursday link below), but she has also written some very lovely posts about personal identity. Apparently, she decided to honor me with another one of these, even though I told her that she had full creative license since I was feeling reckless (seriously – I was a little scared). Instead of scary beer sodden, stanky leg vlogs, she sent me a little jewel that gives more than a hint of the amazing woman and writer that she is becoming with every day.

Welcome lovely LiLu!

I Used to Be There

Hi, everyone! I’m LiLu, visiting y’all over here from Livit, Luvit.

I was très excited when Kate asked me to take over her spot for a day, for a couple reasons. First of all, Kate and I are fairly new e-buds and I don’t know a lot of you…YET. That is all about to change, because I am totally going to e-stalk all of you! So there’s that to look forward to. Second of all, my perception is that it’s a slightly different crowd over here, and I’m interested to see how you all react to my particular brand of crazy. (See examples here, at the hub of the disgusting and insane TMI Thursday.)

If you’ve ever been over to my place, you’ll know that I’m A) in my mid 20s and B) totally going through my quarter-life crisis. Or, as I put it, doing the splits into Grown-Up World.

You see, I’m in that middle, limbo-y place, where I am so definitely not a college student anymore (and sure don’t want to be one), but I don’t yet feel like an ADULT. I still drink, but I go to bed early. I live with my (wonderful!) boyfriend, but the next step is still a few years away, and we’re both glad about it. My friends are just starting to get engaged and married (and I’m just starting to get used to it), but the idea of a child scares the ever-living CRAP outta me. Last time I visited my college girlfriends in NC, I was shocked when I realized we were sitting around a dinner table in a house that my friend owned, with a meal we’d prepared on the table… yanno, all civilized-like. It is, for lack of a better word, very weird.

But if I’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that “It Will Happen To You.” Everything I thought I would never feel or want or imagine, is slowly, piece by piece, happening to me. And then I look to a year ago, and think, “Oh, I was so silly then, thinking I’d never want to be in a relationship/have a real job/get married someday!”

I was out with a 22 year old last week. Now she’s a good egg and not at all immature, but she is still, well, 22. At one point, I looked across the table and thought, “I remember that being me, being the youngest at the table and feeling good about it when people said, ‘Oh, you’re a baby.” I used to be there.

And, soon, I know I’ll be 28, more secure and comfortable (financially AND emotionally, I hope), looking at the 25 year olds and thinking the same thing; I used to be there.

One day I’ll be engaged, watching the single girls wanting to find their someone; the people in relationships that don’t yet have an end to their story. Will I feel smug, or envious? Either way, I know I’ll think, I used to be there.

Eventually, as far fetched as it still may seem, I will get married. My big day will come to pass, and I will look at the engaged friends eyes and think; I used to be there. I’ll talk to my younger friends and say, Take your time, enjoy being on your own. I used to be there.

And finally, (god forbid!) one day… I might be a mother. I might join the ranks of the fantabulous mommy bloggers, and again look at the 20-somethings drunk out in bars and think; I used to be there.

I suppose the most important question is… when we think that, do we feel regret? Pity? A sense of loss? Or just a healthy dose of nostalgia?

From everything I’ve heard, this ride keeps getting better and better… I really hope they’re right.

Thanks for having me, Kate!

UPDATE: I just noticed that LiLu just happened to get a mention in DC Blogs Noted today! You can link directly to her “notable” post HERE.

Guest Post: Christy Casimiro from A Lil’ Welsh Rarebit

Today’s Summer Hiatus guest post comes from one of my dear IRL friends (Mom – IRL means “in real life”). We met years ago when we worked for the same organization and I have seen her many highs and lows. And let me tell you, those highs are HIGH! Because Christy from A Lil’ Welsh Rarebit is quite possibly the most enthusiastic person I know.

Her laugh is always the loudest and longest, and the one that makes everyone else want to join in. My favorite thing about Christy is that she can make even the most mundane things seem more fun and interesting than you would have ever believed possible. And she somehow manages to do this in a very non-annoying and non-Spirit Bunny kind of way. I attribute this to her quirkiness and individuality. She’s an original – there’s no one else like her.

Except maybe her mom…so when the two of them are together – POW! A little over a year ago when she called to tell me that she was at her mom’s house and had just announced to the family that she was pregnant, my first thought was to wonder how they all survived the explosion that must have resulted. I could just hear the news report:

“Earlier this evening, a quiet suburban neighborhood outside of Washington, DC was hit by an unexplained explosion covering a two block radius. No terrorist activity is suspected as of yet, but rescue workers are racing time to find survivors and identify the source of this mysterious ‘event.’ When questioned about the explosion, local residents all report to have heard a ‘sonic boom,’ accompanied by a flash of light. Many claim to have heard shrieks of joy in the few minutes preceding the explosion. More at 11.”

I could write a whole post on Christy, but instead I’ll just let you read this crazy story.

Welcome Christy!

Pregnant Women Should Never Multitask OR
Did Your Boss Ask You To Spanx Him?
*Christy did not submit a title – so I took the liberty…

When Kate asked me to guest post, I thought about writing about the time she and I found our inebriated selves on a stage in New Orleans singing along with a Zydeco band in front of a few thousand of people…including our bosses…but then I decided that’s her story to tell. Instead, I thought I’d tell you about a most memorable day during my final month of work.

Before I became a SAHM mom last August, I was a proposal writer for a Big Four accounting firm. I worked for the partners of the firm – the guys on top who were trying to woo new business and retain current clients. The majority of my time was spent wordsmithing business documents, but as a member of the marketing team, I was occasionally asked to Be a Team Player! And Work Outside My Job Description! Oh, the joy.

So one random Thursday last summer, I was being a team player, and almost made such a grievous mistake that I thought I might pass out in my cube.

Anyone reading this who has been pregnant knows that it’s not just a myth that pregnant women have some memory problems. And some concentration problems. Or maybe it’s just me? I had both. And I had terribly swollen feet, which I was always complaining about… Consequently, I was not always focused on the exact task at hand.

I was in my third trimester, and one of the partners I worked for — I’ll call him Scott, because that was his name — asked me to order him a certain business book. Scott gave me his home address, and said to have the book delivered the next day, as he and his family were headed to the shore for the weekend and he been advised to read it before Monday…

So, I went to my cube and proceeded to search for this book. As I’m an excellent multi-tasker, my colleague Jill was in my cube chatting with me while I was taking care of this request. Since I’m an amazon.com prime member, that was my obvious first stop. Ta-da, they had the book. Add to cart. We were busy discussing our upcoming weekend plans and I was hardly paying attention to what was on my screen…

Since I’m a prime member/frequent shopper, (and I used to shop online from work all the time- come on – you know you do it too!) my payment information was pre-populated on the screen – all I had to do was add Scott’s name and shipping address to the order.

Ship to: Scott’s home address.

Charge: My credit card. (I’d submit for reimbursement, of course)

Submit order:

WAIT! Screams Jill. Literally. Screams.

What? I say.



SPANX: Power Mama® Power Panties


Prenatal Belly-Dancing DVD

I had totally forgotten that I hadn’t yet purchased those saved items in my cart!

I began sweating profusely and thought I was going to pass out. I felt like I was blushing furiously, but Jill said I went pale as a ghost.

Jill, to my cube mate: Quick, get the pregnant woman some water.

Calm down Christy – we caught it — he’s not getting your Mama Spanx Power Panties or your pregnancy belly dancing video.

Me: Shhh…

Heads all around me: What?!

Me: Nothing, never mind, shhhh….

I quickly deleted the items from my cart, completed the order for Scott, and the disaster was averted. Phew. Moral to the story – NEVER use your personal amazon account at work!

Guest Post: "Making Room" by Sal from Almost Pretty

In case you missed my announcement on Friday, I’m taking a break from blogging this week. It was a last minute decision, but luckily I found a few friends who could mind the shop while I was in my Happy Place.

My first guest is Sal from Almost Pretty. She writes a fantastic blog about style and self image, and also contributes features to well known style blogs such as Joanna Goddard’s Smitten. Her posts range from practical wardrobe advice to battling poor body image. I think of Sal as a stylist for regular girls. She features options that most readers (as opposed to Paris Hilton) can afford and actually wear in everyday life (as opposed to what Paris wears to the clubs). She doesn’t think you have to be stick thin to look fabulous – and I agree. Isn’t she cute?

FYI: She MADE that necklace out of antique brooches! I will be wearing it on my vacation in my head.

Welcome Sal!


It’s nearly April and only just getting warm enough for me to transition over to the spring duds. My house is smallish and my closet minuscule, so off-season clothing lives in the basement when not in use. I’ve just spent the last few hours hauling sweaters and hoodies and heavy wool skirts downstairs, and loading the tees and tanks and slinky silk skirts into the closet upstairs. So I’m schvitzing a little. Just FYI.

This seasonal shift presents a fabulous opportunity to purge my wardrobe – an opportunity I inevitably take. Due to the aforementioned scarcity of closet space, I need to keep a careful count of garments or things get aggravatingly overcrowded. And while it’s fun to occasionally stumble upon a long-forgotten and well-hidden gem in my own closet, I vastly prefer being able to SEE everything in the morning while scrambling to assemble an ensemble that says “stylish professional” instead of “colorblind homeless person. “Seasonal purging keeps my wardrobe under some semblance of control, and, as a self-confessed organizational fiend, I rather enjoy the process of sorting wheat from chaff. It feels good to finally rid myself of those pumpkin orange corduroy pants that didn’t fit properly the day I bought them, and that dingy ivory fine gauge sweater with the freaky-deaky collar. Dangit, girls, it feels downright liberating!

When I purge, I toss several categories of clothing into the giveaway pile:

1. Anything that hasn’t been worn for more than two years. If I’ve passed it over for 24 full months, why on earth would it suddenly acquire irresistible appeal?

2. Anything damaged irreparably: As I am capable of minor mending, and my tailor is capable of major mending, this generally means stained or badly torn. Klutziness takes its toll on my wardrobe with alarming regularity, I tell ya.

3. Anything that doesn’t fit: As someone whose weight fluctuates about as frequently as the flippin’ temperature, I make a practice of trying on any item that gave me even a single wearing’s trouble in the past .If it squeezes or bags, it leaves.

Although parting with brand new garments that have gone two years unworn pains my pocketbook, and bidding farewell to snagged or stained silk skirts makes me sigh, numero tres up there is the most emotionally taxing. You feel me, don’t you? Popping on a pair of pants that once fit, only to find that your body has shifted its configuration YET AGAIN can be surprising and disheartening.

But getting rid of clothes that don’t fit the body you have today allows you to make room. In addition to preventing your closet racks from bowing under the weight of their heavy load, casting off ill-fitting garments can be an important step to accepting your body as it is today, and allowing yourself to adorn it stylishly.

Hanging on to clothes that fit you when you were a different shape both weighs you down and holds you back. These clothes may seem like flimsy bits of cloth when you first hold them up on their hangers for scrutiny and evaluation, but to most women they are much more. Clothes that used to fit are powerful personal symbols: They represent a body that you no longer have, and may never have again. In the course of your closet purge, you drag them out and look at them and heave heavy, loaded sighs. You beat yourself up for the crime of shape change, and sink down into frustration and self-loathing, criticism and negativity. Suddenly, an innocent pair of jeans has become a device of self-inflicted emotional torture.

How about this as an alternative: CHUCK THEM. Jeans that don’t fit the woman you are today are of no use to you! Banish them, and allow only jeans that hug your wonderful curves and make you feel like a sultry screen siren to grace your dresser drawers. Clothes that once fit but no longer do will whisper to you about the past … but you need to live in the present. Purging the ill-fitting can empower you to castoff the deadly nostalgia-judgment mixture that accompanies memories of a previous body shape. Sending these duds packing can be liberating, eye-opening, and comforting: It can help you see yourself clearly, and embrace yourself fully. The today you.

Additionally, ridding yourself of clothing that no longer flatters creates a vacuum: It creates physical room in your closet for properly fitting clothing that will help you feel your best, and it creates emotional room for contemplating your natural assets and accepting them as the gifts that they are. What could be better? An action that essentially FORCES you to shop for new duds, and simultaneously helps you embrace your present-day self.

During this particular purge, I assembled quite the pile of exiles. I chucked a shrunken track jacket and a ripped scarf and a gooftastic black blazer with bizarrely poofy shoulders that transforms me into a deranged goth princess. I also sacrificed a gorgeous pair of khaki pants that made me look like Kate Hepburn a few seasons back. Wide-legged and boxy, with a subtle sheen to the twill, they were favorites once. But they gave me unforgivable camel toe when I tried them on today.

So I had to make room.

My Happy Place

Isn’t this lovely?

This is where I will be (in my head) for the next week. Things are not going well at Big Piece of Cake Headquarters, and I need a vacation. The vacation will only be in my head of course, and I will still have to go to work and deal with the source of my need for escape… But I’m going to invest all of my free mind space in holding my light floral skirt back against the warm Summer breeze and gazing at my new strappy white shoes (I SAID it was Summer in my head – so white shoes are allowed).

Instead of turning off the lights and pulling down my pink shade though, I’ve asked a few friends to guest post in my absence. A couple of moms, a couple of young ladies…all people I love to read. I hope that you will enjoy them as well.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying warm weather and new footwear in the painting above. OR…

I may be here enjoying a late afternoon cocktail and rethinking that zebra head (it seemed like a good idea at the time…). OR…

I may be here with my nose pressed up against the window. Bad moods come and go – but some things never change…

See you in a week!

Are You My Mother?

Remember that virtual dinner party from way back when? (No? Well check the link if you want to know what I’m talking about.) I’m slowly making my way through the list and I have another “virtual guest” visiting The Big Piece of Cake this week.

Anna from An Inch of Gray is my very first blog crush. I happened upon her site months before I started my own blog, and immediately fell in love with her humor and candor. The first post I read was an absolutely beautiful tribute to her mother. I became her first stalker.

Luckily – I didn’t scare Anna away with my enthusiastic commenting, and we’ve actually gotten to know each other in “real life” (as it turns out, we live in the same area).

Thank you Anna for inspiring me to start my own blog and not getting a restraining order once you found out that I live within 10 miles of your house.

Are You My Mother?

I look older than my husband.

Growing up, I was always told I acted older than I was and I liked it. I hovered on the fringe of adult conversation, hung out with grown ups, and, as I reached my teen years, dressed “older.” My best friend and I would wear pencil skirts, high heels, blouses and pearls to high school to project an air of sophistication.

When I lamented the fact that I didn’t look like quite grown-up enough, my mom told me to be careful what I wished for. She said that girls who matured later often still had cute, girlish figures in their 40’s, while those who matured early often flamed out. I didn’t know anyone still used the phrase “girlish figures” anymore, but I did listen. My mother was a buxom homecoming queen and I guess she’d seen her share of pubescent pixies blossom later in life.

The high heels and wool suits followed me to college, however, and when I started teaching high school to kids who were in some cases less than 5 years younger than I was, I was happy to look as mature as possible.

Now I wish I could turn back the clock. My husband, Tom, looks the same as he did in high school. No signs that his thick black hair is going anywhere, or going gray for that matter, while I’ve been covering my roots since age 18.

Getting a little thick around the middle? Not Tom. And his Italian heritage shows nary a sign of wrinkles on his face. And seeing his dad still romping around in short shorts at age 70 with his trim young body (did I just write that??) is like looking into a crystal ball. Tom is not aging. See that wedding picture up there? He hasn’t changed. One. Bit.

And me? Decades of sun-worshipping, and not a few instances of zit-picking have started to reveal my true age. Aversion to exercise and fondness of Girl Scout cookies haven’t helped either. Please don’t think I’m fishing for compliments here. It’s not that I think I look OLD, but I do look my age. My other half just isn’t keeping up his end of the bargain.

I’m just going to hate being one of those couples. I think of friends of friends I met recently. The husband looked so young I thought the wife was his MOTHER. Yikes. We’re not there yet, but the future looms large. Hello? George H.W. and Barbara Bush?

Sure, the former prez was tottering a bit at the recent inauguration ceremonies, but that’s probably because he hurt his leg jumping out of an airplane or something. His face remains tanned and unlined whereas hers has been, ahem, grandmotherly, since the early 70’s. The 1970’s, not her 70’s.

If Tom gets a sports car in his 50’s it won’t even look like a mid-life crisis, but I’m screwed no matter what I do. If as I age I try too hard to look young next to him, I’ll end up a desperate, grasping cougar. But not trying at all seems like just pulling on my comfy pants, crawling under the covers, and throwing in the towel.

Not that that sounds so bad. Could someone pass the Thin Mints?

Amy Turn Sharp says, "Write yr life."

Last summer, I decided to ask everyone that I invited to a virtual dinner party to guest post on my blog. I thought I’d randomly ask the people from that “guest list” to guest post for me – probably once a month. Because I honestly think that everyone should love them as much as I do. So far, we’ve heard from Kacy, Anastasia, and Jozette. If you missed those posts I highly suggest reading them.

This month’s guest is Amy of doobleh-vay fame. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE Amy. She treats every day like a new adventure in her life. She writes a lot about her family and her quest to make each day a creative experience. But at the core of every post is a powerful sense of self. And I think that’s what I love most about her (that and the way that she always writes “yr” instead of “your”). I’m thrilled to introduce her to anyone that isn’t already a fan.

I was reading a blogger that I love yesterday and she was talking about how we should blog authentically. How we should blog for ourselves and stop worrying about what others may think. She wrote about being true and unabashed and unapologetic and I freaking loved it. I feel like I had a click last year where I really stopped thinking so hard about what I was doing with my blog and just did it. I wrote what I wanted and people stayed. Those people that I thought might leave when I talked about the underbelly of my life stayed and even others came by to hang out. It has been a great lesson. I don’t have to box myself in by just talking about art and creativity and short people. I can also talk about sex and binge drinking and my lust for Wellington boots. I can talk about my whole self and make this space what it was really meant to be: mine.

In this click I found my place, my room of my own. I do want readers and connections (I am writing a novel for heaven’s sake. It is one of the reasons I started a daily blog: for practice and networking). I just want the connections and blogosphere interaction to be real and true. I want to love my blog at the end of each year. I need to want to make out with all of my archives and not be upset with myself for writing for others. I need to not worry.

I like how one of my friends calls my blog “more pub than blog”. I am cool with this. I love going to the pub. I feel like it took me a bit, but my blog is really my own blog now. It is named doobleh-vay which is W in French.

That W stood for “whatever” to me and a friend in high school. We would use it like slang.

Someone was a bitch to us? We would shake our heads and say “doobleh-vay”.

We were late somewhere? “doobleh-vay.”

You get it? So anyhoo. I named my damn blog doobleh-vay.

It really was like a gift though right? I should never have boxed myself in because it was really meant to be about whatever.

Just like so long ago in high school the person I thought I was supposed to be was killed by the person I was meant to be anyway. I am just like I was. I am about everything and friends with the diverse. I am the everyman blogger and I am just fine with this (finally.)

Back to my soul sister (at least I think so) Maggie. I also saw in her about me section that she likes Gloria Steinem. She has a photo of her and the wise one.

Once in college Gloria came to speak and when it was time to have the Q & A portion of the lecture I stood up and raised my hand.

I walked to the microphone and said:

“Hello Gloria my name is Amy Turn and I just want some advice. I am graduating soon and I just need some advice. My mom says to ask for it from those you admire.”

I stepped away and she smiled at me and leaned down and said:

“Amy Turn, be a woman that takes no shit!”

That has been many years back but it is really starting to resonate in my adult life again.

So readers. Take no shit this year – not even from yrself.

Just write. Write yr life.

Guest Post from Jozette of Regardez Moi

*Don’t forget to enter my giveaway from Stacy Cakes! Click here for details. Send me an e-mail letting me know that you’ve posted about my December giveaways on your site and I’ll give you a second chance to win!

Remember my idea about asking everyone that I invited to my virtual dinner party to guest post on my blog? Okay stop laughing about the virtual dinner party nerdiness and listen to what I’m saying. Remember that? No? Well – I thought I’d randomly ask the people from that “guest list” to guest post for me – probably once a month. So far, we’ve heard from Kacy and Anastasia, but got derailed in October when Jozette from Regardez Moi postponed. Twice.

Now I think I’ve given her a hard enough time about this, so I’m just going to be happy that she FINALLY got her loosey goosey act together and sent me the damn guest post already.

Seriously though – I do love Jozette. She funny and quirky and not afraid to be honest. She’s had a tough year. One of those years that makes us look back and say, “how did I do that? I should be dead by now.” But she’s so lovely and deserves a great year to make up for it. So I’m hoping that 2009 will be the year that Jozette “got her groove back” (possibly with the hot young guy from work). She deserves it!

Welcome Jozette!

I am not a mother. Well, a motherfudger, maybe, but I have no children to speak of. So why-oh-why did Kate pick me to guest post on her blog? I have no idea. (It’s because I’m awesome.) But I am more than flattered and happy to oblige. Even though I, um, you know. Bailed on her. Twice. Because I was uh. Busy.

The truth is, I really was busy. And also? I was drained. I didn’t have any idea what to write; what could I possibly say that her blog audience would appreciate? And… I’m really bad with deadlines. (I originally type-o’d ‘dreadlines’ which is so apt.) When I know there’s something due, I completely put it off. Even if it’s something that I would normally look forward to doing. I shut down, fold up. Like the cheap extra table you bring down from the attic only at Thanksgiving. I’m the kiddie table covered in a sticky vinyl tablecloth from the 70s.

I tell myself I’m unreliable (which, I can admit, I tend to be.) Not on purpose. I’m just, you know, emotionally unstable. And sometimes just the slightest bit of pressure can render me utterly useless. Straight to the couch in my crusty old sweatpants with a plate of cheesy refried beans. (Note to the single male readers: pipe down, I know how hot you must think I am right now. Try to keep it in your pants, please. This here is a family blog.)

This post is going nowhere really fast.

Oh, I never introduced myself. Hi. I’m Jozette. I’m the flaky non-committal blogger who loves words but sometimes has difficulty putting them together. A 30-year old emotional roller coaster on the verge of divorce. A real keeper.

Now to the meat of the story: Kate commented on my blog not too long ago and her words have stayed with me.

She said:
You were one of my first non-mommy blog readers. You’re one of the people I think about when I’m writing and say, ‘I don’t think every poopy diaper needs to be documented. There’s more to me than just that.'”

And that really touched me, you know? Cause I’m all sentimental and sh*t. And that was really nice.


Were you expecting something deeper – more eloquent than that? Yea. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

I think my point here, although deeply hidden and camouflaged better than um, you know, an army guy wearing camouflage, is that her comment made me think about how mired we become in our daily existence. How our WHOs often get lost in the WHAT of our lives. How important it is not to lose your WHO. (Who shot who in the what now?)

WHO are we really? WHO the filth am I? That’s the question I asked myself when I read her comment. It’s something I try to figure out on a daily basis. It is partially the catalyst for my blogsistential crises numbers one and two.

Caterpillar: Who are YOU?
Alice: This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.
Where was I going with this?


Oh. I am not a mother. But the majority of blogs I read are written by women who are. I delight in their writing and their honesty about not only their children, but about themselves. Who they are as women. Women who lead completely different lives than me; women who live scattered all over the world. Wildly intelligent, strong, hilarious (to the point of involuntary pants-peeing), take your breath away, wonderful women and mothers whom I worship. Whose words I devour every day. Who teach me about the kind of woman, the kind of person, the kind of mother I would like to someday be. (Oh no. Now I’ve gone and ruined my street cred. Let’s just keep this last paragraph between us, okay?)

So, thank you. Thank you for being an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your lives and for allowing me to share mine.

Or something.

Now I feel awkward. Like I just had semi-stranger sex and am having difficulty making eye contact. Like I’m sitting on my hands at the edge of bed, biting my lip. Ummm.

You guys are great.

*Slaps you on the ass*

Now hit the showers.

*Jozette is currently on a blogging hiatus – whatever that means. Hopefully she’ll be back soon! You can do your begging in my comments section or e-mail her directly at regardezmoiblog@gmail.com.

Guest Post from Gwen Papineau, Runner of Marathons

At my last job, I met one of my all time favorite people. Gwen is about ten years younger than me and reminded me so much of my whirlwind of a post college social life. Everyone that meets Gwen falls madly in love with her, and I am no exception.

And now she’s gone and made herself even MORE of a superstar. She lost well over 100 lbs. AND just ran the Marine Corps Marathon. She is a true inspiration – and not just for people who want to lose weight or run a marathon. She reminds me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Part one of her story can be found over at Amy in Ohio. It covers the motivation to lose weight and then to run the marathon. The rest picks up here. I strongly suggest starting with part one since it makes part two even more of a triumph. She jokes about being on the cover of People – but I don’t see why not! If you have any contacts there – tell them about Gwen.

(Enlarge the above photo to see just how far she’s come!)

As I told you before, I have an addictive personality. After experiencing the feeling of crossing that first finish line, I was totally addicted to races. Note I said races. I am not always addicted to running. There are days when it is too cold, too hot, I’m too this too that, too, too, TOO! But there are few things that have made me feel as good as crossing a finish line. I knew the Army Ten Miler was just the beginning. It was my gateway drug. Soon I needed more and bigger races. Suddenly that notion of crossing the finish line at Marine Corps came flooding back. There was no longer the question of how, but only when.

But I was smart about it. Or rather cautious. Strategic maybe. After the Army Ten Miler, I immediately started signing up for more races. I thought about running Marine Corp in 2007, but decided I wanted to get more races under my belt and lose more weight before I took my turn climbing that last .2 up to Iwo Jima. I also envisioned the marathon as my weight loss victory dance. I thought that if I waited until 2008, I would be a svelte 153ish pounds and it would be the crowning achievement in my life changing journey. I would have lost all of my weight and be a marathoning goddess. I would grace the cover of People magazine for one of their weight loss issues. I had grand plans! So I kept building up my distances, ran a couple of half marathons and prepared for the marathon in 2008.

I signed up to train with Team in Training knowing that although I had great success training on my own for previous races, I was going to need a little more support for the big show. I learned at the first meeting that TNT was an amazing program that trained people like me for endurance events while raising money for cause I was personally tied to, leukemia and lymphoma. I was the girl crying in the information meeting. Crying because I knew I was going to run in memory of my grandfather who battled lymphoma, but also because I was going to run for myself and everything that I had battled in my journey.

Sometimes plans change. Don’t worry! You already know that I ran the marathon and I pretty much kick ass at life! BUT, I didn’t end up on the cover of People (yet) and I didn’t run my first marathon at 153-ish pounds. In fact – I gained weight training for the marathon. That really messes with a Weight Watcher’s head! But it’s something that I have accepted and am trying to work off now. I know I can do it! I’ve proved that much to myself by now. It just takes time and dedication.

Training for the marathon has given me even more insight into my weight loss journey and my goals. I might never weigh 153 pounds. And that’s okay! The steps I have taken to make my life better are incredible. It has been a battle to get below 190 and stay there. The way I see it, maybe I will be 175 someday and that will be perfect. I’m so beyond dieting – this is my life. Eating well and running races – that’s what I do, it’s who I am, it’s how I live. Healthy habits and a love for activity are things I want to pass on to my children (someday). In fact, now I tell my boyfriend (fairytale time: princess lost a little weight and met Prince Charming, go ahead, swoon, I’ll wait) that I simply want to be a MILF when I grow up. A hot mom that my kids can be proud of and learn from. I want to be a marathoner mom. What? You didn’t think I was going to let that be my only marathon did you? The cover of People magazine is still out there! (Originally I thought I would take a few years off from the full marathon, but that addiction thing…I need another finish line now! I can’t wait three years for my next fix!) But you know what else I will impart to my kids someday – when I’m a MILF who drives a Range Rover to dance class and soccer practice and Harris Teeter – that even when I was at my heaviest, I LOVED life and WHO I was. I hope to give them all of my self esteem and confidence and ensure that they know how special they are, regardless of how short, tall, skinny, chubby, they may be. The mirror can reflect certain images to you and the scale can spit out some data, but neither will ever tell you how much you are loved for being yourself. I’m so lucky to have had that support from my family, friends and myself.

I’ll never start Weight Watchers over again. There is immense beauty and NO pain in that statement. Just as in my running, I will continue to improve my form, struggle with commitment, vary my intensity and face outside challenges like inclement weather, injuries and cupcakes. I know I have accomplished amazing feats. I am so proud of having lost my weight in a healthy way and while I still have my food demons, I can live with them. One day a week. I trained for a marathon and finished. Perhaps you didn’t hear me, I RAN A MARATHON! After my marathon I tried to find disappointment in my slower-than-expected time of 6:10:44. But I couldn’t. Trust me when I say I REALLY looked in every nook and cranny. And I can’t find disappointment in my weight loss journey either.

It’s a reality that I will never be as skinny or fast as some people. Someday, I hope to run a marathon at 175 pounds and finish that marathon in under 5:30:00. That’s my goal. But if I weighed 176 and finished in 5:31:00, that would be okay too. Honestly, if I never lost another pound or ran another marathon, I would still be so proud of who Gwen is – and that is the most amazing accomplishment I have. Now if only I could find a shadow box big enough to hold that on a wall.

Gwen’s blog about training for the marathon:
Gwen’s blog about the weight loss:

Memoir Writing and Feeling the Heat

I’m having one of those really bad weeks, and I actually had to bring work home with me tonight. Since I do all of my writing at lunch (no time today) and at night (brought work home)…well, let’s just say that this (the kids table in the playroom where I usually set up my lap top – don’t ask – I just like it) is not where the magic happens at the moment. This is where the boring, tedious work happens. The whole working for a paycheck thing is really inconvenient sometimes.

Luckily enough – I just happen to have something really wonderful to post. Something that I didn’t have to write. My Aunt Jan, my mother’s sister, visited last weekend. One of the million things we talked about was memoir writing. As a teacher, she often attends conferences and workshops, and this past summer took a workshop on memoir writing. This is what prompted me to devote Materialistic Monday to Love, Loss and What I Wore. It also gave her a reason to show me a piece that she wrote for her workshop. It’s beautiful, and I want to share it. It inspires me to write more about my own life before work, kids and Must See TV. It inspires me to write something other than the ironic anecdotes that have become my comfort zone. It inspires me to write. Period.

Feeling the Heat
by Aunt Jan (AKA Janice Marsili)

Outside the school window, the thermometer reached 90 degrees before 11:00 AM, and rainbows shimmered in the hot moist air over the recently-watered soccer field. Inside the classroom, most of my seventh graders lay draped over their desks complaining about the school’s air-conditioning system, except for Tommy Chapman. Tommy, whose mother always sent him to school prepared, held a small, battery-operated fan close to his face and bragged that he was the only one in the class who wasn’t hot. Joey and Anthony Santucci, brothers who were both in the seventh grade since Joey had stayed back, took Tommy’s fan, and were throwing it to each other over his head. Tommy, in a fit of rage, jumped up and down trying to take it back, and screeched for me to “Do something!” between each jump.

The girls folded notebook paper into fans that the boys grabbed, turned into paper airplanes, and began winging around the room. I turned off the overhead lights and raised my hand, our signal for attention, and finally, everyone, including a still-protesting Tommy, went back to their seats. I knew that my chances of successfully teaching an art lesson were slim, so I began to tell them how hot the middle school of my youth would often get on June days. “I know that you’re hot,” I told them, “But this is not the same heat that anyone over fifty felt as a child.”

“What do you mean?” asked Jillian Armitage, the most inquisitive student in the class. Jimmy O’Conner, who was the class clown, rolled his eyes and smacked his forehead.

“Now you’ve done it Jillian! She’s going to tell us the story of life before air conditioning.” And he slammed his head down onto his desk with the type of exaggerated despair that only a seventh grade boy can express.

“Yes, I am Jimmy,” I said. “Because maybe hearing it will stop some people from whining.” With that, he raised his head just long enough to roll his eyes once more, and then let it spiral back down to his desk which it hit with a bang.

Later that night, I replayed the events of the day in my mind, and remembering Jimmy’s performance, I asked myself why I had really wanted to tell my tale of past heat suffering. Why would I want to revisit it? Could it be that I actually had some nostalgia for that sweat-soaked world? Was there anything from that life that could possibly be better than sitting in my sealed ice box of a den watching television with my husband?

I thought back to summers when I was a child. The post-war development of Cape Cod houses that we lived in was filled with children. There were several families with six or more siblings who slept in the finished attics of the little homes. I loved these dormitories of multiple bunk beds that we turned into slides or used as the underpinnings of tents, but not in the summer. When the hot sun began to beat on the roofs of our neighborhood without the shade of any large trees to cut its heat, we children fled our attic bedrooms.

We ran across the biggest street to “the woods,” where we spent the day riding our bikes down dirt paths, or playing tag or dodge ball. Finding our way back home for lunch, we rested in the shade near our homes for an hour or two into the hottest part of the afternoon. I usually read, but you could always find a game of Candy Land, Go Fish, or, if you were older, Monopoly or Canasta….sometimes a secret game of poker in the Lynch’s basement if their mother, who was always pregnant, was taking a nap.

Life speeded up as dinner time approached. Fathers would be coming home and meals had to be prepared. This is where we really learned to stand the heat. In tiny kitchens decorated with apple wallpaper we set tables, peeled potatoes and stirred sauces. Ovens were turned on despite the heat and the air in those rooms became so moistly thick and heavy that I often imagined I was looking at my mother and sister through a fog.

After dark, all of the families on the street would escape onto the small screened-in porches that were connected to each house. Sitting on the cool concrete floor of our porch, I would read with my flashlight, and look up to see the glowing points of the cigarettes being smoked by my friends’ fathers all the way up the block. I wouldn’t know this was bad for them until years later, when some of them, including my own father, died of lung cancer, but back then, as I watched the small points of light moving slowly back and forth, it was just another familiar part of the life we all shared.

We could hear our neighbors back then. I recognized the voices of each of my friends’ parents and I heard their children giggling and roughhousing until someone’s father would have enough of the noise and would rumble for quiet. Soon the flashlights and candles would be snuffed out, and one by one, the families would return inside until the entire neighborhood went dark.

My sister and I went up to our attic room to lie down, but not to sleep. The heat of the day hid high in the rafters above us, and the air outside was still too hot to make any difference as it blew over us, sucked in by the exhaust fan in the window at the far end of the room. Our white sheets glowed hot in the dark. We lay still. We talked.

We told each other about the books we were reading. I was always talking about Gone With the Wind. “What do you think happened to Scarlett? Once I said that I really liked a character in my book named Step Hen. My sister laughed and laughed and then told me that it was Stephen, and I got mad.

Sometimes we sang the French songs she had learned at school, and then she would tell me what they meant. “Dit te moi, pourquoi, la vie est belle…. Tell me why life is beautiful.” Or I told her jokes that she pretended to think were funny.

“Knock, Knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Who, who?”

“I didn’t know you were an owl!” and she laughed.

And then, as the room grew cooler, she always drifted off to sleep before me. I lay listening to the sound of the Katy Dids in the woods across the street. “Katy Did, Katy Didn’t, Katy Did, Katy Didn’t.” I could hear their scratching rising and falling above the soft thunder of the fan. I timed my breaths to the rhythm of their song. Then I closed my eyes, and slept.

My sister and I both have children who grew up sleeping in their own air conditioned bedrooms. They played video games together and still trade lines from The Simpsons and Seinfeld, but they didn’t lie awake together in the dark hot nights of summer. Theirs was not the same heat.

Guest Post from Kate Coveny, Age Nine

*Don’t forget to enter my jewelry giveaway from Lisa Leonard Designs! Click here for details.

My friend Jozette of Regardez Moi was supposed to guest post this week, but she had to postpone due to a busy weekend and an unexpected business trip (translation: she was too drunk/hung over this weekend and is using a business trip excuse to give her vague “too busy” plea a bit more credibility). Hi Jozette!

So you will have to wait a couple more weeks to hear from her. But it will be worth the wait. Aside from her obvious lack of priorities (I guess she didn’t get the “Kate is #1” memo), she’s a doll and I’m looking forward to seeing what she sends me.

Since Kate Coveny Hood isn’t feeling all that inspired… I thought I’d ask someone else to do a last minute guest post for me. Welcome to Kate Coveny, the nine year old I used to be. As I’m typing this I have no idea what she is going to say, but I’m fairly certain that it will be incredibly embarrassing for Kate Coveny Hood. Because you know – I was odd.

(Weird sepia tinted effect courtesy of the scanner at my office.)

Hello! Kate Coveny here. Before I tell you a little bit about myself, I’d like mention that I’m being translated into “thirty-six year old woman.” We felt that this would be more appropriate for the given audience. Plus – at nine years old, my vocabulary is limited and my spelling is atrocious.

That out of the way, I will now attempt to write a “blog post.” I have no idea what a blog is of course, but it sounds like the pen pal letters that we sometimes write in school. You tell me a little bit about you, I tell you a little bit about me…that kind of thing. I’m hoping that you don’t decide to tell me anything about [whispers] s-e-x because I just found out about that in the recent past and I’m still recovering from the shock. Please – there are some things that nine year old girls just don’t like to think about.

What I DO like to think about includes my dolls (yes – I still play with dolls, what of it?), art projects, cute small animals, and my favorite books. I love to read, and at the moment I particularly like anything written about “the olden days.” This would include All of a Kind Family, Betsy-Tacy, Little Women, anything illustrated by Tasha Tudor, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House” books. There are so many more – but these are at the top of my list right now. I found most of these books during “Library” at school while the boys were looking up dirty words in the dictionary (they are gross – feel free to talk to them about s-e-x).

At the moment, I have two best friends. I met both of them at my school, Annunciation. My first friend at Annunciation was Sheridan. Sheridan’s mom and my mom met at a school function shortly after we moved to DC last year. They set up a play date for us which is great for me since I’m really shy. Sheridan doesn’t like to play with dolls, but she does like cute small animals. Actually, her favorite animals are not small. Sheridan rides for the Rock Creek Park show team and knows EVERYTHING about horses. She is teaching all of this to me. Sometimes at recess, she quizzes me on horse anatomy and riding terminology. She is a strict teacher – but she says that I’m learning very quickly. Then we play horses using a jump rope for “reigns.” She likes to be the horse, which is fine with me because in my head I pretend that I’m Laura Ingalls Wilder. We play other things too, but right now, horses figure prominently in our friendship. We decided that we were best friends right away – even though I have a lot to learn about horses.

The next best friend I made at Annunciation was Madeline. She was new this year, and Sheridan is in a different classroom. When Madeline’s mother saw that I lived a few blocks away, she invited me over for a play date. Madeline is not interested in horses. Which is a nice change of pace. I think that one horse-crazy friend is enough. Madeline likes to play with dolls (like me!) She has two older sisters and two younger brothers and they all eat dinner at 5:00. This is REALLY EARLY! But Sister (the housekeeper – as in “keeper of all things in the house, including children”), is very strict about this rule. Sometimes, I am invited to stay, but sometimes I have to go home since she has enough to deal with already. Madeline’s sisters are teenagers and they’re both really, really pretty. They have lots of boyfriends and get dressed up to go out every weekend. Sometimes when they don’t go out, they put make up on Madeline and me. They say that Madeline will be the most beautiful of all of the sisters. Truth be told, this makes me a little jealous. I want to be the most beautiful of three sisters, but I just have one brother – and he doesn’t talk about which one of us will be the most beautiful.

I am not beautiful. But I have a lot of imagination. Madeline likes to play games with me because I am very good at pretending. At the moment, our favorite game is to pretend that we are The Borrowers, and that we are tiny. There is one tree that we like to climb and pretend it is a flower. Another game that we like to play is that we are orphans looking for our parents. As I write this, I realize that it doesn’t make any sense – but that’s the game. In the game, we both wear lockets that have pictures of our parents so that we will recognize them if we find them. I think that we may have gotten this idea from Annie, but I’m not sure. Sheridan doesn’t have much patience for these games, but she does like to play other pretend games like “School.” Guess who gets to be the teacher?

I like having two different best friends because they are fun in different ways. Someday I hope they like each other more, because it’s hard to have best friends that don’t like each other as much as they like me.*

(sepia tint with new and improved “lipstick” effect – again compliments of the scanner at work.
But I think I would have liked it at age nine – very “old fashioned” no?)

Well, I think that’s enough from nine year old Kate Coveny for now. As you can see she doesn’t really know how wrap it up (not that Kate Coveny Hood is much better). When I started this stream of consciousness inspired exercise, I didn’t plan to focus childhood friends. But it’s a topic that’s still very relevant to me. I have always believed that your friends say a lot about you as a person. I placed a great deal of value on my friendships as a child, and I still do. Instead of getting caught up in the group politics so common to young girls, I preferred to spend more time with individuals and focus on those friendships. The associated groups of friends were simply a byproduct.

I like to think that I had fun back then, but at the end of the day, I was a fairly serious girl. I gave a lot of thought to my choices, and generally chose to surround myself with interesting and amusing people. I’m happy to say that this is something that hasn’t changed. My current daydreams are less fanciful (I can promise you that I’m not wearing a bonnet or a tippet in any of them), but I still have them. And I choose to spend my time with people who help to inspire them. Hi there friends that are reading this! Just want to say that I love you.

*This was an unfounded concern of mine when I was nine. Once we were all in fifth grade together, Sheridan and Madeline became best friends. While I may have lamented my downgraded status at the time, I had some other best friends to fill the void. Relationships are complicated when you’re a nine year old girl. Almost thirty years later, these two women are still very dear to me. I don’t see them often, but they are like the sisters that I never had as a little girl. Those short paragraphs only provide a few details about their own little nine year old lives. I could easily write a book about either of them.