Keeping it real online.

thYesterday I read a long, painful and moving essay on the LoveLifeEat blog called “When you can’t be the person the Internet wants you to be.” It affected me so much that I wrote to its author, Felicia Sullivan.

Short form: I told her that writing about the dark places in her life make her honest, not self-indulgent.

I also said that her words matter. By daring to tell the truth about life, i.e., that sometimes it is horrible, she has helped and will help an unknowable number of people.

Some readers will be bolstered by the fact that they aren’t the only ones dealing with depression, unemployment, the loss of a parent, a difficult relationships with the surviving parent, the search for meaning. I’d bet my next freelance paycheck that her essay encouraged some readers to examine their own dark places and get help for them.

What a refreshing change from the everything-is-awesome drumbeat that makes up so much of the Internet. So many blogs resemble a never-ending, humblebragging stream of fake Christmas letters: Look at me! Look at me and my perfect life!!!



read more

th-1Feels like I just got here. Where has the week gone?

Tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 27) is the Surviving and Thriving meet-up at the North Point Mall food court in Alpharetta, Ga. I’ll be hanging out there with my laptop from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

But I’ll definitely put it aside if you drop by — and since I don’t have a smartphone to stare at  you’ll have my undivided attention. No checking e-mail or tweeting about the soft pretzels. I promise.

What will we talk about? That’s up to you.


read more

th-3A recent freelance experience suffused with mega-micromanagement left me teeth-grindingly irritated and wondering, “What if I just quit?”

Pipe dream, at least for now. I’m too young to collect Social Security and not quite far enough along in my personal retirement savings to stop contributing.

It’s not that I don’t like what I do. Writing is as natural as respiration. Even if I quit writing full-time I’d likely freelance here and there. Lately, though, I’m viewing time as more important than money, and resenting the hours spent on non-life-enriching stuff.

We now interrupt our regular broadcast to check our privilege: Plenty of people in the world don’t have the freedom even to consider such a choice. They work until they die, and with their last breaths apologize for not contributing more to the family and for costing so much money to bury.

I know that I am in a pretty benevolent place: I can work from home, the job is interesting and lets me help people, and I get to see DF for lunch every day.

Which brings me to the main reason I want to retire.


read more

th-1I figured that might get your attention. The headline is semi-disingenuous: What you’ll be doing is preparing 10 to 12 meals in an hour or less, but not actually cooking them until you need them.

Specifically, you’ll be turning 48 to 60 minutes’ worth of kitchen work into a dozen future dinners by using Erin Chase’s new FreezEasy meal plans.

Recently I wrote about her Grocery Budget Makeover plan. Chase is the founder of $5 Dinners and a series of cookbooks, and also the co-founder of “The $5 Meal Plan.” This time around she’s created a series of meal plans, shopping lists, kitchen prep tips and videos to churn-and-burn future meals (both meat-based and vegetarian).

Since I know her in real life, I can attest that she dreams up recipes in both the exotic and everyday realms. (Hint: She has four kids.) However, her recipes share several attributes: They are affordable and they are simple to prepare.

Beta testers report that Chase’s plans takes “the overwhelm” out of the equation. You know, that feeling of “What are we (or what am I) going to eat today, tomorrow, next week…?” that can ruin your day – and, maybe, your budget. It can also create an unhealthy relationship with food.


read more

thEarlier this week I was stumping for a Seattle breakfast buddy (or lunch pal), because I’ll be at Sea-Tac on Tuesday on my way to Atlanta. There I’ll be visiting the lovely and talented Beverly Harzog and hanging out with some other writers if we can swing it.

Generally I like to do reader meet-ups when I travel, too. So who’s available on Saturday, Feb. 27?


read more