Last month was my blog anniversary. I started blogging 3 years ago on a dare. I had just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I was talking about it with my boyfriend and how I wanted to start writing again when he dared me to…
“Start a blog.”
So I did.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
1. The Blogosphere Rocks and Comments are Verbal Gold
I am forever grateful to those first few people who started commenting on my blog, and even more so to the ones still around today. I’ve been given amazing opportunity to connect with other bloggers/writers on various projects and it’s always rewarding. Groups like the WANAs, ROW80, and the Life List Club have all helped me push forward with not just my writing goals, but personal goals as well.
When I made the difficult decision to quit my job, without a back up plan, my blog friends supported me and some even contacted me with potential job leads. They didn’t have to do that, and that’s why it meant the world. When I’ve shared vulnerable posts about writing slumps, not going back to school, and heck – shitting my pants! – you’ve stuck by me and your comments keep me going. Thank you!
2. Trust Your Gut
My blog has transformed many times over the years. And so has my writing. The first book I started, and consequently restarted and rewrote 10+ times, was a paranormal YA!
Noooo, there were not vampires in it. (Although, I think it would be fine if there were!)
I always wanted to write a comical memoir, but I let people or situations get in the way. When I made it a priority to “tell my story” I had the first draft written in 4 months time. I’ve never been as far in the writing process or felt like I was on the right track as I do now.
3. Change is inevitable.
Similar to the previous lesson, change is inevitable. If I stopped moving forward just because I worried about how a topic or change on my blog would go over, I probably wouldn’t be celebrating a blog anniversary right now. Allowing my blog to grow with me as I learn and reflect, benefits not just me, but my readers as well.
Thank you everyone for reading!
And for joining me on my journey to make pathetic look cool.
What’s a life lesson that’s been on your mind lately?
Tune in Monday to join me and my guest, Amber West, discussing cats vs. dogs, parenting advice, what to watch on television, and her thriller with a twist – The Ruth Valley Missing!
Happy Thanksgiving Week Everyone!
As a descendant of two of the Mayflower pilgrims, I’ve been sharing Thanksgiving stories on my blog all month. If you missed out, feel free to check out:
This week, I thought I’d share a history of the actual Thanksgiving.
Are you ready for this?
It happened in 1863.
Wait! The pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621! Your date is over 240 years later?!
That’s right my little pilgrims. The first official Thanksgiving happened in November of 1863, when President Lincoln made it a national holiday at the urging of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale.
Sarah was a New Englander who was interested in bringing a war-torn country together. She wrote editorials for a lady’s magazine on the importance of Thanksgiving, in addition to writing the President, all state governors, and every member of Congress once a year for 17 years!
It is Sarah Josepha Buell Hale who can be thanked for our national holiday being credited to the pilgrims. Many New Englanders did observe an annual Thanksgiving, however in 1863, the states were still divided about the holiday. The South believed the North to be celebrating their current success in the war, so many of them opted to celebrate on an entirely different day.
What the pilgrims really did in 1621 was celebrate their harvest. To truly understand how important that first gathering was for the pilgrims and the Wampanoag native tribe, you need to know that the pilgrims would not have survived without their native neighbors.
A local comedian and storyteller in my town put it like this:
If the pilgrims hadn’t invited the Wamanoag people, that first Thanksgiving would have been an all-you-can-eat barley buffet.
They were still learning how to live off this new land. Much of the food that became staples of their diet was learned through the Wampanoag. And it is a Wampanoag tradition to give thanks throughout the year at harvests. Since they lived off the land, they took time to celebrate it at every season. They knew the peak times for picking berries, fishing in the river, planting the crops, and hunting the forests.
So in act of gratitude, the pilgrims invited Chief Massasoit to their harvest. He brought with him some 90 men, and the harvest feast lasted for three days.
The only known description of this first harvest was found in a letter written by pilgrim colonist, Edward Winslow. He was a key person who helped foster the friendship between Wampanoag and pilgrim. He wrote:
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their great king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
Clearly Edward Winslow didn’t care about run-on sentences.
Eh-hem. So there you have the first harvest, which we now refer to as the first Thanksgiving.
Other noteworthy topics of conversation you can toss around the turkey table this week with family, include…
- The first Thanksgiving had no forks. They used knives, spoons, and their fingers. Forks were not yet invented.
- Eels were considered a delicacy and lobsters were lower class.
- Venison was the main course served, followed by turkey.
- The Wampanoag word for “time of harvest” is Keepunumuk.
- Beer was considered a normal drink regardless of age, gender, or class.
- Both cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies came years after the first Thanksgiving.
- In the 1800′s celery was the featured vegetable – pricey, but available, it was often laid on the table in a fine silver bowls filled with cold water to let the stalks crisp up.
- Sports have always been present at Thanksgiving. After dinner was over, the men would go to the fields to play ball or pitch horseshoes.
- It was President Franklin Roosevelt who made Thanksgiving a truly official holiday, signing the Congressional bill that made it law in 1941.
How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?
Last week you all shared 57 song suggestions with me! BAM!
Nice work! I had some listening homework to do, but it was fun, and I have a loooooong list of possibilities now.
Today I’m sharing a few favorites and I hope you keep the recommendations coming! I’ve actually got 3 mix cds to make: the Phenomenal Woman Mix (all female dance mix), the Cafe’ Mix (chill, coffee mug in hand mix), and a Dude’s Mix (all male mix cd).
So if you hear something ya like, *raises eyebrows up and down*, don’t keep it a secret!
Three random commenters will win all 3 CDs!
Favorite Phenomenal Woman Contenders:
Love Me Right by Geek Swag ~ From Ginger Calem
Ginger said this is the song that makes her dance no matter what. I couldn’t agree more! And it has a very Sex in the City kind of vibe, I think. Brunch tomorrow, ladies?
Into the Nightlife by Cyndi Lauper ~ From Emma Meade
Definitely a dance song, and a nice throwback to the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Queen!
Mama’s Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert ~ From Julie Glover
I would describe this song as a 3 part harmony involving the True Blood theme song, Mad Men’s wardrobe, and the Desperate Housewives wig collection. In short, it’s kinda awesome.
It’s Too Late by Wild Belle ~ From Dawn Sticklen
Still a great dance song, but it’s probably played at some french club I can’t get into. Thanks Dawn!
Favorite Cafe’ Mix Contenders:
Say Something by A Great Big World w/ Christina Aguilera ~ From Misty Laws
Sad, poignant, haunting, lovely, honest, heartbreak, hope. This is the kind of thing you’ll play on repeat.
Stop Signs by The Moondoggies ~ From Mark Petruska
This could go on the Dude’s Mix or the Cafe’ Mix. Love his voice. Sounds like something you’d hear in a movie while the main character embarks on a long road trip.
What songs did you love?What else would you recommend?
What’s new with you?
I’ve shared with you all that my family has traced their roots back to the voyage of the Mayflower. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, crossed the Atlantic as an indentured servant, and my 17th Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Tilley, was only 13 when she lost both her parents that first harsh winter in the New World.
I take pride in knowing my family is full of survivors.
I also know we’re a clumsy bunch of buggers.
Those of you that’ve stuck with me for awhile know that I tend to get lost in the woods, a little overexcited when I go to the circus, and I recommend packing extra underwear on vacation.
Well, it would seem the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in my case.
I am related to John Howland, who crossed the ocean in 1621. And that same individual is the pilgrim whose biggest notoriety is the fact: he fell off the boat.
Yes, it’s true. William Bradford wrote about it in his diary.
As the story goes, John became seasick below deck and ventured upstairs for some fresh air. Once on deck, the winds from the ocean storm were so strong, he fell overboard. As he was falling, he managed to grab hold of a rope that was trailing in the water. Because he hung on, the men on ship were able to hoist him back on board.
Pretty crazy to think I was one stomach ache away from not being here!
Thankfully, John did survive. He went on to become a well respected member of the community, and I can see his signature on the Mayflower compact today.
I feel a kinship to John. I think both of us make pathetic look pretty dang awesome. Even if we are a scrappy lot!
5 Things I’m Thankful For:
- Even when I find myself in less than desirable situations, they always make for a good story
- Getting to travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts and walk aboard the Mayflower II
- A good sense of humor
- A never give up attitude
- Mederma – that stuff you put on to minimize scarring
What embarrassing moments have you overcome that made you stronger?
Or at least made a good story?
The first is called the Phenomenal Woman Mix - it’s a collection of all female artists/bands that are feel good and dance worthy!
The second I’ve dubbed the Cafe’ Mix - a more mellow, relax at home with a cup of coffee blend of male and female artists.
I need your help!
What songs/artists do you recommend I add to the mixes?
Here’s some of the songs I’ve already compiled to give you an idea…
For the Phenomenal Woman Mix:
Torpedo by Jillette Johnson – Power number to start the day feeling like you can conquer the world.
Closer by Tegan and Sara – Definite dance in your underpants all weekend!
This is What Makes Us Girls by Lana Del Ray – I love Lana’s retro Nancy Sinatra look and velvety voice. This is her latest song.
For the Cafe’ Mix:
The One That Got Away by The Civil Wars – Haunting and amazing. Perfect for staring out the window and reflecting on your past.
Please, Baby Please by Serena Ryder – Serena’s been on the last 2 mixes as she is my favorite musician. She just released her new album this fall, called Harmony, and every song is soulfully wonderful.
Heartbeats by Johnnyswim – Romantic and moody, I love both of their voices immensely.
What do you recommend for these mixes?
Please share! I’ll put my favorite suggestions in next week’s blog post and THREE lucky commenters will receive their own copies of both cds as well!
I didn’t get a blog up on Friday because I spent the weekend at home visiting the newest edition of the family!
Welcome Sarai Lorraine!
It’s baby city in my families as both my sister and Joe’s just had little ones. We have a healthy baby girl and boy to celebrate Thanksgiving with this year. Both moms had some difficulty with labor, and it sure makes me grateful for modern medicine, knowing they (and babies) were in good hands.
I’m blogging about Thanksgiving this month and in honor of our little ones, I thought I’d share this story…
The only baby born on the Mayflower belonged to Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins. They named their son Oceanus in honor of the voyage.
Imagine being pregnant and packed below ship with 101 other people for months on end!
When the Mayflower originally sailed from England, it was to be accompanied by another ship, the Speedwell. Rumor has it that one of the voyage benefactors wasn’t too keen on the trip and purchased sails much too large for the Speedwell’s frame. When the crew raised the sails, they caught the wind so strongly that the beams cracked, turning the Speedwell into the Sinkwell.
Both ships had to turn back and families were forced to make the difficult decision of either staying in England and departing at a future date, or crowding onto the Mayflower, setting sail for the New World. Some families even split up, leaving the women and children behind and sending their men to procure land and prepare homes.
For the Hopkins family, the journey was a tumultuous one. The Mayflower had a boxy shape to it which offered some resistance to the bouncing waves, but didn’t counteract them altogether. The pilgrims were considered the worst lot on the boat. Captain Miles Standish, a fiery redhead with a temper to match, was a military man who hadn’t much use for farmers and families aboard his ship. Many of the pilgrims became seasick and the soldiers on board mocked their lack of sea legs.
Below deck, the pilgrims crowded with their families as well as livestock into small bunks with nothing more than curtains for privacy. The noise was one matter, and the smells were an entirely different one.
Such was the environment that Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth in. And Oceanus was born.
These babies and their mothers remind me what we’re capable of. They overcome unbearable pain, the sense of being out of control, and yet so incredibly focused all at the same time. And they introduce us to the very essence of hope – a new child. What a perfect reminder to be grateful. Grateful for every day we have with our family. For every adventure we embark on – whether we know what that new world will bring or not. For every lesson learned along the way.
Here’s my gratitude list from this weekend:
- Holding baby Sarai.
- Hugging my sister and brother-in-law.
- Sleeping next to Sonja (Sarai’s 4 year old big sister) who kicked me in the ribs, butt, and thigh repeatedly on the hour every hour for two nights in a row. Once the soreness fades, I’ll remember how we got to snuggle in the early morning and she told me how excited she was to go home with mommy and daddy and her new sister.
- Concealer, to hide my lack of sleep. Coffee for the drive home.
- Being an aunt to some truly loveable kids, all five of them.
What’s on your gratitude list this week?
The house seems extra quiet this week since Joe took down all the Halloween decorations already. No ghosts or ghoulies to keep me company anymore. We’re still on our scary movie kick though. We spent Halloween watching The Lost Boys and The Exorcist! Classics. We still have a few in our pile to watch yet (Psycho (the remake), The Ring, Village of the Damned, The Prophecy…)
Even though Halloween is over, it’s the beginning of another favorite holiday for me. Thanksgiving.
This holiday is always special to me and my family because we’ve tracked our ancestry back to two of the pilgrims that crossed over on the Mayflower. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. John Howland came from England as an indentured servant to John Carver, one of the Leiden Separatists (AKA: pilgrim). John Carver was Plymouth colony’s first Governor and the first person to sign the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote.
But John Carver and his family did not survive the first winter in the new world. In fact, most of the original passengers on the Mayflower did not survive that first winter. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, who was in his 20′s at the time, now found himself a land owner and became a prominent member of the community. He would later become quite a reputable fur trader, working with Native Americans along the coast of Maine, and ending his days as a farmer in Massachusetts.
Elizabeth was only a teenager when she made the voyage across the Atlantic with her parents. Her parents did not survive the first winter either.
Eventually, John and Elizabeth married in the new world, and over their life together, gave birth to 10 children! What is so remarkable about their story is that they all survived! The Howland line is the most common bloodline for pilgrim descendants to belong to because it was so rare that these people lived as long as they did. Elizabeth was in her 90′s when she passed!
I am fortunate in many ways. I’m fortunate that I know where my people come from. I know their story, or at least as much as I can know. And I know we are survivors. I’m also fortunate to have visited the land and place where they walked. The first time in 2010 with Joe, who was patient and understanding with me while I took photos of everything and felt like I was walking in a really good dream. The second time, just this year, when I took my parents to tour Plymouth and watched my mom have the same journey I did three years ago.
So Thanksgiving is a meaningful holiday for me. It’s a reminder of who we are and what we’ve been through. What we can endure, with hard work and family, in order to achieve our dreams. It’s a reminder to change for the better by learning from others and seeking understanding more than being right.
This month, I’d like to focus on thanksgiving. I’ve kept a journal since I was 13, but within the last year or so, I’ve turned it more into a gratitude journal. At the end of each entry, I write five specific things I’m grateful for.
Here is today’s list:
- The opportunity to travel to Plymouth this year with my parents.
- The chance to tour my ancestors’ home and see artifacts used by them.
- The sound of my mother’s voice, telling John and Elizabeth’s story at the dinner table on Thanksgiving day.
- My mom’s dairy potatoes.
- Knowing my family is full of survivors. If they can cross an ocean with only the stars to guide their way, then I can publish my damn book!
What are you thankful for today? What does Thanksgiving in your house look like?
Thank you to everyone who participated in my Halloween Costume Contest! I had sooo much fun seeing your costumes! We had everything from Bigfoot to Unicorns, 80′s Punk Rocker to Madonna and Child! You sure are a clever bunch!
Had you come Trick-or-Treating at our house last night, you’d have met this…
But, there can be only one! And this year’s Costume Contest winner is…
Be sure to check out Diana’s fabulous fantasy blog – Mermaids Don’t Do Windows!
Congratulations Diana! Thanks for Trick-or-Treating with me!
Behold your ghoulish bounty!
How did you each of you celebrate All Hallow’s Eve? What was your favorite costume you saw?
Like. Really. Love. Halloween.
It’s a good thing my honey loves Halloween too! Every year Joe and I collect more Halloween decorations.
He continues to scare the crap out of me by hiding more spiders around the house. (I don’t do spiders.)
I continue to buy Halloween movies for us to watch each night.
You never know what you might find at our house!
We also love to dress up.
Sometimes our costumes go together…
Sometimes, they don’t…
This year we coordinated! Joe’s band, TUGG, decided to dress up as The Wizard of Oz, and all the ladies agreed to play along too.
Pretty spectacular, isn’t it? I must say, we did have fun.
Maybe too much fun…
Ok, definitely too much fun! (But look what I made on Pixlr, I mean this just screams to be made into a bookmark!)
I want to see YOUR Halloween spirit!
HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST
Submit your favorite Halloween costume photo here, or on Facebook, by Thursday, October 31st, Midnight.
One lucky winner will be selected in a random drawing to win the following:
- DVD copy of John Carpenter’s Halloween – in honor of this month’s Original Vs. Remake series
- A Book from my Bookshelf to Yours – multiple titles to choose from!
- A Guest Post Featured on The Happiness Project, or One on Your Blog Written by Me
- A Plethora of Halloween and Fall Goodies
*Bonus entries can be made by sharing this post! Tweet or share on Facebook for additional chances to win!
What are you waiting for?