The Diagnosis

It’s amazing how much we try to control in life so we can achieve our dreams, like a career, music, art, or building up our family’s strengths. We are surrounded by distractions, but there is pure satisfaction from something going as planned, isn’t there? Seeing results for your hard work.

By nature, I’m type A and a really hard worker but also a deep thinker/dreamer. It’s important to me that people can count on me. Knowing that I can accomplish or help someone else, a shared goal or a personal dream is what makes my heart flutter.

So all of these things are also sometimes a negative, because life is rarely on track. I’m okay with the unexpected change of plan. Working in public relations, crises and communications requires you to be able to handle the chaos. But I wasn’t ready for what life had in store for me.

I had to learn the hard way that this wasn’t really my plan all along.

Six years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). This rocked my world. I grieved for my children and possibly not having the mother they so deserved. The tears continued to fall when I realized I might not be the woman I dreamed. My throat would close at the utter, complete, loss of control in my life. I basically mourned my life as I knew it. But, I’d be dammed if I let anyone feel sorry for me (a curse of the independent people out there).

My husband said I only had two days to cry. Those words were harsh, but I think he was equally confused and worried this would overtake me. Maybe in some way he feared that the person he loved so much would be lost forever. I was deeply scared too; the kind that makes your body shake. This was unchartered territory.

But I had to find a way forward, and to be honest, it took me a few years. I didn’t like the idea of being someone scared of the future. I had made some diet and supplement changes and after some time, reluctantly got on medication. I was extremely lucky, I only had some numbness and otherwise have not had any physical issues. It was the emotional ones that were really pushing on my heart, the future, and who I would be tomorrow. I had find a way to uncover my own peace and strength with this chronic, unpredictable diagnosis. I tried ignoring it, but that’s the funny thing about that strategy…it creeps around in all the places that matter.

Eventually I spoke with a therapist and started letting more friends and family know. I went to a few MS meetings and they scared the hell out of me and I vowed to never go back. [I have gone to a “People with MS for 40ish and Under Happy Hour” meeting a few times that were good…these things do actually exist.]

There’s still work to do. I still have to tell my kids about MS. I thought I might last summer but those that know my older daughter and her obsession with death thought she might think I was going to die. But as of today, I have been in remission for four years (!!) and am living for today, tomorrow and every day after. Remission is when you have no symptoms of the disease (via annual MRI scans) and I’ll take it…day by day, year by year as it comes.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how I can help others, maybe find peace with this total change in life. I’ve done such a disservice by trying to solve this myself instead of looking to others. Maybe I can save someone else the heartache. Let them know there is another side and that it is pretty amazing, just a slightly different story.

Here’s to finding peace with life’s limitations, strength in and gratitude for what you do have, and living every moment as though it matters.

Ps, I am completely open to talking about MS if you want to ask me casually or have a friend who needs help. Anytime.




“I hat mi self”

This is my seven-year-old daughter. Her version of I Hate Myself.

Do you hear that sound? The banging and vibration? That was my heart. My throat closed up in sadness because my very young, sweet girl was feeling something so deep.

We all know that it’s tough to be a girl and grow up with social pressures, fit in and learn confidence. Add social media here soon. The sad truth is, we exchange these feelings of inadequacies for other things as women…that we’re not doing enough, could be doing more, hence the be in 20 places at once attempt (nearly daily). It’s exhausting. We need to stop being our own worst critic and build each other up.

And we need to stop it where it’s starting, with our little ones. I just had no idea it’d be so early.

After I got over the sadness and fear of what this would mean if she were older with such high suicide rates, we talked. We’ve been talking every night about this in different ways since then.

First of all, I sympathized with this deep, sadness. We’ve all been there (but we mostly remember that when we were older). She told me, “I just feel so alone sometimes. Like I don’t belong.” [Insert more tears. But I did wait until I was away from her for that.]

I let her in on the secret: EVERY girl and woman has these feelings. She is not alone in feeling this. And we talked about how to change the narrative in her mind. It’s too young to talk about confidence, or rather a little confusing, I tried. This is something that will need to develop with time and example. So we talked about what we’re thankful for. Every day since, we’ve highlighted the things that were funny or fun, and anything that bothered her. Something so little like an old friend has new friends on the playground, that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t mean that they are not friends anymore. She’s having issues with math (she’s in Spanish so can you imagine doing math is Spanish as well..) so we’re getting her help there so she can start to enjoy it again.

When I step back and look at this situation, I’m am astonished that she is able to vocalize these feelings so succinctly at such a young age. These are themes that adults even have trouble saying so definitively. There’s one thing for sure,  I wish someone would’ve told me about all these secrets and struggles that girls and women face.

But now she knows that these thoughts are a feeling that are so common, but they don’t belong to her. And most importantly, it’s not the truth. She doesn’t need to hold onto them and harbor that sadness, alone anymore.


The rain was pouring (shocker, it’s Portland). But then the force and heaviness of the drops hit even harder, making me flinch as it pelted my sunroof. I cursed my windshield wipers to catch up; this was their time to shine. On my drive downtown, first, I must a cross through Terwilliger Boulevard, bobbing and weaving through the sideline of trees hugging both sides of the road. They shake their branches overhead, forming an arch over the road, taunting all drivers with the dangers of the forest.

The car in front of me was slow. (They’re always slow because they probably learned to drive in Portland…) Slowby turned off and the open road lay ahead. The splash of warnings hitting the windshield was not enough to make me need for reduced speed. Swooping in and out, I hugged the curves and pushed for more.

But then a young deer sauntered in front of my car. Apparently it was her time to enter this part of the story, center stage.

In the middle of a busy and crazy world and a hectic day, the deer taunted me to slow down. But I needed to be downtown for a 12 PM meeting.

She walked off to the side of the road and a car in the opposing direction stopped as well. I swear we smiled at each other and turned back to watch the deer. The rain didn’t seem to hit her. I kind of wanted to see for myself how pillowy soft her untouched fur was in that moment.

The car and I were afraid to move. The deer walked off to the side and kept her one eye on me. She wasn’t sure about me. And I’m wasn’t so sure about her either. So we froze. Silence. And the chaos was still.

She walked away with a theatrically slow step, and I started a soft roll forward. She took a step back toward me so I immediately slowed to a stop. And again our eyes met.

With a quick jerk, she was gone. Her work was done there. Without looking back, she started slotting, running off perpendicularly into the forest.

I like her style.

It sure is beautiful for those few precious minutes, even when you’re forced to slow down.


I Am the Highway

Hearing the news about Chris Cornell’s passing today took my breath away. I lived my teen years in the ’90s as thoroughly as possible. Chris Cornell’s raw, gripping and unique voice was part of the many great experiences I had throughout my high school years, along with other alt greats of the time, including Pearl Jam.

His voice was youth, passion, energy, love, and hate: all those things you feel so deeply in high school as you’re trying to navigate yourself around the idea of living in the moment and becoming an adult.

When I heard that Chris had passed, my heart ached and I immediately wanted to reach out and hug my high school best friends. Because his voice was all of us, with the promise of tomorrow with each other by our sides.

It made me sad to realize that many of the bands that took over the radio in Chicago while growing up have lost their lead singers due to death: Alice in Chains, Nirvana, STP, Sublime, and Blind Melon.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs from Chris from Audioslave. It feels fitting.

“I Am The Highway”

Pearls and swine bereft of me.
Long and weary my road has been.
I was lost in the cities, alone in the hills.
No sorrow or pity for leaving, I feel.

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.

Friends and liars don’t wait for me,
‘Cause I’ll get on all by myself.
I put millions of miles under my heels;
And still too close to you I feel.

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.
I am not your blowing wind, I am the lightning.
I am not your autumn moon, I am the night… night.

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.
I am not your blowing wind, I am the lightning.
I am not your autumn moon, I am night… night… night.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lyrics per AZLyrics



Just Make it Happen Already

There are so many things that we say throughout our lives, “Oh, I’d love to do that…” and eye someone with envy when they’ve given themselves the permission to do something out of the box.

I think women are particularly hard on themselves for these sort of things. When I think of something I want to do, it has to make it past my list of priorities: husband and kids, writing, work, friends, and more.

I’d love to do that…but I’ll just be bringing the kids back from gymnastics and the timing is really tight.

I’d love to do that…but work just started to pick up.

I’d love to do that…but that’s like two months straight that I’ll need to find some backup to watch the kids.

Recently, a friend passed away from cancer and everything around me has seemed like a missed opportunity. My heart has been broken since her passing. She used to say every day counts.

We don’t get a second chance at our lives.

So this is a note to ask you what you’ve been wanting to do lately. And I give you permission to do it for yourself!

On Monday, I start ukulele lessons…get ready world!



New Book is Finished!

I want to scream from the mountain tops…it’s DONE, it’s DONE!!

I’ve just finished writing CURTAIN RISING and all 68,000 words of it. While I couldn’t be more excited, I’ve been simultaneously editing it with feedback from beta readers, and I know there’s quite a bit more editing to go.

But first, a little celebration!

I do need some thoughts on the ending so if there are any other WF beta readers out there that want to speed read for me? I’m looking to send out submissions by September.

I want to deeply thank all the lovely authors and beta readers that have helped me to finesse various parts of the book: Christi Suzanne, Erica Steele, Gayle Seely, Eric Butler, Sara Adams, Natalie Spada, Suzan Headley, Karisa Tell, and Katerina Baker.

Now, on to more editing!

happy dance

Pitch Wars Setting Workshop

Writing novels has its highs and its lows. For anyone that has queiried an agent, they now understand what “tough skin” really means. But it’s all part of the process.

I’m working on my second book, CURTAIN RISING, and was so lucky to be selected into the Pitch Wars Setting Workshop and have my first 500 words reviewed.

I’m so thankful to have some great critique partners; everyone adds value in a different way. For the Pitch Wars Setting Workshop, mentor and fabulous author Kelly Siskind provided some great feedback. Having someone who has gone through the process and has written some great books, is pretty great.

So here is a sneak peek into the amazingly tough, yet wonderful, yet painful, yet amazing process of writing. This is my exerpt of CURTAIN RISING, with Kelly’s feedback.

For those who don’t know Kelly’s work, check her out!

Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY and MY PERFECT MISTAKE, the latter being the first of her Over the Top series, all published through Grand Central’s Forever Yours. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.



Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago via

Query Kombat Today

A few years ago I started connecting with other authors on Twitter and it changed my life. I’m so glad that I’ve met so many great people that are in the same shoes, writing, editing, and supporting each other.

My book, AMERICAN HONEY, got selected to compete in Query Kombat today! It is very exciting and yet, I’m so nervous. The winner will go on to compete in the next round, and so on. My competitor has got the goods too!

Thanks for , our team of authors selected to compete these next few weeks.

Please come visit, leave feedback, and cheer us on (we’ll leave the voting for the judges though)! Today, my book is on this site:

Very exciting!


What does honesty look like?

There are so many faces of honesty. I’ve always been so interested in this topic, especially researching the life of an unreliable narrator for my new book. And then I happened upon a New York Post article, and that kind of brutal honesty has to make you smile…(story below).

DEFINITION: An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. The reader/viewer often does not realize the unreliability until a contrast of the truth is shown by another character or event.

The dishonesty that seems to hurt the most is when you are not honest to yourself.

It’s amazing what we’ll do to protect ourselves sometimes, persevere, and move on. You see it all the time from fights between non-working women to working women, jobs, economy, even things like sleep. We try to convince ourselves that we don’t need it: we’re better off without it.

When people are so honest to the point that it puts them in a bad light, and their actions clearly were incorrect but they still choose to put it out there, whether to help others or just help themselves…I find that so refreshing.

Here is the New York Post article that made me smile. Obviously, I don’t condone his behavior, but it is hilarious.



Living in the Today

It feels like every other day there is an awful shooting or act of terrorism. But sadly, I heard a stat that there have been more mass shootings than actual calendar days of the year so far.

I think it makes all of us feel helpless as we sit watching the news, hugging our family, not knowing how to protect them. My daughters are five and three years old, so they haven’t had to hear about all of this. But soon they will, and I worry they will fear for the future, like I sometimes do. And more than anything, it makes me sad that they will lose that sense of innocence.

San Bernardino two days ago, Paris the other day, Beirut, etc. It feels sad to even write “ETC.” but it goes on and on. I can’t help but wonder what the solution is, how do we handle this sadness, scariness, and evil that is everywhere today?

Last night I realized I needed to stop watching and start living.

  • We need to live in the today.
  • We need to stand tall for our beliefs.
  • We need to love our family and friends more.
  • We need to believe and act as though every day counts. 

And when these tragedies happen, we need to urge everyone around us to support each other and find a solution. All of our neighbors, family members, state and national government should be held accountable for keeping each other safe. There’s a grave disconnect with mental illness and the constant threat of terrorism, and we need to figure out how to identify these issues and stop them before they happen. How can we live in such a progressive country, yet be afraid to send our kids to school?

I hope that you will find strength in something in your life, and hold onto that the next time tragedy hits.

In the meantime, live and love deeply.