Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leapin Leap Day

It's Leap Day people.  We get one extra day.  Normally this would be where I roll my eyes and say something like "Oh goody, another day to enjoy the stupid month of February, who likes that?"

But today is different.  Maybe because we've had a non-winter here in Michigan, so it's not so bad to have another day of this usually dreary, depressing, snowy, snow day filled month.  Maybe because I'm getting older and the idea of an extra day, even just one, is awesome.

One more day to try and get it right.  

Earlier in the week, Lucy lifted my shirt and looked at my stomach.  I was waiting for the usual "Your stomach is so big because you had all of us right?" question she has asked so many times before.  But no this time, she asked about the hole next to my belly button.  The hole that used to hold a belly ring.  It's like a scar from my younger days--a scar that tells the story about how I used to be wild, carefree...and stupid (and skinnier).  I got lost in thinking back to those days with fondness as well as much regret.  Lucy snapped me back to my current role as mother setting an example to her young daughter.

"When you had a ring in there, did you look hot?" Lucy asked.  I quickly pushed my shirt down quickly resembling my conservative grandmother, pursing my lips together and shaking my head.  

"Well did you? Did you look sexy?" she pushed, intrigued with my obvious uncomfortableness.

"Where did you hear that?" I practically shrieked.  I was panicking.  Sexy?  Good god!  

"It just means looking good right?  Some kids in my class were singing 'I'm sexy and I know it,'" she explained. (that damn M&M commercial!)

I explained that those words weren't really appropriate words for a second grader, they were more for grown ups and yes, hot and sexy are words grown ups use to say people are very good looking.  As I was trying to figure out what came talk? for real? are you kidding me? no way? what if I make too much of this? what if I don't make enough of it? is she headed for dressing slutty in eighth grade like me? oh f*ck, are you there god,? Judy Blume? it's me!!!!  While I was making myself crazy with all my crazy, Lucy had moved on and was playing with her brothers.

Whew, I figured I'd deal with it later, you know, later when I have it all figured out.  As I was leaving the room to cook dinner for my little angels, Lucy said one last zinger, "Hey mom, were you ever hot?"
Why would she ever think I was not hot? Hmmm, Maybe it's tough when this is how she usually sees me...swallowed up by massive piles of laundry.

Yep people, one more day of beautiful moments like these.  Hope you are enjoying your extra day.

Merry Leap Day! Be careful and don't miss it or your kids could discover Liberalism.  Love me some 30 Rock.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Can't Be Categorized

So, as I've said before, my blog has no niche.  I like to tell people it's the place to come if you want to feel better about yourself. Bu-dunt-dunt...insert laugh track.  This isn't the place to learn how to take that chair you found on the side of the street and turn it into the most beautiful, bad-ass chair you've ever seen.  This isn't the place to find that perfect recipe that will make the neighbors oh so jealous impressed.

I set off for Blissdom last week, my first blog conference that everybody is probably sick of hearing about. 

Anyway, I set off on this adventure to learn about blogging and connect with other bloggers and social media entrepreneurs.  I didn't know one person that was attending.  As you saw from the video of me singing in the car (click here if you missed it), I had a good time on the drive.

At the first newcomers meet up, everyone was grouped together by their niche.  There wasn't a niche for crazy.  People were very nice and there were a few others that couldn't be grouped into "Food/Entertaining" or "Money/Budgeting" or "Parenting/Special Needs."  We non-nichers laughed it off like it was no big deal.  But if you've ever read this blog before you know that everything is a big deal to me.  And I tirelessly over-analyze things, and this niche stuff got me thinking.

The whole no niche thing really sums up my whole life.  And sometimes I am comfortable with it and sometimes I am so not.

In high school I didn't really have a niche (or clique).  I wasn't in the band, the theater, the smart kids club, the computer club, softball team or anything else.  I had friends, but most weren't the super close kind.  The whole not fitting into a niche/clique/club followed me into college and beyond.  All the way to this damn blog conference.

But you see, I can't be categorized....
  • I am a Democrat and a Christian (yes, they exist).
  • I believe anyone should be able to get married, but I'm not so sold on the whole piece of paper means we're committed idea.
  • I teach Sunday school but I love to say the word fuck (not at Sunday school  of course, but still you get the idea).
  • I love angry rap, but my ears bleed a little when the explicit version gets accidentally downloaded.
  • When I say I love all kinds of music I am not lying to look cool, I even liked Joe Jonas who performed at the conference last week.
  • I am a runner and live a healthy lifestyle, but could OD on Little Debbie Fudgerounds and drink wine like I'm getting a hefty paycheck to do so.
  • I love TV, but don't watch Revenge
  • I am a feminist but something bothers me about a woman playing the electric guitar
  • I love to dance, drink alcohol and laugh, but more so in my kitchen rather than a club.
  • I love to be with people, but I might love to be alone more.
So, I simply don't fit in.  Somedays I am okay with that.  Somedays I am not.

Blog conferences where you don't know anyone are hard places not to have a niche.  I met some very cool people and connected with them.  But the people I probably bonded with (and were the most comfortable with) the most were my shuttle drivers. I stayed at the Courtyard Marriot down the street from the expensive Gaylord Opryland Resort where the conference was and took a shuttle to the workshops and such. 

I would have long talks with them about not knowing anyone, being nervous, etc.  The guys would listen, give some advice and were really so sweet.  Just like the guys I used to unload on in my pre-Algebra class in high school.

Everyone that tells you life is like high school is so fucking right. Ugh.  Except the big difference in my opinion is acceptance.  Even though at times I wish I fit into a niche or category or clique, it's all good.  Would it be easier if I didn't have issues and could socially roll with situations and people better? Hell yes.  But it is still all good.

"Why do you write a blog?" Peyton asked me before I left for the conference.  I didn't think very long and said, "Well it just feels good to be creative and get it out of my head and heart.  I also hope that I relate with someone, entertain them or make them think about something a little differently."

I accept that I don't fit in.  I also accept that I try to live with intention and that what I say matters (to someone). Hey, that's what my fortune said in my cookie at the conference wrap up party.

If you are interested, please click here and like my brand new official blog Facebook page, if for no other reason than the fact that you save me from analyzing why the fuck no one likes my page.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Driving, Singing, Conferencing

Last week I went to a blogging conference and funny enough stepped away from my blog for the longest time in almost six months.  I just got back last night.

There is so much to say.  I learned so much about what I want to be and even what I don't want to be.
Here's an under 2 minute movie about my experience at Blissdom.

I discovered things about myself like the fact that I get that creepy Tom Cruise overdone laugh when I am nervous around new people. Ugh.  I discovered that I like people, but I am not all of a sudden a super social party-loving kind of gal.  

I discovered that if you asked me "Are you more like Gayle or Oprah?" (because I'm sure that's what you were going to ask me), I would say Gayle.  I would say that because I sang (or rapped) the entire road trip down to Nashville and back (like Gayle on their famous road trip if you weren't making the connection).  

Here's an under 2 minute movie about how I entertained myself on the road.

More deets after I get myself together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Outta Here

A year ago, I was thinking about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.  I was reading blogs and thinking about starting my own.

One morning I read about how one of my favorite blog writers was on their way to Blissdom, a blog/social media conference.  That one morning happened to be a morning I too was leaving on a trip---a trip to take care of my mother who was in the hospital refusing rehab, again.

I quietly wished I was going to Blissdom.  I wished that I was a blogger, a writer, a woman who pursued a dream, a passion, an identity.  An identity outside of taking care of my beloved children (whom I adore, so don't take that the wrong way) and my husband (who is totally capable of taking care of himself, but we've fallen into certain, stereotypical roles, it happens people), and my mother (who if you don't know yet, is a trend setting baby boomer drug addict with slight to extreme mental issues).

So this year, today, right now, I am doing it.  I have a blog and I am going to Blissdom in search of more social media knowledge and of course, followers.  And it feels f-ing fantastic, but still a little scary.

Here's a little mini-movie about it.

If you want to subscribe to my YouTube channel click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Suck it Haters

"Who walks around thinking they're wrong all the time?" my dad's very opinionated ex-wife asked one time with a laugh full of certainty and assurance.  She just couldn't understand people that didn't have confidence in their own ideas or expectations of greatness.  

She was full of all kinds of advice, like "Never walk and smoke, it's tacky."  (Ahhh, let's give her a break on that one,  it was a million years ago when she gave me, a very impressionable 16-year-old, that advice.)

I know some people like her.  People that are sure of themselves.  People that think they have good ideas.  People that know they are smart.  People that feel pretty damn good about themselves.  And I hate those people.  No, I'm kidding.  I mean I'm jealous of those people, because I am not those people.

You see, I was raised by a co-dependent, mind game playing,  fucking crazy lady (my mother, not my ex-stepmother)and I blame everything on her.  I'm kidding....about the blaming everything on her part.  I do use it to explain, not complain, about why I might be a bit crazy.  Just like the eloquent hooker in Pretty Woman, after you've been put down enough, the bad stuff is easier to believe.

(I won't lie to you, this is a pretty poignant clip from a pretty non-poignant movie.)

So, feeling like a loser, I consider myself a hustler for the good stuff in life.  I've quoted Elizabeth Gilbert's idea from Eat, Pray, Love about "tap dancing for pennies of affirmation" before and I kind of love her for that quote.  Kind of wish my dad would've married someone like her all those years ago.

All this hustling is a coping skill you see. My brother and I have talked about how we have an "I'll show you attitude" about life.  I guess you might call it a giant chip on our shoulders.  

When I was training for a marathon a couple years ago, part of my motivation was to prove all the haters that I could finish the damn thing.  Did I have haters?  I don't know for sure.

But with the help of Kanye and Eminem on my ipod, I will tell you that anger helped me get through the first 14 miles of the race. Half-way through however, it all changed.

I stopped being angry.  I stopped caring about the supposed haters/doubters.  The songs on my ipod were happy, upbeat love songs.  My last few miles I was fist-pumping and waving at the crowd like I was in a god damn parade.  Like I was something to be admired.  Like I knew what I was doing.  Like I had a good idea.  Like I was something special. 

That's right, I am about to make the whole marathon of life metaphor.  Even as I type this I am wondering if you, the readers are hating it...and I am about to say well, screw you.  But then I worry and hope you like it, maybe love it and I want to scream thank you.  

Anyway, in this whole race of life I hope I accept the ebbs and flows, the certainties and complete uncertainties, the haters and the lovers.

I am about to go to my first blog conference, called Blissdom.  I leave in a day and a half.  I feel all kinds of crazy--not professional enough to attend, guilty about leaving my family for days, pissed that I feel unprofessional and guilty, tired from the past few weeks of a lot of heavy life stuff, happy that I get a shot at making blog connections, silly for feeling like a blogging poser and so much more.

As I think about what to pack and worry that I have flimsy, unprofessional business cards, I want someone to say something horrible to me.  Tell me I can't do it or say the dreaded "who do you think you are?"  Help me get that chip on my shoulder....without it, I am a mushy, insecure mess.  Okay, even with it I am, but at least I am angry and think I will prove my haters wrong.

In my old house I had a wall of words in my bathroom---a place dedicated to quotes I love. Quotes that have meant or mean something powerful to me.  And it was one of the first things I did in my new house, my new bathroom, my new wall of words.

A wall to share quotes like this:

One way or another.  Even if it's only the lyrics to a stupid pop hit.  We're going to right the world and live. I mean live our lives the way lives were meant to be lived. With the throat and wrists. With rage and desire and joy and grief and love till it hurts. But goddamn, girl, Live.

Sigh.  I love that quote.  It sounds manic, but I love it.

The good, the bad, the ugly.  The certain, the insecure, the haters, the lovers.  They all matter.  Knowing that, I am going to keep doing things that make me uncomfortable, fight through my doubt and laugh when things aren't perfect (like my shitty fake business cards) after I cry first of course.  It may be messy, but goddamn, I am going to live.  Haters can suck it (awww, there's that old chip again).

Monday, February 20, 2012

You Will Remember This

My cousins and I used to play hours and hours of a game called Ghosts and Graveyards, the couch in their basement was base.  We also spent a lot of time playing Hide and Seek, a homemade version of The Price Is Right, and more.  We had sleepovers in the middle of our living room with all of our sleeping bags lined up beside one another.

My dad would sometimes read us stories or chapters of stories, like from Watership Down.  Yeah, no Goodnight Moon in our house. 

We didn't live in the same state as my cousins and we only saw each other a few times a year.  But those games, those sleepovers, those moments meant the world to us.  We were close.  I am still close to my cousin, even though we still don't live in the same state.

This past weekend, my sister was visiting from out of state. As we lined up the sleeping bags one by one for our own kids' sleepover we reminisced about all of our cousin time.  All the good memories and moments.

"Enjoy this, you will remember this for the rest of your life," I told them as I turned out the lights on their slumber party.  They looked confused so I told them about some of the stuff Aunt Dana and I used to do with our cousins.  

"We didn't have movies we could watch on tv," I explained.  "No computer, no ipad, no video games."  They all sat with their mouths hanging wide open, truly horrified.  

Chuckling as I went back downstairs to drink wine and visit with my sister, I thought maybe I should make more of an effort to unplug the kids, wondering if they lacked imagination because of all their video, computer-ness.  Wondering if they were missing the moments, missing the memories.

The next day I got out the paint and was worried they would balk and ask if they could play Wii instead.  But they didn't.  They created.  They imagined.  They had fun.  And then they played Wii and games on the ipad.  

The cousins had fun together with the computer and without.  

JT made a new best friend, my sister's dog Ginger.  

And yes, the campaign to convince me to get the family a dog has begun. The campaign manager is of course my dog-loving husband.  

And by the looks of my sweet son's smile with that dog, I am in trouble.

After the cousins left to go home, my kids were sad.  I planned a movie for the older kids to distract them.  We went to see Hugo, a f*#*ing amazing movie.  

Part of the movie focuses on what everyone's purpose in life is.  Lucy leaned over to me, pushing her 3-D glasses up on her nose, and said, "Your purpose is to write mommy and mine is to make people laugh."

I grabbed her hand and squeezed it as we both stared back at the big screen.  Enjoy this, I thought to myself, I will remember this for the rest of my life.

And by the way, go see this movie.  It's about stories, dreams, family, friendship, memories, love and hope.  Kind of like my weekend (only it's visually impressive and directed by Scorsese).

Friday, February 17, 2012

So Much To Love

What's love got to do with it?

Oh, just about everything.
It may sound like I am complaining sometimes here on this blog and well, I am.  But that doesn't mean I don't love my kids, my husband, my life.  Because people I do.  I love my husband and my kids so much my heart feels like it will burst wide open. That love is why sometimes my worries are a little more worrisome, my fears are a little more fear-some.  

I know what I have is good, even with our financial stress bullshit, my crazy, mean mother and my complete, utter lack of ability to be organized.  There's still a lot about my life for me to love and I don't want to lose it or f*ck it up.

There's so much to love:

Like the fact that my pre-tween still wanted to do Valentine's Day Cards for his class party.

I love Lucy's idea of good fashion.  How could you not love her use of color and the Steelers socks?

And you can tell from the picture above, I am still loving my chalkboard wall in the new place.

I love that getting a real letter from Grandpa was the highlight of JT's week.

Not so crazy about my kids' love of tattoos, but I love their smiles after applying 500 of them before school.  (And no, we didn't have time to wash them off before we had to leave for that damn car loop.)

I love that Tim and I celebrated Valentine's Day on February 15th as we always do, by having take out from the restaurant we did on our first Valentine's together 14 years ago. I love the fact that even though life's not perfect, we still find so much joy in it.  Just look at Wade, still finding so much joy in the boxes that are still sitting around here unpacked.

And hey, guess what....I went regional and I love that! (Not quite the big time, but not bad.  See what I mean about the whole it ain't perfect, but we'll find joy kind of thinking?)  A blog post I wrote for the Rochester Patch went all HuffPost Detroit.  Ch-ch-check it out. It's about Whitney and addiction.  Click here.

Since this post is my post-Valentine's Day post all about love, here's a Valentine's-like video from SoulPancake.  LOVE it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Word of The Week: A**hole

Lucy came over to me and asked if I knew that if I held my tongue and said "apple" it sounded like a bad word.  Gasp! What?  An oldie, but a goodie I guess if it's survived all these years. This scenario played out at my friend Steph's house last week, but a little different.  Her son came up to her and said "Did you know if you hold your tongue and say apple..." he started to explain.  "I can beat ya, asshole," she said boldly.  I love her.

At dinner the other night, one of the kids told a story about a kid that got sent to the office for calling another kid "asshole."  I just sighed with relief that it wasn't my kid.

Now what I am about to say might make a few people uncomfortable.   Here it goes...

My two-year-old can be a real a#*hole.  There it is.  Sorry but it's true. (It feels better not typing the whole thing out when in regards to the baby however.)
Awwwww, he's so cute.  

He may be cute, but a tad bit violent too.
Poor baby really doesn't stand a chance.  I mean he is just trying to make a name for himself in this family.  And sure I might be exaggerating a little with the name calling, but you see he likes to throw things--cars, toys, food and fits.  Last weekend he threw a book at Lucy.  She didn't duck in time and the book caught her in the eye.  

One scratched cornea and eye patch later, my husband and I agreed, the baby Wade can be an asshole.  (My husband will deny agreeing to that however.)

Here's a reminder of what he is dealing with and maybe a little insight into why he's a bit rough.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Camp Part Two-It's Never Too Late

So I went to camp with my kid last weekend.  

Click here to read about how amazing it was to connect with my kid, because this is not that post.

As I packed for camp, I worried about the whole "unplugged" aspect of it all--24 hours without my iphone?  And could I bring my sound machine, because sleep doesn't happen without that.  I worried that the camp would be too rustic and unheated.  And don't get me started on my feelings about nature.  (Click here for some back story.)

But my pal, Steph, reassured me that I would love camp.  And I trusted her, sort of, and set off for an adventure. On the long car ride there (really it was only 30 minutes), I wondered if my anxiety about camp involved more than just my fear of unplugging.  Guess what? There's always more to the story.

I went to fifth grade camp with my elementary school a million years ago and I remember it being a pleasant experience.  But I never went to summer camp.  It looked cool.  My cousin went to camp and came back with all these fun songs and great memories.  

Summer campers and camp counselors seemed very wholesome and wonderful to me, very grounded.  Something I didn't think I was.  My parents got divorced when I was 12 and I promptly quit the band, dance classes, the softball team and getting good grades.  All of a sudden I became a wannabe burnout.  My role models were all those trashy video vixens from the mid-eighties.    

I smoked cigarettes in the woods next to my middle school, stole my parents car, threw parties at my house,  drank a lot of alcohol and did other things that even I don't feel comfortable sharing here.  All BEFORE high school.  Tough, too cool for school, trying to be way too grown up before I even got braces.

By the time I was 14 I felt guilty for so many of the things I had done and my bad behavior, I felt like there was no turning back.  So yeah it's safe to say I sure as hell wasn't a very grounded kid, but wholesome and wonderful I think I still could've been.

But here's my lesson to all you wholesome, grounded, wonderful wannabes--it's never too late.

Sure at camp last weekend I felt a little bit like the Ally Sheedy character in The Breakfast Club...misunderstood, dark and twisty, weird, but sweet and creative if you gave her a chance.  Middle school/high school shit is hard to shake out of you sometimes.

But after being at the camp for just a little while, things started to get really good.  It was fun.  We helped the kids unpack and I got a room where I could plug in my sound machine (yay!). The campfire was amazing.  The kids told jokes and sang songs.  Several of the chaperones had to go help push a car up a hill (it was a very snowy night) and my pal Steph and I ended up leading some of the songs.  Without a real camping background, I was at a bit of a I led the kids in a fantastic version of "Celebration."  When in doubt, Kool and the Gang is always a safe bet.  Not very church camp, but hey remember where I'm coming from, at least I wasn't singing Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil."

It just kept getting better--there was gym time with fun games, ghost stories, nature walks, cafeterias, crafts, sharing and more.
This is my pipe cleaner craft.  We had to make something out of seven pipe cleaners that described us: mine was a big heart, that is a bit dark and twisty inside, but full of love for my four babies.  I don't know if the kids got it when I shared it with the group. (Remember I never claimed to be crafty....this is not a craft blog, obviously.)

After settling the kids in their bunks, the chaperones met in the main room to hang out and talk.  
Look at these wholesome and wonderful snacks, albeit not very healthy.

We stayed up until 3 a.m. talking about all sorts of silly things and important things.  It really was a little like The Breakfast Club because we were all very different people coming together and having this bonding experience.

It was just all good.   My inner 14 year-old bad ass inner child finally felt worthy.  Just like how I discovered running in my 30s and felt like an athlete for the first time, it's never too late. It's never too late. And just so you know, I didn't leave the bad ass all the way behind...I tweeted from my bunk bed and talked during the silent nature walks.  Yup, there's still a rebellious part of me too.

We (I mean me and Steph) re-enacted the dance scene from The Breakfast Club--yup we did all the parts.  We are totally fun campers for real.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Camp Part One--Connecting with my Kid

Last weekend I went to camp.  I signed up was signed up by my pal Steph.  She excitedly wrote both our names down to be chaperones at our kids' church retreat.  It sounded like a great idea, but the closer it got, the more apprehensive I felt.

It's no secret that my oldest child, my most serious and thoughtful 10-year-old son, Peyton has started to pull away.  Not in any abnormal dark and twisty way.  In the I am one year away from middle school way.  My jokes are embarrassing.  He leaves the room when we start to dance in the kitchen.  He rolls his eyes just a little, calls me "mom" instead of "mommy" and is almost as tall as me (which isn't too tall, but still a little crazy for me).  

For years I've been telling sarcastic jokes to my imaginary friend.  You know like when the little kids tell me they are not going to brush their teeth ever again and they've decided to wear socks on their hands forever; I laugh a little and say "okay, great, see how that works out for you" under my breath.  Nothing too harmful or scary.  But now when I make those comments I hear laughter.  The littler kids still run away unaware that I might be making fun of them a little and excited about their brilliant idea to wear socks on their hands, but Peyton gets it.  Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.  

Even though I do get a laugh when I am making fun of his brothers and sisters, he rarely laughs at anything else I do. And I get it, I shouldn't be making fun of anyone to bond with him.

And to be honest, I don't need him to think I'm funny or cool.  I need him to know he can talk to me, trust me.  We need to stay connected, because I know it will not get easier during the teen years.  And quite frankly, I can't get much cooler.

So, when Peyton, my shy, not really happy about trying new things son wanted to go to the church retreat and didn't mind that I would be chaperoning, I jumped at the chance.  Okay, maybe I didn't jump, but I felt hopeful.

I'm not a girl who gets really psyched about new things either, wonder where my poor son gets it. I like sleeping in my own bed, with my sound machine and waking up and to have a cup of coffee in the same cup every morning.  So as the day got closer I asked Peyton, "Are you sure you want to go to camp?  And you are okay with me going?"  He did and he was, so I packed.

It turned out to be the perfect scenario- we were together, but not too together.  You see, I could help out and be around, but I wasn't all up in his business.  He slept on the boys' side of the cabin with the dad chaperones and I got a swanky (I use this term lightly) middle room where I could plug in my sound machine (diva behavior alert).  

I got to to watch my quiet son have fun, sing songs, tell jokes, play catch, go on nature walks and more with his friends.  And he saw me devoting my time to his friends and him, helping to make the trip fun and meaningful for his friends and him. 
It just happened to be the snowiest and coldest weekends we've had here this winter. 

The highlight of the retreat was at the campfire when my very own son requested that I sing "Sama Kama Wacky Brown" (An old Brothers Four song my parents used to sing when I was little, that I now sing to my children; but couldn't find on YouTube to share with you, but trust me it's fabulous(-ly silly).) to the group.  And you better believe I brought the house down with dance moves and vocal range (if I do say so myself).  

Peyton was watching with a smile, not the "god mom, you are so dumb" smile.  It was a "you are a goof ball, but I'm glad you're here mom" smile.  I might be wrong about it, but I don't think so.

So very glad I went on the retreat even though I didn't sleep much (Read more about that in the next installment Camp Part Two coming tomorrow. Yup, a teaser!) and didn't have my normal coffee cup.  I connected with my kid and that feels great.

On a totally different note...I think you should subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Jumping W/My Fingers Crossed, click here to ch-ch-check it out.  There's a bunch of fun videos I've featured here on the blog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

When I saw the headline I gasped.  Whitney Houston dead.  I was surprised not so much by her death, but by my shock.  C'mon, I mean who was surprised....really?  Sad. Yes. But we all knew she hadn't lived the healthiest lifestyle (i.e. "crack is whack" moment, everything we saw on the reality show "hell to the no") for years.  Of course we were all hoping for a comeback, but my shock at her death surprised me.

People talk about the soundtrack of their lives or songs that remind them of their childhood or teenage years.  For a lot of us, that was Whitney.  Right when I started thinking about boys as more than just friends "How Will I Know" was my anthem.  The summer I started wearing a bikini to the pool and thinking I was pretty cute "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" was playing on my pink jam box.

I was a nervous teenager wondering what "we're at war" was all about when Whitney sang "The Star Spangled Banner" at the SuperBowl.  I daydreamed about going to the Olympics or winning anything as I listened to "One Moment In Time."

In college, her movie and soundtrack for The Bodyguard came out.  After years of trying to figure out my complicated relationship with my mother, Whitney's powerful version of "I Will Always Love You" became my anthem.  While most of my friends were using it as their anthem for a lost love or bad breakup, it helped me create boundaries (at least a few) and let go (at least a little)of my mother all those years ago.

I'm sure I'm not alone.  As we think about all the memories we have associated with Whitney's music, it all comes rushing back.  I'm not surprised she died.  But I sure am sad.  Sad for her and her family.  Sad that she had demons.  Sad that her demons will be analyzed for weeks in the media, but five million prescriptions will still be handed over to addicts everywhere celebrities and non-celebrities alike.  Sad because people will talk about the enablers and place blame on people for a couple weeks and then forget. 

But people won't forget the songs and the memories.  

As I think about her life, I think about my past.  I think about sweet memories and some tough ones.  And some fun ones.  

One of my favorite things to do to blow off steam used to be to crank up Whitney's song "It's Not Right, But It's Okay" and lip sync, yes in my kitchen.  You should try it, in honor of Whitney and all the moments that she sang for the soundtrack of our lives.  I'm going to do it today for sure.

(I've even written about how Whitney songs have impacted my current life--like this time I Believe The Children Are Our Future and It's So Not the Worst and Crack is Whack.)

Beautiful version of "How Will I Know."

Jennifer Hudson's amazing tribute to Whitney on last night's Grammy Awards.

Last video, I promise.  Great Whitney performance from The Preacher's Wife.