Throughout the last seven years, there have been all of five negative comments posted, but many, many more positive ones. I always love getting your feedback and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate those of you who take the time to make a comment or send me a message through my contact page. Like most professional websites today, I now have someone reviewing comments for approval. That started last year, when three of the five negative comments showed up from the same fake IP address. Turns out, the real IP originated in Georgia. No shock, so did several attempts to steal my identity. Ah, the joys of the 21st century!
Analytics allows for me to check IP addresses from comments made as far back as 2010; it's pretty incredible when you think about it. There are also new apps available that let any website block questionable IP addresses. I'm learning so much from analytics; even what you all put in my search bar shows up. Sometimes, it's almost as if you're trying to send me a message....
My website has it's own email if you want to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org
The contact page will take you to the same place. Though I built this site myself and generally make most of the updates, I do have several people who help me with all that these days. The last two years have provided lots of distraction and I am WAY behind on updates. Figured it couldn't hurt to have a few friends sign on as administrators. But I promise, if you want to get in touch, your emails are completely confidential.
Thanks to analytics, I've also gotten to see the most visited blog posts. I'm always amazed at what people look at. Years after something is written, hundreds of you look for certain posts. Having a seven year history, I know some of you are looking for posts from 2014 with titles like, "Broken." You'll find a different piece with the same name written within days of the 2014 piece from 2011. Uncanny to read the 2011 essay and see how, at the very least, my life has been consistent.
Where did the 2014 piece entitled, "Broken," go?
Like several categories, that essay was removed. I'll sometimes take down pieces to edit or review them. Especially essays that are no longer relevant. Think of it like removing inventory from a shelf in a store. When a product doesn't sell, it gets taken off the shelves. Luckily, I've been able to keep my website clear of advertising clutter. So far. Everything you read is still totally "free."
Since so many of you are going back in time, you should know that, just like you, things I wrote before today may include ideas and opinions I no longer agree with. Experience changes what we think. Change shows evolution, growth. And, not every essay I write is about my life. A good example is the very popular essay from December 2014 defining "Svengali" relationships. I've never had one myself. But someone I love has been in a Svengali relationship for more than 13 years this summer. It breaks my heart. Out of sheer frustration, I wrote the essay to help, not only the person I love, but anyone else in my (now global!) audience who may be facing something similar.
For the most part, the majority of my essays are written and published because I think it may help someone else. That's why I share so much of my life. Because, we all feel alone in our struggles. But maybe, if you read about some of mine, you'll feel less lonely. You'll know there's at least one person, out of the seven billion on the planet, who understands.
I wrote a piece in October 2015 called "Free" that gets a fair number of hits. I lost a child in 2014; two weeks earlier, her father disappeared while I was visiting family for Thanksgiving. And, two weeks after my daughter died, arrows came flying into my house in Atlanta. Rough month. After seven more like it that included break-ins and other related criminal activity, it was clear my safety was in jeopardy. My job in Atlanta was as a professor at a State College. The activity always happened while I was teaching, or, supposed to be. When I wrote "Free," I believed Emma's father was a part of the difficulties that forced me to leave my home and job, literally running for my life. Today, I know he left to protect us from very dangerous people connected to his old life, a life he went back to in order to keep me safe. Unfortunately, when you give people that kind of power, it rewards negative behavior. That tends to cause more problems than it solves. Sometimes, things happen that are just unfair. That's when you have to strap on your breast plate and remember you're #WonderWoman. Now, where'd my #Superman go???
Haters are just cogs in the cosmic machine. If you keep that in mind, you'll always recognize their negative energy as a push forward.
Even though I write and speak about superheroes, I lack their many talents. Today, I'm no more "Free" than I was a year ago. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Like an avalanche, the hard part comes after all the "excitement," when you have to dig your way out and rebuild.The only thing I'm free of now is having to sleep and shower with a gun....
Despite all that, I started the #PositiveEnergy hashtag and trend on Twitter. And, have a new LLC named #SoulArrow. My clients are people you'd recognize from popular television shows and hopefully, you all will come out and support us at the promotional events we'll be starting this spring. All of that is a true miracle. My clients, like my students over the years, have become my family. I love and protect them and feel grateful for their friendship and support every day. As grateful as I feel to all of you.
Given the last year alone, my views on things like unconditional love have gone through a major transformation. I give that kind of love every day. And my capacity for compassion has expanded as well. Life is hard, y'all. You can survive anything but no one will love you for it. You won't be congratulated. No one will send you flowers. People will come at you from out of nowhere, trying to take everything you worked hard to get in the first place. The one thing people can't take away is your integrity. That's something you have to give up all on your own. I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. My debt is horrible. Not having a salary or a way to replace a job you had to unexpectedly leave has that affect. Things are getting better on my insides but I'm just one person. I can't fix every problem on my own. Baby steps. I'm getting there. And you know what??? Whatever big problems you're facing right now, you'll get there, too.
How do I know???
Just read my blog. Every few years, the good, the bad and the really ugly cycle through. No matter what happens, I push on. The trick to surviving is doing it long enough to thrive. Then, just when you think your troubles are behind you, something will happen. But, despite the innate difficulty that comes with actually living, it's much better to take those risks than to hide in a corner your whole life. Still, I have to admit, this last nightmare took it out of me. I'm not the same anymore...I'm even better now. Smarter. Faster. Stronger. And heck, girl can shoot!
My new refrain is #OneDay! Because I believe that #OneDay, all of this struggle will help me to help others in ways I can't yet imagine. My business plan includes helping communities, using small businesses, supporting local charities, and generally, leaving any city or town we visit a little better than before we arrived. My ultimate dream is to kick off this big tour with celeb pals for 3,000-5,000 seat venues. I'm working on sponsors right now and already have a number of fun companies on board, including Atlanta's own Goza Tequila! We hope to visit 21 American cities in two years. In every city where we sell 3,000 seats or more, we will donate $10,000 to a local charity. Imagine that??? In two years, we will have raised just under a quarter of a million dollars in charitable donations all across the United States.
And #OneDay, I'll be standing on a beach somewhere on Saturday, March 17, 2018 (11:11), the wind blowing through my hair, as I gaze out at the open ocean, and finally, breathe a sigh of relief. I'll be happy again. But it won't be until the next day that my life will truly begin. I'll be 46. But age is just a number. Especially if you're an immortal, like me. I mean, you've seen my pictures, right??? No Botox, no fillers, no surgery...it's starting to get weird. Like Benjamin Button or something. I look younger every year I've aged after 40. Must be something in that Fiji water. Or, all that organic eating. Maybe it's the 20-30 miles I bike every day???
On March 17, 2014, I was in Chicago after giving a talk for the Renaissance Society. Waiting for the shuttle to O'Hare in the hotel lobby, I was doing emails on my phone. One of the emails held some really bad news. I mean, devastating stuff. I think I just mentioned it in passing to most people, if I mentioned it all. Because, I was more concerned about my next Comic Con appearance happening a few weeks later. And, I'd just learned I had interviews at two campuses for new academic positions--one was in New Orleans, the other, Atlanta. Doctors had told me I was cleared to try for a baby, too. That devastating news barely made an impact. In fact, I felt lucky. Lucky to have a terrible chapter in my life close with some finality since there was so much to be thankful for in that moment. So much. Even more than I've said here. Of course, just eight months later, multiple tragedies struck again. More difficulties followed thereafter. Yet, I'm still here. Still me. And you're with me, too....
Looking at my analytics showed me just how many of you really are here. And, from so many different countries! I cried when I started looking last month. I really had no idea. People write to me all the time and tell me how something I published helped them in ways I could never have imagined. But you all help me more than you know, too. Just by showing up. Every word I write means something as a result. THAT is why I share so much of my life with you. You matter.
You matter so much that, even if I don't know you, I want you to know you're not alone. I want you to know you're no more of a freak or a geek than I am. And you know you can trust me because I'll tell you things about my life people don't usually want to share in a public forum. As I get older, I'm less comfortable with it than when I started this blog. You see, I have less time to correct my mistakes now. From here forward, I literally can't afford to trust people in the same way. Like I said, the last few years took something out of me. Stupidity, I think. But sadly, though my other resources have limits, my stupidity seems to have none.
Sharing my sense of humor doesn't hurt either....
*Thanks to Roy D. for sending along another great song idea...