Category Archives: News

Why I Don’t Miss Facebook

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I gave up Facebook a few weeks ago during one of the more stressful months in my life. I don’t miss it at all. After some reflection, I think being off Facebook has been good for me and has helped decrease my overall anxiety level. I have been moved by an outpouring of support from friends, many of whom expressed that they also think Facebook can be detrimental to the psyche.

The problem with Facebook, one of my friends told me, is that it’s a highlight reel of people’s lives. It only shows the positive aspects instead of the daily struggles. Why? Because people are only compelled to share uplifting or funny things on Facebook. That’s the content that gets the most likes and comments, after all.

Being off of Facebook, I have come closer to an understanding of my own narcissistic nature. I’m not a complete narcissist (not the kind of self-absorbed jerk people hate), but I now recognize that I have narcissistic tendencies.

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I grew up in a somewhat political household. Many of my relatives have served in public office and were absolutely wonderful people that you could depend on. I was raised with the idea that perception is everything. Perception is reality. You don’t reveal the less than pretty parts of yourself ever, because it affects people’s positive perception of you. Positive perception = votes (or likes!).

It  really matters to me what people think of me. That is why it took me so many years to reveal to people, even close loved ones, that I am diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I struggle with it daily. In the Irish Catholic household I grew up in, you simply didn’t talk about those things.

I suppose it’s no wonder I pursued public relations and marketing as a career. Because I worry so much about perception, I have a knack for knowing what people think about a particular thing and how best to adjust that thinking (if needed).

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Anyway, on Facebook, I think my narcissistic nature took over. I began obsessing over how many likes or comments I got on posts. Getting likes made me feel, well, liked. I like it when people like me! It satisfies my narcissistic nature.

I learned that most people don’t like serious and/or depressing posts. After all, they are driven to social media to escape. Many people are on social media during work hours for that very reason. People are on social media to be entertained. If you’re not entertaining and positive, you unliked, unfollowed, and sometimes unfriended.

We all hear the same complaints. “Ugh… I’m so tired of Tim’s depressing posts. Why can’t he just lighten up?” or, “I unfollowed Jill today. Her political posts are so annoying!”

And I totally understand. I’ve done it myself.

But then that sort of attitude forces people to make their lives appear to be all sunshine and roses. And due to how Facebook organizes your news feed now, most of the things your friends see are the sunshine and roses of your life. Those posts get bumped up in the news feed because they get more likes, comments, and shares.

But life isn’t all sunshine and roses. I feel that we really need to address that in social media. Lately there have been more news stories about people who have committed suicide and left family and friends wondering, “Why? She seemed just fine.” The most troubling story I saw was about star athlete Madison Holleran, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania who took a running leap off a parking garage in Philadelphia. Her Instagram documented a happy, healthy, and successful college student. Hardly anyone had a clue how much this girl was struggling, and therefore couldn’t help her.

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A photo from Madison Holleran’s Instagram account.

In the past few weeks, I’ve thought of what I’m going to call “social media truth posts” (hashtag #socialmediatruth) that tell people what’s been really going on in my life:

  1. My husband and I have absolutely no savings right now (due to the recent drama with our Jeep that I detailed in another post).
  2. I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed in my entire life, and I’m really embarrassed about it. It has to do with a number of factors, but mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of stress eating lately and I’m on medication that increases my hunger and slows my metabolism.
  3. I can’t fit into most of my clothes anymore and can’t really afford to purchase more clothing, so I’m wearing essentially the same outfits to work every week.
  4. My face has exploded with mini, pus-filled volcanoes (acne) that are also due to stress. It is so humiliating that I can barely look at people I work with and hope they don’t interact with me.
  5. I am probably more depressed than I’ve ever been in my life (more on this in a future post).

However, there have been some positives:

  1. We purchased a 2013 Nissan Versa to replace the Jeep. It’s a very nice car, and has been very reliable so far. We are already saving a lot of money on gas.
  2. My husband has been incredibly supportive as we’ve gone through this rough patch.
  3. I feel like I’m connecting with family and friends on a more real level (outside Facebook).
  4. My anxiety has gone down significantly.
  5. I’ve been reading more! In the past couple of weeks, I’ve finished Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren.

Just for fun, I’m sharing this picture with you. It’s what I would post to Facebook with the #socialmediatruth hashtag. It’s me after applying a Proactiv mask to the areas of my face where I have acne right now.  #nofilter #soglamorous

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And here’s a picture to go with my positive statements: our new car in front of our favorite liquor store, Lincoln Liquors. It’s Baby Nissan’s first trip to the packie!

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So there you have it: my real life with all of its ups and downs. Maybe you can relate. If so, I’m glad. And I invite you to share your ups and downs with me too. Feel free to comment or message me (just don’t message me on Facebook, because I’m not checking it at all).

I might come back to Facebook someday, but not for the time being. When/if I do, it will be my goal to be as honest as possible with my posts, and show my world outside of the one that is seen with rose-colored glasses (Hashtag #KeepingItReal).

Bill Cosby Headlines Should Change “Sex” to “Rape”

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The justice system, society, and the media continue to fail rape victims, as we see in the huge “I told you so” that occurred today: documents were released showing that Bill Cosby admitted to giving Quaaludes to women so he could rape them.

Why does it take one deposition record being released vs. 30+ women who came forward (most of whom had ZERO opportunity for financial gain) for us to be convinced that Bill Cosby is a monster?

Because that’s what rape culture is.

And now, due to this culture, headlines are reading that Cosby drugged women “to have sex with him.”

Cosby didn’t drug women to have sex with him. The very word WITH assumes that consent is involved.

Cosby had sex ON women, not with them.

He raped them.

And now I’m asking every news publication I see using the word “sex” in relation to Cosby to please correct their headline to read “rape” instead.

And you know what? This hurts me. I grew up watching The Cosby Show and idolized Mr. Cosby as a family man and a role model for all.

I also took pride in the fact that Bill obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees from the same school I pursued my undergraduate degree, UMass Amherst.

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But now that pride has turned to shame.

As I was looking for a picture to go with this post, I saw so many pictures of Mr. Cosby smiling. And I was temporarily forgetful and nostalgic, thinking of all the times he made me laugh growing up.

But it doesn’t change what he did to so many women.

I am truly saddened. Especially for the women affected.

July 4th Revelers: Label Your Alcohol for Friends in Recovery

First of all, Happy 4th of July, everyone!

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I just wanted to provide a friendly reminder for your July 4th festivities: be sure to label all of the alcoholic items you provide at your party for your friends in recovery.

It can be easy to mistake booze for non-alcoholic beverages, and innocent-looking dessert items as alcohol-free. The reason I’m providing this reminder is because I have a brother who is in recovery. Last year, we went to a family party and there was a large beverage dispenser full of sangria. Because it wasn’t labeled, he initially mistook it for fruit punch and poured himself a cup.

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He was in recovery for about three years at that point. And thank God he took a whiff of the drink before taking a sip, or else he would have risked relapsing. After smelling it, he asked me to taste it and tell me what it was. It was definitely sangria. I just about died thinking about how something so ordinary could automatically reverse the three years of progress in recovery. My brother works so hard to stay sober, and I felt a bit miffed at the party hosts, who knew my brother was in recovery but didn’t bother to tell him that the fruit punch-looking drink was sangria.

My brother wasn’t the only one who mistook the sangria for fruit punch. My 7-year-old nephew also tried pouring himself a cup of what he thought was fruit punch. We had to redirect him to the Hawaiian Punch in the cooler that was set aside for the kids at the party.

There are other things you need to watch out for. Not Your Father’s Root Beer is a popular drink right now. It’s alcoholic, but doesn’t really taste like it has alcohol in it.

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Be sure to label this as well. A person in recovery could easily mistake this for ordinary root beer.

Also be sure to label any desserts made with alcohol. While it is true that some of the alcohol is baked out, there are other desserts that have alcohol in their frosting, which is not baked out. Italian Rum Cake is a perfect example.

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It just seems like ordinary cake, and you wouldn’t know it had alcohol in it until you took a bite.

Please be sure to label all of your alcoholic items with a “Contains Alcohol” sign for your friends in recovery and people who haven’t reached the legal age to consume alcohol.

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And please have a happy and safe 4th of July, everyone!

In the Spirit of Robin Williams, I Will Try to Bring More Joy Into the World

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I’ve been feeling angry lately. Some of it has to do with getting over a chronic cold and not being able to abide by my normal routine of working out, cooking food that isn’t crap, and being social.

But a lot of it also has to do with the fact that I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook. I scroll through my phone and sigh at depressing news headlines, read hateful comments with disgust, and sometimes offer my own color commentary. Commentary which typically reads like a mathematical equation of why I think so-and-so is an idiot.

There is so much hatred and divisiveness in our world. And I know I’m part of the problem.

This week, Robin Williams’ death was officially deemed a suicide.

When Robin died in August, it really affected me. I knew about Robin’s history with mental illness and addiction. And I always sympathized with him, because I also struggle with mental illness. Coincidentally, I am on the same depression medication that Robin was taking before he died.

When Robin died, I couldn’t help thinking, “Is there still hope for me? Will I eventually end up in the same boat? Despite all the medication and the various treatments, will it one day just be too much to take?”

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According to reports, it seems that Williams’ suicide could have been due to several factors: a combination of mental illness and a form of dementia that could cause hallucinations. There were no drugs or alcohol in his system. Just normal levels of anti-depressant medication and caffeine.

But that evening in August, I sat in our home office and sobbed uncontrollably, wondering if it was all hopeless. I watched the clip of Robin’s brilliant, Oscar-winning performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting and how expertly he cut Matt Damon’s character to the core with his character’s brutal honesty and life experiences. I could see Williams channel both the dark and light side of himself into that unforgettable character.

Then I saw someone share a clip from the movie Hook. It was the scene where one of the lost boys takes Robin’s face in his hands, examines it, pushes it into a smile, and declares, “Oh there you are, Peter!” The person who shared it said, “This scene kind of depicts what people like him suffering from mental illness need. Someone who sees who they really are and will stand on their side… no matter what.”

Oh man. That one really got me.

Tuesday was Veterans Day and my husband watched Black Hawk Down. After watching it, he said, “Man, that was sad. I could really use a happier Veterans Day movie.”

“What about Good Morning Vietnam? That’s kind of happy,” I offered.

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So we put it on. And as Robin belted his famous, “GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM!!!” and hammered through that brilliant first monologue, I became teary-eyed from both laughter and sadness. There he was, being Robin, dishing joke after joke and doing what he did best: making people smile and laugh. I know the movie is a work of fiction loosely based on a real person. But to think of it… his character’s antics boosted morale in what was the worst place on earth.

And that’s what Robin Williams did throughout his career. He boosted our morale through good times and bad. He took his pain and instead of letting it destroy him, he breathed joy and happiness into the world. He encouraged us to not take life so seriously. He inspired us to be kinder to each other.

I think that was part of Robin’s personal regimen for keeping his mental illness at bay. I know I’ve used humor myself to cope with depression and anxiety. Humor helps me forget. And if I can make someone else laugh in the process, that brings me joy. And it makes me feel like I have a purpose.

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But I know I haven’t been that person lately. And due to that, I’ve questioned my purpose.

Glenn Beck also made the news this week, with the revelation that he has suffered and undergone treatment for a neurological disorder.

While I feel sorry for Mr. Beck, I think he is an example of someone who has used his gifts to inspire more hatred and division in this world. I hope that changes. Maybe it will now that he is well. But time can only tell.

Robin suffered as well, but he used his gifts to bring people joy. And that’s not what killed him. I think that’s what kept him alive for 63 years.

This week I decided that I want to be more like Robin was. I want to try to bring people more joy instead of bringing them down. I want to stop arguing with people so much and dismissing them for ridiculous reasons. Instead, I want to make them laugh. I want to encourage them. I want that to be my legacy.

It’s worth it to at least try to leave the world a happier place than it was when you entered it. I’m going to try.

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Introducing Dick, The Asshole

It’s October and I’m frankly tired of pink. It’s so overdone and I don’t think wearing pink really honors or helps breast cancer fighters. But that’s just cynical, awful me.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The official color for the month is purple. I really would prefer the NFL ditch the pink gloves and make a monumental donation to the issue that so recently shamed them and continues to trouble them.

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Domestic violence month is important to me. I’ve known more women affected by domestic and dating violence than breast cancer (but that doesn’t mean one issue is important than the other). I also personally knew a young woman whose life was stolen by an ex-boyfriend with a gun.

I was in an abusive relationship myself at one point. It became mildly physical only a couple of times. I was really lucky. Most of the relationship consisted of emotional and verbal abuse.

And you know what? I verbally and emotionally abused him too, in response to his consistent insults and controlling behavior. Because I thought, at 18 years old, that is what couples do. Couples fight. They don’t agree all the time. That mindset made it really difficult for me to recognize that what I was experiencing was abusive behavior.

Fortunately, I was able to leave the relationship without much consequence and I didn’t end up marrying him.

My favorite organizations that support domestic and dating violence victims are:

The Shannon Lee Meara Foundation – educating high school students about dating and domestic violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
New Hampshire Coalition for Domestic and Sexual Violence

Please donate if you can.  Here’s part 1 of my story.

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This is how I met Dick* The Asshole.

*name changed so he can’t sue me.

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Wednesday, 3/7/01 12:34 a.m.

I met someone. I met someone who is really nice and actually smells good, too. (I broke up with my last boyfriend because he had terrible hygiene. True story.) He might have a personality also… but I will have to get to know him a little better before I decide on that one.

His name is Dick. He is an average male height with black hair and mysterious brown eyes. He has a sly smile and a passive walk. He doesn’t stick out. He tries to blend in and not be noticed.

Yesterday we played pool. I thought I was okay at it, simply out of practice, until he taught me how to actually shoot. He kept criticizing my every move. I almost wanted to go somewhere and cry, but I held my own. His advice and constructive criticism were helpful. He said, “It doesn’t matter if you get the ball in, as long as you have a good shot.”

“I feel the same way,” I said. “I usually only play pool just to feel myself hitting the ball.”

“Me too,” he said. “I don’t really care about the game itself.”

He won all three games. But I suppose I’m just a beginner.

Then we went to dinner. We talked about religion and found that we have the same beliefs. We are both Christian. He was so excited that we have the same beliefs. I’m happy too, but even though I believe in God, I’m not that religious. That is, I don’t let religion take over my entire life. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite. I don’t know. But Dick is definitely one of those people where religion is like, his life.

Oh well. Maybe he can lead me closer to God. But yeah… we talked about religion and stuff and he is really, really nice. He paid for dinner and opened doors and all.

I am hopeful. Perhaps this will lead to something good.

Thursday, 3/15/01 7:55 a.m.

I don’t really know where to start. I was talking to Dick last night and we began talking about how some of our friends and family are going to hell because they don’t serve God and that we need to help them change.

This is what I hate most about my religion… changing everybody and realizing that a lot of people I know are going to hell. I can’t stand it. It makes me want to cast away my beliefs, reject everything that’s true and go to hell with them.

I got angry at Dick because he told me I need to lessen my association with my best friends because they are going to lead me into temptation. He said that I needed to tell them that they’re all wrong because they don’t believe in God. I got so angry… I told him I had to go. He wouldn’t let me go. He wouldn’t let me go…

He wanted to know what was wrong with me. I began to cry, saying it was too hard to be a Christian. That I couldn’t do it. That I just want it all to be easy again.

I am going to be hated by most everybody I know… and I don’t want that. I cried out of love for my friends, my family, and Dick. Even though he was making this so difficult and trying to make me speak through my tears, I loved him. He was trying to do something good for me. He was trying to encourage me. He said that he only wanted the best for me and didn’t want to see me fall into sin because I’m such a great person.

I cried and cried, but I loved him. His words encouraged me and made me feel so much better.

He said that no matter what, he and I would always be friends. Even if it doesn’t work out relationship-wise. He said he would always be there for me, day or night. He would be near me in a second if something went wrong.

I cried so much, and I think it was because I was angry, but weak with my love for him. I was totally helpless. I knew he was right.

Dolly Parton is a Feminist Icon

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Oh, Dolly. You are just my favorite.

That’s why I was so excited when I found you on the cover of the June/July issue of BUST Magazine and immediately purchased a copy.

And who belongs on the cover of BUST more than you do? No one. You busty goddess, you.

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Can’t. Look. Away.

And the article about you was great. I could tell that the writer loved you and thought you obviously belonged in the feminist canon. Even though you don’t call yourself a feminist, I think you’re one fantastic lady who has inspired many women to be strong, funny, caring and hard-working.

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But in the Editor’s Letter near the beginning of the magazine, Editor-In-Chief Debbie Stoller admits, “…I’m afraid I may have been absent the day [Parton] became a feminist icon…. whether she belongs on a feminist pedal has resulted in at least one debate/shouting match here at BUST.

Which immediately made me roll my eyes. I understand where Stoller is coming from, but I am always weary of feminist in-fighting and the whole “She’s more feminist/she’s not feminist enough” bullshit. It’s counterproductive to the movement.

I mentioned this to my husband over breakfast and he also thought it was ridiculous to argue about whether or not Dolly Parton is a feminist icon. “Obviously she is. Just listen to her music,” he said. “Women can be their own worst enemies. With men, a similar conversation would go something like this:

‘Hey dude, you wanna be part of a masculine movement?’

‘Word, bro. Pound it.'”

And as he says this, I’m imagining Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill pounding fists and not giving a second thought about who belongs in the masculine movement with them.

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Bros for Life.

Feminism, to me, is really about women and men coming together and supporting each other. Who cares if Dolly Parton looks like a Barbie doll and has had more plastic surgery than probably anyone? That’s how she wants to look, and if looking like that makes you feel good, rock on (or country on, in Dolly’s case).

BUST Writer Lisa Butterworth puts all of our concerns to rest by quoting Gloria Steinem, who praised Parton in a 1987 issue of Ms. Magazine, calling her a woman who “has turned all the devalued symbols of womanliness to her own ends.”

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Dolly has always been the first to make fun of herself, which is evident when she jokes that she models her look after the “town tramp.” I think, with everything Dolly Parton has accomplished, even the town tramp can be worthy of the title “Feminist Icon.”

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The Oh-So-Quoteable Dolly

A couple of Dolly quotes from the BUST article I particularly enjoyed:

“I don’t care what people do. I’m not God and I’m not a judge and I just accept people. I try to find the God-like in everybody and respond to that. I just love people and we’re all God’s children so I don’t pass judgment on anything or anybody. I just look for the fun and the joy and the light in everybody.”

“Yes, I’ve always been a dreamer and I’ve always tried. And dreams are special things. But dreams are of no value if they’re not equipped with wings and feet and hands and all that. If you’re gonna make a dream come true, you gotta work it. You can’t just sit around. That’s a wish. That’s not a dream. “

This Fuckin’ Guy: Justin Mateen

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Whitney Wolfe, Co-Founder of Tinder

I wrote this post back in July, when the sexual harassment allegations against Tinder CMO Justin Mateen were publicized. Now, as it turns out, Mateen has resigned and Tinder C0-Founder Whitney Wolfe is moving on to pursue new opportunities.

It’s goin’ down. I’m yellin’ Tindeeerrrrrr…

Not like I knew what the fuck Tinder was until a couple of months ago, since I’m happily married and, you know, 31 (fucking ancient). But now the popular dating (*ahem* hook-up) app is in deep doo-doo over allegations that female co-founder Whitney Wolfe was sexually harassed and discriminated against by co-founder Justin Mateen and CEO Sean Rad.

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Justin Mateen. Look at this guy. He just oozes douche.

I know everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, but I don’t really give a shit. Here is only a snippet of what this guy allegedly called Wolfe while they were working together (they also dated, but I don’t think that matters):

  • A whore – in front of several co-workers at a company party;
  • A desperate loser who jumps from relationship to relationship;
  • A joke;
  • A gold digger;
  • A disease;
  • A slut who needed to be watched if she were to keep her job.

Wow. And you wonder why she broke up with you?

Check out more of what Mateen said, directly from the complaint Wolfe filed.

What. A. Douche.

I was also interested to learn how Wolfe co-founded the company and what she did to lead it to the success it enjoys today. Wolfe’s efforts deserve a lot more respect than what she has experienced.

Here’s hoping that Wolfe will win the case. But in the meantime, I think she can take comfort in this fact:

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Don’t Like My Boston Accent? Go Fahk Yaself.

Classes are now being offered in the Boston area so people can learn to shed their accents. This is just another example of how gentrification and classism are affecting the Boston area, where I grew up and currently reside.

Yeah, let’s all make ourselves sound alike because the world isn’t boring enough.

I don’t understand why the people in the video above believe having a Boston accent threatens your success. We’ve had a U.S. President with a Boston accent (who also had quite the potty mouth- see below).

In addition to using his dirty mouth to be a fantastic womanizer, President John F. Kennedy used it to express his displeasure with government minions.

Many other people from Massachusetts, including business leaders, actors, entrepreneurs, and more have experienced incredible success while dropping their R’s and cussing like sailors.

It surprises me when even people from the Boston area turn their noses up at people with thick Boston accents, as if it makes them sound low class. What I have to say to those people: Most of the old, blue collar guys you’re making fun of are making more than you on a union wage and benefits. So shut the fuck up, hipster.

My Dad, who graduated from Harvard and is the smartest guy I know, would totally fail this class.

What do you think about classes that encourage people to lose their Boston accents? Will it help people be more successful or help stamp out a cultural phenomenon?