Top Eight Grammar Mistakes

Sad but true fact: people judge you when you use poor grammar. I am one of them. Your writing is often one of the first things people see, whether it’s in an email, cover letter, resume, or even just a Facebook status. We all learned these rules in school, and if you didn’t get them then, or if you’re rusty, there’s still time.

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image credit

Let’s clear up the confusion, shall we?

1.) Should of, would of, could of

NO SUCH ANIMAL! You are hearing the sound “of” made by should’ve (should have), would’ve (would have), or could’ve (could have).

Examples: I would’ve brought you some Talenti gelato if I’d known you wanted some.

She should’ve told me she wasn’t coming.

2.) To, too, and two

To is a preposition, too means  “also,” or “in addition to,” and two is a number.

Examples: Let’s take the kids to the park this afternoon.

I have brown eyes, too.

He ate two pieces of pepperoni pizza.

3.) His, hers, its, theirs 

Possessive pronouns! No apostrophe required. Have you ever seen “her’s” used? I know, it’s shocking and disturbing.

Examples: His hat was green.

I think that scarf is hers.

The owl’s wing broke, so it lost its ability to fly (assuming you cannot determine the owl’s gender — I cannot!).

That’s not our car, it’s theirs.  <– bonus: it’s = it is!

4.) Their, there, they’re

Three completely different words with different meanings. Their is possessive, there is a place, and they’re means “they are.”

Examples: We went to their house for dinner.

I think he saw your book over there.

They’re going to the football game tomorrow.

5.) Effect & affect

Effect is a noun. Affect is a verb. It’s that simple (99% of the time).

Examples: Nausea is one of the side effects of that medication.

The documentary Food, Inc.” really affected me.

6.) Loose vs. lose (kudos to my friend Travis Sloat for this one!)

Two completely different words with entirely different meanings. If you can’t remember them, memorize them!

Examples: Your pants become loose when you go on a diet.

If you lose your wallet, you’re in big trouble.

7.) Fewer and less

If you can quantify (count) it, use fewer. If you can’t, use less.

Examples: I ate fewer cookies today than I did yesterday.

I used less sugar in my coffee today.

8.) Who and Whom

If it refers to the subject of the sentence or phrase, use who. If it refers to the object, use whom. An easy way to remember it is that both him and whom end in “m.” So if the answer to your question is him, use whom. If it’s he? Go with who. Or ask yourself “Who did what to whom?”

Examples: Who fed the dog a candy bar? (you’re looking for the subject here)

(everyone should know this one) To whom it may concern:


What would you add to this list? What are your grammar pet peeves? Leave them in the comments!

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Out of Time

**I’m too late to link up, but I’m using the prompt from Yeah Write.  Since it’s time for a new me & time to stretch myself, I’m shucking my fear & returning to writing.**

Tina’s face shines with sweat. I dab it with a cool cloth and catch a drip of snot before it hits her chest. Her chin is tucked tightly, like a penguin nudging her young into her perfect hiding place. I push the damp hair out of her eyes and gently secure it with a bobby pin.

She reaches for my Sprite.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I say.

She ignores me and gulps it down like a drunk who’s been off the sauce for weeks. Not a minute later she retches, missing the flimsy emesis basin next to her.

I press the call button and move what’s left of my drink out of her reach. The sweat-snot rag is useless as a makeshift mop.

A nurse knocks and enters, her eyes and nose questioning from behind the curtain. I wave her in and say, “Sorry, we had a little accident.” Tina glowers at me, her vomit now a pool on the blanket that’s dripping onto the floor.

The monitor beeps and I watch the spike take over the screen. Meanwhile my best friend moves into another realm of consciousness, one I can’t comprehend. Over the last 20 hours I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut; I’ve learned not to touch her anywhere below the neck; and I’ve learned to hide my drinks. Her breathing is measured, deep, punctuated with low murmurs that seem to come directly from the basketball in her belly.

The nurse stops changing the linens to switch off the volume on the machine. She glances at the last few pages of printouts, then at Tina. She washes her hands, snaps on a pair of rubber gloves, and grabs the lube from the warmer.

“Hon, we’re running out of time. I’m going to check you again, but…”

“I know, I know, alright?” Tina cuts her off. I start to say something and then bite my lip instead.

The nurse leans in from the foot of the bed and I watch my friend’s face contort. Suddenly Tina’s hand shoots out to grab mine. Tears burn my eyes and for a split second we’re nine-year-0lds again who have just patched things up after a fight about something stupid.

“You’re still at a four, and minus two station,” the nurse says, pulling her gloves off over the trash can. I’m going to page Dr. Lewis now.” The curtain swishes and we’re alone again.

“You okay?” I ask Tina, not wanting to set her off. I feel like I’m in the circus, walking the tightrope. One wrong move will upset the balance.

My oldest friend looks at me then as if she’s seeing me for the first time. Her eyes widen.

“You,” she says. “I need you to take this baby. You’re the only one who can.”



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I Wish (& The Girls Do Good Stuff)

In case you’re wondering where I went…
I popped over to the Listen To Your Mother : Kansas City blog to post there earlier this week. I wrote about wishing for a Motherhood Manual. You know, something bound, concrete, sold at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Something that tells us moms how to do all.the.things.

You can click here to read that post.

And as promised, here are some preliminary photos from this morning. For the twins’ eighth birthday, we asked for donations of food and personal care items in lieu of presents. We were super impressed by all the “loot” we got last weekend!

So this morning, with a trunk full of healthy, organic, kosher, and even gluten-free stuff, we headed to our first destination: Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City. The girls were quite pleased as we filled up the barrels at the JCC. And psssst. In case you’re not going to bother reading the links, NO, JFS doesn’t require that all donated food be kosher! Nonetheless, we took care to bring some of everything, careful that ALL of our selections were healthy as a firm foundation. Because, well… you know about “those people.” Jill Smokler (a.k.a. Scary Mommy) & Jennifer Ball would’ve been proud to see the quinoa, organic oatmeal, Trader Joe’s almond butter, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice…










Next stop? Harvester’s.

This is what the holidays are all about. Giving. And about teaching our kids what’s really important. It’s not the presents, the material things, more “stuff.”

It’s about the way we feel when we give of ourselves, when we do things unasked. We do because we can and because we want to.

We’ll keep right on doing it.

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The Twins Turn Eight!

Eight years ago today, this is what I was doing (and four years ago today, I blogged about it at my old place. Click over to see that birthday post!):


Dear Abby & Izzy,

On this day eight years ago, you came into my life and changed me forever. You made me a mother, something I thought I might not ever have the chance to be.

It’s been a bumpy road. I’m a far-from-perfect mother. Daddy gets to be the fun one.


I’m all
brush your teeth! did you brush your hair? is your folder in your backpack? eat your breakfast. HURRY UP. get dressed! it’s twenty degrees outside, you NEED A SWEATER over that shirt! please chew with your mouth closed. brush your teeth. HURRY UP. we’re going to be late. where’s your homework? get in the car. put your clothes away. homework first, then you can go outside to play. it’s too cold to play outside. clean up the toy room. NOW. brush your teeth! let me smell your breath. eat two more bites and then you can have dessert. HURRY UP. Nemo doesn’t belong in the kitchen. did you even wash your hands? there’s a hole in your sock, you can’t wear those. seriously? yes, you have to shower tonight, you’re stinky. do i need to put on the timer? just a minute. i’m coming. i asked you to BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

I’m your mom. I’m supposed to nag you to do these things. Sure, it’s hard to listen to. It’s hard for me to listen to myself. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that motherhood isn’t a big deal, because it is. It’s hard and important work, it’s being on call 24/7, it’s being a nurse and a therapist and a housekeeper, it’s being a laundress, a tutor, a grocery shopper, a chauffeur; it’s worrying about you 24/7, taking you to the dentist, the eye doctor, the pediatrician. It’s making sure there’s food in the pantry and clean underwear in your dresser. It’s sniffing your hair when you get out of the shower to make sure you smell like shampoo instead of a wet dog. It’s trying to teach you how to walk the line, do the right thing, set a good example, help others, stand up for yourself, show kindness, ask questions, be brave, try new things, respect your teachers and your elders, and ohmygodthislistwheredoesitend?

It doesn’t.

Because motherhood never ends. I will never stop being your mother. I’m the only mother you will ever have, for better or for worse.

I love you to the moon and back. I’m sorry I’m hard on you sometimes. There’s a lot about me you’re too young to understand yet, and that makes it difficult. Just know that my love for you knows no bounds. And even on my bleakest days…you? are my sunshines.


Happy Birthday, Abby and Izzy.


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My Toddler Talks & Kimberly Scanlon

As of this writing, little Miss Piper is sleeping in her crib upstairs. She has a hearing test in the morning and this mama’s a little anxious. For those of you here for the first time, Piper turned two on October 21st. She’s a firecracker to be sure, and while my love for her knows no bounds, the days can get long. And incredibly frustrating.

You see, Piper has speech delays. She “talks” a great deal, yet much of what she says is garbled, unintelligible. But then suddenly she’ll burst forth with a bubbly, “Hiiiiii!” coupled with a toothy grin, and I know that somewhere inside neurons are firing and things are clicking.

We’ve been working with an incredible team of therapists thanks to Johnson County Infant & Toddler Services. We have a regular visit once a week where we mainly focus on speech, and then once a month or so her PT and dietician will drop in. Piper’s had delays in other areas (she was a late walker and she’s got awesome Chipmunk shoe inserts for extra arch support & to help her balance), and while she’s come a long way, some mountains still seem daunting before me.

Enter Kimberly Scanlon, MA., CCC-SLP, author of My Toddler Talks.

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What’s great about Kimberly’s book:

  • easy to read and understand — completely accessible! Short chapters at a quick glance.
  • practical tips with lots of examples for hands-on learning and activities.
  • wonderful acronyms to help busy parents remember what to do/what not to do.

What I’ve learned so far from My Toddler Talks:

  • Self-talk/narration is great, but I need to work on using shorter phrases & sentences.
  • Questioning a little is great, but NOT TOO MUCH! I’m guilty of this, too. But if we make Miss P feel like we’re quizzing her, peppering her with, “What’s this? Who’s that? What’s he doing? Where are we going?” she’s gonna shut down and go into overload mode.
  • Wait & anticipate. Give your kiddo a chance to respond. Wait and smile.
  • Use lots of silly sounds and gestures. We’ve been using some sign language, but the therapists have warned us to be careful not to rely on signs too heavily. Signing is great for bridging the gaps or for little things.
  • Don’t overly anticipate your child’s needs! We’re still guilty of this with Piper. For me, it’s often an issue of my being in a hurry or my getting tired of her whining and pointing. I’m sick of the guessing games.

Kimberly’s cool troubleshooting list, i.e. her “Do Not List.” For this, her acronym is CUTIE:

  • Correcting your child’s communication.
  • Using too many negatives — no’s and negativity are not fun!
  • Teaching the ABC’s — I do sing the ABC’s to Piper, but Kimberly points out that it’s better to work on words that will give meaning to his speech. In other words, I’m putting the cart WAY before the horse.
  • Ignoring your child’s interest. Talk about what she’s pointing at or “talking” about, don’t start a new subject — stick to HER topic!
  • Expecting too much too soon. I’m sure I don’t even need to go into this. Let’s just say I’ve looked at Abby & Izzy’s (Piper’s big sisters who turn eight in two weeks!) baby books, so I’m well aware of what they were doing at Piper’s age. I have to stop comparing. Piper’s moving at her own pace, and we just need to enjoy this playtime together!

Enough out of me. I’ve been using Kimberly’s book to put some of her practices into place. I’m a little busy these days, so I haven’t done it all, but every little bit helps. Watch this clip below to see how far we’ve come. We still have a bit of a road ahead, but this was a BIG MOMENT. And I got it on video. I’m grateful not only to our team of therapists, but also to Kimberly and her book, because they’re always right here with me, giving me new ideas and things to try when we’re just hanging out around the house.

No more spoilers and teasers. Get thee over to Amazon and buy your copy of My Toddler Talks right now! While you’re at it, “Like” Scanlon Speech Therapy, LLC on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @ScanlonSpeech.

Bye! See you later!


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Giveaway! Helen Jon Design

Today, my darlings, it’s time for some FUN. It’s getting cold and dreary here in Kansas City, but my friends behind Helen Jon Design are keeping me focused on sun, summer, and all things stylish! Check out the Helen Jon blog when you have a chance. Their swimwear has even been featured in Real Simple (my favorite magazine). I know what you might be thinking, but trust me — Gwyn & Missy have it going on, and I’m lusting after their board shorts and skirts, the Melinda tunic, and OMG THESE BEACH PANTS! My husband would prefer to see me in a bikini, but let’s face it: I’m getting old, I’ve had three kids, and most importantly, (a) the sun is not my friend, and (b) spider veins. Cough, cough.

In a nutshell, here’s the Helen Jon story:

Gwyn Prentice and Missy Neville launched Helen Jon in July 2012 after recognizing the need for a fashionable and functional swimwear brand focused on beautiful prints and colors, and an evolution in swimwear was born. The swimsuits, board shorts, and tunics to mix and match have been inspired through years of travel across the globe and take into consideration all women’s shapes and sizes. Meant to be worn in and out of the water, Helen Jon ultimately changes the idea of swimwear fashion into a lifestyle concept. 

Helen Jon is fully designed and produced in the USA. <–BOOM. YES!

I will be giving away one of Helen Jon’s Reversible Beach Totes in Olivia (the black & white pattern):

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Here’s more information that demonstrates how versatile it is…

  • It is reversible
  • Water-resistant
  • Fully lined
  • Wide, soft straps that are so comfortable and easy to wear
  • Perfect for the beach, to use as a yoga bag, a gym bag, a tote to bring to the market… you name it.


To enter, scroll on down to Rafflecopter, but you can find Helen Jon all over social  media:

Follow Helen Jon Design on Twitter.

“Like” Helen Jon Design on Facebook.

Follow Helen Jon Design on Pinterest.

Please follow Helen Jon on Instagram. <–couldn’t squeeze this puppy in on Rafflecopter, but it’s another great way to see what’s up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A winner will be chosen at random a week from today, Wednesday, November 27, 2013! I’ll send your name, address, and information directly to Gwyn and Missy so that they can ship your tote to you!

Good luck, and thanks for entering and spreading the word!


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Judy Blume Project : I Think I Made You Up Inside My Head

Dana of The Kitch Witch & Kim of West Coast Posse are the brains behind the #JudyBlumeProject. Go there to read more! Below is my first ever attempt to join them.


Dear Diary,

I can’t stop reading this Sylvia Plath poem, Mad Girl’s Love Song.

I’ve had a crush on Liam for 754 days. Yeah, we’re friends and stuff, but today something happened and it was scary and exciting and really I just don’t know what to think about it at all.

I was over at his house and his parents were out running errands. As usual we did some homework (but I hid my Latin so he couldn’t see how confused I get declining the nouns — why the hell does it have to be so hard?) together and before I could finish putting my books into my backpack, he was ON me. Tickling me, pinning me down while I squirmed and squealed. It was fun, but of course the entire time I just wanted to scream, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST KISS ME? HOW COME WE’VE NEVER KISSED?”

He got up suddenly and locked the door to his room. I swallowed hard, hoping this meant something different.

He came back over to me, playfully shoved me back onto the worn brown carpet. His hands inside my shirt, running up and down my back, underneath my bra strap. His breath coming harder and faster as the “wrestling” resumed. Could he tell my body felt like it was on fire? The warmth between my legs spread as he began rubbing up against me.

“Let’s make love, quick!” he hissed.

I think I laughed out loud only because it was so ridiculous. Diary, you know we’ve never even French kissed before. We’re 15.  And I was just realizing what all the girls at school were giggling about when they whispered about “hard-ons.”

My shirt slid up. His mouth moved down to kiss my tummy.

“Shit!” I yelped.

He looked right into my eyes for a second and then I looked away because I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what to do. But for sure I didn’t want to make the first official mouth move and get rejected. I yanked my shirt down but Liam stopped me.

Then he grabbed my wrists, pinned them down with his large hands so I couldn’t move. I saw stubble on his upper lip and remembered a can of shaving cream sitting on his bathroom counter. I was on fire, aching for something I couldn’t even name.

I didn’t know what to do, Diary. I felt stupid and partly scared because I really was stuck. His little sister must’ve heard us because she started banging on the door asking what we were doing.

I went home feeling ashamed. And it only got worse after Emma called me. Liam asked her out on a date over the weekend. She knows I have a crush on him. He must know I have a crush on him. So why did he do all those things? Am I just a blow-up doll to practice with, his toy?

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me, moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head) ~Sylvia Plath

I’ve decided I’m not good enough for him, for this to be real. I’ve made it up inside my head that a part of him likes me back because he does these things with me a lot.

The proofs we have to do in Geometry class that I have so much trouble with? Are just like Liam in a way. I fail at them both. My stupid fucking protractor and Liam’s game prove I’m just dumb and inept and gullible.


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Hunger, Health, & The Thanksgiving Project

Many of you know Jill Smokler, a.k.a. Scary Mommy. If you don’t, head over to her blog and Scary Mommy Nation. She’s a mom, a mover and a shaker, and with her large, loyal following, she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s a woman to watch.

Jill means serious business. Especially when it comes to her annual Thanksgiving Project.

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See those numbers? They make me yell BOOYAH and dance. I donated to Jill’s Thanksgiving Project via Paypal — easy. It felt so good (except that Paypal IS NOT helping Jill or these families out with their fees, which is unfortunate). After reading Jennifer Ball (The Happy Hausfrau) ‘s post, “Those People,” on Jill’s blog, I made a conscious decision to donate healthier food to local food pantries. Organic food. Even kosher and gluten-free food. Lots of things from my local Trader Joe’s on Ward Parkway.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 2.31.15 PMCONFESSION: before reading Jennifer’s piece (which is scheduled to appear soon in Family Circle magazine! plus she’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post), I was likely to donate whatever was in my own pantry, and/or things I found cheap and on sale. Generic brands. Nothing super fancy for the most part.

That, my friends, is the hard, ugly truth. It’s embarrassing to admit it. But I know I’m not alone, because I’ve seen what’s in those Harvester’s bins at grocery stores around town.

Giving lots of food was good, but I wasn’t thinking; my own head was so far up my ass that I wasn’t putting myself in someone else’s shoes. Bottom line: I figured donating some food was better than donating no food. Yes, I gave canned fruit & veggies, pasta, peanut butter. But I didn’t consider fancy stuff, organic items, and things for those who have Celiac, or those who keep kosher. More hard, ugly truths.

I wasn’t thinking.

So now? I’m making up for lost time and teaching my daughters about the importance of donating, helping those in need, and reminding them that there are always hungry people who don’t have what we have.

And let’s not forget the quinoa.

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I donated LOTS of fancy quinoa to the twins’ school’s food drive! Plus organic & kosher cereal, organic peanut butter, tuna, canned artichoke hearts, organic tomato soup, ravioli, organic ketchup and mustard…

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And our girls helped pack up the bags. They schlepped things to school every day this week, and there was a contest to see which class could bring in the most food.

I don’t know who won. Neither do they.

But that’s not the point.

The point is they’re not too young to learn that they can help other people. That we should always help other people. And that we should help them in the way(s) we wish WE WOULD BE HELPED. Which means we’d want some healthy options on the shelves to choose from, not Kraft Easy Mac 24/7.

If we ever have to visit our local food pantry like Jennifer had to do, I sure hope we’ll find things like we just brought.

Finally, thanks to Queen Latifah for having Jill on her show yesterday, and for donating hundreds of turkeys! Watch the clip:


Donate now. If you can’t donate, help spread the word. Go over to Jill’s site and share her current Thanksgiving Project update status on your Facebook wall. Tell a friend or twelve. Blog about it. Spread the word far and wide.

Be good to others. And teach your kids along the way, let them watch what you do. Encourage a discussion about it, plant little seeds in those little minds and let them grow.

And remember: it’s never to late to learn. I’m still learning every day.


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The Listen To Your Mother Show 2014 Announcement!

Please hop over to the Listen To Your Mother site and watch LTYM Founder Ann Imig‘s short but inspiring video announcing the 2014 season! Or watch it on the Listen To Your Mother YouTube Channel here.

I’m proud to be bringing The Listen To Your Mother Show back to Kansas City along with three of our cast members from last year: Lisa Allen, Sarah Guthrie, and Leslie Kohlmeyer.  Together, the four of us will direct and produce the local show and we can’t wait!

The Listen To Your Mother Show : Kansas City will be at Unity Temple on the Plaza again on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. MARK YOUR CALENDARS!!

We’re excited to have the talented Karen Ledford return as our photographer, and Buck Sommerkamp as our amazing videographer again.

Stay tuned for new details and information, and in the meantime if you have any questions, leave me a comment or email me!



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How Brave Are You?

I’m linking up today with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary for Just Write.


Many of you know I’ve been dealing with depression and withdrawal side effects from the medications I’ve been taking. It’s tough, but I’m staying strong.

My ex-husband is a surgeon. While his job is stressful, requiring long days in the operating room, rounding on his patients, and seeing others in clinic, the nice thing about it is it’s pretty black and white; i.e. if someone has right lower-quadrant pain along with nausea, vomiting, and point tenderness, it’s likely he/she has appendicitis and a CT scan with blood work can confirm this in a few hours. If a person comes in with a protruding belly button and says it’s painful there, a simple physical exam can determine whether it might be an umbilical hernia. Both operations are typically quick and result in few complications.

Things are not quite so easy with depression.

There are many kinds of depression and it presents itself in many different ways, with a variety of symptoms:

*decreased energy or fatigue

*difficulty remembering details and concentrating

*feelings of guilt and helplessness

*insomnia or excessive sleeping

*persistent sad, anxious, “empty” feelings

*frequent aches and pains, including headaches

*lack of interest in hobbies; lack of sexual desire

*fatigue and lack of energy

*poor appetite or overeating


Depression is often the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are oodles of medications used to treat it, and the equation gets tricky: Which drug(s) + what dose(s) + which person = happier person? There is no “one size fits all” medication.

And then there are the things people don’t talk about. Which only adds to the stigma associated with depression. We’re all reduced to looney tunes, dark and twisty, raving lunatics who belong in the psych ward gorked out on psychotropic drugs. Or knitting in a bar, as the case may be.

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“Dark & Twisty” Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, image credit

I’ve written before about my experience with this blood-sucker of an illness. But it’s become clear that I have to be careful about what I share here. I cannot say all the things I’d like to because when I do, there’s fallout. People talk, gossip. Whisper behind my back. My family is concerned about what people might think when they come here and read, or when they hear about this/me from someone else who has read. It’s difficult for me to silence myself because in so doing, I’m only reinforcing the negative stereotypes.

Consequently, when I heard about this new Kickstarter campaign about mental illness, I was incredibly moved and donated immediately. I urge you to do the same, and to share the campaign with everyone. It’s important. So I’m channeling some of my energy through these incredible women.

Please go read all about This Is My Brave on their Kickstarter page. Mad props to Jennifer Killi Marshall for putting this out there, and for others like Robin, Addye, and Laura, for being brave and sharing their stories in the trailer video. Thank you for speaking up for those of us who cannot or do not, whatever our reasons may be.

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