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…And I Could Not Ask For More (An Open Letter To My Child)

 

My Dearest Erin,

Today, you graduated with high honors from middle school.  My heart was aflutter with emotion as I watched you and your friends share in this momentous millisecond in time, rich with the joys of your successes and the excitement for the new paths you will take.  Your father and I and your grandparents and extended family are beyond proud, both of your accomplishments, but, most importantly, of the beautiful young woman you have become.  Your kindness, generosity, spirit, and humor make you a sheer delight to know.  Clearly I am not alone in my belief, as your circle of affection, wide for as many years as I can remember, continues to grow and broaden each year as new people come to know and love you and share their lives and hearts with you as well.

Throughout your entire life, you have never known a challenge to be too great, nor have you ever walked away when the road ahead was uncertain or unstable.  With each new experience, I have marveled at your ability to see the opportunity in adversity and your willingness to take the first steps forward even when the path before you was long or rocky.  I’m so clearly remember a night many years ago when you, determined and focused, tried and tried and tried to get up and down the one big carpeted step leading in to your grandparents’ living room.  Each fall made you only more determined to succeed.  This same determination, courage, and strength typify your life, and it has been such a source of joy for your family to watch as you tackle, seemingly unafraid, every challenge you encounter.  Your road has not always been easy, and this past year presented particular challenges, both to you and to our family.  Yet, you never wavered when the winds grew strong.  You kept working, kept loving.  Your commitment to your studies continued unblemished and, yet again, you finished the academic year with honors bestowed.  Your dedication to performance art and love for the stage shone brightly, with three brilliant performances in three separate plays and numerous musical concerts and a beautiful solo in the school talent show.  You kept your eyes future-focused, your heart open, and your spirit illuminated.  You made new friends, deepened old friendships, stood up for what you believed in, defended those who needed a friend, and illuminated the paths of everyone whose lives you touched.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that you, a fifth grade girl, was starting middle school and leaving behind the familiar and comfortable walls and voices of the only school you had ever known.  And just like that, four years passed by in a heartbeat.  Just like that, my baby isn’t a baby anymore.  She’s a beautiful, courageous, strong, exceptionally kind, talented, beautiful person who has just begun to make her mark on the world.  I am so thrilled for you as you take these next steps in to your future, and can only imagine the joys and successes that await you in the years to come.

I am so honored and proud to be your mother, and sharing in the journey of your life has been the greatest honor and joy of my life.  This afternoon, I heard an old song, “I Could Not Ask For More,” the refrain of which simply and beautifully illustrated everything that I was feeling in my heart:

“And these are the moments,

I thank God that I’m alive.

And these are the moments,

I’ll remember all my life.

I’ve found all I’ve waited for…

…and I could not ask for more.”

My beautiful Erin, thank you so much for the gift of you.  You are the love of my life and I am so, so grateful for you.  God bless you each and every day of your life. 

I love you,

Momma

erindance

Je Suis Charlie

I was horrified today to learn the news of the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, a French newspaper known for its satire and comedy. As a writer, I stand in solidarity with those who risk their lives in order to express their thoughts and feelings via the written word. I am heartbroken for the families, friends, and colleagues of the lost, and I hope that the suffering of those who perished was brief. I send my love and prayers to those who are grieving right now, and to a world in such desperate need of peace.

I am a writer. I write for a living. I write for pleasure. I write whenever life and circumstance bring me joy, bring me heartbreak. I wrote a book about someone very special. I feel so tremendously blessed to have been given the gift of the written word, and to have been born in a country where I am able to express myself freely in my writing and in a time where women and their thoughts, their musings, and their contributions are met with acceptance and appreciation. In nearly 43 years of life, the possibility that I might be murdered for expressing my views was never within my realm of possibility. That someone would be taken from us merely for expressing his or her views breaks my heart in every single way.

I will not use this space or my voice to argue politics or to bloviate about the Muslim faith or those who choose to practice it in a radical, violent fashion. I simply want to say that I am one person, one among many, who stand with those who are hurting today. I stand as well with those who do not have the blessings of the freedom of expression. Please do not let your circumstance silence you. Your courage is our learning. Your bravery, our growth.

Envoi de mon amour aux personnes touchées par le tir à Charlie Hebdo à Paris. Prières pour la paix.

#JeSuisCharlie

The Jennifer Stays In The Picture

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“I avoid photographic evidence of my existence these days.” In 2012, Allison Slater Tate wrote a wonderful piece for the Huffington Post.  The Mom Stays in the Picture tells Allison’s story of feeling less than beautiful and recoiling in horror when her young son asked her to pose with him for a picture at a family event. […]

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If You Are Ignorant, Be Also Silent

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That’s Your Responsibility As A Human Being

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Sometimes, The Heart Just Hurts

“Accept what is.  Let go of what was.  Have faith in what will be.” Sometimes, the enormity of the human condition is just too much for me to bear.  Certainly no one likes seeing the suffering of others.  It is unpleasant, unsettling, difficult.  It challenges our collective sense of safety and control and inevitably leads […]

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Thank You, Tiffany

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Hi Everyone, I am overwhelmed by the incredible show of support and love that so, so many of you have shown me over the past few days following the events of last Friday evening.  This has become a wonderful habit, you coming out in droves with the “Team Jennifer” banners and the loud cheers!  It […]

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Discrimination Hurts: The High Price of the Little Blue Box

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Hi guys.  I know, it’s been 100(0000!) years since my last post. I really do love writing and blogging!  Please believe that!  I wish I was one of those daily blogger sorts with everything all organized and the ability to juggle a full-time job, two-hour commute, and endless (and awesome) Mommy tasks and still find […]

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“They Live In Darkness. You Be The Light.”

Sometimes, the enormity of the human condition is overwhelming to me.  It just hurts my spirit.  Stays inside me.  Affects me. This weekend, the Westboro Baptist Church will be picketing at three churches in my tiny little town.  I was browsing through Facebook on my lunch hour and I came across a story published by […]

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Am I Taking This Too Far?

Hey guys.  Sorry I’ve not been very vocal out here in the Blogosphere over these last few days.  I enjoyed a long holiday weekend with my family and kept it kinda low key.  My daughter and her soccer team (and my amazing husband, the coolest soccer coach ever!) won their game in the freezing cold […]

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