Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rare Bird, Indeed

I first met Anna many years ago online when we started following each others blogs. I loved her posts on refinishing furniture and her sweet children, who were very close in age to my own. In 2010 I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at BlogHer in New York City. On the first evening I saw her walking in registration looking a little lost. Luckily I knew the ropes and was able to help her. That weekend that we realized that we were members of the same college sorority. She introduced me to Jill and Kate. We spent the better part of that conference finding each other in the crowd and continued to cheer one another on from afar. I felt like I had another close blogging friend, even if we were on separate coasts.

Me, Jill, and Anna. BlogHer '10


I wish I could remember what I was doing that September day. I was probably stressed out, (headless, remember?), trying to get a kid ready for football, cooking dinner, ushering kids to shower and Go to bed, already! I had seen Anna's post on An Inch of Gray the day before about their first day of school, Jack and Margaret starting to look so grown up. In my head now, it's a blur of links and sympathy, and shock. What happened? That's not possible! I was confused and bewildered.  This news can't be true.

My friend Anna had lost her dear son Jack in freak flooding incident behind their neighborhood on September 8, 2011. Jack, who was the same age as my son. Jack who was standing next to his sister Margaret on their first day of school.  I was paralyzed. I scanned Facebook for news with tears streaming down my face for about 3 days. In these types of situations in my offline life I'm usually a Doer. I take meals and extra toilet paper. I call. But from California all I could do was watch Facebook for more news and weep. I spoke with other blogging friends who attended the funeral, I read Anna's posts on her blog, but I hated not being able to be there for her. To sit in her living room and cry with her.

My heart wanted to be broken in Virginia, not in California.


Yesterday, Anna's memoir about Jack was released. Rare Bird is rare, indeed. It is a look into a family whose love and loss is bigger than I can imagine, and whose hope and healing is more Divine than I've ever seen. This book is the most well-written non-fiction book I have ever read. While devastating, it is not a sad story-I honestly did not cry while I read. (I saved the tears for after the last page.) Rare Bird is a story that gives you hope and courage and faith.

Rare Bird is the conversation that I wish I could have had with Anna in the weeks and months following Jack's death. In reading about Anna's journey through her grief, I was able to live it in my heart with her. Like I wanted to in 2011.

There is so much more that I could say but my words would never do hers justice. You must read them for yourself to believe how beautiful Jack's story is.

"I mean, why are we so ready to give God the credit for every good thing in our lives, [...] yet we let him off the hook for all the bad stuff? That seems ridiculous. Isn't He  powerful enough to command our destiny? Because that's the God I want to worship not some good-luck charm we call upon tho help us find a parking space when we're running late. I want a powerful God who is willing to make the hard, unpopular choices because He sees the big picture and knows what's best. Sure He wants our worship, but He doesn't need our approval." from Rare Bird by Anna Whitson-Donaldson

I want more of the story. I want to read Tim's story because we only get glimpses of it and his story is just as powerful as Anna's.
"I remember reading that sex can be one of the greatest comforts to a man. So I say yes. We make it through. And it is good. I'm proud of us, but I wonder how long it will be before we can do it without both of us crying." from Rare Bird by Anna Whitson-Donaldson


I have learned from Anna that friendships can blossom in tragedy.

"I want to hear how Jack's death has affected my friends....I want us to look at one another's faces and cry. To say the F word. To question God. To hear that Jack meant something. It is in the telling and retelling that we work our way through painful territory and gain insight." from Rare Bird by Anna Whitson-Donaldson

"Margaret needs an outlet too. I'm proud of her for knowing she's angry and finding a way to deal with it.  For opening that cabinet door and getting out a bowl. And a cheap one too. She may not yet be able to put voice to her feelings, but instead of yelling at me right now, she's finding a constructive way to express them.
She comes back in five minutes later, her face red from crying.
Damn bowl wouldn't break." from Rare Bird by Anna Whitson-Donaldson
I hope to someday read a book by Margaret Donaldson about how her brother Jack taught her to fly.


Please treat yourself to this book. It is powerful. I will be buying an extra copy to have on hand to give away when the moment is right. Buy Rare Bird on Amazon. Buy it at your local bookstore. Get a copy of this book into the hands of someone who might need a message of hope and love in loss.

And to Anna, I am so honored that you asked me to help share your hopeful and magical story. On this 3rd year Crapiversary I hope you, Tim, and Margaret can feel the collective love that is surrounding you from near and far this week. I love you and hope we meet again someday. xo

Monday, September 1, 2014

People of BlogHer '14

It was a great weekend in San Jose! The following are people that I had the pleasure of meeting during the conference, in no particular order. Long, long overdue. My apologies.

Simply Recipes Elise Bauer

Samantha from Airplane Rides and Guacamole Sides Samantha has an amazing story. I won't ruin it for you here but you want to read her. She is inspiring!

Destiny from  Suburban Wife, City Life

Kendra from Simply{Darr}

Williesha from Nerdy Thirtysomething Life

Lexi from La Primera (How on earth had we not met before? If we have, I don't recall and I'm a jerk but after all of these years being friends online it was great to see you in person! Even if we had to go to Northern California to do it.)

Kimberly from Manifest Yourself

Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama

The Ginger Warrior

Salma from The Write Balance 

Bridget from Saving My Sanity

Sharon from Midlife Boulevard I can't wait to dive in here a little more!

Finally, I had the honor of hearing Libby Kranz speak at the Listen to Your Mother Open Mic night. Her daughter Jennifer recently passed away from a brain tumor and now Libby, and other family and friends are fighting pediatric cancers. Please visit their website Unravel Pediatric Cancer where you can find out about their nonprofit efforts and read more about Libby, Jennifer, and their family on the Love4JLK blog, linked on that page. Beautiful.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

This book begs for the fireplace.

You know how some books beg to be read on a beach with a big, floppy hat shading your eyes? This is not one of those books. Reverie, by Christina Yother is the kind of book to be read by the fireplace with a cup of tea. Perhaps while there is a snowstorm outside. (Does that make me weird?)(Don't answer that.)

Reverie is the story of Hetty, an orphan, who ages out of the orphanage in her Montana hometown and begins to make her way in life. Soon the Wheeler family needs her help on their ranch and Hetty begins to feel things for Issac, one of the Wheeler sons. Issac is the perfect brooding Leading Man. Responsible, loving, and troubled.

I loved this story. Granted, I love a good romance, but there were twists in the plot that I honestly didn't see coming. I like that in a novel. While I read this in the summer it would be a perfect addition to your winter reading list. Hence, the fireplace. And the tea. (The book isn't for the fireplace under any circumstances.) The other thing I love about this book is that it is part of a 3 book series called Hollow Hearts. I love reading books that have recurring characters; for me, it makes it easier to get into the story when I'm already invested in it. Christina's second novel, Reliance, will be released on October 7th, the second of the trilogy. I can't wait to dive into the story of Elias, the second Wheeler brother.

Where to buy:

Reverie on Amazon
Reverie on Barnes and Noble
Other places to buy can be found at Christina's website

Reliance will be available soon-believe me, I'll let you know!

While Christina is a friend of mine, my review is all my own. I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stuck in the Middle

It's been 7 years since I started this blog, and six since my first BlogHer conference. I'm not OG. (I just found out what that meant. Original Gangster.) I'm not a newbie. I have many, many OG friends and many, many newbie friends. I'm stuck in the middle.

Last night I saw an old friend. I've connected with her many times at conferences and online. Shared a cocktail. But because of my own insecurities I've never really known how she felt about me. My policy has always been that since I'm not an OG I'm happy to stay in the background or on the fringes. Those relationships came before me and I understand that history sometimes trumps. I don't want to look like a squealing fangirl. That's not who I am.  

I stood on the edge of her circle to say hello, alternating between waiting for her conversation to end and having my own but not getting the chance to talk to her. A little while later when she saw me she jumped up and gave me the biggest hug and said how great it was to see me, it had been so long, and we've known each other for years! 

Like I usually do, I put my foot in my mouth, thinking that she must have mistaken me for someone else. No, she knew it was me. Her reaction was exactly what she wanted it to be; I was the insecure one.

To be perfectly clear, this person has never, ever done anything to make me feel not a part of the group. "It's not you, it's me," totally applies here. 

I may still be stuck in the middle in many ways but because of one woman's generous acceptance of me-acceptance that I never asked for nor expected, I feel like I belong. 


~ headless mom

Sunday, July 13, 2014


It's going to be a scorcher today. How do I know? Not from some smartphone app or a big busted weather girl. No, I know from being on my porch since about 5:30 this morning. There is not a cloud in the sky and as soon as the sun peeked over the fence it's been hot.

These are not the long shadows that I'm typically fond of. Those come in about 10 hours. These are the ones of quiet morning hours when the day is full of possiblility and the night wasn't full of sleep. The sleep interrupted by a child leaving at 4 in the morning and a puppy deciding that sleep shouldn't happen until the human had already had her 2 cups of coffee.

Her ears kill me and make me give in but tonight is going to be the night, once and for all, that she learn to sleep in her crate. My boys have taken the night shift but caved to her not sleeping in the crate. We need her to. We're busy and she will occasionally have to stay in it during the day too. 

But she's a puppy, and puppies are cute. And will easily persuade you that the floor is much nicer for sleeping than a crate with all the toys.

This is Libby. And the reason for my Sunday afternoon nap today in the air conditioned bliss of my living room. It's already hot out here.

~Headless Mom