$100 Spring 2018 Target Gift Card Giveaway!


Oh, Target, you draw me in with those bargains at the front. Then, on the way to that one. thing. I. came. for ……. I divert to the workout clothes, the greeting cards, the bedding, the holiday candy.

And on and on and on.

If you are the one person in the universe capable of entering Target, buying the shower curtain hooks you went there for in the first place and nothing else, congrats.

Everyone else (even you, oh disciplined shower-curtain-hook shopper), enter this giveaway to win a $100 Target gift card!

Prize: $100 Target Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 4/13 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.


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Five Minute Friday: ROUTINE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: ROUTINE

This is how to disrupt your routine: list your house for sale.

I didn’t get to write last night because my work schedule requires me to go to bed so early these days (something I gladly do). I didn’t get to write when I finished working this morning because my daughter was in town and I needed to meet her (also a good thing).

That left me with this five-minute sliver before I have to clear out the house for its first showing to a potential buyer.

I could have spent that five minutes scrolling Facebook.

I could have (maybe should have) checked the cats’ litter area one last time to make sure they didn’t sabotage operation sell this house.

But writing has to happen, for me at least. It isn’t a perfect moment. I am anxious about all the house-selling process. I am afraid the realtor is going to call during the five minutes and my train of thought, such as it is, will derail.

I have learned to write no matter what, though. It is why I write a blog post every Sunday whether I feel inspired or not (obviously over nine years I have managed to find something every except one or two Sundays when I just couldn’t post).

Wherever I live, I will always have writing. The writing is what needs to be the routine no matter what is happening externally.

Maybe soon I will have some  home selling adventure to write about!

These walls have surrounded me as I wrote since 2005. As I ran these streets, I gathered motivation and organized my thoughts.

I wonder what the next home will contribute to (or detract from) my writing routine. I do know it has been a plus to move away from the dining room table and to a dedicated work space.

That dedicated work space will definitely be part of my routine at the next place.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Volunteering for VIPs at Brewfest

This post is made possible by support from the Reward Volunteers Program. All opinions are my own.

VIPs are “very important people,” right?

At the Tallahassee Brewfest sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, VIPs got special treatment: their own designated entrance queue, special food, extra swag, and the all-important “special VIP glass.” No boring nondescript beer-tasting cups for them!

Reward Volunteers Program

What Volunteers Do

I had many tasks throughout my day as a volunteer at the Tallahassee Brewfest, starting with unboxing those VIP glasses.

As the VIPs arrived, we welcomed each one, got them set up with their goodies, and wished them a happy event.

After the VIPs were processed, we had other jobs to do. We helped answer questions, relieved other volunteers, kept the venue tidy, and in general promoted a happy vibe among the 1200 Brewfest attendees.

After the event, we ushered participants out, then it was breakdown time. Our volunteer duties during breakdown time fell under the “if you see it, and it needs to be done, do it” category. Carting boxes of unused supplies out. Consolidating uneaten food and getting it to a new home. Throwing away bags of trash. Dismantling tables. More trash.

How Volunteering Helps

The Sunrise Rotary Tallahassee Brewfest is the club’s largest event of the year. Twenty-one organizations benefit. 21!

Each of these organizations is oh-so-worthy, but there is something Rotary does that makes it important for me, even though I am not a Rotary member, to pitch in at Brewfest: Rotary International is one of five partners in the Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership pursuing the sole goal of eradicating polio worldwide. I have been a Shot at Life champion for five years, advocating for children worldwide to have access to immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases including polio. We’re all on the same team in that regard, so it’s important for me to chip in.

Among the 21 causes Brewfest helps directly, several of them intersect with my interests and affiliations. I may not be able to volunteer at each one regularly, but helping at Brewfest indirectly gives them a boost. The Alzheimer’s Project, for example, provided several hours of respite care weekly so I could run errands (or sleep, or work) without worrying about my father-in-law. Honor Flight, a favorite cause, takes WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., every year to be honored. 211 Big Bend helps people experiencing suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues in addition to compiling resources for community services. More importantly to me, it’s where I received mental health training and experience that has served me for decades, long after I stopped answering the phones for the counseling hotline and the Florida AIDS Hotline.

What Volunteers Get

The list of rewards for volunteering at Brewfest flows as easily as the taps did that night (until time to close when we friendly volunteers showed everyone the exit)!

In addition to helping all the great causes I listed above, we get to see a broad cross-section of our community and socialize while we work.

We even got beer breaks – something you can’t say of every volunteer gig.

Reward Volunteers Program

I also accrued Reward Volunteers points. RV is a program sponsored by the Cabot Cooperative, makers of the World’s Best Cheddar and other dairy products. I have been a member for more than a year. Here’s what Reward Volunteers is all about:

  • It’s a site where you can log your volunteer hours and keep track of the ways you make the world a better place
  • Participating organizations (and individuals) can win prizes for logging their hours
  • Reward Volunteers lets you search for volunteering opportunities in your area
  • The site gives gives Organizations and Volunteers a free way to track volunteer activity.

Learn more about Reward Volunteers from this Facebook Live I did with Cabot volunteer Amanda Freund.

But here’s one thing no bullet point list can adequately capture: the fun factor. It was rainy. Our boxes of VIP glasses got soggy. Guests arrived a bit skeptical about how day would turn out. We all had a great time.

Who’s the Real VIP?

There were other VIPs that got something out of the day besides the people we greeted when the event began. The other very important people are the ones served by the 21 incredible agencies that Brewfest supports.

The beer taps may have had to stop at the end of the event, but the event’s good results will flow all year long.

Reward Volunteers Program







William Wade’s Different Royal Path

Finding out you have won enough votes to be the Homecoming Chief or Princess at Florida State University must be a life-changer. As the winner, you have so many events to look forward to: riding in the parade as “royalty,” being presented to the crowd at the Pow Wow event the night before the game, the Homecoming Breakfast, and the crowning at midfield during the Homecoming Game while being presented with your Court.

The One Exception

Seventeen-year-old William Wade ran for Homecoming Princess on a whim in 1980. To qualify, a candidate had to be an FSU junior or senior and have a 3.0 grade point average. He was a junior (he had entered FSU having completed two years of college-level academic work) and he had a perfect GPA.

Much to everyone’s surprise, William, running as “Billie Dahhling,” won.

The outcry following William’s victory and the intense pressure on him to relinquish the title are well-documented. (I ran across this link — I don’t exactly know where it came from but it seems to capture the relevant facts and a few interesting quotes I haven’t read elsewhere. The Tampa Bay Times articles below also detail the chronology.)

His crown was presented to him at the Pow-Wow the night before the Homecoming Game, but he was not part of the halftime festivities at midfield. One of the reasons he was not permitted to participate in the crowning was the death threats that had been received.

I Didn’t Understand or Find It Funny

Sixteen-year-old me, in the middle of my junior year in high school and planning to attend Florida State University, was not amused. I was embarrassed and disdainful that someone would take it upon himself to disrupt a beloved tradition.

(My not about you revelation and the start of my choice to be an ally was a few years away.)

Reconciling the Past

When Phil Barco, the 1975 homecoming Chief who had been director of student activities in 1980, began assembling a reunion of former Chiefs and Princesses in 2015, William Wade was on the guest list. (Phil and William had reconnected a few years prior.)

William Wade wasn’t on the guest list as a question mark, an asterisk in history, or an unknown commodity.

William Wade was on the guest list as Florida State University’s 1980 Homecoming Princess.

Saying Goodbye

William Wade passed away February 26 from complications of colon cancer.

Tributes shared by people with whom William crossed paths, especially friends and former students, are full of grief, deep gratitude, and humor.

One of my favorites came from his friend Ilyce Meckler:

William observed the world around him and saw injustice hidden in plain sight. He deeply understood and felt the pain of those without a voice and set out to challenge society’s conventions through his music. Wearing little armor himself, he forged ahead by composing powerful musical theater while balancing a mirror for us to see the strength that we all have inside ourselves to make change.

Ilyce captures qualities of William I hear echoed repeatedly:

  • He was an astute observer of the world
  • He especially sensed injustice and refused to back down from it
  • He was, for the most part, “without armor”

I read that William’s quest to be Homecoming Princess wasn’t about the “princess” parts — wearing a beautiful gown, being crowned with the ceremonial headdress — but because the whole process seemed so superficial and steeped in gender stereotypes.

Armor-wise, there probably isn’t anything that could have reinforced his psyche and his body once he stood his ground on keeping his title. Once the ACLU got involved and helped broker an agreement the Friday prior to homecoming on Saturday. Once the rocks were hurled at him and the death threats came his way.

A 2018 Birthday Remembrance

My goal of creating a post all about William is to celebrate the difference he made for others.

For the Juilliard students he served as an accompanist.

For the Dance for Parkinsons program he provided music for, earning him the New Yorker of the Week designation in 2014.

For the friends across the years he thrilled with music and friendship.

William Wade

To learn more about William’s journey, read What happened to William Wade? After 35 years, hope for a real homecoming and Epilogue: William Wade, scorned as FSU princess, helped others rise through music, both from the Tampa Bay Times.

I found out from one of the Tampa Bay Times articles that William’s campaign motto had been “A queen with a difference.”

The ridicule I felt in 1980 turned to admiration by 2015.

We may never know the toll 1980’s events took on William. I suspect it was quite a heavy one. In this 1988 article, he says, “I’m not sorry I ran for princess. But I don’t think it changed anything.”

Whatever the afterlife holds for him, I am positive there will be no hurled rocks, no death threats, no hatred.

What a welcome relief that must be.

And I hope William knows that he did, indeed, change things.

Happy birthday, William.

William with Doby Flowers, 1970 Homecoming Queen, and Clara Moffitt Howell McKay Moorman, FSU’s first Homecoming Queen (1948).

I am committing my “Donate a Photo” contribution today to GLAAD in William’s memory. Learn more about how you can direct $1 per donated photo to a cause you love by clicking hereWilliam Wade

This post will be linked to Kat Bouska’s site, for the prompt “write a post using the word ‘found.'”

William Wade


Five Minute Friday: PROVIDE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: PROVIDE

I grabbed the sunrise picture above this morning at around 7:20, when I was making coffee in the middle of a work shift that had started at 4 a.m.

When I used to run, sunrise runs in this neighborhood were the best. I would think “this will never end. I will never take it for granted. I will always appreciate this. Nothing else can provide the joy that running, in Hawk’s Landing, at sunrise provides.

As it turns out, sunrises are different now. I’m more likely to be at my laptop in slippers than on the pavement in running shoes.

Maybe the “no running” imposition due to health concerns was timed in a way that made it a little less heartbreaking (pun slightly intended) to take on work that has to happen early.

That work is allowing me to help provide for my family. And the latest changes are providing challenges to my brain that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Taking on a slightly higher responsibility makes two hours of the shift FLY by. Is it weird to compare it to meditation? It’s away from social media. It’s intense concentration. It’s (largely) solitary. It introduces me to new topics and tasks while drawing on my love of writing and editing. The biggest challenge is taking in large amounts of information quickly and fact-checking them.

That fact-checking challenge, come to think of it, is a little like trying to top a personal running goal or retain the feeling of running through a sunrise.

[end of five minutes]

As we prepare to leave this house, I’ll always carry with me gratitude for the different types of joys and challenges I’ve experienced here at sunrise.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Twitter

I forget sometimes that some people don’t use Twitter. It’s so embedded into the way I interact with the world, I am usually a little shocked when someone says, “I don’t have a clue about Twitter and don’t want to learn.”

Twitter is not for everyone, and has changed over the years. It’s a meaner, more commercialized, more divisive place than it used to be.

So many of my acquaintances feel the same as Sandi from Midlife Roadtrip:

Make the most out of Twitter

With 100,000+ tweets behind me, here are my thoughts on Twitter 2018:

Learning the Basics Matters

The most frequent thing people say to me is “I don’t get it” or “I don’t understand Twitter.” It is like learning a foreign language. I swore I would never speak in hashtags but here I am. #NeverSayNever

It’s difficult to find a Twitter 101-type resource that is updated enough to reflect current changes. This one from Wired is decent. Just replace “140 characters” with “280 characters” and note that timelines now are not necessarily chronological (unless you change your settings, as I did, because non-chronological Twitter frustrated me intensely).

Sometimes it is best to read, not tweet

If you read nothing else written in this post, take note of this piece of advice: you don’t always have to respond on Twitter. In fact, you can mute terms that make you anxious. You can block people who creep you out. You can construct lists of people that share interest in common with you, or people who simply make you happy. Twitter will be much more pleasant this way.

One thing Twitter does for me is provide insight on some people who I find interesting, but for various reasons have chosen not to follow. It may be professional (it helps to know that a reporter you plan to pitch is a vegetarian before you pitch your awesome article about novel recipes for meat eaters, for example). It may be personal (you just want to know more about Jane Doe but it’s not a close enough relationship to follow her — kind of the 2018 equivalent of the people-watching we used to do IRL (in real life) at the mall).

Follow People with Whom You Disagree

Although this is not how some people choose to use Twitter, I appreciate the way it gives me perspective into what people think that believe differently than I do. It’s a relatively safe way to get a sense of what the other side is saying and thinking, in 280-character bites. Somehow it feels less “attack-y” than Facebook. Just remember #2 above – you don’t have to always engage on Twitter.

Don’t Hesitate to Tweet with Well-known People

Celebrities (many of them, anyway) love Twitter. Katy Perry is #1 on Twitter with a following approaching 1.9 million (more than Barack Obama). At a ranking of 865,089, I’m definitely far down the Twitter pecking order. BUT, thanks to Twitter, I can support celebrities I care about and interact with the ones who choose to respond (or have a staff person do it — I guess you never really know).

A few fave celebrities on Twitter:

Rubem Robierb – I love his art and his consistently positive, thought-provoking take on things. Follow him at @rubemrobierbart.

Cate Elephante – Okay, she’s 6 years old, and her parent(s) have acknowledged managing her account. But it wouldn’t be logical for a 6-year-old to be managing their own Twitter and social media, right? I saw her as Lulu in Waitress in December 2016, and have followed her since then. I foresee big things out of her, onstage or off, whatever she chooses (because …. she’s 6!). Follow her at @cateelefante.

On the flip side, keep your expectations in check. I’ve gotten better about this over the  years, but sometimes you feel you’ve developed a rapport with someone you’ve met over social media, but the two of you share different outlooks. I wrote about this here, when I said, “Balancing the sentiment of “we could be friends!” with “we are strangers to one another who have not established a trust or intimacy level” is a delicate thing.”

Participate in Twitter Chats and Parties

I have participated in Twitter chats for years. In a Twitter chat, participants have an allotted amount of time to interact with each other, brought together by a shared interest and common hashtag. (I was a #RunChat featured blogger for years and kept participating in the Sunday evening weekly chats for a long time.) Twitter chats are a great way to grow your network, meet people with whom you share an interest, and have some social media fun. Some Twitter parties feature prizes for selected participants.

Pro-tip: If it’s a goal of yours, you may work up to having the opportunity to be a paid Twitter party panelist. I have done this a few times and enjoyed it (as well as the cash).

Bonus: Get off of Twitter

Seem diametrically opposed to the title of this post? It is. But it needs to be said.

Twitter is one slice of life. It’s one fragment of social media life, and it’s one 280-character-at-a-time way of looking at the world.

I’ve said it once and will say it again — never have I pursued an IRL meeting with someone I met over Twitter and found myself thinking “gosh they aren’t at all what I thought they would be like” when I did meet them. Maybe I’m lucky. But I do believe people show you who they are on Twitter, for the most part. There are about 10 friendships I can attribute directly to Twitter. Maybe some people l would say 10 close friendships out of around 13,000 follower/following arrangements and 132,000 tweets isn’t a great return on investment.

But I found when I sat down with those ten people face-to-face, that the Tweeting that brought me into their orbits was worth it, as was putting down the phone and lifting a glass with them.

My 100,000th Tweet

This post was inspired by the Sway Group March writing prompt “name 5 ways to get the most out of Twitter.” (I cheated and added a 6th!).

$100 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway!

Starbucks gift card giveaway

Besides the Starbucks part of this image, I love the pastels. They make me think of spring, Easter, and renewal. We are spending Easter weekend in Riverview (near Tampa), burying Wayne and Barb’s (my in-laws) ashes. A weekend less bunnies and Peeps than reflection and legacy, but we will be together as an extended family, which is what matters. Maybe we will share a Starbucks together over the course of the weekend!


Prize: $100 Starbucks Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 3/30 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Starbucks gift card giveaway

Five Minute Friday: TIRED

Today’s prompt: TIRED

I have been getting up exceptionally early the last week or so. I used to start working (freelance, from home, blessedly) at around 6:45. Now I am getting things underway around 5.

It is a recipe for being tired, and I’m having a small challenge convincing my body to get to sleep earlier, but there is a crucial difference at this point in my life: I am so happy to have the opportunity to do this, to add something new to my skill set (and hopefully help the business out too).

It is not an exaggeration to say that during the first year or so that my father-in-law lived with us and we essentially had to have someone at home, I would pray for an opportunity that kept me at home, used my writing skills, and occurred early in the day.

It takes time sometimes to gravitate to the right fit.

I could technically, now that Dad is gone, get a regular 9-5 job. I may have to go that route eventually. But I find myself clicking out of job ads and hoping I can make the current combination work. (And note: I realize I am in a privileged position that Wayne has health insurance. I don’t take that for granted.)

“Tired” is much less draining when your internal motivation has woken up, regardless of the time of day.Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

A Candy Bar in the ICU

Tenley and I had to stop for gas en route to UF Health in the earliest hours of Christmas Day. I had been told by an ICU nurse “if it were my mom I would come,” so we drove as rapidly as we could to Gainesville.

In addition to the gas, I bought a Baby Ruth candy bar.

Managing Hospitalization

When we arrived at the hospital, my mom was on BiPap for her extreme respiratory distress. Over a course of several hours, the medical personnel tried different percentages of oxygen, various sizes of masks, and a spectrum of treatments to try to relieve her breathing.

When nothing they had tried worked, they brought up the topic of intubation.

Doctors had a conversation with my dad and my mom that went something along the lines of “you have said you don’t want extraordinary measures taken to prolong your life. You don’t want chest compressions but you are okay with being intubated?”


Once the decision had been made to intubate, we had to leave the room.

In a daughter-of-the-year move, I didn’t say anything deep or profound. I waved the Baby Ruth bar in her face (the one she couldn’t eat because a) her dentures were out b) her oxygen levels were plummeting to near-fatal levels and c) there was a mask over her mouth) and said “I brought you a Baby Ruth bar. I’ll save it for you!”

(Getting a Baby Ruth bar in the Christmas stocking was a treat my grandfather gave my mom every year when she was young and times were harder than they are now. The tradition has extended to our home — Wayne/Santa puts one in my stocking every year.)

I thought “is my mom’s last memory of me going to be having a Baby Ruth bar waved in her face?”

I ended up eating the Baby Ruth bar myself sometime in the haze of the days that followed.

She was relieved of that breathing tube within a few days, then reintubated for another 24-48 hours. She was moved from Cardiac ICU to Medical ICU, then to a regular room, and then sent to Lake Butler Hospital for rehab. That lasted several weeks. After being home approximately 24 hours, she fell and broke her wrist, landing her back in the hospital (North Florida Regional).

I had a nice visit with her on Sunday, February 11. I left her birthday card on the bedside table, thinking I would not make it back to the hospital before her 88th birthday on February 15. The breathing issues came back with a vengeance on February 13 and a decision was made not to reintubate her. She died that evening. I found the birthday card in a bag containing her belongings after she died.

We don’t know what to do when our loved ones are facing odds that seem at the time to be insurmountable.

Sometimes the choices we make have more to do with what we need in order to try to make sense of the unimaginable rather than what the loved one needs.

My mom loved the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

,Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

It was not a serene moment for any of us when I attempted to explain the Baby Ruth in my hands to a woman whose oxygen level was precipitously low. It was a moment (as were many over the course of her illness) when she exhibited the courage to keep trying to be a part of this world.

One time when I was a teenager and devastated over a relationship loss, she said “it doesn’t matter.” Those three words did come from her deep well of wisdom, but I railed against them for years. Maybe the thing is that I am dogged about change, in the world and in myself. “It doesn’t matter” is absent from my vocabulary probably much more often than it should be for my peace of mind.

I don’t know if she ever registered the Baby Ruth bar. I don’t know if anyone ever read her the birthday card.

It matters that she and I, over a lifetime, tried to find some middle ground between what matters and what doesn’t.

Five Minute Friday: REGRET

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: REGRET

There’s a saying (I’m paraphrasing) that “you regret all the shots you didn’t take” — something a sports star said.

There are some shots I don’t regret not taking. I don’t regret making some career choices that kept me closer to home and more available to my children.

I don’t regret letting my daughter dress herself in dots and stripes when she was little rather than being matchy-matchy. She found herself of self and style more easily that way, in my opinion.

It’s a little hard lately in this latest life iteration not to regret being away from writing, proofreading and editing so long. I always had my finger in the pie, but there was a lengthy detour through child health policy.

I have decided for the most part, though, that in addition to the principle that things truly happen for a reason, my career path may have put me a bit behind competitively for some of the types of things I want to do now, but gave me so much that makes me a well-rounded professional:

  • Having to work through the federal government process to get funding for a start-up program
  • Multiple procurement processes for health plans, dental plans, and third party administrators (the TPA procurements taught me so much about technology, at least at a rudimentary level)
  • Becoming a Certified Public Manager
  • Overseeing the dispute process at a program with several hundred thousand enrollees
  • Supervising people

*** end of five minutes***

There is more I got out of those years, more than five minutes can hold. There were difficult bosses (and good ones), boards of directors to satisfy, the perfect timing of having a communications person who knew Twitter well and taught me when Twitter was new.

I got victories and defeats. Did some things well and messed up a few too (especially when it came to being the leader my people needed). Saw every single county in Florida.

I got so many things to write about, and that’s something for which I have no regrets.Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)