Redefining a Mother’s Love

Originally published on Huffington Post

Happy-Mothers-Day-716527Mother’s Day is a punch in the gut for anyone not celebrating with their mother. The ache doesn’t discriminate against the reason of absence. The social media feeds that will be saturated with Mother’s Day tributes will be downright painful for all of us coping with a void.

The feeling of motherlessness is overwhelming countless times throughout the year, but near Mother’s Day its intensity can be downright suffocating. As the days creep closer to that Sunday, my anxiety level continues to steadily increase to an agitated state. This will be the first Mother’s Day without my mom, since making the decision to cut off contact with her for my own sanity earlier this year. Conflicting feelings are battling inside my heart- dread of the actual day and anticipation of its passing until the next year. While traditional holidays celebrated on my own have been developed over the past several years, the awkwardness of establishing a new way to get through the day is fresh.

Not surprisingly, my past several weekly therapy sessions with Dr. R have centered on making sense of the emotional tornado brewing. While working through this, Dr. R has repeatedly encouraged me to really figure out what I needed in order to comfort myself. Pulling the covers over my head with the companionship of pinot noir and Grey’s Anatomy reruns was my first instinct. Or to abandon my smartphone for the weekend and seclude myself at a hotel. To not be reminded of what I am missing on Mother’s Day was the answer I continuously kept arriving at.

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The Article where No One Dies or is Having a Life Crisis

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As a former colleague once said to me when asked what she thought what genre best defined my writings last year, “You write about sick people, and your mental health.”

Grant it my writing often features heavier topics, but since I consider myself a life-experience storyteller, it made sense based on the circumstances going on in my life at the time.

There have been one or two article that I published for HuffPo this year that have more of a humor flare- alright more along the lines of the dark side but in all honestly it the best kind of humor.

Last week after the news broke that his relationship bit the dust, I came up with a top 10 list reasons why Kermit the Frog is the perfect boyfriend. It has been something that I have joked about for years, and many times Kermit has been referenced as my spirit animal.  Continue reading

10 Reasons Why Kermit the Frog Would Be the Perfect Boyfriend

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Many of us are questioning the longevity of love in the 21st century thanks, to the recent slew of Hollywood romances that sizzled up this summer. The split that’s most shocking is between one of the longest relationships in Hollywood, spanning over 40 years. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy have decided to part amicably, in order to continue a professional relationship as they returned to television this fall for the revamp of The Muppet Show on ABC.  

No word yet if either Muppet has their eyes on new lovers, but not to worry. There shouldn’t be a lack of potential suitors, especially for our favorite amphibian. While Miss Piggy has gained a reputation over the years for being high maintenance, Kermit the Frog has maintained his southern, down-to-swamp charm despite his international stardom.

As a single woman who isn’t excited about most of the tadpoles out there, I sympathize for how intimidating it can be to leap back into the dating pond, even for America’s favorite frog.

But reentering the game should be easy for Kermit because he embodies the makings of the perfect boyfriend (including soft, snuggly fabric).

Here are the top 10 reasons why Kermit the Frog is now Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, especially with George Clooney out of the running:

  1. Kermit owns his emotions and isn’t afraid to show them.

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Being able to have an open dialogue about feelings with your significant other is vital to any healthy relationship. Kermit has never shied away from expressing his emotions. Not many men openly profess their love for their friends and family as frequently. But wearing his heart on his sleeve has been one of Kermit’s trademarks, guaranteeing the absence of passive aggressive comments and mind reading assumptions in your relationship.

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The Miracle On 34th Street- 1 Year Later

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Originally Published on Huffington Post on 12/09/2014 

Oh what a difference 365 days can make. Apologies for the starting this story with such an overused cliché, but it’s the only phrase that captures the event that have happened since the publication of the original ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ story. This was not the follow up piece I had intended to be writing a year later, but realistically I hadnever thought I would befriend a little boy from Tennessee and his family.

This time last year, a gravely ill little boy named Weston Keeton occupied the corner room of the 6th floor in the CICU at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Despite being tethered to literal lifelines in a hospital room, an unparalleled energy radiated from his room which was perpetually occupied with the chatter of his seven siblings and visitors from all over the region as he battled pediatric pulmonary hypertension.

His parents, Julie and Adam, and world-renown medical staff were facing an uncertain future. The only thing certain was that a heart and double lung transplant was the sole way Weston would see another year. After three years of agonizing waiting, the phone call that was prayed for each night was received by Julie in the early morning of December 12, 2013. Thus began my experience in witnessing of the events that unfolded in the original Miracle on 34th Street article, just two weeks before Christmas.

During hours after transplant, my mind wandered about what 2014 would be like for Weston and his family. Everyone who WestonEditedBV-1rooted for this little boy during his long journey on the transplant waiting list was anticipating seeing the promise of new life. That was the miracle, wasn’t it? The opportunity to regain a normal life for a 7 year old boy and his family.

And in a blink of an eye, the expectations for the upcoming year were deflated. Instead of 2014 being the year of Weston’s recovery, it became the year of heartache. As the weeks passed in the new year, complications arose that no one was able to foresee during a time of promise.

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The Weekend I Spent Analyzing My Life Because of the Internet

 images (1)This weekend has been quite different than what I had planed. The majority of my waking hours was spent on Saturday feeling conflicted. Part of me was feeling ecstatic that a piece I had written was on the front of a wildly, successful online magazine. Writing for xoJane had been a writing goal for so long, and contributing over the past 9 months has been incredible.

My goal has as always been to connect with others through my writing- so someone out there going through similar situations won’t feel so alone. As a writer, the fact that the comments have continued to pour in (last time I check it was at 502) is also an incredible win. People are reading, clicking, and sharing my story. Someone other than my grandmother is taking the time to read and talk about what I have to say. 

The other part of me is mentally wrestling with myself. I would say 85-90% of the comments have been uplifting and full of constructive criticism. I have gotten AMAZING online dating advice and can’t wait to try it out. It was the advice I was looking for from readers. There have also been lovely emails sent to me from readers saying their experiencing the same thing, or have in the past. Again- it was a goal of the article to strike a chord with women facing similar struggles. Continue reading

The Online Dating Reject

As seen on XOJANE, Published 09/05/2014

I expected life after college to be a lot harder. Entering the workforce in one of the more turbulent economic times in our nation’s history would mean I would have to work harder to break into the communications industry. Moving out of my parents house would mean learning how to live on a strict budget, resulting in many Ramen dinners the week before pay day- but that’s expected. The Miranda Lambert song ‘This Ones for the Girls’ told me that at age 25 I would be living in a tiny apartment eating spagehettos trying to survive. However, I did not expect that my dating life would be summarized in one word: clusterfuck. Excuse my language but there really is not any other word in the English dictionary that describes my dating life right now.

Online-Dating-E-mailFor the life of me, I cannot get a date. Just typing that sentence stung. As a single, straight female living in a metropolitan neighborhood, one would think that it would be fairly simple to meet men. I’m not a huge drinker, so the bar scene has never really been my thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I’m not into one-night stands either. Although I am an introvert and would rather spend time with my cat while watching Netflix, I ventured out of my comfort zone and joined a co-ed softball league and registered for a comedy class. That was a bust. Most of the guys were taken, while the others showed zero interest in my lame attempt to flirt. When that didn’t pan out, I turned to the one avenue that has never let me down: the Internet. Continue reading

The Ultimate Miracle on 34th Street Will Live On

As seen on Huffington Post, published on 05/06/2014

*Disclaimer:For those of you who responded to kindly to my initial article “Miracle on 34th Street’ chronicling Weston Keeton’s transplant surgery in December 2013, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The article opened many people to the topic of organ donation.

IMG_4844How did a 31 year-old Tennessee woman, who is mother of seven children — one critically ill –become best friends with a single, 24 year-old from Philadelphia? Two years later, I’m still trying to sort that out myself. I honestly believe fate introduced me to Julie. We were two people going their own personal battles, and trying to find some normalcy in life.

While working as a multimedia liaison at an organ procurement center, in spring 2012, I filmed a lot of sad stories. People sat down in front of my camera and shared their struggles during their wait for an organ transplant. My heart broke for many of these families, but when it came time to film the saddest story of them all, I ended the interview laughing.

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How I’m Surviving In Survival Mode During a Severe Depression Relapse

420df4dbf230b2969cc405eb8ecb380eOver the past several months, it had been easy justifying why I had been tired, a bit anti-social and melancholy. A hectic work schedule, feeling run down, and family obligations were my staple cop-outs to give to myself or anyone else who questioned my actions. The truth was that my insecurities were creeping back into my daily life again, this time with a vengeance through changes in my personal and professional life.
 
I started a new job after an unpleasant exit from my former place of employment. I was immediately thrown into the busy season in a matter of weeks. Doubts about my career choices stemming from the previous employment mishap were still raw as I grappled with learning the ropes of a fast-paced workplace in a new industry. As much as my new colleagues were assuring me that I was a fantastic addition to the team, my perfectionist personality constantly critiqued my learning curve. 

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The Real Life Miracle on 34th Street

As seen on Huffington post, published on 12/18/2013

2013-12-18-patricebendigUntitledWe’ve all heard of the Miracle of 34th Street, and will probably see it at some point this month. We watch the film to rekindle that feeling of awe and that belief in miracles each of us experienced at Christmas at some point in our lives, before life jaded us. As much as we watch movies about Christmas miracles each holiday, few actually experience one. This past week, in the early hours of December 12. 2013, I witnessed a true Christmas miracle come true for a seven-year-old little boy — right on 34th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For almost three years now, Weston Keeton has called the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia home. Fighting heart disease and pulmonary hypertension for most of his life, his body was wearing out. During his treatment, the Keeton family has been separated in ways that no family should ever be. His father Adam remains in Tennessee to continue working while his mother Julie has made Philadelphia her home away from home with her six other children, ranging between the ages of eight and almost two. Continue reading

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

As seen on Huffington Post, Published on 12/10/2012

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Kathy the Christmas Elf!

Last Saturday night, my house was discombobulated. Strands of colored Christmas lights covered the floors, snow man figurines were lined up on the coffee table and garland was draped over the loveseat, nearly tripping each person passing by trying to get to the bathroom. In the middle of it all, my mother sat Indian-style carefully surveying the situation. Like a commander in chief, she was trying to figure out the best way to decorate, making sure each smiling snow creature could be scene and every light was appreciated. “What are you doing” she squeaked when I tried to pick up the garland to begin hanging it. I soon learned the best way to help was to sit on the floor, assisting to hold and pin things when she was ready. Instead of being annoying of her Christmas decoration takeover kick, I found myself smiling watching her get into the spirit. It reminded me that almost 11 years ago to the date, we almost lost the opportunity to ever decorate together.

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