Thanks to WordPress – My 2014 in Review

I love It’s a free blogging platform. The creators of WordPress let people work in their own ways. It’s not like apple or microsoft, because it’s open source software. Which means, I think, that people can tinker with the software. (Not that I know how to tinker!). The WordPress peeps whom I’ve met, (or Automattic peeps) at the WordPress WordCamp this summer, are all very committed to sharing resources and knowledge. They’re not like, “Pay me $39 for my advice.” No, they’re like, “Here’s something cool you can try on your blog.”

When I started blogging, Beth Buchanan told me WordPress is where all the cool kids hang out. So, I thought, ya, that’s me. I’m cool. And I’ve been blogging since July 2009. What!

I thought when I started, I’d blog about writing, but it seems I blog mostly about family life. My most popular blog posts seem to be about non-traditional families, like when I wrote about Bridget and Amanda’s wedding this summer. Also, when I write about how annoying my husband’s Parkinson’s Disease is — that’s popular. Or how annoying my kids are. Also, popular. People like honesty in their blog posts. Not perfection. Readers like love. They also like failure.

WordPress prepared an annual report for my blog. I posted 71 times in 2013 and 68 in 2014. I wonder how many times I’ll post in 2015. In any case, thanks for reading about my loves and my failures. Happy New Year! Here’s to more blogging joy!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Flowers for My Friends’ Wedding

I am so happy to be helping two of my friends with their wedding flowers next Saturday.

white flowersThis is the third time I’ve done flowers for a wedding. It is a lot of work and a lot of fun, and only slightly stressful. I never studied floral design, but I think I have a pretty good eye.

Another reason I am super-excited for Bridget and Amanda’s wedding is that this will be my first lesbian wedding. I know. I know. I am a little behind the times. I have many LGBT friends and you might think I’ve been to several. So proud my state honors same-sex unions!

I love love. And I love these two women — colleagues and friends — and super happy to celebrate their union.

Although, to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of marriage, I am a huge fan of love. And I am a hopeless romantic. (Just because my marriages have been hard doesn’t mean everyone’s have to be!)

My brilliant friend Emily created a beautiful Pinterest board to guide the helpers on the flowers and the wedding vibe. I think this is one of the beauties of Pinterest — as a visual dictionary to inspire and guide.

So, day 5 of my writing challenge to write every day for the month of October, on this Sunday, I celebrate love and marriage and same sex unions! And flowers!

Stronger in the Broken Places

Chris loves to watch the kids play sports, especially Hayden on the Little League field. He loves to teach them cards.

The Parkinson’s Disease makes some typical Dad things difficult, but he does them any way. He never says, “I can’t.”

He loves to cook, and he is a slow cooker.

His ability to show his love is slow too. He can’t help it.

Can any of us help who we are or what we get? I try to remember this when my husband falls asleep when I’m talking to him or walks away in the middle of a conversation. He leaves a mess worse than Linus in his wake. He refuses to leave his computer chums for real-life friends.

I try to remember who Chris used to be. I try to remember the quick flick of his wrist on the tennis court, the persistent phone calls to place our kids into pre-school, the lover of literature, the smooth dancer at the Broadway show’s after-party. He is still all of these things, but they are slower to show themselves.

I lean on and love other dads too. They might not even know how much I need them — my kids’ uncles, grandpa, friends. I lean on these father figures so my kids get the attention, love, support they need.

Fathering (and parenting) takes a village. Sometimes I feel I should do it all alone. Or I feel that that there is only this one person or one way to be a family. Or I feel I shouldn’t reveal our/my weaknesses.

But we are stronger in our broken places (I think that’s a book title). The shoulder bone Hayden broke when playing baseball is stronger at the point of its break, which happened to be the growth plate.

When we lean on one another, we are stronger. We reinforce the growth plate.

By remembering why we love someone and getting over the frustration of that challenge (if possible), there is an ease and a deep gratitude. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always anti-depressants.

I’d like to write more about this but I have to go and make a Father’s Day breakfast. I have to call my own father and say, Thank you!

Of Love & Alzheimer's & WSJ

This is a personal email I sent after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal
 Dear Dr. G.,

I am writing to you as a member of The United Methodist Church and not as the staff writer of a United Methodist agency. My husband has Parkinson’s Disease and I attend a support group for spouses of the chronically ill.

It’s great that the United Methodist Church was mentioned in the article in the Wall Street Journal on Love and Alzheimer’s!
In a loving, kind, and diplomatic way, I ask you to reconsider that the marriage vows of “sickness and health” apply to marriages where one of the spouses has serious mental compromises. I believe that this view has caused the well spouses to become unhealthy, unhappy, and uncaring for their own basic needs, contributing to the stark statistic of earlier deaths of the caregiving spouse.

A lovely older gentleman, Gil, in a support group I attend has been often near tears about his wife’s demise with Alzheimer’s. She is currently in a nursing home and has no recognition of her husband. He has found friendship, love and solace with another woman, who often visits the nursing home with Gil. Our support group has been heartened to see Gil happy and capable of now dealing with his wife much better.
I believe that within Christian denominations – as in the Jewish faith quoted in the article – there is room for more compassion and understanding as to the safe and life-affirming decisions that a well spouse like Gil may make about his own need to continue with life, even as his wife’s life continues on a difficult and challenging trajectory. The truth is she is not the same person, she does not even recognize him. It is very difficult for him. I applaud his new love, while also applaud his deep commitment to his wife. Life is complicated. I have compassion.

Thanks for reading this. – MB


I felt great when I received this email….
Thank you, MaryBeth

I greatly appreciate your letter and your compassion.

I do agree with you, personally. In the article, I was asked the stance

of the UMC on this matter.

I reported what the UMC states regarding marriage. Although I may

differ with the official church position on some matters (including its

views on homosexuality), as a staff member of an agency of the church, I

am obligated to share what I believe the position of the UMC is. And as

such, in the interview, that is what was reported.

I am hopeful that the UM Committee on Older Adult Ministries will

address this issue and bring some form of legislation/resolution to the

next General Conference.

In the meantime, please know that I, too, am sympathetic and

compassionate; but, sometimes, official church policy does not always

reflect our sense of compassion.

Again, please know that I appreciate your letter very much, and I, too,

wrestle with these and other issues that impact the spiritual well-being

of older adults.

If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Grace and peace,