Stop Telling Women Over 50 What to Wear

I love this apron found on clearance at Target. Would I wear this in public? Yes, yes I would. Photo by Avalon Potter

I love this apron found on clearance at Target. Would I wear this in public? Yes, yes I would. Photo by Avalon Potter

Seeing that I have never bent to the rules of fashion, it's not shocking that I am not bending to the rules of fashion over 50. These rules are almost always articulated by a 20 something or a 30 something or a man or a woman over 50 who is conservative in dress and mindset. Even women over 50 who are rule breakers often make rules for other women:

You can be weird, just don't be THAT weird.

You're only authentic and brave if you embrace your gray hair.

You should dye your hair because the gray makes you look old.

Women who opt for plastic surgery look hideous.

How could a woman give up like that?

She's too old for that outfit.

Oversize plastic jewelry, vintage neon smock, hot pink slip-ons from Target, sassy side pony tail. Photo by Avalon Potter

Oversize plastic jewelry, vintage neon smock, hot pink slip-ons from Target, sassy side pony tail. Photo by Avalon Potter

I have opined this topic many times, including in my new book about being a woman over 50. (Shameless self-promotion alert.) I believe that women over 50 should wear whatever the hell they want. They should opt for whatever hair color or style they want. They should have or not have plastic surgery if they want. They should be able to be comfortable or outrageous or conservative or understated or over the top or all of the above depending on the day and their ever shifting moods. What a woman wears or how she presents herself to the world is entirely her business. Period. 

As a society, we want women over 50 to fade away. We ask them to "age gracefully." We suggest that they refrain from trying to look "too young" lest they appear "desperate." We tell them not to wear mini skirts or too much make-up or candy colored hair...or we tell them to seek the fountain of youth through anti-aging potions, serums, surgeries, and hair dye. These are the two sides of the same coin, the coin of shame. You are old now, so these are the new rules. Follow them or risk being judged. Try to look younger but don't try to look too much younger. Do this, do that! Wear this, don't wear that! You are OLD now, act your age!

I think it's high time that we stop telling women over 50 what to wear. It's time that we stop making grand declarations about what is and is not acceptable. It's time to stop demanding 'authenticity' as if you know what that is for someone else. Let's make a new rule, shall we? Do what makes you happy, allow others to do the same. Period.

Thrifted tunic, vintage bracelet, earrings and necklace designed and made by me, glitter glasses Kate Spade. Photo by Jennifer MacNeill Photography

Thrifted tunic, vintage bracelet, earrings and necklace designed and made by me, glitter glasses Kate Spade. Photo by Jennifer MacNeill Photography

Here's some unsolicited fashion advice for women over 50. When deciding what to wear you might ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does this make me happy?

2. Do I feel good when I wear this?

3. Do other people's opinions matter to me?

If it makes you happy, makes you feel good, and you don't give a flying fark what other people think, wear it. If it makes you feel sad or uncomfortable or you are concerned what other people will think, don't wear it. What is in or out or cool or uncool or pretty or ugly are subjective, arbitrary, and mostly irrelevant matters. After 50, you have earned the right to wear what you please. You always had that right. If someone feels compelled to piss in your cornflakes with their unsolicited opinions about your sartorial choices, feel free to tell them to kiss your sassy ass, sister.




How I Approach Fashion After 50

Thrifted Talbots dress and Steve Madden platforms, glasses EyeBuyDirect, hoops from LouLou Boutiques, necklace from Forever 21 years back, and gifted one of a kind glass bracelet. Photo by Avalon Potter

Thrifted Talbots dress and Steve Madden platforms, glasses EyeBuyDirect, hoops from LouLou Boutiques, necklace from Forever 21 years back, and gifted one of a kind glass bracelet. Photo by Avalon Potter

Hello, Gorgeous!

I've always found the articles that tell women what to wear at a certain age insipid and ill advised. Women should wear whatever the hell they want to wear. Period. Still, it can be frustrating trying to navigate fashion as we get older. Most of the clothes sold at retail are designed for younger women and clothing that is designed for older women can be a little...boring, safe, figure concealing, blah. Then the challenge becomes finding clothing that makes us feel stylish instead of dowdy. My secret? I don't shop much for clothing at retail, because there's so much good stuff at the thrift stores. This means I'm not always wearing what's 'in' and I don't give a hoot about the idea that you can't wear a style if you wore it the first time around. I wear what pleases me.

Once you reach your 50s, you likely have a sense of what works for you and what doesn't. You have, subsequently, cultivated your own sense of style. Style transcends fashion. If you were to define my overarching style, it would likely be vintage inspired with a modern flair. 

Thrifted dress and BCBG shoes, gifted jewelry designed by Daniel Espinosa.  Photo by Avalon Potter

Thrifted dress and BCBG shoes, gifted jewelry designed by Daniel Espinosa.

Photo by Avalon Potter

It's challenging dressing a changing body, and mine has changed significantly over the past 7 years. I'm still figuring out what works and what doesn't, in terms of cuts and styles that flatter my significantly curvier frame. Mass market clothing is cut/designed for smaller sizes and just making the same garment larger doesn't address the different proportions of a curvier body. Often the tops of dresses are too big on me because my breasts are not big enough in proportion to the rest of me to fit the standard measurements. Sometimes skirts, pants, or the bottoms of tops are too tight, because my curves tend towards my lower half. Some might say that I'm a pear, but I find the whole fruit comparison insulting. I'm not a pear, I'm just a woman with her own unique body shape, just like every other woman. 

I've never taken myself or fashion that seriously. The goal of fashion is to sell you clothing, the key to doing this is to make you feel compelled to buy the latest styles. What's in? What's out? In the age of fast fashion, it's becoming more difficult to discern. There's no need to be a slave to rules or trends or the unsolicited opinions of other people. I'm a big believer in doing what makes me happy and allowing other people the breathing room to do the same. I don't care what someone else wears or doesn't wear. That's their business. 

Photo by Avalon Potter

Photo by Avalon Potter

What do I know, for sure? I know that accessories are everything. They can take a simple outfit and elevate it immediately. I'm a fan of big and bold or delicate and simple. I don't do in between. I also make my own jewelry. I've written 7 books about the topic and created some easy to follow YouTube videos if you're interested in learning how! A great bag, fabulous shoes, a statement necklace, a wrist full of bodacious bangles, a printed scarf, a jaunty beret, I love a great accessory or three or four. I do try to edit, but I'm with Iris Apfel, "More is more and less is a bore!"

Thrifted Target dress, earrings H&M, bracelet was my grandmother's. Photo by Avalon Potter

Thrifted Target dress, earrings H&M, bracelet was my grandmother's. Photo by Avalon Potter

If someone were to ask me for fashion/style advice I'd suggest they lighten up and have some fun. Life's short. Fashion is fickle. Wear what makes you feel confident, happy, and beautiful, or wear what makes you feel bodacious and bad ass or wear what makes you feel comfortable. You do you! One day you may feel like a saucy minx, the next like a sophisticate. Some days you want to stand out and other days you want to go incognito. (This is not easy when you have hot pink hair...just sayin'.) You don't have to fit in or look like everyone else. Letting go of the desire to fit in is deliciously freeing.

When we were young, playing dress-up, fashion was fun. Then we got older and people started telling us what to wear. Dress codes, style rules, people who feel compelled to tell us how they feel about what we're wearing...

You can't wear that in public! Egads!

This is even more pronounced as we hit middle age. Every fashion expert with a blog or an Instagram is ready to tell us what to wear after 40 or 50 or 60. I prefer to blissfully ignore their directives. Regardless of the arbiters of style, fashion can be fun at any age. When we reach mid-age and we realize that rules are absurd, it's the perfect time to play dress-up again. 

How do I approach fashion after 50? With a healthy sense of whimsy and a complete lack of concern about how other people feel about that.

"Glitter up those eyelids and rave on, darling." 




Facing Rejection After 50

late bloomers.jpg

While I was working on this graphic recently, I received an email rejection. It happens. Getting an email is better than hearing nothing, which also happens. I'm sending out energy in every direction right now to promote the book. Or, to be blunt, I'm tossing as much a shit as possible at the walls and hoping some sticks. Yup, looking for the sticky shit. Unfortunately, this shit was not sticky.

As a creative, my entire adult professional experience has been about setting myself up to be rejected. As an actress auditioning for shows and then awaiting the reviews, as a TV talent auditioning for on-air spots, as a vocalist fronting bands, as a design expert writing books, articles, and creating DIY designs to inspire creativity, and now, as a writer. I could share all manner of stories about the humiliations and indignities I've endured. 

"They", the proverbial they, will say that you cannot be thin skinned and be a performer, writer, artist, or on-camera personality. The truth is, for all of my bravado and braggadocio, I'm a sensitive person. Creatives are supposed to just take rejection with a smile. We're not supposed to admit, out loud, that it hurts to put everything on the line and be casually dismissed. Well, guess what? It hurts to put everything on the line and be casually dismissed and I AM SAYING IT OUT LOUD. So there. 

When faced with rejection, I feel all the feelings. I have a good cry and beat myself up and start to think maybe I'm not worthwhile. It may take a day or so for me to dig myself out of the self pity pit. Yet, I grab a shovel and get to work. Rejection doesn't really get easier, but you get better at getting over it. 

I can focus on rejection, but that would grind down my resolve. Instead, I am going to focus on the feedback I am getting from women (and men) who have told me how much they love my new book. They love the honesty, the humor, and the painful truth about what we all experience as we grow older. They love the way I'm able to articulate the things they're feeling, and my willingness to talk about the things women mostly keep to ourselves. If the gatekeeper from the company that sent this email can't see the value in that message, that's their loss. 

Being a woman over 50 is to know rejection at a cellular level. Making it to your mid-century mark means you have survived. You know what it means to keep fighting the good fight even when you're bruised, broken, and beleaguered. You know what it takes to get up and get moving in the face of the worst that life might toss in your pathway.

That's what my book is about, surviving the rejection from a world that wants me to become invisible. I categorically refuse. There are millions of women over 50 who are struggling with the same rejections. They may be finding it harder to find a job, or facing the end of a partnership, or feathering the empty nest, or swimming through the pause that is meno, or finding the resolve to embrace the loss of their youth. Whatever they're experiencing, their experiences matter. 

We're here. We're over 50. Get over it.

We're not going anywhere, in fact, we're just getting started.

Rock on, 

It's About Time I Shift My Perspective


Summer is making the slow transition into fall, my awareness of this seems to increase every year. Falling leaves, fading plants, the increasingly insistent songs of insects, subtle shifts in the atmosphere...mid-August and I can sense it already. I have not had enough of summer, I long for the siren song of the ocean, the taste of salt air on my lips, the feeling of sand crunching under my feet, the long exhale. Yet, summer will fade and fall will arrive with winter nipping at its heels. My daughter is home for a nano-second before she leaves for a semester abroad. I'm facing another milestone birthday, which will be spent alone. The prospect of this does not delight. Yet, I shall embrace the new normal and flow with the increasing awareness of the passing of seasons, the continuum of the empty nest, and accept this new number of 55... 

In other news, or tangentially, or because my brain keeps hopping about as I tap at this keyboard, I have found being funny increasingly difficult since the last election. I keep reaching for it, though it mostly eludes. It's a weird new world filled with daily disappointments. I have adjusted with a weird new level of seriousness. Or more aptly, my underlying tendency towards Brooding Irish Melancholia is surfacing with more frequency. Don't get me wrong, I am not allowing my joy to be siphoned away, but it's being tempered by my awareness that we're living in strange and troubling times. 

Thinking. Thinking. As I am wont to do. So much of how we measure reality is structured by our perception of time. How fascinating that is. Today, tomorrow, daily, hourly, frequency, strange times, birthdays, age, years, passing, numbers... 

Seasons are real, but calendars and clocks are illusions. Knowing this, I attempt to release my attachment to arbitrary numbers on falsely constructed timelines. A little perspective is in order. 55 is not much of a leap from 50 or 45 or 39. A few more wrinkles, yes, but the core of me remains the same. What matters most remains the same. Time may keep slipping into the future, but that isn't a tragedy. I'm here. Seasons keep changing, and I keep marching bravely forward even through these strange and troubling times. Stranger and more troubling than times past? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It's all perspective. If time is an illusion, if it is a circle and not a straight line, if it is a matter of the observer and their perspective, then none of this matters in the grand cosmic scheme. It's all happening, it's already happened, it's going to, tomorrow, daily, hourly, frequency, strange times, birthdays, age, years, passing numbers...blah, blah, blah-biddy blah.

A hearty sense of absurdity is in order and this I shall seek to summon in spite of any melancholic undertones...or they may be. 

It's about time for a shift in my perspective. 

See what I did there? 

Cheers, darling. 





Slow Down, You Move too Fast

slow down you move too fast

It seems that time is on a rapidly escalating trajectory. I'm not a physicist, mind you, just a curious observer. Our hyper consumer culture combined with the urgent immediacy of social media and the insatiable beast of our constant connection have created a new reality. In this reality, we are incapable of being present in any moment. We must capture the moment, live stream the moment, filter the moment and our reactions through the lenses of our cell phones or computer screens. In doing so we diminish the power of the moment. We exist in a constant state of anticipation of the next moment, the next trend, the next episode, the next season, the next holiday! 

We are twice removed from reality, immersed in a pale and demanding reflection. 

Everything is filtered, curated, cropped, edited, and condensed into soundbites and snippets. Go to a museum or a public event and you will find most people holding up their phones. It's becoming increasingly difficult to see around them. 

Excuse me, folks, I was wondering if you could PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN so that I might observe the masterpiece on the wall...there in front of person?

Hello? Anyone? 

They start pushing Christmas in July, proof positive that there is no war on Christmas.  However, it leads me to believe there's a war on summer. I mean, really, JULY?! Can we save Christmas for after Halloween? Or save Halloween for after Labor Day? For the love of PUMPKIN SPICE, enough already! I prefer to enjoy beach balls, pool floats, and flip flops until the last possible moment before I embrace sweaters, boots, and spiced wafers. I'm surely not ready for peppermint lattes, Santa Claus, and jingle bells until there's a chill in the air and the pumpkin has melted into a moldy pile of pulp. 

Am I the only one who feels the strain? Is it just me standing in the middle of August surrounded by fall and winter decor while desperately clinging to my drippy ice cream cone?

Trends that used to linger for months and years burn out in a matter of weeks. Fast fashion is moving so fast H&M has a mountain of clothing they've resorted to burning. What's in? What's out? What's up? Those sandals are so last week, sister. They are?! Egads! Things go out of style before you've had a chance to wear them twice. Meanwhile, some trends are constantly being resurrected. Did they ever leave? How many times can we revisit gladiator sandals and wide leg jeans? But not worn together, good grief, have you no fashion sense?

Images that seemed appealing at first glance lose appeal when they've been plastered on everything from sweatshirts to sippy cups. How many llama encrusted items can one own?

That's a rhetorical question. 

All the llama encrusted items! Until the pineapple or unicorn or narwal or sloth or rainbow emerges victorious! What's next? Who knows?! Marmosets? Sea slugs? The oft neglected platypus?

We'll find out this week, as the tides keep shifting and the trends keep escalating. 

We binge watch our way through seasons of TV shows that used to unfold over the course of months and years. More, more, more! Faster! Louder! We want information and instruction and entertainment served up in smaller and smaller bits and pieces. The mini-series has morphed into the web series of 2 minute videos. Friendly faces have been replaced by hands moving at the speed of light as they create impossible to reproduce brightly colored internet friendly tutorials of DIY and Home Improvement projects. Real people are being replaced by virtual social media stars who lack the pesky imperfections of their human counterparts.

I miss being in the moment. I miss the slow burn. I miss sitting face to face and having thoughtful conversations. I miss the exquisite boredom of a lazy afternoon uninterrupted by social media notifications and the ever present and insistent cell phone. I find myself torn between the need to promote my book and my brand on the internet and the deep seated desire to unplug and reconnect with the real world. I've traded autonomy and serenity for an insatiable digitally escalated fake reality. Most of us have, and it's changing our brains and our relationships.

On the one hand, we are more connected than we've ever been. This allows us opportunities to meet people we would not have met before the digital age, and it allows us to reconnect with people we may have lost along the way. However, we're also more disconnected than we've ever been. Add into this fake news, online bullies, social media depression, decreasing attention spans, the loss of person to person connectivity, and the lack of immersion in the moment and I'm not sure if the trade off is worth the cost it exacts. And then there's the reality that the free platforms we're using to stay connected are built to observe, collect, sell, and exploit our data. This has had big real world consequences, as evidenced by Brexit and the 2018 election. 

Maybe this is a sign of my becoming old, rejecting the progress of technology. Perhaps by hanging on to the idea of being in the moment, of embracing reality, I'm clinging to something that will be lost to future generations. Virtual reality offers a perfection that reality lacks. Imperfection is what makes real life fascinating, but even imperfection can be mimicked. 

I'm trying to find a balance between the digital world and the actual world. I am not alone. There is a pull being felt by many to step away from the screens. People are growing weary of social media and the way it makes them feel. What is real is right in front of us, and we can feel it, taste it, touch it, and connect to it at any moment. There is so much to explore, if we're willing to put down our phones and reconnect. We don't have to race on the hamster wheel of fast fashion. There is no need to be slaves to the trend machine. We can savor a meal without sharing it on social media. We can engage the people around us as we move through the world. We can stay connected without feeding the data beast. 

Time is not moving faster, we are. I've decided that it's time to slow down. I'm not sure what that means yet, or how I will manifest it in my day to day reality. But I do know that I want more of that and less of this fast paced, frenetic illusion.







My At Home Teeth Whitening Experience

I found a great reason to #smilefearlessly! 

I found a great reason to #smilefearlessly! 

This post was sponsored by Smile Brilliant. I was provided with their Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening System and offered an extra kit to giveaway in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s said that a smile is the best (and cheapest) face lift. Over the past couple of years, I have found my smile losing its appeal. Drinking coffee and taking medicines for asthma were turning my teeth increasingly yellow. I started digitally whitening them for social media photos, but I can’t hide my tooth discoloration in my videos and there are no teeth filters for real life. This made me feel less and less excited about smiling. Yellow teeth were making me look older, which is the opposite of the best face lift! Sad face. I tried a variety of at home teeth whitening toothpastes, drug store home teeth whitening gels and strips, and even a higher end tooth whitening gel brush on system, but they irritated my gums and my teeth didn’t really get much whiter. I explored professional teeth whitening through our family dentist, but it costs well over 500 hundred dollars and it just wasn’t in our budget.

I was contacted recently by the folks from Smile Brilliant about trying their tooth whitening system. I decided to say yes, even though I was skeptical. Were my gums going to hurt again? Was this going to make a real difference? I get product review requests all the time, but I only say yes when I think it may be interesting/valuable to my readers. Since they offered a kit to one of YOU and to me, I decided to take their system for a test drive!  Win-win!

I received a package with multiple sealed syringes of teeth bleaching gel and desensitizing gel for use when whitening sensitive teeth, step-by-step instruction cards, a container for my custom fit dental trays, and everything needed to get a set of custom trays fitted to my teeth. The packaging is terrific, and it has lots of information to help guide you through creating your custom fit teeth whitening trays and using the system.

My tooth molds ready to ship back to Smile Brilliant!

My tooth molds ready to ship back to Smile Brilliant!

You receive a two-part putty you mix by hand, place into a form, and press into your upper and then repeat and press into your lower teeth. They guide you through the process to help you make perfect impressions. In case you have any problems, they give you a second set of two-party putty mixture to try again. The key is to be sure that you mix the putty until the colors are fully integrated. Since I’ve used a lot of two-part putty for crafting, I knew how it worked. It’s soft and easy to press into the molds, and it doesn’t take long for the putty to set once you press it on your teeth. You make impressions of your upper and lower teeth. Once you’ve created your molds, you ship them back in the provided postage paid envelope. Their lab will use your molds to create your custom trays. You’ll get your custom fit dental trays back in 3-5 business days.

As soon as you get your custom made dental trays, you can get started whitening! Before you begin, brush your teeth with water to remove any food particles. Squeeze a thin ribbon of the tooth whitening gel (which is 22% carbamide peroxide) into the front of trays, be sure your teeth are dry, then apply the trays, and whiten for 45 minutes at a time. If you are not experiencing sensitivity, you can increase the whitening time to up to three hours a session.  I found it easiest to keep a glass with me to spit out any excess saliva/gel while whitening, you don’t want to swallow the gel. Yeah, it was kinda gross, but not a big deal!

My at home Teeth Whitening Experience with Smile Brilliant!

My at home Teeth Whitening Experience with Smile Brilliant!

After whitening, brush with toothpaste. If you have the sensitive kit, like I did, there’s one more step. Clean and dry the whitening trays, squeeze a thin ribbon of the desensitizing gel into the trays and reapply the trays for 15 minutes. Remove the trays, spread gel around your gums and teeth and carry on! You don’t have to brush your teeth after you whiten.

This was the first time I’ve used at home teeth whitening products and not had gum or tooth sensitivity. If you are experiencing any gum or teeth sensitivity issues, you can apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your gums before whitening to protect them and whiten every other day instead of daily. I didn’t find that I needed to do either. I started seeing results after my first session, and after a week and a half of daily 45 minute sessions, my teeth look significantly whiter.

Before and after using Smile Brilliant Tooth Whitening System.

Before and after using Smile Brilliant Tooth Whitening System.

Everyone’s teeth will reach a different whiteness level. Mine are not brilliant white, but they are exponentially brighter. I am so much happier with how they look! I’m smiling more and not self-conscious about my smile. I plan to keep using Smile Brilliant to maintain my results.

My impression? If you’ve been looking for an easy to use and effective solution for whitening teeth at home, Smile Brilliant is well worth the cost. It’s far less expensive than the system a dentist would use, and far more effective than less expensive products you’d find at a drug or other retail store. Once you use up the product in your kit, you can order more tooth whitening gel from their website to help you maintain your new smile! Great news for my international readers, Smile Brilliant ships worldwide!

I'm even feeling bold enough to share a no makeup photo and my new smile! Apparently Charlie approves. 

I'm even feeling bold enough to share a no makeup photo and my new smile! Apparently Charlie approves. 

I’m seriously excited to share that Smile Brilliant is offering a 15% discount to my readers using the code margotpotter15 AND one of you can win a full kit! (Open to US, UK, Canada, and Australia only) The retail value of this kit is $149.00! 

Here's the Giveaway Link! Good luck! 

You’ll be able to start whitening your teeth as soon as you get your custom tooth whitening trays back in the mail.

How cool is that?!


I’m smiling just thinking about it…because I love smiling again!

Lifestyle Changes, the Humorists of Diets


I've been implementing some lifestyle changes over the past four weeks. Lifestyle changes are the sophisticated older cousins of diets. They're like jazz or silk scarves or soft leather high end driving shoes. Lifestyle changes may not have the impact of a crash diet or a 30-day extreme exercise program, but that's what makes them sustainable. A tweak here, a tweak there, remove this or that from the plate-add this or that to the regimen. All substance, no flash. 

Last week I saw a billboard for an upcoming appearance by a 'humorist.' A humorist is the sophisticated older cousin of the comedian. Subtle humor for the erudite. Hearty guffaws and rip snorting chuckles are not guaranteed. Slight smiles, occasional quiet giggles may ensue. If you're looking to laugh your ass off, you need not apply. Comedians are so gauche. I mean, really. How many dick jokes can one endure? Take a walk on the mild side with the somewhat amusing musings of Dolores DuCharmet, humorist to the stars.

Lifestyle Changes are the humorists of diets. 

So far my subtle lifestyle changes have included almost daily 3 mile walks and removing coffee, sugar, bread and bread-like substances from the daily rotation. I can't drink coffee without sugar and half and half, so I've let it go. There has been an increase in berries, green leafy items, various and sundry vegetables, beans, nuts, and lean proteins. I've added more water, though it has not been easy. I don't like the way water tastes. You will tell me that water has no flavor, but you are incorrect. It has a weird, bitter, sad flavor that lingers after every sip. 

Sips water, sighs.

Yup, blech.

I've cut back on the consumption of wine, though the Queen of England, who looks to be on trajectory for immortality, has a glass of bubbly every evening before bed AND a pre-lunch cocktail. What's good for the Queen should be good for the rest of us. Yet, calories and weight loss and health concerns and yadda, yadda, yadda... I'll reserve my royal beverage imbibing activities for the weekend. This is a fancy humorist way of saying I'm cutting out alcohol and replacing it with...blergh...water. Huzzah.

I would like to report that my lifestyle changes have resulted in significant changes in my body. However, I have shed but a scant few pounds resulting in my being much the same curvy and slightly lumpy person I was four weeks ago. Walking is not a huge calorie burner, but my lungs and my gimpy right tennis elbow afflicted arm preclude me from more vociferous physical activities at this juncture. The thing is, when you go on a fad diet and you lose a bunch of weight quickly, it's satisfying but more often than not unsustainable. It's all flash and glitter that leads to crash and burn. I'm in this for the long haul. Therefore, regardless of how long it takes for these subtle changes to become evident, I shall march bravely with my water bottle in tow chewing on a leafy green something or other resolutely.

Stay tuned for my upcoming book: Lose Weight SLOWLY with Light Exercise and Simple Dietary Alterations with Madge's Lifestyle Changes, the Humorists of Diets. Introduction by Dolores DuCharmet, actual humorist.





Dog Days of Summer

same same.jpg

I have this thing with dogs. 

I love them. I love dogs. It's like Oprah with bread, except it's dogs. 

I. Love. Dogs.

If knowing weird dog breeds was a thing one could do for a living, I'd be in high demand. Sadly, it is not, which is why I'm blogging about dogs for the sheer fun of it. 


You may think I am exaggerating my dog breed knowledge, but you would be incorrect. Recently whilst speeding through DC in an Uber with my daughter, she pointed to a funky looking dog across the street.

"Look at that dog! What is that?" My daughter asked.

"Oh, that's a Dandie Dinmont." I replied, matter of factly, as if Dandie Dinmonts just spramped around every dog park or sidewalk on a regular basis.

"What's a Dandie Dinmont? Did you make that up?"

I make things up all of the time so it wasn't out of the question.

"It's a terrier. Google it."

Behold, the noble Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Behold, the noble Dandie Dinmont Terrier

And so she did.

Et voila, behold the Dandie Dinmont. Weird little dog, eh? Almost as weird as an Affenpinscher, almost.

Above you will find a picture of me with Cupcake, the poodle. As you can see, clearly, Cupcake is my spirit animal. Cupcake is also one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. I meet dogs all of the time. I'm the annoying lady who simply HAS TO come and pet your dog, even if you seem nonplussed by the idea. Just let me pet your dog, it will be quick and painless and we can all get on with our lives. 

I have three dogs. Our three slightly irregular shelter dogs are horribly behaved and incapable of walking together in a public space. This is my fault, not theirs. My husband and I have tried and tried and tried to train them to walk together. We have tried various and sundry leashes. We have tried treat training. We have tried behavioral modification.

None of this has proved useful. 

I know all about dogs and dog breeds, but I am not a dog whisperer.

Oh no.

I am a Dog Yellerer. 

Cricket Bug, Charlie, and Pilkington

Cricket Bug, Charlie, and Pilkington

I owned the url for a while, but what can one do with that, really? Dog Yellerers don't get TV shows or accolades, they get sidelong glances from neighbors who question their sanity. My dogs have selective hearing and a propensity for peeing on my newly planted perrenials. They are also, all three of them, so deeply disturbed by wet grass that they refuse to pee in the yard when it's raining or after it has rained or when the dew is too heavy in the wee small hours of the morning. (Dew, wee small hours, see how I did that?) Two of my dogs are terrier mixes and the third is a Shih-Poo, or as we like to call him, a Shit-Poo. I'd explain why we named him that but trust me when I tell you, it's best we don't discuss it. That is me with our three misfit dogs in the photo there. They're cute, right?

I love my dogs, but I do yell at them. I am not proud of this. 

I don't yell horrible things at them, I just yell at them to stop barking and stop peeing on my perrenials and stop peeing on my deck furniture and stop barking at the neighbors' dogs. I also yell at them when they sneak off and pee or poo in the dining room, a frequent rainy day activity. Anything to avoid the dreaded wet paws. Some days I do a lot of yelling, because they do a lot of peeing. This is absurd, because I'm basically barking at my dogs. I'm sure this confuses them.

Am I joining them? Am I encouraging them? Why is this lady always barking at us?

Why, indeed.

If I could, I'd probably have more than three dogs, but my husband would leave me and I like having him around. Besides, the dogs love him. This might be because he is not a Dog Yellerer. When he's out of town, they love me, but as soon as he gets home they drop me like a cold dog biscuit. 

Whatever, barking lady. 

My husband and I have been walking for exercise in a local park lately. Our dogs are not good at walking together, as I mentioned earlier, so it is just the two of us on these walks. There is a proliferation of dogs at the park every day, this is extremely exciting for me. I must point out each dog, name the breed, get as excited as a three year old at an ice cream party, and then I must say hello and pet them. Today we saw a Basset Hound named Heinz, an Airedale Terrier named Tulpy, a standard Poodle whom I was not able to pet, and a Chihuahua named Coco. Who knows what excitement awaits us tomorrow? 

After all, these are the Dog Days of Summer, literally and figuratively.

Sirius-ly. Ruff-ly speaking. Gives one paws for reflection, doesn't it? Fleas, believe me. 

Good lord, it has come to this. 

This blog post has gone to the dogs.







Who Are You Calling Old Lady?

I Will Age As I Please.png

Greetings and Salutations,

Today we're talking about ageism and archaic linguistic idiocy.

Yeah, it's about to get real.

According to

"OId Lady: An elderly woman.




  1. (of a person) old or aging.

    "she was elderly and silver-haired"

    synonyms: aged, old, advanced in years, aging, long in the tooth, past one's prime;

    gray-haired, grizzled, hoary; 

    in one's dotage, decrepit, doddering, doddery, senescent; 

    informal getting on, past it, over the hill, no spring chicken

    "her elderly mother"

    old people, the aged, senior citizens;

    geriatrics, seniors;

    retired people, retirees, golden agers;

    informal oldsters, geezers"

First and foremost, who are you calling hoary, honey?

No spring chicken?

Cluck off.

Decrepit? Grizzled? Doddering? Geezer? OLDSTER?!


Nope. Not having it today...or tomorrow. Fairly sure that I'm not having it ever. Take that and stuff it in your toaster oven. 

Ageism is real, it's shitty, and I'm done with it. Why do we continue to cling to these archaic modes of thinking? People are living much longer, and more than that they're thriving and evolving and contributing much longer. They're retiring later, and many people aren't retiring at all. Old age is not what it used to be, and it's is changing rapidly as science continues to discover new pathways for longevity and vitality. Yet, our attitudes towards numbers on a timeline have not shifted, we're more age-phobic than ever.

Long in the tooth. Aged out. Over the hill. Past one's prime. There is inherent bias in all of these phrases and that bias trickles down into our cultural subconsciousness. Then it filters into the way in which we treat people over a certain age, and the manner in which we lump them all together and roundly dismiss them. We don't respect the elderly, we just insist that they disappear so we don't have to think about them. This starts at age 50, which is patently absurd as I've bemoaned vociferously in the past. 

We are terrified of death, and concurrently we are terrified of aging. Old people remind us of our fragility. Old women, in particular, terrify us. After all, the archetype of the wicked witch is the haggard old woman so desperate to regain her youth she'd murder children or beautiful young women for it. Youth being the prize we all covet, above wisdom, experience, insight, skill, and knowledge. All of the things we gain as we make our journey from youth to old age are meaningless when compared to youth, according to our cultural mythology. 

Age may just be a number, but people are obsessed with the numbers. They're also obsessed with telling other people how to think, act, dress, love, and live. This is particularly true for women. It is even more true for women of a certain age.

Age gracefully! Don't dare wear this after 50! Act like a lady! Act your age! You're too old for that!

The scrutiny is excruciating, and the rule making and judging relentless. 

I will not fit into your box. I will not conform to your requests. I will not accept your labels. I will not age gracefully. I will not make myself smaller to make other people comfortable. The world will have to shift, because I'm not shifting. I'll be an 'old lady' when I'm damn good and ready and not a moment sooner. I don't owe anyone an explanation or an apology for being five notches too loud, three notches too sparkly, and aging disgracefully. I will wear what I please, say what I please, think what I please, love whom I please, vote as I please, and live as I please. I will allow everyone else the breathing room to do the same. You do you, I'm going to keep doing me over here. I intend to keep being a bold, bodacious, bad ass bitch until the bitter-no scratch that-until the blissful end. If that's a problem for you, it's entirely your problem.

That's all I've got to say about that. Today. 

I made a video to go with this post, perhaps you will enjoy it. 

(If you like this post, you might like my new book Fifty and Other F-Words. I'm just sayin'.)





Defiantly 55: Rewriting Outmoded Aging Scripts

Old Lady Things.jpg

Hello, Gorgeous! 

When I turned 50, I was surprised to find out that I had crossed over into the dark side. According to the arbitrars of aging. I was...old. 

"What? 50? That's not old!"

"Oh, honey, 50 is old." 

"It is?! Why didn't anyone warn me I had an expiration date? Damn it, people!" 

Media, advertisers, marketers, manufacturers, and retailers ever in search of the younger demographic, are happy to drop older women like hot potatoes. Or hot flash potatoes. Or sweaty old spuds.

"Sorry, sweaty old spud, but we're keen on tastier tater tots these days."

"Tater tots? Please. They're so juvenile."


I'm sliding into 55 next month and suddenly I'm hitting a new milestone. I'm even less desirable than I was at 50, because I'm about to join the auspicious group known as 55 and older! Aw yiss! Congratulations! You made it! Woo hoo! Hello SENIOR! That's right, you can move into a 55 and older community! You get old people discounts! You are completely irrelevant to marketers! Are you a lady? You're even more irrelevant, because you don't need Viagra! We won't show ladies like you in sexy commercials with a hot young guy lounging on a bed while soft porn music plays and your old lady hair blows in the breeze of a fan. That's right, you're special like that. Nobody cares about your sex life, lady. Get a cat and some sensible shoes and exit stage left, thank you.

This is patently absurd! I don't feel old, I don't look old, and I'm not interested in 'old lady' things. I don't even know what 'old lady' things are. What are 'old lady' things? Doilies? Rubber swim caps? Toilet paper cozies? Gingham bloomers? Do they even sell those anymore?

Who decides this stuff?  

I imagine there are lots of women over 55 collectively scratching their heads. We're punk rock, independent, defiant women of substance, and that doesn't change the moment we hit some arbitrary age milestone. We're the same person at 55 that we were the day before. We are the largest demographic with the most discretionary income, and we've got YEARS left to earn it and spend it. 

Old lady my ass.

You can take that outmoded, archaic, patriarchal pile of crapadoodledoo and stuff it in a pair of gingham bloomers. This feisty feminist isn't having any of it. And hey, media, brands, marketers, advertisers...wake the hell up! 

"That sweaty old spud's got some spice in her britches."

"Yes, yes I do. Take that, tater tot." Tosses back her hot pink mane, straightens her lady pants, and sashays into her day. 

(If you like this post, and really what's not to like unless you're a tater tot, you might like my new book Fifty and Other F-Words. I'm just sayin'.)




How to Sell and Market Your Book

How to Sell and Market Your Book (1).png

Hello, Gorgeous! (or Handsome, what have you...)

Happy Thursday, which feels like Monday. I'm not sure that I'm down with the mid-week holiday. Alas, I am not in charge of scheduling. If I were, we'd probably have a lot more holidays and four day weekends would be a thing. Or, in the case of this week, the elusive five day weekend. Can I get a what, what? 

Today I'm talking about How to Sell and Market Your Book. I get messages and emails from people all of the time asking me these questions. It usually starts with something like, "I was hoping I could pick your brain..." 

My first thought is, "Um, no. Ew. Please keep your pick away from my gray matter."

My response is usually something more like, "I wish I had concrete answers, a 12-step program for writing a book, getting it published, and marketing it successfully. I don't even have a 3-step program, or any program at all. I'm not even good at getting with the program or sticking to the program."

Years back I wrote a series on The Impatient Crafter blog called How to Write and Publish a Craft Book. This was because I got so many emails from people asking for advice it was easier to just point them to my blog. Everything is different now, and my new book Fifty and Other F-Words (affiliate link) is a non-fiction humor title. So, here's my newly created program for How to Sell and Market Your Book. The short version is this: Honestly, I don't know, but here's what worked for me.  

Step One: Be prepared. If you want to get published, have a pitch ready and a manuscript or at the very least an outline and some sample chapters. In fact, it's a good idea to have a few pitches in your pocket, you never know which one might be the right one at the right time. (This is obvious, but it's kind of important that you have a 'voice' and a strong grasp of writing basics.)

Publishing has changed. Advances are smaller. Publishers are much less open to taking risks. Like most creative endeavors, it's a crap shoot and you need to be prepared, flexible, tenacious, and resilient. If you believe in your ideas and your talent, keep pitching, some of the most successful writers in history were rejected many, many, many times before becoming successful.

My most recent book was an anomaly. I spoke with an editor at a craft industry trade show who was looking for a book on metal stamped jewelry. I just happened to have a proposal I had sold to another publisher. The advance they'd offered was so paltry, I declined their offer. So, I pitched the slightly retooled proposal to the new publisher, they reviewed it, and they loved it. 

Step Two: Always, always, always be diplomatic. People like working with nice people. 

We went back and forth about this book for months. There was no formal offer, timeline, or contract. After six months of waiting, the editor emailed and said a contract was on the way. I waited. I waited. I waited some more. Finally, several months later, I heard from the editor again. She was leaving the publisher to go back to school. They dropped the book. What?! I was deflated and upset, but I did not fire off a snarky email. The email was cc'd to her bosses, a senior editor and the Editorial Director. I typed out a brief and diplomatic reply thanking her for letting me know and suggesting that they keep me in mind for future opportunities.

Step Three: Make it easy for people to find you and your creative content. Make a lot of content, because the more you put yourself out there, the easier it is for people to find you. 

There was a link to my blog in my signature, that blog was all about being a woman over 50.  Two hours later I got an email from the senior editor and Editorial Director. They wanted to know if I'd like to talk with them about writing a humor book about being a woman over 50. WHAT?! YES! YES! YES! We chatted, we clicked, and we moved forward. I had dozens of essays already written, so it was easy for me to put a proposal together. They loved the proposal. Sales loved the concept. They purchased the book, and I got to work.

Step Four: Do your research. Why do they want your book? What do you have to offer that they can't find somewhere else? What makes you and your book worthwhile?

My first book The Impatient Beader was sold with a blind query. That means I sent a proposal to a publisher following the guidelines on their website and they purchased it. It was a craft book on jewelry making. The chance of getting a book deal out of a blind query is pretty slim, yet, as evidenced by my experience, not impossible. The timing and the approach were in tune with what the market needed at that time. I did a lot of stealth market research before I pitched, to see what was already on the market and what was missing. It's my best selling book to date. I have not made a fortune on craft books, even though three of my books were in the center of every bead aisle in every Michaels craft store in the country for three years. This leads us to contract negotiations.

Step Five: Contracts are for suckers, try not to be one.

Don't just sign the first contract you receive. Contracts are created to favor the entity presenting them. Look for royalty percentages, ask a lot of questions like: Can I have more of this and more of that? Can I retain these rights? Ask for more, because you aren't going to get it unless you ask and the worst they can do is say no. Grab a Sharpie and your resolve and get ready to ask for MORE!

There is a lot to pick through in a contract. This is why an agent is helpful. They can look through the horrid contracts publishers give to authors and get you a better deal. I have no idea how to get an agent. I hear good things about them, though. 

Step Six: Bring your fans with you!

Once you've sold the book, you need to start working on PR and marketing. Don't start this until you've signed the contracts. Once the ink is dry, let folks know you're on your way to having a published book. Start with the announcement that you sold the book. Post regular updates to maintain momentum and interest. People like to feel like they're a part of your journey! Bring your friends, fans, and followers along for the ride!

Step Seven: Make a marketing plan. 

When you have a firm publishing date confirmed, start making a master plan. Who is the demographic for your book? That will determine which social media platform will require most of your attention. My book is for women over 50, they are mostly on Facebook. There is also a contingent on Instagram. So most of my efforts have been focused there.

Think about the content you will share on the platforms. I made a book trailer, which I paid to promote on my public Facebook page, cross posted it on my YouTube Channel, and promoted across social media. You can watch it, if you're so inclined. For my book, memorizing and reciting part of an essay seemed like the best approach to give people a taste of what was inside. If your book is fiction, that may not be the best approach. If your book is a DIY book, maybe show some projects and give some tips/tricks. The Book Trailer should entice people to buy your book, so make it interesting. I'm an actress, so I appear in my trailer, if you're camera shy, maybe use images and voice over. Or maybe a book trailer isn't a good plan for your title, peek around to see what other writers in your genre are doing. Lots of people hate book trailers, but I really felt it was a good way to promote my book so I went ahead and made one. 

Step Eight: Launch your book with some BUZZ!

Fifty and Other F-Words (affiliate link) launched with interviews of seven "kick ass warrior women" over 50. It was fun to share the spotlight with a variety of fascinating women and it also allowed me to reach new people because all of these women have their own followings. Cross marketing is always a good idea. That's how you build a tribe. 

If you have an email list, send out newsletters! Send one out when you sign your contract, a couple of updates as you work towards publishing date, a reminder right before the book publishes, and a book launch email! 

Step Nine: Have a Book Launch Party and make it social media friendly!

My book launch party on the date of publication was at Club Cumming in NYC. My friend Brini Maxwell co-hosts a Knitatnite event there every week. This gave me a built in audience within the demographic of the title and lots of fun fodder for social media. I brought some books and prizes to give away, and gave away some sweet swag bags. I put a promotional card for the book in every bag. I did a reading from the book that was thematically relevant to the event. My husband shot a video which I edited and shared via social media. You can watch that video too, if you're so inclined.

I had another event in Denver Colorado at Cultivated Synergy with the Denver Public Library. We tied crafting and the book together, and I was able to get a craft company to help with free kits for folks to use at the craft event. I had to pay for my travel, and got a small compensation that covered half of my expenses. (Note: It's not cheap to launch a book tour, which is why I am not on a book tour. Most publishers don't have money for book tours these days unless you're a big name author.  Be strategic and reach out to any contacts you have who might be willing to let you host an event.)

Step Ten: Be a squeaky wheel. Don't wait to get invited to the party. Ask for help, ask for more, and be willing to go the extra mile in service of promoting your book.

I pressed my publisher to let me sign books at BEA-Book Expo America. I paid for my hotel and travel expenses and cost of attendance. The signing was a huge success and hopefully helped to sell some books to retailers and libraries. BEA was a an eye opening experience, and I'm so glad that I spent the money to attend. (Note: I requested a marketing budget on top of the initial advance offer. Basically, I asked for a larger advance, which means it's still on my dime. They agreed. The events and the marketing online have all been funded by that budget.)

Step Eleven: Be creative! Try a variety of approaches to getting the word out about the book!

I've been creating graphics with quotes from the book for Instagram, which has gotten some decent traction. Every platform is different; you have to think strategically. What works on one may not work on another. Also, if you want to get real traction on Facebook, you will need to pay for promotion. They are very particular about your content. The word to image ratio is a factor if you're using graphics. They don't want anything that blatantly looks like an ad. If a post is not approved, you may need to tweak it to fit their parameters. I find spending about $20.00 a time to boost a post works just fine. You can go in and target the post to the demographic you're trying to reach. Facebook lets you drill it down pretty far. Try different approaches/audiences/content to see what gets the most traction. 

Ask your friends and fans to review your book. The more reviews your book gets on Amazon, the better it will be positioned in the algorithms. I ask people to be honest if they decide to leave a review. People seem to genuinely like my new book, but I'm sure there will be folks who don't and I'm prepared for that. 

Step Twelve: Don't get discouraged, stay tenacious. 

What I'm finding difficult is getting traction in the mainstream media. The publisher sent out press releases and advance copies, we've both contacted a long list of media outlets. I've also sent out my own releases and book copies, and there has been no response. This is ironic, because a big part of the book and the impetus behind it is that women over 50 are ignored. We feel like we're becoming invisible. Retailers, manufacturers, advertisers, web, print, and TV media...focus on younger women. So, the fact that I can't get traction in the mainstream media is not surprising. However, I will not stop pushing this book and the message because I know there are millions of women out there just like me and they want to be celebrated. 

The truth is, publishing PR budgets are small, so it's mostly up to you to market your book. That means getting comfortable with tooting your own horn. Connect with other writers online, join groups of writers who regularly cross promote, sign up for newsletters from websites with information for writers. You can do this! Really!

(Note: If you can afford a publicist, I am sure they're well worth the expense. They have contacts and connections you do not have, and they can get your book into the right hands to help amplify the message. Unfortunately, I don't have a budget for a publicist. Therefore, I'm the publicist. That's the case for most authors who aren't famous.)

And that, my fine friends, is a bit of insight about How to Sell and Market Your Book according to Margot Potter author of Fifty and Other F-Words, available wherever fine books are sold. (See what I did there? Tee hee.) Hopefully this helps get you on your way. I wish you the best in pursuing your publishing dreams and in promoting your books. It's a bit of a crap shoot, but less so if you prepare yourself with information and maintain your enthusiasm. If you are a writer or agent or publicist with some insights, feel free to add them to the comments below. Oh, and if you'd like a little insight on The Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion (affiliate link)I wrote the book on that.

No, seriously. 








Beulah, Peel Me a Grape

Plus Size.png

Hello, Gorgeous!

Yes, I'm talking to you!

Some things happened over the past week, interesting things. Subtle shifts in attitude and perception. Internal shifts in perspective. A little moving and shaking, if you will. Nothing tectonic, but a blip on the Richter scale. The plates are most definitely adjusting.

It started with a realization that my upper arms, though saggy and lumpy and quite frankly lacking in appeal, can no longer live under oppressive sleeves when it's over 90 degrees outside. That's right folks, I'm letting my flappy arms flap freely. Flap it, who flapping cares? I mean, at least I have arms and they work! How flapping cool is that?

Waves her arms in the air, waves 'em like she just doesn't care. 

Because she doesn't.

Maybe if I dream big enough and flap vociferously enough I can achieve lift off! You never know until you try.

Speaking of flappy, or flabby, or saggy, or what have you, I have also decided that I'm accepting my new body as it is. It is not the original model, and I've not been a fan of the alterations made over the past 7 years by menopause and medicines and my inability to breathe. (Okay and yes, perhaps some culinary predilections and questionable beverage choices.) Still, it is the body I currently inhabit and as such, I can no longer pretend it is a temporary situation. 

I've got a big butt and I cannot lie!

With this new level of acceptance, weirdly enough, I'm newly motivated to change my eating and moving habits. I am not holding my breath, because I can't breathe that well. I am releasing the hold that caffeine has on me by giving up coffee, a drink I cannot consume without half and half and a lump or two of sugar. 

Bye, coffee!

I'm also putting desserts, bread, and other such carbohydrate and sugar rich things on notice. Not to say I will never entertain them again, I'm just taking them off of my regular rotation. So, that's happening, and if I should lose a little flappy flab, that would be delicious. If I don't, that's okay too. I like me, big me, little me, flappy me, mid-range me...whatever me I am at any given moment. 

In other news, we're walking in the mornings! I hit 10,000 steps yesterday! This is new and exciting! Since I sit on my big butt and type most days, this is a big deal! I make no promises, but hopefully I can maintain forward momentum.

In other, other news, I had a pre-cancerous thingy (acnitic keratosis) freezer ray blasted off of my face today. So, that was fun. Okay, not really. It hurt. It still hurts. I'm just glad it wasn't skin cancer. Once it flakes off or saunters away or hits the road with a tiny knapsack on its back, it's one less thing about which I have to worry. To be honest, I've been worried about a few skin thingies for a while now, and I'm glad to find out that all is well in Skin Town. Phew! Sunscreen, cover ups, and big hats are your friends, folks. Trust me. 

In other, other, other news, I was rejected by a big retailer who I was hoping would carry my book yesterday. It hit me a little hard, and I cried and felt sad for myself. Then I got the hell over it because it's their loss. In spite of their suggestion that it was not 'worthwhile', this book is fabulous and so am I! So there.

Every day around 4pm I hit a wall and feel completely defeated and deflated and dejected. I get up early every day filled with enthusiasm and give it 100% until I can't give it any more. Then I unwind and let go of the things I cannot control. This is a shift, because I am a control freak. I want the world to find Fifty and Other F-Words, so much so that I'm trying everything in my power to amplify the message. It's frustrating not getting as much traction as I'd like and yet, it's kind of ironic. The gatekeepers in general are disinterested in women over 50, and that's the challenge, that's a major point in the book. do I get around the gatekeepers?

I don't know, but it's almost 4 and I'm on day two without coffee and my face thingy is hurting, so I'm going to sashay my big sassy ass upstairs and unwind...which may or may not include unwine-ding. Just because I'm changing my diet does not mean I'm giving up wine, folks. 

Oh. Hell. No.

Not until the Orange Menace has left the building, and by Orange Menace I mean POTUS and by the building I mean the White House. In case there was any confusion.

Oh Beulah, peel me a grape!


Guest Post: Recreating Her Identity, One Day at a Time


Today I'm delighted to share a guest post from author Cheryl Bannerman.:

Four years ago. Two days before Thanksgiving to be exact. It was a day I will never forget. Not just the day before I buried my father, but the day I lost my identity. I guess it would be better if I start at the beginning.

Growing up in a rural part of Southern New Jersey, in a middle-class family, the youngest and only girl of three siblings, I enjoyed a good life of private schools, lavish vacations and the adoration of my parents, married for 54 years to date. My mother introduced me to books at an early age and encouraged me to not only read, but also write. I remember having my first poem published in a collective book of poetry at the age of only 13.

As an adult, I achieved various Undergraduate and Graduate degrees, successfully founded and operated my own Training and Development company, raised a special needs child on my own, and became a published multi-genre author of fiction.

But the age of 42, before burying my father, I learned a truth about my entire life that would shatter my identity, as I knew it. I was NOT my parent’s biological child. It was a secret that apparently every single person in the family knew…but me.

Soon after, I was forced to bury my mother along with the family secret, proceeded to finally break free of a 10-year abusive marriage, and pick up the pieces of my life to start over in Florida. Searching tirelessly through public records for answers, with zero results, I had emotionally crashed and burned, with no hope of a happy future. And unfortunately, the emotional pain triggered even worse results on my medical conditions. But one day through my pain and tears, I saw a light of hope. I realized that my mom and dad loved me, and gave me a good life, and that I could mold my future into whatever I wanted it to be. I immediately wanted to spread the good news to other people who had also lost hope, were suffering from depression, or were caught in an abusive relationship, that there WAS hope. You CAN recreate your identity at whatever age and create your own ‘happy ending’ in life.

Ultimately, through my faith in God, sense of humor, and intense ‘talk’ therapy, I was able to ‘recreate my identity’ and come to terms with the truth. Here are some of the ways I did this:

*   Asked for help/support/guidance

*  Allowed myself to grieve (i.e. cry, scream, sleep, shop, etc.)

*   Learned how to say NO/Set boundaries

*   Detoxified my life of all negative people and influences (includes news & social media) & forgave those who were not sorry

*  Treated/Pampered myself

* Talked about those I missed – i.e. happy times as a child, funny stories about my parents, etc.

* Achieved my short-term goals and set new long-term goals

Another way I healed is through my writing. One of the few female authors to introduce topics of social concern within ‘fictional’ stories, my books draw from my most intimate life experiences and include characters who have been victims of child molestation and domestic violence, and who suffer from depression and various other addictions. For example, my second book, Words Never Spoken, which just won the 2018 Book Excellence Award, is a self-help, poetry, chapter-book about a woman who escaped an abusive relationship, and even includes self-reflection journal pages for you to document your feelings and begin healing.

Cheryl Powell.jpg

My goal now is to continue helping victims of Domestic Abuse/Violence, Grief and ANON family groups, and Corporate Health and Wellness groups, to heal — creating their own ‘Happy Ending’…One Day at a Time.

Author/CEO/Speaker: Cheryl Powell (writing under Pen Name: Cheryl Denise Bannerman)

You can learn more about the author, Cheryl Bannerman, on the Bannerman Books web site.

And purchase any of her works of fiction on her Amazon Author page.

Connect with her on Social Media here:

Facebook Twitter Instagram Goodreads


More Fun with Mean Girls

Rising Tides Fifty.png

Speaking of civility, which I was yesterday, I stumbled on yet another thread of women whom I thought enlightened and thoughtful disparaging a women they do not know on social media. It's a topic that fascinates and frustrates me, because I believe passing judgments is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that keeps women from progressing.

Why do we do it? What is the point?

I'm particularly disappointed when it's women over 50 acting like mean girls, because we should know better. C'mon, ladies. Haven't we learned anything about the impact of words, the importance of kindness, the joy of being a rising tide? Not a thing? Zip? Zilch? Zero?

After all, we're being judged constantly by a society that insists we've reached our expiration date. Somebody get the hook!

This is nonsense, of course, but it's a prevailing narrative. In silently accepting it and then enforcing it, we are dragging other women down.

Did you see what she's wearing?

Oh my GOD, that hair!

Why did she do that to her face, she was so pretty?

She'd be beautiful if she'd just stop...

Like hens in a barnyard, women attack other women pecking at them relentlessly until they bleed. If a woman dares to step outside of the circle of what is acceptable, well, she better gird her loins. The mean girls are coming for her, and they're not going to hold back. 

Seriously, WTF, women?

And yes, I realize that I am passing judgment on these women. Judge Madge-y here. I'm judging the judges.


Ahem. Sits back down for thoughtful contemplation. 

If that's how they wish to comport themselves, it's their choice. Still, when people are being bullies someone needs to point it out. It's dangerous and cruel and we can make better, more uplifting choices. That person being bullied is a real person with real feelings. We know nothing about what demons they're battling. You might think they'll never find your thread of nastiness, but trust me, they might. Speaking from personal experience, it can be soul crushing. What you tap into your keyboard has power, use it wisely.

The bottom line is that it's none of our damn business how other women choose to present themselves to the world. So what if someone 'lets herself go' or decides to get a boob job or a face-lift or opts out of the make-up/hair color/fashion meme. You may think she looks hideous, she may think she looks fabulous. What you think is likely irrelevant, unless she asks your opinion. How do her choices affect you, exactly?

This idea that we have to make ourselves smaller to make other people happy is a false narrative.

We don't owe anyone anything. 

Other people are responsible for their own happiness. 

I may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but I will keep banging the drum for women to be kinder to each other. I believe women could change the world if they opted out of these false narratives and rigid rules of conduct. The only thing holding us us. 

We tell a lot of stories in our culture about women and their bodies, about what is beautiful, what is ugly, what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable. Every time we hear one of these stories it chips away at our self-worth. We need to start telling another story.

What can women do to fight limiting narratives and shift the dialogue? We can start by not participating in negative discourse. We can refrain from making the offhanded, mean-spirited, attention-seeking comments about celebrities or women we see as we move through the world. We can shut those thoughts down and replace them with positive, uplifting, expansive thoughts instead. If more of us stand up for women and their right to be exactly who they are, wear what they please, say what they think, and live their lives as they see fit, the story will begin to shift.

Let’s change the story. We can do that, together.
— Fifty and Other F-words by Margot Potter

If you like this post, you may like my new book Fifty and Other F-words, I'm just sayin'.


What Happens When Civility Takes a Holiday

Hello, Gorgeous,

Civility Takes a Holiday.png

I'm a big proponent of civility, kindness, courtesy, and compassion.

Big time. Big league. Bigly.

Still, sometimes, civility is ineffective at propelling change or resisting evil. All of the civility in the world will do nothing to change the nature of the demagogue, sway the emotions of their impassioned followers, or stop the tides of facism.

The freedom to 'tell it like it is' is part of the appeal to those looking for permission to unleash the darkest side of their natures. Once they feel free to be hateful, they will do so without compunction. It's becoming rampant. 

They really don't care. No, really.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
— Thomas Jefferson

Yet, somehow, those who reject this messaging are being held to a higher standard. This is nothing new. When they go low, we better go high or they'll make sure to call us out for our 'bad behavior.' 

Words can be weapons. We can repel them. We can opt in or out of responding. Just because millions are mesmerized, does not afford the words merit. Still, words have power. Power to influence, power to incite, power to transform friends into enemies and neighbors into threats. 

When the words and the ideals behind them lead to unconscionable actions, we cannot ignore them. There comes a time when we have to confront evil, and that might get ugly. 

Be best? Be better. Be humane. Be human. 

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
— John Adams

Civility is earned, and sometimes when decency is under siege, civility takes a holiday. 

When our elected officials and their representatives launch attacks on truth and decency, we can't combat that with pretty words. When our Supreme Court ignores the constitution and runs roughshod over liberty, we have a right to fight back. When the government twists and bends the law to oppress, we can't deflect that with flowery speeches. When children are torn from their families and shoved into cages, we can't just sit around writing thoughtful social media posts. 

If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
— George Washington

All of the pleas for politeness are pointless when faced with an unrelenting assault on everything we hold dear. Passionate passive resistance has its place, but so do anger, disgust, and civil disobedience. Asking people to be polite when their rights are threatened, when every day brings a fresh threat to decency, when lies are being spewed by talking heads who insult every citizen with their shameless behavior is absurd.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
— Thomas Jefferson

We're all being bullied. This is what bullies do, taunt their victims mercilessly and then when they finally get a rise out of them, use it to destroy them. It's what demagogues do. It's what dictators do. It's what assholes do. It's what narcissists do. It is being done to us on a daily basis and it is driving us slowly insane.

That is the plan. There is no appropriate response, because this is an inappropriate situation. We can't ignore it, because the policies being created by elected officials and upheld by Supreme Court Justices have real effects on all of us. Some of them devastating, life threatening, and cruel. Divide, distract, deflect, deny. Create a constant state of chaos to create chaotic reactions, use those reactions as an excuse to control the uncontrollable masses. 

Do and say the worst possible things until you drive your enemies to do the same, then switch gears and take the high moral ground. It's masterful manipulation. We are all being gaslighted.

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
— Thomas Paine

It's not my place to tell other people how to act or react. I'm living in a bubble of privilege, at least for now. I cannot deny that. I have a unique responsibility to speak up and speak out, to reject the comfort of my privilege and do what I can to support those who are not equally protected. The founding fathers suggested a revolution every now and again to prevent tyranny. If ever there was a time for such a thing, the time may soon be upon us. This goes beyond civility, it's about survival, it's about justice, it's about fighting for the rights of every single citizen to be treated equally. It's about those who have the most to lose being willing to fight for the least among us. Sometimes we have to stand up and speak out and even take a stand for what we believe and that means the shit may get real, the discourse my coarsen, and the fucks may fly freely.

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
— Benjamin Franklin

So be it. 


Updates from the Hamster Wheel

Hello, Gorgeous!

Fashion Fifty.png

"Lighten up, Buttercup."

This is my mantra today. I've been a little ratcheted up by the constant chaos, as have we all. There's only so much I can do in a day, and I'm feeling more than a little like a hamster on a wheel. I think I'm gaining ground and yet...somehow I'm in the same place as I was when I started. Or maybe I've progressed, but it's so incremental that it's almost imperceptible. Yet I keep marching bravely forward.

Aging DISgracefully.jpg

In other news, I've been creating graphics with quotes from Fifty and Other F-words as a way to promote the book on social media without it feeling quite as shameless. Not that I have any problem with Shameless Self Promotion, as those of you who read this drivel on a regular basis know. Still, at some point shameless self promotion crosses into obnoxiousness. I don't wish to be obnoxious, just persistent. 

Have I mentioned that I have a new book? It's pretty fabulous. At least that's what people are saying. Real people! Might I share some snippets of reviews?

Yes, yes I might. 

Fifty Graphics Two.png

"A rare find, a book like this, which offers wisdom, humor, insight, and encouragement, without endless pages of unasked for advice. I found this not so much self-helpy, and more "girlfriends weekend getaway," filled with genuine, caring, lean-in-and-laugh-about-it companionship." Kim Miles

"Margot Potter has written an in-your-face, hilarious, brilliant and worthwhile playbook for those of us who are searching for guidance concerning anything which has confronted us since we turned fifty. In fact, if you are younger, yet you want to be enlightened, or you are older (as I am) and need to understand what the midlife crisis is all about, this book has you covered." Jean Yates

"While she waxes poetic on the benefits of good cosmetics, I would suggest going bare faced while reading this book as you will ruin your makeup as you will laugh until tears stream down your face. Margot Potter's book should be gifted to every women who is approaching the half century mark. Wrap it up in a gorgeous scarf and add a card with loads of glitter!" PC

You Look Good for Your Age Fifty and Other F Words Graphic.png

"Margot captures in the most deliciously irreverent way the adventures (& a few calamities) of aging ever onward. A wondrous read, on so many levels. Forget being just a great book for a friend's 50th - give it to the youngers in your life so they can know that life need not wind down, but reboot & hit WOW." Deev Murphy

"She is inspiring, irreverent and makes you feel like you're chatting with a friend over cocktails. She takes you behind the curtain of what it is to be a woman, a mother, a wife and a friend after 50. Let your hair down, pour yourself a drink and enjoy this glimpse in the mirror. And for the record, we are all fabulous, Margot has just helped us to see it." Susan Flesher

"It's been YEARS since I've read a book nonstop, back to back in a day! Filled with things you never heard your Mom or her friends talk about in a humorous way. I laughed, had a few sad moments but mostly "same here" stuff! Come on girls of over and under 50, throw this baby in your cart and get a better grip on shit that happens!" Judith Noble

releasing the wild woman fifty and other fwords margot potter.png

"Every woman's midlife is different - mine definitely is - and yet I agree with much if not all of what Margot Potter writes about in Fifty and Other F-Words. From learning to laugh at ourselves to also love ALL of us, sagging parts, facial hair and more, to dealing with menopause as we see fit (I am a happy HRT-taking camper) to speaking our minds and standing up for ourselves, she covers it all. Including how and why women should be lifting one another up instead of tearing each other down. Buy the book, read it, gift it. It's absolutely worth it!" Lorraine C. Ladish'

"Oh my gosh!! This had me in stitches...and she makes everything even more ok!! Love it!!!" VKJ

"Margot offers inspiration for a positive life experience in a humorous, powerful, thought provoking, and entertaining must read. Laughed out loud and seriously reflected on my own self-judgement. Margot has a gift of providing encouragement and humor for accepting ourselves who we are. Highly recommend this book for women of every age." S. Scanlin

I'm getting emails, social media comments, texts...all from women and men who are digging this book and the message behind it. This is good. I am hopeful that this little book will begin to roll down hill, gathering snow, and growing exponentially. If you have it, love it, and wish to help promote it, please consider a review on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and/or Good Reads!


Forward ho!



Sleepless in America

Sleepless in America.png

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre.                                The falcon cannot hear the falconer;"

I could not sleep last night. My mind racing around and around and around in endless circles, a dog chasing its tail. There are 2500 children who have traveled here, in the vague hope of salvation. The shining city on a hill proving to be a terrifying mirage, a wicked monster waiting to devour them. They've been torn from their families, shoved into cages, and now the stories of drugging and abuse are unfolding. Our Mad King Donald, chaos creator, shit stirrer, lie machine, narcissist, a heartless, cold, bitter old man drunk on his own power, signing another duplicitous decree to the applause of his sycophants and co-conspirators. Then, driven by an insatiable need for constant approval, this twisted shell of a human stands on a podium crowing for adoring crowds infected with cognitive dissonance, convinced that these beautiful brown babies and their loving families are a threat to their soft, cozy, whitewashed comforts.

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold:                                                                                                                                                    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,"

Mad King Donald is right about one thing. There is an infestation in our country, it has risen from the shadows. It threatens everyone and everything. It is fed by the demons of racism, sexism, homophobia, and Xenophobia, cloaked in the robe of self-righteous indignation, and it is growing stronger and more twisted every single day. If we don't rise up and stop this monster, it will devour us all. 

"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere                                                                                                                                      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;"

This monster is not new. This monster has always been lurking in the shadows, occasionally emerging to remind us of our collective shame. 

This is America. This is America. This is America. This is America.  This is America. This is America. This is America. This is America.

How can anyone defend the indefensible? Aren't they exhausted from twisting themselves into ugly new shapes? Who among us would not travel through the pits of hell to save our children? Who among us would not risk everything to give them a better life, a sliver of hope? How can anyone hear the plaintiff cries of innocents begging for their parents and not be moved?

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst                                                                                                                                                  Are full of passionate intensity."

Yet, what do I have to offer, beyond words? My cocoon, my privilege, my whiteness protects me. My physical limitations, my financial obligations, the animals who depend on me to care for them, all of the complexities of my sheltered life prevent me from standing outside the gates of the prisons in which these babies are being held hostage and demanding their release. 

"Surely some revelation is at hand;                                                                                                                                                                      Surely the Second Coming is at hand."   

I cannot sleep. I cannot focus. I cannot understand how anyone can turn away. I don't know how anyone can concentrate on anything else. I'm disgusted by friends who announce they're no longer going to pay attention and they're going to turn off the feeds of anyone who dares to speak truth to power. Those who refuse to face the cold, hard, difficult truths are making a conscious choice to look away. They are being seduced by the monster. This is a choice I cannot make, even if I can hide within the safety of my whiteness.

"The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out                                                                                                                                               When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi                                                                                                                                                Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert"  

Yet, who am I to judge, the tapper of keyboards, the wordsmith? I, I, I, the self indulgent I.

Talk is cheap.

"A shape with lion body and the head of a man,                                                                                                                                                A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,                                                                                                                                                                    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it                                                                                                                                                        Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds."  

All I have are words. Words won't save these children. Hope won't save these children. Marches won't save these children. Speeches won't save these children. They can't wait for the mid-terms, they can't wait for the courts. Every minute that passes takes them further away. 

"The darkness drops again; but now I know" 

So I tap into the keyboard. I fax, I email, I call, and I write. I make plans to march. I stare down the monster, and I refuse to turn away. I keep shouting that the Emperor Has no Clothes, in hopes it will awaken some of the sleepwalkers who still cannot see it. I hope that with the eyes of the world opened wide, the monster will be forced back into the shadows.

"That twenty centuries of stony sleep                                                                                                                                                           Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle," 

But, what about the children? 

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,                                                                                                                                    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"                                                                                                                                               William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming


Seeking the Compassionate Heart


Over the years I've often heard people ponder how something like the Holocaust could have ever happened. I've heard people say that it could never happen again, that people would step up and fight that evil, that we'd not allow another Hitler to take power. We've progressed, we're awake, we're aware! 

In a time when we can connect with people across the globe at the touch of a keyboard, when cell phone cameras are poised at the ready to record atrocities and broadcast them live to millions, you'd think evil would find it far more difficult to prevail. Yet, you'd be incorrect. Evil is finding it even easier to prevail. The most powerful country in the world, one that quite frankly lacks much of a track record for compassionate international behavior, is precariously perched on the precipice. We're watching the rise of a finely tuned, fresh new evil with its seductive, insidious messaging swaying millions once again into seeing 'the other' as their enemy. Misdirected, divided, distracted, and deluded-people have willingly been twisted into seeing family and friends as enemies and believing sociopaths to be saviors. They'll parrot the propaganda with such alacrity, it would be impressive if it wasn't so terrifying. 

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
— Joseph Goebbels

People are hard wired for The Big Lie, which is why it is so effective. Add the micro-targeting capabilities of social media, our willingness to offer up every intimate detail of our psyches to the algorithms, the insatiable 24 hour corporate news cycle, and you have the perfect recipe for the propaganda machine to reach maximum effectiveness. And the truth is, how can any of us know the whole truth? We only know what we are fed, and what we can discern through digging deeper, but how deep can we dig, really? The "news" has never served us the whole truth. It's a business, entertainment designed to gain our attention long enough to sell us something from their sponsors and distract us from focusing on what is actually happening while we scream obscenities at our screens.

You risked your life, but what else have you ever risked? Have you risked disapproval? Have you ever risked economic security? Have you ever risked a belief? I see nothing particularly courageous about risking one’s life. So you lose it, you go to your hero’s heaven and everything is milk and honey ‘til the end of time. Right? You get your reward and suffer no earthly consequences. That’s not courage. Real courage is risking something that might force you to rethink your thoughts and suffer change and stretch consciousness. Real courage is risking one’s clichés.
— Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

Eat the red pill or the blue pill, it doesn't matter. Stay distracted, stay divided while the purveyors of The Big Lie, those who owe no fealty to governments or religious institutions or their fellow man, continue to fill their coffers and consolidate their power. Freedom is an illusion, but a powerful one. We're not free. We've never really been free, not unless we've been willing to lift the veil and take responsibility for what our ignorance has wrought. And even then, we are not free, we're just painfully aware of our lack of freedom. 

Lines on maps are illusions, sky daddies and their prophets who offer us a guarantee of eternal salvation are false idols, governments are not representatives of the people, they're pawns of their corporate overlords. Your friends and neighbors, even those with whom you passionately disagree, are not your enemies. Asylum seekers are not coming to harm you. Your God is not better than anyone else's God.

Religion is a powerful drug. Race is a social construct. Lines on maps creating non-existent borders are man made. Sexuality exists on a spectrum. Marriage is a tool of the patriarchy. Money is just printed paper. The truth is subjective. We are all made of the same star stuff and we will all return to the great cosmic dust bin. Nothing can change the end of every story.

Yet, we can seek the compassionate heart. We can be kind. We can offer connection, safe harbor, and light. Because that is all that is real. We're all in this together, we're all connected. There is no other. There is only us. Don't let The Big Lie make you forget that. 

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.
— George Orwell, 1984

I've heard a lot of grown ass people say the following, "Thank GOD the children are going to fix this!"

Oh, they are? Really? 

We fucked this all up, and now we're going to step aside and let the children clean up the mess we've left behind? 

That is unacceptable. WE NEED TO FIX THIS, FOR THE CHILDREN. For fuck's sake people, stop pining for the good old days and waiting for the mid-terms and passing the buck to those other people who are going to fix this shit, because they're mirages. The good old days weren't that great. You are those other people. 

The time is now. The evil is here. The messengers are fine tuning the message. We are being misdirected, distracted, divided, and deluded. What unites is is far more important than what divides us, and what unites us is our humanity. There is no other. If we want to prevent another Hitler from taking power, every one of us needs to rise up and resist. It may well be too late, I don't know, but I damn sure know that I won't go down without a fight BECAUSE the children, the next generation, those who will inherit our legacy, need us. And the youngest children being shoved into cages, ripped apart from their families, denied human contact, merely because their families fled unspeakable atrocities in search of a better life need us. RIGHT NOW. Not six months from now or two years from now or whenever those other people get their shit together and fix this mess. 

I ate civilization. It poisoned me; I was defiled. And then,” he added in a lower tone, “I ate my own wickedness.
— Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I am seeking the compassionate heart, every day. Some days I get closer, others I feel separated by light years. I get distracted by my ego. I tap into this keyboard sending messages in bottles through the vast and powerful internets hoping they reach safe shores. Yet, who am I to think my messages in bottles have resonance or meaning or worth? How do I know that I am any closer to the truth than anyone else? 

I don't.

Yet, I do know that evil is rising and I am not willing to be complacent or complicit. If you could travel back in time to the rise of the Third Reich, what would you do to prevent it? Do that, right fucking now, before it's too late.

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.
— Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Processing This Weird Week

Make a wish. 

Make a wish. 

It's been a weird week, to say the least, on many fronts. Sad things, scary things, unfuckingbelievable's a lot to process. 

Kate Spade, gone, then, Anthony Bourdain. The first was heartbreaking, the second gut wrenching. We'll never know what demons people are battling. We'll never understand what drives a person to decide that they cannot make it through another moment. What we do know is that fame and fortune are not the keys to happiness. What we also know is that abject poverty and isolation aren't much of a recipe for joy, either.

It's easy to stand on the outside of someone's life and make judgments. Even people we know, intimately, are still a mystery. For some people, choosing joy is not a possibility. They're not wired for it. No amount of external affirmation can change that. Medication may dull the sharp edges, but it isn't going to fix what's broken and often it makes it worse. That's self medication and pharmaceutical medication. It's hard to understand if you're not wired that way. I am not wired that way. I used to think suicide was a selfish act, but now I think that was misguided thinking. I have enough to do navigating my own life. Ultimately, it's none of my business. Who am I to judge? I wish everyone love. Unconditional love. Period. 

"And when no hope was left in sight, on that starry, starry night. You took your life as lovers often do. But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you." Don McClean

Speaking of judging and the pitfalls of even quasi-pseudo marginal fame, yesterday I got my first one star review for the new book. Woot. This was not a shocker. It's inevitable.  I'm surprised it took this long. You're never, ever going to be everybody's favorite flavor. I've written 8 books, appeared on TV, performed in plays, fronted bands, written blog posts, designed DIY projects. I've been praised and panned and occasionally eviscerated. I'm going to be honest here, nobody likes being panned. I'm no exception. It hurts, but you process it and then you let it go. It's not personal, and that's the bottom line. Nothing's personal, unless you give it that power.

Someone got personal on my social media post about this one star review yesterday, which was bizarre and disappointing. I had a detached reaction to this person's escalating comments, almost as if I was watching it from a distance and not actually participating in it. It's so weird to me when people come out of left field with some long standing animosity. Where did that come from? What? 

I am not forcing anyone to stay connected. If you don't like me, grab your coat and hit the road. No hard feelings, unless you take a crap on the veranda on the way out. I mean, really, people. What's up with that?! Keep that shit to yourself. 

As for one star reviews, I come from the 'if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing' school of thought. No one forces you to read a book, watch a film or TV show, read a blog post, or listen to a song. I realize, in this nasty, mean spirited, ugly age when civility is rapidly plummeting into extinction, saying nothing instead of saying something snarky is not the norm. I also realize that the internet has given everyone with a keyboard a platform and a feeling of power. We all get to choose what we do with that power. If someone took the time to create something, I applaud them. I may not love what they've created, but I don't have to dismiss or demean it. They don't owe me anything.

You can make someone's day or break their heart with a few strokes of your keyboard. You choose to lift them up, or tear them down. I prefer rising tides to anchors. 

That's how I feel about that. 

In other news, there was the small cloud hovering over me after the miserable mammogram. I got a call just as I was heading to the first day of Book Expo from my doctor. They needed a follow up. Something was wrong, but I was in the middle of Times Square, so it was hard to understand them. Even though I knew that it was probably not a big deal, there was still that nagging thing in the back of my brain wondering if it might actually be a big deal. That stayed with me through the weekend and lingered until Tuesday when it was confirmed that I'm fine after the painful ultrasound. Ouch.


Then came the news that the DOJ is taking a hatchet to pre-existing conditions in another effort to kill the ACA. The fear of losing my health insurance is palpable. I was denied insurance for several years because of my asthma, even though I never go to the ER and I only see my specialist twice a year. It doesn't matter. I have a Scarlet A on my chart. It's lurking around the periphery. Having access to affordable healthcare should not be a partisan issue. 

Speaking of asthma, breathing is not overrated, folks. Sleep is also not overrated. Damn it, pollen, why you gotta be so prolific and persistent? Snork. 

So yes, it's been a weird week. Yet, oddly, as I head into the weekend, I feel hopeful. No matter how hard a week or a day or a moment, it will pass. As long as I'm still here, still standing, still able to fight the good fight, I can shift the sails and head into new horizons. You get that upon which you focus. On the bright side, my book has scads of lovely reviews! My boobs are cancer free! I have a supportive and wonderful circle of uplifting people in my life! I'm making serious progress on a new manuscript! I still have health insurance! I'm still breathing! There are chipmunks spramping about outside of my office door! Right there! Chipmunks!

Who can be sad around chipmunks?

Life is large, my friends. I wish you love, light, and joy. If you feel lost and alone and adrift, know that you are not alone. We're in this together. I see you, I hear you, and I believe in you.





BEA 2018: The Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion

Fifty and Other F-Words book signing with Sterling Publishing BEA 2018

Fifty and Other F-Words book signing with Sterling Publishing BEA 2018

Last week, my loving husband drove me into the heart of the Broadway theater district at the height of rush hour to drop me off at my hotel for Book Expo America. He was none too thrilled about driving in Manhattan, but he loves me and I appreciate the sacrifice. I have attended this 'to the trade only' event only once before, years back in D.C. when my second book debuted. This time, the impetus and expense was on me. Sterling Publishing rose to the occasion with a Fifty and Other F-words book signing on Friday, which I greatly appreciated. More on that, later.

Shameless Self Promotion Tip: If you spend your life waiting for an invitation, you may find yourself waiting indefinitely. Sometimes the only way to get to the ball is to invite yourself. Be your own Fairy Godmother.

Adult Author Panel with Nick Offerman, Megan Mulally, Jill Lepore, Nicholas Sparks, Barbara Kingsolver, and Trevor Noah BEA 2018

Adult Author Panel with Nick Offerman, Megan Mulally, Jill Lepore, Nicholas Sparks, Barbara Kingsolver, and Trevor Noah BEA 2018

The first morning I attended the Adult Author Breakfast, enjoying some coffee and mini muffins while being regaled by a panel of fascinating people: Trevor Noah, Megan Mulally, Nick Offerman, Nicholas Sparks, Jill Lepore, and Barbara Kingsolver. Bonus, we received advanced copies of each of their new books! I hit the floor sauntering after this event, and quickly assessed the focus of the show. This is a show designed for publishers to sell books to retailers and libraries. This is NOT a show designed for authors to sell themselves or their manuscripts to publishers who are busy selling their newly printed books. I have a publisher, so I was not hoping to sell new books. I was hoping to have a presence at the show and perhaps in doing so to make some new connections for possible PR appearances, book reviews, and book placement. I also had vague notions of finding an agent and or a publicist. I realized neither of these goals was likely, so I focused, instead, on learning what I could from writers who were hosting panels and gaining a sense of what was happening in publishing. 

Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion Tip: READ the room and conduct yourself accordingly. Sometimes just being present is powerful. 

John Kerry Talks Diplomacy BEA 2018

John Kerry Talks Diplomacy BEA 2018

Publishing has taken a big hit over the past 15 years since I sold my first book. The big box book chains crushed the independents, then big box book chains were crushed by Amazon. Social media has diverted attention and attention spans away from book pages and towards bite sized narratives on small screens. Big advances are rare, big budgets for PR and marketing are a thing of the past, and publishers are tending to focus on things they feel are good bets. There were LOTS of celebrities hawking books. Some of these celebrities are really terrific writers, like Chris Colfer former Glee cast member. Some are perhaps more terrific at marketing themselves. I didn't stand in line to get any signed books, because the publishers were not at the show to give authors free books and the lines were epic for most of the writers I had hoped to meet. Some of the authors had ticketed signings and many signings took place off of the main show floor. I tried to respect that reality, and I still got a stack of terrific books to read from attending the many events at the show floor stages. If one wanted books signed by favorite authors, the event that followed BEA, BookCon, is designed specifically for this agenda. Many publishers stayed through the weekend for this purpose.

An Evening with Bernie Sanders BEA 2018

An Evening with Bernie Sanders BEA 2018

Quick assessments: Young Adult or YA is an important focus, which is a good sign for the future. I saw lots of magical, mythical books being promoted. Politics is, of course, another trending topic and there were many, many books dissecting the current climate. Thrillers and romances along with memoirs and historical non-fiction also loomed large. 

As my signing approached, I began to worry. Not going to lie, folks. I saw many authors sitting in booths with stacks of books and no people waiting in line to have them signed. I saw stacks of free books discarded on chairs, ledges, and tables. My book is a hardcover, so it's heavy, and people were already lugging around totes straining at the seams with paperbacks, thus the discarded books. What if I got to my signing one cared? I have been there before. There has been more than one afternoon sitting in a big box craft store with a pile of books and a free craft project (often with my then young daughter by my side) while people avoided us like we were doling out the Bubonic Plague.

It's free! No, really! Come make these earrings! 

Hey, where are you going? Don't run away!


I decided to make the most of my adventure and let the chips, or the books as it were, fall where they may. I sat front row for John Kerry, attended the Bernie Sanders event, saw panels of fascinating people discuss politics, publishing, racism, sexism, history, and even sexy puzzle assembling adventures. By the time my signing beckoned, I was ready to face it head on. I had freshly pinked hair, a big bag of Smarties, a rainbow palette of Sharpie markers, a handful of unicorn rainbow straws, and I was ready to rock and roll.

They liked me, they really, really liked me! BEA 2018

They liked me, they really, really liked me! BEA 2018

Then something amazing happened. A line of people began forming. I spoke to each of them personally, asking them about where they were from and what they did, letting them pick their favorite color marker. The people kept coming, the stack of books kept dwindling, I ran out of unicorn rainbow straws...and then we ran out of books. People were EXCITED to meet me, to read the book, to share the book, to buy the book for their stores and their libraries!

It was incredible.

Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion Tip: People want to feel valued, and connected. When promoting yourself, don't forget that you can't achieve success without the support of other people. They are the point, so celebrate them!

The only thing that put a small smudge on it was a woman who showed up after we ran out of books. We explained there weren't any left and she said, and I'm quoting here, "I don't care about the book, I'm an author." Then she proceeded to pitch herself, demand to see my Botox (which is not currently part of my budget), scoff at my lack of Botox, and press the PR people standing with me to listen to her pitch. None of them were in a position to give her a book deal. Awkward.

Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion Tip: Don't insult someone else to make yourself look good, and surely don't horn in on someone else's moment. 

I believe there is room enough in the sky for every star to shine, and we shine much brighter when we share our light freely than we do in attempting to dull another's. I have no problem with anyone promoting themselves, but there's a time and a place for everything. The journey that it took for me to be there, at that show, with that book, was epic. I earned that moment.

Another Stellar Fifty and Other F-words Event at BEA 2018

Another Stellar Fifty and Other F-words Event at BEA 2018

After the show, my kick ass editor Jennifer, and I went to a divine little French bistro across from my hotel and enjoyed a nosh followed by a night cap at the Hotel Algonquin, where Dorothy Parker once held court. Believe me when I tell you, my editor is amazing. She navigated my big personality and strongly held opinions and the considerable pressures from the publisher along with carving an epic 75,000 words into a far less epic and overbearing 45,000. I could not have done it without her, the design team who made the book so visually compelling, the PR team helping to promote the book, and the publisher who believed in an entirely unknown writer and her memoir.

Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion Tip: Nothing happens in a vacuum. 'It takes a village' to take an idea from gestation, to birth, to bloom. When you succeed, don't forget to acknowledge and thank the many people who supported that success. 

Now I'm home and back to the grind. I have to keep promoting Fifty and Other F-words, finding new ways to reach a larger audience. Seeing the reaction of people at the show affirmed that this book will resonate with people. It's my job to help them find it. And then there's the manuscript for the next book...

If you like these tips, check out my e-book with more tips about The Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion! (Affiliate link, if you purchase the e-book I get a small percentage of the sale!)