Tag Archives: inspiration

Women Rock Wednesday: The why.

I’ve heard far too many times in my life another woman say to me some version of, “I’m not really friends with other women. They’re too: ______” with a variety of choice words to fill in the blank… catty, bitchy, high drama, mean, jealous, and so on. The plot of Mean Girls in real life.


There are a lot of women that are distrustful and unsure of other women, for a variety of reasons. Most likely experiential and painful. The fear of closeness, the lack of trust, the unwillingness to try again is almost always founded in some sort of reality.  I’ve experienced, and admittedly even perpetrated, episodes of pain myself and I’ve read Queen Bees and Wannabes – the real life psychological analysis of the numerous difficulties girls and women face. But it makes me so sad, because female friendships can be unbelievably rewarding, life affirming, positive, strengthening, and beautiful.

Female friendships not only can be all of those things, but should be all of those things. And they are completely worth pursuing.

In every phase of my life, from early childhood to present, I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have such relationships and it’s so important to me to show women who feel that honest-to-goodness female friendships aren’t possible that they really are. In addition, its important that men see the value of what women can give to each other; something different than what comes from romantic relationships– unconditional support, sisterhood, it’s unique. That’s what this little segment, Women Rock Wednesdays, is all about. Of friends who become like sisters. Of intergenerational relationships that inspire and calm. Of growing up to find aunts as peers. Of women finding something in other women that is healthy, fulfilling, and rewarding. Because it’s always possible.


This past January, I planned a big birthday party for myself. I booked my cousin-in-law Megan (who I have known since she was 6 and now she’s 19 and in college and I just adore her) to come to my house and teach a painting party — paint and wine and all that jazz. I sat down at my computer on January 5th to send the email invitation. Party minimum was 10 and I knew not everyone would be able to make it, so I invited far more than that. As I made a mental list of the women I’d love to be there, I was shocked at how quickly it grew. On the day of, I ended up with 20 women in my home. 20 amazing women, packed in like sardines, having an absolute blast. My heart was full to bursting and I felt so much gratitude for all the amazing women in my life — near and far. In my kitchen that day and embedded deep down in my soul from across the globe (because I have an awesome friend in Australia and that means I get to say that).

Painting party for my 33rd birthday in January. That’s a lot of kick ass women!


And as I sat down to write this post, I even thought of some of the “mean girls” I knew once upon a time. The girls whose pictures on Facebook and still give me the heebie-jeebies as I think about the cruel words said to my face, behind my back… but thinking about it now, as much as it sucked for me then, seeing those girls — smiling, still together, in big situations and little — I’m glad they have each other. Every woman deserves that!

Yes, there are hundreds and thousands of amazing women that do amazing things in this world and are worthy of celebration. But that celebration is someone else’s job — Google Doodles and the like 🙂 I want to celebrate something else — the thing that happens when two women connect with one another. That’s what Women Rock Wednesday is all about.

Evidence! (of the eggs over the bunsen burner) (I wasn’t lying) (and I can prove it)

Remember this homespun little beauty???

Somewhere I have a picture of Ms. Bertsos making scrambled eggs over a bunsen burner for our AP biology breakfast bash... but it must be in Ypsilanti somewhere. Dang! No matter, this photo of Kelly and me was taken the very same day (see breakfast items in the background) and I've basically recreated the scene for your viewing pleasure. (Yes, this really happened.)
Somewhere I have a picture of Ms. Bertsos making scrambled eggs over a bunsen burner for our AP biology breakfast bash… but it must be in Ypsilanti somewhere. Dang! No matter, this photo of Kelly and me was taken the very same day (see breakfast items in the background) and I’ve basically recreated the scene for your viewing pleasure. (Yes, this really happened.)

It appeared in my most recent post and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I might be lying. But GREAT NEWS– my friend Kacey, who was in that awesome AP Biology class, actually had the original picture available to her and after reading the post she scanned it and sent it to me because, obviously, she’s the MOST AWESOME PERSON EVER!

I present to you: Ms. Bertsos making eggs over a bunsen burner, for realsies:

The real deal! Eggs over a bunsen burner aka why I will love Ms. Bertsos forever and ever.
The real deal! Eggs over a bunsen burner aka why I will love Ms. Bertsos forever and ever. (My apologies to baby Jill, baby Chad, and baby Nathan, but there’s really nothing I can do about the accidental candid shot and I think it’s adorbs anyway.)

She really was an amazing teacher and person though, and not just because of the eggs. Look what else Kacey sent me– evidence of how very, very much we all loved her:

LHS AP Biology 2001
LHS AP Biology 2001

That’s the majority of my nerdy high school besties — we had an exceptionally nerd-tastic and brilliant class who have grown up to be basically exceptional adults. Must have been something in the water! 2001 was a good year at LHS 🙂


Anyway, I’ve been dying to get that picture up since I got it from Kacey yesterday, but I spent most of the day (well, all of the day, really) yesterday traveling as I made my way home from a long weekend in Tennessee… which, by the way, was beyond AMAZING. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it! I kept a huge secret with great results, I became very very proud of some amazing friends, I got to hear Reverend James Lawson, an MLK Jr contemporary, speak at conference that was inspiring in a million and one ways and I would consider myself completely blog-spired. But this is only a lunch break, and real work awaits… so no more fun writing until tonight (not that a manuscript on the cardiovascular effects of cocaine and a grant for a multiple myeloma support group aren’t fun, but you know…) and the next night and the night after that until I run out of good ideas. I have a feeling it’s going to be a while.


In the meantime, might I direct your attention toward Fumbling Through because Kacey deserves a big old shout out for sending such awesome photos!!!


Were you there that awesome day? Wasn’t it the best? Doesn’t Ms. Bertsos deserve so much thanks from us in c/o 2001?! Are you offended that I called you a nerd? I mean it lovingly, of course… and I don’t think there’s any denying that we were a pretty nerdy class, as a whole. Am I right?

Words With Friends

If you went to a typical American high school, you’re probably familiar with Homecoming.  (If not, please see the movie Grease for a pretty accurate description– you know, the Rydell High pep rally.)  At my high school we also had something called Coming Home and it wasn’t until I moved on and sounded like a confused weirdo talking about Coming Home that I realized that wasn’t exactly normal.  Coming Home is essentially the basketball equivalent of Homecoming… except instead of a parade with floats for each class, we decorated halls in the school (on account of I grew up in Michigan and it was cold and snowy during basketball season).  Every year there was a different themes for hall decorating and each class chose a theme within the theme to decorate their hall.  Tons of fun, in my opinion, way to go LHS!  (Although, despite the hours I remember spending drawing, cutting, painting, taping, etc, etc, etc, I literally cannot remember a single one of the themes… all I remember is a large, cut out Spiderman.  I wonder if that memory is real…)

Anyway, I don’t really want to talk about high school, homecoming, coming home, or pretty much anything I’ve mentioned so far.  What I do want to talk about is recurring themes.  And the fact that sometimes I feel like my life in general becomes suddenly inundated with one.  I come here to share words with you, friends (see what I did there?).  Therefore, the theme du jour: WORDS.

Words are obviously a big part of my life.  I’m a science writer by day and I spend the majority of my time at work reading or writing… putting words together to make other people understand science.  And more recently, with the beginning of this blog, words became even more important to me.  Writing, sharing these words with you, has become so incredibly cathartic.  A powerful dream come true.  A release every night as I put my thoughts down on the page.

Of course, two things don’t make a theme.  A theme is something so much more.  And I’m getting to that.

We talked before about how I like to follow a lot of blogs.  Most blogs consist of words, so again, I take in a lot of words.  But just this week, I read two great posts about the power of words.  My friend Dawn at Cups Running Over was discussing the negativity she was encountering on social media and she said,

“…all these negative words are bad for us!” Then she committed to “using the power of words for good.”

Love, love, LOVE!  Dawn is so right, I highly recommend reading her post.  She says some really thought-provoking things about the way we use social media.  And I love the idea of using our words to spread good.

Next up in this theme of words was a blog post by Bridget at Stumbling Towards Perfect where she describes her knee-jerk reaction to some extremely negative words and the beautiful way in which her daughter responded.  Again, it was a negative post on social media and her daughter chose to respond calmly, to explain to the person who tried to use words to hurt the power of those words, and in the process, taught a lot of people an important lesson.

And still, two more things to go to complete my theme…

I just finished (tonight, actually) reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  It was a beautiful book.  And so much of it is about the power of words, for both good and evil.  There were several passages throughout the book that described the power of words that I thought were just so interesting.

“‘Don’t punish yourself,’ she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too.  That was writing.”

Wow.  Yes.

In my experience, writing is cathartic.  Sometimes it is hard, it can be painful.  But it is so rewarding, and sometimes I even make myself laugh out loud.  (Because, as you already know, I am so funny.  And humble, too.  Hmmm… humility.  I have a LOT to say about that.  But one thing at a time.)

And then the last line of the Book Thief’s book.  She writes:

“I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

Dang.  Yes again.

Words can be so personal.  They can be so personified.  Seriously, I find myself falling in love with the words I put on the page.  And when I find that magical turn of phrase, I simply can’t imagine it any other way.  But then sometimes the words don’t come out right and they don’t sound like I want them to sound and I hate them for not being just so.  Writing.  It’s complex.

And in the midst of all this, because of all these words, I reconnected with an old friend who is now an English teacher.  (Oh, I am going to say some things about what I consider the vocation of teaching someday.  So important.)  She told me she like reading along (so nice!  she made me feel so good!) and we talked for a while about the power of words and she told me that people don’t think of English as a powerful subject and write it off as “touchy-feely.”

Ugh.  No.

Words are crazy important.  And the people that teach us to use those words are the people who give us power… yes, they give us the power to express our feelings to one another, but they also give us the power to inspire, to persuade, to share, to reason, to communicate.  There is immense power in all of that.  Think of just a few extreme examples: of Hitler persuading his countrymen to kill millions with words, of Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy persuading thousands and thousands of parents not to vaccinate their children against deadly and debilitating diseases with words… but on the other hand, Martin Luther King, Jr. used words to inspire thousands to take to the streets and march for equality and John Stewart uses funny words to make serious points about systems that are very broken.  Do you see how powerful words can be?  (Do you also see how italics and heavy use of parenthetical statements and elipses (that’s the dot-dot-dot) make you read my words in the same way I would speak them to you?  Cool, huh?)

So that, friends, is my thing with words.  (See, I did it again… yes! title for the win!)  It’s a recurrent theme, these words, and I hope you like the way I’m using them.  I also hope that someday my teacher friend will take me up on my offer to share her words, too.  Because I know she’s got some good ones inside of her dying for an audience!

Update 9/9/13:  SoMeOne, who shall reMain nameless (seriously, how clever am I?), pointed out that there are several typos in the post above– ironic considering it’s all about words.  Dang!  I was going to read it again, find them, and correct it, but… when I actually got here that all seemed like an awful lot of work.  So, the typos remain.  Please accept my apologies!