Category Archives: The Write Stuff: Recommended Blogs

The Write Stuff: Lessons From the End of a Marriage

Lessons From the End of a Marriage is important work. It's a must-read for anyone going through divorce, and a should-read for everyone else.

Lessons From the End of a Marriage is important work. It’s a must-read for anyone going through divorce, and a should-read for everyone else.

Their 10-year marriage ended with a text message.

A marriage she believed to be wonderful.

Then, one day, one week, one month at a time, she learned that she’d been unknowingly living a lie as all of the pieces of the twisted puzzle came together.

If you’re anything like me…

  1. Divorced
  2. Searching for answers and healing
  3. Moved by compelling stories
  4. Inspired by courage…

… then you NEED to read Lessons From the End of a Marriage.

Even if you’re none of these things, you owe it to yourself to read this made-for-Hollywood story.

I pray that by praising the drama and intensity of the story itself, I’m not doing a disservice to its heroic author.

In my darkest days of divorce recovery, no writer has had a more positive impact on me than she has.

The way her marriage ended is no less dramatic than Neo waking up in The Matrix. To discover that nothing she had believed—for 16 (SIXTEEN!!!) years was real.

My admiration for this woman knows no bounds.

She, in this writer’s occasionally not-so-humble opinion, sets the standard for how to be courageous in a post-divorce world.

From her post I Was Married to a Con Man:

“My husband was a brilliant and talented man whose skills included creating and maintaining a separate existence. He had two cameras. Two bicycles. Two wallets. Two wives. Two distinct lives. When the financial mess he created in his life with me became too great to keep hidden, he broke up with me via text and vanished. That was when I learned that my husband… was a con man. My life was a virtual reality—my home a movie set consisting of false fronts.

He was an expert lie crafter; he always knew the exact proportion of truth to weave into the falsehoods to make a story believable. He always had an answer; he never hesitated. His office must have been like a busy air traffic control tower as he directed emails, texts, and phone calls to support his various tales. The extent of his deceptions was made clear when I sat with an auto insurance card in my hand—my name had been digitally removed—while I pulled up the file from the insurance company and verified that both names were present on the actual document. He thought he could erase me as easily as he could my name using Photoshop.

While my husband was in jail after being arrested for felony bigamy, I talked with his other wife, who was as stunned by the situation as I was. No woman should ever have to have a conversation about “our husband,” even if it is a cordial and informative discussion. I learned that when he was pulled in for questioning, his lies became increasingly absurd as he struggled to maintain his façade. My favorite? He claimed that he and I had divorced years earlier and I had since married a chiropractor named Mark Mercer. Mark, if you’re out there, I’m sorry that I have no recollection of our marriage and that I have never recognized our fictitious anniversaries.”

About the Author

Her name is Lisa Arends.

She is a magnificent writer. One of those writers who occasionally strings words together that make me think: Damn. I wish I could do that.

She is a school teacher.

A wellness coach.

And now, because of an UNIMAGINABLE con job by a husband of 10 years, she has an incredible story to tell. And she has.

It must be read.

About the Blog

It documents everything.

You can read the CliffsNotes version of her story here.

The content is straightforward and self-explanatory.

Lisa got screwed in ways human beings aren’t equipped to handle.

And maybe she didn’t. Maybe she completely fell apart four years ago.

I know I came apart when my marriage ended, and I didn’t have to endure an epic shock-and-awe campaign that dismantled my entire life as Lisa did.

If she did fall apart, she got back up again.

And now, Lisa’s mission is to help people.

People like me.

People like you.

And I think she succeeds. She has for me.

Why It Matters

Because Lisa’s life came undone in unimaginable ways. And yet she lives.

And I don’t just mean she breathes and moves around.

I mean, she lives.

Her spirit endures.

She pours energy into helping others. Into friends and family. Into continuing to grow and evolve as a person.

It would have been so easy to quit.

But she didn’t.

She just kept breathing.

Asking questions.

Exploring.

Thinking.

Writing.

And today, her story continues.

And now there’s a new guy. A new love. And a new wedding date.

After everything Lisa’s been through.

She perseveres.

Hope endures.

Love remains.

And it reminds all of us to be courageous, to be hopeful, to never quit, even if our hearts are telling us opposite.

The story is amazing.

The blog is amazing.

The author is amazing.

And she invites us all to be a part of it.

We should take advantage.

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The Write Stuff: Gotta Find a Home

We have choices. All I'm asking you to do is consider them. Well, AND to read "Gotta Find a Home." Because it's awesome. Photo by Kenneth Reitz

We have choices. I’m only asking you to consider them. And to read “Gotta Find a Home.” Because it’s awesome. Photo by Kenneth Reitz

The world started changing with a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.

He was walking to work.

She was panhandling for money on the sidewalk.

“Thank you so much, sir. You’re so kind. Bless you,” the woman said to him after receiving the gift.

That was a few years ago. Today, the man and the woman are close friends.

His name is Dennis.

Her name might be Joy. Dennis protects identities.

And now we have Gotta Find a Home.

Dennis is just a guy. I don’t mean that as an insult. He’s most certainly MUCH MORE than “just a guy.”

But he’s just a guy who works in an office building and took the time to pause and show consideration to a homeless woman.

To see her as a human being. No different than him. And not as the blight of society as so many people—even me—have felt before.

He lives in Ottawa, Canada. All of his stories take place there.

He has delivered food and coffee to Joy on many mornings. And now, after spending several months talking with Joy and meeting her companions, Dennis is tapped into the homeless network in his city.

There is violence. And sadness. Addiction. And frustration. Fear. But also laughter. And hope.

Dennis has no agenda but kindness. To shine light on some of the things most of us try not to think about when we’re at dinner parties on the weekends or taking our children to shopping malls.

The writing is mostly dispassionate. Like a newspaper report.

It’s perfect. Because it’s just so… human.

The idea is so brilliant, so simple, so good, that it makes you want to hug yourself.

About the Author

His name is Dennis Cardiff.

He doesn’t think what he’s doing is particularly special. He’s too humble for that.

But he clearly recognizes its importance. Its value.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

You’ll see that peppered throughout Gotta Find a Home.

About the Blog

Gotta Find a Home is an account of the daily lives of this particular group of homeless people and everything they have to face.

The goal is to eventually publish a book.

Here’s a taste, from the blog’s Introduction post:

“Antonio slept on a park bench and was beaten, had his teeth kicked out, for no other reason than his choice to sleep outdoors. He is a small, gentle man who has a phobia about enclosed spaces.

“Craig slept on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. I see him every morning and am never sure if, when I lift the corner of his sleeping bag, I will find him dead or alive. Sometimes, he confided, he would prefer never to awake.

“Joy is a friend who fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I have seen her with blackened eyes, bruised legs, cracked ribs, cut and swollen lips. I usually see her sitting on the sidewalk ‘panning’ for change.

“I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen.”

Why It Matters

Hopefully, this is obvious to you.

Most people aren’t brave enough, unselfish enough, loving enough, humble enough, awesome enough to do what Dennis is doing.

He has immersed himself with the homeless community. “Street people,” he calls them.

They are his friends. They have become the people he is closest to in the world along with his immediate family.

What can one man do to help change the world?

THIS.

Because this absolutely will help these people. Dennis already is, simply by loving them and being kind to them and respecting them and displaying compassion.

He’s not judging. He’s not turning up his nose. He’s giving what he can and asking for nothing in return.

I believe strongly this Gotta Find a Home project has the opportunity to get some legs and earn the kind of attention—and by extension, funding—that can really make a difference for a lot of people.

But it’s also going to help the rest of us, too. In deep and meaningful ways.

It’s good to feel a little uncomfortable.

You have no reason to feel guilty about having houses and cars. A fridge full of food. A nice television to watch football. Plenty of cash to order pizza and throw the leftovers away.

But you have EVERY reason in the world to feel a little itch, a little pull, to spend more time being considerate of other people, to give a little more time volunteering for a good cause, or a little more money to the have-nots.

I’ll never stop saying it. Because I don’t know if I believe in an idea more than this one:

We must give more than we take.

Let’s not all fight over the table scraps.

Let’s just all keep giving to those around us.

I’m going to get something back. You’re going to get something back. We’re all going to have enough this way.

Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.

I think you will find that what you receive is much more satisfying than table scraps.

Thank you, Dennis Cardiff.

For walking the walk.

For doing it right.

For buying that breakfast sandwich and cup of coffee.

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The Write Stuff: Dysfunctional Literacy

I wanted to screen cap the blog's page. But I am, literally, not smart enough to create a croppable screen cap on a Mac. Derp.

I wanted to screen cap the blog’s page. But I am, literally, not smart enough to create a croppable screen cap on a Mac. Derp.

I’ve decided to write about writing.

Maybe it can be a regular thing. Maybe I’ll do it every Sunday.

Maybe the Cleveland Browns will lose their NFL home opener today and I’ll off myself before getting around to doing this ever again.

Who knows? The mystery makes it fun! Like guessing the gender of hookers in Thailand.

The plan is to highlight a blog that I enjoy, encourage you to visit it, and tell you why I think it’s important.

Today, for your reading enjoyment, I’ve selected the excellent humor blog Dysfunctional Literacy.

About the Author

His name is Jimmy Norman. Maybe that’s his real name, or maybe that’s some rad pseudonym.

Maybe he’s really Jimmy Page! Or Greg Norman!

He’s published at least three books, including his latest, The Writing Prompt.

It’s hard to evaluate a person you’ve never met.

But it seems clear to me that he’s both smart and funny.

And color me simple, but that’s just about all you need to win my admiration.

About the Blog

Dysfunctional Literacy is funny. And I like funny.

I don’t do it particularly well myself, but I do think I have a keen sense of humor. And for my money, Norman’s writing is universally hilarious.

He’s currently publishing what I’m pretty sure is a fiction story with a lot of truth sprinkled in. He’s releasing it a chapter at a time, and I find myself giddy every time I find an update. It’s fantastic.

It’s called The Literary Girlfriend. And I love it very much.

Norman is a prolific writer who doesn’t seem to pigeonhole himself into any one particular subject.

The only constant among all his work is that it’s smart and funny.

Why it Matters

Dysfunctional Literacy matters because you will learn a thing or two AND have a good laugh while doing so.

My life has been wretched for a long time. A few things helped me get to where I am now, which is something much closer to normal than I’ve felt in at least two years.

Friends. Family. My five-year-old son.

The one constant theme among all of them is that we always found ways to laugh.

Laughter is the music of the soul, some wise person once said.

Corny? Sure. Overused? Probably. But true? I think so.

Laughing is my favorite brand of medicine.

So, thanks Dr. Norman for being part of my healing.

Here’s to you continuing to deliver more laughs and more smiles.

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