31 December 2012

2012 In Review

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It's that time for the obligatory year in review post.

I did the Opening Lines meme last year, but came across from Tracie's version of a yearly summary yesterday and decided I liked her format, so I stole it. Of course I let her know I was stealing it, so hopefully she'll not be too upset.

I am going to finish 2012 by looking back at twelve posts that will give you (and me) an overview of my year.

These posts are not necessarily the ones that had the most traffic, comments, or shares. They are simply my favorite posts from each month. The ones I really enjoyed writing.

JANUARY A Picture Can Speak A Word Or Two - This was written soon after Mike and I started officially dating, and addressed my need for balance. I'm still not there, but I've certainly made progree.

FEBRUARY - I didn't manage to write a single post in February, and since one of the items on my 2012 To Do List was to write more, I'd say the lack of a post speaks volumes.

MARCH - My Favorite Stalker - Where I finally told the story of Mike. Making our relationship public was a huge risk for me, fearing that once I did he'd run away and I would look like a complete fool. *SPOILER* He hasn't run away ... yet ...

APRIL Where have all the bloggers gone? - My first inkling that blogging had really changed, that personal blogs had gone the way of leg warmers and big hair. I'm still looking for a few good blogs to read, blogs where writers interact with readers, bloggers who write more original content than sponsored posts. Let me know if you've found any of those.

MAY Can I Be Awesome? - Where I commit to a blog post a day for 365 days. Guess how that went? About as well as the Project 365 I started in January. But you know what? I'm actually okay with failure ... maybe I'm a little too okay with failure.

JUNE - Who Am I? - Not exactly an uplifting post, but I think an important one. I need to give myself permission to be in a funk - to be less than what I want to be - without beating myself up.

JULY - What Kind Of Friend Am I? - Relationships and working in a large group were rough spots in July. This post was one of several written on that theme, and was instrumental in helping me set boundaries in a situation where there were none.

AUGUST Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Letting Go - Where I toyed with spontaneity and intentionally allowed myself to publish bad writing. The world didn't end\. It was another good life lesson.

SEPTEMBER 6 Things I've Learned About Volunteering - I stood up for myself in this post - dared to "talk bad" about a well-liked, big name blogger. And you know what it did? It made loyalties very clear. There was a price for writing this post, but there were rewards for writing it too, and the rewards were far greater.

OCTOBER - Should I Die Before I Wake - Where I admit that seldom do I do things out of obligation, and acknowledge that some people find that quality rude. I want to live a life where I do things because I truly want to them, and if that is selfish and rude? So be it!

NOVEMBER - Moving On - As difficult as it has been to pack up the old house, it has been putting a dent in a very heavy weight I have been carrying around for three years.

DECEMBER Is that a sleeve on your stomach? - This was a hard post for me to write. I feel shame because I've failed at maintaining a healthy weight, and because I am now considering "cheating" by having weight-loss surgery. Writing this post helped to decrease some of that shame.

And there you have it - lessons learned in 2012 - most surrounding relationships - romantic - group - and the relationship I have with myself.

Was there a theme to your lessons learned last year?

28 December 2012

5 Things I Learned From The HNT Reunion

  1. There are not a lot of "personal" bloggers left out there. Okay, so this isn't some glorious revelation. Most of us who have been around the blogosphere for more than 3 years have seen this change happening. Where there was once a blogging audience, now most people find themselves as key contributors, with several online personas that could all qualify as blogs (twitter, tumblr, facebook, pinterest, etc.)
  2. When you retire, it is usually best to stay in retirement. Just ask Brett Favre, Lance Armstrong, or Randy Moss. Sure, you can attempt a reunion, but you have to accept that it won't be what it was the last time you were together.
  3. There is no longer a HNT blogging community. It used to be that if you took the time to acknowledge a blogger, that courtesy was almost always returned. Not any longer. (I may have spoken too soon - traffic and comments picked up Thursday evening) It seems people use the HNT platform for self-promotion and little more. It's every blogger for themselves. This holds true for most "Link-Ups" on blogs these days.
  4. HNT was never about sex bloggers, until it became all about sex bloggers. I can count on a single hand the number of HNT Reunion posts I read that were not prefaced by the ADULT CONTENT warning when I landed on the blog URL. Those warnings used to be the exception, not the rule.
  5. It's never good to allow your self-esteem to be tied to the internet. There was a time when I'd have had 8 comments and 25 page views in the first 10 minutes I posted an HNT. Yesterday? After 14 hours I had 8 page views and 2 comments. This reinforced the lesson in number 2.

26 December 2012


Remember that thing we called "Half-Nekkid Thursday"? It was a great community, even with its occasional drama and infiltration by the morality trolls.

But a year ago, it became little more than a tale - a badge of blogger honor if you will - one of those "Remember when ...?" things ...


Mike bought me Satchmo (a.k.a. Kindle Fire HD) for an anniversary/Christmas gift.

I swore I would never convert to an e-reader - that there was nothing that could replace the feel and smell of real books.

Although I still have a special place for real books, I've discovered there really is a place for a tablet/e-reader too. It's a little colder place - a little harder place - but there is a place for it.

I just have to be a little more careful when I fall asleep with Satchmo in the bed ...


After The Secret

I've been kind of tight-lipped when it comes to Cam these days, mostly because I'm a bit ashamed of what has been going on. I cannot seem to let go of feeling ultra responsible for everything he does - of getting stuck in the "bad parents raise bad kids" loop.

I'm also leery of being judged here. Not because I don't deserve it, but because I already judge myself so harshly. I'm not sure that opening things up here and inviting more criticism is in my best interest emotionally.

That said, Sunday's secret needs a little splainin' ...

Back in May, at the very end of the school year, Cam and another student were involved in an altercation. Cam was not the instigator, but he was a participant.

Like many schools, our high school has a School Resource Officer (SRO) who works full-time at the school. In theory, the main goal of the SRO is to prevent juvenile delinquency by promoting positive relations between youth and law enforcement.

In practice, the SRO at Cam's high school has done little more than reinforce the idea that cops are assholes just looking for an opportunity to show how small their penis is be the tough guy on campus.

In addition to being suspended for 3-days, Cam was charged with Disorderly Conduct (about 100 of these charges are handed out by the SRO each school year in a school that has about 600 students).

As it was a first offense, Cam's case bypassed the court and was handled by a probation officer. It took a few months for Cam's case to be processed, but in August, he was given 6-months probation for the offense, the only stipulations of his probation being that he go to school and keep out of trouble. There was no credit for "time served", leaving his probation in effect until mid February.

December 13th, Cam was involved in what I can only describe as a territorial (lunch room) pissing match between two 16-year old friends that lasted all of 7 seconds (I watched the video) and did NOT result in injury to either of them. It was something that, had it happened on the football field instead of the lunch room, would have been encouraged.

That event turned into a 4-day suspension (during review week for finals), and the SRO filed Battery and Disorderly Conducted charges against Cam. Because Cam was on probation, the county has referred his case to the State's Attorney for prosecution.

If that wasn't bad enough, the school is now doing everything within their power to remove Cam from the school and place him in a self-contained behavior disorder program even though this was NOT an expellable offense.

Bottom line? I don't know what is going to happen. I've contacted an attorney for the criminal charges, and am looking for an attorney for the educational issues (does anyone know an education attorney willing to work Pro Bono?), but I just don't know how things will turn out.

We have a meeting with the school on Monday, January 7th to address the educational side of things - a meeting that will likely be postponed because the school seems to think they don't have to follow Federal Regulations that require Prior Written Notice for placement decisions.

I should hear from the State's Attorney's office within the next couple of weeks with a court date.

This has put a bit of a damper on the holiday season.

Instead of buying a ton of gifts, or spending my Christmas money on myself, money went into my savings account to cover Cam's likely legal fees.

Unless the charges are dropped.

I'm not counting on that.

23 December 2012

Sunday Secret

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Shopping

Jana's Thinking Place

Today’s (totally and completely optional) prompt: How do you Christmas shop?


It's no secret that I am, by nature, not a shopper. I am one of those people who doesn't even travel to a store unless I have money, and need/want a specific item.

Window shopping?

Not my idea of a fun time.

Christmas shopping?

Well, I spend a lot of time throughout the year listening to what others say they'd like to have. I have a pretty good mental list by the time Christmas rolls around.

As one of the millions of people who are on a paycheck-to-paycheck budget, and one of the few people who still get a Christmas bonus from my employer, I have to wait for that bonus to do my Christmas shopping. Although that bonus is isn't huge, it is usually enough to get a few things for those who are special to me.

This year, my bonus was - quite unexpectedly - 25% less than last year.

Add to that a legal matter (involving my son) that requires I hire an attorney, and Christmas shopping has been ... well? Not a lot of fun.

I took my son to the outlet mall last weekend, gave him a budget, and let him shop. That was his Christmas gift.

I had grand plans for a gift for Mike, but with my financial constraints, had to abandon that idea.

It's been an emotional holiday season, one where shopping has had to take a backseat to the realities of my financial obligations and limitations.

And one filled with self-imposed guilt.

Because I cannot do the things the special people in my life deserve.


This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post (in the sidebar). .
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

20 December 2012

The WeLoveSchmoop Fund is Now Open!

Many of you know Schmoop ... in the internet defined "know".

She is the BFF/OSP of the one and only Matt-Man, and has recently been stuggling with some significant health issues.

Like turning yellow.

I first “met” Matt and Schmoop over 5 years ago when blogging was the only social  media platform … unless you were 12 and on MySpace. A few years later, I drove to “Bagwine” Ohio and spent a long (based on some of the shenanigans that took place, some would say too long) weekend with the two of them. They are real people. Real people who work hard and live a simple life.

In October, Schmoop did - indeed - turn yellow. Since that was not her normal color, she decided a trip to the ER might be in order.

That trip led to a battery of tests and then a transfer to another hospital where they drilled a hole through what they discovered was a blocked bile duct, and put a tube in to allow the bile to drain (a tube she wore proudly for 2 months). Last week, she went in for surgery to permanently remove the mass that was blocking the bile duct ... and anything else (pancreas, liver, stomach) that might have been impacted.

There was significant concern that cancer might be the culprit.

The good ... wait ... make that FABULOUS news is that her surgery went well and she was cancer free.

She is still in the hospital recovering.

Unfortunately, Schmoop has been unable to work during this time, and her unemployment benefits have been delayed by at least 8 weeks. She will not be able to start collecting unemployment until she is released from the hospital, and eventually cleared as "able to work" by her doctor.

Quite frankly, Matt and Schmoop are looking at the very real possibility of eviction.

Jay and I decided we needed to do something to help out these two great people, and the WeLoveSchmoop Fund was born.

We are asking for donations.

The idea is to try to help Schmoop recover the income she lost during this time that she has been denied unemployment benefits. So, with the help of Jay, here is a handy dandy little button that you can click on and make a donation to the WeLoveSchmoop Fund!

You don’t even need to have a PayPal acct. You can donate using your debit and credit cards. Just click the button and then put in the amount you want to donate (it’s up to you, no fixed amounts or minimums are set). Or, if you do have PayPal you can donate by sending the money to the official email of the WeLoveSchmoop Fund which is ….


It's a chance to help a great human being whom we all love so very much. The donate button will also be on the right sidebar here for the next few weeks. This isn’t an open-ended thing and we won’t badger you (much) to donate.

But, as Jay has so eloquently said, GIVE TIL IT HURTS PEOPLE!

17 December 2012

Is that a sleeve on your stomach?

Photo Credit
On November 28th, I started down a path I have thought about frequently, but was terrified to explore.

I attended a Weight-Loss Surgery Informational Session and decided to take the next steps to see if weight loss surgery - preferably a sleeve gastrectomy or Lap Band procedure - is an option for me.

I like my digestive system. I'd like to keep it intact.

I've been battling with my weight for almost 40 years. I vividly remember a doctor's appointment when I was 10 where, after having my height checked (5'-8") and being weighed (165) I was warned that I was already on the fat track and I should gain no more weight for the rest of my life.

40 years later I'm 4" taller, and over 100 pounds heavier.

I've been lucky. With the exception of arthritic knees, I am relatively healthy. No diabetes. No stroke. No high blood pressure.

But I also know that my health is a ticking time-bomb.

I've been this fat before. In my early 20's I lost over 100 pounds. I ate less, exercised more, and when I got frustrated with that, I abused laxatives. I was able to keep the weight off for about 6 years, mostly because my job (I was active duty Army) depended on it.

When I left the Army, and got pregnant with Cam shortly thereafter, I ballooned right back up again, eventually working myself all the way back to my heaviest weight.

If you've been reading me since the beginning of time, you know that I went on a weight loss spree again in 2007. I got down to a size 10. I was much healthier in some respects, but had - again - abused laxatives to get there. And when that didn't work, I added purging to my weight loss plan.

As you know, I've gained every bit of that weight back ... again ...

Weight-loss surgery was, at one time, what I believed was the easy way to my goal. Three of my family members have had gastric bypass surgery over the past 10 years. I've watched them trade one set of medical issues for yet another (the side effects of weight-loss surgery can be significant), but they lost weight, and if you are fat, you know that it's better to be sick and skinny, than it is to be sick and fat.

I no longer think of it as an easy solution, but rather a tool that will be used in conjunction with dietary and activity changes to make permanent weight loss possible.

I am at a point in my life where my mortality is no longer something I can ignore. Although I don't want to live forever, I'd like to be healthy the remaining years of my life, and although I am a master at losing weight, I'm a failure at keeping it off.

After attending the Weight-Loss Surgery Informational Session, I filled out the 17-page questionnaire and made my first set of appointments.

Today I have an appointment with a nutritionist, followed by an appointment with a bariatric nurse.

In January, I will meet with the surgeon.

After making it through this process, my insurance company will be contacted and we'll see if they will cover the surgery. If they won't, my path ends there. If they will, the journey continues.

This is a long process. After being cleared by these 3 people and the health insurance company, I'll need to be cleared by a mental health professional. I'll also have to attend 2, 3-hour educational classes before surgery can be scheduled.

I'll keep y'all informed ... whether you like it or not ...

16 December 2012

09 December 2012


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I tend to get comfortable with sameness. Whether that be in my personal life, my professional life, or in blogging.

In the 5 years I've been blogging, I've changed my blog template once.

Sure, there have been minor tweaks - adding the Home, About Me, HNT Archives, Sunday Secrets, and Suicide - The Never Ending Story tabs - changing my profile pic - adding gadgets to the side bar - but the overall look of my blog has remained relatively the same.

It was time for a change.

I'm all about simple and efficient.

Now the blog is too.


HNT is making a one-day return.

December 27th marks the first full year of HNT retirement. In celebration, it's coming back!

And so am I ...

I put a poll up in the sidebar, hoping it would help me decide whether or not to participate. The overwhelming majority of you who voted *cough*TWO*cough* were supportive, so I figured what the hell?!


I'm taking a bit of a self-imposed, social media (tumblr, twitter, facebook) break.

I find myself - once again - bitching more about it than having fun with it.

Patterns ... I've got 'em.

We'll see if I can pull my head out of my ass.


Mike and I celebrated our one-year anniversary last week.

I think I'm finally (maybe) coming to grips with the fact that his love isn't in spite of my faults, flaws, and quirks, it is because of them. Okay, maybe I have a hard time accepting that every day ... let's just say that I believe it more now than I did a year ago.

It's been a good year ...

I look forward to many more.

04 December 2012

My Name Is Dana And I Am A Project 365 Quitter

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By now, most of you have at least heard about Project 365, and a lot of you have probably attempted one yourself.

I took on my first Project 365 (Dana Does Digital) in 2010. I made it through the year, taking (and usually posting) a picture a day. It was, at times, more painful than accidentally chewing on a piece of aluminum foil. 

I vowed to never do one again ...

Until 2012.

Suddenly, it seemed like a good idea (I'm guessing this is a similar phenomena to the one that allows people to have more than one child).

41 days into the 2012 project, I quit.

There were several reasons why I quit, but it really boiled down to setting unrealistic expectations (for myself and the project) and feeling like a failure when I didn't meet those expectations. 

I'd rather quit than fail to meet my unreasonable expectations.

What's that you say? That attitude is a little self-defeating??

Yeah ... well ...

I really do like the Project 365 premise, but how do I get past the must-take-one-excellent-photo-each-day-and-post-it-that-same-day-with-some-witty-banter-attached-or-I-am-a-failure mentality?

I set lower reasonable expectations.

1. I will remind myself that for me, this endeavor is less about the quality of the photos and more about the memories. It's just another means of documenting a period of my life, and I give myself permission to post crappy, unedited photos.

2. I will not start my Project 365 on January 1st. I hate New Year's resolutions almost as much as I hate Jell-O, yet for some reason I decide it's a good idea to start my Project 365 on January 1st? Pffffttttt! I'll start when I want to (I am such a rebel).

3. I will take at least one photo every day, but I will give myself permission to miss a day (or several) of posting a picture to the Dana Does Digital blog, catching up when I can. I will not invite needless guilt into my life by beating myself up over it "not really counting as a Project 365 blog" if I don't post to the blog daily (and yes, this was the the single issue that contributed most to my decision to quit this year after only 41 days).

4. I will use technology to my advantage. I have installed 365 Photo App on my phone and will use it, without fear of judgement, to capture moments in time. I will approach this project as an artist (in the loose, artsy-fartsy sense) rather than as an aspiring photographer, using all imaging resources available to me.

I think I've really limited my success with this project by setting cumbersome and arbitrary rules for what Project 365 should or should not be.

Some might say the practice of setting cumbersome and arbitrary rules of what  should or should not be has crept into more than just my Project 365 life.

Maybe there is a lesson here *smirk*

I'll let you know when I start the project again.