Forks. It’s not just the home of a dreamy vampire or tools used to wind spaghetti. They’re moments of division along life’s path. I have a feeling we encounter forks in the road more often than we realize—subtle points of decision, where one choice will take us one way and the other another. Once in a while, these splits feel more monumental. Especially, it seems, when an opportunity is missed. We’re left on the other route, wondering what would have been, had we chosen differently. I almost found myself in such a painful place not so long ago…

DATE: December, 2016
PLACE: Trolly Square—a mall we visit 2-3 times a year, as it’s pretty far from our home
SCENE 1: A busy toy store

Standing in line at a toy store during the holidays means a wait. Good thing the store had a play area set up where Mags could keep herself busy. The situation got even better when a cute young girl approached and accepted Maggie’s invitation to “pway wif me.” When the time came for the girl to go, the sweetest words rang out: “Tell her thanks for playing with you.” They came from the little girl’s mom. And they were music to my ears.

I know this will sound… weird? Maybe that’s not the word, but I know my appreciation of manners is a little inflated here. It was just SO refreshing to encounter such a polite mother/daughter duo amidst the holiday chaos. I flashed an appreciative smile in the mannerly mom’s direction just as they went on their way.

These photos were taken just after Mags' encounter with the polite little girl. She was on cloud nine as she danced about the courtyard.

These photos were taken just after Mags' encounter with the polite little girl. She was on cloud nine as she danced about the courtyard.

SCENE 2: The Trolly Square parking garage

As we walked to our car, Mags asked if we could go in the attached grocery store. Being so far from home, this didn’t make the most sense, but I did need a few things, so the idea of not having to make a second stop was all the persuasion I needed. As we waited for the elevator to take us to the store, I saw my new mom crush again. She and her children appeared to have just gotten off the elevator we were waiting to get on. Through the crowd of people also waiting for their lift, I found myself shouting at the woman. It happened before I had much time to think about what I was doing…

“Hey! It’s you!” I hollered, almost too excitedly.

“Hi, again,” the kind stranger said. “It looks like our girls are all about the same ages. That’s fun! Do you live around here?”

“No. We actually live about 30 min. south of here,” I replied.

“Oh… Do you come here often?”

Never has this cliche pickup line sounded so sweet. Though, you wouldn’t know it by my reply. I scoffed a “No!” just as our elevator door opened. Why I suddenly turned into a smartass, I’ll never know. I sure didn’t mean for my reply to come out in that way with that tone, but before I could correct the situation, it was time to go. The open doors forced us into rushed farewells, and we went our separate ways. Again.


As the elevator door closed, the split in my life path became painfully clear. I was presented with a fork in my road… and I made the wrong choice. Ouch! I’m often saying I want more friends for my little girls. And for myself, frankly. Here was the perfect opportunity to make such friends and I let them slip through my fingers. :(

As the elevator opened again, I couldn’t bring myself to get off. As Maggie began to exit, I pulled her back and told her we needed to go back. We had some new friends to find!

I know. This probably sounds kind of nuts, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted a FORKS do-over. Sadly, we walked and walked through that cold parking garage, and they were nowhere to be found. Opportunity: missed!

SCENE 3: The grocery store

As we were wandering the aisles, dinnertime crept upon us and my girls were hungry, so we made our way to the store’s deli. That’s when Maggie pointed and squealed with delight, “Look, Mom! My friend!” Sure enough, there was my mom crush and her two sweet girls. Only this time they were joined by a dude. Papa Bear, I assumed. Again, we exchanged hellos. I then went on to confess my failed attempt to find them in the parking garage. Turns out they weren’t leaving the store at all, only going to put a few bags in their car before grocery shopping. They too were sitting down for a deli dinner and asked if we wanted to sit with them. Yes! Yes we did!


It took three times to happen, but we finally touched down. I feel like the universe continued to throw these delightful people in my path for a reason. The first time around, I was smitten but not in the best place to act. The second time was blown by an unintentionally smarty reply and an open elevator. “Okay, fine,” the universe said. “Let’s give this a third go!” Good thing the third time was our charm. We had a great meal and made plans to get together after the holidays.

Since then, we’ve had two play dates. Our first was at our messy, crowded home. Here are a couple of shots from that visit.

The next was in their clean and open home. 

Judging by our homes alone, Mom Crush seems the yin to my yang. She wants to decorate her home with more wall art and personal touches but isn’t sure where to begin, so her walls remain bare. I, on the other hand, am on a serious Quest for Less and need help minimizing my life. She’s all about the minimalism and happens to be a clean freak. Looks like we balance each other well.

Actually, it’s becoming more and more clear we need each other for reasons far bigger than home design. We need each other because being a mom is H-A-R-D. Having others who get that and can make it a bit easier is everything. As my new friend so aptly put it, parenting takes a village.

As we discussed this, she touched on how it used to be easier when we could just send our kids outside to play the days away, but we no longer have that option, at least not in the heart of the city. I love what she said next: “Chasing the ‘American Dream,’ we’ve dreamed ourselves right into lonely boxes!”

It’s true. Home can be quite lonely for a stay-at-home parent. Sure, you’re surrounded by your children all the time, but that’s the great irony of it all—you’re NEVER alone but can feel SO lonely. It’s why having friends with children the same age(s) as yours can be a life saver. I’m SO thankful we happened upon these delightful souls, even if it did take a few tries to get us there.

As an interesting coincidence, we also have a crazy amount in common. We’re the same age. Our husbands are the same age. Our daughters are the same ages. Finding older parents with younger kids in Utah isn’t always easy. Not that you have to be the same ages to align, but it was an odd thing to have in common—especially since Cory and I are six years apart. Also, Cory and their Papa Bear are both musicians. How ‘bout that?

Today brought another opportunity to see our new friends. My mom crush and I made this wall hanging. This was her first time making a craft at home. Can you believe it? I love that I got to be the one to experience it with her. She was a fast learner with awesome ideas and plenty of creative vision. The project turned out far cuter than it would have had I made it on my own. And it already hangs proudly on her wall—bringing her one step closer to her decorating goals.


You simply never know when you’ll happen upon such life divides. Because of this, I’m going to do all I can to be more mindful of my surroundings and experiences. Sometimes the briefest encounters can have the most lasting, loving impacts!


My Quest for Less Continues with a BIG Move

If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you know I’ve been on a Quest for Less this year, with “Less” being my One Little Word for 2017.

It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate all I have. I do! And I realize it feels almost… ungrateful to want less when my life is filled with love, good people, work I enjoy, pretty possessions, and hobbies that make me happy.

The truth is, however, that having my dear Lauri Grace has tipped my scales in a major way. I had no idea how difficult it would be to go from one child to two. People had warned me, sure, but I don’t think it’s something one fully understands until it’s experienced.

I see my neurologist for a narcolepsy check-in once a year. The latest visit went a little something like this:

Doc: How have you been?
Me: Fine. You know, same ole, same ole.
Doc: What is your schedule like now?
Me: I usually wake up around 6 or 7 AM and work for a few hours before my children get up. I then get them ready for the day, work again at nap time, back to kiddos until my husband is home, and then back to work until midnight or later.
Doc: *wide eyed and upset
Doc: So, how many hours of sleep would you say you get a night?
Me: Probably an average of 3-6, depending on my work requirements.
Doc: Megan, I know no other way of putting this—Short sleep, short life!

Ouch! His words hit me like a ton of bricks. He looked me square in the eye with a level of seriousness I’ve never seen from him in the 11 years I’ve been seeing him. He then went on to say that it’s not a matter of if but when, as he discussed MAJOR health concerns such as heart disease and cancer. It was at that point I knew something had to give. But what?

I have been SO blessed since being unexpectedly laid off at Creating Keepsakes magazine. All of the work I do is work that has found me. And it’s all work I can do from home, on my schedule. AND it’s all FUN work that I sometimes have to pinch myself as I’m doing to see if it’s really “work.”

It started with Scrapbook & Cards Today magazine, first as a copy editor and then as the editor-in-chief! I was then asked to be a blogger/writer/photographer for Gardner Village, a local shopping center. They do so many fun things and often let me involve my sweet family and friends for free, which is SO nice! Most recently, I added writing and marketing work for Brick Canvas at Thanksgiving Point—a beautiful wellness destination owned by Shelli Gardner, who also owns Stampin’ Up!, where I got my crafting career start.

How could I possibly give any of this up? Do I get a nanny instead? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of wanting work that allows me to be home with my children?

I love my career. I’ve worked HARD for my career for years! I love my children. I worked HARD to have my children. (Making Lulu nearly killed me.) Being an older mother who has chosen to focus on career first leads to a difficult fork in the road. A tough decision inevitably has to be made. Do I:

1. Quit my work and focus on being a mom?
2. Continue to work and find childcare options?
3. Find employment I can do from home so I can also raise my children?

For me, three seemed the ideal option. I’m sure many would agree. But I soon learned it wasn’t always easy. I’m an extreme extrovert. I love people. I NEED interaction and brainstorming and collaboration. I’m also quick to succumb to guilt. I’ll be feeding my babies and thinking about how I should be working. Or I’ll be working while Lulu is crying from her crib for 30 minutes and Maggie is begging me to play with her. “Just five more minutes.” became a term I was using FAR too often at home. Followed by “Sorry I’m late in responding,” being the lead to far too many work emails. It was killing me. And I was losing my sense of direction and purpose. I wanted to be a strong, valuable contributor to a team. Or, in my case, several teams. But I obviously had my first calling and purpose sitting right in front of my face in the form of two gorgeous sets of fresh, expectant eyes. And I’m sure anyone can understand why my heart was drawn to those eyes in every way. I wanted to work, but I NEEDED to mother. My babies are my soul, and I don’t want to miss a thing!


It was time to face reality and accept the fact that I’m not Superwoman and can not do it all. If I truly want the quality of my life to improve, I have to realize when I’ve maxed out and make the difficult decision to adjust for LESS. That’s when I called Catherine.

Catherine came to me just as I hit a low point in my career. It was the CHA following my CK position ending. I was asked to go to do freelance work for My Craft Channel. Feeling blue (and embarrassed!) about my 8-year job ending, I didn’t want to go to this show, but Kristine’s offer was generous and I love on-camera work, so I went. And boy am I glad that I did. It opened a few big doors for me, including introducing me to Catherine. It started with a simple “How would you like to do a blog post for me, reporting on what you’ve seen at CHA?” And that lead to “How would you like to be my copy editor?” And that ultimately lead to the EIC position. I was back in my element, doing magazine work I loved—a job where I could craft and also write about crafting. A job where I could work with amazing companies I’ve watched grow over the years. A job where I could support tremendously talented crafters and collaborate with the extremely gifted Cathy Zielske and Brandy Jesperson again. It felt like home!

As much as I love publishing and all of the wonderful benefits of working for a gorgeous crafting magazine, I slowly started to realize the position needed more than I was able to give. Between two autoimmune illness, two growing babies, and two aging parents, I was feeling so stretched and felt the impact it was having all around—both on my family/home and on my magazine family. It wasn’t fair to anyone involved. Soooo… I had to make that difficult phone call to Catherine, letting her know I was throwing in the towel. :( She, of course, understood. Being a mom of two herself and one who has also had to walk away from work in the past so she could raise her babes, she supported me and quickly went into transition mode. But not before offering me options. She suggested a hybrid position, where I could do some of my job and share some of it with another. I thought that was SO nice! It’s not every day you find someone who will make that kind of offer! In the end, however, I felt it would still be too much. But the idea of leaving the magazine fully didn’t feel right either. That’s when we discussed my having a column. Coincidentally, I had just wrapped our “Pic Tips” column for our Spring ’17 issue. The plan wasn’t for me to write it indefinitely. I had just stepped in as a guest columnist on this one. But I loved working on it. It’s a topic I’m passionate about and one I could teach on for days and days. So it was a natural transition, and I’m proud to now be the column’s full-time owner!!

I’m also proud to welcome Susan Opel to the seat of EIC. Our careers have been oddly paralleled over the years. When I left my position at Paper Crafts magazine to work for Simple Scrapbooks magazine, she was hired to replace me. And we’re two of the few from the CK empire of magazines who’ve remained actively involved in the crafting industry since departing our editorial positions when their magazines ceased. So when I thought about stepping down at SCT, she seemed an obvious choice. I was thrilled when Catherine interviewed her and ended up giving her the job. I think she is everything the position needs. She’s highly organized, she’s creative, she’s gifted in writing and editing, and she’s tremendously upbeat. She’ll be the cheerleader Catherine and the SCT team deserve! And she couldn’t be happier to have landed where she has, which is all the better.

Photo Cred: Susan Opel

Photo Cred: Susan Opel

As hard as it was to accept defeat and step down, I do so feeling SO confident and happy. I’m confident the magazine is in good hands, and I’m happy that I’ve already felt a tremendous shift in my work/life balance. I play with Maggie every day. Sure, that seems a small enough thing, but it isn’t. It’s huge! And we’re loving it. I’m cleaning my house and further pursuing my Quest for Less with a massive home clean-out/purge, which is about 10 years overdue. I even managed to prepare some meals. You’ll notice I said “prepare,” as a stove was in no way involved. I’ll work up to that. (BTW, who knew salads were so HARD to make?! Wow! I’ve got my work cut out for me!) ;)

I will keep my positions at Gardner Village and Brick Canvas. They’re smaller jobs that require far less of my time. Financially, SCT was the bulk of my income, so there is a noticeable and scary gap there, but, you know what? It’s okay. I feel oddly at peace in that regard. I know some of the money will come in through new freelance opportunities that require less time (it already has some, which is a blessing!), and if it doesn’t for whatever reason, we will be okay. I don’t know why I’m so sure of this, but I am, which has been the greatest comfort.

While all feels right with the world, I do have one big regret. I wish I would have said a more proper goodbye to the SCT readers. I was going to do so in my editor’s note for our Spring issue, but there were reasons why that didn’t seem the best decision. In the chance you happen upon this post, my friends, please know how much I’ve loved being a part of your lives over the years. You’re a kind, loving community, and you’ve done so much to make me feel right at home and supported. Thank you for that. I’m glad we’ll still connect through my “Pic Tips” column. Remaining a member of the SCT team in this way is a wonderful treat! It means I don’t have to say goodbye. Instead, I’ll see you soon!


I realize I’ve shared FAR more than you likely care to know—1,872 words and climbing, to be exact. Good grief! I guess this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else. It’s a way of achieving some closure. I now officially pass the baton to Susan. Together with Brandy Jesperson, Cathy Zielske, and Catherine Tachdjian, I know she’ll do awesome things! Thanks to each of you for making this one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I told Cory, it’s the first time I’ve actively decided to leave a job without another one to go to, which is terrifying. But I now realize that isn’t entirely true. I leave it to go to my most important job of all—the job of mom, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Thank you for supporting me so completely! That goes to the full SCT team. Your kindness has made a hard thing a bit easier. I adore you for that!

A second thanks to Catherine for making all of this possible in the first place. You picked me up and dusted me off when I was at a low point in my career. You’ve supported me and extended friendship and kindness even to my family (Cafwin, the chocolate lady! LOL). You have so many ideas and will continue to take SCT far. We can’t wait to see what happens next!

Mags, smiling over my last issue as EIC of SCT. What can I say? We're fans!

Mags, smiling over my last issue as EIC of SCT. What can I say? We're fans!

And now… here’s to continuing on my Quest for Less. I still have much work to do and hard decisions yet to be made, but I’m proud of myself for accepting my limits (not the least bit easy!) and doing what I can to make my situation better. I suppose that’s all we can do in life, right? After all, we get one chance to do things right. That’s a big deal and not something to be taken lightly.

Love & light to you, sweet friends!

A SUPER Dream Becomes a SUPER Reality (and a super DORK is revealed!)

Want to see me turn into a crazed 12-year-old girl faster than a speeding bullet? Get me in the same building as Dean Cain.

I fell for Dean when the Lois & Clark show started in 1993. I was 12. As the show progressed, my obsession with Mr. Cain grew. Specifically, I was quite taken with his Clark Kent character. Though, I certainly didn't mind the man in blue spandex either. Eventually, my entire room was lined with Dean Cain magazine tear-outs. This included a large Superman poster, which has remained on the wall of my childhood bedroom for 20 years. I finally took the poster down a year ago this month to take it with me to ComicCon, where I hoped to have Dean sign it. More on that in a moment.

Dean even has a place in my first scrapbook. I snipped this pic from the Parade Magazine and placed it right next to the dollar bill I won in the box of Coke, as you can see from my fancy Post-in Note Journaling spot. LOL

Okay, fast forward to last spring, when my friend Stace invited me to help out at the ABC 4 TV booth during ComicCon Fan X 2016. I've always wanted to experience ComicCon, and I love hanging out with this particular friend, so it was an easy yes. Of course, the fact that DEAN CAIN would be there didn't hurt either.

Not wanting to forget any of the magical details that swept me off my feet and made my super dreams take flight, I decided to blog about this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I ask that no judging take place on your part. I'll warn you, that I'm about to share my own alter ego. It may not wear glasses and it's FAR from mild mannered...


The first day of ComicCon, Stace and I went for a walk over to the area known as Celebrity Row. This is where all of the celebs have booths, sell autographs and pics, and meet with fans. Each celeb had their own booth. The line-up included such actors as Agent Scully, Skinner, and Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files, Carlisle from Twilight, Lavar Burton, and many others. But the booth I was most interested in seeing belonged to Dean. He had already left for the evening, so I helped myself to some Dean shenanigans and plenty of super selfies.

I was so wrapped up in the moment, that I wasn't even paying attention to whether or not I was actually in the selfies. All I cared about was that gorgeous, larger-than-life face before me!

Oh dear... Suffice it to say, things got weird. *bluuuuush

Like a chimp in the Primate House at the zoo, I climbed around that booth like a nut, stroking the chair Dean sat in and climbing on a stool to get pics of the higher poster on his booth wall. I even said, "Look! That's the pizza he was actually eating." Gushing over TRASH! What was happening to me? I had soared straight to cloud 9.

Stace kept telling me that this was nothing compared to how I'd feel the next day when Dean was actually in the booth, but I told her this alone was enough to make me happy. Little did I know...

As my fun in the booth concluded, a ComicCon employee came over. I'm guessing she was about to ask us to leave (or at least put both feet on the floor), but since we were already on our way, we simply chatted with her a bit about how excited I was to meet Dean (as if that weren't already crystal clear).


The big day was here. I slapped on my bright red lipstick and Superman shirt, grabbed my 20-year-old poster, and got to the convention.

The first real Dean encounter was at his ComicCon panel, where he spoke to a packed house and answered questions from the audience. Stace was busy in the booth, so I went with a new friend, Jonna. I can only imagine what she must have been thinking.

We went in before the panel began. Another panel was underway, so we sat at the halfway point and I started plotting my way to the front row. I won't go into the colorful language I may have used when discussing the front-row competition that I could see making their own plans. (Alter ego at work!)

"I'm going to get us seats in the front row," I told Jonna in a hushed and VERY serious tone. "I can't wait for you, but I'll save you a seat. I have to make my move!"

And make it, I did, scoring us seats in the front row. Faster than a speeding bullet, I darted and dodged my way towards the front of the room. And like a game of Musical Chairs, I pounced on those front row seats just as those sitting in them for the previous panel thought about standing up. It wasn't my finest moment, but I was a girl on a mission.

Before Dean entered, the panel host and fellow Con staff members were "joking" about needing to keep an eye on me. I honestly think they thought I was going to storm the stage or something. I suppose such comments as "if Dean doesn't get out here soon I'm going to have a seizure" didn't help matters. (Eep! How embarrassing!)

I made instant friends with fellow Dean fans around me. We started gushing about how dreamy he was and how excited we were to meet him. It was so fun! I was in my element.

And then... Dean!


Being in the front row, I may or may not have shouted a few... PG13 comments to him throughout the event. One attendee asked if he'd ever put "the suit" back on again. He said he would and I yelled out "how about right now?" The audience laughed, not realizing I was only half joking. Another guest asked what super power he'd have if he could have one, he said that there are times when x-ray vision wouldn't be bad, to which I replied, "You're telling us!" When he looked my way, I followed that with an exaggerated wink.

When the panel concluded, I let "your so sexy!" slip. He just laughed in my direction. I then proceeded to take this selfie as he was saying farewell.

The panel alone was enough to make my year. It was such fun sitting that close to him and hearing his thoughts on this and that. But it also got my jitters up. Every time I tried to make my way to his booth following this, I couldn't bring myself to go up and say hello. So, instead, I sat in the booth and painted him a card. Seriously?! I gave him a card? Oh my... Whatadork!

Finally, it was decision time. I either had to go say hello or give up on my super dream. It was just after 7:00 PM, and he was done signing autographs at 8:00, so I had to make my move.

With all the courage I could muster, I approached his booth. But... he wasn't there!! Could he be off, responding to an inaudible call for help?! The volunteers at his booth said that he left a little early. He had been working all day without a bite to eat, so he was getting food. Gee, the nerve. A man works 9 hours straight and wants to eat?! ;) But I wasn't so level headed in the moment. Instead, I think I responded with something to the effect of, "noooooo! I've been building up the courage to come see him all day. Will he be back?!" They didn't think he'd back until the next morning and asked if I'd be there. I didn't know if I'd have a babysitter or not, which is what I told them, suddenly realizing things were starting to unravel before my eyes... 

Just then, the ComicCon employee from the night before, the one I was gushing about Dean to, happened into the booth. "Oh, it's you," she said in a friendly manner. How could she forget the nut who had been bouncing around in that very spot like a metal sphere inside a pinball machine just the night before?! I explained my sadness and she went to work. "Let me see what I can do," she said. "Oh, no no! I don't want to interrupt his eating," I lied. Well, it wasn't a complete lie. The level headed me that was somewhere in the background of my fogged state truly did want to let the man eat. Good grief! But that voice was severely overpowered by what I can only describe as "my kryptonite." Actually, it was my friend who put it this way after hearing my story, and boy was she right.

I don't know if you've ever had a chance to meet the one your heart throbbed for in those crucial formative years, but it does something to you that I can't fully explain. It's like you're immediately transported back to your 12-year-old self and become this awkward, yet full-of-hope, giddy pre-teen. However, your adult, I-know-better brain is still in there somewhere, trying to regain control. It's like that famous scene from Seinfeld, where Jerry's mind is playing chess with his... well, you know. But it's two completely different states of thinking in competition with one another. This is what I was contending with as I stood there, poster in hand, knees shaking, when...


"Sorry," he said. "I was having a taco." "No! I'm sorry. You really didn't have to come back out," I said, trying to sound composed. All the while, my legs were jello and my smile a mile wide.

PAUSE Sadly, I put this story on hold at this point. On hold for a year. I didn't know if I'd ever post it anyway, as it's VERY embarrassing to reveal my alter ego, but I did know I wanted to remember the experience and this was a good place to document. I've just come off of FanX 2017. Alas, it didn't include a Dean sighting, but I did see friends experiencing their own kryptonite, which reminded me of my own magical experience a year back and made me want to revisit this memory. I wish I hadn't dropped off at the most important part of the story, but the experience seems tattooed on my brain like the giant S on Deans muscular arm in my poster. (Yes, I realize that's a fake tatt, but you get where I'm going with this.) I'm confident this is an accurate description of what happened next, but it will lack some of the detail, which is a super bummer! Anyhoo, let's get back to it.

I hand Dean my poster, explain that it has been on my wall for 20 years, and sprinkle in "I promise I'm usually normal" about 100 times. Again, it was the battle of the brains going on, and this was my adult brain's desperate attempt to salvage the situation when it was so clearly losing.

"What's your name," Dean asked.

"Well, if you check my jr. high notebooks, it's Megan Cain," I remarked with a grin the size of the Daily Planet.

Dean just laughed and went to work signing my post.

To my darling Megan (Cain?),
Such a pleasure to know you!
Dean Cain

He was seriously such a sweetheart. If that autograph doesn't say it all, I don't know what does. Of course, that was before it was time for him to come out from behind the safety of the tall table dividing us. When it came time for pictures, I asked if I could give him a hug, but it was more like a full-body embrace. I kept squeezing his muscular arms and burying myself in his chest. Boy, did he smell good! And I was saying the stuff of a full-on crazy person. "Mmmm... You're so soft," I gushed, before my adult brain screamed DON'T TELL A MAN HE'S SOFT! "I mean, you're hard." NOT THAT EITHER "I mean you're cozy soft. I could just stay wrapped up right here all day." I was desperately trying to clarify that I meant he was perfect and cozy and comfortable, but it was a rapid downward spiral. He just laughed.

I then went on to say how I "even married a man who looks kind of like you." Ummm... creepy much? I mean, there is a definite resemblance, but I assure you I did not go out and seek a Dean lookalike to call my Mr. It was just a happy accident.

To further compliment his character, he let the ComicCon employee who had retrieved him in the first place take several photos when I technically only paid for one. The photos and autographs are how celebs make their money at these events, so this was a VERY kind thing to do. As you can see from this sequence, I was not of sound mind.

Maybe if I squeeze into him hard enough, we'll stick this way. (Sheesh!) But at least I appear relatively normal at this stage.

Uh oh! Here comes the crazy train!

Annnnddd... I have a stroke! You can see the "is this really happening?!?!" written all over my face.

Superman to the rescue. Another one of those cozy hugs seems to do the trick and put my feet back on the ground.

But the momentary calm was short lived. As it was time for me to go, he KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK! I thought I'd die, right there on the spot. He went on to thank ME, saying I made him feel good about himself. What a kind thing to say and do. He should feel good about himself. He's a warm, friendly, giving gentleman who knows how to make a super fan feel fantastic, all while she's probably freaking him out.

He later went on to like my tweet when I posted this photo. You know I screenshotted that moment for the scrapbook!

All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime, and I have Stace Hasegawa to thank. It's no secret I'm a Dean fan. My bedroom wall may no longer be wallpapered in Teen Beat tear-outs of him (Cory might frown on that a little), but I'm still quick to gush if the topic of childhood crushes or sexy celebs comes up. Just yesterday, he came up in a text convo my family was having about Dancing with the Stars.

A few days before that, I had received this text from a friend.

Stace even made me a Dean ring once. LOL Just a joke to say she appreciates my hysteria.

By now, I know what you must be thinking--someone warn Dean to get a restraining order. I don't blame you. This all must seem super nutty. I assure you I'm fairly levelheaded. I'm just trying to illustrate that my thang for Mr. Cain is pretty well known. It's kind of a joke. I mean, I'm a happily married woman. But it's something that still comes up in conversation and gives us all a good laugh. So, for Stace to call and offer me a coveted Con ticket so I could have this experience was by far the coolest thing ever!

Today, a year later, I still think back on this and smile from ear to ear. A big item was checked off my bucket list that day, and I can never thank Stace or Dean or that ComicCon employee (oh, how I wish I knew who she was) enough for making super dreams come true.

Dean, in the VERY SLIM chance you happen upon this someday, I want to thank you. You made my awkward jr. high years much more fun. At a time when I was the last thing on a boy's mind, you were there, in your charming Clark Kent way, proving to me that men were different. Oh, sure, you were playing a part, but it was an important part that resonated with so many. I know I can't be alone in feeling as I do. And it was deeper than just a girl crushing on a gorgeous face. The Clark Kent role proved and continues to prove to girls that women can be strong, independent, smart, and defiant, and men will still melt for them. The premise of this story is timeless and one that gives girls the world over a good gauge of equality and true love. And you brought that story to life at just the time in my life that it mattered most. I happened to be in journalism at school when Lois & Clark aired, and I knew I wanted to grow up a Lois and find my Clark. I like to think that--the real super dream--also came true!




Rules (or lack thereof) of Social Engagement

I’ve had something on my mind. Social media and expectations, as well as social media and judgement. You know why I signed up for Facebook back in… 2009 (I think)? My friend Jennafer said I should. That was it. LOL No expectations. No demands. Same for Instagram, though two years later. A friend signed me up as we stood in line, waiting to order some of Nashville’s best BBQ. (Thanks, April!)

Today, both games have changed, haven’t they? It’s almost like there are unspoken rules of engagement. For starters, I’m told you should be brief. We all know I suck at this one. This post actually started life as a FB post, but I realized it was a little out of control, and moved it here. Shall we continue?

The funny thing about rules of engagement is people seem to be of two very different mindsets. Where do I sit? Honestly? I didn’t know.

This question has rattled around in my head a bunch lately, mostly due to a few recent interactions. One came in the form of private FB message from a college friend. It was a nice note, wishing me a happy birthday that concluded with this: “I just wanted to say that your posts are really refreshing, I always like folks that feel like they can be an open book […]. The good, the bad, and the frustrating. Always be real!”

Just before receiving this note, another expressed concern over my ability to continue working in this industry I do if I continue to share as I have. This was not meant to be harsh. More as advice from another who works in the same industry and wants me to succeed.

These aren’t isolated incidents. I’ve received unsolicited feedback like this many times over the years. Sometimes saying it’s best to say less. Other times, thanking me for saying as much as I do. No wonder I find myself a bit confused.

Then there’s the fake vs. real in what we portray. This one applies more to Instagram. Some say it’s best to be real. Others are all about going to great lengths to stage the image they’re presenting. I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle on this one, sharing looks at my home life with family and friends, as well as staged shots of the creative work I do. Yes, it is a hobby. A hobby I love. But it’s also how I bring home the bacon bits.

A while back, a friend was saddened when someone posted about how we shouldn’t use photo filters. It really left her feeling unsure. Shamed, even. I see both sides of the coin. Filters are just another layer between reality and what we portray as reality. They’re artificial, in a way. On the other hand, isn’t that the point? If I can add a little Valencia to make my tired mama eyes look a little less tired, is there anything wrong with doing so? If it gives me a slight boost of confidence in a world where my confidence is slipping at a rapid pace, isn’t that a good thing?

No filter. Chin chub. Sleeping bags beneath the eyes. Oh, did I say this already? No filter!

Filtered, both to soften the rough and also to support the story I was telling with this particular image. A funny tale about a night gone VERY wrong that I shared on FB.

What about the photos that I really deck out? You know, like some of my outdoor shots where I’ve enhanced the blue of the sky to appear almost turquoise and added a sun flair or light burst to, ahem, lighten the mood? Is that a no-no or is it art?

I love the creative expression photography offers, but I also understand how when I look back on that trip to the water tower years from now, the sky as it truly was will be a forgotten memory. Is that bad? Does it somehow cheapen my experience and my capture of it?

Last night, as I was reading Essentials: Essays by The Minimalists (I know, I know—obsess much?—but they are SO good), I came to this, which really resonated with me.

“It’s a matter of congruency. For the longest time, I lead two separate lives. Corporate me was prim and proper—extensively flawless. Then there was creative me. Flawed and beautiful. Beautiful because of the flaws, perhaps. I kept the two separated. Over time, this took its toll. Living two separate lives was exhausting. Even disingenuous. Instead of hiding one half from the other, I decided to change my activity to align both halves… Your online persona should be a mirror of you and nothing to be ashamed of. For me, there isn’t an online self and a real life self, just my self. Whether I speak to a crowd of people, write something online, or have a private conversation with a friend, my life is congruent.”

Joshua Fields Millburn continued. I was messing with the iPad at the time, so I jotted the notes down for this part. Hope you can read my chicken scratch.

In the chance you can’t read that last bit, it’s worth restating:

“Deciding what’s private and what’s public is a personal matter. Share whatever you like. Just don’t be ashamed of who you are. Shame is ugly and you’re FAR TOO BEAUTIFUL FOR THAT!”

Isn’t that it, right there?

We ARE far too beautiful to feel shame over items shared. Post a pic of your messy house? Good for you! Post a pic of the one small corner of your home that ISN’T messy? I’m right there with ya! Write on FB about your crummy day? I hope you find some comfort in the replies. Write a FB post about your awesome day? Excellent! Enjoy celebrating with others!

As far as I’m concerned, rules shouldn’t apply as long as the messages and images abide by basic rules of public decency. It is a public space, after all. No shoes? No shirt? No service! Okay, okay, shoeless may enter. As much as I dislike feet (especially my own), I’m not about to block another for their cute pedi pic. And I’m not going to hit the “report” button at the first site of a topless Dean Cain. But it is a public domain, and I shouldn’t have to fear my daughter seeing bare bosoms if she happens to enter with me. And no perpetuating hate or hurt. Period. That business gets blocked and breaks my “rules” quickly.

Of course, saying all of this, I can still think of a post or two I regret. One in particular. It was about Cory's choice to work over the holidays. That's his story, his decision, and his to share or not. Hurt, I made it my own and said more than I should have. I guess it's all about finding a comfortable balance, which is something I still work at.

Why? Is that what you’re asking at this point? Why this post? I don’t know. I guess because these thoughts have been rolling round ’n’ round in my head for weeks, and I wanted to put a stop to the spin cycle. Thanks for visiting this here washateria (Mom's way of saying "laundromat.") No shaming. Just enjoy your beautiful self doing your beautiful thang!