Archive of ‘The Write Stuff’ category

Anti-Oxford Comma

Yes, it’s true. I am anti-oxford comma.

There, I said it.

I feel much better now.

Do you still like me?

Are you going to unfriend me?

Unsubscribe to my blog?

Call my mom and tell on me?

All of the above?

For those unfamiliar with this ongoing debate, this discretionary punctuation mark has caused quite an uproar in writing workshops, high-school English classrooms, and even courtrooms around the country. It is a fight to the death over whether or not a comma needs to precede the last element in a series – like red, white and blue.

Does it make your skin crawl that I didn’t use an Oxford comma just now? I’m sorry. I can’t help it. Baby, I was born this way.

I know I’m in the minority here. Lots of people disagree with me. Even Grammarly is against me. Every mistake it catches in this post is comma-related. Hey! I pay for Grammarly premium. I expect a special setting for comma preferences with my subscription.

Here is the tricky part. As a non-profit communications professional, I am obligated to follow the style guide assigned to me by the powers that be. If they follow the Associated Press (AP) style guide – as many sensible organizations do – AP is much more liberal and doesn’t care whether you use it as long as you pick a side and remain consistent throughout the document. It’s very democratic, and I, for one, am quite pleased with this compromise. There is no judgment. No muss. No fuss. No tracked changes or vetoes from the majority. Everyone is happy.

I mean, really, doesn’t this make sense? Can’t we all just get along?

Unfortunately, the non-profit I currently work for uses the Chicago Manual of Style guide (UGH!), which strictly forbids omitting said (and sad) serial comma. This means that if I want to get paid, I must relinquish my inherent – and practically religious – belief on this issue and acquiesce.

After all, I have two children to put through college. I can be a team player. And I’ll just save my recreational, controversial and reckless anti-oxford comma activities for my blog and someday my book.

Unless I find an editor who is pro-Oxford comma, then we may have a problem.

P.S. – I hope this doesn’t change things between us. I still love you regardless of your punctuation preferences. No matter how misguided they may be. 😉

My 300th Blog Post

This morning, I woke up to check my blog stats and realized that I am hitting a blog milestone today. This is my 300th post. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to take you behind the scenes of my writing life.

Who First Inspired Me?

In the fourth grade, my teacher assigned the class a writing project – tell a story about an inanimate object and give it human qualities, characteristics, and behaviors. This writing style is called personification or anthropomorphism. I composed an end-of-life story of a pair of sneakers sitting on top of a trash can, reflecting on the past and awaiting their fate. In my teacher’s opinion, the best line of the story was “I saw my life flash before my shoelaces.”

I got an A, and a writer was born.

Who Nearly Killed My Writing Dreams?

For the longest time, I let my 12th-grade journalism teacher live inside my head and feed a severe case of imposter syndrome. For years, I thought she was right when she told me I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer. Not too long ago, I wrote her a letter that evicted her from my mind. Obviously, I still think about her, but instead of letting her words sink in, I laugh at them because I proved her wrong.

What is My Book About?

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know I’ve been working on a book about Parkinson’s Disease (PD). I know way too much about this disease. While PD is not a death sentence, it is a progressive neurological disorder. My maternal grandmother was diagnosed in the 1980s and passed away from complications. Thirty years later, my father was diagnosed. He is doing well now and will continue to live life to the fullest and fight until there is a cure.

With close relatives on both sides of my family affected by PD, I am uniquely positioned to raise awareness and share my story. I also wonder if I have a predisposition to PD later in life. I’m planning on consulting a genetic counselor to find out more. But, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know too much about my future. What would I do with that information? Would I live differently? Exercise more? Participate in research studies?

Do I really want to know? My curiosity says yes, but the hypochondriac in me says, “HELL NO!”  Regardless, through their stories and mine, I hope I can make a difference.

What Does My Writing Community Look Like?

I am fortunate to have found several ways to be a good literary citizen. Years ago, I walked into the Philadelphia Writers Workshop, which convened once a week near my home. I met my writing coach and workshop facilitator, Rachel, who has been a huge part of my writing life ever since. I was also introduced to other local writers with big dreams like my own. A lot of us have stayed in touch over the years supporting each other and celebrating our work.

Before COVID-19 hit, I attended writing workshops and conferences, book fairs, and author signings whenever I had the chance. Last summer, I masked up and attended HippoCamp for nonfiction writers like me, which gave me another huge boost – and more literary citizens to commiserate – I mean bond – with.

This year, I want to submit more articles for publication. First, I need to develop a daily writing habit – this is where the Ultimate Blog Challenge community and you – my readers – come in. I already feel the love from my fellow writers, family, and friends. And with every comment and like that you are generous enough to offer me, I get that extra dose of confidence. So, thank you. It means a lot to me.

What Writing Advice Can I Give You?

Never give up on your writing dreams – whether it is to write a fantastic blog that goes virtual and feeds into your business or creative passions, or you want to be a published author, you belong in the writing community just as I do. You do. You belong. Don’t give up.

In the words of Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”



My 2022 Word of the Year

I learned a long time ago that New Years’ resolutions don’t resonate with me. I make them, and I break them without a second thought. There are a few reasons for this. For starters, resolutions are typically too broad. Lose weight. Get organized. Write more. Volunteer often. Yes, I could drill down each of these statements with smaller steps, an overall plan, and a foreseeable goal. And then, to seal the deal, I would find the perfect app to accompany it.

To be honest, I already have the steps, plans, goals, and apps in place. And I’m working through each of these goals slowly but steadily. So, what do I need resolutions for? To commit to the same things I committed to last year? Seems a little silly to me.

Nevertheless, I like to jump on a good bandwagon, and writers have the perfect tradition for this. We pick a word of the year. Instead of making resolutions, we challenge ourselves to find a word that encompasses the kind of focus we want to achieve year-round.

It’s a pretty tall order, but I highly recommend it, especially if you aren’t a resolutions person.

Just to recap, in 2018, picked the word “coffee” and vowed to meet up with people to have coffee and catch up, network, or just for laughs. That was a fun year. I can’t find the word I chose in 2019, but for 2020, it was “believe,” and last year’s word was “today.”

For 2022, I wanted to pick something that motivates me and inspires me to grow and change for the better. Who better to turn to for inspiration than author and motivational speaker Brene Brown. She once said, “connection is why we’re here. It is what gives purpose and meaning in our lives.”

I agree with this on so many levels. What are we here for if not to find purpose and meaning in our lives? So, my word of the year is CONNECT. It speaks to me for several reasons. Here are a few of them.

Personally Speaking

For the past few years, I’ve said that I have a book in me. I am finally getting that book down on paper. In order to write a book, you have to connect on a deeper level with yourself, your past, and your future. This is what I have been doing for the last year with the help of the writing community, where I am an active participant. Soon enough, I will connect the dots on my story and hopefully be fortunate enough to share it with the rest of the world.

I will also start a new chapter in my life later this year as an empty nester. Both of my kids will be in college, which will be quite an adjustment. I admit that I’m feeling a bit anxious about it. But, I am combatting that anxiety by connecting on a different and exciting new level with my husband and my semi-adult children.

While I’m looking forward to the personal growth that will bring me, I’m also not rushing it. I plan to be present for all the special occasions and little parenting moments I can collect until I have to drop Andrew off at college.

Professionally Speaking

From a career perspective, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the people I’ve met along the way. I have an excellent professional support system made up of mentors, colleagues, friends, and family who continue to encourage and inspire me. I am so grateful to them, and in 2022, I want to reconnect with them, help them in their journey, and see where that leads. Networking has never been a chore for me. I thrive on meeting and learning from new people. LinkedIn was a big part of that when I was looking for a job. Now, I want to look for opportunities where I can share my expertise, continue learning, and give back to those who have been so good to me.

A Word on Disconnecting

When I think about connecting with what’s most important to me in 2022, it also helps to recognize what makes me unhappy. In 2020, I left a toxic work environment for a much more supportive one. This made all the difference in my life this past year. I’m much happier, healthier, and better for it. And now I know that life is too short for jobs, people, and things that don’t bring us joy.

I also want to disconnect from doom-scrolling on social media and watching hours and hours of news programs. I’ve been a news junkie all my life, but it has not served me well lately. At this point, I’m scared of the pandemic, the politics, and the pandemic politics. I want to be informed but need to find more balance here. And sometimes it is better to unplug from all of that shit instead – with the exception of Jake Tapper and all of the late-night talk show hosts. They still bring me plenty of joy.

I will also continue disconnecting from the world for a while with a good book. I read 30 books in 2021 and set a new Goodreads goal for 35 books in the new year. I’d actually like to read more than that, but we will see what happens. I also learned to DNF (do not finish) books that I can’t get into the story. Again, life is too short.

One More Thing

This post is the start of a new blog challenge for me – the Ultimate Blog Challenge consists of 31 posts in 31 days. Some days I’ll have plenty to say, and other days I may post a photo or a quick story. I hope you will read, comment, and share your stories with me too. Don’t want to miss a blog post? Subscribe above to get a post in your inbox every day!

Happy New Year! Let’s connect!



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