Featured

Yo.

Image 7-20-17 at 8.09 PM (4)

 

Hello!  I’m Christy.

In a nutshell, I am a:

  • Mama
  • Teacher
  • Soon-to-be published author (March 29, 2018!)
  • Grief survivor
  • Podcaster
  • Over-sharer

I think you’ll love it here if you have ever tripped up the stairs, if you love to read, if you love true crime, if you have any kind of emotional baggage, if lots of people stress you out (or don’t), or if you have at least one child who is obsessed with Halloween.  🙂

At any rate, I’m glad you’re here.

XOXO,

Christy

Authors Turning Pages Spotlight: Lisa David Olson

It’s no secret I want to be Brene Brown. Or Rachel Hollis. I obviously know the chances of that are about the same as me making it in the NFL. (By the way, maybe message them and suggest my book to put on their TBR list? It can’t hurt, just sayin’).

HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean I can’t do the things I love. And I LOVE speaking to people. I love doing my best to lift people up, make them laugh, and remind them that it’s ok to not be ok.

In the last year, venturing into the book publishing industry, joining writing groups, and networking my little tushy off, I have met SO MANY incredible people. And even though we kinda throw words like incredible and awesome around, I seriously mean INCREDIBLE. As in, you look at someone and you just wonder, how can someone be so freaking awesome?

Tonight I want to tell you about a lady I know. She, along with one other superhero (who I will introduce to you next week), is doing a show with me in a few weeks at this amazing arts center called The Pumphouse.  Oh, and our director, who I will also introduce next week is her hubby. They’re kinda sickly cute, though, be warned.

For over a year now, people have been saying to me, “Omg, you need to meet Lisa David Olson. You and she would totally hit it off. You will be besties.”

And, of course, I didn’t meet her. Not on purpose, yo. I just didn’t run into her.

And then, one night, like magic, she showed up at my writing small group. And I went home that night and thought:

  1. Everyone was right, I DO love her.
  2. We need to collaborate because we both JUST released books and they’re about humor and overcoming our tough experiences.

And so, without any hesitation, when I asked her if she wanted to work with me (think you’re inviting a new friend to a sleepover in 7th grade), she said, “Absolutely!”

A summary of Lisa:

*She is FREAKING HILARIOUS. Like, should be on Saturday Night Live hilarious (Um, anyone out there with connections? Because, for real, she is legit the funniest person and can keep a totally straight face when she’s making you practically pee your pants laughing).

*She has been through some stuff, but she NEVER whines or complains about it. She’s like, “Yo, we got this. Bring it on.”

*She LOVES kids. And not just like, “Oh, kids are awesome,” but, more like, “OMG I see a child over there, I wonder if it wants a sucker?” Ok, that sounds on the creepy side, but you know what I mean. She is SUCH a mother and a nurturer, which is really quite incredible considering her recent book is about surviving an abusive, alcoholic mother.

*She means business.  She’s a hustler. She shows up. She’s responsible. She takes everything seriously. She will make you want to work harder.

*Have you ever known someone who can’t show up empty-handed? I have another friend, Pete, who is like this too. Basically, anytime we meet for anything, she has some sort of little trinket for me. Last time I saw her she gave me a wrapped crystal-thing that I now keep on my nightstand and touch right before bed. She thinks ahead and wants to just spread the love.

At our show at the Pumphouse, she will make you laugh so hard you pee. Well, almost pee. I don’t want you coming thinking you’ll have to wear a diaper. She will inspire you to DO better and BE better but somehow at the same time remind you that you are PERFECT just the way you are.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Link to tickets: https://www.thepumphouse.org/product/authors-turning-pages/

October 24 or 25, 2018.

 

OH! And if you can’t make it to the event, you can find her book here:

I know.

Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM! MOM!  MOM!  MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!

MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!

I love my children. They are awesome.

I love my job. There isn’t one better.

I love my husband. He could teach how-to-be-a-good-husband class.

I know I’ll “miss it someday.”

I know it “goes so fast.”

I know I’m so lucky because I have what so many others don’t.

I know lucky isn’t even really the word because I have SO MUCH.

 

BUT

 

Sometimes, I still need to plug my ears.

21317426_10159359335530078_2933728417747312090_n

 

That is all.

It’s so cliché

Its probably too cliché

but nostalgia made me do it

I thought of home

distorted and unfocused, my memories are not quite there anymore

but the feelings remain-settled down deep

 

what is it about Autumn-the changing of the leaves or maybe not

that pulls me back “home”

can you call it home when

there’s nothing there anymore?

just a giant chasm where something used to be

 

a childhood friend died today

almost her entirely family gone, now

I left, but they stayed

had it been over 15 years since I’d even heard her name?

 

she wrote to me a few months ago

I think I’d like to write a book she said

about the pain

all the pain

but I don’t know if I’d be any good at it

 

Write

I told her

Write it down

because before you know it, you’ll be gone

 

and now she is

gone

and I’m drawn back home, wondering how I am here and she is there

and if she wrote down any of her pain

 

it’s such a cliché to love Autumn so much

to think of home as the seasons change

as those leaves of my childhood

fall, along with the few memories I have left

 

If you read anything today, read this:

I want to tell you about my friend Susan:

I met her kind of accidentally. I wanted to be a writer. She is a local writer. So I friended her on Facebook and sent a message saying as much. She accepted.

Then, I was in a little show called Listen to Your Mother. She was in it, too, but the year before. We went to a little reunion for both casts and I got to meet her. Then we started really corresponding. I had/have so many questions for her.

She is just one of those people, you guys. The kind of person that you just automatically know she’s amazing and wise. She is hilarious and says what she means without ever actually being mean. You can tell she stands up for what she believes in and has passion for living.

She graduated college with a degree in journalism and worked at a newspaper during Watergate. Yep. I know. She’s so cool.

One day I asked her to coffee so I could hear about her career. Two major things happened during that meeting:

  1. We saw a woman walk past us with a t-shirt that said, “Be a Kind Human.”
  2. Susan told me that her cancer was back. Breast cancer. 3rd time around.

We both decided we REALLY wanted one of those shirts. So one of Susan’s friends, an artist, had her write “Be a Kind Human.” and she used her handwriting to design a shirt.

Here she is, in the front in red, wearing the shirt:

40337195_10156644934933535_6782648891129987072_o.jpg

Sue has a thing-all the times when her cancer has come, she has traveled around and taken pictures with people wearing a pink nose. Why? Because she wants to tell cancer that it can’t take away her laughter. She wants EVERYONE to know that she is here, and laughing, and writing, and spreading kindness wherever she goes.

Here we are with our pink noses when she came to drop off school supplies for my classroom (Seriously. I know. She’s freaking incredible):

40138501_10156639548913535_7434168895625232384_o

I am inviting you, today, to spread the love and buy this shirt. Wear it proudly, a shirt with Susan’s handwriting on it, reminding you that kindness is where it’s at, yo.

Remember that Susan T. Hessel, an incredible writer from La Crosse, Wisconsin, knows, even as she is battling cancer for the 3rd time, that kindness is what matters.

https://www.zazzle.com/kindness_store

P.S. Today (8/29) the shirts are 40% off

P.P.S. Proceeds go to an act of kindness fund

P.P.P.S. The shirts run small so buy a size up

It seems I lost my way…

Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account.

It was time.

Problem 1: I spend WAY TOO MUCH time on Facebook. I’m not a good person when it comes to moderation. I’m either scrolling through so often that I’m annoyed there’s nothing new, or I leave my phone plugged in upstairs in my bedroom and don’t touch it.

Problem 2: My emotions got the best of me. I used my Facebook as a way to relate to others–to share my deepest feelings as a writer so that other people can know that they’re not alone when they’re feeling left out, or let down. I was chugging along, proud of myself, making sure that I was “vague” when I was talking about personal things. As it turns out, trying to speak vaguely is basically the same as being passive aggressive. I swear, I’m always so careful to say–I know these bad feelings I’m having, someone else is having these bad feelings about me. But, I lost my way. The grief from my mother-in-law’s death kind of sent me on a spiral where I wanted to yell, “See!  See how nobody did this or this or this!” People let me down, and instead of talking to THEM, I spread out all my stupid feelings where anyone could see them.

Problem 3: I was reflecting on myself, but in the wrong ways. I know I am SO FLAWED, and I own that, but I was owning the wrong failures. I was using Facebook to get affirmation that I’m right in my feelings. I think we all need those affirmations, but social media is not the place.

Problem 4: I get jealous. Enough said.

Problem 5: I want to inspire people. I want to make people laugh. I want advice, and I want to see funny cat videos, and I want to know RIGHT away if the president ever gets impeached (LOL!). Instead, I was letting myself get too deep. Too serious. I was blaming other people and blaming them in a really passive aggressive way.

Problem 6: I’m overanalyzing Facebook.  Say what? I was paying attention to who was not liking my posts, who wasn’t doing this, who had obviously hidden me, who was out with me (without me). I’ve been staying at home a lot this summer because my anxiety has skyrocketed since my mil died. So here I am, just wallowing, noticing all the stuff people are NOT doing for me. This is RIDICULOUS. I have incredible, selfless, giving people ALL up in my life, and I am ignoring that and dwelling on stupid things. UGH. I’ve been here before, but I’m WAY too old for this.

I’ve been playing victim.

I never meant to. I honestly just was a little desperate, reaching out for help (in all the wrong ways).

My plan:

  • Stay off Facebook (except for my Um, You Guys page) for a good, long, while.
  • Reach for my journal when I’m hurting and write it out there, instead of in front of the Internet.
  • Forgive. Forget. Move forward.

To my family and friends: I lost my way. I’m sorry. Genuinely, so sorry. My job as a “writer” propelled me forward too much and my “truth” was nothing short of vague booking and shameless ways to get people to figure out my pain and reach out. Which, of course, doesn’t work. There’s a time and place to vent, and this was certainly not it.

I’m back on track now. I won’t stop sharing-don’t worry-but I have disregarded other people’s feelings. I was stuck in pissing matches and not being humble OR kind. I swear to you, it never came from a place of malice. Only pain. Not an excuse, mind you–just trying to figure this all out.

I’m sorry.

XO

Christy

P.S. I still have Facebook Messenger if you need to get ahold of me–or you can always email me at christywopat@gmail.com.

 

 

Skinny Dipping

You guys.

I went skinny dipping.

 

Ok, don’t worry–it was 15 years ago, 40 pounds ago, and it was dark. 🙂 There were probably 20 of us, camp counselors in the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota, having one of those beautiful, fairy-tale summers. One where everything was so magical you actually thought getting into a LAKE in the DARK without a suit was a good idea. (I shudder…ugh. Blech).

I met my husband that summer. We started sending little notes to each other through the camp mail-system. There was a postal worker, and they’d sort the notes by cabin and drop them off at your table at dinner.  One night, I got a note that said, “Meet me at the dock. 9:30.” This started a regular tradition. We would meet on the dock the nights when neither of us had to be with the campers, and we’d lie down next to each other and stare up at the vast galaxy of stars above us.

“My parents are going through a horrible divorce,” I’d tell him.

“I keep falling in love with people who don’t love me back,” I’d say.

But mostly, we just stared up at the sky. The water would ripple around us. Some nights, we’d end up running away screaming when we saw a raccoon, or maybe a snake. Some nights we’d have to leave early to plunge a toilet or help a camper who was homesick.

The most glorious part of that time for me was that in the whole world, there was just the two us, in total awe of nature and everything around us. It wasn’t even necessary to talk. No one knew where we were. No one cared where we were. It was us, alone, surrounded by the stark beauty of something so simple as a lake and a sky.

I just finished reading a book-a thriller-that took place in a summer camp. There was a tragedy that happened to this woman at camp when she was 13, and 15 years later she was asked to return to camp to re-open it.

I got a grin thinking about returning to this camp. A bible camp that we had to un-bible (it was so weird, going around and covering up crosses with sheets!), with a little chapel that I loved so much and never wanted to leave. The main lodge where I had spent hours getting to know incredible people from all over the world. I loved it. My whole life would be completely different had I not gone there.

Completely different.

But I couldn’t go back now. Nothing would live up to the fairy tale of the several summers that I worked there. We could never recreate the same feeling of hope and belonging and just plain love (and a lot of smelly people and some drama, too, just in case I’m being too idyllic here).

Tonight, though? Tonight, I am going to go out after my kids go to bed and the dark of a Wisconsin summer night settles in, and I’m going to bring my husband and lie next to him on the giant trampoline that sits in our backyard. And I’m going to pretend like no one in the world knows where we are, and just lie there, without talking.

It’s time to start making some magic of my own, even though I’m old and crotchety and wrinkly and fat and tired all the time. I’m not letting myself even get a breath. I’m stressed even where there isn’t much to stress about. It’s time!

Don’t worry, though–no more skinny dipping for me!

 

 

 

That one time I met Michael Martone

On a whim, early this spring, I decided to apply to a writing workshop through the Chippewa Valley Writer’s Guild. It looked incredible: huge log cabin, dedicated time to write, a writer-in-residence who would lead us through workshop.

I gathered all my application materials … and then, I thought, Christy. You are doing it again. You’re “playing” writer. You should save money and be with your family.”  But, you know what? Then I was all, Look here! I love this! It’s what I love, yo! I’m doing it!

And so, I applied. And I was accepted. And off I went to the middle of nowhere Wisconsin to a cabin called Cirenaica.

Cirenaica_FB_event_banner

And then.

ANDDDDD THEN, you guys. I realized that I was in the exactly right place at the exactly right time. It was magical–as magical as summer camp. I swear. I looked around me and saw people just like me. People who love to write, who LIVE to write, but don’t make a LIVING writing. And there was this immediate comfort inside me. I met new people that I just adore and can’t wait to get to know better and add them to my list of people.

Oh, man. AND THEN.

I realized that the writer-in-residence who was there to teach us was pretty much the most incredible, knowledgeable, funny and wise writer (person?) I have ever met. I could have listened to him for hours and hours–and I did! We workshopped together, the 10 of us plus him, and we laughed and contemplated and said and thought brave things.

I spent half the time wishing I could transport myself back in time and go get my MFA in Tuscaloosa, Alabama so that he could be my professor. Or be a super-wise grown-up and be invited to dinner parties by him and his wife (He brought his wife along with him, she’s a poet, I wanted to be her best friend and have her in my book club). And then I just kept thinking if I couldn’t do that, maybe he could be like my cool uncle or wise-mentor-friend that you can call up when you’re totally lost.

His name is Michael Martone. You should definitely go buy his newest book, especially if you love essays or if you’re by chance from Fort Wayne, Indiana. But really, just go look at his picture and you’ll immediately know why I became an instant fan. You can tell the second you meet him how wise he is about the world, and in his eyes see that he’s been through some things, but lived to tell the tale. He brought me into the literary world, a dreamy place full of academics, but also full of drama and passion and maybe even pain and anger. These are the kinds of artists we need.

The world of art–writers and musicians, painters, sculptors, etc–is so necessary. And yet, we don’t value it enough. We steal music or listen to it on YouTube. We don’t buy books because they cost so much, yet we’ll pay $7 for a fancy coffee or ice cream.

I’ve never been more convinced that I am in the exact right place that I’m supposed to be. That I am a mama and a teacher, but I am also a writer. Why? Because I SAY SO.  Because I am addicted to the feeling of someone I’ve never met listening to me read my work and seeing tears well in their eyes, or getting an email from someone who says, “You just make me laugh so hard-every night I get home and I check for your posts.”

I’m not making any money doing this. Royalties off my book sales are small, and that’s it. I don’t get paid for anything else-but I continue to do the work because it’s not work for me. For me, it’s love (and, by the way, doesn’t really feel like work).

I so hope that you find the thing that brings you so much joy. If it’s not your day job, don’t worry–you’ve always got the night. 🙂 Don’t be afraid, yo. Go for it. Join that club. Take that class. Save your money for that trip.

XO

Christy

P.S. I got to read a passage from Almost a Mother…RIGHT in front of him. For real. Insane.