My Other Ex : A Book Review



Once upon a time I had a very good girlfriend.  A best friend. She was the better, best parts of me and fortunately I’d met her at a time in my life when I was open to a deep solid friendship with a woman.

And we are led to those
Who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return

She taught me many things, not the least of which was how to care for another human being. How to make family from a friend. She changed me in every way that matters.

But we stumbled, this woman and I, and before I knew it she was gone from my life. In the past I had not deeply mourned a lost friendship but this was different, she was different and I missed her like a lover. Songs, books, movies and even certain words reminded me of her and I felt unlovable in the wake of our demise.

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind of the sea
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

For months I would reach out and beg forgiveness for things I wasn’t sure I did, I would ask mutual friends about her, I would cry myself to sleep replaying those last conversations, searching for the reason that led to our breakup.

I was devastated and said things that I  now have a heart full of regret about.

There is a new book on the shelves right now called “My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friendships” and I have many women I call friends telling their stories between the cover of this beautiful anthology. (So proud of the voices of these incredible women).

I received a copy of the book to read and I found myself skipping around from one story to the next, reading about how these women had lost a friend like I had and how their breakup had affected their past, present and future. I knew that my story could be nestled in between any of the ones I was reading because it was all relatable. It didn’t lessen the hurt of the loss but I did feel comfort in knowing that it was something that happened to other people.

Our female friends make us who we are.

A few years after this friend and I broke up  my husband and I went to see WICKED on Broadway. As the show is coming to an end and Elphaba and Glinda are realizing that their friendship might be past it’s expiration date they sing a song that will forever remind me of my long lost friend.

From the act of asking for and giving forgiveness:

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I’ve done you’ve blamed me for
But then, I guess
We know there’s blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore

To the acceptance of things you can’t change  and appreciation for the time you’ve shared:

It well may be
That we may never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learn from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend

To the realization that all you’ve been through changes you…for good.

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better
Because I knew you
I have been changed
For good.

My friend and I have reconnected and while it is nothing like it used to be, it is nice to have her in my life in any capacity. I am always thankful for the things she taught me, the love she gave me and the person she inspired me to be.

You can get your copy of this truly wonderful book here (or click the book!) 





Do you have a friend you’ve lost and miss? Tell me your story in the comments. 

(and here are the lyrics/music to “For Good”)

* Disclaimer: I received a copy of My Other Book for the purpose of reviewing it but all comments, thoughts and words about this really beautiful anthology are my own. *

Rare Bird: A Review

Love and loss are forever entwined. 

Some say we can’t know great joy or gratitude until we’ve experienced heartbreaking loss and I’m inclined to believe them. You can’t know how much something means to you until it has become part of your life and your story and then been taken away. 

Rare Bird is, at the heart of it, the story of a family; a normal, average and yet spectacularly extraordinary family who lose their beloved twelve year old son Jack to a terrifying accident on the banks of a creek behind their home. 

Donaldson, with a strength and faith you will feel fill your heart, shares the heartbreaking knowledge that the unthinkable can happen to any one of us at anytime. And within her story are the layers of disbelief, grief, anger and a suspension of the faith you’d expect from a mother who has lost her child too soon.

I read this book in the months after my own brother died suddenly at the age of thirty-four. We had been an ordinary family too as that  day in December 2013 dawned and yet as the clocked ticked closer to midnight, I was in another state, holding the hand of my baby brother as we talked about taking him off life support. 

Jack: gone too soon.

Benjamin: gone too soon.

There were times when I needed to set the book aside and other times I desperately needed Anna’s words and wisdom to help me process my own grief and to come to an understanding of what my mother must surely be feeling. For while I wanted to empathize with both my mother and Anna but then the selfish and scared part of my heart took over and I couldn’t bear the mere thought of a life without my sons in it.

Until I remembered that both of these women I thought so much of had indeed lost their sons all too soon.

I owed them, if nothing else,  empathy and care and a chance to share their story.

There is honesty in this book. There are the answers to the question you expect.

“How do you go on?”

Slowly, painfully, with your faith battered and revived in between the spaces of every moment between each aching breath.

There is no easy way to navigate grief. For better or worse in addition to caring for yourself you also must care for the family you mother and the community surrounding you. Sure, you might laugh at the wrong time or find yourself so angry at the unfairness of your loss that you hardly recognize yourself or your own place in the world anymore but remember, you are human, allow yourself to be. 

I learned that within the grief of  an unexpected death, was the truth that every day  could pose a potential hazard. Every drawer you pull  open, every picture inadvertently brought up as you look for another one, every small insignificant  moment for the world at large can be the doorway to memories that will bring you to your knees.

Anna does not shy away from those moments, instead she writes them with a grace that amazed and buoyed my own spirits with every sentence.

Anna’s story gave me hope for my own.

Her words let me know it was okay to take my time in finding my way around the lump in my throat and the empty space in my heart. It became an integral part of my healing in those first few months and is still a book I reach for when I feel my faith is waning.

There are moments of pure clarity in this book, other moments of pure unbridled pain and yet the small threads of love and care seem to be sewn into every page offering you a glimpse of life after death for the ones left behind. 

Anna’s voice is what carries you through, strong, eloquent and honest. She allows us to see not only the pain but the purpose in her loss. Her storytelling detailing the little things and the private moments is what makes it possible to not collapse under the empathy it is impossible not to feel. 

Love and loss placed aptly on the cover, it is a beautiful, tender and moving memoir. You will close its pages changed, moved and forever grateful for Donaldson’s words. 

I hope  you read this book.

Then, I hope you share it with other people.

I hope Anna always knows how much her story has touched so many lives, especially mine.

Love to you my friend.



I Want To Tell The Stories

This morning the rain started as soon as we pulled out of the garage. Then once we hit the highway the sky was still dark, as if it was still night and not early morning, and the rain began to smack the windshield; banging against the glass.

I tried to ignore it and the cars flying by us, their speeds in no way indicative of the hazards that water and blacktop could imagine if not taken seriously. I closed my eyes and attempted sleep and then I opened them again to check my phone in the wake of feeling guilty that I was not taking full advantage of the extra twenty-five minutes the phone app had added to our trip. But even that proved fruitless. My brain and body were tired. Social media would only add to that kind of exhaustion.

So I hoisted my tablet into my lap and typed out the password offering me passage into my latest read. My eyes focused and within a minute I was immersed before I knew it, lost among the characters and their lives.

One reason I love television is related to this. I enjoy getting caught up in someone else’s life, their narrative. I don’t watch reality TV, instead I am slave to the scripted drama and my DVR is full of hour after hour of well written and acted shows that take a peek into a plethora of emotions, relationships and idiosyncrasies.

I have so many stories swirling in my head lately. Some are purely fiction and they fight with nap time and homework time, soccer time and DVR time for the right to haul me over to the computer to express themselves.

But then there are the tales of my own life, the memoirs begging to be told. The stories, that when I am in company and spinning those yarns, hold my audience captive; hanging onto my words, tears springing to their eyes.

They are in.

And I feel strength and weakness all at once.

The stories in the wake of losing Ben are powerful things, they push and poke at me to write them down and share them.

Some of the stories are not mine to tell, they are, instead, like bowls of accompaniments passed down the table from one person to other until they end up on my plate sitting under my fork. And because of that they might be cold or just different by the time they found my mouth.

Yet, there are too many to ignore. Some bordering on the religious and others firmly planted in the simple, sacred world of perhaps it’s just coincidence that are shouting for their time.

So I’ve decided to tell them.

One by one, story by interlinking story, until they no longer sit only on my tongue but inside the hearts of the people who read them.


My amazing friends Mel and Michele (The Ketchup With Us Gals) are putting the top on their bottle and their link for a little while. But before they go they wanted us to link up, tell a story, admit we’re going to miss them and their outfits (I will!).

Starting next week I am going to share a story a week for four weeks about the amazing things that have happened since we lost Ben. Extraordinary and special things, comforting and peaceful and at times, even funny things.

I want to tell the stories.

A Family Mantra (Scary Mommy)

As a writer you have dreams.

One of my dreams has been to have my words featured on Scary Mommy. When I received the email giving me the news that one of my pieces had been chosen to appear on the site I will admit to cracking a very teary smile of disbelief.

Be Kind. Be Smart. Believe. is a story of how a night of frustration turned into our family’s mantra, of how I learned words whispered in the dark as I kissed my sons goodbye every morning could became a way for our family to try to live.

Come over and share your own family mantras with me. Even on the days when there is more frustration, yelling and disappointments in my parenting than I care to admit, I remember that tomorrow is another day and it can start with words of intelligence, creativity, humanness and magic.


Scary Mommy


Love is Love (Guest Posting on BonBonBreak)

blog same-sex-marriage

If you spend enough time here in the corner you know that I believe in LOVE.

The big, hopeless, romantic, grand-gesture-in-spite-of- what -other-people think, knows no-race- creed- or- gender kind of LOVE.

In my lifetime I have loved and been loved, had my heart broken (broken more than a few of my own)  and healed by a variety of boys who grew into amazing men.

Love comes in every flavor. It changes and changes you.

I’m so honored (humbled)to be guest posting at Bon Bon Break today to  tell you the story of seven men in my life who taught me the most incredible and important lessons about love and became the reasons for my support (now and forever) of same-sex marriage.

I’d love to have you visit today:

7 Reasons I Will Always Support Same-Sex Marriage 

Thank you to Val and Kristin for your help and support of this piece.

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The Summer of ’14 (Twisted MixTape)

The Summer Mix for Twisted Mix Tape is Here.

“If my summer had a soundtrack…” 

Jen is back and hosting a link up once a month. Perfect.


My summer begins and ends every year with “Silly Love Songs”

Everyone who knows me, truly and deep down, knows this is the song that sends my mind and memories to warm, sunny, summer places.

My very own little “Boys of Summer”

August2014GioandJacobinBlueatBoatHouse August2014GioandJacobattheBeach

We walked the boardwalks, had sand coat our toes and splashed in the waves, chlorine pools and spring-fed lakes. We drank colorful cocktails, felt the sting of summer on our skin, held impromptu dance parties and wished every day would last just a little longer.


I fell in love with Alt Nation on Sirius Radio this summer and found these two songs

(truth? I found about 100 songs but there are limits to the TMT *wink*) :

They remind me of Fitz and the Tantrums (and I love them!)

Because my mom and dad are soon moving to Savannah, Georgia our family did a lot of clearing, packing thinking about, missing Ben and of course:

and didn’t everyone fall in love with this song

(and Justin Timberlake. again.) this summer?

(oh, just me?) I kitchen danced every single time.

I  admit that the news and world stage the past few months had me sad, contemplative and wishing for more peace…which led me back to an old favorite song :

As the summer waned and whispered its goodbyes I wanted to hold its hand a little longer and whisper in return:

Thanks for bringing TMT back Jen…see you in October!

My Skewed View

Thank You For Choosing Me

11 years.

Our Steel and Jewelry Anniversary.

It doesn’t sound as romantic as our golden or silver for sure, but steel is powerful and strong.

If you heat it up, it bends and shifts. If it’s cold it refuses to break.

Just like us.

John & Kir


Who knew that on that day you kissed me in the park in 2001 that 2014 would be here so quickly?

Who could have predicted the ups and downs of our path together?

(deaths,  beautiful vacations, infertility, positive pregnancy tests,  a harrowing pregnancy, TWINS!, daycare, debt, NYC, Cape May, laughter and lots and lots of LOVE)

Who won the bet made on how long we’d last? 

2001 (we look so young!)



Engaged 2002


 2003 -you married me! XO




HoneymoonKir&John HoneymoonJohn&KiratCarlosandCharlies




2008 (we added Giovanni & Jacob to our family) 


























Our whole life together in pictures.

Thank you for choosing me 11 years ago and everyday after that.

I love you so.


(one of our favorite movies and one of my best memories of holding your hand laughing, crying, sharing was seeing LOVE ACTUALLY with you…all those years ago…)

God only knows what I’d be without you Mr. Piccini xo


Summer Bloggin’ (Old School Blogging)




What was your favorite thing you did alone this summer?


I read a lot of books. More than I have in many years and although that is only thing I am doing alone these days, it’s one of my favorite things.

So win/win.

What was your favorite thing you did as a family this summer?

I think it’s been all the talking.

Because Giovanni and Jacob are growing, they are also becoming articulate (as much as 6 year olds can be). I love talking to them about life, death, acting, rummy and how humans act.


The other thing I’ve loved as a family is getting to know other families. Most specifically our new friends The Kelly’s. Our time spent with them, laughing, talking, parenting has made some of my favorite summer memories this year.


And of course I’ve loved all our time with my Mom and George before they move to Georgia. I feel so blessed to be able to spend time with the people I love the most.


What books did you read this summer?


The Husband’s Secret

What Alice Forget

The Marriage at the Rue Morgue

To Live Forever: The Afterlife of Meriwether Lewis


The Fault in our Stars

Threads of Love

Like No Other (just started)

The Goldfinch

Love Life (Rob Lowe) 


(more in the TBR pile too…which makes me happy)

What do you WISH you had done this summer?

Read even more and written more. I also wish I had sat in the sun when I had the chances and just daydreamed more often.

What movies did you see this summer (if any)?

We did see Maleificient in the theatre and Rio 2 (a hundred times) at home. Nothing else, we simply didn’t have time, but that was fine with me.

Where did you travel this summer?

The Jersey Shore and the 2 miles to the Community pool, but those places make me very happy.


What was your favorite treat (as in dessert) this summer?

Ooh, I rediscovered the Choco Taco.

I am not a huge fan of ice cream but every once in a while I like to have a little waffle cone, a little crunchy chocolate and vanilla ice cream made to look like a taco.

Other than that, our grocery store has started teasing and tempting me with individual cupcakes on a table at the front of the store.

I have fallen in love with their Banana Cream Cupcakes. YUM.

What did you celebrate this summer?

Kindergarten graduations!



Our niece Amanda’s HS graduation and acceptance to Ohio State.


Our niece Victoria’s place on the dean’s list at PSU!

And my mom and George bought a house in Savannah Georgia. (More on that later)


Did you grow anything this summer?

Are you effing kidding me?

Grow things?


(Oh you’re serious?  Sorry. ;) )

Nope. Not in the traditional sense but I think I am “growing a backbone” these days. (Not a bad thing!)

What is a favorite post (if you blog) that you wrote this Summer?

I had a few:

But this week I had two I’m so proud of hitting publish on:

The Thing You Never Knew 

Marriage Material (on Mommy-Miracles #writingvows series)

About how “Once Upon a Time…” took me a little longer than most people.

and this one from earlier this summer:

My Mother’s Child 

A guest post at The Writer Revived about my relationship with my mom in this moment.

What is a favorite photograph that you took this summer?

This one…on the 4th of July. As one Facebook friend said:
I see their grown up faces in this picture. I see them in college!”


And so do I. This picture, more than most, captures the mischief in Jacob’s eyes and the brotherly berth Gio normally gives him.

I love this shot, I love these boys.

Here’s another one that makes me smile: Mommy’s boys. 

What do you want to do next summer?

Well outside of hoping we’ve won the lottery by then and are vacationing near George Clooney on Lake Como?

We are all looking forward to (and sobbing sometimes too) my parent’s move to Georgia.


I hope to spend time in Savannah next summer, hugging my mom and getting to know her new home state.

Like this place:

Belford's Savannah, GA

Elaine, thank you for bringing back OLD SCHOOL BLOGGING.

I really love sharing my answers and reading the other bloggers.

You can follow on Twitter or add your link with the hashtag: #OSBlog 

HAPPY SUMMER! (enjoy every moment my friends!! XO)



A Designer Marriage

Later this month John and I will celebrate eleven years of marriage. OurWeddingTheLaugh2012 It’s hard to believe all the things that have happened in the time since we met and even harder to believe that I ever got married at all.

If you’d ask me early in life if I wanted to be someone’s wife I would have said Yes but looking back what I really meant was “I’m not really sure.

Because I wasn’t.

I believed in love and lust, I craved attention and company, I dreamt of romance and shared finances but marriage?

I wasn’t exactly what you’d call marriage material...

…and then I met John. Kir&JohnJay&DianeWeddingJuly2010 John&KirTHKS3Nov2009 I’m over at my dear friend Laura’s place today to talk about my past, my present and my pledge to a new kind of relationship for her #WritingVows series.

(You should  also check out the other posts by some pretty incredible writers: I promise you’ll never look at marriage, love and commitment the same again. )

I’d love to have you visit and read all about my designer marriage. OurWeddingDance&Kiss2




The Thing You Never Knew

You’re not going to believe me when I tell you but last summer I wanted to die.

I didn’t have a plan or attempt it at any time but a small, unreasonable piece of me thought this world would be better off if I was gone.

The feelings I was having last year in the middle of my favorite season were crude and disruptive. They made it hard to sleep or smile. But I did, I smiled even as the voices inside my head told me how unworthy I was, what a horrible person I had turned out to be and there was no quieting them. I would cry into my pillow, I would sit on the couch and watch the world go by. I would dream of my funeral and wonder if anyone would miss me, if anyone would even bother to show up.

I was disheartened and depressed.

Not sad.

Sadness had come and gone and left a lousy house-guest sitting in the middle of my chest that said awful things to me, ruined my furniture and self esteem and made itself at home in the deep corners of my mind.

I was down in the mire and fought every day to claw my way to the top of the pile, to laugh with other people and hide the darkness that threatened to engulf me.

And some days were okay and livable and some days were not but like so many of us are sharing our feelings after the news of the suicide of Robin Williams,I was ashamed of my sadness.

After all I was everyone’s cheerleader and unconditional supporter and I felt like I had no right to be upset or sad, or even if I did, I needed to get over it and move on with my life. Our society has no room for rumination or regrets that swallow us whole.

So I played the part I have perfected, that of consoler, bridge builder and optimist,  never letting on how much I was hurting.

I had felt this way before, most recently during the four hellish years of our infertility. I learned to force smiles, bury pain and fake my way through the days. But once the boys were born and I narrowly escaped PPD I truly believed I had no right to have bad days.

I was lucky.

Even after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and complex migraines I knew I was lucky to have healthy, happy children and a diagnosis where my disease wasn’t debilitating.

So lucky. 

I had a husband who loved me, the sons I had prayed for and family/friends/ villages who reminded me often how much I meant to them. I was working in a time when so many other people had lost their jobs and I had a home, a car and a very cute dog.

Can you hear those voices?

“You have nothing to be unhappy about.”

So I sank deeper into the pit because now I was obviously ungrateful.

“Don’t you know how lucky you are?” 

I hated myself and I hated feeling so helpless in my quest to change my thinking.

The only person who heard this secret  was my husband last autumn and after the fact when I  believed I was past the worst of it and had changed my medication, somewhat settled my mind and put one foot on the path to self forgiveness.

And then Ben died.

Ben, who was bright and talented but who had his own demons; my baby brother who had battled against the bottle and the sweet sirens of drugs in his young life, Ben who had been spiraling, sad and we didn’t know.

So bad genetics and depression took him away from us and I waited, again, for it to find me.

But I also knew I needed to take care of my family who were reeling from his devastating death. I needed to keep watch over my mom who had now lost a child and my sister, my mind still haunted by her own failed attempt to leave this world decades ago.

We were lucky to be alive, lucky to be survivors. 

Once again I reminded myself there was no time or reason to be sad.

And yet I was, because even the sadness was genetic.

It started slowly, an anxious moment here or a mild panic attack there until I felt myself slipping backwards into the darkness.

It is an endless battle.

Day by day, I fight against the constant ache of my fibro; a slight headache always threatening to become fierce and the stress of everyday living, to be better.

I have bad moods and selfish moments  and crying jags that leave me breathless but (thank God) I haven’t thought about dying once.

I’m lucky 

Instead I try…

To see the good.

To know there is no easy way out.

To be a wife to John, a mommy to Giovanni and Jacob, a sister and a daughter, a friend, a flawed but happy human being.

I am taking my medication.

I practice gratefulness in every way I can.

I reach out when I need to, I say the words “I’m not okay” and I allow people to help me.

Because there is no coming back, there is no alternative or plan B if I don’t.


Pouring my Heart Out with my amazing friend Shell. 
Please don’t suffer in silence or believe you are alone.

You’re not.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

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