Freedom isn’t free, but Tom Brady is

I don’t even care if it’s heresy; I’m sick and tired of seeing all the “FREE TOM BRADY” posts, t-shirts, and signs. Sure, I live deep in the heart of Patriots Nation, and he’s as beloved a football icon as they’ve had up here for years–but this is beyond ridiculous. Let’s set aside whether or not he tampered with footballs (it sounds like he did), and let’s also set aside whether or not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was just grinding an ax by shelving the Pats’ star quarterback (it sounds like he was). I’m even willing to set aside the fact that Goodell seemed more determined to discipline Brady than the players who’ve been accused of domestic violence. Or murder. *cough*

Let’s talk instead about the notion of “FREE TOM BRADY” as a concept.

Point of fact: Tom Brady is already free.

He’s not subject to any jail time for his supposed tampering. He wasn’t even put on house arrest. In no way, shape, or form, was Brady restricted from going wherever he wants–except on the field of play for the first four games of the 2016-2017 regular season. Given that he doesn’t set the lineup, that could have happened regardless of the outcome of any decision by the NFL. It still doesn’t mean he isn’t free.

The only way in which one could reasonably argue that Tom Brady’s not “free” is in another context, entirely–in that Brady has several lucrative endorsement and modeling deals in addition to his income from the New England Patriots. So, if by “FREE TOM BRADY”, these folks feel he should offer his services gratis, I’m sure there are plenty of companies willing to step forward to get some pix pro bono. The laughable part of this CNBC article is that it whines about how he only makes $7 million per year in endorsements. This is not a man who’s suffering. Okay, maybe he’ll have to use something other than organic avocados in his ice cream, but somehow HE WILL SURVIVE. (Perhaps by selling his $200 cookbook.)

Move along, Brady acolytes. If you want to rally behind a cause, there are loads of them that actually involve saving people from real harm and injustice. In the grand scheme of all the inequalities people face in the world, decrying the loss of “freedom” by a multi-millionaire who’s not under lock and key–nor even a warrant that threatens his physical movement–is inane. How about buying his non-returnable $200 cookbook “nutrition manual”? Oh wait, it’s already sold out. There. Now you have a legitimate complaint.

My BlogHer’16 Plus/Delta: My 5 x 2 round-up

YesNoFilms, Slap Dash Mom, and lil' old me

Since this was my fourth BlogHer conference, I came with some built-in expectations. Based on my experiences at BlogHer in 2012, 2014, and 2015, I figured it would excel in some areas (parties) and come up short in others (sessions). At this point, attending BlogHer is more a glorified (and somewhat expensive) girls weekend with my blogger girlfriends. The plus/delta below is MY opinion of this year’s event (plus is what worked well; delta–a symbol for change–represents opportunities for improvement).



Girl time can be SO therapeutic. In 2014, I was lucky enough to meet some amazing women who became the tribe I wanted to see at least annually; it’s brilliant to have time with them. We live all over the country–some on each coast and a few in-between…but when we get together, we laugh and giggle and play and have serious conversations as though no time has passed at all between meet-ups. Bless everyone who keeps Facebook alive, as that’s a lot of how we keep in touch during the in-between times.

Me with LaughTeachLove

Me with LaughTeachLove, trying out some flavors from Baskin Robbins. You know, *for science*.

I was reminded that I’m not alone in having invisible illnesses. At Teva Pharmaceuticals’ #MoreToMigraine breakfast, there came a point where the moderator (a TV news reporter who suffers from migraines) asked how many of us also get them. Between two-thirds and three-fourths of the hands shot up instantly. At that moment, we all realized that we’re not alone. I get weather-related pressure migraines and, between migraines, perimenopause, and IBS, I often feel like I’m uniquely broken. It turns out many suffer from various unseen ailments–and this breakfast reminded me we can share with, learn from, support, and comfort each other.

I’m getting more comfortable saying no. I’m always willing to consider some form of work with brands or sponsors, but this blog isn’t my sole source of income. That gives me vast freedom to say no to things I’m not interested in or that I don’t feel would be a good fit. I assume the brands appreciate that as well–since I’m not wasting their time, either.

My friends got to show other people just how awesome they are. Whether it was Merlot Mommy giving an off-the-cuff social media tutorial or Slap Dash Mom explaining the virtues of a Virtual Assistant, my awesome besties were making their prowess evident. Special mention goes to Passion by Kait, who enraptured our table at the Lamps Plus lunch with her extensive knowledge of sex toy safety. (She was the playful one who brought a vulva puppet to the conference.)

Several of the conference sponsors and brands that orbited the event were generous in remarkably sweet ways. Of course, when a brand gets involved with an event like BlogHer, one expects some swag to get your attention. Winner for Actual Sweetest Gift goes to Russell Stover, who filled our rooms with chocolate on the first night, but the Figurative Sweetest Gift came from Staples–who gave each of their breakfast attendees school supplies, $50 in Staples gift cards, and a gift card to, to help us fund teachers’ classroom projects across the country.

Poster of Katy Perry, announcing Staples' commitment to donate $1 million to classroom projects

At their breakfast, Staples told us that they’re donating $1 million to DonorsChoose to support projects at classrooms across the United States.



Yet again, the *sessions* were disappointing. I bought the “Networking” pass last year (good for the Expo and Sponsored Events/Parties), but I nabbed the Super Early-Bird priced full conference pass this year because it was only $50 more than the Networking one. At that point, I figured, I could attend some sessions, keynotes, or meals and still save money. When the full agenda came out, I couldn’t find one session I was desperate to attend; they were typically on topics that didn’t interest me or that were too rudimentary. The keynotes held more promise, but competing sponsor events were more interesting; celebrities aren’t more of a draw for me than a well-seasoned blogger.

McDonald's Social Media Manager, Head Chef, and VP of North American Supply Chain

McDonald’s Social Media Manager, Head Chef, and VP of North American Supply Chain–talking about how they’re improving their menu items.

Kim Kardashian. Really?! Come ON, BlogHer. Looking to stir up some controversy, they booked Kim Kardashian to do a keynote. Would the Princess of Self-Promotion discuss proper lighting for the perfect nude selfie? If her relevance is rooted in her ability to garner attention, I would rather hear from her TEAM. She has people who make sure every image she projects is targeted for maximum impact. That team should’ve been on stage instead, although that might’ve been too much fourth-wall breaking–even for a Kardashian.

The Expo was weaker than usual–and smaller, too. While some of the sponsors were clearly excited to engage with bloggers and talk with them about products and opportunities to work together, some were there just to collect cards without actually talking to anyone. In at least two cases, my friends were met with silent treatment at booths by brand reps that simply stood there and hoped the Expo would close already.

The JW Marriott LA Live does NOT know how to manage a large conference. Guest rooms themselves were wonderful–posh, well-appointed, well-maintained, and managed by a housekeeping team that was incredibly thoughtful. The events managers…not so much. Poor buffet line management caused massive backups at lunchtime, poor signage incorrectly blocked open hallways, and the business center was woefully unprepared for the onslaught of people needing boxes to ship items home on BlogHer’s last day. The conference/event management just didn’t live up to the JW Marriott name.

The capstone Closing Party was weaksauce. While the last couple of parties (financed by perennial BlogHer sponsor, McDonald’s) had star DJ’s like Reverend Run and Nick Cannon, this year we got…a 13-year-old. I don’t care that he DJ’ed for President Clinton. With few exceptions, what we heard from him made it clear he’s got potential to be a great Corporate End-of-Quarter Party DJ someday. My friends, who enjoyed prior years’ open bars, were dismayed to get only one drink ticket each, redeemable for an unsatisfying, mediocre, somewhat alcoholic beverage. Thankfully, we had a full dinner before we arrived at the party; those who relied on the event’s passed appetizers found the amuse bouche portions sans amusement.

LaughTeachLove, me, and Merlot Mommy

The one part of the closing party that DID work for me: being with LaughTeachLove and Merlot Mommy.


Verdict: I had a great time seeing my girlfriends, meeting with some new brands, seeing some parts of LA I hadn’t known about, and learning some tidbits here and there. Will I go to BlogHer17? Hmm. I don’t know. Many of my friends–who rely heavily on their blogging income–loved the girl time but can’t necessarily afford to do these long weekends just for that. If the tribe prefers a different event next year, I’ll likely float on the tide with my friends. I know that BlogHer is going through merging pains from the SheKnows takeover, and it’s visible–or so says the 12-time BlogHer veteran with whom I shared a cab to LAX. Even that longtime attendee–who had been to EVERY BlogHer–wasn’t sure she’d return next year. That, my friends, is what you call a bellwether. So we’ll see if BlogHer 2017 makes it onto my trip list. In the meantime, I’ll just bask in the glow of time well spent with my friends and get started on that pile of laundry. I’ve got some unpacking to do…

The future is now: Why THIS Bernie Sanders voter is choosing Hillary Clinton

Vote November 8, 2016

image credit:

I have a degree in Political Science, and I remember really loving politics. I used to watch “Meet the Press” with a ton of enjoyment, and I reveled in knowing what was going on inside the Beltway. Lately…not so much.

More and more, it seems like a lot of what’s going on is our descent into some random circle of Hell that even Dante couldn’t have dreamed up. Opinions vary wildly about the state of the economy, although some numbers in 2016 are far better than they were in 2008…and some not as much.

For example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is almost 50% higher than it was in 2008, and inflation is only one-quarter of what it was back in 2008. On the other hand, college tuition costs are still experiencing double-digit increases and I don’t know ANYONE who’s gotten a raise to match that.

When it came time for the primaries, I decided to vote for Bernie Sanders even though The Bern and I don’t see eye to eye on everything (such as guns, where he’s pro-gun and I’m *not*). Still, I took exception to Hillary Clinton using a private email server when all reason and logic–not to mention Federal regulations–should have kept her from doing so. Being a Clinton is not excuse enough for a “get out of following the rules” card, or at least it shouldn’t be.

But I guessed when I cast my primary ballot that the most likely event was a primary vote for Bernie and a general election vote for Hillary. And thus, this is what will come to pass.

For, you see, I cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump. He is the horrific funhouse mirror distortion of our country, a walking poster child for the loud-talking, unapologetically ignorant ‘Murica that many of us nervously joke about when we see knee-jerk jingoism that doesn’t represent us.

At the gateway to New York Harbor stands proudly a gift from the French, a handsome lady clad in a toga, holding aloft a torch–a beacon of hope for those who passed by her from distant shores. The inscription at her feet partly reads:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who treats our military veterans and our Gold Star families with scorn and derision.

I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who treats women as if they’re either playthings or vile creatures–in neither case deserving of respectful treatment.

I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who believes that banning entire groups of people, specifically those from other countries or of a religion to which he does not subscribe, is the answer to ANY question or problem we have.

So, why vote FOR Hillary?

Bill Clinton wasn’t perfect (“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” being a prime example of a WRONG TURN), but the Clinton years weren’t a complete dystopian nightmare as some would have us all believe. And Hillary is NOT her husband. Like Bill, she is a smart, well-educated person–although, unlike Bill, she’s got experience in two of our three branches of government. Her years as a Senator for New York give her an understanding of how the government works on multiple levels, like playing three-dimensional chess. It’s unclear her major opponent can play more than checkers, and if he lost he’d claim there was cheating involved.

I’m voting FOR Hillary because I know that she’s pro-Woman. Not pro in the sense that she’s a man-hater, but pro in that she doesn’t believe women are less than men. Equal. She believes in equality.

I’m voting FOR Hillary because she believes that our diversity makes us stronger, not weaker–meaning that the answer to the problems of illegal immigration can’t be solved with some towering wall that would be better seen with hallucinogens than concrete: they’re far cheaper and just as effective at solving our current immigration situation.

I’m voting FOR Hillary because she has experience in dealing respectfully with the outside world (and other people INSIDE our country). She doesn’t bark at people to the level where you wonder if her volume button is broken.

I’m voting FOR Hillary because she will make reasoned, rational decisions. Does she always make the right ones? No. (Note the aforementioned email server.) However, she lives her life and conducts herself on a far more even keel than her opponent–although admittedly that’s not a high bar. One could stumble around singing death metal songs in an intensive care ward while knocking out every electrical cord from the wall and still do less damage and harm to those around them than her opponent does every time he opens his Twitter app.

And yes, there are third parties out there–but none of their pairings are either impressive or truly viable on the national stage, and we don’t have a parliamentary system that would go for a coalition government.

It’s time to choose sides: America or ‘Murica. A way forward, or a grand leap back into the Stone Age. Inclusiveness or xenophobia. Reason or rage.

For all of these reasons and more, I choose Hillary.

Oh, and one other thing: if Hillary wins, it won’t be because the election was rigged. Crying foul this early in the process is only the whining of a brat afraid of losing when he knows he’s unfit to win. Perhaps he’s missing out on the lowest common denominator in all of his failed businesses, failed marriages, and failed attempts to win over voters: himself.