Mary, Author at Stratejoy


Photo on 2010-06-27 at 13.11 #2

I’ve never been good with goodbyes.

My mom used to laugh at me because I would always cry on the last day of school. Even when I know the goodbye is happy or for the best, I still get sad. Life tricks you by feeling like it’s going by too slowly, when suddenly, you realize it’s actually gone by too quickly.

That’s kind of how I feel about saying goodbye to you fine friends. I know that these five months of blogging and reflection have played an important role in my personal growth, but now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and do something with it. I’m done talking about the things I should do – it’s time to actually do them.

I’ve never been the best about writing down my feelings, but during this process, I’ve learned that it’s probably something I should do much more often. I used to go to a therapist to talk things out, but in blogging for Stratejoy, I’ve realized I probably could have saved a lot of money by writing in a journal instead. My head is such a jumble of thoughts and confusion, that just writing everything down made it a lot more clear for me.

Moving forward, I’m thinking of finally starting my own blog. I think it will be good for me to continue writing like this and I also think it will be a huge test for me since I am the queen of not finishing what I start. It will almost definitely be a weight loss blog, so if I really start one, please promise to read it. PINKY SWEAR.

And finally, I’d like to thank YOU for being a friend (sing that line like the Golden Girls theme song, please). Every person who has read my blogs and commented on them – thank you. It has meant more to me that you will ever know. When I posted my blog about losing weight, the amount of comments I received was staggering. Struggling with weight can feel very lonely, and to see that so many of you have similar issues and fears was extremely comforting. Your advice and words of encouragement were amazing.

Also, thank you to my fellow Season 7 bloggers, Katie and, of course, Molly. I was beyond excited when I got that call from Molly to tell me I had been selected as a blogger and I’m still kind of pinching myself right now. I became emotionally invested in the lives of the girls I was blogging with – Hillary, Amanda, Nicole, Erin and Clare. I loved when I would see so much of myself in their stories, as well as learning completely new and interesting things about the way they were living their lives. Y’all are amazing women and I’m so glad we got to be a part of this crazy whirlwind together!

Another aspect of goodbyes I’ve never been good with? Wrapping things up in a beautiful, succinct conclusion. In college, I would write wonderful papers and then shit the bed when it was time to write the conclusion. So, with that in mind, I will say goodbye in the most appropriate way that my teeny bopper brain sees fit:

“Bye, bye, bye” – *NSYNC





A Note from Katie: Miss Mary Mack! Other than having the absolute best name, like, ever, I’ve loved your Monday posts. They get me laughing, almost each and every single time. I can tell you as a therapy going, journal writing girl, that yes, getting the feelings out rather than keeping them in is super therapeutic. I’m relatively certain that if you were closer to me, we’d be IRL BFFs, but for now, I hope you’ll stay in touch, keep doing HUGE AMAZING THINGS, and tackling your goals one by one. One of my favorite parts of Stratejoy Blogging is when our alumni come back and keep us posted on where they are. 6 months from now, I hope you’ll be right here, same place, different goals, same awesome YOU.



p.s.  The 3rd Stratejoy Essay Contest is open for entries!  Ready to win the $500?  Be featured here at Stratejoy?  Yes!  The theme: “How has a transition revealed a more authentic you?”

p.p.s.  The next Book Club/Tribe Chat Fest is going to be about marriage and partners.  Juicy, juicy. We’re reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Love Story and will be jamming about it on February 13.




Where do you see your self (or hope to be) 6 months from now? A year from now? 

I have no idea…and I kind of love that. I have spent so much time planning ahead that I’ve missed the life that was happening right in front of my eyes. I am, however, hoping that 6 months from now I will have a better grip on my weight. I really, really want to have a baby in the next year or two and I know that isn’t going to be possible if I don’t lose a substantial amount of weight.

What’s the best book you read this year? 

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling. I am obsessed with funny memoirs, and after reading every David Sedaris book 2 million times, I needed something new – Mindy fit the bill perfectly.

Do you feel like blogging about your life made you look at it differently?

Kind of. I’m the queen of making excuses for myself and it was made even more apparent to me in re-reading my blog posts. I seem to love talking about my issues, but when it all comes down to it, I don’t really do anything to fix them.

Which current living celebrity do you think you’d be best friends with in real life?

Kelly Clarkson! Every time I see her talk on TV, I turn to whoever I’m with and say “oh my gosh, we would be best friends. I just KNOW it.” I am not just saying this because I like her as a celebrity; I’m saying it because she seems like a cool person and she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Did anything happen during the season that surprised you? 

I was surprised by how supportive comments on my blogs could be. It’s scary to put yourself out there, especially to strangers, and when people would comment on my posts I was so happy.

What quote best summarizes what you’ve learned during the season?


What is your guilty pleasure? What is it that totally lights you up that you’re afraid to admit to? 

I am the queen of guilty pleasures, but I am loud and proud about them. Everyone likes “dumb” things that people are going to make fun of you for, so you can either own them, or deal with the embarrassment when someone finds out your secret. For example, I watch horrible TV shows. I watch Gossip Girl religiously, and after the series finale, I went to Netflix and watched the ENTIRE series all over again to see if I could find hints the writers dropped as to Gossip Girl’s identity.

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in yourself since we started blogging for Stratejoy? 

I am more at peace. When I first started, I had a lot of anxiety about anything and everything. I still have anxiety, but not nearly as much.

How did you fit blogging into your life? – Did you have a routine? Did it add joy or stress? Did you think about it over the week or just sit down and write? Etc

I was really bad about it! In true Mary fashion, I started strong and then I started procrastinating. I even missed a couple of weeks. After I was done writing I was really glad I did it, but it stressed me out leading up to it every week.

How did people you know react? – did you share it openly, were family and friends supportive, did you censor yourself, etc

When I was first selected as a blogger, I tried to tell some family and friends about it and I felt like they didn’t understand. They were just like “oh, wow. That’s great!” but I don’t think they really got what I was doing. I felt bad, because I never shared my posts on Facebook. I just have way too many friends on there and I couldn’t handle the thought of telling them my most personal business. I did post on Twitter sometimes because I don’t feel like I necessarily know those people as well – weird, right? I was more comfortable telling strangers about personal stuff than my own friends and family.

Did you dig as deep as you could and open up as much as you could?

I probably could have dug a little deeper, but I do feel like I went deeper than I thought I would. It felt good to get things off my chest and have the Stratejoy tribe be so non-judgmental.

When you’re curled up on the couch reading with a mug of something warm, what’s the book and what’s in the mug?

Well, definitely coffee. I think I drink a pot of coffee every day. And I’m probably not reading a book – US Weekly is more my speed.

What’s on your bedside table?

Every self help book ever written and a box of Kleenex. Also, four small pieces of chocolate that the Marriott put on my pillow when I went to Boston. I never ate them and now I leave them there because Andy likes to joke around and call them the butter packets (they look like butter).

What were you like in high school?  What parts of you have remained the same?

I feel like a freak when I say this, but I really liked high school. I was very focused on the things I loved, like theater, dance and friends. I thought about the future, but not so much that it was an all-consuming thing like it is now. I think my ability to get along with anyone has remained the same – I somehow avoided a clique and talked to everyone. I think everyone has something interesting to say, regardless of whether they are the “coolest” kid in class, or the silent guy in the back of the room.

Who are the top 5 people on your “list”?  (You know, the list…  Those 5 people you could sleep with if you magically met them and your partner would have to be okay with it, because damn! You just slept with Johnny Depp!)

I had a great list when I was younger, but I haven’t even thought about it lately! I think I’m going to go with 1) Justin Timberlake (forever and always) 2) Ed Westwick (as Chuck Bass. He’d have to wear the suit.) 3) Tom Brady 4) Jon Hamm 5) Aaron Pauls

If you could give yourself 5 months ago one piece of advice, what would it be? How about you 5 months from now?

To me 5 months ago: stop procrastinating! You could get so much more work done if you cut the shit.

To me 5 months from now: good job losing weight! Keep going.

In the movie of your life, which actress/celeb would play you?

This question is traumatizing to me because a high school boyfriend told me that Camryn Manheim would play me in a movie. I was also notified that I looked like Emme, the plus size model. That being said, and with so few overweight options to choose from, I’m going with Melissa McCarthy. She will definitely need to dye her hair blonde though, because blondes have more fun.


Happy Again

I have a confession to make: I didn’t finish my Holiday Council work.

I was really hoping to post about all of these breakthroughs I had and how organized and ready I was to tackle my goals, but yeah…it just didn’t happen. I did finish both the first and second weeks, but when it came time to put my money where my mouth is in week three, I bailed.

I kind of surprised myself, but one reason I stopped is because I realized that I’m a lot happier than I think I am. It’s so easy to think about all of the things I should or could do, but when it came down to putting my life on paper, I was strangely at peace with it. That’s not to say I don’t aspire to take an art class or see my good friends more often, but I feel like my “grass is always greener” mentality took a big chill pill this last year. I think this acceptance of how things are is a big step toward becoming who I want to be.

I’ve also never been the most organized person, so the idea of setting real, attainable goals made my head spin. I think my goal for next year’s Holiday Council will be to set goals. And maybe even follow through with them…who knows!



p.s.  The 3rd Stratejoy Essay Contest is open for entries!  Ready to win the $500?  Be featured here at Stratejoy?  Yes!  The theme: “How has a transition revealed a more authentic you?”

p.p.s.  The next Book Club/Tribe Chat Fest is going to be about marriage and partners.  Juicy, juicy. We’re reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Love Story and will be jamming about it on February 13.



Mary Christmas Eve

I’ve always kind of liked Christmas Eve more than Christmas. It just feels more…magical.

Even as an adult, I look out the window on Christmas Eve and secretly hope I will see Santa shoot across the sky.

There’s also the anticipation of Christmas morning, which is sometimes more exciting than the real thing.

I had the same tradition for 26 years. We’d go to Christmas Eve mass, arriving an hour and a half early just so we’d get a seat. From first grade until eighth grade, I sang in the children’s choir. [side note: I got a random text from a very old friend this week and all he said was, “Remember being in the kids choir until we were 19?”] We would go home and my grandma would meet us there for dinner, preferring the quiet of midnight mass later on rather than the rowdy children’s mass. After eating, my parents would let my brother and I each open one present. We’d leave some cookies out for Santa and then it was bed time.

If I woke up during the night and had to go the bathroom, I would refuse to get up in fear that I’d run into Santa. The only thing I feared more than running into Santa was running into the Easter Bunny (seriously, a giant bunny in my house. Scariest ever.)

A few years ago when I got engaged, Andy and I decided to start doing Christmas together. That meant compromise (yikes). His family does almost all of their gifts and celebrating on Christmas Eve, so it was decided that we would spend that time with them and then spend Christmas day with my family (we have a big party in the evening every year).

I knew it made the most sense, but that first Christmas Eve I didn’t spend with my family was harder than I expected. After we got back from church and before opening presents at Andy’s house, I went into the bathroom and cried. Like, straight up sobbing.

Yeah, I don’t do well with change.

But you know what happened the next year? I didn’t cry. And I’m not going to cry tonight. Because even though that first year of change felt so sad and scary, it’s become my new tradition. There will undoubtedly be more change to my Christmas traditions down the road, but now that I’ve made it through one, I know that I am more than capable of making it through more. I realize that although certain things may change, like what time we open gifts and what kind of cookies we leave Santa, there’s always one constant at Christmas: love.


It’s funny what a little new-found self awareness can do for you.

I have been a full-time freelancer for over three months now and I feel like I’m doing pretty well. It was something I worked toward for two years and it has its tough moments, but overall, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So what did I do on Saturday morning while I was dicking around on LinkedIn?

I applied for a job.

Like, a full-time, 9 to 5, “stab myself in the head” job. I really don’t know what I was thinking.

Actually, yes. I do know what I was thinking. I was thinking that I’m getting really annoyed applying for health insurance on my own and that it would be awfully nice to have a “real” job that supplied it for me. I was thinking that sometimes I don’t leave the house for days on end and I’m dying for some human interaction. I was thinking that all of my nice clothes are going to waste because my new work uniform has become my Old Navy yoga pants with the hole in the right thigh.

What I really did was let fear apply for that job.

I failed to consider that for the first time in a long time, I don’t dread Monday mornings and I don’t sit in a cube all day stewing in negative thoughts. I feel a lot more…calm. I was letting the small things that I do have control over convince me that getting a 9-5 again might be a better option.

Even scarier? They e-mailed me within 24 hours and asked me to come in that week for an interview. And I wrote back right away and said yes. (WTF IS WRONG WITH ME?)

BUT (here’s where the self awareness part comes in) – I sat here just now and said “I don’t want to go to that interview. I only applied out of stupid fear. I need to e-mail them now to cancel.” I recognized how I was sabotaging myself before I got in too deep. I’m proud of myself.

I feel like this is exactly what I do to myself when it comes to food as well, but the food thing is on a WHOLE other level. As soon as I find myself in control of my eating for a week or two, I freak out and eat fast food for weeks on end. I feel like I have this bizarre subconscious fear of success.

What kind of person actually fears success???

Or am I just afraid of change in general?

Either way, my health is #1 on my list for 2013 (woohoo, Stratejoy Holiday Council!) and I’m finally going to make the time to try and start working through my issues. A lot of my goals have been career-oriented the past few years, so I’m excited to find peace in that part of my life and start focusing on getting healthy again.

I received a lovely e-mail from Sallie Mae this week to let me know that my monthly payment amount was going to increase beginning next month. I was annoyed, but honestly, I’m so in debt that my first thought was “Oh well, what’s another $50 a month?”

I’m totally buried. It’s one of those situations that feels so big, that I don’t know where to begin. I’m considering trying that “debt snowball” thing from Dave Ramsey because one of my 5,000 bills will actually be paid off early next year. I’ve also considered going to a financial advisor and having them tell me what to do. Why haven’t I? I know that once I go, they’re going to tell me to stop buying things. And that is sad.

The beginning of my major debt accumulation started right around the time Andy and I moved in together. I just couldn’t quite grasp splitting utilities, groceries and rent in half, so I’d put everything on a credit card. Oh, sure, I’d gladly take his half of the money and apply it to the card…but then I’d leave my half on the card. And my half of everything grew and grew into a monster over time. I was living on an entry level salary and while I certainly was not spoiled growing up, I never had to beg too hard for things that I wanted. So when it was on me to buy clothes and gas and vacations, I got confused and annoyed. My family also used to go out to eat…A LOT. I wasn’t used to cooking at home every night and I’d get overwhelmed and end up spending money on going to a restaurant instead. That one left me poor and fat.

It’s funny how things change because when I was younger, I was very careful with my money. I would totally hoard it and never spend. Two of my friends used to tell me how cheap I was, and then they’d tell everyone else how cheap I was. That made me start believing that I really was cheap and that it was a bad thing…so I started spending a little more and a little more as time went on. Don’t give in to peer pressure, kids! You’ll end up thousands of dollars in debt when you’re a grown up!

It’s extra frustrating because now I am actually making enough money to be comfortable, but my credit card bills are preventing that from happening. Any extra money I’d have to save and do fun things with is going toward my monthly minimum payments. Treading water is getting exhausting.

If anyone has any tips on money management or debt, I’d love to hear them. I know I’m not alone, but it sure feels like it when I’m paying my bills.

{picture credit: flickr}


Registration for the Holiday Council 2012 is open!  21 days of  wrapping up 2012 and dreaming and scheming for 2013 + juicy writing challenges + kick-ass interviews with rockstar women + all the support and camaraderie that you could ever imagine. Want a piece of this? Let’s go!



My in-laws are hosting Thanksgiving this year and my parents and brother will also be coming. I love that my parents and Andy’s parents don’t just tolerate each other; they like each other enough to spend a holiday together. I know that this in itself is rare and very special.

The other day, my father-in-law (or as I affectionately call him, DIL – aka, Dad-in-law) asked me if my family has any Thanksgiving traditions. He wanted to make sure that if my family normally does something, or makes something, that it would a part of our holiday together. I thought for approximately one second…

“Hmm. Nope. No traditions.”

It sort of surprised me because I’d never thought about it before. I love a good tradition, but for some reason, not having one on Thanksgiving doesn’t bother me. As long as I’m with people that I love, it’s all good. Eating lots of food is also a bonus.

It’s funny because Andy’s family doesn’t necessarily have a Thanksgiving tradition either, but they are traditional about the food they eat. They don’t like anything “weird” or overly healthy, or as they say, “dietetic.”

I was assigned the duty of making a green bean casserole this year and when I mentioned using a recipe that wasn’t off the back of the French’s French Fried Onions canister, his dad got a little freaked out. It should definitely be interesting food-wise because as the counter to Andy’s family’s classic tastes, we have my parents who are forever on a diet and my brother who is a straight-up vegan.

Oh yeah, and I’m also on a diet, but that’s always up for debate on a holiday dedicated to food.

I guess while I don’t have a “real” Thanksgiving tradition, I can say that I am thankful every single year for what I have.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that anything and everything can be taken away from you very quickly. It’s okay to be ambitious and want more for yourself, but on Thanksgiving, stop thinking ahead for two seconds. Look around and notice everything you have to be thankful for…it might surprise you.

{picture credit: BabyBlog}


Registration for the Holiday Council 2012 is open!  21 days of  wrapping up 2012 and dreaming and scheming for 2013 + juicy writing challenges + kick-ass interviews with rockstar women + all the support and camaraderie that you could ever imagine. Want a piece of this? Let’s go!

I could talk all day long about how much I love my dog, Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, and the “Oops! I did it again” era of Britney Spears’ career. But when it comes to talking about love love, I get a little weird. I’ve just always felt like people who need to talk about how much they love their significant others all the time are just trying to convince themselves that they’re in love. Or that they are so infatuated with someone, that they are mistaking it for love. I don’t know, I feel like I’m a pretty open person (poop jokes for dayssss), but talking about love makes me squirm a little.

BUT! My first wedding anniversary was yesterday (yes, I was an 11/11/11 bride. I’m cool.) and I feel like talking about love just a liiiiittle.

Andy and I are not outwardly very romantic. We were friends first for many years, so our relationship was built on a friendship rather than romance. We talk about new movies, hilarious YouTube videos of people falling, our Fantasy Football teams…and sometimes, we kiss. I feel like we show affection more through the random nice things we will do for each other rather than saying “I love you” every two seconds (though we do make sure to say that every day).

Our wedding day was awesome because I set absolutely no expectations. I told myself that as long as I ended the day married, I succeeded. The result was one of the best days of my life. I know every bride says that, but it’s true. Imagine being in a room full of everyone you care about in your life and they are all celebrating you and your love. It’s a crazy awesome feeling.

It’s funny because I’ve talked before about how I try to plan everything. I obviously had to plan my wedding, but I wasn’t anal about it and I just did what I had to do. I left the rest up to the universe. I try to remind myself how great things turned out the one time in my life that I ditched my control freak tendencies and just went with the flow. I highly recommend it.

I think I’m a kind of at a loss for words right now. My birthday was Saturday, so it’s definitely been a long, wonderful weekend. Instead of trying to write any more from my tired brain, I will let this video do the talking. This is me dancing at my wedding to a Britney Spears mega mix. I couldn’t decide which Britney songs I wanted the DJ to play at my wedding, so I asked him to play this since it combined a million songs in to one. Pretty much my best idea ever.



In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we were without power for 48 hours (well, technically 45.5 hours. But who’s counting?). That amount of time is nothing compared to some other people, but I work from home and my deadlines weren’t disappearing even though my Internet did. I drove a few towns over to my parents’ house to take a shower and then I went to the library to get work done. While I was there, I missed a call from my mother-in-law who was calling to check in and see if I wanted to work at their house.  My in-laws are seriously the best ever – funny, kind and so welcoming from the very beginning. I knew I was more than welcome to work at their home, but I went to the library because I just concentrate better there.

A few hours later we finally got our power back, so my husband called his parents to let them know. I talked to his parents as well and they started joking around that they were mad at me for not working at their house and for going to the library instead and that I’m always welcome…blah blah blah.

My head started to spin and I could feel the tears coming.

I knew they were joking and I knew they weren’t actually yelling at me, but the people pleaser inside of me started to short circuit. I got to the point where I couldn’t talk anymore or I was going to start sobbing in his mom’s ear, so I did what any rational adult would do…I threw the cell phone on the couch, yelled “I can’t handle this!,” ran upstairs and threw myself on the bed while crying like a huge baby. This is my natural reaction whenever I feel like I am disappointing someone or that someone is upset with me. It’s just super.

This doesn’t happen every single time I feel like someone isn’t pleased with me; it builds up over time. I’m that girl – I smile through most things and bottle the negative feelings up inside. Then, when I reach my breaking point, I explode.  That explosion basically cancels out any people pleasing I had been doing up until that point because when I let go…I let go, and probably say even more than I would have if I had just expressed my feelings properly the first time I felt them.

I’ve just never been the type of person that can say “I am who I am and if you don’t like it, you can go screw yourself.” I want everyone to like me. Always. Even if I don’t like them.

Makes total sense, right? Ughhhhhh.

I know I’m not alone in caring too much about what other people think, but it’s still frustrating. Why do we care so much about making other people like us when the only person we actually have to live with is ourselves? We put our own mental health on the back burner just to make other people happy. It seems so stupid when I think about it, but in the moment, it seems impossible to handle that someone might be upset with me.

I think I still haven’t figured out how to react appropriately in certain situations. I have a lot of feelings and sometimes in the moment, it’s hard to sort through them and choose the ones that will express how I feel (in a mature way), while also making me feel like I said what I needed to say so that I don’t explode later. No one likes a temper tantrum, especially from a woman who is almost 30.

In my quest to find happiness, I’ve started to notice that I quit things…a lot.

On one hand, quitting is strangely empowering when you finally make the decision to stop doing something that doesn’t make sense to you. On the other hand, after you start quitting too many things too often, you wonder if you’re actually empowering yourself or if you’re just running away when shit gets hard. I think it’s a combination of the two for me, but it’s tough to weed through all the issues and decide what I was supposed to quit and what I was supposed to stick out.

People say to trust your gut and you’ll know what’s right – but what if you can’t tell the difference between your gut instinct and fear kicking in?

In high school, I was one of three captains for the performing dance team. I always felt like I was some kind of fraud because I didn’t have “real” training – I just loved dancing and that seemed to be enough when I auditioned and made the team. When I was voted captain my senior year, I knew my place in the trio – one girl was the pro dancer, one girl was the super organizer, and I was the peace maker. Running a team of 40 teenage girls qualifies as a version of my personal hell, but I got along with everyone and made them laugh…and that goes a long way sometimes.

However, I specifically remember sitting down one day and writing a resignation letter. In this fleeting moment of feeling total inadequacy, I thought that although I got along with everyone, I didn’t know how to be a leader and I certainly wasn’t a good enough dancer to tell people what to do. I wrote the letter, but I never handed it in – and I’m so glad I didn’t.

I almost quit one of my favorite parts of high school because I let my fear get in the way.

A few years after graduating college, I got a job with a company that I was excited about. Why was I excited? I had been working for another company the last two years, and while I enjoyed my time there, the money situation was rough. It got hit pretty hard by the recession and my paychecks reflected that. This new job didn’t seem nearly as fun, but when I saw how much they were going to pay me, I couldn’t say no.

Guess how long it took me to quit that job?

One month.

Sometimes I wonder if I acted too quickly, but I seriously don’t think I was ever going to like it. I don’t regret quitting that job, but I do regret quitting the job I had before that just so I could make more money. It was a lesson I needed to learn, but it never feels too good to learn the hard way.

That one poor decision to quit led me to quitting four more jobs since then.

I even quit one job before I ever started it. The last 9-5 job I had before becoming a freelancer was offered to me twice and I turned it down both times. Most employers would tell me to go screw myself, but they still pursued me until I finally said yes. I was so paranoid about making the wrong decision again that I’d bail at the first sign of making the wrong choice…even if I was just imagining it.

I’m always so afraid to mess up and go the wrong way in my “choose your own adventure” book of life.

There are so many great things to do in the world, but what if I never find what’s right for me? I would probably think I was completely nuts by now, except for the fact that I know it’s possible to be totally, completely content with a decision. This is going to sound so cheesy, but I have never doubted my love for my husband and I have never wondered how my life could be different if I decided to be with someone else. We talked about getting married before we even began dating and I never had my usual freak out moment where I felt the need to run away.

I got a taste of what it’s like to be amazingly happy with a decision and now that I know how great it feels, I want more of that in my life. I just want to learn how to make good decisions right off the bat instead of feeling the need to quit everything. It sucks to feel like I can’t find my “calling,” but it’s beginning to suck even more to feel like a quitter.

Summary of My Quitting History

Best thing I quit: It’s a tie between smoking and an 11-year toxic friendship.

Worst thing I quit: My diet (approximately 5 million times) and a play. After a few weeks I realized the play was going to be awful and I was so embarrassed to be associated with it that I lied and told them I was going to summer camp. Good one.

Best thing I wanted to quit, but I’m glad I didn’t: My first half marathon in below freezing temperatures while it was sleeting the entire time.


{Photo Credit}: Flickr

One of my best friends from fourth grade through seventh grade was a girl named Christine. Her dad was in the Army and she lived in my city with her parents, her two older sisters and her golden retriever named “Sugar.” Their house was so organized and they were so kind and polite; they were the perfect military family. Christine always seemed wise beyond her years, and I was so honored that someone so mature would want to be friends with a hot mess like me.

She is the one that gently told me that Santa Claus is not actually real. She made me try liverwurst for the first time…and I liked it. Her dad had actually categorized and numbered their entire VHS collection and if you wanted to find a movie, you looked up its number in a binder and then found it on the shelf. We usually ignored the other movies and just watched “Shag,” a Phoebe Cates classic. Every month, she got the elastics changed in her braces to match the holiday or season. And best of all, she was my friend.

Christine moved to Italy after 7th grade and after a few attempts at being pen pals, we lost touch. When I was in college I heard that she was back and going to the University of Rhode Island, but again, I didn’t make the effort to find her. Losing touch with people is…awkward. I feel like sometimes it is almost better to remember people the way they were when you knew them best. I liked the Christine I remembered from years ago and I didn’t want to change that.

I found her on Facebook a few years ago and it ended up being perfect – we didn’t try to “catch up” or anything like that. It was a nice way to reconnect and see how we were both doing without trying too hard.

This summer, a post of hers popped up in my Facebook news feed:

“I’ve been diagnosed with leukemia, not given a death sentence. I’m taking a page from the LIVESTRONG Manifesto:

‘I believe in life. My life. I believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of my being. And that I must not let cancer take control of it. I believe in energy: channeled and fierce. I believe in focus: getting smart and living strong. Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.’

If you can support me in this, I welcome every word, thought and prayer that you want to send. If you find it hard to be positive, if you’re overwhelmed or sad about my diagnosis, please keep it to yourself. I’m strong, I’m a fighter. I’m facing this head on and I WILL beat it.”

I sat in front of the screen for a long time staring at her words. I was simultaneously so sad and so proud of her for displaying such inspiring strength. She continued to post about her progress and her will to live. She never complained, she was always incredibly thankful and positive. Everything about her outlook made me feel like she was absolutely going to beat this thing. I err on the side of pessimism in scary situations, mostly because I just don’t want to be surprised if something goes wrong…but everything about Christine’s battle made me think that there was absolutely no way she was going to die.

And then she did.

She found out she had leukemia on June 20 of this year and by October 13, she was dead. Before that, she was living happily in Hawaii and had her whole life ahead of her. Excuse my French, but what. the. fuck.

Losing someone you haven’t really talked to in over 15 years is a really weird thing. I almost feel like I’m not allowed to be sad because I didn’t really “know” her anymore. But at the same time, for four very important years in my life, she was one of my best friends. I’m mourning the loss of that little girl who made me feel so special.

Her funeral was today and I tried so hard to make myself go, but I couldn’t do it. I hadn’t seen her since 7th grade and I didn’t want our reunion to be under those circumstances. I’ve been feeling enormously guilty about it all day, but writing about it has been extremely therapeutic.

I mentioned earlier that she was wise beyond her years, and she really was. Sometimes I wonder if she had been here before, especially the way that she truly understood what was important in life. I feel sad knowing that she left this world without ever having the chance to get married or have children, but I feel so happy for her knowing that she made the most out of her time here. Without even directly talking to me, she inspired me via Facebook with her amazing outlook and view of the world. I think she did that for a lot of people. And if folks can say that about you when you go, whether you’re 29 or 99, you can rest assured that you lived a beautiful, meaningful life.

Thank you, Christine.




I was thinking about old school America Online the other day and how much I cared about my profile at the time. I remembered there was a “Hobbies” section and that it was filled with things that I actually did. Like, real hobbies.

Somewhere along the way, I feel like my hobbies became “interests” – things I enjoyed, but didn’t actually do. I don’t act anymore, but I go see shows. I don’t sing anymore, but I listen to music. I don’t perform in dance shows anymore, but I get drunk at weddings and jump around to “Shout!”

When did this change happen? I think it was a gradual thing that began when I graduated high school. First of all, I wasn’t in Rhode Island anymore and after meeting a lot of new people, I was slowly figuring out that I wasn’t as great at my hobbies as I thought I was. I started to doubt my abilities and instead of saying “screw it! I like performing! I’m going to keep doing it because it makes me happy!” I started to shy away from the things that used to make me who I was.

I also think the change happened because as you grow older, I feel like people stop asking you what your hobbies are and switch over to asking what you do for a living. I’m fine with asking people about what they do to pay the bills, but I hate how we ask it in such a way that implies our jobs should be our new hobby. I don’t think anyone has asked me about my hobbies since I was in high school (unless you count sleazy dudes ask what I do for “fun”). So, I decided to ask myself the question, “Mary, what are your hobbies?”

I don’t know.

I really don’t know anymore. I don’t really read, take any classes, create anything…my hobby seems to be sitting on my ass.

Why don’t I do anything? I’m not really sure, but I do think there is a fear of failure there. I’ve stopped letting myself mess up, which is a huge part of what makes us all so delightfully human. You can’t mess up if you’re having fun, but I haven’t figured out how to chill out yet.

I’m looking for something that’s going to make me feel alive again, but I don’t even know where to begin.

What are YOUR hobbies?



You know how I pledged to lose 100lbs? I was supposed to start on September 1, the day I also became a full-time freelancer. It made so much sense in my head that on this glorious day, I was suddenly going to become focused on healthy eating and self improvement. It was going to be GREAT.


I had salt and vinegar chips and French onion dip for breakfast yesterday.


Oh, and three Oreos. Breakfast of champions.


The rest of the day was no better…I “accidentally” ate a pint of that new Ben & Jerry’s Greek frozen yogurt. There was also a piece of pizza and a rich pasta dish that I found a recipe for on Pinterest. To say I was in rare form would be an understatement.


I have been overweight my entire life (except for the year I was skinny) and I’ve had a lot of time to think about why I do what I do. The main two things I’ve been able to come up with are:


1) I’m sabotaging myself. There is a huge part of me that finds comfort in being overweight. It’s all I’ve really ever known. Even though I am uncomfortable, unhealthy and embarrassed, being thin is even scarier because I just remember feeling like I was living in a body that wasn’t my own. People do treat you differently and after years of being treated a certain way, I was actually hurt and mad when people were nicer to the skinny me.


2) I am addicted to food. This is the only way I know how to explain why I keep eating like I do. It is not as easy as just eating everything in moderation; my brain doesn’t understand that concept when it comes to certain food. Most times, I am better off not eating those trigger foods at all because once they cross my lips, it’s all over. When I read about how drug addicts act, I feel like I am reading about myself with food.


Unfortunately (or fortunately), I feel like I’m finally at that point where I have to lose weight. I am bigger than I have ever been and I’m crossing in to dangerous territory. When I was younger I just wanted to lose weight and look good, but my intentions are a little more wholesome this time. I want to be HEALTHY. As we’ve already discussed, I am afraid of dying – and I know that what I’m doing right now is a form of slow suicide. How can someone who is so afraid of dying continue to contribute to their demise every single day?


Also, it is so weird for me to say this, but I want to have a kid. I am almost 29, and while I know that this isn’t “old,” I also know that I need to get my shit together if I want to have a healthy pregnancy within the next few years. I refuse to get pregnant while I am so unhealthy because I feel like that is just inviting in a whole host of complications. Gestational diabetes doesn’t really do it for me, ya know? I also have selfish motives – I want people to actually know that I am pregnant. I don’t want people wondering if I’m pregnant or if I just got fatter. I want it to be a wonderful experience.


So where does that leave me today, fresh off the heels of yesterday’s junk food binge? It’s another day and another opportunity to try again. I think it’s important not to let one “bad day” completely derail your efforts. I woke up this morning and actually measured the sugar and milk that went in my coffee and my breakfast was impressively healthy. I can’t tell you how the rest of the day is going to play out, but I can tell you that right now, I’m trying my best to stay in control. That’s all I can do.


On January 28, 2006 I packed up my green ’99 Dodge Caravan with a few of my belongings, picked up my best friend and drove from my home in Rhode Island all the way to Los Angeles. One of the boxes in my van held dozens of bound spec scripts that I was convinced would play an integral part in me becoming the next Tina Fey.

On July 1, 2006 my mini van crossed the Rhode Island border, still filled with my worldly possessions, my best friend and my box of scripts. We weren’t there to visit; we were there to stay.

We didn’t get in a fight, we didn’t go broke and there was no family emergency back home…so why did we leave?



We had both become romantically involved with two guys right before we were leaving for LA. My friend started dating her dude a couple months before we left. My boy? Oh, it was just the guy I had been obsessed with since high school and thought I had NO CHANCE IN HELL WITH EVER. Seriously. He was that guy – the one you have to build up courage to talk to and when you finally do, you say something really awkward that you regret for days afterward. So yeah, that guy finally decided he liked me back…ONE WEEK before I moved across the country. Perfect timing, Andy. Truly impeccable.

My friend and I didn’t really date many people before that point, so we weren’t just going to ditch our LA plans for a couple of guys we liked. We were strong independent women and we were going to do something awesome!

…Yeah, that mentality lasted approximately two seconds and then for t/he entire time we were in California, we just missed our men folk. It was really exciting and really annoying all at the same time. Going to Los Angeles was my plan…I was going to move out there and write for sitcoms. That was all I cared about and I never considered love or starting a family or anything “boring” like that.

Well, I have a funny thing to tell you, kids: Love always wins.

Not only did my friend and I move back home for love, we both ended up marrying those guys. My friend has two beautiful children and I have a 10-year-old stepson and an insane dog that I cradle like a baby. Things have a weird way of working out.

Let me preface my next statement by saying that if I had to go back and make the decision again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a wife and stepmother and I honestly never really knew that was going to be in the cards for me. However, that little twist that life threw my way really confused the heck out of me for the next few years.

The issue? I still wanted to be a comedy writer. A real, big-time comedy writer for a movie or a TV show or something really rad. It all seemed so possible and so within my reach when I was living in Los Angeles. Settling down in Rhode Island made me feel like I had to give up entirely on that vision…and it sucked.

Let’s be honest…it still sucks.

“But, Mary – won’t your husband move to California with you? Doesn’t he support your dreams?”

Yes, my husband would actually love to move to California. He lived there until he was 12 years old and all he talks about is going back. One slight issue, though – he has a son. And his son has a mother that lives in Rhode Island. And his son isn’t going to move across the country because daddy’s wife wants to write funny things. So we stay here because my stepson is actually really cool and my husband loves his son more than California.

I’m doing what I know needs to be done, but it doesn’t mean I have to be thrilled about it. I have just had a lot of trouble translating my dreams in to something that the smallest state in the Union can actually offer me. My quarter life crisis has stemmed from me trying to find something as fulfilling career-wise that I felt comedy writing was going to be for me.

It’s been a long road of failed jobs and total confusion, but you know where those last six years of craziness have led me? Back to being a writer. Go figure. Not a comedy writer, mind you, but at least I think I’m finally headed back in the right direction. You can’t fight against doing what you’re meant to do…it has a sneaky way of finding you again when you least expect it.

{Image via Fotopedia}

In the interest of being honest and open, I have a confession to make: I am a total creeper.

I am the queen of hunting down everyone’s personal business on Facebook, being in awe of savvy entrepreneurs on Twitter and reading blogs that I never comment on. I am a member of many communities, and an active participant in none.

But I want to be.

The majority of my creeping has involved studying and admiring the lives of freelancers for the past two years. It was a life I knew I wanted for myself, but was too scared to embrace fully. I reached a point a few months ago where I realized that I was ready. My good friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February and has been in the hospital fighting for her life ever since. The diagnosis and resulting surgery were so sudden that no one, including her, had time to even process what was happening. I realized that everything that has happened to her could easily happen to me, and if it did, how happy would I be with what I’ve accomplished? How long can you live your life in fear before you realize that enough is enough?

Well, I’ve had enough. I gave my notice at my current 9-5 job and as of September 1, I can officially call myself a full time freelance writer. I’m nervously excited, but I am not afraid. It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. September 1 also began my quest to lose 100lbs. I have been big for my entire life, except for 7 years ago when I lost 80lbs. I was so proud…and then I gained it all back, plus 20 more pounds for good measure. I have spent the last few years beating myself up mentally and obsessing about where I went wrong and how horrible people must think I am. I am stuck in the past now, reminiscing about “the time I was thin.” I don’t want to be thin – I want to be healthy and most of all, happy. I want to stop trying to find happiness in a Burger King drive-thru.

For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel like I’m sitting around waiting for my life to happen. And it feels daaaaamn good.

In entering this new phase of my life, I also realize that I need a support system. I have wonderful husband (married 1 year in November!), family and friends, but sometimes you need a group that knows exactly what you’re going through. I’ve never been one to freely share my feelings with the world, but I want to. I think it’s an important step that will help me grow as a person. Stratejoy was the first website I found when I was going Google-crazy, trying to figure out if I was nuts for being unhappy with my current situation. “Quarter life crisis” wasn’t even a phrase that was in my vocabulary at the time, but when I started reading the stories of all the amazing women on this website, I felt like I was in the right place. Without even knowing it, you all have given me hope over the last two years while I creeped around Stratejoy silently.

I want to pay it forward and give someone else hope. I want to be friends with all of you and be an active member of your positive online community. My new endeavor has me working from home and I don’t want to feel like I have no one to talk to as I make these huge changes in my life. I consider being a Stratejoy blogger as my own personal form of therapy, and I hope it will be for others along the way, too.


“I am making a few transitions currently like learning how to be a step mom, losing weight and working for myself, but my major transition is learning how to live in the now.”


I am afraid to die. Terrified.

I am not actually worried about what happens after you die because from what I can tell, it’s pretty awesome if you’re not an asshole. I am basing this assumption on what I have learned from watching the show “I Survived: Beyond and Back” and from a psychic I talked to three times (my dead grandma told him that I am addicted to pizza. 100% legit).

It’s the actual end of my life that I am stressed about. I like to plan everything and I like to plan it as far in advance as possible. My entire wedding was booked two years before it happened and three months before I even had an engagement ring on my finger. Death freaks me out because I can’t plan it. I accept that I will eventually die, but if I don’t know when, how will I organize how the rest of my life is going to play out? Do I space out all of my goals and ambitions over the years or do I cram them all in to one big happiness fest?


This fear has resulted in me planning “big” events like my wedding or becoming a freelancer, rather than stopping for two seconds and realizing how lucky I am in every day life. With my mind constantly on the future, I know that I am missing out on the present. I find it so ridiculously hard to just chill out, be thankful and embrace happiness.

I am making a few transitions currently like learning how to be a step mom, losing weight and working for myself, but my major transition is learning how to live in the now. My life overwhelms me so much sometimes that many days, I spend my free time sitting on the computer doing anything except face reality. I am trying to learn how to manage my feelings, step away from the glowing screen and get out of the house.

When my brain started to short circuit two years ago, I knew something had to change. I found Stratejoy in my online travels and immediately clicked with that season’s bloggers. As soon as I realized I wasn’t crazy and there were (a lot of) people out there just like me, I was relieved. Instead of being completely confused, I knew that it was possible to take steps to allow things to make sense again.

I have done a lot of self discovery in that time. I ordered a lot of books, took a lot of tests and spent a lot of time just thinking. I finally got myself to the point where I was able to fearlessly quit my job to begin freelancing. I’m not scared because I know I’m ready. I’m also really happy that I no longer have to explain to my friends and loved ones why I “can’t hold a job.” I absolutely refuse to stay in situations that make me unhappy, and that can be tricky to tell people without them looking at you like your career aspirations are not based in reality.

Well guess what? Shit just got REAL.

I’m beginning to feel more in control of my life than I have felt in a long time. And while I can’t control when I’m going to die, I can control how I live my life at this very moment.

Contentment is just around the corner…I can feel it.


PS: If you know what movie my blog title is from, I want to be your new best friend.