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No one tells you that blogging will become about more than just writing. It may start off as a way to find your voice, share your thoughts and exercise the writing muscle. But it becomes so much more.

You start meeting other writers. People who care about the same issues you care about. People who breathe through writing the same as you. People who blow you away with their talent and inspire you and make you want to be better at this thing you love.

A little over two years ago, I stumbled onto Samara’s blog through a mutual blog friend. I was a little curious to check out this person who left witty and intelligent comments on another blog. I was immediately sucked into her words. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Scrolling from one blog post to the next. Laughing. Then crying. Enthralled. Yes, her life has all the makings of a Scorsese movie. But that wasn’t what got to me. It was her writing. I fell in hard love with her writing.

I would scramble to her blog every time I got notification that she had posted something. Reading, but not commenting. I was intimidated and scared to comment. The comments section read better than some blog posts by other writers. One day I had to say something. She’d written a gut wrenching post. I was moved to tears and had to comment. Somehow my serious comment on her serious post turned into a conversation about music and eventually realized we both were huge Lenny Kravitz fans.

And from there we started to get to “know” each other in bloggy terms. We read each other’s writing and we commented and supported. And in the midst of that we became to know each other in more “real” terms. One day she reached out to me with an email to say something about a post I’d written. It was a hard day for me, a hard post to write. One that I was reeling from for hours after hitting “publish.” The things she said in that email healed a little part of me that was in so much pain that day. It gave me the push to keep writing, just as I was considering giving it up.

See, that’s what she does. She sees something in others and pushes them to be better. She listens to your dreams and tells you to go for it. Underneath the tough exterior that burns with fire is the soft soul of a person who deeply cares about others. She helped to create this amazing place that is a safe haven for writers to unleash their pain and write with blind fury. She is fiercely protective of the people who come there to lay their hearts on the line. She is the embodiment of Together, We Are Stronger.

I’m so grateful that in this huge infinite world of blogging that I connected with her. And though in some ways we couldn’t be more different, there are so many ways I relate to her. We are both fierce protective mothers who share similar parenting philosophies. We are sisters who will never let the memories of our brothers die. We are passionate about music. Music means as much to us as writing, it is intertwined with our words. It inspires us and saves us. We are writers. We live and breathe for our families but writing is what tears us apart and puts us back together. All of these things have connected me to this woman who I got to know through her words. And now I can say we are friends and SisterWives. 

Today is her birthday. I’m a big fan of birthdays. I think they are a glorious reason to celebrate a person. To show them that you are glad they are in this world. To let them know that they are awesome and amazing and special. Samara, Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday to the passion, to the fire, to every word you bleed onto the paper. Happy Birthday to your soul that you open up and share with us every time you write. Happy Birthday to the fearlessness to Write Free. Happy Birthday to a beautiful person full of love and imperfections and intricacies.

For your birthday, I’d like to take you to a Lenny Kravitz concert. And I think we both agree we want to see Lenny circa 1990. So put on your platform shoes and your hip hugger pants. Mess up your hair and let’s jump and dance and scream. Cheers, my friend. Let’s rock.

*Write Free and Breathe Through Writing are two terms I learned from Samara. See? She’s so good with the words…*

To join the party and listen to Samara’s Birthday Mix Tape, go here.

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I used to be a good friend. I was the friend you could call if you needed to vent. I was the friend who would drive for hours in the car smoking cigarettes and listening to music while you mended your broken heart. I was the friend who would stay up all night laughing and talking about nothing and everything.

I was the friend who knew the ins and outs of your life and knew when you needed to talk even before you knew you needed it. I was in tune and in touch. Available.

That friend is gone. And I am so, so sorry. She didn’t leave because she values your friendship any less. She didn’t disappear because she couldn’t be bothered.

She’s gone because I refuse to be busy.

I needed to step back from the chaos that took over my life. She was busy. No busier than you. But busy. Frantically, perpetually busy.

I’m no longer busy.

I was exhausted and burned out and I decided that something had to give.

I found myself on the hamster wheel and it was all my doing. I was giving it all away and watching life happen all around me. I was running a house, raising three kids, being a wife and a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a friend. I was volunteering for a charity I am passionate about. I was working out and planning holidays and hosting dinners. I was squeezing in everything in a mad dash to get it all done and to make a beautiful and meaningful life. And it was glorious. I am not complaining about any of it.

And I started to write again. And I found myself wanting to write more. And more. The flood gates opened and my only problem was trying to squeeze writing into my already crazy life.

But there’s only so long you can juggle while running at full speed when all the things that you are juggling are too precious to drop. I knew I couldn’t sustain. I was multitasking my life away. I started thinking about what this would look like in hindsight. Would I remember the moments? Or would I remember the phone in my ear while I cooked dinner and helped my kid with her homework while texting about the swim carpool, all while cleaning up the dog pee? I was a traffic cop at rush hour in the middle of a four way stop. The frenzy and the crazy became the norm and I saw myself not absorbing and not focusing and not fully engaging any where.

So I made the decision to refuse to be busy.

I stepped back from some commitments. I set up a loose schedule for my writing. I vowed to spend certain hours of a few days a week focusing on my writing. I have things I want to do that will never happen if I don’t protect the time it takes to do them.

It’s not that I don’t care about connecting with my friends. I really care. I miss my friends. I miss long conversations on the phone. I miss the serious talks and the laughs and the support and the whole connection in a way that let me be a very current part of their lives.

I miss it but I’m not willing to be busy for it.

We are all busy. Our culture glorifies busy. We are all running in frantic directions every day just trying to keep up. It doesn’t matter whether I work or stay home. It doesn’t matter that I have more kids than the next person or less kids than the next. There’s always someone with more to juggle and someone with less on their plate. It’s all relative and I refuse to beat myself up because I should be able to make it work when the Bento Box Pinterest Mom has more kids and a full time job and a spotless house and 3 dogs and 2 cats and a high maintenance guinea pig.

It doesn’t matter. I refuse to be busy. I am trying desperately to simplify my days. To stop multi tasking my life away. I’m trying to dial down the frenzy. I don’t want my life to be a blur of stuff and obligations and squeezing ins. I want it to be savoring and relishing and languishing and satisfying.

But this all means something’s gotta give, so my friendships are taking the heat. And that breaks my heart but I don’t know how to do it any other way.

I love my friends. I love them fiercely and I will drop whatever I’m doing the second any one of them needs me. I will drive to see them, fly to see them, go out for dinner or drinks. I will hug them when I see them and I will tell them I love them. I will laugh at their stories and cry with them when the hurt they are feeling seeps into me. I will fight for them, go to battle against their enemies or be their biggest cheerleader when they accomplish amazing things. The women I consider friends are some of my real life heroes.

I will do anything for them.

But I won’t answer my phone if I’m cuddling on the couch with my daughter. I won’t answer the phone if my son just got home from school and is telling me about his day. I won’t pick up if I’m helping one of the kids with homework or eating dinner or driving with the kids in the car or enjoying some quality time with my husband. And I won’t answer my phone if I’m writing.

Unless you need me. In which case, you’ll need to send and SOS or a 911 or a simple “I need to talk.” Then I will tell my kids they will have to wait or I will get up from the dinner table or shut my laptop. I will stop whatever it is that I’m doing if you need me.

I haven’t perfected my life of not busy. I’m still figuring out how to balance it all and how to still try to be a better friend. And I’m still available for casual conversations and catching ups. Just not as frequently as before. Some of my friends and I have started meeting once a month for lunch. Some of us have planned weekend trips together. Some of us keep up in group text chats. Some of us connect in private FaceBook groups.

What I’ve discovered is that most of my friends feel the same way I do. Most of us have transitioned into the third phase of parenting. Older kids, different kind of busy. Our lives have become the lives of uber drivers for the tween set and new careers and busier activity/sport schedules that come with older kids. Most of them are feeling the same hamster wheel juggling act that is impossible to do unless you’re a Cirque de Solei acrobat. And most of them don’t have time for me either.

I’m sorry that that friend is gone, the one who used to make you mixed tapes to help pump you up after a broken heart or a lost job. She loved curling up on the couch on Sunday morning to hear about every minute detail of your date the night before. She loved talking on the phone with you for hours as our babies slept and hearing every moment and milestone you and your baby reached together. She loved the hours standing in the driveway talking while our kids ran around and wore themselves out before dinner time. She misses that.

I miss all that.

But now is good too.