Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011 - Yahoo's Top 500; family reunion; a mom post script: Dena Bolton

Though the rains came on Tuesday, they’ve been washed away today. It’s obvious from my last post that I was having a bad day the other day and though not all is sunshiny and beautiful, things are much better than they were. I guess a day removed from everything can make things better sometimes. I dunno, but my mood has been much brighter as I’m starting to work on having that positive attitude.

Yahoo’s Hot 500

My writing seems to be clicking on all cylinders lately. In the past two months or so, my page views have risen dramatically and I’ve hit several milestones. First I hit the quarter million mark ahead of plan (I’m now close to 280K!), then I made the Top 1000 Contributors for 2010 on Yahoo Contributor Network, and now today I received another honor.

Sometime this afternoon I logged into my YCN account to check out yesterday’s performance views and I saw that I had gotten an email from the site. The subject of the message read: “You’re On Fire!” When I peeked inside, the unexpected news made me jump for joy. It read:

Your Yahoo! Contributor Network profile is burning up, because you're one of our "Hot 500" Contributors based on January 2011 page views earned on content published on Associated Content and throughout the Yahoo! network!

So now I have yet another badge on my YCN profile. This is just incredible to me. I’ve been writing for the site for almost four years and I finally feel like I’ve arrived. Now I’ve just got to keep it up! (…takes a bow!)

Family Reunion

Last night I had dinner with four present and former students, a family of three brothers and a sister whom I’ve taught for the better part of 7 years. Rather than go into their story, I’d ask you to read Family in Crisis: A Year Later. It recaps the story of a four children abandoned by their parents in a strange country and all of the financial and medical issues they’ve had to deal with. The four youngsters made it through a crisis last year thanks to the generosity of an entire town and I’m proud to say that I had a big part in that.

The purpose of last night’s dinner was just to see each other and catch up. I only have one of the four left in my class and so it was good to see the rest of them. I had the opportunity to meet a 5th person, a lovely young lady who will soon become the wife of the eldest brother. It was a great time! Throughout the evening I was reminded that what I’ve chosen to do for a living allows me to meet and make a real difference in the lives of others and for that I will forever be grateful. These kids will be in my life for a very long time, and I am so happy for that.

Me and the groom to be last year

A Post Script from Mom

I forgot to mention the other night another topic I had discussed with my mom during our conversation. She brought up something I had been afraid of earlier, but had forgotten. A couple of weeks ago I had written a piece and a blog entry on Weight Watchers (see the piece here), and I used my mom and my sisters as an anecdote to tell the story. Though she doesn’t usually read the things I write on YCN, my sister saw the posting of the link on Facebook and read it to her.

While the anecdote was meant to be funny (and believe me, I did get feedback that it was!), mom didn’t take too kindly to it. She thought I was making fun of them, which I guess I was in a way. It’s not the first time this has happened, either. A couple of years ago, I was doing a series of articles with another writer on the topic of homosexuality (for links to these articles, please see Understanding Homosexuality: A Recap), and in the series I spoke about my childhood and my brother’s role in my youthful low self-esteem. Although they never approached me directly about it, I heard through the grapevine that he and my sister in law were not too happy about that.

I figure it’s all a part of being a writer and I’m not going to let things like that stop me from being creative. I write a lot about my experiences in life and oftentimes there are others involved in the stories I tell. I try my best not to get too personal and I never make it mean spirited, and to me that’s all I need to do. I have to expect that I’m going to ruffle some feathers along the way, but like I’ve said before, it’s my way!

Dena Bolton, Rissa Watkins and Cancer

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Dena Bolton, the fellow writer and friend I spoke of the other night, lost her battle with cancer last night. Many of us in the YCN world are still reeling from the all too sudden circumstances surrounding her demise. Dena lived only 9 days after finding out that she had the disease. It’s a lesson for us all that early detection is absolutely critical! Rest in Peace Dena! I will miss you!

In the meantime, there is another YCN writer who recently found out she has leukemia. Rissa Watkins is new to me, but many of my writer friends know her pretty well. Apparently Rissa is fighting her disease with fervor and I certainly hope she kicks its butt. In her honor, I’ve commiserated with my fellow YCN writers on Facebook to change my avatar. Check it out below and please keep Rissa in your thoughts and prayers.

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