What’s on the Horizon (and How You Can Help)

on the horizon canva

As Still Chasing Fireflies’ birthday celebration draws to a close, it’s time to look forward and make some plans for the coming year.  Here are a few goals that I would love to achieve before Still Chasing Fireflies turns two, but I need your help!  (Be sure to read #4.  It’s my favorite!)

  1. First and foremost, I want this blog to stay true to who I am and what matters to me.  If you see Still Chasing Fireflies straying from its purpose of sharing the emotional ups and downs of being human, please, set me straight!
  2. Still Chasing Fireflies has enjoyed some exciting exposure this year, so I plan to look for more opportunities for publication in the coming months.  If you enjoy the blog, please share it with your friends!  You are welcome to send them a link and an invitation!  All of the blogs that I read were introduced to me by my closest friends.
  3. Now that Still Chasing Fireflies has a strong foundation, I want to build a sense of community!  I invite you to leave comments on the blog or on Facebook. I’m going to experiment with posting more about the blog on the Still Chasing Fireflies Facebook page and less on my personal page to move the conversation to one place.  If you haven’t liked or followed the Still Chasing Fireflies page, please join us there.
  4. AND HERE IS THE IDEA THAT EXCITES ME THE MOST!  I love to share a good story with all of you, but there are SO MANY stories that I can’t tell because I have not experienced those stories myself.  I don’t know what it is like to live through divorce or receive a cancer diagnosis or lose a parent.  I don’t know what it is like to adopt a child or watch a daughter get married or live on a farm.  I don’t know what it is like to be a minority in a place with little diversity or to raise a half dozen kids or to save someone’s life.  BUT SOME OF YOU DO!  Maybe you don’t want to manage a blog of your own, but maybe you have a story to tell.  Maybe I can help you tell it or help you share it on my blog.  Please reach out to me!  I would love to host a “What It Feels Like” series with guest posts from people who have stories to share.  If writing isn’t your thing, I can help!

What will the coming year bring for Still Chasing Fireflies and for me as a writer?  I. HAVE. NO. IDEA.  But it’s time to stop partying and get back to work!  Thanks for celebrating the first year of the blog with me this week, and please consider sharing your own story here (or even somewhere else) in the coming year!  Your story could change someone else’s life.

Trust me.

This year has taught me just how much our stories matter.

~Mary Ann

My Top Five Post Picks

Wow!  Choosing my top five posts of the first year was harder than I expected!  The first three choices were easy.  There was no question what those first three would be.  But the last two picks were harder.   I wrestled with questions, like how do you pick a favorite child, anyway?  What makes one post better than another?  How did I feel when I was writing each piece?  How much of me was invested in each one?  Does the number of readers who liked each post matter, and, if so, how much?

There were several close runners-up, including this post about my nephew’s cute fishing story and this one about developing “real” relationships with our friends.   And then there were posts that started conversations and made a difference to people, like “A Letter To My Son’s Soccer Coach” and “Yes, I’m a Christian.  No, I’m Not Like That.”  However, the posts that I chose as my top 5 are posts that are so close to my heart that all kinds of hidden emotions start swirling when I read them.  You can click on the infographic below to go to the “live” version.  It has links that will take you to any of the posts that you want to revisit! (Aren’t these infographics FUN?!?!?)

top-5-favorite-posts-on-still-chasing-fireflies (3)

Now it’s your turn!  I REALLY want to hear about your favorite posts on Still Chasing Fireflies in the past year.  Please comment, here or on Facebook or both.  Let’s create a conversation.  Thanks for chasing fireflies with me this year!

~Mary Ann


Happy First Birthday, Fireflies!

birthday cake google rights

Last week, Still Chasing Fireflies turned one, a milestone that I am beyond excited to SHARE and CELEBRATE with YOU!  Since my husband (wisely) says no more babies at our house and since I had been feeling a bit blue about my kids growing like weeds right before my eyes, the birth of the blog really did feel like a new baby to me.  I’ve lost sleep over it.  I’ve skipped showers to take care of it.  I’ve wondered if I’ve made mistakes in raising it, and I’ve experienced some of my greatest joy by investing in it.  And that’s just in the first year!

I remember when each of my sons turned one.  Oh, how we celebrated!  I remember the little party hats that I made them from brightly colored cardstock.  I remember wiping frosting from every chubby baby roll after the candles were blown out and the cake was just a heaping pile of crumbs.  I remember my babies’ toothless smiles and chubby cheeks, and, fortunately, I took plenty of photos to commemorate the moments.

First birthdays are a BIG DEAL, people!

For the next three days, I invite you to celebrate Still Chasing Fireflies’ birthday with me!  Today, check out this cool “year in review” infographic that I made with a fun online tool that you can find at piktochart.com.  Each event on the timeline is linked to the corresponding article or video, so be sure to check out anything that you had forgotten or missed!


Tomorrow, I will share another infographic of my personal top five favorite posts of the year, and Friday we will talk about some new ideas on the horizon. Please be ready to comment tomorrow! What was your favorite post of year one?

As always, thanks for chasing fireflies with me!  I truly feel that every milestone belongs to all of us as we journey together!

~Mary Ann

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Revisited

good bad ugly 2

Hey, Y’all!  This week, Still Chasing Fireflies is celebrating its FIRST BIRTHDAY!  That’s right . . . my baby is turning ONE!  (And, yes, I am still working on losing the baby weight, but that’s okay because I have more realistic  expectations than those celeb moms.)  The year has been an emotional roller coaster that ranks right up there with other important personal milestones like the year that I said “I do” and the two most incredible years when our family grew first by one son and then another.  It has been wonderful!  Watch for a full recap of Still Chasing Fireflies’ first year in the next few days, but first I thought we should revisit the FIRST BLOG POST that I ever shared, which was never even posted here on Still Chasing Fireflies.  It was originally shared on The Today Show Parenting Team blog, when that blog was just a newborn, too.  Enjoy!   Here goes . . .

My ugly parenting days were accidental at one point but have become more deliberate as my boys grow up.  I have become more accepting, even proud, of the moments of parenting that aren’t so pretty.  Why?  Because when I reflect on my own experiences, I have learned a lot more from the ugly than from the beautiful.  Because I see children every day enjoying seemingly idyllic childhoods while the toolboxes that they will need to be equipped for adulthood sit forgotten and empty.  (Their scrapbooks, however, will be AMAZING, and that does make me a bit jealous.)

The reality is that we aren’t raising children here, friends.  We are raising men at our house.  Men who will be fathers and husbands.  Men who will be your co-workers and your neighbors.  And, although we don’t like to think about it, we know that our children will face heartbreaking challenges in life – because we all do at some point.  The reality is that all of us parents are raising adults who will need to have the emotional and critical thinking tools to handle difficult situations with grace and, hopefully, come out stronger on the other side.  But many of us are working double time to prevent our children from having the very experiences that will prepare them for adversity later.  I, for one, am tired of working so hard to create a force field around my children while still feeling like my efforts never quite stack up to the efforts of my neighbors . . . or my Facebook friends . . . or the characters (because there really is no reality) on the television.

The truth is that good parenting isn’t always beautiful.  Every day cannot be a parade with my child as the grand marshal.  Children need to experience discomfort – loss, disappointment, pain, sadness, and frustration – to grow.  We aren’t doing our children any favors when we don’t let life happen to them.  We aren’t helping them succeed when we create an illusion (because it is always an illusion) of perfection.  We aren’t doing right by them when we intervene every time they encounter a normal life challenge.  And what kind of messed up kids are we raising if they never see that mistakes and weeds and failure and messy houses are just a part of REAL LIFE?

There’s a good chance that parenting that looks beautiful will create adults with ugly attitudes; I’m banking on the idea that the ugly side of parenting will pay off in beautiful outcomes, while also saving me some grief and, hopefully, taking me out of the competition.  Enough with the myth that every day should be sunshine and rainbows, and that if, God forbid, it should rain on my child’s parade, I should sweep in to create an artificial happiness with sweet treats, unwarranted praise, and meaningless (and often expensive) activities.  Enough with the idea that a child who has not tried EVERY sport and hobby has probably been robbed of all future joy.  Enough of the fear that if we don’t entertain a child 24/7 then we have failed at parenting on an epic scale.  It’s time to get real.

“No, I am not doing this assignment for you. Lucky for me, I graduated from third grade a few years ago.”

“Yes, I do find cleaning up dog poop to be disgusting. But if you love the dog, you scoop the poop.”

“No, I am not buying you the shirt that says that you are the best basketball player ever. If an adult wore a shirt that said “BEST THING EVER,” everyone would assume he is a jerk. And he probably is.”

“Yes, I do realize that your brother got a donut at school today, and you did not. No, we are not running to Tim Horton’s to make it right. I am feeling confident that you will survive. But if your vitals start to fade, we will make a trip to the ER.”

“No, you cannot quit because you are frustrated. You made a commitment, and quitting is not an option. Your dad and I are still married. Consider this an excellent example of perseverance.”

“Yes, I do have enough money to buy that, but I will never ever EVER spend that much money on a t-shirt. No, not even if we win the lottery.”

“No, I don’t enjoy grocery shopping either, but it is necessary for our survival, and if we had lived a hundred years ago, you would be hunting right now. Be grateful.”

“Yes, I know that some kids your age play video games rated Mature. Unfortunately, you came from this womb, and it’s not happening.”

Don’t get me wrong; we love our boys dearly, and we work hard to foster close relationships and to establish a home that provides a soft place to fall.  But I am trying hard to escape the parenting rat race by reminding myself that we are not here to protect them from reality but to support them as they actually face it.  Life is not perfect.  Children are not perfect.  Parents are not perfect.  It’s okay if our family doesn’t look perfect, because it isn’t.  But maybe, just maybe, allowing our kids to face the ugly realities of life will yield some beautiful results.

Don’t forget to watch for that birthday recap coming soon!  While you wait, I want you to think about two things:

  • What was your favorite post of the first year?
  • Do YOU have a personal story that you want to share with the Still Chasing Fireflies community, too?

Hold that thought!  We will have a fantastic conversation when the recap is posted!  As always, thank you for reading and supporting this community!