The PostSecret Live Show

I don’t even remember how I fell in love with PostSecret. I think someone mentioned it to me, and I checked it out. It’s not part of my routine to check the Sunday Secrets. I own all the books.

When I went to Virginia to visit my in-laws a few years ago, the only thing I wanted to do was go to the PostSecret exhibit at the Postal Museum.

I’m obsessed. I’m aware, and it’s okay.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, PostSecret was started by Frank Warren in 2005 as an art project. He gave out postcards and asked people to write a secret on them. His goal was to get 365 postcards. He got way more than that.

He started posting secrets he received on his blog. They update every Sunday (hence, Sunday secrets). I enjoy reading the secrets, and I keep a folder of my favorites to use as writing prompts.

I’ve never made it to a PostSecret Live show. I’ve always wanted to, but it seemed that every time one came to town, I already had a prior commitment, or I was going to be somewhere else.

I finally made it this past Tuesday.

When I got there, I realized that I hadn’t known what to expect. I didn’t have any expectations of it, but to me, that was part of the fun.

We were set up in a small theater in San Antonio. The show started with three actors speaking various “secrets” as if they were their own. Their voices broke with laughter or tears. It was powerful.

They flashed secrets on the screen. At the intermission, they encouraged people to tweet about PS #pssantonio, then they flashed tweets with the hashtag on the screen. In the ladies’ room, they had post-it notes and pens. Women wrote on the post-its and put them up on the mirror.

They also had postcards for people two write on, then after break, the actors read the secrets of people in the audience. Then more acting and secrets on screen.

As a finale, they had a Q&A with Frank Warren and with the actors. After that, a book signing where I got to meet the man behind it all.

Frank Warren never intended for PostSecret to become a national phenomena. But I think that it speaks to the fact that people want to make connections with one another. Our secrets isolate us, but they don’t have to. As Frank said, any secret anyone has is shared by someone else.

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I always love live events because the emotion in the room changes the event. In this case, I heard people laugh, gasp, or go hushed after various secrets were read. People cried, and no one cared because others were crying too.

This was a bucket list item for me, and I wasn’t disappointed.


S is for The Secret Garden


I lived in a house on a hill that butted up to a patch of forest and a hill.  It seemed huge to me then; we called it a mountain, and I was sure I could get lost in those woods, even though they were probably only a few miles square.

I liked to go into the woods with a book or a notebook and read or make up stories.  Sometimes both.  My favorite place had a couple of trees surrounding a circular-ish clearing.  It was flat and horizontal, instead of ascending as most of the rest of the hill.

I liked to sit at the foot of one of the trees.  Roots formed a nice seat.  I’d take off my shoes and rest my feet on the cool ground.  Light would dapple in through the leaves.  It was bright enough to read, but never so bright that it got hot.

I loved it there, and it felt secret, even though it probably wasn’t.  I seldom saw other people in the woods.  It was just me, the music of leaves and birdsong, and the characters in my head.

The Secret Garden, by Francis Hodges Burnett, resonated with me because I felt the same way that Mary did.  When she discovered the garden, it was like waking up for her.  Being in my woods did the same for me.


I loved the garden in this story, though when I first read it as a kid, I didn’t appreciate all the metaphors in it.  This book also taught me that people can change.  Both Mary and Colin are ill-tempered, sour children.  But the power of the Magic in the garden changed them.  No adult intervened to teach them lessons.  They had to learn for themselves how to be better versions of themselves.

The idea that people can change blossomed in my brain, and it was a lesson I never forgot. People can change themselves, if they want to.  They have to invite Magic into their lives, and only then can they accomplish wonderful things.

We’re all connected: to nature, to one another, to magic, to love.  We just have to be willing to open ourselves up, put in the work, be aware of what’s around us.

Did you ever have a “secret” place?

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett

I’m Just Me

I’m the person who talks out loud during movies (not in the movie theater… just at home.  A lot).  I’m also the person who talks to Facebook, and all my friends, even when they can’t hear me.  Maybe especially when they can’t hear me.

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page the other day:


I wanted to yell, “No! No!  NO!  What do you mean that’s your WORST fear?  Please, stop.”

But I didn’t.  I didn’t even respond to it, because I know a lot of people feel that way.  They become afraid of showing their imperfections because someone might not love them if they show those imperfections.  Then, what happens is we all end up being the walking wounded.  We imagine that others are somehow better at life than we are.

I have to tell you a secret.  Ready?

None of us are perfect.

And you know what?

That’s okay.

Yes, she's judging you.  Orange cats do that. Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Yes, she’s judging you. Orange cats do that.
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Imperfections are what make us wonderful.  They’re what make us unique and interesting.  If you were perfect, how would you ever strive to be better?  And if you had nothing to strive for, what would be the point of doing anything?  If you were just perfect all the time, there would be no goals.  You wouldn’t need any emotions because you could be happy all the time.  Where would love songs come from?  Or those songs that make your soul ache?  Or pretty much anything by The Cure?  Where would creativity come from?

Maybe I’m missing the point.  It’s just that I think perfect is overrated.  I also happen to think it’s impossible, but I’m not one to let reality get in the way of my goals, so I certainly won’t shoot yours down by calling “reality check.”

It’s easy to believe that others are somehow doing a better job at life than I am.  It’s easy to go on Facebook or Pinterest or watch TV or look at magazines and figure that others have it all together.  Or at least more together.  But when I worked in crisis, I went into people’s homes, and the one thing I found out is that no matter how together people look, we all have secrets.  And most people believe they’re failing at something.

So, instead of holding yourself to someone else’s standard, how about you work on being the best you that you can be today?  In order to be the best you, you have to stop comparing yourself to others.  You’re just you.  I’m just me.

And that’s perfectly okay.

Why I Love PostSecret

UnknownBy now, I pretty much assume everyone in the world is familiar with PostSecret.  For those of you who aren’t, it started as an art project, where Frank Warren had people send him postcards with secrets written on them.  He wanted 365, and years later, has had millions come to him.  PostSecret has raised money for suicide awareness and the Hopeline.  Many of the secrets are heartbreaking, but almost as many are uplifting.

In our social media- celebrity obsessed- selfie world, this seems honest in a way that other forms of transparency don’t.  Thanks to Facebook, I know what people had for breakfast and where they went on Saturday.  I get to see their latest pictures and know their hobbies, especially if they workout or run.  But I don’t know their hopes and dreams.  I don’t know what keeps them awake at 2 a.m. or if they’ve found true love.  I don’t know if they cry at Hallmark commercials or sneak cigarettes when no one is looking.  I don’t know that I need to know these things.  After all, everyone has secrets, and if we were all to post only the truth on social media, I’m not sure if that would make the world a better place, or just a sadder one.

PostSecret though, is a way for people to tell their secrets anonymously.  I wonder if I’ve known anyone who’s had their secret posted online.  I feel connected to a community of people.  Sometimes I see secrets and think, “Oh, you too?  That could have been my secret.”  Sometimes I just want to give the writer a big hug.  And sometimes I want to smack them.  Secrets are as different as the people who write them.

I guess I love PostSecrets for their honesty, and I appreciate the anonymity.  I try not to be judgmental, but I honestly struggle with it when people come out with too much information in a non-anonymous forum.  I think that people who participate in reality shows are idiots.  But when it’s anonymous like this, I just feel like it’s brave.  Maybe it’s because people on reality shows or who post certain things on Facebook just seem attention seeking.  Whereas writing a PostSecret isn’t attention seeking; the people behind them are just looking to connect.

The new PostSecret book just came out, and I’m excited to see if Santa bought it for me.  😉


The Joys of Used Books

I don’t think it’s a big secret that I love books.  I love buying books.  I love being surrounded by books.  I love reading books.  I tend to stick to the library and buy a lot from Amazon.  I had forgotten how much I loved used bookstores.

Recently, I’ve started spending more time at used booksellers, and I’ve fallen in love again.

At the big chain stores, popular books that someone has paid a premium to advertise are on endcaps and on those display tables.  I do often find things that I wouldn’t have otherwise read.  As a writer, I’m terrible at titles, but I know how important it is.  Titles and covers are what catch my eye when I’m browsing, and I can be seduced into picking up a book on the title alone.

At used bookstores, books seem much more jumbled to me.  They still have the endcaps and the tables, but those mix popular books with books that someone just happened to like when setting up the table.  I’m more likely to find something I wouldn’t have read otherwise.  I love the fact that the books have a story, even if I’ll never know what it is.  Many of the books have things written inside, and it’s clear that they were given as gifts at some point.

I found a bittersweet thing the other day.  I found a PostSecret book with a note written on the inside cover.  It talked about how the giver was giving the book because he had found his soulmate and had the most wonderful year.  It said that he had no more need for secrets as he had given them to her.  He said that he hoped he and the giftee would have many happy years together.  I wondered why she had sent the book to the bookstore.  Had they broken up?  Had it got mixed into a sell back pile by accident?  Had someone borrowed it and sold it?  Had it gotten left behind when they moved?  I’ll never know, but I’ll wonder.

Unfortunately, I already had that book, and I didn’t buy it.  Now I wish I had.  I might go back, and if it’s still there, I’ll get it.

The wonderful thing about used books is that they don’t just tell a story.  Sometimes they are the story.