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Updated: 2018-04-06T08:03:38.985-05:00


It's all happening!


TopBlogMag is moving!
We are morphing!

We are becoming much much more about you and your own blogs!

Top Blog Mag is now...

Blog Nosh Magazine!

The new site is currently under construction, but will be up and running soon. Come over, check out the details that are posted so far, including the new theme behind the site, and let me know what you think!

Thank you for all of your support, your patience, and your enthusiasm.
Delicious things are in our future.

Issue 29: Opportunity is a Bird That Never Perches


Note from the Editor:***TopBlogMag is under major renovation/ demolition/reconstruction. Bear with us.***How often are we presented with an opportunity and we hesitate a moment too long? Poof. It vanishes before our eyes. It slips through our fingers.Or we never even recognized it in the first place.Are your eyes open to the opportunities around you? Are you waiting for them to fall into your lap or are you poised to pounce at the first, well, opportunity?Here we are, two issues in from the point that I pounced on the opportunity to take over TopBlogMag and I am still scrambling to pull it together. So many ideas being fleshed out, so many designs being prepared to implement. I could have used two or three months between the moment I accepted the position and the moment in which I actually took over.But that wasn't the choice I was given.So here we are.And I love it.I am accepting the changes and embracing the opportunity. So are our writers.Debbie from Missives from Suburbia offers a glimpse into the reality that is online dating and how being open to opportunities, no matter how unlikely they may first appear, can be the gateway to unexpected blessings.John from altjiranga mitjina writes about an opportunity that he did embrace but that managed to slip away anyway.Karen Rayne from Adolescent Sexuality finds herself given an opportunity that she didn't even realize she was looking for, but a valuable one worth exploring, nonetheless.As our Featured Post and Blog of the Week, Amie from MammaLoves... sums up my feelings about opportunity precisely, with a bit of speculation about the paths opportunity leads us down... as well as those paths not taken.Finally, I am seizing the opportunity myself to share with you a guest post I originally published as a spur-of-the-moment guest blogger on Queen of Spain. The Queen of Spain is a rock-solid blogger in Southern California... yeah, that Southern California. The one in the news all the time right now. The one on fire.Along with hundreds of other families, the Queen of Spain recently had to evacuate her home. As I write this, her home has remained mostly unscathed, however hundreds of other families have not been so lucky.This is our opportunity. It is our chance to lend a hand to those in need.Below are a handful of links to relief agencies benefiting families that are suffering due to the fires in Southern California, courtesy of the Queen of Spain.Additionally, I am linking to the American Red Cross, an organization my family accepted help from after Hurricane Katrina and to whom I will be eternally grateful. I saw firsthand how they use their funds. It was astonishingly comforting and effective.Visit the links. See if there is anything you can do. You would be amazed at how far just a little help can go to comfort families who have lost everything. It is a wonderful opportunity to step up.In the meantime, join in the conversation. Read this week's submissions, visit the author's blogs, then join in the discussion. Post on your own blog about this week's theme, send me the link, and we will feature it in the "Joining In..." feature at the bottom of the page. Be sure to check back often to see who has joined in. Opportunities abound this week, however...Opportunity is a bird that never perches. ~Claude McDonald************Santa Clarita Valley Disaster CoalitionSouthern California Wildfire Resource Page(a comprehensive list of relief organizations inthe devastated Southern California area)[...]

You Are Here


Feature Post and Blog of the Week
by Amie from

You did well in school to get into college. You tried to get
by well enough in college to be attractive to an employer or graduate program, and along the way you may have opened your heart a time or two. Maybe you even found true love.

With a foot in the door, the first years of work were the time to
prove your mettle once again. Promotions, raises all with the goal to
secure your future will allow you to settle down, buy a house, travel,
commit to a relationship, have kids or not. In what feels like a blink
of an eye, your future is here.

And now what?

All the decisions made to get to this point, all the paths considered
and discarded for what felt right--for what seemed the smartest move
at the time—they all brought you here. Or maybe, some decisions were made for you. A rejection
letter, a broken heart, an unintended pregnancy,
they were decisions taken from your hands but events that moved your life along
just the same.

Here you are.

Did the path you chose lead you to the destination you expected? Are
you looking back wondering what if? Is this life you have what you thought it
would be? Do you ever think you might have made different choices? Would you
have taken advantage of other opportunities? Created more?

Maybe some days it all seems exactly how it’s supposed to be, but then for no reason driving down the highway you catch a glimpse of how different it could have all been.

And you wonder.

This post submitted by Amie, a 37 year old woman who has reached one
peak and is looking ahead trying to envision the next. She blogs regularly at MammaLoves... and DC Metro Moms

Chance Favors Only Those Who Court Her


by Debbie from Missives from Suburbia

After a less-than-friendly divorce, I was on the market again. Seizing the opportunity, my friends scoured their address books and Palm Pilots for single men and set me up on blind date after blind date. My reaction to most of those dates was, "I call these people my FRIENDS?" One of my real friends suggested, and given how much I love the Internet, I gave it a go.

A couple months of e-dating passed by in a blink. It was fun, but so far nothing meaningful had hit my radar, and my match inventory was starting to run low. You see, "matches" you to people based on a list of your requirements, and I'd pretty much run through all my existing matches who didn't seem psycho or stoned, based on their profiles.

Then, one day, I got an email from a guy who was not a match by my standards. He asked me out. I declined, although I tried to be funny about it. He asked again, because he found me amusing. He was funny, too, but once again I declined. He just wasn't my type. He pressed, listing attributes like a fervent love of movies and adoration of museums as reasons to go out with him. I replied that I hate the movies, and I never go to museums. But his persistence and wit convinced me to talk to him on the phone.

We talked for two hours that first time. I liked his voice, and he was just as funny and interesting over the phone, but he still wasn't my type.

I agreed to meet him for dinner. He had a nice smile, and he dressed well. He also had great taste in restaurants, and I am a foodie. Nonetheless, he was not my type.

Six weeks later, our friendship continued to deepen, and we agreed that since we both needed a vacation, we would go together. A platonic vacation. No, really. Platonic, because he still wasn't my type.

We returned from vacation, and we were still "just friends". Because – yes, you guessed it – he just wasn't my type.

A month after our vacation, I began dating this man who was not my type. Less than two years later, we were married. Two years after that, our beautiful son joined the family.

In a span of a few short years, an email in my inbox went from being an amusing distraction to becoming my life's love, teaching me that opportunity comes in many forms. Sometimes, they aren't even your type.

Debbie spends her days playing mommy to one human child and four large fur kids, and her nights hunched over her laptop, desperately trying to find the perfect shoes. She busily pursues life, liberty and happiness amidst the chaos of a home buried in diapers and dog hair located in the Twin Cities and believes that suburbia is not a location, but a state of mind.

Jesus Toothpaste!


by Karen Rayne from Adolescent Sexuality Today with Karen Rayne, Ph.D. This weekend I went out of town, leaving my family to fend for themselves. On Saturday, my darling husband took my two darling daughters – 6 and 3 years old – to what he heard was a fun new toy store in town. Great, right? They walk in the door, and the 6-year-old pipes up with “Look, Daddy! Jesus toothpaste!” He takes one look, puts one hand on each girl’s shoulder, and does a 180 out of the store. It may be a fun new toy store, but it’s intended clientele does not include the under-13 set. When I got home on Sunday, the first thing the 6-year-old says to me was, “Guess what! We saw Jesus toothpaste!” I blinked, figuring I hadn’t heard her correctly. Regrettably, I had. Now we have to decide. Is this an “opportunity” to talk with our daughter about Christianity? About irony? About inappropriate jokes? About the only son of the only God who died to keep our teeth clean? And if it is, what on earth do we say? It seems we are faced with these “opportunities” almost daily. Most parents are. Billboards, full of conversational opportunities, are everywhere:“Microsurgical Vasectomy Reversal!”“Find out who’s the Daddy!”“Adult Videos! News! News! News!”“ ‘Love thy neighbor.’ – God ” As are grocery store tabloids:“End of world predicted in 1000 BC!”“Mother Mary seen in a Tortilla!”“George Bush dines with aliens!”“George Bush IS an alien!” Perhaps even more insidious are the magazines:“Bigger breasts!”“100 ways to keep your man happy!”“How to eat less!”“How to be more!” But a wise, anonymous person once said “Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the one you miss.” If we don’t take this chance to talk with the 6-year-old, she’ll continue thinking it’s fine and funny to use Jesus toothpaste. The toy store already took the opportunity to talk with her about it. And after all, was a toy store. And toy stores are for kids, so everything in there must be good for kids. Right? So tonight I’m going to take the opportunity to sit the 6-year-old down and tell her what I think of Jesus toothpaste. That it’s something that some people would find offensive, that it would hurt them. That I’m sad that other people find that funny. And after that conversation has run it’s course, I’ll ask her what she knows about Jesus, and how she recognized a picture of him so quickly. This will be a scary conversation for me. But I spend my life encouraging parents to have scary conversations with their children about sex, sexuality, and romance. I tell them that the conversation will happen, and that the only choice they have is whether it happens between them and their children or between someone else and their children. I ask them to realize that a forced opportunity is still an opportunity. So this has become my forced opportunity – but my opportunity nevertheless. Parents have to learn to talk about the hard topics. Sex, sexuality, porn, body image, romantic relationships, these are all topics I have thought through and I can talk easily and appropriately about with the 6-year-old. Religion? Not so much. This is one of my hard topics. So I’m gathering my thoughts, preparing myself for the conversation tonight. But I know that the real learning will actually come during our conversation. After all, there’s no better way to learn than to do. Sometimes, actually, it’s the only way. And later tonight, I will thank Jesus toothpaste for this forced opportunity, and I will have made sure someone else did not take it. Karen Rayne teaches classes about sexuality to teenagers and about adolescent sexuality to parents. She also writes a blog on adolescent sexuality. She lives in Austin, TX with one fabulous husband, two amazing daughters, and two rambunctious dogs. [...]

A Lost Opportunity


by John from Altjiranga Mitjina Trying to break in as a writer in the comic book industry can be a bit like the one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Every step forward you make means you land on your butt after your kick forward. Comic books are a visual medium. An artist can bring a portfolio to an editor at a convention and said editor can sit there and look at it within minutes and decide if this artist is worthy of working on the newest issue of Stupendous Man or not. Trying being a hopeful writer handing over a script to this same editor at a busy comic convention. You’ll be lucky if the editor agrees to take the script and promise that they’ll look at it later. Most times the hopeful writer is told to send for their submission guidelines and mail in their proposal. The best way for a writer is to find an aspiring artist and hook up. (No, not that type of hook up, get your mind out of the gutter.) If the two can create a short story, combining art and words, than both have something to show. And maybe create something new between the two of them. I’ve been writing and trying to break into the comic book industry for years. When I first started that was my method. Find some artists that were trying and hook up with them. And it’s worked. Finding Ron Wilber lead me to getting “Lizards” published in CRITTERS. Finding Dave Garcia lead me to getting some stories published in DEATH RATTLE. Finding Sam Kieth lead me….well, that’s a different story, a story of a missed opportunity. When I “met” Sam neither of us had published anything. I say met, because I came across Sam in the mail, in a fanzine, and we didn’t actually meet for close to a year until we both made the trip to San Diego for the Comic Con. I knew when I saw Sam’s work that he was going to be a star. Even then I could see how good Sam was. We came up with some ideas and shopped a few around. We sold one or two to Kitchen Sink for their DEATH RATTLE comic. Sam started doing inking work for Comico, then DC Comics. He got work on the SANDMAN. Sam was quickly becoming a hot name in the comic biz. We kept in touch. Sam is a nice guy and a very unassuming guy. Anyone that knows him will know what I mean. While Sam was becoming a star I was getting more work published. A few stories here, a few there, I felt like I was making headway. When the Image creators broke away from Marvel and DC to form their own company they asked Sam to come along. All the Image guys were coming up with new characters and Sam was no exception. He created THE MAXX but didn’t feel comfortable enough with his writing skills yet to do the scripting chores on the book. He called and asked if I wanted to write it over his plots. Now does anyone need to know what I said? I wasn’t Sam’s first choice. At that time Sam had been working with Bill Loebs on some other projects. Bill is a great writer (and artist as well) and Sam had asked him to do the MAXX project first. For reasons that are Bill’s own he bowed out. So Sam gave me a call. I’m not sure of the timelines here so some of this may be a little off. MAXX was a ways off, so Sam and I would spend time on the phone talking about what he wanted. Sam kept telling me to let everyone know that I was working on an Image book, get my name out there. Somewhere around this time MTV approached Sam about turning THE MAXX into a cartoon series for their network. Things were happening fast. And it was around this time that Sam called me up and told me that he had decided to go with Bill Loebs as the writer on THE MAXX. I couldn’t blame him too much, Bill was a much better writer than I was. I was and am a big fan of Bill’s work. I bring this all up not to throw stones but as an opportunity lost. I’ve never really commented about the whole situation and do so now because it fits in the theme of this issue. I sometimes wonder what my life would be lik[...]

A biker, a green thumb, a cracked hand, and a Queen.


by Megan from Velveteen Mind, originally guest posted at Queen of SpainA random biker on a Harley-Davidson took my picture last week. What I wanted to do was take his picture, but I hesitated. Now, instead of a photo of some random biker holding an i am bumper sticker, all I have is a lame photo of me holding the bumper sticker and the mental picture of him riding off into the sunset, never to be seen again.Okay, it wasn’t as romantic or dramatic as that. It was nine in the morning and there was no sunset.This is not the first time that I have hesitated to seize an opportunity. I don’t expect it will be the last. However, I hope with each lost chance for something intriguing, I will lose a shade of that hesitation for next time.One of the last times I let an opportunity slip away was at the beginning of this summer, as I was planting my first flower garden. For some reason, I became simply obsessed with hydrangeas. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was a beautiful hydrangea bush, bursting with full blooms. Certainly, these bushes must be a snap to grow, as even run-down houses seemed to boast the most gorgeous bushes of blue and pink hydrangea.Snap my ass. Apparently I don’t understand much about gardening. Or acidity of the soil. Or watering needs. My hydrangea died. Quickly. As in, the next day. Impressive.While driving home and mourning my poor dead hydrangea one day, I noticed the most impressive hydrangea bush I had ever seen. Blue hydrangea mop heads, weighing down a massive bush outside of an old shack of a house that I had driven by a million times. I was surprised that I had never noticed this bush before because there was an old man who sat outside of this house and waved at passing drivers, if you just took the time to notice him. I always took the time to notice him. But how had I never noticed his hydrangea?That night, I read a post by Oh, The Joys! about a conversation she shared with a couple of strangers on a plane. She wrote about how she rarely took part in plane conversations, but found herself opening up to these strangers in the most unexpected ways. “We were three strangers talking about love and loss…It was nice.As much as I appreciate the quiet time to read, perhaps I should reconsider my position on plane talking…”I decided that the next time I passed the old man with the hydrangea bush, I would pull over and talk to him. Talk to him about his hydrangea and hopefully talk to him about his life.Dangerous? Maybe. Naive? Probably. Hopeful? Absolutely.Having grown up in a rural community in Southern Illinois, I miss the old couples sitting out on their front steps in the evening, watching traffic and waving at the drivers who take the time to nod their way. There was something about this man, sitting in his old folding chair, next to his lush blue hydrangea bush, in front of his dilapidated old home, that spoke to me. Something familiar that I recognized. Something familiar to which I wanted to be near, if only for a moment.The next night, I drove by his house, saw him sitting out front, began to bully up the courage to stop… and then hesitated. I realized that I was not driving the car he usually waved at me in and was suddenly afraid that he wouldn’t recognize me. As I approached the intersection in front of his home, I found myself driving right on past.I never did stop. Despite seeing him evening after evening, I never did stop. I hesitated and the moment past me by, never to return. And now I regret the missed opportunity. The unknown pesters me.If I have learned anything, it is that opportunities surround us every day. We just have to have our eyes open to recognizing them. It also helps to have our guts fortified so we are ready to seize them when they present themselves.Oh, what lives we can lead when we do. When we stop hesitating and just pounce.I used to just pounce. I did some of my favori[...]

Note from the Editor.


If you want to truly understand something, try to change it.~Kurt LewinWe are one step closer to realizing my revamped version of Top Blog Magazine. You have all been very generous with your suggestions and comments, making some points crystal clear (see poll results below). To say the least, it is encouraging to see how invested you are in this process and the final product. Encouraging and exciting.As we are still in transition, you will see very few of the proposed changes this week. Despite my lofty goals, it is apparently not possible to change everything right out of the gate. Believe me, I've tried. That's why I love that Kurt Lewin quote. This is absolutely a learning process. Apparently, I also have a bit of a learning curve...It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.~EpictetusMiss smarty pants here has a few things to learn still. In the meantime, you'll have to make do with the ever-so-slight template change (bye, bye, yellow! we'll miss you!) and wait with baited breath for the new banner and other design element changes. All new buttons are on the way, as well. Who doesn't love some new blog bling?Content changes will be more gradual. More than anything, you set the pace for that.The poll results are split evenly between your wanting to submit content from your own blog's archives and wanting the challenge of themed creative writing submissions. I am hesitant to set hard and fast rules for content, so for now I'm going to keep it simple:Consider this an open call for submissions from your personal blog's old archives. This call applies to current writers for TopBlogMag, as well as anyone else that would like to become a contributor. We'll iron out the guidelines more specifically later, but for now, please pull posts that are at least one month old. Do you have something you are particularly proud of or thought deserved more attention than it received at the time? Send it in.Make your submissions strong, as they could determine the direction of an entire issue.In short, the way the submission assignments have worked in the past is that an email is sent out to the current list of writers each week, usually assigning a particular theme to five or six writers on a rotating basis. From now on, regarding open submission calls versus assigned writers for each issue, that may fluctuate on an issue by issue basis. Depending on the backlog of republished archive submissions received, we may have some weeks where there is no open call and other weeks where there is nothing but assigned writers.If you would like to be added to the writer's list for TopBlogMag and receive the weekly emails regarding submission calls, just send me your email address and link to your blog, along with a brief note detailing your interest. I am looking for fresh voices, men and women, all niches. If you think you wouldn't fit in, chances are you are exactly what I'm looking for right now.And then I have to take a deep breath.Change is risky. Growth is dangerous.There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.~Anais NinChange. Risk. Growth. Our writers had plenty to say on this matter.Read their stories. Visit their blogs. Along the way, if something inspires you to write, post it on your blog and send me the link to be added to the "Joining In" featured section at the bottom of the page. If the spotlight isn't shining on you this week, grab it and shine it on yourself.Take the risk. Push your limits. Bloom. And please do let us watch.***Megan from Velveteen Mind[...]

Beautiful Risk


Feature Post and Blog of the Week
by Jenny from Mommin' It Up!

She’s sleeping soundly, and I pause to observe a rare moment of calm in my wild child, my crazy girl, my daring daughter. Her long, fine hair covers her thick eyelashes and rest on her plump, peaceful cheeks. She is, to me, simply amazing. But I am, of course, her mother.

Eleven months ago, I exhibited the opposite of the serenity she now sleepily displays. I was pregnant with her, and on the cusp of giving birth, rotund, uncomfortable, and scared. I was anxious, apprehensive, and fretful about my baby girl. My fears frustrated and confounded me. I already had a son, and he was healthy and strong. I had done this before, what was wrong with me? I just wanted her out, and as my pregnancy progressed I became more and more convinced she would be safer outside the womb than in.

A few days before my due date, after a doctor’s appointment where once again, everything looked fine, I sat down to try and analyze my fear, to seek to know the enemy that was taking the joy out of this pregnancy. What I came to realize after some careful, quiet thought, was this: because I already had one child, I knew what I had to lose if something went wrong with this pregnancy. I knew what it was like to hold my own child in my arms, to nurse it at my breast, to feel its breath on my cheek, to marvel at its first smile and revel in its first laugh. This baby already had my heart. Giving her life meant risking her life, and I already knew I couldn’t live without her.

A few days later, right on time, my risk, my beautiful risk paid off. My daughter came into my world healthy and strong, just like her brother. The last eleven months she has brought me joy upon joy, and looking at her now I don’t regret the risk for a minute. Still, knowing what I have to lose, I don’t think myself brave enough to take it on again.

Jenny Rapson lives in her hometown in Ohio with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband and her two fabulously funny kids. She is a stay-at-home-mom, avid book reader and voracious coffee drinker, and writes her blog about adventures in motherhood with her friend and cousin, Emily Berry, at Mommin’ It Up! (



by Sarah from In the Trenches of Mommyhood

I am contemplating a major life change. No, I’m not having another child,

or an affair,

or a sex-change operation…

I am thinking about a career choice that will thrust me back into full-time employment for the first time in 6 years (I currently work part-time).

Except now, unlike 6 years ago, I have 3 children.

You see, my husband and I have been fiscally irresponsible and immature. We have no savings, no retirement, no emergency fund. We live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Except now, we have 3 children.

We bought into society’s mania of instant gratification. Wholeheartedly. We have 4 televisions in our house, we drive 2 nice cars, our children are fed and nattily attired and we’ve wanted for nothing.

Neither have our 3 children.

But, it’s gotta stop.

Our financial situation right now is equivalent to a speeding train about to derail. We’re broke.

And we have 3 children.

So who will be affected when I start a new full-time job? Everyone in the family, of course.

Especially our 3 children.


(I confess, I am being a bit melodramatic. Though I am sad and angered, the timing of this is such that I will be able to accept a full-time offer knowing that my children are being very well cared for.)


Sarah had a mind once. Now she has children. She’s a Central Massachusetts mommy to three adorable, loving, loud, impatient, only angelic when sleeping, little boyz, ages 6, 3 and 2. And she’s a part-time (for now) corporate paralegal. Although life is hectic, demanding and downright crazy In the Trenches of Mommyhood, Sarah thinks that life is still good…especially after she’s had a few glasses of pinot grigio.

The inevitable, Change


by Prachi Jain from Random. And Then Some More =)

Change is to one man the death of a friend,
To another the birth of a child.
Change is the shifting of soft winds of spring,
to a hurricane deadly and wild.

Change is the moving of the hourglass sands,
It's the coming of dawn after dark.
Change is taking one step at a time,
The emotion in each persons heart.

But change in the end, will not change at all
The one constant in everyone's lives
Change is the light at the end of the tunnel
The healer who opens our eyes.

Prachi's journal blog.
The World as i see it.
join me at

Plus ça change


by Rainbow from New Marriages and Old Families Elder daughter J celebrated her 18th birthday yesterday. She hates surprises, so she'd told me exactly what to buy her - I'd complied, with a couple of extras - but even though she knew what she was opening, she actually got up at 7.30 so she could open her pressies with me before I went to work. She was affecting the attitude of not feeling any different, it being just like any other day - but I did notice later that she was waiting rather impatiently for her friends to arrive, just like she used to when she was little. I've know most of her friends since they were 3, all of them since they were 11, and it's been fascinating watching them grow into women and how they've changed along the way. You notice it more with other kids than your own, since you're not seeing them all the time. (Although in the days when mine used to go and stay with grandma or granddad for a week to give me a break - obviously no one thinks I need one any more, sniff; although on second thoughts now we just go off and leave them at home - they always seemed to have grown a few inches when they came back.) One of the girls is now so strikingly beautiful I wouldn't have recognised her if I hadn't known who it was. But some things haven't changed a bit. We still had to have banners and balloons festooning the room. The drink may have been rosé rather than Ribena, but their choice of food (to accompany the obligatory gooey chocolate cake) was the very health-conscious crisps, Maltesers and Minstrels. They were dressed in their best (clubbing rather than party) frocks, and the sounds that came from the garden when they were larking about taking photos could have come from a bunch of toddlers. And they still sing Happy Birthday and J made a wish when blowing out the EIGHTEEN spelled out by the candles. She even managed to wake me up at 3 in the morning, although this time it was by closing the front door rather than having a bad dream. And instead of the shaky M u m x x she used to scrawl on her pictures, the message on my desk this morning was the slightly more sophisticated Had a great night. Met Stacey from East Enders and got a photo with her. Ring me in the AFTERNOON. Lots of love x x x. This is a hiatus for her, waiting for her A level results on Thursday, going on holiday next week and only then having to deal with the realities of the adult world, like the small matter of getting a job. Hope she enjoys it - although I don't think any of us really ever grow up, life is rarely again as simple as it is for her now. I guess all we can ask is that she's got some good memories and a solid foundation to fall back on - and that in 18 or even 80 years time she can still enjoy her birthday like a child! Rainbow is recently married for the second time around, and blogs about merging the couple's two families, their children and their joint search for their roots - as well as whatever else takes her fancy! New marriages and old families at [...]

A Clean Sweep


by Meg Fitzpatrick from Simply NutmegI could spend hours just staring at my feet. In fact, I often do. Why? Because my feet are the only part of me that look exactly as they did when I was sixteen years old. I can stare at my ankles, too. I'll even allow my eyes to move as far up as my shins before I have to stop. It's the knees; the knees have aged. They're not so bad in the prone position, but when I stand up, there's this little saggy pin-cushion that sort of drapes over the knee cap. That definitely wasn't there at sixteen.I guess it's safe to say that we age from the top down-- it must be a gravity thing. I was in my thirties when my magnificent, red, curly hair started getting less magnificent. Pregnancy hormones seemed to be involved. During my first pregnancy, my hair stopped curling. During my second pregnancy it started looking more brown than red. After my third pregnancy, my hair as much as gave up and half of it fell out. Now I have nice, wavy, not so magnificent, brownish, short hair. Big blow to the ego!From there it’s just the California mudslide of the face, breasts, stomach, and buttocks. Really, if you can handle that one sentence gracefully, aging is a piece of cake! I’ve watched victims of other natural disasters, in the world and in my own town, handle their losses with such faith and dignity – tsunamis, floods, brush fires, hurricanes. My thoughts (obsessions really) about Botox put me to shame. But my feet, my feet are lookin’ good! I’m too sexy for my feet!I miss the days of driving around town in my little blue Nissan coup when men’s heads would turn and road workers would whistle. It was the magnificent hair mostly. Why is it that nobody seems to wrench their necks when my fifteen-year-old mini-van tools by with the four car seats? Maybe I should try driving it with my feet! So, how do I deal with my own natural disaster further developing as I write? I paint my toenails sparkly bubble-gum pink, I wear sandals whenever possible, and I marvel at how beautiful my inside is becoming. Actually, when I think back to the sixteen-year-old me, the one with the hair and the breasts that had yet to spend eight years nursing babies, and the pin-cushionless kneecaps, I was a train wreck! All that sheer beauty wasted on insecurities, inflated expectations, jerky guys, and fair-weather friends. Some foreign alien seemed to enter my head in my late thirties and decided to clean out and organize. The alien made three piles on my front lawn: throw away, keep, and sell. These are the things the alien threw away: out went the worn out anxieties – anxiety that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough, sexy enough; out went the over-used fears – fear that there will never be such a thing as their college funds, fear that we’ll end up in the poor house, fear that I’ll screw up these four blessed children, fear that I’ll never have a flat stomach again; out went the inflated expectations – the expectation that my house will always be clean, the expectation that my children will always be well behaved and dressed in color coordinated clothes, the expectation that I will meet every want and need of every human being who casts their eyes my way. All of this stuff got put on the curb by the alien and, early one morning was picked up by a garbage truck. I’ve yet to miss any of it. Here are the things the alien let me keep: in went my endless, unabashed love for my amazing husband and four beautiful children. In went a newfound desire to give, to share a little bit of myself every day. In went my unwavering spirituality and a willingness to allow it to lead me down the path of my life. And, in went my sense of humor, my cons[...]



When I first heard of TopBlogMag, I thought it would be an online magazine of the top blog posts out there. I pictured a sort of culling of the best of the best of contributing blogs. A virtual one-stop-shop for new blog finds. In some sense, that is exactly what I found. However, rather than republished posts from blogger's archives, I found creative writing challenges. Daring bloggers to be writers. Daring writers to step out of the comfort zones of their usual content. I immediately signed on. My name is Megan Jordan, from Velveteen Mind, and I'm your new editor, as well as the new owner of TopBlogMag. I am endlessly grateful to Heather for handing me the reigns of her work. She will be missed as editor, but will be enthusiastically welcomed as a frequent contributor. An understatement, indeed. This week's issue is more or less a pseudo-issue. An un-issue. Or, more precisely, a call for more issues. We are in transition and I am calling on you to speak up, step up, and tell me where you would like to see TopBlogMag go from here. Heather has done a fabulous job, so I'd hate to let her down. Let's make her proud. Even better, let's make her totally jealous of the amazing heights we can take TopBlogMag to in the days to come. TopBlogMag is a magazine written by you. Now is your opportunity to make it a magazine designed by you, as well. What new features would you like to see? What are your favorite current features? Anything you'd like to see go? Content changes? Style changes? Rather see me leave it just as Heather has it now? Well, uh, good luck with that last one. I'm a tweaker. In the feature boxes below, I'm going to launch a running poll offering up some of the top suggestions. Play along. Vote for what you would like to see added and what you would like to see discontinued. This is absolutely unofficial, but it will be fun and truly helpful to gather an idea of what direction you would like to take. Don't see your idea listed? Leave a comment or send me an email and I'll add it to the "Brainstorming" feature. I'll start. That's my job now, right? The biggest content change I hope to make is that I would like to open up the submission process to allow you all to submit posts from your personal blogs' old archives. Have a solid post you were particularly proud of but that didn't garner the attention you felt it deserved? Now is the time to dust that baby off and give it new life at TopBlogMag. Opening submissions to include republished content will be the boldest step toward my original impression of what an online magazine titled "TopBlogMag" must be. At its most simple, I would love to see TopBlogMag as a magazine of the top blog posts available. Stumble across a powerful post in someone else's archive and think, "More people should read this!"? Encourage that blogger to send it our way. Building your own "favorite posts" page for your blog and want a more powerful way to highlight your true favorite? This is your platform. At the core, I would like TopBlogMag to reward bloggers forwriting their best content on their own blogs.So many of us spread our writing out among several different sites, frequently farming out our best work to what we perceive as more popular sites, all in a hope to find new readers. Unfortunately, that means that we occasionally neglect our current readers. We drag them all over the internet to read our brilliant musings, when all they want is to cozy up in a familiar place where they can count on the good stuff to be delivered. If we can create a magazine that highlights both creative writing challenges and our own best work from our own best damn blogs, then we'll have something. [...]

And it’s goodbye from me…


Today is a rather bitter sweet day for me.

It is a relief to have the weight of TopBlogMag taken off my already excessively weighed down shoulders and yet it is with a deep sadness and a weird feeling of jealously and protectiveness towards this place that I hand over the reins to Megan from Velveteen Mind.

I would like to thank you all for your help, support and friendship over the last few months, it really has been a pleasure to get to know so many of you, and I want you to know that despite the need I have to free up this extra time in my life, you and TopBlogMag will be sorely missed.

I wish all the best of luck and hope that you keep reading and keep writing as I am sure this place is going to be taken to new and exciting heights under the guidance of Megan.

Goodbye and thank you once again,


Note From the Editor


Secrets, love them or hate them we all have them, but the question today is should they be used as blog fodder or not? We all know it is easier to tell things to people you don't know, people whose reactions don't affect your immediate life, but where does the moral line stand with blogs? Is it the same as telling a stranger in a bar?

Should you reveal your secrets, things that you wouldn't tell the real people in your life for fear of hurting them or embarrassing yourself, to your readers? And can they ever be truly anonymous secrets?

If I was to create a blog with no pictures, no real names or real places, wouldn't the people that knew me know it was really me anyway?

Should a friend or family member stumble across your blog and recognise you do they have the right to be upset about what you have written or should blogs come under the same rules as diaries - ie if you read it you have no right to be upset about what you find in it?

Let me know what you think and don't forget, if you have an idea for a blog post on this weeks theme, secrets, simply email me the url and I shall put a link to your blog in the joining in box below.

Feature Post


Confessions of a Multitasking Mom(image)

Written by Mama Zen from The Zen of Motherhood

When I hear the phrase “multitasking mom,” I get an instant mental picture. I picture a smiling, put-together woman exercising on the treadmill, working her Blackberry, and effortlessly wrangling her children, all at the same time. If only I were that cool! Oh, don’t get me wrong; I can multitask like the most Alpha of moms if I have to. It’s just that my best multitasking takes place . . . on the toilet.

That’s right, on the toilet. Since I became a mom, I have learned how to fully utilize my time on the throne. Here are my secrets for making the most out of one’s potty breaks.

Read the full Feature Post...

Oops, I Did it Again.


Written by: BetteJo from A Bead a Day My dad came into my darkened room and quietly sat on the edge of my bed. He spoke to me but I kept my back to him and refused to acknowledge him. “I will still be your father. I will come and get you and we will go places and do things together.” He may have said more but that is all I would remember. I would remember it always as a promise, as the promise. It may as well have floated in sparkly gold letters above my head – it was the promise my dad made me, it would be the promise he would break over and over again. I loved climbing into my dad’s lap, asking him for bone jarring pony rides or trying to pull out the gray whiskers he would let grow on the weekends. I would sit on the toilet seat and watch him shave at the bathroom sink with something akin to adoration, thrilling in the chase when he would try to gently slap a little of his spicy aftershave onto my cheeks. My daughter had games she played with her daddy, and many naps taken in his arms. He would take her shopping or on errands with him, or swing her up onto his shoulders so she could be so-o-o-o tall. Saturday morning cartoons were a shared treat for all of them, Daddy and his son and his daughter. They would pile together on the couch and laugh at Pee Wee’s playhouse and tickle and giggle. I worked the night shift at the time so weekend mornings were Daddy time, as were weeknights. For a few years he was the one to bathe them and spend that snuggly, warm, sleepy time with them before tucking them into bed each night. It seemed ideal that my kids were having so much of their dad’s influence and hands on parenting instead of getting almost all of their nurturing from me. Mom is great after all, but Mom and Dad is better. There were spaces of time after my parent’s divorce where my dad would call and come by and take me to a picnic, or back to his house for the day. Mostly though, I saw him on weekend mornings when he would come by and hand me the check for my Mom through the screen door. He wouldn’t stay, wouldn’t come in, just give me the check and leave. It didn’t take long for the checks to start coming in the mail and the calls to be fewer and farther between. It also didn’t take long for the knowledge to settle deep in my heart that I didn’t really matter to my dad. I did not recognize the knowledge, certainly did not verbalize it, but lived with the certainty of it as if that was the logical result of my not being good enough. Because I must not have been good enough if even my daddy couldn’t love me, right? I married a man who was nothing like my father. I wanted to spare my children the pain and anguish of an absentee dad who was not about to take responsibility for any emotional wounds he may inflict upon my kids. Our kids. Right? I asked my 21 year old daughter yesterday, whether or not she had responded to her father’s invitation to his upcoming wedding. In her completely logical but heartbreakingly accurate assessment she said; “I feel no pressure, socially or otherwise, to RSVP to my father’s wedding invitation.” She continued in her matter of fact way. “I can’t feel pressure to do something considered to be polite and proper etiquette when he couldn’t be bothered to do something as correct and basic as - to parent.” I can only hope she will not continue the cycle and unknowingly marry a man just like her father, like I did, after all. And I hope she can forgive me for it. ~*~ BetteJo is a single mom of 2 grown kids who beads and b[...]

Confessions of a Multitasking Mom


Written by Mama Zen from The Zen of Motherhood

When I hear the phrase “multitasking mom,” I get an instant mental picture. I picture a smiling, put-together woman exercising on the treadmill, working her Blackberry, and effortlessly wrangling her children, all at the same time. If only I were that cool! Oh, don’t get me wrong; I can multitask like the most Alpha of moms if I have to. It’s just that my best multitasking takes place . . . on the toilet.

That’s right, on the toilet. Since I became a mom, I have learned how to fully utilize my time on the throne. Here are my secrets for making the most out of one’s potty breaks.

• Think deep thoughts. When else will you have the chance?
“Why can’t there be an end to conflict in the Middle East?”
“Why does the girl at the grocery store keep charging me for zucchini when I’ve clearly got cucumbers?”
“Why didn’t I realize that there was no toilet paper before I sat down?”

• Negotiate peace. This will require you to yell at top volume, so it is also fine exercise for the lungs.
“Baby Puppy, mind your Daddy.”
“Tell Daddy I said it’s OK.”
“I said it’s OK!”

• Direct all household activities. Take a moment to bask in the glow of being needed.
“The Shrek Baby is on top of your dresser. Next to the penguin!”
“There’s a new bag of Cheetos in the pantry.”
“Would one of you, please, let the dog out!”

• Tend to personal grooming.
Clip toenails.
Measure your leg hair (ok, that’s just for fun).
Examine that weird mole thingy on your calf.

• Talk on the phone.
Um, yeah. That “whoosh” sound you heard last time you called? Well, now you know.

These are just a few of the tricks that I use to maximize my “potty productivity.” Finding time to pee? Well, if anyone knows that secret, please clue me in!

When she’s not servicing her man or caring for her four-year-old daughter, Mama Zen can be found blogging at The Zen of Motherhood. That is, if she’s not hiding in the bathroom!

My Uncle Jim


By Omega Mom from 3KidsNoJob

Uncle Jim was a much-loved presence in my childhood. He had a double-honorary title. For a start, he wasn’t a blood relative nor an uncle, but a great-uncle by marriage.

There’d been one child, a little girl called Phoebe, who’d died when she was four. She had fits. She was a little odd. You could see it in the old family photographs where she’d be eyeing the camera doubtfully while her cousins beamed and showed off, big, cartwheeling blurs off to one side.

Uncle Jim and my great-aunt, Mary were devastated. The more so when they became close to a sick neighbour’s little girl and offered to adopt her. At the last moment, the mother recovered and decided to take her back.

But there was no sense of life lived under the shadow of grief. It must have been there, but perhaps they made a conscious effort to pack it away when we came to visit.

They loved us unconditionally, just as they’d loved my mother and her brother when they were growing up. We loved them back. For several years, I’d wake up, go to their room, climb into bed with them and share tea and biscuits with them. Then, one summer, my mother suggested that I was getting a little too big for ‘that sort of thing’.

She said it very gently, but I still felt a sudden pang of what felt very like shame, sensing that I’d been betrayed by my size. Too big and too innocent. I never got into bed with them again.

Uncle Jim had an orchard. I’d ride on the bonnet of his tractor, pick the apples, help load them onto the ancient, creaking conveyor belt that circled the big packing room and dropped them with a gentle flump into the padded compartments, big, medium and small, reading for crating up. It was safe, fun, idyllic, a job description of a child’s perfect holiday.

When I came back from the orchard, I’d often read. There was no shortage of choice. There were antique children’s stories in one bookshelf; my great aunt’s detective and ghost tales next to them and, upstairs, Uncle Jim’s small library.

It was here, one day, that I encountered a small volume I’d never seen before. It seemed to be about children, so I started to read it.

It didn’t take long before it dawned on me that it was not quite what I was expecting. It did feature children having exciting adventures but ones which required adult help of a rather peculiar variety.

I stopped reading and put it back. I felt just as I had done when my mother talked to me about getting into bed with Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary. Shamed. As though reading the book had in some way made me a bad person.

It was this sense of being somehow to blame that made me bury the whole event. I didn’t remember it again until years later, when Uncle Jim was dead and the orchard long since grubbed up to make way for a fine crop of executive houses.

It wasn’t a secret I kept deliberately. And I’ll never now know what lay behind it, if anything. All I do know, though, is that my beloved Uncle Jim remained just that, all the time I knew him – beloved. And I can’t help feeling glad.

Written by Omega Mum. Her blog, 3kidsnojob, takes a mainly wry and optimistic but occasionally bitter and twisted look at life without an income.

Catch Me If You Can


Written by Megan Jordan from Velveteen Mind You don’t know me. You think you do, but you don’t. And, no, I’m not saying this as I throw a z-snap in an oh-so-Ricki Lake talk show guest kind of way. Rather, simply, you don’t know me. Sometimes I think you do. But then I surprise you, and your surprise even takes me by surprise. And I realize that you don’t know me. And I like it that way. I am full of surprises. I am full of secrets. I am full of mystery. Okay, maybe I’m not full of mystery, but it’s romantic to think of myself as mysterious. To picture you reading my words and saying to yourself, “I can’t figure her out. I think I have her pegged, but then she brings this to the table.” I adore imagining that I leave you wanting more. It is my romantic version of myself. And we all need one of those. Just as you think you are about to get your hands on who I really am, just as you think you know all there is to know... I slip away into the mist that is my secrets. That which you don’t know. Secrets are the spark of life. They are the fuel of the complex character. They are exhilarating and incendiary. They keep you moving, keep you on your toes, as you surreptitiously work to keep them under wraps or drive yourself to resolve them through revelation. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book, Love in the Time of Cholera, is one of my favorites. A story of unrequited love, it is timeless and passionate and disturbing. The idea that someone could harbor an unreciprocated love for another, for a lifetime, is fascinating. It drove the story in an almost intoxicating manner. In the end, the only way that the love of these two characters could be realized was under secret. Flown under the flag of a feigned cholera epidemic. Secrets can destroy lives. Secrets can give you reason to live. My secrets are not as dramatic as that, despite my romantic notions. However, I like to think of them as just as provocative. I recently wrote my 100th post at Velveteen Mind, acknowledging the milestone with the obligatory 100 Things. I wrote it in a flash, trying to beat the clock before I had to pick up my son from school, publishing it without proofreading and without a second thought. Perhaps I should have thought about it for a second more, because I had surprises of my own waiting for me in my inbox when I returned to my computer. Comments and emails came trickling in, mostly to the effect of, “I had no idea...” and “I can’t believe you posted that.” My own husband remarked, “Um, you were awfully, well, revealing in that post.” It was both a thrill to be able to elicit surprise from friends that have known me for years and also a little unsettling that perhaps I had revealed too much. My point, however, was not to write another hum-drum 100 Things detailing my favorite colors and movies, but rather to write something worth reading through 100 lines. Ultimately, I did not find it particularly controversial, myself, but maybe that is because I was comparing it to what I could reveal to you, but have not. Yet. I am full of surprises. I am full of secrets. I am full of mystery. If you want more of me, come and touch me, grab my hand, take hold of my heart, my mind, my self... if you can hold me. If you can keep me. If you can catch me. Megan reveals her secrets, one post at a time, at Velveteen Mind. She’s always up for a game of truth or dare, so throw yourself in the [...]

39 happy years


Written by Sally Osborn from New Marriages and Old Families

On my grandparents’ 40th wedding anniversary my parents decided to throw them a surprise party. They used to visit us quite often for Sunday lunch anyway, although it was difficult to vary the standard fare of roast meat, roast potatoes and vegetables, since the only other main course my grandfather would countenance eating was shepherd’s pie. None of this curry stuff or any other new-fangled rubbish.

We invited all the aunts, uncles and cousins, and they were hiding in the dining room when my grandparents drove up in their Hillman Hunter, and there was much merriment at the expression on my grandmother’s face when she realised what was happening. But she turned the tables on us a bit later when we were about to toast their 40 happy years. ‘Um, we really need to tell you all something,’ she started, unusually hesitantly. ‘We’ve kept it a secret all this time, but it’s actually only 39 years…’ You could see the cogs turning as all the adults worked out there were then only six months between their actual wedding date and my mother’s birth.

Every family has secrets, but I hadn’t realised quite how many my grandparents had until I started researching my mother’s side of the family tree. My mum’s paternal grandmother had always maintained an air of absolute propriety and starched linen, but it turns out that her husband was born illegitimate, to a mother who had the temerity to have another son on the wrong side of the blanket before she actually got married. And what’s more, said grandmother was housekeeper for the widowed local vicar for years, who on his death left her, by then also a widow, his sizeable house and all its contents. I’m sure we can all draw our own conclusions.

On my grandma’s side, we knew her father was somewhat feckless but mum had always been told he was a schoolteacher and a methodist preacher, so reasonably respectable. Turns out he was really a jobbing gardener, and while he probably was a lay preacher he was also a wife-beating alcoholic who was inconsiderate enough to die at 52, leaving said much younger wife with nine children under ten, including twin girls born after his death. The older children, including my grandmother, were put into service as soon as they were old enough, which in those days was about 11 or 12, otherwise the family wouldn’t have survived.

And my embarrassed grandparents? My mum told me very recently that not only had they obviously slept together before the wedding, he’d also had a roll in the hay with one of grandma’s sisters. Not that she took that kind of misdemeanour lying down, if you’ll forgive the pun – on one occasion she came across him sitting with another girl on the river bank, presumably up to no good, and she pushed him in the water!

Sally Osborn is a writer and publisher from London, recently married for the second time around. Her blog is about the ups and downs of merging two families, as well as her and her husband’s search for the roots in their families’ histories.

Music Review: Song of America


This week’s Voices to Hear is going to be a bit different than pervious ones. Instead of one voice to highlight in this week’s column we’re going to talk about an entire album’s worth of voices. The album is Song of America and it features 50 artists different artists. (What? You didn’t think an album would have a MySpace page? Everyone and everything has a MySpace page nowdays.)If you’ve heard of this album at all it’s due to the identity of the executive producer of the record, Janet Reno. Yes, that Janet Reno, the former Attorney General of the United States. Most of the press has focused on that point, which at least gives it a chance to get out there and maybe be heard.The genesis of the album started ten years ago when Ed Petterson, a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn New York wrote a song about the American cowboy. He brought the song to his Aunt to listen to. His Aunt just happened to be Janet Reno. She liked the song, but suggested that he should go farther than just one song about one point in America’s history. She suggested that he record a collection of songs that would reflect American’s history.What they ended up envisioning was a collection of songs that would trace the events that shaped our nation’s history. The album became a collection that could be used as a tool to help teach the youth of our country about their history through song. The album was divided into five broad themes from America’s history:United We Stand, Divided We FallWar and PeaceWorkFamilies at Home and on the MoveFaith and IdealsThe performers interpreted these songs in their own style for the listeners of today. In some ways it was the same idea that was behind Wilco and Billy Bragg’s updating of Woody Guthrie song’s from Mermaid Avenue. They took the words but made the music their own.The performers came from all sorts of musical genres. The album opens with a Lakota Indian song and ends with a Woody Guthrie song. To list all the performers on this album would stretch this column out too long, but such performers as The Blind Boys of Alabama, John Wesley Harding, Freedy Johnston, Marah, Janis Ian, Elizabeth Cook, John Mellencamp, Old Crow Medicine Show and a host of others. In keeping with the theme of this column almost all of the performers were not well known. John Mellencamp is probably the biggest name on the album.The album is divided into three cds: red, white and blue. The red disc starts with songs from the American Revolution and each disc moves the songs through the history of our country. Some of the songs on these two discs you’ve probably heard a million times and may not have thought of since you were in school. Harper Simon (Paul Simon’s son) does a version of Yankee Doodle, The Mavericks do Dixie, Joni Harms does Home On The Range. The blue disc brings us up to the modern era and has songs that most listeners will be more familiar with, at least from radio. This disc has Kim Richey doing the Rascals “Get Together,” Anthony David doing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” Martha Wainwright doing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” Only one artist is represented by two songs on the album, Bruce Springsteen: Matthew Ryan does “Youngstown” and Bettye LaVette does “Streets of Philadelphia.”This is one of those albums that I was absolutely fascinated with, after listening to it it will make you proud to be an American. And it does it without resorting to the so[...]

Note From The Editor


The 7 deadly sins:
  • Lust? Check.
  • Gluttony? Check.
  • Greed? Check.
  • Sloth? Check.
  • Wrath? Check.
  • Envy? Check.
  • Pride? Check.
What can I say? I'm a sinner.

Or at least I would be if I believed in God.

I think it would be fair to say that I have committed every single one of these sins and then some at one time or another (possibly 2 already this morning) and might even have made up a few more to add to the list, but what does this say about me? Are these sins really relevant in the modern world? Are they still considered deadly sins? Does the fact that I have committed them make me a bad person destined for the gates of hell?

Personally, I believe not (especially the gates of hell thing being an atheist), I think we all have a little anger, envy and pride in us. I would hope so at least, these things are what make us human. Would we rather be perfect, flawless specimens of humanity? Wouldn't the smugness and do-goodness of it all drive you insane? Make you want to drive sharp, pointy implements into the eyes of the next person you witnessed being oh so good? I think it probably would me.

What about you, are you a sinner? Do you find yourself committing one or more of these on a regular basis?

Feature Post



Written by Beth from Sense & Sensibilities

Anger Management

As is typical in religious or moral theology, what we are taught to believe often differs greatly from what is actually written in the Bible. Almost every list of vices, whether it be classic literary works, such as Dante and Chaucer, or modern day films like Se7en, contains wrath or anger as a sin. Yet, when we refer to Proverbs 6, the origin of the now infamous Seven Deadly Sins, neither are mentioned.(image)

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

This prompts the question: Is anger a sin?