This is a special weekend for me.

I’m headed to my hometown to be with my brothers and their wives.

It’s the day, a decade ago, when my mother died, and then my father a week later.

I’ve written about their lives and their deaths before. My mom, a died-in-the-wool Southern lady, all heels and hose, not a hair out of place — a woman who I rarely heard curse but would occasionally say off to the side, “I’d rather eat s _ _ _  than cook.”  My dad, a man who could tell a great joke, a man who loved his family and believed in giving back. We heard stories about both of them after their deaths — stories of my mom making sure some kid in my class felt valued or my dad not charging anything for a service he provided.

They weren’t saints. They had vulnerabilities. They did their best to love us well.

It will be good to be with family.

This weekend is also important for another reason.

Five years ago, in fact on the fifth anniversary of Mother’s death, I published my first blog post. My son always has thought picking that date was a bit odd. I thought at the time, and still do, that she’d find it interesting that I was going public with my thoughts and experiences. I’m not sure she would’ve been thrilled, mind you, but interested.

It’s been healing for me in many ways to write. I started by talking about my son leaving home for college, my “NestAche” as I called it. I missed active mothering and him very intensely for a while. Blogging became my journal, and much to my surprise, some people read it. Then I got more serious about the whole thing, launching a new website — this website that has focused on mental health, midlife, relationships — all the things I talk about every day as a therapist. And more people wanted to read. Three years ago, I began researching and writing about Perfectly Hidden Depression, and as of today, nearly 20,000 people click into this website every month, and thousands of folks are listening to my podcast, SelfWork.

Today I’m launching a new format for — one that I hope you’ll enjoy! It’s still featuring both my weekly blog posts and podcasts, but hopefully is easier to understand and move around.  My dad would like it because it features wonderful graphics and he was quite the photographer. My mom would smile, because there’s a greeting from me to everyone — and that’s good manners.

I have immense gratitude toward Jeannette Balleza Collins for five years of solid support and guidance, to Christine Mathias Farnum for her constant enthusiasm and willingness to take anything on, to Will Collins for creating my new logo and graphics, and to John Crowley, audio engineer extraordinaire. Thanks to Monica Foster of Virtual MoJo for her work on the project as well, and to my office manager, Brenda Beatty, who keeps my practice steady while I try to keep all these balls in the air. This is a team effort, and I’m surrounded by people who lend me, and you, their talents.

For the last five years, my friends have listened patiently to my moaning about early hours or silly worry about number of likes. (That was a stage I had to move through… lol.) They’ve held my hand as I’ve waited to know whether my work was being accepted here or there. They’ve celebrated when it was time to celebrate. They’ve handed me a tissue when I was disappointed. Thank you my dear girl friends — Dina, Susan, Keely, Kindra, Jonelle, Rebecca, Melissa, Martha, Amy –and the guys — Robert, Stuart, David, and Darren —  and to many others who’ve lent their support.

I’m going to risk sounding like someone at an awards show now, so please forgive me. There are blogging and podcasting friends as well — Melissa Schultz, Sarah Fader, Terry McGuire, Barbara Greenberg, Cathy Chester, Midlife Boulevard’s Anne Parris, Better After 50’s Ronna Benjamin and Felice Shapiro, Grown and Flown’s Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan, Margaret Manning of Sixty and Me, Stephanie Buckley and Debbie Arnold of Arkansas Women Bloggers — I’ve met so many wonderful, giving people who’ve offered their advice and encouragement. Brittany Wong of HuffPost, the wonderful folks at The Mighty like Ashley Kristoff and Sarah Schuster, Sorta Awesome’s Megan Tietz, the folks at Family Share… So many…

And then there’s family. (I need that tissue now.) My brothers, Adam and Spencer, gave me their blessing to write about our family, and tell me they’re proud of their baby sister. Their wives, Anne and Debbie write, text, call and message their support and love. And there are my nephews and their wives, who’ve been there from the very beginning, and offer comments and help from the younger generation. My Dallas family, Gay and Tom and their clan, are always curious and asking, “What’s up now?” My son, Robinson?? He’s always been tuned in to his mother, and now is no different.

So, I come to my husband. I literally may have done three loads of laundry in the last five years. He’s taken up all the slack around the house. He just looks at me and says, “Go write. Go do your podcast. (Or “pod” as he calls it.) Keep going.” The real message? “I’ve got your back.” I literally couldn’t have kept on without him.

So I hope you like the new website design and the new podcast graphic. It’s my way of showing you, the reader and/or the listener, how much I appreciate you. Talk about not being able to keep on without you! Thank you for your comments, emails, clicks, shares, questions, and ideas.

I’ve tried to model, and I’ll continue to do so, that taking risks is worth it. It’s easier to stay comfortable, doing only what you know how to do, or only what others around you are doing. It’s been good for me to open up, to learn new skills, to risk the ambiguity of not knowing how my words will be received. I do it because I believe in the power of acceptance and vulnerability. I’ve seen that positive change is possible. I’ve learned from the wisdom of hundreds of patients through the years. As I tell the people who see me in the office, “I’m certainly not right all the time. But I’ll tell you what I’m thinking.”

It’s an honor to have you as a reader. It’s humbling to think you’d take time out of your day to listen in.

You have my true gratitude.

You can hear more about mental health and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to my website and receive one weekly newsletter including my weekly blog post and podcast! If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!

My new book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression has arrived and you can order here! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the many self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions long hidden away that are clouding and sabotaging your current life.

And there’s a new way to send me a message! You can record by clicking below and ask your question or make a comment. You’ll have 90 seconds to do so and that time goes quickly. By recording, you’re giving SelfWork (and me) permission to use your voice on the podcast. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

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