Writing With A Ghost Over Your Shoulder

I once read or heard somewhere the expression, “Don’t write with a ghost over your shoulder.

I love to write and writing comes very easily to me. I write whatever is in my heart at the time and that seems to be working just fine.

Yet sometimes, I pause and hold certain things back.

This I’ve learned, is called writing with a ghost over your shoulder.

Maybe that ghost is the fear of negative opinions or judgments. It could be not wanting to disclose something that might offend, upset or make others feel uncomfortable.

It may be something from your past or present that you are hesitant to reveal.

Your fingers glide across the keyboard, then you glance over your shoulder at that ghost and say to yourself, I can’t write that…

Backspace, backspace, backspace.

Authentic writing is writing with the freedom and courage to honestly express what you want to express, without self-editing.

It should be every writers goal to exercise their own voice and write honestly from the authentic experiences that surround them.

It has certainly become my goal.

I struggle to rid myself of the ghost over my shoulder…Yet, I know that each time I push through my fear, ignore the ghost and post my writing anyway, the ghost loses his power.

The other day, Katherine from Mind Movies texted me and said, “I love your blog! You’re so honest and authentic, that’s why it’s so enjoyable to read!”

Take that, ghost over my shoulder!

Maybe it’s time for you to go find some other writer to haunt!



So Excited to Receive the Growing Self Blogger Award!

I’d like to thank Linda of the Maine Paper Pusher for nominating My Life I Swear for the Growing Self Blogger Award. I graciously and humbly accept. It makes feel so good that I make her “laugh out loud for real!” I think that is the highest compliment that she could have given me and it does mean a lot.

Please head on over to visit Linda’s blog at


You won’t be disappointed!

The Maine Paper Pusher shares great stories, with a perspective that keeps you scrolling.

Also, a big shout out to Roda of Growing Self and (and the creator of this award) her beautiful inspirational blog is a must! You can visit Growing Self at


Awards are a great way to give recognition and to our fellow bloggers!


“The Growing Self Blogger Award has been created to acknowledge and celebrate amazing individuals, in the blogging community, who are persevering through life’s challenges not only to GROW as individuals but to reach out and help others GROW as well.” ~Roda


  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank the individual that nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Describe the award and mention the creator: Roda  – Growingself.blog
  • Nominate up to 5 blogs.  Remember, the purpose of this award is to specifically celebrate those individuals that make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Give 1 reason why you nominated each individual.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog


  1. Houston Photo Journey – If you haven’t check out this blog, or if you’ve ever wanted to visit Houston Texas (Or maybe you don’t yet know that you do), this is the blog for you! Filled with beautiful photography and an adventure in every post, you’ll want to keep coming back for more.

Here’s the link to Houston Photo Journey:


Thank you again to Linda at the Maine Paper Pusher and to Roda at Growing Self. You are both awesome!

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny…My Heart is Broken”

I can’t say that I expected to be writing this tonight, but unfortunately, I am.

I just got the news today that my Uncle Jack, my dad’s best friend, and a dear friend of ours, has passed away. Jack was the man who said, “Johnny,  Johnny, Johnny, you’ll never be bored.” and also my inspiration for a series of blog posts, and for that matter, my blog.

But Jack was so much more than that.

Jack was there for me since I was a baby, then a child and forever more. Our relationship evolved over my lifetime but especially grew during my adulthood. Jack was a kind and gentle spirit.

He was my strength when I left my marriage in 2010, while living alone in North Carolina, where I had no other family.

He was a supportive note in the mail…an encouraging word.

He was also the reason that I got custody of my three boys, after four long months of being alienated and estranged from them by my ex-husband.

One day I went out to my mailbox and found an envelope from Jack. I opened the card to find a crisp one hundred-dollar bill and a note that said, “Use this money to find yourself a new husband. Love, Jack.”

I laughed.

Jack always made me laugh.

I couldn’t believe that he sent me one hundred dollars. I spent a lot of time contemplating the best way to use it to do Jack’s generous gift justice.

I was depressed, broke and longing for my children.

I thought about his words…there was no way that one hundred dollars was going to get me a new husband or get my kids back. (I wasn’t sure that I wanted a new husband anyway, but I knew that Jack wanted me to be happy)

After much introspection, I decided that the best thing to do with Jack’s money was to be practical. I had a court date coming up and I was in desperate need of a haircut. I had left my ex-husband with a half a trash bag of clothes and had nothing decent to wear to court the following week.

I headed to Great Clips, got my hair cut and made a stop at the mall and bought a sexy, new pair of heels.

A short shopping trip at Goodwill, finished the clothing aspect of my outfit and I was relieved that I had something decent to wear to court. Thank you Jack. I was grateful.

The day of my court hearing was finally here. I showered, dressed and arrived on time. The judge extended my current ten-day restraining order and put a new, year-long restraining order in place that included no contact of any kind, in person, by phone or by text, all of which were enforceable by law.

After returning from court, I laid on my living room couch, emotionally and physically exhausted. I missed me kids. I was losing the steam to keep up the fight but I knew that somehow I would never give up.

Thank God for my dear friend Sue who came over to console me and cook dinner to make sure that I ate.

My cell phone rang and I reluctantly answered it.

“Hello.” I said in a whisper.

“You looked so good at court today. I loved your haircut and your shoes.” I heard my ex-husband say into the phone.

“Who is it Sue asked?”

I was too shocked to reply.

I couldn’t believe that my ex-husband had broken the restraining order within hours of it being put into place.

Jack’s card and generous gesture ultimately resulted in me gaining custody of my three boys.

Who would have thought?

Not Jack, and certainly not me.

Soon afterward, I returned to Connecticut.

Jack and I made it a point to see each other and speak on the phone often.

Over the years, we shared many confidences. He was always there for me and we leaned on each other when my father died.

He encouraged my writing and shared it with the people that he cared about.

Jack called me weekly and would say, “Erin Cooper Reed, are you writing?”

Uncle Jack, I am and I’m doing it right now with a broken heart to try to cope with living without you in my life.

I know that you loved people, you loved cats, volunteered at the church, attended daily mass and opened the church doors every morning with the keys that you were entrusted with.

I know that you prayed to the Blessed Mother and took walks where you found money and sent it to people in need. (One of which was me.)

I know that you never thought that you did anything important with your life because you told me this yourself and I told you that you were wrong…

And you are.

Jack, you are an angel and I, as well as others, will miss you from the depths of our souls.

You touched my life.

You made a difference.

I’m crying, yet I know that you are with God, the Blessed Mother (Who you loved so) your parents, your son and your family.

I have reached the end of this post and the end of a box of tissues.

My heart is broken and all I can do is write…I think you’d be proud, even in my grief.

Thank you from the depth of my heart. Heaven has gained an angel. Say hi to my dad for me. and know that I miss you already.

I love you Uncle Jack.

I only wish that a got to kiss your head, hold your hand and tell you that I love you just one more time.

I hope that you know, and I hope that I continue to make you proud.

Erin Cooper Reed

Ah, Texting. Remember To ALWAYS Pause Before You Hit Send

I was at work when I received this text from John.

“Damn, the sex was good last night! I woke up with my underwear on backwards and my T-shirt inside  out.” 

I laughed.

Then he texted me this…

“I meant to text that to you, but I accidentally texted it to Matthew.” (His son)

I laughed until I could hardly breathe.

I text back.

“OMG! What did he say?”

John replied.

“Dad, was that meant for me?”

John text him back.

“No. Sorry, that was meant for Erin.”

This holiday weekend, don’t drink and drive.

Don’t drink and text.

And, remember…ALWAYS pause before you hit send!

Happy Memorial Day!

Erin Cooper Reed



Infertility: It Sucks! No Argument There. How I Found Some Humor Just To Get By

My ex-husband and I had decided to wait five years before we started our family. After one full year of trying to conceive our first child, we were faced with the reality that we had an infertility problem. The closer that I crept to the “Big 30”, the more I began to panic.

My OBGY did the blood work and ran all of the necessary tests. I felt like a human pin cushion and went from passing out when having blood drawn, (And coming to, underneath the chair I had been sitting in) to taking every needle like a champ. I was so proud of myself even though I secretly cringed over every baby shower invitation that I got, as I fought to hold back my tears.

If you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m taking about.

Then it came time to check if ex-husband’s reproductive system was functioning properly. The doctor explained that not only did my ex-husband’s sperm sample have to be driven and dropped off a lab 30 minutes away, but it also had to be kept warm.

At this point I wanted a baby so desperately, I would have done basically anything asked of me to make motherhood a reality.

What I didn’t consider, was that my ex-husband would have to go from the doctor’s office straight to work… and that would mean that I would be the one transporting the container of sperm.

“Okay, give me the address and I’ll bring it.” I said to the doctor.

She quickly scribbled down the address, handed me some paperwork and said, “Keep the container against your body, it has to stay warm. Go straight there and get there as soon as possible.”

I was as nervous carrying this thick, lidded plastic container as I would have been holding my fragile offspring for the first time… and actually, I somehow felt like I was  responsible for transporting half of my unborn child.

What to do? I was wearing a short, tight T-shirt and a pair of size 3 jeans. I pulled out the front waistband and tucked, what could be my future child, snuggly into the front of my pants.

The container was rather large in circumference and was totally visible, protruding from my jeans.

Oh, well. I thought, I’ll just have to get it there as fast as I can. No detours. No stops. Straight to the lab.

My heart was racing as I buckled my seatbelt and began to drive.

At every red light I looked down to make sure that the container was secure and intact. A half an hour ride seemed torturous under the circumstances. I was a third of the way to my destination when I realized that I was lost. (These were pre-GPS and cell phone days and I was on edge every minute of the long ride.)

Breathe. Focus. Drive. Hurry. Get there. You’re doing great I told myself.

Until… I saw the flashing red lights in my rear-view mirror.

“Oh, God. Please tell me I am NOT getting pulled over!

Image result for images of police sirens during the day

Sigh. Yes, I am.

I pulled at my shirt.

Why did I wear this short, tight shirt today, of all days, I thought, as I moved my car to the side of the road and put it into park.

The officer approached the car as I slowly lowered the window.

“License and registration.” A deep voice ordered.

Just my luck. Why couldn’t it have been a female cop?

My hands were shaking as I passed my identification and registration through the window. Oh, God. I’m loosing precious time, I thought, as I rubbed both of my hands across my forehead.

I knew that the cop was just doing his job and running my license and registration, yet it seemed like an eternity.

I nervously re-adjusted my pants.

There was a tap on the window.

“You do know that you were going 35 in a 25 mile zone?” He stated and questioned at the same time.

“I’m not sure.” I stuttered, feeling like I was going to throw up.

“Ma’am, what is that you’re concealing in your pants?” He asked.

I froze and I could feel my face turning both hot and red. I didn’t reply.

“I asked you a question.” He said before adding, “Please step out of the vehicle.”

I complied as my heart rate accelerated and I felt my insides twist.

Is he going to arrest me? I thought. Oh, my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. How am I going to explain this to the cop, or worse yet, to my parents?

I slowly opened the passenger door.

“Stand against the car and remove the concealed container.” He ordered.

“I can’t.” I stated, while I refrained from saying, over my dead body!

“Ma’am, I pulled you over for speeding and I don’t think that you also want to be charged with refusal to cooperate with an officer.” He stated.

“Look. I know this sounds crazy… but I’m just trying to have a baby and… well, we’re having some infertility problems. My doctor asked me to drive my husband’s sperm specimen to the lab and get it there quickly. I am refusing to take it out of my jeans because I have to keep it warm. If you want to arrest me, then arrest me… but please do it after I get my husband’s sperm to the lab.” I pleaded.

An expression crossed over the officer face like my story trumped the ticket he was going to give me. I’m sure that back at the police station, the officers love to exchange stories to see who can top all of the rest for the most outrageous or original situation of the day. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that my ordinary traffic stop propelled him into first place.

“What’s the address that you’re going to?” He asked with a new demeanor.

I retrieve the crinkled paper from my car and handed it to the officer.

“Follow me. ” He said with a smile.

I may be the first or only woman to have a police escort to deliver her husband’s sperm to a lab, but I honestly don’t know for sure.

But I do know this… it was all worth it and I would do it a hundred times over to have my son, Kevin.

There is no greater joy on this earth than being a mom!

This post is dedicated to a very dear friend and her husband, that I love deeply. They are struggling with infertility and enduring much more than a possible speeding ticket. I won’t divulge either of their names, but I ask that you take a moment and say a prayer that God blesses them with a healthy, beautiful baby in their near feature.

Much love,

Erin Cooper Read

My Life, I Swear