gratitude-a-thon day 2050: kate spade


My little square black nylon Kate Spade evening bag made me feel like a sophisticated and worldly adult, when I was anything, but. My mini backpacks, one black, one maroon featuring that iconic logo, made me feel sporty, but stylish. My oversized black diaper bag, large enough to hold the baby and diapers, made me feel like even though I was a now a mom, I could still be cool and fashionable. My multiple wallets, my cute beaded sandals. I loved everything Kate Spade. She was the sweet side of New York. The whimsical side of adulting.


The old logo. I loved this logo, still do.


I coveted that logo and all it meant to me. A feeling of being a modern and successful grown-up. Walking down Newbury Street to my jobs in advertising, I wore my bags and swung my arms and held my head up high. I hadn’t quite arrived, but my bag most certainly made me feel like I was on my way. I was nervous in her Back Bay store, like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. I carefully touched the nylon bags, ran my fingers lightly over the leather and quietly and internally swooned. Her quirky style, bold colors, natural and unfettered charm and that adorable updo, I still wear to this day, made Kate my aspiration. She was soaring, but she seemed down to earth.  She was cute, but reeked of a particular sophistication that her beautifully designed logo allowed you to share with her. She made coming-of-age bags. And then, so much more.



Fresh thinking, sophisticated and charm for days. 

I felt shaken by the news of her death yesterday, particularly saddened that it was a suicide. My daughter said, “How could she kill herself, she was so successful?” And of course, she was. And of course, that matters little if you’re depressed.



I loved my back packs.


Kate Spade’s creativity and brilliance helped me grow up. And as a grown up, I now say to you, if you’re feeling unendingly sad, or depressed and like it just won’t get better, or you know someone who is, make a call, reach out. Kate had a unique take on the world. So do we all. We need you. The number for the suicide prevention line is 1-800-273-8255.

Thanks, Kate.


Again. A-fucking-gain






Seventeen this time. Seventeen lives lost because a mentally ill boy had access to a gun.

And the president sends his “prayers and condolences,” and congress sends their thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers are a good sound bite, but they can’t bring back the dead. Thoughts and prayers are nothing to a family who will grieve the rest of their lives because they sent their child to school. So, like, take your thoughts and prayers and shove them up your ass.

We have moved beyond thoughts and prayers. We have moved into a space where none of us are really safe anymore. These shootings are taking place everywhere. Schools, movie theaters, churches, nightclubs, concerts.

But it’s probably not time to talk about it. You know, the dead and all. We should just send our thoughts and prayers and not be disruptive. We can talk about it when the grieving is over, except for it will never be over and this mass shooting will turn into the next mass shooting and the next and the next.

Did you know that 15 of the 20 worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred since  Columbine in 1999?  The five worst shootings have all occurred since 2007, and three of those five were in 2016 and 2017.

People say if we didn’t do anything after Sandy Hook, where little kids were the victims, we never will. But the thing is, we can. We can do something and it’s up to each of us to react. This is a take to the streets moment. Because if you think, you think you’re safe, your kids aren’t going to be the victims, those you love would never be in this situation, you’re kidding yourself. You. Are. Kidding. Yourself.

This is not an easy problem to solve, but doing nothing and relying on thoughts and prayers to battle the issues of mental health and easy access to guns is not even trying.

We have to do better before this escalates. And make no mistake, it is escalating. If you’re depressed, it is now an option to wipe out a public place with a gun that’s as easy to get as a box of Wheaties.

What can you do today?

Call your congressman. Call your senators. Watch out for one another. Be alert. If there is strange behavior in a neighbor or a child’s friend, or your child, a co-worker or anyone else you come into contact with, consider what you can do, who you could tell. Help to de-stigmatize mental illness by talking about it openly.

We need to take care of each other. It’s our only hope. Us. Each of us.


gratitude-a-thon day 878: open your mouth

Crazy outpouring for my daughter’s bravery in talking about her bout with anxiety and depression. Calls, texts, emails all telling me how this is just what’s needed to de-stigmatize mental health issues–people who talk about them as if they’re like any other health issue.

A year and a half ago, my amazing friend Katie took her life because she had intractable bi-polar disorder. She had tried everything to battle her disease. In the end, that mother fucker won out. It’s an unspeakable tragedy.

So, here’s to you, Katie. I am quite sure you’re watching. Ally’s trying to help the cause in her small way by opening her mouth and hoping others will open their minds. I know you are proud of her.

So am I.

gratitude-a-thon day 601: tell someone


In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I’ve been seeing article on mental illness all over the place, but I thought this was a good one to share. A whopping 31% of people struggling with mental illness don’t want to seek treatment because they fear being judged. Sweet Jesus, make it stop. We need to open up the damn windows on this subject, and air out the room. Please be mindful of those around you who might be suffering in silence. Please talk openly about depression. It’s our world to change. Let’s all do our part. And if you are so inclined, please give to the kick ass organization Cure Alliance. 

gratitude-a-thon day 413: being real about fucking depression


A lot of people read this blog yesterday. In fact, it got more than 1,100 hits. I’m guessing it’s less about me being an extraordinary writer, than it being about the confusing news that someone who was so absurdly beautiful, so wildly intelligent and so filled with a supersonic life force could possibly be dead. And while it confused me too, while it made me reflexively scream out a searing guttural sound when I heard the news, I also knew the reason.

“For the last few years Katie has been fighting a severe and intensifying form of bipolar disorder – a disease which ultimately took her life,” said the announcement of her death made by her husband, son and brother. This wasn’t common knowledge. And now it is. And the bravery this took to make public, to state the simple truth, creates awareness of all kinds of depression. Because who better to be the face of depression than a girl who looked like Katie, who had everything, who in fact, was everything.

Katie told me she wanted to tell people about her disease, because she knew she could do more good that way. But she was concerned about the stigma for her son (and she was all about her son). And there it is– one of the biggest problems with mental illness: the fucking stigma. You can have cancer and continue to be a well respected citizen, getting sympathy, offers of help, people understanding that this isn’t something you chose, or that you can control. But if you have mental illness, people get uncomfortable, wonder why you aren’t just using your will power to stop being crazy. The thing is, that it’s just the same as cancer. It’s a disease. It’s not about being too lazy to do better.

Mental illness is rampant. And it’s not Jack Nicholson in the Shining. It affects ordinary people like your neighbor, like the barista who makes your coffee. Captains of industry have it, and foodies, fashionistas and athletes, policemen, students, doctors, lawyers and indian chiefs. It’s organic, like farm fresh eggs, and we need to do better. WE NEED TO DO BETTER. No, there is not enough affordable help out there, but before that very complicated part, there is this part: the stigma part. That’s not something that has to cost a lot of money to fix. It’s something we can all do our part in changing. Watch out for the signs in the people you know, the people you love. Talk about it as a disease like cancer, that it’s never a choice. Don’t glorify it, but normalize it. Display an attitude that lets those around you know you won’t run shrieking from the room if they ante up the guts to tell you they feel depressed. We need to do better. And we can. Each of us. Let’s take it on. For all of us. For Katie.

From her family’s announcement:

To honor Katie’s memory, donations can be made to
The International Society for Bipolar Disorders; c/o Chad Daversa, P.O Box 7168, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please note on the check ‘In Memory of Katherine McQuade Toig.’


gratitude-a-thon day 360: addiction and depression, not funny at all

484f7c1c7f0bdfb9d9b6df4ba348f68fe4ad96daYesterday I talked about addiction and depression, and about how all the funniest people have them (trend alert: addiction and depression are the new black). But the truth is there is really nothing funny about either of them, although humor is so frequently used to deal with both. I know for myself, the daughter of an alcoholic, I have used humor all my life to minimize the self-doubt, fear, and anxiety my father bequeathed me. He’s not getting a thank you note for that inheritance, I can tell you.

So many people I’ve known who suffer from addiction and depression are highly intelligent, hilarious, and extremely compassionate. They are, in fact, some of the best, brightest, most interesting and creative people I’ve known. Underneath my dad’s alcoholism was a super smart,  curious, and funny man. He was quirky, liberal-minded, and open. He loved theater and music and good books, and worshipped at the alter of the kitchen, and the New York Times (You can read more about him here).

But seeing anything good about him was, and still is hard for me, because I still have so much anger toward his unacknowledged addiction to alcohol, his associated depression. I have never forgiven him for not getting help, for not admitting that he had a problem. If he had tried and failed, I believe I would feel differently, but the pain he left in his wake, the havoc he wreaked, by looking at us like we were the crazy ones when we pleaded with him to get help, made all of us suffer in a profound, long lasting way. And that is something that I can’t seem to forgive, no matter how much money I spend on therapy (and let’s just talk about how many summer houses I have provide the therapeutic world).

I don’t like carrying anger around, like a hump on a camel’s back. I don’t want to continue lugging this part of my life with me everywhere I go. And yet, I can’t leave it unguarded for even a minute’s time, as if protecting it is somehow proving something, allowing my dad to get off free of responsibility. I know, I know, if he had cancer, would I feel the same?

As I watch celebrities publicly lose their lives because they are addicts, or suffer from depression, or bonus points: suffer from both, hear all the social media chatter, read and watch endless accounts of what addiction does to a person, I find interestingly that I can have compassion, and feel genuine sadness for John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Williams. I can see the tortured souls in them. I can see how it’s not a choice, but a sickness. But when it comes to my own father, there is no softening, nothing remotely like forgiveness that I can muster. He remains separate in my mind. A criminal of sorts. I give him no get out of jail card for his illness, no understanding. All I have is anger at the amount of baggage he left his family to check at every pit stop on the road of life. “Porter! Over here. I need some help.”

I wonder how many more celebrities I will watch lose their battles. I wonder how many more will tug at my heart, before I understand that my dad was one of them.

gratitude-a-thon day 359: “O Captain! My Captain!”

His eyes always twinkled. He had one of those faces that looked like the sun just broke through the clouds.


Some of the pee-my-pants funniest people I know have struggled with addiction and depression–those two lovers, that so often go hand in hand. They are diseases we look down on, think that they come from a lack of willpower. We say “buck up,” and yet, oddly, these take-over-your-life afflictions seem to result in people who often make us laugh the hardest. Oh, the fucking irony.

Robin Williams was one of those people, born with the twin demons. And he made us guffaw and giggle our heads practically off of our bodies. He did jokes and voices with the agility and speed of an olympic skier on a slalom course. And just as adeptly he could make you cry with his sincerity. A quick wit and a big heart. His range was boundless in movies as diverse as Mrs. Doubtfire, in which he played drag better than the pros, and Good Will Hunting, in which he played a therapist who changes the life of a Southie genius, while healing himself at the same time. And then of course, there was Dead Poet’s Society. “O Captain! My, Captain!” I seem to be one of the only people in advertising who was dramatically moved by the recent Apple iPad commercials, (legions of people hated these) in which Robin did the voice over, and quotes Walt Whitman:

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

He sold those words to me like nobody else could, with a depth and emotion that got me in my gut. As I type them, I can hear his passionate resonating voice echo through me. He contributed more than a verse. He contributed a million volumes. If we’re really lucky, he will have contributed more awareness to addiction and depression, too. Ah, nanu, nanu.