Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Almost a Shoplifter

My teens and I went to Walmart to get some sleds. After picking out the coolest sleds we could find, we rounded the corner, and something made me stop.  It was a blue Tony Hawk stunt bike – classic, only $49 bucks, and the perfect size for my 9 year old nephew.

I called my sister. “Tami, I know we don’t do gifts for the kids, but there’s this bike.  I don’t know why, but I’m supposed to buy it.”

Tami said, “Well... Ryly’s bike was stolen out of the shed last week, and we don’t have the money to get him a new one.”

Hanging up the phone, I said, “Okay, kids, we’re getting that bike for Ryly.  He won't care that it’s the cheapest bike in Walmart.”

We took our treasure to the checkout counter, when it rang up at $124, I nearly choked. I said, “Can you double-check that price?”

“The bike is $124,” the clerk snapped. “The numbers don’t even match on that price tag.”

A line began to form behind me; impatient shoppers gave me the stink-eye. The checkout clerk called the supervisor, and together they discovered the $49.99 tag had been taken from some other item. Twenty minutes later, when the Supervisor rang for the Assistant Manager, I started to get scared.

Maybe they thought I was trying to steal the bike! The thought made me shiver. But the surveillance tapes will save me…Shit! The surveillance tapes! They’ll see my kids and me riding the bikes up and down the aisles! They’ll see us stopping at the accessory aisle to fill the tires with air!  They'll see...

My thoughts were interrupted when the Supervisor said, “What are we going to do?”
The Assistant Manager said, “We’re going to give them the bike for $49.99.”

And that’s how, my children learned the power of giving. I wish you could’ve seen my nephew riding his Tony Hawk stunt bike: no shoes, no jacket, all smiles.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Kids on the Bus Told Me...

Do you have a scrooge dragging down your holiday spirit? Or do you wish it was Halloween, so you could put on the witch costume? Are the radio stations, cranking out their Christmas tunes, making you feel like running your car into a tree? Or maybe buying DVDs, iPods and Kindles has you longing for simpler times, when parents gave gifts like sleds and bikes.

If so, maybe this story will bring you back to a trouble-free time in your life – a time when school was fun and spinach was disgusting. Think back to when your only worry was wondering if Santa got that letter you mailed him, and if he’d overlook that ball you chucked through the neighbor’s window. Remember? Remember waiting in line for your turn to tell the big guy that special gift you’d been wanting…since almost last Christmas, even?

My sister Randi was talking to her her eight year old son, Dean, and it went something like this:

Dean: “Mom, the kids on the bus told me there’s no such thing as Santa.”
Randi: “They don’t believe? Well, I feel sorry for them.”
Dean: “Mom. I’m not a little kid anymore, you know.”
Randi (fighting back tears): “I know. You’re a big boy.”
Dean: “You can't fool me.  I know the truth about Santa. All these Santas in the mall and on T.V. are fake.  The real Santa’s home making all the toys. Right, Ma?”
Randi: “Cant fool you, Deany.”

I found my Christmas spirit through the eyes of an eight year old. Where'd you find yours?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Wish Mom Wore a Bra

My son said to me, “Why do you always wear grey?”

I said, “Because I like to wear grey.”

When I was a kid, I wished my mom wore poodle skirts and sweater sets. I wished she wore a checkered apron and she served us home cooked meatloaf dinners. Hell, I wished she just wore a bra when she met my teachers.

Maybe my kids wish I were different. Maybe they wish I looked like the women in magazines. Like that girl who married Tom Cruise – she always looks put together. They should sign me up for “What Not to Wear” and I could show all the viewers just how inept I am at looking the way a woman should look. They’d cut my hair and buy me a hounds-tooth jacket with matching designer shoes and I’d look perfect. Right?

Probably. But I don’t want to look perfect. I’d rather feel perfect and I'd rather let my kids see the real me. The me that wears grey sweatshirts to parent-teacher conferences. The me that spells worse than a third grader. And the me that has worn the same hairstyle for the past twenty years.

Do I still wish my mom was different? Sometimes. I still wish she wore a bra more. But wearing her ripped jeans and second-hand specials, my mother taught me to ignore the judgment of others.

Do I wish I was different? Sometimes. But most of the time I’m quite happy to be me. Ripped jeans, t-shirt, and a no-name I-forgot-where-I-put-it pocketbook. And sometimes… when I want to… I break out the designer outfit and kick-it Vogue-style. Just for me.

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A special thanks to Judie - from Rogue Artists.  She graciously helped me break the block!  Go checkout her blog here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's She Thinking?

My daughter took this picture using the timer on her camera. She edited it with picnik.  How I wish I had the creativity of a child.  What's she thinking?  Only two weeks left of summer vacation.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jump off the Balcony

Got writers block? Jump.
Agents rejecting you? Jump.
Someone said your writing is rambling? Jump.

My kids are always jumping off our second floor balcony. Don’t ring up Social Services… they land on the couch.

Today I decided to try it myself. I climbed over the railing and stood on the edge. “I was a kid once. I used to do back flips off diving boards twice this high.”

The kids cheered, “Jump Mom,” and “You can do it,” followed by, “Don’t be scared.”

And you know what? I didn’t jump. Why? Because I’m forty-two-freakin’ years old. I hung my head and took the walk-of-shame down the stairs.  I complain all the time about wanting to have the exuberance of youth, yet when faced with an opportunity to feel the excitement, I held back.

It got me thinking. Where else in my life am I afraid?

I thought about my book. Because when you’re writing, everything pertains to the book, right? I thought about the never-ending editing cycle, the queries... the rejections.  And I am afraid.

Here are examples of how I stopped being afraid and started jumping:

I’ve got writer’s block.
I forced myself to finish my chapter. Here’s what I did:
- I put my pad and paper in a baggie and rowed myself up a river in a canoe.
- I asked my kids to write the ending. Kids have magical insight.
- I wrote naked.  I wrote while eating.  I wrote while cooking.
- I took a road trip. Pen and paper in my lap.
- I set the alarm for 3 A.M. to write. I wrote some incoherent stuff about root beer and went back to bed.
Someone said my writing is rambling.
I considered, for a moment, that my chapter was rambling. Scary thought.  I read that chapter over and over again. I forced friends to read it too. I read a book on writing skills.  I know. I know. I’m rambling.  Finally, I gave in.  I rewrote that damn chapter and it’s glorious.

"You'll never publish a memoir unless your famous." 
I submitted my memoir to ten more agents.

Sometimes when we’re standing at the edge,
we don’t need anyone to talk us down.
We just need a push.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sorry Eleanor Roosevelt, but I disagree

PhotobucketEleanor Roosevelt said, "It takes courage to love..."  Sorry Eleanor, but I disagree. I think it’s easy to love.

There was a time in my life when I loved him and he loved another. Lying alone on the cold tile of our bathroom floor I wished I didn’t love. I wondered what was wrong with me. I wished I was her and I prayed for courage.

Many years later I can see clearly now: It’s easy to love. It takes courage to stop loving.

As a young mom I held my babies close. I memorized every freckle on their little noses. I knew the origin of each bruise and scrape. It’s 10 o’clock and I’m picking up my teens from the movie theatre. Cell phones and bras replace the pacifiers and diapers. I bite a nail for each minute I wait to see them safely enter my car. Tonight, when they’re fast asleep, I’ll hold them tight again.

Everyday my children teach me: It’s easy to love. It takes courage to let go.

I kept a journal of poems all through my life. Every now and then I would read a few to someone special, someone safe. Blogging has opened me up to an audience of passionate, intelligent, funny and sometimes crazy women. I read your blogs and I’m in love. I envy the freedom you have with your words. How can I be that funny or poetic? I hit the “publish” button and cringe. I read my post a dozen times and it never sounds good enough.

Blogging forces me to remember: It’s easy to love. It takes courage to let others love you.

This was my first guest post on: The Scoop on Poop

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ice Cream for Breakfast

Today The Drama Mama over at The Scoop on Poop gave me a shout-out and tomorrow I'll be a guest writer on her blog.

She asked me to write about the words “Love” and “Courage”.
I smuggly said, “Love and Courage. No problem. Got that covered.”

I finished my coffee ice cream then opened my journal to begin writing.  Then it happened.  Nothing.  I had nothing profound or interesting to say about Love and Courage. 
An old quote got lodged in my head.. ”It takes courage to love…” by Eleanor Roosevelt
Not unique, not my favorite quote, and not even sure I agree with it.

I insited, "Go away Eleanor" but she remained.  Finally I gave in and began reading other quotes by the amazing Eleanor (was she ever without insight?).  I stumbled across this one and my mind was free:

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face... Do the thing you thing you cannot do.” by Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt gives me inspiration today to write
without the fear of judgment.

Wish me luck in finishing my guest post.
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Please support me with your honesty.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don’t be the victim of your own glass ceiling.


If you don’t strive to attain what you feel might be unattainable,
you will never really know the limits of your potential.
I believe we fall victim to our own limitations every day.

Wikipedia defines Glass Ceiling as:
Ceiling: “a limitation blocking upward advancement”
Glass:"transparent because the limitation is not immediately apparent”

Break the Ceiling
Shatter it, climb up and don’t look down.
Here are 5 steps to help you find that ceiling:
(after all, it’s invisible and you might not even know where you put it!)

  1. Pick one aspect of your life that you want to progress or a new goal you feel is unattainable.
    (for example: money, job, family, blog, writing, preaching, coaching)

    Me:   I want to be a published author.
  2. Find an example of someone who has achieved your unattainable goal.
    Me:   There are so many, how can I choose? Ok.. here are two of my favorites.  Both of these women are accomplished authors of memoirs.

    Sarah Saffian author of Ithaka: A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found
    Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love
  3. Tell yourself why you CAN'T do what they did.
    Me:   I can’t be a published author because: I’m not famous. I don’t have a degree in English or writing. I don’t have an agent. I don’t have the financial means for editors or publicist. I’m just a jersey girl, ex computer geek, who knows nothing about publishing a book. Wow… I feel worse now than I did before this exercise.
  4. Take off the blindfold, you’ve just found your ceiling.
    Me:   Ok… All of the reasons stated in #3 are true. I can’t change them. BUT… my ceiling is that I ASSUME these are reasons I won’t get published. If I let these doubts rule me, then I won’t even try, hence the ceiling. If I let my own limitations prevent me from climbing, then one thing is certain, I will never get there.
  5. What next?
    Seeing clearly is the first step to success.
    Tune in next week for: How to keep yourself from keeping you back

Now go. Find your ceiling and let us all know about it.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

A Bath, a Book, a Cup of Tea

Tonight I reserve just for me
A bath, a book, a cup of tea
My day was spent just like the rest
Job and family, I do my best

Laundry, bills, some dishes too
Come, I’ll read that book to you
Dress-up time is always fun
Kids in bed, the day is done

Fast asleep my children lay
This I’ve waited for all day
To take some time to pamper me
My bath, my book, my cup of tea

To your bedside I am drawn
Touch your cheeks, how they are warm
Reaching down to kiss your hair
I close my eyes and say a prayer

Someday you’ll be grown up too
Now’s the time for me and you
So in the bed with you I lay
My bath can wait just one more day.
                                    - Buffi  2002

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Live and Love…Out Loud      BWS tips button   friday-follow

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Someone said to me... (week 2)

Someone said to me, “You need to wait until you’re married.”
I said, “I’m sorry I can’t. I just turned fifteen.”
Read how I got there

Someone said to me, “You need to wait until you're married.”

I rolled my eyes and said, “I know, Dad. Wait ‘till I’m married. You’ve told me that a million times already. Don’t you trust me?”

“Trust you?” Dad replied with his fist clinched and quickly loosing blood flow. “Of course I trust you. It’s that boy I don’t trust!”

I smiled and went in for a hug, “Oh, Dad, you really are ridiculous. He loves me and he would never make me do anything I don’t want to do, so there is nothing to worry about. You are so old-fashioned! Most of my friends have already done it, you know.”

As the words were falling out of my mouth I tried to catch them, but my hands were not quick enough. That last comment was sure to get me stuck at home again watching reruns of 20/20 with Mom while the rest of my friends were at the party.

But Dad let me go that night and by 8PM I was making out with my boyfriend in a dark basement. There were only three couples at that “party” and by 9PM we were quite alone on the couch. In a very short time, I was swatting my boyfriend’s hands away from me like I was the lone flower stuck in a field of honey bees.

I tried to stay strong, but I trusted him and I loved him. He would never do anything to hurt me. His loving voice whispered, “If you love me, then it’s okay.”

That made sense because he did love me. I broke away from his lips for a second and said, “No! I have to wait until I’m married.” He said, “You have to or you want to? Because I think you don’t want to.”

I pushed him away, fixed my clothes and walked away. My mind played ring-around-the-rosy while I said, “I guess have to and I don’t want to.”

As I stood by the door waiting for him to follow, he gently motioned for me to come back and sit beside him. He looked so cute and pitiful. He had one last plea for me to consider, “Let’s pretend that we’re married.”

“Pretend? Pretend? Did you just really say that? Is that the best you can come up with? I’m not going to pretend!”

He met me at the door, gave me a kiss on the cheek and whispered in my ear, “Then marry me!”

I had dreamt of hearing those words, but not like this. It was only then that I realized Dad was right.
I said, “I'm sorry I can't.  I just turned fifteen.”

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Someone said to me…(week 1)

Someone said to me, “You need a platform if you want to get published.”
I said, “I choose B.”
Read how I got there

 Someone said to me, “You need a platform if you want to get published.”

I replied, “But you don’t understand, I have a platform.”

But they didn’t answer because they couldn’t hear me – even though I waved my hands wildly and hit my forehead with my fist. And if I really did respond to their email, I’m sure I’d be given the scarlet letter for new authors – a big letter ‘S’ for stalker, also known as ‘S’ for spam.

So I looked out my window and decided to speak to the tree that was graciously hanging on my every word. I gently pushed the curtain back so he won’t miss any of my speech.

I began, “My platform is me. I mean my platform is embracing adversity. If you read my book, my platform is clear. Hmmm.. Shit, maybe I don’t have a platform.”

Ahh… self doubt found its way into my heart again. Self doubt is a frequent visitor of many aspiring authors like me. Realizing I was not alone, I said to myself, “If you let self doubt win, then you lose. It’s that simple.”

I stood up to show the tree that I was serious now. “Look, I was given lots of hurdles; an alcoholic parent, abuse and poverty but I’m standing strong on the other side. I always thought I was so different and I longed to be the same. First I longed to be part of the normal-kid-club and then I longed to be part of the normal-mom club. You know, the ones that have it all figured out.”

The glare of the sun interrupted me. “Most of us don’t have it all figured out, you know.”

“Exactly!” I said as I threw my arms in the air. “If you know someone that has it all figured out I would bet you don’t really know them.”

The tree shook a leaf off toward me and said, “So what’s your point? You’re platform sounds more like a therapy session.”

My point is that we all know how it feels to be different. We all have our own struggles and we don’t always have the power to overcome them. I am saying, stand strong, be different, be yourself and don’t give up. My family was weird and screwed up as many familes are. That's why people relate to my story. I'm their sister, mother, daughter or friend. They will cry with me, laugh with me and in the end they will feel there is just one more person in the world that understands.

So, here's my platform:
Individuality and empowerment through acceptance of adversity.

And here's my mantra for today:
If I don’t believe in myself, I can’t expect you to believe in me. I will be published. I truly believe it. I can see it. I can feel it. I will say it out loud.

For writers in the midst of query and rejection letter hell, I say you are not alone. But you have a choice to make.
A) Let one letter from one person who doesn’t know you, determine your fate, or
B) File the letter away, shake off the self doubt and move on.

I said, “I choose B.”

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Kids Stole my Camera

This is what you get when the kids steal your camera.

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