Friday, December 30, 2011

Who's Teaching Who - Part Two

A couple of weeks ago during the hustle and bustle of the holiDAZE, Pie came up to me and told me she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love. Pie is blessed with naturally curly auburn hair that has glints of deeper reds and blonds. It hangs all the down her back and is absolutely beautiful. I told her I would take her to get her hair cut during her Christmas break if that's what she really wanted.

Throughout the past few weeks she has never wavered in her decision. Instead, she grew more and more excited for her impending haircut. Today at her appointment she confidently crawled up on the stylist's chair. Pie never stopped smiling and her eyes were dancing with happiness as the stylist cut 10 inches of hair off into a cute chin length bob. I was so proud of her as she sat there so still yet so giddy with excitement. As we left the salon, I noticed an extra spring in her step and for the rest of the day she luxuriated in the feeling and look of her new hairdo.

When I asked her why she wanted to cut her hair off she said she wanted to do it because someone we never met had given Biddle her liver and she thought that was pretty cool. She wanted to cut her hair off so that she could give it to another little kid who didn't have hair of her own. A little kid who she would never meet. A little kid who was battling a disease. She's 7 years old and ready to save the world, one haircut at a time. ;-)



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Resolving to Build My Resolve...Or Something Like That

Resolution. To me, that's kind of a dirty word. But lately I have come to the conclusion that it's time for me to RESOLVE to get some things accomplished - therefore it is time to light the proverbial fire underneath my butt. 

Eat better. Sounds simple, but for some reason this is difficult for me. It’s not like I’m trucking it to every fast food joint on a regular basis or whooping it up with ice cream every day. But I certainly do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. I always make sure the girls eat their fruits and vegetables. They also love yogurt and granola bars. I make sure to keep those foods in the fridge and pantry. However, I rarely partake of them myself. Breakfast for me is coffee (laced with peppermint mocha creamer), and during the winter I eat oatmeal. Brown sugar and maple flavored oatmeal. Now, I do give a nod to healthiness here because I get the kind with high fiber. Still, I think I could do better. Maybe I should try some fresh fruit for a mid-morning snack. Instead of Chef BoyarDee for lunch (a fave of the 5-year-old and something I do limit), I should be expanding my menu to include a salmon salad with spinach, or maybe a turkey sandwich. I know what’s healthy and what’s not. Yes, I know tater tots topped with shredded cheese and dipped in sour cream (as I hide from the children) is not a healthy meal, but to me, its comfort food. Our dinners our mostly healthy, but I’m sure I can find room for improvement. (Ditch the canned vegetables for fresh or frozen ones more often is the first thing that comes to mind.)

Exercise. Again, sounds simple. After all I have some workout DVD’s – including the infamous P90x (which I have managed to get about halfway through, thankyouverymuch). I also have a Yoga/Pilates DVD and a regular Yoga DVD that I love. I am aware of the benefits of regular exercise (increased energy, weight loss, enhanced mood). As I get older I know my body needs all the help it can get. Don’t get me wrong – at 5’2” and 108 lbs I’m not exactly a tub of lard. But lack of exercise leads to a soft body and weight gain. Not to mention depleted energy levels which leads to inertia which leads to….a tub of lard. So it’s time to get my booty off the couch and shake it like I used to in my younger days. Ok, so I know at age 37 that I’m not old, per se, but I think I feel old sometimes due to my lack of booty shaking. (or exercise, whatever you want to call it.)

Write more. Yes, I write for school on a regular basis and I freelance. Those assignments are (hopefully) strengthening my writing skills and my critical thinking skills (again, hopefully). But I am also working on a novel and have a few short stories in the works. I need to find time EVERYDAY to write for myself – not just to get paid or to complete coursework. That novel and those short stories aren’t going to finish themselves. By daily dedicating a set amount of time to my own personal writing I can hopefully finish the novel by spring time. Then I can let it sit for a month or two, get it out and dust it off for a rewrite before I take to the Writer’s Workshop that I’m doing during the summer. I also need to read more. And again, not just for school. I’ve read at least 3 or 4 novels since I’ve been on winter break since mid-December. I can’t keep that pace up while in school, but I can set aside a few minutes per day to read. It is one of my favorite activities - to be able to step outside my own world and into someone else’s creation is at once relaxing and exhilarating. And who doesn’t need more of those feelings? 

Get over it. And by “it”, I mean fear. I have two different blogs (one of which is linked to the FB so I can post links to it for my friends and family to read. But what I really need to do (and what really scares the shit outta me) is to try my hand at the e-publishing platform (via, maybe?) and get some of my short stories out there. After all, I can do it for free and set a super low price  (also free, maybe) so that anybody with an e-reader (or a computer) can download some of my stories and see how my twisted mind works. That’s scary to me, but how the hell am I going to make a living as a writer if I don’t get my work out there into the hands of readers? I am a big fan of facing fears. (Hey, if I could outsmart the guy that threw me into the trunk of a car and send his good-for-nothing-ass to jail for 6 years, I can sure as hell send my stories into cyberspace.) And I also learned how to drive a motorcycle. Surely that counts for something in the facing of the fears department. Now I need to turn that fearless focus toward writing. 

I’m sure there’s a bunch of things that I’m not listing that could use some improvement. (Notice how I’m not getting into personality traits such as practicing more patience or cutting down on my colorful language or making fun of others or any and all of the other things that I am sure I need to work on.) But I think the things I covered are a good start. What about you? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love My Writers Group

I joined a writer's group last summer. It happened in a roundabout way, via a friend who currently lives in New Zealand who used to be a DJ and is currently an actor. That friend noticed a few posts I had on Facebook regarding writing. He was nice enough to hook me up with a friend of his who lives in my general vicinity and who happens to be part of an active writers group. The group is an eclectic bunch that includes published authors, talented wordsmiths and academics - did I mention one woman (huge hero of mine) also rides motorcycles and is an accomplished tattoo artist when she's not at her dayjob?  I am truly in awe of these people. Lucky for me, they were willing to expand the circle and let me in.

I was able to go to meetings during the summer, but then I went on vacation and missed a few. Shortly after I came back from vacation I decided to go back to school. One of my classes met on Tuesday nights, which is the night my writers group meets. On top of all that, my other half was away on military duty. Sadly enough, that led to months of missing the weekly Tuesday night meetings. I kept in touch with them via the interweb, yet I wasn't happy about not being able to connect with them in person.

But lo and behold, tonight I finally got to go to my beloved Tuesday night meeting. Ah, what a sense of relief it was to sit around the table with all of those talented writers, exchanging stories and being able to talk about writing with other people who truly understand what goes into creating a short story or a novel. After all, writing is mostly an endeavor in solitude. It can be grueling, time consuming and maddening. However, it can also be a transcendental experience and an eye-opening journey.

Tonight, my group listened to me read from my novel, as they have before. I had employed the edits they so generously gave me all of those months ago. They noticed, and gave more advice. And I realized, in an instant, that their advice was so right, and so spot on, that I began creating the new scenes in my head as I sat around that table, in the busy bookstore, surrounded by people.

I love my writers group.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who's Teaching Who?

My kids manage to surprise me almost every day, in some form or another. Sometimes these surprises are good (Mommy, I got an A on my spelling test!) Sometimes these surprises are not so good (Mommy, I have diarrhea!). There are days when I'm ready to pull my hair out and/or drink heavily. (I am stopped by the fact that I have spent over a year growing my hair out and I have a remarkably low tolerance for alcohol since I became a mother. Don't get me wrong, I like my wine but after a glass or two I am ready for bed.)

During the holidays at Pie's school (the 7-year-old), they offer a shop in which the kids can shop for gifts for friends and family. The kids are sent home with a little envelope and the parents and children decide how much money they can spend per person. Pie and I discussed how much money she would spend and chose the people she wanted to buy things for. I gave her some money and stressed to her that I needed the change back when she came home from school after her "shopping trip."

After school on the day of the shopping trip, Pie was excited to show me her purchases. (Except for what she bought me, that was a surprise.) As she showed me what she bought I noticed there were a few extra items. One of those items turned out to be a gift for herself. The change that I was expecting had disappeared due to the additional purchase. The whole experience turned into a lecture about a.) listening to mommy b.) the importance of money c.) keeping your word. We had a little chat and I thought that was the end of the situation.

The morning after that talk, we were in the car waiting in the long line of cars at the drop off zone at school. I was in a bad mood. (The coffee had not yet kicked in and a minivan had cut me off - need I say more?)
     "Mommy?" Pie says from the back seat.
     "What?" I answered distractedly.
     "I have something for you." I turned around to see her reaching out to me. In her hand was a crumpled up dollar bill. Her eyes had a hopeful yet slightly sad expression.
     "What's this?" I asked.
     "It's your money Mommy. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have bought something for myself. This is my money from the Tooth Fairy. I want you to have it."

The sad tone in her voice and the fact that she was offering up her Tooth Fairy money brought tears to my eyes. I smiled at her and told her to keep her money. After I dropped her off and drove away, her expression and her words stayed with me. I thought about how life's little lesson's can happen anywhere, at any time. I thought about how lucky I am to have such great kids, who have taught me so much about love, patience and understanding.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And the Word of the Day is....Procrastination!

This week marks the last week of fall quarter at my esteemed institution of higher learning. To that, I say a resounding YIPPEEEE! It's not like I don't like school, in fact, it's safe to say that  I love school. But I'm ready to be done for a while and explore some other options. Options such as creating another blog via a well-known platform, something that one of my instructors told me to do. Options such as taking on a bit more freelance work so  I can a.) make sure the Spawnderellas have a good Christmas and b.) keep myself fully stocked in the vino department.

Yesterday was the last day for my MultiGenre Writing class and I had to turn into my portfolio. We had to write 2 short stories, 2 personal essays and 5 poems, plus our in-class writing and proof that we submitted a piece of work to someone in the publishing industry. (I chose to submit a personal essay to the Cincinnati Review.) Our portfolios for this class had to be formatted in a very specific way in a 3-ring binder with a table of contents. I finished putting it together um, about an hour before I had to leave for class. Yes, I have a tendency to procrastinate sometimes.

I have one more paper to write for another class, due on Thursday evening. It has to be 900+ words on the importance of "place" within a novel or short story. In this particular class we read authors from Canada, the United States and South America. We are to choose a book from each place and expound on how the place the author chose to set the story in helped to shape their work. Sounds fun, eh? In fact, it sounds like so much fun that I am (again) procrastinating. I thought it would be a good time to set up a Google+ account. And then do a little blog. Maybe a little laundry. But alas, the time has come to actually do some work. The sooner I finish it the sooner I can do something else. You know, like putz around on FB or Google+. Or maybe start my Christmas shopping.