Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Year's Resolutions for Moms (Or, at least, this one)

If you opened up Facebook on January 1, I'm sure you found it peppered with well intentioned resolutions for the new year. Lose weight, get fit, feed the homeless, write letters to their kids to open someday, go one more date nights. All wonderful things, no doubt. And yes, I've been guilty of jumping on the resolution bandwagon and promising I'd lose all sorts of weight or learn a new trade. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's part of where my 40 Before 40 list came from.

But...

If you're a mom like me with younger kids (or maybe kids of any age), let's get realistic. I have an eleven year old and an eight year old who have a busier activity calendar than the Brady Bunch combined, and a full-time job. I would love to resolve to get fit, but I find the only exercise I have time for is running my mouth when I need them to get moving or walking stairs for the 15th drink of water one needs from the kitchen after bedtime. And eating right? Yeah. I'm eating right about anything I can find, including the kids' leftovers, because I'm busy packing lunches or doing dishes.

So sitting here tonight (yes, instead of exercising - I was exercising my mind), I thought about the things I AM going to resolve to do this year. How many of you moms would have a similar list?

In 2017, I resolve to...

  1. Make sure the kids actually DO brush their teeth EVERY morning before leaving for school, (I'm not saying it has to be a great brushing, but I'll take a solid 10 seconds of toothpaste touching teeth.)
  2. Watch to see that the kids leave the house entirely dressed. And yes, daughter, that includes socks. Yes socks. Yes, socks are clothes. They're made of fabric aren't they? So yes, they're clothes. Seriously, it's 10 degrees where we live, put on the socks. I don't care what socks, what color, what design. I don't even care if they match, just put them on. No, you cannot just wear the boots. (See, right about here is where I cave and say fine, wear the stupid fuzzy boots and no socks. But I'm gonna stay strong...)
  3. Actually eat more fruits. (Do Pop-Tarts count? I'm still determining the guidelines I'm putting on this one.)
  4. Watch less television. Yes, kiddo, Netflix counts as television. Yes, even if it's on a tablet. Are there people or animals, real or artistically drawn, speaking? Then it's television. It's 2017 television. Just turn it off.
  5. Do the dishes every night. (Husband, stop laughing. Just stop. Or I can tell you what won't be occurring more often in 2017.)
  6. Read a book. (Not more books. Just a book. And adult book. No, not that kind. Well, maybe. But a grown-up book, fiction or non-fiction. As in the whole thing, cover to cover. It will take me an entire year, but I'm gonna make it happen.)
  7. Paint something in the house. Not because I have to cover up wall drawings (thankfully I think we're past that phase). And not finger painting a scary, disproportionate hedgehog on a child-size easel, but a room in the house. One of the rooms we started painting eight years ago and gave up on. (Seriously. Last painted when preggo with the eight year old. Poor hubs put so much effort into painting the living room and dining room the colors I wanted - red and green - only to have his hormonal wife cry because the house looked like Christmas all year. And has every year since, because he was NOT going to take a chance on picking colors again.)
  8. Cook more at home. (Do TV dinners count? Especially if they can't watch TV while they eat?)
  9. Get more organized. Or, designate a drawer for all the stuff I know I'll pick up and say, "I'm really going to need this in three months" and then lose because I put it somewhere I'd definitely remember it was. Maybe having a designated drawer would help with that. Or closet? 
  10. Have more fun. It would be really fun to watch the kids do more chores (or ANY chores) so I think I can kill two birds with one stone by combining #9 and #10 together as I write the kiddos' chore lists.
I'm just kidding. :) Mostly. I'm not making any resolutions other than to be more present in every day life. Someday my house will be spotless (ok, not likely) and my free time will be plenty (again, not likely), and I'll be missing the chaos that has come to be our daily life (very likely). I wouldn't trade the here and now for anything; the chaos is what makes everything more fun!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Very excited to write again!

It's been a couple years since I've published a story, because, well, life. Kids plus full-time jobs plus activities = not much free time. Not that I mind - being a mom and watching these two grow is far more exciting than anything I could write!

Now that we're on a better schedule, I have been able to find a little time here and there to begin plucking away at the third book in the Healers series and shaping it into the story I've been imagining for the past three years. And hopefully, you will be able to have this book in hand by the end of the summer.

Here's a little sneak peek:
     "I believe that you will always know me. You might not know where you know me from, but you’ll recognize me.”
     “Will you be okay if I go?”
     “You tell me,” she smiled, reaching for his hand.
     “Rose, stop, we’re not supposed to look at each other's future…”
     “If you’re leaving anyway, what’s the difference? What do you see? Come on. What’s it matter if you break the rules?”
     With a sigh of resignation, he let his cold hand wrap around the warmth of hers and closed his eyes.

Who is "he"? What does he see? And what is Rose's future?

Well, I haven't written the very end yet, so I still can't tell you. 

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Poetry

Long ago when I first began writing, I fell in love with poetry. As most do, I have a particular taste in poetry, and I find myself always gravitating back to Robert Frost.

The prose, the flow, and the beautiful wording that he uses to embrace both playful and grim topics always caught my ear. Though I've read the work of many poets, his has been and will likely always be my favorite.

I came across a box of my early poetry while cleaning out the storage bins cluttering the basement. It certainly made me giggle to read the teenage angst scribbled across the papers. (Nothing I'll post here, simply to save some of my dignity!) It did, however, serve to remind me that it has been quite a long time since I've picked up a poetry book and read the short stories inside. Isn't it amusing how it can be so difficult to write a short story and cram into 2,500 words everything you want to say, and yet in a poem, a mere eight lines can convey the message and the emotion the author seeks?

One of my favorite poems of all time is this one, and I'd enjoy hearing what your thoughts on it are. I don't want to share mine yet, so as to not play my thoughts into yours before you've had a chance to read it. (Screen grab from Pinterest, no idea whose image it is!) Or, share what your favorite poem may have been. I'm always looking for something new to read!


Monday, January 2, 2017

A New Year...

It's crazy to me that 2016 is now over. I'm left standing here, wondering what the heck I'm going to do with 2017.

I could make resolutions, but I probably won't keep them. (Seventeen years of fitness promises made on December 31 and failed by January 2 are proof of that.) I didn't really do much on my 40 Before 40 list last year, so perhaps I'll work at checking some of those off. In my defense, I have two kids with better social lives than me and in addition to a full-time job spent most of my time chauffeuring kids to and from activities/play dates. 

One thing I am determined to do this year is get a few of my manuscripts edited and published. I spent so much time working on them (there are five), and all that's happened to them is the collection of virtual dust on an external hard drive.

And if I can really find the motivation, I'm determined to also finish writing two that I have started (of the many, many starts I have written in a notebook). 

So what are YOUR plans for 2017? Anything good? If not, please feel free to jump in on a few of the 40 Before 40 projects. (Especially if you're Chris Evans or Norman Reedus. Call me.)


Sunday, December 4, 2016

The 3 Great Loves In Your Life

I came across this article on how you fall in love with three people in your lifetime, after a friend shared the writing by Kate Rose on Facebook. I found it to be a pretty incredible read - a pretty true-to-life account of the three types of love I've encountered in my life. Kate says:
"Often our first is when we are young, in high school even. It’s the idealistic love—the one that seems like the fairytales we read as children."
"The second is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation."
"And the third is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes so easy it doesn’t seem possible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it."

When I think back to the three gentlemen I've had significant feelings for in my life, her description is pretty accurate. Though we had our share of struggles, any time I look back on that first love, I do so with a smile. With him lie the memories of school dances and Friday night football games, goofy folded-up love letters scribbled during class, long conversations about nothing, and those big future hopes and dreams created in the minds of high schoolers. 

The second is just as Ms. Rose said: the tough one. The one that started as the fairy tale I was looking for - with roses and grand gestures - and ended in broken promises and unforgivable words from both sides. I think we spent more time fighting than we did talking, both of us trying to be ourselves and someone else at the same time to appease the other. The one that shattered my heart almost so completely that I thought I'd never feel anything again.

And then hubs came along. That third love. The one I didn't even want to think about considering, because I felt too broken to be such a burden on anyone else. Somehow, without trying, he found his way around the wall I'd put up and slowly eeked his way into my heart. I hadn't looked at another guy in the year since love #2 and I had broken up. I couldn't fathom the thought of another human's fingers intertwined with mine as we set forth on the rest of our lives. I couldn't even relax enough to let someone hug me - girl, boy, family, friend. No one. I was lost. And by the second time I'd met hubs I knew; my heart had decided before my mind could object that this was a man worth taking down a brick or two for. I hadn't planned on loving anyone else, but that's the thing about life: it often goes exactly the opposite of what we have planned.

When I look back though, each one helped me to understand a little better what love was - but more importantly, what love was not. Every day, when the kids have been chauffeured to activities and dinner is done and we have a moment to breath, I have the opportunity to take a look at hubs and feel exactly the same way I did in those first few meetings: like my heart cannot possibly love him any more. We don't have folded-up love notes, and we certainly have our share of fights, but there is no one who makes me feel more loved than he does.

I've always been a sucker for romance stories, which is probably why everything I write contains romance. But no better story has been written than the one I'm living. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Some Chances Set You Free


"Some choices hold you down, some chances set you free.

And right outta nowhere
You open your heart and that changes everything,
And you're going somewhere
And all you need to know, is that you're free to go."

Those are lyrics to a song by one of my mom's favorite singers, Christine Kane (you can listen to it here). I found myself listening to that CD tonight after years of not hearing it. My fingers had danced across it on a cupboard shelf the other day, the dust of years gone by painting my fingertips. There was no question it has been a while since I heard the tunes that had brought both smiles and giggles to my wonderfully funny mother.

To me, music has always been a soundtrack for life. I guess maybe that's the writer in me. I grew up dreaming about writing plays and novels and movies, and each time I'd dream up one of my storylines, the emotion of my characters would come to life in my mind through the music that wafted into consciousness. 

And somehow, music has always had a way of speaking directly to my heart. When I'm stressed or sad or just searching for answers, the melodies that stretch out around me somehow convey an answer to whatever question is plaguing my mind.

Lately, I've been feeling sort of lost. My dad isn't feeling well, and it breaks my heart to see him so down. I always miss my mama around the holidays. And between work and coaching and trying to be a good wife and mother, I'm finding myself somewhat overwhelmed. Which is why this particular lyric stuck with me tonight. I've been so focused on the unknown and what lies ahead and feeling so flustered about everything that this lyric comes at the perfect time.

"Some choices hold you down and some chances set you free."

I've been lucky that in life; whenever one door closes, another opens. It hasn't always been a great door, but it's always been something -- and that's the key. There's always a new adventure to be on, and some of the best adventures I've had have come when I stopped trying to be in control and instead just let life take the lead.

"Leap and the net will appear."

Well, maybe that's the key to life sometimes, isn't it? 

Now, if you need something lighter, check out this - my mom's fave song by her which coincidentally, she used to sing as I got ready to go out during my college years. ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

History is Made



We are a baseball family.

A little after 11:40 p.m. last night, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. 108 years, 10th inning, 8 runs. 108 is a magical number it looks like.

I didn't have tickets to the games (because, well, my kids need to go to college someday) but I was able to watch the games with my son, a die-hard baseball fan who lives and breathes the game all year long. He wasn't really a fan of any given team until the start of this season when he found a love for the Cubs, quite possibly breaking the heart of his die-hard Sox fan father. (Even though I dressed him in Cubs gear to sway his decision early on.)
  
 
The Cubs/Sox rivalry started in our home long ago, while hubs and I were dating. We had a Cubs/Sox themed wedding complete with a blue and black cake. He refuses to believe my old adage, "There are only two teams in Chicago: the Cubs and whoever they're playing."

    


And my Chicago-loving Sox-fan husband even rooted for the Cubbies this post-season. As a Sox fan, he knows the tremendous pride of seeing your team in the World Series; he knows the absolute excitement at watching them win it all. And more than anything else, he is a fan of Chicago and was proud to see his city back on top in a sport.

The last seven games were the best to watch with my son. Seeing him get fired up over errors by his favorite players, only to jump and scream for joy the next inning after the same player cracks a home run (we're talking about you, Baez and Ross!) totally redeeming themselves. And, in a moment of hilarity (and probably parenting gone wrong), watching him yell "GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!" before he covered his mouth because he realized he'd just swore in front of his mother, brought a moment of a stern face followed by a twinge of joy that he'd used the word in the correct capacity and said exactly what I was thinking.

I know some people think it's silly to get that invested in a sport, in a team, in a bunch of players who have no vested interest in you. When we look at the Cubs, though, we see the history of a game that has brought people together for generations. We see something that we can share with our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents; the love of a team that represents your city. We see a place where you can gather with complete strangers and for nine innings, feel like you've been friends forever as you cheer on your boys.

I wondered last night if the parents of all those players on the field remember a moment sitting at home, watching a game with a son who loves baseball. Or on a dusty old diamond at a ball park watching their 10-year-old learn how to make a double play. Did they know then that their son was destined for such a historic moment? Did they know those hugs and flowers on Mother's Day at a youth ball park would turn into ecstatic hugs on a major league diamond in front of hundreds of thousands of people?

For the rest of my life, I'll remember where I was when the Cubs won the World Series: snuggled up with my little baseball fanatic and biting my nails with two outs in the 10th. 

No, I didn't get to see a game in person this post-season. Hopefully one day I'll get to watch a post-season game from the stadium, and maybe - just maybe - it will be his.   


 
 

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