Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dream Interpretation...

Ever had a strange dream you couldn't shake? I did. Last night. It wasn't even a bad dream - it was sort of nice, but has left me with this nagging feeling. I don't know why I have this nagging feeling.

I dreamt that I was at a gathering and someone from my past was there, along with his whole family. He's not exactly the kindest person in my memory, but in the dream he was very laid back and nice. There were a ton of people there (I'm not really sure where we all were) and all I remember is I had to get to my next destination, and I didn't have a car. He just kind of lingered on the outskirts of the crowd in my dream, like he wanted to talk but didn't want to make the move to say anything. While he was mainly silent, it was as though he was very sorry about any angst he's caused, and wanted to build a friendship.

The dream ended when his family gave me a ride to my college, where I was going that day (mind you, in the dream, I'm my current age) and then he called later to make sure I made it okay.

Super strange. I welcome anyone's thoughts on what this dream means. 


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Miles to go before I sleep...

I haven't written in quite awhile. I made grand plans to get back to writing more, but life has again taken me down a new fork in the road! 

I have, however, been lucky to keep writing in my life, if only a little at a time. Recently, a dear friend from high school - who is now a professor at a local university - asked if I would be a panel participant on writing books at their annual writing conference. I was very excited not only to be a part of the panel, but to see my friend, Beth, whom I haven't seen in nearly 10 years. I presented alongside a very thoughtful and talented man named David Masciotra. (David Masciotra is the author of five books: "Mellencamp: American Troubadour" (University Press of Kentucky, 2015), "Barack Obama: Invisible Man" (Eyewear Publishing, 2017), and the forthcoming, "Half-Lights at Evening: Essays on Hope" (Agate Publishing).)


I was struggling recently with the fact that I haven't made the time to finalize the edits on my newest novel, which I'd hoped to have out already. I'm reminded of one of my favorite poets and a line from his poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." And that, my friends, sums up my writing at the moment. My almost-published book is one I am so proud of and love so much, but I have bigger obligations right now and a lot to do before I can rest. So, it will eventually get done, but right now I must stay focused on taking care of family.

Have a wonderful holiday! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Social Media

Have you heard of this new (okay, is it considered old now because it was really hip like, a month ago?) app called saraha.com?

Kid1 asked to download it and wasn't thrilled with my "Ummmm, no," response. I am not a big fan of him downloading anything I don't really know about. So I downloaded it on my phone in order to check it out and see what it's about. (My job is largely social media, so it doesn't hurt to see what it's all about.)

Apparently, it's an app where people can anonymously send you messages. Which, I mean, sounds like a wonderful app for all the people who are more comfortable blurting out what''s on their mind while hiding behind a screen and a keyboard than talking to people face to face.

And in the days of combatting bullying, I feel like this is the exact opposite of what ANY gradeschooler should have access to! Isn't there enough bullying and name calling already? Do we really need to give people an anonymous way to insult another? Because I feel like kids who want to use this aren't giving each other warm and fuzzy sentiments, but I could be wronf!

I signed up (allisonbr.Sarahah.com if you're on there and can teach me more about this thing) so I can try and figure out the ins and outs of it. I'm searching for some articles to demonstate why this is a bad idea, and welcome suggestions.

What other apps are kids using now that need to be deleted or closely monitored?


Monday, October 23, 2017

Under Construction

Hello!

Please bear with me as I clean up the blog a little over the next couple weeks. I have quite a few blog posts to put up, some to reactivate, and some to remove. I'm hoping to start the process tomorrow, and have it done by the end of the next week. So not only will there be new material, but lots of other things to read about (or read again, lol)! In the meantime, please take a moment to answer this anonymous poll to help me determine what posts to start writing more about. Thank you!

What would you like to see more posts about?



Monday, October 16, 2017

What Makes A Good Mom?

If there's one thing I've learned about parenting, it's that the internet is an endless abyss of people telling you what you are and aren't doing right. We search Pinterest for ways to make our child's room fantastically unique. We scroll through Facebook seeing the Halloween costumes that are way out of our price range and yet call us to purchase so our kid isn't ridiculed. We read articles about how to give our kids the best organic lunch, shaped into an artistic outdoor scene sculpted in the late hours of the evening.
And if I really stop to think about it, my kids don't really care about any of that stuff. Sure, they'd love new paint in their room - but they'd rather be painting a big piece of paper with mom or dad. Because that's what they're really looking for - quality time.

I've said it before but unfortunately, it needs to be a constant reminder for me. I don't have a lot of time with them between work and other responsibilities, and sometimes I lose sight of the need to spend some quality time with each of them. Today, amid the muck of Facebook, I came across this article and it gave me a new bucket-list to do before the end of this year: 30 Little Things That Mean A Lot to Kids.

My mom did a lot for me growing up. Laundry, taking us to practices, cleaning the house, shopping for school clothes. I don't remember any of those things though, at least not in the sense of a memory of her actually doing them. What I do remember, though, is her waking me up for high school at 6 a.m. with a sock she made into a duck puppet, just being goofy. I remember her helping me to make pies the right way when I wanted to experiment with baking. I remember that on Tuesdays, she would "sleep over" in my room and we'd talk about school or boys or troubles until we were both too tired to talk.

I think about my beautiful girl and how many times I tell her I'm too tired. (Which, by the way, is far too many.) We do lots of things together, but I'm starting to think she has a far better grasp on how precious the time we have together is than I do. Or perhaps she just appreciates it more. Some days, when I'm really tired, I think Oh my goodness, I wish she would learn to play on her own! Then there are days like today, when I look at her get up, get dressed, make her own breakfast, pack her own lunch, and head out the door to school that I am blindsided by the fact that in a very short time, she won't be asking me to color with her anymore. She won't be asking me to do her makeup or make up a dance or listen to the song she wrote. 

We do a lot for our kids, but I think we can always do more. Not in terms of buying them more or taking them more places, but rather in giving them time and attention in the comfort of our own homes and neighborhoods. Sure, she loves heading out to mini-golf or shop, but she'd be just as happy coloring a few pictures from the big coloring book she bought herself at the school book fair. I hardly remember vacations we went on or going to a pumpkin patch, but I will forever remember that ridiculous sock puppet and the beautiful woman who made something so inane and silly one of the dearest pieces of my memory.

What is your favorite memory from growing up?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Missing the Old Times

Writing this novel has definitely brought back some memories for me. Part of writing any story is research. If it's set back in history, you need to know every detail and every aspect of that time, from politics to what a button on a jacket looked like. This makes your story more authentic.

So as I wrote this one, I definitely spent a lot of time reminiscing on my own experience of being a teenager way back when: the emotions, the highs, the lows, the friends, the broken hearts, the laughter of sleepovers. I spent many hours speaking to people around the age of my characters and their high school experiences, as well as their hopes, dreams and regrets from then and today. 

Needless to say, all the reminiscing definitely made me nostalgic for those days. I don't want to go back (I think living through my dramatic teenage years once was enough, and I love watching my kids build their own lives in the here and now!) but I definitely miss the people from those days. College was okay and I have some wonderful friends from my college years, but it just wasn't the same. I spent my college years testing boundaries and in many aspects, hanging around some people I should have distanced myself from, searching for whatever I felt I was lacking in my life at that time. (Don't get me wrong - I also had some amazingly awesome college buddies!) Every day there was something and someone new, so it was a rotating door of new and unfamiliar, which I don't particularly do well with. 

High school was never like that - there was familiarity. There were the same people, eight hours a day (and sometimes more), weekends filled with no responsibility and no jobs but rather just fun and camaraderie. I definitely miss the lesser responsibilities sometimes as I'm drowning in work and running kids to ten different activities, but, I know someday I'll miss what I'm doing now just as much. 

My dad has a hard time remembering current affairs, so often, what we talk about is those years around when I was a teen. He likes remembering some of the friends that came through our doors and laughter that would infiltrate the entire house. Perhaps that is why I am feeling so nostalgic lately; they were indeed good (and easier) times, and I really miss some of the people I knew and loved.

I think that's one of the hardest parts of growing up. These amazing human beings come into our lives for a little bit but they stay in our hearts forever. Life is like a big apple pie where each slice is something important to us. We get older, get jobs, get bills, get families, get homes, get more responsibility and as the pie is sliced yet again, it cuts back on that slice of time we have available for the people outside our immediate circle, no matter how important they are to us. 

And perhaps that is why getting a note or email or social media message from one of those familiar faces just saying "Hi, thinking about you, wishing you the best" is one of the sweetest parts of my day. No matter how much time and distance comes between us, know that I am thinking about you - and that you made my life better just by being in it. 

It's been a very long, very trying week, and I find myself hoping for one of those messages. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Red Thread of Fate

As a romance writer, I tend to focus a lot on the idea of fate - someone ending up exactly where they are supposed to be and who they are supposed to be with. It's sort of the idea from Japanese legend, the Red Thread of Fate: the idea that two people are tied together because they need to be a part of the other's life.

Writer Lucia Ortiz Monasterio says: "For the Japanese, who know so much and intuit more, human relations are predestined by a red string that the gods tie to the pinky fingers of those who find each other in life. Legend has it that the two people connected by this thread will have an important story, regardless of the time, place or circumstances. The red string might get tangled, contracted or stretched, as surely often happens, but it can never break. This legend, so much more aesthetic than that of the twin souls, occurs when it is discovered that the ulnar artery connects the heart with the pinky finger (which is the same reason why in many cultures promises are made by two people crossing their pinkies). The thin vein running from heart to hand extends through the invisible world, to end its course in someone else’s heart. But unlike other amorous superstitions, the Japanese one isn’t limited to couples, or a single person who one is destined to find. It speaks of a type of arterial ramification that emerges from a finger toward all those with whom we will make history and all those whom we will help in one way or another."
This is true for many of my characters - not just in love, but in life. In The Touch, AJ is pulled towards a town he's never been to before, and ends up finding that he needed to be there for both love and for paving a future for his kind. In my newest book Fifiteen Years, coming out soon, the main characters are tied together by a red thread of fate. No matter how far away their lives have taken them, they can never quite lose sight of one another, as though they were destined to meet again.

While the romantic background of the red thread of fate is the stuff romance novels are made of, to me the most interesting part is that idea that we are tied to other people for a while or a lifetime. When we stop to think about all of those who have made a difference in our lives and how we came to know them, we are reminded yet again that our paths intersect with those we are destined to meet. Perhaps it is a love, perhaps a friend, or perhaps a perfect stranger who touches our lives for just a moment.

It's a pretty incredible concept to think about, isn't it? That people don't randomly enter our lives, but rather, we are destined to meet them for one reason or another; that we get close and then grow apart but are still connected somehow in the grand scheme of life.

And as a romantic at heart, I believe in the idea of destiny; that no matter how twisted or damaged the string gets, you are still connected to the person you are tied to.

Do you believe in the red thread of fate? Have you ever felt that connected to someone?

(From Pinterest)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New book coming soon!

I am so, so, so very excited!! It has been a few years since I've published, and truth be told, I needed the break to renew my creativity! I have five manuscripts sitting here, waiting for editing, and I just couldn't find the time or the energy to get it done. 

Until now.

While there are still four awaiting their turn at editing, one is in the final stages of publishing and I could not be more excited about it! Add in the fact that my friend's beautiful daughter is the cover model, and I am just ecstatic to have it be out and in people's hands. 

So, what are you reading right now? Finish it up, because Fifteen Years will be out soon!



Friday, September 29, 2017

A Lesson From My Son

This week has been one of those weeks. What are those weeks, you ask? Well, I just told my daughter to go take a bath and her response was "Mom, I already took a bath this week." Yes, this week.

#ParentOfTheYear

Life's been a little overwhelming lately to say the least. My full-time job is full speed ahead and we have more work than time it seems. Hubs and I (and sometimes my wonderful mother-in-law) are running kids to dance classes, cross country, and drama practice. I'm visiting Dad as many days as I can, and handling all of his affairs. And tonight, when I asked my hubs what I should blog about, he said "The impossibility of us keeping the house clean. Or Hugh Hefner." So yeah, it's one of those weeks.

But right smack in the middle of this week, my son presented me with a life lesson. I'd woken them up early because it was either wake up early so I could run to Jewel before school and pick up a Lunchable or something, or they were going to be eating crackers and stale chips for lunch. He was already tired from a lot of homework and drama and running two miles the day before, but he got up and moving as he always does without a complaint.

Then, he goes to a full day of school and back to drama practice for two hours (where he is eleven, mind you, and memorizing SHAKESPEARE lines for the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream). When hubs picked him up at five, he still needed to run two miles since he'd had to miss cross country practice that day, and hubs gave him a choice: run the neighborhood, or pick where he wants to go.

You know what he chose? A park near the house with hills. HILLS. One of the last days of our 90+ degree heat in September, tired from a long day, and given the choice to take the easy route or the hard one and he picks the hard one.

He's eleven. Did I mention that?

  


I'm not gonna lie. I would have picked the neighborhood. It's close, it's flat, it's comfortable, and there's no travel time there and back. Which would mean more time for homework and relaxing before bed. 

He never ceases to amaze me. He ran two miles up and down a hill, just because he wanted the challenge. He is determined to help his team get to state, and he's working so hard to make that happen. (Side note: there wasn't even cake at the end. Or bacon. Or wine. He ran for fun. I don't understand this concept, but he doesn't understand how I write something longer than a page for fun so we'll call it a tie.)

I guess I needed the reminder, because lately I haven't been pushing myself to take the road less traveled, as written by my favorite poet Robert Frost. Things have gotten done, kids get where they need to be, lunch food finally got purchased, but that's really just skating by. So instead of watching a ton of television (except the debut of Will and Grace and This Is Us), I took his example and pushed myself to go a little further this week. 

Thanks to my little buddy, I finally finished the manuscript I've been picking at for four years. It meant a few late nights, hours of writing and editing, and a little bit of sleep loss, but a book I fell in love with writing years ago now has an ending that feels right. Instead of watching six hours of reruns of Friends (no judging here, because there are definitely weeks where a Friends binge is the most productive thing I do and that is a perfectly acceptable thing), I finally got something finished that I've been wanting to complete.

Now, I don't fully consider this week a victory because somehow my daughter bamboozled us every night into thinking she'd already taken a bath per direction of the other one, BUT, I'm just going to write that off as her enhancing her acting capabilities. 

Hopefully you can "run some hills" this week and check something off your "I want to do this" list.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sights and Scents

Have you ever stopped in your tracks, your sense of smell infiltrated by something both recognizable and unrecognizable at the same time? You can't quite figure out in that moment - or, maybe you can - why it's familiar, but with it comes a sense of peace? Or perhaps something you catch a glance of sends you into a sort of deja vu?

Sometimes it's the scent of a certain detergent or a memorable cologne that sends you on a trip down memory lane. I've certainly experienced that sensation. Moments of closeness brought back to the surface of my memory from nothing more than laundry. It's in these sweet moments that I gather material for my writing. These memories rise to the surface of my thoughts and become one more character trait for someone I'll write down the line. 

Every story needs a hero; that person who makes you forget all the pain and the suffering and overcome all obstacles in one's path. Each character has unique traits, but as I've mentioned before, each one I write houses just a sliver of someone I know or knew once upon a time. Instead of being housed only in a photograph or the recesses of my mind, the joy that they brought to my life for however long is captured and shared. I still walk past someone in a crowded place once every few years and a scent catches me off-guard, and I find myself twenty years younger in the middle of a smile.
I guess the same could be said for the sights and scents that bring back the bad memories. If you know me or follow my social media, you know that I love flowers. LOVE THEM. I buy fresh ones for my desk every week (although I've been slacking on that a bit lately), because they just bring a little bit of cheer to my day. Hubs, bless his heart, doesn't do the flower thing very often and that's okay - he does plenty of other sweet things. So I pick them out one morning after I drop the kids at school, arrange them in a pretty vase, and set them out to glance at when the day gets a little tired.
Often, it's roses sitting in that vase. Pink, yellow, peach, white - they're all so beautiful. But the one flower you will never see in there is a red rose (except, on occasion, when someone gets them for me and I don't want to be rude!)
You see, I don't like red roses. Once upon a time, red roses symbolized romance and love and butterflies in the stomach. They were something I looked forward to on a monthly basis from a beau who, looking back, hid his negative traits behind a blinding array of red roses and gifts. At that time in my life, I knew that those flowers would arrive in the middle of the month and I lived for it. Naive and lonely, I adored that symbol because it meant that I mattered to a boy. All the beauty they possessed, though, didn't make up for the ugliness that hid underneath, tucked away until something brought it out.

It's odd how something as simple as a flower or a scent can take you back to a place you either loved being or wished you could forget. What is something that brings you back to another time?


Monday, August 28, 2017

Violence, Media, and Kids

Sometimes, I love phones and iPods and tablets and laptops. Those glorious little devices often make me wonder how on earth my family managed to get ahold of me or get anything done before they existed.

And sometimes I hate them. Like today.

Today, a tragedy struck our town, and worse it seems, our school community. The details aren't known, but unfortunately, some that may or may not be true have become known to our kids.

My 11-year-old received a text message that provided a pretty detailed story about what happened and it hit him pretty hard (and mama bear is very unhappy about how this happened). He had a lot of questions about how something like that occurs, and then opened up a bit about what he was feeling. He is like his mama: he wears his heart on his sleeve. He worries about things. He's been worried the past week about Texas and everyone in it, asking for updates on if they're rescuing people, are they getting to the nursing homes, and so on. He's wondering if another country drops a nuclear bomb near Chicago, would it's devastation reach us? His heart is just about the biggest I have ever seen in a kid. (Don't get me wrong, he can be a pain in the butt sometimes. But his heart is still huge.) Then something so very pertinent and honest and telling came out of his mouth:

"Mom, I just don't understand it. Every time you turn on the news, there is another shooting in the Chicago area. Why are so many people dying? There's one story after another with bad news. It seems like it's all bad news." Then later came his next question: "How do we help to stop the violence?"

He's 11 and he sees it. He hears about the violence going on in the city and state he loves, and unfortunately, sometimes a little closer to home. He sees the news and the shock value the media go for, filling every half hour newscast with as much tragedy as their teleprompters can handle. He's carrying a weight that I don't think at 11 I even knew existed. He wants the world to be a better place, and he wants to make it a better place. 

I wish we could shelter him from all of it. We could take away all electronics, we could sell the television, but as today has taught me, he will still hear about it somewhere. And it probably will only be a shred of the truth, regardless of whether he hears it from little mouths at school or big mouths on the television. What is most difficult is that we have to have these conversations far earlier than I ever imagined. When I was 11, I didn't really know about storms unless they were hitting our neighborhood. I didn't know about how many people were hurt or injured daily in Chicago. It boggles my mind that kids today know about these things and have to grow up far sooner than they should.

I wish I could give him a step-by-step plan on how to fix everything, but I can't. We talked about the importance of being the best person you can, of helping others, of listening, of being there for people. We talked about how he can go into a career where he can build opportunities for kids to get on a better path in life. We talked about how from now on, we're going to start our day and end our day with good news, and that at least one of those should be something we did to make the world a better place that day.

Tonight, I had one of the hardest, most honest conversations I've ever had to have with one of my children. I couldn't hold back the tears as the tragedy of the situation behind the need for our talk really sank in. There has always been violence and always been tragedy, and I couldn't tell you if it's gotten worse over time or if it's just more reported thanks to mass media. And, I don't have answers for how to fix it, other than we need to start loving each other a little more and stop spreading gossip and hating a little bit less. I plan to hug my children just a little bit tighter from now on, that's for certain. 

Remember how they edited the Wyle E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons so that our children wouldn't be scarred? 

I WISH the worst thing my kids heard about was that crazy coyote getting blown up by ACME.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Characters in a book

I get asked quite often how I form a character in a book and if the character strongly resembles anyone in particular from my life. There are, of course, a lot of answers for that, but the general answer is that yes, most characters are based off of attributes of people I know.

Now, I have never written a character that is a single representation of a single person. Let's take for example AJ McCallister, the Healer from my first novel. He's a mix of a few different people. AJ is kind and courageous, strong and loyal. He also is anxious and brooding and angry. He feels both saddled and blessed by his gift, and he wants to both protect others and hide away from the world. AJ is innocent and yet still jaded by what he's seen and experienced, and he's extremely thoughtful and careful, almost to a fault. And each of the pieces of his personality that make him great or make him weak are the very things that make him unique. He's got pieces of my strong and courageous husband, a couple of close friends who are loyal and fearless, and even the innocence of past teenage love. 

There's Helen, who's modeled and named after my mom's best girlfriends and their wonderfully beautiful motherly instincts; and Matthew, who is always willing to help and is shaped after one of the best neighbors I've ever known. 

And Addie, who is a little bit me and a little bit my girlfriends. She's fiesty and smart and strong and weak and just wants to be loved.

Each character has aspects of various people I've cared for and loved, which makes them special to me - and makes them come to life in the stories. 

There are also characters who have nothing to do with anything other than my imagination. Luckily, I've never known anyone as dark and deceptive as Devin. And Benjamin is just a fun representation of a kindly old man. 

Writing is an outlet for daydreams and imagination. It's also a way for me to cement in history the things I've adored about certain people in a way that keeps them going in perpetuity. And that's the real magic of a story - being able to read it again and know that the best parts of the people I've loved are captured forever in words.

Speaking of which, I'm off to finish another chapter in my newest manuscript. I've written about AJ more in depth before on my blog, if you care to read on - otherwise,  if you haven't yet, you can read his book by downloading it free tomorrow at http://a.co/bcaSBOT. And then try and guess who that trait is based on! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We are all just doing our best

Dad had another unresponsive episode today.

They seem to be happening more frequently, and he seems a little weaker every time. His appetite is getting smaller and it's evident he's getting tired. I hate that he is spending the last of his time on this earth stuck in a wheelchair or bed, losing his memory and when he does talk, wondering again what's happened to him. 



As I sit here next to him on the bed, I want to memorize everything. Every dimple in his not-as-often smiles, every strand of grey hair, every wrinkle on his face. 



He's comfortable, and that's what I keep reminding myself. After years of medical issues and of course the last almost two years of chaos for his medical care, he's tired. Tired of doctors and nurses and blood pressure cuffs and insulin finger pricks and shots. He's tired of others giving him a bath and helping him with the bathroom. He's tired of feeling like a prisoner in his own mind. At least that's what he's told us - he can't get as many words out as of late. 


So, we sit and chat. It's mostly me asking questions or recounting old stories he's told me, with him chiming in with a "yep" or a few words addition to the story. Anything that helps him feel comfortable. Sometimes it's staring at the ceiling for an hour as we squish in a hospital bed. 

We haven't always seen eye to eye and we've had our differences, but at the end of the day he's my dad. If there is anything I've learned from having kids it's that as parents, we just do the best we can. We cheer and support our kids, we make mistakes, we live our lives the best we can. And for every person, that's different. One person's pro is another person's con and we shouldn't judge them on that - we are all just doing the best we can as parents and as children. 


For tonight, we are just relazing here in the room we've come to know as "home". He's got a smile on his face and I was so happy to hear him greet me the same way he always has: "Hello there Allison P., the P stands for pretty." <3 div="">

Monday, June 19, 2017

Third time's a charm

Okay, lets try this one more time.  For those having trouble with searching, I did try and make a fix - if nothing shows up with your name, try your whole name, and try first and last name. I added all of those in as tags so that should help! I will leave names up through Thursday! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Names

So, one of the questions I get asked most about writing is if I shape my characters after people I know. The answer is, yes and no. Another question is, on the blog, who are the mysterious people I write about (ha!). I've gone through on some posts and added names, which I will leave only for the next 48 hours, at which time I'll revert them back. If you're curious if you're one of the people I've written about, go take a peek. You can use the search box up top or just peruse ;) 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dreams

The mind works in mysterious ways. Like dreams. The other day my best friend Nancy from college texted me in a panic: was I okay?

Ummmmm, yes, why? That sort of creeped me out.

She said she had a terrible dream that I was hurt and she was worried about me, wanted to make sure I was okay. Ironically, her text came the same day we got the crushing blow that Dad probably needed to begin hospice care. She and I have ALWAYS been like that - we just know when the other one is having a really bad time because of a dream or a feeling. I filled her in and of course, then the reason for her dream seemed a little clearer.

I've always remembered my dreams and honestly, hardly have a night where I haven't had a dream about something. Some of them have led to my ideas for novels, some make me wake up in a panic, and some make me laugh when I'm retelling it to someone. Most of the time I don't give them a second thought - since I'm a writer and a daydreamer, my dreams often reflect a story I've been thinking about recently or a fantastically crazy plot line. But lately, I've had one particular dream scenario that keeps repeating itself and has really made me, well, uncomfortable.

This theme has focused around someone from a long (long, long) time ago, and trying to find a way back to being in each other's lives in some capacity. Not romantically (sorry, no hot and bothered dreams here, I'm pretty happy in my romantic status with hubs), but as friends. The entire length of the dream is spending time mixed among other friends doing something (it always differs - last night, it was escaping a mall which let me tell you, I have NO translation for because I LOVE to shop and find it hard to believe I'd be willingly trying to leave), and then we can never seem to get to the crux where we're like, yeah, we can move forward as friends. It's like a movie that drags on far past the part where it should have been resolved - we just can't seem to get to the end. So there is no end. Every time. Then I wake up, and I'm wondering what the heck my dream is about.

This isn't the first time I've had this dream. It's been a recurring dream with a recurring star for nearly two decades. It's not all the time - it pops up randomly here and there, but I've never given it too much thought. Though now, it's like a non-stop midnight movie I can't turn off and so I really stopped to think about it this morning and focused on why it is recurring more now. Other than yes, I would have liked to stay friends with this person, but that path in life just wasn't meant to happen.

I searched a dozen dream decoding blogs (oh boy, if you haven't done that for one of your dreams, do it - some of it is fascinating, some hilarious!). I think when I look at life today and why that dream may be happening, it comes down to the chaos that seems to be daily life right now. We're going non-stop: running kids to activities, working full-time, spending as much time with Dad as we can while he's still talking and laughing. And when I look at the dreams, the people in them, and the story behind them, they start to become a little easier to decipher.

The dreams are always amidst chaos - people are walking around everywhere, getting from here to there. There's always a sense of rushing in the dream - getting from one place to another or doing something that needs to happen quickly. Sometimes it's trying to escape somewhere, or trying to fix something that needs to be fixed ASAP. Just like life today.

Then there's this person. Someone I knew a long time ago and cared about very much. Someone who knew me during a much less chaotic time in my life, when I had less responsibility and more time to just have fun. Someone who knew me well and who I knew well. So perhaps my mind is saying maybe I sometimes wish I was back in a time where there was less adulting to do; when I was around someone who represented everything calm and collected.

And then, in every dream, we just can't connect. We both know we want to talk, but we just can't seem to make that happen. Sometimes, even others (including our close friends) are telling us we need to make time and we just can't seem to get to that point. Which to me, sounds like the giant disconnect between the calmer life I'd like right now and the current chaos, which keeps me just out of reach of finding that calm.

I was worried for awhile about the "who" that was infiltrating my dreams. It's not someone I think about during the day, and someone who so rarely comes up in convo (like, maybe once a year if that). So why were they in my dream? But if I look less at the "who" and more at the "why", it makes sense. Somehow my subconscious is seeking some reprieve from the day-to-day of now, and reminding me of times when life was a little bit easier.

Now what to do about that, well, that's another problem for another day! :)

~Allie

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Eb and Flow of Friendship

It's always fascinating how we move through life and connect with other people: friendships, colleagues, family. The way people drift into one's life, make some memories, drift out... and sometimes, if you're lucky, drift back in. Like a friend I'll refer to as Mr. D.

Mr. D and I were friends back in high school. We hung out in the same crowd, but I don't know that we ever got to know each other very well. He dated a couple of my friends, I dated a couple of his, and we had a mutual best friend in common. He was what I considered a bit of a wild child, always fun and outgoing. He dyed his hair blond at times and always had this big, goofy grin. 

We didn't spend much time together, or at least talking. We did, however, share a birthday.

Once we left for college, we didn't really have the type of friendship where we would have kept in touch. Somehow, though, every year on our birthday, I received a text or email from Mr. D with a birthday message. Every year! And after the first couple years, it became one of the things I looked forward to most on my birthday. We didn't talk the other 364 days in the year... we didn't really know much about each other, although we still share that same best friend... but despite anything else happening in our lives, those messages still came through on that one day. And I'd wait, each year, as the clock ticked just past midnight and that little "ding" popped through on the phone.

In 2005, my mother passed, and in 2006, his. And that somehow became another life event that drew us together as friends. On Mother's Day, we both understood what the other was feeling. On Christmas, how hard it was to be without them. Suddenly the birthday messages weren't the lone exchanges; now a couple more days a year were added on. And Mr. D was decidedly better than me at reaching out; he is a genuine person who really cares about his friends.

Somewhere in the last year, he's become someone I consider to be a close friend. We haven't seen each other in person in probably close to 15 years and we live halfway across the country from each other, but he's one of the people I know will answer when I need a friend. He will understand the topic whether it's missing mom, crazy high school shenanigans, or trying to figure out something in life. The past year and a half, as Dad's been battling his illness, Mr. D has been there for my random texts and worries because he understands the pain in a sick parent, and he's done more than his fair share in trying to keep my chin up. 

It's pretty incredible how you can not see someone for so long and still feel like they make an impact in your life more than most can. Mr. D has made an indelible mark on my life since the time we were 16 years old, even if I didn't realize it until I was older. And if you'd told me at 16 that Mr. D would be someone I talk to more than most, I'd have probably thought you were crazy.

When my kids worry that a friend is leaving their school and they're scared they'll never see them again, I remind them of my friends like Mr. D. Sometimes people go on different paths in life. Sometimes people move far away, and sometimes we don't see them for a very long time. But sometimes, the people who are physically the farthest away, are some of the closest people in our lives.

~Allie





Monday, June 12, 2017

Getting Social

I'm a writer and a pretty social person. Expressing myself through written words is my norm, and I often find I do better typing my feelings out than saying them in person. And I don't mind sharing those feelings because my hope is that if there is someone out there feeling the same way, they can find comfort in knowing they aren't alone.

Which is part of why I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I dislike how easy it is for people to be bullies behind the comfort of a computer screen, but I do enjoy seeing photos and updates from my friends and family about what they are doing. As a child, I loved opening our Christmas cards because I thoroughly enjoyed the updates; with Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, it's like a constant flow of Christmas cards year round and I love it!

The other aspect I love about it is reconnecting with old friends or family I never would have met otherwise. Whereas we used to have to wait for reunions or family gatherings or, oddly enough, things like funerals to catch up with people we had lost contact with. Now, with just one of those tools I mentioned early, we can reconnect - or connect for the first time - with the people we want to know more about. I've connected with distant cousins and been able to catch up with high school friends. And one of my absolute favorite things happened last week:

I received an email from someone I'd lost touch with.

I absolutely adore emails and letters from people I cared so much for once upon a time. There's thousands of reasons we lose touch with someone: different paths, distance, arguments, life in general. This particular person and I had just taken different paths because we had different views, and while we weren't angry with each other, we each remember being agitated by the other. It's sort of interesting to look back at someone you were upset with years and years ago and the reason why; so often, it's simply a lack of communication. 

I look back at myself a decade or two decades ago and realize how much I read into things, and how I didn't always act appropriately to say the least. If I was angry with someone, I was angry. Today, I find that even when I don't agree with others or don't get along with them, I still hope that they have an incredible life and find whatever happiness they are looking for. There's really not much room - or time - in life for hate and anger, because we don't have enough seconds and minutes and hours as it is.

And so I was overjoyed to get this email and message back and forth about how they are doing, some old memories, and so on. Sometimes, it is a beautiful thing to have that re-connection and forgiveness of the past, whether that relationship will move forward with more correspondence or not. As a writer, those letters - those written words - are just about the best gifts I can receive. ;)

~ Allie


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

15 Years Ago, Watching ER

Fifteen years ago today, I sat with my mother on an ugly, blue floral-patterned couch and stared at a bulky television set and watched one of our favorite television shows to watch together: ER. (Previous favorites included Golden Girls and Sisters, of course).

That particular night, my favorite character was set to meet his demise. For two seasons, we'd watched him struggle with a brain cancer diagnosis. The stroke-like symptoms, the difficulty speaking, the seizures - each moment of his (television) pain broke our hearts a little more. And of course, in true television-viewer fashion, we were SURE that they could never kill off a character so beloved to the audience. But. They. Did. (Do you see where my concern over the fictitious life of Daryl Dixon is valid? No one is safe on TV.)

And in two of the saddest scenes (seriously, if you choose to click this link or click this link and watch, get your tissues ready), mom and I sobbed over his death. Like, legit sobbed. Part of it was the loss of a character on a show I loved, and part was because you can't help but imagine what life would be like if that happened to you or someone you know. We had already watched mom battle and defeat breast cancer. I distinctly remember saying to her that night, on that ugly couch, that I could not imagine how horrible life would be if that ever happened to her. That only made me cry harder.

Exactly 3 years and 8 days later, it did.

Ironic, a bit, that mom died during brain cancer awareness month. Really, she'd only been given a few months to a year after that initial brain cancer diagnosis in early April 2014, but she was always big in supporting breast cancer and the Relay for Life and all that. Part of me wonders if she held on as long as she did, and died when she did, to serve as a reminder to keep pushing on for a cure.

If you read my blog, you know all about my mom's story so I don't need to rehash it. But what I do want to say is this:

Life is short (Hello, cliche! Yes, I said it.) It really is. Mom didn't imagine going to bed on April 9 that on April 10, she'd be diagnosed with brain cancer. Life can change in an instant, just like that.

Every moment you spend not truly living is a moment wasted. Whether it's on fear or anger or jealousy or stewing or whatever it is, the clock keeps ticking and those are moments you will never have back. You have to learn to let go of that stuff and let it dissipate into nonexistence; when you can move forward with the good in life and let go of the bad (easier said than done sometimes), you won't be wasting those important moments anymore.

I try and explain to the kids that life is like a tree. Your path starts out like the roots, growing for nine months until your debut. From there, you set out on a path and while it might seem scary, you'll start taking many different routes in life. Some of them aren't great; we all make mistakes. That's when you find a new path and follow that one for awhile. You'll make new friends and lose some; some you'll find again. You'll love and lose and learn. Eventually, your history looks like a tree in winter - lots of branches going in all different directions but hopefully, you still find yourself growing and moving upwards towards a sky full of opportunity. And while the branches look sad and bare when it's coldest out - or when times are hard in life - even your mistakes turn into something beautiful down the road.



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

They Grow So Fast

This morning, after my alarm had gone off, I laid in bed and checked out the “On This Day” feature of Facebook that shows you what you posted in the past for each day. Of course, there were plenty of pictures of the kiddos doing this or that. I happened upon a photo of my now-11 year old in kindergarten. I smiled at the cuteness and then bounced off to the next morning task without another thought.

Well, until I caught site of him all ready for school. He's so tall now, such a little man. When we first moved into this house and he first moved into that bedroom, he was tiny. Toddler-bed tiny. His room was filled with action figures and toy trucks. Now it's filled with Legos and sports posters.

This morning, he was bounding down the hallway with his backpack. I caught a glimpse of him as he rounded the corner, singing the lyrics to a Chance the Rapper song. A sweeping realization washed over me as I picked up on the subtle change in his voice: he’s not going to be a little boy for very long.

His regular voice doesn’t seem different to me, but I hear it every day and it probably won’t be as big a shock to me when it gets deeper because it will happen so gradually. But his singing voice; there was a deeper tone to it this morning. Yet another piece of proof that life travels far faster than we can ever imagine.

Just yesterday he was a baby, waking me up at 5 a.m. and only willing to go back to sleep in my arms as we sat on the couch and watched the morning news; now, I typically have to drag him out of bed in the morning.

Just yesterday he was two, picking up a baseball bat for the first time and using it like a golf club; now he made the travel team again and is playing on a bigger field.

Just yesterday he was five, frustrated that he couldn’t read a page in the book; now he’s writing full reports, song lyrics, and texting his buddies.

Just yesterday he was eight, scared to go into the pool because he couldn’t swim; now he’s swimming laps underwater and jumping in like he fears nothing.

“Mom,” he said, snapping me out of my little daydream. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," I reply, trying to find something for breakfast in the cabinets. "Why?"

"You look like you're sad."

"Nope. Just thinking about how fast you grow up."

"I might grow up, but I'll always be your baby boy."

How very, very true.


 

 





Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What Is Family?

I've always loved baseball. I played softball from a young age through my senior year of high school, and then on recreation leagues. So when my oldest wanted to play at three years old, I was excited. Oh, I have to admit, those first few years were not my favorite. The first few games were adorable - little, tiny boys and girls swinging a bat the same size as them, running the bases the wrong way. But they were soooooo long with no real action.

Then around eight years old, something changed. The kids had learned the necessary skills. They'd learned when to cover what bag, how to turn a double play, how to steal and slide into second. Games became exciting.

And that year, baseball became a family.

Tonight, that point is especially important to me because tonight, I have an 11-year-old upset because he and his friends are being picked on at school. (It happens at every school, I know. Our school is not a bad one, that's for sure. And it's only a couple kids - the vast majority of kids in class and at school he adores being around, especially his two best buddies.) 

I love my babies, but I know they're not perfect. His room is never really clean and he has missing assignments like they are going out of style, but the one thing my kid isn't is mean. In fact, what he's most upset about tonight isn't how he feels about being called names, but how much he dislikes anyone calling his friends names. We talked about true friends vs. just people in class, we talked about how you have to be kind to everyone but you don't have to like everyone. 

And then we talked about baseball.

This past weekend marked that glorious return to the field - not just for the players, but for the parents. It was the beginning of four month baseball family reunion, with parents trekking from car to bleachers. Our arms are loaded with bags filled with blankets, sweatshirts, Under Armour, sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks (okay, we forgot those, because we usually depend on Michelle for that!), seeds, gum, extra equipment, Gatorades, extra Gatorades, scorebooks, toys for siblings, and more. We talk like we just saw each other yesterday, and it feels like we're back among family.

Baseball is four months where we get to watch our boys find success and grow from failure; where they pick each other up on the bad plays and celebrate the good ones. Four months where they help take care of their field, talk to each other about the latest Cubs game or video game or snack at the concession stand, and horse around. It doesn't matter if you're tall or short, if you wear glasses, how tan your skin is, if you have orange shoes or like to read Harry Potter. Everyone is just a baseball player, no other tags or names needed. It's four months where I never have to see my kid come home sad because someone has picked on him. He never leaves that field - or another player's home - with anything but smiles and great stories of the shenanigans they had.

And so last night, we talked about baseball. We talked about true friends, we talked about who you surround yourself with and how you react to people. We talked about how even though baseball friends change teams, it's just like baseball season - you might not see someone all the time, but, once you do see them, it's like you saw them yesterday. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

No Time For Looking Back

Sitting with Dad in the nursing home yesterday, I had one of those moments where I just looked at him and my heart ached. Despite the stroke he's doing pretty well, thankfully, and we still have the opportunity to make some more memories. However, I couldn't help but think about all the opportunities I haven't made time for over the past year, five years, ten years. Though to be fair, I think no matter how much time you spend with the people you love, it's never enough.

Of course, I had lots of thoughts on my mind as I struggled to fall asleep last night. Luckily, I'd had a nice convo via text message with an old friend (old as in high school, not old as in old. We're not old. Nope.). We don't talk often enough but he always manages to cheer me up when I need it.

And any time I speak with a high school buddy, I can't help but think about Katie and of course all the opportunities we missed to make memories before she died. In her case, it wasn't a matter of enough time (although, passing away at 33 is far too early), but rather priorities; and that's what I regret the most - that I didn't make our friendship a priority. I figured we were in our early 30s and had lots of time to catch up after having drifted apart because of work and life.

I really miss having her here, and I wish I would have told her that a long time ago. I hope that everyone has a friend like Katie. Someone who will eat an entire bag of cheesy popcorn and watch Dumb and Dumber with you over and over. Someone who goes on a date with a strange individual so that you can go on a date with his cute friend. Someone who answers the phone no matter what time, because she is always there for you no questions asked.

I think about her all the time. Her smile, her laugh, her insane ideas. They all remind me that life is too short even if we live to be one-hundred years old. So take the time to tell people how you feel; what they meant to you; what you wish for them. Pen a note, type an email, drop a Facebook message - whether you spoke to them yesterday or ten years ago. Take the time to say what you need to say, because if you ever lose the opportunity, it will weigh on your heart forever.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Love? Parenting? Crafting? Past Lessons Learned?

I'm working on some blog posts, but to be honest, time is pretty limited between work, kids, their activities, and caring for my dad. So while my brain is at a loss for new material, I'd love some thoughts on what you'd like to see more of. It may help me spur some creativity, and it's anonymous! :) Just fill out the survey below!


What topics would you like to see more of?

Parenting
Love and Relationships
Lessons Learned
Crafting
Authors/Stories
Other
Please Specify:
QuizMaker

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Is Enough?

There are days when the word enough slips into my mind ever so sneakily. Then there are days - like today - when it roars into my reality like a 21-year-old-me who's had one sip too many of the Sailor Jerry. You know, like trying to be oh-so-quiet but really loudly yelling "SHHHHHH!" at everyone. That's the way enough slipped karate-chopped into my mind today.

Like this morning, when everyone's getting ready in the morning and we're in a hurry because I wanted just five more minutes of sleep and hit the wrong side of the alarm. Am I packing enough in their lunch? Have they eaten enough for breakfast? Do I have enough time to get them to school by eight a.m.? (And did everyone have enough time to brush their hair? No? Alrighty then.)

Or at work, when we have one more thing to get done. Am I doing enough for my team (if not, can I bribe with Twix and Swedish Fish)? Do we have enough time to get the projects not just done, but done right? Am I planning ahead enough to give us the best opportunity at success?

Or like tonight, as I raced to get Boston Market (yum!) so that Dad and I can have dinner together at the nursing home. Did we pick the right place and does the nursing home do enough to care for him? Did I get enough for him to eat? Did it take too long for me to get dinner and if so, will I have enough time to have a really good visit with him before needing to get home? Does he have enough clothes for the week before I bring laundry back up? Does he have enough movies to watch, or books to read, or did I spend enough time with him so that he doesn't feel so alone today? (The answer on that last one is no, because I think no matter how much you visit, anyone in a nursing home is pretty lonely.)

And then that word skips over just as I walk in the door to a little girl who is sad because I wasn't home right after work, and now I won't have enough time to play dolls with her (Or bake. Or color. Or read.). It creeps in as I review my son's homework and realize I haven't spent enough time working on it with him this week (Seriously, he considers these things to be useable sentences?). And it's there again as my husband heads into the office to handle a shift after we've had literally eight minutes to talk about life, or rather who needs to be where after school tomorrow (Romance=no dirty dishes in the sink nowadays). 

Sometimes it's at volleyball practice where I'm so grateful we have three coaches for the team, because I definitely don't know enough about volleyball to have volunteered to coach (Hello 1994 eighth grade season, or as I like to call it, "The Last Time I Played Volleyball." Fun fact: I went to freshman year volleyball tryouts IN JEAN SHORTS.) And other times it's realizing I haven't sent in papers to school because I haven't spent enough time sifting through the giant pile that has accumulated on the dining room table.

Or it's when I avoid Facebook messenger because I know somewhere in there lurks a message from a friend who I've already postponed a night out with twice because I have something to take care of and I can't handle the embarrassment of not making enough time to even spend a night with her. (Love you ladies, you know who you are.)

I think that's one of our greatest concerns as mothers, as parents, as children, as friends. What makes enough enough? And what exactly is enough?

Lately, I feel like perhaps the word enough has been just beyond my vocabulary, and I wonder when he next time will be that I feel like I'm not afraid of hearing that particular word. Because right now, I'm staring at this computer wondering if I'll get enough sleep to handle enough of tomorrow.

Then I realize that somewhere in all the enough I think I'm lacking, there really is enough. Life isn't always perfect, but it's perfectly chaotic and amidst all of it, no matter how much you think you're lacking in the enough department, someone else feels differently. Like when I come to my room after my shower to find a note on my bed.

"Mommy, I love you! I know you are busy but it's because everyone needs a little bit of your love. Thank you for loving me and giving birth to me." (I love those last words - ha! You are so welcome, little one!)

Sigh. Even if I don't always have enough to give, I definitely get more than enough in return.

Happy end of the week, everyone! Here's some of her cute notes that keep people smiling ;)





Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This mom does NOT have it all together...

Someone said to me yesterday, "You really have it together with the photos and the crafting and the working." A very sweet compliment, but I hope no one takes Facebook to be a true reflection of the daily life of a person. Facebook - and all social media - are fun little avenues to express sentiments about daily life, but they are by no means all-inclusive. Because honestly - who is gonna want to hear me (or anyone) rant and rave about the 87 moments of crap and frustration that happen to a person daily between their few sweet and peppy Facebook posts?!

Let me tell you about my true day, the one you won't see on social media. 

I typically wake-up around 6:30 a.m. and proceed to the daily argument with Peyton about her uniform. The socks are too itchy or the skirt is too long or the shirt is too big. Same uniform argument every. single. morning. Same explanation every. single. morning. I don't make the uniforms. I don't make the rules. Just put the darn thing on! Then I drop the kids off - usually without remembering to make sure Peyton brushed her hair or Alex actually packed a snack but hey, the fact that they get to school on time every day counts for something, right?

On to work (where I love what I do!), and it's a full eight hours and sometimes lunch of working to get my to-do list and the "this just popped up" list done. Or started. Or re-prioritized, lol.

Rush home after work to visit dad in the nursing home, profusely thanking whoever was kind enough to drive kid 1 to an activity while hubs drives kid 2 to their activity, and maybe run an errand or two because it's two weeks later and I still haven't managed to get kid 2's sweet friend the rest of their birthday present. Yes, you read that right. Two. Weeks. Later. Sorry CarGar, it's coming. Chit chat with the nurses about how he was that day, because I want to know the people taking care of him - and I want them to know I'm paying attention.

Manage to forget one of your best friend's birthdays. Check. Sorry Linds.

Pick kid 1 up and take them home where, if they're lucky, there is food in the fridge because between everything else, we haven't gotten to the store in like, a week and a half. I seriously sent my kid to school with three different kinds of crackers for snack because I didn't have enough of any one to make a full snack.

Then it's bath time for the kiddos while hubs and I spend the 15 minutes we have before he leaves for his shift talking about what we need to get done tomorrow, usually interrupted by a kid with wet hair standing in a towel in the kitchen and crying because it's bed time and yet again, I haven't been able to play dolls with her like I promised. 

This is usually followed by a continuous stream from the kids of "Did you fill out this school form?" No. "Did you send in this check?" Forgot. "Can you help me answer this question on my homework?" Um, say what now? What kind of math is that, anyway?! "Did you remember to send the scooter to school that you've been promising the drama club teacher for the past two months?" Oh boy, no. 

On some nights during the times Dad is in the nursing home or hospital instead of home, bedtime is followed by a phone call from Dad who, unfortunately during the not-so-good days, calls because he can't remember where he is and he's scared and lonely. I remind him he's at the nursing home, and tell him if he really needs some company I can try and find someone to sit with the kids (because my step-mom's already been there for hours and same with my brother). Or, on the particularly frustrating days, I realize I'm arguing with him and shouldn't be because he can't help what he said. Yelling at your dad on his worst day? Oh, yeah, I've been there. Daughter of the year. Dad and I don't always get along or see eye to eye, but despite everything, he's still my dad and I HATE to see him suffering the way he has and I truly hate to see him in the nursing home, no matter how good the people there are. Sometimes, he's okay and he calms down with just some stories of the good old days. And on rare occasions, he just really needs someone to come back and sit there and hold his hand and watch Barney Fife tell lame jokes alongside Andy Griffith, so it's time to see if someone can just come sit with the kids for a little while.

Then to wrap up the night, I post a video on Facebook of a cute puppy or my kid's play or some inspirational quote that probably wasn't even said by the person it's attributed to, just so I have some happy sanity to the end of my day. It definitely doesn't mean I have it all together; it just means that's the only part you see. And that's okay, because no one needs more drama! I'm willing to bet a lot of people have days just like this, and they post the happy moments because isn't that what everyone on social media does? Being a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend isn't 24/7 flowers and puppies and sunshine. But damn if we don't need all those frustrating little parts of our day to remind us to share the good moments, because those good moments seem just a little bit sweeter than usual.

Sending hugs to all the moms out there who don't have it all together - you've got this!

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