Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Right People for You

Posing by a giant skull, because they get it...

During a sociology class in college, I remember our professor saying that the most successful relationships are those where both parties share the same values.

Like being with people who will pose in front of a giant skull, no questions asked, because they know you like to do things without having to explain. And they even smile while doing it.

Shared values with people who believe you and don't try to talk you out of things. When you tell them you mean it, you don't want store bought cards but a letter from the heart instead -- even though it's more work for them, they give you that letter from the heart instead.
The wondercards

When you share values with someone, you will go to the grocery store when it's cold and raining for ingredients because home-made spaghetti in is what you prefer to a birthday dinner out.

Today we celebrated my birthday, and I spent it in a way that holds worth for me. A meal made by my husband, cards made by my children, and a visit to see my son who is away at college.

We went walking, and I told of how when I was little, my father would take me with him for a Saturday afternoon beer at a corner tavern. He'd place a single dollar on the counter, light up a cigarette, and sip his foamy beer while I sat, legs dangling off the bar where he had set me, nibbling from a foil-wrapped Hershey candy bar. It was just me and my father, and these private times together are a treasured memory. My husband tried to re-create my childhood afternoons inside of a suburban five dollar a glass wine bar instead of a ten-cent-tap city tavern. He doesn't smoke so he puffed on a pretzel stick instead. Our children were mortified, but I was thrilled, and my stomach ached from laughing.

So suave and sophisticated
I knew someone years ago who, when she found out it had been my birthday, asked me, "What did you get?" I told her everything I wanted, a home-made meal, and crayoned cards from my children. She told me she'd be angry if there was no dinner out, and no gifts.

I couldn't believe what she said, and she hurt my feelings with how she thought I had "no gifts." She wasn't the right people for me.

Looking at these pictures, I wonder how she could say no gifts?

Shared values. The most important determining factor in friendships, relationships, with the people we know.

The right people for me are the people right here. The ones who understand, and gift me, with exactly what I hold dear to my heart.

I love you, my family, I love you so very much. Thank you for a wonderful birthday.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Life is Rewarding, but Challenging

I plan on sticking around for the long run. What that means, is that to be here, as long as I can be -- bar an unfortunate early demise -- I need to make changes.

I like my life. Through the unlikable moments bordering on feeling unsurvivable, still, at this moment, things feel good.

If we want to enjoy life as long as we can, there are some things that have to happen, without question. Non negotiables that are required on a daily basis to have the odds be ever in our favor.

The biggest things of the largest crucial impact over time, are basic (basic does not mean easy, look it up):

Eat right. Sometimes (okay a lot for me) that means saying no to Twinkies, or whatever your Twinkies is. Put the Twinkie down and say yes to nuts, fish, raw vegetables, raw fruit, whole grains, and wonderful water. Keep good stuff in the house as in good for you, and leave the Fig Newtons on the shelf at the store. Not easy, that's why I said "challenge."

Move every day. Without question, you need to exercise, or walk, or play catch outside. Get up and off the buttchair. Everyday, rain or snow or too hot or too foggy or too lazy, you move your body and don't go to bed until you do it for 30 minutes at least once that day. Don't be lazy.

Sleep. Skipping sleep to find more time in the day seems like an easy answer. I know it does, but it's not. Time management in your day, with strict limits on how many minutes you spend where, is the only way to find time. Time Management is another way of saying Discipline. Sleep no less than six to eight hours a night. Go to bed.

Company. Oh, watch who you are with. If you can help it. Keep your group filled with encouragers and light bringers. There will be times when those you know need you, and maybe will be not their usual selves -- if you keep yourself strong, you can be there for them, and lift them back up to being where they want to be. But the ones who bring you down with negative comments or wear you out by always finding the worst in situations... reflect on their place in your life, because it can be mentally unhealthy to talk to some people. You may not have to unfriend them, but you could get busy doing other things that keep you fulfilled. This is hard.

Be a good guardian of your mind. This takes work. There is a lot out there that you really don't need to know about. The one in charge of what you see is you. Be aware but watch your sources and your doses. We need to know about our world, without a doubt, but we don't need to know about every single sick act out there. Take care of your soul -- watch what you read, what you listen to, what your ears and eyes fall on. Do not fall for the clickbait.

Find something that takes you into the zenzone. Faith, prayer, meditation, focus, writing, running, playing with your kids, music, community theatre, drawing, baking, singing. That thing that makes time stand still is that thing that recharges you. Find it and disappear into it. It can be what I do. Don't get out of your bed in the morning until you spend two minutes listening to your breath, and feeling who you are. This is an important one.

You can pull everything together by saying, Pay attention to your life. This takes work, and the challenge is to care about the situations we create for ourselves, with our eyes as wide open as we can. The reality is that we are a sum of our daily activities. There are rewards to the challenge of saying yes to the right things.

I want all the time I can get, because old people tell the best stories.

Should add ten years... 
 * * *

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Other Ex

The right time. The wrong person.

The wrong time. The right person.

A story of a woman and her friend, lost due to circumstances, whether intentional or not, will always be a story seeped in sorrow, strength, pain, conviction. Sometimes the women are reunited, different but braver, less fragile and more determined to find again what first drew them to each other. Other times, we can only remember, wistfully, of a person who once was an important part of our life.

The anthology, My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends, was released yesterday and I am honored to have my story, "Diminished Returns," featured:

Heading toward the table, I saw a beautiful woman. She stood confidently in front of a group of women, her arms over her head in the midst of animated story telling. Her voice, loud, and with gusto from the moment of  being part of the excitement of the women around her. Her adoring crowd, every one there, with their eyes up and sparkling toward her. Each one, hoping to be her friend... 

My Other Ex has skyrocketed to #4 on Amazon in its category. My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends, edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger is available on Amazon.

I am proudly giving away a copy. Please leave a comment, and I'll be picking a winner via I will email you for your address.

And thank you, for being here, to share in the joy of celebrating the release of this much awaited work of female friendship.

* * *

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Best of the Internet

I get excited when I find something good to share with you. I know we all have limited time, so it's hard to limit to only three or four links, because if you're anything like me, you want to click on everything...

So, here is the best of my internet this week:

--From Women Writers, Women's Books, "Can't Find My Way Back Home,"  how to construct memoir. GOOD words, on seeing your way through the murkiness of memory.

--From We Blog Better, "How to Avoid a Google Penalty." If you notice traffic is down, or no google searches coming to your blog, you'll be surprised to find that maybe you've done something that has made you vanish from google searches. Like reposting your content on a bigger site. Here's some ways around that.

--"How to Hold an Unpopular Opinion" from the site becomingminimalist. Terrific read. I am a liberal in a conservative town. How do we not shut down when we feel so different from that which surrounds us. Some great uplifting ways to keep on going.

Happy Sunday, happy reading. (you're all the best)

* * *

Thursday, September 11, 2014

697 Random Things About Me

1.  I like to laugh a lot. Especially videos on youtube about people slipping. On anything. A quick look at my viewing youtube history will show you a lot of reasons I'm going to hell.

2.  I used to be in love with pineapple until I became allergic. I could slam down 15 pina coladas like nobody's business. A fact that many a beau from my past turned into a dealbreaker.

3.  In my youth, I secretly wished to be a horse.

4.  I like to come up with new ways to walk. Sometimes I swing my hips more, other days I try to walk straight without moving.

5.  I love reading big, fat books. "Ox-stunners" as my history teacher used to call them.

6.  I never let my kids get the screen time they ask for.

7.  I'm afraid that in five years we're going to find out that rainbow loom bands are toxic.

8.  Some part of my body hurts every day.

9.  I just decided to make this list 37 things.

10.  I will always sneak out for ice cream. Especially "birthday cake" flavor. I just say I'm going out for a walk.

11.  I have no problem sneaking out to matinees by myself. I just say I'm going to throw the garbage out.

12.  I sneak out a lot. My family finds me missing a lot. (traumatized? maybe. I do hear them randomly shouting MOM??! every now and then)

13.  I like to watch the Twilight Zone every night. I force my children to do it with me using screen time as leverage.

14.  I love coffee but it makes me sick. It's like Little Timmy who ate strawberries every day even though he was allergic.

15. Winter makes me sad. It's like an old lady just giving up. (The maudlin first appears at 59 degrees)

16. I go for a walk every day to stay fit. I have adjusted my idea of fit as time marches on. I tried to do push ups but my kids told me my form was horrible because I was too weak and they padded me on the shoulder and told me to give up.

17. When I wear my squeaky Croc sandals it sounds like birds are following me. I have ornithophobia so it makes for a stressful walk.

18.  I'm afraid of birds and loose dogs. Cujophobia.

19.  I'm not a dog person, per se, is as polite as I can be about it.

20.  Public radio is my friend and I talk to it all day.

21.  My only friend in grade school was Rod Serling.

22.  I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Just show me a spot. I don't know why children resist sleep. If someone pointed me to a dark corner and gave me a pillow and a blanket you wouldn't hear a wail out of me.

23.  I always sneeze two times in a row.

24.  I make my children try some pretty crazy recipes.

25.  I'm the one who eats all the Oreos from the store. I act like I can't hear when the kids ask.

26.  I fiddle with my hair when I'm worried until I look like Operaman.

27. I dream in color. My husband dreams in black and white. I think he's missing cones in his brain.

28.  When I go for walks I bring along my umbrellas to use as momentum boosters because they're less embarrassing than ski poles. Like my husband says, "This isn't England, you know."

29.  I try to plan the best walking route to avoid as many dogs as possible. And the birds in the park.

30.  People will always be interesting to me.

31. I stare at things and either fall all the way in love or to the bottom of the well grossness with them. Trees: in love. Mushrooms: grossiosity.

32.  If I had had a daughter, I would have named her Pascal.

33.  Patsy Cline will always be my favorite.

34.  Red Skelton will always be my favorite.

35.  I  can't concentrate and don't feel right if I don't have earrings on.

36.  I could eat spaghetti and meatballs for breakfast, lunch, dinner and second breakfast.

37.  I love to play catch.

BONUS: Dimmer light switches make me angry.

Surprise Bonus: Dim lights make me crabby.

Super Surprise: A light switch should either be on or off. Make dimmers illegal.

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