Sunday, September 30, 2012


The fall season always leaves me feeling pensive; knowing that my world is preparing to hunker down for the winter puts me in a "take stock" frame of mind. Naturally, I was attracted to those kinds of posts this week, and that's what my In Case You Missed It wrap-up has for you today.

--There was no better, more perfect gift of a post for me on the internet other than Galit Breen's Back to the Old, Front to the New. Galit is a quiet powerhouse of a writer; her daily posts feed you in such a way that you find yourself having to push away from the blogger table for awhile and not read any other blogs after reading hers, so that her words can settle over your day and bless you with their wisdom. She writes here, on These Little Waves, of the rich tradition and the layers of generations that float through, when family celebrates the Jewish New Year.

--From New Day New Lesson, Susie - a blogger I've been following for close to three years now - tells us of the unique presence we bring into others' lives; we are here to help shape and encourage, and we have to believe this.  A short, sweet, founded piece Every Life Is Worth Living, on New Day New Lesson.

--Kim, from RubberChickenMadness, bowled me over with this one, Grasp. A post that has the beauty of minimal words that feel like every one is precisely chosen. Grasp, from Kim, about the bittersweet moment in time when suddenly, your children are not so much your children as they are becoming your closest friends.  Beautiful.

That's what I have for you this week - all wonderfully satisfying reads. I'm going to heat up this cup of apple cider, and lose myself in these posts again.

How I love the internet.



Friday, September 28, 2012

The Magic of the Bean and Honoring National Coffee Day

Blogging has brought tremendous opportunities my way. I've had to knock several times and push my way in just as many times; but still - overall - all I asked for was for a door to be cracked open just a little.

Writing a monthly column, called Memoirs of My America, for the group humor site FunnynotSlutty is one of those good things that came about when I saw a door left open, and I grabbed that chance.

FunnynotSlutty is a group humor blog that features the "the funniest women on the planet," You'll find videos, posts, anything funny that you need to get through the day or to feature on your blog.

September 29 is National Coffee Day, and my post at FunnynotSlutty today perfectly toasts - as well as weeps for - the love I have for the magic bean of caffeine.

So, grab a cup (Mickey D's is giving them away free today) and I'll see you here.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's Never Too Late To Get Involved

Every day on twitter, facebook, pinterest, in magazines, on television, the radio, there is some guilt-producing mass message about HOW WE ARE FAILING OUR CHILDREN! How the internet and iPhones and our instant access to other adults has taken us away from where our time should be spent - down on the floor in eye-to-eye contact with the pieces of our heart that walk around outside of our bodies - the children we adore.

We can't win. If we dedicate ourselves too much, we're told to develop a fulfilling interest and get a life. If we decide to go get that life, we're told to get back down on that rug and play that ninth round of Candy Land.

Can't win.

I know, that in my life, I take contrived comfort from lists, quizzes, checklists, how-tos; that tell me - well, how to strike that balance and be a parent with a life as well as a parent who is in their child's life. But some of the quizzes I've taken either leave me feeling I'm about as life-achieving as a sloth in its seventh year, or as detached of a parent as Miranda Priestly.

It's times like these that I take matters into my own hands and design my own reality. What else is there to do? When research studies show that involved parents have healthier parent-child relationships and that their kids do better in school and in life, I gotta come up with a quiz that assures me that all is well on the homefront. So, I have come up with this, for me, and for you:

My Quiz To Tell You You Iz Doing A Good Job at Home:

--You support your child's learning by allowing him to do his homework at home. *give yourself 100 points

--You wonder if it's too late to become involved and worry about this. *give yourself 100 points for caring

--You ask your child how school is going. *give yourself 100 points for being involved in your child's life

--You tell your child "good job!" when he brings home good grades. *give yourself 100 points for being supportive

--You volunteer in some sort of capacity that involves your child, like lunchroom duty or Career Day: What a SAHM Does. *give yourself 100 points for selflessly giving of potential internet time

--You read aloud to your child, book-magazine-newspaper, doesn't matter. *give yourself 100 points for parent/child bonding

--You let your child know that effort counts more than anything else. *give yourself 100 points for being the cheerleader that everyone needs in their life

--You talk about disappointments and setbacks and the less than stellar moments in your life. Sure, being called Olive Oyl  hurt way back when, when I was thirteen-years-old and 5 foot 6, 102 lbs., but I got over it. *give yourself 100 points for showing you're human and haven't always been the perfect that they see you as

--You pay attention to your children's facebook friends, the texts they send out, what they do on the computer with who, and who they walk home with from school. *give yourself 500 points for secret spy ninja abilities and keeping them safe

--When your child makes a mistake, you listen with open arms and a shut mouth, never asking, "What were you thinking??" *give yourself 8,000 superstar points (the very best kind of points)

--You let your children know, that - just as they try to do their best - you, also try to do your best. So, if you're on the computer or your phone a little longer than usual some days, it's what's in your heart that counts. Make some strawberry shortcake, extra cream, and make it all better. For everyone. *give yourself 1,000 points for a rousing "we're all in this together."


"One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much I had in my bank account, or what my clothes looked like.  But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Minivans Can Be Fancy

More than anything else in my life right now, I am a front door delivery taxi service. With soccer balls, swim bags, piano books, grocery bags, and the three boys that these belong to, my vehicle of choice is a minivan.

I really like it better than anything else I've taken out for a test drive.

But, my minivan seems to bother some people. They wonder how I could give up on my life so easily.

My life? My life is the driving around town with children, their friends, Costco boxes full of bagels and toilet paper.

Whatever your stand, here's my defense on For the Love of the Minivan. Brought to you by AimingLow; where mediocre is what we shoot for.

You fancy, minivan? You fancy?

Monday, September 24, 2012


Thank you, to everyone, for making my birthday weekend a heartfelt, grateful one. All of your birthday wishes so much more than made me feel caught up from the years of shared birthday cards and cakes, as a kid.

The power of friendship is something that can't be overstated: my sister and I both said the same thing this weekend. All of our *individual* well wishes from others on our individual facebook pages made us feel very special, very happy, very fortunate. Thank You.

The party's over now and the gift wrapping's cleared away. I'm dusting my hands off and getting back to business.

Here's this week's In Case You Missed It

--Opening up with a moving post, showing us so many things that it's hard to not write an entire post on just that alone. The beauty and power of simple, strong, carefully chosen words that pack more of a punch than a 5,000 word essay. Kat of mamakatslosinit with September 24th, an entry where she tells us So Much in So Few Words, about the strength of the human spirit. A must read today.

--Being grateful for the mundane in life. The appreciation for a steadiness in which we have found our place. Arriving there, for some of us - after years of work fighting anxiety, depression, less than stellar mental states - but finally arriving there. It's a joyful moment. From Christine of coffees&commutes, with Settled, a sweet and bittersweet piece of the mountains we climb, thinking we'll never get there, and then one day: we finally do. Wonderful.

--I've mentioned them before, but it's only because you really need to subscribe to this site: Today's entry: Taking a story from normal to extraordinary. Stories that get picked up and published have these things going on inside their framework: it's a peek inside at what an agent knows will work in the publisher's market. VERY interesting. 

--This week, a new parenting site, published their list of Best Parenting Blogs. allParenting's first shout out is someone that you've got to get to know. This woman has a way of making me feel like anything I do is wondrous compared to what she gets done. Check it out: allParenting's Top Parenting Bloggers. *allparenting: An all-new parenting site for everything moms need to build and keep a healthy, happy, well-rounded family life. Follow them on twitter and FB.

--And this made me laugh, because one thing that makes something funny to people is recognizing ourselves in the same situation. The always entertaining and truth-telling ways of ScaryMommy, with Band-Aid Addiction.

Have a wonderful day. I'm going to enjoy my post-birthday now, breaking off apieceofdat GIANT Kit Kat bar and the Costco palette of Starbucks caramel frappuccinos I asked for.

Love to you all.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Ways To Milk a Birthday

As a kid, I had to share my birthday.

I know.


My younger sister will cite the same complaint, and realize that it's nothing personal. It's just that, it's your birthday, you know? And you have to share a cake? And the birthday table?

We were a family of six children, and my sister and I had a birthday just three days apart. I'm sure we should have been grateful that we got chocolate cake with cherry icing. And I'm over it now BUT now that I'm in control, I like to stretch that birthday out as long as I can. And have it all to myself.

I would have been a lot less grimacey and grumpy back when I was little had I known that one day I would be lucky enough to live in a houseful of men where I reigned as the only queen.

Hence, my birthday weekend. I begin announcing the upcoming event a week beforehand. I'm not one to bury my head in the pillows, falling into extended crying jabs, because someone forgot the big day to celebrate me.

I don't take that chance.

This morning was the official birthday start, and the queen's trumpets will sound until its end late Sunday night, about 10:30ish. I ask the kids to write up a home-made card, rather than a store bought one, telling me why I'm the best mom in the world and I give my husband a shopping list for the small things I want. I'm a believer in asking for what you want - no disappointment that way. And why risk unnecessary suffering?

I see my beautiful childrens' cards on the table as I type this, along with pretty packages wrapped in light pink and pear green (the colors I've told them I like).

I don't have to cook, my husband runs out and picks up whatever take-out I ask for. The kids do the chores I ask them to. Everyone is happy. And everyone understands.

They know the story.

I remember first telling my children about the shared birthday, watching their eyes open in horror - a horror to them more terrifying than watching a Twilight Zone episode by yourself at 10 PM when you're five-years-old. (note to self: post on how I know it's terrifying to watch Twilight Zone by myself at 10 PM)

While I'm grateful to the sky and back for my family and how much they do for me, I'm also grateful for all of you. Your tweets and facebook posts and emails to me today, wishing me a Happy Birthday, go beyond making it better for all those years of sharing a cake and never really having a day that was mine.

Just the act of wishing someone Happy Birthday is such a kind, loving one.

Thank you all so much. I don't regret the years of the semi-birthday where it was more of a "Hap Bir!" to me rather than a whole complete "Happy Birthday!" to only me. My family did the best they could, and they were just being grown-up practical.

I get that, and in a way it turned out to be the reason why I love the birthday wishes just for me today.

And why my younger sister and I call each other on our birthdays, and ask, "How about that cake THAT BELONGS TO ONLY YOU??"


P.S. In a statistically improbable life turn of events, our two boys have birthdays three days apart (can you believe it?).

When the second one was born, my MIL said, "Oh! How nice! Now you can share birthdays!"

I ugly screamed, "NO!"

She asked me, "Don't you think you're overreacting??"

No, I thought, No, I'm not.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Writers Write

They're called writers because they write.

To become a writer, step one is To Write.

Yah. Sit Down and Write. Not fiddle on twitter, play with your phone, jump around to 5,000 blogs that you love. Not check email and gmail and YouTube.

There's a reason I haven't gotten down and dirty with Pinterest - and it's the same reason I don't keep chocolate in the house. It would end in an ugly call to 911 and something about a woman who had quit eatingbathingsleeping.

You gotta take a big gulp, knock down that beast that tells you you're not a writer because you don't have a book out.

If you love to write, and you write, then you are a writer.

Easier said than done, so I've lined up in 7 Easy Steps; how to get those words down on paper.

If I can do it, you can do it. (I love that phrase)

Brought to you by AimingLow, my post today, 7 Ways To Get Your Butt Down and WRITE.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Cleaning out some posts in draft that I never got to, and came across this 1:29 short video. I tagged it, "must see."

How could I have ever forgotten about this.

I always get chills at :54; and even with the cheesy brass at 1:08, I'm crying at 1:13, and my eyes are filled with tears by the fast and furious finale at 1:19.

"DARE;" what I know about it is that it was filmed in Peru for a clothing line called SAGA.

What else do I know about it? It tells me to never let FEAR win.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


In Case You Missed Its can happen any time you want them to happen. I'm putting mine up now, and I know everyone else does theirs on Sunday, but surprise! Day late, dollar short, what else is new.

I found lots of great stuff on the internet this past week: so many talented people - you think you've met them all, and then there's another one. Enjoy:

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, Cool Things From The Internet This Week:

--If you've been hearing and therefore wondering, about the humor website, Aiming Low, hosting their first ever Non-Conference  October 12-13,  JC Little of The Animated Woman explains all about what a non-conference is like. Once you click over to her site, you may just stay there for hour after hour of animated posts ... JC is that talented, clever, endearing ; as well as the opening keynote speaker for Aiming Low. Try her on and see just how well she fits.

--From a newly discovered blog; a quiet little corner of the blogosphere where I found some BIG writing going on. Naptime Writing, her tagline "This had better be quick. They're going to find me soon." She delivered a heart-twisting post a few weeks ago, one that still has me wrapped around its finger. It involves toy trains, tired mommies, and little boys (natch.) Sad-sack-itis, a post about living larger than we realize we are.

--Here's a place with terrific Halloween Ideas videos:  from Grandin Road. Fog, cemeteries, mock black crows. I can't wait.

--Of course, some funny: a blogger I found just a while ago who has one of the best faces around. We met in person at BlogHer, and she drew me in right away. It was the way her wide eyes said I like you. Where Have All the Weeds Gone, from Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom.  (who doesn't love some Weeds talk??)

I wish you all a wonderful rest of the week.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Say It's Endearing

No one is perfect.

I have some quirks.

But so does everybody else.

I guess that watching movies with me is something others really don't enjoy doing.

Hard to believe, I know. But I've reached a transformative point in my life where I'll consider holding that mirror up to my face.

AFTER I check in with the Aiming Low readers. *that would be the ones that get me

Am I that bad? Come and read the list of  "complaints" about sharing popcorn and an aisle seat with me.

I'm just a girl who loves a movie. Asking you to love that movie with her.

Brought to you by Aiming Low. "Apparently, movie watching with me is insufferable."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Someone Tell Me, What Is This Called?!

It has to be something. I refuse to believe it's indicative of or a measure of intelligence.

But when you tell me something in a tweet about calling your dad's cell, I gasp and almost type back "What?? Your dad's in jail?!"

Almost type back, because I've learned to stop myself. Time has taught me that.

If you tell me the family's mouse is dead, I kindly touch your arm, and suggest a pet shop on Highway 60. The reaction I get is 'you're funny!' and I laugh back - fast - pretending I get the punch line. 

Play along play along, I tell myself, just like the way I'd pretend to get all the dirty jokes in second grade.

Yesterday, my son was looking in the mirror and audibly lamenting, "I can't believe these are my genes!" 

Excitedly, I told him we could go shopping later, "I've got a 20 percent off coupon for The Gap!"

I'm not dumb. I cleared A's through grade school, was on The National Honor Society in high school, and made the University's Dean's List and Honor Roll.

So, what the heck?

What is this?

Could you call it literalitis? I guess you could. But it's more of missing the whole gamut of the other use for words: homonyms, homophones.

I've tried to commit Venn diagrams, like this one, to memory; hoping it would help me keep in mind: words have more than one meaning.

I run this like an undercurrent through my brain, hoping it takes as a filter before I speak, "Words have many meanings. Words have many meanings." But I still get snared every time.

I know it has to be something, but maybe I'll just accept it and enjoy what it's brought me - making people think I'm quick as a whip and queen of the double entendre.

Actually, it comes in pretty convenient. How else could I get away with announcing, while holding the door open for the brooding, dark-haired, mystery of a man that delivers pizzas to the Friday night basketball games, "Hot Stuff coming through!"

Because, duh, obviously I'm talking about the pizza.


Thank you to Mommy Unmuted, for gifting me with The Versatile Blogger Award. I am so honored, and happy that you thought of me. Thank you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Aussies Nail It. Again. R U OK? Day

Have you heard about this? R U OK ? Day. It's got me inspired, and in turn, it's inspiring my kids. The day is Thursday, September 13, an international day set aside to ask each other, "Are you OK?"

The R U OK Day? organization has a motivating website that tells you everything you need to know, as well as some ideas on how to ask someone more about their life. Ideas on how to begin are here.

R U OK? Day is an international day of action that began in Australia. On the second Thursday of September (13 September 2012), the day is dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other "Are you OK?"

In their words, "By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life's ups and downs. By regularly reaching out to one another with open and honest conversations, we can all help build a more connected community."

Very cool.

I'm excited to initiate conversation, strengthen existing relationships, and maybe make surface acquaintances into something deeper, by asking one small question. You may give someone the courage to ask for help by asking "Are you OK?" You might stop little problems from becoming bigger, because you got involved. Help is always available and it’s important for people to know that someone cares enough to support them, even more so if they're struggling. Show you care by asking how they are.

You don’t have to be an expert to support someone going through a tough time. You just need to be able to listen to them, without judgment and take the time to follow up. Ask, listen, encourage. For ideas on where to start, how to start, and some great examples on how to ask "Are you OK?" click here. Share the list with your children.

I challenged my family, me included, to ask someone we only know on a surface level, on Thursday, September 13, "Are you OK?"

Just that one question from you on that one day, may change a life. Or, at the very least, it will bring a smile. Most people don't openly share their feelings, especially if they feel shame in their problems. The best thing we can all do is regularly talk to the people around us - regardless of whether they are at risk - because connection is good for everyone.

Here's to your chance, September 13: R U OK? Day. Ask a question that could change a life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


National Suicide Prevention Week is September 9th through 15th, it surrounds World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Reading, knowing, discussing, seeing that this week exists, encourages awareness and sheds light on a subject that is too often whispered about and carries a social stigma. The quieter we remain about suicide*, the more people will be made to believe that they have to be alone in their struggle. No doubt, this leads to the fact that suicide increases every year.

Suicide is real, and it happens. And its deaths are real. Here are the facts.

• Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death among adults ages 18-65 in America.
• Firearms are used in more suicides than homicides
• Every 15 minutes, someone commits suicide, which is equal to about 101 American deaths by suicide every day. (every 15 minutes!)

Suicide needs to be brought out in the open. Discussion can lead to prevention. It's worth a try, isn't it?

In honor of NSPW, and in memory of those that felt they had no one to turn to, please talk about this subject. If something tells you in your gut that someone you know may need a friend, follow that instinct. It could be a look in their eyes, or the hesitancy in their voice, whatever it is - ask them how they are, please do it. Make time to listen, and do it without judging. Let them know you are there and will help. If they tell you they have thoughts of taking their life, make a call with them. People do commit suicide, so listen and stay with them. Make this call together, right away. You may not get another chance.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) 1-800 -273-TALK(8255)

The truth about suicide is that it doesn't take away any duress or its pain. It's a devastating, permanent action that's not an answer - it just passes the weight of your burden on to someone else. The problems never disappear, just like the fact that you are on this planet can never be erased.

Taking your own life is beyond sad, or tragic, or horrific. Killing yourself is something that is done when thoughts aren't clear, when the mind is turned upside down, when the maze of thoughts becomes too twisted and coiled to the point of looking like there's no way out: and that the future is only more of the same.

I don't believe that anyone wants to end their life; I believe that they just want the days of living with despair and emotional torment to end.  

If someone turns to you and feels safe enough to speak honestly about the pain they're suffering, please listen. Listen without saying a word or giving a lecture. Be that person in society that doesn't let them down and who accepts them at the point where they are in their life right now.

I can't imagine a darker moment than those few that lead up to that final minute, when the person makes that move to just stop their life now. I don't know how all of us in the universe can't feel what goes on in those last seconds. The world must stop in its rotation for a millisecond, don't you think? The scream of their silent shout has to be heard somewhere.

Suicide happens across all demographics: no one is immune to it, all are stunned by it. Deciding to end your life is an action taken when the person has no other idea of what to do. The aftermath of an unfinished life - unnaturally yanked out of being - reverberates through those left behind in such a loud clamor, that years later, the whispered cause of death is still an undercurrent in the survivors' world.

How does anyone forget a suicide?

We don't.

It shapes us, it's a word we use to describe ourselves when asked who we are, it's the ache we feel when we hear yet another has taken their life.

The worst consequence of a suicide? How over forty years later, it's the first characteristic that comes to my mind, when asked who I am.

I am the child of a parent who committed suicide.

Please, if you know of anyone - or if you yourself have ever thought the world would be better without you - listen to my words here:

Listen To Your Mother Show, Madison, Wisconsin, Mother's Day, 2011. 

*I know about the imposed silence and oath of secrecy that family members ask for. I was asked to do the same, until I couldn't just watch as I'd hear of others taking their lives - and me, saying nothing. The first time I ever talked about my family and suicide was only a little over a year ago, at The Listen To Your Mother Show in Madison. Staying quiet helps no one.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The One-Year Latin Haircut Rule

Abuelas, Nanas, Nonnas, Omas, Babcias, Grandmeres, Memeres, Bubbes, Nai Nais.

If you're fortunate enough to either still have a grandmother, or remember the presence of a grandmother in your life, then I'll bet you'll have an old wives' tale you can pass on to me. Something you heard from your meemaw's lips, some firm belief she entrusted to your care, to then cast over your own children's lives.

For us, growing up raised by my Colombian Abuela, one of the first wives' tales we heard was "No cut a baby's hair before he is one year old! No!" Bad things could happen if you did. So don't tempt the fates - don't, and leave well enough alone within that one year rule; the way mothers have been doing since the first generation of child-rearing.

Today, I tell the story of what happened when I almost broke the almighty one-year no haircut rule, and took my son for his first haircut - with my mother present. You can read all about it at TikiTiki Blog today, where I write a monthly memoir column. TikiTiki Blog, one of my favorite sites because of the culture, the variety, the passion and pride that you see displayed on every page.

I hope you click over, read about a bi-cultural life, and knowing when to pick your battles.

The One-Year Haircut Rule, at TikiTiki.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


See how faithful I've been to In Case You Missed It? Almost two months now.

Because I believe in it, love it, want the world to hear of the wonder I've found. (I was a great girlfriend.)

Here's the choicest of what was out on the internet this week:

--Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot, set to whimsical animation, from BrainPickings; a free weekly interestingness digest. It comes out on Sundays and offers the best articles. "... To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known."

--There are some blogs that become like a daily devotional, a habit that begins your day the way a cup of coffee does. For me, that's Smacksy. I've been following Smacksy for over three years now, because of posts like this one: The Mayor of Afton Place. As you read, you can't help but think that the power of a prayer is that it simply exists. (Lisa-FYI, I could do with about 64 more of these vignettes. Thank you)

--The Listen To Your Mother Show videos are here! Click on that link and you will be told how you can access alllllllllllllll the videos of the LTYM shows. Listen To Your Mother is a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother's Day, performed in ten cities in all. I'm telling you - each and every single story read, a treasure. "...the LTYMShow YouTube channel will boast over 200 stories–each unique iterations on mothering, daughters/mothers, and a few sons/fathers too! Digest each story slowly over time, or take a weekend with your sisters (biological or chosen) and make a marathon of them."

--One of my dearest friends, Suniverse, has teamed up with a fellow funny lady, The Bearded Iris, to host the motherload of Craft Contests. I'm not crafty. Not in the definition hands on creation sense. I'm crafty like figuring out another way to get out of doing things I don't like to do. But making something from nothing or something from anything that will impress someone? Not a chance. BUT if you are gifted in the Martha Stewart sense, please stop over at Suniverse's and see the entry guidelines here. (*supercool plus: some cool judges involved. See who they are.)

Have a good Monday, everyone. We still have some time before winter. Soak it all in.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

If We Could Rewrite The Vows

My husband and I are not the buck tradition! type. He - because he likes things tried and true and without rebellion, and me - because, duh, have you met me? I mean, can you just imagine what my world would be like if I even tried to not do things the way you're supposed to? Just following rules gets me in trouble every day. If I tried to go against the grain, on purpose?? Sheesh.

But I'm getting off track.

Our wedding vows were straight out classic, "... in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for death or for life, for here and for there, love ever after amen." Something like that. But ... but ... if I were given the chance to rewrite our vows, I'd have to sit and stare looooong and hard at the "in sickness and in health." I'd doctor it up a bit, make it " ... in sickness and in snores ..." because the man is killing me.

I haven't had a night of uninterrupted sleep since we bought a mattress together eighteen years ago. He snores. Loudly and to the point where our children used to come crying into our room, "Mommy! There's a gorilla in the house!"

Ima looking for your good solid relationship advice today, people.

What to do, about the snores? Brought to you by Aiming Low, my weekly column, which turned out to be a reverse advice column where the writer asks for help ( and see what just happened there? Even when I try to play by the rules it still comes out inside out and backwards.)
I love you guys.


Friday, September 7, 2012

The Moth StorySLAM Comes to Milwaukee

I am addicted, but there are worse things. I can't get enough of it, but it's easy enough to obtain.

I am hooked on live story telling, raconteurs, unscripted and pure from the hip ordinary days turned into extraordinary tales.

Tonight I went to The Moth's launch of their Milwaukee Moth StorySLAM. A storyslam is a themed open mic story telling competition in which you get five minutes to take the stage - sans notes - to slam your true story. With SLAMS already currently thriving in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Louisville, and Pittsburgh, The Moth has branched out its satellite storytelling slams to four new cities: Seattle, Portland, Boston AND Milwaukee. Since its inception in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. (oh, you mean sold out like the sold out one I was in alongside Molly Ringwald this past May at The Pabst? sorry - couldn't help it)

Ophira Eisenberg is the emcee for The Moth shows. She is a beautiful, quick-witted, charming Canadian (of course) who makes performers feel like a million bucks when they're around her. Named New York Magazine's Top 100 Comics, she is also famous for her work as a writer, storyteller, and Ask Me Another, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia. She can tell you all that - I can tell you that she should always wear green. She's killer in green. After seeing her emcee two shows, I can't imagine anyone else hosting The Moth.

StorySLAMS are the most fun you can have without going on a roller coaster. You attend the show to hear fabulous TRUE stories; and if you'd like a shot at telling yours, you put your name in and cross your fingers, eyes, self, everything. Ten are chosen. Hope that they pick you.

I put my name in last night and crossed everything - they called me up on stage. The night's theme was "nerve;" and since luck favors the prepared, I always have a story in my back pocket. I performed a piece on cynophobic me somehow finding the guts to take on a slobbering bear-dog that went after my two babies like they were the chickens Steve Irwin dangled in front of that alligator. There was an $89.00 Dansko hausfrau clog involved.

It was a fantastic night, filled with lives shared; some confessional, like the story of an affair just ended. Some enlightening, like the tale of what goes on behind the scenes of a fatal car accident. But all to entertain. Like the gigantress 6'4 in heels exotic dancer who realized you really don't even need to know how to dance to be an exotic dancer, the high school teacher who made salad from the baby carrot projectiles thrown against his head every time he turned to face the blackboard, the empty nester who fell in love with her new baby of a puppy - enough to jump in after him in a harrowing rescue when he fell through end-of-winter's thin ice.

Ah, the night was over much too quickly. I'm still floating on air from all the lives I was able to peer into. I'm hooked and have to wait until the first Thursday next month for the next storySLAM. In the meantime, to get my story fix, I've built a stage in my front yard out of a cabinet shelf and two milk crates. Come one come all! Tell me your stories!!

To see some of these fabulous Moth videos, check out The Moth's youtube channel. If you'd like a chance to send your words out into the universe, snag a ticket in one of The Moth's events here. For The Moth's advice on how best to slam a story, click this or this.

If you get a chance to see The Moth national live story tellers tour in your city, do it. If a StorySLAM is within two hours driving time for you, fill up the car and go. 

All you blog readers, come on: who doesn't love a good story more than a blog reader?

Seriously. The Moth. Go. Now.

Thank you, The Moth, for finding us moth-worthy and giving Milwaukee their very own StorySLAM. Every first Thursday of the month. Dang. I can hardly believe this.

*The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story.

 The Milwaukee Moth StorySLAM launched on Thursday, September 6th and will continue monthly on first Thursdays at The Miramar Theatre with support from WPR. This month's inaugural theme is “Nerve,” so all stories about the courageous (or the just plain rude) are welcome. Each month a panel of judges crowns a winner who will go on to compete in a championship event. Guests can sign up to tell stories or to judge them beginning at 7 p.m.; the stories begin at 8 p.m.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What Can Happen When We Honor Our Emotions

If you're anything like me, when given the opportunity to hear someone speak on a way of life that you strive for every day, you make it happen.

I routinely pore over our community paper in hopes of finding an interesting discussion, meeting, session; something that would inspire me, enrich me, and connect me to like-minded people. I remember a December morning, driving to hear a just-published author speak on her book, "Emotional Abundance." This screamed my name loud and clear: I had the emotional part, now I just had to learn how to make it feel abundant. Michelle Bersell, an area psychotherapist, was the speaker.

By nature, my DNA has "take no risk, risk no rejection" stamped all over its genome type. But Michelle had me nodding my head up and down so vigorously in agreement during her talk, that I made my shy self walk up to this intelligent woman afterward, and thank her for her words that were like water to my parched soul.

She was gracious, and so began our friendship. I have known Michelle professionally as my life coach and have come to now know her as my friend. She is a pure spirit of a woman, who feels we are all more capable than what we set before us.

I decided to take another risk and ask Michelle to be on my blog so that I could introduce you to this inspirational woman. I spoke with her on the phone, we emailed a few times, and today I am excited and proud and humbled to have her here, talking on a fascinating subject: our emotions. Her premise: when we "own" and honor our feelings, rather than interpret them as "good" or "bad," the ground is fertile for self-empowerment and an active role in our lives. Before uncovering the truth to her emotions, Michelle confesses that even though she was a psychotherapist, she would become paralyzed by her feelings and fears.

Thank you, Michelle, for accepting my invitation to be on my site today. I am thrilled to share you with the wonderful people I've met along the way.

As a mom, are you filled with confidence about how attentive and present you are with your kids? Do you feel like you are able to fulfill their every need? If you are like most moms, including myself, the answer is likely a big, fat NO!

Even though you already realize that not being able to fulfill your child’s every need is a good thing, a part of you yearns to do so. It is that part of you that wants to feel above adequate in providing for your kids’ emotional needs. Because women happen to be genetically set up to be more aware of feelings, moms tend to set much of the emotional tone in the families. Through being connected to your feelings, you are able to create greater intimacy within your relationships as well as a more robust emotional center.

Setting the emotional tone in your family is no easy task. You have your own emotions to deal with, your spouse or partner’s, as well as your kids. So while you may wake up enthused about your day, your son or daughter may make some offhanded comment that gets you reeling.

Not too long ago, my son’s comment “I like Dad’s kisses better,” got me going. Making matters worse, his twin brother agreed. My saving grace was my daughter, who although did not stick up for me, at least didn’t chime in with her brothers.

Is it silly that a comment like that tweaked me? Well, yes and no. As a psychotherapist, I can tell you the easier thing to do is blow off our feelings, no matter how irrational or pathetic they may first appear. Our rational mind can easily dismiss and label incidents that trigger our feelings as insignificant, wrong or shameful, in order to get us to move on with our day.

Here’s the deal though: Should you blow off your feelings, you are unknowingly missing crucial information about yourself that is impacting the emotional tone you set in your family AND that will keep you from feeling fulfilled.

What was underneath my own feelings was the oh so stereotypical mother’s guilt. Even though I thought I got the work/life balance down, I wondered “Did I miss the mark? Was I not available to my kids as much as I thought?” Wow, - all that from one little comment!

Of course, I am not conscious of those thoughts and concerns as I go about my day. Most of the time, I am feeling pretty darn good as a parent. It would be so easy for you or I to ignore these tiny little hurts. Yet I persuade you not to because what is underneath the feeling is juicy information that supports you and I to live in even greater joy and fulfillment.

You see, each feeling has its own unique gift. The gift of guilt is that when it is understood from your empowered self, it is supporting you to reclaim more of who you are as a woman. In other words, there is an old, outdated version of who you think you ought to be that no longer serves you. For us women, the ideal mom version we hold within us runs deep. In fact, our rational minds may dismiss this super mom version of ourselves entirely. The ego, which holds your fear, wants to use that version of super nurturer to test you as you grow more fully into your unique expression of being a woman. What is often at the hull of the ego’s notion of keeping our children emotionally healthy is being the ultimate nurturers.

As a psychotherapist and a mom, I can tell you what kids really need is to have nurturance modeled to them. Sometimes, nurturance is modeled through providing them with the care they need. What is often missing, however, is being able to model how to self-soothe.

To be frank, this task can be a challenge, when most adults themselves do not know how to self-soothe in a truly nurturing way. What is modeled to kids is turning to food, alcohol, Facebook and cell phones to try to ease our inner tensions. What is modeled is short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions.

Think of how different our society would be if kids understood how to address their feelings from an empowered stance instead. Rather than feel weighed down or helpless, your kids would be able to recognize how their negative feelings are showing them how to get back on track to their true selves. The result is they feel more certain in who they are, giving them the confidence to allow their true self to shine!

You and I, as mothers, are at the forefront of this change in emotional well-being. As you can see from my own example, this isn’t about providing yourself or your kids with a quick fix. It is a daily practice to recognize when your small self comes up that you are actually being guided to honor more of your truth. The more you honor your truth, the greater your ability will be to truly serve your kids, family and society, from a place of fulfillment rather than exhaustion.

The small self tries to insist that we must be the ones that provide the emotional nurturance for our kids. Your empowered self, on the other hand, knows that true emotional nurturance comes from within each individual. Giving our children this internal understanding is a gift they will carry throughout their lifetime, as well as onto their own children.

To make this shift within yourself and your children, you must be willing to reclaim what has been considered weak, shameful, or even too sensitive, as one of your greatest strengths. In my new book F.E.E.L.: Turn Your Negative Feelings Into Your Greatest Allies, I show you how each of your emotions is present to serve and support you. With a list of over 65 negative feelings, I share with you both the small self version as well as your empowered self’s message that is unique to each specific feeling you experience. The result is you learn how to move from disempowerment to empowerment, from fear to love, and from stress to peace day by day, moment by moment, feeling by feeling so you can teach your children to do the same.

To obtain your copy (plus exclusive bonus gifts), go to

Michelle Bersell, M.A., M.Ed., is known as a visionary leader in emotional consciousness who challenges common thought and understanding regarding emotional well-being. Combining her training as a psychotherapist along with her perceptive insight, Michelle continues to lead thousands to a new level of accessing and celebrating their potential. 

Besides media attention in Women’s World magazine, Parents magazine and Fox Television, Michelle is featured in the upcoming film documentary The Secret 2 LUCK.  Her latest book F.E.E.L.: Turn Your Negative Feelings Into Your Greatest Allies is a featured gift of the 2012 Emmy Awards.  Michelle has also received national recognition as one of the “50 Great Authors You Should be Reading” for her first book Emotional Abundance: Become Empowered. Michelle currently lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her loving husband, daughter and twin sons. 

Find out more about Michelle at: 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Way We Pictured It

A set place for everything, meals that look like nouvelle cuisine, satiny bras with bottoms to match. When I daydreamed about my adult life, this is how I imagined it.

Instead, I sit here typing, holding a blue coffee mug that doesn't match any others in this house. I've got a box of noodles, jarred sauce, and thawed chicken breasts planned for dinner - and do you really want to know about my faded flowered underwear and once-upon-a-time-white bra? I'd answer no; if you read it, you'll picture it, and now I'm sorry for what your mind just showed you.

My gushy butt is on a mismatched chair that's not even shabby chic. Our crafty coffee table is unintentionally crafty via Hot Wheel cars scraped across its top not that many summers ago -- and not because it was seized by a knowing eye at a street fair.

I have papers at my feet because I can't decide on the best way to file and also keep everything I have going on in my life handy so that I can find it again. Easily. It's hard to remember what name I've given to what file on any given day.

I need a way to outsmart myself, and I have none.

Did I think I'd be a woman who'd enter middle age with a bottom so soft and flabby it hurt to sit on a church basement folding chair on donut Sunday? In my wildest dreams, did I envision triceps so loose they'd enter my field of vision when I'd angle cut carrots for dinner?

One promise I made to myself for my life as an adult was to never let myself, or my life, "go." Letting yourself go, you know, it means exactly that - letting things happen, no plan. Letting go is the reason the muumuu exists. Just - everything on my body, make a run for it, see how far you can get before someone tries to stop you.

Run, triceps! Run, glutteus maximus! before your owner says enough and returns you back to order.

Ha. They started running years ago and no one's yelled come back! since.

It's hard to say what's stronger; the desire for life as I dreamed it would be: bright white morning sunlight pouring in through billowy curtains dreamily parted open by a pair of yoga-strong arms. Or the reality -- one curtain panel yanked to the side by a still sleep-dizzy hunched over woman who just trenched her back by stepping on a dryer ball that fell out of last night's laundry, muttering to herself about it being 6:00 a.m. already. 

I had choices, but I never took the time to ponder. I could have planned; what things went in my home, how my days would go, the domestic table place settings and enchanting meals, everything - so much better.

My God it sounds so sad, doesn't it? Nothing in my house - especially me - is neat or thought out or perfectly matched.

Except for the first thing that I see when I open my bedroom door every morning. To my right, one precisely placed next to the other - displayed and arranged to the equally measured height and space in between them as the tape measure directed me to; in frames decided upon after comparing 15 other blacks from flat to gloss, on matting that was felt between thumb and middle finger for thickness and held up against color swatches for the white closest to the color of clouds - are portraits of my three boys, each one in a daffodil yellow shirt.

I spent forever deciding on the exact yellow of those shirts.

* * * 

Image via flicker cc


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The weekly round up and holy cow but the one regular feature on this blog that I've stayed faithful to. It's been almost two months that I've had an In Case You Missed It post.

Every year that I live with myself, I get smarter about what it takes for me to see something through. I'm realizing it's belief and passion in something. I enjoy sharing good links I come across on the internet. I get excited about having my soul moved or my perspective changed. Learning about the art of writing and tricks of the trade, from grammar to how to structure a story, geeks me out in a most satisfying way.

Here are some fun reads I found while popping in and out of the internet this Labor Day weekend. Hope you have a chance to check them out.

ICYMI, 1st autumn edition: 

--She has two books of parental anecdotes under her belt for a reason. Funny, funny, this woman is funny. I love a laugh that comes from seeing myself in someone else. Robin of Robin's Chicks does that so well, with a great post today about "I Hate Nature." Yes, oh yes, the snakes in the grass. An advance warning, please! I Hate Nature, by Robin, of Robin's Chicks.

--Mommyhood and Fashion and all the failings that come to mind. When I was a teen, I'd look at all the sad fashion long gone moms and promise I'll NEVER give up like that. But we do. Kim of Let Me Start By Saying has an awesome post on how we can convince ourselves we still won't land on a Glamour Don't page: Fall Fashion: I'm Already In Style.

--From Seth Godin, an author of more books than I can remember. He is inspirational and someone who causes me to ponder. I subscribe to his feed, and his short posts mince no words. The one this week, on DISCIPLINE: the rewards/punishments to not limiting our time in places that won't get us where we want to go. (Get thee behind me, twitter.)

--I like to have online time with my three boys, sites where we routinely sit together and share wonder and amazement. That's why I subscribe to Odd Stuff Magazine. Here's what we wowed over with their latest edition: "8 Best Adrenaline Pictures of The Week."

*Happy Tuesday that feels like a Monday and that makes it a good thing. (I love short weeks.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Little of This, A Little of That

Happy well earned Labor Day to everyone.

Today, we don't ask anyone to work in this house: even the littlest one who thinks he's the Cinderfella of the home.

We'll be spending the last day of summer vacation enjoying time alone, time together, lazying around, crazying around.

Before putting the day to rest last night, I received an email that an exciting new online magazine, bonbon break, was going to feature my post, For The Love of Sleep .

If you get a chance today to take a peek at their new site, I think you'll like it as much as I did. I've met some interesting bloggers there since finding out about bonbon a few weeks ago.

In their words, "Bonbon Break is getting the attention it is because of the wonderful bloggers we are introducing week after week. What makes Bonbon Break special is that our readers are not only able to see familiar sites they love but they get to continually find new ones to discover."

It's true: great content, great writers, an interesting read.

Enjoy the last wonderful day of summer vacation.

See you back at the salt mines Tuesday.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

You Are My North, My South, My Sun, My Moon

Image via Flickr  cc
Once there was a well-meaning, well-intentioned woman who had three children. She and her husband love these children and work as hard as they know how to give them food that they like, in-style clothing, a respectable looking home, and a car that doesn't have too much rust on it.

The children were all handsome and blessed with quick wit and an appreciation of a good prank. No doubt, characteristics inherited from both the mother and father, but more from the mother. The children made the parents as happy as parents could be and there was no end to the joy that they brought into the lives of the mother and father.

The father took pride in the outward assurances of all the good he had brought to his family; a comfortable home, a dinner table always full of more food than his children could eat, a wife who was able to be home for their children if they needed it.

But the well-meaning woman, who adores their children more than she could ever find the words to express, would ponder the doings of the day; did she provide them with the stuff of a happy memory? Would they look back on life with her and smile?

She thinks about their days together and there is so much that tells her how she misses the mark that the other women she knows always seem to hit.

There was the Monday last June when she was to pick up her youngest from an early release of a class, only to forget and have one of the on-the-mark parents call her at home, to tell her they had her child with them, wondering where she was.

While out shopping one day, she finds a jacket that makes her think of her oldest son. Excitedly, she buys it for him and leaves it hanging on the coat hook near the back door. He sees it when he comes home and asks her, "Whose is that?" When she tells him through grinning teeth that it's his, he responds, "No it's not."

Driving home from a store that is unfamiliar to her, she is caught in a roundabout intersection and loops through it only to find herself thrown back into the parking lot from where she first entered. It takes her teen-age son sitting next to her, who is one-month-old in driver's license years, to talk her through and out of the roundabout the second time.

Trying to encourage her happy-to-stay-home middle child to be with others, she promises him that if he arranges a bike ride with friends, she'll take care of his chores for the day. His green eyes look at hers and they strike a deal. He comes home late in the day, spent, to find that his bedsheets haven't been changed, nor his laundry folded and put away, because she just forgot.

But one evening, everything felt in place. The house was caught up and there was space to breathe before dinner. She pulled everything together for the day, miraculously somehow. More than anything that night, she wanted to squeeze in one of summer's last walks. The woman and her three sons left, planning to be home in time for her husband's arrival, when they would all eat together.

The four of them walk quickly, each boy trying to make her laugh the loudest as they take turns presenting their "walk of the day." She stays back a bit, watching her loves from behind and listening to their knock knock jokes - smiling to herself, finally feeling like one of the women who always hits the target. They return home and the first one to enter the house is the youngest. She smells the smoke as soon as he opens the door.

As they were weaving their way around the neighborhood - she, giddy from a day without failing - the potatoes that she had forgotten to take out of an oven that she had forgotten to turn off, were turning cajun blackened instead of fluffy baked, from their second hour in hell's fires. She shouts orders like a seasoned captain of a pirate ship, "Open the doors! Get the overhead fan going! Slide the patio door over!" and her children take to the commands as if they're running gunpowder to the cannons.

After she has all hands on deck, she sits at the kitchen island and tries to not cry. But the disappointment, again, of just not being able to be what she feels these beautiful children deserve, becomes too much for her to hold in.

"I'm so sorry. I am so sorry. I wish I was like the moms your friends all have. I'm so sorry."

All three of her princes surround her and promise that it doesn't matter, it's only potatoes.

Her littlest one pushes his way in under the arms of the two oldest brothers. "Naaah," he says, his little head resting against her shoulder, "I like it this way. It's more fun."


*I had coffee Friday with a wonderful local blogger I've come to know, Jen, of tranquilamama, and she loved this story that I told her, about my week. I decided to share it with all of you today, hoping that if there's a woman out there reading this who thinks she's missing the target, that she sees she's actually nailing it, right on the head.



Related Posts with Thumbnails