Friday, November 30, 2012

LIM: SOC for The Rest of Us

photo credit: Steve took it via photopin cc

Friday night, and just like I'm having to declutter and make way for the new Christmas presents coming our way, it's the same doing with a weekly brain cleanse.

The LIM, Loose Inner Monologue brain dump--since I'm too chicken for a brain drill. I've set aside Friday night as the night I just let it all out and make room for the new crazy. My thoughts aren't sophisticated or linear enough for a civil Stream of Consciousness, so I've got my own blog space here to hang it up to dry.

The role of blogging as a mental health tool is seriously overlooked.

My third LIM, loose inner monologue, right here, where it belongs--out into the universe and out of my packed head.

This Week's LIM, Loose Inner Monologue: because streaming thoughts? Not so much. More like a karate chop response to my immediate environment.

Is it menopause? Is it perimenopause? Is it tomandjerrykatyperrypause? I don't know, but all I can do lately is wish for the days I once had and wonder where the heck time goes and look at my kids whose faces still look like this to me ...
... and try and figure out why I have to look up when I talk to them. My God but they were beautiful.

And oh oh oh but everything is a trigger lately. Seriously. I had to hold it together at the supermarket this morning when Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast came on. You know how hard it is to shop for kids with food allergies because you have to read labels and you can't even read the ingredients because your eyes are blurry with katyperrymenopausal tears because "Daddy? Don't you walk so fast!" came on?

Triggers everywhere. I can't even go grocery shopping now? What the? I can't see a Froot Loops, or an Apple Jacks, or their once favorite: Cheerios.

Grocery store music kills me. Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast kills me. I remember when they were so little and now they're teenagers. Late teenagers. How could they be teenagers already?

I can't believe I'm not the mother of little kids anymore. We used to go through Costco loads of Cheerios. We'd make Cheerios necklaces with red licorice shoestrings. Now there's a fun way to live, with a snack around your neck 24/7.

I can't believe what a caricature of a weepy-eyed mother I've become. Barely holding it together while I make it through the cereal aisle. Sheesh. just make it out of the store in one piece, woman, and pray no one you know sees you huddled on the floor wailing "Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy??" while clutching a box of Cheerios to your chest. 

And just when I put the Cheerios back and think I'll make it out of Aisle 5 safely, I spy ohmygod THE FROOT LOOPS. They used to LOVE Froot Loops. We learned how to sort according to color with Froot Loops.

Why, why, why you got to be like that, Father Time?

You know, if this supermarket was smart, they'd wanna keep me in here longer because I am a shopping kind of gal. If they put on some naughty Justin Bieber singing to this middle aged mama all about "If I Was Your Boyfriend," they'd be getting a lot bigger chunk of my husband's change. All spent in Aisle 7, Health and Beauty. New hair dye? Justin's makin' me feel it. In the cart. Is this red lipstick too dark for a woman of certain years? Mama don't think so. Toss it in. Ooooh, extra lengthening fibers mascara Super Lash in blackest black? I think two will do. One for my place, one for Justin's.

Who pays these store music people? Because this place is getting ripped off. I'd show them how to get someone to open their purse like a parting of the red sea.


Have a mind that's more choppy than streamy? I invite you to write up your own Loose Inner Monologue post. Leave your link here. Admit it--just the mention of a brain dump and your thoughts are all jamming the aisle, like the last chopper out of Vietnam.

"One at a time, thoughts, one at a time ..."  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dear Miss Quill

This post is written for the great teachers out there, the ones that go beyond their job description. Teachers like you make a difference every day in the lives of kids, like the kind I used to be. Thank you.

English is not my first language, Spanish is.

I went to grade school in the early 70s, where a non-English speaking child was placed in what was then called "Special C" classes, short for Special Curriculum. There were no ESL programs, or mainstreamed classrooms, I was in a room with all types of kids, with all types of Special C needs. I did a lot of playing--mostly with Colorforms. I had taught myself to read at home, with my grandmother's Spanish books, but there were no books in Spanish at school, so I colored a lot instead.

There were numbers, math. That I could do. Math. You didn't need English to do math. My days were spent with unusual children, like me, at an open floor space. There were no desks, we were on our mats, playing with shapes, doing random math, and coloring. I went through crisp white coloring pages like popcorn.

Aside from not speaking English as well as the others, I was also odd in another way: my lunches. Papaya, mango, goat cheese. I was odd, there is no other way to put it--but, also smart. That I didn't know yet.

My kindergarten teacher was happy with me, as was my first grade teacher--I was always quiet in the corner. I never caused anyone any problems, any extra work, any anything for anybody. I can't remember the names of my kindergarten or first grade teachers. But, in the second grade, I met Miss Quill.

From the first day I was with her, Miss Quill looked at me. She made eye contact with me on a daily basis. Her eyes were green, a hazelly green. She had pupils that vibrated back and forth like hummingbirds, but I got used to that. When I think back on it, I can figure out that she must have just graduated from college--she shared a house with two or three other young women. She was like me, odd. Tall, with a peculiar exaggerated gait. Her hair was the straightest hair I'd ever seen, and stopped just below her earlobes. Miss Quill dressed in simple patterns, except for the days she wore my favorite--her green and yellow paisley shirt dress. With everything, she wore her predictable ivory square-toed pumps.

She brought books for me to read at school, and math games. She'd read to me when I'd visit her (you could do that back then.) On the weekends, she'd take me to the library. We'd pick out books in English for me and she was always amazed at the size stack I chose. She would have me over to her house, where together we'd do art projects with cut out raw potatoes and stamp pads. All on that wonderfully huge school issue construction paper.

For Christmas, Miss Quill gave me my first books in English, Little House on The Prairie. I still have them. Of course, the year ended, and I went on to third grade. I don't remember that teacher's name. All would have been the same for me as it was in kindergarten, and first grade--with me in a corner, quietly doing math problems except that this time, I started out the third grade school year with a head full of English books that had been read to me, memories of trips to the library, and art projects hanging on the walls of my bedroom.

At the start of the third grade, I was sent for placement testing. On that one day, after I was tested and then re-tested, because the examiner couldn't believe my scores, and then was interviewed over and over about when and where I had suddenly learned to read and write so well, I was pulled out of the "Special C" classroom and placed into the gifted/talented classroom. This was the 70s; there were no IEP's, no parent/teacher conference; no notifications that went home. Things were just done.

I don't know what happened to Miss Quill after second grade. I was too little to know how to keep track of her and our school had two buildings: one for lower grades, one for upper grades. But I never forgot her presence in my life. I've often wanted to write her, call her, find her, to tell her Miss Quill? I love you. Do you know that, Miss Quill? I wish I had known enough to tell you then. I'm saying it now, and I'm hoping the universe somehow carries this message to you.

Little House on The Prairie (I finished it in one day)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In and Around The Lake She Just Stands There

Turns out you don't have to get high and spin donuts on freshly fallen snow in an empty parking lot for kicks.

You can try the new roundabouts that are sadly popping up at just about every entrance to Walmart. A roundabout can undo me like little else can. Please lie to me and tell me it's not just me. My post at AimingLow, Why I Hate Roundabouts. (and no, hate is not too strong a word.)

See you there, and please leave a piece of advice--because I have no idea how to find my way out of those.


Monday, November 26, 2012


Just sitting here, balancing my bowl of Special K on my knees. The box promises that if I all day/every day  do bowls of their cereal, I'll drop a jean size in two weeks. What have I got to lose? (sorry, couldn't help myself.)

I'll let you know in two weeks. In the meantime, this week's edition of In Case You Missed It, some of the best, brightest, funniest, sweetest, saddest, all around good reads on the internet. How I love the internet, it's like an endless issue of Ladies' Home Journal. With a whole lot more self disclosure.

In Case You Missed It: This was good on the internet

--My friend, Mark, of Our Simple Lives. I love this blogger: his photos together with how you know he knows what's important, always sets my day on the right course. A few seconds there is all you need today, with his Ode To Christmas with Children. He says it all with one photo, one phrase, "And so it begins."

--One of the  funniest things I read today: from the must follow Gawker site. The highlights of Lindsay Lohan in Liz and Dick. Funny, funny. Example, "She breathes heavy a lot. She cries a lot." Gawker with "Here Are The Highlights of Lindsay Lohan's Atrocious Acting in Liz and Dick."

--Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday. For everything you need to know about this special day, click over to Alexandra Sears of Alexandrawrote. Click over and get the give out. Anyone can do their part, there is no such thing as "too small," and there are more ways to give than through money.

--This made me laugh out loud. Louis CK's SNL skit parodying the movie Lincoln. Saw the movie with my teens and fell in love with it, but this "Lincoln: The Man" via SNL is hilarious. (seeing "lincoln" doing stand up: priceless)

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

LIM: aka SOC For The Rest of Us

I think I'm going to have to have a button made up for LIM Friday Edition here. A party of one: me. That's one of a thousand reasons I love having a blog: you can always make a place for yourself where you'll fit in.

Last week I ran a post, LIM: Loose Inner Monologue: my version of the SOCs, the stream of consciousness memes that run on the internet. I never felt my thoughts were heady or introspective enough to be linked along with everyone else's, but I enjoyed the thought of  just typing away, no red light stopping you.

That's the premise behind my LIM. Tapping it out, as it comes, no worries about paling in comparison to the post above or the one below.

My Loose Inner Monologue here, for me, because it's like the last train to Clarksville, thoughts. Grab a hold as it leaves the station.

LIM Brain Dump of The Week: (because other than drilling a hole in your skull, how are you gonna declutter?) 

How do people get money to buy stuff? I'd love a treadmill, a new dishwasher, a cage hatch over the chimney to keep that dang 50 lb possum or raccoon or whatever it is that drags in and something else along with it, into our chimney every night. It's like bang drag bang drag. A mini Dr Frankencoon and his assistant there, every night, 11 pm on the dot. I'm calling somebody. 

That hoot owl at 3 a.m. is only majestic for so long, too. I know what's his face, that blonde singer from the 70's, Michael Murphy sang about the hoot owl outside his window like a love song, but not me. It's like spending the night at a zoo--it's winter, I know they're all looking for shelter, I know. But can't they go back to the woods?

I love having teens. Watching Movie Classics with them is funnier than Jerry Seinfeld on Dave Letterman. I could run a depression service: rent my teens out to watch movies with you. As good as Mystery Science Theater. I'd go along, of course--don't want to start getting emails telling me I can't rent out kids. Have people lost their sense of kidding lately? 

Or is it true, what my teens tell me. "Mom, I know you think you're funny, but your ideas just scare and worry people."

I wonder if what people say, that the music you heard in your teens will be your favorite music forever, goes for clothes, too. It might be true for music, because when Stevie Nicks comes on the radio, I don't change the station. And when I pick out clothes for my kids, I go to the earth tones, the soft beiges and greys and taupes. They call it Mom's District 12 taste, I call it in memory of The Doobie Brothers.

Why do I have to eat something just because it's good and in front of me. I don't have to. I can walk past it. I just have to try to not give in, and feel success, just once.

Or just eat it all at once, too, so it doesn't tempt me anymore. Why doesn't anyone ever get full on pie? 

Have a mind that's more choppy than streamy? I invite you to write up your own Loose Inner Monologue post. Leave your link here. Admit it--just the mention of a brain dump and your thoughts are all jamming the aisle, like the last chopper out of Vietnam.

"One at a time, thoughts, one at a time ..."  

Friday, November 23, 2012

You Don't Have To BlackFriday It, Did You Know That?

Due to financial instabilities of the economy within the world of this household, we are not going to be a part of the Black Friday money-saving madness today. People spend to save, but it's still spending.

Black Friday makes people lose their minds. McDonald's opens at 2:30 a.m., stores open at 4 a.m. with "Door Buster" savings where they only stock five or six of that bustin' item advertised to get you to show up and bust their doors down. They have no fear of you turning around and leaving when you find out the $89 flat screen TV you wanted is sold out; "well, as long as I'm here, I'll buy something else."

I'm sleeping in the day after Thanksgiving. I'll get up and walk around in my well worn mismatched pajamas, sipping on my newly habited Decaf, and make cinnamon rolls for my children. I know what I'll be missing, HUGE deals, 40 percent off and more! sales.

I'll especially miss out on things like this:

-Getting my face pepper sprayed when going for the last coveted door buster Xbox.

-Being trampled while already lined-up customers duck underneath a lifting store gate.

-Getting carried away in a sea of humanity over $2 waffle irons.

-Climbing across and into vats of sweet potatoes to get to a video game.

-And if you smugly think this wouldn't happen to you because you never go to the likes of Walmart or Best Buy, here's a scene of a hipster crowd at Urban Outfitters, showing the theft detector devices that were stomped down in an insane gates-opening dash.

There's a lot to miss.

This holiday, let's re-think the old habit of imitating what the mainstream does. Consider rejecting the spirit of greed and consumerism: not just because of the b.s listed above, but so that your family watches and learns from you. Do it for them. Let them see that the holidays are about sharing all we've been blessed with, with those that are struggling.

A holiday season without any thought for those without, or at a loss, is an impoverished holiday. 

Think about this: 1 in 4 children in America goes to bed hungry because of unemployment, neediness, the mental and physical health of their caretakers. You know how hard it is to fall asleep hungry? These children do, every night.

If you venture out today, let it be to a grocery store. Take your kids with you and let them fill a whole shopping cart with food for others. See those big food donation barrels placed at almost every grocery store door starting this week? Fill them. The best items to donate are baby cereal, dry cereals, delicious flavored instant oatmeals that only need water to prepare, packs of tuna, instant add water only pancake mix, canned soup or ravioli or beefy mac, jars of peanut butter, the mac & cheese that comes with the prepared sauce and doesn't need butter or milk.(see the pattern? Get the Add Water Only--we take much for granted, including that ALL households have milk, eggs, butter ... they don't.)

Go crazy that way. Lose your mind and buy every single box of ready-made Kraft there is and climb over each other to get them in the Food for Families food barrels.

Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to see on the news tonight? People knocking each other over to fill those donation receptacles? Maybe someday, we'll get it right.

Peace Out.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Is It Dressing? Is It Stuffing?

Families and friends will gather 'round the table today, sitting with their Chinet plates before them, piled high with Thanksgiving delights. There will be cranberries and corn bread and discussions will start off cordially, then turn to the jugular, as someone asks for dressing, and is then offered stuffing.

When is it dressing? When does it become stuffing?

On FunnynotSlutty today, the truth about what goes down around the dinner table. Is it dressing? Is it stuffing? Do I have to be right for you to be wrong?

*see if you can guess if I'm a stuffing girl. Because dressing? We all know it's for salads.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Holy Day

Venerated, sacred, good, devoted to. These are the words listed under the dictionary definition of "holy."

Thanksgiving is a rare holiday--it's non denominational and crosses into ecumenical realms as well as being observed separately from religion. It's a beautiful American holiday when we open our homes to others to share and celebrate a day spent centered on history, family, and our need to give thanks.

When I was little, I used to call Thanksgiving "practice." I would tell my grandmother that it gets people "practicing" being nice before the holidays begin. I still think of it that way. Warming up to start anew. Refining ourselves and polishing up our act a bit--rubbing off some of the selfish that serves no one.

We give thanks and concentrate on the gratitude. It's when we put on the glasses of gratefulness that we see the blessings we were too blind to notice before we corrected our vision.

Earlier this week, I had to take my youngest in for an annual blood draw. It's something he's had to do every year since he was two. He doesn't like it, but he knows he has to do it. He always tells me on the morning of our appointment that he's going to be brave this time, but when we arrive at the hospital, he gets quiet.

While we were waiting for his name to be called with this last visit, a small girl came over, sliding next to us to watch Grover singing on Sesame Street on the TV monitor mounted on the wall. She stared at my son who was leaning against my shoulder and asked him, "Do you have diabetes, too?" My son looked at me, not knowing how to answer.

I prodded him, "Go ahead, honey, tell her why you're here. So she knows."

"No, I'm here for something else ..." and his voice just stopped. I could tell he knew to say more, but didn't know what.

"No, honey," I looked at her pretty face. "We're here for something else. Are you here for a diabetes check?"

"Yeah. I've been here since this morning. I have to stay here all day till they say I'm done. I had to come yesterday, too."

"Oh. Well, you are as brave as my son. You both are so brave."

Her parents called her back, and she left us.

Soon it was our turn, and I held my son on my lap as they drew his blood. It was over quickly, but that didn't lessen his anxiousness. We waved to the little girl as we left the lab and I took my boy to the pharmacy next door, where they have penny candy and little white sacks that I let my son fill until he feels there's enough Swedish Fish and Nerds and Twizzlers to make him feel right again.

We drove home quietly, the only sound in the car the rustling of his paper sack as he fishes out his favorite candy.


"Yes, honey."

"Nothing like a trip to the hospital to change your perspective. Yesterday I felt so sad that I have to do this every year and my friends don't. But then we saw that girl, and she has to come all the time. I'm really lucky."

I was quiet while the wisdom of this ten-year-old boy settled over me. He knows more now than grown people learn in a lifetime.

"Yes, baby, sometimes we're lucky, and we don't even know it."

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and I wish you moments in life of finding yourself feeling just how fortunate we all are.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Is It Still In The Closet?

When my youngest was four years old, we took him to a build-a-bear store to, well, build his own bear. For those not familiar with build-a-bearing, your child chooses from among 15 barrels filled with what look like fuzzy mini sleeping bags. These are the toy animal pouch carcasses that will soon be stuffed with plush animal batting via a hose you stick up the butt of desired baby panda, baby bear, or baby dinosaur.

Swooosh and you watch your fuzzy new baby come to life (both of them) as the stuffing is pumped in by your little one. But, my son thought as he controlled the foot pedal to the tuft dispenser, hmmmm full is good, fullER must be da bomb. And so, that's how we came home from the mall with what looks like a baby panda float from the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Can you picture it? Like a puffy cheeked Kung Fu Panda about to toss his cookies.

I tell you this because THAT'S what my closet looks like.

But why? My post today, brought to you by Aiming Low: First World Problems, the Walk-in Closet. I try to answer why do we hang on to the things we do, for years on end, in our closets. 

I hope you'll join me there, and Happy Thanksgiving build-a-bear overstuffed faces to you!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Back to the best of the internet this past week. A few pressing things moved my usual In Case You Missed It post out of its Monday time slot, but I can squeeze one entry in before Thanksgiving posts are due. At more than one place.

Lots to laugh over, ponder, smile with, relate, and slap five to. So let's get started, y'all:

In Case You Missed It: (the best of the web this week)

--Life in its heart clutching moments, a post from a delightful blog where two sisters, Jen and Sarah, co-write. On Momalom, Tuning In. Just a few sentences, but such a red hot arrow to the truth of what is life but moments, guaranteed to melt you into a puddle. In the best bleary eyes from tears way.

--Some great advice on how to grab a reader's attention with your first sentences. From write it sideways, a blog you need to follow. They have daily tips on ways to improve your writing, like their post "6 Ways to Hook Your Reader From The Very First Line." In their words, "Since 2009, ‘Write It Sideways’ has been helping you see the world of writing from a fresh perspective. Our experienced team can help you learn new skills, define your goals, increase your productivity, and prepare for publication. Plus, we’ll try really hard not to be boring when we do it.

-- A blog that feeds your mind, your soul, your eyes, your heart. Chookooloonks. I don't have to point you to a specific post there, because anything you find at Karen Walrond's place of beautiful in word and photo, will set you in your day. Truly, Chookooloonks is a gold mine of a find on the internet. Click over, and you'll find yourself just a little bit of an improved, inspired you. Every day.

--And a post that went viral--though it should have gone antibacterial--laugh and snort your way through the tale of what happened to a very pregnant woman who just wanted a late trimester massage. NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH, but so unbelievably well told and ridiculously funny. Hands down, yes--a nightmare of a massage, and yet? makes us laugh. **Pamela Ribons has written four books, and after reading her post here, I am buying every single one of them.


Have a great week, everyone!  Remember to count your blessings and write them in stone--and write your troubles in sand. Enjoy Thanksgiving, and all the tales that come along with it. Because family will be involved. 

Maybe you'd like to borrow my doormat?: "Friends welcome. Relatives by appointment."


Saturday, November 17, 2012

When SOC is More Like LIM

photo credit: Steve took it via photopin cc

There are several memes, link ups, I've seen that are known as Stream of Consciousness posts. Bloggers write up and link their posts detailing the clear, cool, running waters of thoughts that flow through their psyche. Like a sweet tumbling spring breaking through its winter frost.

Not me--I have no ebb and stream of fluid thought. My mind is more like karate chops at things that invade my senses. Too hot! Ooooh, too cold. Ouch, hard chair. Hmmm, this sweater is itchy--wonder if it's wool.

That's what my *stream* of consciousness would read like. Obviously, this kept me far and away from joining in on any SOC's of the week.

But hey-wait.a.minute? What if I'm not the only one whose inner monologue is a staccato replica of Tony Blair's speech: halting, sputtering, spilling, pulling back in again?

SOC versus LIM, aka loose inner monologue: thoughts that are chopped up in bits, nothing joined, nothing flowing about it.

I'm making a place for my type of mental ramblings, Loose Inner Monologues, right here, on Friday nights: like a colonic for the brain. Move out the old log of thoughts before my brain gets dammed up like beavers' work.

My first LIM on this blog: (because other than drilling a hole in your skull, how you gonna declutter?)

I hope it's nice out tomorrow.

I don't know why I think if it's nice tomorrow I'll do some work outside--I should know by now I'll just do everything but work tomorrow. But the bathrooms need to be cleaned so bad. I think I'll have to do those. I'm embarrassing myself with the dirt. Poor husband, the mirror looks like it's polka dots.

I can't believe I forgot to get apple juice at the store again. It's the reason I went. I spent 107 dollars and had one thing on my list and came home with 12 cans of Pringles instead.

Man my feet are tired. And my neck. I wish I could go for a massage.

No, I don't. I don't know why I said that. Massages freak me out--no matter who it is, it always feels like I'm going to wake up black and blue. People need to learn light touch massage.  But it has to feel like a massage still--not like they're standing behind you in line, tapping you with their fingers.

Whoa, talk about tapping someone in line. What the heck? Did I jump ten feet in the air or what when that clerk tapped me to change lines at the grocery store today.

That jumpiness right there is why I can't do yoga, they make you close your eyes, get relaxed, you're almost asleep--them BOOM the instructor's voice is suddenly hot in your ear telling you to bring your spine down.  Talk about teaching you to keep your guard up. Sheesh.

I have to go to bed. I'm going to go to bed. Take my friend the jelly donuts I bought 18 of today to her in the morning. I think I bought so many because I was acting out over Hostess being gone. I'm so sad about that.

I love Twinkies. I used to think they were little loaves of bread and would slice them up to make doll sandwiches. Everyone has a Hostess story--with Suzy-Q's, or Ding Dongs, or Zingers, or powdered donettes. We all have our Hostess story. Now we'll have to buy Little Debbie, the poor man's Hostess.


Have a mind that's more choppy than streamy? I invite you to write up your own Loose Inner Monologue post. Leave your link here. Admit it--just the mention of a brain dump and your thoughts are all jamming the aisle, like the last chopper out of Vietnam.

"One at a time, thoughts, one at a time ..."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Listen To Your Mother Show Milwaukee

Do you remember, back to the days of being a preschooler, when you'd be listening to a story on someone's lap, or in preschool, or at library story time--and would hang on every word, with all your fingers in your mouth?

We wanted to know what would happen next, why the character did what they did, all the reasons for things to be playing out the way they were. Why did the mother ask the girl to take food to her grandmother? How come the mouse decided to share his last piece of cheese with the other mouse who had been mean to him? Would I have been brave enough to hide the kitten I found, alone and wet, on my way home from school?

There are so many reasons for a story to be a story, and the only way to find out about the parts of someone's life that make them the way they are, is to listen.

We listen and we come to know. We know, and that makes us love more--judge less. We enter someone's life when we hear their words and we aren't the same again. There's connection now, acceptance, understanding, compassion, enlightenment--awareness.

It's called bearing witness--to offer valid, worthy evidence of something being true.

That something is us.

By listening to someone tell of their life--we are saying you exist, I see you, you are valid to me. And when we are the ones doing the telling--we are saying you are important to me, I want to share myself with you, see what I have here to give you.

There is a transformation that occurs when you go beyond a surface level with others in this world; we grow. Either by telling or listening, we are fully present for someone. We are born craving this interaction, this sharing of experience.

That's why there are thousand-year-old caves--walls painted with mammoth hunt scenes. That's why people born to their lands have centuries old dances that tell the story of their clans, it's the reason for the tribal tattoos of Australian Aborigines, it's the narrative that runs behind the folk songs, it's why the tales that my Abuela told me are the ones her Abuela told her.

All of us, in our most honest moments, want to share our fears, our pride in personal accomplishments, question and seek to understand others, we want to respect differences, we want to teach by what we've learned. It's hard to do that--something holds us back.

There's no venue, no event planned for it, and there are worries that we'll be rejected. What if we're not good enough and who are we anyway that someone would want to listen to us? We're not trained, credentialed, schooled, degreed, or professional. Either as a trained listener, or as a performer. But our need to hear is as great as our need to be heard.

In 2010, I discovered Ann Imig, and along with that, her grass roots movement for the stage: The Listen To Your Mother Show. I wanted to be part of the story telling and life sharing of this show, but I had never read to an audience before. Ann encouraged me to audition anyway. I did. I made the cast of Listen To Your Mother 2011 and before an audience of over 300, I told my story. I told my story and found the me that I had never allowed out.

In 2012, I attended Listen To Your Mother as part of the audience. And if I thought reading before an audience was a life cartwheel? Being the audience changed me in ways far more reaching than standing before a crowd for five minutes. Both aspects left me moved, impacted me in ways that I couldn't shake out of my head for days.

The Listen To Your Mother Shows have gifted me with feeling part of everyone I see. I know that we all have a story inside us. And it is when we push ourselves past what we think we can do, that we break out and discover who we are.

I never thought of myself as someone standing in front of an audience, but I did it--I went beyond what I saw myself as, and read for Listen To Your Mother.

It's with this same trust and leap of faith, that I applied to bring Listen To Your Mother to Milwaukee. I completed a three-page application for the show and along with Jen of Tranquilamama and a friend of mine, Deb Tetzlaff, we hit send and crossed our fingers, and waited.

On Monday, the formal announcement was made: we will be one of 24 cities bringing Listen To Your Mother to their town in May, 2013.

There is only one reason I know I can do this for Milwaukee: because I had the chance to hear and be heard, and I want to be part of that process that brings that to others.

Because I believe that stories are the bridge to each other.

Listen To Your Mother Show Madison, 2011

For a complete list of the 24 Listen To Your Mother Shows across America, please click here

Thank you, Ann Imig, thank you to all the past producers and directors, assistants and readers, for your part in bringing us the Listen To Your Mother Shows.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dream Shaman

Did you know that Colombians are master practicioners in dream analysis?

By the age of five, I could tell you the difference between having a white mouse versus a black mouse being present in your night time story line. ::shiver::

My kids know this--they also know better than to come downstairs in the morning with no reports from their subconscious. And I know if they're making something up.

Today on the hilarious website, FunnynotSlutty,  my post, The Dream Whisperer: What those dreams of screams with no voice are telling you. (please tell me you're not doing the silent scream thingy in your dreams)

FunnynotSlutty: The Funniest Woman on The Planet.


**This month, FnS is running their 2012 Best On Planet contest--brought to you by The Louise Log. You can nominate Funniest Commenter. (I love this category: funniest commenter) I know just the person. CLICK OVER, and nominate your fave reader.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanks Giving 101

For the past 20 years, I have been falling asleep in the same way: in quiet thoughts of thankfulness for all that I’ve been given and all that I have.

I read a post earlier this week where the author shared her perspective on life’s trials and challenges. She wrote that she worked hard to find good in all of life's situations. Tragedy aside, life is full of difficulties. Difficult can feel insurmountable, but putting our chair in a different corner of the room allows a fresh look at something that we'd rather not have to deal with.

Sometimes, you have to decide to find some good in the worst of things.

Giving thanks, thanksgiving, is something that I had to make a deliberate decision to implement in my life.

I had grown tired of  feeling angry, shortchanged, and envious of all that others seemed to have--but that I didn't. I was tired of waking up that way--dissatisfied and sorry for myself. I was tired of falling asleep like that, asking why I wasn't one of the lucky ones. Morning and night, my mind went to discontent and emptiness. That was my life.

About 20 years ago, I found a book on making your life's work be the cultivation of an attitude of gratitude. I wanted that: to be thankful every day for many, many things--for the people that make up my life, for the experiences that I’ve had, for the wonderful characters that have played roles along my journey here. For the sun on my face, for a body that is still capable, for a clear night sky, for my family, my friends, for the gift of being able to write, for the opportunity to contribute in some way.

It is the conscious act of gratefulness that will make for the quality of life.

Feeling grateful feels good--that's not just a feeling in our head and heart. Research done by D. Jeannine Calaba, Psy.D., author of The Power of Appreciation, has done studies that confirm that when people feel thankfulness, good things happen to their minds, hearts, and bodies. They sleep better, they are more content, they are more patient, they feel more fulfilled and are more supportive to those around them, they have a bounce in their step. People who practice gratefulness have less depression, anxiety, envy, and jealousy.

Giving thanks for what we have creates positive energy that others feel. It is a force that can transform disagreements, calm strained relationships, improve work situations, help to accept health adversities, maybe make peace with aging. Being grateful can pull us through financial crises, medical challenges, children with special needs, and the valleys in life.

Gratitude has come to mean living in peace and joy with what I already have in my life. I can want more, absolutely, but I can work toward any goals with the assurance in my heart of being happy with what I already have. I no longer pursue dreams with the thought, "Then I will be happy." To hold gratitude for the life I have and the people I share it with, deepens the love I feel for those around me.

I want to be that person that says, “I am fortunate in the life I have. I will find happiness in my life. If I have nothing more than I have now, I will still remain content.”

Being appreciative makes you look at your life as more than trials, difficulties, and bridges that seem too far to cross--being grateful releases joy.

I have spent too many years being angry over things that seemed unfair in my life.

Anger at losing my father at only six years old. Anger at being raised by a clinically depressed and detached mother. Anger at trying to grow up American, but being too different to fit in. Anger at not finding my way and looking nothing like everyone else while a teenager. Anger at seeing all that everyone else had that I didn't. Anger that my three pregnancies required five months of bed rest each. Then, anger at children being born early requiring NICU stays and coming home on apnea monitors. Anger at my children having peanut and dairy and egg and beef and countless allergies all meshed together with asthma and eczema requiring steroids. Anger at feeling so out of place in my small town. I could go on still and write a second paragraph on all that I was angry about--but that wouldn't be good for anyone.

So. Much. Anger. They say to never go to bed angry--well, I don't think I slept for 18 years.

All that anger that would never bring me any closer to the happiness that I ironically chased. When I decided to work toward being grateful, my eyes were opened to all the miracles I had missed: like being able to be what has made me the happiest in my life: a mother. My children who survived tenuous first years, but are now healthy, a devoted husband, a home that is never without heat or food, my good health, being able to spend time on my writing, my three boys who express their love to me every day. 

I grew to become appreciative for all my experiences, because they are what made me into who you read on this blog. Yes, it was tragic to lose my father to suicide when I was six and that my mother became despondent after that. BUT, but, I was raised by a dedicated grandmother whose influence remains with me today, and I was a bright child, always able to transfer my thoughts to paper and and keep notebooks full of my stories.

I was very good at the written word and this won me scholarships. I was able to attend college. And being able to write, here, and to have a place to work through my stuff, y'all. I mean, how much better does it get?

Tonight, when I lay in bed for those first few moments, I will close my eyes, and take a sweet, deep breath. I will think--and smile--with thoughts of all the good that is in my life. There is so much.

I will fall asleep being grateful for another day, for my life, and for what I have here--with all of you.

I am grateful for you, your thoughts, your time. The gift of you and your energy.

You fill me with joy.

Thank you.


**Just given another reason to be grateful: mamapedia ( a collective site I love with a readership of 800,000) just notified me they've syndicated one of my posts today, True Mommy Confessions. Please stop by, add your own confession, and think about submitting your writing to mampedia. Great opportunity for exposure and they've got a nice community of dedicated readers there. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

To My East Coast Friends: Mi Casa Es Tu Casa

My friends on the East Coast have been hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Many still with flooded basements, like DustyEarthMom, and many going on Day Ten without power or gas, like VerbVixen. (read her post today, for a heartbreaking account of what life is like right now after Sandy)

I have a love letter to my East Coast bunch up at Aiming Low today, and I mean every word.

The internet has brought you into my life, all you wonderful smart and funny people from the East, and I'm sorry it's taken a storm of the century for me to tell you how special you are to me.

My love letter to my friends on the internet, caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

You are a hardy bunch, but still, wouldn't hearing how much we love you and care about you, feel really good about now?



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Childhood Food Becomes Our Comfort Food

*For My Grandmother*

I always childishly hoped my grandmother would be with me forever.

My first memories begin with her, and even though it’s been over 25 years since her death, I still can’t believe I’ve had to learn to live without her.

She was born in Spain and came to Colombia, South America when she was four years old. She learned to cook from her Spaniard mother, and these are the recipes I grew up with. When I was about three or four years old, I began helping my grandmother in the kitchen. She would tie one of her flowered aprons around my waist, and I would stand next to her on top of a cracked red leather kitchen stool. She would sing in a soft and low voice as she’d grind the corn meal for our sweet corn cakes, one of my favorites. With a worn rock from our yard, she’d grind the corn meal until it was as fine as white flour. The sand paper sound of the rock crushing the larger bits of meal is one that I can still hear if I close my eyes. When the corn meal was as smooth as silt, together, her hands over mine, we’d slowly add the milk and eggs, mixing all the ingredients together in a large wooden bowl.

With the thick meal ready, we’d roll the dough mixture into little balls, pressing them down into the palms of our hands until they were flat discs. She had a large cast iron pan with just a bottom of oil heating up on the stove. To check if the oil was hot enough for the griddle cakes, she’d wet her fingers from the kitchen faucet and then flick the water into the pan. If we heard a sizzle, then we knew the oil was ready. She’d toss the flattened patties in, and I’d hear the hiss of a pan that was perfectly calibrated.

We'd fry the corn cakes until they were a pale gold, and then my grandmother would lift them out deftly while my job was to lay them between paper towels, pressing down with my small hands to squeeze out the extra grease. While they were still hot, we’d spread the cakes with butter and apricot jam, and the two would melt on top into a sticky sweet syrup. We’d sit grinning and eating those cakes that were almost as large as a salad plate. I’d always take a stack of two or three and my grandmother would say "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, mija!"

There's so much more time to tell her what I want to tell her, that was always my thinking. My grandmother is gone now, and even though it’s been so very long, I still can’t write about her without tears stinging my eyes and a lump starting to build in my throat. But, somehow, I have this hope--that through the shining dark eyes of a grinning four-year-old girl, gazing up at her adoringly, clothed in one of her aprons while standing on a kitchen stool next to her, that she knew how much she meant to me.

I hope.

Abuelita’s Corn Meal Griddle Cakes

1 c. boiling water
3/4 c. yellow corn meal
1 c. buttermilk or sour milk

2 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. soda
/4 c. vegetable oil

Pour water over corn meal; stir until thick. Add milk; beat in eggs. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and soda. Add to cornmeal mixture; stir in oil. Bake on hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes about 14 pancakes.

Place on paper towel to absorb oil. While still hot, spread with butter and jam. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

To That Guy Who Said He'd Rather Go To Hell Than Milwaukee

Getting over grudges held on to for far too long is a problem for me. I'm here to admit that. But this one here, the only way I can clear the clench this guy has in my jaw is to set it out on bigger turf than my little mind--where it spins and spins like my eyes when I've stayed up way too late.

There was this guy, about five years ago, who won a small airlines contest for a surprise trip to an undisclosed destination: all expenses paid! He was to meet the contest holder's at the airport, and receive his much awaited vacation information there! So he shows up--and I'm watching this on the news.

I'm not trying to color your judgment of him here--but he comes to an AIRPORT in sweatpants that clearly scream "I done gived up" and a sweatshirt that was made in The Dominican Republic that has some pressed-on sports team letters on it, with a scratchy beard that I only wish was for Movember, oh--and wearing a baseball cap that I could smell from across the TV screen. Not visual enough for you? Add three inches of hairy linty belly button making its TV debut. 

The contest promoters hand him his envelope, shaking his hand, BIG smiles on their faces toward the camera. The goof guffaws and accepts the envelope, fist pumping the air bellowing out, "Yeah! Yeah!" He rips open the envelope and with a mouth dropped open, he slams the contents to the ground.

"Muhwakee?? Muhwaukee? What the bleepbleep am I s'posed tah do in Muhwaukee??" And he storms out of the airport with camera crews chasing him.

Yeah, you know how someone's never going to forget something? When they remember every detail. Just like now. I've been waitingwaitingwaiting for the day to call that 300 lb brat out. And I finally got it.

ScaryMommy invited me to post on What makes YOUR TOWN great. And so I did. With you know who in mind.

A letter written just for you, you overgrown gorilla, ALLLLLLLLL the reasons why I LOVE MILWAUKEE, and a few "suggestions" for what you can do while you're here.

Not like you could keep up.

Great Things To Do While In Milwaukee, at ScaryMommy. (Thanks, Jill, this one felt good.)


**Want to include your town in ScaryMommy's Travel Guide series? Click here for details**

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Forward 2012

Maybe staying away from the news for awhile, just avoiding facebook, not listening to radio squawking: I'm trying to put together ways to calm and relax a few people whose conversations I've overheard. Well, maybe not overheard--sounded like these people really want someone to listen to them.

They'll talk to anyone--when you go get and get gas, behind you at the grocery store, while at school pick up. Post election disappointment, anger, distraught.

I want to remind them of perspective, optimism, healthier ways to gather up their emotions and move forward as a country.

But I know people are worried, full of anxiety, concern over our nation and wanting an end to the hyper-division we felt during what seemed like a very long presidential campaign.

I want to help, because I am a child of an immigrant, and I know this country is wonderful enough that people around the world pin their dreams on "coming to America."

Last night, I came up with just the thing.

Something to give to those who can't bring themselves to smile this week:

A baby hedgehog!!

Another one!

OMG ... THREE!!!

Could you not die from the cute??

Baby hedgehogs!!

See ... it's all going to be all right.



photo credit: Kimu_tae via photopin cc

photo credit: SarahMcManiman via photopin cc

photo credit: Chief Trent via photopin cc

photo credit: Jason Whittaker via photopin cc

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Can We Be That Short Story?

About five minutes ago, when I sat down to type this, I accidentally kicked over a stack of books that is always at my feet. It is the exact pile of books that my husband grumbles and mumbles about having to step over. But I still keep it right there--my treasured tower of short story anthologies. A stackful of printed spines that read Best of American Short Stories, and Best of Latino Non-Fiction, you get the picture.

My love for the short story has always been a part of me; I can't remember how far back it's been there, but I do know the one who lit that spark for tales from the soul. It was my Colombian grandmother, my Abuela.

I tell about my grandmother, The Queen of the Short Story, at TikiTiki Blog today, where I am honored to have a monthly column.

Come join me as I remember how my Abuela's childhood tales left me wide-eyed and with a vision of her as the eternal little girl, whose life was more enthralling than any written pages.

My grandmother is the reason for my daily practice of telling my children about my own childhood days. I want them to remember me forever as I do her, a story unfolding.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoRhinoPlumbNo Just No

November is a busy blogging/writing month. If you're on the internet, you'll be seeing websites displaying their badges, full of hope and proudly announcing "I'm doing NaNoWriMo!" and "Join me and let's NaBloPoMo!"

What the what the? as my 10-year-old likes to say.

The first time I heard about NaNoWriMo was three years ago, and I couldn't resist saying Nanoo! Nanoo! Shazbot! while snapping imaginary rainbow striped suspenders and thinking of chasing rhinoceros. I still can't help it now, because I'm like a sixth grader.

NaNoWriMo is short and dirty for National Novel Writing Month. You begin November 1, like formally sign in to a site that keeps your work on file, and you write a 50,000 word novel in a month. 30 days and nights of wild-eyed obsessed frenzy (or would that just be me) until you reach your goal of 50,000 words by midnight November 30. Starting November 25, you can send your words in to have your count verified.

That's National Novel Writing Month. Cute, clever.

The other busy writing collective for November is NaBloPoMo. This one, I can't help saying po' me--like a third grader, when I see it. Because turns out not only am I like a sixth grader, but a third grader, too. NaBloPoMo is a blogging project where you post on your blog daily, for the month of November. Starting November 1, mind stimulating prompts are provided--I think it's a good writing exercise. 

National Blog Posting Month. Because who doesn't want to hear from me 30 times this month. Tempting. I. Know--but I won't be nambopamboing your inbox.  

I would never knock the aspirations of the ambitious among us. Doing either of these November writing exercises is taking on a project that's win win all the way around. Kick start that novel you've had inside you since junior year in high school. Post every day for a month--it could bring your passion for the written word to a whole 'nuther level. I say try it. Try both. Just dooooo it 'n get in dere, as they say in Wisconsin.

But, knowing me better and longer than I know anyone else out there, the reasons to not NaNoWriMo my butt off, and to not get on the NaBloPoMo crystal ship, are based on how very well I know myself.

If I were to commit to 50,000 words a month for NaNoWriMo, that would be all I'd think about. I know. I just completed a short 4-part story on my blog last week, Red Flags, and while I was working on it, it became the only thing that ran through my cerebrum. And not in a dreamy, creative what if Bill actually wanted Susie and not Janet kind of way, but in a too far into that existence way. 

I was absorbed into the world I was tapping out here, and it made me silent in my real life. I didn't talk to my kids when I was up with them in the morning because I was too busy re-arranging paragraphs in my head. When I picked them up from school, I asked how their day was, and then mentally jumped back into the next part of the tale I was constructing here. My mind never stopped.

There was too much living going on in the non-real world and not enough in the real one. But that's who I was for that week.

Really, I don't know how Stephen King does it. How does he get Crazy Mary in his head to Shut.Up?

That's why I'm not touching NaNoWriMo. Not for any prize rhino.

On to why I won't post a blog a day with NaBloPoMo. It's not because I won't have anything to say or would be at a loss for prompts--oh you all don't know the RESTRAINT I show on this blog. If I didn't know how obnoxious it would be, I'd post more times a day than Gawker does.

I can't do NaBloPoMo because I'd be Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise, "somethin's come alive in me and I cain't turn it off."   

And there you have it: my reasons for not joining in on the fun. I know things about myself. 

I'd lose you guys over my verbosity, I'd lose myself, and there'd be less of me than there already is in this house for my sweet babies.

I am, however, excited and looking forward to getting some action from the bloggers out there that I wish would post more often. And I'm eager to read about the end stages of the process of both of these projects with all of you: I can't imagine it would leave anyone unchanged.

As a show of solidarity, I've got your badges up with y'all, yo. ::taps heart, kisses index and middle finger:: 


Peace Out. xo


Exciting news: thrilled to be featured on Studio30Plus today, with a love letter to my middle boy. If you're not already a part of the S30Plus community, think about joining up. They're an online writing community with over 700 members, weekly prompts, daily features, chats, writing exercises. I've found great blogs through the community there, like Abby Has Issues. 

In their words, "Studio30 Plus is a social media site for writers. By joining you can expect a vibrant, creative community established to help its members in countless ways."

Interested? Click on their FAQ Page.  



Related Posts with Thumbnails