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Thursday, January 31, 2013

I’m Busy Communing

Writing can be fun, exciting and joyously exhilarating. It can also be hair-pullingly frustrating, tedious and exhausting. Writing is lonely – sitting lost in your own thoughts, writing for hours on end but unable to share until your story is ready. But as I sit here at midnight rewriting a story I have been laboring over for a month now, I take pleasure in imagining great authors of the past doing the same exact thing (minus getting distracted by Facebook) – looking at a story, knowing it’s not working, trying it a different way and saying with great excitement “Aha! This is it! THIS is the story I wanted to tell not that pile of crap I produced before!”

There is a scene in the movie “The Hurricane” in which Denzel Washington’s character, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, says of writing:

“Writing is- It's magic… When I started writing, I discovered that I was doing more than just telling a story…. Every time I sat down to write, I could rise above the walls of this prison…  I could look out over the walls all across the state of New Jersey, and I could see Nelson Mandela in his cell writing his book. I could see Huey. I could see Dostoyevsky. I could see Victor Hugo, Emile Zola. And they would say to me, 'Rube, what you doin' in there?'  And I say, 'Hey, I know all you guys.'  It's magic…”

My laundry is piling up, my toilets are getting funky, my floor is sticky, but I am busy creating magic over here. I am busy communing with writers around the world and throughout time.

Oh, and I dyed my hair:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will Write for Jeans

I’m on a quest to rid my drawer of any jeans that can be remotely construed as “Mom Jeans.” When you are a mom of a certain age this quest is increasingly more important and, unfortunately, increasingly more challenging.

The mom jean. How do we even end up with mom jeans? Sometimes we may be gifted a pair from, say, our moms. Maybe we try them on and find that they are comfortable so we wear them around the house but then we wear them for a quick trip to Target and it’s all downhill. Or maybe we buy ourselves a pair in a desperate attempt to find something, anything, that fits in that horrible postpartum stage of loose flappy belly fat. Maybe a well-meaning friend hands them down to us when we are pregnant with our first child and she’s lost all the baby weight from her last.

Sometimes mom jeans just evolve. Our drawers are filled with jeans bought at the right stores. Jeans that once were the exact right color and had the exact right fit but we moms are tough on our jeans. We crawl around the floor playing trains or Barbies. We finger paint in our jeans. We crisscross applesauce in our jeans through mommy-n-me classes. We clean up potty accidents in our jeans. Our children use our jeans as napkins, hand towels, and snot rags. Our jeans are washed and dried daily. They fade, they lose their shape, the knees wear thin. We eat one-too-many peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and BAM, mammas, we are wearing mom jeans! Yikes. I dread that I may be rapidly approaching this if I don’t intervene soon.

I want a really good pair of jeans – one that will stick with me during this messy stage of momhood without turning into mom jeans. I imagine these jeans will cost more than I feel comfortable paying as a stay-at-home mom. But… maybe if I edit, submit, and sell a story or two for just a little bit of money (I’m not greedy) then maybe I can purchase, without guilt, a cute (dare I say sexy) pair of jeans.

I WILL WRITE FOR JEANS (and maybe a cute pair of shoes to go with them)!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Didn’t Plan on It

Yesterday my moms group had Cristie Ritz King from Real Live Wellness NJ speak. She was wonderful! I am so grateful that she didn’t look on a map before she agreed and drove the 90 minutes to come speak to us. I’m grateful I showed up too.

I have to admit if I wasn’t President of our moms group I very likely would have skipped this meeting.  First of all, it was during my precious childless two hours. Second, I *know* what a nutritionist is going to say: Eat more fruits and vegetables, buy organic (or at least buy the dirty dozen organic), avoid processed foods, eat more fiber, eat more whole grains, no juice, no fast food, no school lunches, less sugar, no artificial colors or flavors, etc.

I think I do a fair job, maybe I’d give myself a C or D but that is still passing (C’s get degrees), right? But I didn’t plan on being just a “C” mom. I didn’t plan on being just a “C” anything, it just happened that way.

One of my failings is I can’t seem to come up with a good snack solution. My immediate response is to just limit snack which works when my kids are home alone. Or I offer snacks I feel are better but in all honesty aren’t much better like goldfish or dried cereal. Rarely, do they eat fruit and veggies. But it’s hard when they need a snack for school, they want an afterschool snack, they demand a snack in the car, they require a snack at scouts, a snack at soccer, a snack for the beach or the pool or park, then there’s the playdate snacks, and the birthday party snacks, and on and on and on. Don’t even get me started on birthday parties! There’s a birthday every week. And holidays that require candy all year long.

If I do a “Kitchen Makeover” like Cristie recommended then I won’t feel so bad when my kids eat junk somewhere else because at least I know the rest of the time I gave them the best.  Like if I make smoothies or parfaits or homemade ice cream or homemade anything instead of carbs and processed foods.

As far as meals go, again it isn’t necessarily new, but she put it in such an easy to execute way that I might actually follow through. She said to keep it simple (duh!) – have lemon chicken and steamed broccoli every Monday if they’ll eat it. And, if you make only one dinner per night and don’t offer anything else (like a peanut butter sandwich or chicken nuggets) they will eventually eat it (one day). Cook what you like and know is good for the family just plate it differently if you have to. Maybe they don’t eat a lot at dinner, maybe just a little of each item. Maybe they eat more at breakfast (something tells me she doesn’t mean Fruit Loops. Gulp.) or lunch (again, something tells me not school lunch. Oops.). Think of what they eat over the week not just in one day. Maybe one day they don’t do so well but the other days they do better.

Get the kids involved in the entire process – the menu planning, the shopping (maybe even pick-your-own), and the cooking – they’ll be more excited about eating it. Which again is something I may have known but don’t always do.

It’s more than *knowing* what to do it’s about actually doing it. As Cristie says on her blog, The Right Hand Mom, it is never too late to be the person you wanted to grow up to be. No excuses (or at least I’ll try to limit them!).

Monday, January 7, 2013

I Am What I Do

I embrace resolutions. So much so that I've been holding onto the same ones for some 10, 15, or 20 years now! The intentions are always there but the excuses get in the way. All I am left with is a pile of intentions and excuses; everything I thought held value is gone. This is certainly not how I thought I’d live my life but somehow it seems like many of us do, don’t we?

Recently, I thought I’d focus on one mantra per year. Last year, my mantra was “I Will Make Writing My Career This Year.” While writing hasn't become my career in that I haven’t made any money, I have written much more this year than any of the years prior. If I could only shut off that ever-looming excuse, self-doubt, then I think I could go even farther this year.

I will not let my excuses become me. This year, I banish the excuses. I will put them out there for you to read, to ponder, to laugh at, and to enjoy but then they are gone – outta here!

My mantra this year is:

I Am What I Do,
Not What I Mean
In Twenty-Thirteen!

I will do what I intend to do and stop wasting time on what has no value to me because, in the end, it’s your actions not your intentions that show who you are, right? We judge others by their actions yet we judge ourselves by our intentions.

What I want to DO this year hasn't really changed much from past years but this year I will be more mindful of how I am spending my minutes and of how my actions and words are representing me.

What will you do this year? You Are What You Do, Not What You Mean [To Do] in Twenty-Thirteen!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I’ll Try An Extra Helping Next Year

Ahh! New Years Day. I feel like I should be sleeping off a rough night or sitting on the couch watching parades and football but instead I find myself puttering around my house with a cloud of anxiety hovering over me. Tomorrow it’s back to reality. Ugh.

It’s just too soon, isn’t it? Is Christmas vacation really over? Is it really time to go back to school and get back to the daily list of responsibilities? How many of those have been neglected over the last few weeks? Finally, and most regrettably, do I really have to find a place for all this new crap – err, I mean thoughtful gifts?

I’m feeling some extra angst towards Santa right about now. Did he really have to get my kids everything they asked for? How did we get swept up into another commercialized Christmas? I started out with the intention of trying to keep to the true meaning of the Holiday but as we got closer and closer to the day all it seemed to involve was Santa and presents, presents and maybe some junk food.  Yikes. It is really hard to keep the Christ in Christmas!

Church on Christmas Eve was a disaster and trying to pray before our Christmas meal was comical. I think we may have managed a “Happy Birthday Jesus” toast before diving into pork and mashed potatoes. My kids pushed Jesus to the side with just as much vigor as they pushed aside the salad and green beans.

"Look! There's Jesus in his cage!"

As I analyze how Christmas went and how I could do things different, I realize that maybe I haven’t done such a bad job. Maybe I've added Jesus into our Holiday similarly to how I've added that salad and side of green beans. I've snuck a couple of Bible stories in at bedtime; we've attended church and Sunday school with some regularity. My three year old can point baby Jesus out of a crowded manager scene (too bad he has been heard to shout “There’s baby Jesus in his cage” but I can work on that!). Maybe right now they’d rather focus on the presents just like they’d  rather focus on the carbs and sweets but maybe, just maybe, one day it’ll all sink in and they’ll embrace the true meaning of the Holiday just like one day I feel confident that they will eat some vegetables.

Instead of fretting over how I can change our Christmas, I’m just going to think of how I can sneak an extra side of Christ into our Holiday just like I’m always scheming on how to sneak in an extra vegetable. Some ways I came up with:

  • Add a short Bible verse to the inside of our Christmas countdown chain links. Each day, read that bible verse leading up to Jesus’ birth.
  • Put a bowl with 25 Acts of Kindness written on small sheets of paper. Each day leading up to Christmas, pick a kind act to do from the bowl. 

I’ll let you know how I do next year! For now, it’s off to clean my kitchen and cook some pork and sauerkraut, trying not to dwell on the responsibilities tomorrow will bring. At least I can check off “Blog Entry” from my mental to do list!

Happy New Year!