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Traditions That Link the Generations

Traditions That Link the Generations

Where Do Traditions Come From

My grandparents immigrated from Glasgow, Scotland in 1948, (The family came from Poland and Russia before that). Eager to become citizens, to become American, they embraced traditions and in that, certain traditions became family traditions.

Early Thanksgivings would consist of the usual: turkey, stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes. And then it happened. The story as I heard it, my grandmother discovered the stuffing recipe in a magazine. It was simple: bread onion, carrots, butter, eggs, and a potato. Yeah. A potato. It is by far, the best stuffing I have ever had.

Growing up, I would come downstairs on Thanksgiving morning to find my parents preparing the stuffing, the same stuffing my mom would help prepare as a kid. The difference between then and now, she’d use hand peelers and a grater; I got a food processor.

Without that stuffing, it just isn’t Thanksgiving. With my parents divorced and my Thanksgiving rotated yearly, I make enough to share with whichever parent I’m not celebrating with that year.

Acquiring New Traditions

Over the years, people have come and gone, sharing the day with us. Everyone brings something to share. And my food loving family, acquired yet another food related tradition. It’s called Aunty Rudi cake. My aunt isn’t allowed in the house unless she brings the moist and delicious cakes, that she doctored and that none of us can get enough of. It’s actually one of those traditions that isn’t just for Thanksgiving, It encompasses any family party. It’s come down to each of us having our own travel case holder in which to carry any leftovers home with us.

As I write this, I realize that all of our traditions are food based. Beside the stuffing and the cake, our family always had a deep love for turkey skin. Yeah, the way we make our turkey is to ensure the skin is crispy, buttery, and heavenly. So much so, we stand around the turkey as it’s being carved. One year, my aunt Shelley stole it out of my hand before I could stick it in my mouth.

The newest tradition started a few years ago. It was the smallest group, only five of us. I stayed in my pajamas as I prepared the stuffing, and wore them as my mom prepared the standing rib roast. Yes. Standing rib roast. Most of us, assembled that day were not big fans of turkey. Rather than making a large turkey, we made a small one and dined on the sumptuous flavor of rib roast. I know turkey wasn’t there for the first Thanksgiving, it is one of our most favorite traditions. My mouth waters thinking about it.

And Your Traditions Are?

And what do you celebrate? Are your traditions food related? Location related?

The Recipe

  • 3 dozen mixed rolls. I use plain and onion rolls. Sometimes I use challah bread. Buy the bread days early to harden them for easy grinding.
  • One large onion
  • 1 bag of cut carrots. Not small, probably large. I process enough to make the stuffing pretty.
  • 1 potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted in 1 cup of water
  • Lowry’s Seasoning Salt

In the food processor, grind the rolls and leave in a large bowl. You’ll need it. Grind the onion, carrots and potatoes. Add to the bread. Add the eggs. Hand mix, adding the water/butter mixture as needed. The stuffing should be wet, and easily form a ball. You don’t want it mushy. Add the Lowry’s seasoning salt to taste. Place in 350 degree oven until hot.

While we don’t add anything else to the stuff, I know others have added cranberries, almond slivers, celery or whatever ingredient that tickles their fancy. As this is our family tradition, we don’t mess with it.

Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Motivation in a Pool of Nothingness

Motivation in a Pool of Nothingness

Motivation

What is motivation? Have you ever been far, far away from your happy place, searching for the spark of motivation to get you past the darkness? Your spark will be different then my spark, a thing as unique as you are.

The things that motivate me can be as simple as a motivation quote, a song lyric, an unexpected note of gratitude. My greatest professional struggle is my attempt to become a better selling author, have a strong following, so that I can do what I love for a living. It hasn’t been an easy road. As I scratch and claw toward this goal, I find myself searching for a motivational spark that propels me forward, that keeps me writing, tweeting, blogging and marketing.

Lately I’m motivated by women succeeding in their life’s work. Specifically, Lorelei Gilmore opening her own inn. Every time I watch that story arc I choke up. I cheer for her, sitting on the edge of the sofa, even though I know that by the end of the season, she’s successful, she happy, she’s free.

Better Things

Yeah, I know it’s a television show. If you know me, you know I’m a self-proclaimed television junkie. I love the medium. Besides books, I think tv is a great medium for telling a full, rich story. There’s time, in several hours, or weeks and even months. You have a chance to meet the characters, get more than a glimpse into their lives. You feel something for the characters even though you realize they’re not real. But for a few hours a week or a night, they are real.

Kids are work, they’re hard and they come with both good times and bad times. I have two. I’m tired, emotionally exhausted as I deal with a child who has crippling anxiety and another with transgender issues. Most of the time I question my decision, feel like a failure because I can’t keep up and it leaves me overwhelmed. And in that whirlpool of emotions I land on activities, books, movies or television shows that offer me a sliver of motivation, that make me feel as though I’m not a failure, like I oftentimes feel that I am.

Currently, my new favorite is Better Things. It’s a story about a working mom, raising three daughters alone. Sam is a working actress, fulfilling her lifelong dream and in the process, she struggles to raise her children, keep her career successful and deal with the unusual issues that her children manage to come home with.

As I watch it almost at times feels as though I’m with a friend and I don’t feel as bad as I did when I start. Maybe I’m not so far from being okay as I sometimes feel that I am.

Being a little unfocused and overwhelmed won’t be able to derail me.

Motivation

My motivation is different then your because I have different dreams, different desires, different needs. I desire to be in a different place, to be a better person a good mom.

I write because I can’t do anything else. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. Better Things, Gilmore Girls, the song Set Fire to the Rain (that’s for another blog), they motivate me. They inspire me to continue forward, to achieve me dreams, to raise successful, happy children. To accomplish that I find my own motivation, different from yours all to the same purpose. Find that thing and run with the spark and never lose sight of the meaning behind it.

 

 

 

Baseball, Poetry and the Linking of Time

Baseball, Poetry and the Linking of Time

There’s Poetry in Baseball

There’s poetry in baseball. The movement of the ball as it flies off the bat; the slide into a base; the swing of the bat. Hot summer sun beats against your skin from seats in the bleachers, a permanent fixture since 1937. Animated crowds pack themselves inside for the widest view of the field. And if so inclined turn and wave upwards to the scoreboard operator, the third generation in his family to man the board.

Wrigley Field is the past, it is the present, it is the future. They are all linked by fandom, those of us who bleed Cubbie blue. We were raised by parents, who were raised by our grandparents, and we are linked irrevocably by the love of the game, and the history of our team. Collectively we hang on each hit, each ball carried on the wind. It carries our hopes, our dreams in each at-bat.

Each season ended with immortal words, “Maybe Next Year”. We would slink away and lick our wounds, another season lost to time. 108 years of time.

They rewrote the story, and those of us who bleed Cubbie blue, breathed a collective sigh of relief, only after we jumped up and down, let out energetic screams and some of us even cried.

Baseball Links Us

I watched the series with my grandfather, who died in 1987. HIs picture lay on the table beside me;, facing the television. This he would have loved. That team would have sparked in him the delight of a child. How he loved baseball, how he loved the Cubs.

Live in the moment when it comes. Leave for the sporting goods store, 20 minutes after they win and bask with others as we wait to buy the prized “World Championship” gear. It doesn’t matter that it’s midnight. As “Go Cubs Go,” plays from someone’s car, chat up the next jubilant fan and share the stories. “Where were you when the Cubs won?” For a mere moment, there was no division, collectively we were simply Cubs fans.

It was the fourth largest gathering of humans in the history of the world. They snaked along the parade route to the rally. We packed ourselves into the park. It was a sea of blue, thousands of stories jammed together celebrating for themselves and for those who never got to see what we got to see.

At the rally.

LIke nothing before, we rolled from the rally, stretched out along the avenue, steady and proud in gear. A club of millions.

Michigan Avenue Chicago

This Year is Different

We are now experts in rooting for the champions, we’ve been here before. And yet, my stomach roils with each error, I hold my breath with each swing. We are giddy with excitement, because we know, how few and far between this could be.

I’ve passed my affliction to my children; they are now the fourth generation of Cubs fans and they understand the suffering and jubilance of truly being a fan. I cried today when they squeaked out a win. I will always bleed Cubbie blue.

 

 

Raising a Child with Anxiety – It Never Ends

Raising a Child with Anxiety – It Never Ends

You Don’t Just Get Over Anxiety

Anxiety isn’t just something you can “Get over,” or outgrow. It’s fear of the unknown, it can create low self-confidence and the fear grows more fear. It’s just that … anxiety and if you don’t have it, you just don’t get it.

Though there’s medicine that can reduce the stress, and therapy that can teach how to live with anxiety, what I’ve learned from raising a child with severe anxiety is, it just doesn’t go away. No amount of yelling, screaming, or rationalizing with your child will accomplish anything. And trust me, I’ve done it all when dealing with my kid, because my stress level grows when I can’t get her to do simple things, like be outside in the wind, or ordering a sandwich at the local Subway.

Over 18 and the Anxiety Still Gets in the Way

My daughter became a legal adult at 18, that was 1 1/2 years ago. I didn’t expect the anxiety to go away, but I was hoping with some maturity, she would be more willing to help herself learn how to live with it. But now what I’m  dealing with an adult who has anxiety. She’s just as stubborn about what she won’t do as she was before, but now I have some loss of control over certain situations.

Have you ever tried to talk to the doctor on behalf of your child and you can’t because guess what? They’re now an adult and the doctor legally can’t tell me anything without permission from my kid. It’s like beating my head against the wall.

It really wouldn’t be an issue if said child felt comfortable speaking to others on the phone, which she doesn’t, because you know why, anxiety. So what do you do when one doctor wants to sent your child to a specialist for a suspected issue and the billing office of another doctor needs to speak to your child and they won’t even hint as to why. .

Running my Head Through the Wall

AS with everything with my child with anxiety, I’m looking for answers to help assist without completely letting her get away with not advocating for herself. I’m looking to create a legal document that gives me permission to speak with doctor’s offices. If anything it should alleviate some of my stress.  When possible, I do make her call and give permission, but sometimes, when I’m not there, she choose to be obstinate.

Yeah, its frustrating, annoying, drives me crazy but this is who my child is. I can only do the best I can to make her and my life easier.

It takes a lot of compassion and understanding to deal with what you don’t understand. Some day I hope she remembers all I did to give her a good and full life, not defined by anxiety. One day I hope she finds a way to live with the anxiety so it doesn’t rule her.

 

 

 

 

Hope and the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon

Hope and the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon

Hope and the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon 

Comedian Jerry Lewis offered hope to families with relatives suffering from Muscular Dystrophy. He died Saturday at the age of 91. When I was younger, I watched the telethon with rapt attention; for whatever reason, I was drawn to it and the cause. At age 9, I held my own Muscular Dystrophy carnival. In high school we watched the local fundraiser live, in a mall. I went to a college that was handicapped accessible, and one of my classmates had MD. I even saw him on the telethon my junior year of college.

When it Hits Close to Home

When I gave birth to my twins in 1998, my daughter Stephanie was born with a neuromuscular disorder, similar to MD but not, there is still to this day, no diagnosis.

As we struggled to care for her deteriorating body, the telethon held a different meaning for me. This time what they did, the research and care of those afflicted, had relevance in my life. I will never forget the first time I called during the telethon to donate; I could barely speak to make my pledge.

It’s All About Hope

Though we didn’t have a diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy and was unable to utilize the facilities, I still donated, because I understood how difficult it was to care for someone whose body was dying. Physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, medicine, nursing care, hospice care. I would watch the telethon, as long as I could stand it, crying because it as so close, because I felt the hope, that some day, all these undiagnosed diseases would have a name. Because with a name, there was a gene and with a gene a treatment could be researched. Hope.

Some day other parents wouldn’t have to live through the pain, anger, sleepless nights, nursing shortages, as they watched their child suffer with breathing issues, oxygen shortages just before the weekend, or hospital stays.

Jerry Lewis Passes Away

Jerry was the spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and no one knew the reason why he did this. Why he stayed up for three days over Labor Day weekend, every year. Only his first wife knew. It was a remarkable devotion to a cause and his death makes me sad. It’s a reminder of my daughter and her struggle, of all the times, I searched for resources to assist with finding medical equipment or nursing help. What the MDA does for so many is make it easier for families to care for their loved ones and most importantly it offers hope that one day a cure will be found. May he rest in peace. He will be missed.

To donate – MDA.org

 

 

 

Life – Writing Your Own Story, Literally and Figuratively

Life – Writing Your Own Story, Literally and Figuratively

My Life – A Raging Tornado

Life, my life has been a roller coaster, of highs and lows, some so low, I thought that there would never, ever be another problem to contend with for the rest of my life. I’ve struggled to get pregnant, I’ve gotten pregnant easily. I had a difficult pregnancy, I’ve had an easy one. I carried twins, I’ve carried a single baby. I’ve given birth to three children, one born with a genetic disability that took her life at 11 months old; I have a child with such severe anxiety, that it has been a struggle for her and the family to live something normal, and now I deal with a transgender child.

As soon as I think I’m coming to the end of the roller coaster, just as it’s ready to pull into the station, I instead, and catapulted back to the first loop d’loop to start the journey again.

My Life – Yes, Sometimes I feel Sorry for Myself

I could have become an alcoholic, or a drug addict or harmed myself, but I didn’t. I thought for a while I was handling the lows, coming through them and surviving. What I was doing was merely surviving, allowing myself to merely be a victim of my circumstances. And yes, in that I felt sorry for myself. Sometimes it’s hard not to do that. After all that I’ve seen, all that I’ve lived through, after life battering me, throwing me from one situation to another, I realized, it’s okay to feel this way. Sometimes you have to let it go and simply feel for the loss of what you thought life would be. But what’s not okay, is wallowing for too long in the low.

My Life – At the Edge of the Abyss

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the 19 years of parenting. It’s okay to not be perfect. And it’s okay to put yourself first. I’ve stood at the edge of the Abyss with the universe pushing me, pressing me against the edge, laughing as I slip on the weakened earth beneath my feet. And as it pushing me toward the deep end, the my bottom, I’ve learned one last thing about myself. I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. And I shouted at the universe “NO! You can’t have me!”

Writing is what saved me from losing my mind, from letting the weight of the problems overwhelm me and victimize me. Twice this week I’ve heard myself saying or thinking, “We write our own story. ” Literally and figuratively that is. Granted life has a funny way of shoving us down certain paths, but what we do with these changes, is up to us. We write our own story.

My Life – My Passion is the Written Word

I write. It is my priority. It is my love and it is my passion. Someday I hope to do this as my living, not my “hobby” as I learn how to find a fan base big enough to allow me to live my dream. And what I’ve learned about that is, “You must never give up.” It’s that drive, that desire that has kept me grounded, that has made me a better mom, a better person. It builds my confidence, it makes me whole. It is what keeps me from falling off the roller coaster when it whips me around.

This is my life for better or for worse. And I’ve made my choice on how I write it. The glass will always be half full as long as you have the confidence in yourself to make it so.

See the glass as half full and find me at the following book fairs, Summer, 2017.

Printer’s Row Lit Fest

Ann Arbor Book Festival 2017

 

 

 

The Little Chick Has Returned to the Nest – Anxiety and My First Born

The Little Chick Has Returned to the Nest – Anxiety and My First Born

Anxiety and the start of the school year.

We picked all these items before school started in hopes they would ease my daughter’s anxiety about going away to school. And now her dorm room full of crap sits in my dining room, scattered across the floor and table where it was carelessly placed after unloading the SUV. The piles of junk spilled into the living room, the final car load needed a place to be stored. A final piece never left the kitchen where it takes up valuable walking space between the island and the refrigerator. If I don’t break soon, it may stay there the entire summer. Probably not…but you never know.

I’ve raised a highly anxious child for 19 years. I’ve dealt with a child who was barely able to talk to her teachers, who suffered from ADD, who was severely fearful of the wind and felt anxiety that was blinding and debilitating. She’s endured therapists, bad teachers, social workers, psychiatrists, all in the attempt to help her achieve some sort of normalcy, so that she could at some point in her life, live as a functioning adult.

This year was a mixed bag.

Three weeks before school started, she endured wrist surgery, an injury sustained during Tae Kwon Do testing when she broke several boards at the same time. After x-rays and physical therapy, there was no relief and surgery was the next option. My daughter’s first test as a functioning adult would be physical therapy on her own while away at school.

I worried when the first night away ended with an upsetting text and a phone call with my child on the end of the phone line crying, already not liking college, and it was still only Freshman orientation. I could feel the anxiety through the phone.

She wasn’t talking to her group, she wasn’t speaking to her roommate.

I sighed. It would be soon. She’ll get the hang of it.

I helped her through her first physical therapy appointment and held my breath when she went on her own. And each time, it got easier, not just for her but for me as I slowly let go. It could only get better.

 

Thinking Positive

I could only hope with a little time, with a little patience and experience my daughter would realize how far she had come. She was for the most part, living on her own, she handled physical therapy like a pro, she even drove herself home on several occasions, making her way through unfamiliar territory. I was proud of the challenges she overcame  all the while, the anxiety still present and real. She couldn’t see past it.

But it didn’t last.

Her roommate was mean. Complained of a weird smell, blamed my child as if she wasn’t showering. My kid who took 30 minute showers on a regular basis, began to doubt herself. People would comment about her behind her back while she could hear. The roommate moved out.

It shattered my kid. She never ever had anything quite like this happen to her. My heart broke for her as she called me crying, others in the hallway were making nasty comments.

But she persisted, she didn’t give up and continued on with the second semester, reveled in good grades and was invited to the smart kids fraternity.

There was so much to be proud of.

But It’s Still Anxiety

She has severe anxiety and possibly OCD, issues that can hinder if you’re not willing to do something about them. She saw a therapist at school to help with the roommate issue, I reminded her several times how far she had come. And in the end, she was willing to make things better, try to overcome the OCD and ADD and make an effort. She joined several clubs and even forced herself to go to meetings.

She started to think about a major, a minor, a possible career. But she still has anxiety. And as much as I want to toss the little chick out of the nest, I can only do it in small increments. She’s just not quite ready.

And that’s my job. Continual support of my child as she continues to grow and change and adapt. She will always have a home to feel safe in. A place to hide from the world, to soak in as much love as she can in order to face the harsh realities outside the front door.

I have high hopes for next year. She has clubs to join and will be rooming with a good friend who will be attending the college with her in the fall.

It’s never easy, but each step is confirmation that we’re in the right direction and someday, the little chick will be tossed out without realizing she had been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Writer’s Journey Through the Internet

A Writer’s Journey Through the Internet

A New Side Trip on the Journey

It’s a writer’s journey from book conception, to editing and rewriting, through the process of trying to sell your books. Here’s my recent entrée into my up and down journey.

Of Life, Loss and Finding Joy

That Moment in Time – When it felt time to have my first child, I knew it, and approached it as inevitable. But my next steps in life didn’t follow a straight path, it jerked sideways and turned out nothing like I imagined it would. For more about my article about the loss of my daughter Stephanie Paige check out Modernmom.com or Besteveryou.com

http://www.modernmom.com/of-life-loss-and-finding-joy-123327.html

http://www.besteveryou.com/single-post/2017/03/16/Of-Life-Loss-and-Finding-Joy

All About the Books

I’ve been very luck the last two weeks. I’ve had some amazing book reviews about Black Market, the second book in the Wizard Hall Chronicles. It’s amazing to see how others view the story and the themes and in honor of the End of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share the book reviews about Black Market and how Annie Pearce embodies female empowerment. Check them out on the following website.

The Goodmenproject.com

https://goodmenproject.com/guy-talk/book-review-of-black-market-wcz/

https://goodmenproject.com/arts/black-market-blends-worlds-together-jsnk/

 

Starrymag.com

http://starrymag.com/the-black-market/

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Publicity

The Art of Publicity

Publicity Isn’t About the Books

I’ve been around for seven years, tirelessly working to bring my books to the public, share the stories I love so much. Find a platform that inspires others and garner a bit of publicity.

As I worked with a publicist to bring my new book to market, she became aware of a new angle to find an audience. I had an opportunity to write an article about one of the most difficult times in my life; the death of my daughter. It is an emotional experience that I’m willing to share with others, because I have a unique insight. It’s also a form of publicity, one in which I benefit in unexpected ways.

The article really wrote itself. Words flew from my brain and out my finger tips and on to the screen. I was nervous to open up and put it all out there, but I did it and it reminded me of the struggles, of the love and of the loss.

This is about turning tragedy in light and love. I put it all out there and opened myself up, freeing myself.

I had no idea in my quest to get noticed, would be helped by writing what I knew. Faced with my past and the memories that linger was a welcome pit stop on my quest to write books for a living. I got something so much more.

It was a story that needed to be told. Memories, feelings, scents, so vivid when I retell the story. I needed to finally stand up and speak out and tell the story.

Lessons in Life

There’s so much more out there, and not so much time. But on the anniversary of my daughter’s death looming closely, I realize that I shouldn’t hide what had happened, I should embrace this as part of my life, and yes, even use what I’ve experienced to help sell books.

It is what shaped me and makes me who I am. All I can do is open up and let it all hang out.

Find me in cyperspace at the following links:

Modern Mom: Of Life, Loss and Finding Joy http://www.modernmom.com/?s=sheryl+steines

Besteveryou.com: Of Life, Loss and Finding Joy  http://www.besteveryou.com/single-post/2017/03/16/Of-Life-Loss-and-Finding-Joy

Goodmenproject.com  Black Market Review https://goodmenproject.com/arts/black-market-blends-worlds-together-jsnk/

 

International Women’s Day – Why it Matters

International Women’s Day – Why it Matters

Because Women Matter

We are wives, mothers, single women, human beings. We go to college, work full-time, play sports. We’re artists, CEOs, writers, maids, data entry clerks, stay at home moms. We are caring, we are strong, we are relentless, we are tough, we are soft. We are all these things because once upon a time there were others like us who could not be.

There was a time, when it was expected that we would become wives and mothers, unable to own property or get credit, or work outside the home.

But today, my friends varied in their interests. We are teachers, body guards, office workers, writers, social workers, architects, planners, thinkers. Most have children, some have chosen not to; others could not.

I’ve met women survivors of rape and incest, mothers who buried their children, women who rush through life involved in the constant care of children with physical limitations or mental disabilities, and women who give up everything to care for loved ones hundreds of miles away from their home and life.

Women matter, for all the contributions and sacrifices to those we love. We matter for the choices we’ve made and for the choices that will still need to made. Women’s history month reminds us that we as a collective have power, we as individuals have strength. We have come a long way from a time when we couldn’t own property, vote, get credit, go to college or play sports.

This is my remembrance of those who came before me, who fought for my right to my health, to my career. To the artists, writers, suffragettes, ordinary women who took a stand, were beaten for their beliefs, tossed in jail as punishment for speaking out. Susan B. Anthony, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sally Ride, Lucille Ball, Rosa Parks, Margaret Mead, Serena Williams, Judy Blume. So many I have no more room.

For more inspirational women see he National Women’s Hall of Fame: http://www.nndb.com/honors/867/000046729/

And lastly, this is a love letter to my girlfriends. We share our struggles, we support each other, we celebrate and cry together. For without all of my lady friends and not so lady, very salty friends. My shy gals and outgoing leaders, remembering women of the past and speaking up for the future is important to us and legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren.

Be kind, be full of love.

 

 

 

 

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