Fallacy of Normal
Nothing about my life as a parent has been especially easy or completely normal. Even getting pregnant came with fertility issues, morning sickness, cramping, pre term labor, multiple hospital stays and a carbon monoxide detector going off at 1am.
Once the babies came after my first pregnancy, I really believed I was done with the bad stuff, that I could go on my merry way into the normal sunset. But even that, wasn't meant to be. I gave birth to twins and even that couldn't end on the right side of happiness. Kids aren't born that way. While I had one healthy twin my other was born with a neuromuscular disorder. Her life was hard, with hospitals, multiple medical procedures and a feeding tube. I lived with nurses in the house for 8 months. If there was no nurse on duty, I was it.
My daughter Stephanie Paige died at 11 months old. It was a painful life for a small body, it was a stressful time for the family. We knew the outcome, regardless of what we did, and when she died, we thought, foolishly I might add, that we would soon be ushering in something more normal.
While children don't come with instruction manuals, they also done come without issues. My oldest, twin to Stephanie was diagnosed with ADHD, severe anxiety and OCD. Over the course of her young life, she had Theron's Disease in her left eye, Gilbert's disease with her liver, scoliosis, torn ligaments in her right wrist. I took her to therapists, psychiatrists, the pediatrician, an orthopedic.
My youngest was happy, athletic, social, busy. While I dealt with my oldest and her issues, I relished in what appeared to be normal, easy. But at 12 she came out as gay and with it came depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem. This round came with drugs and therapists. And in the end the announcement that my youngest daughter was a trans male.
It brings on sleepless nights, as I worry about an unkind world and how it will affect my children. No parenting book guides me through these issues.
We all buy into normal; we live for it on Facebook where we put our best foot forward, our pride in our families and children, in our bragging, look what I have. But that's not life, it's certainly not normal. It's a fallacy.
Life is messy and hard and sometimes it sucks beyond the telling of it. My life oftentimes feels like I'm a roller coasters as I'm up and down, upside right, and just when I see the end of the tunnel, when the ride will stop, it drags me along and pulls me upwards to the next, newest, problem, more complicated than the last.
I move forward in a fog, still hopeful that I will see the light at the end of the darkest tunnel. Right now, all I see is more dark. To keep sane, I write, and today I start draft 6 of my fourth book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles called Prophecy. It's where I can feel normal because I can write about something “normal.”
When we move past the fact that nothing in life is normal and will never be, we can strive for acceptance, act with compassion, and live as humans without labels. It's far better to live for happiness than normal. Only one is achievable.Continue reading
I was watching a documentary this weekend on the Eighties – you know, big hair, no cell phones. It was my childhood in review as they discussed the women on television story. I watched Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Cagney and Lacey, and while I was in high school, I wasn't quite self-aware and didn't understand how groundbreaking it was and what that could mean for me and my confidence.
Sometimes looking back on my early days, I feel disassociated with my life as though I wasn't actively participating in it. While I had a dream for myself and my future, I never connected an action to that dream. I didn't really think about the process of writing and what that would mean.
So back to my shows about strong, hard-working women who fought for the right to be treated equally in whatever job they took on. I could have used those ideas as a guide on how to manage my own career but a lack of confidence, had me taking one path rather than working on the path I really wanted. I spent my time working on Plan B, the plan to become a writer for some large company as I pursued my real passion. The problem is, I never really worked on my real passion, to become an author, spending my day writing books or magazine articles. There was too much fear in that unknown.
I find myself now, searching for the imaginary role models in Lorelei Gilmore, who finally followed her passion and opened her own inn rather than working in someone else's. I love old episodes of Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the women are strong and real as they work through their daily problems AND save the world.
When there's nothing on television or movies to use as a kick in the ass, I think of women like Amelia Earhart, or Kathryn Johnson whose mathematical calculations sent men to the moon, who followed their passions in their chosen field, fighting an uphill battle based on their sex and/or race.
It's not lost on me that what held me back from achieving my dreams wasn't necessarily my lack of opportunity it was a lack of confidence in myself. It's not an easy to fix to all of a sudden find the confidence to achieve your dreams. What I've learned in my 50 years is this, you don't achieve your goals by hoping and thinking it will happen. There is no guarantee that you'll accomplish your goals but you most certainly will not if you don't try.
The answer for me was to take my jealously and work harder, try different things as I try to finish my next book and sell the three others on Amazon.com.
Even if I have to fake the confidence for the time being, I must take the first step and the next step and continue, one at a time if I must. It keeps me moving forward rather than keeping me stagnant, in one place. And yes, I still watch the old shows, and the new gathering inspiration. It's like a recharge and reminds me that we all have similar struggles and if we can share the stories, we can all benefit.
It's something I remember especially on #InternationalWomensDay as I try to be my own hero, an active participant in my own life. It's sometimes a struggle, but totally worth the effort.
It's the time of year for resolutions when we make these pronouncements:
I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore.
Yes, I like to have a date when I will begin a new book, or have a book ready for publishing, but when it comes to these shouldas, couldas, wouldas, about my person, I feel as though I need to make a decision and begin, whether it's the beginning, middle or end of the year.
It's because I know what I need to do. I just have to get off my butt and do it, whatever it is, whenever it is.
See, I know I need to lose a few pounds. I need to eat smaller portions and eat less sugar. I didn't wait for the end of the year to make my New Year's resolution to begin. I just said, “This is what I need to be healthy.”
And I know it's not a diet. This is the way of life. I just have to do it.
For my career I knew I needed to manage the advertising and marketing and writing. I quit my job because at the moment I was able to. Because this is what I had to do if I want to be an author.
We like the idea of new beginnings. The ability to shed the bad stuff from the previous year. I have a lot of baggage I could do that with. What I need to do instead, is remember to live in the moment. Not my resolution, but my real life, all the time.
It's not a resolution, it's simply me remembering that today is a new day and I need to live today with all that entails. No more resolutions, no more attempts. Just one day at a time. If I slip today, I pick up and do it again the next without judging myself or being hard on myself when one day goes badly. I tomorrow, not January 1. There's always tomorrow.
If you must make a resolution, do this: Each and everyday I will:
We mess up. We take corrective actions we move on. I will remember to live in the moment, not starting on January 1, but starting today.
Have yourself a very happy holiday season and be your best self, even if that means you lay around in your jammies watching Doctor Who episodes once and while.
So preoccupied with my own things, I hadn't thought about giving back, until four days before Thanksgiving, when my dad gave me a tip about an event honoring military personnel in basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Academy just north of Chicago.
Thanksgiving with the Navy, a Thanksgiving day for these young recruits away from the base, for bowling, for dinner. It's run by a veteran named Don, an Air Force airmen level 3 who served in Vietnam. After his experiences coming home, he vowed to honor the mem and women in the armed forces and 21 years ago, he came up with the idea to honor them with Thanksgiving dinner.
I'm a creature of habit. I have to workout before I do anything else, or I have to starting working on my books by 1pm. Spontaneous, I'm not. It was four days from Thanksgiving, I was hosting 14 people at my house; I had things to do.
But it was a worthwhile story to investigate. And after contacting my dad's client Lori, an owner of the Wauconda Bowl, I scheduled a time to meet with her, Don and Lisa, who runs the Thanksgiving dinner at the Moose lodge.
It was a touching conversation with all three organizers. Lori's son served in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s. Lisa's brother served in Grenada and Don was injured in Danang, Vietnam. We had a conversation about their connection to the military, their family sacrifices, their worry for their loved ones.
Thanksgiving day starts with 100 volunteers on motorcycles, many retired military, escorting the bus filled with Navy recruits, to Wauconda where the young men and women are walked through town, honored by participants of the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, and walked to the 9/11 memorial at the center of town.
From there, the recruits are taken to the bowling alley, opened by Lori, where they spend the morning bowling, eating donuts, chatting with the volunteers and former members of the military. Phones and computers are donated for the day so recruits can call home, or check Facebook or simply connect with friends and family.
There is no political parties, no rancor, only Americans doing something nice for other Americans during one of the most depressing times of the year; they holidays without family. The event in itself is a simple act of kindness.
I'm a writer. To use my talent in the best way possible would be to give this amazing group of people the recognition they deserve. Not so much to give them the kudos for being selfless on Thanksgiving, but to also help them secure donations, to get their message to media and in doing so, encourage others to give of themselves, even if they're like me; creatures of habit who work very hard to go “off script.”
The little I did, was interview the organizers and show up the day of the event for an hour speaking with them, meeting some of the participants and other volunteers.
But what effects me so profoundly was at the end of the meeting on the Tuesday before the event, was speaking with Don, thanking him for his time and his service and assuring him, I will do my best to find an outlet for the story and I hoped that I could do the story justice. He nearly cried when he thanked me for what I was doing.
I wasn't expecting that.
Sometimes you take on a project for one reason and end up with a totally different perspective. I hope in the end I can do them justice and help out, if only for a day.
I'm very proud to announce my third book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles series, Wizard War.
After spending the last year deep in edits, working with beta readers, and sending out books to ARC readers, I'm so excited to share this new adventure with Annie Pearce, Cham Chamsky and the rest of the Wizard Guards as they traipse through Europe in search of a vampire on a murderous streak.
Eight months ago, Annie Pearce, closed the murder investigation of Princess Amelie of Amborix and put her killer in prison. So receiving a newspaper article with a picture of the princess alive and well, walking the streets of Paris, left Annie shocked and confused.
Who sent the picture?
With the threat of exposure hanging over her, Annie and her wizard guard partner, Spencer Ray chase the wily, young, vampire across Europe attempting to stop her murderous streak. When finding the vampire seems nearly impossible, Annie seeks out an old nemesis, Sturtagaard the vampire, to help them kill the demon princess.
But all is not as it seems. As Annie traipses across the jurisdiction of other wizard guard units, who blame her for the situation, tensions rise. A vulnerable Annie, must push aside her self-doubt and focus her energy on stopping the vampire. If she’s not careful, all her plans can lead to a wizard war, one that only she can stop.
Life is hard. We work full-time. We have children, friends, family, hobbies if we're lucky. We need to eat well, exercise daily. I have an adult child with severe anxiety, ADD and OCD. My youngest is a transgender male.
There's sleepless nights worrying about the extraordinary and sometimes I only have time to worry about the ordinary. You have to pick your battles.
I've always wanted to be a writer. I was seven when I started the Nancy Drew Mysteries. From that moment I not only wanted to read her adventures, I wanted to create and write my own adventures.
As life pulled me in difficult directions, writing became something more for me than just a means to make money doing something I was fairly good at. It became an escape from increasingly difficult and out of the ordinary situations. It was my inspiration.
Mystery novels have always been my first love. Taking a problem and digging one layer at a time to discover the truth. I also love the urban fantasy, epic fantasy realm. Hiding in the make-believe. It's there that I find equality lives, women can be strong leaders, justice most often prevails.
This is why I imagined Annie Pearce. Young, smart, beautiful, seemingly perfect but when you dig deeper, when you get to know her, she's flawed, she's vulnerable, she's real. She works in a highly male field as a Wizard Guard. A magical police officer who fights demons, vampires and evil wizards. She falls in love with her best friend and partner at work, Bobby “Cham” Chamsky and had to deal with the new emotions while investigating the biggest case of their careers.
Annie Pearce makes mistakes, some are small and easy to fix. Other mistakes can risk exposure or cause a wizard war. But she perseveres because that is her make up. She wants justice for the downtrodden, for the victims of crimes. Though she is young, she can be an inspiration.
I wrote Annie to be the woman I wanted to be. A strong survivor who can and will find her way through a difficult and often scary world. Joss Whedon's Buffy Summers was one of my inspirations for putting together a relatable woman.
While I stumble through my life with increasingly difficult situations that make me want to cry or hide in the sand or simply run away, I remember the alter ego that I created. I suck it in and imagine the confidence and take one step in front of the other. This is what I want and for now, Annie is my own fairy godmother and inspiration as I make my way through the world of writing to become the author I want to be.Continue reading
I'm not much of a self-help kinda girl. I don't criticize those who like that stuff. For me it's just so cult like. That someone could convince you to be a certain way or do a certain thing by what they say, versus you being able to do that for yourself.
That notwithstanding, I have on occasion read non-fiction works that have left me thinking, wishing, wanting something. My favorite has been and will always be On Writing by Stephen King. All writer's should read this, though I admit, it didn't quite light that fire under my butt and get me writing. And once I was a writer of a real book, it didn't inspire me to quit my job.
So next read, was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It was also a journey about finding fulfillment and doing what makes you happy. What it made me want to do was prune and care for my yard. But as it was mid winter and my yard was covered under several inches of snow, I never made it to the reconstruction of my back yard and the growing of grapes on a trellis.
My last foray into the non-fiction inspirational type of self-help book, was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I came across that quite by accident, when surfing cable for something to watch. Weirdly, I thought, it actually hooked me but really it only left me wanting to take a trip to Naples, Italy, find the restaurant with the green and white tiles and eat a margarita pizza. So much so I put it on my bucket list. No kidding.
Nothing, I say NOTHING has ever left me more motivated to do anything than the quote, “She Believed She Could, So She Did by R.S. Grey. Funny story. I received a Pandora bracelet for my 50th birthday recently. Not knowing much about it, I went online searching for a charm that represented me as a writer. Surprisingly I found a typewriter, with a disk and that exact quote etched into it. It was specifically marketed as a charm for writers, authors, bloggers. Perfect.
I had never heard the quote. But I ordered the charm. It stuck with me. The quintessential quote about confidence. The kind of confidence that lights a fire under your butt and forces a change in the way you live.
It took me all of two weeks to assess my situation; to realize that I've been steadily selling books. Maybe not enough to replace my salary, but enough to that I could quit a job I really didn't like and make a major push for the end goal. A full-time writing career.
I kept my job because I wasn't selling enough books. But in order to sell more books, I needed more time. Once I found that quote, once I realized that all I needed was pure confidence in myself, than I could take that first scary step and author for a bit. Truly become that person that I knew I wanted to be when I was seven years old.
I never wavered from that dream. It has traveled with my from the time I was seven. It was all I wanted to be, and everything I did from writing my own detective stories at seven, to taking English classes in high school and getting a BA degree in English, to taking as a procedure writer, a blogger, writing brochures, newsletters or biographies. Everything I have done as been for that single moment when I took that step forward into the world I had dreamt of most of my life. To be an author, to say what I have to say, to be who I want.
It was all because of that quote. “She Believed She Could, So She Did.” To RS Grey I thank you.
It’s that time of year again. It’s time for beginnings and starting fresh, a new year. It’s time to make resolutions, pledge to better habits and embrace goals for the year. The slate is clean and you can start anew.
No – it is not New Year’s Eve. Check your calendar again. For me, the beginning of the year does not start on January 1. It doesn’t even start on the first day of the fiscal year. It doesn’t start at the Jewish New Year (although that is closer in date…) For me, everything is changes with the beginning of the new school year.
There is something exciting and promising about September for all ages. When you were young, it would be the opportunity of a new school year ahead of you. New teacher, new school supplies, new classmates – everything was starting over with a clean slate. I would say to myself, “This year, things will be different. I will kick off the school year with good study habits. My notebooks are fresh. My teachers don’t know that I have a tendency to turn projects in late. I can reinvent myself.”
As a mother, I still have these new school year feelings for my children. We go out and buy fresh school supplies. We talk about what didn’t work last year and try to set up new organizational systems, develop new study strategies, and more to make this coming year a success.
And embracing the new “year” still affects me as an adult, even though don’t personally follow a school year calendar. New commitments to writing. New commitments to organizing my life. New commitments to selling my stories. New ideas. A fresh start.
When is your “new year”? How does the approaching fall affect you? Does the newly crisp air incite you to start fresh? Or are you one who subscribes to a January 1 deadline for making resolutions? Or maybe you don’t believe in setting arbitrary dates to change your habits and to live a better life. What is your strategy? Let me know at by commenting here or finding me on Facebook or Twitter @SherylSteines.
Meanwhile, happy new season!Continue reading
She keeps going off by herself and doesn't ask for help. Whether it's to follow leads, a suspect or even do research, she repeatedly leaves on her own, against the warnings of friends and colleagues to not go anywhere without backup or knowing where she is. It's a problem throughout book one of the Wizard Hall Chronicles, The Day of First Sun.
Cham: “Can I look at your neck?” Dark purple bruises covered both sides of her neck. “I should have gone.” His obvious concern caused Annie a great deal of guilt.
Annie: “I shouldn’t go out like that again.”
Now, we all slip away on our own from time to time. But in our world, there are few consequences to that action. Annie’s world, however, is fraught with danger. She's investigating crimes committed by powerful individuals – all of whom have an ax to grind against her specifically. Yet, despite the fact that Annie’s boss, boyfriend, and colleagues consistently offer her their support and services, Annie sneaks off by herself to follow a lead. She goes to a warehouse and witnesses humans being turned into zombies and is almost caught as she leaves.
Cham: “I’ve been calling for you for an hour. We need to talk about the plan, and you’re constantly gone…Please tell me what is going on.”
Annie: “I’m trying to catch a murderer.”
Cham: “Whose murderer?”
Annie: “Does it matter?”
Cham: “If you get yourself killed, yeah, it matters. Where were you?”
Annie: “I broke into his warehouse and hid…They knew someone was there. And I was scared. No one knew where I was…”
She follows the evil wizard behind the creation of this zombie army and winds up doing battle with him without backup. After each occurrence, she is chastised by others but it doesn’t really stop her from doing it again.
Cham: “Where were you?…No call, no idea where you were. I’m sorry if I was worried!”
Annie: “I’m a big girl. I don’t need you to take care of everything. I can take care of myself.”…Her heart raced, and she bit her lip to keep from crying…
I didn’t listen to Milo. No one knew where I was.
“You’re not getting out of here alive!” the evil wizard taunted. Annie rolled her eyes.
But then again no one knows I’m confined with him down here.
As a reader, I’m sure you want to jump through the pages and shake Annie, screaming “why are you taking these chances? Accept the help being offered!” I oftentimes thought that as I was writing it. But Annie is based on real women with familiar struggles we can relate to.
It might not be as dangerous as chasing zombies. It could be a simple as you are sick and others have offered to help, or you have a lot on your plate and are concerned you can’t do it in the time frame you have available. People offer to help, but you say them you have it covered or you don’t want to bother anyone. Or it could just be a control issue, only you can do it. I've been guilty of all of these. Many people have trouble accepting the extended hand of others. And as a person who is independent and intelligent, Annie is one of these individuals.
Annie learns her lesson in the second book of the series, Black Market. Annie is very aware that she has this tendency and works hard to overcome it. So my question to you today– do you see yourself in Annie? Do you ask for help when needed? Or do you take it all on by yourself to your detriment? I have to admit that I frequently struggle with this issue. It is a lot easier to “cure” a character than to “cure” yourself!Continue reading
I search for a hero. It's my current life's quest or, in this case, of television time, it's the theme I'm most drawn to as I clamor for a new television show. Generally I watch television for two reasons: first and simply, to entertain me. Secondly and more complexly, I'm drawn to shows that resonate with me in some way. Lately it seems, I'm amenable to shows that center around strong female characters, women who fall and rise up again.
This could range from the obvious, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed come to mind. But it's not the obvious I'm searching for. It's more subtle, based in someway in reality. Stories centered around Queen Victoria or Claire Frasier in Outlander. Or even closer to home, the women of Criminal Minds.
I fully admit, I'm in one of those valleys in life when things seem impossible, too hard. A time when I feel as though I work so hard without anything to show for the world.
It's at those points when the search becomes the focus, looking for that story that will inspire me and lift me from the muck. It's the one thing that can pick me up from this downer I've been in.
I'm drawn to stories of women and their struggles. Not because they struggle although that makes me feel better; rather I'm so very curious about how they overcome and rebound and say “Screw you!”
Queen Victoria and Claire Frasier wanted more, wanted to be heard. Sometimes they knew it would have been easier to be born a man. I look to them with admiration whether they are real or just pretend and realize, we all have our issues. Our downfalls. Our time to shine. I don't want to be them. I want to be me. To be my own hero and prove to myself that I am a good writer, I can do this for a living. Giving up isn't an option.
I write my own hero in Annie Pearce. A women I wrote to be real, to be admirable. To rise and fall in a real way. I want readers to connect with her, to understand her. To love her and at times hate her because she can be vulnerable.
She is me and I am her and as I work through my ups and downs through specifically sought after television shows, I also channel that energy into a hero of my own creation and hope that someone who needs her, can find her, just like I've done in my own search.
Here's to us, who search for that extra lift. A hero that inspires our dreams and grows side by side with us as we live our real woman lives.
A few years ago with a lack of confidence, I joked about dying my hair red and calling myself Lola. My plan was try new things, reinvent myself, pull up and out of the mire, regain my confidence.
I came up with a list of things I wanted to try. It didn't quite work. I still find myself spinning my wheels. Desperate to figure out how to sell my books, to find a better job, to not work so hard for so little reward.
You see, I send out resumes nearly everyday, I join book groups to make contacts, go to book workshops to learn how to handle the business of writing. I plan my social media. And yet every morning, I dread the drive to work, the long hours doing what I don't want to do, and the having the knowledge that book two is so much better than book one and not being able to get it out to the masses.
The therapist told me that maybe I needed to approach the problem in a new way.
So how to you climb out of the funk and change your life when there are so few options because you have responsibilities and little time.
I started looking for ways to change the strategy, the viewpoint, and the outcome.
I stopped forcing myself to write on week nights when I'm so exhausted from a full day of work. Instead, I work on social media, blogs, and other business and if there's time I write. My goal, 500 words. Sometimes I get them in, sometimes, I fall asleep on the couch at 8:30 at night. I always write on the weekend.
But now I stop at 9 pm. I cuddle up in bed and shut out the world with a book, an easy read that allows me to meld into a different world and think of nothing else. It leads me to a more peaceful sleep.
I've been applying to jobs I otherwise might not have. Making a change in hopes that there's a freelance gig that's right for me. Less hours in order to give myself time to do what I really want to do–the thing that actually gives me confidence–Writing.
Most importantly, I decided that I physically feel horrible all the time. Stomach aches, headaches, cramping, bloating, and tight clothes.
Sometimes with all the problems, the kids with issues, law suits, jobs that make me unhappy, the last thing that gets taken care of is myself.
I can do this. I'm re-starting the eating and exercise plan that I've had a lot of success with in the past. It balances the food groups, it balances exercise, and when I've done this in the past, I feel strong and healthy.
I'm looking for new opportunities. Different types of jobs and applying anyway. Just in case. I'm writing because it makes me happy.
I registered for a book workshop and signed up to meet agents. Because maybe in person, I can be heard. It might be good, it might not, but it's interaction with people in the industry.
I'm building a following, a list. Following others. Sharing. A slow sell, encouraging others to read book two. Maybe finding others who like the same things I do.
It's not about reinventing myself, becoming someone I'm not. It's about remembering who I am and where I want to go and never loosing sight on that. To do that, I have to try new things, look at the problem with different eyes and all in all, take care of myself. Give myself a break and live a little.
Day one. I've eaten all the good things I'm supposed to eat. Without hunger, without guilt. I finally crafted a blog and worked on social media. I even took a nap.
We always have it within ourselves to pull ourselves up and out. We just have to let go of the fear and just say go.
I can't see much outside my window at work. It's high on the wall, it tilts inwards, leaving me a view of the sky and of the top of the tree just outside my window.
As a dreamer, I take time outs, day-dream of a story idea, fulfilling a wish and often times my attention turns to the tree outside. I watch with great interest, from season to season, that tree.
From the tiny buds that sprout in the spring, hiding the new bird's nest, to the lush fullness of summer where the birds hide from the mid day heat, to the bright orange contrasting against the bright blue fall sky.
It's barren now, with only a few dead leaves swaying in the breeze.
Ice collects on the ledge between the glass and the cement window ledge. Snow collects on the glass only to melt by the mid day sun, even as the temperatures plummet so close to zero. I stare all day at the grayness outside my window, dull and lifeless as I long for the coming spring.
Today I saw something different, unexpected, the first sign of the changing seasons. Several cardinals, several lady birds and their mates, red against the gray sky. They're pecking at the water that collects near the base of the window, heated only by the heater in my office space. They keep at it for many long minutes, preparing for the gathering storm. I watch with interest as they fly to the barren tree and back again, lapping up the water as if it will be their last for some time.
A simple act of survival, and I stood there and watched until they flew away.
When they were gone and I was alone in the grayness, I turned and walked back to my desk and waited for the gathering storm.Continue reading
Confidence can come by way of kudos from a boss for a job well done, a raise for that job well done, a good book review for a long-awaited book release, a stranger, unprovoked telling me she loves my style and looks forward to seeing what I wear everyday.
There's a purpose behind that story. I was working on a blog about the Nobody Girl, a reference I make about myself. It's not intended to be self derogatory, or mean. It was meant to illustrate my place in my life. The girl no one paid attention to, the girl whose teachers always called by the wrong name, even after I corrected them. I was the one who wasn't picked on, wasn't noticed, just there.
I get that fashion isn't an important priority. There are children who don't get enough to eat, women who walk miles a day to get their daily water, war, and hate. For now I can only speak to my tiny corner of the world and how clothes transformed, me, the way I walk, talk and carry myself, and why it's important.
As this nobody girl, my clothes were big, baggy, unfashionable. I was shy, quiet, a with little confidence. Every once in a great while, a great sweater, awesome boots, a good hair cut, could in an instant, turn that nobody, hiding behind anything, could feel fierce, confidence, able to take on the challenges.
Style, whatever that may be, is a reflection of the person who chooses the clothes and wears them. For me, my life was changed the day I wrote the first word, that led to the first sentence, which led to the first paragraph. It grew to the first page, the first chapter and ended with the first book. It was a transformative experience to achieve the first part of the dream I had since I was seven. It was the start of a growing confidence.
It led to straightening my hair, which changed the way I looked at myself and how I felt about myself. I changed the way I dressed my new self, taking chances, with clothes, shoes and purses, trying on items that reflected a fun, carefree, and fierce individual. What every one else wore didn't interest me. I wanted to stand out, get noticed, be heard and make sure they always knew my name.
It was a compliment, that someone took the time to tell me they liked my style. I stood out, I was memorable. That feeling, that feeling that I no longer need to hide, that I will no longer want to accept things just because. I want to be remembered, be heard, make my mark and share my voice.
This is what I want. It's what I've always wanted. I want to write. I want to create. I want to share my voice, my experience. However, I come to that confidence, is important. It just is. Whether it's a well written book, or a great outfit, I can walk with my head up, my shoulders back and know, some day, they won't forget my name.Continue reading
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.
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 what do you celebrate? Are your traditions food related? Location related?
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!
Why are we living for the weekend rather than the living in the present moment? Is the thing we spend most of our time doing, that distasteful to us, that we long to be any where but where we are?
I don't enjoy living for the weekend. Living for the sweetness of lazing around, taking my time to drink a tea, watch some mindless television, to not rush awake before the sun rises so that I can get it all in before work. Because realistically, I'm still not getting it all in.
It's time to enjoy the time in between doing what I love to do.
I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was seven years old. I never once wavered from the dream. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to create worlds of my own making, make my own schedule, feel the sense of accomplishment and freedom you get working from home. It is a great dream and during those periods of time when I've been at home, in between full-time paying jobs, I felt that freedom, I experienced the sense of accomplishment as I finished 5 book drafts. As the book series worked itself out.
And then I got a job.
It's boring. It feels like a time suck and I find myself living for those moments in time, in between being at work where I can finally sit down and write. Where I can feel productive and proud of the work I do. Unfortunately I haven't fully found my audience and the reality of life was such, I needed to go back to work.
My daily struggle, rising before the sun and rushing out the door al the while knowing that I'd rather be at home being creative, letting that side of myself stretch out and explore. I don't have that opportunity writing procedures.
I sigh. The dream is still the dream, the book, is still being written. Creativity is my escape from the mundane as I explore options for not letting myself get sucked into the living for the weekends. There is so much time wasted, longing to be where we are not.
It's time to not live like that anymore. I make a vow to myself.
It's time to let go of the desire to be perfect. It's time to create priorities. Yeah, something's need to get done. Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, seeing friends. Something has to give, a plan needs to be constructive, sleep needs to be had.
When we let go, not hold on too tightly, we can live in the moments in between where we want to be. Life is too short to work through it, to miss the other moments in time. I forced myself to go to yoga tonight, even though I wanted to come home and write before I became to tired to think. Because I know, I needed that hour and 10 minutes to be alone with myself. To recharge and stretch. Something had to give. Tonight that thing I let go of, laundry.
I can wear dirty pants one more day. Can't I?