Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mama-Bearin'

Hormones are strange things.

They can make us happy, they can make us sad, and they can make us one heck of a crazy Mama Bear- whether you have kids or not.




That's one thing the bible didn't mention in Ecclesiastes 3- a time for Mama-Bearin'. The other one the bible missed was a time to hide from said Bear. 

A happy camper I ain't.

Unexpected hormonal surges turn this semi-mild mannered woman into a raving lunatic, and even I don't know if it will make me turn into a protective Mama Bear or the Hulk hyped up on gamma rays. Being a Momma Bear might sound like a good thing, but the results are much the same as the Big Green Dude. 

The kids have stopped telling me about their days because if someone gave them a hard time, that someone's body might not be found. Ever. No one messes with my kids while I'm immersed in the Hormonal Pool of Doom.
Hot flashes don't help either. They hit like a hammer blow; much like going from an arctic, air-conditioned room to the outdoors during a heat-wave. They didn't used to last long, but now people can grill things over my head or do a little slow-roasted BBQ. I'm okay with that, as long as they give some to me.

When the Mama-Bear waters have ebbed, I'm a pretty nice person. Some who haven't seen me in Bear mode don't believe me. "But you're so nice!" They say. Or, "I can't imagine you acting like that!" They exclaim, doubting my tales. 
But those that have seen the Bear know better. There must be an expression I make, or a threat in the tone of my voice when the Bear waters cometh, because those who love me tend to nervously glance at each other and back away from me slowly- As they should.

I can't say that I like myself in this mode, unless there's someone or something to legitimately fight. My fights tend to be verbal, but because I'm as big as I am, I tend to paint a very intimidating picture. It's not pretty folks, but it does come in handy when there is a real threat. 
Let's just say you don't want to be the one I catch robbing my house in the middle of the night. Or trying to rob my house. You won't. You might even lose a few body parts in the process while trying to vacate the premises as expediently as possible, because 'the Bear don't play'.

Just sayin'.

I wish I had control of it. I pray every day for God to not let me do lasting damage to my family and friends relationships. Hormonal surges are like little bouts of insanity- you go crazy for a little bit, then when things calm down you have to do damage control because everyone is mad at you for something you don't remember saying- or don't want to remember saying. Ugh.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and repeat "Your will be done Lord, not mine." over and over again until the surges pass. I'm just glad God made me a writer- most Mama-Bear moments happen when I'm home alone, for which I'm eternally grateful. So far no one has found the bite marks on the furniture.

Prayer does help. 

I'm praying the Bear goes into hibernation soon, but I really won't know until after the surgery. If the hormones are still running rampant afterwards, then God is going to be One Busy Guy, because there's going to be a lot of prayers coming from this house- and not just by me.

Can you imagine a wounded Mama Bear recouping from surgery? Egad- where's the chocolate and BBQ?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Changing Gears With God

I used to think life was a crazy triathlon. It's actually more like a polyathlon- because life has changed gears more than three times. Much more.

For me, life is beginning to resemble the tango!

Kids grow up.
Kids go to college.
I find myself looking for the woman I used to be, but I'll never be her again.
I'll be better.

I'll be better because I know more than I used to. Some call that wisdom; I call it experience. Your kids and husband give it to you, whether you like it or not. Just don't tell them I'm wise- they might not think you're talking about the same person.

Now life is changing gears again. Life has become more malleable, allowing me to make choices I could never make before. Or choices I wouldn't allow myself to make.

Like starting my own business.
Starting a ministry.
Helping my husband start his own business.
And help him expand his church ministry.

Yes, I know some people can do these things with babies in their arms, but I'm not one of them. I can multitask with the best, but only when focused on one aspect of life at a time. I just can't do the family/career/missions thing all at once- my head would explode!

Pretty soon I'll have an empty nest, and I don't want to sit there trying to hatch something that's no longer there. I want to hop off the nest, shake my feathers, and go explore the possibilities!

Except for one thing. I've been on the nest for so long, I've forgotten how!

Taking that first step into the unknown has to be the scariest thing on the planet. It was easier when I was a toddler, because I didn't know any better. Stepping into something new was awesome as a kid! As an adult, I have no problem thinking about how everything can go wrong, and though fear shouldn't have a grasp on me, it often holds me back with an iron grip. "What if" can be a very empowering motivator, but at the same time it can also be quite crippling.

But then I remember I'm not by myself in this. God is with me.

He gives me the courage to try something new.
He lifts me up if I have setbacks- and there are a lot of them.
He provides through the lean times, and at times blesses us with enough to share.
He did this throughout my time as an at-home mom.

So why should I fear changing gears? It's not like God went out to lunch...right? He's still here right beside me- And He's beside you too!

Life has once more changed gears on me. Once I get past the fear, the excitement builds. I wrote a little haiku about it.


Choices

Making life choices
Standing on a precipice.

I can fall or fly.

God is going to help me fly!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Puzzling Puzzles

Do you love puzzles? Me too!

I loved them as a kid. Usually it was puzzles that came in pieces in a box that I had to put together, and it took hours. I also loved puzzle books. I especially loved the puzzles in Highlights magazine; I'd never read the stories until I did at least three mind-challenging brain teasers first. That was a moral imperative!

As I grew into a teen my tastes changed. I still loved putting together puzzles, but I also bought puzzle books. Word Finds were my favorite, yet I hated crosswords; But when I found math puzzles, boy did I get excited! By the time I started writing articles for magazines as an adult, I was solving at least fifteen different kinds of puzzles.

I decided to start making them. I kept them simple at first- crosswords were a lot more fun to create than I expected (it's nice to know the answers beforehand!), but then I started getting into math puzzles and word logic, and before I knew it, I could create over twenty different types of puzzles.

Making puzzles was fun, but tedious. I had no programs to create them, and did them all  by hand- er...computer. I used a paint program and made everything from scratch; Not exactly efficient. But I didn't need to be fast- I was creating them for magazines, so i didn't need more than a handful a month. All was well with the world.

Then I found a neat little online program at www.crauswords.com to help me create puzzles without having to hand-make them anymore. Now instead of taking a half of a day to make one, I could create them in minutes! Wow!

Now it was time to create my very first puzzle book.

It took longer than I thought, yet went faster than I realized. Planning puzzles isn't the easiest thing to do, but once I had all the information down, all I had to do was type in the specs and create, create, create!

However, I forgot about formatting. Formatting can be a nightmare, especially since most of these were images. In fact, it was so much of a pain that I put the book aside for a bit and focused on the independent publishing of my journals. It was then I found another online wonder called www.Canva.com that allowed me to drag and drop everything I needed and to set the pages up the way I wanted. I had to do it in sections and that was fine- it was much better than trying to format everything!

After a lot of trial and error, I finally had not one book, but two!

I just sent them through createspace, and will be getting my proofs soon. How exciting! Not only can puzzle lovers buy the books on Amazon (Mind Play Puzzle Lovers Book Vol. 1 & 2 coming soon!), but I have links and an email address included so people can contact me with puzzle book ideas! That means if there's a puzzle book you'd love to see but can't seem to find, ask me- I can probably create one!

And I only say probably because I don't know all of the puzzle types out there- but I have a feeling I'm going to learn about new puzzles after these books come out!

I'm so excited about this new venture that I just had to share with you! And if you're a puzzle lover, join me on my Facebook page and I'll keep you posted on updates! https://www.facebook.com/Bethbrubakerauthor/


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hystericalectomy

One surgery down, one to go.

Yep. It's official. They want my parts outta there. I haven't gotten the test results back yet, but after talking to the resident doc after the first surgery, he had absolutely no doubts that I need hysterectomy.

And after speaking with the doc that actually did the surgery (younger doc- older one was observing), she said she found a polyp near one of my tubes. Whether it was cancerous or not is still in the hands of the lab techs, but a polyp isn't just an organic chandelier- it's an indicator of something amiss. Great.

I was in and out of the hospital within a matter of hours, and apparently I'm funny as heck when on anesthesia. I also become exceedingly mellow and cool, because I was giving high fives to everyone I wheeled past. 

I found that percocet is awesome. They only let me have one, and I was good for a nice, long time. Really good. I was glad they didn't give me a prescription- I can see how people get addicted to those suckers.

The next few days I was supposed to rest, but I felt really, really energetic for the first time in over a year, so I decided it was a good time to cut up veggies, then repackage the meat that my husband bought into serving sizes.

I felt normal for the first time in years. And by 'normal', I mean my old, happier, more jovial self. I laughed more, and found myself generally content with life. I really missed that feeling.

But oh, that third day! I was hurting and started to bleed. Yup. I overdid it. I remained flat as I could for the next two days, and allowed myself to heal. 
The down side to this healing process is the hormones, hot flashes and seasonal allergies returned, and there I was, back to being Jabba the Hutt's younger sister, Firesnot. 

My follow-up appointment is in the second week of October, when I get the test results. That will also be when I make the appointment for the hystericalectomy. That recovery time will be a lot longer, and I'm hoping to get some writing done between periods of being very, very flat. Maybe they'll let me have a few percocets to take home. 

I'm hoping to be completely back on both feet before Christmas, and work out new lifestyle eating and exercise changes for the New Year. My knees are feeling better (though I do have the occasional gimpy off-day)- but I'm not implementing anything concerning exercise until this surgery is over and done with. 

When this is all said and done? Look out world- I'm coming out to play!


Monday, September 18, 2017

PMS Institute

PMS can mean many things, but in this case, it means Peri-Menopause.

After this past two weeks I realized something. There needs to be a mental institute for peri-menopausal women. 

I'm generally a nice person- really, I am! But during this past month, the grasp on my emotions has been getting steadily worse, and I think it all started two to three years ago, when the peri-menopausal monster decided to rear its over-estrogenated, roller-coaster-emotioned head.

As of this weekend, I lost my grip entirely.

I was crying for no reason. Anything brought me to near-crying! The pastors' sermon was uplifting, but my eyes acted like it was an eulogy. He could have said the word 'the' and my eyes would blur with unreleased tears.

But that wasn't all folks- oh no! I went from an understanding, loving person to unreasonable shrew in less than 1.2 seconds- and all it took was a loving smile from my hard-working husband. 

He doesn't deserve that. My worst enemy doesn't deserve that! But on I spewed, ranting and raving about all the wrong in my life and the world, volcanic words erupting from my mouth and throwing ash all over the living room carpets.

When I was by myself, I cried that no one cared. When I was with people at church, I wanted to be alone. Does that sound like a sane person?

Well, this wasn't the first time this happened (though I admit it was one of the worst hormonal episodes), so I decided to get checked out. I'm still not sure if that was the right decision or not, because they found something.

Atypical cells.

So instead of an institute, I'm going to the hospital for an outpatient procedure called a D&C. Apparently I have a few layers that decided to stay put and they have to go in and do a little wallpaper removal. They have to check my innards to make sure those atypical cells were possibly an organic typo, or if I need to get some parts removed. The doc told me my estrogen levels were through the roof- and that was probably why I was a peri-menopausal psychopath, and that I was also a high, pre-cancer risk. 

Oh Joy and Rapture.

I go in for the surgery Wednesday. If things turn out to be atypical (or even cancerous), I will be having a hysterectomy. In my case, it will be a hystericalectomy. I'm not crazy about having my parts removed, but I'm also not crazy about being hormonally crazy either. 

(Wolfburgers, anyone? Been there, almost done that!)

After talking to a few of my 'ectomy' friends, it seems the hormonal roller coaster rides will stop, and the estrogen levels will level off, because I won't be producing it anymore. Since estrogen is stored in the fat cells (according to the doc), I'll get some of the estrogen back when I start losing weight, but eventually I'll have to start taking supplements. 

Eventually. Like when I'm eighty.

So the trade off is a calmer, happier and possibly thinner me (or at least thinning), no chance of having to support kids in college in my seventies, and no more monthly (or quarterly) mattresses in exchange for one uterus and a couple of over-active ovaries. 

I think I can handle that- at least until the next hormonal surge happens. Then I'll be in the bedroom drowning myself in my tear-soaked pillow. Sigh.

In the mean time I would ask for your prayers and positive thoughts as I go under the whatever-it-is they use for the D&C- and don't tell me, I really don't want to know. 
Just so long as I'm in a medical institution for less than a day and not a mental one for the rest of my hot-flashing, teeth-grinding life, I believe God's got this- but a lot of prayers sure don't hurt matters...right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tis The Sneezon



Ah, Spring and Autumn, you delight me with your bright regalia of color, your special sweet smells of growth and defoliation, with your wild creatures running amok to either celebrate the end of winter, or scurrying to find food for their secret winter stashes. 

But your pollen laden air can go take a long hiketh off of a short cliffeth.

Those itchy eyes, that red and swollen nose is oh-so-attractive to my slumbering mate as he is startled awake by the thundering moose-like bellow of the wild that is the blowing of my very stuffed, yet runny nose. To this day it amazes me just how much can be forcibly propelled out of one's nostrils; so much so that I imagine there is some sort of miraculous measurement written in the vast pages of Guinness Book of World Records. 
Go back to sleep my love I gently croon in a very unromantic babbling cant (for one cannot utter certain letters when ones nose is so stuffed) , praying he will be in deep slumber before my next allergenic eruption.

Sometimes I manage to hold back the explosive utterances, only to find myself questing with quavering fingers through the darkened recesses of the bedding for my eyeballs. On occasion, I manage to sleep.

The morning alarm sounds, bringing me into a new day- or at least that is what I assume, since my eyelids are cemented shut. Nocturnal tears wept to relieve the itchiness apparently hardens overnight into an almost impenetrable crust, for which I need a minuscule hammer and chisel to remove the stubborn ocular barnacles so I can at last see the light of pre-dawn.

Mornings are fraught with frantic searching for fresh hankies as I sense the pre-sneeze tickling in the vast depths of my nasal cavity, often ending with a hasty toilet paper substitute when the needed eco-friendly solution to my carbon footprint can't be found; but when that swatch of soft washable nose gear is located, a cry of triumph and the thrill of glorious celebratory glee courses through my very being when said hankie is conscripted in time for the gust that even the Big Bad Wolf would envy.

Or should I say series of gusts, for you see, my body, having lain dormant for more than a few hours, makes up for time by sending me into convulsive, multiple sneezing fits that more than one hankie is required. This is especially appreciated when engaged in conversation or if consuming the morning repast.

If it weren't for the hankies, many, many forests would suffer decimation from my spring and autumn pollen perturbed proboscis. There aren't enough tissues in the universe to save my poor nose, not to mention we'd either be bereft of funds from the expense, or the earth would suffocate from the overfilling of our toxic waste dumps from my allergenic leavings.

Another happenstance that fills me with joyful exuberance is the unexpected spritzing of a non-incontinent yet neither leak-proof bladder. When in mid-sneeze, one has no control over ones intense muscular contractions of  the solar plexus, henceforth no command over the drips, drops, or complete loss of control concerning urinary release. This makes any outing delightfully more adventurous, even when one is wearing a washcloth, or mini mattress made for other womanly functions. 
Trips are planned carefully, in accordance to the location of bathrooms, or within a three foot vicinity of the domicile in case a sneeze occurs.

As for allergy alleviation, One can either be drowsy and muddle-headed all day, or choose the path of the overnight medication that would send one into an almost coma-like stupor; though either will send your body into a severe mode of dehydration, sending any and all fluids to the finite depths of ones bladder. As long as no fluids are consumed, all seems well- but the moment liquid touches ones lips, all symptoms come rushing back with an epic vengeance, bringing forth tear-blinded eyes and fits of sneezing that will alleviate the hydration-bloated urine-filled water balloon that ones so desperately tries not to loosen, because a lavatory is not within waddling distance.

But I digress. I neither wish to be in a stupor nor venture out into the wilderness that is my city with a trunk of clean clothing 'just in case' some allergens befall my sensitive senses.

So here I sit, in the safety of my enclosed writing sanctuary, grateful for windows that close and a place to hold two formidable stacks of hankies; Nary daring to open the door even to feline yowlings or family encouragers, content to be a hermit until the winter snows arrive, ensconced in an atmosphere gloriously pollen-free. 

At least until dinnertime. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Self(ish) Sufficiency

Self- Sufficiency. 

It's the ultimate goal for most of us. In fact, the world commends someone who is self-sufficient; this is a person that doesn't need to rely on anyone else to do what he has to get done- he does it all on his own.

I was taught from a young age to be self-sufficient. But my self-sufficiency was based all on me- not others. Doing it on my own meant that I was not only competent (which gave my confidence a boost), but the job would be done right.

Asking for help was a no-no. 

Sufficient means adequate or enough. Self-sufficient means I'm enough. I'm adequate. All I need is me to do what I need to do. But many, many times I find myself overwhelmed by life and drowning in chaos! 

Am I enough? Nope. not by a longshot. Anyone would consider a man a fool if he was drowning and didn't ask for help...right? So why do I pride myself on getting out of the chaos on my own? 

It's definitely selfish-sufficiency. 

I need friends. I need family. And most important, I need God. Only God can give me the strength to call out for help, and provide that help when I ask for it!

When I'm down, I talk to my cheerleaders. And they do the same with me. I am supported, and I in turn support others. I'm spiritually fed, and I spiritually feed others. And everyone is stronger for it.

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't ask for help. Sometimes I feel like I'm whining- and to be honest, sometimes I am. But I'm blessed enough to have friends willing to tell me when I'm getting to that point, and they in turn appreciate that I don't pull punches either. 

Truth can sting, but it's better to rid yourself of those splinters of trouble before they fester and infect your entire being.

As for my gentler, less blunt friends, they are my comforters when I feel like the world is full of thorns. God has blessed me with an entire garden of different blooms to go to when I need help.

But I have to be willing to walk into the garden!



On occasion I still suffer from selfish-efficiency. But God reminds me that I wasn't meant to do everything on my own. And sometimes He has me remind others as well!

It's good to find more than one friend to tell your troubles to and share your concerns and sorrows. I'm lucky enough- blessed enough- to have a small group I can confide in for the harder issues. Some are sounding boards for ideas (in fact, I might have to stop telling her ideas because we are both creatives and we give each other even more ideas! :) ), and some are great for those ups and downs when I enter a new stage of life.

One thing I've learned was to give as well as receive. That was the hardest lesson!

I had to remember to listen as well as speak. To learn as well as teach. To follow as well as lead. And for this very stubborn, hard-headed woman, God had His hands full!

He still does.

Don't be afraid to find your own blossoms in your garden of friends. You might even be surprised when you find them! And don't forget to also talk to your Best Friend Ever...God!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lights Out, Little Owl


Our son, my night owl, has flown the coop. As of Thursday, he's residing in college. 

We all were excited for our own reasons. My husband and I, because he's going to get a higher education, will be independent, and will learn to earn his daily bread for a lifetime. Our son, for getting out from the dubious parental thumbs of his parents and the tell-tale informative skills of his sister. His sister, because she will no longer have to put up with his teasing and his consumption of all her favorite snacks.
And for us three early birds, no more loud noises late at night, when our night owl leaves on every light- especially the one in the living room- and stomps about the house because he forgets everyone else is asleep.

We were all excited.

It wasn't easy getting him ready. The entire month was a tug-of-war on my nerves, because of shopping trips, packing (or so I thought was him packing) and other college roadblocks that are the very essence of joy for a first-time college parent. 

Once the road blocks were removed (or at least dealt with), all we had to do was take what he packed and put it in the van the night before, because, being the early birds most of us are, we have to leave at the crack of dark to do everything we'd planned. However, there was a problem.

Let's just say for the parent of an Aspie, his kind of packing wasn't our kind of packing.
His kind of packing was to put things in their own piles in his room and to go through every single thing, stacking it neatly in said pile. Then plan to throw everything in the van pell-mell at the last minute, sneaking in a few forbidden items while we were asleep.

We didn't find this out until the day before we were supposed to leave. 

He also has a gift to become scarce when chores are involved, so my husband, daughter and a family friend (who was helping because of my wonky knees) managed to get most of his important gear packed and into the van before bedtime. Whew! 
Of course my son helped some. And by some, I mean telling everyone what he wanted to take with him, which was almost everything. We parents knew better and managed to keep most of his valuables (and valued things like a plethora of desk toys) at home.

Oddly enough, our night owl was up with us at dawn, ready for the first leg of his lifes' journey.
This trip was an all day event because his college was a four hour drive one way, with side visits to make on the way there. And it was a perfect morning! All of the van windows opened as we all breathed in the fresh air of freedom.

College students greeted us with tubs to carry the new students' belongings to the dorms, and our son was stashed and settled in no time. Then it was off to our last dinner with him (at least for a while), and he was chomping at the bit for us to go. He didn't really want a huge farewell- there were too many things to see and people to meet. He is a very sociable Aspie. I taught him that. Maybe I taught him too well.

We got into the van soon after dinner and made our way home. I was excited for him, but a little sad as well. I expected him to be a bit more...loving. I expected more heartfelt hugs and instead received a brush-off. He was looking forward to flying out of the nest I had built.

No more yelling to get him to do chores.
No more trying to wake him up in the mornings and failing miserably.
No more calling for him, trying to find him while his earphones are on.
No more arguments over what he will and won't take.
No more stress, hoping he filled out the forms he needed.

I could breathe now. 

When we got home, we were all tired and ready for bed. Early birds don't fare well after a long day, and I was ready for a nice deep sleep. I wasn't worried about his safety or how he would do his first night- after all, he's a young man now. The first part of my job concerning him was done. Now I was entering a new phase of motherhood with my son.

We slogged up the steps with my husband turning off the lights as he went, including that light in the living room that never gets turned off- it's always on for my son, the night owl. It's left on all day as well, since the room is a bit dark. For years I had an issue with that light always being on, but now that wasn't going to be a problem anymore.

My husband turned out the light. 

That was when it hit me. My son wasn't home. He's trying out his wings in college.

And that was when the tears started.

Lights out, little owl. Your morning bird momma misses you. 


Monday, August 21, 2017

Old School Mother Love



I'm an old school mom.

Let me rephrase that. I'm a mom that is old school, not that I'm old and a school mom, though I feel old and my kids are still in school; but that's not my point.

Old school love is different that your average 'Huggy Bear, Cuddleumpkins' kind of love.

Old school love is willing to get hard core.

It's willing to let your babies fall out of the nest and let them figure out how to get back up. 

It yells when your kids just aren't self motivated and need some 'assistance' getting started.

It isn't afraid to tell the truth, even if the truth hurts a little for now.

It swats kids' upside the head when they get too snarky or disrespectful.

It might even toss a wayward kid out of the house for a time, hoping the culture shock will set them straight.

It cries in private, so the kids don't see how much they are tearing your heart into little bits of misery.

Having an old school heart can be a very heavy burden sometimes. It can also make a parent very hoarse.

But old school love is more than that.

It also helps your child when she's done her best and still can't do it.

It tells your kids how awesome they are- and will be- at the top of your lungs, if they just apply some effort into the game that is life.

It hugs your kids in the middle of a yelling match- even if they fight your embrace.

It calls all your friends and neighbors the second your child slams the door as he leaves home, just to make sure he'll be safe. It makes you worry all night until he returns, yet still manages to keep your turmoil a secret.

And it's not afraid to ugly cry in front of the kids if all else fails.

Old school love isn't easy. It isn't that soft, warm blanket that people love to sink into after a hard day. Old school love is more like a snug, secure jacket that keeps you warm enough, but allows you to do what you have to do to accomplish life. It's like Kevlar- tough, flexible, and durable, and can take the hits its' dealt. 

Old school love is tough love around the softest of hearts.

I'm a mom with an old school heart. My Kevlar is dented, even torn in places, but it's still holding firm. It will be there when they call at three a.m. asking for help, or when someone breaks my baby's heart. It will also be there for backup in case my child needs some encouragement, or Momma Muscle in case they can't handle the problem. Old school hearts are like that.

So spread your wings my young ones. and go forth knowing I will be there in a half of a heartbeat if you need me. In the meantime, I'll be here to swat you upside the head, yell when you need it, and put on my combat boots when you or someone who wronged you needs a good butt-kicking.

Because old school love isn't afraid to get in the ring to fight with you, or for you. Old school love just wants you to win.

Monday, August 14, 2017

College Edumacayshkun



My son is going to college. 

As a parent, I'm torn between "Oh, my sweet Baby is going out on his own!" and "Buh-bye All-Knowing-One- good luck in the real world!"

To some of you, that last statement might seem snarky, but there's good reason behind it. You see, according to our nineteen year-old son, my husband and I are morons. 

We had a huge discussion with him about grants vs, loans, what kind of dorm to pick, what he'll really need vs. what he wants, and other fascinating topics of disinterest, when he chimed in with the statement, "But Mom, you and Dad don't understand because you've never been to college."

Let me let you in on something, Seeker-Of-Expensive-Knowledge, neither have you.

So how is it that he thinks he knows more than we do? Just because we never went to college, doesn't mean we are unedumacated- it just means our grandchildren won't be incurring the debt of our non-existent student loans.

My mother's heart wants to find ways to make enough to pay his way no matter what, working myself to the bone to make sure he's fully funded. I want to send him to college with enough care packages that he will want for nothing, never be hungry or thirsty, have enough blankets to stay warm, and a fan to keep him cool. I want all the best tech at his disposal, so he can do what he needs to do to succeed.

But then my realist heart pipes in. How much as he done on his own so far? Ugh. Honestly, not as much as he could. And me 'following my mother's heart' would actually be detrimental to his growth into a productive human being. 
Why? 
Let me count the ways...as of right now:
He sleeps when he wants.
He eats when he wants.
He does chores when he feels like it, which mean he waits until we yell.
He hasn't earned any money because he doesn't work. Yet.

We trained him to be responsible. Really! This was a kid that at ten years of age, could do the laundry on his own. He even did it willingly! Now I can barely get him to clean himself, no less his own clothing.

Ick. 

He knows how to care for a home and keep things organized- he just doesn't do it. It's like trying to get an elephantine-sized sloth to run a marathon...it just ain't gonna happen, no matter how much prompting you do.

And after talking to the college staff, his is not the only case of All-Knowing-Do-Nothing Syndrome. In fact, colleges are loaded with peers like him, so he'll be in good company. At least for the first year. After that, I can see two things happening:

One, we parents will seem even more moronic than before, being mentally comparable to the amoebic gelatinous ooze of a fifth grade science project, because he can now claim a higher educational status.

Two, we parents will be genuinely revered and respected for the true Givers of Life Sustaining Food and Goods that we were, and hopefully will continue to be, because he ran out of snacks, money, and toilet paper. 

We also hope he'll think the second one without the addition of continual financial support, because he'll have a real job by then as a tutor and can pay his own bills.

Alas, for now, we have ten days left before the sloth goes off to start his new life. And ten days to go through his things, list what he needs, then go out and get the rest. 

It almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke- A sloth and an amoeba go to store for college supplies...

We've learned life through experience. He needs experience to get through life. Hopefully we can find a happy medium before his college season is over, and if not, the means to move before he finds us!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Distraction Traction



I love to use that little red laser to play with my cats. They come running when they hear the soft scrape as I take it from the shelf, looking expectantly to the floor for the red dot that sends them running about the house as they try to catch it.

It's just a light. It's isn't something they can catch. Try telling one cat that, no less three

Unfortunately, I have my little red light too. Several, actually. I think everyone has at least one, maybe more. Mine are Facebook, emails, and videos. Facebook friends need to be spoken to, emails need sorting and deleting, and videos? 

Well, they need to be watched.

The sad part is, even if I had no internet, I'd still find other red laser lights to distract me. Like the crafty stuff I never put away. Or those piles of paperwork that need sorting, tossing and filing. And oh yes- books and magazines that need reading.

Don't get me wrong, Books and magazines are awesome things! I love to read. But when the story or how-to book distracts me from my work, then it becomes a problem.

Like this week.

I was supposed to write. In fact, I was supposed to write a lot. I have an agent interested in my book ideas, but he wants three of them finished and three ready to be done. I have one finished. Did I work on the other two? Nope. Not a single, solitary word. But I did start this great book on how to build your author platform.
I also had some health issues, but they required me to remain fairly still. Helloooo- writer here! Staying still is my job. My fingers were the only things that needed to really be running at top speed. 

Instead I used them to go through emails. Yes it had to be done. It had to be done for a long time! But I was supposed to be writing those stories. There goes that little red light again!

And here I sit on a Monday. It's Blog Day. It's also time for me to write my column and create a few puzzles for Ruby magazine- not to mention the puzzle book I'm supposed to finish in the next few weeks.

I feel like I'm in Distraction Traction- so distracted I can't move because everything I need to do is piling up around me. That's like twenty little red lights going in all different directions- Yikes!

Do you ever feel like that? I'm going to have to knuckle-down and break free of my Tractions. 

I'll turn off the internet as soon as I'm done this post (um...okay, after I post and share it, I swear!) I'll put the book in my purse so I don't see it. I'll crack open those story files and work on them until my brain is tired, then I'll work on the puzzle book (which is not actual writing, but more like digital crafting and a nice change of pace for my brain.) 

I will have at least one draft of one story finished and at least two others partially written- or have three story premises/outlines finished. And if I get done early, I'll continue writing instead of distracting myself. Maybe if I can do a little writing then do some puzzles I can entertain my brain long enough to get some projects finished!

Have you ever gotten stuck in Distraction Traction? I'd love to hear your stories of how you won free and pounced on those pesky projects!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Conference Capers




Last week I attended the last (but not least!) Philly Christian Writer's conference. I was both an attendee and faculty, which I can tell you on these gimpy knees of mine, was a challenge!

Not only was I trying to sell my own work, I was helping others publish theirs in Ruby for Women Magazine. I'm the Assistant Editor, so I represented a lot of possibilities for new writers.

There was a lot of good stuff this year. One lady was so happy I was an 'Assistant' Editor, because I didn't seem so scary! I know that was meant as a compliment, so I took it as such. Full-blown editors can be scary to someone new to the pond.

My friend Christian Barbie was there (the post about her is here), and she also was faculty; she was a teacher as well as helping people find their place in the writing world. I wanted to talk with her at length but people kept coming up to me and wanting to talk.

We looked at each other after the fourth interruption and she said 'Wow- you're really popular today!" I especially was amazed, since I didn't do anything to gain notoriety- but someone must have read or said something about me, because people I didn't even know were approaching me like I was their long, lost sister. It was awesome. If this was a taste of popularity, I can see why someone could get carried away by it!

Part of it was because my husband and daughter provided the snacks for the faculty. My daughter baked cookies and my husband baked cakes and set out all kinds of goodies healthy and not-so healthy to keep our faculty from passing out from exhaustion. 

My daughter wasn't there this time, due to a snafu in her schedule, and I had a lot of people wondering where she was. We brought her the last day of the conference and she was delighted by all the people who wanted to talk to her.

My darling husband also played chauffeur to those that needed rides to and from the airport and train station, as well as the near cross-country trek across the quad to and from the cafeteria. Only I was allowed to tip him with kisses, but he took a few hugs on the side as well.

The only downer was I'd brought a lot of my self-published (now called indie-published) books to sell, and was encouraged to bring my handmade tote bags (some high-end quilted totes and some lower priced giant grocery totes) as well. I sold one grocery tote and no books. Now I have a box of books at home with nowhere to go...yet.

But I have ideas. You know I'll always have ideas!

Between classes, appointments, and moving to and from the cafeteria hall lines for meals, I was physically and mentally exhausted. But it was a good exhaustion. I had appointments with two agents, and though one wasn't interested, but the other was. There was a catch- he wanted six books; three ready-to-print, and three almost ready and waiting in the wings. Only when I had those should I approach him again.

Six? It took me a year to polish the one I had! How was I going to...

Wait. I wrote that part-time. If I wrote full-time, I bet I could do a lot more. Looks like another lifestyle change is approaching! And let's not forget I have a book store interested in the puzzle book I'm writing- could this be the big turning point in my writing life? I'm so excited!

Lots to do. Lots to think about. and lots of new writers for Ruby for Women magazine. God is good! 

This week has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Most of it really, really awesome!

As for this last big conference, the lady running the show decided that after thirty-four years (and a lot of work!) it would be a good thing to break a huge, costly conference into smaller, more reasonably priced conferences. There would be more of them, just smaller, cheaper, and more defined concerning genre. And that means she will reach a lot more Christian writers! Change is also good!

I'm looking forward to the changes coming this next year- I can't wait to see what happens and how God is going to move!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Coming Apart at the 'Seems'


Yes, we've all done it. We've all watched someone going about their day, and we come to our own conclusions. Many times those conclusions are wrong.

Sometimes they are really wrong.

We see the well-dressed neighbor and her well-behaved children piling into their brand-new vehicle, and we imagine their perfect life as they drive off; we look at our own rugrats (who are painting the cat purple and running around like rampant lion cubs) and gaze into the hallway mirror wondering how that tired-looking woman in the reflection lost control.

Or the guy who seems to have everything- a pretty wife, great kids, and he always seems to be working in the backyard or on the house with the latest and greatest tools and equipment, complete with a shiny new van.

We envy our neighbor sometimes. But we only see the outside of their lives, not what's actually going on. It seems as if all is well, but is it really?

Then we find out later on that the neighbor that was so well-dressed was taking her children to the courthouse to try to gain custody from a divorce gone bad. Looking good is the only thing she can do to cope, and she feels like there's no one else to talk to.
The guy that seems to have everything had his truck totalled when he lent it to a friend, lost his job as a result of the accident, and is using a rental van to get around, borrowing his friends tools to do odd jobs and working on the house in case they have to sell because he can't find work. He pours his frustrations into fixing what he can, because life is getting out of control.

People who 'seem' to have it all together, usually don't. Take a look at your life. Parts of it are probably a mess right now. Yet someone is looking at us and assuming all is well! I've had people assume things about me that are way off base; But those assumptions dissipate once they talk to me- and then we have a good laugh!

She's so creative! I bet her house is like a museum of art! Only if you consider dust bunnies and cat hair an art-form.

She's published so many books! I could never talk to her about writing- she's out of my league. All writers started our as new writers. And this writer loves to talk shop! 

Her kids are so polite and her husband is so nice! They probably never have family issues. You'd be wrong there on so many levels. Polite kids take a ton of work, and even then they aren't always at their best- just like the rest of us! As for my husband- he is nice, but we still argue on occasion!

She has the best marriage/kids/life/whatever! We've had our trials, issues and hardships. Just because we don't show them doesn't mean they don't exist. And when someone talks with us and those 'seems' are mended, that's when friendships are born!

Talk to your neighbors and church members, and engage in your community. Get involved with others and repair those ripped 'seems' with stitches of friendship! You never know how many lives you touch just by talking to someone- help them (and you!) from coming apart at the 'seems'!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Forgiveness 101



Forgiveness...it's such an easy thing to do, right? Just say you forgive someone for something, then forget about it. It's so simple!

Or is it?

I had to forgive someone. Yet I had to be forgiven by this someone as well. To be honest, that rankled me. I'd done my best and messed up- but it wasn't on purpose! Why should I take any of the blame and be treated like that?

But there's the rub- I had to see things from the other person's perspective. Once I did that, I could see how my actions could be seen as something other than I intended. 

The Bible talks about how to forgive and be forgiven. I needed to go to that person and have a face-to-face talk (if possible- it's hard to do if your offender lives far away). In my case this was possible, so I called to plan a meeting. 

The person I wanted to speak to brushed me off. Twice. I almost took this as a sign. Maybe I didn't need to get forgiveness from this person because I had given it a decent try- I was vindicated! 
But no, God had other plans and kept poking me in the heart about it for the next year.

Yes, you read that right. A year. God is good, but He's also as persistent as a kid at Christmas. He kept poking me, asking "You going to talk to her now? How about now? Now?" Finally I'd decided to stop the phone tag and talk to this person face to face. I passed by their house, called and asked if they were home. They were. I told them I was coming to the door and to please let me in so we could discuss things. I slowly released my pent-up breath as I walked into one of the hardest talks I've had to do in ages.

It wasn't easy. This person was resistant. The TV was blaring, and they conceded to just turn it down instead of off. They wouldn't look me in the eyes. I could feel their invisible wall trying to push me away. A chainsaw wouldn't have cut the tension I'd felt in that room. The silence was truly deafening, and I almost walked out. But I had to do this. I needed forgiveness just as much as I needed to forgive this person.

The discussion didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but there were some bridges mended. All the while this person never even looked my way. One thing that was said stuck with me; "I can forgive you, but I'll never forget." 

I always thought the term 'Forgive and Forget' was in the Bible- after all, it sounds like it should be in there. But forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting- forgiveness is about holding no anger and resentment towards someone for something that happened between the two of you. 
It took me years to forgive my mother for some of the things she'd done; but once I truly forgave, I didn't forget- I just remembered without the anger and resentment that usually came with those memories. Instead there was an understanding- an empathy for her concerning what she was thinking and feeling at the time. My mother and I had made peace with each other before she passed away.

This was a bit different. I could still feel the anger from this person. My anger, however, was spent. I left with a mixed bag of emotions. The little stone of resentment in my heart was gone, but I was sad because this person was still holding anger towards me- and there was nothing else I could do to alleviate it. 

I've learned much about forgiveness these past few years. You forgive, and do your best to be forgiven. You have no control over how (or if!) someone forgives you, but if you do your best to make amends- that is all God asks of you. It's up to the other person to let go of their anger- not you.

Forgiveness is freeing. I never realized until I'd forgiven my mother just how much weight anger and resentment presses on your heart. But oh- when you let it go! Your entire spirit lifts, and the world is seen through more gracious and appreciative eyes.

I wanted to share this with you today, in case you have someone that needs to be forgiven, and you just can't. I'm going to tell you that you can- ask God for the strength not to falter or curl up in a ball of misery because of what happened. 
You can get rid of that unseen weight on your heart. Maybe you'll fight it for a year (or years) like I did. I'm quite stubborn! But in the end, forgiveness is what lifted my depressed heart and brightened my spirit so I could see God's grace all around me. 
And I want you, my Dear Readers, to feel that too!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Big Gulp of God!



My cup is full of a lot of things.

Ideas. 
Frustrations.
Plans.
Complaints.
Hugs.
Laughter.

Unfortunately, when my cup is full of these things, there isn't much room for God. In fact, God should be filling my entire cup so there isn't room for much else- except the good stuff He wants in the cup.

But noooooo, I have to go fill it up with the other stuff first! When I have a full cup of gunk, I have a hard time trying to empty it. Letting go of everything and letting the contents spill to the floor just isn't my nature. Instead I savor that cup of glop and hold it close to my heart.

Maybe you do too?

Some of the things in my cup are good. Ideas. Hugs. Laughter. Even plans are good for the most part as long as God has His say in them. But the other things- the negative things- need to be spilled into the dirt where fertilizer belongs. 

I just have to let my cup of glop go

The best part is, when I empty my cup, God gives me a bigger cup for Him to fill. In fact, I get to help fill other peoples' cups because God doesn't just fill my cup, He overfills it! And we all know when God decides to do something, He goes big.

It's like going to the store for a small soda, and the guy at the counter takes your tiny soda and gives you a giant Big Gulp of the best soda you've ever tasted!

Oh yeah- Gettin' me a Big Gulp of God!

It's hard to let go. Trust me- I get it. I struggle with my cup every day. But the more I spill out, the more God fills my cup with the good stuff- and life starts tasting better and better each day.



Let God be your Ultimate Soda Guy. Let Him trade your small cup of glop and give you His Big Gulp, overflowing with enough blessings you can share. Take a sip of what He has to offer- you won't regret it!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mind Matters




Do what God wants. A simple concept, but hard as heck to execute.

I've heard these phrases many times:
Have faith.
Believe in what you're doing.
Believe in what God is telling you to do.

It should be so easy to just throw caution to the wind and go for it. But fear always holds me back. Why am I so afraid to go for the gusto and let God do what He will? After all, He's the end-all, be-all of beings...right? He can do anything. We're supposed to have a child-like faith. Kids have no fear when they try something for the first time- They have no idea what an amazing gift that is!

We learn to fear. We learn to hold back. We learn to be cautious and not throw our cares to the wind and go for it. Because after the first failure, it's just too darn scary!

That's where courage starts. It uses fear to its advantage. Courage is fear that put on its boxing gloves. Oh, we still have fear, but it's held in check by our will to change. We have to want to change enough to beat the fear and continue the fight for what God wants for us.

The Mind really does matter!

A positive mind-set is the springboard that launches us in the right direction. A negative mind-set is more like walking through a field of deep mud. You might be headed to the same destination, but the latter will take a lot more struggle and time.

A personal mantra helps. Tell yourself that you will (action) _(goal)_ by _(time)_. Tell yourself this several times a day, every day. Keep focused. stay on track. Don't let setbacks stop you long term. I've let setbacks stop me, so I know- I've lived it- for far too long. I'm tired of mucking about in the mud, and I'm ready to try out that springboard.

Want to come with me? I'll start!

I will finish writing one book by the end of September.
I will save enough each week to pay an artist for cover work for one book before October.
I will publish a written work within a year.

Picking smaller goals is good, but also have a longer goal as well. Running a few small races helps prepare you for the marathons!

What will your mantras be?