Archive for May, 2013

Honey Bear and her kitty best friend curling up with me on the couch

Honey Bear and her kitty best friend curling up with me on the couch

When I was a child my parents made sure that I knew how to behave. They taught me to be honest, hard working, fair, and loving. They also taught me the importance of being respectful to others, especially to my elders. If an adult came into the room and there wasn’t anywhere for him or her to sit, I was instructed to give up my seat. If I had a guest spend the night, I was supposed to offer them my bed, while I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor.

It was imperative for me to say please, thank you, your welcome, excuse me, bless you, and I’m sorry immediately when it was appropriate. I was never permitted to be rude to anyone. I was taught to always treat others how I would want to be treated. And most of all, I wasn’t allowed to talk back to or criticize my elders. If I broke any of these rules, my parents would spank me and ground me. In my parents’ eyes, respect should always be a top priority.

I suppose that is why I was shocked today when a kid (I’d estimate as about 12) came to my door to tell me my dog was loose. Apparently, when my mom came to visit and my kids answered the door my almost 8-year-old sheltie/cocker spaniel mix decided she wanted to sunbath on my front walk. I wasn’t aware that my dog had sneaked outside, so it was nice to have someone let me know she was loose. However, that boy’s attitude had a lot to be desired.

As soon as I opened the door, he started lecturing me about my duties and obligations as a dog owner. He proceeded to point out that it was against the law to not properly tie a dog out and that I was risking my dog running away or worse, getting hit by a car. When I tried to explain to him that my dog normally stays on my property and that this had been an accident (of less than 5 minutes, mind you!) he still didn’t relent. He continued lecturing me that I needed someone to look out for my dog, and he suggested that he was the person to that.

In utter shock, I thanked him for his concern but told him his further assistance wasn’t necessary. I quickly got my dog back in the house and closed the door. The kid had been yelling at me so loudly that my mother even asked me what the commotion had been about–and she had been on the other side of my home!

This whole incident is unsettling to me. Where is the respect anymore? This kid did the right thing by knocking on my door. But I have to wonder if he did it simply to try putting me in my place. If I had ever done anything remotely like this at his age, my parents would have killed me! They simply would NOT have tolerated it. I am certain of it.

 

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My poor poetry journal!

My poor poetry journal!

In my mind, a writer’s biggest fear is probably losing his or her life’s work. It would be a nightmare to write one’s heart out for years and years only to have it all lost forever. I know that occasionally, I have nightmares about my writing getting ruined or lost somehow. Sometimes, I dream I’m looking through my notebooks or poetry journals and every word vanishes before my eyes. Other times, I dream that a great disaster destroys my work or a hateful person decides to steal all my writing. Ultimately, regardless of how my writing is lost in my dreams, I’m always left with the same hollow and sickening feeling when I wake up from my nightmare!

Unfortunately, I have had some real life experience with the gut-wrenching loss of my writing, as well. I started writing poetry and short stories when I was a little girl. However, except for 3 poems and 1 short story, all my writing prior to 1998 is gone. I used to keep all my poems, stories, and ideas in shoe boxes for safe keeping. But somehow they vanished! Perhaps my mom accidentally threw it all away when she was cleaning my room. Or maybe my writing was in one of the boxes that someone stole off of our front porch during a move. Or something else entirely could have happened. I will never know.

What I do know, though, is I still mourn the loss of my early writing to this day. All that I have ever written is a part of me–a part which can never be replaced. I often wonder what great things I created and have long forgotten about. And I miss not having the chance to read more of my childhood work now that I am an adult. All my past poems and stories are a portal into my past. They are a chance to see myself again as a little girl and to understand myself a little better.

You would think that I would be much more careful now with these nightmares and my past loss. However, I almost lost an entire poetry journal because a glass of water was accidentally knocked onto it. I was using a hairdryer at 2:00 am a couple months ago, frantically trying to save my precious poems. I promised myself that night that I would never make that mistake again! I promised myself that I would backup my work in multiple places to ensure that my writing is preserved and protected. But did I follow through on that promise? No! My writing still goes unprotected.

Instead of risking more loss, though, I have set time aside this week for finally backing up my writing. No more procrastinating. No more endangering my precious creations. And no more blindly going from day to day thinking nothing is going to happen again. My creations are one of my most valuable possessions, and it’s time to start treating them that way!

Sudden Storm

I love my family. They mean the world to me. However, sometimes I don’t understand them. I try my best to understand their beliefs and perspectives. I listen to their reasoning. I carefully consider their arguments. But occasionally, I simply can’t understand them. I can’t wrap my head around their logic, so it doesn’t make sense in my mind. In the end, I’m left shaking my head in bewilderment and loving them through it all.

One topic that some of my relatives and I don’t agree on is dreams. These relatives can be pretty superstitious, and they are full of information about the omens in life and dreams. As a little girl, they inadvertently had me convinced that if I died in one of my dreams, I’d die in the real world, too. I overheard them talking about this idea one day, and I was terrified!

Imagine my surprise the first time I died in a dream and I woke up unscathed. At first, I thought that perhaps I had been lucky and that I could still die if it happened again. Well, I am here to testify that I have died a thousand deaths and I’m still breathing. It’s a glorious feeling!

These death dreams aren’t fun. They freak me out. They startle me awake in the middle of the night or too early in the morning. And they have caused a few sleepless nights because I was too unnerved to fall asleep again so soon. Still, I’ve learned to live with them and now even figured out how to use them to my advantage.

You may be wondering how nightmares could come in handy. They are fertile ground for story ideas, of course! The intensity, the raw emotion, the suspense, and the vividness–they are all perfect for story writing. So, in a sense, I die a little more each night, so I can breathe life into my characters. For a short time, I live through their experiences, feel the turmoil inside of them, and then face life’s greatest unknown right there with them. I get to know them intimately, and I never forget them as I immortalize them in a story. I have to say that this almost makes me wish for more nightmares…almost!

Questions When

Why is it that when I tell someone that I am a freelance writer they always seem so skeptical and ask me a million questions?  They act as though working from home and writing my fingers off is just a hobby.  They always say, “Oh, that’s nice!  But when will you get a real job?”

Well, um, excuse me, but I am a professional writer, thank you!  I work 42 to 56 hours a week on my writing, and I do get paid (no matter how low that might be).  I see it as my life’s work and calling.  I take it seriously and never give up.  I plan, set goals, and dream of where I’d like to go with my writing.  I study, practice, and read, always searching to hone my craft.  I eat, sleep, and breathe writing (pardon the cliché).  So, what part of I’m a freelance writer don’t you understand?

No, I haven’t finished a novel yet, but I have about a dozen in the making.  No, chances are you probably have not read any of my articles or poetry.  But yes, I was one of ten winners of a state poetry contest in 11th grade, so I AM a published poet.  I’ve been writing since I was a little girl, and I can’t help but write.  It comes naturally, and I enjoy it—and yes, you aren’t required to hate your work before it is finally considered a job!

Simply because you are paid a lot more than I am, it doesn’t mean my job isn’t valid.  Who knows?  If I’m lucky, I might bring a paycheck home some day that will make yours seem puny.  Nevertheless, I’m not dedicated to my work only for the money.  An enormous paycheck would be wonderful, but writing has some many others rewards.  I’m in it for the enjoyment, the opportunity to help others, and my love of good stories.  I choose to be a freelance writer because I love being my own boss and it gives me the flexibility I need to work around my chronic illness.  But most of all, I embrace my passion because it makes me happy and feel complete.

Does the average person have that much love, appreciation, and determination for their job?  I doubt it!  Try to prove me wrong.  Try to show me again how my freelance writing is merely a hobby.  I dare you!

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It is amazing how much we can change, while still being the same person. A long, long time ago–ok, more like 10 years ago–I was convinced that motherhood was not for me. I strongly believed that there was no way I’d ever become a mother. My childhood had been nowhere near normal. I didn’t have a very close relationship with my parents. So, I was convinced that I would be the world’s worst mother. I have always love children, but what did I know about properly raising kids? Ultimately, I couldn’t justify putting any child through that uncertainty.

Now those days seem like just a distant memory–almost like it was a lifetime ago. This Sunday will be my 8th Mother’s Day, and I’ll be eating up my two children’s attention and affection. They are now old enough to understand what Mother’s Day is, and they get thoroughly excited every time it comes around again. I’ve been getting showered with extra drawings, hugs, kisses, and I-love-you’s all week. It’s great to be a mom!

I know I’ll never be a perfect mother. I make mistakes and always will. But judging from my kids’ infectious laughter, frequent smiles, and affection even towards each other (at least most of the time), I must be doing something right. According to my 5-year-old daughter, I am “the bestest Mommy ever” and she is so thankful that I take such good care of her and her brother. Who knew I had it in me?

I can’t imagine my life without my children. They are such an enormous part of who I am today that I can’t fathom being me without them. I look back and realize that I was a frightened, scarred, and insecure girl 10 years ago. I had the sense to know that motherhood isn’t easy and shouldn’t be approached lightly. However, I failed to see all that I learned from my childhood and less-than-perfect relationship with my parents. All that happened in the past helped prepare me for the mother I am today because I was so determined not to repeat my own parents’ mistakes. I’m so relieved that I finally gave motherhood a chance, for it has changed my life forever!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers out there! If you are a mother, grandmother, or other special lady, I hope you have a relaxing day full of love and laughter. And for everyone else, don’t forget to spoil the women in your lives. You know your life wouldn’t be the same without them.