Sunday, February 7, 2016

My heart overlflows with love

It has been a crazy week, family birthday, tummy ache, babysitting. But I am back! And I have some information for writers. This is a great resource. I hope you can find something of interest.

Liam makes me laugh out loud, and I do the same to him. We are a pair, the old one and the young one.

We celebrated Nicholas' 14th birthday yesterday. What a kid. He is such a neat person, excellent student, caring individual, and still not too big for Nana's backrub. Things are a little different now with this 5 feet 8 inch tall young man. "Rub my arm?" led right into, "Hey, Nana, look at my muscles. I can press 200 plus pounds. I lift weights."

He watched me playing with Liam, who was watching me snuggling 8 year old Nicole. Liam toddled his jealous little self right over, climbed on my lap and grabbed me by the cheeks. I shook my head back and forth, lolling my tongue and blowing raspberries, and he cackled so hard every time.

I told Nicole she was my favorite girl and always would be. She still just wants to cuddle. And she was so good with Liam. He was shocked when he walked into her PINK room and saw all the dolls. He went right for a BALL, and a Barbie car.

Nicolas watched me play with Liam who flipped himself upside down (head to floor) off my lap, over and over again and laughed out loud every time.

Nick asked, "Nana, did you that stuff with me?"

"Of course, I did buddy." So I had to share his "baby" stories with him.

He was tearing around the gymnasium at school Friday and hit a metal volleyball pole, ending up with a gash that required 8 stitches. Boys are proud of their battle wounds.

He shared his light sabre with Liam, whose pawpa Dave was showing him how to operate it. This baby was the center of attention. You think?

Retirement is wonderful, and spending time with family is what rocks my world right now. It is such a blessing to see the different ages and stages of each of our grandchildren. These are only three of our wonderful 10.

How about you? Did you do anything this weekend?


Monday, February 1, 2016

Would you rather have a barker or a meower?

Are you a dog person or a cat person? Which do you think is more playful, a cat or a dog?
This is Howie when he was eight weeks old.
This is Howie four years later. He and his boy, grandson Kyle, are best buds.
They are both sitting. When they stand up, they are both over 6 feet tall. They wrestle, and Howie puts his paws on Kyle's shoulders when he stands up. They hug and nuzzle. It is too cute.
This is our Kitty No-No who loves his bag more than any of his toys, and he has many toys. 
He hides in his bag, peeks out at us as though we can't see him. He bites it, rips it, and when he gets one side open, he runs through the house with it on his back like a turtle shell, sliding on the carpet, rolling like a silly boy. Sometimes the bottom of the bag ends up on top, the bag wide open, and he is sitting there ON the bag completely exposed. The expression on his face is total confusion. He can't figure out why he isn't IN the bag. We laugh so hard at his antics. He has such a time when he is his inside his bag. I call him and say, "Where ARE you?" He peeks his head out and looks to see me. Then darts back in.
As you can see, I am not the only one who loves this silly kitty. He thinks Bill is alpha cat. Kitty  rolls over and lies on his back and allows Bill to pet his stomach!
However, when the cat is sitting in the hall and Bill walks by, he reaches out and strikes him (no claws) and wants to be chased. I keep telling my honey that having an animal makes a person live longer. Bill says, "That's only true if your cat doesn't try to trip you as you're going down the basement steps." This silly cat has to be wherever we are.

We all have busy and somewhat stressful lives, but all work and no know the adage. Take some time today to be playful. Pause, smile, relax, do something that gives you great pleasure. Don't eat the entire bag of cookies; nibble ONE rather than gobble.

Share something that makes you smile, chuckle or belly laugh. Then go treat yourself.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My chin can do WHAT?!

When I called for my routine mammy whammy last week, I asked for the first appointment of the day, thinking maybe 8:00 a.m. The receptionist said, "Okay, we'll see you at 7:10 a.m. on Monday."
Well I am an early riser, so no problem. Except the problem was at 4:00 a.m. Kitty No-No was gagging in the hall way. I made a mad dash to catch him before he hurled a fur ball up on the carpet. I tossed him onto the kitchen tile floor. He didn't hawk up anything. He made his way to his dish and proceeded to ask for food. Easier to give him kibble than to quibble.

At 6:00 a.m. hubby saw me snoozing on the couch. I said, "Been up since 4. Wake me at 6:30."
At 6:45, I woke myself, went into the study and asked him WHEN he was going to wake me up. He replied, "I have four more minutes, see?"

I see the computer says 1/26.

"Yeah, 26! so I have 4 more minutes."
I shook my head and made a mad dash to meet my mammy whammer.

The receptionist tried to run my insurance card, hemmed and hawed, mumbled to herself, then looked at me and said, "Hmmm, no you weren't born..." Her voice trailed as she scrolled.
I wasn't BORN?!

She finally found my correct birth date, entered it, and my insurance was approved. She asked, "So are you still employed at ...?"
"No, no longer working."


"Then you're still working."
Sometimes it's best to smile and nod.

Then it was time for the compression. I looked up at the ceiling as the technician was positioning me and the girls. She said, "You don't have to look up like that."
"It's okay, I said, "it's a neck exercise, gets rid of double chin."

"Yeah, but when you stretch your neck that taut, it pulls the breast tissue up and we may miss something high on your chest. Look at the wall and relax."

If the next time you see me stargazing, or cloud naming, or counting ceiling tiles, just remember my chin is working overtime, doing what my bra straps can no longer do.
Ladies, have you had your mammogram?

Lower your chin now, and shake your head yes or no.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Write to your reflection

What do you see when you look at your reflection? Do you point out flaws and tell yourself that you can't...? Well, I am here to tell you, if I can, YOU CAN! You have to believe in yourself.

You have a personal story to tell. Don't shrink away. Uncover those dusty stories in your drawers, in a computer file, or in your mind. It is difficult, and I can attest; revealing too much feels like hitting the beach in a bikini when you want to be wrapped in the towel, or in my case the beach blanket.

I felt short of breath when I even imagined telling my stories, much less sharing them. Uncomfortable topics are relatable because we all have skeletons in our closets. I've sold stories to The Salvation Army War Cry Magazine (on abuse), Releasing Times Magazine (family mental illness), and Chicken Soup for the Soul (divorce). I've also sold many upbeat and positive essays.

Don't wish to write for publication? Write to your reflection. Or address your younger self. Reach forward, into your future hopes and dreams, or back into your past where your stories reside.

In order to improve your craft you have to get messy. You will be surprised at what happens when you mess around with sentence structure, eliminate passive verbs, rearrange paragraphs. Too often we provide surface information, hide facts, hesitate to share the messiness of our lives. In delving deep we face our fears and learn our truths.
Try it, write a sentence for your eyes only. Then add details until you have a paragraph. Keep going until you develop a story rich in sensory details and strong emotions. Almost all of us have dealt with loss. Perhaps a job, loved one, an object. Don't be afraid to get messy. Truth is buried in the mess.
 Read your story aloud.
Now, I am going to share something with you.
 Put your cursor over this link to find many freelance publishing opportunities.
I am always willing to help a fellow writer, so if you need an idea, or help getting started on a sensitive topic, email me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Command Central and you are at the controls

I find my motivation in the month of January. I come out of hibernation. I hang a plaque on our front door: Let it snow....someplace else.

I know that in two weeks I will be hanging my heart shaped  grapevine wreath on the front door and spring WILL arrive.

 January cold leads me to expound on anything and everything. I want to write. I have to write.  I was looking at my submission calendars for the past ten years, and can't believe how prolific I am in January. My January submissions vary from 12 to 33. Does that mean I have been published that many times? No, of course not. Do I get discouraged and overwhelmed? You bet. But I do not allow negative thoughts to stop me. When I taught preschoolers (and their parents) I demonstrated how to get better results by using positive speech patterns. These tips apply to general life.

 Retrain your brain. It believes the messages you send it.

If your messages sound negative like this:

No, I can't write today because...

There won't be writing time this afternoon.

I'm so busy I'll never be able to find time to write.

I'm stumped and might as well stop.

I am not getting anywhere with this story.

I don't wake up early for ANY reason, especially not to fit in writing time.

I was wrong about being a writer. I didn't think I could swing this writing stuff.

No, I'm not a real published writer.

Change your don'ts to dos:

Yes, I would like to write today but I have to___, so I will squeeze in five minutes to jot a thought.

Yes, I am so busy today, but I will take a few minutes to write, even if I have to lock myself in the bathroom.

Yes, I'm busy but sometime today I am going to write a sentence or two.

Yes, I feel like quitting, but I will always try to fit in some writing time.

Yes, it seems like I am stumped, but I'm convinced I will figure it out.

I do like to sleep in, but I'm going to get up fifteen minutes early and journal a positive message.

I'm right, writing is difficult, but I do think I can be a writer if I invest in myself and reward myself with five minutes of writing time today.

Yes, I am a writer, so today I am going to write something, instead of talking about writing.
Tell me something you have written this month, blog post, personal letter? It's a beginning.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Cheap show or Cineplex, what's your style?

In the middle of the day we decided to go to the $3.00 theater. We selected the movie, Love the Coopers, which started out really slowly but ended up having a good message. It was narrated, and we didn't care too much for that, but overall it was a pretty good Christmas movie about realistic family life. Drama, humor, romance, nostalgia. Not bad for three bucks.
The ticket booth was vacant. We stepped inside and stepped onto bare cement floor; the carpeting had been ripped up and the glue stains were evident. Bill asked the girl behind the candy counter selling tickets and junk food, "Is the show doing okay in this economy?"

She smiled and nodded. All of us avoided addressing the ripped up carpet. Who knows? Maybe they are remodeling instead of taking their last gasp. They have full houses on weekends.
We walked into our theater and noticed it was completely empty. Several of the seats were wrapped in trash bags, an indication that the ceiling was leaking after that 11 inch rain we received a couple weeks ago. The candy case was filled with dollar store candy, but the price was inflated three times.

Hubby and I reminisced about movie houses in our day when fifty cents went a long way: ticket, popcorn, a large candy bar, and a soda.
We used to go to the show twice a week in the '60s. Cartoons aired before the previews, and there were always two feature films.

I fell in love with Elvis and Frankie Avalon at the Gravois Show. I loved their singing more than their poor acting. I was jealous, not of Priscilla, but Ann Margret.
I adored the classic, Dr. Zhivago and experienced such a  range of emotions, when I came home I recaptured so many scenes in my school notebook.

Paul Newman with his baby blues, was the biggest hunk around, unless Clint Eastwood (back then) tripped your trigger. One day when my friend and I were fifteen we wanted to go see The Hustler starring Paul Newman. We were turned away because we were not of age. We considered asking a strange woman to vouch for us, but we chickened out.
I  hated chariot races and Roman Empire movies, even walked out of those barbaric flicks. Westerns were very popular during the '50s and '60s, but I loved comedies most.

I couldn't believe it when the actors in West Side Story started singing and dancing! That was my introduction to musicals, which I could take or leave back then.
I saw Grease at the movies with my kids. Nowadays there's grease on the floors and stains on  the old spring-loaded seats which flip up and notify everyone you need a potty break. If we sit too long our knees aches and we have to walk the stiffness out before we can manage the stairs.

Times have sure changed. At least we have the cheap show nearby. Most young people think nothing of spending up to 12 dollars for a movie ticket at the multiplex cinemas and at least that much for treats.
We're happy with the cheap show. have you seen any movies lately at the theater?  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Really! It is not X-rated

I have kept a writer's journal for almost 20 years in which I briefly detail my ups and downs, acceptances and rejections. I have never let a rejection stop me for very long. I view rejections as rocks, not boulders. If you consider every "huh-uh" or "no thanks"  a roadblock, you have choices: climb that sucker, find a way around it, or allow it to stop you in your tracks.

One step at a time, whether you're climbing a mountain or detouring a boulder. Never give up. Tune out your inner critic and know that rejection is usually less about you and your writing than it is about editorial needs at the moment.

I have written for inspirational and religious markets, nostalgic, educational and literary publications... a variety to be sure. I never thought I'd write, much less place a risqué poem.

I didn't even like the publication's name. In fact, a blog friend told me "the rat's ass editor was tinkering with my words." In my reply I referred to him as "the rat's ass"' unaware that was the name of the literary magazine seeking women's sensual/ sexual poetry.

This poem came about by mistake. Another writer and I accepted a prompt to write about the ride we've all taken. That night as I was going to sleep, I was watching a Seinfeld episode. Kramer saw a gal with very long fingernails and begged her, "One lap around my back? Just one lap?"

The poem wrote itself as I mapped with "long fingernails" an imaginary lover's body. I submitted it Tuesday morning and had an acceptance that afternoon. After perusing the site, I realize there are some very influential poets being published by Rat's Ass Review. Click on Love and Ensuing Madness.

My poem, Mapping Ecstacy, should be on line this weekend in the Love and Ensuing Madness section. Not autobiographical, folks. If you don't want to wait, let  me know, and I will email it to you.

Talk about stretching my writing muscles. Would you be willing to step this far out of your comfort zone? Be truthful.