Sunday, June 17, 2018

Break a leg

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Let me tell you how I got these bruises on my left upper arm, forehead, ankle.

Bill has a large comfy recliner which backs up to our front window. There is a four foot tall wooden  shelf  with five shelves and lots of ceramic frames which display photos of grand kids. It is against the wall to the left of his chair (as I am standing facing it.)

I saw a throw pillow on the floor behind Bill's chair. I reached for it, lost my balance, grabbed onto the upper part of his recliner and the dang thing RECLINED which sent me reeling into the shelf. The ceramic frames crashed like dominoes as I tried to upright myself.

"What have you been up to?" I heard Bill say.

"What does it look like? I busted my head and my arm, and I'm stuck. Why don't you help me here?"

"How long has it been?" he asked.

"How long?! Who cares? Just give me a hand!"

Then, the door opened and in walked Bill who found me crumpled in a heap. I had been interacting with a damned soap opera actor.

So much for my acting debut. I didn't even have an audience when I nearly "broke a leg."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Touched by an angel

Winter slammed into the Midwest in December 2010. Snow-covered, icy roads did not stop Donna from her duties as a foster mom.

As a single mother, Donna was always extremely responsible. She reached out to help others: family, friends and strangers. With her engaging personality, gravelly laugh, and lively chatter, she left a great first impression: BUBBLY. 
Someone was goofing around with her in this photo, thus the arm around her neck. This is how I remember Donna,

With incredible determination, she not only provided for her baby, who required frequent surgeries for a birth defect, Donna worked harder than two women. In addition, she cared for her own challenged mother. DYNAMIC! Donna was a super charged woman when we were young moms. When her daughter grew up and married, Donna filled the void with work and selflessly assisted other mother's daughters.  She became a foster mother.

On December 17, 2010 Donna was not going to allow lousy weather to stop her from transporting one of her foster daughters. She was headed back home for her other foster daughter's birthday celebration. Her tires hit a patch of cinders, meant to enhance traction. Instead she lost control of her car; it careened backwards, down a hill and bounced to a halt in a ravine. The back of her seat broke, and Donna was trapped, flat on her back, strapped in, unable to move. She was most concerned she could not answer her frequently ringing phone. She KNEW it was the disappointed girl. Donna was more worried about her than her own predicament. Donna lay in that car for hours/days until she was rescued. As a result of the accident, Donna is still paralyzed from the chest down.

My children and her daughter are cousins. I married the older brother, she hooked up with the younger brother.

It had been years since I'd seen Donna. We were long overdue for a meeting. Sunday, we met at a half way point, coming an hour from opposite directions. We ate a late lunch (because I was late) at Long Horn Steak House. She was accompanied by her daughter, my sweet niece, Veronica, and also her home health care attendant, Melanie, who does an awesome job and is very personable. Eighty hours a week, she works with Donna. Kudos for the good care giving and friendship. I felt as if I knew Melanie.   

Donna has the same genuine smile and dynamic personality, even if the years have softened her voice. Her eyes sparkle and radiate joy. Her heart radiates love. She is an angel. Donna has use of her arms from the elbows down, but arthritis has crippled her hands. That doesn't stop her from strapping on a wrist fork and feeding herself.

Obviously she is a home town Cardinals baseball fan. Look at those fancy fingernails! I admired her many pretty rings; this one in particular. She removed it and handed it to me. "Here, it's yours. I want you to have it." Her selfless act brought tears. I tried to refuse, offered to buy it, but she insisted. I will treasure it always.

Two hours passed quickly. We shared life stories, old memories, and made some new ones. We laughed and reminisced... our younger girls came out in us old gals. I hope she enjoyed herself as much as I did. She has a devoted daughter, my sweet Veronica, and a caring family and support system. Nothing seems to get her down. I can't imagine being confined to a wheel chair, but Donna makes all of life seem easy. Lazy me, I think about exercise and complain about my flabby arms. Donna exercises her arms and proudly showed me how firm they are. She's been my incentive. If she can do it, I will, too.

I am so proud of my sister-in-law. She is an inspiration. While many would have given up or given in, Donna continues to give... to everyone she meets. I really do know an angel on earth. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

What should I do?

Decisions, decisions! Is it always about principle?

I have been writing for many years, and have received accolades from far and wide. I have written for publishing credits only. I have written for money, and even chocolate... yes I won a contest on the theme of candy, and part of the prize was my favorite dark chocolate.

I have ghost written stories, letters, poems and articles that resulted in prizes of complete wedding packages, a scholarship, and publication for money (for others.) I created an anthology for a publishing company, and I have published in more than two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

I have published for free for a cause, most recently on the topic of mental health to assist others. As a result of my words, I have been contacted by editors, publishers, friends and strangers in far away lands. I have made contacts and friends, and have helped others. I feel the need to give back, and I do. I present workshops, speak at libraries, conferences, and advise other writers.

I have been advised by well known authors that writers should never give their work away. I disagree. I have done so,  but this evening, I find myself reluctant to sign a contract. The misunderstanding is on my part. I mistakenly thought an acceptance came with a stipend as well as publication.

I made a decision based on the merit of my words, and I have to stand on conviction this time.
Have you ever withdrawn a submission. If I do not value my words...

Hope you are busy writing.


I inadvertently deleted a positive blog comment from the editor/publisher of the publication. Marc, please feel free to repost.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Six mug shots, and that doesn't include the newspaper clippings

Does the name Allen Funt ring a bell?
He was an American icon, a television producer, director, writer and television personality best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera.

TV's first reality show consisted of hidden-camera pranks when it aired in 1948. Camera crews headed to towns across the country, sometimes with assists from celebrities, on unsuspecting folks, then surprising them with the iconic phrase, "Smile! You're on `Candid Camera.' 

Versions of the show have played in every decade since; Peter Funt, Allen's son took over after his dad's death.

Candid Camera was one of my all time favorite shows. Many times in my life weird things have happened that made me suspect I was on Candid Camera, but actually every time I have been on television, it was always with my knowledge.

The first time I was featured on television was in the 1980s (when I had big hair.) The mother of two of my preschool students nominated me as a Class Act Teacher through our local TV station.  My classroom phone rang and a man said, "I'm calling from Channel 2 Newsroom. You have been selected to be interviewed as one of our class act teachers. I'm surprised I'm covering a preschool, because the contest is specifically for teachers of grades K through 12."

"Who IS this?!" I asked thinking someone was pranking me. Tom O'Neal convinced me he was the news anchor assigned to me and my classroom, and he was coming with a videographer the next day to spend a couple hours.

I was nervous, especially knowing I was on camera at all times. They interviewed two of my students— the child whose mom nominated me, and also a precocious little boy. Years later, I taught the same little boy's son. When the cameras weren't rolling, Tom and I made small talk about our teen daughters. Let's just say we had a lot in common, similar complaints.

The interview was pared down to a two minute clip which aired midweek and also on the weekend. They showed me in action teaching, and also discussing my teaching philosophy. I received mail from many. Email and cell phones were not in existence or the main communication devices then.

My next mug shot was with my last preschool's owner/director and several students. We were featured outside a newsroom window. The anchor came out and interviewed us about an upcoming community event in which we were involved. My mom called to say she saw me waving and smiling. I was wordless for a change.

Then when I started publishing in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, a media person from another local news channel inquired as to when three local, published CS writers and I would be available for a live on-air interview. We all went downtown and smiled for the camera and brief individual interviews.

My aunt made her husband take a photo of me speaking. She was so proud of me, she mailed me the picture. I was so nervous, I blinked my eyes way too much.

My next two TV spots were in my classroom while a film crew filmed me reading and doing actions to Chick-a-Chick-Boom-Boom with my students (shake your body.) They interviewed the owner about her one-of-a-kind school, which she founded specifically for children with food allergies. I received text messages and emails from many former students and moms.

My last TV appearance was a Mother's Day interview at another news station in town. The interview was to discuss a story I had published in The Ultimate Mom, 2008. 

Mama Left Her Hand Print is about the day our life insurance agent came to collect the premium for a policy. Mom asked me to tell him she wasn't home. So I did. "Mama told me to tell you she isn't home." Mama did leave her hand print...on my heart and soul, and in my story I enumerated the many ways.

The female news anchor was friendly and prepped me ahead of time. She asked me what I regretted most as a mom. I said, "Saying NO too many times. I wish I had been more flexible."

She wanted to go with that. She tried leading me several times, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember the word "FLEXIBLE." She finally had to say it, and then I agreed. Talk about a Candid Camera moment.

TV stations are no longer calling me. I wonder if I've been blackballed? 
 My mom's earthly birthday is coming up in a couple weeks. If you would like to read my story about us, I will gladly email it to you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Splishing and splashing

What a pleasant and unexpected surprise to receive a phone call from my granddaughter on Memorial Day in the evening. Ashley lives about 45 minutes away, and although we exchange children on a  parking lot each Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m., we are always in a rush and seldom have time for a leisurely chat. 

Years ago one of my teacher's aides used to say, "It's such a rushing world these days." She was nearing retirement, and her words didn't phase me then. NOW, I understand. 

Little mama in her third trimester, is expecting her third little boy in three months.
She asked where the sprinkler park is that Liam talks about. I gave her directions, and she and her family came  to our neighborhood for fun and games just before dusk.

 Alex loved splashing in the fountain. He was shivering and still wanted to do it again and again. What a giggler this little cutie is. He's quiet and very observant.
Daddy Justin and Ashley had fun in the sprinklers too. Ashley got soaked.
 Liam walked right up to a fountain spray and dunked his head, because he wanted to feel the hard spray on his hair. He laughed out loud! I hope he never loses his sense of wonder and discovery.
 He is such a curious little guy. He tried to catch the stream, stepped on it, sat on it. There is a button to press when the fountains stop. He frequently presses the button because he thinks he controls the flow. Oh to believe you have the power to move, catch, and control water. "That was a really good spray, buddy!" I encourage him, and he beams with pride.

When Ashley was seven, we were walking on the beach. She said, "Nana, I have a secret. I control the ocean waves. When I think slow thoughts, the waves roll in slowly. But when I think of fast things, like race cars, the waves come crashing in very fast."

"You are amazing!" I told her. And now I am telling her little boys how amazing they are. Time is flying. The sixth month of the year is upon us. It IS a rushing world.
I had the best time at the sprinkler park with my granddaughter and her family.
I am so blessed to be able to spend time with my little guys. SLOW DOWN, time.
Have YOU made any waves lately? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My heart was pounding!

Bill and I stood in the back yard yesterday morning and watched as a behemoth like this flew into our neighborhood with propellers/rotors/engine roaring. It kept descending behind our house. We were concerned there was a sick case and a neighbor was being airlifted to a hospital. We observed as the chopper headed down the block to the elementary school's open grassy area and landed.

ELEMENTARY school for goodness sake. NO! I couldn't imagine another horrific event. Not in my own neighborhood. It made me sick to think about what might be going on.

Then a police helicopter followed the same flight path. Out front a S.W.A.T. tactical vehicle, firetruck and other emergency vehicles pulled into the school parking lot. I shouted for Liam and swept Alex up and hooked him into the stroller and away we went.

I realized what it was, career day at the local elementary school. Thank God! What a fun way to end a school year. The students filed out of the building and visited the various community helpers and their vehicles, and I'm sure they learned a lot.

Liam and Alex and I sat at a picnic table and observed from afar. Quite a thrill and lots of excitement in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Honey, sweat, carpenter...they all have something in common

What a thrill to discover a honey bee flitting from flower to flower. I wish there were more, but we only found one. Bees are crucial to pollinating the tomato plants in my honey's garden. And we want a bumper crop of those luscious Big Boys.

Baby Alex is nine months old tomorrow and getting cuter by the day. He is such an easy going baby. His personality is developing, and he is becoming more vocal. His babbling is hilarious and his laughter is contagious.

I spied Liam examining the red bud tree in our front yard. Its purple flowers are now gone, and the leaves are growing. I asked him what he was doing and he replied, "I want to climb a tree." So I lifted him up to a big branch and let him cling for a moment, explaining most of the branches are too small and he would break them if he tried to climb the tree. He agreed to wait a while. 

So he investigated the ring of flowers under the tree. When he spied a tiny piece of greenery fall from the tree, he ran like crazy. He thought it was an insect. So, of course...
we had to go in search of live insects. We found ants and rolypolies, which have their exoskeleton on the outside of their bodies like many crustaceans, and that's why they need moisture. We found a smooth caterpillar which might have been a slug and `moved it to new chomping grounds far away.
To Liam's delight, we discovered a tiny sweat bee in a rose. We watched its activity and discussed what he knew about bees: they make delicious honey, and they sting. I stuck his arm with my fingernail and showed him how a sting might feel. We learned that only female sweat bees sting, and most of the time you can shoo them off your skin and they won't bother you at all.

We have carpenter bees on our patio. They like to devour wood. Someone on Facebook said they stuff a small paper bag with plastic bags and hang the small brown bag on their carport. The carpenter bees think it is a paper wasp's nest and skedaddle. Worth a try.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Everything is budding!

Longest winter ever is finally over. We had a week of spring weather, and I was so happy to get my flowers planted and see the buds on the rose bush and the purple buds on the red bud tree.

 And then a week later, summer weather nudged out spring, or rather elbowed it hard! The temperature climbed into the 90s. The warmer it got the more buds I saw on the rose bush. I whispered into the bush, "Please bloom on Mother's Day." And I woke up to this!
 Everything is growing and blossoming, even Liam and Alex's mama. Baby Colton will be here in August, scheduled C section two days before Alex's birthday. My daughter Tracey is Ashley's mama.
Look how big Alex is getting. He loves Nicole and especially her long hair. He reached up and grabbed it and giggled. My Mother's Day was fantastic. Almost all of our kids were here, and the house was crowded, and the food was yummy, and all the women made over Alex. 
Life is coming up roses! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

You still have time...

I babysit Liam and Alex on Tuesdays. Since they will be at their other grandma's on Mother's Day, I helped Liam make a gift for his mommy. We took it to her work and surprised her. 
The "girls" loved it.

When I did these with my students I used larger paper, and they prattled on and on telling family secrets. With Liam, I used a piece of  the 8"x11" stationery which my friend Lynn gifted me.

My students' perceptions often made me and their moms laugh or cry. I gave verbal directions to
those who didn't draw yet. "Make mommy a round circle face. Give her eyes, nose, mouth, and does she have ears or a neck? Hair? You can make a dress by making a triangle. Want to try? Young children usually draw arms coming out of heads because that's their perception from their eye level. They look up from our legs and see arms and head. It's a developmental stage of art.

So I asked, "Can you put sleeves in the dress so Mommy's arms can come out?" Then I asked probing questions: "Who is this? Is she young or old, and what number is she? How does she look? What does she do? What kind of mom is she? Do you do anything special with her?" Sometimes I didn't have to lead them at all. The highly verbal children prattled on and on, and often I couldn't write fast enough. Oh the things I heard!

A few years ago, the mom of one of my students loved her portrait and said, "My mom has one of these that I made for her twenty years ago." We made the connection through that unique little gift, that I had also been her teacher. Not many teachers spent so much time on such projects, but I had the foresight to realize they would one day be TREASURES. Since my granddaughter posted these photos on Facebook, I have heard from several of my former students and parents who still display their Mommy (or daddy) portraits, even though their kids are grown. That makes me so happy.

This is the simplest kid craft, and they look so beautiful. Materials used: a paper towel tube, two paper plates (painted green, I used a green bingo dabber) because the plate thickness works better than green construction paper, and 4"x4" tissue paper squares.

Cut paper plates in half, then slice strips 1/2 inch apart about 3/4 way down from the ruffled plate edge. Wrap with the straight edge down, and hot glue around towel tube in four tiers. Fold the strips downward, scrunch and glue on the tissue paper.

I used to collect plastic liquid detergent lids that came in all colors to use as the base, then hot glued the flower "stem" in. But I happened to have an old vase. A spritz of perfume scented the "flowers" and amazed the students. Mommies loved these. They make great gifts for grandma's too. For younger children, use toilet tissue tube and one plate, not so much scrunching for those little hands.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mothers of Angels, Special price, pre-publication sale

My story is included in this anthology collection. Forty-six years ago I lost a fetus after the birth of my daughter and before the birth of my son. Writing about losing my middle child was difficult as I relived the moments, but it was also cathartic.   

May's Book of the Month Sale - a pre-publication special for Mothers of Angels, due out at the end of the month.
One book for $9.99 - Save $6!
Or...two books for $19.98 - one for you and one to donate to a newly grieving parent.
Sale price only available through the author's web site. Books will be available on Amazon after June 1st.

Mothers of Angels
Regular $15.99
Sale price $9.99

Mothers of Angels is an anthology with reflections about living through the grief of losing a child. Twenty four authors open their hearts as they share the pain, loss, and grief that was thrust upon them. They also share the navigation process as they learn to love again and live life with a new normal.

The stories are meant to encourage and inspire other mothers of angels, and fathers and other loved ones, while also honoring the child whose loss forced us on this difficult and undesired road. As I and many of my friends that have lost children often say, “It’s a club none of us ever asked to join.”

Along with the stories and poems, various resources and tips are included to help comfort and guide grieving parents. We don’t want to be in this club, but we also want to be available to those that need a shoulder during the most horrific of life’s experiences.

Join us as we celebrate the lives of the children that left this earth too early. They left, taking chunks of our hearts with them, yet the love and their memories remain engraved on our hearts.

Mothers of Angels will be available at the end of the month. Take advantage of this Pre-Publication Sale and save $6. Regularly priced at $15.99, you can get your copy during May for only $9.99. (Plus $3.50 shipping)

We’re also giving away books to different organizations, as support for newly grieving parents. You can get your copy – and donate a copy for a grieving parent  - two books for only $19.98. (Plus $3.50 shipping.)

Books will ship at the end of the month, when received from the publisher.

 This sale is good only through the author's web site and doesn't apply to Amazon listings.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The sun is shining and the house is shaking

What does it mean when your house is shaking, and a small shelf  just fell off the wall?
Not an earthquake. No, the dryer isn't travelling across the floor.
The pavers are out front FINALLY laying asphalt down our county road.

Hooray! Little things really mean a lot. Now to go find some sturdy anchors to suspend my shelf.

Sometimes you have to shake things up before you realize what you should have done all along, such as install those little Molly devices that hold screws in the wall. I talked about it forever. Now that the shelf over my bed is on a pillow where I lay my head, I think I will get a move on and secure it.

Although I tend to work best under deadline, procrastination leads to my laziness. Truthfully I'd rather be sitting on the patio on my porch swing reading. But I must write, because today is the last day of April and I need to submit two more pieces to meet my self-imposed quota of seven submissions a month.

I hope you have a productive day.The sun is shining, and I am pining to get outdoors. 85 degrees tomorrow! I am delighted.

What are your plans for this week?  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

So long SASSY; hello CHARLEY

Originally I named this three year old cat Sassy. When he found us during winter, he was a terrified yowler who flinched at touch and snapped at hands coming toward his face.

 He has since developed trust, calmed down, and although he is still a sassy talker, his voice is less piercing and quieter, and he's become quite the lover boy. 

My granddaughter has decided not to name their baby Charley, (as Liam and I had hoped,) so now WE have a Charley. And he actually responds better to his new name.

Today I planned on telling you how sweet Charley has become since I gave him a bath last month. He did not resist and enjoyed it. He is more affectionate than ever, translation: pat me, touch me, hold me, PLEASE.

At night when we go to bed, he waits until we're snuggled under the covers, then he pounces up onto the bed, cautiously walks up to look at me, and meows softly. He walks over, gazes at Bill, and meows into his face, as if to say goodnight. Then he pads to our feet and curls up. I cover him with a small blanket. He sleeps the night.

At 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. he starts meowing softly, then a little louder. If I ignore him he walks up and looks into my face and gets increasingly noisier. I fake sleep, so he reaches over to the nightstand and does what he sees me do each morning. He reaches for my glasses. Sometimes I catch them before he sends them sailing onto the carpeted floor.

And so our day begins. I feed him a big breakfast, but he would eat all day if I'd let him. We researched his breed on line and discovered Charley is true to his DNA. This type of cat is VERY affectionate, always wants to eat, and 80 % of litter mates are males.

  Charley has been an inquisitive snoop and nincompoop this week.
He found a new perch and actually thinks he's hiding from me on a kitchen chair. He's been reaching on our desks to see what he can knock off: ink pens, papers etc. This morning he had fun catching fluttering butterflies.

They were just out of reach on an end table. Liam had been matching sizes using the butterflies I cut out from a decorative Kleenex box. Charley finally knocked them off, caught them as they fluttered down to him, and happily tossed them into the air. He has all sorts of toys to chew and chase.

 However, today he prefers MY things. He swiped seashells from the shelf behind him and knocked them all around. He found my pillow and attacked it. He's looking for trouble today.

I think Charley has spring fever. Do you have spring fever? I do.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

AM I sleeping with another man?

It is possible I have been sleeping with two guys. Maybe.

Liam is an imaginative, exceptionally bright, three year old who will be four in June. Our guest room has an entire wall of toy shelves and he sleeps in the guest bed when he spends the night, but on Tuesdays when I babysit, he readily climbs up on our bed for a nap.

 This week he said, "I don't want to take my nap in there with that man in your bed."

Do you mean Pawpaw? He's not even home.

No, that MAN in there!

Okay... is he a nice man or a mean man?

No. I don't know.

Does he scare you or is he nice to you?

No. He's okay.

How does he look?

I don't know.

What color hair does he have?


Is he big like a grown up or small like a kid?


The more I probed, the more he avoided my questions.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Of all the roads I've traveled...

This is happening outside our home today, finally after eight months of lane closures, detours, and orange cones. The activity this morning resurrected a vivid memory.

On July 2, 1970 I was a passenger in my ex-husband's, Army seargent's brand new Mustang. He and my husband had 14 day leaves. Sarge invited my husband to split the cost of gas and drive home with him, since we lived in neighboring towns. He insisted I fly home (to show off our new baby girl.) I insisted I wanted to ride with them. He complained but relented. The maniac drove the winding, gravel Alcan Highway all the way across country to the Midwest at speeds of 85-100 mph in 2 1/2 days! We stopped once to rest a few hours in the car, in front of a gas pump, waiting for morning until the gas station opened, so he could refuel and take off again.

Crammed into the back seat with a week old baby who was strapped into a solid, hard plastic pumpkin seat on my lap, I prayed and worried. No room to move, no voice to demand the maniac stop for my much needed potty breaks. It was a ride from hell.

On a two lane mountain pass, he blew past a semi. The wind force blew the rear car window in on me and the baby, sending safety glass shards everywhere. We were unhurt. But the maniac driver, spun a U turn and chased the semi, until I cried and begged him to stop. He stopped at a restaurant/gas station where I bathed our newborn in a bathroom sink. She wailed and broke out in hives. I cried, she cried, inwardly Sarge was probably crying for allowing me to come along, because the car seat handle was rubbing the paint off the interior of his new baby. We were all a mess. 

Upon our return to Alaska to finish my husband's tour of duty, he received notice he would be released in early November instead of December. When October arrived with fierce winds and freezing temperatures, and the need to replenish the fifty gallon diesel heating fuel drum, I just wanted to go back home. I missed my mom, our home town, the bakeries on every corner, the paved streets to push my baby in a stroller. 

We said good bye to her daddy a month early and bought a plane ticket home. With a baby bed packed in a box, a dog in a crate, and our daughter in my arms, I took my last trip up our  Alaska gravel road.

As I looked back on the eight ramshackle trailers, side by side in a rainbow of colors, I watched the heavy equipment workers paving our road. My final image is of the asphalt being poured, the fire underneath the paving equipment and the steam roller drawing up the rear.

Funny, now that I think about, my first ingrained image of Alaska is the firey sun in the midnight sky as I flew into the Fairbanks airport 110 miles from School Road in Delta Junction, and my final image  of our gravel road was the fire beneath the asphalt paving equipment.

Of all the roads I've ever traveled in my life, School Road resurrects the most emotional memories: it's where my best friend and I walked everyday as expectant mothers. 

Today I travel a path towards yesterday and miss my late friend Sheila.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

That takes the prize!

My sweet Nicole is ten-years-old. How did this happen?! She's almost as tall as I am. She loves art, drawing fashion designs, singing, dancing, and playing with her best friend CeCe.

She and (my son) attended a father-daughter dance at her school. She has a fun daddy, and he has a fine little girl. 

I love her giggles and hugs.

Nicole's art work, A Kaleidoscope of Leaves, was featured in an art show this week. She really has artistic ability, and I just know she is going to be a famous artist one day!

We had a sunny, almost 80 degree day last week, so why is Nick wearing his cap backwards?! 

Nicholas is 16, and his favorite past time is fishing. He's driving now, so he and his buddy Parker go fishing every single day after school, until dark. He loves fishing! When Bill and I discovered him at a local park and fishing lake, he hadn't had many bites in two hours! But he was still trying. He said he caught his biggest fish on a day when it was freezing cold and sleeting. What dedication!

Although this one was a real keeper, Nick catches and releases. He will be attending a fishing tournament soon. I just know he will bring home a trophy or prize. He's a winner for sure!

What is your passion? If you practice your craft, invest in your interests, and apply yourself, you too could be a winner. Sing your own praises, dance and rejoice. Announce your achievements no matter how insignificant you think they might be; let others know. You may inspire someone.

What are you're waiting for, the weather to improve? Inspiration to strike? More time? Get out there and just do it. 

You may not take the prize, or even receive acknowledgement of a submission if you are a writer, but much like fishing, you never know when you will get a strike and possibly land the big one. Wishing you the very best in all pursuits.

Also wishing for spring, it's going to be in the 30's today. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Looney Toons, Coo-Coo for Cocoa Puffs... ditch the labels!

Three decades ago, I did a lesson on occupations with my preschool students. A little boy said, "My daddy works at the NUT HOUSE with the crazy people." His father was a psychiatrist at the state mental health hospital. 

Negative labels, derogatory comments, and stigma about mental health issues still exist.

I am pleased to be a contributing author to Dis*or*der Volume IV, an anthology about mental illness. My poem is one of twelve selected. The book also includes essays. 

Rock-a-bye Mama is about my late mom's nervous breakdown when I was a child, although I didn't specify that detail.

We all have skeletons in our closets. I urge you, don't hesitate to write the unnerving, the difficult... your truths. But do so without hurting others.

Learn more about Elizabeth Dillon (, who states this will be an annual anthology. Check the website to see other anthology topics, submission guidelines, and schedule. 

This is a powerful publication, and the most important two words I've read about this book are "HEALING anthology." I like the site. So many self-help pubs and anthologies  focus on the illness and not the wellness or overcoming. This collection covers a broad spectrum and is representative of numerous diagnoses. I am proud to be a part of this book. ~ Linda O'Connell (a non-profit) and RedDashboard LLC are collaborative grassroots organizations which developed Dis*or*der Volume IV.

This is the blurb on website:

"Mental disorders are no-fault genetic brain conditions which affect one out of every five families. Mental illness can and often does cause chaos, suffering and an inability to function in daily life. They can be difficult to diagnose, yet they usually have a genetic component. Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the United States, more common than heart disease or cancer. Mental illnesses are treatable yet many who suffer are afraid or unable to get treatment.
Authors and Poets come together in this collection by sharing their experiences in their personal life, with family and friends, and in professional lives, the bittersweet reality of living with dis*or*ders. Their words on these pages can begin to replace the stigma surrounding mental illness with understanding, hope and compassion."

Dis*or*der, Volume, IV will be available in May, and we would all appreciate if you could  spread the word by purchasing copies and sharing the info with those you love and within the mental illness community.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Growl it... announce your success

Liam was two and half when this picture was taken.

And here he is three months before his fourth birthday. I cannot believe how he has grown. He has achieved so many milestones. He is reading simple three letter words. He is so proud of himself.

Are you continuing to grow in your pursuits, endeavors, interests? We grow when we continue to feed our soul with things we enjoy doing. I enjoy writing. Some of my subject matter is personal and I have self doubt about whether anyone would be interested in my experiences. However, I recently received an acceptance on a poem I submitted to a publication months ago. It was one of only twelve selected. The subject matter is one that affects many people, mental illness. I can't name the publication yet, but it will be a "healing anthology." That has a nice ring, doesn't it?

I promise to promote as soon as I get the go ahead. I just want to encourage YOU to follow your passion. Take time and make time to do the things you enjoy. Hop a painted tiger and growl your success to the world at large. Believe in yourself.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A real zoo

We finally had a warm day with sunshine, so we headed to the zoo for an outing Tuesday. I walked so much, I went to bed early and slept until 7:00 a.m. I am always up at 5:00 so I figure age is catching up with me. 

This brown bear was sitting high on a rock, saw Liam, and came right down to go nose to nose with him.

I was sitting in the sun feeding baby Alex when a

 young couple with five stair-step children passed by. The middle child (about six) dragging up the rear growled and stomped every time her parents turned around to speak to her. 

The oldest smacked the next one. Dad was pushing the baby in a stroller. A three year old was walking alongside tugging on dad. 

The young man looked over at me and laughed. He said, "You're getting a free show. Usually we can charge for this." The overwhelmed mom just shrugged. 

Then I heard another mom yell for her little girl, "Come here, Glitter!" That name was a little sparkly for me!

Another mom called for her son, "Wellington" which made me think of Richie Rich comic books for some reason, maybe the pretentious name.

It was a real zoo at the food court, so many people purchasing over-priced hot dogs and wilted french fries. Workers weaving their way through the crowd shouting, "Excuse me." Stroller pushers shouting, "Can I please get through?" 

Talk about sensory overload! 

74 degrees yesterday and 24 in the morning. Come on, winter hit the road!