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.

P.S.

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.