Sunday, August 28, 2016

The ups and downs of life

It has been a crazy week. Sorry I didn't get around to posting. Liam saw the Olympic athletes  on TV performing on the trampoline, and that's all he talked about.
"Want jump high, Nana. Real high. Up high." He pointed to the ceiling, and begged me to lift him "so high." An impossible task. Instead I took him to Monkey Joe's, filled with bounce houses, a section for kids under three. He was unsure at first, but once he started jumping higher and higher, he thought he was almost at the ceiling. 

As a writer, there have been times when I want to soar to the top, too. Achieving a goal makes me feel elated. How about you? It's hard to bottom out, though. My latest Chicken Soup story was a last minute cut from the Angels and Miracles book. Yes I am disappointed, but I'm not going to mope. I sent it elsewhere. 

 Little guy climbed up the stairs and fearlessly slid down the giraffe slide. Never let fear stop your creative endeavors. Always make an attempt.

Friday when Liam came to visit, I got out the paints, and my little Picasso painted for half an hour. He mixed colors, and by the time he was finished, he had painted his palm and was making hand prints all over his paper.

Years ago when my children were small, I would have freaked out. Now, I realize he was enjoying a sensory experience, learning about wet, slippery, oozy paint and naming all the colors.

 One evening last week before bedtime, he took a tumble. He decided to ride his Lightning McQueen ride-on car down five carpeted steps and caught himself on the landing. He buckled his wrist when he crash landed, and had to go to the ER. When the doctor knocked on the exam room door, Liam shouted, "Come in." Everybody thought he was a little cutie. They allowed him to select the cast color, and he named the entire selection of colors. He stated his age and name, and made friends with everybody. He is such a joy. His mama, my first grandchild, was  exactly the same way. People would stop me and ask if she were in acting. When I said, no, they said she should be. Personality plus, those two.

The nurse gave him a ring pop (which he loved) while she wrapped the cast on his arm. He was happily distracted. Upon completion, she said, "Okay, there you go Liam. It's all yours." He looked curiously at his cast and said, "Oh?" Then he realized what she meant, and he said, "OH!" NOOOO! But as we walked through the hospital he stopped and showed everyone his cast. He has asked twice to take it off, but otherwise he has adapted well and is still his happy little self.

We creative types must adapt, too. If one style doesn't work, try another.  If your story isn't working as prose, try writing it as a poem.

Before Liam's great fall, the Bosnian man next door waved to him when he  saw him under the tree playing in a pan of dry pasta. Liam shouted, "Hi!" and ran to him. He was more than thrilled when the man reached up and picked an apple from his apple tree and gave it to him.

Liam is very polite. He says, "God bless you," if he hears someone sneeze, then he says, "Thank you! You're welcome." He told the man thanks and off he ran to us to brag about his apple. Be grateful for the smallest things. Appreciate what you do have, instead of complaining about what you don't have.

Have a great week. If you know of anyone interested in taking an on line writing course, www.coffeehouseforwriters is forming new classes. Please pass on the information.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Feeling divine and the DIVINE

I am wearing a summer skirt with embroidered flowers. Nothing unusual about that? For me it is. In spring and summer I'm more comfortable in Capris, and the rest of the time I usually wear slacks or jeans. When I worked with preschoolers it was easier to get up and down off the floor. Once in a while when I did where a skirt or dress, EVERYONE commented. And I felt "pretty." Today we are going to breakfast, and I dressed up. Bill said, "Wow, you look pretty." He's so sweet and affectionate this morning. I just might wear another skirt tomorrow.

When Liam's mom was in my preschool class she always wanted to wear pants, and that suited our little Tom Boy well. But on the days she wore a dress, her demeanor changed. She acted very demure, was less rambunctious, and played with the girls instead of building and racing around with the boys. Wonder if there's something to that adage, Clothes makes a woman?

On Saturday which was a lovely fall day, honey and I debated about where to eat lunch. Every fast food place was a no, and we didn't want a huge meal. As we passed Cracker Barrel Old Time Restaurant, I said, "Let's get our favorite meal as a carryout, just one, and split it. We can picnic at the nearby park."

So as we waited for our To Go order of chicken fried chicken, cheesy potato casserole, green beans and slaw, with a side of cornbread, we played a game of checkers. When he double jumped me, I almost called him a name, and it wasn't honey. Then we heard our name called and didn't get to finish the game. Just as well.
We ate at a picnic table under a pavilion, enjoyed the breeze, listened to the joyful squeals of kids at a birthday party nearby, then I spied this lone goose. Sometimes I feel all alone even when there are people near me. Do you ever feel that way? Sometimes I prefer to be alone, as noise overwhelms when I am trying to write. I often feel like a small fish in a big lake when it comes to writing. I suppose even the best and most published writers have self-doubts.

I watched a gaggle of geese gather from across the lake, all in search of the same thing, and thought, YES! I am a writer, and I have a community of supportive writers. We are all after the same thing, a publishing credit, and sometimes life gets in the way of writing or submitting or feeling.

As I sat with my honey on this glorious day, I thanked God for my health husband, family, and my ability to write. I also said a prayer for three friends battling cancer: Claudia, Jan, and Mary. Prayers appreciated for them.

My church does not have walls, and nature is where I feel the Holy Spirit most, and I know God is an awesome God. I hope you have a blessed Sunday and a good week.

Hubby just walked in, nibbled on my neck! (it's the skirt, I know it is) and said, "It's time for brunch.  So, toodle loo! here's a place to check for writer call outs.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Going on 25!


You probably have a few minutes to spare now that the kids are back in school. Consider taking an on line class. Have you always wanted to write? Looking for a mentor who will allow you to work at your own pace? Provide insider tips?
Do you have a specific story that you are working on, and would you like to develop it into a marketable piece? We can help.
Whether you wish to write for personal pleasure or possible publication, the instructors at Coffee House for Writers are here to help YOU.

Chicken Soup for the Soul accepts true personal essays from 500-1,200 words, but you can also submit a Chicken Soup-type story to many other paying publications. We will help you develop a marketable essay for possible publication and provide you with a list of places to submit your work.
Check out the website. Instructor Linda O'Connell's personal stories appear in 24 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She recently signed her 25th contract.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Angels and Miracles and U-turns

Did you ever get so excited while packing for vacation, and then forget one of the most important things?

Well that's what happened to several of us on our family vacation with two adult daughters, four young adult grands, and two of their friends.

We were scheduled to leave at 5:00 a.m., drive in a convoy to New Orleans, spend the night in a motel, then board the ship the next day. Hubby likes all his cans in a row. We had every single thing in order. At 5:02 a.m. his GPS was telling him where to turn top enter the highway, as if we didn't know.

One daughter called half hour into the ride to say they forgot one of the kids' driver's license.

Other daughter called an hour and half later to say she forgot her credit card.

Shortly after that one of the friend's also forgot a credit card.

There were a lot of U turns that day.

Bill stopped for gas. As we turned out of the gas station, he said, "We'll make it to Shoney's for breakfast in an hour. Everyone is going to have to find their own way, I guess." He felt bad.

After our pit stop, he drove out of the station, through the intersection, headed for the on ramp, when I screeched, "Stop! Go back. Make a U turn. I left my phone in the bathroom."

I waited in our car as long as I could for the longest stop light in the state to change. I could wait no more. I bounded from the car, ran against traffic, every ounce of me bouncing, and huffed it into the restroom as a customer came through the front door.

What a relief! My phone was there. 

What bad shape I'm in. I gasped back to the car, and we traveled on. I am so blessed with a man who doesn't complain too much.

By evening, we all arrived at our destination, rode the ferry across the Mississippi River into New Orleans. We elders returned before the youngsters, got a good night's sleep and woke to a text stating our ship had engine problems and boarding would be delayed two hours. However, since Bill and I had priority boarding, and our taxi on standby, our entire party had to leave at the same time.

So, as everyone was tugging their luggage to the lobby, I received another text. It was from Chicken Soup for the Soul asking me to sign a permission for a story I had submitted. I was to fax a copy ASAP. My honey worried that we'd get lost, but good man that he is, he plugged in his GPS, and we tore around town to find an Office Depot. With 45 minutes left before departure, we found the store... and a teacher ahead of me having dozens of posters laminated. Hurry-hurry-hurry! I commanded silently.

With thirty minutes left, we accessed our home computer, printed and filled out the contract and faxed it to C.S.  

Ten of us piled into the transport van. As our driver was loading luggage (we tipped him well) a taxi driver approached him and told him he was in his territory, snapped pictures of his license plate and threatened to call the cops.

With fifteen minutes to spare, our angel of a driver, Harold, said, "I ain't afraid of him."
Off we went. Hubby and I got right in line, but the rest of our party had to wait outside for two hours before being able to board.

I guess the moral of my story is U-turns happen.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul story is designated for the Angels and Miracles book. I'd say angels were watching over us and it's a miracle we made it to the boat on time.

I know I had comments. Where did they go?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Feeding the sharks by hand

 Oh my goodness, when there's sand on my toes and sun on my nose, I am in my glory.

We took a fun, seven day cruise with Bill's adult daughters, Robin and Michele, four teenage grandchildren, and also two of their college friends.

Our first port of call was Key West, Florida.

The comedian sure had fun with that one.

"So you people boarded a ship for a cruise to the Bahamas in New Orleans, in the USA, to go to your first port of call... IN the USA? And the worst part is, some of you drove TO New Orleans FROM Florida so you could go BACK to Florida. Makes me wonder about some of you."

We walked around Key West, where chickens own the streets and Hemingway once bent his elbow and wrote his tomes.

We stopped at a museum, and I had a nice little chat with a few Beat Poets.

As we pulled out of  Key West, we watched elderly men sitting on the concrete porch of an old rooming house near the sea, throwing food scraps to sharks.

Our next port of call was Freeport, Bahamas. The water and sky blended seamlessly in a  remarkable shade of turquoise that delighted my senses and tingled my spine. 

When I spotted this private tiny island, I decided this is where I want to live. 

I know, I know, you don't always get what you want!

Can you imagine LIVING here? In my dreams.

My reality was swimming, and walking the beach. Our bus driver mentioned that the island was 80 % black, but islanders do not see different races. They acknowledge only one race, THE HUMAN RACE. With that comment the passengers applauded, and everyone on the bus cheered.

On board the Dream, each night we ate too much delicious food at a table for ten, laughed with family and Asian waiters who called themselves I One, I Two, and I Three because we could not remember I'Gede, I'Kaydek, and I'Wayan. By the end of the cruise, I One was calling himself 
" in your American steak sauce, yes?"

 We dressed for Elegant Evening twice, but most of the time we wore cruise casual and were very relaxed. We watched live Broadway-style stage shows, listened to hilarious comedians, and enjoyed a variety of music by great musicians all over the ship. We munched popcorn and watched night time movies on top deck after dark, and just had fun.

We ventured on to Nassau, Bahamas and swam in the Caribbean, where my soul returns over and over once we return home. When I go to my happy place, my respirations get shallow, my blood pressure lowers, and I feel like a jelly fish... wrinkle-free, pain-free, floating away from worries and woes about friends fighting deadly diseases, our aged knees, failing eyesight, family issues, and a nation/world in crisis.

We live in a very safe suburban neighborhood, but the local barber around the corner was robbed at gunpoint yesterday. One more thing to worry about. NO I won't...I am drifting away on my tiny tropical isle. You all are invited to join me.

My honey and I are blessed to have experienced this family trip and to have made long lasting memories for the kids and grand kids.

On the last evening of the cruise I was so thrilled to see this towel sculpture on our bed, but I have to tell you, a little towel monkey hanging above the balcony door stole my heart. I loved it, but not as deeply as I love this sweet monkey! I am too blessed to be stressed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shut your mouth!

We were on vacation last week. The news was filled with political nonsense and candidates behaving worse than some of my former students. Calling each other crazy. That's crazy! But I'm not here to discuss their behaviors.

The nation is on edge. Folks are afraid to express their political opinions for fear of offending someone. Jo Ann Smith is not afraid to express her opinion, and she is very supportive of her chosen candidate.
I first noticed her shoes from a distance. I'm telling you the bling made me blink. Look at those LED lights on the soles. My grandkids would love them! 

As I approached the buffet and got in line behind her I smiled, chuckled, laughed out loud, and with a guffaw told her, "Girl, you should be campaigning for Hillary."     

She tugged on her shirt, twisting Hillary's face this way and that and she replied, "I am! I just talked to a woman who said, 'I guess I'll vote for Trump. Won't matter who you vote for. One is as bad as the other!' 

And I told her, 'Won't matter if you're rich, but if you're not, you might want to reconsider.' "

Food for thought!

Jo Ann first gained notoriety when she campaigned for Barack Obama. She walked into his headquarters with a large decorative hat and a go get 'em attitude. She was interviewed by so many media outlets, she had to turn down interviews.

I met up with her again and overheard her talking to a friend about sitting with someone chewing with their mouth open. "I finally said, 'shut your mouth!' "

Shut your mouth is right! You tell them Jo Ann!

This one woman dynamo knows what she wants and isn't afraid to express her opinion. She has a dynamic personality and is absolutely making a difference.

How about you? Are you brave enough to make a difference by promoting your candidate in such a way? Or are you a silent supporter?

Exercise your freedom of expression, freedom of speech.   

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Secret senses

I am reading Amy Tan's book, The Hundred Secret Senses. I'm 33 pages in, and already can't put it down.

Got me to thinking, we all have that extra bit of sixth sense. We seldom listen to our inner voice that warns us, makes our skin prickle in a dangerous situation. That little voice that whispers, BEWARE, and puts our senses on high alert.

In this day and age, we have to be aware of our surroundings. Suspicious characters. But we can't live in a bubble.  We must live our lives and be aware.

Did you ever have a moment when you listened to your sixth sense, crossed the street, avoided a situation and consequently benefited you?

Many years ago we were on vacation with a 3year old and 7 year old. I went up to our room to retrieve something amd left Bill with the kids on the beach. I saw two suspicious characters get on the elevator,  so I took the stairs.
When I entered the hotel room, I heard a male voice, Hey, let's get out of here."
I ran down to get Bill.

He ran upstairs and when he opened the door, he heard the guy say, "Good job."
He came to get me. I stepped in the room and heard these guys still talking. I was petrified. Then he lifted up Kyle's tractor with a dozen voice actions.

Talk about relief!  We had to put that toy in the fridge because it wouldn't shut up.