Good News For Writers

I love to write. Occasionally, I have to force myself to do it, but I’m always glad I did. I even enjoy reading what I’ve written. I’ve been known to “like” my own stuff. Sometimes, I even make myself cry.

So, I was pretty interested when someone introduced me to the following article.

sci

Find original article here.

The following are quotes from the article:

“No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms.” – Crazy!

“…writing can make physical wounds heal faster” – Are you serious?

“…this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.”  – Totally

I love this article and I’m inclined to believe the science behind it. The fact is, yesterday was my 41st birthday. I don’t love birthdays. I especially don’t love celebrating my own. In fact, I once cried at my own surprise party, but that’s a story for another day. However, using my birthday as a springboard to inspire my writing (like my past two posts, In Days Before– and 29 Forever. Not Hardly.) -well, that’s something I can feel good about. That’s something even I can love.

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29 Forever? Not Hardly.

Ending my 41st trip around the sun isn’t so bad. Last year on this date I entered my fortieth year with a pretty good attitude. Forty-one certainly can’t be any worse than Forty!

3 things 1

The following three people were all born in 1973 (like me) and they look fabulous. I decided as long as they’re looking good and rocking their forties – so will I.

3 fabs

Aishwarya Rai BachchanNovember 1, 1973. Miss World, Bollywood Actress, Gorgeous

Andrew LincolnSeptember 14, 1973. Actor. I want to meet him and ask him to say, “Caaaarl.” I would like that.

Heidi KlumJune 1, 1973. Model, Project Runway Host, Businesswoman

For whatever reason, knowing Ash, Andy, Heidi and I are all the same age makes me feel great. And that’s enough for me. I’m easy like that.

3 things 2

My bucket list included:3 b

Learning to SewDONE!

Getting First Aid Training and CertificationDONE!3 b1

Learning How to Shoot a GunStill pending  😦  (I have the money set aside, I just haven’t gotten around to it – yet. Dang it.)3 b2

2 things 3

Disney Cruise (OK, this is for the kids, but I want it too)

Water Painting/Pen and Ink Classes (My all time favorite medium to work in, it’s been almost 25 years, but I’m ready to pick it up again.)

Attend the Opera (I’ve never been, but I desperately want to go – if I can find someone to go  with me, or even better, take me.)

The End. 🙂

PS – Everyone knows it’s not about what number you are, it’s all about what number you look like…   😉

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In Days Before

I was talking to an African woman while in line at the Indian supermarket the other day (true story). I’m not sure what started it, but we began wondering how stymied people would be these days if their smart phones were suddenly unavailable or unusable.

I am writing this post on the day before my 41st birthday. Not so old. Not so young. Born in 1973 I have been witness to life with TV (only 5 channels that you had to actually get up and turn the nob to change) and life with Netflix. I remember a time before cellphones and I was at least 30 before I had my very own. I even remember life before push button phones. od rotaryDial a number, wait (chug chug chug as it came back around) dial another number… There was no speed dial – no Yelping a restaurant or Googling a hairdresser and then just touching the number on the screen to have it dial for you. You took your finger, put it in the hole and pulled that dial around and around and around.  Seven times for local.

I was born after humans landed on the moon, during the Vietnam War and before Germany was once again, just – Germany. Not so old and not so young. I’ve seen a lot come and I’ve seen some things go. I stood there in line with an armful of Indian snacks listening to this older woman recount the wonder of the first time she saw an airplane in the late 1960s and the first time, as a young woman, she was allowed to speak on a telephone. She shouted because she thought they would hear her better.

I nodded my head like I knew what that was like. I didn’t.

Airplanes were flying over my house long before I was born and I cannot recall a time without a telephone, rotary or not, because to me, they always just were.

od pizzaod bagelI’ve often heard my father say, “Have I ever told you about the first time I ate pizza? They called it ‘Tomato Pie’ and…” It was at a rolling concession stand at a county fair in the early fifties. My Aunt Carol still remembers her first experience eating a real bagel. I’m reminded, for some, there was a time before pizza and bagels.

I have a vivid memory of the exact place I ever tasted (or even heard of) Ranch dip. Yes, Ranch. There actually was a time before Ranch seasoning – and I remember it.

I’m not old, but I feel just old enough to nod my head and murmur in agreement when someone a little older reminisces about the days before. I remember those days, maybe not the exact old days, but I do remember what it was like in days before.

***

What astounds you that you remember about days before?

 

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Hold this.

Standing in a crowded room trying to have a conversation with the woman in front of me about Room Moms and what must be done, I feel a little someone bump into my arm.

“Mom, can you hold this?” She says, holding up an enormous stuffed dog she bought at IKEA.

“No. You brought it, you hold it. I don’t hold your stuff.”gdog

Two minutes later I glance down at my hands and see that not only am I holding a large stuffed dog, but also a water bottle, coloring book and pencil.

Hold on a minute… how did this happen? How does this always happen?

Five-Minute-Friday-4

This post was inspired by Five Minute Friday: Hold. Link up here. 🙂

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Sit Up and Spit

A little over a year ago Dental was added to my Health Insurance; apparently it was just snuck it in there because I didn’t know about it until last month. I suppose if I actually read the yearly manuals I might have known sooner.

So it came to be, yesterday, after a hiatus of three years, I paid a visit to my dentist. According to her, my gums bleed too much and I need to floss. Twice a day.

Can I be real honest? I hate brushing my teeth. Don’t get me wrong, I hate my stinky, nasty morning mouth more, so I brush first thing every day. But I don’t have to like it. Word on the street is, you’re supposed to brush twice a day. At least. And floss. Twice! ai yi yi…

More brutal honesty: The only way I brush more than once a day is if I have a date.

With a real live man. Period. I’ll even Listerine for that.

sigh.

rang highBack to the Dentist. As I lounged in the chair with the suction tube hanging out of the corner of my mouth, I reminisced about the good old days at the dentist. Back when the dentist was literally on the corner of the next block over and I walked myself there with a signed check from my parents in my hand. This was way back, before People and US or iPhones. In those days I read Highlights and Ranger Rick in the waiting room, which doubled as the basement of the Dentist’s family home.

In those days there was no spit sucker hanging out of your mouth, you had to sit up and spit after each section of your mouth was scraped and polished.

dentistSit up. Spit into a tiny porcelain sink. (That white mini-faucet just ran and ran and ran…) Drink from your little paper cup and rinse out every last bit of that gritty pink paste.

I miss the sit up and spit. I liked seeing what the dentist was digging out of there.

 

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10 Things I Don’t Say

I recently read an interesting blog article,

10 th

You can find the original article here. I found it thought provoking, mainly because my own experience is much different from the author’s.

(Spoiler: It’s never crossed my mind to say (or think) most of these – fear of judgment or not.)

1. “Your words hurt.” I have never experienced a person saying something to me in regard to my single parent state that was intentionally mean or hurtful. I have been saddened and hurt by words, but the intention behind the words was never hurtful. Words that hurt, hurt because they touch an open wound. A “Daddy-Daughter Dance” is a lovely thing, but when your daughter doesn’t have a Daddy to attend with, those words hurt, even though the words themselves were never ever intended for that purpose.

2. “We will freak out if you ever refer to our kids as ‘baggage.’”   No one has ever referred to my children as “baggage.” Ever. People really say that to single parents?

However, I do agree with the dating piece of the author’s point, and I would/will say this. Don’t date me if you are unsure of the “whole kids thing. Just. Don’t.

3. “We’re not rich.” Ha! I doubt that anyone even assumes that we are. And I do not receive child support.

4. “There will always be some “drama” with our kid’s other parent, if they’re around.” My children’s other parent is not around, so our drama level is way low.

5. “We feel isolated and lonely.” This is a hard one. Yes, absolutely, Single Moms are in a world of their own. I agree that connecting with like moms, single or married is key. News flash, there are married  moms out there who feel isolated and lonely. I’m thankful to work in an office with my parents and brother; if I didn’t, I would definitely feel more isolated and lonelier. But, I also believe isolation and loneliness are situations that, under most circumstances, we can change. Conclusion: Occasionally, on a cold, dark night I have felt isolated and lonely, but in the warm light of day, it rarely crosses my mind.

6. “We worry constantly that we aren’t doing a good enough job.” Absolutely not. I don’t worry, and definitely not about this. The reason: I have Christ in my life and He loves my children even more than I do. How could I worry about my  job of raising them when I have the God of the Universe sticking it out and walking with me? I trust Him. Worry is futile.

7. “We aren’t very much fun.” Huh. How many married people with children are super fun? Really. Come on, be honest. By our mid-thirties we’re already falling asleep on the couch in the middle of our favorite show. We can’t go out for coffee because it keeps us awake and we can’t drink wine because it knocks us out. This is not a single parent thing. This is a parent thing. Kids wear us out and it doesn’t matter if there are 1 or 2 or 10 parents. You know it’s true. However, I’m definitely still fun.

8. “We don’t have a strong sense of ‘self'” Yes, I do. I’m a Mother. 😉  I think I covered this in my recent post 1%. Or 5.

9. “Long before our kids could understand adult conversation, we talked to them like they could.”  I have no idea if this is true. How would I? I have no way of knowing whether I would talk in the same manner to my children if I were still married or not. I’m kind of at a loss here.

10. “Someone complimenting our kid means the world to us.” Yes. Yes. And YES! Wait, doesn’t every  parent feel this way?

Yet, In all honestly, I think it does mean more to single parents. On this point, I agree whole-heartedly with the author of the article. I think #10 is a gauge with which we can measure how well things are going in #6 . When nice things are relayed to us about our children we get a sense that:

They really are turning out OK.

Being raised by only one parent isn’t scarring them for life.

They are well-adjusted and kind and happy.

joy l

I suppose every parenting journey, married, single or other, is unique. The paths of our lives rarely lead where we expected. I latch on to the joy that is found in the brief moments that build our days. Eventually, they will build a lifetime.

cwj 3Isn’t that exactly what this blog is all about?

I’ve been a single parent of four children for three & a half years.

 

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1%. Or 5.

The kids and I watched the movie, Blended, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore the other night.

blended_movie_poster_wallpaper

While it was showing in the theaters I saw that it didn’t receive great reviews but we figured that for a Friday night family movie, it was worth a try. This Is Not a movie review post, but I will say that we, kind and uncritical people, loved it and my kids want to own it. For a single parent, like myself, it was hauntingly accurate and funny; as well as being funny and sweet and, did I mention, laugh-out-loud funny? (Disclaimer: it does contain the regular dosage of Sandler crudeness, but mostly in brief spurts.)

On to the purpose of the post… At one point in the movie Sandler & Barrymore are agreeing that, as parents, you must give your kids 100% of yourself. They finally agree to 99%, with 1% withheld for the Parent’s personal wants.

If you are a parent, especially a single parent, you are probably shrugging your shoulders in reluctant agreement; or , possibly, you don’t agree at all. My own children have not seen their father in over 3 and half years. He calls them about six times a year. What I’m saying is, sometimes parents – peace out. Even my own daughter disagreed with the 1% thing.

“Mom, I don’t think that what they said in the movie is right. It’s not 1%, I think it’s more like 5%.”

Okay. I’ll buy that. Yet, is it really possible that 95-99% of our time goes to our children? Do we really only have 5% (or less) of ourselves and our time to pursue our own interests?

Let’s explore this. This weekend my colleagues are traveling to MN for a three-day conference. I would have liked to attend. My colleagues also would have liked for me to attend. But I won’t be attending. – Because I am a single mother. I have four children. And no one to watch them for that many nights.

On the other hand, I am glad that I am not going because it frees up my weekend, because if  I were gone my children would have missed a birthday party (or I would have had to arrange transportation.) I would miss a meeting after church about youth group, (which is important to me.) I would have missed all kinds of important things. And ALL of them kid-related. 

Do you see what I am saying? – even the HIGH points about not being able to attend the conference this weekend are positive because they benefit my children

That 99% is starting to seem a lot more realistic.

For single parents, is there time and room in our lives for romance? Apparently so. At least it seems so in the movies. I haven’t found it true in my own life, but then again I often say, there is a Whole Lot of Female Awesomeness  in this family. It would have to be a special man to be willing to blend in some of that.

What about activities, hobbies, free time? I suppose I have that. I do love to write. Then again, my kids influence my writing – a lot. (eh hem – this whole post and most of what I write.) I like to crochet – generally scarves and beanies – for my kids. Occasionally, I create other things, especially around Christmas, that usually end up as gifts, for teachers, of my children… Hmmmm.

I go to the movies alone sometimes…

Before you start getting all poor Rebecca on me consider, when I left my husband I asked God for my children. Nothing else. Not a portion of our five bedroom/five bathroom home, our lucrative business, vehicles, land, savings, or anything else. We left him (I write a bit about why here and a little bit here) and carried away with us a single suitcase. Eleven years of living. Five people. One suitcase.

The rest of the possessions were, and still are, his.

Hear this: I Totally Got the Better End of That Deal.

Imagine a scale that weighs everything left behind or unrealized in my life on one side and my children seated on the other side. Yeah, no comparison. None.

I asked my chubby little seven year old tonight if she liked watching movies with us on Family Movie Night and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I just like ‘nuggling with you.”

I’m delighted with my 1%. Or 5.

And hey, it’s not going to be 99% forever, right? They do grow up, don’t they…?

me writer

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Ready for Something New

Out In

For the first time in almost fourteen (14!) years I have seven (7!) hours a day with no children at home.

I knew once September rolled along things would be different. I knew/know something new was/is awaiting me. I’m not sure yet what it is but I have that feeling that doors are about to fly open.

And I’m ready.

With my new found thirty-five hours a week I’ve decided I need to have some sort of daily schedule to keep myself productive and to also carve out some time for creative activities. Doing what I love – just because I love it. I wrote about it earlier in the week here.

Friday is all about Creating. Laundry can wait. Cleaning the kitchen can wait. Office work can wait. Shopping can wait. Today, I create.

And I’m ready.

Today I will write. I will pull out and “dust off” a novel I wrote ten years ago. I will format it so it is neat and pretty. I will read it (for the first time in 8 years) and I will send it to a friend for her to read.

I am ready.

Ready for something new.

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Five-Minute-Friday-4This post was written for Five Minute Friday, Link up here

I Made My Bed Today and The Dawn of a New Era

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I made my bed today.

This is a big deal. I can’t remember the last time I made my bed – I don’t even do it when I change my sheets. I have entered the Dawn of a New Era. Today is significant because it is the first full week of my children being back in school. Not only that, but it is the first full week of my youngest child being in school for a full day.

Seven hours. I now have 7 whole hours a day of no child time.

No “Mom, can you get me something to eat.”

No “Mom, can you wipe my butt?”

No “Mom, can you put on this movie.”

Seven hours when I am no longer primarily Mother and Caretaker.

Summer was hard. Not hard as in miserable or horrible, but 97% of my time was spent picking up and dropping off kids, feeding and entertaining. That only leaves 3% of my time to: run my business, clean, work on the household projects or anything else. The weekend before the first day of school I slept seven hours worth of naps. Seriously. Summer was exhausting.

I’m not much one for making or following schedules but with the amount of work pilled up over the summer months I thought I should try it. I actually made a Monday through Friday Schedule of how to most effectively use my time – but I can’t find it now.

IMMB1

Never-fear, I’m going to try to remember it, here goes:

Monday: Work in office, cook actual dinner for kids.

Tuesday: Clean house and work on home improvement projects.

Wednesday: More office work and writing.

Thursday: Volunteer and cook a real dinner again.

Friday: Be creative!

With my house a total wreck and home improvement projects piling up I’ve been stymied all summer in pursing the creative activities that I love – WRITING (Blogging world I’ve missed you), Quilting, Sewing, Crocheting, Painting, etc…) I was hindered from creating by vicious Guilt that bound me in dormancy by a dirty house and undone projects (that weren’t getting cleaned or completed anyway – but that’s what Guilt does).

No more! Dirt or no, HI projects will wait – on Fridays – I’m creating…something.

And it all started with me making my bed this morning. This is the dawn of a new era and I am so ready for it.

 

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Battle of the Stuff

Inspired by Five Minute Friday today: Belong.

It would be a sweet post if I talked about belonging or not belonging or finding a place to belong, …but honestly, my thoughts can’t help but flow in this direction:

What do I do with this trashbag full of stuff that I cleaned out of the car the other week?

Finding a place for everything to belong is a constant battle. Stuff. Everywhere. Stuff!

stuff pic

Downsizing and less stuff, blah blah blah, I’ve heard it/read it a million times – but I lived in India for 12 years and we didn’t have much but we STILL had stuff everywhere. My house was swept out at least twice a day and there was ALWAYS stuff in the way, on the floor, waiting to be put away. Stuff.

It comes in with the mailman, in school bags, on feet, from art classes, the pool… It enters in bags from Walmart, Justice, RiteAid, Target, ShopRite and the Thrift store…

Whenever I do a purge (which is often, believe me) I feel like my house is lighter somehow – but just like weightloss and those pesky calories, the Stuff creeps back.

I wonder if I were single would there be less stuff?

 

This post was written for Five Minute Friday. Link up here.5minutefriday