Beat Them!

 

Life’s challenges, that is. You can also beat eggs, rugs and illnesses. You cannot beat your children or your spouse unless you are playing a board game. Be warned – if you choose to beat your loved ones at a game, there will probably be pouting, and there may be screams and tears. Telling your spouse to “stop acting like a baby” and/or gloating over your win is uncalled for (posting about it on social media, however……)

I realize that it’s August and I am still working through July’s Daily Gratitude Challenge. I’ve skipped days, skipped challenges, done things out of order and haven’t always followed the rules/have gotten distracted and off topic and taken on completely unrelated challenges and topics. I’m slowly working through all 31 topics. I hope you stay with me while I do.

Where was I? I skipped over challenges 6&7 to list the books I’m most grateful to have read. After I posted, I realized that I’d completely missed Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (actually, I was reminded by a friend). If you’re a fan of historical fiction, romance and time travel, her series is not to be missed…and if you’re a fan of men in kilts, you should be watching the series on Starz. I have to admit that Sam Heughan didn’t quite measure up to my image of Jamie MacKenzie Fraser, but it didn’t take long for me to change my mind (excuse me, I just drooled on my keyboard).

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I know, I know – I’ve veered off topic again, and I feel guilty about it – I do! I feel guilty about skipping ahead. I feel guilty that it’s the first week in August and I haven’t made it past the first week of the July challenge. I feel guilty that I’m in the fourth paragraph and I still can’t think of a title for this post. But I’m a lapsed Jew, which means that I come by guilt naturally. For those of you who’ve never dealt with Jewish guilt, it’s very similar to Catholic guilt (same guilt different food).

I skipped over it, but I’m back to Day 6: What challenge are you most grateful for overcoming?

I think we could all agree that we’ve been dealing with a lot of challenges lately for months since 12/31/2019. 2020 is one for the record book. We’ve been faced with the challenges of learning to work and learn from home (including the joys of setting up a home office on the dining room table); teaching for non-teachers; quarantining for the highly social (thank you Zoom) and Zoom meetings for the technically challenged. I’ve decided to pick a few challenges that are a little more personal.

I’m stealing the first item on Suzie’s list – The fear of saying no. As she says “As a natural follower and people pleaser, the prospect of saying no has always been a very daunting concept…It took until I reached my 30’s fore to start saying no, and while it hasn’t always been a smooth ride I will stand up for myself when I need to.” I WISH I had learned to say no in my 30’s. It’s taken me much longer to learn the power of the other N-word, and I still struggle with using it, but I’m trying.

Being mean to myself. I don’t know about you, but the voices in my head have always been mean (What? You don’t hear voices? Umm….neither do I). I realize that teenaged girls are their own worst critic, but it took me forever to get past the “you’re fat/weird/stupid/nobody REALLY likes you” feeling. I have days when I slip, but I’ve learned that being as nice to yourself as you are to others is an important part of living my best life. Besides, weird is the new cool.

Writer’s block. I’ve been working on a middle-grade fairy tale for at least fifteen years. It’s based on a bedtime story I told the girl when she was a toddler, but (much like my daughter) it’s grown and evolved into something independent of me…and it’s finally finished (she says, crossing her fingers and spitting for luck).

My fear of rollercoasters. No, not literal rollercoasters. I’ve always been a bigger-faster-twistier is better kind of adrenaline junky. The girl was not. I blame myself – she was tall enough for Disneyland’s Matterhorn when she was 3, and she spent the entire ride calling for “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I’m happy to report she’s finally over her fear. She’s so far past her fear that her favorite ride is X2. I have to admit that it made me cry the first time.

I’m talking about my fear of my rollercoaster life. The challenges of the past few years – loss of job (not my own), health (sometimes my own) and life (again, not my own) haven’t been fun. Actually, that’s not true. The challenges of the past few years have put the f-u in fun, but somehow we’ve made it through. Every time we hit a “dip” we’ve made it out. Our road to where we are has been filled with dips and twists, climbs and drops – but we’re still here. As a stereotypical perfectionist Virgo with control issues, learning to “let go and let God” (or let go and let God/Goddess/life/the universe/the flying spaghetti monster) has been one of my most difficult lessons. I have finally learned that life is a rollercoaster, and that some days, the best you can do is get in, sit down, buckle up and throw your hands in the air – it’s more fun that way.*

*Trying not to throw up on your neighbor is important as well

What challenges are you facing? What challenges are you most proud of overcoming?

Gallery

Write Here, Write Now

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Originally posted on Twisting Suburbia:
When I started blogging, I had aspirations delusions of becoming the next Erma Bombeck. My mom and I loved Erma Bombeck, and her posts frequently caused milk (mine) or pink chablis (mom’s) to snort from…

The Stories We Tell – reblogged

Edit – I just realized that I linked but did not reblog Lisa’s post – I’ve posted her text below mine

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image courtesy of mageewp.com

Lisa Blari Fratze is a FOF (Friend of Friend) who blogs as Rebel2Revolutionary. I believe that messages come when we’re prepared to hear them, and I will be forever grateful to Aurora Culver for being a conduit and to Lisa for this important reminder.

Lisa says that I believe we all have a revolution waiting in us. It could be your calling, falling in love after a broken heart, or fighting to be the person you were created to be.

It’s hard to be the person you were created to be when the story you tell yourself is one of failure, struggle and heartbreak, or when you believe the lies Fear’s evil henchman tells you.

Or, as Lisa puts it in The Stories We Tell: Where we get into trouble as human beings is when we stop speaking our fears out loud and we start believing they are true. When we immerse ourselves in the stories our fear speaks over us, our lives begin to be shaped by them.

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The Stories we Tell:

Taylor Swift has a new album out. In the middle of a pandemic, she surprised us with some new music that she wrote in isolation. And the music sounds like it. It is melancholy, moody and somewhat whimsical.

It’s like having Christmas in July.

My favorite song on the track is called “Exile.” It’s a duet between a boy and a girl and over the course of the song you begin to see that their stories don’t match up. It’s about a break-up and the guy says: “You never gave a warning sign.”

And the girl says: “I gave so many signs.”

It’s beautiful and it’s poetic and there’s something about it. It captures the strange reality that two people can be in the exact same relationship or live through the same situation and have two very different experiences of it.

They both experienced the same series of events, but the story they tell is very different.

There is something fascinating about that.

On my fifth date with James I asked him if he was going to break my heart.

It was a bold question to ask, but it was a very deep fear of mine. Saying it out loud was part of the healing process. It allowed me to breathe.

It also allowed James to speak into that fear. There were so many times at the beginning of our relationship that I had to say my fears out loud. And every time, James spoke into them with love. He broke their power. He helped reveal that they were a story I was telling myself and not the truth.

Where we get into trouble as human beings is when we stop speaking our fears out loud and we start believing they are true. When we immerse ourselves in the stories our fear speaks over us, our lives begin to be shaped by them.

It can be a dangerous and very limiting way to live, especially when it comes to cultivating connection.

Most of the time, our fears have everything to do with our lived experience and our past.

In the context of relationships, our fears have very little to do with the person standing in front of us and more to do with the voice inside us.

The stories we tell ourselves can be powerfully transformative.

They can spur us toward connection, or they can lead us into building our lives in insolation.

Early in our marriage James and I adapted a phrase that we now use during disagreements or discussion. It’s “the story I’m telling myself” and yes, we got it from Brené Brown, OK!

When we are knee deep in a disagreement about a situation or a topic that we both feel very differently about, we’re honest that there are stories and narratives in our heads that are shaping how we think and feel.

These stories are often rooted in deep fears from our past. Sometimes, they are shallow roots from a different time or place in our relationship. More often than not, the story we are each telling ourselves in that moment is very different.

And, getting to hear that story out loud allows us to speak truth into it. It allows us to get on the same page in the same book and see life through each other’s eyes instead of simply our own.

It allows us to avoid saying or doing things that are shaped by unspoken fears and learn that there is a difference between the stories we tell ourselves and the life we desire to live.

The line between them is thin, but it’s there. And, it’s the difference between a heartbreak ballad and a love song.

 

Confessions of a Bibliophile

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image courtesy of clairewade.com

It’s the end of July, and I’ve made it through five days of July’s Daily Gratitude Challenge. The EIC says it’s because I’m a loser and is laughing because I’ve failed yet again, to finish something I’ve started.

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. The EIC is a D-bag and a liar. First of all Suzie said right at the beginning of the challenge that “you don’t have to participate every day” and “You don’t have to participate on the actual day itself to write about a topic in the list.” I’m choosing to see it as an opportunity to spend another month (or two) finding things I’m grateful for (F-k you, D-bag).

Day 6 asked us to write about a challenge we’re grateful for overcoming. It’s been a shitty couple of years, and with all the bad and sad and stress and loss, I’m not in a place where I want to talk about being an overcomer.

Day 7’s challenge was to post on travel experience. It makes me sad because I want nothing more than to be able to travel again. Well, that and see my friends and family in real life. And go dancing. I’m starting to feel a little bit like Navin Johnson, so I’ll stop listing things I’ll miss and skip to

Day 8: What books are you most grateful to have read?  This one was tough. Not because it was triggering, but because I am a voracious reader. Or used to be, before work and motherhood and life became such a huge timesuck. The best part of menopause related insomnia is that I’m reading again. I’m not a picky reader – I’ve enjoyed books from every age range and genre, and I have a hard time naming a favorite author. Well maybe Harlan Coban. Neil Gaiman?  Nora Roberts? Speaking of Nora Roberts, anyone else think her books are a collaborative effort? I love her, but I think she’s a modern day Shakespeare.

One of my favorite memories is listening to my second grade teacher reading Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White to us. I loved it so much I made my mother read it to me too. We cried together when Charlotte died, and I remember my mother was very careful to carry every “Charlotte” out of the house for years.

Anyone else ugly cry while reading Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls? Just me then. I just found out that there’s a statue of Billy and his dogs at the Idaho Falls public library. If I ever get to Idaho Falls, I’m taking a picture.

Every girl my age identified with the main character in Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Yes, I’m dating myself. My husband won’t let me date anyone else.

But let’s move past childhood and on to the books that made the greatest impact on me as a teen/adult.

1984 by George Orwell is the first book that came to mind. I don’t really think that one needs and explanation. Let’s just say that I no longer consider it a work of fiction.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Wikipedia says that Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians, and explores his interaction with and eventual transformation of Terran culture. Which makes it sound as interesting as watching paint dry. I don’t know who writes Goodreads’ summaries, but they’re my people “Stranger is a Strange land could have been titled more straightforwardly Jesus Christ in pre-hippie America.” It was my introduction to layered fiction (meaning that you could get something different out of it with each read).

The Shining by Stephen King. I read it when I was in high school. It was the first book that I couldn’t put down, but I had to because it scared me so much I could only read it during the day (yes, it was too scary to read at night, even with the lights on). The movie was disappointing (other than the always amazing Scatman Crothers as Hallorann) and I hate the sequel,  but The Shining was the best. I was a huge Stephen King fan for years. I ran out of Stephen King novels one summer and picked up

Watchers by Dean Koontz. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it (is there anyone out there who hasn’t? Why haven’t you? Go to the bookstore or library and get it right now. I mean it. Stop reading my blog, and…wait. Finish reading my post and then go get it.). ANYWAY. No spoilers. I will say only that this is the book that turned my brother into a lifelong reader, and that our mom left a lot of scrabble tiles on the floor…until our dog ate one.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I read this beautifully written story a number of years ago, and it haunts me still. Ms. Patchett’s tale of a famous opera singer and a birthday party gone horrible wrong is told in an omniscient third person style that allows us to understand and fall in love with all the characters. Sue MacGregor praised the book as being “a fine piece of writing, mixing tenderness and danger to an impressive degree.” Would it be a spoiler if I said it felt a lot like Das Boot?

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. Summers are meant for reading  by the pool or beach while drinking a frosty adult beverage. My beach reads are almost always romance novels. This is one of my favorites. The writing is sharp, the characters well developed and the romance is hot. It’s up there with the first few Stephanie Plum books.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach. While most people know him as the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I preferred Illusions. The idea that you create your own reality (holding something in your imagination and bringing it into reality was the precursor to today’s vision boards)  and that guidance comes in many forms was eye opening. I believe it spawned a whole slew of books including The Shack and The Celestine Prophecy.  I also recommend One (welcome to quantum physics) and The Bridge Across Forever.

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My last pick is Every Last One, by Anna Quindlen. I have to be honest – I’m not sure that I’m grateful for this one. I  heard great things about it – The New York Times said it was “spellbinding” and Amazon said it’s “a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear the most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel.” I picked up the audiobook at our library and listened during my 60 minute roundtrip commute.  The story is beautifully written. No, really. Her words fit together perfectly, like pieces of an exquisitely made puzzle. Beautifully written but darker, heartbreaking and more cruel than Stephen King on a good day (bad day?). I couldn’t stop listening, but it haunted me for weeks.

I lied. Not my last pick. I also have to give a shoutout to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. The story of a “perfectly normal boy” who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts is Gaiman at his best. I loooooooooovee (and hate) Neil Gaiman. I loved Stardust, American Gods, Good Omens, (I even liked Coraline), but this one is my all time favorite (until next list). I listened to The Graveyard Book (narrated by the author) during my commute. Unlike with Every Last One, I never wanted the story to end. Sequel please.

I’m the in the middle of listening to A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, but I can’t wait to read either My Booky Wook by Russel Brand or The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend.* Thanks Suzie!

So tell me, what are some of your favorite books? If you’re having a hard time finding a new book, you should check out the reading chick. I love her reviews.

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image courtesy of sos.wa.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EIC is a D-bag

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image courtesy of brightontalktherapy.com

For those of you who were disappointed/confused/irritated by my earlier post, it was my half-assed attempt at humor. With all the divisiveness/hatred/bad and sad news out there  I haven’t been feeling very funny lately, but I’m trying. It was either a silly post or putting bologna in my shoes. 

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image courtesy of quotefancy.com

I promised that I would try to blog on Tuesdays and Fridays. I was thinking of adding Sunday, which is when my EIC spoke up.

You can’t even post twice a week, what makes you think three times is a good idea?

I wrote three times last week.

But not on Tuesday or Friday.

(checks blog). Liar. I wrote on Friday.

You posted a “Woe is me, my brother’s dog died.” That’s not a post, that’s a not-so-subtle cry for attention.

Shut up.

No YOU shut up.

You’ve been quiet lately.

Did you miss me?

Hell no, I was hoping you’d died.

Well, I was hoping you’d died.

What? That doesn’t even make any sense.

You don’t make sense. 

You’re an idiot.

I know you are but what am I?

OMG. Shut up already.

As you can tell, my EIC is a two year old.

You’re a two year old.

Please be quiet.

My Evil Inner Critic is a two year old. Actually, he changes. Some days he’s two, some days he’s my age, and some days he’s my older than dirt grandmother who was always disappointed in me. Whoops. That wasn’t me, that was him again. Sneaky bastard. My grandmother was a military wife, and our house was never clean enough for her (she actually wiped the top of the door on a visit) but she loved me and taught me to garden, to cook, to fish and to paint (well, she tried). The EIC whispers that she was disappointed in me, but he’s a liar. She would love her great-granddaughter and she would get a kick out of my blog.

That’s what you tell yourself, but you’ll never know because she’s dead.

He’s a liar and a d-bag.

The Evil Inner Critic is that voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good/smart/thin enough. The one who says that you’re too old/young/tall/short/dumb to try something new. The demon who whispers that it’s too late to chase your dreams, and that even if it wasn’t, you’re a talent-less hack and that nobody likes you anyway (or maybe that’s just mine).

Nadia Bolz-Webber (founding pastor of The House For All Sinners and Saints) says that your EIC is the devil. She/they look AWESOME. I’m more spiritual than Christian, but I’m definitely going to check them out.

Peter Michaelson explains on Whywesuffer.com: The inner critic (known in psychoanalysis as the superego) is a brute force, a totalitarian tyrant, lurking in the human psyche. It’s a primitive part of us that operates with the mentality of a psychopath. It harbors a capacity for evil. (It) is a formidable inner foe, a true enemy within that is audacious and shameless. He says that we cannot ignore it, tame it or befriend it, but says that we can, however, undermine and defeat it with correct self-knowledge. 

I’ve battled the EIC for years all my life. I’ve tried different techniques to keep him quiet. Some of them work well, some less so. I’ve found that giving him a voice – letting him spew his lies and hatred without interruption works best .* As you can see from above, I don’t always follow my own advice, so I looked online for some tips.

Katherine Grugg says that her EIC is the henchman of Fear (FEAR=False Expectations Appearing Real) and that she pictures him as an evil disney sidekickHe whispers his lies into my ear, hoping that I’ll believe him. He’s as quiet as the Evil Queen’s raven in Snow White, as subtle as the Siamese Cats in The Aristocats and has the same tone of voice, at times, as Cinderella’s step-sisters. But that’s where the G-rated comparisons stop. (And I call him he because it fits better today, but he’s not restricted to gender.)

She says that her inner critic is the single greatest threat to her success as a writer, and lists ten techniques that work for her. These two are my favorite:

  • I yelled right back at this voice. My therapist told me I can tell him to shut up. He will. I owed it to myself to fight back. And I also learned that if real people say this stuff to me, I have the means to leave them.
  • I stopped comparing myself to others. My inner critic is obsessed with the success of other writers. He whispered in my ear that I should be doing this, that or the other better. This is a bunch of ca-ca. My success is mine alone. Just tell that inner critic to shut up once and for all so you can focus on being you!

She explains that If I actually listen to my inner critic, then it’s like I am putting the handcuffs on and I’m allowing him to drag me into fear. There’s no way I can be successful and listen to him at the same time. One of us has to go.

Hey Assbutt. I’m not going anywhere. Time for you to go.

*I take dictation from the EIC, writing everything he says longhand (because it’s faster) for 5 minutes or until he runs out of steam, whichever is shorter. Sometimes I laugh and shred it, sometimes I write out responses to his B.S.

 

 

Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday

It’s Tuesday (just in case you’ve lost track) which means that if I’m going to keep my promise, I need to post something.

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image courtesy of DaFont

Promise kept. Please go about your day

 

 

It’s Friday

calendar-day-friday-picture-id171144943_0[1]It’s Friday, and I promised that I would start posting on Tuesdays and Fridays. I always usually try to keep my promises, which is why I’m here.

I don’t want to be here.

I want to be at my brother’s house.

Well, not right now.

I wanted to be at my brother’s house this afternoon, but I was working (I soooooo need a time-turner/TARDIS/DeLorean).

I wanted to be at my brother’s house this afternoon, because I wanted to be there to say good-bye to my niece. To give her a lap snuggle, a belly scritch and a treat.

Not my real niece. She doesn’t let me scritch her belly, she’s too tall to sit in my lap and she’s not a huge fan of dog jerky.

My four-legged furbaby niece.

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She crossed the Rainbow Bridge today.  She’s not my dog, but she was my niece. My sweet, funny, furry, little wigglebutt of a baby girl.

The vet found a tumor in January, and gave her “at most a month.”

She gave us 6 more months of love, laughter, licks and belly sritches.

My heart is with my brother, my sister-in-law, my nephews and two legged niece. I am sad, but they are devastated.

2020 can kiss my ass.

Safe crossings Noel. We’ll see you on the other side.

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image courtesy of the compassionate gardener

 

 

To Join or Not to Join – that is the question

2015-12-20 12.42.27[1]As I said yesterday, I am trying to be a better blogger and person. The second part is proving to be more difficult than the first, because the older I get the less I like people. Yes, I am becoming the angry old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn. Which is weird, since I’m not a man, and nobody plays on my lawn (probably because the landscaping is tippy and weird). I am, however, very tempted to start beating people with my big wooden spoon (FYI spoons are deadlier than you’d think).

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But I digress (again. thanks adult onset ADHD!) – I am trying to be a better blogger. I am trying to write on a consistent/predictable basis. The plan was to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. I am well aware that today is neither. Wait. It’s not, is it? As The Doctor says, Time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey….stuff, and sometimes I get lost (especially now, in the 2975th day of our enforced staycation).

ANYWAY. Everything I’ve read/heard/seen says that it’s very important that writers join some sort of writing group. Weird, since writing is a solitary action, but okay. I joined a Facebook group. It was weird. No, really. I’ve been involved in blogging groups in the past, and this one is…”unique” (look! I found another word for “weird”).

There was a long list of rules at the top of the post. Normal things, like “be nice”, “no political posts”, “no spam or marketing”, “no running with scissors.” Then it got really strange (another synonym! I am on a roll*), and not just because I couldn’t figure out how they’d know if I was running with scissors. There was a long list of rules for the “share your latest post” thread, and they weren’t really clear. My understanding was that you were supposed to link directly to your post, but also how you were sharing it. You were supposed to tag the person whose post was above yours (because supposedly people were deleting their posts?). You were supposed to “like” the thread, but not until it closed, and then type “done” when you did it? Whaaaaaaat?

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image courtesy of guff.com

I received a message from the admin that I needed to “complete the thread or risk being removed.” I reached out to the admin with “this is my first time and I thought I was doing this correctly” but he/she/they didn’t bother with assistance, either by responding to my post or via a DM. I  read through the list of rules for a third time, corrected my mistake and moved on.

Well, I thought I’d fixed my mistake. I was tagged again this morning. The admin who couldn’t be bothered to help me had no trouble warning me that I needed  a to “complete the thread or risk being removed, the thread is now closed.”

Not to be repetitive, but….whaaaaaat?

It wasn’t until I left the group (and finished my second cup of coffee) that I realized my mistake. The admin wasn’t wondering where I share MY post (twitter, linked in, facebook, etc) they wanted members to show support for each other by sharing every post in the thread. Granted, there were only 34 posts, but….Whaaaaaaaat?

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image courtesy of foodieish.com

I am sure the group works for some people, but not for me. I am willing to read and like and comment on posts. I will share posts when they resonate, or if I think they will be of interests to my friends and followers. I am not going to share a post on what type of fish food underwater basketweavers use, but I bet it’s Velveeta cheese.

It’s nobody’s fault but my own, of course. Maybe my pre-quarantine brain would have understood the rules. I don’t have any way of knowing. That brain ran away screaming and has been replaced by version 2.0. Like many “upgrades” it’s a cheaper product with less memory and frequent “file not found” errors.

I belonged to a group many moons ago. Their rules included things like “be nice”, “no political posts” and “no running with scissors” (how do they know?). They also required that you comment on or share (“not just like”) the three posts above you in the thread. I’m pretty sure that even Brain 2.0 could understand those rules.

I miss that group almost as much as I miss my brain.

Almost.

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So tell me. Do you belong to a blogger’s group? Can I join? Do you think they’ll like me? Can I run with scissors?

*Thanks to my ADHD “synonym” and “roll” have me craving cinnamon rolls. Yumm.

 

 

 

 

I’m (very) Trying

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image courtesy of quotesgram.com

I’ve been told (well, not TOLD, exactly) that the secret to a successful blog is blogging on a regular basis. Heard. That’s the word I was looking for. I heard that a good blogger writes on a regular basis (no, I don’t remember where) – that his/her/their readers want to be able to depend on the blogger – that they/he/she (am I missing any pronouns?) need to know when the posts will come.

If you’re following me (and if you’re not, why not? don’t you like me?), you’ll know that I’m not a good blogger. You’ll know that I’m far less than consistent – that (at best) I’m an occasional blogger. I have a confession to make. Seeing that I’m not Catholic (and even if I were, churches are closed). I’ll confess here. I let work and worry and stress and the black dog derail me. I want to write on a regular basis, but there are some days the brain weasels are running so fast all I can hear is the squeak of the wheel and other days the EIC won’t shut up.

BUT (Yes, I have a big but, and not just the one that’s getting bigger thanks to the pandemic and stress eating drinking).

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I’m trying to change. I’m trying to be a better writer/friend/human. I am trying to overcome my procrastinating perfectionist tendencies. I am trying to stop ignoring the voices in my head and allow them to speak their (my?) mind – because my customer service training taught me that if you allow a person to vent, uninterrupted, eventually they will run out of steam.

 

The problem with change is twofold

  1. We don’t have any. No, really, haven’t you heard about the change shortage?
  2.  I hate change. Not coins, just change. It’s scary and hard and icky. I don’t like it.

But I’m trying. In my attempt to change, I decided to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. The problem with that (in case you haven’t noticed) is that today is Wednesday.*

So.

I’m off to a great start. But at least I’m trying.

Tomorrow (or maybe later today, or perhaps Friday) I’ll be back to July’s gratitude challenge. Today I’m grateful that the weasels oiled their wheel.

What are you grateful for?

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*Where’s The Doctor when you need him?

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image courtesy of wallpapertag.com

The Party’s Over

The-Partys-Over[1]The Pity Party, that is.

I don’t know whether it was the whine and cheese party or a getting a good night’s sleep, but today is a better day. I won’t say that I’ve made it out of the dark, but there is light at the end of the tunnel (fingers crossed that it’s not an oncoming train).

So where was I? Ah yes, the fifth of July. Yes, you read that right. No, I haven’t hit my head, nor do I have access to Hermione’s time turner, the doctor’s TARDIS or Doc Brown’s DeLorean. I am perfectly aware that it’s July 19th (aka Marilayne 255 on the COVID calendar).

But I am attempting to complete Suzie Speaks’ July Daily Gratitude Challenge. It’s July 19th, but I am only on Day 5: Who Are You Most Grateful For? I say “attempting” because at this rate I’m going to be working on this monthlong challenge until 2022. That’s ok, the tortoise wins the race.

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This one’s tough. Not because stress and loss have (once again) knocked me for a loop, but because I am grateful for so many people. I am surrounded by truly amazing people – friends and family members, neighbors and strangers who are stepping up and speaking out against hatred and injustice. Coworkers who are working long hours and risking their lives to keep others healthy. I am grateful for good police officers who are working hard to keep protestors safe, even while they are being spit on (literally and figuratively). I am grateful for the reporters who have risked life and reputation to tell the truth during a time when they are being shot with rubber bullets and accused of spreading “fake news.” I am grateful for our servicemen and women who are fighting/have fought to protect our freedoms and rights – including our right to protest.

But that was easy. Finding individuals is harder, but I’ll try. I’m grateful for:

My knight in shining armor. The man who rescued me from scarystalkerboy with a kiss that stopped my heart. It’s been 35+ years, and he’s been rescuing me ever since. No, that’s a lie (I TOLD you – I lie and swear). Over the past 35 years we’ve taken turns rescuing each other. Our life has been a rollercoaster ride, but there’s nobody I’d rather ride it with.

Our little Bug. We were perfectly happy to be DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), but we’re just as happy to be parents. It definitely helps that we got lucky. The Girl is sweet, funny, smart and loving. People think it’s because we’re good parents, but TBH we just got lucky.

My family of blood. I am lucky in that I like my family (even my “not a sister” – they are genuinely good people who are doing good things. I would like to think that we would be friends even if we weren’t related (but we’re sprawled across the country, so maybe not).

My family of heart. For those not familiar with the phrase (google keeps sending me to family heart disease), your family of heart is made up of those people who are more than friends. More than best friends. Hmmmmm. How to explain? I know! Let’s say you murder your neighbor. It’s okay, he needed killing – he’s an angry old racist asshat (no, I don’t have that neighbor. This is a work of fiction). Your best friends will provide an alibis. Your family of heart will help you hide the body.

My mother. Yes, I am perfectly aware that my mother is part of my family of blood. Or was. She gets special mention because she’s been our guardian angel for 25 years now, and she’s been working overtime.

Mostly I am thankful for Neil Gaiman. Full disclosure – I used to hate him. His work is flawless, his words perfect. I love his books. I thought Stardust (the movie) was perfect until I read Stardust (is “perfecter” a word?). American Gods is a perfect primer to all the gods, Good Omens (both the book and the series) is brilliant, Coraline is perfectly creepy and there is nothing better than The Graveyard Book read by the author. And then there’s Sandman (OMG they’re turning it into a series!)..I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll only say that if you haven’t read The Return of the Thin White Duke, you need to (I miss David Bowie). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his work on Dr. Who. The Doctor’s Wife is my all time favorite episode. I am squealy fangirl excited by the announcement that he is hoping to return to the series.

Which is my long-winded way of saying that I am a huge Gaiman Geek. So why do I hate him? Because he makes me feel inadequate. Every time I read his work, my EIC tells me “You’re no Neil Gaiman.” (He also likes to remind me that I am no Stephen King or Harlan Coban). In an effort to complete my 15 year WIP I had to give up reading anything by my favorite author.

And then I found Art Matters. It’s a sweet little call to create by Neil Gaiman which has been beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell. It’s filled with tips and stories and reminders that reading and libraries and creating art are necessary, especially when times are tough. Because “life is sometimes hard…and when things get tough, you should make good art.”

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And then he said the thing I needed to hear – the words for which I will always be grateful: “Make YOUR art. Do the stuff that only YOU can do….the one thing that you have that nobody else has is YOU. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only You can.”

I may not be Neil Gaiman, but I’m pretty sure my husband is happy that I am not. I am not Neil, or Stephen, or Harlan. I am Tracey, and I am a writer.

 

P.S. for those of you who don’t have family of heart (or need to help them) here you go:

So tell me – who are you most grateful for?