Archive for Uncategorized

Oy to the vey

I was invited to spend the weekend with a friend (Emily) and her family at their cabin (fancy schmancy). Her older brother brought friends along as well, so luckily I didn’t feel out of place in a family setting. Oh, except for when I made myself feel out of place by being a dork.

The first day, we went golfing. (BTW: the price of a golf game=muy ridiculoso.) Anyway, Emily was driving the golf cart and, going around a little corner, I sort of fell out. Of the golf cart. All the way out. Her brother and his friends pulled up behind us, their riotous laughter carried away by the afternoon breeze. At least they stopped to ask if I was alright. Between guffaws. Oh, did I mention that her brother is uber yummy? Yeah, his friends aren’t hard on the ol’ eyes either.

The next day–or should I say the next really, really ridiculously early morning–we went fishing. Long story short, I got the hook stuck in my hair. Emily and I had a grand time getting it out, too. Yummy Older Brother and friends had a fun time laughing at me some more.

How much embarrassment can I cram into my next weekend getaway?

Oh well. I’m hoping that since it made Hunky Boys laugh, it might bring those who read this a chuckle or two.

~ Alysia

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Knowing your limitations

I have a tendency to overload myself with chores and projects. I can write a gazillion to-do lists to fill my days, but there’s one problem: I’m not the best at following through. (Apparently I’m not the only one in my household, either – my husband has admitted that he’s the same way, but minus the list-writing part. I hope that doesn’t mean we’ll never get to the renos/maintenance our house needs…)

Sometimes I have days when I try to do too much to compensate, and others where I have very little motivation.

But it’s not always my fault that I’m inconsistent. Yesterday, for instance: The baby and I had had a rough night – not as bad as it could have been, but less sleep than usual. Waking up was difficult and even then I only had a few hours of energy before I had to face an important fact – I just couldn’t continue without arranging for a nap as soon as I could manage it.

To most people that probably sounds like nothing important in a mundane day, but as a mother who struggles with the extremes of overdoing and underperforming, it was a big deal to me. Knowing my limitation at that moment turned the day around. I can’t say it was perfect after my much-needed nap, but I didn’t beat myself up about my lack of energy as I’ve done in the past.

I guess that was my lesson of the day. (You know that saying “You learn something new every day”? Happens to be true in my life, if I’m paying attention anyway.) Wonder what today’s will be…

~ Becca

I Dare You

I’ve recently started doing something that I used to do 20 years ago and which, at that time, I would never have believed I’d ever stop doing. That’s how important it was in my life. I was certain I’d be doing it all through my college years, all through my adult life, and watching it become part of the lives of my children.

And yet, before I went to college, I quit. I thought it would only be a hiatus, of course. Just until I got settled into life away from home and life as a college student. Sadly, that point never really came for me until now. But I’ve thought about it often and even dreamt about it many times, and so I really shouldn’t be surprised that I’m doing it again, and yet, I am.

What is this mysterious venture that has me grinning like a little kid once again, and brings me such amazing joy? It’s horseback riding! Yep, I was a horse-crazy girl who was lucky enough to take riding lessons starting when I was 8 and who was even more fortunate to have parents who realized their daughter had a mad passion for horses and who supported her dream even though they had no clue where the horse mania came from. They bought me my first horse when I was 10, I think, and when I outgrew her, they bought my second horse, Dior, with whom I had a deep bond.

But, as with many horse lovers, when it came time for college, even though I had sworn just years earlier that I’d be taking Dior with me, I realized how unrealistic that was. I knew that college would be so different from high school and that I’d need time to become accustomed to a new life. A new me. And so I made the difficult decision to sell Dior to someone who’d make the time for her that she needed. I went off to college knowing I’d never be away from horses for very long.

Fast forward 20 years, 2 marriages, and 2 kids later, and here I am, taking riding lessons again. And loving every single minute of it! Maybe even more than I did when I was kid, taking for granted the weekly lessons my parents paid for, the money spent on riding pants, gloves, boots, and a helmet. Oh how I wish my parents were still paying for my obsession! But maybe it means more to me now? I know I appreciate my gorgeous new breeches more than I did when I was 10, and my boots call to me when I pass them in the garage, just begging me to put them on and go ride. Seriously!

And even though I feared that my body wouldn’t be able to handle the requirements of riding again, I’m finding that 20 years has just melted away. My new instructor tells me it’s evidence of excellent instruction when I was younger that I can still do what I was trained to do so long ago . . . . I think it may just be my pure joy at doing what I love to do once again.

This excitement has bled over into other areas in my life as well, including my writing. I was worried that resurrecting an old love would force my muse into hiding, but she seems to have found inspiration in the horses as well. I feel invigorated, sore, exuberant, and just plain HAPPY again, almost to the point that I wonder how I managed to live without horses in my life for so long.

And now my 8-year-old daughter has taken her first two riding lessons. Her teacher tells me she’s a natural. Well, at least she has a mom who totally understands her growing fixation and will encourage her to fulfill her horsey dreams.

My challenge for all of you is to revisit some old dreams you had as a younger you – whether it’s painting, writing, photography, or whatever you gave up for whatever reason and you keep telling yourself you’ll get back to it soon. Well, ‘soon’ is now! I dare you to rediscover a youthful passion and see what happens. You might just surprise yourself!

~Jennifer~

The Life of a Reluctant Drama Queen

All my life I have been accused of being a drama queen. From screaming at the top of my lungs in regards to the bugs crawling toward me in the front yard at the age of 4, to my teen years, lying to friends and family in order to make myself look better, or excuse actions, or to seem to be who they want me to be, and to simply prevent the people around me from seeing what is underneath the ‘tall tales’.

And sadly those actions have lead me to be known as the exaggerating drama queen in the group. Even if that person grew up after the birth of my first child 15 years ago. They have not stopped to see that the person I was has been gone for all of my adult life.

Its frustrating to get people to understand that most of us do change with time, and that generally there are reasons why some of us do & say the things that we say. Im very proud of myself for growing out of that person I was at 18…..and I look at all my kids & think, how can you hold things I did at that immature age against me still to this day?? Its part of the growing up process….it’s part of learning right from wrong.

I have always prided myself on a few good traits I have when dealing with the people in my life. #1….Pick your battles, if you’re not gonna win, or never get thru to that person, let it go!! If not for this rule of mine, I would forever be in a battle with my family & friends. #2….If the battle isn’t worth it, SMILE & NOD!! Let them think you get it. Its not gonna hurt anyone not knowing you disagree. #3…..When it comes to the big stuff, NOBODY wants to hear about my pain and struggle. Get over it, don’t dwell on it, let it go. Besides, don’t forget, EVERYONE around you has bigger problems & will NOT hesitate to point that out (which only pisses me off, or makes the hurt seem like more). So while, when things first hit, I turn to my family and friends for help, I am soon reminded that my pain can NEVER be as painful as theirs, and their hardships are more heartbreaking than mine.

So I bury my pain, my disappointment, my sadness, my stress….every major emotion I have had at every big moment of my life. I honestly thought that I was good at it. I thought I truly had let everything go as it hit. Sadly I have learned that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Im giving this little background so that people can see how far from a drama queen I really am. On March 3rd, 2010, by the recommendation of my doctor (due to a complete mental breakdown 2 weeks prior), I underwent a psych eval. It was the craziest (no pun intended) 3 hours of my life. I must point out here that my ‘crazy doc’ is really very good…..she can pry things out that you thought were long buried, and not even break a sweat. At my psych eval I was officially diagnosed with Severe Depression & PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This is my prize for not dealing with drama as it happens in my life…..this is my prize for trying to keep peace within my realm…..this is what happens when you let what people think of you influence your reaction to the chaos that ensues around you….this is from not being the drama queen everyone has labeled me.

As I go thru my therapy, I am hoping that you will let me share my progress thru this blog. I’m not asking for sympathy…..I’m not shooting for attention…..I’m not hoping for an instant cure by writing this down. I just need someone to share this with that isn’t my family & friends. With the exception of one person (you know who you are), I have no one that wont hold any of this against me. And I can only hope that what I share here can in some way help someone else.

Please feel free to rant with me…..If you have gone thru similar things, I would love to hear how you made it thru it……I promise to respect your opinion, and only ask that you respect mine. And please bear with me, most of the things I will be sharing I have held for many years, I’m not sure that I will always know how to express all that needs to be said.

Thank you for making me feel comfortable to share this, and future posts with you, this truly is the greatest group of women I have ever had the privilege to know! (And I promise, that wasn’t a suck up!!)

~Blessings~

~Dawn~

Blessings

There are still 318 days until Christmas 2010, but lyrics from my favourite Xmas movie popped into my head this morning:

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and the small things that begin to annoy. Dirty socks on the floor, the toddler who complains practically every morning when it’s time to change from PJs to shirt and pants – “What’s wrong with clothes?” I want to ask – and the grocery store cashier with the attitude. Then there are the major things, like an aunt’s recent diagnosis so close to the second anniversary of her father’s death from the same type of cancer…

But if I stop to count my blessings as the song counsels, I find that life is still good. I have a three-month-old who rarely needs to be rocked to sleep and often lets his mum sleep for five hours straight at night. (You don’t take sleep for granted when you have a baby.) Add in a two-year-old who’s too cute for words, especially when he’s inventing silly games with his daddy.

I can compose a much longer list as I begin to think of my parents, three sisters, niece and nephews, the bookshelf crammed full of novels (and boxes in the basement with even more reading material), the endless entertainment of TV shows past and present, a large and varied music collection that makes me dance and smile…

Once you get going with the blessings, it’s not easy to stop. But who would want to do so? This is what reminds us not to let the pet peeves and trials of life take over, and what matters more than the latest award shows, social updates, emails and message board chit-chat. Certainly more than this humble blog entry. 😉

– Becca

Mantra

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I roughly remember the first time I heard these words. It was one of the many nights I was up late with mom, waiting for dad to get home. She was up wondering where he was, what he was doing, if he was ok. I was up worried about her, wishing things could be different so she could relax and not be upset. I hated seeing her upset. I didn’t really realize what was going on with him, but she did. I don’t think she wanted us to know at first, but it was hard not to notice.

That night, she repeated these words, over and over, like a soothing breath. The words seemed almost in a different language to me as I tried to comprehend what they meant. Individually the words are simple, but together the meaning is very deep and strong.

I heard them only attached to moments that indicated addiction. I never thought the words to be something to enjoy and share. I considered them to be private, and was embarrassed to say them aloud. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on in my life, and I felt that if I said them aloud people would immediately see me differently. I started to hate the words.

Time has passed and I’m not sure what changed my heart towards these words. Perhaps I figured out that my hatred of the words was a cover of hating the disease, or perhaps I’ve just grown to accept it. Maybe it’s because I finally listened to the words, instead of just saying them. Whatever changed my mind, I’m glad.

Today, these words help me almost daily. When I feel overwhelmed, stressed, nervous, or upset I turn to these words. They help tone down my anxieties and it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can say them. I may not like how I found these words, but I’m glad I did.

-Kayla

Interference

I sometimes wonder if the only way I’ll ever be able to finish a writing project would be to maroon myself on Gilligan’s Isle, with nothing more than a pencil and a pad of paper.

You know those moments. You’re in the shower, soaping away and singing at the top of your lungs, “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall! Oh-whoa, ninety-nine bottle of beer! You, yes you, ta-yake one down, pass it around, ninety-eight…” Suddenly, you trail off, an idea forming in your mind. That awful scene you have been stumped about for ages plays about before you. You picture your characters in a whole new light. What if Janice killed Roger Rabbit? It would all make sense!

Flinging the shower curtain aside, you make your way to the computer, tripping over the dog in front of the doorway. But, he matters not- you are on a mission! You have finally figured your characters out and can move ahead in your story! You grab your furry bathrobe from the desk chair and sit down. You can hardly wait to get typing! This scene has had you stumped for months!

You giggle to yourself as your Word Processor loads. Everything is finally going to work out. Your story loads with ease and you scroll down to begin. Just as your fingers hit the keys, you hear a knock at the door. “A momentary delay!” You think to yourself.

“Mommy?” Your youngest child asks, rosy cheeks aglow. You turn to answer, your smile sagging somewhat as you notice what appears to be four packs of chewed bubble gum sticking out of her hair.

Before you can process the horror, a crash emits from the other room. Ah, it appear your other two darlings have awoken. You shoot a quick, longing glance at the computer screen and head for the living room… and just that simply, what started as a perfectly good writing session, ended without a word being typed.

Book those plane tickets! Gilligan’s Isle, here we come!

-Sara

The Writer’s Life

If you think of yourself as a writer, no time is ever wasted. Seriously. Consider any thing you do, it can all be filed as either research, inspiration, practice, or studying.

If you go for a walk, you clear your head to let the new ideas come in.

If you read any book, you study plotlines, styles, character design, descriptions.

If you read the morning paper, you may easily get an idea for a new story, or some info you can use for your current one.

If you travel, it is always a business trip. You need to research places to set yor stuff in.

If you talk to other people, you file away a variety of voices. So that your characters don’t all sound alike.

If you have a love affair, it can be counted as inspiration and research. Even if it ends badly. You should be thankful, pay the guy some royalties later: heartache often yields great art.

So being a writer is not a job, it’s a way of life. And don’t despair when you should be writing but are doing something else: It’s all part of the profession. No time is ever wasted. And if it is really in you, the time to do nothing else, but write write write, will eventually come. After you had your fill of inspiration, research, study and practice. Or inbetween. Or now. Or later.

Claudia

Harbingers of Spring

Forget Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow – I’ve got something better to let me know that spring is on its way. My toes.  My pink toenails, to be more precise.

 You see, even though winters here in Houston aren’t nearly as rough as they are in other parts of the world (Buffalo, NY, anyone?), natives like myself don’t handle the cold terribly well.  I was born to withstand the heat and humidity of a subtropical climate, NOT be bundled up for weeks on end with temps in the 30s and 40s and windchills even lower. I know, some of you are wishing for such balmy winter weather, but  my family and I have been going ever so slightly insane with the colder-than-normal winter we’ve had here.

 In late October we’re wishing for some cooler weather because we see the color changes happening in other places, and we’d like to see some changes too. And then in November and December the colder weather is welcome because it helps to make the holiday season that much more special. A little bit of snow helps this as well (got that December 4th, I think).

 But after Christmas? I’m more than ready for the cold and dreary weather to be a distant memory – out with the old and in with the new and all that, right?

 Unfortunately, this year has been different and the colder stuff lingered. It may not have been the coldest winter here ever, but it sure felt that way.

 But the past few days have seen a wonderful trend that I hope sticks around for a while – warmer temperatures and sunny skies. It’s amazing how much happier everyone seems to be around here!

 And that’s where my toes come in – I’m back to wearing flip flops, after what seems like forever of having to stuff my poor feet in socks and boots. My feet are so very happy! And in celebration of that happiness, I painted my toenails pink. Not just pink, but BRIGHT pink. It’s my way of telling myself, “You’ve survived winter again and spring is clearly on its way.”

 So, what are YOUR harbingers of spring? What around you tells you that the dreary days of winter are almost over and hope is just around the corner, full of flowers, sunshine, and hearts?

 Jennifer

 PS – My apologies to those of you who may still be mired in the muck of winter and who might be horribly offended by the idea of my pink and exposed toes. Just consider this my way of letting you know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Plot-a-phobic

I have a confession to make. I am afraid to plot.

Stuffed inside a rolling, manila-colored filing cabinet in the back corner of my room, lies a giant tattered folder, its contents huddled together quietly within their dark quarters. Every great once in awhile, when I want a laugh, or am feeling frisky, I dig the folder out to browse through its contents. My Idea Folder.

From a simple sentence scratched onto a torn napkin to neatly typed pages, the folder contains random thoughts that have popped into my head over the years. I had always meant for them to become actual stories, but, many, as they say, never made it past the drawing board.

That has always been my biggest problem with writing. The ideas come with ease, the discipline and motivation to turn them into a story is the tricky part. A character or scene will pop into my head- sometimes, several scenes, and I will madly type, falling in love with what I have. On a good day, I’ll have several chapters finished before I even know it. Then, I stall. I start to brainstorm possible ideas for the continuation of the story. What will the conflicts be? How will they be resolved? Will she kiss her next-door neighbor? Who dunnit?

Before long, the questions become over-whelming. I start to second-guess myself. “I like what I have written- what if I lead myself down a tangent that turns out to be crap? I don’t want to have to scrap my initial idea!” I think. “I love these characters!” And, just like that, my great idea finds its way into the shadowed confines of the Idea Folder.

I live in fear of plotting. I walk down the sidewalk, hiding my face, afraid of running into a former English teacher. They did their jobs, after all. I need to figure out how to do mine! I must conquer my Plot-a-Phobia!

-Sara

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