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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Making it Real

Disclaimer: This is a contemplative work, not whining, and meant mostly for my own benefit. It's not meant to hurt feelings. If that happens because of this post, we need to talk. Make an appointment.

I haven't been here much because in November I was working on my honey badger book and December has been a full out nut house around here. Now I'm starting to take stock in life. I have to figure out why my daughter (who rarely sees me) thinks I'm depressed all the time.

I'm actually a pretty even-tempered person. I don't often have huge highs or lows. It's possibly due to having a fairly controlled schedule. Wait. No, I can't say controlled. I have teenagers who always seem to need to be dragged somewhere at the last minute. For some reason I can usually control how I deal with it, though. (Some pointed muttering, a few evil looks and I'm done.) Also I get some good exercise, which helps.

I usually spend much of the day writing or doing something creative. This Christmas I drew wedding portraits for both my parents and my Hubs' and did some other artwork for people. I also sang in three choirs, one quite challenging for me as I work to learn to be a better musician. I get a kick out of creating things and performing. I've also been running three or so days a week.

Somehow at Christmas things all get thrown out of whack. The tension mounts when I have to go buy things or juggle appointments. The house is a total wreck and there is extra cooking and baking to do. The kids are on vacation and going extra places, but doing fewer chores without complaint. I suffer from a chronic lack of sleep at that season, especially on Christmas Eve, since that's when I tend to wrap all the presents since several situations combine to force last minute shopping. I dread that night-long binge wrapping necessity. The only things that make that sort of torture bearable are German radio playing carols, and watching movies as I wrap. I get to bed around 5am and the rest of the day is a hazy blank punctuated by cups of cocoa, blackmail pictures (the kind with double chins and drool), and board/card games. My girls like to sing and play instruments. They rarely allow me to sing or play with them, although I'm in a semi-professional choir. They have very rigid ideas of how they want performances to go, which don't include me, although they vociferously deny it.

This year I broke my rib in a freak plant hanging accident. Who knew climbing onto my desk to hang a plant so it wouldn't freeze outside would mean getting flattened by my rickety bookcase and knocked onto my desk chair? The resulting broken rib meant I haven't been running. So I feel like a three-legged, locoweed-afflicted cow. (As in sluggish, not high.)

Plus my out-of-town kids came to visit. I love them and enjoy being with them and playing with them, but they not only necessitate late nights and throw things out of control (like completely) with schedules and needing to be entertained, but I feel like sometimes they sort of decide who I am and then mash me into that box. Sometimes the compartment isn't very comfortable and is claustrophobic. It's a little like being a reluctant, though gratified and honored, magician's assistant who has to climb into the trunk and be submerged in a pool of piranhas.

It seems like I'm exceptionally sensitive when it comes to this daughter. I feel like a shabby excuse of a mom against her. She's gorgeous. At several months pregnant, she weighs much less and has less of a belly than I do. Plus her kids actually work hard and mind her better than mine do. And they're all little. I find myself comparing myself to her and come up lacking in every way. She has a nicer house with much less clutter. I'm betting nobody tells her regularly she has to get rid of all her crap. And I know people stay with her because I've done it several times. They have everything figured out. I feel like the ugly step sister in comparison. She's extremely talented in art and is actually working as a freelance artist. People acknowledge that she's an artist. Not the same here outside of my mom and a few others.

This year she told me I'd gotten too many presents for her children and that I should take them back. At two toys each, I thought I'd been pretty thrifty. I had fun hunting for just the right things. When she told me, I deflated like an old rubber balloon. I understood that they are trying to teach their children not to be spoiled. It just seemed like a total let-down on my end--a commentary on how I'd become so worldly or something.

It took some time to dig back out of that ditch, especially when she then told me I was always depressed around her and that I need to see a professional. I think she sees me through a kinescope of time when I'm most out of my element, when I'm off kilter, and when I'm running on fumes. It's an inaccurate frame of reference. I doubt many of my other friends feel the same way. Maybe I just felt comfortable complaining about things with her. Maybe I can't, though. Not if it makes her think I'm clinically depressed. Maybe I finally need to find some friend who'll listen and help me dig out.

She also indicated that I hadn't been there for her. She has a point there. I haven't written to her enough. And I rarely call other people, including her. There are a whole list of excuses why I don't call. It's something I can change. I should have known when she was feeling low. But being told that way made me feel like she'd kicked me in the head while I was on the ground.

So why do I do this to myself? Why do I allow myself to feel so vulnerable around her? I don't know. Maybe it's because I feel as though she should be my best friend. I raised her for 8 years alone, for crying out loud. I feel we should be able to tell each other anything, but it's not that way. She's there to take the other side of things...like most of my children. I guess because that's how it is, I feel alone on my side of the river. I wish sometimes they'd see my side of things, before I'm 95 and can't move anymore.

I feel pulled apart and twisted like an old dishrag at times. There are things my father yelled at me for when I was a child, the opposite of which I get yelled at for now as an adult. Sometimes I want to yell, "WHAT THE HECK??? This is my house. You are my children, not the other way around."

So the point of all this is to find ways of digging my own self out of the few dips along the way. I have to solve my problems on my own. I have to find ways to change the bad things and expand the good. I have to find my own roomy niche and own it. Maybe that last most of all. Self, own your niche. You are the queen of it.

Here are some things I'm working on:
*I'm doing a paint run in January. For that to happen, I have to go back to running at least three days a week.
*I'm cleaning things out and putting stuff out for donation or bulky pick-up.
*I've got to work on the back yard so we don't look like the Clampetts before they moved to Beverly Hills.
*I'm putting a book out this month (SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO).
*I'm getting back into reading the scriptures--something I slacked off about during the most important part of the year to do it.
*I'm getting back into my writing groove.
*More service.
*Better care for others.
*Put myself last more often by giving the burden away to God. My mom is my example here.
*Prayer--talking to the Person who made it all and who always cares.
*Really examining the negative thoughts I have to be certain they belong in my head and if they don't, pushing them out.
*Somehow repairing my relationship with my kids.
*I need to acknowledge better when they do something positive.
*I need to blast out of the box and not let other people jam me into one. I have unlimited value to at least one person. Don't forget that.
*And no, I'm not going to see a shrink. Why do that when prayer and a good friend can do just as much?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Filling Up Life

It's 1:19 am and I really should be in bed, giving my body time to heal from all the germs ricocheting through the air at this time of year instead of living on ecchanacia (or however you spell this dratted word). But I felt this place calling me and wanted to thank the people who come regularly to read my blog.

Thank you for coming and participating in the madness. Thank you for your patience and caring. Thank you for your loyalty.

I know how busy people are. Heck, I have, at any given time, about 14,387 different things I'm neglecting to do. Yeah. Really. I have a sickness called helium hand. Hopefully I eventually get to the things that really matter and learn to take a hard pass on the things that don't.

Let's just say that I'm glad I'm not juggling running chainsaws, lit candles, and raw eggs, because the dropping balls have hit hailstorm proportions.

I'm the membership secretary for a national writer's association. My work there is pretty undetectable since I haven't yet figured out how to do that job yet. I need a visual.
I also work for the Boy Scouts of America as a unit commissioner. Let's just say I'm not getting my commissioner's knot until I finally get the last twenty six or so visits in and recorded. My units and my ADC have forgotten I exist.
I am the women's president for my church congregation, which means I'm the busiest woman in that body of people except for the compassionate living person, who is a saint. People call me all the time to do things for them or help them out in some way. I should be doing more.
I'm also the mother of six nearly all grown children and at this time the coughchokenanacough of three and a half, which means I get to drive them lots of places and try not to look stupid in comparison to their brilliance.
I'm trying to lose about six and a half stone (I believe that means lots of pounds) by running two miles very slowly three days a week. Or I was before I broke my rib, a post I'll get to when it isn't the middle of the dang night.
I also sing Tenor in two and sometimes three choirs, complete with loads of practices, plus practicing playing various instruments and composing now and then. I draw and paint and dance and write poetry too.
I spend way too much time making an on-line presence writing for four blogs and Facebook and Twitter.

And I write books, one of which (SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO) is coming out in January (YAY! Dancing in the street). Which means I'm getting even more busy doing the marketing for that book as I work on edits for SUMMERHOUSE and finish books YEAR OF THE HONEY BADGER and MARIN AT THE WELL I was already halfway through. I have some eighteen or so books in various stages of dress or undress, plus new ideas for books queuing up all the time.

I've filled up my hours. Will I look back at them when I'm ninety and feel I've done my best to fulfill my purpose? Am I coming within stabbing distance of my potential? Am I selling my minutes for crumbs? Should I be doing something else? Not? Who knows? It's a gamble. I just hope that at the end of my life, when I kneel at my Maker's feet, that I don't look up into His incredible eyes, to hear Him say, "What have you been up to, you lazy thing? You've squandered all My gifts of minutes on meaningless fluff."

So what am I saying with all this night rambling? Besides that I'm really busy and maybe a little contemplative? Basically that life is never boring. Good night.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

THE PENNY PROJECT Review

I'm supposed to be working on a speech I'll give on Sunday. I'm supposed to be finishing off the Christmas decorating, checking lists, buying gifts, making 65 little presents to give out Sunday, or working on my honey badger book. I have a slush pile of books to read a mile long.

But Betsy Love's book THE PENNY PROJECT totally jumps the queue. I really want to finish the book I'm already reading, but something speaks to me when my friend Wes hands me the book with a quirked eyebrow.

At first I'm thinking kids can't be that continuously mean. But then I remember my sojourn on the geek throne at the front of the bus. I wore ugly, calf-length skirts at a time when everyone else wore miniskirts or jeans. Not only was I four-eyed, clumsy, plain, and lousy at math, but I had a dad who taught German and English. Every time he flunked someone (daily, it seemed like) they'd come after me. They'd corner me in the bathroom or against the lockers and beat the tar out of me. They'd call me names a dock worker would be proud of. Back then I cried. Or sat alone on the bus and memorized the dictionary. Or stared out the window and vowed to give up talking forever.

Now I know I can take them. Back then, the hatred worked like poison inside me, and I'm amazed now that I never had an ulcer. I chalk that up to ballet and books and the love of a kind Heavenly Father. Words, always my friends, always stood by to take me to Mars or Oz or Narnia or Middle Earth and dancing set my body free.

Penelope doesn't have much of an outlet. I at least had a few fellow geeks who would let me hang with them at lunch. At first Penelope has no one. But one two many distancing strategies backfire for brilliant, hunky football-player Jake and his teachers force him to tutor the ugliest, stupidest, smelliest girl in school. Instead of Lexi, his crush, he gets double helpings of Penny.

And boy do his teammates let him have it. They bully the pair so consistently that it's a wonder the teachers rarely get a clue (which is also believable). He has to become a hero and save them both. Luckily Jake is, while cocky at first, a good person at heart. He has much to learn and Penny has much to teach.

I really actually fell in love with this book. It spoke to me on an intrinsic level. I got both Jake's longing to be "in" with Lexi and the team, and the basic empathy he keeps buried until Penny's gift unearths it. Jake finally learns that outer ugliness is only skin deep and can be remedied. Inner ugliness is a blight much harder to cure.

Do yourself a favor and pick up THE PENNY PROJECT this Christmas. You'll be glad you did. You can get it here.