A snarky look at the other October holidays

I love Halloween! It has to be by far my favorite holiday. As a history buff, I love the old pagan stories, as a mom, I love visiting pumpkin patches with the kids, and my inner kiddie loves getting dressed up as a witch, which I have done every year since I was thirteen.

Even if I wasn’t a trick or treat aficionado, I’d know Halloween was lurking around the corner, because of all the stores bursting with autumn garlands, spooky makes and glittery make-up.

But this is not about Halloween, no, for the moment I decided to explore the other holidays coming up that have hidden under a pumpkin shaped shadow over the years.

October 1st – World Vegetarian day. That’s right, all you cray cray vegan get your partay on, don’t forget to bring the bean dip and gluten free nachos!

October 13th – Columbus day. Don’t be hatin on poor ole Columbus, the old boy didn’t have a Garmin or a smartphone to tell him he missed the exit.

October 22nd – National Nut day. I’ll be celebrating this crazy writer style, since I don’t care for peanuts.

October 24th – United Nations day. There will be Twinkies in the lobby till two, and everyone can join in the Macarena at 4.

October 26th – Summer is officially over in Europe. That means no celebrating, you naughty Americans you!

October 28th – St Simon and St Jude day. Halos off to you two good ole boys!

Motivation

I mentioned I’m working on the third in a series of books called Hexes in Texas. I also mentioned my procrastination and trying to get myself motivated to get back into writing it.

Know all summer long I’ve written notes on the book when ideas, characters, conflicts popped into my head, I wrote them down> I even managed to squeak out the first chapter.

Yet I don’t feel motivated to write. Why? I kept asking myself.

Then about a week ago, I was on a plane, enjoying the feeling of taking off when it came to me.

My heroine is boring!

Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great girl, who protected her people with her elfy skills. She also has plenty of conflict to keep me busy for a while.

The Problem with Astrid is that she’s a shy, introverted type.

With the first book, I didn’t have any problems writing about my witch from Canada, who spoke her mind, and when she didn’t, her cheeky English speaking cat did for her.

In the second book, I had a fire and brimstone, witchy who wasn’t afraid to snark or hex your boots off.

They were spunky, sassy, spit fiery kinda gals. Not so with Astrid.

So, how in hades to I get this girl to come out of her shell?

That, I realized, had to be my motivation.

Why Do I Procrastinate?

Why do writers procrastinate?

Think about it, we as writers are probably masters at the art of procrastination. We plan to get some writing done, then catch up on email, check our social media pages, gossip a little about what other writers are doing, compare notes on the shows from night before, you might even have a favorite game you like to play.

 

I am just as guilty of it. I don’t play games, but I do draw when I should be writing, texting is a guilty pleasure, and while I’m not a fan of watching TV, I do watch one or two shows when I’m with the kids.

 

I ask myself why? I have so many stories to write, not to mention trying to write blogs. The answer came from an article I read about motivation. There are writers and other creative types who pump out volumes of work on a regular basis. These are the motivated ones, who don’t fear failure.

That was my ‘aha’ moment. What motivates me, and what do I fear?

I seriously had to take a good look at myself. I’ve self pubbed ten stories, people generally liked them, except for the ones who left cranky reviews, so why have I’ve been dragging my heels getting back into the writers groove?

In good part it was the summer vacay and having the kiddies under foot. They are sweeties but make it hard to day dream. The other part is fear of failure. My ego and self-confidence took quite a beating after the divorce. Thankfully, it’s been coming back in small doses, so that I get up in the morning, get in my cozy chair and start cranking out ideas.

I’ve managed to blog again, better than before I think, and even jot down a few kiddie stories. Now all I have to do is open the file on my third Hexes in Texas book and get cracking!

Making Friends at 40

Making friends at 40

Making new friends was never an easy task for me. Growing up at home, I had no problem being chatty, But at school I had a tough time talking to the kids around me, even worse, having to speak when the teacher called on me, and almost fainted when I had to present in front of a class!

This shyness never went away, but did ease up once I started college. I learned to control the anxity, and in some subjects such as history, when I was excited, I gleefully debated the teacher when I knew he was wrong.

But growing older, it doesn’t seem to matter if you were the class clown, nerd or prom queen, we all have a hard time making new connections as we move from single to married, married with kids, and in my case, single with kids.

In the last couple years I realized how isolated I was, with only young kids, my pets and the never ending round of sponge bob and my little pony to talk to.

So I saw a therapist to get over my fear to talking to people. I worked through my anxiety of what people thought of me or worrying about my feet being stuck in my mouth. Once I felt somewhat confident in myself, I pushed myself to make new friends.

Luckily two friends stuck around after the divorce, the rest however did what most do during a divorce, and vanished in the wind.

Which led me back to my initial quest of meeting new people, let me just say, when all your looking for is a few friends , and single, and the people you keep meeting are guys that want wifey #2, it gets pretty bleeping frustrating!

I ended up isolating myself again, this time my kiddies with me every other week, making it feel even worse.

Then I found an online group just for women, which has helped me get to know other women in similar situations, and has helped me so much! J

The concept of sin

In my former post I mentioned my son and I get into some interesting discussions. One of them was the concept of sin.

Kenny is a fourth grader at a catholic school. So he gets his fair share of religion class, masses, and teachers telling him about sin and what he has to do to get a thumbs up at the pearly gates.

Personally, I’d done catholic schools up until college, and in the forty years on this earth, I’ve come to some conclusion on my own about the question of faith, god and the afterlife.

I also have my own view of what it means to sin, which I shared with him this morning. When you make a promise to another person, or to yourself, and you break that promise that is what I consider a sin to yourself.

Kenny listened as I explained that most people have a conscience. That conscience is the inner voice letting you when you’ve doing something good or bad. When you broke a promise, or did something you know to be wrong, it is still wrong even when no one is looking; it weighs on your soul, making you feel like a bad person. This heavy feeling grows worse when you lie about what you did.

This, I told him, is what I consider a sin to yourself. God may or may not be looking, but you know what you did. Then I told him about something that happened to me at his age that made me choose to be honest, even when it gets me into trouble. I had taken something, a cookie from another student. Now, the other student didn’t know, and when I eventually told her, she didn’t care. But I did, I felt that wrongness settle in my soul that left an impression for the rest of my life.

In the end I repeated to Kenny what Pope John Paul II said to a youth group years before he died, you don’t have to be a sinner, you can choose to be a saint.

The Dreaded Question

My favorite time of the day is in the morning, when I get to drive my kids to school. I tell them silly stories and jokes, and sometimes I get the pleasure of having a really intense discussion with my son.

Nothing thrills me more than intellectual conversations about theology, or history, or philosophy. So when I get to have one with my Kenny, I’m over the moon with happiness. Granted we need to keep most of the concepts pretty simple and straight forward, nonetheless, I love to watch his mind expand with new thoughts and possibilities with each question he asks me.

This morning, instead of jokes, I had to give him a serious talk about teasing a classmate, which turned into the topic of the dreaded question.

Before your mind races to the obvious, it is not sex. While I have no problem discussing what Sheldon on ‘The Big Bang’ calls ‘coitus’ Kenny and I have already agreed to hold off on that topic or a little while longer. Even though he understands the mechanics of the act…well, that’s a topic for another blog.

No, the real dreaded question is why I divorced his father.

Even though I know the ex-spouse told him some very unpleasant things about me at the beginning when emotions had exploded beyond reason, I have been extremely careful in answering this question. Yes, my emotions were just as wild and erratic as his. However, when I gazed into my boy’s big brown eyes, I couldn’t bring myself to counter the awful things his father said. Not because of hurting his dad, because I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting my son’s sweet little heart.

I know at some point I’ll have to explain it to him, and it will hurt all over again. It will hurt me as I rehash the past that I try so hard to accept, let go and forget about. But when I do finally explain it, it will hurt my sweet boy even more.

Comic book birthday party

 

With the beginning of school year comes the nonstop party invites. Each year seems like parents try to outdo each themselves from the previous party…there’s and the other parents. So I decided to write out several blogs on different party themes.

The birthday party for the comic book nut

Whether it’s Sheldon on The Big Bang theory, or my nine year old son, any comic book aficionado will get a kick out of it. I know because I choose this theme last year for my son and it was a big hit.

 

Step one: Plan where to have party.

Since Kenny’s birthday is in January, when it’s cold and zero chance of playing in the pool or in a bouncy house, I tend to find new places in the area to book. For his ninth I chose Whirlygig, a laser tag place around the corner. There the kids could play in the arcade as well as pretend to be there favorite superhero.

 

Step Two: Cake

This is always my favorite part, researching the perfect cake and bakeries in the area. I went with cupcakes that had different comic book characters on them so the boys could choose which they preferred. With that said, here are a few other ideas.

cake1cake2

 

Step Three: Party Favors

Not only did I get small bags full of pencils, stickers and erasers, but I also had t-shirts made up with “Kenny’s 9th bday 2014” printed on the back.

Step four: Invites

I’m way to scatterbrained for paper invites, I always forget something. One year I forgot to add my rsvp number. Another year I forgot to put the date. So now I sent out emails via eventbrite.

Step Five: The piñata

With my kids, the piñata almost trumps the cake. There’s something about taking a baseball bat to a Spiderman piñata that is both horrifying and funny. Seeing the kids get rewarded with candy to be violent obviously being the horrifying part!

Increasing Creativity

As writers we are always looking for inspiration for the next blog, or story idea. Here are a few that help me when the creative juices are running on fumes.

Go for a walk – Sometimes getting away from the routine environment helps me clear my head. My favorite place to walk is a park nearby that has paths for runners and bikers that make me feel like I’m in a forest. After a while I forget what was stressing me out and I can focus on the sound of rushing water, wind dancing though branches and leaves, even the crazy turkeys that loudly proclaim their presence.

Ambient noise – That white noise in the background, like a fan, traffic, or murmur of people talking at a coffee shop can be soothing and have a meditative effect to get you in the mood to let the ideas flow. I personally enjoy sitting on my balcony, facing the oak tree outside so I can watch the birds and squirrels play, while the sound of traffic in the distance relaxes me.

Music – I added music to this list mostly for others who say this works for them. Personally I have a hard time focusing. However a few songs beforehand can get me in the mood for whatever project I’m working on.

Attitude – Keeping positive about what your doing is important and to remember that even if you have a deadline and need to get it done so you can move on to the next one, that the mere act of writing a new blog or story is filling you with some powerful creative endorphins.

Balance – We all have deadlines and goals to achieve, but take the time to enjoy the creative process. Work on a project that is just for you, not money.

Inspiration – Last but most important, what are we writers without our muses? I find inspiration from reading articles online, talking with friends, and making silly jokes with my kids.

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Driving home from school with my kids, my son leaned over and said, “I got in trouble again.”

“Uh oh, what did you do this time?” was my response.

“I got in trouble for giving everyone around me the peace sign in mass.” He told me.

I smiled. My son attends a catholic school. And god love ‘em, his teachers really are a sweet bunch of ladies. However, I’m not always enthusiastic with their ideas of how my son should behave.

At nine, my oldest child, Kenny is cute as a button, with big twinkly brown eyes, plump cheeks and a mischievous smile that most of the girls in his class can’t resist. And like his mama, very creative.

Because I understand my son has too much of my writer brain in him, I know like me, he’s never gonna be a live-in-the-box kind of guy. He has his own ideas of how to live his life and make the people around him giggle till mama is getting another incident report.

That’s why I found this quote to be rather inspirational. I don’t have rigid expectations of others or myself, and from plenty of trial and error I’ve discovered people will assume I will act a certain way, simple because they told me so. Thankfully, I learned sooner rather than later that I don’t have to give in to their lofty views of me.

So when I read this quote to my son, we gave each other a silly gring and I said, “Don’t worry what other’s think of you, that’s their problem not your. But sweetie, do mama a solid and save the high fiving peace signs for the playground.”

 

 

The lost art of the playground

As kids, we all loved to play. I remember the thrill of running around the school yard with friends as a child, and of us coming up with silly stories for our dolls to act out. As we grew older the dolls were put away when friends got tired of watching as Barbie and Ken overcame their obstacles and fall in love. Instead of hopscotch with the gang, I retreated to a corner of the yard with a book on my lap.

Once I became lost in the stories of books instead of barbies, I began to drift away from the friendships that came with playing. Years and friendships drifted as I attended college got married and worked at my craft. I still had friends and acquaintances, women whose kids played with mine as well as other writers, yet the connection I felt as a child was gone.

Then when my daughter asked me to partake in a tea party I realized what had happened, in the need to become an adult, I pushed away the very thing that brought joy and laughter, playing with friends.

As adults we forget how important it is to take a break from our grown up world. That doesn’t always mean we have to run screaming onto the playground, but telling jokes, laughing at the absurd, throwing care to the wind and going for an unexpected car ride can be suitable play ideas for those adults who forgot their way to neverland.

As for me, I decided to put down the books and chores of an adult for a little while and start playing again, by telling silly jokes with my kids that turned into stories, having tea parties with my daughter and her dollies. I even get goofy with a few adult friends who didn’t give up on their childhood.