Friday, December 19, 2008

"Thank You God For All The Blessings I Have, and All The Blessings I Am Receiving"

The quote above is my own sort of mantra. I say it when I get up in the morning before my feet hit the carpet and I say it before my head lands on the pillow when I go to bed at night.

I found that little gem in a book called "Spiritual Marketing" by Dr. Joe Vitale. If you have the opportunity, whether you are into marketing or not, I highly recommend reading it, several times. It was a quote that resonated with me and I feel immense gratitude when I say it, twice a day. It forces me to stop, think and reflect on what is truly important in my life and be thankful for all of it.

The reason I am sharing this with you, is this is the season of Thanks, and of Giving. In this time and space in all of our lives, it is not the presents under the tree that will be important this holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. We all have begun to take a moment and decide what is truly important in our lives, and it isn't accumulating more "stuff".

I received a gift on Tuesday evening that was "priceless", as the commercial says.

It was a snowy evening and I had been trying to reach LOML (Love of My Life), QH, for most of that day. I drove to work and knew that with the snow and the wind and the way the roads were shaping up, it was going to be a bad commute home for my honey. I wanted to let him know that there were several cars in the ditches on the way to work, and that the snow was sticking to the roads as the temperatures dropped dramatically. We went from 38 degrees ABOVE ZERO, and would be at MINUS 3 degrees before the end of the night.

Minnesota weather, gotta love it! :)

So, after several tries at the office and on his cell, I thought he might be over helping his Dad plow out, and thought, "I'll call him later," and went about working. Around 8:00 pm, I decided I would try one more time at home and if he wasn't there, his Mom & Dad's house. I was sitting at the table where we trim and inspect parts when I saw QH standing next to me!

"Hi, honey! What are you doing here?" I was thrilled, and felt like the good old LOA (Law of Attraction) was really working!! I had him on my mind all night and here he was!

"I brought you a present!" He said, and I saw a little sparkle in his eye. I followed him out into the warehouse and when I turned the corner...

There he stood, in his Navy Blues, and it took a few seconds for my brain to register it...

My son, Alex, home for Christmas!! And two days early!!!

Or so I thought! Turns out, he and QH and my dear brother (Kudos, to Andy for not letting the secret out!!), had been conspiring about this since the weekend before Thanksgiving when QH and I took Thanksgiving dinner to Illinois for Alex.

"It's Not Thursday!" I blurted out. What the hell was wrong with me? My son is here!! He's Home!!!

"Did I say Thursday? I meant Tuesday!" he said, grinning. I went over and hugged and hugged him and kissed him and hugged him. Was this real? Is he really here? God, if this is a dream, please don't let me wake up yet!!

I looked behind him, and there was QH, and I could see he was trying to look away at us, and I think I saw a tear, but that could have been something in his eyes (like the size of a boulder !) ;)

I went around the plant and introduced him to the other people on my shift, and then they were off to my parents house to give them a heart attack. I hugged QH and said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," and he was gone with Alex out the door.

I made my way back to the clean room, and in the darkness of the warehouse, the tears began to stream down my face. The shock had passed, and the waterworks were going. I looked up and said, "Thank you God for all the Blessings I have and all the Blessings I am receiving." I felt a part of my heart open up, and felt love. Pure love. And Gratitude.

I wiped the tears, blew my nose and went back to work. I knew my Mom would be calling soon, and I was right. The joy in her voice was perfect, and I knew my Dad would be more cheerful now that his "buddy" was back in town. We tried to surprise my sister, but Dad let the secret slip, but that's ok. She was excited to see him on Thursday. Cannon got to see him on Wednesday, and remembered who he was, and was a little shy at first, but by the end of the day, he was Alex's shadow.

It's the best Christmas present I ever received, and I am in awe of QH for pulling it off. The thoughtfulness, the love, he demonstrated, I have no words.

All I know, is that man deserves a Harley!! Some way, some how, I am going to make that dream manifest.

With a big red bow! And then I will be standing back with a "boulder" in my eyes!!

Until then, he has my heart, my love, my undying gratitude.

Thanks, honey.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Welcome to the Revolution

It's an interesting time, is it not?

Our economy is in a deep recession, and they just admitted it this week. The government rushed to bail out the banks, but they are making the auto makers beg for relief. There were over 600,000 jobs lost during the month of November alone, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

This is why I want to be self-employed. I don't want to worry about a paycheck. I want to be my own boss. I want to work the hours I want to work, as hard as I want to work them (I have one hell of a work ethic, ask anyone who knows me). I want to live my life, no worries about the bills getting paid and just have some freaking FUN for a change!!

FREEDOM!!

More than anything, I want freedom.
Freedom from the drive to work and back.
Freedom from the hassle of putting up with crap from people who have a higher position than you and never hesitate to remind you of that.
Freedom from worrying about whether I have a job or not when things get slow.
Freedom from depending on an employer to give me a paycheck every two weeks.

What set me off on this thread? A blog post by Pat O'Bryan, an entrepeneur who has a new book out on Amazon.com. I like his style. I like what he has to say, and he is living the lifestyle to which I would like to become accustomed. If you want to check it out, here's the link: http://www.patobryan.com/blog/?p=34

All through the election, they preached to us about CHANGE. Changes are happening right now, but not good changes. Too many people are losing what they have worked their asses off all of their lives to get: jobs, homes, and that wonderful 401(k) that isn't worth the paper it's printed on, not to mention the stocks that went into the toilet a few weeks ago.

Christmas is coming and nobody can afford it.

What is it going to take before we as a country stand up and say "NO MORE!!"

Where is OUR economic bailout?

I say we not have to pay taxes for the next 4 years. That'll boost the economy!

Have all of those CEOs who put us in this financial meltdown pay back all the bonuses they received for running their businesses into the ground. Have the thieves and the scammers pay everything back and then some to the Social Security fund.

Or better yet, find those millions and millions of dollars we all sent in to help those out after 9/11. Where did that money go? Inquiring minds want to know.

Because I think we are all just pissed and we are not going to take it anymore. Call your senators, your congress people, your state representatives, your governor in your state and in the federal system too.

Remind them, they work for US.

WELCOME TO THE REVOLUTION!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Announcing NaNoWriMo 2008 Winner Laura M. Crawford


I did it!!

My official word count is (drum roll, please):


50,664


I received my certificate, which I promptly filled out and saved and printed. I worked my tail off to get this finished. I am truly proud of myself, and will continue with this novel, edit it, and hopefully find a publisher for it. If no one wants to publish it then I will turn it into a book, and an ebook, and sell or give it away.


The thing about doing something this challenging is that it really shows you what you are capable of. I did screw off a bit, and I did not write every single day, and initially I did not reach my goal of finishing by November 14th, but I knew I did not want to let another year pass by without finishing in the winner's circle.


Now I'm off to finish another of my goals. Yes, it's writing related. I want to establish my web sites, get my multiple streams of income going, and be able to reach that place of financial freedom, where I can do what I want, work as a writer, and be able to work at home. It's more than just making money, it's making a life. And since life is so short, and death is so long, I want to make the most of my life and enjoy as much of it as I can.


After being able to accomplish this feat of writing 50,664 words in less than 30 days, there is no limit to what I can do.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We had Thanksgiving dinner last weekend with my son, Alex, in Illinois. We are still eating the leftovers.

We went to my parents house this morning for traditional turkey dinner, then went to QH's parents. I didn't have the space to eat again. I'm still full and it's almost 11pm!! But that's fine, I won't have to cook all week! :)

The best part was spending the time with my family and getting caught up on what everyone has been up to. We also have a houseguest, QH's son, is staying with us this weekend.

I am still doing the NaNoWriMo novel, and hope to be at the finish line before Sunday night. I will keep you posted. My current word count stands at:

23,426 words

I will count my blessings, and I hope you all do the same and have a great day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

We're leaving tomorrow...

For Illinois. I am still cooking, mainly because I was lazy and slept last night. I ran around town today getting the last minute stuff, and also reprioritizing (whew that's a big word!), some of my lists. I decided there were things I was not going to get done, some things that could wait, and a few that just were not that important to begin with. I never used to do that. I would just run my butt off trying to do all of it, and failing miserably. Now, I find that my time is much more precious, and I'm not getting a medal if I accomplish all of that anyway.

Enlightenment is wonderful, isn't it?

I am still doing the NaNoWriMo novel, and I have not had time to write anything except grocery and to do lists for the last few days, but I will finish, before the deadline. I know I was trying to have everything said and done by November 14, but I had to reprioritize my life a bit (love that word!).

I am very excited to be seeing Alex again. I am wondering how much he has changed in the last couple of months. I know this won't be such a long stretch in seeing him, since he will be home around December 19, 2008. We don't know for how long, yet, but I have learned to go with the flow. I can't drive myself nuts over things I have no control over. It's a huge waste of time and energy, and I am way too tired right now to do that!

I will log back in on Monday, and I hope you all have a great weekend. And please say a few prayers the weather is going to be nice for our trip. Thanks a lot!

And for those who are still doing NaNo, keep on writing!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaNo Update-November 17, 2008

I wish I could say that I am finished as planned with my NaNoWriMo novel this year. My date was November 14, 2008, but I have been a bit busy and I am almost halfway there. My current word count is:

22,974

I will finish this week. I am bound and determined, and I will be cooking this week to take Thanksgiving dinner to my son, Alex, in Illinois. He is unable to come home for Thanksgiving, but he doesn't have duty this coming weekend, so we are going to him. I think it will be fun, and I am sure looking forward to seeing him again. I know he has about 30 days and he will be home for Christmas, which is coming a lot faster than I thought. But first things first.

I am also proud to announce that I have launched my ezine "Recession Rescue". I also started a Yahoo! Group with the same name. If you are interested in joining, please send me an email at recessionrescue@yahoo.com. It is a great group and I hope to help people save money, save time and save their sanity during these challenging economic times. I have a few other things related to the ezine in the works and will announce them to everyone once they are ready. In the meantime, I welcome you all to come and check it out and contribute!

Now, back to work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update--November 10, 2008

Hello, Everyone!

In my last update I wrote 8,305 words. I wrote later that night and added 2,320 more words. On November 6, 2008, I wrote a measly 670 words which brought my grand total to 11,295. Not a bad start.

On Saturday, November 8, 2008, I beat my previous personal best. I wrote 8,832 words, in one day!!! That brings my grand total up to 20,127 words. I am more than halfway there.

I decided to go to bed early last night. I was pretty tired. I made banana bread all day, and cooked dinner. It was cold and windy and we had some snow flurries, so it was the perfect day to stay inside and warm up the oven and cook. We spent Saturday, during the day, taking down my gazebo for the winter, putting the cushions for the patio chairs in the storeroom, and we put plastic on the windows inside the house to keep the cold drafts from coming in. We do this every year and it helps a lot with conserving heat. We do have one window above the sink we don't put plastic on, so if we need to get some fresh air into the house, we have that and the door.

I am getting excited to finish NaNoWriMo, but I am more excited to be going to Illinois on November 21, 2008 to see my son. We will be taking Thanksgiving to him this year, since he won't be able to make it home. I have a smoked turkey on order, and will make cheesy potatoes, blueberry cheesecake bars, and bring bread and butter along with a few other goodies from me and Grandma. I can't believe how fast this year has gone by, can you?

I will keep you all posted with any news, but in the meantime, stay warm and keep on writing!

Monday, November 03, 2008

NaNo Update--November 3, 2008

I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful weather. It's supposed to hit over 70 degrees this afternoon. I want to play hookey from work, but I won't.

This was a great weekend. We went to a Halloween party at our friends' house and it was fun. We were home by the witching hour, and we spent all of yesterday outside doing cleaning and yard work. I didn't start my NaNoWriMo novel until last night and I reached my personal best for daily word count. Drum roll please...

8,305 words!!

I can hear QH now. He will be saying I should have at least 2 novels a month written at that pace! Don't be surprised to find me chained to my computer, ha, ha, ha!

The story came out of nowhere and it was more interesting than the one I outlined. I thought I should go with it. I call it "Red's Revenge" and it is a spin on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. I have an excerpt posted on my author site on the NaNoWriMo page. Just look up Laura Crawford.

I just updated my Novel Info, so check it out and let me know what you think. I put it in the Horror & Thriller category, because I think that was a better fit than Mystery & Suspense. I could be wrong.

I have to get things done around here, and head off to work I will update my word count tomorrow.

In the meantime, go out and vote tomorrow, and I hope you are all well rested from gaining your hour of sleep from the time change this weekend.

And enjoy the weather!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween & Let's Get Ready to Write!!


Happy Halloween, everybody!

It looks like the weather is going to cooperate with us this year. Temps are expected to be in the 60's, no blizzards, no precipitation of any kind, so the little ghouls and goblins should have a great time and come home with a huge bag of goodies.

I'm remembering how much fun I had taking my son, Alex, around to trick-or-treat when he was little. I wasn't really into the spirit of it this year, because he's still in Illinois, serving our country in the Navy. Last night I headed to Walmart because our coffee maker died and we needed a new one, and I ended up buying a table cloth, a witch hat, a candy bowl and a bag of candy and some treat bags. We don't usually get trick-or-treaters here, we're too far out of town, but my nephew, Cannon, is supposed to visit. He's Remy the Rat from the movie "Ratatouille". I can't wait to see him in his costume.

Or the pictures, is what I should say. I have to work tonight. Dangit. That's ok, Uncle Dude will be here.

The second part of my title is referring to National Novel Writing Month, which kicks off tonight at midnight. My goal this year is to be finished in 14 days, which is doable for me, I just have to double my daily word count, which is on average 2,000 words per day. I have my loose outline ready, just basically my premise and a few character names, and I am ready to write!

I also have a goal to take this year's novel to a publisher. I want to do something with the other novels I wrote that I still have lurking in my hard drive and on my backup disk. I haven't decided if I am going to combine them into one novel or try and rewrite them into a series. I'll see how things go this year and decide then.

I have also joined a new group, started by my good friend, Dorothy Thompson. She is moderator of "The Writing Life" writing group and owner and operator of her own online book promotion business called Pump Up Your Book Promotion. She has created a blog writing group to help writers who have blogs to up their SEO (Search Engine Optimization), by having the members visit each other's blogs and leave comments. It will help all of us increase our traffic to our blogs, our websites and hopefully, create more clients and opportunities for all of us. The group is called "PumpUpYourBlog" and it's through Yahoo! Groups. Here's the link: pumpupyourblog@yahoogroups.com.

One of the rules of membership is we have to blog at least 3 times a week. So you will all be hearing from me a lot more. Now, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, that depends on what I write about. LOL!! Just kidding.

One thing I do want to say, please get out and vote on Tuesday.
I know we are all sick and tired of the election coverage, the negative campaign ads, the lies and empty promises made by the candidates and their opponents, but this is more important this election year than in any other.

I don't care which party you are with, or what issues you would like to see changed, but it is our civic duty to vote. When you look back in history and see what women went through just to fight for the right to vote, you will make every effort, wait in any line for any length of time to vote.

We are privileged and blessed in this country beyond reason, and our men and women in our armed services fight everyday for our freedoms. Don't disrespect their sacrifices, their families sacrifices, by not making every effort to vote your conscience.

If you aren't registered yet to vote, there is still time, depending on what state you live in. You can check it out at JustVote.org.

Have a great Halloween and a great weekend! I'll post my word count progress through the next couple of weeks and if anyone else is participating for NaNoWriMo, comment here and we can cheer each other on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Change your story and you can change your life


"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."— Epicurus

The quote above I got from my friend and fellow writer, Sandy Lender. It was on her blog this morning, http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com/, and it really clarified for me all the things I have been going through this week.

As all of you know, I have been studying the Law of Attraction and how it works and trying to apply it in my life. It all started with the DVD, "The Secret", a film that has several spiritual teachers telling you how to change your thinking and change your life. It is highly recommended, but it doesn't seem to go far enough in explaining how the Law works and what you specifically need to do to make it work in your life. So, my research for a book I'm working on, has led me to several of the "teachers" and their websites, products, etc., like Joe Vitale, Bob Proctor, and Mike Dooley.

Beth Ann Erickson, my fellow writing friend, mentor/coach, and publisher of Filbert Publishing, informed me that there was a movie made with Jerry and Esther Hicks that was called "The Secret" and produced by Rhonda Byrne. The version I have is the 2nd one. What happened that the first version was redone, why Jerry and Esther were taken out, etc. I have no idea. I would love to see it and compare the two and have not been able to find it. But I always remembered her telling me that the whole Law of Attraction thing started with the Hickses.

So, in my research, I purchased a book by Jerry and Esther called "Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning how to attract Wealth, Health, and Happiness". I started reading it a few days ago, and included was a CD of one of the workshops they held in 2007. I listened to it and read most of the book and it has been very clear what the Law of Attraction is, what it does, how it works, and how to change your life for the better. It clarified for me all the things I needed to know.

Why does this matter and why should you care? Well, I believe that knowledge is power and that we all have the ability to change our lives for the better, regardless of the circumstances. Yes, we human beings have a HUGE control issue. We can't control the weather, the government agencies that wreak havoc on our lives and our stock market, what other people are going to say or do, or who will end up winning an election (we can vote, but we have no control over the results once we have done our part. That's my point.) I believe that if I have this knowledge and it is helpful to you, then to not share it would go against every fiber of my being. I'm a helper. Always have been, always will be. It's who I am.

This week was especially challenging. Without going into too much detail, I had a meltdown at work. I am one of those people who feel great stress and just pile it on until I finally collapse. Not healthy, not productive and really embarrassing when you burst into tears, especially when you can't verbalize what is wrong, why you are crying and how you feel. Unfortunately, I was on the phone during my break with QH to see how things were going. He asked me a few questions and in my overwrought state, it sounded in my head like he was interrogating me. He wasn't. What he asked and what it sounded like in my head were two different things. Not his fault at all.

Let me back up. That particular day, I woke up late, had to go do my errands which amounted to me running around in the car all day with my nephew. I barely had time to feed him, eat something myself, and then rush off to work. I was tired, frazzled, had a killer headache from lack of food and caffeine, and had a ton of stress and worry piled on top. So, he could have said, "Do you think it's going to rain?" and I would have burst into tears. I was just at that point. I also felt that I had accomplished NOTHING that day, but when I wrote it all down, I realized I had actually done quite a bit. But I was focusing on what I DIDN'T GET DONE.

He felt bad for making me cry. I felt bad because I made him feel bad. He didn't know what the hell to think and frankly, neither did I. I just had to cry it out. And I had some explaining to do. I wrote it all out in a 13 page document that I gave to him spelling out everything and that it wasn't him, it was me.

The questions he asked me had to do with my writing sites and in my female DNA, I assumed that he just knew and why do I have to tell you, you should have already read my mind!! Yes, I am a woman and I admitted I was wrong for expecting him to be a mind reader.

I'm sure the feminists will send me hate email.
Bring it on.

I did some reading when I got home and there was a part in that book and on the CD that Esther says, "If you keep telling the same story, over and over and over again, you're going to keep attracting those same things. If you want to change your life, you have to change your story." (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what I got out of it.)

I decided that, yes, this has been the problem. When I was lonely and wanted someone to share my life with, I was ready to change my life. I wanted someone who would make me laugh, who would love me and my son, and vice versa. I wanted someone responsible, who had a job, who would be there for all the things good, bad and ugly and not hide in a bottle when the crap hit the fan. Age was not a preference.(He's older). Looks were not a preference.(He is the most handsome man I have ever met). I then declared what I wanted and could you make it soon, please? Two weeks later, I met the Love of my Life and the rest is history, as they say.

So, what did I do then that I have such a hard time doing now? Why can't I manifest the things I want like I did 14 years ago? What am I doing wrong?

Back then, I changed my story. I decided I didn't want my life to be the way "it is", I wanted it be what I wanted it "to be". And I surrendered the "how" it would come into my life. I left that up to God. I let it go. I also felt it in my heart and soul that even if it didn't happen, I would be ok. I would live my life to the fullest anyway and be the best person, mother, writer I could be. But I felt good at the time when I was asking. I wasn't asking out of desperation or some neurotic fear of becoming an old maid. I think that was the key.

So, I'm changing my story. I don't want things to stay the way they are,... well, I want to keep all the good things: QH, my son, my writing career, my family and friends, etc. But I want to change drastically what is coming into my life. I want more freedom. I want both of us to have financial freedom. I want to be able to go places and see things and do things and not worry about money. I want more money put away for retirement, for Alex's future and just for a rainy day. And I want more than anything to have fun and share that with QH, the rest of our lives.

I want to live happily ever after. :)

I still have a few things I need to add in there, and QH needs to put his input in for the things we want together, but since I'm a writer, I think I have a good jump on imagining my life to be better. And since life is a work in progress anyway, the story will change as my feelings change.

And in this season of change, I think it's more than appropriate that I start this process now. The colors this year have been spectacular, as the photo above is evidence. I love this time of year. I love the fall colors, the pumpkins, Halloween, the nip in the air, and the bugs going away most of all. There is just that feeling I get in the fall I feel in my deepest core and I can't explain it any better than that, but it moves me.

So, think about it. What do you want to change in your story?
Comment below and let me know.

And enjoy the colors while you can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don't Keep Feeding the Fear

The news has not been good this week. Financial experts on Wall Street are predicting it will get worse before it gets better.

In the meantime, our federal government is attempting to pass a bailout package that will get this country's financial life recusitated, but that's only if they can AGREE on a package. Once the cameras were off, the gloves were off and it broke down into a shouting match. This is not good news for any of us.

Today, they are looking at all the options, trying to figure out a solution to this problem, to keep us from this country's worst financial disaster since the crash of 1929. With all the political backlashing and finger pointing going on, I don't have high hopes that they will come to a speedy and agreeable solution. In the end, we the people will be screwed royally, once again.

Aren't you all getting tired of this? On the media, there is never any good news. I am getting to the point I can't watch television anymore. If there isn't gloom and doom of the economy going in the toilet, then there is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disasters from the hurricanes this year, etc.

I am not suggesting we all stick our heads in the sand and hope it goes away. That doesn't solve anything, and that manner of dealing with the problems our country is facing is how we all got in this mess in the first place! We can't look backwards and say, "Oh, it was this and this that caused this to happen." Sure, we might want to learn from this experience, but now is not the time to analyze who or what is responsible for this mess.

We all need to stop feeding the fear. The more we listen to this crap, all this negativity, all the fear, all the panic, the sky is falling, blah, blah, blah, the more this will continue. We need to stop and look at what is working. We need to take inventory of what we DO HAVE, not what we lost. We need to help each other through this, or we will never get past this.

But most of all, we need to shut off the television. Be informed, yes, but don't keep listening to the point you think the end of the world is coming and you start boarding up your windows and doors. If you need to find some way to ease the panic, here are a few suggestions:

*Be grateful. List all the things you have and all the people in your life you are grateful for. List your health, if you are in decent health, the fact you woke up this morning is a gift in itself. Start from there.

*Stock up on provisions, if you can. If you feel stocking up on canned goods and non-perishable items in your pantry will ease your anxiety, go ahead. Sometimes feeling prepared for any disaster will ease that feeling of no control.

*Find some "good news" to read or listen to each day. Check out Happy News Headlines, a newsletter that gives you only "happy news". Find articles and movies that inspire you. Watch "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, or "The Secret". Find ways to make you feel more positive and enlightened.

*Pray. I don't go to church, but I believe in God. With God all things are possible. I pray all the time, and ask him to help all of us through this. If you aren't religious, then meditate and let go all the negative feelings and visualize the positive feelings and events you want to see happen.

*Help someone else. If you can, find ways to help someone who is in a worse spot than you are. Volunteer. Give a dollar or two to your favorite charity. Donate blood. Clean out your closets and give the stuff you don't need or use anymore to GoodWill or the Salvation Army. When you give, you get so much in return. And it just feels good.

My way of dealing with crisis is to cook. I made tacos, and tater tot casserole, and apple crisp. I also went to the meat market and stocked our freezer with meat. I got the laundry done, and will be cleaning my house, my closets, and my garage and purging out the stuff I don't need or use so someone else can use it.

I also write. Writing has been my salvation through all the good times and the hard times I have been through in my life. I pour out my heart on the page or the screen and it lifts a huge weight from my shoulders. Therapy in a notebook that cost me $1.00 at Wal-Mart. That's affordable. And the pay off I get is priceless.

I also watch a lot of movies. Funny movies, or inspirational movies (Rudy, Rocky, Lord of the Rings), and lose myself in a few hours from what's going on. I also get good ideas from them that helps feed my creativity and my imagination.

But most of all, I remember that "This too, shall pass."

How do you deal with hard times? What works for you? Comment and share. Who knows, you might help someone else, but most importantly, you will be helping yourself.

And remember we can get through this together.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good Things Happen In Threes


I know I might be stretching a bit here, but I am going to look for any signs of light in the darkness. Today we saw three little rays of light break through.

First, today after just over a year, the 35W Bridge opened to traffic. For those of you who don't know, on August 1, 2007, the original bridge collapsed into the river killing 13 people and wounding 145 more. It was devastating on many levels and the fact it opened TODAY, is a miracle in itself. The projected date was sometime in December. This means we have healed in some ways, putting that tragic chapter behind us and hopefully the lessons learned from that will prevent it from happening again. For those who survived and lost loved ones, I hope this helps bring some closure and some peace. Not only will this have an emotional impact, but an economic impact on those businesses that suffered because of the bridge being out. I hope this helps everyone down the line and brings all of us together.


Second, the stock market rebounded nearly all the points it lost yesterday. How's that for a great sign? While it doesn't cure the ongoing problem, there is a nice ray of light coming from there that this too shall pass.

Last, my new "friend" on MySpace, Diablo Cody, accepted my invitation to be a friend and she blogged twice yesterday and once today. I had been wondering what happened to her, thinking she must be super busy writing for her new gig with none other than Mr. Steven Spielberg. But she let us know she is still around, still kicking and put a few of her "haters" in their place. She's spirited, that's for sure, and that's what I like about her. No bullshit. Go to MySpace and search out her blog and subscribe. She's entertaining and original, and she's a "Minnesota Girl", after all. It was like a breath of fresh air, much needed and refreshing.

I hope you all find the little rays of hope that will get you through the day, in any way you can. I look for my own personal "lucky signs": pennies on the ground, a soaring bald eagle (must be the Native American in me), a good laugh, a great quotation that sums up what I seem to be searching for (the words to express how I feel), and another chapter completed on one of my many book projects.

What are your "lucky signs"? Share them with me.

And keep the hope alive, any way you can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nightmare on Wall Street

I'm not one of those financial wizards that watch the ticker tape go by on CNN to see how my stocks are doing. I'm a writer for crying out loud. I stick to what I know and what I'm good at, and that's trying to offer hope and entertainment in the darkest of days.

I'm interested in the markets for a few reasons, though, and when they show the grim numbers and it makes the news as the top story, over the election and the 2 wars we are in, it gets my attention. I work at a plastics factory to pay the bills. Plastics is affected by the oil prices. QH is in the housing construction field and this winter is looking kind of bleak for new construction. I won't rehash the news from today, we all know what it is, but I want to offer a bit of hope.

If this is truly the bottom, we need to celebrate.

Yes, you read that correctly, CELEBRATE!!

This year has involved me learning the Law of Attraction (I can hear QH groaning right now, please bear with me, honey). What you think about, you attract, whether you want it or not. Why? You put all of your energy behind it and when you think it's the end of the world, what happens? The floor falls out beneath you. So, logically, if this is the bottom, then we may bounce for a little bit up and down, but we will eventually climb out of this and rebound.

"What goes up, must come down," as Newton found out with the apple. We have been heading down, with all of the "experts" predicting the worst was yet to come. Today was that day. It's all up from here.

How can I be so "positive" when the rest of the world is going to hell? It's what keeps me going. I am, have always been, and will always be an OPTIMIST.

The glass is half full and there's plenty more where that came from. We have all been led to believe that there is limitation and lack and limits to everything. But what we have NOT been told is this condition of "not having" is TEMPORARY.

Wait a bit, be patient, ask for what you need or want and then take ACTION. If you are sitting on your couch watching Oprah thinking the Universe, or God is going to just deliver your desires to your lap, well, you may lose the house, the couch and the television set and then proclaim the Law of Attraction is a bunch of crap.

Action is the way. My beloved QH has a saying, "Let's just go DO SOMETHING, even if it's wrong!" Any kind of action is going to take you in the direction of what you want and your goals. Even if you are going in the opposite direction, you will learn something (like maybe you should turn around?) and who knows who you might meet along the way?

A lot of people are going to lose a lot because of this market shift. There are those in Texas and Louisiana who have lost that and more, and are just trying to make it from day to day. I feel their pain. I have felt that loss, that feeling that the world just tipped upside down like a snow globe and you are going to hit the ground hard and it will hurt when the world rights itself again. As I told my son this last week, when he didn't accomplish a goal he set for himself because of some kind of snafu, Life can be disappointing sometimes. Sometimes there is a blessing in not getting what you want right away. It may keep you from some other disaster.

We all need to appreciate what we have, what our priorities are, and find something to laugh about. It will help reduce the stress. It will make you feel grateful and it will bring about a sense of serenity, even if it is just for a moment or two. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for: Your life, each breath you take, your family, your friends, the roof over your head, the job you hate that still pays the bills, the talents God has given to you that will hopefully pay off in a book contract someday (oh, that's mine!). Little things add up, and when you feel the gratitude from your head to your toes, magical things happen.

And turn off the television until the news is better. There is a fine line between being informed and being overwhelmed into depression. Be informed, be grateful, and learn to live with less.

And get a hug from someone you care about. It helps a lot.

If you can, even if it is just a dollar, give to the Red Cross or your local church, or donate to another worthy cause. The feeling you get from it makes you feel like you can make a difference, even in some small way.

Remember, you get as good as you give. We will all get through this together.

Oh, and pray. It can't hurt.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008-Going Home

Morning came way too soon. We ended up at Flanagan's again for the breakfast buffet. It was terrific, and we left to go get things squared away at the hotel. One of the most important things, was the List. Alex was now allowed to have his cell phone, his MP3 player and other things, so there was a list to be followed when I got home.

I had charged my phone up and Alex was able to call my sister and my brother and talk to them. He talked to Travis and my nephew, Cannon, who is 2 years old, and was full of stories. After all the phone calls, I had about 10 minutes of time left on my phone, but that was ok.

We packed up all of our stuff, minus a Cool Whip container lid that suddenly disappeared while we were packing (and hasn't been found since). Alex wanted to get back to his base and get situated with his new environment. We parked and walked on the base after passing security, of course, and made our way to the USO on base. I didn't know there were places for enlisted men and women like this on the base!

It had nearly everything! Books, music room, arcade and game room, prayer room, and an eating area where they were serving up baked goods, drinks, and the flat screen television was playing "A Night at the Museum". There were brochures of events and attractions in the Chicago area, and information on anything and everything you might want to see or do while you are there. What a wonderful place. Kudos to those who are in charge of keeping this place operating for our enlisted men and women, in Great Lakes and in bases all over the world.

We then decided it was time to go. Alex walked us to the checkpoint, and we hugged him goodbye. I was fighting the tears all the way to the car. I didn't even cry until we got home, which I thought was pretty good. For me anyway.

One of the first missions I had when we got home, was gathering the list of things Alex could now have. I had them all in a box and in the mail on Monday, happy that soon I could hear from Alex anytime he wanted to call me. No more waiting for everyone to be "good" before he could call and tell me something. I could call and leave him messages, and once he got a computer, send him emails and pictures, too.

But the hardest thing I had to do, was leave him there, get in the car, and drive home without him. College Moms and Dads, my heart goes out to all of you.

By the way, how many days until Christmas??

Saturday, August 16, 2008-The Navy Pier


The next morning, Saturday, found us heading early in the morning to Flanagan's for the breakfast buffet. We were the first ones there and were treated to scrambled eggs (Alex was thrilled they were REAL eggs, not powdered), bacon, sausage links, pancakes, waffles, french toast, corn beef hash, hash brown potatoes, fruit and juice. And the coffee was hot and delicious!

It was fabulous! Once breakfast was done, we decided to head down to the Navy Pier.


That weekend was the same weekend an Air & Boat Show was going on, so traffic was intense. We found a place to park and then made our way to the pier. Once we arrived, we decided to ride the giant ferris wheel that is there, and took some pictures from the top of the ferris wheel, which is 150 feet off the ground. It took about 8 minutes for the ride to be over and we got our picture taken, so of course, I bought a couple of them. Alex got one, and we came home with the other one.


Another event that weekend was the Turkish World Festival. We saw a lot of people walking around and smelled the most wonderful food cooking. We then saw the band walk by us in full costume, which was really cool.


We then toured the rest of the pier and made our way into the Family Pavilion. Alex saw the Imax Theatre and had mentioned that he wanted to see "The Dark Knight", so he bought tickets for all of us. We then found a place to have lunch, and sit for a while until the movie started.


Let me just say, it's a shame Heath Ledger is gone. His performance and the performance given by Aaron Eckhart (Two Face), were both brilliant. If neither one gets an Oscar nomination it will be a crime. The effects were fantastic and to see them in the Imax was beyond belief. I also saw the trailer for "Watchmen" another superhero type film, directed by the director who made "300", and based on the graphic novel. Unfortunately, "Watchmen" won't be coming to theaters until Spring of 2009. But I plan to see it.


After the movie, we came out and there was a huge crowd of people everywhere! We walked out and began walking along the pier, watching the tour boats coming in and going out when there was the sound of jets, flying over and we looked up to see the Blue Angels!!! I had never seen them before, not in person, anyway, and the Navy sailors on the pier all cheered. It was incredible! They flew back and forth in manuevers and formations for about 20 minutes! We tried to get pictures, but they were so fast, we could barely catch them on our digital cameras. It was a bonus for us, because we heard the show had been delayed and we would have missed the last part of the Blue Angels if it had been on time. Thank you, thank you, thank you!




We did some more driving around, then that night we ended up eating the homemade enchiladas at the hotel lobby, watching the Discovery Channel on the flatscreen television there. QH's mom sent along some macaroni salad and I had some fajitas from Flanagan's I had brought back from the night before. After dinner, we decided to get to Wal-Mart so I could get a charger for my phone. Kathy, the waitress, gave spot-on directions and we found the nearest Wal-Mart and got what we needed.


On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for gas, and while QH was inside getting ice and paying for the gas, I noticed Alex was quieter than he had been Friday night and asked him if he was ok.

"Yeah, it's just weird being out in the real world again, you know?" I realized then, he had been through a lot, and he said it better than I ever could. "For the first two weeks, I didn't even have a thought! Not one, and then when I did, it was like 'Hellooo? It's me, Al', and now, I'm here listening to music, and watching television, and eating REAL food."


"Yes, and you know what? The worst of this is over. You made it, son. And I'm so proud of you, we all are." Since I was sitting in the backseat of the car, all I could do was squeeze his shoulder.


It was going to be hard leaving him here, but in a way, it would be easier knowing he was on his way to bigger and better things. But it was still going to be hard. In that moment, I sympathized with those parents who are leaving their kids at college for the first time, leaving them behind and driving home without them. I prayed for strength. I needed all the help I could get.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Graduation Day: Navy Style


The date was August 15, 2008, and this picture was taken by my dearest, QH, right after the stunning ceremony and when liberty call was given. I have never in my life seen such a display of skill and precision in all of my life, and probably never will again. If you have a spouse or child in the armed services, I highly recommend you attend this ceremony.
Without boring you with all the details, let me just hit the high points. We left Thursday morning and hit rain and road construction from Wisconsin to Chicago. Once we arrived there, we got lost following my TripTix that was wrong. Finally we made it to our hotel, checked in and went for a drive, trying to get our bearings. It was a good thing QH invested in a GPS.
Friday morning, I was very glad I picked a hotel that was only 1.8 miles from the base. We left the hotel and hit traffic that would make a Floridian think it was Spring Break. It took us about a half an hour to make to our destination.
We knew that with the dangers in this world, there would be security. Random searches were being conducted in the dozen or so cars to our right. We were in a different group and the most we had was a large German Shepard who sniffed around our car while they checked our ID's. We were directed to park and after going through another check, we made our way to the building where the graduation was to be held.
We were not allowed to take any pictures of our recruit/graduate out in front of any of the buildings or our cameras would be confiscated and the memory cards and film wiped clean and returned. That is the state of the world we live in today, my friends. Totally understandable on their part, and I never felt so safe leaving stuff in the car before.
Once we were seated in the section of Alex's division (293), we waited for things to begin, and watched a short film showing all the things the recruits had been through (hair shaving, ironing, fire training and the "confidence chamber", a.k.a. the gas chamber where they experience tear gas with and without the gas mask), and then the band came in. Then all the brass came in and were seated. Then the flags came in, carried by graduating recruits and representing each of the 50 states in the order they were added to the Union.
As each division came through, I searched all over looking for Alex, but couldn't find him until near the end of the ceremony when QH pointed him out off to the right and in the back. He wasn't wearing the "Sally Jesse Raphael" style glasses like I pictured and instead wore his "civilian" glasses.
I was ok emotionally until the Star Spangled Banner and the tears began to roll as I stood, hand over my heart thinking about how these young men and women were here to serve this great country of ours, the United States of America, and all of those who had passed through those doors on a day, just like that day, and went on to make the ultimate sacrifice. I looked around and I was not alone in being emotional, even if our thoughts were different, our skin color was different and we all came from different places. In that building, at that moment, I was proud to be a citizen of America and felt sure that everyone else in that place, felt that very same thing.

Once the review was over, and the liberty call was made, the wave of unbridled joy and happiness almost knocked you over! We made our way onto the floor and found Alex, and took some pictures. I didn't turn into a blubbering idiot, crying and running over to him, because I didn't want to embarrass him. I was just so happy to see him, and I think he was happy to see us.
On the way to the car, we received the best gift of all. Because he was only moving from RTC (Recruit Training Command) to another section on base, he was given liberty overnight on Friday and Saturday! He had to move the day of graduation, so we went back to the hotel and asked them if we could get a room with 2 beds, not just one. We were blessed to get one, and we were so happy that we would have that extra time with him.
One of the first things we did was go to dinner. We found a nice little place called Flanagan's, just down the road from the hotel, and we had dinner there. The town was full of graduating recruits and their families. We met a nice young man that Alex was in boot camp with and his family and found out they lived in Watertown, Minnesota.
The food was great and plentiful and priced fairly. Our waitress, Kathy (or Cathy), was kind enough to give us some tips about cleaning white uniforms with club soda, and also drew us directions to Wal-Mart on the map on the back of one of their menus. We saw they had a breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so we decided to come back the next morning for that.
We drove all over, mostly down Sheridan Drive where the snazzy lake homes were and Alex got to see Lake Michigan. I had him call my parents and talk to them, and he called my brother and talked to him. I ran out of minutes before he could call my sister, and then my battery went dead and we had to go to Wal-Mart to buy a charger because I forgot my chargers at home.
Our plan for Saturday was to find the Navy Pier. Some friends recommended we go there if we didn't go anyplace else. We mapped out where we needed to be and went back to the hotel for sleep.

Monday, August 11, 2008

3 More Days!!

Yes, I can't believe it either, but in 3 days I will be on my way to Illinois to see my son graduate from Navy boot camp. I'm really glad the time went by fast, and I'm hoping it went faster for him.

Before I go, I have a lot of things to clear off my to-do list, most of them have to do with my writing business and my ezines. Yes, I'm still going to launch them, it's just taken me a little longer to get them ready since I've never built a website before, but I should have everything in place before we go.

Alex is hungry for home cooking, so I will be taking some enchiladas for him, or some of Grandma Chuck's Tacos.

I can only imagine what he looks like now, and I'm excited to be in a state I've never been to before. It'll be fun exploring and seeing everything we can before we come home on Sunday.

I'll post as soon as I get home.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch, Thank You!



I'm sure you're wondering why I have the lovely family photo of Randy Pausch. I heard the news today, and I wanted to thank him.

Dr. Pausch passed away this morning. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, and wrote one of the most inspiring lectures I have ever heard. It's called "The Last Lecture", and the abridged version "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" (the version he did on Oprah). In April, the book "The Last Lecture" hit the bestseller list that was co-written with Jeffrey Zaslow.

Dr. Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the lecture was written more for his children than for his students, and it has inspired millions.

I've written about Dr. Pausch before, if you scroll through the archives here, you will see I was truly inspired by his positive attitude despite his terminal diagnosis.

My condolences to his family, especially his wife and children. But many thanks to him for showing all of us that it's not important the manner in which you pass from this life. It's what you do with your life when you're here that matters.

Go acheive your childhood dreams. Live the life you dream of, because you never know when it may be gone.

A Phone Call, More Letters & Some Good News

Alex called me on July 14. I know, you're looking at the date wondering why I didn't blog then instead of now. A lot has been happening around here.

First, the phone call. He called me when I was at work, and I have a huge dose of "Mommy Guilt" because I didn't recognize his voice on the phone at first. He sounded good, and a lot of my worries were laid to rest when I heard the tone of his voice. He says boot sucks, of course, but it's not as bad as he thought it was going to be, and he figured out right away that if you do what you're told, do it the way they want it done and keep your mouth shut, you're ok. He said some in his division haven't figured that out yet. He was in great spirits, and it sounded like he's having the time of his life. I know he's going to be great and successful in his Navy career.

Graduation is August 15, and QH and I are going. I would walk in hot asphalt in my bare feet to get there, if I had to, so there will be no stopping me from seeing him graduate. We have our reservations set, and I'm looking forward to seeing him. He'll have liberty that weekend so we can go have some fun. Then he goes to school, which will be there in Great Lakes, so he only has to move across the street.

He's also sent a few letters since then. The latest arrived on Thursday. He said he as 4 weeks of school and then he can come home for a leave. It would be sometime in October. He said he would be home for Christmas. (Yea!)

I can't wait for him to read the latest letter I sent him. I'm sure he's going to laugh. We got some news this week, some good news.

QH called me and asked if I felt "older". No, not really, why? He said he did and I asked why. "I'm going to be a grandpa."

What??

Yep, it's true. His son, Jess and his fiancee, Patrice, are expecting!! I guess in a round about way, that makes me "Grandma"!!

I cried. Of course, I did. Tears of joy. I know I'm only 39, but it doesn't matter. Alex always teased that I would be a Grandma before I hit 40!! He's going to crack up laughing when he finds out.

I'm happy for them and pray the baby is healthy. I told QH that we would spoil the child and send him or her home!! No problem with that!! It's going to be fun, and great practice for when Alex settles down (in about 30 years) and has kids!!

The writing career is well under way, and now I have more motivation to retire early. I'll have a grandbaby to chase around!!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!


Sometimes I wonder what the hell goes through my head.

I misunderstood QH when we were talking about plans for this weekend. I thought we had nothing going on, so I offered to dogsit for my parents (Molly, the Sheltie), and for my sister, Kelley and her husband (Boney the Bulldog). Well, lets just say things at home have been tense the last few days, and now I am sitting at home blogging while he's up north fishing at Lake Mille Lacs. Sigh.

Don't feel sorry for me, I was the one who agreed to dogsit, not him. I didn't expect him to stay home with me over the weekend being pissed about us having 2 dogs in the house. Serves me right for not clarifying our plans in the first place. I hope he's catching fish, at least, and he's not alone. He's staying up there with our friends, Bob and Connie at their cabin.

Just for the record, this will be the LAST TIME I dogsit. The bulldog has been a pain in the ass. He doesn't listen. He chases anything with wheels. He crapped right outside my deck where QH stepped in it this morning. He took off down the road with Molly running behind him and he wouldn't come back. I thought Molly would be the bigger pain! She's been an angel!!

Anyway, the neighbors have been having a great fireworks show around here. The dogs don't like it though. They both want me to pet them, comfort them, and they both want to sit in my lap while I'm on the computer. The noise has finally settled down, and the show was great! They are still hiding in the corner.

I'm hoping to get some writing work done since I'm alone here in the house. Maybe that's why God gave me the Senior Moment and had me screw up my weekend so I could write, get my stuff done and make some money. I know, it's a stretch, but I'll take it. And I got the day off at the factory, so that's a plus also.

The 4th of July isn't just picnics, parades and fireworks. It's time with your family and friends, the celebration of summer's peak. The corn is knee high (or close to it here). The crops are a little behind this year. The weather today has been fabulous. We have a lot to be grateful for in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world.

If you meet someone who is a veteran, or someone in active military duty, no matter what branch of the service they are in, walk up to them, shake their hand, and THANK THEM. We have the rights we do, and the ability to exercise those rights and we have our military men and women to thank for that. Even if you don't agree with the war in Iraq, our men and women are still serving in a VOLUNTEER military, and we need to support them any way we can. Their families are making the sacrifice as well, and if there is anything you can do to help them out, do it. Make donations to organizations that serve our military families, or veterans. Adopt a soldier through organizations like Operation Minnesota Nice. Even just a card or letter expressing your thanks will mean the world to them.

No call from my son in Navy boot camp. But I'm sure he's celebrating this 4th of July in a manner that he will never forget. And I'm so proud to be his Mom.

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July weekend!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A second letter from Alex

I came home from work tonight and there was another letter from Alex. It was dated Sunday, June 29th. This time, it was an actual 2-page letter, not just 3 lines at the bottom of the last page of a form letter.

He said things are going better than he expected. He isn't sure when he will be able to call, but he's doing everything he can to make that possible. And he needs another phone card. :)

I will update everyone when I get a call. I'm hoping it will be tomorrow (Thursday) or Friday. Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer, light candle, whatever ritual you want to do, that he can call.

Thanks, and support our troops and remember them and the sacrifices they and their families are making this 4th of July weekend. Without them, we would not be able to celebrate our country's freedoms. Honor them.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I GOT A LETTER!!

Yesterday while I was on the phone talking to my brother, Andy, my landlord, Mike, dropped off the mail and I paid him the rent. There was a letter addressed to me, written in pencil, and the return address was Alex!!!

I tore it open, and it was a form letter from the Navy, but it started out with Dear_____, and Alex wrote "Mom". The letter explained that recruits will not be able to receive packages during this time, that food should not be sent to recruits, that they are not allowed to leave unless an immediate family member dies, etc. Cards and letters are encouraged to be sent.

On the last page to the bottom, Alex was allowed to write in the 3 lines available in the "Recruit's Comments" section. He wrote:

"Mom, things are going well. My stuff I wore home should be getting there soon. Please check for my driver's license. Need it in a bad way. Don't know when I'll get to call. Depends on how things go. Talk to you soon. Love, Al..."

If anyone would like to write to him, family, friends, or just those who would like to give my son some support by sending him a card to encourage him, please email me at alsmom27@yahoo.com, and I will send you his address.

I feel much better now that I've heard something.

I need to get busy, or this is going to be a loooonnnng nine weeks!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Denial: This is much harder than I thought


It's been a week since he left. The picture above is the cake I ordered for his going away party which was June 14, 2008. The picture doesn't do it justice. It was a magnificent piece of work. I was grateful it turned out so well. I cried in the bakery department of Cub Foods, the day of his party because it was now real. Then I went back to my favorite coping mechanism.

Denial.

Yes, I've been playing that game this week.
My one and only child, my son, left home a week ago for boot camp. As I've mentioned previously, my son enlisted in the Navy. He left on June 19, 2008, for boot camp. I took two days off to "mourn" his departure.
I didn't.
I just repressed it.
Enter a distraction to keep me occupied this weekend. We went to the "Back to the 50's" Car Show at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. That repressed it even more for me. I thought, "Hey, I'm doing pretty good!" Until...
The package arrived yesterday afternoon. I thought it was for QH, but it wasn't. I recognized the handwriting on the box immediately. It was Alex's handwriting. Oh, Joy! Some word, finally, of my son! I opened it as fast as I could. Here were the contents:
1 pair of white tennis shoes,
1 pair of blue jeans,
1 under shirt,
1 pair of boxers,
1 pair of socks,
1 Minnesota Driver's License, stuffed into one of the tennis shoes,
1 ballpoint ink pen from the Marriott,
Several scraps of paper, stuffed into the other shoe,
1 airline ticket stub from American Airlines, and finally,
1 black T-shirt that reads, "Just Do It" on the front in white letters.
I laughed because I had just finished his laundry! I then pictured my son, standing in his military issue skivvies putting his clothes in the box thinking, "Mom's really going to love getting this!"
It took me a while, but I finally realized, they were sending the last remants of my son as a civilian. This part of his life is over, for now, and a new one is beginning. It's symbolic and painful at the same time. We go through the usual milestones in life, but this is a new one for me, sending your son off to become a sailor, a military man.
I know that the young man who left wearing the clothes in that box, will not be the same young man when he returns home. It breaks my heart, it really does.
But I also realized, I won't be the same person either. I hope to be a better person when my son returns.
Everything is different now. It was reality hitting me in the face. And that's when the meltdown began.
I'm not sure who I was kidding.
I guess I thought if I was super strong and didn't show it on the outside that this is what was going on in the inside, then I could sail through the remaining 9 weeks before he comes home.
Nope.
So, here I am trying to be brave. Trying to keep my emotions in check and trying to get my own stuff together. I have to cry, I have to let it out, and I have to let him go to become the man he is to be, no matter how painful it is.
We raise our children to become their own people, to live their own lives, and to be self-sufficient. But we have to allow ourselves to grieve for that chapter that closes in our lives, and embrace and celebrate the new chapter opening.
He called and left a message on my answering machine that he made it to boot camp okay, and he would call in 2 weeks. One week to go. I now understand the meaning of the AA slogan: Take it one day at a time.
I will take it one day at a time.
I will write to my son and as soon as I have an update or an address, and I will update all of you. I will pray he stays safe.
I will pray he excels (as I know he will) and makes it through boot camp and finds the strength he never knew he had within himself.
I pray that for me and QH, too.
Now I have to wipe the tears away and get on with my day. I have a lot to do before my son comes home.
I hope he's as proud of me as I am of him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

39 and...hoping

"It's never too late to become the person you might have been."

Thirty-nine years ago today (June 11, 1969) at 11:55 p.m., I arrived at North Memorial Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I can't believe I'm this old, and parts of me feel a lot older. LOL! But, I'm 39 and... hoping.

You read that correctly, H-O-P-I-N-G. I still have hope. I don't want to be 39 and HOLDING, that implies desperation, and I may have felt that way a few times today, I realize that's not the energy I want to put out into the world and have come back to me.

I Hope for the next year to come, that I will live to see the BIG 4-0.
I Hope that I will be working from home as a true, honest to God, income producing freelance writer and copywriter full time.
I Hope that I will be teaching and holding seminars, and workshops and sharing my love and passion of the written word to those who may be a little scared to make that leap.
I Hope QH and I can retire.
I Hope my son is successful in advancing in his career in the Navy.
I Hope to accomplish a few more goals on my list, both creatively, professionally, personally and financially.
I Hope that all of my family members and friends are still healthy and happy in their lives and if they aren't happy, I hope they find that path yesterday.
I Hope that we will be a better world, that people will treat each other with kindness.
I Hope...

As far as birthdays go, I had a rough start to my day. Thunderstorms rocked through the area all day. Lightning, thunder, dark clouds, torrential rain, and high winds are not weather that seems to induce any kind of positive reflection. I found myself wanting to go back to bed (which I did), and hide under the covers for a bit. But, I couldn't stay in bed all day, I have a lot of work to do.

I am up to my eyelashes in work to get my house, the garage and the yard in shape for this weekend. I'm throwing a party for my son before he leaves for boot camp on June 19th. I'm hoping all the bad weather is done now and that it will be sunny to partly cloudy on Saturday. Please pray. Thank you.

Today was also my babysitting day, and my nephew, Cannon, who is 2 years old, was over at my house. Usually he is pretty good, but today he was in all of his 2 year old glory. He might have picked up my stressed out vibe and decided to capitalize on it. Who knows.

He wanted me to hold him, then he was getting into the cupboards, then he was following me into the bathroom, then he was trying to sweep and almost breaking everything around him, so I gave him a "rag" and he started "cleaning" stuff. That seemed to work until lunch when I made him spaghetti and he ended up with more on his head and clothes than in his mouth. Bath time!!

I had to take him to my Mom's house because I had today off from work (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I lost 2 hours running from my house to her house, stopping by Walmart really quick and then getting back to the house to try and finish up what I was working on. Since Mom and I work at the same place, we usually play "Pass the baby" at work and Cannon goes home with her.

When I finally arrived back home, I was washing the dishes, and when the water started to drain out, I heard this louder than usual gushing sound coming from under the sink. The pipe had unscrewed itself from under the drain and the water was pouring out into a bucket underneath. The water collected mostly in the bucket, but some of it ended up on my freshly mopped floor. GRRRR!!!

Oh, and it was about 5:15 pm and I was expected to go over to my MIL's house for taco dinner for my birthday...at 5:30 pm. Great.

How's that song go? "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all?"

I wanted to feel sorry for myself.

I really did.

I did have a mental moment when I just cried because it seemed all I was doing was spinning my wheels.

Earlier today, my brother called to wish me a Happy Birthday, and I felt really awful when I was whining to him on the phone. I almost broke down because he and his lovely wife, Lisa, live in Oklahoma, and they aren't able to visit before Alex leaves. I tried not to let my voice shake too much, because he had also called with good news. He has been working his butt off for the last few months to get into school to become a respiratory therapist and he MADE IT!! I am so proud of him, and I realized just how much I really miss my brother. I put the phone down and let the tears go. Enough is enough.

In the end, I can't really feel sorry for myself.

All the things that happened today were "little things". Nothing more than annoyances. Nothing about them was life threatening (ok, the weather had the potential to be dangerous).

I was watching Oprah last night(it was a repeat) and they had Randy Pausch, the author of "The Last Lecture". Randy has a great career, has a beautiful wife and 3 beautiful children under the age of 5 and he's dying of pancreatic cancer. He wrote the "Last Lecture" as part of a class he teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. The lecture is based on the hypothetical situation that if you know you are going to die, what wisdom would you impart to your students or the world at large. Only in his case, it's reality.

One of the most profound things he said was, "You have a choice to be a Tigger or an Eeyore. It's up to you how you decide, how you choose to go through life." (I'm paraphrasing, if you want to check out the whole lecture, I believe it's on the Oprah.com website.

After watching that, and listening to what he said, I realized I have nothing to bitch about. This last few weeks has brought lots of bad news about my family and friends.

Firs, my uncle Jim, who lives in North Dakota, suffered a heart attack a few days ago, and had to have surgery. I have him and his family in my prayers. I was told he is home tonight.

I also have a dear friend who is battling Hodgkins Disease. She went today to have surgery to prep her for chemo. You know her, she's been a frequent visitor here. She is Sandy Lender, author of the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy. The second installment is on its way to be printed at the publisher, and she gets the news that she has this lymphoma in her lungs. No, she doesn't smoke, she eats as healthy as she can, and she is optimistic that she will be "over this in a couple of months." This was quite a shock, since she is a year YOUNGER than me. Talk about a wake up call.

So, as I sit here in the dark, almost 2 hours into being 39 years old, I have to say I am very truly blessed. I can't complain but I do, I'm human and I have my tantrums. I have my "the world should revolve around me moments," but I KNOW, there are people close to me, and some I don't know, who are going through a hell of a lot more than I am. Shut up and be thankful. Count your blessings and figure out what you're going to accomplish before your next birthday, you whiny baby!!

The quote at the top is a new one. I have it taped to my computer monitor where I can glance up and read it when I feel like giving up. I got it from one of my writing groups in Yahoo, called the Creative Mindset. One of the members quoted it during a teleseminar.

I love it. It will set the pace for me in the next 12 months.

In the meantime, for those who wished me a Happy Birthday and I was less than chipper, my sincerest apologies. I was not trying to be ungrateful. I truly appreciate those who remembered, even though I wanted to forget.

I would also like to thank my mother. She's always told me the story about the day I was born, police escort and all, every year on my birthday. She called me tonight to tell me she was having labor pains! LOL! I told her she should call her doctor right away. There might be a problem there!

I realized I'm thankful she is still here to call me and tell me that story, and that she still remembers it. Most people I know have lost their parents, or if they are still living, their memories or their health is fading. Both my folks are alive and kicking, and while they may drive me nuts sometimes, I'm still grateful I have them both.

Now, where's that cake???

Friday, April 04, 2008

Taking My Own Advice

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine yesterday.

She is currently "between jobs" and has been interviewed for two very promising positions.

One is a job that would allow her more flexibility, the kind of work that would be able to let her skills shine and it doesn't pay much, but it does have potential.

The other, is a job that has a long commute, but the hours are regular, and the money is significant. She wouldn't have the flexibility she would have with the first position, and she would be coming home later, and miss some of the activities that her children participate in, but she would still have the weekends off with both positions.

The dilemma is this, does she go for the job that would feed her soul or go for the money and the steady paycheck?

Logic would say to take the 2nd job, it would be a regular schedule, a regular paycheck, and it would be a sucky commute (she would have to buy a car to save on gas), but with the bills to pay and the kids to feed...well, it's tempting to go that route.

I told her that money isn't everything. You can make a million dollars a year, but if you don't enjoy what you're doing and you're missing out on your kids growing up, what's the point?

She said she would like to get the 2nd job, get chosen for it knowing that she is qualified and able to get a position like that with good pay and then...turn them down and take the first job. But she admitted with the money, it would be really hard to turn that down.

I then realized that I need to take my own advice. I keep thinking that someplace out there is a great job with great pay that will pay the bills and let me afford some luxuries, but when I start thinking of interviewing, commutes, office politics, and having to kiss ass everyday, well, my stomach turns. It just feels wrong for so many reasons. Mainly, it's not what I want anymore.

This last year has been about me pursuing my writing dream. Getting the experience, writing and sending out articles to be published, writing books, finding a wonderful coach (Beth Ann Erickson) to help and guide me, and to invest all of that time and energy and money in writing for a living and then to just put that all aside for a job with money makes what I've done a waste.

I thought this over last night when I was at work (my factory job that pays the bills right now), and realized I need to feed my soul as much as I need to feed the family. I need to take my own advice and really go for this writing career I've dreamed of because nothing else right now feels right.

Don't worry, I'm not quitting the factory just yet. The bills still need to be paid, but once the writing is paying the bills and then some, bye-bye factory!

I also realized I forgot to tell my friend the most important thing I've learned this year: When you love what you're doing it's not work, and the money will follow. I have been truly blessed in my life, especially this last year to find the coach I needed, the books I needed to read, the inspiration from other people and other writers to keep me sitting at the keyboard everyday. But most of all, when I start to worry about money, the money doesn't come. When I do what I love to do, and don't think about the money, it shows up, time and time again. Once I made the decision to pursue my writing career, wonderful things started to happen and I can't ignore that, nor can I ignore my instincts. This is, without a doubt, the right path for me.

Life is too short to be miserable doing something you hate just for a paycheck. I decided last year that I wanted something more, and I need to reach those goals: doing what I love by writing, working at home, working the hours I want, helping people with my gifts and skills, teaching and holding workshops, and have the life I envisioned.

I have to get back to writing now. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Meme For a Friend

A meme isn't just the name of the evil secretary on "The Drew Carey Show" that wears lots of eye makeup and delights in making Drew's life a living hell. Oh no.

A meme is kind of like a chain letter in the blogosphere, where someone starts with a list of questions and passes it on to a list of people who have blogs and they answer them in their posts(on their own blogs, of course) and pass them on to other people. It's fun, it's informative, and it helps everyone market themselves by giving them exposure. Cool, huh?

So, my friend and fellow writer, Sandy Lender, came up with this meme and I am passing it along. It's all about getting away, like on spring break or on vacation, which all of us are sick to death of winter.

In honor of spring break and all things travel-oriented, here we go!

Getting Away With It

1) If you could live for a month in one world or time period from a novel you've read, which would you choose?

In Onweald, the world created by Sandy Lender in Choices Meant for Gods, so I could meet Amanda and Nigel and the other characters in the book (except for Jamieson Drake!).

2) If you could be one character from a comic book or fiction series, who would it be?

Nancy Drew, from a fiction series, or Wonder Woman from a comic book.

3) Where (in the real world) is your dream vacation spot?

Alaska.

4) Name a celebrity or TV personality whom you would like to have lunch with.

Stephen King.

Wow! That was cool! Now I'm passing it on to the following blogs. Check out their answers by clicking on the links below!

http://jensorganizedwriter.wordpress.com/
http://overthehillchick.blogspot.com/
http://jamiesonwolf.com/
http://oldavonladysorders.blogspot.com/
http://todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com/

Jon Hassler: A Minnesota Treasure


I was notified by Beth Erickson through one of our writing groups that Jon Hassler passed away on March 20, 2008.

For those of you who have no idea who Jon Hassler was, here's the link to find out about his life and body of work.


Those of us in Minnesota know him to be a local treasure. He captured the simple beauty of small Minnesota towns, with their characters and quirks and left a legacy of wonderful stories including "Staggerford".
He was also a teacher at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Beth's mother was one of his students, as were many in the area, and they admired and loved him. He also had the most beautiful eyes, the color and sparkle of blue that reminded me of my Grandfather, Bud Crawford, who passed away when I was fifteen.

Jon Hassler's greatest legacy was not just his body of work or his teaching, but he taught all of us you can live with a terminal illness with dignity, grace, and a sense of humor. And he did it with acceptance without complaint. He also had a perserverance that all writers must have if they are ever going to make it in this world.

Mr. Hassler was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a Parkinson's like disease. He lived with the disease for fifteen years and in that time, he lost the ability to write by hand, see and hear, and finally, to walk. Through his tenacity, he "typed" his final novels, by hitting the keyboard, and then "translating" back to his wife, Gretchen, the "words" he wrote, and she would then type them up. According to the article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he finished his final novel "Jay O'Malley" a few weeks before his death.

Now, writers, what do we have to complain about?? Is there any reason, ANY REASON AT ALL why we aren't writing?! THERE ARE NO MORE EXCUSES EVERYONE, AND THAT INCLUDES ME!

This is a man, who kept going and going, in spite of his pain, his daily struggles to see and hear and write and walk, and once robbed of all those things, HE STILL FOUND TIME TO WRITE!! He wrote NOVELS!! It boggles the mind, and yet, you know deep down that we are all guilty of the the laundry list of bullshit reasons we "don't have time to write." Throw the list away, kids. It's time to get to work.

My only regret is never meeting the man in person, to thank him for all he's done for our state, our country, and our profession. And for giving us all something to aspire to.

God Bless you Jon Hassler, and your family. May you all find peace.
And thank you for inspiring us all.

Movie Endings Suck!

Ok, that should explain what I'm going to rant about today. But I'm sick and tired of Hollywood trying to be "clever" or "artsy-fartsy" by coming up with these endings to movies that have nothing to do with the plot, or whatever, or they just end. Like that.

Here's my argument, your Honor. I sat down and watched two movies that were promoted like crazy, one has this year's Oscar winner in it for crying out loud, and the other was directed by a former Oscar winner and starred his brother who also happened to be nominated this year (but for a different film). One movie was "No Country for Old Men" and the other was "Gone Baby Gone". With street cred like that, you would ASSUME that both films would rise above and capture your imagination, right?

They did. I sat and watched each one, became invested in the characters and the plot, sitting and wondering what was going to happen next, etc. I was anticipating a logical conclusion, instead...both endings sucked!! Like a black hole in space, they sucked.

I'm left here wondering why I invested 2 hours or more for each film of my life that could have been better spent writing or cleaning my oven, or cleaning out my toenails. Anything! I feel cheated! And I'm sick of the media portraying movies and promoting them so you literally foam at the mouth to see them, and then this: total disappointment at the endings. If you haven't seen the films yet, I won't ruin the movies for you, but I'm saying beware of the ending.

And by the way, I've decided I can write better than that, so I'm going to be writing my own screenplay. If Diablo Cody can win an Oscar her first time out, then I have a shot too!

And MY endings won't suck! I promise.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Is Here and...Happy Easter!


Spring arrived this week to the relief of the residents of Minnesota. We spent the first day of Spring in Duluth, driving all the way to Grand Marais, Minnesota, which was still covered in snow and Lake Superior still had ice and snow in some of the bays. But the snow and ice were melting, and with the warm temperatures (it was a balmy 30 degrees ABOVE zero), and the bright sunshine, it was the perfect time for QH and I to run away from home.

We left on Wednesday, and came home on Friday morning. Two days away up at the North Shore will renew your energy, recharge your batteries, and make it really hard to leave to go home. If you look at the picture above, you can see why. We daydream of when we will be able to retire and move up there. We scout out places to build a home or find homes for sale that we wouldn't mind moving into. Driving the Skyline Parkway which is way above the cliffs of Duluth at night, then watching the city and the harbor light up like Christmas is breathtaking, and not just because if your brakes fail on the car, you have a sheer drop to the bottom. Nothing like a little adrenaline to keep things exciting!

We stayed at the Black Bear Casino & Hotel in Cloquet, just a few miles outside of Duluth, which was a good thing since I had no idea the Women's Hockey NCAA Frozen Four Tournament was taking place this weekend! Thursday was the first set of games and Wisconsin beat Harvard (ranked #1), and the Bulldogs (University of Minnesota-Duluth), beat New Hampshire. I have no idea how the rest of the tournament is going, but I was happy to hear that much of it!

We aren't very good gamblers. I spent about $10 and QH spent about $4 on the slot machines. We got bored and went back to the room to watch TV. I found $50 lying on the ground in the entrance to the casino on Thursday night when we were returning from dinner, so we came out ahead anyway!

And of course, in true Minnesota fashion, we returned in the middle of a snow storm. I was wishing that I would have taken the day off when I came into work last night, and really wishing it when I left to go home and had to scrape the snow and ice off my car! Oh, well, Spring is here!

To everyone traveling (or not), I hope you have a safe and Happy Easter weekend. It snuck up on me this year, like the Daylight Savings Time, by coming early. I'm used to Easter being either on my Dad's birthday (April 12), or right around it, so for Easter to be in March really throws me off a bit. It also reminds me that time flys faster than we realize.

Everyone say a prayer for one of my dear loved ones. My great aunt, Aunt Mary Kerzmann, suffered a stroke earlier this week. Aunt Mary is the oldest sister of my grandmother, Ellen Crawford. They both live across the hall from each other in an apartment complex in Garrison, North Dakota.

Grandma was very upset when she called Wednesday morning before we left for Duluth, but the latest news is Mary still has her speech, some of her memory is still foggy, and she has been affected on her right side. Mary is 91 years young, but she is not completely out of the woods yet, so please, any prayers and blessings and good thoughts for her recovery will be greatly appreciated. I thank you all in advance.

For those of you who need a good laugh for Easter, stop on over at my friend, Sandy Lender's blog, Today the Dragon Wins and check out her Cadbury Creme Egg "Eggsperiement". It's a riot!

Have a great weekend!