Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Life was moving along at break-neck speed.  Work was demanding more than its allowed 80 hours per pay period.  School was keeping me tied to my desk with Linguistics homework.  The mountain of dirty laundry actually toppled over, completely blocking the back door.  The stove top shattered and it took two weeks for the replacement/upgrade to arrive, while the plumbers ripped a twin-bed size hole in the ceiling to find the 1/2 inch gas line to run down the wall.

It seemed only logical that I would wake up midway through a rare four-hour slumber, completely unable to move my right leg.  The burning went right down to my toes.  As I hobbled to the bathroom, the pain dulled to a white ache.  My doctor said to see a chiropractor, and Dr. Dan stayed late that very day to help me.  Sciatica.

A while back, I had the pleasure of hearing Jean Auel speak.  She was talking about writing her Earth Children Series and someone asked her how she found the time and energy to research for and write six books while raising a family and working.  Her answer will forever be etched in my heart.  “What do you mean, how?  There is no how.  You just do it.”

And that’s my new motto.  There is no how.  I’m just doing it.  45 minutes at a time, sitting on an ice pack.  Pain pills and muscle relaxants help when it gets really bad.  Massages and adjustments at Dr. Dan’s on a regular schedule.  Nothing is more important than having my book ready to pitch to an agent in two and a half weeks.

How am I doing it?  What do you mean, how?  There is no how.  I’m just doing it.  Because I have finally decided what really matters.

I was really starting to feel guilty about not blogging for so long.  Family drama, work stress, school deadlines… It all seemed to be more than I could handle.  The final straw was taking two days off work to devote to writing, but having to run errands and then take care of my husband who got food poisoning.  I really felt like life was conspiring against me; a pity party was in the planning stage.

So I sat down and really thought about it.

On February 11th, my husband and I rode in the Arizona Centennial Bike Ride.  We were along side my best friend and her husband, and another friend was further back in line with her husband.  It was an amazing event, with 5000+ motorcycles thundering into downtown Phoenix.  I am proud to have been a part of it.  Everyone there was extremely friendly and accepting of everyone else.  Just normal people with a common love, riding together to show our Arizona Pride!

One of the most precious memories I made this day was watching a big biker with a scraggly beard help a little Canadian woman sit on his motorcycle so her husband could take her picture.  She was probably in her early 80s and this biker treated her with respect and honor.  She kept saying she was sorry she had been afraid of ‘bikers’ for so long!  After the Kodak moment was captured, several other men and women almost fought to have her get her picture taken on their bikes too!  Big bad bikers, huh?  I know the truth.  I was there.

During February’s Scottsdale Society of Women Writers meeting, I got up and gave a progress report on my memoir.  No one had to push me this time.  I was ready and I wanted to share my news with my writing peers.  As I walked up to the microphone, I heard a friend tell the woman sitting next to her, “I just love this lady.”  What a confidence boost!

The trophy and blue ribbon say BEST SPEAKER and the purple ribbon and IceBreaker gum are for completing my first speech!

This past Wednesday, March 7th, I gave my first real speech at Toastmasters.  The Ice Breaker.  I was nervous, but thankful that I was surrounded by this new group of friends who support each other in their pursuit of confident and competent public speaking.  I received a stack of evaluations that are filled with positive words and encouragement, as well as useful tips.  Everyone in the group has been there themselves.  I was even voted Best Speaker and got a trophy and a ribbon to keep until our next meeting.

The first Toastmasters meeting I went to was an open house and everyone greeted me enthusiastically.  I really thought they were being fake, for the sake of the open house.  But, I had done my research and I knew that Toastmasters could and would help me develop the skills to properly pitch my book when I meet with an agent.  I was willing to take a chance because my life-long ambition was on the line.  The meeting was a little on the cheesy side.  The Toastmaster opened the meeting by banging a gavel, and closed the meeting the same way.  Speakers shook hands with the Toastmaster when stepping up to the podium, and again when they were finished speaking.  Someone rang a bell anytime an “um” or an “ah” was spoken.

I am happy to admit that my first impression of Toastmasters was very wrong.  The truth about Toastmasters is that everyone is actually happy to meet a potential new member, because they know that they can and will grow together in the group.  The day before I gave my Ice Breaker speech, I received more than a dozen emails offering encouragement and support.  My group stood up and applauded me when I was finished.  I knew I had made a few mistakes, which was proven when my abundant use of “Ah” and “Um” earned of the “Wizard of Ah’s” award.  It was truly an eye-opening experience and I cannot wait until I give my next speech!

As I sat thinking about the happy moments of the past few weeks, the bad memories had already begun to fade.

Today, March 9th, is Get Over It Day.  While originally intended to help heartbroken lovers get over breakups, it has developed into something more. Check out the website here.

I am now proud to say that I am over

  • being unfriended on Facebook
  • feeling depressed because I can’t fix everything
  • being excluded by some of the people at work
  • trying to impress people who don’t have anything nice to say
  • being judged
  • trying to be SuperMom and do everything

Life is too short to worry about what other people think about me.  In fact, what they think about me is none of my business.  I am proud to be me.  I have many things to be thankful for and I’m going to focus my energy on my goals instead of worrying about things I cannot change.

Have a beautiful day.  I’m going to.

This first week has just flown by.  Plagued by family drama, it has been easy to procrastinate writing in my blog.  The two week break from school is over and as I find myself planted in front of the computer, I am shamed into writing a quick post.

I love fresh starts.  Sunday morning is designed to start that new healthy diet.  The first of the month is perfect for a new journal.  But the New Year is my best incentive to make changes.  So what if I’m not starting my New Year on 1/1/2012?  Today is just as good.  No, today is better.  Because I am committed.

Every year I pick one word that describes where I want to focus my time and energy.  The idea came from Christine Kane, a singer-songwriter and Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World.  Her website is

Picking a Word of the Year has proven more effective for me than making a handful of New Year Resolutions.  I always felt like my resolutions were unrealistic.  But it was easy to make an ambitious goal.  Lose 50 pounds.  Organize the house.  Save the world.

Instead of setting myself up to fail, I now pick a word to guide me.  I focus on my word, using affirmations to make it my truth.  If you aren’t familiar with affirmations, please visit  Louise Hay is an author, a motivational speaker, and probably the most well-known self-help philosopher in the world today.  I have many of her books and CDs, and I consider her to be a guiding light on my path of life.

A couple of years ago, my word was VALUE.  I was struggling with accepting my self worth.  Just a few weeks into the year, I noticed my word starting to pop-up all over the place.  From magazine covers to the shelves at the grocery, and even on a billboard just across the California border, VALUE was everywhere.  I took each viewing of the word as a personal message to me.

I bought myself a locket (shaped like a book) and printed ‘of value’ in Sanskrit to put inside.  I taped positive sayings regarding self-worth on my mirror, where I would stand every morning and repeat my affirmations.  I still wear the locket often, to remind me of my own worth and the journey  I took to learn it.

And now we are one week into 2012.  My year of COMPLETION.  The dictionary defines completion as conclusion and/or fulfillment.  To me, completion means to finish and to accomplish.

So this is the year that I will finish what I start.  I will not start too many projects at once, because I am determined to complete one before I start another.  This is the year that I will finish my memoir.

2012 is going to be busy, but rewarding.  and I am ready.

When I publish my memoir, I will be exposing a part of me.  It would be easier if I could guarantee that none of my friends and family would read it, but that isn’t realistic.  I am flattered that they even want to read it, but I am also afraid of being judged because of my past.  It’s a chance I have to take.

Dear Abby once said, “We wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of us if we realized how seldom they did.”  This sounds logical and it should help put me at ease.  But it doesn’t.  Now that I think about it, I realize that I don’t spend very much time thinking about other people.  They flit in and out of my mind throughout the day and I do briefly focus on each of my family and friends every night when I do my gratitude ritual.  But other than that, I don’t dwell on any single one of them.  So why do I think someone is going to focus their attention on me?  And so what if they do?

In a world where bad things happen, I believe it is important that those of us who have overcome obstacles should share our stories and our support.  Those of us that have a positive way of looking at our situations have an obligation to let others peer through our eyes.  They don’t have to accept what we have to say, nor do they even have to listen.  But I will give them the opportunity to see the world of my past.  And I will not leave them there; I will show them how I left that world behind me and how I became a better person for having lived there.

As I continue to put the ugly, naked truth on the page, I see myself standing there next to my words.  I am naked.  I am exposed.  But I am alive.  And that is why I must tell my story.


on November 29, 2011 in Musings No Comments »

In a perfect world, everyone would get along.  In a perfect world, everyone would have enough to eat.  In a perfect world, no one would be an unhealthy weight.  In a perfect world, education would be free.  In a perfect world, all the dogs and cats and bunnies and guinea pigs and other pets would have loving, caring homes.

We don’t live in a perfect world.

When I get discouraged, I remind myself that I can make a difference in this imperfect world.  I have given a happy, loving home to many dogs, cats, fish, rats, mice, lizards, guinea pigs, and even some snakes and other creepy crawlies.  I do my best to walk away from heated confrontations, preferring to talk things out when tempers have cooled.  We donate to the local food bank, collect pet food for our favorite rescue group, and we volunteer our time to various organizations.

In this Christmas season, everywhere we go, we see opportunities to give.  The Salvation Army bell ringers stand guard at the doors of the stores we frequent.  The radio station is collecting toys with the help of a television channel and several car dealerships.  Christmas trees at the mall are decorated with paper angels to adopt.  The firemen are also collecting toys.  The neighborhood kids have been by twice to collect cans for their school food drive.

What can you spare?  The food banks are desperate for peanut butter.  Do you have an extra coat that you could drop off at the Goodwill?  The animal shelters would love to have all those old towels that keep falling out of your linen closet.  That magazine you just finished would be a treasure at the senior center.  Look around you… surely you have something to give.  And don’t forget your time.  Can you spare an hour to sit with a lady in a nursing home?  How about two hours of walking dogs at a local shelter?  Ten minutes to write a letter to a soldier who is far away from friends and family?  A minute to offer up a prayer?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about these things because everyone would have enough.  Enough time, enough money, enough family, enough security, enough love.  We don’t live in a perfect world.  But in the moment that you give, you blur your vision just enough to make the world appear perfect.  And that’s good enough for me.

I have an eating disorder.  But it’s not like bulimia or anorexia.

I eat when I’m:

  • bored
  • stressed
  • upset
  • happy
  • sad or depressed
  • tired

I am addicted to food.

I’ve always thought of food as a friend.  I do not just eat when I’m hungry.  For me, food equals comfort.  With my hectic schedule, I often find that I’m eating just to stay awake.  I reward even my smallest accomplishments with large fat-filled meals and desserts.  Sitting down in front of the TV is difficult without a snack.  When yet another unqualified co-worker is promoted at work, my anger can be dulled with several trips to the vending machine.  A lunchtime trip to Paradise Bakery or Chipotle will make any day brighter.

My addiction to food comes with a bonus feature.  Protection.  Hardly anyone looks twice at the heavy girl.  No one expects her to dress nice or wear heals.  She keeps quiet and rarely volunteers.  Most people can’t tell you what she wore to work yesterday or if she was even at the staff meeting.  Fat provides a protective barrier between me and the world.  That used to be okay with me; I didn’t want people to notice me.

All that is different now.  I have a husband who loves me just the way I am.  I’m qualified to move up in my company and an opening is on the horizon.  I’m less than a year away from my BA in English.  It’s time to take off the protective layers and take some chances.  My memoir is almost ready to be shopped around for a publisher.  It’s time to come out of my shell; this layer of fat is slowly suffocating me and my dreams.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  Change takes courage.  Change brings attention.  Change takes work.  Change requires commitment and follow-through.  Change does not happen overnight.  Do I really want to add something else to my plate right now when I’m busier than I’ve ever been before?  YES.

Recently, we were on ‘vacation’ in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, taking care of my mother-in-law while my sister-in-law took a long overdue vacation with her husband.  The ocean is absolutely gorgeous there, and wandering the beaches is one of my favorite things to do.  I love finding sea glass and pretty shells.  The sand fleas creep me out; they jump and hop, then dig into the sand to hide.  I like watching the seagulls and the sand pipers.

In addition to wandering the beaches, we were up and down State Street several times this trip.  We went to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  Trader Joe’s, Antique Alley, Stackey’s, Joe’s Cafe, the Betsey Johnson store, Happy Feet, the world bead store, Esau’s cafe, the Sterling Silver shop, Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, and every other place that caught our eye.  But every single place we visited shared a common feature: Friendly people!

What is it about a place that makes the majority of people happy and friendly?  Could it be the moist ocean air?  The abundance of greenery and wildlife?  Perhaps the average income level has something to do with it.  But when I sit down and really think about it, it seems to me that the quantity of friendly people can only be explained by contagion.  Santa Barbara, California is infested with smiles.

A real smile starts in the heart and ends in the eyes.  We saw genuine smiles everywhere we went.  People on the street passed each other with a “Good morning” and a “How are you?”.  And they expected a reply!   By the time we were headed back to dry, hot Arizona, we were fully infected with happiness

Grumpy people may curl up the edges of their mouths, but that’s as close to a smile as they can get.  Impatient people smirk.  Come on people, if you aren’t happy, don’t pretend.

Give up the grump!  Find something to smile about.  And when you do, let that smile work its way right up into your eyes.  You’ll be surprised how light your step is when you’re wearing a smile!

I had everything planned.  My list of intentions was proudly hung on the bulletin board above my desk.  I even had mapped out what time I was going to be working on which project.  And then… I got sick.

A cold?  No.  The flu?  I wish.  The doctor’s diagnosis: sinus infection, double ear infection, and bronchitis.  I spent the first 4 days in bed, while my well-laid plans gathered dust.  My head hurt so bad I couldn’t even read.  The puppies tried to cheer me up by playing tug of war with my blankets.  I wallowed in self-pity.

The first time I felt like actually doing something I celebrated with a load of laundry, jeans, to be exact.  But by the time they came out of the dryer, all I could do was lay them across the ironing board so they didn’t get wrinkled.  My thought was to put them away later… maybe after a Nyquil induced nap.  One of the cats yakked on them.  Happy Happy Joy Joy.

My attitude stayed defeated while I religiously took my antibiotic.  How was I going to get out of this miserable mess?  ‘Mind over matter’ doesn’t work when your head feels like it’s stuffed with steel wool.

Day 5: I moved to the recliner, worked on some homework, and got through a chapter of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi.  What started out as a couple chapters of required reading had turned into a new found treasure.  Here I was feeling sorry for myself because I was forced to stay in bed.  The women in Nafisi’s book club (more of a class, really) were trapped in their own culture, forced to hide their bodies, and their minds, from the outside world.  I’m only a few chapters into the book, but I can already say that my own troubles are growing smaller as I read further.

When I was growing up, I heard my mother say, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw the man who had no feet.”  I understood what she was trying to teach us, but I never really appreciated it until recently.  It’s okay to feel badly when life is rough.  But it’s not okay to stay there.  Cry, get your feelings out, write about it in your journal, acknowledge your suffering.  Then, take a shower, get dressed, and move on.  Don’t let the misery take over.

When I have more energy, I’ll dust off my list of intentions and reschedule my projects.  Right now, I have some jeans to rewash.

My desk

on September 19, 2011 in Musings No Comments »

Every writer needs a place they can sit down and get the words out.  I used our dining table for years, but I never stopped asking for my own space.  So, my husband eventually built me a beautiful desk.  He listened as I told him what I wanted and the result is exquisite.

Chloe, our elderly Samoyed, stays underfoot to offer her silent support.

The window above my desk faces west.  I do most of my writing in the wee morning hours, so the afternoon Arizona sun isn’t a problem.

I do wish it wasn’t in the family room.  The kitchen is just to the left of this picture, complete with a cutout over the sink that used to be a window into the back patio, but we turned the patio into the family room when we remodeled.  It still beats sitting at the kitchen table!

Tim hung a bulletin board for me to keep my visual aids and notes where I could see them.  Writing my memoir has been difficult because of the time that has passed and having pictures right in front of me really helps.

I had fun putting all of my books into their places.

Emma enjoys climbing on top to snooze in the afternoons.

Little Mia can often be found in with the books.

I love my desk… perhaps too much.

If I’m not at work, I’m either sleeping or at my wonderful desk.  It is my favorite place to be.  Sadly, it currently looks like a hoarder’s warning.

Since our fire, I’ve been better about not adding to the mess, but I haven’t taken much time to remove existing clutter.  That’s the project for this weekend (in addition to the usual homework, shopping, housekeeping, and quality time with my wonderful husband).

Happy Writing!


on September 11, 2011 in Musings No Comments »

September 4th started like lazy Sundays usually do.  We slept in, well, Tim slept in.  I was up around 4, wrote a little, did a couple of loads of laundry, and started the dishwasher.  We had 11:30 reservations at our local cinema supper club to see the last Harry Potter film.  It’s out of the big theaters now, and I really wanted to see it on the big screen, so lunch and a movie was the date of the month!

Around 10, I got in the shower.  Tim was awake, but still in bed, having told me I better hustle if we were going to make it to the theater on time.  While rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, I heard Tim talking, assumed he was hurrying me along, and playfully hollered back, “What?  Do you want to come in?”  No response.  I heard more talking…  He wasn’t talking to me after all.

As I stepped out of the shower, Tim ran past the bathroom door, going into the bedroom.  Two seconds later he ran the other direction, and out the backdoor.  He was talking as he passed; all I heard was “…fire…”

While I was lathering, rinsing, and repeating, Zach was making his breakfast.  The outlet next to the toaster (where nothing was plugged in) caught fire.  Zach quickly got the fire extinguisher out from under the kitchen sink and pretty much emptied it in the direction of the flames.  He yelled for Tim and what I saw was Tim running in to get his shoes, then running out to turn off the kitchen breakers.  Everything was under control, there was very little damage, thanks to Zach’s fast reaction.

In July, we had a large haboob roll through.  For those of you that don’t live in the desert, a haboob is a dust storm that descends upon an area as a wall of dust that looks like a tsunami.

The dust was everywhere and the dry conditions kept it swirling in the air for days.  I had turned off the power to the smoke alarms because the dust kept setting them off.  I had also removed all of the back-up batteries, to prevent the chirping that the alarms used to alert us when the power was off.

We are pretty sure that the outlet shorted out, but nothing was plugged into it at the time.  Tim replaced the melted outlet, Zach started to clean up the residue powder from the fire extinguisher, and I put new batteries in all the smoke alarms and turned the breaker back on.  I shudder to think what could have, would have, happened if Zach hadn’t been in the kitchen at the time.  I bought a new fire extinguisher and put it in the cabinet under the sink.  It’s right up front, not buried behind the half empty cleaner bottles.

As we continued cleaning up the fine powder that the fire extinguisher, I looked around at our home.  We aren’t hoarders, but we do have more stuff than we need.  There are boxes of Zach’s stuff in the living room that need to go into storage.  The dining room table is covered with stacks of magazines and old mail.  Spice bottles line the counter tops, only a third of which ever get used.

The fire was a wake-up call to me to get my priorities in order.  My days are already filled to the brim, but if I can find time to plant myself in front of the television, I can chisel an hour a day out for cleaning and organizing and purging.  With Peter Walsh’s organizing book tucked into my stack of homework, I’m preparing to make a life change in how I live.  Goodbye, cluttered house.  Hello, peaceful home.