The youngest filling the shoes of the oldest

For almost a year now my oldest son has been gone, and boy have I missed him. He was always my best helper, but his absence has also brought positive developments. My youngest son who often tended to disappear first when it came to work around the house and the family farm can’t anymore. There is no older brother to take care of it for him.

To be honest I’m relieved he’s learned to step up. I no longer worry I’m raising a lazy man who won’t be of much value to his future wife. And, looking back, I realize his behavior might have been partly my fault. I always called out for my oldest son first when I needed a strong back to assist me when their father wasn’t home. But now that I know how capable my youngest is, he’s done for. He won’t be getting out of anything ever again, even after his older brother comes home in another year.

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Expanding My Talents

Working at a publishing house has opened many opportunities for me to learn different elements of the publishing business.

Growing up, I never thought I would ever be very good at the tangible arts like drawing or painting. I had tried and failed them on several occasions, so typical me shrugged it off and decided to look elsewhere for my hunger to create. I found it in writing, but this past year, I also discovered I really like creating book covers.

My latest endeavor came out at the beginning of the month. This one really challenged me to up my game with Photoshop. It’s so exciting to see a cover of my making that I truly feel elevates the fantastic sci-fi story within. Click on the book below if you want a closer look.

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The power of choice

I don’t know about you, but I’m surprised at how social media has become an never-ending experience of walking on eggshells for some. Heaven forbid you don’t agree with every single person your friends with. I hate to break it to you, but I’ve friended a lot of people on Facebook, and I don’t want to unfriend any of them. They all come from different backgrounds and life experiences, and their posts offer me a glimpses into their lives and many different view points. That’s something to be cherished, not destroyed.

Sometimes I don’t agree with what has been posted, but here’s the beautiful thing, after reading it I don’t have to repost it or comment on it. And If I do choose to comment on it, I have to accept that my opinions might not always be well received. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is important that we allow each to choose for themselves how they will think, feel, and act. Remember, trying to force people to do what you think is right has never made anyone a better person. Goodness is not something that can be dictated from others, it can only be found within. And true goodness is only real when it is offered to others freely, despite how you are being treated. No one has the power to stand in judgement of you, so stop allowing others and inanimate things to offend you. Every emotion you experience in life is a choice, choose wisely where you will expend that energy.

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Wishing will never be useful

Nothing you want in life happens by accident. The singer you revere on the radio, the movie star you love to watch, that incredible athlete everyone talks about, those people didn’t get there by accident. Success, however you want to define yours, will never be achieved by hoping for it. A sacrifice is always required, whether it be physical or emotional, those who reach their goals gave up something. So go beyond the wishful thoughts of things you want to happen in your life. Take a moment to consider what you are willing to give up to achieve said goal. The more you are willing to “bleed” for your desires, the better your chances. The path of least resistance is littered with mediocracy. Though the harder path is just that–hard–you’ll find it far more satisfying in the end.

Posted in Blasts from my pasts (popular re-posts), Things I wish I would have known when I was 15. | Leave a comment

Parenting: it’s not for the weak.

My thoughts on what makes a good parent has changed much over the years. My mother always told me to never say never when it came to kids, and boy, was she right. I had such grand thoughts before I had children…

I was never going to raise my voice. I was never going to say, “Because I said so.” I was never going to be that parent that had to physically drag my child anywhere.

After having my first child it wasn’t long before that first “never” went by the wayside. And trust me, I tried. I didn’t start by raising my voice. But sometimes, I swear, they couldn’t hear me until I’d lost my mind and given myself a sore throat. But as I grew into the parenting role through practice, things started to change. I actually don’t yell all that often anymore. I don’t need to. I’ve learned to stop talking until I have their attention. I’m a talker so when I go silent everyone notices, so this technique works like a charm for me.

I also didn’t start out breaking the second “never” until my kids were about three. You can only explain yourself so many times before you can’t take the “why” anymore and just say, “Because I said so.” As my kids have gotten older, I’ve learned to toss their whys back at them with questions of my own. “What are the house rules for late nights? Why do you think that’s a good idea? What might be a downside to that choice?” Making them have to verbally work out why they should or shouldn’t do something has all but ended the “Because I said so” argument. However, every once and a while they still try to get cheeky when told no, so “Because I said so” may truly never be gone. Good thing I’m a parent who can live with not being perfect.

The last “never” I failed at almost immediately. But I don’t regret failing at this one at all. It’s amazing how stubborn kids can be, and how strong you can be when they’re pitching a hairy fit in a public setting. Yeah, I’ll drag you all the way if I have to.

Over the years, I’ve master the ability to cross my arms and raise my eyebrows in such a way when I say one my kids’ name that they pretty much come running. Even last week, while we were at a seven-on-seven football tournament, I said my youngest son’s name with that look. You better believe he came running. He didn’t care that it made the other boys chuckle at his quick response to me. He knows I don’t use it lightly, and I’m dead serious and not above grabbing him by the ear to have a little talk.

You know, the more I think about it, maybe it’s not me getting better at being a parent. Maybe it’s that my children know my expectations and have learned to manipulate the situation to keep me pacified. Smart little buggers, but I remember being one too.

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My redhead…

My youngest child is blessed with the most outstanding of hair colors. It’s not just slightly red. Nobody is ever going to mistake his hair as an auburn or a strawberry blonde. This kid has a head of bright, in-your-face-vibrant, RED hair. Let’s just say, in a crowd of a thousand, you would be able to pick him out pretty quick, as long as he’s not wearing his infamous ballcap. He also has the blessing, well I think it’s a blessing, of this hair being extremely coarse. With all that natural texture, his hair doesn’t even know how to be flat to his head. He doesn’t like his hair long, so he has this perfect, short bouffant going on all the time, even when he takes a football helmet off.

Living with such audacious hair, he gets comments–both teasing and praise–everywhere he goes. Yet none of it, not even the mean jeering he sometimes gets seems to bother him. This last week, one of the high school football boys told my son as he was walking out to our vehicle after practice that he should do something about the ugly red hair on top of his head. I had my window open so I heard the comment, but before I could say anything, my son turned around.

“Thanks,” he said to the older boy. “At least we can confirm you’re not colorblind.”

He hopped into our truck with me sputtering into laughter. Of all my children, I’m the least worried about this child going to high school next year. The boy is downright fearless–even in the face of older students. And with those kinds of comebacks, I doubt there will be many who will try to raze him too much.

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The dance floor affect–I never saw it coming

At the beginning of my daughter’s high school experience, she was placed in a class called social dancing. This course is all about ballroom dancing. At first, she wasn’t thrilled, but it filled a required elective.

“It’s either this or art class,” I told her.

Yeah she was even less thrilled with that idea so she stayed in social dance. Over the course of that semester something happened. what started out as a chore or requirement turned into a passion.

Now, she’s pretty inhibited in social settings, especially if she thinks anybody is watching her, so the stone-faced expressions she made during her first-performance-ever! cracked me up. And yet, she desired to go back for more. We had to move her classes around the next semester so she could be in ballroom technique, which is just another step above the basic social dance class, but she loved it. I think I even remember her attempting to smile during that second public performance.

This year, as a junior, she finally made the JV ballroom team, and her mania for ballroom dancing has only grown. I never thought anything could get my daughter to come out of that self-inflicted shell she puts herself in, but then her teacher decided to give the JV ballroom a tango.

“A tango…?” I say when I hear the news, trying hard to keep my expression neutral. I mean I’m no ballroom expert but I recall that dance being a kind of sensual one. “So how’s that going?”

“Good. I have to be careful not to wrap my leg around his hip too hard before he dips me–my heel caught him the butt one time.”

She laughed at her comment, but my spinning thoughts were still stuck on the fact my daughter was willingly putting her leg around a boy’s waist. “So…you’re liking the chorography then?”

“Oh yeah. It’s so cool, I think it may be my favorite type of ballroom dancing yet.”

And this upcoming performance may be my favorite one to watch, just so I can confirm with my own eyes that it’s my inhibited daughter up there putting her leg around a boy before being dipped. I’ve failed for years at getting my daughter to be more social with her peers. If I had known ballroom would have this effect on her, I would have signed her up much earlier in life.

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The illusion of perfection

A good friend of mind recently told me that I never seemed to have a hair out of place.

“Have you ever had a bad hair day? It’s like perfection 24/7.”

I laughed so hard I snorted. “Um…don’t be deceived. I wake up to some pretty crazy hair every morning, so I don’t really have a choice. It’s either wear a hat with a really tight bun sticking out the back, or I have to wash my hair and start from scratch every day.”

She didn’t believe me so I took a picture the next morning and sent it to her. Yeah, it gave her a good laugh, but it also got me to thinking… How often do we measure ourselves against others?

Maybe they’re skinnier, maybe their face is done up to perfection, or their clothes always look so stylish. Basically you look at them and think, man that’s what it means to have your crap together. And yet, here I am, failing like always. But it isn’t true. Nobody has it all together all of the time. Everyone has start-from-scratch moments. Maybe yours aren’t daily, like my crazy hair requires, but everyone still has them. So hold your head up, and be a little kinder to yourself. And just in case you need proof and a laugh to feel better, here’s the picture I sent my friend. I guess I can officially say I have no shame.

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Kissing post

In writing, there’s a saying. “Exclamation points are a lot like printing money; the more you make, the less they’re worth!!!!!!!!” This theory of diluted value by overuse or excess is even true in our everyday lives. Just think about diamonds and other rare stones. No one would pay thousands of dollars if they became as common as gravel.  Yet, I must admit, as a teenager, I didn’t worry too much about this concept, especially when it came to kissing. Back then, I saw it as more of an experiment—a very fun lip-locking experiment. And since the best experiments require a wide range of test subjects, I sometimes found myself smooching boys just for the heck of it.            

It wasn’t until college, and I met my husband, that I realized how foolish I’d been. For months, while we were just friends, I watched how kind and courteous he was to the female gender. He dated, went to dances, and hung out, yet he wasn’t like other guys.  He never kissed.

Once I decided my interest in him had changed beyond friendship, I elbowed my way to the front of the pack. (I am many things—shy is not one of them.)

It only took only a few weeks of dating for me to figure out that I had caught one dandy of a farm boy, but we still had never kissed. Finally, one night, as he turned to leave after having walked me to my door, I said, “Aren’t you ever going to kiss me?”

“Well, there’s a problem with that…” (Right about now, my heart was sinking)  “…If I do, you’ll never get rid of me.”  

You see, as a young man, he had made up his mind never to kiss anyone except his wife. If I kissed him, I would be his first, and his last. A rare pucker up indeed, one that went well beyond the common worthless kisses I’d indulged in throughout the years to satisfy my curiosity. 

It only took a moment for me to consider what he was offering. Anyone who made such a promise to themselves, then had the tenacity to follow it through, was my kind of man—committed. I laid one on him and never looked back.

Now here’s the important part I want you take away from this story. That first kiss wasn’t overly flashy with a lot of built up sexual tension like you see in the movies. What made that kiss riveting, and the many that have followed, is knowing they are all mine. No one else will ever experience them but me. I hope you’ll consider that before you make the same mistake I did, and dilute your kisses by sharing them with almost every person you meet.

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Blinded by electronics

For all the great things technology can do these days, I can say without a shadow of doubt it is ruining the rising generation’s interpersonal skills. As long their thumbs are doing the talking or they are speaking over a headset about the next plan to execute in a video game, they are fine. But you put them in a room together and they don’t know what to do. More often than not they don’t even bother to try. They just drop their eyes to their perspective phones and type or watch away. The real world is literally passing them by.

As someone who grew up before the internet was even a thing, it’s so frustrating to watch. I’m like a broken record, constantly reminding my children they need to work harder at building relationships with other teenagers–you know physically meet them. And there are days when I feel like I’m never going to get through to them. Won’t they be sorry if that’s the case–kissing your phone screen isn’t nearly as fun as somebody else’s lips. But if you can’t even carry on a conversation when somebody’s in the room with you, there’s a good chance those lips won’t be seeing any action–ever.

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