I Am Losing It

I used to have an edge.

I used to wake up every morning intent on being the best at something, and there were times when I actually was. I felt like I had the drive of a national team player..even if I really didn’t.

Whether it were grades in school, performance on a field or on a court, working harder than the next guy at my job.  My life revolved around being the best at everything I did.

Something drastic has happened to my competitive drive.

I still have goals, and I hope to make a difference with my life, but I am losing the focus to succeed.

That’s a problem, right?

I should still want to be better than everyone else, at writing sentences or connecting on social media. I should be faster and stronger and more competent than everyone around me.

That’s not what I want anymore.

Maybe it’s a midlife thing. Maybe I am finally looking around and wondering what purpose is served by being the best.

Maybe the point is not to be first in line, but to be the most pleasant and loving person standing in line. To pay attention to those around me. To make eye contact and engage intently. How could I ever do that if I am keeping my focus in front of me, only glancing behind to make sure no one is gaining on me?

God is working on me….of this I am sure.

I wrote two blog posts last week, for my new Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It . The first had to do with the fact that, instead of division I level competition,  I am doing Jazzercise now. The second talked about how top-level female athletes are wielding sex-appeal to drive up the popularity of women in sports.  I had no idea that these two things were going to collide for me this morning.

I woke up eager to get to my Jazzercise class, and as we exercised, I fumbled with a few of the new songs. There is nothing quite as humbling as having had so many years of physical prowess mean nothing as my feet are supposed to sashe’ across the room gracefully. I’ve never moved that way.

Toward the end of the class, when we were in a long set of shoulder presses, the instructor started talking about Dancing with the Stars. She was rattling off the famous contestants, and I was just waiting to hear her announce that Hope Solo was among the contestants.  She asked us who she was missing, and I piped up, “Hope Solo!”

“Hope Solo, who’s that?” She looked at me with a quizzical expression.

“She’s the goalie for the US National soccer team,” I told her.

“Oh, a soccer player,” she relayed to the class through her microphone as she continued to press and lift and press and lift.

There is a part of me that is sad Hope Solo is not a name Jazzercisers apparently know, but now I am really hoping she does well in the competition. She deserves to have people know who she is, and soccer deserves some pop-culture recognition. Hope is crossing a line into celebrity, and I will be cheering for her to do well.

Going to Jazzercise crosses a line for me too. My college teammates can hardly imagine that I am floating on a wood floor lifting barely more than five pounds in my lifting routine, but I love it.

I love it because it is new, I have to learn something, I get better each time, it is not monotonous, it is social, it is not competitive, and I feel great when I’m done.  That’s all I need exercise to be for me anymore.

I have shed the attitude that if women cannot move as quickly as I can, or are as coordinated as I am, or have the strength I admire, they are not worth my time.

I applaud the women who go to these classes who are heavy, or older, or not quite as coordinated as other athletes I’ve known. They show up.

What makes their exercise, their presence in that room, any less important? They are each worthy of the unconditional love we all crave. (Oh my gosh, I think I’m sounding like a hippie pacifist or something!!)

There is a place for competition, but I want to invest more time in my life on  relationships. I don’t want to beat people anymore, and if that is the “IT” I’ve lost, I’m seriously okay with that.

In the next few days, I’ll be writing a blogpost on the Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It blog about whether winning and losing should be the focus for sports, and if that should be the aim at every level of competition.  If you are interested in the sports theme and topic, make sure to subscribe to that blog.  Rarely are my two blogs going to collide like they did today.

Learn more about Meagan at her website:  www.meaganfrank.com

Vow of a Survivor

SURVIVORA person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

I am not a widow.

I’m not a grieving child, co-worker, friend, parent or sibling.

I didn’t run from the smoky plume and in fact I was thousands of miles from the east coast on that day.

Instead… I walked somberly to the park with our one-year-old and sat helpless in the vacant, quiet sunshine.

I couldn’t share the television horror anymore.

On my solitary bench, I tried, desperately, to reconcile the babbling of my clueless  toddler with the silence of the eerily empty skies.

His world would never be the world of my childhood.

My general defense for overwhelming emotion was to be spurred to action, and with the sadness and grief that flooded my heart, there should have been some dramatic action.

I didn’t do anything that day.

I didn’t know what to do.   I have never felt so helpless in my entire life.

As the days went by, I prayed, I cried, I donated and I took thank you cookies to our local firefighters, but it felt intensely insignificant.

And still… ten years later, I feel small and incapable.

I can do little more than cry buckets while watching the memorials, tear up with the mention of a name, cry more at the recollection of the heroic and horribly tragic stories. I can do that…I can remember… and I can write.

I don’t deserve to be this sad. I don’t deserve these tears…this heartbreak.

The tears come anyway. I just can’t help it.  Maybe that’s all I’m meant to do. I cry because I remember. I write because it’s the only thing I can do.

There are millions and millions of survivors from that day. Those of us who experienced the fear from the comfort of our living rooms or the desks in our offices.

What do we do with that?

We remember…

We memorialize, we pray, we cry, we teach, we cry, we write, we sing, we put together photo montages and with every passing day…we survive.

I cannot change my role for that event, and so now I need to continue to live on, to move forward, to function despite hardship and opposition.

I’m a survivor and I vow to Never Forget.

S. B. Niccum Interview and Book Giveaway

S. B. Niccum is visiting the blog room today.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to have an opportunity to share some space with this up and coming author. You may find that I’ll be doing this from time to time.

Hi Silvina,
Welcome to Choosing to Grow. I am looking forward to introducing you to some of my blog readers and to give people plenty of reason to get their hands on Veiled.

I think you have an amazing personal story, can you tell us a little about that.

Let’s start with where you are from?

I was born in Rosario, Argentina; the second largest city in the country, so not what most people think when they think South America.

Neither do I look Latina or Hispanic, though I am.  Argentines are mostly of Spanish and Italian ancestry and that’s precisely what I am; third generation,both.  My mom grew up speaking Spanish and Italian.  I only spoke Spanish until my family moved to the U.S. when I was fourteen years old.  Then I had to learn English or be an outcast.  Being as white as I am, I even got discriminated by the Latinos in school!

Where do you live now?

Now we live in Dallas, Texas.  It’s growing on me.  In my 12 yrs. of marriage we moved 10 times!  (Remind you of someone? This was one of the reasons why your book hit home with me!)

We do have a lot in common! How long have you been writing?

I have loved to write since I was little.  In fourth grade, I wrote my first set of books.  That was a very prolific year for me!  I wish I still had some of them.  After that I always found solace in writing.  As a teenager, moving to the U.S. was a traumatic experience and those first two years were very prolific as well.  I should find those journals and see what I can do with them.

That would be an interesting read, I’m sure!

In college I loved my writing classes, and I think I got by in school by being able to write well.  In fact I’m pretty sure I passed World Economics mostly because I can
write a pretty good paper.

I would bet you are right… you sure can write!

Most of my fiction has been in Spanish, Veiled was my first attempt to write in English and my first attempt at a full length novel.

I have to tell you, I’m not sure what I expected from a novel that was a first attempt at writing in English, but people reading it who don’t know, would never guess that English is not your first language.

What are some of the other “jobs” that occupy your time?

My time is very well occupied.  In fact, I have every half hour scheduled.  Besides writing every day, and working out, I homechool my three children, then I drive them to sports and then take care of my hubby.  …Well I cook for him.  I also read A LOT! ( my favorite pastime)  On weekends we like to Kayak and ride bikes.

I like to tell people that I am busy, but I think your list of daily responsibilities makes me sound a little lazy 🙂

Tell us a little more about the people who share a home with you?

My husband and best friend (my sunshine and my storm, as someone once said), then my oldest son 11, my 6 year old son and my baby girl, 4 years old.  We also have three tortoises, a dog and a pac-man frog named Java (he eats small mice).

That is a lot of life in one space. Again…you have shamed me!

The characters in your book are all gifted in some way…if you were to pick one gift of yours that might be most dominant in your personality, what would you say it is, and why?

I picked Discernment for my main character because I’m familiar with it.  I get vibes about people; always have.  I have had the good sense to know when to stay away from certain characters I’ve encountered over my lifetime and I have lived to be thankful for this later.

I still remember getting really bad vibes about this dude, and low and behold, a year later it came out what a creepy, nasty fellow he was.  Likewise, I have had good hunches about people that would not look like your traditional person and they have turned out to be some of my most trusted friends. I can’t read minds or anything, but sometimes I just know….

Thank goodness you do.

Let me ask you a couple questions about you as an author. How
many books have you written?

I just finished the sequel to Veiled, named Living Soul, so now I’ve written two!

Congratulations!  What an accomplishment.

 Where is your favorite place to write?

Kitchen table, with some toast and my Yerba Mate tea.

What has been your most memorable experience as an author?

When someone I don’t know leaves me a message, telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my book and how it’s opened up a whole new way of seeing things for them.  One lady in particular made me cry (in a good way) by how much the story touched her.  Like any author, my books are part of me and my heart has gone into the making of it.  So hearing that others liked it, is the best feeling in the world!

Agreed.

What is one thing that you never expected when you decided to pursue a career in writing?

I never expected it to happen!  I hoped, I dreamed, I worked toward it; but I
must say that it was unexpected that it actually happened!  Something else unexpected has happened, and that is the onslaught of ideas that pour into my head daily.  Before I wrote Veiled, I struggled to get a whole story in my head to work out.  Now I see them from beginning to end and they come at me in an almost magical way.  This has been a great blessing, because I have found that I enjoy writing more than almost anything.

We’re all blessed by that, you know. You need to keep sharing your stories, most definitely!

Let’s tell people a little about Veiled. shall we? I loved it, by the way! It was, without a doubt, unlike any story I have ever read. It offers such an interesting way to look at life…the before-life and ultimately the present life. You really did a good job opening up those new thoughts. 

When did the story of Veiled start to take shape in your mind?

The plight and the ending to Veiled came to me one day as I was reading the Scriptures.  One thing led to another and pretty soon I found myself daydreaming about the two main characters.  I started writing immediately because I didn’t want to lose them.  They were so real!  After that I wrote every day for a whole year until Veiled was done.

You are incredibly disciplined. I could learn from you!

What scene gave you the most trouble?

The beginning for sure! There was so much to explain and I had a word limit restriction for YA’s.  I had two or three different beginnings and in the end I went for the one I thought best explained the situation. The premise is so different from anything else out there that I’m afraid people have had to hang in there with me until the story takes shape.

That’s true, but I contend it is worth hanging with you!              

The concept of your book is about the idea of eternity prior to existence here on earth. People think about life, and the after-life, but very rarely the before-life. 

What is it about the before-life that called you to this story?

Oooh, I can talk for hours about this…and I did!  My fascination with this, are the seemingly odd things that we experience now.  For example: Déjà vu, but with people.  Have you ever experienced this?  I have.  With friends…my husband…my children.  I still remember seeing one of my sons smile for the first time and my immediate thought was “that is so Porter!” like I knew him!  As if he had been cracking jokes for years and I knew this about him, but he was only a new born.

How about those feelings we have that we need to get to know ourselves, like we know who we are deep inside, but we have forgotten… and we need to live in order to remember.

Also, why is it that people always say that newborns have just left heaven?  Where does that come from? It’s so universal too.  I know people from all over the world that have similar beliefs.

 People read books for the experience of it…what will readers experience when they read Veiled?

Readers will experience a YA unlike any other.  Veiled does not follow the typical norm when it comes to romantic YA literature.  It is a fantasy and a journey into a world unlike any other.  I firmly believe that you can have fun and be uplifted at the same time, and that is what Veiled is.

I could not have said it better myself!

Can you tell us a little about the sequel, Living Soul?

Living Soul takes place on Earth and it chronicles Tess’ life.

“Birth is but a sleep and a forgetting…” William Wordsworth

After a traumatic childhood experience Tess ends up in foster care and with no recollection of the first five years of her life.  As she struggles with all the typical high school dramas, she also has to put up with her evil foster sister, help her
Autistic foster brother and ignore some funky paranormal phenomena that she
would rather not have in her life.

Let’s not even mention the fact that the most popular kid in school and
her biggest crush, Alex Preston, has a gorgeous girlfriend that likes to torture her on the side.

Sounds fantastic!

What are some other things you hope to do with your writing?

My main goal with my writing is to entertain and inspire or uplift.  I’m not into depressing lit.

Well, you’ve achieved your goal with your first shot out, I can only imagine where you will go from here.

Is there anything else you really want the readers to know?

No thanks, I’m good J

Thanks for having me!!! I really appreciate it.

Anytime!  This has been really fun.

To learn more about S. B. Niccum, you can find her at the following connecting points. You won’t be sorry you’ve started following her.

http://sbniccum.com

http://spiritualsupernaturalparanomal.blogspot.com

http://facebook.com/silvina.niccum

http://chicksinlit.blogspot.com
I have it on good authority that there is a copy of Veiled up for grabs. I would bet I can get S.B. Niccum to sign it too.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this blogpost, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book.  The giveaway will run until 9/23/11. Good Luck!!!

Wednesday Walkin’ On Sunshine

Yes, I know this is a bike, and that when I am rolling, I am not technically walking, but it’s my “walk” and I am perfectly comfortable using what I need to use, to get where I need to go.

Where do I go? Nowhere in particular, really. It’s the moving from here to there that counts. Important too, is what I see, and who I become along the way.

This bike ride was an opening for me.

For this particular impromptu ride, I had no set destination. I found my house life-less. My husband had the kids and the dog, and I had a couple hours to kill. So, I stuffed in my head phones, loaded myself onto my bike and headed out. I wanted to find a new path that my friend had told me about.

Before I knew it I was whirring by houses and trees and rolling down into the shaded cool offered around every bend.

That’s when it hit me. This Minnesota lake ride was without many climbs, but I was slowly covering the figure eight patterns as I wove myself in and out of the lake paths.

Circles. Rolling. Round. Endless.

I felt the gratification I sought when I would find myself at a starting point for a lake path.  And then I wanted to do another one….and another one. Lake after lake after lake…

Around, and around and around. Each time coming back to the place I had started a few minutes before, but when I met back up at the start/end point, I had done some revolutions of my own.

Why did this feel so different than my workouts and journeys in Colorado?

Linear versus circular. Colorado: up and down…there to here. Lines with A and B points that are not usually in the same spot. Sure, it’s a loop, or a boomerang, but it is oblong if it connects.

Minnesota is circles and figure-eights and flow.

Mountains are angular, hard, unforgiving and internally challenging with every step. The growing that happens around those rocks often takes place in the hikers who tackle them.

Water of the lakes around here is soft, mesmerizing, slowly thought-provoking, and more life encases these paths than I could possibly comprehend.

Maybe people need these contrasts in their lives. The changing of seasons, the dichotomy of geography.

Calendars…linear.  Seasons…cyclical.

Lines and angles to measure the distances to planets we can see, and the circular orbits they occupy.

We need both.  I need both.

Writing is both the lines and the artistic swirls for me. Rules of grammar, sticks of letters, lines of sentences. Molded and shaped to come back around again to an idea that started it all.

I come home from my walks…similar to when I finish a piece of  writing…changed and ready to share what I gained along the way. I captured pictures and phrases and then I try to use the lines of a blank page to mix and create a soft image among the letters.

I’m good at the architecture of writing. I have spent my entire life in the lines of Colorado. Learning well the here to there…the expectations of the unforgiving and learning the right way to do things.

It is only now, finally, I find myself craving more of the curves. An impromptu ride on the infinity sign that I hope will allow me to continue to work on the “art” of the circular paths.

I think I’ll go for a bike ride…

I hope to make it a regular thing to record how my “walks” are changing me. I’d love to submit a “Wednesday Walkin’ On Sunshine” blogpost every week or two. A chance to work on the craft, and to keep my eyes open to the inspiration around me. Feel free to link up your own blogposts and pictures that fall in line with this theme.  Maybe it will grow into something.

I have some pictures on my website from my “walks” over the last two weeks.  Head over to check it out:  Meagan Frank. com

Changing Perspective

I took all of these pictures on my various walks.

Taken while hiking on Huron Peak July 2011

After countless walks, hikes, hill climbs and strolls in the thin air of Colorado…I’m finally back to taking my regular walks in and around the paths of the lakes here in Minnesota.

Nearing the summit of Huron Peak

Beauty in Colorado is massive. The scenery leaves me literally breathless at the majesty of it all.

I completely understand the compelling inspiration that takes hold while standing at the top of something I’ve scaled. With every step…both up and down…I am changed.
I worried, at the beginning of the summer, about the direction of our lives. I wrote about feeling like we had not yet achieved where we want to be as a couple, and as a family, and I was standing  on the precipice of a new beginning.
I am grateful for perspective.
This summer has been an evaluative reflection about our life goals, our ambitions, our assessment of where we’ve been and where we’d like to go. We had the amazing opportunity to do this searching from the various living rooms we were encouraged to call home, and it was an unexpected blessing in perspective.
It was that change in vantage point, a shift in expectation that brought something to light for me.
We don’t have to reach a pinnacle…or achieve a life we think we desire. Summitting is not the point.
Perspective is.
It’s how we’re changed by the smallest of things. The smile from a stranger, the overheard laughter of a child, or the tears of a grieving mother.
People talk all the time about how the experiences they have “puts things in perspective” for them. Perspective is not a static state of being, it is a living, breathing thing that offers us opportunity for growth every second of every day.
The kicker is, perspective takes intention.
It is all there for us to see, to embrace, to smell, to feel, but we have to be willing to let it in.
When our family leaves our Minnesota home at the start of every summer, the flowers have started to bloom and the leaves are slowly unfurling. It is upon our return that we are greeted by the green cocoon of the never-ending foliage.  It is an intimate and all-encompassing beauty of its own. I notice it because I’ve been absent, but I hope to notice the subtle beauty when I am surrounded by it every day.

taken early springSame lake August 2011

 Perspective comes in so many different packages. We gain perspective with aging,  with contemplation and acceptance of our own mortality. When we live out of our means either with lavish spoiling or depleted resources, we gain new perspective. Traveling, and especially international traveling, opens doors and windows in our souls that let in that fresh perspective.
Those are some of the ways I plan to implement the perspective growth into my life.
I contend, however, that I should challenge myself daily to see the world through new and growing eyes. Every walk is different, every scene unique, and it is energizing to be on the lookout for how to change my point of view.

Same lake August 2011

I walk the same path, a lot, but it is not the same path from day to day. On today’s walk, I saw a cardinal and a frog. I caught a cottonwood seed floating to the ground, and I stopped to feel the petals of a strikingly beautiful flower.
Yesterday I saw a man sitting at a bench working on his laptop and he and I agreed he had a pretty cool office.
The landscape changes through the seasons and so too should my perspective .
I am not giving up on goals and hopes and dreams, but I am going to intentionally find perspective. No matter if I am running my hand in the water as we troll in the boat, or I am gazing out at a mountain range from a lofty perch.
Each person I meet is an opportunity for gaining more insight, but I have to be willing to open myself up to their perspective.
In the next few weeks, I plan to start a weekly blogpost (hopefully to be published on Wednesdays) unveiling a Wednesday Walk Perspective. I invite you all to join me, and in your comments you can post how your walks have changed you through the week. I will hopefully be able to post some of your pictures too, so take your phone or your camera with you when you go. Stay tuned!
As much as it may sound like work to live intentionally, I have found more joy and peace since I adopted this way of living. Choosing to Grow is a choice worth making…

And the Lightning Rolls…

In Colorado…lightning is shocking.

Yes, of course, I know lightning is shocking everywhere, but there is something so different about the dry, static of Colorado.

From the seemingly clear blue sky, a bolt can materialize and disappear in nearly the same instant. Against the backdrop of an otherwise sunny day, you’re never really sure you saw any lightning at all.

It’s much easier to have confidence there has been a flash, if it is set against the dark backdrop of mountains, and especially if those mountains are shrouded in night’s darkness.

For several days last week, the thunderstorms would roll over the mountains and throw down electricity and water well into the night.

I found myself driving home adjacent to the show two times last week. The thing about Colorado storms is that, sometimes, you do not have to be in them to watch them. The night sky lit gloriously several miles away, revealing the outline of the clouds and mountains.

It got me thinking about time and life.

During a couple of our hikes this year, I could not stop thinking about the fact that I was walking on a time machine. The geologic majesty of mountains and foothills, and random remnants of volcanic centers makes for amazing climbing, but even more fascinating reflection.

In contrast to the age of any mountain, our lives are much more like the instaneous and ephemeral presence of lightning. As we clamored up and around the rocks and trails, I realized how short our lives are compared to the presence of the massive boulders under our feet.

So what do I do with that? My life is a flash in the pan, literally.

I suppose it is about striking in the right way. Leaving my mark so that those who come after me will remember and acknowledge that I was here at all.

There are plenty of reminders, as we hike, of those who have come before us. Someone blazed the trail, several someones laid the train tracks, and in order to be prepared to strike out in our own way, we need to come to terms with what has already been achieved.

At Devil’s Head National Park, for example, getting to the top of the smoke spotter lookout station is a hike and stair climb that changes those who do it.

Part of what I marveled at was the fact that in 1907, someone decided to build a lookout station on the top of the highest rock around.

Big Sprout was impressed by that too. “How in the world did they get this up here?” he asked.

I pondered the same thing. Mind blowing and impressive. Much like the rocks themselves. Equally impressive were the lightning rods that shot out of the four corners of the building… inviting in the ephemeral.

Life is about rocks and lightning. Appreciating and understanding the eternal while making room to embrace and adore the present.

The rocks we climb have been here for thousands upon thousands of years…and they will continue to be here thousands of years after we’re gone.

I’m a short-lived lighning bolt. I could seem insignificant in the larger scheme of things…but that is up to me.

How will I harness my energy? What will I do to leave my mark? Can I be the ingenuity behind a rockface staircase, or will I work instead to spread light as far and as wide as I can?

In short reply…yes. (and the thunder clap quickly follows…)

For information about Meagan, or her first book, Choosing to Grow: Through Marriage. Visit her website at www.meaganfrank.com

Houses Houses Everywhere, But Not A Home for Me

It’s one thing to watch the view change outside the same kitchen window.  As the seasons come and go and the landscape changes in response, the perspective gained while sitting in the same chair, day after day, is usually enough to effect change in the observer.

What happens when it is the kitchen that changes?

My kitchen chair has occupied eight different spaces in thirteen years.  I’ve left that chair empty for the past six summers while I bounced from one kitchen view to the next. (9 summer places altogether) That is seventeen different kitchen views…

I’m lucky…and blessed…and appreciative for the life that has opened up the doors of houses for me, but I know not one of them is the home I need…nor want.

 

 

Head over to my website to finish reading this post.

Who Do You Think You Are?

This has been a big year in our house. A title-changing year, in fact. I abandoned my title as coach and I took up the title of author.

Part of me is glad I didn’t know how hard that was going to be… I might not have done it. The momentum of my life, my job, our income was comfortable and the routine, although insane, was predictable.

Nothing is predictable any more.

Part of the reason is that, although I’m getting closer to how I want to define myself as a writer, I’m definitely not there yet. I am working to find a way to use my writing in a way to best contribute to this family, to make a difference in the world at large and to satisfy the deeply-rooted desires of my heart.

In a fantasy world, I would be able to write all day, my children would play happily in the background as they soaked up the intellectual, positively emotional and physical world around them. My husband would be readily available for banter and support and I would be bringing in enough money to feed, clothe and house the members of our family.

That fantasy world will never exist, so I am left wondering how a writer can successfully contribute to the needs of a young, growing family. The reality is that our children need a caretaker, chaffeur, chef, scheduler and emotional sounding board right now, and I’ve changed my professional title so that I can better care for them.

I have re-prioritized my time to put our children ahead of a job that pays consistent money, and I have to believe I’ve made the right choice.

I had the opportunity, in the last few weeks, to meet, in person, a woman I have come to admire greatly through our online blogging connection. (as an aside, she is just as incredible in person!) She and I were talking about how hard it is to be fully ourselves when we are consistently pulled by the demands of the children we mother.

So here I sit…with the roles I am, and the way I feel they should be prioritized.

I am a wife.

I am a mother.

I am a writer.

I told Big Sprout the other day that it is so important to discover who you are. So many people do a whole lot of stuff that has nothing to do with who they are. I believe it is God’s design that we do who we are.

So, I’ve found who I am, and my next challenge is to do life in a way that celebrates that discovery while providing an opportunity for everyone else in my house to do the same thing.

I am open to doing more…just as long as I can still find time to do, and be, who I am.

Check out my latest identity creation…Meagan Frank-author website  

For all the Blog Ball Dancers…thanks for visiting, and here is the magic bookshelf:

Remembering for Memorial Day

For the families, friends and soldiers left behind…

I don’t remember, what you remember…you knew your soldier best.

I only know in imaginings who that soldier is at rest.

It may not be a name I know, but it’s a daughter or a son…

A loved one lost before the time his or her life had quite begun.

Or maybe they were taken as they lived life the best way they knew.

Committed to that sacrifice…a lifelong soldier through and through.

And now it’s there, for the rest of us, to remember what it costs

To have a day of pensive rest, we can’t forget what has been lost.

 

We join our cabin neighbors for the Memorial weekend fun,

But I want you to know I won’t forget the freedom that’s been won.

I watch those boats, on the foggy horizon, of our peaceful lake

I know it would be vastly changed if soldiers’ lives weren’t put at stake.

So thank you that my family can fish… and swim and laugh and play

And all because the soldiers know that there are times they just can’t stay.

Thank you for what it means to have smiles and laughter turn into loss,

I bend my knee and close my eyes as I contemplate that white cross.

And for all the soldiers, everywhere, who still stand for what’s been won

I pray you’ll enjoy the freedom you defend with all your loved ones.

The blessings you have afforded us, belong to all of you too,

And I want you to know there are hardly enough ways to say:

Thank You!

Confessions of an Unknown Author…

No one showed up at my first official bookstore book signing.  Actually three people did: the editor I worked for at the newspaper, a woman who thought she might like to get the book for her daughter and the bookstore owner.

I had spent the weekend preparing a presentation that explained how I ended up having a book to present at all, and the only person who got to hear it was my husband.

“I’m sorry mom,” hugged Little Sprout.

“That’s really sad,” moped Middle Sprout, and the guys in the house didn’t know what they should say.

“It’s really okay guys,” I comforted them. “It just wasn’t a good day for a book signing.”

And it wasn’t.  The sun had come out for the first time in what felt like months, and even I had a hard time coming in from the vitamin D bath.

I still shared as much of myself, and the book, as I could, without the formality of a large group.

I sold six books.  Three to the two attendees and three that may sit on the bookstore shelf for years and years.

It is okay. I’m not just saying that to convince myself. I really do believe it. My intention for the book was to record how I have, and still do, invest in the healing of the relationships in my house, and I offer it to anyone who might want to do the same.

I am coming to grips with the fact that I will never be able to force this on people…cajole them to buy it…demand them to buy into it.  It is there for the taking and I will simply continue to offer.

It is thinking like The Giving Tree, I suppose.  The sacrificial tree that ends up as a stump at the end, but who offered any kind of love the boy needed.  It was always there, waiting for the boy to ask. I have always loved that book.

For much of my life I identified more with the boy than I did with the tree, but I understand the profound presence of that tree.

Rooted in fertile and loving ground, we all have something grand to offer those around us.  Sometimes the offering is shade, sometimes it is a tire swing to enjoy, sometimes it is the materials we need to build something new.

When I got back to the cabin, from my book signing, I spent the next hour picking up strewn branches from the latest wind storm.  Our cabin yard is full of the biggest, oldest, strongest trees.  There are some dead branches there though, and a whole bunch of them found their way to the ground.

It got me thinking about the offerings of strong, healthy trees, and that even they have some dead branches along the way.

I wrote a post a few weeks back about Books and Knives. It was actually titled Knives and Books, but I am having a shift in thinking, and I really wish I had put books first. The post was about selling my recent book, and how much I hate that part of being an author.  I am starting to think about this book, Choosing to Grow: Through Marriage , as an offering of love, rather than as a product to consume.

It was a commenter on that post, a conversation with a respected author and friend of mine, and a current book I am reading that started my heart toward transformation.

The blog commenter has become an incredibly important part of my definition of my life as a writer…and as a person. I have never met him, and I am just now starting to read his stuff, but I am compelled to be changed by him.

I read his posts the minute I see he has written something and I am profoundly changed after every one. The title of his blog is PrivilegeofParenting, and if you are in the business of self-growth, deep thinking and contemplation, I strongly encourage you to check him out.

My award-winning author friend, and amazing woman, Karen Pavlicin, challenged me to define my goals as a writer. When I think about what it is I want to offer the world, I keep coming back to love. I want my day to reflect as many offerings as I can make, and one aspect of that comes in my writing.

I am a writer. Deciding what I want my life to look like has shaped the way I want writing to work in my life.

The book that has had an impact on this evolving self-definition was recommended by a counselor who read my book. He must have read between the lines some other healing I have yet to do.

So I have started reading Healing the Shame that Binds You, by John Bradshaw, and I am loosening my grip on hyper-achievement.   I have spent my life trying to be the best, and I have some lifelong habits to break. My efforts with my own book have revealed some of those needed changes.

So it is Dr. Bruce Dolin , Karen Pavlicin, and John Bradshaw, who are helping me to realize that sometimes just offering is enough.

So this post is dedicated to readers and writers alike who want the inside scoop about the writing life…well, at least my writing life.