Friday, February 13th, 2015 • No Comments
I’m very happy to have had my first piece published at Mommyish last week. In “Why I Stopped Saying ‘Someday’ When It Came to Having Kids” (which I’d originally titled the shorter, and perhaps too-poetic, “Someday’s Mother”), I wrote about my non-traditional path to motherhood. The interesting (to me) story-behind-the-story is that I’d originally pitched a different essay entirely. But in my brief bio I mentioned I’d been married for almost twenty-five years and had two sons, ages three and five. The editor at Mommyish was intrigued by that and asked if I’d be willing to write about why we waited so long to have kids. And so… this essay was born. Here’s a snippet:
I turned forty in 2007. We had been married for seventeen years and people had long since stopped asking when we were going to have kids. We still said, “Someday when we have kids,” but the articles and statistics about conceiving after thirty-five were concerning. “Someday” was slipping away from me. I was on birth control and it was unlikely we’d have another accidental pregnancy. I needed to commit to the idea if it was ever going to happen. I threw out my birth control pills at the end of 2007 and read up on getting pregnant at my age. The articles scared me. I was worried about my eggs—did I have any left? Were they viable? Were they old, dusty, scrambled
(Read more: http://www.mommyish.com/2015/02/06/stopped-saying-someday-came-kids/#ixzz3RepAg0UD)
With the exception of a big typo (“basil” instead of “basal”), I’m really pleased with how this piece turned out. Despite trying to maintain a “don’t read the comments” policy, the comments have been amazing. It’s rewarding to be able to cross over from fiction to nonfiction and back again. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing a lot of zig-zagging this year.
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 • No Comments
I don’t get to Starbucks as often as I used to when I had a babysitter and a real work schedule, but they still love me.
January is not my favorite month. The post-holiday letdown is compounded with cold days, long nights, dreary weather (rain, snow or both) and nothing to look forward to. I had my ups and downs this month (with the downs including illness for both kids, stitches in the chin for the youngest kid and the winter blues and a lingering cold for me), but overall it’s been a better month than I could have hoped for.
Professionally, I wrote some words and made some sales. By the numbers:
I had about 26 writing/editing work hours. Those are out-of-the-house-all-alone hours! About 10 hours of that was used on admin– proofreading galleys, emailing acceptances and rejections for two forthcoming anthologies, responding to other work-related emails, researching markets, etc. Considering my typical work week with childcare used to be about 25-30 hours in a week, it’s been quite an adjustment the last few months. But I’m adjusting!
I wrote about 11k (7k of that was a horror story!). Most of that writing was done at Starbucks, but I did spend a few hours writing at home after the boys were in bed or busy playing, and I even managed to write 1k at Starbucks with my youngest in tow (I’m grateful for iPads and Angry Birds). It’s much harder to concentrated when the kids are awake (and the interruptions are frequent), but I can sometimes manage it if I know what I’m going to write.
I submitted 3 essays and 1 short story. I’m happy to have sent some pieces out into the world, but I hope to be working on longer projects in the coming months. Instant gratification is awesome, though, and essays and short stories sustain me during the times when my writing hours are sparse.
I sold 2 essays and cracked two new markets. I’m pleased to say my first essays for Mommyish and On Parenting at The Washington Post will appear soon! I supposed it makes sense that I’m writing parenting pieces now that I’m home full-time and steeped in all things maternal. Links to come.
The rest of my January hours were spent with family and friends– managing children’s schedules and health, catching a couple of movies (Mockingjay Part 1 and Inherent Vice), reading (I enjoyed Easy Death by Daniel Boyd and I’m currently reading Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King), hosting one dinner party and visiting the city parks when the weather permitted. We had one snow day with no accumulation, but the boys enjoyed the less-than-an-inch of white stuff before it melted.
These are days of contemplation and planning– of looking forward but being in no hurry for the months to pass. Spring will be here soon enough. Until then, there is much to look forward to, including our first big family trip next month. We’re going to Walt Disney World and I’m excited about introducing the boys to Mickey Mouse (and finding the WDW Starbucks, of course). So all in all, though I could’ve done without the ER visit for the three-year-old (he’s fine, but sheesh, these kids!) and the colds and viruses that seem to plague us now that big brother is in school part-time, January has been a fine month.
Onward to February…
Friday, January 2nd, 2015 • 2 Comments
The bracelet Jay got me for Christmas. It says: “She believed she could, so she did.”
I used to make goals for each new year. I never really called them resolutions, as that seems too formal (and formidable), but I always had a few things in mind that I wanted to work toward. Writing goals, health goals, general self-care and well-being goals. My success rate was about 50%, which pleased me– I like challenges, y’know? A 100% success rate would mean I wasn’t challenging myself. And so, that’s how I went for many years– establishing some general goals for the new year. And then… I had kids. And my New Year’s goals sort of evaporated because when you’re sleep deprived and dealing with a newborn/infant/toddler (and then a second one on top of the first), it’s hard to think about big, overreaching goals. Sometimes, the best you can do is make it from sunrise to midnight without losing your mind. And now, here I am, with two preschoolers who are potty trained and somewhat self-sufficent and I get a decent amount of sleep most nights. Life is a little easier, relatively speaking. I’m home with them full-time now, which makes being a writer/editor a lot more difficult, but still… I’m ready to welcome 2015 by putting down some goals.
In 2015, I want to…
1. Drink more water. This might seem like a silly goal, but I spend my days chasing kids and/or sitting at Starbucks drinking coffee. Which means not only do I not eat well, I don’t ever drink enough water. I feel better when I’m hydrated– my skin looks healthier, I get fewer headaches, I don’t feel as hungry (and therefore, don’t overeat) and it’s a step toward better general self-care.
2. Read more books. I read all the time, but I don’t read enough books. It’s easier to read six articles and essays on my iPhone (usually linked from Facebook) than it is to read a novel. Those bite-sized chunks of reading are easier to accomplish when the kids are awake and/or I’m tired and/or it’s late and I’m mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed. But they’re not nearly as satisfying as reading a novel and immersing myself in a story. I used to read three novels a week, on average. I don’t expect I’ll ever get back to that rate, but I’d really like to read at least two novels a month.
3. Ditch social media. Okay, not really. I love Facebook for a number of reasons, from connecting with friends to getting links to those interesting articles and essays. I also use Pinterest (in fact, my entire Christmas Eve dinner came from Pinterest recipes, and it was delicious!) and Instagram and, occasionally, Twitter. So I don’t intend to get rid of social media, but I want to use it a lot less. If I have a free hour, I want to spend it reading a book (or writing a book) not scrolling through endless news feeds with diminishing returns. The goal, I think, is to find other things to do than social media and give Facebook, etc., a smaller chunk of my precious time.
4. Entertain more. I love to entertain. Dinner parties, cookouts, holiday parties, whether it’s just a couple of people or a full house, I love to spend time with people I care about. Pre-kids, we used to entertain a lot more. And, like most things, that kind of went out the window for a few years when the boys were babies. The last couple of years, we’ve thrown a few more parties (granted, some of them were children’s birthday parties…), but I’d like to do it more often, in a more low key way. I was inspired last fall by the article Friday Night Meatballs by Sarah Grey to consider hosting a weekly dinner party for friends, neighbors and acquaintances we’d like to get to know better. I don’t know when we’ll start it, but it’s a concept I’d like to strive toward this year.
5. Write stuff I care about. I feel as if my writing career is at a turning point, though I don’t know yet which way it’s turning. I think this will be the year I figure out the direction I’m headed. I want to write novels and essays, I want to edit more books and write in new genres (mystery and horror are pulling at me right now), I want my words to entertain, excite and inspire. But most of all, I want to be passionate about what I’m writing, whatever I’m writing, because I’m a better writer when I’m invested in my words.
6. Ask for help. I am fiercely independent. If I can do it on my own, I will. Even if I can’t do it on my own, I will try to do it. Asking for advice, assistance or even an experienced opinion is contrary to my nature. And my nature makes life harder for myself than it needs to be. This year, I want to remind myself– as often as necessary– that I don’t have to thrash through the forest alone. I can ask for help. I can ask for directions. I can ask someone to show me a better (maybe even easier) path to where I want to go. I need to remember (because it’s what I would tell anyone else), there is no weakness or shame in asking for help. Sometimes it’s just the smart thing to do.
7. Adopt (or foster) a shelter dog. We adopted our dog Clementine two years ago from the local animal shelter. She was two years old at the time, a beagle/boxer mix (probably) with a sweet face and high energy who was dumped by her family because they were moving. She has been such a great dog for our family and I feel as if we might be ready for a second dog. I would want to adopt another adult dog for a shelter, but whatever dog we add to our family must be good with kids, dogs and our resident grumpy cat. It’s a tall order, especially for a dog whose background may not have been very good, but I know the right dog will cross our path. I’ve also thought it might be lovely to foster dogs, though that may have to wait until the boys are older.
8. Slow down, breathe, focus on the moment. This is one of those slippery goals that is easy to write and harder to remember in the moment. But that’s exactly what I want to do– focus, and enjoy, the moments. I am a planner, a list maker, a daydreamer, a thinker. I can be in a room with twenty people and my mind will be drifting to what I’m going to do a week from now or worrying away on some problem that I cannot solve. Living in the moment is a lovely Zen-like, hippie chick kind of goal, but I think it’s important to put it in writing. After all, it’s all the singular moments that add up to a year.
9. Spend more time outside. This includes walking more, because it’s not only good for my health, it’s good for Clementine, too, as well as taking the kids outside to explore their world. Being in nature is the closest I’ve ever come to a true spiritual connection. I always feel better for having spent time outside, whether it’s gardening in the backyard, walking the dog after dark or going to the park or beach with the family. It feels good to get outside and I want to do it more, through all seasons.
10. Connect with others. Yes, this includes entertaining, but it also means writing more letters, scheduling more dates (with and without kids), reaching out to people who may need help or support and just connecting with people I care about. More date nights with my husband, more events with friends, more one-on-one time with my kids, more meaningful and thoughtful contact with all the people in my life.
11. Say “yes” to the things that I really care about, that speak to my heart and my intellect, that enrich my life. There was a time when I would say “yes” to just about any opportunity or request, whether it was good for me or not. Often, it wasn’t good for me at all. It was a way to fill my time, avoid doing something that was more challenging (but would certainly be more rewarding) or to do a favor for someone else. And while it feels good to help people, I need to be aware of the times when helping someone else might actually be harmful to me– and then I need to say “no.”
So those are my goals for 2015. Some big, some little, all intended to make for a more happy, enriching and giving life. I expect I’ll succeed in some areas and fall short in others, but that’s what life is all about, right? And what a beautiful life it is.
Wishing you a new year filled with love and light. Happy 2015.