Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 • No Comments on 2015: Phoenix Rising, Lioness Roaring
There have been days (weeks) in 2015 when I felt like this
2015. The year I almost died. The year I reinvented my writer identity to include memoirist and essayist. The year we became a retired military family and Jay became a teacher and I became a teacher’s wife. The year both of my children were in school for the first time and I regained a regular 3-day-a-week writing schedule after being a full-time stay-at-home mom for a year. The year I learned to say, “No, I can’t” without apologizing or explaining– or feeling (much) guilt. The year I realized longevity doesn’t mean blind loyalty when it comes to either my personal or professional lives. The year I embraced the unfriend/block/unfollow/delete button, both literally and metaphorically. The year I decided life is too fucking short to endure toxicity, drama or bad behavior. The year I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. The year The year we decided it’s time to move. The year that was one of the best years of my life.
2015 has brought change to my life. And as I think back on this year, the expected and the unexpected, I realize that I am stronger that I’ve ever been, but also softer. My heart breaks more easily these days, for myself, for my children, for friends who have hurt, for a world that seems so unkind at times. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But those who mistake my tenderheartedness for weakness have found that I can turn as cold and hard as ice. I protect what is mine, whether it’s my family, my writing or my own heart– and I have done that this year in so many ways.
My increasingly blond hair (so hard to remember it’s no longer red/auburn) prompted a friend to call me a lioness earlier this year. I took it as a compliment, though of course a female lion doesn’t have a mane, right? But then I read this article about how researchers have discovered some lionesses who have, through a genetic mutation, taken on the traits of males– including growing a long mane and roaring like their masculine counterparts–which increases the chances of survival for their pride. I have moved through this year, getting tougher with every professional and personal disappointment, learning to roar louder and be stronger and speak up for myself in ways I never have before.
A lioness with a long mane protecting her pride– that image of myself will carry me into 2016 with strength and heart.
Tuesday, December 29th, 2015 • No Comments on December, the month in review
Me and my iced coffee, with a very special sleeve gifted to me by a Starbucks friend
Oh, December! Here we are at the end of the month and at the end of the year. It’s a balmy 73º in Virginia, which is disheartening for this Florida girl who likes her holidays with a little chill (and even a little snow). Ah well, Christmas has past and the New Year is just a few days away. I can deal with the warmer weather as I take down the holiday decorations and return my house to its pre-holiday plainness– a clean house to start the new year with a clean slate.
But first… December. This month, my oldest baby turned 6. Patrick has given us six happy years of little boy energy and humor and creativity and it’s a joy to watch him grow. He is the kid who made me a mom and I marvel at his imagination, his independence, his kind heartedness. I can already see hints of the man he will become– probably because many days he seems more like a teenager than a little boy. I’m in no hurry for him to grow up, but I find myself giving him space and time to explore his interests, knowing he’s inherited some of my introverted, introspective ways.
Christmas was fun. The boys were excited for the arrival of Santa (and I’m so happy for that!) and though it was a small just-us-four Christmas, it was special. I made my signature lasagna bolognese on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we stayed home in our pajamas all day and spent most of the morning opening presents. It was a memorable holiday, most notably because there were no sad moments for me. It was all joy, mixed in with the madness that goes along with having 6 and 4 year old boys (can you say cabin fever?). This is the Christmas I always wanted for myself.
It’s been a light writing month, as is to be expected with all of the holiday-related activities at school and home. I wrote about everything from jump starting your sex life to the “myth” of motherhood for Mom.me and I wrote a fun piece for Book.bub on book boyfriends to keep you warm this winter. I’m planning ahead to 2016 and it looks like I’ll be writing more erotica next year. I have a new anthology (likely my last) coming out in February. The One Who Got Away is possibly my favorite anthology theme ever, a bittersweet collection of stories about second chances. I’ll post more about the book as we get closer to the release date.
December movies included Star Wars: The Force Awakens (of course) and Spotlight, a film I haven’t seen much about despite it’s brilliant cast (including Mark Ruffalo, whom I adore), terrific script and the fact that it’s based on real life events. Check it out if you have a chance. My interest in investigative journalism (and the aforementioned Mr. Ruffalo) is what compelled me to see it, but it ranks right up there as one of the year’s best.
2016 promises to be a year filled with new bylines, family adventures, unexpected surprises and probably a few unpredictable (and some fairly predictable) challenge. But as December fades away, I’m savoring all that 2015 has been– the good (very, very good), the bad (not a lot, but enough for me to appreciate the good that much more) and the ugly (me, before coffee and/or in a hospital bed). It’s been a whopper of a year and it seems fitting that it ends quietly and peacefully, much as it began. Now, if it were only 20 degrees cooler…
Me and my boys at the school holiday concert
Goodbye, December. Onward to January 2016!
Friday, December 4th, 2015 • No Comments on November, month in review
26 Thanksgivings together!
Of course I’m a few days late. It’s the holiday season! I’d ask the cliched, “Where did the year go?” but I feel like I’ve been very present and in the moment this year (at least, most of it) and have been enjoying watching it unfold. I was thinking how this has been one of my best years ever, with the exception of that near-death experience in spring. Does that make me an optimist, to look at the year I almost died and still be able to say it was one of my favorite years? Maybe. I’m okay with that.
November was a quiet month. My dear friend Sheri was here for her annual Thanksgiving trip. We’ve known each other for 27 years and since 1990 when I got married she has only missed two Thanksgivings with us. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Sheri. We had a nice visit, hung out with the boys, drank a lot of coffee, talked about life and pie and Chopped and travel and politics. It’s the one week of the year that truly does seem to fly by.
Coffee break with Sheri
I had some fun bylines for Mom.me in November. I wrote about blended families and child-free friends, as well as what to know before you go to the hospital and the things I refuse to feel guilty about (long, hot showers are on the list!). And so far this month, I’ve written about jump-starting your sex life! I also pitched a few ideas to new venues (a few rejections, a few responses still forthcoming, hopefully) and got an offer to be a regular blogger for another site! I’ll share details soon, I still have paperwork to fill out and submit. But I’m excited I’ll be going into 2016 with two regular writing gigs.
Oh, and the November movies of the month were Spectre (mmm… 007) and the Peanuts Movie. I really enjoyed Spectre, and the Peanuts Movie was a cute film for a family outing.
Mostly November has been about reflecting and nesting– and decorating for Christmas. I have a few more pieces to write and loose ends to wrap up for December, and then I’ll be really hibernating for the holidays, cooking and baking (and eating) and reading and watching movies and enjoying my family. It’s the most magical time of the year and what a lovely year it’s been.
Wishing you a happy holiday season!