A birthday wish for my son

Happy Birthday bannerCake crumbs still spotted the table and chairs, remnants from his brother’s birthday party when LT first began asking if it was now time to plan his celebration, an event that wouldn’t take place for several months. Each time he asked, he announced loudly and repeatedly that he was done being three and ready to be four.

Over the next several weeks, there were few mornings (or evenings) in which LT did not ask us for an update on the number of days left until his birthday. This was new for him as he’d never expressed all that much interested in his birthday before. Eventually, I came to realize that he had gotten it into his head that his world would suddenly be made different by the simple act of raising one additional finger when adults asked him how old he was. He told me he was going to get a bunk bed and sleep on the top. He was going to stay up late every night and was going to get to do homework (the boy is actually looking forward to this – proving ignorance is bliss). I didn’t quite have the heart to tell him that no, not all his dreams of big-kid-hood would be coming true, at least not this year (except the part about getting a new bed – let’s be clear, LT, that’s not happening).

Then the countdown was over and it was the evening before his big day. I told him, this is the last day you are going to be a three-year-old. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you are going to be four. His eyes got big as the reality of his situation sunk in. As I pulled the blankets around him and leaned in to kiss his forehead, he looked at me and said, “I no wanna be four. I wanna be three forever.”

I did what most mothers (or fathers) would in this situation. I gave him a bone-crushing hug and told them that I would like him to stay three very much too. Then I wished him good night and snuck into another room to wrap his presents, because, unfortunately, a wish to stay forever the same is about as likely to come true as is him actually enjoying homework once he starts bringing it home on a regular basis.

I adore my littlest boy. I love his hugs, his laugh, and his insanely honest observations. It makes sense that I want him to remain exactly how he is now, but, as I sat there on the floor trying to avoid papercuts while keeping tabs on the tab, I started wondering about that look on his face and what he said. After so many weeks of anticipation, so much yearning to be four, what now caused the about-face? Sadly, the only thing I can come up with is this – he is my son.

I am the kind of person who falls in loves with the idea of things but can then become terrified if there is even a fraction of a chance of the idea becoming reality (I love the beach, but am scared to swim in the ocean for example). It is one of the reasons it took me so long to start pursuing writing in the first place. I have to admit, I take comfort in the status quo. I know exactly where my place is and what is expected of me. I am fortunate. The status quo has thus far been good to me.

But the status quo is not what dreams are made of. It can be like never going hungry but also never enjoying a slice of cake (and oh, how I enjoy a good piece of cake). And so, as he blows out his candles (and I blow out mine because it was my birthday party too), I am promising myself that I will challenge it. It may not be today or tomorrow, but when the opportunity comes I am going to squash the butterflies in my stomach and face it. So then, when it is my son’s turn, he might do the same, unafraid, for no other reason than this – he is my son.



Unexpected summer surprises

I barely recognized the boy who walked through my door. It was my eldest son returning from yet another outing with a set of his grandparents, an event that has become so commonplace over this summer break that it barely makes sense to unpack his bag. His hair was now more white than yellow and his normally pale skin was brown. It was only the tell-tale scattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose and up the side of his cheek that convinced me that it wasn’t some random changeling.

Summer Camp Agenda

“We’re happy you are home,” I told him, which was a massive understatement. He had only been gone this last time for three days and yet, unlike his first solo trip, this one felt like forever. I had expected to miss my son, but I was taken aback by how much I had missed the noise, the mess, the smells, the sheer chaos incarnate that is boy this summer.

“I’m happy to be home too!” he said with the gap-toothed grin I remember. His big boy teeth sure are taking their time coming back in.

“You know, you won’t have any more trips except for one last one with mommy and daddy before school starts.”

“I just want to sleep in my own bed.”

He’s had a great time with every single outing, but I can’t blame him for the sentiment. I wouldn’t mind travel nearly so much if I only had a teleportation machine to ensure that I got to sleep in my bed at night. Sure, the hospitality industry might suffer, but I would get such a better night’s sleep, and sleep makes me happy, which makes me more productive, and if more people were productive, wouldn’t that help the local economy – but I digress.

His school will resume in less than one month. Summer is almost officially over as far as we are concerned. After the bags were in, I went outside to check on my garden. As I stepped off the porch, a bit of white caught my eye in the hanging planter. It was a strawberry bud.

budding strawberryStrawberry season in North Carolina begins in April and runs through the month of May. It is pretty much over as soon as the temperatures begin to rise, and we had hit triple digits in June. After the heat wave in June, I hadn’t even bothered to care for the planter beyond the occasional watering when the leaves wilted even after temperatures stabilized in the 90s (or 32+ for my non-US friends). The season was definitely over. But there it was. A flower, with another stem beside attached to the green triangular shape of a forming berry.

No one told my strawberry plant that its season was over. Or if someone did, the plant didn’t listen.

Another blog I read posted an amusing piece this week briefly touching on the subject of acceptance. Acceptance of others for their differences, acceptance for the liberties the film industry takes with history for the sake of drama, and also acceptance that more than likely only half of winter’s audience would take the time to read the message.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, but a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryant

I accept that there is a season for all things, but I know I can’t fall into the trap of doing nothing while waiting. The easy season may come and go, but I can (and do regularly) dance like no one’s watching (or write like no one is reading). Who knows, but if the conditions are right, the work I do today just might yet bear fruit.

Book update. I’ve gotten most of my beta reader’s comments in and am in the process of making yet another round of final tweaks and read-throughs. It is difficult to express exactly how very grateful I am for my reader’s feedback. I believe my story is significantly stronger for their suggestions and I am now even more excited to release it to the public in the not to distant future.



Megan Cyrulewski on Dancing in Puddles

A few weeks ago I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and I looked to see who other the nominees were. I was not surprised to see that one of these was Megan Cyrulewski. Since her blog launched, Megan has routinely supported authors by featuring numerous author interviews on her site. I was fortune enough to be included in that list. This Saturday, August 2nd, Megan will be releasing her own first book, a memoir, entitled Who Am I?: How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again. In it she details her journey into post-partum depression, divorce, domestic violence, law school, and her struggle to survive with her sanity intact. Her story helps to provide hope during times of challenge that things will get better.
I am thrilled to be able to support this book launch by featuring her writing on my blog. I hope that the following inspires you as much as it did me.

Sometimes you just need to dance in the puddles
by Megan Cyrulewski
I’ve been stressed lately, I’m not going to lie.  I feel like I have a million things on my plate and my plate is spilling over.  I have anxiety disorder and sometimes my anxiety goes up a notch when I’m overwhelmed.  This is how my life has always been.  Nothing has ever happened a little at a time.  I’m riding even for a long time and then everything starts again all at once.I’ve been feeling sort of like a robot lately.  I have deadlines and I know what needs to be done so it gets done.  Each day I have a list in my planner (my old-school paper planner) and by the end of the day, everything is checked off.  I should feel a sense of accomplishment, but all I see when I look at my planner is what I have to do the next day.Yesterday when I came home from working on something, Madelyne (my daughter) was upset.  I asked my mom what was wrong and my mom said that Madelyne was upset because she had a potty accident.  She peed in her pants.  Madelyne, unfortunately or fortunately, is already a Type A personality like her mommy.  She doesn’t like to make mistakes.  Everything is supposed to be right and in order.  That is a blessing and a curse for both of us.  Sometimes I need my life to be orderly and neat, which means I’m right on schedule.  But as I looked at the tears on Madelyne’s face after her accident, I realized in that moment that bumps in the road are okay.I told Madelyne to get on her rain boots because we were going for a walk around the block.  Madelyne loves to go outside so she immediately jumped up.  The tears stopped falling and a smile replaced her frown.  She was confused as to why she was wearing rain boots instead of her tennis shoes, but I told her it was a surprise.  She took my hand, we waved good-bye to Grandma and we started on our walk.

It had rained the night before and I knew there were going to be puddles on our walk.  When we got to the first puddle, Madelyne started to walk around it because that’s what I usually tell her to do.  This walk, however, was different.  I jumped smack dab right in the middle of the puddle.  Water splashed everywhere – our boots, pants and even on Madelyne’s jacket.

“Mommy,” Madelyne said, “We have to go home now and change our pants because they are wet.”
“You know what, Pooks?”  (My pet name for Madelyne is Pookie sometimes shortened to Pooks) “We’re going to dance in the puddles today.”  So I continued to dance.
Madelyne stuck one booted foot in the puddle.  She looked at me, her eyes questioning.  I smiled.  She took a few steps back and then leaped into the puddle.

“We’re dancing in the puddle!”  Madelyne exclaimed.
“We’re dancing in the puddle!”  I exclaimed.
“And it’s okay if our pants get wet!”  Madelyne yelled.
“And it’s okay if our boots get wet!”  I yelled.
“Because we can always change them when we get home!”  Madelyne screamed.
“Because today we are dancing in the puddles!”  I screamed as we twirled around.

When we were a couple of houses away from home, Madelyne told me how much fun she had on our walk:
“I love taking walks with you, Mommy.”
“I love taking walks with you too, Pooks.

Madelyne slipped her puddle-soaked hand in mine.  “It’s okay that our pants are wet.”
I smiled and gripped her hand.  “It’s okay.”

We walked up the driveway.  My mom watched us from the window.  She laughed when she saw us in our wet pants.  After I put a new dry pair of pants on Madelyne, she gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “I love you because you are my mommy.”

As the tears streamed down my face, I whispered, “I love you because you are my Pookie.”

Sometimes, you just need to dance in the puddles.

Staying positive is tough, but I’ve always liked a challenge

English: Think positive
English: Think positive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband and I visited several parts of Australia for our honeymoon. While there we were entertained to learn that there was an entire news program dedicated to Happy News. The other programs were following the pattern of increasing the scare factor in order to generate ratings, but this program had decided that they were going to focus on the inspirational and feel good pieces.

Watching the program was like eating a scoop of sorbet after a meal, a delicious palette cleanser. I wish I could say we watched more of it so that they might have gained a few ratings, but we were on vacation and I didn’t want to stay in front of a television all day. I do hope the program stayed true to its principles and is still on the air.

Several years ago, I watched Michael Moore’s film, Bowling for Columbine which takes a look at school shooting and explores the factors that may or may not have allowed that terrible event to occur. Whether or not you agree with his politics, he does bring up an interesting comparison between the nightly news in the US and the nightly news in Canada. In his film, the US program made much higher use of flashy graphics and scary headlines, or endangering a reporter without need, as means of compelling a viewer to tune in than its Canadian counterpart.

Breaking News
Breaking News (Photo credit: morner)

When I decided to venture into the world of blogging, I did so with trepidation. I had read the comments section on sites like Yahoo and You Tube. People can be so cruel, especially when they don’t have to use their real name. I truly wish I could say that I was still shocked by what people are willing to put in writing.

I’ve attended leadership and management classes as well as read several books on the subject. Time and time again, I have been told about the importance of addressing negative behavior immediately before it has a chance to fester within the team. Because unchecked, that’s exactly what it will do. The casual cruel comment tends to make a person defensive, tempting them to lash out in retaliation or worse, against an innocent bystander.

As leaders, we have to confront these issues head on. Nip it in the bud. We cannot afford to be afraid of confrontation. Courage, professionalism, and respectability can be equally contagious.

It takes one positive thought to change your l...
It takes one positive thought to change your life, just one positive thought. So why spend your time thinking negatively? (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

When I began blogging, I decided early on that I wanted to maintain a professional and mostly positive tone.  The best way to inspire others is to lead by example. I found a free site called social-searcher.com which analyzes everything I post on my blog, on Twitter, or Facebook and assigns it into a category such as positive, negative, or neutral.

Occasionally I get a red square next to one of my posts. I do enjoy satire and dry humor. My attempts to be funny typically get flagged as negative, but overall I am proud to say that I have been in the green more often than not.




I encourage you to check out your own stats some time using this tool, then click on the analytics tab. Next ask yourself are you happy with your results?


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You have to dance like nobody’s watching

Dance like nobody's watching
Dance like nobody’s watching (Photo credit: fmgbain)

Have you had the pleasure of watching the Lego Movie, or heard the What Does The Fox Say song yet? No? Well if you ever found yourself near my house on a Friday night you would hear song, Everything is Awesome and the aforementioned song blasting on our speakers over and over again as my boys engaged in what has become our “beginning of the weekend dance party!”

Dance Floor
Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

My eldest son’s dancing consists of jumping, running in a circle, spinning on the floor, and imitating a robot. My youngest is still mastering walking and mostly performs a series of squats and sways while pointing his fingers in the air. I am not even going to attempt to describe the series of movements my husband and I consider our own dancing style, but needless to say we likely won’t be contestants on dancing with the stars anytime soon.

We may be somewhat rhythmically impaired, but it doesn’t stop us from letting loose every weekend. I am going to miss these moments when my boys age into the tween years and are too embarrassed to be seen walking with either my husband or I, let alone be seen dancing with us. The party is going to be over way too soon.


Susanna Clark and Robert Leigh penned the following lyrics for their song, “Come from the Heart”

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
You’ve got to love like you’ll never get hurt,
You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching,
You’ve got to come from the heart if you want it to work.

These words are proven true over and over again.

Nicolas Cage was recently interviewed about his Oscar-winning performance for Leaving Las Vegas. He said, and I paraphrase, that he was so sure that the film would never been seen that he didn’t worry about what the critics or academy would say, he just committed himself to the role. By not worrying about being watched, he was freed to do something remarkable.

I struggled severely with my first several attempts at writing, not for lack of imagination, but because I was too concerned about forcing my words be best-seller caliber, or at least be quote-worthy. Then I saw a rebroadcasted interview with the late Elmore Leonard, author of dozens of novels.  He repeated his longstanding advice, “If it sounds like writing. Rewrite it.” I realized I just had to start typing, and stop worrying about who was reading. As long as I gave it my all, it would work out in the end like it was supposed to.

If you are reading this, then the process worked, and if you aren’t, well… I’ll still be dancing on Friday.


Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured ...
Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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