I'm a 51 year old lover of life, family, friends, and creative writing (amongst numerous other activities, people, animals, big ideas, and things). I am a native Minnesotan transplanted to the Denver metro area from Wisconsin due to a job transfer for my fabulous husband. We are empty nesters, with two terrific adult children living their own lives, one in Indianapolis and the other near Green Bay, WI. I am and always have been in my heart of hearts, a writer. I was a case manager/social worker for many years in Wisconsin and am now ready for my new chapter in life as a writer. I enjoy writing about day to day (mis)adventures I experience in my new Colorado environment, the people I love and those that inspire me, places I've traveled to, music that makes my world go 'round, politics and current affairs, and general observations and ideas about life and ideas on how it could be improved. My hope is that my blog will be interactive, collaborative, and inspiring.
Last Friday was my parent’s 62nd wedding anniversary. Remembering this brought on a feeling of sadness that I haven’t felt since they passed on from this life.
My dad, Babe, passed almost two years ago now. My mom, Bonnie, followed suit one year, one week, and one day after that.
None of us can claim with any scientific certainty that heaven exists. But I believe there is another dimension where our souls land once our earthly bodies cease to be.
It gives me comfort to envision my parents together in this dimension.
I like to think that Mom is not in any pain whatsoever. That she can walk and move with ease. That Dad’s mind is all there. That he doesn’t feel angry or confused or frustrated with himself. That in this other dimension he exists as the person he was prior to the fall where he hit his head. The hard hit to his noggin that eventually led to a diagnosis of dementia.
He wouldn’t be holding Mom’s purse, because she doesn’t need one anymore.
That was one of the things about these two, Bonnie and Babe: he accepted her shopaholic tendencies while holding her purse from store to store.
Bonnie and Babe made an impression on people wherever they went. In many ways, they were opposites. In some ways, they were two of a kind.
They were social creatures. They loved to have other people around to “BS” with. To feed. To take care of. To travel with. To celebrate with. I’m grateful for that aspect of marriage they modeled for me and Hubs.
I didn’t know it till I was 14 that Mom and Dad met when my brother was just a toddler. I loved that my Dad had love in his heart for a boy who was not his own. He married Mom in 1958 and legally adopted Craig shortly thereafter. I suspect that he faced judgement about it from my Grandma Pearl, but ironically she grew to love and depend on my Mom more than probably anyone else in our family.
I love that Bonnie and Babe were hard workers. They always had so much energy and together they created so much for the enjoyment of so many.
I love that they were spontaneous. One day, out of the blue from my perspective, they decided to start a business. Despite working full time and then some, Dad agreed to Mom’s proposition that they buy out our small town’s women’s clothing store. It had been a bar years before. They decided to call it “Bonnie’s Clothes Bar”.
With Dad taking care of the books and Mom doing running the store for several years, I was able to attend college without any of us taking on any debt. That is something they were very proud of.
Bonnie and Babe were always very physically affectionate with each other. I remember cringing as a pre-teen while Dad would lovingly call Mom “Mama Buns” (she had an ample ass for much of her adult life). They held hands on the regular.
I remember a story they told about their first trip to Europe. It was an extremely hot and humid day in England (or France? I wasn’t present). They were waiting outside for a ride to take them to a museum or something. Dad spied an ice cream truck and made a bee-line for it. Came back to Mom and sat down on a bench next to her.
Dad was savoring the sweet cold deliciousness and Mom asked for a lick. He obliged. Within two seconds she was asking for another lick. He again obliged. A few more seconds pass and she’s asking again. He said something to the effect of “Why don’t you get your own” to which she responded with “Now Babe, I just wanted one more lick”, then proceeded to berate him for his complaint.
This pushed Dad over the edge. He took the remainder of that ice cream cone and smashed it on her chest, creating a cold, sticky mess all over her top. I wish I could have seen the look on her face. The face she made just before the two of them erupted into laughter.
Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”
And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.
I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.
Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.
Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.
First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.
Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.
I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.
I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.
I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.
“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.
After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.
Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?
For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.
David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.
Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.
“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.
David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.
Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.
Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.
Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.
Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.
I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.
So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.
But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?
Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.
However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.
I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.
I’m just going to jump right in with the “Right Now” part.
Anyone who read my last blog post knows that our youngest kiddo moved in with Hubs and I recently. With their cat in tow. In my almost 53 years (yes, my birthday is just literally around the corner), I have never shared my living space with such a creature.
Despite my initial misgivings (potential allergies, Radar maiming poor little kitty in a clumsy attempt to play with him, the smell), it isn’t so bad having him around.
I haven’t detected any majorly offensive odors yet. Not sneezing my head off or scratching my already dry (thanks Colorado) skin. Radar hasn’t inflicted any injuries on him. Yet anyway.
It’s been entertaining as hell watching Karl the cat and Radar interact with each other. At this point, I’d say they are solid “frenemies”. Like cool with being within a foot of each other. They are establishing their personal boundaries (Karl seems to have a good deal more of them, but apparently that’s cats for you). One of these days, who knows when, I envision there will be long enough a moment to snap a picture of the two of them together. When that happens, I’ll be sure to share it on this here blog.
For now, here’s a sweet pic of Karl I recently took:
As far as our other new roomie goes, things are going well. It’s been nice to have another human around to hang with. One who shares my love of quirky, colorful, fem-positive, musical theater type movies and shows. One who provides me with original art for my blog (featured at the end of this post). One with plenty of new, fresh ideas of things to do and places to go.
Now, kiddo is hard at work searching for gainful employment. Which means that this arrangement is temporary-ish. So I’m going to appreciate their lively presence in my daily life as much as I can between now and the time when they fly out of the coop again and into their own place. Which, if I have my way, will be a less than 10 minute drive from us.
Well, as you can see, I am writing. Feeling squishy about it though. I have three potentially legit blog posts in my draft folder. Just haven’t felt compelled to get back to them to make them publishable. I will, I know. Just not today.
What I’m tempted to write about is a book I recently finished: The Four Agreements. If I did tell you about it, I’d say this: it gives one a lot to think about. Like, a whole lot. About how one moves through the world as a human. How essentially we are programmed to believe stuff about ourselves and the world we inhabit based on what our parental figures told us. And how all of that is a lie. Not sure I am behind that particular concept. Not 100% anyway.
Okay, so I’m going to just get on with it and give into my temptation for a hot second or two.
There are, according to the author (Don Miguel Ruiz), 4 agreements one should live by in order to have a truly happy life. They are ginormous agreements and if you overthink them (which of course I have been doing), your head might explode.
First agreement: Be impeccable with your word. I take this to mean “say what you mean and mean what you say”. That may be a gross simplification of this agreement, to be sure; going deeper it’s also about not gossiping with others about others. That’s a tough one, right?
Not because I intentionally gossip. I’m not a total monster.
It’s just that when someone you know, like, and trust, starts sharing their beefs about another someone you know, but don’t like, and don’t trust, it’s hard to resist joining in. To get sucked into the rabbit hole.
I tell myself that I’m “just venting”, and for a short bit of time I enjoy the camaraderie. I feel that sense of self-satisfaction that comes with the realization that my negative opinion of the one we are bitching about is shared with others. Which I always see in hindsight is not useful or helpful. Certainly not for the target of the gossip session. And not for those of us gossipers. It doesn’t move anything forward in a positive direction in any way.
I guess I just need to figure out how to get myself out of situations where active participation in gossiping is tempting me. That, I believe, is where the challenge lies. Because, ultimately, I don’t want to wind up as the one being gossiped about because I chose not to participate.
That leads me to consider one of the other 4 agreements, which is this: Don’t take things personally. I guess where I could take that in the scenario where I’m the odd one out, turning on my heel and marching away once the gossiping starts, is that what I assume those people have to say about me not engaging in the gossip is on them. Not on me. It has no reflection on me whatsoever.
Sorry for the “psychobabble” folks. That was not my intention when I began writing this post. It’s just where it went. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have more to say about this mind trip of a book. There are, after all, 2 more agreements I didn’t even touch on.
So there you have it. My life is changing and my attitude towards it is evolving. I think all I can really do is just write through it.
A couple of blog posts back, I christened 2020 as my year of Clarity.
What seems natural to me as a result of this is for me to be experimental. Mostly with my creative writing; but I doubt that my writing pursuits would benefit if I wasn’t also willing to simultaneously be experimental in my day to day life. Experimental with what I do and how I do it. With who I interact with and how. With my choices.
So yesterday was Saturday. I love that day of the week, don’t you? Because of my planning tendencies, I usually manage to make it a decent combo of fun/relaxation and taking care of important shit. Like grocery shopping. Which I did do yesterday.
Saturday mornings I always sit down in front of my computer and do some writing for this blog. Yesterday I think I wrote two whole sentences on one half finished (hopefully not half-assed) blog post.
So that was weird experimental.
What was far more experimental, however, is that Spawn #2 (who recently moved themselves and their cat in with Hubs and I and needs a better moniker on this blog) and I sat down and watched the most bizarre film I have every seen in my entire life: Midsommar. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I don’t know that I can even recommend it. As I told the kiddo, I can’t unsee that. I don’t know that I can properly describe it even. It was a fucking trip.
Let’s just say if you have the right combination of the things, you might appreciate this film. Though I’m not even sure “appreciate” is the right word here. Maybe you don’t appreciate it as much as you arecompelled to see it through to the end because of morbid curiosity.
Here is what I feel one needs if they are to embark on the strange odyssey that is “Midsommar”:
A good block of time. Not that it’s the longest film ever; it’s just that we felt refreshed by the couple of breaks we took throughout the viewing. It’s that intense.
Patience. Much of the first half is, while tragic, very slooooowww moving.
Enthusiasm (or at least a heaping dose of tolerance) for the macabre.
A fascination with human psychology.
No one under 18 (or maybe 21?) in attendance.
A strong stomach and/or a willingness to avert your eyes PRN.
Willingness to hear more Swedish folk songs than you can imagine.
A sense of open-minded curiosity. Morbid works too, as mentioned above.
If you happen to be a fan of MST3K, you may want to consider not taking this film too seriously by making it a game with your friends. You know, the ones you can have a high old time playing “Cards Against Humanity” with.
If you have seen this film, please do me a solid and share your feedback in the comments. I would love to dish (no meat tarts though please) about this with someone!
I love it all. Truly. But my thoughts and feelings about it are a bit nuanced.
Fuck is clearly the “worst” one. But one I really dig when it’s used in the right way. For humorous purposes. When it’s shouted in anger and with malign intent, not so much.
Shit! Love this one for sure. I feel like this is one swear word that is harmless. And it’s just so fun to say!
Goddamn. I was totally going to write it as “GD” because I personally think it’s the harshest of all the swear words. It’s almost always said in anger or extreme frustration. I always want to kick myself when it comes out of my mouth. I’m (obviously) not a big believer in swearing being a mortal sin, but I feel like God would surely disapprove of this one.
Bitch. To me, this is a fun one. It wasn’t always. It was something I whispered (and truthfully sometimes still do) to myself when another female is pissing me off. Note to self: Cut that shit out! I think as a gender, we women have begun to embrace this one. Like “way to be a Boss Bitch!” or Lizzo’s line in “Truth Hurts”: ” I just took a DNA test and found out I’m 100% that bitch.”
Sonofabitch! Makes me think of my dad, which makes me snicker. Besides his other favorite swear word, “Horseshit” (his response sometimes when asked how he was feeling or when his restaurant meal wasn’t to his liking). He also used it when he was railing against some dude that pissed him off, like when Trump spoke on tv.
Motherfucker. I know, technically I commented on this one already (see “Fuck” above). However, “motherfucker” is really in a realm all by itself, right? Not that I haven’t uttered this word in conversations before, when speaking of some despicable male who committed deplorable deeds. I just think it’s a spice to be sprinkled very lightly to have maximum impact. I love, love, love Eddie Murphy, for example, but after about the 22nd “motherfucker” in the “My Name is Dolemite” movie on Netflix, I had to turn it off. The word, unlike “Shit”, loses it’s power when said too liberally.
Asshole. Such a funny word!! And isn’t it funny that while it’s literally a body part, it’s also a swear word? I have no misgivings about hearing others use this word or using it in personal conversation (well, maybe not in a professional setting I suppose).
Dick. Also quite hilarious as it’s also a name. And a body part. But my favorite use of this one is:
Hopefully I haven’t alienated any of my patient followers with this post, but to make up for it I will end with this spectacular image…
As a writer, I’m perpetually searching for fodder. Music is the sort of fodder that I’m naturally drawn to on a daily basis.
It’s the stuff that fuels me. It inspires me. It soothes me. It motivates me. It nurtures me in a way nothing else really can.
That is why I’ve decided to create a bold new playlist for just me, myself, and I. It will be chock full of tracks that will keep me focused on my own self improvement path. Songs that contain the messages I need to hear.
So indulge me while I play “DJ” for a minute (a job I’ve always wanted to sample) and share with you the “must have” songs for me in 2020:
“Shower the People” by James Taylor. The lyric “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel; things are gonna get so much better if you only will” is….just well, “IT” for how I aim to interact with others on the daily this year.
“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. Not only does this song prompt me to break out in a happy dance, but it instantly improves my outlook. I like to think of it as a song that God inspired Stevie Wonder to write as a love letter to his beloved children. At it’s heart, it’s a song about faith.
“Everybody’s Cup of Tea” by Kasey Musgraves. I’m going to include a clip of this one because I don’t think it’s terribly well known, though it should be. I need to keep it on my soundtrack because I know that with my blogging and writing, not to mention my actual personal life, there’s going to always be people who don’t appreciate me. To stay strong and keep plowing ahead, I need to embrace that fact.
“Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner-Overdrive. It’s the lyric, “Taking care of business, every day, taking care of business, every way”, that gets my motor going. It motivates me to stay on top of shit. To not get so sucked into social media, binge-watching Netflix, or even blogging that I’m not fully taking care of important business. Like keeping our home in good order. Getting to work on time each day and completing each task that presents itself to me. Self-care in all it’s varied forms.
“Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. This song will be on my 2020 soundtrack because it’s important to me this year to make friendships, old and new, a bigger priority than in years past. To appreciate all the friends I have and nurture those relationships.
“Anticipation” by Carly Simon. This song is a very important one as I move forward in 2020. On account of my squirrel brain (which almost always has multiple tabs open simultaneously), I relate to the lyric “And I wonder if I’m really with you now, or just chasing after some finer day”. It stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be present. To focus on the “right now” instead of the “what’s next”. Because tomorrow is not a given.
“Take that Step” from “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix documentary, do yourself a favor and watch it. Unless you don’t want to feel joy or be uplifted this year. The lyric “find that path others missed, life is better with a twist” is particularly inspiring to me as a writer with ambition!
“I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m sure you all know this song. It’s a universal musical “pick me up”, don’t you think? The reason it’s going on my 2020 soundtrack is because 2019 was a hell of a year. A lot of not-so-great things happened; however towards the end of the year things started to really look up again. On top of that, this song represents what I’m seeking most in 2020: Clarity.
This soundtrack of mine, much like this blog, is a WIP. Throughout 2020, behind the scenes, I will be ISO more songs that will guide me through the year with a sense of purpose, love for myself and others, and the mindset and energy level I need to accomplish the goals I’m setting for myself.
Do you, fellow music lovers, have any songs in mind for your own 2020 soundtrack? Please share in the comments 🙂