Musings of a Slightly Maddened Mother.

#tryalittletenderness

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February 08, 2018

Today was an amazing day. Not simply because I  left Raincouver and am now basking in the sunshine and warmth of Miami, but because today I had the honour and extreme pleasure of meeting one of my online writing partners in person. Susan Weidenbaum Goldstein is a gifted writer, funny, smart, and hysterical.

She drove over two hours each way to meet me at my hotel in South Beach. (In her beautiful Charger that I had to take a picture of for my husband.) I knew her from pictures, so I had no problem spotting her in the hotel lobby, but strangely, it wasn’t like meeting a stranger for the first time, it was like greeting a childhood friend. There wasn’t a single moment of discomfort, at least not on my part, and our connection was immediate. We walked and talked for hours, like those childhood friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.

It was an amazing experience and I am so thrilled to have had this opportunity. One that even fifteen years ago would never have been possible.

Technology, and my writing, have made the world such a small place. Now, I need to find away to get to get to Michigan to meet Michelle Riddell,  Oregon, to meet Devon Balwit, Arizona, to meet Megan Merchant, Ohio, to meet Ann Klotz and Jude Walsh, Pennsylvania to meet Sarah Weissman, and wherever Julianne Palumbo is, (the amazing woman who brought us all together.

Or, we could organize a MOTHERS ALWAYS WRITE retreat somewhere in the middle of the continent. Right guys?

#tryalittletenderness

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February 06, 2018

Today my husband and I leave on vacation with 12 of our neighbours. Many of us have been holidaying together for over fifteen years, although these days we leave our children behind.

In the beginning we went camping because that’s all we could afford. We would pack up a week’s worth of food, and toys, and a whole lot of “stuff” because, well, you know—children, and head off to a lakeside campground about a five-hour drive away. We’d pitch tents, roast hot dogs, play volleyball, swim, and have an amazing time with our kids. Many memories were made that I know will last a life time.

But camping with children is hard work, for the parents at least, so now that our children are grown, it’s our turn for some fun.

Sorry kids, your time will come.

We’re heading to Miami for three days of exploring, and on Saturday we will board Celebrity Cruise lines, Equinox for a week long feast of sun, friends, and food. There’s also a significant chance more than a little wine will be consumed as well.

I am so grateful that in a world where so many people don’t even know their neighbour’s names, we live in a community where all our neighbours on a first name basis. We have raised our children together, watching them grow up into fine young adults. We’ve braved the loss of parents and pets, and even spouses. Together we have rejoiced in each others successes and grieved our losses.

We enjoy each others company so much, we now choose to spend our precious holiday time together.

We may not be related, but over the years, through our shared experiences, we have become as close as family.

And how darned amazing is that?

 

 

#tryalittletenderness

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February 05, 2018

Despite my best intentions to write this blog daily, life sometimes has other plans for me, and so I’ve missed a couple of days. But I’m going to try to forgive myself for that. At age 59, I figure it’s time I learned how.

This #tryalittletenderness endeavour is about being grateful, but it’s also about the ability to forgive. To forgive our friends when they do something that hurts us, whether intentional or not. To forgive our spouses when, after twenty nine years of marriage, they don’t act like characters from a romance novel. To forgive our poor beleagured parents, for, well,  any and everything imaginable, because don’t we all think our present problems are a direct result of a childhood that wasn’t as perfect as we imagined it should be?

All will require our forgiveness at some point or another in our lives.

But, the person who needs forgiveness the most often, and the one who seldom receives it, is ourself.

Why are we so dang hard on ourselves?

It’s so easy to overlook flaws in others, to make allowances for their mistakes, but seems impossible to cut ourselves that same slack. Or at least in my case it is.

Well, my goal, before I hit the big 60, is to learn how to do just that.

In order to forgive all my flaws, all of which scream so loudly at me on a daily basis, I’ve had to make some changes.

I’m learning how to meditate, to be in the moment and be grateful for all the bounty in my life. I’m learning to listen to my body when it speaks, to give it the nutrition, exercise, and rest it’s asking for. I am learning how to say no to demands that are overwhelming me, but I am also learning how to say yes to possibilities.

I’m sad that it has taken me 59 year to reach this point, but also so grateful to be in a place where it’s finally possible for me to try.

 

#tryalittletenderness

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February 02, 2018

Well, the countdown clock for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge is ticking away. Just over 20 hours to go. And am I finished my story? Heck no. I have 20 hours left, right?

You might wonder why anyone would subject themselves to the stress of writing, editing, and polishing a 2500 word story in eight days. And having to write that story within the confines of three prompts.

I admit to wondering that same thing myself as this deadline approaches, and I’m trying to write this brand new story at the same time as I’m revising an existing novel, working on a new project, and doing this daily blog.

But, as strange as it might seem, I do it because this is fun.

I like writing within constraints. Instead of stiffing creativity as you might imagine, I find the exact opposite is true. Having constraints allows me to be more creative.

Imagine staring at a blank page and being told to write a 2500 word story. About anything.

A daunting task.

First, you have to think up a genre, then a character, a conflict, a setting, and on and on. The possibilities are endless, and it’s that very openness that terrifies me into doing nothing. I sit and stare at that paper, jumping from one idea to another, and ultimately ending up without a single word written.

But, hand me a genre, a character, an object, or a setting, and tell me to write a story within that framework, and it’s like a magical door to my creativity is blown wide open.

Of course, not every story I come up with in this manner is worth talking about, but at least I have words on a page, a substantial story seed that may one day turn into something more worthy.

This past summer I participated in the NYC Midnight Flash Challenge. My first attempt at this sort of thing.  In this challenge, participants had to write a 1000 word or less flash piece in 48 hours.

In the first round I just wrote a story. I didn’t bother to read the provided genre categories, or read past winners to get an idea of how this whole thing worked. As a result, I did okay in that round, but not great. I got 11 points. Only the top 15 out of the forty participants in each of 80 categories received points. 1st place received 15, 15th place 1 point, and so on.

For the next round I did my homework, and to my surprise, I won my category with a suspense story featuring a fishing tackle shop and a pina colada. lol

This gave me enough points to move on to the third round. Sadly, despite this story being my favourite of all three, I did not place. This round consisted of only the top 400 writers out of the original 3200, so much harder. Still, I’m pretty darned proud of my attempt.

So what did I end up with after all this effort, not to mention stress?  Three stories I would not have otherwise written, the opportunity to practice my craft, and a whole lot of fun.

Now, here I am again, putting myself through this all over again for the exact same reasons. And I’ll probably keep doing this, with absolutely no expectations of ever winning a single thing.

We writers are odd like that.

Oh, in case you’re interested, my constraints for this round are: a fairy tale, a coal miner, and a pay cut.

I’m so grateful to the NYC Flash and Short Story Challenge for giving me this fantastic opportunity to grow as a writer.

Check it out, you might surprise yourself with the stories you can come up in such a short period of time.

http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/SSC/Challenge.htm

 

#tryalittletenderness

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Photo by Dreamstime.com

February 01, 2018

I’ve made it through an entire month of blog posts. Well, almost. Sadly, I did miss a few days, but a valiant attempt none-the-less.

I’ll try to do better this month, although I’m away on holidays for ten days, with questionable service. I may have to post several at a time.

Today. Well, today I’m going to make this post do double duty.

First, I am going to eat a tremendous amount of crow. And if I can survive a mouthful of feathers, I will tell you about another amazing woman. Sara Ohlin.

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. Yesterday I told you that it was because of my friend, Michelle Riddell that I got to know the lovely Lisa Lesaw. Today I realized my mistake. It was actually Sara, another writer I’ve come to know from our mutual association with MOTHERS ALWAYS WRITE, (MAW) who introduced us.

I’m so sorry, Sara. Please forgive my error.

Which brings me to the second part of this post. I’d love to tell you about Sara. I brilliant writer of words, amazing cook, photographer, and phenomenal mother to two adorable children. Recently she left the west coast to move to Maine. Which is a sad thing for me, because me might actually have had the chance to meet in person if she hadn’t’

I’m not giving up hope, though. I’m dreaming of a MAW writing retreat, where all these amazing women will gather to share our common love for our families, our writing, and that wonderful organization that brought us all together.

How amazing would that be?

You can find Sara’s writing, recipes, and photographs at her lovely blog: Lemons and Roses.

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Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Sara, I’m so grateful to have met you, virtually at least. And we really must work on that retreat.