Tag Archives: life

Life Is Pain, Highness!

There’s no better way to start the day than a quote from The Princess Bride. And no better way to live your life.

Typing after nearly decapitating my finger hasn’t been easy. A week later and still, the only feeling I have in my right pointer from the top knuckle up is a perpetual odd numbness like it’s sleeping.

That is until I bump the tip of it. Then fireworks explode. And while I don’t tend to think that I and K are as useful as M, S and A, they are used more often than you think. As is the comma. Additionally, I also use Pointer Finger to backspace, something I do more often than I probably should. (How I graduated from highschool without a typing class, I’ll never know.)

Yet despite the inconvenience of tapping a keyboard with a half-dead finger, I still managed to write about three thousand new words and edit a whole slew of other ones.

Life is full of bumps and bruises and aches and pains. Some emotional. Some physical. If we are to survive, we must persevere as Wesley did in my All-Time Favorite Movie, The Princess Bride.

He let neither pirates nor giants, expert swordsmen nor poison deter him from tracking down his loved one. He even survived the Pit of Despair to return to his fair maiden, Buttercup.

Thankfully my life isn’t quite so exciting as his, though I’ve learned my lesson well.

We must write, dance, sing, sew, swim or run through life lest we give up. For once we do, we are nothing more than the end of my finger: numb to everything that goes on around us.

Life is pain, but it only wins if we let it.

P.S. Any typos found within are strictly the fault of my defunct finger. Our regularly scheduled good grammar will resume shortly.

 

 

 

Why I Write

My grandfather passed away on Saturday. He turned eighty-eight at midnight and left this world thirty minutes later. He was ready to go, which always makes things easier.

Over the years, I’ve been honored with penning poems for funeral programs. I’ve also had the joy of nudging marriages along with a handful of words. Each time, I write with the individuals in mind. Each poem or piece a testament to a specific person. A specific purpose.

My grandfather was a quiet man. Midwestern stoic. A hard worker. A provider. A practical man. He was the kind to show his care for others through actions, not words. And  yet, deep within this practical exterior was a soul of whimsy.

A welder by trade, he pieced together bits and scraps in his free time. Nails. Pop bottle tops. Cast iron skillets. In his work-worn hands, these every day items came together as miniature works of art.

The refrigerator magnets of my childhood were pop top skillets with two painted eggs frying inside. A beautiful nail rocking chair adorned my mom’s bookshelf, while tiny windmills captured the attention of guests. Just yesterday, a skillet clock passed hands from my mom to my little sister. All these and more were gifts from a quiet, unassuming man.

He took his business motto seriously: “We weld everything but broken hearts and the crack of dawn.”

In life, he created. In honor of his life, I write.

 

WELDED BY LOVE

Love is not a parade of roses.

It’s a rocking chair,

thoughtfully presented

to relieve your weary load.

 

Love is not fancy dinners

celebrated on commercial holidays

rich with chocolate, wine and flawless diamonds.

It’s breakfast—two eggs, over easy—in a beat up frying pan.

 

Love is the breath of the wind,

spinning through windmill blades,

full of energy, passion and power.

 

It’s raw and untainted,

a hodgepodge of little things

not meant to woo,

but to comfort the soul

 

It’s a rough beard

and rougher hands

work-worn

and blackened.

 

Love is not fixing what is broken;

It’s never breaking it in the first place.

 

We weld everything

but broken hearts

and the crack of dawn.

 

Father,

Grandfather,

Grandpa,

Pops.

 

You welded more than you will ever know.

I write to give breath to that which may be forgotten. I write to teach, not preach. To soothe the soul with a balm of words made of hope and compassion. I write to give voice to those who cannot.

Why do you write?

Curious minds want to know.

Looking Forward One Step At A Time

In two days I get to go white-water rafting for the very first time. In five days Eldest turns eighteen. In nine days he moves into his dorm room and two weeks after that, I send my littles off to school.

It doesn’t matter what we have in front of us, as long as we have something to look forward to.

In life, it’s getting an education, securing a career, raising children and retiring comfortably. In writing, it’s writing a book, sending a query and getting published.

Yet, amid the myriad of dreams, goals and expectations we have for ourselves, things can get off track. I’m here to tell you that this is perfectly okay–as long as we keep something in front of us to motivate us. By our very nature, humans need emotional fulfillment. We need to accomplish things–large or small. We need to succeed.

But we often set humongous goals for ourselves and keep those so tightly focused in our minds that we forget all the baby steps along the way. We get so overwhelmed by this seemingly untouchable dream that we lose our spirit, our motivation and our passion. We let this unattainable goal press down on us to the point where it forces our failure rather than leads to our success.

Last week we vacationed with Dear Hubby’s family. All twenty-one aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were there. During the course of the week, Eldest must have heard 2001 pep talks about his upcoming college endeavor. One had a huge impact on him and he relayed it to me on our way to his orientation.

His uncle pointed out that college is like a trip to California. You know where you will ultimately end up, but you can’t focus on that. You can’t look at the map of California and expect to arrive safely from across the country. Instead, you have to concentrate on what is directly in front of you–what you can see in your headlight beams. Because if you’re only looking at pictures of the beach, you’re going to crash right into the deer standing in your way.

When you feel overwhelmed by your life path, what do you do to slow it down? How do you keep focused and keep moving forward?

Curious minds want to know.

Twenty Years of Greatness

No, I haven’t been writing for twenty years.

I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for 7,305 days. We’ve had our ups and downs (obviously), but the truth: I’ve never been happier than I am right now. Despite my flaws and his flaws and my strengths and his, we have vowed to make this thing called marriage work. And work it does.

Cat’s Guide to a Happy Marriage

  • Never, ever go into it with an out. In other words, ditch the idea that “if it doesn’t work, we can always get divorced.” This thought process dooms you from the start. Marriage isn’t to be taken lightly. It isn’t a passing fancy. It’s a commitment. So either commit or stay friends.
  • Never, ever go to bed angry. And no, I’m not talking fight so you can have make-up sex. That’s twisted and wrong. Instead, discuss your feelings openly and honestly. What is working and what isn’t? How can you fix what’s broken? How can you make what’s amazing even better? It might be hard at first, but the more you talk, the better you’ll get at it.
  • Never, ever hold a grudge. If you truly go to bed each night without anger, this should never be a problem. If it is, you’re in for a poisonous relationship. Grudges don’t help. They strangle any and all things good. Translating this further, when you do fight, leave all the old crap behind. Don’t bring up “that one time when we were dating and you said….” Deal with it. Get over it. Move on.
  • Always respect your significant other. Always. It doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time. It simply means that you are two individuals with two distinct personalities and each of you deserve to be handled with care. Marriage is not the place to ignore each other, throw temper tantrums, manipulate or abuse. It’s a partnership.
  • Which brings me to this: always remember that marriage is a partnership. It’s not a tit for tat. It’s not you against him. It’s not a tally sheet or a check book. It is, however, a relationship of give and take. You give because you want to. He will do the same. Trust me on this, nothing is more satisfying than your partner’s happiness and when he’s happy, he’ll do everything in his power to make you happy.
  • Always keep in mind your goals. Raise kids. Buy a house. Own a dog. Vacation twice a year. Financial freedom. Career growth. When you know what you want, it’s easier to achieve it. If you have no goals, you might find yourself mired down in the quicksand of “then what’s the point?”
  • Never, ever forget that anything worth having in life takes hard work and dedication. Seriously. Marriage is hard. It’s not all butterflies and rainbows (or bloody Mary’s and martinis). Sometimes it’s more like pole skunks and port-a-potties.  But, going through the bad makes you appreciate the good. And even if your neighbor makes marriage look like a constant beach party, I guarantee you even they have moments where Hell would be a preferable vacation spot.
  • Always keep your distance. (Say what?) Marriage brings two amazing spirits together in one union. Without the spunk and individuality of the two, your marriage is doomed. Give him his time to hang with the boys. Let her savor quiet moments of uninterrupted time to read a book without guilt. Keep your distance or your personalities will merge into one gloppy, boring mess.
  • And for the love of all things dear, do not act like a parent. I am not my husband’s mother. I have no right to tell him what he can or cannot do. I have no right to micromanage his life. Conversely, he’s not my father. I don’t have to ask permission and I don’t deserve guilt trips for making “wrong choices.” Why on God’s green earth would anyone marry his parent? Repeat after me: marriage is a partnership. Equality reigns supreme. We ask each other’s opinions and we never act without the consent of the other–not because we have to, but because we respect each other.
  • Always have fun together. When the kids are gone, the house is paid for, promotions are received and you hit that existential time in your life to reflect back on what it all means, you don’t want to roll over and wonder who the heck is sharing your bed. The opposite of keeping your distance is to get to know your partner, be with your partner and share your life stories with her. Don’t lose yourself, but also, don’t lose each other.

I love my husband. I respect him and care deeply for him. I truly look forward to the next twenty forty years.

Happy anniversary to anyone in a committed, loving relationship. You rock my socks off!

Please share your tips and trick to making your partnership work.

New Year. New Word.

I have a wonderful cyber friend who doesn’t write New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead, she picks a word that speaks to her and will motivate her throughout the upcoming twelve months and into the years beyond.

My word for 2012: Challenge.

As in the verb, because life holds enough challenge in the noun form.  It is a challenge to find time to write.  It is a challenge to stay in shape.  It is a challenge to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and neighbor.  Doing life well is a definite challenge.

Which is exactly why I challenge myself to do better and be better in 2012.

I challenge myself to take my health seriously.  My genetic package is less than stellar, and so far I’ve cheated extra pant sizes by sheer luck alone.  Yet, thin and healthy are not synonymous.  High blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels and a history of heart disease loom in my future, as do obesity and diabetes.

I challenge myself to be a better writer.  Always a little on the ADD side of normal, I get lost in my own head on a regular basis.  I am a whimsical writer in the sense that I work on whichever project strikes my fancy.  So far it’s panned out, as I always have multiple projects in multiple stages that I can work on when the mood moves me.  However, I’m at a point where I shouldn’t take a year to spit-shine one manuscript.

This year, I challenge myself to be a better communicator.  Sometimes I leave things unsaid or say things I shouldn’t.  Conflict gives me the hives, so I confront it as little as possible.  Likewise, I’m a wishy-washy decision maker at best, which can frustrate even the most patient of souls.  The upside is that people think I’m sweet, if a little flighty.  The downside is…well, it’s unspeakable, and henceforth my need to communicate better becomes the utmost challenge.

I challenge myself to be a better wife and mother.  DH’s promotion comes with a change in time away from home and a different level of stress.  The end of the school year brings our first graduation and a new driver into the family.  It also burdens our calendar with more events as the little boys sample sports and develop their passions.  Long story short, getting lost in my own head for an entire day is no longer viable while raising a family of six.

Life is a challenge.  One I challenge myself to face with grace, dignity and determination.

Anyone else up for a challenge?  What one word describes your upcoming year?  What goals do you hope to accomplish?  What steps must you take to get there?

Curious minds want to know.

In Which I Retire.

Thirty-nine might be a bit young to retire, but I kind of did that yesterday.

After much debating with my wonderful DH, I sold off my preschool and retired from real-life work.  Okay, I’ll still advocate for divorcing families and kids when the need arises, but for the most part, I’m now a full-time writer.

And to that end, I sat in my newly dusted office with my mug of hazelnut coffee and my net book for most of the day.  I got two chapters written on my WIP and all of my critiques completed for my crit partners.  I also coerced convinced a writer friend to beta for me and already got her amazing and helpful feedback. 

My YA is thisclose to getting sent off to Agent Awesome.  And my chapter book WIP is thisclose to being a complete first draft. 

Retirement couldn’t be better…well, not until DH retires, that is.  That is when we’ll tour the world on his golf cart while I pen amazing novels. 

Anybody else have retirement dreams?  Anyone living them?