Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dream Big... It's a Brand New Year!

Determination, good joo-joo and a little luck will get you everywhere!

I can honestly say that I've never made a New Years resolution that I've not achieved, and I will tell you the secret to my goal setting success shortly, but first let's talk about you, the New Year and what resolutions you may or may not be contemplating as 2010 rolls this way. Really, so much depends on what stage of life you're at. In my twenties my goals were... Lose that 5lbs, find a better job and naturally meet Mr. Wonderful. In my thirties, married with children, I owned a hair salon and much of my life revolved around long hours and unsatisfying work. I adored my clients and loved doing hair–what I didn't enjoy was trying to be and do it all. The hours were long (eleven plus hour days) my children young, and I was struggling with my decision to run a business when, in fact, all I really wanted was to be a mom. That year, unhappy and under much strain, my resolution was simply–to enjoy life more. As understated as that particular goal seemed at the time, it proved to be the most important resolution I would ever make. Enjoy life more. Think about it. Isn't that why we make resolutions in the first place–to make our lives more satisfying? Making that one resolution led me to do a lot of soul searching, which in turn led me to leave the salon business and pursue my true passion–writing–which enabled me to be an at home with my kids–which led me to adopt another child... All of which helped me to achieve my current state of affairs. Enjoying life, am I? I must admit that I am. After much trial and error, I've finally found my true calling and it's not one that interferes with my life, my children, or my joy.

If you're exactly where you want to be, congrats and more power to you! If you're still working to get there, ask yourself these two all-important questions:

1. What would make me enjoy my life more?
2. What steps do I need to take to get there?

Remember when I said that I'd never set a resolution that I'd not met? Here's the secret. Write it down! Writing your wants and needs down on paper sets them into motion. Write the goal you want to accomplish, and then below it, the baby steps you can take to get there. Remember, even small steps in the right direction WILL get you there eventually. DREAM BIG this year!

New Years Resolutions–2010
1. Good health.
2. Good fortune.
3. Good joo-joo : ).
4. Good Literary Agent.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Journal

Do you have a passion, or something that you're particularly drawn to, but you have no idea why? Me too. I have a girlfriend who has a "thing" for frogs and another who collects clown dolls. She has them everywhere! Whatever floats your boat, right? Me, I've been collecting book and writing paraphernalia for ages. Over the years, it's turned into a wonderful collection of books, journals and bookends that I've found from all over. The books are many. They line my shelves and desks as do my prized bookends; one of my favorite, a pair of wonderful Foo Dogs that my husband picked up in Japan Town, when we were in San Francisco two years ago for World AIDS Day. 

And then there are the journals... I love journals. I've been collecting them ever since my sister bought me my very first one as a gift for my twelfth birthday. I've never told her, but that very thoughtful gift changed my life. You see, growing up, I was an almost painfully shy child. It was very difficult for me to express myself, or speak up even. Writing became a wonderful outlet for me; a way for me to release all the feelings and thoughts I was too quiet to share. As I grew up, and my shyness faded, the desire to write never left me. Putting words and stories down on paper–it has become as natural and necessary for me as the air I breathe.  

A few months back, with most of my journals and notebooks full, I started searching for one more to add to my collection.  I'd been especially drawn to one in particular.  It was without a doubt the most enchanting journal I'd ever laid eyes on; deep, emerald green with an embossed cover, and hundreds of blank white pages just begging to be filled. Every time I'd walk through that B & N door, I'd go straight to it hoping that it was still there. Naturally, it was too much money, so I'd just gaze a bit, then move on.

I never made mention of it, so you can only imagine my surprise when, Christmas day, I unwrapped a  box with a beautiful gold ribbon, and inside it lay the journal. What a wonderful, unexpected surprise! Christmas truly is a magical time. It is late now, and as Christmas comes to an end and the sky outside grows dark, I turn on the table lamp that sits on my writing desk and reach for my new journal, its blank pages waiting to be filled with the magic of words, and stories too important to be forgotten...   



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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Gingerbread House!

Yonas, Charlie, and the amazing gingerbread house...
Such a good helper!! But hey! Wait a minute...Where'd all the jelly-beans go?!

A boy and his dog. Is there anything cuter? I can only think of one thing... The boy and his dog making a gingerbread house together! When Alee and Mitch left their little brother to finish decorating the house with gumdrops and jellybeans, good 'ol Charlie, our (jellybean loving) dog, decided to get in on the action. It was no surprise to discover that Charlie (and Yonas) love jelly beans–a lot!! And I must admit, quite a few went missing! We had just enough to finish the roof, but forget about a door! But hey, who needs a door, right? Especially when it tastes as good as a jellybean : )   

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Greatest Gift...

Clay and I putting up our first Christmas tree in 1987
Our baby girl, born December 1990
Merry Christmas... Kentucky style!! I hope you are filled with joy and blessings galore this year. Christmas–It can be a hectic and demanding time. So much to do! I never seem to get it all done, but I gave up stressing over it a long time ago. I'm that lady with the squeaky cart wheeling down the Walmart aisle on Christmas Eve looking for double A batteries... Never fails! But it doesn't matter because I love Christmas, and all the wonderful memories it conjurs up.
I met my husband twenty-two years ago, about this time of year. He proposed to me in December. I'll never forget that first Christmas, and our decorating the tree together. It was a very crooked tree and we never did get it to stand perfectly right. In fact, we ended up putting a paper back book under one corner to make it look straight. Whatever works, right? I remember watching Clay carry in that crooked tree–he was so proud–smiling from ear-to-ear. And I remember knowing at that instant that he was the man I'd spend the rest of my life with.
Our first child was born by c-section right before Christmas in 1990, just a few years after Clay and I were married. Again, Christmas that year wasn't perfect. In fact, it's just a blur. I think we managed to put a tree up, but between the late night feedings and my recovering from the surgery, I honestly can't even remember decorating it. What I do remember is holding that beautiful little angel, and singing "Silent Night" to her while she slept in my arms. THAT is the closest to perfect that I'll ever come. 

Fast forward twenty-two Christmases later... Right now, Yonas, my youngest, is making himself a hotdog while singing, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Alee, my beautiful baby girl, who just celebrated her nineteenth birthday, is home on college break. And Mitchell, my almost fourteen-year-old, is getting ready to paint a masterpiece with the art set his Mamaw gave him just last night. Clay's cheering on a football game downstairs and I'm...smiling. Our life hasn't been perfect, but do I love the way it's turned out? Absolutely. Is my tree this year straight? Of course not, but I love it just the same as if it were.  As I continue with my squeaky cart down the aisles of Walmart, Christmas growing ever near, I hope for you and yours a wonderful (perfect ; ) as can be) season filled with the greatest gift of all... What is that, you ask? The greatest gift is one that fulfills a need. What is it that you need right now? Me, I'm thirsty for a glass of water. Such a basic need, and one I take for granted on a daily basis, but it's a need that goes unmet in many other parts of the world, such as Africa, where my youngest son was born. I think this time of year our hearts open just a little wider to those less fortunate than ourselves. So give wisely and from the heart this year to someone in need. That, my friend, is without a doubt, the greatest gift of all! 
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas on Waldo's Mountain

Hey! It's cold up here!

Where did Dad go?!

Cute little winter girl

Are you sure that knot will hold, honey?

Do you ever wonder where our holiday traditions come from? Yep, me too. I think many are passed down to us from our own families, some come from friends and others we just seem to pick up as we go. Christmas wasn't always a happy time in my home when I was a child. My mother often seemed to get sad around Christmas and although she would try to hide it, children pick up on these things. I'm sure that being a single mom who worked full time yet still had difficulty making ends meet played a large part in her discontent. Still, we always put up a tree, and my mother who very rarely cooked would on Christmas Eve, put on a meal fit for a king. So, from her I took those two happy traditions, putting up a tree and putting on a fabulous Christmas dinner. During my early teen years, I had a close girlfriend whose mother, even on a bad day, could rival Martha Stewart. I remember it was so much fun to hang out at their house during the holidays. They were like Leave it to Beaver meets Emeril. Could this lady ever cook! Ever had homemade beef jerky? She would marinate it all day and then hang it on her oven racks. While it cooked, we'd sit at the kitchen table stringing real cranberries to hang on the tree. When we finished, she'd pull the strips of jerky off the racks and we'd get to sample it while it was still warm.  No, I'm not kidding! Those two traditions I adopted from her family. Some of the most fun traditions, I think we just sort of pick up along the way. Take this morning for instance. Every year Clay and I go round and round about a tree. He likes the kind that come in a box with the lights already attached and I like the good smelling kind that you have to haul home on top of your car. So we compromise, some years we do it his way and other years we do it mine. This year we did something totally different. We drove to a Christmas tree farm. Well actually, we got lost trying to find the Christmas tree farm and then when we finally did find it (down a long stretch of road that led deep into the woods) the place was closed... But the owner, who happened to be rabbit hunting, after hearing how far we'd driven, decided to let us drive up the hillside to pick out a tree. It didn't take us long to find the perfect one–a seven foot tall Scottish Pine. We had a lot of fun up there on the Christmas tree farm. It's definitely a new tradition that I hope to continue. It's true what they say, it's the little things that really count. Traditions–no matter how seemingly incidental–give our children (and we grown-ups too) something special to remember and look forward to during the busy holidays!  So whatever your traditions, be them old or new, big or small, you need only remember one thing... Just enjoy them! Our children will grow up but the joyous memories we create today will be something they remember and pass down to their own children. If you have any traditions you'd like to share I'd love to hear them! Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season.     

The "Design Team" did such a great job!

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Toot your horns people... My novel's finished!

A beautiful fountain in the heart of Madison, Indiana

Besides my family, I'd have to say that my biggest passion in life is writing. It always has been. Even when I was a young girl, I turned to books and writing at every pass; a habit that's followed me into adulthood. It gives me a great sense of appreciation when someone tells me that something I've written has touched them in some way. I think that's the whole point of writing for me. That and of course the obvious–it's just plain fun. Fiction especially. I have a couple of writer friends who've published memoirs recently. One such writer is Kim Michele Richarson. Her memoir, The Unbreakable Child is a must read. The story is riveting and the writing supreme. If you only read one book this month, this is the one... You will find yourself rooting for justice with each turn of the page!
I really have to commend anyone brave enough to write a memoir. The truth is so much harder to write than fiction. I have a rough draft of my own story buried in a trunk somewhere that one day I will tackle. One day, but not this day! For now, I'll stick with fiction, because it's easier to write and I love the challenge of developing characters and dreaming up compelling plots. I've always had a facination with Madison, a small town in Indiana that stretches along the river. About this time last year, my husband and I made the drive across the Milton-Madison bridge to attend the Chatauqua Art Festival. It was a warm, muggy day and as we sat looking out over the river, soaking up the wonderful music and festivities, a story started to take root inside of me... A story about a girl I didn't know yet, but over the course of a year she would grow to become a friend, and character that I will never forget. Well, I worked very hard and the novel is finished. I can't give away any of the details yet but I can say that two agents in NY have requested a read. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Thanks for visiting today and I'll be sure to keep you posted as to how this new "chapter" in my life unfolds...

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here Comes the Judge... And He's Shrunk a Little!

It's official! Yonas's re-adoption here in the States is finally complete and now we can apply for his US birth certificate and SSI number. Some states don't require that you re-adopt, but unfortunately Kentucky's not one of them. It's a rather costly ordeal, but I'm certainly glad to have it done. It was our very last little hurdle to jump and we actually got to meet some great people who helped us along the way. The judge wasn't anything like I expected. (I guess I watch too much People's Court : ) He was super! I think after a long day of handling custody and divorce proceedings, our happy little affair was a welcome reprieve. After the re-adoption proceedings were all done the judge shook Yonas's hand and invited him to come up and try out his fancy chair.  Yonas had one word for it... AWESOME! 

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