(This post appeared originally on Montana Women Writers)
I lost my mother thirteen years ago, and my oldest daughter is about ready to graduate from high school. Mother’s Day has never felt more precious to me than it does this year.
Mothering is a complicated business. The day-to-day of it can range from mildly irritating to “I want to run screaming out of this house.” And those are some of the good days.
But the great days… ah, the great days. They will make your life.
My mother certainly gave me mine. My drive, my focus, my anxieties, my arranging flowers from the garden, all gifts from my mother. And, of course, she taught me how to be a mother in the same way I’ve taught my daughters, who have made their own internal list of what they will repeat and what they will do TOTALLY differently.
What is so particularly sweet about Mother’s Day this year, is the understanding that my full-time job, which I have done with all that I am, is about to be a part-time job at best. To be accurate, the hours have been diminishing for some time now. My girls, 18 and 15, have their own lives in addition to the one we share as a family. But while my hours as Mom have been cut, I’ve been bringing the same level of energy, heart, worry, and enthusiasm to the business of it.
The shift I’ve been gearing up for is the same one my mother had to make. What will our relationship look like when we get to define it ourselves? When the days of signing permission slips and sending lunch money are in the rear view mirror, what’s ahead on the highway?
For my lovely, funny, energetic Ava, there is an entire lifetime ahead with all the joy and complexity the world offers.
For me? I’m old enough to know that I don’t know. But my wish is to hold this Mother’s Day close to my heart and to know that every day after is just as precious.
Happy Mother’s Day
At the end of O Magazine, Oprah writes about one thing she knows for sure.
Today, I’m only sure of what I DON’T know…
A couple of nights ago, I hosted a collaging party for my bookgroup. It’s an exercise from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. You take a stack of magazines, rip out images and words that appeal to you, and arrange them on a poster board.
I’ve done it before, and it’s an exercise that can reveal both where we are, and where we’d like to go next.
This time, mine asked more questions than it answered.
For example, I was drawn to phrases like “What could she possibly be doing?” I also cut out and pasted the following words of advice: Define good. See the world… differently. Wake up and smell the tea. Pay attention. Use your imagination. Bring on spring. This season, bold.
And my personal favorite… Do the chicken dance.
In the center of it all I glued, “There are no rules.” Apparently, I don’t even know what the rules are anymore.
So, I’m going to celebrate, yes, celebrate some of what I don’t know.
1. I don’t know what happens when my first baby turns 18 years-old next month, graduates from high school in the spring, and leaves home (followed in the blink of 3 years by her younger sister).
2. Will my husband and I sit around listening to NPR until we bore ourselves into comas, or will we get out there and live an exciting next chapter? I don’t know!
3. Should I disguise the wonky silver hair showing up amid the brown or embrace it? I don’t know!
4. I’m doing a revision of a new novel involving Greek gods who wake up in a Montana fraternity house and the woman who hits one with her pick-up truck. Do I put it out as an e-book? Print? Or become a hybrid author with both indie and traditionally published books? I don’t know!
5. Have I used the term “hybrid author” correctly? I don’t know!
6. I write in the morning and try to stay off the internet (I hear you laughing). When I accidentally see a headline about a girl with hiccups now on trial for murder, why do I click it? I don’t know!
7. Besides avoiding articles about girls gone wild with hiccups, I don’t know how I will ever get done what I want to accomplish today, this week, this month, this year, this lifetime.
8. At this moment I’m sitting in my backyard watching a squirrel run off with a sunflower ripe with seeds. How do I say goodbye to summer? I don’t know!
9. What is the post-menopausal fairy dust that makes a single, solitary pound stick right at belly level? I don’t know!
10. And the last thing I don’t know… Much. Of. Anything.
And this weekend through Tuesday only… Back To U is 99cents. (I really do know that for sure!)
click on the cover to download in seconds from Amazon…
Okay, it’s not always the 1980′s in my heart. But it’s definitely the 80′s on my playlist (The Cars, anyone?) and this weekend it is my 1983 high school reunion.
Yep, I’m 48. And thank you for lying to me about not looking 48 because I count on that to feel better about the fact that THREE DECADES have gone by in a flash(dance).
Several reunions ago (there have been so many, they tend to blur together) I wrote down several things I missed about 1983. In honor of the weekend’s festivities, I’ll share a couple here…
I miss 1983 because my parents paid the bills, the average mortgage ran $335, gas was 81cents a gallon, and you could buy a six pack of beer with a five dollar bill and get change back.
I miss 1983 because though hair was unnaturally larger, breasts were naturally smaller.
I miss 1983 because when I turned on the radio I heard Journey, Prince, Loverboy, Michael Jackson, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the J. Geils Band, Foreigner, The Police, Toto, and John Cougar…. and they weren’t playing on the oldies station.
I miss 1983 because every guy I knew may not have had a car, a job, or any prospects, but he did have his hair.
I miss 1983 because when the teenage eye rolling thing happened, I was the eye roller and not the totally lame parent.
So, enjoy this fine summer weekend. I will attempt to while I reintroduce myself to people who won’t recognize me even after reading my name tag.
And if you have anything you miss from the ’80′s, send me a comment, and I’ll add it here or on Facebook.
Happy reminiscing & Happy e-Reading!
(Oh, and there’s a BEACH READ SALE on Amazon! Get some get-away for .99 cents!)
In the time it takes to watch a Romantic Comedy… you can read Hollywood Beginnings!
That was my plan when I set out to write a novel for summer. I made it a Quick Read, so you could finish it on the beach (or during a couple of lunch hours or waiting in the van… yeah, I know how busy life gets!)
I’ve always loved the Frankie and Annette beach movies and came up with the premise…
“What if…” your mother had been an up and coming star but left Hollywood before you were born? What would have driven her from stardom, and how would you, as her daughter, feel about growing up in Minnesota?
My main character, Amy, feels a little robbed. And when mother and daughter return to the City of Angels for a funeral, an over-due L.A. adventure is exactly what Amy gets!
And you’ll get Hollywood Beginnings with all the laughter, romance, and real women’s aha moments I could pack in a Quick Read… For FREE until midnight tonight! Download it in seconds from Amazon by just clicking on the cover!
As always it’s a crazy-busy time of year, but I’d like to share a pair of holiday inspired songs (only vaguely inappropriate) and offer you TWO PRESENTS! ( No, really, it’s okay if you didn’t get me anything)
The first song is for my writer friends out there… Sing to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas,
the one I hope’s right down the road.
Where the scenes I hammer and readers clamor
to rush my Kindle book download.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas
with every novel that I plot.
May the book be funny and hot,
and may all the comma errs be caught.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas.
I’ve worked the keyboard all year round,
where my neck would seize up, my fingers freeze up,
my head would spin around and pound.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas
I made my list in case he might…
May St. Nick bring a manuscript tonight,
’cause I’ve heard those elves can really write.
This next number (I’m sounding like a lounge singer now, aren’t I?) is one I wrote for my beloved Bookgroup: all women, all amazing, and all wondering if… Here Comes Menopause.
You can hear this song performed (not by me) in front of my very own Christmas tree. I love the little dog in the background (also not mine but I wish he were).The yellow title below links directly to Youtube where you’ll enjoy lyrics like… “She’s got a bag that’s filled with rage, but she loves you just the same!”
And didn’t I say something about a PRESENT… about TWO PRESENTS? Yes, I did. To thank everyone for being so wonderfully supportive and encouraging in my first year as a real live author, The Do-Over and my newest novel, Plan On It will be available for FREE downloads on December 26!
Thankyouthankyouthankyou and happy e-reading!
It’s the countdown for back to school and as fun as summer has been… I’m finding myself in need of a break. In my novel, The Do-Over, Mara Jane Mulligan takes a 30 day vacation from her life, and what mom doesn’t deserve one of those?!
Here’s my top ten reasons why moms need a vacation from summer vacation!
- 1. After a road trip, you do laundry for the exact number of days you were “relaxing.”
- 2. You’ve had way too much mini-van time with extra children, damp towels, and if you made a truly questionable decision… a wet dog.
- 3. Because unlike the school year, eating and messing things up can and does occur between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
- 4. If you have young children, your lazy summer day begins around 6 a.m. If you have teenagers, their lazy summer day begins at noon. If you have both… someone is always asleep at your house, and it isn’t you.
- 5. No matter how many towels you have, they’re dirty. No matter how many bottles of sunscreen you own, they’re missing. And no matter how many children are near, the mosquitoes only bite you.
- 6. While school supplies can be costly, summer fun starts with an inexpensive pool pass but ends up with a doctor’s bill and antibiotics for an ear infection.
- 7. The refrigerator is always empty, but somehow the dishes are still covered with half-eaten food.
- 8. The bathtub sports a permanent black scum from flip-flop feet.
- 9. The hotdogs and s’mores are beginning to affect your cholesterol levels.
- 10. As much as you love summer and love your children… you deserve a chance to relax a little before you have to shop for enough supplies to start your own school!
This is for all the moms out there who made summer fun and now seriously deserve a nap!
Thanks to the Whine and Cheese Over Books club for having me as a guest last week! They gather to share book picks on Goodreads, which I’ve just joined. It’s a site full of lots of great book talk, and I’m going to pass the information along to my own book group.
My personal highlights of the evening besides being hosted at Corie’s beautiful house in the woods and enjoying a Montana evening gathered around a firepit on the patio… was discovering how unique and yet how similar women’s gatherings can be. The Whine and Cheese Over Books club is not all that different from the group of women I meet with.
We’re connected by the similar experiences of being women knee-deep in our lives and laughing and wrestling with it in equal measure.
As a writer, the best part of the evening was hearing women quoting lines I had written and laughing together about it. I work for months alone on a novel, and to get a moment to share some of my work with just the kind of women I want for readers was a real gift… thank you!
I write women’s fiction. I’m not sure why in some circles that’s a questionable activity. I can’t imagine why I’d be writing men’s fiction, for example, or gender neutral fiction. As a woman, I’m interested in our stories. I hope everyone is fascinated by their own story (even the train-wrecky parts), and I think it follows that the stories other women carry around I’d want to hear. And, of course, write.
It doesn’t matter to me that the women’s stories I tell are from paper women. They’re not just words to me. In my imagination, Mara Jane Mulligan in The Do-Over, and Gwen from my next novel Back to U, live just as surely as anyone else I know well and love.
I think of the characters in my stories as beloved cousins who live in another state. We share a deep history, but I don’t get to see them very often.
But what do women’s stories have to do with iris and bling? Let me start with the iris because they are coming up all over my yard. My mother’s amber colored bearded iris, and the milky purple ones that smell like sugar are in full bloom.
They are a small part of my inheritance from her. Besides my nose and the million things mothers give to daughters, she gave me many of her stories. I know about her growing up years as an Idaho farm girl, how she met my dad, and how they spent fifty-one years together before her time came.
But there’s another iris in my garden, and this came from a woman whose story I never really got to hear. My mother’s mother died when I was one, and I know little about her. I didn’t inherit her stories, which would have been my first choice, and I didn’t inherit any bling, which would have been my third choice (I am not above jewelry, even the cheap kind), but I did inherit her iris and a story that goes along with them….
The Edge of the Foundation
Years ago my mother and one of my sisters were driving through Idaho and stopped by the old farmhouse where my mom grew up. The house had long since been lost to fire, but all around the edge of the foundation, my grandmother’s iris still grew strong and lovely. My mother dug up just enough for the women in the family to each get one rhizome. Mine has multiplied to dozens and dozens of blooms I’ve divided several times and shared with women friends. And every time I enjoy their blossoms in the spring, every time I run into a friend who thanks me for the iris in her own garden, I’m grateful for women’s stories because that’s exactly how they work too.