Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'll Never Do a Pull-Up

My whole body aches this morning.  My arms feel like they were set on fire.  My shoulder blades don't want to move without eliciting a searing pain down my back.  I think Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jones at Taekwondo were intent on wearing out our arms this week. I hate push-ups, because after two and a half years of taking Taekwondo, I can still pretty much only do them from my knees.  Another thing I learned this week: I can't for the life of me do a pull-up.  I tried this week, and I failed miserably.  I even had a chair to stand on to get me started.  I put my hands on the pull-up bar, and I dropped, trying to pull myself up, then just felt my body sinking until I hit the ground.  

This little defeat reminded me, oh so much, of the days of the Presidential Fitness Award.  It reminded me of dressing out at gym in my navy Shorts and white MA tee-shirt (GO NAVY!!!), and standing in the weight room looking at that pull-up bar with distress.  While the boys could do any number of pull-ups (seemingly), I couldn't even pull myself up, and in those days I weighed like 90 pounds or less!  Some things never change (my inability to do a pull-up.  I will never see 90 lbs again)! 

I probably for the life of me will never be able to do a pull-up, but I look at my arms from all the exercise I've been doing and they're getting in shape.  They look about a gazillion times better now than they did back in 2011 before I started taking Taekwondo. 

I was thinking last night, while procrastinating, about how as human beings we always want more and we always want better.  We're never satisfied with what we have.  I don't know if this is true of all humans--probably not--but certainly Americans have this mentality.  I was thinking about how I look at my body, and I see little pouches of fat, and I see all the imperfections written on me, some of them go along with a story, an injury or a birth of a child.  I was focusing on the imperfections, instead of seeing what I've achieved.  I'm a second level brown belt.  I've been exercising consistently for two years.  Yeah, I might not have a perfect body, but I have a healthy body and that should be what's important.  I might look at the models and the actresses in the magazines or on television, and wish I could be like them.  I want more than I can have.  These actresses/models have personal trainers for about eight hours a day.  They either don't eat or they eat a diet prepared by a chef in their glorious mansions.  They certainly are not sitting on their A$$ for eight hours at work, and they certainly aren't sitting at a computer in all their free time trying to write a book.  The ones who do write probably dictate that as they run to some lowly assistant who then has to type it out for them and gets absolutely no credit.  Yeah--you know what I'm talking about.

I'm one of those people who was born into a "wanting" more mentality, and I'm not sure why.  Maybe my imagination takes me to places I shouldn't go, or maybe I have an unrealistic expectation of how to succeed.  But I'm trying to be happy with what I have.  I'm trying to look at my life, my body, my writing, and tell myself I have what I NEED.  Because I do.  Right now, I have everything I need.  I'm healthy and fit.  I have wonderful children.  I have a drive that will hopefully one day let me become a successful author.   This is all I need.  Who would want more?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Drive and Determination

Yesterday was a wash.  I was so busy.  Hubby and I were running around everywhere with the three kids.  Number Two had his first soccer game, which was rained out, but then the other team showed up late, and they agreed to play.  Here he is as goalie:

There are a couple of kids on his team who really know how to play, which is surprising because they are five and six years old.  He has this little girl on his team who shows the same sort of determination that Number One shows in gymnastics.  Oh to be that young and have drive--amazing!

And speaking of drive, I've had this incredible drive to write lately.  If I could, I'd lock myself in a room and write and write and write.  It's funny how it hits you. I've never had writer's block, but I go through periods where I don't write.  Right now I'm the opposite: I can't imagine not writing.  I almost feel like I'm in another world when I write.  Music playing loudly, and I can just type and type, watching my characters take shape and seeing where they take me.  Because after all, where the story goes is their decision and not mine: or so it seems. 

Today, I'm going to write 5,000 words or so.  That's my goal.  I also want to go for a run tonight, if my stomach starts feeling better (too much rich food at Bonefish with a friend last night).  I need to be able to have the same determination I feel when I'm writing in all aspects of my life, but let's face it humans just don't operate that way. 

I look at my kids, and I see they do best at the one thing they LOVE the most.  Isn't this the way of the world?  Life is too short not to do the things you love. 

Determination and goal setting always takes you where you want to go. 
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Be Kind

Today was a long day to add to my last few long weeks.  I've been delving into my writing, escaping reality in so many ways, and creating reality in others.  I've been goal oriented and driven, but I've also been dealing with some tough facts about people I care about.  One of my friends received some bad news, and it has just thrown me for a loop.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and sometimes I have trouble sifting through my emotions as they crop up. 

Today I had to work late. I decided to go to Costco afterwards, get gas, and buy the flat of water that I have to provide to Number One's gym for the Girl's Meet this weekend.  When you have three kids, it's always something.  Turning out of the shopping center, instead of accelerating my car started decelerating.  Now this has happened to me before.  I apparently have the magic touch for making car problems appear.  This particular car is my old Camry.  I've had it since 2000.  Yes, that makes the car 13 years old.  It has ALMOST 200,000 miles on it.  I love my Camry, but it may be time for it to retire soon.  My Camry has been through so much with me, and it almost feels like it is a part of my family.  I digress.  So anyway, luckily I realized the Camry was about to stop, and I was able to pull over onto the right side of the road. 

I called Hubby.  He answered, and we talked as the kids screamed in the background.  He said he'd get them in the car and come help me.  I sat there, hazards on, windows rolled down on the side of the road.  I don't know how many people passed me in the 20 minutes I sat there, but it was a lot, as I was stopped on the side of a busy road.  Not ONE person stopped to help me.  Not one!  I mean if someone had stopped, I would have told them to go on because my husband was coming, but it's the thought that counts, right.  Practice random kindness, and it will come back to you.  You never EVER know what the person next door is going through, and one act of kindness could change their life in ways you never imagined.

Maybe it's because I'm in a funk, and "bad things" keep happening to good people around me.  Maybe it's because I EXPECT too much from the fellow human beings in my life, but if I saw a woman stranded on the side of the road, then I think I would stop to help.  Remember when I did 26 things in remembrance of the victims of the Newtown shooting?  If everyone just gave a little bit of themselves to help other people every day, then the world would be a better place. 

I know that if just one person stopped today, it would probably have lifted my mood. 

Maybe something good will happen tomorrow that will give me a renewed faith in humanity. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Since school started, I've commented how there is so little time in the day.  People ask me all the time where I find time to write.  How do you find time to work, to exercise, to be a Mom and to write?  Let me ask you this: how do you find time to breath?  Writing for me is almost like breathing.  I feel best when I'm writing.  Take it as a form of therapy, or a way to work through some problem I'm having, or just a way to escape from the harsh reality of the world sometimes.  When I'm writing I feel the most well adjusted.  I feel whole.

I read Stephen King's, "On Writing," and he was discussing people who only had one book published or only EVER wrote one book, and he made some flippant comment like, "What were they doing with all their time?  Knitting socks?"  When you're a writer you're driven to write.  You're motivated to do it, because it's what you like doing best.  You write because you HAVE to write. When I watch Number One on the P-bars or the rings and I see how he sometimes reluctantly leaves the floor if he hasn't perfected the skill, I understand, because that's how I feel about writing.  Determined to make it perfect.  Determined not to give up.  Determined to succeed. 

So how do I find the time?  I make the time.  I wake up super early: 5:00-5:30, depending on whether I've hit the snooze button.  I check Facebook, and I usually lose a few games of Candy Crush, the world's biggest time suck, then I pour my second cup of coffee and I edit or write.  I research ideas, or I simply put my fingers to the keyboard and type to my heart's content.  I'm usually a little miserable when the alarm on my phone goes off reminding me I have a real job and that's it time to get ready for the day.

At night, I do the same thing again.  I use all the minutes of the day to do the thing I'm most driven to do: write.  It's my passion, and I can feel the determination pouring from me, and it's a lot better use of my time than playing Candy Crush, or surfing Facebook, or watching cheesy movies and shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime.  (Although I do admit that I do those things--everyone needs a break from work every once in awhile, even if it's work you love). 

In order to succeed you have to work hard.  You have time if you look for it, even if it's twenty minutes a day to do the thing you love the best or the thing you must need to do for yourself: Just do it.  Stop making excuses, go for it and live your dreams.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12th Anniversary of 9-11-01: We'll Always Remember

Today is 9-11.  It has been 12 years.  Seems so long ago, but I remember it like yesterday.  I was living in Washington D.C. at the time, and was at work checking out the new on Washington Post's web page, when I saw the picture of the first plane going into the Twin Towers. 

I remember telling a co-worker, and she turned on the news on the analog TV in her office.  We all watched in horror as the second plane went into the building.  We watched in horror as people jumped to their death, instead of succumbing to smoke inhalation.  And we watched as the towers began to collapse, aware of all the lives inside that were ending.

I went back to my desk, shaken by what I had seen.  We were deciding what to do.  I worked for a small credit union, but we were in a government building, and it was clear at this point it was a terrorist attack. 

My Mom called, "Lauren, they've hit the Pentagon!  You need to get out of there.  We are under attack."

"Mom, I'm at work."

"Go home.  Lock your doors.  Don't go anywhere.  Move back to Alabama." (I took her advice on this, albeit years later--the moving part that is).

About this time the CEO decided we would close, and he sent us all home.  Hubby, who wasn't hubby then, had my car so I went home with my friend Kristin and waited for him to pick me up. 

Driving into D.C., the streets were deserted.  Strange to see a place so normally bustling,  completely empty.  We turned towards our house and a tank came rambling towards us.  There were soldiers on the street, like we now lived in a war zone.

In the days that passed, the U.S. came together.  Everyone put up flags.  We vowed never to forget.  We vowed to be ONE nation together and put aside our differences for the sake of common good.  We'll never forget the horrific attack on our nation and the lives lost.  I'll never forget this gaping hole I saw in the Pentagon every time I passed it on the interstate:

The fight against terrorism is never done.  Terrorists at home and terrorists in other countries, but we can do something to combat this evil.  We can use all diplomacy measures we have available, instead of rushing off to war like we're the world's policemen.  We can let the UN lead efforts to help in places like Syria, and take our lead from their suggestions, instead of the other way around.  I was happy to read, an hour ago that Obama wants to try his hand at diplomacy in Syria again.  After all, what's the point in getting involved in another country's Civil War?  And won't this bring more terrorists knocking on our front door? 
Just some thoughts on this 12th Anniversary of 9-11.  

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Who Needs Hair Anyway?

Alopecia areata is a funny little condition.  Being a bald woman elicits stares, questions, and concern for my health.  Overall there is nothing wrong with me health-wise.  My immune system, due to some trigger or some stress, just decided to attack my hair follicles, and now I'm bald.

These are the recent comments my family has received due to my baldness:

Hubby is at the grocery store with all the kids.  The cashier, full of concern says, "And how is your wife feeling? Is she doing OK?"

Hubby just says, "Yeah, she's great!  Thanks for asking." 

I was out of town recently, and my parents took the kids fishing.  There were two little kids there to play with the boys.

Number Two looks at the eight year old boy and says, "My Mommy is bald, did you know that?  My Mommy is bald!"

The 8 year old looks at Number Two with a scoff and says, "I'm not listening to a word you say."

Mostly my kids love the "awe" factor of having a mother without hair. 

Number One had a friend over, and I walked in wearing my baseball cap after a workout.  Number One says to me, "Mommy, take off your hat and show Max you're bald!" 

Nice way to put me on the spot, kid.

I don't mind being bald.  In so many ways it's easier than having hair.  My hair is only washed once a week, and then hung to dry.  It takes no time to get ready in the morning, because all I have to do is put the hair on and not waste any time on styling.  And on hot days, it's easy to make myself cooler by simply taking off my hair. 

The one thing I do miss is eyebrows.  I've been toying with the idea of having them tattooed on my face.  Not sure if I want to commit to that, and I haven't even started looking into prices yet.  But eyebrows round out your face.  They give a visual clue showing people where your face ends and your skull begins.  Without it, I sort of look alien! 

I hope perception of alopecia is changing. I hope people are becoming more aware of this condition, as it currently affects about 2% of the world's population.  In recent years, more research has been done and more attempts to spread the word about alopecia.  Because of its nature as a benign condition, funding is short and therefore a cure is still in the works.

Recently I've been reading Libra by Don DeLillo.  He describes David Ferrie, who was alleged to have been involved in the assassination of JFK.  Ferrie suffered from alopecia areata, as an adult. 

DeLillo states, "Ferrie suffered from a rare and horrific condition that had no cure.  His body was one hundred percent bald.  It looked like something pulled from the earth, a tuberous stem or fungus esteemed by gourmets." 

This description of someone with alopecia made me wince.  I almost want to write DeLillo and ask him why he chose to describe it this way.  Is it to make Ferrie out as a bad guy, some mutant?  I'm not far enough into the book yet to answer that question, but as a sufferer of alopecia I feel his description is harsh.

I'm pretty sure I don't look like some "tuberous stem," pulled from the ground.  I've accepted my
baldness, but still suffer when others feel the need to lower the self-esteem of people just because they're different.  And, I realize it's just a paragraph in a book, and I'm sensitive to it because I've suffered from this condition since I was a child, but I feel like his usage of words makes it seem like alopecia is akin to leprosy or something. 

I'll have to think longer about the eyebrows.  Would adding eyebrows to my face add or detract from the fact that I have no hair.  Do I even need them, or do I just want them because I haven't entirely accepted and become okay with the fact that I look different from everyone else?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Driven to Succeed

Every Friday night, like clockwork, I say this to Hubby:  Tomorrow I'm sleeping late.  You can wake up with the kids.

Every Saturday night, like clockwork, my biological clock wakes me up at 5:00 AM.  Seriously!  Can't I sleep later?

I did sleep like a log last night though.  I slept upstairs in the guest bedroom, because Darling Daughter wouldn't stay in her bed.  I had the fan going full blast in the small space, and I wrapped the blanket around my entire body as I love to do.  I fell asleep, and I didn't wake up once...until 5:00 AM.

That's okay though.  I have big plans for today, and I think it's always easier to execute your plans when you get an early start.  I'm so much more productive in the morning than any other part of the day.  By the afternoon, I'm a lazy lump on the log, and I usually have to force myself to go anywhere.  I'd rather be parked in our La-Z Boy, reading a book, or writing.

I'm going to use this extra time today to continue formatting my book.  This is actually a great practice in allowing me to fully edit the draft again.  It would have been nice to have the foresight to put chapter headings in the manuscript while I was writing, and who knows why I didn't, but I have learned from my mistake. 

Yesterday I finally created an author Facebook page.  Check it out at, and make sure to click the like button!  I thought this would be a great place to promote my blog, as well as my book--when it actually exist. 

I'm driving full speed towards e-publishing now, because it just seems like it's the place to go if you want to get your name out there at all.  Dead tree books, as some people like to call them, are becoming more obsolete, so online seems the way to go. 

There are some pros and cons to e-publishing.

Pro: Your name gets out into the writing world, well at least a little bit.  On my Query letters to "real agents," I can now saw I'm e-published.  I did it myself, well who cares, there's a finished product the agent can read to get a taste of whether or not she/he would like to take me on as a client.  She can also glance at the number of reviews and downloads to see how successful I've been. 

Con:  You're competing with so many other authors and also with a lot of junk.  Anyone can get e-published.  It seriously is as simple as pushing a button.  The key is making your book stand out in some way.  I'm doing this by having my talented artist of a brother do my cover.  I know he'll do a great job, and I'm hoping he will get some publicity from it too. 

Pro: Reviews.  E-Books are reviewed.  Now, I know not everyone reading my book will review it on Amazon when they download it, but hopefully most of my "friends" will.  Reviews help increase sales (if they're good).  They also show an author what he/she may be doing wrong or need to work on. 

Con: Marketing and advertising is all done by ME.  I have a full time job, a mom of 3, and I have to exercise and continue to write.  All of this before a 9:30 bedtime seems almost impossible, but it is a must if I want to be successful. 

Pro: Published is better than non-published any day.

My goal in life has been to become a published author, and I can make this happen.  So much about life is taking your inertia and pushing it towards a momentum of success.  Many people sit back and they wait for things to come to them.  They can wait all their life and nothing will happen.  In order to be successful, you must have drive, determination, and persistence.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

This File Cannot Be Found

I worked hard yesterday.  I finally started preparing to turn my first piece of completed work into an eBook.  I read about how to format the book.  I even started formatting the book.  I spent a good hour putting in headings, prettying up some language, and continuing to do some minor editing.  Then what happened?  Word crashed, and mysteriously my entire document disappeared!  YES--disappeared!!!  Thank God I have it saved in more than one place and on more than one computer plus a thumb drive, but I felt like I could vomit. I felt like yelling, but screaming at inanimate objects really does little to make you feel better: 

Formatting sucks worse than editing, and I wish I had put chapter headings into the novel when I was writing, but I didn't. Now I get to do it all over again: YIPPEE!!! I just wrote and wrote.  I have learned from this mistake, and I've been putting chapter headings in my current work. 

I just pulled up my document again, and I'm going to start formatting...AGAIN!  I looked all over, My Documents, my SkyDrive, every single place I had saved and the work I had done was nowhere, like it had never been done. POOF, vanished.  How does that even happen?  How does a computer consume your work? 

My computer gives me this cute little message when I try to pull it up from the location where I saved it: This file cannot be found.  Are you sure you didn't delete it or move it?  And of course, it's a rhetorical question, because it's not like you can answer your computer.  And if you did answer your computer, it's like it would be looking back at you and shrug, and say, "Well what am I supposed to do about it?"  So instead, you just have to click the gigantic X on the screen and then stare at the blank white screen and wonder where in the universe all your work went, and wishing you could have done something more productive in that hour of your life than formatting a piece of work that was intended to be swallowed into the great abyss of computer hell. 

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