Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

This morning, I woke up earlier than normal, which doesn't bode well for me since Santa Claus is coming tonight.  Every Christmas morning for the last few years, we've been taking a photo of the kids on the stairs.  My kids don't like pajamas, but I managed to have them wear PJs for all these photos. (Not sure why, as I would happily live in PJS if I could).  Anyway, here's the last couple of year's worth of pictures.

December 25, 2013

December 25, 2012

Darling Daughter was a latecomer and didn't get in on the stairs party in 2012

Christmas 2011

It's amazing to me to see how much they've grown over the years.  I think it's funny Number Two is wearing the same pajamas at 3 years old as he is at 5 years old.  That gives you a little perspective on how quickly my kids grow.  There's just something about Christmas. 

I love seeing their faces as they look at the gifts they received.  I love getting on the floor and playing with them.  I love putting together legos endlessly, and "Mommy, can you open this?"  I'm not sure we missed the mark this year on Number One though.  He is ten, and he's impossible to shop for.  He either wants expensive gifts, or tons of video games, or a Flash or Impulse costume. The costumes are hard to find (and expensive) in December.  I just hope he can be happy with what he receives, because that's what Christmas is all about, right? Joy and Love. The magic of giving to others.  

Tonight, Number One gets to be the stepfather of Jesus (his words) in a pageant at church, while Darling Daughter will be an angel.  Number Two had stage fright, and he refused to do it, even though there are no speaking parts.  

Tomorrow, we'll open presents, then cook a big dinner, then lie around exhausted!

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

What will you do in 2015?

2015 is knocking on our door.  Every year seems to move faster and faster.  I remember when I was little, and my parents used to say things like, "This year went by so fast," and I thought they were so ridiculous because the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like an eternity, and the time between New Year's and the summer seemed even longer.  Now, I get it. As your perception changes, life seems to move faster.  Only yesterday, I had one newborn son, and now I have three kids and the oldest is 10.  Time keeps moving, and you can't stop it no matter how hard you try.

Every year, I set out to make goals for the new year.  Sometimes, I manage to achieve these goals and other times the year flies by and I've done nothing (well not nothing, but just nothing in the way of achieving my goals).  This year, my goals are going to be mostly writing oriented, because at this point in my life it's the most important thing to me.  Plus, if I don't set the goals I'll never get anywhere.  You never know what you can achieve if you don't try.

Here are my goals for 2015:

  • In 2015, I will publish "No Turning Back."  I'm working, slowly, but surely on editing it right now.  I am also finding a cover, then I will format it for e-publishing.  I'll have a soft open and then a promotion period on Amazon.  Self-publishing is about a lot of self-marketing too.  So, I'll be on Twitter, Facebook, here (my blog), and Google+ doing giveaways.  Stay tuned for that, as well as some teasers from the book.  I'll be posting the first few chapters on #Wattpad the first week of January, then the book should be out on Amazon by mid-January 2015.  
  • Polish "The Devil Within," and re-write certain sections.  I'm releasing a chapter every three days of this book on #Wattpad.  You can read it here:
  • Finish my work-in-progress.  Find a suitable name. Edit. 
  • Query one agent a month 
  • Write at least 1,000 words a day.
  • Blog twice a week
And now for non-writing goals
  • Exercise at least three times a week
  • Read one book a month (I tend to put down books while I'm writing, and this is not good). 
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Start a professional blog. I'll keep this blog for personal blogging, but I'd like to separate out my writing blog. 
That's all folks!

Make sure to check me out on Facebook and on Twitter:

Check me out on Wattpad. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Practice Makes Permanent

I woke up super early this morning, because Number 2, my precious middle guy is sick. 102.5 fever and cough.  He must have come down with what his sister had last week.  This poor kid has missed out on Trick-or-Treating this year, a Pumpkin/Playground Field Trip and now his Christmas party at school.  I feel sorry for my sweet little guy.

I need to take a note from this kid in learning how to roll with the punches though.  He is so laid back.  He moaned for a minute, and he cried about not being able to go to his party, but then he was over it.  He deals with things as they come, and he has the sweetest disposition.  Love the kid.

Because of my 4:30 AM wake-up call, I finished a basic edit of Chapter 11 of "The Devil Within" and published it.  You can find that on #Wattpad.  I wrote about 2,000 words on my no-name WIP.  I needed to edit a little bit of "No Turning Back." I'm going through my feedback from my beta readers, and I'm trying to figure out what advice I need to take and leave.  I'm polishing, and then I'm going to self-publish in January.  I know I've said I would be self-publishing before, but this time I actually have a timeline and it will happen.  When you procrastinate, nothing happens. True story.

Then after I finished actually working on my writing, I played with Social Media for awhile.  I'm a little overwhelmed with all this social media.  I have accounts on Twitter, Google+, Facebook (of course), Instagram, and now Tsu. (I don't know how to make the special u that goes on Tsu).  Social media is the way for an indie writer to get noticed.  Twitter, I think, is one of the most important social media outlets, even though just a few months ago I thought Twitter was the stupidest thing that ever existed. I still don't "get" all the things I need to be doing.  It's a learning curve, for sure, and I spend so much time trying to keep up with all the tweets and retweets that I barely have time to write, or clean, or cook, or take care of kids.  Being an indie writer needs to be a full time job, but unfortunately for most indie writers it has to be done on the side. A second job, because that is what writing is to me.  It's not a hobby: it's a job.

I love writing. I want to do it for the rest of my life.  Self-promotion is hard.  Getting noticed is hard. Being published traditionally would be my dream, but in the meantime, I'll keep plugging on with what I have, and I'll try to keep promoting myself the way the rest of the indie writers do.  I heard the other day, instead of "practice makes perfect," which is not true, "practice makes permanent." And boy is that ever true.  I've put myself in a routine to write every morning, and now if I don't I feel like I'm missing a vital part of my life.

Now if I could only get everyone in my family well and make it to the gym.  That would be an accomplishment, for sure.

Check me out on Wattpad. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quit Misbehaving!

Characters have a funny way of misbehaving.  Yesterday, I couldn't get over how much I currently HATE my protagonist in my work in progress.  Thanks to my characters, my book took a turn I didn't expect, and I've been trying to dig them out of a hole ever since.  (Not literally--they are figuratively in a dark space--all of them).  At the beginning of this book, I disliked the male character, but now he's my favorite.  He's the most decisive.  He's the one taking action, while Eliza: well, she's just sitting around sucking her thumb and complaining.

And then when I was writing yesterday, a secondary character went ahead and told a secret that I was going to leak out several chapters later.  REALLY!  They are like disobedient children.  So, after that happened, I decided I needed a rough outline of the rest of my novel.  I jotted down some basic scenes, and how I envision the ending.  I know this will probably change, because characters have a way of changing and developing on their own. Plus, I'm not a plotter--never have been.

In my books, the characters always lead, weaving it from a basic idea into a complete story. Sometimes this is aggravating, because as you write things can change.  When I set out to write my current work in progress (no title yet--still working on that), I expected it to be rather different.  Now, I have four characters who are all involved with each other, a pregnant wife, and an object that has the potential to destroy one of the characters' lives.  I feel like it's turned into a soap opera.  But, I'll do what I do every time I finish a novel.  I'll set it aside for six weeks, and then I'll see if it's total crap.  When I read through it, I'll cut, edit, and it may end up changing again.  At that point, I won't be so attached to my characters and it will be easier to make the necessary changes.

As a writer, one becomes almost part of the book. When I'm writing, the words flow through me onto the paper, but it's almost like I'm on another level.  Sometimes I can't believe I've written as much as I have, because I almost feel like I'm not there while I'm writing.  A writer seeks to give her characters life, breath, to break them down, and then to build them back up again (unless she plans on killing them off).  And a good writer knows when to follow her characters' leads.

So I bet when you started reading this blog, you thought it would be about my three darling children. They never misbehave! HA! If you believe that, then I really am a good writer.

Check me out on Wattpad. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Have you ever had a moment of pure inspiration?  Yesterday, I did.  I was in Insanity at the YMCA, and these guys in the front were doing tucks, donkey kicks, and frog jumps almost up to the ceiling.  Meanwhile, I was in the back of the class, raising my knees up and down because anything that involves jumping makes me want to vomit. Well, watching them, I thought, "How hard can that be?"  They inspired me to try it, and when I did it HURT.  It was hard, not something that comes easily, but I was proud for having tried.  After all, if I hadn't tried I would never know if I could do it or not.

I don't know exactly when my moment of inspiration came for me, in regards to my writing.  I have been doing it since I was seven years old; jotting stories down on paper. When I was little, I was obsessed with the Civil War, with boy babies, and with triplets.  You can imagine how my stories read.  But even if something comes so easily for you, it doesn't mean it's easy to get where you want with it.  For the longest time, I wouldn't let anyone read my work. I had a phobia of criticism.  I still feel feel that way. I have this need to know whether the work is good or not, but I'm at the point where I know I need the criticism in order to make myself a better writer.  If my audience doesn't like something, then they may just stop reading, and I don't want that.

Yesterday, I was surfing the net, and I came across this article: 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author. I laughed as I read this, but part of it made me want to cry.  Writing stops at number 5 or 6, and the rest is about how to land an agent, how to edit, what to do with your work.  There is so much to do after the ink stops flowing, it can be overwhelming or it could be inspiring.  Okay, so maybe inspiring is taking it a little bit far.  I mean, "Can a rejection be inspiring?" It could, if it pushes you to send your work to 50 more agents until you finally get a yes.  It could if the agent writes you a personal note, inspiring you to keep writing, or to change it up, or to toss your current book and start on another.  Inspiration comes in the funniest of ways.

Until then, I'm going to keep editing, keep writing, and keep sending out to agents.  One day I'll be discovered if I'm persistent. I'll follow the rules above, and I'll keep reading and writing: making myself a better writer.

Check me out on Wattpad. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

That's A Wrap...Almost

So it's the last week of NaNoWriMo, and I still have a long way to go.  For those of you who don't know NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  I've never participated before, but having a self-imposed (or nationally imposed in this case) deadline can actually help the creative juices flow. I just guess I like to be on a really tight deadline.  One month is not enough, let's try to write 50,000 words in ten days.

The thing is, I've probably written more than 50,000 words this month, between blogging, re-writing my other novel, and then starting my new novel.  I'm at 25,000 words in the new novel, and I can't relate the topic on this site because it's R rated, or maybe even NC-17, okay, definitely NC-17.

I've also found during the writing process, I like to listen to the same song over and over again.  The song of choice depends on my mood, but for my current project about two couples who become entangled in a web of lies and deceit that song is Hurt by Nine Inch Nails.  Yes, I know a lot of you who actually know me are laughing now, because I'm so not a NIN fan, but there is just something about this song.  I love the Johnny Cash version of the song too. Plus, the words relate to what's going on in my novel.  I wonder if any other authors listen to songs on repeat, or am I just crazy?  Regardless, I can't get enough of this song right now, and I wonder if the angst of the lead singer is coming out in my novel. I sure hope so!

Enough of that. I'm releasing Chapter 4 of The Devil Within on Wattpad tonight.  If you haven't read it, then click on the link above to offer me your support.  Wattpad allows writers to publish their work in pieces for others to read free.  It's a great way to support fledgling authors, and for me I'm using it to, *hopefully*, build up an audience so when I release my e-book I at least have a few buyers.  You can sign-up for Wattpad, favorite and comment.  If you see any grammatical errors, please let me know. The Devil Within has not been edited by a professional, and I'm editing it as I go, but I don't always catch every little mistake.  Plus, it's a rough draft, so there will definitely be mistakes out there.

I feel like this week, I've really made writing a priority. I still find it a struggle to balance everything: life, kids, work, writing, and exercising.  When I'm writing I get so caught up in the world I've created that other things start to slide in level of importance, and I tend to feel guilty.  Last night, I made it a point to lay in bed with the kids and talk to them about their weekend.  I asked them what they were excited about in this upcoming week, and we had a nice chat.  I need to find the balance to be able to write every day without feeling like I need to sprint, so I have more quality time with the kids on the weekend when we're all home together.  I know this is something every author struggles with, especially at the beginning when you're having to, not only write, but market yourself and make a name for yourself so you can stand out from the millions of other aspiring artists.  I'll get there one day.

Until then...Dream Big!

Don't forget to follow me on:

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Devil Within

I published my second chapter of "The Devil Within" on Wattpad last night.  You may have missed it, because I published it around 7:30 PM.  Apparently the ideal time to publish items anywhere is closer to 10 PM.  I am not awake at 10 PM--hardly ever. I need to start making more use of my "schedule" button to keep up with all this social media!

I went out to Fiverr and Kelvin Tang made me this fantastic cover. Click below, and it will take you to Wattpad to read my story.

I didn't even know Fiverr existed, until Suzie Jay told me about the site.  She's another author trying to find a following, get discovered, whatever you want to call it (her blog is in my reading list below--check it out!).  I've found out this week that there are tons of us. I've been on twitter trying to promote myself, and there are tons of struggling wannabe authors.  It's no wonder the publishing houses are overwhelmed trying to pick through the slush piles.

I debated putting "The Devil Within" out there for anyone to read.  It's a hard read, psychologically, and I don't know how many people will like it because of that. The thing is, as an author, when I have an idea it just sort of flows from me.  The thoughts come quickly, and I have to get them down on paper.  The story sticks in your mind, and I almost become part of the virtual world I've created,  like I can feel and touch your characters.  I wrote the "Devil Within" in just a few days, because every time I would leave the book I would think about William, the main character, and how much he was hurting.  I couldn't leave him in anguish in one scene for long.  I had to come back and rescue him--with the stroke of a key!

That's what writing's like for me. There's a story, and I have to write it down.  Maybe that's why I have so many half finished stories.  The ideas come more quickly than I can finish them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Writing Routine

I don't have writer's block.  I never have.  I usually have too much to write about, so I start and stop. I write 20,000 words, then I scrap it and move onto the next project.  I've done this my whole life.  I'm currently editing and rewriting sections of "No Turning Back," before I self-publish it on Amazon.  I worked on rewriting two sections this weekend, but I always need a little bit of a break before I go back to read it and work on grammar, realistic dialogue, etc.  So, I decided in the interim I would work on one of my other stories in progress.

I had about three to pick from, and I picked one I had been working on which I think has a great beginning, middle, and end but may be slightly inappropriate.  It's a psychological thriller.  I don't know how to pick one genre and stick with it.  I'm all over the board!  I started writing, but the more I thought about it the more I felt like I didn't want to work on that particular story.  I seriously could sit down and finish it if I wanted to, but I can't submit it to Wattpad for a general read because of some of the less than saintly aspects of the book.  It's more of a work that needs to be self-published (or actually published by a publishing house if I could ever make it that far)!

So, instead I decided to work on a new novel. It's more women's fiction, but may lean towards romance. GASP!  That's so not me.  But it will probably get a load of follows on Wattpad, and right now I'm all about trying to build an audience for my writing-to-be.  It just takes a lot of work, and I feel like it's all I'm able to do. It's giving me less time to do what I actual want to do: write.  When you have three kids, a job, 5,000 activities, and you try to stay in shape your writing time is limited anyway.  It makes me wonder how anyone makes it.  Oh, and unfortunately, I'm not one of those insomniac writers. I'm one of those people who thrive on routine.  I wake up promptly at 5:15 every day, and I have to be in bed by 10 PM (usually before).  I thrive and feel the best on this routine, but I do wish I had more time to write.  I'm always counting the minutes in the morning, trying to figure out how much time I have before a child comes downstairs, or before I have to start the crockpot so we can actually eat at night.  Always too much to do.  But, I wouldn't give up any of it.  When you love to write, you fit it in where you can, and you find you are always coming up with ideas for new books.

I find my inspiration, mostly from dreams, random thoughts, other people's conversations: you name it!  It just comes to me, and then I feel this urge to write.  I hope that urge never goes away.

Follow me on Twitter @laurenegreene
Read "The Devil Within" on Wattpad: @LaurenGreene4.  Currently the 1st Chapter is up, and the 2nd Chapter will be released tomorrow, 11/19/14!!!
Check out my Facebook Writer's Page:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

To Pen or Not to Pen?

I had a productive week.  I did my first beta read for another aspiring author, and I found I really enjoyed the process of reading someone else's work and sharing my input. I do worry about hurting feelings, as I've always had a hard time with criticism, but at some point you do have to move on from that, and learn how to accept constructive criticism.  Otherwise, you'll never get better as a writer or fill in the blank____________, whatever you want to achieve.

Now that I'm done beta reading, I'm turning my attention back to my work.  I received input from two betas on my work, and they both liked it! YAY!  They had suggestions, and so I'm going to work on rewriting the first couple of chapters, working on a few minor errors, and then I'm going to send it out for more beta readers.  My goal is to publish it, even if it is self publishing, by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

Speaking of that: Follow Me!  I'm on twitter: @laurenegreene, and I'm going to start actually taking advantage of my twitter account, my Google+ accounts, and my Facebook accounts and using them as a way to market my material.  Since, I'm going to self publish I will need to market myself.  I still don't get twitter.  Does anyone understand this?  I'm going to have to have my teenage nieces and nephews show me what you do, and what the hashtags are for.  Apparently, I'm not with the times, but I know you need social media to market yourself as a writer in this world.  Technology is such a huge part of life these days: there's no use fighting it!

Speaking of writing: pen name or no?  I'm debating staying with my regular name, or going to my pen name Ellie Greene.  I have a writer's page for my pen name, but my twitter account is my name. I like Ellie Greene, because it's a play on my name, but I like my name too,'s my name!

Who would have thought there are so many details when you're trying to get published?  I have been out to Amazon and read several books on there, and there are people who have not even edited their material. I can't imagine that, because I've been working on my book for two years. I feel like I have poured so much of myself into this project. In an ideal world, one of my queries would land me a real life publishing package, and I wouldn't have to self-publish, market myself, and try to add more hours to a day that I know is only going to last 24!  In an ideal world, I'd also immediately land a movie deal and instantly be a millionaire.  One can dream, right?

But it feels good to live your dreams.  It feels good when I write.  Even if no one is going to read it, and even if it's a huge flop, it's what I love to do and that makes all the work worth it.  I would love to get to the point where my work does well.  I'd love to self-publish one book after another and make my living through the written words.  In the meantime, I'll take doing it part time.  I'll use my hour in the morning to edit my work, to blog, and to research how to become a successful writer.  I'll use my hour at night to read, so I can get better and better at the art of writing.  And maybe one day, I'll make a name for myself.  Until then, I'll be content with what I have and with the simple fact that I can write when I want to and do what I love, and no one can take that away from me.

*Follow me on twitter @laurenegreene and like my Facebook page: -- Have your friends and family follow me too!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Two Whole Hands

This week, Number One turned two whole hands!

A few years ago, okay, FIVE years ago, he was so excited to be turning, "one whole hand!"  I remember telling a co-worker, and we laughed and laughed about here, and here we are, and he's already ten.  It's hard to believe.  He's grown so much into himself, and so many of the issues of the previous years are resolving themselves as he gets older, which is a blessing to us in so many ways.

Excuse Number One's face!  He had just finished his Veteran's Day performance, and he was tired of standing.

As a parent, it's hard to express how much you love your children.  To the moon and back is never far enough.  Parenting is one of the most frustrating, heartbreaking jobs, but it's amazing to see your children grow and develop, and it is so rewarding when you see them achieving their dreams.

Speaking of dreams, I'm back to working on mine.  I pulled up my novel, previously Semi-Detached, now named No Turning Back, and I requested beta readers through Goodreads.  I received feedback from two people, and they both liked the story.  They gave me pointers on some things I can change to make it better, and mostly I agree with what they said.  It was nice to have unbiased feedback, and positive feedback from people I don't know!  It makes me feel like maybe I can actually get somewhere as a writer, if I keep putting the effort and the time into it. I just wish there were about seven more hours in the day.  There never seems to be enough time.  

In other news, the gods of unfairness are playing against me when it comes to my alopecia areata. About a month ago, I noticed I have a few strands of eyebrow hair.  They are still there: I can feel them.  Well maybe a week go, my underarms started itching, and I noticed today I'm growing a little underarm hair.  Um--can someone just transfer that to my head?  Who wants underarm hair, really?  I said in my mind what my Mom said to me, and what every one's parents said to them in a little cliche voice, "Life is not fair."  I wished for hair, and it popped up in a place where I'm going to shave it off.  Maybe I'll just let it grow long, and move to a commune or something.  Or I could be in the circus, "The Bald Woman with Underarm Hair Down to Her Toes."  Great fodder for a novel.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Deep Thoughts: Yoga and Happiness

Today I went to yoga.  I have slowly started incorporating it into my life again.  The last time I went I was 21 years old, six months from graduating from college, and experiencing great turmoil with all the change taking place in my life.  This time, I'm going to do something for me, something to help make me happy and relaxed.  

I've been thinking of happiness this week, and when I'm in yoga those thoughts spring up too: how to be happy.  I'm finding happiness in my life in unexpected ways: by making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, by setting writing goals AGAIN, and by trying to find contentment and purpose in my every day existence.  I feel so much of life slips away from us while we're staring at our cell phone screen.  So much time simply flies by because we get caught up in trivial problems, and we let them overtake us.  Sometimes we don't meet our true potential, because we are scared of achievement, of putting ourselves out there, and of just doing what we know would truly bring us the greatest happiness and sense of purpose. We are paralyzed by a sense of powerlessness, even though we all have with in us an ability to change our own outcome for the better.  

During yoga, I concentrate on my breathing: in and out, in and out.  I listen to the rhythm my breath makes.  I try to concentrate on the breath, and I usually see it as colors: inhale/red, exhale/blue.  My mind feels free and the tension washes away.  Afterwards, I feel utterly calm and happy.  When my usual smile stretches across my face it feels genuine; it's not just a mask for other hidden feelings.  Wouldn't it be amazing to feel that way every day?  
But, as I read in an article earlier this week, happiness is fleeting and it's meant to be that way.  Humans have an intense want to make temporary things permanent.  They catch onto a feeling that made them feel so wonderful, and they want to feel it over and over again, instead of experiencing it and then letting it go, enjoying the memory, but not wanting to re-live the same moment indefinitely.   

The other day at the dinner table, Number One and I were talking about this, and I said, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you only felt joy?"  

And he said, wise beyond his nine years, "But Mom, then you wouldn't know what it was because you'd never have felt sorrow."  

And he's so right.  Without sorrow, would joyfulness be less joyful?  Would joy even exist?  

Sometimes after Shavasana, instead of feeling intensely happy, I feel an intense need to cry. I think this is from releasing into the meditation, from letting things go, the need to cry is a physical manifestation of the tension melting away.  Sorrow and happiness all melted into one, like a littmus lozenge (from Because of Winn Dixie).  The feeling is bitter sweet, the letting go of things you carry is hard, because sometimes as you let go you feel like you've lost a part of yourself.  

I believe the key to happiness is living in the moment.  Not looking to the past.  Not looking to the future, but simply being aware of your emotions, being aware of yourself, and living your life in a way that you can accept what has happened, what will happen, and being aware of the inability to change what you can't control.  Setting goals, and realizing you dictate your own future, can help too.  So many people wallow in their sorrow.  They don't find a way to dig out.  They aren't aware of the power inside of them to reach their goals and to live a life that will make them happy.  I, myself, am guilty of this: wondering why I can't get where I want to, but often not taking the action to make a positive change.  Without action, no change can occur: negative or positive.  Why not take the risk?  Without the risk, there can be no chance of failure, but there's also no chance of success.

Find something that makes you happy: be it yoga, reading, Zumba, talking to a friend for hours on the phone, or chasing after your giggling children, who live for today, and don't think about what tomorrow will bring.  Fleeting moments in time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Morning Getaway

It's 6:15 in the morning, and instead of trying to read The Fountainhead or packing, I'm typing on my computer.  I'm making a concerted effort to write every day again, even if it is just blogging.  Writing every day is harder than you think, when you have a full time job, three little ones running around, and a plethora of activities where they need to be dropped off.  I wouldn't say I'm lying if I said I feel like a chauffeur most days.  I think all Moms feel that way on occasion. 

Tomorrow I'm going to the beach with this little goober:

She is all legs, and this photo disturbs me a little bit because I can see some of her 16 year old self here.  She is growing up, my baby. 
I took this photo with my Canon Powershot A2500.  I guess it's a good camera.  I had a wonderful, amazing, big semi-SLR Sony camera for years, until it broke.  It wasn't worth fixing.  I had already sunk $100 into it once before, and doing it again would be worthless when I could buy a comparable camera for $400.  I just miss it.  The quality of photos was amazing.  The video function on the camera was awesome, and I didn't get mediocre quality.  Now I resort to using my iPhone camera almost as much as this little Canon.  And we all know what the resolution is on an iPhone camera: sucky.  But there are some benefits.  I don't mind handing the Canon over to my kids, and I get real beauties when I do, like this modern piece of art entitled Apple on a Cluttered Counter:

I think this piece says a lot about our lives.  Number One took this photo, and I've increasingly let him borrow my camera to take more and more photos, because honestly I don't care if he breaks it.  I would never have let him touch my Sony, but Canon, I mean PowerShot: he can take all the photos he wants with it!  It's like a little peek into how he sees the world. 
Now I have to go get ready for the day.  I still need to pack the car up.  Tonight the boys have Trunk or Treat, and tomorrow Darling Daughter and I are getting on the road at 5 AM.  But first I have to go to work, go to Yoga, and take Number Two to a soccer game.  It never seems to stop. 
I can't wait to sit on the porch at the beach with my Mom with a glass of wine and let the sea salt air sink into my pores.  I can't wait to hear the waves crashing and to let the rush of life slip away just for a few days.  It's all worth it. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Living Lessons: Change and Growth

I just love it when my body wakes me up at 4:30 AM.  (That's sarcasm, in case you didn't catch on.  I know it's harder to get when you're reading).  Oh well, since I'm a glass half full type of person I'll make the best of it.  I have things to do this morning, like write random blogs, and iron shirts for picture day.  Can I just say: I HATE ironing.  When I iron, it still looks like the clothes were left crinkled up at the bottom of the laundry basket for day (a little secret: they were at one point).  I can't make the clothes look flat and non-wrinkly. I don't use starch.  I think I would be a mega-fail if it were still the 1950's.  But guess what? It's not, and I'm not a housewife.  I have a career.  I have three kids.  I have my own social life.  I exercise.  I couldn't fit much more into my days if I tried and how well I iron is not going to determine my worth!

Speaking of three kids.  We were up until almost 9 finishing homework last night with Number One.  Homework battles are out the window (thank goodness!), and he's finally "getting" the math problems, showing his work and doing it well.  But first we had cross country, then dinner, and by that time it was already 7:30  He worked diligently on his homework while waiting for dinner, but after dinner it took awhile for him to solve all the problems, show his work and explain it to me. We're getting there though.  Math has been hard for him this year, but last night I was super proud of him because he worked hard and didn't get frustrated.  If you know Number One personally, you know this is a major achievement.  Sometimes frustration can shut us all down, and once it's taken over it's hard not to let it overtake you. 

But I really wanted to post about CHANGE today.  This morning, as I lay awake in bed with the cogs in my head spinning out of control, I thought about CHANGE.  Change is such a scary word for some people.  My life has had a lot of change.  There have been ups and downs and go with the flows.  There have been some days I have felt I could barely move on.  Life is HARD people.  Life changes ALL.THE.TIME.

Here's what I've learned: accept change, but don't try to change others.  As I was thinking this morning about change, I thought about what a friend told me recently, "People don't change."  I don't think this is true, or maybe a better phrase is: I don't think this is entirely true.   I think people are dynamic.  I think they can look at themselves and make positive changes for themselves.  I don't think they can change for others, nor do I think they should.  I think they can only change if they really want to change.  But I'm not even sure "change" is the correct word here.  Maybe the word is grow or evolve or that self-helpy word: self awareness.  We grow into ourselves as children, feeling out the world around us and figuring out our place.  We grow into ourselves as adults, as parents, as empty nesters, and finally as elderly people.  The world around us changes.  Everything happens for a season, and then suddenly we are amidst new surroundings, new people, new thought processes, new technologies, and a new way of living our lives.

Look at your life 10 years ago and tell me if it looks the same?  Do you still hang out with the people you did 10 years ago?  Probably not.  Do you still enjoy the same activities? Probably not.  Did you have an iPhone 10 years ago? DEFINITELY NOT! 

Change is inevitable, even though for some it's scary.  Forcing change on others is a no-no (man this sentence really makes me feel like a toddler mom, sorry folks).  And I'll give you an example, even though it's not life altering or anything.  For years, I've bitten my nails.  NO--that's an understatement.  Since I've had teeth I've bitten my nails.  I can remember riding in my Mom's green Town-and-Country in high school, and she'd slap my hand, "Get those nails out of your mouth, Lauren!"  It only made me want to bite them more.  Strangers would tell me to stop biting my nails.  And recently a co-worker told me to stop biting my nails.  I looked at her and I said, "Why worry about something you can't change?"  This has been my mantra lately, and it has allowed me to look at my life and let things go.  It's made me realize that if you're so caught up on trying to change other people, then you're missing the point and you're not looking at the one person you can change: YOURSELF.  It took me a long time to realize, and I went about things incorrectly for a long time: criticizing, judging, and trying to change other people when I should have just been looking more closely at myself to see how I could incorporate more grace and understanding into my life.  This is something I'll probably be working on until the end of my days.  For now, I'll simply say the only person I'm going to ask to change from now on is myself.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kids Say Funny Shit!

We went over to my parents’ house a week ago Saturday, to have one last swim before the cold sets in (which may be soon or may be two months from now).  Plus, they’re closing the pool so they can go gallivant elsewhere!  Last Hoorah!

 When I arrived, my Mom was obsessed with “Untold Stories of the ER.”  She said she’d been watching it all day.  I wanted to go swimming, but I need a cup of coffee because I was tired that day, and the next, and then the boys came down with strep, so yeah, I was fighting off something.  
We all sat around and watched “Untold Stories of the ER.”  Then we put on swimsuits, went swimming, and enjoyed a glass of wine each and chatted about family and ancient history.  Don’t worry Mom, I won’t spread any of your stories for the Internet world to read!

We went on about our business for the rest of the weekend.

So imagine my surprise on Monday. 

We’re driving to school and listening to MY FAVORITE: Raffi.  In between “If You’re Happy and You know It Clap Your Hands,” and “Baby Beluga,” Darling Daughter blurts out, “MOM—remember this weekend on the TV.  That girl had a worm crawling out of her butt!” 

I laughed so hard, I almost ran into the car in front of me.  She has mentioned this about fifteen times since.  Apparently, Untold Stories of the ER made a huge impression on her.

This morning she says, “Why was there a crowbar on the ground, and how did that guy get it into his head?’ 

 I said, “Darling Daughter, do you want to be a doctor when you grow up?”

“No thanks,” she said. “I’ll be a mom.” 

There are worst aspirations!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

All About That Bass

If you haven't heard the song, All About That Bass, by Meghan Trainor, then maybe you live under the rock, or you have kids who don't listen to Pop, or you don't attend Zumba class like a fiend the way I do! 

Anyway, here's the link to the YouTube video:

You need to watch this video.  And after you watch this video you need to share it with your sisters, your moms, your daughters, your granddaughters.  You need to share it with every woman you know, because this song, with its catchy tune, and its poppy lyrics, has such a great meaning.  This song is about accepting yourself, accepting your body and realizing that the idea that "perfect" is a size 2 is absurd. 

I think my favorite line in this song besides, "I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places," is when she sings, "I'm bringing booty back."

Girls, I've been bringing booty back for years!  Without my booty, I wouldn't look like such a hot mess when I Zumba. 

Be proud of your bodies.  Live healthy.  Exercise, eat right, but don't think that being skinny is the goal.  It should not be.  Every one's bodies are built differently.  I happen to have a skinny top, wide hips, and a big booty.  I've struggled with my weight for years.  I've struggled to lose weight, and to fit into the "ideal" beauty mold.  I've struggled with self image, just like every other woman on this earth (even the size 2s)!  Well let me tell you something, there's no such thing as an ideal beauty.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Being confident in who you are and how you look is the most important thing.  I've struggled with this, not only with my body image, but also from losing my hair.  And I realized that I'm a beautiful person, and I'm proud of my body, because I know it's strong and I know it's toned. 

Teach your girls to embrace their bodies, no matter what size they are.  Teach them self-love.  Teach them that models and Barbie dolls are "fantasy" and not "reality."  Teach them that they are beautiful just the way they are.  Teach them that it's about inside and out, and give them strength to deal with anyone who tells them differently. 

Accept yourself for who you are.  Accept your body.  Accept your bald head, your pointy elbows, or any other flaw you think you have on your body.  Chances are, what you think are flaws in your body are actually the things that make you the most beautiful. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cats and Dogs

About a year ago, we got a dog. 

This dog:

He doesn't normally look squinty eyed--that's from the flash.  He's a mutt.  Jack Russell mixed with something, that we increasingly think includes wiener dog, because he is so long!  I've never really been a dog person.  I've always thought of myself as a cat person.  We had cats growing up, and they are easy.  They are independent, take care of themselves, love-one-person kind of pets. 
But this dog.  I am in love with this dog.  He is so funny.  He will go run in circles around the backyard.  He greets every kid when they wake up in the morning.  He'll lay his head on my lap, and he'll lick the heck out of my fingers.  This dog is special.  I bet thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people say that about their very-special dog every day!
Every morning when I get up, I let the cat in for water.
This cat, who I've had since college, and who after walking to Silver Spring from Gaithersburg came back to me, and now I feel like he'll live forever:

Ritz is 14.  He's my first baby.  That growth on his eye has been there the last few years, and the vet says it won't hurt him.  He had to be put outside, because Number Two is highly allergic to cats.  Poor Ritz. 

I digress.  Every morning, I let this cat in to get some food out of the garage.  He stands and eats it out of the bag, because he cannot wait for me to put a dish with water outside.  Also there's some freaking large rodent outside that is continually eating his food.  Ritz has killed several of these things, but they keep coming back! 

Every morning Skippy follows me to the door.  Every morning I tell Skippy to wait and to stay. Skippy obediently sits.  Skippy stays, for about a millisecond, and then as soon as the cat is in, he chases him, shoving his nose up the cat's butt and trying to get the cat.

Ritz takes all of this in stride, pretty much, turning and usually bopping Skippy on the face.

This morning, as I let the cat in, I readied myself for the usual shuffle of claws against hard woods. Of Skippy chasing the cat as if his life depended on it! Skippy ran up to Ritz, and shoved his nose in his butt, and Ritz looked up at me with these eyes that seemed to say to me, "Really?  Do I have to tolerate this?"

I looked down at Skippy, and I said, "Cats don't really like their butts sniffed."

Things you never think you'll say in your life. 

Skippy put his head toward the floor and bowed down, looking up with me with eyes that seemed to say, "I know I was supposed to stay, but I just can't help it!" 

Man...pets...hours of entertainment!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bald Boogie! Boogie for NAAF!!! #NAAFboogie

First day back on the blog, and I'm asking for money.  Yeah--I know. 

Check out the link below!  I'm fundraising for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF).  This cause is close to my heart, as I have had alopecia since I was 5 years old.  I've struggled with self esteem and self acceptance my whole life due to the loss of my hair. 

When all my hair fell out 3 years ago, I looked in the mirror and could not believe I was bald.  I didn't want to go out and face the world.  I didn't want people staring at me.  As hard as it was for me to accept as an adult, you cannot imagine how much harder it is for a child who doesn't have the words or emotional resources to deal with this disease.  From bullying by others to bullying of oneself for not fitting into the society's mold of "ideal beauty,"  this disease can have a huge emotional and psychological impact.

If you have it in your heart, click the link below and donate to NAAF.  Maybe together we can find a cure.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Weight Loss Tips #19: Don't Stop Moving

First off, I need to apologize for my blog sabbatical.  I was horrendously busy at the end of the school year, and since then I've been walking every morning and reading every night or gymming it.  I've had little time to sit down and blog.  I miss writing when I don't make it part of my life though, so here I am: back!

Weight loss is indeed a simple formula.  Expend more calories than you consume, and you will lose weight.  There are all sorts of people out there touting some miracle way to have the pounds float away: drink cabbage soup for a week, eat only carbs, eat no carbs; but the truth is the way to lose weight and to be more healthy is to eat less and to MOVE MORE

I love to be lazy.  I love to sit around and do nothing, especially after a long day at work or a long night up with a toddler who won't sleep, but I really do think the key to long term and long lasting weight loss (think keeping it off forever) is moving as much as you can. 

We spend a lot of time sitting.  If you have a desk job, then you're not moving much unless you make yourself.  If you're just starting this movement thing, then there's no need to jump into going to the gym five days a week unless you really want to.  You just need to start trying to walk 10,000 steps a day.  You can track steps by using a pedometer or a fitness tracker. 

I have the UP24. 

This little band goes on your wrist, and tracks your life.  The compatible app tracks your steps, and it tells you how many resting calories you're burning and how many active calories.  It tells you the most active you've been during the day, the most idle, and whether or not you've reached your goal. It tracks your weekly trends of movement and sleep.  The app also gives you advice and tells you interesting facts.  It will set goals based on your recent movement (or lack thereof).  It links up to other apps: Myfitnesspal and Mapmyfitness among others. 
When I started, I was amazed by my non-workout days.  I was generally moving less than 10,000 steps.  It led me to change little things about my life.  I started trying to take Skippy for a walk every morning to increase my steps.  I started parking at the far end of the parking lot.  I made an effort to get up every thirty minutes and walk around.  I noticed when I started moving more I started feeling better.  I slept better, and the weight started coming off more quickly, because I was expending those calories I was taking in.
Once you start moving more, you can make it a lifestyle change.  Similar to reducing portion size, increasing movement will lead to weight loss and better health overall.  I've replaced mornings of sitting with coffee and surfing the Internet to mornings soaking in the sunrise, communing with nature, and increasing my activity!  It's funny how after only three weeks, I feel like it's a way of life.  It's easy to make changes if you do it and you stick to it!  Make it a life long habit. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Darling Daughter Turns 4!!!

Today is Little Bit/Shoo Shoo/Darling Daughter's birthday.  She is four.  I can't believe how fast time has gone by.  I feel like only yesterday, I was holding her sweet newborn body in my arms.  I stared down at the lump of baby in my arms and looked into her blue eyes, and I could not for the life of me believe she was a girl! 

When I found out I was pregnant with Darling Daughter, I had mixed emotions.  Three children seemed like an awful lot.  I finally got used to the idea though.  On the day of my ultrasound, my Mom and Hubby met me at the doctor's office.  We had to wait and wait, because they were super busy. 

Mom said, "Now, Lauren--I don't want you to get upset if it's another boy.  Do you have any boy names picked out?"

"I know, Mom," I said.  "I'm fully expecting it to be another boy."

We were ushered into the back, cool little room.  The ultrasound tech went through measuring all the bones: the skull, the femur, etc. 

"Do you want to know what it is?" she asked.

We nodded, and she looked. She slowly but deliberately typed out: IT'S A GIRL across the screen!

My Mom and I both started crying and hugging each other.  I love my boys, but there's nothing like having a daughter.  My Mom and I are so close to one another, and I wanted a daughter I could share that bond with.  It was like a dream coming true. 

Darling Daughter was born on May 21st at 12:15 PM.  She was a content little thing, and so sweet!

Babies are like little lumps who can't do anything.  Your goal in life is to shape them and help them make the right decisions: give them the tools they need to succeed.  When I held Darling Daughter in my arms, I could see how sweet and special she was.  (So could everyone else, and that's why her nickname now is Spoiled Rotten!!!)  It was so funny putting dresses on her at first, and it seriously took me a month to get used to dressing her in girly clothes.  I'm all for gender equality, but after having two boys, I wanted dresses, frills, pink and bows. 
Darling Daughter has grown so quickly.  From her 1st birthday where she cried and only perked up when she saw the cake and opened a few of her presents. 
After that birthday, she developed an intense stranger anxiety.  The only people she was not afraid of were me, Big Mommy and Big Daddy.  She didn't even want to be around Hubby.  I can tell you--there were many days when I had trouble with this cling on. She would hold me, as if I was going to walk out the door forever.  We did Baby Gym, and she could not stand it when Coach Ken would get to close to her.  After three months of screaming through it--I decided we would just wait.  Stranger anxiety had to end at some point, right?
And it did.  By about 2.5, she was everyone's best friend.  We switched daycares, and I saw her become another person. She opened up.  She was bright and bubbly.  She also got the tubes she badly needed, and the quiet child I once had became an incessant talker (just like her Mommy). 
And now year three has come and gone in a flash.  This year Darling Daughter became so independent.  She loves her babies, and she often creates elaborate stories with them.  She uses her imagination all the time, and she walks around the house belting out songs.  She acts like a little Mommy to the boys (who despise it)!  She also likes to put on my high heels and say, "Now I'm the Mom."  She is stubborn, and if she ask for something and you say no, she'll keep asking hundred times until, exasperated, you have to walk away!  She loves princesses.  She loves Frozen.  She sings, "Let it Go," about a million times a day--almost as many times as we've watched the movie!  She can also keep up with the boys!  You'll often find her pedaling the spin bike right behind her brothers, flip flops on, and dress blowing in the wind!  How I love this sweet FOUR year old girl! 
Forever and always, my baby. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

Hot Running is Not Nearly as Fun as Hot Yoga

I went for a hot, muggy run this morning.  As I started out, I thought it's 5 AM there is no way the air can already be this muggy. But, yes, it was.  With every breath I took, I felt like I was gulping a gallon of water into my lungs.  Painful and not fun.  I did 2.00 miles, but in 27 minutes 14 seconds, because I kept stopping to walk.  Now I remember why I stopped running last summer, oh, besides the stress fracture.

Speaking of injuries, my leg is about 50,000 times better.  And my hip.  I've been working out five times a week, and I've been doing weights, and I think I finally developed the strength in the muscles to work out the pain in both places. 

With my hip, I couldn't even do criss-cross apple sauce for about three months, but I diligently did some exercises I found online and I did the hip abductor and abduction machine at the gym.  Totally fixed the problem.

I love exercise.  Seriously, what better thing can you do for your body and your mind?  I always find when I start exercising my mood increases. I'm nicer.  I'm less stressed. 

And speaking of less stress, I'm reading an excellent book for my book club right now: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story.  Forgive the long title, but seriously, this is what the book is all about.  Dan Harris, a correspondent for ABC news, went on a little journey of self-discovery in this book which is autobiographical, but also teaches you how to manage the negative thoughts in your head.  The first page, he says "I initially wanted to call this book The Voice in My Head Is an Asshole."  How many people can relate to their inner asshole? 

Seriously, when I run my voice is such a jerk.  The voice in my head tells me I can't do it, it' too hot, I don't want to go any further.  Am I the only one who has the voice of a four year old whiny child?  It's as if we grow up, but the voices in our head stay small immature children.  They're narcissistic, selfish, one sided voices, who usually seem hell bent on destroying every aspiration you have.  I'm not huge into self-help, and so I really didn't think I would like this book, but Harris finds peace through meditation and being mindful of his thoughts without being obsessive.  I think that's something we could all stand to do.  Be mindful of our thoughts, be mindful of our reactions to others, and be mindful that we never ever know what someone else is feeling, thinking, or how they might react.  After all, they probably have an asshole in their head dictating their life too. 

So today when I was running, and the voice would tell me to stop running, I kept running.  I told the voice, "Ok--that's a nice thought, but I'm going to at least run to that stop sign before I fall over wheezing and die."  I fought against the voice, and I was mindful those thoughts were there, but I didn't let myself associate with the thoughts.  Hard to do for someone like me who is constantly living in their head!  But a good exercise in controlling myself and using the power of mindfulness!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Moment of Meditation

I took an unintended blog break last week.  Work was crazy, the weekend was crazier, and our internet went down some time between Saturday and Sunday and didn't come back up until last night.  By that time, I was nestled on the couch catching up on Game of Thrones--and don't worry if you haven't watched it yet--I'm not one to hand out spoilers. 

Yesterday morning started at 3:00 when Number Two woke up screaming his head hurt.  I worried it was an aneurism or something because he was in so much pain, but alas it was an ear infection. Now just because you really want to know, I'll tell you he has brownish red goopy stuff draining out of his ear and a nice fever too.  So I stayed home with him yesterday, took him to the doctor, and did a bunch of sitting around.  I read almost a whole book.  I didn't have internet, so I needed to find something to do while he slept and watched hours and hours of cartoons. 

This morning, I woke up early and went for a run.  I saw the sun rise as I was running, and it made me smile in awe.  How often do we stop and just look at the natural beauty around us.  (Ok--I didn't stop, because I was running, but I took it all in).  I was there in the moment, soaking it all in without the distraction of kids, noise, technology, you name it.  We have all but abandoned the idle time of stopping and smelling the flowers, but idle time is necessary for us to de-stress.  Idle time is necessary for our creative juices to flow.  Absorbing nature, the sunset, the sunrise, and just being in the moment is so important for us.  I've been trying to take a moment out of every day to just breath.  To do absolutely nothing.  Maybe this is what people get from meditation, which I still haven't mastered, but I understand the feeling of calm that comes with the moment of realizing you're alive and you're watching a beautiful sunrise and you have absolutely nothing else better to do at that moment because you just ARE.  Amazing. 

Tomorrow I intend to go to the gym, but before I go I'll open my door and stick my head outside.  I'll hear the early morning chirps of the birds as they're waking up or waiting for their Momma birds to bring them worms.  The coyotes howling in the distance and the cows lowing in the field behind my neighborhood, plus the smell of a dew-covered grass about to wake to the dull morning light. A moment of meditation. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weight Loss Tips #18: Be Your Own Cheerleader!

Yesterday, I ran the 2014 Walk of Life with some of my co-workers.  I ran it last year too.  Last year, I was in way better shape than I am this year, and I also had been running a lot prior to the race.  I had a stress fracture in my leg though and after the race I had to take some time off from running.  Part of me wanted to just stop running completely. 

I wanted to run the Walk of Life in 40 minutes or less.  The course was 3.25 miles long (so a bit longer than a 5K), and I completed it in 42 minutes 14 seconds.  I was bummed.  I was bummed I didn't reach my goal. I was bummed I walked part of the way.  I was bummed I didn't beat my time from last year (36 minutes), even though that wasn't my goal to begin with. 

And then I realized while I was beating myself up that I accomplished my goal of finishing the 5K.  I ran a large part of it, and I can train to beat my time next year. I can run more 5Ks for great causes and improve my time as I go.  Everyone around me was telling me what a great job I did, and all I was doing was making myself feel bad. 

Two words: STOP IT! 

Be your own cheerleader in order to go further, to lose weight, to run harder, and you will do better and feel better about it!  Similar to a positive thinking mentality.  Sometimes thinking negatively is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

I think this is why so many people stop trying to win the battle of obesity and stop trying to lose weight when they have ONE bad day.  They beat themselves up!  Instead of telling yourself you can't lose those 5 pounds, start telling yourself you can.  Praise yourself when you lose 1 pound.  Pat yourself on your back when you run 1 mile, or heck, even a 1/2 mile!  All of these are accomplishments worth being proud of because they lead you to your ultimate goals.  Be your own biggest cheerleader and the weight will come off.  Revel in how you have taken control of your life and keep up the momentum by praising your own efforts.  Listen to people when they tell you you're doing a great job, because chances are they're telling you the truth.  Stop the negative thinking!

Here are a few people who have motivated me lately:
  • Listening to Other People's Stories: My sisters and the guy at Chappy's.  These people had some great advice for me on how to lose weight, how to keep going, and how to think positively while doing it. 
  • My friend Miranda Grace: She and I are taking this journey together.  It helps to have someone who can ground you.  She and I motivate each other, we hold each other accountable to exercising and eating right.  We compare food diaries on MFP.
  • My friend SB: He likes to say things like, you can run a half-marathon with me in October.  HA!  But seriously, having another person who THINKS you can achieve something that wild and crazy is motivating.
  • Seeing Other People Who've Been Through the Same Struggle: I love seeing people who've been in the same boat as me, who have struggled for so many years and have achieved their goals!  It's amazing, and it makes me want to get there again and keep it off for good!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Write, Run, Repeat

I’ve been MIA this past week because I had a lot going on. 

1)      My sisters came in town from their respective states, and I was surrounded by family: nieces, nephews, brother, sisters, kids, parents. We had a wonderful time, and I always feel like I fall into a bit of a funk when they leave.  The same feeling when you come back from your vacation, and you realize you actually have to live a productive life, instead of just sitting on the beach all day drinking and soaking in the sun.  Yeah, that feeling.  Bummer. 

2)      I’ve been exercising every morning.  Specifically, I’ve been running.  I am so SLOW.  Terrapin slow.  And I crap out around 2 miles.  But I’m making progress.  I have a 5K tomorrow for Walk of Life, and I’m hoping to run the whole 3.18 miles, but I haven’t done it in the last four weeks.  I printed off the map, and I’m going to MAPMYRUN tonight.  My team captain brought me the t-shirt, and its way cuter than last year.  Also it has a chip timer, like last year.  My time last year was 37 minutes or so.  This year I just want to finish in under 40.  I’ve been running consistently 13 minute miles.  (See—I said I was slow).  I can run 11 minute miles too, and I can run faster than that too, but I’m not thinking I will.  I want to focus on my breathing and pacing—focus on the uphill—and just get done with the whole race. 

3)      I’ve been reading.  I just finished My Reading Life by Pat Conroy.  Underlining book titles reminds me of high school so much!  Anyway, My Reading Life is about books Mr. Conroy read that touched him and influenced his writing.  It’s about his writing life too, even though not titled as such.  There were some hilarious parts in the book, like when he is in Paris and talks about how he is normally a smiley guy, and he had to walk around pretending his mother had just died so he could mirror the French people’s faces.  I also love the part about the negative book rep, because Mr. Conroy didn’t let it bother him at all.  He just rolled with the punches.  Books like this are inspirational to me, as an aspiring writer.  I know I need to read a lot and write a lot to increase my skills, and reading about a famous author’s journey is motivating.  Authors motivate me and certain people motivate me to want to be a better writer.  I’m glad to have read this book, along with Steven King’s On Writing because I find similarities between how they think about writing and how I think about writing.  This gives me hope that one day I might achieve my dreams…er…goals.

4)      I’ve been writing this week—like mad.  I’ve actually written over 10,000 words on a story I started a year ago and never finished.  The funny thing is, working on this story actually makes me feel like I’m back in the past.  I’m not sure why I didn’t finish this one.  The story line is clear, and the plot is already outlined.  The characters seem palpable to me, complete with a jerky guy.  Oh—how I love writing about jerky men—cannot pull myself away from it, and I’m not sure why because I’ve always had great men in my life: my Dad, my husband, my guy friends—seriously, superb human beings.  The story is about a teenage girl, who moves from the North to the South, and she becomes involved with the wrong crowd, including Gideon, a mysterious boy, who tries not to become intimately involved with anyone, even Lana.  When I write I feel tied to my characters, like I’ve created them and the whole world they live in.  I feel they become an extension of me and often I can’t leave them alone until the story is told.  I often think about all the stories I left unfinished, and I wonder what the characters would have developed into if I had played them out.  I can’t fathom leaving any of the characters I’ve created in the last three years hanging out in “no man’s land.”  I have an intense need to tell their story, and then move on.  The only way I can describe it is a kind of magic.  Writing is the part I love—typing it all down, finishing the story, but that’s only part of the whole.  Proof-reading, re-writing, editing line by line, are all the aspects of writing I struggle with.  Sometimes after I’ve read through a story fifty times, still finding mistakes, I just want to shove it on the back of a hard drive and move on with my life.  I find the hardest writing work to be in the fine details.  I could compare it to cleaning up my house, something I’ve never had the desire to actually do.  


After this weekend, I plan to rest a bit, and to find a blogging schedule again.  I’m not sure blogging every day is realistic for me, as I try to focus on novel-writing and bigger picture items in my life.  However, I love the outlet of this blog and will continue to update it on an “as-can” basis.  I'm trying to develop purpose in my life and daily goals to live by: write, run, repeat. 
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