If You’re “Zappy” and You Know It…

2013-01-29 09.07.38No, that isn’t a typo in the headline. And, I am definitely a little zappy today this last day of the A to Z April blog challenge. I’ve zig-zagged through the alphabet and made it all the way to Z! Yeah me! For those still wondering, according to my good friend dictionary.com, zappy is a slang word that means “energetic, lively, or fast-moving; zippy.”

While I typically would describe myself more as “zapped” than “zappy,” I am excited that I made it to the end of this 26-day, 26-letter writing challenge. I set a goal and accomplished it. That in and of itself, feels pretty damn good! On the flip side, I’m sad to see the challenge come to end. I’ve found some pretty interesting blogs and fellow bloggers along the way that I’ll continue to follow. I like having a focus or theme to help guide my writing. Without this challenge I never would have written 26 posts in one month. While I know I can’t keep up this pace and market my new book and write my third book, I hope I can find time to write two or three posts a week. Writing is my outlet, whether anyone reads my words or not, I’m still going to spew them.

Zippity-Doo-Dah…

If anyone knows of any other blogging challenges I’d love to hear about them!

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Yes, I Mean No

2013-01-29 09.07.16Sigh. Why do the words “Yes” or “No Problem!” or “I’d glad too” or “Sure thing!” always flow out of my mouth before I can stop them?  The word “yes” to any request comes naturally to me. I truly love to help others. Whether it is genetic or some quirky personality defect or residual guilt from twelve years of Catholic education, I’m not sure. I do know saying “no” is difficult for me, although more and more I find myself saying it. Not so much because I want to, but because I’ve finally realized I can’t do it all anymore.

In years past I ended up being the president of multiple committees, donating to causes I’d never heard of and volunteering hours of time on stuff I really didn’t care all that much about, because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and always glad to help out. Saying “yes” when I really meant to say “no” often left me feeling resentful inside instead of happy. It took me 43 years, but I figured out the hard way, it’s better to say “yes” only to the things that I really want to do, can afford to do and actually have time for. I’ve learned to bite my tongue when people are seeking volunteers and resist the urge to offer my time when I know I really don’t have it to give.

Instead I’ve limited myself to only one or two volunteer activities at a time. My daughters are also involved in activities and I am responsible for getting them to and from these extra-curricular activities. I want them to participate and have fun. However, that makes little time for my activities. We have dance on Monday’s and Thursday’s and choir/catechism on Wednesday’s. 4-H is every other week on Tuesday’s. We just finished up basketball and cheerleading which also on Tuesdays with games on Saturdays. In less than a month everything will be finished except 4-H until September. I breath a sigh of relief. I know other mothers who have even more activities on their schedules. I’m dizzy thinking about it.

Anyway as a solution to my “yes” quandry, I decided to volunteer my time to the activities my daughters participate in. I figure if I’m going to be there anyway, I might as well help out.  So I helped coach my daughter’s basketball team earlier this year and currently I’m helping out with the 4-H club and am teaching Sunday school. It’s a win-win…I get to help out and spend time with my daughters. Now when someone asks me to help, I can politely say “I’m sorry, I’m already committed” and decline without being overcome with guilt. And by learning to say “no” as hard as it may be, I now have a bit of time for me – to write, to work out and to just be.

How hard is it for you to say “No?”

Xanadu

2013-01-29 09.06.59When I was ten years old, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, Xanadu was one of my favorite movies. It starred Olivia Newton-John and I saw it at the drive-in. Ever since I ‘d seen her in the  movie, Grease (another favorite)  at the young age of eight, she was my hero. I wanted to be her or at least one of her characters. She could sing, dance, act and all the boys loved her. None of those things were true about me, but it didn’t stop me from pretending.

I actually had the soundtracks to both movies. I played the 33 on my record player over and over and over (my poor Mom!). I knew all the lyrics to the all the songs (come on admit it, you did too! Oh alright then, it’s just me.) What’s even sadder is I still remember most of them. Come on sing along…“Xanadu. Now you are here. In Xanadu….” or how about “Summer lovin’, had me a blast…” or “Grease is the word that you heard…” Ha! Now you’ll have those cheesy songs stuck in your head the rest of the day! Worse, now I will too!

Thanks to Netflix and YouTube I’ve gotten to watch those old movies and hear those old songs as an adult. They aren’t quite as remarkable as I remembered them (although I do still have a soft spot for Grease, Xanadu on the other hand, not so much). The memories of how much pleasure those movies gave me back in the day, make me smile though. I wonder when my ten-year old dances and sings to the songs of Camp Rock, High School Musical and Hannah Montana if someday she’ll look back and think to herself, “I can’t believe I actually liked those movies! I knew all the lyrics to all the songs.”  And thanks to DirecTV and the Disney Channel, so do I!

What movies did you love as a kid, and cringe to think about watching now?

Why? Why? Why?

2013-01-29 09.06.45Wonder what I’ll write about tonight? Me too. We’re winding up the A to Z blogging challenge and this first day of the weekend landed on “W.”  Lot’s of great “W” words come to mind: women, worry, weariness, winsome, wobegone, wanton, whacky and wasted. All great W topics, but alas none inspired me tonight. In fact I’m feeling rather uninspired and really don’t know what my fingers will write tonight.

Pondering on the letter “W” again I’m reminded that “W” in and of itself is kind of a weird letter. Think about it a second. As my “why” daughters pointed out to me the day, the letter “W” sounds like double “U”, but looks like double “V.”  Why is that? they ask. Why indeed? Good question, but I have no idea why. My girls ask my oddball “why” questions like that all the time. Yesterday we were in the Subway drive thru waiting for our food. My oldest starts wondering about the building.

Her: “Do you think the floor of the building is up higher than our van?”

Me: “What?”

Her: “Do you think they built the floor up higher than the road?”

Me: “Huh? I don’t know. Why would I know the answer to that?”

Her: ” I don’t know.”

I am glad my girls are curious and encourage them to ask questions. I  want them to know more about the “wonderful world” around them, but some days they really exasperate me with their never-ending interrogations. Lucky for them, when I don’t know, they don’t have to thumb through an encyclopedia to find the answers. They don’t even have to go to the library, flip through a card catalog and then use the dewey decimal system to find a book that might have the answer. They have the miracles called “Google” and “Bing.”  Two seconds, a couple of clicks and presto they have hundreds of answers to choose from. That’s pretty incredible if you think about it. The Internet makes my life as a writer a lot easier too. I can research without even leaving my bed. That’s powerful. That’s knowledge waiting to be grasped. Wow!

Viscacha, Vermin and Varmints (Oh My!)

2013-01-29 09.06.31Viscacha! I love the way that word rolls off my tongue. What’s a viscacha, you might ask? Besides being a word that starts with the letter “V,” a viscacha is a rodent-like animal in the chinchilla family that resembles a rabbit and lives in South America. See you learned something today. No? Well I did anyway!

A vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia) in the Sur Lipe...
A vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m grasping for topics as I wind up these last few days of the April A to Z blogging challenging (see my lame umbrella post from yesterday) and today I’m resorting to writing about vermin or is it varmints? I’m not sure, but I do know I’m not a big fan of them. Seeing as I don’t live in South America, I haven’t seen many viscachas, but living in rural Ohio in an old farmhouse I see my share of  pesky insects and rodents. I used to fear many of these loathsome fiends, but I’m much braver since I’ve been somewhat desensitized to them. Now that I’m a mother, I find myself forced into the position of the brave exterminator when unwanted beasts invade our home.

Here’s a rundown of the various vermin found around our farm and my ability to handle coming face to face with said creature:

  • Mice – We get these in the house a lot – especially after the farmers bring in the crops. If the mouse is dead in a trap, I’m OK with picking the entire thing up and throwing it away – trap and all (I don’t recycle). If it’s alive in the house and I see it, my heart start still jumps and I might stifle a scream; however I don’t have to move into a hotel overnight.
  • Spiders – Typically we get brown wolf spiders and daddy-long-legs. I can smash them with my shoe if they are below me. I’m not too crazy about killing them when they are on the ceiling, although I am brazen enough to suck them into the shop vac.
  • Wasps, Hornets and Bees – These still scare the crap out of me. I must have a can of Raid and be able to spray them from afar. If I can though, I’d rather shut the door and wait for my husband to get home and send him in for the kill.
  • Snakes – We once had a corn snake eating a frog in our barn. I also saw a garter snake in the yard before. Both times I’m sad to admit, I let out a blood-curling scream. I was taken off guard. I went my way and the snakes went their ways and that’s the way I like it. Luckily I rarely see these cold-blooded ones. If one got in the house though, I’d definitely think about putting a for-sale sign in the yard.
  • Bats and Birds – Luckily I only see these creatures flying around outside and they don’t bother me in the least. I’ve never had one in the house and I hope I never do. If a bird, or especially, a bat found its way into the house, I’d definitely being checking into a hotel until the exterminator could come.
  • Skunks – One summer day the girls and I were going for a bike ride, when a small, wobbly black and white animal slowly walked by us. It was not a kitten, but a baby skunk. We slowly backed away and fortunately were not sprayed. My husband smoked their den and I haven’t seen another.
  • Opossum – These guys truly creep me out with their pointy noses and long tails. I’ve only seen them in the creek and ditches when I’m driving at night. That’s bad enough for me!
  • Raccoons – We had two of these masked guys in our barn.  Some people eat them. I do not. Some people wear them as hats. I do not. They are another varmint that my husband takes care of. They no longer reside in the barn.
  • Groundhogs – These animals are also called woodchucks. I don’t know why. I do know they are lousy at predicting when spring will be here. One decided to make his burrow right beneath our living room window. Bad move on his part. He’s joined the skunks and raccoons on the other side.
  • Turtles – One day I heard my littles one screaming from the garage. I ran outside to see what was wrong and found a box turtle milling around. I found a big shovel, scooped him up and took him out to the field. See you later little guy!
  • Rabbits – They’re so darn cute, but not when the eat all my flowers before they can even bloom! My oldest daughter raises domestic rabbits for 4-H, so I have a soft-spot for the little cotton tails. They know they’re safe – at least from the humans – the barn cats are another story.

So that wraps up my vermin list. I don’t think I missed any. From afar I’m very brave, up close not so much, on me I’d probably freak out.  On the bright side, at least I don’t live in place with poisonous, deadly varmints.

What kinds of vermin do you deal with? Anyone seen a viscacha in the wild?

Wanted: The Ultimate, Ultra Umbrella

2013-01-29 09.06.17April in Northwest Ohio has certainly lived up to its motto, “April showers…” this year. Actually its been more like “April down pours.” We should have the best “May spring flowers” ever. Today’s been no exception to the rain. Rain would be fine, if it weren’t for the wind. The wind is merciless and unrelenting.

It’s pointless to carry an umbrella around here. No less than two minutes after I raise it up, the wind flips it inside out, I curse it, struggle to right it, end up wetter than I would have if I’d just made a run for it, and toss the mangled umbrella in the trash. I’m not really a prissy or anything. I don’t mind getting a little wet. Really, I don’t. I just want to get from point “A” to point “B” without getting drenched. I’ve tried all sorts of umbrellas from mini-compact to golf, they all end up – inside out. This is why I seek the ultimate, ultra umbrella. I believe it must exist somewhere out there. It doesn’t have to be a Mary Poppins-type umbrella. I’m not looking for magical or supernatural qualities. I just want one that’s sturdy enough to withstand a windy, rainy day in Ohio.

Anyone?

Today. Not Tomorrow.

2013-01-29 09.06.00Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. The sound of an old-fashioned, wind-up clock ticking off the seconds grounds me in the moment. Yet, no matter how you slice it, a day only contains 24 hours or 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. No more and no less. Why then do some days pass quickly while other drag painfully on and on? 

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off tomorrow what you can do today.”  While on the surface I agree with that sentiment, it seems the myriad of tasks that need my attention today often spill into tomorrow and the next tomorrow and the next. The question is not so much putting off those things that could be done today until tomorrow, but more on prioritizing those tasks appropriately. Which tasks if I complete today will bring me closer to my goals tomorrow? Which tasks if I put off until tomorrow will cause me to get an overdue charge or lose out on an important opportunity? Which tasks can I put off forever because they no longer matter? If only I had more time to figure it all out!

I work full-time as a technical writer. I’m a wife and the mother of two young daughters. In my spare time, I write contemporary romance novels, blog and try to promote my books. I want to be the best employee, wife, mother and author I can. When I focus on one the other areas in my life suffer. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity yet can’t imagine giving any of these roles up. How could I? They all define me and make me who I am. But because of them, I often find myself overwhelmed, irritable and struggling. I struggle with not being good enough, with being satisfied with where I am today and not worrying too much about what tomorrow might bring. I struggle with letting complacency keep me from longing for the perfect tomorrow. And, I struggle to keep that longing from preventing me from happiness today.