Welcome to Boring …

I want to be tweet-able and retweet-able. (Okay, so I just opened my twitter account this week.)  I want to be Facebook stalked (only a little). I want to be Freshly Pressed worthy.

But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t.

Why?

I’ve finally figured it out. It’s something I already knew. It’s what I, as a creative type, fear most. Fear of being uninteresting …

Then I remembered one of the first things I wrote for the Jotter’s Joint … it was a practice run and I never posted it (till now). I hadn’t decided if it was a post or my About page. I thought it was funny.

Re-reading it makes me laugh and it makes me feel better because I was managing my own expectations. I didn’t have grand ideas of success. I set the bar low enough to accomplish my goal.

Here’s what I wrote:

Welcome to Boring …

Why read this blog? 

Because you don’t have anything better to do. You don’t have a life. You’re friendless and alone. You’re tired of the well intentioned, deliberately positive, motivational, blogs selling happy. Or maybe, you’re a recluse; suffer from paranoia, or worse. Afraid of technology but sitting here reading this with a tin foil hat on hoping I can’t read your thoughts or transmit signals to your brain.

So why not read my blog? 

It fits right in with our “random” loving culture today. In a time when we can select and self deliver the kind of news … special interest stories … celebrity drama to our phones or laptops or iPads. Where we can follow our friends’ every move from waking to sleepless nights via Facebook or Twitter feed or better yet by subscribing to their blog.

Let’s face it … this is just another opportunity in our information overloaded lives for you to examine and criticize, ponder and pontificate on the boring things that happen in someone else’s life; my life. It’s a chance to offer up your opinion on what matters in my world, from the mundane to the monotonous.

Why read a boring blog? 

I have no idea. It’s just the stuff I think about on my drive to and from work. It doesn’t get much more boring than that …

So maybe my expectations were too low here but I didn’t want to be disappointed. Then I started posting regularly and I was sucked into this belief that my blog had to be perceived as great. It didn’t matter if I thought it was great. And it stopped mattering if there were readers, even one reader, who thought it was great. I started measuring my success by the stats and not by how flexing my creativity made me feel.

I will always have pangs of wanting others to claim I’m great but I realize that ‘great’ is a relative term. Being tweet-able or Freshly Pressed aren’t my yardstick (although I would be happy if it happened).

I will remind myself often that I am measured by my enjoyment in blogging and my growth as a writer. When I forget, all I have to do is go back to my About page and read my reasons for starting the Jotter’s Joint. This is one writer’s world and you’re welcome to be a part of it.

So, today, just a reminder … manage to your own expectations!

Brokenness

This has been the week of broken things.
First – a fingernail. It was a chip really. Nothing a nail file couldn’t fix.
Then my curling iron. Thankfully, I had a spare. But now I have to buy a new one to replace the spare.
Next my computer which really hurt my feelings. And right before a writing conference.
I had a breakthrough in my writing. Lots of new words. But the broken computer stole my momentum and my spirit. Not for long though.
My fabulous husband came to my rescue and ordered me a new computer when I was prepared to wait until I thought we could afford it.
Apparently, when you’re a writer, you can’t afford to be without a computer. Grateful that my sweet loving husband gets that.
Hope to be back online this weekend.

Off the Air … Unexpected

My computer has died so the Jotter’s Joint will be off the air for a little while. I am incredibly sad. But post by phone won’t do.

Wishing you peace and happy blogging until we meet again.

~Gail

Speaking of Verbal Vomit …

verbal abuse

verbal abuse (Photo credit: iamsongs)

Here’s my rant. Not that you asked but I feel the need to share it anyway.

This week has been crazy. Crawl in the bed and curl up in fetal position kind of crazy. You know, the moment where you think:  “I hope no one asks me for anything because I have nothing left to give.”

Read my lips before I spew unnecessary (and possibly inappropriate) words on you:  NOTHING.

In the midst of the back-to-school process; figuring out a new routine (which have I mentioned I hate the change); attending open house and parents night; I’ve also had a sick dude. Strep throat. So, the past three days, my husband and I have been juggling schedules to make sure one of us is home to care for and comfort him.

But wait, there’s more …

My inbox keeps filling up with things that I need to do or respond to, both personally and professionally. Being out of the office doesn’t mean the world stops (although it would be nice if it did). This is one of my busy seasons. I was buried before my little guy needed the extra tender loving care.

Couple that growing work pile with an urgent and disturbing situation that I should have been outraged by but was surprisingly nonplussed. Shameful how desensitized we can be to truly poor behavior, attitudes, and opinions that are put in front of us. I wish I could share more on this topic but the details are confidential and my outrage, I think, is a slow burn.

All of these things together have eroded my patience. My mind wanders. I’m distracted. Hopefully, I’m not too mean. And I’m emotionally drained. It’s eating up all my energy.

But that’s not all …

I haven’t had any personal time to just be still. Solitude to rejuvenate. Silent time to think through it all. If I could just be separate and apart for a time, I wouldn’t be here hurling on you.

My writing has suffered too. When good ideas come I write them down in my notebook. I do my best to capture them … but I mean even finding the time to write a 500-word blog post has been difficult. Forget novel writing. My novel sits collecting dust on my mind’s bookshelf. An important part of writing, I’ve found, is time to just sit and think about writing. I need the “me time” to gather my thoughts.

“Calgon take me away.”

Do you remember this slogan? It’s sad when such a statement becomes your anthem.

Thankfully, someone took pity on me. A beautiful beacon of light. My dear friend and writing partner let me verbal vomit details all over her. She spared you the worst parts of the rant I have churning in my mind. Plus she sent me home with a cure for all that ails me … a box of tea bags and permission to have a quiet moment. Vanilla Caramel Chamomile sounds delicious but the Sleepy Time is what I am craving. I’ve reached my breaking point. I am scheduling a moment’s peace right now. Tonight I will recover.

I will lay my head on the cool tile floor of conversation, hugging the porcelain bowl of language while hoping I can just keep my mouth closed.

That is all … now my retching, I mean my rant is done.

My smile is back in place. My teeth serving as a stop-gate to any more blah blah blah blech.

Summer Swan Song

Dear Summer,

Thank you so much for coming to visit. It seems like just yesterday that you arrived.

I am sad to say it but, farewell fun in the sun, fireworks, and family picnics. So long to sipping lemonade, sleeping in, and slip-n-slides. Goodbye going to the park, pool parties, and play-dates. Your favorite activities will be left behind and the playgrounds will be abandoned for a while.

But, we enjoyed our time with you. There are so many wonderful memories. Don’t worry, I’ve enclosed pictures for you.

Remember all the walking we did in the Las Vegas heat. And the littlest dude was sick with strep. That part wasn’t fun but we made up for it by eating well the rest of the trip. The fast food tour of the West coast was worth it.

I loved seeing the family for the first time in five years. WOW. How everyone has grown? Me a little wider. LOL. It was nice to sit and reminisce about childhood. Celebrate graduations and the next phase of life. Soak up some vitamin D on the front porch with you.

I’m so thankful that we were able to stay up late and sleep in. No where to hurry off to. People talk about lazy days and stopping to smell the roses (as the expression goes). Such beautiful blooms to admire, it was wonderful to stop and smell them along the way.

What fun it was to see the sights. Play tourist and buy souvenirs. Like trips to the USMC base, Camp Pendleton, to see the helicopters; the LEGO store; and the children’s museum in San Diego. Imagine an exhibit on garbage and recycling. We learned a lot about taking care of our planet because of it. We won’t forget our time together in California.

The thing I love about you, Summer, is the meals we share. We had a lot of great gatherings; breaking bread and catching up with all of our friends. Chicken and burgers on the grill; fresh fruit; ice cream … making s’mores over an open fire while watching the sunset … all of your favorite smells and flavors.

We read lots of great new chapter books with the boys. And they did some reading on their own which makes me smile. I’m glad it wasn’t all video games and movies. They managed to unplug a little bit too.

We will cherish the laughter and the tears of our trip to Chicago for Comic Con and LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Two LEGO locations, in two different states, during your visit; how funny.

I admit that it wasn’t all good times. There were those moments we had to say goodbye, not like I’m saying goodbye to you now, but final goodbyes to life long friends. People who lived full lives and people who were taken too young. Thankfully, you were here and, we could comfort one another which made it bearable.

Another one of my regrets is that we didn’t really make it to the beach. We drove by several while on vacation, but our feet never touched the sand; our toes never tested the water. Oh well, maybe next time you’re in town we can make that happen.

Thank you for helping us make the most of the season. Now we have new stories to tell; to hold us over until next year. Summer, it’s always hard saying goodbye. We wish you didn’t have to go but it’s time for the boys to go back to school and the rest of us to fall back into our routine.

We’ll miss you … Please take care until we see one another again.

Love Always,
Gail

PS. Next year come a little earlier and stay a lot longer.

… And They Lived Happily Ever After.

I love fairy tales and romantic comedies. There is something about a boy-meets-girl kind of story.

Writers and filmmakers are good about letting us enjoy the emotional high of the story. Ending the story with “…and they lived happily ever after.” Fade to black or “the end” with blank pages. Sometimes this line is implied, not stated.

As much as I love a good romance, seeing the moment they knew, no one ever tells you what living happily ever after means. It’s a vague concept that deceives us into believing that everything is rosy. It lulls us into a false sense of security. It tells us that there aren’t any challenges after the issues from the “Meet Cute” to the “Happily Ever After” are resolved.

Every story is packaged in a blue box with a white bow (or something similar).

Don’t be deceived by Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or whichever fairy tale resonates most with you.

Here’s the truth …

After their Prince Charmings swept them off their feet and carried them off into the sunset to the castle in the clouds … A new day dawned and stuff needed to get done.

Someone had to run the household. Even with servants or maids … someone had to supervise all those rooms being cleaned and organized.

Someone had to prepare dinner even if you have a kitchen full of chefs. Someone had to work with the head chef to plan the meals.

Money had to be managed so that the household affairs were in order.

Children were necessary to carry on the royal line. And even with nannies or nursemaids the children are still the responsibility of the parents.

The relationship fires had to be stoked to keep it burning hot. So they had to “show up” in the relationship. They had to learn how to communicate with one another because their filters and upbringing affect their world views.

First fights were inevitable after the honeymoon was over.

The struggles they overcame to be together are indicative of life. There’s always a conflict that needs resolving.  There’s always something. “Happily Ever After” does NOT mean you go through life together without any problem or challenge. They just don’t tell us that part of the story.

 “…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

The secret to “Happily Ever After” is compromise, sacrifice, humility, and submission. You have to come to the relationship ready and willing to do these things.

My husband and I are living our “Happily Ever After”. We’ve had (have) our ups and downs. We had times we didn’t think we were going to make it. We’ve learned a lot over the years …

The first two years we were together when we would argue I’d get in my car and go to the store to think about things. I am confrontation adverse in that way. He would follow me to the door saying, “Can’t we talk about it?” Over time we’ve learned that I need a little more time to process and he needs closure quickly so I can’t ignore the conversation. We meet in the middle.

I kept a calendar for paying my bills even if I still paid them late. He paid his bills the day they arrived. Eventually, I decided that it was better to let him handle the bills. I always know what’s in the accounts. We’ve agreed that we keep one another informed of purchases but for the most part … managing money is his deal.

We have different ideas about parenting. One example, he believes in paying for “A” grades. I believe children should do their best in school and that reward shouldn’t be monetary. We find ways that allow both our needs to be met without confusing the boys in our expectations.

We have a mortgage and children. Our time is limited and we’re stretched thin. We don’t agree on everything. We are faced with the needs of aging parents. We have family and friends who need and want our attention. But our lives would be boring without all the struggle.

It’s NOT perfect, but …

I will fight for him and he will fight for me. We’re in this together. We compromise and sacrifice our way to “Happily Ever After” with submission and humility. It can be done. But it takes hard work.

What about you? What’s your definition of “Happily Ever After”? Have you found it?

… They Fall in Love …

My rings including my anniversary band …

On my journey to meeting Mr. Right, I often wondered how I would know who I should spend the rest of my life with.

When I was working retail, I met lots of women who were buying new clothes for their honeymoon or engagement party or rehearsal dinner. These women were so “in love”. You could tell by the way they talked about their intendeds.

What a great pool of test subjects? I would ask these women how they knew that this person was the person they should marry.

At this point, they would get that look. You know the one … Eyes roll heavenward … hand falls on bosom some where near the heart … smile goes lopsided … their breath catches in their throat … they check out for just a moment.

Then they would remember that you’d asked them a question; that you were still standing there, eyes wide, head tilted to the side waiting for an answer.

“I just knew. You know?”

It never failed. This was ALWAYS the response. Always. And I have to say, I hated it! I wanted to understand. I wanted to know the “how”. I needed to know so that I wouldn’t make a mistake when it came my turn to choose a life partner.

They would usually tell me the moment they knew. Like:  “I got on the train to go home and realized …” Or, “I was sitting on my deck having a cup of coffee …”

I would say, “Yeah, but how did you know?”
“I don’t know. I just knew.”

How annoying! As a person who is ruled by her emotions you would think this answer would be reassuring, even appealing to me. But it wasn’t because too much was on the line. My forever was at stake.

So enter my hubby to be … We attended my girlfriend’s wedding (remember I needed a date) and when the weekend came to an end, he drove me to the train station. I found a seat on the train. Waved until he was out of sight. Then was immediately plagued by nausea and regret. A series of thoughts running through my muddled head:

  • Why am I on this train?
  • Do I really need to go to work tomorrow?
  • Do I really need a job?
  • Why am I leaving him here?

That was the moment I knew he was the one. That was the moment I understood the, “I Just Knew” response.

Two months after meeting him, my forever fell into place because I’d fallen in love. It reminds me of the movie Father of the Bride when she says, “I met a man in Rome and we’re getting married.” And Steve Martin’s character hears the words like they are coming out of the mouth of a 7 year old.

Two months after that realization, I quit my job, packed up and followed him across country. My family was a little concerned because this was drastic for me. Chasing after a man?

No promises were made (yet), he’d talked about having a surprise for me. I decided we would play 20 questions … “Is it bigger than a bread box?” He said, “It’s bigger than a tree.”

It didn’t matter what the surprise was … giving up my career at the time and leaving my family behind all seemed like it was worth the risk. And it was.

The engagement ring in it’d talking box …

When I got off the plane he helped me load my luggage in the trunk. I peered inside expecting to see a beautifully wrapped package the size of a small tree. But there wasn’t a gift in the trunk. The gift was the promise to love me for all time. A gift that’s bigger than anything you can imagine. Wrapped in the smallest package:  a ring box, containing an engagement ring. He proposed.

Two years later we were married in a planned elopement. Our families and friends met us in Las Vegas for a ceremony at the Chapel of the Bells. Followed by a reception dinner at the Rio Hotel & Casino buffet.

I am so thankful; I didn’t have to question my decisions. I followed my feeling of “I just knew” and getting to the feeling of “he’s the one for me.”

Fourteen years of love …

Boy Meets Girl …

When Harry Met Sally...

When Harry Met Sally… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Meet Cute” is a Hollywood filmmakers’ term. Urbandictionary.com defines it like this:

“Scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better). The way the characters meet in “Serendipity” or “When Harry Met Sally” or at least half the romantic comedies out there.”

That about sums it up.

And I love those moments. I get to experience the trials of romance without having to live through them. Which is what great storytelling is, right?

For a romantic like me it gives me a chance to “fall in love” over and over again.

But did you know that the “Meet Cute” can happen in real life and not just in films or books?

The year was 1998 and I was tired of being perpetually single. Of my friends, I was always the single one. It needed to end.

I was ready for a real relationship. Something that lasted longer than it’s-so-new-and-wonderful three month period. I was determined to not spend another Valentine’s Day alone or as a first date vehicle. I wanted someone to spend my birthdays with and take home on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It’s the year I talked to God a lot about what I was looking for. I even wrote down on pretty stationery the characteristics I was looking for in a man, so I wouldn’t forget what I asked for. I kept my wish list in the back of my planner.

I knew I had to be open to possibilities that my usually particular self would automatically dismiss. And when my girlfriend from college invited me to a weekend long wedding shower event, I knew it was my chance.

My mantra every day leading up to the event was, “I will meet a man this weekend.” While working or running errands, I would play this in my self talk player. Silly, right?

The weekend of the shower I hopped on the train to San Diego … ready to spend time with my friends and finally find a man.

The bride to be took us dancing in the Gaslamp District. I danced with every guy that asked me. Even the guy whose pick up line was, “You know, the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.” Really?

I gave my number to the guy who offered me his. Call me old-fashioned but I wanted to be pursued. I’m sure he pitched my number after I walked away. I never heard from him that’s for sure.

I smiled and nodded; joked and laughed; my way through a number of interactions. It was great fun because I wasn’t running anyone through my filter. I was just being open.

But when Sunday came and I needed to catch the train home, I was sad. I’d met a number of people but none of them had the potential to be “the one”. I was exhausted from being open.

So when my sister said her husband was bringing a friend home for lunch, I wasn’t fazed. I’d already given up hope. When she said, “Don’t you want to comb your hair and put on some lipstick or something?” I thought sure why not.

My brother-in-law walked in with a guy in glasses. We were introduced. I said hi and so did he. And then I left to get on the train.

I called my sister to let her know I arrived home safely. She informed me that her husband’s friend told her husband, “Man, she was cute.”

Wow! I hadn’t expected that. We’d said barely two words to one another.

With my girlfriend’s wedding just around the corner here was my opportunity. I told my sister, “If he thought I was cute, give him my number and let him know I need a date for a wedding.”

Yeah, leap of faith. I’d given permission for him to call me. LOL. (I know I have issues.)

A week went by and nothing. I called my sister, “He didn’t think I was that cute.” Not that I should have hinged my hopes on this guy. An hour later he called and we talked for almost 2 hours.

He agreed to be my date for the wedding. And we decided we should squeeze in a couple of dates before than, thanks to my sister’s recommendation, just in case we didn’t like each other. I even have pictures of the first date.

Who knew that I’d meet the man I was going to marry in the last minutes on the last day of a crazy scheme I had to find a date for a wedding? Those few moments were just the beginning of our story.

We joke now, 14 years later, about how I did meet a man that weekend. I just didn’t realize he was THE man. And of course my husband tells the story differently … I asked him out?

Consider me thankful for the “Meet Cute” God gave me despite my approach and persnickety personality. Thanks also to my sister who could see what I couldn’t see at the time.

What’s your favorite “how the met story”? Real life or from the movies, it doesn’t matter.

Uh Oh! It’s Happened … I’ve Run Out of Things to Say

English: WordPress Logo

English: WordPress Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Readers,

I have officially run out of things to say, which may directly impact your reading pleasure due to a disruption in the post schedule.

I am surprised I made it this far before getting this feeling … It’s been a little more than 3 months of me posting every few days.

When I thought about starting a blog the first time (3 years ago) I abandoned the idea because I didn’t think I would possibly be able to come up with enough content for a weekly post schedule.

But when I decided to take the plunge into the blogosphere 3 months ago I found I had lots of things to say, enough to post almost daily.

The beauty of blogging is that you can say whatever is on your mind and hopefully someone will read it, but if it sits unread you’ve still expressed yourself. Right? It doesn’t have to be profound or witty or pithy.

But I’ve spent the past week or so wondering about what I have to say. And I realized that the posts I like most are the ones where the topics are closest to my heart or my curiosity or my worries.

Now I have to figure out how to deliver my passions – these curious heart worries of mine – in a way that others will relate to or enjoy them. It’s daunting. I’m sure some of you, as fellow bloggers, feel my pain.

And for a woman who thought she’d be blogging in oblivion I wasn’t initially concerned about readers. The WordPress world gave me more than I bargained for … it gave me community … it gave me all of you. (Thank you for all the support and love.) Now I carry the weight of disappointing people or “pleasing” people, when I originally thought maybe a few family and friends would even care to read what I had to say.

So this post doesn’t really match the title because I’m doing a pretty good job of rambling on about not knowing what to say …

My dilemma is that I want to say things that are worthy … interesting … authentically me. To achieve a level of sophisticated simplicity in my writing that will resonate with you as well as with me. (I guess I better go live some life to make it happen.)

I’m holding out hope that inspiration will come – quickly.

Sincerely,

Blog-Author-Trying-to-Figure-Out-What-to-Say-Next 

An End of an Era

This past year or so has found us saying goodbye to many talented people, who have shaped our culture and our lives …

Steve Jobs
Whitney Houston
Don Cornelius
Sherman Hemsley
Richard Dawson
Dick Clark
Donna Summer
Andy Griffith
Ray Bradbury

And that’s just a short list. With each announcement I feel the hit. Each marking the fact that we’ve come to an end of an era.

This week finds me saying goodbye to a personal celebrity and life influencer. A woman who’s been a part of my life for more than three decades.

She was known for her role as church mother. If you’re not familiar with the term “church mother” it is a title of respect for a woman who cares for everyone she comes in contact with. Very common in predominantly African-American churches. It’s the living out of the African proverb:  “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

Church mothers were vital to me growing up. They filled the gaps when my Mom wasn’t available because of work. We even called her mother.

As a church mother she shared her faith, strength, and wisdom. She encouraged us and spent time with us. She taught Sunday School and sang in the church choir. To this day her version of Go Tell It on the Mountain is the version that resonates with me.

Others will come along and show me examples of faith and strength. They’ll even provide me wisdom. But gone is her voice and experience.

She was known for being a church mother but she was famous for her southern hospitality, down-home BBQ, and home made peach cobbler.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had the opportunity to stand beside her in the kitchen. She tried to pass down the recipe for the famous peach cobbler. But she was from the school of just a pinch or a dab, a smidge or a dash. It couldn’t be written down in measurements I could follow:  teaspoon or tablespoon or cup or quart.

It’s lost to us.

But the memory of her and everything she had to offer our lives and culture will live on. I celebrate her life and honor her legacy …

Thank you Mother for the hand you had in raising me.