Empty

Empty

Another week is over,

With nothing more to show

Than stiffness in my shoulders,

And half a list undone.

I contemplate my journey,

Gauge my spirit’s warmth;

It seems to be another week

Of self-absorbed neglect.

I search for a spark

In longing silence;

The ache of my heart

Revealing the ugly truth:

I am empty,

Inside, there is nothing.

My eyes well up with tears.

Finally.

I’ve got something.

Getting In The (Writing) Mood

It’s Sunday night and I sit at my laptop knowing I need to prepare a blog post for Monday.  I know I have to do it tonight because the next two days are going to be difficult ones.  I’m still getting settled in a routine again after spending several days out of town visiting my husband’s family.  I’ve spent all day doing laundry – and this is not an exaggeration either; I did nine loads today.  This afternoon, our family put up our Christmas tree and decorations, we cleaned out toy bins to weed out the ones that never get any play time, we cleaned and we organized–basically, we were a very productive family today.  My problem now?  I know I need to write, but I’m not in the mood.

As I sit here, I know I have some options.  I could get frustrated, shut down the computer and blow off my Monday blog post.  I could procrastinate and wait for inspiration to find me.  I could write a depressing post ruled by my state of mind and cap it off with a bottle of wine.  Or, I could let my imagination paint me into a story and allow myself to become the main character (in the case of the story I’m working on, I’d be my eight-year-old son.)

Well, I’m too stubborn to blow of the blog post; inspiration hardly ever finds me, even though I haven’t moved in thirteen years; and I don’t drink alcohol.  So, it’s up to my imagination to save me 🙂 (Oh, boy.)

The point of this rambling post is that even if the “perfect” conditions aren’t there for “perfect” writing, creativity can still prevail.  Even if I’m not in the mood to write, my imagination can get me there (if I let it.)

Here’s the funny thing:  just writing about using my imagination to escape my state of mind has gotten me psyched to do it.  I’m ready to wrap up this post so I can become a third grader.  Since you are no doubt ready for this post to end, now’s a good time to sign off.

What are your tips for getting in the writing mood?

Life Happens And Writing Will Too…Someday Soon

In my last post, I announced my decision to change my personal writing goals to ease up the pressure on myself.  Up until then, I had more challenging writing goals and would come down hard on myself when I couldn’t meet them (which was most of the time).

Over the last few days, I’ve wondered if a part of me knew life would necessitate a change in my views and goals.  (I haven’t written a single thing all week and I’m not the least bit bothered about it). 

Earlier this week, I took my little one to the pediatrician because he wasn’t responding to medication as well as we thought he should.  Our pediatrician sent me on my way with specific orders to take him to the emergency room immediately, without stopping anywhere.  She said many words, but all I heard was “meningitis, blood work and spinal tap.”  I obeyed – calling my husband and mom along the way.

Within minutes of arriving, my son left a mess all over the floor for housekeeping, and I got to see the receptionist’s fancy footwork as she quickly stepped aside to avoid it.  He was in a room soon after and I had reinforcements (husband and mom) before I knew it.  I have no idea about the actual time that elapsed, because I didn’t have a watch on.  Even if I did, I don’t know if I would’ve remembered to look at it. 

I’ve spent most of my recent days at the hospital with my little one.  I left once to get cleaned up because I didn’t move as fast as the receptionist did and I couldn’t stand the smell any longer.  Bath and Body Works lotion never smelled so good to me 🙂 I sneaked in half an hour to check e-mails and reply to a couple blog comments, but I didn’t have a chance to visit the blogs I follow.  (I miss them!)

My little one was discharged just in time for us to take my older son out to dinner for his birthday.  We came home and had cake and ice cream;  the evening was all about him.  For the last few days, other family members have taken care of my older one so my husband and I could be at the hospital.  I felt like we abandoned him and I hope his night made him feel special.  (He gets a big family birthday dinner this weekend, too.)

Writing won’t happen tonight; maybe it will tomorrow.  I don’t have imagined goals put on me anymore, so I’m allowing myself this break; guilt-free.  Life may have stunted my writing progress in the short-term, but I have a feeling the range of emotions I’ve experienced over the last few days will come out in my writing at some point, when I fully comprehend them.  (Fear, worry, helplessness and relief have all overwhelmed me during the past few days.) 

Each day, I acknowledge the blessings in my life.  I purposefully remind myself of all the wonderful gifts (people and friendships) I have and not the “things” I don’t have.  When I check on the kids before I go to bed tonight, I will see their chests rise and fall with each breath and feel the blessing much deeper than I did even last week.

Frugality and Movie Theaters Don’t Mix

This morning, we took the kids to see Toy Story 3 in a movie theater.  It was the first time my four and a half year old has been to a movie.  (Hey, my husband and I haven’t been since we saw The Proposal with Sandra Bullock in June, 2009.)  My nearly eight year old got to go to the movies every Friday with his summer camp, so he’s not nearly as deprived.

The main reason we don’t go to the movies?  Quite simply, the price.  Just to get in to see the movie in the evening will cost $31.50 ($22 for a matinee).  Then, if they order refreshments, you can count on another $20 (at least).  So, for a family of four to see a flick, we’re looking at $42 at a minimum.  It’s hard for me to pay that when, if I wait just a few months, I can often get the DVD for less than $25.

But Toy Story 3 got us.  Their genius marketing and commercials all over TV had the desired effect:  the kids begged us to pleeeeaaase take them to see the movie, with their big sad eyes and Buzz Lightyear and Woody toys in hand.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of the word “no”, in fact, it’s my first response to any request when we’re in a store.  But I caved because they should be able to go see a movie once in a while, right?

We took $22 out of our grocery money and headed to the theater.  There were a few conditions, though.  We had to see the show before 4PM, at which time the carriage turns into a pumpkin….oops, sorry, you get to pay more to see the same movie.  There would be no concession purchases (what’s wrong with the king size candy packs they just bought at the grocery store for 88 cents?  Why buy popcorn when we have 32 packages of microwave popcorn purchased from Costco in the cupboard?  Why soda when water is so much better for you anyway – especially in the desert heat?)

So, in my biggest purse, I loaded up four bottles of water, a Hershey bar and a package of Whoppers.  We paid our admission and I avoided eye contact with all of the employees, because if I looked at them, they would know I smuggled in candy and I would be searched and subsequently removed from the theater and humiliated. 

As I reflect on this, I realize that I unwittingly taught my kids two lessons (three, if you count that frugal people have trouble raising children).  Today, I taught them that there are times when it’s okay to be dishonest and sneaky (you’re not supposed to bring your own refreshments).  On the other hand, I showed them that we can alter our spending to afford the luxury of a movie in a theater once in a while and not spend needlessly on overpriced goods (i.e., concessions).

Now, since blaming others for our own shortcomings seems to be in vogue, let me toss this out there:  if they didn’t mark up the price of concessions over 300%, my moral dilemma wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

So there.

Why I Hate My Birthday (it’s not skin deep)

I don’t hate many things at all because it’s so much more productive to embrace the world, but I do hate my birthday.  The low feeling starts on July 1st, because my birthday is in July and I just want it to pass without any fuss.  My dislike of birthdays isn’t for the vanity reasons one might expect of a later thirty-something, although I’m not especially pleased with the new wrinkles or the gray hairs that appear faster than I can clip them. 

Before I reveal why birthdays are not on my “love it” list, a little background might help.  Growing up, I had an awkward phase that lasted from birth to about sixteen years old.  (Not exaggerating).  I tried to keep to myself, but always seemed to be a magnet for meanness.  Most memories are fuzzy remnants that are buried so deep I can’t piece them together, but some words I still remember clearly.

My parents didn’t know the gory details of what went on at school, but I’m sure they noticed I didn’t have tons of friends hanging around the house.  They tried to make me feel better and told me the other kids didn’t know how special I was or they were jealous of me.  I rolled my eyes at the special comment, and, even at the time, the latter didn’t make sense.  I couldn’t figure out what they could possibly be jealous of…was it the pale skin?  The glasses?  The teeth that only an orthodontist could love?  Or was it frizzed-out curly hair that I had when straight hair was all the rage?

My Grandparents lived down the street and I’d play at their house after school.  My Grandma always had snacks for me and the kids across the street (they hung out with me because my Grandma was friends with their Grandma and our moms went to school together too).  My Grandpa made me super-sweet Nestea instant tea with so much sugar that I think bees could mistake it for nectar.  No one could make tea like him.  (Several years ago I tried; it was gross).  My Grandpa’s birthday happened to be a few days after mine, which I always thought was cool. 

My Grandpa passed away several years ago after a long sickness.  Since then, my birthday has been a memorial rather than a celebration of another year of my life.  I miss him and imagine I always will.  Of course, I think about him throughout the year.  But July is harder, because it was our time and now I’m left to ‘celebrate’ alone.  Of course, I’m never physically alone, because I have family around me…but my heart just isn’t in it.

As an adult, my Mom told me stories about how my Grandpa worried throughout my childhood that I wouldn’t be tough enough.  She said he worked to make me stronger.  True, he did pick on me (in a nice way), but I grew up oblivious to his plan.  He didn’t want the world to trample me; he wanted me to have a mind and be able to speak it.  He wished I’d be able to say “yes” only when I wanted to and “no” when I needed to.  He urged me to be my own person and not who anyone else told me to be.  My Mom laughed at times when I would respond to him as a young child with a pouty lip, “I’m not tough.”  He knew what I didn’t:  if you let it, the world will eat you alive.

Guess what?  I think he succeeded.  I could have given up (and almost did) when I thought I couldn’t take the pain any longer.  I could’ve been an eager-to-please follower, but by the time I got through high school, I learned to stand my ground.  I value friendship because I know what it’s like not to have them; I have compassion, because I know what it feels like at the bottom of a deep well of sadness; and I found out that when you break, you pull it together and come back stronger.  I’m sad, but feeling…well, “tough” right now.  I AM tough.  When my birthday rolls around, I will put on my happy face and show thanks to those who remember, because I really do appreciate that they care.  At the moment, I feel like I can handle anything.  In fact, bring on the story critiques, query rejections and comments that this blog post stinks.  I can take it.

Thank you, Grandpa.  Happy birthday to us…