The POP of a champagne cork is one of my favorite sounds. There really is no time when that thoop isn’t signaling a special occasion. And last month, I got to pop open a bottle I’d been holding onto for … Continue reading
When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude’s holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.
All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. But the moment she arrives, miscommunication sets the week up for potential disaster. Placed at the bottom with the weaker players, she will have to work her way up to A league, not just to show Coach that she can be the best team player possible, but to prove to herself that she can hold a bat with the All-Star boys.
Home Run: THE SWEET SPOT ebook is available for pre-order on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8VYWK6 and in iBooks
I met Addie last summer. She rode around in the car with me, and I fell in love with her 12-year-old self. She is funny, resilient, and in need of love and a stable home. I would have adopted her … Continue reading
Welcome today to author Jane Sutcliffe, who, as luck would have it, graciously agreed to answer some questions about writing for children. Jane has written over two dozen non-fiction books for young readers, and is an experienced presenter. Her school visit … Continue reading
Not all New Year’s resolutions are meant to be kept. Some years you make a really good one, and you keep it, and all turns out right in the end. I hope that is how 2016 will be for you!
But sometimes, we start down a path we were never meant to be on.
That’s why it’s important to watch for the signs that you’re not heading the direction you’re meant to. Then, give up that resolution and start another. There are no rules about what day you will resolve to be awesome. In fact, you have 361 more days to dedicate to being your best self. In late 2014, I had some tough lessons. My bleeding heart is a trusting little pumper, and when faced with unpredictable and upsetting events, I have practically no defenses around it. Where others would stand fierce with resolve and anger, I tend to react with self-doubt and sadness. And it feels awful.
My warrior friends circled me with the protection I wasn’t able to muster myself. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be like my lawyer friend, who calmly took in all the facts and reacted with clear counsel. I wanted to be like my bad-ass friends, who’s fuck that attitude was a Teflon shield held above me. I wanted to be all logic and toughness. No more Mrs. Nice. It just wasn’t working for me. The pain was too icky.
So, along came 2015. And this was going to be the year. I was done with trust. Defenses were up. New people were to be regarded with an abundance of caution. Old alliances were under the microscope. I was hyper-vigilant and in full retreat. No way was I going to be blindsided again. I was going to be ready! I actually resolved to be less trusting and for God’s sake stop being so nice all the time. My cynical, logical, what-have-I-been-telling-you-all-along husband rejoiced.
And it felt good, at first. And then it felt awful. Even worse than the awful I was trying to protect myself from. It’s really hard work trying to be someone you’re not, too. It’s exhausting.
Also, I could not stop thinking about a woman profiled on Humans of New York in Sept. 2014. Cathy is the director of the Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) Center in Juba, “a place where displaced children in South Sudan are given shelter, an education, affection, and a second chance.” This is the quote that would not leave my mind:
“Often their trauma is so bad, that when the children first arrive, they can be very hateful toward me. But I feel blessed by the hate. Because I know it’s part of the healing process. And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I’m glad it can be me.”
In the first few months of my ‘resolution,’ I thought she was on my mind as a warning: don’t be like her. She is going to drown in her own kindness. But the more I began to question my new resolve to be less trusting and kind, the more her message turned into something I was supposed to learn from, not run from.
Life has been pretty picnic-like so far for me. And maybe that’s why I’m so tenderhearted…because I haven’t had to fight and claw against adversity. I had always thought that was a weakness of mine. But for the first time, I was starting to see that maybe I was supposed to be this way. Things were supposed to turn out for me so that I would have the openness to help other people.
“If they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I’m glad it can be me.” That is bad-ass and Teflon tough.
So, I switched up my resolution. Spending so much energy trying to be something I’m not, in the hopes of not getting hurt, was depleting me. Just like Stella and her groove, I needed to get my nice back. I started consciously thinking of trust and kindness as strengths, not weaknesses. And, I started to feel a whole lot better.
You can protect yourself and be kind at the same time. Just remember that everyone is fighting their own battles. Maybe you could be the one that reaches out in love and puts a hole in their armor. And if that doesn’t work, walk away. And bring your bad-ass friends with you. You’re gonna need them.
This year, I hope you walk towards the person you were always meant to be. We all have a place, and we’re all needed. The bleeding hearts need the cynics to pull us up from the depths we plunge into. You tough ones need us Pollyannas to remind you that it’s okay to trust sometimes.
If your resolution isn’t leading you towards what resonates in your core, give it up! I know I’m glad I did.
Today marks the three year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Last year, I worked through my sadness by writing a post titled “I’m Thinking Of You.” Today those words are on a field trip over on Mamalode.com. Won’t you please come have a look, and share the message?
Like me, you probably have friends and family that are so often on your mind and heart that you can have whole conversations with them without ever picking up the phone. I truly believe there are more positive vibes in this world than negative events.
To anyone struggling with sadness and challenges right now: You are not alone. You’d be surprised how many people are thinking of you right now.
And to the families of Newtown: We’re thinking of you not only today, but always.
Interested in turning your good thoughts into positive action? Click the links below to learn more.
“The reasons for gun violence are complex, but real change on a few issues could save lives.”
Text “ENOUGH” to 64433
“I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities.”
Sign their petition to pass mental health reform here.
26 ACTS – Changing the World one kind act at a time
“Do one act of kindness for each of the lives taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
“Every action, no matter how small, helps us build safer communities and a brighter future. Together, we can end gun violence.”
Sponsoring Orange Walks to honor all of the lives taken by gun violence in America, and show just how determined we are to end it.
Consider writing your representatives in government to voice your concerns. Contact information is easy to find here:
This week I’m playing in Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday contest: Write a children’s story, 350 words maximum, beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.”
Here is my entry (y’all sing along now)…
Sneakin’ around the present stash
At the bottom of the tree,
In stealth mode, got my ninja on,
Look how black-ops I can be!
I shouldn’t look, but too late now,
Hey, I think this one’s for me!
Later I might regret this choice,
But right now I’ve got to see.
Santa, please forgive me sir, it’s awfully hard to wait.
Voices saying, “It’s not Christmas – put that present down right now, Miss!”
Sneakin’ around the present stash
Is the most fun thing to do.
Parents are at their office bash,
If you were me, you’d peek too!
Here I go, I’m gonna open just one little gift.
Peel the tape slow, careful – don’t tear…
Jokes on me now, I got UNDERWEAR!
Wrap it back up, no time to waste
Hide this sneaky thing I did.
I’ll call St. Nick and plead my case,
“Please remember, I’m a kid!”
Ever notice a new pattern in your life, and wonder when and how things shifted? I recently noted that interesting things were happening to me, with some regularity. For example, I was asked to be an extra in a TV … Continue reading
It was time to prune vines and clip off some shoots in order to send more nutrients to the most hearty contestants. I was also looking for the main roots, where the vines originated, so I could infuse them with some good organic fertilizer.
It had been several weeks since I’d given the patch attention, so it took me hours to accomplish my tasks. Almost the whole time, a song my dad wrote for his parents on their 50th wedding anniversary was playing in my mind (the words as I remember them, anyway).
[To the tune of the old hymn: In The Garden]
She works in the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. Then her boyfriend comes, with his two black thumbs, and starts to trim the hedges. And he walks to her, and he talks to her, and he tells her what she did wrong…and the joy they share, as they tarry there, will last their whole life long.
It may have been this image of a couple working (and arguing) together that led me to flesh out the garden analogy when I was asked to speak at my brother-in-law’s wedding. (I know! Huge honor. Super scary.)
I told the bride and groom to be aware that marriage is a lot like a garden. In the beginning, everything is shiny and new. You clear your plot. You put in the best soil. There isn’t a weed in sight. With great excitement, you go pick out all your favorite plants.
Your rows are straight and full of promise. You’ve heard marriage is hard, but just look at what you’ve already accomplished! In no time you’ll be enjoying a bountiful harvest. Easy.
The truth is, some years of your marriage will seem easier than others. You’ll plant your seeds, give the garden a few passing glances, and in the fall have a bumper crop. But other years, it seems that despite all your efforts, it’s all you can do to get a few tiny tomatoes to grow. You’ll look around and think, “Man. Am I sick of weeding!”
Over time, you’ll learn that a steady blend of good soil, gentle rain, and constant care will yield the most consistent results. But most of the time, the work doesn’t look anything like the models you see in the Plow & Hearth catalog. There are no wide brimmed hats and soft kneeling pads. There is dirt-streaked hair, stinky sweat, and manure. Lots of manure.
However, over the years your soil will become richer and able to handle a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. The garden will grow beyond it’s original plot. You’ll always have plenty enough produce for your own family, with leftovers to share.
Back in my garden this morning, I struggled to find those darn roots. Where had these vines originated, anyway? The temperature had spiked quickly, humidity squelching my desire to stay out there and work. But I knew, like I know with my marriage, that a little extra effort would go a long way.
And funny thing, my patch has only two pumpkins that will likely amount to anything. One is pretty big and hearty already, the other is a bit smaller and is going to need some special care. And there is a point where their two separate vines are twisted and bound so tightly together that there is no way to differentiate who’s getting nutrients from which root.
And marriage is worth it, too. You pay the bills, you share your fears, you schlep the groceries and you clean the toilets. You sit and listen to the “bad day” rants, and get your turn to kvetch, too. You send out little tendrils and cling to each other, hanging on with all you’ve got.
Then, come harvest time, you’ll get your payback. Your crops will exceed your greatest predictions. Your heart will overflow with the fruits of your labor. And, you’ll have all the energy and motivation you’ll need to do it all again next year.