Success, Stairways & Swinglines

I firmly believe that if you’re willing to look, there’s a blessing – usually many blessings, actually – in every bad situation. And, obviously, this blog wouldn’t even exist if I weren’t able to find the humor in nearly everything that happens to me. Most of which is inarguably ridiculous and inherently humorous, but you get the point. Another of my firmly held beliefs is that when God placed me on this earth, He said to no one in particular, “And you, my dear, are going to keep everyone entertained.” Which is how things like the Unofficial St. Joseph Altar Death-Match Bake-Off happen to me in the first place.

At any rate, recent events have forced me to reexamine my life – the things I want and the reasons I want them. This is proving to be a painful process, to be sure, but it’s always a good thing to stop, take stock and question your own motives.

So it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I’ve been rather teary lately. Part of it is grief, and part of it is my hormones hitting a wall, but part of it is also reevaluating my place within my family, my contributions to it and the ways I serve the people I love most. During one of many late-night, tear-soaked conversations, I looked up into Blake’s face and asked, “Are you happy, Perkins? Do you have a good life?”

I was pretty sure I knew, but your stomach always clenches during the split-second when you’re waiting for answers to questions like that, doesn’t it?

Much to my relief, he nodded emphatically. “We live in a two-story house,” he said. “When I was a kid, I thought that was as good as it got.”

Stairs as a measure of success. Why not? People measure success by a myriad of yardsticks that are WAY dumber than stairs.

That started me thinking: Success means something far different to me now than it did when I was a kid, of course…but does it have to?

What if I still measured success the same way I did when I was 7?

–I own my own stapler. I can staple anything I want any time I want, and I don’t have to ask anyone for paper OR staples. WINNING. I also have the modern-day equivalent of my own typewriter, and no one chides me for banging the keys too hard.

(I typed that sentence so loud my neighbors could probably hear it, by the way.)

I also have stamps and ink pads, and I can stamp every damn thing in this house if I feel like it.

–I can eat in bed. TAKE THAT, MOM.

–Speaking of Mom, I own several pairs of high-heeled shoes and 18 tons of sparkly jewelry and accessories. See?

I also have eyeliner, blush and approximately 84 lipsticks. I am allowed, indeed, encouraged to shave my legs. No one gets onto me for using an entire bottle of bubble bath at one time.

Well, almost no one.

I am allowed to light candles, use the curling iron and cut things with scissors unsupervised.

On the down side, I do not look like Carol Alt, I did not marry a prince, I do not drive a silver Corvette with a pink interior (YET), and I am not, nor will I ever be, Miss America. I did not grow up to be a professional ballerina, and I have to work much harder than anticipated to find a reason to wear a tutu.

However, I have a little girl, I frequently put bows in her hair, and she has several tutus of her own. She loves makeup, high heels and purses, and pretty soon, I’ll start painting her nails. She agrees wholeheartedly with my life philosophy that one can never sparkle too much.

I own pom-poms, and I wear perfume on a daily basis.

I HAVE A CAR.

WITH WHICH I CAN DRIVE TO TOY FAIR.

EVERY SINGLE DAY!

We do not yet have a Barbie Dreamhouse, but we will. Oh, we will.

As far as accomplishments go, I have not gotten eaten by Jaws or Shamu, and I have never been sucked down the bathtub drain. I graduated from high school. I have worked as a secretary.

By the way, if any of you who are reading this are currently employed as secretaries, then you should know that in the opinion of a 7-year-old Kelly Phelan, you have the single most glamorous job in the entire world except for maybe 1) Professional Ballerina and 2) Being Carol Alt.

Not too shabby, you guys. Not too shabby at all.

I have not yet kissed Henry Winkler or Alan Alda, but there’s still time.

Perhaps best of all, we have stairs. And if Blake and I didn’t mind being in traction, we could slide down the bannister right now if we wanted to. In fact, I think I will!

(Nah, I’m just kidding. I like my spinal cord the way it is.)

So according to 7-year-old me, my life is unimaginably awesome. Well, except for the Miss America thing. But that’s what eBay‘s for, right?

Things are a lot more complicated than they were in the second grade. But as long as I’ve got Harper, Blake and a stapler, we’re all going to live happily ever after.

Lately

Oh, you guys.

The comments. The emails. The Facebook messages. The texts. The phone calls. (And one gorgeous and fragrant bouquet of lilies.) Many, many from friends and acquaintances, a few from friends of friends, a couple from sweet folks we don’t even know and one or two from people we haven’t talked to in a very long time. Each and every one healed us a tiny bit. We’re still grieving, for sure, but we’re OK. We can see the light, even if we can’t quite feel the warmth on our faces.

A lot of people have asked what we plan to do, medically speaking, and after seeing my obstetrician again today, I’m both happy and frustrated to tell you that we’re already doing everything we can do. I don’t want to go into a lot of details, but there are some VERY positive aspects of our situation and some that are puzzling and troubling. I can say for certain that we will not be taking any extreme measures to have another baby – Blake and I have both felt called to adoption all our lives (Blake was adopted, in fact), and while we would dearly love to have the experience of giving birth to one more baby, if we determine that’s not in the cards for us, then we’ll proceed with adoption. There WILL be more children in this family – the only question is exactly how they’re going to get here.

There’s hope! There’s always hope.

With that, let’s try to get back to what passes for normal life in the Powell household, shall we? I guess I probably should’ve deleted the following post once I decided not to publish it the other day, but…pictures! And even a video. I can’t bring myself to waste food, and, apparently, blog posts. So here you go.

A few bad things happen, a lot of good things happen and a MILLION funny things happen. Life goes on, doesn’t it?

—-

I should have my Photographer Card and my Scrapbooker Card permanently revoked, because I did not take one single picture of our absolutely magnificent Fourth of July celebration. So this oldie-but-goodie will have to suffice:

Aaaaaand you wonder why I hire other photographers to take pictures of my child. I present to you Exhibit A.

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Anyway, back to the Fourth, on which Ratine smiled non-stop and did not glare at her mother contemptuously.

There was a time when I would have expected – nay, demanded! – a good Fourth of July celebration to include tons of people and free-flowing beer. The guest list for Independence Day 2014 included three preschoolers and was fabulously low-key except for when Harper and Liam (Lam) stole a bag of Cheetos, took it into the tent that Blake had set up for them to play in and dumped it out on the floor, and then they and Steve proceeded to eat the entire thing. There were four orange hands, two orange faces and one orange muzzle.

Cheetle for DAYS, y’all.

—-

Today, we Powells reached an all-time low when we sang this song to Harper at naptime, substituting “Ratine” for “Norwich” and “terrier.”

Good: We nailed at least most of the harmonies.

Bad: We know this song well enough to have nailed most of the harmonies.

Good: Theatre season auditions, here we come!

Bad: Karaoke, here we come!

—-

Harper has been obsessed lately with guinea pigs, which is literally a dream come true for me ever since I fell in love with Cashew on House of Cards. (Warning: Link contains profanity and will also make you pee yourself laughing.)

Harper, Steve and a guinea pig: LOOK OUT, ERRBODY, IT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL.

—-

Blake and I have been hard at work on our flower beds. We live on one of those streets where at least half of the residents obviously spend all their time watching HGTV and reading Better Homes & Gardens. Which is to say they’re setting the bar entirely too high for amateurs like us.

This has necessitated us having conversations like this:

Really Snotty Lady at Plant Nursery in Minden: You know that shrub is really high maintenance, right?

Us: It is?

RSLAPNIM: Uh, YEAH. It has to be trimmed, like, two times a year.

Us: …?

RSLAPNIM: Do you…like working in the yard?

Translation: You both look really lazy. Pretty dumb, too.

…and also necessitated us taking Harper to a plant nursery.

It was like the Seventh Circle of Hell but with way more screaming plus the smell of manure.

I wouldn’t recommend it.

—-

So what have YOU been up to lately?

The Power of Story Will Save the Day

Morris Lessmore loved words.

He loved stories.

He loved books.

His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another. He would open it every morning and write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.

But every story has its upsets. 

One day the sky darkened.

The winds blew and blew…

…till everything Morris knew was scattered – even the words of his book. 

–William Joyce, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

—-

We’re having another miscarriage.

I had no intention of writing about it so soon. The urge was there, believe me, but I talked myself out of it. Give it a week or two, get some perspective on it, I told myself. I actually wrote another post this morning – a pretty funny one, if I do say so myself.

If I was being honest with myself, though, what I really wanted to do is pretend it isn’t happening, and not writing about it would more easily allow me to do that. This blog is in many ways a record of a large portion of my adult life, and by not writing about the miscarriage here, I could omit it from at least one small part of my personal history. Good enough for me.

But that’s not fair, somehow.

To any of us.

So here we are.

The facts: I found out I was pregnant on June 28 and was positively ecstatic. We suffered our first miscarriage in January of last year. We’d stopped “trying” for a baby soon after in anticipation of my knee surgery in January of this year, and we had to wait a while after the surgery because – no surprise – I was on some pretty heavy narcotics. (I say “trying” because we’re Catholics, and so in our world, there’s Trying Not To and then there’s All the Rest of the Time.)

I went in for bloodwork the following Monday, and everything looked peachy. I was so relieved. A little nervous, sure, given what happened last time, but realistically, the chances were pretty small that such a thing would happen again.

I started spotting on the Fourth of July.

I freaked out a little at first, but I told myself over and over again that this was normal, that it didn’t mean anything, that there was no way this could happen to us a second time. There was much Googling, as you might imagine.

I went to the doctor on Monday, and more bloodwork confirmed it.

About five percent of women experience two miscarriages in a row. Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets.

I would dearly love to tell you that I am at peace with this situation, I am not angry, I do not feel cheated and I am resting comfortably in the knowledge that a divine plan is unfolding before me.

Unfortunately, none of that is true.

I am a Christian, and while I know there are plans in mind for me, plans for my welfare and not for woe, it does not feel that way at all. I’m not just crying out to God, I’m howling in sorrow and despair.

Last night, I opened my Bible, and it fell open to 1 Chronicles. I looked down, and the first thing that caught my eye was chapter four, verse 10. Blake later told me it’s called the Prayer of Jabez and that several years ago, someone wrote an entire book based on it. (It rings a bell, but this may have been one of those things that was a much bigger deal in the Protestant world.)

“Oh, that you may truly bless me and extend my boundaries! Help me and make me free of misfortune, without pain!” And God granted [her] prayer.

So that’s where we are. Trying not to lose hope, praying desperately to be “free of misfortune, without pain” and doing anything to keep from breaking down, including taking Harper to the Build-A-Bear Workshop and buying her an overpriced teddy bear in pajamas and a doll stroller, which she then used to try to mow down pedestrians at the Louisiana Boardwalk.

You do whatcha gotta do, man.

We’re gonna be OK. It may just take a little while.

 

 

 

Summertime

In April, when I abruptly made the decision to pull Harper out of preschool, I may have seemed outwardly confident that I was doing the right thing for our daughter and our family, but inside, I was terrified. Incessant worry kept me up every night. Will she miss her teachers? Will she be lonely without her friends? Will she get enough intellectual stimulation? Will she get enough social interaction? Will an extrovert like her suffer from being home all day? Will she be happy?

Will I be enough for her?

Harper’s school was the wrong one for all three of us, but it was really great in a lot of ways. The thing they did best, and one of the aspects about which I could never complain was the academic component – from an academic standpoint, I think Harper’s as well or maybe even better prepared than any two-year-old anywhere. So when we quit, I was determined that we would not lose any ground and we would keep up her school lessons at home throughout the summer.

MUCH research and consideration went into this effort. I checked out homeschool curriculae, I made laminated flashcard-type things with scrapbook paper and my Cricut, I bought art supplies and workbooks and puzzles and who-knows-what-else. Much to everyone’s surprise, she actually tolerated “school time” each day, but something just didn’t feel right to me – something was missing for both of us. So I asked a homeschooling friend of mine, a mom of four and Harper’s Tae Kwon Do teacher, for some advice. And what she said flipped a switch in my brain and dramatically altered the course of our whole summer.

“Your job at this point,” she said, “is just to teach her how to live.”

How to live.

I don’t need  free printables from Pinterest for that.

So I put aside the Highlights magazines and sorting games and lacing toys and instead, I’m giving Harper…a summer.

No big family vacations, no set-in-stone plans, no real schedules, just summer.

We sleep late.

We eat waffles for breakfast at 10:30.

We walk to the park and play with the hose.

We stack blocks when we feel like it and spend a lot of time brushing dolls’ hair.

We take naps in the afternoon before Da-Da gets home. We pick berries.

We watch Disney movies and splash in puddles.

We crawl in and out of the teepee.

We make Steve do our bidding.

We go to the pool and eat nachos.

We spray Lola Mowis with water, but it’s so hot that she doesn’t mind very much.

We read Pig Kahuna and Little Blue Truck and Who Dat and Joseph.

We eat popsicles.

A lot of popsicles.

Academically rigorous? Not hardly.

Fun?

You better believe it.

Half da Man He Used to Be

And now, a word from Stephen.

hello, people in da computer! dis is THTEVE! you miss thteve? ’cause thteve missed you.

you never believe what happen to thteve! thteve had a operation. is what mom tell ratine. wake up real early in morning and get in car wif mom. ratine stay home wif bald man. thteve hope mom go to mcdonald’s for to get egg mcmuffin for thtephen, but mom went da wrong way.

DA REALLY, REALLY WRONG WAY.

when mom and thteve get to da place, thteve know for sure dey not have egg mcmuffin for thteve. mom say she haf to leave thteve in car. was da rules. thteve get lonely. wait long time for mom to come back. mom come back and put leash on thteve and take thteve in da place where dey do operation but no mcmuffin. nice lady say hi to thteve and pick up thteve and pet da headmeat. mom get upset. make thteve upset. kiss thteve headmeat and say she love thteve and thteve is good boy. say she be back tomorrow.

(thteve heard dat before.)

nice lady take thteve back and put thteve in cage. thteve not mind so much but thteve not have thteve bed or thteve toys. dey give thteve medicine make thteve feel goooooood. thteve go to sleep and when thteve wake up beautiful lady was look at thteve. thteve think beautiful lady was angel, but mom say she in junior league and dat almost just as good.

thteve worry dat mom not come back for thteve but people at da place nice to thteve. nobody bring thteve mcmuffin. thteve go to sleep and when thteve wake up nice lady say mom is here! nice lady carry thteve out and thteve see mom and ratine! ratine so happy to see thteve. thteve happy to see ratine. mom kiss thteve headmeat and say she miss her baby boy. thteve and ratine ask mom for mcmuffin but mom say no and take thteve and ratine home. thteve so happy thteve take nap right away.

thteve bottom hurt. thteve not like. thtuff missing from thteve. thteve not sure what missing until dis morning when mom on da phone wif granddaddy and ratine holler WHERE HIS BALLS, MAMA and mom say thteve AND granddaddy scarred for life now.

thteve get scar AND tattoo! mom say thtephen have ink now. thteve not know what dat mean but mom laff so thteve happy. bald man want to take picture to show people in computer but mom say no dis is family blog. people in computer haf to use IMAGINING.

(can also imagining thteve is alligator and ratine is ballerina. ratine and thteve imagining dis every day. ratine want thteve to spin wif ratine, show mom thteve ballerina moves.)

thteve so happy to be home wif mom and ratine and bald man. and cat thteve guess. place where thteve had operation is nice but if people in computer wake up early, dey should go to mcdonald’s and not place WHERE BALLS GO.

bye!

thteve

—-

We are so very grateful to Robinson’s Rescue for the exceptional care they gave Steve during his neuter surgery. Animals like Steve that have previously been abandoned often have separation anxiety – if I have to drop him off somewhere, he’s usually frantic when I return. I could tell he had a good experience at Robinson’s in part because when we picked him up, he was very happy to see us but relaxed, which tells me the staff made him comfortable. I didn’t enjoy spending a night away from my baby boy, but I felt a lot better knowing he was in good hands. If you would like to contribute to Robinson’s mission to reduce dog and cat overpopulation and euthanasia in our region, you can do so here.

 

 

Game of Toddlers

Saturday evening, Blake, Harper and I joined some friends at their house for a pool party. In all, there were three couples and three toddlers, all of whom were born within four months of each other. Being so close in age, there are a lot of similarities among them, of course – developmentally, they’re all pretty much on the same level. But personality-wise, it’s another story, particularly with Harper and Jacs (short for Jaclynn), my friend Joy’s little girl, who’s three months to the day younger than Harper.

Jacs has an adorably high-pitched, squeaky little voice; Harper has inherited Mama’s full-throated roar. Jacs is petite and pixie-ish; Harper gets her height and size from my dad and brothers, who are all tall and muscular. Jacs is never happier than when she’s in her mommy or daddy’s arms; Harper will hug or kiss me if I ask her to, and occasionally, very occasionally, she’ll show some overt sign of affection of her own volition (which always makes me feel like I’ve won an award of some kind), but more often than not, you’ll find my little love running headlong into the wind, arms out like a bird about to take flight, eyes closed, ecstatic smile spread across her still-chubby little face.

All three children were playing together in the living room after dinner, a tiny pocket of chaos and a cacophony of toddler voices, and it struck me:

“I know the difference now between Jacs and Harper,” I announced. “Jacs is a Disney movie. Harper is Game of Thrones.”

—-

Sometimes I look at Harper – this full-tilt, balls-to-the-wall little badass – and wonder just where in the world this child came from.

But I know.

The physical manner in which she experiences the world is extraordinary and completely foreign to me, an introvert who spends 85 percent of her day inside her own head. Blake teases me and says I do more thinking before 9 a.m. than most people do all day (which may not be far from the truth), but in Harper’s case, she touches and bites and feels and kicks and tastes more things before 9 a.m. than you or I probably will all week. Maybe all month.

The list of things she’s afraid of is now up to two, mosquito hawks and air dancers, but that’s it. She’s currently in the stage where she loves to jump off of things, so we’ll soon be making the acquaintance of an orthopedic surgeon and a pediatric dentist (for her) and a cardiologist (for me).

I don’t credit myself with very much toughness (when I’m not chasing the toddler, I sit in front of a computer all day, for Pete’s sake). Any that I may have is almost entirely mental. But even I can’t fathom the urge to climb to the highest point I can reach just to jump off and land flat on my rear. To my little lady, though, those few milliseconds in the air are worth it.

Harper gets her physicality, I think, from her daddy. God must’ve put him in a small body because He knew that if He didn’t, Blake would be TERRIFYING. He may be short, but he’s a HUGE physical presence – he seems to cover every inch of whatever room he’s in, not in a suffocating way, but in a way that makes everybody feel like they’re at a surprise cocktail party that only he knew about.

I’m not exactly a mild-mannered sort, either. While not as big of a personality as Blake, I’m much feistier – Harper comes by her temper honestly. I often wish I were a more temperate person, but as I get older, I realize that one of my most valuable qualities is my willingness to do battle where others would rather avoid conflict. I’m sure my parents didn’t realize it when they named me, but even my name bears it out; Kelly is Irish and means “warrior.” My maiden name, Phelan (we pronounce it FAY-lan), is just as Irish and just as fierce – it translates to “wolf.”

When Blake and I were in Company together last summer, he gave me a crash course in acting, and one of the most important lessons he taught me was how to fall, how to flop, how to stumble, how to run into things. I’m trained as a dancer, not an actor, so my paradigm was the mastery of every part of your physical being – the pursuit of control. Also a useful quality in a warrior, now that I think of it.

One thing I learned from my husband, and am continuing to learn from my daughter, is how to lose control and love it. Because you can guide Harper, you can steer her, you can lead her, you can deter her, but you cannot control her. Trying to do so is as futile as trying to nail Jell-O to a tree.

So what do you get when you take the functional version of Peter Sellers and the warrior wolf and put them together, roll-’em-up-roll-’em-up-throw-’em-in-the-pan?

The Dothraki princess, of course.

Horse heart, anyone?

—-

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to Harper’s aggressive personality – she sometimes has difficulty playing nicely with other children. Partly it’s just toddlerhood – at this age, they’re all extremely self-centered and not very empathetic. But the other part is that generally, she physically overpowers other kids her age. And once she figured out that few, if any, could stand up to her, it made her into a little playground tyrant. When she plays with other kids, I tend to hover directly over them; their moms often think I’m being overprotective of her. “She’ll be fine!” they say. “Let them play!”

Trust me, sister-woman, it ain’t MY kid I’m protecting.

But all that changed Saturday night.

My friend Tanya’s son Liam (Harper calls him Lam), who was born a month after Harper, is, if possible, even more physically-oriented than she is. This kid is a tiny linebacker. At the pool party, Tanya told us how, periodically, he’ll stand up, slap himself on the belly three times, then run head-first into something. And then laugh. (If he doesn’t end up going to college on a football scholarship, it’ll harelip the governor.)

He and Harper love playing together, but he doesn’t take any sass from her. She has a very bad habit of biting, but usually, all she has to do is act like she’s going to bite a kid and s/he dissolves into tears.

Not Liam the Linebacker.

Less than 30 seconds later, he had her pinned underneath a beanbag. All I could see were four meaty little arms and legs sticking out and wriggling furiously; it looked like Liam was sitting astride an enormous blue tick. The Linebacker smiled at me. “Yuh!” he said approvingly.

Yuh, indeed.

Maybe a good mother would’ve snatched him and the beanbag off her baby immediately. Well, this mother didn’t. This mother smiled.

She’s finally met her match, I thought.

Today, Tanya and I took them blackberry-picking at a farm, and we were standing in line waiting to pay for our berries when the two of them got into a scuffle over who-knows-what. My arm shot out to grab her, but Tanya stopped me. “Street justice, Kel,” she said to me with a look. “Street justice.” Taking her advice, I decided to let whatever happened happen.

Harper grabbed Liam’s arm to bite him, but The Linebacker is fast. Almost before I could blink, he snatched it away, and she ended up accidentally biting herself.  I thought Tanya and I were going to wet our pants right there in front of the check-out girl.

Yuh. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

My Writing Process: MBG Edition

In most cases, it irritates me when writers talk about their “process.” I mean, really, what could be more pretentious and annoying than a bunch of gasbags sitting around and listening to the sound of their own voices holding forth about plucking words out of the ether like dew drops on dragonfly wings or some crap? Come ON.

But secretly, I love to talk about writing, and maybe that’s because I don’t pluck words out of the ether like dew drops on dragonfly wings, but I do have a pretty specific process (there’s that word) I go through when I write. It requires a lot of discipline and a good work ethic, and I, for one, think Stephen King was absolutely right when he said, “This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks.” Writing is work, plain and simple.

When one of my oldest blog-friends, Katie Ett of Ettible Photography (formerly Unapologetically Mundane) asked me to participate in a “My Writing Process” blog tour, I was thrilled right down to my toenails, not only because it gives me an ironclad excuse to talk about my PROCESS, but also because I consider Katie to be one of the very finest writers I know. She has an enviable gift for storytelling, she never resorts to using profanity to get a laugh, and if she had a basement in her Brooklyn apartment, I would swear she has an editor chained up there because this woman NEVER – never ever ever ever ever – has any typos. I consider my own blog posts to be “Katie-Ett worthy” only after I’ve proofread them 28 times, then I publish them and find a typo two weeks later anyway.

Now on with the show.

1) What are you working on right now?

After a very long hiatus, I am working on getting my blog, Mrs. Bachelor Girl, back on its feet. If I tried, I’m not sure I could explain how soul-satisfying it is to write purely for pleasure again. I’ve always wanted to attempt a novel, and someone approached me a few months ago about co-writing a play, but for now, I’m just enjoying once more having my own little corner of the world in which I am free to fling open the doors to my brain and let loose all my thoughts.

I still do some freelance writing, maybe one or two articles a month, if that, and I have a couple of those in the works, but my editors probably wouldn’t appreciate me giving everyone an unauthorized sneak peek into their upcoming issues.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I was born and raised in the Deep South, and my entire family has its roots here. I have never lived above the Mason-Dixon line, and at this point, it seems unlikely that I ever will. So my life is steeped in all things Southern belle – sweet tea, Bourbon, Bourré, college football, hunting, big hats, crawfish boils, monograms, smocked dresses, impossibly high heels and impeccable manners – and that certainly comes through in my writing. One of the highest compliments I’ve ever received and probably will ever receive was when someone described my writing style as “David Sedaris meets Flannery O’Connor in a dark alley.”

3) Why do you write what you do?

A few years ago, another blog-friend, Lisa Butler of Elembee, challenged her readers to create  personal mission statements. Well, I’m too embarrassed to tell you how long it took me, but when I finally figured it out, it was quite simple:

I am a storyteller. Everything I love to do – write, take pictures, scrapbook, decorate my home – is simply a way of telling a story.

Storytelling is one of the most important things we do in human society. It’s how we pass on history, wisdom, skills, morals and much more. I’m not sure the stories I tell will direct the course of our culture or anything, but maybe one of them will entertain somebody, and that’s good enough for me.

4) How does your writing process work?

I have worked as a freelance writer since 2008, and it was my full-time job until I had Harper in 2011. I’ve done it part-time since then, and one of the things I’ve learned is that to write every day takes a tremendous amount of discipline. Lots of people like to write, but they only write when they feel like it. In order to make a living at it, you have to write even when you very much do not feel like it. On the other hand, writing is like anything that’s good for the mind, body and soul – you’ll feel a lot better if you’ll just get started. Whether I’m writing articles or blog posts, the first sentence and the last sentence are always hardest for me. If I can get those two out of the way, then the rest flows much more easily.

I’m always composing in my head, and I usually keep a notebook handy (there’s at least one in every room of my house plus my car and my purse) to jot down ideas. It helps keep my thoughts organized for when it’s time to sit down at the keyboard and get to work.


This is where it all began…well, sort of. This was my “workspace” in my single-girl apartment soon after I started freelancing full-time.

Although I have little patience for writers who claim that good writing only comes from some sort of divine inspiration over which they have no control, I will tell you that just a couple weeks ago, for the first time in a very, very long time, an idea came to me in a dream. I woke up, went the bathroom and jotted down as much as I could remember on the little notepad that lives in my makeup drawer. Then I stumbled back to bed happy and grinning like an idiot. It was a terrific feeling.

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I’m supposed to pass the writing-process baton to three bloggers, and after much consideration, I’ve chosen three of my favorites:

1) Jessica of Leela Fish. She’s not only one of my editors, she’s a very talented fellow writer and photographer and one of my dearest friends.

2) Staci of Southern Exposure. Another of my editors and one of the funniest writers out there. One of these days, I’m going to turn Staci’s essays about her mom, Debbie, into a one-woman play and then we’ll be rich enough to afford all the monogrammed Bourbon in the world. And then we’re gonna go huntin’, bless our hearts.

3) Linda of All & Sundry. One of the first blogs I ever read on a regular basis and still one of my all-time favorites. Just when I start to think I might actually be getting good at this blogging thing, Linda posts something like this that says to me clearly, “Go home, amateur.”

Check out their blogs and look for their My Writing Process posts soon!