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Showing posts from 2019

My Growth as a Writer

A good friend suggested I join her writing group nine years ago. She thought it would be a good fit. Now, I had belonged to writing groups before and I was doubtful that was true, but she insisted and I went. She was right. It has been a good fit, but you have to know I am an introvert. People laugh when I say that, but there is a big difference between being shy and being an introvert. I am not shy; I can be rather bold, but introvert is often mistaken with shyness. After a day out with people, I have to retreat into my shell and recover. It’s like my soul has been depleted and I need time to let it refill itself. Thank goodness this group only meets once a week. Plenty of time to gear up for the following Monday night meeting. I have taught “writing” all my life, both to children and adults, but this writing group has taught me so much more than I ever thought it could. It has taught me facets of myself that I had not explored. I learned that I am a terrible writer unless I have an o…

Are You a Writer?

I don’t think my answer is what the person asking the question has in mind. They’re expecting Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling. I’m an author. I ponder and create sentences, characters, stories. I authored them; before me, they didn’t exist, so, yes, I am a writer. The person then wants to know, “Are you famous? What have your written? Where can I get your books? How about a selfie?” Whoa, there. Yes, I’m published, but you won’t find me on Amazon, or Goodreads, or Forbes. I have sold a few things. Some very kind people read anything and everything I write, but you may want to hold off on the selfie. Ask me instead, why I write. I cannot pass up a clean sheet of paper and not want to scribble something on it. Anything. A list, a word, a memo. I find myself molding a sentence in my brain and remolding it until it captures my thoughts in words, sings of sincerity, and I have to scramble for pen and paper before it is gone. I have created characters and breathed life into them. …

Writer’s Block-aid

After six months of writer’s block, I am back. To be honest, it was more like writer’s coma. I’d been blogging faithfully for nearly eight years, posting every Monday morning with only a handful of skips, and realized one day my focus had shifted to things other than writing. Back in April 2011, things like brand and tribe and algorithms were foreign to me, but the more I blogged, the more these concepts evolved and became clear to me as a writer. I needed a change; my blog needed a change, but when the will shuts down, the brain follows, so I went into a writing coma. I am here to tell you all that advice about soldiering through writer’s block is a bunch of hooey. What works for one person doesn’t work for another, but even in my comatose state, I kept all the advice and good intentions in the back of my foggy brain, knowing that in the end, if I were to recover, it would be solely up to me. Google informed me in early 2019 that some of the widgets I used on my blog were being elimin…

The Girl Who Eats Canned Spinach

I went to a Catholic elementary school run by strict Belgian nuns, and we could not leave the cafeteria until we ate everything served on our food tray. Once a week, they served warmed, canned spinach with our meal. The spinach tasted nothing like the way my grandmother made it, but I ate it. I gulped it down in three or four bites and it amazed my table mates. I told them we ate it at home so I was used to the taste. Now, my real problem began the day I ate the spinach off my friends’ trays so we could go play outside. As soon as the nun monitoring the cafeteria turned her back, my friends ate something off my tray I didn’t want, and I ate their serving of spinach. I only did it for two of my table mates, but the word spread. On the next Spinach Day, kids followed me to my table.I was suddenly very popular, and as soon as the nun marched off to the other end of the cafeteria, my friends and an army of others who only knew me as The Girl Who Eats Spinach, begged me to take their servin…

Swimming Underwater

The university where I got my BA required all students to take a semester of swimming in order to graduate.I had been to the beach on occasion in my nineteen years on Earth, but I was from south Texas, desert country, and few of us knew how to swim.I waded.I let the waves splash me.I had no idea what to expect from a “swimming class.” While the other students took off like fish, I had to learn how to keep my eyes open while holding my breath under water. The college instructor required me to come in every day and she would help me learn the basics. I went from scared-to-death tadpole to swimmer in that one semester. To get my PE credit, I swam twenty laps across the school’s Olympic- sized pool, demonstrating a different swim stroke with each lap.I did twenty dunks in the deep end where I had to plunge myself downward, hit the pool bottom, and shoot upward to catch my breath before going back down again. It was the most frightening experience I had ever faced, but I had no choice if I…

Why I Wear Purple

One whole year.My Mom has been gone one whole year. She passed away late on a Friday so we had plenty of time to plan her memorial and burial for the next weekend. She had a lot of family and she was among the last three of her generation, so we knew folks would need time to plan their travel if they were to say their goodbyes. The following morning after she passed away, I rifled through my closet for all and anything that I owned in purple.My mother loved bright colors and among her favorites was purple. She had been a great fan of the actress Elizabeth Taylor, the beauty with the violet eyes, so my brothers, sisters, and I decided we would wear purple to her celebration. We met the following Monday to plan her funeral and afterwards I went shopping for more purple or violet to wear.It was near the Easter season and I figured it would be easy to find nice things in that color, but it wasn’t, so when I wasn’t planning details for her memorial, I went shopping.I only needed a few items…

A Choice is Not a Regret

My grandmother and I had a very special relationship. She’s been gone thirty years, yet there isn’t one day that I don’t remember her in some way. Sometimes, it’s a recipe, or how to do a chore, or a saying, but she is right there, next to me. She lived with us since before my birth until she passed away in her eighties. As a child I resented having a third parent, but somewhere in my late teens, we became friends, almost like comadres. She would share details of her life to me and I would learn from the many sacrifices she endured. Her father died when she was twelve and almost overnight, she, her mother, and siblings went from being well off to being dirt poor. My grandmother ended up working for the woman who used to be their laundress. She married young but my grandfather was no better off than she was, so my grandmother worked as a live-in maid and my grandfather worked as a laborer, doing odd jobs and going off for months to do migrant work in the northern states. He rarely sent…

How to Respond on Social Media

Being on social media nowadays reminds me of the school yard playground when I was a kid. Pretty much everything went unnoticed by the monitors unless a fight broke out or someone ended up taking a spill off the jungle gym. To survive, you had to learn to look out for yourself. Dust yourself off and keep walking. Why are we so attracted to this medium?Is it for entertainment and news, to keep up with friends and family, to build a brand and sell a product, or has it become so much a part of our culture we cannot look away? Whatever the reason, you have several options in order to survive the social media playground. You can play it safe; you can read and not post or respond. You can choose what you read, deleting posts you find offensive.You can unfriend and block “friends,” especially those who continually criticize and taunt you, thereby keeping only those who agree with you. Or you could jump into the fray. You can post or respond, but remember once you do, you make yourself visibl…

The Two Plants

When my father passed away, the funeral director asked us to take home the potted plants people had sent to adorn the chapel.The cemetery only wanted fresh-cut flowers at his grave site. We each chose a plant and for the last thirteen years I have struggled to keep mine alive. Every plant in the pot died except for one. It’s a tall woody thing with green leaves striated with yellow stripes. There have been years when it was near death and I could only get it to keep two or three leaves.I have tried to recreate what the arrangement looked like and bought new plants to fill the empty spaces, but they never last. This past year, it took on new life.It filled out with leaves though I had done nothing different. When my mother passed away last year, the funeral director asked my brothers, sisters, and me to take home the potted plants people had sent to adorn the chapel where we held her visitation and rosary. I let everyone choose first and took home the one that remained. I put it on the …

Facing My Fear of Guns

With the ownership of firearms comes responsibility, so I had asked HoneyBunch several times to teach me how to shoot and to help me get my License to Carry. I got my wish two weeks ago. HB and I signed up to take a LTC class. He bought me a gun, one similar to his, that would be the type we needed to show shooting proficiency, and for one whole week he tried to get me to become familiar with it, but I was hesitant. I read the booklet that came with the gun. I practiced loading and shooting it in what is called dry shooting (no bullets), and since the flyer said I would have to shoot thirty shots at different distances, I finally tried with it loaded. I was a nervous wreck. The class of twelve turned out to be close to forty people. We were of all ages, colors, and genders, and I was glad I wasn’t the only woman my age. The shooting test came first, and we were separated into two groups. Those who were proficient (or thought they were) would shoot first, and those who were novices wou…

I HATE Mountain Cedar

Before I moved out here into the wilds in 2006, my husband asked if I was allergic to cedar. I told him I didn’t think so. The only cedar trees with which I was familiar were the two, tall, roly poly trees that stood at opposite ends at the front of my childhood home in the city. We grew up calling them our Christmas trees, but since they were so dense, we never played with them like we did the oaks or the pecans. Those trees were easier to climb, so we stayed away from the decorative cedars though I never found they added much to the aesthetics of our home. As for cedar pollen, I told HB I never recalled any in the fifteen years we lived in that house. He warned me that the cedar pollen to which he was referring was from a more aggressive tree – the Ashe juniper or mountain cedar of the Texas Hill Country. It would waft into our area in the winter months and no one was immune. I poohpoohed him and said if it hadn’t affected me in fifty-plus years, it probably wasn’t going to now. Fas…