Monthly Archives: November 2012

Conceding Defeat

I like the saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” It seems to be credited to Brian Littrell, but not everyone agrees that it was. Being a Backstreet Boys fan, I’m going with it though.

November 2012 was a month where I set my goal for the moon. I always like to aim high, even knowing I might not reach what ever it is I’m trying for. But I often do. Not this time though. I’ve finally had to admit that I’m just going to be floating out among the stars.

I was a little nervous on October 31st at the thought of committing to my very first NaNoWriMo event, but I was determined to get those 50,000 words written so I could have a completed first draft in thirty days.

But me being me, I couldn’t just leave it at one first draft. Nope. To that number that many writers were sweating over, I added more goals. Finish a manuscript that was a chapter away from completion. Then a novella I could have ready for Christmas. And then I thought that I might as well finish yet another manuscript, which wasn’t even half done.

November 30th destination:  104,000 words

Actual word count:  81,556. Yes, I missed the mark by  22,444. I was pretty bummed out when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do it. Failure isn’t something I’m ever going to be okay with.

And then I realized I didn’t fail. Not only did I meet my first goal in twelve days (yes, I wrote 50,130 words in twelve days), I wrote wrote 31,556 more, too. I have three completed manuscripts to edit (two that are brand new), and the fourth is more than half finished now.

So I refuse to focus on what I didn’t get done. Yeah, it’s easier said than done. I keep thinking I should spend the next three days writing like mad to see if I can add an additional 15-20,000 to that last project.

But you know what?

My imagination, and my mind, are just really tired of being creative right now. So, while I’ll probably continue working on that book, I’m not going to push myself. I accomplished a lot.

And I learned something about myself. While I can push myself a lot further than I ever believed I could…I don’t want to do it very often. Not to that degree anyway.

I do, however, intend to do more 50,000 word months. In fact, a small group of us who participate in #wordmongering on Twitter are planning a challenge in February. And then again every 2-3 months after that until the real NaNoWriMo rolls around again.

In fact, if any of you are interested in joining us, let me know. Misery loves company! The more the merrier!

Yeah, I know. This has absolutely nothing to do with writing. But since I mentioned Brian Littrell in the first paragraph… and that made me think about Kevin (who is by far the sexiest BSB), I thought…why not?

What kind of goal setter are you? Do you like to set goals you know you can achieve? Do you set them a little (or a lot!) higher than you should? What do you do when you don’t reach them?

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The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

When you read the sign to your right, and see the word ‘dreams,’ what immediately comes to mind? Probably something to do with a goal, be it personal, related to your career, or something you’ve always wanted. But that’s not really what I see. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I sincerely believe that people should follow their dreams, myself included.

To some, it might mean daydreams. Come on. Admit it. We all daydream about something. What it will feel like to see that first paycheck after you’ve gotten a raise, or how the warm sand will feel like between your toes as you walk on the beach during your tropical vacation. Maybe even things like that feeling of satisfaction that will make you smile when the supervisor who takes credit for everyone’s ideas walks out of the bathroom with the hem of her skirt tucked nicely in the waistband of her pantyhose.

I know I’ve imagined things like that, and even better scenarios for well-deserving people, but when I see any form of the word dream, I think about the  private shows I get to watch every time I fall asleep.

Sometimes I can’t remember what I’ve dreamed about when I wake up, but I know that I wish I could…because I have this vague feeling that I can never explain. All I know is that whatever it was about, it was interesting.

Other times I’ll wake up and just go…huh? Those are the dreams that might make you think of acid trips, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, and White Rabbit…except I don’t do drugs, and I rarely drink. So who knows where all the weirdness comes from? Okay, don’t answer that. Just don’t…

Some dreams scare me so bad that I’ve been known to go turn the bathroom light on because I don’t want to sleep in the dark afterwards (I hate those ones!). During the first part of 2011, it got to the place where I was afraid to close my eyes. I kept dreaming that someone, or some thing, was trying to kill me and my kids. The only one I can remember now had me hiding out in a hole a ‘friend’ was digging with a backhoe, hoping that whoever was chasing me couldn’t find me there. And no, I don’t know anyone who owns or operates a backhoe.

But then there are the dreams that make me glad that I fell asleep.

I especially like the ones where my dad is there, and some of those can be really interesting. One in particular, had me in ‘my’ driveway when all of a sudden Dad is walking toward me like it was just an every day kind of thing. He went into the house and started rummaging around the cupboards, all excited to be back and he says,

“The government thinks I’m dead, so I could change my name and be anyone I want to be.”

I woke up with a big smile on my face after that one. Not that he ever did anything illegal, but I could just see him being all excited to pull something over on someone.

The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how detailed most of my dreams are…even the weirdest ones. Like the one where all the money I could ever want was right in my house. Only when I opened the door to where it was, the room is a big cavern with no floor in sight. In middle hangs a humungous boulder, wrapped round and round with ropes and, tucked between the boulder and ropes is the money…with no way to get to it.

Mysteries, comedies, thrillers, and weird that rates right up there with Escanaba In Da Moonlight (Much as I like Jeff Daniels, no way did this movie rate a three. Unless you’re a Yooper, or a guy who likes beer and hunting, I guess).

If you’re not familiar with Yoopers, (Natalie…I’m referencing the Urban Dictionary! Can you believe that?), click on the Yoopers link in the sentence above. And then read about the creation of Yoopers and Trolls from Yooper Humor.

In the beginning dere was nuttin’.
Den…

      On da FIRST day, God created da UP.

On da SECOND day, He created da partridge, da deer, da bear, da fish, and da ducks.

On da THIRD day, He said “Let dere be Yoopers to roam da Upper Peninsula.”

On da FOURTH day, God created da udder world down below.

On da FIFTH day, He said “Let dere be trolls to live in da udder world down below.”

On da SIXTH day, He created da bridge, so da trolls would have a way to get to heaven.

God saw it was good,

and on da SEVENTH day, He went huntin’.

Yes, I got a little off track here, but that’s what happens when I don’t spend enough time visiting dreamland, which is where I’m heading just as soon as I hit publish.

But I want to know one thing before I go. What do you dream about? Do you remember them when you wake up? Are they detailed, or just kind vague? If you’re a writer, do you believe like I do…that we dream a little differently than ‘normal’ people? (yeah, I know…I can’t count when I’m this tired either)

***Photo Credit: Dave R. Farmer

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Screw Political Correctness

It’s kind of hard to not think about December 25th right now. Cities and towns all across the nation have decorated their main streets. Shopkeepers windows are looking their festive best. And Black Friday has already started in some areas-in the middle of the night! Stores started stocking a few shelves way back in September with green and red, and silver and gold craft items. I get that. I do. If you want to make your own decorations, or crochet mittens and scarves for unappreciative relatives, you probably don’t want to start on December first. Frankly, not being too much into crafting anymore, those were easy to ignore.

But when garden departments around the country started transforming into magical fairylands of lights and bulbs, garlands and stockings, lawn ornaments and gift wrapping supplies…well before Halloween…there wasn’t much of a way to pretend I didn’t notice.

Yup. OctoNovemCember had surely arrived.

While it’s sad to see the three – well two holidays, and a sort of holiday, combined into one ginormous one, what makes me sadder still is what’s been done to Christmas.

Throughout history Christmas has been recognized as a Christian holiday. Centuries ago (as early as the 4th century), December 25th was established as the day to celebrate Christ’s birth. So it’s not like people haven’t known this for a little while.

Still, some in the latter twentieth century decided that it wasn’t fair to continue calling Christmas ‘Christmas.’ Nope, it infringed on the rights of those who didn’t believe in Christ, or religion, or whatever reason they chose to offer for being offended.

And so a movement was started to start saying things like winter break (instead of the Christmas vacation most of us looked forward to every year), Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, holiday cards, holiday trees, holiday parades…

Worse still, it began to be okay to ban things like nativity scenes, and other public displays that included religious themes. I’m not saying that everyone started fussing about it, but there were many who did. And continue to do so.

Seriously?

If we can’t have Christmas without offending someone, what are we going to do about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan…and all of the other  religious and cultural holidays? Do away with them altogether? Maybe designate one day a year for everyone to celebrate whatever they wish to celebrate, and strike the rest from our calendars? (I can just see state and federal employees reactions to the end of most of their three and four day weekends!)

Discrimination is supposed to be frowned on in this country, and hopefully in every other country around the world.

The Christian part of this holiday has been largely ignored for decades in favor of the more commercial aspect of it. And to that I say fine. Whatever floats your boat. The decorations and gift-giving part of Christmas are a lot of fun. If it doesn’t move in my house, it’s probably going to get a string of lights or garland (couch potatoes beware!). And no one loves buying gifts more than I do. I’ll do without necessities, even stoop to eating hot dogs (yuck!) in order to buy just one more gift.

No one forces me to do that, anymore than someone else is forced to park themselves in a pew at church, watching little kids performing plays with a plastic baby Jesus, fake farm animals, crooked angel wings, and falling stars and stables.

The point is, whether we like it or not, Christmas is a religious holiday. Just because a portion of the population doesn’t like religion – or that religion  in particular – doesn’t change that fact. And I think everyone needs to wake up and see that if our government, schools, and the whole politically correct crowd can take something that doesn’t belong to them, basically steal it from the people it does belong to, and change it into something else entirely…something like Christmas…then they can do it with anything that they don’t like.

Maybe something you like.

Think about it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, or anything else, something is important to you. Something that offends someone else. If Christmas can be diminished from a sacred celebration to secular holiday, then whatever it is that means something to you can be stolen from you, too. So before you start screaming foul, it’s your ‘right’ to not have a religious holiday shoved down your throat, remember why there is a Christmas in the first place. If you still choose to celebrate it, try showing a little of the tolerance you’d like given to you.

*****

^^^This person is celebrating Christmas^^^

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m going to celebrate Christmas. I’m going to buy Christmas gifts. I’m going to put up Christmas decorations – including a Christmas tree. I’m going to send out Christmas cards. I’m going to play Christmas music. I’m going to make Christmas dinner, and go to my sister’s house on Christmas Eve. I’m going to bake Christmas cookies, make Christmas candy, and put my Christmas village up on my desk so I can admire it for a month or two. I’m going to watch way too many Christmas movies, and read my collection of Christmas romance novels. When I see someone, or take my leave of them, I’m going to wish them Merry Christmas. I may even go park my butt in a church pew and watch one of those plays I mentioned a few minutes ago.

And if this post offends anyone, I apologize. Happy Holidays to you. This the only time I’m saying it though.

***Photo Credit: KimberMontague

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World Toilet Day

Yeah, you know I couldn’t let this one slip by without a mention. And what a perfect week for it, too. I mean those of us living in the United States are preparing for Thanksgiving, and this is just one more thing we can add to our gratitude lists.

Yup. November 19th is World Toilet Day. All around the globe, people are celebrating…toilets. Well, those of us who know about it anyway. I hadn’t heard about it until a few minutes ago, but baby…you’d better believe I’m in! Well, I’m not ‘in,’ but I’m definitely celebrating. As visions of what people from earlier centuries had to contend with dance in my head… Yeah! Three cheers for toilets and indoor plumbing!

Hip, hip hooray!

Hip, hip hooray!

Hip, hip hooray!

Hmm. Wonder if there’s a World Toilet Paper Day, too? Because I could totally get on board

So anyway…go give your toilet some love. Remember, you could be showing that love to an outhouse or thunder mug.

***Check out Natalie Hartford’s blog to see what other celebration shares November 19th. Actually it seems rather appropriate given the whole ‘throne room’ thing. 🙂

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When Is Your Dog Too Old?

Okay, so I know that pets aren’t people, but as I watch old age making life hard on Shadow, it brings up a very unpleasant subject. I mean she has a little trouble walking, and it’s harder for her to get on and off the sofa and bed than it was even a  year ago. And she’s definitely hard of hearing now.

This was a little over five years ago, shortly before she became a member of the family. Even then she wasn’t especially young, as evidenced by her white beard.

But…putting her ‘to sleep?’ I can’t help it, it makes me wonder if that’s ever the right thing to do. We don’t euthanize the elderly humans in our nation (nor should we ever consider it!).

So what make it okay to do it to our four-legged family members?

Is it really to spare them? Or is it because caring for aged pets makes life too difficult for us? Is it too stressful? Too messy? Too hard?

Why is it okay for us to decide that they’ve lived long enough and….’it’s time?’

Just the thought of driving her to the vet’s office, knowing she trusts us to do what’s best for her…with the intentions of ending her life…is enough to make me cry.

I’ve never had to make a decision like this before, and it’s so much harder than I ever dreamed it would be. I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’m not sure I ever will be.  How am I supposed to know when the time is right? Can anyone tell me that? And how do you make yourself get in the car for that last trip, knowing you’re not going to be bringing her home again?

How do I prepare for that moment when I say, all right, give her the shot? Just asking for some advice is making me fall apart…and they’re only questions. What am I going to do when it’s real?

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I have loved this video from the first time I saw it. Such a heart-wrenching visual about what can happen when someone drinks and drives. Tragedies like this don’t just affect the victims in the other car, it affects everyone who ever knew them.

I was surfing YouTube today and came across Simple Plan’s music video for their “Untitled (How Could This Happen to Me?)” song. I’ve heard the song a million times but not being a music video buff, had never seen the video or, to be honest, really paid deep attention to the lyrics and the story.

Until today.

At first I thought it was someone’s compilation put together to the music. Then I realized that no, the song actually tells the story of a car accident on a rainy night. A drunk driver crashes head-on into a car driven by a young girl, who dies. The drunk driver survives, uninjured. The story, told through the lyrics and powerful music, brought me to tears.

I was blow away by how the band incorporated the impact on all the unseen victims. When the cars collide, people in everyday activities are violently…

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My Heroes

I swear I hate going to parades sometimes. Okay, I hate going to them every time. Mostly because I stand there making a fool out of myself. Without fail, marching bands make me tear up. I don’t know why. Then there is always some form of military representation in  every parade I go to. But combine marching bands playing patriotic songs, the aforementioned military, and former POWs…and I’m a weepy mess.

This is one of my favorite songs paying tribute to our American soldiers. If you’ve never heard it, grab a hanky.

Sometimes I remember the year I didn’t go to the Veteran’s Day Parade. It had been a really long day, I was tired, it would take thirty minutes or so to drive to get to the location…and on top of all of that, it was cold.

So I stayed home, snug in my warm apartment…and I watched a tribute on a cable television station, from the comfort of my recliner.

During this program, there were pictures of soldiers far from home, enduring miserable, often dangerous conditions I couldn’t begin to fathom. Missing their families, with no option to say, I really don’t feel like doing this today, so I’m just going to kick back, get comfortable and relax.

Yup. There I sat, safe, warm, well fed…family no more than a phone call, or couple hours by car away. And I was seeing those photographs of men and women who chose to give up the comforts I was enjoying. Why? Well to protect me, and the rest of the people who also decided to blow off the one day that year when we had the privilege…and freedom…to go out there and show them that we supported and appreciated them.

I knew that night that I would never sit at home again if there was a Veteran’s Day parade within driving distance of where I happened to be on November 11th. If these people can give up so much of their lives for us, I can certainly give up a couple of hours of my time to give them the honor they deserve.

I’ll make sure I’m not too tired to drive wherever I have to go. And that I have a pocketful of tissues, because I know I’ll need them. I’ll be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, but I will be standing there on the curb as those who participate march by me.

Yeah, I’ll cry. My heart will break when the flag for the POWs comes into view, But I’m going to be there, and hope they understand how much I appreciate them when they see my tears. I can’t even write about this subject without them filling my eyes.

That’s how much they touch me. That’s how much I appreciate them and the sacrifices they make for me. Yeah, I know they sacrifice for you, too, but it feels personal. They make me feel safe.

Our soldiers aren’t the only heroes in our world though. I saw a video, and read an article about a high school football team that touched me deeply this week. These amazing young men took a fellow special needs classmate under their wing when they found out that she was the victim of bullies. Being the mother of an autistic son who also experienced bullying, it really hit home. I could feel this mother’s pain…and cheered for her daughter because those boys made her feel special…in a non-handicapped way. They changed her life, and instead of dreading it now, they have made her school experience something to look forward to.

There are so many heroes in our lives. People who maybe didn’t set out to be a defender or protector to someone in need, but nevertheless that’s exactly what they wound up being.

Do you know any heroes? Someone you’d like to give a heartfelt shout out to?

I’ve got two. My uncle, who served in special forces in Vietnam, and my oldest younger brother who was a volunteer fireman a decade or so, until he started a job that took him out of the area too much to participate.

We all have the potential to be a hero to someone. Try looking for opportunities wherever you may be. Just because you can’t go off to war, or put out raging fires doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Little things matter, too.

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