Monday, October 14, 2013

Family Photos and K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

We took family photos this past weekend.  Not the indoor, 'which color butcher paper background would you like', 'tilt your head forward to a twisted neck angle so the flash doesn't create a glare in your glasses', type of photo.  Instead we took those neat, outdoorsy, cutesy photos families are taking these days.  Everyone wears the same color scheme, hair combed, faces washed, a little makeup on Mom's face, you know, THAT type of family photo.  We haven't taken a family photo in quite a few years so it was past due for a new one.  The kids are getting older and will soon be out of the house in college so to preserve our family life, I planned for some picture taking, outside, everyone looking neat and spiffy, just because I wanted to.  Because I'm the mom and I said so!  After it was all said and done, pictures turning out better than I imagined, my husband says, "I felt like a white person taking those pictures."  Gee, thanks for blowing up the whole family feel...  (No offense to my white people who read this.  Probably just one white person but she's my mom so she'll just laugh and then punch my husband in the mouth.)

My good friend who took the beautiful, amazing photos posted one and of course I had to copy it and put it on my Facebook page for everyone to see.  Much to my surprise there were tons of Likes and Comments.  Of course it was one of the pictures of my husband and I kissing and the kids either hiding their faces or looking extremely disgusted.  Ew!!!  Mom and Dad are k-i-s-s-i-n-g!  We were a little uncomfortable with the pose but it turned out great!  My husband's comment?  "Man, the kava guys are gonna give me such a hard time about this one."  Really?  Seriously?  My response, "Tell the kava guys to man up and take these kinds of cute pictures with THEIR families."  Haters!

I thought about family photos and how my family didn't have one with all of us together except when we were really young.  We took one when I graduated from high school and my older brother and sister were home for my graduation.  But that didn't include my dad.  We took a huge family photo about three years ago but that was missing my younger brother and my older brother and his son.  I didn't want that to happen with us.  I love documenting our life and all of its precious moments.  Thank goodness for phones with built in cameras or else I would have missed 90% of our shenanigans! 

In Samoa, you can't go into a family's house without seeing tons of framed pictures on the walls and shelves documenting lives from birth to death, and literally on the death part.  Pictures of people's funerals.  We celebrate and embrace it all!  That's the beauty of our culture and that's the pride I carry with me.  Gone are the days of stoic photos.  Although my great-grandfather's photo with his tuiga is somewhat stoic but I can see a hint of a smile on his face.  As a high chief, he probably had to have that tough guy look but was bursting at the seams to break out into a toothy smile.  My grandmother's photos are mostly calm except for one where she's smiling down at me while I'm screaming my head off wearing nothing but a diaper and a Tahitian raffia skirt.  She's either smiling because as soon as the photo is taken she's anticipating beating the crap out of me.  But my grandmother never hit me, ever.  She would cringe when my mom would spank us so no, that wasn't it.  Could she have been happy that her grandchild was acting like a spoiled brat?  Or did I remind her of someone or something that happened long before that photo was taken?  I don't know.  All I know is that I can look at photos and see her face, anytime, anywhere, and remember the good ol' days.

In the Native American Navajo tribe, they believed when someone's picture was taken, it took a piece of their soul with it.  So many times you'll find them a little hesitant when asked to take photos.  Maybe not the younger generation but definitely with the older folks.  Our Samoan culture?  We are definitely not shy people!  There used to be a palagi man named Keith who lived in American Samoa and he was the local, professional photographer.  At any wedding or big event, if Keith was there you knew it because his name was repeated and called out thousands of times for pictures to be taken of one group of people or another.  Photogenic would be a great word to describe us.  Look at all of the selfies that are posted on Facebook.  No joke!

So back to our family photos.  Since we live in Utah, we had some great shots in the woods and among the yellows and reds of fall leaves.  We also tried some urban looks with a red brick wall and some colored doorways.  All in all, it was a great experience.  My hair behaved, my kids behaved, my husband behaved.  The results?  Photos that are worthy of hanging on the walls of the house that I hope to be purchasing very soon, displayed for any visitor to see, admire, and comment on.  Although the idea and execution of taking family photos seems like a "white" thing to my husband, it is a very Samoan thing to have said pictures adorning our walls.  For future reference...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oh The Things I Used To Do!

As I cruise through Facebook, I'm constantly seeing posts about "if you know what this item is, you're old school" and you'll see a picture of a key to open corned beef cans.  Or the original discipline device and you'll see a picture of a salu or slipper.  Or a list of things you did when growing up and you still turned out okay.  Well, I have my own list of things I did while growing up and if my kids were to do those things now, I would probably have a heart attack.

*Climbing trees.  Really tall trees.  Tall enough where the wind blows and the tree is swaying, partially from the wind, partially from your weight.  Nowadays, I can't even go into a tall building and ride an outside, glass encased elevator without feeling like I'm going to throw up.  My children will climb a small tree in the park and I'm telling them not to fall because I don't have time to go to the hospital.  "The house isn't clean, yet!"
*Racing bicycles down an unpaved, rocky road at full speed.  Flying down the hill and having everyone throw rocks to see if they can hit you.  Or racing with someone else and trying to kick them off their bike so you'll win.  Oh wait.  That might be a village thing.  My kids barely know how to ride a bike and only in the safety of my in-law's fenced-in yard.  With a helmet, pads, and cushions because once again, I don't have time to go to the hospital.  "You need to finish your homework!"
*Playing in the rain and throwing mudballs as a team.  Even when there's lightening.  Just an added bonus if you can dodge that bullet.  Getting hit in the mouth with mud and everyone begging you not to cry because if the grownups hear, we'll all be in trouble.  True story.  The culprit and victim know who they are.  My own children?  Mud?  That's dirty!  And we don't know what elements are in that mud!  And I don't have time to go to an emergency dentist because the mudball had a rock and your teeth are broken.  "I need to do all this laundry now that all of your clothes are covered in dirt, mud and goodness knows what else!"
*Watching karate movies, preferably Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, then practicing the moves outside with siblings, cousins, neighbors.  THEN going to school the next day and comparing your snake style, tiger claw, or drunken monkey with your classmates.  Because more likely than not, they were also studying under one master or another.  If my children were to go to school with their moves, they would be suspended.  Plus, I don't have medical insurance for other people's kids.  "Sorry, Mr. Principal!  How much is their medical insurance?  They don't have any?  Wonderful!"
*Running around the neighborhood at night, unsupervised, playing hide-n-seek, chasing annoying kids, or hiding from other annoying kids.  We have neighborhood kids now that run around at all hours of the night and I'm extremely annoyed.  Because they make a lot of noise.  And where the heck are their parents?  Why aren't they inside doing homework, reading a book, watching movies?  My own kids outside even in the daylight?  You know those stories about kids being taken?  Yeah...  Not happening!
*Riding in the back of a truck, standing up and holding onto the bars (if you're lucky and your truck has them) or just clutching the roof of the cab for dear life.  Or sitting on the edge of the truck, wherever there is room, and once again, holding on for dear life.  Because there are potholes, quick turns, or dogs that may or may not get hit.  My own children in our SUV?  Strapped down with seatbelts, car seats, helmets, blankets, any buffer I can think of to keep them safe and sound.  "No I cannot reach the M&M you dropped on the floor because I'm trying to pay attention to the road and not get into an accident!"
*Walking to and from school everyday, rain or shine.  Of course, now we have to deal with another element that is fairly cold.  Okay, fine.  Someone will pick you up from school.  "Rain is the best, all natural conditioner and unlike the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, you will NOT melt!"

I've run around with no t-shirt until I was 9 years old, pushed wheelbarrows with people riding in them down steep hills, run barefoot through tall patches of weeds, played football in the pouring rain, taken showers outside in cold water, played cricket, dodgeball, lape until it was too dark to see anything, clotheslined people who tried to jump over my head,...  and I turned out okay.  Some days are questionable but mostly okay.  So why am I so overprotective of my own children?

I'm positive we all have stories to tell about our days growing up and what we do with our own children now.  What are some of YOUR stories?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Time to Reflect

I sat watching my 7-year-old as she gathered little leaflets and emptied the seeds into her hand.  We were posted outside of the Junior High/High School waiting for her sisters to finish the school day.  It was in the upper 90s so we moved to the passenger side of the car to avoid direct sunlight.  My youngest decided the car was too hot altogether and asked if she could hang out in the grassy area next to the car.  I sat in the passenger seat, not a place I'm in very often since I'm usually the main driver of the family, and observed as she first discovered the leaves, opened them to find the seeds, then began gathering as many as she could. 

"Look, Mom, my hand is almost full," she held her hand out for me to see from her squatting position.

I smiled and kept looking as she quietly looked for more leaves and more seeds.  She was entranced with this simple piece of nature and then, out of nowhere, a thought hit me.  And I felt like crying.  Not tears of sadness.  The complete opposite.  Reflecting on life and what matters is a rare occurrence.  I use the excuse of being a busy mom and joke about
having one minute of reflecting time in the evening when the house is finally quiet but in all honesty, I don't actually take the time to sit quietly and just observe.  Listen.  Ponder.  Pray.  Watching without saying anything.  Only communicating through gestures and facial expressions.

I've been a mother for 16 years and I never realized how quickly time would fly.  My oldest will graduate from high school next year and the next two will follow fairly quickly.  And soon my house will be empty.  I want to enjoy what is here, right here, right now.  I want to listen to my children laugh, play, tease, and yes, even cry.  Because I am here for them.

Growing up in American Samoa, we had no choice but to leave the island if we wanted to attend a university.  At the time, I was ready to leave and fly on my own.  I was born and raised there only leaving a handful of times to visit the states.  I wanted to experience life and be on my own.  I never once thought how that would affect my mom.  She actually encouraged me to stay for two years and go to the community college but I was not willing to listen.  I wanted to be free!  At the airport when I left for school, a good friend of mine whispered to me, "Could you at least squeeze out a couple of tears and don't look so happy to leave?"  I never would have thought the next few times I visited home I would cry with a passion because I didn't want to leave.  Is that what irony looks like?

Thinking about my own children, and watching them as they grow into amazing young ladies, I realize I need to take the time to watch and listen.  Enjoy the simple wonders of life.  Write everything down.   So when the nest is empty, I can read and remember.  Then call my kids and let them know that I love them.  All day.  Every day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mom, What Should I Do?

"Mom, what should I do about high school and college?"  What a loaded question.  Full of teenage angst.  Stressing me to the fullest extent.  So many answers and yet, I'm a little scared to give advice.  I have so many college students who come into my office and say, "What should I be when I grow up?"  And I can't answer that question.  And I'm not afraid to say those exact words.  I.  Can't.  Answer.  That.  Question.
I don't know what's going on in your head.
I don't know what you're interested in.
I can't guarantee you'll make a lot of money or it will be easy.
What do I do in those situations?  I throw the question right back at them.  "What do you want to do, be, finish, accomplish, achieve?"

I used the same tactic on my oldest daughter when she asked me the loaded question yesterday.  She'll be a junior in high school this year and she's done.  Mentally, she's ready to move forward.  She really is, in the general sense of the word, done with her credits.  She only has a few more classes to take her senior year which wouldn't constitute a full schedule.  I want to tell her don't hurry.  I want to tell her it's not all that being an adult.  I want to keep her my little girl forever.  But reality sets in and I know the time is quickly approaching.  We've talked about taking college classes during her senior year and even discussed the possibility with her school counselor.  Who wasn't very helpful.  And not very encouraging.  (Good thing I'm a college advisor so I can ignore her and advise my daughter on my own.)

We talked about a half and half schedule next year, her senior year.  Half the day at high school, the other half at the college.  We also discussed finishing an Associate's degree before moving on to an out-of-state university.  Yes, you read correctly.  Out-of-state.  University.  Away from me.  Not in Utah.  I'm excited for her.  I'm happy she wants to explore and not get stuck in the same rut, same old crowd, same ol' same ol'.  But inside I'm freaking out.  I can't go one weekend away from my girls without having withdrawals.  To have my oldest child out of state?  Whoa!  I'm going to be the worst basket case EVER!

But, back to the whole school idea.  We went through the whole list of pros and cons.  How beneficial is it to stay all day at the high school your senior year?  Would you be able to handle the college work load?  Do you want to miss out on some things at the high school because you'll be taking college classes?  Do you really want to rush things?  And I believe we (or she) settled on one that fits her.  She loves the thought of the half and half schedule for her senior year.  Since she wants to go out of state, she doesn't have to worry about the extra credits needed for the Utah Scholars program.  She can do what's absolutely necessary to finish high school and already start gathering those college credits.  She's very happy with this decision.  I'm very happy she came to the conclusion on her own after weighing her options.  Of course, as the mind of a teenager works, all of this could change in an instant.  Tomorrow she could be telling me she wants to stay at the high school because she has great friends/classes/programs/boyfriend.  She could scratch the whole plan and just go with tradition.  Either way, I know it will be her decision.  But for now, we can start prepping these last two years of high school with a somewhat solid game plan.  Next on the agenda, driver's license!!!  Sigh...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Queen of my Domain

I have the most I-mazing, Ozum children EVER!!!  I've been working four 10-hour shifts this whole summer and I'm exhausted!  Add the fact that my husband, who was supposed to be responsible for the dinner making, dropped the ball on his end of the bargain, equals a very tired, pissed off ME.  BUT, my children have come to the rescue!

Last night I was about to fall over from lack of rest and my daughters took over the household.  It's really sad considering it was only Monday and I had just begun my week of work, work, work.  My oldest cooked dinner (yummylicious spaghetti!!!), the second worked on laundry, the third did the dishes, the youngest changed out the trash AND massaged my hands.  I mentioned this to a coworker and she said, "Who are you, the queen?"  My answer?  "YEAH!  Queen of my domain!"  As queen, I am forever grateful for the greatest kids on earth.  Tonight?  Did they retreat back into their downstairs girl-cave to watch television and snack while their half-dead, burnt-out mother cooked and cleaned?  They did NOT!  They did the same thing again, this time with a menu of beef soup, the middle two switched jobs, and the youngest changed out trash AND arranged the shoes.  As I sit in my room trying to settle down to go to sleep, I think about my kids and how much I appreciate them. 

They are not perfect.  They don't listen sometimes, choose to ignore a request until I'm yelling so the whole neighborhood can hear me, and they leave a crumb filled, dirty dishes mess in their basement girl-cave.  Despite their flaws, they are well behaved, giggly, helpful children.  They cook, they clean, they make me laugh, they share my love of chocolate, they enjoy movies, popcorn, old school music, visits to the park, swimming, picnics, shopping, ice cream,...  My list could go on forever!  And no matter how tired I am or how tough my day has been, my girls are there for me, making me feel like a queen.  Of my domain.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Music and Me

Music has always been a big part of my life and as a Samoan, I use music with pretty much everything; working, playing, mourning, celebrating, relaxing...  When I think of different times in my life, I can always associate it with music. 

Being the youngest and one of only five youth to participate in the village song/dance for Flag Day celebrations in the late 70s, I remember song practice, dance practice, watching everyone singing and smiling.  I don't remember the songs we sang but I remember the feelings that went through me.  The anticipation of sharing our village pride and talent, being surrounded by the older generation and feeling spoiled, and the excitement of performing for the whole island.  I get goose bumps whenever I hear traditional Samoan songs and I'm transported to those times where I've performed with my village, my school, my family, or on my own as the taupou representative.  My hands start to move on their own, my legs start to twitch feeling the pull to stand up and bust some siva moves...  Of course it's difficult to do that while driving or sitting in my office.  But the feelings are there!

When I hear Cecilio and Kapono (C&K), I think of home.  I think of my older brother and my cousin working around the house doing light maintenance "Tim the Tool Man" chores, and singing at the top of their lungs.  I also cry because my cousin passed away in 1994 and whenever I hear C&K, I see and hear him and my brother laughing, joking around, calling my mom "spaghetti" because of her perm.  Growing up in American Samoa, we only had one AM radio station and besides Samoan music, we listened to a lot of light jazz and Hawaiian jams.  I grew up with not only Jerome Gray, Punialava'a, and Five Stars, but also with C&K, Kalapana, and Melveen Lee.  When I hear that music, I'm transported back to a time that was carefree, happy, where time seemed to stand still.

My high school years were filled with up-to-date music, rap, hip hop, R&B...  Of course this was before internet so what we considered new was actually about 5 years behind the U.S.  We enjoyed our music none-the-less and tried to sing (okay, lip sinc) like Lisa Lisa and dance like Janet Jackson.  I don't know if we came close but we had a blast.  This was our era of growing up, becoming independent, and coming close to the time we would be leaving home.  My own children listen to music from my high school days and I swear they were born in the wrong time period.  They love Debarge, Al Green, Prince, and pretty much all of the "classic" music.  That's when lyrics talked about having fun, enjoying life, and maybe had a splattering of positive messages here and there.  No need for profanity or uncensored talk about sex.  Not that I'm an angel.  I swear worse than a sailor and as an old Samoan woman, I feel like I've earned my stripes to speak more freely about married life.  But back in the day, we didn't need all of that nonsense.  Just pure, clean, happy happy joy joy music!

I was introduced to reggae and alternative rock during my college years.  It started off as an extension of high school with the rap, hip hop, and R&B but branched into new, unchartered territories.  As a Broadcasting major, I worked in the college radio station which played alternative rock music.  A very quick, trial by fire introduction had me hooked on Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, and 10,000 Maniacs.  I'd always sneak in some old school Prince with the heavy guitars (he he he).  I figured it would fit right into the genre.  My husband (boyfriend at the time) introduced me to the reggae scene and by the end of my college years, I installed a reggae segment into the predominantly alternative rock station.  Of course, growing up in American Samoa, reggae signified Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, and UB40.  That was pretty much the extent of my reggae knowledge.  After I created the reggae show, I learned to love reggae artists such as Pato Banton, Mikey Dread, and Luciano.  I think my music interests and growth during my college years is a reflection of what college should be; learning, broadening horizons, and experiencing new things.

Now that I'm older and kind of wiser, I've settled into my dog years and I know what I like.  I like to revert to my old school music, the disco, the R&B, the soft tunes, and of course, the reggae music.  It probably doesn't hurt that I play in a reggae band and am exposed to all kinds of reggae.  And sing the songs.  And listen to study the harmonies.  And go to reggae concerts.  I need the soothing sounds of laid back, island style, go with the flow music to calm the hustle and bustle of American life.  I need to be reminded of home and those easier times where we weren't expected to be rigid and linear.  Time was (and still is) flowing.  So we're notorious for being late.  So what?  When we get to where we're going, we work hard, play hard, laugh loud, love lots.  That's what counts.  And you'll always hear us, doing whatever we're doing, with the music blasting. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Me" Time???

I needed some "me" time so I called in sick to work today.  Okay, I almost said that with a straight face.  The "me" time part, not the calling in sick.  It's summer break, the kids are home, so "me" time is a dream, something that happens in movies when you're rich and have a nanny, or live in a secluded area where the kids learn to grow up fast and fend for themselves.  My "me" time for today?  Staying home making doctors appointments, calling our apartment manager to fix some things in the townhome, having the kids clean out their drawers and put things away in their memory boxes.  At least the cleaning and sorting are activities they can do on their own.  Because they are old enough to get it done.  With little supervision.  So mom can have her "me" time, listening to their conversation, in front of the fan and computer, drinking a soda and eating her peanut M&M's.  Because she needs more calories. 

What would my "me" time look like?  If I were queen of the world?  It would consist of a few hours of writing when a thought sneaks into my mind like a ninja on an assassin mission or screeches into my head like Dom's muscle car in a Fast & Furious movie.  Whichever one comes first.  Of course, without interruption.  Unless someone is bringing me some snacks, on quiet feet, and quickly running out because I'm writing.  Think of me as the lion in the cage at the zoo.  Quickly, quietly, drop off my stuff and run for your life.

My "me" time would be a little extra cash and the family going to a restaurant, other than McD's or any other fast food joint.  Something like Wingers, or Olive Garden, or Red Robin.  I can sit in silence while the kids interact with their dad, telling him stories, and cracking jokes.  No one talking to me, just letting me listen and absorb the good things in life.  My life.  Catching quick smiles from the hubby, making kissy lips while the kids roll their eyes and get grossed out.  That's why we become parents, right?  To gross out our kids and embarrass the heck out of them.

Sitting at the park on a sunny, but not too hot, summer day with a picnic (Subway sandwiches and 7-Eleven treats) having the kids play on the playground or the basketball court or in the sand at the volleyball area.  Watching them quietly.  Wondering where the time has gone.  They are growing too quickly.  Becoming independent, strong, beautiful women.  Once in a while they turn to wave and smile.  Or run to give me a quick kiss and then it's back to playing.  When did my babies grow up?  "Me" time at the park.  Definitely near the top of the list.

A day trip to go hiking at one of the many beautiful, scenic spots in the Salt Lake Valley.  That kind of "me" time where you're one with nature and your kids.  Talking is at a minimum and you can hear the sounds of birds, insects, and your heavy breathing.  Especially if it's uphill.  But it's "me" time so you endure.  When you get to the lookout point, you see the faces of your children light up.  The view is incredible.  You feel like you're on top of the world.  Zeus in his castle in the clouds.  God looking down from heaven.  Tagaloa traveling in the sky across the Pacific Ocean to see his voyaging children.  That's some real, cars look like ants, I can see the whole valley, I can touch outer space, "me" time.

Growing up in a collective, Samoan/Polynesian culture, "me" time consists of family members always around or calling to go somewhere.  It's understanding that having those people around to teach your children Fa'asamoa (Samoan Way) is key to their "me" time.  Because there's really never been "me" time in our culture.  "I" and "me" do not exist.  It's "us" and "we".  When we accomplish great things, it's our family we represent.  When we do something bad, it's our family that suffers.  When is my "me" time?  It's those few minutes at night, when all the kids are sleeping, that I can reflect and be happy knowing my family is taken care of, my children are safe, and another day has gone by with a lot of laughter and love.  "Me" time is giving good night kisses and saying I Love You.  Every night.  "Me" time is teaching my kids respect, values, and culture.  When I'm old and retired, "me" time will be expanded to grandchildren and the continued teaching of ancestry.  "Me" time is knowing you will never be lonely because there are too many people who love you and will do anything to help you.  "Me" time is family.  For always and forever.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Attack of Idea Monster

Do most of your GREAT ideas come during the night when you're fast asleep or in your dreams?  And instead of waking up (at whatever ungodly hour) and writing down those thoughts, you let them simmer and say, "I'll write it down in the morning"?  By morning, those thoughts have vanished into the misty, dream world from whence they came and can only be revisited (sometimes NOT) during that dream state?  As a writer, it's frustrating when I try to re-think, re-dream, re-vitalize to re-create those amazing thoughts I had the night before.

I need to invent a machine that captures my dream/sleep thoughts and write it down before the Idea Monster gobbles them up!

I dream of great story ideas that our Polynesian youth/children can identify with such as living in a new space, moving from the islands to the U.S., incorporating Polynesian legends into modern stories... 
I dream of characters like Uncle Lua who helps his niece adapt to island life.  Or Sela who is afakasi growing up in the islands and struggling with her identity.  Or Big Bad Chief Lino who is harsh on the outside but a teddy bear/protector on the inside...
I dream of places like my island home, the beaches, the breeze, the smell of flowers after it rains, the hard streets of Los Angeles or Rose Park (Utah), the clustering of Polynesians, the mixture of Polynesian by neighborhood or marriage...
I dream of feelings like crying on my grandma's grave when visiting home after being away for twelve years, the safety of that grave and knowing my ancestors are watching over me no matter where I live, the deep love I have for my culture/family/homeland, the sadness I feel when people stop caring, the happiness in a child's smile, the heartbreak of a love lost, the healing after a painful hurt...
I dream in color, black and white, I dream in other languages, well, mostly English or Samoan.  Man, my Samoan is JAMMIN' in my dreams. When I awake, I can't speak it
to save my life.  But I smile...
I dream of happy times where I wake up laughing and feeling content with life.  I dream of scary times where I wake up and walk around the house checking to see if everyone is safe.  I dream of sad times where I wake up and my pillow is wet from the tears I shed.  I dream of being in Utah yet being in American Samoa at the same time.  My current life and old life colliding into a wonderful, connected piece of my life's puzzle.
I dream and I awake with bits and pieces of what could be a great story.  But alas, the Idea Monster must be fed and unfortunately, he feeds on my dreams!

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Suck At Blogging

Top Ten Reasons Why I Suck at Blogging:
10.  I work a full time job and have four children to raise, some who are now teenagers so I REALLY need to be around and involved.

9.  I like to sleep and unfortunately, my creative writing juices don't start flowing until late into the night.  By that time I'm sleeping because I have to go to that full time job I mentioned above.  And I have to actually be coherent at work AND at home.  My brain does not function well on 2 hours of sleep.  Which doesn't work when you have to solve problems, help with other people's writing, assist with homework, and figure out the complicated task of what to cook for dinner.

8.  I can't blog at work.  Not that I can't, but I don't have the time between seeing students, case management, and planning events.  I don't have that quiet, uninterrupted time to really think of something witty, provocative, insightful, or magical to blog about.  Like this list...

7.  My brain is fried.  By the end of the day, all day, every day, my brain ceases to function and becomes a vegetable.  It can only process mindless television shows that require very little thought, or it can only eek out something in the personal journal entry (usually a paragraph with a list of "This is what happened today"), or it can read a book that doesn't take a lot of effort (definitely not a Game of Thrones reading time).

6.  I was introduced to this game on my phone called "Words With Friends" and I've been obsessed with beating everyone on my playlist ever since.  So whenever I check my phone for something, out pops a new challenge and I just HAVE to play my turn. 

5.  I have these life forms called children, in particular a 7-year-old, who can sense when I'm not around.  Like now.  It's 2:45am and she woke up and couldn't find me.  So my thought process was interrupted because I had to let her know I was downstairs.  Writing.  Or trying to write.  So no matter what time of the day or night, I can't seem to find time to write.  Or blog.  Or even think.

4.  I'm an introvert.  I have no problems speaking to people and carrying a conversation but in the end, I need quiet time.  Writing takes some thought so it gets put on the back burner.  Because I'm trying not to have a melt down.  Or get the shakes.  If you're an introvert, you know what I'm talking about. 

3.  I get distracted easily.  Like when I'm thinking of all of the laundry that needs to be washed.  Or wondering if anyone has eaten and should I cook something.  Or thinking about the kids' rooms and how I need to sort through the mess.

2.  I don't have much to say.  Okay, that's not entirely true.  But some of my thoughts are not appropriate for a blog that my family reads.  Those thoughts are not even logged in my personal journal.  They are just tucked away in the back of my brain to be filed and pulled out when I have the time to sort through them.  If I grow old and still have brain power, I might take that opportunity to share those thoughts.  By then, I'll be old (okay, older than I am now) and won't care.  Because I will have lived my life and can be at liberty to say whatever I want.  I'll pull the old, gray hair lady card.  Yup, that's what I'll do.

1.  And the number one reason I suck at blogging...  with the ten billion things I need to do, something has to give.  And blogging is more like a luxury than a necessity.  I'm not even sure how many people read this nonsense, if any.  So, out of my ten billion things, I may pull back on one of them to put blogging in the forefront.  And write more often.  And maybe my one or two readers will be happy with my random thoughts.  Get a laugh or two.  Have an ah-ha moment.  We'll see...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Giving Hope

Picture a 15-year-old daughter (mind you, this is prime time for hormones, anxiety, and emotional outbursts) telling her mother that she gives people 'hope'.  She proceeds to tell her good ol' mom that she has felt that hope when that crazy old lady reads her essays and gives her feedback.  She says, "Mom, you are also a miracle worker.  People come into your office and when they leave, they are so happy and they have that look on their face that says 'everything is going to be fine and I can DO THIS'."  Perfect scenario for a Hallmark movie after years of trials and struggles between mother and daughter?  Great story line for an ABC Afterschool Special on mother/daughter relationships, always after some turmoil or another?  Nope.  None of the above.  This is a real life, feel good moment that had nothing to do with a wayward daughter who has finally found her way.  No drama.  No pretense.  Just out-and-out honesty.  This is what my daughter said to me a couple of months ago.  And I cried.  Normally, I wouldn't mind when I'm bawling like a baby but we were in her school, waiting to meet with her Language Arts teacher for Parent-Teacher conference.  And no, she wasn't sucking up to me because she's failing.  As a matter of fact, she is a straight 'A' student who never causes any trouble, at home or school.  She was just being completely and brutally honest.

As a mother, we always want to know that we 'done good' raising our children.  There are so many feelings of instant gratification early in life when your child tells you that they love you or write you letters about how your the best mom they ever had (compared to the others they had before you???) or even just the hard squeezing hugs that make you feel like you're the most important person in their life.  As your children grow older, the hugs and kisses diminish, the outward display of love is not cool anymore, and you've come down to 'fist bumping' to show SOME sort of affection.  So to have my teenage daughter, on the brink of adulthood, tell me that I'm awesome (okay, I'm summarizing my own way), is that bright light, angels singing, ah-ha moment that says, "All is right with the world and I have succeeded in raising my children."  Oh, wait, there are three more after her.  Shucks!  Back to work...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How the Grinch stole New Years Eve???

Picture in your mind a New Years Eve filled with dancing, laughter, drinking, fireworks...  A New Years Eve celebration to remember ringing in the new year with joy, merriment, and anticipation for what's to come.

Now picture the scene from Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas where he's sucking up all of the gifts, food, decorations, trees, and laughing like a maniac back up to the top of his cold, frozen mountain.  That was my New Years Eve this year.  Grouchy.  Moody.  Negative.  Oh so negative.

I'm a huge fan of the Christmas/New Year's holiday!  I love the decorating, the anticipation of Santa, the time with family and reflecting on what we've accomplished the past year.  But for some reason, this transition into a new year was difficult for me. 

Don't get me wrong.  My kids are healthy, smart, well rounded, and everything I could ask for in my children.  I'm still married to the same man for 18 years.  I work at a job that I absolutely love and I've finally found what I want to be when I grow up.  My life is good.  So what's missing?  Why the feelings of anger and resentment?

I believe a lot of it has to do with my writing.  Or lack of it.  You can see I haven't posted anything since September.  Now that's pretty sad, if you ask me.  Has it been because I don't feel like I have a lot to write about?  I don't have any witty, amazing topic that will knock your socks off?  I haven't finished my book (or barely tackled it) so there's nothing to discuss?  Check, check, and check!

But as New Years Eve's go, I decided to come up with a few (very few) resolutions that I can live with and that will make me happy. 

Resolution 1:  Lose weight.  Probably the top (or at least top 5) resolutions for everyone but I have until August 31st to lose 30 pounds for a free trip to Las Vegas in October for the All Samoan Golf Tournament.  I've missed all of the tournaments so far and you know what?  Golfing makes me happy so I am bound and determined to Get 'Er Done!  Looking good also makes me happy so double whammy!

Resolution 2:  Write on my blog at least twice a month if not more.  If I have nothing stirring in my mind, then read some articles and come up with SOMETHING!  Whether it's witty, thought provoking, controversial, WHATEVER.  JUST WRITE!

Resolution 3:  Keep working on my book.  During this holiday break, I was able to sit for one day for six hours and just write.  No interruptions, no distractions.  I wrote 12 pages.  Hey, only 100+ more pages to go, right?  Not bad!

So, instead of being angry with the Grinch, like some of the people in Whoville were at first, I will think like Cindy Lou Who and remember that New Years Eve is not about the parties.  It's not about the fireworks or the merriment.  It's about being with the ones you love, being safe, and knowing that there are so many things to look forward to in life.