Sunday, May 31, 2009

And so summer begins...

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Four-thirty a.m. As a child, once a year I’d rise to the sound of my parents alarm clock buzzing at the early hour and would shoot from between the sheets as if they were on fire . The alarm went off other mornings, but it’s ringing never meant there was an adventure in store for me. My sister and I would scramble to use the bathroom before our three brothers were shaken from their beds by dad and chased after by mom. Afterwards we’d rip into the outfits we meticulously chosen the night before, grab our suitcases and head to the car. The sky’s center was always as black as the well in the hollow. One star always dangled on the canvas and sky’s lower edge burned with the rising sun.

This event occurred the first weekend of August every year for fifteen years. It was always a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and we called it our summer vacation to ATLANTIC CITY, even though it was the only vacation we ever took.
Within the hour, my two uncles and aunts, and my twelve cousins filled the two cars who met us at the edge of the drive. We, the older cousins, were truly filled with excitement. We had worked doing odd jobs all summer and saved in anticipation of spending our earnings anyway we wanted. I always came home with a ceramic horse.
We never had reservations. While my dad and my two uncles would go inside the hotel and acquire rooms for all twenty-three of us, we’d sit in the car. Our necks grew damp as the morning sun rose and beat down on the car, glaring off its hood. French fries, candy cotton and fish wafted in the air. The buzz of the big city, the roar of the ocean beyond the boardwalk , the call of “Watch the Tramcar, please” made our legs twitch. After a three hour ride, we wanted out.

Three days is what we had to enjoy another world. A world where hundreds of Miss America’s had strolled the boardwalk. Where a white stallion dove into a swimming pool. Three days is all it took to etch into my memory the feel of the hot sand as we hopped toward the cool foam of the waves, the laughter shared as we romped in the ocean and Uncle Lee lost his teeth, and the way my blood rushed searching for my little lost cousin George among the crowd of thousands. To this day, the Coppertone Baby signifies a carefree summer for me and the scent from the lotion will take me back to the innocent time. And, to this day, I haven’t found ice cream sandwiches as good as the ones we devoured on the AC beach, the sandwiches laced with sea salt and sand.

I think I’ll go poolside today and crack the lotion bottle.

I’d love to hear one of your summer vacation memories.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Late

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I’m late. It seems, to me at least, that I’m late more and more often. Maybe not. But it sure as hell seems that way.

Life takes over sometimes and causes us to run behind. Life gets in our way, causes our desires to be on hold and plays havoc with our goals. Life frustrates us, causes us to worry and keeps us up all night. Life can sucky and suck our energy, leaving us drained, unable to think. But life also brings us friends and family, laughter and love.

Deep breath.

Even though life spins us in circles, it’s important to remember to stop and breathe. Slow down, lighten up, chill out and enjoy what life is teaching us. Such as, the circle of life is ever evolving and it’s your turn to step up and take the wheel. The car can be replaced, a life can’t. A closing door opens another, chance to grow and expand our realm of knowledge.
Life is why we exist. And it’s what makes a great story.

So breathe and take notes.

Today, my husband and I are going to work side by side in the yard. It’s opportunity to connect, to talk, to laugh. I’m looking forward to yard work and taking mental notes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Our first steps were probably hard to take. Remember that moment. We clung to a stable element. We looked out into a world where thousands of new adventures waited for us. Our hearts fluttered with exhilaration like a Hummingbird’s wings. Our knees trembled. We hesitated. Our feet felt like they weighed more than our entire bodies.

A quest as old as mankind called again.

We drew a breath and let go of the safe haven. The first shaky step made us hesitate, but we didn’t stop. We sat our jaws, focused and took another—more stable this time. With each step our confidence grew and showed in our smiles. We started our journey. We made one of our dreams come true and we’ve been working at others ever since.

Whatever your dream has been, remember one of the people who played a huge part in encouraging you to step on the path.

My mom is my best friend, and today she will be receiving chocolate and tomato plants.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

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I remember my English professor suggested free writing whenever the cursor blinked.

Hmmmm. Let’s see. Deep breath. Hands on keyboard. Ready.


Okay. Try again. Deep breath.

No. No deep breath. I’m acting like I’m getting ready to jump off a cliff into a rushing river. Like I need to write the next great epic. I’m writing a blog for God sakes. A short piece on my thought for the day. I can do this. Yes I can.

Attitude has everything to do with what we want to accomplish. We’re writers so we’re thinking TASK is writing a novel. Correct? Okay. If we perceive the task as daunting, it will be. And for large percent of the human race, we will quit right there. But if we look at the big picture as the end result and then think okay, what steps do I need to do to accomplish the job, the task becomes manageable.

The thing about breaking the chore into steps is you can have as many steps you feel necessary for you to manage the undertaking. I would freeze up every time I open my laptop and the motto ‘I will write a hundred thousand word novel’ hung over the computer screen. Especially if I saw that dictum every single day for months and months and months. But the mantra ‘Word by word. Line by line. Page by page.’ works great. Writing a page a day is a goal I can handle. It’s a goal I can surpass most days, which drives me to do it again the next day. I still know what my ultimate goal is, but accomplishing the feat in small bits works for me.

In any task, look at it, step back, figure out manageable steps and then get to work. And if you’re stuck, try free-writing.

2009 Golden Heart Finalist