Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018.

Every December, I think about how I want to do something better the next year. 2017 was no different. Like I told my friend, Jamie, on Twitter, I feel like I’ve wasted so much time this year – being angry, zoning out, being frustrated, doing too little of consequence and too much of nothing.

So I’ve decided for 2018 to focus on the word CREATE. I want to create a better life for Riley and me and that starts with these three things: Home, Health, Hustle.

Home — Create a good home life for Riley and me. Improvement projects. More dinners in. A better, less expensive place.

Health — Create the body, mind and soul I want. Workout. Devotionals. Journal. Meditate.

Hustle — Create the career I want. Writing. Designing. Editing. Consulting/mentoring related to hearing loss, cochlear implants and IEPs and therapy and teaching kids to advocate for themselves. What else?

Writing and blog ideas: I’ve read and enjoyed books related to music, both fiction and nonfiction, and I want to share my thoughts here. I don’t know if that would be something anyone would read, but it’s something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while. I’ve read bios of Rod Stewart and Rick Springfield, and Elvis, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Duff McKagan are on my To Be Read shelf. I’m also interested in Slash and Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and Keith Richards and Loretta Lynn.

Then there are the Rob Sheffield books about how music has shaped his life. And the fictional “Grace & The Fever,” inspired by author Zan Romanoff’s affinity for Hanson and One Direction, and revolving around internet fandom and what happens when you meet the object of your desire.

And I just started “Good Booty” by Ann K. Powers– a look at how music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs about social issues, especially sex and race.

I have essays that I’d like to sell. I haven’t finished (or started really) any of them–they are mostly just outlines.

Anyway, it’s a new year and I want to create. Instead of making resolutions, I’m going to use the following from The Universe as a guide:

  1. Give thanks that your life is exactly as it is.
  2. Decide that 2018 will be the happiest year of your life yet.
  3. Every day, follow your heart and instincts down new paths.

Happy 2018! Now, let’s get a good night’s sleep and wake up ready to create the world we want to live in.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

(originally published Dec. 4, 2016)

While driving to my parents’ house this weekend, Riley and I talked about what Christmas was like when I was growing up. It was always happy, warm and fun for us kids.

This post is about my mom’s side. I’ll talk about my dad’s side in the next post.

I have a big extended family: My mom has seven siblings, and of the eight kids, seven have two or more kids. Plus Granma Teda’s three siblings and their kids. On Christmas Eve back in the day, we’d gather around 2 in the afternoon at Granma’s little concrete-block, two-bedroom, kitchen, den, zero-bath house. If we had to relieve ourselves, we’d head through the kitchen to the back porch, lock the kitchen door, lock the storm door to the outside, then hover over one of the two 2-gallon chamber pots. Granma didn’t have a bathroom until the early ’80s, and that’s just how it was.

We drew names at Thanksgiving, so we had a month to find the perfect gift for our person. As we walked in at Granma’s on Christmas Eve, we’d deposit our presents under the tree My Favorite Thingsin the den. By the time we all showed up, the den was a sea of gifts, leaving just enough space around the edges to walk through the door or pick our way to the white leather couch.

We kids would run around outside (cold or not) while the moms and aunts and grandmothers got the food ready. The men? Well, in between sneaking out to a truck for a nip or two of George Dickel, they watched football on TV.

Of course, we couldn’t open presents until after we’d eaten and the kitchen was cleaned up. Turkey and dressing, ham, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole, yeast rolls, desserts, desserts, desserts.

Then … it was time! Granma would hold court next to the tree. She’d reach under, grab a gift and read: “To 4cc10-dsc02465Tiffi, From Stephi” or “To Michael, From Vashon” or “To Lindy, From Tony” or “To Wesley, From Sherri.” Squeals of delight pealed through the house as we opened Barbies, albums (yes, vinyl), and Nerf guns or Lincoln Logs. The adults’ laughter mixed in with our mirth–there was always a gag gift like the “Golfer’s Ball Washer,” which consisted of a jock strap and a small brush.

After opening presents, we’d crank up Elvis on the record player and dance the night away, while the grown-ups played Rook. We never noticed the men leave, but when we got home around 2 a.m. we always noticed that Santa had been there.

We’d play with our toys until we could barely hold our eyes open. Then Mom and Dad would tuck us in our warm beds and we’d fall asleep, content and happy.

Though Granma passed away in January, she lives on for me in the memories of these Christmases Past at her little concrete-block house with no bathroom.

 

More Than Words

This was the question of the day at Writer Mama for her big back-to-school giveaway. I enjoyed answering it, so I thought I’d post it here.

My top three writer role models

1. Anne Lamott taught me in “Traveling Mercies” that I don’t have to be perfect for God to love me. She shares her imperfections, and it turns out those are things that make her beautiful. Writing is not about getting it just perfect; it’s about getting it perfectly you.

2. Brenda Ueland‘s “If You Want to Write” is one of my favorite books. I stumbled on it in a used bookstore in Dallas; the previous owner had highlighted many phrases and I’ve added to it. Brenda’s wisdom holds true: Know that you have talent, are original and have something important to say.

3. Sassy magazine from the late 80s and early 90s was my inspiration to be myself – in my writing, in my dress, in my beliefs. I regret that I didn’t keep all my back issues. Sassy spoke to me like no other magazine before or since. I loved it so much that at my prom as a junior the seniors “willed” me a lifetime subscription. Anyone know how I can cash in on that? 🙂

Later …