What I Do

Jenni asks, "If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?" 

If I can leave my title and job description out of the answer, I think I should be able to completely ignore that thing I do that helps pay the bills and put food on the table. Sure, I go there and perform the same duties every weekday for 8-9 hours at a time, but it's not what I really do.

What I really try to do is enjoy the moments.  If I've learned anything in recent years, it's that tomorrow is not promised.  Things change, people change, circumstances change.  Enjoying what you've got while you've got it is oh, so important.

Be silly.  Dress up.  Have a little zany fun. 

Ren Festival
80s Festival

 Vacation with people you love.




Cedar Point
Waiting for the AmTrak

Get your picture taken with Santa.


Hang out with friends & family just for the heck of it.

Schoolin' the nephew with my dance moves.

Tammy comes home for a visit...sounds like a good reason to go out to eat.

Visiting the bar with the scrapbooking crew.

Sugarland concert with my sister.

Find time for yourself.

This one is hard to find pictures of because, well, I'm by myself!  Still, I did manage to find a picture of me enjoying a warm summer day under the camper canopy.  

Reading self-portrait.
Finally, take lots of pictures!

Day 5 - 6 Days Late

When we get to the "your three worst traits" post in the May Challenge, writing consistently will have to be right at the top of the list.  Luckily, the topic for what should have been May 5th's post is a little less painful than admitting my flaws, of which there are many. 

Therefore, today, I bring you a fellow blogger that I stalk follow.  Maybe you already know of her and her blog.  In print, she goes by many names: S.L. Viehl, Gena Hale, Jessica Hall, Lynn Viehl, and Rebecca Kelly.  Her blog posts are signed Lynn Viehl.  Strangely, this is not the first name that associate with this particular writer, though.  In the writing community where we first met, I knew her by an altogether different name. I'm not sure if that name is fit for public consumption  though, so we'll leave Lynn as Lynn and move on to her website and why I love it (and her) so much. 

First and foremost, she keeps it real.  I'm sure there's a lot that she doesn't share with masses, but what she does share certainly comes across as sincere.  She doesn't try to glamorize the writing profession.  Upon occasion she might even get a little snarky.  Have I ever mentioned my appreciation of snark?  

I also appreciate the fact that she is willing to share more than just her writing life.  Her posts are not of the "buy-my-book" variety.  Even when she is announcing a new release, she's very matter-of-fact.  In short, her blog is not simply a marketing tool.  It's another writing outlet, a creative space where she shares many different elements of her life and experiences. 


Why I Love This Quote

I fell in love with this quote when my oldest was just a wee little dude still in diapers.  As a new mom the words resonated.  I'd say the reaction was hormone-fueled, but the truth is I still feel this way.  

Things That Make Me Uncomfortable

The challenge for day 3 is to talk about things that make me uncomfortable.  
  1. Road Rage.  While this is not something I do, it is something I've seen in others.  It not only makes me uncomfortable, it scares me.  Maybe I've seen too many episodes of Criminal Minds, which has resulted in my cynical view that most people are C-R-A-Z-Y, but I'm always afraid the other guy could be armed and dangerous.  
  2. Space invaders.  No, not the little green men from Mars kind.  I'm talking here about people who get into my bubble.  What can I say? I like a little bit of elbow room!
  3. Making it public.  I don't like arguing in general, but make it a public argument and I'm wishing I was anywhere but there, even if I'm not directly involved.  Disagreements between family members should take place in the privacy of one's home, not in a crowd.  Oh, and snide remarks are no better. They may be presented as a joke in some passive/aggressive maneuver, but they have the power to make everyone just as uncomfortable as a full-blown fight. 
  4. Singing happy birthday in public.  My voice is not pretty.  When alone in the car, I crank the music until I can't hear myself singing along. So the idea of singing happy birthday out in public...yeah, that's not happening. 
  5. Racist, homophobic, or generally insensitive remarks.  I don't think they're funny or warranted.  Do I really need to explain this one?
I'm sure the list could go on and on, but those were the first five that occurred to me.  

Whew!  Glad this post is behind me!

What I Know or Do Well

This post is supposed to highlight something I do well or know a lot about.  On the surface this seems easy enough. I mean, I know stuff.  I do a lot of stuff, some of it even successfully.  After all, the kids survived infancy and early childhood, I've held a steady job, earned almost all straight As through my undergrad and graduate work (there was an A- in the bunch), I read a lot, I research things that interest me, I take pictures, write stories, and scrapbook.  Yet, I don't really have any profound insight or sage advice to offer.  I'm not an expert in any one field.

I am passionate about many things, though.  So, for the purpose of today's challenge, I'm going to focus on reading.

 Read indiscriminately. 
Challenge yourself to try something new.  

I was a voracious historical romance reader for many, many years.  I read nothing else.  I went from swashbuckling pirates to arrogant lords of the realm to Indian braves.  Not a single story set in the modern era, or even the very recent past, made its way into my hands.  I knew what I liked and I stuck with it.

Captive Bride  The Wolf and the Dove  The Black Swan

Sometimes, though, when in desperate need of reading materials, one has to make due with what is on hand. I've mentioned before that my parents were divorced.  Both my step-mom and mom were voracious readers, but their taste in books were far different.  My mom could not see the appeal of historical romance novels.  So, when the summer months came and us kids were relocated to her house, I lost my access to historical romances and had to content myself with the titles found on my mom's bookshelves.

I'm so glad.  I don't know if I've told my mom that, but it's true.  I'm glad she had different reading preferences because it forced me to read genres I would have otherwise dismissed in preference for the tried-and-true historical romance.  On her shelves I found familiar childhood titles like The Black Beauty and Harriet the Spy, but those aren't the books I think of when I remember those summer months.  Instead, I'm reminded of Stephen King and V.C. Andrews.

Skeleton Crew Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger, #1)

It's surprisingly difficult to remember when and where a new genre was discovered.  Was it my mom who also introduced me to fantasy?  It's possible.  As the years passed, her reading preferences changed, too.  She cycled away from horror stories and started reading historical fiction (remember that impossibly thick book, Sacajawea, mom?).  Then she started reading fantasy novels - Xanth - and even a classic or two.

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth, #1)

She'd make recommendations and I would take a chance.  I discovered historical romances were still fun to read, but that I actually found other genres more to my liking, especially as I got older.  Fantasy became a new passion.  Then science fiction.

Most recently, thanks to my latest round of schooling, I've discovered my preconceived notions of "classics" were preventing me from discovering wonderfully told stories.  Then again, I have also read a few clunkers, but at least I know not to judge the entire "classic" genre by one book or even one given author.

So that's my advice, dear reader: Read indiscriminately.

My Story

I am really enjoying BlogLovin.  I can't even tell you how I've discovered some of the great blogs I've discovered, but one of them has inspired today's post.  The author, Jenni, challenged her fellow bloggers to post every day in May.

Challenge accepted!  

Technically, this post should have gone up yesterday, but I already had A Doggy Walk ready to go.  It felt time sensitive, even though it probably wasn't, so I decided I'd play catch up on the challenge.  Expect two posts today.   

Here goes...my life in 250 words or less. 

I am the oldest of five children.  Two brothers, two sisters.  We grew up in a three bedroom ranch on a back country road surrounded by few neighbors and lots of trees.  The ten acres my dad had bought off my great-grandpa back in the early 70s butted up against State Land.  To say we spent a fair amount of time in the woods and skirting the cattail-ringed ponds would be a gross understatement.  

My parents divorced when I was ten.  Unlike most children of divorce back in those days, we lived with our dad.  Mom moved to what we thought was the big city at that time, but in reality turned out to a be a slightly larger town than the one near our house.  Despite the uncertainty and changes that come with divorce, I think our childhood was actually pretty stable.  We had a center.  Our weekends and summers might have introduced us to new towns and new kids, but we always had our home to come back to when the visits ended.  

This home not only had my dad, but my step-mom, too.  She was the one to introduce me to historical romance novels, pop music, and fashion.  I'm not sure the fashion lessons worked.  In fact, I'm sure my sister would say they had not.  Be that as it may, my step-mom (I called her mom, mind you, and am using step-mom only for clarity's sake) was a huge influence on the person I am today.  She was strong-willed, independent, loving, and full of life.  I like to think I picked up a few of those traits during those very impressionable years.  I know was deeply affected by her never-wavering support of my reading and writing habits. 

As a teenager I also happened to meet and fall in love a boy named Ken.  Six years later were married, buying a house in Flint, and spending our weekends with the same small group of friends.  After high school, we both attended and graduated from the same two-year college.  We worked jobs we loved and jobs we hated before ending up in our current positions at the university.  It was only then that we decided to start our family.  

I was twenty-four when I had my first baby, a boy with a surprising amount of dark brown hair. Going back to work after he entered our lives was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I so wanted to stay home with him and be a full-time mommy.  The only problem was that I didn't want to raise him in Flint and it would take two incomes to get out of the city and back to our country roots.

It wasn't long after the arrival of our second baby - another boy with a thatch of sandy brown hair - that we could afford to buy some acreage in my old hometown.  By the time this latest addition to the family was a year old, we were ready to move into the two-story Cape Cod my husband had helped build.  We spent a lot of time apart that year - him at the house, me at home in Flint with the two boys.  It was difficult, but well worth the effort. 

It's been twelve years and we're living in the same house.  During those twelve years I've managed to work a full-time job, complete both my Bachelors and Masters programs, and even self-published a paranormal romance novel.  I've made new friends, lost people close to me, and learned how to live with disappointment. Life has not always been easy, but it has been bearable because of the people in it.  Without my husband, my boys, our friends and family, life would not be nearly so good as it is. 

That's more than double the word count needed!  Oh, well. 

A Doggy Walk

I don't want to speak too soon and risk the return of winter, but I really think spring has arrived.  Sure, we'll probably have some cold, rainy days in our near future.  We may even have to wear our winter coats - or at the very least our fall jackets - and crank the heater in the car on the way to and from work a handful of times.  

But, this.  This tells me spring is here and summer must not be too far behind. 

Given the warm temps, budding leaves, and the months of cabin fever in our not-so-distant past, I couldn't resist packing up the pup and taking him for a long overdue walk.  While my oldest boy opted out of our little adventure, my youngest was up the challenge.

This is what happens when I ask the boy to smile.  He looks slightly unhinged, doesn't he?  Silly kid.

Here's the boy trying to keep Dexter the Devil Dog out from underneath some unwary cyclist's tires.  It probably wasn't a necessary precaution, though, as the pup seemed unperturbed by the bikes.  Now, roller blades were another story.  He actually growled at someone!  Not that his growl is much to be feared.  I wonder if the guy even heard it.  

After walking down to the first crossroad, the boy and I switched job duties.  I handed over the camera and he handed over the leash.  It started out well enough with a nice leisurely walk.  

But then the boy discovered the fun that is the sports setting with its continuous shooting mode.  Let's just say I did a lot of running!

You may have also noted the differences in our wardrobes.  When we left the house I told him I thought one of us was either under-dressed (him) or over-dressed (me).  Guess who was wishing she had worn a t-shirt at the very least and left her sweatshirt at home on the shelf where it belonged?  That's right.  This girl.