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30 Day Writing Challenge-Five Fears

This challenge freaks me out because it’s personal. Five fears … the challenge is about your greatest fears but I don’t know if I can dig quite that deep. We’ll see how far I can go. 

  1. I’m with AK Lawrence on two of hers. The first one is snakes. Snakes, rats, mice; basically anything creepy crawly. Even though I live a little rural, I’m a city girl at heart!
  2. The second one is the fear that nobody will ever read my books, which is silly because I have wonderful readers. I think this is every author’s fear and that I would’ve be a normal writer if I wasn’t plagued by self-doubt. 
  3. My children will hate me. They love me now, but I haven’t made any major mistakes yet. I know that as they get older, I’ll have more opportunities to really mess up and it scares the crap out of me. The what-ifs plague me every day and I worry that one day they won’t let me know them anymore. I remind myself to do my best, love them with my whole heart, and not allow my fear to paralyze me.
  4.  Heights. I’m afraid of climbing up and down tall ladders. I don’t mind airplanes or elevators or looking out of windows from tall buildings, but you’ll never catch me sky diving or standing untethered from great heights. 
  5. Vulnerability. This is the only deep fear I’ll share here. My writing makes me vulnerable which can be terrifying, but I share it because it’s good for me. I write because it’s healthy, less expensive than therapy, and more effective. I know that sharing my words opens me up and pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but I know that I need to.

I have many other things I’m afraid of but can’t bring myself to share for fear that they’ll come true. This is about as deep as I can get … the question is, what are you afraid of? 

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Being a Mom

Being a mom is one of the best decisions I’ve ever been fortunate enough to make. 

My husband and I toyed with the idea of being DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). We dreamt about it, wrapped our brains around the idea and fantasized about all of the money we’d have, until suddenly we’d worn it out and realized we were two people who were born to be parents. He’s Mr. Responsibility and  I’ve always been maternal (read-bossy yet affectionate) so the concept of parenthood  was an easy one to commit to fully. We understand how fortunate we were to have parenthood come to us when it did because while we weren’t too much older as new parents, we weren’t in our twenties either. In fact when my youngest was born, I had moved into a higher risk category because of my age and every medical professional reminded me of that, much to my dismay. 

Flash forward a decade later and I’m incredibly thankful for my two funny, loud, interesting kiddos. But let’s be honest. Sometimes being a parent is very hard and we lose ourselves in the idea of being the “perfect parent.” We are utterly  disappointed and defeated when we fall short and question whether we should’ve ever been allowed to have children in the first place. I remember just how much I cried when I wasn’t able to breastfeed, despite numerous experts and  failed efforts. I was sure that I was failing at the first task of motherhood and I was devastated. When my best friend who had breastfed both of her children with ease for the first year of their lives, told me that I was okay, I finally stopped beating myself up and allowed myself to enjoy my baby. Despite everything I had read, there were no bonding issues, no health issues, and both will likely be far more intelligent than I am.  

There have been countless other failures since then, like baby food in a jar (not homemade), forgetting pajama day (I took them back up), store-bought bakery (I’m a hot mess with flour and eggs), and the list goes on. I don’t buy organic anything, i fail at anything crafy, and I work too much many crazy hours to participate in the PTA. 

In spite of my many mommy fails, my children remain my most important thing.

But even though I’m a mom, I’m also a wife, a full-time professional, and a writer which means that  I still struggle with myself,  even about the important things. I recently had to cancel a book event that I’d committed to last year, when my son’s baseball tournament schedule came out. Their one tournament fell on the weekend of the event and  there was a small voice that whispered “Sorry kiddo, I won’t see you pitch/play on the Saturday of your tournamen.” But within a second, the the mom in me squashed that little voice and reminded me that these years pass so quickly. I always know that my children comes first. 

I always try and remember that when your little, everything in the world is big and while missing one day of games may not be huge for me, it could be monumental for him. While I’ve missed a few games due to work or my other son being sick or having a game, I’ve never missed anything as big-time as a tournament. What if he hit a home run or pitched an amazing game? Life’s moments are just too fleeting anf the memory of a child can be long and unforgiving, which I know from experience. 

Being mom means I also don’t get to write whenever I want or do what I want the moment I want to do it. It means that cuddle time precedes any and all else, and that spending time with my children and teaching them to be unselfish begins with me not being selfish. It means that I still get to be an adult but that I need to remember what it’s like to live in a world where your parents are your most important people. I need to remember that being there when they need me or want me for as much of their childhood as I can, is half the battle. Already  their childhood is slipping away and I’m looking at two boys who, in a few short years,  will be young man who won’t need or want me around as much as they do now. 

That’s why, for now, I’m good with just being mom. It’s not all of  me, and they both know this. But it’s the most important part of what I get to do right now.

I’m not perfect and I suck at a lot of mom-related things, I give them too much sugar and not enough vegetables, I work a lot and we eat too much carry-out food. I can be too distracted and cranky when I’m trying to finish a chapter, but for the small things, I always try to be there. If they can see how important all of the small things have been to me, when they’re bigger, and their lives and problems are bigger, I hope theyll see that I’ll be there for those moments too. 

Being Patient 

Being a writer has taught me patience, a virtue that I’ve been sorely lacking my entire life. 

 I’ve always been a driven person getting results through hard work and determination. Moving quickly, taking risks, and being decisive have served me well in life. 

Yet having patience has always taken a back seat and been sorely underrated. 

Then I had children and patience began to rear its elusive head and j have learned to stop, breathe, and then proceed. Now as a writer, I find it encompassing me even more. 

With a life that is consumed by a full-time career, two active boys, sports schedules, marriage, and family, the stories that are begging to be written often take a back seat. Days will go by without a written word until I’m ready to implode, but instead, I am patient. 

The writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I wrote Leaving Eva and self-published it in2013 (later republished by Booktrope Publishing in 2015). Even when I first began, I was impatient with myself when I started to write a book. I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible so I could get on to the next one but over time but I’ve learned not to rush the process and to allow myself to experience it, instead. Three books later, as I prepare to finish my fifth, Saving Eva,  I know that I could write so much more if only I had more time. I would be able to refine my skill, sharpen my prose, and perfect my craft. When I pick up a story that I haven’t worked on in weeks, much of the time is spent reacquainting myself with it, much like an old friend I having seen in a long time. 

Through this process, I have grown patient. 

I’m patient because I love my family and I have the luxury of loving my job and the people I work with. I’m patient because I’m not well-known and there isn’t a lot of pressure, and I’m not in great demand. I’m patient because my characters don’t always speak to me and sometimes I have to give them time to breathe so we can figure out what they’ll do next. Much like me, they need time, and I’ve learned to be patient with them and with myself. 

This journey of book writing, blogging, and authoring has only just begun for me even though I’m a lot older than I would’ve liked to be when it began. But I’ve learned that I can learn experience new things, challenge myself in ways I’ve never imagined, and that I’m not nearly complete. 

Time flies entirely too quickly and if I’m at too much of a hurry to get to the destination because I know that I’ll just miss too much a long the way. So I’m happy with where I am and the path that I’m on. As a writer, I’m challenged but not yet complete. 

And I am thankful that I have become a great deal more patient and am far happier.

“The Talk”

“They” say that you need to have “The Talk” with your children at around the age of ten these days!

Um… Eeeeeeek!

I’m pretty sure that I never had anyone give me “The Talk.” My “Talk” consisted of “Don’t do it. Until you’re married. Ever.” And that was is. What I learned about sex as an adolescent was anything that could be read in a Jackie Collins novel or learned in health class . It just wasn’t a topic that was talked about which seems to be the general consensus of most people around my age.

But as my oldest has reached that milestone of double digits, my husband and I are basically playing “rock, scissors, paper” to see who gets to have that conversation. I think he should have it because he’s the man and has the same “equipment” as my son, and he thinks I should have it because… let’s be honest, I’ll handle it better. Truthfully, neither of us want to have it and as two intelligent adults are being pretty squeamish about it. I’m not sure if it’s our own fear, awkwardness, or embarrassment or if it’s just that we want our son to remain young, sweet, and innocent forever. (I’m going with the first one)

We do know that the moment we walk through that door, there’s no turning back. Once he knows about where babies really come from, he’ll never see the world (or us) the same ever again. He may even be horrified at the mere thought of it, which would be quite fine with me.

What I really want to tell him that he’s entirely too young to think about anything other than baseball, Play Station, and sports, and then I don’t want to tell him anything else about it. I still want him to think that girls are “disgusting and stupid” and I want him to wrinkle his nose in disgust when we ask him if he likes any of the girls in school. Quite frankly, I’m not ready for him to grow up and  I don’t want to worry about those things yet.

I know that I don’t JUST want to talk to him about the sex part. I want to talk to him about love and that’s it not simply about touching a girl because he can. I want to tell him that his body is going to do weird stuff in the next couple of years, but “not to worry” and that it’s just part of growing up. Having “The Talk” means that sooner than later, I’ll have to worry about sexting, and porn, and inappropriate behavior. I’ll also have to worry about hormones, moodiness, and his sweet little voice getting deeper. I know  I’ll have to be diligent in identifying skanky little girls who want to move too fast, and be prepared to terrorize them when necessary, which I’ve been dreaming about ever since my boys were born (insert evil laugh here).

Even though it’s right around the corner I’m not ready for acne, and attitude, and being questioned about my level of intelligence by the child that I created in my own body. I’m just not ready and I’m so frustrated about it because ten years has just gone entirely too fast! It snuck up on me and I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon.

Dang it!

I can’t consider having this conversation with him until I accept that he’s growing up, and have I already said that I’m just not ready? Does it sound like I’m throwing a temper tantrum? Because I am! I’m too emotionally attached and even though I still have another eight years to go until high school graduation. I’m so disturbed that we are well past the midway point with him and that the youngest son is following closely behind.

I feel as though by the time I truly get to know them and understand them, they’ll be off to college starting a whole new world, becoming something else entirely. Then the person I’ve been for the past ten years is going to be hopelessly lost and yes, I’m already lamenting about having Empty Nest Syndrome with nearly a decade left. But look at how rapidly this decade has flown by!

I know… I know… I’m making having “The Talk” all about me when it’s clearly not, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s really about preparing my kiddo for the next phase in his life and it’s not his fault that his mom is a wimp.

What everything boils down to, is, that I’m just not ready to have “the talk” even though I’ve been giving myself pep talks for months. I thought I would be ready by the end of the summer and that I could do it before school starts, but school starts in two weeks and I haven’t worked up enough courage yet, but I’m working on it.

Being a parent means that you have to be brave… so I’m going to stop whining, pull up my big girl pants, and look for opportunities to start teaching my kiddos about the things that make me incredibly uncomfortable. Chances are, we’ll all be uncomfortable, but at least I’ll have done my job and hopefully my child will be benefit. He’s ten for goodness sake and just told us that he only weighs fifteen pounds when he’s sitting on the toilet, because little boys do silly things like that. He doesn’t take himself too seriously yet so neither will I. I’ll explain things to him like he’s ten and not twenty, and let him know that we’re here for questions and concerns. So hopefully when he starts morphing and his body becomes one big uncontrollable hormone, at least he’ll know that the lines of communication are open.

And by then, hopefully I’ll be over my tantrum and well over myself so I can be the adult parent that I’m supposed to be guiding my children and preparing them to understand themselves and make good decisions about their sexuality and their lives, no matter how freaked out it makes me.  For now I’ll just relax, and try to figure out how a ten year-old will understand  “the Birds & the Bees.”

I probably just need to have faith that I’ve done a pretty good job of explaining life to them this far and I’ll probably do this part just fine too. 😉

Ten Vacation Lessons

We recently experienced our first big away vacation. While we’ve had a lot of stay-cations and a few smaller road trips, for many different reasons we’d not yet experienced the true “road trip” as a family. When I was younger I did a lot of road-tripping on my own and with friends  but as a mom with younger kids, we’ve stayed homebound for many years for many reasons.

  It’s been entirely too long since I’ve laid on a beach or sat in the sun pretending not to have a care in the world. But going far away from home on vacation reminded me of a few things, so I thought I would share them.

  1. I have new respect for the hot-spot. The mobile hot-spot to be more specific. I don’t know who decided that giving phones the ability to share the Internet with multiple devices would be a good idea, but I’d like to give that person a big, fat, sloppy kiss and hug. Having three children who are kept occupied with Internet access is priceless. It sure beats playing “I Spy”, the license plate game, and breaking up endless fights about “who is touching who.” While we still did some of all of that, they were able to occupy themselves for the most part while still interacting and watching the scenery around them when it got interesting.
  2. Travelling with four males is both funny and smelly. I’ll spare you all of the gross details, but if you’ve ever lived with one male, multiply it times four and you’ll understand what I mean. There was a lot of inappropriate joking, bathroom jokes, and multiple inquiries of “Who farted?” 
  3. This brings me to the third thing. After being trapped in a car for twenty hours and sharing a bathroom with all of these males, I’m reminded that I’m thankful that I can’t smell. Anything. Ever. Enough said.
  4. Humidity and bathing suits are not my friend. While my Asian skin loves the sun and soaks it up turning it golden brown, I also sweat profusely from  the top of my head like a man. This has always been embarrassing, incredibly un-ladylike and very unattractive. Gross! I hear Botox cures this which is would be the only reason to consider Botox. After all, I’ve earned my wrinkles but I don’t like literally melting when it’s the least bit humid. And while I’ve somewhat accepted that the days when throwing on a bathing suit didn’t give me complete and utter anxiety, are long gone, I also realize it’s up to me to take some personal responsibility. I can’t just throw in the towel and blame it on age and gravity.  I need to eat better, and work out. Period. No excuses.
  5. The world is really big and it’s my responsibility to teach my kids about its vastness and their place in it. While I don’t ever want to imagine a time that they aren’t near me, I don’t want them to live their lives feeling limited. I want them to feel the amazing, incredible, and endless possibilities of what their young lives can’t yet imagine. I want them to truly feel that the world is their oyster and that they can go anywhere in it and be anything they want to. By exposing them to a bigger world and showing them bigger things, hopefully they’ll understand that. I want them to imagine big things for themselves.  
  6. Going below an 1/8th of a tank of gas when you’re in the mountains and have no idea where you are going, in the middle of a thunderstorm, is going to guarantee a marital spat no matter who you are. Period. Always fill your tank when you have the tank because sometimes taking that risk causes unnecessary stress.
  7. Fun is what you make it! After you’ve nearly run out of gas in the mountains in the middle of a thunderstorm and gotten into a spat with your spouse, making fun of yourself for freaking out during the rest of your vacation is pretty funny. The sooner you can start laughing about it, the better. Truly this is something to remember in life. Attitude is completely a choice in most situations and while being lost in unfamiliar territory sometimes isn’t a choice, how you deal with it most definitely is.  
  8. My children are not perfect. It’s not that I didn’t already know this but when you love them so much, it’s easy to overlook their faults. Seeing them in different situations reminded me that it’s up to me to continue challenging them, encouraging them, and looking for opportunities to help them build their character.
  9. My children are so different from one another, yet so amazing and I can’t wait to see what they will become. Watching them experience new adventures and enjoy life with one hundred percent effort and joy is such a wonderful thing to watch. 
  10. Taking a vacation is good and necessary. It clears out the cobwebs and rests your body. I was reminded of how much I love to swim, even though I haven’t really done it in a very long time (see number four). I’ve been a swimmer since I was a kid, even life guarding for a summer in college, and I love it. Vacation reminded me that I don’t ever want to take a vacation that doesn’t involve swimming again. Lying in a pool in the middle of the mountains does something for the soul that no stay-cation gas ever done. Going away on vacation, unplugging from life for hours at a time, gave me such peace of mind and erased some of the stress from an otherwise tense and frustrated body.   

While I realize that going away isn’t always possible, the act of unplugging, de-stressing, and indulging in your family is priceless. We spent many moments escaping the heavy responsiblities of regular life, laughing at the most random things, and actively “freezing the moment” so we could remember our time together. It’s important to focus on the good moments and not dwell on the bad or the mundane. Thinking about the laughter and the good times in life get us through the more difficult times, until you can get to the good ones again. And time spent together can ultimately bring you closer when you let it.

While none of these are earth-shatteringly new revelations, they have been refreshing reminders. And I will hold onto them until the next time we go away, because there will definitely  be a next time. 

For the health of my mind and body, that is also my choice. 

The Beauty of the Young Reader

There is something very special about children who read. 

Both of my boys are very good readers… now. But it didn’t come naturally which surprised me  because as a child I was inexplicably drawn to books. I devoured  so many that I can’t even come close to remembering them all. Some of my fondest memories are of walking to the local library and taking out as many books as they would let me. I remember going through the aisles for what seemed like minutes when it was probably more like hours, trying to figure out which book I would read next. 

I would pull my favorites off of the shelves: Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the Sweet Valley High Series, Nancy Drew, VC Andrews, Mythology, Anne Rice… re-reading the books I’d already read, the ones I really loved. I spent hours and hours reading, imagining and becoming  the characters, all the while living and breathing with them. Reading was a way of life. I loved books so much that my punishment was that my parents would send me outside and ban me from books for the afternoon!

I hate to admit there came a decade in my life when I forgot my love for reading. I read but not with the passion and voraciousness of my early years. I was working… a lot… romancing, socializing, building a career, and having babies. But then my husband got me a Kindle for my birthday and I read three books in one week.  It felt as though I had found a long lost friend, my love for reading remembered and reignited.

When my children were given reading assignments and I had to practically hog-tie them down just to read a paragraph, I was surprised. I think I expected them to fall instantly in love with words, like I did. But getting them to read a page was torture and I felt like an utter failure. Even though I read to them when they were little, they fought reading tooth and nail. 

But little by little, word by word, it happened. 

We took turns reading to one another, we read every night before bed, we talked about the books they were reading in school, we talked about where they were with their reading levels, and we recognized when they hit their reading goals. Their teachers gave then goals and then rewarded them when they made their goals and I realized that my boys were finally readers! 

They learned to love reading and we were able to cultivate it with time and consistency. My youngest was the student who read the second highest amount of words this past year and my oldest made 200% of his reading goal. I’m so proud of them, but I know that this love has  to continue to be reinforced and fed. I’m planning trips to the library and trying to figure out how to continue to make reading fun.

Through my writing I’ve met some other young readers who share my passion for books and for reading. I love how it bonds us, making us instant friends because we share such a strong love. I love how it opens so many doors and makes me a part of such a strong community. It’s as though we have an unspoken understanding that reading opens our minds to a world where everything is infinitely possible. 

Children who read,  become adults who understand that the world is large and endless, beyond anything we can imagine. I love that children can imagine that. They are our future writers, inventors, teachers, scientists, doctors, and entrepreneurs. Children who read understand that the world is limitless and so are they and I can’t wait until the moment that my children truly understand this. 

I’m incredibly thankful that they are well on their way. 

Butterfly Kisses

My oldest son turned ten today. It’s the day I’ve been dreading because it’s the day he hits double digits, signifying that he’s no longer a boy, but not quite a young man.

He’s so far from being a baby and so much closer to being  an adulthood. Everyone told me to enjoy my boys while they were little because it would all go so quickly and indeed, it has. In the blink of an eye I have a ten year old! TEN! I’ve been his mom for an entire decade, which is completely unbelievable, and the sad thing is, my youngest isn’t too far behind him. They are each one year older this year which means they are another year closer to the day I have to let them go. Even though I know they will always be my babies, l dread the day they will walk away as adults. They are already changing so quickly right before my very eyes, both nearly as tall as I am and their feet almost as big as mine. My oldest has always had the cutest, sweetest, most adorable high-pitched voice. The day puberty sneaks in and steals it replacing it with an awkward, lower pitched one, I’ll probably cry my eyes out.

My children bring out the most sensitive part of me to the point that, I’ll admit it, I cry every night on the eve of their birthday. I realize that declaring this out loud may make you see me as a bit crazy, or strange, or neurotic, but I can’t help myself. Everything that has happened through out the course of my life makes me appreciate every moment I get to have with them. I know how short life is and I’m reminded of it every time I look in the mirror and am reminded that I am no longer twenty-something anymore.

Life flies by without warning at lightning speed. These moments of whimsy and unfettered happiness, every giggle and kiss they offer up reminding me that this won’t last forever. It literally breaks my heart because if I could freeze these moments, I would truly live in them forever, and I would viciously protect them from what lies ahead as they barrel head-on toward adulthood. 

I love that I get to take care of and watch over them. I love that the most difficult decisions they have to face are what to wear and which Legos to play with. I adore their innocence and irreverent sense of humor. And I am thankful that life hasn’t mucked them up, or disillusioned them, and that they still believe that I am cool, smart and beautiful. I am happy that they find joy in the simplest things and that the world hasn’t taught them yet, how to be afraid, or ashamed, or that they should change who they are or what they believe. They are still true to themselves in a way that most of us can’t believe we were ever able to be.

At their ages,  my boys aren’t jaded, hurt, angry, or bitter, their only emotions coming directly from their beautiful little hearts which are guided by truth and perfection. As I watch them grow, I know these days will continue to pass quickly, and as I hold onto them as tightly as I can, it feels futile, like sand sifting through my fingers.

It’s not that I don’t want them to grow up. I knew that having children would result in raising them into adulthood then letting them go on their own. I knew that they would get older and hopefully become functioning, responsible members of society. 

I know that raising them to be capable, strong, compassionate young men is a privilege and an honor. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss their impish little smiles and their sweet unaffected spirits. It doesn’t mean I won’t miss their impulsive hugs and bashful kisses and how they still want to be little boys as they strain unexpectedly toward young adulthood. 

Having a healthy perspective about it all often evades me but I do realize that my oldest is only ten, and there are still several years of childhood yet to come. While I mourn for a childhood that still remains, I realize that my fear for them is still unfounded and that I need to indulge in the joy of cuddling with them today. So I try to live in the moment, never wanting it to end and realizing how lucky I am to get to have these moments at all. And I remind myself to cherish every hug, giggle, and butterfly kiss that they bestow upon me. I can’t promise that I won’t cry on their birthday eves. I’ll probably always cry because I’m a sap like that, and that will probably never change. 

But I do know to be hopeful and happy for the promise of the wonderful young men I know they will someday be. Always hearing their sweet voices in my ears as I feel their butterfly kisses on my cheek.