Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's not just the boys who will be boys anymore

Yesterday my daughter had her friend, who is also a 5-year-old girl, over for a playdate. At one point, I noticed their "playing" got a little out of hand. Translation: They were playing too rough. Instead of playing with dolls and in the makeshift "toy kitchen" set up in the bedroom, they were wrestling on the floor. This wasn't the first time; they've actually done this kind of thing many times before.

One might think this was restlessness at work, but as I quit everything else I was doing to sit on the couch with the newspaper so I could keep a closer eye on them, I couldn't help but wonder if it was my daughter's "tomboy side" shining through. (Before I became pregnant, we'd "play wrestle" on my bed. She'd often bounce on my bed, cry out "let's fight!" and we'd be at it.)

As I watched the girls wrestling, and occasionally called out warnings like "be careful" and "don't put your foot on her throat like that; she'll choke," I started to wonder if my other mom friends with daughters often faced this very same task of worrying over playtime getting too rough. I mean, even after my daughter complained of hurting her wrist (and I told her "don't play too rough"), she went right back into the action all over again.

Of course I can be positive about her having an aggressive side. After all, I know all to well it's a hard world out there and she won't fare very well going into it as a passive, meek little thing everybody pushes around. But I have to wonder also if she's starting to catch on to the many action movies we've watched together where characters like Xena and Lara Croft tackle meanies with fists (and legs) flying and kicking. We'd often cheer them on and say, "She kicked his butt!" I remember reading this magazine article talking about how girls were starting to emulate these positive role models in real life (which is WHY we need to keep having strong female lead characters in movies and TV!) and I wonder if that's starting to rub off on my daughter, too. She may be only 5 years old but, apparently, something has told her that it's GOOD to be physically aggressive and less fearful of a fight (physical or otherwise).

On the other hand, my daughter IS a tomboy, and perhaps maybe that is just part of the "tomboy nature" to wrestle with her friends.

All the same, I realize that the wrestling and rough play can only go so far. I'm against violence period, but I'm not against participating in an activity that challenges physical strength and stamina. This is why I stopped EVERYTHING else to keep a watch over the playing; there's just only so much that's allowed with that kind of activity. I'm still haunted by a newspaper story I read where children were playing and one of them accidentally suffocated because an older child put a pillow over his face and sat on it until he stopped moving. Kids often forget about safety rules when the playing gets too rough and they will also fail to understand just how dangerous or deadly certain activities or things can be. As long as nobody is breaking any legs or trying to pull a cannonball on anyone, though, I have no trouble watching over them while the playing imitates fighting.

It would seem, however, that I am not destined to raise an Amazonian-type of daughter. The girls stopped wrestling to notice I was blowing bubbles. They both tumbled onto the couch, asking for bubblegum. I winced. "This is really hot gum. I don't think you guys will like it."

"I don't care," my daughter's friend said.

My daughter chose the more common negotiating approach: She begged. Folding her hands together in prayer, she whined, "Mama! Mama! PLEEEAAASSSSE?"

I shook my head, getting up from the couch. "All right. If you guys think you can handle it." At least the gum is sugarless, so no guilt pains tugged at me for giving in to their request.

The friend put the gum in her mouth and started chewing. She made a pained face and tears came out of her eyes but she REFUSED to show any signs of weakness as she kept her mouth clamped shut and chewed that spicy gum anyway.

My daughter, on the other hand, proved to be no match for the spicy gum. Not 5 seconds passed after she put it in her mouth that she took off for the trash can.

Friday, May 18, 2007


"Life is not about how we'll be remembered, but how people will remember us."

I don't know who said that quote but I remember reading it one day and just taken aback at how very true that is. How we'll be remembered means very little to certain people we have known in this world, people who knew us personally, professionally and even just barely. These seem to be the opinions which matter the most.

At least, to me, they are.

I mean, what good is it if we die rescuing a child from certain death when we leave behind people who remember us as a cold, dishonest, irritable person?

What good is it if the whole world sees someone in a good light when there are people who knew this person personally and knew how he/she abused their kids, stole from the church, cheated others and did horrible things to family members? That's not a legacy, that's hypocrisy.

Think about it for a minute. Our lives that we live are not so much what we do for ourselves but what we do for other people.

And while people choose to live a dishonest, spiteful and negative life, I am not going to make that choice for myself. Me, I'd rather do GOOD things for people, not bad things. I'd rather help people instead of turning them away. I'd rather talk to people and take time for them instead of being "too busy" or "too insecure" or "too paranoid."

Because, you know what? I would rather take that chance in putting myself and something of myself OUT THERE for others, because I know giving good can only inspire good in others.

In other words, instead of closing myself off from the world -- being angry, spiteful, dishonest, rude, paranoid, bitter, resentful, unforgiving and cruel -- I am going to open myself up and shine. I am going to shine for others, and I can only hope more people will choose to shine, too. Instead of being filled with hate, discrimination and anger, let's try being nice and kind and understanding. Just for once.

I know people are going to say negative things about this outlook. But I will not pay that any mind. I will not allow myself to think as they do or feel as they do, because that is them and this is me. Our lives are all about choices. We can choose to be happy or we can choose to be sad. We can choose to have faith or resign ourselves to giving up. We can choose to hold grudges and be paranoid about people, developing the wrong ideas of others and closing ourselves off from the world, or we can choose to grow. We can choose to find it in ourselves to forgive. We can choose to be a better person, a better friend, and move past all of the weight holding us back.

Sometimes we like to think we are in control of our destinies. We have the power to be a bad person, because that's the only way to come out ahead in the end. WRONG. The bad guys never win. The good guys are those who are the happiest, most peaceful and all the more willing to enhance their lives spiritually, mentally and physically.

So the way I see it, we can either close ourselves off from the world and stay in the dark, or...we can open our hearts, open our minds and open our arms to let our light shine.

And as for me, I'm going to shine on.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Making my dreams come true

I'm a firm believer in living the life you want to live. Even though I am not a famous author, I conduct my writing business as though I am, at least, an IMPORTANT writer. I don't allow room for self-doubt, fear or negativity to get in the way I conduct myself with other authors and editors. I don't consider it luck that I know some pretty darn successful people. I consider it to be a part of my professional life. As it should be.

However, even as I live the life I want to live, some goals have not yet been achieved. In the past, these have been relegated as "dreams." Simply put, a goal I could never, and would never, reach. They are only goals I could only dream about and never achieve.

That is no longer my attitude in life. I was thinking about the title of a friend's book one day: "Dream It, Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True" I kept thinking on the "dream it, do it!" part of the title. I have had dreams, but all I did was keep them as dreams. I never tried to make those dreams come true. And now I'm going to DO IT! I am going to make my dreams a reality. Not sit around and just "dream" about what I want to do. I'm going to DO IT!! It won't be easy. It won't happen fast. And there WILL be low points tempting me to wonder if it's even worth it. But I know these are things I want to happen in my life. These are not just dreams, but goals.

And what type of goals are they?

I want to be a successful career novelist, getting one book after another published. I want to be in the same crowd as Tami Hoag, Mary Higgins Clark and Anne Rice.

How do I get there? I have to write, write, write! Every single day. Never give up in the face of rejection and KEEP AT IT no matter what people say! I'll have to take writing workshops, attend writing conferences and study, study like crazy. But most of all, I need to BELIEVE that I can do it! That I WILL land that book deal with a major publishing house! That I WILL continue to sell books to this publisher and have readers all over the world.

I want to get a college degree.

How do I do this? I have to scout out every single financial assistance program or possibility I can find. I have to be willing to APPLY MYSELF to studying and turning in my assignments. I need to be willing to stand up for myself to resolve my communication barriers. I am deaf and I am the ONLY PERSON who can fight for my rights to have an interpreter or a notetaker in the classroom. If I am able to take courses online in lieu of a notetaker, I need to grab that, too! Look into what communication options are available to me as a deaf student. I also need to ignore all the negative talk from other people. Things like "it's just a piece of paper" and "authors don't need a college degree." Maybe so, but having that degree is VERY important to me and a part of my life. I will be the first person in my family to get a college degree (I am the third of seven). But even more important, it's something I am doing for my children. My kids will see that their mother, who is deaf and who struggles financially, STILL managed to get a college degree despite obstacles! I hope it will inspire them, just as much as reaching that accomplishment will inspire me.

There are, of course, other goals that I have. Those two above are my most important goals to achieve. They are no longer my "dreams." They are my goals.

Other goals I have are: To meet Jonathan Knight (something I am working on right now), travel to Africa, vacation in Hawaii (or a honeymoon?? I would like to have a honeymoon), learn a martial art skill such as Tae Kwon Do, learn how to swordfight, learn how to swim (another goal I am working on -- summer IS coming up!), teach my child (and, later, children) ASL, run in a marathon and be in a movie. Those may not seem so "big" or "huge" to some people, but they are important to me. They are things I have only DREAMED about achieving someday in life. But I won't dream about them any more. I am going to wake up from those dreams and bring those goals into my real life. I am going to make my dreams come true!!!